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433rd Troop Carrier Group (USAAF)
History - Books - Aircraft - Time Line - Commanders - Main Bases - Component Units - Assigned To
The 433rd Troop Carrier Group (USSAF) operated in support of the campaigns on New Guinea and the Philippines and moved parts of the Fifth Air Force to Okinawa.
The group was activated in February 1943 and trained in glider towing and supply and paratroop dropping techniques. By November it had joined the Fifth Air Force on New Guinea. The group was based at Port Moresby, at the eastern end of the island from 1943 until October 1944, then at Biak, at the western end of the area, from October 1944 until it moved to Leyte early in 1945.
During its time on New Guinea the group was used to transport troops and supplies to the front and evacuated wounded personnel back.
In October 1944 the group began to convert from the C-47 Skytrain (Dakota) to the Curtiss C-46 Commando, which was judged to be a better aircraft for the Pacific theatre.
The group had a wider range of activities on the Philippines. It continued to fly supplies to the front, but also supported the local Filipino guerillas, and evacuated POWs and other internees from newly liberated areas. The group was also used to move combat troops from New Guinea, the Dutch East Indies and the Solomon Islands to the new battlegrounds on the Philippines.
In June 1945, towards the end of the campaign on Luzon the group provided seven C-46s to tow cargo gliders into Lipa airstrip to support the 317th Troop Carrier Group's move to that airfield. This allowed the 317th to support the American troops advancing towards Alcala.
In June-August 1945 the group was used to transport the staff of the Fifth Air Force to Okinawa. After the Japanese surrender it was used to fly occupation troops onto Japan. The group moved to Japan in September 1945, but was inactivated at the start of 1946.
1943-1946: Douglas C-47 Skytrain , Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, Curtiss C-46 Commando
|22 Jan 1943||Constituted as 433rd Troop Carrier Group|
|9 Feb 1943||Activated|
|Aug-Nov 1943||To New Guinea and Fifth Air Force|
|Sept 1945||To Japan|
|15 Jan 1946||Inactivatedc|
Commanders (with date of appointment)
Col Cecil B Guile: 10Feb 1943
Lt Col Marvin O Calliham: 17Apr 1945
Lt Col James L Cole: Sep 1945-unkn.
Florence AAFld, SC: 9 Feb1943
Baer Field, Ind: 1-12 Aug 1943
PortMoresby, New Guinea: 25 Aug 1943
Biak:17 Oct 1944
Tanauan, Leyte: 19 Jan 1945
Clark Field, Luzon: 31 May 1945
Tachikawa,Japan: 11 Sep 1945-15 Jan 1946
1943: 52nd Troop Carrier Wing; US Based
1943: 53rd Troop Carrier Wing; US Based
1943-46: 54th Troop Carrier Wing; Fifth Air Force
433rd Troop Carrier Group - History
Built by Douglas. Constructors Number 9575. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as C-47A-30-DL Dakota serial number 42-23713. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 433rd Troop Carrier Group (433rd TCG), 66th Troop Carrier Squadron (66th TCS). Nicknamed "Billie L." and later renamed "Ghost of Billie L." with the nose art of a nude woman with her legs crossed and her right hand behind her head. Nose number / Buzz Number 237 on each side of the cockpit.
On February 12, 1944 took off from Nadzab Airfield piloted by 1st Lt Paul F. Jacobs on a mission to air drop supplies over Kerowagi in the Highlands of New Guinea. While making their approach, a cloud bank came up and the pilot tried to tried to pull up. Despite applying full power, the aircraft continued to settle towards the runway, landing about halfway along, struck a hut with its wing, and went over an embankment, breaking the fuselage, both engines caught fire then crashed at 10:00am near Mingendi Mission a couple of miles short of Kerowagi. Afterwards, the fires were extinguished and the crew survived unhurt with only radio operator Hibbs suffering slight head injuries.
Fiona Hocking (daughter of Donald Cameron):
"My father, Don Cameron, was in the 3rd Australian Air Maintenance Company in New Guinea in 1943 based at Nadzab. His company was in a joint operation with the American 66th Troop Carrier Squadron - the 'Biscuit Bombers'. There were ten American C-47's in their group. One, who's number was 237 and nicknamed 'Billie L' was usually piloted by Captain Richard (Dick) A. Grant. On 12th February, 1944, my father, two other Australians and three Americans set off in 'Billie L' from Nadzab for Kerowagi for a supply drop. They were headed for Kerowagi when a bank of clouds came up suddenly. The pilot said he didn't like the look of it and dad agreed that they should turn back. The cloud came in too fast and with next to no visibility, they crashed into Mingendi Mission, the left wing clipping a hut and the fuselage broke in two. Somehow, all on board escaped. Dad told the Chief he could have the plane and any supplies they could salvage and asked if someone could get a message to Kerowagi for them. The message said that they had crashed, all were OK and requested immediate evacuation from Kerowagi. The Chief then had all six stretchered to Kerowagi which Dad said took most of the day. The next day Dick Grant flew up in another C-47 and landed on what Dad describes as no longer than a cricket pitch. The natives helped turn the plane around and back it up into the bushes so that only the front wheels were on the landing strip. When all were on board, Dick revved the plane until it was shaking and then released the brakes. The plane dropped off the side of the mountain and he used the thermals to keep it airborne until they had the necessary air speed to fly. Another C-47 was commissioned to replace 'Billie L' and they named her 'Ghost of Billie L'. Dad turn 85 in April this year and he said he wishes he had a photo of all 10 planes in their group with their insignia on them. He can't remember all of their names - just three: 'Billie L', 'Suzie Q' and 'Dewars'."
