By Bob Thibodeau, proud father

When my son was about 8 years old I took him to see an airshow featuring the Blue Angels. As with many kids after this type of experience, he came home and wanted to be a pilot. Neither his mother or I thought much about it at the time.

As the years ticked by, his desire to be a pilot did not diminish; however, his eyesight did. By the time he was in high school he needed glasses and was heartbroken to learn that he needed uncorrected 20/20 vision to fly in the Air Force or Navy.

He resigned himself to his fate but never gave up completely on his dream. When he learned the Army would take him if he had lasik surgery and 1 year later his eyes showed no further deterioration, we were at the eye doctor the next day. His surgery was a success and the following year his eyes were still better than 20/20. He couldn’t wait to sign up! Fast forward to today…

My son completed Army helicopter training school and had his choice of airframes to fly; he chose the BADDEST helicopter in the world – the Apache.

He is presently stationed in Afghanistan, flying his Apache, living his dream. I am jealous (yes, and nervous)! I know all parents are proud of the accomplishments of their children but this type of fortitude, desire and determination is what makes our armed services so great. The Army couldn’t have made a better choice for a pilot. To the USAF and USN – there is a lesson here!

“It is with regret to inform you. Today 05-26-11, My Nephew Chris died when his helicopter crashed in eastern Afghanistan. He flew the AH-64D Apache Longbow for the US Army. He was a great man, just recently married to a wonderful woman. He was just back in the states a month ago and just told us a week ago that he and his wife a having a baby…(CONT)…. I am sad that we had to lose him but proud of the man he was and what he was fighting for…. He will be missed terrible by all that knew him… I love and miss you Chris….. my thought and prayers are with you.” — Kevin Walker, Uncle

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