8 years on: my father passes

My father, Col Richard L Alley, passed away eight years ago today, at the age of 88. I clearly recall the one thing he said about his own father, who passed away in the front yard at the age of 80: “I just want to live longer than he did.”

And so it was.

My mother and father met in Sacramento when Dad was training at Mather Air Field. He ended up flying missions for the 8th AF in B-17s, made his missions in one piece and returned to the states, where he became an instructor in B-25s.

Here Dad is being trained to fly.

Dad’s father, Verto, served in World War I.

Verto and Kathleen married soon after. This photo got Verto through WW I.

My father, left, with his brother Jim in Kansas City, Missouri, 1925. All three brothers served in World War II. Dad chose the Air Force, Uncle Jim served in the army and Uncle Bill in the navy.

I miss my father every day and honor his service. Col Richard L. Alley, USAF, 1920 to 2009, WWII and Vietnam.

The same folded flag above is in a polished cherry walnut case no more than four feet from me as I write, with three of the brass casings fired at his salute.



I almost forgot

RL & JS Alley, About 1925, 5509 Holmes St., KC., MO.0

My father (L) and his brother Jim, in front of their house at 5509 Holmes Street,   Kansas City, Missouri, in 1925.

5509 Holmes Street Today, KC, MO

5509 Holmes Street today (R), same sidewalk in foreground.  You can see the two-story house, upper left, is the same as the one above.

And that concerns me.

I wrote this post late Thursday night of the 11th, in anticipation of posting it this past weekend because, almost before that day had passed, I realized what I’d not done.  Because of the stream of news and events, I’ve waited to post it until now, Sunday.

I’d not remembered that was the day my father passed away in 2009, seven years ago.  My God, seven years ago.  In a way it seems like yesterday; in another, it seems like a vast, chasmic distance in the past.

Today my father, had he lived, would be 95 years old.  As it was, he lived to 88.  He once told me that all he wanted to do was live longer than his father, who passed away in the front yard of his house in Dallas at the age of 83.  His father served in World War I, having been born in 1895.

VR Alley, 1917.0Above is a photograph of my father’s dad, Verto Alley, who was a bugler and served overseas in Germany and France.  Verto was born in 1895, in Minnesota. Though I met him about three times, I remember little if anything about my grandfather because I was young, and because my grandparents on my father’s side lived so far away.  I’m pretty sure I factored not at all into his life either.

Thru War

As you can see, my grandfather Verto carried this photo of his wife Katy throughout his assignments in World War I.

On the other hand, Dad’s mother, Katherine, was born in 1899 in Missouri and liked me.  Those same three times I may have encountered my grandmother, I only remember good things about her.  I can remember being in the back seat of our 1958 Oldsmobile 88 with grandma.  I’d just had a haircut.  Dad always cut my hair with the Wahl electric clippers that I have to this day; he would do it with me perched on the yellow stool perched in the middle of the kitchen on the linoleum floor.

1958 Olds 88 BlueGrandma was in the back seat of the Olds with me.  She leaned over, scrappled my short hair and called me her “towhead.”  Then she kissed me on top of my head.

Dad, Sepia, Open Cockpit, Standing-A Dad, Standing, Propeller-AThe above photographs are my father in primary flight school, where he learned that the US Army Air Corps considered him to be, after evaluation, bomber material.  Dad wanted to be a fighter pilot — who didn’t? — but the USAAC said he was a “team player” kind of guy, not a lone wolf.  To multi-engine planes he went and the B-17.

Mom & Dad WWII Photo B&WAfter surviving his missions, Dad came back and the married my mother on April 24th of 1942.  In its infinite wisdom the US decided to make Dad a B-25 instructor.  Go figure.  Above is a photo of my mother and father a short time after their marriage in Reno, Nevada.  Below is my father seated in a B-25 Mitchell.

Dad In Cockpit, Pilot Seat-ABelow, Captain Dad poses with his friend Joel Kuykendahl, while assigned as flight instructors at Roswell Army Air Field (AAF).

Dad, Sepia, Capt, Roswell Flt Inst, With Joel Kuykendahl-A I reminisced about Dad recently with my wife and her sister, when she came to visit for the past three weeks as I recuperated from foot surgery.

To this day I miss Dad terribly.

Col Richard Lee Alley, USAF
1920 – 2009
WWII, Vietnam