29 April 2007

Victoria Cross: M. E. Nasmith

MARTIN ERIC NASMITH

Lieutenant Commander, Royal Navy; commanding HM Submarine E11

Born: 1 April 1883, East Barnes, London

Citation: For most conspicuous bravery in command of one of His Majesty's Submarines, while operating in the Sea of Marmora [during the period 20 May-8 Jun 1915]. In the face of great danger he succeeded in destroying one large Turkish gunboat, two transports, one ammunition ship and three storeships, in addition to driving one storeship ashore. When he had safely passed the most difficult part of his homeward journey he returned again to torpedo a Turkish transport.

(London Gazette Issue 29206 dated 25 Jun 1915, published 25 Jun 1915.)


Note: Lieutenant Guy D'Oyly Hughes RN and Acting Lieutenant Robert Brown RNR were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, and the remaining members of the crew received the Distinguished Service Medal, for this combat patrol.

Medal of Honor: J. Parrott

JACOB PARROTT

Private, Company K, 33d Ohio Infantry

Born: 17 July 1843, Fairfield County, Ohio
Died: 22 December 1908, Kenton, Ohio


Citation: One of the 19 of 22 men (including 2 civilians) who [in April, 1862], by direction of Gen. Mitchell (or Buell) penetrated nearly 200 miles south into enemy territory and captured a railroad train at Big Shanty, Ga., in an attempt to destroy the bridges and tracks between Chattanooga and Atlanta.


Note: This was the first Medal of Honor presented.

28 April 2007

George Cross: O. M. C. Sansom

MRS ODETTE MARIE CELINE (BRAILLY) SANSOM, MBE

Women's Transport Service (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry); attached Special Operations Executive

Born: 28 April 1912, Amiens, Somme, France
Died: 13 March 1995, France

Citation: Mrs Sansom was infiltrated into enemy-occupied France and worked with great courage and distinction until April, 1943, when she was arrested with her Commanding Officer. Between Marseilles and Paris on the way to the prison at Fresnes, she succeeded in speaking to her Commanding Officer and for mutual protection they agreed to maintain that they were married. She adhered to this story and even succeeded in convincing her captors in spite of considerable contrary evidence and through at least fourteen interrogations. She also drew Gestapo attention from her Commanding Officer on to herself saying that he had only come to France on her insistence. She took full responsibility and agreed that it should be herself and not her Commanding Officer who should be shot. By this action she caused the Gestapo to cease paying attention to her Commanding Officer after only two interrogations. In addition the Gestapo were most determined to discover the whereabouts of a wireless operator and of another British officer whose lives were of the greatest value to the Resistance Organisation. Mrs Sansom was the only person who knew of their whereabouts. The Gestapo tortured her most brutally to try to make her give away this information. They seared her back with a red hot iron and, when that failed, they pulled out all her toe-nails. Mrs Sansom, however, continually refused to speak and by her bravery and determination, she not only saved the lives of the two officers but also enabled them to carry on their most valuable work.
During the period of over two years in which she was in enemy hands, she displayed courage, endurance and self-sacrifice of the highest possible order.

(London Gazette Issue 37693 dated 20 Aug 1946, published 16 Aug 1946.)

This day in history: 28 Apr

1192: Conrad of Montferrat, King of Jerusalem, was assassinated.

1788: Maryland became the seventh state to ratify the US Constitution.

1789: Mutineers led by Fletcher Christian took over HMAV Bounty; its captain, Lieutenant William Bligh, and 18 others were set adrift in a ship's longboat.*






1862: American forces commanded by Admiral David Farragut captured Forts Jackson and St Philip, south of New Orleans.

1917: Near St Quentin, France, CSM Edward Brooks, Ox & Bucks Light Infantry, rescued a British attack which had been pinned down by a German machine-gun. His single-handed attack succeeded in killing or driving away the gun's crew, after which he turned the captured weapon on the neighbouring German defences and secured the success of the British raid. Elsewhere on the Western Front, when the Germans launched heavy attacks on British troops in an exposed position, 20-year-old Second Lieutenant Reginald Haine, Honourable Artillery Company, organised a succession of counter-attacks on a German position; his efforts led to the capture of the German position, fifty prisoners and two machine guns. Brooks and Haine were both awarded the Victoria Cross.

1943: A Company, 6th Armored Infantry, 1st Armored Division, was advancing in the vicinity of MedjezelBab, Tunisia, when they were held up by flanking fire from an enemy machinegun nest. Pvt Nicholas Minue, acting alone, charged the enemy position with fixed bayonet, killing approximately 10 enemy machinegunners and riflemen. After destroying this position, Pvt Minue continued forward, routing enemy riflemen until he was fatally wounded. Minue was awarded the Medal of Honor.

1945: Benito Mussolini and his mistress, Clara Petacci, were executed by members of the Italian resistance movement.

1947: Thor Heyerdahl and five others set sail from Peru on the Kon-Tiki, bound for Polynesia.

1967: Expo 67 opened in Montreal, Quebec.

1986: USS Enterprise (CVN 65) became the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to transit the Suez Canal.

2001: Millionaire Dennis Tito became the world's first space tourist, launching from Baikonur on Soyuz TM-32.








2006: Olav Heyerdahl (Thor's grandson) and five others set sail from Peru on the Tangaroa, bound for Tahiti.




Besides Conrad (1140s–1192), Mussolini (1883-1945) and Petacci (1912-1945), Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland (c. 1449–1489), Prince Mikhail Illarionovich Golenishchev-Kutuzov (1745—1813) and Rory Calhoun (1922-1999) died on this date.

