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From the Desk of Col George Dodenhoff, USMC – Part 6

November 9th, 2015 by xformed

Col Dodenhoff – Total Flight Hours 1943 Page – 19431226-450w.png

Subtitle: Flying the SNV-1, or “the Vultee Vibrator” (the assigned name “Valiant”)

As noted on the Wikipedia page linked above, the initial designation of this aircraft was the BT-13, and the SNV-1 was a batch of 1350 planes transferred to the US Navy. This airplane was the most produced primary fight trainer of all types in the WWII era.

I missed this new aircraft type in the Col’s logbook, until one of our breakfast crew, who had flow it himself in the early post-war time frame, exclaimed “Oh, he flew the Vibrator!” while looking at the logbooks.

Many years ago, I first was introduced to the Vultee Vibrator when Jim Helinger, Sr, walked up to one at Sun n’ Fun, placed his hand on the fuselage and said “We called this the Vibrator!”

Here is the December 1943 logbook entries noting Col Dode took his first fights in his second aircraft type, which was the normal progression for both Navy/Marine Corps and Army Air Corps trainees.

Click for a larger image

Jim, Sr did note this aircraft was the secondary trainer for those cadets marked for the fighter pilot assignments. I don’t recall the airframe that future bomber pilots would be next trained in.

Here’s some historical video, albeit from the Army Air Corps viewpoint, I’m reasonably certain the fight training in this aircarft would have been very similar in all services.

Bonus material: The BT-13 History Site.

Category: Aviation, Col Dodenhoff, History, Marines, Military, Military History, Navy | No Comments »

From the Desk of Col George Dodenhoff, USMC – Part 5

October 16th, 2015 by xformed

Col Dodenhoff – Total Flight Hours 1943 Page – 19431226-450w.png

Subtitle: Still in training in Dec 43

Col Dodenhoff had done plenty of flying in September and October of 43, but only had one flight in November, at Naval Air Station, Pasco, Washington, closeing out the year with 3 flights at Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi.

Click for a larger image

Just preceeding this time frame, the Marine Corps had just wrapped up the assault on Tarawa, one of the major battles of the Pacific, that defined the future of amphibious landing tactics and equipment.

Dode now has a total of 139.6 hours in the air, across 100 flights. Of that time, now 82.4 hours have been as a solo pilot, still in the standard basic primary trainer, the N2S-3.

Category: Col Dodenhoff, History, Marines, Military, Military History | No Comments »

From the Desk of Col George Dodenhoff, USMC – Part 4

October 7th, 2015 by xformed

Subtitle: First Solo

On September 21st, 1943, the Colonel took to the skies by himself. A critical step in the process of learning to fly anywhere, he did so with a total of 12 recorded dual control fight time. He would have been sitting in the aft seat of the N2S-3 BuNo 07759. As a point of reference by today’s training, a civilian private pilot’s license first solo flight doesn’t have a set number of hours to have, but it is at the discretion of the flight instructor to allow the first individual journey into the sky. I would assume (not being an aviator), similar in the military training realm.

He was aloft for 1.5 hours over NAS Corpus Christi (again an assumption on the location). with no notes at all, so it had to be a normal flight. I can’t find anything specific regarding the syllabus for a solo flight during that period, but I’m sure in included a variety of skills to be practiced.

Click for a larger image

Here’s some more historical video regarding Navy flight training, but not specific to the first solo flight.

Category: Col Dodenhoff, History, Marines, Military, Navy | No Comments »

Oct 2, 1992: (Very) Shortly After Midnight – USS SARATOGA – Part VIII

October 2nd, 2015 by xformed

This is the video of the talk given at Tactical Training Croup, Atlantic about April 1993, after having conducted certification of most all of the Atlantic Fleet NSSMS units. LCDR Don Diehl had sat through the Court of Inquiry, having been sent TAD from the USS GEORGE WASHINGTON as COMNAVAIRLANT’s subject matter expert on Combat Direction Center (CDC) Operations. Rather conducting a oral board on the operators on the ships, Don basically told the story of what happened, interspersed with questions of the people who manned the various stations to check their knowledge. In this manner, he helped convey the circumstances, so the other crews could learn from the mistakes. Don has since passed away, but he was a great inspector and instructor for the team across the several months we spent traveling the world together.

