After attending Airman Moon service the following weekend I was in Downing, MO for the services of Airman Wayne Jackson. This meeting would be a little more emotional because since the crash was found, I have spent the past 4 years talking with his sister Ms. Vicki over the phone and Skype.
I pulled up with my son Tevin and my friend Janet to the hotel and in the lobby was Ms. Vicki waiting. Also in the lobby was the brother-n-law of Airman Howard Martin. She and I hugged for several moments because it felt like this day would never get here. We all sat in the lobby meeting each other’s family before I had to go rest.It was a long trip for me but her and I ended up talking till late in the night about just life…our lives.
The services started out with a wake on Friday evening. People came out to show their respect to the young man that left the small town but returned their Hero 64 years later. I got a chance to just sit, watch his classmate talk about him and meet his oldest living cousin Ms. EllaB. She warmed my heart when she tapped me on the shoulder to tell me who she was.
The next day we lined up with the family and walked into the church; for a moment I felt a little overwhelmed because I so long for the day I bring my grandfather home. I pulled myself together and gave Ms. Vicki the support she needed giving her speech. She spoke on what a wonderful person Wayne was. Wayne was her brother by heart. Ms. Vicki from a baby grew up in the home with Wayne and his mom. Her face showed just how much she loved and adored when he came home on leave. He would take her for rides in his car…just doing things big brothers do.
We made our way through the town to take him to his final resting place. People stood along the way holding flags and waving to the cars as they passed. The local restaurant put a sign out welcoming Airman Wayne Jackson home. We watched at the honor guards pulled Wayne from the hearse and placed him between his parents. Wayne finally made it home 2 days before his mother’s birthday.
A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself ~Joseph Campbell
Wayne, you did just that and I thank you for it. ~Tonja Anderson-Dell