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Ralph L. Hibbs
USAF Serial Number Search Results - C-47A-30-DL Dakota 42-23713
"23713 (MSN 9575) delivered May 21, 1943 - 5th AF Brisbane Jul 16, 1943 - Condemned Feb 15, 1944 accident"
433rd Troop Carrier Group unit history Frame 284 Microfilm A0986
PNG Museum Aircraft Status Card - C-47 Dakota 42-23713
Thanks to Fiona Hocking for additional information
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433rd Troop Carrier Group
Constituted as 433rd Troop Carrier Group on 22 Jan 1943. Activated on 9 Feb 1943. Trained to tow gliders and to transport and drop supplies and paratroops. Moved to New Guinea, via Hawaii, the Fiji Islands, and Australia, Aug-Nov 1943. Assigned to Fifth AF. Operated from New Guinea and Biak until 1945, using C-47's and a few B-17's, plus C-46's that were acquired late in 1944. Transported troops hauled such things as gasoline, ammunition, medicine, rations, communications equipment, and construction materials and evacuated wounded personnel. Moved to the Philippines in Jan 1945. Operations included delivering ammunition, rations, and other items to Filipino guerrilla forces evacuating prisoners of war and civilian internees transporting combat units from New Guinea, the Netherlands Indies, and the Solomons, to the Philippines and dropping rice to the leper colony on Culion Island. Transported organizations of Fifth AF to Okinawa, Jun-Aug 1945, and hauled occupation forces to Japan after V-J Day. Moved to Japan in Sep 1945. Inactivated on 15 Jan 1946.
Allotted to the reserve. Activated in the US on 6 Jul 1947. Redesignated 433rd Troop Carrier Group (Medium) in Jun 1949. Equipped for a time with C-46 and C-47 aircraft converted to C-119's in 1950. Ordered to active service on 15 Oct 1950. Assigned to Tactical Air Command. Moved to Germany, Jul-Aug 1951, and assigned to United States Air Forces in Europe. Inactivated in Germany on 14 Jul 1952.
Allotted to the reserve. Activated in the US on 18 May 1955.
Squadrons. 5th: 1948-1949. 65th: 1943-1945. 66th: 1943-1945. 67th: 1943-1946 1947-1952 1955-. 68th: 1943-1946 1947-1952 1955-. 69th: 1943-1946 1947-1952. 70th: 1943-1946 1947-1950. 315th: 1948-1949.
Stations. Florence AAFld, SC, 9 Feb 1943 Baer Field, Ind, 1-12 Aug 1943 Port Moresby, New Guinea, 25 Aug 1943 Biak 17 Oct 1944 Tanauan, Leyte, 19 Jan 1945 Clark Field, Luzon, 31 May 1945 Tachikawa, Japan, 11 Sep 1945-15 Jan 1946. Akron, Ohio, 6 Jul 1947 Cleveland Mun Aprt, Ohio, 27 Jun 1949 Greenville AFB, SC, 16 Oct 1950-20 Jul 1951 Rhein-Main AB, Germany, 5 Aug 1951-14 Jul 1952. Brooks AFB, Tex, 18 May 1955-.
Commanders. Col Cecil B Guile, 10 Feb 1943 Lt Col Marvin O Calliham, 17 Apr 1945 Lt Col James L Cole, Sep 1945-unkn. Lt Col Cornelius P Chima, 15 Oct 1950 Col Lucion N Powell, 24 Mar-14 Jul 1952.
Campaigns. Air Offensive, Japan New Guinea Northern Solomons Bismarck Archipelago Western Pacific Leyte Luzon Southern Philippines Ryukyus.
Decorations. Philippine Presidential Unit Citation.
Data from Air Force Combat Units of World War II By Maurer, Maurer, Published 1986
433rd Troop Carrier Group - History
Built by Douglas. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as C-47A-35-DL Dakota serial number 42-23959. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 433rd Troop Carrier Group, 69th Troop Carrier Squadron. Nicknamed "Hell's Bells". Nose Number 354. Australian call sign VH-CHK.
On September 14, 1944 took off from Garbutt Field near Townsville flown by an aircrew from the 68th Troop Carrier Squadron on a flight bound for Port Moresby. During the flight, this C-47 experienced trouble with the left engine and electrical system. The cargo was thrown out, but the aircraft continued to loose altitude. Next, the right engine started to malfunction as the aircraft reached the southern New Guinea coast. This C-47 successfully forced landed at Fairfax Station near Galley Reach, roughly 15 miles west of Port Moresby at roughly Lat 9.04 Long 146.52.
Fate of the Crew
None of the crew were injured in the landing. All were returned to Port Moresby.
This aircraft remained at Fairfax Station. Sometime during 1966-1967 the nose section was cut off and taken to Jacksons Airport. Both engines, and one cowling with the name "Joanne" or "Joanna" were recovered to the PNG War Museum. The rest of the wreckage was scrapped sometime later or otherwise disappeared.
Michael Claringbould visited the wreck in 1964:
"I was driven to the Fairfax site by Port Moresby resident Russell Lamb. Along for the ride were his sons Peter & Greg and other unknown parties. The wreck still had its nose section then, and I recall with considerable clarity that when you entered the wreck through the rear door, you were greeted by the smell of hydraulic fluid. The fuselage had side-saddle arrangement, and some of the checkered leather padding was still in place in the forward fuselage. The 1968 photo show considerable deterioration in four years ! The forward fuselage was cut off around 1966/67 and sent to the fire fighting section at Jacksons Drome alongside a Catalina 68045 fuselage, where both were used for practice drills. Don't know what happened to it after that. I last saw the nose section at Jacksons (still with three-digit squadron number visible) in 1971."
Ray Fairfield recalls:
"Closer to the ridges and a bit further north was a belly-landed C-47. As of early 1960's the locals had cut off the fuselage roof along the window line. I remember the rest of it as very knocked about."
Kell Nielsen recalls:
"The person who I first worked for took me out there first time in a Land-Rover [in 1968]. On the way from Boroko to Jacksons we took the right turn at the T intersection past a poultry farm and then turned left. Then it was between 3 and 5 miles on dirt road till we came to some big mud flats it was on a slightly raised area to the right of these mud flats. If you compare my Photograph of me standing in the Land Rover and the later negatives from 1973, you will see how much the Pandanus at the tail end has grown."
