Monday, August 31, 2020

Would that "Someone" hit Fast Forward, please?*

I'm pretty sure if anyone who's ever been in the military, in any branch, in any country were tasked with coming up with a 4 word sentence to describe military life, those words would be "Hurry up and wait".

Prove me wrong.

Evidently, those words still apply in military retirement life.

Friday March 11, 2020
Construction has commenced.
 Sunday August 30, 3030 2020, Wow time flies when you're having fun!

Construction is complete.  Note the final touch, the Gate.  

So, juvat...Have you started moving in yet?

That mi, mayor que Matusalén, sargento de la Fuerza Aérea is the reason for the title of this post.

Evidently, if we were to begin moving in and something were to happen, the construction insurance would not cover anything.  And, since we don't own the house yet, our insurance won't cover it either.

So...Closing is September 14th.  The movers arrive at 0800 15 September.  Appliance delivery is also scheduled that day.  Hence, the title.  Twiddling my thumbs is getting old.  But, at least we've got packing to keep us busy.  Yay! Fortunately, Mrs J is handling most of the packing.  My role seems to be carrying crap to the dumpster, carrying old but working stuff to the donation station, moving full, sealed (Google translate returns "Heavy" when  those terms are entered) boxes from Mrs J's current location into the mover pickup point, AKA the living room. 

So...Hurry up and wait! It's only 2 weeks. (AKA an eternity!)  

None of the above is of much use for a blog post, so I've decided to fall back on an old reliable subject.

USAF (and antecedent organizations) Medal of Honor Memorial on the Lackland AFB Parade Field

A little background is probably needed here as we'll be talking about the Korean War and the four Korean War Medal of Honor recipients are somewhat unique.  The Air Force started out in 1907 as the Aeronautical Division of the US Army Signal Corps.  Its name and missions changed with time and aeronautical progress over the next 40 years until 18 September 1947 when it became a separate service (and promptly forgot everything it had learned about aerial warfare up to that time. "The Bombers will always get through". Yeah...Right.  I know, I know, Sarge, Back on Target).  Anyhow, the first 4 USAF recipients of the Medal of Honor actually were actually awarded the Army Medal of Honor.  All posthumously.  The USAF was not authorized its own Medal until 1965.  None of the above is particularly relevant to the story I'm about to relate, other than this story will be about one of those four, I just think that it's one of those "interesting" pieces of history.  

 

Source

So, today, we're going to learn about Captain John Springer Walmsley Jr.  Capt Walmsley was born in 1920, joined the Army Air Corps in 1944 but spent WWII in training and then as an Instructor Pilot, not seeing combat.  However, in June 1951 with the Korean War underway, Capt Walmsley was assigned to Kunsan AB, Korea (a place near and dear to a couple of this blog's authors, you figure out which) flying the B-26.  The B-26 was a WWII era medium bomber which flew with the USAF until the last was retired in 1972.  In Korea, it was primarily flown at night.



Source


 

In August of 1951, the peace talks had started to stall, so the UN Forces came up with a plan called "Operation Strangle" to interdict North Korean and Chinese (primarily the latter) supply lines.  Initially the operation was fairly successful as the communists were bringing supplies by train during the day.  Interdicting (aka hitting a target with ordnance) is infinitely easier when you can see the target.  However,  one of the immutable laws of war is "The enemy gets a vote".  The communists started running their trains at night.

The UN forces adapted by putting a searchlight on a wing pylon of the B-26. A big, honking searchlight, an 80 million candlepower searchlight. This allowed the pilot to see the target and make his attack run.  

 

Source

But, remember the immutable law?  The communists put AAA (hiss!) on the train and along the tracks, and in the nearby hills.

Now, one of the things about delivering ordnance from most aircraft is you have to point the aircraft at the target. (Gunships, like the AC-47 and AC-130 are different and hadn't been developed yet).  Pointing at the target means there is no apparent target motion for a gunner to compensate for, he doesn't have to lead the target just aim at the dot coming at you and shoot.  

