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 oldest 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.
– FRATRIBUS SINE PARI –