Tuesday, July 31, 2007
The first American commander over Berlin meets the first American commander over Tokyo, Grif meets Jimmy Doolittle in this US Army publicity shot from 1944. Grif sent me this photo back in 2000.
The date is March 4, 1944. A squadron of B-17 Flying Fortress bombers is high over the skies of Germany, on its way to Berlin, the most heavily protected city in the world at the time and the capital of the Nazi regime.
A radio call comes in and a voice tells the pilots, "You are to turn back and abort the mission ..."
Col. H. Griffin "Grif" Mumford commanded that squadron and had the unenviable task of deciding whether to turn his aircraft around or continue on the first daylight bombing raid of Berlin.
Col. Mumford flew on. His radio operator could not get proper confirmation that the radio message was legitimate. The four-engine bombers made it to Berlin and dropped thousands of pounds of bombs on the German people.
When he returned to base at Horham, England, the colonel was hailed as a hero and awarded the Silver Star.
Col. Mumford died July 7 at Marin General Hospital after having suffered a fall earlier that the week. He was 89.
"I don't think that raid (over Berlin) was so important militarily," said the colonel's son, Toby Mumford of Tiburon. "It had more propaganda value than anything else."
In fact, the German air marshal, Hermann Goering, had once boasted that Allied aircraft would never bomb the Fatherland. Col. Mumford's raid was not the first time Berlin was bombed, but it did mark the first time U.S. aircraft dumped their payloads during daylight hours, allowing for more precise targeting.
"I wonder if they (the bomber crews) realize the significance of this mission," Col. Mumford once said during a speech, remembering the moment. "That it could be the turning point of the war."
After that raid, bombing runs routinely flew over the German capital. The war in Europe ended on May 8, 1945.
Col. Mumford was born in Missouri on Feb. 26, 1918. He moved with his family to El Paso, Texas, when he was 6, and his father died a year later. Col. Mumford attended the University of Texas in El Paso, but left to join the Army Air Corps in early 1940.
Toby Mumford said his father loved to fly, and he soon became a flight instructor. He trained on the B-17 bombers and went to England as a bomber pilot with the 95th Bomb Group in 1942. He arrived as a captain -- at the controls of his bomber, called "I'll Be Around" -- and eventually rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel and squadron commander.
After the raid on Berlin, Col. Mumford remained with the 95th until he returned to the United States in early 1945, his son said.
After the war, Col. Mumford was discharged. Among his decorations were two Silver Stars, one Bronze Star, the French Legion of Honor and the British Distinguished Flying Cross.
He moved to San Francisco to work for his father-in-law at the Ocean Shore Ironworks. Nine months later, he was back in uniform, this time with the newly created U.S. Air Force.
Toby Mumford said his father held a variety of posts in the Air Force until he retired in 1970 at the rank of full colonel.
After he retired, Col. Mumford worked for another 20 or so years for Hill Real Estate in San Francisco. He played a little golf and fished, but mostly Col. Mumford stayed active in the 95th Bomb Group Association. He spoke and wrote extensively about the work and the missions of the B-17 crews in the war.
"He was a guy right out of the Tom Brokaw book," Toby Mumford said, referring to "The Greatest Generation." "It was important to him that people remembered what went on during the war."
Col. Mumford's wife, Jacklyn, died in 2004. He is survived by his sister, Neva Miller of Hemet (Riverside County); son, Toby; two daughters, Trudi Costello of Tiburon and Gretchen Pattengill of San Diego; nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Services will be held at 2 p.m. July 26 at St. Hilary Church in Tiburon.
The characters in my novel are currently in their second POW camp. The first camp became too full, due to the fact that sometime in September of 1943, the Italians switched sides, and all the Italian soldiers and diplomats in German territory instantly became 'the enemy'. Massive roundups and imprisonment of Germany's erstwhile allies from Italy followed. Many of those who ended up in the German prison camps couldn't believe that they were there.
Though my camps are fictional, they are based on actual camps. The first camp is based on Stalag VII-A at Moosberg. The second is based on Stalag 17-B at Krems.
