A hat tip to Michelle Malkin, who discovered this sad story about an Air Force member who was shot and seriously wounded by an anti-military zealot on the 4th of July.
According to various New Jersey outlets, 22-year-old Senior Airman Jonathan Schrieken was shot in the driveway of his home by a gunman, identified as Matthew J. Marren. Authorities say Marren shot Airman Schrieken once in the chest before taking his own life. The incident occurred outside McGuire AFB, where Schrieken serves as a loadmaster for the 6th Airlift Squadron.
Michelle also has links to extended coverage from Little Green Footballs, which has an e-mail from a friend of the Schrieken family, and from MSNBC, which reports on the gunman's "anger" with the government. She also links to Patrick Poole at the American Thinker, who observes that the shooting would have been front-page news--if Schriken had been an abortion provider or a member of the gay community.
Having served in the Air Force for more than 20 years, I know a little bit about loadmasters, and their demanding job. The loadmaster is the aircrew member who's in charge of the "backend" of cargo aircraft like the C-130, C-17 and C-5. They're charged with supervising the loading and off-loading of cargo and passengers, and calculating the load's center-of-gravity, so the aircraft can operate safely. Loadmasters also handle the airdrop of paratroopers and cargo, ensuring that they go "out the door" or "off the ramp" as required.
But those mundane descriptions really don't do the job justice. Imagine yourself in the back of a depressurized C-17, tethered by a safety line, watching tons of pattetized cargo whip past, as carefully rigged parachutes pull them from the cargo bay. One false step, and you're crushed--or out the door with the pallets. Or, working with an aerial port team to quickly unload a C-130 at a forward base in Iraq, aircraft engines running, as mortar rounds drop on the airfield. Or accounting for millions of dollars in equipment, transported non-stop across seven or eight time zones, safely and on-time. Now, imagine doing that job just out of high school, and completing survival school, crew training, and annual check rides just to keep your certification. That should tell you something about the caliber of Senior Airman Schrieken.
In fact, it's a damn shame that Mr. Marren didn't approach Airman Schrieken on the ramp at Kabul or Balad. On combat missions, aircrew members carry sidearms, and they know how to use them. In a fair fight, Airman Schrieken could have easily dispatched the worthless Mr. Marren. But instead, the anti-war nut approached Schrieken in the driveway of his home, and as he returned from leave, knowing that the airman would be unarmed. And knowing that New Jersey laws discourage gun ownership.
Prayers for Airman Schrieken and his family.