And happy birthday to King Edward IV (1442–1483), President James Monroe (1758–1831), Lionel Barrymore (1878–1954), Jan Oort (1900–1992), Kurt Gödel (1906–1978), Oskar Schindler (1908–1974), Odette Sansom GC MBE (1912-1995), Ferruccio Lamborghini (1916-1993), William J. Guarnere (1922-TBD), Ann-Margret (1941-TBD), Alice Waters (1944-TBD), Terence Pratchett OBE (1948-TBD) and Jay Leno (1950-TBD).


* The photo shows the replica built in 1978 for the Mel Gibson film The Bounty.

27 April 2007

RIP: Barry Nelson


ZUI this article from the Washington Post:
Barry Nelson, an MGM contract player during the 1940s who later had a prolific theater career and was the first actor to play James Bond on screen, has died. He was 89.

Nelson died on April 7 while traveling in Bucks County, Pa., his wife, Nansi Nelson, said Friday. The cause of death was not immediately known, she said.

After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1941, Nelson was signed to MGM after being spotted by a talent scout. He appeared in a number of films for the studio in 1942, including "Shadow of the Thin Man," "Johnny Eager" and "Dr. Kildare's Victory." He also landed the leading role in "A Yank on the Burma Road," playing a cab driver who decides to lead a convoy of trucks for the Chinese government.

The "first actor to play James Bond on screen"? Yep. Casino Royale, 1954 - eight years before Sean Connery's first Bond Movie, Dr No, and 13 years before David Niven's appearance in the better-known version of Casino Royale.

From the News-Tribune:
Barry Nelson, a Broadway leading man who launched his career at MGM in the 1940s and earned a niche in show business history as the first actor to play British secret agent James Bond – as an American named Jimmy Bond – in a live television production of “Casino Royale” in the 1950s, has died. He was 89.

-------

He later played opposite Debbie Reynolds in the 1963 movie comedy, “Mary, Mary,” a role he originated on Broadway with co-star Barbara Bel Geddes. He also appeared in the films “Airport,” “Pete ’n’ Tillie” and “The Shining.”

But Nelson had some of his greatest successes on Broadway, including appearing in “Light Up the Sky” and “The Moon Is Blue” in the 1940s, “Cactus Flower” opposite Lauren Bacall (in the ’60s) and “The Act” opposite Liza Minnelli (for which he received a Tony Award nomination as best actor in a musical in 1978).

“He was a charming light comedian with a wonderful boyish face and a lovely youthful quality,” Miles Kreuger, president of the Institute of the American Musical in Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times on Friday.

You can read more about his career at IMDb and at IBDB.

I know him primarily from Airport, in which he played Dean Martin's co- pilot, though the really memorable (for me, at least) roles in that film were played by Martin, Helen Hayes, Burt Lancaster and George Kennedy. But I see Amazon is offering Casino Royale - Nelson's version - on VHS. I may have to order a copy....

RIP: Mstislav Rostropovich

1965 photo


ZUI this article from the Scotsman:
The Russian cellist and conductor Mstislav Rostropovich, who became a symbol of the fight for artistic freedom under Soviet rule, died yesterday [27 April] aged 80.

Vladimir Putin, the president, who feted the maestro in the Kremlin last month when he made a frail appearance at his 80th birthday celebration, called his death a "huge loss".

"I want to tell [his] relatives and loved ones: 'Please accept my deepest condolences. This is a huge loss for Russian culture'," Mr Putin said.

Says the Herald:
Mstislav Rostropovich - the glorious Slava, as he was nicknamed - was the most exuberant and big-hearted of cellists, the obverse of the pensive, perhaps even greater, Pierre Fournier, and for the public at large he was the man who spectacularly bridged the gap between Pablo Casals and Yo-Yo Ma.

Although in modern times his outsized musical personality came to seem outmoded in the music of Bach, in which Pieter Wispelwey, Paulo Pandolfo and other members of the new school of playing have surpassed him, it was Rostropovich - who else could it have been? - who performed Bach's suites at the base of the Berlin Wall when it was dismantled.

-------

He had been ailing for some time and was no longer the figure he had once been, though Vladimir Putin honoured him last month with a birthday party at the Kremlin. Scotland, fortunately, had heard him in his heyday, playing Bach's complete suites at the 1962 Edinburgh Festival, an event for which he gave his services free.

That was the great Shostakovich year, presided over by Lord Harewood, in which Rostropovich partnered Benjamin Britten in Shostakovich's Sonata for cello and piano as well as in Britten's own Cello Sonata, specially written for him in 1961. Theirs was one of the great creative friendships, which resulted also in Britten's Cello Symphony, one of the masterpieces of modern cello music, and the three suites for solo cello, which today take their place alongside Bach's in the cello repertoire.

And from the North County (CA) Times:
Mstislav Rostropovich played the cello with grace and verve _ and lived his life offstage the same way. His death at age 80 takes away one of modern Russia's most compelling figures, admired both for his musical mastery and his defiance of Soviet repression.

Rostropovich stirred souls with playing that was both intense and seemingly effortless. He fought for the rights of Soviet-era dissidents and later triumphantly played Bach suites below the crumbling Berlin Wall.

In his last public appearance, at his birthday celebration in the Kremlin on March 27, Rostropovich was frail but still able to show his capacity for joy and generosity.

"I feel myself the happiest man in the world," he said. "I will be even more happy if this evening will be pleasant for you."

Spokeswoman Natalia Dollezhal confirmed Rostropovich's death, but would not immediately give details. The composer, who returned to Russia last month after years of living in Paris, had suffered from intestinal cancer.

And I thought I had it rough

ZUI this post of Tam's.

