29 August 2010

Victoria Cross: S. Hodge

SAMUEL HODGE

Private, 4th West India Regiment

Born: c 1840, Tortola, Virgin Islands
Died: 14 January 1868, Belize City, Belize

Citation: For his bravery at the storming and capture of the stockaded town of Tubabecolong, in the kingdom of Barra, River Gambia, on the evening of the 30th of June last [1866]. Colonel D'Arcy, of the Gambia Volunteers, states that this man and another, who was afterwards killed, - pioneers in the 4th West India Regiment, - answered his call for volunteers, with axes in hand, to hew down the stockade. Colonel D'Arcy having effected an entrance, Private Hodge followed him through the town, opening with his axe two gates from the inside, which were barricaded, so allowing the supports to enter, who carried the place from east to west at the point of the bayonet. On issuing to the glacis through the west gate, Private Hodge was presented by Colonel D'Arcy to his comrades, as the bravest soldier in their regiment, a fact which they acknowledged with loud acclamations.

[London Gazette issue 23205 dtd 4 Jan 1867, published 4 Jan 1867.]

Medal of Honor: H. A. Wilbanks

HILLIARD A WILBANKS

Captain, US Air Force; 21st Tactical Air Support Squadron

Born: 26 July 1933, Cornelia, Georgia
Died: 24 February 1967, near Dalat, Republic of Vietnam

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. As a forward air controller Capt. Wilbanks was pilot of an unarmed, light aircraft flying visual reconnaissance ahead of a South Vietnam Army Ranger Battalion [near Dalat, Republic of Vietnam, on 24 February 1967]. His intensive search revealed a well-concealed and numerically superior hostile force poised to ambush the advancing rangers. The Viet Cong, realizing that Capt. Wilbanks' discovery had compromised their position and ability to launch a surprise attack, immediately fired on the small aircraft with all available firepower. The enemy then began advancing against the exposed forward elements of the ranger force which were pinned down by devastating fire. Capt. Wilbanks recognized that close support aircraft could not arrive in time to enable the rangers to withstand the advancing enemy, onslaught. With full knowledge of the limitations of his unarmed, unarmored, light reconnaissance aircraft, and the great danger imposed by the enemy's vast firepower, he unhesitatingly assumed a covering, close support role. Flying through a hail of withering fire at treetop level, Capt. Wilbanks passed directly over the advancing enemy and inflicted many casualties by firing his rifle out of the side window of his aircraft. Despite increasingly intense antiaircraft fire, Capt. Wilbanks continued to completely disregard his own safety and made repeated low passes over the enemy to divert their fire away from the rangers. His daring tactics successfully interrupted the enemy advance, allowing the rangers to withdraw to safety from their perilous position. During his final courageous attack to protect the withdrawing forces, Capt. Wilbanks was mortally wounded and his bullet-riddled aircraft crashed between the opposing forces. Capt. Wilbanks' magnificent action saved numerous friendly personnel from certain injury or death. His unparalleled concern for his fellow man and his extraordinary heroism were in the highest traditions of the military service, and have reflected great credit upon himself and the U.S. Air Force.

23 August 2010

Four million

Brigid was expecting to hit the four-million-visitor mark on her blog over the weekend. To commemmorate this moment, she has answered a few personal questions. (And read the comments on that post - the truck story is priceless.)

22 August 2010

Victoria Cross: A. C. Mynarski

ANDREW CHARLES MYNARSKI

Pilot Officer, Royal Canadian Air Force; 419 (RCAF) Squadron

Born: 14 October 1916, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Died: 13 June 1944, France

