BY BOB SPIWAK
Two bald eagles flew over the Winthrop cemetery last Saturday. Their flight could be taken as a farewell to Red McComb, as a pair of U.S. Marines in full dress uniform rehearsed the folding of the American flag that covered the cedar coffin.
It was a sunny day that brought well over half a hundred friends and acquaintances to the service. Pastor Randy Picklesimer of the Mazama Community Church offered an invocation, remembrances and biblical quotes for the diminutive marine who fought in the landmark battle of Guadalcanal in World War II.
Mazama resident Frank Malley, another veteran of “The Good War,” now 92, played taps sweetly on his trombone, and as Old Glory was being folded and presented to Rick LeDuc at graveside, John Doran, attired in kilts, played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes. That flag will be raised at the Mazama Store every Veterans Day, continuing a tradition that began years ago. Now it has a special banner.
Also present at the ceremony was West Boesel part-timer Dan Tindall of the Washington State Patrol. Now on the governor’s staff, he carried a personal letter, not a form letter, celebrating McComb and signed by Gov. Jay Inslee.
This coming May, Mr. Malley and Rudy Peterson of Lost River will be taking the Honor Flight from Spokane to Washington, D.C. Rudy, another veteran, is well known for flights over the valley in his ancient biplane every Independence Day. The pair will be shepherded over by Pastor Picklesimer on the trip, which is financed by Honor Flight, a nonprofit organization. Every participant must have a healthy “guardian.”
Randy’s expenses, however, are up to him. When I spoke with him he was typically reticent about getting donations, so I have taken the liberty of arranging a “fund” with the Mazama Store. Donations of any size will be appreciated, payable to the Mazama store and – this is important – write Honor Flight on the memo line of your check. I do know that the cost of Picklesimer’s airfare is almost $1,000. We’ll have more details on the honor flight in a later column.
Eric Burr reports that hikers and climbers can now access the higher overlooks, but snow still blocks the way over to the Spokane Gulch Trail above Mazama. There is, he says, a mile of snow in the forested section that separates two popular flower hikes.
If you are looking ahead to Memorial Day and the age-old Mazama Pancake Breakfast and footrace, there’s been some changes made. At least at this time. The breakfast has been canceled for lack of anyone willing to take on the responsibility of getting volunteers, ordering food, cleaning up the community hall and the myriad other chores that are involved. Retiring organizer Claire Bunney had to beg to get even a skeletal staff to run the show over the past few years. And, the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association will not be involved in this year’s run, which is being taken over by a group not affiliated with the venerable trail association.