RUSH: I mentioned at the top of the program that there was a book that I wanted to tell you about. It’s actually a source of great pride that I tell you about this book. I want to go back to 2003, May the 3rd of 2003. I’ve told this story before. Some of you who have been longtime listeners have heard the story, but it is worth hearing it again.
It’s May of 2003. A couple of months earlier, we began the invasion of Iraq, one of the first acts in the War on Terror. This was the war that was to remove and eliminate Saddam Hussein. George W. Bush had spent a year and a half traveling the country explaining it, gearing up support for it. It was a major, major conflict in the War on Terror and our response to it.
And it had become controversial, of course. The Democrats, the unity after 9/11, 2001, lasted about two weeks, and then that became politicized. And on that day in May, early May of 2003, I went home. Well, I’d gotten a note before I got home. “You have got to come straight home. You won’t believe what just arrived FedEx.”
I said, “What is it? Just tell me.”
They said, “No, you have to see this.” So I got home, and I looked at what I had received, and I was floored. I was stunned. I’d never seen anything like it. I didn’t know these things happened. I was moved. I was blown away. I felt small. I ran through all kinds of emotions. I mean, in lickety-split fashion. What it was was an American flag properly folded inside a Ziploc bag. And there were certificates stating that flag had flown on the following aircraft. And each aircraft had a — well, you would frame it. It’s like an official notification of the date that the aircraft flew that flag on a mission.
There were five different aircraft and a tanker. And all of the pilots of the five different aircraft and the tanker had signed the documents certifying that that flag had flown. The tanker pilot was the originator, the mastermind of this, and he included a handwritten note on yellow legal paper explaining that these five crew members had flown that flag in my honor on the initial bombing runs, the first bombing runs in the war against Iraq, the Shock and Awe portion. And, as their missions were completed and as they were all refueled by this tanker pilot, that flag was put in the Ziploc bag and the pilots all signed these certifications, and they were FedExed to me. And they did nothing more than that.
I received this and was floored. As I say, I went through a mixture of emotions, including humility and smallness. And I’m asking myself what have I done — ’cause this was an honor, I mean, it was clearly an honor. I didn’t know things like this happened. Just not enough experience in actual military combat circumstances to know that time was taken for this kind of ceremonial or memorial type event.
Well, we took that flag, and we unfolded it, and it’s now framed, and the certificates with all those signatures and the picture of each of the aircraft — and there’s fighters, there’s bombers, and the tanker — they surround the flag. And we had an actual golden eagle carved to stand, and it’s about five feet tall once it’s on its pedestal. It’s huge. And we put this in a niche, big niche in a room right outside my library so you can’t miss this when you’re walking into the library.
People who don’t know about this, ask, “What in the world is that?” And I get to regale them with the story. I said, “Yeah, these guys flew that flag in my honor on the initial bombing run of Iraq.” Well, the ringleader of this operation was Lieutenant Colonel Mark Hasara. He flew the tanker. He flew KC-135s, which is the military version of Boeing 707 and the KC-10, which is the military version of the DC-10.
He’s the one that had written the note on yellow legal paper explaining why they did it. And it was filled with recognition and support and thanks for the support I had given the military over the years. As I say, I was blown away by it. It was an honor that I didn’t even know existed and I had no idea it was coming. And even now when I stop and think about the fact that it happened, it’s one of those events that happens in your life or in your career that you never forget and that you’re always going to be overwhelmingly and supremely proud of.
Well, over the years, Kathryn and I have gotten to know lieutenant Colonel Hasara and his wife and his family, and we see them now and then. And, folks, these people that you never meet, they’re just humble. When I talk about people who make the country work, these are the people I’m talking about. They’re out there volunteering every day, they sign up to defend the country, to protect the Constitution, to carry out their orders. They’re doing it because this is how they’ve decided they want to serve their country.
In Hasara’s case, it’s been his life, and most of these other pilots, they never really leave it even after their service ends. But they never seek any fame. They didn’t send me this for fame. They didn’t send this for notoriety or notification or anything else. They just sent it as a distinct honor.
I can’t tell you — I mean, I sitting here, I’m looking at this package and we’re going through the process of getting this all framed and I’m thinking, here these guys have their orders, they’re part of the initial bombing run, and before they leave somebody organizes this tribute to me by having this flag fly in every one of these aircraft.
Now, they didn’t all fly in one day, of course, because the aircraft have to land and the flag gets transferred to the next aircraft, so it takes maybe as many as two days, but the dates that the flag flew on each aircraft are specified. I later came to learn that it’s something that’s done with some regularity, so it was not unique, but that didn’t matter. Just to be thought of, to be considered and thought about during a time like this, it just to this day still humbles me. It’s the best word I can come up with to describe it.
Well, as I say, that’s 17 years ago. Well, 14 years ago. Actually, 14 and a half years ago now. And a lot has happened since then. Lieutenant Colonel Hasara still has his hands in, in terms of staying current with the strategy, and he consults tanker operations to this day. And he decided he wanted to write a book about all this. And he asked me if I thought that it would sell, and I said I do. I don’t know of too many books on the refueling process for military combat aircraft.
