Marcel has his wings!

Marcel Melo at his graduation from flight school; copyright Samuel Giordano, 2012

Marcel (top right) with his classmates from the Initial Entry Rotary Wing Aviator Course Fort Rucker; copyright Susanna Melo, 2012

Story by Susanna Melo

Exactly a month ago today, on March 8th to be exact, Samuel Giordano (Marcel’s uncle and godfather from Brazil who came specifically for the graduation) and I had the privilege of pinning Marcel’s wings on to his handsome, dark blue uniform. Marcel now has his Helicopter Commercial License, which he worked extremely hard to achieve over the past year and a half!

You would be amazed at the amount of information learned over such a short period of time if you personally saw the heavy handbooks of hundreds of pages these aviators have to study. You would also be amazed if you attempted to fly in a simulator helicopter, as Sam and I experienced, for there are hundreds of knobs, gears and other electronic features one has to master in order to fly.

This is not all. These graduating aviators went through one of the toughest feats of their training: SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) School. Thrown in the wilderness for 2-3 weeks with no water or food, these aviators had to survive a conflict/war simulation.  Another challenge this graduating class of men and women underwent was to exit a helicopter submerged under water while being blindfolded. I cannot imagine the physical duress these soldiers had to endure in order to achieve their wings, but also the courage and persistence to overcome such difficult and stressful moments of their studies and training.

Marcel’s graduation was so full of emotion! Smiles, laughter and tears building up in my eyes were just some of these emotions. The graduation took place at Fort Rucker’s U.S. Army Aviation Center. At first, the ceremony was quite solemn, as one would expect it to be; therefore, I could not understand when the officer in front of me turned around to chat. He was trying to tell Sam and me that we should be joyful and “make noise” for this graduating class. I was still unsure until he went to the podium. While speaking into the microphone, he said he had addressed the parents of an aviator (at this point I did not hesitate; “Melo,” I screamed from the audience and the crowd began to laugh) encouraging us to cheer for our graduates and be more enthusiastic. This officer was the Commanding General/Commandant MG Anthony G. Crutchfield who addresses the President of the United States directly! So having his final “blessing,” the crowd went from silent to exuberant!

Permit me now to brag about my son. Marcel joined the National Guard in 2007 much against my wishes, but he had my support thereafter, even though, I must admit, it has been a little difficult for me, especially when he was deployed to Iraq for a year. He has risen up to every challenge, but most importantly, he underwent very rigorous training to fulfill his dream to fly. Marcel will not stop here, though. He will soon achieve his Airframe and Power Plant License, which will allow him to work mechanically on any aircraft. His next accomplishment will be to conclude his degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, which is rated number one in aviation and aerospace college education.

Presently Marcel is working in Columbia, but during the summer, he will be going to another state to undergo further training before being deployed overseas once again. At that point in time, Marcel will become Chief Warrant Officer 2! Upon returning from overseas, Marcel has set further goals for himself, and knowing my son, he will certainly achieve them.

What else can a mother ask for? Professional fulfillment, health, and happiness for one’s child. Marcel has it all, and I have had the privilege to see all of his stages of development and to be a part of it all. I just wish his father had, too, for I know Cecil would have been just as proud as I am of our son!

Some of Marcel Melo’s friends from flight school; copyright Susanna Melo, 2012

Samuel Giordano, Marcel Melo, and Susanna Melo at Fort Rucker

My relatives’ (Samuel Giordano and Debora Schisler) home in Goncalves

Samuel Giordano empties the excess water from a paper bag that protects a peach from insects and birds; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012

Samuel Giordano makes churrasco--he cooks a variety of meats over a charcoal fire; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

Samuel Giordano and Debora Schisler dance in the living room of their Goncalves home; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

Living on a movie set

Copyright Keith Kenney, 2012

Copyright Susanna Melo, 2012

We asked Samuel Giordano to take us to the location of his daughter, Giovanna’s, first film. Giovanna studies cinema at FAAP, and she made her first short film at “graffiti corner” in Vila Madelena in Sao Paulo. As we parked the car, we met a local resident of 62 years, who is selling his home. He said that almost every day, and most nights, cinematographers come by to film scenes in front of his home. He rents his bathroom to them. Graffiti artists also visit to see the work of their heroes and to repaint a wall. Buying his house would be like living on a constantly changing movie set.

GIANT bamboo

Samuel Giordano gave Susanna and me a tour of the University of Sao Paulo, where Sam's consulting company has an office. The campus is huge with many green areas.

Good choice

Samuel Giordano and Susanna Melo study the menu at the Municipal Market.

We all chose the traditional (and famous) bologna sandwiches!

Chef Samuel Giordano

Copyright Keith Kenney, 2011

Copyright Keith Kenney, 2011

Copyright Keith Kenney, 2011

Buon Giorno a tutti quanti.

Oggi `e l’ ultimo giorno del ‘ anno ed io sonno incaricato di fare il pranzo per la famiglia.

Per cominciare ho fatto un piatto misto di antipasti composto di: fettini di sopressatta, olive nere, insalatina di cozze al vino con prezzemolo,peperoni rossi-gialli-verde aglio e olio, zucchini alla menda, bruschetini di carcioffi e peperocini, scarolla cotta al seme di finocchio.

Primo e ‘unico: Pasta lumache ala passata rustica  e frutti di mare-scampi-cozze-calamaretti

Per dessert: Torta al cioccolato e ciliegie fresche.

Vino Rosso: Uva Cabernet Sauvignon Argentino della Patagonia-Neuqu’em e uva  Touriga Nacional Portoghese del Alem Tejo.

Caf’e Nero

Champagne Brut.

Hello to everyone.

Today is the last day of the year and I was in charge of making dinner for the family.

To begin with I made a platter of appetizers consisting of: sopressatta slices, black olives, mussels salad with wine and parsley, red-yellow-green peppers in garlic and oil, zucchini with mint, bruschetini of peperocini and artichoke, scarolla cooked with fennel seeds.

First and ‘only: Pasta with seafood sauce: mussels-shrimp-squid

For dessert: Chocolate cake and fresh cherries.

Red Wine: Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentine Patagonia and Touriga Nacional- Portuguese Alem tejo.

Black Coffee

Champagne Brut.

A family of good storytellers (and listeners)

Copyright Keith Kenney, 2011

We sat around in a big circle. We pretended that a TV remote was a microphone. Then we “interviewed” each other. “Sam, how did you meet De?” “Melanie, tell us about dumpster diving.” Some of the answers are already known. We’ve heard the stories before, but we want to hear them again. Others are new. This is the first time that Marcelo joined a big family gathering. Same for Nicole. With so much truth flying about, I hope they didn’t get scared 🙂 I hope that all families use their holidays to bond by telling stories, with or without “microphones.”

Copyright Susanna Melo, 2011

Copyright Susanna Melo, 2011

Copyright Susanna Melo, 2011