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The FReeper Foxhole Remembers the Port Chicago Disaster (7/17/1944) - Aug. 17th, 2003 ^

Posted on 08/17/2003 12:00:27 AM PDT by SAMWolf

U.S. Military History, Current Events and Veterans Issues

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Port Chicago
Naval Magazine Explosion,

America was swept into World War II on 7 December 1941. As war in the Pacific expanded, the Naval Ammunition Depot at Mare Island, California, was unable to keep up with the demand for ammunition. Port Chicago, California, located 35 miles north of San Francisco, proved an ideal place for the Navy to expand its munitions facilities.

Construction at Port Chicago began in 1942. By 1944, expansion and improvements to the pier could support the loading of two ships simultaneously. African-American Navy personnel units were assigned to the dangerous work at Port Chicago. Reflecting the racial segregation of the day, the officers of these units were white. The officers and men had received some training in cargo handling, but not in loading munitions. The bulk of their experience came from hands-on experience. Loading went on around the clock. The Navy ordered that proper regulations for working with munitions be followed. But due to tight schedules at the new facility, deviations from these safety standards occurred. A sense of competition developed for the most tonnage loaded in an eight hour shift. As it helped to speed loading, competition was often encouraged.

On the evening of 17 July 1944, the empty merchant ship SS Quinault Victory was prepared for loading on her maiden voyage. The SS E.A. Bryan, another merchant ship, had just returned from her first voyage and was loading across the platform from Quinault Victory. The holds were packed with high explosive and incendiary bombs, depth charges, and ammunition - 4,606 tons of ammunition in all. There were sixteen rail cars on the pier with another 429 tons. Working in the area were 320 cargo handlers, crewmen and sailors.

At 10:18 p.m., a hollow ring and the sound of splintering wood erupted from the pier, followed by an explosion that ripped apart the night sky. Witnesses said that a brilliant white flash shot into the air, accompanied by a loud, sharp report. A column of smoke billowed from the pier, and fire glowed orange and yellow. Flashing like fireworks, smaller explosions went off in the cloud as it rose. Within six seconds, a deeper explosion erupted as the contents of the E.A. Bryan detonated in one massive explosion. The seismic shock wave was felt as far away as Boulder City, Nevada. The E.A. Bryan and the structures around the pier were completely disintegrated. A pillar of fire and smoke stretched over two miles into the sky above Port Chicago. The largest remaining pieces of the 7,200-ton ship were the size of a suitcase. A plane flying at 9,000 feet reported seeing chunks of white hot metal "as big as a house" flying past. The shattered Quinault Victory was spun into the air. Witnesses reported seeing a 200-foot column on which rode the bow of the ship, its mast still attached. Its remains crashed back into the bay 500 feet away.

All 320 men on duty that night were killed instantly. The blast smashed buildings and rail cars near the pier and damaged every building in Port Chicago. People on the base and in town were sent flying or were sprayed with splinters of glass and other debris. The air filled with the sharp cracks and dull thuds of smouldering metal and unexploded shells as they showered back to earth as far as two miles away. The blast caused damage 48 miles across the Bay in San Francisco.

Navy personnel quickly responded to the disaster. Men risked their lives to put out fires that threatened nearby munitions cars. Local emergency crews and civilians rushed to help. In addition to those killed, there were 390 wounded. These people were evacuated and treated, and those who remained were left with the gruesome task of cleaning up. Less than a month after the worst home-front disaster of World War II, Port Chicago was again moving munitions to the troops in the Pacific. The men of Port Chicago were vital to the success of the war. And yet they were often forgotten. Of the 320 men killed in the explosion, 202 were the African-American enlisted men who were assigned the dangerous duty of loading the ships. The explosion at Port Chicago accounted for fifteen percent of all African-American casualties of World War II.

The Armed Forces were a mirror of American society at the time, reflecting the cooperation and dedication of a country. For many people, the explosion on 17 July 1944, became a symbol of what was wrong with American society. The consequences of the explosion would begin to reshape the way the Navy and society thought about our social standards. More importantly, the explosion illustrated the need to prevent another tragedy like this one.

The tremendous danger and importance of the work, while not always recognized by the public, was always present in the minds of the men of Port Chicago. The Marines, Coast Guard and civilian employees knew of the danger, but none as vividly as the Merchant Marine crew and the Naval Armed Guard of the ships and the men serving on the loading docks.

