As the days and months have sped by since the 508 reunion in Gainesville, it has begun to sink into my consciousness I will never get another chance to see many 508ers with whom I have become familiar during the past decade. I am saddened by the thought. I have become attached to the men of the 508, their wives, their children, their nieces, their nephews. I feel I belong in the 508 family, and many of us have said goodbye for the last time.
I donít have the foggiest idea how to say goodbye to the closest group of men and women Iíve ever known. Thereís no good way to do so. Attending the annual reunion of the 508 PIR Association has become part of my life, and it pains me to think I wonít be doing so this year. I want to see the men who have embraced me and my desire to learn about my long-departed uncle and adopted me, helped me learn about Uncle Bill, and made it plain I was welcome to join the family. I wonder where Iíll turn now.
On a similar front, I am curious how the annual remembrance of D-Day celebrated every June in Normandy will play out, especially now that fewer veterans of D-Day will be traveling there. Change is certainly on the way, but I have faith the people of Normandy will carry on remembering the soldiers and activities of a day that is seared into the consciousness of people young and old.
The peoples of Holland and Belgium, too, will keep alive the history of Market-Garden and the Battle of the Bulge, and they will have to cope with the changes. We (people from my generation and those younger) have a duty to do what is necessary to preserve the history of World War II (in general) and the Airborne in particular.
James Allardyce informs us Dave and Sharon Pike, friends of the 508 PIR from Nottingham, have recently moved to, of all places, Normandy, France. Dave was always on hand to greet 508ers touring Nottingham, and he helped establish the 508 museum and memorial in Nottingham. If you would like to correspond with Dave and/or Sharon, email me, and I will be happy to provide contact information.
Zig Boroughs (HQ HQ), reports Amos Moss (HQ2) died February 26, 2005. Condolences may be sent to his widow, Phyllis, at 3035 7th, Columbia City, OR 97018-9710. In 1990, Amos sent Zig a letter describing an incident on a road near Baupte (Normandy):
Heimer Swanson passes on news of the death of Virginia Shepherd, widow of Robert Shepherd, on November 17, 2004. Bob and Virginia were regular attendees of 508 reunions, and Bob was a member of the Parachute Test Platoon. Memorials, remembrances, notes, etc., can be sent to the Shepherdsí daughter:
I want to thank those readers who provide me with information and feedback about this column. In particular, I want to recognize Jim Allardyce, Zig Boroughs, Rock Merritt, George Stoeckert, and Heimer Swanson for keeping communication flowing via these writings.
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