MIDLAND, Texas — For a lot of families the Fourth of July means BBQ, fireworks and a whole lot of red, white and blue. But for veterans like John Bumpers, it can be a time to reflect and remember.
“I have always been very in love with this country, it’s just been something that’s been at the forefront of my life, all my life. I can’t think of anything that I wouldn’t do to save this country from any turmoil it might be in...past, present or future,” Bumpers said.
In the late 1970s Bumpers served as a helicopter pilot for the Marine Corps. While he was never in battle during the Vietnam War, he assisted troops flying guns back and forth over the demilitarized zones in North and South Korea.
Captain Bumpers, or Bumpman like his squadron use to call him, originally signed up for the Marines with the intent to fly jets.
“Helicopters are a little closer to the troops and I like the closeness to the troops,” he said.
Some of those troops Bumpers befriended never came home.
“There’s a sadness there that never goes away, the bonds that are made and the friendships that are made in the military whether it be the Marine Corp, the Air Force, the Army, the Coastguard...those are bonds that are there for life.”
With tears in his eyes Bumpers states that freedom comes at a cost.
"I saw a whole lot of friends killed...even in peacetime. There have to be men and women that are willing to step up and take on the responsibility of maintaining that freedom….I'm willing to do that."
In a few days, Captain Bumpers, or Pappi as his grandchildren call him, will be grilling hamburgers with his family while sporting red, white and blue. Today, you’ll find this vet rewinding time looking at old pictures.
Before our interview wrapped up, I asked if he had any final thoughts he wanted like to mention.
“My thoughts are just...God bless America.”