A WWII Story of Honor, Courage and Sacrifice

On New Years Eve 1944, a lone B-24 heavy bomber took off from a small, dusty airfield in southern China. Reaching their cruising altitude at 11,000 feet, the pilot set a southeasterly course and switched on the auto-pilot. Passing over the eastern terminus of the Himalayas, then out over the Gulf of Tonkin, the eleven man crew settled in for the long and exhausting mission ahead. Shortly after takeoff, they experienced a small electrical glitch, but decided they could override the system and continue on with their mission. Their decision would have a profound impact on the fate of all aboard.

The co-pilot, Frank D. Padgett, was 21 years old, from Vincennes, Indiana. Growing up during the Great Depression, he had worked hard in school and earned a scholarship to Harvard College in Massachusetts, but before finishing his second year as an undergraduate, he was called to active duty in the U.S. Army/Air Force and for the next 13 months, trained as a pilot.

The mission that night for the bomber nicknamed the “Bobcat”, was to attack a Japanese naval convoy south of Hainan Island in the Gulf of Tonkin. Approaching the target at 600 feet altitude, it became apparent the target selected by the radar operator was not one ship, but two, a cruiser and a destroyer, side by side. The two warships, bristling with anti-aircraft guns and auto-cannons, simultaneously turned their spotlights on the Bobcat and opened fire.

In the heat of battle they say what can go wrong, will go wrong. What moments before had been routine, suddenly became life or death as the fate of the crew hung in the balance, second by nerve-racking second. Thus dawned the New Year 1945, for the eleven men of the Bobcat.

Mission Over Indochine is the coming of age story of a young man from the Heartland who’s life exemplifies the courage and humanity to which all men aspire. Through the darkest hours, his faith comforts, restoring his determination to survive and make it home. A truly inspirational book for an unsettled time, when steadfast and honorable leaders seem so hard to find.

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The challenges of the journey, or, Rocky roads sometimes get paved.

Alright! Finally, I’ve started my first blog. Not long ago, it would have been a breeze for me to figure out how to do this, but that was before my world was turned upside down. 

It all seems so very long ago and much has happened since, but here is the story of what happened to me. In 2003, I began feeling unwell and decidedto go and see my doctor to try to find out what the problem was. After many trips and test, they found that I had Hepatitis C, a viral disease that attacks the liver. Apparently, I had contracted Hep C in 1980 when I was in a traffic accident and badly injured, I was given a number of blood transfusions because of my internal injuries and in those days, whole blood was not screened for Hep C because they still didn’t know what it was. In 2009, my doctors told me that I needed a liver transplant. My own liver was dying and had to be replaced or else I would be following it very shortly.

In August, I flew from my home on Maui to the University of California Liver Transplant Center in San Francisco and waited for a liver. By then, I was very sick and the delirium caused by my dying liver’s inability to clean out the amonia in my system, was so severe, I needed to be hospitalized much of the time. Finally, on October 28th of 2009, I got the call that a liver had been found and that morning I was wheeled into the operating room for the life saving operation. I was given the gift of life that day. Although recovery was slow going for the first year, I am now doing very well.

One of the unusual consequences of the surgery was that I lost all my memory on how to use a computer. I was totally lost. Needless to say, this was a big blow to me because the computer was the tool I used to earn a living and once I recovered, I was really going to need it.

To make a long story short, I slowly began turning on the computer everyday and just clicked on the different buttons to see what they did. The machine I used wasn’t hooked up to the internet, so I knew I couldn’t do anything too bad while I was messing around. It took me many months to get to the point where I felt comfortable enough to start doing anything resembling real work. I had started a book some years earlier about the life of my father. I had Microsoft Word and the book file my computer, so I opened it up and began trying to learn the Word program all over again. It wasn’t easy and I made a lot of mistakes in the beginning, but I finally figured it out and I’ve been working on the book ever since. Of course I have also re-taught myself how to use many other programs since then and, as you can see, I am back using the internet.

These last two years have been an incredible journey for me. Coming all the way back from near oblivion, to living life on life’s terms again has been a challenge. Has the road been rocky? You bet, but who’s life hasn’t?

P.S. I finally published my book a week ago. It’s named “Mission Over Indochine” and you can take a look at: http://www.amazon.com/Mission-Over-Indochine-Sacrifice-ebook/dp/B008DY3FQQ