Category Archives: Heroes Among Us

Attitude

    Right now I’m just sitting at an In N’ Out waiting for my cheeseburger.

I just went for my monthly blood test at our local VA.  On my way into the building a young woman was exiting with a leg prothesis.  She had lost her leg almost at the hip.

People like her make me very humble about my own military service. Here I ended up traveling over most of Europe when I wasn’t in a radar bunker talking to missile batteries in Germany.

Some gave a lot more than others; some gave all.

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MAAM P-61B Black Widow Restoration Update

The MAAM's P-61B Black Widow as she currently appears.

The MAAM’s P-61B Black Widow as she currently appears.

We’ve written before about the Mid Atlantic Air Museum’s Northrop P-61 Black Widow here.

Northrop’s P-61 Black Widow is the only night-fighter designed as such from the ground up. Built and flown in 1942, the P-61 could arguably be called one of the first fighter aircraft designed as an entire weapon system, namely the SCR-720A Airborne Radar.

The P-61s SCR-720A  airborne radar as it appears under the aircraft's radome.

The P-61s SCR-720A airborne radar as it appears under the aircraft’s radome.

As we also mentioned there are a few on display throughout the world including the National Museum of the United States Air Force (at Wright/Patterson AFB in Dayton, OH) and the National Air and Space Museum Uvdar-Hazy Annex (at Dulles International Airport in Washington DC).

The only soon-to-be flyable P-61 is owned by the Mid Atlantic Air Museum in Reading, Pennsylvania. The Museum was gracious enough to dedicate a portion of it’s website solely to give people a chance to see the restoration in progress (the website was last updated on 13 December 2013). The P-61 has always fascinated me and it’s interesting to see the aircraft from pieces to almost a complete aircraft. Just over the past few months there has been great progress on the P-61, enough that it’s being publicly displayed so you can view the Black Widow as she’s being restored. Below is one of the latest photos from the MAAM’s P-61B restoration site.

The right nose landing gear of the MAAM's P-61B

The right nose landing gear of the MAAM’s P-61B

The video below gives you a bit of a walkaround on the MAAM’s P-61:

An interesting thing to me was the detail with which the radar operator’s station at the rear of the main fuselage. Here’s an illustration of what the radar operator’s station looks like from the P-61’s Pilot’s Operating Manual (I know you know I have one…lol):

P-61 Radar Operator's Station.

P-61 Radar Operator’s Station.

Compare that with how it now appears after the restoration:

view into the RO's compartment from the boarding laddar view into the R.O.'s compartment from the aft boarding laddarPICT1352This example of the restored Radar Operator’s station serves to underline the painstaking care that the Museum is taking to get the Black Widow not only to flying condition but also “1942” flying condition.

This particular aircraft even has an interesting history in it’s own right. You can learn more about that courtesy of Warbird Radio. If you don’t only to learn about the MAAM’s P-61, you can also be part of it by donating to the restoration here. That’s your chance to be part of history.

I can’t wait to see this aircraft completed to be flyable. Hell I’d be the first to volunteer to fly it 🙂

A P-61 Black Widow in her glory days.

A P-61 Black Widow in her glory days.

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Edward “Butch” O’Hare

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Butch O’Hare and his F4F-3 Wildcat. Stud.

Most of you will recognize the namesake of one of Chicago’s international airports. What you probably may not know is that today in 1942, the USS Lexington came under attack by Japanese G4M “Betty” bombers while in the Japanese-held waters north of New Ireland.

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A flight of 9 Bettys approached the Lexington from an undefended side, and Lt. Edward H. “Butch” O’Hare and his wingman were the only aircraft available to intercept the formation. At 1700 hours, O’Hare arrived over the 9 incoming bombers and attacks. During the engagement his wingman’s (LT. Marion Dufilho) guns failed, so O’Hare had to fight on alone. He is credited with shooting down five Japanese bombers and damaging a sixth and probably saving lives aboard the Lexington (although she was scuttled at the Battle of Coral Sea in May that year).

VF-3: Front row, second from right: Lt. Edward Butch O'Hare.

VF-3: Front row, second from right: Lt. Edward Butch O’Hare.

