Travel- Fort Dix, NJ- Dayton, OH

Fort Dix, NJ- March 30, 2015

Intro

I love to drive. I never get tired of it. I’ve crossed the US a dozen times in the last 20 years.

Muna and I drove from Indiana to Fort Dix, NJ this week.

It’s a long trip. We stopped for lunch outside Dayton, OH. We decided to break the trip into two days to see some sights along the way.

Dayton, Ohio

The first big city we came after Indianapolis was Dayton, Ohio. We laughed when we recalled we had just been there last Wednesday.

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base- March 23, 2015

Last week on a whim, we decided to spend the day driving to Dayton. Two buddies from the Oregon Army National Guard, Jason and Coop, were at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

We got to Dayton early to see some the sights. I love seeing weird stuff. So imagine Muna’s surprise when I told her I wanted to see the Dayton International Peace Museum.

The museum sits in the beautiful Isaac Pollack House, a 19th century grand, white Victorian home in downtown Dayton. The museum has rotating peace exhibits, and is non-partisan. Volunteers staff the museum. They are incredibly friendly and knowledgeable.

We saw displays about events like the Holocaust and the work of non-violent activists like Gandhi, Mandela and Martin Luther King.

This month’s expo was “The Peace Corps Experience”: 54 Years of Global Service. This exhibit takes visitors on the journey of a Peace Corps volunteer.

The applicants travel to another part of the world and attempt to make a difference. This is tough work for an impressionable 22 year old fresh out of college. Throw in language barriers and culture shock, with occasional hostility and danger.

I left the exhibit with a profound respect for the Peace Corps. The tour guide, a nice lady in the her early 70’s, who forgot the Hippy 1960’s are over, didn’t like it when I said the idealistic young college grads going into the Peace Corps remind me of the brave young folks joining the army.

Next, we hit the National Museum of the US Air Force. The museum sits in four huge hangers divided by America’s wars. It’s one of the world’s largest collections with more than 360 aircraft and missiles on display.

It was impressive and big. Two hours later we only did the Vietnam War exhibit.

That night we had dinner with Coop and Jason. Jason is a former Marine who saw combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s an impressive runner with a dozen marathons under his belt.

Tall with the slim build of an endurance athlete with short, steel-graying hair, he loves to read and talk history. I always learn something from him.

Coop is a man I’m proud to call a friend. Coop is the fittest guy I’ve ever known. He’s lean, with a kind face and ready smile who cuts his brown hair short.

Coop always reminded me of a Louis L’Amour cowboy hero. His values are what he lives. His personal and public face are the same.

He is a kind man, but has no softness in him. His toughness, like his faith in God, is ingrained and deep. Coop is a brave man. He is a sheriff deputy. In Afghanistan, he always walked point.

He taught me the key to fitness is doing something tough and drinking a half gallon of water every day.

It was great to see him and Jason. Seeing old friends is good for the soul.