Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cutting Down the Nets

From the Yahoo Sports Blog "How did the tradition of cutting down nets begin?" by Chris Chase.

"The most unpredictable events in sports has one of the most predictable ending. Whatever happens Monday night, in the NCAA championship, the winning team will congregate around a basket and collectively cut down the net to celebrate its title."

(No kidding about the unpredictable part. Just take a look at my brackets. I wonder how they determine which net ro cut down, though.)

This net cutting is accomplished with a ladder and special pair of scissors.

The tradition dates to the Indiana high school tournament in the 1920s. (The term March Madness was used for the Illinois tournament before the NCAA took it.) The winner would cut the net down. Everett Case's Frankfort team won four state titles from 1925 to 1939.

In World War II, he enlisted in the Navy and became athletic director of various flight schools. After the war, he became the basketball coach at North Carolina State. The Wolfpack won the Southern Conference title whereupon Case and the team cut down the net.

It was much more informal back then with players hoisting each other up to the rim and cutting it with scissors scrounged from somewhere.

Case did this several times in the Southern Conference and then with the newly formed Atlantic Coast Conference. Case created the ACC Tournament.

In 1964, he was diagnosed with melanoma and lived just 18 months more. Before his death, the Wolfpack upset ACC Tournament #1 seed Duke in the final. After the game, the State players went over to the press row, hoisted Case onto their shoulders and walked over to the basket where he cut down the net.

23 years coaching high school: 726-75 record
18 years NC State coach: 377-134 record
Won the Southern Conference tournament each year 1947 to 1952
Won ACC Tournament '54, '55, '56 and '59.

From Wikipedia.

An Interesting Story. --Cooter

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Here's a Bit of Space History You Can Own

From the March 20th Detroit Free Press.

Alright, it was something from space from the other side, but still a real piece of history.

Soviet Space History on the Block.

In April, Sotheby's is putting the Soviet Union's VOSTOK 3KA2 up for auction and expecting to get $10 million for it. It orbited earth once back on March 25, 1961, hey, just over 30 years ago.

A life-sized cosmonaut mannequin and a live dog spent two hours in space, then landed in a field 700 miles from Moscow.

Three weeks later, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin went up in an identical space ship and became the first human to go into outer space.

By the way, in case you're wondering what happened to the dog, named Zvezdocha, it survived.

I would bid on it, but my extra funds are tied up filling my gas tank.

Besides, I Bet My Subdivison Organization Wouldn't Let Me Put It Out on My Lawn Anyway. --Cooter

Monday, March 28, 2011

There's No Place Like Kansas

From Jan.-Feb. American Spirit Magazine of DAR.

Just a few folks born in Kansas:

Aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart
Jazz legend Charlie Parker
Author Gwendolyn Brooks.

Others with strong Kansas ties:

General and President Dwight Eisenhower
Inventor George Washington Carver
Activist Carry A. Nation
Athlete Jim Thorpe
Author Langston Hughes
Author Laura Ingalls Wilder

Kansas is having a year-long celebration of its 150th anniversary.

Happy Anniversary You Sunflowers!! --DaCoot

What's in a DAR?

From the January-February American Spirit Magazine of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). Since I've been writing about chapter names, what about the organization.

"Do You Have a Revolutionary Patriot in Your Family Tree?"

Full Name of the organization: National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. I just thought it was DAR.


Any Woman over 18 years of age, regardless of race, religion ethnic background. Have to prove lineal descent from a Patriot the American Revolution. DAR members will provide assistance in the genealogy research.


Not only soldiers, but anyone who contributed to the cause of American freedom.


Has 160,000 members in nearly 3,000 chapters worldwide, including 12 foreign countries. Founded 1890 and since then has had more than 875,000 members.

DAR, Anyone? --Cooter

Saturday, March 26, 2011

What's in a Name: DAR Chapter Names-- Part 3


OK, Fort Pickens is more connected with the Civil War, but it was named after a Revolutionary War hero.

After the US got Florida from Spain in 1819, Pensacola was chosen as the site for a US Navy Yard and four forts were built to protect the bay and area. The largest, Fort Pickens was completed in 1839 and in use until 1947. I was able to visit Fort Pickens at the end of last month.

The fort's namesake, Andrew Pickens, led the Continental Army to victory at Kettle Creek in northern Georgia and also participated in action at Charleston and Cowpens.
For his service, the Continental Congress presented him with a ceremonial sword and South Carolina made him brigadier general of state militia.

I Knew the Fort, But Not the Man. --DaCoot

Revolutionary War Beacons

I came across one article from Nov. 25, 2008, about how on the 225th anniversary of British troops leaving the United States, the Hudson River Valley National heritage Area and several other organizations symbolically lighted five beacon light sites used by the Continental Army.

This system of lights were vital to the war effort, warning of the approach of British ships in both New York and New Jersey.

Only, this time the beacons were a xenon light display.

Let There Be Light. --Cooter

Friday, March 25, 2011

What's in a Name: DAR Chapter Names-- Part 2


Commemorates a celebrated site in the northwestern section of Cumberland, R.I., known as Beacon Hill, one of the highest points in the state, 531 feet above sea level.

