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Love

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. - 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder today.

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As it turned out, the weather cleared nearly the minute the ceremony started. I later told my dad, "I leave every door in the house open all the time. I wasn't raised in a barn, but I got married in one." I never told Missi this, but the night before the wedding, we (the guys) went to the Piano Bar and drank a little more than we should have. It was obviously Dallas' fault. I'm not accountable for any bad life choices he burdens me with. If you're wondering why I don't have more photos, stick around. It's not a short story.  

What's important to lock away in your brain this episode is not the romace of a wedding, that should be obvious by the first half of the narrative. What I hope you walk away with is the emergence of understanding or at least the willful acknowledgement by the guy pictured above that love and shadow cannot coexist. That love can neither exist, much less thrive in the shadow of deceit. The poignant irony of despising the cliche scripture quoted this chapter is that it is those words that I refused to live openly. But as the Providence of the story chipped away at the shell, more and more light came in, and I found myself living more in accordance with what I proclaimed to value, whether conscious of it or not. Growth isn't always a slow process of maturation. Sometimes it's a cognizant shedding of the parts of ourselves we don't need or the parts preventing growth in the first place.

The Honor Guard

Fun fact, a couple years prior to the wedding, the Honor Guard was finding itself short-staffed due to operations tempo and was left performing only Congressionally-mandated services (funerals) and official base protocol functions (retirements, colors presentations, etc.). Which meant no sanctioned unofficial ceremonies, volunteer or otherwise. Which meant NO WEDDINGS. So the Honor Guard did me a solid. Instead of wearing ceremonials, they wore modified service dress, and the Chief just happened to have the team sabers in his truck from "practice" a day before. My wedding gift to my "friends" who "were invited to attend" and just happened to all wear "uniform of the day" for the wedding was enlisted wheel caps. Improvise, adapt and overcome. I cherish these people.

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Another fun fact. The saber cordon is an ancient tradition, but "Kiss to Pass" is a distinctly American invention that only we hooligans would invent. The last guardsman on exit drops the saber to waist-level, parallel to the ground, denying passage to the bride and groom. What's critical here, is that the bride DOES NOT KNOW WHAT IS GOING ON. In a command voice, the guardsman commands, "KISS TO PASS." The dumb-playing groom (who's in on the plot) turns the bride away from the next-to last guardsman (the senior-most guardsman) and kisses her as a distraction. The senior guardsman winds up with his saber and smacks the bride broad-side with the saber square in the ass, and calls, "WELCOME TO THE AIR FORCE MA'AM!" Here's a toast to tradition!

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Wingmen

Big D and I have been through some shit together. Let's see... there was San Antonio, Alabama, Pensacola, Estes Park, Mt. Elbert... TWICE, Oklahoma, three different aircraft and bold-face memorization, a few weddings, and more "bad life choices" than we [can] remember. I introduced him to his wife by nearly getting them killed on a mountain top--I've got that going for me. So many nights at the piano bar. So many pitchers of Yuengling. So many rage-inducing fuck-ups on Guitar Hero. So many near-misses on speeding tickets. And this is just *before* I went to TACP. Dallas is one of the best human beings I've ever met, bar none. It's good that my best man was and is the best man I know. Because for all our shenanigans, a time would come later for heavy lifting, and Big D is "the best man." Also, GO STATE!

If sharing a cockpit with Dallas, remember: "CREW, CANOPY, CORDS, MASK, HARNESS, CROUCH, DIVE, PULL." Ironically, Dallas is somehow still the kind of guy that would not open his chute until he made sure yours opened. Ask me how I know.

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Commander's Letter

This is the moment my MCC read the letter aloud to Missi about the postponement of my deployment. For the record, the Commander's "gift" was actually tongue-in-cheek, as our crew was bumped to the next rotation, and not just me. But the letter played well to the sentimental audience. The Commander chuckled out loud as he wrote it in his office.

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It's a barn. Of course dogs are invtied. What, you think we're savages? Millie was quite the dancer.

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