26 April 2007

Croix de Guerre: L. V. Rolfe

LILIAN VERA ROLFE

Assistant Section Officer, Women's Auxiliary Air Force; attached Special Operations Executive

Born: 26 April 1914, Paris, France

Citation: Jeune anglais volontaire pour remplir des missions en France fut déposée près d'Orléans par Lysander, le 5 mai 1944 pour assurer les liaisons radio d'un maquis avec l'E.M. F.F.I.
Bien qui la région fut très controlée par l'ennemi, elle parvint grâce à ses solides connaissances techniques et à son beau sangfroid à transmettre durant deux mois des messages réguliers qui permirent l'armement des maquis de la région, par parachutages; après l'arrestation de son chef, elle n'en continua pas moins courageusement son travail au milieu du danger croissant.
Fut elle-même arrêtée le 3 juillet 1944, renvoyée à Fresnes puis déportée en Allemagne.
Reste un vivant symbole de l'amitié Franco-Britannique.


"A young Englishwoman who volunteered to undertake missions in France and was dropped near Orleans from a Lysander on 5 May 1944 to secure radio links between the maquis and the E.M. F.F.I.
Although the region was fully controlled by the enemy, she succeeded, thanks to her good technical knowledge and presence of mind, in transmitting regular messages for two months, which led to the arming of the maquis of the region by parachute drops; after the arrest of her superior officer she courageously continued her work in the midst of increasing danger.
She was herself arrested on 3rd July 1944, sent to Fresnes and then deported to Germany.
She remains a living symbol of Franco-British friendship."

This day in history: 26 Apr

1607: English colonists, en route to found the Jamestown settlement, made landfall at Cape Henry, Virginia.

1805: Meriwether Lewis and William Clark reached the mouth of the Yellowstone River, in what is now western North Dakota.

1865: John Wilkes Booth was killed by Union soldiers led by Lieutenant Edward Doherty, 16th New York Cavalry Regiment.

1915: Second Lieutenant William Rhodes-Moorhouse, 2 Squadron Royal Flying Corps, set off on a bombing mission against the German-held rail junction at Courtrai, Belgium. His approach took him through heavy ground-fire; his aircraft was badly damaged, and he suffered a severe wound in the thigh, but made a successful bombing run. He managed to fly back to base and insisted on making his report before receiving medical treatment. He died of his wounds the next day. His posthumous Victoria Cross was the first VC awarded for air action. Five other men - two in Belgium, three at Gallipoli - also were awarded the VC for their actions that day.

1933: The Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo) was established.








1937: Guernica, Spain was bombed by the German Luftwaffe.



1962: Ranger 4, which had been launched from Cape Canaveral on 23 April, crash-landed on the Moon.

1964: The nations of Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to form Tanzania.

1986: A nuclear reactor accident occurred at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, in the Ukraine*.

In addition to Booth (1838-1865), Ludwig Freiherr von der Tann (1815-1881), Gypsy Rose Lee (1911/1914–1970), Irene Ryan (1902–1973), "Count" Basie (1904–1984), Broderick Crawford (1911-1986), Lucille Ball (1911–1989) and Maria Schell (1926-2005) died on this date.



And happy birthday to Marie de' Medici (1573–1642), Esek Hopkins (1718–1802), Emma, Lady Hamilton (1765–1815), John James Audubon (1785–1851), Frederick Law Olmsted (1822–1903), Rudolf Hess (1894–1987), Ernst Udet (1896–1941), A E van Vogt (1912–2000), Lilian Rolfe (1914-1945), Carol Burnett (1933-TBD), Jet Li (1963-TBD) and Jessica Lynch (1983-TBD).


* Yes, I know - it's officially "Ukraine," not "the Ukraine." So sue me.

22 April 2007

Victoria Cross: L. A. Trigg

LLOYD ALLAN TRIGG, DFC

Flying Officer, Royal New Zealand Air Force; 200 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Born: 5 June 1914, Houhora, New Zealand

Citation: Flying Officer Trigg had rendered outstanding service on convoy escort and anti-submarine duties. He had completed 46 operational sorties and had invariably displayed skill and courage of a very high order.
One day in August, 1943, Flying Officer Trigg undertook, as captain and pilot, a patrol in a Liberator although he had not previously made any operational sorties in that type of aircraft. After searching for 8 hours, a surfaced U-boat was sighted.
Flying Officer Trigg immediately prepared to attack. During the approach the aircraft received many hits from the submarine's anti-aircraft guns and burst into flames, which quickly enveloped the tail.
The moment was critical. Flying Officer Trigg could have broken off the engagement and made a forced landing in the sea. But if he continued the attack the aircraft would present a "no deflection" target to deadly accurate anti-aircraft fire, and every second spent in the air would increase the extent and intensity of the flames and diminish his chances of survival.
There could have been no hesitation or doubt in his mind. He maintained his course in spite of the already precarious condition of his aircraft and executed a masterly attack. Skimming over the U-boat at less than 50 feet, with anti-aircraft fire entering his opened bomb doors, Flying Officer Trigg dropped his bombs on and around the U-boat where they exploded with devastating effect. A short distance further on the Liberator dived into the sea with her gallant captain and crew.
The U-boat sank within 20 minutes and some of the crew were picked up later in a rubber dinghy that had broken loose from the Liberator.
The Battle of the Atlantic has yielded many fine stories of air attacks on underwater craft, but Flying Officer Trigg's exploit stands out as an epic of grim determination and high courage. His was the path of duty that leads to glory.

(London Gazette Issue 36230 dated 2 Nov 1943, published 29 Oct 1943.)




Note: Since Trigg's aircrew were all killed, there were no friendly witnesses to this action. There were seven survivors from the submarine (U-468), however, including its CO, Oblt z S Klemens Schamong, and Trigg's award was based on their testimony. His was the only Victoria Cross awarded to an Allied serviceman in either World War I or II solely on the recommendation by the enemy.

Medal of Honor: F. T. Fisher

FREDERICK THOMAS FISHER

Gunner's Mate First Class, US Navy; USS Philadelphia (C 4)

Born: 3 Jun 1872, England
Died: Unknown

Citation: On board the U.S.S. Philadelphia, Samoa, 1 April 1899. Serving in the presence of the enemy on this date, Fisher distinguished himself by his conduct.

