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“As a pilot, seeing the flooding and storm damage of Hurricane Harvey from the air was remarkable. Flying over the huge span of Houston and seeing cars traveling at seemingly normal speeds, gave the impression that all was normal. Sadly, just off of that same highway were houses, businesses, and apartments with floodwater up to the eaves of their roofs. Cars were submerged with lights still on, underpasses of major tollways had water up to their bridges, and feral hogs along with other wildlife sat stranded on the back porches of evacuated, upscale, neighborhood homes. It was straight out of a Hollywood end-of-the-world movie.
This was not my first exposure to a hurricane’s devastation. In the early 90’s, I flew relief efforts in Hawaii on the island of Kauai the days following Iniki. The damage was bad there, and lives were forever impacted by that storm, but the flooding in Houston was much worse. Hurricane Harvey’s damage was so random, insidious, and utterly complete.
The core of our mission in Houston was to provide “eyes from above” for law enforcement seeking information on victims in distress. Providing real-time information to rescue boats was vital to the people still in harm’s way. The second mission was to help distribute medical supplies, food, and water as the storm progressed east. Shouldering this load allowed the Coast Guard and other military aircraft to continue with their own life-saving mission as the storm progressed.
Working with the Red Cross as they used new technology to survey the damage and provide better, more accurate and more rapid information to FEMA proved vital for the victims of Harvey as well. This information helped provide funds to victims faster than ever, getting folks from Corpus Christi to the Louisiana Border out of shelters and into hotels – one step closer to starting their long road to recovery. The outreach of Texans and the entire country was breathtaking. Seeing people’s resilient community spirit and willingness to give, help, support, and most of all – Pray – was, and still is, moving. Food, water, and medical supplies were donated by the ton. Delivering these important resources it to those in need makes a person proud to be, not just an American, but a human being.”
– Richard Potts of Last Shadow
“You lose track of time when you are deployed. You’re not really sure what day it is – Let alone the month. The way I tracked time was by events. Things like holidays and birthdays work out well when you are with a bunch of friends – Someone is always getting ready to celebrate something. “Sherm” was one of the guys in my platoon. He was an awesome guy. Always had a smile on his face, and always had a lighter even though he didn’t smoke.
One day, we were getting ready to roll out of the compound for a mission and Sherm walked to the vehicles with me even though he wasn’t rolling with us that night. He reminded me that it was almost Thanksgiving and said I’d better make sure I didn’t do anything stupid, because he didn’t want to set my place for me at the table in the chow hall. See, when deployed, we set a place at the table for our fallen brothers as a way to honor their memory. We geared up and headed out. That night, my vehicle was hit by an IED. A big one. I ended up breaking my leg and got evacuated to the CSH. As soon as I could sneak out of my hospital room, I hobbled outside for a smoke. Just as I started to get frustrated because I couldn’t find a lighter, I heard a familiar North-eastern accent in the dark say “What the hell did I tell you?”. I looked up and saw Sherm’s face in the dim flicker of his lighter’s flame. He’d jumped on a convoy that was headed to the base I was at, to make sure I was alright. He was a good dude like that.
Thanksgiving came and went and we checked that marker off of our mental calendar… That much closer to going home. A few weeks and a few missions later, Sherm and I found ourselves headed up to the main base, escorting the command element of our company to a meeting. This was great news for us because it meant hot showers, soft beds, shopping at the PX and best of all, we were picking up mail. Christmas was getting close, so the packages were coming from home, full of good food and memories of loved ones. When it was time to head back to the company, we ended up swapping places in the convoy. His vehicle was full of mail and packages, so he couldn’t bring up the rear of the convoy. That meant my vehicle was pushed to the rear position and Sherm was in front of me. We did our checks and staged to roll. As we were driving through the dark, I remember thinking that this place wasn’t so bad. I was full, rested, and bringing a Stryker full of Christmas presents back to my friends. Looking at the glow of Sherm’s vehicle in my thermals – it was that moment that I saw the flash. The deafening blast sucked the wind out of my chest. Sherm’s vehicle was hit. When we stopped, I could see the burning letters floating through the sky like giant fireflies.
That Christmas, I set Sherm’s place at the table for the fallen.
Every holiday, deployed or at home, I set an extra space. There is always a plate and a drink for my friends that can’t make it. They are warmly remembered for the small things, and they will never be forgotten.”
– Steve M.
US Army Retired
“In June 2017, my team was called to assist in locating and capturing three escaped inmates in a very rural part of the state. One of the inmates was awaiting trial for murder – All were believed to be violent. I was given information that at least two of them were possibly camping along a river just outside a small rural community, so I drove to near their rumored location and continued on foot.
Immediately after reaching the riverbank, I observed one of the escapees drinking from the river, and notified air and ground assets to converge on my location to set up a perimeter. After several of my partners arrived, we began to move closer to the subject while the helo approached and confronted the escapee across the river. I had shouldered my AR and my partner began giving commands. The escapee turned and rushed up the embankment to disappear into the thick woods, evading the eyes of our aircraft overhead.