Yes, Beans, that's why I always hiss when I mention AAA (hiss).

So, on September 14, 1951, Capt Walmsley is flying one night searching for a target and developing tactics to effectively use the searchlight.  He spots a train and attacks it, disabling, but not destroying it.  Having expended all his ordnance, he calls for another bomber to join him and, upon its arrival, offers to illuminate the target for him with the big honking searchlight.

Remember the AAA (hiss) gunner's shooting solution?  Here it is, and it even has a bright light showing him where to fire.  Capt Walmsley's attack works and the train is destroyed, however, his aircraft is badly damage by AAA (hiss) and on fire.  As he struggles to return home, it crashes into a mountainside.  

Three of the crew, including Capt Walmsley, are killed and the gunner, MSgt Morar, was badly burned but survived only to become a POW.  He survives the war and is repatriated thereafter. 


Source

Capt Walmsley's Medal of Honor Citation:

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

While flying a B-26 aircraft on a night combat mission with the objective of developing new tactics, Capt. Walmsley sighted an enemy supply train which had been assigned top priority as a target of opportunity. He immediately attacked, producing a strike which disabled the train, and, when his ammunition was expended, radioed for friendly aircraft in the area to complete destruction of the target.

Employing the searchlight mounted on his aircraft, he guided another B-26 aircraft to the target area, meanwhile constantly exposing himself to enemy fire. Directing an incoming B-26 pilot, he twice boldly aligned himself with the target, his searchlight illuminating the area, in a determined effort to give the attacking aircraft full visibility.

As the friendly aircraft prepared for the attack, Capt. Walmsley descended into the valley in a low-level run over the target with searchlight blazing, selflessly exposing himself to vicious enemy antiaircraft fire. In his determination to inflict maximum damage on the enemy, he refused to employ evasive tactics and valiantly pressed forward straight through an intense barrage, thus insuring complete destruction of the enemy's vitally needed war cargo.

While he courageously pressed his attack Capt. Walmsley's plane was hit and crashed into the surrounding mountains, exploding upon impact.

His heroic initiative and daring aggressiveness in completing this important mission in the face of overwhelming opposition and at the risk of his life, reflects the highest credit upon himself and the U.S. Air Force.

Rest in Peace, Warrior!


*A subtle, perhaps too subtle, reference to Sarge's post title from yesterday.

47 comments:

  1. Of course, this was the Douglas B-26 (originally [and finally] designated A-26), not the Martin B-26 (which had been withdrawn from service before the USAAF became the USAF).

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    1. Yeah, I saw that, but that was what the citation and other references called it, so I went with it. Thanks.

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  2. Ah, "The Closing."

    Back in '99, after we'd moved to Little Rhody, we were in the market for a dwelling. My company had put us up in a very nice apartment while we hunted. We looked at 30-some odd houses, none of which The Missus Herself was particularly impressed with. The home we have now was, and I kid you not, the very first one we looked at. Why we had to spend two months and innumerable trips to look at houses has puzzled me ever since.

    Anyhoo, when we settled on a house the realtor began spewing realtor talk at us, neither of us were, are, or ever have been realtors, so I just asked to her to kindly speak English instead. So she did (amazing how all of the jargon can actually be explained in plain English). When she started to describe "closing costs" I stopped her and asked "who pays those?" Her response, "Well, you do." So I said, "Deal's off, find us an apartment." Then I rang off.

    She called back perhaps 30 minutes later and informed us that the seller agreed to pay the closing costs, which I thought ducky, I wanted to buy a house, not pay a lawyer to do paperwork. Seems the seller was desperate to sell, house had been on the market a while.

    As to the aircraft, I still refer to that as the A-26, old habit.

    Didn't know the story of Capt. Walmsley and his crew (funny how they never get mentioned).

