Monday, May 31, 2010

Merchant Mariner Serves as Grand Marshal

From the May 30th Saginaw (Mi) News "World War II merchant mariner is Saginaw's first Memorial Day grand marshal" by Eric Joyce.

Louis LePan, 83 will take his place as first-ever grand marshal in the annual parade in Saginaw, Michigan, today. Every year, he places flags on the graves of veterans in local cemeteries, but this year, he will get an honor.

LePan served as a member of the Merchant Marines who were tasked with delivering the supplies of war so necessary for the eventual victory on the battlefield and at sea. Unfortunately, the Merchant Marine is just beginning to receive the honors they earned.

Many people don't know about the U-boat war that took place off the US Atlantic and Gulf coasts where many cargo vessels were lost. It was bad enough to be in a ship carrying supplies, but even worse if it had ammunition or fuel aboard. Definitely one of the last places you'd want to be when a torpedo struck or a surfaces U-boat opened fire.

According to Mr. LePan, "Wherever they needed supplies, the Merchant marine carried them."

At age 16, LePan joined in December 1944, near the end of the war. he had been a deckhand on Great Lakes freighters before that (kind of young). He first sailed aboard the tanker Gulfwing transporting aviation fuel from New York City to New Orleans. Later, he was on the Liberty Ship Thomas Rusk carrying airplane equipment and ammunition from Seattle to Pearl Harbor and then to Chile for a load of zinc nitrate for fuel oil.

He served in the galley and was a member of a gun crew at battle stations. But, he admits "We didn't get shot at 'cause the war was about over when I got into it.

For his service, he received three awards and commendations and an honorable discharge.

However, the Merchant Marine, until fairly recently, was not considered to be active duty veterans and as such were not eligible for many services and honors accorded to other veterans.

It's About Time. Congratulations Mr. LaPan. --Cooter

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Going Back to Pearl Harbor-- So That's Why You Don't Play Golf

I didn't write down the source, but I think it was from Springfield, Illinois.

Some survivors' remeniscences of December 7, 1941.

GUY PIPER was going to his first golf lesson that day and didn't make it. To this day, he has never learned to play the game.

SAM BRAYFIELD saw the Arizona split in two and then went to the powder room of the USS New Orleans. The chaplain told him there wouldn't be a service that day, but "Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition."


DAVID THOMAS MONTGOMERY 1917-2008 of Petersburg, Illinois, was at Pearl harbor and was a radioman with the PB4 Squadron at Ford Island during the attack. He sent the first message that told the nation of the attack, "Air Raid. Pearl Harbor. This is no drill." He later served throughout the world during the war. In 1963, he founded the Illinois Chapter of the PHSA. He died Jan. 15, 2008.

A Day That Will Live in Infamy. --Cooter

Friday, May 28, 2010

Dead Page Oldest Medal of Honor Winner

JOHN FINN 1909-2010

World War II hero was oldest Medal of Honor recipient

From May 28th Tribune Newspapers.

John Finn won his Medal of Honor for his action at Pearl harbor on December 7, 1941, died at age 100 at the Veterans Home of California in Chula Vista. He was also the oldest surviving recipient of the military's highest honor.

he had been the guest of honor at many functions, including one at the White House with President Obama, but he never considered himself a hero saying, "All I ever was was an old swab-jockey....What I did I was being pad for."

Explosions that morning rousted him out of bed. Finn immediately manned a machine gun at Kaneohe Bay where he was stationed and began firing at the low-flying Japanese planes as they headed for Pearl Harbor.

"I love the Navy and that day I was just furious because the Japanese caught us napping and made us pay for it." He was wounded numerous times by bullets and shrapnel, but refused to leave his station. His example gave other sailors the will to fight back as well.

Finn was firing a .50 caliber machine gun that he found in the armory. He mounted it on a platform out in the open. despite the wounds, he continued firing and reloading for two hours. he only left his station when specifically ordered to do so. Even the, after receiving first aid, he returned to his squadron area and actively supervised the rearming of returning planes.

Quite a hero. I have heard of this man before and he must have been quite a character.

Another of the Greatest Generation.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

World War II Submarines at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum

From the February 19, 2006 Chicago Tribune. "Submarine plans are the blueprint for Wisconsin collection" by Kristopher Wren.

Gerald Pilger, 81, of Manitowac, Wisconsin can recall the days he spent working on submarines at the Manitowac Shipbuilding Co. in World War II and he says the key to their construction was in their blueprints. These documents were used to construct the 28 submarines built there during the war., many of which were used in the Pacific Theater.

He had a hand in building the first eight, then took the 18th built there to war himself and had three successful combat patrols.

The submarines obviously are no longer made in Manitowac, but Wisconsin Maritime Museum located there has received the drawings of the 28 subs built there from the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC.

That just adds to what museum curator Bill Thiessen calls one of the largest repositories of World War II artifacts in the US.

More to Come. --Cooter

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It's a Popcorn Thing

From the May 24th Chicago Sun-Times "Popcorn wagon blazed trail for concessions" by Cheryl V. Jackson.

