Archive for the ‘History’ Category

The Silver Lining or In God We Trust

July 3, 2011

Tour boats ferry people out to the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii every thirty minutes. We just missed a ferry and had to wait thirty minutes. I went into a small gift shop to kill time. In the gift shop, I purchased a small book entitled, “Reflections on Pearl Harbor” by Admiral Chester Nimitz.

Sunday, December 7th, 1941–Admiral Chester Nimitz was attending a concert in Washington D.C. He was paged and told there was a phone call for him. When he answered the phone, it was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the phone. He told Admiral Nimitz that he (Nimitz) would now be the Commander of the Pacific Fleet.

Admiral Nimitz flew to Hawaii to assume command of the Pacific Fleet. He landed at Pearl Harbor on Christmas Eve, 1941. There was such a spirit of despair, dejection and defeat–you would have thought the Japanese had already won the war. On Christmas Day, 1941, Adm. Nimitz was given a boat tour of the destruction wrought on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Big sunken battleships and navy vessels cluttered the waters every where you looked. As the tour boat returned to dock, the young helmsman of the boat asked, “Well Admiral, what do you think after seeing all this destruction?”

Admiral Nimitz’s reply shocked everyone within the sound of his voice. Admiral Nimitz said, “The Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could ever make or God was taking care of America. Which do you think it was?” Shocked and surprised, the young helmsman asked, “What do mean by saying the Japanese made the three biggest mistakes an attack force ever made?”

Nimitz explained. Mistake number one: the Japanese attacked on Sunday morning. Nine out of every ten crewmen of those ships were ashore on leave. If those same ships had been lured to sea and been sunk–we would have lost 38,000 men instead of 3,800.

Mistake number two: when the Japanese saw all those battleships lined in a row, they got so carried away sinking those battleships, they never once bombed our dry docks opposite those ships. If they had destroyed our dry docks, we would have had to tow every one of those ships to America to be repaired. As it is now, the ships are in shallow water and can be raised. One tug can pull them over to the dry docks, and we can have them repaired and at sea by the time we could have towed them to America. And I already have crews ashore anxious to man those ships.

Mistake number three: every drop of fuel in the Pacific theater of war is in top of the ground storage tanks five miles away over that hill. One attack plane could have strafed those tanks and destroyed our fuel supply. That’s why I say the Japanese made three of the biggest mistakes an attack force could make or God was taking care of America.

I’ve never forgotten what I read in that little book. It is still an inspiration as I reflect upon it. In jest, I might suggest that because Admiral Nimitz was a Texan, born and raised in Fredricksburg, Texas — he was a born optimist. But anyway you look at it–Admiral Nimitz was able to see a silver lining in a situation and circumstance where everyone else saw only despair and defeatism. President Roosevelt had chosen the right man for the right job.

There is a reason that our national motto is, IN GOD WE TRUST.

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HISTORY NOT taught in High School!

July 3, 2011

HISTORY NOT taught in High School!

Tinian Island, Pacific Ocean…

It’s a small island, less than 40 square miles, a flat green dot in the vastness of Pacific blue.

Fly over it and you notice a slash across its north end of uninhabited bush, a long thin line that looks like an overgrown dirt runway. If you didn’t know what it was, you wouldn’t give it a second glance out your airplane window.

On the ground, you see the runway isn’t dirt but tarmac and crushed limestone, abandoned with weeds sticking out of it. Yet this is arguably the most historical airstrip on earth. This is where World War II was won. This is Runway Able:

On July 24, 1944, 30,000 US Marines landed on the beaches of Tinian…. Eight days later, over 8,000 of the 8,800 Japanese soldiers on the island were dead (vs. 328 Marines), and four months later the Seabees had built the busiest airfield of WWII – dubbed North Field – enabling B-29 Superfortresses to launch air attacks on the Philippines, Okinawa, and mainland Japan.

Late in the afternoon of August 5, 1945, a B-29 was maneuvered over a bomb loading pit, then after lengthy preparations, taxied to the east end of North Field’s main runway, Runway Able, and at 2:45am in the early morning darkness of August 6, took off.

The B-29 was piloted by Col. Paul Tibbets of the US Army Air Force, who had named the plane after his mother, Enola Gay. The crew named the bomb they were carrying Little Boy. 6 hours later at 8:15am, Japan time, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

Three days later, in the pre-dawn hours of August 9, a B-29 named Bockscar (a pun on “boxcar” after its flight commander Capt. Fred Bock), piloted by Major Charles Sweeney took off from Runway Able. Finding its primary target of Kokura obscured by clouds, Sweeney proceeded to the secondary target of Nagasaki, over which, at 11:01am, bombardier Kermit Beahan released the atomic bomb dubbed Fat Man.

Here is “Atomic Bomb Pit #1” where Little Boy was loaded onto Enola Gay.

There are pictures displayed in the pit, now glass-enclosed. This one shows Little Boy being hoisted into Enola Gay’s bomb bay.


