Category Archives: WWII

5 Weeks to Go!

February is winding down and winter is dragging on.  But the days are getting longer and we can see light at the end of Alaska’s long winter tunnel.  It is 10pm as I start typing this and Tanis woke from his couch nap with too much energy.  He is out snow blowing in the dark with our new snow blower in front of the neighbor’s hangar.  Hope Pat isn’t trying to sleep…

The past week,  we have seen some pretty cold temperatures for Yakutat.  Two weeks of nights getting to around zero,  with daytime highs scratching just under 20.  That is Fahrenheit,  for our friends over-seas…  Hard to complain too much with what is happening throughout the rest of the country right now,  except Florida…  Frightening to see what happens when Alaska weather hits Texas…  Our thoughts and prayers are with you down south.  You should burn more of your own oil for power and heat.

The past several days have been a lot warmer,  with temps getting into the low 30’s.  Had some rainish sleet on the 17th and 18th,  but back to snow now.  The ramp has a couple inches of fresh snow since the DOT plowed the pavement clear,  on top of a half inch of polished ice.  What a mess.  But no snow pile…  DOT keeps building it up,  then taking it down.  Last year,  we had so much snow that the pile knocked our internet out in early March,  not to come back again until late April.  “Fortunately” the fly shop was mandated closed,  so we didn’t have to process credit cards via the non-existent internet.  They are doing what they can to limit the impact on us this year and it is greatly appreciated.

So…  the river is frozen solid at 9 Mile,  with a thick sheet of ice as far up and downstream of the bridge as you can see from it.  We have about 2 feet of snow depth in the open,  with not much in the trees.  The road to the river is plowed and easily navigable,  so no real risk of that being an issue come April.  Or not much of a risk…  Because of the cold snap,  we have thick ice on the lakes now and getting an insulating layer of snow on top of that will keep the lakes colder even as the warmth starts to creep into the air.  Still not a lot of total snow,  but enough.

After saying it was looking like another warm winter and therefore early steelhead run,  we are now back to an on-time run with our current conditions.  March is just around the corner and we are definitely NOT at risk of the run showing up anytime soon.  We can breath a sigh of relief,  knowing whatever happens with the number of people allowed to enter Alaska from the outside,  their timing will be relatively in line with the fish coming in.  My guess is we’ll see a LOT of Alaskans coming this year after being forced to take last year off,  and out-of-state travel will be less than half of what we’d expect on a “normal” year.

Tanis has been busy with the snow blower ever since it arrived on ACE Air Cargo in January.  No snow,  but he was out practicing with it on bare pavement.  Now,  we have had some snow for a month to actually blow.  Keeping the path to the shop open by blowing all the snow into two piles in the parking lot that will undoubtedly still be there into May.  After the first real snow of the year,  he made a big pile about 40 feet long and 15 feet wide.  I already mentioned previously that some kids from town came out and helped mine dig a tunnel all the way through the middle from end to end.  Once night came,  they carved shelves into the snow and lit candles for a nice glow.

The second storm a couple days later brought a second big pile of white.  Tanis alone dig another snow cave,  but this time just made one entrance and hollowed out a big cavern in the center.  He insisted I had to spend the night out there with him,  but I politely declined,  as another storm hit that night with 60-70 knot winds blowing the entrance shut with more snow.  The sun came out the next day while he reopened the doorway and enlarged the cavern.  OK,  we put down a tarp floor and loaded it with pads and blankets.  Made a flap door with an old wool blanket and settled in for the night.  The first of the clear/cold nights dropped to 7 degrees.  Actually warm and comfortable inside!  With my old-man bladder (ya,  TMI…), I was up a couple times in the night.  The first time,  I poked my head back inside the flap and it was just as cold inside as it was out.  The second time,  I had accidentally woke Tanis,  so he lit a candle for me to see my way back in.  Opened the flap and my face was hit by an amazing warmth.  From ONE little candle!  What a difference!  It stayed lit for a while!

Now the rain this week has made the fort a couple feet shorter,  but the tunnels haven’t collapsed.  Can’t say I’m eager to spend the night out there again,  but it was a blast to camp in the yard with my little boy again,  even if he is 21 now.  Haven’t truly winter-camped with him since he was about 7.

