Showing posts with label Human Stories. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Human Stories. Show all posts

December 25, 2014

ThePerfect Human Leaves in Puerto Rico??




Drum workshop on Calle Loiza, Santurce, Puerto Rico. Photo by Flickr user Angel Xavier Viera-Vargas. CC BY-ND 2.0
Drum workshop on Calle Loiza, Santurce, Puerto Rico. Photo by Flickr user Angel Xavier Viera-Vargas. CC BY-ND 2.0
Is there such a thing as a “perfect human being”? Many in Puerto Rico seem to think so. And those who do, believe the closest thing to one is, precisely, a Puerto Rican.
At least, that is what can be gleaned from the social media buzz generated by a blog post by Lior Pachter titled “The perfect human is Puerto Rican,” published on December 2 on his blog Bits of DNA, written in reaction to the news that James Watson, co-discoverer of DNA's molecular structure, would be auctioning off his Nobel Prize.
Watson was shunned by the scientific community after he made incendiary remarks about how research allegedly pointed to the conclusion that black people are less intelligent than white people. This was only the latest in a long string of racist and sexist comments made by Watson throughout his career.
Pachter, who is a computational biologist, was being more than a little ironic when he chose the title for his post. The idea was to conduct an informal thought experiment to underscore how absurd Watson's obsession with genetically “improving” human beings really is. Essential to Pachter's thought experiment was the data on Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms, better known as SNPs (or “snips”) collected on SNPedia, an open database of 59,593 SNPs and their associations. The particular data Pachter used was collected by researchers at the Caribbean Genome Center at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez. 
Taras Oleksyk, one of the researchers involved in collecting the data, explained Pachter's thought experiment in a nutshell in a post published on the Caribbean Genome Center's blog a few days after Pachter's post went viral:
Using this genetic resource, Patcher [sic] looked at all the mutations in the database and notes the ones with a phenotypic effect. If the effect is positive, the mutation is beneficial. So the person with the most of the beneficial alleles and the least of the disadvantageous alleles must be the “perfect human”. It just happened that the sample that clusters the closest to this made up point was a woman we collected a sample from three years ago in Puerto Rico. She was therefore designated as the “perfect woman”.
Thus, the part of Pachter's post that gave it its title and that attracted the most attention:
The nearest neighbor to the “perfect human” is [...] a female who is… Puerto Rican. One might imagine that such a person already existed, maybe Yuiza, the only female Taino Cacique (chief) in Puerto Rico’s history.
Leaving aside the historical error (Yuisa was not the only female taíno chief that we know of, nor can she be considered Puerto Rican), Pachter, to his credit, immediately admits that to try to define a perfect human is very misleading, at best.
Oleksyk, who is also a biology professor at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez, felt obliged to offer some clarification in the post cited above, since it was the data that he helped collect that was used in Lior Pachter's exercise, even though he never imagined that it would help to cause such a firestorm on social media:
If the readers only read to the article’s conclusion, where they would notice that author is a fan of the “Puerto Rico All-Star Basketball Unicycle Team” they should ask themselves: How does this Berkeley professor know so much about Puerto Rico, while I live here all my life and I have never heard about such a thing?”
This is because the example is used to show that the author is sarcastic about this comparison. In fact, he is very happy that Puerto Ricans win the comparison, because he feared that the perfect human would be a white male of British descent such as Watson. For him, the exotic remoteness of the “winning” population is a great thing. As long as it were not Anglo-Americans, it could have been elves. Sadly, the audience did not see the subtle message, the resounding “Hurrah! We have won the race of the human race!” has made everyone unable to make a critical judgment.
This is no understatement. Spanish-language news agency Agencia EFE produced an article that treated Pachter's blogpost as a serious scientific study. That same article was later republished acritically in numerous news sites, including one of the most widely read Puerto Rican daily papers, Primera Hora, which, despite having the benefit of an interview with Lior Pachter himself, only helped to spread disinformation, leading many to believe that there really existed such a thing as a genetically “perfect” human and that the closest thing to one right now is a Puerto Rican.
Puerto Rican researcher Rafael A. Irizarry, a professor of biostatistics at the Harvard School of Public Health, who is also one of the most highly cited researchers in mathematics and computer science, wrote a Spanish-language post on his blog Simply Stats out of concern for the mistaken and downright worrying interpretationof Lior Pachter's post in mainstream media. After explaining what exactly the human genome is, how genetic variation works, and concepts like “race” in simple language, he finishes his post with the following thoughts:
In spite of our current social and economic problems, Puerto Rico has a lot to be proud about. In particular, we produce great engineers, athletes, and musicians. To credit their success to the “good genes” of our “race” is not only scientifically absurd, but also disrespectful to these individuals who through hard work, discipline, and dedication have achieved what they have achieved. If you want to know if Puerto Rico had anything to do with the success of these individuals, ask a historian, an anthropologist or a sociologist, but not a geneticist. Now, if you want to learn about the potential that studying genomes has to improve medical treatments and the importance of studying a variety of individuals, a geneticist will have a lot to share.

