Sunday, June 12, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Kyle's birthday last month

He found Fig Newtons along his treasure hunt (and obviously we like to watch "House"). Unfortunately Kyle's big present, a new guitar, was delayed from the manufacturer so it didn't arrive until last week.
Seventeen candles and a carrot cake with yummy cream cheese frosting. I was a little "boo hoo" because next year he'll be at college for his big 18th birthday and I won't be able to celebrate with him.
And so begins the Burke kid birthday season marathon.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Still Here

Still in Poland. Still waiting for Tim's next assignment to be released. Still waiting for the rest of Kyle's college decision letters to arrive (UT Austin is a yes). Kind of frustrating to be on the brink of life-changing choices but not know what those choices are. Makes it impossible to do anything other than wait.

And wait.

And wait.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A new runner in the family!

I have a new convert! Michael and I were talking about what after-school activity in which he was going to participate in the third trimester. He wanted to do a sport and with tennis, softball, and track-and-field to choose from, he decided on track-and-field. Of course I am thrilled- what parent isn't secretly pleased when their child pursues a similar interest?
So we started with some slow walk-jogs around the neighborhood lasting around 20 minutes. Then the snow and temps fell again so he moved inside to the treadmill. He has faithfully done his Tuesday/Thursday after-school runs and then again on Sat/Sun mornings. I love it when we run together outside; so much fun to share an activity and have that time together to talk. I think Michael is really looking forward to the start of track and field in March. I'd love to get Katy and her long legs out onto the road, too!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Twenty Years on...

Twenty years ago today I had my first mission in Operation Desert Storm. At the time I was a Captain in the US Air Force, stationed in Germany, but on duty in Bahrain. Three days later I ejected out of the F-4G when there was no more fuel for flying and the runway was invisible in the fog (see photo from the next day). The ejection story is long and can be posted another time. Suffice it to say for this blog that I think about the ejection if not weekly, then monthly; certainly any time I hear of other fighter pilots ejecting or crashing. But, back to the anniversary of the first day of the war. Some guys wrote diaries of their experiences, which in retrospect was brilliant. My memories of the events are faded and fading, although the experience is imprinted fairly deeply. There are individual experiences that standout and they tie the overall memory tighter. I remember being told to return to Germany from leave in England. I remember arriving in Bahrain and the scorching heat of September. I remember sleeping under a desk on the first night as the chaos was coalescing in a flying unit. I remember my 30th birthday in Oct 1990 celebrated at a pool somewhere between the air base and the capital city of Manama; especially that Debbie has sent cake mix and one of the guys had the cake prepared. I remember being downtown in Manama at a hotel bar on the roof; a place described in a Ludlum novel I had recently read. I remember Christmas in the dormitory; waking up amongst seven other sleeping warriors and quietly opening the packages from home. I remember the frustration that others expressed when the start of the war was delayed from early January 1991. I remember the gathering of the crews for the announcement of the start of the war from the Wing Commander. I remember stepping into the life support shop to get dressed for the walk out to the jets; in the previous 40 or so sorties during Desert Shield there was the regular fighter pilot jocularity. That first night (well, morning) in life support there was an eerie silence, brought on by anxiety I suppose, as everyone dressed and stepped. It was a time to focus on the mission and do our job. I remember being frustrated at not being able to see the airborne surface-to-air missiles after the sun came up; it was so easy at night to see the missiles and AAA (see video at bottom). I remember the rhythm of life as the war kicked off--for we night flyers: 2000 wake-up, 2200 arrive at squadron after "breakfast", 2300 mission briefing, 0100 take-off, fly until 0530, land just after sunrise, debrief, back to the dormitory and tent city for "dinner" at around 0800; then some normal downtime activities like exercising, board cards, writing letters, reading mail, reading books, watching a movie; then into bed at 1200 for 8 hours of 'sleep'; followed by the same daily routines; six days on, one off...for 40+ days. For those want a more detailed story of the war from an F-4G perspective, check out "Magnum: The Wild Weasels in Desert Storm" by Brick Eisel and James Schreiner. The authors do a very nice job telling our stories, to include my ejection story.

It's unbelievable to think the US Air Force has been at war since 1990, non-stop: the no-fly zones in Iraq, the events in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, all with pretty much the same equipment as we had back then. So, without too far going into a "It's a Wonderful Life" segue, it's been a quarter of my available life (probably) since the war started. My family has grown by three (now extraordinary teenagers), my gorgeous wife still likes to hang around me, my oldest has graduated from college, gotten married to a fantastic woman, and he is currently a Captain in the Air Force Reserve. Since 1990, we have have lived in Germany, New Hampshire, Arizona, Italy, Texas, Alabama, Greece, Virginia, and Poland. My career in the Air Force is winding down as I approach the 30 year mark next year (2012). Soon I will need to transition into something new!