Blog Archives

Smoky and the Army Airborne

SMOKY

At the beginning of of 1944, Smoky, a Yorkshire terrier, was found by an American soldier with a stalled jeep in the New Guinea jungle where she had been abandoned in a foxhole.  She did not respond to either English or Japanese commands.  After taken to the soldier’s camp, in need of cash for a poker night, she was sold to Cpl. William A. Wynne for 2 Australian pounds.  Smoky weighed 4lbs. and stood 7 inches.

Bill Wynne & Smoky

For the next 2 years, Smoky accompanied Wynne on combat fights in the Pacific where temperature and living conditions were deplorable.  Smoky shared his C-rations, and fearful of her contracting scrub typhus, was bathed in his helmet daily.

Wynne had a knack for training dogs and taught Smoky tricks like climbing ladders, going down slides, and walking tightropes while blindfolded.  She entertained the troops in her spare time.  “Yank Down Under” magazine named her “Champion Mascot of the Southwest Pacific” in 1944.

Wynne’s job was to photograph ‘search and rescue’ missions and Smokey slept through 12 combat missions hanging from the ceiling of a Catalina PBY5a.  Smoky flew on 22- hour bombing missions so low, they threw grenades down on the Japanese.  In all, Smoky survived 150 raids on New Guinea.

She managed to save Wynne and 8 men of the 5th Air Force 26th Photo Recon Squadron from incoming shells on their transport ship.  The convoy of 2,300 headed to Luzon when a kamikaze attack destroyed part of the fleet.  Smoky led Wynne to a Jeep just as the attack began.  The attack went on around them, with 150 men killed, but they were unhurt.

Bob Gapp and Bill Wynne prepare Smoky for the culvert

When the squadron set up in Lingayen, about 80 miles NW of Manila, they asked Wynne if Smoky could pull a telephone line through a 70-foot long culvert under the airfield.   After tying the cable to her collar, Wynne coaxed Smoky through the far end.  She navigated through muddy, moldy pipes and climbed mounds of sifted sand every 4 feet.  She did it in a few minutes.  The feat earned her a steak and official “war dog” status.

When Wynne came down with dengue fever, Smoky was so popular, she was allowed to visit him in the hospital.  She eventually accompanied the doctors and nurses on their rounds.  She is the first recorded “therapy dog” in history.

Smoky parachuted from 30′ many times

Smoky wasn’t just dedicated and brave, she learned numerous tricks, that she performed for the troops of the Special Services in hospitals from Korea to Australia.

When orders came through to ship home, regulations did not allow the animals, but Wynne would not abandon Smoky.  He hid her in his oxygen mask’s carrying case and smuggled her aboard the USS William H. Gordon.  Sailors stashed larger dogs in a safe compartment.  Despite threats from the commander, all the animals did receive permission to enter the United States.

Once at home, Smoky continued to entertain.  She did 45 shows around the country without doing any repeated tricks.  Cleveland recognized her as a celebrity and ran her 1957 obituary in the newspaper.

HERE – things go beyond coincidence…..

Smoky, the war hero monument

Former Army nurse Grace Guderian Heidenreich read the obit and contacted Wynne.  In December 1943, as a LT. stationed in Australia, she received a Yorkshire puppy from her fiance.  When the Lt.’s hospital unit was transferred to New Guinea, the Yorkie went with her.  Unfortunately, at a USO show, the puppy wandered off.

Given that very few purebred Yorkshire terriers were registered during those years, she believed it was the same dog.  After the war Grace married Capt. Heidenreich and they settled in Cleveland, just blocks away from where Smoky and Wynne resided.

SMOKY

Smoky was more than a dog; she was a dedicated soldier, the first therapy dog, a morale booster for injured soldiers, entertainer and what is most important – she was a hell of a friend!

Condensed from a story published in the “Voice of the Angels”, newspaper for the 11th Airborne Division.

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Current News – BORN ON THE 4TH OF JULY!!

Help make a D-Day Veteran’s birthday the best yet!!

A Friend Asks For Cards To Make Veteran’s Birthday Special

 

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Military Humor – 

Testing – Even in boot camp!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Richard Barkley – Naples, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Matthew Bunker – Delavan, WI; US Army, West Point graduate

Charlie Ferrell – Dallas, TX; US Army, WWII, ETO, 3rd Army

Paul Gaines – Newport, RI; US Army, 2nd Armored Division / Mayor

Cindy Hughes – CT; Civilian, WWII, VA Psychiatric worker

Morris Lupton – Northland, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 431186, WWII, pilot

Raymond Molling – WI; US Navy, WWII, corpsman

Carl Reiner – Bronx, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Cpl., French Interpreter, USO, PTO

Margaret Shinners (100) – Newport, RI; US Navy WAVE, WWII, photographer

William Weidensaul – Eudora, KS; US Navy, WWII, airborne electronics / Boeing

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WWII Canine Heroes

Search and Rescue dogs

U.S. Army launches Canine Units

On March 13, 1942, the Quartermaster Corps (QMC) of the United States Army begins training dogs for the newly established War Dog Program, or “K-9 Corps.”

Well over a million dogs served on both sides during WWI, carrying messages along the complex network of trenches and providing some measure of psychological comfort to the soldiers. The most famous dog to emerge from the war was Rin Tin Tin, an abandoned puppy of German war dogs found in France in 1918.

When the country entered WWII in December 1941, the American Kennel Association and a group called Dogs for Defense began a movement to mobilize dog owners to donate healthy and capable animals to the Quartermaster Corps of the U.S. Army. Training began in March 1942, and that fall the QMC was given the task of training dogs for the U.S. Navy, Marines and Coast Guard as well.

The K-9 Corps initially accepted over 30 breeds of dogs, but the list was soon narrowed to seven: German Shepherds, Belgian sheep dogs, Doberman Pinschers, collies, Siberian Huskies, Malumutes and Eskimo dogs. Members of the K-9 Corps were trained for a total of 8 to 12 weeks. After basic obedience training, they were sent through one of four specialized programs to prepare them for work as sentry dogs, scout or patrol dogs, messenger dogs or mine-detection dogs.

