Today, the Navy released the name of the F/A-18 pilot who lost his life a few days ago flying from the USS Carl Vinson. It was a tragic incident in which a young man lost his life just as he was reaching the fullness of his pursuit.

I did not know Nathan Poloski, but I know his type. He was a young man, just 26, undoubtedly full of motivation and desire. If I know anything, I know he was excited to finally hit the Fleet; he joined the Mighty Shrikes just a brief four months ago in April – after a long slog through flight school and the RAG.

(Photo Courtesy of Nathan's Facebook Page)
(Photo Courtesy of Nathan’s Facebook Page)

I know that he was fired up to finally be part of the team, to join his brothers and sisters as they sailed off to play their poignant part in history. I know that there is another pilot sitting safe on Vinson who is wracked with survivor’s guilt and shame, though there is nothing to feel guilty about or be ashamed for. I know that there is a proud squadron, men and women, enlisted and officers, who are suffering a deep sadness and shocking sense of loss.

There is a hole in their hearts that will not heal soon–perhaps ever. They will remember Nathan and toast him forever whenever two or more are gathered with drinks in hand. I know for sure that there is a family grieving at home. People who loved Nathan more than their own breath, who have been brought to their knees with shock and pain and disbelief. The hole in their hearts will certainly never heal.

(Photo Courtesy of Nathan's Facebook Page)
(Photo Courtesy of Nathan’s Facebook Page)

I didn’t know Nathan personally, but there’s a good chance he whooped into his mask as the catapult stroke shot him off into the cloudless sky. I know that as he raised his gear and accelerated over those beautiful blue waters he was full of life and purpose. His mind was focused on the future. On the rendezvous with his lead, on that day’s mission, on that deployment, on how great it was to be flying at that moment.

I know Nathan was lost too soon, and that he will be missed forever.

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(Photo Courtesy of Nathan’s Facebook Page)

Fair Winds and Following Seas, Nathan.

Letter to the Commanding Officer, U.S.S. Carl Vinson (CVN-70)

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(Featured Image Courtesy: LA Times)