"It's a corny business that's still popping after 125 years and five generations of family leadership." A great opening to the story.

Charlie Cretor, great-grandson of founder Charles Cretor, says they weren't successful enough to become a big company like Gm nor unsuccessful enough to go out of business.

The Cretor's company at 3243 N. California still makes equipment that makes and keeps popcorn warm, hot dogs, nachos, cotton candy and other concessions. They got their start at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. To draw crowds, great grandpa Charles would give away popcorn for ten to fifteen minutes and charging after a line formed. These popcorn wagons led the way for today's $10 billion US concession industry.

The company employs about 70 people today. Last week, they hosted an anniversary gala at the Museum of Science and Industry, the only remaining structure from the Columbian Exposition.

And, I really love my p-o-p-c-o-r-n!!!!

A Little-Known Company That had an Impact. --Cooter

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Some More on the Turtle Submarine

From Wikipedia.

In 1976, a replica of the Turtle was designed by Joseph Leary and constructed by Fred Fresse as a project for the US Bicentennial. It was successfully tested in the Connecticut River and is now on display at the Connecticut River Museum.

In 2007, police and the Coast Guard stopped three men, one of whom was piloting a replica of the Turtle within 200 feet of the ocean liner Queen Mary at Red Hook, Brooklyn. The Coast Guard issued a citation for having an unsafe vessel and for violating the security zone around the QM2.

The pilot was local artist Philip "Duke" Riley who wanted a photo of the Turtle next to the immense ocean liner. The other two were arrested onshore and were also artists. One, Jesse Bushnell claimed their craft the Acom, was the replica of his ancestor David Bushnell.

So, evidently, there are now two replicas of the Turtle.

I could just have seen the headlines: "Twentieth Century Ship Attacked by 18th Century Ship."

Gotta Watch Out for Those Old Ships. --Cooter

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dead Page: WAC-- McHale's Navy

Both obituaries from the November 6, 2009 Chicago Tribune.


Chicago teacher was counselor in WW II

Dorothy Brown was a member of the Women's Air Corps during the war with a primary job to counsel "shell-shocked soldiers returning from battle." According to her son, Ken, "She was helping them cope with post-traumatic stress, a disorder that back then didn't even have a name."

After the war, she taught kindergarten and first grade in the Chicago public schools until retiring in 1975.

In 1943, she joined the Women's Air Corps, an auxiliary Army organization created to enlist women for non-combat duty and was sent to Fort Kilmer, NJ, where she met and later married Willard Brown.

In 1945, she got a military transfer and followed her husband to Ital where she was a counselor for two years.


Mined laughs from magic

Carl Ballantine performed comedy magic and was a character-actor best-known for playing Lester Gruber in the 1962-1966 sitcom "McHale's Navy."

Tim Conway, who played the bumbling Ensign Parker on the show said "He was a natural; everything to him had humor."

He made a name for himself playing an inept magician, billing himself as "The Amazing Ballantine," "The Great Ballantine" and "Ballantine: The World's Greatest Magician" in night clubs starting in the 1940s, often waring a top hat, white tie and tails. he would say "If this acts dies, I'm dressed for it."

40th Anniversary of Kent State-- Part 9

Continuing with the scrapbook I kept back in May 1970 when I really thought I was seeing the end of the good 'ol USA.

These are headlines:

Arise now, ye patriots!-- By Mike Royko

House modifies call for college hearings

'Period of meditation' Smith cancels all classes

Attacks in Cambodia 'necessary': Nixon

Two-day moratorium called

Smith sends condolences to Jackson

White students list 3 'action' demands


Supports black demands

Jackson city police testify before panel

ROTC audit encouraged

Blacks react to Jackson

Police arrest 35 at Tuesday confrontation

Back to Normal


Right On

Northern Illinois University's campus in Dekalb was quite the scene of action in the weeks following the Kent State shootings. I sure wish I had put the newspaper articles in chronological order, but at least I had the foresight to keep a record of it. Like I said, i really though I was witnessing the end of the United States back in those days.

Quite a Time. --DaCoot

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dead Page: Music Executive-- Singer-- ATMs

BOB MERCER, 65, May 5th

A music industry responsible for signing the Sex Pistols, Queen and Olivia Newton-John. In 1990, he helped launch Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Records. He was also the chief executive of the Now That's What I Call Music albums series that now is up to the 33rd one and have sold 97 million CDs since its 1997 launch. It is essentially the successor to the K=Tel albums of the 70s and 80s.

I have probably all but about six of these compilation albums.

LEN HORNE, 92, May 9th

Jazz singer and actress best known for her version of "Stormy Weather" which I regard as one of the best songs ever recorded. She helped break the color barrier in entertainment.


From Scotland, he is credited with inventing the world's first automatic cash machine which made its debut in a north London, England, suburb June 27, 1967. At first he had the idea of a six-digit id number, but his wife talked him out of it saying that was too many to remember. He settled on four.

70th Anniversary of Dunkirk

From May 22nd Reuters "Heroes of WW II recall Dunkirk rescue."

