Blue Angels Time again!

My family has such a wonderful history with the Blue Angels. Just last summer I got to take my family on an Epic Roots Road Trip, which had to include the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola, HOME of the Blue Angels. They have been a part of my life since I was 5 or 6 years old…before they became really famous.

My Dad took me to see them practice at Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego (well, the Marines will claim it now). There was no crowd out on that field on top of that giant mesa just east of UCSD in La Jolla. Just my Dad and me, up on his shoulders.

I’ve written about this before and I put the links at the bottom.

But I have a favorite Blue Angels story. Since it was just my Dad’s birthday, I will once again share that tale in his honor. Here it is:

Agnostic Angels

This is a love letter to my Dad, and a Thank You to the amazing, brave pilots who make up the Blue Angels.

It’s Seafair in Seattle and the Blue Angels are here!!!

When I was growing up, Angels were a surprising but recurring theme with my fairly agnostic father. He was one of the leastreligious and more unconsciously spiritual people I have ever known. Angels seemed to be everywhere in the things he did, where he took us and in what he showed us.

From San Diego, where we grew up, we went on many trips north to Los Angeles, the “City of Angels”, to ride the “Angels Flight”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angels_Flight

He told us many stories of the “Guardian Angels” he had as a kid who helped him survive his completely unsupervised childhood.

Apparently he had several bizarre accidents and adventures…like tumbling off a mountain and landing halfway down on the only possible 11 inch ledge that could break his death-fall.

Another was a bicycle accident when the bare handle bar (the uncovered metal pipe) went through his upper chest off to the side, just missing basically everything!

Even as an adult, on a solo dirt bike trip out into the Borrego desert, he crashed and broke his collar bone, but managed to walk his bike into a small town for help.

In one of his last visits to me, he took a long walk in the dead of an unusually snowy Northwest winter, slipped and broke his ankle. He walked half a mile back to my house and, tough guy that he was, did not tell me until the next day what had happened. He finally had to because he could not remove his cowboy boot (which, it turns out, is exactly what stabilized his ankle for that 24 hours).

 

He claimed help from Angels for each of these events.

When he died, it was really no surprise that we received gracious assistance from the Hell’s Angels on the day of his Memorial.

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We bungee-corded my Dad’s ashes to the back of his lifelong Dream-Harley. (He didn’t get it until he was in his eighties.) Our caravan of family cars followed my best friend, Lee, on the bike out into the mountains East of San Diego to my Dad’s favorite little town called Julian.

We celebrated his life at his favorite restaurant and when we got ready to leave, I spotted a couple of real Harley riders, mounting up. I was wearing my Dad’s favorite Harley shirt so I walked right up to them and told them my Dad’s story. I pointed out the box of ashes on the back of my Dad’s bright red, flame-painted Sportster (with matching helmet).

I asked these two guys if they would consider riding along with my Dad (on his beloved bike) as we drove out of town.

They said “Sure, but we are not alone.”

Much to my delight (and the horror of my very religious relatives) we were escorted down the mountain by the two guys I talked to AND their friends. FIFTY Hell’s Angels followed us back down that mountain, in a practiced procession for any fallen brother of theirs; lights on, in two perfect parallel lines, peeling off one pair at a time when they were done.

So see? Lots of ANGELS in my life.

The Blue Angels entered when I was very young!

My favorite of the Angel Activities as a kid was this. My little sisters were too young, so Dad would take just me to Miramar Naval Air Base early on Sunday mornings, to watch the Blue Angels practice their soon to become famous stunts. He was very proud of being able to get on the Base and to show off what he claimed to be the planes that “he had built”. (My Dad was an aeronautical engineer who moved from Kansas to San Diego to work in his industry.)

I would ride on his shoulders for the “air show” and he would duck down when they flew over, as if they were actually flying low enough to be dangerous to this lone man with a squealing little girl on his shoulders. What an absolute thrill it was and my memories to this day are so clear, they are physical!

Though I struggled sometimes with the dichotomy of a Hippie Peacenik Flower-child being in love with fighter pilot jets, I have watched The Blue Angels through so many stages of my life.

In my 20’s and 30’s, before the trees grew up around us, the huge deck off my house was the favorite viewing place of all the single Mom’s in the neighborhood. We’d put on our bikini’s and pose on the deck, debating the safety of doing that…as if the pilots were actually going to look down at us each time they flew over!

Then, there were the years I worked as a waitress in a fancy restaurant in the tallest building in Bellevue…sharing the panoramic viewing experience with my wealthy customers.

One of my favorite memories was when my small son and I watched them while we were zipping around Lake Washington on a friend’s Jet Ski right under them. What a high that was!!

Famous Move

And for almost 40 of these years, we kept the Blue Angels alive in our conversations during the rest of year. My best friend’s father, Colonel Louis Ford, was like a second Dad to me. He was a fighter pilot in 3 wars. And though he was respectful of the “Angels”, he clearly had a bias for the Thunderbirds! That made for some lively discussions, Air Force vs Navy pilots, between my two Dads!

Colonel Ford taught me about the concepts of Hangar Flying (the time spent in the hangar, processing mistakes and accidents) as well as “The Hole in the Sky” (an opening in the clouds) that a pilot sometimes had to find in order to survive. Talk about Guardian Angels….

Boys getting me autographs on my Blue Angel’s birthday t-shirt!

Now, I have 2 Grandsons, 9 and 11, and their Mom and my son have taken them to see the Blue Angels every year of their lives. This has been a great setting to share stories of my Dad, the wonderful Great Grandfather they never got to meet, a man who had a life filled with “Angels” and he passed them all onto us….