21 April 2007

Little old beauty queens with guns

Only one actually, but.... ZUI this article from Yahoo! News:
Venus Ramey, 82, confronted a man on her farm in south-central Kentucky last week after she saw her dog run into a storage building where thieves had previously made off with old farm equipment.

Ramey said the man told her he would leave. "I said, 'Oh, no you won't,' and I shot their tires so they couldn't leave," Ramey said.

She had to balance on her walker as she pulled out a snub-nosed .38-caliber handgun.

"I didn't even think twice. I just went and did it," she said. "If they'd even dared come close to me, they'd be 6 feet under by now."

Miss Ramey, born in Kentucky but representing the District of Columbia, was chosen as Miss America in 1944 - the first redhead to win the title.

20 April 2007

"Paul Revere's Ride"

Wednesday was 18 April, and I'm sure everyone remembers what happened 132 years ago on that date. I'm probably not the only one who's thinking about the following poem today, but here it is anyway:

Paul Revere's Ride

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.




He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."


Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.


Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.


Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,--
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.


Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,--
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.


Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.


A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.


It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer's dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.



It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.


It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.


You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,---
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.


So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)


Tourists, arriving

Back in the days before pier security was tightened up, we used to get the occasional person (or few) dropping by and asking for a tour of the boat. Sometimes it would be a fellow submariner, from a different class of boat; other times it would be a skimmer, or perhaps a member of one of the other services. In Groton, SubScol students were fairly common.

The POOD would call below to get permission from the SDO, and the SDO would usually say yes, provided a tour guide could be found. I was almost always willing to volunteer; in part because I was proud of my boat and of what I did, and in part because I remembered two young men who were willing to take the time to give me the same courtesy. (One was on a diesel boat - Blueback, I think - when I was going through RM 'A' school in San Diego; the other was on HMS Spartan, which spent a week or so in Groton when I was in SubScol.)

I'd usually take 45 minutes to an hour to give a tour. I'd start out topside, talking about the ship's size and pointing out whatever masts and antennas* happened to be raised. Then we'd go below and I'd show them the CO's stateroom, Control and the Nav Centre, and let them look through the deadlight into the fan room. Down to middle level for the crew's mess and galley, Countermeasures (where I'd talk about the doc), berthing (where if possible I'd open a convenient bunkpan to show how much storage room we didn't have for personal effects), the weirdroom and officers' staterooms, and the goat locker. Then down to lower level for the machinery room and the torpedo room. And somewhere along the way I'd pause to talk about the EAB system and how it worked, and about other DC gear.

Skimmers often have (or at least use to have) open house, where they'll throw the boat open for the general public to come aboard and look around. I've only seen a submarine do that once.

We were doing our homeport shift from Norfolk to Pearl, and along the way we stopped off for a namesake-city visit to Olympia, Washington. Just getting there was a trip in itself. On Thursday we transited the Strait of Juan de Fuca, mooring for the night in Seattle. (Cinderella liberty!) We got under way early the next day for a full-day transit of Puget Sound, arriving in Olympia early in the evening.

Back in those days the city of Olympia loved us.** Official (and unofficial) representatives of the city had been at the commissioning ceremony, and when we pulled in to Roosevelt Roads and St Croix during our first underway as USS (vice PCU) Olympia, there were Olympia citizens waiting on the piers.

To start with, they had arranged a big party for us in a warehouse not far from our berth, though I was unable to attend as I had duty the first night in.

There were a few dozen protesters on the pier when we pulled in, waving signs and chanting ("Take the toys away from the boys!"). I had the first watch up in the bridge, with an M-16, and I sat up there and chanted along with them ("More nukes, less kooks!") Besides the protesters and the party-goers, there were also quite a few people who just came down to the pier to have a look at the boat.

The next morning I went up topside to have a look around in the daylight. The protesters were gone, but they'd left some of their signs propped up to remind us of their displeasure. One of these signs caught my eye, and I wasted no time in going below and dragging a couple of my nuke buddies up to see it: WE WELCOME THE PEOPLE BUT NOT THE NUKES. ("See, Joel? Even the damn' hippies know the difference between nukes and real people!")

After duty-section turnover I went out with a handful of others (all nukes, as I recall), looking for breakfast. We found it in a hotel restaurant, and after eating, we went next door to the hotel bar. There were seven or eight of us, and we hadn't gotten three steps inside the door when a man seated at the bar looked up at us and announced, "I'm buying these boys a drink." The bartender bought the second round, and I never did see who paid for the third round; the bartender just came over and started setting glasses in front of us again. I figured if I wanted to see much of the town, I'd better get out of there quickly, so I drank the third one and left.

It was like that the entire time we were there - almost impossible for us to buy our own drinks. I don't think many people wore civvies the entire time we were there; most of us wore our dress blues whenever we went out into town. And the response was amazing: People driving by would honk and wave. Or they'd pull over and ask if we knew where we were going. If not, did we want directions? If we did know, did we want a ride? If we didn't care, would we like to go with them? There were reports of crewmembers being taken out to people's cabins, deep-sea fishing, up for rides in private planes.

And the party the first night wasn't all. Sunday afternoon there was a parade, followed by a reception at the governor's mansion. And Monday was brewery day. The Olympia brewery loved us, too; during new construction they'd shipped us several cases of beer mugs, enough for every man in the crew to get one, and they'd provided some nice glasses for the commissioning banquet, too. When we went out to tour the brewery, we discovered that they had some keychains for us, engraved with with out names and ranks, and the date. And it wasn't a matter of telling them your name, and then waiting while they did the engraving. No, someone had sent them a copy of the sailing list, and the keychains were all ready and waiting; all we had to do was dig through the bowl to find the right one.

