31 December 2008


The 2009 New Year Honours List is out. Reading through it, I find:

Knights Bachelor

Terence David John PRATCHETT, OBE
Author. For services to literature.
(Salisbury, Wiltshire)

Order of the British Empire
Officers of the Order of the British Empire

Jane Mary, Mrs GARDAM
Author. For services to Literature.
Members of the Order of the British Empire
Co-Founder, Bookstart Project. For services to Children's Reading.
(Barnet, Hertfordshire)

Sir Terence, of course, is the author of the Discworld series, including The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, winner of the 2001 Carnegie Medal. Jane Gardam OBE is the author of several children's books, including The Hollow Land, 1981 winner of the Whitbread Children's Book Award. Wendy Cooling MBE has edited numerous books for children. Bookstart is a books-for-babies programmme, which delivers free books to babies and toddlers in the UK.

The names of military personnel (and MOD civilians) included on the Honours List can be found here.

(Left: Insignia of a knight bachelor. Right: Emblem of a member of the Order of the British Empire.)

29 December 2008

The Cybils: 2008 long lists

It just occurred to me that, while the nominations for the 2008 Cybils (the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards) closed some time back, I never did post the list, Therefore....

The categories, with links to lists of nominees, are:
Easy Readers: 31 books
Fantasy & Science Fiction (Middle Grade): 63 books
Fantasy & Science Fiction (Young Adult): 98 books
Fiction Picture Books: 186 books
Graphic Novels (Middle Grade): 25 books
Graphic Novels (Young Adult): 24 books
Middle Grade Fiction: 129 books
Non-Fiction Middle Grade/Young Adult Books: 57 books
Non-Fiction Picture Books: 61 books
Poetry: 31 books
Young Adult Fiction: 136 books

Reviews of many of the books nominated can be found on the Cybils website.

The short lists are to be announced on 1 January, and then the winners on 14 February.

RIP: Lt Col Eric Wilson VC

Pte J G Beharry VC and Lt Col E C T Wilson VC

Lt Col Eric Charles Twelves Wilson VC
2 Oct 1912 - 23 Dec 2008

ZUI this article from The Telegraph:
Lieutenant-Colonel Eric Wilson, who died on December 23 aged 96, was awarded a Victoria Cross for his gallant defence against a large Italian force during the East African campaign in August 1940; the award was originally posthumous since Wilson was thought to have been killed in action.

When the Italians, with 350,000 troops in Abyssinia and Eritrea, invaded British Somaliland, which was defended by 1,500 men, they threatened control of the entrance to the Red Sea and British positions from Aden to Suez. As they headed for Berbera, on the coast, a meagre Allied force began to search for a defensive position. Most of the terrain was flat, but parallel to the sea lay the rugged Golis hills, with an 8,000ft pass, where the Allies chose to make their stand.

Wilson, an acting captain with the Somaliland Camel Corps, was given the vital task of siting the corps' machine guns on four small hills of the Tug Argan Pass – named Black, Knobbly, Mill and Observation – though they were too widely separated to cover their entire vista.


On recovering consciousness he emerged from the crevasse which had sheltered the gun to find dead bodies all around, including that of his terrier. On walking down he met a white NCO, with whom he was then captured by the Italians.

When news of the action reached London, Wilson was believed to have been killed in the final assault, and his VC was gazetted two months later. But after medical treatment, he was put in a prison camp at Adi Ugri in Eritrea. Four months later a captured RAF officer was surprised to meet the "late" Captain Wilson, and informed him of his award. A few weeks later preparations were almost complete for a mass escape by tunnel when the prisoners woke up to find all their captors but the commandant gone before the arrival of British troops.


Eric Charles Twelves Wilson, the son of the rector of Hunsdon, Hertfordshire, was born on October 2 1912 at Sandown on the Isle of Wight. His interest in East Africa was kindled by his grandfather, who had founded the Church Missionary Society in Buganda.

At Marlborough, where Eric was a fine athlete, he discovered a statue of Richard Corfield, who had perished fighting with Somalis against the Mad Mullah in 1913. He decided on a military life and, despite wearing spectacles, passed the Sandhurst entrance exam while still at school.

In 1933 he was commissioned into the East Surrey Regiment. Four years later he volunteered for the King's African Rifles, supporting the colonial administration upcountry in Tanganyika and became a Nyassa speaker.

In 1939 he was delighted to be ordered to form 75 Somali conscripts into a company of machine-gunners with the Somaliland Camel Corps; the Somalis considered camels too precious to ride, keeping them for their milk and for transporting the Vickers machine guns.


After recovering from his wounds at Tug Argan, Wilson served in North Africa as adjutant of the Long Range Desert Group, demonstrating a knowledge of the desert which greatly aided its work behind German lines.

He then served in Burma as second-in-command of the 11th King's African Rifles in the advance down the Kabaw Valley to the Chindwin. But after contracting scrub typhus he spent the rest of the war commanding an infantry training centre in Uganda.

Wilson retired from the Army in 1949 and became a colonial officer in Tanganyika (now Tanzania), where he became fluent in four Bantu languages before retiring with the granting of independence in 1961.


He married first, in 1943 (dissolved 1953), Ann Pleydell-Bouverie; they had two sons. He married secondly, in 1953, Angela Gordon, with whom he another son.

In retirement Wilson found himself increasingly sought after as the oldest VC. He told Private Johnson Beharry, of the 1st Battalion Princess of Wales's regiment, who won a VC in Iraq in 2005: "It will not make a difference to your life. You might get a few drinks, though."

There are now nine surviving VC holders:
WO Tul Bahadur Pun VC, 6th Gurkha Rifles - Burma, 1944
Flt Lt John A Cruickshank VC, RAFVR - North Atlantic, 1944
Hav Lachhiman Gurung VC, 8th Gurkha Rifles - Burma, 1945
Pte Edward Kenna VC, Australian Imperial Force - New Guinea, 1945
Sgt William Speakman VC, The Black Watch - Korea, 1951
Capt Ram Bahadur Limbu VC MVO, 10th Gurkha Rifles - Borneo, 1965
WO Keith Payne VC OAM, Australian Army - Vietnam, 1969
Pte Johnson G Beharry VC, Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment - Iraq, 2004
Cpl Bill H Apiata VC, New Zealand SAS - Afghanistan, 2004

******* *** *******


Lieutenant (Acting Captain), The East Surrey Regiment; attached Somaliland Camel Corps

Born: 2 October 1912, Sandown, Isle of Wight
Died: 23 December 2008

Citation: For most conspicuous gallantry on active service in Somaliland. Captain Wilson was in command of machine-gun posts manned by Somali soldiers in the key position of Observation Hill, a defended post in the defensive organisation of the Tug Argan Gap in British Somaliland.
The enemy attacked Observation Hill on August 11th, 1940. Captain Wilson and Somali gunners under his command beat off the attack and opened fire on the enemy troops attacking Mill Hill, another post within his range. He inflicted such heavy casualties that the enemy, determined to put his guns out of action, brought up a pack battery to within seven hundred yards, and scored two direct hits through the loopholes of his defences, which, bursting within the post, wounded Captain Wilson severely in the right shoulder and in the left eye, several of his team being also wounded. His guns were blown off their stands but he repaired and replaced them and, regardless of his wounds, carried on, whilst his Somali sergeant was killed beside him.
On August 12th and 14th the enemy again concentrated field artillery fire on Captain Wilson's guns, but he continued, with his wounds untended, to man them.
On August 15th two of his machine-gun posts were blown to pieces, yet Captain Wilson, now suffering from malaria in addition to wounds, still kept his own post in action.
The enemy finally over-ran the post at 5 p.m. on the 15th August when Captain Wilson, fighting to the last, was killed.

[London Gazette issue 34968 dated 14 Oct 1940, published 11 Oct 1940.]

Ministtry of Defence photograph © Crown Copyright/MOD 2005.

RIP: George Francis

George Rene Francis
6 Jun 1896 - 27 Dec 2008

ZUI this article from the Sacramento (CA) Bee:
George Rene Francis, the oldest man in America, who lived through 19 presidents and saw Babe Ruth swat a homer, died Saturday in a Sacramento nursing home. He was 112.

Mr. Francis, born June 6, 1896, in New Orleans, died of congestive heart failure in Eskaton Care Center Greenhaven, according to his family.

Mr. Francis, an African American who taught his daughter how to drive after she had to give up her bus seat to a white man, marveled recently at casting his vote for President-elect Barack Obama. Possibly the nation's oldest voter, he told The Bee then, "I think he's great, because he's black. Because the white people thought the Negro would never be promoted. I think it's beautiful."


Mr. Francis moved to Sacramento in 1949 in search of work. After a short career as a boxer, he became a chauffeur, an auto mechanic and a barber. His wife, Josephine, died in 1963 after 46 years of marriage. They had four children.

Mr. Francis, who was rejected by the Army during World War I because he couldn't carry a 50-pound pack on his 5-foot-6-inch frame, smoked cigars until he was 75 and got by on six hours' sleep.

He broke all the rules of healthy eating with a diet heavy on dairy and eggs and some lard sandwiches. He loved hot links, and Luigi's Pizza Parlor in Oak Park was a favorite haunt.

He is survived by four children, 19 grandchildren, and 30-plus great-grandchildren, his daughter said.

According to the Gerontology Research Group (GRG), Francis was the ninth-oldest person in the US at the time of his death. He was tied with Henry Allingham, of England, as the 19th-oldest person and the second-oldest man in the world.

The oldest man in the United States is now Walter Breuning of Montana (born 21 Sep 1896).

Mr Francis was the second supercentenarian listed by the GRG to die since the death of Catherine Hagel on 6 December, the other being Betty Rutherford of Arkansas (4 May 1898-11 Dec 2008). The GRG's list of living supercentenarians currently contains 91 people (82 females and 9 males), ranging from Maria de Jesus of Portugal (born 10 Sep 1893) to Andresa Guerrero-Ortiz of Spain (born 30 Nov 1898). Two of them (both women) live in California.

