IMAGE: Ed Rasimus during a book signing event at the Dallas Museum of Flight, 2011, Love Field, Dallas, Texas.
A MEMORIAL DAY’S REMEMBRANCE: A HERO’S BURIAL
Approximately four years ago, Ed Rasimus was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. It was a solemn occasion, with military honors, with family and friends, and an act that included the throwing of nickels on the grass to “save a fighter pilot’s ass.” Unfortunately I wasn’t able to go, but his wife Carol was there, along with a cadre of Air Force buddies whose jobs of yesteryear involved the hurling of explosives to the ground and picking aerial dog fights with the enemy’s flying machines.
For those interested on viewing the events of that day, please click on the link below. It’s a video of the ceremony and the act that followed at the O-Club: the singing of “The Balls of O’Leary” by Ed’s friends of yore. Don’t know the name of the person that produced the video, but it was posted on Ed’s Facebook page by James Gundel.
Edward J. Rasimus, our friend, was a retired fighter pilot and the author of three books about the Vietnam conflict. He co-authored the last one, “Fighter Pilot,” the bio of legendary ace Robin Olds. Robin and daughter Christina were the other co-authors of that book. Ed flew over two hundred and fifty combat missions during two tours in Southeast Asia. I met him in Spain, near Madrid, at the 613th Tactical Fighter Squadron. He was the Ops Officer then; I was a WSO, a backseater, in the F-4 (a dual seat fighter jet also known as Phantom II or Big Ugly). I flew with him on several occasions, at Torrejon Air Base and at other NATO outposts. Also had the pleasure of parting bread with him and, of course, a few tequilas. He knew about chow, about wine and about enjoying life to the fullest. He was classy, too. I learned a lot from him. About a lot of things. He was a good soldier, a good man.
Some twenty years later, when I lived in San Diego, California, I stumbled upon a book on the shelf of a Super Crown bookstore in La Jolla. The book was called “Fast Movers;” it was written by John Darrell Sherwood. Before browsing its pages, I had the premonition of finding something about Ed in that book. Don’t know why.
But I sure did. His name was printed first on the table of contents. It read, “Chapter 2: 100 Missions North. Ed Rasimus and the F-105 Experience. Page 38. What a find. In that chapter, the author writes about First Lieutenant Ed Rasimus, sitting at the O-Club at Travis AFB on his way to Vietnam. And talks about Ed’s background, his training and about his fears. Wanna know the rest? You gotta read that book.
For now let me just tell you that “Ras,” as we called him then, was one of a kind, not just a fighter pilot. He was a leader, of all of us, the airmen that flew with him. The ones that parted bread with him and learned from that master that the final mission in life is often never planned.
Boy, we really miss Ed and his teachings. Rest in peace, sir.
AUTHOR: Pedro Chávez