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My friends are gone but never forgotten

Bill O’Leary and I grew up together, and he was my best friend. He died flying a B-17 Flying Fortress over Europe in World War II. He was a week short of his 20th birthday, one month younger than me.

Pat Fallon, a full colonel, died flying a rescue mission into Laos, a mission for which he volunteered. He had a new son he never saw. His second war.

Paul Lunsford was a major who volunteered to fly for a friend who was not feeling well. A World War II friend, it was his third war.



Emerson E. Heller, a lieutenant colonel, died flying his 100th and last mission. His third war. A fine family man.

J.J. Jenkins, a major, was black and a favorite with everyone. He kept us all laughing. We never knew that his first name was Joyful, and joyful he was. First war.




President Ronald Reagan said, “Who else but an idealist would choose to become a member of the armed forces and put himself in harm’s way – for us. In life, they were our heroes; in death, our loved ones, our darlings. To the mothers, they were their pearls.”

It is so easy for us to forget those who gave their all so we might have this wonderful country of milk and honey. I remember them every day, as I survived them. These are just a few of so many friends lost in three wars. Please remember them, including those lost in today’s war. They lost their lives, their loves and their futures for us.

Roy L. Crain, USAF retired

Grass Valley


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