The famed astronaut billed NASA $33.31 for the historic space journey,
1945 Naval Armada
This enormous naval facility was a well kept secret in the U.S. until very close to the conclusion of WW II in the Pacific. The Japanese were, uncomfortably, well aware of this base. Admiral Yamamoto, architect of the attack on Pearl Harbor, has been quoted as saying, before his own death, that it appeared, that Japan had awakened a sleeping giant. From these photos, it appears that the Admiral ’s observation was correct.
The great armada of ships and airplanes poised for the invasion of Japan…that never happened…because President Truman authorized the dropping of “A” bombs at Nagasaki and Hiroshima, resulting in the Japanese surrender. Just think of the American lives that would have been lost had this invasion occurred. Be thankful that we had a President with the courage to make the call. Sadly, today, most Americans know little or nothing about this and the sacrifices made by those who bore that burden. It is not in the US history taught in our schools anymore… So keep this for posterity. There will never be another assemblage of naval ships like this again.
Click to see photos.
They once were among the most universally admired and revered men in the United States .. There were 80 of the Raiders in April 1942, when they carried out one of the most courageous and heart-stirring military operations in this nation’s history. The mere mention of their unit’s name, in those years, would bring tears to the eyes of grateful Americans.
Now only four survive.
After Japan’s sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, with the United States reeling and wounded, something dramatic was needed to turn the war effort around.
Even though there were no friendly airfields close enough to Japan for the United States to launch a retaliation, a daring plan was devised. Sixteen B-25s were modified so that they could take off from the deck of an aircraft carrier. This had never before been tried — sending such bi g, heavy bombers from a carrier.
The 16 five-man crews, under the command of Lt. Col. James Doolittle, who himself flew the lead plane off the USS Hornet, knew that they would not be able to return to the carrier. They would have to hit Japan and then hope to make it to China for a safe landing.
But on the day of the raid, the Japanese military caught wind of the plan. The Raiders were told that they would have to take off from much farther out in the Pacific Ocean than they had counted on. They were told that because of this they would not have enough fuel to make it to safety.
And those men went anyway.
They bombed Tokyo and then flew as far as they could. Four planes crash-landed; 11 more crews bailed out, and three of the Raiders died. Eight more were captured; three were executed. Another died of starvation in a Japanese prison camp. One crew made it to Russia.
The Doolittle Raiders sent a message from the United States to its enemies, and to the rest of the world: We will fight. And, no matter what it takes, we will win.
Of the 80 Raiders, 62 survived the war. They were celebrated as national heroes, models of bravery. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer produced a motion picture based on the raid; “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo,” starring Spencer Tracy and Van Johnson, was a patriotic and emotional box-office hit, and the phrase became part of the national lexicon. In the movie-theater previews for the film, MGM proclaimed that it was presenting the story “with supreme pride.”
Beginning in 1946, the surviving Raiders have held a reunion each April, to commemorate the mission. The reunion is in a different city each year. In 1959, the city of Tucson, Arizona, as a gesture of respect and gratitude, presented the Doolittle Raiders with a set of 80 silver goblets. Each goblet was engraved with the name of a Raider.
Every year, a wooden display case bearing all 80 goblets is transported to the reunion city. Each time a Raider passes away, his goblet is turned upside down in the case at the next reunion, as his old friends bear solemn witness.
Also in the wooden case is a bottle of 1896 Hennessy Very Special cognac. The year is not happenstance: 1896 was when Jimmy Doolittle was born.
There has always been a plan: When there are only two surviving Raiders, they would open the bottle, at last drink from it, and toast their comrades who preceded them in death.
As 2013 began, there were five living Raiders; then, in February, Tom Griffin passed away at age 96.
What a man he was. After bailing out of his plane over a mountainous Chinese forest after the Tokyo raid, he became ill with malaria, and almost died. When he recovered, he was sent to Europe to fly more combat missions. He was shot down, captured, and spent 22 months in a German prisoner of war camp.
The selflessness of these men, the sheer guts … there was a passage in the Cincinnati Enquirer obituary for Mr. Griffin that, on the surface, had nothing to do with the war, but that was emblematic of the depth of his sense of duty and devotion:
“When his wife became ill and needed to go into a nursing home, he visited her every day. He walked from his house to the nursing home, fed his wife and at the end of the day brought home her clothes. At night, he washed and ironed her clothes. Then he walked them up to her room the next morning. He did that for three years until her death in 2005.”
