Falcon's Cry: A Desert Storm Memoir

By Denise Donnelly; Michael Donnelly | Go to book overview

Nordo

November 1997

We didn't yet have the new modified van when I went to the South Windsor Rotary Club to accept my service award the other night, so we had to use the minivan. Getting in and out, what's known in the trade as "transferring," has become difficult. I used to be able to hook my hands into the window opening, haul my body up, slowly twist around and then fall backwards into my seat. Now, though, my arms are stiffer, and I have almost no strength left in my legs. I just can't help much with the transfer. Especially when I'm wearing dress shoes that don't have any traction.

We make it into the banquet hall, despite the difficulties, and Sue feeds me antipasto, baked ziti, and filet mignon so rare I worry it might bleed to death on my plate. When award time comes, I begin to get nervous about making my acceptance speech. I've always been pretty good at public speaking, and in fact have suffered unfairly from a reputation of being something of a jokester. This time is different, though. It's not jokes that are on my mind.

I've been planning this speech for weeks, ever since I learned about the award. Not just what I'm going to say. That's the easy part. I am worried more about how I will manage with the microphone, if anyone will understand me. If I will keep my composure and not let the frustration I have come to live with well up and drown my words.

As for speech, it has become harder not just because of my uncooperative muscles, but because I can tell people are not understanding me. I can see them trying to hide their confusion, trying to pretend they understand as they intently watch my lips. I repeat my words to try to make them clearer. Mostly, I'm nordo these days: I'm flying no radio, and while I can still receive messages, I can't transmit my situation, my position.

In conversation, I sometimes find it easier to say nothing at all. The frustration never diminishes, but I am learning to let the little things go unsaid, undone. No longer a participant, I sit in my chair and observe life from a distance. In my head, I interject an occasional witty remark and even catch myself smiling at the imagined appreciation of my humor.

-235-

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Falcon's Cry: A Desert Storm Memoir
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Preface ix
  • Part I Air Warrior 1
  • Needle, Ball and Air Speed 3
  • Part II The Widening Gyre 13
  • The Apple Wars 15
  • Wild Blue Yonder 23
  • Velocity and Vector 39
  • Part III Victory Takes Wings 53
  • Lines in the Sand 55
  • Peaceday, Warday 67
  • Crossing the Fence 81
  • Crud 101
  • How Do You Spell Victory? 111
  • Part IV The Wings of Icarus 123
  • No Joy 127
  • Solo 137
  • Bogeys 147
  • Near Miss 156
  • Lost Wingman 170
  • Homecoming 184
  • A Full 360 204
  • Bandits, Twelve O'Clock 220
  • Part V Fallen Angels 231
  • Nordo 235
  • Epilogue 243
  • A Fighter Pilot's Glossary of Terms 245
  • Congressional Report-- House of Representatives 249
  • About the Authors 253
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