A Salute To Dad


A famous newscaster referred to the men and women who fought and helped the war effort during World War Two as the "Greatest Generation." My Dad, Tom Stilwell, was one of them. He entered the Army Air force in 1943 and was sent to the Pacific Theater where he served as an airframe mechanic. His main responsibility was to keep the planes in operating condition and piece together those messed up in battle. Often he was sent to remote islands ahead of the other troops to set up equipment while waiting for reinforcements. He received a medal for being part of the liberating operation headed up by General Douglas McArthur that took back the Philippines. He also got 2 Bronze Stars, good conduct medal, and WWII victory medal. I am very proud of him.

I can't fathom the responsibility a young man of 21 had to deal with during that time and the hardships he had to endure. Dad passed away when I was a teenager and I never had the chance to discuss his war experience with him. Veterans were not as open to relate what went on during WWII as they are today. Also, prior to my dad's passing we were in the middle of the Vietnam War. I think my dad was thinking about the possibility of his three sons having to go to go to war so that may be why the conversation never came up.

                                                                                            My Dad (far left) and his buddies. 

 

In later years my Mom told me some stories about my Dad that he related to her. He also documented much of his tour of duty with his camera, compiling photos into a scrapbook. I was able to get a glimpse of what he had done and places he traveled. Included in the book are photos of Bob Hope at a USO show my Dad attended. I built a diorama (pictured in several places on this page) based on a couple of photos showing Dad hard at work.

 

Click any image to enlarge

Working on the engine of a B-25 Bomber

 5th air force patch from my Dad's uniform

 The men start work on a crashed B-25

I used a stock plastic model of a B-25 and scratch built the rest of the diorama. I wanted to achieve an authentic depiction of the scenes from the photos, showing all the battle wear and weathering.

 

My Dad was also very artistically talented. He was an expert wood worker and wood carver; I learned a lot from him. Shown here is one of the many duck decoys he crafted.

My Mom was into copper enameling and Dad got into it as well; building this beautiful clock.

Thanks Dad!

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