Newsletter Issue: March/April 2004 - page 6 of 7

  Perhaps, as he promised me, Bill has taught me to fly after all - in a much broader sense of the word. Perhaps, this work of love is helping him come safely home at last. Perhaps he will bring his other brothers of the air home with him to participate in this mission.  
  I know we will all feel their presence this year at the reunion, as we always do. Many members who had survived the war have left this level by now. But many still remain, and they still hold their heads high. You can tell who they are by everything they do. They never give up. It shows even in their traditional signing off of their letters: Peace, Blue Skies, and Keep 'em Flying!  
  As of this date, January 10, 2004, at least seven women have come forward to identify themselves as having been at the orphanage at the time that the 412th officers were there. There may be more coming. Interestingly, the children of Dongelberg also held reunions until a few years ago when the person planning them died. The people we've talked to have been confirmed by the orphanage records. One woman has recognized herself and her sister as being in pictures that I obtained from the men of the 412th and sent to Belgium. We go bravely forward to the September 2004 reunion. We hope to find a way to bring these people together here in the US. It will be a glorious event, filled with the love of these bridges that have spanned continents and so many years.  
  This is an exciting turn of events! the goal is not yet achieved. I must seek a way to bring these folks together in the United States. We will need to find a way to finance the Belgian contingent's travel as well as recording this event so they may each have record for their families.  
  I am seeking help from interested parties in finishing the construction of these bridges of love. Perhaps in so doing the story will be shared with others and enrich their lives as it has mine. - End.  
  Memoir Article: McGehee's Killers, by Carl Carmer. Photograhs by Toni Frissell. Published in This Week Magazine July 1, 1945, Los Angeles Times Magazine Section.  

They were the hottest lot of fighter pilots on the Western Front.


But it was a different story back at the orphanage . . .

  The first time I saw the orphanage the sky was gray behind it and its two tall towers were darkly reflected in the ribbon of rain-wet asphalt the led to its door. I had ridden many miles that afternoon in a jolting staff car -- through towns whose names had meant much to Americans like me in another war - Liege, Namur, Louvain. Now I listened wearily as the Public Relations Officer who was my guide did his duty.  
  The architect who had built the orphanage, he said, had had the good sense to make use of the big medieval tower to my left, a relic of other days but solid, well-built and beautiful. He had constructed, as I could see, a twin tower over to my right and had connected the two by a low, tasteful and well-planned central building. The youngsters who were old enough to walk, the officer explained, lived here.  
  If I would look along the sides of the quadrangle of lawn behind me, he went on, I would see the modern one-story, glass-walled cubicles which housed the little babies. And at the far end those brick buildings, once dormitories for older children and the staff, now housed "the hottest bunch of Thunderbolt pilots on the Western Front."  
  "I like orphanages," I said, "but after all I was sent over here as a correspondent for the Army Air Forces. Perhaps we'd better go up there and meet those pilots so that I can get to work."  
  "You'll meet 'em all right," said the Public Relations Officer, "and you won't have to walk way up there. Here's the Old Man now."  

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