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Combat Pilots: Kim and Eddie MAG
It was just after Desert Storm. The call came for two brave pilots I knew and loved – my aunt and uncle. A no-fly zone had just been declared over Iraq, and fighter pilots were ordered to shoot down any Iraqi planes in the air.
When they arrived, it was rainy and cold on the runway. Dressed in flight suits, the two walked to their planes with their many badges ringing like bells.
“Be careful. I love you,” Kim whispered to Eddie.
“I will, and you too.”
They boarded their planes and prepared for flight. Their mission was to fly over Iraq and refuel U.S. fighter jets. And the Iraqis had guns that could shoot down planes.
“Please, God, keep my husband and me safe,” Kim prayed.
Eddie sped down the runway, preparing to raise the nose of his plane to take off. Kim was in line right behind him. Their nerves made them even more anxious to get in the air to do the job. The sooner they began, the sooner they would be done.
Two hours later, a call came in from an A10 flying over northwest Iraq that needed refueling. Kim started toward the coordinates. She pulled up next to the jet as she had many times before. It was an easy routine for her. The planes were 15 feet from each other. It still amazed Kim to see a huge plane that close to hers. She ordered the boom operator to begin refueling the jet. She knew that every second in the air, they were at high risk of being shot down.
When the jet was refueled, she flew to an area just north of the Iraq border to await her next call. Many thoughts raced through her mind. Where is Eddie? Is he all right? Has he entered Iraq yet? It scared her that Eddie could be out there hurt and she would not know until she landed. If he got hurt, could she go on without him? She needed to stay positive if she was going to get through this. Everything was going to be okay.
As Eddie refueled an F16, he thought of Kim and hoped she was okay. What would he do without her? His thoughts were interrupted by a call on the radio. It said that the next shift of planes was approaching and he could land.
Eddie headed back to base. When he arrived, Kim had already landed. When they saw each other, they felt huge weights lift off their shoulders. They were both safe, and for the moment they didn’t have to worry. They were still alive; that was all that mattered.
Later that day, they heard that a fighter jet on their shift had been shot at. To this day, they think about the danger they had been in. Now, with a three-year-old son, Chance, life seems even more valuable. Who would he have if something happened to them?
They are still pilots but value every second of life with their son as if it were their last. They love their job and always say they “wouldn’t trade it for anything.”