30 June 2008

New Brit military equipment on display

ZUI this article from the MOD Defence News:
From new armoured vehicles to new varieties of 24 hour ration packs and blood transfusion machines, the latest Defence Equipment procured by the MOD was on show at this week's DVD event. Report by Danny Chapman.

DVD 2008, organised by Defence Equipment and Support, the part of the MOD which equips and supports the UK's Armed Forces, brought together manufacturers, purchasers and users in order to see the latest products and developments from the defence industry.


On Milbrook's off-road tracks, visitors, who included numerous British and other countries' military personnel, got to try out the new vehicles.

These included the two newest vehicles bought by the MOD, the Ridgback and the Panther. The Ridgback is created by upgrading American Cougar 4x4s with additional protection, weapons, communications systems and specialist electronic counter-measures equipment. 157 Cougars are currently undergoing the transformation and will soon be available for use by British troops in the urban environments of Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Panther is a new seven tonne command and liaison vehicle, which can operate in all weathers, day and night using thermal imaging equipment that "sees" in the dark. The vehicles are protected against a range of threats including small arms, blast and anti-personnel mines, and the majority are fitted with a sophisticated weapon system that allows the user to operate the machine guns with a camera and joystick from inside the vehicle.


DVD though is no longer just about vehicles and in an Army field kitchen in another part of the site, 20 new 24 hour ration pack menus were unveiled.

These new Multi Climate Ration Packs have been developed based on feedback from troops on operations and sees the replacement of things like chocolate bars, which melt, with energy bars and flapjacks and the introduction of such dishes as cold pasta which are far more suitable to the conditions and tempo of operations troops are working in. Six extra menus have been created for Halal, Vegetarian and Sikh/Hindu diners. The main aim though is to give troops living off the packs for weeks at a time a bit more variety.



MOD photographs © Crown Copyright/MOD 2008.

Giant predatory opossums?

Darren Naish writes about borhyaenoids ("Invasion of the marsupial weasels, dogs, cats and bears... or is it?").

Update 1940 7 July: Continued here ("Long-snouted marsupial martens and false thylacines") and here ("Marsupial 'bears' and marsupial sabre-tooths").

The Bloody Nipple Saga

I just discovered that someone is doing a take-off on Conan the Barbarian in the style of Shamus Young's DM of the Ring (the Lord of the Rings movies) and David Morgan-Mar's Darths and Droids (the Star Wars movies). He's up to chapter 65 already, so I guess I'll be spending some time there....

29 June 2008

Victoria Cross: J. Trewavas


Seaman, Royal Navy; HMS Beagle

Born: 14 December 1835, Mousehole, Cornwall
Died: 20 July 1905, Mousehole, Cornwall

Citation: "Particularly mentioned as having cut the hawsers of the floating bridge in the Straits of Genitchi [on 3 July 1855], under a heavy fire of musketry, on which occasion he was wounded." This service was performed by the crews of the Captain's gig, and of one of the paddle-box boats of the "Beagle," under a heavy fire of musketry at about a distance of eighty yards; the beach being completely lined with troops, and the adjacent houses filled with Riflemen. Joseph Trewavas is especially mentioned in the despatches as having been the person who cut the hawser.
(Despatch from Admiral Lord Lyons of 10th July, 1855, No. 546.)

(London Gazette Issue 21971 dated 24 Feb 1857, published 24 Feb 1857.)

Medal of Honor: W. Wright


Yeoman, US Navy; USS Monticello

Born: 1835, London, England
Died: unknown

Citation: Served as yeoman on board the U.S.S. Monticello during the reconnaissance of the harbor and water defenses of Wilmington, N.C., 23 to 25 June 1864. Taking part in a reconnaissance of enemy defenses which covered a period of 2 days and nights, Wright courageously carried out his cutting of a telegraph wire and the capture of a large group of prisoners. Although in immediate danger from the enemy at all times, Wright showed gallantry and coolness throughout this action which resulted in the gaining of much vital information of the rebel defenses.

27 June 2008


Two meteors have been in the news lately. The big one, of course, is the one that may have hit Mars a few billion years ago. ZUI this NASA press release:
New analysis of Mars' terrain using NASA spacecraft observations reveals what appears to be by far the largest impact crater ever found in the solar system.

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Global Surveyor have provided detailed information about the elevations and gravity of the Red Planet's northern and southern hemispheres. A new study using this information may solve one of the biggest remaining mysteries in the solar system: why does Mars have two strikingly different kinds of terrain in its northern and southern hemispheres? The huge crater is creating intense scientific interest.

The mystery of the two-faced nature of Mars has perplexed scientists since the first comprehensive images of the surface were beamed home by NASA spacecraft in the 1970s. The main hypotheses have been an ancient impact or some internal process related to the planet's molten subsurface layers. The impact idea, proposed in 1984, fell into disfavor because the basin's shape didn't seem to fit the expected round shape for a crater.


A giant northern basin that covers about 40 percent of Mars' surface, sometimes called the Borealis basin, is the remains of a colossal impact early in the solar system's formation, the new analysis suggests. At 5,300 miles across, it is about four times wider than the next-biggest impact basin known, the Hellas basin on southern Mars. An accompanying report calculates that the impacting object that produced the Borealis basin must have been about 1,200 miles across. That's larger than Pluto.

"This is an impressive result that has implications not only for the evolution of early Mars, but also for early Earth's formation," said Michael Meyer, the Mars chief scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

This northern-hemisphere basin on Mars is one of the smoothest surfaces found in the solar system. The southern hemisphere is high, rough, heavily cratered terrain, which ranges from 2.5 to 5 miles higher in elevation than the basin floor.


One complicating factor in revealing the elliptical shape of the basin was that after the time of the impact, which must have been at least 3.9 billion years ago, giant volcanoes formed along one part of the basin rim and created a huge region of high, rough terrain that obscures the basin's outlines. It took a combination of gravity data, which tend to reveal underlying structure, with data on current surface elevations to reconstruct a map of Mars elevations as they existed before the volcanoes erupted.

ZUI also this article from the New York Times:
The lopsided shape of Mars may well be a result of a cataclysmic impact of a Pluto-size meteor billions of years ago, three teams of scientists are reporting. That would suggest that the lowlands of Mars’s northern hemisphere are a single gigantic impact crater, the largest crater in the solar system.

“The early solar system was a pretty exciting place,” said Francis Nimmo, an associate professor of earth and planetary sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the lead author of one of three scientific papers to appear in Thursday’s issue of Nature. “There were big collisions happening fairly frequently, and those collisions affected what the planets ultimately ended up looking like.”

About the same time, more than four billion years ago, Earth is believed to have been hit by a Mars-size object, which created the Moon, and signs of a giant impact have also been detected on Mercury.

The San Francisco Chronicle also has a good article.

Another meteor hit what is now Chesapeake Bay some 35 million years ago. ZUI this article from Fox News:
The true impact of an asteroid or comet crashing near the Chesapeake Bay 35 million years ago has been examined in detail for the first time. The analysis reveals the resilience of life in the aftermath of disaster.

