Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day: Thanks to Those Who Served and Serve

I'm currently reading Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, the moving story of Louis Zamperini's harrowing life as a B-24 bombardier during World War II and his miraculous survival after weeks adrift in a rubber raft in the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, followed by months of brutal existence and torture in Japanese POW camps. (A #1 New York Times bestseller by Laura Hillenbrand, the author of Seabiscuit.) Reading about what these flight crews went through makes it seem a miracle that any survived. I just finished reading about how Zamperini's B-24, after a bombing run over a Japanese held island in the south Pacific, limped home with most of the eight-man crew shot up, the plane barely flyable having been ripped to shreds by Japanese Zeros and anti-aircraft fire from below. When they finally landed (with no brakes or hydraulics after 16 hours in the air), the ground crew counted 594 bullet and flak holes in the body of the plane!

On this Memorial Day I was reminded afresh of the sacrifice made by so many in wars past and present. When fanatics like Hitler and Hirohito come on the world stage, something must be done. I'm thankful for those who served and sacrificed then and do so today—and the spouses who kept the home fires burning in their loved ones' absence.

My father was one of those World War II pilots, one of the few to be awarded pilots wings from three different air forces: United States, Great Britain, and China. (In the picture below, American wings on his left breast; Royal Air Force on right breast, upper; Chinese wings on right breast lower.)


In this image, Daddy is in the back row, fourth from left. Taken in China where he was training Chinese pilots to fight against the Japanese. My sister still has the leather A-1 flight jacket he's wearing in this picture, and I have the blood chits that were sewn on the inside—messages written in Chinese that would identify American pilots to the Chinese as an ally in case they went down over China, which Daddy did on one occasion, pancaking his P-40 Tomahawk in a rice paddy, but walking away.

29th Fighter Squadron2 Jaded

May the day come soon when men will learn war no more, spears having become pruning hooks and swords made into plowshares (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3).

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