We also had a great visitor – the Ozark Air DC-3.  They were bring the plane back up from Montana where it spent the past couple years after their last visit.  She was supposed to do some tourist flights down in the real world,  but then the world ended and she just sat.  On her way home to ANC,  she had some mechanical issues in Sitka,  so spent a couple months there getting fixed up and back in the air.  On their way over Yakutat,  the weather was going down in Anchorage and getting dark,  so they turned around and overnighted with us.

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This is a beautiful plane with passenger config,  galley and lav.  They are planning to do flightseeing tours around the Anchorage area as Golden Era Aviation,  in period uniforms once they get the FAA stuff all set.  Their website isn’t ready yet,  but I’ll let you know when it is…  These photos I stole from their preliminary site…

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OK,  Tanis just came back inside…  About 6-8 inches of new snow since 6pm when DOT left for the day.  Tomorrow is going to be a mess outside.  Glad to be working INSIDE tomorrow,  mudding and taping the holes in the downstairs bathroom ceilings.  Had to cut out access holes when I needed to replumb the water system with PEX several years ago.  Yes,  PEX can burst when it freezes,  contrary to what they say…  Getting a little more done on the hangar…  Trying to do SOMETHING every day,  no matter how piddly.  You eat an elephant one bite at a time and this hangar is like eating an entire herd.  Several herds…

Vacation 2020 – Part 4 – Bora Bora

8 months have passed since I last posted about our big Tahiti trip.  Wow!  One year ago tonight (at least when I started typing this,  but the kids wanted to go to the fireworks and then watch a movie,  so…),  Teen and I boarded Alaska Airlines flight 66 and 30 hours later,  we were standing in line at the Papeete Inter-Continental hotel.  I had to go back and reread the earlier posts to figure out what the heck I was saying,  so if you want a refresher too…

Post #1: How About Something Nice to Read About… (trip prep and planning)

Post #2: Vacation 2020 – Part 2 (Yakutat to Papeete)

Post #3: Vacation 2020 – Part 3 (Windstar Cruise from Papeete to Moorea,  Raiatea and Tahaa)

And now for part 4 – Bora Bora!

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Photo swiped from the web…

First off,  Bora Bora is more than the stereotypical tropical destination…  It is the perfect one.  Every fantasy ideal of paradise is just a rip-off of the real thing (including the tropical paradise in The Incredibles).  On almost every top 10 list of best islands,  best destinations,  best whatever…  Bora Bora is usually #1.  No other place on earth can genuinely compare.  Sound overblown and exaggerated?  Nope.

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Another photo swiped from the web…  One of several outer atoll resorts 

The perfect volcanic peak completely surrounded by a ring of motus (islands).  Incredible white,  or pink sandy beaches.  Spectacular resorts with their famous over-water bungalows.  Aquatic wildlife so plentiful and diverse that you can’t fully appreciate unless you have been there.  Probably more than once.  Visiting Bora Bora is like being in a perfect virtual reality.  It is almost like no way it could be real.  How’s that for an endorsement?

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The trip from Tahaa to Bora Bora was another short one. They depart the first atoll each night around 6pm and are anchored before midnight usually.

Most famous for it’s overwater bungalows,  we spent most of our time on a cruise ship.  Not the best way to experience Bora Bora,  but as a small 148 pax sail boat/diesel hybrid,  it wasn’t a bad way either.  Throughout the trip,  we didn’t take very many shore excursions.  Between the fly shop,  fueling airplanes and ground-handling the mail plane every morning (except Sunday) – PLUS hangar construction – I don’t get ANY days off.  Even if I’m no longer also squeezing in commercial fishing and guiding…  An occasional nap is a cherished holiday.  This first vacation in nearly two decades was all about relaxing,  not running around doing a bunch of activities.  That said,  we missed out on a LOT of incredible things to do,  especially here.  No,  I did NOT go fishing!

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Paradise! The atoll is a nearly perfect complete protective circle. Other than a few shallow spillways, the only navigable entrance is on the west side with 7 remaining WWII cannons overlooking it. Our military blew the entrance deeper 80ish years ago, but any “damage” to the coral, or aquatic life definitely recovered. The air base (3-letter identifier airport code “BOB”) is at the very north tip of the atoll. Most of the resorts are also spread out along the outer atoll, with only a couple smaller ones on the main island.  You can easily see the bungalows along the upper right side of the atoll.

The one thing I really wanted to do though was take their WWII tour.  I’d almost call that a “work day”,  since I give a dozen WWII tours myself each week through the summer,  but those tend to be more a labor of love than actual work…  The cruise scheduled two full days in Bora Bora and we didn’t have anything planned for day-1.  Slept in late,  over-ate again for breakfast and over-ate again again for lunch.  In the afternoon,  we took the shuttle to shore and wandered around the town of Vaitape for a couple hours in the very hot sun,  then went back to the ship to relax.

