In honor of a veteran Dad who flew into hell... again... and again... and again... along with all other veterans and those who now serve
Dad is the man who lies in this flag-draped coffin. I will not say too much about him for now, except that he was a good father and that, thanks to him, and many more like him, most of them gone now, the evil dream of a man named Hitler died in flames and blood.
We buried Dad on June 2, 2007. He died on Memorial Day.
A short time earlier, at his Mormon chapel in Sandy, Utah. You can see that Melanie served as one of the pre-honor guard pallbearers. To her left stands my nephew-in-law, Vivek Iyer and to her right, my nephew-in-law, Steve Cook. My niece, Sarah Fox, daughter of my late brother, Ron, stands on the other side of the coffin.
Other family members can be seen in the background, including my brothers Mac and Rex and my nieces, Khena and Shaela.
A few days earlier, as he lay on his death bed. The important thing to understand about the picture that my sister, Mary Ann, shows to Dad before he goes is that it is not just any old, dramatic, war picture. It is a picture that I grew up with, because it was taken from his B-24 bomber and he knew the men in the plane that is breaking apart.
He knew also that it could just as easily have been his plane and at any moment might yet be. Each time he sandwiched himself into the navigator's hutch he knew this. Yet always he went. Fear did not stop him.
Dad did this kind of thing over and over during World War II, flying out of bases in North Africa and Europe. Once, he and his crew took off on a mission in a squadron of seven. Only their airplane reached the target and returned.
Another time, a German machine gun bullet ripped through the fuselage and struck his flight helmet right at his forehead. It spun the helmet around 180 degrees and knocked Dad unconscious. Believing him to be dead, his Captain ordered another crewman to shove him aside and take his place.
Mary Ann gives Dad a kiss.
Dad, as he looked on August 8, 2004.
I will post these images again one day. I once sent several stories that I wrote about Dad to Soundarya after she requested that I do so. Last summer, she told me that I should post them here and I will, when the time is right and I have the time.
I should also note that this is not one of the week's plus worth of posts that I put up on Thursday, November 5, because I was too ill to concentrate on my work and wanted to have several days of uninterrupted time to concentrate on my work as I recovered. I did not think of Veteran's Day at that time.
The deaths of the 13 soldiers at Fort Hood and those that we continually hear about in Afghanistan and Iraq put Veteran's Day into my head.
Along with my Dad, I honor all these as well, along with those who now stand in harm's way.