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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 05:31 PM
Original message
A poem for Ancient Aviators
Edited on Fri Mar-10-06 05:32 PM by trof
I belong to a group called Ancient Aviators of South Alabama.
Believe it or not, we still have a lot of WW II members, but we're losing them.
Too fast.
This got my waterworks going.

The Reunion
by Rachel Firth

Autumn leaves, rustling to the appointed place,the old warriors come.
Pilgrims, drifting across the land they fought to preserve.
Where they meet is not so important any more...
They meet and that's enough for now.

Greetings echo across the lobby.
Hands reach out and arms draw buddies close.
Embraces, that as young men they were too uncomfortable to give,
too shy to accept so lovingly.

But, deep within these Indian Summer days
they have reached a greater understanding of life and love.
The shells holding their souls are weaker now,
but hearts and minds grow vigorous remembering.

On a table someone spreads old photographs; a test of recollection.
And friendly laughter echoes at shocks of hair
gone gray or white, or merely gone.
The slender bodies lost forever.
Yet they no longer need to prove their strength.

Some are now sustained by one of "medicine's miracles,"
and even in this fact they manage to find humor.
The women, all those who waited, all those who love them,
have watched the changes take place.
Now they observe and listen, and smile at each other,
as glad to be together as the men.

Talks turn to war and planes and foreign lands.
Stories are told and told again,
reweaving the threadbare fabric of the past.
Mending one more time the banner of their youth.

They hear the vibrations, feel the shudder of metal
as propellers whine and swirl, and planes come to life.
These birds with fractured wings can see beyond the mist of clouds,
and they are in the air again, chasing the wind,
feeling the exhilaration of flight, close to the heavens,
the wild and blue yonder of their anthem.

Dead comrades, hearing their names spoken,
wanting to share in this time, if only in spirit,
move silently among them.
Their presence is felt and smiles appear beneath misty eyes.
Each, in his own way, may wonder who will be absent another year.

The room grows quiet for a time.
Suddenly an ember flames to life.
Another memory burns.
The talk may turn to other wars and other men,
and of futility. So, this is how it goes.

The past is ever present.
In their ceremonies, the allegiances, the speeches,
and the prayers, one cannot help but hear the deep
eternal love of country they will forever share.

Finally it is time to leave.
Much too soon to set aside this little piece of yesterday,
but the past cannot be held too long for it is fragile.

They say "Farewell...See you next year, God willing,"
breathing prayers for one another.
Each keeping a little of the others with him forever.
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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 05:54 PM
Response to Original message
1. George Grau bailed out of a B-17.
Edited on Fri Mar-10-06 05:57 PM by trof
George is still a pretty big guy, about 6' 2". He's a bit past ruggedly handsome, but you can tell that he was probably a heart breaker in his 20s. He has very large hands, the knuckles larger now, with arthritis.

He managed to keep his B-17 straight and more-or-less level, after 1/4 of the left wing had been shot off, until the rest of the crew had bailed.

The last man out, he went out through the bomb bay.
Knew he would whack his head on the doors and did.
Recovered consciousness at about 150 feet, barely in time to pull his parachute D-ring and deploy the chute just before he hung up in a tree.

Knew he was close to the battle line in Germany. When he finally made contact with a U.S. unit he learned he was barely 1/2 mile INSIDE our lines.
"A half mile the other way and I would either be dead, or I would have spent a year or more in a German POW camp. And maybe still dead."

George was back flying missions 2 weeks later.



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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 06:02 PM
Response to Original message
2. I guess the large block of type is intimidating. And it's Friday.
But I may just keep spinning some tales here for my own amusement.
Why not?
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The Velveteen Ocelot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 06:15 PM
Response to Original message
3. I knew this old guy who flew C-17s over the Himalayas.
He had some amazing stories. He died a few years ago; most of them are gone now...
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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 06:43 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. Flying the hump.
Those guys have lots of stories.
Got a couple of them in A.A.S.A
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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 06:40 PM
Response to Original message
4. Paul McArthur flew P-40s, P-47s, and P-51s.
He became an Ace (5 kills) in the Mediterranean Campaign, North Africa-Sicily-Italy.
"First to Fight" in 1942.
First Ace from Alabama.

A gentle man and a gentleman.

I was able to arrange a missing wingman formation by Alabama Air National Guard F-16s at his funeral.
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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 06:50 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. Paul also flew Francis Gary Powers out of Germany, back to the U.S.
Edited on Fri Mar-10-06 06:56 PM by trof
In the back seat of an F-100/F.

In 1962 espionage became big news as the 'U2 Incident' grabbed world headlines. Pilot Gary Powers was shot down as he flew the sinister U2, designed for covert surveillance, over Soviet territory, sparking one of the biggest international crises of the Cold War. The US demanded his safe return. The USSR wanted to know what he was doing up there in the first place.

Shot down on 01 May 1960, Powers was held in prison for two years until 1962, when he was exchanged for Soviet Col. Rudolf Abel in the most dramatic East-West spy swap ever to occur in Cold War Berlin. Powers stepped on to the eastern end of the Berlin's Glienicke Bridge spanning the River Havel on February 10 in 1962. At the other end of the bridge, stood Colonel Rudolf Abel, a heavily muffled Soviet master-spy, seized earlier by US security agents after setting up a red spy network in New York in the late 1950s.

