28 September 2008
Wing Commander, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve; 617 Squadron
Born: 7 September 1917, Chester, Cheshire
Died: 31 July 1992, Cavendish, Suffolk
Citation: This officer began his operational career in June, 1940. Against strongly-defended targets he soon displayed the courage and determination of an exceptional leader. He was always ready to accept extra risks to ensure success. Defying the formidable Ruhr defences, he frequently released his bombs from below 2,000 feet. Over Cologne in November, 1940, a shell burst inside his aircraft, blowing out one side and starting a fire; undeterred, he went on to bomb his target. About this time, he carried out a number of convoy patrols in addition to his bombing missions.
At the end of his first tour of operational duty in January, 1941, he immediately volunteered for a second. Again, he pressed home his attacks with the utmost gallantry. Berlin, Bremen, Cologne, Duisburg, Essen and Kiel were among the heavily-defended targets which he attacked. When he was posted for instructional duties in January, 1942, he undertook four more operational missions.
He started a third operational tour in August, 1942, when he was given command of a squadron. He led the squadron with outstanding skill on a number of missions before being appointed in March, 1943, as a station commander.
In October, 1943, he undertook a fourth operational tour, relinquishing the rank of group captain at his own request so that he could again take part in operations. He immediately set to work as the pioneer of a new method of marking enemy targets involving very low flying. In June, 1944, when marking a target in the harbour at Le Havre in broad daylight and without cloud cover, he dived well below the range of the light batteries before releasing his marker-bombs, and he came very near to being destroyed by the strong barrage which concentrated on him.
During his fourth tour which ended in July, 1944, Wing Commander Cheshire led his squadron personally on every occasion, always undertaking the most dangerous and difficult task of marking the target alone from a low level in the face of strong defences.
Wing Commander Cheshire's cold and calculated acceptance of risks is exemplified by his conduct in an attack on Munich in April, 1944. This was an experimental attack to test out the new method of target marking at low level against a heavily defended target situated deep in Reich territory. Munich was selected, at Wing Commander Cheshire's request, because of the formidable nature of its light anti-aircraft and searchlight defences. He was obliged to follow, in bad weather, a direct route which took him over the defences of Augsburg and thereafter he was continuously under fire. As he reached the target, flares were being released by our high-flying aircraft. He was illuminated from above and below. All guns within range opened fire on him. Diving to 700 feet, he dropped his markers with great precision and began to climb away. So blinding were the searchlights that he almost lost control. He then flew over the city at 1,000 feet to assess the accuracy of his work and direct other aircraft. His own was badly hit by shell fragments but he continued to fly over the target area until he was satisfied that he had done all in his power to ensure success. Eventually, when he set course for base, the task of disengaging himself from the defences proved even more hazardous than the approach. For a full twelve minutes after leaving the target area he was under withering fire but he came safely through.
Wing Commander Cheshire has now completed a total of 100 missions. In four years of fighting against the bitterest opposition he has maintained a record of outstanding personal achievement, placing himself invariably in the forefront of the battle. What he did in the Munich operation was typical of the careful planning, brilliant execution and contempt for danger which has established for Wing Commander Cheshire a reputation second to none in Bomber Command.
(London Gazette Issue 36693 dated 8 Sep 1944, published 5 Sep 1944.)
Sergeant First Class, United States Army
Born: 24 September 1969, El Paso, Texas
Died: 4 April 2003, Baghdad, Iraq
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy near Baghdad International Airport, Baghdad, Iraq on 4 April 2003. On that day, Sergeant First Class Smith was engaged in the construction of a prisoner of war holding area when his Task Force was violently attacked by a company-sized enemy force. Realizing the vulnerability of over 100 fellow soldiers, Sergeant First Class Smith quickly organized a hasty defense consisting of two platoons of soldiers, one Bradley Fighting Vehicle and three armored personnel carriers. As the fight developed, Sergeant First Class Smith braved hostile enemy fire to personally engage the enemy with hand grenades and anti-tank weapons, and organized the evacuation of three wounded soldiers from an armored personnel carrier struck by a rocket propelled grenade and a 60mm mortar round. Fearing the enemy would overrun their defenses, Sergeant First Class Smith moved under withering enemy fire to man a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on a damaged armored personnel carrier. In total disregard for his own life, he maintained his exposed position in order to engage the attacking enemy force. During this action, he was mortally wounded. His courageous actions helped defeat the enemy attack, and resulted in as many as 50 enemy soldiers killed, while allowing the safe withdrawal of numerous wounded soldiers. Sergeant First Class Smith’s extraordinary heroism and uncommon valor are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Third Infantry Division “Rock of the Marne,” and the United States Army.
26 September 2008
China's third manned space craft has successfully launched in what is seen as a key mission in the country's space programme.
Shenzhou VII blasted off from central China with three astronauts on board.
The three-day mission will underscore China's technological ambitions in space with the nation's first space walk.
On Saturday, an astronaut is scheduled to float out of an airlock on the craft 200 miles above the earth for a 40min space walk.
The success of the walk is seen as vital to the establishment of a Chinese space station in the year ahead.
This is China's third manned venture since 2003 when it joined the United States and Russia as the only countries to have sent men into space.
ZUI also this article from the Beeb:
China's three astronauts have spent their first day in orbit preparing for the mission's spacewalk.
A 42-year-old fighter pilot, Zhai Zhigang, is due to carry out the 20-minute manoeuvre at 1630 Beijing Time (0830 GMT) on Saturday.
It will be the first time Chinese yuhangyuan (astronauts) have ventured outside their spacecraft.
Their Shenzhou VII capsule soared into orbit on a Long March II-F rocket from Jiuquan spaceport in north-west China.