October 26, 2014

The Average Man, What are you?

[IMAGE DESCRIPTION]
Graphic renderings of modern males Appeared on The Atlantic


Todd is the most typical of American men. His proportions are based on averages from CDC anthropometric data. As a U.S. male age 30 to 39, his body mass index (BMI) is 29; just one shy of the medical definition of obese. At five-feet-nine-inches tall, his waist is 39 inches.
Don't let the hyperrealistic toes fool you; Todd is an avatar. I gave Todd his name, and gave his life a narrative arc, but he is actually the child of graphic artist Nickolay Lamm as part of his Body Measurement Project.
Todd would prefer perfection—or at least something superlative, even if it's bad—to being average. But Todd is perfect only in being average. With this perfection comes the privilege of radical singularity, which is visible in his eyes.
Though in his face this reads lonesome, Todd does have three international guyfriends. They met at a convention for people with perfectly average bodies, where each won the award for most average body in their respective country: U.S., Japan, Netherlands, and France. The others' BMIs, based on data from each country's national health centers, are 23.725.2, and 25.6.
I named them all Todd, actually, even though it could be confusing, because not everyone's name is a testament to their cultural heritage.
[IMAGE DESCRIPTION]
This is how Lamm made the Todds. It's also what zombie Todds look like.
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And here are Todds from the right.
[IMAGE DESCRIPTION]
Most people look better from their left, but Lamm rendered the Todds from their right, just because he can. To these men, Nickolay is God.
Avatars of various ethnicities are important, because obesity depends on culture and genetics. The weight of everyone's destiny may be equal, but some countries are fat, and others are not. The World Health Organization cares about that, because understanding the differences should help to explicate causes.
[IMAGE DESCRIPTION]
(World Health Organization; based on 2008 data)

So does history. Fifty years ago, American Todd would not have been round. The trend is not unique to men, either; Lamm just chose to work with white male renderings. The same CDC data puts the female BMI in this age group at 28.7.

U.S. Obesity, National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, 1960-2000

[IMAGE DESCRIPTION]
Americans are also losing ground in height. For most of two centuries, until 60 years ago, the U.S. population was the tallest in the world. Now the average American man is three inches shorter than the Dutch man, who averages six feet. Japanese averages are also gaining on Americans'. Anthropologists tie these recent changes primarily to diet and lifestyle, as we've turned habitable wilderness into excess.
[IMAGE DESCRIPTION]
(All images by Nickolay Lamm)
George Maat, a professor emeritus of anthropology at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, has said that within another 50 years, the Dutch Todd could be six-foot-three. Several years ago the Netherlands was compelled to increase building code standards for door frames. If in the last half-century the American physical form has been expelled from international imagination as an ideal, we might presently look at the situation not just as failure, but with optimism for what we might become.

September 1, 2013

Mandela is Back Home

Mandela arrives home


Johannesburg CNN -- Nelson Mandela has been discharged from the Pretoria hospital where he had been receiving treatment since June, the South African president's office said Sunday.
He will continue his recovery at home.
"Madiba's condition remains critical and is at times unstable," President Jacob Zuma's office said, referring to the revered leader's clan name. "Nevertheless, his team of doctors are convinced that he will receive the same level of intensive care at his Houghton home that he received in Pretoria."

