Making a Difference (or, A Miracle on Blogosphere Street)

By one way of thinking, a blog like this one makes a measurable difference in the life of many of its readers – cynically, one could cite things like “wasted time” and “lost productivity”; less cynically, one could point out that readers occasionally learn things from blogs. Thanks to the power of Google, this is frequently the case, but as nice as it is to educate people about Funistrada or show them how to do computer stuff, most of the time it’s hard to feel that one has really, truly, made a meaningful difference.

Every once in a while, that changes.

Back in August of this year, I posted several documents relating to the Fulton Skyhook, an obscure but really cool piece of cold-war military hardware. The response was fairly positive, and lots of aviation geeks downloaded the material I made available. People left comments, as tends to happen on blogs; some were more interesting than others.

One of those comments, left a few months later – November 3rd, 2008 – was, shall we say, quite unusual:

My name is Shaun C. Strickland. I am the son of SFC Clifford Wilson Strickland. I was born on March 23, 1982. On April 26, 1982 my father was in Stuggart, Germany and attempted Mission Skyhook. My father died due to faulty equipment and fell to his death at 1400 hours. Any information would be great.

Shaun’s father – who he never knew – was the first, and last, fatality on a Skyhook mission – and almost certainly the last ever “live” pickup with the system. I didn’t have any information for Shaun, but I left his comment up, because, well, it seemed like the right thing to do. Sure, the odds of anyone having any information were, and are, fantastically slim, but it’s the internet, right? Anything can happen.

This weekend, that unwarranted optimism was rewarded, when a Col. Bernie Moore (USAF, Ret.) left a long comment of his own, which begins “Shaun, I was the co-pilot (right seat pilot) on the flight on which we lost your father. I have never forgotten that day or the loss of one of our comrades-in-arms…”

I’ve e-mailed Shaun the fairly amazing news, but haven’t yet had a response. Nonetheless, I think this is just about the most amazingly heartwarming thing that’s ever happened on this website in its four-year, 950-post (and counting, of course) history. I really don’t know what to say, except “Thanks, Col. Moore.” I didn’t really do anything, but it’s amazing to have facilitated, in however small a fashion, one of the neatest blog-related “Christmas miracles” I’ve ever heard of.

Maybe there really is hope for this newfangled “internet” thing, after all.

(If/when I hear back from Shaun, I’ll post an update.)

Published in: General, History, Meta | on December 22nd, 2008| 1 Comment »

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  1. On 9/8/2012 at 7:52 pm Gary White Said:

    FYI – Shaun did respond on the same page as his original post, including additional information about his story.

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