It all began with a book. Wayne Ralph travelled and interviewed and then wrote a book of stories about average men caught up in the air war of 73 years ago. Dad was one of the people he wrote about in Aces, Warriors and Wingmen. Anyway, when the French Government recently decided to honor surviving servicemen who served the Republic fighting in France with the French Legion of Honor Wayne was in an ideal position to apply on behalf of the men he had interviewed for this honor. He had all of their service data already compiled. And thanks to him, Dad was to receive this one final recognition.
I knew nothing of this till one day Ann showed me the letter from the French Government announcing the award. I wrote about that in a previous post. The award duly arrived in the mail in time for Dad to wear it to the “Dawn Patrol” on Remembrance Day. It is a handsome medal, indeed, and father was very proud of it.
The Air Force Officers Association, of which Dad is a member, have a Christmas lunch each year and they arranged for the French Consul General to attend and to formally make the presentation to three airmen, all members of the Association.
So on Saturday, the 13th of December, I collected Dad and we went out to the Point Grey Golf and Country Club to the luncheon. It was a beautiful day and the setting was all got up in Christmas decorations. It was really a lovely affair. It amazes me how many people Dad knows. We walked into the room and there was a stream of people coming over to see him. You could tell the service veterans from World War II by the medals they wore. What a display. But there are so few of them left now. Dad was obviously having trouble keeping straight who was who but with a little prompting he figured it out pretty well.
The lunch was very nice and the conversation excellent. Wayne’s book is apparently out of print. The press run was 9,000 and they all sold. He says there are some available on the second hand market but they are running as high as $250.00 when you can find them. He says there is an electronic copy available and I will track that down!
After lunch the three WW II veterans were called to the front and the French Consul General, after describing briefly the service of each to the Republic of France, pinned the medal on their lapels. It was an excellent ceremony.
We got back to Langley in mid-afternoon. Dad was very pleased with the morning but he was tired. These outings take a lot out of him now.