In 1944, the Navy did not have a clear definition of how munitions should best be loaded. The dangerous work on the piers at Port Chicago and other Navy facilities was done by the men of the ordnance battalions. These men, like their officers, had received very little training in cargo handling, let alone working with high explosives.

Coast Guard instructions, published in 1943, were often violated as it was felt that they were not safe or fast enough for Port Chicago's specific circumstances. The men on the pier were experimenting with and developing procedures which they felt were safer and faster.

After the explosion, the Navy would institute a number of changes in munitions handling procedure. Formalized training would be an important element, and certification would be required before a loader was allowed on the docks. The munitions themselves would be redesigned for safety while loading.

Port Chicago would also lead people to examine their society. There was growing resentment toward the policies of racial segregation throughout the nation. The Navy opened its ranks to African-Americans in 1942, but men served in segregated units supervised by white officers, and opportunities for advancement were extremely limited. The men assigned to the ordnance battalion were African American.

The explosion had shaken all of the men, but especially those surviving men who worked on the pier. Of the 320 men killed, almost 2/3 were African-American from the ordnance battalion. What had been minor grievances and problems before the explosion began to boil as apprehension of returning to the piers grew. On 9 August, less than one month after the explosion, the surviving men, who had experienced the horror, were to begin loading munitions, this time at Mare Island. They told their officers that they would obey any other order, but not that one.

Of the 328 men of the ordnance battalion, 258 African-American sailors refused to load ammunition. In the end, 208 faced summary courts-martial and were sentenced to bad conduct discharges and the forfeit of three month's pay for disobeying orders. The remaining 50 were singled out for general courts martial on the grounds of mutiny. The sentence could have been death, but they received between eight and fifteen years at hard labor after a trial which a 1994 review had strong racial overtones. Soon after the war, in January 1946, all of the men were given clemency and an opportunity for an honorable discharge. On 23 December 1999, President William Clinton pardoned Freddie Meeks of Los Angeles, one of the few still living members of the original 50.

The explosion and later mutiny proceedings would help illustrate the costs of racial discrimination and fuel public criticism. By 1945, as the Navy worked toward desegregation, some mixed units appeared. When President Harry Truman called for the Armed Forces to be desegregated in 1948, the Navy could honestly say that Port Chicago had been a very important step in that process.

Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial is administered by the National Park Service and the United States Navy. It honors the memory of those who gave their lives and were injured in the explosion on 17 July 1944, recognizes those who served at the magazine, and commemorates the role of the facility during World War II.

KEYWORDS: california; freeperfoxhole; mutiny; portchicago; usnavy; veterans; wwii
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Port Chicago Disaster - July 17, 1944

During World War II, one of the sources of ammunition for the Pacific Theater was the Naval Ammunition Depot at Port Chicago, California. Port Chicago is located on an arm of San Francisco Bay about 30 miles northeast of Oakland and San Francisco. The town of Port Chicago, population 1,500, was located about 1.5 miles from the pier. Not far away was Vallejo's Mare Island, a major Naval Base which included ammunition depots.

Construction of the depot was authorized on December 9, 1941, just 2 days after Pearl Harbor and started operation began in November 1942. The site was used as a shipyard during World War I and was served by the Santa Fe, Southern Pacific, and Western Pacific railways.

Most of the ammunition arrived by train from Hawthorne, Nevada, where it was made, was held in boxcars "parked" between protective concrete barriers, and when needed, the train was moved onto the pier which accommodated 2 ships. About a mile from the pier were barracks which housed the African-American ammunition handlers.

Pier at Port Chicago before the explosion. Lower left, one ship at dock. At the upper left are the concrete revetments or barriers which protected boxcars. At upper right are the barracks about one mile from the pier.

African-Americans in the Navy

After World War I, the Navy tried to exclude African-Americans, replacing their ranks with Filipinos. In 1932, the Navy again recruited blacks, but they were limited in numbers and confined to menial tasks, primarily as messmen (kitchen helpers). There were no black officers.

In 1942, the Navy reluctantly accepted blacks for general service, but in segregated units which did not include sea duty. At Port Chicago at the time of the disaster there were 1,400 black enlisted men, 71 officers, 106 marine guards, and 230 civilian employees.

Loading went on 24 hours per day. The men moved the ammunition hand-to-hand, on hand trucks, or carts, or rolled larger bombs down a ramp from the boxcars which were right on the pier and placed them into cargo netting which they spread out on the pier.

African-American Navy enlisted men unloading ammunition from boxcar onto cargo netting, while white officer supervises.

