Three Stars on His Wings

Three Stars on His Wings
Gideon D. Asche

Recently, I had one of those experiences that made me realize how intensely insignificant most things are in light of the big picture.  I think It will stick with me, and help to remind me to never forget those who went before us.

Nothing irritates me more than associating with humanity.  There is a reason I’m a hermit and live in the middle of nowhere.  Oh, I go down-country when I need wine or some other staple of life, but as a general rule, I avoid humanity like gonorrhea.

Recently, I had to go down to the hospital at Travis  AFB, about some warranty work.  I got the munchies on the way home, and there is a BBQ place about an hour from my house, so I stopped.

To my disgust, the place was packed, and they were setting up a birthday party.  A birthday party –  I was already there, so I decided to put up with it long enough to get my brisket and run.

The “Birthday Boy” arrived – An old man in his late 80’s or early 90’s wearing a John Deere hat.  The hat caught my attention – it had 10 or 12 lapel pins, one of them was a Deuce (82nd Airborne Division) shoulder patch. I figured one of his grandkids was in the 82nd.

Then I saw the wings… 

It was the oldeswingst set of jump wings I have ever seen in my life. The relief was more pronounced, and they were much higher quality than anything we are issued today –  But it was the THREE stars that gave me pause.  For those who don’t know, each bronze star represents a combat jump.

Most of us go our entire careers without any and this guy had three.

I didn’t realize I was staring until I caught him staring back.  I told him I had a set of wings like his…  but NOT with 3 stars – The old Soldier said he would have 4 stars, but he was wounded on Market Garden and missed a jump.  –  He followed up with, “Then the Japanese gave up before we got a chance to jump into Tokyo.”

He spoke to me in Hebrew, I was just a little shocked, he was reading my tattoo out loud, but I could tell he was reciting God’s promise to the Sicarii from memory.

He said he was at KZ Salzwedel when it was liberated.  A Jewish Paratrooper at KZ Salzwedel …  I bet the next enemy soldier he came across felt the effects of that experience and was given no quarter.

I felt tiny – in a good way, but completely insignificant in the presence of this Warrior.

My BBQ was ready, and as I left, I heard the old guy holler – “AIRBORNE” at me as I got the door.

I could think of nothing else to do – so I simply came to attention and rendered a salute

Ever the Soldier, Ever the Paratrooper, he came to his feet and returned my salute.


– Gid

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