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The FReeper Foxhole Remembers "Black Thursday" Schweinfurt, 1943 - Jan. 17th, 2003 ^ | Tech. Sgt. Gary W. Boyd

Posted on 01/17/2003 5:34:18 AM PST by SAMWolf

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Black Thursday
Schweinfurt Oct. 14, 1943

Imagine if a squadron-sized unit simply failed to return to duty after taking part in a contingency.

That's precisely what confronted in the 305th Bombardment Group 59 years ago, following what is perhaps the greatest air battle in history.

Rightly called "Black Thursday" by veterans, the Oct. 14, 1943 mission to Schweinfurt, Germany, was the most arduous of the war. Incredibly, of the 15 group aircraft able to participate in the mission, the Luftwaffe claimed 13, and 130 crewmembers.

Of the downed airmen, 40 died and 20 were wounded, while another 79 became prisoners of war. Four airmen evaded capture and eventually returned to duty, while the remaining crewmen spent the war interned in Switzerland.

It took many months for the "Can Do" group to recover from the raid, and the wounds of that day are still felt by the group's veterans. The 305th BG had raided Schweinfurt before, on Aug. 17, 1943. The experience had been chilling, with much aerial opposition and flak, but the group held together and lost no aircraft.

The "Black Thursday" Schweinfurt raid was completely different. Mistakes up and down the chain of command -- from security lapses to poor weather briefings -- led to unmitigated disaster for the Eighth Air Force and nearly halted the combined bombing offensive.

Departing from the disciplined model of Col. Curtis LeMay, the group struggled with one problem after another in the bad weather that blanketed England. The group missed its assigned rendezvous with its element leader and every other subsequent navigational waypoint over England. Eventually, the 305th formed up on the wrong combat wing -- the 1st Combat Wing rather than the 40th -- becoming the "low group" in a very unconventional four-group alignment.

Unlike England, the weather over occupied Europe was generally excellent for the defending fighters, only adding more misery to the 305th's longest day, as flak, fighters and coast watchers had no trouble plotting their course.

Rocket-firing German Messerschmitt-110s and Messerschmitt-210s destroyed most of the 305th BG before they even reached the Rhein River -- some 115 miles short of the target. Only three of the group's B-17s made it to the target area -- one of those crews released its bomb load while the aircraft burned.

Only two 305th BG B-17s left Schweinfurt that day, and their crews managed to survive the long trip back to England by tucking into the 92nd Bomb Group's protective formation. Many tales of bravery transpired that day, such that unbelievable courage was the rule rather than the exception.

Unfortunately, there weren't enough survivors to write many decoration packages.

Since only two moderately damaged "Flying Fortresses" had taxied to the maintenance area, Lt. Col. Thomas McGehee, commander of the 305th, asked a returning crewman where the rest of the group's B-17s were. He received the most chilling reply in 305 AMW history.

"Sir, there are no more ships," the crewman said. "We are the only ones left." The ground crews of the missing 13 aircraft refused to give up hope and desperately milled about the hardstands for hours until ordered to stand down.

Leadership sometimes requires that higher headquarters be disappointed. Given the abysmal weather over England, the lack of coordination in the air, and the known, strong aerial opposition ahead, the Schweinfurt mission should have been scrubbed.

Despite the odds, the Eighth Air Force had not turned back, had hit its intended target, and suffered the loss of more than 600 crewmen that day. As a result, the face of the bomber offensive changed almost immediately. Never again would the Eighth Air Force commit so many lives to deep penetrations of occupied Europe without adequate fighter protection. No group ever again suffered the horrendous 87-percent attrition rate the "Can Do" group did that October day.

When the 42nd "Rainbow" Infantry Division liberated Schweinfurt in 1945, they sent the Nazi flag flying over the town hall to the men of the 305th Bombardment Group. Now housed at the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio, the flag is inscribed with the simple words, "The Rainbow has avenged your losses at Schweinfurt."

KEYWORDS: 8thairforce; b17; daylightbombing; freeperfoxnole; schweinfurt; wwii
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Shortly before 10 a.m., the silence of the aerodromes was abruptly shattered. Wright Cyclone radial engines coughed, shuddered, spat smoke and burst into life. The three-bladed props seemed to windmill for a second, then faded into a blur as the engines settled into a smooth roar. Soon, almost 1,400 engines were flattening the grass behind the bombers, and the din rolled across the English countryside.

Colonel "Budd" J. Peaslee, Mission 115 commander, would fly to Schweinfurt as copilot in Captain James K. McLaughlin's 92nd BG B-17, and about 10:15 he saw the signal flare that indicated the mission was on. Because of the dense fog and the overcast, which limited visibility to a quarter-mile, Mission 115's status had gone down to the wire. But word finally came that weather over the continent was clear, and this was enough to put the mission into operation.

Takeoff proceeded without incident, but conditions began to unravel shortly after the bombers climbed above the overcast. Because the 305th Bomber Group could not locate the 40th Combat Wing to take its assigned position, the 305th was forced to link with the 1st Wing. The 40th Combat Wing, now composed only of the 92nd and 306th bomber groups, tagged along with the 41st Wing.

