When Sarah Palin booked a flight to Europe, the French immediately surrendered.

calendar   Monday - May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

Well, peiper, I promised not to post anything like my Valentine’s Day post. This one is serious.

I remember well all the controversy when the Vietnam Memorial was designed and built. It was called an insult to our vets. A black gash in the ground, I remember reading.

Actually, it’s turned out to be brilliant.  The Vietnam Memorial has become the American version of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. So this Memorial Day, I’d like to present Reviewing the Troops by Jack E. Dawson.


And now, allow me to quote from Jack E. Dawson’s explanation:

At first glance, you see George Washington saluting the troops of past and present wars.  Every man and woman who has served our country to preserve freedom is to be honored.  A few are pictured to represent them all.  From left to right the soldiers represent a Vietnam Veteran, a Korean War Nurse, a soldier in Iraq/Afghanistan, a Persian Gulf Veteran, a living Vietnam Veteran, a Continental soldier, a Union Civil War soldier, a World War I Veteran, a Confederate Civil War soldier, a Vietnamese woman and baby, a World War II Veteran.  As a court would review the evidence and reach a verdict, these troops are being honored for their service to our country.  (Notice the word HONOR in the sidewalk.) On further inspection we find the real key to this painting.  It is the Lord (in the upper right corner) who is truly “reviewing the troops”.  We are to be counted as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. He is reviewing our lives.  The ultimate question is do I recognize and trust him?  The little girl is leaving a note at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall.  What do you think she is writing?

I’ve no idea what the little girl is writing. I hope she hasn’t recently lost a father, mother, or older brother or sister. I hope she’s leaving a note for the great-grandfather who died in Korea, or an uncle who fell in ‘Nam. Or maybe she’s not had to face such losses. Maybe she’s just doing what I hope we all do today–remember and give thanks for those who’ve died for us.


Posted by Christopher   United States  on 05/28/2012 at 04:30 AM   
Filed Under: • HeroesPatriotism •  
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calendar   Friday - May 25, 2012

I’m not worthy

I feel the need to respond to some emails and Facebook posts I’ve been getting.

Monday is Memorial Day. I’ve been getting thanks for being a veteran. From friends and family.

But being a veteran is not what Memorial Day is about. Memorial Day is the day set aside to honor those who died in service. I also include those who survived, but lost arms, legs, etc. I bet all of us know someone that fits either description.

Yes, I’m a veteran. I served six years in the Navy. We practiced daily. The worst things I remember was getting relieved of the mid-watch, crashing in my bunk, and 45 minutes later the Captain runs a drill: “Battle-stations. All hands man their battle-stations.” And that was about as close to combat as I ever got. Oh sure, my cruiser used to chase Soviet subs around… just for practice. This was especially fun if I were on Throttles: “Ahead Flank”, “Ahead 2/3rds”, “All Stop”, “Got ‘im! Ahead Full”. Yes, a Throttleman’s job could be fun.

So, this Memorial Day, please don’t dilute the meaning by thanking vets like me. Remember those who gave limb, or life.

(If you do want to thank vets like me, who may be heroes if only because we were there and deterred our enemies: Veteran’s Day is Sunday, November 11th this year.)


Posted by Christopher   United States  on 05/25/2012 at 02:41 PM   
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calendar   Monday - January 02, 2012

A post without riposteI

Darth Vader Is Dead

Well, not Darth exactly. Just the guy who put on his mask and did all his sword fighting. And who happened to be the best cut and thrust choreographer in Hollywood history.

WWII Vet, British Olympian, Foremost Fencing Choreographer Robert Anderson, 89

Great Britain Olympic fencer and movie sword master Bob Anderson died in New York on Monday aged 89.

He took part in the 1952 Olympics and the 1950 and 1953 World Championships. Anderson later wore Darth Vader’s black helmet to fight lightsaber battles in two of the first three Star Wars films.

