How an Air Force Fighter Pilot Faces His Approaching Death. How would you?

Air Force Captain Cole “Twitch” Holloway was a US Air Force F-15 fighter pilot last year, flying out of Okinawa, Japan. At some point he started noticing “something weird” was going on with his body — symptoms like unexplained muscle weakness. That led to a diagnosis of ALS last October. (Left unsaid is whether the symptoms of the undiagnosed disease were the source of his callsign, “Twitch”.)

ALS has a post-diagnosis life expectancy of two to five years. There is no cure.

Since then (the Air Force article on Holloway was written last year but only recently published), Holloway has been medically retired from the Air Force and he’s living his life knowing it won’t last:

The couple plans to travel, experience life and make the most of the unknown time they have left together.

“I’m going to hangout with my family and friends and make the most of the time I have left on earth,” Holloway said. “Most people live two to five years after their diagnosis. We’re hoping it’s longer than that, but obviously there’s no cure for it so, it is what it is; the cards have been dealt and I can’t do anything aside from look at them and bet however I may…”

“My legacy going from this point on is to be a good friend, a good husband, a good family member and somebody who just enjoyed their time with the people they were around…”

It is tragic that Holloway will likely die young — he appears to have only graduated pilot training three years ago. While we all “expect” to die — we’re mortal after all — we generally hope it will be after a long life, even if we don’t know the appointed hour.

Holloway doesn’t know the appointed hour, but his window of expectation is considerably closer, and smaller, than most.

Still, that hasn’t apparently fazed him or his wife:

“Ultimately, I’m neutral about the whole thing because I believe I’ve prepared myself well for the eventuality of death, as weird as that may sound,” Holloway sighed. “When something like this happens, it’s going to affect you, but not nearly as much as it could somebody who hasn’t put aside an hour of their life to think about their own mortality…

“You’re defeated but there’s no one to be upset at; we can’t be upset at one another, we can’t be upset at the world and that’s weirdly freeing,” Meghan explained. “I hope that in the time we have together, we do whatever this guy wants to do…because the sense of freedom we’ve been talking about, also gives [him] no fear.”

Since the diagnosis, Holloway has gained new perspectives on life…

The official military context of the article was “resiliency.”  In essence, it showed Holloway as an example of dealing with, to put it lightly, life challenges.

Naturally, when we talk about someone’s death — especially that of a terminal illness — we speak of mortality, legacy, and perspective. Christians also speak of their faith. As appears evident from the interviews above, Christ is not a part of Holloway’s life. The only direct non-theistic detail publicly available was the fact their post-courthouse wedding ceremony was explicitly “non-religious.” Otherwise, if you can communicate your deepest thoughts on your coming death and not once mention even spirituality, it’s probably a safe bet you’re not concerned with religion.

Regrettably, that deepens the tragedy. To know that your soul will soon be required of you and to yet not be concerned of things eternal is distressing on an eternal level. Yet, there is still time.

What others do with their eternity is ultimately out of our control. But what will you do with yours? Your soul will be required of you, as well, at a time you may not know or expect.

If you were to know your time left on this earth was six months, or a year, or two years — what would you do?

US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Micaiah Anthony

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29 comments

  • I am glad I do not have to wonder. My faith is strong. As for the captain….
    1 Tim 2, pray for our Lord to rescue him and his wife. To pray for intercession for the lost is to love people, even our enemies, as our Lord asked us to do. These two are now in my prayers.

  • I agree with Susan and I also pray for these two and for others who have not said yes to Jesus yet.

  • Moral non Christian

    I would tell you to focus on yourself and stop assuming everyone must believe in the fairy tales you do.

    • Why be the focus of a feature media article if you want others to focus on themselves?

      No one here has made any assumptions about what anyone else must do.

    • What an oxy moron to call yourself a Moral non Christian. Morality comes from God alone and if you are not a Christian, then you are the source of your own morality whatever it may be. The face remains, Jesus said that the only way of salvation and eternal life is through Him alone, and if this pilot chooses not to do that then sadly he faces a very grave eternity apart from Christ.

    • Thank you Moral non Christian.

    • Since morality comes from our shared experiences of tens of thousands of years, teaching us the meanings of right and wrong, what works in social life and what doesn’t, It’s good to see reminders of it once in a while. Contrasting with the propaganda that it somehow came from a magical being is refreshing. Too bad so many others can’t find the natural true source of morality and need to be directed by authority.

  • I’d like to reply more strongly, but it would be to no avail. Rev Bob, you don’t have to be a Christian to know morality

    Rev Dick

    • I’d like to reply more strongly, but it would be to no avail. Rev Dick, you don’t have to be Christian to know morality (epistemology) but without a spaceless, timeless, immaterial, personal, intelligent, all powerful Being (God) there is no objective basis for morality. Therefore, without God one can’t know WHY (ontology) something is or is not moral.

  • If an all-powerful God existed, She would provide a cure for ALS. Better yet, She would never has created ALS.

    It is despicable that anyone would be critical of anyone with ALS because they do not share your superstitious belief. Have you no compassion? Have you no shame?

    Nothing fails like prayer.

    • This article is outrageous. Shame on you.

    • First of all God is neither male or female, but the words used for God are in the masculine in Hebrew. Secondly, God did not create ALS, diseases are all from the fall of man and original sin.

  • The most disgusting, vile, immoral human beings hide behind religion–especially Christianity–and patriotism.

    • That’s an interesting yet completely irrelevant sentence. Perhaps next time you should try reading something before commenting on it.

