Gone West

 

This page commemorates Aviators who have "Gone West" or passed away that have been connected with Air Group One.  The Commemorative Air Force thanks our members, volunteers and never forgets their efforts and sacrifices. 

One More Roll

We toast our hearty comrades who have fallen from the skies, and were gently caught by God’s own hand to be with Him on High.

To dwell among the soaring clouds they’ve known so well before. From victory roll to tail chase, at heaven’s very door.

As we fly among them there, we’re sure to head their plea. To take care my friend, watch your six, and do one more roll for me.

— Commander Jerry Coffee, Hanoi, 1968



Flying West

I hope there's a place, way up in the sky
Where pilots can go when they have to die.

A place where a guy could buy a cold beer
For a friend and a comrade whose memory is dear. A place where no doctor or lawyer could tread, nor a management-type would e'ler be caught dead!

Just a quaint little place, kind of dark, full of smoke,
Where they like to sing loud, and love a good joke.
The kind of a place that a lady could go
And feel safe and secure by the men she would know.

There must be a place where old pilots go,
When their wings become heavy, when their airspeed gets low, where the whiskey is old, and the women are young, and songs about flying and dying are sung.


Where you'd see all the fellows who'd 'flown west' before, and they'd call out your name, as you came through the door, who would buy you a drink, if your thirst should be bad, and relate to the others, "He was quite a good lad!"

And there, through the mist, you'd spot an old guy
You had not seen in years, though he'd taught you to fly. He'd nod his old head, and grin ear to ear

And say, "Welcome, my Son, I'm proud that you're here!

For this is the place where true flyers come
When the battles are over, and the wars have been won.

They've come here at last, to be safe and alone,

From the government clerk, and the management clone; Politicians and lawyers, the Feds, and the noise, where all hours are happy, and these good ol' boys can relax with a cool one, and a well deserved rest!

This is Heaven, my Son. You've passed your last test!"

— Captain Michael J. Larkin, TWA (Ret.), 'Air Line Pilot' magazine, February 1995

JUST A COMMON SOLDIER 

(A Soldier Died Today)

by A. Lawrence Vaincourt

He was getting old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast, and he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past. Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done, in his exploits with his buddies; they were heroes, every one. 

And tho' sometimes, to his neighbors, his tales became a joke, all his Legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke. But we'll hear his tales no longer for old Bill has passed away, and the world's a little poorer, for a soldier died today.

He will not be mourned by many, just his children and his wife, for he lived an ordinary and quite uneventful life.Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way, and the world won't note his passing, though a soldier died today. 

When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state, While thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great. Papers tell their whole life stories, from the time that they were young, but the passing of a soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land a guy who breaks his promises and cons his fellow man? Or the ordinary fellow who, in times of war and strife, goes off to serve his Country and offers up his life?

A politician's stipend and the style in which he lives are sometimes disproportionate to the service that he gives. While the ordinary soldier, who offered up his all, is paid off with a medal and perhaps, a pension small.

It's so easy to forget them for it was so long ago, that the old Bills of our Country went to battle, but we know It was not the politicians, with their compromise and ploys, who won for us the freedom that our Country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand, would you want a politician with his ever-shifting stand? Or would you prefer a soldier, who has sworn to defend His home, his kin and Country and would fight until the end?

He was just a common soldier and his ranks are growing thin, but his presence should remind us we may need his like again. For when countries are in conflict, then we find the soldier's part Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honor while he's here to hear the praise, then at least let's give him homage at the ending of his days. Perhaps just a simple headline in a paper that would say, Our Country is in mourning, for a soldier died today.

© 1987 A. Lawrence Vaincourt