Winston Churchill called it a "miracle of deliverance" when 338,000 French and British soldiers were rescued from the approaching German Army at the beaches of Dunkirk May 27 to June 3, 1940. Naval ships along with a flotilla of pleasure boats and other small craft made many trips across the English Channel to do it.

A new exhibit on the event is opening at London's Imperial War Museum to commemorate it.

Romeo Jenkins, 91, was a member of the 91st Field Regiment of the Royal Artillery in northern France when orders came through to evacuate to Dunkirk. During the confusion of the withdrawal, he became separated from his unit and didn't get to the Channel until after the operation was over.

He lit his last cigarette and sat down to await his impending capture when he heard a voice calling foe him from a small boat taking the last men off the beach so he was quick to get over to it and aboard.

he hadn't slept for several days and the next thing he remembers is waking up in Britain by Dover.

Quite the Story of Heroism. --Cooter

Friday, May 21, 2010

Early Submarines

Continuing with the Feb. 19, 2010, Chicago Tribune article by George Bushnell "Voyages to the bottom of the sea."

The next American to get involved with submarines was Robert Fulton who was much better known for his steamboat technology than his Nautilus submarine that he built for the French.

When the Napoleonic wars broke out in the 1790s, Fulton was off to France to pursue Bushnell's submarine plan. In 1797, he proposed building a Mechanical Nautilus to fight the British fleet.

By Spring 1800, the Nautilus was taking shape and it was far more advanced than the Turtle. It had copper skin reinforced with iron stays, was 21 feet long, 7 feet in diameter and could carry several crew members although propulsion was still manual. A diving plane made submersion at a slant possible.

A pilot run was made with Fulton at the controls in the Seine River. Its one taste of war came when it scared off two British ships in the English Channel. By June 1801, the Nautilus could stay submerged for an hour, but by then the French government had lost interest.

Fulton had the ship dismantled and key parts completely destroyed. However, he continued improving his submarine in later years, adding a periscope and compressed air tanks.

I never knew that Robert Fulton was involved with submarines, but as a nautical inventor, that is not too surprising.

Fulton, Man of Many Coats. --Cooter

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The "Original" Stealth Bombers-- Submarines-- Part 2

David Bushnell was not healthy enough to take the Turtle out himself so he trained his brother David to do it. But, at the time of the attack, Ezra was ill and Sgt. Ezra Lee of the Continental Army was selected by Washington at Brig. General Samuel Holden Parson's recommendation. (Ezra Lee was Parson' brother-in-law.)

At midnight September 7, 1776, the Turtle approached the HMS Eagle, a third rate ship-of-the-line mounting 64 guns and flagship of British Admiral Howe, moored off Governor's Island.

Lee got to the ship undetected, but found that he couldn't drill through the ship's copper-clad hull. The crew saw what was going on, so, under fire, Lee dropped the bomb and left as quickly as the 1 mph Turtle could go, aided by the confusion when the bomb went off.

The first mission was a failure, but did serve to give the British something to worry about.

Bushnell tried two more times to sink British ships, including the frigate Cerberus in December of 1777. The British eventually captured the Turtle and on a raid on Norwalk captured Bushnell, but traded him in 1779 for a British prisoner.

Robert Fulton Up Next. --Cooter

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The USS Arizona After the Attack-- Part 2-- The Arizona Arises

The two aft turrets and their guns and the three from #2 were used by the government later in the war.

The turret and guns of #3 and #4 were removed and became the US Army's Coast Artillery Corps Battery Arizona on the west coast of Oahu and Battery Pennsylvania at Mohapa Point.

The #2 turret guns were later installed on the USS Nevada and in the fall of 1944, received payback for the Arizona when they fired on Japanese forces at Okinawa and Iwo Jima.

I was unable to find out what happened to the two Army batteries on Oahu. It would be something if they are still in place, but I kind of doubt it.

Interesting History. --DaCoot

USS Arizona After the Attack-- Part 1

Back on May 12th, I had an entry about a former member of the USS Arizona during the attack having his ashes buried aboard the ship.

It got me to thinking about what happened to the ship after the attack.

From Wikipedia

The ship was struck from the Naval Vessel Register December 1, 1942. The rumor that it is perpetually in commission is just that. Instead, it is a last resting place for the crew and a memorial.

The wreck was unfortunately cut down so that little remains above water today. I would have liked to have left it just the way it appears in the post-battle photographs (I also would have liked for them to have left the collapsed part of the World Trade Center as a memorial).

I would have liked for them especially to have left the collapsed tower and front turret #2 as a fitting memorial. That would have driven home the enormity of the attack even more.

The two aft main battery turrets and their guns were removed as were the guns from Turret #2 forward. Both forward turrets remain on the wreck with #1 still mounting its three guns.

The USS Arizona had four turrets in its main battery, each mounting three 14-inch guns.

Next, the Arizona Arises. --Cooter

Monday, May 17, 2010

World War I National Monument

The Korean War, Vietnam War and World War II have their monuments on Washington, DC's National Mall, but yet, the veterans of World War I only have one that was built to honor the citizens of Washington, DC, who fought in the War to End All Wars.

