Donut Dollies, Precursors to Special Services and MWR (Morale Welfare and Recreation)

When I first became the Ft Myer Librarian in the mid-1980s, I met many of my predecessors at various Special Library Association meetings in the DC area. They told me about life in the olden days when a library technician in a Special Services uniform would drive a bookmobile out to various Nike missile sites in the DC area. One such employee had begun her life as a Donut Dolly during WWII.

In the wake of the initial Normandy landings on D-Day, a strange vehicle hit the beaches: converted London buses driven by three female volunteers from the Red Cross. Their mission was to bring a taste of home to the soldiers fighting World War II. Their weapon of choice was the doughnut.

While their early food truck might have been a new contraption — 100 GMC trucks dubbed “Clubmobiles” were created for the D-Day invasion — the baked goods they were bringing to Hitler’s Fortress Europe was not. This was their second world war, too.

Click here to read more.

By the time the United States entered the Vietnam War in force, the female volunteers of the Supplemental Recreational Activities Overseas were there, too, and their old nickname came with them. GIs in Vietnam also knew them as the “Doughnut Dollies.”

They weren’t limited to clubs, mess halls or hospitals. The Doughnut Dollies of Vietnam could be found on Hueys or alongside tanks headed into the bush. They were also there when some units came back with fewer men than had left.

“VIETNAM Magazine February 2011 – The Donut Dollies Are Here!” by manhhai is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Statues from the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia

June 6 is the 77th anniversary of the D-Day invasion in Normandy. Bedford, Virginia

The decisive World War II invasion took a horrific toll on Bedford, a town of about 4,000 at the time. Its D-Day losses were among the steepest, proportionally, of any community in America.

Statistics from the Museums’s webpage.

GEN Dwight D. (Ike) Eisenhower was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces (SCAEF) for Operation ‘Overlord’.

Replica of the SHAPE Patch

Statue of a soldier wading ashore at Normandy

Soldiers attempting to scale the cliffs above the beach at Normandy

No Man Left Behind

My Last Night Aboard Midway

by Charles Paige, used with his permission. Charles is author of Petty Officer and a Swabbie. He served as RM3 (Radioman, 3rd class) about the USS Midway (CV-41) 1969-1972

My story is not one of combat and harrowing experiences against shot and shell. Mine is about life in the Navy circa 1968-72, on bases and onboard ship, and about interactions between the Navy and a civilian population not too happy we are involved in Vietnam. It is also about travels and experiences in exotic countries, as a young man not an officer and a gentleman but a petty officer and a swabbie is introduced to a sometimes belligerent but always fascinating world.

From his webpage:

He wrote this essay 30-31 May 2021.

It was September 13, 1972, and the last night I was to spend aboard the Midway. This is a
tale about that night; fictional as to timelines and what I may have been actually thinking
that last night, but non-fictional as to all the circumstances, events and significances. In
this version of that night, let’s say gifted to me by my more circumspect doppelganger
from a parallel universe, I am lying in my bunk, the lowest of three bunks and very close
to the deck. I’ve just finished reading a letter from my father stating he has received the
heavy load of stereophonic equipment I’ve had sent to his farm address from the Navy
Exchange in Yokosuka, Japan. Apparently I hadn’t informed him in advance, so all that
equipment suddenly showing up at his doorstep had thrown him for a loop.

It’d been a very busy day, but then again, which HADN’T been a busy day? I was bone tired but my brain was ablaze with thoughts of tomorrow and leaving the ship, perhaps for the last time ever. Also keeping my mind buzzing was a body full of coffee—how many cups I had drunk during watch only God knew, but I swear it was enough to make my blood one-quarter caffeinated. Still more keeping me awake was a throbbing left
thumb that had been crushed not long ago. I had been standing in the doorway between Faccon and Cryptographic talking to a group of guys, with my left hand propped against the door sill. Suddenly, for some reason the spring-loaded door closed, with my thumb crushed at the door’s fulcrum. Chief Wilson said I would probably lose the nail, which
had slowly turned red and then black.

Now that I was through with the letter, I no longer needed the reading light above my
head so turned it off. This was one of those infrequent occasions when it was night
outside the ship and I was able to sleep after Lights Out was announced inside. The
compartment was barely lit. There wasn’t much happening in the compartment’s small
entertainment area holding tables, chairs and the TV, so little noise came from there, and
I registered little activity in the rest of the compartment. That meant there was no need to
close the privacy curtains provided for each bunk. The reason for the quiet was obvious.
Everybody that could be on liberty was either spending it on base or in the nearby town
we called Olongapo City—what the locals called City of Olongapo.

