Thursday, December 31, 2009

Other 1909 Events

By 1909, none of these had been invented: zippers, band-aids, bubble gum, penicillin, sun glasses, ballpoint pens, shopping carts, nylon stockings, kitty litter or milk cartons.

Life expectancy was 47 and 230 murders were reported. An accountant could expect to earn $2000 a year and a dentist $2500. An average worker could expect $200 to $400.

Sugar was 4 cents a pound and eggs 14 cents a dozen.

Most women washed their hair once a month, usually with Borax or eggs for shampoo.

Leading causes of death: pneumonia, influenza, tuberculosis, heart disease and strokes.

World population in 1909 1.7 billion. World population today 6.4 billion.

Interesting Stuff. --DaCoot

1909 Events: Then and Now-- Part 2

6. HEAVIER THAN AIR FLIGHT-- July 25, 1909, first flight across the English Channel. To commemorate it, a guy crossed the Channel with a jet pack on July 25, 2009.

7. INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY OPENS-- August 14, 1909-- and still going strong. I took a trip around the track in a bus this past spring. I'm not a race fan, but would recommend the trip and museum.

8. FIRST PARIS AIR SHOW-- September 25, 1909--still going on and one of the most prestigious in the world.

9. CHERRY MINE DISASTER-- November 13, 1909-- in Illinois. One of the worst-ever mine calamities where 259 men died. This past November 14th, a marker was dedicated at the site. Until this year, I knew nothing about it. Since then, I've come across four articles about it.

10. TALLEST BUILDING IN THE WORLD-- November 1909, the Metropolitan Life Building in New York City opened at 50 stories and 700 feet. Called the Met Life Tower, it remained the tallest building in the world until the Woolworth Building opened in 1913.

On October 1, 2009, it was reported that the exterior of the Burj Dubai at 2,684 feet and 160 floors.

Interesting Facts Over a Hundred Years. --DaCoot

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Top Tens of 2009-- TV Programs

Well, I watch four of them. I do not watch any so-called REALITY shows.

1. American Idol, Fox, Wednesday 14.4 rating
2. American Idol, Fox, Tuesday 13.8

3. Dancing With the Stars, ABC 12.0
4. NBC SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL, NBC 11.7 I don't like night football, but will watch if the Bears or Packers are playing.

5. Dancing With the Stars-- Results Show, NBC 9.9
6. NCIS: Los Angeles, CBS-- 9.8 I'm getting used to it.

7. NCIS, CBS-- 9.4 One of my favorites. However, it took awhile to get into this one as it was introduced in a JAG episode where Mark Harmon was going after Raab. I liked Raab, so did not like Harmon.
8. NFL Regular Season, ESPN 8.8 Again, only if the Bears or Packers are playing or it happens to be on in the bar I'm in.

9. Sunday Night NFL Pre-kick, NBC 8.8
10. The Good Wife, CBS 8.5 What, a crook in Chicago. How'd that happen?

No LCD Yet. Th

1909 Events: Then and Now

Thanks to the good folks at List Universe, December 21st. As we finish 2009.

1. FIRST MAN TO MAGNETIC SOUTH POLE-- January 16, 1909. 2009-- many go now by air but much more difficult back then. Some disagreement if they really did reach it back then.

2. WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT INAUGURATION-- March 4, 1909-- Obama Inauguration January 20, 2009

3. TITANIC CONSTRUCTION BEGAN-- March 31, 1909-- Last survivor, Millvina Dean, 97, dies May 31, 2009. Nine months old when ship sank.

4. FIRST MAN TO REACH NORTH POLE-- April 6, 1909, Robert Peary. 2009-- many going there by air.

5. TEL AVIV FOUNDED-- April 11, 1909. 2009, Israel's second largest city. with 300,000 population.

Always in Tens. More Tomorrow. --Cooter

Deaths in 2009

I came across a rather long list in the Chicago Tribune Obituaries of people in the movies and TV who died this year.

These are some who I can relate to or of whom I knew.

Karl Malden-- Streets of SF, Patton
Farrah Fawcett-- couldn't avoid that poster
Patrick Swayze-- dancin' fool who could beat you up-- North and South, Dirty Dancing, Cocktail
Bea Arthur-- vs. Archie, Maud, Golden Girls
John Hughes-- directed many of my favorite movies
Ricardo Montalban-- Da Plane, Da Plane-- Khan
Gene Barry-- Bat Masterson
David Carradine-- Grasshopper
Ed McMahon-- Here's Johnny
Dom DeLuise-- One Really Funny Guy, Smokey % the Bandit 2
Gale Storm--
Larry Gelbart-- MASH
Henry Gibson-- Another really funny guy. Laugh-In, Blues Brothers
Soupy Sales-- Fun was his name. Hey kids, send...

We'll Miss These Guys and Gals. --DaCoot

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Is Doolittle Raider James H. Macia, Jr, Dead?

The December 22nd Sierra Vista Herald (Arizona) reported the death of Doolittle Raider James H. Macia, Jr., 93, one of the last nine surviving members of the famous attack on Japan that did so much for American morale a few months after Pearl Harbor.

They got the news from his nephew Burton Devere of Tombstone who said his uncle died December 21st in Philadelphia. I am not subscribed to their service so didn't find out anything else.

However, I did not find mention of his death anywhere else, so think perhaps he did not die. Sure hope so.

I went to the Doolittle's Raiders site at and found out a few things about Macia. He was born April 10, 1916 in Tombstone, Arizona and graduated from Tombstone High School before attending the University of Arizona before leaving to join the military in 1940. He became a second lieutenant in the air corps in June 1941.

After the Doolittle Raid, he was on 80 missions in Europe. He was out of the military in 1946 but back in during 1950 and was the last of the Raiders to retire from active duty in the 70s.

