Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Anne Frank Tree Toppled in Amsterdam

From the August 24th Globe and Mail.

On August 23rd, strong winds toppled the tree which besides age, was suffering from rot and moths.

The massive chestnut tree gave comfort to Anne Frank who wrote about it three times in her diary while hiding out from the Germans during World War II.

In 2007, Amsterdam ordered it cut down, but a global campaign saved it. In 2005 the Anne Frank Council decided to germinate seedlings from the tree.

Canada is getting a sapling that will be planted September 27th outside the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre.

A Part of History. --Cooter

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sinking of the HMT Rohna in World War II

In the Today in History in the November 26th Goldsboro News-Argus there was a tragic entry: "In 1943, during World War II, the HMT Rohna, a British transport ship carrying American soldiers, was hit by a German missile off Algeria; 1,138 men were killed."

I did not know missiles were used in such a manner during the war, nor had I ever heard of it.

I just typed HMT Rohna into the label and I saw that I had written about it before on June 29 and July 9, 2009. Those posts were related to the death of John Lynwood Smith who was a survivor of the Rohna.

A Sad Day. --Cooter

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Dead Page: A Tarheel Yankee

CLYDE KING 86

King Leaves Stamp on Many Hearts in Baseball World.

A lifelong native of my hometown, Goldsboro, North Carolina, Mr. King played basketball and baseball and signed with the Dodgers and had only a short major league career. From the mid-1950s to early 1970s he managed many minor league teams.

Starting in the 70s, he managed the San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees, compiling a record of 234-229. He joined the Yankees in 1975 and became a trouble-shooter for George Steinbrenner and managed the Yankees for part of 1982.


Mr. King lived next door to us for about a year and a half in Goldsboro and he and his wife remained friends of my parents for years afterwards.

A great man, but too bad he had to do a lot of his baseball career with a team like the Yankees.

Friday, November 19, 2010

69th Anniversary of the Sinking of the HMAS Sydney II

Sixty-nine years ago, the HMAS Sydney sank after an engagement with the German raider Kormoran off the west coast of Australia with a loss of 645 Australians.

There is a memorial at Geraldton in Western Australia that was dedicated in 2001 and declared a military memorial of national significance in 2009.

Australia's government is funding $290,000 toward making a memorial Pool of Remembrance at the site. It will feature 645 sea gulls symbolizing the number of Australians who died on the ship. The 645th gull's wing will touch a granite map showing the ship's final location.

The HMAS Sydney II was the second ship of that name in the Australian Navy. It was located in 2008.

The rest of the money for the pool will be coming from the Rotary Club of Geraldton and it is hoped the project will be completed by this date in 2011, the 70th anniversary.

The Greatest Generation. --DaCoot

World War II Mines and Bombs Still a Problem

From the November 19th Scotsman.

The Northern Diving Group based at HM Naval Base Clyde in Scotland is the foremost experts in bomb disposal techniques in the country, a skill largely honed from years of dismantling World War II mines and even bombs that turn up each year.

They are regularly called out to disarm munitions caught up in fishing nets or suspicious objects washed up on shore.

An example of their work occurred this past January when they were called out to disarm an unexploded Second World War caught up in a trawler's net off Port Seton in East Lothian.

Still a Problem After All These Years. --Cooter

Thursday, November 18, 2010

World War II Liberty Card

Warren F. Kaplan's daughter had a Liberty Card at the display which read:

No. 14 NCG2518

US Coast Guard Cutter Frederick Lee

Kaplan, Warren F. SOME (R)

This entitles bearer to leave the ship in liberty, and, if the ship is in a Navy Yard, to pass through the gates. To be shown to O.O.D. when leaving and dropped in a check box on return to the ship.

Karl B. Weiland, LT (jg)
Executive Officer

Meet-A-Vet-- Part 2

HAROLD ZAYOREN, 87

Mr. Zayoren was a member of the 9th Air Force.

He had a 27 calibre carbine made in Italy and issued to German soldiers that he picked up off a dead soldier. Also had a Nazi armband also taken off another Germqn soldier.

he has the dress uniform he wore as well as a blue braid that was given to him in thanks from the Belgium government for his service.


HY FLIGELMAN

Mr. Fligelmen was dead, but his son made a presentation for him.

His dad captured a Japanese flag at Okinawa taken off a dead Japanese soldier who had bayoneted him. As the Japanese soldier was pulling the bayonet out, he fired and blew Hy's big toe off. Hy was a tough guy from Chicago's West Side and got mad and killed the Japanese soldier.

He also took the gun and bayonet.