The ammo included small caliber bullets, incendiary bombs, fragmentation bombs, depth charges, and bombs up to 2,000 pounds. The cargo nets were lowered by the ships booms into a hatch, where they were packed layer by layer and secured with dunnage (scrap wood).

Neither the officers nor the men received any training in handling ammunition. There was tremendous pressure to speed up the loading and officers made bets on the quantity of ammunition their unit would load in an 8 hour shift. The men were speeded up by threats of punishment. It was backbreaking, dangerous work.

The Explosion

On the evening of July 17, 1944 there were two ships being loaded at the pier. The Liberty ship SS E.A. Bryan, after 4 days of loading, had about 4,600 tons of ammunition and explosives on board; 98 black enlisted men continued work. On board the ship were 31 U.S. Merchant Marine crew and 13 Naval Armed Guard.

Docked at the pier since 6 PM that evening was the SS Quinault Victory being loaded by about 100 black men for its maiden voyage. On board were 36 crew and 17 Armed Guard. A Coast Guard fire barge was also moored at the pier. Besides 430 tons of bombs waiting to be loaded, the pier held a locomotive and 16 boxcars with its crew of three civilians, and a marine sentry.

At 10:18 an Army Air Force plane flying at 9,000 feet saw pieces of white hot metal, some as large as a house, fly straight up past them. According to the co-pilot, the "fireworks display" lasted about one minute. The explosion was heard 200 miles away.

The Miahelo, a Coast Guard patrol boat, was about 1,500 feet from the pier. The force of the explosion wrecked the wheelhouse, nearly capsized the boat, badly wounded the man at the wheel; and was followed by a 30 foot wall of water. A 16 inch shell, which did not explode, hit the engine room of a small tanker, the SS Redline which was passing nearby.

The 1,200 foot long wooden pier, the locomotive and boxcars, the SS E.A. Bryan, and 320 people (202 black enlisted men) on the pier were gone. All 67 crew and 30 Armed Guard aboard the two ships died instantly. Of the 390 military and civilians injured, which included men in the barracks and townspeople, 233 were black enlisted men.

There were no identifiable pieces of the SS E.A. Bryan remaining: 25,000,000 pounds of ship and ammunition were gone! Disappeared! The stern of the SS Quinault Victory lay upside down in the water 500 from its origin. The rest of the ship, which had been lifted clear out of the water and turned around, was in scattered pieces.

The wreckage of the SS Quinault Victory. The darker object at the far right is the propeller. The photo below shows the pier after the explosion. There is no sign of the SS E.A. Bryan, the arrow points to the wreckage of the SS Quinault Victory, beyond which there is an oil slick.

No cause for the explosion was ever determined.
1 posted on 08/17/2003 12:00:28 AM PDT by SAMWolf
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To: AntiJen; snippy_about_it; Victoria Delsoul; bentfeather; radu; SpookBrat; bluesagewoman; HiJinx; ...
The Mutiny

In the days after the disaster, the Naval Court of Inquiry convened to try and determine its cause. The Court heard the testimony of ordnance experts, eyewitnesses of the explosion, survivors of the accident and other base personnel and investigated the possibility of sabotage, defects in the bombs, rough handling of the munitions, winch and other equipment problems, the fueling system of the vessels, and associated organizational problems within the divisions.

Of everyone interviewed, only five were black. The wagering the white officers were doing on their black divisions was explained away as healthy competition, and the officers-in-charge were acquitted of any responsibility. As far as any human cause was determined, blame fell on the black enlisted men who lost their lives in the explosion. But officially, the Court never established the exact cause of this terrible tragedy.

In these same days after the explosion, and during the Naval Court's inquiry, the black seamen returned to work on their new bases, assigned barracks and other associated base duties, but not ship-loading. They did their work still in a lingering state of shock, the disturbing memory of the blast and their many dead friends still fresh in their minds. Even though they weren't handling explosives, their fears and nerves remained on edge, exacerbated by the blame they were receiving from the Navy.

The men were offered no psychiatric counseling to cope with their stress, nor were they given any survivors' leave to visit with family and friends like many of their white counterparts ­ and certainly the officers. Even those hospitalized with injuries were not granted any medical leave.

Hoping to be transferred to other stations, ships or even combat, the black enlisted men of Port Chicago were stunned when they were ordered to return to loading ammunition and explosives only weeks later. On August 9th, over 300 men were ordered out onto the loading pier of the Mare Island Naval facility. Most of the men refused the order, citing their enduring lack of training, similarly poor equipment as was used at Port Chicago, and therefore the clear possibility of another explosion.