The impact crater, which is buried under 400 to 1,200 feet (120 to 365 meters) of sand, silt and clay, spans twice the length of Manhattan.

The sprawling depression helped create what would eventually become Chesapeake Bay. About 10,000 years ago, ice sheets began to melt and once-dry river valleys filled with water.

The rivers of the Chesapeake region converged directly over the buried crater, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

ZUI also this article from the Baltimore Sun:
The effort to study the Chesapeake Bay impact crater is a work in progress. An international team of 40 scientists will continue testing the shattered rocks, sediment and microbes in core samples extracted on a privately owned farm five miles north of Cape Charles, Va., between July and December 2005.

But so far, scientists say evidence in the shattered and superheated rocks and sediments shows that when the mile-wide meteorite splashed into the underwater coastal plain, it created a tsunami that threw vapors into space, incinerated everything in its path and sent shattered rocky material flying for thousands of miles.

"It would've been a huge splash," said David A. Kring, a Houston-based crater expert at the Lunar and Planetary Institute, who reviewed the report but was not a part of the study.

The bay crater is the largest in the United States and by some estimates the sixth-largest in the world.

The meteorite that formed it helped shape the bay, continues to affect water supplies in surrounding Virginia communities and is used by teachers in Maryland and elsewhere to spark interest in geology.


My old shipmate Blunoz ('scuse, please, I mean Mr Blunoz - he's an O-ganger) was reminiscing last month about where he'd been and what he'd been doing on each of the anniversaries of his commissioning. For 1998, he said:
4 Years: USS PROVIDENCE (SSN 719), Groton, CT. While my fiancee, LW, is back in Boston planning our wedding, I'm now on my second deployment. This time it is to the Persian Gulf as part of the JOHN C STENNIS battle group. I pin on LT soon and let the extra pay accumulate in my bank account to pay for our honeymoon and stuff.

This led to the following exchange in the comments on his post:
RM1: I seem to remember a #10 can of corn somewhere in there.... 8)
Blunoz: RM1 - I'm surprised you remember that. Man, that creamed corn gets into EVERY bodily crevasse!!! That was extremely nasty. Thanks for the memory

Corn? Yes, corn. I've talked before about Halfway Night, the celebration that marks the midpoint of a deployment. One of the traditional events during Halfway Night is "Corn on the COB."

The corn, in this case, is a #10 can* of cream-style corn, which is auctioned off to the highest bidder.** The COB is the Chief of the Boat, the senior enlisted man on board (the submarine equivalent of a skimmer*** command master chief or an Army command sergeant major). After the auction is completed, the COB reports to the mess decks if he's not already there, the can of corn is opened and the winning bidder gets to pour the whole thing over the COB's head, to much applause from the rest of the crew.

So what does this have to do with Mr Blunoz? Well, during the '98 Halfway Night the bidding for the can of corn was so intense that they decided to auction off a second can - and then announced that the target could be anybody in the crew (only the CO was exempt). The winning bidders for this second can were a pair of JOs, and their target of choice was none other than Mr Blunoz. Something to do with his having missed the first month or two of the deployment, I believe....

I had hoped to post a picture here of Mr Blunoz in all his corn glory, but my pics from that deployment are packed away in one of the boxes in the basement, and my accomplice didn't get one. Oh, well....

* A #10 can holds around 12-13 cups (US measure), or around three litres.
** The money raised in this manner goes to the Rec Committee, to be used on the next ship's picnic, Xmas party, or what-have-you.
*** Surface fleet.

23 June 2008

The new classics

This list of "the 100 best reads from 1983 to 2008" comes from Entertainment Weekly. As usual with such lists, I've bolded the ones I've read.

1. The Road, Cormac McCarthy (2006)
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J K Rowling (2000)
3. Beloved, Toni Morrison (1987)
4. The Liars' Club, Mary Karr (1995)
5. American Pastoral, Philip Roth (1997)
6. Mystic River, Dennis Lehane (2001)
7. Maus, Art Spiegelman (1986/1991)
8. Selected Stories, Alice Munro (1996)
9. Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier (1997)
10. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami (1997)
11. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer (1997)
12. Blindness, José Saramago (1998)
13. Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (1986-87)
14. Black Water, Joyce Carol Oates (1992)
15. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers (2000)
16. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood (1986)
17. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez (1988)
18. Rabbit at Rest, John Updike (1990)
19. On Beauty, Zadie Smith (2005)
20. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding (1998)
21. On Writing, Stephen King (2000)
22. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz (2007)
23. The Ghost Road, Pat Barker (1996)
24. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry (1985)
25. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan (1989)
26. Neuromancer, William Gibson (1984)
27. Possession, A S Byatt (1990)
28. Naked, David Sedaris (1997)
29. Bel Canto, Anne Patchett (2001)
30. Case Histories, Kate Atkinson (2004)
31. The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien (1990)
32. Parting the Waters, Taylor Branch (1988)
33. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion (2005)
34. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold (2002)
35. The Line of Beauty, Alan Hollinghurst (2004)
36. Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt (1996)
37. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi (2003)
38. Birds of America, Lorrie Moore (1998)
39. Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri (2000)
40. His Dark Materials,* Philip Pullman (1995-2000)
41. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros (1984)
42. LaBrava, Elmore Leonard (1983)
43. Borrowed Time, Paul Monette (1988)
44. Praying for Sheetrock, Melissa Fay Greene (1991)
45. Eva Luna, Isabel Allende (1988)
46. Sandman, Neil Gaiman (1988-1996)
47. World's Fair, E L Doctorow (1985)
48. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (1998)
49. Clockers, Richard Price (1992)
50. The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen (2001)
51. The Journalist and the Murderer, Janet Malcom (1990)
52. Waiting to Exhale, Terry McMillan (1992)
53. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon (2000)
54. Jimmy Corrigan, Chris Ware (2000)
55. The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls (2006)
56. The Night Manager, John le Carré (1993)
57. The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe (1987)
58. Drop City, T C Boyle (2003)
59. Krik? Krak!, Edwidge Danticat (1995)
60. Nickel & Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich (2001)
61. Money, Martin Amis (1985)
62. Last Train To Memphis, Peter Guralnick (1994)
63. Pastoralia, George Saunders (2000)
64. Underworld, Don DeLillo (1997)
65. The Giver, Lois Lowry (1993)
66. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, David Foster Wallace (1997)
67. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (2003)
68. Fun Home, Alison Bechdel (2006)
69. Secret History, Donna Tartt (1992)
70. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell (2004)
71. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Ann Fadiman (1997)
72. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon (2003)
73. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving (1989)
74. Friday Night Lights, H G Bissinger (1990)
75. Cathedral, Raymond Carver (1983)
76. A Sight for Sore Eyes, Ruth Rendell (1998)
77. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)
78. Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert (2006)
79. The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell (2000)
80. Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney (1984)
81. Backlash, Susan Faludi (1991)
82. Atonement, Ian McEwan (2002)
83. The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields (1994)
84. Holes, Louis Sachar (1998)
85. Gilead, Marilynne Robinson (2004)
86. And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts (1987)
87. The Ruins, Scott Smith (2006)
88. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby (1995)
89. Close Range, Annie Proulx (1999)
90. Comfort Me With Apples, Ruth Reichl (2001)
91. Random Family, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc (2003)
92. Presumed Innocent, Scott Turow (1987)
93. A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley (1991)
94. Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser (2001)
95. Kaaterskill Falls, Allegra Goodman (1998)
96. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown (2003)
97. Jesus’ Son, Denis Johnson (1992)
98. The Predators' Ball, Connie Bruck (1988)
99. Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman (1995)
100. America (the Book), Jon Stewart/Daily Show (2004)

