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The FReeper Foxhole Remembers James 'Earthquake McGoon' McGovern (1954) - Feb. 17th, 2005
www.contracostatimes.com ^ | Nov. 30, 2002 | Richard Pyle

Posted on 02/16/2005 10:03:07 PM PST by SAMWolf



Lord,

Keep our Troops forever in Your care

Give them victory over the enemy...

Grant them a safe and swift return...

Bless those who mourn the lost.
.

FReepers from the Foxhole join in prayer
for all those serving their country at this time.


.................................................................. .................... ...........................................

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James 'Earthquake McGoon' McGovern died in Laos plane crash in 1954


He was the classic soldier of fortune -- an ex-World War II fighter ace with nine enemy aircraft to his credit, a hard-living, 260-pound bon vivant, known in Asia's bars and byways as "Earthquake McGoon," after a character in the "Li'l Abner" comic strip.

Now, 48 years after his cargo plane was shot down during a desperate, last-ditch supply mission over Dien Bien Phu, a U.S. military team is seeking to recover the bodies of James B. McGovern, alias "McGoon," and his copilot, Wallace A. Buford.


2nd Lt. James (Earthquake McGoon) McGovern, Jr


"Looks like this is it, son," was McGovern's last radio message as his crippled C-119 Flying Boxcar cartwheeled into a Laos hillside May 6, 1954.

The crash killed McGovern, 32, Buford, 28, and a French crewman. Two cargo handlers, a Frenchman and a Thai, were thrown clear and survived.

The next day, Ho Chi Minh's Viet-Minh revolutionary forces overran the last French strongpoints at Dien Bien Phu, ending a siege that had captured world headlines for nearly three months.

McGovern, Buford and Life magazine photographer Robert Capa, killed later that month, were the only Americans to die in the conflict that doomed French colonialism in Indochina and set the stage for Vietnam's "American war" a decade later.

The death of swashbuckling "Earthquake McGoon" was big news in 1954, and his grinning face was splashed across newspapers and magazines.

Yet most details remained shrouded for decades in Cold War secrecy, especially the fact that the pilots' airline, Civil Air Transport, or CAT, was owned by the Central Intelligence Agency.

But this month, after numerous delays, a 10-member team from the Hawaii-based Joint Task Force-Full Accounting, assisted by Laotian officials and hired workers, began excavating the site of three suspected graves near the Laotian village of Ban Sot.

Any remains found will go to the Army's Central Identification Laboratory Hawaii, for forensic study and identification, a process that could take months. The lab directs Joint Task Force-Full Accounting search operations, providing experts to its field teams.

Slowed by intermittent bad weather, the Laos search began by yielding only bits of wreckage and flight-suit remnants, U.S. officials said.

Pho Sai, a Laotian Foreign Ministry official for U.S. affairs, said the chances of finding human remains appeared slim after so many years.


James 'Earthquake McGoon' McGovern


"We are praying for them and helping them find the bones," Pho Sai told Associated Press in Bangkok by telephone.

"As Buddhists, we believe that if they find the bones or any part of the body and take them home, it would help the victim's loved ones feel at peace."

The Americans' supporting role at Dien Bien Phu was "never a security issue," even before the widely publicized crash, says Felix Smith, a retired Civil Air Transport pilot and friend of McGovern. "The only factor that was secret was that the CIA owned CAT, lock, stock and barrel."

After a French officer learned from Ban Sot villagers in 1959 about three graves in the area, CIA officials stifled his report.

"They indicated in a vague way that they feared a lawsuit if they gave the relatives false information ... therefore, no one notified McGovern's or Buford's relatives," Smith said.

By the time the French report was discovered by a private historian years later, some family members had died or moved.

Diplomatic agreements in 1992 enabled the United States to finally begin searching in earnest for some 2,000 Americans still missing in Indochina.


C-119 Flying Boxcars such as this one were lent to the French for both mobility and attack. Most of the aircrews flying these aircraft were Americans—some military advisors, some civilians. (Photo by Edgar Burts)


By that time, the CIA had begun declassifying some files from the 1950s era, including material on its role in French Indochina.

In 1999, McGovern's brother John, of Hawley, Pa., called it "ridiculous ... a joke" that secrecy had been maintained for so many years.

The "McGoon" case came to light again in October 1997, when a JTF-FA team investigating an unrelated crash near Ban Sot saw an old C-119 propeller in the village.

It was assumed to be French, until William Forsyth, the agency's top researcher, heard about "McGoon" from a former pilot and dug out old news clippings about the Dien Bien Phu crash.

A year later, Forsyth, whose specialty is aerial photo analysis, spotted three "probable graves" in a 1961 photo of the Ban Sot area.

But with Vietnam War MIAs taking precedence, Army forensic and task force officials moved Case 3036 to the back burner with other "Cold War losses."

There it stayed until a group of ex-CAT pilots, led by Felix Smith, launched a letter-writing campaign and lobbied Congress and former intelligence officials to have the case upgraded for immediate action.

Retired spy Dudley Foster, who once served in a liaison role with Civil Air Transport, persuaded CIA Director George Tenet to back the effort.


McGovern and Buford disappeared while flying a C-119 "flying boxcar" like this one.


With Case 3036 given new priority, task force investigators revisited Ban Sot, where last July they interviewed four witnesses who had seen the 1954 crash, and three who pointed out burial sites.

John McGovern, a sportswriter and publicist who died last December, said in 1999 that his older brother had become hooked on aviation as a boy in Elizabeth, N.J.

"I didn't know what I wanted to be, but all he ever talked about was becoming a pilot," he said.

Arriving in China in 1944, James McGovern joined the 14th Air Force's "Tiger Shark" squadron, descended from the famed Flying Tigers volunteer group.

