BRIDGESA COMMENTARY BY DOUG MEYER
Tuesday November 11th, 2008
A Veterans Day Story
I made a new friend the other day at my usual morning coffee BS session. This is 4 or 5 guys with too much BS built up who need to unload every morning or so, (you know how it goes). Talk revolves around the usual essential topics-motorcycles, politics, women, airplanes, you all know the routine. One day last week one of the guys, who is a pilot for a major airline and currently on medical leave, brought along his friend, Mike. At one point during the cross talk we learned that Mike was a pilot as well. Mike and his friend were talking about the vagaries of the FAA and their medical criteria to remain active. Mike mentioned a back surgery in his past and I asked about the scenario. He said it was from the last time he ejected from his jet. “Last time?” I queried. “Well yeah, I shot myself down that time”. “How many times were there?” “Three”, he says, “one over North Viet Nam, one nearly over Thailand, and the last one over Nevada. That time I was testing a missile at China Lake and the rocket motor malfunctioned and blew the right wing off my F-18. I went into an inverted flat spin, passed out from G-LOC and finally the plane broke up. I never regained consciousness, but when the nose came off my seat fired and the chute automatically deployed. They say I took one swing under the chute and hit the ground. After an induced coma and lots of surgeries, I woke up months later and thought it was the day of the flight.”
“Holy crap”, I say. “What about the others?” He said nothing specific about the first shoot down, (I guess it was “routine”)but on the second, he related that he had to run through the Thai jungle for nine days to avoid capture. “Jeeze,” I said, “you’re almost as bad a pilot as John McCain!”
“Not really,” Mike says, “I could just run faster”.
Later (today) I was discussing this with another of the guys. I asked if he knew about Mike’s story and he said, “No he’s just a golf buddy. It never came up”.
You just never know when you’re sitting next to an honest to God Hero, do you?
To all these guys and women, from my late Dad, who recorded the Japanese surrender on the Missouri, to Brian’s dad who at 91 is a Pearl Harbor survivor, to Chris’s dad, who was also at Pearl, and to our brothers in Iraq and Afghanistan, to all that have served for us, I say Thank You. We owe you everything.
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Doug Meyer has been working with race engines professionally and as a hobby for the past 45 years. He has built engines for everything from dragbikes and cars to outboard race boats, from the famous Can-Am sports cars and an F-1 car to motorcycle streamliners. He spent many years as a professional race team member and engine builder. Everything from nitrous to nitro, Doug's had his hands in it. He has set 16 Bonneville speed records...
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All photographs by Doug Meyer unless otherwise noted
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