And then there were the tourists. The decision had been made to throw the boat open to the public. Members of the duty section would be posted at various locations throughout the forward compartment, and the visitors would come below and be directed along a set route. At each stop, the tour guide posted there would give a brief talk, and then the people would be given a chance to buy something from the ship's store before being escorted off the boat. Officially, the tours ran from 0800 until 1700, but....

To begin with, any time you went up topside, day or night, you'd find people - plural - standing there, just looking at the boat. By the time duty-section turnover started (0700, if I recall correctly), they'd be queued up a block long. So the duty officer would sigh, and as soon as turnover was complete, say, "Okay - take stations and start bringing them down."

By 0900, the queue was a good two blocks long. And it stayed that way. All day. Around 1645 we'd send some poor sap from the duty section out to the end of the queue to start turning people away. "We're sorry. We know you've been waiting a long time, but we have to stop the tours for the night. Maybe you can come back tomorrow...."

And still they'd keep coming. The official tours stopped, but crewmembers would be bringing folks down for private tours. Finally, about 2200, the SDO would put his foot down and say, "That's it - no more tours." And the last tour would finally go down about midnight.

I was responsible for a few of those private tours, too. I was sitting up in the bridge with my M-16, mostly watching the water for swimmers or other threats, but also keeping an eye on the crowd on the pier, and I noticed a cute young lady sitting on a bollard looking at the boat. She sat there for what must have been two hours, just looking, and just before I was due to get relieved, she stood up and started to walk away. So I called out, "Miss!" She looked back, and I asked, "Would you like a tour?" She nodded, so I told her to wait, I'd be getting relieved in fiteen minutes or so and would be happy to provide. So she did, and I did. (Her name was Tina, and I got several letters from her over the next few years; in fact, I believe she was the one who sent me the teddy bear you can see in the picture here.)

As far as I know, I was the one to give the final tour during that visit - at 0200 Wednesday morning, to two young ladies who I'm pretty sure had been amongst the protesters the night we pulled in. They asked a few leading questions ("Is the crew politically aware?"), but they seemed to be genuinely interested in what I was showing them. Though I'm not quite sure how interesting they would have found it if I hadn't been standing right in front of the 21-Man door when a certain ET2 started to walk out, stark naked, on his way to the head....

Wednesday morning we were up early to repeat the trip in reverse, stopping for another night in Seattle before continuing on up to spend a few days in Nanoose Bay, BC.

The semi-official estimate I heard was that we put around 5000 people through the boat during that port call. And I've never seen anything like it since.


* According to the book we used when I was learning antenna theory in SETTS, radios have antennas; insects have antennae.

** Though it seems they have undergone a somewhat drastic change of opinion since then.

19 April 2007

Wonder of wonders, Carnegie of Carnegies

I've mentioned the Newbery Medal a time or two. It's awarded annually to the author of "the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children," as chosen by the Association for Library Service to Children (a division of the American Library Association). The first medal was presented in 1922, for The Story of Mankind, by Hendrik Willem van Loon; this year's winner was The Higher Power of Lucky, by Susan Patron.

The Brits have a similar award: The Carnegie Medal, which is presented annually by The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) "for an outstanding book for children and young people." It was first awarded in 1937 for Pigeon Post, by Arthur Ransome; last year's winner was Tamar, by Mal Peet. (The shortlist for this year's award was announced recently, and the winner will presumably be announced sometime soon.)

(Incidentally, both medals are presented for the best children's book of the previous year. However, the American medals are referred to by the year they were awarded; thus, the book which was written last year and received the medal is referred to as the 2007 winner. The Brits, however, seem to refer to them by the year of publication, so the book which was written last year and will receive the medal is referred to as the 2006 winner.)

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Carnegie Medal, and CILIP are selecting a "Carnegie of Carnegies" - the best book of the 70 best books. A panel of judges have selected a shortlist of ten books from amongst the medal winners, and are asking the public to vote for their choice. ZUI this article from The Independent:


One is a cosy bedtime read about a family of tiny people who live beneath the floor; another takes you into the world of a 14-year-old heroin user; and a third enacts an elaborate fantasy of demons and witch-clans.

They are among 10 books today nominated as the most important children's novels of the past 70 years, and encompass gritty themes of murder, war and illness as well as the deeds of fairies, angels and strange beings.

Philip Pullman's Northern Lights was chosen alongside classics such as Mary Norton's The Borrowers and Alan Garner's The Owl Service by judges of the CILIP Carnegie Medal for children's literature, as a kind of "Carnegie of Carnegies" to celebrate its 70th anniversary.

The list includes Melvin Burgess's Junk, about young heroin users who run away to live in a squat, which won the Carnegie Medal in 1996.

Other groundbreaking novels include Eve Garnett's 1937 novel The Family From One End Street, the first book of its kind to portray a working-class family.

The complete list can be found here in the CILIP press release. I'm still trying to figure out how to actually vote, though.... (Just for the record, I've read six of the 67*, and two of the 10.)

Incidentally, there are parallel awards for the best picture book published each year. The American award is the Caldecott Medal, first given in 1938 for Animals of the Bible, A Picture Book, illustrated by Dorothy P. Lathrop with text selected by Helen Dean Fish.

The British Kate Greenaway Medal was first presented in 1957 for Tim All Alone, by Edward Ardizzone.




H/T to Big A little a.


* There have been three years - 1943, 1945 and 1966 - when no prize was given, because "no book was considered suitable."

RIP: Brant Parker

I noted the death of Johnny Hart - the creator of "B.C." and co-creator of "The Wizard of Id" - last week. This week, it's the turn of his partner, who drew the strip while Hart wrote the jokes.

ZUI this article from Canada.com:
Brant Parker, who for decades illustrated "The Wizard of Id" comic strip, has died just days after the passing of his collaborator on the comic.