Four of them. (Though I've also read parts of Lonesome Dove and Neuromancer, and I may have read The Handmaid's Tale - I keep meaning to check and see if it's the book I think it is.) A lot of these books I've never even heard of, and others I've heard of but have no desire to even look at.

It's interesting that Goblet of Fire is on this list, but none of the other Harry Potter books are. (My favourite from the series is The Prisoner of Azkaban.) I also find it interesting that two of these books - Holes and The Giver - are Newbery Medal winners.

* Northern Lights (aka The Golden Compass), The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass

This day in history: 23 Jun

1944: Corporal Sefania Sukanaivalu, 3rd Battalion, Fijian Infantry Regiment, crawled forward in order to rescue some wounded men on Bougainville, Solomon Islands. After successfully bringing in two men, he went to bring in a third, but on the return journey was seriously wounded, making it impossible for him to move his legs. Several attempts were made to rescue him, but these only resulted in further casualties. Knowing that his men would never abandon him while he was still alive, Sukanaivalu raised himself as high as he could, in full view of the enemy, and was immediately shot and killed. Sukanaivalu was awarded the Victoria Cross, the only Fijian to have received this honour.

That same day, in Burma, a battalion of the 6th Gurkha Rifles was ordered to attack the railway bridge at Mogaung. Both leading platoons of B Company were immediately pinned by an intense cross-fire which wiped out one section completely with the exception of the section commander and two other men. The section commander immediately led a charge on the Red House, but was at once badly wounded; the remaining two men continued the attack, but one was also wounded. The remaining man, Rifleman Tul Bahadur Pun, then seized the Bren gun, and firing from the hip as he went, continued the charge alone, in the face of intense machine-gun fire. Silhouetted against the sunrise, he presented a perfect target as he moved thirty yards over open ground, ankle deep in mud, but nonetheless reached one bunker and closed with the Japanese. He killed three, put five more to flight, and captured two light machine guns and much ammunition. He then gave supporting fire from the bunker to the remainder of his platoon, enabling them to reach their objective. Tul Bahadur Pun was also awarded the Victoria Cross.*

* Tul Bahadur Pun is one of the 11 surviving holders of the Victoria Cross.

22 June 2008

Victoria Cross: L. O'Connor


Lieutenant (then Serjeant), 23rd Regiment

Born: 21 January 1831, Elphin, County Roscommon, Ireland
Died: 1 February 1915, Piccadilly, London

Citation: Was one of the centre Serjeants at the Battle of the Alma [in the Crimea, on 20 September 1854], and advanced between the Officers, carrying the colours. When near the redoubt, Lieutenant Anstruther, who was carrying a colour, was mortally wounded, and he was shot in the breast at the same time, and fell; but, recovering himself, snatched up the colour from the ground, and continued to carry it till the end of the action, although urged by Captain Granville to relinquish it, and go to the rear, on account of his wound; was recommended for, and received his commission for his services at the Alma. Also behaved with great gallantry at the assault on the Redan, 8th September, 1855, where he was shot through both thighs.

(London Gazette Issue 21971 dated 24 Feb 1857, published 24 Feb 1857.)

Note: This was the first Victoria Cross to be awarded to a member of the British Army.

Medal of Honor: C. J. Loring Jr.


Major, US Air Force; 80th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, 8th Fighter-Bomber Wing

Born: 2 October 1918, Portland, Maine
Died: 22 November 1952, near Sniper Ridge, North Korea

Citation: Maj. Loring distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. While leading a night of 4 F-80 type aircraft on a close support mission [near Sniper Ridge, North Korea, 22 November 1952], Maj. Loring was briefed by a controller to dive-bomb enemy gun positions which were harassing friendly ground troops. After verifying the location of the target, Maj. Loring rolled into his dive bomb run. Throughout the run, extremely accurate ground fire was directed on his aircraft. Disregarding the accuracy and intensity of the ground fire, Maj. Loring aggressively continued to press the attack until his aircraft was hit. At approximately 4,000 feet, he deliberately altered his course and aimed his diving aircraft at active gun emplacements concentrated on a ridge northwest of the briefed target, turned his aircraft 45 degrees to the left, pulled up in a deliberate, controlled maneuver, and elected to sacrifice his life by diving his aircraft directly into the midst of the enemy emplacements. His selfless and heroic action completely destroyed the enemy gun emplacement and eliminated a dangerous threat to United Nations ground forces. Maj. Loring's noble spirit, superlative courage, and conspicuous self-sacrifice in inflicting maximum damage on the enemy exemplified valor of the highest degree and his actions were in keeping with the finest traditions of the U.S. Air Force.

20 June 2008

A Pre-Colonoscopy Poem

ZUI this post from my fellow submarine blogger Myron:
One of the guys over on Martini’s BBS let us know he was about to get his first scope job. Here’s a thoughtful little poem posted by another of the posters.


A book I read last month (Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea, by Thomas Cahill) discussed ancient Greek poetry, and this poem - or poem fragment - by Sappho caught my eye.

Δεδυκε μεν α σελαννα
και Πληιαδες, μεσαι δε
νυκτες, παρα δ' ερχετ' ωρα,
εγω δε μονα κατευδω.

The sinking moon has left the sky,
The Pleiades have also gone.
Midnight comes--and goes, the hours fly
And solitary still, I lie.

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

18 June 2008

Follow-up on HMS Tireless

ZUI this article from the MOD Defence News:
The Ministry of Defence has today, 12 June 2008, released the Board of Inquiry (BOI) report into the tragic loss of two Royal Navy Submariners, and the injury of a third, following an explosion onboard HMS Tireless on 21 March 2007.

The BOI concluded that the explosion which caused the death of Leading Operator Mechanic Paul McCann and Operator Mechanic Anthony Huntrod, was caused by a faulty self-contained oxygen generator (SCOG) which was part of the backup generator and was lit during a routine drill.


The Board has not determined precisely what caused the SCOG to explode. The report identified the most likely cause as significant internal contamination of the cannister with oil, possibly exacerbated by cracking within the cannister. The BOI concluded that the contamination could have occurred in storage on land or onboard submarines, with the latter being the most likely source.

