Veteran Resident at The Buckingham Reflects on Military Service and Sacrifice During World War II

Business and Professional

June 1, 2017

As Memorial Day approaches, Americans will soon pause in remembrance of the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. For the veteran residents of The Buckingham, Houston's premier retirement community, Memorial Day is a time for reflecting on their service and on those with whom they served who never made the trip home. While time heals all wounds, the heart remembers the faces of fallen comrades and the images of war which can never be erased. As a veteran of World War II, resident Richard Baile played a role in the moments of American history that still define our country and world today. However, it is the sacrifices of the men with whom he served that he wishes to remember this Memorial Day.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Baile enlisted in the Air Force in hopes of doing what he could to help the American cause. However, it wasn't until after he finished college in 1942 that he was called up for basic training. Upon his arrival, Baile's dreams of being a pilot were put on hold as he was unable to pass the color blindness test. While unable to be a pilot himself, Baile would go on to participate in 13 various missions aboard B-29s as a flight engineer. This included flights during the Tokyo Fire Raid in 1945 and surveillance flyovers above Hiroshima following the dropping of the atomic bomb on the Japanese city. 

"By observing Memorial Day, we are able to reflect on the true price of freedom," said Baile. "I was one of the lucky ones during my time in the war. When I served in the Air Force I lost many friends. We were a brotherhood and we looked out for each other, but it was always important to remember they wanted us to move forward should something happen to them, and we expected the same from them. War makes strange things out of men, but it's crucial to keep in mind why those battles were fought in the first place."

Baile, like many others, returned to the United States and civilian life following the war, though he never forgot the price paid by so many which made his return trip home possible. Today, like many other veterans who reflect on their service, he has no regrets. He simply believed it was his duty, a role he played in serving his country, but one he would never forget.

"One day while based on Tinian, some of us where out swimming and messing around and one of our pilots busted his ear drum," said Baile. "This prevented us from being able to fly out later, so another crew took our plane. They never made it back to base. That easily could have been us, and I'll never forget that. With everything happening in the world today it makes those experiences hit closer to home than ever, especially as we watch our men and women continue to sacrifice for us today. It's more important now than ever to remember the price paid for all of us to have the freedom we enjoy today. It's so easy for us to forget the true meaning behind Memorial Day, and we must all do what we can to make sure the gift of freedom is never taken for granted."

Residents, their families and team members at The Buckingham will spend time on Memorial Day Monday, May 29 attending meaningful events to honor those who made sacrifices for our country. The senior living community will host "A Special Day of Remembrance," an annual tradition, during which residents will honor the men and women who gave their lives in service in order to protect the nation's freedom. Additionally, the community will have a performance of patriotic melodies from the newly formed choral group, The Buckingham Singers, for their inaugural performance as a group. Following the service, residents and their families will enjoy a Memorial Day picnic lunch in the dining room.

"At The Buckingham, we are proud to recognize those who have made sacrifices for our country," said Cathy Lightfoot, director of marketing at The Buckingham. "We are dedicated to sharing the stories of veterans, like Richard Baile, in hopes that we can inspire others to reflect and pay tribute to those who have served our country and those who continue to make sacrifices each day for our freedom."