Pretty clear that these big international hotel chain resorts don’t have a lot of financial impact on the local economy,  or lifestyle.  Yes,  they employ locals and locals do conduct most of the shore excursions,  but the communities around the main island live VERY modestly.  One of our shipmates remarked that he was shocked by the poverty.  Yes,  they are poor – especially by our standards – but I also saw contentment…  They don’t have much,  but they also don’t need much!  They aren’t chasing after the “American dream” which seems to be 4 new cars in the driveway and a big plasma screen in every bathroom.  A lot of the houses looked like depression-era Hooverville tin shacks,  but they looked like they cared for what they had and everyone was busy mowing grass,  or hacking back the ever encroaching jungle.  Leave your yard unattended here for a little while and it quickly becomes an impenetrable salmon-berry thicket.  We got nothin’ on them in the tropics!  On our drive around the island,  it must have been the annual yard debris pick-up day.  EVERYONE was out working on cleaning their yards and piling the debris neatly on the roadside.

Maybe my perspective is skewed a bit having grown up in a one-room shack on the beach during my formative years…  Family of five,  no plumbing,  an outhouse out back,  drinking water from the river (Giardia and all),  no electricity,  or phone,  washing laundry in the river…  Eating a LOT of fish because we couldn’t afford many groceries in town.  Then choosing to raise my kids in the same environment…

Here is a video of a guy going to a villager’s “house”.  If they wanted to live more affluently,  they can…  They could get a job for one of the resorts and have more money,  but they are living a lifestyle they choose on their own terms.  He owns the land he lives on and has few bills.  They catch fish and eat their own fruit.  Bread,  milk and a few other grocery items are subsidized by the French government.  Everything else I saw in the stores pretty much matched Yakutat prices.  I dare you to find happier kids in an American city no matter how much crap their parents just bought them for Christmas…

On our second day in Bora Bora,  we ate breakfast,  then headed to the boat to go ashore.  The guys at Bora Bora Tupuna Safari met us and loaded everyone into the back of three 4-wheel drive pick-ups.  Safety rules don’t seem to apply,  so you find yourself on a bench seat along the side of the bed with no cushion,  or seat belt.  It felt like growing up in the 70’s..Canvas canopy over the top,  open sides and back.  Hold on tight to the frame,  or you’ll be pitched out and limping back to the boat alone.

Operation Bobcat was intended to be a new coastal artillery and air base in England.  They loaded up the ships and headed…  south.  The brass decided at the last minute they wanted that base in the South Pacific,  so to Bora Bora it headed.  The location was so picturesque,  it would have made an incredible 50’s romantic musical…

The  US Army’s 13th Coast Artillery Regiment was sent to man the eight 7″ guns on Bora Bora.  Seven of those guns remain.  They are actually pre-WWI guns,  built in 1911 according to our guide.  They are Mark 2 7″/45 caliber guns.  The Mark 2 was delivered to the Army as a non-self-propelled/towed-by-a-tractor field artillery piece,  although none were shipped to France.  They were also installed on the battleships of the day as the largest “rapid-fire” gun because they were the heaviest shell one man could handle alone.

There are 12 remaining survivors of the Mark 2 in the world.  Seven of which are in Bora Bora.  No one knows what happened to the eight gun…  Two of them originally came off the USS Louisiana and one came from the USS New Hampshire.  We drove up the mountainside on a wild ride,  holding on for dear life,  to see two of the guns.

There were also some remaining bunkers and sheds that hadn’t completely disappeared into the jungle.  The guns looked like you’d need a little WD-40 only to get them working again,  unlike our rusted blobs of former 5″ guns on Cannon Beach.

Back in the early 1940’s,  the view from these gun emplacements was mighty useful for keeping an eye out for the approaching Japanese fleet (which never appeared in these waters).  Today,  it is a breathtaking sight to behold,  looking down on the indescribable deep-blue water,  pure white sand,  vivid green jungle and light blue reef.  On the way back down the mountain,  we stopped at a couple different vantage points to see different sides of the atoll.