I remember looking at my partner, asking him if he could swim as we both darted for the river. We made our way through the water just fine until a channel in the middle had us completely submerged, including our gear.
As a young infantry soldier, it was instilled in me to keep my weapon operational at all cost. I could only think about how disappointed my TL would be if he were watching…
After several hours and a 1.5-mile foot pursuit to test our endurance, we took the accused murderer into custody, along with his fellow escapees.
Fortunately, these extreme events don’t occur every day, but they are happening more frequently. I continue to learn from every event I find myself in – Good and bad. Looking back as a kid, growing up bow hunting, learning to track in the woods, and getting the most important firearms lessons from my Grandfather, a WWII Vet, one could say I’ve been training for this my whole life. Certainly, being polished by the US ARMY and all the LE Training I’ve taken along the way have honed my abilities as well. We never know when our life experiences will come together and give us the tools necessary to navigate an extreme scenario like that night on the riverbank, but when they happen, we must be ready to use them without hesitation, at a moment’s notice.
My credo for operational success; “Always testing myself and my equipment”
20 Year LEO/SWAT Team Ldr/FA Instructor/Federal Fugitive Task Force Officer/11B!!
“I was pregnant, gave birth, and spent 6 months with our baby while my husband was deployed.
The life of a military wife is often overlooked – often under-appreciated by the outside world. We do our jobs, raise our families, and support a hero at war in good times and bad. The life of a military wife is not a glamorous one, but it’s my life.
The moment I realized how different my pregnancy would be was at my 20 week ultrasound. This appointment is arguably one of the most significant milestones in any pregnancy, especially in anticipation of learning the sex of the baby. My husband and I coordinated a call at 11 PM (Iraq time) so he could be as much a part of the event as possible. My mom and cousin had also accompanied me, so I wouldn’t be alone.
As they set me up for my ultrasound, we got my husband on the phone. Right away, the technician rudely told us we needed to hang up. Assuming she didn’t understand, we explained the situation, but she wouldn’t budge, insisting we could not use cell phones in the room. Claiming it was “Policy” (true) and that cell phones “Mess with the equipment” (untrue), the technician adamantly opposed our arguments to keep my husband on the phone.
At this point, after many failed attempts, we had to hang up. I was upset and wanted to leave. I remember thinking to myself “These two women in the room with me have taken time out of their schedule and traveled to this appointment – I must carry on.”
It’s unfortunate that this is my memory of one of the most treasured moments in my life, and one that I am not able to “redo”, as we have been unable to have more children. Despite hard times, loneliness, anger and frustration, military wives must stay strong for our families and loved ones. Delivering a baby, four more nerve-racking hospital visits after the birth, and my father being diagnosed with prostate cancer during the experience tested every last bit of my physical and emotional strength – But I had a mission of my own, and there was no giving up.
Our husbands put their lives in danger every single day, yet the world at home continues – mostly as if nothing is happening. When following up with my OBGYN, the health care facility sent someone to talk about policy and how the technician was correct in her actions. I expressed my disappointment in their stance and pleaded to make exceptions when there are extenuating circumstances such as this, and that I hoped no one else had to experience this.
Perhaps some silver lining to our story – I’ve heard hospitals have become more accepting of calls like mine in recent years. Most importantly for me – I came out on the other side with my little buddy, and we’ve since had many happy, healthy years together as a family.”
Strength, courage, determination and a heart for service toward the greater good. You are a protector, a caretaker, compassionate and brave. When most instinctively run away from danger, you instinctively run towards it to help. These traits are in your blood. May is Military Appreciation Month, as well as houses Law enforcement Week, Armed Forced Day, Military Spouse Appreciation Day and Memorial Day. For these reasons, and countless others, we pause to recognize our greatest Heroes – and their unwavering resolve to defend and preserve our great nation. Whether fighting for our freedom, defending justice, providing for a quality life back home, or standing up for our constitutional rights, we honor all who Hold the Line.
This month, we’ll be sharing a few “Stories from the Line”.
From military wives, to hurricane relief. A police chase, to remembering a fallen brother-in-arms. The events recounted had an impact on their authors, and all of us in some way, directly or indirectly.
We’d love to honor, recognize and share your stories too, Vortex Nation. You can respond to this e-mail or submit your story at email@example.com
You made the shot, your adrenaline was pumping, and through the excitement, you forgot your rangefinder. Thankfully, one year later when you miraculously find it, trampled by cows in the brush, we’ve still got you covered 100%.
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We hope you have a blast!
Looks like his weekend will no longer be going as planned…
…he immediately decided to implement a new “Door-Buster” promotion…
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…Teddy Roosev-elf revealed one critical flaw in his method of payment…
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