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Sunday, May 25, 2008

God Bless 'em All

My friend Lt. Colonel Joseph Narlo flew one of these into jungle strips in Vietnam. He said you'd hear this popping like hail on a tin roof and holes would appear in the floor of the plane as you were coming in for a landing. He never told his wife about that, but during his later years when he was dying he told me a lot of stories about his time in the Air Force.


High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee
No 412 squadron, RCAF
Killed 11 December 1941


I missed entering service because I turned 18 during the draw down after Vietnam and I can't see worth a flip without my coke bottle glasses I used to wear, so they didn't much need me. I've always appreciated the folks who did serve. My wife and I ran a day program for older folks who were in failing health and couldn't be left home alone, but their families didn't want to put them in nursing homes. It was a privilege to serve these folks. We had Air Force guys, paratroopers who were at the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne, submariners who went up against Japanese fleets when their torpedoes were duds about 3/4's of the time. We had guys that flew astronauts around and guys that were test pilots and crews. One guy served in the destroyer shield between the battleships and the shore at Normandy, Anzio and North Africa. We even had women who worked as Rosie the Riveters in P-38 plants in California and in B-24 plants in Ft. Worth. We helped them record their stories and helped put up museum exhibits of their memorabilia.

I couldn't serve myself, but I could offer exceptional care for our heroic men and women as they faced aging with dignity and the courage they showed when they took up arms and tools in defense of our nation. We owe them nothing less than the best we can give. Even though our center was closed because the church was afraid of the insurance risk, we still do our best for them as advocates for better care and treatment of our vets. I spent $35,000 of my own money keeping the place open in a temporary location as long as we could so our little group wouldn't have to go to nursing homes. God laid most of them to rest in those last months and we were able to shut down and no one went to nursing homes. It was the saddest thing I've ever been through. We loved those guys. My wife suffered severe depression for two years partially as a result of losing the center and her beloved soldiers.

"God bless 'em all!", but especially,

Lt. Col. Joseph Narlo, Airman Joe Tolbert, SSgt. Bill Mathew, Seaman 2nd Class Don Peterson, Sgt. Edward Moore, Lt. Bill Tillery, Seaman 1st Class James Callanan and the dozens of others who were our friends.


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