The top canine hero of World War II was Chips, a German Shepherd who served with the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division. Trained as a sentry dog, Chips broke away from his handlers and attacked an enemy machine gun nest in Italy, forcing the entire crew to surrender. The wounded Chips was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star and the Purple Heart.

U.S. Marine Corps’ War Dogs!

As early as 1935, the Marines were interested in war dogs. They had experienced the enemy’s’ sentry dogs used in Haiti and in the other “Banana Wars” in Central America where dogs staked around guerrilla camps in the jungle sounded the alarm at the approach of the Marines.

The very first Marine War Dog Training School was located at Quantico Bay, Cuba, on January 18, 1943, under the direction of Captain Samuel T. Brick. Fourteen Doberman Pinschers were donated by the Baltimore, Maryland and Canton, Ohio members of the Doberman Pinscher Club of America. An old warehouse served as both headquarters and kennels.

The school’s location was short lived, however. A week later, the War Dog Training Center had been established at Camp Knox, site of a former CCC camp at Camp Lejeune, NC.   They were soon joined by a Boxer named Fritz, the very first dog sworn and signed into the Marine Corp.

Camp leJeune, 1943, Higgins boat training

Dogs For Defense wasn’t the only organization recruiting dogs for the armed services, in 1942 the Doberman Pinscher Club of America was formally approached to procure Dobes for the newly formed Marine Corps War Dog Training Facility at Camp LeJeune, New River, North Carolina.

The Marine dogs were named “Devildogs,” a name, that the Marines earned during WWI, fighting against the Germans. There were also Labs, German Shepherds and other breeds, that were obtained from the Army’s Quartermaster Corps. Actually towards the end of the war, German Shepherds replaced the Dobermans, as the preferred breed. Arriving in Camp LeJeune NC, the new canine recruits were first entered in a forty-page dog service record book. The Marine Corps was the only branch of the service to have such a record for their dogs.

Dobes began their training as Privates. They were promoted on the basis of their length of service. After three months the Dobe became a Private First Class, one year a Corporal, two years a Sergeant, three years a Platoon Sergeant, four years a Gunner Sergeant, and after five years a Master Gunner Sergeant. The Dobes could eventually outrank their handlers.

During World War II, a total of seven Marine War Dog Platoons were trained at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. All of the dog platoons served in the Pacific in the war against the Japanese.

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The First War Dog Platoon, was commanded by Lt. Clyde A. Henderson, and served with the 2nd Raider Battalion on Bougainville. From this and other units, the First Marine Brigade was formed and invaded Guam along with the Third Marine Division and the 77th Army Division.

More units were added to form the 6th Marine Division which invaded Okinawa. The First War Dog Platoon saw action on Bougainville, Guam, and Okinawa. The 2nd, commanded by Lt. William T. Taylor and 3rd War Dog Platoons, commanded by 1st Lt. William W. Putney, saw action on Guam (Lt. Putney was also the vet for both the 2nd and 3rd platoon), Morotai, Guadalcanal, Aitape, Kwajalein, and Eniwetok.

Because of the Dobes’ keen sense of smell and hearing, they could detect the presence of men several hundred yards away. In one instance, the dogs detected the presence of Jap troops one half mile away.

The Dobes’ handlers always had help digging their foxholes, the other Marines always wanted the handler and their dogs nearby.

No unit protected by one of the dogs was ever ambushed by the Japanese or was there ever a case of Japanese infiltration.

Putney War Dog Monument

More than 1,000 dogs had trained as Marine Devil Dogs during World War II. Rolo, one of the first to join the Devil Dogs, was the first Marine dog to be killed in action. 29 war dogs were listed as killed in action, 25 of those deaths occurred on the island of Guam. Today, the U.S. Marine Corp maintains a War Memorial (created by former 1st Lt. William W. Putney, who was the veterinarian for the dogs on Guam; and funded by public donation), on Guam, for those 25 War Dogs that served and died there during WW II.

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Current Military Dog News – 

 Navy working dog donates blood to save Air Force colleague !

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2020/06/25/navy-working-dog-donates-blood-save-air-force-canine-colleague.html

 

For a more modern story, author DC Gilbert recommends: 

No Ordinary Dog: My Partner from the SEAL Teams to the Bin Laden Raid

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

John H. Autry IV – Hamlet, NC; US Army, Vietnam, Sgt., 82nd Airborne Division & 75th Rangers, Bronze Star & Purple Heart

Nick Bravo-Regules – Largo, FL; US Army, Jordon, Spc., 2/43/11th ADA Brigade

Okinawa

John Bethea – Sturgis, MS; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division + 173rd A/B Brigade, West Point graduate, Colonel (Ret. 21 y.)

James Cowan – Fort Myers, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI

Arnold Gittelson – CA; USMC, WWII, 1st Sgt.

John Holmes – Selma, AL; US Army, WWII

Francis Kennedy – Pittston, PA; US Army, Korea, artillery spotter, Silver Star, 2 Purple Hearts

Frank Strahorn – Clinto, MD; USMC, Iraq & Afghanistan

Earl Urish – IL; US Army Air Corps, Japanese Occupation, 11th Airborne Division

Phillip “Joe” Woodward – Wabash, IN; US Army, Korea, 37 FAB/2nd Division, 3 Bronze Stars

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Short view of WWII Pacific Army Medicine

Buna casualty arrives at the 171st Station Hospital, at Port Moresby, Papua, Dec 42. This 500-bed Hospital arrived at Port Moresby early December and operated together with the 153d Sta Hosp, the 10th Evac Hosp, and a provisional Battalion of the 135th Med Regt. Because of malaria, those patients who, after treatment, were expected to remain unfit for duty more than 14 days, were usually sent to mainland Australia (Townsville or Brisbane).

Every combat Theater of WW2 had its unique medical history, but nowhere did disease pose a greater threat to the American G.I. and to military operations than in the bitter war against Japan!
US Armed Forces faced the dual challenges of fighting and supporting its troops in primitive, largely tropical environments, burdened by severe logistical problems.

