Live in the Time of Coronavirus: Pt 18: Handwritten Cards for Service Members

Armed Forces Shields

GP Cox provided the link for this high school senior’s one-girl crusade to provide personal, handwritten cards for service members.  The Pandemic put a crimp in her original plans to deliver 2,020 cards in 2020, but she found a way around that.  Since she is from my state of Virginia, I wanted to share her story.

Reblog: Flying Tigers-Flew Against the Japanese from China

How many of you have ever heard of the Flying Tigers?  Before the US entered WWII following the attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941, volunteer pilots were flying in China against the Japanese.

A one-year contract to live and work in China, flying, repairing and making airplanes. Pay is as much as $13,700 a month with 30 days off a year. Housing is included and you’ll get an extra $550 a month for food. On top of that, there’s an extra $9,000 for every Japanese airplane you destroy — no limit.
That’s the deal — in inflation-adjusted 2020 dollars — that a few hundred Americans took in 1941 to become the heroes, and some would even say the saviors, of China.

Flying Tigers

Janine’s Mission 43– Veteran’s Last Patrol Volunteer

Art AlumA few missions back, we sent out cards to the vets that Veteran’s Last Patrol works with.  I recently learned that one of their volunteers could use some ‘get well’ messages from all of us. Here is what Veteran’s Last Patrol founder, Claude Schmid shared with me about Art Allum:

One of Last Patrol’s earliest volunteers, Art Allum, has been a rock and a gentleman. Art’s a submariner who did 20 years in the Navy. He visits veterans in hospice to provide that end-of-life friendship we’re all about. He’s also gone the extra mile to help at least one track down an important personal record. Beyond that, Art has made food can goods deliveries to veterans unable to leave their homes, he’s participated in numerous honor ceremonies, and has driven disabled, solitary veterans to medical appointments. (The last two have been over 100 miles away.)

Unfortunately, a few weeks ago Art went in for emergency heart surgery. His recovery was touch and go for a week, but now he’s roaring back. He’s already cutting his grass. And this afternoon he says to me on the phone: “Let me know what I can do to help. I’m ready.”

I highly doubt Mr. Allum would ever ask for praise or recognition – but that’s all the more of a reason to flood his mailbox with continued prayers for his full recovery and gratitude for his service. He is a great example of selfless service by his continued commitment to serve and support his fellow veterans.

Send your cards on or before August 19th to:

Veteran’s Last Patrol

attn: Art Allum

140B Venture Blvd.

Spartanburg, SC 29304

Ship’s Bells

Bells have a centuries-long tradition of varied use in the navies and merchant fleets of the world.

  • Signaling,
  • keeping time,
  • sounding alarms

are important in a ship’s routine and readiness. Their functional and ceremonial uses have made them a symbol of considerable significance to the United States Navy.

Carl Snow’s sea story:  I was on a ship (USS Lockwood, FF-1064) when we pulled into port and couldn’t find the quarterdeck bell. The watch was set and one of the cooks brought up the blade from the bread mixer, which was hung in the quarterdeck shack and a large serving spoon from the galley was used to strike the blade. It worked very well until the XO noticed that the “bell sounds different” and wanted to know why. In less than a half-hour, the bell was found and mounted in its proper place.

Carl Snow is the Scuttlebutt editor in chief for the USS Midway (CV-41)  Research Library and sea storyteller par excellence.

From the Encyclopedia Britannica

Ship’s bell, bell used as early as the 15th century to sound the time on board ship by striking each half hour of a watch. The mariner’s day is divided into six watches, each four hours long, except that the 4:00 to 8:00 pm watch may be “dogged”; that is, divided into the first and second dogwatches, each two hours long, to allow men on duty to have their evening meal. Through the 18th century, time was ordinarily measured on board ship by using a 30-minute sandglass. The quartermaster or ship’s boy turned the glass when the sand ran through, and it became customary for him to strike the bell as he did so. Eight times in each watch the glass was turned and the number of strokes on the bell indicated the number of half hours elapsed after the men came on deck. These strokes are sounded in pairs, with an interval following each pair.

Ship's bells chart

A series of rapid, successive strokes on the bell is used as a warning during fog, and, at other times, this is a fire signal.

In 1798, Paul Revere cast a bell weighing 242 pounds for the frigate Constitution.

ship's bell--USS Constitution
In 1798, Paul Revere cast a bell weighing 242 pounds for the frigate Constitution.

From the US Naval History and Command Center:

It is of interest to note that the use of a ship’s bell contributed to the richest single prize captured by the American Navy during the War of Independence. While a Continental Squadron under Commodore Whipple lay-to, wrapped in Newfoundland fog in a July morning in 1779, the sound of ships’ bells and an occasional signal gun could be heard a short distance off. When the fog lifted the Americans discovered that they had fallen in with the richly-laden enemy Jamaica Fleet. Ten ships were captured as prizes, which – together with their cargo – were valued at more than a million dollars.

Other uses for the bell:

Originating in the British Royal Navy, it is a custom to baptize a child under the ship’s bell; sometimes the bell is used as a christening bowl, filled with water for the ceremony. Once the baptism is completed, the child’s name may be inscribed inside the bell. The bell remains with the ship while in service and with the Department of the Navy after decommissioning. In this way, an invisible tie is created between the country, the ship and its citizens.

Base Names–Changing is not New

As a military librarian, I was in libraries at Ft Eustis, Ft Story, Ft  Ord, Ft  Myer, and Ft McNair.  All of them have changed names.