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Old Soldiers: Pacific B-17 Armed Transports
After dropping supplies to U.S. troops on Los Negros Island, the B-17E "Yankee Diddler" strafes the Japanese airstrip at Momote on March 2, 1944.
A dozen battered B-17s served as armed transports in the Pacific, dropping supplies and strafing Japanese positions.
In 1943, when hundreds of B-17s routinely sortied over Europe, a B-17 mission in the Southwest Pacific theater never amounted to more than 30 Flying Fortresses. Fifth Air Force commander Lt. Gen. George C. Kenney argued for more B-17s following the Battle of the Bismarck Sea in March 1943, but military planners told him the Boeing bombers were going to Europe and he would be getting Consolidated B-24 Liberators to replace his aging Fortresses. So between May and October 1943, Kenney’s only B-17 bomb group, the 43rd, became a B-24 outfit. Some of its well-worn B-17s were sent home to serve as trainers and several became runabouts for generals, but 12 were selected for a special mission as armed transports.
Supplying coastwatchers and other Allied intelligence units operating deep in enemy territory was a vital but dangerous task, and potentially a deathtrap for the unarmed Douglas C-47 transports. The B-17s, capable of carrying a heavier load for a greater distance and armed with 10 or 11 machine guns, were a perfect fit.
In November 1943, six B-17Es and six B-17Fs—serial nos. 41-2408, 41-2432 The Last Straw, 41-2458 Yankee Diddler, 41-2657, 41-2662 Spawn of Hell, 41-2665 Lulu, 41-24353 Cap’n & The Kids, 41-24357 Blonde Bomber, 41-24358 Lulu Belle, 41-24381 Panama Hattie, 41-24420 Caroline and 41-24548—were thoroughly overhauled, modified and repainted by the 4th Air Depot Group at Townsville, Australia. “One of the first things they did was remove the ball turret because of the possibility of entanglement of the parachutes during a drop mission,” recalled Jack Hoover, a pilot in the 317th Troop Carrier Group. “All the other guns were left operational.
The B-17E "Cap’n & The Kids," a veteran of 81 bombing missions, joins the C-47s at Port Moresby to serve as an armed transport in the New Guinea area of the Southwest Pacific theater. (Dan Johnson Collection)
“The bomb bay was the more important part of the reconfiguration. The racks and shackles were removed. Bins were constructed on either side and a steel cable affixed to the area above the bins to attach the parachute static lines. The bottom of the bins were on hinges with electric switches for release, and the release switches were located right in front of the pilot.”
The 12 modified B-17s were assigned to the 54th Troop Carrier Wing, based at Port Moresby, New Guinea, with one airplane going to each of the four squadrons of the 317th and 375th Troop Carrier groups and two assigned to the 433rd Troop Carrier Group. The remaining two B-17Fs apparently served as a personal transports.
A lot of history lingered in those veteran bombers—41-2408 was the oldest B-17 in the Fifth Air Force and, with 41-2432, had flown into the maelstrom over Hawaii on December 7, 1941. Yankee Diddler was a survivor of the Java campaign, and Lulu had flown in the Battle of Midway. A couple of the B-17s retained their earlier nicknames, while others acquired new ones—Lulu became Pretty Baby, Blonde Bomber was soon The Super Chief, Caroline was “G.I.” Jr. and 41-24548 was dubbed Harry the Horse.
The first crews were composed of men from the 43rd Bomb Group who had come in as replacements or didn’t have enough points to go home with the rest of their crew, as well as men from the troop carrier squadrons. Extra gunners were borrowed from the bomb groups as needed.
Yankee Diddler joined the 39th Troop Carrier Squadron on November 27 and immediately went to work. Pilot Ted Bauries remembered, “We were feeding the coastwatchers up there around Rabaul by taking off in the dark in the morning, getting there at daylight and dropping food and so forth to them, then come back and fly C-47s…the rest of the time.” Jack Hoover added, “Sometimes we would free fall rations and other types of cargo…this was sort of iffy as we would drop the gear and fly as slow as possible, close to the ground.”
B-17F 41-24548, dubbed “Harry the Horse,” unloads supplies over Los Negros in March 1944. (Australian War Memorial)
As early as August 1943, Allied leaders had decided to bypass the Japanese stronghold at Rabaul, on New Guinea’s New Britain island. The Allies still wanted a foothold on western New Britain in order to control the sea lanes between it and the New Guinea mainland, so amphibious landings were scheduled for Cape Gloucester on December 26, following a diversionary raid at Arawe, about 60 miles southeast, 11 days earlier.
The Arawe landing force encountered heavy opposition and requested complete resupply. Four tons of food, ammunition, raincoats and medical supplies were loaded into Captain Lee Bird’s Yankee Diddler, which was standing by at Dobodura, the Allies’ advanced base on the east coast of New Guinea. Yankee Diddler headed out across the Solomon Sea for New Britain, flying just 150 feet above the ocean.
“Our only worry was that our own boys might think us Japs and open up,” said navigator Lieutenant Seymour Schafer. But all they saw were friendly troops waving from a road running down the middle of their target, the Amalut coconut plantation. Yankee Diddler circled and completed the first drop, then circled again while crewmen reloaded the bins. Tail gunner Staff Sgt. Paul Blasewitz, a 43rd Group veteran who amused himself by singing tenor solos over the interphone, simply said, “The mission was a cinch.”
The “new” B-17s also came in handy for a broad range of special assignments. On February 21, 1944, The Super Chief dropped 50 bags of food on a dry creek bed near Open Bay on New Britain, then photographed a volcanic lake to assess the feasibility of landing a PBY Catalina on it to rescue downed Allied airmen. And 41-2408 made at least one unofficial beer run to Australia from New Guinea.
During the invasion of the Admiralty Islands, eight B-17 armed transports stood by at Finschhafen, about 300 miles away on the New Guinea mainland, in case they were needed. They would be.