One last stop on the hillside drive was at a small plantation owned by the family of our guide.  They had fresh fruit and coconut for us to eat,  hand-painted and dyed wraps for chicks to wear and some more incredible history.  The site has some sort of old Polynesian religious ruin which undoubtedly hosted human cannibalistic rituals.  Our host shared a fascinating history of the early missionaries that came through Polynesia and attempted to convert the cannibals to Christ.  Talk about a tough job!  Many became buffet-fodder.

On the way back to the dock,  they drove us on a complete circle of the island.  Holy cow!  The drivers there are nuts!  Lots of mopeds and small motorcycles weaving between cars on the narrow 2-lane road built by the US Army Corps of Engineers.  We were supposed to stop at the famous “Bloody Mary’s” restaurant and bar,  but it was closed for the Christmas holiday that lasts through most of January.  In fact,  most of the smaller local businesses were closed,  so hardly anywhere to buy souvenirs off-resort.

Briefly back on the ship,  before we loaded onto catamarans for the trip to Motu Tapu (which means Sacred Island) for a big buffet dinner and jiggling naked dancers show.  Beautiful little motu featuring palm trees with all their coconuts removed so you won’t get bonked,  meticulously raked white sand (so you won’t break your leg stepping into a coconut crab hole and lots of tables set up in the middle.  We enjoyed the dinner (again,  probably a little too much except no ice cream),  but skipped the show.  Living in a native village,  I’ve kind of had my fill of the dance shows,  plus our local St Elias Dancers are probably more realistic than what they do down in Polynesia.  Everyone else enjoyed it though.  Instead,  we had the beach completely to ourselves for the sunset and then watching the aquarium show off the dock.  The pictures of the fish didn’t turn out well enough to post because of the bright red light illuminating them,  but we had fun feeding them the bread from the buffet tables nearby.  And eating more and more myself…

On our way back to the ship,  they had it all lighted up.

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I was told repeatedly that the two best excursions of the entire trip were 1) to the pearl farm – the farm and shop was boring,  but it had the best snorkeling anywhere…  #2 was the ’round the island snorkeling trip.  They took a boat all the way around,  stopping at a few locations to swim with the sharks and sting rays.  Apparently all the rays get their stingers clipped off as babies,  so they won’t hurt the tourists by accident…

It was a long day and getting to sleep was nice.  That night,  we departed Bora Bora and headed for our last atoll,  Huahine.  Huahine is cool.  It is two large islands within their atoll ring with a bridge connecting them.  This is where Tahitians go when they want to get away from all the tourists.  But…  Teen and I didn’t leave the ship.  Spent the day relaxing.  And eating.  On a small ship like the Windstar,  staying behind is really nice when most of the other passengers go ashore.  Almost like you have your own private mega-yacht.  This was our first experience with Polynesian rain.  Bone dry for our entire trip up until now.  In Huahine,  we were hit by a few showers,  which helped to cool things down a bit,  until the sun came back out and then the humidity shot up to about 478%.

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The Huahine-Tahiti trip was the longest,  but we were still back into port long before breakfast was served.  Most of the passengers had packages that included a day room at the Papeete Inter-Continental,  so many  from the ship spent their day hanging around the hotel before their flight in the evening.  We hung out with our favorite excursion buddies while they waited for their bus to the airport.  We all took a taxi to the Carrefore store south of the hotel.  I loitered for as long as they would let me in the ice cream section just savoring the freezers.  Had to open every door to see which ice cream I wasn’t buying just to cool off.

Great store with just about anything you could need.  Your French Polynesian version of Walmart.  They had an “american” section with giant vats of mayonnaise,  cheese-puff balls,  Coffee-Mate,  Frosted Flakes and peanut butter.  Either they don’t eat this stuff in paradise,  or they don’t think much of the American diet…

Great lunch at the hotel restaurant by the way…  First meal we had to pay extra for all week.  My double-bacon cheese burger with cheddar AND brie was delicious!  So was my half of Teen’s sirloin sandwich.

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Just wasting time now,  waiting for our flight to Rangiroa the next day.  Like I said several posts before,  the Papeete Inter-Continental was built a long time ago before there was a whole lot of high-end tourism.  The majority of the rooms are in these big,  old multi-story buildings,  with just a dozen or so over-water bungalows.  They have tennis courts and multiple bars and restaurants and would be a great place to spend a week,  if not for the fact that Tahiti is surrounded by actual paradise on all the other atolls.

