Monthly Archives: December 2016

Spirit of WWII Would Serve Us Well Today

A friend on Facebook (thanks J.R.) shares a great quote from a book by WWII B-24 bomber pilot Ralph Welsh.  We should start each day with this in our heads and hearts.

“I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon if I can. I seek opportunity, not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I want to take the calculated risk, to dream and to build, fail and succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole. I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence, the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficence, nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid. To think and act for myself, enjoy the benefits of my creations, and to face the world boldly and say, ” This I have done..””

 

The book is WOW!: An anthology with 149 World War II stories of bombing missions, personalities, diverse life experiences by Ralph Welsh.  Check it out at Amazon.com.

WOW! by Ralph Welsh

 

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Warbirds – B-24 Liberator Heavy Bomber

December 29th marks the anniversary of the first-flight of the Consolidated B-24 Liberator.  Designed by Consolidated under the name Model 32, in 1939 the proposal was offered to the War Department as the highest flying, fastest, and most advanced heavy bomber that American forces would have at their disposal.  Though having a shorter hull and less wing area, the innovative design features of the B-24 resulted in a lighter aircraft with substantially greater carrying capacity.  Only nine months after the awarding of the contract, the first prototype took flight.

b-24 liberator line drawing

Often forgotten alongside the more famous B-17 Flying Fortress, the Liberator is still the most produced American military aircraft of all time.  More than 18,400 units were delivered by war’s end; over half coming produced at the Ford Motor Company Willow Run plant at Belleville, Michigan.  At peak, this purpose-built production plant rolled out B-24s at a rate of one per hour.  Over 1000 crewmen slept in cots at the facility just to accommodate testing and delivery of the bombers.

b-24 liberator willow run assembly line

b-24 liberator willow run assembly line final assembly

The B-24 entered service in 1941 with the British as transports and anti-submarine coastal patrols.  The first American B-24 to see action was the lone Liberator stationed at Pearl Harbor and it was destroyed on the ground during the Japanese attack December 7th, 1941.  Despite this less than heroic debut, the legacy of this aircraft is one of the most storied of WWII.  During the war, crews of the Liberators would earn every honor available to our aviators; including the awarding of several Medals of Honor.

http://youtu.be/YWOk2–CY6E

Notable crewmen on B-24s included:

  • George McGovern – pilot (Senator and Presidential candidate)
  • Jim Wright – bombardier (Congressman and Speaker of the House)
  • Stewart Udall – waist gunner (Congressman, Secretary of the Interior, author, and conservationist)
  • Jimmy Stewart – pilot, squadron commander (actor)
  • Robert Altman – co-pilot (film director)
  • Don Herbert – pilot (actor, host of TV show Ask Mr. Wizard)
  • Louis Zamperini – bombardier (Olympic runner and POW)

B-24 Liberator with Jimmy Stewart as pilot

By the end of its service life, dozens of B-24 variants flew with a whole host of nations, including:

Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Czechoslovakia, Germany (as Beuteflugzeug, captured aircraft, India, Italy, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Romania (At least three B-24Ds and one B-24J were rebuild from wrecks around Ploiesti in 1943–44.), Poland, Portugal, Soviet Union, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States

In its time, the B-24 was one of the most advanced and effective heavy bombers in the world.  Though crews (and history) seem to prefer the B-17, the lessons learned during the creation, evolution, and service of the B-24 would lead to the development of the B-32 and B-36.  These Warbirds would carry the Liberator’s legacy forward through Korea, to Vietnam, and into the height of the Cold War.  Today, only 3 of these historic bombers remain airworthy.

B-24 Liberators over Ploiesti Oil Fields 1943 low level run

B-24 Liberators over Ploiesti Oil Fields 1943

A Soldier’s Christmas Wish

Let’s never forget those whose sacrifices make us free and able to celebrate and worship as we please in this holiday season as well as the rest of the year. Published in the Magic City Morning Star December 24, 2009, this work really captures the feeling.  Transcript is posted below the video.

This poem was written by an Australian Peacekeeping stationed overseas. His request, send this to as many people as you can.  Credit is due to all of the service men and women for our being able to celebrate Christmas.  Let’s try to pay a bit of what we owe to these heroes.

Soldier’s Christmas Wish

By Unknown Original Author
 
T’was the night before Christmas, He lived all alone
In a one bedroom house, made of plaster and stone.
 
I had come down the chimney, with presents to give,
And to see just who, in this home, did live.
 