It was Wednesday night and tomorrow…. Well, tomorrow….

Four years ago I had volunteered to be ripped from a different universe—one I had
known all my life. At that time ANOTHER tomorrow had come. And with it came my
mental and physical introduction into this other, then foreign universe. From the
beginning one explosion of events followed another followed another, and it was truly a
sink or swim situation. My neurons had no choice but to multiply and body to strengthen
to accommodate all the explosions, exposures and rigors. But I was one of the lucky ones
who learned to roll and thrive in the midst of sometimes controlled chaos and within
military structures and stricture.

Tomorrow I would be leaving behind a ship I had been virtually lashed to for three years.
I had seen it lie naked and prostrate at the hands of civilians. I had hobnobbed with its
prospective captain. I had seen its crew arrive, bringing with them the ship’s life blood. I
had seen it reborn. My Navy rank had increased as the ship’s readiness had grown, and in
so many ways we had evolved together.It had been a very busy day, but then again, what day HADN’T been?

The fact that tomorrow I’d be leaving the ship also helped animate my thinking. There was so much significance surrounding the event. Soon I would be leaving the military universe forever
and returning to one I thought—hoped—would be the same as the one in which I was raised. Dad expressed his happiness that he’d soon be seeing his civilian son back in the fold where I belonged. I knew my mother felt similarly. Yet my mind wasn’t so sure I’d be staying in that ‘fold’ very long. I could not see myself moving back from a California world of unlimited, macrocosmic experiences and opportunities, to Michigan and the conformity/uniformity required by community and family. Echoing through my mind were words from the prophetic WW I song “How ya gonna keep ‘em down on the farm, after they’ve seen Paree.”

Yes, I would be returning to that universe, in whatever its current form, but that meant I
was also leaving this universe that I had been forged into being part of. I had been pulled
and stretched, pounded and flattened, puffed up and popped. I had earned the right to be
what I had become, and I had a huge amount of professional pride for what had been
accomplished during the past years.

Recently I had gotten Outstanding at a flight deck inspection by Flag, AKA
COMCARDIVONE, Rear Admiral Butts. It was my third flight deck inspection while
onboard and had gotten Outstanding on the first two. The captain promised that anyone
who got three Outstandings at such inspections would never have to stand another. This
time RAdm Butts stood before me and said “Old Shoes,” at which his attendant marked
something in the muster ledger as Flag moved to the next in ranks. I was mortified. I had
been so careful to spit-polish my shoes and ensure my silk, black neckerchief was rolled
and tied just so, my uniform wrinkle and lint free, my undershirt, hat and piping sparkling
white, and everything aligned correctly. But I had been hit with “Old Shoes.” Crestfallen,
I returned to my compartment to change back into working dungarees. One of the first
class petty officers overheard me lament and then laughingly explained “that means Out
Standing.” As relieved and good as that news made me feel, I also realized the irony of it
all. I would never have to stand another such inspection again because I soon would be

Oh my God! Leaving the ship! Leaving my home of three years. Leaving all those guys I
had worked with, sweated with, and had fun with. We had seen each other through trying
times as we and the ship were put through the paces. There were never any times or
opportunities to put on the brakes and say “whoa, that’s enough!” I was sad when the few
who did buckle under the strain were gone—to fates unknown to the rest of us. Those
who started to buckle but could be buttressed until brought up to speed were carried by
the rest of us guys working together.

I always hated seeing guys leave us, for whatever reason. Usually it was because their
time in the Navy was up, or their time on the ship was up, sending them off to a different
command. And some left for humanitarian reasons, like one of our Faccon members
whose father was killed back home during a robbery at his business. Only one shipmate I
knew had left by dying. It occurred between when the ship returned from its 1971
Westpac cruise and the start of its 1972 cruise. That fellow was Sloan—someone I had
met during our BE/E “P” School days in early 1969. He recently had been assigned to the
ship, and I ran into him as he was buying a soft drink from an onboard vending machine.
Not long after our reunion Sloan fell to his death while unsuccessfully attempting to
climb around a barricade blocking a closed gangway while the ship was in dry dock. His
shocking death was heartbreaking enough, but because he came aboard between the two
Westpac cruises, his name was not included on either cruise book’s IN MEMORIAM
page—as though he had never been aboard.

