Dear Dad, It’s almost Fathers Day and I wondered if you knew after you died of Parkinson’s Disease, that Mom finished your book Bail Out? It has a photo on the cover of you with your squadron. It …
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Dear Dad, It’s almost Fathers Day and I wondered if you knew after you died of Parkinson’s Disease, that Mom finished your book Bail Out? It has a photo on the cover of you with your squadron.
It is a terrific book! You talk in the book about your experience as a navigator for a B-24 called the Fyrtle Myrtle. It was World War II in the South Pacific and evidently many men on your crew had pregnant wives.
On a bombing mission, your pilot, John Farrington, nicknamed “Mother” stayed in formation even though the hotshot pilot in your group hung around the target of nickel mines after the bombs were dropped.
You wanted to “get the hell out of there” before the “Japs” would attack, but “Mother” held formation for the hotshot pilot. It cost “Mother” his life and nearly yours when the Zeros buzzed in like hornets. Fyrtle Myrtle was shot down by the Japanese Zeros.
Pilot John Farrington and half your crew were killed instantly and the survivors had to bail out with parachutes.
Here I will insert Mom’s introduction in your book, Bail Out.
“When that motorcycle pulled up in our gravel driveway, I felt a terrible apprehension it was bringing something I wouldn’t like. When the dogs barked, I had only a few seconds left in my happy world before being plunged into unmitigated grief. The messenger handed me a Western Union envelope and roared off into the night.
MISSING IN ACTION! Her world fell apart. She said you were very resourceful, very smart.
“I always told Bill he was the smartest man in the world. I was convinced that if he hadn’t been killed outright he would have been in one of those 5 or 6 parachutes reported by the military.”
Dad, your stories about prison camp are etched in my mind, such as the Japanese guard whispering to you, “My wife is in Los Angeles do you think she’s OK?” (probably referring to internment of Japanese Americans during WWII in prison camps.) You made friends with everybody, didn’t you?
Mom didn’t know if you were dead or alive for 23 months. How stressful that must have been with baby Bill growing up never having met you.
Late on the afternoon of September 8, l945, Mom was preparing dinner with Marion Minger, a visitor, and they were startled by a racket out front. Pat Guilland, mom’s contact (because my mother didn’t have a phone) screamed, “Bill’s in Manila, he’s in Manila!”
Mom stared in disbelief. “Is it really true?” She cried.
Dad, you were close to death, weighing only 100 pounds. The Japanese moved you to another camp for those about to die, Ofuna. But with your friendly nature, you even got along with British jewel thieves. They crawled up and down ducts and brought you crab and sugar which saved your life.
A Japanese official hit you so hard with a baseball bat in your back it damaged your kidneys. After the war you forgave the Japanese. “Their people were suffering too,” you said.
Then after the war when we moved from San Francisco, California to Golden, Colorado you met Bill Hosokawa, Denver Post Editor, who wrote Nisei about the Japanese Americans who were interned in the United States. You two Bills became friends. Your forgiveness of the Japanese impressed me.
Dad, you could have given up on life and died in prison camp like so many others. But you came back to Mom and your toddler son, Bill. Then in a brilliant move, you became a father to a daughter, me!!
Happy Father’s Day, I miss you.
Note: Bail Out was self published in 2004 by Liberator Press. The author Bill McFerren received the Silver Star 50 years after the war for exceptional bravery.
If you have comments or questions please send a message to Mary Stobie at email@example.com or www.marystobie.com.
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