Heroes Past, and Present
Heroes Past, and Present
Yesterday George Herbert Walker Bush, a former Naval Aviator was being eulogized at the National Cathedral. At the same time Search and Rescue were flying over the inky seas off the coast of Japan looking for the 7 Aircrew of a two plane mis-hap….While our nation mourns the passing of one person, the families and friends huddle in the quiet hope that our nation doesn’t add more heroes to mourn.
By all accounts GHWB was a great man. Not defined by his position as one of the world’s leaders, but his relationships with those around him. It was in his willingness to take a moment and rejoice in the humanity of people. This trait is missing in so many of our citizens and our elected leaders. He connected to those around him, and even in his death found a way to build a bridge. It says a lot about his priorities, and willingness to set aside personal feelings for the greater good.
We should miss him. It’s rare that we have people willing to work for the greater good, while putting their personal feelings aside. It’s not the job, but the outcome and the honor of doing what is right. That’s not GHWB the politician, it is Lieutenant JG Bush.
Right now, there are 5 missing Marines who typify those traits we admire about GHWB. They are selfless, and willing to set aside personal feelings to accomplish something bigger than themselves. They embody the trait of confident humility. Like GHWB they possess the quiet confidence of success, and humility of knowing they don’t have all the answers. These Marines are leaders, and they work for the greater good.
The eulogy of GHWB recounted memories and interactions that on the surface were normal, but in hindsight were so much more. The families of the missing Marines are doing the same thing. Theirs are seemingly benign, but just as important.
Recalling the standard conversation about the night flight schedule was something like, “No, don’t worry about dinner. I’ll grab something before the brief.” Maybe the admonishment, “don’t rip off the velcro patches in the bedroom, and please close the door to the bathroom when you change.” If there are kids to consider, the warning is doubly stated. Houses in Iwakuni are very small, and there isn’t much to keep out the noise. It’s a small base, in a small rural prefecture. Noise travels.
In the eulogy today, W talked about his final phone call with his dad and the final “I love you.” Maybe during that part of his eulogy, there was another phone call. The ring of a Blackberry, the real designator of Command structure. There is never good news when it rings in the middle of the night. The muffled “okay,… what time,…did you call the XO, chaplain…., Okay, yeah I’ll call the boss (everyone has a ‘boss’)…. Yeah, I’m on my way in.”
The chilled soul, that no amount of coffee brewed at 0300 can warm. While the green side goes about their procedures, the spouse side starts theirs. The to-go thermos of scalding hot coffee, garners the somber response, “I’ll call you later when there’s more information. I love you, I gotta go.” You always hope that everyone hears a final “I love you.”
The Bush family had a luxury of time with GHWB. He was deteriorating, but it was slow. There was no unexpected full stop with the knock on the door. In the early morning hours in Japan, there were 7 doors that had unwanted knocks. While the friends and family of GHWB reminisced about his life, seven other families were doing the same thing. Tonight the Bush family goes to sleep with the sorrow of missing their person. This morning in Japan with the rescue of 2 Marines, 5 families will awake with the heartache of worry for theirs.
During his time in the Navy, GHWB was dropping bombs on the Japanese in the Pacific Theater. As President he was a man of building bridges, and I can only imagine how he felt during his first official visit for a State Funeral in February of 1989. Today the Japanese are at the forefront of search and rescue of the downed Marine Aviators.
“We are thankful for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s efforts as they immediately responded in the search and rescue operation,” the Marines said.
A spokesman for the Japanese coastguard said six vessels and an aircraft had been dispatched separately to assist in the rescue efforts.
Bridges are important, and the ones we share with Japan will ensure that if the Japanese Search & Rescue recovers the aircrew, they will be treated well and brought back to the base. The rescue of GHWB in the Pacific was different, though dramatic. Let us hope and pray that the remaining 5 Marines find themselves as lucky. We don’t have enough confidently humble heroes to spare, we need them.