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Sensop just lost his father. After reading his post in our staff lounge, I felt that other members of this forum should know just how great a man his dad was.

Chief Master Sergeant Eiland E. Helms was a hero to this nation. May he rest in peace.

Here is sensop's post…

Didn't make it ...

I'm back. "Visitation" (aka: "Viewing") will be Friday PM. Funeral is Saturday AM. Interment is Monday AM at Fort Barrancas Cemetary in Pensacola, FL. Mom is already there. Dad will be planted right next to her, in the spot reserved for him as a Veteran. So, I will go back down Friday AM and return Monday PM.

The man had 34 ribbons on the left side and three more on the right side from the US Army Air Corps. Two Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Air Medals and two Purple Hearts. I thought I was hot s*** with an Air Medal. And some of his ribbons I had to research to find out what they were. A couple had the "V" device. He retired as an E-9 and earned it the hard way. When the USAF was chartered in 1947, he transitioned and stayed in until 1973. He received black shoes in the first issue. US Army Air Corp and USAF for a total of 33 years. He was one of the first E-9s in the USAF. Turned down Warrant Officer to remain eligible for E-9. He survived three wars: WWII, Korea and Vietnam. Participated in combat operations in all three, then fell off the damned back steps of his house and killed himself ... well, just damn. He had a metal plate in his upper jaw from one of the Purple Heart circumstances. A 20mm cannon round from a Japanese fighter struck his radio while on a bombing mission in a B-17 in the Pacific. Shrapnel struck him in the face. He rendered first aid to wounded crew members before passing out from loss of blood. He was not expected to survive the flight back to home base. He did. The other occasion was a gear-up crash landing of a B-17 that had sustained extensive battle damage from Japanese fighters in air-to-air attacks while on a bombing mission on an unnamed Japanese possession (probably an island). After the aircraft came to rest, Staff Sergeant E. Helms freed himself and removed two unconscious bodies (gunners, named) from the burning wreckage, saving their lives and sustaining significant burns and other injuries to himself. He then returned to retrieve the bodies of the dead Navigator (named) and another Gunner (named) from the burning wreckage." Back as far as I can remember, his forearms and hands had minor burn scars. He would never tell me where he got them.

I read the citations. I had to. He wouldn't tell me anything about his war.

Guess who my hero is. BIG honkin' shoes.
Chief Master Sergeant Eiland E. Helms
Rest in peace, Pop.

By the way, he was an original member of the gospel quartet called the Statesmen. I think the Statesmen are still performing today.

It's a loss, but it wasn't unexpected. His heart has been working at a greatly diminished capacity since a congestive failure last March. He was 80.

Okeedoke. I feel better now.
 

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Sensop --

My condolences and sympathy go out to you ---

My only thoughts after reading of your father are that it is men like this that are the reasons we enjoy the freedoms we have today!
:bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow: :bow:

Chief Master Sergeant Eiland E. Helms : May he rest in peace!! :soldier:

Mike
 

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I am so sorry to hear of your loss. What a man! His story was just the kind of thing that Tom Brokaw was thinking about when he wrote of "The Greatest Generation."

Ed
 

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I'm sorry for your loss. My Father passed 2 days before Christmas in 1982. I can never experience the holiday without thinking about him. I do the Santa thing for the grandkids he never got to see; just like he did it for me...
 

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Sensop, your father was indeed a hero. My sincerest condolences to you for your loss. If it helps, try to think of it as him going home to a hero's reward, for he certainly deserved it.
 

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Sorry to hear, Bud. Best luck to you.

My father didn't rack up such a distinguished record during his service in France and Germany in '44/'45, but like your father he never talked of his Purple Heart and Bronze Star. A few vignettes, but that's it. He passed away last Ground Hog day, his birthday, at 94.

"They served us well."

In sympathy,

Art
 

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Thanks for the kind words of sympathy, gents.

Art, I appreciate your comments. I think there may be more to your Dad's story than meets the eye. That's one thing I learned from talking with Pop. The one thing I believe from what little he told me and then later found out on my own, is that there is more that remains untold. I'd like to have known "the rest of the story", as Paul Harvey would say, but I could never overcome his modesty about his achievements.

His generation was/is more unassuming in nature than mine. Once when I pressed him for some info on his experiences, he commented that he knew some guys in the war that had received some much "higher" decorations than him.

It seems that role model I needed was under my nose all the time.
 
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