This week, work has been really taking a toll on me. This week is just a 4 day week, but it has felt like a month and its only Wednesday!!! I really wanted to post a nice memorial day blog entry, but my family and I had a BBQ. So this is my belated memorial day blog.
I may not agree with the “war” we are in still over in Iraq and surrounding areas, but I do strongly appreciate what our troops are doing for us here back at the states. Freedom IS NOT FREE. I have had many veterans in my family. My dad’s father (my grandfather) was a WWII Army Veteran (recently found out he was in the thickest areas, including Normandy, Battle of the bulge, and French occupied Morocco), my uncle John (Guadalcanal WWII vet) My Mom’s father, (my grandfather) is a Korean War (or action depending on how you choose to see it) veteran, my uncle Harvey (My great uncle on dad’s side) a retired lieutenant colonial in the US Airforce who served during vietnam, my uncle Bill (my dad’s cousin) also in the US airforce, uncle Larry (my dad’s half brother) a Vietnam Veteran, my great grandfather (my mom’s mother’s father) worked in Lawrence livermore labs during the development of the A-Bomb, and was an engineer (if I remember correctly), Jeff Dunn (my co-worker, teacher, and all around friend) who served in during the Vietnam war (but stationed in Hickam AFB Hawaii, guam, and I am sure some places he can’t disclose) my student Carlos Granados currently a US Marine, and my buddy Nick Milosovich a former US Marine since honorably discharged. I tip my hat of to all of my family and friends that have served or are currently serving. If it was not for my physical medical problems I would of been right there along with you all (my knees are tore up from chronic skate boarding abuse) I have the most respect for all who have served, if it was not for you preserving my freedom, I would not be able to write this blog right now. Even though memorial day is meant to remember those who have fallen and those who gave their lives for our freedom, I still believe that we should also thank those who made it back, sometimes they returned a different person. When I think of that, I first think of my Uncle Larry who served during the Vietnam War. He was in charge of demolitions such as defusing bombs/minds, blowing up unexploded bombs/minds, and the use of C4 and other items. He seen a lot of really horrible things while on tour over there. It really tore him up inside. He was a changed man when he returned. He slept with the light on, had minor flashbacks, and became somewhat reclusive. I was young when I first learned he was in the war, and I had questions about the war, and he really didn’t mind talking about it, but I always knew that it made him upset and uncomfortable and though I really wanted to know a first hand account of the Vietnam war, I never asked him, because I knew it affected him. Now that he is gone (from complications of diabetes from exposure to agent orange.. I mean.. whats angent orange? the government never used that… yeah right!) all of that info has gone with him. When he returned from the war he was shunned upon by the bitter public, called “a baby raper/killer”, spit on, assaulted, and harassed, just because he went over there and just because some sick crazy vigilante soldiers had made a bad name for the rest of the soldiers. To me, he has ALWAYS has been and FOREVER will be a hero to me. If you were one of those who harassed the returning soldiers back then just know this!!! – The veterans who did their job, preserved our freedom, and came back looking for comfort in the USA, will NEVER forgive you for what you did to them and for how you made them feel upon their return to the states! For those who rebelled and made vulgar statements to OUR soldiers returning from any war, I offer you this question.. WHY weren’t YOU willing to help preserve and protect OUR freedom like THEY did for all of US instead of protesting and dodging the draft? You did not have the testicular fortitude to protect and preserve OUR country’s freedom.
I am sorry for the venting but it really bugs me. Hits me right in the heart. The only time my uncle Larry was memorialized, honored, and put into the shining light of being a patriot to our country was when he was buried in the Dixon Military Cemetery with a head stone reading:
My sincere thanks to all of you who have served in ANY war or police action through out history. I have all of you to thank for my freedom, my way of life, and everything that is great in my life. None of it would be possible if you did not do your time in vast lands that are beyond the horizons, beyond humanity, and beyond belief. Thank you SO much for EVERYTHING you have done for the US, our country, and our homeland. If you are over seas, currently serving, whether you are sitting in a base wrenching on a humvee, to stationed at a security check point, to in combat currently in the middle of a fire fight, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your families in hopes of your safe return state side. Give’m Hell!
“No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country”. – George S. Patton
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.” – George S. Patton
Thank your local veteran for their service.
