Dedication for this article goes to Ms. Samantha (Sam) Foster with great pride and admiration

The pine ceiling below our feet blurred by at some 90 KIAS.

“This must be the speed test they mentioned earlier, the pilots.” I conjectured as I threw my right leg over the pod so I could face forward — like Sam was already doing. At this speed, it was nearly unbearable to sit sideways and retain any semblance of composure. Sam leaned far forward, his legs crossed and locked under the pod, one hand tightly under the nylon web look on the pod and one arm up in the air like a rodeo rider.

“Wah-hoo!” he yelled as we flew.

Sam had the most entertaining ways of showing off that he wasn’t scared. If he was truly afraid I have absolutely no doubt in my pea-brain that he was fundamentally fearless under all circumstances; he was too intelligent to be scared, even in combat. The way Sam Foster figured it, he had combat right where he wanted it, and he was going to own it every time. There was just no question about it.

“This motherless bastard has got to be in God’s hands somehow,” I puzzled: “If I can stay close enough to him I should reside somewhere on one of God’s fingers at least!” I hoped.

There is another phenomenon associated with people of Sam’s nature. Yes, they did not clasp fear in their bosom, and they never got mad. I have never seen Sam mad. He was too well-composed to be mad. I saw him … less than enchanted, one time at the Turtle Kraals bar in Key West where we were together for a couple of pints of the Lord’s brew one eve.

Where we sat I noted before not too long that Sam had a death lock on a couple of Navy folk across the bar from us. They recognized Sam as one of “those Army divers from Trumbo Point.” A petty interservice rivalry was going caustic as the drunken sailors continued to harass him — Sam’s complexion grew terser by the nanosecond. There was a storm brewing and there would be fighting ahead.