While I was yet a gleam
in my dear fathers eye,
you left to go and fight the war,
your aircraft soon to fill the sky.
On fire for freedom, you valiantly fought,
courage and honor you humbly wore.
To end the tyranny of evil men,
Wars atrocities you bravely bore.
You were so young and so very eager
to fight for the country you loved.
Ground crew and airmen selflessly served
with help from our God above.
Still, I was not born, I could not know
the sacrifice you made;
But now Im grown and know so well
how much you dearly paid.
You went to war, some never returned,
you fought for freedoms cause.
The pride I feel when Old Glory waves
makes a lump in my throat, and I pause.
I gaze at dog-eared photos
of the loved-one Ill never see.
If only I could have know him,
but it wasnt meant to be.
I weep for one I never met;
his plane went down in 44.
I love him and the many others
who perished in the war.
Through the years, on countless graves
sweet flowers have been laid,
but to all still living and those gone on,
our debt to you can NEVER be paid.
So to each of you, we say thank-you
and though weve never met,
the 398th is dear to our hearts.
We are all forever in your debt.
This very sensitive poem, A Tribute to the 398th, was written by Sandra M. Averhart of Fort Myers, Florida. It was presented to FLAK NEWS at the Savannah reunion last September, some hours following her visit to the Mighty Eighth Heritage Museum and the dedication of the 398th Memorial.
Sandra is the niece of William H. Baker, 600 Squadron navigator who was killed when his plane crashed at Reed (near Nuthampstead) upon returning from a mission to Merseburg on November 25, 1944. Also killed at the time were pilot V.A. Hansard and co-pilot Robert L. Davis. Surviving via bailouts were Ken Hesterly, William Lake, Ed Briskie, William Colclough, James Fowler and Robert Cantwell. (See FLAK NEWS Vol. 8, No. 1).