01 October 2014

Book list - Jul-Sep 14

1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies - AH, by Eric Flint and Charles E Gannon
Mairelon the Magician - historical fantasy, by Patricia C Wrede *
Magician's Ward - historical fantasy, by Patricia C Wrede *
Skin Game - urban fantasy, by Jim Butcher
MASH - Korean War fiction, by Richard Hooker
The Good, the Bad, and the Emus - mystery, by Donna Andrews

Only six books this time round, two of them rereads (marked by asterisks). And I'm still at 58 of 75 on the Carnegie Medal winners.

28 August 2014

Medal of Honor to be awarded for Civil War and Vietnam

ZUI this White House press release dated 26 Aug 14:
On September 15, 2014, President Barack Obama will award the Medal of Honor to Army Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins and to Army Specialist Four Donald P. Sloat for conspicuous gallantry.

Command Sergeant Major Adkins will receive the Medal of Honor for his actions while serving as an Intelligence Sergeant assigned to Detachment A-102, 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces. Then-Sergeant First Class Adkins distinguished himself during combat operations at Camp A Shau, Republic of Vietnam, on March 9 through March 12, 1966.

Specialist Four Donald P. Sloat will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions while serving as a Machine gunner with Company D, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 196th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division. Specialist Four Sloat distinguished himself during combat operations in the vicinity of Hawk Hill Fire Base, Republic of Vietnam, on January 17, 1970.

President Obama also approved the awarding of the Medal of Honor to Army First Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing for gallantry in action at the battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. Additional details on the award to First Lieutenant Cushing will be announced separately.

First Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions while serving as commanding officer of Battery A, 4th United States Artillery, Artillery Brigade, 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac. Cushing distinguished himself during combat operations against an armed enemy in the vicinity of Cemetery Ridge, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on July 3, 1863.

05 August 2014


25 Dec 06.

A month or so before my daughter's first birthday, we put her in her stroller and took her for a walk down by the river, not far from where we lived at the time.  A few blocks into our walk we met a cat and stopped to say hello to it.  It was a young cat, very friendly, and when we walked away it started following us.  Every now and then it would head up the front walk of a house we were passing, but then it would turn around and hurry to catch up with us.

There was a small embankment between us and the houses along that street, so every one of them had a few steps in its front walk.  The embankment didn't run straight - it meandered a bit, so at some houses those steps were right out at the end of the walk, where it joined the sidewalk along the street, while at others they were set back, closer to the house.  And it didn't take us long to notice that whenever the cat stopped to investigate a house, it was always one where those steps in the front walk were right out next to the sidewalk.  So we figured the cat was lost, and while it didn't know where Home was, it knew what Home ought to look like.

It had been following us for several blocks when a woman out working in her garden as we passed commented on what a pretty cat we had.  We explained that it was a stray that had attached itself to us, and she offfered to loan us a cat carrier so the poor cat wouldn't have to walk all the way to our house, which was still a few blocks away.  We accepted and carried it the rest of the way home.

The next morning we printed up some "FOUND CAT" signs and set out to post them in the area where we'd found the cat.  Just after we finished attaching the first sign to a telephone pole two teen-aged girls came up and stopped to see what we were doing.  After reading our poster one of the girls said, "Oh, that's Megan's cat!"  My wife recognised Megan's name - she was a young lady who had been murdered a week or so earlier by her estranged husband - and remembered her address, so we walked over to have a look at her house.  It was a block or two from where we'd first met the cat, and sure enough, it had steps at the end of its front walk, right out at the sidewalk.

So we went back home and discussed the cat.  She was a grey tabby, similar to one we'd lost the year before, very friendly, and she seemed to get on well with our other two cats, so we decided to keep her.  According to the vet we took her to she was around a year old, or perhaps a bit more - a month or few older than our daughter.  We picked the name Seshet* from a list of Egyptian goddesses, and she settled right in.

26 Nov 09

A year later we transferred from Norfolk to Groton.  We were only allowed two cats in Navy housing, and we still had two of the three my wife had had before we were married, so Seshet went to live with my in-laws, in the next town over.  The other two cats died over the course of the next few years, but by then Seshet had become used to being an indoor/outdoor cat, which wasn't permitted in housing, so she stayed on at my in-laws' place, even after I retired and we moved out of housing.  She's still officially our cat, though, not theirs.


It's now a few weeks shy of eighteen years since that walk with our daughter and a poor, lost cat.  Seshet has gone deaf, and arthritis has set in; she can still jump up onto the porch railing, but she can't sit properly - she squats, with her butt still an inch or so off the ground - and she's no longer flexible enough to clean herself properly.  Recently she's begun losing bladder control, and forgets to use the litter box.  So it's been decided that tomorrow she'll make her final visit to the vet....

We'll miss her.

5 Aug 14

* Wikipedia prefers the spelling "Seshat."

150 years ago: Mobile Bay

On 5 August 1864 a US fleet commanded by Rear Admiral David G Farragut, supported by 1500 soldiers under General Gordon Granger, attacked the defences at Mobile, Alabama, the last major Gulf port east of the Mississippi still under Confederate control. Farragut's flagship was the screw sloop USS Hartford; other ships present were screw sloops USS Brooklyn, Monongahela, Oneida, Ossipee, Richmond, and Seminole; screw sloop-of-war USS Lackawanna; gunboats USS Galena, Itasca, Kennebec, Metacomet, Octorara, and Port Royal; ironclad monitors USS Manhattan and Tecumseh; and ironclad river monitors USS Chickasaw and Winnebago.

Tecumseh sank after hitting a mine - in those days called a torpedo - on the way into Mobile Bay.  Brooklyn, leading Farragut's main column (because she had more forward-firing guns than the other sloops), slowed to ask for instructions, causing Farragut to order Hartford to take the lead with the famous if apocryphal "Damn the torpedoes!" Hartford and the other ships passed successfully through the minefield that had claimed Tecumseh.

The defending forces included the ironclad ram CSS Tennessee and side-wheel gunboats CSS Gaines, Morgan and Selma, under Admiral Franklin Buchanan. Farragut's gunboats made short work of the side-wheelers, capturing Selma, seriously damaging Gaines (which was beached and burned by her crew), and forcing Morgan to take cover under the guns of nearby Fort Morgan. Tennessee took more work, but was eventually battered into submission and surrendered. Farragut's ships then provided fire support for Granger's attacks on the three forts - Powell, Gaines, and Morgan - protecting the harbour. Fort Powell was abandoned that day; Fort Gaines surrendered on 8 August, and Fort Morgan on 23 August. (The captured CSS Tennessee was repaired, commissioned into the US Navy as USS Tennessee, and sent to join in the final attack on Fort Morgan.)

96 men (88 sailors, seven Marines and one civilian pilot) were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions on 5 August.