The SCOG, I believe, is the RN equivalent of the US Navy's oxygen candles.

Queen's Birthday Honours List

This year's list has been published. Reading through it, I find:

Officers of the Order of the British Empire
Ms Malorie BLACKMAN - For services to Children's Literature.

Members of the Order of the British Empire
Roderick James HUNT - For services to Education, particularly Children's Literacy.

I haven't read any of Blackman's books, but I'm going to see what our library has. Hunt, presumably, is the chap who writes books for the Oxford Reading Tree learn-to-read programme.

And I have to admit to being intrigued by the MBE awarded to Kate Sandra, Mrs Fyfe, for "services to the Kiltmaking Industry in Scotland."

Victoria Cross: 18 Jun 1855


Captain, Royal Navy; commanding HMS Diamond, attached Naval Brigade

Born: 2 November 1824, London
Died: 27 April 1858, Cawnpore, India

Citation: Sir Stephen Lushington recommends this Officer:–
1st. For having on the 18th October, 1854, at the greatest possible risk, taken up a live shell, the fuze still burning, from among several powder cases, outside the magazine, and thrown it over the parapet (the shell bursting as it left his hands), thereby saving the magazines, and the lives of those immediately round it.
(Despatch from Sir S. Lushington, inclosed in letter from Admiral Lord Lyons, 10th May, 1856.)
2nd. On the 5th November, 1854, at the battle of Inkerman, for joining the Officers of the Grenadier Guards, and assisting in defending the colours of that Regiment, when hard pressed at the Sandbag Battery. (Sir S. Lushington is authorized to make this statement by the Lieutenant-General Commanding the Division, His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, who is ready to bear testimony to the fact.)
3rd. On the 18th June, 1855, for volunteering to lead the Ladder Party at the assault on the Redan, and carrying the first ladder until wounded.

(London Gazette Issue 21971 dated 24 Feb 1857, published 24 Feb 1857.)

Note: Captain Peel (eventually Captain Sir William Peel VC KCB) was the son of English Prime Minister The Rt Hon Sir Robert Peel, Bt.


Midshipman, Royal Navy; HMS Diamond, attached Naval Brigade

Born: 17 January 1837, Clifton, Bristol
Died: 20 May 1868, Hokitika, New Zealand

Citation: Sir Stephen Lushington recommends this officer:–1st. For answering a call for volunteers to bring in powder to the Battery [on 18 October 1854], from a waggon in a very exposed position under a destructive fire, a shot having disabled the horses. (This was reported by Captain Peel, commanding the Battery at the time.)
2nd. For accompanying Captain Peel [on 5 November 1854] at the Battle of Inkermann as Aide-de-camp.
3rd. For devotion to his leader, Captain Peel, on the 18th June, 1855, in tying a tourniquet on his arm on the glacis of the Redan, whilst exposed to a very heavy fire.
(Despatch from Sir S. Lushington inclosed in letter from Admiral Lord Lyons, 10th May, 1856.)

(London Gazette Issue 21971 dated 24 Feb 1857, published 24 Feb 1857.)

Note: On 4 September 1861, after deserting whilst awaiting court martial for an unspecified offence, Daniels became the first man* to forfeit his VC. "Whereas it hath been reported unto us that EDWARD ST. JOHN DANIEL late a Lieutenant in Our Navy, upon whom we have conferred the decoration of the Victoria Cross, has been accused of a disgraceful offence, and having evaded enquiry by desertion from Our Service, his name has been removed from the list of officers of Our Navy ... Know ye therefore, that we are pleased to command and declare that the said Edward St. John Daniel shall no longer be entitled to have his name enrolled in the Registry of persons on whom we have conferred the said decoration, but shall be and he is hereby judged and declared to be henceforth removed and degraded from all and singular rights, privileges and advantages appertaining thereunto."


Commander (then Lieutenant), Royal Navy; Naval Brigade

Born: 26 September 1827, Boulogne, France
Died: 13 February 1907, Southsea, Hampshire


Captain of the Forecastle, Royal Navy; Naval Brigade

Born: 1822, Bristol
Died: 25 February 1857, Woolwich, London


Boatswain's Mate, Royal Navy; Naval Brigade

Born: 21 December 1822, Romsey, Hampshire
Died: 23 November 1896, Portsmouth, Hampshire

Joint Citation: On the 18th June, 1855, immediately after the assault on Sebastopol, a soldier of the 57th Regiment, who had been shot through both legs, was observed sitting up, and calling for assistance. Climbing over the breastwork of the advanced sap, Commander Raby and the two seamen proceeded upwards of seventy yards across the open space towards the salient angle of the Redan, and in spite of the heavy fire which was still continuing, succeeded in carrying the wounded soldier to a place of safety, at the imminent risk of their own lives.
(Letter from Sir S. Lushington, 7th June, 1856.)

(London Gazette Issue 21971 dated 24 Feb 1857, published 24 Feb 1857.)

Note: Commander Raby's was the first Victoria Cross presented, on 28 Jun 1857.


Lieutenant, Royal Engineers

Born: 27 June 1831, Acton, London
Died: 17 December 1899, Acton, London

Citation: Determined gallantry at the head of a Ladder Party, at the assault of the Redan, on the 18th June, 1855.
Devoted heroism in sallying out of the trenches on numerous occasions, and bringing in wounded Officers and Men.

(London Gazette Issue 21971 dated 24 Feb 1857, published 24 Feb 1857.)


Sapper, Royal Engineers

Born: August 1829, Huntly, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Died: 17 September 1874, Aberdeen, Scotland

Citation: Conspicuous valour in leading the Sailors with the ladders to the storming of the Redan, on the 18th June, 1855. He was invaluable on that day.
Devoted conduct in rescuing a wounded man from the open, although he himself had just previously been wounded by a bullet in the side.

(London Gazette Issue 21971 dated 24 Feb 1857, published 24 Feb 1857.)


Corporal (later Lance-Serjeant), 17th Regiment

Born: 1825, Lurgan, County Armagh, Ireland
Died: 16 January 1906, Harold's Cross, Dublin, Ireland

Citation: For repeatedly going out in the front of the advanced trenches against the Great Redan, on the 18th June, 1855, under a very heavy fire, after the column had retired from the assault, and bringing in wounded comrades.

(London Gazette Issue 21971 dated 24 Feb 1857, published 24 Feb 1857.)


Private, 34th Regiment

Born: February 1836, Bloomsbury, London
Died: 14 September 1881, Birmingham, Warwickshire

Citation: For having, on the 18th June, 1855, after the Regiment had retired into the trenches from the assault on the Redan, gone out into the open ground, under a heavy fire, in broad daylight, and brought in wounded soldiers outside the trenches.

(London Gazette Issue 21971 dated 24 Feb 1857, published 24 Feb 1857.)


