Corinth Mississippi, Airport East of Town on State Highway 72
The distance from the squadron of Air National Guard C-130 gunships overhead to the wide brown eyes of the 6 year old below must have been insurmountable to him as he gazed into the sunlit sky. Round and round they circled. As the little boy held the hand of his father with his small right hand he shaded his face from the sun with his left. As the planes circled, his head followed them slowly. The rumble as they passed by parallel with the runway shook them both and the dozens of other spectators who had assembled for the free air show. Round and round they went as they broke formation and aligned themselves nose to tail for the final approach.
“Looks like they’re going to land,” his Dad said to him. The child was mute, awestruck, standing there in his shorts and tank top, tiny water bottle strapped to his fanny-pack.
The gunships made their approach from the north flying lower and lower, one pass, from right to left and then another. Lower and lower they went until the spectators could read their tail numbers. Slowly the rear door of the planes opened simultaneously, and they circled one more time. Doors now fully opened, they made their sweeping right hand turn and lined up with the runway again. In a single line and in order from the front aircraft to the last men started falling out of the doors. One after the other falling into the air. And then like popcorn the little dots exploded into white clouds as the chutes opened.
The Dad looked down at his son, still speechless, mouth and eyes opened wide. The inexpressible joy that is regularly seen on the face of the young and only rarely on the old lit up the father’s heart as one by one the men dangling from the white cloud of chutes dropped silently to a low spot in the ground across the runway from the crowd.
There was a moment of silence as the planes flew off into the southern horizon and the little boy looked up at his father and then back to the empty runway and then back again as if to ask in that wordless way children can do, “What’s next?”
Suddenly the boy jumped as loud pops sounded, startling the crowd back into the moment. Smoke rose from the trench in red, white, and blue colors filling the sky and the runway. Nothing but smoke could be seen the runway had disappeared into this patriotic cloud. They stared into this cloud and eventually detected movement as the Airborne Rangers snuck silently, slowly through the smoke, weapons at the ready. As they emerged, in full gear, they formed ranks with precise half left and half right turns until the entire squadron had cleared the cloud slowly dissipating into the hot Mississippi air.
From the ranks the four squad leaders quick-timed to the front and in unison, shouted:
“We Are Army Rangers! Attack Dogs for Democracy!”
The Dad teared up a little bit. The little boy looked up at him and said, “That’s what I want to do when I grow up.”Sometimes dreams come to pass...sometimes they are not what you expected. They are dreams fulfilled nonetheless...
Aaron in his Class As