Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Happy Birthday to the B-17 Flying Fortress

July 28 was the birthday of one of World War Two's greatest planes, the Boeing B-17 'Flying Fortress'. Its maiden flight was July 28, 1935.

Without this venerable aircraft, the war just may have been lost.

A tip of the hat to this gallant lady.

TAPS--95th Great Grif Mumford Flies Final Mission--First American to Bomb Berlin

Grif Mumford in the command pilot's seat, 1944. Grif led the first U.S. daylight bombing mission of Berlin in March of 1944. He passed away earlier this month. (Photo sent to Rob Morris from Grif in 2000)

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.

It is with great sadness that I report that Grif Mumford has flown his final mission. Grif was a good man and a friend and I will miss his knowledge and his willingness to help keep the history of the air war in World War Two alive. Over the years, I have had the pleasure to correspond and talk with Grif. He was always open, always helpful, always a gentleman. God bless you, Grif.

The following is Grif's obituary from the San Fransisco Chronicle.

Col. H. Griffin Mumford -- pilot led 1st daytime bombing of Berlin

John Koopman, Chronicle Staff Writer Friday, July 20, 2007

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.

God bless you, Grif.

Novel Update

Writing a novel is like living another life. Every day, I get up and disappear into a world that exists only inside my head. I live in that world for four or five hours at a time. When I re-surface, I always feel discombobulated. One moment I'm in a German Stalag Luft with my characters, the next I'm sitting in a small room in Ammon, Idaho, staring at my computer.

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:

"Kriegie Cake:

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

Update: Pilot's Jacket Sells for $2,380.55 on eBay

That was the final selling price on this jacket, profiled in this morning's posting.
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: The Luckiest Ball Turret Gunner of WWII?

Alan Magee's B-17 was named 'Snap, Crackle, Pop' because the Fort's original pilot, Jacob Fredericks, had worked for Kelloggs Cereal before the war. Kelloggs was famous for its 'Rice Crispies' cereal, and the three little men, Snap, Crackle and Pop are still the mascots for the cereal. Ball turret gunner Magee fell over 20,000 feet without a parachute, and was saved when he crashed through the glass ceiling of the Nazaire, France train station.

This is an interesting story, and verified in different sources including the Arizona Republic and the 303rd Bomb Group website. Another version of the story is found at the 303rd Site at http://www.303rdbg.com/magee.html. If anyone knows more, please feel free to add.

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.
On the 23rd of September 1995 Alan E. Magee, accompanied by his wife Helen, returned to St Nazaire to take part in a ceremony sponsored by French citizens, dedicating a memorial to his seven fellow crewmen killed in the crash of Snap! Crackle! Pop! in the forest at La Baule Escoublac on Jan. 3, 1943.

By Paul Logan Journal Staff Writer (edited/abridged)

Memories for Sale--Beautiful Flight Jacket on eBay

The owner of this jacket, Lt. W. C. Norris, was a B-17 pilot with the 379th Bomb Group.

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

Two P-51s Lost at Air Show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin

One of the two P-51s impacts the runway during the airshow.

Two vintage P-51 Mustangs crashed at an air show this weekend, part of a two-plane collision that killed one of the pilots.

The accident happened while the two planes were landing during the Experimental Aircraft Association's annual AirVenture show, Friday, July 27, 2007, in Oshkosh, Wis.

The FAA said the accident with the two P-51 Mustangs happened after the planes finished a performance at the Experimental Aircraft Association's annual AirVenture show.

The collision left one pilot confirmed dead, the FAA said. The annual convention is considered one of the world's largest gatherings of recreational aviators. (AP Photo/Mike Paschal)
My prayers go out to the men involved in this terrible accident, and their families.

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.

Novel Update

It's been my goal for a long time to write a novel about the Air Corps over Europe in World War Two. I wanted to tell the story, from enlistment through training and combat, followed by, in the case of my story, imprisonment in a German POW camp and a forced march at the end of the war. Historical fiction, however, is not worth telling unless it is accurate and rings true.

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 Few More Yellowstone Pictures

The map above shows our approximate hiking route in red.

My friend Roger had a much better digital than I did on our hike across the Central Yellowstone Plateau on Wednesday. He has a 12X Optical Zoom versus my 4X Digital Zoom, and consequently his pictures are better. Here is a second set of Yellowstone photos, taken by Roger Gottlob, fellow educator and future professional photographer, for your viewing pleasure.A black wolf trots nonchalently across a meadow on the eastern side of Mary Mountain. We watched him for about five minutes. He saw us, but was unconcerned by our presence. This wolf was about the size of an over-sized German Shepherd.

