A few days ago a friend of mine stopped by Factory Five, and I came down to the showroom to say hello. Henry has built some nice cars (his ’33 Hot Rod earned “Top 10” Awards at SEMA!), he’s a solid member of the Factory Five community, and I respect him immensely.
Henry asked how things were going and I told him that the crew was working well together, the company was doing great and we were starting off the new year with some cool new projects. I also mentioned how sometimes its lonely running Factory Five. I confided to him that while I love my job, I still have to make some very hard decisions and being in charge isn’t always all fun and games… Even though I’ve been steering the ship for more than 15 years, and we’ve always successfully navigated thru tough waters, there are days when the load is heavier than usual and I really feel the weight and burden of running this company.
I told Henry what a serious responsibility it is to take care of customers and the guys who work here… and their families. I was feeling just a tiny bit sorry for myself and frankly I’m glad that neither my Naval Officer father or solid mid-western mother had heard me whining.
Henry smiled kindly and said that he understood the demands I was managing as he too has to lead his crew and make tough decisions as well. THAT is when I realized what I had just said and how small my challenges are!
Henry is a Colonel in the U.S. Air Force and his “crew” are US Airmen who are deploying in two months for Afghanistan. I was so embarrassed. I told him as much and thanked him for being so gracious as to listen to me whine. In classic Henry fashion, he smiled and told me his goal thru the last three (!) deployments was to bring every one of his guys back home alive and whole. That was a goal that not every commander accomplishes.
The next morning in the mail, I received a flag and letter from Captain Leo Amoling. The flag was flown in his AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter with his co-pilot and gunner William Dodson on a combat mission in Afghanistan. It was sent to me saying thanks for what we do to support the troops! Think about it! The brave warrior sends a flag flown in combat home to us and says thank you?!!
We all need a reminder every once in a while that our problems are big only as long as we keep from lifting our eyes to see the burdens others bear. And those who bear the most burden, do it for all of us and for freedom.
So, on behalf of all the great people of Factory Five, I send out my deepest thanks and wishes for safe returns to all our military men and women. Thanks for the reminder and the kick in the ass Henry and Leo. I needed it! We are all praying for your safe return home. We’ll be here working as hard as we can to build great cars, contribute to our communities, volunteer for charity work, and do our very best to deserve the sacrifice you guys make and make our communities better.
If you visit us here at Factory Five, we have a wall with flags sent to us from all over the world and from combat zones to help remind us how lucky we all are to live free and how precious freedom is.