Brunching with a Legend
One of my patients is one of those men. Dick and his gracious wife invited my family over for brunch this morning, and we chatted for hours. He has been battling venous ulcers on his legs, all of which I recently helped him heal. I showed him how to don his compression stockings, and we sat down to swap war stories while the ladies prepared chicken salad sandwiches.
Dick shared a few stories of his combat days with my daughter and me, but he was much more interested in showing off his paintings of rural North Louisiana. He told about his recent visit to Barksdale AFB and seeing a young man in a fighter jacket with a 23rd Fighter Group patch sewn on. This made Dick not angry, but extremely proud. It wasn't until 1992 that the men of A.V.G. were finally recognized as members of the US military during that seven month period of combat. Finally, they were made eligible for veterans' benefits on the basis of that service, and survivors were awarded medals for their heroism. Any boy who has ever dreamed of flying has at least seen the squadron emblem of the Flying Tigers and wondered what it represented. Any boy who has dreamed of flying has seen the blood chit and puzzled at it's significance. Official recognition for these men arrived too late for many, but they had solidly made their mark on history. They had been part of something bigger than themselves, and a legend that will live as long as men take to the skies to combat aggression.