Sheriff Mike greeted us last night with a package from the south from Aunt Superwoman.
Today, feeling up to it, I decided to take a gander. I found myself soaking up my Uncle Paul's memories and somewhat smirking to myself at his humor, which must be from the Irish-German side. His is identical to mine, however, mine might be a little more on the crude side as he had manners.
He served in the Air Force and fought in Vietnam. Not only that he became a Nimrod, flying exclusively at night in secret. Not only that, but among his greatest triumphs, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Not only that, but I could list his accomplishments which would take up miles.
He was a humble man.
Instead, I want to share some of the more tender things that no one knows...
For instance, he wrote a book and the first sentence tells a story about Uncle Paul which would follow him all of his life and his love for flying. It reads, "Apparently, I had a long harbored and hidden desire to fly an airplane I had never seen except in pictures, and about which I knew little." He wrote that. It truly spoke clearly of his heart and from his heart. I know it was a strong love for planes, not just a kiddie pipe dream. It was more than that.
He was talking about the B-26, renamed in 1964, but originally had been the Douglas A-26 Invader until the 1940's. Uncle Paul was a Nimrod.
Just like a Marschalk, anything head first and full throttle. Nothing to stand in the way. Fall down, get back up. Get knocked down, get back up and fight back. Forward march? All feet in action.
All of us are funny, stubborn, and bull-headed. I can name them all.
Humor in my family, you say? It's hereditary, you don't say? Stuck inside Uncle Paul's book manuscript, which is crudely typed with his scribbles in the margins, I found this...
Chorus: F-4, F-4 Fly So Fast
Can't See Shit, Can't Hit Your Ass
Why the hell do you fly at night
And give Us all a fright?
The other night I worked with nail
F-4 showed up without fail
Though they are without a word
Came so close I loosed a turd.
The flares are out, the sky is lit
F-4 showed up without fail
The trucks are down there to be hit,
Comes the F-4 out of gas.
Candle tells me, "Okay, Nim",
F-4's low gotta put him in,
Pull off twenty miles and stay
And I'll go thirty the other way.
F-4 Flight they see their mark,
Cleared in hot they make their start,
Down the chute one pass and go
Candle tells them RNO.
Ten minutes later back over the trail,
Candle looks but to no avail,
"Sorry Nim, but I can't see
All the trucks are in the trees."
Sometimes F-4's are OK,
This is mainly in the day,
To get BDA at night
Keep the bastards out of sight.
And there was the sensitive and proper side to Uncle Paul found in all of us, but I think it shined brighter in him...was the love he felt for his comrades. In his bible, which I take to church, is the message he would read over his fallen comrades during Vietnam...
We are gathered here to honor our fallen comrades. Bless them who have given their duty and their life to protect this country against those who wish to annihilate it and our way of life. Bless them as they fly out west and tell them that down the road, we will fly west and join up on their wings. God bless them. Amen,
Inside his bible was also a letter my father, Robert, had written to grandma and grandpa when he was in the Army from 1952 until his honorable discharge which was over a decade before Uncle Paul served in Vietnam in the Air Force. The letter is post stamped 1953. Dad's handwriting was the same in 1953 as it was when I read his letters to me in college. It was kind of eerie when I first came upon it, but I have read it at least 100 times by now.
Here is some excerpts from the letter which was 3 pages on a pretty ivory parchment paper of high quality..."Amsterdam wasn't much. Saw a few windmills and the harbor. The Dutch are more typical German than the Germans. They're tall and blond haired. I thought the Germans were like that, but they're a mixture of everything...In Paris, I climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower... I haven't checked on what's his name's china yet. That's supposed to be the best china in the world... Listened to Moscow on the radio tonight, they sure are full of it. Their news broadcasts sure run the US down. Well, I guess I better hit the sack. Tell Small Paul hello for me. Love, Bob."
Bob and "Small Paul" were opposite of each other. Dad was 5-9 and thin. Uncle Paul was over 6-0 and medium build. Dad went to boots on the ground in the Army and Paul became a pilot in the Air Force. Dad bought a ranch. Paul bought a home in California in the city. Both owned planes. My dad was also a pilot but gave it up later in the 80's for tractors. Both looked just like their dad, Grandpa Paul. I guess I should say Dad had some of Grandma Yvonne's features, but Uncle Paul was a striking image of his father.
Later in life, Uncle Paul looked a lot like dad had before he passed away and it was evidently so when he walked into the Farson gymnasium for my brother's high school graduation. Like I said, my father had passed away by then and it was hard for all those "firsts" that your father doesn't get to attend because of death. Uncle Paul came for Alex in memory of dad. It was a very kind gesture, just like Uncle Paul style. I was soon surrounded by whispering Farsonites telling me it was like there was a ghost in the gym, that "Paul looked just like Bob." There were long stares.
I guess I have comfort in knowing that all of them are together as a family, probably bickering about politics and telling Grandpa Paul they don't want to hear about sports. Grandma Yvonne is probably just watching by, shaking her head, dressed to the nine's.