Private, 90th Regiment

Born: Mullijnger, West Meath, Ireland
Died: 24 September 1857, Lucknow, India

Citation: After the attack on the Redan, 18th June, 1855, went out of the trenches under a very heavy fire, and brought in several wounded men.
Also, when with a working party in the most advanced trench, on 6th September, 1855, went out in front of the trenches, under a very heavy fire, and assisted in bringing in Captain Buckley, Scots Fusilier Guards, lying dangerously wounded.

(London Gazette Issue 21971 dated 24 Feb 1857, published 24 Feb 1857.)


Lieutenant, 7th Regiment

Born: 12 April 1834, Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: 17 December 1909, Chelsea, London

Citation: After the troops had retreated on the morning of the 18th June, 1855, Lieutenant W. Hope being informed by the late Serjeant-Major William Bacon, who was himself wounded, that Lieutenant and Adjutant Hobson was lying outside the trenches badly wounded, went out to look for him, and found him lying in the old agricultural ditch running towards the left flank of the Redan. He then returned, and got four men to bring him in. Finding, however, that Lieutenant Hobson could not be removed without a stretcher, he then ran back across the open to Egerton's Pit, where he procured one, and carried it to where Lieutenant Hobson was lying.
All this was done under a very heavy fire from the Russian batteries.

(London Gazette Issue 21997 dated 5 May 1857, published 5 May 1857.)


Captain, 18th Regiment

Born: 25 May 1829, Pembrokestown, County Wexford, Ireland
Died: 14 January 1873, Bruges, Belgium

Citation: For having, after being engaged in the attack on the Redan [at Sebastopol, on the 18th June, 1855], repeatedly assisted, at great personal risk under a heavy fire of shell and grape, in rescuing wounded men from exposed situations; and also, while in command of a covering party, two days later, for having rushed with the most prompt and daring gallantry to a spot where a fire-ball from the enemy had just been lodged, which he effectually extinguished, before it had betrayed the position of the working party under his protection,-thus saving it from a murderous fire of shell and grape, which was immediately opened upon the spot where the fire-ball had fallen.

(London Gazette Issue 22043 dated 25 Sep 1857, published 25 Sep 1857.)

Note: Captain Esmonde's great-nephew, Lieut Cmdr E Esmonde VC DSO, Fleet Air Arm, was awarded the Victoria Cross after being killed whilst attacking the German cruiser Prinz Eugen on 12 Feb 1942.


Captain, Royal Engineers

Born: 12 December 1829, Sunzel, Riga, Russia
Died: 8 March 1890, at sea

Citation: For fearless conduct, in having, on [18 June 1855] the night after the unsuccessful attack on the Redan [at Sebastopol], volunteered to command a party of volunteers, who proceeded to search for and bring back the scaling ladders left behind after the repulse; and while successfully performing this task, of rescuing trophies from the Russians, Captain Elphinstone conducted a persevering search, close to the enemy, for wounded men, twenty of whom he rescued and brought back to the Trenches.

(London Gazette issue 22149 dated 4 Jun 1858, published 4 Jun 1858.)

Note: Major General Sir Howard Elphinstone VC KCB CMG CB drowned after being swept overboard by a wave. Some online sources say that this happened in the Bay of Biscay, near Ushant; others say near Tenerife, in the Canary Islands.


Colour Serjeant, Royal Engineers

Born: 1820, Orwell, Kinross, Scotland
Died: 6 December 1892, Fulham, London

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry in the assault on the Redan [at Sebastopol, on the 18th June, 1855], when, after approaching it with the leading ladders, he formed a caponnière across the ditch, as well as a ramp, by fearlessly tearing down gabions from the parapet, and placing and filling them until he was disabled from wounds.

(London Gazette issue 22149 dated 4 Jun 1858, published 4 Jun 1858.)

Notes: Caponnière. Gabion.

* Eight men have forfeited their awards of the VC due to misconduct. In addition to being the first, Daniel was also the only officer and the only member of the Royal Navy.

This day in history: 18 Jun

1429: French forces led by Jeanne d'Arc crushed the main English army, under Sir John Fastolf and Sir John Talbot, at the Battle of Patay.

1812: President James Madison signed a declaration of war with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, beginning the War of 1812.

1815: British and allied forces commanded by Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington and Gebhard von Blücher defeated the French (under the Emperor Napoleon and Marshal Michel Ney) in the Battle of Waterloo. This led to Napoleon's abdicating the throne of France for the second and final time, and the restoration of Louis XVIII.

1855: British forces attacked the Russian Redan at Sebastopol, in the Crimea, but were forced to withdraw. Over a dozen Victoria Crosses were awarded to participants.

1928: Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and five other men disappeared whilst flying on a rescue mission. They were looking for survivors of Umberto Nobile's dirigible Italia, which had crashed on 25 May on the way home from the North Pole.

That same day, a Fokker F.VIIb/3m aircraft piloted by Wilmer Stultz landed at Burry Port, Wales. Stultz had taken off from Trepassey Harbor, Newfoundland, the preceding day with co-pilot/mechanic Louis Gordon and passenger Amelia Earhart.

1940: Prime Minister Winston Churchill addressed the House of Commons:
What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, "This was their finest hour."

That same day, Charles de Gaulle broadcast the Appeal of June 18, declaring that the war for France was not yet over, and rallying the country in support of the Resistance.

1983: Space shuttle Challenger was launched from Cape Canaveral on its second flight (mission STS-7). On board were commander Robert L Crippen, pilot Frederick H Hauck, and mission specialists John M Fabian, Sally K Ride and Norman E Thagard. Ride was the first American woman in space.

Piet Heyn (1577–1629), Sir Thomas Picton (1758–1815), Max Immelmann (1890–1916) and Georgi Konstantinovich Zhukov GCB (1896-1974) died on this date.

And happy birthday to Ludwig Freiherr von der Tann-Rathsamhausen* (1815-1881), Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova (1901—1918), Bud Collyer (1908–1969), Red Adair (1915–2004), Richard Boone (1917-1981), Sir Paul McCartney MBE (1942-TBD) and Blake Shelton (1976-TBD).

* Link to a page in German - sorry.

16 June 2008

Get Smart

The base theatre had a sneak preview of Get Smart Saturday night. I wasn't really sure what to expect of it - I knew next to nothing about Anne Hathaway, I'd never even heard of Steve Carell, and I still have neither seen a trailer nor read a review. And frankly, after The Nude Bomb, I was more than a little dubious about the whole thing.

12-year-old K wasn't interested, but 10-year-old A (who has seen trailers) went with N and me. We all loved it. I can't even remember the last time I laughed that hard. At anything.

Presumably everybody already knows the premise - Maxwell Smart (CONTROL Agent 86) is a bumbling secret agent, originally in a '60s TV show which parodied the secret-agent genre.* The head of CONTROL was known as the Chief, and Max's ever-competent partner (and, eventually, wife) didn't seem to have any name other than "Agent 99."