Because of the thick fog, only 29 of the 60 Liberators scheduled to fly the mission could take off; eight of these could not form up and returned to base. The remaining 21 Liberators made a diversionary sweep toward Emden.

As the B-17s flew toward Schweinfurt, 26 aborted for various reasons. Thus, of the 351 bombers that set out to hit Schweinfurt, 86 were not on hand when the force reached the German frontier.

The overcast also disrupted a scheduled escort by four P-47 Thunderbolt groups. The 353rd and 56th fighter groups rendezvoused successfully with the bombers and eventually shot down 13 fighters, but the 4th Fighter Group could not locate its B-17s and returned to base. The 352nd Fighter Group wound up escorting the B-24s on their diversionary sweep. The 55th Fighter Group, flying P-38 Lightnings, did not become operational in time to participate.

The Luftwaffe was apparently aware of the range limitations of the P-47s, and most German fighters delayed their attacks until the escort turned back. What at first could be mistaken for mere specks on B-17 Perspex windshields became fighters-swarms of them, getting larger as they queued up to attack. B-17 interphones immediately came alive as gunners called out "bogies"first at 12 o'clock (straight ahead on the clock-based locator system), then at every position on the clock. Gunners were warned to keep chatter to a minimum and to not waste ammunition.

"The opening play is a line plunge through center," mission commander Peaslee later told Martin Caidin, author of the 1960 book Black Thursday. "The fighters whip through our formation, for our closing speed exceeds 500 mph. Another group of flashes replaces the first, and this is repeated five times, as six formations of Me-109s charges us .... I can see fighters on my side ... their paths marked in the bright sunlight by fine lines of light-colored smoke as they fire short bursts. It is a coordinated attack ... their timing is perfect, their technique masterly."

Although they were still far from the target, smoking Fortresses started to fall out of formation-37 in all. That left 228 to actually bomb the target, about twothirds of the original strength.

The saga of the 94th Bomber Group's B-17F Brennan's Circus was typical of the heroics that became routine on Mission 115. Ten minutes from the target, Circus lost an engine and began to fall behind when the bombs could not be jettisoned. To escape the circling fighters, pilot Joseph Brennan put the B-17 into a dive. The crew eventually got rid of the bombs, but another engine "ran away" into high rpm and had to be feathered. Over Holland and Belgium, a burst of flak took out a third engine. Circus struggled out over the North Sea, kept barely aloft by the one remaining engine, to within a few miles of the English coast before settling into the water. The crew was credited with four German fighter kills and one damaged for the mission.

Meanwhile, back over the target, fighter attacks stopped abruptly as German pilots turned their attention to groups of bombers still en route to the target. It was to be the only respite for the beleaguered crews in more than three hours of ceaseless combat.

On the return trip, the fury of air combat was entered anew, as many of the German fighters that had left the fight to refuel and rearm returned. But the attacks were not as precise as they had been earlier because many of the fighters had lost their original units and had formed up with any friendly aircraft in the area.

It was estimated that more than 300 German fighters participated in the day's combat at some point. Most were the familiar single-engine Messerschmitt Bf-109G and Focke-Wulf Fw-190, but the Luftwaffe also made extensive use of night-fighter Junkers Ju-88 and Messerschmitt Bf-110 twin-engine craft. The use of these aircraft was controversial because their pilots, used to night attack techniques, often left themselves wide open to American gunners.

Other aircraft reportedly in the fray included the ungainly, fixed-landing gear Ju-87 Stuka dive bomber, the Fw-189 tactical reconnaissance aircraft and the experimental He- 100 fighter of 1940 vintage. Although it seems unlikely the Luftwaffe would risk such unsuitable, specialized aircraft for bomber interception, the mystery of their alleged appearance contributed to the jumbled patchwork of the running fight.

"The fighters were unrelenting; it was simply murder," recalls Carl Abele, who was serving as navigator on a 544th Squadron, 384th BG, B-17F unofficially called Blackjack on the mission. Schweinfurt was the crew's fourth mission, and there had been no time to paint the name on.

"As it turned out, the name was destined never to be painted on," Abele remembers. "We lost an engine to flak and another to fighters, but the prop on one of the engines couldn't be feathered. The drag of the dead engine was tremendous, and helped doom the plane. Our pilot held her steady while we all bailed out, then he came out last. I never saw my chute open. The next thing I knew 1 was lying down in the back of a Totenkopf [Death's Head SS Army Division] truck on the way to POW camp."

The punishment being meted out was not always one-sided, however. Fortress gunners claimed 186 aircraft shot down, although German documents reviewed after the war placed their losses at approximately 40. Some overclaiming by gunners was inevitable, since several gunners within a combat "box"of bombers would fire on the same plane.

The fighter attacks continued without letup throughout the return flight, since poor weather had grounded the Spitfires and Thunderbolts that were to have provided cover for the bombers' withdrawal. A few German fighters continued their attacks almost to the British coast.

Soon after the drone of the returning bombers was heard, it was apparent that a disaster had occurred; bomber after bomber failed to return to its hard stand. Then the results were tabulated: 60 bombers down over Europe, five more lost near or over England, and 17 aircraft damaged beyond repair. Although other targets produced equal or greater total losses, the 26 percent loss figure recorded during Schweinfurt II gave it the dubious honor of being the most costly mission of the war for the Eighth Air Force.

