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calendar   Sunday - April 03, 2011

another veteran of the second war passes away. this time it’s close and personal.

The net is truly a wondrous place. Where else can you go and make the acquaintance of someone, in this case a guy named Vilmar, and through a few twists and turns of a conversation that did not start out as a search for any of your relatives, discover that your uncle, who you had been sadly out of touch with for too many years, had passed away only four months ago at the age of 90.

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I have little family left anywhere and what I might have I am not aware of and don’t want to know. But my uncle was very different. I don’t think I was very high on his list of important ppl to know.  Nothing to do with snobbery, just different generations and also he knew me at a time in my life when I was not very responsible and surely a disappointment to almost all.  Nevertheless, he was the first real influence in my early youth, and I remember him when we all lived together.  Grandparents, mom and uncle. This was before he went into the Army Air Force as it was then.

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I suppose if it had not been for Vilmar, ten years from now I would have just assumed my uncle was still alive because he was indestructible. So therefore, no need to try and reach out.  Wrong, as it has turned out.

As I told Vilmar, my uncle’s work ethic made no allowance for illness. His attitude was you could be excused only if you died, but must then return to work right after your own funeral.  I believe he got that from my granddad who passed it on to his offspring.

My uncle was a navigator on this plane. I was aboard as a child before the paint and transfer of my uncle to England. I visited him with my mother when he was stationed in San Antonio during war yrs. 
Originally, the girl on the plane had no pants, and it was politely suggested that some be painted on her. Today, she’d be in a bikini. Maybe.
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The plane was badly damaged in a raid, and my uncle was wounded by flak.  The electrical connection that provided heat to the gloves was severed, and he carried the scar forever on one hand.  The plane crash landed in a Brit farm field, and he told the story of a farmer running at the downed plane with a pitch fork till he realized it was American.  The family was very happy he was wounded because the crew had already been issued with machetes in anticipation of their transfer to the Pacific theater. In fact, he brought the machete home with him. Also, I got his ear phones with that big plug and it said US Army Signal Corps, and I used those when as an adult I went into radio as a DJ.  I had them up to about 7 years ago

I once had a photo of he and his crew and it adorned my dresser all through my boyhood and right into adulthood.  Somehow, that photo has been lost. We moved so darn many times I’m not surprised it got separated from me. I don’t even have a clue as to the year it was taken or exactly what year he flew.  It could be my own bad memory but, as I recall the photo, the girl on the nose art was better then the one shown here, and I don’t recall seeing any flak bursts painted around her on my photo.
He received the Purple Heart, The Distinguished Flying Cross with Three Oak Leaf Clusters, and the European Air Service Medal. He
participated in the D-Day invasion and at war’s end became a training instructor until his discharge.
He flew in 33 missions. Born Feb. 14, 1920: Died Nov. 28, 2010, peacefully at home.

This has been cross posted at ANTZINPANTZ


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 04/03/2011 at 10:26 AM   
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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
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  2. Stay involved with government on every level and don't let those bastards get away with a thing
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It's been a long strange trip without you Skipper, but thanks for pointing us in the right direction and giving us a swift kick in the behind to get us going. Keep lookin' down on us, will ya? Thanks.

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Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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