    Attaching a giant searchlight onto an attack aircraft doesn't seem like the (ahem) brightest thing to do. But difficult times call for often less than optimal solutions, and brave warriors pay the price.

    May they rest in peace.

    (I'll talk to the OIC Pause/Fast Forward Button about your situation, but the only way to make a bureaucrat hurry is to shoot a few of his/her office mates to "drop the hint.")

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    1. Searchlights worked against U-boats :) (when coupled with some other useful tech)

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    2. Not a lot of AAA on a U-Boat

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    3. OAFS,
      Thanks, Re: your home. Maybe the Big Guy said he wanted you in THAT house, you just didn't pick up on it for a while.

      As to Capt Walmsley's crew. That was my bad. My primary source mentioned them by name and I was having a helluva time with Blogger's new interface yesterday, especially inserting links. I must have gotten fed up finally and quit without citing that source. I've updated the post and linked to the source. It's in the paragraph directly below Capt Walmsley's photo in flight gear.

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    4. (Don McCollor)...I believe the German Navy did beef up some U-Boat AA significantly in an attempt to run the Bay of Biscay on the surface in daylight as a group for mutual protection. Worked at first - a couple allied patrol planes were shot down, and the rest started to circle at a respectful distance (with more arriving and probably calling for surface forces). The flaw in the plan became evident. They couldn't submerge. Each sub that did would reduce the AA fire, and SOMEBODY was going to have to be the last and unprotected as it dove.

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    5. Don,
      Interesting, another example of "The enemy gets a vote (on your plan)". which is the full saying.

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    6. (Don McCollor)...the Brits developed the WW2 ASW "Leigh Light" searchlight. Patrol planes at night could home on a surfaced U-Boat until about 1 km out before losing contact. Then the sub was pinned in the glare from a searchlight of an attacking aircraft for only seconds. Not all that much time to use the AA before trying to submerge...

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    7. Interesting. May have to look into that a bit more.

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    8. (on McCollor)...My thanks juvat!...The Battle of the Atlantic was a vast battle that the fate of Europe depended on. The first weapon was "Huff-Duff" (high frequency direction finders) that ringed the Atlantic, able to locate U-Boat transmissions (excessive U-Boat communications were required) to about 50 miles. Not much could be done at first, except warn and route convoys around them. Huff-Duff and radar then went on escort ships and aircraft, so any transmission was dangerous (active radar would have been a form of suicide). The coming of hunter-killer groups and long range patrol aircraft meant the suspected area could be searched relentlessly (a U-Boat was a basically surface ship that could submerge for awhile) forced down each time they surfaced till out of battery and air. Choke points of the Bay of Biscay and the sill at the entrance to the Med at Gibraltar were heavily patrolled (the latter with MAD [magnetic anomaly detector]). U-boats would float engines off laying doggo on the heavier sea water flowing in. Another Brit development was "Hedgehog" light depth charges fired ahead of an escort vessel (before sonar lost over contact over it) which would explode only on contact with the sub. Finally, when ULTRA broke German Navel codes...there was one U-Boat to meet with a "mulch cow" refueling sub. No refuel sub, but a Very Long Range B-24 circling the meeting point...

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    9. Having spent most of my military career pointed at the Pacific, I've read a lot of books about sub warfare there. Haven't read as much about the Atlantic. I do have a passing familiarity with some of the terms you mentioned (e.g. Huff-Duff and Hedgehog). So, I may do a little more reading there.

      Breaking codes does give one a significant advantage doesn't it? At least until the side with the broken code realizes it.

