Bear with me just a little while. This story might take a while to make sense.
I say I’m the luckiest guy in the world. Not a day goes by that I don’t say that there is so much to be thankful for. Problems do come before me, but I still am blessed beyond compare. Recently, I met a World War II veteran that felt the same way. He related his story of good luck that has followed him all his life.
Let’s get to the Western Union man. Western Union transfers money all around. They used to send telegrams. Messages were sent via Morse code to a telegraph station. The message was written on paper and then delivered to the person receiving the message. Cell phones, computers, fax machines and a myriad of devices have rendered the telegraph obsolete.
Back in the 40’s telegrams were special. If you got a telegram, that was really something. My newfound veteran friend used to deliver telegrams while he was in high school. Then World War II started. By 1942 he was taking telegrams to people’s houses. Usually, the telegram told that the people’s son was, missing in action, killed in action, or some other calamity. He had to watch the horrible reaction. This wore on him and by 1943 he was not delivering telegrams but was in Army Flight School.
By 1944 he was flying as co-pilot on a B-24 bombing Germany. His last flight was a bombing mission over Munich. They had just released their bombs and were turning back when their aircraft was hit by flak. There was a big explosion on the left side of the aircraft. The two left engines were blown up and stopped working. The bomber started losing altitude. The captain was hurt. He was hit by shrapnel in his left leg. They were descending but still heading towards home.
The captain was trying to wrap something on his leg and decide whether to bail out of the plane. Meanwhile, the co-pilot was telling everyone to throw out anything they could to make the aircraft lighter. Several of the gunners said they couldn’t get their ammo out but they could shoot it out. His reply was get rid of anything that you could by whatever means they could. The gunners started shooting.
The captain heard the shooting and thought fighters were attacking. He pushed the aircraft down into clouds to hide from the fighters. Now came the real problem. They had descended down to about 12,000 feet right above a cloud deck and were holding some altitude. The captain had pushed them into the clouds. There were mountains in those clouds. What to do? He asked the navigator what was the height of the mountains in the area?
Well, the mountains were higher than the aircraft. They were in clouds and drifting lower. They had to bail out. He gave the command for everyone to bail out He told the captain to go ahead and bail out since he had an injury and he would fly the plane and be the last man out. The captain said he was going to be the last man out and to go ahead and bail out. The captain didn’t have to say it twice. He went to the bomb bay area of the plane and the crew was standing around looking at a partially opened bomb bay. They were wondering what to do. He said “Follow Me.” He dove head first through the bomb opening and got out.
When his parachute opened he thought he was the luckiest guy on earth. He said ever since then he felt he has led a remarkable life with nothing but good fortune. He looked around and started seeing other parachutes. He counted them but one was missing. It turned out the navigator didn’t jump and was killed in the crash of the plane.
He told about the multitude of blessing that followed throughout his life. He did finish his story about the war experience.
He was floating down under the parachute. He realized that he was over Germany and would probably be captured and put in a prison. All he could think about was that some poor kid would be delivering a telegram to his parents saying that their son was missing in action over Germany. He felt sorry for the kid delivering the telegram and his parents. He was captured and spent the rest of the war and a German prison.
The rest of the crew was captured and they were all place in the same prison. When they were all together they each recounted what they were thinking as they were descending under their parachutes.
One guy told that he was thinking that here he was parachuting into German territory and he would probably be captured. All he could think about was that he was shot down and he was 21 years old and going to prison and durnit he was still a virgin.
There is so much to be thankful for.