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  #1  
Old 01-02-2020, 02:11 AM
Scott Chastain's Avatar
Scott Chastain Scott Chastain is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: KMCE
Posts: 341
Default A Silence

The sun was already high up and shining brightly when I finally decided to get out of bed. It was the year 2020, and the percussion of mortars from the night before still punctured my memory like the blind bursting of complete darkness, of a part of my life that had been blown away, hopelessly and irrevocably, as into a void. There was that hollowness in the gut that often precedes a flight where uncertainty must have its way no matter how well-planned the flight is. The mortars reverberated in my brain as if exploding on some great battlefield where the world itself was tenuously hinged, and as I packed my gear and headed out the door, my dog was whining because she had to stay home without me.

I was airborne out of Merced (MCE) less than an hour later heading south at 11,500 feet. The Sierra Nevada range rose snow-capped to the port side, and further south, a portion of the San Joaquin Valley lay buried under a pale scab of fog.





Crossing over snow-strewn Tehachapi and continuing past Edwards AFB, I watched the ground speed pick up to about 208 knots as a hefty tailwind lifted me past the San Gabriel Mountains and Big Bear.











The descent beyond Palm Springs was relatively smooth, and making a diving entry into the downwind for Runway 24, I landed after only 1.7 hours of flight at the Chiriaco Summit Airport (L77), a 330-mile jaunt.





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  #2  
Old 01-02-2020, 02:13 AM
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Scott Chastain Scott Chastain is offline
 
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Default A Silence

I did not have much of an appetite when I landed. The headwinds in store on the way back to Merced were sure to be as pressing as the lack of time I had. It was already after 1 PM, so I walked past the caf? and approached what I actually came to see: The General Patton Memorial Museum.





An integral part of preparations for the Allied invasion of North Africa---Operation Torch---took place in the area known as the Desert Training Center from 1942-1944. What began as a simple memorial to Patton?s endeavors at the site eventually blossomed into the museum that exists today, detailing everything from the attack on Pearl Harbor to the rise of Nazi Germany and the events leading up to the Jewish Holocaust. I was able to spend about an hour at the site.













There was a couple sitting alone in the museum theatre watching a film on the USO, seemingly swept into the past as the haunting swing-beat of the time carried another couple over the dance floor. It was the music of the war.



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  #3  
Old 01-02-2020, 02:17 AM
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Scott Chastain Scott Chastain is offline
 
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Default A Silence

Outside, an array of mechanized tank armor was arranged loosely on the desert sand. A large hangar housed a smaller assembly of war vehicles that were deemed more worthy of protection from the elements.









In the midst of the weaponry was spread an assembly of concrete pews before an altar of mortared stone. The outdoor chapel served as a reminder that freedom comes with a heavy cost---a cost that must often be paid when least expected.





Back inside, I paused for a time and felt the same raw churning void in my gut that I?d felt earlier that day. But it was more than just a feeling of uncertainty this time. It was far more than that. Rather, it was certainty. It was the certainty that the world was once again becoming bent toward a path---the very path this museum was attempting to teach the world to avoid. There was nobody else there who could hear me speak it, so I walked away in silence.



I went back to the plane and pre-flighted, then I climbed in and strapped it on. Heading home, the Pacific Ocean bore the beams of the sun beyond the Los Angeles Basin like the descent of glory from on high.



The heaving haze writhed over the Tehachapi Mountains as I entered again over the gaping swath of the San Joaquin Valley.



Then the first day of the new year fell away from me with the corroded glow of the West. And when I landed, it was still silent.

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  #4  
Old 01-02-2020, 06:07 AM
kaweeka kaweeka is offline
 
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Nice! Thanks for that piece.
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  #5  
Old 01-02-2020, 07:53 AM
jbDC9 jbDC9 is offline
 
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Yep, nice.
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  #6  
Old 01-02-2020, 09:06 AM
Denase Denase is offline
 
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I enjoyed that very much. Very well done.
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  #7  
Old 01-02-2020, 09:42 AM
don.olandese don.olandese is offline
 
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Default very nice.

have had some of those feelings before. thanks.
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  #8  
Old 01-02-2020, 10:55 PM
rcsilvmac rcsilvmac is offline
 
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Location: NorCal
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Great write up. We have been fortunate to live in a country and time that has kept us from much conflict. Unfortunately it is the human, tribal, condition that keeps us from sustained peace. Let's all hope for many more decades of relatively peaceful world stability.
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  #9  
Old 01-03-2020, 09:01 AM
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Quacked Quacked is offline
 
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Great pics and write-up Scott. Anyone who has ever heard a shot fired in anger can easily relate to that feeling. The current events unfolding around the globe are doing nothing to allay that uneasiness either. We dropped off our currently serving offspring at the airport last night as he reports to his unit that had a portion rapidly deploy this week. We pray for peace and that he makes it home in one piece like every generation before him has done.
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