Army Library

Ft Eustis-Fort Eustis, located in Newport News, Virginia, was established in 1918, and has served a number of purposes, including an Army training facility for artillery and artillery observation, a prison, and a work camp. Beginning in the World War II era, the primary mission of Fort Eustis has been Army transportation training, research and development, engineering, and operations, including aviation and marine shipping activities.The 2005 Base Realignment, Allocation and Closure (BRAC) Act resulted in the greatest change in the look of Fort Eustis by relocating the Army Transportation School headquarters to Fort Lee in 2010.  The Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Headquarters replaced it in 2011.  The BRAC decision consolidated adjoining bases of different services, referred to as joint basing. Resultantly Fort Eustis and Langley Air Force Base were consolidated under the responsibility of the Air Force 633d Air Base Wing as Joint Base Langley-Eustis in 2010.

Ft Story- Joint Expeditionary Base-Fort Story, commonly called simply Fort Story is a sub-installation of Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, which is operated by the United States Navy. Located in the independent city of Virginia Beach, Virginia at Cape Henry at the entrance of the Chesapeake Bay,[1] it offers a unique combination of features including dunes, beaches, sand, surf, deep-water anchorage, variable tide conditions, maritime forest, and open land. The base is the prime location and training environment for both Army amphibious operations and Joint Logistics-Over-the-Shore (LOTS) training events.

Ft OrdFort Ord is a former United States Army post on Monterey Bay of the Pacific Ocean coast in California, which closed in 1994 due to Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) action. Most of the fort’s land now makes up the Fort Ord National Monument, managed by the United States Bureau of Land Management as part of the National Conservation Lands, while a small portion remains an active military installation under Army control designated as the Ord Military Community.

Ft MyerJoint Base Myer–Henderson Hall is a Joint Base of the United States military that is located around Arlington, Virginia which is made up of Fort Myer (Arl), Fort McNair (SW DC), and Henderson Hall. It is the local residue of the Base Realignment and Closure, 2005 process. It is commanded by the United States Army but has resident commands of Army, Navy, & Marines. Most conspicuous is the Arlington National Cemetery Honor Guard.   As an Army base, Ft Myer was first called Ft Cass, then Ft. Whipple and finally Ft. Myer.  It was formed from the Arlington estate owned by Martha Washington’s great-granddaughter, Mary Custis Lee, wife of Robert E. Lee, who was the custodian of the estate until it passed to his son Custis Parke Lee.

Ft McNair-Fort Lesley J. McNair, on the point of land where the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers join in Washington, D.C., has been an Army post for more than 200 years, third only to West Point and Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, in the length of service. The military reservation was established in 1791 on about 28 acres of what then was called Greenleaf Point. Maj. Pierre C. L’Enfant included it in his plans for “Washington, the Federal City,” as a major site for the defense of the capital. An arsenal first occupied the site in 1801; earthen defenses had been there since 1791.

Land was purchased north of the arsenal in 1826 for the first federal penitentiary where the conspirators accused of assassinating President Abraham Lincoln were imprisoned in 1865; after a trial found them guilty, four were executed there by hanging. Among them was Mary Surratt, the first woman to be executed under federal orders.

The post was renamed in 1948 to honor Lt. Gen. Lesley J. McNair, commander of Army Ground Forces during World War II. McNair, who had been headquartered at the post, was killed in Normandy, France, July 25, 1944.

Reblog: USS Barb – SS-220

Have you ever heard of a submarine blowing up a railroad train?  If you are a literalist like me, you may be wondering how a sub got its torpedo out of the water and upon a track.

Youtube re-enactment of the Barb blowing up the train

GP Cox of Pacific Paratrooper describes the last war mission of the USS Barb and how the captain figured out how to use a submarine’s weapons in the only landbased battle on Japanese home soil.

via USS Barb – SS-220

5 Things I Learned from Watching My PowerPoint in Zoom

A week ago Friday, I  prepared a 20-minute Powerpoint for the weekly Zoomzoom logo meeting of USS Midway (CV-41) Library volunteers.  The group established the weekly Zoom meetings as a way to remain in touch while the Midway is closed because of the Coronavirus.

My topic was copying deck logs for the USS Midway from the National Archives in College Park MD.  In a ‘normal’ year I usually go up once a month and copy one or more months of deck logs to a thumb drive.  When I get home I upload the deck logs to an external hard drive.

USS Midway September 1945 deck log

Other volunteers on the Midway transcribe the deck logs.  It is a good source of what happened on the ship each day and the names of the crew assigned to the Midway.

By looking at the recording of that presentation, I learned:

Deck Log presentation first page

  1. I talk way too fast.  In an effort to get through the presentation, I talked too fast  and stumbled over my own thoughts and words.
  2. I use um too often.   This was something I never suspected until I heard myself repeatedly use it.
  3. Zoom messes up how PowerPoint advances.  I saw two previous Zoom lectures where PowerPoint functioned normally.  I’m still uncertain why the presentation advanced when I was not touching the keyboard or the mouse.
  4. Quirks are magnified.  Whether you are the presenter or in the audience, the viewers can see you twitch, smirk, glance around, eat or drink, nod off, etc.
  5. Directions are reversed on Zoom. When you are looking for something, if you use Zoom as your point of reference, it’s not on the side you think it is.

What are your Zoom experiences?

