Today, an old man was found dead in his favorite chair, having passed peacefully in his sleep. He was my father-in-law. His name was Gene Easley.
He joined in the Army in 1946, as a young officer just of age. He served in the Army Air Force and then the Air Force. He was stationed in Germany at the beginning of the postwar period, when things were not yet settled. He was charged with guarding the payroll for his unit, a duty that obligated him to master the 1911 service pistol.
Later he was stationed in Libya, where he and his unit fought bandits attempting to raid military supplies. He left the military in the 1950s, and became an aerospace engineer for General Motors' defense contracting sections. During that time he worked on numerous secret programs, and was one of the designers of the Stealth program.
He took the usual oaths to keep our country's secrets, and kept them faithfully. Even in his seventies, talking to me in our occasional chats on national defense and policy, he never revealed any of the secrets -- many long obsolete -- that he had promised to keep.
In his youth he had fierce red hair and an Irish temper, and sailed the Carribean as an officer of the United States' Power Squadrons; in his age, his hair had turned to white, and to me he was always a perfect gentleman. When I asked for his daughter's hand, he smiled and told me he had no objections, but that he had raised her to make her own decisions.
As far as I know, he won no awards for his service, as in the time so close to the Second World War fighting bandits was mere 'light duty.' He did own several patents for original designs in national defense, though the revenue associated with them passed by contract to General Motors. He kept his oaths, in an age when that was expected -- before it became customary to see America's secrets leaked to the front page.
I liked the man, and I will miss him.