USS Brooklyn (23): Ship's Cook William Blagheen, Captain of the Forecastle John Brown, Landsman William H Brown, Coxswain John L M Cooper, Ordinary Seaman Samuel W Davis, Sergeant J Henry Denig, Boatswain's Mate Richard Dennis, Coxswain William Halstead, Sergeant Michael Hudson, Seaman Joseph Irlam, Coxswain John Irving, Seaman Nicholas Irwin, Quartermaster Barnett Kenna, Boy James Machon, Captain of the Top Alexander Mack, Coal Heaver William Madden, Engineer's Cook James Mifflin, Quartermaster William Nichols, Corporal Miles M Oviatt, Coxswain Edward Price, Corporal Willard M Smith, Coal Heaver James E Sterling, Quartermaster Samuel Todd

USS Chickasaw (2): Chief Boatswain's Mate Andrew Jones, Master at Arms James Seanor

USS Galena (4): Seaman William Gardner, Quartermaster Thomas Jordan, Quartermaster Edward S Martin, Coxswain Edward B Young

USS Hartford (12): Landsman Wilson Brown, Ordinary Seaman Bartholomew Diggins, Coal Heaver Richard D Dunphy, Coxswain Thomas Fitzpatrick, civilian pilot Martin Freeman, Coal Heaver James R Garrison, Landsman John Lawson, Captain of the Forecastle John C McFarland, Ordinary Seaman Charles Melville, Coal Heaver Thomas O'Connell, Landsman William Pelham, Shell Man William A Stanley

USS Lackawanna (11): Seaman John M Burns, Landsman Michael Cassidy, Landsman Patrick Dougherty, Captain of the Top John Edwards, Landsman Samuel W Kinnaird, Seaman Adam McCullock, Boatswain's Mate William Phinney, Captain of the Forecastle John Smith, Armorer George Taylor, Quarter Gunner James Ward, Quartermaster Daniel Whitfield

USS Metacomet (8): Seaman James Avery, Quarter Gunner Charles Baker, Ordinary Seaman John Donnelly, Captain of the Forecastle John Harris, Seaman Henry Johnson, Boatswain's Mate Patrick Murphy, Landsman Daniel Noble, Coxswain Thomas Taylor,

USS Oneida (8): Quartermaster John E Jones, Coxswain Thomas Kendrick, Landsman David Naylor, Ordinary Seaman William D Newland, Landsman John Preston, Sergeant James S Roantree, Quartermaster James Sheridan, Seaman Charles B Woram

USS Richmond (28): Yeoman Thomas E Atkinson, Quartermaster John Brazell, Captain of the Top Robert Brown, Master-at-Arms William M Carr, Coxswain James B Chandler, Quartermaster Thomas Cripps, Chief Quartermaster Cornelius Cronin, Boatswain's Mate Charles Deakin, Chief Boatswain's Mate William Densmore, Coal Heaver William Doolen, Boatswain's Mate Adam Duncan, Coxswain Hugh Hamilton, Coxswain Thomas Hayes, Captain of the Top John H James, Captain of the Top William Jones, Captain of the Top James McIntosh, Sergeant Andrew Miller, Captain of the Top James H Morgan, Captain of the Forecastle George Parks, Seaman Hendrick Sharp, Coxswain Lebbeus Simkins, Captain of the Forecastle James Smith, Second Captain of the Top John Smith, Coxswain Oloff Smith, Ordinary Seaman Walter B Smith, Orderly Sergeant David Sprowle, Coxswain Alexander H Truett, Quartermaster William Wells

01 July 2014

Book list - Apr-Jun 14

The Mysterious Island - adventure, by Jules Verne *
The Grand Tour - historical fantasy, by Patricia C Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
Mammoth - time travel, by John Varley
Sober Men and True: Sailor Lives in the Royal Navy 1900-1945 - naval history, by Christopher McKee

Only four books this time round, one of them a reread. And I'm still at 58 of 75 on the Carnegie Medal winners.

Travelin' Tuesday: Guam

The Talofofo Falls are on the Talofofo River (which flows into Talofofo Bay - I detect a pattern here), in the southeastern part of Guam.  I'd heard of them long before I ever went to Guam (probably from George Tweed's Robinson Crusoe, USN), and they were one of the first places I wanted to visit there.  A bit of a drive, as I recall, but it was well worth it.

Photo taken November or December 1988.

24 June 2014

Travelin' Tuesday: Massachusetts

On 5 Oct 1818 the Essex Agricultural Society held a cattle show in Topsfield, Massachusetts. What grew into the Topsfield Fair has been held every year since then, except for three years during the Civil War and three years during World War II.

It's similar to most agricultural fairs in the US - county, state and otherwise - with exhibitions and competitions for animals, produce and farm crafts (such as canning, baking and quilting), and of course a midway. The All New England Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off has been held at the fair since 1984, when the winning entry weighed 433 pounds; the current record was set in 2012 by a 2009-lb monster.

Pictures taken 8 Oct 05 (middle) and 7 Oct 06 (top and bottom).

17 June 2014

Travelin' Tuesday: Thailand

Pattaya, on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand, is a popular tourist city. One thing that struck me was the number of German restaurants there.  (They even had a newspaper printed in German.) The blue pickups with benches in the back are songthaews; commonly known as "baht buses," they're the Thai equivalent of Filipino jeepneys.

Picture taken 24 Jul 88.

10 June 2014

Travelin' Tuesday: Slovenia

Slovenia is the northwesternmost piece of what used to be Yugoslavia. Piran is a lovely little town (pop 4092 in 2012) at the western tip of the Slovenian coast; that's the Gulf of Trieste in the background, and Venice, on the other side of the Adriatic Sea, is somewhere over the horizon near the left edge of the picture.  Most of the wall built across the base of the peninsula in the late 15th and early 16th centuries is still there; this is the view from the top of it. Visible near the centre of the photo is Tartini Square, with its statue of violinist and composer Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770), who was born in Piran. The large building on the right side of the town is the Church of St George, completed in 1637.

Picture taken 2 Jun 03.

03 June 2014

Travelin' Tuesday: Portugal

The Royal Monastery of Saint Mary of Bethlehem (commonly known as the Jerónimos Monastery), in Lisbon, was built in the 16th century. Originally a home for the Order of Saint Jerome, it is also the site of the tombs of various members of the Portuguese royal family, the explorer Vasco da Gama, and others. The Naval Museum is also located on its grounds.

Picture taken 12 Jun 91.

27 May 2014

Travelin' Tuesday: Italy

Before World War I, Trieste was the fourth-largest city in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After the war it, like the South Tyrol and other pieces of the former empire, was taken over by Italy in accordance with the Treaty of London. The city was part of the Free Territory of Trieste, under direct control of the United Nations, from 1947 until it was returned to Italy in 1954. Long before these events, the city - then called Tergeste - was part of the Roman Empire. The forensic basilica was built in the 2nd century CE; its ruins are located on San Giusto Hill next to the 14th-century Cathedral of San Giusto (St Justus) and San Giusto Castle.

Picture taken 19 Jun 03.

23 May 2014

Medal of Honor to be awarded for Afghanistan

ZUI this article from the New York Post:
His name is William “Kyle” Carpenter. He’s a corporal who was medically retired for wounds suffered when he used his body to shield a fellow Marine from a Taliban grenade.

