I miss you today!
I missed you yesterday!
I shall miss you tomorrow!
I appreciate all that you have done to preserve a very special part of WWII, with the B-29 and all airmen attached thereto!
I sit at my computer today, October 12, 2006, and reflect upon that time when B-29's filled the skies over the Pacific Ocean, going to and coming from, missions over Japan. We both know that many B-29's and many crews never made it back to their home base. It is for these men, and those planes, that my heart aches... even after sixty-one years. Strange it is, how we can go back in time with our memories and it is like WWII all over again.
I can hear the sounds of jeeps and planes being started, with the 3500 engines first cough and then, one by one, all four are running setting forth a rhythm which no airman can ever forget. As they taxi to their assigned runways, or to a single one runway . . . there is the expectation that we shall see them landing again at their same base, with all bombs having fallen on some enemy city, and many men tired of the long flight home . . . but joyful that fuel is still sufficient and all engines are singing a song of “Homeward Bound” . . . while the individual crew-members are thinking of the sweetheart back home who waits for that blessed day when WWII will finally be over and marriage vows can become a reality, and not just another dream.
The crew-members can hear Kate Smith sing “God Bless America” via of their memories and feel that warm and cozy feeling that comes from future peace and tranquility; that peace which floods the soul with the smell of home, and the fragrance of a perfume which their sweethearts wore on their last date State-side!
The rattle of fifty caliber machine guns shut down the memories of the past and awaken the gunners and all to the reality that enemy planes are out and about and they desire with utter hatred, to ram a B-29 and thus give their lives for the Emperor, as such a Japanese pilot did to Bob Copeland's B-29 over Kobe,
Japan on the night of March 17 (or was it 19), 1945, when Lewiston, Idaho lost a favorite son, and Bill Copeland lost an uncle! There are times when hope must give way to reality, for the books of history.
Part of me will ever live in the parameters of WWII, for it takes me back by “The Mares of the Night” to the many scenes which one would choose to forget. Not only does it take me back, but it takes thousands of other war veterans back for I have met many of them while waiting for our names to be called in some VA Hospitals across this great land.
There is a camaraderie yet today among veterans of that time and place when we speak of those long-ago days when we were far from home.
Yes, we have grown older; we are in our gray. But we refuse not to remember our friends who paid the supreme sacrifice for a simple element known as Freedom. Freedom is a poignant word painted red with the blood of dying men who fell from the skies long ago over an Ocean which has forever kept their secret prayers hidden in her bosom.
Do not take from us our memories of a time when a war had to be won. We like to speak the English language, salute the American Flag, and stand at attention, remembering when Freedom was in the balance, being weighed by those whom we fought against.
To me, Freedom is America! Though an octogenarian, my heart and spirit are yet young for I am an American!
By C. Douglas Caffey
C. Douglas Caffey is a disabled veteran of WWII. He served (1944-1946) in the 509th Composite Bomb Group, 58th Wing, Air Photo Unit, 20th Air Force, United States Army Air Force. It was the 509th who dropped the atomic bombs on Japan and did the atom bomb tests at Bikini in the Pacific. A chronic sufferer of PTSD since WWII, Doug is a former college dean. He started writing poetry several years ago and though he doesn't claim to be a poet, he does claim to write from the heart.
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