Tomorrow I would be the one leaving—leaving behind the unceasing turmoil and
managed chaos at work, the engrained camaraderie of a well-grooved, tight-knit group,
the memorized maze enclosed by the protective and far-ranging ship’s hull, and the
profession that I had gotten so used to and good at.

My Navy career flashed before my eyes as though I were dying, but sleep finally came—
fitfully. Soon I would be dying and reborn, metaphorically. Before me was a future filled
with uncertainty mixed with possibility. I would be leaving a military that had gotten in
bad odor with much of the American public, and my service likely would be
unappreciated, even scorned, by many. Yet I was still young and full of hope. Then I
awoke and it was tomorrow.

From Janine Strange: Mission 53: Card for WWII Veteran’s 100th Birthday

Happy 100th Birthday, DT! DT Measells has a BIG birthday coming up … and YOU are invited to send him a card!  His family is having a party for him on June 26th, and they will give him all the cards on that day. You’ve got about a month to work on this one!  About DT: DT grew up on a farm outside Jackson, MS. During WWII he was a fighter pilot and flew over 50 missions in Japan.  After the war, he came back to MS, married his beautiful wife of almost 70 years, Imo. Imo turned 95 in February and they still live on their own in Jackson Mississippi. after the war DT spent the next 40 years has a teacher, with the last 20 years as the principal at Wingfield HS in Jackson.  Please send your cards by June 20th.  Just like all missions, don’t keep this to yourself!! Know of students, friends, family, neighbors, co-workers who you think would like to participate? Share away! Let’s flood his day with gratitude and love and make this his best year yet! 🇺🇸🎁 MAIL TO:  DT Measells, c/o John McCarren 5410 Sandell Court Dunwoody, GA, 30338

Decoration Day (Predecessor to Memorial Day)

Emily pins a snowball flower on the uniform of her grandfather, a Battle of Gettysburg veteran, on Decoration Day (circa 1912) before he and some other veterans go to visit the Deep Valley schools to tell the story of the Battle of Gettysburg.

The sun was higher now, glittering on the trees with their small new leaves, on the dewy grass. Emily, too, circled the bush, inspecting the luscious white clumps. “Snowball is too cold a name for them,” she said.

Selecting the finest, she cut it carefully. He looked stern again while she pinned it on his chest. “Now! You look very nice!”

“I’ll go to the gate and wait for the auto.”

“Tell them about Gettysburg in your very best style.”

“By Jingo, I will!” he answered happily.

Lovelace, Maud Hart. Emily of Deep Valley . William Morrow Paperbacks. Kindle Edition.

Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.-VA Memorial History Day.

More from Deep Valley–the Decoration Day parade.

A tremendous emotional roar of welcome almost drowned out the sprightly tune.

For the “old soldiers” were coming, Deep Valley’s survivors of the now historic Civil War, six old men in blue uniforms with badges and bulging snowball clumps.

They were marching in pairs. They didn’t keep time very well. One walked with a cane. But they all held themselves with military stiffness. No beard equaled Judge Hodges’ beard. There were flourishing mustaches, though, and a goatee, and old Cap’ Klein’s chin whiskers. Cyrus Webster was clean shaven but his heavy eyebrows bristled with martial grimness.

Yes, Emily thought, they got feebler and fewer. And so did the old ladies of the Women’s Relief Corps who were passing now in another automobile, brave in their new bonnets. Her grandmother used to ride with them! She was gone now. And the white horse of memory was replaced by an automobile. Yet Decoration Day was always the same.

Lovelace, Maud Hart. Emily of Deep Valley . William Morrow Paperbacks. Kindle Edition.

Today, cities in the North and the South claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1866. Both Macon and Columbus, Ga., claim the title, as well as Richmond, Va. The village of Boalsburg, Pa., claims it began there two years earlier. A stone in a Carbondale, Ill., cemetery carries the statement that the first Decoration Day ceremony took place there on April 29, 1866. Carbondale was the wartime home of Gen. Logan. Approximately 25 places have been named in connection with the origin of Memorial Day, many of them in the South where most of the war dead were buried.

Official Birthplace Declared In 1966, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y., the “birthplace” of Memorial Day. There, a ceremony on May 5, 1866, honored local veterans who had fought in the Civil War. Businesses closed and residents flew flags at half-staff. Supporters of Waterloo’s claim say earlier observances in other places were either informal, not community-wide or one-time events.

