Monday, July 4, 2011

a WWII story and 70 years strong.

yes, my wonderful holiday was indeed better than yours.

at first, i was of course discouraged by the fact i was in fact out-of-the-country ON the birthday of my country.

Ironic, isn't it.
But, to make up for the sad thought, the day was filled with absolutely amazing and important experiences.

First off, a little history. (it is indeed a very, VERY, VERY long story. this is a sliver of it.)

My great grandpa Ted was a bomber pilot in World War II. On May 29, 1943 he embarked on a bombing mission over France, where they were to drop their bombs on the target, cut across the British Channel and go back to base. They dropped their bombs, and everything seemed well, until they ran into some complications. German fighter planes attacked their squadron, and Ted's plane was hit. He fell out of the formation and immediately became the target that the Germans were looking for. It was apparent that the crew needed to bail, so Ted orded everyone out. Everyone made it safely out with their packs, including him. Ted realized that he was going to land in a tree, which he did. His parachute was stuck, and as he was hurriedly trying to cut himself loose (for he knew that the Nazis in the town knew he was there, and everyone knew), a young, teenage boy came running to him. That boy's name was Henri. Henri was part of the French Resistance. Ted was hid over the course of several weeks by the Resistance in fields, in peoples houses, and escorted in the operations by codename "Shelbourne". This operation was to take Allied downed aviators to a beach nearby (codenamed Bonaparte Beach), where in the night boats would be met to take them across to England. Right when Ted came, however, the operation was discovered by the Nazi Germans, and had to be cancelled. A different route would have to be figured out. This eventual route was escaping to the Pyrénées Mountain Range, where they would climb across the mountains into Spain, and off to home. So many more details are in this than i can give on here, but all in all Ted made it back home safely, after being M.I.A. for several months. He had a newly wedded wife at home; no children.

Eventually after the war ended, Ted decided that he wanted to really KNOW who those beautiful and absolutely amazing people were who were willing to help him, even willing to give up their lives for, which many did. Through many trips and hard work, Ted and his wife Ann and some of their children (my grandpa Randy included on this trip) were able to find the little town of St. Quay-Portrieux in Brittany, France, where Ted crashed. After many trips, it was discovered that Ted's plane had been discovered out in the bay off the coast, and that a diver had gone and recovered many things from the plane, which we now have. Over the course of decades of years, trips have been made, a memorial was built with the propeller of Ted's plane in remembrance, and friendships have been kept throughout the generations.

Those generations (4, to be exact) are ME. my family. It's been 70 years since my great grandpa crashed in France. And we are still such dear friends with every single part of the family of Henri, the teenage boy who first found Ted, and the other Resistance members who played such an important role in saving Ted's life.

If it weren't for these people, I WOULD NOT BE ALIVE THIS DAY. and neither would 3 other generations of my family.

Every trip is greeted with tears of happiness,
and every trip is ended with tears of sadness.
We never want to leave,

The END.
of the story, that is.

Now for what I did today.

With my grandparents and my aunt, uncle, and cousins, we saw the following:
*the field my great grandfather landed in.
*the tree that he landed in.
*the field he was moved to and stayed in the first night.
*the other fields he stayed in at nights.
*the safe houses he was kept.
*the houses of Resistance members.
*so many other places. newly discovered on this trip, too.

but lastly but not least, we saw:

okay we actually didn't see it.
we got on a real professional fisherman boat though, and went out to where it was. it was the wrong time of year and the tides were too high to see it. but, i have seen pictures.
to make up for it, however, we got to GO FISHING.
Mackerel fishing.
It was some of the most fun I've had! Mostly.
I caught 5 fish in the time we had to fish, about an hour, and had the most of anyone. Even more than the fishermen themselves!
They were so impressed with me that the driver of the boat had me DRIVE THE BOAT BACK TO THE HARBOR. a good half hour away. at least.
this is no average ski boat, my friends. it has the whole GPS/satellite/coordinate graph/who-knows-what computers everywhere, and so many things that made it that much harder! I had to take a graphed out course as to avoid all the hidden rocks in the area. Which I successfully accomplished.
Anyway, after a good day of getting Mackerel blood everywhere, holding and unhooking fish, sharing memories of a war that brought two families together, it has been very tiring. And all this writing is doing me no good. I hope I still have someone reading.
To. The. Last. Word.
Thank you, and Bonne Nuit :)

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