From May 16th CNN.

This past Sunday, volunteers from the American Legion met at the 1930s neglected marble temple on the National Mall. It is expected that it will soon become the national memorial to those who fought in the war.

Currently, there is national campaign led by the only surviving US World War I veteran, 109-year-old Frank Buckles. He was unable to attend, however.

The National Park Service is planning to spend $7 million in a renovation plan for it.

It's Definitely About Time. --Cooter

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The "Original" Stealth Bombers-- Submarines-- Part 1

From the February 19, 2006 Chicago Tribune "Voyages to the bottom of the sea" by George Bushnell. An interesting article about the birth of submarines.

Many have heard of the H. L. Hunley, the Confederate submarine that sank the USS Housatonic in the Civil War, but not many are aware that there was a submarine attack back in the Revolutionary War.

They are combat submarines designed and developed by David Bushnell of West Saybrook, Connecticut, and Robert Fulton of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. When I saw the name David Bushnell, I had to wonder if he were some relation to the writer, but George Bushnell said he wasn't.

In 1771, he entered Yale at 31 and wound up doing experiments that showed black powder could be blown up under water. War with Britain was looming and he devised a vessel to deliver the underwater bombs, a one-man oak vessel shaped like two giant turtle shells which gave it the name the American Turtle.

It was 7 feet long and 7 feet wide and six feet high. The two propellers were manually operated with hands and feet and it had 100 pounds of ballast to keep it stable. There was a water gauge to show depth and controls were lighted phosphorescently.

The bomb was in a watertight keg and had 150 pounds of powder.

Bushnell's plan was to approach a British ship in New York Harbor at midnight, submerge and screw the bomb to the hull, then retire while the bomb sank the ship.

More to Come. --Cooter

The Glidden Homestead in Dekalb, Illinois

From the February 3, 2010, MidWeek. "Glidden Homestead hires director."

Most people do not know about this historic site on the Lincoln Highway, but it was here that Joseph F. Glidden invented and manufactured "The Winner" barbed wire for which he got a patent on Nov. 24, 1874. This is the fence that "Won the West."

The Board of Directors just hired their first executive director, Marcia Wilson, who has much experience in local area history.

The original house and barn built in the 1860s still stand at 921 West Lincoln Highway.

Marcia Wilson and the Board are already hard at work with a big fundraiser called "Divas Dish Grandma's Secret Recipes" and are conducting ongoing fund drives to help expand the museum campus and to complete renovations on the house and barn.

The Glidden family has offered the Board an option to buy the lot next to the house which includes a building which would make a nice welcome center.

This is the reason Dekalb is often called the Barb City and its high school teams are called the Barbs.

I Once Had a Bad Experience with Some Barb Wire. --Cooter

Friday, May 14, 2010

67th Anniversary of Centaur Sinking

May 14th Sydney Morning Herald.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has paid tribute to the nurses and doctors who died May 14, 1942, on the hospital ship Centaur which was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. On that date, 268 of the 332 aboard died.

The wreck was just discovered this past December. Rudd said this was a solemn day in Queensland and Australian history.

The Centaur Public Primary School had a ceremony at Point Danger in honor of its namesake. Pupils joined relatives of the medical personnel including the Moran, Hindmarsh and Chegwyn families.

The Hindmarsh Award is given to students and is named after Dr, Bernie Hindmarsh who died on the Centaur. The school is raising funds to buy playground equipment in the shape of the ship. So far, $8,000 of $15,000 needed have been raised and it is expected to be finished in about 8 months.

A commemorative ceremony was also held at Caloundra's Centaur Park and the War Memorial in Canberra. The AHS Centaur group will have a wreath-laying ceremony in Brisbane Bay as well.

A Sad Moment in Australian History. --Cooter

40th Anniversary of Kent State-- Part 8

Strangely, the violence that occurred at Northern Illinois started almost two weeks after Kent State. Until I looked at the scrapbook, I was of the opinion it started within a day or so. I guess that happens when you get old as I am approaching my 59th birthday in ten days. I do wish I had included dates in the article and some are not in chronological order.

Some more headlines from the campus newspaper, the Northern Star:

Smith's decision shows courage.

'Politcs killed them': Kent killings recounted

Dorms remain calm

Tonight William Kunstler of the "Conspiracy 7" raps and answers your questions

36 arrests follow NIU disturbances

Students leave NIU for home

Pass-fail, drop options prompt quick reactions

Students charge faulty arrests

Tuesday night arrests: 54

ROTC stays

Vote fairness satisfies Mcdermott, Huntington

Still Not Finished. --Cooter

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Internment Camp Survivor Ordeal

From the May 13th Daily Herald (Chicago's Northwest Suburbs)

Frank Kajikawa was just a teenager when he spent over a year in a prison camp in the United States and his only crime was that he was of Japanese ancestry. His family along with 120,000 other Japanese Americans were forced from their homes along the Pacific coast and removed to internment camps in the inhospitable interior.

He spoke before a crowd at the Huntley, Illinois, Public Library.

