Monthly Archives: April 2017

Presidential Trivia – Ulysses S. Grant

Think you know a lot about the President of the United States?  Let us dig down into the dustbin of history and see what we can find.

Our candidate today is:  Ulysses S. Grant (born. Hiram Ulysses Grant), 18th President of the United States

  • Born April 27, 1822 in Point Pleasant, Ohio
  • Died July 23, 1885, Mount McGregor, Saratoga Springs, New York
  • Height: 5’8″
  • Childhood and school activities:  Fishing; riding and breaking horses; worked in his fathers tannery
  • Education:  United States Military Academy at West Point (Nominated by Congressman Thomas L. Hamer, the application mistakenly listed the name “Ulysses S. Grant of Ohio”. Grant opted to let the mistake go and accepted the moniker “U.S. Grant”.)
  • Military Service:  United States Navy 1839-1854, 1861-1869, final rank General of the Army
  • Civilian profession: Soldier, author
  • Married to Julia Boggs Dent (January 26, 1826 – December 14, 1902) at White Haven plantation west of St. Louis, Missouri
  • Children: Frederick Dent Grant, Ulysses S. Grant, Jr., Ellen Wrenshall Grant, Jesse Root Grant
  • Political Party – Republican
  • Term of office:  August 9, 1974 – January 20, 1977
  • At 46 years old, he was the youngest man to that time elected to the presidency.
  • Early in life his political leanings were Democrat.  However, during the Civil War, Grant became and voted Republican.
  • Having received a slave from his father-in-law, Grant freed William Jones in 1859 despite being in need of money.
  • Though rumors of drunkenness dogged his career, Grant actually suffered from debilitating migraines that often left him “hung over” and irritable.
  • Grant’s offer to return to military service after the attack on Ft. Sumter was lost by the War Department until after the Civil War had ended.  He joined the Union army as Colonel of the unruly 21st Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment.
  • Eschewing pomp and finery, Grant often wore a privates uniform with stars of rank as the only adornment.
  • He accepted the surrender of Confederate forces under General Robert E. Lee (whom he had served with in the Mexican-American War) at Appomattox Courthouse.  He allowed Confederate soldiers to retain their personal weapons and horses if they would return home in peace.
  • Grant oversaw ratification of the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”
  • Grant signed legislation establishing the Department of Justice, the Weather Bureau (now the National Weather Service) and Yellowstone National Park, America’s first national park.
  • During his terms of office, Grant strove to improve the living conditions of Native Americans, repair foreign relations with Great Britain, reconcile differences among the North and South, secure civil rights for all Americans, and annex (unsuccessfully) the Dominican Republic into the United States.
  • Grant is the first of only three Presidents to have graduated from the military academy – Grant (USMA – 1843), Eisenhower (USMA – 1915), Carter (USNA – 1947, accelerated to 1946)
  • Assassination attempts:  Grant had been invited to the performance at Ford’s Theatre with President Lincoln.  However, he declined so that he and his wife could visit their children in New Jersey.  John Wilkes Booth had previously stalked Julia Grant.
  • Grant is the first of only three Presidents to have graduated from the military academy – Grant (USMA – 1843), Eisenhower (USMA – 1915), Carter (USNA – 1947, accelerated to 1946)
  • He is buried beside his wife Julia in the General Grant National Memorial in Riverside Park, New York, New York; the largest mausoleum in North America. There is no “Grant’s Tomb”.
  • Hobbies:  horseback riding – he once received a speeding ticket from a Washington, D.C. police officer that didn’t recognize him
  • Famous quote: “The right of revolution is an inherent one. When people are oppressed by their government, it is a natural right they enjoy to relieve themselves of oppression, if they are strong enough, whether by withdrawal from it, or by overthrowing it and substituting a government more acceptable.” Personal Memoirs, 1885

President Ulysses S. Grant circa 1876

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Warbirds – A-6 Intruder

Today I’m feeling the love for the ugliest plane in the U.S. Navy, the A-6 Intruder.  This all-weather carrier based ground-attack aircraft has been lovingly nicknamed “Double Ugly”, “Drumstick”, and even “Iron Tadpole”.  The unique side-by-side crew configuration led to the rounded and big-nosed aspect of this hard-working plane.

Developed to not only to replace the aging propeller-driven AD- 6/7 Skyraider, she was designed for “over-the-shoulder” launching of nuclear weapons.  Never used for the latter role, variants of the Intruder have served the Navy and Marine Corps from 1963 to the present day.

The sturdy airframe and advanced suite of electronics allowed the Intruder to provide close air support for ground troops in Vietnam even through the blinding cloud cover and torrential rains of the monsoon season.  The first loss of an A-6 to combat occurred in 1965 with both crew surviving.  Of the 84 lost during the war, only 2 were shot down in air-to-air combat.  Intruders saw combat later in Lebanon, Desert Storm, Somalia, and Bosnia before they were retired.

In 1991 Congress cancelled the planned A-12 Avenger II replacement for the aging Intruders.  Avionics and electronics upgrades allowed them to remain operational through 1997 until sufficient LANTIRN-equiped F-14 Tomcats and F/A-18E/F Super Hornets came into service.  The specialized EA-6B, known as the Prowler, still remains in service however.  With it’s stretched airframe, fully integrated electronic warfare systems, and four-man crew, the EA-6B Prowler proudly honored its Intruder heritage with service in Iraq and ongoing roles in Afghanistan.

