Copyright 2016 Ian Hochberg
When I was 10 I drew a picture of a SPAD XIII, the airplane flown by one of my childhood heroes, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker. Captain Eddie was America’s most famous fighter pilot in the First World War with 26 enemy aircraft shot down. I wrote a letter as well and mailed both to him.
He replied and sent me several inscribed books as well, inviting me to visit him in Rockefeller Center, where he was the manager of Eastern Airlines.
This never occurred. Why, I can’t say. Maybe because of believing it wasn’t possible.
Then, 46 years later, with Captain Eddie long gone, I decided to do something about it, in a period when things were very challenging for me. This was the time to elevate myself and in seeking my hero, I would also seek the hero inside of me.
In late 2012 I found his grandson online and arranged to meet him in Logan Airport, as he lived an hour away from there. I flew up, we met and he told me stories about Captain Eddie that almost no one would ever hear. The first of 3 steps was taken.
The next was to visit his former office in January, 2013. The closest I got was the lobby, where there was a huge wall mural depicting the history of transportation. Way up there was Captain Eddie flying his SPAD, leading all the other Allied fighter planes in the WWI period of the depiction.
The final and most momentous journey was to visit Captain Eddie’s grave and childhood home in Columbus, Ohio in November, 2013. From his grave and house I collected 2 jars of dirt, made rubbings of his name from his marker and thanked him for being my hero.
I finally met him and came that much closer to fully embracing, loving and valuing myself.