27 September 2009

Victoria Cross: B. S. Kingsbury


Private, 2nd/14th (Victoria) Battalion, Australian Military Forces

Born: 8 January 1918, Armadale, Melbourne, Australia
Died: 29 August 1942, near Isurava, New Guinea

Citation: In New Guinea, the Battalion to which Private Kingsbury belonged had been holding a position in the Isurava area for two days against continuous and fierce enemy attacks. On the 29th August, 1942, the enemy attacked in such force that they succeeded in breaking through the Battalion's right flank, creating a serious threat both to the rest of the Battalion and to its Headquarters. To avoid the situation becoming more desperate, it was essential to regain immediately the lost ground on the right flank.
Private Kingsbury, who was one of the few survivors of a Platoon which had been over-run and severely cut about by the enemy, immediately volunteered to join a different platoon which had been ordered to counter-attack.
He rushed forward firing his Bren Gun from the hip through terrific machine-gun fire and succeeded in clearing a path through the enemy. Continuing to sweep the enemy positions with his fire and inflicting an extremely high number of casualties on them, Private Kingsbury was seen to fall to the ground shot dead by the bullet from a sniper hiding in the wood.
Private Kingsbury displayed a complete disregard for his own safety. His initiative and superb courage made possible the recapture of the position which undoubtedly saved Battalion Headquarters, as well as causing heavy casualties amongst the enemy. His coolness, determination and devotion to duty in the face of great odds was an inspiration to his comrades.

Medal of Honor: J. Lummus


First Lieutenant, US Marine Corps Reserve; 2d Battalion, 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division

Born: 22 October 1915, Ennie, Texas
Died: 8 March 1945, Iwo Jima

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as leader of a Rifle Platoon attached to the 2d Battalion, 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, 8 March 1945. Resuming his assault tactics with bold decision after fighting without respite for 2 days and nights, 1st Lt. Lummus slowly advanced his platoon against an enemy deeply entrenched in a network of mutually supporting positions. Suddenly halted by a terrific concentration of hostile fire, he unhesitatingly moved forward of his front lines in an effort to neutralize the Japanese position. Although knocked to the ground when an enemy grenade exploded close by, he immediately recovered himself and, again moving forward despite the intensified barrage, quickly located, attacked, and destroyed the occupied emplacement. Instantly taken under fire by the garrison of a supporting pillbox and further assailed by the slashing fury of hostile rifle fire, he fell under the impact of a second enemy grenade but, courageously disregarding painful shoulder wounds, staunchly continued his heroic 1-man assault and charged the second pillbox, annihilating all the occupants. Subsequently returning to his platoon position, he fearlessly traversed his lines under fire, encouraging his men to advance and directing the fire of supporting tanks against other stubbornly holding Japanese emplacements. Held up again by a devastating barrage, he again moved into the open, rushed a third heavily fortified installation and killed the defending troops. Determined to crush all resistance, he led his men indomitably, personally attacking foxholes and spider traps with his carbine and systematically reducing the fanatic opposition until, stepping on a land mine, he sustained fatal wounds. By his outstanding valor, skilled tactics, and tenacious perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds, 1st Lt. Lummus had inspired his stouthearted marines to continue the relentless drive northward, thereby contributing materially to the success of his regimental mission. His dauntless leadership and unwavering devotion to duty throughout sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.

22 September 2009

STS-132 and STS-133 crews announced

Actually, the STS-132 crew was announced a few months ago, but I haven't been paying proper attention to the space programme lately. ZUI this NASA press release dated 14 May 09:
NASA has assigned the crew for space shuttle mission STS-132, targeted for launch in April 2010. This flight will deliver the Russian-built Mini Research Module (MRM1) to the International Space Station.

Navy Capt. Ken Ham will command the shuttle Atlantis for this 11-day mission. Navy Cmdr. Tony Antonelli will serve as the pilot. Mission specialists are Navy Capt. Steve Bowen, Karen Nyberg, Garrett Reisman, and Piers Sellers.