There is a big picture of Hy returning to the US with his unit.


WARREN F. KAPLAN

Died two and a half years ago, but his daughter was there to tell about him.

Mr. Kaplan was in the Coast Guard and stationed in Iceland during the war on the cutter Frederick Lee. Their primary duty was to hunt for German U-boats and the Lee got credit for two and a half kills (sinkings).

The Coast Guard as well as Merchant Marine usually do not get credit due for their service in World War II.

The Greatest Generation. --Cooter

Meet-A-Vet Day-- Part 1

This past November 6th, the Fox Lake, Illinois, American Legion sponsored their first Meet-A-Vet Day. We weren't sure how well it would turn out, but judging from the fact that people complained about how hard it was to find a place to park in our large lot, I'd have to say it was an overwhelming success.

There were a lot of veterans and re-enactors there talking about their experiences and show momentos. There were also sons and daughters of veterans showing stuff about their fathers.

All wars from the Civil War to present were represented and there was a mini Civil War US Signal Corps encampment by the lake.

I had expected a lot of older people, but there were a lot of kids in house along with scouts. Many local teachers were giving extra credit for students if they attended. It is great that these kids now know that "Freedom Ain't Free."

I visited with several veterans, particularly World War II as I have definitely gotten more interested in it because of this blog which seems to be more-and-more heading in that direction.

I especially enjoyed my talk with Thomas E. Decker, a Pearl Harbor survivor and Navy veteran. This led to the five part Pearl Harbor Coincidence entries I finished yesterday.

More to Come. DaCoot

27th Tom Grosvenor Memorial Marine Corps Birthday Breakfast and Toys for Tots

I attended this November 13th at the Fox Lake, Illinois, American Legion.

It's quite an honor to get together with Marines from World War II all the way up present wars.

Like in the headline, this is the 27th year this has happened. The original breakfast took place at Hoff's Kitchen in Grayslake, Illinois, on November 10, 1983 when 13 Marines met for S.O.S.,eggs and coffee. And that is just what was on the menu last Saturday.

We were celebrating the 235th birthday of the USMC, which started November 10, 1775, as the Continental Marines.

Our guests of honor were the five World War II and 8 Korean War veterans as well as six active duty Marines who sat with the Korean War guys.

After a prayer, the colors were posted, the whole Marine Corps Hymn sung (and it's a lot more than the one verse usually sung. Fortunately, the words were printed on the pamphlet so I could sing.)and then we had the Commandant's address which this year spotlighted the Korean War and specifically the Chosin reservoir where the Marines pulled off an unbelievable withdrawal in the face of overwhelming numbers. In the course of it, 4400 Marines became casualties while the enemy suffered over 37,000.

One thing I always like is the cake ceremony where it is cut with a sword and the oldest Marine gives a piece to the youngest to signify the continuation of the Corps from one generation to the next. This year the oldest was 85 and youngest 24. The oldest had a Marine Corps jacket with the words

Chesty's
A Co.
1 Battalion
1 Regt.
1 Division

This was also the 63rd year the Corps has sponsired the Toys for Tots program.

OOO-RAH!! --Cooter

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Pearl Harbor Coincidence-- Part 5-- Thomas Decker

During the attacks, he helped batten down the hatches and carried 5-inch shells to the gun on the fantail (rear of the ship). The Hull received credit for shooting down two and a half enemy planes during the attacks.

After the attack, Decker served three and a half years on the Hull during which the ship earned Battle Stars for participating in actions against the Japanese. After being promoted to Pharmacist Mate 2nd Class, he was transferred to the Naval Hospital at Great Lakes for awhile.

Then, it was back to action on the LST-321 where, on D-Day, he assisted in the landing at Omaha Beach during the invasion of Normandy. During this time, he was in charge of 30 HMCs who picked up the DMS 35.

He completed his Naval service at St. Louis, Missouri on October 31, 1945.

He joined the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association in 1966 and was President of Illinois Chapter 1 in 1968 and National President in from 1980-1982.

He said there are still two chapters of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association in Illinois and one meets at Lamb's Farm in Libertyville twice a year. The other chapter meets in Springfield. Only six or seven Pearl Harbor Survivors remain in Illinois now, down from 91 at one time.

Quite a Coincidence. --DaCoot

Jewish WWII Vets Recall Fight Against Nazis-- Part 2

The veterans who spoke last Friday at Highland Park, Illinois' Congregation Solel were Courtney Shanken, Howard Haas, Jack Heiman and Marshall Domash.

Haas and Shanken were among six local WWII veterans who received the French Legion of Honor last week in Chicago for their roles in helping to liberate France.

