Monday, May 28, 2012

Hero?....You Want A Hero? HappyUP!!! Memorial Day

(A Special Post for SundayScribblings originally published 11/19/2006)

I'll give you one - and I mean that sincerely. But first, a stearn word of warning:


After all, isn't that what real heroes are all about? - they inspire us to be more than who we are.

So, who is the hero that I will give to you? - well, "give" is a bit much because there is no way that I would give this treasure away. I will "share" this hero with you. You can draw from his power should you ever get down.

The hero? - well, let's set the stage. It's May 28, 1944. A young about to go up for his 30th bombing run. His long tour of duty is almost over. The amount of planes in the air this day...friendly and unfriendly is more than he has ever seen.

By the time they drop their payload on Germany - the B-17 is badly damaged. The entire 10 man crew is huddled up near the cockpit as it is the only spot in the plane that now has oxygen. The crew knows that they will have to ditch the plane as it is too damaged to land.

Can they just make it to the English Channel - so they can bail out over friendly ground?

"Fire...Fire..jump!" - shouts the pilot. Two airman leap from the plane as the pilot holds the craft steady for the crew. Those are the only two that get to jump as the plane explodes.

Our navigator - has never jumped from a plane before. Sure, they told him how to do it down on the ground but he has never free fallen from a plane. He only knows that, to avoid capture, he is to delay opening his parachute until the last moment.

He plummets from 17,000 feet - down to 2500 and pulls the rip chord.......but nothing happens. Frantically, he reaches into his front pack and pulls on a handful of silk. It was just enough to get the chute to respond...though, when it does, the force of the braking is so hard that it feels like our young airman has broken every bone in his body.

He hits the ground - hard. What awaits him in Germany? A bunch of farmers...with clubs and pitchforks. They aren't too thrilled with this young American flyboy that just moments before had been bombing their motherland. They begin to beat him to death....

Until a German Officer on a bicycle - rides up and restores order. He captures his prisoner. Later, the airman will be brought back to this identify the bodies of what, just moments before, had been his crew memebers.

This includes that pilot - who held that plane true to the very end so his crew could escape.

Our navigator is taken into a stalag - and he remains there in deplorable conditions until an evening in January of 1945. All of the prisoners are awoken in the middle of the night. They are rousted and told to start marching.

You see - the allied forces were getting close to liberating these prisoners. The Germans now had to move the prisoners farther into Nazi territory.

Have you ever been to Germany in January? - neither have I. It ain't the tropics. Thousands of men are thrown out into a blizzard....many with only cardboard for shoe bottoms. Freezing temperatures. No NorthFace or Patagonia outerwear. Old French greatcoats were de riguer.

Thousands of malnourished men - just putting one foot in front of the other in fresh fallen Bavarian snow. Over one third of the men laid down .....and it was the last rest they ever took. They were shot or left to die all in the name of Hitler's philosophies.

Not our airman....our navigator.....our Hero - he kept marching...marching....moving. They went in cattlecars, flea infested factories, abandoned buildings.....but always walking. He kept up for 5 months until he and the rest of the prisoners were finally liberated.

So, the next time you think that you have something tough in front of you - remember our Hero....who happens to be my father. If he can survive in those conditions, I think that I....and you....can put up with some of the minor inconveniences that we go through every day.

...and, the next time you think a hero is someone - that gets their name stitched on to a pair of basketball shoes, could you do me a favor? .......

.........Don't even come near me with that load of crap unless you want to learn about real heroes.


paris parfait said...

Scott,what a powerful, profound post, not to mention a wonderful tribute to your father's bravery and courage. You've brought tears to my eyes with this wonderful story today. And yes, society is warped for portraying sports figures and movie stars as heroes -unless they've done something actually heroic.

sundaycynce said...

WoW! Terrific post! Fantastic story, and as Tara said, tribute to your father--indeed a true hero--as well. I also identify with your venom and disgust about those who regard the large number of narcissistic criminals (not all, of course, but far too many) whose names are found on sports equiptment as heros. Ptheeew (I know this expletive when I read it but have never before tried to spell it. I don't think I did too well, but hope you understand.)

Stacey said...

Oh, this was amazing. Truly. Your father is a grand hero, and I am quite amazed at your story! Thank you for sharing it.