Anderson, who worked with actors from Errol Flynn to Antonio Banderas during five decades as a sword master, fight director and stunt performer, died early New Year’s Day at an English hospital, the British Academy of Fencing said Monday.
Anderson, who has died at age 89, donned Darth Vader’s black helmet and fought light saber battles in two of the three original “Star Wars” films, “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi.”
The scenes worked beautifully, although Anderson, then nearing 60, was several inches shorter than Prowse.

Few knew of Anderson’s role until Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker, said in a 1983 interview that “Bob Anderson was the man who actually did Vader’s fighting.”

Robert James Gilbert Anderson was born in Hampshire, southern England, in 1922, and was drawn to fencing from an early age.

“I never took up the sword,” he said in an interview for the 2009 documentary “Reclaiming the Blade.” “I think the sword took me up.”

Anderson joined the Royal Marines before World War II, teaching fencing aboard warships and winning several combined services titles in the sport. He served in the Mediterranean during the war, later trained as a fencing coach and represented Britain at the 1952 Olympics and the 1950 and 1953 world championships. In the 1950s, Anderson became coach of Britain’s national fencing team, a post he held until the late 1970s. He later served as technical director of the Canadian Fencing Association. His first film work was staging fights and coaching Flynn on swashbuckler “The Master of Ballantrae” in 1952.

He went on to become one of the industry’s most sought after stunt performers, fight choreographers and sword masters, working on movies including the James Bond adventures “From Russia With Love” and “Die Another Day”; fantasy “The Princess Bride”; Banderas action romps “The Mask of Zorro” and “The Legend of Zorro”; and the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. [ Drew: not to mention all the “Pirates of the Caribbean”, “Highlander” (film and TV versions), and that Lindsay Lohan magnum opus “The Parent Trap” ]

Fencing academy president Philip Bruce said Anderson was “truly one of our greatest fencing masters and a world-class film fight director and choreographer.”

Fencers and others who play seriously with swords will sit through yet another viewing of The Princess Bride just to watch the sword fights, especially the one between Inigo Montoya and the mysterious Man In Black (aka the Dread Pirate Roberts), even though it was obviously played for laughs. It really is one of the best ever filmed. Bob Anderson will be missed. Prime, seconde, septime, and octave (the defensive parries*) will never be quite the same.

See More Below The Fold


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 01/02/2012 at 09:11 PM   
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calendar   Friday - December 30, 2011

For any George MacDonald Fraser fans

I present the the second book of his Flashman series. Royal Flash. In toto.


Posted by Christopher   United States  on 12/30/2011 at 11:39 AM   
Filed Under: • Fun-StuffHeroesMOVIES •  
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calendar   Saturday - December 17, 2011

Up In The Air, Junior Birdmen

Today is the 107th Anniversary of Powered Flight

Q: If it takes 2 wrongs to make a right, what does it take 2 rights to make?
A: An airplane.


Orville making history

On December 14, 1903, they felt ready for their first attempt at powered flight. With the help of men from the nearby government life-saving station, the Wrights moved the Flyer and its launching rail to the incline of a nearby sand dune, Big Kill Devil Hill, intending to make a gravity-assisted takeoff. The brothers tossed a coin to decide who would get the first chance at piloting and Wilbur won. The airplane left the rail, but Wilbur pulled up too sharply, stalled, and came down in about three seconds with minor damage.

Repairs after the abortive first flight took three days. When they were ready again on December 17, the wind was averaging more than 20 mph, so the brothers laid the launching rail on level ground, pointed into the wind, near their camp. This time the wind, instead of an inclined launch, helped provide the necessary airspeed for takeoff. Because Wilbur already had the first chance, Orville took his turn at the controls. His first flight lasted 12 seconds for a total distance of 120 ft (36.5 m) – shorter than the wingspan of a Boeing 707, as noted by observers in the 2003 commemoration of the first flight.[3]

Taking turns, the Wrights made four brief, low-altitude flights that day. The flight paths were all essentially straight; turns were not attempted. [ which just goes to show that two Wrights can’t make a left ] Each flight ended in a bumpy and unintended “landing”. The last flight, by Wilbur, was 852 feet (260 m) in 59 seconds, much longer than each of the three previous flights of 120, 175 and 200 feet. The landing broke the front elevator supports, which the Wrights hoped to repair for a possible four-mile (6 km) flight to Kitty Hawk village. Soon after, a heavy gust picked up the Flyer and tumbled it end over end, damaging it beyond any hope of quick repair. It was never flown again.