D-Day–76 Year Ago Today

D-Day Statistics from the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, VA.
Statistics from the D-Day Memorial Webpage in Bedford, Virginia

D-Day, or Operation Overlord, was the Allied invasion of Europe.  By the end of the day,  the Allied troops had secured the beach heads in Normandy and had began their slow slog inland.

GEN Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Commander of the Allied forces, was not sure if the operation was going to succeed or fail.  Weather was dicey at best.  Ike projected a confident  face.

 “This operation is planned as a victory, and that’s the way it’s going to be. We’re going down there, and we’re throwing everything we have into it, and we’re going to make it a success,” he said.

However, if it had failed, he had written a letter accepting full responsibility.
One day before the invasion, he prepared a brief statement—just in case:

“Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”

D-Day failure note

To read more about D-Day, click here.

To learn more about the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia, see this Memorial Day 2020 video.


Shipping Them Home at the End of WWII

Like to dream, yes, yes
Right between the sound machine
On a cloud of sound, I drift in the night
Any place it goes is right
Goes far, flies near
To the stars away from here
Well, you don’t know what
We can find
Why don’t you come with me little girl
On a magic carpet ride
Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf

From a forwarded email:

Can you imagine the logistical and administrative challenges involved in this operation?!! And, all before any computers! Staggering! AND, once they were in the US, getting them to out-processing stations and eventually home!

Remember what Eisenhower said at the end of the war, “Take pictures of the dead Holocaust Jewish people, a generation or two will never believe it happened”!!!

 Returning the troops home after WWII was a daunting task….

The Magic Carpet that brought everyone home.

  In 1939, there were 334,000 servicemen, not counting the Coast Guard.

  In 1945, there were over 12 million, including the Coast Guard.

At the end of the war, over 8 million of these men and women were scattered overseas in Europe, the Pacific and Asia.

   Shipping them out wasn’t a particular problem but getting them home was a massive logistical headache.

  Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall had already established committees to address the issue in 1943.

Soldier returning home on the USS General Harry Taylpor in August 1945


Soldiers returning home on the USS General Harry Taylor in August 1945.

  When Germany fell in May 1945, the US. Navy was still busy fighting in the Pacific and couldn’t assist.

  The job of transporting 3 million men home from Europe fell to the Army and the Merchant Marine.

  300 Victory and Liberty cargo ships were converted to troop transports for the task.

  During the war, 148,000 troops crossed the Atlantic west to east each month; the rush home (east to west) ramped this up to 435,000 a month over 14 months.

Hammocks crammed into available spaces aboard t he USS Intrepid

 Hammocks crammed into available spaces aboard the USS Intrepid

 In October 1945, with the war in Asia also over, the Navy started chipping in, converting all available vessels to transport duty.

 On smaller ships like destroyers, capable of carrying perhaps 300 men, soldiers were told to hang their hammocks in whatever nook and cranny they could find.

 Carriers were particularly useful, as their large open hangar decks could house 3,000 or more troops in relative comfort, with bunks, sometimes in stacks of five welded or bolted in place.

Bunks aboard the Army transport SS Pennant

Bunks aboard the Army transport SS Pennant

 The Navy wasn’t picky, though: cruisers, battleships, hospital ships, even LSTs (Landing Ship, Tank) were packed full of men yearning for home.

 Two British ocean liners under American control, the RMS Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, had already served as troop transports before and continued to do so during the operation, each capable of carrying up to 15,000 people at a time, though their normal, peacetime capacity was less than 2,200.

 Twenty-nine ships were dedicated to transporting war brides: women married to American soldiers during the war.

Troops performing a lifeboat drill on board the Queen Mary in December 1944 before Magic Carpet Ride.

Troops performing a lifeboat drill on board the Queen Mary in December 1944, before Operation Magic Carpet

  The Japanese surrender in August 1945 came none too soon, but it put an extra burden on Operation Magic Carpet.

The war in Asia had been expected to go well into 1946 and the Navy and the War Shipping Administration were hard-pressed to bring home all the soldiers who now had to get home earlier than anticipated.

  The transports carrying them also had to collect numerous POWs from recently liberated Japanese camps, many of whom suffered from malnutrition and illness.

 US soldiers recently liberated from Japanese POW camps

U.S. soldiers recently liberated from Japanese POW camps

 The time to get home depended a lot on the circumstances. USS Lake Champlain, a brand new Essex-class carrier that arrived too late for the war, could cross the Atlantic and take 3,300 troops home a little under 4 days and 8 hours.

  Meanwhile, troops going home from Australia or India would sometimes spend weeks on slower vessels.

Hangar of the USS Wasp during the operation
Hangar of the USS Wasp during the operation

 There was enormous pressure on the operation to bring home as many men as possible by Christmas 1945.

Therefore, a sub-operation, Operation Santa Claus, was dedicated to the purpose.

Due to storms at sea and an overabundance of soldiers eligible for return home, however, Santa Claus could only return a fraction in time and still not quite home but at least to American soil.

 The nation’s transportation network was overloaded, trains heading west from the East Coast were on average 6 hours behind schedule and trains heading east from the West Coast were twice that late.

Crowded flight deck of the USS Saratoga

The crowded flight deck of the USS Saratoga.

The USS Saratoga transported home a total of 29,204 servicemen during Operation Magic Carpet, more than any other ship. Many freshly discharged men found themselves stuck in separation centers but faced an outpouring of love and friendliness from the locals. Many townsfolk took in freshly arrived troops and invited them to Christmas dinner in their homes.

