• Morning Mission

Zero dark thirty get up. Not enough sleep, too much coffee.

Tip-toe into the bedroom and leave a heartfelt "'till I see you again" kiss. Risks acknowledged but mostly ignored.

Weather brief, yellow sheet, pre-flight on the cold ramp. Climb aboard. The smell of jet fuel, hydraulic fluid, aluminum, sweat.

Professional colleagues in the truest incredible-detail-of-knowledge sense. Friends and buddies. Respect and reliance the common bond.

The mission is the thing. Serious, lives at stake. Lives to save, often more lives at risk.

Secretly amazed they let you do this and pay you for it. But not nearly enough. The youngsters make poverty level wages—the local grocery store has a box for diapers and baby food donations.

No excuse sir, that's what we say. What's their excuse, the ones that pork the budget?

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