Vintage bomber takes visitors on ‘Sentimental Journey’
So any who.. as you know this is a blog about retro and vintage things. So going along the lines of memorial day, I believe that the machines and equipment that got our troops to places, helped neutralize areas, and or kept our troops safe can also be considered a veteran. A great example is the B-17 planes of WWII. The Flying fortress. Here is another B-17 that is still dipping its wing tips into the clouds even after 65 years. These are so stunning to see in the air. It is like a flying building. The props are so loud, and the presence of this plane in the air is really something. I work at a school that is near the Hayward airport. There is a B-17 (The Aluminum Overcast) that flys over the school and no matter what I am doing, I STOP and look.. I may be in mid sentance and I stop talking and look. It is spectacular that something that large can actually fly and with little effort. Here is another B17 that you can visit if your near the St. Louis Regional Airport, it is on display and giving rides untill Sunday June 6th.
The most authentic World War II B-17G Flying Fortress, “Sentimental Journey,” will be on view for tours and available for flight opportunities at St. Louis Regional Airport, starting Thursday until Sunday.
Restored as a flying museum and memorial by the Commemorative Air Force Arizona Wing, the visit offers the public an up-close look at a piece of aviation history.
“Flying in the plane is such a wonderful feeling,” said the plane’s load master and safety officer, Diane Carl of Mesa, Ariz. “It’s a great way to honor our veterans; a lot of the time, we’re able to give our World War II vets a ride.”
Ground tours cost $5 for ages 13 to adult; $3 for children ages 5 through 12; children under 5 are admitted free. Hours are from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily, with the aircraft departing Monday afternoon.
Reservations can be made to take a 45-minute flight by calling (602) 448-9415. The experience includes boarding, the engine start, taxiing, taking off, flying, landing and shutting down.
A flight on this famed bomber, named after a popular Doris Day song from 1945, costs $425 per person for the waist section and $600 per person in the nose section, with a portion of the flight cost being tax-deductible.
All proceeds from the tour benefit “Sentimental Journey,” with volunteers serving as crew members.
“The ‘Sentimental Journey’ is the only remaining B-17 that is combat-ready,” Carl said. “Although all the shells are blanks, the bombs, the .50-caliber (machine) guns and the ball turrets are all in place as if they were ready to go.”
Built in 1944 by Douglas Aircraft, the bomber was manufactured too late in the war to see service in the European Theater. Instead, the aircraft was assigned to the Pacific for the duration of the war, eventually doing duty as a photo-mapping plane and then later in atomic bomb tests in the Bikini Islands.
The plane took its final military orders in 1959, after which it flew thousands of sorties against forest fires throughout the country for the following 18 years. In 1978, the plane was donated to the newly formed Arizona Wing of the Commemorative Air Force, a nonprofit organization.
The plane underwent several years of extensive renovations before once again taking to the air, stopping at as many as 60 different airports around the country each year.
A famous pin-up picture of Betty Grable graces the plane’s nose. The plane carries the markings of the 457th Bomb Group that was based in Glatton, England, during World War III with the U.S. 8th Air Force.
In recent years, the plane has seen “duty” in movies and TV series “All the Fine Young Men,” “1941″ and “Wings.”
“For the airplane enthusiast, it’s an opportunity to have a museum come to the visitor instead of the traditional other way around,” said Rick Senffner, organization spokesman.
The B-17 Flying Fortress was famous for daylight bombing raids over Germany during World War II and could sustain such significant battle damage that the aircraft lived up to its name, the Flying Fortress. Out of 12,731 built, there are only about 10 restored and airworthy examples remaining.
Aviation gifts will be available for purchase through the PX. See the Arizona Wing CAF Web site for more information about “Sentimental Journey” at www.azcaf.org.
I love these planes. These are really an awesome piece of history. I encourage you to take a look at the plane, take a ride, and relive a piece of history. It is a once in a lifetime experience. Thank you all for everything you have done for our country and thank you for your dedication to our country. You are our only source of security for our freedom. Thank you for your time in whichever branch you served. As the late night talk show host Craig Ferguson says at the beginning of every show, “It’s a great day for America”.. thanks to our enlisted men and veterans.
Thanks for reading,