FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day February 4 and 5 2017

A bit shorter blog today, as I have to get to Bart’s house, a great friend of FOD, for the Super Bowl!  Thanks for hosting Bart.


While the battle for Bataan continued throughout the night of February 4 1942, the USS Trout (SS-202) rendezvoused with PT-34 off Corregidor and was escorted through its minefields to its South Dock.  Trout delivered 20 tons of ammunition to the besieged American forces on CorregidorTrout unloaded her ammunition cargo, refueled, loaded two torpedoes, and requested additional ballast. Since neither sandbags nor sacks of concrete were available, she was given 20 tons of gold bars and silver pesos to be evacuated from the Philippines. The specie came from twelve Philippine banks emptied of their assets, absent the paper money, all of which had been burned to prevent it from falling into Japanese hands. She also loaded securities, mail, and United States Department of State dispatches before submerging shortly before daybreak to wait at the bottom in Manila Bay until the return of darkness.  Trout is credited with sinking 12 enemy ships for 37,144 tons according to JANAC records. During her first ten war patrols she made 32 torpedo attacks, firing 85 torpedoes, including 34 hits, 5 confirmed premature detonations, 5 confirmed duds, and 25 suspected duds. She was also involved in six battle surface actions and was attacked with depth charges eight times.  She was reported overdue on 17 April 1944 and presumed lost on her eleventh war patrol.



Who is allowed to immigrate to the US is not just a topic for today, but has been the subject of friendly and unfriendly discourse since the beginning of our nation.  The first rules regarding immigration date back to the Naturalization Act of 1790.  This law limited naturalization to immigrants who were free white persons of good character. It thus excluded American Indians, indentured servantsslaves, free blacks, and later Asians. Through a series of laws and through varied political climates attitudes have changed and changed again.  On February 5, 1917, the Immigration Act of 1917 was passed by a two-thirds majority, over President Woodrow Wilson’s veto the previous week.  It was the first bill aimed at restricting, as opposed to regulating, immigrants and marked a turn toward nativism. The law imposed literacy tests on immigrants, created new categories of inadmissible persons and barred immigration from the Asia-Pacific Zone. It’s interesting to note by looking at the enclosed Asiatic Barred Zone, that it included the majority of countries covered by President Trump’s travel ban, now on hold.  It governed immigration policy until amended by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 also known as the McCarran–Walter Act.  Native Americans were finally granted citizenship by the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, whether or not they belonged to a federally recognized tribe.  Almost immediately, the provisions of the law were challenged by Southwestern businesses. US entry into World War I, a few months after the law’s passage, prompted a waiver of the Act’s provisions on Mexican agricultural workers. It was soon extended to include Mexicans working in the mining and railroad industries and the exemptions continued through 1921.  The Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed in 1943. The Luce-Celler Act of 1946 ended discrimination against Asian Indians and Filipinos, who were accorded the right to naturalization, and allowed a quota of 100 immigrants per year. The Immigration Act of 1917 was later altered formally by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, known as the McCarran-Walter Act. It extended the privilege of naturalization to Japanese, Koreans, and other Asians. The McCarran-Walter Act revised all previous laws and regulations regarding immigration, naturalization, and nationality, and collected into one comprehensive statute.  Legislation barring homosexuals as immigrants remained part of the immigration code until passage of the Immigration Act of 1990.  And the debate goes on.  Then there is the sonnet that American poet Emma Lazarus wrote in 1883 to raise money for the construction of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.   In 1903, the poem was engraved on a bronze plaque and mounted inside the pedestal’s lower level.


Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
MOTHER OF EXILES. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day Test from February 3, 2017

Doing some testing with the subscription block


On February 3, 1943 the troop ship SS Dorchester was off the coast of Newfoundland in the North Atlantic sea lanes known to be patrolled by German submarines.  The crew was on high alert for subs as an earlier sonar report of a submarine had been received.   The Dorchester had been a 5,649 ton civilian liner, 368 feet long with a 52-foot beam and a single funnel.  She had been converted for military service in World War II as a War Shipping Administration troop transport in accordance with US Army specifications.  She was operated by Atlantic, Gulf & West Indies Steamship Lines (Agwilines).  Designed for 314 civilian passengers and a crew of 90, she was able to carry slightly more than 900 military passengers and crew.  Among the roughly 900 soldiers who departed New York to their undisclosed destination on January 23, 1943 were four Army chaplains.  All newly minted First Lieutenants.   