He was credited with shooting down four Japanese Zero fighters and destroying five on the ground, Smith said.

At war's end in 1945, Maj. Gen. Claire Chennault, founder of both the Flying Tigers and the 14th Air Force, recruited McGovern and other ex-pilots for his next enterprise, a commercial airline called Civil Air Transport.

Under contract to Chiang Kai-Shek's Nationalist government, the airline flew civilian and military missions during China's civil war and evacuated thousands of refugees to Taiwan before the communist victory in 1949.

At 260 pounds, the ex-fighter pilot liked the roomier cockpits of CAT's war-surplus C-46 transports, but still sometimes used a wicker chair instead of the standard pilot's seat.

A saloon owner in China dubbed him "Earthquake McGoon," the name of a hulking hillbilly character in the popular "Li'l Abner" strip.

"It didn't bother him. He was a character himself, and I think he thrived on it," John McGovern said.

Smith, who once shared a house with McGovern, said he was "a real big-hearted guy," but not the "wild man" some reports implied. "He was a bon vivant, happy-go-lucky. He loved kids, and he was the guy who in a tense situation would come out with some joke."

The "McGoon" legend was assured by an episode in which he ran out of fuel, made an emergency night landing in a riverbed and was captured by Chinese communist troops.

When McGovern turned up safe six months later, other pilots joked that his captors "got tired of feeding him." But Smith said McGovern had argued his way out.

"He told them, 'You keep saying you're going to release me but you haven't, so I don't believe anything you say. You're liars.' Then they let him go."

Civil Air Transport moved to Taiwan in 1949 and a year later was secretly acquired by the CIA, which continued its commercial service as a cover for clandestine activities in East Asia.

In 1953, France asked the Eisenhower administration for help fighting a communist rebellion in colonial Indochina.

Soon, CAT was there, flying supply missions with French insignia painted over the company logo.

Wally Buford, who had flown B-24 bombers during World War II and C-119s in Korea, was studying for an engineering degree in 1953 when he saw a notice that the government was seeking experienced C-119 pilots, and he signed up.

"He wanted to fly," recalls his brother, Roger Buford, a retired engineer in Kansas City, Kan.

A year later, McGovern and Buford were among two dozen Americans who earned up to $3,000 a month, big money in those days, airdropping supplies to the besieged French garrison at Dien Bien Phu.



On May 6, 1954, their Flying Boxcar, carrying a parachute-rigged artillery piece, was riddled by anti-aircraft fire as it neared the tiny drop zone. "I've got a direct hit," other pilots heard "McGoon" say.

With one engine afire, "McGoon" nursed the aircraft another 75 miles southward, into Laos. Approaching 4,000-foot mountains, he radioed fellow C-119 pilot Steve Kusak for help in finding level ground.

"Turn right," said Kusak, who then heard McGovern's last transmission, moments before the crash.

The Geneva Accords later that year divided Vietnam into north and south. Civil Air Transport eventually became Air America, the CIA airline that flew in Laos and Vietnam.

At latest count, 1,903 Americans are still "unaccounted for" in Indochina, according to Joint Task Force-Full Accounting and Central Identification Laboratory Hawaii. McGovern and Buford are among 36 civilians on the list.

While both pilots are Air Force veterans eligible for military burials, Roger Buford plans to bury his brother's remains in the family plot in Kansas City. "We've been fighting this thing for about five years," he said. "We want him back."

The McGovern family and Smith's group hope to have "Earthquake" interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

John McGovern's son, James, of Perth Amboy, N.J., said his father, as a World War II recipient of the Purple Heart, was eligible for Arlington but did not wish to be buried there.

"He never said it, but I feel he was concerned that if he was buried at Arlington, it might take a space away from his brother," James said.

enter>Thanks to FReeper StayAt HomeMother for suggesting this thread


TOPICS: VetsCoR
KEYWORDS: airamerica; c119; civilairtransport; dienbenphu; earthquakemcgoon; freeperfoxhole; frenchindochina; jamesmcgovern; veterans
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Civil Air Transport


The French Indochina War (1946-1954) presaged the calamitous Vietnam War (1964-1975) that has scarred America’s memory. The first American to die in what was then known as French Indochina was an OSS officer, LTC Peter Dewey. However, the first American airmen to die in combat in Vietnam were civilian volunteers secretly employed by of the Central Intelligence Agency. They were pilots of a civilian Far East-based airline named Civil Air Transport (CAT).

Major General Claire Lee Chennault and Whiting Willauer founded CAT in 1946 in China. General Chennault was the legendary World War II commander of the famed “American Volunteer Group,” better known as the “Flying Tigers.” In late 1950 the CIA secretly purchased CAT and used it as its proprietary airline to undertake countless covert missions throughout the Asia and elsewhere, all the while providing routine cargo and passenger air services by day.

French Indochina


In an effort to gain access to resource-rich Southeast Asia countries commonly referred to as Indochina, France established a colonial presence during the 1860s. Their colonial reign was interrupted by Japan’s occupation of Indochina in 1941. At the end of World War II France sought to reestablish its control in Indochina. The spread of nationalistic sentiment fueled the rise of communism throughout the region. This made it necessary for France to maintain a large military presence in Indochina to combat the Viet Minh communists headed by Ho Chi Minh. Initially the French forces were successful because they were better equipped and had total air superiority. U.S. foreign policy at the time called for “containment” of communism in Asia by providing money, supplies and materiel to our allies. The U.S. government funded an estimated 80 percent of the cost of the French Indochina War.

http://images8.fotki.com/v155/photos/1/133612/1858353/map-vi.jpg Following the 1949 defeat of General Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist Chinese government by the communist forces led by Mao Tse-tung, the balance of military power in French Indochina tilted abruptly. The People’s Republic of China helped set the stage for victory over the French Union Forces. They supplied the Viet Minh with vast amounts of weaponry, ammunition and training, as well as American weapons captured during the Korean War. The Chinese government provided military advisors plus countless laborers to move the weapons and war materiel from China’s border to the battle site. They also provided a battle-tested regiment of anti-aircraft gunners.

