Monday, March 25, 2019

Mi Familia

Apropos of nothing at! Nothing what-so-flipping-ever!

Now that we've got that out of the way, we'll get on with the show.

First out of the hat, we've got guests staying in the guest house (paying, always nice) so the horses (aka 2000# teenagers with an overabundance of curiosity) need to be put up into the corral.  Usually the sight of me driving up to the barn stimulates a learned response in them that says "dinner time!".  They come running!

Not so this time!

Not so fast, buster!  Where do you think you're going?

 And when I roll down the window to shush them out of the way.
Sheesh, buddy, I want to be in the air conditioned truck.

 Finally get them put up so they're out of the way, and it's a pretty good thing.  The guests include two girls ages 6 & 8.  They're curious also.  Curious and Curious don't necessarily mix well.

Weekend over and guests headed back home.  We reset the guest house for our next round.

The big day has arrived and DIL has returned from the Sandbox for a little vacay.  Aside from a brief sprint from Gate B to Gate Z at Frankfurt Airport, catching the cabin door as it was swinging shut, the trip was uneventful, if a bit long.
On the right on the stairs, the one with her eyes closed...That's My DIL!

Her original plan was to rent a car and drive over to our place.  Having made several similar trips in our lifetimes, Mrs J and I vetoed that and met her at the airport.  I was lead vehicle in the formation providing deer guard duty, Mrs J drove the rental home, and DIL was asleep in the passenger seat before we left the airport.

Why did she come back?  Well, it's her first overseas extended trip and she's been gone for six months, but...

I know  this ages me significantly, but apparently Pink is more than a color.  Supposedly, there's a musician with that name.  Who knew?  

But, Alecia Beth Moore, better known as "Pink", was performing in San Antonio, and DIL organized a plethora of relatives, friends and other acquaintances, to go with her to see said concert.

Which they did.

The following evening, I asked DIL to tell me some of the songs this musician is known for to see if I had heard of any of them.

After the tenth or twelfth "nope, never heard of it", she gave up.


I've included the picture of me which DIL referred me to.

Intent to edumacate myself on this "Pink" phenomenon, I DuckDuckGo'd* her and came up with this video of her husband teaching her daughter to shoot a rifle.

OK, then, She might just be alright.  

Played the next video

YMMV but not bad, not bad at all.

So, DIL's visit, or as I like to refer to it, "The 15,524 Mile Concert trip", was quite enjoyable.  She's off to visit her family and then some friends in Houston before returning on April 1. (How very foolish.)

Mrs J and I were all atwitter early in the week when we got a text from MBD and SIL saying to expect a call because they had some great news.

"Could it be?" we asked.

Well....sort of....There is an addition to their family coming.  

A dog.

Talulah is apparently a goldendoodle or something like that (Golden Retriever Poodle mix).

So...Granddog #2.

Finally, as I'm writing this, I've just received word that my Niece and her kids are coming by and are about 30 minutes out.  So.... I'll be back

I'm Bahck ! (No cars/buildings were harmed in the writing of this post, well except for the Queen's English.)

Mrs J and I scrambled on a Incoming Niece intercept.  Raced to and through the local supermarket. 

Sliced Cheese-Check!

Sliced Ham - Check!

Crackers- Check!

Grapes - Check!

Apple Juice - Check!

Beer - Check!  Reconfirm... Beer - Check!

Intercept occurred at 1215 Local at the Marktplatz playground. 

Future Fighter Pilot in training.  And Mom gets to play also.
Grand Niece is almost 3, Grand Nephew is almost 1.  Much sliding down slides was accomplished, a light lunch was consumed and a couple of Shiner Bocks were consumed.  

By about 1415 Local, mission was accomplished.  Grand Niece and Nephew were safely in the arms of Morpheus in their car seats and Niece was on the way home.

"So, Mrs J, what's  next on the social schedule?" he asks with trepidation.

"MBD and SIL along with Talulah arrive next Saturday for a get acquainted date with Talulah's cousins."

I may have to return to work.  I'm not sure I can hack the pace in this retirement thing.


* I no longer use "Googled", Sergei is officially Evil now.  The problem I've had  with font size the past few weeks can be duplicated.  It occurs in Firefox, but not in Chrome. If you change the default font in Firefox, Blogger inserts a Font Size = Small command into the code.  It doesn't do that if you change the font in Chrome. 

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Who They Are, Part VIII - Two Thud Drivers and a Sandy, Vietnam

We've met these men before, 1Lt Richter (briefly) here, Major Rasimus here, and Colonel Fisher here. Before I begin, let me just say that Major Rasimus, Ras as he was known to his friends, was special. Juvat flew with him, my buddy Murph knew him and went to his funeral, I have visited his grave and paid my respects. (Threw a nickel on the grass I did.)