The rocket put the Shenzhou capsule in a near-circular orbit more than 300km above the Earth.
Mr Zhai is joined on the mission by two other "yuhangyuan" - Liu Boming and Jing Haipeng.
During their 68 hours in orbit, the astronauts will be able to enjoy an unprecedented choice of food. The menu includes spicy chicken with peanuts, shrimps and dry fruits.
"We have tried to make them taste like stir-fried dishes they have on Earth," Chen Bin, who is in charge of food for the astronauts, told state-run news agency Xinhua.
At the end of the mission, the Shenzhou re-entry capsule will target a landing in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
And to make things interesting, ZUI this article from Sky News:
State media in China reported the successful launch of the Shenzhou VII space craft hours before the actual event took place.
The report on Xinhua's website said the ship had been successfully tracked over the Pacific Ocean, and even included exchanges between the three astronauts on board.
The state news agency blamed the blunder on a "technical problem".
This article from Wikipedia has background information on Shenzhou 7. (Standard disclaimers apply.) Spacefacts.de has photos and some background information on Zhai, Liu and Jing.
24 September 2008
The target launch date for space shuttle Atlantis' STS-125 mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope has been reset to Oct. 14 at 10:19 p.m. EDT. A news conference is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 3, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to announce an official launch date.
With the delay of Atlantis' launch from Oct. 10 to Oct. 14, shuttle Endeavour's STS-126 supply mission to the International Space Station, also will move from Nov. 12 to Nov. 16 at 7:07 p.m. EST. The target launch date adjustments were made Wednesday during the Space Shuttle Program's Flight Readiness Review, which concludes Thursday.
22 September 2008
ZUI this press release from NASA:
For the first time since July 2001, two shuttles are on the launch pads at the same time at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Space shuttle Endeavour completed a 4.2-mile journey to Launch Pad 39B on Friday, Sept. 19, at 6:59 a.m. EDT.
Endeavour will stand by at pad B in the unlikely event that a rescue mission is necessary during space shuttle Atlantis' upcoming mission to repair NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, targeted to launch Oct. 10. After Endeavour is cleared from its duty as a rescue spacecraft, it will be moved to Launch Pad 39A for the STS-126 mission to the International Space Station. That flight is targeted for launch Nov. 12.
Atlantis will be launched for mission STS-125, with a crew consisting of commander Scott Altman, pilot Gregory C Johnson, and mission specialists Andrew Feustel, Michael Good, John Grunsfeld, Mike Massimino and Megan McArthur. Endeavour's crew for mission STS-126 will consist of commander Chris Ferguson, pilot Eric Boe, and mission specialists Steve Bowen, Shane Kimbrough, Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, and Donald Pettit; the shuttle will also ferry Sandra Magnus up to replace Greg Chamitoff as an Expedition 18 crew member, and bring Chamitoff back down.
The July 2001 event mentioned in the press release was in conjunction with the launch of Atlantis on mission STS-104. Shuttle Discovery, for mission STS-105, was rolled out to the pad on 2 July; Atlantis was launched on 12 July.
This is probably the last time there will be two shuttles on the launch pads at the same time, due to the pending decommissioning of the shuttles.
21 September 2008
Lance-Corporal, 9th (Queen's Royal) Lancers
Born: 7 April 1832, Meerut, India
Died: 14 April 1905, Lambeth, South London
Citation: For conspicuous bravery at Bolundshahur [India], on the 28th of September, 1857, in defending against a number of the enemy his commanding officer, Captain Drysdale, who was lying in a street with his collar-bone broken, his horse having been disabled by a shot, and remaining with him until out of danger.
(London Gazette Issue 22212 dated 24 Dec 1858, published 24 Dec 1858.)
Colonel, US Army Air Corps; 98th Bombardment Group, 9th Air Force
Born: 5 January 1907, McGregor, Texas
Died: 29 May 1996, Pennsylvania
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry in action and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 1 August 1943. On this date he led the third element of heavy bombardment aircraft in a mass low-level bombing attack against the vitally important enemy target of the Ploesti oil refineries. En route to the target, which necessitated a round-trip flight of over 2,400 miles, Col. Kane's element became separated from the leading portion of the massed formation in avoiding dense and dangerous cumulous cloud conditions over mountainous terrain. Rather than turn back from such a vital mission he elected to proceed to his target. Upon arrival at the target area it was discovered that another group had apparently missed its target and had previously attacked and damaged the target assigned to Col. Kane's element. Despite the thoroughly warned defenses, the intensive antiaircraft fire, enemy fighter airplanes, extreme hazards on a low-level attack of exploding delayed action bombs from the previous element, of oil fires and explosions and dense smoke over the target area, Col. Kane elected to lead his formation into the attack. By his gallant courage, brilliant leadership, and superior flying skill, he and the formation under his command successfully attacked this vast refinery so essential to our enemies' war effort. Through his conspicuous gallantry in this most hazardous action against the enemy, and by his intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, Col. Kane personally contributed vitally to the success of this daring mission and thereby rendered most distinguished service in the furtherance of the defeat of our enemies.
19 September 2008
I've bolded the number on books I'm sure I own, and the title on books I've read. Asterisks indicate the books I liked, with multiple asterisks for those I especially liked.