Pity that today’s anniversary isn’t also the anniversary of the government’s recognition of that triumph. That took until 1942, because of some favoritism in the old Old Boys Network ...

The Smithsonian Institution, and primarily its then-secretary Charles Walcott, refused to give credit to the Wright Brothers for the first powered, controlled flight of an aircraft. Instead, they honored the former Smithsonian Secretary Samuel Pierpont Langley, whose 1903 tests of his own Aerodrome on the Potomac were not successful. Walcott was a friend of Langley and wanted to see Langley’s place in aviation history restored. In 1914, Glenn Curtiss flew a heavily modified Aerodrome from Keuka Lake, N.Y., providing the Smithsonian a basis for its claim that the aircraft was the first powered, heavier than air flying machine “capable” of manned flight. Due to the legal patent battles then taking place, recognition of the ‘first’ aircraft became a political as well as an academic issue.

In 1925, Orville attempted to persuade the Smithsonian to recognize his and Wilbur’s accomplishment by offering to send the Flyer to the Science Museum in London. This action did not have its intended effect, and the Flyer went on display in the London museum in 1928. During World War II, it was moved to an underground vault 100 miles (160 km) from London where Britain’s other treasures were kept safe from the conflict.

In 1942 the Smithsonian Institution, under a new secretary, Charles Abbot (Walcott had died in 1927), published a list of the Curtiss modifications to the Aerodrome and a retraction of its long-held claims for the craft. The next year, Orville, after exchanging several letters with Abbott, agreed to return the Flyer to the United States.

The Wright brothers hailed from Dayton Ohio, so my guess is that Christopher is at the parade today. Dayton does have an annual Wright brothers parade, don’t they Chris?


Please note that the Wrights were the first to actually fly a manned, self-propelled, sustained, heavier than air vehicle that they could (at least in theory) control. Other folks had been gadding about in other vehicles that managed short hops, bounces, or fairly long glides for about 78 years before them, in various things with wings on that didn’t meet the full definition; “powered flight” had been around since 1783, with the Montgolfier brothers and there hot air balloons. 1783 was also a great year for brandy, right Brenda?

Oh, and of course jizzlam claims credit 1100 years earlier, because back in the year 800 or something some loonie muzzie got tarred and feathered, then leaped off a tall building, managing a sustained but uncontrolled flight. Straight down.

Here’s a neat video of a modern copy of the Wright Flyer showing that it can still get the job done:

It was not until 1908 that Louis Blériot figured out that the control surfaces really belonged on the back end of an airplane. The Wrights and several others of the early era (Curtis etc) put the elevators in front.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 12/17/2011 at 04:30 PM   
Filed Under: • HeroesHistoryNeat Inventionsplanes, trains, tanks, ships, machines, automobiles •  
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calendar   Thursday - September 01, 2011

Surviving Irene - Local Vermont Hero

Git ‘er done!

Killington VT excavation company rebuilds road,
opens town to outside world



the bronze Balto

a BMEWS award for saving lives during emergencies
or at least really helping lots of people all at once
without taking much personal risk

A little less trapped

KILLINGTON — Craig Mosher looked up the road and saw his next job. It wasn’t one he asked for.

The owner of Mosher Excavating, Inc. on Route 4 in Killington has been lauded by Killington townspeople for his rapid response to historic flooding that washed out a huge section of road just north of his home and business.

Since Monday, Mosher and four of his employees, who rode into work on ATVs, have used the company’s own excavating equipment to completely rebuild the road and redirect a brook into its normal path at the key intersection of Route 4 and River Road.

They’ve worked sunup to sundown.

Because of Mosher, more than 300 out-of-towners got out of Killington Wednesday morning and headed toward Woodstock and the interstate, and food and supplies can be delivered into town from the east.

Because of him, water isn’t flowing into the Kokopelli Inn, Goodro Lumber or into the rooms of houses anymore.