After the confrontation, over 250 men were arrested. They were incarcerated for 3 days in a barge moored to the pier, and were threatened by their white officers with mutiny charges punishable by death during wartime. The men were given the opportunity to put the so-called uprising behind them and return to work. About 200 reluctantly agreed, but were thrown in the brig instead. The 50 remaining black enlisted men who still refused to load munitions under unsafe conditions were indeed finally brought up on charges of mutiny and a date of court martial was set.

The Trial

The trial occurred during the month of September, 1944. The 50 men found themselves facing 7 senior Navy officers, 6 as jury, the seventh as judge. The accused prosecutor was Lt. Commander James F. Coakley. He vehemently argued that the seamen were cowards, guilty of treason. 25 years after this case, he would gain national distinction as the hard line district attorney who prosecuted anti-war activists Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver of the Black Panthers.

Coakley's case in this court martial was fueled by the defense counsel's comparatively weak arguments based on a gray distinction between individual insubordination and organized mutiny and the outright fear of the men to handle explosives.

The black press helped create nationwide media coverage which caught the attention of the NAACP. The Secretary of the Navy at the time, James Forrestal, was pressured to allow Future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, then a young general counsel for the civil rights organization, to observe the trial. Disappointed by what to him was obvious racist railroading by the Navy and the seemingly toothless defense, Marshall went on the attack, putting the Navy itself on trial in the media.

On October 24th, 1944, after less than 2 minutes of deliberation for each black seaman accused, the specially convened military court found all 50 men guilty of mutiny as charged. 1/5th were sentenced to 15 years in prison. Almost half were sentenced to 12 years. Another 5th were sentenced to 10 years, and the remaining 5 men to eight years. All the men were to be dishonorably discharged from the Navy.

The Changes

In the year after the trial, Thurgood Marshall took on the case on behalf of the NAACP, appealing the men's cause to the highest government officials. During this time, Eleanor Roosevelt learned about the case and joined growing public sentiment in refuting similar racial injustice. Partly as a result of her efforts, black United States Army Air Corps pilots stationed in Tuskegee, Alabama were the first black pilots to see combat during World War II. With the combination of the war, the international fight for freedom and an election year, there was immense pressure on President Franklin Roosevelt.

But despite all of this, Marshall's public and legal campaign failed to overturn the convictions of the black naval enlisted men. However, when the war ended a year later, and the spirit of peace prevailed, the President finally agreed to release the men under a general amnesty and time served. Upon their release, though, the men were never granted any Navy veterans' benefits, and their felony convictions remained upheld.

At the time of the Port Chicago disaster, every man handling ammunition on the base was black and every officer was white. This segregation of personnel and responsibility on bases, and the refusal to allow black enlistees in combat was standard practice by the Navy. The tragic explosion at Port Chicago accounted for 15% of deaths suffered by blacks in all of the war. It was recognized as an even larger national disaster than Pearl Harbor. It caused millions of dollars in damage, over 300 deaths and 500 injuries.

Survivors Spencer Sikes and Morris Soublet Port Chicago Commemoration Ceremony, July 16, 2000

And the subsequent investigation into the causes and the facts it brought to light, resulted in no policy alteration at that time. Still, these events and the trial for mutiny of those 50 men were ultimately a catalyst for change. Soon after, the Navy did desegregate training and shore facilities and ships. The Navy also instituted new training and safety procedures for the handling of ammunition and explosives. And for the first time, white sailors were also assigned munitions loading duties.

Unfortunately, even to this day, the 50 black enlisted men -- sailors who were unflinching patriots and brave men willing to fight and die for their country -- have not been exonerated. Their convictions for mutiny in time of war have never been overturned. The price of their duty, unrealized. Their essential contributions and the heroism of their service, never truly recognized.

Additional Sources:

2 posted on 08/17/2003 12:01:23 AM PDT by SAMWolf (Joseph Stalin's grave is a Communist Plot.)
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To: All
Fifty five years after he was convicted of mutiny during World War II for refusing to load explosive munitions following a disastrous explosion, former sailor Freddie Meeks of Los Angeles was pardoned today by President Bill Clinton.

'Congressman Miller worked with attorneys from the law firm of Morrison Foerster to develop a pardon appeal to the President on behalf of Meeks, one of only three of the 50 convicted sailors known still to be alive. The petition was filed in May, 1999, and has been under review by the Navy, the Pardon Attorney, the Department of Justice and the White House leading up to President Clinton's decision to issue the pardon.'