During the Revolution, a 70-foot-tall beacon pole with a kettle of tar or other combustible materials suspended from it was at the hill's summit.

The kettle would be fired to warn towns and people of Boston and Newport of the British fleet's approach.

This was part of a series of signal beacons that played an important role during the war.

Never Heard of These Signal Beacons. --DaCoot

Seven Springs, North Carolina-- Part 1

Took a trip to this really small city (as it is classified) today. I mean, 85 people according to a 2006 census, is hardly what I'd call a city, but they seem happy.

We ate at one of the two restaurants, Mae's, and had a delicious breakfast. I've never seen so much bacon and country ham in a western omelet, along with a double serving of grits (hey, it's North Carolina), toast and coffee for $5. This was definitely a locals spot.

Judging from the people at Mae's were and the owner of a local store, this is one friendly place.

They call themselves the oldest town in Wayne County. A William Whitfield, II, was living there as the first settler in the area in 1742. He married four times and had 29 children, 21 of whom reached adulthood. His grave is in a park next to the river alongside his son, William Whitford, III.

During the Civil War, the Battle of White Hall (as it was then-called) took place there. I asked why it was named White Hall and I've also seen Whitehall, but no one at Mae's knew for sure. Perhaps because they white washed the buildings?

I will be writing about that battle on my Civil War Blog in a few days.

How Many Folks Live in Your City? --Cooter

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What's in a Name? DAR Chapters-- Part 1

My mother belongs to The Daughters of the American Revolution and as such gets the American Spirit Magazine. In the Jan.-Feb. issue, there was a segment called "What's in a Name" with some interesting stuff I felt obliged to include in this blog.


I have heard of Admiral David G. Glasgow Farragut through Civil War connections, but not George and definitely would wonder why a DAR chapter in Idaho would be named after a naval hero.

George Farragut was born in Spain and came to America as a merchant seaman. At the outbreak of the Revolution, he joined the South Carolina Navy and was captured during the siege of Charleston. After his release, he took part in the battles of Cowpens and Wilmington.

His son was David Farragut of Civil War fame.

During World War II, there was the Farragut Naval Training Station which was one of the largest in the US during the war and located on Lake Pend Orielle in the Idaho panhandle. Between 1942 and 1945, nearly 300,000 sailors trained here. A submarine acoustic testing center continues at the site.

Never Heard of It. --DaCoot

Goldsboro, NC's Herman Park-- Part 2

The Herman for whom the park was named, was Herman Weil, the first of a famous family of merchants in the city. He arrived in the US from Germany at age 16 in 1858, and after a short time in Baltimore, came to Goldsboro. Herman was one of the first to join up for the Confederacy in Goldsboro at the onset of the Civil War, joining Captain J.B. Whitaker's company of Goldsboro volunteers, despite his very limited knowledge of English.

After the war, he was joined by his brothers Henry and Solomonand started H. Weil & Brothers store. As merchants, they soon became quite rich.

In the 1930s through to 1941, there was even a zoo in the park, featuring bears, monkeys, birds and other animals. Mom remembers the zoo very well as she was a young girl back in that time frame.

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!! --Cooter

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Goldsboro, NC's Herman Park-- Part 1

Yesterday, my brother Bob, his wife Judy and I took their sheltie Gracie for a walk around Herman Park here in Goldsboro, located right across Jackson Street from their home and my mother's.

This is the biggest and prettiest parks in the city.

It was donated by the town's biggest merchants, Solomon and Henry Weil back in 1890 in honor of their brother Herman Weil, hence the name and features ten lighted tennis courts, three picnic shelters, a turn-of-the century park house, a large children's playground, a fountain/goldfish pool and a famous statue.

I can't forget to mention, a miniature train as well (even though the sign on Ash Street shows the direction to the "Minature Train").

In 1916, the Herman Weil family presented the city and park with a statue called "Goddess of Youth" which was placed in the middle of the fish pond. By 2001, it had deteriorated to the point that it needed to be replaced and $50,000 was raised by local businesses and people, including my mom, at it was replaced. The original is now in the Wayne County Historical Museum in the old World War II USO building.

Tomorrow, I will tell about my family and the park.

Quite a History. --Cooter

Monday, March 21, 2011

USS Olympia Available...For Free!!

From the March 20th Detroit Free Press.

The famous Spanish-American warship, the USS Olympia is available to any takers, for free.

The catch is that it needs $2 to $5 million in immediate repairs to keep it from sinking and long-term, will need between $15 to $20 million for a permanent dry dock and storage.

Right now, it is owned by the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia where the ship is tied up across the river from the USS New Jersey.

From its bridge on May 1, 1898, Commodore George Dewey (I always thought he was an admiral then) gave the famous words at the Battle of Manila Bay in the Philippines, "You may fire when ready, Gridley." Dewey was also a yound Naval officer at the Battles of Fort Fisher back in the Civil War.

If no owner is found, the ship will be scuttled as an artificial reef or scrapped.

It would be a shame to lose the only warship remaining from the Spanish-American War and example of her class. Let's hope someone with funding gets it.