1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone*, by J K Rowling (32,484)
2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by J K Rowling (29,939)
3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by J K Rowling (28,728)
4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by J K Rowling (27,926)
5. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J K Rowling (27,643)
6. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by J K Rowling (27,641)
7. The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown (23,266)
8. The Hobbit, by J R R Tolkien (21,325)
9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J K Rowling (20,485)
10. 1984, by George Orwell (19,735)
11. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (19,583)
12. The Catcher in the Rye, by J D Salinger (19,082)
13. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (17,586)
14. The Great Gatsby, by F Scott Fitzgerald (16,210)
15. The Lord of the Rings, by J R R Tolkien (15,483)
16. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (14,566)
17. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte (14,449)
18. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon (13,946)
19. Life of Pi, by Yann Martel (13,272)
20. Animal Farm, by George Orwell (13,091)
21. Angels & Demons, by Dan Brown (13,089)
22. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley (13,005)
23. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte (12,777)
24. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (12,634)
25. The Fellowship of the Ring, by J R R Tolkien (12,276)
26. Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden (12,147)
27. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger (11,976)
28. The Two Towers, by J R R Tolkien (11,512)
29. The Odyssey, by Homer (11,483)
30. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller (11,392)
31. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut (11,360)
32. Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (11,257)
33. The Return of the King, by J R R Tolkien (11,082)
34. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury (10,979)
35. American Gods: A Novel, by Neil Gaiman (10,823)
36. The Chronicles of Narnia, by C S Lewis (10,603)
37. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams (10,537)
38. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding (10,435)
39. The Lovely Bones: A Novel, by Alice Sebold (10,125)
40. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card (10,092)
41. The Golden Compass**, by Philip Pullman (9,827)
42. Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, by Neil Gaiman (9,745)
43. Dune, by Frank Herbert (9,671)
44. Emma, by Jane Austen (9,610)
45. Frankenstein, by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (9,598)
46. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain (9,593)
47. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy (9,433)
48. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke (9,413)
49. Middlesex: A Novel, by Jeffrey Eugenides (9,343)
50. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, by Gregory Maguire (9,336)
51. Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov (9,274)
52. The Silmarillion, by J R R Tolkien (9,246)
53. The Iliad, by Homer (9,153)
54. The Stranger, by Albert Camus (9,084)
55. Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen (9,080)
56. Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens (9,027)
57. The Handmaid's Tale: A Novel, by Margaret Atwood (8,960)
58. On the Road, by Jack Kerouac (8,904)
59. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, by Steven D Levitt (8,813)
60. The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint Exupery (8,764)
61. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C S Lewis (8,421)
62. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle (8,417)
63. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman (8,368)
64. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck (8,255)
65. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott (8,214)
66. The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco (8,191)
67. The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne (8,169)
68. Moby Dick, by Herman Melville (8,129)
69. The complete works of William Shakespeare (8,096)
70. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, by Jared Diamond (7,843)
71. Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris (7,834)
72. The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel, by Barbara Kingsolver (7,829)
73. Hamlet, by William Shakespeare (7,808)
74. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck (7,807)
75. A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens (7,793)
76. The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho (7,710)
77. The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath (7,648)
78. The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde (7,598)
79. The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition, by William Strunk (7,569)
80. Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (7,557)
81. The Subtle Knife, by Philip Pullman (7,534)
82. Atonement: A Novel, by Ian McEwan (7,530)
83. The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (7,512)
84. The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd (7,436)
85. Dracula, by Bram Stoker (7,238)
86. Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad (7,153)
87. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess (7,055)
88. Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (7,052)
89. The Amber Spyglass, by Philip Pullman (7,043)
90. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce (6,933)
91. The Unbearable Lightness of Being: A Novel, by Milan Kundera (6,901)
92. Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse (6,899)
93. Neuromancer, by William Gibson (6,890)
94. The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer (6,868)
95. Persuasion, by Jane Austen (6,862)
96. Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman (6,841)
97. The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova (6,794)
98. Angela's Ashes: A Memoir, by Frank McCourt (6,715)
99. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, by Dave Eggers (6,708)
100. The Prince, by Niccolo Machiavelli (6,697)
* Also known as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
** Also known as Northern Lights.
17 September 2008
A Ministry of Defence Salvage and Marine Operations team has ventured into the austere habitat of the Russian Northern Fleet to investigate salvaging a decommissioned Russian nuclear submarine.
The November class B159 sank in 2003 under tow from Gremikha to Polyarny where its nuclear reactors were to be dismantled. Eight Russian sailors lost their lives.
Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) team colleagues Craig English and Nigel Hills had worked on projects such as HMS Royal Oak, a Dreadnought battleship sunk in Scapa Flow in 1939, and the US liberty ship SS Richard Montgomery, sunk off Sheerness in 1944.
They knew the boat was resting upright on the seabed at about 240 metres. There was little else to go on as the Russians had sent down a Tiger ROV to get images but it had got trapped and lost.
Over ten days, the team's samples of the soil and water around the wreck showed no radioactivity. The sonar imaging equipment was sent down on the ROV to check the hull for damage, and perhaps answer the question of how B159 sank:"It was an exciting and nervous time," said Mr English.
There was also another surprising find: "We really weren't expecting to discover what appeared to be the world's supply of cod around the wreck," he said.
"It's an exclusion area for fishing anyway, but the bright lights and activity of the ROV seemed to attract these huge fish and they even show up on our sonar images."
13 Oct 1896-14 Sep 2008
ZUI this article from the Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger:
When they gather to remember Walter Seward at the Rutgers University chapel on Saturday, there are sure to be plenty of friends and admirers on hand.
Just don't expect to see any of his peers. Seward, who died Sunday, was a month shy of his 112th birthday.
Long celebrated as the oldest Rutgers alumnus, the West Orange resident also was believed to be the most long-lived New Jerseyan and the third-oldest man in the United States, according to the Gerontology Research Group, a California organization that tracks the world's most venerable people.
Seward married at 61, had the first of his two children at 63, practiced law into his 90s and drove a car until the age of 98, when a broken hip sidelined him for a stretch.
He remained in good health until last week, when a blood infection weakened his heart.
In addition to his children, Seward leaves two grandchildren. His wife, Florence "Betty" Seward, died six years ago at age 83.