Howard Haas dropped out of the University of Chicago in his freshman year in 1942 to join the Army Air Force where he was a bombardier stationed in Italy bombing strategic positions throughout southern Europe. He completed his required fifty missions from June to December 1944.

One of his missions took him directly over Auschwitz, but, at the time, he didn't know the extent to which the atrocities had occurred.

"We flew over Auschwitz, but we didn't know Auschwitz was a death camp. We just thought it was a concentration camp." Even had they known, "We couldn't have bombed Auschwitz from 22,000 feet. We would have killed more Jews than the Germans did," said Haas, the former president and CEO of Sealy Mattress Company.

More to Come.

The Greatest Generation. --Cooter

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Pearl Harbor Coincidence-- Part 4-- Thomas E. Decker

This past November 6th, my American Legion Post 703 in Fox Lake hosted a Meet-A-Vet Day and one of them was Mr. Thomas E. Decker. Handouts were given to those attending and this is what his said.

He enlisted in June 1938, in St. Louis, Missouri and had basic training at Great Lakes Naval Training Center in North Chicago.

Upon graduating, he was ordered to Hospital Corps School in San Diego, California, and afterwards did a short tour of duty at Mare Island Hospital. He then shipped out to the USS Relief (a hospital ship) stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, where he was appointed to 3rd Class Pharmacist Mate and was reassigned to the USS Hull (DD-350).

On December 7, 1941, the Hull was in a group of five destroyers tied up to the supply ship USS Dobbin. Decker was asleep in his bunk when he was awakened by, "We are being attacked!"

More to Come. --DaCoot

Jewish WWII Vets Recall Fight Against Nazis-- Part 1

From the November 10th Chicago Tribune.

Four who had "H"-- for Hebrew-- on their dog tags to speak Friday in Highland Park" by Robert Channick.

When most people think of the Jewish experience during World War II, thoughts immediately turn to concentration camps and the Holocaust. However, that is not the whole story.

As Americans, Jews joined the military to defeat the Axis Powers. As Jews, they fought against the atrocities committed by the Nazis on their European brethren.

Some 500,000 Jews served in American forces and four have agreed to give a talk about their experiences in Highland Park. All are members of the Congregation Soleil in the city.

Deborah Dash Moore of the University of Michigan and author of "GI Jews" says "we only think about European Jews who were victims of the Holocaust. We don't think about American Jews and the ways in which military service was a response to the war and the persecution of European Jews."

Of course, I have to wonder how much was actually known about the Holocaust and Final Solution during the war. I have never found a definitive explanation. Obviously, the Nazis hated Jews and had done horrible things to them before the war, but, how much actually was known once the war commenced.

More to Come. --Cooter

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Pearl Harbor Coincidence-- Part 3-- Robert Coyne

Continuing with the article about Robert Coyne on the USS Hull during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

"Three of them came down on us, the first one hit the Dobbin and killed all the gun crew. The next one lifted from the stern and out into the water and the third one crashed after on the beach.

The battleship USS Nevada got underway. "We got underway, too. And we were lucky because we got out." No one was killed or wounded.

The Hull cleared Pearl Harbor at noon and went looking for Japanese ships. The ship returned to Pearl two days later and fires were still burning and smoke was everywhere.

Mr. Coyne left the Navy as a lieutenant.

Last year, he visited San Diego and visited with Archie Deyerke, one of his closest buddies who served with him at Pearl Harbor. He also met another friend, Pat Douhon, 89.

The Greatest generation. --DaCoot

A Pearl Harbor Coincidence-- Part 2

Here is the article about Robert Coyne from the October 14th Lehigh Acres (Fl) Citizen. "Pearl Harbor vet to celebrate 90th birthday."

Robert Coyne was born October 20, 1920 and grew up in Phillipsburg, New Jersey. He turned 18 in 1939 and went into the CCC before joining the Navy. After training in Newport, Rhode Island, he was sent overseas in the spring of 1941 aboard the destroyer leader USS Winslow.

From Long Beach, California he went to Pearl harbor aboard the USS Hull where he worked on the bridge as a signal man quartermaster.

December 7, 1941, found Mr. Coyne as a petty officer third class. "Yes, I was scared and I cried when it happened. Not ashamed to say so." When the attack started, he was in his bunk and remembers some yelling, "The Japs are attacking us!"

The Hull was tied up alongside the USS Dobbin, a destroyer tender. He grabbed his shorts and ran up to the bridge and saw action and the USS Arizona blowing up.

More to Come.

