Dad, sometimes I wonder...by Owen Zupp

Owen Zupp - Monday, July 31, 2017

 

 

 

Having heard yet another tale from my childhood, my son has recently taken to collecting discarded aluminium cans to make some pocket money. Yesterday, I took him ‘can hunting’ and as we drove in our car, he asked me a simple question, “If you had a wish dad, what would it be?” I gave some irrelevant answer stemming from my concentration divided between the road and that nagging list that bubbles in the back of the mind. For my son, there was no such lack of clarity.

“I wish I could bring grandad back to life.”

I felt negligent that I hadn’t given his enquiry due thought, but I also felt pride that he had obviously been contemplating the question in a manner that defied his years. Later that morning, we wandered around a fete at our local sports ground. He clambered over inflatable obstacle courses and attempted to catch the fake ‘snow’ that was being generated to mark Christmas in July, as one would expect a young lad to do.

 

 

 

However, the fete’s deeper purpose was to raise awareness of the Cancer Council and its sterling work. Given his earlier question, I explained to my son that it was cancer that had taken his grandad. Again, I could see his young mind at work.

“Dad, I’m going to give my can money to the Cancer Council. They need it more than me.”

These are the moments that a father treasures.

I sometimes wonder what my dad would think about how my life has turned out – who I’ve become, what I’ve done and where I’ve been. I know that he would have adored the girl that I married and the kids we share. Still, sometimes I find myself pondering the thought.

And then, through a simple act or a word from one of our children, I know he is not far away at all. He lives on in their smiles, their laughter, their honesty and their cheeky grin.

Rest in peace Dad. It’s been 26 years today.

 

 

 

Remembering Pearl Harbor by Owen Zupp

Owen Zupp - Tuesday, July 11, 2017

 

 

In writing ‘Without Precedent’, I have become acutely aware of how the sacrifice of our servicemen can be forgotten if history is not preserved. By contrast, the story of Pearl Harbor is well known. Through all available mediums, the events of December 7th, 1941 have been revisited, analysed and reported in just about every way imaginable. Yet, to visit the site of that ‘day of infamy’ conveys emotions and thoughts that no amount of special effects will ever capture.

 

And on that hallowed soil the story of sacrifice is both respected and preserved through a range of memorials and museums. Of these, without argument, the most emotive is the USS Arizona. Arching across the sunken vessel, the pure white monument bears the names of those lost on that day. Beneath the visitors’ feet lies the grave of so many men and one cannot help but feel the loss and sense the sorrow as oil still slips to the surface after more than 75 years. Some say they are the sailors’ tears and who am I to disagree.

 

 

Elsewhere, one can wander through museums that recount the day through imagery, anecdotes and artefacts. The USS Bowfish permits a first-hand glimpse into the life of a submariner as the mammoth USS Missouri still stands guard over the sunken Arizona. Visitors can walk upon her historic decks. Decks that have seen a life stretching from just beyond World War One to the conflict in Vietnam. Decks that have survived the ferocious impact of a failed Kamikaze attack and hosted the solemnity of the final surrender signing in Tokyo Bay at the close of the Second World War. If only those decks could speak.

 

On Ford Island, the orange and white candy-striped tower stands, just as it did on that fateful day when the nearby hangars were strafed and aircraft were set ablaze. Those hangars still carry the bullet holes, but within their walls the story has survived through the Pacific Aviation Museum. A range of aircraft of friend and foe tell the story, not just of Pearl Harbor, but of the Pacific air war. Massive murals and maps detail the conflict and at every turn another first-hand account is related. Some are of veterans and others are of civilian pilots that were caught aloft that day - including the famed Cornelia Fort. Another famed aviatrix, Amelia Earhart, has ties to the Hawaiian Island and her story is also wonderfully presented.

 

For children young and old, a ‘simulator experience’ is available, but for those anxious to see more real aircraft, there is another hangar full of exhibits. Warbirds young and old, propeller and jet, across numerous conflicts now stand guard in the safety of this historic building. From time to time a veteran sits quietly - a gentleman who was there that fateful day. His words span the divide between a world at war and grasp the attention of all that pause to listen.

 

Yes, this is all hallowed ground. It calls for one to stop and pause. With eyes closed, imagine the deafening noise, the chaos and the tragedy. And then silently consider the sacrifice with the reverence it deserves. Pearl Harbor is not alone in the world as a site of war’s tragedy and a place to pay tribute, but it is very special in the varied means that it conveys its message. I have been there before and I shall go again. To Pause. To remember.

 

Lest We Forget.

 

 

Read ‘Just Another Flight’ by clicking here.

Just another flight.....by Owen Zupp

Owen Zupp - Sunday, July 09, 2017

 

 

Just another flight. In the wee hours and across the continent. And yet in those hours there were so many sights to be seen as the near full moon illuminated the sky and gave form to the landscape below.

 

Although the jet stream of wind was blowing at nearly 200 miles per hour in its core, the air was as smooth as glass. Only the vector on the instrument display and the readout of speed over the ground gave any indication of the invisible torrent outside. Then there was a light, bright and white at first, and holding steady ahead and to the right. Glancing at the display again, the Traffic Collision and Avoidance system, or TCAS, did not indicate the presence of another aircraft and yet there it was, growing brighter and larger in the windscreen.

 

Just as a heightened state of readiness began to pervade the flight deck, the light began to slide down the right-hand side of the aircraft at a distance that was difficult to gauge, but not too close at hand. It now tinged red and began to display a wispy tail behind it like a supersonic, blazing tadpole. A meteor? Space junk? Whichever it was, its 20 seconds of spectacular glory began to fade until it was a mere rust-coloured pin-prick. And then it was gone.

 

Under that same moon, just a little older, another blinking light lay ahead. This time it was Venus announcing the day was very near as the distant lights of the coast began to compete with the burgeoning dawn. The moon in its glory was now behind us as a soft orange crescent arced along the horizon ahead. Venus rose high and her blinking steadied to a noble planetary gaze, her job now done.

 

As the shore slipped beneath the belly, the sun was yet to break cover, but its light was still bold enough to cast shadows from the ranges that lay just inland. The moon, still bold, had taken on tiger stripes as thin ribbons of cloud contrasted with its golden glow. Over water, no waves were breaking, only a large vessel spewing its own arcing fountain created even a ripple.

 

With the runway ahead and cleared to land, the control tower advised that the wind was calm - probably because 'magically still' is not standard phraseology in the world of aviation. The wheels squeaked onto the runway, apologising for disrupting nature’s perfect peace. As the aircraft reached its parking bay, the sun finally announced its arrival with a fresh, fiery sky, laced with pink-tinged clouds.

 

Yeah, just another flight.

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