Monday, March 14, 2011

My shrine to Pip

This is my grandfather, Reginald Paquin-- a.k.a. pèpére, a.k.a. Pip. He died when I was 11. He was more of a father to me than my biological father ever was and I can only hope I live to be half the man he was. He was in the Air Force all his life. I'm not sure of the date of the photo, but it must have been sometime during WWII.

He brought the two sake cups back from Japan after the war. He hollowed out the .50 caliber bullets and turned them into salt and pepper shakers. Before he died, he got really into making doll house furniture. We are kindred spirits in many ways and I am unable to express how deeply I miss him. I couldn't possibly count the times in the last few years I wished he was here.

I have so many questions I'd like to ask and so much I'd love to tell him. But more than anything, I wish he could have met my son, his great grandson. I can imagine the way he would smile at him and the stories he would tell. I can hear his voice, clear as if it were yesterday, when he thought something was cool, he'd say it was "real George."

Pip was in the 43rd and 101st bomb wings and worked on B-52s. He was stationed at Carswell AFB when he retired and when I was young, I was on the base every other weekend for church and breakfast at the NCO Club. I still remember seeing the B-52s lined up on the runways and remember hearing them scream and rumble overhead.

Turns out there's a B-52 at the March Field Museum about an hour from here in Riverside that was stationed at Carswell in the '70s. So I took the boy to go see her.

It's a little hard to wrap your head around just how big these birds are. They're huge. They were also so well-built that many of them will be in service until 2020, making them the longest-serving planes in military history.

Getting the entire plane in the frame close up proved to be impossible. But the boy sure did love seeing it after reading about it for the past few months. He's on this bigger is better kick right now, so he was happy to see this giant. But for me, I just couldn't shake the thought that maybe, just maybe, Pip had touched this exact bird.

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