Citation: Pilot Officer Mynarski was the mid-upper gunner of a Lancaster aircraft, detailed to attack a target at Cambrai in France, on the night of 12th June, 1944. The aircraft was attacked from below and astern by an enemy fighter and ultimately came down in flames.
As an immediate result of the attack, both port engines failed. Fire broke out between the mid-upper turret and the rear turret, as well as in the port wing. The flames soon became fierce and the captain ordered the crew to abandon the aircraft.
Pilot Officer Mynarski left his turret and went towards the escape hatch. He then saw that the rear gunner was still in his turret and apparently unable to leave it. The turret was, in fact, immovable, since the hydraulic gear had been put out of action when the port engines failed, and the manual gear had been broken by the gunner in his attempts to escape.
Without hesitation, Pilot Officer Mynarski made his way through the flames in an endeavour to reach the rear turret and release the gunner. Whilst so doing, his parachute and his clothing, up to the waist, were set on fire. All his efforts to move the turret and free the gunner were in vain. Eventually the rear gunner clearly indicated to him that there was nothing more he could do and that he should try to save his own life. Pilot Officer Mynarski reluctantly went back through the flames to the escape hatch. There, as a last gesture to the trapped gunner, he turned towards him, stood to attention in his flaming clothing and saluted, before he jumped out of the aircraft. Pilot Officer Mynarski's descent was seen by French people on the ground. Both his parachute and clothing were on fire. He was found eventually by the French, but was so severely burnt that he died from his injuries.
The rear gunner had a miraculous escape when the aircraft crashed. He subsequently testified that, had Pilot Officer Mynarski not attempted to save his comrade's life, he could have left the aircraft in safety and would, doubtless, have escaped death.
Pilot Officer Mynarski must have been fully aware that in trying to free the rear gunner he was almost certain to lose his own life. Despite this, with outstanding courage and complete disregard for his own safety, he went to the rescue. Willingly accepting the danger, Pilot Officer Mynarski lost his life by a most conspicuous act of heroism which called for valour of the highest order.

[London Gazette issue 37754 dtd 11 Oct 1946, published 8 Oct 1946.]

Medal of Honor: J. W. Covington

JESSE WHITFIELD COVINGTON

Ship's Cook Third Class, US Navy; USS Stewart (DD 13)

Born: 16 September 1889, Haywood, Tennessee
Died: 21 November 1966, Virginia(?)

Citation: For extraordinary heroism following internal explosion of the Florence H [on 17 April 1918]. The sea in the vicinity of wreckage was covered by a mass of boxes of smokeless powder, which were repeatedly exploding. Jesse W. Covington, of the U.S.S. Stewart, plunged overboard to rescue a survivor who was surrounded by powder boxes and too exhausted to help himself, fully realizing that similar powder boxes in the vicinity were continually exploding and that he was thereby risking his life in saving the life of this man.

20 August 2010

Velociraptor zombies

For those of you who didn't have enough to worry about.....

19 August 2010

RIP: Bill Millin


Bill Millin (right, closest to camera) prepares to wade ashore in Normandy, 6 Jun 1944.


Bill Millin
14 July 1922 - 17 Aug 2010


ZUI this article from the New York Times:
Bill Millin, a Scottish bagpiper who played highland tunes as his fellow commandos landed on a Normandy beach on D-Day and lived to see his bravado immortalized in the 1962 film “The Longest Day,” died on Wednesday in a hospital in the western England county of Devon. He was 88.

Mr. Millin was a 21-year-old private in Britain’s First Special Service Brigade when his unit landed on the strip of coast the Allies code-named Sword Beach, near the French city of Caen at the eastern end of the invasion front chosen by the Allies for the landings on June 6, 1944.

*******

The young piper was approached shortly before the landings by the brigade’s commanding officer, Brig. Simon Fraser, who as the 15th Lord Lovat was the hereditary chief of the Clan Fraser and one of Scotland’s most celebrated aristocrats. Against orders from World War I that forbade playing bagpipes on the battlefield because of the high risk of attracting enemy fire, Lord Lovat, then 32, asked Private Millin to play on the beachhead to raise morale.

When Private Millin demurred, citing the regulations, he recalled later, Lord Lovat replied: “Ah, but that’s the English War Office. You and I are both Scottish, and that doesn’t apply.”

After wading ashore in waist-high water that he said caused his kilt to float, Private Millin reached the beach, then marched up and down, unarmed, playing the tunes Lord Lovat had requested, including “Highland Laddie” and “Road to the Isles.”

