From a fellow Lexican comes this from his blog RUMBEAR CHRONICLES. Thank you, Charles Mellor for this.
That is an awesome picture BTW!
Whilst beboppin’ around chasing a video thread, there appeared a thumbnail for something that drew me in. One video led to another video, the second done in what I would call a thoughtful and reasoned out interview with an expert.
The subject? The much discussed contract 747 mishap out of Bagram Airbase. The video is a somber watch for anyone, but the discussion that follows I thought was conducted as tastefully and professionally as might be managed under the circumstances. To Ms. Erin Burnett of CNN, I say “Well done”
For my part, I don’t see a load shift being the cause of a stall whose beginning is this subtle; namely, left wing stall with no abrupt pitch up. My call? Not managing/monitoring airspeed and power on a steeper than usual takeoff.
RIP to seven crew members.
National Air B747 Crash at Bagram AB
With that, hizzoner has a midnite wakeup call for a road trip to Victorville and beyond. See y’all on the morrow.
Now the race is on and here comes pride in the backstretch, heartache goin’ to the inside…
I first heard this George Jones tune in a fraternity brother’s room. It was the late 60′s and country music was not “in” the way it is today. The Rolling Stones, the Mamas and the Papas, the Beatles, the Monkees, and many other pop groups took first place in the music world.
Don’t know why the lyrics to George’s song stayed with me all these years. I can still picture my fraternity brother’s room on the campus, it was never a bastion of neatness. Drew was never a bastion of anything but party on, brother. His focus in life was golf and beer. Or was it beer and golf?
Maybe that’s why George Jones’ death brought back thoughts about life and what it brings to us, and what it doesn’t bring. George lived a life that was out of control at times. Drew was the same, and he beat George to the finish line.
Drew was an alcoholic. Took me three tries with the spell checker to get that word right. I didn’t know he was one, most everybody in our fraternity would not know the difference between an alkie and an average college kid in the 60′s. We partied, partied a lot, drank heavily. Most of us saved the party part until the weekends. Drew didn’t. Anytime after noon or so you could find Drew in his room, an open beer bottle on the desk and George Jones records lettin’ loose tune after tune on the stereo. The door was always open, there was always a beer in the fridge. George and Drew had something in common. Booze and a life out of control at times. The story of Drew driving home for a holiday once was legendary. He was pulled over for erratic driving, turns out he had consumed more than a few of the beers in the case he bought before leaving school to go home. The sheriff bluntly told him he’d been drinking. Drew’s candid response (“No #$%*, sheriff!”) caught the sheriff by surprise, so much so that the sheriff didn’t give him a ticket but instead escorted Drew all the way into the next county. Home.
Could it be that our generation was faced with Viet Nam and the implications that falling out of college meant in those days? Flunk out, lose the college deferment, go to the front of the line for service in ‘Nam. Not a popular war, not a popular topic amongst the college crowd, and a source of fear to many. Could it be that the pressure was there to perform, keep the grades on the passing side, keep the army out of the picture, no matter what? Was that the reason for the liquid dependence?
Or could it be that just the pressure of life was too much for some? Maybe for Drew?
I don’t know. Lost track of him after college, only to have his name come up one day 40 years or so later, when a friend of ours mentioned they were from a small town in Texas. Drew’s home town. Where? I asked, I have a fraternity brother from there, did you know Drew?
Yes, same high school class, was the response, followed by did you know about him and his life?
No, what happened, I asked.
Maybe I shouldn’t have asked, the story was tragic. Too much alcohol, lost jobs, a stint as high school coach, a bank robbery, or maybe it was just an attempt, prison time, a lost and dissolute life, a wreckage of a family, and finally a lonely death on a New Year’s Eve a decade ago. His death went unnoticed for days, no one went looking for him.
No one missed him.
I passed the news on to my fraternity brothers five years after his death and not one of them knew of his passing on. Most of us go in one direction, our lives are predictable, we don’t know or understand what hurts inside others and makes life misfire. I wonder what demons turned Drew down the wrong road.
George Jones’ death made me think of Drew again.
Now the race is on and here comes pride in the backstretch, heartache goin’ to the inside…
…and the winner loses all…
Are gone now. In the blink of an eye, almost, into a fallow field among the flattened hills and shallow valleys of north central Washington state. Not in combat or at sea out on the forward edges where diplomacy and power merge. Not on work-ups or COMPTUEX. It was a Replacement Air Group (RAG) instructional hop, almost at the end of the years-long training pipeline for a couple of Fleet Replacement fliers and their instructor, along with another bird. Along a very familiar Visual Route that so many of us who have flown out of Whidbey Island at some time or another know well. Less than a week after many of us who post here and so many of you who stop by to read our thoughts and stories noted the Annum past since our friend Lex went west.
For many of us with a certain amount of time and distance behind us, when we got the news, we no longer had to ask ourselves instantly who we knew flying Prowlers or Growlers at the present time. That hard burden now lays with those many of us trained, or mentored or who we know distantly. It now is for their Year Groups to look around themselves, count the numbers and note them lessened. For “PETA” (his tactical call-sign, not the organization, thank you) this one has been a personal loss. Sadly not his first, for his graduating class from the past decade at the Naval Academy was a “Wartime Class,” and several of his classmates have already given the last, full measure of devotion. So while he is already accustomed to the final exit, this marks something so many of us know is very different, somehow more visceral; it is someone with whom you have shared schoolhouse and ready room and flight line. This time, it is indeed personal. His words follow:
I can’t tell you exactly how much we miss you because the quantity is indescribable. Your unwavering compassion for others was only matched by the character in which you delivered it day in and out to everyone around you. Dedicated, hardworking determination. coupled with a smile and caring hand to anyone that asked. Your dignified constancy in the den of unruly student aviators was a feat that you made look easy. In and out of the squadron you were yourself and we loved you for that. You were a lover of life, science, flying and compassion. Those whom you could guide or help, you would or even anyone who just looked to you. Who did I call when I moved to Meridian for the gouge on where to live and how to prepare? You kept your head when we all knowingly or unknowing lost ours either in town or in the ready room. “Mom” was the most affectionate yet ribbing call-sign I think we could conjure. How can you tease a Saint?