The element of chance involved in death, injury or capture was never more evident than on Black Thursday. Some bomb groups were almost annihilated, while others were untouched. The 305th lost 13 out of 15 Fortresses dispatched and the 306th lost 12, while three other 1st Bomb Division groups, the 92nd, 379th and 384th, lost six each. The 3rd Bomb Division fared much better, with its seven groups losing only 15 aircraft overall and three-including the Bloody 100th-losing none. From the vantage of hindsight, had the raids been repeated at two-month intervals for a six-month period, the bearings industry "could not possibly have survived."

1 posted on 01/17/2003 5:34:18 AM PST by SAMWolf
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To: MistyCA; AntiJen; Victoria Delsoul; SassyMom; bentfeather; GatorGirl; radu; souris; SpookBrat; ...
Mission Number 115 may sound like an ordinary one, but for the 8th Air Force the mission to Schweinfurt on October 14 1943 was anything but ordinary. In fact it was a costly disaster, which nearly stopped daylight offensive deep raids into Germany. It marked the low point for the USAAF and the high point for German fighters, a true turning point in the aerial war in Europe. Ironically things would turn for the better for the losers of the Schweinfurt attack and get worse for the winners.

2 posted on 01/17/2003 5:34:51 AM PST by SAMWolf (To look into the eyes of the wolf is to see your soul)
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To: All

On the morning of October 14th 1943 along with 15 others from the 305th Bomb Group, Lazy Baby set off from Chelveston in England on Mission 115, the second Schweinfurt raid, later to become known as Black Thursday. By the time they reached Aachen on the outward leg only Lazy Baby and two others of the 305th were left flying, They were then seriously damaged and three crew severely injured whilst two bailed out. Diving from 23,000 ft to only 3,000 ft, pilot Ed Dienhart managed to escape the attacking fighters. With the ball turret gunner trapped and navigator seriously injured they proceeded at 30 to 50 feet, hedge-hopping all the way, to Switzerland and safety. Guided by the navigator Don Rowley who, despite having both arms virtually severed, managed to steer them from memory for over an hour to Switzerland where they made a dramatic crash landing only four miles from the German border. The navigator died the following day from his injuries. Whilst the pilot drew upon every ounce of his flying skills, the rest of the crew exhibited untold valor in the face of terrible adversity and selfless devotion to their stricken comrades.

3 posted on 01/17/2003 5:35:18 AM PST by SAMWolf (To look into the eyes of the wolf is to see your soul)
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To: All
'I had accepted the fact that I was not going to live through this mission. It was as simple as that. I was calm; it was a strange sort of resignation. I knew for certain that it was only a matter of seconds or minutes. It was impossible for us to survive....'

-- B-17 Pilot,
Post Mission De-briefing

4 posted on 01/17/2003 5:35:39 AM PST by SAMWolf (To look into the eyes of the wolf is to see your soul)
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To: All
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5 posted on 01/17/2003 5:35:44 AM PST by Support Free Republic (Your support keeps Free Republic going strong!)
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To: All
Current Military Issues
Announcing "The Bunker"

Dear Freeper Foxhole friends, Free Republic Network chapter leaders and frontline Freeper fighters and property rights activists:

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Stop in for a Bunker Moment. Our mission is simple... support our Freeper friends and destroy the enemy. Restore the our Bill of Rights from those who would strip us of them.

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6 posted on 01/17/2003 5:36:05 AM PST by SAMWolf (To look into the eyes of the wolf is to see your soul)
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To: All

Thanks, Doughty!

7 posted on 01/17/2003 5:36:29 AM PST by SAMWolf (To look into the eyes of the wolf is to see your soul)
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To: All

8 posted on 01/17/2003 5:37:01 AM PST by SAMWolf (To look into the eyes of the wolf is to see your soul)
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To: SAMWolf
Today's graphic

9 posted on 01/17/2003 5:47:56 AM PST by GailA (Throw Away the Keys)
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To: SAMWolf
Good Morning Everybody.
You Know The Drill
Click the Pics

Click The Logo For Fundraiser Thread Click here to Contribute to FR: Do It Now! ;-) Crocodile Rock Green Onions

Coffee & Donuts J

10 posted on 01/17/2003 5:48:43 AM PST by Fiddlstix (Tag Line Service Center: FREE Tag Line with Every Monthly Donation to FR. Get Yours. Inquire Within)
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To: SAMWolf; All
Good Morning Sam!


11 posted on 01/17/2003 5:51:40 AM PST by Pippin (world's TALLEST hobbit)
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To: SAMWolf

305th Bomb Wing - "Can Do"


12 posted on 01/17/2003 6:07:06 AM PST by CholeraJoe
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To: SAMWolf
"The opening play is a line plunge through center," mission commander Peaslee later told Martin Caidin, author of the 1960 book Black Thursday.

Martin Caidin and Ed Beach were prominent in my library very early on. Black Friday was one of the most chilling books I ever read, and that includes Stephen King's works.

Oh well, time to go to work. I hate that word, but it does put food on the table, y'know!? See you and the rest later this evening!