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    10. (Don McCollor)...Yes it does indeed. When the house thing is over, I would suggest "Black May" (Michael Cannon, 1998) when 41 U-boats were sunk and 37 damaged in May 1943, Dan Galley's (humorous)"U-505" of a carrier hunter-killer task force boarding and capturing a German U-Boat, "The Tenth Fleet" (Ladsias Farago, 1964) that coordinated (in close cooperation with the Brits) convoy routing and ASM warfare. A shore-based Fleet with no ships under its command, but with authority to issue orders to any USN vessel in the North Atlantic. Commanded by Ernie King, who reported to Ernie King CNO (making for a very close command relationship). On the other side is "U-Boat War" Lothar-Gunther Buchheim,1978 {the one who wrote the book "Das Boot"), an account with 200+ pictures inside a U-boat as things got worse and worse...

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    11. Thanks. I think I'll look for them.

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  3. I figure they should've brought back Kenney's Commerce Destroyer planes with the 8 fifties or the 75 mm in the nose. Point the light, press the trigger, and no AAA or train.

    Yeah, sounds like they totally forgot what they learned 5-10 years before.

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    1. It wasn't until I read his actual citation that I figured out the answer to my gut feel that it was dumb to be trolling around at low level at night in mountains covered with AAA hunting trains. He was "developing new tactics". Here's hoping the AF dumped this tactic shortly thereafter. Hindsight being 20/20, parachute flares would have seemed to be a more viable means of illumination.

      Yep...then they forgot it again about 5-10 years later.

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    2. Well, if'n you look above the search light you do see 3 x .50 caliber barrels, thus indicating 3 guns on that wing. The Air Force believing in symmetry or something, there's probably 3 more guns on the other wing. Not quite the 12 or more on the Commerce Destroyers, but it's a decent amount of guns.

      And the Air Force is forever forgetting lessons from a few years ago. Witness the complete loss of Light Attack Aircraft which they've been working on 20 years or more to remedy and still haven't quite got off the pot over but are buying Super Tucanos anyways (instead of something like the OV-10X Super Bronco or that weirdo thing Rutan designed...)

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    3. Having worked there, I came to realize why it was called the "Puzzle Palace" or "Fort Fumble". The AF isn't alone in forgetting lessons. The whole swamp, known as DC, is renowned for that skill.

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    4. Re: Guns,

      According to this article the B/A-26 could have had up to 14 fixed 50 Cal machine guns + 4 more in remote controlled Dorsal and Ventral turrets. The picture I included kinda leads me to believe it was the solid "All Purpose" nose (meaning the 14 gun version), but isn't clear enough to be definitive.

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  4. I just spent over an hour looking up some of the names on that wall of honor. While reading, I felt the gamut of emotions as I imagined being in their place. I think I'm tough (the more I am hard, the more you will like me) but I don't know if I could have done some of those things. None should be forgotten. Thank you for posting that.

    As a past home builder, I sometimes got very hot under the collar if'n owner walked onto the property unaccompanied or especially without prior notice. You're paying for it but it's not yours yet! Most owners didn't know enough to not ffff, mess up things. There may be a test running (think air balancing) but no one else on the premises. Or maybe...well, a hundred different not so obvious things. To top it off, my insurance as well as your insurance underwriters could come seriously unglued. Besides, if something gets fff, um, messed up, who pays? Not you. Maybe. Remember, it's not yours yet. As far as the bank is concerned, its still a construction site. (I don't know if its this way in TX but occupancy is not granted until the bank says so. After producing all paperwork, including any liens.)
    (I say, 'you' but I don't mean you you.)

    FYI: my other big gripe was irritated homeowners complaining for why they are paying all this money but haven't seen any work yet. Um, because most site work and foundation work is below grade and you're expecting to see a house but we're busting our tails to build the foundation to sit your house on. Imagine varying levels of hysteria exhibited by one or both spouse thrown in for good measure. (Naw, we're drinking like no tomorrow and laughing as we grill steaks and burgers on your dime. Really, it only takes two weeks to build a house out of scrub land.)

    Congratulations on your new homestead. The wait makes it that more fond.

    None of that, some of that, all of that may or may not apply to you. You're likely sharper than the average Joe.

