is Episode 5
I was in a pilot training class with 71 other guys all bound for
deadly service in Vietnam. It was the most miserable experience
of my life. As a guardsman, I was the only one guaranteed to stay
stateside. Yes, I was ashamed. The guys didn't treat me poorly,
but only because they knew who Dad was. Pilots had the highest
casualty rate in Vietnam. These were the bravest men in the world--how
could my presence not piss them off?
training itself, however, was one of the most interesting experiences
in my life. It was the first time I had an inkling that something
about me was very different--that there was a whole set of experiences
in my past that had been somehow blocked out. This will sound
crazy, but it felt as though I already new how to fly.
spoke at our graduation. Back then his reputation as a heroic
WWII fighter pilot was still relatively fresh. The guys felt it
a great honor to shake his hand and meet the man in person. Then
they shipped off to the war, many of them looking back on American
soil for the last time.
stayed on base and received my orders: defend the coast line of
Texas from foreign invasion. Sure, that sounds ridiculous, but
the Texas guard actually kept two fighters scrambled at all times
to defend Texas from foreign invasion.
I started my regular assignment, it was only weekend duty. I'd
fly up the coast to Louisiana and then down the coast to Mexico,
and spend the rest of the week drunk and high with the other pilot
on my rotation, Kit Dart. Soon our route was monotonous and easy,
and we started playing dangerous games in the air with each other
to liven things up. Sure, sometimes we'd fly high, and why not?
We could have flown it blind folded. I was a great pilot and so
played a major role in my spiritual development, though when I
met him I never would have expected this to be the case. It all
started with a visit to a desert Indian reservation a few months
into our duty....