The original reason I wrote this account of my life was to preserve part of my new grandson's history for him to read when he got older. That was back in 2003 or thereabouts. I wanted him to know about at least some of the fabric from which his own life is constructed.
None of us comes into this world without a history, it's just that many of us don't know much of the detail. I was determined this wasn't going to happen to my new grandson.
Whether he was ever going to be interested enough to read this would be up to him, but I'd do my part by writing down everything I could remember.
In 2012 the folks at Aircrew Remembered came across my site during research they were conducting on behalf of another US fighter bomber pilot and approached me to see if I would be willing to make my material available for publication within their own site.
I thought they would just be interested in the military part of my life but they said this wasn't the case, they wanted everything to be there. At first I didn't understand why they would want to include stories about the cats and dogs in my life, for example, but after they explained, it all made sense.
Their reasoning was that my material presents a story of an ordinary man, living a normal life until the extraordinary events of a world war intruded, after which life went back to normal. And whilst there is nothing I would think of as heroic in my own life, my account is a rather complete story of an ordinary boy who became a man, went off to war and came back to fill out his life as best he could. The poignancy comes from realizing that many - too many - ordinary men were just like me, except they didn't come back at all and, in consequence, we usually know nothing of how they grew up and, of course, there was no life for them to enjoy after the war.
So, in this regard, perhaps my story can stand as a proxy for all those who weren't as lucky as I. Perhaps the reader can use my own story to imagine what life might have been like if their own loved one had survived, and if so, I hope my story gives some comfort.
It was of particular importance to me to learn from my friends at Aircrew Remembered that all the material on their site is archived by the British Library so as to be available to future historians. At 91, it is reassuring to me to know my efforts will last for the forseeable future.
Aircrew Rememembered redesigned some of my own flying material to enhance the reader experience, but everything else is as I wrote and designed it myself.
Charles Dills, California, May 2013