Tag Archives: History

A Fourth of July Message for These Polarized Times

As I was reposting so much of Carroll “Lex” LeFon’s work, I came to realize how timeless some of it is. Even though he has been gone from us for 9 years, he can still be in the national conversation. As I was reposting his work, I thought it would be nice to time a few of his posts for the days long ago that he originally posted.

This is one of them that just popped up today, 14 years ago from the time he originally sent it to the blogosphere. I must have told WordPress a few years ago to (re)post it today.

I had forgotten about it.

I was just re-reading it, and felt that he could have written this today.

Think this polarization is something new to this country?

Two of the country’s founders, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, one an aristocratic Virginian and the other an established New Englander, had different ideas as to the direction the country should take.

Sound familiar?

The 2 didn’t speak for 15 years.

Lex wrote about this with more eloquence than I could offer…

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80 Years + 2 Days Ago

They are all probably long gone now. It is funny, as a 23 year old stationed in Germany, I considered them at the time, old. And now I am far older – by at least 20 years – than them.

When I wasn’t under the ground in the NATO bunker in Germany, I was more often than not in the photo lab by my barracks. The man who ran it, Willi Schubert, became a friend. Besides teaching me the art of developing and printing my film – and Agfa 8×10 paper was $2! – we talked a lot. If you look at my post Europe in B & W, that was just a small portion of those 8 x 10 prints.

As I have mentioned before, in my travels I remember the people I have met along the way as much as the sights.

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Paul Tibbets Interview

This is a fascinating 2 part interview with Kermit Weeks. Tibbets tells the story of the B-29 development and why Boeing wanted to cancel the development. Tibbets was instrumental in helping Boeing finish the development.

He talks about the preparation of the mission, and what happened during that mission.



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Odd Statement

Posted By lex, on March 8th, 2011

In this otherwise mundane article about the usual foreign policy tug of war within the Capital Beltway – Libya, this time – we find an interesting insight into President Obama’s grasp of history:

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Iconography

Posted by lex, on September 29, 2010

Courtesy of occasional reader Zane, the iconography of Iwo Jima, with an essay on Joe Rosenthal’s tribulations. His photograph of the second raising of the American flag atop Suribachi guaranteed the existence of the Corps for the next 500 years, according to Navy Secretary James Forrestal.

I’ve walked those beaches and climbed that hill, and was in awe for every moment of it. And I wasn’t carrying a ten pound rifle, nor a forty pound ruck. And no one was shooting down on me.

If that’s a little too distant, these images * from the war in Iraq may evoke memories of a more innocent time, while graphically depicting our gradual loss of innocence over the years.

I don’t know that we come out of Iraq with any guarantees at all.

Two very different fights. Two very different endings.


** 02-15-21 Lex’s original link had the text in the Wayback Machine but not the images. I found another link but sadly it has but one image . Lex has several posts on his time at Iwo Jima. – Ed.

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The Day the Music Died

I was only 8 years old when it happened, so I didn’t remember the anniversary. I was just driving home listening to SiriusXM’s 50s on 5 listening to the host interviewing people who were there.

On a cold, windy and snowy evening on February 3, 1959, 3 young men, whose music is still appreciated 62 years later, died 10 minutes after takeoff, when their chartered Beechcraft Bonanza crashed on an Iowa field.

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Hitler’s Would-be Assassin

For those who have even a modicum of WW2 history knowledge, the first thought that came to your mind was most likely Claus von Stauffenberg.

But there was apparently another some years earlier who, but for some fog, would have been successful.

That’s why I enjoy reading the BBC History Magazine. Many of their articles bring out either a revelation of daily life in the ancient times (for example in this issue, Vol 21, Nbr 13, life in the Roman Army for those who were Centurions (who commanded 80 men) and below), to obscure moments and figures in history.  

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The Memphis Belle – Her Final Mission

I’m watching a wonderfully produced program on YouTube on the Memphis Belle. Beautifully made because it goes from the restoration crew at Wright-Patterson doing the restoration, telling you how they refabricated parts, to voices of the now-gone crew talking about certain missions, to general information on her missions first to France, then Germany.

The Belle was famous – became an iconic piece of American history, for finishing 25 missions and boosting the morale of a war-weary American public.

Among the things I learned during her 6 month combat tour was that 10 engines were replaced, major wing parts, and the vertical stabilizer.

That a flight crew had only a 28% chance of surviving though the magic 25 combat missions and the ticket home.

How A-List Hollywood Director William Wyler, in Europe as an Army Major, picked the Belle as the B-17 he would use to document the war.

How every day in the War, the Pentagon sent 297 telegrams to the families of the 8th AAF crewmen giving them the worst news.

When I reviewed the book by Erik Larson on Churchill’s first year as PM, I came to the realization to get those fantastic recollections of family members, they had to have kept diaries.

Apparently many people in the 40s kept diaries, including the co-pilot of the Belle and a waist gunner.

We are the richer for it.

“After 13 years in the restoration hanger, the Memphis Belle was ready for her final mission. She would tell a story of valor and sacrifice for those whose voices are now silent”

It is well worth the hour it takes to view it.

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An Act of Chivalry and Nobility Amid the Carnage

A painting by John Hall commemorating that event.

For those you who have used the Internet awhile, you probably heard the story decades ago. Probably in the early 90s. The interesting thing about this is that when it was revealed it was a mystery solved after 47 years.

In the darkness of a December 20, 1943 morning in an English side Quonset hut, an orderly shined a light into the face of Lt Charles “Charlie” Brown to tell him that it was time to get up and attend the briefing.

Members of the 379th Bomb Group of the mighty 8th Army Air Force were to receive their briefing for that day’s bombing raid.

They were to bomb the Focke-wulf aircraft factory on the Northern German coast at Bremen.

They were told to expect heavy flak and hundreds of fighters in opposition. The CO giving the briefing, Col “Mo” Preston, would be leading the massive formation. He was no commander who led from the desk.

Although LT Brown and his crew had trained together and had 100s of hours stateside in the Flying Fortress, this would be his first bombing mission with that crew. After 100s of hours, the crew became as a family.

At Bremen during that same hour, a German Luftwaffe Leutnant, Franz Stigler, was most likely sleeping. They wouldn’t know about the raid until hours later. The B-17 crews deliberately had no radio communication once they started up on the tarmac.

Because the enemy was listening.

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Armistice Day

With this post time, exactly 102 years ago to the minute, the Armistice took effect ending 4 years of the bloodiest conflict – from 1914 – the world had known. The time was November 11, 1918 at 1100 CET.

11/11/11

The world would forever be changed.

This post details a bit about that War behind that Armistice.


As I have gotten older, I’ve noticed that I frequently reminisce about times years ago. Times that when I was living them, didn’t see any specialness to them.

Vienna fascinated me. And the heart of downtown Vienna is a walk known as “Der Ring” – The Ring – a.k.a. Ringstrasse. It is a beautiful circular walk aligned with parks about 6.5 km – 4 miles. As the name implies, you finish where you started.  I can remember one park with a stand where Johann Strauss used to serenade Viennese on warm spring days. There was the magnificent opera house. And all of those grand old buildings and palaces! With just a bit of imagination, I saw Strauss playing those waltzes in grand ballrooms and chandeliers, with 100s of formally-attired couples dancing.

But something seemed to be missing around them.

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