This is my grandfather, circa 1944. A 1st Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps.
He was a pilot. He flew B-24 Bombers over Europe. He was part of the Battle of the Bulge, and was even shot down once or twice. In fact, he went MIA for a few days after one mission with an unplanned landing. As I remember the story, he managed to make his way back to the base just in time to prevent a dreaded “Missing-In-Action” telegram from being sent to my grandmother.
He served our country…and, like so many other men and women of his generation, and so many other veterans, his service defined him.
He was a wonderful father and grandfather. He was a salesman – selling corrugated paper and packaging materials to support his family. He loved to fish and travel, and tinker with gadgets around the house. But when he spoke of his time as an Army Air Corps pilot, his missions at night, the rations, and especially of his crew, his eyes would glimmer. Sometimes a tear would form in the corner of his eye, as he reminded us that as a pilot, he never lost a man. We knew the experiences he shared with his crew were sacred. We knew we could never really understand their bond, borne out of the fear they shared that one, or all of them, might not come home. They lived through moments of terror, I’m sure. Yet my grandfather reflected on his time in the service as one of the best times of his life.
I’m so grateful for his service, and for the sense of patriotism he passed on to his children and grandchildren.
To my Grandpa, and all those who serve: THANK YOU.