According to the Gerontology Research Group (GRG), Seward was also the sixth-oldest man and the 30th-oldest person in the world at the time of his death.
He is the ninth supercentenarian listed by the GRG to die since the death of Clémentine Solignac on 25 May. The others were Willemina Everdina Hol of the Netherlands (3 Feb 1898-5 Jun 2008), Bessie Roffey of Alberta (2 Mar 1897-17 Jun 2008), Sue Morino of Japan (18 Mar 1898-20 June 2008), Stella Cooley of Ohio (6 Nov 1897-23 Jun 2008), Masatake Kinoshita of Japan (20 Aug 1897-17 July 2008), Delpha Johnson of Missouri (21 May 1898-22 Jul 2008), Mary Sloan of Ontario (11 Jun 1898-12 Aug 2008) and Kiku Nishimura of Japan (2 May 1897-22 Aug 2008).
The GRG's list of validated living supercentenarians (people who have reached their 110th birthday) has not yet been revised to include Seward's death. Without him, it would currently include 78 people (9 men and 69 women), ranging from Edna Parker of Indiana (born 20 Apr 1893) to Eunice Bowman of England (born 23 Aug 1898). None of them are residents of New Jersey.
15 September 2008
|What military aircraft are you? |
You are an EA-6B. You are sinister, preferring not to get into confrontations, but extract revenge through mind games and technological interference. You also love to make noise and couldn't care less about pollution.
|Click Here to Take This Quiz|
14 September 2008
Sepoy, 129th Duke of Connaught's Own Baluchis, Indian Army
Born: 26 October 1888, Dabb, Chakwal, Jhelum District, the Punjab, India
Died: 8 March 1971, Rukhan Tehsil, Pakistan
Citation: On 31st October, 1914, at Hollebeke, Belgium, the British Officer in charge of the detachment having been wounded, and the other gun put out of action by a shell, Sepoy Khudadad, though himself wounded, remained working his gun until all the other five men of the gun detachment had been killed.
(London Gazette Issue 28999 dated 7 Dec 1914, published 4 Dec 1914.)
Note: Khudadad Khan was the first Indian soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross.
Sepoy was the lowest enlisted rank in the British Indian army and its successors, equivalent to private.
Chief Gunner's Mate, US Navy
Born: 13 September 1883, Trenton, New Jersey
Died: 23 November 1947, Brooklyn, New York
Citation: For display of extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession above and beyond the call of duty during the diving operations in connection with the sinking in a depth of water 304 feet, of the U.S.S. F-4 with all on board, as a result of loss of depth control, which occurred off Honolulu, T.H., on 25 March 1915. On 17 April 1915, William F. Loughman, chief gunner's mate, U.S. Navy, who had descended to the wreck and had examined one of the wire hawsers attached to it, upon starting his ascent, and when at a depth of 250 feet beneath the surface of the water, had his lifeline and air hose so badly fouled by this hawser that he was unable to free himself; he could neither ascend nor descend. On account of the length of time that Loughman had already been subjected to the great pressure due to the depth of water, and of the uncertainty of the additional time he would have to be subjected to this pressure before he could be brought to the surface, it was imperative that steps be taken at once to clear him. Instantly, realizing the desperate case of his comrade, Crilley volunteered to go to his aid, immediately donned a diving suit and descended. After a lapse of time of 2 hours and 11 minutes, Crilley was brought to the surface, having by a superb exhibition of skill, coolness, endurance and fortitude, untangled the snarl of lines and cleared his imperiled comrade, so that he was brought, still alive, to the surface.
Note: USS Crilley (YHLC 1) was named in his honour.
12 September 2008
11 Sep 1918 - 3 Sep 2008
The Ft Lauderdale (FL) Sun-Sentinel has a brief note saying that Colonel Blakeslee died on 3 September. ZUI this AcePilots.com article:
Don Blakeslee was born in 1918 in Fairport Harbor, Ohio, to a family who were among the original pioneers of the Ohio River Territory in the late 18th Century. As a teenager, he went wild over airplanes at the National Air Races held every year in Cleveland. In 1939 he and a friend bought a Piper Cub, which the friend then crashed. Blakeslee went to Canada in 1940 and joined the RCAF. He relieved his mother's anxiety by telling her he would always be an instructor, and maintained the illusion even after he had shot down his first German plane.
Blakeslee arrived in England 15 May 1941, where he was assigned to a squadron at Biggin Hill. By the summer of 1942, he was a flight leader who had completed his first tour of 200 hours with 3 victories. When told he would become the instructor he had promised his mother, he finally volunteered to be sent to 133 Eagle Squadron, which was the only way he could stay on combat status.
Blakeslee would eventually be recognized as one of the two finest combat fighter commanders in the history of the United States Air Force, the other being Col. Hubert "Hub" Zemke, Commanding Officer of the 56th Fighter Group, "The Wolfpack." The two were as different as night and day. Blakeslee was the great exponent of the P-51 Mustang, while Zemke was the man who tamed the P-47 Thunderbolt. Pilots saw one or the other as greater according to which one he had flown with, which makes it a case of honor for all.
The normal tour for a fighter pilot in the ETO was 250 combat hours. No one really knows how many hours Blakeslee finally totaled, because he would log the time when he led another group on their initial combat operations as "training," and would "forget" to enter missions in his logbook where nothing happened. The best estimate is that between his first operation on 15 May 1941 and his last combat flight on 11 October 1944, Don Blakeslee flew approximately 1,200 combat hours, the American record.
Don Blakeslee remained on active duty and spent thirty years in the U.S. Air Force. He never rose above the rank of Colonel, not being the kind of officer who could play "politics." He led the 27th Fighter Wing and took the F-84 Thunderjet to Korea and served in Vietnam before he retired to Florida in 1972, where he has lived since in self-ordained obscurity.
