I woke up earlier than usual yesterday morning, feeling energized by the promise of a clear warm day after a long cold winter that had been anything but. I quietly got up, brushed my teeth, washed my face, and got dressed. I gently closed the bedroom door behind me in the hopes that my husband could get another hour or two of sleep before it was time for us to leave for our workout. I drifted into the kitchen and retrieved my favorite heavy white ceramic mug from the cupboard next to the sink, set the Melitta pour-over cone and filter paper on top, and ground some fresh Peets coffee beans. I pressed the start button on the electric hot pot and picked up my iPhone from the counter to see what had transpired while I slept. A red banner scrolled across the Associated Press app reporting that a military helicopter was missing off the Florida panhandle near Pensacola. I opened the app and read the full story to discover it was an Army Blackhawk that had apparently gone down in heavy fog the previous night and not a Navy helicopter …like the one our daughter flies from a base just a few miles from Pensacola.
While I breathed a certain sigh of relief, thankful for her safety, I remain concerned for the families of those on board the presumed down aircraft. It is certainly possible that they first heard of the event just as I had by seeing it on a news outlet. Even though the military makes every attempt to notify the families before releasing any names of the missing, it would not unreasonable to think that your loved one might indeed be onboard, especially when the details of the units involved or the location of the search are released by the media. We have good friends whose son was an Army helicopter pilot with multiple tours of combat duty in Afghanistan. The merest mention of an aircraft mishap in that region could cause their hearts to skip a beat.
Just two weeks ago there was a minor incident where a helicopter made a rough landing and fell over on it’s side at the base where our daughter is a flight instructor. Although the copter involved was from a different squadron, she called me as soon as she was aware that the accident might be made public to assure me that she was not involved and that there were no serious injuries. I was thankful she took the time to call. As parents we all worry about our kids safety, not only when they are young, but throughout their life. When your children are called to engage in inherently dangerous jobs in the military, as both of ours are, it can definitely add another layer of concern. And we worry not just about our own kids but there friends and brothers in arms. We do take it to heart each and every time and keep them all in our thoughts and prayers.
Sadly, just after I finished writing this blog, several fatalities have been confirmed and it is likely there are no survivors from the crash off the Florida panhandle. May they rest in peace. All aboard were either married, had children or both.