Monday, May 30, 2016


I first met “Pop” over breakfast one hot Texas summer morning in 2000. The wife's sister “Twink” fed and doted over us and my education of the greatest generation and getting to know a real war hero unfolded. Pop had a most unique “Jimmy Stewart” habit of adding a southern “yep” and “uh huh” as his stories unfold. Noticeable at first but soon they become a genuine thread through his stories. And it not just the story I am going to tell here that depicts a real hero but the stories Pop always told, ones that are new and detail the depth of his war and aviation experiences.

Maybe the story of him and his crew sinking the first enemy submarine of the war or with a wide grin and laughter the story of him and his crew falling asleep for two hours on the way back from Cuba after a night on the town. The B-24 was at cruise altitude and on autopilot with everyone sound asleep for two hours before Pop woke up.

Or his story of stalling a DC-3 over Love Field on a night check ride. The instructor was not satisfied with Pop's first two successful attempts to stall and recover the DC-3 and insisted Pop STALL the plane. Pop pulled the airplane into a full stall resulting in one wing stalling and the DC-3 flipping upside down. “I recovered at 3000' off the ground that night.” And after the war, his young daughter sitting on his lap in a Cessna 195 telling her daddy “not to tip us over.”

What follows is a compilation of recent storytelling on a family trip to the WWII Memorial in Washington DC and excerpts from “On The Wing” by Longshot Films..A story of courage, survival and B-24s.

We are sitting at a breakfast table in the hotel restaurant in Washington DC. Pop and me alone with our first cup of coffee. Family members are arriving and heading to the breakfast buffet. I start the recorder and ask Pop to again tell the story of the bomb run on Parma.

.........May 2nd, 44 going to Parma..where they make Parmesan Cheese..yea uhhuh...we had had that big meeting the night before what to do if the lead ship bails out.....down and out to the right...the lead ship would go down and out to the right...because 6 airplanes 6 airplanes 6 airplanes (Pop's hands showing boxed B-24 formation groupings)..we wouldn't hit anybody ya know.....and so my second mission..I didn't lead the group...a classmate of mine did..the Col. was with him...and they saw the flak going into Parma got so scared and the Col. jerked the airplane off of autopilot..and almost ran into me...and I had to make a he dropping down out of the lead ya I just mushed up...slowed down and moved over him to take lead...then his other wing-man came behind and under me and hit me...”
The B-24 that hit the nose of Pop's airplane broke off the tail section of the bomber, impaling a 12' x 9' panel of their tail section on the nose turret of Pop's airplane. Pop's B-24 was turned upside down due to the impact.

....well the rudder was kind of like a fork in a hot was hanging on my nose turret...the guns were sticking through that bomber tumbled and the tail came off...and the tail gunner in that airplane..where it broke loose....and he tumbled alone in the turret on the way down all by himself....he didn't go down with the airplane..he just hit by himself..that must must have been terrible...yea...unhuhhh..I rang the alarm bell upside down I had four guys bail out..two POWs and two walked out with the Italian Underground...”

Pop skillfully righted his plane, navigated off the coast of Italy and with the tail section of the other bomber still affixed to his nose turret flew some 200 miles to find friendly ground on the island of Corsica.

I learn through the telling of this story that this was Pop's 2nd of his 50 B-24 Bomber missions during the war. On his first mission he lost oxygen to the airplane and had to turn around or he would have lost his gunner. On, this his 2nd mission, he experiences a mid-air collision, puts 4 of his crew under chutes and then through extraordinary piloting skills, rights his bomber several thousand feet off of the ground.