I looked all about, a strange sight I did see,
No tinsel, no presents, Not even a tree.
 
No stocking by mantle, just boots filled with sand,
On the wall hung pictures, of far distant lands.
 
With medals and badges, Awards of all kinds,
A sober thought, came through my mind.
 
For this house was different, it was dark and dreary,
I found the home of a soldier, once I could see clearly.
 
The soldier lay sleeping, Silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor, in this one bedroom home.
 
The face was so gentle, the room in disorder,
Not how I pictured, (A United States) Soldier.
 
Was this the hero, of whom I’d just read?
Curled up on a poncho, the floor for a bed?
 
I realised the families, that I saw this night,
Owed their lives to these soldiers, who were willing to fight.
 
Soon round the world, the children would play,
And grownups would celebrate, a bright Christmas day.
 
They all enjoyed freedom, Each month of the year,
Because of the soldiers, like the one lying here.
 
I couldn’t help wonder, How many lay alone,
On a cold Christmas Eve, in a land far from home.
 
The very thought brought, a tear to my eye,
I dropped to my knees, and started to cry.
 
The soldier awakened, and I heard a rough voice,
“Santa don’t cry, This life is my choice;
I fight for freedom, I don’t ask for more,
My life is my God, My country, my corps.”
 
The soldier rolled over, and drifted to sleep,
I couldn’t control it, I continued to weep.
 
I kept watch for hours, So silent and still,
And we both shivered, from the cold night’s chill.
 
I did not want to leave, on that cold, dark, night,
This guardian of honour, So willing to fight.
 
Then the soldier rolled over, With a voice soft and pure,
Whispered, “carry on Santa, It’s Christmas Day, all is secure.”
 
One look at my watch, and I knew he was right.
“Merry Christmas my friend, and to all, a good night.”
 

(Thank you Herta for sending this to me.  God bless!)

No matter what language, it’s still Merry Christmas!

I hunted across the length and breadth of the internet.  From all around the world, I present to you my (not quite yet) complete list of Christmas Greetings.  Spread the joy with friends and family everywhere.  Even if you don’t use one of the translations below, remember that Christ is the reason for the season.  Share His spirit and be a blessing to everyone in your life.

Feel free to send along additions or corrections.  I know my brother will come up with some that I missed.

