In Memoriam - Eightieth Fighter Group - The Burma Banshees
It does not take a war-nor a sudden turning point- nor a critical moment to determine a course of
action...courage and sacrifice were inherent in the men who gave their lives that others may live. Could we ask them today what they were fighting for, few could define it. We all knew when we departed for overseas that some of us would not come back and each man, whether consciously or not, set up a mental barricade to stem the first shock of realization that a friend had been lost. It was not easy, we learned to lose a friend. Suddenly, strangely he was no longer opposite you the mess table, his cot was empty, his letters arrived from home unopened- the letter he was waiting for. And then you became angry-and impatient and finally helpless...what could you do? You pounded a typewriter or you slung spam or you loaded bombs or any one of the numerous minute details that was your lot. But then you did it a little better, a little more defiantly. Now you had a purpose...it was such little things as you were doing that could sway the balance of power to our side and ultimate victory. This more than all else, was the contribution that these courageous men had made. It was not just courage that they had; it was a kind of gallantry, and gallantry was more than courage. It was courage, plus something else. Plus carelessness of self? No-that was recklessness. What was the difference? Recklessness was blind, but gallantry had it's eyes open. It was aware. That was it-and these men had that quality of aware, generous courage.
We will not forget these men. We share their loss with their wives, families and sweethearts...a loss which even today is still evidenced in the faces of those who knew them and loved them. We will remember their sacrifice. Life, even after solitary life, was too precious to be wasted; but when it was shared with someone else; someone with whom you had understanding, then it became priceless beyond measure.
Their sacrifice will forever serve as a source of inspiration to the men of the Eightieth Fighter Group and their names will be inscribed indelibly and with great pride in it's annals. Of such caliber of men is the composition of our outfit. This strength, more than anything else has made the legend of the Burma Banshees.
Brad Shuman 1945