My Journal – On My Way to Germany – 2005

On Monday, April 25th, 2005, Brad took me to the airport and walked in as far as he could go with me.  I cried like a baby when he left, waving until he was out of sight.  I’d never been away from home by myself for two weeks but I was on a mission and nothing could discourage me from going even the dread of possible homesickness so far away from home or the fear of the unknown.  I never referred to this trip as a vacation – I always spoke of it as a mission and it was indeed a heartfelt mission.  [This is what I am writing as I wait in the Buffalo-Niagara Airport for my flight-silly as it may sound-but if I am to write about my tour I need not leave anything out.  It will mean more to tell from beginning to end about what I was thinking and how I was feeling, so that anyone reading my account will get the full affect (in case they want to).  You may say I am baring my soul to whoever might read this.]

4/25/05:  Sitting at Gate 26 waiting for Flight 2266 to Newark to arrive @ 4:50 PM – on the beginning of what I’m certain to be the most incredible journey of my 55 years of life – a journey to attempt to experience a previous life – a lifetime that my cherished father, John R. Kyler, lived and put away when that chapter in his life was over.  I can equate this beginning, sitting at the airport and the upcoming flights, to perhaps my father’s flights – night and day though.  What must he have felt when he boarded his B-17 and prepared to climb into the cramped space in the ball turret to perform the task that he had been training for for months.  I guess you could say I’ve been preparing for this flight for months wanting to obtain as much information as possible to try to feel what my father felt.  It obviously requires a great imagination.  My hope – my dream – my goal, is to some day, in the not too distant future, be able to present what I’m feeling and what my father must have felt all those years ago to create a story so interesting to all that they, too, are motivated to pass it on – to assist in carrying on the legacy of our father’s “greatest generation”  in our generation and passed on to our children and their children’s generation so as to never be forgotten.

How different for me though to comfortably board the plane I’m about to board to begin my encounter.  I will never be afraid to fly as I have been in the past.  When I think of those men so long ago and what their missions were; any fears they may have had of flying were discarded and they were off to secure our freedom at whatever the cost.  I pray that this is the beginning of my enlightenment of their history to carry on their legacy – to make them proud – to give those veterans security in knowing we will never forget the incredible sacrifices that they made for us.  I’m committed to accomplishing that mission.  (Guess anyone reading this can figure out what my mission is.)

Boarding now. We’re in the air a little behind schedule – 5:15 PM but should still reach Newark in 50 minutes.
Looking out the window – I wonder what it was like looking at the earth through a ball turret. I can only imagine. I’m not confined at all in this seat. I’m not 5’ tall and I can bet I would feel cramped in one of those ball turrets. Think of being 5’8” or 5’9” tall and trying to fit comfortably in that small space. I wonder many times how that must have felt.
Beginning to write my account of my trip may be foolish as it’s uneventful so far and I have 2 pages already but how I wish that dad would have written what he was experiencing and feeling. I would then have his story without asking questions and although he never talked about it I would still know so much without needing to ask. (Although I’m sure that I would still be full of questions about what he wrote). I now will have to learn his story from the accounts of others. Although (announcement: 25,000 feet-touchdown 32 min.) that is not a bad thing as I feel that I am becoming even closer to my father – more involved in the feelings and almost like I’m part of that life with him – like maybe for a period of time I am him. It maybe is better for me to have to work to learn about his involvement. I’m in contact with wonderful, knowledgeable people who are so encouraging and helpful – realizing the stories need to be told. They have to live on through their sons and daughters and now depend on us as the next generation. (Preparing to land) I’m anxious to meet Nancy and Joan Thayer who will be on the next flight with me. I hope they like me or it will be a long 2 weeks. Oh well, there’s 16 people – if they don’t somebody should I would think. (It’s a little bumpy but at least it’s not because we’re taking flak).
I’ve just boarded Flt 70. I met Nancy and Joan and they seem really nice. I found them by looking for the yellow “Traveldesigns” tags. I’m going to try to sleep so I’m not mixed up when we get there. This is a huge plane and is 90% full. So far no one’s next to me but people are still boarding – a lot of German is being spoken. (Seat 24A). Hope I fall asleep and wake up when we’re there. That would be good. Flight should take 6 hours and 45 minutes. I want to be awake to fly into Frankfurt. It will be under different conditions than when dad flew, being shot down over Frankfurt. Luckily today we don’t have to worry about that but I will be thinking about it. We may pass through the same air space. (Dad’s last mission was a mission to Frankfurt.)

4/26/05: I don’t think that I slept. If I did I don’t remember it. My eyes were closed but I felt every unsettling bump. Come to think of it though I dreamt a little bit as I was in a coffee shop but that may have been a second’s worth of sleep. I do have to go to the bathroom but the guy one seat over from me is sound asleep and I don’t want to wake him. His mouth is wide open and he’s making a snorting noise and I don’t want to embarrass him so I guess I’ll try to wait as long as I can. Nancy just came up and said it’s another half hour to landing. I have a wing seat and the wings are huge. We’re beginning the descent so it won’t be long; our descent into Frankfurt, the same City that my father and crew dropped their payload of bombs on February 4, 1944, before disaster struck their aircraft. Wow, who would have thought I’d be on this “mission” so connected to my father’s!

I’ll have to wait until we land to find a restroom. Oh well, wonder what dad had to do when he had to go.
We just landed.