Friday, November 11, 2016

Another Veterans Day

My father is at far right, standing.
Blaine Corbin, the waist gunner, had just been killed by flak,
so the crew of nine is now eight.

A Veterans Day post in memory of a 17-year-old Georgia sharecropper's boy who joined up with the Army Air Corps 91st Bomb Group and fought as tail gunner on the Incendiary Blonde during World War II...

Requiescat in pace, Hubert L. Youmans. You traveled a long way, up from the Minnie farm. Major Youmans. Professor Youmans. My father.


A Front
by Randall Jarrell

Fog over the base: the beams ranging
From the five towers pull home from the night
The crews cold in fur, the bombers banging
Like lost trucks down the levels of the ice.
A glow drifts in like mist (how many tons of it?),
Bounces to a roll, turns suddenly to steel
And tyres and turrets, huge in the trembling light.
The next is high, and pulls up with a wail,
Comes round again - no use. And no use for the rest
In drifting circles out along the range;
Holding no longer, changed to a kinder course,
The flights drone southward through the steady rain.
The base is closed...But one voice keeps on calling,
The lowering pattern of the engines grows;
The roar gropes downward in its shaky orbit
For the lives the season quenches. Here below
They beg, order, are not heard; and hear the darker
Voice rising: Can't you hear me? Over. Over -
All the air quivers, and the east sky glows.

One of the many things that I want to do (too many!) is to transcribe my father's mission notes. Maybe I'll get to that in the coming year.

6 comments:

  1. Those who fought in WW2 were engaged in one of most important challenges to evil, and I cannot imagine the world if that evil have not been vanquished. Yes, we owe those warriors our gratitude, prayers, and remembrance; your posting goes a long way to making that important offering, and I hope you will someday soon complete and share your planned project.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm thinking that I should do it soon. It includes the mission where Blaine Corbin died. Sad.

      Delete
  2. One of my professors in college had been a B-17 pilot; I remember discussing Jarrell with him, and his quoting the ending of "Eighth Air Force": "Men wash their hands in blood as best they can/I find no fault with this just man."


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I like "Eight Air Force." Just wanted to use one less well known. But that's very interesting--Jarrell must have meant a lot to literary-minded flyboys. Nobody can touch him in that arena.

      My father trained as a pilot when he started out... I find it so strange to think of him as a teenager from the absolute barren and unimproved sticks, flying a plane.

      Delete
  3. Like the poem but then you'd expect me too, wouldn't you? Most poets ignore technology, perhaps a'feared of appearing laddish. But open up a common-or-garden gearbox and revel in toothed wheels compressed into tight efficiency. Gleaming with oil that's winning its battle over friction. A man-made jewel born to take advantage of physics, maths and metallurgy, and to compensate for the ineluctable shortcomings of an internal combustion engine. There's a world of thought down there.

    Please do your Dad's mission notes. As a filial tribute for what he has wrought - bringing you to our attention. It will be different work and one profits from different work, the mind learns new tricks. Not that you're short of them.

    Besides you're part way there; you use the lingo; waist gunner for instance.

    As you know we wear poppies to remind us of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month at a time which still bleeds fresh blood. England played Scotland at soccer yesterday and both intended to go on to the field wearing poppies. FIFA, arguably the most cynical of all sports administration bodies ever, forbade them, saying it would be "political". The teams did it anyway and the guys in your photograph look like the sort that would have done it too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I would. That's a good tribute to the laddish in poems! And I think you can put anything in a poem that you can get away with--the problem is that many people can't get away with all that much, isn't it?

      I do believe you're right--that people (and poetry) benefit from learning new tricks. Doing that is definitely on my list. It's a very long list, though. I'm fond of lingo. Lingo, not jargon. You knew that!

      I like the soccer story. My husband had on a poppy yesterday at work... And I'm sure you're right about the crew. They were brave and boisterous. My father's hand looks a bit odd in the photograph because it's swollen from a fight the night before--the future professor of analytical chemistry on his evening out.

      Delete

Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.