His family was shocked when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941. They were Americans after all, but several months later President Roosevelt signed an executive order forcing his family to move to the Minidoka Camp near Twin Falls, Idaho. They were given two weeks to sell everything. Many families lost everything.

Frank Fujikawa then spent 13 to 14 months at Minidoka, attending school and washing dishes, until he was able to obtain a sponsor and relocate to Salt Lake City.

Then, believe it or not, he got drafted!! He was angry about Minidoka, but proudly served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a Japanese American unit that served in Africa and Europe, compiling a very distinguished record and winning 21 Medals of Honor in the process.

A Sad Time in American History. --DaCoot

40th Anniversary of Kent State-- Part 7

National Guard alerted

Everybody loses at the bridge

False analogy

Guerrilla tactics 101

May Fete cancelled


Greeks & freaks together: Campus unites for march

No Star Tomorrow

Vote preludes disorders


Battle rages; 43 arrested

As you can see, it was a rough period of time.

End of the US? --Cooetr

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

USS Arizona Survivor's Ashes Buried on the Ship

I did not know that survivors of the USS Arizona have the opportunity to have their ashes buried with their shipmates on the ship once they have died.

From the May 11th Hawaii News.

Anthony Schubert died in Hutchinson, Kansas, on August 12, 2009 and his ashes were just interred on the USS Arizona along with 1,100 of his former shipmates who died that fateful day on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

He said he was shaving in the head when the attack came and spent the rest of it helping wounded sailors onto boats.

His daughter Tina Hayward learned that his remains could be buried aboard the ship after his death and said she was sure her father would have considered it an honor.

I certainly do.

The Greatest Generation. --RoadDog

40th Anniversary of Kent State-- Part 6

More headlines from the Northern Star student newspaper at Northern Illinois University during the month of May 1970.

These headlines give you an idea of the climate at the time, and believe me, it was a bit frightening. I was sure I was witnessing the end of the United States.

City businessmen report estimated store damages.

Ogilvie alerts Guard for campus standbys

Guard begins Kent State withdrawal

Greeks decide on stand for march on campus

Businessmen seek retribution: Dekalb to bill NIU for damages

Incidents result in eight injuries

West Campus dorms affected by damages to physical plant

Additional faculty members 'x-ert' voice

Third option to ROTC

Continuing. --Cooter

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ten Defining Moments of the 2000s-- Part 2

Continuing with List Universe's list. Sure a good place to start a discussion. Like I said with the last post, I agree with some and disagree with some and have my own nominees.

5. TECHNOLOGY-- February 4, 2004-- launched. Runners Up: HDTV, high speed internet, Wikipedia.

4. ECONOMICS-- January 1, 2002-- The Euro adopted. Runners Up: Dotcom bust, real estate collapse.

3. INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS-- September 11, 2001-- 9-11. Runners Up: Darfur genocide, Benazir Bhutto assassinated, London train bombing.

2. NATURE-- December 26, 2004-- Indian Ocean earthquake. Runners Up: Hurricane Katrina, Victoria brush fires, climate change.

1. POLITICS-- November 4, 2008-- US Presidential election. Runners Up: Bush/Gore Florida election, 2009 Iranian election.

Of course, List Universe has pictures and information about the selections.

Good List. --Cooter

Ten Defining Moments of the 2000s-- Part 1

From the December 22, 2009, List Universe.

As we were approaching the end of the decade no one really knew what to call (was it the 0s, Oughts?), the good folks at List Universe took a look back at the "Big Events" of those ten years. You may agree or not, but guaranteed to spark discussion.

10. LITERATURE-- July 21, 2007-- Last harry Potter book released. Runners Up: The DaVinci Code, Oprah's Book Club.

9. TV-- October 5, 2001-- American Idol debuts. Runners Up: Lost, Sopranos, Family Guy.

8. FILM-- November 12, 2009-- Slumdog Millionaire released. Runners Up: Hotel Rwanda, Brokeback Mountain.

7. SPORTS-- October 17, 2004-- Boston Red Sox win World Series. Runners-Up: Spain wins Euro 2008, Zinedine Zidawe's headbutt, 2008 New York Giants.

6. MUSIC-- October 23, 2001-- Apple introduces iPod. Runners Up: Janet Jackson's Super Bowl show, Live 8, Napster, Michael Jackson dies.

I Agree with Some and Disagree with Others. --DaCoot

Monday, May 10, 2010

40th Anniversary of Kent State-- Part 5

Continuing with the Northern Star headlines.

Three students, five policemen injured Monday.

Referendum climaxes ROTC controversy


Damages to on-campus buildings near $9,500.

Groppi raps hypocrites

Police establish NIU command

Eyewitness: reporter tells arrest story

Protesters rampage campus

U. Council OK's grade options

Collins petition attacks NIU

Release of 34 jailed students arranged by Bail-Bond Committee

Tuesday night: 54 arrested, six not students

Guardsmen are People too

Kill da hippies

McAtee's majority

Still Have More. --DaCoot

World War I Soldier's Body Found

From the March 18th "First World War soldier's family welcomes discovery of body" by Stephen Bales.