This will be the third spaceflight for Sellers, and the second for each of the others.

Capt Ham (USN). Cdr Antonelli (USN). Capt Bowen (USN). Dr Nyberg. Dr Reisman. Dr Sellers.

For the shuttle programme's final flight, ZUI this press release dated 18 Sep:
NASA has assigned the crew for the last scheduled space shuttle mission, targeted to launch in September 2010. The flight to the International Space Station will carry a pressurized logistics module to the station.

Veteran shuttle commander and retired Air Force Col. Steven W. Lindsey will command the eight-day mission, designated STS-133. Air Force Col. Eric A. Boe will serve as the pilot; it will be his second flight as a shuttle pilot. Mission Specialists are shuttle mission veteran Air Force Col. Benjamin Alvin Drew, Jr., and long-duration spaceflight veterans Michael R. Barratt, Army Col. Timothy L. Kopra and Nicole P. Stott.


Lindsey currently is chief of the Astronaut Office. Long-duration spaceflight veteran and former space station commander Peggy A. Whitson has been named his successor when Lindsey transitions in October to training for his spaceflight. Whitson was a flight engineer aboard the station during Expedition 5 in 2002 and the commander of Expedition 16 in 2007 to 2008.

This will be Lindsey's fifth spaceflight, and the second for each of the others.

Col Lindsey (USAF, ret). Col Boe (USAF). Col Drew (USAF). Dr Barratt. Col Kopra (US Army). Stott.

20 September 2009

Victoria Cross: R. L. Zengel


Serjeant, 5th Battalion the Saskatchewan Regiment, Canadian Expeditionary Force

Born: 11 November 1894, Faribault, Minnesota, USA
Died: 27 February 1977, Errington, British Columbia, Canada

Citation: For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty while protecting the battalion right flank [on 9 August 1918, east of Warvillers, France]. He was leading his platoon gallantly forward to the attack, but had not gone far when he realised that a gap had occurred on his flank, and that an enemy machine gun was firing at close range into the advancing line. Grasping the situation, he rushed forward some 200 yards ahead of the platoon, tackled the machine-gun emplacement, killed the officer and operator of the gun, and dispersed the crew. By his boldness and prompt action he undoubtedly saved the lives of many of his comrades.
Later, when the battalion was held up by very heavy machine-gun fire, he displayed much tactical skill and directed his fire with destructive results. Shortly afterwards he was rendered unconscious for a few minutes by an enemy shell, but on recovering consciousness he at once continued to direct harassing fire on the enemy.
Sjt. Zengel's work throughout the attack was excellent, and his utter disregard for personal safety, and the confidence he inspired in all ranks, greatly assisted in bringing the attack to a successful end.

(London Gazette Issue 30922 dated 27 Sep 1918, published 24 Sep 1918.)

Medal of Honor: C. F. Schilt


First Lieutenant, US Marine Corps; Observation Squadron 7M

Born: 19 March 1895, Richland County, Illinois
Died: 8 January 1987

Citation: During the progress of an insurrection at Quilali, Nicaragua, 6, 7, and 8 January 1928, 1st Lt. Schilt, then a member of a marine expedition which had suffered severe losses in killed and wounded, volunteered under almost impossible conditions to evacuate the wounded by air and transport a relief commanding officer to assume charge of a very serious situation. 1st Lt. Schilt bravely undertook this dangerous and important task [in his Vought O2U Corsair] and, by taking off a total of 10 times in the rough, rolling street of a partially burning village, under hostile infantry fire on each occasion, succeeded in accomplishing his mission, thereby actually saving 3 lives and bringing supplies and aid to others in desperate need.

Note: Schilt retired in 1957 with the rank of general. His other awards included the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with Combat "V," the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star with Combat "V" and the Air Medal with four gold stars.

18 September 2009

What's in a Name reading challenge

Another reading challenge I just stumbled across:
*This is a challenge that anyone can join, no matter what types of books they like to read. You should be able to find books from any genre that will work.