  • Afrikaans Gesëende Kersfees
  • Afrikander Een Plesierige Kerfees
  • African/ Eritrean/ Tigrinja Rehus-Beal-Ledeats
  • Albanian Gezur Krislinjden
  • Arabic: Milad Majid or Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah
  • Argentine: Feliz Navidad
  • Armenian: Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Pari Gaghand
  • Azeri: Tezze Iliniz Yahsi Olsun
  • Bahasa Malaysia: Selamat Hari Natal
  • Basque: Zorionak eta Urte Berri On!
  • Bengali: Shuvo Naba Barsha
  • Binary Code (for the computer geek in your life): 01001101011001010111001001110010011110010010000001 00001101101000011100100110100101110011011101000110 11010110000101110011
  • Bohemian: Vesele Vanoce
  • Bosnian: (BOSANSKI) Cestit Bozic i Sretna Nova godina
  • Brazilian: Boas Feliz Natal or Festas e Feliz Ano Novo
  • Breton: Nedeleg laouen na bloavezh mat
  • Bulgarian: Tchestita Koleda; Tchestito Rojdestvo Hristovo
  • Catalan: Bon Nadal i un Bon Any Nou!
  • Chile: Feliz Navidad
  • Chinese: (Cantonese) Gun Tso Sun Tan’Gung Haw Sun
  • Chinese: (Mandarin) Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan
  • Choctaw: Yukpa, Nitak Hollo Chito
  • Columbia: Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo
  • Cornish: Nadelik looan na looan blethen noweth
  • Corsian: Pace e salute
  • Crazanian: Rot Yikji Dol La Roo
  • Cree: Mitho Makosi Kesikansi
  • Croatian: Sretan Bozic
  • Czech: Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok
  • Danish: Glædelig Jul
  • Duri: Christmas-e- Shoma Mobarak
  • Dutch: Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar! or Zalig Kerstfeast
  • Elvish: Ná merye i turuhalmeri!
  • English: Merry Christmas
  • Eskimo: (inupik) Jutdlime pivdluarit ukiortame pivdluaritlo!
  • Esperanto: Gajan Kristnaskon
  • Estonian: Ruumsaid juulup
  • Ethiopian: (Amharic) Melkin Yelidet Beaal
  • Faeroese: Gledhilig jol og eydnurikt nyggjar!
  • Farsi: Cristmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad
  • Finnish: Hyvaa joulua
  • Flemish: Zalig Kerstfeest en Gelukkig nieuw jaar
  • French: Joyeux Noel
  • Frisian: Noflike Krystdagen en in protte Lok en Seine yn it Nije Jier!
  • Galician: Bo Nada
  • Gaelic: Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ùr!
  • German: Froehliche Weihnachten
  • Greek: Kala Christouyenna!
  • Haiti: (Creole) Jwaye Nowel or to Jesus Edo Bri’cho o Rish D’Shato Brichto
  • Hausa: Barka da Kirsimatikuma Barka da Sabuwar Shekara!
  • Hawaiian: Mele Kalikimaka
  • Hebrew: Mo’adim Lesimkha. Chena tova
  • Hausa: Barka da Kirsimatikuma Barka da Sabuwar Shekara!
  • Hawaian: Mele Kalikimaka ame Hauoli Makahiki Hou!
  • Hindi: Shub Naya Baras (actually Good New Year, closest I could get)
  • Hungarian: Kellemes Karacsonyi unnepeket
  • Icelandic: Gledileg Jol
  • Indonesian: Selamat Hari Natal
  • Iraqi: Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah
  • Irish: Nollaig Shona Dhuit or Nodlaig mhaith chugnat
  • Iroquois: Ojenyunyat Sungwiyadeson honungradon nagwutut. Ojenyunyat osrasay.
  • Italian: Buone Feste Natalizie
  • Japanese: Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto
  • Jiberish: Mithag Crithagsigathmithags
  • Klingon (Star Trek): QISmaS DatIvjaj ‘ej DIS chu’ DatIvjaj
  • Korean: Sung Tan Chuk Ha
  • Latin: Natale hilare et Annum Faustum!
  • Latvian: Prieci’gus Ziemsve’tkus un Laimi’gu Jauno Gadu!
  • Lausitzian: Wjesole hody a strowe nowe leto
  • Lettish: Priecigus Ziemassvetkus
  • Lithuanian: Linksmu Kaledu
  • Low Saxon: Heughliche Winachten un ‘n moi Nijaar
  • Luxembourgish: Schèine Chreschtdaag an e gudde Rutsch
  • Macedonian: Sreken Bozhik
  • Maltese: IL-Milied It-tajjeb
  • Manx: Nollick ghennal as blein vie noa
  • Maori: Meri Kirihimete
  • Marathi: Shub Naya Varsh
  • Morse Code: — . .-. .-. -.– / -.-. …. .-. .. … – — .- …
  • Navajo: Merry Keshmish
  • Norwegian: God Jul or Gledelig Jul
  • Occitan: Pulit nadal e bona annado
  • Papiamento: Bon Pasco
  • Papua New Guinea: Bikpela hamamas blong dispela Krismas na Nupela yia i go long yu
  • Pennsylvania German: En frehlicher Grischtdaag un en hallich Nei Yaahr!
  • Peru: Feliz Navidad y un Venturoso Año Nuevo
  • Philipines: Maligayan Pasko!
  • Polish: Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia or Boze Narodzenie
  • Portuguese: Feliz Natal
  • Pushto: Christmas Aao Ne-way Kaal Mo Mobarak Sha
  • Rapa-Nui (Easter Island): Mata-Ki-Te-Rangi. Te-Pito-O-Te-Henua
  • Rhetian: Bellas festas da nadal e bun onn
  • Romanche (sursilvan dialect): Legreivlas fiastas da Nadal e bien niev onn!
  • Rumanian: Sarbatori vesele
  • Russian: Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom
  • Sami: Buorrit Juovllat
  • Samoan: La Maunia Le Kilisimasi Ma Le Tausaga Fou
  • Sardinian: Bonu nadale e prosperu annu nou
  • Scots Gaelic: Nollaig chridheil huibh
  • Serb-Croatian: Sretam Bozic. Vesela Nova Godina
  • Serbian: Hristos se rodi.
  • Singhalese: Subha nath thalak Vewa. Subha Aluth Awrudhak Vewa
  • Slovak: Vesele Vianoce. A stastlivy Novy Rok
  • Slovakian: Sretan Bozic or Vesele vianoce
  • Slovene: Vesele Bozicne. Screcno Novo Leto
  • Spanish: Feliz Navidad
  • Swedish: God Jul and (Och) Ett Gott Nytt År
  • Tagalog: Maligayamg Pasko. Masaganang Bagong Taon
  • Tamil: (Tamizh) Nathar Puthu Varuda Valthukkal (actually Good New Year, closest I could get)
  • Thai: Sawadee Pee Mai
  • Trukeese: (Micronesian) Neekiriisimas annim oo iyer seefe feyiyeech!
  • Turkish: Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun
  • Ukrainian: Srozhdestvom Kristovym
  • Urdu: Naya Saal Mubarak Ho (actually Good New Year, closest I could get)
  • Vietnamese: Chung Mung Giang Sinh
  • Welsh: Nadolig Llawen
  • Yugoslavian: Cestitamo Bozic
  • Yoruba: E ku odun, e ku iye’dun!

