A little over a year after we me, Ice left the military. He’d done ten years and wanted to try something different. To be honest he said he was a little tired of the structured life.
Ice started civilian life by moving two hours away from me, and he often drove down so we could hang out. On his first visit we met up and we drove around in my tiny economy car. Ice had a larger vehicle, but the kid in him wanted to stick his head out of my sunroof - so silly. I took him to one of my favorite burger places where we both broke rank as he ordered steak fajitas and I ordered chicken strips.
As we ate our meal Ice eagerly told me about his life outside the military. He still woke up very early in the morning, but had to get used to not wearing a uniform. As an officer he was accustomed to entering a room and people saluting him, now they just stared because he’s tall. Ice hadn’t found a job yet, and asked what I thought he should do next.
“Why don’t you become a commercial airline pilot? You can fly and that makes you happy.” As soon as I said that the look on Ice’s face made me regret my words.
“Fluffy, that’s not an option. I have no desire to fly again, ever.” Ice leaned back in the booth and took a long drink from his beer glass.
“What’s wrong? I’ve seen that look on your face too many times, and I don’t like it. I didn’t pry before, but now I am. Why don’t you want to fly?”
To honor Ice, his privacy and our friendship and I can’t tell the specifics, but will give a brief summary. When he was stationed on the East Coast, he became aware of an issue that he ethically could not keep to himself. When Ice reported the issue, it was seen as a weakness and insubordination by some of his superiors. This did not sit well with Ice (soldiers’ lives were in danger) and he called them on it. A commanding officer retaliated by removing him from his pilot duties and gave him a desk job. The remainder of his military career was spent doing administrative assignments.
Ice said what angered him and left a bitter taste in his mouth worked in his favor. Had he kept his same job he would have ended up flying missions in Afghanistan, definitely not a place he wanted to go. His new assignments allowed him to capitalize on his social skills, connect with the media and interacting with the public. The commanding officer thought he was punishing Ice, but he actually opened new doors for him.
I watched Ice very closely as he shared his story. Despite the talk about new doors opening I saw that heaviness on him I witnessed the summer before. Guys aren’t supposed to show emotion, but this man was hurt. And then I became angry.
“Ice, that’s just not right! I haven’t forgotten the stories you told me about your Grandpa and his model planes. You’ve wanted to fly planes since you were a kid. And they took that from you just because they could, because you did the right thing. That ticks me off. It’s not fair.”
Ice smiled, reached across the table and held my hand.
“It’s okay. It actually pissed them off more when they saw I was happier with the new MOS. One perk was that I got to organize a workshop that brought you, my Fluffy Girl, into my life. I’m thankful for that.”
So what does Ice have in common with Sir Thomas More? Sir Thomas More took on the King of England and Ice took on the military. Sir Thomas More was martyred; Ice kept his physical wings but his dreams of flying were murdered. Sir Thomas More was canonized a Saint because it was believed he performed miracles after his death; Ice is now in medical school where God will work miracles through his hands.
Oh, I forgot to mention Ice joined a new branch of the military so he could attend medical school for free. I sure hope the officer that did him in will never need his services.
Question: Have you ever taken a stand when it wasn’t popular to do so?
Scripture: 1 Peter 3:13-17