Mandela, 95, was hospitalized June 8 because of a lung infection. He marked his July birthday at the Pretoria hospital where he has been surrounded by relatives.
"During his stay in hospital from the 8th of June 2013, the condition of our former President vacillated between serious to critical and at times unstable," the office said. "Despite the difficulties imposed by his various illnesses, he, as always, displays immense grace and fortitude."
There was some confusion Saturday when two sources close to Mandela said he had returned home -- only to be contradicted by the president's office, which said he was still hospitalized.
"The family mistakenly thought Mandela had been taken to his Johannesburg home early Saturday morning," the source then told CNN.
The frail icon has not appeared in public for years, but he retains his popularity as the father of democracy and emblem of the nation's fight against apartheid.
Mandela became an international figure while enduring 27 years in prison for fighting against apartheid, the country's system of racial segregation.
He became the nation's first black president in 1994, four years after he was freed from prison.
Mandela's impact extends far beyond South African borders. After he left office, he mediated conflicts in Africa and the Middle East.
His history of lung problems dates to his imprisonment on Robben Island, and he has battled respiratory infections since then

April 9, 2013

Fmer Vice Mayor Busted for Speeding While Having Genitals Out The Window

William Blakely via screencap
A former Tennessee politician was arrested and charged with indecent exposure after he allegedly masturbated out his car window while driving 90 mph on Interstate 26 earlier this year. Apparently this is not a new multi-tasking endeavor for the former Mount Carmel vice mayor — the charges mirror complaints made him against him several years ago that were never fully investigated. And now he’s facing up to all of them.
William Lee Blakely was charged with one count of indecent exposure after a female motorist alleged that he “fondled himself” and made obscene gestures while they drove next to one another on the highway.
Now that he’s been arrested for the charges, several women have come out to testify about similar stories in the past. “It seems that every victim would tell the same story. But I knew all the victims did not know each other,” Kingsport Police Detective Terry Christian told WJHL mediaite.com


March 11, 2013

When The Enemy is Neutralized Does it Need to be Killed?

Five days before Christmas 1943, a helpless American bomber pilot locked eyes with a German fighter pilot over the frozen skies of Europe. The German pilot spared the life of the American, and both men would reunite and become friends 50 years later. Franz Stigler and Charles Brown started the war as enemies, but during a tense wartime encounter, both men discovered a higher call. Click through the gallery to see more examples of military chivalry through the ages.<!-- -->
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</br>Source: <a href='http://valorstudios.com/a-higher-call-book.htm' target='_blank'>"A Higher Call," by Adam Makos and Larry Alexander</a>This a posting that appeared today at cnn.com

I have known of this story a few years and through the years have posted it at this blog. It is a moving true verified story of war that I believe teaches us many things but the main I believe is that it remind us of our humanity which we, particularly me, keep forgetting when we feel we are fighting on the right. 

Have not met anyone yet that says “I fight on the wrong”
Adam Gonzalez, Publisher of adamfoxie*blog thanks CNN for once again posting this beautiful story which in turn Im posting to you.


The pilot glanced outside his cockpit and froze. He blinked hard and looked again, hoping it was just a mirage. But his co-pilot stared at the same horrible vision.
"My God, this is a nightmare," the co-pilot said.
The men were looking at a gray German Messerschmitt fighter hovering just three feet off their wingtip. It was five days before Christmas 1943, and the fighter had closed in on their crippled American B-17 bomber for the kill.

The B-17 pilot, Charles Brown, was a 21-year-old West Virginia farm boy on his first combat mission. His bomber had been shot to pieces by swarming fighters, and his plane was alone in the skies above Germany. Half his crew was wounded, and the tail gunner was dead, his blood frozen in icicles over the machine guns.

But when Brown and his co-pilot, Spencer "Pinky" Luke, looked at the fighter pilot again, something odd happened. The German didn't pull the trigger. He nodded at Brown instead. What happened next was one of the most remarkable acts of chivalry recorded during World War II. Years later, Brown would track down his would-be executioner for a reunion that reduced both men to tears.
"He's going to destroy us," the pilot agreed.
People love to hear war stories about great generals or crack troops such as Seal Team 6, the Navy unit that killed Osama bin Laden. But there is another side of war that's seldom explored: Why do some soldiers risk their lives to save their enemies and, in some cases, develop a deep bond with them that outlives war?And are such acts of chivalry obsolete in an age of drone strikes and terrorism?

Charles Brown was on his first combat mission during World War II when he met an enemy unlike any other.
Charles Brown was on his first combat mission during World War II when he met an enemy unlike any other.
Those are the kinds of questions Brown's story raises. His encounter with the German fighter pilot is beautifully told in a New York Times best-selling book, "A Higher Call." The book explains how that aerial encounter reverberated in both men's lives for more than 50 years.
Their story is extraordinary, but it's not unique. Union and Confederate troops risked their lives to aid one another during the Civil War. British and German troops gathered for post-war reunions; some even vacationed together after World War II. One renowned American general traveled back to Vietnam to meet the man who almost wiped out his battalion, and the two men hugged and prayed together.