 Still others gave their train tickets to soldiers and still others organized quick parties at local train stations for men on layover.

A Los Angeles taxi driver took six soldiers all the way to Chicago; another took another carload of men to Manhattan, the Bronx, Pittsburgh, Long Island, Buffalo and New Hampshire.  Neither of the drivers accepted a fare beyond the cost of gas.

Overjoyed troops returning home on the USS Texas

Overjoyed troops returning home on the battleship USS Texas

All in all, though, the Christmas deadline proved untenable. The last 29 troop transports, carrying some 200,000 men from the China-India-Burma theater, arrived to America in April 1946, bringing Operation Magic Carpet to an end, though an additional 127,000 soldiers still took until September to return home and finally lay down the burden of war.

  Father GOD, BLESS THE GREATEST GENERATION (Above) and the Generations that have served this Great Nation since WW II !

  A Veteran-whether active duty, retired, served one hitch, or reservist is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to “The Government of the United States of America”, for an amount of “up to and including their life.” That is honor, and there are too many people in this country who no longer understand it -Author unknown.


Reblog: Battle of Midway Torpedo Eight Survivors

Today marks the 78th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, which was fought 4-6 June 1942.  It was the turning point in WWII in the Pacific.  In April, the United States and Japan had fought an inclusive battle in the Coral Sea.  The Japanese hoped that the Battle of Midway would serve as the knockout punch for the American Navy.

One of the many factors that helped the  American Navy win the Battle of Midway was the attack of Devastator torpedo bombers

Meanwhile, a wave of U.S. Devastator torpedo bombers from the U.S. carriers Hornet and Enterprise arrived to attack the Japanese ships. Unescorted by fighter planes, nearly all of them were shot down by Japanese Zero fighters. But about an hour later, as the Japanese refueled and rearmed their planes, another wave of U.S. carrier-launched bombers struck, hitting three Japanese carriers—Akagi, Kaga and Soryu—and setting them ablaze.

Popular culture has ENS George Gay Jr. as the sole survivor of that attack, but two other naval personnel also survived.


Sea Stories with Carl Snow

Carl Snow is my shipmate, friend, and editor of the ever-popular  Scuttlebutt .

Carl’s bio:

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.

Carl Snow, Scuttlebutt Editor
Carl Snow in his Midway Uniform.

Carl Snow–How to tell a sea story from a fairy tale

If sea stories are true, they are still sea stories (although not all sea stories have to do with the sea or even ships, e.g., “You won’t believe this, but a bunch of us were sitting in the main bar of the Raffles Hotel in Singapore when….”)

I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but to differentiate between fairy tales and sea stories, fairy tales usually start, “Once upon a time…,” while sea stories often start, “This is no sh**….” Either way, it’s a tip-off that what follows may very well not be true.

On Missing a Meeting.

I once missed a meeting of the Chief Petty Officer’s mess aboard a destroyer. The nomination and election of a Mess Treasurer was one order of business for the meeting. Guess who was nominated, seconded, and unanimously elected to a three-month stint as the Treasurer. I never again missed a mess meeting in my Navy career…

On Eating a Balut:  A balut is a fertilized bird egg (usually a duck) which is incubated for a period of 14 to 21 days depending on the local culture and then boiled or steamed. The contents are eaten directly from the shell.

When I was LPO (lead petty officer) in USS Bainbridge’s (CGN-25) CIC  (combat information center), one of my petty officers bought a balut in Olongapo, brought it back to the ship, and put it into his locker. When the ship was underway a few days later, while the petty officer was on watch, the ship rolled and so did his balut. The stench was overpowering and five people volunteered to relieve the RD2 in CIC so he could come down and clean it up. The smell was there for days.

Drunk or sober, I was never tempted to try a balut.

On Strange Shipboard Smells.

Midway has its share of smells, but nothing like what is described here. Most guests remark at the smell of fuel oil when they come aboard. I was walking up the hangar deck once when a diesel-powered generator started up on the pier. The strong smell of diesel exhaust was exactly like a jet engine running up and I had to stop and look around to reassure myself that it was not 1982. Probably the worst, to me, was the strong rotten-fish smell that came up from the second deck engineering and education offices when the hangar bay flooded due to heavy rain. No idea where the smell came from, but after the spaces were de-watered it went away.

On Chops.

“Chop” is a person’s initials or mark with which they indicate that they have seen the missive and are in accord with it. Otherwise, you’ll get a “see me.”

The tradition of red and green…”:

“On all ships everywhere, the CO writes in red, usually referred to as a “red rocket” or distress signal; the XO writes in green, called a “green flare.” In fleet exercises involving  submarines, the submarine launches a green flare to signal that he has simulated firing a torpedo at one of the ships. Everybody holds their breath until the submarine contacts the ship that was his target.

The worst thing is to get a note or message with the phrase, “see me” written in red or green ink. Either way, it’s NEVER good news.”

The tradition of red and green ink is so ingrained that the person doesn’t need to further identify himself and it serves as a chop.

When I was at Topgun our Program Director was Kay Heatley and she always used a pinkish-purple pen. One day I got a manuscript for an article in the Journal that was marked up with a purple pen. Some of the edits didn’t make sense to me and, knowing that purple ink was Kay, I asked her about the marks. She took one look and said, “Disregard those proof marks, I’ll take care of it.” Later that afternoon, every drawer in the office was opened and every purple pen that was found was confiscated and delivered to Kay’s desk. She ceremoniously dumped them in her trash can and announced that “No one in this office uses a purple pen but me!”


