HOW TO BE MARRIED TO A MARINE FIGHTER PILOT--A Marine Corps pilot's wife: F-4s, F/A-18s and aviators from my perspective.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Aviator Brief XXI: Dark Waters #2

What could go wrong, would go wrong, and ejections were no exception. Jack Hartman on the USS Saratoga was on the catapult to launch. The bridle connecting his jet to the cat broke on one side and the catapult flung him and the plane from zero to two hundred miles per hour in six seconds--twisted sideways with one wing forward. He knew the plane would never fly, so he ejected.

His plane crashed in front of the carrier.

He floated down to the sea surface directly in front of the bow of the ship going twenty-five knots. The aircraft carrier ran over him. The last thing he remembered while underwater was the sound of the screws, with blades twice the size of a Volkswagen. No one could figure out how he was spat out by the wash without the parachute or parachute cords tangling in the blades.

It wasn’t always enough to be good--sometimes an aviator had to be lucky.

What could go wrong, would go wrong. Yep. My life resembled that.

Give Andy a cross-country or a TDY or send him overseas and that was when the car wouldn’t start and our dog would bite me trying to get through me to the tow truck driver. Thank goodness for neighbors to drive me to the hospital to have my artery repaired--and clean up the half inch of blood in the entryway while my three little girls watched with wide eyes.

Three weeks into his year overseas, I’d discover I was pregnant with our second child--and then six months into the pregnancy, I was put on bed rest for two and a half months. Have you ever tried being on bed rest with a two year old? What could I do? I called my mom. Thank you, Mom. My mom didn’t wrap my two year old in duct tape and I didn’t wrap my mother in duct tape either--though we were both tempted. What do women do without a mom close by and willing to put their life on hold for months on end?

He left one weekend and my cat fell off the headboard of our bed on to my face and I drove myself to the ER holding a pad over my eye to hold my upper eyelid together.

Ask any spouse with a partner in the military and I bet they have stories of their significant other gone and things gone wrong. What did we do when that happened? We dealt with what we had to deal with. We asked for help from the other people in our lives. We hoped we’d survive even when we were deep underwater and heard the screws turning.

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