John D. Bridgers M.D.
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Naval Years
Flying Wing "The Silent Second" 1943 ~ 1944

Flying Wing
 "The Silent Second"
1943 ~ 1944

I can't remember when I didn't know Warren Coleman Parrish.

This came home recently when I attended a "roast" his family and neighbors had on the occasion of his seventy-fifth birthday.

It was held in the summer instead of on his actual birthday in December so that the celebration could be tied in with one of the periodic "pig-pickings" he holds each year in his yard down on Bath Creek.

I started my deposition on Warren at the "roast" by relating that we were contemporaneous members of "The Cradle-Roll Class" of the Sunday School of The Memorial Baptist Church in Greenville, North Carolina in the early 1920's.

This was a roster on which were placed the names of infants born into church families until such time as they became toddlers and could actually be brought to the goings-on before worship service each Sunday as members of "The Kindergarten Class."

I, like I suppose all people, don't remember getting to know these folks who were part of my early life -- they we all suddenly just there.

We seem to cross the threshold of memory and there we are among acquaintances from family, neighborhood and such other contacts as "The Cradle-Roll Class."

In my case Warren was among that small host which comprised the world of my first recollection.

Off and on we've been thrown together ever since, an estate which promises to persist until one of us departs the scene. 

Our families were reasonably close, not only because of church connections, but for other reasons as well.

Mr. Vernon Parrish, Warren's dad, was a broker of farm commodities and like many businessmen in our small community he was a frequent habitué at The Daily Reflector office, the local newspaper that my family published.

For some years he and my father were members of the "Set Back Club," this being a group which got together each Wednesday night to play the card game of that name being more popular with some of the men of Greenville than bridge or poker.

Also, Mr. Parrish had a horseshoe pit in the side yard of his home where, in warm weather, he and his friends often gathered to "pitch."

Dad showed up occasionally for this, though not with the regularity than did those in the Parrish neighborhood.

They lived in "College View," a development that had been carved out of farmland fronting the college campus after The Eastern Carolina Teachers Training School had been laid out early in the twentieth century, and the town's choice residential area of that day.
We lived in an older neighborhood on the backside of the campus that was in the early stages of urban decay, though no one particularly recognized this at the time.

We were on the southeast side of town, and among us kids it was known as "Eight and Ninth Streets."

Mr. Parrish was the jovial type, kidded people a lot, told many stories and told them well.

Warren came along in the same mold, except he brought such a personality a step further -- he's truly a world-class joker.

When Warren and Evelyn's youngsters contacted me about participating in the celebration I commented to Edie that I would have to rake up some humorous anecdotes.

She allowed as to how this should be easy as she had never been around Warren when he wasn't "cutting the fool."

One of Mr. Parrish's perennial capers involved his watermelons.

Every year he obtained a horde of humongous watermelons -- Warren says he got these over in Edgecombe County, apparently from a farmer he knew through his brokerage transactions.

I remember these as being about the size of a gymnasium medicine ball, heavier and even more unwieldy, but much tastier.

Warren says his father boasted that he never brought one home that didn't weigh at least 100 pounds -- and I believe it.

We were among the friends with whom he usually shared these monsters.

Had our parents imbibed, these would have made great pieces of bar conversation.

I always thought the Parrish's came from the Richmond area, later émigrés from the Tidewater Hearth from whence so many eastern North Carolina families had drifted down, including my own but a good two centuries earlier.

Mrs. Parrish was a gentle and gracious lady, not so outgoing as her husband, but a mother who left her son with a highly developed sense of rectitude.

One of the "roasters" at the recent "pig-picking" commented that he had never heard Warren curse or speak despairingly of another -- nor have I.

However, he has never been involved in many things so serious that he couldn't joke about them.

He recently told me of visiting at the hospital an old friend, Earl Kittrell with whom he had played football in high school.

While Warren was talking to him, Earl suffered a stroke, which left him permanently blind.

Warren later asked Earl if he wasn't pleased that he -- Warren -- had been the last person he would ever see.

Anyway, this penchant he got from his father and not his mother.

Mrs. Parrish moved back to Richmond after her husband died, and when Warren and I were flying together in the Navy, she was working as a receptionist in a pediatrician's office.

Some years later when Warren and his wife, Evelyn, to Bath from Maryland, Mrs. Parrish lived with them until she died after a prolonged decline with what appeared to be Alzheimer's, although I never heard them speak of her condition as such.