What is this bond that surfaces between enemies during and after battle?"The war left them in turmoil," says Adam Makos, who wrote the book with Larry Alexander. "When they found each other, they found peace.”
It's called the warrior's code, say soldiers and military scholars. It's shaped cultures as diverse as the Vikings, the Samurai, the Romans and Native Americans, says Shannon E. French, author of "Code of the Warrior.”
The code is designed to protect the victor, as well as the vanquished, French says.

"People think of the rules of war primarily as a way to protect innocent civilians from being victims of atrocities," she says. "In a much more profound sense, the rules are there to protect the people doing the actual fighting.”
The code is designed to prevent soldiers from becoming monsters. Butchering civilians, torturing prisoners, desecrating the enemies' bodies -- are all battlefield behaviors that erode a soldier's humanity, French says.
The code is ancient as civilization itself. In Homer's epic poem, "The Iliad," the Greek hero Achilles breaks the code when his thirst for vengeance leads him to desecrate the body of his slain foe, the Trojan hero Hector.
He's going to destroy us!
Charles Brown, B-17 bomber pilot
Most warrior cultures share one belief, French says:
"There is something worse than death, and one of those things is to completely lose your humanity."
Thousands of U.S. soldiers returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. Some have seen, and have done, things that are unfathomable.The code is still needed today, French says.A study of Vietnam veterans showed that those who felt as if they had participated in dishonorable behavior during the war or saw the Vietnamese as subhuman experienced more post-traumatic stress disorder, French says.