Memorial Day–A Bit of History

Flag Planting at Arlington Cemetary
A soldier from the 3rd US infantry (The Old Guard) laying a flag on a grave in Arlington Cemetery.  The Old Guard lays flags on each grave in the Cemetery to celebrate Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day.

Memorial Day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Memorial Day 2020 occurs today,  Monday, May 25.

Memorial Day sprang out of remembrances of the millions of Americans who died during the Civil War (1861-1865).   So many Americans died that the first federal cemeteries were established.

The federal government designated Arlington as a national military cemetery in 1864.

It was not an accident that Arlington was designated as the first national cemetery.

Arlington Estate was established by George Washington’s adopted grandson, George Washington Parke Custis, to be a living memorial to the first president. Custis’s daughter, Mary, married U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant Robert E. Lee in 1831. When he died, Custis left the estate to his daughter Mary Custis Lee for the duration of her life, and upon her death, her eldest son would inherit the property. Robert E. Lee served as the executor of his father-in-law’s will and never owned the property

After the Lees abandoned the property at the start of the Civil War, the U.S. Army seized Arlington Estate on the morning of May 24, 1861 to defend Washington, D.C. From the property’s heights, rifled artillery could range every federal building in the nation’s capital. The estate was seized not to punish the Custis-Lee family, but rather for its strategic value. Three forts were built on the property during the Civil War: Fort Cass/Rosslyn, Fort Whipple/Fort Myer and Fort McPherson (currently Section 11 of the cemetery). Beginning in June 1863, a large Freedman’s Village, established for freed and escaped slaves, was established in what today are Sections 3, 4, 8, 18, and 20.

On May 13, 1864, the first military burial was conducted for Private William Christman. Brigadier General Montgomery Meigs, Quartermaster General of the U.S. Army, who was responsible for the burial of soldiers, ordered Arlington Estate used for a cemetery.  He wanted to ensure that the Lees would never be able to resume living on the estate. The existing D.C.-area national cemeteries (Soldiers’ Home and Alexandria National Cemeteries) were running out of space — both closed on the day that burials began at Arlington.

Following the death of his mother, in 1873, Lee’s oldest son, Custis, brought suit against the U.S. Government in hopes of gaining compensation for Arlington after its seizure during the Civil War. After a long court battle, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Arlington had been illegally seized and Custis regained title to the property. Knowing that he could not live at Arlington and operate it as a plantation estate, he sold the title back to the U.S. Government for $150,000.

Live in the Time of Coronavirus, Pt 13: Reblog: Letters from the Spanish Flu Pandemic

At the end of World War, the world was struck with the Spanish Flu Pandemic.  Troop movement at the end of the war hastened the spread of the flu, which was often followed by pneumonia.  How was life  different one hundred years ago and how is it the same?

UCLA Biomedical Library picture

Read this interview with a special collection librarian from UCLA to find out how little difference a century makes between pandemics.



May Dates to Celebrate

bona deaMay (in Latin, Maius) was named for the Greek Goddess Maia, who was identified with the Roman era goddess of fertility, Bona Dea, whose festival was held in May. Conversely, the Roman poet Ovid provides a second etymology, in which he says that the month of May is named for the maiores, Latin for “elders,” and that the following month (June) is named for the iuniores, or “young people” (Fasti VI.88).

May is Asian American Heritage Month.

Screenshot_2019-04-22 Asian Pacific American Heritage MonthMay is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month – a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. A rather broad term, Asian/Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island).

The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.

May is also National Military Appreciation Month.

Military Appreciation MonthNational Military Appreciation Month (NMAM) is celebrated every May and is a declaration that encourages U.S. citizens to observe the month in a symbol of unity. NMAM honors the current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces, including those who have died in the pursuit of freedom. The month of May is characterized by six national observances which highlight the contributions of those who have served.

The Observances are
  1. Loyalty Day on 1 May
  2. Public Service Recognition Week – 3-9 May
  3. Victory in Europe or VE Day-8 May
  4. Military Spouse Appreciation Day -8 May
  5. Armed Forces Day-16 May
  6. Memorial Day-25 May

Armed Forces Shields

Choose Privacy WeekChoose Privacy Week–1-7 May

Kicking off the first week of May, Choose Privacy Week encourages those who use library resources to improve their privacy practices.

Libraries are a major resource for many in the digital age, and due to the growing risks of identity and information theft, libraries need to take steps to improve technologies to protect their users. Choose Privacy Week provides many resources and programs addressing the current issues libraries are facing.

Mother Goose Day is May 1

mother gooseNational Mother Goose Day on May 1st each year honors Mother Goose and the imaginary author of a collection of fairy tales and nursery rhymes we loved as children.  Mother Goose is often illustrated as an elderly countrywoman in a tall hat and shawl, but she is also sometimes depicted as a goose wearing a bonnet.

What is your favorite Mother Goose rhyme?

National Pet Week is 3-9 May.

National Pet Week is sponsored by the Auxiliary to the AVMA to foster responsible pet ownership, recognize the human-animal bond, and increase public awareness of veterinary medicine.


One of the more useful by-products of the Coronavirus is that many shelters have been emptied because a lot of people have signed up to foster animals while they are staying at home.

