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For those curious about the motive behind his
four five six seven (not going to bother counting any more) facebook attacks on a great organization, here's why Mike Yon doesn't like Soldiers' Angels.
I'll tell you something I noticed about Lex, but it's at the end of this ramble. First, a confession: I used to tell lies about Neptunus Lex. I'd call him "One of the best writers in milblogs," but the truth is, he was the best. No shocker there, I think everyone who read his blog knows that. It's hardly fair for me to say it now, when he can't humbly deny it.
Of course it's hardly fair that he could write true, first-person stories about being a fighter pilot, something most of us could only dream of doing. It gave him an edge on the rest of us. But doing something and writing about it are two different skill sets, and Lex was one of the very few mortals to be gifted with both. (Hey, even Chuck Yeager had a co-author on his autobiography.) And as for the fighter pilot bit, "Lex could tell a rousing story of painting his house and you'd read it and be glad you did." I quote myself there. If you hadn't gathered from such an observation that any others I'd made about him being merely one of the best writers around was an understatement (really - the "in milblogs" qualifier isn't needed, either), then I failed. What can I say? I am no Neptunus Lex. He was the best of us, we all knew it, it didn't need said.
There are any number of brief testimonials to him on the web now. Here someone who once served with him recalls that "We shared a passion for air warfare and saber fencing."
And here's Matt Gallagher, who himself might have been the last milblogger in Iraq, and whose own write-ups of his adventures there landed him in a spot of trouble among the higher-ups (and split the opinions of those others of us milbloggers who might have had an opinion, which we mostly kept to ourselves, as we much appreciated him regardless). Matt was Army, a junior officer, and Lex was Navy, and very senior.
Though I never met LeFon in person, we exchanged many emails, and he was one of the first to email and tell me to "stay frosty," in the wake of my own blog getting shut down in 2008 by command. (For a young lieutenant, certain that he'd stoked the full ire of the military beast for one rambling blog post, to hear reassuring words from a retired TOPGUN pilot was ... comforting, to say the least.)
Stay frosty, our saber fencing aficionado fighter pilot said. More than a mere slogan, that was exactly the right advice, delivered at exactly the right moment, to someone who needed it from someone who really was, simply put, the most interesting man in the world.
He left us much too soon, and left us much to talk about. None of us are up to it just now.
Here are the last things he wrote about flying - about the flights he made in the last week of his life. WX CNX is shorthand for weather canceled; here Lex writes well of flying and not flying. But that's followed by a busy Saturday: "There are very few things to admire about a 0500 brief on a Saturday morning. The Weapons School lost some sorties during the course of the week due to weather, and quality being the measure by which all things are reckoned, they would have to be made up. . . ." But Early Go is not a complaint, it's about the seriousness of the flying business.
Headed back to the field down low to stay out of the way. With plenty of gas left I hugged the deck and shot the gaps between mountains and foothills. Popped up when clear of the fight to fly a ground controlled approach, just for the training that was in it. It's important to work hard at such things when the conditions are easy to ensure that you can do them when they're not. And yes, the controller overshot my turn to final. I was on deck by 0830 or so, having flown more Kfirs before 0900 than most will fly in their lifetimes.A Streamer is a parachute that fails to properly deploy. The parachute that earned itself a title in the next entry in Lex's collection of flying tales was expected to slow his jet upon landing, and did not.
I supposed it had to happen eventually, everybody has one in time. And I had mine yesterday.By the time I read "Streamer" I'd already heard the bad news, and those words took me back to Andy Olmsted's final bit of prose, written pre and posted post. I thought for a moment Lex had done the same, but this was not the case. "Streamer" was an account of something went wrong the day before, something he walked away from, another lesson learned. That made it similar to Rain Seal, the first post in his last series. Therein another little piece of the plane that failed earned itself a title.
It's funny how quickly you can go from "comfort zone" to "wrestling snakes" in this business.
That quote from "Streamer." I think many might conjure the wrong mental image from that - that most of us imagine something out of Indiana Jones. But I suspect the guy who wrote Streamer and Early Go and Wx Canx and Rain Seal wrestled snakes with his heart rate only slightly elevated from comfort zone level. He was frosty. Those posts don't have exclamation points. He didn't use them, they were not in his vocabulary.
Had you noticed?
So when you fly at Lex's shoulder - which is what you do when you read his words - don't add imaginary exclamation points to what you hear him say.
Those of us who knew him - whether we met him or not - will tip a bit of Guinness tonight at 6 Pacific, wherever we are. If you can't make that time, any other will do.
And leave a comment here. I have it on good authority there are those who will much appreciate it.