Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Tribute by Roger (Jim's Younger Brother)

Insight into the Herrick Family begins when Jim and Ila were married in 1942. They were high school sweethearts and soon after graduation they were married and living on a farm. Although farming occupied most of their time, raising a family was highest priority. In 1943, Barb was born, followed barely 15 months later by Jim, born on October 28, 1944. Three other sons joined the family while they lived on the farm. They moved to the town of Panora, Iowa in 1953, where four more brothers were born. The kids were raised in a loving, virtuous home.

As kids graduated from school and moved out on their own, we became "an Air Force family" with Jim, Paul, Gary, Jerry and Don all enlisting in the Air Force. Seems everytime a holiday came around it'd bring one to three blue-uniformed brothers home with it. It was great and gave us an opportunity to enjoy our biggest family vacation, touring Webb and Lackland AFBs in Texas and Eglin AFB in Florida.

Jim graduated from Iowa State University (ROTC) and attended flight training at Webb. He also attended several other schools around the country for survival and other training. I believe it was May 1969 that Jim shipped out for an unknown place in SE Asia. He requested duty at an air base in Thailand where he could join a privileged few to fly the Douglas A-1 "SkyRaider". He flew with the Sandys as well as "recon". His letters to the Herrick family told us that he would simply fly overhead and take pictures. He couldn't tell us the truth because the U.S. Government was "not fighting" in places named Laos, Thailand or Cambodia. So when two Air Force men came to our door in October, we were simply told his plane had disappeared over Laos.

It has been a difficult road for us but Mom Herrick has eased most by saying that she knew something was wrong the day Jim disappeared. That was many years ago - where has the time gone? We all miss Jim terribly, and it still hurts a great deal but I guess we do what we have to. We are thankful for all of our friends who help lighten the load. Knowing that others care and remember helps more than words can say. So thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

- Roger Herrick