They included Methodist minister the Reverend George L. Fox (upper left), Reform Rabbi Alexander D. Goode (Ph.D.)(lower left), Roman Catholic priest Father John P. Washington (lower right), and Reformed Church in America minister the Reverend Clark V. Poling (upper right). They were from varied backgrounds and denominations, but the four were chaplains who had met at the Army Chaplains School at Harvard University and were on their way to new assignments in the European theater.  Dorchester was part of a three ship convoy (SG-19 convoy), escorted by Coast Guard Cutters TampaEscanaba, and Comanche.  That night most men were attempting to sleep deep in the ship’s hold. Many had disregarded the ship’s captain, Hans J. Danielsen’s order to sleep in their clothes and to wear their lifejackets because of the heat below deck and let’s face it, they were uncomfortable.  At 0053 the German submarine U-223  fired a torpedo and that found its mark.  The torpedo knocked out the Dorchester‘s electrical system, leaving the ship dark. Panic set in among the men on board, many of them trapped below decks. The chaplains sought to calm the men and organize an orderly evacuation of the ship, helping to guide wounded men to safety. As life jackets were passed out to the men, the supply ran out before each man had one. The chaplains removed their own life jackets and gave them to others. They helped as many men as they could into lifeboats, and then linked arms and, saying prayers and singing hymns, went down with the ship.  Grady Clark, a survivor, wrote, “As I swam away from the ship, I looked back. The flares had lighted everything. The bow came up high and she slid under. The last thing I saw, the Four Chaplains were up there praying for the safety of the men. They had done everything they could. I did not see them again. They themselves did not have a chance without their life jackets.”  According to some reports, survivors could hear different languages mixed in the prayers of the chaplains, including Jewish prayers in Hebrew and Catholic prayers in Latin. Only 230 of the 904 men aboard the ship were rescued. Life jackets offered little protection from hypothermia, which killed most men in the water. The water temperature was 34 °F (1 °C) and the air temperature was 36 °F (2 °C). According to reports, by the time additional rescue ships arrived, “hundreds of dead bodies were seen floating on the water, kept up by their life jackets.”  On December 19, 1944, all four chaplains were posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Service Cross.  Congress attempted to confer the Medal of Honor on each of the four chaplains, but the stringent requirements for that medal required heroism performed “under fire,” and the bravery and ultimate sacrifice of these men did not technically qualify, since their actions took place after the torpedo attack. Therefore, members of Congress decided to authorize a special medal intended to have the same weight and importance as the Medal of Honor.   This award, the Four Chaplains’ Medal, was approved by a unanimous act of Congress on July 14, 1960, through Public law 86-656 of the 86th Congress.   The medals were presented posthumously to the next of kin of each of the Four Chaplains by Secretary of the Army Wilber M. Brucker at Ft. Myer, Virginia on January 18, 1961.  In 1988, by a unanimous act of Congress, February 3rd was designated as “Four Chaplains Day.”  The book No Greater Glory: The Four Immortal Chaplains and the Sinking of the Dorchester in World War II, written by Dan Kurzman, gives, I think, the best account among the books I have read about these ‘Immortal Chaplains.’  The Four Chaplains stained class window can be seen on the “A” Ring at the Pentagon. Greater love hath no man, than to lay down one’s life for his friends, John 15:13.





February 3, 1959, The Day the Music DiedBuddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson are killed when their chartered Beechcraft Bonanza plane crashes in Iowa minutes after takeoff from Mason City on a flight headed for Moorehead, Minnesota. Investigators blamed the crash on bad weather and pilot error.  The pilot, Roger Peterson, took off in inclement and overcast weather, although he was not an instrument rated pilot. This glasses memorial is at the crash site.


And also on February 3rd in 1946, Pan American World Airways inaugurated commercial aircraft operations with its new Lockheed Constellation L-049.  The L-049 Constellation model actually entered service as the C-69 military transport aircraft during World War II for the United States Army Air Forces and was the first civilian version after the war. 

The design dated back to 1939.  The wings of the aircraft were similar to those used by the P-38 Lightning fighter.  The Lockheed team included aircraft designer Clarence “Kelly” Johnson.  This was the first four-engine aircraft to be produced by Lockheed.  The final inspections were taken out on the XC-69 in January 1943, and the aircraft first flew on January 9 with Edmund Allen (Boeing’s chief test pilot who was borrowed for the occasion) at the controls. When the flight ended, Allen stated “This machine works so well that you don’t need me anymore!”  With that, Allen returned to Boeing. On April 17, 1944, the second production C-69 was flown by Howard Hughes and Jack Frye, President TWA on a flight between Burbank and Washington DC that took little less than seven hours. The aircraft was painted in full TWA livery for the occasion. Famous actress Ava Gardner was on board the aircraft at this time.  The first Pan Am Constellation was delivered on January 5, 1946.  Lockheed L-049 Constellation, Clipper Mayflower, NC88836, initiated scheduled service between New York and Bermuda.  And coincidentally, or maybe not, on the same day, Transcontinental and Western Airlines (“The Trans World Airline”) inaugurated non-stop passenger service from Los Angeles to New York with its Lockheed L-049 Constellation, Star of California, NC86503.  The 2,474-mile (3,954.2 kilometer) Great Circle flight took 7 hours, 27 minutes, 48 seconds, averaging 329 miles per hour (529.5 kilometers per hour), setting a National Aeronautic Association transcontinental speed record for transport aircraft.  With 52 persons aboard, this was the largest number carried in commercial passenger service up to that time.  The four Duplex-Cyclone engines burned 450 gallons (1,703.4 liters) of gasoline per hour. On landing, 610 gallons (2,309.1 liters) of fuel remained.  That wouldn’t exactly make the reserve fuel requirements of today.