....probably missed my props by a couple feet maybe....yea...I am upside down so..I didn't wear my chute I kept right on the floor behind my seat in case I needed it.. but when we went upside down..we had the bomb bay doors open and it went I am trying to fly the airplane and I told my co-pilot, the Deputy Group Commander, to go and my bombardier and navigator went and the engineer went and so I am messing with the airplane....that is best I can say...and I came out of the bottom flying straight and level...and I can't see any crew or airmen or any airplanes I headed back west to the coast to get to the sea and we were in northern Italy....I went over Laspasica and over the mountains and get out to sea and got down low...I didn't want the radar to pick me up...the next mistake I made that day was that I had a red handle here to drop the bombs...yea...I still had ten 500s....I got to thinking about it..when I got upside down, what happened to those 500 pound bombs tumbling around in the bomb bay? I still had em and...out to sea pretty low and eh....I dropped the bombs and (Pop makes exploding noises pauses and laughs)'s a wonder I didn't kill myself....the gunners in back were left on of them was crying saying Captain what we gonna do?....Well I explained that I am going to try to find some place to land this thing ya know...that's about all I told him and to calm down...I am looking for the island of Corsica....There is no weather and I am flying into the sun with a lot of haze....even though we had a navigator,I always knew where I I headed towards Corsica and I did not remember whether it was friendly or if the Germans still had it...but I get up to the island and I noticed this air base and saw P-47's and knew that it was at that time I put the main gear down and the nose wheel wouldn't come down. And so here I am now with the main gear down and no nose the gunners were down trying to push it out...and during that time why uh...I forgot to transfer fuel and in that early model you had to go back to the back section and transfer fuel with a “U” I am flying around with the main gear down, no nose wheel and #1 and #2 engines quit...(Pop is laughing now and so are we). I am on two engines and no nose wheel...I am yelling at the guys to transfer fuel...transfer fuel and they finally heard me went back in the back got me some fuel and I cranked the engines back up.....they had kicked the nose wheel down and I landed...and that was all there was to it!!”

On that particular day at that particular air field an Army combat camera crew had set up their cameras and captured Pop landing his B-24, nose covered with the tail section from the morning mid-air collision. The approach and landing is perfect and upon parking, a ground crew gently removes the impaled B-24 tail section from Pop's bomber. of the gunners said I landed it like silk with one of those big barn doors on the nose.”

So you bombed Polesti?

......we bombed the refineries yes..I went there seven times yea, uhuh...but the toughest target was when the Russians over ran Polesti they didn't leave all of those 80mm there, they took em with em..the target I had the most damage ever was Vienna..a suburb called Wernernoistime...they were building 109 fighters there...they protected that pretty good..we bombed Munich....Reganburg refineries..we bombed Hitlers German Tank works....we bombed time Athens..I don't know why, but we did.....matter of fact on D-Day all we did was get as close to the beach as we could..I put 20 hours in the air that day trying to draw fighters away from the beach...our primary mission was to try to attract German fighters away from the we did not lose any planes that day..we didn't see any fighters at all that never lost a man..some got shot..but no never had anybody killed...I got hit on the shoulder one day..we were on a bomb run and boom..felt like someone hit me with a baseball bat...I was trying to feel my hit me pretty good and hurt...I could feel the hole in my flight jacket....but my plane came back twice with two engines out on one hydraulic pressure, no brakes, no flaps..engines shot out yea twice on one takes two pilots to hold that wing up and then on landing you only got one shot at the I did that twice.”

I asked Pop how he felt as he neared his 50th mission that would end his tour of bomber duty. He did not request a milk-run but instead opted for his last mission scheduled over Munich, a heavily fortified enemy target.
....well I thought about that..they'd let you fly your last two missions on milk-runs.....but I looked at this way..I took the missions as they came and my last mission I finished on Munich..a tough target..I'd thought about not going but I had taken em as they just go ahead and take it....”

He was 90 years old when I recorded and wrote this story, Pop still had a sharp mind and sense of humor, was still able to get around mixed with a little hard hearing and cranky. I mean this in a most loving way. I honestly believed this man has earned any attitude, complaint or life perspective and the right to express all of it openly. With a laugh that morning he finished this story telling. I said, if you don't get hurt or killed, it's not all that's's not all that bad.”

The wife told me how, sitting in the dark in the US Archives in Washington in the early 80's, knowing only the date, she watches hours of old newsreels trying to find the footage of Pop landing his disabled bomber. All of sudden, she's watching a news clip of what looked like a smudge on the horizon of a landing strip in Italy, slowly setting down and taxiing up to a stop. On the now distinct nose of a B-24 is the wreckage of another place...she said “All of sudden, my heart stopped as I watched my 27 year-old father walk into view and look up at the damage like it was a walk in the park.”

You can see video of Pop landing his B-24 that day and then walking around the plane to inspect it in the video below.

