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Mail Call - The Greatest Generation



The soldiers patiently waited to board the plane, perhaps their last mission. Their military haircuts were as sharp as their pant creases. Their eyes exhumed not only calmness, but the wisdom of a life lived to its fullest.

 

Their calloused hands and crinkled smiles showed a hard life, but a life worth living and perhaps dying for.

 

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are proud to welcome on board thirty-three World War II Veterans. At Alaska Airlines, we would like to thank them for their dedication and service to our country.” The flight attendant announced over a warm applause from the passengers.

 

Departing Ronald Reagan International Airport, the boys saw their last glimpse of Washington, DC, the nation’s capital they helped defend from the world’s tyrants.

 

“Ladies and gentlemen, we will be conducting a mail call this afternoon on today’s flight. Will the service men please ring the attendant button when their name is called, that would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.”

 

This announcement created a buzz on the eastbound flight heading to Seattle, Washington. During the war, mail calls were the soldier’s only lifeline to their loved ones back home.

 

Harold Wyninger, a third-generation German Swede from a small fishing and logging town in Aberdeen WA, sat quietly reflecting on his past week. 

 

Sitting back in the seat of the Boeing 737, he wore khaki pants and a blue dress shirt that made his eyes sparkle. A smartphone, newspaper, and a cup of coffee were strategically placed on the tray table, maximizing the limited square inches afforded to him.

 

The years of living out of an 80lb rucksack on the battlefield trained the mind to utilize resources wisely. A skill that was useful as he navigated his career working the plywood mills in the Pacific Northwest.

 

“Private First Class Wyninger you have mail.” The flight attendant blurted out interrupting the drone of the aircraft engines.

 

A large envelope was delivered to the soldier. Opening the package were stacks of letters and cards.

 

“Thank you for your service, Grandpa” the letter was written accompanied by a stick figure drawing of a young boy saluting. “Can’t wait for you to come home….”

 

As the sun set into the horizon, tears streamed down his cheek as he held the letter in his hand. He takes off his glasses, wiping his tears with his handkerchief. A warm smile emerges as he looks out the airplane window.

 

At 87 years old, he reflects on his life; a simple life, a soldier’s life, a life worth living.

 

Thank you for your service, Uncle Harold.

4 comments

4 Comments


Guest
Jun 11

Very well written!

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Guest
Jun 09

This caused tears in my eyes. It made me think about my brother, one of the Tuskegee Airmen who had to fight for the right to pilot planes for this country. Some of the officials did not believe they were good enough to go fly. The real story of their struggle is told in HBO's "Tuskegee Airmen" Story. They never lost a bomber to enemy fighters.

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❤️❤️❤️

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Love this so much!!!

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