*******

After the war, he worked on Lord Lovat’s estate near Inverness, but found the life too quiet and took a job as a piper with a traveling theater company. In the late 1950s, he trained in Glasgow as a psychiatric nurse and eventually settled in Devon, retiring in 1988. He visited the United States several times, lecturing on his D-Day experiences.

In 1954 he married Margaret Mary Dowdel. A widower, he is survived by their son, John.
(Links in original.)

15 August 2010

Victoria Cross: R. C. Travis

RICHARD CHARLES TRAVIS, DCM MM

Serjeant, 2nd Battalion the Otago Infantry Regiment, New Zealand Forces

Born: 6 April 1884, Otara, Opotiki, Southland, New Zealand
Died: 25 July 1918, France

Citation: For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty.
During "surprise" operations [on 24 July 1918, at Rossignol Wood, north of Hebuterne, France,] it was necessary to destroy an impassable wire block. Sjt. Travis, regardless of all personal danger, volunteered for this duty. Before zero hour, in broad daylight, and in close proximity to enemy posts, he crawled out and successfully destroyed the block with bombs, thus enabling the attacking parties to pass through.
A few minutes later a bombing party on the right of the attack was held up by two enemy machine guns, and the success of the whole operation was in danger. Perceiving this, Sjt. Travis, with great gallantry and utter disregard of danger, rushed the position, killed the crew, and captured the guns. An enemy officer and three men immediately rushed at him from a bend in the trench and attempted to retake the guns. These four he killed single-handed, thus allowing the bombing party, on which much depended, to advance.
The success of the operation was almost entirely due to the heroic work of this gallant N.C.O., and to the vigour with which he made and used opportunities for inflicting casualties on the enemy.
He was killed twenty-four hours later, when, under a most intense bombardment prior to an enemy counter-attack, he was going from post to post, encouraging the men.

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

Medal of Honor: J. L. Day

JAMES LEWIS DAY

Corporal, US Marine Corps; 2nd Battalion, 22nd Marine Regiment, 6th Marine Division

Born: 5 October 1925, East St Louis, Illinois
Died: 18 October 1998, Cathedral City, California

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a squad leader serving with the Second Battalion, Twenty-Second Marines, Sixth Marine Division, in sustained combat operations against Japanese forces on Okinawa, Ryukya Islands from 14 to 17 May 1945. On the first day, Corporal Day rallied his squad and the remnants of another unit and led them to a critical position forward of the front lines of Sugar Loaf Hill. Soon thereafter, they came under an intense mortar and artillery barrage that was quickly followed by a ferocious ground attack by some forty Japanese soldiers. Despite the loss of one-half of his men, Corporal Day remained at the forefront, shouting encouragement, hurling hand grenades, and directing deadly fire, thereby repelling the determined enemy. Reinforced by six men, he led his squad in repelling three fierce night attacks but suffered five additional Marines killed and one wounded, whom he assisted to safety. Upon hearing nearby calls for corpsman assistance, Corporal Day braved heavy enemy fire to escort four seriously wounded Marines, one at a time, to safety. Corporal Day then manned a light machine gun, assisted by a wounded Marine, and halted another night attack. In the ferocious action, his machine gun was destroyed, and he suffered multiple white phosphorous and fragmentation wounds. He reorganized his defensive position in time to halt a fifth enemy attack with devastating small arms fire. On three separated occasions, Japanese soldiers closed to within a few feet of his foxhole, but were killed by Corporal Day. During the second day, the enemy conducted numerous unsuccessful swarming attacks against his exposed position. When the attacks momentarily subsided, over 70 enemy dead were counted around his position. On the third day, a wounded and exhausted Corporal Day repulsed the enemy's final attack, killing a dozen enemy soldiers at close range. Having yielded no ground and with more than 100 enemy dead around his position, Corporal Day preserved the lives of his fellow Marines and made a significant contribution to the success of the Okinawa campaign. By his extraordinary heroism, repeated acts of valor, and quintessential battlefield leadership, Corporal Day inspired the efforts of his outnumbered Marines to defeat a much larger enemy force, reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.


