Tuesday was classes again but at their normal time. I went to lunch at Nandos with Emma, Audrey and Caitlin and then I came home to do homework and chill out for a little while. After we had dinner Caitlin, Audrey and I went to see Billy Elliot. It was fantastic, one of the best shows I have seen here mind the cussing. The boy who played Billy was the most talented 14 year old I have ever seen and then woman who played his dance instructor looked like my mom, she was beautiful. I LOVED it.
This was my favorite song.
I must seem a distant memory
Which is probably a good thing
And it will have been a long, long time
And I will have missed you growing
And I'll have missed you crying
And I'll have missed you laugh
Missed your stamping and your shouting
I have missed telling you off
But please, Billy, know that I was always there
I was with you through everything
And please, Billy, know that I will always be
Proud to have known you
Proud that you were mine
Proud in everything
And you must promise me this, Billy
In everthing you do
Always be yourself, Billy
And you always will be true
Love you forever
Love you forever
Yesterday, Wednesday was our last day trip. We first went to St.Albans where we saw a cathedral and a small museum. I am about 95% sure that we went there for Roger to see all we saw because it was kind of a joke. Then we drove, while listening to our obnoxious bus driver Tony tell us about random things while we were trying to make up for our lack of sleep, to the American Cemetery and Memorial in Cambridge. I had the most peaceful feeling while there; the cemeteries dedicated to men and women that have died in war have such a different feeling than any other cemeteries.
My grandpa was on my mind the entire time we were there. He served in World War II as an Army Air Core fighter pilot and a few years ago before he died I had the opportunity to interview him about his experiences. I know this will make this post long but I am going to attach my paper from that interview. Don’t mind the poor writing, I was a sophomore in high school when I wrote it.
On December 7, 1941 the Japanese attached the United States at Pearl Harbor. When my grandpa was twenty-four years old, he, along with two of his brothers and his nephew, enlisted in the service. Men and women, in the United States, took no time in waiting to sign up to help in the war effort when the attack on Pearl Harbor came. My grandpa was not different and enlisted within a few days of the attack. He enlisted into the Army Air Core as a fighter pilot. His brothers enlisted into the Coast Guard and Medical Core and his nephew enlisted into the Coast Guard as well. As soon as they all received their calls, they packed up their bags and set out for training. Because my grandpa already had his pilot’s license, he only had to go through eight months of Army Air Core training to become a fighter pilot.
When training was finished my grandpa set out for Libya. He was stationed there for nine months and was then ranked a second lieutenant in his squadron. He would later become a first lieutenant. Libya was hot and humid; there were scorpions everywhere, and they would especially crawl into small places such as shoes. The soldiers stayed in small tents and didn’t have that great of living conditions. They also didn’t have much contact with their families back at home in the United States. While he was stationed in Libya he flew P-38’s, twin engine fighter planes with four machine guns in the front and a 20mm cannon. He was in combat as a fighter pilot and also flew as an escort for the bomber planes which flew over North Africa. He told me that when he was escorting the bombers the flights would sometimes be up to eight hours, and when a pilot in a fighter plane had to use the restroom he would just go. Sometimes it was so cold up in the cockpit that their pants would freeze where they had relieved themselves.
Many times my grandpa had to bail out of planes. In those days, pilots would have to open the hatch of the cockpit, climb out onto the wing and jump while trying to stay clear of the tail so their parachute would not get caught. The first time he had to bail out of a plane was over the Mediterranean Sea. He was in the water for seven hours before being rescued by a submarine. The second time my grandpa had to bail out of a plane was when he was flying over a desert in North Africa. After serving in Libya for nine months, my grandpa was sent back to the states where he continued to serve his country while stationed in California, Oregon and Arizona. While there he trained new pilots to fly all different kinds of planes.
After coming back from overseas he had to bail out of a plane one more time. He was flying over Oregon near Three Sisters while testing a plane and mid-flight the engine failed. He was in the mountains and there was no place to land the plane, so he had no choice but to bail out. Once he bailed out, his parachute became caught in a tree and he hung there for several hours. He had no coat on in the freezing weather and no one was around. One of the branches of the tree he was stuck in had torn into his hip and he had several other injuries. Luckily, three loggers were taking a last run up the mountain before closing the logging camp for the winter. When my grandpa saw them, he started shouting at the top of his lungs. He said that, “they could have heard him all the way to California.” The loggers went back to their camp, got their climbing equipment, got my grandpa out of the tree, and rushed him to the nearest hospital as fast as they could. Our family has always believed that it was a miracle that those loggers took that last drive up the mountain that day and found my grandpa in the tree.
My grandpa, like many people, lost many friends in the fighting that took place while he was in North Africa. He and his squadron were some of the first to go overseas to fight the enemy. His mission was top secret, so his family didn’t know exactly where he was when he was overseas. The mood of the country was solemn and many people were becoming tired of the war. So many families had lost husbands, brothers, uncles, cousins and good friends to the war.
I love my country and I am so grateful for the men and women who continue to fight for our freedom.
I miss him so much.
Okay on with my day, next was Cambridge. I swear this is the town where they hide all the gorgeous English men. When we first got there our group went through the cathedral at King’s College, one of the college’s of Cambridge. After walking through we went punting! Picture the Phantom of the Opera pushing the boat with a long stick down in the river under the opera house and that is punting. It was so relaxing and we got to see nine of the colleges along the river.