Save the Olympia!! --Cooter

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Original 29 Code Talker Dies-- Part 2

Now, there is only one of the original 29 alive, Chester Nez of Albuquerque, NM.

The whole group was classified top secret and it wasn't until way after the war that their existence was declassified. In his military records, the words "code talker" was only listed once. Otherwise he was referred to as "communication personnel" or on "communication duty."

Mr. Oliver was attending school at Shiprock, NM, when he signed up with the USMC in 1942 and was discharged as a corporal three years later. His father had just died and he would send $15 to $20 a month back to his mother to help out. She worked at the US Army's Navajo Ordnance Depot in Bellemont.

His brother, Willard Oliver also served as a Code Talker.

The funeral will be held today, March 19th at the Gila River Indian Community Reservation south of Phoenix.

A Huge Help in World War II.

Bits O' History: Doolittle's Raiders-- HMAS Sydney

Some current history.

1. DOOLITTLE'S RAIDERS-- Three of the five remaining members of Doolittle's Raid will be on hand for the March 26-27 Punta Gorda (Florida) Air Show. They are Richard Cole (Doolittle's copilot), Thomas C. griffin and David J. Thatcher.

2. HMAS SYDNEY-- The shipwrecks of the HMAS Sydney and German raider Kormoran were added to Australia's National Heritage List. Both ships were sunk in a violent sea battle on November 19, 1941. All 645 Australians aboard the Sydney died as did 60 Germans.

The wrecks of these two ships were discovered in 2008 off the coast of Western Australia.

It Won't Be Long Before There are No Doolittle's Raiders Left. --Cooter

Original 29 Code Talker Dies-- Part 1



These men developed a code of communication based on their native Navajo language that the Japanese were never able to crack during the war, aiding greatly in US efforts. Hundreds served, but there was originally only these 29 who developed it.

Their service was classified top secret and wasn't revealed until the 60s.

Lloyd Oliver, 87 (or 88 as his wife claims) was hearing impaired from the explosions after the war and rarely spoke to anyone. But, he was proud of his service, keeping a picture of himself as a Marine in his home and had a Marine cap and US flag on his bedroom wall at his home in the Yavapai Apache Reservation.

Mr. Oliver died March 16th.

The Greatest Generation.

From Associated Press.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Dead Page: "Teen Angel"-- "Gone"


"Teen Angel" Songwriter

Died February 22nd. Her brother, Mark Dinning" sand her song where a couple's car stalls on the railroad tracks. They get out, but she runs back to get his high school ring and the train hits the car, killing her. It was released October 1959 and became an instant bog hit.

Jean Dining was born March 29, 1924, part of nine children. She was a member of the Sweet Adelines female barbershop quartet and later joined her sisters Lou and Ginger to form the Dinning Sisters who had a 1948 Top Ten hit with "Buttons and Bows."

Her brother Mark, who sang it, died in 1986 of a heart attack at age 52. It was his only big hit.

Personally, I never liked the song, but sure have heard it enough and it is my buddy Bob's favorite-ever song.


Sang "Wings of a Dove" and "Gone".

Died March 17th. Became a member of the Country Hall of Fame in 2010 and was one of the first country singers to get his name on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Born 1925 near Flat River, Missouri. In 1953, he had a number one song singing duo with Jean Shepard on "Dear John Letter." They remained friends ever since. "Gone" and "Wings of a Dove" both were #1. From 1953 to 1975, Mr. Husky had 38 top 40s and three #1s.

America's Last World War I Veteran Laid to Rest

From the March 15th Herald Mail.

Frank Buckles died Feb. 27th at age 110 and was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on March 15th.

High ranking military officers, Members of Congress, 118 members of the motorcycle group Patriot Guard Riders and 200 others were at the service.

A horse-drawn caisson brought his flag-draped coffin to the burial spot, a short distance from that of his hero and World War I leader, General John "Blackjack" Pershing.

Earlier in the day, Corporal Buckles' coffin lay in honor at Arlington's Memorial Amphitheater as hundreds paid their respects.

President Obama and Vice President Biden came to the chapel after it was closed to the public and spoke briefly with Buckles' daughter, Susannah Buckles Flanagan.

Funeral services were conducted by the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry regiment known as "The Old Guard."

Quite a Man, That Mr. Buckles.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dead Page: Producer-- General


Produced TV shows Andy Griffith, Gomer Pyle, USMC and Sanford and Son. Died Jan. 30, 2010. He began his career after World War II and was a writer for Milton Berle and Fred Allen. Wrote and produced Andy Griffith show for five years. Was executive producer of Gomer Pyle show.

I sure liked all three of these shows.


Former Army Chief of Staff died in Hawaii February 11, 2010.

Served nearly four decades in the Army, three wars and earned a Silver Star.

Born 1916, graduated the University of California in 1939 and received a ROTC commission. During World War II, Gen. Weyand served in India, Burma and China. In the Korean War commanded the 1st battalion of the 7th Infantry regiment. Commanded II Field in Vietnam 1967 and 1969. he was the last US commander in Vietnam and oversaw American withdrawal.

