On the final ascent to complete the NE115 (115 highest mountains in the Northeastern U.S.), I carried 8 flags to the summit in honor of 8 men, members of a WWII B-17 crew, most of whom lost their lives in a fiery crash in 1944. The last survivor recently passed away. I am grateful to have written the story of my namesake, Pilot – Lt. Raymond Stephenson, and his loyal and valiant crew; Co-Pilot – Lt. Joseph Ward; Navigator – Lt. Eugene Swiatnicki; Engineer – Lt. Earl Westerholm; Radio Operator – Sgt. Joseph Minery; Gunner – Sgt. Keith Clinton; Gunner – Sgt. Leonard Licurse; and British Meteorologist – Sgt. Marvin Rogers.
The skies thundered and lightning flashed nearby as my companions and I approached the top of Mt. Abraham. However, when we reached the summit, it was calm. I couldn’t help but think those brave lads guarded us, just as they had protected a grateful nation more than 70 yeras ago.