Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Afternoon Hero

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.


At 3:34 PM , Anonymous tim said...

Don - what a wonderful encounter to include on your blog. Thats been my experience with WW2 veterans - no false modesty but simply realism and a humble spirit of "I did what needed to be done."

At 3:46 PM , Blogger E Erickson said...

so, what did you do at the wedding - drop a hint that people could be polite and turn off their cell phones - or not get into that personal territory at all?!

In regards to your WWII heros- here's another perspective
Robert Whiting, an elderly gentleman of 83, arrived in Paris by plane. At French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry on. 'You have been to France before, monsieur?' the customs officer asked sarcastically. Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously.
'Then you should know to have your passport ready.'
The American said, 'The last time I was here, I didn't have to show it.
'Impossible. Americans always have to show your passports on arrival in France!'
The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look. Then he quietly explained, 'Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day in 1944 to help liberate this country, I couldn't find a single
Frenchmen to show a passport to.'
-You could have heard a pin drop.

At 3:48 PM , Blogger E Erickson said...

oops- previous comment from Ellyn Erickson
Salem Covenant - MN
p.s. How's your dad?

At 4:47 PM , Blogger donnjohnson said...

Ellen; I invited folks to turn off their cell phones as instructed and all went well. Mom and Dad are doing well, thanks!


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