I’d compare Tahiti to wanting to see Alaska,  so you spend a week in Anchorage…  We’ll be seeing it in our next installment…

Loss of a Legend

Olivia de Havilland passed away yesterday at the age of 104.  She is indisputably one of the greatest actresses of all time and one of the most beautiful.  Winner of 2 Oscars and roles in such great films as Gone with the Wind,  she is probably most famous for two things…

  1. In the 1938 film The Adventures of Robin Hood,  she gets to ride Trigger,  before he became Roy Rogers’ costar and sidekick and…
  2. She visited Yakutat in 1943 touring Alaska military bases.

Her loss ends the great era of Hollywood.  No one left now.  And yes,  she was a relative to Geoffrey de Havilland,  founder of the de Havilland Aircraft Company-maker of the Mosquito, Beaver, Otter and many other great planes.

Weird Time Warp?

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Photo courtesy: the Levi Ballard Collection

This is a photo from WWII here in Yakutat.  These are rows of “Yakutat Huts”,  one of the two building designs named after the Yakutat Air Base,  where they were first built.  Quonset Huts were named after Quonset Rhode Island,  not Mr. Quonset who didn’t design them…  Yakutat Huts were a 16′ x 16′ prefab wood building kit that could easily be assembled,  used,  disassembled and moved.  They were used all over the world and if you look at any WWII era military base that is still in use,  they will almost always have a “Yakutat Street”,  where 75+ years ago the rows of Yakutat Huts were used for housing.

Question:  Why is this guy talking on a cell phone?

A Frightful and Sad D-Day

Let me start this by thanking all the men and women in uniform who risk their lives to protect me,  my family,  my property,  businesses and those who I love and care about.  That by no means covers every man and woman in uniform,  but it does go out to the vast majority of them.  Police,  fire,  armed forces…

With that out of the way,  today we look back 76 years at a pivotal event in human history where people from all over the world united to land on the shores of France and take Europe back and bring freedom to those who longed to see it again in their homeland.  Unfortunately,  we seem to be watching freedom slip away in our own country and witness a nightly orgy of violence,  destruction and horror at the hands of our fellow Americans.

And some really don’t get it…

Biggest antifa rally in history. https://t.co/ypa46PvYx1

— Mara Liasson (@MaraLiasson) June 6, 2020

 

Yes kids,  that would be Mara Liasson,  a 35 year veteran of NPR.  She is really saying the landings in Normandy on D-Day and ANTIFA rioting,  burning cities,  looting stores and beating bystanders to death in our own country are the same.  She isn’t alone.  There have been MANY of these hot takes today from our media betters,  entertainment celebrities,  politicians and regular blithering idiot Americans.  This is showing more than ever the failures of our public education system.  Pick up a fucking history book you moron!  Sorry for the potty word there,  but if ever it was appropriate,  it would be to these idiots.

We are also seeing a very vocal push to “defund the police”…  Not by the fringe,  but by mayors,  Hollywood mega-stars and members if Congress.  How about we defund NPR instead?

The Greatest Generation fought and died so that today we would have the freedom to throw everything they held dear into the toilet.

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As a reminder of what makes a hero,  Teen and I will be watching the Glenn Miller Story tonight.  Glenn Miller was the #1 entertainer in the world for four straight years (1939 to 1942),  until he volunteered to join the US Army in 1942.  In December of 1944,  a few months after D-Day,  he was lost flying across the English Channel to France to perform with the US Army Band for troops near the front lines.  The Norseman he was flying in disappeared into the fog,  never to be seen again.  The BBC officially announced on Christmas Eve that his plane was lost.  No one ever really knew what happened to his plane and no trace was ever recovered.

“Then on Feb 11th,  2000,  the logbook of war-time RAF flight engineer Derek Thurman from Derby,  England was sold for $880 on Sotheby’s internet sales site.  It tells of how a British air raid on Germany was sent back to base,  the night Glenn Miller disappeared.  The 138 Lancaster Bombers dumped their explosives over the sea,  as was normal practice,  to ensure a safe landing.  Mr. Thurman said three crew members on his plane spotted a light aircraft below them,  which they believe was brought down by the hail of jettisoned bombs.”

