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Location: Montgomery Area, Alabama, United States

Former BUFF driver; self-styled military historian; paid (a lot) to write about beating plowshares into swords; NOT Foamy the Squirrel, contrary to all appearances. Wesleyan Jihadi Name: Sibling Railgun of Reasoned Discourse

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

"I Have To Go Fly..."

His last words were, "I have to get up...I have to go fly."

I have no doubt that he is flying now, in gosport and sweat-stained 'butt-freezer,' solo in the PT-19 again, just like the first time in 1941

Or perhaps he is in a huge formation of AT-6s, somewhere over central Texas, delighting in how easily the new plane handles and stays in position

Perhaps he's back in the B-25, next to a student with an awkward hood on, training the brand-new Army Air Force's first-ever class at Brook's just-opened instrument flight school, lecturing his victim: "what you don't understand about instrument flying is...."

Or maybe he's in his most-beloved C-47, carefully circling an overloaded 'trane down through the stacks of others, Brit and US, just like his and just as overloaded, in the fog over Templehof...or listening intently for Berlin's only A-N tone to start fading in his headphones on approach during the pre-Tunner airlift

Maybe he's in the vast cockpit of his B-36, listening to a slightly discordant note in the organ-pipe rumble and to the flight engineer grumble about how rough number six is running, wondering if he'll make it past the Azores, wondering how many others in his wing will make it back to US shores, much less to Dayton to cut the tone....

...Or in his O Club at Biggs, with a few beers behind and a few more ahead, beaming just as wide as Toni and the others at the table, as Curt (General LeMay to you) congratulates him again on the eagle and the wing "Curt's" just given him

...Or tinkering with the engine...once more, though it doesn't need it...while his nearly-grown sons in sweaty, discarded flightsuits curse under their breath and under the car...."What you don't understand about BMWs is..."

...Or on the golf course...

Or--most likely I think--sitting in his chair in Toro Canyon, reading the paper, idly cursing the Democrats and talking with Toni for hours about....everything...and, in the back corners of his mind, still somewhere out flying

Yesterday morning, he made his final landing in this plane. The approach was slightly shaky (he was non-current), but the touchdown was smooth.

He was Patriarch, husband, father, brother, grandfather, uncle, pilot, officer, always an instructor and teacher, patriot, Republican, Presbyterian, unsung hero, one of the finest exemplars of one of our finest generations.

We will miss him.

I hope and pray that where he is now, he may finally be able to reach out his hand and touch the face of God.

They will soar on wings like eagles
They will run and not grow weary
They will walk and not be faint

-- Isaiah 40:31

Don L. Safley, 1918 - 2005
Requiescat in Pace

Swearing in a fledgeling Monk, 1984


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