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    1. Rick,
      I've posted on about half the names on that monument and I get choked up on each one. I always wonder what/how I would do if presented with a similar situation. I've had the good fortune to meet a couple of recipients in real life. Both of them were very real normal people. The fact that they did something extraordinary when needed gave me some hope that I might do the same. Thankfully, I'll never know. My prayer sitting alert in Korea was always "Lord, I don't feel the need to win a medal today, but if you do, don't let me screw it up."

      Re: the home. We were lucky, we had a great project supervisor. Since we live on the same property as the new house, I think he realized we were going to visit it often, and we did. He, however, went out of his way to tell us what was going on, what was coming next and when we needed to stay out of the way. Which we did. According to our construction company's sales rep, we could move in if the project supervisor approved. We asked, he explained the situation I reported in the post, we decided not to start the process based on that info. No big deal, just normal "Hurry up....and wait."

      I don't know about the wait increasing the fond, but it sure is reducing the stuff that's going to move into it. Still have to move it to the dumpster though. ;-)

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    2. A few years ago they were replacing a bridge near my house. It had one of the major streets blocked for several months. One guy was bitching about how nobody had worked on it for about a month after they poured the concrete for the abutments. I said "How long do you think that it takes for that concrete to fully cure?" He looked at me surprised and said "I never thought of that."

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    3. Yeah, nothing much happened on the house for a couple weeks after they poured the slab. I can imagine it would take a lot more time for a bridge.

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  5. My late father's word on moving was the best way involved a 5 gal can of gasoline and a match.

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    1. There have been moments when I've seriously considered that option.

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  6. Is that the Martin Marietta B26 "Flying Prostitute" (no visible means of support), or Douglas A26 "Invader"? Cripes they weren't subtle with naming back then eh?

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    1. It was the latter. The Martin B-26 was formally the "Marauder", although I've also heard your version. Yes, Political Correctness wasn't a big requirement in those day.

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    2. They used to be able to paint nekkid or mostly nekkid girly pictures on their planes, too. Can't see that happening in today's world.

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    3. If it were, they'd have to add nekkid or mostly nekkid guys to the mix! For a couple of reasons ;-)

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  7. Well, of course you have to experience a hurry-up-and-wait spell. Things have been going too well so far.

    But... why wait until moving day for the appliances? You'd think that said appliances would need to be installed and checked for oopses before you are actually there. I mean, in the middle of the move is not the time for to discover some schmuck didn't install the washer drain correctly, or that the dryer is really only getting 110 volts, or there is a crimp in the icemaker water line in the new fridge-freezer. Or that the ammo-loading machine is not quite up to snuff...

    As to AAA, the Commies really loved and love their AAA. Bastiges. It's why you need multiple planes, one to attack the train, the others to drop napalm all over the lovely gunners and their ammo supplies. Extra benefit of lighting up the area for better follow-up bombing.

    Air Force MOH not authorized until 1965. Weird. Wonder why? Wonder if it will take 20 years to authorize the Space Force MOH? Or if the brains doing the thinking behind the whole setup are going to get the awards structure set up after they finally finish deciding on rank structure? (Surprisingly, William Shatner comes out with a rather succint argument for naval officer ranks: https://www.militarytimes.com/opinion/commentary/2020/08/26/what-the-heck-is-wrong-with-you-space-force/ )

    The gate looks nice. As does the fence. But the house is just sitting there, lonely, waiting till next month. Realtors and bankers are weird. They are very happy to get the escrow money but very unhappy to actually pass said money on to close the deal. Weird. Weird I say. Almost like they're making money on that money just sitting there doing nothing.

    Oh, well. Don't hurt yourself too much Steppen Fetchit-ing.