(Hat tip goes out to my old college roommate Drew for inspiring this post.)

Warbirds – B-1B Lancer

Today’s installment of Warbirds brings us to the supersonic, swingwing marvel the B-1B Lancer.  Unofficially known as the “Bone” (from B-one), the development and deployment of this strategic bomber increased pressure on the Soviets and helped shorten the Cold War.  The B-1’s first flight took place on December 23, 1974.

b-1b lancer wireframe

Envisioned in the 60’s as a Mach 2 replacement for the B-52, it was hoped that the Lancer would have the range and payload capacity to meet or exceed her predecessor.  Actual development of the aircraft didn’t start until the 1970’s and the design changed many times as political views of what her mission would be were revised.  President Carter actually cancelled the B-1A program after 4 aircraft were built in another misguided attempt to placate the Soviet Union.  But, the Reagan administration resurrected the project in 1981 to counter mounting worldwide Soviet adventurism.  Subsequently, Rockwell received a contract in 1982 and B-1B became operational with the U.S. Air Force October 1st, 1986.

b-1b munitions layout

It was known early on that the Lancer would not be able to take the place of the Venerable B-52.  What was envisioned was a strategic bomber that had the ability to elude Soviet radar and strike without warning deep within enemy territory.  Many viewed this capability as destabilizing in a Nuclear world.  However, the necessity of countering the perceived threat of the B-1B forced the Soviets into ever more unsustainable research, development, and defense spending.   Without ever delivering a nuclear weapon, the Lancer helped shorten the war.

020419-F-6655M-021

In the 90’s, further development proceeded on the “Advanced Technology Bomber” (which became the B-2 Spirit), leading to a role change for the B-1B.  Part of the fleet was converted over to a fledgling conventional munitions capability.  However, engine issues prevented the Lancer’s participation in the Gulf War.  It would be 1998 before B-1Bs would take part in Operation Desert Fox and undertake conventional combat operations.  That successful mission against Saddam Hussein’s regime would presage deployments in Kosovo, the invasion of Iraq, Operation Enduring Freedom, and they continue to perform “armed overwatch” in support of ground forces in Afghanistan today.

B-1B Lancer bombing run

Of the original 100 built, only 93 remain in the inventory and a good portion of those are in reserve storage.  Without the refits and upgrades that the Obama administration has placed on hold, the aging B-1Bs are looking ahead to retirement in the 2030s.  Debate continues over the true effectiveness of the Lancer as further deployment of the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber continues.

Further information on “Bone” can be found on the U.S. Air Force website on the B-1B Lancer Fact Sheet or in the Air Force documentary below.

 

b-1b bomber takes off over vegas at night

Lost and Found – December 20th Edition

What to remember about December 20th…

  • 1783  Virginia cedes western territory reaching as far as Mississippi River
  • 1803  French peacefully surrender New Orleans to America as part of Louisiana Purchase
  • 1946  Classic Christmas film It’s a Wonderful Life is released in New York; Frank Capra movie stars James Stewart and Donna Reed
  • 1957  Elvis Presley receives his draft notice during the Korean War; he served in West Germany in a tank battalion
  • 1963 For the 1st time in 2 years East Germany allows westerners to enter on one-day passes through the Berlin Wall
  • 1989  After the murder of a U.S. Marine by Panamanian police December 16th, American forces invade in Operation Just Cause
  • 2005  US District Court rules against mandating teaching of “intelligent design” in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.

