Monday, November 29, 2004

Great Weekend.

What a great weekend. Storing up energy by holding down the couch on Friday, I was privy to a celebration for a great friend's birthday on Saturday. Jimmy, also known as 'Rock' because you'd swear boulders came with his shirts, turns 30-something tomorrow - but Tuesday's aren't a natural celebration day. Later this winter, Rock and Joni will be adding a new little Rockzilla [it's a boy]. The general consensus is that Jimmy Squared is going to be born with a 6 pack - of abs. The group was split on whether or not he'd hatch from an egg. Just kidding Joni.

I had the pleasure of hanging out with my great friend JJ and his lovely girlfriend Rhonda, along with 'Zoo' and also-lovely Jen, recently engaged. Congratulations again! Let's get together in less than the 364 days it took this last time. Bad things could happen if I post my cell number, so e-mail me.

Also present was Rock's friend Chris and his buddy, Mike, a guy who's got so much to brag about (but doesn't). I need to preface the rest of this post by admitting that my conversation with Mike occurred in a noisy bar [Cafe Havana], after a small flotilla of cocktails and just before closing time. In short, the digital recorder in my mind may have had some transcription problems and portions of it may have been lost in translation. I don't want to mischaracterize anything Mike told me, so I'll keep it brief. Mike, if you're reading, I appreciate the latitude, please correct me if any of this is wrong.

Mike is a Marine. He flies the Marine equivalent of the Army's Chinook helicopter, the Boeing CH-47. The large, twin-rotored platform is generally used for troop deployments and large supply drops. I was happy that I was one in a long list of people who've thanked Mike for his service. Because of his humility, I was able to tell Mike that I think what he's doing is larger and more important thing than what he refers to as 'his job.'

After graduation from Minnehaha Academy in '92, Mike got involved in ROTC and went to Texas A&M. Realizing success in studying finance, he decided he'd rather fly helicopters than do what a degree in finance would allow. The first in his family to join the military, there weren't footsteps to follow in or a tradition to be met. Mike felt compelled by a sense of duty duty to country and a fancy to fly, yet he couldn't quite place it's genesis. At the expiration of his first 4-year contract with the Marines, Mike signed on for another 4 years - wanting the chance to return to Iraq - where he'd first experienced combat and where he's lost a handful of friends. The inferno inside him is as strong as ever and his focus acute. He's already anticipating his June redeployment while enjoying the holidays with his family.

Knowing who's side the MSM is on has kept the troop's morale high. A keen awareness to of their job and an understanding that the severity and visibility of their success is dominated by the MSM's highlight of daily casualties has kept frustration at arm's length. Mike was encouraged to see so many cars with "Support the Troops" ribbon/magnets.

Keep fighting the good fight, Mike. Our prayers are with you and your brothers and sisters. We're blessed to have you live among us and we're thankful for your sacrifices. Coming from a civilian, I hope the following still has merit: Semper Fi.

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