View of one of the early Hospitals, located at the Advance Base, Port Moresby, Papua, Aug 42. As military operations in the region increased, basic medical facilities expanded, and by end of 42, new installations including General Hospitals, Field Hospitals, Portable Surgical Hospitals, and a Medical Supply Depot were built.

The first medical build-up was essentially based on expanding medical facilities and depots, constructing new hospitals, and revising medical contingency plans. The next project called for a more elaborate defense of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, under a new command; the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) under Lt. General Douglas MacArthur.
The war against Japan was fought in an immense area that covered roughly 1/3 of the earth’s surface! Although most of the decisive battles took place on the islands in the Pacific, inevitably bringing American Forces closer the Japanese mainland; fighting also occurred on mainland Asia.

Port Dispensary Tent on Biak Island, New Guinea, Aug 44. The large US Base (Base “H”) opened on Biak in Aug 44 under Col. August W. Splitter, MC. The 28th Hosp Cen operating on the island included 3 Gen Hosp and 1 Sta Hosp. From end Nov 44, evacuation took place by air, and C-54 aircraft carried patients directly to the ZI, via Guadalcanal, Canton Is., and Honolulu.

Distances were enormous, and everything could only be moved by sea or air – climates varied as well as landforms and included cold wind-swept Aleutians, jungle-clad Melanesian islands, palm-fringed Micronesia atolls, damp and tropical heat, volcanic islands, complex landmasses, steep mountain ranges, wooded high plateaus, rain forests, dense jungles – environmental  conditions brought its own characteristic medical consequences involving frostbite, trenchfoot, malaria, fever, and jungle rot … All those elements had to be taken into account by the Medical Department, although none of the diseases were normally fatal, they could nevertheless put soldiers out of action as effectively as combat casualties.

36th Evacuation Hospital, at Palo, Leyte, Philippines, October 44. The 36th Evac Hosp (supporting X Army Corps) was set up in the San Salvador Cathedral. It served, together with the 58th Evac Hosp, in the Leyte and Luzon Campaigns.

Until the very last months of the fighting, the US Medical Department faced immense obstacles – supply lines were tenuous and environmental conditions almost intolerable, malaria epidemics broke out, logistical difficulties beset medical planners, diseases took their toll, medical support often broke down, amphibious medical evacuation had to be revised, and yet altogether death rates from disease were only slightly over 1 / 1000 troops / per year!
New methods of preventive medicine were created, logistics were improved, and recent discoveries were now provided on a large scale, such as Penicillin – Atabrine – and DDT. The ultimate lesson may however lie in the flexibility of spirit and organization shown by medical personnel, who were able to save lives and improve general health conditions during those years of bitter and unrelenting struggle for peace – in those harsh times the Medical Department successfully maintained the ‘fighting strength of the Army’.

View of Seagrave Hospital (formally activated as the 896th Med Clr Co in Oct 44) treating casualties in the open, near Myitkyina, Burma. The Hospital in fact operated like a mobile Evacuation Hospital, and whenever feasible, severe medical cases were either evacuated by rail or by air. During the campaign to capture Myitkyina, the Seagrave Hospital, supported by personnel of the 42d and 58th Ptbl Surg Hosp and a surgical team from the 25th Fld Hosp, treated American, British, Chinese, Indian, and Kachin wounded (and later also Japanese PWs). Dr. Gordon S. Seagrave was an American medical missionary running a Hospital close to the Burma Road and the Chinese border, his wide experience and organization were very much appreciated by both British and US authorities, and he was therefore sworn into the US Army as a Major in the Medical Corps on 21 Apr 42.

General Hospitals

1st GEN HOSP – 23 Dec 41 Philippines (also designated General Hospital No. 1)
2d GEN HOSP – 5 Jan 42 Philippines (also designated General Hospital No. 2)
4th GEN HOSP – 23 Jan 42 Australia (ex-56th GEN HOSP, activated 1 Feb 41, supplied cadres for other units, 12 Oct 43)
8th GEN HOSP – 27 Nov 42 New Caledonia
9th GEN HOSP – 31 Jul 43 Guadalcanal – 45 Papua-New Guinea (activated 15 Jul 42)
13th GEN HOSP – 5 Jan 44 New Guinea (activated 15 Jan 43)
18th GEN HOSP – 12 Jun 42 N. Zealand – 3 Oct 42 Fiji Islands – Sep 44 Ledo Road (India) – 12 Mar 45 Myitkyina, (Burma) (activated 20 Apr 42) (closed 5 Oct 45) (return to ZI 24 Nov 45)
18th GEN HOSP – 26 May 42 New Zealand – 45 Burma (ex-222d GEN HOSP, activated 16 Jun 41, supplied cadres for other units, 1 Apr 44, redesignated 134th GEN HOSP)
20th GEN HOSP – 19 Jan 43 India – Dec 43 Burma (activated 15 May 42)
27th GEN HOSP – 5 Jan 44 Australia (activated 15 Jul 42)
29th GEN HOSP – 3 Nov 44 New Caledonia (activated 1 Sep 42)
31st GEN HOSP – 18 Oct 43 Espiritu Santo (activated 1 Jun 43)
35th GEN HOSP – 44 New Guinea – 45 Luzon (activated 21 Mar 43) (inactivated 10 Dec 45 in the Philippines)
39th GEN HOSP – 3 Nov 42 New Zealand – 1 Jan 45 New Caledonia – Jan 45 Saipan (activated 15 Jul 42)
42d GEN HOSP – 19 May 42 Australia (ex-215th GEN HOSP, activated 16 May 41, supplied cadres for other units, 15 Apr 43, disbanded 11 Nov 44)
44th GEN HOSP – 25 Sep 43 Australia (activated 15 Jan 43)
47th GEN HOSP – 11 Jan 44 New Guinea – Burma (activated 10 Jun 43)
49th GEN HOSP – 1 Mar 45 Philippines
51st GEN HOSP – 1 Apr 44 New Guinea
53d GEN HOSP – ETO Sep-Oct 45 embarked for the South Pacific (activated 10 Feb 41, also supplied cadres for other units)
54th GEN HOSP – 30 Jun 44 New Guinea
60th GEN HOSP – 18 Jul 44 New Guinea – 2 Apr 45 Philippines (activated 25 May 43 in the ZI, return to ZI 13 Nov 45)
63d GEN HOSP – (activated 10 Feb 41, supplied cadres for other units, 15 Jan 43)
69th GEN HOSP – 45 Burma
71st GEN HOSP – 5 Jan 44 Australia (activated 10 Jun 43, supplied cadres for other units, 24 Jun 43)
105th GEN HOSP – 19 May 42 Australia (ex-203d GEN HOSP, activated 10 Feb 41, supplied cadres for other units, 29 Dec 43)
118th GEN HOSP – 19 May 42 Australia – 44 Philippines (activated 21 Apr 42)
133d GEN HOSP – 25 Nov 44 Leyte
142d GEN HOSP – 26 May 42 New Zealand – 43 Fiji – Nov 44 India (ex-217th GEN HOSP, activated 1 Jun 41, supplied cadres for other units, 28 Feb 44) (new 142d GEN HOSP activated 20 Apr 42)
147th GEN HOSP – 16 Jun 42 Hawaii – 19 Nov 43 Gilberts – 1 Aug 44 Hawaii (activated 1 May 41)
148th GEN HOSP – 21 Mar 42 Hawaii – 31 May 44 Saipan Is (activated 10 Feb 41)
172d GEN HOSP – 44 India – Burma – 45 China (activated 29 Jul 44) (inactivated 30 Apr 46 in China)
181st GEN HOSP – 43 India
204th GEN HOSP – 8 Apr 42 Hawaii – 28 Dec 44 Guam (activated 10 Feb 41)
204th GEN HOSP – 8 Apr 42 Hawaii (activated 10 Feb 41)
218th GEN HOSP – 8 Jan 42 Panama – 1 Aug 44 Hawaii (activated 6 Jun 41)
232d GEN HOSP – 27 Feb 45 Iwo Jima – Mar 45 Saipan
234th GEN HOSP
247th GEN HOSP – 45 Philippines (activated 15 Oct 44, ex-233d STA HOSP)
263d GEN HOSP – 43 India
307th GEN HOSP

