My Honor Flight, with Mr. Gib Soder:
Today is Veteran’s Day, and while I could write more about the depressingly paltry crowd who showed up for the parade in Indianapolis, I am trying to focus on something positive. (Actually, already wrote and did a piece about the crowd HERE)
The picture above is 18-year-old Gib Soder. He was in the Army, training to be part of the force that would invade Japan and bring an end to World War II. It was a force that, fortunately, we didn’t need, but he didn’t know that at the time. “I had pretty much prepared myself that I was going to die,” Gib told me a couple months ago. This is what Gib looks like now…
He’s 86, and the son of a gun has more hair than I do! Dang it.
I got to go to Washington with Gib on the Indy Honor Flight. It provides free trips to the World War II and other Memorials for the remaining WWII vets – fewer than 10-percent are left. I was labeled a ‘guardian’, meaning I was supposed to help Gib get around, keep track of his well being, get him whatever he needed to make it through what was a long day. On the bus on the way back to the airport in Washington before the flight home, I fell asleep. Gib didn’t. I was the wimp, Gib was The Man, the hero, just as he and so many others were seven decades ago.
Gib didn’t get to go to the Veterans Day parade today, but it was not because of his health – he just had some other things to do. So family friend JoAnne Kelly carried his picture amidst the sea of pictures of the generation that saved the world.
It was great to see all the guys again, but they won’t be with us much longer. In the video, you can hear the voice of a little girl yelling for her “Pa-Paw.” There weren’t enough of those kids at the parade today. I know, I know – it’s a weekday, can’t get away from work or school, the weather was crummy. Excuses.
If you can look Gib Soder, Roy Spears, Clyde Hochstedler, Harold Thompson, Oscar McClure, William Coleman and all those other World War II veterans in the eye and make those excuses, you are braver than I am.