28 December 2008

Victoria Cross: W. Cosgrove


Corporal, 1st Battalion The Royal Munster Fusiliers

Born: 1 October 1888, Aghada, County Cork, Ireland
Died: 14 July 1936, London

Citation: For most conspicuous bravery in the leading of his section with great dash during our attack from the beach to the east of Cape Helles, on the Turkish positions, on 26th April, 1915.
Corporal Cosgrove on this occasion pulled down the posts of the enemy's high wire entanglements single-handed, notwithstanding a terrific fire from both front and flanks, thereby greatly contributing to the successful clearing of the heights.

(London Gazette Issue 29272 dated 23 Aug 1915, published 20 Aug 1915.)

Medal of Honor: D. E. Wayrynen


Specialist Fourth Class, US Army; 2d Battalion, 502d Infantry, 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division

Born: 18 January 1947, Moose Lake, Minnesota
Died: 18 May 1967, near Duc Pho, Quang Ngai Province, Vietnam

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp4c. Wayrynen distinguished himself with Company B, during combat operations [on 18 May 1967] near Duc Pho. His platoon was assisting in the night evacuation of the wounded from an earlier enemy contact when the lead man of the unit met face to face with a Viet Cong soldier. The American's shouted warning also alerted the enemy who immediately swept the area with automatic weapons fire from a strongly built bunker close to the trail and threw hand grenades from another nearby fortified position. Almost immediately, the lead man was wounded and knocked from his feet. Sp4c. Wayrynen, the second man in the formation, leaped beyond his fallen comrade to kill another enemy soldier who appeared on the trail, and he dragged his injured companion back to where the point squad had taken cover. Suddenly, a live enemy grenade landed in the center of the tightly grouped men. Sp4c. Wayrynen, quickly assessing the danger to the entire squad as well as to his platoon leader who was nearby, shouted a warning, pushed one soldier out of the way, and threw himself on the grenade at the moment it exploded. He was mortally wounded. His deep and abiding concern for his fellow soldiers was significantly reflected in his supreme and courageous act that preserved the lives of his comrades. Sp4c. Wayrynen's heroic actions are in keeping with the highest traditions of the service, and they reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.

25 December 2008

The King William's College quiz

Last year, right after Xmas, I started getting dozens of visits to this blog - all resulting from Google (or other) searches for information about the Jemmerling collection. I asked why, and some kind person explained to me that people were looking for the answer to question 15.6 of the King William's College 2007 General Knowledge Paper.

This fine test comes from King William's College, which was founded in 1833 on the Isle of Man. The quiz itself has been given annually for over a century (this year's being the 104th); students take it twice, once immediately before Xmas, cold, and again after the Xmas holidays, after having researched the answers. A good score may be 20 correct answers on the first try; an average score, it seems, is more like two (out of 180!).* It has also become quite popular with non-students, and since 1951 has been published in The Guardian.

In its present form, the "quiz" consists of 18 sets of ten questions each. All the questions in a set have a common theme, which may or may not be given. The last set consists of questions about events of the current year, and the first set asks about events which happened 100 years ago; the remaining 16 sets may cover literature, history, geography or other subjects. (Last year's visitors were looking for the answer to a question in a set about the Swallows & Amazons books, by Arthur Ransome.)

In 2004, the year of the 100th quiz, The Guardian also published an interview with the current writer, Dr Pat Cullen (a retired GP who began compiling the quiz in 1997), under the heading 'I like to irritate' - apparently he is good at it.

Here it is: The 104th edition of the King William's College General Knowledge Paper.
Scire ubi aliquid invenire possis, ea demum maxima pars eruditionis est

1) During the year 1908:
1. who announced T?
2. who finished at 59 with 15 and 25?
3. what confectionery was inspired by Shaw?
4. who gained her second first at an old east-coast fort?
5. where did the Thomas Flyer arrive on the Asiatic mainland?
6. whose birthday present was cut into nine pieces for the family headdress and other equipment?
7. whose resignation pre-empted his demise by just 16 days?
8. which tale launched a nouveau riche boy-racer?
9. for whom was Lord Hugh best man?
10. what event elevated Manuel?

2) Who began what by:
1. recalling unusual citrous abundance?
2. describing his subject's physiognomy with a succession of v's?
3. justifying the creation of a short palindromic nickname for "himself"?
4. describing the emergence at dawn of a moustached little man with bowlegs?
5. recalling melancholy inspiration from early evening sights and
sounds in a rural churchyard?
6. suggesting that it was generally accepted that a well-heeled loner must be looking for a lady?
7. describing a studio filled with the scents of roses, lilac and pink-flowered thorn?
8. describing his hero facing execution and recalling the discovery of ice?
9. recalling a send-off from family and friends at Charing Cross?
10. providing an alibi for the white kitten?

1. Whose ground-breaking effort quoted Numbers XXIII, 23?
2. Who wired who confirming worst fears and requesting gumboots?
3. Whose telegram caused Dew to hasten westward on the Laurentic?
4. Who, on sighting the enemy, urgently requested a firearm and 300 bullets?
5. Whose expression of delight was accompanied by a request for a patent oil cooking stove?
6. With what single word did the defeated Governor allegedly advise cancellation of the papal travel arrangements?
7. Who described a suave, Bohemian, elderly, storekeeper in the Commercial Road?
8. Which repetitious message prompted the query "Does that mean Yes?"
9. Who discovered a crumpled telegram reading "Suivez à Bokhare Saronov"?
10. On what occasion was the royal wrath not expressed in code?

1. What is the Island of Sheep?
2. Where did the sea cave inspire Op 26?
3. Where was Magnus Erlendsson executed?
4. What was David's gift to the Berkshire monks?
5. Where did an amputated digit earn its owner the right to build a monastery?
6. Where did the great grandson of King John III make his first British landfall?
7. Where is the unique mutton derived from a diet of Laminaria?
8. Where was quarantine enforced for 48 years?
9. To what was Meg's deafness compared?
10. Where was Andie Dale the prefect?

5) Travelling from Nordic lands, try unravelling:
1. the eponymous traitor,
2. then Merrill's famed fisherman partner
3. and a misplaced cygnet,
4. contrasting with a little anser,
5. thousands of whose elders visit a Waddenzee barrier island,
6. while in Belgium, memories of Ursula are awakened by a Flemish Primitive,
7 and in the Amblève, or perhaps the Lesse, one might confusingly make geometry a sport
8 and try to catch a little trout
9 or even its seemingly lepidopteran relative
10 before celebrating in Germany with Piesport's speciality

6) Who:
1. was Foolish?
2. was Rodrigo de Borja y Borja?
3. invested Henry Sinclair as Earl of Orkney?
4. had a half-sister sired by his father's physician?
5. founded a Siamese school, which was later named in his honour?
6. was born on the 34th annversary of the death of his great grandfather and the 17th of that of his great aunt?
7. was the offspring of parents sharing the same grandmother?
8. was the 36th and last in a line started in 1299?
9. was blinded by his mother Irene?
10. was tripartite?

1. Which language was developed by a Polish ophthalmologist?
2. Which language of the Romance group has a definite article suffix?
3. Of which European language is the origin unknown, even to the experts?
4. Which geographically Scandinavian language is not linguistically Scandinavian?
5. Which European language is the only survivor of its branch of the Indo-European group?
6. Which Slavonic language is spoken in a country whose national language is not Slavonic?
7. Which European language is spoken by about 1% of the population of Switzerland?
8. Which European language has a past tense form which looks like a future?
9. Which Slavonic language has done away with the case forms
of nouns?
10. Which European national language still retains the dual number?

8) What:
1. is also a game using 28 marbles?
2. formed part of a linear horticultural decoration?
3. are typically preserved in seasoned butter in Lancashire?
4. when released in America, suggested involvement with Christine Keeler?
5. are geographically confusing names of what is neither one thing nor the other?
6. pelecypod was perhaps familiar to the pupils (and their successors) of Rev Thomas Langhorne?
7. did the man from the Borough regard as the invariable accompaniment of poverty?
8. legs are found in unbaled water together with tangled lines?
9. nominally, has blue representatives in another kingdom?
10. when baked too brown, must sugar his hair?

9) Journeying on what, between which termini, might one's thoughts
turn to:
1. sleepwalking?
2. elliptical orbits?
3. the quintessential libertine?
4. a soldier without a passport?
5. the founding father of the EU?
6. the royal prisoner of Sönderborg?
7. Judith and three mute wives?
8. clothed and naked versions?
9. the mount of Bellerophon?
10. melting clocks?

10) Which river:
1. received the defeated Aunus?
2. floats laden barges by banks of myosote?
3. was central to the non-payment of a mayoral debt?
4. was identified without doubt by the discovery of the initials AD
5. saw Captain Schenk acquire an engineer to replace the deceased Walter?
6. despite being in flood, could be crossed dry-shod following clerical plantar immersion?
7. provided drinks for kine, and horses, and little humorous donkeys?
8. along with Cairo was passed unnoticed by the raft in the fog?
9. was a source of shelly snails and green lettuces?
10. witnessed a case of unwitting filicide?

11) Who or what:
1. had instinct?
2. reds started as Villa?
3. uniquely, got three in whose match?
4. claimed continuing labial adhesiveness?
5. was formerly William and succeeded Louis?
6. in repetitive utterances, anticipated Glyn Daniel et al?
7. described a small arm accident on 17/6/15?
8. was executed at Bolton after Worcester?
9. was targeted by Nat and Dermot?
10. was presumptuous?