Wikipedia has an article here. The Warbirds Resource Group has further information here.
Jenny kissed me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in:
Say I'm weary, say I'm sad,
Say that health and wealth have missed me,
Say I'm growing old, but add,
Jenny kissed me.
Of course, a poem like that just begs for parody, and Bruce Newling (inventor of the McWhirtle) seems to have provided one:
Jenny kissed me when we met.
She, adorned in silk and satin,
Told me, "That is all you get;
And as you leave, don't let the cat in."
Retrospection makes me glad:
Dread disease perhaps thus missed me.
God knows what I might have had
Had Jenny more than merely kissed me.
Click on the "Poetry Friday" button at left for this week's round-up, which is hosted by (ahem) Jennie at Biblio File. (Susan, of Susan Writes, has done a round-up of previous round-ups here.)
11 September 2008
Five years ago today - 11 Sep 2003 - I put on my utilities for the last time, went down to the boat, had my checkout interview with the captain, and went on terminal leave.
I was off the boat by 0930 - something I could never have done on Jax, where the skipper refused to give checkout interviews before 1630. (I had to wait until about 1650 - the bull nuke was transferring the same day, so he got the 1630 slot.)
I miss the other two-thirds of my pay, having 30 days leave a year, and the travel. And there are occasional days at work when those six-month deployments don't really seem all that bad. But it's nice being home with my family every night....
10 September 2008
Went down to Virginia for a friend's wedding a few weeks ago. She was one of my flatmates when we were stationed in Scotland; our other flatmate was there, too, so I made sure to get a photo. He and I are a bit larger, she's rather smaller, and I'm a lot greyer.
Hard to believe it's 19 years since we met.
You scored as a Batman, the Dark Knight
As the Dark Knight of Gotham, Batman is a vigilante who deals out his own brand of justice to the criminals and corrupt of the city. He follows his own code and is often misunderstood. He has few friends or allies, but finds comfort in his cause.
Batman, the Dark Knight - 71%
Maximus - 67%
William Wallace - 63%
Captain Jack Sparrow - 58%
Lara Croft - 54%
Indiana Jones - 50%
The Amazing Spider-Man - 42%
James Bond, Agent 007 - 38%
Neo, the "One" - 38%
The Terminator - 33%
El Zorro - 17%
4 Sep 1916 - 8 Sep 2008
ZUI this article from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:
The story sounds like something from an epic war novel: A World War II seaplane pilot lands time and again in tumultuous seas under fire to rescue 15 fellow Americans from likely death at the hands of their Japanese aggressors.
That was just one chapter in the life of former Arkansas lieutenant governor and Medal of Honor recipient Nathan Green Gordon. The story of his life ended Monday at 92. The Associated Press reported that Gordon died of pneumonia at UAMS Medical Center.
After receiving the Medal of Honor, Gordon went on to make history as Arkansas’ longest-serving lieutenant governor. He was acting governor on the day black students entered Little Rock’s Central High School for the first time in 1957.
Born Sept. 4, 1916, in his parents’ Morrilton home, Gordon was the second of four children. After finishing 10 th grade in Morrilton, he and his brother were sent to Columbia Military Academy in Tennessee. He went on to Arkansas Tech College (now Arkansas Tech University ) in Russellville before transferring to the University of Arkansas where he graduated with a law degree in 1939.
On Feb. 15, 1944, Gordon’s plane was assigned air-sea rescue duty to support a low-level raid by the Army Air Forces on a Japanese military base at Kavieng, near New Guinea.
Landing in turbulent seas, he and his nine-member crew responded to a distress call but found no one. Responding to a second rescue call from the same B-25 bomber, they found three men on a life raft. They had to shut off the Catalina’s finicky engines to rescue the men.
The same B-25 called again saying another plane was down. After a third landing in the rough water, the Catalina crew rescued six more men. As the heavily loaded plane was leaving the area, a fourth call came in. This time Gordon flew his airplane over an island to approach the water with Japanese forces firing at the plane. The crew managed to rescue six more men.
******* *** *******
NATHAN GREEN GORDON
Lieutenant, US Navy; Patrol Squadron 34, Fleet Air Wing 17
Born: 4 September 1916, Morrilton, Arkansas
Died: 8 September 2008, Little Rock, Arkansas
Citation: For extraordinary heroism above and beyond the call of duty as commander of a [Consolidated PBY-5] Catalina patrol plane in rescuing personnel of the U.S. Army 5th Air Force shot down in combat over Kavieng Harbor in the Bismarck Sea, 15 February 1944. On air alert in the vicinity of Vitu Islands, Lt. (then Lt. j.g.) Gordon unhesitatingly responded to a report of the crash and flew boldly into the harbor, defying close-range fire from enemy shore guns to make 3 separate landings in full view of the Japanese and pick up 9 men, several of them injured. With his cumbersome flying boat dangerously overloaded, he made a brilliant takeoff despite heavy swells and almost total absence of wind and set a course for base, only to receive the report of another group stranded in a rubber life raft 600 yards from the enemy shore. Promptly turning back, he again risked his life to set his plane down under direct fire of the heaviest defenses of Kavieng and take aboard 6 more survivors, coolly making his fourth dexterous takeoff with 15 rescued officers and men. By his exceptional daring, personal valor, and incomparable airmanship under most perilous conditions, Lt. Gordon prevented certain death or capture of our airmen by the Japanese.
