In Memoriam

I met Damon at "Air Force 50," the 50th anniversary celebration of the founding of the Air Force, in 1996. Damon's father had done many drawings during World War II in France, shortly before he was killed. Damon had collected these drawings and published them in a book as a tribute to him, and had a table where he was selling the book. My father had also been killed in the war, but I had never met another "war orphan" who was interested in talking about it. I felt such a connection, such an awakening. Through him I found the American World War II Orphans Network (AWON) and have since met many others like us.

As we were talking a very elegant man in a cream-colored suit came to the table to look at the book. I stepped aside while Damon talked to him. Damon asked if the man was French, and he replied that he was but said he had been in Morocco during the war. "You gave us airplanes," he said. I stepped forward and said "That was my father's group. Would you like to meet some of the men who were there?" An hour later four men from the 33rd Fighter Group shook hands with this Frenchman who had brought a newspaper clipping about the Lafayette Squadron from 1943 all the way to Las Vegas. It was quite a meeting.

I will always be profoundly grateful to Damon for opening the door to AWON.

Susan Roodenburg Perko