Red Tailed Angel

June 30, 2013
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His moment is coming, he can feel it in the air and in his bones. He knew that this day would come, when they would call them to do something, for real, not just training. For everyone. For his country, for the world, even. He waits in his tent, thinking about all the opportunities before him. Who would have though that a black man could make it this far, could become part of the Air Force and fight in one of the greatest wars ever fought. With their red tails and hopeful spirits, the Tuskegee Airmen could not be easily discouraged. They looked forward to, hoped for, the chance to fight for real, while back home men prayed that they would never be drafted. The Red Tailed Angels had true courage in their hearts, and they were just waiting to show that they were worthy to fight amongst the best.

He was flying to Ramitelli, his plane barely repaired, trying to get back to safety. He spotted a bomber that needed help; as a soldier, a lieutenant, he saw it as his duty to help. He escorted the bomber safely to the Foggia area of Italy, then took off again, dreams of Ramitelli in the forefront his mind. He was flying along fine, getting closer, when he wandered off course, losing sight of his destination. Water, rushing, closer, and then... nothing. He crashed into the Adriatic Sea, later to be recovered, but for the moment, alone. No one to know that in his last act of valor, he had saved a bomber. No one to know back home that this unsung hero had just lost his life after saving another.

Sure, he got a Purple Heart. And sure, he was awarded an Air Medal, but does that mean that anyone knows his story? If you went up to a random stranger on the street and told them this, would they have any idea who you were talking about? He was a hero, a young man waiting to show the world what he could do, and he is barely known for his acts of valor. In my mind, I salute him, and all the other forgotten heroes who helped this world become what it is today. Thank you, Lt. Robert H. Wiggins, for serving your country in World War II, and never failing to help anyone who needed you.

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