3. The Hero
None of us has a clear understanding of the impact of our choices on a daily basis until, one day, the sum total of millions of choices puts us in the place and time to do something immediately significant.
George had found life in the Navy to suit him fine. He was safe and warm, fed and rowdy. He was doing work he was proud of. On the deck of the aircraft carrier, pilots would take off and land with precision and skill. Deck engineers would guide, organize and prepare for every eventuality. They worked long days and trained hard. Everyone on the ship did their part to learn and ingrain important procedures for everyone’s safety. What they were doing was not safe, so it needed to become clockwork in order to mitigate as much risk as possible.
One day, the clockwork training simply was not enough.
A pilot came in for a landing and stopped yet another plane that was too heavy on a deck that was too short. The fact that it could work once was impressive enough. The fact that it became routine was marvelous. The pilot exited the plane as he always did, but this time he didn’t lock the brakes. The plane began rolling down the deck and was threatening not just other planes, but also the people in them or on the deck.
George ran for the plane. Running alongside, he hoisted himself onto a ladder and pulled himself onto the wing. Getting into the cockpit proved more treacherous and he took a heavy fall in his attempt. Eventually, George would be able to stop the plane, but he injured his back in the process.
For the rest his life George suffered from terrible backpain that was never able to be relieved. It became his constant companion, though my Dad says he wasn’t the type to complain. He was happy he was there. He would have done it again: the sacrifice had been worth it.