A Friend Dies in Afghanistan
I was packing up my condo Monday when the phone rang. It was Billy Shufeldt, one of my flight school friends, saying he was on his way to class and didn't have much time. Stump, he said, had died.
I couldn't quite process what I'd heard. Stump, our classmate from flight school. Dead. The guy I sat next to before graduation, the one who liked to play around at inopportune times. I asked Shufledt to repeat what he'd said.
"Stump has died. He was a pilot in the Chinook that crashed in Afghanistan Sunday before yesterday."
Stump was Warrant Officer 1 Adrian Stump, who'd served as a helicopter Crew Chief and then, because he wanted to fly, became a member of class 04-07, U.S. Army flight school, Fort Rucker.
To be honest, we didn't get along well for the first 6 months we knew each other. He was 20 when flight school started. I was 28 and didn't appreciate his sense of humor. I thought he always wanted to play around when he should have been more focused on our work.
Once, during a Physical Training (PT) session, I'd proposed a change to the training, suggesting we cut back on the number of hill sprints until we got a little more proficient. He scrunched up his face and repeated my words in a childish voice, mocking me.
"You are such a f****** kid!" I said, frustrated that he never took anything seriously, always resorting to his high school antics. "Grow up!"
We didn't speak for a few weeks. Then, at a friend's party, we got into it again. I confronted him, asking if he was still pissed at my outburst during PT a few weeks ago. His reply was typical of the 'kid' in him, "What do think? Huh?" I told him I was trying to help him, he asked what I'd meant when I called him a kid. I said joking around was just fine, but there are times when it was not acceptable. I also told him that he would understand what I meant in about five years.
By the end of flght school, Stump and I were on the same Survival Evasion Resistance Escape (SERE) team and I noticed he had grown up. He looked to me during one of our last classroom sessions and said he finally understood what I was talking about months ago. I told him I thought he wasn't the 'kid' I snapped at during PT.
I sat next to him waiting for flight school graduation in December, 2004. He went on to advanced Chinook Aircraft Qualification Course (AQC) and graduated from that in March, 2005. He loved flying so much he got special permission to join his Oregon Army National Guard unit even though it was already deployed in Afganistan.
If you're listening, Stump, then I want to say that I miss you. I'll always laugh when I think of Mr. Stuart and Spaceballs.
I encourage friends and others close to Stump to post comments and/or memories of him here, and if possible let his family know about this blog post. They might like to download these two photos of flight school graduation, since they could not make it to graduation from Oregon.
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Posted by: Val | October 6, 2005 11:33 AM
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Posted by: Rob Naughton - Pendleton, OR and Bend, OR | October 12, 2005 12:57 PM
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Posted by: Susan White | October 17, 2005 11:16 AM
Posted by: Flight Engineer of D Co 113th Avn's- Wife | October 17, 2005 11:12 PM
Posted by: Harry Beckwith, cousin of Adrian Stump | October 18, 2005 12:55 AM
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Posted by: Caroline Broker, aunt of Adrian Stump | October 19, 2005 01:35 AM
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Posted by: Harry Beckwith, cousin of Adrian Stump | October 29, 2005 06:00 AM
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Posted by: Stephanie | January 26, 2006 01:36 PM
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Posted by: John Scanlan | March 16, 2006 10:18 AM
Posted by: SGT. John D. Barnedt | May 27, 2006 06:57 PM
Posted by: spc blank | August 19, 2006 05:39 PM
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