Sure Hope he Didn't Die As I Am Considering Going to the Next Raiders Reunion in Ohio Next Year. --Cooter

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Lot of Money for a Book

A first edition of Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There" recently sold at auction for $115,000. It is the 1871 sequel to "Alice in Wonderland" and is dedicated by Carroll to the real Alice who inspired the books.

That would be Alice Liddell, daughter of an academic friend of his. It is inscribed in ink: "Alice Pleasanse Liddell."

In other way-too-expensive-for me book news, English author Beatrix Potter's personal copy of her "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" sold for $92,000."

No Wonder I Don't Read Much. --DaCoot

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Baseball Greats Go To World War II

The November 11, 2008 Stars and Stripes had an article about baseball players going off to World War II.

JERRY COLEMAN-- In nine seasons with the New York Yankees, he was on four World Series winners and in the 1960s was a broadcaster. During World War II and the Korean War he was a Marine Corps aviator. These service terms cut short his career, but he never regretted it.

BOB FELLER, Hall of Fame. Signed up one day after Pearl Harbor without consulting the Cleveland Indians because, as he said, it was the right thing to do. He spent four years in the Navy as a gun captain.

MONTE IRWIN-- Negro League. Later one of the first blacks to play in the Major Leagues. His unit secured parts of France after D-Day, but was kept away from the heaviest fighting because of the bias against black soldiers.

Baseball Goes to War. --Cooter

Friday, December 25, 2009

$19.3 Million

This is the gross earnings of "A Christmas Story" when it was released in 1983. I must admit that I didn't see it, but wish I had.

It's theater run lasted from November 1983 to January 1984, including $2 million on its opening weekend according to IMDB. By comparison, "Avatar" brought in $73 million on its opening last weekend. Including my $7.50 (with 3-D glasses).

Not great shakes then, but rates out pretty well now on TV.

Triple Dog dare You. --DaCoot

Top Ten Christmas Songs

According to the AOL Radio Blog, these are the Top Ten Christmas songs.

1. WHITE CHRISTMAS-- Bing Crosby, of course. Although I like the Drifters' version better.

2. THE CHRISTMAS SONG (CHESTNUTS ROASTING ON AN OPEN FIRE)-- Nat King Cole-- Roasted Chestnuts ARE NOT as good as they sound.

3. CHRISTMAS CANON-- Trans-Siberian Orchestra-- the background to a million light shows by THE Christmas Band these days.

4. IT'S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS-- Perry Como-- Love that voice.



7. ROCKIN' AROUND THE CHRISTMAS TREE-- Brenda Lee-- This one and Jungle Bell Rock for my rockin'.

8. LET IT SNOW! LET IT SNOW! LET IT SNOW-- Dean Martin-- a liitle snow is ok, but let's not go overboard.

9. O HOLY NIGHT-- Nat King Cole

10. HAVE A HOLLY JOLLY CHRISTMAS-- Burl Ives-- something about that voice.

Have a Merry, Merry, Happy, Happy.-- Cooter

Thursday, December 24, 2009

USS Detroit CL-8

A Wikipedia follow up on Chris Harame's ship at Pearl Harbor, the USS Detroit.

The Detroit was commissioned in 1923 and decommissioned in 1946 when it was sold for scrap.

It was 555 feet long, had a 55.4 inch beam, top speed of 34 knots and mounted 10X6 inch guns and part of the Omaha-class of light cruisers.

In 1941, its home base was moved to Pearl Harbor where it was moored at its base with sister-ship Raleigh and the Utah when the attack came. Six torpedo planes attacked them, but despite being strafed, the Detroit received no damage and was able to get under way. The other two were not as lucky.

The Detroit put up anti-aircraft fire and had part in shooting down several planes. After the attack, she was ordered to cruise along Oahu's west coast and look for rumored Japanese landings and then took part in the search for the retiring Japanese fleet.

It returned to Pearl Harbor December 10th and started convoy duty. From 1942 to 1944, it was in Alaskan waters.

A Lucky Pearl Harbor Ship. --Cooter

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Idaho Pearl Harbor Survivor

November 23rd KPVI News 6 NBC.

Chris Harame left Pocatello in 1938 by joining the Navy and found himself aboard the USS Detroit as a gunner's mate on that fateful day.

He had just finished breakfast and was getting a head start on his holiday correspondence, "So, I was there writing my Christmas cards, I had the doors open to the mount, it was a nice cool breeze coming through...all of a sudden I heard those planes."

"I'm out there looking at this stuff and I can't believe it, because it happened, and it's not supposed to happen. It's like you're looking at a movie or something like that, like you're looking at something only it's real. I mean these ships are blowing up and people are getting killed and the planes an they're dropping bombs and torpedoes."

"I never thought of dying or getting killed." The Detroit narrowly missed getting hit by torpedoes and no one was injured.

Harame still has some shell casings fired on that day, but, "Incidentally, I don't know what happened to my Christmas cards."

Later in the war, he became a Naval diver and is one of only two Pearl Harbor survivors in the Pocatello area.

The Greatest generation. Wonder What Happened to Those Christmas Cards? --Cooter

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

First Images of Centaur in January reports that the first images of the AHS Centaur will be taken after the turn of the new year.

Federal Environmental Minister Peter Garrett said the wreck is protected as a historic shipwreck. Garrett was formerly the frontman of Australian band Midnight Oil.

David Mearms said the Centaur's depth and the strong currents preclude any diving on the site.

Filming is expected to take two days.

Great News!! --Cooter

More Pearl Harbor Survivors

ART GRUBER, First Class Water Tender on USS Tennessee, the only battleship not sunk that day, was at the ceremony in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, at the anchor of the USS Oklahoma. KFOR News 4, OKC.