4 May is Star Wars Day--May the 4th be with you.

Memorial Day is May 25.

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday, commemorating those who have died in military service to their country. It is observed annually on the last Monday of May.

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day – an occasion to decorate the graves of the war dead – and was created in the aftermath of the American Civil War.

Observances are held at military graveyards, cemeteries and memorials, and military themed parades are held across the country. The holiday is also associated with the Indianapolis 500 car race which is held on the Sunday preceding Memorial Day.

Memorial Day, and the long weekend that it creates, is generally seen to mark the beginning of the summer season (while Labor Day marks the end).

RPs or Religious Program Specialists are also Library Technicians aboard Ship

Their duties are varied and include:

  • Religious Program Rating Badgesupporting chaplains of all faiths and religious activities of the command,
  • maintaining records, ecclesiastical documents and references of various faith groups,
  • maintaining liaison with religious and community agencies,
  • assisting in preparation of devotional and religious educational materials, and audio-visual displays,
  • determining, developing, managing and maintaining the administrative and logistical support requirements of religious programs and facilities aboard ships, shore stations, hospitals, Marine Corps units and other sea service commands

In addition they also provide physical security for chaplains during field exercises and in combat environments since chaplains are not allowed to carry weapons.

They also operate and maintain libraries aboard ships and isolated duty stations.

RPs must have a favorable interview by chaplain/RP screening committee. High school diploma graduate or equivalent with successful completion of 10th grade. Repeat military offenders and personnel convicted by military or civilian authorities of any criminal offense reflecting unfavorably upon their character or integrity are ineligible for the RP rating. Moral turpitude offense(s) are disqualifying. Ministers, Priests, or Rabbis are not eligible for this rating.

Duties for an RP

Interview with Angela Costello, Midway Volunteer from Florida

  1. Angela reading the F-8 book.
    Angela Costello reading about the F-8 Crusader

    How did you first become involved with the USS Midway?

I relocated from Portsmouth, NH to San Diego in the Summer of 2016 when the Chief’s submarine at the time, the USS Alexandria, underwent a homeport change. I’ve always been a warplane nerd, my dad has worked in aerospace his whole life, so I grew up surrounded by it. He helped build the A-10, and also did an overhaul on the F-14, for example. When I was looking around for work in San Diego, I figured the Midway was a good place to start considering I could come in not only with my museum knowledge but also a bit of nerdery in regards to naval aviation. I shot Laurie an email, and she left me a pass at will call to come and check out the museum to “see if I liked it and if it was what I wanted to do”. Needless to say, I was hooked. I debated between Curatorial and Airwing but settled on Curatorial as it was more in line with my education.

  1. What were your responsibilities as a Midway volunteer? Were you in other departments than

the library?

I was with the library the entire time. I started being primarily a Proceedings summary writer but then started taking on special projects. Once we got in the new shelves, for example, I researched and executed how to make them archival safe as a way to protect the collection, and helped keep an eye on the humidity, so I slid more toward being an archivist. I also helped come up with a library-specific disaster plan.

  1. Now that you’ve relocated to Florida, how are you still volunteering for the Midway?

I was able to contribute to Ed’s aircraft book project, but then my current non-Midway related work started taking precedence, so I petered off my involvement for the time being. Unfortunately due to COVID-19, all of my trips for this summer to major conferences have been canceled.

  1. If you are able to return to San Diego, what would you like to do when you get back onboard the Midway?

I think I’d like to take a more active role in archiving, not that I don’t like Proceedings mind you, I’ve read some wild stuff (and some boring stuff!) but I’m sure the library could always use more hands in regards to inventory and condition reporting, so we can progress in regards to preservation. I’d also like to get down into curatorial storage and do…something, in there. Of course, Jeff already received soft orders (that means he was picked for the job, but not actually told when to leave) to Norfolk, Virginia, but we have no idea what’s going on with that right now.

  1. I understand you are interested in pursuing a career in a museum. What have you learned from being a Midway volunteer that will help you?

The dynamic at the Midway is very, very different than working at a traditional art museum or traditional historic structures, not only because of the sheer size, but because of the varied departments, and what it takes to simply keep things going. Most people I talk to in regards to my experience onboard are usually pretty taken aback at the very idea that we have a research library on an aircraft carrier, yet it’s not uncommon at all in your average art museum. I don’t have a library degree, and upon researching and anticipating attending an online program for one, I found that funding was out of my reach this go around, therefore I will need to focus more on my research and collections management skills, versus blanket “library” experience. Hands-on experience in any museum, especially with ephemera like books and other works on paper, is important, so at the very least, I’m hoping that when I do finally get back into the job market, that the Midway has provided me with exceptional transferable skills.

  1. Do you have any suggestions for the Midway in general or the library in particular?

Did we get that AC in the library, yet? LOL

(Editor’s two cents– It was supposed to be this year but since the Midway is closed because of coronavirus, I think this type of expense will be postponed.  I’m surprised by how many museum and/or library planners do not realize that books and archives need to be climate controlled.  This includes the newish San Diego Public Library Special Collections space.)

  1. What would your ideal museum job be? And would you recommend that the museum have a research library?                     

I would ultimately prefer to get into collections care for textile and costumes, which is what I am predominately trained to do. And all museums should have research libraries! It’s important not just to the staff, but for visitors that are using the collection for their own specific research projects. Museums and libraries are keepers of knowledge and the vibrant human past. It’s our job to work in tandem to better provide information for those that seek it.

