Tuesday, March 27, 2018
More Letters From Paradise
During WWII, the U.S. Army Air Force built three small airstrips along side of the Colorado River. These airstrips were known simply as Sites five, six, and seven. They were built to train pilots to fly in strong cross-winds, and have places to land in emergencies.
Site Six is no longer an airstrip. Houses have been built over the runway. Site Six has become a popular fishing spot. Located not far from Lake Havasu City, Arizona. All that remains of its former history is a small concrete building with rooms for long ago WWII pilots.
More Letters From Paradise Desert Bar
Imagine finding a real bar serving beer and wine, in the middle of the Arizona desert! Seven miles off the main highway, and away from the small town of Parker, there is a real bar! The owner built the structure only ten feet square. It has since expanded. Water for the bar was carried from Parker in an old fire truck. The owner of the bar is a man of many talents. A welder by trade, he also built what is called the "Holy Church," a steel facade with windows cut out with torch. The building facade is 30 x60 ft. and rests on a concrete slab.
The bar has greatly expanded over the years. Ice chests have been replaced by refrigerators. There are also clean restrooms, and hamburgers are served at the bar. The owner has built a house for himself too on the desert property. Weekends are always busy with people at the bar, weddings at the "Holy Church" for those wanting to try it for the third or fourth time. And everyone dances on the concrete slab of the "Holy Church."
If you drive to the town of Parker,
Arizona, you might get directions to the desert bar, located seven miles out in the desert.
Monday, March 26, 2018
More Letters From Paradise
The Strongest Liberian in the World
On the third floor of the Salt Lake City Library you will find a six foot seven inch man named Josh Hanagadne. He has a Master's Degree in Library Science, and he bends railroad spikes and rolls up frying pans during his breaks. He is also cursed with Tourettes syndrome.
Tourettes takes many forms. It caused him to beat against his face, shout out suddenly and shake his head. His parents tried everything to help him, including having Botox injected in to is vocal chords, causing him to be unable to talk for two years.
His tics grew worse. But there was hope. He met a retired Air Force Sgt. who was into weight lifting. Josh soon found that he could suppress the tics whole lifting weights. He is not cured, but he can lead a normal life. He is married and has one son.
His story was published in 2013 by Gotham Books.
More Letters From Paradise
Leonardo Da Vinci drew pictures of gliders. The Wright Brothers built, and flew gliders. The U.S. used gliders to land our troops in Normandy on June 6, 1944. So, we should suppose that there is nothing left to know about gliders. There is something new about gliders, built for food. A glider named "Pounder," is an edible glider with a ten-foot wingspan, that carries a hundred-and-forty-five pounds of food,customized to local cultural tastes. Pounder can be released from a cargo plane sixty miles from its intended drop, and land within twenty-three feet of its target.
Pounder is the brainchild of British aeronautics engineer Nigel Gifford. He intends to replace the wood frame of the glider with food. Hard-baked flour when soaked in water and added to a meal. He is already thinking about vacuum-packed meats for a possible landing gear.
All of the information I stole from "New Yorker" magazine December 18&25 2017 p.68
It is now March 10, 2018 and I felt that this story was so great, I saved it for all to enjoy.
His given name was Sidney, but we all knew him as Pete. He would sometimes answer his phone with "Seal World Headquarters."
Pete, like countless other American men, enlisted in the Army, soon after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. I believe that he was under-age too. After Basic Training he was sent to Guadalcanal.
Guadalcanal is an island in the Solomon Islands. The Japanese were building an air strip. The battle for control of the island took place between August 7, 1942 and February 9, 1943. Marines supported by the Army captured the island. This was the start of the Allied offensive in the Pacific.Pete once spoke of seeing trenches full of dead Japanese. His job was to communicate with aircraft. He never said anything more about Guadalcanal. Where he went next, I have no idea.
I do know that he was in Tokyo when the war ended. He was passing a building when he saw the blade of an aircraft propeller on display. There was some writing on it, and Pete assumed it had something to do with aircraft production. He took a fancy to it, and had it shipped home as a war trophy. Many G.I.'s did that in both theaters of the war.
Now I want you to fast forward to just a few years ago, when the new Aviation Museum of the Pacific opened on Ford Island. Pete donated his Japanese propeller blade. He visited the museum only to discover that it was not on display, but was in some guy's office. Pete was very angry, and demanded its return. I saw it in his apartment.
When the war ended Pete remained in what became a separate service,the U.S. Air Force. Pete continued serving during Korea, and Vietnam. What he did I have no clue. He retired as a Chief Master Sergeant.
During his retirement he became fast friends and buddies with retired Lt.Col. Paul Schmitz. They lived together in the Waipuna condo for some twelve years. When Paul married his second wife Donna, the two continued to be best buddies. The three of them went to Europe, with Pete acting as their driver. Pete said that one time he took a wrong turn and they spent fifteen minutes in Switzerland.
Sometime earlier Pete had purchased a four-seat airplane. He always said it was the worst mistake he had ever made. This was because he either loaned his plane or rented it, and the plane was crashed. Pete was forced to move out of the Waipuna. He later moved into the Villa on Eaton Square.
Pete and Paul were members of our group called the "Tribe." Members of our tribe make trips to and from the airport in support of each other. Birthdays and holidays are all celebrated together. Both Pete and Paul were generous, always bringing bottles of champagne. Paul would loan his car, and Pete would often pick up the check when at the Smoke House, the local bar. When Pete broke his ankle for the second time, and was reduced to using a walker, he would insist on throwing it up the steep steps and pull himself up to it. We were always ready to catch him.
