Who was Carroll LeFon?
The best description of Lex that I’ve heard is “Imagine Hemingway flew fighters…and liked people.”
To the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese, he was known as “White Feather” for the feather he wore in his cap, and they had a $30,000 reward for him. They sent their own snipers to get him, and he killed them all.
One of their best, named The Cobra, had him in his sights 500 yards away, and Carlos Hathcock, seeing the flash of his scope lens through his own scope, fired a fraction of a second first.
His bullet went through the enemy’s scope, killing him. Five hundred yards and hitting a lens maybe an inch in diameter.
The SEAL’s own Chris Kyle, considered to be the deadliest sniper in military history, credited Carlos Hathcock as his inspiration.
On February 19, 1945, Operation Detachment commenced and the landings on Iwo Jima began.
Seventy-five years ago, U.S. Marines came ashore on a desolate eight-square-mile volcanic island dominated by Mount Suribachi and located roughly halfway between the Marianas and Tokyo. Iwo Jima’s value lay in its airfields. B-29 Superfortresses that were damaged or low on fuel could land there, and Army Air Forces fighters based on the island could escort the bombers to their targets in Japan. Three Marine divisions—more than 70,000 men—had the task of seizing the island. But an operation that U.S. commanders forecast would take a week to complete would stretch out to five weeks, and the Marines’ determination and sacrifice on Iwo Jima would become enduring touchstones for the Corps.
Before that time, the Marines didn’t know that the Japanese would be in a labyrinth of tunnels, bunkers, and caves, prepared over many months in anticipation of their landing. They could wait out the massive bombardments of the Navy ships. One tunnel was 90′ deep.
They had seriously underestimated the Japanese defenses. The battle would last 36 bloody days. For every square mile of that island, more than 800 Marines would lose their lives.
In between working on another post, which may take a few days, I was watching a program on Amazon Prime involving that famous trio, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May.
While I was at lake Louise, our wedding party headed 40 miles east on the Trans Canada Highway and had a dinner at Banff. The Park Distillery is a bit different from the trend these days. Instead of yet another beer microbrewery/restaurant, they make gin. And they are pretty famous for it apparently.
The restaurant – on the same site – isn’t bad either.
After our group finished dinner and we were on the way out ready to leave on our bus, someone on the staff casually mentioned about the fellow in the picture overlooking the bar.
How does one measure that? Many will say only consider the confines of Formula 1 racing.
I’m not one of them.
I think today too, more than ever with technology, the car is as important as the driver.
Certainly Michael Schumacher would be on anyone’s short list with 7 world F1 championships.
I don’t wish to denigrate his achievements, but I think the evolution of his Ferrari was as important as his abilities.
Being a Medal of Honor recipient places one in one of the most elite military fraternities in the world, with just 70 living members. Created during the Civil War, 3,504 men, and one woman, have been bestowed that honor. Mary Walker, a surgeon during the Battle of Bull Run, was the lone female recipient.
For many, instead of being a reminder of having the highest honor this country can bestow, it is a reminder of the worst day of their lives.
The only Grand Prix that I have ever seen was in the summer of 1973, courtesy of the Army Special Services.
If you were off duty they sometimes arranged day trips of the local areas. The German Grand Prix was to be at a fabled course called the Nurburgring. This course, built in the 1920s, was the longest closed circuit course by far, at 14 miles or so. Fourteen miles of terrifying sharp turns, long straights, and in one area a jump through the Eifel forest.
Racing great Jackie Stewart called the course The Green Hell, and the term stuck.
About all that my father told me of his WW2 service was a few days before he died in a hospital. “They used to call these ducks“, he said, referring to the bedpan by his bed. “They looked like a duck“.
He was in a famous unit that a German Officer called the “White Devils” – the 82nd Airborne. Injured while trying to help a scared friend out of the C-47, he spent 6 months in a hospital while his unit went on to Sicily and suffered 80% casualties.
I suspect that if he hadn’t had that accident, I wouldn’t be here typing this.
Some years later, my parents invited me to a Thanksgiving dinner with their friends, the Millers. My mother said that that was the only time, over wine and pecan pie, Dusty Miller, in the 2nd wave at D-Day, talked about that day. He saw his best friend die on that beach.
“You never think it’s going to be you“, he said.
Then a few years ago, I went back to Huntington, WV to meet my cousin and sister and clear out Uncle Peter’s things at his retirement home.
We had 3 days to clear out a lifetime of memories.
Peter was a Lieutenant in the Navy, stationed on an ammunition ship making the Murmansk Run.
Crossing a sea infested with U-Boats.
He said when he had the watch at night, it was hard to distinguish the wake from a playing dolphin and a torpedo. You’d be torn as to whether to sound the alarm.
He never was right after the war.
They’re all gone now.
And now the man who led the last air mission of WW2 has just gone west.
Proud of them all….