I think that one of the best scenes in the movie Lincoln depicts the Hampton Roads Conference of February 3, 1865 aboard the steamboat River Queen in Hampton RoadsVirginiaRepresentatives of the Confederacy wanted to put forth a proposition that would end the Civil War.  All were aware of the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution had passed by the House on January 31, 1865.  (I note I was remiss in not commenting on this in FOD). 

President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William H. Seward, representing the Union, met with three commissioners from the Confederacy: Vice President Alexander H. Stephens, Senator Robert M. T. Hunter, and Assistant Secretary of War John A. Campbell.  Stephens discussed the topic of a military alliance against France in Mexico, but Lincoln cut him off and asked directly about the question of sovereignty. Prodded by Campbell, Lincoln insisted that the South would have to disband its armies and submit to federal authority.  Campbell wrote: “We learned in five minutes that the assurances to Mr. Davis were a delusion, and that union was the condition of peace.”  Stephens asked if there was any way to stop the war.  Lincoln replied,  They can, at any moment, have peace simply by laying down their arms and submitting to the national authority under the Constitution. . . . If questions should remain, we would adjust them by the peaceful means of legislation, conference, courts, and votes, operating only in constitutional and lawful channels. . . . In presenting the abandonment of armed resistance to the national authority on the part of the insurgents, as the only indispensable condition to ending the war on the part of the government, I retract nothing heretofore said as to slavery. I repeat the declaration made a year ago, that “while I remain in my present position I shall not attempt to retract or modify the emancipation proclamation, nor shall I return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of that proclamation, or by any of the Acts of Congress.  I think the delegation underestimated Lincoln’s resolve to make an end to slavery.  However, Lincoln’s moral opposition to slavery did not override his understanding of the Constitution; therefore, Lincoln may have believed that the rebel states would have a right to reject the Thirteenth Amendment if they rejoined the Union.  In less than five hours, the conference ended.  No concessions were granted and the war continued for several more months.

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day January 31 through February 2, 2017

There’s a new FOD photo above.  Now there is some of that other fod.  I don’t know how long it will stay, but it’s something different to grace the opening of today’s FOD.


The comments box is working.  If you send a comment, after I see it, I can post it.  The subscribe box is still a work in progress.  It’s there, but not really functioning ….. yet.


Well it’s Ground Hog Day.  Well it’s Ground Hog Day.  Well it’s Ground Hog Day.  Dobber, a friend of FOD noted this morning: “So, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and said there would be 6 more weeks of winter.  Many activists decided to protest Phil’s position with crowds chanting “Lock him up” and “Shot him and eat him”.  In a related story Staten Island Chuck emerged from his lair today and said ‘eh…..I tink winter is over.  You get me?’  The White house declined to comment on either.” Likely Trump was in the midst of creating discontent with the PM of Australia and was unavailable to Tweet.  Australia has fought side-by-side with the US in every conflict since WW I.  Norm’s dachshunds, Max Throttle, Ben Norman and Floyd we bred to hunt badgers, prairie dogs and other burrow-dwelling animals.  The first Groundhog Day was in 1887 and Punxsutawney Phil has had his successes in predicting the coming of Spring, but it’s a secret as to how/if/when he actually sees his shadow.  Bill Murray was nowhere to be seen at this year’s event.  In the movie Ground Hog Day, starring Bill, the “Cherry Street Inn,” is and was a private home at the time of the filming and is on Fremont Street.



