The WARBIRD – Three Heroes. Two Wars. One Story.
“Challenge is Life” her grandfather said. Then he jumped into an unkown bomber, and tookoff….without her. Tara’s grandfather didn’t talk about he war, when he died she lost connection, she lost understanding, and she lost his war story. “The WARBIRD” is the journey to get his war story back. Join Tara as she rides through a humvee in Iraq as an “embed”reporter. Walk with her through the national archives as she wears white gloves and tenderly handles 70 year-old military records that crumble at her touch. Join her on the journey to recover her grandfather’s story.
When reporter Tara Copp first held her grandfather’s World War II memoirs they felt like Treasure.
Here she would find the war she’d expected, after her own experiences in Iraq left her reeling.
Her grandfather had died 15 years before, before she could appreciate that he had a war story to tell. In his years of absence she’d built him into the memory she needed him to be. After Baghdad, she dove into those pages, looking for his hero story.
But the story was not there. Her grandfather left no specific missions. No dates, No names. The text was incomplete, sometimes incoherent.
It felt like a loss. She didn’t understand her own war experience, she couldn’t understand his, either.
Maybe he just couldn’t remember, she thought. Maybe he was already sick. Her grandfather’s last years were not good ones, those years her patient grandmother stayed at his side, typing as he barked out memories for hours each day before his mind left him.
An idea took hold: to finish this war story, for all of them.
The result is The Warbird. It weaves her family’s World War II story, rebuilt from historical records, photographs and news clippings, together with Tara’s own story from Iraq.
The Warbird is her grandfather’s bomber, the B-24 liberator, and that aircraft’s history at Willow Run, Michicgan, where it became the most produced warplane in U.S. history. The Warbird is Rose Leigh “Rosie the Riveter” Abbott, who was one of the 42,000 people at Willow Run who brought the Liberator to life. The Warbird is her grandfather, Col. Richard C. Harris, and his brother, Band of Brothers Easy Company paratrooper Staff Sgt. Terrence C. “Salty” Harris, as was the day both brothers were up in the sky against the Axis; only one came home.
Finally, The Warbird is Tara, perched on a Humvee with a four-man team of Airmen from Texas in 2003, and then at the edge of a hospital bed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center as one of those Airmen becomes one of Iraq’s first triple amputees. It is a journey of mistakes and loss, understanding and redemption made possible only by finishing her grandfather’s war story.
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