Because of him, the town feels less trapped.

“I’m not a hero, I just own an excavating company,” Mosher said, eating a salad for lunch as he leaned on his bulldozer Wednesday.

Mosher was given the go-ahead by the state to rebuild the road for access and redirect the brook as best as he could.

[Prior to the repair work] there was no way into town and no way out, the result of raging water that grew in otherwise calm brooks after the area received upwards of 6 inches of rain in a 24-hour period.

Smart move getting the Ok from the state ahead of time, but I kinda doubt that would have stopped them from doing what was necessary. Real Vermonters fix the problems then get back to work.

Mosher excavating owns about a dozen pieces of heavy equipment from diggers to graders to rollers and dumptrucks. They’ve been building roads and ponds, terracing hillsides, digging foundations and putting in septic tanks across Vermont and New Hampshire for years.

A dusty one-lane road out of Killington was open for three hours today. At least 400 cars packed with stranded tourists from Manhattan to Moscow slipped out, according to town Selectman Jim Haff.

“Craig is definitely a local hero,” said Roger Rivera, 33, an emergency worker with the state. “This is what Vermonters do. We don’t wait for help. We get it done ourselves.”

Residents had yet to be visited by FEMA workers, Haff said this morning. They are using public and private equipment to jury-rig as much infrastructure as possible, he said. Route 4 beyond Killington, while passable, is dangerous and few warning signs have been posted.

“FEMA is trying its hardest,” said Rivera. “But the whole state is a mess, and they can’t be everywhere.”

Refugee tourists were grateful for the escape route.

Killington? Yeah, the place that has had the big ski resorts. Had. Oh they’re still there, but it’s doubtful that they will have a season this winter. When Irene hit the area she dropped a foot of rain on the mountains in short order. In winter that all comes down as snow and is a blessing for the ski industry. In summer that’s rain, and what makes it to the bottom of the hill is mud. The Killington base lodge is in a sea of mud, and reports are that at two of the main buildings has foundation damage. Nearby Pico ski resort is also saying “closed for the season” before the season even gets close to beginning. Here’s a reverse color satellite image of the Killington resort. Red is trees, gray is mud:


For more on the ski resort story, see Bruce Sussman’s blog


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 09/01/2011 at 02:43 PM   
Filed Under: • Climate-WeatherHeroes •  
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calendar   Tuesday - June 14, 2011

Blimp Crash In Germany

Blimp Pilot Sacrifices Himself To Save Passengers

It is with great sadness that we report the death of Captain Mike Nerandzic, one of the world’s most experienced Airship Pilots. With a total of 26 years airship piloting experience covering more than 18,000 flight hours in 24 countries, Mike has been a leading Chief Pilot on Lightships for 20 years. Our thoughts at this time go to his wife and family, his colleagues past and present and his many friends worldwide.



“Safety Together” read the message on the blimp. Moments later it was a crashing fireball

AN AUSTRALIAN blimp pilot has been hailed a hero after he saved three passengers by ordering them to jump from the burning airship only to then die himself.

Michael Nerandzic, from Balgownie in Wollongong, was attempting to land the A60 Goodyear airship at an airfield at Reichelsheim in Germany, when the blimp caught fire during descent. The 53-year-old and three journalists with him were returning from a local music festival.

It is understood the passengers smelt fuel and heard a loud whirring noise before the blimp caught fire. Realising the airship was only moments away from disaster, Mr Nerandzic then made the heroic decision to put his own life on the line to save those of his passengers.  Hovering 2m above the ground he yelled for the three passengers to jump from the gondola to safety below.

That decision reduced the ballast weight of the airship which is believed to have caused it to shoot 50m into the air where it exploded with the burning wreckage falling to the ground. Mr Nerandzic was unable to escape and died in the wreckage.

Witnesses said they heard loud noises coming from the air before spotting a “fireball” moments before it crashed into a meadow near the airfield.

“We could hear the cries of the pilot as the fire surrounded him. It was terrible,” one said.

Amateur video of part of the crash here; news report video at links above and below.