Category: History, Maritime Matters, Military, Military History, Navy | No Comments »

From the Desk of Col George Dodenhoff, USMC – Part 3

September 30th, 2015 by xformed

Subtitle: First Flight

On September 10th, 1943, Dode made his first recorded flight. He would have been sitting in the forward seat, with Lt Doran (service unidentified – it could have been wither a Marine, or, maybe more likely due to the missing “2” or “1,” may well have been a Naval aviator) in the rear seat as his instructor pilot.

Flying 1.5 hours, he began his career as a Marine Aviator. Without comment in the notes section, it must have been a routine flight.

Based on the equipment issued page (the one preceding this page), I’m going to presume the flight occurred at Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi, TX.

Click for a larger image

His aircraft logged was the ubiquitous N2S, the legendary primary trainer in WWII, but better known to many as the Stearman PT-17, Bureau Number (or “BuNo” in official abbreviation for future reference in this series) 07732. The particular variant, the -3 version, one of 1875 delivered to the US Navy, with the Continental R-670-4 Radial engine.

Click for a larger image

“Boeing Stearman N67193” by Juergen Lehle – Own work (See also AlbSpotter Flugzeugbilder Aircraft Photos). Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

The actual manufacturer’s formal designation was the Boeing-Stearman Model 75 The N2S was the Navy designation. for the aircraft. In this regard, he was having the common experience for the aviators of this time. This airframe was used by the US and Canadian forces, with over 10K of them being made between the production in the 30s and 40s. After WWII, they were sold as surplus, helping kickstart the General Aviation market for private pilots. These surplus planes were widely used for crop dusting and airshows for wing walkers.

Some of the type of training for flying Col Dodenhoff would have received would have been like what is contained in this WWII flight training video:

Category: Aviation, Col Dodenhoff, History, Marines, Military, Military History | No Comments »

It’s Time for A Make Over (of the blog)

September 27th, 2015 by xformed

With the recent return to the posting section here, it reminded me how the structure of the blog has been in need of some effort to catch up on the changes of time and WordPress, but, importantly as well, just the maintenance of the information presented here for viability as sources.

I spent about an hour a few nights ago working my way down the blogroll links. It evoked some interesting thoughts.

– Some of the blogs are gone. As I pondered that, the recollections of the resaon for interaction and the content of those sites came back, some in more detail that others, and many I found as a result of work with the Soldier’s Angels projects, particularly of note being the Project ValOUR IT that provided laptops with voice activated software to our injured troops.

– Some blogs have had their domains purchased by others and now, while the link is live, it’s nothing related to the one I linked to some many years ago.

– Some blogs are present, but, the last entries are years ago, some have the last post indicating the posting had come to an end and this was a digital goodbye, while others are frozen in time.

– And the rest are still there, some plugging along, still posting new items, but the tenor has changed with the World and history’s diffrences from the time when we were very actively engaged in a large sacle effort to combat an enemy with conventional and special forces.

On one hand, we have come to believe, what is posted on the net, stays on the net and never dies. That’s true and false, depending on whether a site stays active. Be it Facebook, or a personally owned and managed blog, if it even drops it’s registartion, the content, unlike that of a hard copy document, is gone. Unless someone has diligently copied the full text/media to their site, then the link gets “broken” and that snippet of detail so linked is gone.

I’ll caveat this with the site of, where, if they have crawled a site, you may be able to find that old info you seek. I just went ant looked, for the remembrance of it all, for the well read, well written, pretty much my favorite blog of all time, Neptunus Lex. It’s long since been off the air, and thankfully not hijacked for the purposes of leeching off his massive daily traffic and backlinks. The link posted is to the snapshot taken by the recording process on the day after Capt Lex had “died with is boots on.” March 6th, 2012, an afternoon “hop” to train our future warriors in the air got enmeshed in the bad weather and he died trying to land his F-21 in high winds and pretty much no visibility. Even as recently as a few weeks ago, I told someone who’s grandson wants to fly that it was a shame Lex’s blog wasn’t still there, for it, even without his personal advice to a specific request, was a massive archive of career guidance. So, the prior comment on it all going away isn’t completely true, but it can be if the “Way Back Machine” didn’t get around to your site as frequently as needed to make your content immortal. I have noted that when using the site for some business work. Certainly the well traveled sites will be there.

