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THE MISSING MAN

I stood beside the empty grave
Waiting for my friend,
Saying deep within my soul,
"This cannot be the end."

Then I heard a mighty roar;
Looked into the blinding sky
As four planes in close formation
Streaked above to say good-bye.

In a single moment
One pulled out, up, and away
And left a gaping hole
In that formation on this day.

As he did a "barrel roll"
(Bounding upward to disappear)
I heard my friend's bright laughter
As I wiped away a tear.

In that priceless, shining moment
My heart leaped up with pride
For I knew my friend would forever fly.
I knew he had not "died."

  --Esther B. (Campbell) Gates
(In memory of Lieutenant General John R. Murphy,USAF, Ret.)