Keith (A Man of Silent Sacrifice)

At just nineteen he took possession of a mighty B-17,

The Army Air Corp’s durable workhorse

Continental Europe’s liberating air force

The bomber known as The Flying Fortress,

He signed his name on the dotted line, to pilot this war-machine.

 

No longer a boy in forty-three, he took to the skies in battle,

On December 5 to Paris and back

Then Kiel, Ludwigshafen and Osnabruck

Ringing in the New Year over Cognac,

Five missions into a long campaign, he’s a man not easily rattled.

 

A man of silent sacrifice

Of the special ones who fly

Young men who defend us

War eagles of the sky.

 

A modest spiral notebook logs the record of his tour,

In columns, names and dates and years

No embellishments or fanfare

Thirty missions in European air,

A marathon of horror that most men could not endure.

 

The logbook doesn’t tell the tale of the courage, fear and loss,

Friends like brothers gone too soon

Flak and Messerschmitts at noon

In dense fog the barrage balloons,

Nor does it mention his receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross.

 

A man of silent sacrifice

Of the special ones who fly

Humble warriors who protect us

Liberators of the skies.

 

His was the lead position, throughout life as in the war,

Husband, father, grandpapa

Honor, duty, fidelity

Service was his earthly call,

Giving all on every mission, and leaving nothing more.

 

Upon his final flight from earth, the stars bright in the sky,

The moon casting the fields aglow

Cultivated row upon row

Stars above and stripes below,

Our nation’s banner, as God’s creation, enfolds him in its glory.

 

A man of silent sacrifice

Of the special ones who die

Our fathers who watch over us

The sentinels of the sky.

 

~FS

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