Pressure on the hard-pressed French military and civilian air transport capacity grew early in 1953 when the Viet Minh invaded Laos. The French military establishment called upon President Dwight Eisenhower for additional assistance. In turn, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles contacted his brother, Allen Dulles, the newly appointed Director of Central Intelligence. DCI Dulles arranged for CAT pilots, now secretly working for the CIA, to fly Fairchild C-119’s, also known as “Flying Boxcars.” To create deniability the USAF transport aircraft were painted with French Air Force markings. During “Operation SQUAW” a dozen CAT pilots transported tons of materiel and supplies to French forces in Laos.

Dien Bien Phu


In late 1953, the French military command in Indochina decided to challenge the Viet Minh deep within enemy-held territory. The site selected was Dien Bien Phu, a cluster of sleepy villages in a broad valley close to the Lao border. Tall mountains surround Dien Bien Phu. The military planners were confident that with their superior firepower and an aerial lifeline they would prevail against their weaker enemy. They believed a set-piece artillery battle would draw out the enemy and they could destroy the Viet Minh once and for all. “Operation Castor” began when French paratroopers were dropped into Dien Bien Phu in November of 1953. Eventually some 15,000 French Union Forces established a series of nine interlocking outposts rumored to be named after mistresses of the French commanding general. The French quickly set to work to improve the airfield and fortifications. The USAF trained French military and civilian pilots in the operation of the C-119s as well as trained ground crews in the maintenance of the aircraft.



General Vo Nguyen Giap, the Viet Minh military commander, countered by covertly moving hundreds of artillery pieces, rocket launchers, mortars and anti-aircraft batteries onto key heights looking down on the French outposts in the valley below. It was a gargantuan, backbreaking task requiring the effort of tens of thousands of laborers. Somehow they manhandled the heavy artillery pieces and ammunition from the PRC border to the mountaintops surrounding the battlefield. When Giap’s forces were in place, his heavy guns outnumbered the French by four to one. In addition, his 50,000-man army and legions of laborers dug trenches closer and closer to the French perimeter and even dug tunnels under some positions.

The Siege


Before the siege began in earnest the French command came to realize the vulnerable position they were in. They turned to the U.S. for additional tactical air support. President Eisenhower was reluctant to commit America’s military forces so soon following the recent cease-fire in Korea. There was also a real concern overt U.S. tactical air support would trigger the introduction of the PRC’s aircraft into the war.

A compromise was reached. An enhanced aerial re-supply operation code-named “Operation SQUAW II” was created. The CIA tasked CAT to assist the French civilian and French Air Force pilots to drop supplies to the French Union forces. Thirty-seven CAT pilots volunteered to fly these hazardous missions. The Americans were based out of the French airbase Cat Bi near Haiphong. They flew 682 sorties between March 13 and May 6, 1954.

Operation SQUAW II coincided with the communist offensive. On March 13 Giap launched a devastating artillery barrage against the French encampments. This effectively shut down the landing strip at Dien Bien Phu. With the advantage of the high ground, the superior Viet Minh firepower inflicted devastating damage. Buttressed by a PLA antiaircraft regiment, the Viet Minh were able to neutralize effective aerial re-supply of the French encampments. Giap followed with wave after wave of relentless mass ground attacks like those used by the Chinese forces during the brutal Korean War. The French and CAT pilots braved the deadly anti-aircraft fire and airdropped supplies. Additional brave French Union paratroopers volunteered to join the fray. In the end their efforts proved futile. Thirteen French transport pilots died during the battle of Dien Bien Phu. Two Americans lost their lives. More than 200 French and American aircraft were damaged or destroyed during the brutal siege.



On the afternoon of May 6, 1954, six CAT C-119s departed Cat Bi airbase for Dien Bien Phu. A C-119 flown by James “Earthquake McGoon” McGovern and Wallace Buford were slated to drop desperately needed ammunition to the beleaguered French paratroopers holding out at an encampment named Isabelle. As they approached the drop zone the port engine sustained damage by a 37-mm anti-aircraft round; a second burst damaged the horizontal stabilizer, both seriously impairing the crew’s ability to maintain level flight.

Guided by Steve Kusak and Al Pope in the lead aircraft, McGovern and Buford struggled for 40 minutes to keep their aircraft aloft long enough to attempt an emergency landing at a remote emergency landing strip near Muong Het in neighboring Laos. Tragically, just a few hundred yards short of their destination, a wing tip clipped a tree. The aircraft cart wheeled, broke in half and burned. A young French Army officer, Lieutenant Jean Arlaux, and a Malay paratrooper were the sole survivors of the crash landing. The paratrooper later died from wounds he sustained. Two other French paratroopers, Bataille and Rescorio, also perished in the crash.


Dien Bien Phu fell on May 7, 1954, and the defeated French left Indochina shortly thereafter. Here, captured French soldiers trudge through the fields after the surrender at Dien Bien Phu. (AP photo/Vietnam News Agency)


The two pilots, McGovern and Buford, perished and thus became the first American aviators to die in combat in Vietnam. The French garrison surrendered the next day.

Soon after the fall of Dien Bien Phu, French and Viet Minh representatives negotiated the end of hostilities. Ten years later the U.S. military will face General Giap in Vietnam. Following in the footsteps of CAT, Air America was to demonstrate the same esprit de corp as the Dien Bien Phu pilots personified.

