I mentioned in another thread that I had been friends with Travis Hoover. He was the pilot of the B25 that took off from the USS Ranger right behind Jimmy Doolittle on the April 18, 1942 Tokyo raid. Travis and his wife moved to Joplin Missouri later in life to be near their daughter who lives there. I met him at an air show at the airport there. At the time his wife was very ill and confined to a wheel chair. Later that year she passed away. I started dropping in to visit Travis occasionally, he missed his wife and seemed to enjoy the company. He loved to drink "cuba libres" (rum and coke). I found out quite early not to try and keep up with him when we sat at his kitchen table and talked. He was a very intelligent man that remembered his military career very well and I enjoyed talking with him very much especially about the Tokyo raid. We would bullshit about things until I was aware that I would have to take the country roads home to avoid the local gendarme because I smelled like a rum barrel.
My photos with a digital camera makes the jacket appear lighter in color because of the flash. I took the pictures of Travis with the jacket with a 35 mm Nikon in 91 so the jacket appears darker in the photo scans. I acquired the 50th year reunion plaque from his estate after his death.
1st picture is Travis (2nd from left) and his crew aboard the USS Hornet a few days before the raid wearing the jacket in the following photos. They were ordered to remove their name tags from their flight jackets and not carry any identification including dog tags on the raid in case of capture. In one of the photos I took of him he is pointing at the needle holes left in the jacket where he removed the tag. I have included a picture of the needle holes. He put the jacket on to show me it still fit him. He had worn it at some of his reunions, he had new cuffs and waist band put on it as the old ones had gotten moth eaten and a new zipper and lining but had the A2 tag resewn in it because the original lining was in shabby shape.
He was approached at one of the reunions he wore it to by a representative of the Smithsonian museum that was there about donating the jacket to their air and space museum and asked if he could look at the jacket. Travis took it off and let him look at it. The museum rep told him that it was really stupid to have repaired the jacket as it wasn't original anymore but the museum would take it anyway. Where upon Travis, being the old warhorse that he was, told the museum rep that he and the Smithsonian could go get fvcked. It was his jacket and he would do what he damned well pleased with it and he sure as hell wasn't going to give it to them. Col. Hoover wasn't the kind of man that anyone talked down to for any reason. Especially some "snotty turd" from the Smithsonian as he so aptly put it. I totally understood him as I had museum training at the Smithsonian in 1979 and was exposed to many of the snotty turds that worked there. Some of them can be extremely annoying at times.
He had shown the jacket to me a couple of times and I wanted to get a photo of him with it and I asked him if he would mind if I did. He said "hell no he would be happy to". The next time I went over after a few rum and cokes he pulled the jacket out and I took the photos. We had another drink and he got the smile on his face that he would get when I was getting just a little tipsy so I said that I should head on home while I still could drive. I put my camera in its case and got up to leave and Travis said your forgetting something. I didn't understand, I had my camera case slung over my shoulder and hadn't worn a jacket, then he handed the A2 to me and said I want you to have it. He knew I collected military things as I had told him about my collection but I had never even hinted that I wanted it. I did want it, but I had never said so. At first I refused. I told him I wasn't trying con him out of his jacket I really enjoyed his friendship and I liked talking and drinking cuba libres with him. He told me he had thought about it and he wanted me to have it and to take it. I was totally dumbfounded (for me that is something). I could only say thank you and shook his hand. He patted me on the shoulder and I left. I don't even remember driving the 25 miles back to my house. When I got home I just sat down and looked at the jacket for a long time. We continued being friends and visiting from time to time untill alsheimer's desease robbed him of his ability to function and he finally passed away. He was a damned fine man and I miss his company. I always smile a little when I fix a rum and coke and think of Col. Travis Hoover when I take the first drink.
I guess I have gone on way to much. I hope you guys like the photos.