October 16, 2010. Red Out Around the World. Wear Red! Be Loud! Beat Texas!! As a college football fan, Saturday is a big day. Despite Texas’ disappointing 3-2 record, Saturday is still a day of redemption and an opportunity for Nebraska to establish themselves as a legitimate contender for the national championship. You know, though, when I look back on the days that are really special to me, the days that I can still remember as if they were yesterday, there is not a football game in the bunch.
October 16, 2007. My daughter, Savanna, was born six weeks premature. Rose suffered from preclancia and for both her health and that of the baby, Savanna was taken by c-section very early that morning. She spent the next several weeks in an incubator in ICU at Mary Lanning Memorial hospital and several weeks after that on an apnea monitor at home. Savanna has graciously agreed to celebrate her 3rd birthday on Sunday so dad can watch the game. Thank you Baby.
March 19, 2003. The U.S. launches combat operations to commence Operation Iraqi Freedom. From the Tactical Operations Center for Apache Troop, 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry, 3rd Infantry Division, I interrupted the Troop Commander’s rallying cry with “GAS! GAS! GAS!” and 150 soldiers scrambled to dawn chemical protective gear. The next 6 months are some of the most intense and, in some ways, the most disappointing of my life. I journaled during my tour and may share them on this blog someday, but for now, I refer you to Walt Rodgers‘ Sleeping with Custer and the 7th Cavalry.
September 11, 2001. OK, this might be a memorable day for a lot of Americans. After an early morning Troop run, I reported to UCOFT (Unit Conduct of Fire Training) for simulated heavy armored, force on force manuevers. UCOFT is the worlds most impressive video game. Multiple consoles designed to replicate the M1A1 Abrams and M2A2 Bradley consume a warehouse. Drivers, Gunners and Commanders assume their stations at the console to simulate combat operations. This was my first experience with the UCOFT simulator and as I was still familiarizing myself with the “game”, I shot and killed my platoon sergeant. It was funny at the time, but moments later, we were assembled in the training room to receiving the briefing of the events that had occurred in New York just moments ago. The soberness of the situation and realization of the role that we were destined to play over the next couple of years took hold.
November 2, 1976. The very first presidential election that I can remember was between Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. I was 7 years old and my 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Bentz had given us maps to color in as the election results came in that night. My parents forced me to bed probably around 11:00 pm with several western states still to be colored. I didn’t learn that Carter had won the election until the next morning. I cried.
March 30, 1981. I was in 6th grade the day President Ronald Reagan was shot. One of my classmates was called out of class because her mother had called the school. When she returned, we were told what had happened. We were escorted to the media room where we spent the rest of the school day watching events unfold on the news.
January 6 – 7, 1997. I left Blue Hill, Nebraska en route to my new job in Thomasville, Georgia. My 1992 Ford Ranger was packed to the hilt. Before I could get out of town, I had to go down to the local Co-op to have a tire repaired. With windchill, it was 65 degrees below zero that morning. I reached Paducah, Kentucky that night. Snow and freezing rain had fallen in northern Alabama. Southerners are not accustomed to slick roads and hundreds of Alabama motorists found their way into ditches. By the time I reached Thomasville, it was in the low 70s and sunny. I really liked this place.
Memorial Weekend, 1989. Big plans with friends and a trip to Lake McConaughy ended with an entire keg of flat beer, 60 mph winds, a sunken boat, the bed of my pick-up filled with water and an encounter with Hells Angels on water skis. A great weekend none the less.
April 17th, 1987. My first car back in high school was a 1970 Mercedes-Benz 220. It was unique which I appreciated, but it only had a 4 cylinder engine and was extremely light. It was horrible on icy roads and, as a 17-year-old kid, so was I. I got caught by the Easter Blizzard of 1987 and ended up stranded in the middle of nowhere trapped for three days and four nights with an “X”-girlfriend. The nine months spent in Bosnia and six months in Iraq were much less traumatic.
Several more days are etched in my memory, but most far too somber for me to venture with in this post.