The invasion began as a reconnaissance-in-force on February 29, when a little over 1,000 cavalrymen landed on Los Negros Island, about 200 yards from the Momote airstrip. The men seized the airstrip by 0950 hours, but when returning patrols warned of a large Japanese force nearby, the Americans abandoned the strip’s southern reaches in order to tighten their perimeter.
Yankee Diddler took off from Finschhafen soon after daybreak on March 1, and was over Los Negros at 0830 with a full load of mortar shells, small arms, ammunition and blood plasma. An onsite Army controller told the pilots, Captain Bird and Lieutenant Ted Bauries, to strafe the western side of the airfield to suppress Japanese snipers before dropping the supplies. They made four strafing runs at treetop level, expending 2,000 rounds of .50-caliber ammunition and completing three dropping passes.
Yankee Diddler was back over Momote by midafternoon with a load of barbed wire, hand grenades, anti-personnel mines and more ammunition. After three drop runs, the Army controller requested that they assist a destroyer that was shelling a village to the northwest, and they made three strafing passes there before heading home.
Over the course of the day, Harry the Horse, “G.I.” Jr. and the two B-17Es from the 375th Troop Carrier Group dropped a total of 12 tons of blood plasma, weapons, ammunition and barbed wire. Captains Paul Wentz and James Sweet in “G.I.” Jr. went to the aid of a group of barges that were under fire from Japanese positions west of the airstrip, silencing the enemy guns until the barges were safely ashore. The 433rd Troop Carrier Group’s Cap’n & The Kids and 41-2432 made three drops over the Americans, then three strafing passes over the Japanese lines.
The next morning Yankee Diddler was over the airstrip at 0830 with a load of supplies, and again received orders to strafe the enemy positions. The gunners expended another 2,000 rounds in three passes, setting gasoline drums afire and suppressing the snipers.
Cap’n & The Kids was back midmorning with a cargo of ammunition and a crew of 14, including five enlisted men from the 90th Bomb Group to man guns and assist with the drops. Pilot Flight Officer Ralph Deardorff was flying at 400 feet and in radio contact with a Navy destroyer directing air operations over Los Negros when he heard urgent calls over the intercom and a clatter of gunfire from the rear of the plane. He couldn’t see it, but a Ki-61 Tony was flying parallel with them, slightly higher and coming fast. Right waist gunner Staff Sgt. Paul Martin got off a few bursts, but then his gun jammed.
The Japanese fighter overtook the B-17, rolled in to make a firing pass and dived away. A second fighter attacked from two o’clock, passing under Cap’n & The Kids without inflicting any damage. Meanwhile, Deardorff raced for the destroyers and the umbrella of gunfire they could provide.
When another Tony attacked from about three o’clock high, radioman Staff Sgt. William Mathis and top turret gunner Private Brian Marcorelle both fired at it before it turned to begin another attack from nine o’clock. Left waist gunner Tech. Sgt. Alfred Crossen reported that as the Tony “headed back toward us…I put several bursts into him in the engine and right wing, and as he came on I put more bursts in him…[and] he suddenly turned right….[H]e was smoking as he turned.” The Japanese fighter broke away about 200 yards out, and tail gunner Staff Sgt. Walter Graves squeezed off a burst as it flashed past. Deardorff said the fighter “exploded when it hit the water and a large flame and high column of smoke shot into the air, a hundred feet or so.”
Java campaign veteran “Yankee Diddler” was salvaged for parts. (Steve Fowler Collection)
Although success in the Admiralties was assured by the morning of March 4, the B-17 missions to drop supplies and strafe enemy positions continued for a couple of weeks. On March 14, Lieutenants James Bennett and Chester Brown in 41-2657 were fired on during a drop mission and collected a few holes in the right wing, but nobody was hurt. By then the missions had become milk runs.
Four B-17s took part in an extended mission on April 22 with the 317th Troop Carrier Group, which had been tasked with providing armed transports for special operations in support of the landings at Hollandia, 500 miles up the New Guinea coast. In May Cap’n & The Kids dropped 7,000 pairs of combat boots to infantrymen battling entrenched Japanese on the island of Biak, and when the 503rd Parachute Infantry jumped onto Noemfoor Island on July 3, three B-17s followed in single file close behind, dropping supplies and ammunition.
The armed transports had taken hits but suffered no losses in nearly six months of operations. That changed on May 4, when Harry the Horse was returning from a routine Hollandia mission. Running low on fuel, Lieutenant Robert Kennedy decided to make an emergency landing at the recently repaired Tadji fighter strip. As the wheels touched the runway, the right landing gear collapsed and the bomber swerved to the right, dragging the wing along the ground. Nobody was injured, but the B-17 was damaged beyond repair.
As the focus shifted toward the Philippines, the armed transports’ numbers thinned. On May 16, the 433rd Troop Carrier Group sent 41-2432 to Townsville Air Depot for repair and it never returned. The 317th shows no record of B-17s on strength after June 1944. The 375th’s 41-2662 was involved in a taxi accident in July and not returned to the group after repair. Cap’n & The Kids was transferred out of the 433rd on August 10, but its career was far from over. Renamed Miss Em’, it completed a further 160 flights as Eighth Army commander Lt. Gen. Robert L. Eichelberger’s personal transport. Squadron records indicate that both “G.I.” Jr. and 41-2657 flew through February 1945, then were transferred out the following month.
All but one of the surviving armed transports were ultimately condemned for salvage overseas. Only 41-2662 made it back to the United States, where it apparently gathered dust until it was ferried to the sprawling aircraft graveyard at Ontario, Calif., in May 1945.
Aviation historian Steve Birdsall writes from Sydney, Australia. For further reading, he suggests: Ken’s Men Against the Empire, by Lawrence J. Hickey and Claims to Fame: The B-17 Flying Fortress, by Birdsall and Roger A. Freeman.
Mad Blog Media
Beats me how I wandered off into the garment district. But here we are, so let’s just roll with it.
I was searching various hard drives for background on my soon-to-be-history Voler jersey racket. Then I was telling someone the bee-in-the-jersey story from Back in the Day®, when we lived in Crusty County and VOmax made my team garb.
