The Unsinkable brian cork™

Brian Patrick Cork is living the Authentic Life

the face of my Father

October4

sometimes people listen to me (even my fourteen year old daughter Haley Anne). and, when they, that “collective they” do, sometimes they hear me talk about “remembering the face of my father”.

I do use that “device” for both my earthly and heavenly father. but, today, it’s about Dad.

I’m doing so because I’m remembering him. it’s the best way, I think, to honor someone – by recalling something they did that’s worth comment. and, in the case of the description that follows I think this comes in the form of something I believe happened, and ironically, only a few men would have witnessed, but was likely a defining moment for the man most of us can never be.

over the course of a life, and in this case, it was my young life, we pick up on things about the people around us. I was lucky, just enough perhaps, to have Dad in my life for most of twenty five years. in that sophomoric period of my existence my perspective had to be skewed by perception and lack of some information. but, my sense of circumstances leads me to an image of my Dad in a tough spot.

imagine this… or, this is what I picture the sort of man my father was…

Col. Clifford D. Cork USAF

it’s likely 1969 and Dad is serving one of his tours of duty in Viet Nam. eventually he would become one of the youngest Air Force officers of his era to command a Wing of B-52’s (Stratofortress) /1 under the vaunted Strategic Air Command (SAC), but also do it from the navigators chair. the B-52 was capable of altitudes that exceeded 35,000 feet. it’s monsoon season, so his plane has travelled across the storm-tossed sea dropping down through unimaginable weather, hitting turbulence that lifted and dropped the aircraft 3000 feet at a time, turning the crews stomaches from twisted knots to mush. Dad had to take turns puking into a bucket between his boots that are all but frozen to the deck, and fight his own mind-numbing fear to speak calm commands to his pilot through his air mask/ helmet radio. his primary objective (other than to lead under what he taught me was: “being a steely-eyed-missile-man”), was to use a set of simple tools (i.e. rulers, pencils, and maps) and his brilliant mind to form complex calculations that would guide his crew with pin-point accuracy to drop their payload on the right target – and, not innocent civilians.

B-52 Damaged During Turbulence

Dad once told me, something to the effect: “there were times when we were bouncing up and then down so hard and fast that all I could think of through the screaming groans of the tortured wings was that they would shear right off the fuselage”.

I knew my Dad, sort of. I don’t, and sincerely, believe he was a brave man. in fact, I understand there was much in life he feared (i.e. the loss of my Mom, and poverty). however, his courage is unfathomable. he put himself in that situation countless times, and did it better than most men that shared that chair with him (many of the B-52’s built saw service in excess of fifty years).

peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

brian patrick cork

_________________

1/ Dad was one of the few SAC officers that also commanded a Missile Wing (silos). this made him unusual both in his spheres of responsibility, but his incalculatable ability to learn and lead.

by the way…

in January of 1964, a B-52D carrying two nuclear bombs suffered a structural failure in flight that caused a fire to break-out on-board. apparently over the course of emergency maneuvers the tail section sheared off. four crewmen ejected successfully before the aircraft crashed near outside of Lincoln, Nebraska. several crewmen perished. the pilot was unable to eject, and died in the aircraft. both weapons were recovered. this was one of several incidents caused by failure of the vertical stabilizer.

my Dad was part of that crew. so, there is some perspective for you, that my Dad had to carry with him going forward. and, that is another story that’s currently percolating in my head. I remember that day… I was watching television and I saw my Dad’s face appear on the screen just as my Mom took a telephone call from “the wives network”. I recall her hollow: “oooh God, …Cliff”. But, Dad came home. He always smelled good.

two sides rhymes with suicide

June9

Readers of this Blog appear to track, enjoy, and possibly value, my transparency. So, it’s no surprise, here, that my earthly father surrendered his soul to God back in 1986, on the eve of my birthday.

I’ve chosen some words carefully in that preamble because I’m evaluating the difference in terms of how we define suicide.

Background Perspective: I have a client that I’ve coached for years that happens to be a fairly well known Congressman and has always feared the path of “political suicide” often realized by all too many of his fellows.

Although I have to good-naturedly roll my eyes with that, it recently raised some thoughts in my head around how we spin things to make them work within the complicated confines of our society – to include faith and community.

