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Former south county resident recounts his world travels


June 22, 2005 - A former south county man was so confident in his ability to make friends wherever he goes that he completed a solo tour of Egypt, the Golan Heights and Jordan.

The son of the late Missouri Sen. Frank Bild, Norman Bild, 52, made his solo journey in 2004. Starting from Cairo in mid-April, Bild traveled to Sudan and visited the ancient temple at Abu-Simbel. He later toured the World War II battlefield at El-Alamein where British forces battled Ger-man Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, the "Desert Fox," and his Africa Korps.

"It's not the type of trip that's for everybody,'' said Bild, a 1971 graduate of Luth-eran High School South. "I wouldn't have gone on the trip unless I thought nothing bad would happen.''

Bild insists that he be remembered as someone who graduated in the lower third of his class at Lutheran South.

"I was a late bloomer and I got terrible grades,'' he recalled. "It wasn't until I got into the Marine Corps that things started to turn around for me.''

Bild served in the Marine Corps from 1972 through 1974 and could accept the necessity of the heavy turrets mounted on the back of the boat as he traveled on the Nile to Abu-Simbel.

Bild has grown accustomed to traveling alone.

"Traveling alone in Russia was more frightening than traveling alone in Egypt,'' Bild said. "There is more of a criminal element in Russia. No matter where you are, it is always best to be sensitive to their culture and taboos.''

Today, Bild makes his home in Clearwater, Fla., but he returns to St. Louis frequently to see his mother, Flora, who lives in the Concord area.

He recalls his parents' involvement in the presidential campaign of the first George Bush, his mother's ride in their motorcade and his father's campaign advice to the first Bush campaign that made a lasting impression on the president.

"When my father died, President Bush sent his condolences within 15 minutes,'' Bild said.

He credits his father with his sense of adventure.

Most of south county remembers Sen. Bild for his service from 1972 through 1991 or for his law practice. But Norm remembers the stories about his father's ex-perience as an Army Air Corps captain air lifting supplies to Chinese and their American advisers who resisted the Japanese invasion of China before the attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into the last world war.

"Dad saw the Army as a great adventure,'' Bild said. "I guess I took it a step further.''

In 1992 he was traveling alone in Romania when he found the village in which his father was born. Norm visited the place and found the home his father spent his youth. All that was left was the foundation.

"I brought him a few stones from the foundation and had my picture taken with the American flag there,'' Bild said.

When he returned with pictures of his hometown, Bild said his father cried.

"My dad asked: 'You did that for me?''' Bild said. "It was the only time I ever saw him cry.''

When he turned 51 Bild traveled to Antarctica simply because it was the only continent he had never visited.

Bild also is active in the search for American prisoners and those missing in action who still may be left in southeast Asia.

He has visited the Son Tay camp where many believe American prisoners were believed to be held.

Bild will present a plaque decorated with barbed wire from Son Tay to the U.S. Air Force Museum in Fairborn, Ohio, during a planned 2006 Son Tay prisoners reunion.

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