Sternberg GEN HOSP – Philippines
Tripler GEN HOSP – Hawaii
GEN HOSP No. 1 – Limay, Philippines
GEN HOSP No. 2 – Cabcaben, Philippines
Malinta Tunnel GEN HOSP – Corregidor, Philippines

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Current News –   25 June 1950-2020  –  Korean War 70 years ago today

News: Governor David Ige proclaimed June 25, 2020 as “Korean War Remembrance Day”

Remains of 147 South Korean Soldiers From the Korean War Return Home

https://www.defense.gov/Explore/News/Article/Article/2228429/remains-of-147-south-korean-soldiers-from-the-korean-war-will-return-home/source/GovDelivery/

 

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Military Medical Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Leo Agnew – Clinton, MA; US Army, Korea, RHQ/187th Reconnaissance Combat Team

Stephen Bertolino – UT; US Army, Iraq, SSgt., KIA (Haditha)

Ian Holm-Goodmayes – ENG; British Army / actor

Korean & Vietnam Wars Memorial, Monroe, MI

Jim Jarvis – Uniontown, OH; US Navy, WWII, USS Indianapolis survivor

Carman Kyle – Swathmore, PA; WWII, US Army Air Corps, Co. E/152th Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Dame Vera Lynn – Essex, ENG; Civilian, WWII, ENSA troop entertainer, Egypt & CBI

James L. Quong – OK; US Army, Korea, MSgt., Co. D/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Charles Ridgley – Baltimore, MD; US Army, Afghanistan, Captain, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, KIA (Nangarhar)

Francis J. Rochon – WI; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co. C/1/23/2nd Infantry Division, KIA (Changnyeong, SK)

Woldgang K. Weninger – Concord, OH; USMC, Raider, Sgt.

 

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On VJ Day 74: Letters between the generations

RFHG

On the 74th anniversary of VJ Day, Ashley Prime writes for RFHG about his father, Lance Corporal Ashley Prime – a former prisoner of war in Singapore and Thailand – whose moving post-war letters have been published open access for all to read.

Ashley Prime Lance Corporal Ashley Prime. Courtesy of Ashley Prime

I had of course always known that my father had been a Japanese Prisoner of War. I grew up with that always in our minds in our home, but it was never really seen as a negative. It was just there, and from my childhood, I recall kindly former colleagues of his visiting our home. They were always kind and I never felt any anger in the way they were. At least to me as a small child. 

Later in life, I was living in West Germany in my early twenties, and whilst back in London on holiday, I…

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C/O Postmaster – Book Review

Thomas “Ozzie” St. George, a student in the School of Journalism, University of Minnesota, and an athlete, would find himself soon in the U.S. Army as his country entered WWII.  BUT – This is not a war, combat blood ‘n’ guts diary.

St. George sent excerpts of his training, his not-so-glamorous voyage across the Pacific and the year he spent in Australia discovering a new culture, to the ‘San Francisco Chronicle’.

Cpl. St. George numbered his pieces, knowing full-well the difficult route they would travel to get back to the U.S.  These pieces would arrive at the newspaper, with his sketches completely out of order, but the Chronicle printed them and the readers loved them.  One does not even need to “read between the lines” to visualize what this G.I. was trying to say as he learned about fish & chips, unusual pub hours, Australian slang and living a military life.

Dancing with Americans

“Ozzie” and his fellow G.I.s needed to learn the odd hours of the local pubs.  The Australian women were friendly, but not “easy”, as they used to say back then.  Families often invited the soldiers to dinner.  This was an entirely different world than the Americans were accustom – and learn quickly they would have to do!