12) Where:
1. was the mistress leguminous?
2. were the Harmonic Meetings regularly held?
3. was Rogue resuscitated after his prolonged immersion?
4. did the circus manager point out that "People must be amuthed"?
5. did the curate speak for one hour and 25 minutes at an anti-slavery meeting?
6. did a little, yellow high-shouldered man, with a fixed grim smile, tell about a queer client?
7. did the landlord report that Phil was so drunk that a boy might take him?
8. did the Yorkshire schoolmaster interview tutors and pupils?
9. did the strange man stir his rum-and-water with a file?
10. did the hangman bind the old man to his chair?

1. Who remained a bachelor?
2. Who had been ADC to Mad Anthony?
3. Who was described as a withered little applejohn?
4. Whose nickname was perfect for a slogan of approval?
5. Who enlisted as a private, but came out as a brevet major?
6. Who maintained that silence ensured no need for repetition?
7. Who, in his youth, admitted to cutting down a cherry tree?
8. Who compared his strength to that of a male cervid?
9. Who is remembered, nominally, in West Africa?
10. Which two died on the same day?

14) Within the capital of which member state of the United Nations will you find:
1. calluna?
2. 3.14159?
3. that its alright?
4. a Windermere resident?
5. a West Country watercourse?
6. a pudding distinguished by ladies' fingers?
7. a simian representative?
8. a Tibetan monk?
9. a semi-metal?
10. nothing?

15) Who:
1. was morally pure in EC2?
2. shot Buffalo Bill at Belvedere, Ohio?
3. went to the wrong church for her wedding?
4. believed, erroneously, that Byron murdered Ezra Chater?
5. killed Lord Frederick in a duel, following his return from Belgium?
6. possessed nothing but the contents of his wallet, the clothes he stood up in, the hare-lip, the automatic he should have left behind?
7. was as little interested in love as in the habits of Trematodes?
8. wore white for her immolation on October 27?
9. advocated unlimited slaughter of bluejays?
10. posed as Doctor Copernicus?

16) Following my leader, who or what:
1. is a Hampshire jewel?
2. decorated Findlater's label?
3. is meteorologically striking?
4. houses Colum Cille's shrine?
5. could be wild duck washed down with Ch. Latour?
6. might refer to poor Sarah's biliary obstruction?
7. is absolutely necessary to a ram?
8. was Anastasia's great aunt?
9. could have been a crusader?
10. is a musteline appendage?

17) In which town:
1. did prisoner 24601 steal the episcopal silver?
2. did Lady de Winter poison the novice at the convent?
3. was the cathedral like a vast boudoir prepared for Emma?
4. did Jake, dining alone, drink a bottle of Ch. Margaux for company?
5 .did Duhamel ask that the crayfish should be very lightly boiled just seized?
6. did la Baronne de la Chalonnière encounter Alexander Duggan at the Hôtel du Cerf?
7. did Holmes spend some months in a research into coal-tar derivatives?
8. were plum-coloured shoes removed to expose red stockings?
9. did Harry urge his uncle to enter and fortify the town?
10. did Hannay receive hellish news from Laidlaw?

18) During 2008:
1. which gartered kiwi was laid to rest?
2. which fine food has gained PGS in Leicestershire?
3. who, following 2nd at 2K with 3 others, got 1st at 3K alone?
4 which sometime bulbous plant would seem to be involved with "arthrology"?
5. who made successive day trips to Abergele, Fountains Abbey and Mugdock?
6. where has the pancake bell ceased to signal the start of a race owing to health and safety issues?
7. where did a giant arachnid briefly invade an apparently coleopteran habitat?
8. what legendary diamond fell to the successors of the fictitious Misson?
9. who got six months for dishonesty at White Plains?
10. whose jobcentre manager fetched £17.2m?

* On the first look through, I knew (or think I knew) the answers to 15 of the questions, and had at least a clue to a half-dozen or so others.

"Congress shall make no law...."

ZUI the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...." It doesn't have to be an actual law; in 2001, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore had a 2.6-ton granite monument with the Ten Commandments installed in the state judicial building in Montgomery, Alabama, saying that said Commandments were the foundation of the US legal system. In 2003, after a lawsuit argued that the marker constituted a government endorsement of Christianity, US District Judge Myron Thompson ruled that it had to go.

Similarly, prayer is not authorised in public schools because said establishments are owned and operated by the city in which they are located, and thus permitting prayer constitutes endorsement of religion by the local government. (It may be only city government, but it's still government.)


ZUI US Code Title 5, Para 6103:
(a) The following are legal public holidays:
New Year’s Day, January 1.
Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., the third Monday in January.
Washington’s Birthday, the third Monday in February.
Memorial Day, the last Monday in May.
Independence Day, July 4.
Labor Day, the first Monday in September.
Columbus Day, the second Monday in October.
Veterans Day, November 11.
Thanksgiving Day, the fourth Thursday in November.
Christmas Day, December 25.

We have here an actual quote from federal law, designating a Christian religious holiday (Christmas) as a "legal public holiday." Somebody want to try explaining to me how this law fails to be a violation of the First Amendment?

23 December 2008

NASA news II

Continuing from my last post, ZUI this press release dated 16 Dec:
Dark Energy Found Stifling Growth in the Universe

For the first time, astronomers have clearly seen the effects of "dark energy" on the most massive collapsed objects in the universe using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. By tracking how dark energy has stifled the growth of galaxy clusters and combining this with previous studies, scientists have obtained the best clues yet about what dark energy is and what the destiny of the universe could be.

This work, which took years to complete, is separate from other methods of dark energy research such as supernovas. These new X-ray results provide a crucial independent test of dark energy, long sought by scientists, which depends on how gravity competes with accelerated expansion in the growth of cosmic structures. Techniques based on distance measurements, such as supernova work, do not have this special sensitivity.

Scientists think dark energy is a form of repulsive gravity that now dominates the universe, although they have no clear picture of what it actually is. Understanding the nature of dark energy is one of the biggest problems in science. Possibilities include the cosmological constant, which is equivalent to the energy of empty space. Other possibilities include a modification in general relativity on the largest scales, or a more general physical field.

To help decide between these options, a new way of looking at dark energy is required. It is accomplished by observing how cosmic acceleration affects the growth of galaxy clusters over time.

"This result could be described as 'arrested development of the universe'," said Alexey Vikhlinin of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass., who led the research. "Whatever is forcing the expansion of the universe to speed up is also forcing its development to slow down."

Vikhlinin and his colleagues used Chandra to observe the hot gas in dozens of galaxy clusters, which are the largest collapsed objects in the universe. Some of these clusters are relatively close and others are more than halfway across the universe.
The results show the increase in mass of the galaxy clusters over time aligns with a universe dominated by dark energy. It is more difficult for objects like galaxy clusters to grow when space is stretched, as caused by dark energy. Vikhlinin and his team see this effect clearly in their data. The results are remarkably consistent with those from the distance measurements, revealing general relativity applies, as expected, on large scales.


The study strengthens the evidence that dark energy is the cosmological constant. Although it is the leading candidate to explain dark energy, theoretical work suggests it should be about 10 raised to the power of 120 times larger than observed. Therefore, alternatives to general relativity, such as theories involving hidden dimensions, are being explored.


These results have consequences for predicting the ultimate fate of the universe. If dark energy is explained by the cosmological constant, the expansion of the universe will continue to accelerate, and the Milky Way and its neighbor galaxy, Andromeda, never will merge with the Virgo cluster. In that case, about a hundred billion years from now, all other galaxies ultimately would disappear from the Milky Way's view and, eventually, the local superclusters of galaxies also would disintegrate.

ZUI also this press release dated 18 Dec:
Scientists Find 'Missing' Mineral and Clues to Mars Mysteries

Researchers using a powerful instrument aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have found a long sought-after mineral on the Martian surface and, with it, unexpected clues to the Red Planet's watery past.

Surveying intact bedrock layers with the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars, or CRISM, scientists found carbonate minerals, indicating that Mars had neutral to alkaline water when the minerals formed at these locations more than 3.6 billion years ago. Carbonates, which on Earth include limestone and chalk, dissolve quickly in acid. Therefore, their survival until today on Mars challenges suggestions that an exclusively acidic environment later dominated the planet. Instead, it indicates that different types of watery environments existed. The greater the variety of wet environments, the greater the chances one or more of them may have supported life.


Carbonate rocks are created when water and carbon dioxide interact with calcium, iron or magnesium in volcanic rocks. Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere becomes trapped within the rocks. If all of the carbon dioxide locked in Earth's carbonates were released, our atmosphere would be thicker than that of Venus. Some researchers believe that a thick, carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere kept ancient Mars warm and kept water liquid on its surface long enough to have carved the valley systems observed today.

"The carbonates that CRISM has observed are regional rather than global in nature, and therefore, are too limited to account for enough carbon dioxide to form a thick atmosphere," said Bethany Ehlmann, lead author of the article and a spectrometer team member from Brown University in Providence, R.I.

"Although we have not found the types of carbonate deposits which might have trapped an ancient atmosphere," Ehlmann said, "we have found evidence that not all of Mars experienced an intense, acidic weathering environment 3.5 billion years ago, as has been proposed. We've found at least one region that was potentially more hospitable to life."

The article reports clearly defined carbonate exposures in bedrock layers surrounding the 925-mile diameter Isidis impact basin, which formed more than 3.6 billion years ago. The best-exposed rocks occur along a trough system called Nili Fossae, which is 414 miles long, at the edge of the basin. The region has rocks enriched in olivine, a mineral that can react with water to form carbonate.


NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander discovered carbonates in soil samples. Researchers had previously found them in Martian meteorites that fell to Earth and in windblown Mars dust observed from orbit. However, the dust and soil could be mixtures from many areas, so the carbonates' origins have been unclear. The latest observations indicate carbonates may have formed over extended periods on early Mars. They also point to specific locations where future rovers and landers could search for possible evidence of past life.