*Dates: January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2009

*The Challenge: Choose one book from each of the following categories.

1. A book with a "profession" in its title. Examples might include: The Book Thief, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Historian

2. A book with a "time of day" in its title. Examples might include: Twilight, Four Past Midnight, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

3. A book with a "relative" in its title. Examples might include: Eight Cousins, My Father's Dragon, The Daughter of Time

4. A book with a "body part" in its title. Examples might include: The Bluest Eye, Bag of Bones, The Heart of Darkness

5. A book with a "building" in its title. Examples might include: Uncle Tom's Cabin, Little House on the Prairie, The Looming Tower

6. A book with a "medical condition" in its title. Examples might include: Insomnia, Coma, The Plague

*You may overlap books with other challenges, but please don't use the same book for more than one category.

*Again, there will be some small prizes scattered throughout. No set schedule, so just be sure to check in once a while. There will also be a prize awarded at the conclusion to one participant who completes the challenge.

*You don't need to decide exactly which books you will be reading ahead of time, though you're certainly welcome to. Either way, I'd love to see your lists of possibilities, and I'll bet everyone else would love to read them as well. To join in, simply leave a link here. Or, if you don't have a blog, simply leave your name (and feel free to share your list in the comments if you'd like).

Click on the picture above for the original post at What's in a Name-2.

I've already read books for items 1, 3 and 5* (and possibly 6) this year, so I'm off to a good start....

* Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians, by Brandon Sanderson; Sister Light, Sister Dark, by Jane Yolen; and The Secret of the Old Mill, by "Franklin W Dixon."

WWII reading challenge

It's a little late, but I just found this reading challenge at War through the Generations.
War Through the Generation’s very first reading challenge will be World War II. The challenge will run from January 1, 2009, to December 31, 2009.


To participate in the WWII Reading Challenge, you must commit to reading at least five books throughout the year. We plan to read more than that, and feel free to do the same! The books can be fiction or non-fiction, and they can be about any aspect of WWII. WWII should be the primary or secondary theme, and it doesn’t matter whether the book takes place during the war or after the war. Children’s literature is acceptable! (Please visit the WWII Reading List page for some recommendations.) You can count books you are reading for other challenges, so long as they meet the aforementioned criteria.

You can decide which books you’d like to read right away, or you can choose them during the course of the challenge. However, when you sign up, we ask that you set a reading goal for the challenge. At the end of the challenge, those who met or exceeded their reading goals will be entered in a drawing (prizes to be announced later).

**Participants anywhere in the world are eligible for most prizes in the drawing!**

Click on the picture above for instructions on how to sign up.

I've already read three WWII books* this year, so I've signed up for a total of six.

* Shadows in the Jungle: The Alamo Scouts Behind Japanese Lines in World War II, by Larry Alexander; The Silver Sword (aka Escape from Warsaw), by Ian Serraillier; and Battleship Bismarck: A Survivor's Story, by Baron Burkard von Müllenheim-Rechberg.


"My rule with a hunch is that if it calls for more work, like right now, follow it. If it calls for less or something like skimping, then ignore it. If it's a case where there are sixteen leads and none more likely than any other and you might as well take them in alphabetical order, then a hunch might well be the back of your mind drawing your attention to something the front of your mind missed."
-- Jo Walton, Farthing

15 September 2009

Medal of Honor to be presented Thursday

ZUI this article from www.Army.mil:
Ask anyone - family, friends, Soldiers - who knew Sgt. 1st Class Jared Monti of the 10th Mountain Division, and they'll tell you he was the best friend, best Soldier, best noncommissioned officer, best person they ever knew.


He was posthumously promoted to sergeant first class the following day and will be the first Soldier awarded the Medal of Honor for Operation Enduring Freedom Thursday, when President Barack Obama presents the nation's highest honor to Monti's parents in a White House ceremony. Monti will also be honored in a Pentagon ceremony Friday.

