Thursday, July 16, 2009

Coming Home

Today I went to the airport to give a weather briefing to some pilots. This is part of my job as a weather forecaster with the Air Force. At many airports around the country the National Guard and civilian airport are often co-located and so it is here in Austin as well.

When I arrived I got to witness and be part of the welcome for a young man coming home from Afghanistan.

I got to see his family and a good number of Army aviators and soldiers waiting for him. There were even some police and firemen waiting to welcome him home.

I stood in line and watched the small chartered jet taxi down the runway and watched as two fire trucks from the airport sprayed a triumphal arch under which his plane slowly proceeded.

I watched as the hatch opened and soldiers moved forward and reached out their arms toward him and escorted him, slowly yet purposefully, toward his car and his family.

I watched as they gingerly helped him into the car and as they stood at attention and saluted while his luggage, some hanging clothes and his backpack, were placed in the trunk of another car that his family got in.

I watched and saluted as the flag draped coffin drove by
and I knew that there, but for the grace of God go I.
And we all knew that truth and this:
That this young man was coming home.


Anonymous said...

I am sorry for your grief.


eutychus said...

Actually, I did not know that this would be happening and I did not know the young man. But all of us in the military know that it could happen to any of us. Funny how things like this color your day with a heavy coloring of perspective.

eutychus said...

If I remember correctly (and that is never a sure thing) you live on the north island and thus not too affected by the earthquake. I hope that all is well with you and yours in the wake of this event.

Chewy said...

Unfortunately, as a Patriot Guard Rider, I was unable to attend yesterday. However, Services for SPC Joshua R. Farris are tomorrow, 7/18.

I will be glad when there is peace on earth. It is gut wrenching going to these services, but it is my duty. Anything I can do to alleviate any pain to the family is my honor.

SPC Joshua R. Farris, 22, of Smithville, Texas, died on 9 July in Wardak Province, Afghanistan of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. His family has invited the Patriot Guard Riders to help honor his service and ultimate sacrifice for our nation.

Funeral mission staging for: SPC Joshua R. Farris, 22, of Smithville, Texas

Date: Saturday, 18 July 2009

Location: All Faith of the Pines Funeral Home, 110 American Legion Dr., Smithville, TX. Map link:
Directions: Smithville is located approx. 11 miles east of Bastrop, TX. Traveling eastbound on Hwy 71, exit at Hwy 95S/Loop 230, travel south approx. 1 mile. Funeral Home is on the left (east) side of the road. Proceed to the rear of the property behind the building.

0845 - 0915 hrs staging (8:45 - 9:15 am)
0915 hrs briefing
0925 flag line in place
Funeral Service begins at 1000 hrs
Procession to the cemetery near Johnson City following the service

Austin Staging:
For those wishing to ride together from Austin, mission RC Steve von Roeder and Assistant RC Terry Ayers will depart from the 290 Cafe in Manor no later than 0745. The 290 Cafe is located two miles east of the SH130/Hwy 290 intersection on the south side of the road. All are welcome to join in the ride to Smithville.

Weather forecast: Low mid-70s., high upper 90's, 20% change of thunderstorms. Sunscreen recommended. Bring a sufficient amount of drinking water. Hydrate the night before and in the AM. A small non-perishable food ration is also highly recommended.

Parking: Bike parking at the funeral home will be behind the building on the un-paved portion of the property. The area is grass/compacted dirt and is fairly flat. Please follow local ride captain instruction so that there will be room for all bikes and mourner vehicles on site, as parking is limited
Procession: Arrive at the funeral home fully fueled, as the procession to the cemetery is 80 miles with no intermediate stops. Closest fuel is approx. 1/2 mile east of the Hwy 95/71 intersection. This will be a hot 2 hr plus ride, so please consider the condition of yourself and your bike before committing to do it.

Ride Captain: Steve von Roeder,, cell 512-466-5769, home phone 512-837-3843
Asst RC: Terry Ayers, cell 512-925-6101
Flag Wrangler: JC Clausen

alaiyo said...

Beautifully written. Thanks for posting this. And Chewy, thanks for your participation in honoring our fallen heroes.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your thoughts, but happily, though that earthquake, at 7.8, was the strongest anywhere this year, no-one was hurt, and there was no destruction apart from some landslips.

It rattled some dags in Southland, and I felt some aftershocks where I was in Christchurch.

Apparently, Japan was on the phone almost immediately,asking about the situation, so my question is, how long does it take for the tremors to travel around the world?

Was it on US news, or did you find out via your scientific capacity?



(Otepoti is the Maori name for my hometown of Dunedin. Not the Dunedin in Florida.)

Did you enjoy the "Maestro" video?

eutychus said...

Otepoti- Glad to hear things are OK where you are. thanks for the clarification on "Otepoti". So that is your hometown and you reside in Christchurch? If so , then you were closer than I first thought. It came across the headlines that there had been an earthquake and then later that a small Tsunami had been generated. I'm sorry it took so long to inquire about your safety.

Yes, loved the Maestro video. When I first got your message I was at work and the computer nazis won't let us access YouTube from there so I had to wait till I got home this evening. Good stuff, and I will post it.

Anonymous said...

I read that the tsunami was 17 centimetres high.

No, the grandchildren are in Christchurch.

And in case you're wondering, I'm 48. Frontier society, you know. Not much else to do ;-)

Own home in Dunedin. My husband, at home, felt the original shake, but I, visiting the darling grandies, missed it.



eutychus said...

Otepoti- With the gandchildren about its no wonder you didn't feel this particular shake. I'm sure the house was already trembling. :-)

Regarding the Frontier, sounds like a Jerry Lee Lewis song- "Whole lot of shakin' goin on."
;) Sounds like my kinda place. lol

We got a late start. 14 and 9 and I've got a few years (hopefully) before any additional footsteps are about the house. In case you were wondering, I'm 45. :-)

Chewy said...

BTW, we had the service for SPC Joshua R. Farris yesterday. There was a large turnout of family, friends, military, and approximately 60 PGR members. We formed a flag line at the funeral home prior to the service, then after the service we escorted SPC Farris from the funeral home at Smithville to “Johnson City, Texas, approximately 100 miles. It was a beautiful sunshiny day, about 100 degrees.

LEO did a phenomenal job, leading the precession, seamless handoffs through many different jurisdictions, blocking off every intersection. All traffic pulled over, most out of their vehicles, with either hand on their heart, or rendering a salute to the flags displayed on the 50+ motorcycles in formation. The entire precession must have been a mile long for the trip.

It was tough, shed a lot of tears the entire trip, people on both sides of the road at multiple spots with a flag, a sign, and a salute. In one spot, Dripping Springs, TX, there we so many people on both sides of the street, they crowded out on the street holding flags and signs (all ages) until there was only one lane of traffic on a 5 line road.

Again at the cemetery we formed a flag ring, leaving an opening for view of the 3 gun salute for the family and friends. Taps is always a heartbreaker. Proud to have honored this soldier who gave it all for Freedom.

Otepoti said...

Chewy, I apologize for taking the comments off-topic on a serious post. I'm glad it went smoothly.

Best to all.

Chewy said...

NP, just wanted to provide an update. Glad your world quit shaking and all is well.

Big Chewy

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