Anyway, at some point in the excavation I unearthed a Bicycle Retailer column from 1999 that discussed this very kit. And as Le Tour is due to kick off next month, I thought I’d brush off the dust and cobwebs and trot it out for inspection.
Maillot Jaune vs. Yellow Jersey
— The First Draws Cheers,
Bui the Other Prompts Jeers
Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.— Mark Twain
With Marco Pantani, Jan Ullrich and Bjarne Riis skipping the Tour de France this year, look for yours truly to be wearing the yellow jersey.
OK, not the yellow jersey. But a yellow jersey.
Specifically, the new Team Mad Dog Media/Dogs at Large Velo jersey from VOmax Team Apparel. It just happens to be yellow. Bright yellow. A vitamin-C-megadose, kidney-stone, construction-vehicle kind of yellow, festooned with black and white graphics. Perfect camouflage for ambushing Californians from a meadow bright with dandelions.
“Hope ONCE doesn’t sue you,” said VOmax’s Adam Myerson.
Sadly, not everyone shares my fashion sense in this rustic backwater, where “going for a ride” typically involves a hay-burning quadruped or a rusty pickup and a sixpack of Rocky Mountain brain marinade.
Trying to outrun The Man with the Hammer.
You Look … Marvelous? I badgered a couple of friends into riding with me the other day. When I rolled into their barnyard, clad in my new finery, they commenced to hooting and clutching their sides like hillbillies suffering from a bad batch of white lightning.
Mary phoned my wife, chortling, “You let him out of the house like this?” Hal, a retro-grouch prone to the literary gesture, declined to ride anywhere in the Rocky Mountain West with me unless he could wear his woodland-camo’ jumpsuit and street-hockey helmet as a counterpoint to my flashy Lycra and visored Giro.
These, mind you, are people whose idea of fun is burro racing, a form of dementia peculiar to central Colorado that causes the victim to run marathons on mountain trails while tethered to a jackass. Doesn’t matter what you wear — people are going to shake their heads when they see a guy doing that, whether he’s wearing a T-shirt and shorts or a thong bikini and spike heels.
A Jackass of a Different Color. I tell Hal and Mary that they might find a bike ride a pleasant respite from jackass rambles now and then if they’d acquire some of the new-fangled doodads that make cycling more fun — clipless pedals and shoes designed for riding rather than running suspension forks to soften our corrugated county roads garments that wick a little better than a beach towel. But they’d rather be uncomfortable than funny-looking.
Me, I’ve been funny-looking for years, clad in unnatural-fiber garments from Rio Grande Racing Team, Sangre de Cristo Cycling Club, Rainbow Racing and Dogs at Large Velo. Each new jersey always made me feel as though I were a part of something special, somehow set apart from the other Day-Glo geeks wobbling around on two-wheelers. A racing jersey was a garment not just to be worn, but to be lived up to.
So when my sunny new DogShi(r)ts and summery weather hit the Wet Mountains more or less simultaneously, it was if a light had clicked on in a cartoon balloon over my head: “Hey, dude … if you want to look more like a banana and less like a grapefruit in that jersey, you’d better start riding your bike.”
Here Comes the Sun. First, I got a neighbor to brush-hog my rabbitbrush-clogged cyclo-cross course and started hitting it once or twice a week. Between ’crosses, I rode laps on my favorite 10-mile circuit, half pavement and half dirt, with plenty of gradual climbing. I even dusted off the road bike, which sees less daylight than Charlie Manson, and went for a few dirt-free rides to Wixson Divide and back.
It wasn’t all golden. Headwinds and hills reminded me that I’m in OK shape for a 45-year-old libelist, but entirely unfit for racing no point in shaving the legs for a couple thousand miles yet. A cattle-truck driver played mirror tag with me on a potholed, 45-mph descent to Mackenzie Junction. And a bee who thought I was his mama dove inside my brand-new jersey on a shoulderless plummet down Highway 96, causing me to fishtail to a halt on the gravel shoulder and start peeling like a stripper on speed.
Still, there have been moments. The other day, while I was doing some artless laps on my ’cross course, a passing sport-utility vehicle slowed, then stopped whoever was inside stayed to watch for a couple go-rounds.
I’ll never race the Tour. But for a few minutes there on a summer’s day, I was in the yellow jersey, people were watching, and no one was laughing.
Masque of the Red … Revolution?
I’ve been wondering when someone in the mainstream media would write something about the potential for increasing union membership and labor strength in the Year(s) of the Plague.
Here’s a start. It’s short, focused largely on the so-called “gig economy,” and written before a Washington Post-Ipsos poll that indicates some laid-off and furloughed workers may be overly optimistic about whether they will be able to return to their old jobs.
How does an activist pitch a union to a worker with no job? Is a patchwork of small, decentralized, tightly focused labor organizations preferable to One Big Union? Are people ready to rethink their notions of who is an “essential” worker? Will stock clerks trump stockholders?
Nick French at Jacobin gives us a look at the protests that arose shortly after the Great Depression took hold. He argues that radical groups, among them the Thirties-vintage Communist Party, forged a bond of solidarity between the jobless and those still working that helped make FDR’s New Deal possible.
The conditions are different today, he concedes. But the public-health issue may give workers more leverage this time around. Writes French:
By forcing sick people to come to work, or by unnecessarily exposing people to coworkers or customers who might be infected, employers are hastening the spread of the coronavirus and putting everyone at risk. This means that all workers, employed or unemployed, have a common interest in these workers winning their demands.
Boy howdy. Dead broke is bad enough. I hear dead is worse.
• Addendum: As white-collar types join workers from the restaurant, travel, hospitality, and retail industries on the sidelines, experts say there’s no way to calculate how many jobs might come back as states consider lifting shelter-in-place rules. according to The New York Times.
Many businesses, particularly small ones, may not survive, while others are likely to operate with reduced hours and staff. The job search site Indeed reports that postings are down nearly 40 percent from a year ago.
