Saturday, April 28, 2007

It's amazing how you can so often run across people with whom you have something in common. Sort of the "six degrees of separation" thing.

Five years ago I bought some window stickers at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, NC. (Stupendous museum, by the way). One sticker is a Special Forces patch and the other two are the flashes (that's the patch on the beret) from the two Special Forces groups I was assigned to. I held onto them for five years then finally stuck them on the truck just a couple of months ago.

Couple of weeks ago I'm tooling down the highway and someone passes me and starts waving to me. I thought "Ok, seems like a good sort of guy, wave back". Bear in mind that around here when someone waves to you it generally involves one finger. So I waved. A few moments later I switched lanes and found myself behind him. Lo and behold, on his rear window is an 82nd Airborne Division sticker. A fellow paratrooper. I waved back again and gave him a "thumbs up". He caught on that I'd made the connection and returned the salute.

A good moment on a commute that can make your hair fall out.

Then today I caught up with one of the baseball dads. I'm still trying to sort the family out, to be honest, but I think it's two sisters, one husband and three kids all living together. Nothing weird--I just think it's a single mom living with her sister and brother-in-law. But all three adults have been/are in the Army, so once again there's the common experience. The single mom is ex-Army, the dad is ex-Army and his wife is what's called AGR (Active Guard/Reserves--in other words you're in the Guard or Reserves, but in a full-time status). I enjoy being around them not just because we have the common denominator of Army experience, but also because they're just plain good people. The two sisters are Central American in origin, so they may have some interesting tales as well.

At any rate, I caught up with the dad today. He has only been able to make something like three games in two seasons, so even seeing him was a rare event. But it gets better. He drives a soft top Jeep, I'm driving a soft top Jeep. He works for a company that supplies chemical to the biotech industry. I've bought chemicals from his company. Then we started talking Army and damned if he wasn't in the 5th Special Forces Group. He wasn't "SF Qualified"--in other words he didn't go through the fun-filled course that qualifies you to be on an A-Team--but he was a paratrooper and spent time in 5th Group's signal (radio) company. As coincidences go, I was a radio operator as well, and while I spent most of my time on an A-Team, I did spend some time working with the signal company.

He ended up driving an AH-64D Apache Longbow, but he said he has a special place in his memories for the time he spent in 5th Group. He eventually left the Army after 9 PCSs (military talk for packing up and moving) in 13 years. It's a rough way to raise a family, so I can't blame him for bailing. He said he truly would have liked to have made the grade and flown with the 160th SOAR, but family just had to take precedence.

So anyway, keep your eyes and ears open. If I can run across such rare creatures as fellow paratroopers and SF-types, who knows what we may run across...

No comments: