by Victor Lopez
MIDLAND--They got to have lunch with the famous, World War II Bomber, FIFI.
Many of the residents at Manor Park in Midland are war veterans. What started out as a simple lunch and tour of the CAF Museum turned out to be a whole lot more.
"I suggested it to their activities director and one thing led to another and they put together a real nice group," B-29 Squadron Crew Chief, Dave Miller, said.
Feasting on fried chicken and with FIFI as a backdrop, these vets got an early start to their Memorial Day weekend celebrations. Dave Miller's dad, a World War II wet, was on the guest list.
"He was a military police, an MP. We kid him about that saying he had the best job in the Marine Corps, being an MP, rounding up drunken sailors in Honolulu on a Harley," Miller said.
Retired Marine Cpl., Finney Miller, made his way to Pearl Harbor, shortly after the December 7th attack. He served on the USS Baltimore.
"I never talk about it much. When they invaded Okinawa, I lost some good buddies. I remember that," Cpl. Miller said.
Walter Browder was there the day the bombs fell. Now, a retired Lt. JG, he was a radio man first class on the USS Detroit on morning watch. Browder recalls being dumbfounded at what he saw, This Japanese plane, that did bomb was about 50 feet over our mast and I could see the big red dot. Then I knew what was happening. It was the first day of World War II."
Miller and Finney have many things in common. Both spent time in Pearl Harbor. Both were 19 during the war. And, in keeping with the significance of Memorial Day, both say they saw things they never will forget.
According to Finney, "We had these new planes that turned the tide."
"I could see, the whole harbor was covered with oil. And I could see this motor launch, retrieving bodies from that. That was an awesome sight," Miller added.