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 | Comments Off on From the Desk Of Col George Dodenhoff, USMC – Part 2

And then there are Shipmates from another hull

February 3rd, 2014 by xformed

Table of contents for A Cruise Book Comes Home

  1. And then there are Shipmates from another hull

I haven’t been popping in here much the last few years. My apologies.

I do have a very new twist on the things that this blog has done for me, and others. It’s been a connecting point and in December, and email arrived in my mailbox to the email address for this blog:

Subj: Cruise Book

I have a USS Milwaukee cruise book from the ’78-’79 cruise. There are some coffee (I’m assuming it’s coffee) stains on some of the pages covering the Ops department, but aside from that it’s in pretty good shape. If you would like to have it, send me your address and I can send it to you. Regards, Mark.

Mark hasn’t a clue mine was left behind in one of those unfortunate relationship breakups several years back, so he thinks it’s a nice gesture, but it’s far more than that, it’s a piece of personal history I never thought I’d see again. I’m exceptionally grateful for this simple gesture that means so much on this end.

I send the address and an offer to pay the postage. He turns me down and sends it compliments of another MSLF “fat ship” guy the same day.

Just short of a week later, it’s here. My time capsule, opened after 34 years. Ah, the memories, but I know most people landing here will fully comprehend what letters on a screen can’t convey.

There will be more on this, but some background:

I was the CDIO (Collateral Duty Intel Officer), which included the Intelligence Photography course. We had a developing lab and the chemicals on the ship, way back aft, starboard side below the main deck somewhere. Some of my OSs allowed me to come and learn how to develop film, and I spent some time there, and I seem to recall, we did our own pictures of the crew for the layout to save costs in production. I probably developed and printed a number of those in the book.

Another collateral duty assigned was as Public Affairs Officer. Yes, you guessed, the publication fell under my responsbilities. It didn’t hurt that I had been on the staff of my Senior Year’s yearbook, doing layout with the then girl friend, Palua, who roped me into such work. I did go willingly, if you have to ask.

I detached from MILWAUKEE very shortly after returning to Norfolk for my training for Pre-Comm LEFTWICH at FCTCL Dam Neck, but had a few weeks off before training began. I checked back aboard AOR-2 to finish the layout of the Cruise Book in that time.

As you see, this was much more than a memento of a cruise, it is evidence of my professional assigned duties as well.

Mark wasn’t a shipmate, but he served aboard USS SYLVANNIA (AFS-2) a few years ealier. I haven’t gotten the details of his procurement of “my” Cruise Book, but it matters not. The cruise of Oct 78-Apr 79 was with the USS SARATOGA (CV-60) BG, and USS SYLVANNIA was one of the units that supported us. While not directly assigned to the BG, the AFS units were on an altered deployment pattern, yet she sailed with us to resupply the BG units on numerous occasions and there are shots of her in the book.

The final background note for today’s post: The coffee stains (not bad ones, but noticeable) were on OC Division: I was COMMO for the cruise.

Category: Blogging, History, Maritime Matters, Military, Military History, Navy | Comments Off on And then there are Shipmates from another hull

And Just Where Did the Builder’s Plaques Go?

April 7th, 2013 by xformed

The USS CARR (FFG-53) has been decommissioned 3/13/2013. This story can now be told.

In a time far gone (October 1988 to be more precise), two XOs, at turnover, bought into the idea of the outgoing one: There were but a few of the 50 contract required brass plaques from the builder of the ship left. Wouldn’t it a great idea if two were set aside, passed down the years, in a ritual only known to the Ship’s XOs, to be presented to the final CO and XO?

I thought Tom Brown’s idea was excellent. We picked two of the about 5 left from Todd Shipyard, and we typed up a turnover sheet. The outgoing XO signed and noted the next duty station, and the incoming XO signed to accept the responsibility for the safekeeping of these two mementos for the future.

Over the years, I often thought about emailing the seated XO and asking if they were still “standing the watch” so to speak, but I refrained.

