We were sitting down, stuffing our faces with some delicious Dairy Queen dilly bars, the perfect addition to a hot day at D-Day Ohio (more on that later), and I saw this darling fly boy watching us. So I popped over and introduced myself. He said "I was wondering when you were going to come over." So I laughed and asked him where he was from. He said,
"Have you ever heard of Shakespeare? Stratford on Avon? I'm from Stratford."
Turns out Mr. Brookes was born and raised to with his English parents in the hometown of the beloved writer of all things remarkable, William Shakespeare. In 1931, when he was 9 years old, his parents immigrated to Pittsburgh for a "better life." When the war came he joined the Air Corps and trained as a flight engineer in Texas, and then was stationed in New Mexico training new airmen. Towards the end of the war he was sent to Guam to get ready for the big move on Japan but thankfully it all ended before things came to that. He also mentioned he had a brother who was a flame-thrower in Saipan.
While we were talking, he opened his wallet and pulled out an old picture of an adorable gal with fluffy blonde hair. Very proudly he introduced me to his wife. "I met her on a furlough, and married her on the next one a year later. " he pulled another picture out and said "This is from the day we met!" I can think of few things more precious and loving than a 95 year old gentleman, 70+ years later still carrying with him for all the world to see and admire a picture of not only his life long sweetheart, but the day he met her!
The whole time we talked, I couldn't help imagining him as a darling rosy-cheeked 9 year old, English boy coming to our country, learning the American way, fighting for both our countries, and now, our Mr. Brookes, a lovely gentleman of 95 relating these stories.