Baeball Goes to War

PETE ELKO-- played 3b, 1943-1944 (brought up to majors in September 1943), military service 1945. Served in the Navy and stationed at Terminal Island Dry Dock in Wilmington, California. Played baseball while in service.

PEANUTS LOWREY-- Outfield. Majors 1842-1943, military service 1944, majors 1945-1955. April 15, 1944 entered the Army at Fort Custer, Michigan, home of the Military Police Officers Candidate School. Player-manager with the military police baseball team. Received a medical discharge after six months because of weak knees.

Played for the Cubs to 1949 and became known as a great pinch hitter later in career. Coached 1960-1972.

Play Ball, Not War. --DaCoot

This Being St. Patrick's Day

From Yahoo Today.

This being St. Patrick's Day and all, here's some stuff about the dear old guy that you might not know.

1. WAS HE IRISH?-- No, he was born in Britain, captured by Irish raiders, taken to Ireland, escaped after six years and returned to Britain. He became a priest and returned to Ireland to minister to the Christians there.

2. DID HE RID IRELAND OF SNAKES?-- No. Even though there are no snakes there today, there most likely never were any snakes on the island. The snake thing was probably symbolic of the pagan ways he sought to drive out.

3. DID HE USE A CLOVER WHILE PREACHING?-- Some legends say he did. He used the 3-leaf shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. Other sources claim he didn't.

4. WHAT ABOUT THE LUCKY FOUR-LEAF CLOVER?-- Actually, you can generally find one four-leaf clover in every 10,000 three-leaf ones.

So That's the Irish-Down. --Cooter

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

US Loses Last Link with World War I-- Part 5

After all those problems to get in, Frank Buckles served in England and France, working mainly as a driver and a warehouse clerk. In his off-hours, he studied German, visited cathedrals, museums, tombs and bicycled the French countryside.

After Armistice Day, he helped return German prisoners to home and returned to the US in January 1920.

Back home, he lived in Oklahoma, then moved to Canada where he worked several different jobs before going to New York City where he worked in banking and advertising before getting into the shipping industry. Buckles went around the world while working for the White Star Line Steamship Co. and W.R. Grace & Co..

In 1941, while on business in the Philippines, he was captured by the Japanese and spent more than three years in prison camps.

"I was never actually looking for adventure," he once said. "It just came to me."

Now, that was one interesting life.

We'll Miss Him. --Cooter

US Loses Last Link with World War I-- Part 4

Continuing with the excellent article on Frank Buckles in the March 1, 2011, Mississippi Sun Herald.

In the spring of 2007, Frank Buckles told the Associated Press of the trouble he went through to get into the military.

He first tried to get in the Marines at the state fair in Wichita, Kansas, where he was told he was too young at 18 and needed to be 21.

He returned a week later and told the sergeant he was 21. He passed the inspection but was told he wasn't heavy enough.

At the Navy, he couldn't get in because he was flat-footed.

Undaunted, Buckles tried again in Oklahoma City, this time with the Army. The captain there demanded he produce his birth certificate. "I told him birth certificates were not made in Missouri when I was born, that the record was in the family Bible. I said, 'You don't want me to bring the family Bible down, do you?" Buckles said with a laugh. "He said, 'OK, we'll take you.'"

Another Great Generation Passing. --Cooter

Baseball in World War II

Back in 2010, I came across an excellent site for you baseball fans and World War II folk. Just like the whole country, World War II had a huge impact on the home front. Many baseball players went off to war and some didn't come back.

Gary Bedingfield has a site about the war and baseball at Well worth a look and check out his blog also.

During the war, 139 professional baseball players died, all but two from the minor leagues.

the site features all sixteen MLB teams and their players. On January 31, 2010, he did the Chicago Cubs (their last visit to the World Series was 1945).

Check It Out. --Cooter

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

More Pearl Harbor Stories

From the Dec. 6, 2009, News Telegram (NH).

WILLIAM LEFABVRE, 89, was on the USS West Virginia getting ready for church service when the attack came. When the ship was hit by a torpedo, Lefabvre was knocked overboard into the oily water. There are only about twenty Pearl Harbor survivors alive in New Hampshire.

There is a sign reading "Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge" on the bridge over the Merrimack River between Bedford and Manchester which was completed in 2002.

WILLIAM HALLAHAN, 88, of Plastow, was at Schofield Barracks in the base hospital recovering from a concussion from football. While standing on the hospital's porch, he saw the planes and thought they were on a bombing practice mission. To him, the bombs looked like they were dropping sacks of flour.

"Of course, those sacks of flour started exploding and they blew the hangar and a lot of planes that were on the ground. One plane attacked the hospital and a bullet hit a patient's leg cast. It knocked him flat but luckily the bullet came out of the cast and didn't actually hit the leg," said Hallahan.

The Day of Infamy. --Cooter

Local Residents Tell Their Pearl Harbor Tales

HERMAN F. JOHNSON was a high school freshman doing homework and listening to the radio when he heard the news of the attack. He also listened to FDR's "Day of Infamy" speech the next day.