Note: Major General Day was presented with the Medal of Honor by President Clinton on 20 January 1998. The paperwork for the medal had been lost; it resurfaced in 1980 but then took 18 more years to work its way through the system.

13 August 2010

FY11 MCPO and SCPO selectees












Posting the CPO results reminded me that while I had seen this year's MCPO list, I hadn't commented on it, and I hadn't seen the new SCPO list. So....

The MCPO list is here. I see one name I recognise - a QM nav ET from Providence.

The SCPO list is here. I see two on this list - both A-gangers, both from Prov.

Belated congratulations to all selectees!

FY11 CPO selectees

The list is out.

I recognised four names this time, an SK LS from Jax, and a mechanic and two sonar girls from Prov. My congratulations to them, and to all the other selectees.

11 August 2010

Living Medal of Honor recipients


In yesterday's post about David Dolby, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society (CMOHS) was quoted as saying that there are now 87 surviving MoH recipients. The complete list, with links to individual pages, can be found at the CMOHS site here; below is a simplified list.

World War II

Van T Barfoot, Second Lieutenant, US Army
Melvin E Biddle, Private First Class, US Army
Mike Colalillo, Private First Class, US Army
Charles H Coolidge, Technical Sergeant, US Army
Francis S Currey, Sergeant, US Army
Walter D Ehlers, Staff Sergeant, US Army
Barney F Hajiro, Private, US Army
John D Hawk, Sergeant, US Army
Daniel K Inouye, Second Lieutenant, US Army
Arthur J Jackson, Private First Class, US Marine Corps
Robert D Maxwell, Technician Fifth Grade, US Army
Vernon McGarity, Technical Sergeant, US Army
Charles P Murray Jr, First Lieutenant, US Army
Nicholas Oresko, Master Sergeant, US Army
Wilburn K Ross, Private, US Army
George T Sakato, Private, US Army
Paul J Wiedorfer, Staff Sergeant, US Army
Hershel W Williams, Corporal, US Marine Corps

Korean War

Hector A Cafferata Jr, Private, US Marine Corps
William R Charette, Hospital Corpsman Third Class, US Navy
Duane E Dewey, Corporal, US Marine Corps
Rodolfo P Hernandez, Corporal, US Army
Thomas J Hudner Jr, Lieutenant, US Navy
Einar H Ingman Jr, Sergeant, US Army
Hiroshi H Miyamura, Corporal, US Army
Ola L Mize, Master Sergeant, US Army
Ronald E Rosser, Corporal, US Army
Tibor Rubin, Corporal, US Army
Robert E Simanek, Private First Class, US Marine Corps
James L Stone, First Lieutenant, US Army
Ernest E West, Private First Class, US Army

