A Memorial Poem For the “Big Bird” Flying Tiger Flight 923
By Garret Ahern, Dublin, Ireland
Out from New Jersey,
Big bird spreading wings,
Trundling east-ward, in
Three-score souls and ten-
And more aboard,
Service by the
Rhine in mind.
Far beneath lies rolling
Unfriendly to the stricken
Big bird descending,
Frantic prayers implore –
Then impact, devastation.
Plucked from the inverted,
The lucky greet new
Friends and shipmates.
In time, diverted,
The good ship “Celerina”
Nears its rendezvous.
Green fields plain to see.
By Galley Head, the
Stampedes a flock of sheep,
Away west, wave-battered
Big bird settles,
Low in the briny deep.
© 2012, Garry Ahern
Garret Ahern, presently of Dublin, Ireland, was a member of the first Emergency Rescue Team at the brand new Cork, Ireland Airport in 1962. His team participated in the evacuation process which delivered 17 of the most seriously injured from the Swiss rescue ship, The Celerina, to Cork’s Hospitals.
Many years after the tragedy while taking an adult education course on writing he became very interested in the details of that day. He had to write a story. He remembered the incident and the name of the ship, the “Celerina,” but he couldn’t remember the name of the airline. His research unearthed a treasure of information from Irish newspapers, all of which he has made available to this website. The photo to the left was taken recently at a Memorial Pre-meeting at Cork Airport. Attending that meeting was the present head of the Cork Airport Emergency Rescue Team, all three members of the first emergency team which included Mr. Ahern, a fisherman who was contracted that day to escort a group of reports to a vantage point near the ship and helicopters, a passenger-survivor and a member of the Celerina crew that day, in 1962. In total, six persons who were present that day a full half century ago participated in the meeting.
A miracle from heaven
God spared my life
The Atlantic waters were frigid that night
Jesus made sure we missed that flight
So many moons ago
Three propeller engines gave out
Mayday in the clouds
My mother arrived too late for that departure
Three kids in tow
We were on the tarmac
A stone’s throw from the plane
Military police said we had to take the next flight out of McGuire
That night the Super Constellation (flying tiger) went down
September 23, 1962
I had just turned eight
Now I’m a testimony of God’s grace
You see, the ocean was not to be my grave
I thought I saw my father crying as we entered the room at Rhein-Main Air Force Base
Out of seventy-six passengers
Only forty-five were rescued in the rough North Atlantic waters
That plane was supposed to carry eighty people
Four of us arrived 10 minutes late
Copyright © 2008Gerald Henrich
All rights reserved, reprinting by permission only
Gerald Henrich resides in Springfield, Va and is currently finishing an Associates of Art degree in music.
Please feel free to look at some of his other works @ lyricspinner.com or contact him at email@example.com. Thank you
I would like to use this at some point. I could use the poem first and possibly the full story later. fres
Ode to Big Bird (Flying Tiger 923) I love this tribute to that event. Well written.Garry
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