Made a pilgrimage of kinds as we speak. Talking at an EMS convention in Seminole, TX, I observed that Hobbs, NM was only a brief jaunt down the highway.
As a baby, I heard many tales about Hobbs Military Airfield from my dad as a baby. He had educated as a B17 crew member there within the early days of World Struggle II. We’d flip by means of pages from an previous ebook of his squadron, him declaring footage of previous B17’s, a few of them lacking giant items because of flak bursts. He’d inform me of the mission considered one of his squadron mates flew by which everybody bailed out of their broken bomber, Everybody, that’s, besides the bombardier, who can be damned if he’d bounce over occupied territory.
So he flew the airplane again into pleasant territory together with his previous Norden bomb sight earlier than bailing out and being picked up by pleasant forces. What occurred to the remainder of the crew, Dad couldn’t say.
It was doubtless there that he met the person who would educate him to fly, a person my fuzzy childhood reminiscences advised me was the person who rescued the real-life Smokey the Bear. It my thoughts’s eye, Dad knew fly earlier than he was despatched to Hobbs, and the person who taught him to fly had rescued Smokey Bear whereas doing wildfire suppression.
Extra doubtless, he met him as a fellow draftee despatched to Hobbs, one of many lifelong buddies he made in coaching, They shared a love of flying, and undoubtedly obtained greater than a bit of bootleg instruction from the IP’s at Hobbs. They’d picked up and pursued that love of flying after the warfare ended. Doubtless as not, he was a younger twenty-something from the area, who would go on to be one of many hearth crews who rescued Teddy Hotfoot within the El Capitan hearth of 1950. Dad went on to turn into a licensed pilot, with instrument, multi-engine and seaplane rankings.
Dad would have come to Hobbs in late 1942. He’d was been barely 21 then, but to turn into the person that warfare formed him into. It was there he’d learn to restore and function radios and electronics, hearth these Browning .50’s when want be, and turn into a small cog within the equipment of warfare, considered one of thousands and thousands of younger males stuffed with hope and promise, educated to go to loss of life and destruction on their fellow man.
A hell of a factor, warfare. However that was what one did; you really liked your nation, and also you served when she known as, with out query. Dad by no means spoke of the issues he noticed in warfare, solely of the friendships he had made.
Then once more, males of his technology by no means did communicate of these issues.
There’s nothing there now however concrete pads and some derelict previous buildings. Grass grows within the cracks on the flight line, however just a few adventurous souls nonetheless hang-out the grounds there, hovering of their gliders and parasails. A lonely Cessna shot touch-and-goes on one of many runways as I kicked in regards to the crumbling remnants of the previous close by.
I don’t know what I’d see after I got here to Hobbs. There’s actually little to see there, and the locals from Seminole inform me that the Hobbs of as we speak is a crime-ridden, economically depressed backwater. However in 1942, males who would kind the Biggest Era made their houses there, if however for a quick time. It meant one thing, to extra than simply my Dad.
I suppose I’m simply getting maudlin because the years creep up on me, and I search out these glad reminiscences of my previous. Dad and I fought approach an excessive amount of in my teenagers and early twenties; no two males might have misunderstood one another greater than we two. I used to be a grown man and Dad on the decline earlier than I used to be conscious of what a very good man he was. A lot of the issues I discovered about being a person, issues about honor and integrity and laborious work, I assumed I discovered from my brother Terry. It wasn’t till each of us have been grown males that we realized that the teachings he taught me have been ones he himself discovered from Dad, a truth we by no means appreciated till he was gone.
Maybe that’s the approach of issues between fathers and sons. I don’t know. I simply miss my previous man, and I want I had been good sufficient to make extra reminiscences with him after I had the prospect.
I suppose that’s why I drove an hour out of my method to go to an deserted Military base no person cares about any extra. I felt the ghosts of the previous there, faint whispers of youth and fond reminiscences among the many prickly pear and sage.
And no less than considered one of them was acquainted and pleasant.