Lost and Found – December 19th Edition

What to remember about December 19th…

  • 1732  Benjamin Franklin first publishes Poor Richard’s Almanac
  • 1776  Thomas Paine published his American Crisis pamphlet to boost flagging Patriot morale:

“These are the times that try men’s souls; the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

  • 1777  Continental Army enters its winter encampment at Valley Forge
  • 1828  Vice President John C. Calhoun submits his South Carolina Exposition and Protest to state legislature; argument for states rights and nullification of federal excesses
  • 1942  Adolf Hitler fires many top generals and appoints himself Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the German Army
  • 1972  Splashdown of Apollo 17 capsule in the Pacific marks end of program and last human visit to the Moon
  • 1984  Britain agrees to give sovereignty over Hong Kong to the Chinese government
  • 1998  House of Representatives approves 2 articles of impeachment against President Clinton; 1 each  for perjury and obstruction

1733-poor-richards-almanack

Lost and Found – December 18th Edition

What to remember about December 18th…

  • 1620  After scouting a suitable location for settlement and signing Compact, Pilgrims anchor Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor
  • 1777  Declared by Continental Congress after victory at Battle of Saratoga, America celebrates 1st national day of thanksgiving
  • 1865   Secretary of State Seward certifies that enough states have ratified Republican proposed 13th Amendment to the Constitution; slavery is finally abolished in America
  • 1915  Woodrow Wilson marries his second wife Edith Bolling Galt at her home while still serving as President; after his stroke, she will assume power and act as secret president
  • 1946  American filmmaker Steven Spielberg is born in Cincinnati, Ohio; one of the most prominent directors in history
  • 1973  Islamic Development Bank is established to support and promote worldwide Sharia banking standards
  • 1996  Oakland, California school board officially recognizes “Ebonics” as a language
  • 2011  Playwright, anti-communist dissident, and 1st President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Havel dies (b. 1936)

Edith Wilson poses a parylized President Wilson so public will think that the nation is still led by its elected leadership.

Lost and Found – December 17th Edition

What to remember about December 17th…

  • 1777  France formally recognizes the United States as an independent nation; victory at Saratoga convinces them we have a chance
  • 1862  Enraged by black market profiteering and speculation, General U.S. Grant orders all Jews to leave Military district under his authority; later he admits decision rash and criticism justified
  • 1903  Orville and Wilbur Wright make the 1st powered flight of a heavier-than-air craft in history near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
  • 1935  Douglas DC-3 (military C-47) makes its 1st flight; many of these aviation workhorses are still in service today
  • 1941  Rear Admiral Husband E. Kimmel is relieved of command of U.S. Pacific Fleet following Pearl Harbor attack; no more at fault than many others,FDR makes him a scapegoat
  • 1944  Public Proclamation 21 declares that internment of Japanese Americans is ending and that evacuees can return to their homes
  • 1944  1st of Malmedy massacres is committed by SS Kampfgruppe Peiper; hundreds of U.S. POWs and Belgians executed
  • 1969  USAF closes Project Blue Book; study of purported UFO sightings concludes there is no evidence of extraterrestrial activity
  • 1975  Charles Manson devotee Lynette Alice “Squeaky” Fromme is sentenced to life for attempted assassination of President Ford
  • 1997  Firearms Act of 1997 goes into effect in Great Britain; extends gun ban to include all but antique and show weapons; through 2008 firearms crimes and deaths have doubled in the UK
  • 2003  Privately owned and developed SpaceShipOne makes 1st supersonic flight; piloted by Brian Binnie
  • 2011  U.S. announces that the last troops have left Iraq; War is over?

Lost and Found – December 16th Edition

What to remember about December 16th…

  • 1773  Outraged at British tax policy, Samuel Adams and 60 members of the Sons of Liberty dump tea cargoes of 3 ships into harbor; 1st Boston Tea Party
  • 1811  Estimated 8.6 magnitude earthquake rocks New Madrid fault in Missouri; landscape dramatically altered and Mississippi River flows backwards in places
  • 1944  Massive German counter-attack surprises Allied troops in Belgium; Battle of the Bulge begins
  • 1950  President Truman declares state of emergency following Chinese entry into Korean War with hundreds of thousands of troops
  • 1989  1st of 4 pipe bombs sent by Walter LeRoy Moody arrives; Federal Judge Robert Vance killed instantly
  • 1998  President Clinton orders airstrikes against Iraq for failing to cooperate with UN weapons inspectors; political observers see attacks as an attempt to distract public from ongoing impeachment proceedings; see movie Wag the Dog