Just a note to THANK YOU so much for the PR in the paper. We held our show Saturday, Nov. 13, at the San Marcos Comm. Center, and it was a success. Lots of people came thanks in great part to your support! We're trying out best to "keep the old people off the streets!" And keep us active, creative and alive! We couldn't succeed here without you! You are soooo appreciated!
Pleasure working with you!
/s/Carlyn Ames, director
The Last Flight . . .
This message is for Mr Kent Ballard., the author of the cover story on the Harpoon and the old Veteran.
Would you pass it along to him please?
Your article on the Harpoon was inspiring. Thank you for sharing this story with the world. As a Scout Leader for 20 years and a friend of many Canadian Veterans, Remembrance Day is a very important day for me and my family. My family was liberated in The Netherlands and whenever we return, the emotions are strong.
God Bless you for sharing this article. God Bless all allied Veterans for what they did to keep us all free. Free to share stories like this one.
Dear Mr. Van Dyke:
Thank you for your warm letter and your kinds words about my story.
If you will note, that story was originally written in 1991. But to this day, similar reunions still take place at airshows all over Canada, the United States, the UK, and other nations across the world. I've received letters from current warbird restorers and crew personnel telling me they've had similar experiences, although none quite as adventuresome as our crewmen witnessed.
You'll be interested to know that for 19 years now I've had grown men come up to me and tell me without shame they cried while reading that story. Many have asked me if it's true. Yes, it is. I wish I could claim to be so wonderfully creative that I could make such a story up, but I am not. Those events took place as described.
Many folks have asked me why I always referred to the retired Navy aviator in the third person, never giving his name. While writing the story, it occurred to me that by doing so, allowing the veteran to remain nameless, he would come to represent all of the courageous men who fought in World War Two. His spirit and rugged willpower live on in many veterans, and by not naming him he came to represent them all. While I did not attend the airshow in the story, as I pointed out, I did go to many with our "Harpoon" and saw first-hand similar veterans gathering around "their" airplanes. And I have seen that eerie look Allied pilots and aircrew members have given Japanese Zeros and Luftwaffe Messerschmitts. It was a look that is quite impossible to describe in words, although I did my best in the story.
To the best of my knowledge, there are two PV-2 Harpoons still in flying condition that make the warbird airshow circuits. One is the aircraft I was involved with in those days, the "Hot Stuff" whose nose art depicts a lovely 1940's woman riding astride a torpedo, and another based in California known at the "Attu Warrior." This was the plane that was depicted in the story, not the "Hot Stuff." There is a third PV-2 Harpoon currently being restored to flying condition in Palm Springs, California as well. Perhaps someday you'll get to see one in person.
Again, I appreciate your letter and wish you the very best.