An incredible man in our neighborhood enlisted in WWII and became a bombardier on a B24, flying missions out of Africa to bomb Romanian fuel depots. A few of us asked him to speak to a group of teens a few years ago and for the first time since the war he agreed. He said most veterans wouldn't because they didn't want to come off as bragging, plus it was hard to talk about.
What convinced him to speak is the idea that history wouldn't be appreciated by two generations removed unless he did his part. As he drove up highway 101 in Mountain View, CA, deep in thought about his talk, he said "I heard the unmistakable sweet sound of a B24, the only one in the world that still flies." The runway for NASA begins right beside 101 and he happened to be where the B24 flew low right over the hood of his car as it landed.
He gave an incredible talk the next day that I and everyone in attendance will never forget. That B24 was here on tour then and you could buy tickets to fly in it. I offered to buy two and go up with him, but he said no, it wasn't safe back then and it's not safe now.
If you could survive 50 missions, which he barely did, they said that's enough and sent you home. When Jack and his wife Ginny turned 90, we threw a huge party in a church gym with a brass band to honor them:
Jack passed away a few days ago and his memorial service is Saturday, two days from now. By coincidence, that B24 is returning to NASA's airfield tomorrow. I am going to tour it when it lands and think of Lt. Knell of the greatest generation, who remained great until the day he died. Thank you, Jack.