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As seen with the Army cooks on page 55:

“…we went to breakfast.  Most of us, I’m afraid, were looking forward to large helpings of ham and eggs, our usual reward for a night’s activity.  Instead we had coffee made with chicory (a course kind of gravel) and our first lesson in the anatomy of the sheep, as found in mutton stew.  Thick was this stew, like cold glue, full of unidentifiable vegetables and with all the delicious appeal of a soggy snowbank.”

American G.I.’s w/ koalas

 Should be lucky enough to locate a copy of this book, I know there are chapters you will nod your head in agreement with St. George and you’ll laugh at others.  The sketches will amuse you – no matter what the content.

 

In the words of Corporal Thomas St. George ….

“With most of us, this army career is by far the greatest experience we will ever have.  I only hope that in reading about a few of these experiences you get half the kick out of it that we got when they were happening to us…”

Thomas ‘Ozzie’ St. George

From his obituary:

Thomas Richard “Ozzie” St. George left this earth on Tuesday, July 29, 2014, at the age of 94.  Originally with the 32nd Infantry, he soon joined the staff of Yank Magazine and covered the war from Australia, New Guinea and the Philippines. While serving in the army, he met his future wife, Staff Sgt. Amelia “Mimi” Vitali of Philadelphia. They married while in the Philippines.

He spent the next 50 years at newspapers in San Diego, Philadelphia, Rochester and St. Paul. He was a reporter, sports editor, cartoonist, copy editor and columnist (“Slice of Wry” – St. Paul Pioneer Press). Ozzie retired from the Pioneer Press in 1994. Two books were written by Ozzie while he was in the Army: “C/O Postmaster,” a Book of the Month Club selection, and “Proceed Without Delay.” Following his retirement, he also self-published the Eddie Devlin Compendium: “Old Tim’s Estate,” “Wildcat Strike,” “The Bloody Wet,” “Bringing Chesty Home,” “Replevy for a Flute,” “Clyde Strikes Back,” “Flacks,” “Deadlines” and “The Survivors.”

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Military Political Cartoons – 

“HAVEN’T WE MET BEFORE?”

“GET YOUR DIRTY PAWS OFFA THERE!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Kenneth “Kage” Allen – UT; US Air Force, 1st Lt., Air Academy graduate, F-15C pilot, 493rd Fighter Squadron/48th Fighter Wing

Wilton Brown – Avant, MS; US Navy, USS Princeton, / US Air Force, Korea, MSgt. (Ret.)

Wallace Harrelson (100) – Galloway, FL; US Army, WWII, ETO

Eva Lyons – Scottsdale, AZ; Civilian, WWII, P-38 assembler

Angus McRonald – Petercutter, SCOT, RAF, WWII

Russell Mericle Jr. – Lima, OH; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division, Colonel, West Point graduate

William “Bill” Okamoto (100) – Torrance, CA; US Army, WWII

William Ostrosky – Uniondale, NY; US Navy, WWII

Joseph Pauro – Audubon, NJ; US Navy, WWII, ETO/PTO, Purple Heart

Thomas D. Siefke (100) – Indianapolis, IN; USMC, WWII, Sgt., Bronze Star, Purple Heart

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Trinity Beach, Australia

Trinity Beach, 1st Amphibious, Dec. 1, 1944

Trinity Beach was once a World War II training ground, where troops practiced all aspects of amphibious warfare before heading into war zones north of Australia.

Between May 1943 and December 144, thousands of Australian troops were rotated through this area for training in all aspects of beach warfare.  trainees were from the Australian 9th Australian Division which had recently returned from Tobruk and Alamein.  They were followed by members of the 6th and 7th  divisions that had been involved in campaigns in Egypt, Libya, Cyprus, Greece and New Guinea.

Training was a joint Australian-American army-navy exercise.  British ships and Navy personnel were occasionally involved.  Trinity Beach was the HQ for a number of units and the troops camped along Captain Cook Highway, particularly at Deadman’s Gully near Clifton Beach.

Training was intensive and involved both day and nighttime activities.  Troops undertaking this training included infantry, gunners, engineers, mechanics, signalers, ordnance, intelligence and field ambulance personnel.

Trinity Beach training

Trinity Beach had been a place for families during the holidays, this changed when the 532nd Engineer Special Brigade arrived in April 1943.  Troops were rotated between inland jungle training on the Atherton Tableland to amphibious training on the beaches.   This was done prior to embarkation to the front lines in Papua New Guinea.

Assault training was only one aspect of the training activities at Trinity.  Logistics, including load training, was undertaken.  The 1st Australian Corps Combined Operations Amphibious program co-ordinated  by the 6th Australian Div. had 5 key tasks:

1- Delivery of essential supplies from key ports to forward areas, which were close to combat and only accessible by sea

2-Carriage of troops, especially in amphibious assaults.

3- Evacuations of wounded.

4- Local carriage of equipment, stores and salvage.

5-Building of minor port facilities, such as jetties and landing stages.

Trinity Beach, 11 Sept. 1944

During the Pacific War, Cairns became one of Australia’s largest military embarkation ports and the region was dotted with a variety of facilities and camps.

HMAS Kuranda and the RAAF Catalina base were located in north Cairns wharf area and a Catalina slip facility on Admirlty Island in Trinity Inlet.  An American transhipment port was located at the mouth of Smiths Creek.  Aerodomes were established at Mareeba and cairns.  A very large hospital was established at Rocky Creek on the Atherton Tableland, with a second located on the west side of Cairns at Jungara.  A medical research and development unit was based there.  Radar and communications facilities were established throughout this area.

Trinity Beach today

For one and a half frantic years, thousands of troops moved in and out of the Trinity Beach area.  After the training headquarters were shut down, Trinity Beach slipped back into being a place for beach-going weekenders.

Excerpts from: Cairns arts and culture.com.au

This article was suggested by Gallivanta!!  Thank you for the idea, Ann!!