And here on the other side of ramp is “Atomic Bomb Pit #2” where Fat Man was loaded onto Bockscar.

The commemorative plaque records that 16 hours after the nuking of Nagasaki, “On August 10, 1945 at 0300, the Japanese Emperor, without his cabinet’s consent, decided to end the Pacific War.”

Take a good look at these pictures. This is where World War II ended with total victory of America over Japan. I was there all alone. There were no other visitors and no one lives anywhere near for miles. Visiting the Bomb Pits, walking along deserted Runway Able in solitude, was a moment of extraordinarily powerful solemnity.

It was a moment of deep reflection. Most people, when they think of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, reflect on the numbers of lives killed in the nuclear blasts – at least 70,000 and 50,000 respectively. Being here caused me to reflect on the number of lives saved – how many more Japanese and Americans would have died in a continuation of the war had the nukes not been dropped.

Yet that was not all. It’s not just that the nukes obviated the US invasion of Japan, Operation Downfall, that would have caused upwards of a million American and Japanese deaths or more. It’s that nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki were of extraordinary humanitarian benefit to the nation and people of Japan.

Let’s go to this cliff on the nearby island of Saipan to learn why:

Saipan is less than a mile north of Tinian…. The month before the Marines took Tinian, on June 15, 1944, 71,000 Marines landed on Saipan…. They faced 31,000 Japanese soldiers determined not to surrender.

Japan had colonized Saipan after World War I and turned the island into a giant sugar cane plantation. By the time of the Marine invasion, in addition to the 31,000 entrenched soldiers, some 25,000 Japanese settlers were living on Saipan, plus thousands more Okinawans, Koreans, and native islanders brutalized as slaves to cut the sugar cane.

There were also one or two thousand Korean “comfort women” (kanji in Japanese), abducted young women from Japan’s colony of Korea to service the Japanese soldiers as sex slaves. (See The Comfort Women: Japan’s Brutal Regime of Enforced Prostitution in the Second World War, by George Hicks.)

Within a week of their landing, the Marines set up a civilian prisoner encampment that quickly attracted a couple thousand Japanese and others wanting US food and protection. When word of this reached Emperor Hirohito – who contrary to the myth was in full charge of the war- he became alarmed that radio interviews of the well-treated prisoners broadcast to Japan would subvert his people’s will to fight.

As meticulously documented by historian Herbert Bix in “Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan”, the Emperor issued an order for all Japanese civilians on Saipan to commit suicide. The order included the promise that, although the civilians were of low caste, their suicide would grant them a status in heaven equal to those honored soldiers who died in combat for their Emperor.

And that is why the precipice in the picture above is known as Suicide Cliff, off which over 20,000 Japanese civilians jumped to their deaths to comply with their fascist emperor’s desire – mothers flinging their babies off the cliff first or in their arms as they jumped.

Anyone reluctant or refused, such as the Okinawan or Korean slaves, were shoved off at gunpoint by the Jap soldiers. Then the soldiers themselves proceeded to hurl themselves into the ocean to drown off a sea cliff afterwards called Banzai Cliff. Of the 31,000 Japanese soldiers on Saipan, the Marines killed 25,000, 5,000 jumped off Banzai Cliff, and only the remaining thousand were taken prisoner.

The extent of this demented fanaticism is very hard for any civilized mind to fathom- especially when it is devoted not to anything noble but barbarian evil instead. The vast brutalities inflicted by the Japanese on their conquered and colonized peoples of China, Korea, the Philippines, and throughout their “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere” was a hideously depraved horror.

And they were willing to fight to the death to defend it. So they had to be nuked. The only way to put an end to the Japanese barbarian horror was unimaginably colossal destruction against which they had no defense whatever… Nuking Japan was not a matter of justice, revenge, or it getting what it deserved. It was the only way to end the Japanese dementia.

And it worked – for the Japanese. They stopped being barbarians and started being civilized. They achieved more prosperity- and peace- than they ever knew, or could have achieved had they continued fighting and not been nuked. The shock of their getting nuked is responsible.

We achieved this because we were determined to achieve victory. Victory without apologies. Despite perennial liberal demands we do so, America and its government has never apologized for nuking Japan…Hopefully, America never will.

Oh, yes…Guinness lists Saipan as having the best, most equitable, weather in the world. And the beaches? Well, take a look:

I find stories such as this one just plain fascinating. Although we do not forget, history fades into the shadows of our mind and we seldom think about it. But, we should remember and we should be constantly reminded of our history, where we came from and how we got here.
Kind of interesting… Anyway, I think so………..