On Tuesday night, President Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to become a Justice on the US Supreme Court.  He would fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016 (third from the left in the photo left).  Perhaps it is fitting to point out that on February 01, 1790, the Supreme Court met for the first time in the Royal Exchange Building on Broad Street, a few steps from Federal Hall, in New York City.  (right).  A few months earlier, on September 24, 1789, the  Judiciary Act of 1789 was passed by the First United States Congress and called for six justices.  The next day President George Washington appointed John Jay to head the Court as Chief Justice, John Rutledge of South Carolina, William Cushing of Massachusetts, John Blair of Virginia, Robert Harrison of Maryland, and James Wilson of Pennsylvania to serve as associate justices.  Two days later, all six were confirmed by the Senate.  I’m sure Neil Gorsuch would wish for that simpler confirmation process.  Article Three of the Constitution established the Supreme Court and granted the Court ultimate jurisdiction over all laws on cases involving US treaties, foreign diplomats, admiralty practice and maritime.  While the Supreme Court is the final interpreter of federal constitutional law, it can only act within the context of a case in which it has jurisdiction.  The Constitution does not prescribe the number of justices and Congress has added justices to correspond to the number of judicial circuits:  seven in 1807, nine in 1837 and ten in 1863. When the Court initially met, they had no cases to consider.  They waited a few days, adjourned and went home till September.  Justices have a life tenure , unless they retire, resign or are removed after impeachment.   Non have been removed by impeachment. Justices are addressed as “Justice” rather than “Judge.”  The Court meets in the United States Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C, and I hope to be able to attend a session one of these days.




Mission STS-107 was the 113th Space Shuttle launch. Planned to begin on January 11, 2001, the mission was delayed 18 times and eventually launched on January 16, 2003, following STS-113.  Columbia was on her 18th mission. About 82 seconds after launch from Kennedy Space Center‘s LC-39-A, a suitcase-sized piece of foam broke off from the External Tank (ET), striking Columbia‘s left wing reinforced carbon-carbon (RCC) panels. When Columbia re-entered the atmosphere of Earth, the damage allowed hot atmospheric gases to penetrate and destroy the internal wing structure, which caused the spacecraft to become unstable and break apart. As demonstrated by ground experiments conducted by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB), this likely created a 6-to-10-inch (15 to 25 cm) diameter hole, allowing hot gases to enter the wing when Columbia later re-entered the atmosphere. At the time of the foam strike, the orbiter was at an altitude of about 66,000 feet (20 km; 12.5 mi), traveling at Mach 2.46 (1,626 miles per hour or 727 meters per second). A few previous shuttle launches had seen minor damage from foam shedding, but some engineers suspected that the damage to Columbia was more serious. NASA managers however limited the investigation, reasoning that the crew could not have fixed the problem if it had been confirmed.  The crew included:  Commander: Rick D. Husband, a U.S. Air Force Colonel and mechanical engineer, who piloted a previous shuttle during the first docking with the International Space Station (STS-96); Pilot: William C. McCool, Commander USN; Payload Commander: Michael P. Anderson, a U.S. LTCOL Air Force, Payload Specialist: Ilan Ramon, a colonel in the Israeli Air Force and Israel’s first astronaut;  Mission Specialist: Kalpana Chawla; Mission Specialist: David M. Brown, Captain USN; and Mission Specialist: Laurel Blair Salton Clark, a U.S. Navy captain and flight surgeon.  I knew Willy McCool (right) from my fleet days when he was a  EA-6B Prowler pilot and a Landing Signal Officer (LSO) with (VAQ-129) at NAS Whidbey IslandWashington, aboard the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea.  I also knew Dave Brown (left).  I remember him as a very funny and was a really smart guy. He was a good friend of a good friend of mine.  He was an M.D. who completed flight surgeon training and then was one of the very few flight surgeons to be selected for pilot training.  He flew the A-6E Intruder and later the F/A-18 Hornet.  He later went on and  graduated from U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.  It’s good to remember them both.  After the disaster, Space Shuttle flight operations were suspended for more than two years, as they had been after the Challenger disaster. Construction of the International Space Station (ISS) was put on hold; the station relied entirely on the Russian Roscosmos State Corporation for resupply for 29 months until Shuttle flights resumed with STS-114 and 41 months for crew rotation until STS-121.  In a risk-management scenario similar to the Challenger disaster, NASA management failed to recognize the relevance of engineering concerns for safety and suggestions for imaging to inspect possible damage, and failed to respond to engineers’ requests about the status of astronaut inspection of the left wing. Engineers made three separate requests for Department of Defense (DOD) imaging of the shuttle in orbit to more precisely determine damage. While the images were not guaranteed to show the damage, the capability existed for imaging of sufficient resolution to provide meaningful examination. NASA management did not honor the requests and in some cases intervened to stop the DoD from assisting.  The CAIB recommended subsequent shuttle flights be imaged while in orbit using ground-based or space-based DoD assets.  Throughout the risk assessment process, senior NASA managers were influenced by their belief that nothing could be done even if damage were detected. This affected their stance on investigation urgency, thoroughness and possible contingency actions. They decided to conduct a parametric “what-if” scenario study more suited to determine risk probabilities of future events, instead of inspecting and assessing the actual damage.  On August 26, 2003, the CAIB issued its report on the accident. The report confirmed the immediate cause of the accident was a breach in the leading edge of the left wing, caused by insulating foam shed during launch. The image left shows debris coming off the left wing of Columbia.  The image below shows the debris reentering the earth’s atmosphere over Texas. The report also delved deeply into the underlying organizational and cultural issues that led to the accident. The report was highly critical of NASA’s decision-making and risk-assessment processes. It concluded the organizational structure and processes were sufficiently flawed and that a compromise of safety could be expected no matter who was in the key decision-making positions.  The CAIB report found that NASA had accepted deviations from design criteria as normal when they happened on several flights and did not lead to mission-compromising consequences. One of those was the conflict between a design specification stating that the thermal protection system was not designed to withstand significant impacts and the common occurrence of impact damage to it during flight.  This phenomenon was termed “normalization of deviance” by sociologist Diane Vaughan in her book on the Challenger launch decision process and is a term used widely today when discussing risk analysis. The board made recommendations for significant changes in processes and organizational culture.  The Columbia disaster has been used as a very good Crew Resource Management (CRM) exercise as well.  Several technical and organizational changes were made, including adding a thorough on-orbit inspection to determine how well the shuttle’s thermal protection system had endured the ascent, and keeping a designated rescue mission ready in case irreparable damage was found. Except for one final mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope, subsequent shuttle missions were flown only to the ISS so that the crew could use it as a haven in case damage to the orbiter prevented safe reentry.