Val, in the din of a restaurant in San Diego after a rough day at the range and for you just finished at the boat we had the conversation of “what ifs” and how to remember each in the most dark of moments. Feeling low, it seemed appropriate that even though it wasn’t the best day it could have always have been worse. A petty way to cheer ourselves though hyperbole and until the fantastic dinner and vino did its work to comfort. I never thought I’d be fulfilling your wishes for at least another 70 years. This weekend I’ll find that expensive white wine and watch the sun go below the horizon westward over the water. It seemed poetic to look over the water I never asked why, but where the Severn overlooks the bay always calmed me and so through the unspoken meaning it was understood that’s what I’d do. On the lacrosse field you had that view every day at practice; it’s why you and Sean and many of us from the boat school loved running at Bonita lakes in Meridian. The water and the lights were a reminder of hospital point and of the place that brought us together. I understand now.
That thought of remembering was simple but so poetic and meaningful. A beauty and lover of life and of the good and beauty in all of us. A trait that by comparison to many other strike and Naval aviators seems angelic and so refreshing. You demanded perfection of everyone and strive everyday to meet it like all of us did. You just made it look easier than we knew it was.
It’s incredibly unfair that it was you. I’d give anything to see that it wasn’t but it’s a selfish notion to think that. It is without a doubt that you are one of a kind; I can truly understand the meanings of “priceless” and “irreplaceable.” It’s a gap that can’t be filled. You can now be forever skyward watching us, guiding and urging us as you always did. Until it’s my turn, I’ll be meeting you for the CV and you can lead me to the gates for my Charlie time with that LSO of a gate keeper, St. Peter. Then we’ll have that incredible meal with all the different french sauteed greens and salmon like you prefer and a bottle of great white wine in the O-club in the sky. All will be right. Until then you are in our hearts.
We miss you Val.
Requiescant in pace
One year has passed.
365 days without him. Without his words, his wisdom, his humor.
Capt. Carroll “Lex” Lefon. Died in service to his country one year ago today. He died doing what he loved, what his soul was called to do.
Fly. Fast. Really fast.
It was with such joy that he began his 1st career again after trying a 2nd career as a desk jockey.
That did not sit well with Lex, nosiree.
Qualifying the kFIR he would fly adversary for the TOPGUN aviators. The stuff that legends are made of.
Except that Lex was already a legend. To those of us who read his blog faithfully – his writing was the stuff of genius. How many times did someone say “write the damn book”…
Write one he did. Rhythms will someday be published; and a community left bereft at his passing will likely gather as we always promised we would – someplace “in the middle” so that we could all get a first edition and have it signed by the author whilst plying him with Guinness.
Lots of Guinness.
It is so tragic that a man like Lex – who lived 10 lifetimes in one short one – still had so much living to do. But then again, adrenaline-junkie that he was, whose to say that he didn’t live all that he was supposed to. He lived life on the tip of the spear – from fast jets to fast cars to fast motorcycles.
And while I feel the sorrow of his loss keenly, my thoughts turn to his beloved family and I realize that my grief can only pale to insignificance in the face of theirs.
I lost a good friend – no – I lost the brother of my heart one year ago today. The world changed once when I met Lex and I became a better person for it. The world changed again when he died – and I like to think that I remain that better person.
Lex showed us all how to live a life made of dreams. Lex showed us how to live a life of integrity, principles, honor and valor.
He was courageous to the end – landing a stricken jet with no fuel on board in deadly cross winds. It is a testament to his skill as a pilot and his determination as a human being that he got that kFIR on the ground at all.
Lex had grit – true grit. He served his country with dignity, he loved his family with passion and he shared so much of himself that I often wondered if he’d break from all the stretching.
When I woke up today – I felt a terrible weight pressing down on me. In those few precious moments after I opened my eyes, the world was as it should be. Then my mind engaged and I realized – no, it’s not. It all became clear and I knew why that weight was there.
And as the day has gone by – as I have read tributes from others – I feel that weight lifting. Yes, Lex lived a life of possibilities. And it is those possiblities that we should celebrate – both in his life and to welcome them into ours.
So it will be tonite that I will turn to a private memorial page on Facebook and celebrate the life of this extraordinary man. We miss him terribly and yet he left us a powerful legacy of focus and dedication to ones dreams.
Lex – you are with the angels, I’m sure of it – showing them how flying is really done.
My own wee tribute is here: http://oldafsarge.blogspot.com/2013/03/today-we-remember.html
There are dates you remember is your Naval Aviation life: Day you received your wings (28FEB76), day of your last flight as in a Duty Involving Flight Operations (DIFOP) status (24SEP92) and the first time someone you were close to died in a mishap (6FEB79). Those days mount up, over time. As I remarked once before, you maybe do the tally once or twice, then move on; for to dwell there too long does little good.
You also think, once you “hang up your spurs,” that you won’t need to keep counting, but I was wrong. My friend Carroll “Lex” Lefon left us a year ago today, to the collective shock, surprise and sense of loss and grief to many around the world.
For those of us who either were or still are “in the profession,” I think I say what many think is all really needs be said: He was a good stick.