For the next few weeks I am taking time off from driving for Lyft. Simply, about three weeks ago Mary Kay and I said to each other “We might need to relocate”. This was pretty much a spontaneous moment which usually means “something bigger than me is trying to tell me something”. We have loved living in our loft condo at Washington Park. If you would have told me that we would leave this place for the burbs I would have laughed. The reasons are unimportant but the reality is, as my friend Jim said, “Hell would be moving every week for eternity”. The movers came Thursday and most of our ‘stuff’ is in a pod. On November 30 we move into our ranch patio home in Arvada. It is a very easy drive from there to Greeley First Christian Church where I find I am enjoying myself more and more. Leaving this place feels both right and painful, sort of like breaking up but still deeply caring and grateful for the memories.
Having laid that groundwork I am going to write for the next seven weeks about things near to my heart ❤️. Today I am writing about:
My dad Bill died in the year 2000. I was 51 years old and it was probably only in the last few years of his life, that I began to comprehend what that man in the uniform that you see on this page, might have experienced. I will never forget sitting with him on the 50th anniversary of the Normandy invasion on June 6, 1994. He spoke the names of some glider pilots – he had trained at a glider pilot base where he was an instructor pilot, at Alliance, Nebraska.
Let me give you very brief description a Army Air Corps glider. They were made out of plywood and canvas. They were very big. One glider would carry 13 troops and a half track machine gun tank. They were towed up in waves by C-47 transport planes. They were then cut loose to go find a place to land somewhere in France. One fourth of all the glider pilots that came in on the first wave of the D-day invasion were killed in the first 24 hours.
Two of his good friends who were in that first wave of pilots were buddies from Colorado. One was a man named John Ballentyne of Pueblo, and the other a man named Carmel Lopez, of Alamosa. My dad did not know until they all returned in late 1945, that these three Southern Colorado boys had survived.
My dad and I got together one day just a few months before he died. I enquired, “How many glider flights did you make”? This question came after he told me that they would often take them up at night when they were practicing and drop them off in the moonlight over the cornfields of Nebraska, and then they had to go find a place to land. I made the silly assumption that maybe he had done this 80 or 100 times. He answered me “Somewhere around 550. I then asked him, “What did you do after you got to France or were no longer flying your glider?” “I became a copilot on a C-47 transport plane. We would fly supplies up to the front line “. I asked him “Did you ever get shot at”? “Everyday” “What cargo did you carry”? “We took most everything up there, munitions, gasoline, food. We flew bodies back sometimes. Mark, I just did my job. The heroes never came home. I got to come back to Colorado. I met your Mom. I have had a great life”.
Well Dad, and all you veterans past and present – thanks for the life you have given me, I am trying to use it gratefully… oh yes, next week: Thanksgiving.
Onward and Upward,