One of my favorite readings about POW life comes from my old friend John Chaffin. John was a pilot in the 95th Bomb Group who was shot down on the Munster Mission in October, 1943. He became a close friend after we met in 2000. A strong Christian and a writer, John sent me several of his own books, based on his journals and notes he kept while a pilot and POW. John was one of my earliest critics. When I wrote something that he thought stunk, he would tell me, and then tell me how to make it better.
Sadly, John passed away about three years ago. I lost one of my best editors. After 100th pilot Herb Alf passed away, I had only one of my original three 'hard-ass' editors left, namely Maurice Rockett, who remains with me to this day, keeping me on the straight and narrow.
John's journals and notes are occasionally hilarious. John loved to cook. His mother had taught him to cook as a boy, though almost none of his fellow POWs had a clue how to do it. John therefore became the 'chef' in his 'combine' or group of POWs who shared food and cooking duties. An incredibly creative man, John developed recipes for dozens of dishes--no easy task when you consider that all his recipes had to be made from the limited ingrediants in a Red Cross Parcel.
Remember, all John's recipes were POW-tested, and all came from limited ingredients and were normally baked over improvised stoves on hand-made utensils.
Here is one of his Kriegie creations:
The Kriegie Cake is likened to a sandwich in that it is built and not made. It is not unlike stew, since almost anything sweet in the pantry can be thrown in.
The bulk of the cake or rather the usual starting point, is one bowl of bread scraps. Soak these in hot water for fifteen to thirty minutes and then pour into a dishpan. You are now ready to start.
Throw in about one KLIM can of cracker crumbs. (Rob's note--Klim was a powdered milk and the crackers were either shredded biscuits or crackers that the Americans had traded for from the Brits). Add sugar to suit taste--about 3/4 pound should be close to right. Put in 1/2 can of Nestles milk if you have it handy; a can of any kind of jam helps and 1/2 can of chocolate powder is one of the few necessary ingredients. A half can of New Zealand coffee doesn't hurt anything and, if you like, a box of raisins might be added. An apple pudding or Yorkshire pudding (from British parcels) will help immensely but if you are not fortunate in having one, don't fret.
When you have tired of throwing things into the pan, roll up your sleeves and work at the mess with both hands until it is well mixed. (If it is obvious there is dirt on your hands and the weather is not too cold to run out to the latrine) you should probably wash your hands first---especially if any of the picky other Kriegies in your combine are watching.
Work the mess with both hands until it is well mixed. Pour the batch into a buttered pan and bake in the bottom of the oven until done. It should be baked slowly.
Almost any kind of icing will suffice for your cake. If you are lazy or pressed for time (rare event for a kriegie) a little jam or honey will do. Should you feel more industrious, here are a couple of ideas for your use:
Take 1/4 Klim can of milk, three spoons of sugar; mix well then add enough water to take a thick paste. Spread it on and there you are (italics John's).
To make a chocolate icing just add cocoa into the already mentioned mixture and there you are---chocolate!" (Italics John's).
John Chaffin was one wise man who took the lemons life gave him and figured out the best possible recipe for making lemonade! He returned from his incarceration to have a long career with General Dynamics. Before he passed away, my brother had a good visit with him down in Texas. To the end, John was a writer, a mentor, a leader in his Christian church in the Dallas area, and one heck of a contract bridge player and instructor.
Monday, July 30, 2007
It sold to someone who obviously collects aviation memorabilia, judging from his buying history.
Another artifact probably locked up in someone's trophy room instead of in a museum. However, it's possible that this collector buys for a museum. In that case, BRAVO!!
Alan Magee ranked among the luckiest of those who served in the Air Corps during World War II. A B-17 ball turret gunner, Magee had no choice but to jump out of a disabled, spinning-out-of-control bomber from about 22,000 feet without a parachute...and miraculously lived.
His incredible story was featured in a Smithsonian Magazine on the 10 most amazing survivals during World War II. Magee seldom spoke of that death-defying drop. He died 60 years later of complications from a stroke and kidney failure in San Angelo, Texas. His niece described her uncle as "just a regular guy." "He didn't like to talk about it...then he wouldn't dwell on it," the niece said.
"One of the people who saw him fall through the glass roof of the railroad station tracked Alan down. Before that, Alan wasn't interested in discussing this." However, he did mention: "God was certainly looking out for me."
