To the editor:
After my trip on the Freedom Flight, I wanted to write the Newton Daily News to tell everyone about the wonderful organizer, Doug Bishop.
I have never talked about my time in the Infantry, in the forrests of Luzon, the big island of the Phillippines and I had reservations when Doug told us it was going to be an emotional trip.
I was amazed at the amount of time that went into the trip by Doug, the Red Shirt Guardians and other volunteers, the phone calls, the letters and the donations. There were just a few glitches that were quickly overcome. When the lift for disabled veterans in the “white” bus failed, Bishop said “We’ll get them loaded” and then helped lift the veterans onto buses. Later there was a mixup on the wheelchairs and again Doug quickly found a solution and 13 wheelchairs appeared.
On the plane, I listened to the excited chatter of veterans as they recalled war experiences. Then when we unloaded the buses at the WWII Memorial, I was faced with the names of those who had served. Why had I returned, when there were some still buried in unmarked graves along trails in Luzon? I broke down and cried, remembering a war I had long tried to forget. When Doug told us it would be an emotional trip, I had no idea how it would affect me and that it would truly be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
On the way home, the Freedom Flight crew did a mail call. I waited until I got home to open my mail bag. There were letters from my wife, kids and friends, all telling me I was their hero. I went to look in a mirror — overcome with emotion — asking myself was this me they were talking about? There were also letters from B.C. Berg students. One, Solomon, wrote, “I would like to talk to you.” What would I say to young Solomon? I wondered. Could I ever tell him what it was like? How I, as first rifleman, had led a squad along unmarked trails into what could be an ambush or sniper fire, seeing your buddies shot? No, I would prefer he should see someone like Doug Bishop, as his hero. Doug’s mission was to see that the hurting veterans of all the wars were honored by the Freedom Flights. I know Doug Biship is my hero, and, for what he has accomplished, he has my admiration and respect.