By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation. State legislatures passed proclamations designating the day, and the Army and Navy adopted regulations for proper observance at their facilities.

It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May, as were some other federal holidays.

Happy Memorial Day/Happy Decoration Day

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier–Not Quite a Century Old

I ran the library at Ft Myer, home of the Old Guard, 3rd US Infantry for over a decade. Many of those soldiers were library patrons so for me their stories are extended family lore. In honor of Memorial Day, some news outlets talked about the Honor Guard who have guarded the Tomb of the Unknowns. They say that the Tomb is now 100 years old. Not quite!

On Veterans Day, 1921, President Warren G. Harding presided over an interment ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery for an unknown soldier who died during World War I. Since then, three more soldiers have been added to the Tomb of the Unknowns (also known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier) memorial—and one has been disinterred. Below, a few things you might not know about the historic site and the rituals that surround it. For this and other facts about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, click here.

I left Ft Myer in 1997, when I thought that all of the Tomb Guard were still men. I was pleasantly surprised yesterday to learn that there are also female guard now.

How many Sentinels have been female?

There have been over 680 tomb guards awarded the badge since 1958 when we started counting. There are hundreds more from the year 1926 when the Army started guarding the Tomb. The 3rd US Infantry (The Old Guard) is the unit that has been given the duty of guarding the Tomb. It was given this sacred duty in 1948. The Old Guard was — and still is — considered a combat unit. As an Infantry unit, females were not permitted in the ranks for many years. It wasn’t until 1994 that females were permitted to volunteer to become a Sentinel when the 289th Military Police Company was attached to the Old Guard. The MP branch is a combat support unit and includes females.

In 1996, SGT Heather Johnson became the first female to earn the Tomb Guard Identification Badge. She volunteered for duty in June 1995 and earned her badge in 1996. However, SGT Johnson was not the only female Sentinel. Since then, there have been a total of five female Sentinels awarded the Tomb Guard Identification Badge:

SGT Danyell Wilson earned her badge in 1997
SSG Tonya Bell received hers in 1998
SGT Ruth Hanks earned her badge in June 2015
SFC Chelsea Porterfield earned her badge in 2021

Several other units have since been attached to the Old Guard — food service, transportation, medics, etc. — so now females have an ever greater opportunity to become a Sentinel. Females must meet the same requirements as the male soldiers to be eligible to volunteer at the Tomb. the only difference is that females have a minimum height of 5’8″ — which is the same standard to be a member of the Old Guard.

Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown

To the Men Who Fly

Reprinted with permission from the Scuttlebutt, Volume 6, Number 10, 20 May 2021, Carl Snow, Editor

To the Men Who Fly

Ralph G. Fallert was a WWII Navy Seabee. We presented his poem titled Scuttlebutt in our 16 July 2020 issue. The following verse was written overseas during World War II, while he was with the Seabees, briefly on American Samoa and then for a longer time on Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides. Following Espiritu came a period of about a year back in the States, then transfer to Armed Forces Radio Service and again assignment overseas—this time on Iwo Jima.

A graduate of Duquesne University and native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Mr. Fallert spent 40 more years in broadcasting, including 18 years as an announcer on radio and 19 years on TV stations in Pittsburgh. We’re presenting another piece—one of the few serious ones he wrote during his active-duty service, To the Men Who Fly. His daughter, Christine Fallert Kessides, has consented to let us reproduce his poem.

Dedicated to the Airmen of World War II

You who tread the Milky Way
And traffic with the stars
Have wrought a bitter beauty
In the cruel face of Mars.

You loose the pennants of the soul
Against the wind and sky,
And live the ancient dream of all
Who ever yearned to fly.

You know the feel of freedom
We covet in the birds –
Like thought released forever
From the fettering of words.

You wheel about the courtyards
Of castles in the air,
From whose great cloudy battlements
The earth seems twice as fair.

You soar into the sunset,
Are one with the stars at night,
And we stare unbelieving
At the miracle of flight.

From trammeling of earth you soar
To the purity of space
Where the soul drinks in a freshness
Like a breeze upon the face.

You bear aloft a thousand hearts
As singers do with songs,
And make it seem that far from earth
Is where the heart belongs.

But not for now the beauty,
Not for now the joy,
For now your skills are focused
To punish and destroy.

But soon we pray is coming
The peace for which we thirst,
And of those who’ve earned its blessings
You stand among the first!

Copyright 1989 by Ralph G. Fallert (b. 1914 d. 2002.) By permission of Christine Fallert Kessides.