From a press release from Congressman George Miller's Office
December 23, 1999

'We didn't refuse to work. We said we weren't going to load any ammunition on those ships, but we would go to work. It affected my life because I might have been more advanced and done more if I had an opportunity to do some things in the service I thought I could have done when I enlisted. We had individuals, including myself (and I had just graduated high school) who had the skills to do different assignments.'

Carl Tuggle

'That's what they wanted us to do. They wanted us to go back to the same work we were doing, handling it the same way, under the same leadership. And I had made up my mind that I wasn't going to do it.'

Joe Small

'We didn't try to take over anything. We didn't try to take command of the base. We didn't try to replace any White officers; we didn't try to assume an officers position. How could they call it mutiny? '

Accused ringleader, Joe Small

'I am willing to be governed by the laws of the Navy and do anything to help my country win this war. I will go to the front if necessary, but I am afraid to load ammunition.'

Freddie Meeks

'At the most, they were guilty of disobeying an order," said G. Brian Busey, managing partner at MoFo's Washington, D.C., office "The charge and the conviction, I'm morally convinced, would never have occurred if those men were white.'

From the representing law firm, Morrison and Foerster
December 23, 1999

3 posted on 08/17/2003 12:02:23 AM PDT by SAMWolf (Joseph Stalin's grave is a Communist Plot.)
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To: All

4 posted on 08/17/2003 12:03:55 AM PDT by SAMWolf (Joseph Stalin's grave is a Communist Plot.)
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To: SAMWolf


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.

God Bless America
...................................................................................... ...........................................

5 posted on 08/17/2003 12:30:41 AM PDT by snippy_about_it (Pray for our Troops)
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To: PsyOp; Samwise; comitatus; copperheadmike; Monkey Face; WhiskeyPapa; New Zealander; Pukin Dog; ...
.......FALL IN to the FReeper Foxhole!

.......Good Sunday Morning Everyone!

If you would like added or removed from our ping list let me know.
6 posted on 08/17/2003 12:32:52 AM PDT by snippy_about_it (Pray for our Troops)
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To: SAMWolf
Wow. I'd never heard of Port Chicago. Thanks for making us aware of this piece of history.
7 posted on 08/17/2003 1:54:44 AM PDT by WaterDragon (America the beautiful, I love this nation of immigrants.)
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To: snippy_about_it; All
Good morning, Snippy and everyone at the Foxhole. How's it going?
8 posted on 08/17/2003 3:07:58 AM PDT by E.G.C.
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To: WaterDragon
Good Morning WaterDragon.
9 posted on 08/17/2003 4:29:40 AM PDT by snippy_about_it (Pray for our Troops)
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To: E.G.C.
Good Morning EGC.

Accidently let my howlin wolf out last night and he went missing from the ping list post. lol.

Have no fear, I got him back.
10 posted on 08/17/2003 4:31:22 AM PDT by snippy_about_it (Pray for our Troops)
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To: SAMWolf
On This Day In History