13 posted on 01/17/2003 6:23:09 AM PST by HiJinx
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To: Pippin; Fiddlstix; GailA
Good morning GailA, Fiddlstix, Pippin.

Good graphic, Good Coffee and a Good Morning from Pippin, what more could I ask for?
14 posted on 01/17/2003 6:33:10 AM PST by SAMWolf (To look into the eyes of the wolf is to see your soul)
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To: CholeraJoe
Thanks for the link to the 305th BW.
15 posted on 01/17/2003 6:34:03 AM PST by SAMWolf (To look into the eyes of the wolf is to see your soul)
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To: HiJinx
I've got a few Martin Caidin books in my library. He's even done some very good novels.
16 posted on 01/17/2003 6:35:12 AM PST by SAMWolf (To look into the eyes of the wolf is to see your soul)
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To: SAMWolf
A day off?
17 posted on 01/17/2003 6:45:32 AM PST by Pippin (world's TALLEST hobbit)
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To: Pippin
That would be icing on the cake. Is that with pay?
18 posted on 01/17/2003 6:51:32 AM PST by SAMWolf (To look into the eyes of the wolf is to see your soul)
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To: All

Reconnaissance photo of Schweinfurt, Germany after raids shows hits on machine shops (A and B) and powerhouse for shops (C). Arrows in left part of photo show where camouflage is used to confuse damage assessors.U.S. Air Force Photo4

19 posted on 01/17/2003 7:06:13 AM PST by SAMWolf (To look into the eyes of the wolf is to see your soul)
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To: SAMWolf
On this Day In History