I was unable to attend the final moment of the CARR’s service to the Nation, but I contacted the closet one to what should have been the end game, the decommissioning CO, CDR Patrick Kulakowski. In the first email, I didn’t disclose the exact details, just asked to get ahold of his XO, to check on something that had been put in place years ago.

Here was his response:

We found a Manila folder and note about pass down of two plaques from Todd; however, they are long gone…log ended in 2001…

While the entire plan didn’t survive, the evidence of it did. Not bad to make it hang on for 12-13 years, but…who were the two XOs in question in 2001, or possibly the next turn over?

It may have been an oversight if the ship had a major maintenance period about then, or it might have been someone wanted to have a piece of the Ship’s history for themselves…

Any input appreciated, just for the sake of a good, honest “Sea Story” that really didn’t begin like “Once upon a time…”

Category: "Sea Stories", History, Military, Military History, Navy | Comments Off on And Just Where Did the Builder’s Plaques Go?

Farewell, CAPT Carroll LeFon, USN (Ret)

March 12th, 2012 by xformed

Updated: 3/12/2012 PM.

It’s been a week now, since the phone call from AW1 Tim popped up on my phone in the early evening. I was busy at Home Depot, so I figured “I’ll call him back tomorrow.” Later that evening, before shutting down for the night, I saw the back channel emails and listened to Tim’s message. As soon as the first “F-21 crash” hit my ears, I thought as they did, and s they did, prayed we wouldn’t hear the worst of news, yet still knowing, the minimum: The pilot had died. Bad news would be coming for someone.

I’m not sure exactly when I found Lex’s Blog, but this I know: It was some of the most engaging writing on the blogs, right up there with a Army National Guard CPT from California and the Army Tanker who rolled into Fallujah. All of them were real, and discussed life in the active duty word in terms I could connect with.

Over the many years of reading, along came the only line, highly factual novel: “Rythyms.” What an incredible read that was. I’ve told countless people “it reads better than a Clancy novel, and has enough detail to keep us (vets/military members) in it, yet he explains thing happening on the ship and in the cockpit so people with exposure to the life will understand.” Something about his way with words. He could seat you in the plane, make you feel the launch and the thrills and the boredom and the terror of night landings…

His blog became my “hub” or gateway to other websites in the MilBlogging world, being the first one I checked in for news, humor, analysis, and just life stuff that Lex would write.

I began admiring his writing from the words on the screen standpoint, but also saw something special…actually, many things:

  • He was a mentor: Many posts on his site are related to the advice he gave, or was asked on him. Not only did he had great answers, that he shared, he turned the commenters loose to help out. Oh, what amazing guidance, from the old school to the current crop of those in uniform. The comments on any post at his site are not to be missed.
  • He was a humble leader. Many of his stories were encoded with that understanding of “the system.”
  • Well read, beyond the NATOPS manuals and the like, in classical literature, philosophy, and history.
  • He was a leader who valued those working with him. The stories told that, but in this world of blogging, his site was a lot of him leading the way, then having those in the blogoshpere/virtual peanut gallery take over to
  • He was a man of conviction. Solid vision.
  • A family man, who cared deeply about his real family, and his extended ones.

The man was many things. I only briefly met him and spoke with him at the 2006 MilBlogging Conference. I sometimes emailed him, with questions, or things I found that may be of interest. Some links got published…..I had a response where they were appropriate.

He inspired me at many levels. I, having seen the opening line of his work “Rythyms,” commenced my own version, having stood my first watches as an assigned officer on a replenishment ship that ran with Battle Groups, and many a time, I was watching the carrier to our port side, first as a Junior Officer of the Deck, and later, as the Officer of the Deck, responsible for the comings and goings of the ships alongside, the helos off the aft deck and the supplies moving via “connected replenishment” (CONREP) or by helo (VERTREP). I learned a lot, and he story gave me a foothold by putting the eyes of the OOD of an AOR into the picture. The story is “Life in the Fat Ship Navy,” and is presently an uncompleted work. I have been fortunate enough to have received a few emails over the years, saying how I took tham back to many years ago, and got their minds churning, remembering the sounds, sights and smells of it all. A tribute to Lex’s style, which I endeavored to “mimic.”