07 September 2008
Havildar, 8th Punjab Regiment, Indian Army
Born: 31 March 1913, Jaranavala Tehsil, Lyallpur District, India
Died: 23 March 1991, Ealing, West London
Citation: On the 6th January, 1943, at Donbaik, Mayo Peninsula, Burma, when two Carriers had been put out of action, Havildar Parkash Singh drove forward in his own Carrier and rescued the two crews under very heavy fire. At the time, the crews of the disabled Carriers had expended their ammunition and the enemy were rushing the two disabled Carriers on foot. This N.C.O.'s timely and courageous action, entirely on his own initiative, saved the lives of the crews and their weapons.
On the 19th January, 1943, in the same area, three Carriers were put out of action by an enemy anti-tank gun and lay on the open beach covered by enemy anti-tank and machine-gun fire. One of these Carriers was carrying the survivors of another Carrier in addition to its own crew. Havildar Parkash Singh, on seeing what had happened, went out from a safe position in his own Carrier, and with complete disregard for his own personal safety, rescued the combined crews from one disabled Carrier, together with the weapons from the Carrier. Having brought the crews to safety, he again went out on the open beach in his Carrier, still under very heavy anti-tank and machine-gun fire and with the utmost disregard for his personal safety, dismounted and connected a towing chain on to a disabled Carrier containing two wounded men. Still under fire, he directed the towing of the disabled Carrier from under enemy fire to a place of safety.
Havildar Parkash Singh's very gallant actions, entirely on his own initiative, were an inspiration to all ranks both British and Indian.
(London Gazette Issue 36013 dated 13 May 1943, published 11 May 1943.)
Notes: Havildar was the British Indian Army rank equivalent to Sergeant, above Naik.
The Universal Carrier, commonly known as the Bren Gun Carrier, was a light armoured vehicle with a two-man crew, usually used for transporting personnel and equipment, or as a weapons platform.
Lieutenant Colonel, US Army; Division Machinegun Officer, 82d Division
Born: 17 December 1876, Columbia City, Iowa
Died: 16 September 1918, near Vandieres, France
Citation: Having gone forward to reconnoiter new machinegun positions [near Vandieres, France, 15 September 1918], Lt. Col. Pike offered his assistance in reorganizing advance infantry units which had become disorganized during a heavy artillery shelling. He succeeded in locating only about 20 men, but with these he advanced and when later joined by several infantry platoons rendered inestimable service in establishing outposts, encouraging all by his cheeriness, in spite of the extreme danger of the situation. When a shell had wounded one of the men in the outpost, Lt. Col. Pike immediately went to his aid and was severely wounded himself when another shell burst in the same place. While waiting to be brought to the rear, Lt. Col. Pike continued in command, still retaining his jovial manner of encouragement, directing the reorganization until the position could be held. The entire operation was carried on under terrific bombardment, and the example of courage and devotion to duty, as set by Lt. Col. Pike, established the highest standard of morale and confidence to all under his charge. The wounds he received were the cause of his death.
05 September 2008
NASA has adjusted the target launch dates for the two remaining space shuttle missions in 2008. Shuttle Atlantis' STS-125 mission to the Hubble Space Telescope is targeted for Oct. 10, while Endeavour's STS-126 supply mission to the International Space Station has moved to Nov. 12.
Shuttle managers made the decision after Atlantis was rolled to the launch pad and the effects of Tropical Storm Hanna were beyond NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. That allowed managers to more accurately assess the impacts of recent tropical systems on the launch schedule.
Atlantis began rolling from Kennedy's Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Pad 39A Thursday at 9:19 a.m. EDT. The shuttle arrived at the pad at approximately 2 p.m. and was secured at 3:52 p.m. Atlantis now is targeted to launch at approximately 12:33 a.m. EDT, Friday, Oct. 10. NASA Television coverage of launch will begin at 7:30 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Oct. 9. The 11-day flight will include five spacewalks to repair and upgrade the Hubble telescope. Atlantis is scheduled to land at approximately 10:21 p.m., Oct. 20.
Scott Altman will command STS-125, with Gregory C. Johnson serving as pilot. Mission specialists include veteran spacewalkers John Grunsfeld and Mike Massimino, and first-time space fliers Andrew Feustel, Michael Good and Megan McArthur.
Endeavour will close 2008 with a 15-day mission to deliver supplies and cargo to the space station. During the STS-126 mission, NASA astronaut Sandra Magnus will replace Greg Chamitoff as an Expedition 18 crew member on the station. Chamitoff will return to Earth after five months in space. The mission's targeted launch time is 8:43 p.m. EST, Nov. 12. Landing will occur at approximately 2:45 p.m., Nov. 27.
Chris Ferguson will command STS-126, with Eric Boe serving as pilot. Mission specialists will be Steve Bowen, Shane Kimbrough, Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, Donald Pettit, Magnus and Chamitoff.
The formal launch dates for space shuttle flights are determined during the Flight Readiness Review, which is conducted about two weeks before launch. The STS-125 review is scheduled for Sept. 22-23. The review for STS-126 is scheduled for Oct. 30.
03 September 2008
That was followed by this post about the 20 essential fantasy books of the past twenty years. The "His Dark Materials" series, by Philip Pullman (Northern Lights*, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass) are the only books mentioned that I've read.
Oh, well. So many books, so little time....
* Published in the US as The Golden Compass.
Thank you for taking the Creativity Test. The results show your brain dominance as being:
Left Brain - Right Brain
56% - 44%
You are more left-brained than right-brained. Your left brain controls the right side of your body. In addition to being known as left-brained, you are also known as a critical thinker who uses logic and sense to collect information. You are able to retain this information through the use of numbers, words, and symbols. You usually only see parts of the "whole" picture, but this is what guides you step-by-step in a logical manner to your conclusion. Concise words, numerical and written formulas and technological systems are often forms of expression for you. Some occupations usually held by a left-brained person include a lab scientist, banker, judge, lawyer, mathematician, librarian, and skating judge.