Walter Breuning – The OLDEST MAN IN THE WORLD…

March 17, 2011

Walter Breuning – The OLDEST MAN IN THE WORLD…
Living in Great Falls, Montana, USA

Walter Breuning (born September 21, 1896) is a Super-centenarian. At the age of 114 years, he is currently the 2nd oldest [verified] person in the world.  He has been the oldest living MAN in the world since July 18 2009, and the last known man still living who was born in 1896. On his 110th birthday, Breuning was declared the oldest living retired railroader in the United States. The governor of Montana, Brian Schweitzer, and the city mayor attended his celebration. He is one of the last two males still alive today who were verifiably born before the year 1900. He is one of only five men in history to have undisputedly reached the age of 114. Breuning is the oldest undisputed American-born man ever, and since December 12, 2010, the fourth oldest undisputed man ever.

 

Walter Breuning was born in Melrose, Minnesota. He is the son of John Breuning and Cora Morehouse Breuning, and had two brothers and two sisters.  In 1901 when he was 5, his family moved to DeSmet, South Dakota, where he went to school for nine years until his family broke up in 1910.  Breuning referred to this time as “the dark ages”, as his family lived without electricity, water, or plumbing, describing it as “carry the water in, heat it on the stove. That’s what you took your bath in. Wake up in the dark, go to bed in the dark. That’s not very pleasant”.  Longevity runs in Breuning’s family. His paternal grandparents lived into their 90s, and his siblings lived to ages 78, 85, 91, and 100 although his parents had more typical life spans for their cohorts.

In 1910 aged 14, Breuning dropped out of school; he began scraping bakery pans for $2.50 weekly.  He joined the Great Northern Railway in 1913, working for it for over fifty years. Breuning commented that during his early years, he would have to hide from the railway owner, James J. Hill, as Hill did not want any railroad employees under the age of 18 (Breuning was first hired at age 17).  Breuning worked for the Great Northern Railway until age 66, and was also a manager/secretary for the local Shriner’s club until age 99.  During World War I, he signed up for military service, but was never called up. He moved to Montana in 1918, where he continued working as a clerk for the Great Northern Railway. There, he met Agnes Twokey, a telegraph operator from Butte, Montana. He was married to her from 1922 until her death in 1957. They had no children and Walter never married again stating that “Second marriages never work; even first marriages don’t work today.” When World War II broke out, he was too old to serve.

In later years

Having lived at the Rainbow Retirement and Assisted Living Center in Great Falls Montana for the last 32 years, Breuning is in excellent health, even after a lifelong habit of smoking cigars, which he quit in 1999.  He is able to walk, and eats two meals a day. He still maintains a sharp mind and accurate memory. For example, he can remember his grandfather talking about his experiences in the American Civil War when he (Breuning) was three years old, and remembers the day President William McKinley was shot as the day “I got my first haircut”.  He takes no prescription medications. In November 2007, at the age of 111, Breuning was fitted with hearing aids.

On his 112th birthday, Breuning said the secret to long life is being active: “[If] you keep your mind busy and keep your body busy, you’re going to be around a long time.”

The week before his 113th birthday in September 2009, Breuning had fallen and bruised his scalp, but was otherwise unhurt.

Breuning still dresses in a suit and tie every day. In a recent interview, Breuning said, “Every day I exercise. Every morning I do all my exercises.” On April 24, 2009 at the age of 112, Breuning was interviewed on CBS by Steve Hartman for Assignment America. When asked by Hartman if he would do a second CBS interview in four years, Breuning said, “Well hell you sure can!”

On February 16, 2009, Breuning made an appearance on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, giving his views about the current state of the economy and the newly elected president. Breuning said that the first President he ever voted for was Woodrow Wilson, and that the most memorable news item he ever heard about in his life was the Stock Market Crash of 1929. He also described life during the Great Depression.

On April 24, 2009, Breuning was the focus of a segment done by Steve Hartman’s “Assignment America” on the CBS Evening News.  On September 21, 2009, Breuning was the focus of another such segment. During his 113th birthday celebrations, Breuning said: “Remember that life’s length is not measured by its hours and days, but by that which we have done therein. A useless life is short if it lasts a century. There are greater and better things in us all, if we would find them out. There will always be in this world – wrongs. No wrong is really successful. The day will come when light and truth and the just and the good shall be victorious and wrong as evil will be no more forever.”

The BNSF Railway named the west end of its new Broadview Subdivision, where it meets the ex-Great Northern Laurel Subdivision near Broadview, Montana, “Walter Junction” after Breuning. He was present at the dedication of the new line, which serves the Signal Peak Mine, on September 2, 2009.

On February 25, 2010, Breuning was honored by Montana Ambassadors for shining a spotlight on the state of Montana.

Here’s Some Photos of Walter


In this school photo, Walter is standing under the window, with the “X” above his head.  The slate carries the date of 1907, making Walter about 9 years old.

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer chats with Walter.

Walter receives “his copy” of the Guinness Book of World Records, listing him as the World’s Oldest Man.

Weatherman for KRTV Television Fred Pfieffer – N7NMY, with Walter

(This story from Great Falls Area Amateur Radio Club – W7ECA)

 

UPDATE 6-11 Walter passed away April 2011 at 114 years of age. The current oldest man in the world is a 114 year old man in Japan.


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