Friday, August 05, 2011

It's Just Elmer's Tune

Copied from The Borg Conspiracy

It was a typical morning on the hills and meadows surrounding Kettering and other places in lower England and the midlands. All was as it should be and all was as it was and as it had remained for quite a long time now. Everything was in order. The aircraft were parked wing tip to wing tip, prepared for the day's adventures. No more need for worry of enemy attacks, as that had long ago all been settled.

No more war, those who are stationed here now, are those who once long ago lifted off to go fight their adversaries across the way, but that has long since passed. They are all here now, both planes and crews, un-tethered to;time and each day their mission is simply to relive the times in their lives when they were young and in love and serving a great purpose.

They were in love with their country, in love with their sweethearts back home and they were in love with leaving the ground to brush the clouds and touch the face of God, even if that meant the danger that they all knew lay ahead each day.;But none of that mattered to them now. Those fears and anxieties were all in the past. A long ago past that not many still remember and all too many here recalled with regularity. But not with sorrow, for each had done his part and they were all proud of their history and their lives.
Their is no anger or fear here now. There are no enemies, only love. All pain and sorrow have been washed away and replaced with the joys of friendship and love and the mutual love of what once was and what will always be. All that remains now is their camaraderie and their daily ability to now do something that they truly dreamed of so long ago. To touch the face of God? They each now have done so and they have each now seen that face.

These men, many of whom were not far from being boys, who flew off to fight for the love in their hearts and what remained back home. They didn't fight their enemies out of hatred, they fought them because that was what was right. They were on the right side of right and wrong and they fought along side each other with mutual respect. They shared their dreams and their hopes and their aspirations and they shared their fears. All of it happening above twenty thousand feet and in skies far from their homes and their loves

Today was another day to rejoice. They were welcoming home another brother. Someone who had been a long time coming, but none the less they all knew, would one day re-appear. He was a little more paunchy than they recalled, but then again? He hadn't received his new uniform issue yet, nor had he visited the saints yet and become born anew in his new body. That was all to come, but for now there he stood. A bit bewildered while all the memories and the faces came flooding back. They all looked just as they always had. Their uniforms now crisp and no longer battle weary. But it was the faces that really intrigued him. They all seemed to be ageless, just as he remembered them, nothing had changed in all the years. How could that be?

The first to come forward to extend a hand was Elmer Gillespie, the pilot. He said: "welcome home Gene, it's been a long time." Then one by one, each member of the crew stepped forward, they all embraced. There was Ted Chapman, the co-pilot and David Taylor, the Bombardier. There was Hodge Mason the navigator and Don Zirbel the engineer. There was Charlie McFall, the radio operator and now there was Elmer Browning the ball turret gunner, Gene to his friends and all of his friends were here. They were all here to meet him, to welcome him home. Just as he remembered them and just as he had always hoped they would be.

Gene was overwhelmed, there was so much to take in and so much that he wanted to say. Captain Gillespie and the others knew what Gene was feeling, they had all experienced it themselves when they arrived. The captain took Gene by the shoulders and said "just let me look at you old friend, you made it farther than any of us. There will be time for all of your questions, but first you must realize that here now, there is no time. So let's get you checked in, there is a gentleman I want you to meet, his name is Peter. He has been here for quite a long time. From the beginning."

Captain Gillespie then took Gene by the shoulder and led him up a hill to a place so beautiful.;A place where it seemed like one could look and see all of eternity. A man approached and said "Gene, I am Peter and I am here to verify your reservation. According to our files? You are exactly where you are supposed to be and you are welcomed with the love and light of all the angels of Heaven."

And when those words were spoken, there was suddenly a chorus of heavenly voices. Voices of acclamation and a transcending of the Holy Spirit that came and settled around Gene. In a twinkling, he was anew. his body of old, the one he had brought with him when he arrived was now gone. Replaced by the one of his youth. He could immediately feel the difference, as if suddenly their was muscle and sinew that he had not known in decades. Nothing ached any longer and his eyes were once again sharp and crisp and as he looked down at his body he could see the uniform taking shape around him. The one he had worn so many years ago. Like Captain Gillespie and the others, all new and crisp and his Air Corps hat gently settled on his head.