Your complete evaluation follows below:
Your left brain/right brain percentage was calculated by combining the individual scores of each half's sub-categories. They are as follows:
Your Left Brain Percentages
50% Symbolic (Your most dominant characteristic)
18% Sequential (Your least dominant characteristic)
Your Right Brain Percentages
48% Fantasy-oriented (Your most dominant characteristic)
10% Intuitive (Your least dominant characteristic)
Seems to be more or less correct.... (Librarian sounds like a good choice.)
H/T to Cloudscome.
20 Mar 1937 - 31 Aug 2008
ZUI this article from the New York Times:
NASHVILLE — Jerry Reed, a popular country singer and movie actor whose larger-than-life storytelling and flashy guitar work vividly evoked Southern life, died early Monday morning at his home here. He was 71.
The cause was emphysema, said Butch Baker, Mr. Reed’s friend and song publisher.
Best known in later years for his role in the movie “The Waterboy” (1998), starring Adam Sandler, and in the three “Smokey and the Bandit” adventures of the late ’70s and early ’80s, in which he played Burt Reynolds’s gear-shifting sidekick the Snowman, Mr. Reed was first and foremost a musician.
Mr. Reed accompanied himself on the three dozen Top 40 country hits he recorded under his own name from 1967 to 1983. Many of the songs also relied on his clowning persona, including his three No. 1 singles, “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot,” “Lord, Mr. Ford” and “She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft).”
Jerry Reed Hubbard was born in March 20, 1937, in Atlanta. The son of cotton mill workers, he began playing the guitar in elementary school, later graduating to nightclubs and bars in and around Atlanta as a teenager.
Mr. Reed is survived by Priscilla Reed, his wife of 49 years, and by two daughters, Sedina and Lottie, and two grandchildren, all of Nashville.
Jery Reed's entry at IMDb is here. Further information about his music can be found here. And, of course, there's a Wikipedia article.
I liked the original Smokey and the Bandit, and I liked what I saw of another movie that might have been Gator, but I remember him mostly as a singer. "Lord, Mr Ford" and "The Bird" are my favourites of his songs.
Update 0941 5 Sep: According to this article from the Nashville Tennessean, which provides more information about Reed's career, he actually died shortly before midnight on Sunday, 31 August.
In 1958, Mr. Reed ended his association with Capitol. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1959, the same year he married Priscilla “Prissy” Mitchell. Army brass thought Mr. Reed’s talents better suited for a stage than a battlefield, and the would-be warrior became a member of the army’s Circle A Wranglers band.
Brenda Lee — a member of both the country and rock ’n’ roll halls of fame — remembered that Mr. Reed was in full military uniform when he saw her at the Atlanta airport and mentioned that he had a song that would be good for her. That song, “That’s All You Gotta Do,” was a Top 10 pop hit for Lee, and it was the “flip” side of Lee’s wildly popular single “I’m Sorry.” That success was a change for the better, as was a 1961 military discharge and the development of a unique guitar-playing method that would later be called “Claw style.”
“Like Django (Reinhardt), Chet and a few others, Jerry Reed created a unique style of guitar playing, one which will be carried on by admirers for generations to come,” said musician David Hungate. Scholar John Knowles told Thomas Goldsmith, “His playing has the complexity of classical music but the rhythmic sense that comes from country, rock and gospel.” And bass man Henry Strzelecki, who played on “Amos Moses,” “Lord, Mr. Ford” and other Reed hits, said, “Jerry brought rhythm and blues and country together, and it came out funk. He’s one of the finest talents we’ve known. And he made people happy. You couldn’t be sad around Jerry.”
There were plenty who never knew of Mr. Reed as anything more than “The Snowman,” or as the coach in The Waterboy. He was funny, and an entertainer, and in terms of movie-making that was enough. He fully understood that most of the general public didn’t know that he was one of the most compellingly original guitarists of all time, and he fully understood that many session guitarists not only understood it but also attempted to replicate his feel and technique. And he was fine with all of that.
In the end, Mr. Reed sought neither acknowledgment nor celebration, to the point that he requested a quick and private funeral. He was buried Tuesday afternoon in Nashville, and he is survived by wife Priscilla Hubbard, by daughters Seidina Hinesley and Charlotte Elaine “Lottie” Stewart and by grandson Jerry Roe and granddaughter Lainey Stewart.
Mr. Reed’s only regret regarding the guitar was that his declining health meant he could no longer play. Making music would have been a comfort in his final months. Instead, he enjoyed the company of family, and the visits from old friends like Lee and [Bobby] Bare.
18 Dec 1920 – 1 Sep 2008
ZUI this article from the Liverpool Echo:
ONE OF Merseyside’s most decorated war heroes died yesterday, his family have confirmed.
Lieutenant Commander Ian Fraser won the Victoria Cross after a death-defying raid on a Japanese ship during World War II.
The 87-year-old passed away at Arrowe Park Hospital, Wirral, on Monday after a three week illness.
Commanding a midget submarine off the Singapore coast, in broad daylight in May 1945, Lt Cmdr Fraser steered a course through 80 miles of mined water, past hydrophonic listening posts, over loops and controlled minefields, and through an anti-submarine boom.
But after 24 hours submerged they reached their target: the Japanese vessel Takeo in the Jahore Strait.
His leading seaman left the craft to attach explosives to the hull of the ship but by the time he returned the falling tide had left the XE3 midget submarine wedged between the Takeo - now a ticking time bomb - and the seabed. It took Lt Cmdr Fraser 50 nerve-shredding minutes to manoeuvre his craft out from under the ship.
He is survived by his wife Melba, five of six children, 13 grand children and 7 great grand children.