“World War II in full force” by Lauri Väin is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Reblog: Mission 62–Cards for our Elderly Veterans

From Janine Strange:

Earlier this week Claude Schmid, founder of Veteran’s Last Patrol reached out to me.  As many of you know their mission is to serve veterans by bringing new friendships, honor ceremonies, & emergency assistance while in hospice care.

Claude said that they are now averaging a veteran’s honor ceremony a week all over the country.  He said he would like to give a bunch of thank you cards to each veteran being honored. 

Here’s your mission!  Write out generic thank you cards to veterans and send them to Veteran’s Last Patrol. They will make bundles from the cards they receive and present them to our veterans. 

Use whatever you’d like:  thank you cards, scenic cards, postcards … or better yet… MAKE cards and write notes of gratitude. Keep in mind these are for are for elderly and/or ailing veterans.  Dear Veteran, Dear Hero as your salutation will work.  Have children, students, young artists?? 🎨 Get them involved!  Our veterans would love bright patriotic pictures, military branch logos, whatever they are inspired to create!  Do you manage a group of people at your company?  This is a meaningful office project too!

If you’re sending more than one card (which is encouraged) no need to send each one individually – send them all in one envelope/package.

Send them to: 

Veteran’s Last Patrol

140B Venture Blvd

Spartanburg, SC, 29306

ATTN: Honor Ceremony Cards

This is an evergreen mission. So send a bunch as soon as you can, but feel free to continue this project on your own and / or involve more people.

Watch this video to learn more about these honor ceremonies, and learn how you can help / participate if one is near you.

Veterans History Project Spotlights Military Mothers with May Panel Discussion

From the Library of Congress:

Mothers have volunteered to serve in the military since the Revolutionary War, where they held traditional roles as nurses, seamstresses or cooks and, since 2015, in designated frontline combat roles. On Thursday, May 6 at 12 p.m. EST, the Library of Congress Veterans History Project (VHP) invites the public to a virtual panel titled “Motherhood and the Military” through the VHP Facebook page. The panelists and moderator will be available to answer questions and address remarks in the comments section.   

Women were 16.5% of all active-duty personnel in 2018 and make up 10% of all military veterans, a percentage that is likely to increase rapidly in the next decade, according to Pentagon data. Women veterans hold many roles, including that of mothers, but their contributions have often gone unrecognized, according to experts.

Ahead of Mother’s Day, the panel will explore the intersection of the role of mothers and their connection to the military through the personal experiences of four women veterans.

“These strong women, just like those who came before them, remind us that while motherhood itself can be a full-time job, some mothers choose to continue serving in the Armed Forces. They juggle the trials of parenting with the responsibility of maintaining operations, coping with deployment and the uncertainty that can come with it all,” said Elizabeth Estabrooks, acting executive director of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Women Veterans, and the panel’s moderator.

The discussion will include special introductions by Senators Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill, and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, both of whom are military veterans and mothers and serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran, is the first female double amputee to serve in the Senate, while Ernst was the first female combat veteran to serve in that chamber.

“The dual roles of mother and soldier are not uncommon, but too often the story of service, sacrifice and the impact on individual families goes untold,” said Duckworth, who made history in 2018 when she took her newborn baby to a Senate floor vote, just weeks after giving birth.

For her part, Ernst, a former company commander in Kuwait and Iraq, said it wasn’t easy for her to leave her little girl for deployments “halfway across the world.”

“That experience left me with a deep appreciation for the sacrifice our military families make, particularly our moms in uniform,” said Ernst, the first woman to represent Iowa in Congress.

The panel will feature mothers from different military branches who have served our nation through various generations and armed conflicts. They will discuss the trials of parenting and fulfilling operational obligations, coping with the heartache of deployments and separations, and the uncertainty that comes with military service.

Panelists for the program include:

Congress created the Veterans History Project in 2000 to collect, preserve and make accessible the firsthand remembrances of United States war veterans from World War I through the more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of military service. For more information, visit or call the toll-free message line at (888) 371-5848. Subscribe to the VHP RSS to receive periodic updates of VHP news. Follow VHP on Facebook @vetshistoryproject.

