I spent last evening at my mom’s going through some of my dad’s things. We looked at his old report cards, and autograph book from his school days, a hat I had seen him wear in a picture when he was about 2, a New Testament Bible given to him in the service, his Army Air Force uniforms, and a some miscellaneous other things. It has been 3 1/2 years since my dad went home to be with the Lord. This was hard in many ways, but it was time to do it.
One of the most precious things we came across, was the letters my dad wrote home to his mom during World War II. It looks like she must have kept every one of them, and they are neatly tied together in a bundle, so they would be safe through the years. What a treasure!! Dad was always the kind of person who would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. He talked to his mom about the money he sent home to the family every paycheck, and the fact that since he didn’t need much money, he was going to be buying a war bond each paycheck too, and would be sending that home to go toward a savings for his future. He said that he figured he could have a nice nest egg by the time he came home by doing that. Then he told his mom that if she found that she needed money, she was suppose to use those bonds, “even if she used them all, because he expected that there would be plenty of ways to make money after the war, if a fellow was willing to work” so he would be just fine. It was so important to him that his mom and family at home were ok. That is how my dad always was. He always put others first, especially his family, even if it meant working extra hours or a second job.
Dad tried to reassure his mom that he would come home safely. He spoke of the brand new plane, a brand new B-17 Bomber, that had been assigned to him and his crew. You could hear the excitement in the words he had written, as if he has spoken them to you himself. The plane flew “so smoothly” and “you can see why they call it the flying fortress” were the words he used to describe the new plane. He loved the beautiful new plane, but at the same time, he was well aware of what he was going to be flying into. He had hoped for a furlough before he was sent overseas, but it was not to be, and he didn’t know where he was to be stationed yet, but he didn’t want his mom to worry about it. He was flying off into an uncertain future, and not sure of his return, and yet his concern was for his mom and her feelings. That was just how he was. He assured her in a determined tone, that he would “return home in the same condition as he left” and would be protected in the plane that was built to be the “dread of the airways” during the war and because God would watch over him to bring him home; and so He did.
My dad would spend the rest of the war stationed in Great Ashfield, Suffolk, England, and would serve many successful missions in the plane that he was so pleased with. He would be decorated for his success in shooting down enemy planes and for successful air cover, including covering the storming of the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. He had many adventures during that time, but from his letters, it was clear that his heart was always yearning for home and his family.