By Joseph Stachon, Captain
How does one write a tribute to this rare man? That he was one of the most loved and respected of all those who were part of TALOA, IASCO and JAL is a certainty. I don't know where to begin. If I were to write down all of his qualities as a human being and a friend, and relate all the precious experiences we all had with him during the many years he flew with us, it would fill a thick, many-paged volume.
The wisest of men throughout all recorded history have repeatedly said that these are the greatest virtues: wisdom, courage, temperance and justice. I'm sure all of us who knew him will give him an A+ in each of these categories. Truly, he was a very cultured renaissance man of many talents and at the same time a very gentle kind and thoughtful man - a rare combination.
During the thirty years we frequently flew together I recall spending time together in cities and on islands all over the globe and it was always a special pleasure when he was part of the crew. I remember once we were stuck in Karachi with a load of passengers - all because of bureaucratic bungling on the part of the Indian government. We were there for a whole week. During this time my crew befriended an Indian craftsman who offered to sell us many beautiful pieces of his work at a reasonable price. He visited us almost every day so we became quite well acquainted with him.
Once, we were seated on the ground in a circle with the Indian man in the center. Somehow the subject of race came up and soon a heated debate was under way. Roland and I (Roland more effectively) insisted that potentially there was no difference between the people on earth, regardless of their race or national origin. As the debate reached a climax, one man who took the "white supremacy" side of the debate suddenly poked a finger at the Indian man and exclaimed, "Tell us which of us do you most respect?" This wise and gentle dark skinned man didn't want to offend anyone so at first he stared at the ground with downcast eyes and then without saying a word, he lifted his eyes and looked at Roland. There are times when silence is most eloquent. This was one of those times. The debate was ended.
Roland is gone but those who knew him will never forget him. Our precious memories of him are a favorite bequest indeed. Thank you Roland.