U.S.Pilot Memorial Held

Posted on by Oceania TV News

As the sun set over Palau on Saturday May 12, viagra dosage 2012, the family and friends of American pilot Frank Ohlinger set out to sea for a memorial in his honor.  Frank was lost on Sunday April 1st along with police offices Willie Mays and Earlie Decherong while on a surveillance mission related to illegal fishermen in Palau’s waters who set their own ship on fire to avoid capture.

Memorial of Frank OhlingerMemorial of Frank Ohlinger
One Chinese fisherman died from a gunshot wound and the other 25 were returned to china with  a fine of $1,000 each.  The 7 day search for the missing plane and passengers included the Australian Navy, Palau officials, the U.S. Coast guard and Microsoft Paul Allens Ship the Octopus.  No trace was found.

Memorial of Frank OhlingerMemorial of Frank OhlingerMemorial of Frank OhlingerMemorial of Frank Ohlinger

Below is the eulogy given by Cliff Terry, friend and neighbor of Frank

First, I need to say I’d rather be doing almost anything else than giving a eulogy for a friend. It’s one of those things that comes from having friendships; most of the time you enjoy those friendships without having to think about them too much, occasionally you have to deal with their coming to an abrupt end.

Second, I’m sure you’ve all seen and skipped over the disclaimers at the beginning of a DVD movie that go something like: The following opinions and comments are those of the individuals themselves and don’t represent those of the studio or anyone else. In this case these are all my thoughts and opinions and they aren’t colored or influenced by anyone’s belief systems other than mine. Knowing Frank as well as I did, I’m sure he’d approve of what I’m going to say.

I know it’s comforting for some people to think of him as sitting on a beach on some small isolated island, drinking a coconut he’s cracked open and waiting for the rescue ship, but I don’t think that’s intellectually honest. He’s gone, and we’re left to get on with life in his absence. I hope that doesn’t offend anyone here; as I said, these are my thoughts and they may not coincide with yours. Of course, I hope that those of you who believe in reincarnation are right, since I want to come back as a bar of soap in Halle Berry’s shower.

When I first heard the news of Frank’s disappearance at sea I thought it was the ultimate expression of hubris. In case some of you aren’t familiar with that term, the ancient Greeks coined it to refer to an excess of pride that causes someone’s downfall. The more I though about it, though, I realized it wasn’t an excess of pride that resulted in Frank’s death, it was an excess of confidence.

Frank was nothing if not confident. Confident in his abilities, confident in his opinions, and confident in his beliefs. He was an experienced pilot and sailor, and anyone who’s sailed a boat single-handed across the ocean on many occasions and who has encountered and survived storms at sea can be forgiven for thinking he could accomplish anything, rise to any occasion and deal with any difficulty.  Unfortunately sometimes situations arise that no degree of confidence or ability can handle, and his last flight was one of them.

When these things happen, many people try to find – or create – a reason for them. Back when we evolved as people, I’m sure many of our ancestors stood in the mouth of a cave looking out at a raging storm and tried to figure out what the lightning and thunder were all about. That resulted in the creation of mythology and belief in various gods who caused these things; after all, something or someone had to be causing them, they couldn’t just be happening.

As we know now, there aren’t any supernatural causes to lightning and thunder; they’re just natural phenomena. However, people still try to find reasons for bad things that happen to them and to others, particularly the death of someone close to them. I believe that there isn’t any reason for them, any more than there’s a reason for lighting and thunder.

I believe that life is like an old-fashioned pinball machine. Each of us is a little silver ball, rolling along on the table thinking we know where we’re going. However, there are bumpers out there we can’t see and don’t know anything about until we hit one. When we do, we’re shot off in some other direction we hadn=t anticipated, and we continue until we hit another bumper. Unfortunately, at the bottom of the pinball table is a hole, and eventually we’re all going to drop down the hole.

I know some people reply by saying But that means we’re all victims of a random universe and we have no control over our lives. I reply, That’s why we have the flippers. You know, the buttons on the side of the pinball machine that activate those little levers inside that fling the ball back up the table and into play once again.

In that sense, for all of us here, Frank was a bumper in the pinball games of our lives. We’ve all been affected by our interactions with Frank, myself perhaps to a greater degree than many. If Frank hadn’t met and married Patricia, who was a bumper in his pinball of life, and if they hadn’t moved to their house on Nikko Bay in Ngermid, I wouldn’t be about to complete the construction of my house on the bay next to his. I’d hoped to have had Frank as my neighbor for many years so we could help each other with projects, share cold beers on our decks, and debate issues – at least those I learned were safe and those I learned to steer away from. (I learned a long time ago not to speak the name George Bush for fear of giving Frank a stroke or getting punched in the face.)

I mentioned at the beginning that Frank had a lot – probably an excess – of confidence. That included confidence in his opinions, of which he had many. He wasn’t hesitant to express those opinions at any time, which resulted in his antagonizing a lot of people. The problem was that not many people could get beyond that aspect of his personality to understand him more fully. I’m happy to have been one of those who did understand him, and I valued the fact that I could always count on him for an honest intellectual discussion of almost anything even if we disagreed on occasion. Frank was a true polymath, a term that means a person whose knowledge spans a significant number of different subject areas. I don’t think I ever hit on a topic about which Frank had to say AI really don’t know anything about that@ – or maybe he was just making stuff up as he went along, which wouldn’t have surprised me.

The fact that Frank antagonized some people – maybe a lot of people – meant that few knew of the good works he did here in Palau on behalf of others. Of course the reason he died is that he answered the request of the Palauan government to help deal with a crime and an international incident, and he responded with the abilities he had when he didn=t have to.

One of his good works that most of you probably know about is the coconut mill, which he and Patricia set up to provide a source of income for individual Palauans on Babeldaob who could collect coconuts and sell them to the mill for a cash income. Frank didn’t get anything material out of that project, particularly not any money; he did it only because he thought he could help a bunch of economically disadvantaged people who needed his help.

Another thing, and one that I doubt anyone else knows about, was his efforts on behalf of all the foreign workers in Palau who were being victimized by their employers by such things as not being paid, not being given time off, being locked in their barracks, and so on. That offended Frank’s send of fairness and humanity, so he took it on himself to research the Palau labor laws, write up a synopsis of the rights that all foreign workers should enjoy, translate that synopsis into Tagalog, Bangladeshi and a number of other languages, print out copies and distribute them in the various communities and encourage those workers to share them. He also arranged with Micronesian Legal Services to handle the cases of those workers who were brave enough to challenge their unfair treatment, and I know a number of them did take their problems to MLS and who prevailed thanks to Frank.

That’s the flip side of the sometimes loud, argumentative Frank many of us encountered in bars late in the evenings: the compassionate, concerned Frank who cared about those less fortunate than he was, and cared enough to take action while many of us just complained over our cold beers. I’m going to miss the discussions, conversations and even the arguments we used to have, and I’m going to remember Frank as a good, loyal friend whom I cared about a lot.

Thanks for the opportunity to express myself.

 

 

Comments are closed.