by Carol Sokolsky
March 14, 2017
CLOVIS, N.M. — Three service members were killed after a single-engine reconnaissance and surveillance plane crashed in eastern New Mexico during a training flight, officials at Cannon Air Force Base said.
Base officials said the U-28A crashed Tuesday night in a field about a quarter mile east of Clovis Municipal Airport, about 3 miles east of Cannon. The plane was assigned to Cannon. (cbsnews.com)
Three airmen were on board. There were no survivors.
Captain Andrew Becker, 33 years old, was a brilliant aviator. Andy, as he was known, grew up in Michigan and was married to the love of his life, Shelley. Michigan’s Governor ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of Captain Becker, who served nine deployments, six with the 34th SOS in support of counterterrorism operations. A rising star in the aviation community, Becker was hand-selected in 2013 to help reactivate the 318th SOS at Cannon AFB. He was slated to begin training the next generation of Air Force navigators at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, later in 2017. He was posthumously promoted to Major.
My dear friend, Gary, is Andy’s Dad. As I talked to Gary the next morning, my heart felt every word… he and Stacey had just lost their son—their little boy—their heart. On March 14, 2017, at approximately 6:45pm Mountain time, their lives were #foreverchanged.
Andy’s wife, Shelley, wanted to honor her husband’s memory in a manner that would have no end. Andy was selfless, humble and kind… and if you knew Gary and Stacey, you’d know why. As a tribute to Andy, Shelly asked her Facebook friends to “pay it forward”… snap a photo… upload to Facebook and use the hashtag, #RandomActsForAndy. Shelley’s heart, broken beyond words, longed to witness the beauty of Andy’s memory through various random acts of kindness.
So, I thought, what if each of us did just one random act of kindness in Andy’s honor?… and posted only the hashtag, #RandomActsForAndy… no need for details, just the hashtag. Think about it. I’d love for Tulsa and beyond to honor my friend and his son… Shelly’s husband. Just think about it.
A few days later, as Gary and I were exchanging emails, he shared with me a conversation with two of the pastors who would be speaking at Andy’s funeral. As I read his words, I wondered, “What if every parent who has ever lost a child would know such peace that passes beyond human understanding?”
So, with Gary’s permission, I’m sharing his heart and his words with the918, in the hope that others will find the peace that Gary and Stacey already knew, even during the most incredible painful time in their lives.
“Upon honest reflection, since getting the phone call Wednesday morning, I have not once looked to the heavens and asked, “Why him?” Maybe I’m in denial, and maybe that will come later, but right now my heart is in a place that makes it seem that if even if God DID tell me “why”, I wouldn’t understand it, or I wouldn’t be able to accept it. My heart seems to be at peace that when (IF!!!) He decides I should know why this happened, He’ll let me know.
Tuesday night we were having our weekly small group Bible study at our house. As we always do, at the end of the session, we go around and each person gets to offer a prayer request. Usually it develops into some “serious” needs and prayers, and every now and then a praise prayer. Last Tuesday night, for the first time EVER for our group, every single prayer request was a praise! I thought about that again the next day, when I found out that—at virtually the exact same time as we are praising God for His blessings—the accident in New Mexico was happening. I cannot shake the feeling that God was preparing my heart, filling it with praises so that when the other news reached me, it might not hurt so much. It also reminds of what we have said so often: God is good—ALL THE TIME! And to me, when I say that, I have to mean “all” the time, or I’m just bumping my gums.
I heard that someone this week was talking with one of our pastors, and knowing about Shelly’s medical issues, and our other daughter-in-law’s repeated back surgeries, etc., they said to the pastor, “When are the Beckers going to get a break?” I told our pastor today, as soon as I heard that, my response was—“Are you kidding me? Our family, EVERYONE in our family, has been absolutely showered with blessings from God for our entire lives. We are more blessed than any family I know of, and in more ways than I can count. That does not change because of what just happened on Tuesday night in a farmer’s field outside of Clovis, New Mexico.”
And I really mean that. And I think Andy might just be smiling to hear me say that…”
In honor of Major Andrew Becker, I will be intentional in sharing the love of Jesus by paying it forward. I hope you will join me… #RandomActsForAndy.
Carol Sokolsky loves to write about stories that have impacted and changed her life. One person who, for years, has impacted her life is Gary Becker, to whom she jokingly refers to simply as “Doc”. Today she wanted to honor her friend Gary and his family, all of whom love the Lord and each other beyond words. Carol asks that we each take time to recognize where we can ‘pay it forward’—#RandomActsForAndy—and to keep the Becker family in your prayers as they are struggling to find their ‘new normal.’