Parker was 86. He died Sunday [15 April] at a nursing facility in Lynchburg [Virginia] from complications of Alzheimer's disease and a stroke he suffered last year, said Kathy Kei, an editor of "The Wizard of Id" at Creators Syndicate. Eight days earlier, the strip's writer, cartoonist Johnny Hart, died of a stroke at his storyboard, said his wife. He was 76.

The pair collaborated on the strip for more than 30 years, beginning in 1964, each winning the National Cartoonist Society's highest honour, the Reuben Award for Cartoonist of the Year.

In 1997, Parker handed the illustration of the cartoon over to his son, Jeff Parker, who continued working with Hart by fax.

Creators.com has this to say:
"Brant was a truly innovative mind in the comics world," said Creators Syndicate President Richard S. Newcombe. "The artistry he displayed in 'The Wizard of Id' was remarkable for its consistency and creativity. I join millions of 'Wizard' fans in giving thanks to Brant for being an inspiration to comic strip artists around the world for so many years."

Brant and his longtime friend and collaborator Johnny Hart started "The Wizard of Id" in 1964, and Brant won the National Cartoonists Society's (NCS) Best Humor Strip award a record five times, including back-to-back years in 1982-83. In 1984, he also won The Reuben Award, which is the NCS's highest honor.

And from the New York Times:
Brant Julius Parker was born in Los Angeles on Aug. 26, 1920. He attended the Otis Art Institute in the late 1930s, then worked at the Disney Studios until 1942, when he joined the Navy. After World War II, he returned to Disney, where he worked on Donald Duck cartoons and the half-hour animated film “Mickey and the Beanstalk.”

Mr. Parker married Mary Louise Sweet in 1947 and moved to Binghamton, N.Y., where he was a political cartoonist for The Binghamton Press.

In 1950, while judging a high school art contest, Mr. Parker met and befriended a contestant, Mr. Hart. Fifteen years later, Mr. Hart asked Mr. Parker to collaborate on “The Wizard.” They worked together until 1997, when Mr. Parker handed his pen to his son.

In addition to his wife and his son Jeff, Mr. Parker is survived by another son, James; three daughters, Julie Shackleton, Laurie Tannenbaum and Kathie Borkowski; a brother, John; 13 grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.

I don't think any of those articles mentions it, but Parker was also one of the co-creators of "Crock," the Beau Geste parody.



RIP: Kitty Carlisle Hart

Wow. This one comes under the heading of "I didn't even know she was still alive!"














ZUI this article from ABC News:
Kitty Carlisle Hart, whose long career spanned Broadway, opera, television and film, including the classic Marx Brothers movie "A Night at the Opera," died after a battle with pneumonia, her son said Wednesday. She was 96.

"She passed away peacefully" Tuesday night [17 April] in her Manhattan apartment, said Christopher Hart, a director-writer-producer who was at her side. "She had such a wonderful life and a great long run. It was a blessing."

Hart was touring the country in her autobiographical one-woman show, "Here's to Life," until the pneumonia struck around Christmas, her son said. Broadway's theaters planned to dim their marquee lights Wednesday in honor of the longtime patron of the arts.

The Dallas Morning News has this to say:
Ms. Hart had appeared for years on the popular game show To Tell the Truth as a celebrity panelist. The entertainer was also a tireless advocate for the arts, serving 20 years on the New York State Council on the Arts. In 1991, she received the National Medal of Arts from President George Bush.

Well known for her starring role as Rosa Castaldi in the 1935 movie A Night at the Opera, her other film credits include She Loves Me Not and Here Is My Heart, both opposite Bing Crosby; Woody Allen's Radio Days; and Six Degrees of Separation.

She began her acting career on Broadway in Champagne Sec, and went on to appear in many other Broadway productions, including the 1984 revival of On Your Toes.

You can read more about her at NNDB and IMDb.

I've never seen A Night at the Opera, but I used to love To Tell the Truth when I was a kid. The contestants as I remember them were Kitty Carlisle, Tom Poston, Peggy Cass and Orson Bean, with of course Bud Collyer as the host.* "...and I'm Bud Collyer, and welcome to To Tell the Truth. Panel, these three men all claim to be...."


* The photo above shows (left to right) Cullen, Cass, Joe Garagiola and Carlisle in the '70s version of To Tell the Truth.

18 April 2007

1956 vs 2006

Proposed: That the 1950s were repressive, staid, homogenizing and uncreative.

Compare and contrast the school environments of 1956 and 2006.


Answer: ZUI this.


H/T Mike Lief.

This day in history: 18 Apr

1775: "One if by land and two if by sea...." Two lanterns were hung in the steeple of the Old North Church in Boston, Massachusetts; Paul Revere, William Dawes and Samuel Prescott rode to warn of the impending arrests of Samuel Adams and John Hancock.



1899: St. Andrew's Ambulance Association was granted a Royal Charter by Queen Victoria.

1906: An earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 7.9 destroyed much of San Francisco, California.

1915: French fighter pilot Roland Garros was shot down and captured by the Germans.

1942: Sixteen B-25B Mitchell bombers, led by Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle and launched from the carrier USS Hornet (CV 8), bombed Tokyo. The raid actually did little material damage, but it boosted American morale and caused the Japanese to recall some fighters for homeland defence.

1943: US P-38G Lightning fighters, flying a mission called Operation PEACOCK, shot down a Mitsubishi G4M1 "Betty" bomber carrying Fleet Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto over Bougainville, in the Solomon Islands. 1st Lt Rex T. Barber, USAAC, is credited with the kill, though Capt Thomas G. Lanphier Jr also claimed it.

1946: The League of Nations was dissolved and its assets were transferred to the United Nations.

1983: 63 people were killed when a suicide bomber destroyed the United States embassy in Beirut, Lebanon.

In addition to Admiral Yamamoto (1884-1943), Erasmus Darwin (1731–1802), Ernie Pyle (1900–1945), Albert Einstein (1879–1955) and Thor Heyerdahl (1914-2002) died on this date.


