When I began researching She Called Him Raymond , there was a sole living member of the World War II era B-17 crew that figures prominently in the story. I had the honor of meeting with Sergeant and tail gunner Keith Clinton three times. Our most recent meeting was at a presentation and book signing event in Grand Rapids, Michigan, his hometown, on Flag Day last month.
Like many heroes of America’s Greatest Generation, Mr. Clinton is a modest, soft spoken man of integrity and deep faith. When he shared his experiences during the war, he spoke mostly of pilot Raymond Stephenson and the other brave men who served on their crew. His memory was sharp and his descriptions vivid. Although 70 years had passed since most of the crew lost their lives in a fiery crash on September 6, 1944, he struggled emotionally to tell their story. You see, soldiers fight for their country, but they die for the men they come to love like brothers.
Keith Clinton just passed away at the age of 94. The last of a crew of loyal and valiant aviators. Thank you, Sergeant Clinton, for your service to our country and for sharing your story and the stories of the other brave men with whom you served. Anne Frank once said, “Those who have courage and faith will never perish in misery.” That being so, Keith Clinton certainly smiles down upon us from Heaven.