ONE WHO CAME BACK
When you are 90 years old memories come flooding back and memories trickle away. Bill served in WWII, the Cold War, Korea, and Viet Nam. He has flown over 60 aircraft and been to over 100 countries (when there were about 170 countries). He encountered thousands of military personnel as well as other famous people including royalty and presidents. He never lost a plane or a crew member.
Wild Bill has led an extrordinary life and is willing to share with the world both the moments and the emotions that came with his multitude of experiences.
What makes this site unique is Bill. He continues to live life to the fullest daily with an unwavering positive attitude and joy.
It is fortunate for us that Wild Bill was so observant, involved, saved everything, and can retell so many wonderful memories in such detail.
What Bill believes has kept him young is his wife, Shirley, dancing, music, swimming nightly, timing his meals in the British manner of 8, 12, 4, 8, and, of course, flying. He often says, "I'm the luckiest man alive."
Allow me to introduce 'Wild Bill' Copp through this ongoing website onewhocameback.com. You can expect to see many things brought to life through his eyes including people, stories, adventures, countries of the world, and of course aircraft.
Although a wealth of information revolves around his 30 year career in the US Air Force other stories noted are about his youth, his time as a young man, husband, father, citizen (in the stongest sense of the word), and a positive force in the community.
Keep in mind Bill did not achieve the rank of general or other high rank that would have easily afforded him access to all that is related here. No, he was in the background or serving in sometimes minor capacities where momentous events were occurring or persons of note were present. Bill’s ease in talking with everybody afforded him the opportunity to have a personal relationship with almost anyone he met. He attained the rank of Lt. Colonel , but that occurred after Viet Nam. Most of the stories are told when he held a lower rank.
My mom, Shirley, passed on Election Day in 2006. Bill likes to say, “Her vote counted." They were married for over 61 years. That is when I began to learn about my dad.
Shirley was silent about my dad so I never knew much. I think her silence was partly because many times Wild Bill operated under very high security clearance particularly during the Cold War and he was ordered never to discuss those events or where he was at any given time. But I think her silence was the way she handled the overriding fear during those years that he could be killed any minute.
Shirley and Bill wrote letters or sent tapes daily. They kept all of that correspondence from the vast number of times Bill was away on assignment. The Air Force moved their home 23 times. They moved 4 more times before they settled in Arizona.
I began talking nightly with my dad about his wondrous life. Our family decided the world needs to know about these things. Off and on Bill considered writing a book. I quickly mentioned how monumental a task writing historical fiction about his life could be.
My daughter said, “How about a website?” We agreed but Bill stipulated we only talk about the "good times." So a webography was born!
My father was always bigger than life not only to me but others. Perhaps the most apt description of the man that is my dad came when a friend introduced him to a new couple. The friend said, "He's not real you know."
You may think this is a work of fiction, but I assure you it is biographical and the evidence is in the 167 boxes Bill has in storage.
By sharing his memories I hope you will see why I consider him a national treasure. Perhaps you will be one who comes back.
Dad passed yesterday. He read his site nightly.
His proud daughter, Vicki
(c) 2006 Air Force Memorial
Bill was honored to receive permission to use the photo of this beautiful memorial on his site. He has always admired the design and felt its meaning.
William H. 'Wild Bill' Copp
ONE WHO CAME BACK
Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds -- and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled
and soared and sung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless
halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights
with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew.
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've
The untresspassed sancity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
John Gillespie Magee,jr