News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Liz Ciancone

June 26, 2012

LIZ CIANCONE: Memories sparked by find of old letters

My Best Friend had a pleasant surprise the other day. Forwarded from the Tribune-Star was an e-mail from the granddaughter of one of his special friends. Marvin Eilts had served with my BF in the Aviation Cadet Program during “the big war.”

Marvin, a farm boy from Lemont, Ill., barely made it into the program. It wasn’t because he couldn’t handle it intellectually, it was because he was about nine years older than most of the boys/men in the flight and the age limit was 18 to 27 years. Marvin was 26 1/2. Maybe that made him more determined, or maybe it was because of his greater life experience, but he was an achiever.

Marvin and my BF entered basic training together at Jefferson Barracks south of St. Louis, and remained together through the college training portion of the program at the University of Arkansas and on into pre-flight training. After that they lost touch until 1997.

It was then that my BF began to remember how Marvin mentored the younger boys, so we looked him up on Internet and found he was still on the family farm. We sent a letter and, in response, got a letter from his daughter. Marvin had died only a few weeks prior to our letter and his widow was too upset to respond, so his daughter did. We wrote to thank her and my BF shared some of his memories of time spent with her father.

Marvin was not only older, he was the tallest man in the flight, so he drew the duty of carrying the guidon during parades. Every time he dipped the guidon to salute the flag at the reviewing stand, the pole bruised his rib cage. He would console himself by going back to the barracks, plugging in his portable record player and listening — over and over and over — to Coleman Hawkins’ recording of “Body and Soul.”

Maybe it was a result of walking the farm, but Marvin bounced when he walked. The military disapproves of bouncing when you march, so he drew a lot of flak from the drill sergeant, and maybe a few gigs.

Marvin and my BF were assigned to the same bunk — Marvin the top bunk and my BF the lower. To keep it fair, they switched now and then.

By the time he entered the Aviation Cadet Program, Marvin was married, so maybe he had more incentive to win the war and get home. He did brilliantly at the college course work, but he wanted to get back to the farm, so he did.

His granddaughter wrote that she found our letters while visiting her mother. She was young when “Pa” died so was pleased to have memories of her grandfather. She said she looked up the Coleman Hawkins’ record and thought it was pretty good stuff.

Marvin did well. His family meant everything to him and he, obviously, meant very much to the family.

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Send e-mail to opinion@tribstar.com.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Liz Ciancone
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Raw: Plane Lands on New York Highway AP Exclusive: American Beaten in Israel Speaks Raw: International Team Inspects MH17 Bodies Recording May Show Attempt at Crash Cover-up Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike Diplomacy Intensifies Amid Mounting Gaza Toll Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' Raw: Gaza Rescuers Search Rubble for Survivors Raw: Black Boxes of Downed Jetliner Turned Over New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts Raw: Gaza City Shelling Attack Obama Voices Concern About Casualties in Mideast NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism Legendary Actor James Garner Dies US Teen Beaten in Mideast Talks About Ordeal
NDN Video
Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB' Adam Levine Ties the Knot Sebastian The Ibis Walks Beautiful Bride Down The Aisle | ACC Must See Moment NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Faces of Souls Lost in Malaysian Plane Crash 105-year-old woman throws first pitch Man Creates Spreadsheet of Wife's Reasons for Turning Down Sex 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success Rory McIlroy struggles, surges, wins British Open NOW TRENDING: Real life Pac-Man Explosions as hot air balloon crashes in Clinton DUI Driver Dragged to Safety by Officer After Walking Onto Busy Freeway Celebrities That We'd Like to Send to the Moon Spectacular lightning storm hits London Malaysian Flight Victim Was South Florida Grad Rory McIlroy on pace to break British Open records Officials Fear MH17 Site Now Tampered by Rebels Lowes employees repair Vietnam vet's wheelchair Widow of Staten Island man who died after NYPD takedown says he was unjustifiably targeted
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity