Monday, May 27, 2019

Remembering One Special Soldier on This Day

The child in the above photo is my daughter, Lauren, many years ago in Arlington National Cemetery while visiting the grave of my uncle, Willard Starns. Willard died on September 6, 1943–just one month short of his 25th birthday–in the service of his country.  Today we remember him and all of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Family Matters

Willard was a First Lieutenant in the Army Air Force (AAF) and served as a navigator for the second mapping squadron. He was the oldest of five children and, prior to the war, had been the valedictorian of his high school class and attended Louisiana State University. He joined the military on November 17, 1941.

My dad (the boy on the left) and his family prior to the war:  Alma, Bob, Millie, Fan, Willard, Emma, and Fred Starns

Lifelong Loss

My father, who thought of his beloved older brother as his own personal hero, was fourteen years old when the family received news of Willard's death by airplane crash in Peru.  My dad was utterly devastated and mourned his brother for the rest of his life.

As you can see from the document below, Willard was originally buried in Panama but was reinterred at Arlington five years later.

Over the years, my father was able to visit Arlington several times, where he tearfully paid his respects to the brother he loved and missed so very much.

High Flight

A few years ago as I was going through some old photos, I ran across this portrait photo of Willard (so handsome!) then realized that someone had written a poem on the back of the picture...


To more easily read the poem, "High Flight", which was written by John Gillespie Magee, Jr., visit this link.  

I especially love the final line, in which the pilot tells of flying so high that he put out his hand "and touched the face of God." Amen to that.

Thanks for letting me share about this brave fallen soldier from our family.  Blessings to all on this beautiful Memorial Day!

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