Those People who Protect Us

by lewwaters

By John Jenkins

I can’t help but love life. Sitting here on a picnic table with a F15 behind me, another one in front of me and yeah another one just over there. You are asking yourself “Just where were you again”. Having a Christmas “Fooder” as they call it. A“Fooder” is when this group of people gets together in the hanger and let down just a little. They let down from the intense stress of Protecting our Freedoms. This group is the Portland Air National Guard. They are the 142ndFighter Wing, and the 123rd Fighter Squadron, otherwise known as the Redhawks. These people are some of the most polite and professional folks I have ever met. And, it’s not just because I am a face they do not recognize. Or, should I say one they have seen but don’t see often.

Today’s “Fooder” all prepared by the Fighter Wing, included Braised Beef, Caesar Salad, some kind of Green Beans with something, and an assortment of cheeses, celery, carrots all the things to make one happy. Dessert was just as fun and with the season of course what you’d expect Pumpkin pie and whipped cream.

While sitting here I am at complete comfort in knowing these are “Those People”. A mix of men and women, young and old, low ranking enlisted to the big man himself…a General no less. A full blown General in the Air Force. This is a guy the whole fighter wing likes. They liked him when he was the air wing commander. They simply like this guy. He is a very accomplished man of color. Not that that matters. But it says something. You can achieve whatever you want in this country by hard work and determination. This is as Lew Waters would say “A boots on the ground” guy. He is a fighter pilot. And when he shows up in his regular clothes he is one of the guys. Only exception they display total respect. It’s the kind of respect you get when you are accomplished and respect everyone below and above.

Over there is a full Colonel not a light-Colonel. Light Colonel, what is that all about? All the fighter jocks are in their flight gear. Last time I was here they called one of them Mr. Oregon. His wife was Miss Oregon. I thought that was clever and just the kind of kidding around you’d expect.

There are other officers and they are mingling around just as casually. As I have sat here I have talked with a host of “These People”. This isn’t the first “Fooder” I have been at. I have been lucky enough to be able to prepare the food, serve and cleanup. And because of my involvement I have been rewarded with standing on the flight line watching F15’s blast by. Been on a refueling mission. Stood in the same room with a jet engine at full military throttle. But this isn’t about me this is about “Those People”.

These are the people who protect our freedoms every single second, every single minute of every day. Most were here when September 11, 2001 happened. One person told me they had planes in the hanger being worked on and in various stages of maintenance. This group had em ‘up and all of their planes were flying while others were still figuring things out.

I am at home now. Safe and warm. But there are a bunch of folks still at the base. And they will be there on Christmas day too. You see, the protection of our freedom has no holidays. Their families come 2nd to your freedom. Some have sacrificed relationships. It’s part of the territory with this kind of job.

All I ask is this Christmas when you tip your mug of whatever, you think about what I have written and silently thank all those serving in uniform.

This is a great country. Let’s not forget that.

3 Comments to “Those People who Protect Us”

  1. Very vivid and very moving, John! Thank you!

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  2. John, Thanks for all you do. As a former military person, I know how much what you do means to those you honor. Maybe if we worked a littler harder you would be sitting in one of Vancouver City Council’s Seats of Authority, But the difference would be you would be Sharing it with us.

    Merry Christmas and God Bless you.

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  3. Thank you for the wonderful post John. It is a great story before Christmas.. 🙂

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