Magee, was born in Plainfield, New Jersey. The youngest of six children, he enlisted after the Pearl Harbor attack. He was 5-foot-7...and just barely small enough to fitin the B-17's ball turret...a cramped, donut-shaped plexiglas and metal turret on thebomber's underside. It was a tight fit - a gunner's knees were practically against his chest- that Magee had to leave his parachute up on the (flight) deck of his four-engine Flying Fortress.
"His ball turret offered a panoramic view, but it was also a vulnerable target for (the attacking) German fighter planes. And there was a high casualty rate among B-17 gunners," said Don Jenkins, Magee's friend of 38 years and a World War II Navy veteran." He was very easy to get along with - very cheerful, very talkative and a very sweet person," Jenkins said. But, he said, in all those years, Magee only spoke to him three times about the incredible events taking place on January 3, 1943.
Sgt. Magee, 24, was one of the oldest of the 10-man crew who flew out of Molesworth,England, on a bomber nicknamed "Snap! Crackle! Pop!" His pilot was only 19. His seventh mission was a daylight bombing run on St. Nazaire, France, called "Flak City" because of the many anti-aircraft guns defending the German's submarine pens. On that day, his 303rd Bomb Group had sent 85 B17s with fighter escorts.
Over the target area, flak damaged Magee's plane...then German fighters shot off a section of his aircraft's right wing. Magee, who was wounded, scrambled out of his restrictive ball turret, and up on to the flight deck where he noticed his parachute was ruined. "He saw a gap in the side of the spinning plane and jumped out," said Jenkins, who explained that in the confusion Magee forgot he wasn't wearing a chute. "He remembered tumbling, but at that high altitude, he quickly lost consciousness from lack of oxygen."
Eyewitnesses saw Magee's body crash through the Nazaire train station's glass skylight - breaking his fall. When he regained consciousness, Magee said to his German captors: "Thank God I'm alive."
Magee's injuries included 28 shrapnel wounds - a punctured lung and kidney - nose and one eye ripped open - right arm nearly severed from his body - a broken right leg and ankle. The Germans decided that anyone who could so miraculously survive deserved "real special medical attention." With the doctors' high priority assistance, Magee fully recovered.
In total, 75 U.S. airmen were killed that day, 7 Fortresses were shot down - forty-seven damaged. Two other members of Magee's crew survived. McGee was a prisoner of war until May 1945. He received the Air Medal for meritorious conduct and the Purple Heart. "Alan was never the type to look in the past," said his friend. Despite the harrowing experience, Magee still loved to fly airplanes and earned his private pilot's license. He lived for the enjoyment of each moment - did a lot of walking and backpacking, and led a pretty good life.
On Jan. 3, 1993, Magee and the other two crew members were guests of the St. Nazaire,France townspeople. They hosted a banquet and erected a six-foot-tall memorial to salute the flight crew of Snap! Crackle! Pop! "He was very excited and honored," Jenkins said.
By Paul Logan Journal Staff Writer (edited/abridged)
Another example of the selling of legacies and memories is to be found on eBay today, a beautiful officer's leather jacket, one of the nicer ones I've seen, with an incredible amount of painting done to it. A real classic.
I have notified the 379th Bomb Group by email and hope they get the message before the auction ends.
The bidding is at over $1,700 currently. It will go to some rich collector or investor. Who owned it? How did the current owner get it? If it's from his family, why is he selling it?
I hope somebody from the bomb group he flew with sees the auction, passes the hat, and buys this for the group museum.
Check this jacket out at http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=130136261036&ssPageName=STRK:MEWA:IT&ih=003
Sunday, July 29, 2007
The Two Best 8th Air Force Websites--Fred Preller's Mighty Eighth Cross Reference and Steve Mosca's Mighty Eighth Message Board
Fred Preller's Mighty Eighth Cross Reference and Steve Mosca's Mighty Eighth Message Board are the best internet websites for World War Two research.
On the Cross Reference site, Fred has linked up all the bomb group pages with all kinds of excellent references, putting the entire history of the Eighth as close as a click of a mouse.
Drop by for a look around. You'll end up staying for hours.
Click here for a closer look: http://mighty8thaf.preller.us/index.html?page=/php/000-AllBG.html
The other must-read website is Steve Mosca's outstanding Mighty Eighth Message Board. It is a fact that I could not have researched and written 'Untold Valor' without it. This is a discussion forum open to anyone having questions or information about anything 8th Air Force. Click here to visit: http://www.com-web.com/wwwboard/wwwboard.html, or at the bottom of my web page, where there is a permanent link.