Some 30 surgeries after he was written off for dead, he will next month become the 15th member of an elite company of men: those who have been awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

20 May 2014

Travelin' Tuesday: Shenandoah

The Shenandoah Valley, part of the Great Appalachian Valley, runs between the Blue Ridge Mountains to its east and the Ridge-and-Valley Mountains to the west.  Stonewall Jackson, the only Confederate general to have a submarine named after him, led the Yankees a merry chase up and down the valley a couple of times in 1862; Jubal Early was much less successful two years later.  Shenandoah National Park, established in 1935 as the 18th US national park (and only the second one east of the Mississippi), is in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Here you see the view looking west across the valley from a spot near the northern end of the Park.

Picture taken 17 Aug 08.

13 May 2014

Travelin' Tuesday: Gibraltar

The so-called Barbary ape (Macaca sylvanus) is actually a monkey - a tailless macaque.  They're the only macaque that occurs outside Asia; most live in North Africa, from Morocco to Libya, but a couple hundred live in Gibraltar - the only primates other than humans native to Europe.  Legend has it that if they disappear from Gibraltar, the British will lose control of the colony.  They therefore receive good care; the British Army's Royal Gibraltar Regiment was responsible for them until 1991, when they turned the apes over to the government of Gibraltar.

Picture taken 25 Jul 03.

06 May 2014

Travelin' Tuesday: France

This mural is on the outside of a building on the Rue Chevalier-Paul, in Toulon; the building's front faces straight down Place Gambetta.  The current picture in Google Maps street view, dated July 2012, shows that what was the Bar Le San Francisco is now La Balagne, but the mural is still there.  (It's continued down on the ground floor, by the way, beneath the - um - lady in the blue dress.)

Picture taken 4 Aug 98.

29 April 2014

Travelin' Tuesday: Bahrain

I found these boats moored near the Bahrain National Museum, in Manama, the capital of Bahrain - I can't identify the exact spot on the map, but there's been plenty of time for new construction in the area.

Picture taken April 1998.

22 April 2014

Travelin' Tuesday: Dubai

The Ruler's Court is located on the left bank of Dubai Creek, in the Al Bastakiya historic area in Bur Dubai.  The Grand Mosque and Al Fahidi Fort, the oldest existing building in Dubai, are also located in Al Bastakiya, which is one of the oldest residential areas in Dubai.

Picture taken July 1998.

20 April 2014

Medal of Honor to be awarded for Afghanistan

ZUI this article from CNN:
An Army veteran credited with trying to save the lives of fellow soldiers during a firefight in Afghanistan will be awarded the nation's highest military award, the White House said on Tuesday.

President Barack Obama will bestow the Medal of Honor on May 13 to former Sgt. Kyle White for heroics stemming from the 2007 battle during which his only cover from enemy fire was a single tree jutting from a mountain cliff.

Six Americans were killed and several others in the group, including White, were wounded in the four-hour attack.


White was a platoon radio telephone operator and among 14 American troops and Afghan soldiers ambushed while on patrol on November 8, 2007, in eastern Afghanistan.

15 April 2014

Travelin' Tuesday: Hawaii

Marine Corps Base Hawaii is located near Kāneʻohe and Kailua, on the windward side of Oʻahu. In 1941 it was Naval Air Station Kaneohe; Chief Aviation Ordnanceman John Finn was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions there during the Japanese attack.

Picture taken 17 May 87.

08 April 2014

Travelin' Tuesday: Crete

Khania (or Chania), on the north shore near the western end of Crete, is the second-largest city on the island.  It was ruled by Venice from 1252 to 1645 (less a couple of decades in the 16th century when it was under Genovese control), and there are several Venetian buildings still standing.  The lighthouse was built by the Venetians at the end of the 16th century, and took its final form in the 1830s.

Picture taken 28 Jun 03.

01 April 2014

Book list - Jan-Mar 14

Figure Away - mystery, by Phoebe Atwood Taylor
Old Bones - mystery, by Aaron Elkins *
Spring Harrowing - mystery, by Phoebe Atwood Taylor *
The Danish Scheme - AH, by Herb Sakalaucks
Make No Bones - mystery, by Aaron Elkins *
The Crimson Patch - mystery, by Phoebe Atwood Taylor
1636: Seas of Fortune - AH (short stories), by Iver Cooper
Icy Clutches - mystery, by Aaron Elkins *
The Old Powder Line - children's time travel, by Richard Parker
Locomotive - children's railroading, by Brian Floca (Caldecott Medal, 2014)
Curses! - mystery, by Aaron Elkins *
New Amsterdam - AH/fantasy, by Elizabeth Bear
Twenty Blue Devils - mystery, by Aaron Elkins
Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures - children's, by Kate DiCamillo (Newbery Medal, 2014)
The White City - AH/fantasy, by Elizabeth Bear
Night of the Living Deed - mystery, by E J Copperman
The Martian - SF, by Andy Weir (ARC)

Only 17 books this time round, five of them rereads (marked by asterisks). And I'm still at 58 of 74 on the Carnegie Medal winners - really ought to get back to them.

The Martian was one of the ARCs my wife and her mother brought back from the ALA midwinter convention in Philadelphia. Outstanding book - highly recommended.

Travelin' Tuesday: St Croix

The US Virgin Islands were purchased from Denmark in 1916, with the formal transfer taking place the following year. Christiansted National Historic Site, located in Christiansted, on the north shore of St Croix, includes several 18th- and 19th-century buildings, including Fort Christiansvaern, built in the 1740s. The fort was named after Christian VI, king of Denmark and Norway from 1730 to 1746.

Picture taken 4 Dec 84.

25 March 2014

Travelin' Tuesday: Philippines

Jeepneys are a popular form of public transportation in the Philippines.  This lot are in Olongapo, near Subic Bay; ornate as the one closest to the camera appears, it's actually quite sedate compared to some that I saw.  In Olongapo, at least, they were colour-coded according to the route they followed.  (You can see a red one in the background, next to the third yellow one; there were also blue ones.)

Picture taken 10 Jul 88.

19 March 2014

Medals of Honor awarded

As announced last month, President Obama presented the Medal of Honor yesterday to three Vietnam veterans, as well as to the families of 21 other soldiers who served in Vietnam, Korea or World War II. NPR has the complete list, with links to bios and citations, here. The names, units, and dates of heroism are:
Pvt Pedro Cano - Co C, 8th Inf Regt, 4th Inf Div - 2 Dec 44
Pvt Joe Gandara - Co D, 2nd Bn, 507th Para Inf Regt, 82nd Abn Div - 9 Jun 44
S/Sgt Salvador J Lara - Co L, 180th Inf Regt - 27-28 May 44
Pfc William F Leonard - Co C, 30th Inf Regt - 7 Nov 44
S/Sgt Manuel V Mendoza - Co B, 250th Inf Regt, 88th Inf Div - 4 Oct 44
Sgt Alfred B Nietzel - Co H, 2nd Bn, 16th Inf Regt, 1st Inf Div - 18 Nov 44
1st Lt Donald K Schwab - Co E, 15th Inf Regt - 17 Sep 44