By the grace of God, Pop got to come home after the war when so many have not. So, the wife and I pay tribute this Memorial Day Weekend to all the men and women who have gone and go in harm's way for this great country.

Thursday, May 26, 2016


Cloud is 13 years old now. Has survived her sister, Priss, whose downfall was being too friendly and most likely not paying constant close attention in her world here on the hill. 

We call Cloud "kitty" now from years of getting to know her and appreciating her. Not a day goes by where the wife or I do not ask each other if we have seen "kitty" this morning? Instead of being hunkered down in her kitty house with electric matt over these past winter months, she is now conflicted at night when the garage door goes down. The warm weather and warm nights win out now as she opts to stay outside. We call her, she turns to look at us just like in the photo above, but then heads out into the woods, or darts into the carport or woodshed. She has her hiding places, I know. 

I wanted to do a quick blog on her for no other reason than to share her. The fresh dead mouse this morning in the front yard also inspired this blog. 

I called her this morning for her photo opp. "Come here kitty", a little coaxing and trying to fool her into a stationary position so I can take my time with the camera and get the shot. But she wants nothing to do with her photo opp and she knows immediately that something is different as I aim the camera at her. 

First under and behind the car, then with her back to me, she travels across the driveway near the edge of the woods. I approach, a better shot of her in the woods, I think. But she becomes lost in the underbrush and new growth. I walk around calling "here kitty." She emerges near the edge of the lawn and for brief moment turns towards me when I call her. Click click and that was my only shot. Chasing her any further was not something I wanted to do, no matter how great a picture might result. This cat has many lives and is (always has been) elusive. A quick touch on the back of her head when she is hungry and waiting near her dish is all she has ever allowed. And in those perfect moments she shares some purring that she is a happy cat and appreciates us. But no more than that brief acknowledgement from time to time. Never!!

We have fischer cats that roam this property on a regular basis. Lots of wild animals come and go here. A fischer cat crying at night sounds like an old lady being tortured just outside our bedroom window. The torture will go on for a long time. The night cry of a fischer cat brings the bride and me sitting straight up from a dead sleep. That "kitty" has survived this long is a testament to her knowing her outside environment and this property. If I knew what the cat knows around this house, I would be light years ahead of where I actually am. 

Two summers ago, I watched a fischer cat walk the perimeter of our property just behind kitty's photo opp picture above. The cat saw me, made eye contact and did not run. The cat was not aggressive nor was it afraid that I knew it was there. I waved my hands, told it to get going, shouted man shouts and the cat gave me a no never mind. We were leaving to go to town shopping that morning and kitty was outside somewhere. So, I manned up and shouted louder and waved my hands like a man's man to get that cat to move on. I was pathetic!!

Eventually the cat moved back into the woods and on the trail to the neighbors house. "Kitty" came from out of the woods on the other side of the yard when we came back from shopping and started to rub up against the car port support post. A sign of some contentment that we were back home. I told her, as I always do, that she ought not be outside and hanging around when fischer cats are visiting.

From time to time, the dog and I walk the driveway towards the highway. The dog is just happy to be out on a walk and darts from side to side of the driveway. "Kitty", although distant and aloof, gives herself away that she too wants to be a part of these outings. She, however, walks the rock walls, rises and falls of the driveway edges and perches herself on a large bolder to watch us go by. She then darts into the woods, only to reappear further down the driveway watching us approach. The same practice when we head  back up to the house. Her only real friend and trusty companion is our Golden Retriever. It appears that the dog is her hero. She walks along side so close that both animals are touching each other. The dog does not care about the cat, at least from outward appearances. But the dog never has discounted nor challenged "kitty" in her world here.

"Kitty" has perfected situational awareness.  She is always "on." She never ever relaxes or lets her guard down. Her head darts around like she is afflicted, her tail twitches and she seeks cover in all of her movements. No cat head down and lost in cat texting. From time to time, she will run into the garage with her tail twitching and head looking back over her shoulder. She has run into the garage as a measure of her security. And she stays in the garage. I look outside, see nothing and all is well. But not in her cat world!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


A close friend came over this past week and we made a mess in the kitchen making our first batch of Pemmican. I learned that the jerky I made was not dry enough, even though I left it in the dehydrator for 14 hours. I also sliced it too thick. The meat has to be dehydrated to a point where it breaks apart easily and does not chew.

