By Bible Bill
Brutus was eating supper and I was catching up on whatever TV show I was watching at the time. Yes, I should know what it was as it was only a week ago, but it clearly leaves something to be desired. Brutus had finished eating and came strolling in to the bedroom to let me know he was ready for a walk. As I was getting up to take him out, I felt my phone buzzing somewhere beneath my pillows. I fished about for it as I was making my way out of bed and towards the door, half expecting a late work call that would be put off until the next day. Standing with my phone in my hand, I glanced down to see who was calling and took a double take. When the name was the same upon closer inspection, I gasped. It was a name I did not expect to see. It was Royce, the gentleman that Leo flew into a volcano. I repositioned myself on my bed before I answered.
The voice coming through the speaker was not what I expected. It was not Royce after all. But his widow. That explains the quivering higher octaves that greeted me. Royce had passed away a few years earlier, a week after their twentieth wedding anniversary. His first wife had passed and he moved back to his native Georgia and quickly found himself remarried. She had been single for twenty years and got to spend twenty years with Royce before he passed. Twenty, she says, is her lucky number. Even at the tail end of Royce’s life he remained active with the Escort Carrier Sailors and Airmen Association traveling the country for reunions and writing for them. Everyday he was writing. Retelling a story from his time with the Navy. A stark contrast from Leo who kept his story to himself. A secret he seemingly treasured above all else. Royce wrote his story for everyone to read and by virtue of his life encouraged others to do the same. His widow spoke highly of Leo and remembers hearing the story of Leo flying Royce into the volcano, something that nearly scared Royce to death. That along with countless other stories he wrote for himself, for newspapers and Escort Carrier Sailors and Airmen Association are slowly being transcribed. He insisted on writing everything by hand and she was drafted to transcribe. The work continues three years after his death. There is a filing cabinet full of his writings, which I have been invited to comb through for any mention of Leo that may be there.
With the invitation to Georgia on the table, it started to become clear that we had to decide how serious we were about this adventure. We could continue on making phone calls and writing emails, but that would only get us so far. If this was to become anything, it was going to take more. It was my family’s ghosts we were chasing, so it only seemed sensible that I would be traveling to meet long lost relatives and not send Ryan as an emissary. This is where our dream ran into reality. Well before we had started on this cockamamie scheme, I had been planning a rather extended holiday. We were at a crossroad and we had to decide how serious we were about this. It turns out we are both very serious about this endeavor and feel that this can be a story to tell. In fact, it seems to be a story that wants to be told. So we begin planning trips. This is only the beginning.
Picture taken from http://www.navy.mil/view_image.asp?id=7457