And finally, ZUI this press release dated 22 Dec:
Next NASA Moon Mission Completes Major Milestone

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, has successfully completed thermal vacuum testing, which simulates the extreme hot, cold and airless conditions of space LRO will experience after launch. This milestone concludes the orbiter's environmental test program at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

The orbiter will carry seven instruments to provide scientists with detailed maps of the lunar surface and increase our understanding of the moon's topography, lighting conditions, mineralogical composition and natural resources. Data returned to Earth from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will be used to select safe landing sites, determine locations for future outposts and help mitigate radiation dangers to astronauts. The spacecraft will spend at least a year in a low, polar orbit approximately 30 miles above the lunar surface while the instruments work together to collect detailed information about the moon's environment.


"We have cooked LRO, frozen it, shaken it, and blasted it with electromagnetic waves, and still it operates," said Dave Everett, LRO mission system engineer at Goddard. "We have performed more than 2,500 hours of powered testing since January, more than 600 of that in vacuum."

The first two checks were the spin and vibration tests. The spin test determined the spacecraft's center of gravity and measured characteristics of its rotation. During vibration testing, engineers checked the structural integrity of the spacecraft aboard a large, shaking table that simulated the rigorous ride the orbiter will encounter during liftoff aboard an Atlas rocket.

Next, the orbiter was subjected to acoustics testing. The bagged spacecraft was placed near wall-sized speakers that simulate the noise-induced vibrations of launch. Following acoustics testing, LRO underwent tests that simulated the orbiter's separation from the rocket during launch. The spacecraft also underwent electromagnetic compatibility testing to ensure internal and external electrical signals do not interfere with its critical functions.


LRO will be shipped to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida in early 2009 to be prepared for its April 24 launch aboard an Atlas V rocket. Accompanying the spacecraft will be the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, a mission that will impact the moon's surface in its search for water ice.

NASA news I

NASA has published several press releases this month which I haven't noted yet. To begin with, ZUI this press release dated 4 Dec 08:
Next NASA Mars Mission Rescheduled for 2011

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory will launch two years later than previously planned, in the fall of 2011. The mission will send a next-generation rover with unprecedented research tools to study the early environmental history of Mars.

A launch date of October 2009 no longer is feasible because of testing and hardware challenges that must be addressed to ensure mission success. The window for a 2009 launch ends in late October. The relative positions of Earth and Mars are favorable for flights to Mars only a few weeks every two years. The next launch opportunity after 2009 is in 2011.

"We will not lessen our standards for testing the mission's complex flight systems, so we are choosing the more responsible option of changing the launch date," said Doug McCuistion, director of the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Up to this point, efforts have focused on launching next year, both to begin the exciting science and because the delay will increase taxpayers' investment in the mission. However, we've reached the point where we can not condense the schedule further without compromising vital testing."


The advanced rover is one of the most technologically challenging interplanetary missions ever designed. It will use new technologies to adjust its flight while descending through the Martian atmosphere, and to set the rover on the surface by lowering it on a tether from a hovering descent stage. Advanced research instruments make up a science payload 10 times the mass of instruments on NASA's Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers. The Mars Science Laboratory is engineered to drive longer distances over rougher terrain than previous rovers. It will employ a new surface propulsion system.


The mission will explore a Mars site where images taken by NASA's orbiting spacecraft indicate there were wet conditions in the past. Four candidate landing sites are under consideration. The rover will check for evidence of whether ancient Mars environments had conditions favorable for supporting microbial life and preserving evidence of that life if it existed there.

Next ZUI this press release dated 9 Dec:
Hubble Telescope Finds Carbon Dioxide on an Extrasolar Planet

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has discovered carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of a planet orbiting another star. This breakthrough is an important step toward finding chemical biotracers of extraterrestrial life.

The Jupiter-sized planet, called HD 189733b, is too hot for life. But the Hubble observations are a proof-of-concept demonstration that the basic chemistry for life can be measured on planets orbiting other stars. Organic compounds also can be a by-product of life processes and their detection on an Earthlike planet someday may provide the first evidence of life beyond our planet.

Previous observations of HD 189733b by Hubble and the Spitzer Space Telescope found water vapor. Earlier this year, Hubble found methane in the planet's atmosphere.


Mark Swain, a research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., used Hubble's near infrared camera and multi-object spectrometer to study infrared light emitted from the planet, which lies 63 light-years away. Gases in the planet's atmosphere absorb certain wavelengths of light from the planet's hot glowing interior. Swain identified carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. The molecules leave a unique spectral fingerprint on the radiation from the planet that reaches Earth. This is the first time a near-infrared emission spectrum has been obtained for an exoplanet.


This successful demonstration of looking at near-infrared light emitted from a planet is very encouraging for astronomers planning to use NASA's James Webb Space Telescope after it is launched in 2013. These biomarkers are best seen at near-infrared wavelengths. Astronomers look forward to using the James Webb Space Telescope to look spectroscopically for biomarkers on a terrestrial planet the size of Earth or a "super-Earth" several times our planet's mass.

Thirdly, ZUI this press release dated 11 Dec:
Mars Orbiter Completes Prime Mission

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has completed its primary, two-year science phase. The spacecraft has found signs of a complex Martian history of climate change that produced a diversity of past watery environments.

The orbiter has returned 73 terabits of science data, more than all earlier Mars missions combined. The spacecraft will build on this record as it continues to examine Mars in unprecedented detail during its next two-year phase of science operations.

Among the major findings during the primary science phase is the revelation that the action of water on and near the surface of Mars occurred for hundreds of millions of years. This activity was at least regional and possibly global in extent, though possibly intermittent. The spacecraft also observed that signatures of a variety of watery environments, some acidic, some alkaline, increase the possibility that there are places on Mars that could reveal evidence of past life, if it ever existed.

Since moving into position 186 miles above Mars' surface in October 2006, the orbiter also has conducted 10,000 targeted observation sequences of high-priority areas. It has imaged nearly 40 percent of the planet at a resolution that can reveal house-sized objects in detail, 1 percent in enough detail to see desk-sized features. This survey has covered almost 60 percent of Mars in mineral mapping bands at stadium-size resolution. The orbiter also assembled nearly 700 daily global weather maps, dozens of atmospheric temperature profiles, and hundreds of radar profiles of the subsurface and the interior of the polar caps.


The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has found repetitive layering in Mars' permanent polar ice caps. The patterns suggest climate change cycles continuing to the present. They may record possible effects of cyclical changes in Mars' tilt and orbit on global sunlight patterns. Recent climate cycles are indicated by radar detection of subsurface icy deposits outside the polar regions, closer to the equator, where near-surface ice is not permanently stable. Other results reveal details of ancient streambeds, atmospheric hazes and motions of water, along with the ever-changing weather on Mars.

Most observations from the orbiter will be discontinued for a few weeks while the sun is between Earth and Mars, which will disrupt communications. In December, the orbiter will begin a new phase, with science observations continuing as Mars makes another orbit around the sun, which takes approximately two Earth years.

And ZUI this press release dated 15 Dec:
Saturn's Dynamic Moon Enceladus Shows More Signs of Activity

The closer scientists look at Saturn's small moon Enceladus, the more they find evidence of an active world. The most recent flybys of Enceladus made by NASA's Cassini spacecraft have provided new signs of ongoing changes on and around the moon. The latest high-resolution images of Enceladus show signs that the south polar surface changes over time.

Close views of the southern polar region, where jets of water vapor and icy particles spew from vents within the moon's distinctive "tiger stripe" fractures, provide surprising evidence of Earth-like tectonics. They yield new insight into what may be happening within the fractures. The latest data on the plume -- the huge cloud of vapor and particles fed by the jets that extend into space -- show it varies over time and has a far-reaching effect on Saturn's magnetosphere.

"Of all the geologic provinces in the Saturn system that Cassini has explored, none has been more thrilling or carries greater implications than the region at the southernmost portion of Enceladus," said panel member Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team leader at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.


"Enceladus has Earth-like spreading of the icy crust, but with an exotic difference -- the spreading is almost all in one direction, like a conveyor belt," said panelist Paul Helfenstein, Cassini imaging associate at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. "Asymmetric spreading like this is unusual on Earth and not well understood."

"Enceladus has asymmetric spreading on steroids," Helfenstein added. "We are not certain about the geological mechanisms that control the spreading, but we see patterns of divergence and mountain-building similar to what we see on Earth, which suggests that subsurface heat and convection are involved."

The tiger stripes are analogous to the mid-ocean ridges on Earth's seafloor where volcanic material wells up and creates new crust. Using Cassini-based digital maps of the moon's south polar region, Helfenstein reconstructed a possible history of the tiger stripes by working backward in time and progressively snipping away older and older sections of the map, each time finding that the remaining sections fit together like puzzle pieces.

Images from recent close flybys also have bolstered an idea the Cassini imaging team has that condensation from the jets erupting from the surface may create ice plugs that close off old vents and force new vents to open. The opening and clogging of vents also corresponds with measurements indicating the plume varies from month to month and year to year.


With water vapor, organic compounds and excess heat emerging from Enceladus' south polar terrain, scientists are intrigued by the possibility of a liquid-water-rich habitable zone beneath the moon's south pole.

Cassini's flybys on Aug. 11 and Oct. 31 targeted Enceladus' fractured southern region. An Oct. 9 flyby took the spacecraft deep into the plume of water vapor and ice shooting out of the moon's vents. Cassini's next flyby of Enceladus will be in November 2009. The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency.

The ultimate grill

I ran across this contraption whilst doing a Google search on something totally unrelated. Mrs. Baird’s Ultimate Smoker and Grill has a wood-fired 48x120" (yes, four feet by ten feet) grill that can cook approximately 200 16-oz steaks, 500 hamburgers or 1000 hot dogs. The smoker compartment can smoke 2000 pounds of meat. The trailer (pulled by a Peterbilt 379 tractor) also has a 48" flat grill, a double fryer, a 4-burner gas stove and running water. And there are a 48" flat-screen television, with satellite hookup, and a Bose Entertainment System to keep you occupied while you wait for your meal.

