P-MAN VIII Update #30
20 March 2006

We're all safely back home now (our other home). Long trips for everybody, but they must have been relatively uneventful, since nobody has complained much. Flip wasn't along this time, so you won't be reading a long series of hair-raising tales of sprints through exotic, faraway airports and hassles over non-revenue seats.

We started missing Palau even before we left, and the process of adapting to being away generally lasts a little more than 11 months - that is, we generally arrive next year before we've gotten completely used to the idea of being away. So when we get off the plane in the middle of the night and walk up the ramp to the Koror terminal, the heat and humidity and sound and smell feels like ... coming back home. Consider that the hard-core team spends a little over 1/12 of our lives every year in Palau, plus at least that much back here, doing research and planning for the next trip.

Please add the following to the list of new friends that I started in the previous report:

Don Haake, Jane Haake-Russell, and Jane's daughter, Sarah. Don and Jane are the nephew and niece of another Don: Ens. Donald Baxter, the pilot of the TBM Avenger that crashed on Pope's Ridge on Peleliu on September 15, 1944. Don Haake was named for Don Baxter. The brief time that we spent with this group of neat folks deeply affected us all. Parts of the adventure were exciting and fun, and parts were sobering and thoughtful. Sarah, at age 13, was the next generation's representative on the team. She saw and learned and absorbed things in a way that's not available to many young folks. We think she'll remember that hillside on Peleliu for a long time, and will carry with her a depth of understanding - about war and death and family - that school can't provide. Thanks for coming, Sarah.

- Reid