Ras flew over 250 combat missions in Vietnam, the bulk of them in the F-105D "Thud" but he did another tour in the F-4E Phantom as well. Ras was a published author as well, he wrote of his experiences in Vietnam and he also helped write the memoirs of Brigadier General Robin Olds, Fighter Pilot. (If you have any interest at all in flying fighters and leadership, real leadership, read that book.) Ras was a blogger as well, I found Thunder Tales after his passing. Damn, but that day was dusty.

Around here, Ras is considered family. He's in this video, he's one of the three lieutenants taxiing in after their 100th mission "Up North." (He's the one who launches the champagne cork from the cockpit, calling out "FOD."

Like I said, family.

Now it surprised me that I had mentioned 1Lt Karl Richter in that post linked to earlier, and that's all it was, a mention. While I did put him up there on the masthead, I apparently never got around to posting anything further. Let's rectify that, shall we?

Memorial to 1Lt Richter at Maxwell AFB, AL
Lieutenant Richter quickly became an exceptional fighter pilot, and took on every opportunity to fly. With only two years' Air Force experience and even less in combat, he became an element leader. Once, while on leave, he turned down the possibility of a trip to Bangkok or Hong Kong and went instead to Nakhon Phanom where he flew combat missions in an O-1E Bird Dog.

On September 21, 1966, Richter was flying as Ford 03, an element leader, north of Haiphong on a mission to seek out SAM sites. Preparing to strike a discovered site, he saw two MiG-17s making a pass. After assessing the situation, began closing in on the enemy aircraft. He engaged the MiG with his 20mm cannon and impacted the enemy aircraft.

Just as Richter's gun went empty, the MiG's wing broke off and he saw the MiG pilot eject. In a later comment, Richter noted "...It's strange, but, in a way, I was happy he got a good chute. I guess that's the thought that runs through all our minds. He's a jock like I am, flying for the enemy of course, but he's flying a plane, doing a job he has to do."

At the age of 23, Karl Richter had become the youngest American pilot to shoot down a MiG over Vietnam. Richter went to Saigon to receive the personal congratulations of Lt. Gen. William W. Momyer, Seventh Air Force commander, and again at the personal invitation of Premier Nguyễn Cao Kỳ when he was awarded the Vietnamese Distinguished Service Medal.

As he approached the 100-mission mark, Lieutenant Richter asked permission to fly a second 100 missions, believing his combat experience should be used to advance the war effort. On April 20, 1967, while leading a defense-suppression flight of F-105s, his flight destroyed or pinned down a number of enemy AAA and SAM crews, enabling the strike force to eliminate an important railroad target, in spite of intense enemy fire and weather that hindered navigation. Having already received the Silver Star, was awarded the Air Force Cross for his skill and heroism that day.

At the time of his death, Lt. Karl Richter had flown more missions over North Vietnam than any other airman—198 in all officially credited.
Last Mission -
Flying with a new pilot, Richter spotted a bridge and instructed the trainee to stay above and watch as he rolled his F-105 toward the target. Suddenly, enemy anti-aircraft artillery opened up hitting the plane and forcing him to eject. His parachute disappeared into the fog bank and cloud cover. A nearby rescue helicopter picked up his beeper signal and homed in to get the downed pilot. Severely injured during his descent, most likely from swinging into the side of a sandstone cliff, Richter died en route to a hospital.

Richter is buried at United States Air Force Academy Cemetery in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Source)
An Air Force Cross, the Silver Star, four Distinguished Flying Crosses with "V,"  for valor, and the Bronze Star, also with "V." All by the age of 24.

I note that 1Lt Richter's great nephew followed in his footsteps and became a Naval Aviator, flying the F/A-18 out of NAS Oceana. Later that same great nephew went on to become a Physician's Assistant with the Air Force. A very accomplished young man, did his great uncle proud I think.

Three F-105s take off on a mission to bomb North Vietnam, 1966.
Colonel Fisher was awarded the Medal of Honor during his service in Vietnam -

Medal of Honor Citation 
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. On that date, the special forces camp at A Shau was under attack by 2,000 North Vietnamese Army regulars. Hostile troops had positioned themselves between the airstrip and the camp. Other hostile troops had surrounded the camp and were continuously raking it with automatic weapons fire from the surrounding hills. The tops of the 1,500-foot hills were obscured by an 800 foot ceiling, limiting aircraft maneuverability and forcing pilots to operate within range of hostile gun positions, which often were able to fire down on the attacking aircraft. During the battle, Maj. Fisher observed a fellow airman crash land on the battle-torn airstrip. In the belief that the downed pilot was seriously injured and in imminent danger of capture, Maj. Fisher announced his intention to land on the airstrip to effect a rescue. Although aware of the extreme danger and likely failure of such an attempt, he elected to continue. Directing his own air cover, he landed his aircraft and taxied almost the full length of the runway, which was littered with battle debris and parts of an exploded aircraft. While effecting a successful rescue of the downed pilot, heavy ground fire was observed, with 19 bullets striking his aircraft. In the face of the withering ground fire, he applied power and gained enough speed to lift-off at the overrun of the airstrip. Maj. Fisher's profound concern for his fellow airman, and at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.
That's the kind of thing that it seemed that the Sandy's did almost routinely -
Skyraiders were also used by Air Force Special Operations Command for search and rescue air cover. They were also used by the USAF to perform one of the Skyraider's most famous roles — the "Sandy" helicopter escort on combat rescues. On 10 March 1966, USAF Major Bernard F. Fisher flew an A-1E mission and was awarded the Medal of Honor for rescuing Major "Jump" Myers at A Shau Special Forces Camp. USAF Colonel William A. Jones III piloted an A-1H on 1 September 1968 mission for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor. In that mission, despite damage to his aircraft and suffering serious burns, he returned to his base and reported the position of a downed U.S. airman. (Source)
Three brave men, two Thud drivers and a Sandy. Bravo Air Force!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Who They Are, Part VII - World War One Aces