Birthdates which occurred on January 17:
1342 Philip the Bold, duke of Burgundy
1463 Frederick III the Wise, elector of Saxony (1486-25), protector Luther
1501 Leonhard Fuchs Germany, botanist (History of Plants)
1504 Pius V [Antonio Ghislieri] saint, pope (1566-72)
1517 Antonio Scandello Italian composer (Passion of Johannes)
1545 Antonio Pace composer
1574 Robert Fludd composer
1600 Pedro Caldéron de la Barca Spanish poet/dramatist
1612 Thomas Fairfax Lord Fairfax, English Parliamentary General
1657 Pieter van Bloemen [Standaart], Flemish painter, baptized
1659 Antonio Veracini composer
1683 Gerard van Loon Dutch historian
1706 Benjamin Franklin Boston, kite flyer/statesman/wit/inventor
1712 John Stanley composer
1719 Jean-Joseph Vade composer
1728 Johann Gottfried Muthel composer
1732 Stanislaw II August Poniatowski last king of Poland (1764-95)
1733 Thomas Linley composer
1734 François-Joseph Gossec Belgian-French composer (Les Pêcheurs, Mirza)
1745 Nicolas Roze composer
1759 Paul Cuffe Massachusetts, merchant/shipbuilder/black nationalist
1761 James Hall Scotland, geologist
1769 Ole Andreas Lindeman composer
1771 Charles Brockden Brown father of American novel (Wieland)
1806 James Madison Randolph (Jefferson's grandson) 1st born in White House
1814 Ellen Wood English author (East Lynne, Pomeroy Abbey)
1818 Sir Antoine Dorion (L) joint premier of Canada (1858, 1863-64)
1820 Anne Bronte English novelist/poet (Tenant of Wildfell Hall)
1828 Lewis Addison Grant Bvt Major General (Union volunteers), died in 1918
1834 Wilhelmina J R Albregt-Engelman Dutch actress/daughter of Mimi Bia
1835 Antanas Baranauskas Lithuanian bishop/poet/dialectologist
1835 Johan Filip von Schantz composer
1836 Jose Silvestre de los Dolores White Lafitte composer
1842 Anton G van Hamel founder (Roman Philology in Netherlands)
1845 Lucas Lindeboom Dutch vicar/evangelist (Vredebond)
1850 Alexander Sergeyevich Taneyev St Petersburg Russia, composer
1853 Alva Vanderbilt Beaumont women's rights advocate & activist
1857 Eugene Augustin Lauste developer (1st sound-on-film recording)
1857 Wilhelm Kienzl Austrian composer (Evangelimann)
1858 Tomas Carrasquilla Colombian author (Frutos de mi Tierra)
1862 John E Akkeringa Dutch painter/etcher
1863 David Lloyd George (L-PM-Britain, 1916-22)
1863 Henry Charles Tonking composer
1863 Konstantin S Stanislavski Russia, director (Stanislavski Method)
1864 Lucien Herr France, scientist (Corresp entre Schiller et Schiller)
1873 François Rasse composer
1876 Olga Fastrova writer
1877 Hans Jelmoli composer
1878 Oscar Apfel Cleveland OH, actor (Abraham Lincoln, Inspiration, Before Dawn)
1880 Mack Sennett movie creator (Keystone Kops)
1881 Alfred R Radcliffe-Browne British anthropologist (Andaman Islanders)
1884 Noah Beery US actor (Mark of Zorro, Sea Wolf)
1885 E Ball-Hennings writer
1885 Joseph Arendt Belgian worker's union leader
1886 Glenn Luther Martin aviator (Collier Trophy-1933)
1886 Ronald Firbank London England, novelist (The Flower Beneath the Foot)
1891 Marjorie Gateson Brooklyn NY, actress (One Man's Family)
1891 Norman "Squab" Read US aviator who lived to be 101
1891 Walter Eucken German economist
1896 Harry Reser Ohio, orchestra leader (Sammy Kaye Show)
1897 Nils Asther Malmö Sweden, actor (Bluebeard, Night Monster)
1899 Nevil Shute (Norway) London, novelist (On the Beach, Town Like Alice)
1899 Robert Maynard Hutchins US, educator/civil libertarian
1899 Al Capone Italy, gangster (Chicago bootlegging)
1899 Roel [Martinus F] Houwink Dutch literary (1 Man Without Character)
19-- Nina Wilcox New York City NY, actress (Harbourmaster, Jessica Novak)
19-- William Lucking Vicksburg MI, actor (A-Team, Jessie, Shannon)
1900 Olga Maria Nicolis di Robilant patron of the arts
1901 Vasily Petrovich Shirinsky composer
1902 Geoffrey W Lloyd British minister of Brandstoffen/Energy (1951-55)
1903 Warren Hull Gasport NY, actor (Strike it Rich, Who in the World)
1904 Grant Withers Pueblo CO, actor (Oklahoma, Annie)
1904 Patsy Ruth Miller actress (Québec, Wide Open, Sap, Twin Beds)
1905 Franz Schmid Germany, ascended northside of Matterhorn (1931)
1907 Henk H Badings Bandung Indonesia, Dutch opera composer (Orestes)
1908 Akkineni LV Lakshmi Varaprasada Rao Prasad producer
1910 Edith S Green (Representative-D-OR)
1910 Michael Economides restaurateur
1911 Hermann Pfrogner Austria, musicologist (Zerrissene Orpheus)
1911 Luis W Alvarez US, physicist (sub atomic, Nobel 1968)
1912 Orest Alexandrovich Evlahkov composer
1913 Werenfried [Flip] van Straaten founder (Oostpriesterhulp)
1913 Yuvraj of Patiala cricketer (scored 24 & 60 in only Test India vs England)
1916 Joel Herron Chicago IL, orchestra leader (Jaye P Morgan Show)
1917 Maruthur Gopalan Ramachandran (MGR) Indian film star, politician
1917 Oskar Morawetz Svetla Czechoslovakia, composer
1917 Ulyses Simpson Kay composer
1918 Joseph Walker Barr banker/politician
1920 Nora Kaye New York City NY, prima ballerina
1920 Joseph George Handy Hendleman musician
1921 Dehl Berti Pueblo CO, actor (John Taylor-Guns of Paradise)
1922 Betty White Oak Park IL, actress (Mary Tyler Moore Show, Golden Girls)
1922 Luis Echeverría Alvarez President of Mexico
1923 Onno Molenkamp Dutch actor (Lifespan, Broken Mirrors, The Lift)
1924 Jewel Plummer Cobb educator/president (California State University at Fullerton)
1925 Rock Hudson Winnetka IL, actor (McMillian & Wife)