Cpl Joe R Baldonado - Co B, 187th Abn Inf Regt - 25 Nov 50
Cpl Victor H Espinoza - Co A, 1st Bn, 23rd Inf Regt, 2nd Inf Div - 1 Aug 52
Sgt Eduardo C Gomez - Co I, 8th Cav Reg, 1st Cav Div - 3 Sep 50
Pfc Leonard M Kravitz - Co M, 3d Bn, 5th RCT, 24th Inf Div - 6-7 Mar 51
Sgt. Juan E. Negron - 65th Inf Regt - 28 Apr 51
M/Sgt Mike C Pena - Co F, 2nd Bn, 5th Cav Regt (Inf), 1st Cav Div - 4 Sep 50
Pfc Demensio Rivera - Co G, 2nd Bn, 7th Inf Regt, 3rd Inf Div - 22-23 May 51
Pvt Miguel A Vera - Co F, 2nd Bn, 38th Inf Regt, 2nd Inf Div - 21 Sep 52
Sgt Jack Weinstein - Co G, 21st Inf Regt, 24th Inf Div - 19 Oct 51

SP4 Leonard L Alvarado - 1st Cav Div - 12 Aug 69
SSG Felix M Conde-Falcon - Co D, 1st Bn, 505th Inf Regt, 82nd Abn Div - 4 Apr 69
SP4 Ardie R. Copas - 25th Inf Div - 12 May 70
SP4 Jesus S Duran - 1st Cav Div - 10 Apr 69
SP4 Santiago J Erevia - Co C, 1st Bn (AM), 501st Inf Regt, 101st Abn Div (AM) - 21 May 69
SGT Candelario Garcia - Co B, 1st Bn, 2nd Inf Regt, 1st Inf Div - 8 Dec 68
SSG Melvin Morris - Det A-403, Co D, 5th SF Group (Abn) - 17 Sep 69
SFC Jose Rodela - Det B-36, Co A, 5th SF Group (Abn) - 1 Sep 69
The addition of Erevia, Garcia and Rodela brings the number of living Medal of Honor recipients back up to 77.

18 March 2014

Travelin' Tuesday: Italy

Capo d'Orso, in northern Sardinia near La Maddalena, gets its name from a rock formation that looks like a giant bear.  It was used as a landmark by ancient sailors, and was mentioned as such by the 2nd-century geographer Ptolemy. A popular tourist destination, la Roccia dell’Orso (Bear Rock) can be reached by heading east down the road from Palau* - not a long walk - and then climbing a path up the hillside.

Picture taken 18 May 03.

* Not to be confused with Palau.

17 March 2014

RIP: Ola Mize

ZUI this article from the Washington Post:
Ola “Lee” Mize received the Medal of Honor, the military’s highest award for valor, for his heroism in the battle in which he defended a strategically important hill and saved the lives of numerous comrades — and in which his superiors thought he had lost his own. He later served three tours of duty in Vietnam and retired as a colonel.

He died March 5 at his home in Gadsden, Ala. He was 82. The cause was cancer, said Rick Vaughan, a family spokesman.

The son of an Alabama sharecropper, Col. Mize left high school and joined the Army to support his family. He was nearing the end of his enlistment when the Korean War began, according to several accounts, and he reupped so that he would not miss the opportunity to serve in combat.


Ola Lee Mize was born Aug. 28, 1931, in Albertville, Ala. He was a butcher before joining the Army and was initially turned down by military recruiters because he weighed only 120 pounds.

After his tour in Korea, Col. Mize served in the Army Special Forces, or Green Berets, including as a camp commander in Vietnam. He helped train local populations to oppose the Viet Cong, according to a biographical sketch in the book “America’s Heroes,”and later was director of the Special Forces School at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Col. Mize retired in 1981 but remained involved in military affairs for several decades as a motivational speaker, trainer and consultant, his family’s spokesman said.

Survivors include his wife of 59 years, Betty Jackson Mize of Gadsden; their daughter, Teresa Peterson of Rainbow City, Ala.; a half-brother; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. His daughter Donna Feazell died in 2001.
Mize's death brings the number of surviving Medal of Honor recipients to 74, nine of whom were awarded the medal for heroism in Korea.

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


Sergeant, US Army; Company K, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division

Born: 28 August 1931, Marshall County, Alabama
Died: 12 March 2014, Gadsden, Alabama

Citation: M/Sgt. Mize, a member of Company K, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and outstanding courage above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. Company K was committed to the defense of "Outpost Harry", a strategically valuable position [near Surang-ni, Korea], when the enemy launched a heavy attack [during the night of 10-11 June 1953]. Learning that a comrade on a friendly listening post had been wounded he moved through the intense barrage, accompanied by a medical aid man, and rescued the wounded soldier. On returning to the main position he established an effective defense system and inflicted heavy casualties against attacks from determined enemy assault forces which had penetrated into trenches within the outpost area. During his fearless actions he was blown down by artillery and grenade blasts 3 times but each time he dauntlessly returned to his position, tenaciously fighting and successfully repelling hostile attacks. When enemy onslaughts ceased he took his few men and moved from bunker to bunker, firing through apertures and throwing grenades at the foe, neutralizing their positions. When an enemy soldier stepped out behind a comrade, prepared to fire, M/Sgt. Mize killed him, saving the life of his fellow soldier. After rejoining the platoon, moving from man to man, distributing ammunition, and shouting words of encouragement he observed a friendly machine gun position overrun. He immediately fought his way to the position, killing 10 of the enemy and dispersing the remainder. Fighting back to the command post, and finding several friendly wounded there, he took a position to protect them. Later, securing a radio, he directed friendly artillery fire upon the attacking enemy's routes of approach. At dawn he helped regroup for a counterattack which successfully drove the enemy from the outpost. M/Sgt. Mize's valorous conduct and unflinching courage reflect lasting glory upon himself and uphold the noble traditions of the military service.

11 March 2014

Travelin' Tuesday: Norway

Austråttborgen (Austrått Manor) is located some 30 miles to the northwest of Trondheim, overlooking Trondheimsfjord. The manor as laid out today was completed around 1656; it burned in November of 1916, but restoration was completed in 1961. Since 1919 it has been property of the state, and it is open for tours during the summer.

Picture taken Mar 1992.

04 March 2014

Travelin' Tuesday: Japan

The Great Buddha of Kamakura, on the grounds of Kōtoku-in, was probably completed in 1252 - that is, a statue of the Buddha was completed there, then, but it's unclear if the extant statue is the same one. Made of bronze, it is almost 44 feet high and weighs over 133 tons. To me, the startling bit was that it is hollow, and even has windows....

Pictures taken 8 Dec 86.

25 February 2014

Medal of Honor to be awarded to 24

ZUI this article from the Washington Post:
President Obama will correct a historical act of discrimination next month when he awards the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest commendation for combat valor, to a group of Hispanic, Jewish and African-American veterans who were passed over because of their racial or ethnic backgrounds.

The unusual presentation will culminate a 12-year Pentagon review ordered by Congress into past discrimination in the ranks and will hold a particular poignancy when conducted by the nation’s first African-American president.


With the ornate White House East Room as backdrop, the March 18 ceremony will mark another step to revisit a history of discrimination in the armed forces as the nation’s demographics and social values shift rapidly.

The recipients, whom the White House announced Friday afternoon, served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.


Just three of the 24 veterans who will be honored are still alive. All but five of the soldiers are Hispanic, Jewish or African American[.]