JIM FRISBIE, 96, of Cadillac, and his wife, were having dinner at his parents' house and that put a definite chill on the meal when they heard of the attack. His brother was stationed at Pearl Harbor. They later learned his brother Doug was in Honolulu, but raced back to the base.

MARGE MATTISON, 20 at the time, was selling movie tickets at the Center Theater and found out about the attack when her manager returned from dinner and told her about it. She went home and talked to her parents and listened to the radio.

Day of Infamy. --DaCoot

Pearl Harbor Survivors Tell Their Stories

Joe Whitt of Richmond, Kentucky: "I had just turned 18 years old and had been in the Navy only 11 months when I found myself on the USS San Francisco" (at Pearl Harbor).

From the Cadillac (Mi) News.

There were 60,000 at Pearl harbor that day and an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 still alive as of 2010.

John Wilberding of Shepherd is the youngest member of his Pearl Harbor Survivors Association group. Every year there are fewer and fewer members. In 2009, there were six members in Grand Rapids and he doesn't know how many there are in 2010.

His squadron lost eleven men Dec. 7, 1941. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps at age 18 and was stationed at Wheeler Airfield. He got up early to attend mass at the base chapel when he heard the planes at which time he ran for cover, jumped into a man hole and pulled the cover over his head.

More Pearl Harbor to Come. --Cooter

Monday, March 14, 2011

Battle of the Little Bighorn Still Resonates All these Years Later

From the Jan. 9, 2011 Standard-Examiner "Battle of Little Bighorn resonates after 134 years" by Janet K. Keeler of the St. Ptersburg Times.

This past December 17, 2010, a frayed American flag found on a dead soldier at the Little Bighorn Battlefield brought $1.9 million at Sotheby's New York auction house.

It is a swallowtail Culbertson guidon, named after the soldier who found it and owned by the Detroit Institute of Arts for more than a hundred years.

Even after all this time, the battle, also known as Custer's Last Stand. ens of books have been written about it, along with movies, songs and paintings.

Nearly all 270 men of the 7th Cavalry died at the hands of Indians. Col. Custer, his brother Tom and many of the 7th died at what is today named Last Stand Hill.

Hardin, Montana, has a Bighorn festival every June where there is a re-enactment of the battle four times in three days. The actual battle site, the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, is several miles away.

The discovery of gold in the Black Hills of what today is South Dakota skewered an uneasy peace between the Indians and whites.

One of the Big US Losses. --DaCoot

Frank Buckles' Service Tomorrow

I'm not sure if it is going to be televised, but I sure would like to watch the service held at Arlington National Cemetery tomorrow.

Mr. Buckles died February 27th at age 110 and was America's last survivor from World War I out of 4,300,000 men.

Granted, he did not have much of a war record, but he was there and as such representative of that great generation.

Top Ten Adventurers Who Never returned Home

From the Jan. 28, 2011 List Verse, List Universe.

Go to the site and you will see pictures and read the entire story.

10. Ferdinand Magellan-- 1521-- killed by natives
9. Lope de Aguirre-- 1561, killed in a rebellion
8. Capt. James Cook-- 1779-- killed by natives

7. David Douglas-- 1834-- Killed in animal trap
6. Dr. David Livingston-- 1873-- died of disease
5. Robert Falcon Scott-- 1912-- hypothermia

4. Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton-- 1922-- died of illness
3. Roald Amundsen-- 1928-- Lost over Sea
2. Amelia Earhart-- 1937-- Lost over Sea
1. Donald Crowhurst-- 1969-- Lost at Sea

The Good the Bad and the Lost. --Cooter

Friday, March 11, 2011

Those Who Lay in State in the Capitol's Rotunda

From Wikipedia Capitol Rotunda.






Officers JACOB CHESNUTT and JOHN GIBSON who were killed in a shooting incident
ROSA PARKS Civil Rights icon

Still Thought It Would Be a Fitting Way to Pay respect for All Those World War I veterans Had Frank Buckles Been Allowed to Do So,

No Public Viewing at the Rotunda for Mr. Buckles

At this point it appears that there will be no public viewing of Frank Buckles at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, DC, who recently died and was the last-living US World War I veteran. Just thirty people in history have had this honor, usually presidents, generals and senators.

The first to lay in state was Henry Clay.

Too bad, I sure would have liked that to happen. Mr. Buckles represented the 4 million-plus Americans who went off to World War I.

Too Bad, But At Least a Public Ceremony Will Be Held at Arlington Cemetery.

Camp Roberts, California

From the California State Military Museum site.

March 9th, I wrote about a World War II letter finally arriving at Cap Roberts in California, some 67 years late.

I'd never heard of the camp and from the article thought it was a Red Cross camp or hospital. I did some more research and found it was actually one very large military training base during World War II and then continued in service until 1970.

It is located on US-101 twelve miles north of Paso Robles, about half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

There is a museum dedicated to it and located in the former Red Cross Headquarters at the camp. The museum's annex is located in the World War II post office (what did you guys do?) The museum contains around 3,000 items.

It was used as a training base during World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, Gulf War and Iraqi Freedom.

Camp Roberts was named after Corporal Harold Roberts who survived the San Francisco Earthquake and died while a tank driver in World War I.