Drone warfare represents a new threat to soldiers' humanity, French says.
The Pentagon recently announced it would award a new Distinguished Warfare Medal to soldiers who operate drones and launch cyberattacks. The medal would rank above the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, two medals earned in combat.
At least 17,000 people have signed an online petition protesting the medal. The petition says awarding medals to soldiers who wage war via remote control was an "injustice" to those who risked their lives in combat.
Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta defended the new medal at a February news conference.
"I've seen firsthand how modern tools, like remotely piloted platforms and cybersystems, have changed the way wars are fought," Panetta says. "And they've given our men and women the ability to engage the enemy and change the course of battle, even from afar."
Still, critics ask, is there any honor in killing an enemy by remote control?
French isn't so sure.
"If [I'm] in the field risking and taking a life, there's a sense that I'm putting skin in the game," she says. "I'm taking a risk so it feels more honorable. Someone who kills at a distance -- it can make them doubt. Am I truly honorable?"
The German pilot who took mercy
Revenge, not honor, is what drove 2nd Lt. Franz Stigler to jump into his fighter that chilly December day in 1943.
Stigler wasn't just any fighter pilot. He was an ace. One more kill and he would win The Knight's Cross, German's highest award for valor.
Yet Stigler was driven by something deeper than glory. His older brother, August, was a fellow Luftwaffe pilot who had been killed earlier in the war. American pilots had killed Stigler's comrades and were bombing his country's cities.
Stigler was standing near his fighter on a German airbase when he heard a bomber's engine. Looking up, he saw a B-17 flying so low it looked like it was going to land. As the bomber disappeared behind some trees, Stigler tossed his cigarette aside, saluted a ground crewman and took off in pursuit.
As Stigler's fighter rose to meet the bomber, he decided to attack it from behind. He climbed behind the sputtering bomber, squinted into his gun sight and placed his hand on the trigger. He was about to fire when he hesitated. Stigler was baffled. No one in the bomber fired at him.
He looked closer at the tail gunner. He was still, his white fleece collar soaked with blood. Stigler craned his neck to examine the rest of the bomber. Its skin had been peeled away by shells, its guns knocked out. He could see men huddled inside the plane tending the wounds of other crewmen.
Then he nudged his plane alongside the bomber's wings and locked eyes with the pilot whose eyes were wide with shock and horror.
Franz Stigler wondered for years what happened to the American pilot he encountered in combat.
Franz Stigler wondered for years what happened to the American pilot he encountered in combat.
Stigler pressed his hand over the rosary he kept in his flight jacket. He eased his index finger off the trigger. He couldn't shoot. It would be murder.
Stigler wasn't just motivated by vengeance that day. He also lived by a code. He could trace his family's ancestry to knights in 16th century Europe. He had once studied to be a priest.
A German pilot who spared the enemy, though, risked death in Nazi Germany. If someone reported him, he would be executed.
Yet Stigler could also hear the voice of his commanding officer, who once told him:
"You follow the rules of war for you -- not your enemy. You fight by rules to keep your humanity."
Alone with the crippled bomber, Stigler changed his mission. He nodded at the American pilot and began flying in formation so German anti-aircraft gunners on the ground wouldn't shoot down the slow-moving bomber. (The Luftwaffe had B-17s of its own, shot down and rebuilt for secret missions and training.) Stigler escorted the bomber over the North Sea and took one last look at the American pilot. Then he saluted him, peeled his fighter away and returned to Germany.
"Good luck," Stigler said to himself. "You're in God's hands."
What creates the bond between enemies?
Stigler was able to recognize the common humanity of the enemy when he locked eyes with Brown. It caused him to take mercy.
That sudden recognition can spring from many sources in battle -- hearing the moans of a wounded enemy; sharing a common language; or opening the wallet of an enemy and seeing pictures of his wife and children.
That respect for the enemy's humanity typically starts at the top, some scholars say. A leader sets the tone, and the troops get the message. A military leader who embodied this approach was one of Germany's greatest World War II commanders, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, also known as the "Desert Fox."
One time, a group of British commandos tried to sneak behind enemy lines and assassinate Rommel in the North African desert. They failed. But Rommel insisted the commandos be buried in the same graveyard as the German soldiers who died defending him, says Steven Pressfield, author of "Killing Rommel."
There were battle zones during World War II where that type of magnanimity was almost impossible. On the Eastern Front, German and Russian soldiers literally hated one another. And in the South Pacific, U.S. Marines and Japanese soldiers took no prisoners.
At times, the terrain can force soldiers to follow the code. The North African desert during World War II was one such place, Pressfield says.
Fortunes turned quickly because so many battles were fought by fast-moving tanks and mobile units. A German unit that captured British soldiers could end up surrendering to them minutes later because the battle lines were so fluid. Also, the desert sun was so harsh that both sides knew if they left enemy prisoners stranded or mistreated, they would quickly die, Pressfield says.
In many ways, a soldier feels more of a bond with the enemy they're fighting than with the countrymen back home. The enemy they're fighting is equally risking death.
Steven Pressfield, author of "The Warrior Ethos"
It was not unusual for German and British doctors to work together while taking care of wounded soldiers from both sides, Pressfield says.
Some British and German soldiers never forgot how their enemy treated them and staged reunions after the war.
"The Germans and the British used to get together for soccer matches," Pressfield says. "It was the Desert Foxes versus the Desert Rats."
These soldiers weren't just engaging in nostalgia. They shared a sense of hardship. They had survived an ordeal that most people could not understand.
"In many ways, a soldier feels more of a bond with the enemy they're fighting than with the countrymen back home," Pressfield says. "The enemy they're fighting is equally risking death."
That bond could even lead to acts of loyalty after the war, says Daniel Rolph, author of "My Brother's Keepers."
Once, when a Union officer mortally wounded a Confederate captain during the Civil War, the Union man sang hymns and prayed with his enemy as the man took his last breaths. Before the captain died, he asked the Union officer to return his sword and revolver to his family -- a request the soldier honored after the war ended, Rolph says.