But that wasn’t all. His virtual demeanor constantly made me think as to how I might communicate more fully, yet concisely. All of his writing was a model of how to do that….and it begged for being an absorbed quality.

Years ago, I stumbled upon “High Calling: The Courageous Life and Faith of Space Shuttle Columbia Commander Rick Husband”, a similar man, by my best recollections of the read. Devoted to their families, their profession and their faith. While Col Husband’s wife, Evelyn, penned that wonderful book, telling the story of a great man and leader and husband and pilot, Lex’s readers have been able to do this, telling stories of all manner of his life and interactions with others, and conveying how they were blessed by CAPT LeFon’s life. In a week, there are over 1400 comments on the Open Thread, put up by the only other person who could log onto Lex’s Blog, Whisper. If you’d like to see, as someone on Facebook pointed out, what the “dash” on your headstone represents, there are about 1400 descriptions there for the world to see.

—Updated portion—
Shortly after posting, I remembered a few back channel and out in the open discussions Lex and I had. We professionally “CPAed” (Closest Point of Approach) certainly by an association, if not within a few hundred yards of each other in the summer of 1979. It would have made Lex a 3rd Class Middie, on cruise aboard the USS NICHOLSON (DD-982). I was in the Ingalls Shipbuilding yard, as part of the commissioning crew of USS LEFTWICH (DD-984), still, at the time, uncommissioned. I recalled the USS NICHOLSON pulled in on the West Bank yard side for dry docking to repair damaged propeller. It seems she had been backing into a slip in GTMO during Shakedown training and found a coral head near the landward end. Turns out, Lex was aboard at least at the time of the grounding incident, but we found our connection via the Commanding Officer of NICHOLSON at the time. It seems the discussion was something about how “Black Shoe” leadership was so much different from that of the Aviation community. Of course, he could say this then, in the mid-2000s. Turned out I was on DESRON 32 when the same officer was the Commodore, and that, was something we shared in common, despite being separated by time, community and coasts across our careers.
—End Update—

We lost a great man. His wife and family are left with but a legacy, but also the gratitude of many who were positively touched in this life by a man who was larger than himself, yet never penned (typed) a word that would lead you to believe he was anything more than one of us….and in that, there is a great lesson for me.

Category: History, Leadership, Maritime Matters, Military, Military History, Navy, Stream of Consciousness | 3 Comments »

WRAPing up the year – 2011: Breakfast with history

January 2nd, 2012 by xformed


Click for a larger version

The year (last one, that is) finished with the annual picture of the assorted old guys and “guests” after we had breakfast, a week before Christmas. One from last year was unable to join us, having passed away this year after fighting against MRSA.”

Protecting privacy, and making it more fun, this photo includes the restaurant’s owner, a solid supporter of vets, and always thankful we come around. The waitress for the day, and who normally is our regular one lately. There are three ex-“Shoes,” a Navy Cross wearing A-6 pilot, the high time pilot, with the most traps, also, in the venerable F7U Cutlass (began as a PBM tail gunner in WWII and subsequently became an enlisted pilot), an NFO who knew the thrill of flying over an already bombed target(s) to gather BDA photos in RA-5s, thre retired USMC colonels, who began flying in WWII, one F4Us and later became a USAF Fighter Squadron Commander while on an exchange tour), one in PBYs and one in PBJs. Rounding out the scoundrels that morning were two P-2/-3 pilots, one of which was the USNA roommate of my second CO, during my XO tour. The USA representative spent his Vietnam years making sure the Office in Sigonella was efficiently run. Not pictured of the regulars is a VN era heavy equipment operator, who also is a very suitable professional Santa, so he was absent, and the 4 hours short of the most combat hours guy in a year’s tour in Vietnam flying “Slicks.”

If you can’t find a great unique story any given any other Saturday around the table with this group, you need your hearing checked….

So, the invitation for those of you passing through the Tampa/St Pete area on weekends is this: You’re welcome to come and sit and hear a few stories, tell a few, and meet some who made history, but don’t make a big deal out of it…..just email me or a leave a comment and I’ll get your the “every other” Saturday schedule.