The cranberries and blueberries were also not dry enough. Both the meat and fruits need to be bone dry so that a food processor turns them to a mixture of hair like shreds/powder. Next time! Native Americans pounded the meat and fruit into a powder.

Rendering the fat was easy and takes awhile. All of this can be done ahead of time. If we had done all of these individual steps correctly, the mixing/making of the Pemmican would have taken an hour, been much easier and less of a mess.

As of this writing I have not tasted the Pemmican. I pushed the individual packs from their paper cups this morning and if anything turned out perfect, the size and shape of the final product did.

Research on Pemmican leads me to believe that each of these portions are around 400 calories, give or take.

This is where I ask myself, is all of this is worth the effort. For the learning and education the answer is absolutely yes. This is an excellent method of making a food source, processing meats, fats and fruits into a long term survival food. Several hundred years of proven history is in the making of this product. Today we can purchase food bars off the shelf that will accomplish the same nutrition and energy source. But knowledge transfers and should the time ever come where having a few basic food items that can be processed into long term/safe storage and emergency use, that knowledge will prove invaluable. The other choice is losing food to spoilage.

This learning process also opens other doors of interest. Salting and preserving meats in the open air and by the sun. Preserving and drying fruit in the same manner.  More to come on this as summer progresses.

Our Pemmican will be shared and used on bug out camping trips over the next several months. Our next batches will be much better and we will be able to add Pemmican making to our skill sets. 


Spruce trees are budding now and the new green tips are ripe for picking, drying and tea making. 


Sunday, May 8, 2016


I looked skyward and with a smile on my face, mentioned that “today would be a perfect day to teach me a lesson” about being prepared. I had done everything wrong that afternoon. Left the house in Crocs, shorts, t-shirt and short sleeve shirt. Drove my friend's car and followed him in his truck to a shop sixty miles from home. His trip, his car, his truck for delivery. All normal and all went well. But I soon became well aware that neither one of us were prepared for any problems coming or going. Not even a bottle of water in either vehicle.

Throwing a BOB into his car would have been a life-saver and given both of us time to work out a road-side problem. Having nothing is not a good choice, especially for two older men.

Although a BOB was always with me in my truck, I had rarely thrown it in my wife's car when we tripped with her, and never in a friends car.

For the few past years, we have dabbled in having a few items in our respective cars “just in case.” We go through them during the month of May and then again in October or November to adapt to the seasons.

It is within the realm of reason that anyone of us can be caught in an event. Away from home, somewhat stranded and in need of basics to safely survive a day or two. This happened to hundreds of people across the nation this past winter. A bad snow storm, some ice and cold cold weather shut down miles of highway and stranded all who were traveling.

Pick up a newspaper or read a few headlines online today and apply the situation to yourself. The Fort McMurry fire, for example. Ninety thousand people having to flee. Area destroyed and fire growing.

If you knew the fire was coming and might have to leave, how long would you wait and would you make or have a plan? If you lived there, you would already know there were only two routes of escape.

After breakfast this morning, I emptied BOB on the bed and gutted it. All compartments cleaned out and a few items tossed. Several items never again to be a part of this bag due to size and weight. Now BOB is lighter and designed for three days' emergency travel. Just the basics. Any other frills or perceived needs will be stored in the vehicle or, I can adapt new travel behaviors to make sure other items of importance are always available to choose from if needed. Today BOB is designed for moving from point A to point B. Moving is the key word. Hydration is concern one and controlling blood sugar and nutrition number two.

