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Lived best they could

My father was a ball-turret gunner in a B-17 in World War II. After one bombing mission, Dad's shot-up plane was struggling to get back home to their airbase in England. This area was often enshrouded in fog, so in an effort to help pilots locate the airbase, smudge pots (which sent smoke up through the fog) were used to "mark" the runway. After seeing a plume of smoke, their pilot started lowering the B-17 and its landing gear. All of a sudden, there was a horrific sound of treetops hitting the plane--they were about to land on a moving steam locomotive. Miraculously, the pilot was able to pull the plane up, find the real runway, and the crew landed, happy to be alive.

More miraculous in my mind, however, is how many of these incredible young men came home and made huge successes of their lives. Even though many suffered devastating injuries and saw horrific atrocities in both the European and Pacific theaters, "disability" was not a word to be associated with them. Instead, after literally saving the world, these WWII veterans became family men, bankers, grocers, doctors, engineers, lawyers, businessmen, teachers--they became the pillars of their communities and some of the most productive citizens on the planet.

I wish there was some way I could adequately thank my father for doing a job I cannot begin to fathom. The following ending quote from Saving Private Ryan will forever be my mantra to him: "I tried to live my life the best that I could. I hope that was enough. I hope that, at least in your eyes, I've earned what all of you have done for me." Thank you to my dad and all veterans!

NANCY WILLIAMS

Little Rock

Will not digest Digest

To save money, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette cuts staff, discontinues the Monday business section, and changes days columnists are featured. But starts publishing a Sunday Digest which is delivered to all households.

People who already subscribe to the Democrat-Gazette do not want to read old news that was in the paper weeks before. People who do not subscribe are not interested. Just check to see how long that Sunday Digest sits in driveways in its orange wrapper.

CLAIRE LEHENY

Jacksonville

No deferment for him

It was near the end of World War II, but they did not know that at the time. Herbert L. "Von" Greenway got his notice for the draft. His family were farmers and his dad worked in the water plant at the Japanese camp in McGehee. His dad's response was that he would get Von a deferment. They had once before. Von's answer was, "No, it's not fair. Everyone else has to go, I will too." Both Maw and Paw were upset and it brought many tears in the days to follow, but Von went.

Five siblings watched him go. During his basic training, the war began to wind down, with surrenders from the enemy and the company was first sent to Japan. Being a person of no small ego, Von insinuated the enemy had heard he was on the way and decided to save themselves, so they surrendered.

He was an MP during most of his Army days. First, he was in Japan, then the company returned to U.S. soil. In California he worked while waiting on orders. Next was Germany. As they traveled across the U.S., by train, they picked up German and Italian POWs. On the ship across the Atlantic, Von met some Italian and German POWs who knew his dad, as they were located at some place around the Japanese camp. Few people know about that. As they docked to leave the ship, those POWs who had thought all the time they were going home instead found themselves in England, facing English soldiers.

Much of the time in Germany, they worked to control the unruly American soldiers. The stories were so interesting to his five children who grew up listening to them. When some became close to adulthood, they wanted to join the Army, but for some reason, he objected. It is one thing I have a tinge of regret about.

SANDRA G. THOMPSON

White Hall

Tender-hearted hero

My brother, Edward Lee Knox, proudly served our country for 20 years. He was an Air Force fighter pilot with over 300 combat missions in southeast Asia. Edward was awarded numerous medals for bravery under fire and combat leadership. Most of his close squadron buddies were killed before the war ended. He told me many times in letters home that he did not think he would survive either.

He did survive, and enjoyed over 30 years' retirement with his family and friends in Bentonville. Always a man of deep spiritual thinking and Bible study, he became an ordained Christian minister, and wrote an unpublished book about "Love Thesis."

The demons of war (we now call "PTSD") and Alzheimer's disease combined in later years to slow him down and eventually end his life in 2015.

Few men in history came as close to preventing (starting?) a world war as flight commander Knox did on a mission off North Korea when he dove his plane close over a Russian "fishing boat"; his following wingman with finger on trigger with orders to fire if weapons were detected; none were.

Edward's warrior instincts were honed growing up with two older brothers and "survival hiking trips" in area woods and creeks. Courage and physical and mental toughness were developed in competitive sports at Bentonville High School. He was an All-State running back in 1954, and played college football at Ouachita Baptist.

Some of Ed's happiest moments in recent years were exploring the hills and hollers of Hobbs State Park in search of rare wildflowers. He photographed over 100 plants, and his wife, Jennie, donated the CD to the park. We should never forget this true war hero with a tender heart!

AL KNOX

Prairie Creek

Pass ban on devices

It has been over a month since one person shot more than 600 people in 10 minutes; 58 of them died. Many will have disabilities the rest of their lives.

This horrific massacre was due to the shooter having access to devices that made his guns super-rapid-fire weapons. Bills have been introduced in Congress to ban the sale and manufacture of bump stocks and similar devices. Unfortunately, there do not appear to be enough courageous members of Congress for the bills to move forward.

This is not about the Second Amendment. If a person wants access to military-style weapons, he or she can join a well-regulated militia (e.g., U.S. Army or Marines). Machine guns are not needed or useful for hunting or personal protection.

This is the reason I believe these bills are languishing: Our members of Congress are terrified of the NRA. Each day that passes increases the likelihood of another mass shooting. Tell your member of Congress that human life is more precious than campaign contributions.

Tell them to work to pass a strong bill banning these devices. Now.

TERI PATRICK

Little Rock

Editorial on 11/13/2017

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