I recently got home from a visit in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. It’s a long story that extended a short visit to 10 days, but it flew by. I had two goals: deliver my dad’s World War 2 photos and documents to a museum archive and pick up the Unicycling Sailor at his sister’s home. I had a great time with Katie and Terry Hamric as we looked forward to Dave’s return. Eventually we retrieved Dave successfully from Logan Airport in Boston. He had been sailing in the Caribbean and had several unplanned delays.
The 58th Bomb Wing Memoriall is housed in the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. I knew this, because I get their newsletter. My Dad, Jim Drnek, was a World War 2 vet and a member of the 58th.. He was a gunner in a B-29, based in India and on Tinian. They flew “the Hump” – over the Himalayas to refuel before continuing on bombing missions in places like, Bangkok, Saipan and Japan. I have photos, documents, and his diary. Donating items to the museum seemed a good plan to my sister and I. I communicated with the folks there and Katie and I set off cross-country through Connecticut to deliver them.
We spent 2.5 hours with Dave Santos, a Korean Vet, who headed the crew that restored the B-29 housed at the museum. He spends two to three days a week at the museum. He gave us the “VIP tour” and we spent most of the time in the plane. Other visitors see it from the outside. It was fascinating and very emotional for me. Dave alternated between sharing information about the B-29s and his years of restoration and annectdotal stories of the guys that flew them. I got to sit in the gunner’s seat that my father would have occupied as a 21 year old. It made me the idea of what my father did in the war come to life and gave me even more respect for what it involved. A very fitting way to honor his memory. I think he would have approved.
Dartmouth is a beautiful area on the South Coast, below the bottom of Buzzard’s Bay and not far as the crow flies from Newport, RI. We cycled, hiked, gardened, visited Newport, shopped and generally hung out and had a good time. I loved the stone walls everywhere and it felt like all the winding roads lead to water.