November 20, 2007
November 20, 2007
The View from Up Here
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: On a sleepy Saturday morning at Liberty Municipal Airport a hangar door stands open, the middle one of the six-T-hangars. Squinting through the sunlight, we scan the shaded interior for our interviewee as we park the car. “There he is,” I motion to Mike. Eagerly, we step into the hangar for what would be an unforgettable experience.
Just twelve hours earlier we had been in that same hangar visiting with local pilot, Randy Sullivan. “I think I’ll give her a paint job for her fiftieth birthday, whatya think?” he said fondly of his Cessna 172. “Thanks to my sons saving me the college expense, I could afford this.” Eldest son, Jake, went to college on a baseball scholarship and younger son, Josh, went into the Air Force. “In fact, I have to get home pretty soon. Josh and his wife and the grandkids are coming in for the weekend.” Then he added with a quiet, fatherly pride, “My son flies C-130’s in the Air Force.” Seizing the opportunity, we asked, might this son be available for an interview? Later that evening we negotiated the time and place: meet them at the hangar tomorrow at 0815 hours. And now, here we were, about to interview one of today’s heroes.
Stepping out of the car, we entered the hangar, and there he was, mountains of biceps to contrast the flat lands of Liberty, and a smile as friendly as his physique is fit. “Hi, I’m Josh Sullivan,” he held out his hand to shake Mike’s and mine. U.S. Air Force Captain, C-130 driver, Liberty, Texas native, Joshua Sullivan. A visit with Josh is a gift in itself.
Mike: Randy, and Josh’s oldest son, Nick, joined Josh that morning for a men’s-day-out flight in Randy’s 172, and they took time out to visit with us before their family flight.
Jake and Josh Sullivan grew up here in Liberty, on a ranch off 770. The brothers played baseball together, both making Varsity in their Junior and Freshman years, respectively. Looking at his arms it was no surprise Josh also played football and power lifted. We later learned (Josh was too humble to say), that as a freshman he was third in the nation in power lifting.
But before the Air Force was ever a glint in Josh’s eye, he thought he’d play college ball, and wasn’t quite sure what would be after that. That is, until Grandma had an idea. “She’s the one who got it in my head. She suggested I consider the military,” he says with a grin of gratitude for Grandma. Josh would be the first in the Sullivan family to enter military service, and while you won’t hear this from him, we will tell you – he’s done it in style.
Next week come ready to read more in the second part of this five-week series. Till then, blue skies.
Mike and Linda can be reached at Texasavi8r@aol.com.