The Day of Infamy. --Cooter

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Pearl Harbor Coincidence-- Part 1

Today, while over my backlog of e-mails, I came across one for a 90th birthday party for Robert Coyne who was at Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941, when the attack came.

Every year, there are fewer and fewer survivors who were there at the Day of Infamy. This past Saturday, I was able to meet Thomas E. Decker, a Pearl Harbor survivor at the Meet-A-Vet Day at the Fox Lake, Illinois, American Legion.

While reading the article on Mr. Coyne in the October 14th Lehigh Acres (Fl) Citizen, I saw where he was on board the destroyer USS Hull at Pearl Harbor. I had seen that ship's name just recently.

Mr. Decker had handouts Saturday and I got one. I looked at it and sure enough, he also was on the Hull during the attack.

They must know each other. I had Mr. Decker's business card and phone number so called him. He remembered Mr. Coyne and said there were still three crewmembers living from the attack and he had been trying to get in touch with him. The article gave Mr. Coyne's phone number so I gave it to Mr. Decker.

Quite the Coincidence. --Cooter

Last Living US World War I Veteran Pushing for a Memorial.

From November 11th CNN "Last Living U.S. WWI vet pushes for Great War memorial" by Paul Courson.

Frank Buckles is 109 and will turn 110 in February. During World War I he was a corporal and drove an ambulance in Europe.

For the last several years on Veterans Day, he would stop at Arlington National Cemetery outside of Washington, DC, to visit the grave of General John "Black Jack" Pershing, the supreme US commander in the conflict.

He would also visit Washington DC's World War I Memorial on the National Mall which he has been pushing in a bill to pass Congress naming both the DC site and one in Kansas City, Missouri, as the national monuments to the War to End All Wars.

However, the bill, called the Frank Buckles Memorial Act, has been stalled for months and he is not getting any younger. It is hoped that it will pass before he dies.


IMPROVEMENTS

Recently, National Park Service Officials led a tour of the DC site which is looking better than it has in years. Repairs have been done on a neglected walkway, the deteriorating dome and marble columns have been fixed. The whole memorial has also been cleaned, broken flagstone repaired and overgrown holly trees which obscured the site from view have been cut down.

Here's Hoping That the Bill Passes Before Mr. Buckles Is No Longer with Us.

Today's Top Ten: Veterans Day Reminders-- Part 2

Continued from yesterday.

6. THE UNKNOWN OF WORLD WAR I-- On Memorial Day 1921, four unknown American servicemen were exhumed from four different American World War II cemeteries in France and one was selected at random. He was transported to America on the USS Olympia, a Spanish-American warship. The others were reburied at the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery in France.

The body lay in state at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, DC. and November 11, 1921, the memorial was dedicated at Arlington National Cemetery.


7. UNKNOWN OF WORLD WAR II-- Two unknown dead, one from the Pacific Theater and one from the European Theater were exhumed and one selected at random. He was reinterred at Arlington National Cemetery (on the grounds of Confederate General Robert E. Lee's home) in 1958.

8. UNKNOWN OF KOREAN WAR-- Four unknown bodies were disinterred from the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii and one was selected to be buried at Arlington.

9. UNKNOWN OF VIETNAM-- Selected the same way as the previous wars. Reinterred at Arlington in 1984.

10. VETERANS DAY-- I hope you commemorated Veterans Day in some manner yesterday. We owe these people more than we can ever pay.

Thank You Veterans.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Last US World War I Veteran in Declining Health

Frank Buckles, 109, the last surviving US veteran of World War I has been reported by his family as having declining health the last several months.

In recent years, he has gone to Washington, DC on Veterans Day, but this year has decided to spend the day resting at his farmhouse in West Virginia.

He will be turning 110 this February. Here's hoping he improves, but that is quite old. It will be a sad day when Mr. Buckles passes on.

The Last of Another Great Generation.

Veteran Memorials in Chicago

From the Nov. 11th Chicago Tribune "Honoring Heroes" by Ron Grossman. Pictures accompanied the article.

KOREAN WAR MEMORIAL-- In the Far South Side's Kennedy Park remembers the "forgotten war."

VIETNAM VETERANS-- A marker on the Chicago River downtown.

BATAAN-CORREGIDOR MEMORIAL-- The State Street Bridge is a memorial to this brutal chapter of World War II.

MAYWOOD MONUMENT-- The suburb's Veterans Memorial Park has a tank that honors the 192nd Tank battalion.

VICTORY MONUMENT-- A memorial at 35th Street and Martin Luther King Drive honors black soldiers in World War I.

Things You Might Not Know About Chicagoland.