In the scanning of the links that were active, I gleaned some information, one bit being Maj Chuck Zigenfuss, the man who was the inspiration and first ValOUR IT user retired from the Army in January of this year. He was one of those exceptional leaders I met along the way in the MilBlogging world, and I suspect he was that to his troops and his commanders. His work, along with Beth’s has provided over 6000 laptops to those in need, and still does today.

SteelJaw Scribe sill presents news from his world and provides analysis of the geo-political side, too. Cdr Salamander’s site is probably the most active MilBlog going. One of the leaders in the Milblogging world, GreyHawk, who’s site was the Mudville Gazette, is one of those sites that has been taken over. Matt Burden of Black Five is still there, and some basic posts are being done.

Enough of the reminiscing. I will be cleaning up the no longer useful links/sidebar entires to begin, then I will go hunting a more up-to-date theme. For those who have been at this across the versions of WordPress 1.x to the 4 series, know this isn’t just a few clicks of effort. On top of that, I need some housekeeping in the main content world, to clean up little glitches that have occured as I moved the main data table forward. For over 1300 posts, there will be some detail work needed.

Anyhow, blogs are not forever (sort of), so I’ll make my final point: It’s it’s worth hanging on to, pull it out and ant least create a book out of it, even if it’s just a big Word document to be passed along.

Category: Blogging, Charities, History, Military, Stream of Consciousness, Valour-IT | No Comments »

From the Desk Of Col George Dodenhoff, USMC – Part 2

September 27th, 2015 by xformed

Subtitle: Gear issue

Click for the large image

I do not have any indication of the date of the picture, but judging from the flight gear (the headgear in particular), it would be pre-Korean War era, since hard style helmets were in place during those times based on my research. The plane is a Corsair airframe of some sort, of which his logs showed, across the many hours, both the F4U and FG-1 models, which would appear the same in this view.

From his DD 214: Born in Brooklyn, NY on 2February 28th, 1923, George also was claiming residence when he was commissioned in the Marines on June 1st, 1944, showing that as his home of record. I don’t have a record of his date of actual entry into service, but he must have been in an aviation cadet program of some sort, as you will see in his logbook as we explore his history. Other service noted was 1 year, 5 months, 23 days for his total service time. That would put him enlisting for his service on December 9th, 1942. He was 19 years old when he raised his right hand and took his oath of office for military service.

Opening the logbook, the first page is the record of equipment issued:

Click for a larger image

Note in the picture of the equipment issued, the rank of “A/Co” seems to be scribbled through and “2ndLT” written next to it. Equipment appears to be mostly issued ar Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi, TX on June 2nd, 1943 under the signature stamp of CAPT J.M. Easter (SC). That date aligns with the next important event in the retelling of the history of Dode.

A connected bit of history from the NAS Corpus Christi wikipedia page is George was on the base at the same time President George H.W. Bush was graduating from his fight training in June 1943.

Next stop: First flight!

Category: Aviation, Col Dodenhoff, History, Marines, Military | No Comments »

From the Desk Of Col George Dodenhoff, USMC – Part 1

September 24th, 2015 by xformed

This will be a series, combining hard copy personal historical documents, web based research and finally, the years of story telling I was so blessed to have been the recipient. Col Dodendhoff had had a full career of history making events, seemingly small at the time, and when they happened, seen by him as just another day at “work,” but in retrospect, when the larger record of the surrounding events and circumstances can be linked together, some remarkable stories appear.

First off: The previous post has the memorial service for Col Dodenhoff, where he was honored by his family, friends and neighbors.

For the last few years, when “Dode” couldn’t drive any longer, a few of us took turns being duty driver of the staff car to get him to our bi-monthly Saturday morning breakfast meetings. In the last year, I did it a bit more frequently than the others, and many days, upon return to his residence, I’d spend some time keeping his computer system running smoothly and helping him get the pictures of the association monthly art displays downloaded from his camera to be printed for the historical record of the activities of his building complex.