With those realizations, Gene looked up and Peter looked upon him and said welcome home Gene, all is now well.Captain Gillespie took Gene's hand and began to lead him down the hill back toward the others. Then suddenly he stopped and told Gene to turn and look, as he did, Gene saw what he thought was the most beautiful sunrise that he had ever experienced. Knowing Gene's thoughts before he could ask them, Captain Gillespie looked at Gene and said: "isn't he beautiful Gene?" That is the face of God. That which we have all sought for so long, only now to be able to gaze upon him. Yes Gene, he is here with us as is the son and they are pleased to see you at home once again. There will be time for that also, but remember? There is no time here, only love and happiness and the presence of the father and those who we loved.

As Gene arrived back in the grassy meadows among those parked on the flight line, he thought to himself and then remarked, "this place looks a lot like Kettering." Hodge Mason leaned in and said: "It is Kettering Gene, just as it existed back in our time. Only now it is as it was meant to be. It is as we always dreamed for it to be. It is now a place for our dreams to become our reality." With that, David Taylor the bombardier looked at Gene and said: "You ready to go back up? We are about ready for today's reconnaissance flight." Gene said where are we headed? And David said: "Well, we will swing through Ipswich and a few other places and pick up the main formations, then we will be off to France and Belgium and Germany and all the old familiar places. And today? We will take a couple of detours to do fly overs of Illinois and Georgia, just for you. I'll bet you always wondered what they would look like from above.

And with those words, they all began to crawl into a brand new and shiny B-17. It was just like the one they had picked up so long ago and flown to Europe, but this one was different. There were no guns. Only Plexiglas portholes for viewing. Gene's ball turret was there also, but this time there was no targeting window or twin 50's to be crammed inside with.

As the plane taxied out with the others, it seemed as if they all just lifted up together as if on the wings of doves. And they were flying again. The entire crew. The complete crew now that Gene was with them. Gene went over and hit the switch and rotated the ball down and there was the hatch to the turret. He opened it and seemingly just stepped right in. Everything was as he remembered it. The controls were all there, there just weren't any guns. That is when Gene suddenly noticed, that his hearing had returned perfectly. Not for the last sixty six years had he heard as he was hearing now. He hadn't noticed it when talking to Captain Gillespie and Peter and the others, but now it was obvious. He could hear like a kid again.

As the plane banked and turned, Gene noticed that there were fighters closing. JU 88's and ME-109's, but they weren't in attack formations. They were coming up to meet them. Gene was truly amazed and a German pilot flew up so close to his turret that Gene could see the medals on his uniform. And there were no guns! Just a beautiful aircraft, just like the one that Gene was now in. The German slid back his canopy and smartly saluted, then slid the canopy forward and peeled off to rejoin his group. Gene now wondered: "was that one of the men that he had taken out of the sky so many years ago?" It didn't seem to matter, as they were all together now and there was no more war and no more fighting. Only love and respect.

About that time the pilot and the formation banked sharply to the right and began descending. They were coming in below 10.000 feet now and still descending. The features of the ground seemed familiar. Gene suddenly realized they were flying over his old home in Illinois and there was the old Hyster plant where he had worked for so many years after the war. Then just as suddenly, the bomber banked hard to the left and Gene began to see that they were descending upon his home in Georgia. There it was, the flag pole in his front yard with his American flag and Distinguished Flying Cross flags still flying. Then just as suddenly, it was as if the bomber stopped in time and began to hover. Something a B-17 is not supposed to do. At first it scared Gene, his hearing was now perfect, yet it was as if the engines had simply stopped. There was no engine noise and not even the sound of wind. It was as if they were in a cloud bank, everything had stopped.

That was when Captain Gillespie came on the intercom to Gene and said: "Eyes forward and down to the six O'clock Gene, this is for you." And the clouds suddenly parted and there it was. That beautiful place that he had told his wife Melba about. The place that he wanted to be. And there they all were. Melba, his family and all of his friends.They were all there. They were paying their last respects. There was a full honor guard and a rifle squad, there was the bugler, each as he had told his beloved Melba that he wanted. And they were all gathered on this beautiful day at this beautiful place to remember him.