Officials from each service branch focused on service members who had been awarded the second-highest medal for gallantry: the Distinguished Service Cross for the Army, the Air Force Cross for that branch, and the Navy Cross for the Navy and Marine Corps.
All 24 recipients served in the Army - seven in World War II (all in the European theatre of operations), nine in Korea, and eight (including the three still living) in Vietnam.

Travelin' Tuesday: Spain

Cartagena (2011 population 218,210) is a city in Murcia, on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. "Cartagena" derives from Carthago Nova (New Carthage), its Roman name; the city was founded around 227 BCE by Hasdrubal the Fair, brother-in-law of the great Carthaginian general Hannibal. The city is now the site of an important Spanish navy base. The Gran Hotel, shown here, was built 1907-17; only the facade remains of the original hotel, alas, as the interior was demolished to make an office building.

Picture taken 2 Jun 01.

21 February 2014

RIP: Walter Ehlers

ZUI this post from the Orange County (CA) Register:
Walt Ehlers, who received the Medal of Honor for bravery during the D-Day invasion of Nazi-held France during World War II, died Thursday morning. He was 92.


Ehlers and his older brother, Roland, were Kansas farm boys who joined the Army together during the Depression to help their family. After three years in the peacetime Army, the brothers found themselves headed to Europe after the United States entered the war following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

The pair fought side-by-side across North Africa and Sicily. Once, in Italy, Walt had to dig Roland out from under a pile of dirt and rocks after an artillery shell exploded near them.
Accorfing to this article from NBC News:
Ehlers also earned three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star during his service with the 3rd Infantry Division and the 1st Infantry Division.

After the war, Ehlers became an advocate for military veteran benefits and proudly worked as a security guard for Disneyland when it opened in California.

He is survived by his wife, Dorothy Ehlers; three children; 11 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
There are now 75 surviving Medal of Honor recipients, seven of whom were awarded the medal for heroism in World War II.

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


Staff Sergeant, US Army; 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division

Born: 7 May 1921, Junction City, Kansas
Died: 20 February 2014, California

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 9-10 June 1944, near Goville, France. S/Sgt. Ehlers, always acting as the spearhead of the attack, repeatedly led his men against heavily defended enemy strong points exposing himself to deadly hostile fire whenever the situation required heroic and courageous leadership. Without waiting for an order, S/Sgt. Ehlers, far ahead of his men, led his squad against a strongly defended enemy strong point, personally killing 4 of an enemy patrol who attacked him en route. Then crawling forward under withering machinegun fire, he pounced upon the guncrew and put it out of action. Turning his attention to 2 mortars protected by the crossfire of 2 machineguns, S/Sgt. Ehlers led his men through this hail of bullets to kill or put to flight the enemy of the mortar section, killing 3 men himself. After mopping up the mortar positions, he again advanced on a machinegun, his progress effectively covered by his squad. When he was almost on top of the gun he leaped to his feet and, although greatly outnumbered, he knocked out the position single-handed. The next day, having advanced deep into enemy territory, the platoon of which S/Sgt. Ehlers was a member, finding itself in an untenable position as the enemy brought increased mortar, machinegun, and small arms fire to bear on it, was ordered to withdraw. S/Sgt. Ehlers, after his squad had covered the withdrawal of the remainder of the platoon, stood up and by continuous fire at the semicircle of enemy placements, diverted the bulk of the heavy hostile fire on himself, thus permitting the members of his own squad to withdraw. At this point, though wounded himself, he carried his wounded automatic rifleman to safety and then returned fearlessly over the shell-swept field to retrieve the automatic rifle which he was unable to carry previously. After having his wound treated, he refused to be evacuated, and returned to lead his squad. The intrepid leadership, indomitable courage, and fearless aggressiveness displayed by S/Sgt. Ehlers in the face of overwhelming enemy forces serve as an inspiration to others.

19 February 2014

Australian VC awarded for Afghanistan

ZUI this article from news.com.au:
THE bravery that earned Australian soldier Cameron Baird a posthumous Victoria Cross was revealed as his parents accepted his award today.

He was the 40th Australian soldier to die in Afghanistan, the fourth awarded a VC, and the first to get the award posthumously since Vietnam.

Governor-General Quentin Bryce read an official citation outlining Corporal Baird’s actions as she conferred the award on his parents, Doug and Kaye Baird, during a ceremony at Canberra’s Government House today.
This was the fourth award of the Victoria Cross for Australia, and the 100th award of the VC to an Australian.

The citation for Baird's's VC, along with his official biography, can be found here.

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


Corporal, 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (Commando); Special Operations Task Group

Born: 7 June 1981, Burnie, Tasmania, Australia
Died: 22 June 2013, Khod Valley, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan

Citation: For the most conspicuous acts of valour, extreme devotion to duty and ultimate self-sacrifice at Ghawchak village, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan as a Commando Team Commander in Special Operations Task Group on Operation SLIPPER.
Corporal Cameron Baird enlisted in the Australian Regular Army in 2000, was discharged in 2004, and re-enlisted in 2006. In both periods of service, he was assigned to the 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (Commando). His operational service includes Operations TANAGER, FALCONER, BASTILLE and five tours on Operation SLIPPER. He was awarded the Medal for Gallantry for his service in Afghanistan in 2007-08.
On 22 June 2013, a Commando Platoon of the Special Operations Task Group, with partners from the Afghan National Security Forces, conducted a helicopter assault into Ghawchak village, Uruzgan Province, in order to attack an insurgent network deep within enemy-held territory. Shortly after insertion, Corporal Baird’s team was engaged by small arms fire from several enemy positions. Corporal Baird quickly seized the initiative, leading his team to neutralise the positions, killing six enemy combatants and enabling the assault to continue.
Soon afterwards, an adjacent Special Operations Task Group team came under heavy enemy fire, resulting in its commander being seriously wounded. Without hesitation, Corporal Baird led his team to provide support. En route, he and his team were engaged by rifle and machine gun fire from prepared enemy positions. With complete disregard for his own safety, Corporal Baird charged towards the enemy positions, supported by his team. On nearing the positions, he and his team were engaged by additional enemy on their flank. Instinctively, Corporal Baird neutralised the new threat with grenades and rifle fire, enabling his team to close with the prepared position. With the prepared position now isolated, Corporal Baird manoeuvred and was engaged by enemy machine gun fire, the bullets striking the ground around him. Displaying great valour, he drew the fire, moved to cover, and suppressed the enemy machine gun position. This action enabled his team to close on the entrance to the prepared position, thus regaining the initiative.
On three separate occasions Corporal Baird charged an enemy-held building within the prepared compound. On the first occasion he charged the door to the building, followed by another team member. Despite being totally exposed and immediately engaged by enemy fire, Corporal Baird pushed forward while firing into the building. Now in the closest proximity to the enemy, he was forced to withdraw when his rifle ceased to function. On rectifying his rifle stoppage, and reallocating remaining ammunition within his team, Corporal Baird again advanced towards the door of the building, once more under heavy fire. He engaged the enemy through the door but was unable to suppress the position and took cover to reload. For a third time, Corporal Baird selflessly drew enemy fire away from his team and assaulted the doorway. Enemy fire was seen to strike the ground and compound walls around Corporal Baird, before visibility was obscured by dust and smoke. In this third attempt, the enemy was neutralised and the advantage was regained, but Corporal Baird was killed in the effort.
Corporal Baird’s acts of valour and self-sacrifice regained the initiative and preserved the lives of his team members. His actions were of the highest order and in keeping with the finest traditions of the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.

