Well, 2014 is officially behind us now and the hype of the holidays is gently winding down. For me, lots of stuff happened. Some good some less than good but in all honesty, I can’t complain. 2014 was a great year.
However 2014 had also a sad ending for me for I lost two of my all-time best friends. Friends who cannot be replaced. Two wonderful guys that were taken way too early in their lives. Their friendships were generated through the love for our hobby. Their passing made me realize how vulnerable life can be and that mortality is only a heartbeat away.
Jozef (Joe) Maly passed away last November at the age of 57. I saw Joe at the Nats’ last year and nothing gave the indication that a mere two months later Joe would be gone for good. Joe was a goof-ball and many of you will sure remember his impersonations every year at the National Convention.
He was a kind, gentle, easy going individual whom never in the 18 years that I knew him, said a bad word. Joe was a good modeler and his passion for 1/32nd scale aircraft was endless. I met Joe 18 years ago at one of the conventions and we became instant friends.
Although he resided in the Czech Republic, our friendship never suffered from the distance. Every year, I always looked forward to seeing him at the show. He played a big part in our international family. The Nationals will never be the same for me without him and I’m sure that many, if not all the members of our close knit group, will agree.
It is wrong to mourn the men who died, rather we should thank God that such men lived.
-George S. Patton, General U.S. Army
Herman Mertens died suddenly last week December 29th at his home. The news came as a shock. Like Joe, nothing gave warning that Herman would be taken away from his family and friends so abruptly.
I knew Herman for over 35 years. My first encounter with him was when I was leaving a pub in Belgium I was visiting one late Saturday night. On my way out to the door and passing the bar, in my peripheral vision, I saw someone taking what looked like a 1/72nd P-47cowling out of a shoebox!?
It made me stop in my tracks. I asked him about it and he told me he had just bought an airbrush and painted the cowling bright yellow to show to his friend who was sitting next to him. I pulled up a barstool and we talked about models until early morning. Ever since then we were inseparable. We went to every show and convention, every airshow possible and made several trips per month to local hobby shops.
Herman and I enjoyed our hobby to the fullest. He was also a source of knowledge and had one of the biggest book collections. We had great times. Now there are only memories and I will miss him. He played a major part in the early beginnings of my professional career.
So Joe and Herman, if there is a plastic afterlife and you guys are there, maybe somehow sometime in the future we’ll hook up again and build our eternal model! I will miss you both!