These two pilots were the first I ever heard about, may have been a story told to me by my elders, may have been a television program. I do know that in the first grade when we were all asked what we wanted to be when we grew up, my answer was, "Fighter pilot." Not sure if the other kids even knew what that was. I did. These two pilots represented, to me, the finest of warriors, knights of the sky.

SPAD S.XIII in the colors and markings of Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker, U.S. 94th Aero Squadron.
This aircraft is on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force near Dayton, Ohio.

A SPAD XIII painted to represent the aircraft flown by Arizona native Frank Luke, Jr.,
the first aviator awarded the Medal of Honor.

I have written of both men before, here and here.

As I grew up I learned that war in the air in World War I, though romanticized to a great extent, was still war. While it beat fighting in the trenches and pilots could return to their aerodromes for a decent meal, sleep between clean sheets, and perhaps have an adult beverage or two, it was still combat. Many pilots didn't return, some flew only one mission before dying.

It was brutally cold at altitude, remember these men flew in open cockpits, exposed to the elements, in machines that were not as robust as modern aircraft. There were no parachutes until very late in the war, though they had been invented before the war. Early 'chutes were just too bulky and not all that reliable to begin with. The cockpits were small, pilots had to bundle up (or risk freezing to death) and there just wasn't any room for a parachute.

The aircraft would often burn when hit, many aircrew would choose to jump, falling to their deaths rather than risk burning to death. I remember seeing a painting when I was a kid, it depicted two French airmen who had jumped from their burning aircraft. That image stays with me to this day. It took a brave man to just fly one of those early aircraft, let alone fight in one!

1Lt Luke didn't live to see the end of the war, one could say that he went out in a blaze of glory. While his exploits were heroic, I'm sure his family would have preferred that he returned home alive. Fate would have it otherwise.

As for Capt. Rickenbacker, he lived to a ripe old age, even after spending 24 days in a life raft stranded in the Pacific! (You can read about that here.) Pre-war race car driver, he knew his way around an engine as well.

It's good to have heroes, these are two of mine...


Friday, March 22, 2019

MMDLVI Diebus, vel VII Annis

For those of ye who dinnae ken Latin and for those who don't grok Scotticisms, it's been 2,556 days, or 7 years, since the Chant du Départ opened for business. Along the way Tuna joined up (little does he know that his contract states "for the duration"), then juvat (he insists that it starts with a little "j" and not a capital "J" for various and sundry reasons) signed on (his contract states "for the duration plus five years"), then Your Humble Scribe's very own daughter LUSH volunteered to "maybe, someday, if I feel like it" write the occasional post (hasn't happened yet for those of you keeping score at home), and lastly (though certainement not leastly) some guy named Andrew joined up whom I quickly began referring to as "Beans" (said moniker having stuck with everyone except PLQ, for reasons known best only to PLQ) and his contract is so open ended that I think the word "infinity" may be in there. Somewhere.

Now Tuna's postings are rather sporadic. But it's okay, he's in for the long haul, he posts when he can, and it's always worth waiting for. As for juvat, he owns Monday. He's like my old VW Beetle, starts up every time, don't have to worry. But as of late his browser is messing with his fonts. Changing the size, all sorts of "interesting" stuff. (I think his browser knows he's retired now so has "time" to mess with that sort of thing. Uh, no, he doesn't. He probably works harder now than when he was actually drawing a paycheck!)

LUSH may, or may not, post some day. She claims she will, then Big Time will deploy, both daughters will have things they have to go to, then...

If it happens, it happens, I ain't holding my breath, but I do get the odd story from her now and again. So she does provide blog fodder from time to time.

Now Beans, (sigh, "Andrew" to you Paul) is on and off again. He's like the George R.R. Martin of blogging. He'll post this huge, magnificent rant, and then *poof* he's gone for a month or two. But the man can always be counted on to leave wicked awesome comments. Kind of a "hair club for men" sort of thing, he's not just a blogger, he's a commenter too.

