American Patriot

Lt. Col. John F. Bird, USAF Retired, 87, passed away peacefully this week in his adopted home state of Florida with two of his children, my cousins, at his bedside.

Lt. Col. Bird was my uncle and he will be missed.

In a time when every idiot with a keyboard, a microphone or a Congressional office loudly declares their “patriotism,” my uncle was a man of few words who walked the walk in a 29-year career of service, sacrifice and true heroism in ways most of us cannot imagine.

His remarkable life and career spanned three wars in which he flew as an Air Force pilot — WWI, Korea and Vietnam — and I’d tell you about battles and medals and such, but I wouldn’t know because, similar to my father and brother who served in wars, he never really talked about it.  It was his job and he did it with a quiet sense of pride and dignity that is both rare and admirable.

But, of course, he was much more than an Air Force pilot:  a husband, a father, a grandfather, a brother-in-law, an uncle.  A commanding presence to be sure, but a man of great humility and a wonderful sense of humor.  As all military families do, they made great sacrifices.  My late, unique Aunt Joan who  loved and led her family in his absence and my cousins who moved from base to base so frequently I can’t even recall all the places they lived.

So, condolences to his family and a final, proud salute to Lt. Col. John Bird. 

R.I.P., sir.

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