Floyd Bishop and AU share a fair bit of history. He and his buddies first came up to Sitka over 15 years ago and Floyd has returned many times. He fished aboard my boat last summer when he was less than a month away from his 92nd birthday. Over the course of three days, I learned a lot about his extraordinary life and family history. Most of this came from his friends – Floyd could never be accused of tooting his own horn.
Floyd’s grandfather homesteaded in Wyoming in the late 1800’s and that’s where the Bishop family remained. His father, L.C. Bishop was State Engineer for 18 years, the longest term in state history. The State Engineer regulates water and L.C. negotiated many of the interstate treaties between Wyoming and neighboring states. Many of those treaties are still in place.
Floyd was earning a degree in Civil Engineering when the U.S. entered World War II. It’s hard for most of us to imagine men in their early and mid-20’s facing the dangers and responsibilities that Floyd and many World War II vets faced. He flew 35 missions as a B-29 pilot over Japan, including firebombing Tokyo at low altitude. He earned a Distinguished Flying Cross for landing his crew safely on Okinawa after an engine failed. He was stationed on Tinian in the Philippines when the Enola Gay was there being prepared for the atomic bomb mission over Hiroshima. After the war Floyd worked as a civil engineer and eventually served in the same capacity as his dad – State Engineer for Wyoming from 1975 until 1985.
Floyd will be 93 this summer. I’m not sure if he’ll make it up again – fishing the ocean for three days in a row might not be on his agenda. I feel lucky to have fished with him last year and gotten to know him better. Men like Floyd seem to be harder to come by with each passing year.