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    1. We asked specifically about the appliances, that's when Dan (our project supervisor) talked about the insurance problem. I guess if one of those issues crops up and starts a fire, we'll get front row seating on a USAA vs Tilson death match. To be honest, I don't see the move in process being a one day event like all my previous moves. The movers are going to take the must have stuff, the furniture and other heavy stuff and the stuff we know we want, wall art, knick knacks etc. The rest we'll go through and move or throw out based on whether we missed it at the new house. Once that's done, the old house gets some reno work done on it, My Sister moves into it. Her cottage gets some reno work and becomes a second guest house. That's the plan, at least and as a side benefit, juvat's going to be busy for years!

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  8. We looked at well over 30 houses before we decided on this one ("we" as in the married "we"). We went inside 24 (I was counting), and drove past another 10 or 12. Surprisingly, this house was almost literally "The Last House We Looked At". I was looking outside SWMBO's upper price limit, as 90% of the houses I'd been tracking sold for less than the listing price.

    We got down to three finalists, and showed each of them to The Kids. Then there were two, and this one won.

    We flew through escrow in about 3 weeks, had our stuff brought over from storage, and hired some burly young guys to unload it and lug it inside.

    Know what you mean about the division of labor during the packing up phase. I spent the last three weeks either renting small trailers to lug stuff to eWaste, calling 1-800-GOT-JUNK, or giving away stuff to other like-minded folks.

    Really kicked myself good a few times over some of the stuff I threw away.....

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    1. Yeah, I'm sure that about 5 years from now, we'll kick ourselves for throwing out the once every 10 years fondue pot or something like that. But...I think I'd rather have room in the house. Fortunately, Mrs J is currently of like mind on the subject.

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    2. Bwahahahah, SWMBO -- Rumpole of the Bailey, hadn't heard that in a while.

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    3. Ed Rasimus (Pictured on the header) used that term on his blog quite frequently also. A good man and heroic in his own right.

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    4. Ed was a true Warrior, and I miss his writings. I have his books, but the blog was really good.

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    5. He was a good man, a great pilot and a fabulous IP. I was lucky to have served with him. I learned a lot.

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  9. Better safe than sorry Juvat. I'm surprised they haven't already installed the appliances, they are usually required for a CO. Great (and sad) story about Capt Walmsley and the crew. Usually, the crew or backseater is never even mentioned, especially talking about the Army and USAF awards.

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    1. Well, the appliances they provided have been installed. It's the Fridge, washer and dryer that we had to provide that are waiting in the Lowes warehouse.

      That is an interesting point. I'm going to do a little research on that and get back to you.

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  10. The Closing. Otherwise known as "I hope it is that date, but you never know". Good luck!

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    1. Yeah, that would raise my blood pressure a few points.

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  11. Glad you are almost in Juvat. Seems it took you almost as long as us to get your house finished. We were 4 March to 24 September. We took a little risk with our Super's approval and started moving things in on the weekend before. We did not move ourselves in until we had closed. Our move was completely self done and there are still some boxes around in storage locations (we have two sheds with storage) that have not been opened.

    The A/B/A-26 is a neat airplane. I just wish most of the B-26 Mauraders had not been turned to scrap. A bit of a handful of a plane with too much power or too small a rudder (two different ways to look at it) at low airspeeds.

    Every time you present a MOH recipient, it is a heart jerker. Those that lived through their action are remarkable as you noted.

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    1. Thanks, Bill. We're also mostly self moving. The movers are coming for the furniture and such. My daughter had worked in a local furniture store while in HS and got a great deal on a pair of mahogany bookshelves which no longer fit her lifestyle. They weigh a ton and there's flat out no way, Mrs J and I could move them. So it was a decision to either pay the movers or pay the doctors. I do enough of the latter that I have no desire to fatten their wallet unnecessarily.

      Thanks

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    2. We did have the help of MBD and SIL for our move along with trailers and pickup trucks. A little whiskey helped the following aches and pains.

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    3. Our MBD and SIL have cleverly scheduled a bit of vacation time at a resort during that week. (To be honest, they had made the reservations well before the closing date firmed up). So, It's just us kids!

      I think you misspelled little Bill. I believe the i should be an o and everything after the first t deleted.

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