Booja

Booja and a Seventh Fleet brass plaque. Not pictured are Booja’s Gold Flight Surgeon’s Wings.

I have both my memories of being with my grandfather Simon, stories of him that I remember from others, and also I refer often to my academic pursuit of what he and the USAAF were doing in the Pacific and Western European/African/Middle Eastern theaters at that time.

Flynn is a name from O’Floyn in Ireland. We Flynns are from greater Springfield Massachusetts; namely Holyoke, West Springfield, and Feeding Hills near Agawam. Booj says that his name means “divine one”. I have many memories of my grandfather, yet they are from early in my life before he passed away when I was in sixth grade. I was fearless of of accepting a kiss from him when he sat in his chair, yet my sister Meghan was apprehensive and Booja’s jesting grew into this particular memory of his home on Craywell Avenue in West Springfield. Memories of those years for me seem somewhat incongruous. I was fascinated by the stand of Mountain Laurel to the north of the back yard and I remember the Paper Birch trees to the south in the front. The living room on the western side of the structure was a happy place during Christmas visits. To the east was a garage that had in the fifties been converted into one of several medical offices for his greater Springfield practice; complete with a lower level medical exam room through which I could pass to get to a finished basement. I remember being in the kitchen with him and lying in the bed which he shared with my Grandmother Virginia. “Ginny” was the name of his Jeep in the Pacific Islands too. They had met in medical school. She was a nurse.

A disputed memory of mine relates to the moving day when the family moved to Goose Rocks Beach in Kennebunkport Maine. (His purchase of oceanfront property, I believe, was resultant both of his Veteran and Medical connections and also due to the American reality of the 1956 Superhighway and National Defense Act.) I still have a brass lamp that he gave us on the moving day. Yet, I distinctly recall Booja looking down at me that day and and handing me a US Navy Rear Admiral’s flag, with instructions to never allow my uncle Gregory to have it.

As a flight surgeon in the Pacific Theater Booj practiced the art of Medicine on Army Air Force Airmen and air crews. He later became an OBGYN. It is difficult to discuss Army medicine in the context of the then impending invasion of mainland Japan; which the Admiralty had estimated would cause the death of half a million US Marines during the initial landing phase alone. Only Fat Man and Little Boy stopped those casualties… and that decision by the Admiralty and President Truman saved all the subsequent babies of those marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen. I am the son of such a “Baby Boomer”. Simon, son of Simon, son of Simon: “The Booj”.

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