At a precisely arranged signal, the two men strode on to the bridge, marching purposefully towards one another, Powers heading westward, Abel eastwards. In the middle of the bridge they passed each other silently, with barely a nod of their heads. That spy-swap operation was to be the forerunner of many such East-West prisoner exchanges to take place on the Glienicke Bridge over the next 27 years in Berlin

Criticized when he returned to the United States for not ensuring the revolutionary plane was destroyed or killing himself with poison, Powers was cold-shouldered by his former employers at the Central Intelligence Agency and eventually died in 1977 at the age of 47 when a television news helicopter he was piloting crashed in Los Angeles.
http://www.geocities.com/siafdu/powers.html
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jpgray Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 06:51 PM
Response to Original message
7. First person to make a Coleridge copycat of this earns my eternal hate
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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 06:57 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. Thanks, man.
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The Velveteen Ocelot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 06:58 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. Well, I did think of a "Rime of the Ancient Aviator"
Edited on Fri Mar-10-06 07:01 PM by ocelot
but all I could remember of the Coleridge poem was the part about "slimy things did crawl with legs Upon the slimy sea" and I can't quite (and don't want to) tie that in with aviators. So, sorry, you don't get to hate me eternally. Anyhow, the OP's poem is way too excellent.
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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 07:03 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. I am in a very nostalgic mood this evening. And fuck war.
Old times, old missions, old guys.
And old good times.
And I HATE war.

Don't mean to romanticize it.
It's ugly and mean and shitty and cruel and barbaric.
But these are guys who went when it was truly and honestly a "last resort".
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The Velveteen Ocelot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 07:05 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. You got that right.
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jhain Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 06:59 PM
Response to Original message
10. perfect
my dh does the newsletter for the local EAA chapter.
He is interviewing the remaining WWII vets and doing pieces on them...
This is just so perfect.

These men are utterly amazing to listen to..........
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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-10-06 07:06 PM
Response to Reply #10
13. Bless his heart, and thanks.
We're losing the people and the stories.
I've tried my ass off to get them, and most of the guys still don't want to make themselves sound like heros.

Time and time again I get "The heros are the guys who didn't come back."
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jhain Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-12-06 08:16 AM
Response to Reply #13
14. if I speak to them one on one
these guys are far more likely to tell their stories withOUT an audience...one on one works sometimes...
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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-12-06 06:51 PM
Response to Reply #14
25. True.
We usually have a speaker at our meetings.
Some facet of aviation.
But once in a while we just say "OK, who has a story to tell?"

It's quiet for a few minutes, and then somebod...finally...reluctantly, will stand up and say "Well, alright...let me tell you about the time I (we)..."

Those are the best times.
Amongst their own, the guys open up.
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oneighty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-12-06 11:35 AM
Response to Original message
15. Time is heavy on your shoulders
Mr. Trof. (((((((((((hug))))))))))

Aye tear her tattered ensign down
Set every threadbare sail
And give her to the God of storms
The lightning and the gale.

Unblushing borrowed from 'Old Iron Sides'

But I often think it a fitting end for those of us that have ventured forth and won over fear and death.

I have been to my last reunion. There is one coming up this month and one again in May. If only. Huh?

Nice poem Trof.

Ed
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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-12-06 06:29 PM
Response to Reply #15
19. I think it gets lighter now.
And one begins to actually the perspective as much as the memory.
I'm sorry you've been to your last reunion.
Really?
Try, man.
Try.

Be well, Old Man.
:toast:
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JitterbugPerfume Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-12-06 11:46 AM
Response to Original message
16. Keep on spinning your tales , trof
some of us love them :hi:
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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-12-06 06:25 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. Thanks, Jit.
You're my best fan.
OK, you and 180.
:pals:
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JitterbugPerfume Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-12-06 06:27 PM
Response to Reply #17
18. yes
we is
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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-12-06 06:33 PM
Response to Reply #18
20. Something about you I've always wondered...
what does Jitterbug Perfume smell like?
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oneighty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-12-06 06:44 PM
Response to Reply #20
22. Smell good enough to cover
the stink of the God Pan for which it was formulated. Ain't that right Jitterbug.

180
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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-12-06 06:57 PM
Response to Reply #22
27. You are toooo knowledgeable.
An' that's a fact.
;-)
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oneighty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-12-06 07:26 PM
Response to Reply #27
29. Robbins
Edited on Sun Mar-12-06 08:00 PM by oneighty
JitterbugPerfume is very entertaining read. Robbins has a most interesting outlook on things which might even cause the God Pan to throw down his pipes and roll laughing on the ground as he fades into and out of sight of mankind due to the lack of interest only to re-appear solid and stinking worser then he ever did before.

The 'boof' of the beet based perfume provides his path into the future and salvation in the new world.

hahahahaha. boof what a funny word.

If you do not believe me read the book.

Ed

PS Frog march has a very nice 'Pan' story (Winter song) in writing group-check it out.
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JitterbugPerfume Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-12-06 06:49 PM
Response to Reply #20
23. smells like Jasmine
with an undertone of something----- something elusive




why are beets being found all over the place in NewOrleans , Seattle and Paris?



read the book , find out the secret
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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-12-06 06:53 PM
Response to Reply #23
26. I like Jasmine. We have it growing here. Beets?
Clue me in.
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JitterbugPerfume Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-12-06 07:08 PM
Response to Reply #26
28.  a blue botttle is found
containing a few drops of perfume . The bottle is ancient and the perfume is unique .It is jasmine with an undertone of something that can not be identified ---Identifying this elusive ingredient is the mystery that has to be solved if Pan is to be saved ( hint-- beet pollen)
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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-12-06 06:40 PM
Response to Reply #18
21. Let me rephrase that question.
What is the fragrance of Jitterbug Perfume?
There...that sound better and is what I meant to ask.
:-)
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JitterbugPerfume Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-12-06 06:50 PM
Response to Reply #21
24. LOL
Edited on Sun Mar-12-06 06:59 PM by JitterbugPerfume
:evilgrin:


JitterbugPerfume by Tom Robbins ---a really cool book
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