Heroes

[Most of you know that I tend to do a reasonably generic Veteran’s Day post, which usually includes a bit about Remembrance Day as well. I wrote about Remembrance Day yesterday at All Along the Watchtower. If you’d like to read it, it is at this link, and everything I say there about our allies applies to us as well. But I’m going to supersede my Veteran’s Day post to talk about a specific group of American veterans today. In addition I want you to go over to Mac’s shop. He has a very important message for us all. I agree completely with him. Go there now, I’ll wait for you.]

Raiders_Hrutkay_01

Heroes

Growing up in America in the 50s and 60s, most of my heroes were the men who fought World War II. For people my age they were all around us, for most of us, our parents, our uncles, our grandparents (sometimes), their friends; in truth most of the adults around us had something to do with the war effort, whether they were in the military or on the home front. Nearly all of them denied being heroes, but they were to us, and they still are.

But you know as we go through adulthood, we understand better why they denied being heroes, and in their terms, for the most part they were right. They were men and women with a mission, and they did their part, mostly well, sometimes not so good, and sometimes exceptionally well. As we grow old, we learn that the heroes of our youth, have feet of clay, like any mortal.

Nations at war are funny beasts, and the more total the war the weirder they are. When we are young we don’t understand the paralyzing fear that Audie Murphy or Alvin York must have felt while performing their timeless heroics. And we also learn that entire war efforts, and the morale of a country can turn on small events, that will echo through history.

And we also find that if we have the interest, and are lucky, we may meet some of those men, and in my case they were all men, that made history, itself, take notice. This story is about one of them, and the seventy-nine men he led on what looked like a volunteer suicide mission. I’ve said before that I wanted growing up to fly, and to fly bombers, this man was one of the reasons, and I did get to meet him, not much more than to shake his hand and say, “Good Evening, General” but I also got to hear him make a speech. He probably made a close variant of that speech a thousand times, but it moved me.

And while most of the heroes of our youth diminish as we grow older, a very select few become even more heroic. This is one of them for me.

Color_Patch_1Herman Wouk, in his romance, War and Remembrance, speaking of the raid, had a character say that he thought America to be “the Babe Ruth of nations” and in many ways it is true. Think about this: five months after the destruction of the Pacific Fleet during a steady diet of news of defeats in Europe, the Atlantic, and the Pacific, bombs fell on Tokyo. I’d call that a grand slam home run.

Especially since to accomplish it they had to figure out a way to launch army medium bombers from a navy aircraft carrier, knowing that if they fell into Japanese hands, which was a quite high possibility, it would go very hard with them. And some were executed by the Japanese. But they damned well did it and electrified America and the world. Doolittle was promoted Brigadier General and received the Medal of Honor, and from that day to this, and for as far as we are given to see the future, became the hero of the American bomber community.

But why am I talking about this now?

Because the other day, the last four of the 80 Raiders finished the mission. Those men, who have stuck together all these years, have been saving a bottle of cognac, that General Doolittle bought, it was dated 1896, the year of his birth. This year they decided that the time had come, and at a ceremony at the Museum of the United States Air Force, they drank for the last time the toast that they have been drinking in private all these years.

Here’s the ceremony

This is what a man, and a hero, looks like, sounds like, and does

There is a phrase I learned way back in Air Force ROTC which is the only thing left to say

Keep ’em Flying

May they indeed rest in peace

About Neo
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

3 Responses to Heroes

  1. The was one newspaper headline “Doolittle Dood It” .

    Like

  2. Pingback: And then There was One | nebraskaenergyobserver

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