1 posted on 02/16/2005 10:03:13 PM PST by SAMWolf
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To: snippy_about_it; PhilDragoo; Johnny Gage; Victoria Delsoul; The Mayor; Darksheare; Valin; ...
CAT PILOTS TO BE HONORED BY FRANCE
France’s Highest Military Honor Awarded Fifty Years After Epic Indochina Battle


On February 24, 2005, the Government of France will honor the seven surviving American civilian pilots who voluntarily flew many hazardous supply missions to the besieged French Expeditionary Forces gallantly holding out at Dien Bien Phu (North Vietnam). Fifty years after their valiant service in support of their French comrades, these Americans will receive France’s highest military and civilian honor, “Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur” (Knight’s version). The “Legion of Honor,” created by Napoleon Bonaparte, dates back to 1802.



The presentation ceremony will take place at the official residence of the French Ambassador to the United States in Washington D.C. His Excellency Jean-David Levitte will present the Legion d’Honneur to the former pilots in a formal presentation. Family members will accompany the pilots to the ceremony. U.S. Government officials and other distinguished guests have been invited to witness this historic occasion.

Honoree Pilots:

CAT Pilots Deceased During* or After Dien Bien Phu

* Indicates killed in action during Dien Bien Phu support mission.

Additional Sources:

www.deniskitchen.com
www.air-america.org
www.afa.org
www.campbell.edu
www.aeroplaneart.com.au
www.web-birds.com

2 posted on 02/16/2005 10:04:01 PM PST by SAMWolf (My cow died so I don't need your bull anymore.)
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To: All
Earthquake McGoon


<


The bearded and barrel-chested EARTHQUAKE McGOON billed himself as "the world's dirtiest wrassler." He first appeared in "Li'l Abner" as a traveling exhibition wrestler in the late '30s and became increasingly prominent when early television gave exposure to gimmicky wrestlers such as Gorgeous George and greatly enhanced the popularity of professional wrestling. McGoon is one of the very few secondary characters to make an appearance in both the 1940 Li'l Abner movie and the 1950's Broadway musical. In the latter (minus the beard) he comes close to marrying Daisy Mae.

3 posted on 02/16/2005 10:04:40 PM PST by SAMWolf (My cow died so I don't need your bull anymore.)
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To: All


Veterans for Constitution Restoration is a non-profit, non-partisan educational and grassroots activist organization. The primary area of concern to all VetsCoR members is that our national and local educational systems fall short in teaching students and all American citizens the history and underlying principles on which our Constitutional republic-based system of self-government was founded. VetsCoR members are also very concerned that the Federal government long ago over-stepped its limited authority as clearly specified in the United States Constitution, as well as the Founding Fathers' supporting letters, essays, and other public documents.





Actively seeking volunteers to provide this valuable service to Veterans and their families.




We here at Blue Stars For A Safe Return are working hard to honor all of our military, past and present, and their families. Inlcuding the veterans, and POW/MIA's. I feel that not enough is done to recognize the past efforts of the veterans, and remember those who have never been found.

I realized that our Veterans have no "official" seal, so we created one as part of that recognition. To see what it looks like and the Star that we have dedicated to you, the Veteran, please check out our site.

Veterans Wall of Honor

Blue Stars for a Safe Return


UPDATED THROUGH APRIL 2004




The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul

Click on Hagar for
"The FReeper Foxhole Compiled List of Daily Threads"



LINK TO FOXHOLE THREADS INDEXED by PAR35

4 posted on 02/16/2005 10:05:05 PM PST by SAMWolf (My cow died so I don't need your bull anymore.)
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To: SAMWolf; StayAt HomeMother

Thanks SAHM for the suggestion and thanks Sam for the work. Keep those ideas coming folks, we need all the help we can get. Our brains are tired. ;-)


5 posted on 02/16/2005 10:11:23 PM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: SafeReturn; Brad's Gramma; AZamericonnie; SZonian; soldierette; shield; A Jovial Cad; ...



"FALL IN" to the FReeper Foxhole!



Good Thursday Morning Everyone.

If you want to be added to our ping list, let us know.

If you'd like to drop us a note you can write to:

The Foxhole
19093 S. Beavercreek Rd. #188
Oregon City, OR 97045

6 posted on 02/16/2005 10:12:34 PM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: snippy_about_it; SAMWolf; All

"HELL IN A VERY SMALL PLACE" bump for the Freeper Foxhole

Only one and a half nights left

Regards

alfa6 ;>}


7 posted on 02/16/2005 10:13:53 PM PST by alfa6
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To: snippy_about_it

Supporting our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, and Coast Guardsmen at more than 1,000 places across the U. S. and around the world.

Brad Fletcher~To All Our Mothers Children

I am constantly amazed at the work that goes into this thread. Bump for reading tomorrow.


8 posted on 02/16/2005 10:15:38 PM PST by AZamericonnie
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To: snippy_about_it; SAMWolf
Hello to all of the foxhole crew! I just wanted to stop by and say thank you to all of our veterans and their families for all they have given us.


9 posted on 02/16/2005 10:19:08 PM PST by Diva Betsy Ross (Just say no to the ACLU!)
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To: snippy_about_it; SAMWolf; StayAt HomeMother

What a GREAT article! Thanks!


10 posted on 02/16/2005 11:47:19 PM PST by Diver Dave (Stay Prayed Up)
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To: snippy_about_it; bentfeather; Samwise; msdrby
Good morning ladies. Flag-o-Gram.