Monti earned the Medal when he and 15 other Soldiers became the first American servicemembers to ever set foot in the Gremen Valley, near the Pakistan border. Reports had showed insurgents were in the area, but not their exact location, their numbers or the types of weapons they had.

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


Sergeant First Class (then Staff Sergeant), US Army; 3d Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 3d Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry)

Born: 20 September 1975, Abington, Massachusetts
Died: 21 June 2006, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sergeant First Class Monti distinguished himself at the cost of his life while serving as a team leader with the Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3d Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan on 21 June 2006. On that day, Sergeant First Class Monti was leading a mission to gather intelligence and to direct fires against the enemy in support of a squadron-size interdiction mission. While at an observation position on top of a mountain ridge, Sergeant First Class Monti’s sixteen-man patrol came under attack by a superior force consisting of as many as 50 enemy fighters. On the verge of being overrun, Sergeant First Class Monti directed his patrol to set up a hasty defensive position behind a collection of rocks. He then began to call for indirect fire from a nearby support base; accurately bringing the rounds upon the enemy who had closed to within 50 meters of his position. While still calling for fire, Sergeant First Class Monti personally engaged the enemy with his rifle and a grenade, successfully disrupting an attempt to flank the patrol. Sergeant First Class Monti then realized that one of his Soldiers was lying wounded and exposed in the open ground between the advancing enemy and the patrol’s position. With complete disregard for his own safety, Sergeant First Class Monti moved from behind the cover of the rocks into the face of withering enemy fire. After closing within meters of his wounded Soldier, the heavy volume of fire forced Sergeant First Class Monti to seek cover. Sergeant First Class Monti then gathered himself and rose again to maneuver through a barrage of enemy fire to save his wounded Soldier. Again, Sergeant First Class Monti was driven back by relentless enemy fire. Unwilling to leave his Soldier wounded and exposed, Sergeant First Class Monti made another attempt to move across open terrain and through the enemy fire to the aide of his wounded Soldier. On his third attempt, Sergeant First Class Monti was mortally wounded, sacrificing his own life in an effort to save his Soldier. Sergeant First Class Monti’s acts of heroism inspired the patrol to fight off the larger enemy force. Sergeant First Class Monti’s immeasurable courage and uncommon valor were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, 3d Squadron 71st Cavalry Regiment, the 3d Brigade Combat Team, the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), and the United States Army.

14 September 2009

RIP: Gertrude Baines

Gertrude Baines
6 Apr 1894 - 11 Sep 2009

The oldest person in the world has died. ZUI this article from the Los Angeles Times:
Although she liked her bacon crispy and her chicken fried, she never drank, smoked or fooled around, Gertrude Baines once said, describing a life that lasted an astonishing 115 years and earned her the title of oldest person on the planet.

It was a title Baines quietly relinquished Friday when she died in her sleep at Western Convalescent Hospital, her home since she gave up living alone at age 107 after breaking a hip.

She likely suffered a heart attack, said her longtime physician, Dr. Charles Witt, although an autopsy was scheduled to determine the exact cause of death.


Baines was born in Shellman, Ga., on April 6, 1894, when Grover Cleveland was in the White House, radio communication was just being developed and television was still more than a half-century from becoming a ubiquitous household presence.

She was 4 years old when the Spanish-American War broke out and 9 when the first World Series was played. She had already reached middle age by the time the U.S. entered World War II in 1941.


The centenarian, who worked as a maid at Ohio State University dormitories until her retirement, had outlived all of her family members. Her only daughter died of typhoid at age 18.

In her final years, she passed her days watching her favorite TV program, "The Jerry Springer Show," and consuming her favorite foods: bacon, fried chicken and ice cream. She complained often, however, that the bacon served to her was too soft.

Baines is the first supercentenarian listed by the Gerontology Research Group (GRG) to die since the death of Gertrude Noone on 10 September.