“We don’t know what normal is going to look like,” said Martha Gimbel, an economist and a labor market expert at Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative.
• Addendum the Second: How should unions organize? From The Nation.
• Addendum the Third: Comrades, identities, and attachments. Also from The Nation.
‘The awful waste and destruction of war’
“That’s All, Brother,” a restored C-47 that flew on D-Day. Read more about the project here.
In case the spectacle of a belligerent chickenshit with a three-word vocabulary representing the United States at the annual remembrance of the Normandy invasion just doesn’t do it for you, here are a few alternatives for your own personal observance of D-Day:
• The Poetry Foundation has compiled a selection of poems from and about World War II.
• HBO is airing “The Cold Blue,” a documentary about the men of the Eighth Air Force, featuring freshly restored footage by Oscar-winning director William Wyler and a score by Richard Thompson.
• The New York Times gives us a remembrance of Ernie Pyle, the correspondent who brought the war home, until it finally took him.
• The New Yorker reprints a three-part piece on Normandy by its own war scribe, A.J. Liebling.
• And finally, 1st Lt. Harold J. O’Grady‘s war was elsewhere, but you can read about the biscuit bombers of New Guinea in “Back Load,” a history of the 433rd Troop Carrier Group.
The day after
Chicken cacciatore as envisioned by Emeril Lagasse, a gent of Canuck-Portagee extraction but a Cajun by temperament.
As is often the case, Turkey Day was not turkey day at El Rancho Pendejo.
Longtime inmates of the asylum will recall that we generally cook something other than the usual on Thanksgiving, and yesterday was no exception.
I went with a pairing from our greatest hits — chicken cacciatore a la Emeril and a side of stir-fried succotash with edamame from Martha Rose Shulman — while Herself contributed a delicious apple crisp from Diane Kester via Allrecipes using local apples supplied by a colleague.
As I rooted through Thanksgivings past it struck me that this iteration of the Dog Blog recently reached its 10-year anniversary. As hard as it may be to believe, it was in 2008 that we shifted over from the old self-hosted WordPress model so that all y’all could contribute comments, and those comments have been part of what makes the place hop.
Anyway, while I was zipping around and about in the Wayback Machine, and just ’cause I could, I snatched up 10 years’ worth of Thanksgiving posts for your amusement, a little waddle down the Memory Lane Buffet. Grab a tray, click the link, and help yourselves.
From “Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War,” by Che Guevara.
Say what you will about the man who tugged Uncle Sam’s beard through 11 U.S. presidencies — I’ll always remember him for his snarky offer to send observers to help oversee the recount of Bush v. Gore in Florida.
Revolutions are iffy things they don’t always turn out as planned, as we have seen elsewhere. It’s not the initial cost, it’s the upkeep.
P’raps they should come with a warning label: “Be careful what you wish for. You might get it.”
Like, wow. Like, bow wow, man.
In 1973 I was a 19-year-old college dropout with a part-time job and no car, riding a bicycle everywhere.
But I went back to school, got that diploma, and today I’m a 61-year-old man with three part-time jobs and no car, riding a bicycle everywhere.
Col. Harold Joseph O’Grady, USAF
I wonder what my old man would think about today’s United States of America, the descendant of the country he fought for in World War II. Would he even recognize the place?
Harold Joseph O’Grady was born in 1918, at the end of World War I — “The War to End All Wars” — so, having found himself suiting up for another one just a quarter century later, he might not be surprised to find the nation still embroiled in its longest war ever, in Afghanistan.
The nation asked a lot of the old man back when he was still a young fella — 668 hours of combat time, flying out of New Guinea with the 65th Squadron, 433rd Troop Carrier Group — but it paid him back, too, with a 30-year gig, a generous pension and free health care.
As a career Air Force officer with a reputation for caring about and giving credit to his subordinates, he would’ve been seriously pissed that so many of today’s troops can’t make ends meet on what Uncle Sammy pays, that the VA has been jerking his people around, cooking the books to make paper-shufflers look good and veterans look dead, and that Congress only takes notice when the cameras (and the cash) are rolling.
As a conservative Southerner, he would’ve been appalled that there is so little attention devoted to actual conservation — not of the constitutional rights to shoot off your mouth or your machine gun, but of the basics — life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, along with optional upgrades like serviceable roads and bridges, functional public schools, and a government that wouldn’t embarrass Albania.
As a guy with a sense of humor he might have asked, “Why did we fight a world war to save this country so you could treat it like a rental car?”
Shit, dude, we still can’t believe you gave us the keys.
Time Machine Tuesday
Over at Teh Twitters yesterday a gent praised a non-rant I’d written way back in 2002, saying it was one of his “all-time favorites.”
I had forgotten about it — these things vanish from my consciousness about a nanosecond after I hit the “Send” button — so I looked it up, and y’know, I kinda liked it myself. Even an old blind dog finds a tasty Milk-Bone now and then, it seems.
Written when we still lived in Weirdcliffe, it was prompted by a reader’s complaint (one of many, actually) that my stuff was too negative, which it can be. That my VeloNews.com column was christened “Friday’s Foaming Rant” didn’t help. A label like that tends to set a certain tone, and when I wandered off the Rantinista reservation other critics would jeer, “Call that a rant?” You can’t win.
But if two of us liked it, it must not be entirely lame, so here it is, reprinted in all its faded glory for your entertainment.
The flier for the 2000 Mad Dog Cyclo-cross in Bear Creek Regional Park.
Bibleburg has never been a hotbed of cyclo-cross. Oh, sure, nationals was held here once, back in 1980, and shortly after I returned to town from New Mexico in 1991 we got a small local scene rolling, mostly because driving to the Denver-Boulder clusterplex was something of a pain in the ass come wintertime. Or any other time, come to think of it.
Also, the U.S. Cycling Federation required a racing club to promote at least one event per annum, and back in the day there was nothing easier to run than a ’cross. Find yourself a venue, mark it casually with some red and blue flags, install a few homemade wooden barriers to force the roadies off their bikes, and by golly you had yourself a race course.
