Thursday, December 8, 2016

John Glenn - An American Hero - Dead at 95


Col John Herschel Glenn, Jr.,  died today at the ripe old age of 95.  John Glenn (born in July 18, 1921) had just graduated college when WW II started up in 1941.  He ended up in the US Marine Corps and became a Marine fighter pilot flying 59 combat missions in the Marshall Islands in his F4U Corsair.  He was promoted to captain shortly before the end of the war.  During the Korean War (sometimes called the Korean Conflict by the more PC) he flew the F9F Panther jet interceptor on 63 combat missions getting the nickaname "magnet ass" because he seemed to attract so much enemy flack.  Actually, it was because he liked to fly in low and actually "see the enemy" at whom he we shooting rather than taking "pot shots" from a safer, higher altitude.  On a two occasions he came home with 250 combat holes in his planes.  Later he logged 27 more combat missions in the newer F-86F Sabre and shot down three MiG-15s near the Yalu river.  That is a LOT of combat missions!!

Anyway, after the Korean peace talks, on July 16, 1957, John flew a supersonic, transcontinental flight from NAS L.A. to Bennett Field NY in 3 hours, 23 minutes and 8.3 seconds - despite three subsonic re-fuelings to set a new (at that time) world record.  Quite a feat considering that he took time to fly over his home town at Mach 2 to rattle the windows and let them know that he just went by the place.

Also, Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth, aboard Friendship 7 on February 20, 1962, on the Mercury-Atlas 6 mission, circling the globe three times during a flight lasting 4 hours, 55 minutes, and 23 seconds.  This made Glenn the third American in space and the fifth human being in space.  After that, the president(s) would not let him back into space to risk losing a truly great American hero.

But, Robert Kennedy suggested back in Dec of '62 that John run for the US Senate.  In 1970 he did run and he was narrowly defeated in a general election race to Howard Metzenbaum.  In 1974 he ran again and he defeated Metzenbaum with what was called the "Gold Star Mother's" speech.   He ran for president much later (once) but would not bow to "party politics".  He was described a "painfully honest" man and not suited for a run for president.  Way too honest to be a politician.  But, he remained a Senator for 30 years.  The folks from Ohio seemed to like his home-town honesty.

Col John Glenn returned space on October 29, 1998.  This time at the age of 77.  NASA wanted to know what would be the effect of space on the elderly in case they wanted to go further into our solar system.  They discovered that John handled it just fine.

All in all, good bye John.  We will miss you.  Truly the last of dying breed.  A truly great American Hero. Godspeed John. 


Credit:  Almost all of this info was extracted in parts and pieces from Wikipedia and various Fox News shows.  Thanks guys.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor Attack


Well, so far the only thing that I have seen on national TV about Pearl Harbor is a quick quip on "The Five" on Fox.  Not much there at all.  President Obama is making a "good bye" speech to the military about how great a military leader he has been (he never served in the military) and VP Biden is on a late-night show.  Maybe later someone else will have something to say later tonight and I will amend this post.

Anyway, at 6:45 a.m. Honolulu-time tomorrow morning, December 7th, 1941, Sunday morning, the first shots were fired for/against the USA in WW II.  The Japanese had sent six midget submarines into Pearl Harbor.  They were supposed to trail larger ships into the harbor so that they would not be noticed.  However, one was trailing the cargo ship Antares (just after the anti-submarine net had been pulled back up) and an alert crewman aboard the Wickes-class destroyer U.SS. Ward saw them.  They opened fire with a 4"/50 cal deck gun and hit the sub just behind the starboard side of the sub's tower.  It sank immediately.

However, 70 minutes later, at 7:05 a.m. Honolulu-time, the main attack attack cam roaring in to a totally unprepared base.  About the only anti-aircraft guns were on board the burning battle ships so the guys on the ground found some Stinger guns that were supposed to be mounted on the aircraft because they did not have the heat dispersion capability of regular machine guns.  But they did have a much higher rate of fire.  The 30-cal ANM2 30 cal had a 1,300 rpm (rounds per minute) rate of fire and the larger 50 cal had an 805 rpm rate of fire.  The men used all kinds of contraptions to mount the guns and returned fire and brought down a few of the attacking planes.

One of the stories from that day caught my eye:  Marine PFC Melvin Thompson was on guard duty when the Japanese planes began their attack on Ewa, about 7 miles from the main base.  He got so angry that he just stepped out of the guard shack, pulled his .45 pistol and started firing at the incoming planes.  Years later, the 27-year old Lt. Yoshio Shiga remembers seeing Thompson's tenacity and fighting spirit and described the lone marine as "the braves American I have ever met."

One other thing: One of the subs ran out of battery power before it could get into the bay and ran aground on Bellows Army Airfield.   Lt. Plybon and Cpl. Akui (US Army) went to investigate a man lying on the beach.  it was 23-year-ols Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki who became the first POW of WW II.

One final fact: of the 2,400+ dead, 1,100+ are still entombed in the USS Arizona that is upside down in the bay.  Until 9/11/2001 it was the largest single loss of American life in one day in American history.  And to have our American politicans ignore it is deplorable.

One of the best movies on this is "Tora! Tora! Tora!"  (Meaning, "Tiger!  Tiger!   Tiger!"  The Japanese code that the attack was a complete surprise.)  It shows the attack from both sides of view and, I think, shows the immaculate planning that went into the attack without taking sides.



BTW, can you remember when the last American president to serve as Commander-in-Chief was actually a veteran of the armed services in some capacity?  Sad, isn't it?

Update, 8 December:  OK, here are some updates:
  • Donald Trump was in NC last night and he mentioned Pearl Harbor as well as the 82nd Airborne (The AA or All American) and the US Marine camp nearby.
  • Today, Fox gave lots of short coverage shots of the ceremonies at Honolulu.  Greg Gutfeld and others promoted a book that just came out, "All the Gallant Men" by Donald Stratton, a survivor of the USS Arizona.  He had 60% burns on his body but returned to duty after several months in the hospital.  I suggest strongly that you get the book if you have any interest in that period.
  • Today CNBC both gave 45 second shots from time to time about the ceremonies going on but nobody seemed to want to carry the whole thing.  There was a "moment" of silence on all shows at 11:55 CST but not a whole minute.  Oh, well...
  • There are still 5 remaining survivors of the USS Arizona and four of those five attended the ceremonies in Honolulu today.  There are about 2,400 survivors of the attack still alive, the oldest being about 104.