Witnesses - the passengers and ground crew I’d guess - reported smell fuel and hearing a loud whirring noise from one of the engines.


The wife of a Wollongong blimp pilot, who died saving three airship passengers in Germany, has said her husband was “larger than life” and “a character”.

Speaking to the Illawarra Mercury today, Lyndy Nerandzic said she was not surprised to hear of husband Michael’s heroic actions in the last minutes of his life.

“When they told me what he had done for the passengers, it didn’t surprise me one little bit,” she said.

imageBlimps are filled with helium, which is a gas that does not burn. Blimps do not have any internal support structures like the framework in the old Zeppelins. Once mostly filled with helium, the bag (ie the “envelope") is kept firm by the assistance of an inner bag called a ballonet, which contains regular air. As the blimp rises and the helium expands, the ballonet deflates. When the helium contracts, the ballonet inflates and takes up the volume.

I could not find detailed information on blimp design, but from the way this crash happened I do not believe that they are built with a big dump valve on top like hot air balloons are. Such a valve might have saved this pilot. Or maybe not; we’ll never know.

While helium by itself is fairly rare in nature, large amounts of it are freed as part of the natural gas purification process.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 06/14/2011 at 08:00 AM   
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calendar   Tuesday - December 07, 2010

DECEMBER 7, 1941, because we need to remember

There are 110 photos in this collection. Many you may have seen, but there might be some you haven’t. The photos are really HUGE at the link.

Here are just a few, and they’ve been reduced for space. 

This picture, taken by a Japanese photographer, shows how American ships are clustered together before the surprise Japanese aerial attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 1941. Minutes later the full impact of the assault was felt and Pearl Harbor became a flaming target. (AP Photo)









Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 12/07/2010 at 06:21 AM   
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calendar   Saturday - October 23, 2010

most unusual obit story I’ve posted since doing this. rip…brigadier dennis rendell, one of a kind

For certain, of all the stories with much derring -do, this soldier comes closest to a movie that might star Errol Flynn. This is an incredible history of a soldier’s story.  It isn’t as though there weren’t brave people on all sides.  And since I unfortunately only speak and read English I am limited to a great degree.  I mean, if I could read other languages I might be reading of stories like or similar to this one.  But from the reading I have done over the years there’s something I keep bumping into.  Brit derring-do.  A daredevil attitude if you will.  It’s as though they were always testing themselves and proving themselves.
It’s as if the Brits had an entire army of Otto Skorzenys.  And often it came from very ordinary appearing people. And btw ... even the women in cases where they were allowed to show what they were made of, did this country proud.  Once upon a time.
Nothing I’ve said here should be taken as diminishing the valor and guts and fighting ability of those boys and girls in the current fight in Afghanistan.  Different kind of war, different sort of opportunities and a very much different kind of fragmented home front. 


Brigadier Dennis Rendell (RIP)

Brigadier Dennis Rendell, who has died aged 89, had an adventurous career in the Parachute Regiment and the Royal Military Police, rising to become Provost Marshal, one of the most ancient of Crown appointments.

Rendell, flanked by two unsuspecting Germans, tries his luck at a fair while on the run in Italy

In November 1942, 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment (2 PR) dropped at Depienne, Tunisia, with orders to destroy the enemy landing ground at Oudna. During the initial attack Rendell, then a lieutenant, led his platoon under heavy fire from armoured vehicles. Ignoring the dangers, he went forward alone to ascertain the best approach and played a notable part in the capture of the railway station.

After four days and nights of fierce fighting, Rendell’s platoon covered the battalion’s withdrawal. Despite being surrounded and virtually out of ammunition, with Rendell wounded and most of his men casualties, they fought on, enabling the remnants of the battalion to disengage. Rendell and the survivors were captured and taken to a German regimental aid post. Rendell was subsequently awarded a Military Cross.

After his capture, Rendell made two unsuccessful attempts to escape. On being moved to Italy he failed twice more but, in September 1943, eventually got away from a camp at Sulmona.

With the onset of winter, travel in the mountains became too hazardous, and he returned to Sulmona to hide out and wait for the spring.
One day in November, a travelling fair set up in the main square of the town.

