Saturday, August 09, 2008

Nagasaki, Japan . . .

. . . 09 OCT 1945, 1110 hours.

Fat boy most likely saved my father from a trip from Guam to Japan.

It also gained freedom for J. S. Gray, the husband of my cousin Aylene Swayze Gray. J. S. survived the Bataan death march, imprisonment at Cabanatuan, a hell ship trip to Japan, and several years as a slave in the Yokkaichi copper mines. He weighed 202 when captured, 108 when released. His POW number was 260, and that was how his captors addressed him.

When he and his fellow prisoners were told to destroy their American flag, each one of them took a star. When the Yokkaichi POW camp was liberated, they took the stars they had kept for almost three years, and reconstructed the flag.

Footprints . . .

. . . are important to me.

Many people leave footprints, too many leave none. Some are vivid, some are faint. Most footprints add to the common good. Unfortunately, others do not. Some even detract from that common good.

Artists may consider their paintings or sculptures to be their footprints. For writers and poets, it's books, poems and stories. For parents, it may be children. For engineers, it may be buildings, highways, bridges or pipelines. I guess that's why I became an engineer. I always hoped to leave footprints, and I have. I now have one more.

When I began working for the U. S. Navy in 2002, my assignment was to plan for the facilities for five new helicopter squadrons. That's ALL facilities. Hangars, training buildings, parking aprons, runways, helipads, fueling stations, armories, warehousing.

Since Uncle has very detailed planning and execution processes, it takes a while to results that you can touch and feel. After six years, my first footprint at Naval Station Norfolk is a reality. This building houses flight and weapons simulators, classrooms and offices for the folks who train our helicopter pilots.

To most who drive by, it's just another building. It's not. It's a piece of me.