In our conclusion of Henry Passi’s interview on his life in the AirForce, the expressive storyteller is a true one of a kind gentlemanwith goals in mind. He went after and achieved greatness, has a keenmemory for names and stops along the way, a love of Cecil County, therespect for our veterans as he is one and a love for his wife Sylvawho played an important part of his military career and his own life.He not only talks about history, he lived it firsthand.
“All wars are terrible, I’ll tell you that. When we arrived atTravis Air Force Base (California), our own Air Force people, I don’tknow by what authority, suggested to us when we go to San Francisco,do not wear your uniforms because of all the demonstrations againstthe war. That was unbelievable. It really took me. I went in, took ashower, put on a clean uniform, shared a ride with three other guys toSan Francisco Airport. My family was in southern California, they werewaiting for me to get back. On the way, I was reading the SanFrancisco newspaper in this taxi. Reading the reports on Vietnam, howour troops were ready to rebel because they were being forced to gointo Cambodia. Less than 72 hours prior to that, I had flown in therewith them. I saw with my own eyes how high the moral was. This is aclassic example of how the press mislead the American public. Well Iwas at San Francisco Airport, marched around a couple of hours waitingto catch a flight to where my family was at, but I was really upsetabout that reporting. Got home, had dinner, I couldn’t sleep thatnight. Just anxiety with the time change and everything, but it reallybothered me.”
“Our next assignment was at Andrews (Air Force Base, Maryland). Ipicked up the family in southern California and we took some leave.When we got back here, we lived in Silver Spring (Maryland). We tookverbal abuse from our neighbors because of this situation in Vietnam.Silva had been verbally abused by our neighbors in California whodidn’t know the situation. That’s how bad that misreporting affectedour nation.”
“I became a veteran on the 3rd of February, 1983. I’ve completed 30years in the Air Force. The retirement ceremonies and activities wereat Andrews Air Force Base. A lot of classmates from high school,county officials came to the retirement. It was a lovely day. Mymother was still alive, so she was there and Sylva was there. I willtell you to this day, Sylva was an important part of my life and myAir Force career. Besides handling all 18 of our movies, taking careof three children who all made out very well, she got more involved inthe social aspect, she made a big difference. Very few veterans wivesreally get active, but my wife did. A lot of people believe that inmilitary careers, wives aren’t important in it. Women don’t get thecredit they deserve of taking care of their family’s and taking careof their husbands. I feel this very strongly.”
“When we came back here (Cecil County), I immediately became a lifemember of the VFW of North East. Got involved a couple of years laterwith the Rising Sun American Legion. The thing that we were proud ofis that we started the Salute To Veterans and the veteransorganization sponsors it on the 3rd of July, always the evening beforethe 4th of July with a big fireworks display in North East. We’ve donethat for 20 years now. Carol England and I were first there, now it’schanged leadership. Because of my health and Sylva’s health last year,I resigned from it, but I still support it.”
Henry “Hank” Passi and his book showing him holding the American flag when he was 12 years old.