Thursday, May 26, 2005

In Memory of John Urbank

WWII Troop Carrier Story
Janet's grandfather, John Urbank, passed away early this morning. She and her family are doing as well as can be expected. We will be traveling to Ohio for the services and I'm not sure when I'll get back to this blog. Several years ago, during the 50th anniversary of D-Day celebrations, Bonka (as he was known to his grandchildren), told us the harrowing tales of his time as a paratrooper. I googled John Urbank in hopes of finding some of his story to share. He has been contacted several times to interview for books etc. I found the above site, which focuses on the story of the pilot of his plane and mentions John Urbank as the jumpmaster. As the jumpmaster, Bonka was standing in the open doorway watching planes and jumpers being shot down, knowing his turn was coming. His plane had to make a second pass, and he did jump and survive. He had several fascinating stories of survival, from using his farming knowledge to keep away from land mines, to his compassion for animals leading him to save a cow from a burning barn, which inadvertently led to saving his own life by getting him away from a bomb. He also survived Parkinson's disease for over 20 years. And that's how I'll remember him, as a survivor who had a wonderful family who he loved and who loved him.

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