So yeah, seven years and it's been awesome. The reason I started doing this ain't so awesome (death of Lex) but it's been a good outcome. I mean it's tough thinking of how it began but I've made a lot of new friends along the way, some of you I've even met in person. (Tuna, juvat, LUSH, obviously, and one of these days I will get to Florida. I mean Beans can't live in isolation forever. And yes, juvat, I plan on getting down to Texas, someday...)

I will be picking up the Who They Are series tomorrow (think WWI), but I couldn't let a blogoversary go by without saying something.

And if you hear that those F-117s that have been spotted belong to me, don't believe it. (Heh, like I could afford a stealth jet. No, really you guys, those aren't mine, er, ours. No, Tuna, you can't have a raise... Stop looking at me like that juvat and Beans, I don't actually pay Tuna. Well, he does get free meals when he visits Little Rhody. Not that he does that a lot, and he doesn't eat all that much...)

See you mañana.

P.S. And all the language lessons are free!

P.P.S. I left out the squirrel this year, the Cap'n wanted him back...

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Say What?

Fair Use
Sometimes we go for days here at The Chant without any comments in the moderation file. Now, the moderation file is where comments on posts older than seven days go to languish until one of two things happens: 1) I say "Oh look, a Chanter commented on a post from a cuppla weeks ago, I'll allow it. or 2) I look at a comment and say "WTF, over... Huh? Bye bye." (Which means it gets deleted.)

Now one way a comment can wind up in moderation is by having a link in it. Blogger is rather inconsistent with that. Regular readers often post an actual link (not just the text version of the URL) and it gets through. Sometimes completely unknown types, typically from countries named India, get through, links and all. Why those guys think that a blog based in New England, with a largely American audience, might need the services of a moving company in Bangalore, India, is beyond me.

A spammer with a Japanese name was fished out of the moderation file the other day, had a link and everything, he/she/it was attempting to sell us something. No, I don't click on those type links, Lord knows where I'd end up. Those (with an actual name attached, not Anonymous, or Unknown) get marked as spam. Which moves them to the spam file. Where I have to go and delete them. Why Blogger makes me do the "Spam Two-Step" I have no idea.

Anyhoo, from time to time I get spam comments that just blow my mind. (Yes, I get the same look as Kevin Hart has in that opening photo. By the way, I find Kevin to be an extremely funny guy.) So as I was pressed for time (a dinner engagement gestern Nacht) I decided to share some of the more recent weird comments I have received (rather than write an actual "have to work at it" post) -

Note that the bit in purple is the name of the post, and the list below is who wrote them. No, Tuna does not get more spam than juvat, Beans, or myself.
  • Labor Day... Meh - I wrote it.
  • Mai-Tais, Mars, and Mahalo - Tuna wrote it.
  • New Kids in the Class! - Tuna wrote it.

I give you, the spambots:

I love it when individuals come together and share ideas. Great site, continue the good work! on Mai-Tais, Mars, and Mahalo

I like the valuable information you provide in your articles. I'll bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently. I am quite sure I will learn plenty of new stuff right here! Good luck for the next! on Labor Day... Meh

Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is great blog. A fantastic read. I will certainly be back. on Labor Day... Meh

Write more, that's all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You obviously know what you're talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your site when you could be giving us something informative to read? on New Kids in the Class!

I am not positive the place you're getting your information, however good topic. I needs to spend a while studying much more or understanding more. Thank you for wonderful information I was in search of this info for my mission. on New Kids in the Class!

I won't even try to interpret the point behind those fractured comments. No links, so what could they possibly be trying to sell? Most of the posts that get these weird-ass comments are months, if not years, old. What precisely do these spambots hope to accomplish, unless it's simply to entertain me?

I'd like to say "You can't make this stuff up." But apparently you can. Somewhere out there is a flawed, but nearly comprehensible, English comment generator, which all the spambots use. Almost reminds me of all the fractured English manuals I have seen on all of the many toys I've bought (and had to assemble) for the progeny over the years. All of those manuals were written by some guy in China who when asked, "Does anyone here speak and read English?" (Question asked in some dialect of Chinese, of course.) There was that one guy -

"Why yes, I am speaking of the English. I am fascinated by the topic and will be back for more."

"Okay Chen, you write the manuals. The rest of you - 回到你的頭上,喝咖啡休息時間結束了"

Heh, two can that game play.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Who They Are, Part VI - Korean War Aces

I've been meaning to get back to this series, Beans reminded me. This is the sixth post in the series, eventually I will create a separate page where I'll put all the links to the entire series.

From an old post I had this to say -
Now the Wall of Honor could be expanded to cover thousands of deserving men and women. For the most part I've used it for my own particular military heroes, most of whom are aircrew, most of whom are officers. A few I knew personally (and whose loss I still and shall forever mourn) and three of whom are Air Force enlisted guys.
One of you readers coined the term "Wall of Honor," I had forgotten how much I like the term. I will probably call the new page (when I get to it) by that name. I'll probably expand it to include other folks who merit a place there. (They just won't be "up top" with the men, and one lady, who already fill that space. Deservedly so.)

