Friday, June 6, 2014

~ d-day ~

Today we remember June 6th, 1944 and the men and women who fought for the cause.  Today I remember both my maternal grandfather and my paternal grandfather, who both fought in the war.  I also remember a very special day two years ago when we (my mom and aunt) took my grandfather Pop to see WWII planes at the airport.  It was an emotional day for all of us and one of his last outings.

{Captain Isadore Schneider}

{in the jungles of the Philippines - 1943}

Pop was a Captain in the Air Force and fought in the Philippians.  He flew through hurricanes, mountain peaks, and flew blind.  Being 25 years old, he was considered the "old man" among the teenagers, but if I knew him at all, he definitely held his own when it came to joke telling and prank playing.

Here's the story that I only heard him tell once, but that has stuck with me and with everyone who hears it.  Written by my mom.

"In the summer of 1943 my dad had to fly his C-47 cargo plane from Zamboanga in the south to Luzon in the north. Part of the way there he was trapped inside a massive hurricane and was blown off course. He knew that he would not be able to fly through the storm and make it back to Luzon without running out of fuel so he decided to bring the plane in at Manilla. The problem - to make the landing strip there he would have to fly his plane between two mountain peaks south of the runway, while being buffeted by hurricane-force winds and flying completely blind. For the next 60-something years, he still wasn't sure how he managed to make it in between the two mountains but he did, blowing out a tire during the rough landing. He taxied the plane to safety and sat for minute or two, in wonder that he'd made it through the storm, between the mountains, past the blown tire. He then glanced at the fuel gauges. Both were sitting on empty. I only heard my dad tell this story maybe three times in my life - the last time in his late 80s when Eliza interviewed him for a history project on WWII. He still wiped away tears as he told it. So many memories, so many close brushes with death. He was one of the fortunate ones who lived to come home to his family and friends. Remembering, this weekend, both those who didn't return and those war heroes (whether they consider themselves heroes or not) who came home with a lifetime of daily demons to wrestle."

It was a wonderful day.  

I miss Pop so much and think about him everyday.  I don't know where he was or what he was doing on D-Day but I know it's a day that he never forgot.  

Towards the end of his life he suffered from dementia, but the one subject he could always talk about was flying.

So, thank you to the men and women and the many members of my family who sacrificed so much for our country.  You are all so loved.

{Pop, second from the left, with fellow pilots at Shaw Field, SC - 1942}


P.S. Here's a recording of Benedict Cumberbatch reading the 8am news broadcast from D-Day and Toby Jones reading the 9pm broadcast.  They're chilling.

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