Today would’ve been my brother Greg’s 67th birthday.
He was a smart, funny, loving father, husband, son, brother and friend.
He left this world much too young, just days after his 32nd birthday in 1980, while piloting a military jet near Houston.
My family and I seem to have had two lives – our life before Greg’s crash and our life afterwards. Our life before his crash was much more innocent, carefree and blissful. This second life is colored by grief and often sad, but the moments of love, joy and bliss are heightened by the realization that someone or everyone you love can vanish in the blink of an eye.
The photo on the left I took of his family the last time I saw him.
While his wife and children look to the camera, Greg notices an airplane and points to the sky.
I’ve found this photo foreshadowing and comforting over the years. To this day, when I hear an airplane, I look to the sky and think of Greg.
Happy Birthday, Greg!
Stephen Parry says
Forever in my Thoughts xxx take care
Charlie King says
Chris, I just read your most recent remembrance and also the one from 2012 (32+32). I am that guy that unknowingly sent you the message on the air a few years back. I was in Virginia at the time and did not know you from Adam, certainly did not mean to disrupt anything. My sentiment was genuine and still is. I am writing now because I just read this and I am again telling a Bible class in the morning of your brother’s courage and how it impacted me.
“I have mentioned that I have the greatest respect for the courage of men and women who sacrifice themselves for someone else. Several years ago (October 1980), Mary called me at work and told me that a plane, obviously in distress, had just flown over the neighborhood at low altitude and crashed in a fireball in an open field about 1500 yards behind the house. Our neighborhood was near the end of the flight line at Ellington Air Force Base, an Air National Guard training base. Mary called the base and told them what little she knew and later that day an Air Force Colonel came by and told her that one of the pilots of an F101 fighter jet, and his navigator, had lost their engines at about 400 feet. They made an instantaneous decision to steer the falling plane into an adjacent field rather than ejecting and letting it fall into the neighborhood. The pilot, Greg Duel, was 32 and left behind a wife and two children, 4 and 2. That was 35 years ago and it could have been yesterday. Instantaneous acts of ultimate sacrifice are without equal. Most of us will never be called on to die for what we believe, but we are called on everyday to live for it.”
Godspeed to you and yours.