Non veni pacem mittere, sed gladium.
While waiting for a table at a restaurant, I stuck up a conversation with an elderly gentleman, who was accompanied by his wife. He wore a blue ball cap with the USAF logo which commemorated the 65th anniversary of it's founding. Since I was in the Air Force also, my curiosity was peaked.Me: So, how long were you in?Him: Four years.Me: When did you serve?Him: Got out in 45.Me: WOW! (shakes his hand) What did you do?Him: Well, I flew planes.Me: Well, there were a lot of different aircraft then. What kind?Him: Fighters.Me: Which particular one?Him: P-51s.Me: WOW! (again) I understand that plane was quite a handful to control.Him: It was alright.Me: What theater were you part of?Him: Pacific. Flew from Iwo Jima.At this point, I'm dumbstruck! All of his answers to my inquiry's was from a very modest position. He was flying escort for B-29s to Japan. That was a long haul in a tight cockpit.And then he was called for his table and my new found friend left the waiting area. I later was called for my table and I went to sit down and order. While I was eating, I was hit with an idea. I spoke with the manager and related what just transpired. I told him what the fellow's attire looked like, because I wished to pick up his tab. He said he would locate the man and he would acquire the bill from his server. Once this was accomplished, I let the manager know that if he protests the bill being taken care of or wants to know who did it, for him to tell the gentleman that it was paid for by a Grateful Nation! I finished eating and proceeded to pay the for the meals at the cash register. Before I left the manager came to me and told me that the couple were almost in tears. And I never got the gentleman's name but, for all I know, he might just be in that picture!
Well done bayouwulf! The opportunity to thank those veterans is fast disappearing.
Well done indeed. I read somewhere that those missions could be 8 hours and more. See those wing tanks? The ground crews took some and split them length-wise to make bath tubs. Then they piped water from the hot springs to them so the pilots could soak out the kinks after those long missions.