So we put on a couple races per year, in Palmer Park or Monument Valley Park — host to that long-ago national championships — until some turd in the city government who lived nearby took an infarction about people racing bicycles in “his” park. That we were donating the proceeds from our events to park maintenance was immaterial. Sorry ’bout that, said the parks people, but we have to deal with this asshole all the time you we only have to see a couple times a year.
Thus we shifted operations to the county parks system, putting on races in Bear Creek Regional Park — where, as a precaution, Team Mad Dog Media-Dogs At Large Velo formally adopted the section of trail that included our course — and in Black Forest Regional Park.
Your Humble Narrator on the job during a rare soft day at the Bear Creek Cyclo-cross. As you can see, I am a veritable blur of activity.
Ours were fast, simple courses, suited to beginners and roadies in need of an early season refresher, in part because the county was not interested in our veering off established trail, and in part because we were not exactly the most vigorous of race promoters.
In fact, we were about as lazy a crop of bastards as ever marked a course. Our northern counterparts, among them Chris Grealish, Lee Waldman and John Vickers, were more imaginative when it came to locating new venues, negotiating with their overseers, and designing interesting circuits.
At our peak, we were getting just over 200 riders per event, which wasn’t bad for being outside the Boulder-Denver velo-ghetto, whose more sensitive communards either feared getting born-agained or libertarded if they dared cross the Palmer Divide or didn’t like driving south any better than we liked driving north. We also were working with our northern cousins on a statewide series that included events from Pueblo to Fort Collins.
Eventually, inevitably, we Dogs flamed out. I peaked as a ’cross racer in 1999, and shortly thereafter started dialing it back by then, Herself and I were living on a rocky hillside outside Weirdcliffe, and Bibleburg was a 90-minute drive in good weather. The last Mad Dog ’cross at Bear Creek may have been in 2000, though I still raced occasionally until 2004, when I finally gave it up for good.
Another club picked up where we left off, drawing OK numbers and getting progressively more creative with its courses, including one last year up near the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs that I heard good things about. Alas, they, too, seem to have flamed out for now — for one reason or another, there seems to be nary a cyclo-cross in Bibleburg this season.
It’s a pity, really. ’Cross has been the biggest thing in bike racing for quite a while now, and last weekend’s Cyclo X-Xilinx in Longmont drew more than 650 racers, a number unheard of in my day. Surely we could get half that down here despite the Lambornagains and various other socio-political impediments. Tap a medical marijuana company for sponsorship, donate the proceeds to the Society for the Preservation of Steel Bicycles and Cantilever Brakes.
Beautiful WWII USAAF Unit History of the 433rd Troop Carrier Grp, 5th AF. Printed in Australia, 1945
ARTIFACT: Beautiful WWII United States Army Air Forces Unit History of the 433rd Troop Carrier Group, 5th Air Force. The unit history contains nearly 250 pages and was printed in Australia in 1945 to include stories, photographs, color images of the squadron and group patches and a full roster in the back. The 433rd was the largest Troop Carrier Group and was under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Guile. The missions and role of the Troop Carrier was an integral part of the Army Air Force throughout WWII. Troop Carriers delivered airborne troops and paratroopers to following area invasions or the troops were delivered in advance of an invasion. The 433rd Troop Carrier Group provided reinforcements, ammunition or engineering equipment, evacuated the wounded, and carried out air reconnaissance missions. It was awarded the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation for its role in the liberation of the Philippines during 1944-1945.
SIZE: Approximately 9-7/8" x 7-3/8"
MATERIALS / CONSTRUCTION: Hardcover, sewn/glued binding, magazine print pages, ink
ATTACHMENT: Sewn and glued binding.
MARKINGS: "SET UP, PRINTED AND BOUND IN AUSTRALIA BY HALSTEAD PRESS PTY LTD, 9-19 NICKSON STREET, SYDNEY 1945"
ITEM NOTES: This is from a USAAF collection which we will be listing more of over the next few months. MAJJX16 LCDEX3/16
CONDITION: 8- (Very Fine—Excellent): The unit history shows minor to moderate storage/age wear mostly to the edges, , the binding is slightly loosened with time, but remains intact along with all of the pages, overall very fine condition.
GUARANTEE: As with all my artifacts, this piece is guaranteed to be original, as described.
‘You Are Not Forgotten’: A Brief History of POW/MIA Recognition Day and Its Flag
Lieutenant Commander Michael G. Hoff was a pilot in the U.S. Navy. On Jan. 7, 1970, in the midst of the Vietnam War, he was on a reconnaissance mission over Laos. A fire warning light illuminated in the Sidewinder A7A Corsair aircraft he was piloting, and he radioed that he would have to bail out.
Other pilots saw his aircraft go down and explode upon impact with the ground one pilot saw a flash that was initially thought to be the ejection seat exiting the aircraft. Under heavy enemy fire, two aircraft performed low passes over the impact site to look for a parachute or survivor — they were unsuccessful.
Throughout the history of warfare, many people have died in service to our country and many have returned home safely. But there is also a growing number of unaccounted for service members who were taken as prisoners of war (POWs) or simply declared missing in action (MIA). According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, the number of missing or unaccounted for Americans from all conflicts since World War II stands at 81,000.
After receiving the news that her husband was MIA in Laos, Mary Helen Hoff joined the National League of POW/MIA Families , which had been incorporated in Washington just a few months prior.
“I once asked in Washington, ‘What do I bury?’” Hoff said to the Florida Times-Union in 2009. “And they said, ‘Well, we’ll give you all the artifacts from the aircraft.’”
During this time she recognized the need for a symbol for those taken prisoner of war (POW) and MIA, so she contacted a flag production agency, Annin & Company, who created flags for all current members of the United Nations. They had recently completed one for The People’s Republic of China.
“I said ‘I don’t want a lot of colors,’” Hoff explained. “I had seen a picture of one of those POWs, wearing black-and-white pajamas. And because of that, I said, ‘We need a stark black-and-white flag.’”