Letting the folks know WASHINGTON -- An Army and Air Force Hometown News Service team interviews 1st Lieutenant Christina Moore after a U.S. Air Force Band rehearsal Jan. 5, 2005. The Band at Bolling AFB, D.C., is practicing extensively for upcoming ceremonies during the 55th Presidential Inauguration Jan. 20. Lieutenant Moore is the band's flight commander, and the team is from San Antonio. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey)

Strike up the bandleader size

11 posted on 02/17/2005 12:56:00 AM PST by Professional Engineer (Hung 'round Free Republic, then it was time for a change...)
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To: snippy_about_it
Good morning Snippy.


12 posted on 02/17/2005 2:05:08 AM PST by Aeronaut (You haven't seen a tree until you've seen its shadow from the sky. -- Amelia Earhart)
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To: SAMWolf
We lost some real men over there.

I like the lead photo. I like his "Looks like this is it, son." I'll bet he did not sound excited.

The early C-119s had Wright R-3350s, the number two biggest radial after the Pratt R-4360. The number is cubic inches displacement.

The C-119s when loaded were called "flying coffins", according to my father who often flew in them. Loosing an engine while loaded was very bad news. A C-119 website by an old C-119 pilot talks about this: "a C-119 on one engine carrying a load like that (a replacement engine for an out of commission C-119, maybe 5,000 pounds) had the flight characteristics of an anvil." McGoon was a good pilot.

http://stripe.colorado.edu/~steinerd/C-119.html
13 posted on 02/17/2005 2:06:57 AM PST by Iris7 (.....to protect the Constitution from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. Same bunch, anyway.)
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To: snippy_about_it

I like the photo of your store posted a few days ago. Those windows and the natural light are going to help. The stock is attractively laid out.

I don't know a thing about advertising to bird feeders, or whatever the correct name is. Wish I could help, got two kids in college and another in two years.

A story you might like:

A short distance away from the place where a young medic named Petrarca was dying, the 148th Infantry Regiment was making a sweep along the north flank of the Japanese fortifications. A 20-man patrol was sent out under a lieutenant and Platoon Sergeant Walter Rigby early in the morning, working its way along a seemingly deserted trail that was heavily overgrown. The patrol was well into the enemy held area, perhaps as much as a mile forward of the rest of the American force. Among the young enlisted men who followed Sergeant Rigby deeper and deeper into the fortress of the enemy was his boyhood friend, Private Rodger Young.

It was nearing 4:00 in the afternoon when the lieutenant began withdrawing his platoon, hoping to return to the Company B bivouac area before darkness set in. As the patrol moved silently down the trail, high above them five Japanese soldiers monitored their movement from a well-concealed machinegun nest. The well placed enemy position gave the Japanese a commanding view of the trail, and they held their fire until the patrol was well into the open and only a short distance in front of the muzzle of their guns. Then they opened fire.

Two soldiers fell dead in the initial volley, as the remaining eighteen men dug frantically for cover. Above them the enemy soldiers held down the trigger of their machinegun, pouring unrelenting death on Sergeant Rigby and his men.

The lieutenant attempted a mass maneuver to remove his men from danger. It was an utter failure, and two more Americans fell to the deadly fire. All the sixteen survivors could do was press their bodies to the earth and pray. They were trapped from above, unable to move, and darkness would set in before long. "We didn't know how we were going to get out - we were surrounded by the Japanese," Private William Ridenour later recalled. "We were all in a semi-circle, and we lit up our ammunition. We had to burn it up. That's one of the lessons you learn, not to leave any ammunition for the enemy to use on you."

Sergeant Rigby did his best to rally his men, but it was heart-rending. "We (had) walked right into a trap," he remembered. In the opening moments, four young men from his home-town area had fallen. Unlike the regular Army, when a National Guard unit goes into war, a company or a platoon is often heavily made up of a group of young men who all come from the same city or region.

As the young NCO struggled to carry out his orders: "We had been ordered to burn our rations when we were told to withdraw," he noticed movement from another of his hometown soldiers. It was his boyhood friend, Private Rodger Young.

"Rodger was bound and determined to get that Japanese machine gun. In his position he had to know he was going to get killed. When I gave the order to retreat, I saw one of the boys beside him poke him with a stick and tell him to draw back but he had his sight on that pillbox and started after it."

Inching forward, his rifle cradled in his arms, the young private with the thick glasses had come to another of those tough choices in his life. As he slithered past the lieutenant, the officer reached out to try and stop him by grabbing his leg. Roger shook himself free and pushed on. The Japanese saw the flicker of movement and loosed a volley of fire in that direction, one round singing the lieutenant's hand and causing him to pull it back. Rodger Young continued crawling forward.

"Come back here!" The Lieutenant shouted. "It's suicide." The young private ignored the lieutenant's concern. If someone didn't knock out that enemy gun, the entire patrol would probably die. "Come back Private Young....THAT'S an ORDER!" The lieutenant shouted again.

For a moment the young private paused, turned to look back at his lieutenant....and smiled. "I'm sorry sir," he said. Then he smiled again. "You know sir, I don't hear very well." And then Rodger Young turned away from his lieutenant to continue crawling forward.

From their vantage point the enemy could see the movement of the grass as the American soldier crawled towards them, and unleashed the full fury of their machinegun. The other 15 men of Young's patrol returned fire, hoping to keep the enemy gunners pinned down as their friend and comrade continued his intrepid advance.

A sudden blow struck Private Young in the shoulder, rendering his left arm useless. The same round shattered the stock of his rifle, and he left it along with the trail of blood that marked his painful progress as he continued to crawl determinedly forward. Miraculously he was getting closer to his goal, when another stream of enemy fire raked the left side of his body from thigh to ankle. "Stay where you are," the lieutenant shouted above the din of battle. "We'll get you out somehow!" Rodger just shook his head.

