So tonight I was walking back to my dorm and I was in a pretty good mood. I took a route I don’t usually take and I happen across this rock, painted black, with the POW MIA flag painted perfectly on it. I had to stop and think… I miss you grandpa. Ray “Hap” Halloran. Rover Boys Express navigator and gunner, WW2. You enlisted right out of high school, and by the time you were 19, you had been on numerous flight missions. You and your crew were shot down over Tokyo, and you were taken as prisoner and sent to a camp. You lived off of a bowl of rice and a cup of soup per day. You used to tell me that a cockroach scurrying through your cell was a treat, because food was so scarce. You were slated to die, but the American troops liberated your camp just in time. You were taken stateside, awarded numerous medals, and went on with your life. You got into trucking, and made your way to the top to make millions. You were and honest businessman that taught me everything I know about money. But, you were also a gentleman. A man that I one day aspire to be. You would hold the door open for everyone, you were very polite and sweet. I remember we used to go down to the fish market and get clam chowder whenever I’d come see you. We used to sit on your back porch and watch the sun go by. We’d go to ball games. It was all so fun! I miss it. You even got in touch with the Japanese man who shot your plane down, and you went and visited him and his family in Japan. I remember you two were actually good friends. Pen-pals. Then, one day, you went to Guam… you fell down some stairs and hit your head pretty hard. You were in the VA hospital there, hallucinating about the war, having horrible flashbacks. My dad went and picked you up. For the longest time, all you wanted was ice cream and cheese burgers. You insisted on living alone when we got you back to California. We hired a person to come check up on you every couple days. After a year or so, you fell down the stairs again… this time much worse. You ended up in the VA hospital for several years after that. You kept fighting on, getting better, than worse, then better, and worse again… sometimes you recognized me immediately. Others, you thought I was my Dad, and that my dad was my uncle. Sometimes, you thought I was a stranger… It was hard seeing you like that. Bed bound, sick, depressed… After a few years there, you passed away in the middle of the night. Your heart of gold finally gave out. You were a fighter to the end, that’s for sure. We buried you in Arlington, peacefully, where you belong. Along with my two uncles. I cried hard during the funeral. However, I was lucky enough to receive one of the blank shells fired during your 21 gun salute. I value it so much. I made it into a necklace, and there hasn’t been a day where I haven’t worn it. I go back to your grave in Arlington. but that’s not where I feel you… I feel you the most every morning and every night, when I put on and take off my necklace. It reminds me of you and I know that you’re always looking down on me, smiling. You passed away 6 years ago… I’m in college now, almost 19 years old. I know you’re proud. I try to better myself every day, and forgive the most that I can. I try to be as sweet as possible, because you never know when life might end. I make sure every one knows how much I love them, because I never got to hug you goodbye. I always try to make people’s days better, and I always try to make them laugh. Just like you. They didn’t call you Ray “Hap” Halloran for nothing! You were always to joyous and happy. You were always smiling and looking on the bright side. That’s something you don’t see every day. It’s a great quality to have. I just miss you… I know I’ll dream about you tonight. I know you’re in a better place. I’ll stay strong, I promise. I always am. I love you grandpa, and I always will.