And happy birthday to Lucrezia Borgia (1480-1519), Franz von Suppé (1819–1895), Clarence Darrow (1857-1938), Leopold Stokowski (1882–1977), Pigmeat Markham (1904-1981), Hayley Mills (1946-TBD) and Rick Moranis (1953-TBD)

15 April 2007

This day in history: 15 Apr

1450: A French force led by the Comte de Clermont achieved a decisive victory over the English at Formigny, near Carentan, France.

1865: Abraham Lincoln died after being shot the previous evening by John Wilkes Booth; Andrew Johnson became the 17th President of the United States.

1912: RMS Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic; some 1,500 people died.


1920: Anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti murdered two men whilst robbing a shoe factory.

1942: The George Cross was awarded to "the Island Fortress of Malta" by King George VI.


1945: Bergen-Belsen concentration camp was liberated by the 63rd Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery. Anne Frank was one of the estimated 50,000 people who had died in this camp.

1955: The first franchised McDonald's restaurant was opened in Des Plaines, Illinois, by Ray Kroc.

In addition to Lincoln (1809-1865), Filippo Brunelleschi (1377–1446), Madame de Pompadour (1721–1764), Wallace Beery (1885–1949), Raymond Bailey (1904–1980), Corrie ten Boom (1892–1983), Greta Garbo (1905-1990), Leslie Charteris (1907–1993) and Edward Gorey (1925–2000) died on this date.






And happy birthday to Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519), Catherine I of Russia (1684–1727), Leonhard Euler (1707–1783), Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland (1721–1765), Charles Willson Peale (1741–1827), Sir James Clark Ross (1800–1862), Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975), Corrie ten Boom (1892–1983), Michael Ansara (1922-TBD), Sir Neville Marriner CBE (1924-TBD), Roy Clark (1933-TBD), Elizabeth Montgomery (1933–1995), Jeffrey Archer, Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare (1940-TBD), Emma Thompson (1959-TBD) and Emma Watson (1990-TBD).

Victoria Cross: I. E. Fraser and J. J. Magennis

IAN EDWARD FRASER, DSC

Lieutenant, Royal Naval Reserve; commanding HM Midget Submarine XE-3

Born: 18 December 1920, Ealing, London
Died: 1 September 2008, Wirral, Merseyside

Citation: Lieutenant Fraser commanded His Majesty's Midget Submarine XE-3 in a successful attack on a Japanese heavy cruiser of the Atago class at her moorings in Johore Strait, Singapore, on 31st July, 1945. During the long approach up the Singapore Straits XE-3 deliberately left the believed safe channel and entered the mined waters to avoid suspected hydrophone posts. The target was aground, or nearly aground, both fore and aft, and only under the midships portion was there just sufficient water for XE-3 to place herself under the cruiser. For forty minutes XE-3 pushed her way along the seabed until finally, Lieutenant Fraser managed to force her right under the centre of the cruiser. Here he placed the limpets and dropped his main side charge. Great difficulty was experienced in extricating the craft after the attack had been completed, but finally XE-3 was clear, and commenced her long return journey out to sea. The courage and determination of Lieutenant Fraser are beyond all praise. Any man not possessed of his relentless determination to achieve his objective in full, regardless of all consequences, would have dropped his side charge alongside the target instead of persisting until he had forced his submarine right under the cruiser. The approach and withdrawal entailed a passage of 80 miles through water which had been mined by both the enemy and ourselves, past hydrophone positions, over loops and controlled minefields, and through an antisubmarine boom.

(London Gazette Issue 37346 dated 13 Nov 1945, published 9 Nov 1945.)


JAMES JOSEPH MAGENNIS

Temporary Acting Leading Seaman, Royal Navy; HM Midget Submarine XE-3

Born: 22 October 1919, Belfast, Ireland
Died: 12 February 1986, Halifax, Yorkshire

Citation: Leading Seaman Magennis served as Diver in His Majesty's Midget Submarine XE-3 for her attack on 31 July 1945 on a Japanese cruiser of the Atago class. Because XE-3 was tightly jammed under the target the diver's hatch could not be fully opened, and Magennis had to squeeze himself through the narrow space available.
He experienced great difficulty in placing the limpets on the bottom of the cruiser owing both to the foul state of the cruisers bottom and to the pronounced slope upon which the limpets would not hold. Before a limpet could be placed therefore Magennis had thoroughly to scrape the area clean of barnacles, and in order to secure the limpets he had to tie them in pairs by a line passing under the cruiser keel. This was very tiring work for a diver, and he was moreover handicapped by a steady leakage of oxygen which was ascending in bubbles to the surface. A lesser man would have been content to place a few limpets and then to return to the craft. Magennis, however, persisted until he had placed his full outfit before returning to the craft in an exhausted condition. Shortly after withdrawing Lt. Fraser endeavoured to jettison his limpet carriers, but one of these would not release itself and fall clear of the craft. Despite his exhaustion, his oxygen leak and the fact that there was every probability of his being sighted, Magennis at once volunteered to leave the craft and free the carrier rather than allow a less experienced diver to undertake the job. After seven minutes of nerve-racking work he succeeded in releasing the carrier. Magennis displayed very great courage and devotion to duty and complete disregard for his own safety.

(London Gazette Issue 37346 dated 13 Nov 1945, published 9 Nov 1945.)


Note: The cruiser which XE-3 attacked was the Takao.
Temporary Sub-Lieutenant William J L Smith RNZNVR, of XE-3, and Lieutenant John E Smart RNVR, of XE-1 (which had accompanied XE-3 on this mission), were made Companions of the Distinguished Service Order. Temporary Leading Seaman Walter H A Pomeroy and Engine Room Artificer Fourth Class Henry J Fishleigh, who served as crew on XE-3 and XE-1, were awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.



Update 1123 3 Sep 08: Added death date for Lieut Fraser.