Birthdates which occurred on August 17:
1601 Pierre de Fermat mathematician who needed wider margins
1786 Davy Crockett US, frontiersman/adventurer/politician
1840 Wilfrid Scawen Blunt England, writer (Irish Land League)
1844 Menelik II King of Ethiopia (1896-1913)
1870 Frederick Russell developed 1st successful typhoid fever vaccine
1876 Eric Drummond 1st Secretary-General of League of Nations (1919-33)
1887 Marcus Garvey began back-to-Africa movement among US blacks
1888 Monty Wooley NYC, actor (Pied Piper, Man Who Came to Dinner)
1892 Mae West Bkln, actress (Go up & see her sometime)
1900 Quincy Howe Boston Mass, newscaster (CBS Weekend News)
1901 Henri Tomasi Marseilles France, composer (Don Juan de Ma¤ara)
1905 John Hay Whitney publisher (NY Herald Trib 1961-67)
1914 Franklin D Roosevelt Jr son of FDR/(Rep-D-NY, 1949-55)
1918 Mort Marshall NYC, actor (Cully-Dumplings)
1920 Georgia Gibbs Worcester Mass, singer (Ballin the Jack, Kiss of Fire)
1921 Maureen O'Hara Dublin Ireland, actress (Miracle on 34th St)
1922 Ralph Roberts NC, actor (Tradition, Gone are the Days)
1923 Larry Rivers modern/abstract painter (Wash crossing Delaware-1953)
1926 Haakon Barfod Norway, yachting (Olympic-gold-1948, 52)
1927 Robert Moore Detroit Mich, actor (Marshall-Diana)
1929 Francis Gary Powers US spy (USSR captures him in 1959 U-2 incident)
1932 Chet Allen Chickasha Okla, actor (Jerry-Bonino, Slats-Troubleshooter)
1932 V.S. Naipaul Trinidad, novelist (Middle Passage)
1939 Luther Allison Arkansas, guitarist (Bad News is Coming)
1940 Thomas Williams US, ice hockey play (Olympic-gold-1960)
1941 Boog Powell baseball player (AL MVP 1970)
1943 Robert De Niro NYC, actor (Bang the Drum Slowly, Taxi Driver)
1943 Yukio Kasaya Japan, 70m ski jumper (Olympic-gold-1972)
1951 Alain Mimoun France, marathon runner (Olympic-gold-1956)
1951 Alan Minter England, light-middleweight boxer (Olympic-bronze-1972)
1952 Kathryn C Thornton Montgomery Alabama, PhD/astronaut (STS 33, sk: 49)
1953 Kevin Rowlands rocker (Dexy's Midnight Runners-Come on Eileen)
1958 Belinda Carlisle Hollywood Ca, (GoGos lead singer, Heaven on Earth)
1960 Sean Penn actor (Fast Times at Ridgemont High)
1963 Carmen Berg Bismark ND, playmate (July, 1987)
1965 Glen Goldsmith rocker (What You See is What You Get)
1969 Donald E Wahlberg Jr, Boston, rocker (New Kids-Hangin' Tough)

Deaths which occurred on August 17:
1850 Jos‚ Francisco de San Martin South American revolutionary hero, dies
1880 Ole Bull, composer, dies at 70
1915 Leo Frank lynched for raping 12 year old in Georgia
1920 Ray Chapman hit in the head by Yanks' Carl Mays pitch, dies
1971 Horace McMahon actor (Martin Kane Private Eye), dies at 64
1973 Conrad Aiken Pulitzer winning poet, dies at 74
1975 Sig Arno Hamburg Germany, actor (My Friend Irma), dies at 80
1976 William Redfield actor (Jimmy Hughes Rookie Cop), dies at 48
1979 Vivian Vance actress (Ethel Mertz-I Love Lucy), dies at 72
1982 Barney Phillips actor (Dragnet, Felony Squad), dies at 68
1983 Ira Gershwin lyricist, dies in Beverly Hills, Cal, at 86
1987 Rudolph Hess Nazi, dies at 93, after 46 years in Spandau Prison
1988 Franklin D Roosevelt Jr (Rep-D-NY, 1949-55), dies on 74th birthday
1988 Mohammad Zia Ul-Haq pres of Pakistan (1978-88), dies at 63 in plane crash
1990 Pearl Bailey broadway actress/singer, dies at 72 from a heart attack



POW / MIA Data & Bios supplied by
the P.O.W. NETWORK. Skidmore, MO. USA.