They had me right from the beginning. I was very happy to see that, unlike some movies based on TV shows (The Wild, Wild West comes strongly to mind), this one had the beginning titles backed by the original theme music, with Max walking down that corridor with all the doors (fancier, high-tech doors, but the idea's the thing) slamming shut behind him, and then dropping through the floor of the phone box to reach CONTROL headquarters.**

Carell doesn't have all Don Adams's mannerisms, but he was an excellent excellent choice for the starring role. In some scenes he even manages to look like Adams. And he delivers all of the classic lines - "Sorry about that, Chief," "Would you believe ... ?" and "Missed it by this much" - perfectly, with none of them appearing at all forced (as in, "The audience is going to expect him to say this, so we'd better include it somewhere.")

I don't think Hathaway is anywhere near near as pretty as Barbara Feldon was, but she is decorative and does well as an updated, 21st-century 99.

Alan Arkin is getting old (hard to believe it's over 40 years since The Russians Are Coming the Russians Are Coming!), but he makes a good Chief, taking a much more active part in affairs than Ed Platt's character ever did.

I really like Dwayne Johnson. I've seen other movies starring professional rasslers (Hulk Hogan, Rowdy Roddy Piper), and wasn't particularly impressed, but The Rock turns in an excellent job as incredibly competent Agent 23. I'm looking forward to seeing more films with him.

The movie is set in the present day, so computers and cell phones are everywhere. At the beginning, though, Max walks through a museum exhibit on the old days of CONTROL, and we see Max's little red Sunbeam Tiger and the famous shoe phone. And he actually gets to use both of them later in the film. Hymie the robot shows up, too - at the very end. (Are they already thinking of a sequel? Fine with me!)

We give the film a definite three thumbs up. N's favourite scene, I think, was the briefing with the Vice President. I don't really have a favourite scene, but I think "Would you believe, Chuck Norris with a BB gun?" was definitely the best line (followed by "It was on page 476 of my last report. Doesn't anybody ever read my reports?").

* The first James Bond movies, with Sean Connery, were being made about that time, and they led to comic books (Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD), serious TV shows (The Man fom UNCLE) and this.

** Personally, I'd rather just walk through a secret door in the back of a tailor shop, but YMMV.

15 June 2008

Victoria Cross: J. Towers


Private, 2nd Battalion Scottish Rifles (Cameronians)

Born: 9 September 1897, Church House Farm, Broughton, Preston, Lancashire
Died: 24 January 1977, Preston, Lancashire

Citation: For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty at Méricourt [France] on the 6th October, 1918, when, under heavy fire, five runners having failed to deliver an important message, Pte. Towers, well aware of the fate of the runners who had already attempted the task, volunteered for the duty.
In spite of heavy fire opened on him as soon as he moved, he went straight through from cover to cover and eventually delivered the message.
His valour, determination, and utter disregard of danger were an inspiring example to all.

[London Gazette issue 31108 dated 6 Jan 1919, published 3 Jan 1919.]

Medal of Honor: J. H. Pruitt


Corporal, US Marine Corps; 78th Company, 6th Regiment, 2d Division

Born: 4 October 1896, Fayettesville, Arkansas
Died: 4 October 1918, Blanc Mont, France

Citation: For extraordinary gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 78th Company, 6th Regiment, 2d Division, in action with the enemy at Blanc Mont Ridge, France, 3 October 1918. Cpl. Pruitt, single-handed attacked 2 machineguns, capturing them and killing 2 of the enemy. He then captured 40 prisoners in a dugout nearby. This gallant soldier was killed soon afterward by shellfire while he was sniping the enemy.

Citation: Cpl. Pruitt single-handed attacked 2 machineguns, capturing them and killing 2 of the enemy. He then captured 40 prisoners in a dugout nearby. This gallant soldier was killed soon afterward by shellfire while he was sniping at the enemy.

Note: Pruitt was one of five Marines who received both Navy and Army medals for the same action. (Two of these double awards were for this battle in October, 1918. One was for action on 6 June 1918, and the other two were for 18 July 1918.)
USS Pruitt (DD 347/AG 101) was named in his honour.

11 June 2008

More phorusrhacids

Darren Nash has another post about phorusrhacids at Tetrapod Zoology.

This day in history: 11 Jun

1942: Lt Cmdr James W Coe, commanding USS Skipjack (SS 184), wrote a letter to the Supply Officer, Mare Island Navy Yard.


June 11, 1942

From: Commanding Officer

To: Supply Officer, Navy Yard, Mare Island, California
Via: Commander Submarines, Southwest Pacific

Subject: Toilet Paper

Reference: (a) USS HOLLAND (5148) USS SKIPJACK req. 70-42 of 30 July 1941.
(b) SO NYMI Canceled invoice No. 272836

Enclosure: (1) Copy of cancelled Invoice
(2) Sample of material requested.

1. This vessel submitted a requisition for 150 rolls of toilet paper on July 30, 1941, to USS HOLLAND. The material was ordered by HOLLAND from the Supply Officer, Navy Yard, Mare Island, for delivery to USS SKIPJACK.
2. The Supply Officer, Navy Yard, Mare Island, on November 26, 1941, cancelled Mare Island Invoice No. 272836 with the stamped notation "Cancelled---cannot identify." This cancelled invoice was received by SKIPJACK on June 10, 1942.
3. During the 11 ¾ months elapsing from the time of ordering the toilet paper and the present date, the SKIPJACK personnel, despite their best efforts to await delivery of subject material, have been unable to wait on numerous occasions, and the situation is now quite acute, especially during depth charge attack by the "back-stabbers."
4. Enclosure (2) is a sample of the desired material provided for the information of the Supply Officer, Navy Yard, Mare Island. The Commanding Officer, USS SKIPJACK cannot help but wonder what is being used in Mare Island in place of this unidentifiable material, once well known to this command.
5. SKIPJACK personnel during this period have become accustomed to use of "ersatz," i.e., the vast amount of incoming non-essential paper work, and in so doing feel that the wish of the Bureau of Ships for the reduction of paper work is being complied with, thus effectively killing two birds with one stone.
6. It is believed by this command that the stamped notation "cannot identify" was possible error, and that this is simply a case of shortage of strategic war material, the SKIPJACK probably being low on the priority list.
7. In order to cooperate in our war effort at a small local sacrifice, the SKIPJACK desires no further action be taken until the end of the current war, which has created a situation aptly described as "war is hell."

