Like countless families of the 1940s, our family lost a “boy” in World War II. Our loss was 2nd Lt. Ross W. “Bud” Perrin Jr., a B-17 bombardier killed over Mannheim, Germany, on Dec. 11, 1944. Thirty-five days later, his wife Thelma, gave birth to their first-born, a daughter, Rosalind — “Roz.” I was nearly 4, the family’s first-born grandchild and his namesake. He was my beloved Uncle Bud, my hero.

Many times over the decades I have looked at a photograph taken of the two of us on his last trip home in July 1944. Wearing his Air Force crusher hat, Uncle Bud had knelt down so our eyes were at the same level. Barefooted and in my bib overalls, I snapped an airman’s salute to the smiling approval of my hero.

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