Overijse - Annual banquet 2013 (pictures Norbert Niels)
Saturday 18 May 2013
On the second Silver Wings banquet, our president Georges Castermans welcomed the new US air attache Col James Shigekane and his charming wife. Our honorary guests Robert & Diane Pollard were present once again, before their return to their home in the US. Georges read a letter with warm greetings from our honorary member John Rivers (Diane's father):
Dear Mr. Castermans, members of the "Silver Wings," and wives,
Being an honorary member of the "Silver Wings" has been important to me. This past year I have had the opportunity to reflect on those things in America that was of interest to an "elite" group of young men from Belgium sixty years ago, training to be the nucleus of the NATO air force.
As pilots we have a special bond knowing we have shared that commitment and challenge to qualify as military pilots, and without knowing the details, we know each of us has experienced some hazardous missions, and we survived. We were in the cockpit, sometime alone, but always our wives and families were with us. For them the worry over the years was a heavy price to pay, and we can never thank them enough for their support.
Joyce and I will not be with you this year, but again we are proud that Diane and Bob can be there. This past year and the years ahead will be more enjoyable knowing we share that special bond with members of the "Silver Wings," and their families.
John and Joyce Rivers
Following this emotional moment 20 members of classes 53 received a beautiful certificate out of the hands of Col Shigekane, on the occasion of their 60 years silver wings. To conclude the celebration, our member and friend Jack Semey read a poem, he had written for this special occasion:
Pilots from yesterday
I am eighty, oh my dear, a pilot from yesteryear.
Still tough enough, I cannot wait to start my ninth decade.
Only an engine failure, with all systems dropping out,
can force me to order my personal travel cloud
and plan my navigation for an extended float about,
headed towards eternal hospitality with promised immortality.
On my way, surely somewhere, I'll find the inviting solid air,
to welcome our giant formation, meeting you all, over there.
If I had my say, it should be over the USA,
where all of us have some debt to pay.