Glenn Miller was the most successful entertainer of his day.  In The Mood is still the 7th biggest musical hit in history (adjusted for inflation…).  He walked away from extreme wealth and comfort to risk (and lose) his life doing what he could to bring a little bit of home to all those soldiers,  airmen and sailors who were across the sea fighting for their lives and for our freedom.  And to bring comfort and joy to the civilians who had been bombed,  threatened,  occupied and oppressed by the Nazi regime for years.  Yep,  just like ANTIFA…  Or…

The Glenn Miller Story is a fantastic movie.  Not really reality-based for a biography,  but it is still exceptional.  It stars James Stewart,  one of (if not the) greatest movie star of all time (Entertainment Weekly has him listed as #3 behind Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn).  He had enlisted in the Army Air Corps before Pearl Harbor and was actually working guard duty on an air base the morning of December 7th.  He already had his pilot license before he enlisted and would soon have his Best Actor Oscar (for the Philadelphia Story – co-staring with #2) on the mantel.

Unlike most Hollywood stars who volunteered to sell war bonds and travel around in protected areas to entertain,  Mr. Stewart wanted to fly bombers.  The brass wouldn’t allow it.  It took him a year to finally manipulate his way into a bomber squadron heading to England.  He flew about two dozen missions and became the squadron commander.  He refused to sit out the dangerous missions as the brass wanted and earned the respect and admiration of all who served with him.

Jimmy returned to Hollywood after the war,  but his confidence as an actor was shaken.  His first movie post-war was with my favorite director Frank Capra,  also Frank’s first post-war movie – It’s a Wonderful Life.  He suffered bouts of PTSD on the set (before we knew what that was),  but struggled though to become an even bigger star than he was before and to rise to the rank of General in the new Air Force.  He continued to fly active/dangerous missions in the Korean and Viet Nam wars.

These two men – Jimmy and Glenn – were two of the greatest entertainers ever.  But they are heroes and giants in history because of what they volunteered to do to save the world,  not to loot and riot.  Where are the Jimmys and Glenns today?

June 5th

I’m down in Sitka right now getting the annual done on the Cessna 206.  Was supposed to be done yesterday,  but we had to change out a cylinder and realign my rudder.  Otherwise,  everything else went smoothly.  But I’m still stuck in SIT.  Wasn’t planning to bring my laptop,  but with the D-Day events happening,  ya the laptop came.

I still have a few minutes of June 5th left way out west in Alaska.  The 5th was when those amazing young punks jumped out of thousands of C-47’s to secure roads,  bridges and approaches to the Normandy Coast to save the world from evil.  I already posted about the C-47 “Liberty” and have been following her flight from Denver to England.  Well,  it is the 6th now in Europe and “Liberty” is in France.  Here is a screenshot of her tracking since she arrived in England…

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A few days ago,  they flew down to the southern coast,  then back to Dukford Airport.  Yesterday when they should have been loading up paratroopers for the drop,  they flew around the local Dukford area.  Apparently,  the weather was terrible,  so they had to postpone the jump – not unlike the weather 75 years ago!  This morning,  they were in France at Caen.  Boy,  do I wish I was there with my other plane,  instead of here with the Cessna…

This has been a productive trip though,  as we have been discussing a plan to get our C-47 back in the air with my mechanics.  A year late,  but maybe this time it’ll happen.  They suggested a Go-Fund-Me page,  but I have no idea where to begin with that.  Anyone out there with some experience,  give me a call!  I need help with that.

A friend has been feeding me photos from the D-Day events and if it is OK,  I’ll post some below:

From the WWII Airborne Demonstration team from a FB post yesterday.

Overlord Update—75 year-ago-redux. If you’ve watched Band of Brothers you know the phrase, “No jump tonight.” That was the situation then and it was our situation today. Rain and high winds on the drop zone. And, so, we’re waiting. And, while we wait, we train! We turned today’s disappointment into a dress rehearsal for tomorrow, putting on our parachutes, adjusting our gear, practicing our safety procedures, going up on flights, and then adjusting to see how we can do it again even better. Things happen for a reason—if you’re willing to give them one. And, so we’ve done just that. Tomorrow’s forecast? It’s tough. And, it’s changing by the moment. If you’re a person of faith, we invite you to join us in prayer for dry calm conditions tomorrow with a high cloud ceiling. If prayers are not your approach, we welcome any good thoughts. Thank you for being with us through this. We’ll report tomorrow as soon as we know our status! Photos are of just a few of our members today. By Max Ipinza, Like Sharrett, and Andrew Kristopik #overlord19 #dday75 #daksovernormandy #DDay #Veterans

From the FB page for That’s All Brother Commemorative Air Force

“No livestream today, but there was this….a sight not seen for maybe 75 years…(photo by John Cyrier)”

No updates but I’ve seen where they have crossed the channel 3 hours ago. I’m sure this afternoon I’ll have some pictures and possibly videos to share.