Construction began on it in 1940 as the US prepared for war. In March 1941 it became a replacement training center and was constructed to hold 23,000 troops at any one time. Some 436,000 World War II soldiers and Field Artillery personnel passed through it.

The base also had a 750 bed hospital (where the letter's recipient worked) and it also served as an internment camp for Italian and German prisoners.

Sure Never Heard of It Before. --DaCoot

Pre-Civil War Fort Caswell, North Carolina Used Again

Today, in my Civil War blog, I wrote about Fort Caswell, which during the Civil War guarded the old entrance to the Cape Fear River in North Carolina leading to Wilmington.

Much of the fort was destroyed by Confederates when they abandoned it and I thought it had never been a military installation after that, but came across mention in a Feb. 28, 1911, Wilmington paper that soldiers were on their way to the fort.

You can read it at

New Use for an Old Fort. --Cooter

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Telephone 135 Years Ago

March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell said these words to his assistant, "Mr. Watson. Come here. I want to see you." This was a major step in human communication. One that continues developing even today considering all the folks I see walking around with phones growing out of their ears as well as thumbs-a-flying on their phones doing tat texting thing.

In honor of it, today, Bob Stroud on his Ten at ten show on Chicago's WDRV radio station played ten songs dealing with telephones.

Can you name ten songs about telephones off the top of your head?

A few hints: Tommy Tutone
Steely Dan
Chuck Berry
Jim Croce

You can find the ten songs at, today's date.

Congrats to Alexander. Too Bad Elisha. --DaCoot

Hull repairs to begin on USS North Carolina-- Part 1

From the March 8th Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Hull repairs on Battleship North Carolina to start next month" by Amy Hotz.

It's been 64 years since the USS North Carolina "got a good dose of dry dock in New Jersey." And that's a long time for something sitting in the water (or in the North Carolina's case, also the mud).

Battleship Commission Executive Director Terry Bragg says the ship will remain open while a 130 foot by 10 foot section on the starboard bow will be replaced.

Taylor Bros. Marine of New Bern, North Carolina, beat out other contractors from Alabama, Maine, Mississippi, New York, South Carolina and Virginia, to get the job.

Back in 2001, it was already evident that work would have to be done on the ship which had been moored across the Cape Fear River from Wilmington since 1961, and the commission decided to have the vessel removed from the mud and towed to either Charleston or Norfolk and put in dry dock.

In 2010, it was determined that the work could be done at home behind a cofferdam around all or a portion of the ship. Water inside would be pumped out and work could be done. This was done to the USS Alabama in Mobile recently and was a big success.

Saving Those Old Ships, One at a Time. --Cooter

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

World War II Letter Finally Arrives

From KSB4TV, MSNBC, San Luis Obispo, California.

Last week, a long-lost letter from World War II showed up at Camp Roberts in California, 67 years late. It had been postmarked at 6:30 pm on August 9, 1944, from Montgomery, Alabama. Where it was in the meantime is anybody's guess.

It is addressed to Miss R.T. Fletcher at the American Red Cross Hospital at Camp Roberts. The camp closed in 1970 and was torn down 20-30 years ago. Mail for the base was routed through the San Miguel, Ca., post office where the letter turned up last month.

The recipient, Miss Fletcher, has been found, however. She is 90 and lives on the east coast and the letter is from her brother (the return address was torn off the letter. The woman's daughter found out about the story and contacted Gary McMaster at the Camp Roberts Historical Museum. She supplied copies of her uncle's (who has since died) handwriting which matches the address on the letter (which hasn't yet been opened).

McMaster sent the woman the unopened letter.

An Interesting Story. --DaCoot

US Loses Last Link with World War I-- Part 3

From the March 1st, Gulf Coast Sun Herald.

Mr. Buckles had already been eligible to have his ashes housed at Arlington National Cemetery, but burial normally requires meeting several criteria, including one of five medals like the Purple Heart.

Mr. Buckles never saw action so never got a medal. But, as he said, "Didn't I make every effort?"

There is also a move to have his body lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda which honor is usually reserved for elected and military officials. The last to do so was Gerald Ford. But others have like Rosa Parks and unknown soldiers from both World Wars and the Korean War.

Mr. Buckles' family has asked that any donations be made to the National World War One Legacy Project which educates students about the war through a documentary and traveling educational exhibition.

The End of an Era. --Cooter

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Is There Going to Be a USS Aurora?

From the March 7th Aurora (IL) Beacon-News.

Bob Moga wants there to be a USS Aurora in the water. Last month, at his and his group's urging, the Aurora City Council passed a resolution requesting that a ship with the city's name be commissioned. After all, Aurora is now Illinois' second biggest city. (I would have guessed Peoria or Rockford.)

They want one of the ten ships the US Navy will be commissioning in the next five years to bear the name.

Reasons are that many Aurora men enlisted in the Navy during World War II.

Phillips Park in the city has a WW II monument with the names of over 200 Aurorans who died in the war.

They have had an active Navy league since the end of WW II.

East Aurora High has the largest Naval Jr. ROTC program in the nation.

