Before taking a job at the Pentagon in 2010, I had the great fortune to lead the Public Affairs team at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn. The base is home to Arnold Engineering Development Center, the world’s most advanced aerospace ground test center.
Simply put, it’s where military aircraft, rockets, jet engines, and more are tested before they’re ever flown.
Today’s video below is the 2009 Year in Review video we produced to honor all 2000+ team members at Arnold as well as past and present team members we lost that year. One of those was one of my team member’s sons – Wesley Amacher.
His name appears at 2 minutes, 34 seconds.
As a leader, I’ve faced nothing more difficult. But any difficulty I faced of course paled in comparison to what my team member, Vickie, felt then and still today over Wesley’s loss.
I remember the funeral service like it was yesterday. Amidst all the sadness and tears, she displayed one of the most inspiring acts of courage I’ve ever witnessed.
The place was packed with mourners. People from all streets of Wesley’s life intersecting in a standing room only funeral home. The receiving line was out the door. And instead of standing at the front of the room, allowing us to come to her, there was Vickie making her way up the line, hugging and comforting all of us who had come to comfort her.
Seeing Vickie’s courage along with all of my emotions was overwhelming. By the time we met in the center of that room, I couldn’t speak. I stood there looking at her, she back at me, and I couldn’t muster a single word. I felt like I was going to explode into a million pieces if I did.
After a couple of seconds of struggle, she just looked into my eyes and said, “I know. I know.” Then we hugged.
To this day, I don’t know. I don’t know how she did that. I don’t know where the strength came from.
Click the video to view it. If it won’t play, click here.