On February 2, 1876, the National League of Major League Baseball (MLB) is founded.  The American League was not established until 1901 and the first World Series was played in 1903.  The National League was formed from the  National Association of Professional Base Ball Players  (N.A.) and had eight original members: Chicago White Stockings from the N.A. (now the Chicago Cubs, not to be confused with the current Chicago White Sox of the American League); Philadelphia Athletics; Boston Red Stockings, the dominant team in the N.A. (now the Atlanta Braves, not to be confused with the present-day Boston Red Sox of the American League); Hartford Dark Blues from the N.A. (folded after the 1877 season); Mutual of New York from the N.A. (expelled after the 1876 season); St. Louis Brown Stockings from the N.A. (folded after the 1877 season, having committed to Louisville stars for 1878); Cincinnati Red Stockings, a new franchise (expelled after the 1880 season) and the Louisville Grays, a new franchise (folded after the 1877 season when four players were banned for gambling).  The teams now known as the Cincinnati RedsLos Angeles Dodgers (originally Brooklyn) and Pittsburgh Pirates have their beginnings in the original National League as well as the Chicago Cubs and the Atlanta Braves (originally in Boston, and later Milwaukee). The Cubs are the only charter member to play continuously in the same city. The other two pre-1892 teams still in the league are the Philadelphia Phillies and the San Francisco Giants (originally New York), both of which joined in 1883.  And of course the Cubs have played within the “Friendly Confines” of Wrigley Field since 1916 and were last year’s World Series winners.  It’s on my list of places to see a game.




2 February 1974: Test pilot Philip F. Oestricher made the first test flight of the General Dynamics YF-16 Light Weight Fighter prototype, 72-1567, at Edwards Air Force Base, California. During the 90-minute flight the airplane reached 400 knots (740.8 kilometers per hour) and 30,000 feet (9,144 meters).  In that first flight photo (left) you can see EAFB off the right wing.  The Fighting Falcon has key features including a frameless bubble canopy for better visibility, side-mounted control stick to ease control while maneuvering, a seat reclined 30 degrees to reduce the effect of g-forces on the pilot, and the first use of a relaxed static stability/fly-by-wire flight control system which helps to make it a nimble aircraft.  it is the second most common currently operational military aircraft in the world.  While many F-16s were produced according to various block designs, there have been many other variants with significant changes, usually due to modification programs. Other changes have resulted in role-specialization, such as the close air support and reconnaissance variants. Several models were also developed to test new technology.  Generally speaking the F-16 has a moderate wing loading, reduced by fuselage lift. The F-16 design also inspired the design of other aircraft, which are considered derivatives. Older F-16s are being converted into QF-16 drone targets by Boeing.  Over 4600 F-16s have been built.  It’s a great aircraft to fly.




FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day January 30 2017 supp

One, maybe two hours Kemosabe! For on this day in 1933, The Lone Ranger and his trusty scout Tonto (so I guess he wasn’t alone) make their debut on Detroit’s WXYZ radio to the stirring music of the William Tell Overture. The station-owner George Trendle and writer Fran Striker simply wanted to create an American version of the masked swashbuckler made popular by the silent movie actor Douglas Fairbanks in The Mark of Zorro, arming their hero with a revolver rather than a sword. Historical authenticity was far less important to the men than fidelity to the strict code of conduct they established for their character. The Lone Ranger never smoked, swore, or drank alcohol; he used grammatically correct speech free of slang; and, most important, he never shot to kill. More offensive to modern historical and ethnic sensibilities was the Indian scout Tonto, who spoke in a comical Indian patois totally unrelated to any authentic Indian dialect, uttering ludicrous phrases like “You betchum!”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day January 29 – 30, 2017

You should see some improvements to FOD.  You should be able to add a comment at the bottom and upon my approval, it will  appear.  There are a couple under the Recent Comments box.  And you should be able to sign up to subscribe, but I’m still working to figure out how to push it to all those who have signed up.  Thanks for your patience.  There’s a lot to do during retirement!


On January 29, 1944 the last battleship to enter US Navy service was christened – the USS Missouri (BB-63).  Her keel was laid on January 6, 1941 at the New York Navy Yard.  Missouri was the third  Iowa-class “fast battleship” designs planned in 1938 by the Preliminary Design Branch at the Bureau of Construction and RepairAfter her christening and launching she was rapidly completed and commissioned on June 11, 1944 and rushed to the Pacific Theater of World War II,
arriving in West Caroline Islands on January 13, 1945.  She put to sea on 27 January, to serve in the screen of the Lexington carrier task group of Mitscher’s TF 58, and on 16 February the task force’s aircraft carriers launched the first naval air strikes against Japan since the famed Doolittle raid, which had been launched from the carrier Hornet in April 1942. Missouri then steamed with the carriers to Iwo Jima where her main guns provided direct and continuous support to the invasion landings begun on 19 February. After TF 58 returned to Ulithi on 5 March, Missouri was assigned to the Yorktown carrier task group. On 14 March, Missouri departed Ulithi in the screen of the fast carriers and steamed to the Japanese mainland. During strikes against targets along the coast of the Inland Sea of Japan beginning on 18 March, Missouri shot down four Japanese aircraft.  She provided shore bombardment for the battle of Okinawa and shelled the Japanese home islands.

This photo (right) shows her being hit by a kamikaze on her starboard side April 11, 1945.  The Japanese pilot’s body was recovered and Captain Callaghan decided that the young Japanese pilot had done his job to the best of his ability, and with honor, so he should be given a military funeral. Missouri’s crew hand stitched a Japanese flag for the occasion and the following day he was buried at sea with military honors.   Less than a month later, the USS Missouri serves as the location for the surrender ceremony on September 2, 1945 during which Japan formally and unconditionally surrendered to the Allies ending the Second World War (photos below).  During the surrender ceremony, the deck of Missouri was decorated with a 31-star American flag that had been taken ashore by Commodore Matthew Perry in 1853 after his squadron of “Black Ships” sailed into Tokyo Bay to force the opening of Japan’s ports to foreign trade. This flag was actually displayed with the reverse side showing, i.e., stars in the upper right corner: the historic flag was so fragile that the conservator at the Naval Academy Museum had sewn a protective linen backing to one side to help secure the fabric from deteriorating, leaving its “wrong side” visible. The flag was displayed in a wood-framed case secured to the bulkhead overlooking the surrender ceremony.  Another U.S. flag was raised and flown during the occasion, a flag that some sources have indicated was in fact that flag which had flown over the U.S. Capitol on 7 December 1941. This is not true; it was a flag taken from the ship’s stock, according to Missouri’s Commanding Officer, Captain Stuart “Sunshine” Murray, and it was “…just a plain ordinary GI-issue flag.”  For the surrender ceremony, General MacArthur ensured the assembled officers and sailors were the tallest available.  Missouri fought in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953 and this photo (right) shows her firing her 16 inch guns on enemy positions during the Korean War.
Notice the effect on the seawater under the guns.

She was decommissioned in 1955 into the United States Navy reserve fleets (the “Mothball Fleet”), but reactivated and modernized in 1984 as part of the 600-ship Navy plan, and provided fire support during Operation Desert Storm in January/February 1991.  The photo (left) shows her “unrepping”  with the USS Kitty Hawk (no airwing is
aboard) from the USNS Kawishiwi. In 1998, “Mighty Mo” was donated to the USS Missouri Memorial Association and became a museum ship at Pearl Harbor.  From here you can see the USS Arizona memorial.  The next time you’re in Hawaii, I recommend you visit her and see the location of this plaque where the Japanese surrender documents were signed.