Among the sideshows was a short shooting range where customers could try their luck with an air rifle at hitting a plate 20 yards away. If they succeeded, the impact of the slug “triggered” an automatic flashlight photograph of the marksman. Rendell and six of his fellow escapees could not resist visiting the fair. Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe servicemen were at the range, but their shooting was poor and the camera seldom flashed.

Two Luftwaffe men put up such an abysmal performance that Rendell, exasperated beyond endurance, could stand no more. He grabbed the rifle, rammed a slug up the breach, aimed and fired. A satisfying clang followed by a large flash signalled a bullseye. The fugitives, rather shaken by attracting so much attention, collected the film and slipped away quickly – leaving the Germans to pay.

Soon after this adventure the organisation was betrayed.

On one occasion Rendell, whose highly proper manner masked a daredevil streak that erupted from time to time, approached several senior German officers at the opera house. In execrable Italian he asked one of them to sign his programme. When Rendell returned to his comrades they asked him if he had gone off his rocker – the German officer in question was the Military Governor of Rome.



Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 10/23/2010 at 04:38 AM   
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calendar   Saturday - August 07, 2010

Vietnam Homecoming

This one’s a tear-jerker.

H/T The Jawa Report


Posted by Christopher   United States  on 08/07/2010 at 08:52 PM   
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calendar   Sunday - April 04, 2010

Wonderful Spam!

Damn it! I just can’t get that Monty Python ditty out of my head now…

From the Daily Telegraph (How did peiper miss this? H/T flapjawman)

An Army chef whose supply helicopter was shot down by the Taliban devised an ingenious menu to feed frontline troops for six weeks on a diet of nothing but Spam.

But father-of-one Cpl Francis, married to wife Nadine, 27, of Tidworth, Wilts., admitted that ‘’morale improved’’ when fresh food finally reached their base.

‘’We were on compo (compound rations) for six weeks and we only had one menu - Spam,” he said.

‘’I was surprised what we could do: sweet and sour Spam, Spam fritters, Spam carbonara, Spam stroganoff and Spam stir fry.

‘’The first day off Spam, I prepared battered sausages, chips and curry sauce. The Sergeant Major said it was the best meal he had ever had - he’d never seen morale so high.’’

Cpl Francis, who serves as a Royal Logistics Corp chef attached to the 2nd Royal Welsh Guards, began his tour of Afghanistan in July last year.

But he found the store cupboards at the Forward Operating Base had only one staple ingredient - Spam.

Taliban fighters shot down a civilian supply helicopter the day before he arrived leaving him without the usual beef burgers, chicken, sausages and fish and chips.

Yikes! The war in Afghanistan is turning into a food fight!


Posted by Christopher   United States  on 04/04/2010 at 08:52 AM   
Filed Under: • Fine-DiningHeroesWar On Terror •  
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calendar   Friday - March 19, 2010

One hell of brave Battling Brit, kept on defying Taliban death traps

One hell of a brave soldier!  Just another fine example of Brit training and bravery in the field.  There’s so many articles about the useless scum in the streets that sometimes we lose site of guys like this cos they do not alway get the spotlight.  (gee, I hope he likes poetry cos according to one would be expert, those who don’t are lesser beings. )


George Cross heroes: The bomb experts who kept on defying Taliban death traps

By Ian Drury and Fay Schlesinger
Last updated at 4:30 PM on 19th March 2010

After booby-trap bombs killed two of his comrades and left four maimed and stranded in the middle of a minefield, Staff Sergeant Kim Hughes knew he had no time to consider his own safety.

The bomb disposal expert had to clear a path across the dusty open ground so the wounded could be evacuated and the dead men retrieved - and he had to do it fast.

Shunning protective clothing to save time, the 30-year-old picked his way across the field dotted with more of the booby-trap bombs.

And all the time he knew the field was being watched by the Taliban fanatics who had planted the bombs. Indeed, even as he inched nearer the injured men, bullets were flying overhead as other soldiers tried to keep the gunmen at bay.