In our early years, the other main residential area in our town was "West Greenville" which boasted some of the larger and older homes, but was also past its prime.

"West Greenville" was separated from the other residential areas by the business section strung along Evans Street ("Main Street") and Dickenson Avenue, arteries that intersected one another at "Five Points," also in junction with Fifth Street.

Proximity and the college campus imposed less of a barrier between "Eight and Ninth Streets" and "College View" than did the business district from the more distant "West Greenville" area.

Besides most of us in the eastern regions of town went to school together, first in the elementary grades at "The Model School" on the near end of the college campus, later at the new "Training School" at the far end of the campus, and even later at the high school which was across Fifth Street from The East Carolina Teachers College, as it was then called.

These schools were so named because they were actually staffed by college people -- our teaches all had master's degrees, unusual for that day, and were known as "critic teachers" because they supervised "practice teachers" who were college seniors doing there classroom apprenticeship.

Thus it was that many Greenville students had an excellent coterie of teachers from first grade through high school, and their caliber set the tone for the system in general, which was under the succor and guidance of a school administrator of the first order, Junius H. Rose.

As the youngsters in our respective neighborhoods grew older we came to cross through "The College Woods" and frequently play together.

There were few organized sports for youngsters in those days outside of the school programs so in our early "teens" we frequently got together for "sand-lot" baseball and football.

We usually played in "The Training School" playground; however, at times we also played on vacant lots in residential neighborhoods.

One Saturday morning we were so involved on a corner lot on Fifth Street across from the college -- it filled a half block with the home on Mr. Lyle Harrington at the far end.

The participants I remember were Charlie Futrell, Jack Foley, Robert Musselwhite, Warren and myself, along with several others I no longer recall.

Charlie Futrell was easily the most gifted athlete among us -- going on to be a varsity baseball star in high school and college, as well as reaching the semi-pro ranks.

He made a career of high school coaching; and is now an annual contender and sometime winner in the national "Iron Man" competition.

Several years ago East Carolina University elected Charlie to its "Athletic Hall of Fame."

Anyway, we didn't worry too much about the proximity of the Harrington house to home plate, but we didn't consider the prowess of Charlie with the bat.

He smote a ball that went at least ten feet over the right fielder's head, crashed through the Harrington's dining room window and struck the far wall just beside a glass china-cabinet.

In my mediocrity, I was playing center field, and Mrs. Harrington called me by name through the broken window -- my confreres having all taken off like scalded cats.

There was no escaping her confronting me.

Mrs. Harrington was obviously put out, and probably unnerved by the near miss on here china-cabinet, but she was still polite.

She asked me what we intended to do about her broken window, and as I stammered around the subject I allowed as to how I supposed we should pay to have it replaced.

She didn't ask me to "rat" on my fellows, but made it plain that she would hold me responsible for the transaction.

When we got back together it was agreed that we would each donate fifty cents toward the project, which would cover the cost in those depression days.

However, the other side of the coin was that raising that amount for a bunch of teen-agers wasn't easy in those tight times.

Our parents were equally as put out as was Mrs. Harrington.

When all was done and the debt repaid, Lyle Harrington told my father that he was impressed that a group of young boys had been responsible enough to try to rectify an error.

Warren had been born in December a year-and-a-half after I had been born in July, but due to the spread of the birthdays we were two grades apart in school.

In our high school years, being two classes apart puts adolescent folks in different "crowds," so Warren and I didn't buddy around together much, though we still saw one another each Sunday.

The public school curriculum was for eleven grades at the time I graduated, but before Warren finished it had been extended to twelve years.

The week after I graduated from high school I entered summer school at East Carolina Teachers College and attended year round until I got my degree, which took three years.

So school placement between Warren and me had now spread to four years.

Though my degree would be in secondary education, I had no intention of teaching, but still I had to undertake the apprentice period of "practice teaching."

I did this at Greenville High School under the same "critic teachers" who had taught me a few years before.

So it was that I ended up teaching a class in high school physics in which Warren was enrolled.

He didn't learn much physics because I didn't know much physics, and we had little equipment for laboratory experiments.

As I recall we were studying electricity during my tenure and I suppose the rudiments were imparted, enough so that later he was able to obtain a degree in aeronautical engineering.

In high school, he was generally a capable if not brilliant student and a good athlete.

However, he had his troubles academically with English and with a teacher named Richard Walser who had joined the high school faculty after my days there.

