When I write for my blog, there are topics I rarely touch on, and when I do, I tread lightly. There are other opportunities to write what’s on my mind when I want to tread heavily, but – for me – this isn’t the place to share everything.
My time (a lifetime ago, or so it seems) in the military is one of those topics.
Current events being what they are, though, I found myself thinking yesterday and now writing today about a book that sits on a shelf in my bedroom. I haven’t opened it in years, but there’s an image on one of the pages that’s still as clear in my mind as it was the first time I saw it.
The book is a “cruise book.” A cruise book is to a long-term deployment (a six-month western Pacific “WESTPAC” cruise, in this case) as a yearbook is to a year in high school: lots of pictures and lots of memories.
The cruise was in the mid-80s, and I was deployed with a Marine Corps Fighter Attack squadron as a radar and weapons system specialist. The photo, taken by one of our aircrew members, is of an F-4S Phantom escorting a Soviet Tu-95 “Bear” bomber somewhere over the Pacific off the coast of Japan. Two airplanes, and two aircrews, both flying what they certainly thought of as deterrence missions.
Nearly forty years later, I’m more than ready for plowshares.
I wish we could put down the swords.