Want to hire it? $5000.00 per tour stop, plus travel expenses of $3.00 per mile. The menu? Hot dogs ($5.00), hamburgers ($7.50), a BBQ meal ($12.50) and a 16oz ribeye steak dinner ($17.50). There are also Cowboy Cook Menu Packages - a cooking demo by "Cowboy Cook" Grady Spears, with the following menu:
Appetizers (choose one)
BBQ'd Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp
Fried Calf Fries with gravy
Jerky Buffalo Wings

Main Course
Chicken-Fried Steak $15.00
with garlic mashed potatoes and roasted corn on the cob
Grilled Ribeye of Beef $20.00
with macaroni & cheese with roasted poblanos, and grilled asparagus
Grilled Double-Cut Pork Chops $25.00
with grilled new potatoes, and grilled mixed vegetables (squash, zucchini, and red and green peppers)


22 December 2008

NASA's top stories of 2008

ZUI this NASA press release dated 15 Dec 08:
NASA landed on Mars, photographed distant worlds, added to the International Space Station, took part in a lunar science mission with India and made major progress toward returning astronauts to the moon as the agency celebrated its 50th birthday in 2008. Here on Earth, NASA researchers recorded the continued decline of Arctic sea ice, won awards for aviation breakthroughs, discovered the cause of storms that brighten the Northern Lights and helped create state-of-the-art swimsuits worn by Olympic gold medalists. Ten of the top accomplishments of America's space agency in its golden anniversary year are listed below:

NASA completed four space shuttle missions in 2008 to deliver modules and hardware to the International Space Station, allowing it to grow in size, volume and science capability. The flights also prepared the station to house six crew members for long-duration missions and to expand scientific exploration. The activation in 2008 of the European Space Agency's Columbus module and Jules Verne Automated Transfer Vehicle, as well as the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory, marked the beginning of new human spaceflight control centers in Germany, France and Japan that are working with existing control centers in the U.S., Russia and Canada. Nov. 20 was the 10th anniversary of the launch of Zarya, a Russian control module that was the station's first component. In the decade since Zarya arrived in orbit, the station has grown to become the largest spacecraft ever built. Its mass has expanded to more than 313 tons, and its interior volume is more than 25,000 cubic feet, comparable to the size of a five-bedroom house. The station now hosts 19 research facilities, including nine sponsored by NASA, eight by European Space Agency and two by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander ceased communications Nov. 2 after successfully returning unprecedented science data to Earth. Launched Aug. 4, 2007, Phoenix safely touched down on Mars on May 25, 2008, at a site farther north than where any previous spacecraft had landed. Phoenix's soft landing on Mars was the first in 32 years and only the third in history. Cameras on Phoenix sent more than 25,000 images back to Earth. Preliminary science data shed light on whether the Martian arctic environment ever has been favorable for microbes; documented a mildly alkaline soil environment unlike any found by earlier missions; discovered small concentrations of salts that could be nutrients for life; located calcium carbonate; and detected perchlorate salt. The findings also advanced the goal of documenting the history of water on Mars. Phoenix exceeded its planned operational life of three to five months. Analysis of data from its instruments continues.

NASA successfully completed the preliminary design review for the new Ares I rocket in 2008. Starting in 2015, the rocket will launch the Orion crew exploration vehicle, its crew of four to six astronauts, and small payloads to the International Space Station. The rocket also will be used as part of missions to explore the moon and beyond in coming decades. The preliminary design review is the first such milestone in more than 35 years for a U.S. rocket that will carry astronauts into space. The review examined the design of Ares I to confirm the planned technical approach will meet NASA's requirements for the fully integrated vehicle and ensure all of the rocket's components and supporting systems are designed to work together. NASA is preparing for the rocket's first test flight in 2009. Hardware for the test flight, including the forward skirt and the upper stage simulator, began arriving at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida this fall.


Researchers using a fleet of five NASA satellites discovered in 2008 that explosions of magnetic energy occurring a third of the way to the moon power substorms that cause sudden brightenings and rapid movements of the aurora borealis, or Northern Lights. The cause is magnetic reconnection, a common process that occurs throughout the universe when stressed magnetic field lines suddenly snap to a new shape, like a rubber band that has been stretched too far. These substorms often accompany intense space storms that can cause power outages and disrupt radio communications and global positioning system signals. Scientists are studying the beginning of substorms using a network of 20 ground observatories located throughout Canada and Alaska and five THEMIS, or Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms, satellites.

Astronomers announced in 2008 that NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has taken the first visible-light snapshot of a planet circling another star. Observations taken 21 months apart by the coronagraph on Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys showed the object orbiting around a star named Fomalhaut. The planet, called Fomalhaut b, is approximately 10 times the distance of Saturn from our sun. Estimated to be as much as three times Jupiter's mass, Fomalhaut b is located 25 light-years away in the constellation Piscis Australis, or the "Southern Fish." Fomalhaut has been a candidate for planet hunting since an excess of dust was discovered around the star in the early 1980s by NASA's Infrared Astronomy Satellite. The planet is brighter than expected for an object of three Jupiter masses. One possibility is that it has a Saturn-like ring of ice and dust reflecting starlight. Scientists theorize that the ring might eventually coalesce to form moons.

NASA engineers successfully completed in 2008 the first series of tests in the early development of the J-2X engine that will power the upper stages of the Ares I and Ares V rockets. Ares I will launch the Orion spacecraft that will take astronauts to the International Space Station and on to the moon by 2020. Ares V will carry cargo and components into orbit for trips to the moon and later to Mars. NASA conducted nine tests of heritage J-2 engine components from December to May as part of a series designed to verify J-2 performance data and explore performance boundaries. Engineers at NASA's Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss., conducted the tests on a heritage J-2 "powerpack," which, in a fully assembled engine, pumps liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen into the engine's main combustion chamber to produce thrust. The test hardware consisted of J-2 components used from the Apollo program in the1960s through the X-33 program in the 1990s.


NASA has partnered with India to fly two science instruments aboard the country's first lunar explorer, Chandrayaan-1. The Indian Space Research Organization launched Chandrayaan-1 on Oct. 22 from Sriharikota, India. It entered lunar orbit on Nov. 8. NASA's Moon Mineralogy Mapper is surveying mineral resources of the moon, and the Miniature Synthetic Aperture Radar is mapping the moon's polar regions and looking for ice deposits in the permanently shadowed craters. Data from the two instruments is contributing to NASA's increased understanding of the lunar environment as the agency implements the nation's space exploration policy, which calls for robotic and human missions to the moon.

RIP: Air Cdre Peter M. Brothers CBE

Peter Malam Brothers CBE DSO DFC*
30 Sep 1917 – 18 Dec 2008

ZUI this article from The Telegraph:
Air Commodore Pete Brothers, who has died aged 91, flew throughout the Battle of Britain and was one of the RAF's most distinguished fighter pilots, credited with destroying at least 16 enemy aircraft.

Brothers was a flight commander on No 32 Squadron and had been blooded in May 1940 during the hectic, and often chaotic, fighting during the Battle of France, when he downed two enemy fighters.

As the Battle of Britain opened in July 1940, the squadron was operating Hurricanes from Biggin Hill and was soon involved in furious fighting. Flying three, sometimes four, times a day, Brothers shot down seven fighters and a bomber over Kent before the end of August.

On one occasion he returned home after a particularly difficult day to learn from his wife that a bomb splinter had come through an open window and shattered the mirror as she was applying her make-up. Years later he observed: "It was then that I decided the war had become personal."


Peter Malam Brothers was born at Prestwich on September 30 1917 and educated at North Manchester School, a branch of Manchester Grammar School. When he was 16, and still at school, he learnt to fly at the Lancashire Aero Club and gained his civil pilot's "A" licence. He joined the RAF in 1936, trained as a pilot and joined No 32 Squadron at the end of the year to fly [Gloster] Gauntlet biplane fighters. He was to remain with the squadron for four years.

After the Battle of Britain, Brothers trained as a flying instructor and on promotion to squadron leader formed and commanded No 457 (RAAF) Squadron, flying Spitfires. On March 26 1942 he shot down a Messerschmitt Bf 109, and a month later probably downed another enemy fighter. In June he was given command of No 602 (City of Glasgow) Squadron, leading it during the ill-fated Dieppe raid in August. His pilots destroyed five enemy aircraft and he himself claimed a fighter. One of his pilots was forced to bail out over the sea, and Brothers orbited his dinghy until rescue arrived.


After taking a staff course in the United States, Brothers served at the Central Fighter Establishment. Despite his outstanding war record, he was not offered a permanent commission in the peacetime RAF, and in 1947 he left to join the Colonial Service. Two years as a district officer in Kenya, however, convinced him that this was not the life he wanted, and in 1949 he rejoined the RAF.

To his surprise, Brothers was posted to command a Lincoln bomber squadron, No 57. He flew operations during the Malayan Emergency, his being the first bomber squadron to participate in the campaign.


An inveterate cigar smoker and a connoisseur of malt whisky, Brothers was a keen golfer, sailor and fisherman, and a great raconteur.

Pete Brothers died on December 18. He married, in 1939, Annette Wilson, who died in 2005. Their two daughters survive him.

Brothers received the DFC in 1940, a bar thereto in 1943, and the DSO in 1944. He was appointed CBE in 1964.

21 December 2008

Victoria Cross: W. R. F. Addison


Temporary Chaplain to the Forces 4th Class, Army Chaplain's Department; attached 6th Battalion the Loyal North Lancaster Regiment, 13th Division

Born: 18 September 1883, Cranbrook, Kent
Died: 7 January 1962, St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex

Citation: For most conspicuous bravery [on 9 April 1916 at Sanna-i-Yat, Mesopotamia]. He carried a wounded man to the cover of a trench, and assisted several others to the same cover, after binding up their wounds under heavy rifle and machine gun fire.
In addition to these unaided efforts, by his splendid example and utter disregard of personal danger, he encouraged the stretcher-bearers to go forward under heavy fire and collect the wounded.