ARTHUR DUNN, 86, Pearl Harbor Survivor, was a turret gunner on the USS Oklahoma and remembers scrambling to his post when the first torpedo hit and then the ship starting to turn over. He found it hard to talk about the event for 45 years.

Now Dunn is president of the Wichita Chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association which only had ten to twelve members. The Kansas City chapter folded.
December 7th Wichita Eagle.

The Greatest Generation.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Centaur Has Been Found

December 20th Brisbane Times.

The AHS Centaur was found at 3:30 AM December 19th according to Queensland Premier Anna Bligh (I wonder any relation to the captain?). It is 2059 meters deep and 30 miles east of Moreton Island's southern tip.

It lies in one piece along the northern flank of a narrow gully.

The expedition will return in January with a submarine and submersibles to film and document the site.

There is a broken area about 2/3rds of the way down indicating where the torpedo hit. The ship was sunk by a Japanese submarine May 14, 1943. Of the 332 aboard, only 62 survived.

John Argent's father Jack was a paramedic who survived the attack but rarely spoke of it afterwards. He said the ship sank in three minutes because the torpedo struck the fuel bunker.

Great News. --Cooter

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Centaur Found?

I came across one source that said the AHS Centaur was found today. More information as it becomes available.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mary Todd Lincoln's "Personal Prison"

I have been making three entries into my road blog these last two days, December 18th and 19th about Mary Todd Lincoln's being committed to an insane asylum in 1875 in Batavia, Illinois.

The Bellevue Place where she was kept is on the old Lincoln Highway so I included the entries there.

You can see it at

To Be Crazy or Not. That is the Question. --Cooter

USS Pelias Pearl Harbor Report

Earlier this month, I had an entry about Robert Coley, 86, who was on the USS Pelias during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Later, I gave an account of the ship's war record and history and then discussed the Toons at War Blog which mentioned that Walt Disney's cartoonists had created the Pelias' logo.

Then I came across the official report of the ship concerning the attack.

The ship went to General Quarters and opened fire with its anti-aircraft battery with four 3 inch 23 Caliber guns, 2 forward and two aft; four 50 caliber machine guns, 2 fore and 2 aft.

Two hundred rounds were fired from the three inch guns and 5000 from the 50 Caliber. Most were against torpedo planes attacking the battleships in which they were in a good position to do.

Damage to enemy aircraft not determined, but fire from the Pelias, Tautog and a destroyer shot down one which hit the water near the submarine base's finger piers. Another plane turned away under fire and was last seen flying low and streaming smoke toward the officer's club.

The "ship's company performed in a most admirable manner especially when it is realized that few had ever been through even target practice, and practically none had ever been in action under enemy fire."

William Wakefield, CINPAC Action report, Dec. 11, 1941.

Greatest Generation.

Centaur Update

The search for the Australian hospital ship Centaur hit another snag yesterday when the SM30 side scan sonar was lost about 1800 meters down.

This is a very important piece in the search effort. Hope they will be able to make do and not have to give up the search.

Still at five possible locations for the ship that have been found.

Still don't know why there is no US coverage. This is a story of great interest. But then again, there wasn't much coverage a short time ago of the search and finding of the HMAS Sydney and German raider Kormoran other than in this blog.

Finding the Centaur. --Cooter

A Short History of the McHenry Dam in Illinois

The last entry, I mentioned that the present dam was built in 1939 by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

This is the only dam served by a lock system on the Fox River system. We've been through the locks many times during our boating downriver. You don't want to do go through them on the weekends because of the long lines since they can only get four boats max through at a time, and even less with the larger boats and pontoons.

Grabbing the scuzzy green ropes to hold your boat in place is not much fun and usually leads to arguments as to who has to hold them. You definitely don't want to tie it off for obvious reasons.

Some important dates pertaining to the dam:

1907-- permanent wooden dam built

1939-- present dam built by CCC

1960-- Present locks open

1977-- renamed William G. Stratton Lock and Dam after Illinois' governor and local resident who was a major proponent of the dam.

Thanks to Gill's for giving this information.

Sticky Green Ropes. Yuck!! The Captain SHOULDN'T Have to Hold One!! --DaCoot

CCC in Illinois and McHenry County

There were 50 CCC camps across Illinois according to the McHenry Forest Preserve District. Along with what Barbara Brotman mentioned back on Roosevelt's "Tree Army"--Part 1, they built 4,742 flood control stations in the state.

White Pine and Starved Rock were considered large CCC camps with 180-200 young men.

These men were paid $30 a month with $25 of it sent home. Average age was 18-19 and weight was 147 pounds, although most gained 11 and a half pounds in the first three months of work.

The CCC, Civilian Conservation Corps, came to being with the Emergency Conservation Work Act.

Because of CCC efforts the total acreage of Illinois state parks rose from 2,800 in 1930 to 16,500 ten years later.


Records show that 126 men from the county joined the CCC. One of their projects was building the McHenry Dam on the Fox River. One source I found said this dam was built in 1907, which was before the CCC.

However, I found that that structure was a wooden dam and that the present structure was built in 1939 which would have fit the time frame.

An Interesting and Little-Known Story. --Cooter

Roosevelt's "Tree Army"-- Part 3

I just remembered my old fraternity at NIU, Delta Sigma Phi, used to have an annual spring party out at White Pines, but we weren't too interested in the historic aspects of the place, just whether we'd run out of imbibing drinks.

McKINLEY WOODS in Chinnahon, part of Will County Forest Preserve has an open-sided picnic shelter with a huge fireplace. Just beyond it is the Illinois & Michigan Canal which Brotman describes as "too peaceful for words," but not if the Delta Sigs are having a party out there. She says you can walk sixty miles alongside it.

This canal was one reason Chicago grew to be such a big city despite the fact that it was soon surpassed by the railroad.

