Testimony of Pilot# 23
Be courageous and be brave And in my heart you’ll always stay Forever Young, Forever Young, Forever Young Rod Stewart
Throughout our lives we receive multiple gifts, many simply because we are loved. But for aviators, we must love first, pursue a dream, and finally, through diligence earn the gold or silver wings. Only then will come the exposure to so many gifts over time. However, the wings are not the gift, rather they bestow special gifts upon the wearer, not the least of which is a never ending pursuit of perfecting the gifts – the gift of wings.
The Testimony of Pilot series focuses on the stories of aviators – in their own words if possible. In some cases the characterization of the chapters is obvious. Here for Chapter Four that may not be so readily apparent. The picture above and the previous three articles have one of those gifts woven into their telling, whether a piece of history, a marker at Arlington or Annapolis or San Diego, or Pensacola, an epic encounter with the sky, or simply a cold one with other ancient warriors – a gift of wings of forever young.
No matter what some might tell you, people do not enter into military aviation by chance. Some may leave, but all have dreamed and they come to comprehend the gifts that have come out of the dream. No matter what they might say this is where they want to be, what they really want to be doing.
For the “once weres” pictured above, we cannot “do” anymore, but our dreams are of real things, of events and of true friends, of hidden bunkroom Scotch, of remembered sky and those in it. We enjoy the gift, we remain forever young.
There is no such thing as an ex-fighter pilot. Once a young man straps on a jet aircraft and climbs into the heavens to do battle, it sears his psyche forever. At some point he will hang up his flight suit – eventually they all do – and in the autumn of his years his eyes may dim and he may be stooped with age. But ask him about his life and his eyes flash and his back straightens and his hands demonstrate aerial maneuvers and every conversation begins with “There I was at … ” and he is young again.
He remembers the days when he sky-danced through the heavens, when he could press a button and summon the lightning and invoke the thunder, the days when he was a prince of the earth and lord of the heavens. He remembers his glory days and he is young again. Robert Coram
In Memory of Captain Boomer Bill Lebert (USN, Retired)
December 23, 1925 – May 6, 2020
Nickel on the grass