"I even have an article from The New York Times in 1886 where Union soldiers who were on the pension rolls of the federal government were actually trying to transfer their money toward Confederate soldiers," Rolph says.
These bonds can even form between enemies who do not share a language or a culture.
Harold Moore Jr. was a U.S. Army colonel who led a desperate fight depicted in the 2002 Mel Gibson film, "We Were Soldiers Once ... And Young. " In 1965, Moore lost 79 of his men fighting against a larger North Vietnamese force. It was one of the first major battles in the Vietnam War.
In 1993, Moore led some of his soldiers back to Vietnam to meet their former adversaries on the same battlefield. When they arrived, Moore met the Vietnamese officer who led troops against him, Lt. Gen. Nguyen Huu An.
Charles Brown, with his wife, Jackie (left), found peace after his reunion with Franz Stigler, with his wife, Hiya.
Charles Brown, with his wife, Jackie (left), found peace after his reunion with Franz Stigler, with his wife, Hiya.
An held out his arms and greeted Moore by kissing him on both cheeks. Moore gave him his wristwatch as a token of friendship.
Moore described in an essay what happened next:
"I invited all to form a circle with arms extended around each other's shoulders and we bowed our heads. With prayer and tears, we openly shared our painful memories."
An died two years after meeting Moore. Moore traveled to Vietnam to pay his respects to his former enemy's family. While visiting their home, Moore spotted a familiar object displayed in the viewing case of An's family shrine: It was his wristwatch.
A reunion of enemies
As he watched the German fighter peel away that December day, 2nd Lt. Charles Brown wasn't thinking of the philosophical connection between enemies. He was thinking of survival.
He flew back to his base in England and landed with barely any fuel left. After his bomber came to a stop, he leaned back in his chair and put a hand over a pocket Bible he kept in his flight jacket. Then he sat in silence.
Brown flew more missions before the war ended. Life moved on. He got married, had two daughters, supervised foreign aid for the U.S. State Department during the Vietnam War and eventually retired to Florida.
Late in life, though, the encounter with the German pilot began to gnaw at him. He started having nightmares, but in his dream there would be no act of mercy. He would awaken just before his bomber crashed.
Brown took on a new mission. He had to find that German pilot. Who was he? Why did he save my life?
The war left them in turmoil. When they found each other, they found peace.
Adam Makos, co-author of "A Higher Call"
He scoured military archives in the U.S. and England. He attended a pilots' reunion and shared his story. He finally placed an ad in a German newsletter for former Luftwaffe pilots, retelling the story and asking if anyone knew the pilot.
On January 18, 1990, Brown received a letter. He opened it and read:
"Dear Charles, All these years I wondered what happened to the B-17, did she make it or not?"
It was Stigler. He had had left Germany after the war and moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1953. He became a prosperous businessman. Now retired, Stigler told Brown that he would be in Florida come summer and "it sure would be nice to talk about our encounter."
Brown was so excited, though, that he couldn't wait to see Stigler. He called directory assistance for Vancouver and asked whether there was a number for a Franz Stigler. He dialed the number, and Stigler picked up.
"My God, it's you!" Brown shouted as tears ran down his cheeks.
Brown had to do more. He wrote a letter to Stigler in which he said: "To say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU on behalf of my surviving crewmembers and their families appears totally inadequate."
The two pilots would meet again, but this time in the lobby of a Florida hotel.
One of Brown's friends was there to record the summer reunion. Both men looked like retired businessmen: they were plump, sporting neat ties and formal shirts. They talked about their encounter in a light, jovial tone.
The mood then changed. Someone asked Stigler what he thought about Brown. Stigler sighed and his square jaw tightened. He began to fight back tears before he said in heavily accented English:
"I love you, Charlie."
Years later, author Makos says he understands why Stigler experienced such a surge of emotions.
Stigler had lost his brother, his friends and his country. He was virtually exiled by his countrymen after the war. There were 28,000 pilots who fought for the German air force. Only 1,200 survived, Makos says.
"The war cost him everything," Makos says. "Charlie Brown was the only good thing that came out of World War II for Franz. It was the one thing he could be proud of."
The meeting helped Brown as well, says his oldest daughter, Dawn Warner.
They met as enemies but Franz Stigler, on left, and Charles Brown, ended up as fishing buddies.
They met as enemies but Franz Stigler, on left, and Charles Brown, ended up as fishing buddies.
Brown and Stigler became pals. They would take fishing trips together. They would fly cross-country to each other homes and take road trips together to share their story at schools and veterans' reunions. Their wives, Jackie Brown and Hiya Stigler, became friends.
Brown's daughter says her father would worry about Stigler's health and constantly check in on him.
"It wasn't just for show," she says. "They really did feel for each other. They talked about once a week."
As his friendship with Stigler deepened, something else happened to her father, Warner says:
"The nightmares went away."
Brown had written a letter of thanks to Stigler, but one day, he showed the extent of his gratitude. He organized a reunion of his surviving crew members, along with their extended families. He invited Stigler as a guest of honor.
During the reunion, a video was played showing all the faces of the people that now lived -- children, grandchildren, relatives -- because of Stigler's act of chivalry. Stigler watched the film from his seat of honor.
"Everybody was crying, not just him," Warner says.
Stigler and Brown died within months of each other in 2008. Stigler was 92, and Brown was 87. They had started off as enemies, became friends, and then something more.
Makos discovered what that was by accident while spending a night at Brown's house. He was poking through Brown's library when he came across a book on German fighter jets. Stigler had given the book to Brown. Both were country boys who loved to read about planes.
Makos opened the book and saw an inscription Stigler had written to Brown:
In 1940, I lost my only brother as a night fighter. On the 20th of December, 4 days before Christmas, I had the chance to save a B-17 from her destruction, a plane so badly damaged it was a wonder that she was still flying.
The pilot, Charlie Brown, is for me, as precious as my brother was.
Thanks Charlie.
Your Brother,
Franz

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