As a result of this engagement O’Hare was promoted to LtCDR and received a Medal Of Honor. The citation reads as follows:

LIEUTENANT EDWARD HENRY O’HARE
UNITED STATES NAVY

Medal of Honor – Navy
Rank and organization: Lieutenant, U.S. Navy
Born: 13 March 1914, St. Louis, Mo.
Entered service at: St. Louis, Mo.
Other Navy awards: Navy Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross with 1 gold star.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in aerial combat, at grave risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, as section leader and pilot of Fighting Squadron 3 on 20 February 1942. Having lost the assistance of his teammates, Lt. O’Hare interposed his plane between his ship and an advancing enemy formation of 9 attacking twin-engine heavy bombers. Without hesitation, alone and unaided, he repeatedly attacked this enemy formation, at close range in the face of intense combined machinegun and cannon fire. Despite this concentrated opposition, Lt. O’Hare, by his gallant and courageous action, his extremely skillful marksmanship in making the most of every shot of his limited amount of ammunition, shot down 5 enemy bombers and severely damaged a sixth before they reached the bomb release point. As a result of his gallant action–one of the most daring, if not the most daring, single action in the history of combat aviation–he undoubtedly saved his carrier from serious damage.

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Butch O’Hare receives the Medal Of Honor from FDR (with wife Rita at his side)

There’s a bit of fable involved in the tale of Butch’s entry into the US Navy. It makes for a great story but it’s just a fable indeed. Butch’s dad was Edward “Easy Eddie” O’Hare who was a tax accountant for the infamous Al Capone. O’Hare played a key role in Capone’s prosecution for tax evasion and as a result of working with the Feds, the rumor was that Butch received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy in return. A great story indeed.

Easy Eddie was later assassinated (from Wikipedia):

O’Hare was shot and killed on Wednesday, November 8, 1939, while driving in his car. He was 46. That afternoon he reportedly left his office at Sportsman’s Park in Cicero with a cleaned and oiled Spanish-made .32-caliber semi-automatic pistol, something unusual for him. O’Hare got into his black 1939 Lincoln Zephyr coupe, and drove away from the track. As he approached the intersection of Ogden and Rockwell, a dark sedan rolled up beside him and two shotgun-wielding henchmen opened up on him with a volley of big-gameslugs. Edward Joseph O’Hare was killed instantly. As his Lincoln crashed into a post at the side of the roadway, the killers continued east on Ogden, where they soon became lost in other traffic.

Butch himself was later killed-in-action on 26 November 1943 while leading the first-ever night time fighter attack to be launched from a carrier.

If your ever at O’Hare airport and in terminal 2 go see the F4F-3 recovered from Lake Michigan:

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In the finest tradition of the Naval service, Chicago’s very own.

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Goodyear FG-1 at KIBM

Pics of an immaculate Goodyear FG-1 Corsair at Kimball Municipal Airport in Kimball, Nebraska.

Imma quite smitten.

She was stopping by for fuel:

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Shadow Gallery, The Art of Intelligence

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Guns.com has an interesting article on the CIA’s once secret art collection that detailed its Operations in World War 2, the Cold War and the GWOT:

Everything the CIA touches becomes shrouded in mystery, including their “Intelligence Art Collection.” While most people don’t have access to the paintings and sculptures inside the CIA, the Southern Museum of Flight in Alabama is open to the public and displays replicas in their exhibit called “Shadow Gallery, The Art of Intelligence,”

The boing boing article goes on the say that the art collection is also available for viewing online at the CIAs website.

Other than the painting above heres another on of my favorites:

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The painting is called “Seven Days in the Arctic:

During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union competed for every advantage, including study of the Arctic for its strategic value. For seven days in May 1962, under Project COLDFEET, the US Intelligence Community pursued an opportunity to collect intelligence from an abandoned Soviet drift station on a floating ice island deep in the Arctic. The Soviets had hastily evacuated the station when shifting ice made its aircraft runway unusable, abandoning the remote base and its equipment and research materials. Upon discovering that the station had been abandoned, the Intelligence Community formed a team of officers from the Office of Naval Research, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the US Air Force, and the CIA to develop a plan conceived by US Navy Lt.(jg) Leonard LeSchack, to parachute specialists on to the site and retrieve them using a unique airborne pickup device, Robert Fulton’s Skyhook. The Skyhook was an adaptation of devices Great Britain and the United States had used in the 1940s and early 1950s to allow fixed-wing aircraft to pick up people or objects from the ground without landing. Fulton’s device had been tested, but it had never been used operationally.