The Secretary of the Navy makes the final decision as to ship names and that is culled from hundreds of names put forward. An effort for naming requires a lot of money, which Aurora does not have so there is just a slim chance it will come to pass.

But, they're still trying.

Two ships have had the name USS Aurora, both serving during World War I. The USS Aurora (SP-345) was a harbor tug and minesweeper from 1917-1919. The USS Aurora II (SP-460) was a steam yacht converted into a naval patrol vessel during the same years.

Pulling for Aurora. --DaCoot

US Loses Last Link with World War I-- Part 2

The other two last US survivors of World War I were still in basic training when the war ended and never went to Europe. When they died in 2007 and 2008, Frank Buckles became the last-standing Doughboy. As a celebrity, he was soft-spoken even though he got fan mail almost every day. For his last birthday, his 110th, he received enough cards to fill several bushel baskets.

Each night, relatives would read the letters to Mr. Buckles and that kept him going.

He had been battling colds and minor ailments all winter, but was not ill at the time of his death. The day before he died, the 26th, was warm and he spent three hours sitting outside in the sunshine.

His family kept him living at home despite mounting medical expenses that exhausted his life savings. Home health nurses and other medical costs rang up to $120,000 a year.

He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery because back in 2008, friends persuaded the federal government to make an exception to their rules for who can be interred there.

President Obama has ordered flags flown at half mast on the day he is buried, March 15th.

More to Come. --Cooter

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Fascinating Mr. Buckles

From the March 6th Intelligencer, Wheeling News-Reporter by Mike Myers.

Everyone who ever interviewed Frank Buckles, America's last Doughboy, always said he was one of the most fascinating people they ever met.

He would tell tales of his life like seeing the new invention at a show in Missouri, the airplane and meeting World War I General "Black Jack" Pershing.

When he went to Europe during World War I, it was on the Carpathia, which in 1912 has rescued the Titanic survivors. he talked with the crew about their experiences back then.

In the 1918 Influenza Epidemic, Mr. Buckles went to sleep one night at an Army infirmary next to a healthy soldier who just hadn't felt good that day. The next morning, the man was dead.

During the 1920s and 1930s, he met many captains of industry and in World War II, was held as a civilian prisoner for three years by the Japanese.

An Interesting Life. We Will Miss Him. --Dacoot

Buckles' Daughter Pushing for Rotunda Honor

From the March 5th AOL News.

Frank Buckles' daughter wants him to lie in state at the Capitol Rotunda in honor of all the US veterans of World War I. Mr. Buckles was the last-living Doughboy from that long-ago war who died last week at the age of 110.

The leaders of the House of Representatives and Senate have denied the request, but plan on having an elaborate ceremony when he is buried March 15th at Arlington National Cemetery.

President Obama has already decreed that flags at the White House and federal buildings fly at half mast that day.

Another Great Generation Passing. --Cooter

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Today's the 75th Anniversary of the Spitfire

From the March 5rh BBC News.

Today marks the first flight of a fighter plane that became very famous during World War II for the RAF. I'm talking about the war bird called the Spitfire. Yesterday, thousands braved cool weather to view a Spitfire fly over where the first flight was made in 1936.

The plane, piloted by Carolyn Grace, flew over Southampton in southern England for twenty minutes. This was not the original 1936 plane, but had flown in the war. This one was built in 1944 and is credited for shooting down the first German plane on D-Day.

The Spitfire was designed by the famous R.J. Mitchell at the Supermarine's Factory in Southampton and took off from Eastleigh Airfield, now Southampton International Airport. Mitchell, unfortunately, never got to see how famous his plane would become as he died at age 42 in 1937 of cancer.

Mrs. grace lives in Sydney, Australia, and owns the plane which was originally a part of the 485 Squadron. She began flying the plane after her husband Nick, who restored it, died in 1988.

Money is being raised to build a national monument to the Spitfire in Southampton.

The Little Plane That Definitely Could. --Cooter

USS Torsk SS-423

This submarine had the nickname "Galloping Ghost of the Japanese Coast" and commissioned late in 1944. The ship had rwo patrols off Japan near the end of the war and sank one Japanese cargo ship and two coast defense frigates. The last of these two was sunk August 14, 1945, and is the last enemy ship sunk by the US Navy in World War II.

The Torsk was built at the Portsmouth Navy Yard in Kittery, Maine.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1961, the Torsk participated in the blockade of that country.

In 1972,the ship was turned over to the state of Maryland to be used as a museum ship.

The Silent Service. --DaCoot

USS Torsk and USS Constellation Go away

From Jan. 30th DelmarvaNow.

Two attractions have been removed from Baltimore's Inner Harbor in February.

The submarine USS Torsk and the 1854 USS Constellation were both towed away for repairs at the Sparrows Point Shipyard.

It is the first time that both ships have been out of the water since the late 1990s. repairs to the two ships are expected to cost $500,000.

It Costs to keep 'Em Shipshape. --Cooter

Friday, March 4, 2011

Did a German U-boat Sailor See a Movie on US Soil?

There is a persistent urban legend that says that during World War II, a German sailor came ashore on the coast of North Carolina and saw a movie at Southport's Amuzu Theare.