1925 A H Kardar cricketer (Pakistana 1st Test captain, previously played for India)
1925 Annie Delorie Dutch opera singer (Scenes & Arias)
1925 Duane Hanson US sculptor
1926 Clyde Walcott cricketer (one of the three W's, later ICC chairman)
1926 Moira Shearer Dunfermline Scotland, ballerina (Red Shoes)
1926 Richard Michael Hills comedy script writer
1927 Donald Erb Youngstown OH, composer
1927 Eartha Kitt singer/actress (Catwoman-Batman)
1927 Michael Herford Wooller TV/film producer
1928 Vidal Sassoon London, hair stylist/CEO (Vidal Sasson)
1928 Jean Barraqué French composer
1928 Ken Archer cricketer (Australian batsman, 5 Tests early 50s)
1929 Jacques "Jake the Snake" Plante Québec Canada, NHL goaltender (#1)
1930 Thomas P Stafford Oklahoma, astronaut (Gemini 6, Gemini 9, Apollo 10)
1930 Bill Benyon English large landowner/Conservative Lower house leader
1930 Robert Ceely composer
1931 James Earl Jones Mississippi, actor (Darth Vader, Exorcist II, Soul Man)
1931 L Douglas Wilder (Gov-D-VA)
1931 Frederick Alfred Fox composer
1933 Aga Khan religious leader (Muslims)
1933 Bruno Schroder British baron/banker/multi-millionaire
1933 Sheree North [Dawn Bethel], Louisiana, actress (Mary Tyler Moore Show, Breakout, Madigan)
1933 Yolande Christina Dalida Cairo Egypt, actress/singer, Miss Egypt (The 6th Day)
1934 Shari Lewis Bronx NY, ventriloquist/puppeteer (Lamb Chop)
1934 Donald Cammell film director
1934 Sydney Phillip Hodkinson composer
1935 Jimmy Powell Dallas TX, PGA golfer (1990 Southwestern Bell Classic)
1935 Paul O[sborne] Williams US, sci-fi author (Ends of the Circle)
1936 Jerry Fogel Rochester NY, actor (Jerry-Mothers-in-Law, White Shadow)
1938 Paul Revere Harvard Nebraska, pianist (Paul Revere & Raiders)
1938 John Bellairs US, sci-fi author (Chessmen of Doom)
1939 Toini Gustafson Sweden, 5K/10K cross country skier (Olympics-gold-1968)
1939 Antao D'Souza cricketer (Pakistani pace bowler in six Tests 1959-62)
1939 Maury Povich TV host (Current Affair, Maury)/Mr Connie Chung
1940 H Kipchoge "Kip" Keino Kenya, 1500m runner (Olympics-gold-1968, 72)
1940 Oswald Mbuyiseni Mtshali South African poet (Fireflames)
1942 Muhammad Ali [Cassius Clay], heavyweight champ boxer (1964-7 74-8)
1942 Randy Boone Fayetteville NC, actor (Cimarron Strip, Virginian)
1943 Chris Montez rocker
1943 Daniel Charles Brandenstein Watertown Wi, astronaut (STS 8, 51-G, 32, 49)
1945 William Hart US singer (4 Gents, Delfonics-I'm Sorry)
1947 Todd Susman St Louis MO, actor (Goodnight Beantown)
1947 Gail Toushin LPGA golfer
1947 Jane Elliot New York City NY, actress (Baby Boom, General Hospital, Knots Landing)
1947 Ulysses Dove dancer/choreographer
1948 Alexander "Alec" Erwin South African worker's union leader
1948 Mick Taylor rock bassist (Rolling Stones-Brown Sugar)
1949 Andy Kaufman New York City NY, comedian/actor (Latka Gravas-Taxi)
1949 Debbie Watson La Mirada CA, actress (Karen, Tammy)
1951 Rolando Thoeni Italy, slalom (Olympics-bronze-1972)
1952 Ryuichi Sakamoto Japan, rocker (Academy Award 1988, Yellow Magic Orchestra)
1952 Larry Fortensky former husband (7th) of Liz Taylor
1953 Sheila Hutchinson rocker
1954 Robert F Kennedy Jr attorney (Natural Resources Defense Council)
1954 Janet Dykman Monterey Park CA, archer (Olympics-1996)
1955 Steve Earle San Antonio TX, country singer (Guitar Town)
1956 Mitch Vogel Alhambra CA, actor (Jamie-Bonanza)
1956 Paul Young rock vocalist/keyboardist (Every Time You Go Away)
1956 David Caruso actor (NYPD Blue, Michael Hayes)
1957 Donna Stone New Jersey, fencer-epee (Olympics-96)
1958 Jez Strode rocker (Kajagoogoo)
1960 John Crawford Palo Alto CA, bass (Berlin-You Take My Breath Away)
1960 Chili Davis Kingston Jamaica, outfielder (California Angels)
1961 Maia Chiburdanidze Kutaisi USSR, women's world chess champ
1961 Susanna Hoffs actress/rocker (Bangles-Walk Like an Egyptian)
1962 Jim Carrey Ontario Canada, actor (Living Color, Dumb & Dumber, Mask, Skip-Duck Factory)
1964 Jeff Tabaka US baseball pitcher (San Diego Padres)
1966 Karissa Rushing Benton AR, Miss America-Arkansas (1990)
1966 Anna Ivan La Jolla CA, tennis star
1966 Don Myrah Oakland CA, cyclist (Olympics-20th-96)
1966 Rexton Gordon "Shabba Ranks" Jamaican dj/rapper (Extra Naked)
1966 Trish Johnson Bristol England, LPGA golfer (1993 Las Vegas)
1967 Gregory Caccia Bayshore NY, team handball right back (Olympics-1996)
1967 William Michael Heinen Jr Rayne LA, PGA golfer (1994 Shell Houston)
1970 Candace Murray Vancouver BC, softball shortstop (Olympics-96)
1970 Darnell Walker NFL cornerback (Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers)
1970 Jeremy Roenick Boston MA, NHL center (Team USA, Blackhawks, Coyotes)
1971 Derek Plante Cloquet, NHL center (Buffalo Sabres)
1971 Peter Winter Australian decathlete (Olympics-96)
1971 Tyler Houston US baseball catcher (Atlanta Braves)
1972 Rohn Meyer CFL offensive linebacker (Calgary Stampeders)
1972 Wendall Gaines NFL tight end (Arizona Cardinals)
1973 Amanda Elizabeth Spivey Spartanburg SC, Miss South Carolina-America (1995)
1974 Derrick Mason wide receiver (Tennessee Oilers)
1974 Guillermo Mercedes Dominican/US baseball infielder (Texas Rangers)
1974 Marcus Spriggs offensive tackle (Buffalo Bills)
1974 Sharon Marie Ferris New Zealand, yachter (Olympics-96)
1977 Ali el Kattabi soccer player (Sparta)
1978 Irina A Borisova Miss Ukraine-Universe (1996)
1981 Ray J singer

