A Tale of Greatness. Capt Eddie Rickenbacker

A Tale of Greatness. Capt Eddie Rickenbacker

Rickenbacker Air Force Base is also named after this guy.
This base has quite a history behid it. Well worth looking
up to read about..

It happened almost every Friday evening, when the
sun resembled a giant orange and was starting to dip into
the blue ocean.

Old Ed came strolling along the beach to his
favorite pier. Clutched in his bony hand was a bucket of
shrimp. Ed walks out to the end of the pier, where it seems
he almost has the world to himself. The glow of the sun is
a golden bronze now.

Everybody's gone, except for a few joggers on
the beach. Standing out on the end of the pier, Ed is alone
with his thoughts...and his bucket of shrimp.

Before long, however, he is no longer alone. Up in
the sky a thousand white dots come screeching and squawking,
winging their way toward that lanky frame standing there on
the end of the pier.

Before long, dozens of seagulls have enveloped him,
their wings fluttering and flapping wildly. Ed stands there
tossing shrimp to the hungry birds. As he does, if you
listen closely, you can hear him say with a smile,
'Thank you. Thank you.'

In a few short minutes the bucket is empty. But Ed
doesn't leave.

He stands there lost in thought, as though
transported to another time and place. Invariably, one of
the gulls lands on his sea-bleached, weather-beaten hat - an
old military hat he's been wearing for years.

When he finally turns around and begins to walk
back toward the beach, a few of the birds hop along the pier
with him until he gets to the stairs, and then they, too,
fly away. And old Ed quietly makes his way down to the end
of the beach and on home.

If you were sitting there on the pier with your
fishing line in the water, Ed might seem like 'a funny
old duck,' as my dad used to say. Or, 'a guy
that's a sandwich shy of a picnic,' as my kids might
say. To onlookers, he's just another old codger, lost
in his own weird world, feeding the seagulls with a bucket
full of shrimp.

To the onlooker, rituals can look either very
strange or very empty. They can seem altogether unimportant
....maybe even a lot of nonsense.

Old folks often do strange things, at least in the
eyes of Boomers and Busters.

Most of them would probably write Old Ed off, down
there in Florida . That's too bad. They'd do well to
know him better.

His full name: Eddie Rickenbacker. He was a
famous hero back in World War II. On one of his flying
missions across the Pacific, he and his seven-member crew
went down. Miraculously, all of the men survived, crawled
out of their plane, and climbed into a life raft..

Captain Rickenbacker and his crew floated for days
on the rough waters of the Pacific. They fought the sun.
They fought sharks. Most of all, they fought hunger. By
the eighth day their rations ran out. No food. No water.
They were hundreds of miles from land and no one knew where
they were.

They needed a miracle. That afternoon they had a
simple devotional service and prayed for a miracle. They
tried to nap. Eddie leaned back and pulled his military cap
over his nose. Time dragged. All he could hear was the
slap of the waves against the raft.

Suddenly, Eddie felt something land on the top of
his cap. It was a seagull!

Old Ed would later describe how he sat perfectly
still, planning his next move. With a flash of his hand and
a squawk from the gull, he managed to grab it and wring its
neck. He tore the feathers off, and he and his starving
crew made a meal - a very slight meal for eight men - of
it.. Then they used the intestines for bait. With it, they
caught fish, which gave them food and more bait.......and the
cycle continued. With that simple survival technique, they
were able to endure the rigors of the sea until they were
found and rescued (after 24 days at sea...).

Eddie Rickenbacker lived many years beyond that
ordeal, but he never forgot the sacrifice of that first
lifesaving seagull. And he never stopped saying, 'Thank
you.' That's why almost every Friday night he would
walk to the end of the pier with a bucket full of shrimp and
a heart full of gratitude.

Reference: (Max Lucado, In The Eye of the Storm,
pp.221, 225-226)

PS: Eddie was also an Ace in WW I and the founder
of Eastern Airlines.

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