by Jann Gargiulo — Did you know that the Blue Angels are with the NAVY? I didn’t. I guess I just assumed because they demonstrate so much air power that they are with the Air Force. You see, I’m not from the West Coast. On the East Coast, especially where I lived close to D.C., you would be going to see the Thunderbirds! They were created in 1953. Just a few short years after the Air Force in 1947. See, I know these things because my oldest brother, Ray, joined the Air Force in 1951, right after graduating High School.
I was three-years-old, Ruthie was two, and Buddy was just a baby when Ray joined the Air Force. When he left the first time I was crying uncontrollably. My mom told me to calm down. She told me, “He is coming back.” I believed her, so I calmed down.
We all enjoyed our playing and gardening through the summer. Then the older kids went back to school, and it was just the two of us and mom was pregnant. So daddy told us to help mom by doing the dishes like the big girls did … only don’t break any. We did fine and had fun. We had lunch, took our nap and helped mom after we did our coloring “homework” momma gave us.
It took me a month or so until I realized that I didn’t really miss Ray! He always yelled at us, like he was our dad instead of brother! (I heard one of the older boys say that.)
Mom gave birth to Buddy in November, and shortly after Ray came back home. Mom was right he DID come back! But after the holidays he had to go back to the Air Force. I told him when he left that he would never come back to live. I said, “You’re gonna meat a woman an’ git married, and only come back for a visit,” as I was crying. At least that got me a big hug! And, I was right!
My parents were always looking for inexpensive ways to entertain the 11 of us kids. Daddy liked taking us places so we could see things other kids saw. We missed so many things because of the money issue. My parents knew and they loved us so much, but sometimes love is not enough. Sometimes it’s who you know that matters!
Since Ray was in the Air Force, and he could have his family attend the Thunderbirds show … we all got to go. FOR FREE!!! Now that’s a word my Daddy loved to hear.
What I really liked when we went to see the THUNDERBIRDS was when the men who had been flying came down and talked to us little kids. They knelt down to our level and with big smiles on their faces they just talked; like we meant something to them! I’ll never forget that! Now, this was a very long time ago, but I remember someone saying the name Hank. I remember because it was also written on the side of one of the pretty planes.
So to “Hank” and all the other men and now women, thanks for sharing yourselves with the children who come to these shows. It means more to them then you will ever know!