Gone, But Left a Legacy. --DaCoot

Friday, December 18, 2009

Roosevelt's "Tree Army-"- Part 2

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) especially left its mark on forest preserves, parks and state lands throughout the Chicagoland area. Barbara Brotman then proceeded to take the reader on a trip to some well-preserved sites.

FULLERSBURG WOODS FOREST PRESERVE, OAK BROOK, part of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. The CCC built the visitor center in 1934 using logs from trees cut down on what is today the parking lot. Even more impressive, this was done without power tools.

It was originally a boathouse. The picnic shelters are also CCC products.

WHITE PINES FOREST STATE PARK, MMT. MORRIS, is home to an extensively remodeled CCC lodge and cabins known as White Pine Inn. The entire park was developed by the Corps and consists of 385 acres in the Rock River Valley with creeks, footbridges and one of the last natural stands of white pines in Illinois and the southernmost in the US.

Still CCCing Next Entry. --Cooter

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Centaur Update

Using Australian sources, the Courier Mail and News. I have yet to see any mention of it here in the US. Too bad as it is an interesting story.

Dec. 16th, a second possible wreck was found after two days into the search. The seabed east of Moreton Island has been found to be so rough that it is possible they will never find the Centaur. There are lots of steep canyons and Mearm now says that the ocean floor is 30% unsearchable.

The Dec. 17th reports that five possible sites have been located. A high resolution scan is being made of one target.

The current is proving to be a problem.

Here's Hoping. --Cooter

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Some More Pearl Harbor Survivors

December 11th Salt Lake (Utah) Tribune

Four Pearl Harbor survivors spoke at the Salt Lake City Library.

RALPH WADLEY-- was strafed by Japanese planes near Schofield Barracks and later spent nearly a month on the front lines at Guadalcanal.
KEN POTTS-- survived the sinking USS Arizona
MAX BURGSTRAAF-- on the USS Nevada
MARRION KESSLER-- on the USS Halbert

Twin Falls (Idaho) Times News

Reported that from Pensacola, Florida, several Pearl Harbor survivors, including JAY CARRAWAY, 87, were cited for bravery. He joined the Navy when he was 19 and was a seaman on the USS Hulbert, an aviation destroyer. "We were the ships that provided fuel to the old PBYs (patrol bomber aircraft) which take off and land on water.

During the attack, the Hulbert was moored at the pier by the submarine base.

The Stafford County (Virginia) Sun reported that at a Pearl Harbor ceremony, a bell tolled 34 times as the name of a Virginian killed at Pearl Harbor was read.

Five survivors were present:

GEORGE BLAND-- on USS West Virginia and helped aide wounded
RICHARD WILLIAMS-- at Hickam Field
JOHN LOPINSKY-- at Hickam Field

Greatest Generation.

Sterling Cole, Pearl Harbor Survivor

From the Dec. 14th Honolulu Advertiser.

Sterling Cole, 88, was a pharmacist's mate stationed at the US Naval Hospital in 1941 and watched in horror as Japanese bombs struck one battleship after another and then there was that giant explosion when the USS Arizona blew up.

Later, he helped rescue bodies from the water. There was so much fire and oil in the water, he found it necessary to dive below it to look for the dead and wounded. In all, he retrieved 46.

"Sometimes, for people who were dead, I had to throw a rope around their leg and haul them behind (a boat) to get them to shore."

Greatest Generation.

Roosevelt's Tree Army"-- Part 1

Barbara Brotman had a column in the March 19th Chicago Tribune about the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) established during the Great depression to get Americans back to work. Written in the depths of the current economic downturn, she calls for it to be brought back.

The CCC, also referred to as "Roosevelt's Tree Army" did double duty, providing employment for some 8 million young men between 1933 and 1942, and protected America's natural resources. "They planted trees, built roads, forest fire towers, protected streams from erosion, built 800 parks and nearly 52,000 acres of campgrounds."

In Illinois alone, 60 million trees were planted and 1,192 miles of trails blazed. The famous Skokie Lagoons were CCC projects and lots and lots of those picnic shelters in the Cook County Forest Preserve District are their projects.

At least 8 Tree Army camps were located in Cook County (Chicago) where they lived in barrack-like dorms and led a military-style life (great training for the upcoming war).

Quite a few projects involving Route 66 were theirs as well.

Sadly, with each passing year, fewer and fewer people know about this institution.

More Building to Come. --Cooter

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Likely "Target" Found in Centaur Search

The December 15th Brisbane Times reports that Tuesday, a promising "target" was found by the expedition looking for the site of the wreck of the Australian hospital ship Centaur.

Sonar detects that it is about the right size and shape.

The Seahorse Spirit, however, will continue sailing through the 1,365 square kilometer search area, but will come back to this site.

Here's Hoping. --Cooter

The Toons Go to War

World War II was an all-out effort, regardless who or what you were. I came across a very interesting blog while researching the USS Pelias. There was an Ancient Order of the Deep certificate bearing the ship's symbol, a mermaid insignia circled by merbabies designed by Walt Disney's staff.

There are not many from the Pelias, which was at Pearl Harbor, as most who served on it had already crossed the equator and undergone the hazing ritual on other ships.

Well worth checking out at http://toonsat

Honoring the Pearl Harbor Survivors in Pennsylvania

From the December 8th Sentinel.

Pennsylvania honored its Pearl Harbor Survivors at a ceremony attended by eight of them: George Grove, Hank Heim, Robert Leidhecker, Frank Navagato, Robert Moreo, Victor Petersen, Richard Schimmel and Ned Shayheman.

HANK HEIM, 88, of New Cumberland became a major later in the war and flew 75 missions in World War II and 51 in Korea. He heard lots of planes that day but thought they were US maneuvers until he heard them diving and saw one coming at his barracks and firing its guns. "I hit the floor as he shot above me. I never saw 55 men get out of bed so quick in my life."

