Wednesday, March 30th – First Full Day in Florida

Chris, Mike and now Terri are in Florida, at the Rozga house.  No Sun N Fun today, but they still had a full day…. Chris reports…

“Today is one week since we snuck out of Cable into the vast weather system  also known as the  United States.  You might remember my comparison of 5-year-olds with crayons and red on the radar screen.  Well, Ron Meyer obviously was looking at the same radar we were today.  He told me the 5-year-old is loose again with the crayons.  Today in central Florida we had an incredible storm pass through.  Lightening, thunder, wind and tornados.  Well we didn’t make it to Sun and Fun.

We went to Leesburg Airport where the OY-1 is being housed in a hangar and took Tom out to see his girl again.  Tom had a few of his friends come out and join us.  What Tom didn’t know was that we had shipped out the bazookas ahead of time and today we were going to put them on.  Tom was there as they went on and helped install them.  Tom was very excited and asked where we got them.  I reminded him that some questions are better left unanswered since I don’t know if the Russian mafia has figured out that Mike wrote them a bad check for the bazookas. Anyway, Tom really enjoyed the new additions.  Mike test flew the plane with the added gear and there were no problems and it looks really cool!

Later this evening we were able to meet the wife and son of Robert “Bob” Vincent, Esther and Rodney who had just arrived from Benton, Pa to see Bob’s plane that he worked on in WWII.  Bob passed away in 1983 and was a pilot after the war.  Bob was assigned to VMO-4 for all three invasions of Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima.

Tomorrow we hope to have good weather so Mike and Tom can fly the OY-1 down to Sun and Fun and Tom can share with everyone what he and his squadron did.  We are also hoping to meet Lori Kelley who just arrived in Lakeland tonight with her family.

On a side note.  While talking to Tom this morning and looking at the combat diary for VMO-4, Tom told me a story very nonchalantly as if it was just another day.  In 1944, when the the 4th Marine division invaded Saipan, Tom was one of the firt two pilots to land on Saipan after launching from sea.  It was also the first time an OY-1 had ever taken off an aircraft carrier.  We already knew Tom was the first Marine pilot on Iwo Jima when he walked ashore to look for a suitable place to land for his squadron on D-day +2.  But then today, he told me that 3 days before the invasion of Tinian, his squadron received a distress call from a lost American reporter that had gotten onto Tinian before the US had.  The reporter needed to get out and put out the call to anyone listening on the radio.  After verifying it was not an ambush, Tom flew to Tinian in a OY-1 to the only strip there and picked up the reporter 3 days before the invasion by any other US forces.  So….. Tom was one of the first pilots on Saipan and to take off from a carrier, was the first pilot on Tinian and was the first pilot on Iwo Jima when he walked ashore.  It’s amazing what these men did.

If you have any veterans that you know and they haven’t told you their story, ask them.  You will be surprised what you hear.  If you wait too long though, they may not be around to ask…….”

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