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Michael Fey
1,366 followers -
Husband, father, coder, climber, gamer, photographer.
Husband, father, coder, climber, gamer, photographer.

1,366 followers
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Ever since I met your daughter and first saw this photo, the same thought crossed my mind again and again.

How did you do it, Sgt. Brooks?

How did you get back into that B-17 Flying Fortress seventeen more times after that first flight?

The first time was frightful - but you didn't know that first time how it felt to have a Luftwaffe Messerschmidt blasting away at your waist gunner's side window with nothing between the two of you besides a thin layer of easily penetrated steel.  You didn't know that first time how it felt to be at a warm base in England at 3:30 a.m. and then be fighting for your life in the skies over Europe six hours later.

You knew how to shoot, but you'd never had to defend yourself before with a machine gun against scores of enemy planes that were diving from all directions and were close enough for you to see the faces of the determined pilots whose mission was to bring your plane down.

And then there was the flak - so heavy that when you looked ahead it looked like not a soul could survive the thousands of explosions that covered the sky. 

But you didn't scream and you didn't cry and you and your crew flew forward into the fray because someone had to do it.

The first time was brutal but the next seventeen are too hard for me to imagine.  You knew what you faced and you went up voluntarily again and again and again.

You went up again after attending a funeral of your friend, the bombardier who was just in front of you in the plane, and whose head you cradled as he lay dying on the floor of the B17.

How did you do it?

You went up and you must have stared straight ahead knowing that the odds were stacked completely against you and that it was only a matter of time before it was your turn to pay the price.

You went up after a burning piece of shrapnel had wounded you and burned your flesh - enough to hurt like hell but not enough to keep you from your next mission.

How did you do it?

You went back up when every time you returned to base, there were a dozen empty bunks in the hut that you shared with other B-17 crews.

You watched ground personnel empty the foot lockers of the lost and you saw it happen again and again...and again.

But you went back up.  You didn't call in sick.  You didn't ask to be put on desk duty.  You didn't falter when your country needed you to accomplish a task that might be the difference between winning and losing a battle - and a war.

You laid in bed at night and surely couldn't get the sounds out of your head.  The explosions, the rattle of the guns, the whirring of the propellers, the sudden lift when "bombs away" was called... and the turn back to base as the fighters descended in a desperate attempt to cripple you beyond relief.

How did you do it, Sgt. Brooks?

And on that eighteenth mission, when the enemy finally set your plane on fire - how did you jump out of a burning B-17 with only seconds to spare.  How did you look out at the countryside as you floated down and wonder if you were parachuting to sudden death in the air - or painful torture on the ground when the Gestapo tracked you down?

How did you survive two years in Stalag 17 with little to eat and no hope for rescue for many long months?

Today's generation complains loudly when they have to stand in line, or when their safe travel plans are disrupted by weather.  They complain that the steak is too rare or that the sundae doesn't have enough nuts.

A hardship for them is a delay on the freeway due to construction.

Their worst day is better than your best days throughout the war.

But you did your duty and you came back and lived a complete life.  You raised a family.  You worked hard and paid your taxes.  You never talked about the war.

You were a citizen warrior and you did what was asked of you.  Quietly.  Without fanfare.

You did it as a volunteer - for the millions back in the States who never felt the hiss of a bullet as it whizzed past your goggles so close that you felt the heat.

I do not know how you did it.
  How you did it again and again when you knew - truly knew - that you were likely to be killed every time you went into that Flying Fortress.

You are a hero to me, Sgt. Brooks.  Not for that first flight, but for the seventeen flights afterwards when you voluntarily went back up in harm's way with death knocking on your door.

As a grateful citizen, I'll admire what you did for the rest of my life.

But, as tears stream down my face while I think of a young man laying in that bunk and then getting up and facing death daily on behalf of my country, I still can't answer the question.

How DID you do it?
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Picked up my new ride for the weekend today!
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OK Slip Falls is the tallest waterfall in the Adirondack Park at 200 feet
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Rainbow Falls - This photo was taken during an awesome hike with my brother through the gorge at Watkins Glen, this photo of Rainbow Falls is one of my favorite shots I've ever made.

https://500px.com/photo/88194465/rainbow-falls-by-michael-fey

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Wow, my photo of Rainbow Falls has really blown up on +500px.  It's my highest rated photo ever! https://500px.com/photo/88194465/rainbow-falls-by-michael-fey

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Had a great time hiking around Watkins Glen with +Richard Fey today!
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Issue 11 is up, go get it!

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Fall Bouquet  #photoaday   #photoadaychallenge   #photoaday365  
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