  1. How are you handling quarantine in Florida?

It’s pretty quiet. It’s very weird to not be able to go see friends or drive across the state to see my parents right now. I’ve also been consuming a great deal of gin and tonics, as tonic is medicine, you know. Jeff is still essential, but his command has everyone staggered to come in three days a week, so his days are Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. The beaches just reopened in our county, and it is still quiet.  Jacksonville, which is the largest city by land area in the CONUS, is very eerie. The weather is oscillating between okay and very hot, and it’s the dry season, so we’re expecting fires to complicate things sooner than later. (Yes, Florida burns every year, too!)

  1. You are also a talented artist. How did you get started and what type of art do you do?

I’ve been drawing since I was a little kid and got heavily into comics and Japanese animation styles in high school in the late 1990s. My first degree is in graphic art, where I was initially studying to be an animator, but that didn’t work out. I’m trained in sequential art and have worked in the comic industry on and off since 2003. One of the little perks that let me go to San Diego Comic-Con for free. 😉 I have nothing currently in the works, though. I should get on that.

  1. Have you done any pieces that include the Midway?

Nope, that’s Carl’s job, but who knows? Maybe I’ll do the next t-shirt!

A Yank’s Perception of ANZAC Day

Phil get's his 9000 hr award Apr 2016
Phil getting his 9000 hour award on the Midway.  He is now over 10,000 volunteer hours.

Written by my friend and shipmate, Phil Eakin (Commander, USN Ret).  Phil was stationed in Australia while on active duty and lived there for several years.  Since his wife is an Aussie, he also visits there regularly.

A Yank’s Conception of ANZAC Day.

25 April 2020

Each year on the 25th April, Australians and New Zealanders commemorate ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day to recognize the sacrifices that Australian and New Zealand servicemen and servicewomen have made not only in defending their country, but in upholding their nations’ longstanding commitment to peace and security.

ANZAC Day is to Australians and New Zealanders what Memorial Day is to Americans – ceremonies, parades, the odd libation, etc.  The root of the ANZAC Spirit lies in the landings and subsequent fighting on the Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey in World War I.  Militarily, for the allied powers, Gallipoli was a disaster organized by the British First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill.  British Commonwealth troops distinguished themselves under some say the poor management or mismanagement of British generals.  The bonds of mateship forged on the beaches and in the trenches of Gallipoli bound, in particular, Australian and New Zealand military personnel and eventually the two nations.  It is a bond that carried through two world wars, other British Commonwealth conflicts post-World War II, Vietnam and into Iraq and Afghanistan in more recent times.


The spirit of the ANZACs embodies the peculiar concept of ‘mateship,’ a fierce friendship known really only to Australian and New Zealand males, so far as I know, and service to one’s country.  It is this resilient, fighting, unselfish and loyal spirit which is celebrated on ANZAC Day.


A typical ANZAC Day service features guest speakers who mostly try not to tell the same inspiring stories of valor in military exploits over the years, and readings from historic and now-famous texts.  Extracts from two poems which feature prominently in a typical ANZAC Day service are provided below.


For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon (extract)


They went with songs to the battle, they were young,

Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.

They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;

They fell with their faces to the foe.


They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.


In Flanders Fields by John McCrae (extract)


Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (November 30, 1872 – January 28, 1918) was a Canadian poet, physician, author, artist and soldier during World War I, and a surgeon during the Second Battle of Ypres, in Belgium. He died of pneumonia near the end of the war. (victim of the 1918 Influenza?)


In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.


We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

In Flanders fields.


Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.


A Turkish Army lieutenant colonel, Mustafa Kemal, is credited with turning certain defeat into victory at Gallipoli, rallying his troops to hold the line, counterattack, and retake valuable heights overlooking the beaches at Gallipoli.  He later became known as Ataturk (father of the Turks) and ruled Turkey as President from 1923 to 1938.  In 1934 he penned some words directed to those enemy who had died in the fighting at Gallipoli.  These words are frequently read at ANZAC services and are provided below.

Ataturk's quote on Gallipoli


At the end of the words from For the Fallen, the crowd repeats the phrase, “We will remember them.”  The speaker then says, “Lest we forget.”  And the assembled repeat that phrase, “Lest We Forget.”  The same words from the For the Fallen poem are intoned every Friday evening at 7:00 PM in Returned and Services League Clubs (RSLs – like VFW and American Legion posts) throughout Australia.


This year the Australian Government banned the normally large gatherings associated with ANZAC Day due to the pandemic.  This ban included the ceremony that has been conducted every ANZAC Day for the last 10 years or so on the flight deck of the USS Midway Museum in San Diego.  Other ways have had to be found to celebrate ANZAC Day 2020.  A friend sent me this photo taken yesterday of the Marriot Hotel in Surfers Paradise, Australia.  Nice effect using the room lights.

Least we forget

                          Lest We Forget.


And it’s always a good idea to wear sunglasses to an ANZAC Day service, even if it is dark or overcast


Live in the Age of Coronavirus: Pt 9, Interview with Midway Maddy and Nan

Maddy is Nan’s emotional support dog and a beloved member of the USS Midway (CV-41) Research Library staff.    This interview is to see how Maddy and Nan are doing now that Midway is closed down as part of California’s social distancing.

1. Your mother posted an adorable picture of you begging to go to the Midway on the first day the ship was closed.  Do you still know the Midway schedule and expect to visit the ship on that morning?    Can we have a copy of that picture for this interview?

