Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day - a guest post

Posted by Richard Bergstrom

My father, Rudy Bergstrom (back row, center) was a flight instructor during WWII. Though he never flew in combat, he trained many pilots who did. His flying career began with a flight over his hometown of Somers, Montana when he was 21 years old. He took an immediate interest in flying and enrolled in flight training. As the war heated up, there was a great need for pilots, and he answered the call. Just as he was about to embark on further flight training, his career was almost cut short by the loss of part of one of his fingers, when it was crushed between two railroad cars in Somers. As was typical of so many of the WWII soldiers, he didn’t talk a lot about his experiences while we were growing up, but he did continue flying, and even survived three crashes, none of which were due to pilot error, however. Here is he after landing an army reserve plane on the ice in front of our home on Flathead Lake, MT. As he grew older he seemed to be more willing to talk about his flying experiences, and collected quite a scrapbook with photo albums of his flying days. As the years have gone by, our admiration for our father has grown as we have come to realize the full extent of who he is and what he did during those years.

A few years ago, we toured the Boeing Museum of Flight in Seattle, and were amazed to find that so many of the planes in that museum he had flown. The list is impressive: Aeronca L-38; BT-9; Piper J3 Cub; L-38 Kaydet; Fairchild F-24; Stinson SR Reliant; Stearman PT-13; and even a B-17. But his favorite airplane had to be the B-25, which he incorporated into his email address later in life. This summer, he and my mom, Ruth, managed to hitch a ride on a private jet flying from Kalispell, MT to Seattle, WA. He described that experience as “the highlight of my life.” Now, at age 85, he faces his greatest challenge. A risky surgery lies ahead. There is no certainty of the outcome. Each of us five siblings is seeking to grab precious moments with our father and hear the stories one more time of his adventures in flying. Each of us has discovered, at midlife, a hero in our father, a veteran of WW II.

(That would be my brother and me standing on the ice with the airplane! Thanks, Bro, for the guest post! Terry)


Nana Waggs said...

That brought tears to my eyes. Very special post. Your older Sis

Peggy Forster said...

That is a good post, Terri. Sounds like a special dad you guys have. Mine was too and he was Air Force WWII. I miss him dearly. Happy Veterans Day.