I salute both these men on their contributions to research and study of the Eighth Air Force.
This summer, I've been working steadily on the novel. I have been very lucky to have eleven men who were 'over there' as my advisors. These eleven do everything from answer daily questions about anything from the cost of cigarettes to the best pub in London. They describe the terrors of combat and the humor of service life. Several also are reading the manuscript as I go in order to catch factual errors or correct scenes which do not ring true.
Their comments and emails alone run to a document of almost fifty pages so far, and this will be an important historical document in and of itself.
The novel should run about 80-100,000 words when complete. Though it deals with the entire Air Corps experience, I've also tried to make it character-driven. There are several unusual plot twists and it all builds to a surprise ending (what novel doesn't).
I'd like to thank my technical crew of advisors for their help all summer. They are:
1. Don Lewis, 15th Air Force, gunner, POW, Long March
2. Norris King, B-17 gunner, Shot down by Swiss, Internee
3. Will Lundy, 44th BG Ground Crewmen and historian, Flying Eightballs
4. Maurice Rockett, 95th BG, B-17 bombardier, Purple Heart
5. Delbert Lambson, 390th BG, Ball Turret Gunner, POW, Long March
6. Bob Cozens, 95th Bomb Group, Lead Pilot, Original member of 95th
7. John Carson, 15th Air Force gunner/armorer, POW
8. Dan Culler, 44th Bomb Group, B-24 engineer, Swiss internee and survivor of Wauwilermoos, a Swiss federal prison
9. Gale House, 95th Bomb Group, Chief Pilot, original 95th
10. DeWayne ‘Ben’ Bennett, B-17 pilot, 384th BG.
11. Leonard Herman, 95th BG, B-17 Bombardier, Purple Heart
Once the initial draft is completed, there will be re-writing and revision, but I've always found the initial drafting to be the hardest. My guess is, with a team of editors like the ones above, the revision could be a lot of fun.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
A landscape shot in the Hayden Valley, showing the massive herd of buffalo we encountered on the way down. We had to detour to the left around a ridge to get past them.
Friday, July 27, 2007
In 1942, only a few months after the Japanese surprise attack killed thousands of unsuspecting Americans at Pearl Harbor, aviation legend Jimmy Doolittle put together a top secret mission to raise American morale and strike a blow back at Japan. The mission called for volunteer airmen to fly 16 B-25 medium bombers off the flight deck of an aircraft carrier and bomb Tokyo itself.
Every man recruited for this mission undertook it knowing that it was, essentially, a suicide mission. Once the planes had bombed their targets, they would either fly on and land in China or crash when their fuel ran out.
The crew of #16 (from left): George Barr (navigator), William Farrow (pilot), Harold Spatz (engineer gunner), Robert Hite (copilot) and Jacob DeShazer (bombardier).
On April 18, 1942, the 16 B-25's roared down the pitching flight deck of the USS Hornet, timing their takeoff rolls so that they would leave the deck as it crested a wave. Loaded with bombs and men, the planes strained to remain airborne. All defensive armament had been removed to lighten them. All the planes made it into the air safely.
However, the mission had now truly become suicidal. The Hornet had been spotted by several Japanese fishing boats and the commander was afraid that their location would be relayed to the Japanese Navy. The decision was made to launch the planes immediately, even though they were still 640 miles from the Japanese mainland. This was a full 200-300 miles farther than the plan had called for.
Bombardier Jake DeShazer's B-25 bomber was the last to take off from the lurching deck of the U.S.S. Hornet. Ahead lay the enemy territory of Japan.
The B-25s screamed in low and fast, ripping their targets from very low altitude and under heavy flak barrage.
Some of the crews and planes made it to China, where they crashlanded and were picked up by the friendly Chinese. However, several of the planes went down in enemy territory, and the men were captured.
About five years ago, I made the acquaintance of a man by the name of Jacob Deshazer, who goes by the shorter 'Jake'. Deshazer's plane had gone down in enemy territory. At least one of the crew was killed in the crash, and the rest became prisoners of war. They would remain so until the end of the war. During their incarceration, the Japanese charged some of the crewmen with war crimes for bombing civilian targets. Several of the men were eventually executed.
