Monday, May 28, 2012

A Memorial Day treat: Meeting General Steve Ritchie.

Today I had the honor and privilege of being one of the people behind the scenes of the DC Memorial Day Parade. I didn't do much but I was blessed to meet and talk with many vets who did do a lot in the service of this great country, including Brigadier General Richard Stephen "Steve" Ritchie, USAF (ret).

It was a blisteringly hot and sticky day, and the General, who could have spent the time before the parade start sitting in an air-conditioned closed car, instead met and talked with several former Marines from the Beirut campaign, and he also graciously gave me some of his time.
During the course of our discussion, I mentioned that I was a pilot, still flying the Cessna 172. General Ritchie replied that he had "quite a few hours in the Cessna 172" as well. Uh, yeah..and quite a few other aircraft, too. Like the F-4 Phantom jet that he used to score five kills in Vietnam, and the F-104 Starfighter that he still flies today with the Starfighters Demo Team.

Pity that I didn't know about this last bit until I got home and did some research. I aso did not know that he'd run for Congress as a Goldwater Republican back in the post-Watergate days, but I could have guessed as his political bent when he told me about how he'd participated in previous Presidential Inaugurations from Kennedy's to Reagan's, after which he expressed a thought very near to my own concerning his desire for another Obama inaugural ceremony. Hell, I knew that I liked him right then and there. (He also spoke well of Ed Rasimus. Small world that Air Force, eh?)

He posed for the above picture with me, and as his delightful wife Marina (I hope I got that right) took the picture, he exclaimed: "Beat Navy!"

I meet a lot of people in passing, but few are as open and friendly as General Ritchie was, taking the time to talk with some guy who just walked up out of nowhere when he could have easily brushed me off and gotten himself out of the oppressive heat of the day.

Hell, if he runs for Congress again, he's got my vote.

5 comments:

  1. That was fantastic. Good man and as always VERY understated on what they did.

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  2. One of the funniest stories we unearthed for the Robin Olds book was when Ritchie met Olds for the first time. Apparently he knew nothing about Robin beyond the four-kills in Vietnam in the F-4. Ritchie introduced himself with "I'm Steve Ritchie, and I've got five MiG kills in the F-4."

    Olds, shook his hand and said, "How nice for you..." and walked away.

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  3. Gen. Olds was still The Man, Ed. Thanks for sharing that.

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