Medal of Honor: F. W. Mausert III

FREDERICK WILLIAM MAUSERT III

Sergeant, US Marine Corps; Company B, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Rein.)

Born: 2 May 1930, Cambridge, New York
Died: 12 September 1951, Songnap-yong, Korea

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a squad leader in Company B, in action against enemy aggressor forces [at Songnap-yong, Korea, on 12 September 1951]. With his company pinned down and suffering heavy casualties under murderous machine gun, rifle, artillery, and mortar fire laid down from heavily fortified, deeply entrenched hostile strongholds on Hill 673, Sgt. Mausert unhesitatingly left his covered position and ran through a heavily mined and fire-swept area to bring back 2 critically wounded men to the comparative safety of the lines. Staunchly refusing evacuation despite a painful head wound sustained during his voluntary act, he insisted on remaining with his squad and, with his platoon ordered into the assault moments later, took the point position and led his men in a furious bayonet charge against the first of a literally impregnable series of bunkers. Stunned and knocked to the ground when another bullet struck his helmet, he regained his feet and resumed his drive, personally silencing the machine gun and leading his men in eliminating several other emplacements in the area. Promptly reorganizing his unit for a renewed fight to the final objective on top of the ridge, Sgt. Mausert boldly left his position when the enemy's fire gained momentum and, making a target of himself, boldly advanced alone into the face of the machine gun, drawing the fire away from his men and enabling them to move into position to assault. Again severely wounded when the enemy's fire found its mark, he still refused aid and continued spearheading the assault to the topmost machine gun nest and bunkers, the last bulwark of the fanatic aggressors. Leaping into the wall of fire, he destroyed another machine gun with grenades before he was mortally wounded by bursting grenades and machine gun fire. Stouthearted and indomitable, Sgt. Mausert, by his fortitude, great personal valor, and extraordinary heroism in the face of almost certain death, had inspired his men to sweep on, overrun and finally secure the objective. His unyielding courage throughout reflects the highest credit upon himself and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

13 April 2007

"The Gashleycrumb Tinies"

This Sunday - 15 Apr 07 - will be the seventh anniversary of Edward Gorey's death. And in honour thereof....
A is for AMY who fell down the stairs
B is for BASIL assaulted by bears
C is for CLARA who wasted away
D is for DESMOND thrown out of a sleigh

-------

W is for WINNIE embedded in ice
X is for XERXES devoured by mice
Y is for YORRICK whose head was knocked in
Z is for ZILLAH who drank too much gin

Read the rest of it - plus a biography of the author, who is perhaps best known for his animated introduction to the PBS series Mystery! - here.

12 April 2007

RIP: Kurt Vonnegut

ZUI this article from the Chicago Tribune:
Kurt Vonnegut, whose dark comic talent and urgent moral vision in novels like "Slaughterhouse-Five," "Cat's Cradle" and "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater" caught the temper of his times and the imagination of a generation, died Wednesday night in New York City. He was 84.

His death was reported by Morgan Entrekin, a longtime family friend, who said Vonnegut suffered brain injuries as a result of a fall several weeks ago.

-------

His novels -- 14 in all -- were alternate universes, filled with topsy-turvy images and populated by races of his own creation, like the Tralfamadorians and the Mercurian Harmoniums. He invented phenomena like chrono-synclastic infundibula (places in the universe where all truths fit neatly together) as well as religions, like the Church of God the Utterly Indifferent and Bokononism.

From the Detroit Free Press:
“He was sort of like nobody else,” said fellow author Gore Vidal. “Kurt was never dull.”

A self-described religious skeptic and freethinking humanist, Vonnegut used protagonists such as Billy Pilgrim and Eliot Rosewater as transparent vehicles for his points of view.

He lectured regularly, exhorting audiences to think for themselves and delighting in barbed commentary against the institutions he felt were dehumanizing people.

“He was a man who combined a wicked sense of humor and sort of steady moral compass, who was always sort of looking at the big picture of the things that were most important,” said Joel Bleifuss, editor of In These Times, a liberal magazine based in Chicago that featured Vonnegut articles.

And from the Columbus Ledger-Inquirer:
Despite his commercial success, Vonnegut battled depression throughout his life, and in 1984, he attempted suicide with pills and alcohol, joking later about how he botched the job.

"I think he was a man who combined a wicked sense of humor and sort of steady moral compass, who was always sort of looking at the big picture of the things that were most important," said Joel Bleifuss, editor of In These Times, a liberal magazine based in Chicago that featured Vonnegut articles.

His mother killed herself just before he left for Germany during World War II, where he was quickly taken prisoner during the Battle of the Bulge. He was being held in Dresden when Allied bombs created a firestorm that killed an estimated tens of thousands of people.

"The firebombing of Dresden explains absolutely nothing about why I write what I write and am what I am," Vonnegut wrote in "Fates Worse Than Death," his 1991 autobiography of sorts.

But he spent 23 years struggling to write about the ordeal, which he survived by huddling with other POW's inside an underground meat locker labeled slaughterhouse-five.

A list of his books can be found here. I've only read one of them - The Sirens of Titan - and I wasn't particularly impressed by it, but the man was still a big name in SF.

11 April 2007

Happy 107th birthday


US Navy Submarine Force

John Philip Holland

USS L-1 (SS 40)

USS Squalus (SS 192)

USS Wahoo (SS 238)

USS Albacore (AGSS 569)

USS Nautilus (SSN 571)

USS George Washington (SSBN 598)

USS Olympia (SSN 717)

USS Ohio (SSGN 726)

USS Virginia (SSN 774)

Surface! Surface! Surface!

USS Savannah (AS 8), USS Bushnell (AS 2), USS Beaver (AS 5) and USS Camden (AS 6) with tended units in Panama, ca 1923.

USS Simon Lake (AS 33) with tended units in the Holy Loch