Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Forever Yours, Dick ...
My Uncle Dick, a retired United States Air Force Colonel, was buried here at Mount Hope Cemetery on Monday. When I read in his Obituary that the Honor Guard from Elsworth Air Force Base would participate in his graveside service I knew it was important to us as a Family. What I didn't know was just how important my Uncle Dick was to the USA.
My cousins, Kathy and Doug, decided on circle seating which included Dick's coffin and family friend, Pastor Steve. Kathy opened with a story of her Father skipping out on his farm chores to sit out on The Prairie, and how he decided to be a Bus Driver after a Greyhound went by. We went on to sing, share stories, laugh, and cry. My Mother said that one could not ask Dick the time of day without hearing how his watch was made. I spoke of our shared love of Photography and his sense of class in everything he did, including the measurement of the trunks of all of our cars and the suitcases that had to fit inside after road trips to Dayton, Ohio had come to an end. Ron mentioned the model planes displayed in his office that he had made of each of the 54 planes he had flown during World War II.
Kathy read a letter written to my Grandmother by Dick's Commanding Major General when it appeared Dick would complete rigid training and win his wings. He wrote that it took an "inherent something" to fly for the Air Force, and that in addition to precision, "daring and coolness" would be a major factor in the success of the entire war effort. Dick went on to fly dangerous missions over Europe. He flew the President of South Korea to President Kennedy's funeral, and took President Nixon somewhere he couldn't talk about. When we grilled him as both children and adults on the Air Force's UFO files he would smile, say he didn't know a thing, then cast a grin that said he did.
When we arrived at Mount Hope the Honor Guard was positioned for their detail, a precision march and pall bearing sequence, to the back of the herse where upon opening the door, the Corporal Lead Guard said "He is ours now". After bringing him to the open gravesite, the six men performed the flag fold and a three volley rifle salute. A lone bugler played the perfect Taps and the flag was then presented to Kathy by the Lead Guard who said, "On behalf of the President of The United States and a grateful nation I wish to present you with this flag in appreciation for your Father's service". I've heard this statement many times but it seemed I was hearing it for the first time.
War is out there. Too many reasons prompt power hungry nations and greedy people to fight. As today's War takes on a smoke screen posture of dying down, other issues gain momentum that will likely lead to destruction and death. I know I would feel much safer if my Uncle Dick was still in the air. May he rest in peace, Forever Ours.