January 29th  commemorated two national days:  Thomas Paine Day and Freethinkers Day.  Thomas Paine was a courageous freethinker, whose life and works inspired political and social advancements throughout the world, but particularly during the time of the American Revolution.  FOD should have noted that on January 10, 1776, he published Common Sense, a remarkable and powerful republican pamphlet which had an immediate success.  Later, you’ll recall from an earlier FOD, (19 December 2016), General George Washington read from Paine’s’ later published pamphlet The American Crisis to his troops at Valley Forge.
Between March 1791 and February 1792 he published numerous editions of his Rights of Man, in which he defended the French Revolution. The words of Thomas Paine inspired many to strive for political, economic and social advancement. He was among the first to call for an end to slavery and the establishment of human rights around the world.  In the 1990s, the Truthseeker magazine began celebrating Freethinkers Day on Thomas Paine’s birthday in order to educate the public on the importance of Thomas Paine in the history of freedom. Also in the 1990s, the Thomas Paine Foundation began celebrating the birthday of Thomas Paine on January 29th, a Thomas Paine Day proclamation on June 8 and other Paine theme events during the year.  And the question is – where would he stand on the issues of today?


And in preparation for unabashed snack food gormandizing this coming Super Bowl Weekend, 29 January is National Corn Chip Day.  Well it’s not officially recognized by Congress, but then again, who cares?  Corn chips – another method of ingesting: whole corn, vegetable oil (corn, soybean, and/or sunflower oil), salt, cheddar cheese (milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), maltodextrin, wheat flour, whey, monosodium glutamate, buttermilk solids, romano cheese whey protein concentrate, onion powder, partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oil, corn flour, disodium phosphate, lactose, natural and artificial flavor, dextrose, tomato powder, spices, lactic acid, artificial color (including Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Red 40), citric acid, sugar, garlic powder, red and green bell pepper powder, sodium caseinate, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate, nonfat milk solids, whey protein isolate, and corn syrup solids (whatever they are).  But they taste good!  You had better thoroughly enjoy your guacamole as the price of avocados may be going up quickly if President Trump goes ahead with a 20% tariff on goods imported from Mexico, to pay for a wall, we know will never work.  The decision to build a wall has so far kept out one Mexican – Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, leader of America’s third largest trading partner, a close ally and our neighbor in North America.  All because of a misguided campaign promise? Holy guacamole! Besides produce, automakers and appliance manufacturers have established supply chain strategies utilizing parts manufactured in Mexico, in concert with the 1994 NAFTA agreement.  A tariff could see car sticker prices rise 10%, and your next refrigerator could go up 20%.  Holy guacamole!


In the last FOD, I mentioned there were some baseball stories out there.  On January 29, 1936, the U.S. Baseball Hall of Fame elected its first members in Cooperstown, New York: (left to right):

Ty Cobb   Babe Ruth,  Honus WagnerChristy MathewsonWalter Johnson. The Hall of Fame actually had its beginnings in 1935, when plans were made to build a museum devoted to baseball and its 100-year history. A private organization based in Cooperstown, N.Y., called the Clark Foundation thought that establishing the Baseball Hall of Fame in their city would help to reinvigorate the area’s Depression-ravaged economy by attracting tourists. To help sell the idea, the foundation advanced the idea that U.S. Civil War hero Abner Doubleday invented baseball in Cooperstown. The story proved to be phony, but baseball officials, eager to capitalize on the marketing and publicity potential of a museum to honor the game’s greats, gave their support to the project anyway.  In preparation for the dedication of the Hall of Fame in 1939–thought by many to be the centennial of baseball–the Baseball Writers’ Association of America chose the five greatest superstars of the game as the first class to be inducted: Ty Cobb was the most productive hitter in history; Babe Ruth was both an ace pitcher and the greatest home-run hitter to play the game; Honus Wagner was a versatile star shortstop and batting champion; Christy Matthewson had more wins than any pitcher in National League history; and Walter Johnson was considered one of the most powerful pitchers to ever have taken the mound.  Collectively they are known as the “Five Immortals.”

Today, with approximately 350,000 visitors per year, the Hall of Fame continues to be the hub of all things baseball. It has elected 278 individuals, in all, including 225 players, 17 managers, 8 umpires and 28 executives and pioneers.  There is also a library specifically for baseball history and information.  Add the Baseball Hall of Fame to your bucket list of places to visit.  It’s worth the trip.


Here in Seattle where it also was, “Once upon a midnight dreary,” Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous poem, “The Raven,” was published on January 29, 1845 in the New York Evening MirrorPerhaps he was reflecting on the time he spent as a cadet at West Point (that is one of the most dreary places in the Winter) where he was expelled for gambling.