J.W. Coe

08 June 2008

Victoria Cross: Boyes, Pride and Seeley


Midshipman, Royal Navy; HMS Euryalus

Born: 5 November 1846, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
Died: 26 January 1869, Dunedin, New Zealand


Captain of the After Guard, Royal Navy; HMS Euryalus

Born: 29 March 1835, Oldbridge, Wareham, Dorset
Died: 16 July 1893, Parkstone, Dorset

Joint Citation: For the conspicuous gallantry which, according to the testimony of Captain Alexander, C.B., at that time Flag Captain to Vice-Admiral Sir Augustus Kuper, K.C.B., Mr. Boyes displayed on the occasion of the capture of the enemy's stockade [at Shimonoseki, Japan, on 6 September 1864]. He carried a Colour with the leading Company, kept it in advance of all, in the face of the thickest fire, his Colour-Serjeants having fallen, one mortally, the other dangerously, wounded; and he was only detained from proceeding yet further by the orders of his superior Officer. The Colour he carried was six times pierced by musket balls.
Thomas Pride, Captain of the After-guard, the survivor of the two Colour-Serjeants who supported Mr. Boyes in the gallant rush which he made in advance of the attack, is also recommended for the Victoria Cross for his conduct on this occasion.

(London Gazette Issue 22960 dated 21 Apr 1865, published 21 Apr 1865.)


Ordinary Seaman, Royal Navy; HMS Euryalus

Born: 1 May 1840, Topsham, Maine, USA
Died: 1 October 1914, Dedham, Massachusetts, USA

Citation: For the intelligence and daring which, according to the testimony of Lieutenant Edwards, Commanding the Third Company, he exhibited in ascertaining the enemy's position [at Shimonoseki, Japan, on 6 September 1864], and for continuing to retain his position in front, during the advance, after he had been wounded in the arm.

(London Gazette Issue 22960 dated 21 Apr 1865, published 21 Apr 1865.)

Note: Ordinary Seaman Seeley was the first American to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

Medal of Honor: F. E. Brownell


Private, Company A, 11th New York Infantry (Ellsworth's Zouaves)

Born: 1840, Troy, New York
Died: 15 March 1894, Washington, DC

Citation: Killed the murderer of Colonel Ellsworth at the Marshall House Alexandria, Va [on 24 May 1861].

Note: The earliest Civil War deed for which the Medal of Honor was awarded. Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, the first Union casualty of the Civil War, was shot by James T Jackson, the proprietor of an Alexandria hotel, after he tore down the Confederate flag flying over the hotel.

06 June 2008

Medal of Honor awarded for Korea

Back in February, I noted that MSG Woodrow Keeble, 19th Infantry, was to be awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor for his actions in Korea in October of 1951. The medal was awarded on 3 March, but I never followed up on it. So....

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


Master Sergeant, US Army; Company G, 19th Infantry Regiment

Born: 16 May 1917, Waubay, South Dakota
Died: 28 January 1982, South Dakota

Citation: Master Sergeant Woodrow W. Keeble distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy near Sangsan-ni, Korea, on October 20, 1951. On that day, Master Sergeant Keeble was an acting platoon leader for the support platoon in Company G, 19th Infantry, in the attack on Hill 765, a steep and rugged position that was well defended by the enemy. Leading the support platoon, Master Sergeant Keeble saw that the attacking elements had become pinned down on the slope by heavy enemy fire from three well-fortified and strategically placed enemy positions. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Master Sergeant Keeble dashed forward and joined the pinned-down platoon. Then, hugging the ground, Master Sergeant Keeble crawled forward alone until he was in close proximity to one of the hostile machine-gun emplacements. Ignoring the heavy fire that the crew trained on him, Master Sergeant Keeble activated a grenade and threw it with great accuracy, successfully destroying the position. Continuing his one-man assault, he moved to the second enemy position and destroyed it with another grenade. Despite the fact that the enemy troops were now directing their firepower against him and unleashing a shower of grenades in a frantic attempt to stop his advance, he moved forward against the third hostile emplacement, and skillfully neutralized the remaining enemy position. As his comrades moved forward to join him, Master Sergeant Keeble continued to direct accurate fire against nearby trenches, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy. Inspired by his courage, Company G successfully moved forward and seized its important objective. The extraordinary courage, selfless service, and devotion to duty displayed that day by Master Sergeant Keeble was an inspiration to all around him and reflected great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

Walking, stalking pterosaurs

Darren Naish and Mark Witton recently published a very interesting paper on azhdarchids. They hold that these giant pterosaurs, which lived during the Cretaceous, hunted like storks - on foot, rather than on the wing. Dr Naish has a blog post which provides links to, amongst other things, the paper itself (Witton, M P & Naish, D, 2008, A reappraisal of azhdarchid pterosaur functional morphology and paleoecology), which is available on-line.

The picture above shows the largest azhdarchid (and pterosaur) known, Hatzegopteryx thambema from western Romania, with a 1.75m-tall human to provide scale.

Illustration: Mark Witton/University of Portsmouth

Update 1121 27 Jun: ZUI this post from SV-POW.


My niece found these whilst going through a box of old stuff recently, and sent them to me, asking if I knew when they had been taken. I think I have the correct year for each one....

First grade
Northwestern Elementary School
Fall, 1960

Second grade
Northwestern Elementary School
Fall, 1961

Third grade
King Street Elementary School
Fall, 1962

My, that seems like a long time ago....

RIP: Jacklyn H. Lucas

Jacklyn H Lucas
14 Feb 1928 - 5 Jun 2008

ZUI this article from Tampa Bay Online:
Jack Lucas, who at 14 lied his way into military service during World War II and became the youngest Marine to receive the Medal of Honor, died Thursday in a Hattiesburg, Miss., hospital. He was 80.

Lucas had been battling cancer. Ponda Lee at Moore Funeral Service said the funeral home was told he died before dawn.

Jacklyn "Jack" Lucas was just six days past his 17th birthday in February 1945 when his heroism at Iwo Jima earned him the nation's highest military honor. He used his body to shield three fellow squad members from two grenades, and was nearly killed when one exploded.


He was the youngest serviceman to win the Medal of Honor in any conflict other than the Civil War.

"By his inspiring action and valiant spirit of self-sacrifice, he not only protected his comrades from certain injury or possible death but also enabled them to rout the Japanese patrol and continue the advance," the Medal of Honor citation said.


Born in Plymouth, N.C., on Feb. 14, 1928, Lucas was a 13-year-old cadet captain in a military academy when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

"I would not settle for watching from the sidelines when the United States was in such desperate need of support from its citizens," Lucas said in "Indestructible." "Everyone was needed to do his part and I could not do mine by remaining in North Carolina."

Note: Indestructible, by Jack Lucas with D K Drum, is available from Barnes & Noble.

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


Private First Class, US Marine Corps Reserve; 1st Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division

Born: 14 February 1928, Plymouth, North Carolina
Died: 5 June 2008, Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 1st Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 20 February 1945. While creeping through a treacherous, twisting ravine which ran in close proximity to a fluid and uncertain frontline on D-plus-1 day, Pfc. Lucas and 3 other men were suddenly ambushed by a hostile patrol which savagely attacked with rifle fire and grenades. Quick to act when the lives of the small group were endangered by 2 grenades which landed directly in front of them, Pfc. Lucas unhesitatingly hurled himself over his comrades upon 1 grenade and pulled the other under him, absorbing the whole blasting forces of the explosions in his own body in order to shield his companions from the concussion and murderous flying fragments. By his inspiring action and valiant spirit of self-sacrifice, he not only protected his comrades from certain injury or possible death but also enabled them to rout the Japanese patrol and continue the advance. His exceptionally courageous initiative and loyalty reflect the highest credit upon Pfc. Lucas and the U.S. Naval Service.