The GRG's list of validated living supercentenarians (people who have reached their 110th birthday) currently includes 72 people (4 men and 68 women), ranging from Kama Chinen of Japan (born 10 May 1895) to Ruth Anderson of Minnesota (born 24 Jul 1899). The oldest person in the United States is now Mary Josephine Ray of New Hampshire (born 17 May 1895 in Canada), the world's second-oldest person; 26 other supercentenarians live in the US, though none are in California.

RIP: Gertrude Noone

Gertrude Noone
30 Dec 1898-10 Sep 2009

The oldest military veteran in the world has died. ZUI this article from the Los Angeles Times:
Gertrude Noone was a 44-year-old insurance policy clerk for Travelers in Hartford, Conn., in 1943 when she enlisted in the Women's Army Corps.

When she died peacefully Thursday morning at age 110 at an assisted-living facility in Milford, Conn., she was the oldest known living military veteran in the world -- a fact that made her proud.


Noone, who rose to the rank of sergeant first class, was chief clerk of the large dispensary at Ft. Myer, Va., by the time she left the Army in 1949. She then worked as an administrative assistant at a private psychiatric hospital in Stamford, Conn., until retiring in 1962.

Bob Johnson, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who has spent the last 19 years helping World War I and World War II veterans receive recognition and awards, said the title of the world's oldest known living military veteran passed to Noone when British World War I veteran Harry Patch died July 25 at 111.


One of 10 children, Noone was born Dec. 30, 1898, in Ansonia, Conn.

All nine of Noone's siblings predeceased her. The most recent was her sister Esther Balogh, who served as an Army nurse during World War II and died in 2003 at 103.

Noone, who never married, lived with Balogh for many years until 2002, when she moved into Carriage Green, where she joined the gardening club and participated in a weekly exercise group.

There are still three living World War I veterans, but the oldest - John Babcock, a Canadian now living in the US - is only 109.

Noone, who at the time of her death was the 60th-oldest person in the world, is the fourth supercentenarian listed by the Gerontology Research Group (GRG) to die since the death of Harry Patch. The others were Ethel Johnson of Ohio (28 Sep 1897-29 Jul 2009), Sarah Wilkins of Iowa (27 Mar 1899-8 Aug 2009) and Pasqualina Franco of Ontario (2 Dec 1898-16 Aug 2009).

13 September 2009

Victoria Cross: H. W. Pitcher and G. V. Fosbery


Lieutenant, 4th Punjab Infantry, Bengal Staff Corps

Born: 20 December 1841, Bath, Somerset
Died: 5 July 1875, Dehra Ghazi Khan, India

Citation: For the daring and gallant manner in which, in the course of the recent operations against the Frontier Tribes, on the 30th October, 1863, he led a party of his Regiment to re-capture the Crag Picket, after its garrison had been driven in by the enemy; on which occasion sixty of them were killed in desperate hand to hand fighting.
From the nature of the approach to the top of the Crag, amongst the large rocks, one or two men only could advance at one time; "and while I ascended one path," relates Major Keyes, commanding the 1st Punjab Infantry, "I directed Lieutenant Fosbery, of the late 4th European Regiment, to push up another, at the head of a few men. He led this party with the greatest coolness and intrepidity, and was the first man to gain the top of the Crag, on his side of the attack. Lieutenant Pitcher, equally cool and daring, led a party of men up to the last rock, until he was knocked down and stunned by a large stone thrown from above, within a few yards of him."
Lieutenant Pitcher also displayed great gallantry in leading on a party of his Regiment to endeavour to recover the Crag Picket, when it again fell into the enemy's hands, on the 13th of November, as related in the following extract from Major Keyes' report of the 16th of that month;
"The duty of leading the first charge devolved upon Lieutenant Pitcher, and I beg to bring to the special notice of the Brigadier-General Commanding, the admirable manner in which he performed this important duty. He was by many yards the foremost of his party, and the gallant bearing of this excellent young Officer was the admiration of all spectators. It is impossible to say too much, or to over-rate his services on this occasion. Lieutenant Pitcher was severely wounded, and was obliged to be carried back."

