It took me a second or two for my eyes to adjust to all the polished brass on their uniforms. On June 5, these two gentlemen entered the AeroKnow Museum office as I sat at the computer, and I did not recognize the new-issue dress uniforms. “We’re Army,” one responded when I asked. They explained they were flying out to Washington, DC for an awards ceremony, and from their demeanor, it was obvious they would be on the receiving side of it. I was surprised when one explained that the awards would be for combat action in Iraq. Our involvement in that war zone seems so long ago, even though it obviously is not.
They were visiting to look at the models, and were surprised when I steered their attention to the framed fabric appreciation of Springfield Air Rendezvous (airshow that was a 24-year tradition in these parts). They were unaware of that unit’s time in country, thought it was the first Army National Guard Unit to fly CH-47 Chinooks over there. For this blog posting I set it on a chair here to give you a better view of what they saw.
I did not ask their names, or the nature of their awards because I did not want to appear TOO interested. I enjoyed talking with them during their 5 minutes in the WELCOME Room, answered their questions, pointed out the models of US Army aircraft on display and gave them the color brochure as they departed for the lobby. Before they left, I asked if I could shake their hands, and I did. And I thanked them for their service.
They were the only ones of the probably 10 soldiers in the lobby, conversing quietly, waiting for their ride.
Soon after the C-12 transport arrived, the I asked the pilot if I could take some pictures of the troops as they walked out to the airplane. “You’ll have to ask the General,” he said smiling. “I”ll send him over.” When he arrived at the entrance to the office, I started to introduce myself, and he said, “We met last month when I toured your museum. Sure, you can take all the pictures you like.”
It’s nice to have friends in the Army!
After taking a few more pictures, I returned to my office and did not watch the departure. I had learned from the museum visitors that they were from the Chicago area, and I was surprised that no civilian family members were in the lobby to see them off. I had the impression this was simply part of life in the US Army: dedicated men and women living the life they want to live. Not a big deal.
That’s what makes this remarkable chance encounter all the more memorable!