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, 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 –

– Gid

3 thoughts on “Three Stars on His Wings

  1. This makes me tear up. Every year for the past 33 years my siblings and I revisit my fathers service record.

    He too made a combat jump. Unfortunately, no manifest or daily reports exist to substantiate the claim.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lack of recordkeeping has denied many their awards but you should be obnoxiously proud of your father.

      The men he went out the door with know he was there.

      And I assure you, they are the ones who matter to him.

      Like

      1. Yes; his life was a testament to that. Among his effects: a Queens Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada Cap badge, His service compass, with the mysterious etchings 504/509, His Case V42 knife. (The scabbard covered with places etched onto it); a faded photo of my father and two men, and a newspaper article. —- in which tells of being dropped in behind enemy lines; and how they fought hand to hand for 45 days. My father was an original member of the First Special Service Force. (A unit that never made a combat jump) …. imagine such a bald face lie?

        Here’s a curiosity. The Avellino jump was 9/15/43, the faded photo is dated Nov 1/43 in Naples. — that’s 45 days. Avellino is on the knife. My father was wounded at La Defensa; we always assumed he was shipped home, but the dates don’t fit. (My father lost his hearing, when an 88 landed near him and he was taught to read lips. His discharge was 6/3/44. The newspaper article is about him re/enlisting into the 82nd Airborne… again, no paperwork to prove it; other that three Selective Service cards. The first from the VA hospital local. With the listing of an appendectomy scar, the second had no injuries and the final card dated 12/22/44 list a gun shot wound to the knee. The newspaper article covers that. …. and I like to mention, my father had a metal plate in his head, he didn’t get that at Cassino. In all likelihood he was wounded again. (Here’s what we found out this year: 4F was the only thing keeping people out of the war in December. He was a Combat Sergeant, who was Airborne qualified.

        I thank you for the indulgence. Through this experience I have learned a great deal of history.

        Like

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