Category: "Sea Stories", Army, History, Marines, Military, Military History, Navy | Comments Off on WRAPing up the year – 2011: Breakfast with history

Do You Have Any Pensacola Fight Training Stories?

March 16th, 2011 by xformed

If so, are you willing to share? Yes, you have your opportunity now to relive those days and share them in print!

Via the WRAP Pac crew, I was asked if I could get the word out that published author Bob Taylor (“A Few Good Memories”) has embarked on a second writing project to collect and edit your stories.

He has a site up: Getting Your Wings to allow for easy input, but his email address is roarta at hotmail.com.

Time to ante up and share your personal history, high and low jinks with the rest of the world. Just remember, it’s all for the sake of history.

For those reading this, with and without your personal experience in Pensacola, please pass it along to your shipmates and family members and friends who may be connected with those who would like to participate.

Category: Blogging, History, Marines, Maritime Matters, Military, Navy, Public Service | Comments Off on Do You Have Any Pensacola Fight Training Stories?

News Release: Documentary “Chosin” at The Navy Memorial 12/15/2010

December 13th, 2010 by xformed

Received via email:

MEDIA ALERT

Navy Memorial Screens Award-winning Documentary “Chosin”

On Battle’s 60th Anniversary

Contacts:        Taylor Kiland                                                    Linda Heiss

tkiland@navymemorial.org lindah@lindarothpr.com

United States Navy Memorial                            Linda Roth Associates, Inc.

(202) 380-0718                                                  (703) 417-2709

WHAT: The Navy Memorial is screening “Chosin,” a documentary about one of the most savage battles of the Korean War: the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir.  Despite being surrounded and trapped by more than 200,000 Chinese troops, 15,000 U.S. troops fought 78 miles to freedom and saved 98,000 civilian refugees.  Survivor accounts combined with never-before-seen footage take the viewer on an emotional journey.  A panel discussion with the filmmakers and two DC-area Chosin Reservoir survivors will follow the screening.

Participating Filmmakers and Chosin Reservoir survivors:

  • Anton Sattler, Producer and Marine veteran from Operation Iraqi Freedom
  • Brian Iglesias, Director and Marine veteran from Operation Iraqi Freedom
  • Col. Warren Wiedhahn, USMC (Ret.), Chosin Reservoir survivor
  • Dr. Stanley Wolf, Chosin Reservoir survivor

WHEN:          December 15, 2010; 6:00 PM

WHERE:       United States Navy Memorial

Naval Heritage Center

701 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, D.C.  20004

www.navymemorial.org

Metro: National Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter (Green and Yellow lines)

COST: Free and open to the public

About the United States Navy Memorial

Conveniently located on Pennsylvania Avenue – halfway between the White House and the Capitol, the United States Navy Memorial provides a living tribute to Navy people and a place for them to gather and celebrate their service. The outdoor plaza features a “Granite Sea” map of the world, towering masts with signal flags, fountain pools and waterfalls and The Lone Sailor© statue.  Adjacent to the plaza is the Naval Heritage Center, where visitors can find educational displays about the contributions of the men and women of the Sea Services (Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine).  Also housed in the Naval Heritage Center is the Navy Log – the online place for Navy people to stay connected with each other, celebrate their service and preserve the memories of their service.  There, Navy veterans can build a record of their service online.  Call (202) 737-2300 or visit www.navymemorial.org for more information.

Sounds like a great opportunity for those in the DC Area for this Wednesday!

Category: Geo-Political, History, Leadership, Marines, Military, Military History | Comments Off on News Release: Documentary “Chosin” at The Navy Memorial 12/15/2010

“Blackbeard to Barbary Pirates, Making Their Mark on History” Panel

October 20th, 2010 by xformed

Table of contents for Piracy USNI Conference

  1. “Blackbeard to Barbary Pirates, Making Their Mark on History” Panel

RADM Callo, USN (Ret) leading the panel. Author of “John Paul Jones, America’s First Sea Warrior,”

Wants us to leave thinking not “I didn’t know that,” but “I hadn’t thought of it.”

