I met this old guy in my local supermarket – he was handing out food samples.
He was chatty and we talked about the usual and then he asked me “Did you see the B24?“
Every couple of years three WWII bombers show up at our local airport – these are restored planes supported by the Collings Foundation, an organization dedicate to keeping these old warbirds flying so that the public can see and appreciate them. I try to show up when they are in town and paid for rides on a B17 and B25 – the next time I’ll hop on the B24.
The experience is stunning – I don’t think anyone can truly appreciate what those who served on these machines went through; I got a small taste by riding on these warbirds for about 30 minutes. What I can tell you is that there is NO insulation, they are incredibly noisy, cold, small, and for most of the crew the only thing between them and the outside is a thin layer of aluminum. These machines consist of engines, lots of gas, bombs, machine guns and primitive crew comforts – and that’s it.
When they show up at my local airport, you hear them flying as they take folks for a ride – a deep, throaty sound that right away grabs your attention and you look up. Hard to describe feelings when you see these warbirds flying.
What’s harder to describe is what combat veterans experience. As I talked to the old guy in the supermarket, you could see the pride in what he did during the war; you could also see the great sadness when he talked about the buddies who did not make it back. For veterans, these are not fading memories – these long-ago events are as vivid as when they happened. Whatever branch of service – Airforce, Army, Marines, Navy – and whatever war, vets live these experiences every day.
For all veterans, this is a day to honor those who served. Almost everyone knows a vet – give him a call and just chat a while.
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