Andrew. Raise a glass…
Andrew Kane and I have been swapping Air Force stories and now navy and infantry stories, which misses the point. Those old guys gave everything, wherever they were, whatever their specific duties were. I have a shoebox stuffed with letters from the Western Front of World War I, 1918. From a captain of infantry in the Rainbow Division. Should (MUST actually) make a book out of them. He was literate, observant, an Ohio State engineer, and as close to fearless as you can be in a landscape that looks like this.
But I find my hand shaking when I reach for that box. He knew why he was there. Suzanne Littel thinks it was the gubbamint. I think it was that my grandpa knew the time had come to kill some Germans. He should know. His ancestry was more than 75 percent German. And a hundred percent American.
So tired of all the poseurs, the grievance mongers, the phony ethnicities, the whores of their own private causes. Only now are we deciding that American soldiers are victims. Bunch of PTSD time bombs about to go off or go down to drugs and drink and violence, which is to do them or us no honor. The ones who volunteered chose to put their lives on the line. Now and ever, all the way back in time. My dad had screaming nightmares after the war. He got over them. Go figure.
Funny how life works. I was actually living in Dayton when the DOD decided to honor my dad’s Twelfth Air Force with a memorial at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The old man came out for the ceremony. We found ourselves standing side by side in front of this.
I thought it would be bigger. It looked small and frail, despite its heavy armor. Just like my dad. I got into into the cockpit. Tiny. My dad just stood and stared. Giant little old man. I wanted to wrap my coat around him.
But he wouldn’t have understood if I had.
I was saying, though, that life is funny. My later adventures took me to the very plant where my dad’s plane was built. Whirlpool was using it to build air conditioners. I was a consultant advising them on how to build air conditioners better. But the plant was a nightmare. It was never built to manufacture air conditioners. It was built to assemble P-47 fighter planes. Dark, twisty, massive, just big enough to shove the carcasses of man killing machines through, on their way to the blue skies of Europe.
Never seen a P-47? Most people haven’t. Why this story was so intriguing.
I wrote a post about it at Instapunk. But I can’t find it. The past tries to hide itself. I had pictures of the barnacle encrusted controls. How long it has been. Ah! My better half found it.
Andrew and I are trying to shake hands across an abyss so vast no one can reach. But thank you anyway, my friend.