So now, out of the original 80, only four Raiders remain: Dick Cole (Doolittle’s co-pilot on the Tokyo raid), Robert Hite, Edward Saylor and David Thatcher. All are in their 90s. They have decided that there are too few of them for the public reunions to continue.
The events in Fort Walton Beach marked the end. It has come full circle; Florida’s nearby Eglin Field was where the Raiders trained in secrecy for the Tokyo mission. The town planned to do all it can to honor the men: a six-day celebration of their valor, including luncheons, a dinner and a parade.
Do the men ever wonder if those of us for whom they helped save the country have tended to it in a way that is worthy of their sacrifice? They don’t talk about that, at least not around other people. But if you find yourself near Fort Walton Beach this week, and if you should encounter any of the Raiders, you might want to offer them a word of thanks. I can tell you from first hand observation that they appreciate hearing that they are remembered.
The men have decided that after this final public reunion they will wait until a later date — some time this year — to get together once more, informally and in absolute privacy. That is when they will open the bottle of brandy. The years are flowing by too swiftly now; they are not going to wait until there are only two of them.
They will fill the four remaining upturned goblets. And raise them in a toast to those who are gone.
Their 70th Anniversary Photo
I remember meeting Jessica for the first time in 2006 at the National Speakers Association convention in Orlando. It was our first ever get together of SpeakingEagles.
She told me then: “I am going to learn to fly.” She did……..And she has a documentary film coming out within the next year. An amazing young woman.
The below comments and photos are from UPS Captain Brett Gibbons, (B- 767 and B-757 on international routes, a former USAF pilot.
Had a good trip – something different and out of the norm. It was a big a big deal for UPS. Lots of photos and people in both Athens and Cologne. We had our Miami Chief pilot with us and he was the escort of the flame.
It is actually the 2015 Special Olympics in Los Angles. If you go to http://www.la2015.org It has some information about the lighting of the flame, UPS moving it, etc. The games start July 25th in LAX.
UPS is a Special Olympics sponsor.
There was no cargo on-board. Just Captain, First Officer and escort on B767. Normally, UPS contracts flights to Athens daily. This flight was just for PR.
Cologne is our major European hub. so that’s why the fight started there. The flame then went from Athens to Cologne then on to Philly. At that point it traveled by ground (UPS Vehicle) to D.C. to start its trek to LA. Three flames will leave D.C. on north, central, and southern routes and they will all meet in LA.
The flames are in 2 separate miners lamps on the aircraft. We also had 2 spares, not lit, just in case we needed them. They are mounted in a special device that is designed to be carried in aircraft seats.
Many airlines have moved these before just like we did. These lamps burn kerosene and can burn for a long time – maybe 20 hrs. They have a high and low setting. On low the flame is quite small, like a match. We also had fuel with us to keep them full. Interesting, fun, once-in-a-lifetime thing.
Speaking Eagles honor Col. Frank Kurtz, Olympic medalist diver and the most decorated Army Air Corps pilot in World War II
by Danny Cox
Speaking Eagles has named Colonel Frank Kurtz, the most decorated Army Air Corps pilot in World War II and a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) for the National Speakers Association, as an honorary member (awarded posthumously). Known for flying the last surviving B-17 Flying Fortress, Kurtz was an Army pilot on duty in the Philippines when the Japanese drew the United States into the war. He flew the last of the 35 planes stationed in the Pacific and when the plane suffered damages in combat, Kurtz and his crew dubbed it “part swan and part goose–the Swoose.”
Standing left to right, J.C. Goldman (tg); E. J. Campbell, (n); Fred Higginbotham (b); Charles LeMonde (wg); John Garton (ttg/eng); Al Hansen (btg); Charles Myers (wg). Photo courtesy of Tom Stevenson, 772nd.
Col. Frank Kurz
Born in Davenport, Iowa in 1911, Kurtz left home early and sold newspapers on the streets of Kansas City. He gained much attention with his charm, spirit of adventure and drive.
