I spent last weekend in the presence of heroes. The Indianapolis Air Show featured a tent for veteran authors. Visitors got the chance to chat with men who served during World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East, and get signed copies of their books. I was privileged to be included among them.
Survivors of the USS Indianapolis were there. Edgar Harrell, a marine aboard the ship, wrote, “Out of the Depths,” a moving account of the sinking and the horrors that ensued before the handful of survivors were rescued.
Richard Curtis was a fighter pilot who flew P51 Mustangs against the German Luftwaffe. He titled his book, “Dumb But Lucky!” He assured me the title was appropriate.
Matthew Modleski was there. He enlisted in the Air Force out of high school, received a commission and became a fighter pilot. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, and achieved his dream of flying as a member of the Air Force Thunderbirds. His patriotic book is entitled, “The American Dream … and What We Must Do to Secure Our Children’s Dreams.”
Another veteran wrote about serving as a navy gunner on an aging freighter delivering war supplies to Murmansk in the arctic region of Russia in the early days of World War II. He said their biggest job was chipping ice that threatened to capsize the ship.
On Saturday, a tall, frail man sat at the table and spread out copies of his books. He was Edgar Whitcomb, former Indiana Governor, escapee from Corregidor and round-the-world sailor.
All weekend people stopped by to shake our hands and thank us for our service. Then, there was the man we thanked. He walked quietly up to our tent wearing the Medal of Honor with its distinctive blue ribbon around his neck. Everyone stood and offered him a salute.