Now I first wrote of Colonel Jabara in a Friday Flyby in October 2013. This is what I had to say back then...

Colonel James "Jabby" Jabara
Distinguished Service Cross
15 Aerial Victories
1923 - 1966
From Wikipedia:
James "Jabby" Jabara (10 October 1923 – 17 November 1966) was the first American jet ace in history. Born in Oklahoma, he lived in Kansas where he enlisted as an aviation cadet at Fort Riley after graduating high school. Jabara attended four flying schools in Texas before he received his pilot's wings and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. During World War II Jabara flew two tours of combat duty in Europe as a North American P-51 Mustang pilot. He scored 1.5 air victories against German aircraft.

After World War II, Jabara flew his first jet aircraft in 1948, the Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star before transitioning to the North American F-86 Sabre. Jabara used this aircraft to shoot down multiple Soviet-built MiG-15 jets during the Korean War. He achieved his first confirmed air victory of the war on 3 April 1951. A month later he scored his fifth and sixth victories, making him the first American jet ace in history. He eventually scored 15 victories, giving him the title of "triple ace". Jabara was ranked as the second-highest-scoring U.S. ace of the Korean War. He received the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, and the British Distinguished Flying Cross for his accomplishments in combat.

Following the war, Jabara held a series of commands at various Air Force bases across the United States. He flew the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter and later the Convair B-58 Hustler. In 1966, Colonel Jabara was traveling with his family to their new home when his daughter crashed the car he was in, killing them both. They were buried together at Arlington National Cemetery. In recognition of his contributions to military aviation, an airport outside of Wichita, Kansas was named in his honor and each year the United States Air Force Academy alumni association bestows the Jabara Award upon an Academy graduate whose aerospace accomplishments demonstrate superior performance.
The Colonel's Jet

The Colonel and His Daughter's Final Resting Place

I had the privilege of visiting the Colonel's grave at Arlington. I had not known the circumstances of his death until I saw his grave site. When I saw that his 16-year old daughter was buried with him, I had to know the whole story. Here's what I found...

From Wikipedia:
While traveling to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where his family would stay while he returned to combat in Vietnam, Jabara and his 16-year old daughter Carol Anne died in a car accident in Delray Beach, Florida on 17 November 1966. The Jabara family were in two cars that day, on their way to a new home in South Carolina where his wife Nina and their children—James Jr., Carol Anne, Jeanne, and Cathy—would reside during Jabara's combat tour. Carol Anne was driving a Volkswagen with her father as a passenger in the back seat. She lost control of the car going through a construction zone, when she initially veered onto a grass median. She swerved back onto the highway but during the rapid turn, she lost control and the vehicle returned to the median where it rolled several times. Jabara sustained head injuries and was pronounced dead on arrival at a Delray hospital, and Carol Anne died two days later. A memorial service was held for Jabara at Homestead Air Force Base with a missing man formation fly-by. Jabara and his daughter were buried together in a single grave at Arlington National Cemetery. His grandson Lt. Nicholas Jabara, a 2001 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, was killed during pilot training in a T-37 accident on 31 January 2002.

Some families give so much for our freedom.

I read of Captain McConnell's victories in the Korean War when I was young, I read a lot of history books back then (still do actually). One of the reasons Captain McConnell caught my eye is that he was a fellow New Englander, a New Hampshireman by birth.

Here's my entry on him from the same Flyby I link to above...

Captain Joseph C. McConnell, USAF
Distinguished Service Cross
16 Aerial Victories
1922 - 1954
From Wikipedia:
Joseph Christopher McConnell, Jr. (30 January 1922 – 25 August 1954) was the top American flying ace during the Korean War. A native of Dover, New Hampshire, Captain McConnell was credited with shooting down 16 MiG-15s while flying North American F-86 Sabres with the U.S. Air Force. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Silver Star for his actions in aerial combat. McConnell was the first American triple jet-on-jet fighter ace and is still the top-scoring American jet ace.
During World War II, McConnell entered the U.S. Army Air Forces Aviation Cadet training program. His dream of becoming a pilot was dashed when, instead of being sent to pilot training, he was assigned to navigator training. After completing this course, he flew combat missions in Europe as a Consolidated B-24 Liberator navigator. He remained in the Army Air Forces after the war, eventually entering flight training. In 1948, McConnell finally achieved his goal of becoming a fighter pilot.
After returning to his home in Apple Valley, California, McConnell was stationed at George Air Force Base and continued flying F-86s. On 6 August the people of Apple Valley gave a new home, the "Appreciation House", to Capt. McConnell. The house was completed in 45 hours with all land, material, and labor donated.
In 1954 he was temporarily assigned to the service test program for the new F-86H. This was the last and most powerful version of the Sabre, and was intended to be a nuclear-capable fighter-bomber. On 25 August 1954, while testing the fifth production F-86H-1-NA (serial number 52-1981) at Edwards Air Force Base, McConnell was killed in a crash following a control malfunction. The cause of the accident was attributed to a missing bolt. Then-Major Chuck Yeager was assigned to investigate the crash and replicated the malfunction at a much higher altitude. This height advantage allowed him to safely regain control of the aircraft before it hit the desert floor. The 1955 film The McConnell Story, starring Alan Ladd and June Allyson, chronicles his life story. The book Sabre Jet Ace (1959) by Charles Ira Coombs chronicled his experiences as a fighter pilot in Korea in a fictionalized biography for young readers.
In May 2008 Pearl McConnell, Beautious Butch, died at the age of 86. She had never remarried and was buried with Captain McConnell.

