Russ Gackenbach has been a friend and a client of mine since the late '90's. He and his wife are very dear and kind people. I first met Russ in the Melbourne Kiwanis Club back in 1999. He was the Treasurer. Very good and methodical with $$. Now I know why. But for a year or so, I never knew his history. He didn't brag, never said a word, People in the club knew his Historical Past but Russ never let on. It was only later that a fellow club member told me, after Russ and his wife became clients of mine.
Over the years Russ and I have talked at detail bout WWII. He told of the secret training he took in Cuba for what reason he didn't know at the time. How only 3-4 people on Earth knew we were building the Atom Bomb...Tibbetts, Sec of War, Churchill and Roosevelt besides the scientist held up in New Mexico. My how that would not happen today or would it?
Russ was the Photographer of the Famous Photo that you and I have seen in Multiple school books in School. Take a look at this online book about what that was like being prepped for that flight.
When I heard the news today of Tibbet's Death I called Russ. He sounded good, told me his son-in-law called him after lunch to let him know. Russ and Tibbets were only 4 of the surviving crew of the mission I believe. They did a Discovery Channel show some 2 yrs ago to mark the 60th anniversary of the event. To this day not one man on the crew regrets what they had to do.I have to say that Russ is one of the Kindest, Sincerest Men I have ever met. Would not hurt a fly, yet with all that could be involved in that Bombing in the war. When it was over Russ went back to his home in PA, met a Lovely young woman Named Evelyn, who he never knew who grew up 2 miles from him, @ a Dance at a Fire Station. Got married had kids, now grandkids and live in sunny Florida.
So tonight I salute you Lt. Gackenbach...You are a Great American!!!
Yours in the Bond.