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Don Locke: Lookin Thru Bifocals

I’ve said before, good stories can pop-up just about anywhere; on tv.

Recently I was watching an episode of a program called, “The Flyboys.”  It is about old fighter airplanes of the era in World War I, and the young pilots that flew them.

The planes were bi-wingers, held together with little more than spit and bailing wire, covered with a cotton material, sprayed with a liquid compound similar to what we today know as crazy glue.

A single fifty-caliber machine gun was mounted under the top wing, just forward of the cockpit.  The handle and trigger could be grasped with one hand while the pilot flew the plane with the other.  The gun and the plane’s propeller were synchronized so the gun could fire through the turning props without shooting it off.  

The flight commander was briefing the flight on an upcoming morning mission: “word has come to us that the Germans are planning a big push at the front line near Verden.  

Our job is to bomb their trenches before it happens.  Each plane will carry a hundred-pound bomb.  Try to place your bombs accurately along the line of German trenches.

“Now here again is the gruesome part.  If your plane is hit from groundfire your options are few.  You can try a crash-landing.  Or, you can jump out and hope you won’t be killed; (parachutes had not come along yet).”

“As always, each pilot will be issued a thirty-eight caliber pistol in case your plane catches fire.  If you don’t want to burn alive, you know what to do with the pistol.”  “I always hate to end the briefing on a gloomy note.  Are there any questions?”  One big round-faced, chubby, kid raised his hand: “Sir, will we get back by lunch?”

This one goes back a way.  It’s true.  

My old friend, teacher and preacher, Billy Wells, told about his first day doing student teaching.  It was a history class and this day’s lesson was on World War II.

“I had thoroughly reached my material and drawn up my lesson plans.  After my presentation I was so proud of myself, I felt I had done a good job.  I hoped my supervising teacher had thought so too,” Billy said.  

“I sort of held my breath when I asked, ‘Are there any questions?’  Complete silence ensued for the longest.  Finally, a boy on the front row raised his hand: ‘Do you know what we’re having in the lunchroom today?”

Billy is with the Lord now.  He left us sometime back, too soon.  I still miss him.  I loved Billy Wells.

Kindest regards…  


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