Robert J. McCracken

Colonel, USAF (Retired)

To the editor:

As a career Air Force officer, I experienced many memorable events in 26 years of service. One of the most pleasurable was meeting Air Force 2 when the aircraft landed at Pease AFB, New Hampshire. One of my duties was to ensure a smooth transition for the Vice Presidential party on their way to the Bush summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Each and every time he exited the aircraft, Vice President Bush returned my salute, shook my hand, greeted me warmly and introduced me to his guests. And each and every time, I wondered how a kid from Stillwater, Oklahoma, could wind up there. I also wondered how such an important man could be so humble, so unassuming, so considerate and so, just plain nice. It was clear that he wanted no special treatment, no fanfare, no demands, no disruption to the normal routine – in fact, he was almost apologetic for bothering us. Of course, he was treated differently but not because we had to, but because we wanted to. By the way, Mrs. Bush was just as gracious and warm as her husband.

I will always cherish the kind and heartfelt note he sent upon my retirement but, most of all, I value the memories of a duty that I truly enjoyed thanks to a great American and a true gentleman.