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For many years I went by myself to a tiny (and progressively less secret) park on Mercer Island shore, the Thursday and Friday prior to the big Seafair Air Show. On Thursday, from this little park on the water, you can watch the scouting the Blue Angels do each year to get the lay of the land. And on Fridays, you can watch a full rehearsal of the big show they will perform on Saturday and Sunday. You can’t be at this little park for the actual show as it becomes an emergency Aid Station on those days.

My ritual was always to go there early, get settled and then call my Dad….so I could be on the cell phone with him as the Angels arrived. That first fly over is an indescribable thrill! In that park, they fly in low and from behind you. Their approach is muted by the hillside and thick trees, almost silent until suddenly, they thunder over your head. It is kind of like walking up the path next to the massive, rolling Niagara Falls; totally quiet until you get past a certain point and then instantly it becomes a deafening roar of falling water.

Anyway, I would hold the phone up in the air and scream at the top of my lungs as my Dad’s Angels buzzed our shared location.

Blue Angels2

No matter when or where I see them, I am instantly five years old again, sitting way up high on my Daddy’s shoulders when those beautiful Blue Angels scream by.

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I really believe my Dad witnessed that generous and spontaneous Hell’s Angel Memorial procession, and that he sees us watching the Blue Angels every year, from somewhere up there, through the “hole in the sky”.

Heaven Bound

original post written here: https://chosenperspectives.com/2016/08/07/agnostic-angels/

 

 

Yesterday, in typical Seattle weather, the Angels arrived for “scouting” day, flying in directly over our house.

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Though the weather this year may be disappointing for local SeaFair fans, it is great for Blue Angels fans who get to see the “low program”…thrilling, to say the least!

 

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(this last was apparently 2 cents worth from Lucy, the cat, who stopped by the keyboard when I left the room for a bit.)

 

https://chosenperspectives.com/2018/01/19/silence-for-wpc-1-17-18/

https://chosenperspectives.com/2017/10/11/wordlesswednesday-10-11-17/

Silence for WPC 1-17-18

Silence

One of my favorite moments of “Silence” is filled with the adrenaline of anticipation of NOISE…I mean BIG noise.

I have been a Blue Angels Fan my whole life! (You can read more abut that here:

https://chosenperspectives.com/2016/08/07/agnostic-angels/

I  love the deafening roar they produce as they fly over during a performance. Even the most self-conscious among us can scream, yell, whoop, yeehaw or  swear at the top of our lungs without drawing attention to ourselves. It is a rush, for sure! Better than the loudest Rock Concert ever!

But my favorite part of the show is when you can see the Angels before their sound arrives!

Those short moments of silence are the loudest thrill of my life!

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Right over my house!
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not even a whisper…yet!
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Performance at Naval Air Museum, Pensacola

Veteran’s Day 11/11/17

I guess every generation has its war. For mine, it was Vietnam.

I was so angry about that war and I could not have told you why………other than my well-intentioned, but naive Flower Child commitment to nonviolence.

Even though I could not have justified it with any political understanding, I marched and protested and wrote passionate letters and participated in every way I could think of…believing with my whole being that we could actually stop the war.

Though I lost my innocence back then, as well as many friends, I never lost my belief in pacifism.

It took going to the Vietnam Memorial Wall in DC some time in the early 1980’s for me to finally be able to make room in my black and white thinking about the Vietnam war. I had never even considered how many of those names on the Wall represented men and women who chose, out of honor and deep-held passions of their own, to fight for our country.

I was still biased, and so angry on that trip. I made pencil etchings of 17 names, “brothers” from my childhood, that had served in Vietnam…but did not make it back home. Each one of them had been drafted.

Now, this print of Lee Teter’s Vietnam Reflections War Memorial Poster sits in the most prominent position in my office/Group Room. Everyone who comes to me for therapy is greeted by this powerful image. Such a small homage to all those we lost, in that war, as well as because of that war.

Vietnam Wall Painting

We didn’t know back then what we know now. So many of us would do it all differently…

especially the welcoming home part….

This is one of my favorite videos ever.

 

I ask for forgiveness for not knowing this back then.

And I dedicate this post, with deep gratitude for their service, to the following people I am blessed to have had in my life. Most, but not all, served during the Vietnam War.

Colonel Louis Ford (Tad)-United States Air Force

Thomas Alvin Bessey-National Guard Mounted Cavalry

Jean McMaster Bessey- US Navy WAVES

Captain Brian Lee Ford-US Air Force

James Fletcher-US Army

Jimmy Schack

Mary Paananen

David Taylor

Joe LaFayette

Eddie Leachman

Ari Cowan

Bret Burkholder

Vince Horan

Saralee Blum

Jim Sorensen

Ron Holst

Michael Adams

Dale Beuning

Colonel James Kowalski

Kirk Boettcher

Mriana Williams

Richard Hartman

James Malone

Shawn Dennis

Colonel James Sampson

Steve Dryden

Don Ulmer

Lou Chirillo

Dave Bartholomew

Jason Bogar

Colonel Bill Head

Captain Roy Gurd

Jerry and Jennifer Niehaus

(I know I am leaving out some names…so sorry)

PS Sorry I could not get WordPress to work yesterday so this post is a day late…

 

 

 

More Rounded-a Series for WPC 10-25-17

Rounded

Rounded at the National Naval Air Museum

 

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My son’s custom made guitar.

 

Local Rounded growth

Can you guess my age because I burst out laughing at this Rounded site in Florida?

 

Cathedral turned Basilica in Natchez, Mississippi–Rounded everywhere you look.

Visit here for more on this breathtaking place! http://www.stmarybasilica.org/

 

My beautiful birthday cake this year! Very Rounded and James even found me a

gluten free cake!*

 

*see here for more on “Man Carried Cake!

https://chosenperspectives.wordpress.com/2017/08/09/wordlesswednesday-8917/