Today's Top Ten: Veterans Day Reminders-- Part 1

On this day to honor those who have put their lives on the line so that we might live as we do, here are ten items of interest as reported in the November 10th Delaware County (Pa) News by Mary Ann Fiebert.

1. In 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11th to be Armistice Day to honor World War I veterans.

2. At first the day was to honor World War I veterans, but in 1954 Congress amended the Act of 1938 and changed the word Armistice to Veterans in order to honor all who served.

3. The Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier is in Washington Square in Philadelphia. An eternal flames burns there by a statue of George Washington.

4. The Unknown Soldier of the Confederate States of America is buried at Jefferson Davis' home, Beauvoir, in Biloxi, Mississippi. (For more information, go to today's entry at http://sawtheelephant.blogspot.com.

5. The Tomb of the Unknowns is at Arlington national Cemetery outside of Washington, DC.

More to Come.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

35th Anniversary of the Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald

On this date 35 years ago in 1975, the Great Lakes freighter Edmund Fitzgerald, once the largest ship operating, sank in a huge storm that swept across Lake Superior, taking all 29 aboard to their deaths.

It had been launched in 1958.

The wreck was located that same year by US Navy planes using detectors that usually searched out submarines. The ship was lying in two pieces. Quite a few dives have been made on the Fitzgerald since then.

In 1976, singer Gordon Lightfoot had a big hit with his account of the sinking called "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."

The last ten years I taught, my students had a two day unit on the sinking of the ship, partly using the song. They also had the opportunity to draw the ship.

One of the Last Great Lakes Shipping Disasters. --Cooter

Centaur and Sydney Finder Awarded Medal

From November 1st Adelaide Now (Australia).

When David Mearns and his team found the HMAS Sydney in March 2008 they jumped around like children. "It was absolute euphoria," said Mearns.

Just under two years later, a similar thing happened when they discovered the final resting place of the AHS Centaur.

At the same, the finds gave closure to hundreds of Australian families who knew their loved ones were most likely dead, but didn't know where.

David Mearns received the Medal of the Order of Australia.

He is director of Blue Water Recoveries and under his direction they've found more than fifty wrecks.

They found the wreck of the Sydney March 16, 2008, leaning slightly over to starboard 2.5 kilometers deep on the floor of the Indian Ocean about 100 nautical miles off the West Australian coast. Four days earlier, they had found the wreck of the German raider Kormoran which sank after sinking the Sydney in a tremendous firefight. All 645 crew members on the Sydney lost their lives. The search for the Sydney covered over 1,500 square nautical miles, more than ten times the area involved in the search for the Titanic.

This past January 10th, they found the AHS Centaur which had been torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-177 off the Queensland coast in 1943, despite obviously being a hospital ship. Of a crew of 332, loss of life numbered 268. The remaining 64 were rescued by an American destroyer after floating on wreckage for 36 hours.

An Award Well-Earned. --DaCoot

And, a Big Happy Birthday to the USMC!!!

It was this date back in 1775, that Captain Samuel Nichols formed two battalions of Continental Marines in Philadelphia to serve as naval infantry. Thus began one of the greatest military organizations in history.

I myself had a short tenure as a Marine, serving six weeks back in the summer of 1971 when I was enrolled in Officer candidate School and went to Quantico, Virginia, for six weeks. Let me tell you that was the roughest six weeks of my life. I couldn't do anything right in a military way for the first three weeks but eventually started catching on.

Fortunately, the Vietnam War began winding down after that and there was no need for more officers and it was over by the time I graduated from college in 1973.

This Saturday, I plan to attend the Marine Corps breakfast at the American Legion in Fox Lake, Illinois.

Great Fighting Group, Those Marines. --Cooter

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

And, Speaking of the Battleship USS North Carolina

From the September 29th Wilmington Star-News Back Then column where they look back at old news from the paper.

An editorial in the September 26, 1960, Wilmington newspaper about "Club 68" which was founded in Greensboro to bring industry to North Carolina. One side project of the group was to bring the decommissioned battleship North Carolina to the state and anchor it in Wilmington.

Sure Glad They Did. --Cooter

Top 15 Most Evil Nazis

From the August 20th List Universe.

I wonder where Hitler will rank?

I am just listing them. You can find out the hows and whys and pictures at the List Universe site. www.listverse.com.

