This is the story of the Florida bird man Eddie Rickenbacker – not like the bird man of Alcatraz. Once a week this elderly man walked down to a Florida pier as the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico.
He carried a bucket of shrimps and fed the sea gulls who whirl around him. After the shrimps had gone, he stayed and lingered and the birds hung around too.
Why? He couldn’t go more than a week without saying thank you. And this is his story
Eddie was a WW1 fighter ace. During WW2 he was called up to serve again, despite being older than the average air crew.
In October 1942 Eddie was part of a hand-picked crew in a B17 Flying Fortress delivering a message to Gen Douglas MacArthur- they got lost, the fuel ran out, they ditched in the South Pacific. All eight crew escaped into the life rafts. They battled the weather, the waves, the sharks and the sun.
Apart from rainwater all their rations were gone after eight days. They had run out of options. The men in the rafts did the only thing they could do- they had a prayer service and then tried to rest. As Eddie dozed a sea gull landed on his hat. The sea gull meant food and its offal provided fish bait and the men ultimately survived.
Why was the bird hundreds of miles from the shore? Only God knows but, whatever the reason, Eddie was thankful; and every week for all those years he walked down at sunset on a Friday with a bucket full of shrimps and a heart full of thanks.
Max Lucado comments on this story as follows:
“We would be wise to do the same. We have much in common with Eddie. We too were saved by a sacrificial visitor. We too were rescued by one from only God knows where. And we, like Eddie, have every reason to look into the sky and worship.”