COLDFEET came to life on 28 May, when LeSchack and Air Force Major James F. Smith were dropped on to the abandoned post from a B-17. The plane belonged to CIA proprietary Intermountain Aviation and was flown by the company’s pilots, Connie Seigrist and Doug Price, accompanied by a polar navigator borrowed from Pan American Airlines and other Intermountain crew members to operate the recovery equipment. On 2 June, under extremely difficult conditions caused by poor visibility and high winds, the B-17 returned to make three successful passes with the Skyhook to collect the men and the Soviet material they had retrieved. The mission yielded information on the Soviet Union’s Arctic research activities, including evidence of advanced research on acoustical systems to detect under-ice US submarines and efforts to develop Arctic anti-submarine warfare techniques.

The painting’s unveiling at CIA headquarters on 21 April 2008 and the ceremony honoring COLDFEET participants brought team members together for the first time in 46 years. Many of the family members who joined them had never been to CIA Headquarters, let alone heard of the contributions their relatives had made in an extraordinarily challenging Cold War mission.

I had never heard of Project COLDFEET:

What became known as Operation Coldfeet began in May 1961, when a naval aircraft flying an aeromagnetic survey over the Arctic Ocean reported sighting an abandoned Soviet drift station. A few days later, the Soviets announced that they had been forced to leave Station NP 9 (a different station, NP 8 ended up being the target) when the ice runway used to supply it had been destroyed by a pressure ridge,[1] and it was assumed that it would be crushed in the Arctic Ocean.[2]
The prospect of examining an abandoned Soviet ice station attracted the interest of the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research. The previous year, ONR had set an acoustical surveillance network on a U.S. drift station used to monitor Soviet submarines. ONR assumed that the Soviets would have a similar system to keep track of American submarines as they transited the polar ice pack, but there was no direct evidence to support this. Also, ONR wanted to compare Soviet efforts on drift stations with U.S. operations. The problem was how to get to NP 9. It was far too deep into the ice pack to be reached by an icebreaker, and it was out of helicopter range.
To Captain John Cadwalader, who would command Operation Coldfeet, it looked like “a wonderful opportunity” to make use of the Fulton surface-to-air recovery system. Following a recommendation by Dr. Max Britton, head of the Arctic program in the Geography Branch of ONR, Rear Admiral L. D. Coates, Chief of Naval Research, authorized preliminary planning for the mission while he sought final approval from the Chief of Naval Operations. The mission was scheduled for September 1961, a time of good weather and ample daylight. NP 9 would be within 600 miles (970 km) of the U.S. Air Force base at Thule, Greenland, the planned launching point for the operation.
ONR selected two highly qualified investigators for the ground assignment. Major James Smith, USAF, was an experienced paratrooper and Russian linguist who had served on U.S. Drift Stations Alpha and Charlie. Lieutenant Leonard A. LeSchack, USNR, a former Antarctic geophysicist, had set up the surveillance system on T-3 in 1960. Although not jump qualified, he quickly went through the Navy parachuting course at Naval Air Station Lakehurst, New Jersey. During the summer, the two men trained on the Fulton retrieval system, working in Maryland with an experienced P2V Neptune crew at the Naval Air Test Center at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.
Because formal clearance had arrived too late and NP 9 had drifted too far away, the project was put on hold, but in March 1962 news came forward that another ice station (NP 8) had also been abandoned, which was in reach from Canadian airfields. As NP 8 also was a more up-to-date facility than NP 9, the project’s target was shifted to NP 8.[1]
On 28 May 1962, a converted CIA B-17 Flying Fortress 44-85531, registered as N809Z,[3] piloted by Connie Seigrist and Douglas Price dropped both men by parachute on NP 8. On 1 June, Seigrist and Price returned and a pick-up was made of the Soviet equipment that had been gathered and of both men, using a Fulton Skyhook system installed on the B-17. This mission required the use of three separate extractions—first for the Soviet equipment, then of LeSchack and finally of Smith.[2]
Operation Coldfeet was a success. The mission yielded information on the Soviet Union’s Arctic research activities, including evidence of advanced research on acoustical systems to detect under-ice U.S. submarines and efforts to develop Arctic anti-submarine warfare techniques.[2]

It’s a rather small collection that’s available for online viewing but it gives glimpse into some interesting history.