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert S. Chessum – Matamata, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 4311266, WWII

Joshua Fuller – Orlando, FL; US Navy, Commander, pilot

Murray Hilford – Whangaparaoa, NZ; RNZ Navy # 9474, WWII, ETO, Able Seaman

Enrique Roman-Martinez – Chino, CA; US Army, Spc., HQ Co./37/2/82nd Airborne Division

James Moir – New Town, NZ; RNZ Army # 205256, WWII

Vincent Segars – Valdosta, GA; US Navy, Captain, pilot (30 y.), Bronze Star

Peter B. Sheppard – AUS; Royal Australian Military Hospital, Cpl., # 0708811, Vietnam

Jimmy Sinclair (107) – ENG; British Royal Artillery, WWII, “Desert Rats”

Raymond Tompkins – Salem, OR; US Navy, WWII, Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class

Robert J. Wells – Eagle, CO; US Navy, WWII, gunner, USS Cornvallis, Bucknell & Whiteriver

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Edward “Butch” O’Hare

Lt. Edward “Butch” O’Hare, Feb. 1942

On Feb. 20, 1942, the flattop Lexington was steaming toward the Japanese base at Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, when it was approached by two enemy flying boats. Their crews managed to signal its coordinates before American fighters flamed the planes, and the Japanese immediately launched an attack against Lexington.

That chance encounter had dire implications for the U.S., which couldn’t afford the loss of a single ship and certainly not a carrier.

American radar picked up two waves of Japanese aircraft. Mitsubishi G4M1 “Betty” bombers—good planes with experienced pilots.

Six American fighters led by legendary pilot Jimmy Thach intercepted one formation, breaking it up and downing most of the Bettys.

The second wave, however, approached from another direction almost unopposed.

Almost.

Two American fighters were close enough to intercept the second flight of eight bombers. The Navy pilots flew Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats, which like most American planes were practically obsolete at the time, certainly inferior to the best Japanese aircraft.

At this point in the war, the Navy had to rely on the men who flew them.

As the Japanese bombers dove from 15,000 feet, the guns jammed on one of the Wildcats, leaving Lexington’s fate in the hands of one young American aviator. Lt. Butch O’Hare —who’d been aboard Saratoga when she was torpedoed—had only enough .50- caliber ammunition for about 34 seconds of sustained firing.

Lt. Edward Butch O’Hare, 1942

And the Bettys were mounted with rear-facing 20mm cannons, a daunting defense.  O’Hare’s aircraft may have been inferior, but his gunnery was excellent.  Diving on the Japanese formation at an angle called for “deflection” shooting, but Thach had taught his men how to lead a target.

O’Hare flamed one Betty on his first pass, then came back in from the other side, picked out another and bored in.

Still too far away to help, Thach observed three flaming Japanese planes in the air at one time.

Betty bomber. Lt. Cmdr. Takuzo Ito first met 20 Feb. 1942

By the end of the action, O’Hare had downed five of the attacking Japanese planes and damaged a sixth, approaching close enough to Lexington that some of its gunners had fired on him.

After landing on the carrier, he approached one sailor and said, “Son, if you don’t stop shooting at me when I’ve got my wheels down, I’m going to report you to the gunnery officer.”

Thach estimated that O’Hare had used a mere 60 rounds for each plane he destroyed. It’s hard to say which was more extraordinary—his courage or his aim. Regardless, he had saved his ship.

On April 21, 1942, at a White House ceremony, Rita O’Hare draped the Medal of Honor around her husband’s neck as President Franklin Roosevelt looked on.  Roosevelt promoted the pilot to lieutenant commander.

Butch & Rita O’Hare as he is awarded the MOH

Later in the war, Butch O’Hare was killed off Tarawa while flying a pioneering night intercept against attacking Japanese torpedo planes —an exceedingly dangerous mission, employing tactics that were in their infancy.

He had volunteered. Aviators throughout the fleet reacted with disbelief at the news that Butch O’Hare was dead.

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There is a surprising footnote to the story.

“O’Hare” resonates with Americans today for the airport in Chicago that bears his name.

Easy Eddie (r) with Al Capone (l)

Ironically, O’Hare’s father had been an associate of Al Capone. On Nov. 8, 1939, “Easy Eddie” O’Hare was gunned down a week before Capone was released from prison, supposedly for helping the government make its case against his former boss.

His son, Butch, was in flight training at the time, learning the skills he would put to use little more than two years later in the South Pacific.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor –  (For  Aviators)

“A HAIRY SITUATION!”

“AND ON A WINDY DAY, OH MY!!”

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Warren Bowland – El Paso, TX; US Army, Vietnam, 82nd Airborne, Bronze Star, Purple Heart / NASA, Col. (Ret. 30 y.)

Katherine Carson (100) – Boston, MA; WWII, US Coast Guard SPARS

Salvadore Dezio – Bayville, NJ; US Army, WWII, SSgt.

Bill Ham – Topeka, KS; US Army, WWII, ETO

Lois Jemtegaard – Washougal, WA; Civilian, WWII, Kaiser Shipyards welder

Mike Magoulas – Charleston, SC; US Navy, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, navigator, Citadel alum / US Air Force Major (Ret.)

Alfred Newman Jr. – Cranston, RI; US Army, WWII, ETO / US National Guard, MSgt. (Ret.)

William Palmer Sr. – Monticello, NY; US Army, 503/ 11th Airborne Division

Herbert Stempel – Queens, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, 311/78th Infantry Division/counterintelligence

Elmer Umbenhauer – Stony Creek Mills, PA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 8th Armored Division, Bronze Star

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Madagascar: The British vs Japan & the Vichy French

Newspaper illustration of Madagascar campaign

When most people think of World War II and the wide array of geographical spots the war reached, they don’t generally think of Madagascar. However, this island off of the coast of Africa saw military action too.

The Battle of Madagascar took place there in 1942, and was led by the British, as they tried to capture the area from the French.  The battle heavily revolved around Antsiranana Bay. This important port lies around the northern tip of Madagascar and opens to the east with a pass.

During World War II, as Japan moved west through Asia, they sent out their submarines through the Indian Ocean. This caused British ships to move toward the eastern shore of Africa, out of Southeast Asia. However, being in Africa made the British worry that they would be subject to Japanese attacks based out of Madagascar.