On this day...
682 St Leo II begins his reign as Catholic Pope
1498 Cardinal Borgia renounces his vows & office to marry a French princess
1577 Peace of Bergerac: Political rights for Huguenots
1787 Jews are granted permission in Budapest Hungary to pray in groups
1807 Robert Fulton's steamboat Clermont begins 1st trip up Hudson River
1812 Napoleon Bonaparte's army defeats the Russians at the Battle of Smolensk during the Russian retreat to Moscow.
1835 Solymon Merrick patents wrench
1846 US takes Los Angeles
1858 1st bank in Hawaii opens
1863 Federal batteries & ships bombard Fort Sumter, Charleston
1869 1st international boat race (Thames River) (Oxford beats Harvard)
1870 1st ascent of Mt Rainier, Washington
1870 Mrs Esther Morris becomes 1st woman magistrate (South Pass, Wyoming)
1876 The opera “Gotterdämmerung” is produced (Bayreuth)
1877 Asaph Hall discovers Mars' moon Phobos
1877 Billy the Kid kills his first man
1894 Phils get 36 hits, Sam Thompson hits for cycle beating Louisville 29-4
1896 Gold is discovered on Klondike River
1904 Boston's Jesse Tannehell no-hits Chic White Sox, 6-0
1908 Bank of Italy opens new HQ at Clay & Montgomery
1915 Mob lynches Jewish businessman Leo Frank in Cobb County, Ga after death sentence for murder of 13-year-old girl commuted to life
1915 Hurricane strikes Galveston, TX (275 killed)
1918 Samuel Riddle buys Man o'War for $5,000
1933 Lou Gehrig breaks record by playing in his 1,308th straight game
1938 Henry Armstrong won his 3rd concurrent boxing championship
1939 "Wizard of Oz" opens at Loew's Capitol Theater in NY
1940 FDR & Canadian PM William M King agree to joint defense commission
1942 US bombers staged 1st independent raid on Europe attack Rouen, France
1944 Yanks Johnny Lindell ties record with 4 consecutive doubles in a game
1945 Indonesia declares independence from Netherlands (National Day)
1948 Alger Hiss denies ever being a Communist agent
1948 Phillies commit 8 errors in a game
1950 Indonesia gains independence from the Netherlands
1951 Hurricane winds drive 6 ships ashore, Kingston, Jamaica
1955 Hurricane Diane, following hurricane Connie floods Connecticut River killing 190 & doing $1.8 billion damage
1958 World's 1st Moon probe, US's Thor-Able, explodes at T +77 sec
1959 7.1 quake strikes Yellowstone National Park
1960 Francis Gary Powers U-2 spy trial opens in Moscow
1960 Gabon gains independence from France (National Day)
1961 Building of the Berlin Wall begins
1961 Kennedy administration establishes Alliance for Progress
1962 Beatles replaces Pete Best with Ringo Starr
1962 E German border guards shot & kill Peter Fechter, 18, attempting to cross Berlin Wall into western sector
1963 Jim Hickman becomes the 1st NY Met to hit for the cycle
1963 Oriole's Dick Hall retires his 28th consecutive player in relief
1966 Pioneer 7 launched into solar orbit
1969 Hurricane Camille claims more than 250
1969 NY Jets beat NY Giants 37-14 in their 1st meeting (pre season)
1970 Venera 7 launched by USSR for soft landing on Venus
1972 Phillies Steve Carlton wins his 15th straight game
1973 Lee Trevino's 1st hole-in-one
1978 1st manned balloon crossing of Atlantic Ocean (Eagle II)
1982 LA Dodgers beat Chicago Cubs, 6-5, in 21 innings (game completed 8/18)
1982 South Bend, Ind jury acquits self-avowed racist Joseph Paul Franklin
1984 Pete Rose returns to Cin Reds as player-manager (gets 2 hits)
1985 Dave Kingman hits his 400th HR
1985 Rajiv Gandhi announces Punjab state elections in India
1986 Bronze pig statue unveiled at Seattle's Pike Place Market
1987 Dow Jones Industrial Avg closes above 2,700 for 1st time (2,700.57)
1988 Butch Reynolds of USA sets the 400m record (43.29) in Zurich
1988 LIRR says Penn station will get air conditioning in 1991
1988 NYC 1st case of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (9 year old Bronx boy)
1990 "The Exorcist 3" premiers
1990 Phyllis Polander sues Mike Tyson for sexual harassment
2000 Word leaked out that Independent Counsel Robert Ray was assembling a new grand jury to investigate President Clinton's conduct in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. (Democrats charged Republicans were behind the release of information, but a federal judge said he was inadvertently responsible for the disclosure.)

Note: Some Holidays are only applicable on a given "day of the week"

Argentina : San Martin Day (1850)
India : Janmashtami
Indonesia-1945, Gabon-1960 : Independence Day
Hawaii : Admission Day (1959) ( Friday )
Mich : Montrose-Blueberry Festival ( Friday )
Yukon : Klondike Gold Day (1896) ( Friday )
Weird Contest Week Ends
Science, Medicine and Technology Books Month

Religious Observances
Christian : St Ethelred
RC : Commemoration of St Hyacinth of Silesia, confessor

Religious History
1635 English Puritan Richard Mather, 39, first arrived in Boston. A staunch defender of the congregational form of church government, Mather is remembered today for founding the "dynasty" to which was born his son Increase Mather in 1639, and his grandson Cotton Mather in 1663.
1761 Birth of William Carey, pioneer English missionary to India. He taught at the newly founded Fort William College of Calcutta from 1801 until his death, and helped found the Serampore Press, which made the Bible accessible to over 300 million people.
1775 Anglican clergyman and hymnwriter John Newton wrote in a letter: 'It is no great matter where we are, provided we see that the Lord has placed us there, and that He is with us.'
1780 Birth of George Croly, Irish churchman and author. During his life he published writings of biographical, historical and religious importance, but is primarily remembered today as author of the hymn, "Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart."
1809 In Pennsylvania, Thomas Campbell, 46, and his son Alexander, 20, formed the American Movement for Christian Unity, which later became the Disciples of Christ Church.

