Recently I received the news the my Grandfather Harper was having increasingly diminished health, and just this last Monday I received word that he had passed away that morning. It’s a sad thing to realize that both my fathers parents are now resting in peace. My biological grandmother passed away in 1982. I did not get to know her at all and it’s hard because I would have liked too. From what I’ve been told she played a significant role in my family and has been deeply missed.
My grandfather on the other hand I was able to spend a few family vacations with and a few family visits while we were in Utah. I remember fondly when we would spend time as a family up in Yellowstone National Park. I can imagine I was only five or six at the time, and I’m not terribly positive. But we enjoyed the sights and smells of the great out doors, and especially at Yellowstone. If you haven’t been there is a lot of sulfur in the air from the pools and geysers that you certainly want to keep your distance from.
I remember only a few other times we were able to spend with Grandpa Harper. One time though that I will never forget is when he was retelling the story of his time in the Air Force, not officially known as that, in World War II. He was the flight deck engineer on a B-17 Bomber aka “The Flying Fortress”. I actually wrote a paper on what his role entailed and how the plane was developed during my college days.
But I remember when we were at his house and he began to share the moments when his plane had been hit and they needed to evacuate. He had accidentally left his parachute behind had his station and was already in the evacuation tube. Men behind him couldn’t allow him to squeeze past due to limited space. Facing the open door, he literally took a leap of faith, knowing that he could not remain there and allow his fellow crewmen to perish. Falling towards the earth he did not realize that a crew member had attached himself to his back and they fell at a more rapid pace to the earth than a single parachute could handle. Might I simply add that I am extremely grateful for this incredible crewman who did this. He saved my grandfathers live. However, when they landed, they ended up in a German Prison Camp for the remaining months of the war. Yet another miracle, he survived the prison camp for those months and returned home.
With all of this said, I am grateful for the legacy my grandparents left. I am extremely grateful for the knowledge that we will see our families again after this life. I can only imagine how sweet a reunion it was for my grandparents to meet together again. I know I will see them again as I know I will see each of you after this life.