He got mad and decided to get a machine gun from a downed plane, but encountered strafing and was knocked out when a 500-pound bomb blew up nearby.

Heim came to and was continuing with his plan, but the plane was hit and caught fire.

Greatest Generation. --DaCoot

Ten Incredibly Significant Moments in World History

Again, the good folks at List Universe had an interesting list on December 10th.

10. RENAISSANCE (1483-1513)--

9. ROMAN REPUBLIC AND EMPIRE (100 BC-100 AD)-- Borrowed heavily from Greeks, but expanded especially in engineering and architecture.

8. BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES (1855-1866)-- Darwin, Lister, Pasteur and others.

7. AGE OF INVENTION (1870-1890)-- electric light, alternating current, automobile, telephone, steam and gas turbines, phonograph among many others.

6. ASTRONOMY, MECHANICS AND LITERATURE (1580-1610)-- Galileo's telescope, Kepler's planetary theory, Don Quixote, Shakespeare

Of course, on the List Universe, each of these has a picture and much more information. This is just a quick look. You can also subscribe to the feed which I would recommend.

Agree or disagree, it gets you to thinking. I can agree with all of these.

Top Five Tomorrow. --Cooter

Monday, December 14, 2009

Washington State Pearl Harbor Survivors-- Part 2

BERNARD DeGrave said his station was at a 4-inch gun, useless for anti-aircraft fire. "They needed people to supply the .50 caliber machine guns, so I volunteered to pass ammunition." He was standing in the ship's magazine when he thought what might happen to him if a bomb hit.

The USS Montgomery headed out at 10:17 to six days of anti-submarine duty. They were shocked when they returned. "We had so much faith in those big battleships. And then to see them as scrap metal. We had nothing bigger to stop the Japanese Navy than that little destroyer we were on. We wouldn't have been much opposition."


From Wikipedia, the USS Montgomery was a World War I destroyer, DD-121, commissioned July 26, 1918, and used for anti-submarine duty. It was decommissioned in 1922, converted to a light minelayer and recommissioned in 1931 as DM-17and again decommissioned in 1937.

With war on the horizon, the Montgomery again was commissioned in 1939 and based in Pearl Harbor from 1940.

It mounted 4X4 inch guns as well as torpedoes.

A Day That Still Lives in Infamy. --Cooter

Washington State Pearl Harbor Survivors-- Part 1

The of Washington County, Washington ran an article about BERNARD DeGRAVE whose ship left Pearl Harbor three hours after the attack began. They returned December 13th amid all the smoke. "We were flabbergasted at the extent of the damage. That's when it hit us, when we saw our ships mangled and wrecked.

GEORGE BENNETT was a member of the US Navy seaplane squadron based on Ford Island and right in the middle of the action.

PAUL JOHNSON was a gunner's mate on the USS Castor, a supply ship loaded with 10,000 tons of ammunition.

LARRY LYDON was an officer on the USS San Francisco, a heavy cruiser scheduled to go into dry dock.

Greatest Generation. --Cooter

Looking for the Centaur-- Part 1

The December 12th Brisbane Times of Australia reported that the departure of the expedition looking for the sunken hospital ship Centaur was delayed a few hours while David Mearm's and crew tested equipment. They will be searching a 50 kilometer area about 30 kilometers east of Moreton Island.

The Centaur sailed unescorted from Sydney with a crew and normal staff on May 12, 1943. It was also carrying the stores and equipment of the 2/12th Field Ambulance. On the early morning of May 14th, a Japanese submarine sank it at approximately 27 degrees 17 seconds South and 153 degrees 58 seconds East about 30 miles east of Brisbane.

Earlier, I had reported that the ship had also been carrying wounded, but I was incorrect. The 64 survivors spent 35 hours on rafts before rescue.

On December 14th, it was reported that the expedition was expected to reach the site of the sinking by noon. Their ship, the Seahorse Spirit, loaded with millions of dollars worth of sonar equipment left Brisbane late Saturday night.

Sunday, they reached the wreck that had once been thought to be the Centaur and tested the sonar equipment. They conclusively confirmed that this wreck was too small to be that of the Centaur.

And the Excitement Builds. --Cooter

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Connecticut and Missouri Pearl Harbor Survivors

The December 6th Bristol (CT) Press talked with two local Pearl Harbor survivors.

ED KLEPPS, 95, of Terry ville was taking a shower on the USS Helena when a torpedo hit. The resulting fire swept past him and to this day he figures his being soaked and in the shower saved his life.

ED RICCIO of Bristol was in the Army Air Corps at Hickam Field. A hot water boiler blew up outside. He ran over to a window, just as a bomb exploded in the barracks and blew him "right out the door." He was the only one of 60 men in the barracks to survive.

KY3 News out of Springfield, Missouri had a piece on GUY PIPER who said, "I saw these three planes coming and saw one get the California."

The Greatest Generation.

Three Men at Pearl Harbor. Two dead, One Survived


The December 7, 2008, Elyria (Ohio) Chronicle-Telegraph mentioned that two local men, Rudolph Victor Piskuran and Walter Frankewicz were on the USS Oklahoma Dec. 7, 1941.

The battleship took nine torpedo hits and withing twenty minutes rolled over. The next day, 32 sailors were rescued from their tomb. The bodies of these two men were never found and are listed among the 429 who perished.


The Dec. 6, 2008 Abilene (Texas) Reporter News talked with John Straight, 88, who was sleeping at Hickam Field when the attack started and remembers a mad dash for a gun and a plane that melted in half.

Afterwards, he served as a radio operator flying out of Australia in the "Kangaroo Squadron."

The Greatest Generation.

World War II Spy Photographs Made Public for the First Time

The Nov. 22nd reports that photographs made during World War II are available to the public for the first time.

These are very clear photos made by surveillance flights and have just been declassified (about time, after 60 years, I doubt that much is up to date).

