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, and thoughthe was reading my tattoo out loud, but realized 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, I excused mysekf from the old soldier. As I left, I heard the old guy holler – “AIRBORNE” at me when 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.
The old Warrior came to his feet and returned my salute.
– FRATRIBUS SINE PARI –