Warren apparently never really passed Mr. Walser's course and it was hard to understand how he got his diploma with this deficit -- perhaps the gathering clouds of war had a part in this.

At this point in our story I left home in February 1941 to enter Navy flight training.

This seems an apt juncture to exercise an aside and speak of others of our era from Greenville who figured in flying adventures. 

Charlie King, some four years or so my senior, was easily the first in the procession.

He had entered the Naval Aviation Cadet program in its early days in the late 30's and earned his wings several years before the War.

In my college days Charlie, and sometimes a covey of his mates from Scouting Squadron 42 attached to the U.S.S. RANGER, frequently flew their SBC biplane dive-bombers over Greenville and performed aerobatics and formation flying for the townspeople.

It should be remembered that this was a far from common sight in those days with carrier aviation a relatively new and so far untried weapon system.

No question, Charlie King, an affable and appealing character, became and remains a local folk hero.

As hostilities burgeoned he saw duty mostly as a flight instructor and ship's officer and to my knowledge was never involved in combat flying.

However, his position as the sole early exemplar focused the attention of those in Greenville from my era on military flying more so than did our exploits on those who followed us despite our experiences generally having been more lurid and perilous.

I served with Charlie briefly in the Atlantic Advanced Training Group in Norfolk shortly after earning my wings, and later my wife Edie -- before our days together -- served with him at the Operational Training Command in Jacksonville, Florida.

Charlie retired as a Commander after the war, entered business and politics in Greenville, and served at least one term as mayor.

He's now in his early 80's and is known for the annual party he sponsors -- his doors are open to all with Charlie furnishing the impetus, site and beverages and his visitors filling out the carte with cakes and other niceties.

This could go for a while yet with his older sister only recently having died at the age of 104.

To the best of my knowledge, Warren entered E.C.T.C. forthwith after high school.

He was among a group of Greenville boys who took beginning F.A.A. flight training in Piper Cubs.

As I recall the group included Warren, Charlie Futrell, Jack Foley, Matt Phillips, Charles Clark and John Johnson, though I could be wrong in omission or transmission.

In any event, all of those named earned their wings in the Army or Navy save Charlie Futrelle.

John Johnson was lost flying fighters in China with "The Flying Tigers" after this volunteer group became part of the Army Air Force.

Matt Phillips was lost flying B-25 bombers.  He had survived being forced down at sea in the Pacific and spending several days on a raft only to later be lost in an operational crash on the West Coast.

Ironically, Matt's younger half-brother, Ed Rawls, Jr. and his wife, Jose Barnes White, were lost some years after the war when their small Cessna plane went down in weather, out of fuel, near the airport at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Wayland Tucker, another Greenville native, was called to active duty with the National Guard during my senior year in college before the war started and later transferred to the Army Air Force. 

He too was lost in an operational accident.

Charles Clark won his Air Force wings and was the first fellow I knew to become a helicopter pilot.  He survived the war, became a C.P.A. and practiced in Greenville until he died of natural causes several years ago.

George Lautares, to my knowledge, remained a Navy primary flight instructor throughout World War II.  He came back home after discharge, took over the family jewelry business until he retired several years ago.

Truth be known George probably accrued more flying hours than any of us during the war years though probably less than Marion Bradshaw.

Marion flew heavy bombers, stayed in the Air Force after World War II, and I read some years back that he was still flying B-52's in Viet Nam.

One hesitates to collate such a list, knowing full well that some equally worthy folk may be overlooked, but if such be so it is hoped the vagaries of a fifty-plus year-old memory will be taken into account.

… And now back to our main theme.

Warren left school after the war started and entered naval flight training about eighteen months after I had gone through the same training.

Oddly enough he had worn glasses since our early school years, which he put in his pocket when he took the flight physical.

He passed this hurdle without question and never wore his spectacles again while we were in the Navy.

To say we went through the same training stretches things a bit, for when I trained the whole course required only about nine months.

By the time Warren enlisted pre-flight school had ostensibly been added for physical conditioning, but many said this was simply a ploy to absorb candidates 'til they could be trained.

This lengthened training to about two years, so again the seniority gap between Warren and myself stretched to the equivalent of several years.

I had finished college at the end of the summer of 1940 and was immediately given a job by Mr. Jack Foley, Sr., the father of my closest friend, at the Imperial Tobacco Company, an English concern.

As a matter of fact, I took a couple of hours off to attend our graduation ceremonies during my first week at work.

