Crosshairs drifting over an ever-elusive target. His leather aviator helmet / hat wrapped snug around Joe’s facial perimeter. A little more snug than he would have liked. His eye protectors also secure around both sockets, an elastic strap holding them in place. He tries to keep his breath steady as he ascends clouds and notices a little less oxygen in his cockpit. The plastic windshield feels like I could just fly away at any moment. He feels the vibration of his controls with his hand on the steering shaft. Mouth dry from nerves. Heart pounding. A little more fearful than exciting. Peering down at farmland below, he tried to gauge his location. Enemy territory for sure. He briefly wonders for a moment if, why anyone would do this for fun. He had a buddy back in Tuscaloosa who loved flying, couldn’t stop talking about it. Joining the Air Force wasn’t Joe’s choice. It was his father’s. And wanting to honor the man who gave him life and livelihood, Joe didn’t know how to turn him down. Despite not wanting it, he tried his best to get it. The Colonels were impressed at this skill and visual acuity. He wasn’t colorblind and didn’t have flat feet. He didn’t get air-sick. He was in formation, just behind the lead plane. He wanted this war to be over. There was nothing fun about knowing you could die at any minute of any day. He had friends and acquaintances who if they didn’t burn up on impact or get taken prisoner, they fell so fast out of the sky and into the ground below, they made their own graves. All they had to do was cross two sticks and tie them, marking the site. Joe felt on edge, having slept minimally the night before. He had gotten a letter from his wife that his baby son was sick. It tore him apart to read that.