Andrea Langworthy's column: A hero among us
A friend of mine once told me she thinks I am addicted to "the stories." Not soap operas or a book of short pieces by Hemingway but the narratives of people's lives.
Are you like me? Do you sit in a coffee shop or walk down the street and wonder what the deal is with the teary-eyed woman staring out the window or the man rushing past you so fast he almost spins you around?
Everybody has a story, don't you think?
Just the other day, I received an email from my brother. He told me a friend of our father is being honored for his service during World War II. The man, whose nickname is Buzz, served in Guam and was injured.
According to my brother, Buzz now lives in Wisconsin near his son. Later this month, the two will be on a chartered Freedom Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. along with other World War II veterans from his area. On the flight home there will be an "old-fashioned mail call" similar to those done in the service back then.
My brother filled me in on an email he received from Buzz's son telling him about the mail call and letting him know that friends may send a letter thanking Buzz for his service to our country.
I've known Buzz for at least 30 years. Even before I met him, I'd heard my father mention his name. Buzz was in the insurance business and Dad, before he graduated from law school, had a claims adjusting business. No one ever told me this is how they came to be such good friends. I just assumed it.
I sent an email to Buzz's son, eager to learn more about his father's story. I learned Buzz was in the Navy for nearly three years. The Morristown native was stationed in Virginia and Hawaii and was part of the 1944 invasion of Guam where he was shot in the foot by a sniper.
According to his son, Buzz, "Was in a B-29 bomber that flew over Tokyo Bay when Japan surrendered on the Missouri, one of the many planes in the formation at the signing."
When Buzz and his son visit our nation's capitol, they'll spend several hours at the World War II Memorial, and visit other D.C. landmarks dedicated to those who served in Vietnam and Korea. As time permits, they'll see the Lincoln Memorial, Marine Corps War Memorial and others.
I have my card ready to send so Buzz can receive it during the mail call on his return flight from Washington. I thanked him for his service to our country. For being a true and loyal friend to my father. I told him of my plan to call him some time after his return. There's still so much I want to know about him, one of the greatest of what has come to be known as The Greatest Generation.
To learn more about the Honor Flight Network, a national organization which also serves Minnesota veterans, please go to www.honorflight.org. As the website states, "Tours are simply not possible without public support. Prior to Honor Flight Network, our veterans had given up all hope of ever seeing their Memorials. Now they have hope ... but time is not on our side. The time to act is now! In another 5-7 years almost all of our World War II veterans will be gone. This tour is their 'last hurrah' — the last time they will be recognized as the conquering victors that collectively and literally saved the world."