15. Hermann Goering
14. Ilse Koch (only female on the list)
13. Joseph Goebbels
12. Franz Stangl
11. Paul Blobel
10. Josef Kramer
9. Ernst Kaltenbrunner
8. Friedrich Jeckeln
7. Oskar Dirlewanger
6. Odilo Globoenik
5. Adolf Eichmann (I remember hearing about his trial while a young boy.)
4. Joseph Mengele
3. Reinhard Heydrich
2. Adolf Hitler
1. Heinrich Himmler

Worth Checking Out. --DaCoot

Japanese Balloon Attack on US Mainland-- Part 1

From the July 20, 2008 Cleveland Plain Dealer by Brian Albrecht.

On May 15, 1945, the Reverend Archie Mitchell, his wife and five kids went for an outing in the woods near Bly, Oregon. While out there, they found a large deflated balloon in a tree and while investigating it, set off a fragmentation bomb, killing all but the minister.

The Mitchells were the only civilian casualties of a Japanese attack on the US mainland during World War II.

Their gravestones read "Killed by enemy balloon bomb."

A NEW WAY TO ATTACK

Between November 1944 and April 1945, the Japanese launched some 9,000 balloon bombs into the high westerly winds going from Japan to the United States. An estimated 1,000 Fu Gu balloons completed the trip with 300 confirmed.

Landings and sightings were reported from Mexico all the way to Canada and as far east as Michigan. The US government persuaded the media to hold off on their reports on it to avoid a wide-spread panic and further hatred of Japanese-American citizens. Plus, they landed mostly in unpopulated areas.

More to Come. --Cooter

Monday, November 8, 2010

USS North Carolina

From the June 13th Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

On This Date, June 13, 1940.

A total of 84 ships were launched in the Brooklyn navy Yard. Number 72 was the USS North Carolina, launched this date in 1940 as World War II was heating up. The US wasn't in it yet, but it wouldn't be long.

There were ten months of post-launch construction and outfitting until the ship was commissioned April 9, 1941.

it was the first US battleship to be commissioned since 1923. During sea trials, it got so much attention it earned the nickname "Showboat."

Construction had begun October 27, 1937.

It was decommissioned after a stellar career in 1947, but remained in reserve until 1961 when it was transferred to its namesake state and made into a memorial.

One Great Battleship. --Cooter

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Meet a US Veteran

In just a few minutes, I'm heading over to the Fox Lake, Illinois, American Legion where they are having a meet-a-veteran assembly in the main hall.

I understand several will be from World War II and they will also have items from their service with them.

I'll be taking my cameras and tape recorders to get some of their stories which I will report in this blog.

The Greatest Generation. --DaCoot

World War II Trolley Tours-- Cape May, NJ-- Part 3

There is a bunker in front of the Fire Tower No. 23. During WW II, it mounted 155 mm guns and the whole place was 900 feet inland. Pilings were sunk into the sand for stabilization of the heavy structures.

FORT MILES is on Cape Henlopen, near Lewes, Delaware. Funds were approved for its construction in 1934, but it was not built until 1941. It was situated to defend Delaware Bay and the river. Completion occurred just before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Several Coast Artillery units were based there and it was further protected by railway artillery.

The fort never saw any action and only fired its cannons once.

U-858 appeared off the Delaware coast on May 14, 1945 and became the first enemy warship to surrender to the US since the War of 1812. It was held at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyards until it was sunk in 1947 during a torpedo test.

Stuff You Didn't Know. --Cooter


FIRE CONTROL TOWERS-- Five of them are located within the boundaries of Cape Henlopen State Park. Each is 4 to 5 stories high.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Dead Page: Mr. Baxter-- Cool Ruler

JAMES WALL, 92

Captain Kangaroo's neighbor Mr. Baxter. Died October 27th.

Former vaudevillian and joined the Captain Kangaroo show in 1962 as a stage manager.

In 1968, he persuaded the producers to create the Captain's neighbor, Mr. Baxter, the show's first black character. Mr. Wall portrayed Mr. Baxter and another recurring role until 1978.

He was also stage manager for CBS' "Sixty Minutes."


GREGORY ISAACS, 59

Called "Cool Ruler" because of his smooth, jazz-style of reggae music.

Died October 25th. Born in the Jamaican slum Kingston in 1951 and was a leader in the "Lover's Rock" reggae style. Two of his big songs are "Love is Overdue" and "All I Have is Love."

World War II Trolley Tours-- Cape May, NJ-- Part 2

Sadly, today, the ocean is eroding the ground under it so it is now known how much longer it will be with us.

FIRE TOWER #23 stands 100 feet tall. Armed Coast Guardsmen watched from the top while others galloped up and down the beach on horseback watching for landing parties from German U-boats.

It was built in 1942 and the tower served as lookout for enemy subs and acted as spotters for artillery onthe beach. It was part of a series of fifteen, all of which were under the jurisdiction of Fort Miles.

