DAD AND JOHN

On the eve of Normandy I would like you both to know:

That I have a photograph of the two of you on my desk

in Paris

in uniform

from May of 1945;

that you two are true heroes.

Thank you for what you did for humanity.

 

 

NEW BERN, NORTH CAROLINA

A few hours after I was informed that my father died, early in the morning on December 23, 2013, I called John Engeman to let him know…….

My father was a tail gunner on a B-24 Liberator based in England during World War II.

On April 1, 1944, at age 19, his plane was shot down on a bombing run over Germany.

Five men of the ten man crew went down with the plane.

My father and four others parachuted out.

My father was shot while floating to earth.

He landed, bleeding, in the backyard of a German family’s home.

A few weeks later he was taken to Stalag XVIIB, where he spent over a year as a prisoner of war.

And there he met John Engeman, from Brooklyn, New York, the man who would become his best friend for life…..

A few weeks after my father died I wrote Mr. Engeman a letter.

I asked him if, after the cold weather had passed, I could come out to New Bern, North Carolina and sit down with him on a Saturday afternoon for a few hours to ask him questions about my dad and him and their experience.

This past Saturday, May 10th, I spent the afternoon and evening with Mr. Engeman and his lovely wife of 67 years, Rosemary.

And for two of those hours I sat at their kitchen table with Jack (which is what his friends call him, what he insisted that I call him) while I asked questions and he made their experience and World War II come alive for me.

He gave me three photographs.

One of my father and his platoon at Kessler Field, Mississippi in 1942.

One of my father and his bomber crew at Kessler in 1943 before they flew to England.

And the third, after the liberation, of my father and John Engeman, and a couple dozen soldiers and sailors, in Paris in May of 1945.

He gave me the letter which Lieutenant General James H. Doolittle wrote to my aunt on June 19, 1944.

It told her that my dad’s plane went down, that some crew members bailed out, that there was no definite information regarding him.

The last sentence of that letter reads:

“His mother may find some consolation in the knowledge that her son made a splendid contribution to the cause for which we are all fighting.”…..

My father and John C. Engeman are the very essence of heroes.

What they lived and endured for freedom is one with the ages.

It was an honor to spend those hours with you Jack Engeman.

My father was lucky to have a fine man such as you for his friend.

And I miss Blackie too.

SUPERSTITIOUS?

All season long I’ve listened to the U of A basketball games on the radio.

Last night I went to my good friends’ house to watch our Sweet 16 match.

The first game I had watched all year.

We’re all wearing U of A tee shirts.

Mine’s the won I bought when we won in all in “97.

We were getting our butts kicked.

I knew I was jinxing the team because I was watching, not listening.

So just before the beginning of the second half I left.

Listened to the second half on 1290 am.

Of course we won.

Superstitious?

Not me.

 

 

THE SWEET 16

I was so hoarse from yelling when we won it all back in “97 that I could barely speak the next day.

I’ve been here for more than 50 years; high school, college, law school.

This is my town, my team.

GO CATS!!!!!!

 

U OF A

Having lived in Tucson for more than 50 years

And having both my degrees from the U of A

I am getting very excited as March Madness draws near

This is definitely a Final Four team

Start sinking a few more free throws and these guys will be national champions

I can remember shouting my self hoarse when we beat Kentucky for the “97 crown

It’s time again

Go Cats!

My Father Told Me

That there are 3 important things in your life

Your freedom

Your good health

Your good name

Without them you are lost