This was a seasonal job and when it petered out in the late fall my Dad asked Johnny Askew to take me on as a clerk in his downtown grocery store.

I fully enjoyed both of these experiences, these being the first jobs I had outside the family newspaper where I had started delivering papers when I was 10-1/2 years old.

Anyway, in my senior year in college the fellows in The National Guard, many in college with me, were called to active duty and then the military draft became law.

Initially conscription required the registration of all males between 21 and 34 years of age.

I was only 20 years old when I graduated, but the handwriting was on the wall, so in early 1941 I entered the Navy for flight training.

Things had an urgency then and by the end of the year I had been designated a Naval Aviator and commissioned as an Ensign in the Naval Reserve.

When I was on leave after training the Japanese raided Pearl Harbor, the fat was in the fire, and within two months I was in Pearl Harbor.

As we pulled into Pearl Harbor, I saw the oil still thick on the water and ravaged ships along the shore and piers.

I remembered the newsreel shot of Secretary of the Navy Knox reassuring the nation that the Navy had been damaged but not put out of commission -- true in its way but certainly misleading.

I spent the next year and a half in the Pacific as a carrier-based dive-bomber pilot, being involved but on the sidelines, of both the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo and the Battle of Midway, and putting in some time flying out of Henderson Field on Guadalcanal.

When our air group was relieved from the U.S.S. SARATOGA in New Caledonia and we were sent back to the States in the late summer of 1943 I didn't feel like Uncle Sam had even gotten back his seed from me, so I volunteered for another tour of fleet duty.

I was sent to Bombing Squadron Fifteen (VB-15), part of an air group being assembled for the newly-launched U.S.S. HORNET, the second carrier of that name which was being fitted out at nearby Newport News Shipyard where it had been built and launched.

VB-15 was stationed at Creed's Field, in the swamps below Norfolk and hard by the border of North Carolina.

When I arrived I found Warren Parrish among the junior pilots in the squadron, fresh out of the training command.

Warren had entered and finished flight training while I had been in the Pacific.  He was an Ensign and I was to be promoted to full lieutenant shortly.

When our group of "flight veterans" -- recognized as such due to the exigencies of war and rapid expansion of the air arm of the Navy rather than because of our extensive combat experience - arrived, the squadron organization was set-up for the first time.

Warren claims that I told "The Skipper" that so long as I had "taught Warren everything he knew" that they might as well place him on my wing.

I was assigned to lead the second division behind the Commanding Officer, our squadron being divided into three groups of two six-plane divisions.

For reasons no longer recalled we labeled ourselves "The Silent Second."

Warren and Vincent Zanetti flew wing on me, Vince being of Warren's vintage and from upstate New York.

Lieut. (j.g.) Phillip Eugene Golden, who had been on the SARATOGA with me, led our second section, and Ensigns William Rising and Clifford Jordan flew wing on him.

So it was that two alumni of the Cradle Roll Class of the Memorial Baptist Church, of Greenville High School and E.C.T.C. were together again.

While we were in the Norfolk area Warren met a very pretty young lady -- her name now escapes me -- and at some point along the way they were married, whether before or after we were overseas I can't recall.

For more than two years, I had been rooming with Lieut. Niles Raymond Siebert -- "Old Sieb" --  in tents on New Caledonia and Guadalcanal, in a Quonset hut at Creed's Field and in sea cabins on the SARATOGA, HORNET and finally the ESSEX.

The vagaries of these earlier locations and our exploits in the Central Pacific are covered elsewhere and won't be repeated here.

Suffice it that after we left Pearl Harbor aboard the ESSEX in the early spring of 1944 we were engaged with the enemy almost constantly for the next six months.

"Sieb" was lost over Guam in the Marianas campaign -- our time together, though only about three years, had seemed much longer in a life paced by carrier flying and combat.

Losing "Sieb" was as close, I suppose, as I'll ever come to losing a brother.

Anyway, after his death Warren moved in with me and we roomed together until the air group returned to the States.

From these months together in cabin and Ready Room and flying -- an ongoing companionship, which had started in early childhood, became even more intense.

Air Group 15 became one of the most storied such units in the Pacific War.

Our group commander was Cmdr. David McCampbell, who with his "credited" thirty-four air victories became the Navy's leading fighter ace -- a series of actions for which he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

However, he was just one of many aces in our fighter squadron (VF-15), they scoring a steady accrual which reached heroic proportions in the "Marianas Turkey Shoot" during the Battle of the Philippine Sea."