Vietnam War

John P Baca, Specialist Fourth Class, US Army
John F Baker Jr, Sergeant, US Army
Donald E Ballard, Hospital Corpsman Second Class, US Navy
Harvey C Barnum Jr, Captain, US Marine Corps
Gary B Beikirch, Sergeant, US Army
Patrick H Brady, Major, US Army
Paul W Bucha, Captain, US Army
Jon R Cavaiani, Staff Sergeant, US Army
Bruce P Crandall, Major, US Army
Sammy L Davis, Sergeant, US Army
George E Day, Colonel, US Air Force
Drew D Dix, Staff Sergeant, US Army
Roger H C Donlon, Captain, US Army
Frederick E Ferguson, Chief Warrant Officer, US Army
Bernard F Fisher, Major, US Air Force
Michael J Fitzmaurice, Specialist Fourth Class, US Army
James P Fleming, Captain, US Air Force
Robert F Foley, Captain, US Army
Wesley L Fox, Captain, US Marine Corps
Harold A Fritz, Captain, US Army
Charles C Hagemeister, Specialist Fifth Class, US Army
Frank A Herda, Specialist Fourth Class, US Army
Robert R Ingram, Hospital Corpsman Third Class, US Navy
Joe M Jackson, Lieutenant Colonel, US Air Force
Jack H Jacobs, Captain, US Army
Don J Jenkins, Staff Sergeant, US Army
Thomas G Kelley, Lieutenant Commander, US Navy
Allan J Kellogg Jr, Gunnery Sergeant, US Marine Corps
Joseph R Kerrey, Lieutenant (Junior Grade), US Navy
Thomas J Kinsman, Specialist Fourth Class, US Army
Howard V Lee, Major, US Marine Corps
Peter C Lemon, Sergeant, US Army
Angelo J Liteky, Captain, US Army
Gary L Littrell, Sergeant First Class, US Army
James E Livingston, Captain, US Marine Corps
Allen J Lynch, Sergeant, US Army
Walter J Marm Jr, First Lieutenant, US Army
John J McGinty III, Second Lieutenant, US Marine Corps
David H McNerney, First Sergeant, US Army
Robert J Modrzejewski, Major, US Marine Corps
Thomas R Norris, Lieutenant, US Navy
Robert E O'Malley, Sergeant, US Marine Corps
Robert M Patterson, Sergeant, US Army
Richard A Pittman, Sergeant, US Marine Corps
Alfred V Rascon, Specialist Fourth Class, US Army
Ronald E Ray, Captain, US Army
Gordon R Roberts, Sergeant, US Army
Clarence E Sasser, Specialist Fifth Class, US Army
James M Sprayberry, Captain, US Army
Kenneth E Stumpf, Specialist Fourth Class, US Army
James A Taylor, Captain, US Army
Brian M Thacker, First Lieutenant, US Army
Michael E Thornton, Engineman Second Class, US Navy
Leo K Thorsness, Lieutenant, US Air Force
Jay R Vargas, Major, US Marine Corps
Gary G Wetzel, Specialist Fourth Class, US Army

That breaks down to:
18 World War II (16 Army, 2 Marine Corps)
13 Korean War (8 Army, 2 Navy and 3 Marine Corps)
56 Vietnam War (35 Army, 6 Navy, 10 Marine Corps and 5 Air Force)

(All MoH awards since the end of the Vietnam War have been posthumous.)
59 Army
8 Navy
15 Marine Corps
5 Air Force

(The only Coast Guardsman ever to be awarded the Medal, Signalman First Class Douglas A Munro, received it posthumously after his death at Guadalcanal in 1942.)

10 August 2010

RIP: David Dolby

David Charles Dolby
14 May 1946 – 6 August 2010


ZUI this article from the Chester County (PA) Daily Local News:
David C. Dolby, a Medal of Honor recipient and a fixture at local veteran events in recent years, died Friday morning in Spirit Lake, Idaho. He was 64.

Dolby, who lived in Royersford, was in Idaho for a veterans' gathering, according to friends.

The announcement of his death was made by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. The cause was not announced.

*******

A Norristown native, Dolby was in a platoon of the 1st Cavalry Division during an attack as six of its members were killed instantly and others were wounded. In four hours of combat, he retrieved wounded men, stopped the enemy attack, reorganized his platoon and kept them covered during a counterattack. He was credited with saving the lives of many of his fellow soldiers while leaving himself continually in an exposed position, contributing to the overall success of the Army assault.

In all, Dolby served five tours in Vietnam.

*******

The Medal of Honor Society said there are 87 surviving Medal of Honor recipients.

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

DAVID CHARLES DOLBY

Sergeant (then Specialist 4th Class), US Army; Company B, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 8th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile)

Born: 14 May 1946, Norristown, Pennsylvania
Died: 6 August 2010, Spirit Lake, Idaho