As a youth he visited a swimming pool and decided to try the high diving board. The fact that he didn’t know how to swim didn’t bother him. He took to swimming and diving quickly. The great Olympian Johnny Weissmuller, who was famous for playing Tarzan, saw Kurtz swimming and diving in a competition in Kansas City. He suggested Frank should go to Hollywood and work with the famous diving coach, Clyde Swenson.
At 15, Kurtz promptly hitchhiked to Los Angeles and met Swenson. His progress under Swenson was swift, but the Hollywood Athletic Club told him they couldn’t afford to send him to the National Diving Championships in Hawaii.
That was no problem for Kurtz. He signed on as a seaman on a tanker bound for Hawaii. He entered the competition, won second and headed back to Los Angeles as a stowaway. He graduated from high school in 1931 and then learned to fly. He set three speed records, including the record for a flight from Los Angeles to Mexico City.
Kurtz became an Olympic medalist and was the only diver up until that time to qualify for the Olympics three times. They were in 1932, 1936 and 1940 but the last one was cancelled due to the war. Grantland Rice, the legendary sports writer, called him “the greatest exhibition diver in the world.”
Just prior to World War II Kurtz joined the Army Air Force and flew the B-17. The war was looming on the horizon. He and his crew of ten were assigned to Clark Air Base on Luzon in the Philippines along with several other B-17’s. The Japanese attacked them eight hours after the Pearl Harbor attack.
The next day, his crew, while trying frantically to repair their B-17’s strafing damage, was attacked again. Eight of his tencrew members were killed. He went to each body and took something personal from each one to send to their families. He stored the items in his bunker. The next day the bunker was bombed and all personal belonging were lost.
Kurtz and his new crew did bombing raids on all the enemy held islands in the Southwest Pacific as they worked their way down to Australia. Their B-17’s needed some serious repairs from battle damage and they “scavenged” parts from other airplanes, not necessarily B-17’s. One of his crew said “our airplane is part swan and part goose.” The Swoose!
Kurtz was in Australia when a 10-year-old boy came to him and started talking. Frank took his “Wings” off his uniform and pinned them on the boy’s shirt. If you ever run into Rupert Murdoch, ask him if he still has Franks’ “Wings.”
His wife wired Frank to tell of their daughter’s birth and asked for a name. He said, “Call her ‘Swoosie’.”
W.L. White wrote Frank’s biography in 1943 called “Queens Die Proudly.” Frank’s wife, Margo, wrote a book, “My Rival, The Sky.”
The B-17 “The Swoose” became the second most famous airplane in World War II. The Enola Gay is number one. “Swoose” went first to the Smithsonian but is now on display at the Wright Patterson Air Force museum in Dayton, Ohio.
In 1979, Frank joined the National Speakers Association as a full time professional speaker and earned the CSP designation. He didn’t miss a convention for the next sixteen years. In 1995 he suffered a serious head injury in a fall. He was unable to continue speaking, but put up a good fight and “flew west” on October 31, 1996.
His daughter, Swoosie, is a highly acclaimed actress on screen, television and stage.
I was very proud to call Frank a friend.
Danny Cox, CSP, CPAE
At the recent National Speakers Association (NSA) convention in Philadelphia, the Speaking Eagles group featured Vice Admiral Mark Fox and retired Col. Tom Matthews.
Professional Skydiving Team Fastrax jumps with Petry
Skydiver, professional speaker and former U.S. Army Ranger David Hart recently had the good fortune to exit an airplane at 10,000 feet over Washington, D.C. with U.S. Army Ranger SFC Leroy Petry attached in tandem. Hart’s brother John shot the photos in freefall over Reagan National Airport, the Potomac River and the National Mall.
“The plane made a second pass at 6,000 feet with Dana Bowman and other members of Team Fastrax jumping with large U.S. Flags,” said Hart. “Everyone landed in a 100 x 100 foot area of turf in front of the National Harbor Conference Center. Following the jump the USMC Honor Guard performed for everyone. The event was hosted by the GE Veterans Support Group.”
Ranger Petry protected his Ranger unit in combat by grabbing a live grenade with his bare hand, which was blown off. Check out his new bionic right hand in the photos. When asked if he had any regrets, he said “I wish I would have grabbed the grenade with my left hand.” Petry is the only living Medal of Honor recipient still on active duty.
For more information on David Hart and Team Fastrax, visit http://blueskies175.wordpress.com/.