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Kind of Lost a friend this Memorial Day

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by garytelecastor, May 31, 2016.

  1. garytelecastor

    garytelecastor Poster Extraordinaire

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    As a lot of you guys and gals know, my father was in the Aleutians during WW2 for the whole campaign and then was switched to intelligence.
    I have posted some of the experiences that he had there earlier on the site. I found out today that a friend of mine and my stepson's passed away.
    James was an amazing man. He was kind, considerate, helpful, loyal, and all around a caring good individual. He told me this story one time and I feel it's something he wouldn't mind me sharing.
    James was an African American. When he was still a baby his birth mother gave him up for adoption, and he apparently was raised by a very loving woman, and a very unloving father. So as soon as he could, to avoid the abuse, he left the house and enlisted in the army. He had always wanted to fly and so he joined the Air Corp. Jim had a very light complexion and so when they did his physical they listed him as being white. He said that all he wanted to do was fly. So they put him in a fighter plane and gave him the job of running escort for the bombers.
    So he left the carrier he was on and landed at one of the islands in the South Pacific. He had 4 buddies that each flew to the base with him, and they were given their bunking assignments. Fortunately for them the tents were set up to hold 4 fliers in each of them. So they all stowed their gear and then Jim and one of the other guys said they were going to go get some chow. The other two guys said that they hadn't slept the night before due to rough seas and they were going to get some sleep. So Jim and his partner went to eat. About an hour later they came back to the tent and both of their other 2 friends had their throats slit. The Japanese had come in during chow because they knew that there would be less people and they went from tent to tent. He told me it was at that time he officially felt like he was in the war.
    James was a great pilot. In addition to his medals he received promotions. He did tell me that he was shot down twice. The first time on the way back from a bombing run and the second on the way in. He told me of the feeling he had the first time, something like, "So this is what being shot down is like,....hmmm interesting". He was picked up and went back to work. It was later that he was flying a bombing run and the fog was so bad they got lost. So he and the co-pilot decided to just follow their hunch and about 30 minutes before running out of fuel they were able to find a strip on an island that held about a platoon of guys who fueled and repaired planes. So James finally got in touch with his superior and they were told to stay put. He said that the island was filled with coconut crabs during mating. The crabs would live on one side of the island and mate on the other. He said that when they landed they heard all of this crunching and they thought something was wrong with the plane. He also said that when they would drive down the roads all they heard was crunching as they drove over these crabs, and when the mating season was over, of course they had to go out and clean up the dead ones because of the smell.
    Jim left the army in 45 and went to work in the airline industry, and then he was approached by the FAA to run one of the new Air traffic controllers schools being set up and he finished his career there.
    I think for me, the greatest thing about Jim was that he was one of, if not the first, black pilots in the army and certainly the first to ever fly in combat. Though he always played it down. He was also the first black pilot to run the schools after he got that job.
    Jim was an amazing man. Incredibly intelligent, very personable, and giving. He will be missed, but not by the crabs.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2016
  2. udimet720

    udimet720 Tele-Holic

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    Thanks for sharing about James. Sounds like a great man. Your post is a great way to honor him on Memorial Day. Sorry for your loss.
     
  3. Big_Bend

    Big_Bend Poster Extraordinaire

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    Thanks for letting us know about James... another true hero who's service can never be repaid. I've always appreciated the stories about your father too.

    Sounds like James had a hell of a life, well done. RIP James
     
  4. Boubou

    Boubou Doctor of Teleocity

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    Thanks for sharing
     
  5. thunderbyrd

    thunderbyrd Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    He sounds like a fine, fine man. and we are much the lesser for his absence. RIP
     
  6. Stubee

    Stubee Doctor of Teleocity Gold Supporter

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    Sounds like a good man. Sorry for your loss of a friend but thanks for sharing.
     
  7. 4 Cat Slim

    4 Cat Slim Friend of Leo's

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    Good story about a good man.
    Condolences...
     
  8. Toto'sDad

    Toto'sDad Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Interesting story to say the least. I've known a couple of world war II pilots one a fighter pilot having flown 51s and finally the P-38. The other was a bomber pilot, both became successful men in their own fields after the war. Both were all business and as can be pretty easily deduced tough as nails. Both men commanded respect without ever having to say a word. There is something different about people from that era and sadly most of them are now gone.
     
  9. Stringbanger

    Stringbanger Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Great story! Thanks for that. I'm sorry for the loss of your friend.
     
  10. Mechanic

    Mechanic Friend of Leo's

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    RIP James and thank you for your service.
     
  11. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    very sorry to hear of you losing some one so close, My condolences.
     
  12. LeftyAl

    LeftyAl Friend of Leo's

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    thanks for sharing that story here.Very interesting.Sorry for your loss
     
  13. Blue Bill

    Blue Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Sorry for your loss; sounds like you were lucky to have him in your life.
     
  14. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    I love these guys.
     
  15. teletubby25

    teletubby25 Tele-Meister

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    Another one of the "Greatest Generation" , may he rest in peace.
     
  16. 63dot

    63dot Friend of Leo's

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    People like him are why we have freedom!
     
  17. garytelecastor

    garytelecastor Poster Extraordinaire

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    I forgot a couple of things that I was going to add to James story. When he landed on the island with the crabs he and his crew were assigned to a couple of tents in the main bivouac area. He said that all the tents were up on platforms about 4 feet high, and the steps were retractable. The first night he went to sleep just to relax from their flight that afternoon. Then at 5 am he and his team heard all of these guns going off. Naturally Jim thought that they were under attack so he grabbed his rifle and stepped out of the tent. He started laughing, and said that all he saw were a bunch of guys standing on the platforms in their skivvies shooting down to the dirt right by them. Later he asked one of the guys stationed there what is was all about. The guy said, "So, we have a little trouble with Salt Crocs. They follow the crabs and when the sun goes down they get really cold out in the water. So at night they make there way up shore to the tents here and sleep under the tents to keep warm. In the morning we just like to give them a wake-up call and let 'em know it's time to get back to work."
    The other thing which I will never forget is that I got to know Jim while my wife and family was in a little turmoil. My stepson didn't like me at all. Jim picked up on this and he took by son in and kept him on the right line during about 3/4 of a year until my stepson came back home. He didn't ask, he just went to my stepson and said "pack a couple weeks of clothes, you are moving in with me for a while". My son really loved Jim and stayed in touch with him until he left. He said that Jim's wife Velma made the best breakfasts in the world. Jim loved S. and S. loved Jim.
     
  18. garytelecastor

    garytelecastor Poster Extraordinaire

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    Unless some of these kind of men and women show up pretty quick, we aren't going to keep these freedoms.
     
  19. garytelecastor

    garytelecastor Poster Extraordinaire

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    This was the way my Father was. He was very capitulating up to a given point. Then he would get real serious. I saw this about 10 times growing up. He was only about 5'11", but it was funny how people would try to get over on him, and he would let it go so far and then it was "Katy bar the door". He would never raise his voice or get violent, but there was something about his demeanor that said, "This has gone far enough and you need to back off now". As you say hard as nails. When I was a kid he worked at a foundry lifting these 250-300 pound kegs of metal, and when he got home he would take off his shirt and his t-shirt would be orange from the sweat and metal. After he quit that job, for a year, he sweat rust and ruined his shirts and t-shirts. It makes me sad now when I look at the current generation coming up.
     
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  20. Tidepoolbay

    Tidepoolbay Friend of Leo's

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    What a great story!

    Thank you!

    Nice!
     
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