04 June 2008

Medal of Honor awarded for Iraq

ZUI this article from the New York Times:
President Bush awarded the military’s highest honor posthumously on Monday to a 19-year-old soldier who was killed in Iraq after falling on a grenade to save his fellow soldiers.

At a White House ceremony, the president presented the award to Romayne and Thomas McGinnis, the parents of the soldier, Pfc. Ross A. McGinnis of the Army.

Private McGinnis, of Knox, Pa., was killed in a Baghdad neighborhood on Dec. 4, 2006, when a grenade was thrown into the gunner’s hatch of the Humvee in which he was riding. Mr. Bush noted that Private McGinnis had enough time to jump out and save himself but instead dropped into the hatch and covered the grenade with his own body, absorbing the fragments. He was killed instantly. All four of his fellow soldiers were saved.

ZUI also this article from the Army News Service:
Spc. Ross A. McGinnis, the second Soldier to earn the Medal of Honor in Iraq, was inducted into the Hall of Heroes during a Pentagon ceremony Tuesday.

His family, friends and fellow Soldiers were on hand to witness the event. His parents, Tom and Romayne McGinnis, received a plaque and Medal of Honor flag to honor their son’s sacrifice.

McGinnis was a 19-year-old, M-2 50-caliber machine gunner with 1st Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, supporting operations in Adamiyah, an area of northeast Baghdad, when he saved the lives of four fellow Soldiers.


“Knowing full well the grenade would kill him, Ross gave his life so his brothers could live. There’s no greater act of personal courage, loyalty or selfless service,” said Gen. Richard Cody, vice chief of staff of the Army. “As a result of his quick reflexes and heroic measures, Sgt. 1st Class Cedric Thomas, Staff Sgt. Ian Newland, Sgt. Lyle Buehler and Spc. Sean Lawson survived certain death inside that vehicle. “


McGinnis’s father Tom looked into the audience at the four men his son saved as he said, “It was said that Ross gave these four men a gift, and that’s what it was. They can’t be expected to live the rest of their lives living up to something, or paying back something.

“It can’t be carried as a debt. A debt is something you can repay. A gift is something for you to enjoy. So live your lives, enjoy your lives, because it was a gift. Ross is the reason that we’re here, and the reason that Ross is not here is because his Army buddies were more important than life itself,” he added.

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


Private First Class, US Army; 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment

Born: 14 June 1987, Meadville, Pennsylvania
Died: 4 December 2006, Baghdad, Iraq

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:
Private First Class Ross A. McGinnis distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an M2 .50-caliber Machine Gunner, 1st Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, in connection with combat operations against an armed enemy in Adhamiyah, Northeast Baghdad, Iraq, on 4 December 2006.
That afternoon his platoon was conducting combat control operations in an effort to reduce and control sectarian violence in the area. While Private McGinnis was manning the M2 .50-caliber Machine Gun, a fragmentation grenade thrown by an insurgent fell through the gunner's hatch into the vehicle. Reacting quickly, he yelled "grenade," allowing all four members of his crew to prepare for the grenade's blast. Then, rather than leaping from the gunner's hatch to safety, Private McGinnis made the courageous decision to protect his crew. In a selfless act of bravery, in which he was mortally wounded, Private McGinnis covered the live grenade, pinning it between his body and the vehicle and absorbing most of the explosion.
Private McGinnis' gallant action directly saved four men from certain serious injury or death. Private First Class McGinnis' extraordinary heroism and selflessness at the cost of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

01 June 2008

Book list - May 08

Halsey's Typhoon - WW II, by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin
Dicey's Song - children's, by Cynthia Voigt (Newbery Medal, 1983)
Nim's Island - children's, by Wendy Orr
Mysteries of the Middle Ages - mediaeval history, by Thomas Cahill
Come a Stranger - children's, by Cynthia Voigt
Rascal - children's, by Sterling North *
The Gifts of the Jews - ancient history, by Thomas Cahill
Quest Crosstime - SF, by Andre Norton *
The Fledgling - children's, by Jane Langton
The Few - WW II, by Alex Kershaw
Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea - ancient history, by Thomas Cahill
A Guinea Pig's History of Biology - science, by Jim Endersby
Seventeen Against the Dealer - YA, by Cynthia Voigt
The Sinking of the Lancastria - WW II, by Jonathan Fenby
Among the Enemy - YA, by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Louisiana's Song - children's, by Kerry Madden
Among the Free - YA, by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Jessie's Mountain - children's, by Kerry Madden
Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters - science, by Donald R Prothero

19 books this month; asterisks mark the two rereads. To reach my goal of 208 books this year I need to average 17.33 per month, so I'm now (112 books, plus a novella) a month and a half ahead of track (87).

The one Newbery Medal winner brings my total thus far up to 49 of 87.

Victoria Cross: J. D. F. Shaul


Corporal, 1st Battalion the Highland Light Infantry

Born: 11 September 1873, King's Lynn, Norfolk
Died: 14 September 1953, Boksburg, South Africa

Citation: On the 11th December, 1899, during the Battle Of Magersfontein, Corporal Shaul was observed (not only by the Officers of his own Battalion but by several Officers of other regiments) to perform several specific acts of bravery. Corporal Shaul was in charge of stretcher-bearers; but at one period of the battle he was seen encouraging men to advance across the open.
He was most conspicuous during the day in dressing men’s wounds, and in one case he came, under a heavy fire, to a man who was lying wounded in the back, and, with the utmost coolness and deliberation, sat down beside the wounded man and proceeded to dress his wound. Having done this, he got up and went quietly to another part of the field. This act of gallantry was performed under a continuous and heavy fire as coolly and quietly as if there had been no enemy near.

[London Gazette issue 27233 dated 28 Sep 1900, published 28 Sep 1900.]

Medal of Honor: E. R. Aston and W. G. Cubberly


Private, Company L, 8th US Cavalry

Born: Clermont County, Ohio
Died: 14 April 1932, Ohio

Citation: With 2 other men he volunteered to search for a wagon passage out of a 4,000-foot valley [at San Carlos, Arizona, on 30 May 1868] wherein an infantry column was immobile. This small group passed 6 miles among hostile Apache terrain finding the sought passage. On their return trip down the canyon they were attacked by Apaches who were successfully held at bay.


Private, Company L, 8th US Cavalry

Born: Butler County, Ohio
Died: 27 July 1919, Indiana

Citation: With 2 other men he volunteered to search for a wagon passage out of a 4,000-foot valley [at San Carlos, Arizona, on 30 May 1868] wherein an infantry column was immobile. This small group passed 6 miles among hostile Apache terrain finding the sought passage. On their return trip down the canyon they were attacked by Apache who were successfully held at bay.