Source: William D. Blake. ALMANAC OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1987.

Thought for the day :
"We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality"

You might be an engineer if...
the first thing you do with anything new is take it apart to see how it works

Murphys Law of the day...
Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse

Cliff Clavin say's it's a little known fact that...
A typical bed usually houses over 6 billion dust mites.
11 posted on 08/17/2003 6:22:51 AM PDT by Valin (America is a vast conspiracy to make you happy.)
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To: SAMWolf
Thank you, this is an incredible story SAM. I'd never heard of this until I heard it from you.

The seismic shock wave was felt as far away as Boulder City, Nevada. The E.A. Bryan and the structures around the pier were completely disintegrated.

Just Amazing.

As far as fault and who did what the sad fact is the loss of life. It does appear lessons were learned as I try to find good amongst the bad.

12 posted on 08/17/2003 8:12:34 AM PDT by snippy_about_it (Pray for our Troops)
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To: SAMWolf
Never heard of this explosion. It appears to have been roughly comparable to the 1947 Texas City explosion.

I was about a mile from ground zero when the Grandcamp blew up in Texas City. My window and blinds slammed into the opposite wall. I would have been shreaded by flying glass if I had not luckily just a second or two before the explosion leaned over out of the path the window glass took.

13 posted on 08/17/2003 8:50:56 AM PDT by rustbucket
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To: WaterDragon
Thanks Waterdragon.

I'd heard of it before but never the details until I decided to do the thread on it.

You should see some of the "Conspiracy Theory" sites on this subject. Unbelievable!
14 posted on 08/17/2003 9:08:54 AM PDT by SAMWolf (Joseph Stalin's grave is a Communist Plot.)
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To: E.G.C.
Good Morning E.G.C.

15 posted on 08/17/2003 9:10:13 AM PDT by SAMWolf (Joseph Stalin's grave is a Communist Plot.)
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To: Valin
1896 Gold is discovered on Klondike River

<==== Mash This

16 posted on 08/17/2003 9:19:07 AM PDT by SAMWolf (Joseph Stalin's grave is a Communist Plot.)
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To: rustbucket
I remember reading about the Texas City Explosion.

You are a very lucky person. Thanks for sharing your experience with the Foxhole

Probably the exact number of people killed will never be known, although the ship's anchor monument records 576 persons known dead, 398 of whom were identified, and 178 listed as missing. All records of personnel and payrolls of the Monsanto Company were destroyed, and many of the dock workers were itinerants and thus difficult to identify. Almost all persons in the dock area-firemen, ships' crews, and spectators-were killed, and most of the bodies were never recovered; sixty-three bodies were buried unidentified. The number of injured ranged in the thousands, and loss of property totaled about $67 million.

17 posted on 08/17/2003 9:32:56 AM PDT by SAMWolf (Joseph Stalin's grave is a Communist Plot.)
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To: SAMWolf; snippy_about_it; AntiJen; SpookBrat; MistyCA; PhilDragoo; All
Happy Sunday everyone.

A Prayer for America

"Lord, I pray that You will instill in every American the desire to be in unity with other Americans. May there be mutual respect, friendship and brotherly love among the people of this great land. Help us each to do our part to bring peace on earth. Give us a national conscience to clearly distinguish right from wrong with regard to how we treat one another and work in us a willingness to choose the right way. You have made America a large diverse family of many beautiful colors and a tapestry of cultures. I pray that in the family of our nation there will also arise appreciation and respect for the uniqueness of each individual. Help us to be unified with our leaders. Keep our leaders in a place of unity among themselves, and I pray that disunity will never be allowed to tear our country apart. Amen."

--Stormie Omartian.

18 posted on 08/17/2003 10:39:08 AM PDT by Victoria Delsoul (It's a campaign about 'change'…the most plausible mass-appeal 'change' candidate: Arnold *Mark Steyn)
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To: Victoria Delsoul
Good Morning Victoria.

Lovely prayer and graphic.
19 posted on 08/17/2003 10:43:23 AM PDT by SAMWolf (Joseph Stalin's grave is a Communist Plot.)
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To: Victoria Delsoul
Thank you Victoria. Perfect for Sunday.
20 posted on 08/17/2003 10:48:17 AM PDT by snippy_about_it (Pray for our Troops)
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