Gil Burns holds two crucifixes that he made out of nails. (Staff photo by Dave Rains)
On his 50th of 105 missions piloting a P-47 Thunderbolt striking German targets and giving air support to ground troops during World War II, Gilbert Burns found religion.
That often happens when a person stares at death and is given a second chance on life.
"I was hit by a flak. I thought I was dead," says Burns, 82, whose memories of that fateful day, Feb. 23, 1945 remains fresh. "For the first time in my life, I looked up to God and asked for help. By a miracle, he helped me."
Burns, a retired dental technician who lives a relatively quiet life in his Edgell Road home, is completing a book about his experiences in the war.
When he’s not writing or toiling around the house, he sits in his workshop doing a hobby that provides serenity, he said, and gives a feeling of being closer to God.
Burns makes abstract crucifixes from nails soldered together. Each is unique and measures 5-6 inches in length. They can be worn around the neck or hung on the wall for display.
The crucifixes have been given to visiting priests at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Shrewsbury and a few people around town. They have also been mailed to priests in England, Nigeria and Poland and to such notables as President George W. Bush and President Vkadimer Putin of Russia. [Source]