Millions of photos were made from aircraft and then sent to interpreters in England, many of whom were women, who would minutely study them to glean vital intelligence. Winston Churchill's daughter Sarah was one of these women.

The Aeriel Archives, some ten million photos are now available.

Smile, You're On Spy Camera. --Cooter

He's the Red Baron

The December 8th Chicago Tribune had a brief blurb on a Polish historian finding the death certificate of Manfred von Richthofen, the famous World War II German pilot known as the Red Baron from the color of the Fokker triplane he flew while raking up 80 Allied planes shot down.

Maciej Kowalczyk reported that he had found it last month while going through old World War archives in the western Polish city of Ostrow Wielkopolski, formerly a part of Germany. Baron von Richthofen was stationed there.

The one page entry is hand-written, surprising that it was so short considering Richthofen's celebrity.

Curse You Bloody Red Baron, Snoopy's Nemesis. --Cooter

Friday, December 11, 2009

World War II Veterans Honored in Maine

December 10th

In a ceremony at the local American Legion in Lebanon, Maine, honored four World War II veterans with eagle canes in honor of their service. So far, 400 of these have been given out in the state.

The top of each cane has an eagle. One side of the shaft has their name and the other their branch and war.

HAROLD SHEFFIELD was a member of the US Marine Raiders, a special force formed to make fast attacks on the Japanese using hit-and-run tactics.

BERNARD HALL was stationed 20 miles from Pearl Harbor on the day of the attack and remembers a Japanese plane flying by "so low, you could see the pilot's goggles." He was 25 at the time and one of the older men. Another memory was "all the young kids hiding in their lockers."

FRANK HALL said his Army unit arrived at Pearl Harbor April 1942 to help clean up the mess and can still remember see the smouldering ships.

The Greatest Generation

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Oregon and North Carolina Pearl Harbor Survivors


The Dec. 9th Newport (OR) News Times reports that three Lincoln County residents are Pearl Harbor Survivors: Don Overly and George Browning, both of Toledo and Ed Johann of Lincoln City.

Don Overly was the only one able to attend the 68th anniversary commemoration on Monday. He was 21 and on the USS Case on that day.


The December 8th Roanoke Rapids (NC) Daily Herald had an article about that town's Pearl Harbor Commemoration.

Jesse Harvell of Weldon had died Dec. 10, 2008, and was greatly missed. Two other Pearl Harbor Survivors are Dallas Jones and Bill Thorpe.

The paper ran a list of North Carolinians who died aboard the USS Arizona.

William Teasdale Durham
Malcolm Hedrick Leigh
Albert Wesley Pinkham
Mark Alexander Rhodes
Kermit Braxton Stallings
Lloyd Harold Tussey

Never to Be Forgotten. --Cooter

USS Pelias

Robert Coley's ship, the USS Pelias, was at Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941 working on submarines. I wrote about him in the previous entry.

It was launched November 14, 1939 as the SS Mormacyork and served as a passenger ship until acquired by US Navy in late 1940 and converted into a submarine tender. It was commissioned the USS Pelias (AS-14) in September 1941.

The next month, it sailed to the Pacific, arriving at Pearl Harbor November 21st. After six days, it began overhauling subs and was at the Submarine Base when the attack took place. The ship's guns shot down one Japanese plane and damaged another as they zoomed by down the main channel less than 100 yards off the Pelias' port side.

It served in the whole Pacific War. Between July 1942 and May 1944, the Pelias overhauled, repaired and refitted 59 ships in Submarine Squadrons 6, 12 and 16.

It was decommissioned in 1970 after many years as a reserve ship and scrapped.

Stats: 925 crew, 492 feet long, 69.5 beam, 2 guns and 4 machine guns.

Taking Care of Those Subs. --DaCoot

Pearl Harbor and Submarine Monument

From Dec. 10th Charleston (SC) Post and Courier. "SC monument honors submariners for sacrifice during World War II" by Brian Hicks.

Robert Coley. 86, couldn't believe the hundreds of planes swarming over the mountain and seemingly headed right for him on that fateful day. He had only been at Pearl Harbor a few weeks and was on the submarine tender USS Pelias. When the bombs started falling, he wondered how "a country boy right off the farm" had gotten into such a mess.

The Japanese were more interested in the battleships, not his submarines.

This past December 7th, he and six other submariners gathered for the unveiling of the World War II Submarine Memorial at Patriot's Point in Charleston Harbor. It is a tribute to the more than 3,000 submariners who lost their lives on the 52 US subs sunk in that conflict.

These valiant crews sank 5,200,000 tons of Japanese shipping and cut off vital supply lines of the enemy.

This project was hosted by the Swamp Fox Chapter of World War II Veterans.

The Greatest Generation. --Cooter

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

USAT Willard A. Holbrook

On December 7th, I wrote about South Dakotan William Gese who was on the transport Willard A. Holbrook at Pearl Harbor and had attended Mass on the the USS Oklahoma one week to the day before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

I did some follow up research on the US Army Transport Willard A. Holbrook. It was built by the Bethlehem Steel Company at Sparrows Point, Maryland in 1921 and originally named the Buckeye State. It weighed 14,123 tons, was 517 feet long, 72feet wide and had a top speed of 16 knots. The US Shipping Board ordered it.

The Buckeye State was transferred to US authorities in 1923 and renamed the President Taft. In 1940, it was again transferred to Army Transportsn 1940 and got its third name, the Willard A. Holbrook.

On December 7, 1941, it was part of a convoy with 8 other ships heading for the Philippines. The main ship was the heavy cruiser USS Pensacola and the convoy was known as the Pensacola Convoy. Upon hearing news of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the convoy was rerouted to Australia.

It took part in Pacific operations throughout the war.