The pain must have been unbearable, but it couldn't deter him. As always, Rodger Young had more HEART than body, and today his heart would carry him. Five yards from the enemy position, Rodger Young had dropped his shattered body into a depression in the ground deep enough to place him below the muzzle of the machinegun. Slowly, painfully, he used his good right hand to reach down and pull a grenade from his belt and raise it to his face. With his teeth he pulled the safety ring, released the lever and rose to his feet. Fifteen feet directly in front of the machinegun, there was no hope for the young man from Green Springs, Ohio. The full force of the automatic weapon caught him full in the face. But Rodger Young, even in death, had more heart than body. As his thick glasses imploded upon his young face, and moments before his 5'2" body slumped to the ground, he mustered the strength to throw the grenade. It was a throw that would have made any athlete proud, strong and true...destroying the enemy position and saving the lives of his comrades, including his boyhood friend, Sergeant Rigby.



It was after nightfall when the fifteen survivors of Sergeant Rigby's patrol finally reached the Company B bivouac area. Between them they carried a heavy burden wrapped in ponchos, the bodies of five hometown boys of the Ohio National Guard.

The company commander sat down and wrote letters home to the mothers of five young Americans who had given everything they had in the defense of freedom. That completed, he began writing a special report on one of them. It was the recommendation for the Medal of Honor, to be awarded posthumously to Private Rodger Young. In the recommendation he included the sentence, "Disregarding the orders of his platoon leader to come back, Rodger Young moved forward into the face of enemy fire."

The commander of the 148th Regiment reviewed the recommendation, and approved it with one minor change. He altered the previous sentence to say, "Not hearing the orders of his platoon leader to come back, Rodger Young moved forward into the face of enemy fire."

No one in his regiment disobeyed orders.

http://www.homeofheroes.com/profiles/profiles_young.html


14 posted on 02/17/2005 2:19:28 AM PST by Iris7 (.....to protect the Constitution from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. Same bunch, anyway.)
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To: SAMWolf; snippy_about_it; bentfeather; Darksheare; Light Speed; PhilDragoo; Matthew Paul; All
Good morning to all who visit the Foxhole!

To all our military men and women past and present, military family members, and to our allies who stand beside us
Thank You!


15 posted on 02/17/2005 2:21:23 AM PST by radu (May God watch over our troops and keep them safe)
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To: Diver Dave; SwinneySwitch

Credit where credit is due: I got the idea for this thread from SwinneySwitch's thread at http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1344000/posts:

Covert U.S. aviators to get French award for heroism
Associated Press ^ | 02/15/2005 | Robert Burns

Posted on 02/15/2005 7:37:28 PM EST by SwinneySwitch

Allen L. Pope risked life and limb to fly CIA supply missions in 1954 to besieged French forces in what is now Vietnam. But the thing he recounts most vividly is not the danger he faced. It's the bravery of the French troops.

"They never raised the white flag," he says. "There were men without hands, men without legs, men without feet, men that were blinded. They were catching hell."

They caught it at Dien Bien Phu, a cluster of villages in a valley ringed by mountains near the Laotian border. Communist rebels on higher ground pummeled the French with artillery in an epic battle that marked the end of French colonial rule in Indochina and foreshadowed the U.S. experience in Vietnam.

Next week, nearly 51 years after the fall of Dien Bien Phu, the seven surviving American pilots who braved those perilous skies — but later were essentially disowned by the CIA — will be awarded the Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur, or Legion of Honor, France's highest award for service.

Among them are Willis P. Hobbs, 82, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who is originally from Arthur City, Texas, a tiny town in Lamar County. Another of the pilots is Roland N. Duke, 81, of Rockport, Texas. Duke is originally from Washington, D.C.

Six of the seven will gather at the official residence of French Ambassador Jean-David Levitte for a ceremony to commemorate an important chapter in the history of U.S.-French relations.

"It's a nice gesture on their part," says Douglas R. Price, a Rockville Centre, N.Y., native who was 29 years old when he flew 39 airdrop missions to Dien Bien Phu in April and May 1954 as a civilian employee of Civil Air Transport, a flying service whose undeclared owner was the CIA.

"There has been a lot of friction between the governments lately," he said, alluding to the leading role France played in opposing the Bush administration's decision to go to war in Iraq. "Maybe they're making a gesture, hoping that they can get things back together again."

The gesture will exceed any public thanks these now-elderly Americans have received from their own government, which sent them into harm's way in unarmed C-119 "Flying Boxcar" cargo planes with the understanding that if captured or killed they would not be acknowledged as agents of the U.S. government.

"I was a covert employee. We were expendable," says Roy F. Watts, a native of Colville, Wash., who now lives in Callao, Va. He unsuccessfully sued the government for extended disability and retirement benefits based on his 16 years of flying covert missions in Asia for the CIA.

The CIA argues that the men technically were not government employees since they worked for a CIA front company.

The CIA has not specifically honored the 37 pilots who flew the Dien Bien Phu missions, although in June 2001 the spy agency issued a Unit Citation Award in recognition of all who served with Civil Air Transport and its secret successor, Air America, which ended operations in 1976.

William M. Leary, a retired University of Georgia history professor who has written extensively about covert CIA air operations in Asia, says the French Legion of Honor was well earned.

"The pilots of Civil Air Transport flew a variety of deeply covert and often hazardous missions for the CIA, sometimes at the cost of their lives," Leary says. "They were the true secret soldiers of the Cold War."

It was a private citizen, Erik Kirzinger, of Madison, N.C., who initially suggested the French gesture. His uncle, Norman Schwartz, was a Civil Air Transport pilot who died when his C-47 aircraft was shot down over China in November 1952 while on a secret transport mission for the CIA.