[London Gazette issue 22876 dtd 19 Jul 1864, published 19 Jul 1864.]


Lieutenant, 4th Bengal European Regiment, British Indian Army

Born: 11 April 1832, Stert, Wiltshire
Died: 8 May 1907, Bath, Somerset

Citation: For the daring and gallant manner in which, on the 30th of October, 1863, acting as a Volunteer at the time, he led a party of his Regiment to re-capture the Crag Picquet, after its garrison had been driven in by the enemy, on which occasion sixty of them were killed in desperate hand to hand fighting.
From the nature of the approach to the top of the Crag, amongst the large rocks, one or two men only could advance at one time; and "whilst I ascended one path," relates Lieutenant-Colonel Keyes, C.B., commanding the 1st Punjab Infantry, "I directed Lieutenant Fosbery, of the late 4th European Regiment, to push up another at the head of a few men. He led this party with the greatest coolness and intrepidity, and was the first man to gain the top of the Crag on his side of the attack."
Subsequently, Lieutenant-Colonel Keyes being wounded, Lieutenant Fosbery assembled a party with which he pursued the routed enemy in the direction of the Lalloo ridge, inflicting on them further loss and confirming possession of the post.

[London Gazette issue 22988 dated 7 Jul 1865, published 7 Jul 1865.]

Note: Fosbery was the inventor of the Paradox rifle/shotgun, and also of a self-cocking revolver, which was manufactured by the Webley & Scott Revolver & Arms Company.

Medal of Honor: A. Savage


Ordinary Seaman, US Navy; USS Santiago de Cuba

Born: 1846, Maine
Died: at sea

Citation: On board the U.S.S. Santiago de Cuba in the assault on Fort Fisher, [near Wilmington, North Carolina, on] 15 January 1865. When the landing party to which he was attached charged on the fort with a cheer, and the determination to plant the colors on the ramparts, Savage remained steadfast when more than two-thirds of the marines and sailors fell back in panic during the fight. When enemy fire shot away the flagstaff above his hand, he bravely seized the remainder of the staff and brought his colors safely off.

11 September 2009

Operational Honours and Awards List

A new Operational Honours and Awards List has been issued by the Ministry of Defence. ZUI this article from the MOD Defence News:
A total of 145 members of the Armed Forces have received honours and awards in the Operational Honours List dated today, 11 September 2009.

Amongst the awards is a Military Cross given to Medical Assistant Class 1 Kate Louise Nesbitt, RN, for service in Afghanistan - the first MC awarded to a woman in the Royal Navy and only the second MC awarded to any woman. ZUI this article from The Times:
A 20-year-old medic who repeatedly rushed forward to save colleagues while under attack from the Taleban has become the first woman in the Royal Navy to be awarded the Military Cross and only the second in the Armed Forces.

Able Seaman Class 1 Kate Nesbitt tended wounded colleagues from 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines several times when they came under fire while on patrol in Afghanistan. The Ministry of Defence said: “Able Seaman Nesbitt’s actions throughout a series of offensive operations were exemplary. Under fire and under pressure her commitment and courage were inspirational and made the difference between life and death. She performed in the highest traditions of her service.”

The Military Cross is given to members of the Armed Forces “for exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy”, and ranks below only the Victoria Cross and Conspicuous Gallantry Cross as a recognition of bravery in battle.

Private Michelle Norris, 18, a medic with the Royal Army Medical Corps, was the first woman to win the Military Cross. She braved heavy sniper and machinegun fire from 200 insurgents during a fierce battle in southern Iraq in 2006. She climbed on top of an armoured vehicle to give life-saving treatment to a comrade.

This article from The Telegraph includes brief descriptions of some of the awards, as does this one from the BBC.

Able Seaman Kate Nesbitt MC

Operation Yes (Sara Lewis Holmes)

I read a lot of books, but seldom write reviews - for the simple reason that I hate writing reviews. The process always reminds me of high-school English class, where we would read a perfectly good story and then ruin it by dissecting it. (I'm a surface reader - I read the story exactly as written, without regard for possible parables, allegories or other hidden meanings.) This week, however....