Harry Willis, 19, was killed in the disastrous July 1916 Battle of Fromelles on the Western Front while attacking German lines near Lille. His body was found in a newly discovered burial pit along with 250 other Australian soldiers.

The Australian attack was supposed to take pressure off British troops at the Battle of the Somme, about fifty miles away. On that day, there were 5,533 Australian casualties and as such it is often referred to as the worst 24 hours in the country's history.

Two small horseshoe-shaped good luck medallions were found by his body. They had been presented by local authorities in Alberton, Victoria, after he had volunteered in 1915.

The pit was the largest mass World War I burial site discovered in the past eighty years.

Willis was part of a Lewis machine gun crew. It is known that he was shot through the jaw in hand-to-hand fighting in the German trenches. All five of the Willis brothers joined the service in the war and two were killed.

A Long Time Coming. --Cooter

Saturday, May 8, 2010

USS Adams (1799) (1874)

In the previous entry, I mentioned that the frigate USS Adams was the first ship built at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. This ship had an interesting history as two US warships.

The first one had 28 guns and served in the Quasi-War, Barbary War and War of 1812. In the last war, it was scuttled and burned to prevent capture by the British. The hull was left there until a new naval building program in the 1870s. It was discovered the hull (made of 32-inch thick oak) was still solid. The ship was raised and rebuilt, keeping the same name.

Only this time it mounted five guns and was a single screw, wooden-hulled steamer. It served in the Atlantic, Pacific, Alaska and Hawaii. It was decommissioned and used for militia training until World War I, when it was recommissioned and served as a station ship on the Delaware River. Decommissioned after the war, it was sold in 1920 and broken up in 1921 or 1922..

So, There Were Two USS Adams, Not To Be Confused With the USS John Adams Like the Original Article. --Dacoot

Brooklyn Navy Yard

May 19, 2008 Navy Times by Richard Pyle, AP.

Audry Lyons was a $40 a week parts inspector at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1944 when Margaret Truman invited her to help christen the new battleship USS Missouri. Margaret was the daughter of US Senator Harry Truman a needed Audry's help to break the bottle on her thrid try.

The Missouri was the last famous warship be launched at this historical Navy Yard.

Today, there is a lot of activity at the former bases 40+ buildings which are used by small entrepreneurs and companies. Several of the six dry docks remain and are still used for ship repairs

However, the place fell into disrepair after closing in the 1970s.The first US Naval ship to be built there was the USS Adams, a frigate of 28 guns. The last was the amphibious transport Duluth in 1965.

Other famous ships were the Fulton II, the Navy's first steam-powered warship in 1837. The frigate Niagara helped lay the first trans-Atlantic cable. The USS Monitor was built elsewhere, but commissioned here. The USS Maine was commissioned in 1889 and the USS Arizona in 1911.

So, today, two Brooklyn Navy yard ships are a few hundred yards from each other in Pearl Harbor, the Arizona and Missouri.

A Lot of History here. --Cooter

40th Anniversary of Kent State-- Part 4

Continuing with headlines from the Northern Star from the month of May.

Jackson-- do Black lives count?

Property vs. lives

Optional finals?

Washington antiwar rally 'parallels picnic, not protest'

Be a Marine officer?

Dekalb Post 66 American Legion supports 1. ROTC, 2. Freedom of Choice, 3. Law and Order, 4. For God and Country.

Where is Love?

Campus justice provokes unjust arrest

Bail subsidizing violence?

Thank you, Dr. Weaver

Monday night

Morality dictates no-ROTC vote

These are from the headlines, picture captions, ads and editorials

Not Finished Yest. --Cooter

Friday, May 7, 2010

Bits O' History: Met Patton-- Canada's Battle of the Atlantic-- Polish President Dies

Some new news about old stuff.

1. MET PATTON-- May 6th WAFF TV News, Alabama. World War II veteran Robert Boykin was on the Honor Flight to see the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC and talked about his experience. He was at Normandy Beach on D-Day and delivered food and supplies to the front. He served as chauffeur for Eisenhower and General George Patton in Germany.

He is a big fan of Patton and said "Patton was a tough man, good, happy, laughing and partying, and shooting and drinking."

2. CANADA'S BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC-- The May 3rd CBC News reported that Canadian World War II veterans and serving Navy personnel met at St. John's waterfront to commemorate World War II's Battle of the Atlantic. More than 1600 Canadian merchant sailors met the death doing convoy duty.

3. POLISH PRESIDENT DIES-- Lech Kaczynski and another high ranking generals and officials died when their plane crashed while on their way to commemorate the 20,000 Polish officers and potential leaders who were "methodically and deliberately" massacred in 1940 at Katyn Forest under orders of Soviet leader Stalin. Most had bullets fired from behind.

At first, the Soviets put the blame on the Germans.

Now You Know. --DaCoot

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Dead Page: Tuskegee Airman-- Dies After Honor Flight


World War II Aviator Broke Color Barrier

From the May 22, 2008, Seattle Times.