Deaths which occurred on January 17:
0395 Theodosius I the Great, Spanish emperor of Rome, dies at 49
1103 Frutolf German monk/musicologist/historian, dies
1119 Boudouin VII Hapkin count of Flanders, dies
1229 Albert bishop of Riga/founder (Sword Knights), dies at about 68
1604 Santino Garsi composer, dies at 61
1617 Pieter C Bockenberg Dutch historian, dies at 68
1620 Diego Alvarez de Paz Spanish missionary/writer (Peru), dies at about 59
1625 Nicolo Rubini composer, dies at 50
1654 Paul Potter Dutch painter, buried
1661 Andres Malong Philippines rebel leader, executed
1676 Pier Francesco Cavalli Italian opera composer, dies at 73
1702 Thomas Franklin English smith/uncle of B Franklin, dies
1738 Jean-Francois Dandrieu composer, dies
1750 Tomaso Albinoni Italian composer (Adagio in G Minor), dies at 78
1781 Marie de Negre Dables marquess, dies
1788 Alessio Prati composer, dies at 37
1805 Abraham-Hyacinthe Anquetil du Perron French interpreter, dies at 73
1820 Daniel W Wyttenbach Dutch classicist/historian, dies at 73
1823 Zacharius Werner German playwright, dies at 36
1826 Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga y Balzola Spanish composer, dies at 19
1830 W Waiblinger writer, dies
1833 James Ball Antyne Scot founder (Ball Antyne Press), dies at about 60
1833 William Rush Indian sculptor (Spirit of the Schuylkill), dies
1856 Thomas Attwood Walmisley composer, dies at 41
1863 E J Horace Vernet French painter, dies at 73
1869 Alexander Sergeyevich Dargomyzhsky composer, dies at 55
1874 Chang & Eng Bunker Chinese/Thai Siamese twins, die at 62
1886 Amilcare Ponchielli Italian composer (La Gioconda), dies at 51
1889 Juan Montalvo Ecuadorian author (Siete Tratados), dies at 56
1890 Salomon Sulzer composer, dies at 85
1891 Johannes Josephus Hermanus Verhulst composer, dies at 74
1892 Alexandre Levy composer, dies at 27
1893 Rutherford B Hayes 19th US President (1877-81), dies in Fremont OH at 70
1901 Jacob G Agarah Swedish algologist, dies at 87
1902 Gideon Scheepers South African Boer leader, executed
1908 Ferdinand IV ruler of Toscane, dies at 72
1910 Thomas Crapper inventor (flush toilet), dies
1910 Wilhelm F Kohlrausch Germ physicist (Additiviteitsregel), dies at 69
1911 Francis Galton English scholar, dies at 88
1913 Carl Baermann composer, dies at 73
1917 Hendrik Goeman Borgesius Dutch politician, dies at 70
1933 John Hodges cricketer (6 wickets in Australia's 1st two Tests), dies
1938 William H Pickering astronomer (predicted Pluto), dies at 79
1941 José Leite de Vasconcelos Portuguese scholar (Etnografia), dies at 82
1942 Frederick Jerome Work composer, dies at 61
1946 Gottfried Rudinger composer, dies at 59
1952 Walter O "Spike" Briggs owner (Detroit Tigers), dies at 74
1955 Joannes A Veraart Dutch judge/MP, (Jews in Netherlands), dies at 68
1959 Abdul Aziz cricket, dies at 17 struck by ball in fc match for Karachi
1961 Patrice Lumumba African revolutionary, murdered at 36
1962 Gerrit Achterberg Dutch poet (Dead End), dies at 56
1964 Terence Hanbury White novelist (England Have My Bones), dies at 57
1966 Vincent J Donehue director (Lonelyhearts), dies of Hodgkin's at 50
1967 Evelyn Nesbit actress (Redemption), dies at 82
1968 Julis Deutsch Austria politician/General Spanish republican army, dies at 83
1969 Grazyna Bacewicz composer, dies at 59
1970 Billy Stewart singer (I Do Love You), dies in auto-accident at 32
1972 Rochelle Hudson actress (That's My Boy, Curly Top), dies from pneumonia at 55
1973 Fred Essler actor (Unsinkable Molly Brown), dies at 77
1976 Ad Verhoeven soccer player (Xerxes/Sparta), dies in auto-accident
1977 Gary Gilmore executed in Utah, 1st US execution since 1967
1980 Barbara Britton actress (Pamela-Mr & Mrs North), dies at 59
1983 Doodles Weaver actor/comedian (Ring of Fire), shoots himself at 71
1989 Sterling A Brown US poet/critic (Southern Road), dies at 87
1990 Charles Hernu French minister of Defense (1981-85), dies
1991 Olav AFEC van Sleeswijk-Holstein-S-G V King of Norway (1957), dies
1992 Bill Walker actor (Big Mo, Mask, Harlem Globetrotters), dies at 95
1992 Charlie Ventura jazz sax (Bop for the people), dies of cancer at 75
1992 Dorothy Alison actress (Maggie, 3rd Key, Long Arm), dies
1993 Ger ter Horst Dutch soccer trainer (Sparta), dies
1994 Allan G Odell Ad executive (Burma Shave), dies at 90
1994 Chung Il Kwon PM of South Korea (1964-70), dies
1994 Grady "Fats" Jackson tenor sax Player, dies at 66
1994 Han Jansen Dutch journalist (Volkskrant), dies at 61
1994 Klaas Peereboom Dutch sports reporter (Het Parool), dies at 77
1994 Noel Chiboust trumpeter/sax, dies at 84
1995 Isador Caplan lawyer/Aldeburgh Festival pioneer, dies at 82
1995 Urias Nooteboom Dutch journalist/critic (The Time), dies at 54
1996 Barbara Charline Jordan politician, dies at 59
1996 Charles Henry Madge poet writer/sociologist, dies at 83
1996 Giles William Playfair writer, dies at 85
1996 John Adrian Hope politician/businessman, dies at 83
1996 Robert Covington drummer/singer, dies at 54
1997 Andrea Fisher artist, dies at 21
1997 Asfa Wossen [Amha Selassie], crown emperor of Ethiopia in exile, dies
1997 Clyde William Tombaugh discoverer (Pluto), dies at 90
1998 Emil Sitka actor (3 Stooges shorts), dies of stroke at 82

