‘The Colonel and the Cub Scout’
I thought I knew Bill fairly well. He worked as an engineer at GE Aviation’s Evendale jet engine facility. He and his wife Sydney lived just around the corner from my first office in the Landen Square Shopping Center. But then in the summer of 1996 I learned that I didn’t really know Bill all that well at all. During one of Bill’s visits to the dental office he mentioned to me that he had served for more than 30 years in the United States Air Force and the Ohio Air National Guard. Indeed upon his retirement Lieutenant Colonel William B. Fuller had been the Commanding Officer at the Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base just south of Columbus. He hadn’t mentioned his previous career to impress me. No, he used the announcement as part of an invitation. He invited my son Ryan and all of his Cub Scout brethren to join him for a field trip up to the Rickenbacker base to see a team of Air National Guard soldiers in action. I shared Colonel Fuller’s invitation with Ryan’s Cub Scout den and it was received with great enthusiasm. I was later horrified as we drew closer to that summer Saturday that Bill and I had cemented for our adventure. One-by-one each of Ryan’s den mates dropped out of the event. I sheepishly called Bill to let him know that he could be off the hook, that only Ryan and I remained from that initial crowd of excitement. Bill didn’t miss a beat. He showed not a particle of disappointment or offense and insisted that the trip was a “GO”!
What unfolded was a Saturday that Ryan and I will never forget. Colonel Fuller introduced us to the Commanding Officer who had taken his place. We were ushered into a morning briefing in which a team of four soldiers were reviewing with their superior officers the mission that had been set for them that day. They as part of the 121st Air Refueling Wing were scheduled to meet up that morning over the Carolinas with a small group of fighter jets who would be awaiting their in-air refueling payload. We were invited out to their Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft. During the pre-flight procedures Ryan was taken to a station toward the rear of the aircraft where in the plane’s belly he was invited to lay down and position himself at a window. He grasped the controls to extend the boom to an approaching imaginary fighter jet in desperate need of fuel.
Later we stood out on the tarmac watching the KC-135R’s engine’s come to life and I pulled out my camera to record the moment. Almost immediately the Rickenbacker security patrol wheeled onto the scene and confiscated my camera. Bill stepped forward and immediately the patrol guard recognized him. “Colonel Fuller”, he stammered. “I’m sorry sir! I had no idea you were out here.” My camera was promptly returned and we went on our way.
We may have been in the Rickenbacker cafeteria for lunch that day but Ryan and I were on Cloud Nine.
We lost Colonel Fuller last month (Feb 13th) from our earthly realm. I called Ryan the night I learned of Bill’s passing. He and I reminisced over the phone that evening about a special Saturday fifteen years before when the Colonel met the Cub Scout and lives were changed. Thank you Colonel. We salute you and your legacy of service!
Dr. Davis is especially good with kids. And his staff? Helpful, compassionate, and caring. They take care of business for you. Thumbs up. 10 on a scale of 5.