It was a single-ship mission, ferrying an Army photographer around the Ft. Richardson, Alaska operations area. A week later there appeared in flight operations an envelope from the photographer with pictures he had taken, unbeknownst to us, of each crew member.
He was taking shots in all directions, so catching us unawares was not difficult. We were concentrating on getting the aircraft where he needed without endangering him, it, or us. It is one of my favorite photographs of me.
The photograph was taken in 1977. I can tell by the captain bars on my flight suit. That was the year I signed out of the Army after four and a half years on active duty. After that, I kept flying with the Alaska National Guard for another couple years while working for the FAA in Nome.
While I was in seminary after the time in Nome I did two summer assignments as an Army chaplain candidate. But I decided I was carrying too much commissioned officer baggage to do well going back on active duty as a chaplain. I resigned my commission in 1985.
I remember my fellow pilots and crew members. I miss the teamwork and camaraderie. Would you trust your life to the people you work with? We did so every day. We didn’t have anyone shooting at us, but the mountains and box canyons and glaciers will kill you just as dead as bullets.
The only thing guaranteed when you you take off is that you will come down again. When the mission involves flying in hazardous conditions, the coming-down is not always kind. I lost fellow pilots and crew members in Alaska.
Rest in peace, my friends. You served well, and you are not forgotten.