(London Gazette Issue 29765 dated 26 Sep 1916, published 26 Sep 1916.)

Medal of Honor: E. E. Evans


Commander, US Navy; commanding USS Johnston (DD 557)

Born: 13 August 1908, Pawnee, Oklahoma
Died: 25 October 1944, off Samar, Philippine Islands

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Johnston in action against major units of the enemy Japanese fleet during the battle off Samar on 25 October 1944. The first to lay a smokescreen and to open fire as an enemy task force, vastly superior in number, firepower and armor, rapidly approached. Comdr. Evans gallantly diverted the powerful blasts of hostile guns from the lightly armed and armored carriers under his protection, launching the first torpedo attack when the Johnston came under straddling Japanese shellfire. Undaunted by damage sustained under the terrific volume of fire, he unhesitatingly joined others of his group to provide fire support during subsequent torpedo attacks against the Japanese and, outshooting and outmaneuvering the enemy as he consistently interposed his vessel between the hostile fleet units and our carriers despite the crippling loss of engine power and communications with steering aft, shifted command to the fantail, shouted steering orders through an open hatch to men turning the rudder by hand and battled furiously until the Johnston, burning and shuddering from a mortal blow, lay dead in the water after 3 hours of fierce combat. Seriously wounded early in the engagement, Comdr. Evans, by his indomitable courage and brilliant professional skill, aided materially in turning back the enemy during a critical phase of the action. His valiant fighting spirit throughout this historic battle will venture as an inspiration to all who served with him.

Note: USS Evans (DE 1023) was named in his honour.

19 December 2008

Cormorants, the Slithergadee and Hiawatha

My daughter K is currently in 8th grade. Last week she brought home an assignment for language arts: Get a poetry book from the library, read the whole thing, pick three poems to write a short essay about, memorise one of them (of at least eight lines), and recite it for the class.

Digression: The only time I recall having to learn a poem for school was in 6th grade. I chose "The Walloping Window Blind," by Charles Edward Carryl (1841-1920). You can find it here.

My wife's first suggestion was that K finish memorising "The Gashleycrumb Tinies," by Edward Gorey (which I've mentioned before), though she wasn't sure what the teacher would think of that particular poem. My own first suggestion was "The Common Cormorant," by Christopher Isherwood (1906-1986):
"The Common Cormorant"
Christopher Isherwood

The common cormorant (or shag)
Lays eggs inside a paper bag,
The reason you will see no doubt:
It is to keep the lightning out.

But what these unobservant birds
Have never noticed is that herds
Of wandering bears may come with buns
And steal the bags to hold the crumbs.

Digression: One subject that comes up from time to time on the kidlit blogs is Out-of-Print Books That Need to be Reprinted. One book I would place high on the list is A Great Big Ugly Man Came Up and Tied His Horse to Me, by Wallace Tripp. It's a wonderful collection of poems - mostly of the nonsensical variety - with incredible illustrations by the author. That book was where I first found the Isherwood poem above.

K suggested getting Where the Sidewalk Ends, or another book by Shel Silverstein (1930-1999). This immediately brought to mind the only Silverstein poem I know:
"The Slithergadee"
Shel Silverstein

The Slithergadee has crawled out of the sea.
He may catch all the others, but he won’t catch me.
No you won’t catch me, old Slithergadee,
You may catch all the others, but you wo–

I first came across "The Slithergadee" (which, if I remember correctly, was also included in Great Big Ugly Man) back in the '60s, on a Smothers Brothers album. Thinking of them reminded me of their song about Hiawatha. ("Hiawatha, he went hunting/Went to hunt a bunny rabbit./Had to make a pair of mittens/from the bunny rabbit fur.") Somewhat to my surprise, a Google search failed to turn up the words to the song*, but I did find this poem, by the Rev George A Strong (1832-1912), which was obviously the basis therefor.
"The Modern Hiawatha"
George A Strong

He killed the noble Mudjokivis.
Of the skin he made him mittens,
Made them with the fur side inside,
Made them with the skin side outside.
He, to get the warm side inside,
Put the inside skin side outside.
He, to get the cold side outside,
Put the warm side fur side inside.
That's why he put the fur side inside,
Why he put the skin side outside,
Why he turned them inside outside.

The site where I found this poem also included a link to another good Hiawatha parody: "Hiawatha's Photographing," by none other than Lewis Carroll (1832-1898). I won't give you that one in its entirety, as it's a bit longish (though nowhere near as long as the original), but I will give you the first two stanzas and a link to the full poem.
"Hiawatha's Photographing"
Lewis Carroll

From his shoulder Hiawatha
Took the camera of rosewood,
Made of sliding, folding rosewood;
Neatly put it all together.
In its case it lay compactly,
Folded into nearly nothing;
But he opened out the hinges,
Pushed and pulled the joints and hinges,
Till it looked all squares and oblongs,
Like a complicated figure
In the Second Book of Euclid.

This he perched upon a tripod -
Crouched beneath its dusky cover -
Stretched his hand, enforcing silence -
Said "Be motionless, I beg you!"
Mystic, awful was the process.

Unable to determine where/when "The Common Cormorant" was first published.
"The Slithergadee," from Don't Bump the Glump! and Other Fantasies, by Shel Silverstein, 1963.
"Hiawatha's Photographing," from Rhyme? and Reason?, by Lewis Carroll, 1887.
Poems used without permission.

No, it's not an Xmas poem. I hate Xmas. Passionately. I did, however, post one a couple years ago, though, so you can go (re)read it if you want - it's a reminder that Xmas is a little different for some folks.

Oh, yes - the homework assignment. She memorised "For Sale," from Where the Sidewalk Ends. (Several other kids picked Silverstein poems, but no-one else chose that particular one.)

* Though I did learn that it was on the same album that included "The Slithery Dee" (their version of "The Slithergadee").

Click on the "Poetry Friday" button at left for this week's round-up, which is hosted by Laura at Author Amok. (Susan, of Susan Writes, has done a round-up of previous round-ups here.)

18 December 2008

RIP: Majel Barrett Roddenberry

Majel Barrett Roddenberry
23 Feb 1932 - 18 Dec 2008

ZUI this article from NBC Los Angeles:
Majel Barrett Roddenberry, wife of "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry and the actress who portrayed Nurse Chapel on the original science-fiction television series, died Thursday of leukemia, according to the family.

Roddenberry, 76, died at her home in Bel Air with her son, Eugene "Rod" Roddenberry, at her side, according to a family statement.

She began her acting career in the 1950s, appearing on shows such as "Bonanza," "The Untouchables" and "The Lucy Show." But she became a cult favorite on the original "Star Trek" series as Nurse Christine Chapel, the soft-spoken USS Enterprise medical assistant who adeptly aided Dr. McCoy and harbored a usually unspoken, unrequited love for Leonard Nimoy's Vulcan character, Mr. Spock.

Avid "Trek" fans also knew Chapel as the female voice of the Enterprise computer in virtually every television and movie incarnation of the series. She also voiced the ship's computer in the latest "Star Trek" film, which is due out next year.


She and Gene Roddenberry were married on Aug. 6, 1969, after the original series was canceled, earning her the crown of "First Lady of Star Trek" among many Trekkies.

Gene Roddenberry died in 1991.


Roddenberry is survived by her son, Eugene. Funeral arrangements were pending, and a public memorial was expected to be held after Christmas or in early 2009.

According to the family, donations in Roddenberry's memory can be sent to Precious Paws, 18034 Ventura Blvd., Ste. 430, Encino, 91316; or C.A.R.E., P.O. Box 56631, Sherman Oaks, 91403.

More about her career can be found at IMDb.

14 December 2008

Victoria Cross: W. A. Bishop


Captain, Royal Flying Corps; 60 Squadron

Born: 8 February 1894, Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada
Died: 11 September 1956, Palm Beach, Florida, USA

Citation: For most conspicuous bravery, determination and skill.
Captain Bishop, who had been sent out to work independently [on 2 June 1917], flew first of all to an enemy aerodrome; finding no machine about, he flew on to another aerodrome about three miles south-east, which was at least twelve miles the other side of the line. Seven machines, some with their engines running, were on the ground. He attacked these from about fifty feet, and a mechanic, who was starting one of the engines, was seen to fall. One of the machines got off the ground, but at a height of sixty feet Captain Bishop fired fifteen rounds into it at very close range, and it crashed to the ground.
A second machine got off the ground, into which he fired thirty rounds at 150 yards range, and it fell into a tree.
Two more machines then rose from the aerodrome. One of these he engaged at the height of 1,000 feet, emptying the rest of his drum of ammunition. This machine crashed 300 yards from the aerodrome, after which Captain Bishop emptied a whole drum into the fourth hostile machine, and then flew back to his station.
Four hostile scouts were about 1,000 feet above him for about a mile of his return journey, but they would not attack.
His machine was very badly shot about by machine gun fire from the ground.

(London Gazette Issue 30228 dated 11 Aug 1917, published 10 Aug 1917.)

Medal of Honor: J. B. Kerr


Captain, 6th US Cavalry

Born: 12 March 1847, Fayette County, Kentucky
Died: 14 November 1926, Washington, DC

Citation: For distinguished bravery [on 1 January 1891] while in command of his troop in action against hostile Sioux Indians on the north bank of the White River, near the mouth of Little Grass Creek, S. Dak., where he defeated a force of 300 Brule Sioux warriors, and turned the Sioux tribe, which was endeavoring to enter the Bad Lands, back into the Pine Ridge Agency.