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States — and extensive materials from around the world — both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at; access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at; and register creative works of authorship at

The Navy Equivalent to In Flanders Fields by John McCrae

In Waters Deep'

In ocean wastes no poppies blow,
No crosses stand in ordered row,
There young hearts sleep...beneath the wave...
The spirited, the good, the brave,
But stars a constant vigil keep,
For them who lie beneath the deep.'
Tis true you cannot kneel in prayer
On certain spot and think, "He's there."
But you can to the ocean go...S
ee whitecaps marching row on row;
Know one for him will always ride...
In and out...with every tide. 
And when your span of life is passed,
He'll meet you at the "Captain's Mast."
And they who mourn on distant shore
For sailors who'll come home no more,
Can dry their tears and pray for these
Who rest beneath the heaving seas...
For stars that shine and winds that blow
And white caps marching row on row.
And they can never lonely be
For when they lived...they chose the sea.

The poem is called 'In Waters Deep' and was written by Eileen Mahoney

Vietnam Veteran’s Day–March 29, 2021

National Vietnam War Veterans Day is observed every year on March 29 and is a way to thank and honor our nation’s Vietnam veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice. There are 5 objectives with Vietnam Commemoration and the other four are:

  • Highlight the service of our Armed Forces and support organizations during the war
  • Pay tribute to wartime contributions at home by American citizens
  • Highlight technology, science and medical advances made during the war
  • Recognize contributions by our Allies

National Vietnam War Veterans Day will be observed on Monday, March 29, 2021.
Read more:

The last conscripted soldiers
returned home to a country
that often turned its back on them

Fortunate Son
Eve of Destruction
Heard It Through the Grapevine
The Fish Cheer
Give Peace a Chance

March 13 is National K-9 Veterans Day.

National K9 Veterans Day, March 13, is a day set aside to honor commemorate the service and sacrifices of American military and working dogs throughout history.

It was on March 13, 1942, that the Army began training for its new War Dog Program, also known as the “K-9 Corps,” according to American Humane, marking the first time that dogs were officially a part of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Reblog: August Chiwy, World War II Post

Denzil at Discovering Belgium posted a story about another nurse of color during the Battle of the Bulge.

On June 6, 1921 in the village of Mubavu in the Belgian Congo (now part of Burundi), a baby girl was born and given the name Augusta Marie Chiwy. The name of her mother, a Congolese woman, is unrecorded. Her father Henri Chiwy was a Belgian veterinarian. Augusta was one of thousands of biracial children fathered by Belgian men working in Africa during Belgium’s colonial era. When Augusta was nine years old, her father returned to his hometown of Bastogne in Belgium, and brought his daughter with him.

In Bastogne, Augusta was cared for by her father and his sister, whom Augusta called “Mama Caroline.” She attended a Catholic boarding school near her home where she was described as bright, ambitious and popular. She was also petite, measuring just 152 cm. At the age of 19 Augusta decided she wanted to become a nurse and began attending a nursing college in Leuven. She qualified as a nurse in 1943, and started working at the St. Elizabeth Hospital in Leuven.

Click on story to read the rest .

Reblog: Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained by A. James Oakes, Jr. UNSA ’63

ENS Oakes was assigned to Engineering as a ‘snipe’ on the USS Midway (CV-41) when it was homeported near San Francisco, in Alameda.

Crossing the Bay Bridge into San Francisco became almost a daily routine for me while the ship was in port. I knew that Fleet Admiral Nimitz lived in quarters #1 on Treasure Island and I started thinking to myself if there was some way to meet this great warrior, and perhaps even getting him to autograph my yearbook. After much thought, the decision was made to make a direct frontal assault and hope for the best. With my 1963 Lucky Bag in hand, on a mid-September 1963 afternoon, I exited at Treasure Island on my way across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco and drove up to Quarters #1.1 was nervous as I rang the doorbell and waited for what seemed like a very long time. A Philippine steward answered the door finally and I explained that my name was Ensign Oakes, a recent graduate of the Naval Academy, and would he be so kind as to ask Admiral Nimitz to autograph my yearbook

To find out what happened next, click here.

More Sea Stories with Carl Snow

Carl’s biography: A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Carl Snow graduated from the University of Maryland and had a long career in the United States Navy. Carl started out as a Radarman (RD) and advanced to first-class petty officer. He was involved in “ECM” as the Navy called it then, when a new rating was created, Electronic Warfare Technician (EW) and Carl was folded into that, advancing to chief petty officer. Then he applied for a commission as a Warrant Officer and was selected, becoming an Operations Technical Officer. After retirement as a CWO4, he worked as Assistant Editor for The Hook magazine and then as Production Editor for the Topgun Journal at the Navy Fighter Weapons School. When Topgun moved to Fallon, Nevada, Carl remained in San Diego, working as a Technical Writer, researching and writing manufacturing process documents for hi-tech electronics manufacturers.