The submarine was sunk and the body found floating in the water. A recent ticket to a movie at the theatre was found in his pocket.

Another version of the story has the ticket as being from the old Bailey Theater in downtown Wilmington, about ten miles upriver.

Did he, Or Didn't He? --DaCoot

Russians Help British World War II Cruiser

From the October 19, 2010, Moscow Times.

A team of Russian shipwrights have helped Great Britain repair the legendary Royal Navy light cruiser HMS Belfast. New fore and main masts have been installed at a cost of 300,000 pounds, with Britain not paying a cent.

The ship is being repaired as a Russian thank you for its service during World War II when it protected Arctic convoys that supplied the Soviet Union in its fight against Germany.

Today, it is the only European ship from the war still afloat. It was built in 1938 and in the early 1970s, became a floating museum moored in the Thames River in London

The hull and masts have become badly corroded.

Always Great to Save Something That Old. --Cooter

Japan to Push Recovery of Iwo Jima Dead

From the Feb. 14th Canadian Press.

The prime minister of Japan has vowed to find the remains of 12,000 Japanese soldiers still missing from the Battle of Iwo Jima. Virtually every single Japanese soldier of the 21,570 on the island died along with 6,821 Americans. There are still 12,000 Japanese missing and 218 Americans, all MIA and presumed dead.

Fighting for the island began Feb. 19, 1945 and did not end until March 26th.

Today, the island, 700 miles south of Tokyo, is uninhabited except for a few hundred Japanese troops.

The prime minister says he was inspired by Clint Eastwood's 2006 movie "Letters from Iwo Jima."

A Worthy Cause. --DaCoot

Where to Put the Boat?

From the March 1st Wilmington (NC) Star News.

The paper runs a column every so often called Back Then where they go through old papers from 100 and 50 years ago.

Back on February 17, 1961, the arrival of the battleship USS North Carolina was being anticipated, but a permanent site for the memorial had not been chosen.

There were several sites under consideration:

Two were by Wilmington (one is where the ship is today), the other a bit farther south.

An abandoned rice plantation on Eagles Island, about 3000 feet from the main channel of the Cape Fear River.

A marsh area on the Cape Fear River about eight miles downriver from Wilmington.

Another one 9 miles south.

The Snow's Cut area.

Fort Macon State Park near Morehead City

Price's Creek and Cottage Creek near Southport.

Glad They Chose Where They Did. --Cooter

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

69th Doolittle Reunion

From the March 2nd Omaha (Ne) World Herald.

Five surviving members of the 60 man group called Doolittle's Raiders are scheduled to be in Lincoln, Nebraska April 14-17th for the 69th anniversary of the April 18, 1942 attack that shocked Japan and helped US morale.

A flyover by two restored B-25 bombers is planned and events will take place in Lincoln and at the Strategic Air and Space Museum in Ashland, Neberaska.

Co-pilots Dick Cole and Robert Hite, navigator Tom Griffin, and engineers Ed Saylor and Dave Thatcher have signed up to attend.

I'd sure like to be there, but gas prices are likely going to keep me from doing so.

Darn GRB Big Oil. --Cooter

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

US Loses Last Link to WW I-- Part 2

Mr. Buckles were born in Missouri 1901 and raised in Oklahoma. At age 16 and with the United States entry into World War I, he began visiting a string of recruitment offices to join the "War to End All Wars." He was repeatedly rejected until he convinced an Army Captain that he was 18.

More than 4.7 million people joined the military between 1917 and 1918. By 2007, only three survived. Buckles went to DC that year to serve as grand marshal of the National Memorial Day parade.

The other two survivors were in basic training in the United States when the war ended and never made it overseas. (My grandfather on my mother's side was also in the Army, but never left the country.) The other two survivors died in 2007 and 2008.

After that, Mr. Buckles became somewhat of a celebrity and received many letters every day.

This winter, Buckles began battling colds and a series of minor ailments, but was not ill at the time of his death.

More to Come on the Last Doughboy. --DaCoot

US Loses Last Link to WW I-- Part 1

From the March 1st Sun Herald (Biloxi, Ms). AP by Vicki Smith.

I have been following the story of Frank Buckles for several years now, and last congratulated him on his 110th birthday which he celebrated last month.

"He didn't seek the spotlight" but outlived all 4.7 million of his doughboy comrades to become the last-living veteran of that long-ago war. He biographer calls him "the humble patriot.

Frank Buckles, who died Feb. 27th, enlisted in the Army at age 16 after lying about his age, died Sunday at his farm in Charles Town, West Virginia. He had devoted the last years of his life to bringing greater recognition to our World War veterans and especially, Mr. Buckles wanted a national memorial in Washington, DC.

When asked in 2008, how it felt to be the last survivor, he said, "I realized that somebody had to be, and it was me."

Only two-known veterans of World War I remain according to the Order of the First World War, whose members are descendants of WW I veterans. Florence Green of Britain was a member of the RAF and Claude Choules of Australia was a member of the Royal Navy. Green turned 110 in February also and Choules reaches that age this month.

More to Come. --Cooter