After the war, it was sold and operated for the rest of its career as the Armin W. Leuschner until it was scrapped in Baltimore in 1957.

From Wikipedia which also has an article on the Pensacola Convoy.

What's in a Name? --Cooter

Queen Anne's Revenge

It is still not known for certain if the wreck found off the North Carolina coast is that of the Pirate Blackbeard's ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge, but over 250,000 items have been recovered.

A team of experts presented some of them to the public the day after Thanksgiving in Beaufort.

Some of the items were a pair of copper alloy cuff links smaller than a dime, a pewter clyster syringe used for enemas (well Pirates had physical ailments as well), a belt buckle, nesting weight (?), wine bottle (Pirates drank?), a bell dated 1705 and a cannon dated 1713. Four anchors have been found as well.

The ship sank in 1718. It is hoped that many of the items will be exhibited by Valentine's Day.

It's a Pirate's Life for Me, Yo-Ho-Ho. --DaCoot

The Hunt for the Centaur

The had an article back in November about the search for the wreck of the Australian hospital ship Centaur which was sunk by a Japanese submarine in 1943 with a loss of 268 dead (mostly injured patients) in what is regarded as the worst atrocity in the Pacific War.

This is jointly funded by the Australian and Queensland governments.

Japan denied responsibility for it at the time and it wasn't known until 1977 what the number of the submarine was that launched the torpedoes on the clearly marked vessel.

The search begins this month and will be led by David Mearms who found the final resting places of the HMAS Sydney and German raider Kormoran a few years ago.

The Centaur was Scottish-built and carried 332 injured patients, medical personnel and crew.

Here's Hoping It Will Be Found. --Cooter

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

USS Solace AH-5

The previous article mentioned that Ralph Laedtke had been on the USS Solace at Pearl Harbor. I have never heard of this ship so went to good old Wikipedia.

The USS Solace, AH-5, was the second hospital ship to carry that name. It was built as the passenger liner SS Iroquois at Newport News, Va., and was bought by the US Navy July 22, 1940, and converted into a hospital ship.

It was at Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941, and immediately sent launches to the stricken Arizona, rescuing wounded men from the ship and pulling those in the oil-covered and burning water to safety. Boats also assisted the West Virginia and Oklahoma.

Stats: 409 feet long, 62 feet beam, 18 knots, could handle 418 patients at a time and had a crew of 466.

It participated in the battles of the Pacific and handles over 25,000 patients, 70% of them wounded, possibly a record for a hospital ship.

When the war ended, it took part in Operation Magic Carpet to bring the troops back home.

The Day of Infamy.

Illinois Pearl Harbor Survivors

December 8th Chicago Tribune "Pearl Harbor survivors recall horror" by Cynthia Dizikes.

Ralph Laedtke was a pharmacist's mate third class on the medical support vessel USS Solace when the attack found him. "I scrambled up the ladder and I saw bombs and ships exploding and smoke belching into the sky."

The 89-year-old resident of Grayslake and eight other Pearl Harbor survivors met Monday on Chicago's Navy Pier on the 69th anniversary of the attack. More than 300 others attended the ceremony which included bell-ringing in honor of the seven Chicagoans who died on the Arizona.

Ambrose Ferri, 91, a Navy petty officer third class on the repair vessel USS Vestal moored next to the Arizona said he cheated death that day. A friend had invited him to attend a breakfast that morning, but he declined because he wanted to sleep in. His friend died when the Japanese bombed Merry Point Landing. Personally, I think being next to the Arizona when the explosion occurred would have been quite frightening all by itself.

A wreath was again thrown into Lake Michigan honoring those who died that day.

Jack Barry, Sr., chairman of the Illinois PH Survivors Association said, "Our ranks are thinning out, time is against us. There is a day when there will be none of us left, but we will be remembered."

The Greatest Generation.

Monday, December 7, 2009

On the Oklahoma a Week Before the Attack

From the December 7th American News (SD) "Pearl Harbor remembered: area man on USS Oklahoma week before attack."

William B. Gese of Mina Lake had a close brush with destiny when his ship tied up next to the USS Oklahoma and then he attended church services on board the doomed vessel exactly one week before the attack.

Gese, a native of Aberdeen, was a member of the 147th Field Artillery and sailing on the transport Willard A. Holbrook. Upon arrival at Pearl Harbor November 27th, they moored next to the Oklahoma.

On Sunday, the 30th, Gese and other Catholics aboard the Holbrook attended Mass aboard the Oklahoma because their ship only had a Protestant chaplain. No doubt, some of the sailors at the Mass were among the 429 who died the following week. The Oklahoma was the first battleship hit by a torpedo and the ship turned turtle.

The Holbrook, the former World War I troop ship, the USS Taft, left port the following day, heading for the Philippines. They heard news of the attack en route and changed course and zig-zagged to Brisbane, Australia. They also painted their ship battleship gray.

Mr. Gese spent the rest of the war in the South Pacific. Before the war, he had been in refrigeration, and at one time he recalls working on General Douglas MacArthur's cooler. He didn't meet the general, but helped himself to fresh strawberries.

According to the article, there are currently eleven registered Pearl Harbor Survivor plates issued to South Dakota drivers.

The Greatest Generation. --Cooter

68th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

Today marks 68 years since that "Day of Infamy" when US forces at Pearl Harbor were attacked without warning by planes and submarines of Japan. This sneak attack plunged the US into World War II.

Considering all the military build up the United States had been going through in the years leading up to the 7th, our entry would seem to have been inevitable.

I was fortunate to get to go Pearl Harbor several years ago. I went to the USS Arizona Memorial. Viewing the names on the wall were much like the feeling you get at the Vietnam Wall. There were many Japanese tourists there as well. Nothing was said to them, but you have to wonder what they were thinking.

Oil still seeps up from the Arizona with several drops surfacing every minute. I watched these for about seven minutes. It connected me to the events of that day.