Listen to this classic work:




And 28 January was the anniversary of the birth of Colonel Francis Stanley (Gabby) Gabreski, USAF.  He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Air Corps Reserve on 14 March 1941 and was as a fighter pilot with the 45th Pursuit Squadron of the 15th Pursuit Group at Wheeler Army AirfieldHawaii, on December 7, 1941.  2nd Lt. Gabreski trained on both the Curtiss P-36 Hawk and the newer Curtiss P-40 Warhawk.  He closely followed reports on the Battle of Britain and the role played in it by Polish RAF squadrons, especially by the legendary No. 303 Polish Fighter Squadron. He became concerned that the US did not have many experienced fighter pilots. This gave him an idea: since Polish squadrons had proved to be capable within the RAF and since he himself was of Polish origin and spoke Polish, he offered to serve as a liaison officer to the Polish squadrons to learn from their experience. The idea was approved. Serving with another Polish squadron, the No. 315 (Deblin) Squadron at RAF Northolt, he flew 20 missions but only saw combat once.  With lessons learned however, Gabreski became part of the 56th Fighter Group, flying the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, assigned to the 61st Fighter Squadron, and quickly became a flight leader in January 1943.  By March 27, he had 18 victory credits and had six multiple-kill missions to rank third in the “ace race” that had developed within VIII Fighter Command. He downed only one more aircraft in the next two months, during which time the two pilots ahead of him (Majors Robert S. Johnson and Walker M. Mahurin, also of the 56th FG) minimally increased their number of kills.  On May 22, Gabreski shot down three Fw 190s over a Luftwaffe airfield in northwest Germany. He tied Johnson as the leading ace in the European Theater of Operations on June 27 (passing Eddie Rickenbacker‘s record from World War I in the process), and on July 5, 1944, became America’s leading ace in the ETO, with his score of 28 destroyed matching the total at the time of confirmed victories of the Pacific Theater’s top American ace, Richard Bong. This total was never surpassed by any U.S. pilot fighting the Luftwaffe.  On July 20, 1944, he decided to fly just one more flight before returning home after his 300 combat hour limit.  On a strafing run at BassenheimGermany, he dropped his nose just a bit too much and the propeller blades of his Thunderbolt clipped the runway. The difference between low and too low.  The damage caused his engine to vibrate violently and he was forced to crash land. Gabreski ran into nearby woods and eluded capture for five days.   He used that SERE School Training.  Eventually he was captured and after being interrogated by Obergefreiter Hanns Scharff, he was sent to Stalag Luft I. He was liberated when Soviet forces seized the camp in April 1945.  He was recalled to active duty with the new USAF after WW II and he participated in aerial combat again during the Korean War. In June 1951, he and a group of selected pilots of the 56th FIW accompanied the delivery of North American F-86 Sabres of the 62d FIS to Korea aboard the escort carrier USS Cape Esperance. The planes and pilots joined the 4th Fighter-Interceptor Group at K-14 (Kimpo) Air Base, where most engaged in combat. On July 8, 1951, flying his fifth mission in an F-86, Gabreski shot down a MiG 15, followed by MiG kills on September 2 and October 2.
In total he added 6 ½ MIG kills to his 28 victories in WW II and become the all-time American Fighter Ace.  He was known as a great and very aggressive fighter pilot, but who lacked flight discipline, particularly toward his wingmen. Additionally he created an international incident by turning off his IFF and engaged MiGs over China including over two Chinese bases. Hey, it’s war folks – oh I forgot, it was a limited conflict police action. Colonel Gabreski retired from the Air Force 1 November 1967 after 27 years of service and 37.5 enemy aircraft destroyed. At the time of his retirement, he had flown more combat missions than any other U.S. Air Force fighter pilot and is the only pilot ace in two wars.


On January 30, 1862 the Navy’s first ironclad warship, USS Monitor, is launched (depicted below).  She’ll be commissioned a month later.  Monitor is most famous for her central role in the Battle of Hampton Roads on 9 March 1862, where, under the command of Lieutenant John Worden, she fought the casemate ironclad CSS Virginia (built on the hull of the former steam frigate USS Merrimack) to a standstill (below).

And at that moment every other ship in Navy’s worldwide became obsolete.
The unique design of the ship, distinguished by its revolving turret which was designed by American inventor Theodore Timby, was quickly duplicated and established the monitor type of warship.  In the photo right note the dents in the turret.  Monitor foundered while under tow in December 1862 during a storm off Cape Hatteras.  Monitor‘s wreck was discovered in 1973 and has been partially salvaged (below).

Her guns, gun turret, engine and other relics are on display at the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Virginia.  I’m putting this on my list of places to go and things to see on my next east coast trip.

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