18 February 2014

Travelin' Tuesday: Scotland

Loch Eck, 24 metres above sea level, is located in the Cowal Peninsula, to the north of Dunoon and the Holy Loch. This boat and its mooring buoy were located a bit north of the Coylet Inn, on the east side of the loch near its southern end.

Picture taken 29 Dec 91.

17 February 2014

"Presidents' Day"

5 U.S. Code § 6103 - Holidays

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

So if this "Presidents' Day" isn't a legal holiday, it must be an illegal one, right?

(It's not on the Connecticut list of "Days designated as legal holidays," either.)

12 February 2014

Australian VC to be awarded for Afghanistan

ZUI this article from The Australian:
THE Victoria Cross will be awarded posthumously to Australian commando Corporal Cameron Baird, killed in Afghanistan in June 2013, Tony Abbott has announced.

The Prime Minister told parliament that Corporal Baird, of the Special Operations Task Group, was the 100th Australian recipient of the highest military honour for bravery in wartime.

Killed by small arms fire during a battle with Afghan insurgents, he was the 40th - and last - Australian to die in Afghanistan and the fourth Australian VC from the conflict.


Corporal Baird, from the 2nd Commando Regiment based at Holsworthy Barracks in Sydney, was killed during an engagement with insurgents in the Khod Valley in southern Afghanistan on June 22, 2013.


Born in Burnie, Tasmania, Corporal Baird he is survived by his parents, brother and his partner.

Governor-General Quentin Bryce will award the posthumous honour at a ceremony at Government House in Canberra next Tuesday [18 Feb].

11 February 2014

Travelin' Tuesday: South Korea

Most of the events during the 1988 Summer Olympics were held in Seoul, but some took place in other cities. Yachting and some of the preliminary football* matches were held in the city of Pusan (now spelt Busan), in the southeastern corner of South Korea.  This Olympic flame was located in Yong Du San Park, in Pusan.

Picture taken 10 Sep 88.

* Association football, of course, not American football.

05 February 2014

RIP: John J McGinty III

ZUI this article from the New York Times:
John J. McGinty III, a retired Marine Corps officer who received the Medal of Honor for saving the lives of dozens of his men during an enemy attack in Vietnam, but later relinquished it for religious reasons, died on Friday in Beaufort, S.C. He was 73.

The cause was bone cancer, his son Michael said.

Staff Sgt. McGinty, a platoon leader, had already been severely wounded in the left eye by shrapnel during heavy fighting on July 18, 1966, when about 20 of his men became separated from the others and found themselves pinned down by enemy fire on three sides.

He received the Medal of Honor for sprinting through gunfire and mortar shell blasts to reach them and lead them to safety.


Mr. McGinty led one of four platoons in Company K of the Third Battalion, Third Marine Division, during a major sortie in July 1966 known as Operation Hastings. The mission was to block North Vietnamese troops from infiltrating the demilitarized zone between the Communist-led North and the American-backed South.


John James McGinty III was born in Boston on Jan. 21, 1940, to John and Eve McGinty and grew up in Louisville, Ky. His father was a diver for commercial deep-sea recovery operations
Besides his son Michael, Mr. McGinty is survived by another son, John J. McGinty IV. His wife, Elaine Elizabeth Hathaway, died in 1991.

Mr. McGinty retired from the Marines as a captain in October 1976. He later worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs in several positions. After years of surgical efforts to repair it, Mr. McGinty lost his left eye. He wore an eye patch in public.
There are now 76 surviving Medal of Honor recipients, 52 of whom were awarded the medal for Vietnam War service.

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


Second Lieutenant (then Staff Sergeant), US Marine Corps; Company K, 3d Battalion, 4th Marines, 3d Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force

Born: 21 January 1940, Boston, Massachusetts
Died: 17 January 2014, Beaufort, South Carolina

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty [in the Republic of Vietnam, on 18 July 1966]. 2d Lt. McGinty's platoon, which was providing rear security to protect the withdrawal of the battalion from a position which had been under attack for 3 days, came under heavy small arms, automatic weapons and mortar fire from an estimated enemy regiment. With each successive human wave which assaulted his 32-man platoon during the 4-hour battle, 2d Lt. McGinty rallied his men to beat off the enemy. In 1 bitter assault, 2 of the squads became separated from the remainder of the platoon. With complete disregard for his safety, 2d Lt. McGinty charged through intense automatic weapons and mortar fire to their position. Finding 20 men wounded and the medical corpsman killed, he quickly reloaded ammunition magazines and weapons for the wounded men and directed their fire upon the enemy. Although he was painfully wounded as he moved to care for the disabled men, he continued to shout encouragement to his troops and to direct their fire so effectively that the attacking hordes were beaten off. When the enemy tried to out-flank his position, he killed 5 of them at point-blank range with his pistol. When they again seemed on the verge of overrunning the small force, he skillfully adjusted artillery and air strikes within 50 yards of his position. This destructive firepower routed the enemy, who left an estimated 500 bodies on the battlefield. 2d Lt. McGinty's personal heroism, indomitable leadership, selfless devotion to duty, and bold fighting spirit inspired his men to resist the repeated attacks by a fanatical enemy, reflected great credit upon himself, and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service.

27 January 2014

Newbery and Caldecott winners announced

The 2014 winner of the John Newbery Medal for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children is Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures, written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by K G Campbell, and published by Candlewick Press. DiCamillo received the Newbery Medal in 2004 for The Tale of Despereux; the new award makes her the sixth person to have won the medal twice. The Newbery Honor Books (ie, runners-up) are Doll Bones, by Holly Black; The Year of Billy Miller, by Kevin Henkes; One Came Home, by Amy Timberlake; and Paperboy, by Vince Vawter.

Amazon and Barnes & Noble both have it, of course.*

The Randolph Caldecott Medal, for the most distinguished American picture book for children, was awarded to Locomotive, written and illustrated by Brian Floca, and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers. The Caldecott Honor Books are Journey, written and illustrated by Aaron Becker; Flora and the Flamingo, written and illustrated by Molly Idle; and Mr Wuffles!, written and illustrated by David Wiesner.

Amazon and Barnes & Noble both have this one, too.*

(I'll let you do your own searches for the Honor Books.)

The American Library Association (ALA), who give both of the above awards, also announced a few others, including:
The Michael L Printz Award, for excellence in young-adult literature: Midwinterblood, by Marcus Sedgwick.

The Coretta Scott King Book Award, recognizing an African-American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults: (author) P.S. Be Eleven, by Rita Williams-Garcia, and (illustrator) Knock Knock: My Dad's Dream for Me, illustrated by Bryan Collier and written by Daniel Beaty.

The Pura Belpré Awards, for Latino authors and illustrators whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in children's books: (author) Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, by Meg Medina, and (illustrator) Nino Wrestles the World,, written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales.

