On this day in 1918; someone’s valiant hero and a honorable opponent left this world to find his place in the Elysian Fields. His name was Manfred von Richtofen, or as he was known previously; Red Baron. The story was deeper than the legacy we see today.
The man was great at aerial ass kicking. He had only been in the flying service for a few years. Without speaking about numbers; they speak for themselves. But the most entertaining thing we fail to remember is the size of his “stones”; often flying around in a plane painted a pronounced red and his unit’s men adopted the paint scheme. I also add a fact that many people overlook: his injury in 1917 to his head during combat and the fact that he landed the plane out of a spin.
I admired the fact that he refused to take a “desk job” even though he was injured. (An awesome quote attributed to him: “every poor fellow in the trenches must do his duty”, (he eventually mentioned that he would continue to fly).
He finally met his end when he was shot down (purportedly) from someone on the ground, his wounds damaging his heart and lungs. My favorite part of the story, earning a hero’s salute: He was able to land the plane with minimal damage even though he was mortally wounded.
I was fond of the idea that the people who shot him down gave him full honors and left a memorial wreath that said:
To Our Gallant and Worthy Foe
I think this is a better way to look at our vanquished enemies. Respect and a fitting tribute to show them to the afterlife.
Not like having them adorn a pizza box and being chased by a cartoon dog on a doghouse.