Mike 'Big Daddy' Holder inherited the flying fever from his father, Jim Holder. The elder Holder flew C-119 Boxcars and C-121 Constellations in the Air National Guard. Confirming the quick wit of a pilot, Jim said, "I couldn't pass the sergeant's test so they made me a lieutenant." Jim also flew 27 years for Eastern Airlines.
They arrived with pep in their step via a customized cane, a walker, or marching straight and tall into the American Legion with the vitality of bulls on steroids in the proverbial china shop. These veterans of WWII, Korea and Vietnam, with one veteran holding the distinction of serving in all three wars, were arriving at the American Legion for their 'meet and greet' to become acquainted with their guardians and with each other before their September 30 Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. They are getting older, but not enfeebled; and to suggest such a thing could run the ...
The gathering at Oxton Village Assisted Living in Social Circle witnessed a rare ceremony on August 25 honoring a WWII veteran of the Aleutian Islands campaign. Neglected by historians and academia, the men who fought and endured in the glacial seas in the Battle for the Komandorski Islands and struggled on the frozen tundra of Kiska and Attu were and continue to be overshadowed by the monikers of tropical island battles like Guadalcanal, Midway, and Guam. I had the honor to interview the Aleutian Islands veteran, Mr. Virgil Hanks.
War, real war, is the end result of botched politics. War is a dirty blood-stained business with the goal of defeating an enemy whose viewpoints or religion or territorial greed clashes with an opposing philosophy. Yet in today's society, the word 'War' is exploited to describe a plethora of societal issues better served by common sense instead of radicalization. A few examples.
The email from Covington resident Joe "Pete" Madding stimulated my curiosity. A handmade trench knife, lost in combat by an 82nd airborne paratrooper during the Battle of the Bulge who also came dangerously close to losing his leg, found its way back to Paris, TX in 1972 to a man who crafted the weapon 28 years beforehand.
Born in 1929 in Toledo, Ohio, a short six weeks later Richard Grimes and his family moved to White Plains, Georgia. He recalled, "My dad had a large dairy farm in White Plains, several hundred acres. He delivered milk to markets in Atlanta and Augusta. We did well, even though our country was gripped by the Great Depression. However, by 1935 my father was pouring milk down a sewer because the milk market bottomed. Luckily he found employment with Toledo Scales in Ashville, NC. And, yes, we took a milk cow with us."
On August 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb used in war was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later the second, and hopefully last atomic bomb utilized in war, was dropped on Japan. The primary target of the second bomb, Kokura, was obscured by thick clouds and smoke making the secondary target, Nagasaki, the unfortunate quarry.
One of twelve siblings, Simon Ramos came into this world in 1932. The Y.O. Ranch on the fringes of Kerrville, Texas was his childhood playground, all 566,000 acres of it. Ramos recalled, "My dad was from Mexico and worked the Y.O. Ranch as a cowhand. I rode a small horse and helped on the cattle drives when I could. That was exciting for a kid."
Unassuming to a fault with a personality void of haughtily broadcasting his unique education, Fox McCarthy mingles into the community with a style he set in motion after 26 years of service to his country. "Once I took off the uniform a new life with new opportunities awaited me," he stated. "I did my duty in peace and in war. The time had come to move on." A West Point graduate, Lt. Col. Fox McCarthy retired in 1979. This is his story.
War, should always be the last option to resolve international disputes. War, is a costly and ugly enterprise which brings misery to the guiltless. War, is politics with bloodshed, and politics is war devoid of bloodshed.
Jack P. McCormick, chopper pilot: "I would occasionally carry them out to the field to be with the troops when I was flying with the First Cav in 1970 out of Tay Ninh. These ladies were the bravest women I had ever met."
Captain Wayne Waddell deemed his chances of survival slim to none as his F-105 Thunderchief fighter-bomber plummeted out of the skies near the Chinese border with North Vietnam. Perilously close to the ground, he ejected, the chute deployed, and Waddell hit the ground in less than three seconds. Evasion attempts failed. Captured and incarcerated, the Air Force pilot would remain a POW in North Vietnam for the next five years and eight months.
A black church, a maladjusted white kid, and the nation moaning, "My God, not again." A few selected politicians, firm believers in the theory of 'never let a good crisis go to waste', exploited the tragedy to push for more gun control on law abiding citizens. Shame on them. Thankfully, the majority of politicians did the decent thing by grieving with the rest of the country and graciously keeping their mouths shut. Condolences and heart-felt words for the fallen were and always will be a proper and suitable way to express sympathy for a heartbreak such as Charleston.