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It has been too many years since I last saw my dad, almost a quarter of a century has passed. As I grow older and become more aware of this world and all of it’s potential dangers I reflect upon my father’s exploits. An honest, simple man who just wanted to love his wife, have a home and raise his family. Yet, in spite of his personal wants and desires, he answered the call to travel far, far from his home to help liberate people he had never met. This country boy, from a town so small that it doesn’t even exist anymore, was destined to fly over major cities of the world and to meet people from places he had never known existed. And so he left his new bride and joined the faceless millions in the greatest struggle of the last century. I can only imagine how he must have felt. You see he never spoke of these perilous adventures, he was as quiet as the Sphinx in the desert, the very same desert that he once flew over.
When we buried him at the military cemetery the undertaker, quite casually, said to me and my mom “did you know that he had 7 bronze star medals”? We both said “no, we didn’t know. My mom said she knew that he was burned one time and refused to seek a Purple Heart and that he had Malaria”. You see he never spoke of those terrible events that he had lived through for those four dangerous years. He would only talk about those friends he had made and especially those he had lost. To him they were, the heroes, not himself.
And so it was for me growing up along side this man, the man I knew as Dad. He worked hard, blue collar, never complained, never missed work and loved his family. The family in which I am proud to say I was a part of.
However, there was a box, in our home, that held within it the hidden treasures from his hazardous exploits. I remember it well. This box was not meant to be seen by my eyes, it was secreted and not meant to be viewed, especially by me. There in this forbidden box was strange foreign money, some empty cartridges, all manner of enemy memorabilia, and most importantly many, many, many photographs. These relics, these photos, told the tale of his long ago secret adventures that he would not speak of. I would sneak into that room, that reliquary, and look at these treasures when my parents where not home. I was a young voyeur into the world that my hero, my Dad, had experienced.
I can only imagine what it must have been like. A cold blue sky filled with clouds that hid so many deadly dangers. Each flight could be his last. And yet, my hero father would climb aboard his potential coffin for those four agonizing years. So, here is my tribute to my personal hero, my Dad. I know that there are many, many other Dads out there that deserve just as much. My wish is that they too feel the gratitude that they so richly deserve. visionary imagist “Joey”