The USS Missouri, now a memorial as well, is moored less than a mile away from the wreck of the Arizona, however today the Missouri is in a dry dock undergoing repairs until January.

A Day to Remember.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

World War II Plane Recovered from Lake Michigan-- Part 2

Back on November 28th, I wrote about this plane. A follow up on it.

Nov. 30th Chicago Tribune.

The plane was in 250 feet of water off shore from Waukegan which is north of Chicago. It was close to where another WW II plane, a Douglas SBD Dauntless was raised last April.

Lt. Walter Elcock crashed it while training to land on a converted aircraft carrier January 5, 1945. He survived and is living in Atlanta. His 36-year-old grandson, Hunter Brawley was on hand to see the plane raised and afterwards sat in the cockpit and said it was quite an experience to sit where his grandfather had been on that fateful day.

Plans call for it to be displayed in a yet to be announced museum.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car Company is helping to fund the project. Company CEO Andy taylor is honoring his father, Navy pilot Jack Taylor.

This is the sixth naval aircraft carriet plane that had actually participated in combat that has been raised from Lake Michigan. Training planes were usually ones that had already been in action and had been retired from active duty.

A Bit of History, Recovered. --Cooter

Ten Worst Moments in US History

The good folks at List Universe had another...LIST!! This time, on November 28th, they had one about the Ten Worst Moments in US History. I wasn't sure if it involved things that happened to the US that were bad or things we had done for which we should be ashamed or, perhaps both.

As usual, a picture along with a caption accompanied each one.

And, here we go:

1. Trail of Tears (1838)

2. Dred Scott Decision (1857)

3. Battle of Antietam (1862)

4. Stock Market Crash (1929)

5. Internment Camps (1942)

6. Dropping the Bomb (1945)

7. Bay of Pigs (1961)

8. Vietnam (1960s-1970s)

9. 9/11 (2001)

10. Iraq (2003)

Guaranteed to start an argument.

And, I can think of others as well.

Thanks --DaCoot

Friday, December 4, 2009

December World War II

From the Pacific Aviation Museum 2009 Calendar.

Unfortunately, it appears they will not be having a 2010 calendar Too Bad!!

POSTER: A tattered 48 star American flag with gaping holes flying at half mast with smoke and flames in the background.

WORDS-- "...we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.. Remember Dec. 7th!""

PICTURE-- Sailors in NAS Ford Island watch as the USS Shaw explodes.

December 7, 1941-- Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, US enters WW II.

December 23rd-- Japanese take Wake Island.

QUOTE: "I fear all we have done is awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve." Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, upon learning of the success of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

No Money for Them Without Another Similar Calendar. --DaCoot

Bits O' History: German WW I Debt-- South Dakota in WW I

Some New News About Old Stuff.

1. GERMAN WW I DEBT-- Germany still owes $84 million from World War I. This balance was suspended in 1953 when the country became East and West Germany. However, when it was reunited in 1990, the debt came back. Dec. 3rd Press TV.

Come on guys, time to pay up.

2. SOUTH DAKOTA IN WW I-- The Dec. 3rd Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports that the state sent 29,686 soldiers to WW I, a whopping 5% of the states population. This ranked it in the top ten of states in volunteers.

There are many monuments to remember this service. There is a Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building in Pierre. Trees have been planted and, at the state fairgrounds in Huron, there is a 40/8 French box car which were the main mode of transportation for South Dakota troops on arrival in that country. It was so named because they could carry 40 men or 8 horses.

Time for a National Memorial on the Mall in DC, and Not the One for DC Veterans, But a New One. --Cooter

Bits O' History: HMAS Sydney-- DooLittle's Raiders-- Pearl Harbor

Bits O' History-- New News About Old Stuff.

1. HMAS SYDNEY-- The Nov. 17th reports that all the video and photographs taken after the ship was found have been presented to the Australian War Memorial. That includes 1400 photographs and 50 hours of video.

2. DOOLITTLE'S RAIDERS-- April 16th-18th, 2010, will mark the 68th Reunion of Doolittle's Raiders at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base outside of Dayton, Ohio. Nine members are still alive and three who are still able to travel are planning to be there.

I am thinking about going there myself.

3. PEARL HARBOR-- John Daniel Lancaster who lives in Johnston County (I neglected to get the state) turned 90 last month and was honored for his service at the local VFW. He was on the Arizona at Pearl Harbor on that fateful day in 1941. This makes him truly a survivor.

His oldest daughter, Carol Lancaster, said, "He started running to his gun which was at the front of his ship and was blown into the water, which literally saved his life because he was not entombed in the ship.

Just Some Bits. --DaCoot

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Our Last WW I Vet, Frank Buckles, Pushes for a National Monument

World War I, the Vietnam War and the Korean War have one, but sadly, there is NO National Monument to the 100,000 Americans who died in World War I. However, Congress is discussing one, but lines are drawn between the memorial in Kansas City and the one in Washington, DC.

It has been 90 years after Frank Buckles served in the War to End All Wars and 60 since he was in a Japanese POW camp, and on Dec. 2nd, he appeared before a Senate Hearing saying that there should be just such an honor.

Frank Buckles is the only remaining American veteran of World War and at age 108, he will not be with us much longer. The legislative bill going through the houses bears his name. He was born in 1901 and entered the Army at age 16 where he drove ambulances, motorcycles, and helped return German prisoners after the Armistice was signed.

Missouri legislators want the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City to be the National memorial. Others want the existing memorial in Washington, DC, (dedicated to those from that city who served) to be the one. The Kansas City Memorial is 217 foot tall and was dedicated in 1926, five years before the one in DC.

I believe a brand new one should be built somewhere on the National Mall.

From Associated Press, Nov. 3rd.

This is Way Overdue. --DaCoot