The painting I’d REALLY love to see is the one about Project AZORIAN.

Looks like there’s going to have to a trip to the Southern Museum of Flight to see other paintings in the collection.

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Pritzker Military Museum and Library

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What formerly known as the Pritzker Military Library, (as part of it’s 10th anniversary comemoration) has changed it’s name to the Pritzker Military Museum and Library. As such, the website is now:

http://www.pritzkermilitary.org/

The name change is to reflect that the Library is in fact, more than a library.

The Museum’s mission statement from the website:

Our Mission

The Mission of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library is to acquire and maintain an accessible collection of materials and to develop appropriate programs focusing on the Citizen Soldier in the preservation of democracy.

Why a Military Library?

Colonel J.N. Pritzker, IL ARNG (Retired), founder of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, assembled a major collection of books and related materials on military history, with a particular focus on the concept of the Citizen Soldier in America. Today, building upon that foundation through the generosity of private donors, the Pritzker Military Museum & Library has become a non-partisan research organization that attempts to increase the public understanding of military history and the sacrifices made by the men and women who have served.

In a democratic society, it is important for people of all viewpoints to have an open, public forum to discuss the past, present, and future of the military. Through its collection and its programs, the Museum & Library is dedicated to serving as a forum for those discussions and preserving them for future generations. Since opening in 2003, the Museum & Library has hosted more than 400 events featuring the country’s most acclaimed authors, historians, journalists, and scholars.

At the website, you can take a look at the Museum itself, take a look at some of the digitized books and art, use a searchable Library catalog, and see an overview of some of the Museum’s exhibits. There’s also an online store where some items are available for purchase. You’ll be able to see what’s going on at the Library, including author and speaker lectures.  These speaker and author lectures are also available as podcasts and webcasts.

The Museum’s Veteran’s Information Center also has a wide range of resources (everything from education and employment to health care information) available for veterans and active duty military personnel.

If you happen to make it to Chicago, I encourage you to visit the Museum (I’m also a member). Admission is free for active duty personnel with an ID.

Also, make sure that you sign up for emails to get the latest on news and events at the Museum (which will also periodically appear here).

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Hell Hath No Fury…

Or so I’ve heard 🙂

Ok I admit, like most men, I’ve got first hand evidence of that (had to believe that I know). However, if you’re of the younger sort and don’t have a clue you might want to take it from Hizzoner:

A guy gets his feelings hurt and odds are the other guy will say, “Whoops sorry dude, didn’t mean it that way,” and they’ll shake hands and walk away.

With women they smile and shrug, right up until the moment where she’s standing over you with the dripping butcher’s knife as you struggle into consciousness and wonder what that cold feeling is, down there under the sheets.

Yeah.

That.

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In COMPLETELY UNRELATED news:

When John Brennan sits down at his daily 8:30 a.m. senior staff meeting at CIA headquarters, America’s top spy sees something none of his predecessors ever saw.

On Brennan’s left is Avril Haines, deputy director of the CIA — and a woman. On his right, is Meroe Park, executive director of the agency — also a woman. In a third chair at the seventh-floor conference room table sits Director of Intelligence Fran Moore, the CIA’s chief analyst — yes, a woman.

In fact, on most days, says Moore, the majority of the two dozen people in the room are women. Aided by her longtime colleague Sue Gordon, the CIA’s director of support, Moore ticked off the titles of the agency’s new female elite – but not their names, some of which are classified.

and unsurprising to me they aren’t only pretty faces either:

Most importantly, CIA women have taken on critical roles, from leading the “targeting teams” that helped take down al Qaeda’s leader to serving as station chiefs in sensitive locations. Women now make up a third of the agency’s senior staff, triple the level of 20 years ago.

Aside from the managerial roles women have been involved in CIA operations for quite a while. It’s interesting history and I for one am glad they’re on our side 🙂

Oh and just in case you’re offended head on over to Old AF Sarge’s place for the Friday Fly-By. I heard he’s got a way with women 🙂

Maybe he’ll bail me out as he usually does…lol!

But seriously, thank you ladies for your service to the Nation, “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”

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