The tower at Wildwood was torn down and the one at Cape May City was absorbed into the Grand Hotel on Beach Avenue, but part of it can still be seen on the roofline.

Across from Tower #23 is an empty lot where the Northwest Magnesite Co. was once located. During World War II, this company operated 24-7 making the fire necessary for making steel.

More to Come. --Cooter

Thursday, November 4, 2010

World War II Trolley Tours-- Cape May, NJ-- Part 1

You can get a good glimpse of aspects of US Homefront defense during the war with this tour which makes stops at Fort Miles, Battery 223, Fire Control Tower #23, Cape May NAS and the Cape May Canal.

It will cost you $15.

During World War II, Cape May went from being a beach town and area to being a pivotal part of homeland defense.

As part of the World War II tour, you will go to the bunker at Cape May State Park. It was built during the war on the beach to protect Delaware Bay.

More to Come. --Cooter

Doolittle's Raiders

From the June 5, 2009 South Carolina The State.

Doolittle's Raiders returned to Columbia, South Carolina, for their 67th reunion. They also celebrated their 50th and 60th reunions in Columbia.

Columbia is important in Raider history because this is where they met Doolittle and began their training in 1942. As od 2009, there were eleven survivors of the raid, all in their late 80s and 90s. As many as seven plan to attend the ceremonies.

Richard Cole, 92, Doolittle's co-pilot on Plane No. 1 was one of sixteen five-man crews whom met Doolittle at Columbia Air Base, now Columbia Metropolitan Airport.

Three of the raiders were killed, eight were captured in Japanese-occupied China, three captives were executed and one died in prison. Sixty of the eighty continued to fight in the war.

The 60th Reunion was the first time the media was allowed to witness the Goblet ceremony where surviving Raiders toast those who lost their lives in the operation and those who had died since it. Special silver goblets are used.

There were three South Carolinians among the Raiders:

Darlington Farrow, pilot of No. 16, captured and executed.
Nolan Herndon- navigator of No. 8 who died in October 2008.
Horace "Sally" Crouch, navigator of No. 10 who died December 2005.

The Greatest Generation.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Candy By the Numbers

From the October 31st Parade Magazine.


#1 Kids favorite treat? No surprise here: it's CHOCOLATE. (I personally like McRibs.)

68% Adults who admit midnight raids on their kids' stashes.

7.2 billion. The number of Smarties (?) (15 per roll) in kids' trick-or-treat bags. What's a Smartie?

$2 billion. Amount spent on Halloween Candy this year. I spent $22 on 360 pieces, not counting what I have bought at the half-price sales starting Monday.

16 The number of Trick-or-Treaters we had. An all-time low. Even giving four pieces at a time, we still have LOTS o' candy to eat. Sorry kids.

9 billion The number of pieces of candy corn produced for 2010. Enough to circle the moon nearly four times is laid end-to-end.

19 million Pounds of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups made in October (about as heavy as the Eiffel Tower).

August 15th-- The first Halloween displays up that I saw.

It's a Sweet Tooth Thing. You Wouldn't Understand. --DaCoot

Who Did You Want to Be Halloween 2010?

From the October 31st Parade Magazine.

Kids have been trick-or-treating for a long time, but it was only the late 70s-early 80s that adults started getting into it. Nowadays, Halloween costume-judging is a real big thing in bars all across the US.

Top adult costumes by decade:

1970s

John Travolta in Saturday Night fever (well they already had the duds for that disco dancing anyway.
KISS
Darth Vader


1980s

Michael Jackson
MC Hammer (Heh, heh, those pants)
Edward Scissorhands
Ghostbusters


1990s and 2000s

Harry Potter
Jack Sparrow
Hannah Montana
Sarah Palin


THIS YEAR

Lady Gaga


I Personally Dress as an Old Coot. --Cooter

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dead Page: Rock and Roll Pioneer

Still going through my old files, but these are stories I'm interested in.

BO DIDDLY (Dec. 30, 1928-June 2, 2008)

Even though Bo Diddley, born Ellas Bates in McComb, Mississippi, was snubbed by Rolling Stone in its "100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All-Time," he broke new ground in rock and roll's formative years with his unique guitar, indelible African rhythms and inventive songwriting.

The sound "BOMP-and-BOMP-BOMP-pause-Bomp-Bomp" can be heard on Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away," Johnny Otis' "Willie and the Hand Jive," the Strangeloves' "I Want Candy, the Who's "Magic Bus" and many other songs.