But, keeping his cool beneath the Afghan sun, he managed to dismantle seven of the improvised explosive devices - three by simply using his hands. There was no time to place charges and retreat to a safe distance.

His actions were described as ‘extraordinary’ by senior Army officers and yesterday Staff Sgt Hughes was awarded the George Cross for carrying out ‘the single most outstanding act’ of bomb disposal in Afghanistan.

It was one of two GCs - the UK’s highest accolade for gallantry not in the face of the enemy - to be conferred. The other was awarded posthumously to his friend and fellow bomb disposal expert Staff Sgt Olaf Schmid, 30



Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 03/19/2010 at 01:45 PM   
Filed Under: • Battling Brits HeroesMilitaryUKWar-Stories •  
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calendar   Sunday - March 07, 2010

RAF helicoptor pilot shot between the eyes by Taliban flies 20 to safety … England expects ….

I am buried today in work and frustration caused by AT&T.  Must change over all addresses and make copies of stuff and, yadda,yadda.

It almost seems as though the kids at ATT don’t seem to be aware that there are folks overseas who have (and pay) for their services. With 50 minute wait times and two weeks already spent trying and failing to get anywhere, I guess I’m about to close my ATT account after 10 years.  Hate to do that coz generally their tech support for some things can not be faulted.  But I guess all good things must come to an end. My worry now is that they’ll continue to charge us and it’ll be just as tough getting through again. You can’t believe the nightmare.  For example, their email tells us we had till the end of march.  But someone on the phone said oh no.  March 8 is the deadline but someone else said .. NO. March 15 is the deadline.  Bah. Grumble.  I give up! It just isn’t worth it trying to get anywhere with them anymore.  And oh yeah, to make thing worse yet, they have incorrect instructions on their migration site that they aren’t even aware of. And no way to inform them.  Tried it. And forget emails. What a bad joke that is.  I’ve tried writing every place I could find an email for and have received not one reply in two weeks of trying.

I feel pretty stupid complaining about that considering what this awesome RAF pilot has done.  OK he didn’t have many choices it’s true but hey. These guys are to be admired and honored.  What they are going through is NO WALK IN THE PARK!

I hadn’t intended to post today due to all the above mentioned stuff, but ran across this. This is my only post for today.

An RAF helicopter pilot who was shot between the eyes by a Taliban bullet still managed to fly all 20 passengers to safety.


The Chinook flown by Flight Lieutenant Ian Fortune, 28, was brought in to pick up casualties during a firefight between American and Afghanistan forces and heavily armed rebels near Garmsir in Helmand Province, said a report in The Sun.

The pilot was told it was too dangerous to land and circled the landing area. The Chinook came under fire after eventually landing - which continued as casualties were loaded on board - and Flt Lt Fortune was hit by a Taliban bullet as he took off.

The shot hit the rail on the front of his helmet which is normally used to attach night vision goggles.
It penetrated his helmet hitting him between the eyes and causing severe bleeding.

Further bullets hit the helicopter’s’s controls damaging the stabilisation system.  Despite this Flt Lt Fortune was able to fly for eight minutes before landing at Camp Bastion.

This was the first time a pilot has been shot while in the air during the Afghanistan war.
Mike Brewer, a television presenter who was on board filming a documentary at the time, said: “The courage and heroism of the pilot was beyond belief.”



Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 03/07/2010 at 08:51 AM   
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calendar   Sunday - January 31, 2010

Lieutenant Colonel Lee Archer, Tuskegee Airman, served his country well.  RIP, Sir.

He had to overcome a lot in those days and apparently he did.  But it could not have been easy.  He deserves our respect and thanks.


Lieutenant-Colonel Lee Archer

Lieutenant-Colonel Lee Archer, who died on January 27 aged 90, was a member of America’s segregated “Tuskegee” air corps and recognised as the only black fighter “ace” during the Second World War; subjected to racial discrimination and prejudice, both within and outside the Army, he and his comrades none the less served their country with great distinction.

Strict racial segregation existed when Archer volunteered to be a pilot. He and like-minded African-Americans were at first rejected because many people thought black men lacked intelligence, skill, courage and patriotism.


