May 19

It’s time to fill the sky with C-47s. Our goal today is Goose Bay in Labrador, Canada. Conditions were marginal on the way to Presque Isle, Maine, where the town suggested a Squadron visit for “cheap fuel and lunch.” Indeed, it will be the best fuel price we see for at least a week.

The people of Presque Isle were magnificent. They applauded, listened to stories about D-Day and the Berlin Airlift, and thoroughly enjoyed their tours of the aircraft. This former Army Air Corps base has affected virtually every local family through employment, experiences, or simply as a centerpiece for municipal pride. As the first American town reached by returning European wounded in WWII, it provided medical care and rest. Our visit attracted people with their own, rich stories of DC-3s, WWII, planes with radial engines and the history of the base, particularly during the Cold War when it hosted advanced missile defense systems.

Their appreciation was real. Two of our pilots left the airport to update a data card and perhaps acquire some thermos bottles for coffee. An enterprising member of the town council learned of their whereabouts and agenda, purchased the thermoses and filled them with coffee from a friend’s business, Dunkin Donuts, then returned the pilots to the airport in a limousine from his car collection. I love small towns.

Another example of generosity should be shared. One of our ride patrons at Oxford seemed to be especially impressed by what HFF offers and our D-Day mission. This patron gave my brother an envelope with a request that it be delivered to me once we had left the area. In addition to a nice note, the envelope contained several thousand dollars raised by a small group the evening before. I am beginning to understand the importance of our mission.

John Sessions