Consider the technology of piracy. That which supports it, that which suppresses it.

Thought: “Piracy is a business. It has a business model. If you are to suppress it, you need to treat it like a business.”

We have the best operators, but if the political aspect of counter piracy isn’t handled well, we can’t stop it. Political will a huge factor involved.

Professor Dr Lundsford, @ USNA, Author: “Piracy and Privateering in the Golden Age Netherlands.” Notes the Brits didn’t just go after pirates with raw Naval Power, but by looking at altering the economics and the social morays, too. Good idea to look at the societies that use piracy for clues as to how to deal with it. Factors in long term piracy:

  • Available population of recruits.
  • Base of operations
  • Sophisticated organization
  • Financing
  • Cultural bonds for solidarity
  • Access to goods to be raided

Frederick Lanier, Attorney, author: “The End of Barbary Terror: America’s 1815 War against the Pirates of North Africa.” The Barbary Pirates are the most noted in US historical memory. It only affected us 30 years, but had haunted Europe for centuries. It took taking two of our ships and hundreds of our people to get us to act, and that was the spawning of our Navy. We did begin with paying off the Pirates, from George Washington, to the tune of 12% of the Federal Budget, and the lack of power, we were at their mercy.

The Barbary Pirates were driven by money, but did have some elements of Jihad.

They were not localized geographically, but ranged outside the Med, as far as Ireland and maybe Iceland, using amphibious assaults.

They had been around for centuries. John Adams said don’t take them on, unless we were willing to deal with it for centuries. Think about that for a moment…

Sponsored by the current regimes of the day, for their financial gain. The goal was ransom money. An organized ransom market. Options: Pay or use force. You could pay in advance! Protection payments, which we did for almost 20 years with Algeria.

Conveys, blockade their ports, arm your merchants, bombard their bases, or…regime change.

“Intelligence” between sailors useful.

Brits payed Pirates to keep their Naval costs down, as then the pirates raided the ships from other countries. Incentiving?

LCDR Ben “BJ” Armstrong, USN. Active duty HSC-2 pilot. Masters in Military History and a real operator.

Personnel: Need to be trained in “Irregular Warfare.” Boarding and landing operations need to be practiced.

Aggressive junior officers are a necessity, Like Decauter. Stephen Decauter was the one who came forward with the idea to burn the PHILADELPHIA. The right vessels need to be available to engage in the fight. “Littoral Warfare” needed effective ships.

You also need partnerships, for logistics and other support.

Use history, but there is no exact parallel.

Now to questions.

Dr Lunsford: When it’s a “way of life,” it’s very difficult to eradicate, eg: The “bucaneers.”

RADM Callo: Sophistication: The Ability to adjust. They are doing that now.

How does the 1820s pirate experience fit today? CNA rep. LCDR Armstrong:
Biddle, Poter and Wearington.

Biddle: Bring ships and run convoys.

Porter: go “inshore.” ROE: Spain wouldn’t grant permission to go ashore.

Be careful as how you draw historic parallels.

Dr Lunsford: Don’t see the parallels with Latin America break away period. Get ride of the recruits and base of operations, you solved the problem. Make sure you look for operational and political (i’d add economic) lessons for application of parallels.

Danish Navy Officer: Can small navies make an impact: LCDR A: “Yes, absolutely.” The US Navy was the “small Navy” when it took on the pirates in the 1800’s. Frank Lanier: Us wanted to act unilaterally, but James Madison instructed to allow Dutch Navy to act as allies. The Dutch Navy bombarded Algiers the next year. Dr Lunsford: The US Navy can’t be everywhere. TF 151 is an example to address the problems. RADM Calo: “quantity has a quality of it’s own.”

ADM McKnight chimes in (he commanded TF 151): Danish Navy ship ABSOLOM was excellent on TF 151. Well prepared.

LCDR Armstrong: Cooperation can be extended beyond navies. NGOs and commercial interests and other government.

Frank Lanier: State supported terrorism? The Barbary pirates made money for the political structure that supported them. They made money off of “Christian Dogs” but it wasn’t about expanding the Caliphate.