12 December 2008

Silver Stars awarded for Afghanistan

ZUI this article from the Washington Post:
After jumping out of helicopters at daybreak onto jagged, ice-covered rocks and into water at an altitude of 10,000 feet, the 12-man Special Forces team scrambled up the steep mountainside toward its target -- an insurgent stronghold in northeast Afghanistan.

"Our plan," Capt. Kyle M. Walton recalled in an interview, "was to fight downhill."

But as the soldiers maneuvered toward a cluster of thick-walled mud buildings constructed layer upon layer about 1,000 feet farther up the mountain, insurgents quickly manned fighting positions, readying a barrage of fire for the exposed Green Berets.

A harrowing, nearly seven-hour battle unfolded on that mountainside in Afghanistan's Nuristan province on April 6, as Walton, his team and a few dozen Afghan commandos they had trained took fire from all directions. Outnumbered, the Green Berets fought on even after half of them were wounded -- four critically -- and managed to subdue an estimated 150 to 200 insurgents, according to interviews with several team members and official citations.

Today, Walton and nine of his teammates from Operational Detachment Alpha 3336 of the 3rd Special Forces Group will receive the Silver Star for their heroism in that battle -- the highest number of such awards given to the elite troops for a single engagement since the Vietnam War.


"We should not have lived," said Walding, reflecting on the battle in a phone interview from Fort Bragg, N.C., where he and the nine others are to receive the Silver Stars today. Nine more Green Berets from the 3rd Special Forces Group will also receive Silver Stars for other battles. About 200 U.S. troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have received the Silver Star, the U.S. military's third-highest combat award.

The AP has a list of the ten men here, with brief summaries of their citations. The men are:
CPT Kyle M Walton
MSG Scott Ford
SSG Dillon Behr
SSG Seth E Howard
SSG Luis Morales
SSG David J Sanders
SSG Ronald J Shurer
SSG John W Walding
SSG Matthew O Williams
SPC Michael D Carter

I haven't found anything further on the other nine men to be awarded the medal.

08 December 2008

RIP: Catherine Hagel

Catherine Hagel
28 Nov 1894 - 6 Dec 2008

ZUI this article from the Minneapolis-St Paul Star-Tribune:
Catherine Hagel of New Hope, the third-oldest documented person in the world, has died at age 114.

Hagel, who had 35 grandchildren, 58 great-grandchildren and 20 great-great grandchildren, had been in frail heath since she turned 111, according to her daughter, Cecelia Gulczinski, 90, of Crystal.


Last month, she became the third-oldest person in the world, when an Indiana woman died at age 115 and 220 days.

For further information on Mrs Hagel, ZUI this article dated 19 Jun 08, also from the Star-Tribune:
Hagel continues to break new ground. Today, at age 113 and 73 days, she enters the record books.

Hagel is the longest-lived Minnesotan, according to the Gerontology Research Group, which documents and tracks "supercentenarians" -- people 110 and older.

This is the day Hagel surpassed the previous record set by her sister-in-law and good friend from childhood, Delvina Dahlheimer, who died at 113 and 72 days in 2002.


Until she was 100, Hagel stayed on the 40-acre farm near Rogers after her husband died in 1966, keeping up a huge garden, sewing, quilting and holding court with visiting relatives.

"When Mom was about 80 we tried to get her to move after the house burned down, but she refused," her daughter said. "She camped out on a cot in the garage, then in an old trailer house till we rebuilt the farmhouse."

Finally, increasing frailty and a painful case of untreated shingles drove Hagel to leave the farm and move to Northridge Care Center in New Hope.

She was born Catherine Dahlheimer on Nov. 28, 1894, on a farm near Dayton.

That year Grover Cleveland was president, Coca-Cola was first bottled and the Great Hinckley Fire killed more than 400 people.

Mrs Hagel was the first supercentenarian listed by the Gerontology Research Group (GRG) to die since the death of Edna Parker on 26 November. The GRG's list of living supercentenarians currently contains 89 people (79 females and 10 males), ranging from Maria de Jesus of Portugal (born 10 Sep 1893) to Irma Schmidt of Connecticut (born 7 Oct 1898). None of them live in Minnesota.

07 December 2008

Victoria Cross: G. N. and R. B. Bradford


Lieutenant Commander, Royal Navy

Born: 23 April 1887, Darlington, County Durham
Died: 23 April 1918, Zeebrugge, Belgium

Citation: For most conspicuous gallantry at Zeebrugge on the night of the 22nd-23rd April, 1918.
This officer was in command of the Naval Storming Parties embarked in "Iris II." When "Iris II." proceeded alongside the Mole great difficulty was experienced in placing the parapet anchors owing to the motion of the ship. An attempt was made to land by the scaling ladders before the ship was secured. Lieutenant Claude E. K. Hawkings (late "Erin") managed to get one ladder in position and actually reached the parapet, the ladder being crashed to pieces just as he stepped off it. This very gallant young officer was last seen defending himself with his revolver. He was killed on the parapet.
Though securing the ship was not part of his duties, Lieut.-Commander Bradford climbed up the derrick, which carried a large parapet anchor and was rigged out over the port side; during this climb the ship was surging up and down and the derrick crashing on the Mole; waiting his opportunity he jumped with the parapet anchor on to the Mole and placed it in position.
Immediately after hooking on the parapet anchor Lieut.-Commander Bradford was riddled with bullets from machine guns and fell into the sea between the Mole and the ship. Attempts to recover his body failed.
Lieut.-Commander Bradford's action was one of absolute self-sacrifice; without a moment's hesitation he went to certain death, recognising that in such action lay the only possible chance of securing "Iris II" and enabling her storming parties to land.

(London Gazette Issue 31236 dated 17 Mar 1919, published 14 Mar 1919.)


Lieutenant (Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel), 9th Battalion the Durham Light Infantry

Born: 22 February 1892, Etherly, County Durham
Died: 30 November 1917, Graincourt, France

Citation: For most conspicuous bravery and good leadership in attack [on 1 October 1916, at Eaucourt L'Abbaye, France], whereby he saved the situation on the right flank of his Brigade and of the Division. Lieutenant-Colonel Bradford's Battalion was in support. A leading Battalion having suffered very severe casualties, and the Commander wounded, its flank became dangerously exposed at close quarters to the enemy. Raked by machine-gun fire, the situation of the Battalion was critical. At the request of the wounded Commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Bradford asked permission to command the exposed Battalion in addition to his own.
Permission granted, he at once proceeded to the foremost lines.
By his fearless energy under fire of all description, and his skilful leadership of the two Battalions, regardless of all danger, he succeeded in rallying the attack, captured and defended the objective, and so secured the flank.

(London Gazette Issue 29836 dated 25 Nov 1916, published 24 Nov 1916.)

Note: One of four pairs of brothers who were awarded the Victoria Cross.

Medal of Honor: H. T. Elrod


Captain, US Marine Corps; Marine Fighting Squadron 211

Born: 27 September 1905, Rebecca, Georgia
Died: 23 December 1941, Wake Island

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while attached to Marine Fighting Squadron 211, during action against enemy Japanese land, surface and aerial units at Wake Island, 8 to 23 December 1941. Engaging vastly superior forces of enemy bombers and warships on 9 and 12 December, Capt. Elrod shot down 2 of a flight of 22 hostile planes and, executing repeated bombing and strafing runs at extremely low altitude and close range, succeeded in inflicting deadly damage upon a large Japanese vessel, thereby sinking the first major warship to be destroyed by small caliber bombs delivered from a fighter-type aircraft. When his plane was disabled by hostile fire and no other ships were operative, Capt. Elrod assumed command of 1 flank of the line set up in defiance of the enemy landing and, conducting a brilliant defense, enabled his men to hold their positions and repulse intense hostile fusillades to provide covering fire for unarmed ammunition carriers. Capturing an automatic weapon during 1 enemy rush in force, he gave his own firearm to 1 of his men and fought on vigorously against the Japanese. Responsible in a large measure for the strength of his sector's gallant resistance, on 23 December, Capt. Elrod led his men with bold aggressiveness until he fell, mortally wounded. His superb skill as a pilot, daring leadership and unswerving devotion to duty distinguished him among the defenders of Wake Island, and his valiant conduct reflects the highest credit upon himself and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Note: USS Elrod (FFG 55) was named in his honour.

Medal of Honor: 7 Dec 1941


Captain, US Navy; commanding USS West Virginia (BB 48)

Born: 5 May 1887, Vernon, Utah
Died: 7 December 1941, Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii

Citation: For conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage, and complete disregard of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. As Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. West Virginia, after being mortally wounded, Capt. Bennion evidenced apparent concern only in fighting and saving his ship, and strongly protested against being carried from the bridge.

Note: USS Bennion (DD 662) was named in his honour.



Lieutenant (then Chief Aviation Ordnanceman), US Navy; NAS Kaneohe Bay (Territory of Hawaii)

Born: 23 July 1909, Los Angeles, California
Died: 27 May 2010, Chula Vista, California

Citation: For extraordinary heroism distinguished service, and devotion above and beyond the call of duty. During the first attack by Japanese airplanes on the Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, on 7 December 1941, Lt. Finn promptly secured and manned a .50-caliber machinegun mounted on an instruction stand in a completely exposed section of the parking ramp, which was under heavy enemy machinegun strafing fire. Although painfully wounded many times, he continued to man this gun and to return the enemy's fire vigorously and with telling effect throughout the enemy strafing and bombing attacks and with complete disregard for his own personal safety. It was only by specific orders that he was persuaded to leave his post to seek medical attention. Following first aid treatment, although obviously suffering much pain and moving with great difficulty, he returned to the squadron area and actively supervised the rearming of returning planes. His extraordinary heroism and conduct in this action were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.



Ensign, US Naval Reserve; USS Oklahoma (BB 37)

Born: 15 March 1919, Charlotte, Michigan
Died: 7 December 1941, Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii

Citation: For conspicuous devotion to duty and extraordinary courage and complete disregard of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. When it was seen that the U.S.S. Oklahoma was going to capsize and the order was given to abandon ship, Ens. Flaherty remained in a turret, holding a flashlight so the remainder of the turret crew could see to escape, thereby sacrificing his own life.

