GUYMON, Okla. – How many ways can you pay tribute?
How many times can you say thank you without ever getting a ‘You’re welcome’ in response?
Diane Roberts is still counting every day, wishing she could talk to the father she never knew.
“I probably know him better than any other daughter would know her dad,” she said. “He was never far from our minds.”
James H. Darden was a B-29 Super Fortress Pilot, a Panhandle kid from Texoma who loved speed and who married a girl from Guymon.
“He had a nickname of ‘Shifty,'” Diane smiled.
He was heading toward the end of a second tour when his plane was shot down over the Sea of Japan just before Christmas in 1944.
His daughter, Diane, was just 2 months old.
“It was never really scary or spooky,” she said. “We were just occasionally sad about it.”
Diane’s mother, Jeanne, never remarried.
She raised two girls and wore the necklace Captain Darden gave her until the day she died.
The family always kept his few remaining personal effects close by, including more than 700 letters he wrote home.
James Norriss’ father fought in Korea and came home.
James and Diane met while putting flags on veterans graves in Guymon.
When he heard about a new program to publicly honor veterans with banners to be hung on city streets in their hometowns, he thought about Diane.
“I contacted Diane,” Norris said. “And, she had all the paper work we needed.”
The Military Banner Tribute program thought of Diane too and donated a banner to honor her father.
The Guymon City Council unanimously agreed to put it up, and it hangs as of early August on Main Street.
“This is the first community west of the Mississippi they’ve ever done,” he said.
The people who knew Diane, the people who came to her house, always knew about her father, because of the models and medals she had on display or from the flag she always flew in her front yard.
Now, they know every time they drive down Main Street.
One more tribute from a daughter who doesn’t feel she can ever give too many.
The Veterans Banner Program started on the East Coast.
In fact Captain Darden’s banner is the first one in this part of the country.
If you’d like to know more about the company and what it takes to get a banner made, go to www.troopbanners.com.