Attended the University of Kansas and got his biology degree in 1940 from Sam Houston College in Huntsville, Texas. One of the first group accepted into the Tuskegee Airmen, a segregated Army Air Corps squadron.

Born in Edwardsville, Kansas.


Died After Flight of Honor

Former World War II private who fought at the Battle of the Bulge, died at his home shortly after returning from his Flight of Honor to the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC.

His son Richard found hid father dead when he arrived at his home early Sunday. He said his father treasured his last days alive, "I'm so thankful he got to see (the memorial). I know it meant everything to him."

From June 2, 2008, Huntsville (Al) Times.

Another Reason These Flights Are So Important. Both members of "The Greatest Generation."

40th Anniversary of Kent State-- Part 3

These are the headlines from the scrapbook I kept of the month of May, mostly from the student newspaper The Northern Star. I hadn't kept a scrapbook before during my freshman year, but with events unfolding as they were, I felt it was important to start one. One of the early aspects of this obsession of mine where I feel I have to write everything down.

I have the articles as well, but the headlines tell the story well on their own.

The front cover has this written on it: "The Place Went Nuts" The Northern Star reports what went on during the month of May, 1970. Northern Illinois University


Guard requested

Students take a stand on sit-ins

The issue for tonight's march is...

Last Chance

Campus unrest

Volunteers raise $530 bail

Does 'saving' Vietnam mean destroying it?

An open Letter to NIU

Dispersion was demanded

Clubs to guns; What next?

To Be Continued. --Cooter

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Dead Page: "The Dirty Dozen"


Member of the unit linked to "The Dirty Dozen" died April 7th in Pennsylvania. They inspired the movie by their operations behind German lines in World War II.

They were called the "Filthy Thirteen" and were an unofficial unit in the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment in the 101st Airborne. On D-Day, the Filthy Thirteen parachuted into France to take a bridge over the Douve River, an effort that cost most of then their lives.

At the Battle of the Bulge, Agnew and others requested pathfinder duty and parachuted into besieged Bastogne and operated beacons to help guide in planes with badly-needed supplies.

They inspired the movie "The Dirty Dozen" although it wasn't quite accurate, but the group had a reputation fro brawling, drinking and spending time in stockades.

According to Mr. Agnew, "We weren't murderers or anything, we just didn't do everything we were supposed to do in some ways and did a whole lot more than they wanted us to do in other ways. We were always in trouble."

Another member, Jake McNiece considered any activities not directly concerned with killing the enemy as irrelevant. As such, the members were constantly in trouble.

The Greatest Generation, Even If They Couldn't Follow Orders Very Well.

From the April 13th LA Times.

40th Anniversary of Kent State-- Part 2

I kept a scrapbook of clipping from the student newspaper, The Northern Star during this month, and I'm glad I did. I just wish I had also kept a journal back then.

I thought that the violence at Northern Illinois erupted the following day or two. There were marches and a renewed call to kick ROTC off campus, a continuing sore point between anti-war people and those who supported it. The fraternities and sororities in the Greek system came under fire as well for not supporting the anti-war movement.

At the time, I was pledging Delta Sigma Phi and was just about to become an active or just had. I'm not sure.

There were several marches and definitely an increased police presence on campus and in Dekalb. I can remember once going into town to Pizza Villa and as we walked around a corner, we ran into several police in full battle-garb and one had a big old tear gas gun.

Looking at the articles, the real battle didn't begin until a couple weeks later right after a visit from activist Father James Groppi from the Milwaukee Catholic Diocese.

Tomorrow, I will write down the headlines from my scrapbook.

Like I Wrote on the Cover of the Scrapbook, "The Place Went Nuts."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dead Page: Goodbye Munchkin


Played the Munchkin Coroner in "Wizard of Oz"

Died April 9th. One of 124 Munchkins and one of only 9 with speaking parts. At age 22, he solemnly pronounced the witch was dead after Dorothy's house landed on her. "As coroner, I must aver. I thoroughly examined her. And she's not merely dead, she's most sincerely dead."

He wore a huge hat with rolled brim with dyed yak hair for his mustache and beard and didn't get paid much for his part.

In 1988, he said he had no idea the movie would be that big as "Gone With the Wind" was released at the same time. In 1956, CBS got it and its popularity took off.

He was 3 and a half feet tall when the movie was made and grew to 4 and a half feet.

For thirty years, he toured in the Oscar Mayer Venerable as "Little Oscar, the World's Smallest Chef." he greatly enjoyed going to Oz nostalgia events.

In 2005, he wrote the book "Memories of a Munchkin: An Illustrated Walk Down the Yellow Brick Road." In 2007, he and the six other surviving Munchkins received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Loved Those Munchkins. They Didn't Scare Me Like the Monkeys Did.

40th Anniversary of Kent State Today-- Part 1

It was 40 years ago today that Ohio National Guard troops opened fire on anti-war protesters at Kent State University, killing four and wounded eleven.

The Vietnam War was the big thing on college campuses back in the late 60s-early 70s. When boys graduated high school, they essentially had the choice of two things: go to college or go to Vietnam. Some opted for a third choice to leave the US, many going to Canada or Europe.