Here we go…

Shortly after my Dad’s body was discovered (today that still feels strange to both write and read), slumped over a Zane Grey (apropos, says I) novel in his garage, his secretary tearfully advised me that he was bound for hell. I was a younger man in both body and mind, at the time, and this decree almost floored me. Dad was a genuine hero. And, he was… Well, my Dad. And, he loved my Mom. Together, they set the bar and standard for me in terms of how to be a parent to my own Daughters, and love people in your life. He was a pillar of strength (even when he had his fourth martini after a grueling Day maintaing peace as a Military Officer during a relentless Cold War era), always there for my younger brother and me. He was some times an enigma, mind you. But always smart, witty and resolute. Read my post: do not miss your Chance to blow it for perspective. Dot It! How could such a man face the abyss?

My first thought when told Dad was going to hell was that he had carefully considered his options and rolled the dice hoping to get back to Mom quicker. Selfishly, maybe, I often have this picture in my head of Mom and Dad in their early 40’s – sun-tanned, holding hands and smiling. This is also a reminder that Mom had died the year before (here is some additional background), and Dad was simply never the same after that. So… You can; and, I think you should, read my prior Blog post that explores some of that here: My Dad: Story 22 – Married for Life.

So… With all that said, what is the difference in someone taking their own life, or giving their life back to God? There is a paradox at work, here, because a potential juxtaposition includes (or, is) considerations around soldiers taking life (possibly in the name of God), and giving (as in dedicating) your life to God. My Dad was a soldier that absolutely did take lives under a national flag that was founded with God in mind (just ask Thomas Jefferson who is likely spinning in his grave enough these days to send the planet off it’s axis). He was a model citizen by any definition. And, in the his final hour I feel he gave his life back to God, and Mom was his reward for a life well-lived.

NOTE: I’m choosing to take the Bible out of the evaluative formula and going with discernment – perhaps the greatest tool God has issued to us to help me work through this process. The Bible, I feel, in this case, and of course many others, stymies broad thinking and open-mindedness (have you ever tried to debate a Christian and seen them not get heated, and more often than not, nasty?). Once you make not referencing the Bible part of the process, creative thinking that draws upon all of mankind’s marvelous experience and theory can now come into play for informed decision-making.

I’m tempted to drop a poll into this Blog post to capture your collective opinion. However, I’m only marginally interested in that. So, I’ll invite you to comment. I can’t promise to approve it. But, I might. And, I will respond in one form or another, to be certain.

So, engage me. Help me. Walk with me. Help me realize the Authentic Life.

If suicide is a path to another place that just might be a reward, as opposed to a punishment, why wouldn’t you take it? Is this an example of Kobayashi Maru?

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

old things seem New to me

March22

So… I grew up in a military family. Ha! It’s painfully and juxtapositionally obvious, but also perplexing to most in my path. My Dad retired from the United States Air Force as a full Colonel. Many of my memories around Dad and his own measure of success – not to mention his influence over me are often detailed in this Blog. By reference, and an apparent favorite: do not miss your Chance to blow it.

However, I cam face-to-face with a relevant application of his example and influence from long ago just yesterday.

Setting the stage…

Early on, living the life of a scion of the Officer’s Club, I was exposed to the cream of the Air Force’s Strategic Air Command, and learned what those gallant men and women meant when they lived and died by the credo: “Peace is our Profession”. without realizing it at the time I came to appreciate experience, expertise and the chain-of-command. I witnessed first-hand, the synergy employed and enjoyed by gray-haird General’s mixing daily with fresh-faced 2nd Lieutenants, all firm in the belief their lives and contributions made a vital difference to one another, and the sanctity of our Constitution.

This means it never occurred to me that age, in-of-itself, was relevant. Only performance; and, all of it driven by courtesy and respect, and the call to action around a shred purpose. None were judged by anything but their ability to command and take commands that resulted, daily, in an efficient process that enabled them all to put their very lives into one another’s hands, without a second thought.

For example, I’ve never looked at an older man and saw weakness or lack of relevance. I saw only the likely potential of wisdom based upon one experience or another.

On the other hand, it’s never occurred to me to look at young people, as relative as that term has to be, and saw a lack of potential or ability.

Mind you… I’ve had my own adventures, hinted to in this Blog as well, but understood by only a few. But, my most recognized contributions have come through my duties as a Dad – and, that of a business man, that others approach for advice, guidance and stewardship.

And, for the first time in my business life, Friday in fact, I came face-to-face with a small team of burgeoning entrepreneurs, still in college, that invaded my offices – with the intention of enforcing accountability.

Background…

I’m in the midst of acquiring another startup that I’m convinced has a product that is a marketing-oriented game-changer. These soon-to-be-graduates are currently customers of the company. They are not pleased with the progress of their unique project. Our people say there is “scope-creep”. The customer says there is poor communication and missed deadlines. I want customer satisfaction and, thusly, affirmation of my investment.