The silence was replaced by the clear sound of rifle fire, twenty one times. Then the solemn playing of Taps on the bugle. Then came the folding of the flag and the words by those who loved Gene and whom had been brought together to be there with his beloved wife Melba. Gene cried, the first tears that he had shed in his new body, but they were not tears of sorrow, they were tears of joy. Everything was as he had always wanted it to be. Melba had seen to it and they had all remembered. And now, they were were all standing for one last time before they lowered his old body into the ground. Gene saw all of that too. The meticulous care that had been taken to insure that he looked his best. How could he not have loved all of these people, each and every one of them.

Gene didn't know what to say. Here he sat in his turret, suspended in time with an unobstructed view of all of the love that he had created in life. And here they all were now, paying tribute, seeing him off and making sure that his gal Melba was taken care of. Gene felt like standing and saluting them, but even with the guns gone from the turret, that simply wasn't possible. So he simply saluted them and silently thanked each and everyone of them for being part of his life. That is when Gene suddenly felt a hand on his shoulder. It was a familiar hand, it had a familiar feel. Gene turned to look and there was this young man, some how sitting right behind him. The young man was smiling and he introduced himself. He said, "you don't remember me Gene, because we never really met. You see? I was a ball turret gunner too.

"Do you remember that one mission where the hatch came open on your turret and you almost fell out? You later told people that as you were struggling to stay inside the turret and being buffeted by the wind, that you suddenly felt a hand on your back side and that hand pushed you back inside and the hatch was closed. Remember?" Gene said oh yes, I remember that!The young man said: "well that was me Gene. You see, me and my crew had gone down on a mission a few days before and when I saw you in trouble, I just knew that I had to do something. So I gave you that little shove and I have been waiting to meet you in person for a long time. I am glad to finally make your acquaintance." The young man said: "I'll see you around," and just as quickly he was gone.

Gene looked down again and they were finishing the service and once again he was over come with both joy and thanks for all who had come. Captain Gillespie then came on the intercom and told Gene that there was one more thing to do. The plane suddenly came to life again and just as suddenly it was in a formation of three other B-17's and as Gene looked down, he saw that the formation was lining up over the Georgia National Cemetery. They were coming in low at around two thousand feet and as they came over those departing the service, Captain Gillespie pulled back on the stick and the plane rocketed toward heaven and back toward their base. Gene didn't know what to say but the captain cleared his thoughts by telling him: "the father wanted you to see it Gene. The love. That's something we all get to bring with us and he wanted you to see that it still remains in the hearts of all of those who knew you. Welcome home buddy."

And with that, the B-17 banked to the left and descended back into the grass at Kettering with all the others who had flown Gene's mission that day. As they all rolled to a stop on the flight line, the ground crews appeared and chocked wheels and aligned props. And as Gene and his crew exited the aircraft, they all came around and gave him hugs and salutes and told him of all the catching up that remained to be done. They said:"It's good to see you again Brownie."

As they turned and all began walking toward their quarters, suddenly Gene remembered. At first it was just a melody rambling around in his head, but the words soon came back to him.

Why are the stars always winkin' and blinkin' above?
What makes a fellow start thinkin' of fallin' in love?
It's not the season, the reason is plain as the moon
It's just Elmer's Tune

What makes a lady of eighty go out on the loose?
Why does a gander meander in search of a goose?
What puts the kick in a chicken, the magic in June?
It's just Elmer's Tune

Elmer's Tune......they were all finally together again and all seemed so right. And Gene remembered the words that he had spoken during one of his talks not so long ago. When he told those assembled of being a boy raised in a railroad shack and living a miserable life. And then of joining the Army Air Corps during the war when he was eighteen and how in the end, he believed that he had had a good life. He had had a good life, he knew that now for sure. Just as he knew that one day his gal Melba would be here with him. So he better get busy preparing for that, cause there is no time here he'd been told. But first, he had some catching up to do..

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