His best friend, Paul, came to realize that his health was failing and decided to move in with Helen, his friend from long ago in California. When Paul moved to California,Pete lost his best buddy. He began hanging out at the Hickham golf course, often three days a week. He was looked after by Bobbie, who worked at the bar. He felt at home there. He told me that he planned to move to housing at Hickham. And he did just that, and then regretted his move. He said "It was too large to care for." He was making plans to return to the Villa.
Teena and I had Pete over for dinner many times, with Paul for a long time, and also Pat, another friend who lived in Discovery Bay until she moved to Arizona, and then after Paul moved, Pete came by himself. The two of them could really tell the stories and were very full of fun. Teena and I were in Arizona and did not learn of his death until our return. We informed members of the "Tribe," and the people at the Smoke House bar.
All of us who knew Pete wish that if golf is played in Heaven, that he will at last make a hole-in-one. Aloha Pete
Thursday, November 30, 2017
More Letters From Paradise
Each kit will be filled with a "comfort letter," and photos of family and nonperishable food. Donations of cases of bottled water, flashlights, batteries, duct tape, and Clorox wipes are needed.
These kits are for elementary school children, to be used incase of a nuclear attack from North Korea. Hawaii will do its best to be prepared for such an event. When the attack siren sounds you have only 12 minutes to find a place to shelter. But Hawaii has no public shelters. We have been told to" shelter in place."
Kids at Kaimuki Middle School were told to get to certain classrooms, close the windows, and turn off the air conditioning. They had also been told about the "pee buckets" they would be using. A directive was sent to teachers to use plastic sheeting, wet cloth and duct tape to seal windows to minimize air contamination.
All of this reminds me too much of the Cold War. Imagine a young teacher trying to tell her students about something you cannot taste,touch,see,or smell. And the temperature outside is 85 degrees,and inside the sealed classroom it would be unbearable
At the beginning of each month a siren sounds, testing the Tsunami Alert System. This coming Friday, December 1st a wailing tone will be added.
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
More Letters From Paradise
Remember Wake Island
Living here in Hawaii we are constantly reminded of the attack on Pearl Harbor. But how many under the age of fifty, remember the battle for Wake Island? Five hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Wake Island also underwent an attack by the Japanese.
Wake Island is located in the far-Western part of the Pacific. Over 2000 miles due west of Honolulu. The island became important because Pan American Airway developed it as a refueling and rest stop for its wealthy clients. The aircrafts were huge flying boats, landing and taking off on water. Pan American built a hotel for their wealthy guests.
The American military also had plans for the island. Fearing the increasing friction between the U.S. and Japan, contractors were busy building an air strip, hospital, and other buildings. Over 1,100 civilian construction workers were trapped on Wake when the war broke out.
Wake Island is an atoll made- up of three small islands grouped around a shallow lagoon that was once the crater of extinct volcano. Wake,the largest of the three, is separated by narrow channels from Wilkes and Peale islands, just to the west. Together they form a rough horseshoe shape. The islands had swarms of rats, but no fresh water. The interior of the islands contained masses of trees and brush. Wake was next in importance to Midway as a base for aircraft, submarines, land-based forces, and fleet facilities. And it was not far from Japan.
Wake was garrisoned by a force of 510 Marines equipped with three three-inch antiaircraft batteries of four guns each, three five-inch shore batteries of two guns each, two dozen .50 caliber machine guns, and two dozen .30 caliber machine guns. Also, a few old Springfield rifles. And that was all. The arrival of twelve brand-new Grumman F4F Wildcatfighter planes were a welcome addition to the island's defense.
The attack began with a flight of eighteen bombers which destroyed eight of the Wildcats. When they had finished, the only thing left intact was the runway itself.
Many of the visible structures were in ruins. There were only three flyable planes left.
In spite of bombs from the air, strafing runs, and two landings, this handful of Marines with some of the construction workers, lasted two days longer than did the defenders of the Alamo.
Back in Pearl Harbor Admiral Kimmel dispatched a relief fleet to Wake, but the fleet was ordered back to Pearl as there was a change of command. In other words, the defenders of Wake were screwed. No help would be sent to them.
The commanding officer of Wake Island was Commander Winfield Scott Cunningham USN, and Major James Devereux was commander of the Marine detachment.
During the fourteen day siege the Marines sank one major Japanese ship, heavily damaged several others, and repelled a Japanese invasion. Commander Cunningham, realizing that there was little hope left, ordered a surrender. The Marines were mad as hell.
The Japanese were so angry having lost so many men, and that there were no women to rape. The captives were harshly treated, and then taken aboard a ship which would carry them to both Japan and China. Some few civilians were kept to rebuild, and then were executed. On the ship five men were selected, blindfolded, and beheaded as a symbolic revenge for having killed so many Japanese soldiers.
The prisoners were to spend the next three and a half years as prisoners and slave laborers. It all came to an end with the Atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the Japanese surrender.
The construction company that had hired these civilians, paid wages to those who had managed to survive. Commander Cunningham and Major Devereaux were both promoted. Each man later wrote books about their experience.
Wake Island today maintains the airstrip, but there are no commercial flights and it is simply there for emergencies. The population today is 120 civilians. They have a nine hole golf course, cocktail bar, and nice housing. Visitors to the island just have government authorization. They are geologists, oceanographers, bureaucrats, film makers, and some of the survivors of the battle. Marine and Navy retirees may travel there free of charge on military aircraft.
What I have written is from the most excellent "Given Up for Dead," by Bill Sloan. Bantam hardcover edition published 2003.