BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - You've probably been there before.
You're driving down Highway 90, then suddenly one of those large C-130 Air Force cargo planes swoops down. The aircraft seem like they're low enough to fall out of the sky.
I had the privilege of riding in one of those impressive, versatile cargo planes this week.
The "Flying Jennies" of the 815th Airlift Squadron at Keesler invited us to send a reporter-photographer along on a training mission. I was happy to volunteer for the assignment. As I've said before, I love outdoor and adventure type stories, so this was ready made for me.
I've always had a great deal of respect for the men and women of our military and this assignment only increased that feeling. These reservists give willingly of their time, talents and commitment to try and make this world a better place for you and me.
Let me say that the C-130-J is an impressive aircraft. Yet the pilot, co-pilot and rest of the crew are even more impressive with their high level of training and remarkable teamwork.
Anyone who's had any dealings with the military can tell you there's a lot of "hurry up and wait" moments along the way. We had some during our morning of tactical training. But everyone in uniform endured it with understanding and dedication.
I'm afraid I'm not a patient person, so that aspect of things would take some discipline on my part.
I admire and respect these reservists for the job they do. Early next month, many of these 815th reservists will deploy (along with the C-130-Js) to Southwest Asia. They will willingly go where they're assigned, often in harm's way, to fulfill their commitment to country.
Along with the pilots and flight crew, I'd like to also commend the many behind the scenes people who make it happen. I interviewed a woman with the aviation support office and was impressed by her knowledge and love for the job.
Unfortunately, her comments never made it "on air" but it's not because her contribution is any less appreciated. The interview with her was merely a victim of timing constraints and editing the story to an acceptable length.
The next time you see a man or woman in uniform, give them a smile, handshake or pat on the back. In these days of people worrying about jobs and the economy and the health care system, let's look at the bigger picture.
Let's thank the military men and women who stand up for our very freedom, often sacrificing time with their families and loved ones to serve all of America.
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