Of course, this depended upon your draft lottery number. If you got a high number, chances were good that you wouldn't be drafted. The first year they had the lottery, I was too young and got a #31. I figured that meant that I would get a high number when it counted. Wrong. I got a #22. I had always planned on being a teacher and going to college so I didn't go just to avoid the draft, but there were many guys who did.

I was a freshman living at Lincoln Hall dormitory at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb at this time. Just about once a week, there would be an anti-war march through campus. I did not participate, nor did most of my dorm floor, but we watched. I remember once someone in the march had a Viet Cong flag and some of our guys ran out and took it.

However, when word of Kent State reached campus, things got ugly, as they did at colleges all across the United States. How dare the National Guard kill unarmed students doing a legal protest.

Marches were planned for the next day, and to say the least, things were getting tense.

Next, Violence at Good 'Ol NIU. --Cooter

Monday, May 3, 2010

World War II's "Ghost Army"

From the May 1st oneindia "Ghost Army's role in Allie's World War II win to be revealed."

This "Ghost Army" helped to win World War II and saved the lives of thousands of British and Americans. An exhibit has opened at the University of Michigan to highlight the service of the US Army's tactics deception unit made up of actors, artists and sound experts who were aided by hundreds of inflatable tanks and artillery and sound experts.

Sometimes, members would go into newly-occupied towns and pose as drunken officers who would tell all sorts of stories for disinformation for German spies who might still be in town.

Stories were gathered from 21 of the surviving members of the group which participated in five major campaigns from D-Day to the end of the war in Europe.

The idea for the unit came from British Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery who used plywood tanks to confuse Rommell at the Battle of El Alamein in North Africa.

The existence of the group was kept secret until 1996 and some elements are still classified.

Very Sneaky of Us. --Cooter

Some Interesting Stuff of Lincoln on Display-- Part 2

The Indiana State Museum had these items:

** The Alexander Gardner Studio chair Lincoln sat in for presidential photographs.

** Toys from son Tad Lincoln.

** Campaign and mourning banners and the 13-star patriotic banner that was hanging in Ford's Theater on the night of the assassination.

** An American flag from Lincoln's funeral in Indianapolis.

** The Lincoln Family Album, a multi-generational collection of photographs of family members and celebrities during the era.

I don't know if these items are always on display. The museum is located at 650 West Washington Street in Indianapolis.

A Great Man. --DaCoot

Some Interesting Lincoln Stuff on Display-- Part 1

From the April 2010 Sr. Connection "The Multi-Faceted Mr. Lincoln" by Betsa Marsh.

The Library of Congress's With malice Toward None: The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Exhibition was at the Indiana State Museum last month and it sure had a lot of interesting things to connect you with the man.

Some of the highlights:

** The Bible in which he was sworn in as 16th president which was also used by Barack Obama in 2009.

** A draft of the Gettysburg Address given to his personal secretary John Nicolay.

** Contents of his pockets the night he was assassinated, including two pairs of spectacles, a lens polisher, a pocketknife, watch fob, linen handkerchief and brown leather wallet including a $5 Confederate bill.

** The first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation he presented to his cabinet July 22, 1862.

** A Lincoln-Douglas Debate scrapbook of newspaper clippings kept by Lincoln.

** A rarely seen exchange of letters written during his first presidential campaign with Grace Bedell who suggested he grow a beard.

The future shows of this exhibit:

September 4 to November 6th at the Atlanta History Center, Atlanta, Georgia
Jan. 8, 2011 to March 5th at the Durham Museum, Omaha, Nebraska

Now, These Are Some Things I'd Like to See. --Cooter

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Pigs Find German World War II Anti-tank Weapon

From May 2nd Bloomington (Il) Pantagraph.

Leave it to the pigs to find the truffles, er, weapons. "German police say a couple of hungry pigs digging for food came nose-t0-nose (well, snout-to-metal) with a long-buried World War II anti-tank weapon."

They found a single-shot "Panzerfaust" on private land southwest of Dresden.

Their owner secured it, locked them in their stalls and called police who removed and destroyed it. The Panzerfaust was inexpensive and easy-to-operate and used much in the defense of Germany.

Panzerfausts were small, pre-loaded, recoilless weapons which fired a high-explosive warhead. In late war in-town actions, about 70% of Allied tanks were destroyed by these.

I have written about World War I and II bombs and mines that are often found in Europe, but according to the article, such finds as this are still common even 65 years after the war.

A Real Pair of Hero Pigs. --Cooter

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Ten Greatest Historical Warriors

The good folks at List Universe sent along another interesting list on April 19th. This one is the ten greatest groups of historical warriors. Actually, I would have voted for Rambo, but that's another story.

10. Aztecs
9. Mongol warriors
8. Mamluks-- slave soldiers who converted to Islam
7. Roman Legion
6. Apaches
5. Samurai
4. Ninjas
3. Vikings
2. Spartans
1. Knights

Well, perhaps the Teenage Mutant Turtles.

List Universe always has photos and writeups on each.

Now, Rambo is Mad. --Cooter