As the war dragged on, Deshazer and the surviving members of his crew struggled with fear, depression, and painful torture. However, Deshazer had an ally. He was a strong Christian and as he sat in his cell for three years, he found his faith growing daily.
After the war ended, Jake Deshazer became a Christian evangelist. He vowed to return to Japan and share the word of Christ with his former enemies, and so he did. In fact, one of his converts was the pilot who led the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Mitsuo Fuchida trained hard for his mission on December 7, 1941. When the day dawned he was filled with excitement about his mission to devastate American posts at Pearl Harbor. (Image courtesy of biblebelievers.com)
Nine years after bombing Pearl Harbor, Mitsuo Fuchida came to faith in Jesus Christ because he read the testimony of God’s power of forgiveness that had changed Jacob DeShazer’s life. The met and encouraged one another in Tokyo, Japan. (Image courtesy of biblebelievers.com)
In my communications with Mr. Deshazer over the years, he has graciously shared parts of his story. However, there are several books that I highly recommend to learn more about the Doolittle Raid. All are excellent. I'm going to provide links to them below.
Thirty Seconds over Tokyo: (Pilot Ted Lawson's classic tale of the raid, made into a famous movie--the movie is also excellent) http://www.amazon.com/Thirty-Seconds-Over-Tokyo-Lawson/dp/0743474333/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2/105-8748142-8187633?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1185551087&sr=8-2
Not As Briefed, By Ross Greening. (Greening was a Doolittle Raider who then went to Europe and ended up a POW. He was a talented artist, and this may be the best book of art to come out of World War Two) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0007HBWYY?tag=stluion-20&camp=14573&creative=327641&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=B0007HBWYY&adid=0WR7WC7C1H9HX4AHKSNE&
The First Heroes: (My favorite book overall on the raid itself, well-told and highly recommended) http://www.amazon.com/First-Heroes-Extraordinary-Doolittle-Raid-Americas/dp/0142003417/ref=pd_sim_b_4/105-8748142-8187633?ie=UTF8&qid=1185551200&sr=1-1
DeShazer: (The amazing story of Jake Deshazer's spiritual journey--I gave one of my former students a signed copy when he was confirmed in my church. Mr. Deshazer is one of my personal heroes. He took evil and turned it into good) http://www.amazon.com/Shazer-Charles-Hoyt-Watson/dp/B0006Y18M4/ref=sr_1_4/105-8748142-8187633?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1185551401&sr=1-4
Destination Tokyo: (The best pictorial history of the Doolittle Raid) http://www.amazon.com/Destination-Tokyo-Pictorial-History-Doolittles/dp/0933126298/ref=sr_1_1/105-8748142-8187633?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1185551577&sr=1-1
I have been a Doolittle Raid buff for many years, and though I've only had direct communication with one, I feel like I know and love all those brave men.
An excellent site written by Deshazer can be found by clicking this link: http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.faithofourfathers.org/images2/deshazer2.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.faithofourfathers.org/heritage/pearl.html&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;h=133&w=200&sz=40&hl=en&start=0&um=1&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;tbnid=xXTFTZoaTlbXdM:&tbnh=69&tbnw=104&prev=/images%3Fq%3Djacob%2Bdeshazer%26svnum%3D10%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN
Among DeShazer’s many military decorations for service and bravery are the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart and the Chinese Breast Order of Yung Hui.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
On the hike, we encountered not a single other human being. We saw a large wolf at a distance of about 75 yards (I don't have a photo because I don't have a telephoto, but will add one of Roger's when I get it), several Great Blue Herons, Idaho's state bird--The Mountain Bluebird, too many bison to count, a grizzly bear, eagles, osprey, and much more.
A lone bison walks along a ridge in the remote Hayden Valley of Yellowstone. We saw four or five hundred bison, and on four or five occasions had to make rather inconvenient detours around them, as they use the same trails.Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce Tribe used this same trail to attempt their daring escape from the United States back in the 1870's. About eight miles into the hike, we came upon this old sign denoting an incident on that long march. Only forty miles from Canada, Joseph and his tribe were captured by the US Army. Joseph then said "As the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever".For much of the year, Yellowstone is a harsh place for its animals. We saw dozens of skeletons and bones on the hike. This bone is next to the shoreline of Mary's Lake, about halfway along the 20-mile trail. Much of the water along this trail is not potable, due to the thermal features. We brought our carbon filters and filtered water from the lake.
