He was a member of the US Army Air Force and while on a bombing mission, his plane was shot down. He parachuted and landed somewhere in Germany, was captured and spent the rest of the conflict as a prisoner of war in Stalag 17B, Austria.
When the war was over, he returned home with the memories and a pile of medals. He lived life quietly as an honorable man. He spent the last few years of his life in a nursing home, disabled with Parkinson's disease. Still his mission was not over because he had to "take care" of his wife Erma. She passed away in July; he passed away this morning. His mission was finally completed.
His medals identified him as a US hero. His life, all of it, marked him as my hero. Off you go into the wild blue yonder, Uncle Ralph. Godspeed.