This assignment is to either critique a piece of art work or talk about something we are passionate about. I am doing both because the piece of art defines something I am passionate about.
When my husband and I met he was in the Air Force. We were stationed in Oklahoma at Tinker Air Force Base. There were only four bases that we could be stationed, Oklahoma, Alaska, Japan and a NATO air base in Germany. The training squadron was at the Oklahoma base and my husband was one of the trainers.
We were there for 7 years. He flew on the AWACS plane. So for years he would get new airman into the training squadron and would train them to be able to do their jobs. My husband spent five tours in Saudi Arabia and one in Turkey before he became an instructor. He spent thousands of hours flying in this type of plane.
Once he became an instructor, there were many students that went through the squadron and spent many hours training and learning from my husband and the other instructors. Then, once they learned how to do their jobs, the students would be sent off to other squadron’s around the world to do what they were trained to do. With all the planes and hours that they spent flying, there were hardly ever any major crashes or lives lost.
The painting below is of one of the planes that was stationed in Alaska. This plane was lost with the entire crew of 24 people on board. Birds flew into the two engines of the plane and on take off it crashed into the side of one of the mountains at the end of the runway. This painting is precious to us because although you can ‘t see, each member of the crew’s name is in the clouds. There is also an angel with her hand over the plane. Yukla 27 was the call sign for the plane and it was lost on 9/22/1995.
My husband lost friends and students that just graduated from training. The impact had a ripple effect through the entire AWACS family. Since it is such a small family as part of the military, you know most all the people in the job.
Years after the crash, I was in Alaska on business and one of the ladies and I were talking about the crash. Her husband was about to retire but was still going to the base where the accident happened. There had been a memorial set for the loss. I was able to go on base with him, get pictures for my husband and there is a second set of photos that’s hanging over the painting. My husband will most likely never see the memorial but is so thankful that I was able to get the additional pictures to go along with his painting.
The military is part of my family since my grandfather served, so I am very patriotic. When this happened it effected so many people. I couldn’t, at the time, understand what it would be like to lose so many young, innocent lives. Now, after losing Big Bubby, I can. I am sure those families to this day still feel the pain of loss. I know that eight months into my grief, it doesn’t feel better.
With the 4th of July this weekend, I ask that you all remember what it is for. Also, remember there are those who are away from their families this weekend fighting for you to be able to celebrate. Some of them won’t come home. Keep those families in your prayers and memories this weekend as you have the freedom to enjoy a day off. To those who are fighting, stay safe and come home to your family safe.