Carl retired for good in March 2011 and volunteers in the Midway Museum Research Library in San Diego, California.

On Getting Face-time in Thailand

Ah, Pattaya Beach, the first port call coming out of the I.O (Indian Ocean). I don’t think that I am in the picture; my days of “scouting local talent” were far behind me by then. About the only thing I ever got in Pattaya Beach were a pair of ornamental brass dolphins (somewhere in one of the sheds by now) that I had to carry back to the ship by boat. They weighed about 30 pounds when I bought them and I swore they were 200 pounds by the time I got them back to the ship. I went a couple of times for the freshest sea food in the world at a restaurant called Dolph Rijk’s. The fish were unloaded on the beach and carried across the road to the restaurant. Delicious and you could watch the boxing matches across the street while you ate. Once in a while the admiral would host a battle-group party for all the ship’s officers at the Holiday Inn hotel up the beach. These were mandatory, “face-time” events; you’d go and make sure your department head saw you, and maybe do something obnoxious so he’d remember that you were there. Two drinks and about twenty minutes of mingling usually satisfied the face time requirement. An engineering junior officer brought a local girl to one of admiral Brown’s parties. She was dressed in a frilly lace top and long native Thai wrap-around skirt. He twirled her on the dance floor and her skirt unraveled, leaving no doubt that she had no underwear on. They hastily exited the hotel and the general consensus was that it was an intentional, though raunchy, attempt at face time.

On Man Overboard Dummy

The helicopter squadrons (both) ready room was in the area where the F-8 Crusader “mini-museum” is now. The first time we had a man overboard drill after I became ATO (Air Transfer Officer) we had an argument when the helo crew dumped the water-soaked Oscar dummy in the ATO shack. I soon found out that, being a “passenger” in the helo, he belonged to us until we got him back to the forecastle and turned him over to the Boatswain’s Mates. After that, when there was a man overboard drill one of my airmen always met the helo and hustled the dummy down to the forecastle. Live and learn.

On Where do Oscars (Man Overboard Dummy) come from

We could probably find a photo of Oscar in one of the cruise books and send it to the “cushion lady” in the Air Wing Department. They were all home-made by the Boatswain’s Mates, usually by cutting up old kapok life jackets. We may be able to get an active-duty ship to donate one in exchange for attribution in the exhibit.

On Helo Rotor-over

I remember the Wessex coming over. He brought the British admiral to see our admiral and they tied it down on spot three. The pilot was a warrant officer and, since their passenger was staying for lunch it fell to me to entertain him until time to man up for departure. One of the chiefs from HC-1 (Helicopter Combat Support Squadron-1) took the crewman under his wing and I took the pilot down to the dirty shirt locker for lunch. He was taken with the “auto dog.”

Afterward I took him around the ship to see some of the spaces he was interested in. He asked if we’d ever seen a “rotor-over,” which turned out to be the helicopter equivalent of a wing-over in an airplane. He asked if we’d like to see him do one upon take off. I called the Boss on the Mouse when we were manning up and requested permission for the helo to do a rotor-over. He said it was okay, just don’t hit anything. I called for the admiral at the flag mess and escorted him to the helo. The Boss alerted the flight deck crew to watch the helo for some aerobatics.

As soon as he was clear of the deck, he accelerated and made a couple of passes up the starboard side and then after the second pass, he climbed and “rolled” the helicopter then dove aft and crossed the fantail and took off for the admiral’s flagship. I always assumed that the British admiral knew about the maneuver and was okay with it. We were all impressed.

On Will Rogers

Speaking of Will Rogers, I’m reminded of his comment, “I never met a man I didn’t like.” When I was on Enterprise (CVN-65), our CIC Officer, a certain commander Wheeler, apparently not well regarded, was transferring from the ship. Some of the officers in CIC wore tee-shirts that read, “CDR Wheeler never met Will Rogers!”

Keepers of the Flame: A Love Letter to Libraries

Libraries have been one of the loves of my life for years. I was fortunate to be a military librarian for over 30 years and I still volunteer as a librarian for the USS Midway (CV-41) Research Library. I thought that I’d celebrate military libraries with a re-posting of this library tribute from the U.S Naval Academy website.

