I Remember Dad: The Brother in Spirit

By Richard Mabey Jr.

 

Tommy was my father’s best friend, when Dad was at Hickam Airfield in Hawaii, during the Second World War. They were like Batman and Robin, when it came to driving their fuel truck around Hickam and then fueling up B-25 Bomber Planes and P-51 Mustang Fighter Planes.

 

Tommy took dozens of photos of my dad while he was driving the fuel truck, fueling the planes, and climbing up the ladder on the side of the high tank of their fuel truck. Tommy has given me a great gift of granting unto me, a vast better understanding of what my dad’s time of service in the Seventh Army Air Corps, during World War II, was like.

 

I vaguely remember Tommy. Up until I was about seven or eight years old, he would often come to our family picnics that were held in the big backyard of the old Mabey Homestead. It was sometime in the early 1960’s that we began to see less and less of Tommy and his wife. I know for certain that Dad and Tommy got along great, so it wasn’t a case where they had an argument.

 

I do remember that it was in the late 1950’s that Tommy had his first son. He had gotten married quite a few years after my mom and dad had married. Tommy’s talent of taking quality photographs at Hickam Air Field had a most far-reaching effect, than just providing inspiration for me.

 

About two years ago, I received an email from a Chaplain at Hickam Airfield who thanked me for writing articles about Hickam in my “I Remember Dad” series of columns. I emailed the Chaplain a series of photos of Dad and Tommy at Hickam, during World War II. Dad once told me that mostly all of the photos that were taken of himself alone at Hickam, were photographed by Dad’s good friend, Tommy.

 

About two years ago, I also emailed the webmaster of the Hickam Airfield website and sent quite a few photos of Dad at Hickam. I am positive, from all that Dad had ever told me, that all of the pictures were taken by his friend, Tommy.

 

Some time during Dad’s long stay at Hickam Airfield, he was transferred from the open fields of fueling fighter and bomber planes to the inner chambers of one of the many airplane hangars, where Dad became an airplane mechanic. My father often told me that after that transfer, he would look out to the open fields, where the sun would shine all so brightly, and he would see his brother in spirit, Tommy, fueling up a plane.

 

My beloved father and Tommy were truly spiritual brothers. They shared memories of northern New Jersey landmarks. No doubt, they helped each other heal from the pangs of homesickness. In the last four years or so, I have developed a rather deep appreciation for Tommy for taking the time to take pictures of my dad in action, at Hickam Airfield.

 

I am 90 percent sure that Dad’s good friend from New Jersey, when Dad was stationed at Hickam, had the name of Tommy. About a year before my mom went Home to be with the Lord, Mom tried her best to remember Tommy’s last name. But after having survived four bran surgeries, it became difficult for Mom to remember details from long ago.

 

Tommy hailed from Haskell, New Jersey. He served in the Seventh Army Air Corps at Hickam Airfield from 1942 till 1945. Perhaps a son or daughter of Tommy might be reading this article at this very moment in time. Or, a relative or friend of Tommy is reading these words.

 

If you knew of an Airman from the Seventh Army Air Corps, who served at Hickam Airfield during World War II, please do email me. There are no words to convey this haunting calling that I have to share the photos and stories that my dad shared with me of Hickam, with a friend or relative of Dad’s endearing spiritual brother.

 

Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at richardmabeyjr@hotmail.com. Please put on the subject line: My Life Publications.

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