Last November, I was able to fill in an unimaginable childhood dream of mine. I was able to fly along with the Blue Angels, yes, those Blue Angels. I've always thought of them since seeing them in an airshow when I was a child. It was a fantastic ride, a wonderful experience.
After my ride-along, I became friends and stayed in contact with the Angels. I was chatting with now Angel number five Cary, aka Chewy, and said I want to feed him the other Angels and the troops. I wanted to do a thank you surprise meal, so we put the plan into motion, checked the tour schedule, and they were coming to Georgia in April. We decided to make it happen. Let's make it a surprise. I'll prepare some pulled pork, and some brisket will drive it over to surprise the troops and feed them. My way of saying thank you. Chewy wasn't the angel I saw flying in the sky over two decades ago, but he still carries on the lineage and title. Far too often, I think people in his role don't realize their massive impact on the people who watch what they do.
The menu was going to be pulled pork sandwiches with some smoke brisket and a lemon pickled coleslaw, which I ended up forgetting, but sometimes that happens. So I spent some time acquiring the meats. I left at roughly 7 in the morning after smoking; a brisket and pork all night are used to drive time which was just shorter than four hours to allow all the meat to rest and remain juicy and be hot and ready to serve. We arrived just before the 11:30 setup, and you could immediately smell BBQ in the air. The troops followed their nose and, to their surprise. Waiting for them was a buffet of fresh wood-smoked barbecue, and you should have seen the smiles on their faces. I explained to them that this was just my way of saying thank you for the smiles in the best way I know-how. With a plate of BBQ, everyone ate, talked, and had a great time sharing stories, but there's still one surprise left.
I gifted Angels one through six a smoker. With some friends and contacts over at Kingsford, I will have a pallet of coal delivered to their base in Pensacola for them to pick up as much charcoal as they'll need. This, for me, was just an additional way to show thanks and gratitude for what they do. It was just an excellent way to return the joy and wonder gifted to me years ago.
Of course, I couldn't go to the airshow and not stay and watch the show, and as always, I was in amazement of what these young men and women are able to do especially after being in one myself. The precision of their timing and their control is second to none, and if you think those jets are loud. Try sitting with a group of children who are in awe and astonishment roaring and cheering for them. I guarantee you they are 10 times louder than all Angels taking off at the same time. I was recognized by an older gentleman running a youth group camp for some young men who are going through some troubling times. He asked me if I could speak to them as some of them were familiar with me and wanted to say hello. I shook their hands, heard their stories, and expressed who I was. Before leaving, I passed on a word of advice. "No matter how loud it gets, your voice should always be the clearest". I said my goodbyes, we packed up our things, and we hit the road before leaving, I made sure I told the Angels as long as they're in Georgia, I'll always make sure they have a great plate of barbecue waiting for them when they land. With that being said, Chewy Whiskers, the whole crew, I'll see you guys in November thanks for the memories.