Editor’s Note: We received this letter this morning from an EA-18G Growler maintainer assigned to VAQ-139. The Cougars are currently underway aboard the U.S.S. Carl Vinson, the host vessel of Carrier Air Wing 17. As many of you are aware, a tragic incident occurred on 12 September. Two F/A-18C Hornets, one from VFA-113 and the other from VFA-94, collided with each other mid-air, resulting in the loss of both aircraft. One of the pilots was quickly rescued and is recovering aboard the Vinson. The other pilot, now identified as Lieutenant Nathan Poloski, age 26 from Lake Arrowhead, California, is missing and presumed dead.
As CAG 17 mourns the loss of one of its own, we thank you for taking a moment to read this message from one American who truly understands the freedoms granted to those of us who find shelter beneath the Stars and Stripes.
RE: Concerning the lost aviator
If there’s any way possible, I’d like to get a brief message to the commanding officer of the USS Carl Vinson. This may not be important in the grand scheme of things, but it’s important to me.
I’m a cab driver for Coronado Cab Company, and me and my co-workers drive Vinson sailors every time the ship is in port. When we heard about the loss of the two F18s, and the missing aviator, we talked about it on the cab stands. We felt bad. One of our drivers has a daughter in the Marines, and one driver is in the Naval Reserves.
We’re just cab drivers, ordinary people living ordinary American lives, and as such we normally take for granted the safety and security we have. Those two things, safety and security, are the reason we can normally be oblivious of world events, and just live our safe little lives. But, with the loss of a brave pilot, it made us think for a little while that our cocoon of safety is actually guaranteed by people who volunteered to make sacrifices on our behalf. Sadly, somebody just made the ultimate sacrifice — for us. That means something. The loss wasn’t in vain. It wasn’t just a workplace accident. It was a sacrifice for others. I hope the family and people who knew the lost aviator fully understand that. If the loss is felt by a taxi driver, I believe it’s felt by a lot of people in America.
The BBC News story paid more attention to the value of the jets, $57 million each, than the lost aviator. We have a budget of — what? –$3.9 trillion? No context even for the monetary angle. All of that hurts because the largest news service on Earth is more interested in the cost of the machines, with no context, than the person who gave his life for others. Please remember that not everybody reads headlines at news sites, shrugs, and moves on. Some of us know the meaning of what happened. I wanted to read a profile of the aviator, where he’s from, why he decided to serve, and who he left behind — but I got none of that.
In Syria and Iraq and many other places in the world today, there are thousands, probably millions, of refugees because they lack basic security. They have no homes, no jobs, and are wondering if they will survive until tomorrow. We don’t have those problems here, because of you. What’s that really worth? Everything. I just wish somebody would explain that to the media and Capitol Hill. I just wished the media cared enough to tell the real story.
Thanks, everyone on the Vinson, for serving, and know that some ordinary Americans who don’t usually think about “the big picture” are thinking about it now.
Thanks for serving.
Ordinary American/Taxi driver