David J. Lemal grew up in Rockledge, PA, and in 1943 gave up his job-related military deferment as a tool and die maker to enlist in the US Army Air Forces. At age 24 he was a staff sergeant who served as a tail gunner of a B-29 and flew 22 combat missions over Japan.
A bachelor at the time, David wrote letters to his mother, Lida Lemal, describing what life was like for a young airman who faced danger on every mission. Those letters were saved and some 70 years later became the subject of a book authored by David’s daughter, Charlene Briggs. The book title is "Letters To Lida.”
S/Sgt. David J. Lemal died at age 97 on May 11, 2019 while a patient at the Southeast Veterans’ Center in Spring City.Charlene knew how important the military was to her father and she knew that her father would have appreciated the rendering of military honors at his gravesite in Rockledge, PA. While the U.S. Air Force promised to render military honors, they could not guarantee a rifle squad to fire a final salute. Feeling that a rifle salute was important, Charlene reached out to her father’s North Penn VFW Post 676 where David had been a longtime member since his return from the war. Unfortunately, she was informed that David’s home Post no longer provided that type of service.
Charlene, a resident of Downingtown, continued to ask who might provide military honors and a chain of events just by happenstance put her in touch with Post 845 Adjutant, Tom Ames.
By another amazing quirk of fate, a Vietnam veteran friend of Tom suggested he read "Letters to Lida.” Tom purchased the book and he was so moved by its content that he felt compelled to contact the author. And so it was that Tom was more than mildly surprised when just a week or so after reading the book, he received a phone call from the same person he was seeking out.