Matching these feats in hazard if not in renown, our bombing and torpedo squadrons racked up many combat missions, among which were several telling sorties against major elements of the Imperial Fleet in the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

On the last morning of this later battle our division was at the van of the two-hundred-plus plane sortie that first struck the Japanese carrier forces north of Luzon.

We were the first to dive on those ships, and while we bombers were rendezvousing after our attack the group commander instructed our torpedo planes to seek another target in that ours was already sinking -- thus passed the carrier CHITOSE.

I was now satisfied that the Navy had been repaid its investment.

On the several occasions that I've seen Cliff Jordan in the half century since we flew together he has more than once said that I looked after my division "like a mother hen does her flock."

He has less reason than most to so feel for he was shot down, sorely wounded, landing in the water near a battleship with his gunner, Stanley N. Whitby, who managed to get him into their life raft.

Only recently was Stanley Whitby awarded the Navy and Marine Corps medal for this life-saving feat.

Cliff's leg was badly broken, leaving him in a cast for some months and needing a brace since.

After the war he and his wife purchased a small diary farm in upstate New York and, until he retired, tended by himself his small herd -- milking and all.

He rigged his barn -- which the etching on their Christmas card shows as picturesque indeed -- with a stereo system over which he played classical music while he worked, so one supposes his were indeed "contented" cows.

His good wife, Ruth, says that in all their years together she has never heard him complain about his disability or his lot in life.

He has made himself an expert in antique glassware, becoming a consultant in the field, and his lovely old barn is now a repository for such artifacts rather than for cars.

Singularly enough Cliff and Ruth's son moved to North Carolina and is now a neighbor of Warren and Evelyn on Bath Creek.

I'm proud that a fellow the caliber of Cliff Jordan speaks well of me, but feel I fall short of his commendation.

"The Silent Second" was a close-knit unit and it took its share of grievous knocks.

Gene Golden, my second section leader and a competent and courageous airman, crashed in a fireball when we strafed an airfield on the island of Negros in the Philippines, and was lost along with his gunner, John D. Downey.

I had long felt that our 20 mm wing cannons would be lethal weapons against parked aircraft, so the strafing attack after our bombing run on the airfield was my idea.

Indeed, I saw several of the enemy airplanes go up in flames and explode, but their destruction was not worth the loss of Golden and Downey.

At times they still sit on the foot of my bed when I sleep.

Some times Ray Turner flew with our division, and, on the last of many runs we made over Manila Bay, he and his gunner, Simon Dorosh went down.

He was on my wing, opposite Warren, and I didn't see his end even though it happened within a few feet of me.

I, of course, was facing forward and at my busiest as we entered our dives, but my gunner, Bob Cribb, was facing aft and saw it all -- Ray's plane blown apart by high altitude flak.

All of us took damage at times, but Warren and I were lucky or blessed -- we only took a few bullet holes.

Providence still watched over those from his "Cradle Roll Class."

Ours was a competent squadron even if we lacked the élan of our fighter pilots.

The poorest pilot among us was probably our skipper, Cdr. Jim Mini, but he was an outstanding commanding officer, and he never wavered in his duty in the air or on the ground.

I was an able navigator and, according to the Skipper, Capt. McCampbell had requested that I lead the bombers whenever McCampbell lead the air group.

Warren was a great aviator and a dependable wing man -- I always knew I could rely on him to be there, even when I was somewhat erratic in my leading, which I don't believe was too often.

One day when he landed aboard ship his tail-hook malfunctioned but he managed to stop the plane with his brakes shy of striking the barrier, in my experience not seen before or since.

On another occasion he was slung to the side in his landing and crashed into a gun turret -- his plane was demolished but he was miraculously unscathed.

Though carrier operations became routine they were still dangerous and all of us had landing accidents or near misses at one time or another -- it was part of the day's work.

The assignments that were most onerous were our frequent attacks on Manila harbor.

To begin, the area was circumscribed and bristled with anti-aircraft defenses.

Our strikes were effective in that we reduced the fixed facilities to rubble and sunk many ships as new ones arrived, but the later added to our woes.

Relatively speaking, the dock areas were in shallow water and the ships we sunk alongside the docks settled to the bottom with their gun decks still above water -- their guns remained manned and this simply added to the fire we had to fly through.

