An Experience To Recall
(This 1967 true story is of an experience of a young 12-year-old lad in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. It is about the vivid memory of a privately rebuilt P-51 Mustang from WWII and its famous owner/pilot.)
In the morning sun, I could not believe my eyes. There, in our little airport, sat a majestic P-51.
They said it had flown in during the night from some U.S. Airport, on its way to an air show. The pilot had been tired, so he just happened to choose Kingston for his stop over. It was to take to the air very soon.
I marveled at the size of the plane, dwarfing the Pipers and Canucks tied down by her. It was much larger than in the movies. She glistened in the sun like a bulwark of security from days gone by.
The pilot arrived by cab, paid the driver, and then stepped into the pilot's lounge. He was an older man; his wavy hair was gray and tossed. It looked like it might have been combed, say, around the turn of the century. His flight jacket was checked, creased and worn - it smelled old and genuine. Old Glory was prominently sewn to its shoulders. He projected a quiet air of proficiency and pride devoid of arrogance. He filed a quick flight plan to Montreal ("Expo-67 Air Show") then walked across the tarmac.
After taking several minutes to perform his walk-around check, the tall, lanky man returned to the flight lounge to ask if anyone would be available to stand by with fire extinguishers while he "flashed the old bird up, just to be safe." Though only 12 at the time I was allowed to stand by with an extinguisher after brief instruction on its use -- "If you see a fire, point, then pull this lever!", he said. (I later became a firefighter, but that's another story.) The air around the exhaust manifolds shimmered like a mirror from fuel fumes as the huge prop started to rotate. One manifold, then another, and yet another barked -- I stepped back with the others. In moments the Packard -built Merlin engine came to life with a thunderous roar. Blue flames knifed from her manifolds with an arrogant snarl.
I looked at the others' faces; there was no concern. I lowered the bell of my extinguisher. One of the guys signaled to walk back to the lounge. We did. Several minutes later we could hear the pilot doing his pre-flight run-up. He'd taxied to the end of runway 19, out of sight. All went quiet for several seconds. We ran to the second story deck to see if we could catch a glimpse of the P-51 as she started down the runway. We could not. There we stood, eyes fixed to a spot half way down 19. Then a roar ripped across the field, much louder than before. Like a furious hell spawn set loose -- something mighty this way was coming. "Listen to that thing!" said the controller.
In seconds the Mustang burst into our line of sight. It's tail was already off the runway and it was moving faster than anything I'd ever seen by that point on 19. Two-thirds the way down 19 the Mustang was airborne with her gear going up. The prop tips were supersonic. We clasped our ears as the Mustang climbed hellishly fast into the circuit to be eaten up by the dog-day haze. We stood for a few moments, in stunned silence, trying to digest what we'd just seen.
The radio controller rushed by me to the radio. "Kingston tower calling Mustang?" He looked back to us as he waited for an acknowledgment. The radio crackled, "Go ahead, Kingston." "Roger, Mustang. Kingston tower would like to advise the circuit is clear for a low level pass." I stood in shock because the controller had just, more or less, asked the pilot to return for an impromptu air show! The controller looked at us. "Well, What?" He asked. "I can't let that guy go without asking. I couldn't forgive myself!" The radio crackled once again, "Kingston, do I have permission for a low level pass, east to west, across the field?" "Roger, Mustang, the circuit is clear for an east to west pass." "Roger, Kingston, I'm coming out of 3,000 feet, stand by."
We rushed back onto the second-story deck, eyes fixed toward the eastern haze. The sound was subtle at first, a high-pitched whine, a muffled screech, a distant scream. Moments later the P-51 burst through the haze. Her airframe straining against positive G's and gravity. Her wing tips spilling contrails of condensed air, prop-tips again supersonic. The burnished bird blasted across the eastern margin of the field shredding and tearing the air. At about 500 mph and 150 yards from where we stood she passed with the old American pilot saluting. Imagine. A salute! I felt like laughing; I felt like crying; she glistened; she screamed; the building shook; my heart pounded. Then the old pilot pulled her up and rolled, and rolled, and rolled out of sight into the broken clouds and indelible into my memory.