I mentioned a while back that one of the books I was looking forward to this year was Operation Yes, by Sara Lewis Holmes. It finally came out on 1 September, and it was well worth the wait.

The book is set on an Air Force base in North Carolina. Bo Whaley, son of the base commander, doesn't like school; he's acquired a reputation as a troublemaker, too. Gari Whaley doesn't want to spend a year with her uncle Phil's family, but her mother is an Army nurse who's being sent to Iraq for a year. Bo and Gari are both going to be in the sixth grade at Young Oaks School.

Carol Loupe dropped out of the Air Force Academy to become a teacher. She's the only one in her family who isn't in the service - her sister is an Air Force pilot, one brother is at the Academy and the other brother is part of a Special Forces team in Afghanistan. Miss Loupe is also at Young Oaks, doing her first year as a sixth-grade teacher.

Miss Loupe is a very active teacher. On the first day of school, she is down on her knees, taping off a rectangle on the classroom floor whilst calling roll (from memory). The Taped Space is meant to be a stage for improv, leading to some wild scenes. Unfortunately, the School Commission is coming to do a material inspection of the school, and theatre isn't part of the state-approved sixth-grade curriculum....

And then Miss Loupe receives bad news. Very bad news. And Bo, Gari and the rest of the sixth grade - aided by their first-grade reading buddies and 100,000 Little Green Men - set out to help her recover.

Holmes, I believe, was an Air Force brat; she's now an Air Force wife. So her descriptions of life on base sound right, and she deals well with problems like Gari's separation from her mother or Bo's worries about what will happen when his father transfers next year. Favourite bits include the school librarian, who uses book titles as cuss words ("Frog and Toad!" Miss Candy said.); the FOD walkdown Bo organises to find a lost pendant; the performance presented by the Ugly Couch Players, and:
"A milk run is a routine mission," said Mr. Nix to his class as they came through the line. "Does anyone know what the opposite of routine is?"
One of his first graders tried to raise her hand and dropped her pudding. A glob of it landed on his shoe.
"No, that's not it," said Mr. Nix.

Operation Yes, by Sara Lewis Holmes. Scholastic, 2009. Ages 9-12 (though our public library lists it as YA). Available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, of course - though buying through IndieBound or from your local independent bookseller is highly recommended!

06 September 2009

Victoria Cross: R. H. Gray


Temporary Lieutenant, Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve; 1841 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm (on board HMS Formidable)

Born: 2 November 1917, Trail, British Columbia, Canada
Died: 9 August 1945, Onagawa Wan (Onagawa Bay), Japan

Citation: For great valour in leading an attack on a Japanese destroyer in Onagawa Wan on 9th August, 1945. In the face of fire from shore batteries and a heavy concentration of fire from some five warships Lieutenant Gray pressed home his attack, flying very low in order to ensure success, and, although he was hit and his aircraft was in flames, he obtained at least one direct hit, sinking the destroyer. Lieutenant Gray has consistently shown a brilliant fighting spirit and most inspiring leadership.

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

Note: Lieutenant Gray was the last Canadian to win the Victoria Cross. His target was the Etorofu-class escort Amakusa.

Medal of Honor: L. P. Sijan


Captain, US Air Force; 366th Fighter Wing/4th Allied POW Wing

Born: 13 April 1942, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Died: 22 January 1968, Hoa Lo, North Vietnam

Citation: While on a flight over North Vietnam [on 9 November 1967], Capt. Sijan ejected from his disabled [F-4C] aircraft and successfully evaded capture for more than 6 weeks. During this time, he was seriously injured and suffered from shock and extreme weight loss due to lack of food. After being captured by North Vietnamese soldiers, Capt. Sijan was taken to a holding point for subsequent transfer to a prisoner of war camp. In his emaciated and crippled condition, he overpowered 1 of his guards and crawled into the jungle, only to be recaptured after several hours. He was then transferred to another prison camp where he was kept in solitary confinement and interrogated at length. During interrogation, he was severely tortured; however, he did not divulge any information to his captors. Capt. Sijan lapsed into delirium and was placed in the care of another prisoner. During his intermittent periods of consciousness until his death, he never complained of his physical condition and, on several occasions, spoke of future escape attempts. Capt. Sijan's extraordinary heroism and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty at the cost of his life are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Armed Forces.

