Honoring a Glenwood native of high-flying passion
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – A life is not measured in years.Penny Farquhar and her husband Bob Littler were presented the flag at the end of the memorial for their son, Air Force 2nd Lieutenant and Glenwood Springs High School graduate Alec Farquhar Littler, Thursday afternoon at the Glenwood Springs Community Center.A brief exchange of inaudible words between them and Colonel David Peterson, Alec’s Wing Commander for the 80th Flying Training Ward’s Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program (ENJJPT), need not be heard to understand the message.”Even though he was only 23 years old, he filled each of us with a special memory,” said family friend Charlie Willman at the beginning of the service.
Reminding all that a life is not measured in years, but rather by the memories that person leaves with those still living.Alec died along with his instructor, Major Brad Funk, on May 1, when the T-38 training jet they were flying crashed during landing at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas. Funk left behind a wife and three young daughters.Measured by memoriesAlec left a lot of people with fond memories.”Life with Alec was a high-speed dash,” Bob said during the service. “We are so grateful to have been a part of your wonderful life.”Several family members, friends from high school, college classmates, and the Air Force comrades put their memories into words at the memorial as jet engines faded in and out. The engine’s roar, a symbol of Alec and the life he lived. Each story, an incremental measure of his life.”It’s sad that he died very young,” Penny said at her Glenwood home Wednesday evening as family and friends gathered for support and remembrance.They, too, traded memories and stories of the young man who touched them all so deeply.
“But he was exactly where he wanted to be,” Penny said. “He loved it. He loved the flying, he was so excited and so into it. I’m sure the last few seconds of his life were pretty damn scary, but I don’t think he was scared. He was doing what he loved.”An early passionPenny doesn’t remember exactly when Alec became interested in flying, but she remembers him always wanting to be a pilot.”He always liked airplanes,” Penny said. “He always had books on flying and always had a fascination for flying.”But it wasn’t until he got into high school when the passion for flying turned into the driving force behind him becoming an Air Force pilot. By age 14, Alec started taking flying lessons at the Glenwood Springs Airport. He was more interested in getting his pilot’s license than his driver’s license, which he didn’t get until he was 17.”It was pretty funny,” Penny said with a smile. “We still had to drive him to the airport, but he was up flying an airplane. It was pretty cool.”
Alec received his private pilot’s license during his senior year in high school and was later accepted into the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. He declined the prestigious opportunity and instead attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, enrolling in the Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corp. program and majored in Molecular Biology.”He could have been a doctor if he wanted to,” Penny said. “But he wanted to be a pilot.”After college he achieved his dream when he was accepted into the ENJJPT program, which produces future fighter pilots for NATO.”It was his dream,” Bob said.In the days before his death, Bob spoke to his son on the phone. He knew his son was happy.”Alec said he was doing exactly what he wanted to do,” Bob said. “He knew the risks and I don’t think he was scared as he was going down. He was doing what he loved.”Bob and Penny have no regrets for the life Alec chose.”He was one of the lucky people that knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life,” Penny said. “And he did it.”
The final good-byeThe six-member honor guard retreated from the ice skating arena at the community center, the clicks of their shoes as precise as the creases in their pants. They placed Alec’s remains on a delicate table underneath the sunny skies, the grass still wet from the morning rain. A 21-gun salute marked the final good-bye.The jets came from the west and zoomed overhead in the missing man formation as more than 450, family members, friends and nearly 70 Air Force comrades gathered outside the community center.The lead jet separated from the others flying straight up into the blue sky above. The deafening boom from its engine reverberated on the surrounding mountains for a few lingering moments before fading. The crowd stood silent. Only the sound of the American Flag flapping in the calming breeze could be heard. Reminding them all that Alec’s life is not measured by the 23 years he lived, but by the memories that were created.Contact John Gardner: firstname.lastname@example.orgPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
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