We wondered why we were continuing to have to attack these positions with dive-bombing, which extended to low levels, when high-altitude bombers could just as effectively attack stationary targets with greater impunity.

We suggested this to the Skipper, but he knew such decisions were beyond his province, so he simply decided that we should release our bombs at 5000 feet instead of the traditional 2500 feet.

Our accompanying fighters had developed the tactic of swooping ahead of us from their "high-cover" position and strafing the target while we were in our dives -- diving in a "clean" condition without dive-brakes they easily passed us up and led the way.

We were grateful and felt sure that the fearful spitting of six fifty-caliber machine guns from twenty-odd planes must have threatened and distracted those manning the anti-aircraft guns.

However, in the first attack in which we released higher we neglected to tell the fighters what we were about.

One of the fighters later said, "I didn't know what was happening --- suddenly I was flying formation with a bunch of bombs and there were no dive-bombers in sight."

After a couple of land strikes on Philippine targets following the Battle of Leyte Gulf, we were suddenly told that we would be relieved and sent home.

While we reveled in this good news the Admiral decided we should make a final attack on Manila harbor.

As I best recall this was the strike on which Turner and Dorosh were lost.

Through the attrition of operational accidents and combat we had lost approximately thirty percent of the pilots and gunners who had been assigned to VB-15.

We were transferred to the U.S.S. BUNKER HILL, an Essex-class carrier, which was also being sent back, and we sailed in her to Bremerton, Washington.

We were welcomed as heroes, which I'm sure the air station did for all air groups returning from combat.

Seattle was an unbelievably hospitable spot, an entire B.O.Q. was turned over to the aviators of our group, and escorts were arranged for all of us who were single.

I remember particularly a young lady who was the receptionist in the Officers' Mess.  She had a fetching voice.  During a meal, when she paged people over the loudspeaker, all conversation would cease.

After two weeks, I was called in and told to pick up my orders and leave.

Thus, ended Warren and my wartime partnership -- he was assigned to a new squadron forming on the West coast and I was sent to Florida to the Training Command.

After the war Warren and I both went back to school -- he entered aeronautical engineering at North Carolina State University and I medical school at Duke University.

We were in close proximity in Raleigh and Durham, and it was during this time that Warren's first marriage came unraveled.

He had other problems at State from an unexpected source.

He apparently had no trouble with his major studies, but, lo, when he entered English class it was being taught by Richard Walser, his old nemesis from Greenville High School.

Professor Walser gave Warren no more brief in college than he had before, and finally Warren had to go back to E.C.T.C. to work off these courses.

He said he told Miss Mamie Jenkins, an English teacher there from the school's earliest days, that she was his last chance, and we could say she got Warren his degree in engineering.

After graduation Warren went to work in the wind tunnel at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.

This was a test center where the aeronautic characteristics of new airplanes, rockets, etc. were tested, and presumably still done.

Warren's job was to create the mounting on which the models were tested.

We never discussed the intricacies of this, but my guess is that these fixtures needed to be made in an exacting manner so the mounting would not distort the airflow over the airframe per se.

Anyway, he would occupy this civil service position until his retirement.

There he met and married Viola Entermille, whose family was from Oregon, but whom he wed in the Washington, D.C. area -- her father having moved his brood east when he became a consultant in a federal agency.

Warren and Viola had two boys and two girls -- we came to know them slightly when they visited Philadelphia several times while I was at Children's Hospital there.

Viola made Warren a loving wife and was a great mother for their children.

It was with great sadness that we learned of her untimely death from cancer when the children were teenagers.

Their children were undoubtedly unusual youngsters for with the loss of their mother they pitched in and essentially ran the home for their father.

This was important for in addition to his work at the Proving Grounds, Warren was also busy in the affairs of the community, his church and his neighborhood.

I never thought of Warren as the political type, but he became a councilman for Aberdeen and served at least one term as mayor, and perhaps several.

This shouldn't have surprised me for his friendliness, candor, good character and ability at story-telling gave him the personality and integrity so important to an office-seeker.

Across the street lived the Ripkens, the father an ex-big league baseball player and then a coach with the Baltimore Orioles.

Their son, Cal Jr., was a classmate and close friend of Richard Parrish -- in the past several seasons he has become a baseball immortal and undoubtedly is bound for the Hall of Fame when his playing days are over.

During the period when Warren was a widower in Aberdeen we saw him about once a year.