At the isolated patrol cabin, Mary's Lake. Heather Gottlob, Roger Gottlob, me.

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.

Some people follow directions when asked to pose for a photo. Some do not.

On a ridge overlooking the Hayden Valley, the hiker is back in the good graces of his patient photographer.

A young Grizzly noses for grubs in a meadow at the extreme west end of the Hayden Valley. This grizzly was completely unfazed by human beings. Still, we kept a healthy distance.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Music to Remember--Glenn Miller

I'm ripping off Richard Havers' 'Album of the Week' idea here, but at least I'll do it with a tip of the hat.

This week's album is Glenn Miller's awesome 'Moonlight Serenade'. Miller provided some of the most memorable songs of the war years. I can never listen to Glenn Miller without thinking of my dad, who loves Miller and who played it on our record player when I was growing up. The sounds of the big bands of the thirties, forties and fifties is unforgettable, and not only to those who were there. Many younger people have fallen in love with the sound of Miller, Basie, Ellington, Harry James, Tommy Dorsey and more.

Miller was an officer in the Army Air Corps and perished during the war while on a flight to entertain the troops. A brilliant musical career was cut short. Many people refer to the crash of Buddy Holly's plane as "the day the music died", but the same could be said for the tragic and untimely death of Glenn Miller.
Listen to the tracks on Amazon at this site, and order it while you are there. They are practically giving this CD away.

Best Show on American TV---DOGFIGHTS on History Channel

An actual CGI frame from the outstanding History Channel series 'DOGFIGHTS'.

If you live in the United States, this is the best show on television right now (assuming you love air combat history). The History Channel's 'Dogfights' offers a new episode every Friday night. I just finished watching this week's, where the P-47 Thunderbolt was matched up against the Me109. The show is good for the following three reasons:

1. Superb CGI (Computer Graphics Animation) re-creates individual dogfights in amazing detail, right down to the markings on the plane.

2. Interviews with the actual participants. These are interspersed with the CGI to explicate the action.

3. Superb narration explains the action and tactics.

The show deals with dogfights in all wars, from World War One through Desert Storm. This has been an action-packed season. For those of you who live overseas, the season is available on DVD from Amazon or eBay for about half the History Channel's price of $49.95. I saw multiple sets at around $25.00.

If you love this kind of thing, this show will be a prize in your DVD collection. I give it my highest recommendation.

Here is the official History Channel link. This link allows you to watch video from the show and has lots of neat information and graphics. http://www.history.com/minisites/dogfights/

Doolittle Raider Tribute--Jake Deshazer

Today, on the suggestion of an 8th Air Force man, we are going to take the day off from the 8th Air Force and the air war in Europe and honor the men who flew the suicidal Doolittle Mission against Tokyo in April of 1942. Most people know the story of the Doolittle Raid, but a quick summation is in order.

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&h=133&w=200&sz=40&hl=en&start=0&um=1&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

A Special Day for Bob Cozens and Wife Pat

I heard from 95th BG pilot Robert 'Bob' Cozens today that this is the 65th anniversary of receiving his pilot's wings, and also the 65th anniversary of the day he married his lovely wife Pat, for whom his aircraft, Patsy Ann III, was named.

Bob has an incredible story, having been one of the original airmen of the 95th Bomb Group. Many of the early flyers in this group perished in the spring, summer, and fall of 1943.

Leave Bob and Pat a message here and I'll make sure they get it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Nose Art Tribute--Again

As a site dedicated to remembering WWII airmen, how could I not post some great photos of nose art done by red-blooded American men who, in the words of the British, were "Over-paid, Over-fed, Over-Sexed and Over-Here"?

Thanks to Richard Havers for the first and fourth photos on this posting. I also added this nose art of Betty Grable after Richard mentioned her in a comment. She was WWII's number one pin-up girl.

Those offended by nudity will, no doubt, be offended. However, these are historical documents! Many of the wives and girlfriends who were the models for nose art are now in their late 80's.

In the words of the men of the Air Corps in the 1940's, 'Hubba-Hubba'.

Of course, as shown below, sometimes a strict CO could take all the fun out nose art.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Yellowstone Hike Pictures

My friend Roger, his daughter Heather, and I left Idaho Falls at five a.m. this morning, arriving in Yellowstone at the Mary Mountain Trailhead about 7:30. We traversed the empty center of the Park, from an area not far from Old Faithful to an area over by Canyon, a hike of slightly over 21 miles. We finished at a little before eight this evening. We had a friend pick us up and take us the 35-40 miles back to our car at the other end, then drove home, arriving in Idaho Falls about 11:45 p.m. Long day, but fun.