I've never wanted to be an American more than on that day! It was a time when many nations in the world looked to America as their big brother. A steady and even-handed beacon of security who navigated difficult political water with grace and style; not unlike the old American pilot who'd just flown into my memory. He was proud, not arrogant, humble, not a braggart, old and honest, projecting an aura of America at its best.
That America will return one day! I know it will ... but until that time, I'll just send off this story. Call it a loving reciprocal salute to a Country, and especially to that old American pilot: 1the late JIMMY STEWART (1908-1997), a great actor, real WWII Hero; a Commander of a US Army Air Force Bomber Wing, in England, a USAF Reserve Brigadier General, and a man who wove a wonderfully fantastic memory for a young Canadian boy.
In 1967, Stewart was 59 years old. He died thirty-years later (1997), at 89.
Special Forces Association Chapter IX: An Experience To Recall
Another site of interest: Jimmy Stewart Archives - This Day in Aviation
Veterans from WWII and Korea are dying off every day, Vietnam and Deseret Storm, etc. may be getting kind of 'long-in-the-tooth', fate, experience and a little age (just 'time') may have slowed some more than when they were younger, but one thing remains true with them.....that "fire in the belly"! It angers them to see how our country is being mistreated by our liberals and by ur government. We swore once to protect this country from all enemies both foreign and domestic, and that oath still is relevant and just as binding now as it was when we raised out hand and took that oath!.
No one has been released from that oath we took at our induction, so ... YES, we will protect this country, at all costs, even to the death; We will protect this great country along with its accomplishments and failures ... Freedoms that most of mankind has never experienced, but only dreamed about cannot be destroyed!
We rejoice in our great accomplishments, and we hang our heads when we fall short. We can and do make mistakes, yet we work towards correcting those mistakes. We enjoy the freedoms while we protect them for our children, our families and everyone else..
One of our most fundamental rights is that of Free Speech. If I say something that one does not agree with, allow me to finish my statement before offering a different viewpoint. And I will do the same for you! That said, no one can prevent me from expressing my views on public property, so long as I don't advocate violence and do so 'peacefully' ("peacefully assemble"... but that is another right, isn't it.).
Should free speech - or any God-given right - not be allowed on public colleges and universities, as we have already seen; then all federal grants, student loans or any other taxpayer monies they have been receiving should be discontinued, until such time that this attack on the First Amendment fully ceases.
I would like to see a national movement of "Veterans Lives Matter." Whether one is the most successful veteran in America or one is homeless, we all matter, no matter what their race or origin. . And, if the citizens of America won't help, then we have to put our shoulders to the wheel and do it ourselves.
“The land of the free, and the home of the brave.” These words mean more to a veteran than just what is contained in a song. It stands for commitment, dedication and duty. Without almost 250 years of American veterans, this country would not be able to exist in its current form. All citizens owe our veterans a great vote of thanks. The Independent American Party has a National Veterans Committee. The purpose of this committee is to be a voice of the veterans nationally, with Congress and the Veterans Administration as well as in each state.
Currently, we are the only political party that is pursuing proper treatment of our veterans by the Veterans Administration. We have retired federal employees of the Veterans Administration as well as a service-connected VFW Service Officers and veterans in our ranks. The mission is to let all veterans tell their story, either good or bad, about their care at the VA - good, bad, or ugly! Email us at our 'Contact page' address which is provided for you to tell your story. Please give your name, physical address and phone number when emailing us. It is important so we know who your Congressioinal Representative, who your VFW Service Officer or closest IAP Representative might be and get you connected. Together, along with the DAV, VFW and the American Legion, we will take the fight on your behalf for the care at the vets by the VA and government.
Could you use some help to guide you through the complicated system of Veterans Benefits? Contact either: 1) a 'Veterans Helper', or 2) a VFW Service Officer, or 3) a VA Outreach Clinic or Office, ... or even another Veteran ... or contact us at the IAP! We all want to help our brothers in arms! We have your six, bro!