Any “fingers of the Russians, Chinese or other Arab states funding these activities (in Somalia)?” No one has heard of it, but LCDR A indicated Russians and Chinese are part of the anti-piracy work.

Former Adm of MSC: “Struck by the number of ‘stakeholders’ who came to join in the current discussions.” Maritime unions, Lloyds of London, commercial companies, etc.

Frank Lanier: Much more interrelated today, it was simpler back then.

(Off to find a power outlet……)

RADM Callo: every US Citizen is a “stakeholder” in this issue…..

Category: Geo-Political, History, INternational Relations, Maritime Matters, Military, Military History | Comments Off on “Blackbeard to Barbary Pirates, Making Their Mark on History” Panel

A WWII English Love Story

June 6th, 2010 by xformed

In rememberance of D-Day today, a story about three men:  An American pilot, an Englishman, and the pilot’s son.

I first met Doug Kirkland in Oct/Nov 1976, while attending Communications Officer School in Newport, RI.  We never really talked, he being a LT, seasoned aviator and me merely an Ensign with no permanent ship assignments in my record.  In Oct, 1989, as I emceed the Change of Command, a face in the guest seats kept attracting my attention.  It was Doug.  At the reception, we both realized we knew each other, but it took about 30 minutes of the “were you ever stationed at…” conversation to finally get us to the point were we figured we had been in Newport for school at the same time, and other than that, our paths had not crossed professionally or otherwise since then.  Fast forward to 2009, when I began going to the every other Saturday breakfasts with a group of local vets…there was Doug again, and one morning, he told me this story and has been kind enough to share it, particularly with the hope the story will maybe connect a few more people who are involved in this story.

Here’s my request:  Pass this story along, please.

A Model of a US Navy PB4Y-l Bureau # 231

English Love Story – Why FAW-7 Loves the people In tbe Devon countryside

This was written by Captain Douglas I. Kirkland ( Delta Air Lines) of Reddington Beach, FL about his father.

My father, Lieutenant Commander Lawrence A. Kirkland, Jr. ( deceased 1990) was a Navy pilot in World War II.  Dad graduated Naval Pilot Training in class 2B41J at the Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida early 1941.  During the early part of the war he flew PBY aircraft first in the Pacific Asiatic and later in North Africa. When VPB-U4 was commissioned, Dad was assigned as Plane Commander and according to bis squadronmates, he was one of the “war weary”, well seasoned veterans at the squadrons beginning in August of 1943.

VPB-114 deployed to Dunkeswell Abbey Airfield Near Exeter in Devon, England and this history is well documented at the museum.

To cope with the rigors and stress of the 41 missions Dad dew from Dunkeswell in PB4Y-1 aircraft, be would take a shotgun and hunt on farmland in the Honiton to Broadhembury area just south of Dunkeswell Airfield.   He would then take his fresh kill to The inn at Broadhembury (which still has a great thatched roof’ pub), and have it cooked, dine with his favorite libation in hand, and finally relax a bit.

The Frost Family farm near Broadhembury was a favorite hunting place of Dads, and the descendant of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Frost still lives on the farm today  (John and Jean ( Frost) Barker) Incidentally, both Jean and John Barker remembered my father when I visited them in December of 1998. The Barker’s mentioned that lots of the men stationed at Dunkeswell hunted their farmland and one man in particular liked to hunt rabbits with a Thompson submachine gun (guess the ammunition and the rabbits were plentiful then)!

According to Dad, one day white relaxing at the Inn at Broadhembury, be met a man named Theo Church from Ex-Axminister, a carpenter by trade. Thea Church was making aircraft parts on jigs in his shop for the war effort.  In conversation, Dad discovered that Theo Church had never been in an airplane, even though he was making aircraft parts! Dad invited Theo to go on a training flight from Dunkeswell, and he provided Theo with a flight suit and the necessary instructions for the flight.  All went off with out a hitch, and several months after the flight, Theo Church came to Dad and presented this hand made, wooden model of a P84Y-1 ship 8ureau #231.

