A Memorial Day story from a friend of mine:
He was waiting for an oil change recently and happened to sit down next to an older man probably in his 80s.
When he pulled out his BlackBerry, the older man noted it and they somehow got to talking about World War II.
The older man had been a bomber pilot in the Pacific during World War II. He would leave his base, fly over Japan and back — a 19-hour mission.
“How did you refuel?” my friend asked.
He replied: “We didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d be coming in on fumes.”
Once, he said, he returned with two of the four engines out and a hole big enough to walk through in the side.
And when he got up to pay his bill, my friend thanked him.
“If it weren’t for guys like you, we wouldn’t be here today,” he told him.
The man took the comment in stride, he said, and remarked that he and the others in his group get together for reunions. Only six of the 11 are still alive, he said.
Heroes you don’t think about, my friend called them.
So to him and to others who did not return.
PHOTO: Robert Maitre, an Army vet of WWII and member of American Legion Post 299 in Yonkers, raises the American flag in Yonkers for Memorial Day in 2002. The flag had flown over Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan. ( Stephen Schmitt / The Journal News 2002)