The book shelf above the computer and monitor held several models, mostly factory type carved wooden ones, which represented a small portion of his flying career. I asked for more detail, and in addition to the trips to and from breakfast, I received even more data points.

His wife, Priscilla, has graciously given me his models, his log books, snap shots taken while on cruise, some military and civilian newspapers and a coveted trophy he won in a bombing competition in 1955.

In a serial manner, I will try to summarize the Col’s 29 years in the service of our nation as a Marine Aviator, pulling together what I can document, find and recall to provide some context of his place in history as a Marine, and as an aviator.

In any case where I place a picture within the post entry so it fits the page restrictions, I will post the full sized version that can be seen via a link with the picture. Logbooks being logbooks, they are hand written, so a good quality picture is the best way to see what it says and OCR is out of the question.

With that intro, look forward to checking back regularly to see the additional posts in the series, and I will publish the recountings in the timeline sequence in which that actually occurred. Please, if you have supporting information, post it in the comments to connect any other dots with documenting!

Click the picture for the full sized image

Click the picture for the full sized image

What’s inside? Return for the full accounting of the real life adventures of Col Dode.

Category: Aviation, Col Dodenhoff, History, Marines, Military, Military History | No Comments »

Fair Winds and Following Seas: COL George Dodenhoff, USMC, Ret

September 18th, 2015 by xformed


“Dode” was a WWII veteran, joining the Marines in 1942. His first combat was on Okinawa with VMF-311, the Hell’s Belles, flying CAS missions in the F4U-8. Of note, VMF-311 were the first to use the F4U in the close air support role. His career later had him assigned to the famed VMF-214 in Korea, flying CAS for the Chosin Reservoir battle. He continued on to complete a 29 year career, comprised of a cross training assignment with the USAF flying the F-86 and serving in the Congo, Vietnam, and other duties that included a tour at the Naval War College. He passed away August 6th, 2015.

I have been provided access to the items from his desk, where I spent a number of hours, working on his computer and listening to the stories of an old warrior and leader over about a decade. My intention is to put together as much material as is possible from his notes, log books and models and document my recollection of his career oral history I was able to hear.

For the first stop, with his wife, Priscilla’s permission, is to share the memorial service for Col Dodenhoff.

More to follow in a series I’ll post as “From the Desk of Col D.”

Category: History, Leadership, Marines, Military, Military History | No Comments »

Your Family is More Than a Set of “Hood Oranaments”

June 27th, 2014 by xformed

Doing a little exercise, but it’s a story that has merit, lessons learned, and about listening:

I loved my work in the Navy. Actually I just love working on engaging projects. From the time I entered the service on active duty, I dove into my jobs. Not only did I strive for excellence, I seemed to have the bad habit of always creating a side project because, you know, the Navy needed help.

So there I was, married to a beautiful woman, with a daughter and a son, a home owner, despite the moves for the service needs, and certainly great fitness reports. The other part was bringing work home, and if a vacation was taken outside of home, I usually took work, even, IIRC, hauling my trusty Apple ][+ and monitor on one.

Having exceeded 12 some years time in service, the strain on my wife was far more than I’d paid attention to. Before we had kids, she worked and went to school, and we decided together that she would stay home until later. She did, and I went about being a workaholic.

One of the most profound things she said to me, one night when the words weren’t exactly kind, was “You realize you’re doing all this extra work and you’re being promoted right along with your peers!” I, of course, wasn’t in the listening mode, at least not to absorb it and pay attention. It has stuck, so the fact is I did hear it. At the time it had no impact. I believed I was correct, and my extra projects, that stole my connection with my family (my choice), I figured were still more important.

If that was the moment, or not, it was a defining moment. We grew further apart, going through the motions for about 5 more years, when I was just told “I’m tired of this” and the separation, without my argument (knowing I was still right), lead to the divorce. It’s not like it’s a unique story, but the reality was she was absolutely correct. As the Navy was in the throughs of downsizing in the mid-90s, when the Selective Early Retirement Board for FY96 reported out, my name was on the list, and one of my peers, in particular, who had actually professionally

Category: Military | 1 Comment »

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