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty [on 21 May 1966, in the Republic of Vietnam], when his platoon, while advancing tactically, suddenly came under intense fire from the enemy located on a ridge immediately to the front. Six members of the platoon were killed instantly and a number were wounded, including the platoon leader. Sgt. Dolby's every move brought fire from the enemy. However, aware that the platoon leader was critically wounded, and that the platoon was in a precarious situation, Sgt. Dolby moved the wounded men to safety and deployed the remainder of the platoon to engage the enemy. Subsequently, his dying platoon leader ordered Sgt. Dolby to withdraw the forward elements to rejoin the platoon. Despite the continuing intense enemy fire and with utter disregard for his own safety, Sgt. Dolby positioned able-bodied men to cover the withdrawal of the forward elements, assisted the wounded to the new position, and he, alone, attacked enemy positions until his ammunition was expended. Replenishing his ammunition, he returned to the area of most intense action, single-handedly killed 3 enemy machine gunners and neutralized the enemy fire, thus enabling friendly elements on the flank to advance on the enemy redoubt. He defied the enemy fire to personally carry a seriously wounded soldier to safety where he could be treated and, returning to the forward area, he crawled through withering fire to within 50 meters of the enemy bunkers and threw smoke grenades to mark them for air strikes. Although repeatedly under fire at close range from enemy snipers and automatic weapons, Sgt. Dolby directed artillery fire on the enemy and succeeded in silencing several enemy weapons. He remained in his exposed location until his comrades had displaced to more secure positions. His actions of unsurpassed valor during 4 hours of intense combat were a source of inspiration to his entire company, contributed significantly to the success of the overall assault on the enemy position, and were directly responsible for saving the lives of a number of his fellow soldiers. Sgt. Dolby's heroism was in the highest tradition of the U.S. Army.

Bamboo People (Mitali Perkins)

Burma (officially, since 1989, the Union of Myanmar) is in southeast Asia, between India and Thailand. It was an independent kingdom for several hundred years, but after a series of three wars with Britain, the Konbaung dynasty fell and Burma was annexed into the British Empire in 1885. The country was occupied by the Japanese from 1942 until 1945 (one of their accomplishments being the construction of a railroad from Bangkok, Thailand, to the Burmese capital at Rangoon), after which the country reverted to British rule.

Independence was granted in 1948. In 1962, General Ne Win - former Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces and interim Prime Minister - led a successful coup. The military has retained control of Burma since then, ignoring the results of elections and viciously suppressing protests. The junta which seized power in 1988 has been accused of many human-rights violations, including murder, brutal military offensives against ethnic minorities (such as the Karen), forced labour, and the use of child soldiers.

Chiko is a 15-year-old Burmese boy, living alone with his mother in Yangon (the former Rangoon) since his father was arrested for treason four months ago. The father was a doctor, and Chiko learned much from him, including reading and writing (both Burmese and English). Since the arrest there has been no money coming in, and Chiko's mother has been selling off household goods in order to buy food. Chiko wants to become a teacher, and when he spots an ad in the paper he talks his mother into letting him apply for the job and take the examination. It turns out to be a trap, though; boys who have shown up for the exam are grabbed by soldiers and forced into the Army. Their training camp is a former Karenni school near the Thai border.

Tu Reh is a 16-year-old Karenni boy. After his village was burned by Burmese soldiers, he fled with his parents and sister to a refugee camp just across the border in Thailand. Since then, he and his best friend, Sa Reh, have been looking forward to getting revenge. Now, for the first time, he is accompanying his father and other men from the camp on a mission to deliver medical supplies and food to Karenni hiding in the jungle. They are unarmed, but he is at least accomplishing something.

And now, somewhere out in the jungle, Chiko and Tu Reh are about to meet....

The good: First-person present-tense narratives normally annoy me, but after the first couple of pages I didn't even notice that the book was written this way (with the first section narrated by Chiko and the second by Tu Reh).

I really hadn't read much about Burma (other than in books about World War II) before this book came along, and I'm sure most American readers will know less than I did. Perkins manages to provide background information without resorting to info dumps such as my first two paragraphs above; details are worked in as the story progresses.
I lift the cover off the plate and see ngapi, the dried and fermented shrimp paste we eat with every meal; rice; and a few chunks of chicken floating in a pale, weak curry. [Chiko, p 8]

*******

Sidewalk vendors are beginning to set up wares for the afternoon. The rickshaw veers to avoid children playing in the streets. These little ones should be inschool, but they don't have a choice. Schools have been closed so many times that nobody can learn much. [Chiko, p 25]

*******

"Home" in the camp is a bamboo hut on stilts. Looks a bit like our house in the village, but it's much smaller. ... I put my bamboo pole where it belongs, against the wall near my sleeping mat. Afternoon sunshine filters through the walls. Sand is piled in one corner of the room, and a pot of rice steams there on a small fire. [Tu Reh, p 195]

I read Perkins's previous book, Secret Keeper, last year, and was left wondering how, should UFOs ever land and disgorge their crews, we could possibly understand them; the people in Secret Keeper are every bit as human as I am, but I couldn't understand the way their minds worked at all - the cultural differences were just too great. Maybe it's just a guy thing, but I didn't have that problem at all with Bamboo People; the themes of war, hate and revenge were much simpler.