The distinctive "Shave and a Haircut, two bits" man died at age 79. He was so well-known for his signature square home-made guitar, dark glasses and black hat.

He was a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1999 Grammys.

Hit songs by Bo Diddley:

Bo Diddley-- in 1955 with "I'm a Man" on the B side.
Say Man
You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover
Who Do You Love

Denied the money he should have made, he was forced to always work and was always broke. He continued to tour up until he had a stroke.

I was fortunate to see him one time at Summerfest in Milwaukee.

A Great One.

Doolittle Raiders Reunion 2008

From the June 2, 2008, Pensacola (Fl) News Journal.

Retired Major Tom Griffin wanted to get back at the Japanese after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He and 79 other men got that chance on April 18, 1942, with Doolittle's famous raid on Japan. This was a major blow for American morale and shocked Japan.

Griffin and six other raiders returned to Eglin Air Force Base where they trained for the mission.

Retired Master Sgt. Wes Fields was also an original Doolittle raider.

Five of the seven returnees took a tour of the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola. While there, they posed for a picture by a B-25 similar to the ones they flew off the deck of the USS Hornet that day.

While at Eglin AFB, they had practiced short take-offs to prepare for the mission.

Retired raider Col. Bill Bower, 90, of Boulder, Colorado, said, "We competed, and they pulled those who had the best performance."

Sixteen bombers with five-man crews, took off from the Hornet that day in B-25s loaded with 500 pound bombs.

Three B-25 bombers flew over the reunion at one point.

Old News, But We're Surely Losing the Greatest Generation, and Especially the Limited Number of Doolittle's Raiders. --Cooter

Monday, November 1, 2010

Some More Old News: PHSA Chapter Dwindling

From the Nevada Appeal.

The Carson City Chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association was chartered in 1972 by Howard J. Spreeman and had more than fifty members. Last month, on March 7, 2008, they had a meeting and only three of 18 still alive attended. Today, that number is down to 16.

Chapters in the association can remain active as long as they have 6 officers.

Roland Peach, 92, is one of the oldest members. he was a cook on the USS Rigel during the Pearl Harbor attack. He said they are losing chapters all over the US as members die and are either hospitalized or house bound.

Sad to See Us Coming To This Time.

Some Older News: New National Monument-- Europe's Oldest Man and WW I Veteran

I found some old items while looking through my archives and found them of interest, so will write about them now.

NEW NATIONAL MONUMENT-- President Bush has asked the secretaries of Defense and the Interior to look into making Pearl Harbor and other Pacific sites into a national monument: "These objects of historic and scientific interest may tell the broader story of the war, the sacrifices made by America and its allies, and the heroism and determination that laid the groundwork for victory in the Pacific and triumph in World War II."


EUROPE'S OLDEST MAN AND WORLD WAR I VETERAN-- From the Guardian.co.uk "RAF flypast for Europe's oldest man." A Hurricane and a Spitfire will do a flypast in honor of Henry Allingham who turned 112 this week.

he was born in 1896, the same year the first Modern Olympics were held and Queen Victoria became the longest reigning monarch in British history.

Henry Allingham is also one of Britain and the world's last remaining veterans of World War I. He was at the Battle of Jutland, the greatest naval clash of the war. In 1917, he was posted to France to service and rescue aircraft that had crashed behind trenches at Ypres and the Somme.

While there, Allingham fell into a shell hole full of legs, arms, ears, rotten flesh in no-man's land and has never forgotten the stench of death.

He was guest of honor at RAF College Cranwell near Sleaford, Lincolnshire.

For eighty years, he did not speak of his wartime service.

Allingham remains in good health and lives in St. Dunstan's home for blind veterans in Brighton.

In November, he will join two other surviving British World War veterans, Henry Patch, 109, and Bill Stone, 107 at the 90th anniversary of Armistice Day at the Cenotaph in London.

Unfortunately, all three of these men died this year.

As We Are Now Down to One US World War I veteran Still Living.

Exactly Where You Wouldn't Expect to Find World War II Bombs

October 29th Reuters "World War II bombs found on Galapagos island."

Twelve bombs were found by fishermen on Bartolome Island which is part of the Galapagos Islands, 600 miles off the South American coast.

These islands are a providence of Ecuador which let us set up a base during World War II on Baltra Island because of its strategic location southwest of the Panama Canal which had become very strategically important for shipping between the east and west US coasts.

The bombs had been buried and Ecuador is planning a more thorough search.

The Galapagos Islands became famous for Charles Darwin's research on natural selection.

Got to keep an Eye on Those Sneaky Tortoises. --Cooter