WWII-era planes gives family chance to connect, remember

May 28, 2010 7:24:06 PM PDT
The Memorial Day weekend is a time to pay tribute to those who lost their lives while serving their country.

When a B-17 landed at Moffett Field this week, the sights and sounds and smells of it brought back a lot of memories. Roy Delpier's sons, Dennis and Terry, had counted on that.

"There were a lot of heroes out of the 40s, and my father was one of them," Dennis said.

Roy is 91, an age when nothing comes easy, except maybe the urge to let up, a bit.

Before running the admissions office at San Jose State University, Roy spent 20 years in the Air Force.

He flew 24 missions, piloting a B-17s over Germany in World War II.

Roy named his plane Ruthless, after the new bride he missed back home in the states.

"Well, we hoped to be ruthless in a vicious sense, but I was ruthless without my wife, her name was Ruth," Roy said.

The three World War II planes that flew into Moffett this week are part of a see, touch and walk through moving museum. The Collings Foundation has put the planes on display for 30 years as a way of honoring history and the men who made it.

"I don't know how much longer we will have him; to capture this moment in the plane again with him and our remaining family is just important," Terry said.

The flight would last 30 minutes, but it carried Roy and his sons 65 years into a family's mostly unspoken lore.

Roy could easily have been one of the 30,000 Americans who died in B-17s during World War II.

But for all the fun they had up here, there was one irony in the back of Roy's mind; the fact that, having flown ruthless 24 times during the war, Roy was ruthless again, and in the most permanent sense. She passed away six years ago.

"I'm sentimental about my marriage," Roy said.

But Roy did not linger there, for long.

When the flight ended, he posed for maybe his last picture, ever, with a B-17. It shows a father and two sons connecting on the day when a life and a family history came full circle.


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