In September 2003, Kirzinger wrote to Levitte, the French ambassador in Washington.

"France needed help and the United States didn't ignore your call," he wrote. "In today's politically charged climate it is important to bear in mind that there have been times when our two great countries have been there for each other, and no doubt will be there again in the future."

Only two of the 37 pilots who flew those resupply missions into Dien Bien Phu were killed in action. They were James B. "Earthquake McGoon" McGovern, and co-pilot Wallace A. Buford — the first Americans killed in combat in Vietnam. Their C-119 cargo plane was approaching Dien Bien Phu on May 6, 1954 when it was hit by ground fire and crash-landed in neighboring Laos.

All these years later, it may be hard to fully appreciate what motivated men like Allen Pope, then 25 years old, to risk all in support of a French war in a faraway land that most Americans could not locate on a map.

For Pope, the now 76-year-old pilot whose memory of Dien Bien Phu is seared by gruesome images of wounded French troops, the motivation for joining France's fight is easily explained.

"I'm a communist fighter. I was born and raised to be against the communists," he says.


16 posted on 02/17/2005 3:57:10 AM PST by StayAt HomeMother
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To: snippy_about_it

Good morning


17 posted on 02/17/2005 4:11:29 AM PST by GailA (Glory be to GOD and his only son Jesus.)
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To: snippy_about_it; SAMWolf; All

February 17, 2005

"Godhelp"

Read:
Psalm 32

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. -Psalm 32:1

Bible In One Year: Numbers 1-3

cover A man arrested for the murder of a 12-year-old girl was also suspected of other killings. When police searched his computer, they found a file labeled "My Sins," but it couldn't be opened because it was protected with a password. A computer expert went to work using software to break the code. After 16 hours and billions of combinations, he found this password: "Godhelp." The file detailed six brutal crimes, including rape and murder.

I wonder if that man had created the file and its unique password because of the overwhelming burden of guilt for what he had done. Perhaps he knew that only God could help him deal with the enormity of his crimes.

We all have past sins that weigh us down. We may feel as David did when he wrote that God's hand was heavy upon him day and night and that his "vitality was turned into the drought of summer" (Psalm 32:4). Yet relief can come. David said, "I acknowledged my sin to You . . . . I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,' and You forgave the iniquity of my sin" (v.5).

The miracle of God's forgiveness does not remove the consequences of our sins. But when we confess our sins to Him, He will forgive us and cleanse us (1 John 1:9). His mercy and help are sure. -David McCasland

Lord, give me courage to confess,
To bare my sinful heart to Thee;
Thy full forgiveness I would know
And from this weight of guilt be free. -D. De Haan

When God forgives, He removes the sin and restores the sinner.

FOR FURTHER STUDY
The Forgiveness Of God

18 posted on 02/17/2005 5:00:00 AM PST by The Mayor (<a href="http://www.RusThompson.com">http://www.RusThompson.com</a>)
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To: Iris7; SAMWolf; snippy_about_it

The story of Rodger Young was profiled on TV in the mid 1960's. The show was on CBS, 24 January 1964. James MacArthur played Rodger Young. There are a number of screen shots at the link.

http://www.jmdigitalscrapbook.com/GARodgerYoung/Rodger.shtml

One more bit of Rodger Young trivia, for lack of a better word. The space ship that Juan Rico, the hero of Heinlien's Starship Tropers, was the Rodger Young.


Maybe material for a thread? Hat tip to Iris7 for the idea, eh :-)

Regards

alfa6 ;>}


19 posted on 02/17/2005 5:15:02 AM PST by alfa6
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To: snippy_about_it

Morning Snippy.


20 posted on 02/17/2005 5:38:31 AM PST by SAMWolf (My cow died so I don't need your bull anymore.)
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To: alfa6

Morning alfa6.

Back on days by the weekend.


21 posted on 02/17/2005 5:40:23 AM PST by SAMWolf (My cow died so I don't need your bull anymore.)
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To: AZamericonnie

Morning AZamericonnie.

Our readers and posters give us a lot of help.


22 posted on 02/17/2005 5:41:19 AM PST by SAMWolf (My cow died so I don't need your bull anymore.)
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To: Diva Betsy Ross

Hi Diva!


23 posted on 02/17/2005 5:41:57 AM PST by SAMWolf (My cow died so I don't need your bull anymore.)
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To: Diver Dave

Morning DD.


24 posted on 02/17/2005 5:45:25 AM PST by SAMWolf (My cow died so I don't need your bull anymore.)
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To: Professional Engineer

Morning PE. You're in early.


25 posted on 02/17/2005 5:46:03 AM PST by SAMWolf (My cow died so I don't need your bull anymore.)
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To: Aeronaut

Good Morning Aeronaut.


26 posted on 02/17/2005 5:46:29 AM PST by SAMWolf (My cow died so I don't need your bull anymore.)
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To: Iris7

Morning Iris7.

I've been wondering how the remake of "Flight of the Phoenix" is, the original was pretty good. To me the airplane was the "star"


27 posted on 02/17/2005 5:48:36 AM PST by SAMWolf (My cow died so I don't need your bull anymore.)
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To: Iris7

Great story Iris7.

P.S. We're learning as we go. One disadvantage with all the windows is trying to clean the insides of them, too much of the side ones are covered by shelving. :-( I'm trying to convince Snippy that a big hose would work. ;-)


28 posted on 02/17/2005 5:52:52 AM PST by SAMWolf (My cow died so I don't need your bull anymore.)
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To: radu

Good Morning Radu.