Note: USS Flaherty (DE 135) was named in his honour.



Lieutenant Commander, US Navy; USS Arizona (BB 39)

Born: 15 October 1899, Laddonia, Missouri
Died: 27 January 1987, Decatur, Georgia

Citation: For distinguished conduct in action, outstanding heroism, and utter disregard of his own safety above and beyond the call of duty during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. Upon the commencement of the attack, Lt. Comdr. Fuqua rushed to the quarterdeck of the U.S.S. Arizona to which he was attached where he was stunned and knocked down by the explosion of a large bomb which hit the guarterdeck, penetrated several decks, and started a severe fire. Upon regaining consciousness, he began to direct the fighting of the fire and the rescue of wounded and injured personnel. Almost immediately there was a tremendous explosion forward, which made the ship appear to rise out of the water, shudder, and settle down by the bow rapidly. The whole forward part of the ship was enveloped in flames which were spreading rapidly, and wounded and burned men were pouring out of the ship to the quarterdeck. Despite these conditions, his harrowing experience, and severe enemy bombing and strafing, at the time, Lt. Comdr. Fuqua continued to direct the fighting of fires in order to check them while the wounded and burned could be taken from the ship and supervised the rescue of these men in such an amazingly calm and cool manner and with such excellent judgment that it inspired everyone who saw him and undoubtedly resulted in the saving of many lives. After realizing the ship could not be saved and that he was the senior surviving officer aboard, he directed it to be abandoned, but continued to remain on the quarterdeck and directed abandoning ship and rescue of personnel until satisfied that all personnel that could be had been saved, after which he left his ship with the final boatload. The conduct of Lt. Comdr. Fuqua was not only in keeping with the highest traditions of the naval service but characterizes him as an outstanding leader of men.



Chief Boatswain, US Navy; USS Nevada (BB 36)

Born: 4 October 1894, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died: 7 December 1941, Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii

Citation: For distinguished conduct in the line of his profession, extraordinary courage, and disregard of his own safety during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. During the height of the strafing and bombing, Chief Boatswain Hill led his men of the linehandling details of the U.S.S. Nevada to the quays, cast off the lines and swam back to his ship. Later, while on the forecastle, attempting to let go the anchors, he was blown overboard and killed by the explosion of several bombs.

Note: USS Hill (DE 141) was named in his honour.



Ensign, US Naval Reserve; USS California (BB 44)

Born: 1 December 1918, Los Angeles, California
Died: 7 December 1941, Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii

Citation: For conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage, and complete disregard of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. Ens. Jones organized and led a party, which was supplying ammunition to the antiaircraft battery of the U.S.S. California after the mechanical hoists were put out of action when he was fatally wounded by a bomb explosion. When 2 men attempted to take him from the area which was on fire, he refused to let them do so, saying in words to the effect, "Leave me alone! I am done for. Get out of here before the magazines go off."

Note: USS Herbert C Jones (DE 137) was named in his honour.



Rear Admiral, US Navy; commanding Battleship Division One

Born: 26 March 1884, Cleveland, Ohio
Died: 7 December 1941, Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii

Citation: For conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and complete disregard of his own life, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. Rear Adm. Kidd immediately went to the bridge and, as Commander Battleship Division One, courageously discharged his duties as Senior Officer Present Afloat until the U.S.S. Arizona, his Flagship, blew up from magazine explosions and a direct bomb hit on the bridge which resulted in the loss of his life.

Note: USS Kidd (DD 661), USS Kidd (DDG 993) and USS Kidd (DDG 100) were named in his honour.



Lieutenant, US Navy; USS California (BB 44)

Born: 26 June 1912, Columbus, Georgia
Died: 17 October 1966, Los Angeles, California

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while attached to the U.S.S. California during the surprise enemy Japanese aerial attack on Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, 7 December 1941. In charge of the ordnance repair party on the third deck when the first Japanese torpedo struck almost directly under his station, Lt. (then Gunner) Pharris was stunned and severely injured by the concussion which hurled him to the overhead and back to the deck. Quickly recovering, he acted on his own initiative to set up a hand-supply ammunition train for the antiaircraft guns. With water and oil rushing in where the port bulkhead had been torn up from the deck, with many of the remaining crewmembers overcome by oil fumes, and the ship without power and listing heavily to port as a result of a second torpedo hit, Lt. Pharris ordered the shipfitters to counterflood. Twice rendered unconscious by the nauseous fumes and handicapped by his painful injuries, he persisted in his desperate efforts to speed up the supply of ammunition and at the same time repeatedly risked his life to enter flooding compartments and drag to safety unconscious shipmates who were gradually being submerged in oil. By his inspiring leadership, his valiant efforts and his extreme loyalty to his ship and her crew, he saved many of his shipmates from death and was largely responsible for keeping the California in action during the attack. His heroic conduct throughout this first eventful engagement of World War II reflects the highest credit upon Lt. Pharris and enhances the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Note: USS Pharris (DE 1094) was named in his honour.



Radio Electrician (Warrant Officer), US Navy; USS California (BB 44)

Born: 9 December 1895, Thomaston, Connecticut
Died: 7 December 1941, Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii

Citation: For distinguished conduct in the line of his profession, extraordinary courage and disregard of his own safety during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. After the mechanized ammunition hoists were put out of action in the U.S.S. California, Reeves, on his own initiative, in a burning passageway, assisted in the maintenance of an ammunition supply by hand to the antiaircraft guns until he was overcome by smoke and fire, which resulted in his death.

Note: USS Reeves (DE 156) was named in his honour.



Machinist, US Navy; USS Nevada (BB 36)

Born: 8 December 1910, Beverly, Kansas
Death: 17 May 1992, Bremerton, Washington

Citation: For distinguished conduct in the line of his profession, extraordinary courage and disregard of his own life during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. When his station in the forward dynamo room of the U.S.S. Nevada became almost untenable due to smoke, steam, and heat, Machinist Ross forced his men to leave that station and performed all the duties himself until blinded and unconscious. Upon being rescued and resuscitated, he returned and secured the forward dynamo room and proceeded to the after dynamo room where he was later again rendered unconscious by exhaustion. Again recovering consciousness he returned to his station where he remained until directed to abandon it.

Note: USS Ross (DDG 71) was named in his honour.



Machinist's Mate First Class, US Navy; USS California (BB 44)

Born: 13 July 1915, Massillon, Ohio
Died: 7 December 1941, Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii

Citation: For conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and complete disregard of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. The compartment, in the U.S.S. California, in which the air compressor, to which Scott was assigned as his battle station, was flooded as the result of a torpedo hit. The remainder of the personnel evacuated that compartment but Scott refused to leave, saying words to the effect "This is my station and I will stay and give them air as long as the guns are going."

Note: USS Scott (DE 214) was named in his honour.



Chief Watertender, US Navy; USS Utah (AG 16)

Born: 3 June 1893, Prolog, Austria
Died: 7 December 1941, Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii

Citation: For distinguished conduct in the line of his profession, and extraordinary courage and disregard of his own safety, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor by the Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. Although realizing that the ship was capsizing, as a result of enemy bombing and torpedoing, Tomich remained at his post in the engineering plant of the U.S.S. Utah, until he saw that all boilers were secured and all fireroom personnel had left their stations, and by so doing lost his own life.

Note: USS Tomich (DE 242) was named in his honour.



Captain, US Navy; commanding USS Arizona (BB 39)

Born: 5 April 1888, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Died: 7 December 1941, Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii

Citation: For conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and complete disregard of his own life, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor T.H., by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. As commanding officer of the U.S.S. Arizona, Capt. Van Valkenburgh gallantly fought his ship until the U.S.S. Arizona blew up from magazine explosions and a direct bomb hit on the bridge which resulted in the loss of his life.

Note: USS Van Valkenburgh (DD 656) was named in his honour.



Seaman First Class, US Navy; USS Oklahoma (BB 37)

Born: 10 September 1921, Springfield, Ohio
Died: 7 December 1941, Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii

Citation: For conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and complete disregard of his life, above and beyond the call of duty, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. When it was seen that the U.S.S. Oklahoma was going to capsize and the order was given to abandon ship, Ward remained in a turret holding a flashlight so the remainder of the turret crew could see to escape, thereby sacrificing his own life.

Note: USS J Richard Ward (DE 243) was named in his honour.



Commander, US Navy; commanding USS Vestal (AR 4)

Born: 6 March 1894, Washington, DC
Died: 13 November 1942, off Guadalcanal

Citation: For distinguished conduct in action, outstanding heroism and utter disregard of his own safety, above and beyond the call of duty, as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Vestal, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, by enemy Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. Comdr. Young proceeded to the bridge and later took personal command of the 3-inch antiaircraft gun. When blown overboard by the blast of the forward magazine explosion of the U.S.S. Arizona, to which the U.S.S. Vestal was moored, he swam back to his ship. The entire forward part of the U.S.S. Arizona was a blazing inferno with oil afire on the water between the 2 ships; as a result of several bomb hits, the U.S.S. Vestal was afire in several places, was settling and taking on a list. Despite severe enemy bombing and strafing at the time, and his shocking experience of having been blown overboard, Comdr. Young, with extreme coolness and calmness, moved his ship to an anchorage distant from the U.S.S. Arizona, and subsequently beached the U.S.S. Vestal upon determining that such action was required to save his ship.

Note: USS Cassin Young (DD 793) was named in his honour.

Update 1314 2 Jun 2010: Added date of Lieutenant Finn's death.

No, I'm not discriminating or being chauvinistic by only listing Navy personnel. No member of the US Army, Army Air Corps, Marine Corps or Coast Guard was awarded the Medal of Honor in connexion with the Japanese attacks on Hawai`i.