Friday, November 8, 2013

Flying Backwards

A highlight of my recent pass-through Washington DC was a brief tour of the Air & Space Museum. And the exhibit where I lingered the longest was the air carrier room, which prominently featured a Douglas Dauntless dive bomber, one of the planes my Dad flew in during WWII as a rear gunner. The SBD is best remembered as delivering the fatal blows at the Battle of Midway.

Dad spent the war going backwards in those SBDs, and later in the Curtiss-Wright Helldivers which replaced them.

He once told us how, on aerial recon missions to scout island targets in the Pacific, they would give him a huge camera. He'd have to unhook his seat belt and hang over the side, taking photos as the aircraft dived from 10,000 feet. A couple of times, he said, he nearly fell out!

Charles Albert Adams was part of the 'Fabled Fifteen" carrier air group which was the US Navy's most productive in the Pacific theatre. They were in the middle of nearly every major campaign. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Copper Star, Silver Star and Gold Star.
Dad and me when I was 16.
Dad joined IBM before the war as a timekeeper and resumed his career there in Endicott NY after, eventually becoming manager of the manufacturing research department for development of printed circuit boards.

Most people know little or nothing of his service in keeping us free. What they remember most about 'Charlie' were "his smiles, handshakes, hugs, joyfulness with every child and adult he met ... amusing stories, knowledge, skills, poems, compassion, prayers," - to borrow from my brother's words in Dad's obituary. (He passed away last December at nearly 90.)

My Dad was an unassuming hero, never bragging about his accomplishments. He was always too busy doing something for someone else.

I'm proud of his legacy but moreso his character. I'd like to be more like him.

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