Dad asked Theo to keep the model for the duration of the war, and then ship it to me, because of the the “uncertainties” in his schedule and his longevity. Dad later gave the model to me and after he died, I found a scrapbook from WW II with pictures of the actual plane # 231 in a revetment at Broadhembury.  The box, the stamps, the model, everything you see is just as be received it from Theo Church after the war. This model and its history have always symbolized for me, the spirit of cooperation and combined efforts of our countries in defeating our enemies. Truly, the men and women who served our Countries in WW II deserve our eternal gratitude.

For the most part, they were ordinary citizens who performed extraordinarily. When the war ended, they returned to their families and civilian life and built the better World we now enjoy.

I welcome any additions or input from this word of mouth story about my father.

CDR Douglas I. Kirkland, USNR-R (Ret)
16500 Gulf Blvd. Unit 455
North Redington Beach, FL 33708
850-960-8866 cell
727-320-0012 home
douglas.kirkland@1972.usna.com

Captain Meyer Minchen of Houston, Tx., offers the following information about # 231. Jack McGarry ( Plane Captain) and Jim Baird AMM in Crew 11 were prefiighting the plane for a patrol, and were not in the picture at left.   However they did help in identifying the crew members of #231 in VB-114. Left to right: John Paul Woods, Harold Coffin, Cliff Halls, Larry Kirkland, More Slouch, Don Burns, Oren W. Clark (PCP), Meyer Minchen, Ed E. .Elmwood.

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Category: Air Force, Army, History, INternational Relations, Leadership, Maritime Matters, Military, Military History, Navy | 1 Comment »

Monday Maritime Matters: Memorial Day 2010

May 31st, 2010 by xformed

The day was perfect. Relatively cool by Florida standards and clear. Plenty of shade under the old oak tress next to the Bay Pines Cemetery. 3000 chairs were put out, as 2500 last year wasn’t enough. The Boy Scouts in attendance still were busy pulling out more chairs as the ceremony began @ 1000. Veterans and family members and friends/supporters filled the area, with many obviously long time friends, and others just greeting those around them and making new ones.

Representative Bill Young (R-FL) gave the speech, honoring those who had given their all so we could all come to such a celebration by choice, and not as demanded by a government such as that of North Korea. He spoke of the many cemeteries around the planet, where US service personnel remain to this day, buried in the countries where they fought to ensure freedom for us and others.

I took the opportunity to meet some interesting pieces of history. These three Marine vets had seen many things:

I was introduced to Major Lindbloom, USAAF, a B-17 pilot who was shot down over Czechoslovakia and spend 6 months in a POW camp. He stayed with the damaged plane long enough to ensure it cleared a town and crashed into the forest instead. I’m told the town placed a monument to him to commemorate his act of selflessness.

A Marine near me, with miniature jump wings on his ballcap noting “Iwo Jima Survivor” had been with the Raiders in the Soloman Islands, a unit deactivated, then he was placed in the 5th Marine Division, along with his shipmates from the Raider Battalion, for their combat experience. On Day 4, he looked up after a mortar attack to check on his men and one more rounds came in and ended his combat career. He’s become the accidentally appointed historian of the Para-Marines and has plenty of pictures and files he and his wife are scanning and placing on the web.

On Sunday, I walked among the headstones and read many names and dates and annotations. This one (sorry for the cell phone picture quality), caught my attention, so I’ll place it here for the history of it:

Clarence F Swanson

Chales F Swanson headstone, Bay Pines Cemetery
Cox US Navy PVT Marines
WWII 9/29/1909 – 6/29/1997

Then there was the Navy Chaplin who spent time with the Marines and Army, and now is a disabled vet, the man who worked on F8U Crusaders, and the one who was on destroyer tenders in the Pacific.

All with the backdrop of the 29.166 American flags placed on the graves in the well trimmed grass nearby to compliment stories of men who didn’t make it, or have since passed away. It was fitting for the day.

Category: Air Force, Army, History, Marines, Maritime Matters, Military, Military History, Navy, Supporting the Troops | Comments Off on Monday Maritime Matters: Memorial Day 2010

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