BOB now.
  • Two 5 gallon black trash bags
  • two eyeglasses w/ repair kit
  • Ben's bug spray
  • mosquito head net
  • antibiotic ointment
  • sun block
  • potassium iodide tablets
  • redline flashlight
  • two hand warmers
  • sugar cubes
  • glucose tabs
  • thermal tent with rope
  • moleskin
  • benadryl
  • liquid bandage
  • water purification tabs
  • tootsie rolls
  • poison ivy pen
  • state map
  • sawyer mini water filter set
  • alcohol wipes
  • eye gel
  • bic lighter on neck lanyard
  • coated aspirin
  • survival kit in a can
  • small elastic bandage
  • multi tool
  • oral gel antiseptic
  • hand sanitizer
  • ibuprofen
  • watch
  • two raspberry drink mix
  • two tuna in oil packets
  • two peanut butter cups
  • three KIND nut bars
  • tin of sardines
  • plastic spoon
  • toilet paper
  • salt packets
  • compass
  • Imodium
  • Survival knife
  • trail mix (home made)

In a perfect emergency situation, I will hydrate, eat and dress from other items in the vehicle. Then set out on foot (if necessary) with this bag and a few other items that would be determined at that time. BOB compliments good hiking boots, seasonal clothing and Boonie hat. BOB will always be up-dated for improvement.

This morning I am again reading new articles on the Fort McMurry fire in Canada. This has turned into a life changing event for a large number of folks. I try to put myself into this situation. Leaving everything behind and losing it all. I know it is only things. Their lives are now in the hands of others and will be for some time to come.

Now is a good time to think and and act on preparing throw and go 5 gallon buckets, throw and go water and topping off several fuel containers.

Luck favors the prepared.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


Flipping through You Tube videos for entertainment recently and watched Julia Child's teach making French Onion Soup. Her accent and the emphasis she puts on her cooking terminology is in and of itself, entertaining.

Near the end of the video she says to put the cheese covered soup in the oven to brown it and be careful not to burn it. Well, she did burn it. No re-do, re-play or editing. Just burned French Onion Soup brought into the dinning room and ladled into a bowl for serving. She did not bat an eye, just carried on.

I also found Jacques Pepin, whom I had never heard of before. Watched a few of his videos. A pleasant change of pace from other main stream presentations. It was his video on making RATATOUILLE that gets this blog posted this morning.

I love vegetables and am open to most any vegetable cooked in any fashion. My wife is more streamlined and only likes what she likes. Quite often a raised eyebrow when I am experimenting in the kitchen. And that is fine. So the Ratatouille was thrown together during one of her gone work days. I can make my messes and get them all cleaned up before she arrives home.

I followed Pepin's video and appreciated the small kitchen he was working in and not having enough room to set things aside in a cooking procedure. My kinda guy. And there was no delicate procedure in the making of Ratatouille. Garlic and vegetables chopped and added to the pot. A little salt and pepper and cook for an hour or so. I cooked for a half hour as I do not like over cooked vegetables.

I let it set for an hour, ladled a couple of scoops into a soup bowl, sprinkled on some cheese and ringed the edge of the bowl with cool Calamata olives.
It was very good. I liked the flavor, broth and could see another batch made from fresh garden vegetables this summer. The olives were the “icing on the cake” and flavor enhancing. Tasted better the next day as so many leftovers do. From the wife, raised eyebrows and a sideways glance. We move on.

Seasons changing here and not earth shaking news. But I am always amazed, more so as I get older, at mother nature and the comings and goings of her annual brood.

The new garlic peaking out early ahead of the rest of the crop. A sign that spring is springing. Chives exploding all on their own. The Pear and Apple trees just coming into bloom today as is all the other greenery. Just today they are breaking free. Fresh yellow on the Forsythia near the flag pole and of course her lilies have been ahead of the curve here by weeks.

I tried pushing mother nature here a few days ago by getting into the sun drenched rocking chair on the front porch. Was going to start surveying the kingdom with dog at my side. But try as I did to enjoy sun soaking, the gentle left over winter wind won the moment.

I read this morning that the “Millennials” are now the largest living generation. Also learned that at 70 years old, I am no longer categorized. Cannot hold on to “Baby Boomer” any more. My son is not a Millennial, he is “Generation X.” I am disappointed in that as I was planning on letting him know that his generation is in charge now. I guess his time has passed too. He has to wait till 2028 but I bet today's classifications will all be redefined by then. A new generation is officially upon us. Feels good to pass all of that responsibility on to someone else.

When someone starts to complain in my presence, I am going to point towards someone between the ages of 18 and 34 and explain that the Millennials are now in the driver's seat. But, self driving cars, buses and trucks coming soon to a roadway near you. Robots cooking and serving your lunch? Chalk on the sidewalk a problem? Tell a Millennial!!