I watched a video where somebody on the demonstration team said that the weather may be too bad for jumpers but they’ll still fly over the memorial at Normandy. Not sure what is going on at the Moment.

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Wow!

D-Day 75th

Well,  so much for me taking time off from the blog…

I can’t let this one go though…  The 75th anniversary for D-Day is coming in two weeks.  I have been following the “Daks Over Normandy” events and it is a little heartbreaking to see our actual D-Day survivor trapped in the hangar.  She deserves to be flying to England right now!

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Original June 6th newspaper from the collection…

“Daks Over Normandy” (https://www.daksovernormandy.com) will see about 50 DC-3’s and C-47’s gathering in England,  then on June 5th,  they will load up 250 round chute paratroopers and deliver them over the original drop zones.  More than a dozen planes are enroute right now from the US with stops in Goose Bay  Canada,  Narsarsuaq Greenland,  Reykjavik Iceland and Wick in Scotland.  Many of them are just DC-3’s with no war history,  while N91314 sits here in Yakutat…

Legend Airways “Liberty” is a C-47 delivered to the Army Air Force exactly one year after our baby began her service.  They served side-by-side in Oran,  Algeria with ours arriving at the base March 22nd,  1943 and “Liberty” arriving August 17th,  1943.  They both served together in North Africa,  Sicily and Normandy.  They are truly “sisters” in every sense,  so “Liberty” is the plane I’m living vicariously through…

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N25641,  serial number 9059 built in Long Beach and delivered to the Army February 11th,  1943.

So…  a friend of mine sent me a link to the GPS tracking page as “Liberty” flies to Europe.  Hope it is OK if I post this publically David!

https://us0-share.inreach.garmin.com/legendairwaysdc3

“Liberty” is resting tonight in Iceland and will be in the UK tomorrow.  I took some screenshots of the flight path earlier today,  as they were exactly half-way between Greenland and Iceland.

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Started in Denver a few days ago.  Had to spend a few nights in Iowa City when the left engine began backfiring and they needed to do some repairs.  Glad that didn’t happen out over the empty North Atlantic!!!

Well,  I’ll be keeping her on my screen throughout the next couple weeks and then for her flight home.  Keeping her and the others in our thoughts and prayers,  as they honor one of the pinnacle events of the 20th Century.  Honoring those brave men (and a few women) who went to war to battle true evil,  so that we could live in freedom.  We owe them so much.

Here is one of our posters from the museum collection:

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One of our posters from the museum collection…  Seems appropriate with the artwork showing a C-47 dropping paratroopers.

One More Veteran’s Day Post

Watch this.  I dare ya!  If you don’t lose it by the time the dog appears,  you have no soul!

100 Years Ago – a War that Never Ended

Who’s ready for a long rambling post?  In 12 minutes Alaska time (as I start typing this),  we mark the official ending of The Great War – the War to End All Wars.  It didn’t end anything.  Didn’t solve anything and didn’t prove anything.  As part of my hangar tours,  I say that there really wasn’t two separate world wars.  Just one conflict between mostly the same belligerents with a 13 or so year armistice in the middle.  (WWII began in 1931 with Japan’s invasion of Manchuria,  not in Euro-centric 1939…)

On 11/11/1918,  most soldiers on both sides had no idea what was happening.  3,000 servicemen died on the morning of November 11th,  as the Americans crossed the Meuse River,  leaving the bodies of Marines behind as they pushed through the fire of the German Maxim guns.  The Americans were seizing the high ground,  pushing the Germans back toward their homeland.  Then everything went silent.  Orders came forward from General Lejeune that our men were to retreat to the position they held at 11 o’clock.  Retreat to a position with our backs against the river with no escape,  should this prove to be just another rumor.  Back – past the piles of bodies,  who until moments ago had been their fellow marines,  friends,  brothers.  All killed AFTER the armistice.

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A 1917 Bond Drive poster from our collection

Japan and England were allies in WWI.  England asked them to strike Germany’s colonial outposts in the far east.  Japan wondered why they were doing this for England and not for themselves…  They spent the next 13 years reorganizing their society and building an army and navy capable of taking over half the world.  Italy too changed sides,  joining Germany and Japan,  after being on the side of France,  England,  Russia and the United States in the Great War.  An end to active fighting on 11/11 didn’t end the anger,  hatred,  jealousy,  coveting and desire for revenge.  Another 100 years passing hasn’t changed that either.