Feel free to learn more by visiting the Intruder Association website for more history, technical information, and trivia.

P.S. – Don’t forget the Stephen Coonts novel Flight of the Intruder or the film of the same name starring Danny Glover and Willem DaFoe.  Both are available at Amazon.com .

It’s Never Too Late To Stand Up For What You Believe In

Some will say it’s too hard or that they have no time.  Others will claim they have done their time or given enough.  A brave few – a tiny remnant of those among us – will still do what they know needs to be done.

Here is to Samuel Whittemore, aged 80.  Alone, he attacked a British relief column and killed three British soldiers on April 19, 1775 near Arlington, Massachusetts.  In the process he was shot in the face, bayoneted 13 times, and left for dead.  When found, he lay in a pool of his own blood; trying to reload his musket.  Out of what I would imagine is a pure stubborn refusal to allow the Redcoats the pleasure of his death, he recovered and lived to the ripe old age of 98.  He is rightly honored as the Official State Hero of Massachusetts.

samuel whittemore

Here we have the longest serving aircraft in the American air arsenal – the iconic B-52 Stratofortress.

Design for this leviathan began way back in 1946.  Developed to carry nuclear and conventional munitions for cold war deterrence, the BUFF (Big Ugly Flying Fellow) made its maiden flight on April 15, 1952.  Activily serving since 1955, 744 B-52’s have been built.  The last one constructed left the factory on October 26, 1962 yet there are no plans to replace it.  The combination of durability, affordability, and flexibility have led the Air Force to plan for the use of the B-52 through 2040.

B-52s have seen service during the Cold War, Vietnam, Operation Desert Storm,  Operation Allied Force in Yugoslavia, and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Footage of the modern B-52 in action.

Ever wonder what carpet bombing looks like?

BUFF has never dropped a nuclear device in combat but she did drop the first hydrogen bomb.

B-52 is number 1 of the worrld’s Top Ten Bombers of all time!

Just because she’s old that doesn’t mean she’s broke.  If you want to scare the crap out of some tinpot dictator, you can leave the cruise missiles at home.  Just tell him that the B-52s are in the air!

(FYI – BUFF also stands for Big Ugly Fat F#cker.)

UPDATE:  January 4th, 2017 – An unarmed B-52 on a training mission over Minot AFB lost an engine mid-flight – literally.  Due to a “catastrophic engine failure”, the assembly “shelled itself” according to Air Force officials.  Massive damage could have caused the engine housing or cowling to crumble and fail allowing the engine to plummet into a riverbed about 25 miles from the base.  The bomber landed safely and none of the 5 crew were reported injured. The aircraft in this incident was reported to have been built in 1961.

10 Commandments Of Logic

Pretty self-explanatory.  Perhaps someone should print these onto a card that will fit in your wallet.

10 commandments of logic

 

(Found on Facebook.  Thanks for sharing WB)

Warbirds – AV-8A Harrier

In honor of the Hawker Siddley Harrier’s first flight on April 1, 1969 , I present you with the latest edition of our ongoing “Warbirds” series.

The Harrier, as most people consider it, is actually a family of aircraft.  The first and only operational family of jump jets ever developed.  The main versions of the family in order of development are the Hawker Siddeley Harrier, British Aerospace Sea Harrier, Boeing/BAE Systems AV-8B Harrier II, and BAE Systems/Boeing Harrier II.  Initial work began on the series as early as 1957 in cooperation between airframe maker Hawker Aircraft and engine manufacturer Bristol Engine Company on the project P.1127.

What came from this project was a fixed-wing aircraft that absolutely embodies the spirit of aviation innovation.  First operational jump jet.  First capable of hovering.  First to fly backwards (WHAT!).

When you think of the Harrier, the first thing that comes to mind is often the Falklands War between Britain and Argentina in 1982.  Deep in the South Pacific and over 8,000 moles from home, the Harrier saw her first combat in some of the world’s worst flying conditions.  While deployed, Harriers flew over 2000 sorties – over six per aircraft per day.  though 10 Harriers of various types were lost to ground fire or mechanical failure, none were lost in air-to-air combat.

After the war, the first generation of Harriers saw continued Cold War tasking, but declining service with British and American forces.

Most of the continuing production was earmarked for export to NATO and allied countries.  But, this wasn’t because of any failings.  Rapid advances in avionics, navigation, and propulsion would give birth to a next generation of jump jet.  A new partnership between McDonnell Douglas and British Aerospace would soon bring the world the Harrier II.  These aircraft serve still today and have seen combat during the Gulf War, Yugoslavia, the Iraq War and Afghanistan.  Though slated to be replaced by the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II, the Harrier II still serves the USMC, British armed forces (G-5/7/9 series), Spanish Navy, and Italian Navy.

UPDATE:  2012  America suffers greatest aircraft loss since Vietnam when Afghan terrorists breach security at Camp Bastion; destroying 6 USMC Harriers and damaging 2 more.  In addition, 2 Marines and 9 Nato personnel lost their lives.