I loved his original title. I knew it would never pass. I knew it’d never fly. But the original title of his book was Passing Gas. And I thought that’s dynamite! That’s awesome! But they dialed it back, and the title of the book is now Tanker Pilot: Lessons from the Cockpit. And it’s by Mark Hasara and I’m gonna hold it up here. Let me hold it on the side camera ’cause that will be a better. Oh, you put in the switcher? Go ahead. Put it up. It goes on sale tomorrow, and there it is for those of you watching on the Dittocam.
It’s got pictures. You will not believe some of the pictures taken. You will not believe the danger and the precision that goes into refueling aircraft. Let me give you one example. Let’s say a B-2 stealth bomber is assigned a bombing mission to Libya. It’ll take off at an Air Force base likely in Kansas or Texas, and it will fly nonstop to the target, drop its ordnance and fly nonstop back, 30 hours. It will be refueled 10 to 12 times, 30 hours nonstop, the stealth B-2 bomber. This is just one example.
But the aspects involved of refueling, the danger and the precision and the necessity of accuracy and flight path and meeting up with the tankers. It’s fascinating. It’s an aspect of Air Force operations that people just take for granted. You’ve seen it depicted in movies. The boom lowers from the tanker, and it gets to the nozzle on the jet it’s refueling. It refuels and everybody separates and flies off.
What about the turbulence? What happens if the boom comes dislodged and jet fuel sprays all over the cockpit of an airplane? It’s outside, but these are all the risks, plus these tankers are flying around with tanks and tanks of jet fuel in the fuselage. That’s all they are. They’re just flying tanks of jet fuel. And the precision and the coordination necessary to make this all happen and the real-life stories of people involved in this and the military combat details and operation.
It’s been vetted with the Department of Defense. There were some things the Department of Defense asked them to go slow on, understandably, but it is wide open. It exposes a lot, it explains a lot. But it takes you inside the minds of the guys, the people who fly these missions, the combat missions, the refueling missions.
There’s a saying in the Air Force, in the United States military, “Nobody kicks ass without tanker gas.” And it’s entirely true. If these tanker guys didn’t exist, if the technology didn’t exist, then over half the military operations we engage in today would be impossible. Thirty hours. Six or seven, maybe more, refuelings. You might say, why not station the airplanes over at a base in Germany? The stealth technology necessary for secrets, crews are stateside. It’s eye-opening in a lot of ways.
And Mark Hasara, these are all just fine people. He’s never written a book before, and he spent years putting this thing together. It had become a total labor of love ’cause he loves the Air Force, he loved flying, he loved tankers. You know, everybody has their passions in life. Mark Hasara’s passion is the Air Force and tanker technology and tanker strategy and the obvious relationship it has to attack and combat strategy.
These fighter aircraft go through fuel like early iPhones went through battery. Remember how often you had to recharge your early iPhone? Maybe even to this day. Well, these things burn through fuel like you can’t believe, and if it weren’t for the tanker pilots and the talents that everybody has, the technology to do this, much of our military operations would not be possible. It’s been done for so long that it’s all just taken for granted, but it’s an area of Air Force combat life that nobody has written about. And it’s fascinating.
It’s filled with some of the most breathtaking photos you’ve ever seen. I want you all to know about it simply because this is a great American. These guys that flew that flag for me are exactly what I say. They’re the best-kept secrets in this country. They are doing everything on the up and up. They are straight down the road, their morality and their virtue is intact. They stray like everybody does, but these people are doing their level best to be their level best each and every day in defense of the country, defense of the Constitution, and they are not seeking fame.
That is such an important human characteristic. They’re not doing anything they do for recognition. They’re not doing anything they do for notoriety or fame. Hasara wrote the book because he loves what he does and he wants people to know what he did. He wants people to know what he loves. So I wanted to mention it to you. It goes on sale tomorrow. Veterans Day is the coordinated sale. And the same publisher we have at Rush Revere and the Time-Travel Adventures with Exceptional Americans.
So there it is, Brian’s still got it at the switcher there at the Dittocam, Tanker Pilot: Lessons from the Cockpit. But there are more lessons than just from the cockpit. It’s a fun read, it’s an eye opening-read, and it will teach you things that you didn’t even think you wanted to know, but they’re fascinating.
I thought about talking to you about this a week ago before it went on sale, I said, “Nah, I’ll wait ’til Monday the day before it hits,” because you could have pre-ordered it, but now pretty much you order it, it will be delivered when you want it since it hits the bookshelves tomorrow. Tanker Pilot, Lieutenant Colonel Mark Hasara.
RUSH: I forgot to mention in all of my humility that I wrote the foreword to Passing Gas — I’m sorry — Tanker Pilot, by Lieutenant Colonel Mark Hasara. It’s just four or five pages, but I did, I wrote the foreword. And I tell the story, that I just told you.