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  1. It happens every Friday evening, almost without fail, when the sun resembles a giant orange and is starting to dip into the blue ocean so peaceful is the setting. Old ED comes strolling along the beach to his favorite pier. Clutched in his bony hand is a bucket of shrimp. He walks out to the end of the pier, where it seems he almost has the world to himself. The glow of the sun is a golden bronze now, everyone has retreated for the day except a few joggers on the beach. Standing out on the end of the pier, old Ed is alone with his thoughts but thats the way he likes it along with his bucket of shrimp. He knows he will not be alone in a minute or two. Up in the sky a thousand white dots begin to appear. They come screatching and sqawking, winging their way to him because they have become accoustomed to old Ed's visit every Friday evening and they know what he's got. When he toss the tasty shrimp up in the air the birds go wild trying to catch it. Each toss, he says thank you, thank you as each shrimp is downed by the birds. Even after the bucket is empty he stills stands there watching the birds as they land on the pier railing watching his every move. Ed is lost in thought tranported back to another place and time in his life. One of the gulls lands on his sun bleached, weather- beaten old military hat from back in the day. One more time he says thank you to all the gulls looking at him then turns around to walk back to the beach. The one on his hat finally flys off until next time. They know he will be back as he is each week. Old Ed quietly makes his way down to the end of the beach then on to home. Now if you were sitting there beside old Ed while he is doing this, you might think he is one sandwich short of a picnic but there is a story behind his behaviour. To onlookers he is just another old codger, lost in his weird world feeding the seagulls because he has nothing else to do. We all know old folks do some strange things at least in the eyes of Boomers and Busters. That's to bad, they'd do well to try to know him better. His full name was Eddie Rickenbacker. He was a famous hero back in World War II. On one of his flying missions across the Pacific, he and his seven-member crew went down in the Ocean in the middle of nowhere. All the crew survived, crawled out into a life raft. Captain Rickenbacker and his crew floated for days on the rough waters of the Pacific. They fought the sun, they fought sharks trying to deflat their raft and most of all they fought hunger. By the eight day their rations ran out, no food, no water and they were hundreds of miles from any land and know one knew where they were. They needed a miracle. That afternoon they had a simple devotional service and prayed for a miracle. They tried their best to nap, Eddie leaned back and pulled his military cap over his face...the same one he still wore on the beach. Time dragged on, all he could hear was the slap of the waves against the raft. Suddenly Eddie felt something land on top of his cap. It was a seagull and he thought what is a seagull doing way out here but he didn't question it. Old Ed would later describe how he sat perfectly still, getting into position to grab the bird. He grabbed it wring it neck and plucked the feathers for a meal. The crew of seven made a slight meal of it. They use the insides of the bird for bait and caught fish which gave them more food and bait over and over to survive. Fresh water was caught in a bucket they saved when it rained. With that simple survival technique, they were able to endure the rigors of the sea until they were found by a passing plane some 24 days later.Eddie Rickenbacker lived many years beyond that ordeal, but he never stopped saying, Thank You to the very birds that saved his and his crews life. That's why every friday evening he would walk along the pier with a bucket of shrimp and a heart full of gratitude. Eddie went on to become a race car driver, an aviation consultant, and airline executive using his skills in the industry. Rickenbacker was influential in the General Motors acquisition of Eastern Air Transport, which was later renamed Eastern Air Lines. In January 1934 Eddie became general manager for Eastern Airlines and later served as its president. Eddie never forgot who was listening when he prayed that prayer for his life to be sparred and in the years following it he stayed true, Thanking God and when he retired he gave back the the very birds that saved his life.
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