My maternal grandfather passed away yesterday. I knew the man well, and had occasion to have many conversations man to man, enviable to anyone who has not had the chance to really get to understand the wisdom that comes from age, experience and perspective, as I know all too well in that I was only able to glimpse at briefly, with the early passing of my paternal grandfather a long 14 years ago.
Budd was a man who was not my biologic grandfather, but rather my grandmothers third husband, married to her out of pure love it would seem, and not out of responsibility or duress (with no disrespect implied or intentioned). During our several meetings, he enjoyed imparting many viewpoints perhaps unfamiliar to many, as he had a perspective of life that was both pragmatic, and interestingly mischievous, or perhaps a delicate balance of both. At any rate, he played a graceful balance of both well, and left a legacy that my mother's family had not known; a patriarch with a good heart, not afraid to express openly how he felt on a subject, and not afraid to show affection, and not afraid to show disdain appropriately, when called for. This quality was unfamiliar before him, as the predecessors where foreign, distant and unreachable at best. Out of context, this description could be construed as simple, but if you took the sum of the parts, it equaled to me, what it means to really be a man. To live your life unapologetically, for need or reason. I will recount one particular event that was a definitive, but certainly not defining story in the life of this man.
***I apologize for any inaccuracies***
He was over Germany in 1943 in a B-17 when they took heavy AA fire. According to his recollection (and mine as this story is detail for detail what I remember hearing it about 10 years ago), there was a lot of noise, smoke and wind when the 4 remaining crew who survived the initial damage bailed out about 15 miles on the wrong side of the war. When he landed, he badly twisted his ankle, and another crewman had fractured leg. The two others who did bail out were not found or recovered. These two men found each other on the ground in the twilight of dawn, and immediately got themselves to cover in a forested area. They drug each other out to the front, and were captured and taken as prisoners by the allies, thinking that it was strange to see a couple of blond haired German family named individuals coming from the wrong side of the battlefront. They spent 2 weeks in the camp until the mess was sorted out. Later, he served in Korea and later still, worked as a civilian for the military, the remainder of his whole employed life. I wanted to share the story, and a pic of the flying fortress that he fondly adored. I don't have the bomber group he was in, but there were a few notable missions and bomber groups, and his was among the notable ones that sustained big losses.
We will miss Budd greatly. I am sure, though I doubt if he believed in any of it, that he is sitting ontop of his riding lawn mower, with a nice glass of ice with “water” (vodka to you and me) and his akita. Oh, maybe grandma too. (Love you grandma(.
Thanks for reading. Find a WW2 vet if you are lucky enough, and thank them and their generation for doing a job, not looking for thanks, and generally having to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, without even batting an eye.
There are many more great stories about Budd, and we will share them with each other mostly with a big laugh and moist eyes.