04 September 2009

J. R. Rustin

ZUI this article - "Chipley Native - Medal of Honor Recipient - Dies" - from the Foster Folly News*:
James Relius "Dick" Rustin (1929-2009), went to be with the Lord on August 29, 2009. He was born on November 29, 1929 in Chipley, Florida. He had a life span of 79 years which included a much honored military career.

For two years he served with the U.S. Marine Corp, then transferred into the U.S. Army where he served for 20 years. As well as serving in the Korean War and World War II, Dick was awarded many military honors including the Medal of Honor.

However, the Army's Medal of Honor page does not list a medal awarded to anyone named Rustin in either World War I or Korea (or for that matter, Vietnam). And if Mr Rustin was in fact born on 29 Nov 1929, he was only 15 years old when World War II ended, making his service in that war highly unlikely.

Something seems amiss....

* "A Washington County Florida Community Newspaper"

02 September 2009

First Elizabeth Cross presented

ZUI this article from the MOD Defence News:
The first Elizabeth Cross, awarded to families of Service personnel killed on operations in recognition of their loss, has been presented to the family of Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2) Sean Upton today.

WO2 Sean Upton, from 5th Regiment Royal Artillery, was killed in an explosion while on a foot patrol in Sangin district, Helmand province, Afghanistan, on 27 July 2009.

His family were presented with the Elizabeth Cross at his funeral in Catterick today, Tuesday 18 August 2009.

01 September 2009

Book list - Aug 09

Strawberry Girl - children's, by Lois Lenski (Newbery Medal, 1946) *
The Grey King - children's modern fantasy, by Susan Cooper (Newbery Medal, 1976)
Tomorrow's Magic - fantasy, by Pamela F Service
Daniel Boone - children's biography, by James Daugherty (Newbery Medal, 1940)
Winter in Thrush Green - fiction, by Miss Read
The Spartacus War - ancient history, by Barry S Strauss
Battles at Thrush Green - fiction, by Miss Read
The Last Thing I Remember - YA thriller, by Andrew Klavan
Driving Like Crazy - automobiles, by P J O'Rourke
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler - children's, by E L Konigsburg (Newbery Medal, 1968) *
Battleship Bismarck: A Survivor's Story - WW II, by Burkard Freiherr von Müllenheim-Rechberg
A Wrinkle in Time - children's, by Madeleine L'Engle (Newbery Medal, 1963) *
The Tomorrow Code - YA SF, by Brian Falkner
Many Skies: Alternative Histories of the Sun, Moon, Planets, and Stars - AH/astronomy, by Arthur R Upgren
Saint Antony's Fire - AH/SF, by Steve White
Ordinary Jack - children's, by Helen Cresswell
Time Out - children's time travel, by Helen Cresswell
Shelter Me - YA historical fiction, by Alex McAulay
Gateway - SF, by Frederik Pohl
Absolute Zero - children's, by Helen Cresswell
A Wind in the Door - children's, by Madeleine L'Engle

21 books this month, with three rereads. To reach my goal of 209 books this year, I have to average 17.417 per month, so I'm currently three behind track. Almost caught up!

When I finished reading Daniel Boone on 7 August, it meant that I had read all 88 winners of the John Newbery Medal. Finishing my reread of A Wrinkle in Time on 21 August meant that I had finished reading all 88 within the last two and a half years. I commented on them here.

No Carnegie Medal winners this month, so I'm still at 16 of 70. It's been suggested that I should start reading the Caldecott Medal winners next. Perhaps....