We often get busy in our lives, and when we do, if we are not careful, we can easily overlook the important things or the great lessons we can pass on to our children. Despite running for U.S. Congress, I promised myself that I would continue to spend quality time with my children. I would include them in learning about our political process—about how our country was founded, about those who have fought for and sacrificed so much for our freedom—and in understanding why I am spending so much time away from them in an effort to be the next Congressman from the 1st Congressional District.
As such, last Sunday, I had two great opportunities to fulfill my promise. The first opportunity was from the VFW of Glastonbury. They were looking for volunteers to pack care packages for troops in Afghanistan. I volunteered our team. Now granted, this wasn’t a high profile public appearance to be picked up by the media but rather an important task completed in the empty back hall of the South Congregational Church in East Hartford. Our team included our full staff along with my children. Together, we packed, taped and labeled over 20 boxes for our troops.
The second part of the day was a quick trip to Oxford Airport where the World War II planes were on display, courtesy of the Collins Foundation. This amazing organization travels across the country showcasing vintage aircraft from WWII enabling people to see, climb inside and learn firsthand about these planes. The three planes that were on display were the B-17, B-24 and P-51 Lightning.
The B-24 is also a very special aircraft to me as it was the aircraft that my great uncle, Tommy Long, flew. I heard wonderful stories about him and his crew from my grandmother when I was a child. Sadly, their young lives were cut short in December 1942, when their plane was struck down by anti-aircraft fire. The plane’s wreckage was never found.
With that family history in mind, it was very important for me to see these planes firsthand with my son. A very special friend by the name of Lieutenant Colonel Walter Hushak, of Southington and a longtime Collins Foundation volunteer, joined us. I met Walter nearly sixteen years ago, when my wife and I moved to Connecticut. During World War II, he flew a B-24 over the South Pacific, and participated in seven sea rescue missions. When Walter and I figured out that he and my great uncle had something in common, we became instant friends. And when he told me stories about the War, I might as well have been 10 years old sitting in my Grandmother’s house.
To be able to have my son meet and hear from a World War II pilot who had flown the same plane as my late, great uncle meant the world to me. My son learned all about the B-24, what it was like flying it, the responsibilities of each crewmember and the wonderful noise of its engines (vs. the B-17) , This was a life experience neither my son nor I will ever forget.
Thank you, to all of our troops, past and present, and Walter, you are true heros!
To see more photos from our experience, please visit my facebook page at www.facebook.com/deckerforcongress or like us at 'John Decker Congress'