Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Heroes make me cry

Heroes make me cry. Whether I'm reading, watching a movie, or watching dramas unfold on the news, heroic actions grab my heart. Certainly a poignant love scene might do the same, but the sorrow is different when a hero gives or risks all.  I often start sobbing.  

I've cried many times for the men of the 359th Fighter Group—men I've never met, men who were killed in action during World War II.  The loss of  Capt. Wayne N. Bolefahr on 10 June 1944 is one such man. 

Capt. Bolefahr completed 61 combat missions between April 1943 and 10 June 1944 when he was KIA.

"On this early 10 June mission, the only claims were an electric loco and several goods wagons strafed by Fogg and his flight. But this was the opening of an eventful day. The only mission actively resented by the pilots as “a suicide job” came up next: escort on the deck of four PRU (Photographic Reconnaissance Unit) P-38s to the Antwerp area. The PRU pilots said they had not been able to get any planes back from the heavily defended Lowlands. The 368th was ordered to take them in. Colonel Tyrrell, briefing, warned of the flak and told the pilots they could do little good attempting to intervene: keep the enemy off the PRU and let them brave the flak.

"But the compulsion of the West Pointer’s code of duty, honor, country led Captain Wayne Norbert Bolefahr, beau ideal of the 368th, to do more than that. As the squadron swept in over the Scheldt with the four P-38s they came under a staggering barrage: there were automatic weapons emplaced everywhere along the winding coasts and the railroads, the heavy guns were in motion at extreme slant ranges. Bolefahr, slim, dark, kindly, courteous, a soldier in whom the sense of duty replaced the killer instinct he totally lacked, felt compelled to intervene. He was there. The Air Force wanted the pictures. So all along that blazing route he flew in the van, firing at every emplacement, drawing the enemy flak while the camera-Lightnings went off to the side, making their low obliques. It was magnificent; it was also death. “Bo” survived until 1410, four miles N of Antwerp, when his aircraft flamed under a hail of hits and augured in from 100 feet. On the way back, four locos were destroyed and another damaged, but it was a saddened group of pilots who sat numbly in the lounge at Wretham Hall that night, and the impact of Bo’s loss fell heavily on every man and officer on the ground side who had known him." ~ Excerpt from the June 1944 359th Fighter Group History report

Bo gave his life for us, for freedom, for the world.  Yet that costliest of lessons has faded as so many people run faster (from home to coffee shop to work to the gym or school and back), talk or text constantly, and rarely pause to appreciate life and its blessings.  I could rant forever about the evil that seems to promulgate itself in this world of ours, but instead I'll shed a few more tears for the heroes and hope that the reminder of Lt. Bolefahr's death on that day, so many years ago, makes a few of you cry, too.  After you've shed a few tears, I hope you'll get off the computer so you can hug those you love or lend a hand to someone in need.  Then, before you pick up your phone, take a moment to step outside, to look at the high, blue sky and send a word of thanks to Bo.

No comments:

Post a Comment