It's been quiet here at ThunderTales as I've been on the road at another year's River Rat Reunion. This time it was at the Wigwam Resort in beautiful Litchfield Park AZ, just a hop, skip and high-speed taxi down the road from Luke AFB, home of Viper school.
The usual suspects showed up, a bunch of fat, gray/bald, old men wearing name tags of people who I'm certain are a young, healthy, handsome and mission-ready as I am. But, when queried they knew the right answers to the tough questions to verify that they really were who the tag said they were. There also were a reassuring bunch of younger generation warriors grabbing the gauntlet to carry on the traditions for future generations. The organization is in good hands.
Conversations resumed as though not another year had passed. Long-lost Rats reappeared and folks I hadn't seen for decades proved they still are as great in person as I thought they were. There were a few of my old students from the pilot training days who seem to have survived my instruction and gone on to become highly skilled fighter pilots, even rising to the general officer ranks. There were some folks I'd flown Downtown with on hunter/killer missions who showed up for the first time. And one of the fighter-chicks that I've been friends with for at least ten years is about to become the first female Viper squadron commander--and deservedly so. She's fully qualified for the task.
Damn but it's good to be among such great Americans. It almost makes you able to forget for a few days the ignorant scum disrupting traffic on the streets of Chicago this week without a big picture clue.