Saturday, March 7, 2009

A B-24 J Liberator -ball gunner - asks his son to take him to the last B-24 in flying condition-You'll Love This Story...

Thank you - Third Wave Dave!

Be prepared with a tissue - if your eyes do not water- something's wrong with you:

My Father Asks For Nothing

(2006)My father asks me for nothing, really. Every three months or so, I take him to his doctor, who pokes about him wondering what keeps him animated, and that's about it. He's grown frail, and has discovered the joys of "Not Going." It takes a lot to get him to leave the comfort and safety of his house. I was really surprised when he called me on Saturday, because he asked me to take him somewhere.

My father was a ball gunner on a B-24J Liberator bomber in the Pacific during WW2. He rarely spoke about that. My father and his confreres considered themselves part of a thing greater than the sum of their parts in it --or so it seems to me -- and more or less did what was expected of them as a sort of unpleasant chore, kept themselves safe as much as was practicable, amused themselves when possible, and got back to being regular people as soon as they could.

As far as how practicable it was to keep safe hanging below a plane filled with four hundred pound bombs with nothing but the ocean beneath you to bore you and Japanese Zeros shooting at you to keep you interested in the trip, you can draw your own conclusions.

My father said that the last B-24 in flying condition was going to be at a little airshow nearby, and he wanted to go see it. Would I take him?

As I said, my father is very frail. His heart is big but not useful. His mind is sharp but not overused now. It takes quite a bit of effort for him to get down the hall and into a car. And there was nothing I could do to keep him from trying to climb in that plane when we got there.

I didn't try, actually; I just was sort of amazed, and wondered how I could help him. You entered the plane on a rickety jump ladder in the tail, walked through the fuselage filled with wooden ammo boxes and gun emplacemements, climbed around the retracted ball that was his home for forty missions, and then had to walk on a catwalk less than a foot wide between the bomb racks to get to the cockpit. All this for a man who needs a walker.

We went along the side of the plane, creeping along at the pace my father goes, my father assiduously avoiding walking between the fuselage and the props -- a habit sixty years old and more -- and he saw his chance. He ducked down and crept into the bomb bay.

Down came the hands. No one needed to be told who that man was, or why he was there. Everyone behind paused to wait patiently and respectfully, and everyone within reach helped me pick that old, frail, brave man up to look on the nuts and bolts of that totem of his distant life. And they thanked him, and they asked him questions, and marveled at him. A Brigadier General and a sailor and a J.A.G. and Vietnam vets by the handful pressed his hand for the piquant residue of that life that might be on it.

He just looked for one familiar face that he had not brought with him, but there were none.

My father asks for nothing.

(My father passed away on Sunday)

We are losing our WWII -BEST- daily---and a thank you to them would be GOOD...Before they go to heaven...




Even on this reading I need a tissue. Thx, Carol.

Z said...

that was one of the finest pieces I have EVER read. So American. Thanks, Carol..just beautiful.

christian soldier said...

Z and TWD-thank you both both 'sounding forth' w/ you blogs-- in this fray!

christian soldier said...

that would be -w/YOUR blogs :-)

midnight rider said...

oh oh oh! pinching it pinching it pinching it!

(Thanks, CS!)

ProudAmerican said...

This is a beautiful, heartwarming story about an American hero who served our country during WWII. My father, also a WWII veteran, was assigned to combat in the South Pacific againt hostile Japanese submarines. He lived to be 78 years old. The Greatest Generation...too soon they are leaving us. And none like them shall ever pass this way again.

christian soldier said...

ProudAmerican- Thank you for stopping by and for your heartfelt feelings about our BEST of WW ll..

I would like to think that our BEST of the BEST are still out there--exp. my friends and family now fighting for our Freedom..
I am sad that our WW ll generation will soon be gone from this earth-we will miss them- won't we?

ProudAmerican said...

Christian Soldier...the best of the best are out there. I am a teacher, and I have five fantastic students who, only seven months ago, completed their basic military training; four at Parris Island Marine Corps boot camp in South Carolina and one at Ft. Benning, Georgia. They are now in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am so proud of them...words can never express my gratitude. They are our young American heroes. You can be sure, my dad would have been so proud of them.

Eric - The Maine PC Doc said...

Almost by mistake I found out about the work of the AmVets and VFW. I have joined both as a "Sons of AmVets", and "VFW Men's Auxiliary" member. I am sure the American Legion deserves to be mentioned as well, but I have not been involved with them. I urge all of you to find out about your local posts and join if you are eligible. If you are not eligible then offer to volunteer anyways! They do great work for the whole community, while promoting the causes of our veterans, who certainly deserve every bit of recognition they can get.

dinka said...

God bless your Dad,and you for making us aware of his devotion to God and country. If not for people like your father I may not be responding to your story. Our prayers are with you and all that believe in God and country.
Thank you, Diana