As part of our WWII hangar tour,  I show two infantry rifles from our collection.  One is a Japanese Koishilawa rifle made around 1927 or 1928.  The Japanese stopped making these in 1929.  The other rifle was actually my dad’s hunting rifle.  It is a Smith Corona 30.06.  I call it my “typewriter”,  because it was made by the Smith Corona typewriter company.  These two artifacts together really illustrate the difference in preparedness between Japan and the United States at the start of WWII.  Japan thought they were so well-prepared for their global conquest that they literally stopped making these infantry rifles in 1929!  The US was so ill-prepared,  we had to have typewriter companies like Smith Corona and IBM make WWI-era rifles for our soldiers to carry.

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Um…  we had a US Department of Labor CHILDREN’S BUREAU in 1918???

Our two Coastal Defense cannons on Cannon Beach are WWI guns.  They were supposed to be installed on a new battleship in 1919,  but after signing the Naval Agreement,  the size of everyone’s navies (except Germany and Japan apparently) was restricted.  The new ship was scrapped and the guns placed in storage.  In early 1942,  these guns were pulled out and shipped throughout Alaska.  WWI supplying the defense of Alaska in WWII.

If you go to the Aviation Museum in Anchorage,  look for two framed pieces of WWI aircraft skin on display.  They come from the aircraft of Charles H Russell,  a member of the Lafayette Escadrille in France during WWI.  The Lafayette Escadrille (originally called the American Escadrille,  but the Germans complained and so they changed the name…) consisted of a group of American volunteers flying for France prior to the United States’ direct involvement in WWI.  Basically an all American “French Foreign Legion” group of pilots.  A wonderful book that covers the Lafayette Escadrille (along with Manfred von Richthofen,  Pershing,  Patton) is To the Last Man,  by Jeff Shaara.  The Russells are a very prominent family in Yakutat,  since Charles H’s son moved here about 60-70years ago.

At the end of WWI,  we all held hands and signed treaties to reduce our military effectiveness voluntarily.  We didn’t change human nature.  We deliberately weakened ourselves,  making us vulnerable to aggressive psychos who’s goal was/is to subjugate and dominate the world.  Those people haven’t disappeared after 100 years.  They are still looking-hoping for a weakness to exploit.  Our only defense is a military so strong and deadly that the world fears a conflict with it.  And to keep our own aggressive psychos in check,  an armed populace to strong and deadly that our government fears a conflict with it.

And a hope that we never have to use either.  Thank you to all our veterans on this and EVERY day.

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This 1917 Navy recruiting poster with “Christy Girl” is our most valuable propaganda poster in the collection (so far)

Veterans Day Tomorrow

A friend sent me a link to an NBC story about a batch of war propaganda posters discovered in a New Hampshire library recently.  Here is the link:

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/trove-war-posters-discovered-new-hampshire-library-n934816

Just to point out the kind of collection we have here (but unfortunately can’t display yet,  till we get more of the building heated and dry),  of the 4 posters they have in the two photos for the story…  we have all 4 of them.  Plus most of the ones they describe (like the Nazi fist stabbing the bible),  we have those too.  Their collection consists of 190 posters.  We have over 400…  I don’t have most of the collection photographed yet,  but here are some of the ones they feature…

The poster in the guy’s hand and the one on the table…

 

Here is the Nurse Cadet Corps poster on the left.  I don’t have the “can” rationing photographed,  but here is another in the same rationing series about rationing meat…  We have the whole series.

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“This is the Enemy”…

And the article talks about posters that look like Norman Rockwell painted them…  That’s because he did illustrate many government propaganda posters,  like these illustrating FDR’s “Four Freedoms”…  By the way,  we don’t have “freedom of worship”,  we have freedom of religion.  The effort to change it to “worship” comes straight out of the Soviet constitution.  They had the freedom to worship the government approved religion,  not a freedom to worship any religion.  Big distinction!  The “Freedom of Speech” image is a cool duel self-portrait of the ender Rockwell looking up at the young Rockwell.  And what the hell does “Freedom from Want” even mean?  I want a B-17.  And an SBD Dauntless.  And a P-51 Mustang with duel controls.  Come on Government,  satisfy my “want”…  Unfortunately we seem to be raising a generation of Americans who expect the government to satisfy their wants – let alone their needs

May the sacrifices of our veterans to keep our world free not be wasted by our current and future generations.