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January 25 2014

Dearest Old Bolds, Friends, and Family,

What a wonderful treat to see you, dearest Old Bolds, three weeks in a row and experience your rock star photo shoot. I hope you enjoyed it, you deserve it!

I had a pretty amazing trip back through Los Angeles and Chicago home, not because of the flights themselves, but due to the esteemed company I kept.  In Carlsbad airport I met a WW2 veteran who had come to San Diego to see his friend, Charles Limbergh, nephew of the famous Charles Limbergh, before he just passed away. They had served together as aviators in the Navy.

Because our plane was late arriving, I helped him get his flight from LA to Chicago changed so he was on my later flight. As it was, we only had about 20 minutes to get from one gate to another with the wheelchair transportation once we arrived in LAX.

I hope my frustration with the United gate agents in Carlsbad for not automatically putting him on a later flight only showed enough to make a point. It wasn't until we got to Los Angeles that I really let loose. Due to my heavy duty frequent flier status, I had been upgraded to first class, but wasn't able to use my points or pull to get Grant upgraded on such short notice as well.

That in and of itself was understandable. It didn't stop me from checking at the gate in LA to see if something still couldn't work out. When it couldn't, I said I'd just give up my seat to this WW2 veteran sitting in a wheelchair next to me.

At which point the gate agent FORBID me to do so, saying there were other people on the list for an upgrade with more status, and that if I wanted to sit in economy I could, but then those frequent fliers deserved MY first class seat more than a WW2/Korea/Vietnam veteran.


No time for a fight here. I whirled around without a word - not trusting my redheaded temper, which was in full working order - and on to the plane we went. There I let the flight attendants know exactly what had happened, and asked them to get the gate agent's name. In full swing, I told them about his idiocy. The pilot appeared, everyone on the plane rallied, and we moved Grant up into my seat. When the gate agent came for his last check of the plane I cheerfully waved from the economy section, as Grant was receiving devoted attention from the ladies up front.

I must admit that after Grant had eaten his gourmet cheeseburger, I asked  him to come back, and we had a nice recorded chat (my tape recorder is always at hand). Amazing stories of derring do interested not only me but everyone around us. Grant served on the Enterprise and the Intrepid in WW2 as a torpedo bomber pilot.

When we started from the beginning on tape, we only got as far as his carrier landings on Lake Michigan in mid-December. When on approach #6 his engine died, he was forced to ditch, which he did with elan, dragging his tail hook in the water before he gently set the plane down. It would've been a dry rescue if his raft had inflated. But after exiting the cockpit, he laid it on the wing, stepped into it, pulled the cord, and got only a weak fart out of the thing, nothing more.

As the plane started submerging, he stood on the tip of the wing as a rescue boat neared and crashed into his plane. Into the drink he went, barely making it to the rescue ladder before severe hypothermia set in. He lived to go on to more adventures, which I hope to hear in the future.

You never know who you'll meet when you travel. This time I got very lucky.

With love from a very cold and snowy Connecticut.



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