Wednesday, November 11, 2015
A Word To A Few Good Men
Proud to have served with some wonderful men and women in the United States Air Force so many years ago. There are three good men I think of often, and I would like to send a long overdue thank you to them.
As a 20 year-old, and the only female air traffic controller stationed at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines in 1970-71, I never would have gotten through that time without two wonderful senior military personnel...
To SMSGT George Goodnight and his lovely wife: I owe you my Air Traffic Control career for having faith back then (before Women's Lib) to believe that a woman could actually do the job, while everyone else didn't believe it was possible. George, as the Radar Approach Chief, you took me into the Radar Approach Control when the Tower Chief absolutely refused to have a woman in "his" control tower, and I am still thankful for that even after all these many years have passed.
To MSGT Peasley: At the time, I was too young to know how lucky I was to be a member of your crew. You took a lonely unaccompanied assignment for a year and a half so your teenage daughter and son would not have to spend time in a rough country that did not seem to cherish life as much as you did. You always made sure you roped the younger members of your crew into playing cards with you all day on our day off. We called it "babysitting MSGT Peasley" because we were young and just dumb enough to think you needed our company. Years later, I realized you sacrificed your precious day off each week to keep us out of trouble in such a lurid environment. No one on your crew ever showed up late for a shift, and we were all so much better off with you looking out for us during our tour of duty there. I can still hear your deep voice say "There is no doubt in my military mind that..."
As an instructor, a medical emergency in 1973 was overlooked by everyone, except for one supervisor...
To SMSGT Summers: As the head of the Air Traffic Control School at Keesler AFB, you had a lot of people to keep track of and a lot of responsibility. The day I walked down the hallway in mid January 1973, you could have walked past me and kept going. Most people were avoiding conversation with my husband and me after we suffered a miscarriage on New Year's Eve, 16 days prior. Instead you took the time to sit me down and ask what was wrong. As you put it "...you look white as a sheet." When I told you that Dr Martin at the OB-GYN clinic kept telling me there were no complications from the miscarriage, you followed your instincts and called in a favor from your friend, the clinic's head doctor, asking him to see me personally that afternoon. You immediately sent a substitute down to cover my classroom and got me to the clinic. Within an hour, I was in surgery for an emergency D&C to remove the unnoticed twin that died, but my body hadn't been able to reject. The surgical doctor said you probably saved my life that day as, without immediate surgery, gangrene or bleeding to death were possibilities. At the very least he said, I might not have been able to conceive children. That's why I feel my daughters would not be here without your quick action.
So on this Veterans Day, as I think about valor and honor during war, I realize that many small every day actions are often overlooked. I wonder, as always, what happened to the three of you. I hope you know that, as military leaders, you made a big difference in many young lives.