One Of The Things The Drug War Stole From Me
1973 a book called The 10-second Jailbreak told the story of how a helicopter surprised a Mexican prison by landing in the courtyard evacuating two men, one of which was a CIA operative. It was the first such jail break by helicopter in history and wouldn't be attempted again for 50 years.
Following this book, in 1975 a movie came out staring the actor Charles Bronson called Breakout. These are the stories of my grandfather.
My grandfather, modeled in the character Nick "Cotton" Colton, and his bravery while breaking a CIA operative from a Mexican prison, when the CIA, FBI, and even the U.S. Army wouldn't dare try, altered our lives forever.
My grandfather continued his piloting work, and just as the CIA worked to influence the world through the drug trade, my grandfather too worked that trade. However, unlike the protected government agents who moved drugs, my grandfather was put in federal prison.
My early memories of going to meet him would begin with a long walk alongside my mother past armed guards, through security perimeters, along bar-lined prison hallways, finally reaching him, waiting for us, in his prison attire.
I can't imagine how hard and isolating it must have been for him to see his little grandson for only an hour, never getting to really know, or bond with that small boy. I am sure he felt pain in his heart not being able to spend a weekend, or night together watching movies, doting, going to the park, or for a walk.
In the end, we never got to be close, we never got to make memories together. I never got to really know my grandfather even though we lived in the same world for decades.
Today, I live with the pain of never knowing him. What they took from him, they also took from me, from my mother, and my sisters. There isn't a time that I think about him that my heart doesn't hurt for what I missed with him.
My grandfather rescued an American, who's work contributed to creating a Western Democracy. My grandfather distributed natural plant materials, the same as our CIA has done, the same as Colorado's businesses do today and it cost him everything. I will never be able to know him as he has passed on but I can try to save another child from missing their father, or grandfather, or mother, or sister, or anyone else from sharing in that pain.