Here's A Thought To Take With You
Aero-Views By Kevin R.C. "Hognose" O'Brien
(Editor's Note: Aero-News first ran this
article on Veterans Day 2005, in honor of the men and women who
have served with honor... and those who serve so valiantly today...
in the armed forces of the United States of America. It was
relevant then... and with each year that has passed since, it is
even more so.)
Today, November 11, 2008, is Veterans Day in the United States.
The date was the Armistice date of the War to End All Wars. (They
were wrong about the name).
On the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th
month of 1918, the guns that had rumbled for over four years fell
silent, and a shocked continent began to bind its wounds.
The USA came late to that war, a war triggered by a collapse of
the balance of power between European despots. Our forefathers said
that balance did not concern us. The president who had "Kept Us Out
of War," as his campaign literature boasted, was re-elected. But
the USA came to the war nonetheless.
In war, the other guy gets a vote, too.
Every nation recovered from the war in its own way; the United
States interred an Unknown Soldier, and began to celebrate
Armistice Day, which in 1953 became Veterans Day. In the USA,
Veterans Day in November celebrates living veterans, and Memorial
Day in May remembers their fallen comrades, and the fallen of past
In practice, most Americans think about the dead and the living
on both occasions, at least for a moment. The living, after all,
cannot purge their minds of memories of the dead.
Our aviation world is full of veterans, even more so than our
lives in general. The ranks of pilots, maintainers, engineers and
designers, support personnel, and even entrepreneurs are leavened
by those who took some time out of their teens and twenties -- and
in some cases, thirties and forties -- to wear the uniform of these
They were brave and not so brave, strong and not so strong, true
believers and skeptical doubters. They went to war in Mustangs,
Liberators (below), Dauntlesses; A-1s and F-86s and B-26s; O-2s and
F-100s and UH-1s. They're still going to war in F-16s, F-18s,
H-60s. They hauled trash in C-47s, and today their grandsons, and
granddaughters -- there's a change for you -- haul trash in C-17s.
They taught flying in muscular Stearmans, lithe T-38s, comical
They breathed dry oxygen through chapped, cold lips at 29,000
feet, or fetid jungle air through runny noses at treetop level.
They were the navigators, bombardiers, gunners, and guys in
back. They were crew chiefs, avionics techs, armorers, weather
They were the guys on the ground, living in holes and looking at
the sky and praying our planes would come on time.
They were warriors. They are veterans. What they have done is
written in the pages of history.
May we earn this.