Every time I lose a friend, I say a prayer for all our Veteran's and First Responders - their families and friends - who know only too well the pain of losing a friend. Today I lost a friend - a Veteran - my helicopter partner, Steve Decker. Steve was killed yesterday doing something he loved as much as flying helicopters - driving motor cycles.
Steve was soft spoken and always had a story about a helicopter "situation" along with a bunch of smiles and an infectious laugh. He had more flight time than anyone I ever knew and didn't just fly helicopters, he wore them. He was one with the chopper. He flew for Chopper 10 and brought us the news from a bird's eye view ... even flew the drone.
Steve was also a good friend - always had my back and was ready to fly anywhere at any time. All I had to do was call him up and say, "I need to fly to Florida ... or Texas ... or Ohio ... or Alaska." And he was ready to go. The only thing that kept us from making a flight was the weather. He taught me the value of being on the ground and wishing we were "up there," rather than being in the air and wishing we were safely "down there."
Steve knew pain and suffering - better than most. His son, a police officer was found dead a few years ago, in Newport News. He was killed execution style by a gang. They never caught the cowards. The only time I ever saw Steve's eyes lose their sparkle was when he talked about this event. And his daughter? Loved her more than life. The sparkle came back when he saw or mentioned her.
Today I went to the grocery store. I needed some comfort food ... and a lady slammed my cart because I was in her way. I asked Nick - why he thought good guys like Steve had to die and jerks like that lady got to live. He said it was a mystery to him as well. But one thing is for sure - we are sure there is a reason for everything. We just don't know what it is, yet. And my daughter said we could be sure that Steve now knows who the cowards are who killed his son. But I wonder if it matters on the other side? I like to think we find out answers and that every thing experienced here - matters.
I'm grateful for one thing that I know for sure ... I'm glad I got to know Steve Decker. My heart hurts thinking I won't get to talk to him again ... or fly with him; but I'm a better person for having known him. And if someone can say that about us some day ... then maybe this is all worth it. It's vastly important that we keep the memories of our friends, alive.
"Be Safe, Be Well, Be Happy" - has more meaning than ever before.
It is a Jungle out there ... and we've got your back ... because an angel had ours.
The Veteran Wellness TEAM