Midweek afternoons in a church can be quiet and sleepy. This afternoon I went hospital visiting. One of our men had some medical complications and is now in transitional care before home. He's a quiet widower, regular attender, always smiling and chipper. As our conversation began, I asked him about his place of birth and vocation. He was born in the midwest, son of a printer and became a printer himself until the war. "What branch of the service were you in?" I asked. "Air Force" he replied. "What did you do?" I asked back. "Flew planes" came his reply. "What kind of planes?" I kept digging. "B-24's" he said. "How many missions did you fly?" I asked, now intrigued. "48 officially" he said with a wink. Then a conversation opened up about flying bombing runs in WW II through heavy enemy fire and lots of loss of life.
The more he spoke, the bigger and more powerful he became. I was sitting in the presence of a hero; a man who did his duty without fuss and went back to a quiet life. When we were done, I grabbed his hand and said "Thanks for what you did for all of us." Tears filled his eyes, he didn't speak, he just nodded.