My father was a quiet man. I had known that he was in the war (WWII) in England, but not much beyond that. My father was in aircraft maintenance – bombsights actually. How exciting could that be?
One day, he told me about one job that he and his team had done. It was customary for the maintenance crew to fly with the pilot on the plane’s first trip. I guess the thought was that if you knew you were going to fly in it, you would do a better job on repairing it.
It was a beautiful late spring Tuesday, without a cloud in the sky when they took off. The pilot, being a bit full of himself, performed a number of maneuvers in a futile attempt to make the maintenance crew sick. Those maneuvers took them out over the white cliffs of Dover.
It was then the “normal” became “abnormal”. The plane started taking on anti-aircraft fire. Shells were erupting on every side shaking the craft violently with each near miss.
The pilot, who had been operating without radio, switched it on. Apparently, they had stumbled upon a secret military operation and had been mistaken for a German bomber. Needless to say, they returned to base where the actual flight crew was waiting.
it was June 6, 1944. D-Day.
This was the closest my father ever came to combat, but it underlines this observation.
It takes a lot of people to win a war.
So, on this Veterans’ Day, let us not only remember that army that bravely fought and fights around the world. Let us also remember the other army of men and women that support them, that make their impossible job possible. Finally, let us also remember the third “army” of men, women, and children who pray and wait for their loved ones to return.