He and Charlie Futrell were close in those days as Charlie was a coach and later an administrator in the Silver Springs, Maryland school system.

They were both ardent Atlantic Coast Conference basketball fans and came down, along with Charlie's wife Peggy, each spring to Greensboro to attend the conference tournament, which is the premier sports outing in North Carolina each year.

When down they usually visited us in nearby High Point and frequently had a meal with us.

Edie and I were also A.C.C. fans and this worked out to be to our advantage.

In North Carolina tickets to regular season games -- much less to the tournament -- were at a premium save to liberal alumnae contributors, which this pediatrician wasn't being dependent on his practice for income and support of the two-to-four kids we had in college during that time.

In these days, however, the craze over A.C.C. college basketball had not yet reached the intensity among Maryland fans that it had among those in Virginia, in the Carolinas, and in Georgia.

Warren and Charlie were able to get Maryland tickets for us and for several years the tournament became an annual reunion.

In the early 70's Warren showed up with a lovely and charming lady, Evelyn Bare Thompson.

Her experiences in marriage had some of the same pathos that did Warren's, though not in the same sequence.

Her first husband, Don Richardson, became a heavy-equipment operator at the Proving Grounds after he returned from WW II.

In 1950 a co-worker entangled the crane on which they were working in high-tension power lines and he was electrocuted.

She remarried in 1952 to a man named Thompson.

They had a daughter, Donna, who today is the image of her mother in good looks and personality -- her parents divorced in 1967.

Warren, Viola and Evelyn were church members together and had been friends.

Evelyn and Warren married shortly after we met her at the A.C.C. tournament and The Lord twice blessed Warren with an exceptional wife and companion.

When retirement beckoned they built a delightful waterfront home at the mouth of Bath Creek on the Pamlico estuary some thirty miles down river from where Warren and I were raised.

The village of Bath was the first town site in North Carolina, settled in 1704.

It had once been the haunt of Edward Teach -- "Blackbeard the Pirate" -- and with a population of 200 when the Parrishes arrived, it was obviously a community with arrested growth.

It still remains about the same, though it's catching on with retirees, so the graying of the population may mark the belated growth of Bath -- not necessarily an unmixed blessing.

The Parrishes are a remarkable couple -- they have pulled together disparate members of several families into an extended household as warm as any home can be.

Their children all seem as close a natural siblings.

When they moved south, they brought Warren's mother-in-law from his previous marriage, moving her from a nursing home in Maryland to one in nearby Washington, N.C.

Evelyn attended her regularly there, took her shopping, and before Mrs. Entermille died she was introducing Evelyn as her daughter.

Sometime during this period Mrs. Parrish, Warren's mother, decided that she no longer wished to live alone in Richmond and moved into their house in Bath.

Earlier Evelyn had nursed her own mother through a terminal illness and now she did the same with both Warren's mother and his mother-in-law.

Since their deaths, she volunteers in the nursing home each week.

Suffice it, that Warren and Evelyn have made themselves fixtures in their community.

I see them once or twice a year when I go down to Greenville, and we usually manage a get-together with Jack and Dot Foley, my sister Lib and her husband Norman Wilkerson, and at times with other members of the family and other friends.

Each visit now turns into a reunion of sorts and are grand affairs for our twilight years.

Warren's "roast" and Evelyn's birthday were recent such events, and the presence of Charlie and Peggy Futrell at these gatherings was a bonus.

Every several years Bombing Squadron 15 has a reunion and one is planned this fall at Charleston, South Carolina, God willing.

I feel this consortium has Providential blessings for I've felt The Lord has always looked after Warren, and I said this at his "roast."

He sent him to me during the war and I did my best to look after him in the air and if this sounds immodest I defer to our old shipmate, Cliff Johnson.

There must have been some sort of Divine intervention in a couple of precarious carrier landings from which he walked away unscathed.

He was led to room with me in the Essex and I protected him by drinking both his and my liquor ration, which the Flight Surgeon issued after each combat mission.

He was sent to Mamie Jenkins at E.C.T.C. as a foil to Richard Walser, and getting him through N.C. State.

He went into politics and somehow maintained his honor and integrity.

In his years of ease his friends, his family, his flocks and his holdings have multiplied.

I know Warren will make it thorough to the Pearly Gates and hope I will.  If so, I want St. Paul to know that this time I'm willing to fly wing.

There's no telling who will issue from a Baptist "Cradle-Roll" class.


July 11, 1997


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