1/28/86 - Lest We Forget

Lake City SC apparently is having a memorial event for McNair:

http://www.thestate.com/news/state/south-carolina/article56958263.html

I was in high school in chemistry class and the teacher had set up a TV for us to watch.

I was in seventh grade, and several teachers got our classes together to watch the launch on television. When we realized what had happened, it was so quiet. Several people, teachers and students, cried.

One of my 6th grade teachers had gotten fairly far along in the application process to be the teacher on the flight.

I was sitting at my desk which was next to a large window facing the courthouse square in a small old town not yet touched by progress. My co-worker’s husband called with the news which left me “oh, ok”-ish.

What really got to me, though, were the two courthouse employees solemnly lowering the courthouse flag.

I didn’t have tv, so it was quite some time before I saw the video. I guess I was numbed by all the newspaper pictures, because the video seemed more movie than real life.

However, just thinking of the scene on the courthouse lawn still gets to me.

I was in my high school accounting class. My brother was really into space and the space program, and I remember him being devastated.

The Challenger explosion is one of a handful of national tragedies I lived through that is ingrained permanently in my memory. The feeling of pride and wonder in yet another exciting NASA mission, turned instantaneously into horror and sorrow is unforgettable.

I was driving south on Roosevelt Blvd. right in front of NAS Jax when it happened. Small world. Small, sometimes tragic, world.

I was a few months old.

I was ten, and my class had just gotten back from a field trip and we were all sitting in the cafeteria listening to the launch being broadcast over the PA system. I remember not being exactly sure what had happened, I just knew it was something bad.

My sister was seven, and she was home sick from school that day. Mom was home with her and they saw it live on TV. My sister got really scared by it, for months afterward she was having bad dreams and drawing pictures of the shuttle exploding.

I was 24 and had just finished a graveyard shift and was already in bed - we were in California. My wife woke me up to tell me. Total shock and disbelief.

Fast forward ten years to 1/28/1999. Super Bowl XXX was played in Tempe, AZ. My brother flew F-16s out of nearby Luke AFB, and so did Dick Scobee’s son, Rich Scobee. Many months before the Super Bowl my brother realized the game was going to be on the tenth anniversary. My brother initiated the idea, climbed the USAF chain of command and also contacted the NFL. On game day, the Missing Man flyover before the game were F-16s from Luke AFB. Rich Scobee was there, he pulled up and out of the formation. He was the missing man.

Man, I’m getting choked up right now as I type this. Must be getting soft as I get older.

My brother was on the sidelines that day with a free pass from the NFL as a Thank You.

LA Times article: http://articles.latimes.com/1996-01-24/news/mn-28157_1_super-bowl