The day started out cool, then got warm and sunny. By mid-afternoon, we got the usual afternoon thunderstorm, with fantastic lightning and plenty of rain. This picture was taken looking up through lodgepole pine on the way up Mary's Mountain.
Evidence of bear activity is frequent. This is a prime grizzly bear habitat and we noted many signs of recent grizzly use. The photo above shows a grizzly scratching post, the side of a lodgepole pine, with claw marks visible. Roger's hand is to left for size.
Another sign of a recent grizzly on the trail--a huge pawprint indented in the dried mud at our feet. This is my fairly large hand at left to show the incredible size of these magnificent animals.Hey, there's one now! We saw this at the bottom of the trail near the very end of the day. It is a young Grizzly, maybe several years old, walking across a sage meadow looking for grubs. I do not have a telephoto, so this is the rough distance from us, though it has been cropped.An afternoon thunderstorm growls across the Hayden Valley. Several spouts of rain can be seen cascading to the earth in center and right. If you look just left and below center of photo, you can see part of a herd of roughly 150 bison that we watched as we passed.
This rather stringy-looking hiker used to throw the discus, and to this day, he cannot pass by a buffalo chip without picking it up and flinging it into the stratosphere, a behavior his hiking companions invariably find somewhat disturbing.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .
Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew
—And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
— John Gillespie Magee, Jr
John Gillespie Magee, Jr., was born in Shanghai, China, in 1922 to an English mother and a Scotch-Irish-American father, He was 18 years old when he entered flight training. Within the year, he was sent to England and posted to the newly formed No 412 Fighter Squadron, RCAF, which was activated at Digby, England, on 30 June 1941. He was qualified on and flew the Supermarine Spitfire.
Flying fighter sweeps over France and air defense over England against the German Luftwaffe, he rose to the rank of Pilot Officer.
On 3 September 1941, Magee flew a high altitude (30,000 feet) test flight in a newer model of the Spitfire V. As he orbited and climbed upward, he was struck with the inspiration of a poem — "To touch the face of God."
Once back on the ground, he wrote a letter to his parents. In it he commented, "I am enclosing a verse I wrote the other day. It started at 30,000 feet, and was finished soon after I landed." On the back of the letter, he jotted down his poem, 'High Flight'.
Just three months later, on 11 December 1941 (and only three days after the US entered the war), Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr., was killed. The Spitfire V he was flying, VZ-H, collided with an Oxford Trainer from Cranwell Airfield flown by one Ernest Aubrey. The mid-air happened over the village of Roxholm which lies between RAF Cranwell and RAF Digby, in the county of Lincolnshire at about 400 feet AGL at 11:30. John was descending in the clouds. At the enquiry a farmer testified that he saw the Spitfire pilot struggle to push back the canopy. The pilot, he said, finally stood up to jump from the plane. John, however, was too close to the ground for his parachute to open. He died instantly. He was 19 years old.
Read more about Magee and his poem at http://www.skygod.com/quotes/highflight.html
The poem was made famous by President Ronald Reagan. Speaking at the memorial service for the Challenger Space Shuttle astronauts, Reagan said:
"We shall never forget them nor the last time we saw them, as they prepared for their mission and waved good-bye and slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God."
Trailhead: North of Alum Creek pullout, 4 miles south of Canyon Junction
Photo Above: Bison traverse a meadow near the western end of the Mary Mountain trail. (Photo by Bruce Gourley)
My good friend Les just sent me this gut-wrenching photo of a young crew who went down with the 100th Bomb Group on the crew's very first mission. All but one were killed in action. Sherback was the only survivor. Their names are listed on the Wall of the Missing in Cambridge. All bodies and debris ended up in the sea.
They all must be in a very special place in heaven."
The owner of this plate got his Purple Heart on Iwo Jima.
Several of Idaho's specialized plates (above).
Korean War vet's plate.
These plates are available to vets who suffered radiation poisoning from 1946 to 1964 or thereabouts.