The top two American Aces of the Korean War. Some call it the Forgotten War, not me, every morning when I look upon my beautiful wife and think of my precious children and grandchildren, I remember the price paid by so many for her family's freedom. For my wife's family the Korean War was very real, many of them lived through it.

I will never forget.

The First Five Parts of This Series:
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Why Some Are There, And Some Are Not

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Myth Busting (or Obalanie Mitów, for Our Polish Chanters)

Sounds like a job for us!
Uh, no. Sorry guys, I loved your show, I mean SCIENCE! What's not to love? But I'm going to bust a couple of historical myths today. More up my alley than yours I think, but I have no doubt that if there were things that were alleged to go fast, or things that are supposed to go BOOM, you'd be just the guys to call on.

But not today.

Today I want to talk about Poland in World War II and, as a special treat, introduce you to an historical (kind of) YouTube channel I stumbled across over the weekend (thanks to a tip from one of the readership) which also features a band which is, I understand, very popular in Poland. In fact, our own Polish Correspondent Paweł has mentioned them on more than one occasion.

(No, it's not the Foo Fighters, PLQ, you can keep reading...)

Polish Cavalry on Maneuvers in the 1930s
As a kid I learned that in World War II, Germany invaded Poland and in the space of a month forced Poland to surrender. During that short campaign I was taught that the Polish horse cavalry actually charged German tank units and were shot to pieces. The first statement has some truth to it, but it's certainly not the truth. The second statement is absolute horse dung. (Seeing as how we're talking about cavalry here.)

In reality the Poles fought hard, damned hard, killing 16,343 Germans, destroying 236 panzers, and shooting down 246 Luftwaffe aircraft. The Germans were rather shaken at the ferocity of Polish resistance and that some of their own tactics weren't as good as they thought.

Hitler had wanted to invade the West soon after the Polish campaign, his generals convinced them that they needed to rethink some of their tactics. If they suffered the same level of casualties against the French, with their very large army compared to Poland's, they might face a repeat of the First World War. Or worse.

Hitler agreed to a postponement, eventually, because of the weather the Germans didn't invade the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France until the spring of 1940. The Poles bought the West eight months. Eight months in which the western Allies essentially sat on their hands, they too expected a repeat of WWI in which staying on the defensive proved to be the winning plan. They were wrong.

Now as to Polish cavalry, men on horseback, attacking German tanks? Didn't happen. At least not in the way the propagandists and journalists (but I repeat myself) claim it happened. You can read full accounts here and here, but I'll synopsize what happened for you. (A brief off-the-top-of-my-head history lesson. A general account of Polish cavalry and propaganda can be read here. )

It's the evening of the 1st of September 1939. A German infantry battalion is resting after a hard day's slog into Poland, the invasion seems to be going well. While the tankers get all the press, these men marched into battle much the same way as Frederick the Great's troops went to war. On foot.

In a field near the town of Krojanty, in Polish Pomerania (parts of Pomerania lie in Germany as well, it's called Pomorze in Polish, Pommern in German) Polish scouts have discovered the enemy infantry, resting, obviously tired from a long day. The Poles don't care, their ancient enemy has again violated the land of Poland, for that they must die.

Polish cavalry emerges before the tired Landsers can react, many are killed, the rest are scattered as Polish steel slashes down upon the old Teutonic enemy. The Germans flee in great disorder, those who can still move anyway.

But nearby German reconnaissance elements, mounted in armored cars, react to the Polish attack and counterattack the Polish horsemen. Men on horseback are no match for machine guns firing from behind armor. With no antitank support available, the Polish cavalry are forced to fall back, leaving a number of men and horses dead upon the field.

The attack bought time for nearby Polish units to fall back to more defensible positions. It takes time for a rattled and demoralized infantry battalion to regroup and for the officers to convince the men to advance one more.

The next day, after German tanks had also arrived on the scene, a number of journalists came upon the site of the recent battle. One newsman, from Italy, assumed that because there were German tanks on the field, and a number of dead Poles and their mounts, that the Poles must have insanely attacked German armor. On horseback.

The Germans present weren't going to argue with that report, it made people forget about the embarrassment of having a battalion from the mighty Wehrmacht defeated and dispersed by Polish cavalry.