  • AtheistFighterPilot

    This blog shows that you are a coward hiding your bigotry behind supposed compassion. It is great to know that you and your ilk are being phased out as people reject your flawed doctrine.

    • It is not bigotry to be concerned about someone’s future eternal state, especially when it involves total separation from God.

  • This was a very thoughtful article expressing Christian sympathy and concern for a fellow aviator and his outlook on life and death. I admire this couple’s positive attitude and desire to make the most of their remaining time together. It’s the best that they, or anyone else, can do considering what appears to be an attitude that the “here and now” is all there is to life.

    However, and I believe that this is the main point of the author, there is more to life than the brief “here and now” that is so quickly gone for all of us. That “more” is found in Jesus Christ, our Creator God, who offers eternal life to all who are willing to be reconciled with Him. Cole and Meghan don’t have to end their time together in the few months they have left here on earth. There really is life after death IF —— IF one accepts Christ’s love and sacrifice for us.

    In light of this reality, Cole’s upcoming death will be a real tragedy — IF he ignores Christ’s gift and dies without it. Eternal life offered, then ignored and lost will be a tragedy of unimaginable magnitude. Cole and Meghan’s positive outlook on their remaining time together, as commendable as that is, will never make up for what they will have lost — IF he dies without Christ.

    The Scriptures have been offering the love and hope of this reality for thousands of years. When Christ brought this love to full expression 2,000 years ago, He was hated and crucified. Why was that? Perhaps “Moral non Christian”, Marcel, and others with similar attitudes can explain.

    • I don’t know if you realize, but by your own words shall you be judged – by those of us who don’t believe in your sky fairy, and, in your own terms, by the god you choose to worship, who has, by the books you worship, commanded you not to judge others. You really should read the words of your “Lord” before spouting off with such blasphemy – by your own standards if you still hold by your holy books.

      You’s in for a big surprise, buddy!

    • @Tabber

      To apply what you do not believe to condemn what you do not believe in terms you do not believe is the height of cognitive dissonance and idiocy.

  • Your relationship with your god is a sham. This is a direct challenge for you to pray the imprecatory psalms which will come very easy to you as your heretical and insidious version of Christianity is based on hate for those who do not drink your bitter Cool-Aid. You are no patriot. When the Trump Flu passes we will come after you based on conduct unbecoming an officer.

    • @Mike Strongbow
      That’s shocking, appalling, and horrifying. Seriously, who misspells Kool-Aid?

      Now, before you get all worked up, the point of this comment is to point out the non sequitur of yours. Got it. You have an issue with Christianity. Glad you found a place on the internet you could say that. Hope you feel better.

      Are you interested at all in addressing the actual topic?

      Didn’t think so.

    • Well the Trump flu will not pass for another 5 years. You are always a heartbeat away from finding out God your creator is no sham and He will not be mocked. Choose wisely for your eternal destiny depends on that.

  • No issues with Christianity. Where are your prayers? I really don’t think you have it in you. You’re a light weight and I don’t think your god responds to you in any way.

    • @Mike Strongbow

      You apparently need to look up non sequitur. Or maybe just “relevant.” Try reading the article, eh?

  • We know that you and your colleagues meet in circles to pray against individuals, your peers. It is a form of witchcraft.

    • Witchcraft, now that is funny, saying Christians are doing that. Witchcraft applies to Satan not Good or Christ.

  • “My legacy going from this point on is to be a good friend, a good husband, a good family member and somebody who just enjoyed their time with the people they were around…”

    And Jesus will recognize this good man by his good deeds. No need for us Christians to worry about him– Jesus loves him and will take care of his soul, whether or not he knows that he serves Jesus.

    • @Lucinda,
      Scripture says we will not be judged by our good deeds otherwise all would obtain eternal life, but rather, we will be judged by whether we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior and put our trust in His shed blood on the cross as payment for our sins.

  • @Tabber

    Mr. Tabber, you say that I will be judged by you and by God. Your judgment (i.e., condemnation) of me, is of no concern because you lack the authority to condemn anyone on an eternal basis.

    As far as God’s judgment is concerned, my past sins have already been forgiven by Christ, and I am eternally grateful that I will not be judged or condemned for them—that is the wonder and beauty of His biblical message.

    My evaluation of Capt. Holloway’s situation is neither sin nor blasphemy as you claim. It is not sin because I do not condemn him, nor did the writer of this article. We both point out that Christ offers eternal life, if Capt. Holloway chooses to consider and accept that offer. The three linked articles imply that he has not done that. This article further states that his earthly death is imminent. But, according to the Bible, it will be a tragedy if he departs this life without Christ. There is no sin in pointing that out, or in urging him and other readers to seriously consider that truth.

    As far as your charge of blasphemy is concerned, you apparently have no knowledge of what that sin consists of, on a biblical basis. For your information, it basically consists of speaking sacrilegiously or profanely about God. If you really understood that, I don’t believe you would be speaking of Him as a “sky fairy.” But I will leave you to settle that with Him when you finally meet.

    In the meantime, you, like Capt. Holloway, should seriously consider Christ’s offer of forgiveness for your sins. All of us have sinned against God many times over; and that is God’s truth (Rom 3:23), not my condemnation of you or anyone else. In the final analysis, either you or Christ will pay for your sins. Having Him pay your penalty is a wonderful and loving offer. Don’t reject it; the alternative will be a real tragedy for you.

    Sincerely, Mike Martin

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