ZUI also this article from The Telegraph:
Lieutenant-Commander Ian Fraser, who died on Monday aged 87, won the Victoria Cross as captain of the midget submarine XE3 in Operation Struggle, a daring attack on the Japanese 10,000-ton heavy cruiser Takao in the Johore Straits, off Singapore Dockyard, just before the end of the Second World War.
Ian Edward Fraser was born on December 18 1920, and was taken at a few months old to Kuala Lumpur, where his father was working as a marine engineer. He went to the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe, and then HMS Conway, the training ship in the Mersey.
In 1938 he joined the Blue Funnel Line and went to sea as a cadet in Tuscan Star and Sydney Star. After joining the battleship Royal Oak as a midshipman, RNR, for what he thought was to be four months’ training, he was aboard for the Fleet Review in Weymouth Bay, Dorset, in July 1939.
When war broke out, Fraser served in the destroyer Keith. He was in the destroyer Montrose at Dunkirk, and in another destroyer, Malcolm, when she and other escorts sank U-651 in the Atlantic on June 29 1941.
Then — “for no valid reason which I can now recall” — he volunteered for submarines. He served in P35 and H43 before joining Sahib in the “Fighting Tenth” submarine squadron in the Mediterranean.
He won a DSC in April 1943 after Sahib, west of Corsica on January 21 1943, sank U-301 as well as several Axis supply ships. At a post-patrol party aboard a depot ship, somebody threw a heavy brass ashtray which broke a bone in Fraser’s foot. As a result he was not on Sahib’s next patrol, in which the sub was lost and all but one of its crew became PoWs.
Fraser remained in the RNR rank until he retired as a lieutenant- commander in 1966. He was awarded the Reserve Decoration with Long Service Bar, became a JP and vice-president of the Merseyside Branch of the Submarine Old Comrades’ Association.
In addition he was a Younger Brother of Trinity House and, since 2002, had been United Kingdom vice-chairman of the VC/GC Association. His memoirs, Frogman VC, were published in 1957.
For more on Takao, see here.
Fraser was the last surviving member of the Royal Navy to hold the Victoria Cross. There are now ten surviving VC holders:
Lt Col Eric C T Wilson VC, East Surrey Regiment - Somaliland, 1940
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
******* *** *******
IAN EDWARD FRASER, DSC
Lieutenant, Royal Naval Reserve; commanding HM Midget Submarine XE-3
Born: 18 December 1920, Ealing, London
Died: 1 September 2008, Wirral, Merseyside
Citation: Lieutenant Fraser commanded His Majesty's Midget Submarine XE-3 in a successful attack on a Japanese heavy cruiser of the Atago class at her moorings in Johore Strait, Singapore, on 31st July, 1945. During the long approach up the Singapore Straits XE-3 deliberately left the believed safe channel and entered the mined waters to avoid suspected hydrophone posts. The target was aground, or nearly aground, both fore and aft, and only under the midships portion was there just sufficient water for XE-3 to place herself under the cruiser. For forty minutes XE-3 pushed her way along the seabed until finally, Lieutenant Fraser managed to force her right under the centre of the cruiser. Here he placed the limpets and dropped his main side charge. Great difficulty was experienced in extricating the craft after the attack had been completed, but finally XE-3 was clear, and commenced her long return journey out to sea. The courage and determination of Lieutenant Fraser are beyond all praise. Any man not possessed of his relentless determination to achieve his objective in full, regardless of all consequences, would have dropped his side charge alongside the target instead of persisting until he had forced his submarine right under the cruiser. The approach and withdrawal entailed a passage of 80 miles through water which had been mined by both the enemy and ourselves, past hydrophone positions, over loops and controlled minefields, and through an antisubmarine boom.
(London Gazette Issue 37346 dated 13 Nov 1945, published 9 Nov 1945.)
01 September 2008
Maniac Magee - YA, by Jerry Spinelli (Newbery Medal, 1991)
A Body in the Bath House - mystery, by Lindsey Davis
The Fairacre Festival - fiction, by Miss Read
Crazy Time - SF, by Kate Wilhelm
Tyler's Row - fiction, by Miss Read
King, Kaiser, Tsar: Three Royal Cousins Who Led the World to War - European history, by Catrine Clay
The Jupiter Myth - mystery, by Lindsey Davis
Brian's Winter - YA, by Gary Paulsen
Missing May - YA, by Cynthia Rylant (Newbery Medal, 1993)
Walk Two Moons - YA, by Sharon Creech (Newbery Medal, 1995)
The Accusers - mystery, by Lindsey Davis
The Long Summer: How Climate Changed Civilization - ancient history, by Brian Fagan *
Scandal Takes a Holiday - mystery, by Lindsey Davis
Frozen Earth: The Once and Future Story of Ice Ages - science, by Doug Macdougall
See Delphi and Die - mystery, by Lindsey Davis
The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History, 1300-1850 - European history, by Brian Fagan *
Snowball Earth: The Story of the Great Global Catastrophe That Spawned Life As We Know It - science, by Gabrielle Walker
Shadow of a Bull - children's, by Maia Wojciechowska (Newbery Medal, 1965)
The House on the Gulf - YA, by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Ruby Holler - YA, by Sharon Creech (Carnegie Medal, 2002)
Saturnalia - mystery, by Lindsey Davis
22 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 still (165 books and a novella) over a month ahead of track (139).
I've now read all 18 of the Marcus Didius Falco mysteries that have been published so far. According to the author's website, the 19th book - Alexandria - will be published next year in both the US and the UK. And she's already promised a 20th, presumably to come out in 2010. I can't wait....
The four Newbery Medal winners bring my total thus far up to 62 of 87. (And the one Carnegie Medal winner brings me up to seven of 69.)