How frequently do we complain?  We all do so a lot.  Sometimes we complain about things in the presence of our clients because they also are our friends.  And because we are lawyers, are complaints are spiced-up and witty.  Next time, maybe not so fast.

I received an email today from my brother-in-law, a retired Naval officer, which has given me pause to think further about complaining.  Here is the story relayed in his email.

The Setup
         Luke AFB is west of Phoenix and is rapidly being surrounded by
civilization that complains about the noise from the base and its planes,
forgetting that it was there long before they were. Apparently, an
individual who lives somewhere near Luke AFB wrote the local paper
complaining about a group of F-16s that disturbed his/her day at the mall.

The complaint:

         "Question of the day for Luke Air Force Base: Whom do we thank for
the morning air show? Last Wednesday, at precisely 9:11 a.m., a tight
formation of four F-16 jets made a low pass over Arrowhead Mall, continuing
west over Bell Road at approximately 500 feet. Imagine our good fortune! Do
the Tom Cruise-wannabes feel we need this wake-up call, or were they trying
to impress the cashiers at Mervyns early bird special? Any response would be
appreciated."

Here is the response:
         Regarding "A wake-up call from Luke’s jets" (Letters, Thursday): On
June 15, at precisely 9:12 a.m., a perfectly timed four-ship flyby of F-16s
from the 63rd Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base flew over the grave of
Capt. Jeremy Fresques.

         Capt. Fresques was an Air Force officer who was previously stationed
at Luke Air Force Base and was killed in Iraq on May 30, Memorial Day. At 9
a.m. on June 15, his family and friends gathered at Sunland Memorial Park in
Sun City to mourn the loss of a husband, son and friend.

         Based on the letter writer’s recount of the flyby, and because of
the jet noise, I’m sure you didn’t hear the 21-gun salute, the playing of
taps, or my words to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques as I gave them
their son’s flag on behalf of the President of the United States and all
those veterans and servicemen and women who understand the sacrifices they
have endured. A four-ship flyby is a display of respect the Air Force pays
to those who give their lives in defense of freedom. We are professional
aviators and take our jobs seriously, and on June 15 what the letter writer
witnessed was four officers lining up to pay their ultimate respects.

         The letter writer asks, "Whom do we thank for the morning air show?"
The 56th Fighter Wing will call for you, and forward your thanks to the
widow and parents of Capt. Fresques, and thank them for you, for it was in
their honor that my pilots flew the most honorable formation of their lives.

         Lt. Col. Scott Pleus
         CO 63rd Fighter Squadron
         Luke AFB

The moral of the story is obvious.  As for me, I hope that before I next complain about something about which I know less than all of the story, I remember the picture of the missing man formation and how utterly small the person who wrote the witty complaint must have felt when he read the response.