The Margaret A Edwards Award, for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults: Markus Zusak.

The Theodor Seuss Geisel Award, for the most distinguished book for beginning readers: The Watermelon Seed, written and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli.

The Robert F Sibert Informational Book Award, for the most distinguished informational book for children: Parrots Over Puerto Rico," written by Susan L Roth and Cindy Trumbore, and illustrated by Susan L Roth.

The YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults: The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World's Most Notorious Nazi, by Neal Bascomb.

The Mildred L Batchelder Award, for the most outstanding children's book translated from a foreign language and subsequently published in the United States: Mister Orange, originally written in Dutch (with the same title) by Truus Matti and translated by Laura Watkinson.

PR Newswire has the complete list of awards, winners, and Honor Books here.

* Amazon and B&N links are provided for information. Buying from your local independent bookseller is of course strongly recommended!!

12 January 2014

RIP: Rodolfo Hernandez

ZUI this article from the Fayetteville (NC) Observer:
Cpl. Rodolfo "Rudy" Hernandez was given a hero's farewell Monday when hundreds gathered to pay their respects to the fallen Medal of Honor recipient.

Hernandez, who died Dec. 21 at age 82, was buried at Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery in Spring Lake.


Hernandez earned the Medal of Honor in 1951 when, armed only with grenades and a bayonet and facing what believed to be a mortal head wound, he single-handedly charged into North Korean soldiers.

His actions spurred his fellow soldiers, who had been withdrawing, to attack. Hernandez was found the next day near death but surrounded by the bodies of six enemy soldiers who had been killed with the bayonet.


Hernandez is survived by his wife, Denzil Hernandez, and three children with his first wife, Bertha Hernandez.
There are now 77 surviving Medal of Honor recipients, ten of whom were awarded the medal for Korean War service.

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


Corporal, US Army; Company G, 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team

Born: 14 April 1931, Colton, California
Died: 21 December 2013, Fayetteville, North Carolina

Citation: Cpl. Hernandez, a member of Company G, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy [near Wontong-ni, Korea, on 31 May 1951]. His platoon, in defensive positions on Hill 420, came under ruthless attack by a numerically superior and fanatical hostile force, accompanied by heavy artillery, mortar, and machine gun fire which inflicted numerous casualties on the platoon. His comrades were forced to withdraw due to lack of ammunition but Cpl. Hernandez, although wounded in an exchange of grenades, continued to deliver deadly fire into the ranks of the onrushing assailants until a ruptured cartridge rendered his rifle inoperative. Immediately leaving his position, Cpl. Hernandez rushed the enemy armed only with rifle and bayonet. Fearlessly engaging the foe, he killed 6 of the enemy before falling unconscious from grenade, bayonet, and bullet wounds but his heroic action momentarily halted the enemy advance and enabled his unit to counterattack and retake the lost ground. The indomitable fighting spirit, outstanding courage, and tenacious devotion to duty clearly demonstrated by Cpl. Hernandez reflect the highest credit upon himself, the infantry, and the U.S. Army.

Medal of Honor authorised for Civil War and Vietnam

ZUI this article from the Washington Post.
More than 150 years after he gave his life at Gettysburg leading the effort to repel Pickett’s Charge, 1st Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing is finally on track to get the Medal of Honor after Congress last month approved waiving the time limit for the nation’s top military honor.

The waiver was one of a half-dozen included in the massive defense policy bill — legislation that also began to tweak the Medal of Honor system, standardizing the amount of time a nomination may be considered and removing a cap that, in recent years, had said nobody could win the medal more than once.


Now that the Cushing nomination is officially pending, the Pentagon would not comment on his chances, nor those of the five other troops from long-ended wars in Vietnam and Korea whom Congress also made eligible to receive the Medal of Honor or the Distinguished Service Cross, which is the second-highest honor for a soldier.
Cushing served with Battery A, 4th United States Artillery.

Time-limit waivers for the Medal of Honor were also authorised for Sfc Bennie G Adkins, Special Forces Detachment A–102, for actions in Vietnam during March of 1966, and for Sp4/c Donald P Sloat, 1st Infantry Regiment (196th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division), for actions in Vietnam in January of 1970. Waivers for the Distinguished Service Cross were authorised for Sfc Robert F Keiser, 2nd Infantry Division (Korea, Nov 1950), Sfc Patrick N Watkins Jr, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) (Vietnam, Aug 1968), and Sp4/c Robert L Towles, 7th Cavalry (Vietnam, Nov 1965).

Whether any of these medals will actually be awarded remains to be seen.

From the same article:
Pentagon officials did say, however, that they asked for two of the changes that could affect current troops.

In one change, the law now allows service members to earn multiple Medals of Honor if their actions merit it.


The other major change was to set a standard time frame for all of the services. The law sets time limits for how long after the combat action someone can be recommended and awarded the medal, but the limits varied among the services.

Now, all of the services will have three years to make the recommendation and five years to issue the award.
The complete text of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 can be found here.

05 January 2014

George Cross: A. G. Bagot


Lieutenant (then Sub-Lieutenant), Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve

Born: 26 April 1888, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Died: 12 November 1979, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Citation: The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Albert Medal for Gallantry in Saving Life at Sea to
Lieutenant-Commander Keith Robin Hoare, D.S.O., D.S.C., R.N.V.R., and Lieutenant Arthur Gerald Bagot, D.S.C., R.N.V.R.
The account of the services in respect of which the Decoration has been conferred is as follows: —
On the 12th April, 1918, an explosion took place in the engine-room of H.M. Motor Launch 356, and the forward tanks burst into flame. The Officer and some of the crew were blown overboard by the explosion, and the remainder were quickly driven aft by the flames, and were taken off in a skiff. By this time the flames were issuing from the cabin hatch aft, and there was much petrol burning on the surface of the water. It was then realised by the crews of adjacent vessels that the aft petrol tanks and the depth charge were being attacked by the fire, and might explode at any moment. At the moment when others were running away, Lieutenant Hoare and Sub-Lieutenant Bagot jumped into their dinghy, rowed to the wreck, got on board, and removed the depth charge, thereby preventing an explosion which might have caused serious loss of life amongst the crowd of English and French sailors on the quay.

[London Gazette issue 30852 dated 20 Aug 1918, published 20 Aug 1918.]

Note: The Albert Medal was discontinued in 1971, and all living recipients were invited to trade in their medals for the George Cross.  Lt-Cdr Robin Hoare DSO* DSC AM had died on 6 Feb 1959, but Bagot accepted the offer and received his GC on 26 Nov 1972.

Medal of Honor: M. M. Oviatt and W. M. Smith


Corporal, US Marine Corps; USS Brooklyn

Born: 1 December 1840, Cattaraugus County, New York
Died: 1 November 1880

Citation: On board the U.S.S. Brooklyn during action against rebel forts and gunboats and with the ram Tennessee in Mobile Bay, 5 August 1864. Despite severe damage to his ship and the loss of several men on board as enemy fire raked the deck, Cpl. Oviatt fought his gun with skill and courage throughout the furious 2-hour battle which resulted in the surrender of the rebel ram Tennessee.