At the time, the Japanese had submarines with a huge range, longer than any other Axis power. They boasted a range of up to 10,000 miles, which could affect Allies all over the Pacific, and into the South Atlantic and the Middle East.

In 1941, the Germans attempted to persuade the Japanese to increase their force in the area, using these submarines to combat Indian Ocean sea routes. They also wanted the Japanese to focus on the Seychelles and Madagascar, rather than Australia. So, the Japanese told the Germans they would send several submarines and two cruisers that way, but wouldn’t release much information regarding their plans for Madagascar.

Meanwhile, the Allies had heard word of these goings on, and the British were worried that perhaps the French government may just give Madagascar to Japan or allow the Japanese to establish navy bases on the island, which would have been very bad news for the British in eastern Africa, as well as any British forces moving through the area to get to Asia. So, the British thought it may be useful to go ahead and occupy Madagascar, just in case.

The leader of the Free French movement, the famous General Charles de Gaulle, sent a letter to Winston Churchill. He wanted to launch a joint Free French-British movement against Madagascar. Churchill did understand that if Japan controlled Madagascar, British shipping would be interrupted and it would give Japan great influence in the Indian Ocean.

Churchill, reading the letter, didn’t really think that the British had the right resources for such an endeavor. He also wasn’t terribly keen to plan a joint operation with Free French forces.

However, after the course of about three months, Churchill was convinced the operation was important. Despite this, the Free French forces weren’t going to be allowed to participate. He wanted it to commence in April; he wanted to move ships from the Mediterranean southward and he wanted 4,000 men to participate.

The British begin their landing.

The forces left Scotland in March and met up with other ships in Sierra Leone, then moved to South Africa, where they were joined by an array of three infantry brigades, a battleship, two carriers, two cruisers, 11 destroyers, six minesweepers and more.

It was hoped the large grouping would be able to succeed with their plan without too much (or any) fighting. This would be the first water assault planned by the British since Dardanelles.

It was planned to take Diego Suarez, the island’s most strategic port. Some thought that alone would not be enough, as other ports on Madagascar may become occupied by the Japanese as well, but Diego Suarez was kept as the only goal, as that’s what the British thought their manpower could handle.

British continue to disembark on Madagascar

The first amphibious landing would take place in May 1942, with troops landing just west of Diego Suarez (also called Antsiranana).  Meanwhile, another attack took place to the east, as a diversion. Air cover attacked the French ships. The French troops that were in French-controlled Madagascar at the time were made up of about 8,000 men, with up to 3,000 there in Diego Suarez.

Apart from this, the French naval and air forces there were pretty light. After some fighting, the French surrendered the port and went to the south.  At one point, the British gave the French an ultimatum to surrender or be bombarded – there was no reply.  Three minutes after the bombardment began – the white flag was spotted.

However, the Japanese arrived later, at the end of May. They sent out torpedoes, critically damaging a British battleship and also sinking an oil tanker. Japanese troops beached a submarine and began to move inward, but the British received word of their arrival and the Japanese troops were killed.

Kings African Rifles’ 25 pdr battery in action against Vichy positions near Ambositra

On a small level, fighting continued. Small clashes occurred, but Allied forces moved slowly on land, as they chased the retreating French. However, after several months, the Allies captured the capital and several important towns. It wasn’t until November that an armistice was signed. In total, the Allies experienced a little over 600 casualties.

Initially, after the British and Allies managed to take the island, a Free French general was the high commissioner over the country. However, Madagascar wanted to become independent following World War II. A revolution occurred in 1947, but was a failure. Then, in 1960, Madagascar received its independence from France.

For detailed information on this battle: http://ww2today.com/5th-may-1942-the-invasion-of-madagascar

WWII History magazine, WWII online.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Idamay Arsenault – Worchester, MA; Civilian, WWII, Red Cross & ship welder

Charles Dilbert – Deerfield Beach, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 187/11th Airborne Division, Bronze Star

Michael Gurr – Elmswell, ENG; RAF officer

Billie Joe Hash – USA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pfc., Co. L/3/110/28th Infantry Division, KIA (Hürtgen Forest, Germany)

Francis Hayter – North Wooton, ENG; Royal Navy, Chief Petty Officer (Ret.)

Sam Johnson – Plano, TX; US Air Force, Korea & Vietnam, Pilot, POW / 30-year Congressman

Warren Miller – Hitchcock, SD; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star

Clive Naylor – ENG; RAF, Commander (Ret.)

John J. Sitarz – WV; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pfc., Co. L/3/110/28th Infantry Division, KIA (Hürtgen Forest, Germany)

Frederick Zalaznik – Waukegan, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, Engineers

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The Great Depression vs Today’s Economy

circa 1937: Four men sitting on a step reading a newspaper during the Great Depression. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

What happened during the Great Depression is very different from what is happening today, but there are some lessons in that history.

We’re starting to see some devastating economic indicators related to the global pandemic. More than 3 million people filed first-time unemployment claims the third week of March. On Thursday, we’ll find out how many people filed for unemployment in the fourth week, and on Friday, we’ll get the first monthly unemployment report since large parts of the economy started shutting down.

One of the big questions on your mind is probably: Just how bad things are going to get? That’s why we asked a few historians to tell us about the economic crises of the past — and in particular, the Great Depression — and what we should be keeping an eye out for today.

“It’s important to distinguish between the stock market crash in October of 1929 that everybody knows about and the stock market itself,” said Eric Hilt, an economic historian who teaches at Wellesley College. “The economy started to contract in probably summer of 1929. But it became a great depression rather than a severe recession probably starting in 1930 when a wave of bank failure started to occur,” he said.

Day labor, Webbers Falls, OK

“The Feds didn’t act as a lender of last resort to many banks,” said Kathleen Day, a professor of finance at Johns Hopkins University and author of a book on the history of financial crises in the United States. “Ten thousand banks failed, which, of course, caused another contraction of credit and contributed greatly to the depth and breadth of the depression,” she said.