29 posted on 02/17/2005 5:53:13 AM PST by SAMWolf (My cow died so I don't need your bull anymore.)
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To: StayAt HomeMother; SwinneySwitch

Thanks for passing on the idea.

Good find,SwinneySwitch


30 posted on 02/17/2005 5:55:19 AM PST by SAMWolf (My cow died so I don't need your bull anymore.)
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To: GailA

Hi GailA. Spring still sticking around Memphis?


31 posted on 02/17/2005 5:55:50 AM PST by SAMWolf (My cow died so I don't need your bull anymore.)
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To: The Mayor

Morning Mayor.


32 posted on 02/17/2005 5:56:41 AM PST by SAMWolf (My cow died so I don't need your bull anymore.)
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To: snippy_about_it

Good morning, Snippy and everyone at the Foxhole.


33 posted on 02/17/2005 5:58:06 AM PST by E.G.C.
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To: alfa6

Thanks alfa6. Now I'm wondering if I saw that or not.

Great piece of triva too.

"The Ballad of Rodger Young,"
by Frank Loesser

No, they've got no time for glory in the Infantry.
No, they've got no use for praises loudly sung,
But in every soldier's heart in all the Infantry
Shines the name, shines the name of Rodger Young.

Shines the name--Rodger Young!
Fought and died for the men he marched among.
To the everlasting glory of the Infantry
Lives the story of Private Rodger Young.
Caught in ambush lay a company of riflemen--
Just grenades against machine guns in the gloom--
Caught in ambush till this one of twenty riflemen
Volunteered, volunteered to meet his doom.


Volunteered, Rodger Young!
Fought and died for the men he marched among.
In the everlasting annals of the Infantry
Glows the last deed of Private Rodger Young.
It was he who drew the fire of the enemy
That a company of men might live to fight;
And before the deadly fire of the enemy
Stood the man, stood the man we hail tonight.

On the island of New Georgia in the Solomons,
Stands a simple wooden cross alone to tell
That beneath the silent coral of the Solomons,
Sleeps a man, sleeps a man remembered well.


Sleeps a man, Rodger Young,
Fought and died for the men he marched among.
In the everlasting spirit of the Infantry
Breathes the spirit of Private Rodger Young.
No, they've got no time for glory in the Infantry,
No, they've got no use for praises loudly sung,
But in every soldier's heart in all the Infantry
Shines the name, shines the name of Rodger Young.


Shines the name--Rodger Young!
Fought and died for the men he marched among.
To the everlasting glory of the Infantry
Lives the story of Private Rodger Young.


34 posted on 02/17/2005 6:02:04 AM PST by SAMWolf (My cow died so I don't need your bull anymore.)
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To: E.G.C.

Morning E.G.C.

Here's hoping the winds die down today.


35 posted on 02/17/2005 6:02:48 AM PST by SAMWolf (My cow died so I don't need your bull anymore.)
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To: SAMWolf; snippy_about_it

Dad contuines his recovery from the stomach ailment. He was busy playing with the dog. We're gonna spray the house for fleas and ride out to the lake.


36 posted on 02/17/2005 6:14:45 AM PST by E.G.C.
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To: Iris7
...had the flight characteristics of an anvil.

That's scary. They look very "heavy", very cumbersome. Real men indeed.

37 posted on 02/17/2005 6:42:26 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: Iris7
Rodger Young. A wonderful story, thanks for posting it.

I don't know a thing about advertising to bird feeders, or whatever the correct name is. Wish I could help, got two kids in college and another in two years.

You're a sweetheart. Bird feeders is correct and thanks for the kind offer. We are determined to make it work for us and that alone should make us successful, that and a few prayers. Slow starts in business is normal and expected, we'll be fine. I'm glad you liked the picture of our little place.

38 posted on 02/17/2005 6:51:13 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: alfa6

Good morning or Good night alfa6. I can't keep up with your schedule. LOL. I don't know how you adjust to the sleeping patterns.


39 posted on 02/17/2005 6:52:14 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: AZamericonnie
I am constantly amazed at the work that goes into this thread.

So are we! ;-)

We get lots of helpful ideas, suggestions and support from our readers or we just couldn't go on.

40 posted on 02/17/2005 6:53:32 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: Diva Betsy Ross

Good morning Betsy, thanks for the bump.


41 posted on 02/17/2005 6:53:52 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: Professional Engineer

Whoa. You were up early. "Strike up the bandleader size", lol, you are very clever.


42 posted on 02/17/2005 6:54:37 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: Aeronaut

Good morning Aeronaut.


43 posted on 02/17/2005 6:55:01 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: radu

Hiya radu.


44 posted on 02/17/2005 6:59:17 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: GailA

Good morning Gail. Is the van fixed yet?


45 posted on 02/17/2005 6:59:47 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: snippy_about_it
Thank you Ms. Snips for the awesome threads and the reminders of of all the hard working folks who came before us.


46 posted on 02/17/2005 7:00:23 AM PST by Diva Betsy Ross (Just say no to the ACLU!)
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To: Iris7; alfa6; SAMWolf; snippy_about_it

For about 6 months now, my 'to do' list has included putting together a thread about Pvt Young. With a real interesting tie in.

Dogone O/T is getting in the way now. ;-(


47 posted on 02/17/2005 7:01:45 AM PST by Professional Engineer (Hung 'round Free Republic, then it was time for a change...)
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To: Diver Dave

Good morning DD.


48 posted on 02/17/2005 7:01:52 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: alfa6
Maybe material for a thread?

Sure is.

49 posted on 02/17/2005 7:02:44 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: SAMWolf

Insomnia is NOT my friend. grrrr


50 posted on 02/17/2005 7:03:10 AM PST by Professional Engineer (Hung 'round Free Republic, then it was time for a change...)
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