Norman Rivkees, the vice president of the agency, was sympathetic to Hoff’s cause. He put their small advertising department, Hayden Advertising, on the job, where it was tasked to graphic artist Newton F. Heisley. Heisley, who died in 2009, had served in World War II as a C-46 twin-engine transport pilot with the 433rd Troop Carrier Group. After coming home from the war with a Bronze Star, he received a degree in Fine Arts from Syracuse University and worked as a graphic artist at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette before going to work for Hayden.
After receiving the assignment for the POW/MIA flag, Heisley sketched three different designs. The one he chose featured an image of a gaunt man in profile with a guard tower and a strand of barbed wire in the background, the words “You are not forgotten” across the bottom — the flag we recognize today.
Heisley modeled the flag’s silhouette after his 24-year-old son, who was on leave from the U.S. Marines and looking gaunt while recovering from hepatitis. Heisley also penned the words that are stitched on the banner: “You are not forgotten.”
The National League of POW/MIA Families made a conscious decision to not place any intellectual property protection around the design, allowing it to have widespread use.
Nearly a decade later — and now 40 years ago — U.S. Congress passed a resolution authorizing a National POW/MIA Recognition Day. Though originally observed on July 18, 1979, it requires a signed proclamation by the President of the United States to be observed each year. Because of this, National POW/MIA Recognition Day has had five different dates. Starting in 1986, however, it has been regularly and nationally observed on the third Friday in September. The POW/MIA flag is an important part of that observance, as well as a daily reminder of those who never made it home.
In 1998, the 105th Congress, as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, required that the POW/MIA flag fly six days every year at the White House the U.S. Capitol the departments of State, Defense, and Veteran Affairs the headquarters of the Selective Service System at all major military installations as designated by the Secretary of Defense all federal cemeteries and all offices of the U.S. Postal Service. The six days on which the flag is required to be flown on are Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, National POW/MIA Day, and Veterans Day. The flag flies daily at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, and the World War II Memorial.
On March 9, 1989, a POW/MIA flag was installed in the U.S. Capitol rotunda. It is the only flag to ever be displayed there, where it serves as a staunch reminder of the sacrifice and commitment of the men and women who serve in the United States military.
While the POW/MIA flag was originally created to honor those lost or captured during the Vietnam War, it has since come to represent every conflict in which the United States has been involved. On Aug. 10, 1990, the 101st Congress passed a law recognizing the League’s POW/MIA flag and designated it “the symbol of our Nation’s concern and commitment to resolving as fully as possible the fates of Americans still prisoner, missing, and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, thus ending the uncertainty for their families and the Nation.”
Twenty-three years after Commander Hoff’s aircraft went down in Laos, Mary Helen Hoff received a letter from the Navy stating that based on interviews with Laotian villagers in the area, her husband did not survive the crash. His body was never recovered.
In a conversation with Cindy Cheatwood , Mary reflected on what was lost and what was unknown, but still had a message for today’s generation of warfighters and those back home supporting from the sidelines: “ I just hope that young people will notice it and learn about it. It’s up to our schools to make this possible, and that’s why I feel like it needs to be told. You know, we all have heroes — young people need them more than we do.”
Eldridge S. Edens
Born 1914, Tennessee
Missing in action since 5 February 1945 at sea, 5 to 8 miles SE of Owi Island
Memorialized at Manila American Cemetery. He also has a memorial stone in Happy Valley Memorial Park, Elizabethton, TN.
68th Squadron, 433rd Troop Carrier Group
Son of Eugene Jean Hunter Edens and Ruby Laura Mottern
Private Eldridge Edens was a passenger on aircraft UC-64A, serialnumber 43-5176, nickname ‘Spook, Jr.’ They departed from Mokmer strip, Biak at 1330 on 5 February 1945 on a Cargo mission to Owi Island.
The aircraft failing to return in reasonable time, the Operations Officer instituded an immediate search. It was reported about 1630 that an L-52 aircraft had crashed South East of Owi Island. The entire area was then searched by two C-46’s XA329 and XA344n and by an L-5 until 2000. No life or wreckage were sighted. Near the end of the search it was reported that a U.S. Navy crash boat, called ‘Fifi’, had retrieved wreckage of an aircraft from a point approximately six miles South East of Owi Island. Investigation failed to locate crash boat or witnesses at that time.
Further search was conducted on the morning of 6 February 1945 by Major Callahan and Captain Scott, 433rd Troop Carrier Group Operations, and by Lt Shaw. Lt Rogers, Lt Ross, W/O Greene and Sgt Scavone from 68th Troop Carrier Squadron Operations, Executive and Engineering departments. The wreckage was located, investigated and returned to Home Base at Biak.
During this time two wing sections were sighted one mile off Sorido strip, Biak. These wing sections, which were retrieved by 4th Air Sea Rescue, did not turn out to be those of the UC-64 in question. Testimony has been obtained from Lt Robert E. Bullis, 58th Troop Carrier Squadron, 375th Troop Carrier Group, who at 1400 5 February 1945 observed the UC-64 in a spin at four thousand feet and from Lt John J. Parkovic, 8th Combat Cargo Squadron, 2nd Combat Cargo Group, who circled the location of the aircraft after it had crashed.
Testimony of 1st Lt John J. Perkovic, Pilot:
C-46, XA697, of which I was pilot, took off from Owi Island 1400 in glider tow mission. At an approximate altitude of 500 feet, the crew chief saw an airplane go into a spin from an altitude of about 4000 feet. We circled the area in which we believed this plane fell, 5 to 8 miles SE of Owi Island, and saw from an altitude of about 100 feet, wreckage follows: a strip of oil slick 2 or 3 hundred yards long, the center section of the airplane, a yellow fueld tank way off to one side, and small pieces of debris floating in the vicinity.
Pilot, 1st Lt Raymond A. Priebe
Co-Pilot 2nd Lt Jimmie L. Riche
Passengers Pvt Alan L. Bagby and Pvt Eldridge S. Edens