Wednesday, September 21, 2011


The other day this name popped into my mind- you know- one of those real clear memories- sort of like ‘geez- maybe God wants me to pray for the guy’. I knew that couldn’t be it.

This last week we have had a few big news stories- the SOLYNDRA scandal [by the way- the execs are gonna plead the 5th- that’s bad!].

We also had a few tragic events. A couple of air show disasters back to back. Here where I live in Corpus Christ- if you Google the map- I live about 200 yards from the Naval Air Station.

As a funny memory- 30 years ago I had my Captains Mast right on this base [a technical court thing- to kick you out after you screwed up one 2 many times- too much partying and fighting is not stuff the Navy puts ups with].

I worked for 25 years at another Naval base city- Kingsville [with the Fire Dept.]

Whenever the air base has an air show in Corpus- the planes fly directly over my house. Right after I moved to the area I realized all the locals sit on their roofs when the shows are on- you see them up close- couldn’t get a better view if you were in the stands.

In Kingsville the base used to request that the city ambulance stand by at the air shows- you know- heat exhaustion or every now and then a heart attack.

Lots of people watching the show in the heat- to have an ambulance right there shortened the response time.

Now- most of the young guys took that gig- sure you got overtime- but the older guys [who played Captain and engineer- truck pumper] we usually didn’t go for it.

But one year [2000] I thought- what the heck- yeah I’ll work the show. Me and Sam showed up- nice day. The Kingsville base was actually the base I was stationed at when I first came to Texas.

The show would last a couple of hours- you would get paid a minimum of 3 hours overtime and it was really easy duty- usually.

I was just standing there- watching the show- just like the crowd. And right in front of us- an f-16 fighter crashes.

Of course the crowd was shocked- and we are really not there for something like this- but to be honest- I broke the rules and told Sam ‘lets roll’.

We drove right across the air strip [which we did not have clearance for- but it felt like the base had no idea what to do either].

The plane crashed in a wooded area so we parked right at the spot where the plane went over- and had to jump the fence.

To be honest- I was not supposed to be doing this- but I followed the Navy team that was on the ground [special investigators] and was the first fire fighter at the location.

You couldn’t recognize the plane- total destruction. I wasn’t sure if the pilot bailed or not- some in the crowd thought they saw him eject.

After going through the rubble- we found a foot. Perfectly intact- but that was it.

Major Brison Phillips- a very experienced pilot who saw action in Iraq- died that day.

Yesterday I read his name in the San Antonio paper. They were talking about the air show disasters that have happened in Texas.

To my surprise- there have only been 5. The first one in 1943- then down the line until this past year. The Crash I was at was number 4 [I think?]

After I thought about it- maybe God was ‘showing’ me his name- for me to pray for pilots that week. We did later have the crashes. I just couldn’t put 2 and 2 together- I knew Brison was already dead so when his name came to me like that- I was a little confused.

I cut out the news article and stuck it on my ‘funeral wall’. Whenever one of my friends dies- if I see the article in the paper I’ll cut it out and pin it to this spot- sort of like a reminder that life is short.

The bible says ‘teach us to number our days- so we might apply our hearts to wisdom’.

Brison was a good man- real hero who served well. I wonder if it’s smart for us to do shows that have high danger ‘tricks’ [Brison was doing a ‘Split- S’ when he died].

I realize the pilots- and the fans- want the freedom to take the risks- and in a free country- well that’s the choice.

But the high risk things- like the Nevada crash- flying old modified planes at 500 MPH- I don’t know about that.

Maybe today would be a good day to pray for the wives and kids who have lost their loved ones in these crashes- sort of a little ‘memorial day’ for them.

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