To the Editor:
Just writing you about my experiences with one of your staff writers.
Since he became involved in covering the North Country Honor Flight your writer Shawn Ryan has done a truly remarkable job. I have an incredibly full schedule and logistic issues that rival D-Day, so I do not go out of my way to write nice letters complimenting others for doing their job. What Shawn has done for us has prompted me to make this exeption. I find Shawn to be one of the most sensitive and caring journalists I have ever encountered. His desire to report not only the facts of every detail of the Honor Flight story, but also the emotion behind every person involved, is phenomenal.
When it comes to telling the stories of our heroes Shawn has shown to be a good listener and able to feel the compassion and respect it takes for these remarkable men and women to open up. In interviewing United States Marine Corps WW-II veteran Merwin Cowles about his combat in the bloody battle of Okinawa, Merwin broke down trying to describe the horror of what he faced. Out of troops and facing their last stand of the war in 1945, the Japanese reverted to using local children 8 or 9 or 10 years old as prisoners, attached bayonettes to bamboo sticks and sent them out of the caves at Nahau to go stab and kill the wounded Marines on the beachheads. Merwin was a crew chief on a team of three Amtraks, each equipped with the firepower of two 30-caliber machine guns on the front and one 50-cal on the back. Seeing their fellow Marines being murdered by children Merwin’s Lieutenant in command ordered him to open up. I am the first person in 68 years he ever told that story to, until he met Shawn. He still has nightmares about the slugs of the big 50-cal guns literally cutting these children in half. For him to have shared these agonizing memories with your writer implies a great feeling of trust he had with Shawn. And for the public to finally realize these warriors have carried these horrible memories with them for 70 years is part of our duty as a nation to finally recognize how much we owe them
I know that your editorial policy in allowing your publications to run so many consecutive stories about the Honor Flight is also without precedent. I can only thank you and assure you that the public wants to know every detail of the Honor Flight, every hero’s story, every parade, Flag ceremony, and mostly about every flight. The Honor Flight may well be the finest organization in America in regard to what we do and how well we do it, and I am only slightly biased in that regard.
Please keep these stories coming, please continue to give Shawn the immense credit he deserves for understanding the importance of what he is reporting, and please take a minute to let him know how indebted we are to him, to you, to John Gereau and to all of your readers for caring enough about the Honor Flight to give this such a high priority in your publications.
North Country Honor Flight