Maddy begging to visit the Midway, right after the museum closed.
Maddy all dressed up in pink ear bows and begging to go to the Midway with Nan.

I have gotten so confused—we should have gone to the ship by now!  Whenever Mom goes in and puts on her going out clothes and fixes her hair real nice, I get excited thinking that we’re going to go to the ship.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen.  ☹

Of course, you can have a copy of the picture.  I miss having my picture taken by the people that visit the Midway.  I think that is one of my jobs on the Midway—besides seeing an important part of history and the living symbol of freedom, some of the visitors are so happy to see me and take my picture as part of their wonderful memories of the USS Midway.

2. I have heard that some dogs have caught the Coronavirus.  Are you scared about catching it?  How does a loving dog like you practice social distancing?

I heard on the news that it’s only the cats that catch it, like the big ones in the zoo.  I’m not scared to catch it because I’m only around my Mom right now.

3. Are you doing anything special to calm your Mom in these scary days?  What signs do you look for?

Mom was doing pretty good with just the Coronavirus.  But, after her younger brother died recently, she has been pretty sad so I have been staying very close to her.  I even have been waiting next to the shower when she’s there because I don’t want her to ever be without me.  I really don’t have to see any signs, I can just feel when she needs me more.  We’ve been through quite a lot together, so I know my Mom very well.  I love my Mom very much and I take my job seriously.  In fact, I am extremely unhappy if I’m not with her constantly because I fear she will need me if I’m not there

4. What are you doing for fun during the mandatory social distancing? Are you still able to get out for bio or adoration breaks?

Social distancing is BORING!  Occasionally we will see other people with their fur babies when we’re out walking and I get excited because there is another dog on MY street!  I don’t bark, because that is impolite, but I get to walk fast and breathe hard following and trying to catch up with them.

Unfortunately, because we can’t be around other people, there is no such thing as an adoration break.  Life can be so unfair!  I have so much love to give and I can’t right now.  The only good thing is when we do go out to the store, I can tell the people in masks are smiling with their eyes when they see me, so I still get to make a few people happy.

5. Could you take a picture of you in a mask so your legions of fans know how a cute puppy like you would look in COVID 19 wear?

Maddy answered my stupid question gently.  I don’t do masks!  If I try to wear a mask I can’t breathe.  Besides, how can everyone see how cute I am if I’m wearing a mask?

6. What is a typical day for you now?  Are you still able to do any Midway related work from home?

Mom and I get up, we go for a walk, Mom comes back and gets her coffee, and then I get to be brushed and loved on while she drinks her coffee.  Sometimes when she asks me if I want breakfast, I just stay in her lap to be loved on a little longer—I know that I’ll get my breakfast when I’ve gotten my fill of loving.   After breakfast, I keep hoping that Mom is going to go in and get ready for the ship, but she doesn’t (sigh).   The rest of the day is Mom doing boring stuff in the house like cleaning and laundry and I just lay around near where she is working so I know what she is doing at all times.  There have been a few times that we’ve gone out in the car to the bank, store or pharmacy – I love riding in the car – but it hasn’t been too many times (another big sigh!).

Every afternoon at 4:00 I go to my neighbors’ house (Allan and Phyllis think of themselves as my foster parents) and I get my cookie.  I look forward to that every day!  Because of social distancing, my Mom stays outside and Phyllis has folding chairs for her to sit in the entry hall and Mom stays out on the front porch (of course 6 feet away) and I run into the house to Allan and get my cookie.  After a short visit, we go home and I pick out what toy I want Mom to throw and we play for a while before dinner.  I have lots and lots of toys, but there are only about a half dozen that I play with most of the time.  I will pick a different one to take with me when we go in for my meals.  Mom always makes me pick my toy up and carry it back to the living room when I’m done eating.

After my Mom has dinner, I nap in my bed in the living room (I have a bed in every room of the house) until it’s time to go to bed.  Mom never goes to bed as early as I would like and I cannot go get in my bed in the bedroom without her.

7. What are your plans for your first day back on the ship? What are you must-visit spots or people? 

That day will be so wonderful!  First, I have to see all of my co-workers in the Library because I’m sure they have missed me as much as I have missed them.  Then, I have to go on my adoration break and see all of my friends and then, if it’s a Monday, I have to find my friend Jean, because she always has treats for me (oh I hope so much it’s a Monday!).   I’m sure it will be a tiring day seeing everyone and welcoming them back, but it will be a very happy day!!!!!

8. If you could give us one piece of advice from your point of view, what would it be?

Don’t let the little things upset you.  There is very little that a nuzzle, a treat and a good pet won’t improve.

9. What is the best and worst thing about having to stay at home? 

The best thing is that I get to have so much of my Mom’s attention.  Even when she’s doing something at home, I can pretty much get up, look cute, and get petted and loved on.

The worst thing is that I can’t be with or help my other people.  I am sure that they would love to have my calming ways, visits, and nose kisses.

Maddy now that she is a Dog Star a la Sirius
Maddy, as her own Dog Star

10. Who is your favorite animal star? 

I don’t really have a favorite animal star.  I prefer people and they certainly don’t have to be a star for me to love them.   I can sense that every person in my life is special in some way.  I can’t wait until I get to see everyone again.

To read more about Maddy and Nan, Midway Maddy, Library Mascot and Midway Maddy, Follow-up Interview.