In the early 90s a man contacted my grandfather about writing a book about the China/Burma/India Theater of World War II. It’s an often overlooked part of WWII, and it is where my grandfather served for most of his time in the war. It’s something I have always been immensely proud of, and why in fifth grade I did a big project about CBI in my history class.
There is a lot of interesting information about that theater, and there is even a section of the Smithsonian Air And Space Museum dedicated to it now.
The back patch in particular has a lot of meaning to me, as my grandfather’s was one of his prized possessions, and I even got to use it in the report in fifth grade.
Until the author called and interviewed my grandfather, though, I had never really heard the story of his time while MIA. He had to bail out of his plane with the rest of the flight crew, and ended up walking out from behind enemy lines in China. I had heard parts of it, some of it from my grandmother’s perspective of worry, but not like this interview.
My grandfather passed away in 1999, when I was 30. I had been very fortunate to have him for as long as I did, and to this day his absence is very painful. He made me much of the man I am today, and for that I will be forever grateful. I will also be forever grateful for the service that he and so many others in my family gave for the country. He retired in the 70s as a Chief Master Sergeant in the Air Force, and instilled in me not just a love of country and countrymen, but also a love for what this country means and stands for. Freedom, tolerance, acceptance, and that out of many cultures, beliefs, lifestyles, and backgrounds, we are all Americans and deserve to be treated as such.
So now this Memorial Day I want to offer a little bit of insight into one man’s bit of World War II. It’s long, yes, but I think it’s worth it. It makes good podcast listening. A couple of other little trivia bits. During the interview he mentions John Blunt, a good buddy of his who walked out with him.. It was only well after my grandfather’s death we discovered that John Blunt was the father of author John Irving. I think Papa would have been very proud to have known that.
I know we were very proud of him.
The Walkout Club
Note: this was captured off of a cassette tape, so is a little hissy and not well mixed. It builds character, so cope.