Two brave cousins

Yesterday we went to a Labor Day party at Joan’s sister’s home in Omaha. Joan has a big family; the siblings are Joan, June, Ann, John, Jim, Mary and Bob. They have lots of kids and the cousins are close. Last night, two of those cousins celebrated with us–Jim, Mary’s son, and Jake, June’s son, joined us for the festivities.

The “boys” are big strapping men. They are funny and wry, well-educated and smart. You would want both of them as your friends.

Jim is his squadron leader’s executive officer and a command pilot in the air force. He has flown 100 plus missions over Afghanistan in a huge KC-10 Extender. Because Jim never discusses details, in the past, we seldom spoke of his “trips” because there was nothing he could talk about.

KC-10 Exender

KC-10 Extender

Jake is one of those mysterious civilian “contractors.”  He just returned from a forward operating base in Afghanistan where he said he did “stuff” about which he refused to elaborate. He was able to say that it had something do with plans, maps and unmanned aerial vehicles, but beyond that he just smiled and declined to answer specifics.

Jim and Jake vaguely compared notes and knowing looks with one another last night. It turns out that there is a good chance Jim was flying over Jake in Afghanistan and, of course, neither knew it at the time. Growing up, I am quite sure the “boys” never imagined that they would both end up in Afghanistan at the same time separated by only a few miles of brisk Afghan air. The coincidence was stunning, but they were nonchalant about it and everything else. My age and their bravery was showing.


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