In later years the western Allies added to that myth, the goal being to paint the Germans as these efficient bad asses with this really efficient army. It's all about appropriations after all, then as now. If you paint your enemy as larger than life, you'll get more money. Sad but effective, after all, your average western politician doesn't like spending money on the armed forces unless you hold a metaphorical gun to their collective heads. In late 1939, early 1940, the Wehrmacht was that metaphorical gun. (Truth be told, the British and the French were all set to pick up where they left off in 1918. The Germans weren't.)

Remember, the Poles weren't just fighting the Germans, the Soviets stepped in to steal their piece of Poland as well. A piece they hold to this day. (Even though the USSR is long gone.)

Strength of the forces attacking Poland:

Starting on 01 Sep 39

Germany: 60 divisions, 6 independent brigades, 9,000 artillery pieces, 2,750 tanks, and 2,315 aircraft.

Slovakia (a German puppet): 3 divisions

Joined on 17 September:

Soviet Union: 33+ divisions, 11+ independent brigades, 4,959 artillery pieces, 4,736 tanks, and 3,300 aircraft.

Total manpower: 1,500,000 Germans, 466,516 Soviets, and 51,306 Slovaks

Strength of the forces defending Poland:

Poland: 39 divisions (24 of which were mobilized on September 1st), 16 independent brigades, 4,300 artillery pieces, 210 tanks, 670 tankettes (essentially a very small tank), and 400 aircraft.

Total manpower: approximately 1,000,000 men.

The cost?

Germany: 16,343 killed, 3,500 missing, 30,300 wounded 236 tanks destroyed, and 246 aircraft lost.

Slovakia: 37 killed, 11 missing, and 114 wounded.

Soviet Union: 5,327 killed, missing, and wounded - 43 tanks destroyed

Total attacking casualties: 59,000

Poland: 66,000 dead, 133,700 wounded, 660,000–690,000 captured, 132 tanks and armored cars destroyed, and 327 aircraft lost.

Total Polish casualties: 859,700–889,700 men. (Source)

Some of the German POWs held by the Poles at the cessation of hostilities in 1939.
Not the usual picture we're used to seeing of the Wehrmacht during the Polish campaign, is it?

If you get the impression that I really like the Poles, you'd be correct. I have written of their cavalry before, and probably will again. To the brave men and women of Poland, may you always be free in truth as much as you have always been free in your hearts! Niech żyje Polska!

As for the band and the new historical website? The band is Sabaton (which also has this meaning - A sabaton or solleret is part of a knight's armor that covers the foot) these guys from Sweden perform a number of songs with an historical basis, now they have a YouTube channel which combines the two - Sabaton History. Here's the first episode, which covers a battle in Poland in September of 1939. Again proving to the Germans that the Poles were not pushovers on the battlefield!

Let me know what you think. I didn't think I'd care for these guys at first, but hey, history, it's what I live for!

Monday, March 18, 2019

Nebel des Krieges

Sorry for the cryptic, "Sarge-esque", title, but if I'd have just entitled it "Fog of War" you might have blown it off with a "Whoop-de-doo, juvat's going to wax poetic how confusing combat is.  What does he know, he's never been in it." and then gone off to read some fictional website, say CNN or something.

So, given that you haven't left yet I'll continue, I was struggling to find a subject and failing, then decided to review my old standby to see if there wasn't a story or two left to tell on it.

Still have a few left to cover here, but....

Well, turns out there are still a few.  Today we will be learning about Lt Col George A. Davis.  While I've heard about virtually all the names on this monument to Medal of Honor Recipients, located on the parade field at Lackland AFB (sorry, not into the whole Joint Base-XYZ thing), I've never heard about Col Davis at all until now.  I mean, his Home of Record, as well as his cenotaph, is in Lubbock, TX  where I'd gone to College and got commissioned.  One would have thought there would be some little tidbit of history available.

None that I recall.  STxAR, how about you?

In any case, this guy should be remembered.  Here's a few of his stats.  266 combat missions in WWII totaling 705 combat hours with 7 confirmed Japanese kills.  He followed that up with an additional 59 combat missions in the Korean War for a total of (let me take my shoes off to help me add...) 325 combat sorties.  During that war, he shot down a total of 14 aircraft making him the only Jet double ace, the first ace in two wars and the leading ace in the Korean War.  He also became a double ace in only 17 days. That short period was certainly helped when  4 of those kills were in a single sortie.

Now, admittedly the F-86 he was flying in that engagement significantly out-performed his adversaries.

F-86 Source

TU-2 Bomber (3 Kills)Source

Although the last one in that engagement was a bit more formidable.


On that sortie, after shooting down the three TU-2's, then Maj Davis was exiting the fight when he noticed one of the other members of his squadron under attack by 24 MiG-15s.  Maj Davis dove to attack a two ship that was commencing their firing pass, destroying one of them and allowing the other F-86 and he to exit the fight successfully.  Maj Davis landed from this sortie with 5 gallons of fuel left.