“So what we’ve learned from that is that you need to be able to inject liquidity in a moment of crisis,” said Carola Frydman, professor of finance at Northwestern University. “You need to be able to bail out banks so that banks can keep on lending and restore confidence.”

If bailing out banks to keep the economy going sounds familiar, that’s because it’s what former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke convinced Congress to do in 2008.

Depression relief checks, 1937

“One of my very first papers as a young academic argued that one of the reasons the Depression was so deep and so long was because the financial system collapsed,” Bernanke said in a 2018 interview.  “I think putting capital in the banking system and making it work again, making it viable so that it can provide credit, was essential.”

Today’s financial turmoil is not the Great Depression, and it is not the Great Recession. “But there’s no doubt that there’s some economic rough water ahead,” Day said.

“If I were concerned about something like a Great Depression recurring, I might think about different warning signs that one might watch for, and one of them is policymakers choosing not to respond to the crisis,” Hilt said.

Chair Jay Powell and the Federal Reserve have taken aggressive actions in response to the COVID-19 crisis, including cutting interest rates to basically zero, buying trillions of dollars in bonds to put more money into the financial system and lowering the rates it charges banks to borrow money.

“So that warning sign is not going off. The historical pattern does not seem to be repeated in this context,” Hilt said.

As for what to watch for to help us understand what kind of crisis this is going to be, Hilt, Day and Frydman all said it’s important to watch unemployment.

Homeless in Phoenix, AZ

“The changes in unemployment during the Great Recession were relatively short lived,” Frydman said. In the Great Depression, on the other hand, unemployment rates remained very high for about a decade. “So I think that is something [to watch] as I look forward trying to understand whether some of the shocks that we’re seeing now are going to be temporary or, or a lot more long lasting,” she said.

Hilt, Frydman and Day said other indicators to watch for include bankruptcies, the inflation rate and signs of distress in the credit markets.

From: “The Marketplace”

Books by Kathleen Day:

  • Day, Kathleen. “Broken Bargain: Banks, Bailouts, and the Struggle to Tame Wall Street,” Yale University Press, January 2019
  • Day, Kathleen. “S&L Hell: the people and politics behind the $1 trillion savings-and-loan crisis,” New York: W.W. Norton, 1993

Click on images to enlarge.

SHOULD YOU WISH MORE ON THIS SUBJECT, PLEASE MENTION THAT IN THE COMMENTS – THANK YOU.

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Military Humor – Humor in Uniform on the Home Front – 

‘I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ruth Bender – Philadelphia, PA; US Coast Guard SPAR, WWII

Kurt Christensen – Sanford, CO; US Navy, WWII

Calvin Horman – Dexter, MN; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman Argus # 5

Wilson R. Jerman – Seaboard, NC; Civilian, White House butler to 11 Presidents

Frank O. Klein – Wauwatosa, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, B-24 photo reconnaissance & navigator

Daniel Layman – No. Augusta, SC; US Army, WWII & Korea

Charles D. Miller – Albany, IN; USMC, WWII, PTO, Co. A/1/6th Marines, KIA (Tarawa)

Lock John Quan – brn: Toishan, China; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star

Louis Torrez – Pauline, KS; US Army, WWII, ETO,Pvt., 318/80th Division

David Williams (100) – Countryside, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO

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Memorial Day + “You Are Not Forgotten” book review

 

From Arlington to remote prairie shrines to foreign fields, America provides a resting place for her fallen.  Now, on this poignant 25th day of May, we revive the memory of those heroes, though we should honor them every day.  Long after the agony of Bunker Hill, Heartbreak Ridge, Normandy, the Chosin Reservoir, the Tet Offensive and Bagdad, the dead lie in peace.  They and their comrades have left us names the world should never forget.  Make certain they did not die in vain.

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“You Are Not Forgotten”

Two men, their lives separated by over 60 years, became forever intertwined.

“You Are Not Forgotten” shows the inspiration and commitment of the American military.   For this nonfiction story, it goes from the Pacific in WWII to a memory and experience of Iraq.

A USMC,  F4U Corsair pilot, Major Marion ‘Ryan’ McCown, is lost during a battle over New Guinea and the jungle swallows all trace of him on 20 January 1944.

Over 60 years later, U.S. Army Major George Eyster V, despite coming from a long ancestry of military officers, became disillusioned after serving in Iraq.  Instead of ending his career, he joined the JPAC (Joint Pow/MIA Accounting Command), a division whose sole purpose is to leave no man behind.   With the author, Bryan Bender, at the helm, he brings these two lives together with researched firsthand information.

Read how facts and clues are pieced together to locate those that have fallen and that we so wish to remember and honor today.

This book was gifted to me from Judy Guion of the Greatest Generation Lessons, who found this book not only fascinating, but educational.  Thank you very much, Judy.

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GP Cox’s Veterans

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Farewell Salutes – 

Iona Anderson – Garber, IA; Womens USMC, WWII, Sgt.

Trevarius Bowman – Spartansburg, SC; US National Guard, Afghanistan, 1st Lt., 228th Tactical Signal Brigade

Peter Clark Jr. – Menasha, WI, USMC, WWII

Henry Hoffman III – Brooklyn, NY; US Army Air Corps, Japan Occupation, 11th Airborne Division

Charles Jackson – Thackerville, OK; US Coast Guard, (Ret.28 y.)

Moyne Linscott – Sumner, MO; US Army Air Corps, Japan Occupation, 1127 Airborne Engineers/11th Airborne Division

WWII Memorial poem at Arlington Cemetery

John Myers – Toledo, OH; US Coast Guard, WWII / US Army, Korea, mine sweeper

William Opalka – Chicago, IL; US Merchant Marines, WWII

Terrance Plank – Santa Cruz, CA; US Army, Vietnam, medic, 3/506/101st Airborne Division, Purple Heart, Bronze Star

Gene Vance – Garner, TX; US Navy, WWII, PTO / US Army, Vietnam, 11th Airborne Div. & 10th Special Forces Group, Sgt. Major (Ret.) / FAA

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courtesy of fellow blogger, Patty B.

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