Corporal, US Marine Corps; USS Brooklyn 

Born: 1840, Allegheny, New York
Died: 26 March 1918

Citation: On board the U.S.S. Brooklyn during action against rebel forts and gunboats, and with the ram Tennessee in Mobile Bay, 5 August 1864. Despite severe damage to his ship and the loss of several men on board as enemy fire continued to fall, Cpl. Smith fought his gun with skill and courage throughout the furious 2-hour battle which resulted in the surrender of the rebel ram Tennessee.

03 January 2014

Book list - 2013

Here's the complete list of books I read in 2013. I didn't set a goal for this year, so I can't report success in reaching it (nor must I admit to failure, either).

An asterisk indicates a reread. Numbers refer to the order in which the books were read.

"Adult" Fiction (43 books)
1. Cold Days - urban fantasy, by Jim Butcher
2. The Ram Rebellion - AH (short stories), edited by Eric Flint and Virginia DeMarce
3. Dream Park - SF, by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes
4. Ice Crown - SF, by Andre Norton *
5. Forerunner - SF, by Andre Norton
6. Galactic Derelict - SF, by Andre Norton *
7. The Wrong Hill to Die On - mystery, by Donis Casey
8. The Defiant Agents - SF, by Andre Norton *
9. Worlds of the Imperium - SF/AH, by Keith Laumer *
10. The Other Side of Time - SF/AH, by Keith Laumer *
11. Key out of Time - SF, by Andre Norton *
12. Myth-Quoted - fantasy, by Jody Lynn Nye
13. Assignment in Nowhere - SF/AH, by Keith Laumer
14. The ABC Murders - mystery, by Agatha Christie
15. Myth-ion Improbable - fantasy, by Robert Lynn Asprin
16. Thirteen at Dinner (aka Lord Edgware Dies) - mystery, by Agatha Christie
17. Murder on the Orient Express (aka Murder in the Calais Coach) - mystery, by Agatha Christie
18. Cards on the Table - mystery, by Agatha Christie
19. Myth-Fortunes - fantasy, by Robert Lynn Asprin and Jody Lynn Nye
20. The Secret Adversary - mystery, by Agatha Christie
21. Myth-ing Persons - fantasy, by Robert Lynn Asprin *
22. Little Myth Marker - fantasy, by Robert Lynn Asprin
23. The Windsor Knot - mystery, by Sharyn McCrumb
24. The Weans - humour, by Robert Nathan *
25. Partners in Crime - mystery (short stories), by Agatha Christie
26. A Slice of Murder - mystery, by Chris Cavender
27. Class Dis-Mythed - fantasy, by Robert Lynn Asprin and Jody Lynn Nye
28. Death in the Air (aka Death in the Clouds) - mystery, by Agatha Christie
29. The Hen of the Baskervilles - mystery, by Donna Andrews
30. Myth-Chief - fantasy, by Robert Lynn Asprin and Jody Lynn Nye
33. Eggs Benedict Arnold - mystery, by Laura Childs
38. The Barsoom Project - SF, by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes
39. The Long Earth - SF, by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
42. The California Voodoo Game - SF, by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes
43. Duck the Halls - mystery, by Donna Andrews
44. The Moon Maze Game - SF, by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes
47. Evolution - SF, by Stephen Baxter
49. Fellowship of Fear - thriller, by Aaron Elkins
50. Arctic Rising - SF thriller, by Tobias S Buckell
51. The Dark Place - mystery, by Aaron Elkins *
52. The Moonshine War - thriller, by Elmore Leonard *
53. Burning Paradise - AH/SF, by Robert Charles Wilson
54. Murder in the Queen's Armes - mystery, by Aaron Elkins *

Children's/YA Fiction (6)
31. 11 Birthdays - children's, by Wendy Mass
34. Finally - children's, by Wendy Mass
37. 13 Gifts - children's, by Wendy Mass
40. Momo - children's fantasy, by Michael Ende
45. The Last Present - children's, by Wendy Mass
46. He Went with Marco Polo - children's historical fiction, by Louise Andrews Kent

Non-Fiction (6)
32. Presumed Lost: The Incredible Ordeal of America's Submarine POWs During the Pacific War - WW II, by Stephen L Moore
35. Blondie & Dagwood's America - comics, by Dean Young and Rick Marschall
36. The Taste of War: World War II and the Battle for Food - WW II, by Lizzie Collingham
41. Call of Duty: A Montana Girl in World War II - WWII memoirs, by Grace Porter Miller
48. Sea of Gray: The Around-the-World Odyssey of the Confederate Raider Shenandoah - USCW, by Tom Chaffin
55. The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England - British history, by Ian Mortimer

The biggest categories were SF (16), mysteries (15), and fantasy (9). Dame Agatha Christie was the most-read author of the year (7 books); Robert Lynn Asprin was second (6). And 11 of the 55 books were rereads.

My favourites? I'd say Cold Days, by Jim Butcher, was the best book I read all year (especially with the unexpected twist at the end!). These twelve (listed in the order in which I read them) were also very good:
Dream Park, by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes
The Hen of the Baskervilles, by Donna Andrews
11 Birthdays, by Wendy Mass
Presumed Lost: The Incredible Ordeal of America's Submarine POWs During the Pacific War, by Stephen L Moore
Finally, by Wendy Mass
13 Gifts, by Wendy Mass
The Barsoom Project, by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes
The California Voodoo Game, by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes
Duck the Halls, by Donna Andrews
The Moon Maze Game, by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes
The Last Present, by Wendy Mass
Burning Paradise, by Robert Charles Wilson
The four Niven/Barnes books make up a series; it's hard to say which of the four I liked best. The four Mass books are also a series, and the last one does a good job of explaining some of the questions raised by the other three.

Having not set a goal for last year, I'm not setting one for this year either. But I do hope to do a lot more reading this year....

01 January 2014

Book list - Oct-Dec 2013

Momo - children's fantasy, by Michael Ende
Call of Duty: A Montana Girl in World War II - WWII memoirs, by Grace Porter Miller
The California Voodoo Game - SF, by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes
Duck the Halls - mystery, by Donna Andrews
The Moon Maze Game - SF, by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes
The Last Present - children's, by Wendy Mass
He Went with Marco Polo - children's historical fiction, by Louise Andrews Kent
Evolution - SF, by Stephen Baxter
Sea of Gray: The Around-the-World Odyssey of the Confederate Raider Shenandoah - USCW, by Tom Chaffin
Fellowship of Fear - thriller, by Aaron Elkins
Arctic Rising - SF thriller, by Tobias S Buckell
The Dark Place - mystery, by Aaron Elkins *
The Moonshine War - thriller, by Elmore Leonard *
Burning Paradise - AH/SF, by Robert Charles Wilson
Murder in the Queen's Armes - mystery, by Aaron Elkins *
The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England - British history, by Ian Mortimer

16 books last quarter, of which three were rereads (marked with asterisks). While this was the first time I'd actually read He Went with Marco Polo, my fifth-grade teacher read it to us in class - making it the only book that I can actually remember anyone's ever reading to me. (My sister taught me to read when I was three, and my earliest memories are from when I was four. I have no reason to doubt that my mother and sisters read to me when I was younger, as they say they did; I just don't remember it.)