One of Maj Davis' kills from gun camera.Source

That sortie seems, to me anyway, to have met the "...above and beyond the call of duty" criteria for the Medal of Honor.  Enormous victory, then re-engaging the enemy against extreme odds to protect a squadron mate, but...what do I know?  The Air Force awarded him the Distinguished Flying Cross for that sortie.

At this point in his tour, Maj Davis was averaging one kill per 3 sorties. The Air Force, being a brand new service. not  having reached its fifth birthday, has been advertising him extensively.  Accordingly, the Chinese, and surreptitiously the Russians, want to take him out.  For that reason, the US policy was to rotate Aces out of the combat area as soon as possible after achieving that goal not only to preserve their combat skills and knowledge and pass it on to others through training, but to deny the communists a propaganda victory.

So, in January of '52, Major Davis is informed that the Air Force wants to rotate him home.  Unfortunately, they can find no one suitable to assume his command.

At this point, you know how this is going to end...don't you?

On February 10th, Major Davis is leading a 4-ship in an Offensive Counter Air mission in support of F-84s on an Interdiction mission (in English, He's flying cover to keep the bad guys from attacking the good guys who are going to drop bombs on the bad guys.  Yes, Beans, I tend to see the world in black and white.)

His element lead develops an Oxygen problem so has to RTB (they're flying at 38K', oxygen is required).  Maj Davis and his wingman continue the mission.  Shortly thereafter, they see a 12 ship of MiG-15s below them, but above the F-84s.  Maj Davis dives to attack, closes on one MiG and shoots him down, continuing the attack, he manages to get a shot at another MiG also shooting him down.  Continuing the attack, he tries to pull behind a third MiG, but MiGs from the trailing elements get behind his, now slow,  F-86 and shoot him down, killing him.

There was  some controversy over who actually shot him down,  A Chinese pilot, Zhang Jihui is officially credited with the kill, although the Russians say it was one of their pilots who shot him down.  But, but, but...There was no Russian involvement in the Korean War,  Right?

In any case, Zhang is shot down also, in fact, his parachute lands within a few hundred meters of Maj Davis' wreckage, and Maj Davis' wingman did not claim a kill.  This post postulates that the 2 F-86's he insists he shot down were, in fact, MiG-15s from his trailing flight and that one of them had shot down Maj Davis and that Maj Davis had shot down Zhang. It's confusing, but then Air to Air Combat, even in practice, is extremely confusing.

While Sarge and I were assigned at Kunsan, the ROKAF squadron there flew F-86s.  We would frequently engage in mock duels against anybody that was airborne in the Republic.  The first time I was bounced by one of the ROKAF F-86s,  and had my first glance at the attacker, I thought was it actually was a MiG.  They are very similar looking, especially from Air to Air kill ranges.  It would be easy to make that mistake. I'd say the hypothesis above is at least plausible.

So....Nebel des Krieges...Neh?

However regarding Maj Davis, it makes no difference who got the credit.  An excellent Fighter Pilot and Leader was lost.  My Wikipedia source goes in to the politics of the incident.  Read it if you're interested.  Those politics might be the reason for my total lack of awareness of this man.  IMHO, the Air Force should have tried harder to follow their rotation policies which might have preserved his life, but a Warrior's got to do what a Warrior's got to do.

Rest in Peace, Warrior!


Lt Col Davis' Citation:

Maj. Davis distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.

While leading a flight of 4 F-86 Saberjets on a combat aerial patrol mission near the Manchurian border, Maj. Davis' element leader ran out of oxygen and was forced to retire from the flight with his wingman accompanying him. Maj. Davis and the remaining F-86's continued the mission and sighted a formation of approximately 12 enemy MIG-15 aircraft speeding southward toward an area where friendly fighter-bombers were conducting low level operations against the Communist lines of communications.
With selfless disregard for the numerical superiority of the enemy, Maj. Davis positioned his 2 aircraft, then dove at the MIG formation. While speeding through the formation from the rear he singled out a MIG-15 and destroyed it with a concentrated burst of fire. Although he was now under continuous fire from the enemy fighters to his rear, Maj. Davis sustained his attack. He fired at another MIG-15 which, bursting into smoke and flames, went into a vertical dive.

Rather than maintain his superior speed and evade the enemy fire being concentrated on him, he elected to reduce his speed and sought out still a third MIG-15. During this latest attack his aircraft sustained a direct hit, went out of control, then crashed into a mountain 30 miles south of the Yalu River.

Maj. Davis' bold attack completely disrupted the enemy formation, permitting the friendly fighter-bombers to successfully complete their interdiction mission.

Maj. Davis, by his indomitable fighting spirit, heroic aggressiveness, and superb courage in engaging the enemy against formidable odds exemplified valor at its highest.

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Maj Davis was promoted posthumously.  Although the Chinese identified and recovered his body, it was never repatriated to the United States.