Time will tell all.

But, in any event, at the large table in my board room, I found myself with three hearty and ferocious businessmen that, by age alone, qualified them to be my children. Although their graduation from college is imminent, with less than two months to go, they seemed small to me. And, they were naive, to be sure. But, eager and passionate, more importantly. And, they were irate over what to them was a lack of accountability on the part of the company. That is something that I’m unaccustomed too. My own ventures to date have been the example and hall-marks of accountability and service. So, I started the meeting open-minded. I coach soccer teams that are now at the U14 and U16 age bracket (and, they were all once at the U11 bracket). But, this was different. The first thought was mental arithmetic. I had started my own business at nineteen, also while in college (with the help of my Grandad’s money). I sold that business a week after graduation. So, I could, at many levels, relate to these young men.

But, I was biased. I knew it right away. Not defensive because they were displeased with a company I was involved with. No… I was actually age-biased.

I liked them well enough. I put them into the hands of a Project Manager that I’m mentoring myself, and even bought the entire lot lunch. We committed to deadlines and will work, with intent and a will, to see those critical deadlines met – all based upon collaboration.

But, this is me now. I’ll be fifty in October. I know I’m fitter than most. I’m always being sized-up by representatives of every generation; and, this group was no exception. I could do fifty pull-ups (I have the bar across the doorway of my office) with them hanging onto my back. And, that is how I viewed the entire matter… I’ll sling that crew over my should and see them to success. But, along the way I have to recognize that I’m going to be seeing more people that are younger than me, than older – and, my role in the business community is going to evolve, but possibly in ways I might not have considered before now.

So, every turn creates another opportunity to learn. But, also a challenge to be that example I experienced and have tried to live by daily, sitting at the feet of men that strode like giants around the world and taught me compassion, respect and accountability.

I’ll pause here and admit that I was sorely tested, a few times, to admonish them with a firm: “Stop interrupting each other”, and, “Please stop chewing on my business card”. But, they were, from their own perspective, probably working with an “old dude” with a big reputation for the first time in their emerging professional lives.

My own daughter, Haley Anne’s visage was flashing before my eyes. So to, were the eager faces of the students at Radford University, Georgia State and MIT, where I get to lecture from time-to-time came to mind. I’ll add my plans around “brian’s BEANS” as well. And, so that stage continues to be set, and my experiences are new and levied by other new things – including newer people and opportunities.

And, all these younger people are going to hold me accountable.

I’l have it no other way as they teach me and make me better and fitter to represent and reflect every talent God can squeeze into, and out of, me. This is where the Heterodox finds itself.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

Bat Masterson

December11

So long Gene Barry.

To me, you will always be that debonaire Bat Masterson. They don’t play it that way any longer. Perhaps they never did. They, whoever, they may be, certainly should.

One of the coolest parts of the Television series was that the Bat Masterson character, portrayed by Mr. Barry, often beat his adversaries senseless with the use of his gold-tipped cane, as opposed to the use of firearms (with which he was equally dexterous).

My Grandad would say: “now there’s a gentleman – for you”. And, if he were, tragically, absent from the living room, then my Dad would always carry the banner. It was a determined play on words, and directed amicably towards the hapless villains. Oh, and they were a dastardly bunch.

Great stuff, really.

Please join me with a rousing rendition of the Bat Masterson THEME SONG:

“Back when the West was very young

There lived a man named Masterson

He wore a cane and derby hat

They called him Bat

Bat Masterson!

A man of steel, the story says

But women’s eyes all glanced his way.

A gambler’s game he always won

His name was Bat

Bat Masterson!

Refrain

The trail that he blazed is still there

No one has come since to replace his name

and those with too ready a trigger,

forgot to figure on his lightning cane.

Now in the legend of the West

One name stands out above the rest

The man who had the fastest gun,

His name was Bat

Bat Masterson!”

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

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What’s All This About?

"What am I looking at?", you might wonder.

Lots of stuff.

Meanwhile, here, I discuss events, people and things in our world - and, my (hardly simplistic, albeit inarticulate) views around them.

You'll also learn things about, well, things, like people you need to know about, and information about companies you can't find anywhere else.

So, while I harangue the public in my not so gentle way, you will discover that I am fascinated by all things arcane, curious about those whom appear religious, love music, dabble in politics, loathe the media, value education, still think I am an athlete, and might offer a recipe.

All the while, striving mightily, and daily, to remain a prudent and optimistic gentleman - and, authentic.

brian cork by John Campbell





photos by John Campbell

 

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