My high school classmate Ed had a great laugh. And frequently he was laughing at me. I was a liberal at age 16, and he ridiculed my go-out-and-save-the-world enthusiasm. At the time I thought I wanted to be a journalist, so I could fight for the right and bring down the establishment.
Ed was going to be the establishment. He wanted to fly. He was going to join the Navy, become a pilot, stay a few years, and then go work for an airline.
I did not become a journalist. I read the Great Books, fell in love. Changed my politics (the Carter economy had a lot to do with that). Got a job. Got married. Got so busy I lost contact with pretty much everybody.
Ed did join the Navy. And damn if he didn't have the smarts and the guts to become a Navy pilot after all.
I heard about his death around Christmas in 1983. Ed was pilot of a U.S. Navy aircraft on a taxiway at a stateside base. Something went wrong with another plane and it came over and hit his aircraft. Four men killed, as I recall. But the only one I cared about was Ed. I can't find any information now. It has gotten to where if I can't find it on the internet, I start to doubt my memory. Plus I'm getting old.
Anyway. Damn. He was a good man.
His death makes as little sense to me now thirty years later as it did at the time. Those deaths "in the line of duty" don't always make "sense" and they are not always Hollywood material.
We used to tease each other mercilessly in high school.
Thinking of you today, Ed.