by Michael Angier
When I was four years old,
I remember sitting at the dining room table with my mother and
brothers when we heard a loud—and to me—unfamiliar noise. We ran
outside just in time to see the fighter jet make another low pass over
the house as it streaked across the sky—afterburners aglow. I’d seen
planes before, but this was different—this was my dad.
Coincidentally, my father’s story
begins when he was about the same age. In 1927 Vermont, such a
sighting was a rare occurrence. Lindbergh had yet to make his famous
solo across the Atlantic. Jet planes weren’t to be seen for another 20
Ever since he saw his first flying
machine, my father has had a passionate obsession with planes and
aviation. His aeronautical career spanned three decades, stretching
from open-cockpit biplanes to supersonic jets. His love of flying is
exceeded only by his love of family and country.
My father has always been a hero
to me. My dad’s war stories of valor and courage in the face of
seemingly overwhelming odds have always been fascinating and
Of all of his accomplishments, I
think those months as a pilot and crew leader were the pinnacle of his
life. To paraphrase Churchill, “It was his finest hour.”
During the last year of World War
II, the Eighth Air Force pounded the German manufacturing plants,
railroads and atomic labs, which brought an end to the evil Nazi war
machine that so threatened the world’s freedom.
We owe the “Mighty Eighth” an
eternal debt of gratitude. Few people know how close we came to the
annihilation of freedom and democracy. Had Germany successfully
completed the atomic bomb before we did, it would have been all over.
The world would not be the same.
Dad has never fully recovered from
his war injuries. He’s suffered from chronic back, neck and shoulder
pain ever since. As recently as five years ago, he dug a piece of
shrapnel from his skin after it had spent more than fifty years
traveling through his body. In spite of his many ailments, he married,
farmed for over forty years, raised five boys and flew in the Air and
Army National Guard.
My father instilled in me and my
brothers a sense of responsibility and a commitment to what’s right
that hasn’t always been easy to live up to. I think everyone, deep
down, wants to make a lasting difference in the world. My father did
that in many ways and continues to be an inspiration for me to do
something good with my life.
Once, during a discussion about
epitaphs on tombstones, I asked my father what he would want on his.
He said he would like it to be very simple. He wanted it to read,
“Farmer and Patriot.”
It’s been a pleasure and an honor
for me to produce and publish this book. As many times as I’ve heard
my father relate his experiences, they’ve always been enthralling to
me. I know they will be for you, too.
This book is the story of his
career in aviation. In it, you’ll learn of the people and experiences
that shaped his life. You’ll come to understand his passion for
flying. You’ll feel the pain of his struggle and survival. You’ll see
how the events of the war impacted his life and so many others.
You will get to know the man I
second son of five