A couple of back-of-the-book notes give background on Burma and its history, and on the author's interest therein.

The bad: The Burmese and Karenni names are a little confusing, especially the latter. For instance, all of the male Karenni are named Reh (Tu Reh, Sa Reh, Bu Reh) and all of the females are named Meh (Oo Meh, Ree Meh, Nya Meh). Since Oo Meh is Tu Reh's sister, and Oo Reh is their father, I'm assuming that "Meh" and "Reh" are actually sex* markers, not names; in fact, I'm going to slide a little farther out on my limb here and guess that they actually mean "daughter" and "son." It really would have been nice to have another note, concerning names, at the back of the book.

And I'm sorry, but "Chiko" is just too much like "Chico" - I kept snickering as I pictured a Mexican boy lost in the Burmese jungles....


Bamboo People: A Novel, by Mitali Perkins. Charlesbridge, 2010. Young adult. Available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, of course - though buying through IndieBound or from your local independent bookseller is highly recommended!

Other reviews can be found here (A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy) and here (Semicolon). Perkins's blog (Mitali's Fire Escape) can be found here, and she has a page about Bamboo People here.


* People have sexes; genders are for nouns.

08 August 2010

Victoria Cross: J. A. Liddell

JOHN AIDAN LIDDELL

Captain, 3d Battalion Princess Louise's (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders); Royal Flying Corps

Born: 3 August 1888, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland
Died: 31 August 1915, La Panne, Belgium

Citation: For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty [in Belgium] on 31st July, 1915.
When on a flying reconnaissance over Ostend-Bruges-Ghent he was severely wounded (his right thigh being broken), which caused momentary unconsciousness, but by a great effort he recovered partial control after his machine had dropped nearly 3,000 feet, and notwithstanding his collapsed state succeeded, although continuously fired at, in completing his course, and brought the aeroplane into our lines - half an hour after he had been wounded.
The difficulties experienced by this Officer in saving his machine, and the life of his observer, cannot be readily expressed, but as the control wheel and throttle control were smashed, and also one of the undercarriage struts, it would seem incredible that he could have accomplished his task.

(London Gazette issue 29272 dtd 23 Aug 1915, published 20 Aug 1915.)


Note: Liddell's death was due to wounds received during this action. Although it is not mentioned in the VC citation, he had been awarded the Military Cross earlier in 1915 for his services as commander of an Argyll and Sutherlands machine gun section.

Medal of Honor: M. E. Crain

MORRIS E CRAIN

Technical Sergeant, US Army; Company E, 141st Infantry, 36th Infantry Division

Born: 7 October 1924, Bandana, Kentucky
Died: 13 March 1945, Haguenau, France

Citation: He led his platoon against powerful German forces during the struggle to enlarge the bridgehead across the Moder River [at Haguenau, France, on 13 March 1945]. With great daring and aggressiveness he spearheaded the platoon in killing 10 enemy soldiers, capturing 12 more and securing its objective near an important road junction. Although heavy concentrations of artillery, mortar, and self-propelled gunfire raked the area, he moved about among his men during the day, exhorting them to great efforts and encouraging them to stand firm. He carried ammunition and maintained contact with the company command post, exposing himself to deadly enemy fire. At nightfall the enemy barrage became more intense and tanks entered the fray to cover foot troops while they bombarded our positions with grenades and rockets. As buildings were blasted by the Germans, the Americans fell back from house to house. T/Sgt. Crain deployed another platoon which had been sent to his support and then rushed through murderous tank and small-arms fire to the foremost house, which was being defended by 5 of his men. With the enemy attacking from an adjoining room and a tank firing pointblank at the house, he ordered the men to withdraw while he remained in the face of almost certain death to hold the position. Although shells were crashing through the walls and bullets were hitting all around him, he held his ground and with accurate fire from his submachinegun killed 3 Germans. He was killed when the building was destroyed by the enemy. T/Sgt. Crain's outstanding valor and intrepid leadership enabled his platoon to organize a new defense, repel the attack and preserve the hard-won bridgehead.