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

High Flight--A Great Air War Poem

High Flight

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."

Hiking Central Yellowstone Park Tomorrow

Tomorrow morning at five a.m. my friend Roger and his daughter are going to pick me up to drive to Yellowstone Park. We will be hiking the 21-mile Mary Mountain Trail across the center of Yellowstone Park. One of Roger's friends will pick us up at the far end and take us back to Roger's car.

Should be a fun, but long and probably somewhat tiring hike. It will be the first big test of my knee since surgery in March. I've logged about 200 miles jogging since then but no hikes of this distance.

I'll take lots of photos and post the best ones on this blog on Wednesday, assuming we don't become bear bait.

Here is a brief description of the trail from the Park website:


Trailhead: North of Alum Creek pullout, 4 miles south of Canyon Junction

Distance: 21 miles one way

Level of Difficulty: Moderately strenuous if you do the entire hike in one day

Mary Mountain has two trailheads: the eastern trail (noted above) climbs gradually up over Mary Mountain and the park's Central Plateau to the Nez Perce trailhead between Madison and Old Faithful. Elk and bison can sometimes be seen in the distant meadows. The trail through Hayden Valley is often difficult to follow as bison regularly knock down the trail markers. The western trailhead is a few hundred feet north of the Nez Perce Creek pullout. Mary Mountain makes for a long day hike, and you will need to have a vehicle awaiting you at the opposite trailhead. For shorter day hikes, the trail affords good opportunity to walk as far as you wish and then turn back. Be aware that Mary Mountain trail traverses grizzly territory, so look for posted signs concerning grizzly activity.

Photo Above: Bison traverse a meadow near the western end of the Mary Mountain trail. (Photo by Bruce Gourley)

Lest We EVER Forget

John F. Ryan Crew (left to right)Back: James F. Healy (BTG), George Sherback (ROG), Harold Whipple (RWG), Marv Fenner (TTE), Archie McFarland (LWG)Front: Joseph Tobiczyk (CP), John Ryan (P), Carl McGinty (BOM)Missing: Hans Chorpenning (NAV), Elmer Andersen (TG) (Source: 100th BG Photo Archives)

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.

These young men had their whole lives ahead of them. Their girlfriends married other men. They never had children. They never had the joy of watching their kids grow up, or the pleasures of old age. They are forever young, forever idealistic and smiling.

Les writes: "One of the hard parts about doing the website work for the 100th is that there are so many KIA's and pictures of them. It's very sobering. All of them look so young, handsome and brave. There's no way they deserved their fate. I've mentioned this before, but this particular crew photo always gets to me. All but one, KIA on their FIRST mission.

They all must be in a very special place in heaven."

God forgive us if we ever forget them.

Special Veterans' License Plates

Maurice Rockett's Distinguished Flying Cross Plate. Maurice received his DFC as a B-17 bombardier over Europe in WWII. He also received the Purple Heart and Air Medal.

Many states in the United States have special veterans' license plates. In some states, the plates are provided free for life to the veteran, a nice tribute and a deserved one.

The owner of this plate got his Purple Heart on Iwo Jima.

Over the years, I have seen many unique veterans' plates. Last summer, while at Crater Lake, I spotted an older gentleman getting out of his car. He had 'Pearl Harbor Survivor' plates on his car, so I made sure to go over and salute him and thank him. I've also seen Prisoner of War plates, Purple Heart plates, and Medal of Honor plates (these last are very rare).

Idaho features veterans' plates for the four major armed forces: Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. It also has a Prisoner of War plate, and plates can also specify specific wars if a veteran is a war veteran. The most common at the present are Persian Gulf and Vietnam, but there are still a few World War Two and Korea plates in town.

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.

The plate at the top of this story can be found on the car of Maurice and Grace Rockett, of Wayland, Massachusetts. In addition to the Distinguished Flying Cross, Maurice also received the Air Medal, the Purple Heart and other awards as a bombardier in the 95th Bomb Group in Europe in World War Two.

It's my own opinion that these plates should be free to all war veterans for life. To do this, the Division of Motor Vehicles could solicit each person who buys plates for a one dollar contribution to offset the cost of the free plates for veterans.

Any opinions on this from readers?
Lest we forget......