Thursday, August 25, 2005

My Dad Was Shot Down In Combat

My dad was shot down in combat. This happened years before I was born and he doesn't talk about it much, but the story has gotten some traction in the press so I know quite a bit about it.

It was off a Japanese-held island, and fortunately my dad managed to keep his plane together long enough to get over the ocean and bail out. He was the only survivor. None of his crew were ever even found. No burials at sea. No closure. He was the pilot and, of course, he feels some responsibility even though he knows there was nothing more he could have done. How he survived is something that only God can explain.

Again, dad doesn't talk about it much.

Recently a book has been written about what happened to aviators who flew with my dad that didn't make it "feet wet" as they now call it. They went down into enemy-held jungle, and were all horribly tortured to death.

I've thought about my father being captured and tortured to death. How couldn't I have those thoughts?

And, yes, in case you were wondering, I'm not actually talking about MY father. I'm talking about the current president, George Walker Bush, and HIS father, George Herbert Walker Bush.

Not a word I write here isn't true, except for the perspective. It's not me who almost lost his dad in combat; it's the president.

Cindy Sheehan lost her son in combat, and that is an anguish that I can't relate to. But I haven't read Bradley's latest book, "Flyboy's," and stayed up at night considering how close my own dad came to being dismembered alive. GW Bush has.

And I imagine Barbara Bush, his mother, hasn't had an easy go of it. First her young husband is shot down over the Pacific and comes *this* close to either being tortured to death, eaten by sharks, or left to die of exposure and thirst in a life raft. Then her son, like his dad, becomes a military pilot, an inherently hazardous thing to do (particularly in the F-102, which was a very unforgiving aircraft).

No sleepless nights, there...

As Cindy Sheehan leads the charge about how unfeeling George W. Bush is, perhaps someone in the press should remind everybody of just how personal military service and sacrifice is to that family. I don't think it's possible for them, of all people, to send young men and women into combat without respecting exactly what that means.


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