We all read and heard with sadness about the tragic loss of life when an F-18 Marine fighter jet collided with an KC-130 off the coast of Japan during a refueling exercise. Five crew members of the tanker were killed along with one of the members of the fighter. Only the pilot survived at last report. Among the dead was Daniel Baker of nearby Tremont, crew master on the KC-130.
Our condolences to the Baker family with thanks for Dan’s service to our country.
Dick Crain was a guest on our morning show, “Breakfast with Roger and Friends,” on FM 90.7. Dick, a graduate of Manual High School and Bradley University, is a former F-18 Navy pilot. During his military career, he refueled hundreds of times. We asked him about the dangers of the procedure. While not commenting about the recent tragedy in the skies over Japan that cost six lives, Crain said, “Pilots refuel every day, sometimes multiple times. After awhile, it becomes routine. However, like a cardiac surgeon, everyone has to focus and concentrate. One mistake can be a disaster.”
Crain knows what he’s talking about. He’s not only engaged in many refuelings, Crain has landed hundreds of times, day and night, on aircraft carriers and was an instructor for Navy pilots. Now a Southwest pilot, Crain, said landing on a carrier at night was always a nervous experience, but not as frightening as when he had to dodge an Iraqi ground-to-air missile. Crain ended our interview by extending his heartfelt condolences to the Daniel Baker family.
Thanks, Bob Baietto
Bob Baietto has retired from the Peoria County Board after more than 20 years of distinguished service. The Republican had an outstanding public service career and why not. He had the same kind of career in education as a teacher, coach and principal at Richwoods High School. I’m proud to say I recruited Bob to become a member of the County Board. He served without the usual partisanship politics that was all too common on both sides of the aisle. On issues, he voted on what was best for the people of Peoria County, not whether it was a Republican or Democrat measure. Taking his place is Rachel Reliford. Rachel is a talented executive with OSF Saint Francis Healthcare where she heads the physician recruitment division of management. While not having the same years of leadership experience as Baietto, Rachel is a skilled executive with excellent interpersonal skills and a vast amount of knowledge about government and public service. She’s a graduate of the University of Illinois in Springfield. Oh yes, I also recruited Rachel to run for County Board. I hope that information doesn’t ruin her reputation.
Creve Coeur Mayor Fred Lang and Village Clerk Kim Peak are to be commended for continuing the traditional Dec. 7 Pearl Harbor Memorial Ceremony started by the late Jerry Daughters. Daughters, former Creve Coeur Police Chief, organized the memorial over five years ago in remembrance of those who died and were wounded, Dec. 7, 1941. The memorial includes tributes for three Creve Coeur servicemen killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was an honor again to serve as emcee for the event.
Thank you, one and all
Many readers know I lost my wife of over 58 years the evening of Thanksgiving. Nancy was a wonderful and beautiful, giving and forgiving wife and mother. Diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2001, her battle ended after at least the past three years of medical challenges that included three near death episodes and many hospitalizations. Despite the ups and too many downs, she never complained to me, God, or anyone. I knew her “window of life” was getting smaller and smaller, but that knowledge did not soften the pain of her death. Still hasn’t.
I thank God for my family and friends. The support has been crucial and deeply appreciated. To one and all, thank you. You have given me strength and encouragement far beyond what I thought was possible.
Quote of the Month
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.” — Henri Nouwen