An 80th Birthday Surprise for a Military Veteran
Jim Lewallen and Richard Paradise in 1946, front of an Air National Guard C-46

Tuesday afternoon Sept. 11, 2012, Bob Laubinger received a call from Dean Paradise. He told Bob he was the son of a Korean war veteran, Richard Paradise, and asked if I could help his father (who lives near Los Angeles, Ca.) celebrate his 80th birthday on Sunday Sept. 16th by getting in touch with one of his dad’s Korean war buddies, Jim Lewallen, who lived in Mesa.

The idea was to set up a ‘video chat’ between them without Dean’s dad becoming suspicious beforehand.

Bob found Jim at the Sunrise Village Retirement Community near Falcon Field. He was all ready on board with the idea.

Bob met the park manager, Rita Hawks on Thursday. She was very helpful in allowing us to use the computer in the community center. She also downloaded the Skype application necessary to ‘video chat’ for him.

Bob had been working with Dan Wilson to put this together and he suggested a trial run before going ‘live’. During the trial run, I discovered there was no audio on this computer. Letting Dan know this, he said he would try to find headphones that would be compatible.

Jim Lewallen
Jim Lewallen

Dan’s mother, Barbara, gave me a call saying she had a set of headphones, which would work. She drove from Gold Canyon to give me the headphones. I plugged them into the computer and they worked fine.

On Sunday Sept. 16th, I met with Jim and his companion, Betty Rambo at the Sunrise Village community center at 1400 and commenced the ‘birthday present’. After a short period of fumbling around, mostly my unfamiliarity with Skype, the ‘video chat’ connected and the two friends relived some old times and talked family.

None of would have been possible without the generous help of Rita Hawks, Dan Wilson, his mother Barbara Wilson, Dean Paradise, and of course Bob Laubinger who put this all together.

Update: Jim Lewallen is in Banner Baywood Hospital Mesa recovering from a scheduled operation on Wed. Sept 19th, and at that time is not recovering as expected. Unfortunately on October 6th, 2012 at 11:00am Jim had passed away.

Richard Paradise