Where I Was

I was in Kyiv, Ukraine, sightseeing with the soon-to-be third Mrs. Grumpy Bastard.  It was my first visit with her – the culmination of nearly a year of courtship via letters and phone calls.  In fact, it was my first international trip as a civilian.  The only other time I had been outside the borders of the United States was when I was TDY to the 4404th Wing (Provisional) in support of Operation Southern Watch.

We came back to the car between tourist attractions, and our driver (a close friend of the family – the only one who had a car) told us what he had just heard on the news.  We continued with our day, and didn’t give it a lot of thought.  We were in the first stages of “new love”, and little else mattered to us.

Although we only had initial reports at that time, I didn’t see it as the massive tragedy that so many others did.  Yes, it was an awful thing.  We had been attacked on our own soil.  Many died that day.  Many first responders proved what they were made of.

Even so, I didn’t see it as nearly the big deal that our government did.  I was shocked when I called my brother the next day and learned that US airspace had been closed indefinitely as a result.  Yes, it was bad.  Yes, something needed to be done.  But, to me, it was obvious that the bad guys had already blown their wad.  Four coordinated hijackings within a very short amount of time had to have taken significant planning and resources.  I saw very little chance of a repeat performance any time soon, and I was convinced that the reaction was very much an over-reaction.

Sure, my opinion was somewhat colored by the personal events in my life at the time, and the uncertainty of when I might be able to get back home.  For what it’s worth, I did enjoy the extra time I ended up “stuck” in country with my lady.

Eleven years later, I’m not so sure my initial assessment was very far off.  There was no reason to close our airspace.  Can you say, “knee-jerk reaction”?  Once we figured out it was Saudi citizens who were responsible, we should have turned the Kingdom into a glowing parking lot, and went on with our lives as before.  However, we let them win.  We now willingly submit to having our toddlers and great-grandmothers groped and their diapers inspected in the name of perceived security.  And for what?  Not a damn thing in the way of actual results.  I’ll shut up now, before I really get pissed off.

Excuse me while I go eat a pig sandwich from my local raghead-free eating establishment.  Fuck the terrorists, and the politicians who let them win by insisting on doing “something” even if when it is wrong.

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2 Responses to Where I Was

  1. Larry says:

    Performing, ironically enough, weapons system checks on F/A-18’s. When I got word of the second plane I knew we were under attack.
    By that afternoon 10 of 12 aircraft had been checked (we were originally only checking 3 of the 12 as part of our scheduled maintenance routine) and everything that was capable of flight (we had two hard-down for long term maintenance) was loaded with white missiles. The ones with the yellow and brown bands, not the blue ones.
    This situation was true of every squadron on the base, both Tomcat and Hornet. First – and last – time I ever saw a flight line full of warshot loaded birds on the beach, usually we would only fly live from the hot pad. Up to that time I had only seen warshots loaded routinely during the Cold War, only on deployment, and only on the alert aircraft.
    The other thing I remember about that day was the deafening silence from an empty sky.

    • alaskan454 says:

      Good to know from a first-hand report that we were ready to respond quickly.

      In case anyone misunderstood, I didn’t mean to make light of what happened in my post, or the need to respond appropriately when we are attacked. I just don’t agree with the assessment of the situation or the response that was chosen.

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