"This was a four engine bomber, and it was built by the boeing company. Herb Heilbrun was a world war two pilot. John Leahr was as well: The type of airplane I flew that I got most of my time in was a P-51."
We all know that war wrecks havoc and grief.
But war can also be a powerful force of social change.
The repeated intersection of the lives of two Cincinnatians reminds us of that on this Veterans Day.
Here is a report prepared by Local 12's Jeff Hirsh.
John and Herb flew over Europe ... Herb in bombers... John providing fighter protection for Herb's unit.
But they didn't know each other ... also had no idea that well before the war ... they stood side by side in North Avondale school.
"I don't even remember him being in the class."
Same class, different universe. Cincinnati was largely segregated. The military completely.
John flew in the Tuskegee Airmen ... an all-black squadron
"20 some years after the war nobody even knew there were black pilots flying in World War two, would you believe that?"
Herb Heilbrun believed it ... and knew he was alive because of it.
So in 1998, Herb went to a Tuskegee reunion, trying to find someone to thank ... never imagining what would happen:
"I remember when John told me when he first met, he went to a little school in Avondale in third grade. I said John was there in the third grade. and I got out the picture. I sent it to him and said if this is you it's getting scary. And he said it is. And I really think it was destiny"
So decades after standing side by side .... and after fighting side by side ... Herb and John are truly side by side ... telling their story to kids ... in person and through a new children's book.
I am joined now by the two principals of this story John Leahr and Herb Heilbrun.