I learned about this website from a recent Scuttlebutt Vol 6, issue 3, 11 February 2021, edited by Carl Snow, put out bi-weekly for the library volunteers and other interested members of the USS Midway.

The real Keepers of the Flame are libraries. There are two categories of libraries worthy of your consideration:  genealogy libraries and military/naval history libraries. What to send to each? That is certainly up to you, but I suggest you contact them first to see if they would welcome your treasures, your documents, your artifacts. Our Naval Academy Nimitz Library is one of the best, and Dr.Jennifer Bryan maintains its Special Collections and Archives. Here is the web site entry about such donations from another major military library, the Navy Department Library (under the Naval History and Heritage Command) at the Washington Navy Yard: 

The Navy Library is open to the public and provides resources vital to the writing and publishing of naval history, as well as information relating to the needs of today’s Navy. The library catalog is online, and the library posts numerous publications, documents and subject presentations on the Naval History & Heritage Command’s Website. The library’s collection continues to expand thanks to the installation of compact mobile shelving and materials acquired from Navy offices, private individuals, and organizations such as the Naval Historical Foundation. Significant holdings have been obtained from disestablished libraries (including Naval Air Systems and the Navy Judge Advocate General), as well as from libraries whose collections have been downsized (such as the State Department). Over 13% of the book titles in the library are unique in the international OCLC (Worldcat) database.

Materials that enhance the Archives’ collections and support the research of U.S. Navy personnel, historians, scholars, and other researchers are greatly appreciated. Please email if you have material you are interested in donating. Do not send unsolicited material. 

What type of items are of interest? The question is, what items do you have? Email the library to see if they would welcome your items into their collection, which includes:

From the front page of the Scuttlebutt Vol 6, issue 3, 11 February 2021

Some of your items almost certainly relate to family history. Genealogy libraries are well known to researchers, perhaps not so much to the general public.  For example, the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) is considered one of the ten destination libraries for genealogy, as is the Birmingham [Alabama] Public Library and the Detroit Public Library – do a search for top genealogy libraries. Vertical files can hold collections that are not bound– and LAPL even has its own bindery. If you were to send them loose pages of your unpublished biography, they will bind it and enter it into their collection–and WorldCat. Check with your local library and talk to the Genealogy Librarian, let them know what you have. They are so much more interested in your holdings than your kids!

🎶Buffalo Soldier🎶 (2. Analysis)

Luisa has provided an analysis and insight that many if us as Americans might not see on our own. Look at our racial history with fresh eyes.

Buffalo Soldier Pt 2 Analysis

The title and lyrics (see here) refer to the black U.S. 10th Cavalry Regiment, known as “Buffalo Soldiers”, formed in 1866, that fought in the Indian Wars.
Many of the privates in this segregated regiment were slaves taken from Africa who went to rid the west of Native Americans , so that white people could occupy their lands.
That nickname was given by the Indian tribes who were fighting against them, as a result of their skin colour and hair texture, which seemed to resemble the mane of the buffalo. They accepted the name and wore it proudly knowing the Native Americans worshipped the buffalo and that name that appellation could be considered as a sign of their respect.

Their specific task was to protect the white colonizers who had settled in their lands from “Indian” attacks. In practice, the black people who had been taken from Africa as slaves, once freed (just after the Civil War) were sent to kill the natives, in the name of the Country that was no longer slaver but even ‘allowed’ them to form military regiments.

That war was a fight for freedom on both sides. The African American soldiers were fighting to obtain a freedom they had never known (although the war against slavery was over), while the Native Americans were fighting to defend their freedom.

Over a Century Later, “Harlem Hellfighters” Are Official

From Stars and Stripes by Chad Garland, 1 Feb 2021

My friend, Da Blonde, shared this with me from the Ft Belvoir Retiree Council.

“They called themselves the “Black Rattlers” and the French dubbed them “Men of Bronze,” but the Army now officially recognizes a historic Harlem unit by what the enemy called them in World War I — the “Hellfighters.”

The “Harlem Hellfighters” is now the official special designation for the 369th Sustainment Brigade, the New York National Guard said Friday. The unit traces its lineage to the all-Black 369th Infantry Regiment, which earned the moniker over a century ago in fierce fighting that’s been credited with helping to break down racial barriers.

The regiment was the first unit of the American Expeditionary Force in World War I that allowed Blacks to serve.”

Read more to find out why they were not allowed to participate in the Rainbow Parade that was the send off for the 42nd Infantry Division