Note: USAT Sgt Morris E Crain (later USNS Sgt Morris E Crain T-AK 244) was named in his honour.

01 August 2010

Book list - Jul 10

The Great Explosion - SF, by Eric Frank Russell
A Sporting Chance: Unusual Methods of Hunting - hunting, by Daniel P Mannix *
Enchanted Glass - YA modern fantasy, by Diana Wynne Jones
Tell Me a Secret - YA, by Holly Cupala
The Face on the Milk Carton - YA, by Caroline B Cooney
A Tale of Time City - YA time travel, by Diana Wynne Jones


Only six books last month, with one reread (marked by an asterisk). To reach my goal of 210 books this year, I have to average 17.5 per month, so I've now fallen behind, but I'll catch up. I did also read parts of a few other books, but found some of the stories therein to be boring enough that I didn't finish the books:
The First Heroes: New Tales of the Bronze Age - historical fiction (short stories), edited by Noreen Mary Doyle
Dreamwish Beasts and Snarks - SF (short stories), by Michael D Resnick
Isaac Asimov's Near Futures and Far - SF (short stories), edited by George Scithers

No Carnegie Medal winners last month, so I'm still at 39 of 71.

Victoria Cross: Bradbury, Dorrell and Nelson

EDWARD KINDER BRADBURY

Captain, L Battery Royal Horse Artillery

Born: 16 August 1881, Altringham, Cheshire
Died: 1 September 1914, NĂ©ry, France

Citation: For gallantry and ability in organising the defence of "L" Battery against heavy odds at Nery on 1st September [1914].

[London Gazette issue 28985 dtd 25 Nov 1914, published 24 Nov 1914.]














GEORGE THOMAS DORRELL

Battery Sergeant Major (later Second Lieutenant), L Battery Royal Horse Artillery

Born: 7 July 1880, Paddington, West London
Died: 7 January 1971, Cobham, Surrey

Citation: For continuing to serve a gun until all the ammunition was expended after all officers were killed or wounded, in spite of a concentrated fire from guns and machine guns at a range of 600 yards, at Nery, on 1st September [1914].

[London Gazette issue 28976 dtd 16 Nov 1914, published 13 Nov 1914.]










DAVID NELSON

Sergeant (later Second Lieutenant), L Battery Royal Horse Artillery

Born: 3 April 1886, Deraghland, County Monaghan, Ireland
Died: 8 April 1918, Lillers, France

Citation: Helping to bring the guns into action under heavy fire at Nery on 1st September [1914], and while severely wounded remaining with them until all the ammunition was expended - although he had been ordered to retire to cover.

[London Gazette issue 28976 dtd 16 Nov 1914, published 13 Nov 1914.]


Note: The citations for Dorrell and Nelson, as well as several others, were also Gazetted in issue 28977, dated and published 17 Nov 1914.

Medal of Honor: J. H. Balch

JOHN HENRY BALCH

Pharmacist's Mate First Class, US Navy; 6th Regiment, US Marine Corps

Born: 2 January 1896, Edgerton, Kansas
Died: 15 October 1980, California(?)

Citation: For gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, with the 6th Regiment, U.S. Marines, in action at Vierzy, on 19 July 1918. Balch unhesitatingly and fearlessly exposed himself to terrific machinegun and high-explosive fire to succor the wounded as they fell in the attack, leaving his dressing station voluntarily and keeping up the work all day and late into the night unceasingly for 16 hours. Also in the action at Somme-Py on 5 October 1918, he exhibited exceptional bravery in establishing an advanced dressing station under heavy shellfire.