Eventually, in June 1941, a series of legislative moves by the US Congress forced the Army Air Corps to form an all-black combat unit, despite the War Department’s reluctance. The pilots trained at a segregated Army Air Corps unit at Tuskegee Army Airfield, Alabama, and for ever more became known as the “Tuskegee Airmen”.

Lee A Archer was born on September 6 1919 in Yonkers and raised in New York’s Harlem district. He left New York University to enlist in the air corps in 1941 but, after rejection, trained in the infantry and then as a signaller. In December 1942 he was accepted for pilot training and left for Tuskegee. He graduated in July 1943, first in the order of merit, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant.

Archer was assigned to 302nd Fighter Squadron of 332nd Fighter Group, the USAAF’s first all-black unit, which had been formed amid great controversy in October 1942. The group moved to Italy early in February 1944 and soon began operations flying the Bell P-39 Airacobra on ground attack missions before converting to the P-51 Mustang, when their main role was to provide close escort to the USAAF’s heavy bomber forces. In their red-tailed Mustangs they developed a reputation as one of the war’s most effective fighter escort groups. It was claimed that they never lost a bomber, but postwar research suggests this might be a slight exaggeration. Nevertheless, the “Red Tails” earned near-mythic status.

On July 18 1944 they flew their first escort for a large formation of B-24 bombers. When a fierce air battle ensued over southern Germany, eleven Messerschmitt Bf 109s were shot down, one by Archer. The long-range Mustangs were able to accompany the bombers all the way to the target and back, and the bomber pilots always felt safe once their “little friends” had joined the formation. Many were unaware that all their “friends” were black airmen.

On October 22 1944 Archer took part in a sweep along the Danube. With his leader, he was attacking a Heinkel bomber when seven Messerschmitts appeared on the scene. In the ensuing battle, Archer shot down three of them, the last as it attempted to land.

The “Red Tails” escorted bomber formations to attack the oilfields of Romania, rail yards in Austria and on long-range operations to Regensburg and Munich. Archer shared in the destruction of another Messerschmitt and he was also credited with destroying six enemy aircraft on the ground, in addition to several locomotives, motor transports and barges. By the end of the war he had flown 169 missions.

The Tuskegee Airmen proved their racist detractors wrong. They were credited with shooting down 109 enemy aircraft and they proved some of the USAAF’s best pilots, many going on to win high rank once segregation in the military was ended in 1948.

Despite their prowess, few gallantry medals were received though Archer was awarded the DFC, the Air Medal with 18 clusters and a Distinguished Unit Commendation.

Archer retired from the USAAF in 1970. He joined General Foods Corporation, becoming one of the era’s few black vice-presidents of major American companies. He was an adviser on the deal that created the conglomerate TLC Beatrice in 1987, then the largest black-owned and managed business in the US. After retiring from General Foods in 1987, he founded the venture capital firm Archer Asset Management.

In 2005 Archer and three of his Tuskegee colleagues flew to Iraq to address active duty airmen serving in the current 332nd Group.

Archer lived long enough to see the service of Tuskegee airmen fully, if belatedly, acknowledged. In March 2007, about 350 airmen and widows received the Congressional Gold Medal of Honour from President George W Bush at a ceremony in the US Capitol. The present-day 99th Flying Training Squadron’s aircraft are adorned with red tails in honour of the black airmen. Many streets and parklands bear their name, and in August 2008 the city of Atlanta officially renamed a portion of the state’s Route 6 in their honour.

On December 9, 2008 Archer and the remaining Tuskegee Airmen were invited to attend the inauguration of Barack Obama.

Honoured by the American Fighter Pilots’ Association, Archer was described by a colleague as “extremely competent, sometimes stubborn but with a heart of gold. He treated people with respect and demanded respect by the way he carried himself.”

Lee Archer’s wife Ina, whose name adorned the nose of his Mustang, died in 1996. He is survived by three sons and a daughter.



Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 01/31/2010 at 01:11 PM   
Filed Under: • HeroesOBITITUARIES •  
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