I review and promote a lot of books on this blog, but sometimes, it’s personal.
Like this time.
Steve Hirst was one of my upperclassmen at the U.S. Air Force Academy, and his wife, Sue, was one of my classmates and a member of my element during Basic Cadet Training. There are about 8-10 Basics in an element, and this is the group you do everything with. At the time I went through, you’d also spend your first two years at the Academy in the same Cadet Squadron with these people, so I knew Sue pretty well. She was an intercollegiate swimmer with a healthy portion of grit concealed beneath a sunny personality. She won the “Little Bad Basic”*** award for victory in the female division of the pugil stick fighting tournament during Basic Cadet Training, which should tell you something about her strength and tenacity.
Steve I didn’t know as well, because as a cadet, you tend to avoid contact with upperclassmen unless absolutely necessary. Still, I remember him as one of the good ones, a stand-up guy, fair and reasonable.
Anyhow, the two of them wound up together. Steve became a pilot and established an enviable reputation as both a flight instructor and an F-15 fighter pilot. His prospects seemed unlimited—then during an assignment in Alaska in 1996, he hit a patch of black ice on the way back home from a routine trip to the grocery store. His car spun out of control and collided with a light pole. It nearly killed him.
Still Standing – Accidental Life Lessons is the chronicle of Steve’s journey back from the traumatic brain injury he sustained, as told in his own words and those of his friends and family. It’s a gut-wrenching, intensely personal account, a testament to the courage of both Steve and Sue. Steve’s recovery has been nothing short of miraculous, and it’s been a team effort all the way. I’ve been following their progress over the years, mostly second-hand, but it was a real joy to have an opportunity to read the full story.
If you need a little inspiration, or a lot, or just want to read an amazing story about amazing people, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Still Standing. You’ll be glad you did.
Because Steve Hirst is still a stand-up guy. Perhaps now more than ever.
*** Yes, the Air Force Academy has made laudable progress in being less condescending toward women since then.