On this day...
1501 Cesare Borgia returns in triumph to Rome from Romagna
1536 François Rabelais absolved of apostasy by Pope Paul III
1562 Edict of St Germain recognizes the Huguenots in France
1584 Bohemia adopts the Gregorian calendar
1595 French king Henri IV declares war on Spain
1601 France gains Bresse, Bugey, Valromey & Gex in treaty with Spain
1656 Brandenburg & Sweden sign Treaty of Königsberg
1718 Avalanche destroys every building in Leukerbad, Switzerland; kills 53
1746 Battle of Falkirk, Scotland-Prince Charles Edward Stuart defeated by Scots
1757 German Diet declares war on Prussia
1773 Captain James Cook becomes 1st to cross Antarctic Circle (66º 33' S)
1775 9 old women burnt as witches for causing bad harvests, Kalisk, Poland
1775 R B Sheridan's "Rivals" premieres in London
1779 Captain Cook's last notation in ship's log Discovery
1821 México permits Moses Austin & 300 US families to settle in Texas
1827 Duke of Wellington appointed British supreme commander
1832 Johannes van den Bosch appointed Governor-General of Dutch-Indies
1852 British recognize independence of Transvaal (in South Africa)
1861 Flush toilet (with separate water tank and a pull chain) patented by Mr Thomas Crapper (Honest!)
1862 -Jan 22nd) BBT Fort Henry TN by USS Lexington
1863 Civil War skirmish near Newtown VA
1864 General Longstreet's command ends heavy fighting at Dandridge TN
1871 1st cable car patented, by Andrew S Hallidie (begins service in 1873)
1874 Armed Democrats seize Texas government ending Radical Reconstruction
1882 1st Dutch female physician Aletta Jacobs opens office
1885 British beat Mahdists at Battle of Abu Klea in the Sudan
1893 -17ºF (-27ºC), Millsboro DE (state record)
1893 Queen Liliuokalani deposed, Kingdom of Hawaii becomes a republic
1895 French President Casimir-Perier resigns
1895 Félix Faure installed as President of France
1899 US takes possession of Wake Island in Pacific
1904 Anton Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard" opens at the Moscow Art Theater
1905 Punchboards patented by Charles Brewer & C G Scannell, Chicago IL
1911 Failed assassination attempt on premier Briand in French Assembly
1911 Percy Mackaye's "Scarecrow" premieres in New York City NY
1912 English explorer Robert Falcon Scott & his expedition reach the South Pole, only to discover that Roald Amundsen had gotten there 1 month before
1913 Raymond Poincaré elected President of France
1914 Gerhart Hauptmann's "Der Bogen des Odysseus" premieres in Berlin
1915 Antoni van Leeuwenhoek's Hospital in Amsterdam opens
1915 Russia occupies Bukovina & Western Ukraine
1916 1st PGA Championship Jim Barnes at Siwanoy Country Club, Bronxville NY; Professional Golfer Association (PGA) forms
1917 US pays Denmark $25 million for the Virgin Islands
1920 Paul Deschanel elected President of France
1923 Origin of Brown lunation numbers
1923 Belgian Working people Party protest against occupied Ruhrgebied
1926 George Burns marries Gracie Allen
1928 1st fully automatic photographic film developing machine patented
1929 Popeye makes 1st appearance, in comic strip "Thimble Theatre"
1933 Bradman takes second Test wicket, Hammond, bowled
1934 Electric Home & Farm Authority incorporated
1934 New York Giants reward NL MVP pitcher Carl Hubbell with $18,000 contract
1938 Supreme Soviet elects Michail Kalinin as presidium chairman
1939 Ed Barrow is elected Yankee president succeeding deceased J Ruppert
1943 Tin Can Drive Day
1944 Corvette Violet sinks U-641 in Atlantic Ocean
1945 Gilbert Dodds, record miler (4 05.3), retires to do gospel work
1945 Liberation of Warsaw by Soviet troops (end of Nazi occupation)
1945 Auschwitz concentration camp begins evacuation
1945 Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, credited with saving tens of thousands of Jews from the Nazis, arrested by secret police in Hungary
1946 United Nations Security Council holds its 1st meeting
1947 Muiden Netherlands ammunition factory explodes, 16 die
1948 Netherlands & Indonesia agree to a cease fire
1948 Trial of 11 US Communist party members begins in New York City NY
1950 11 men rob Brink's office in Boston of $1.2M cash & $1.5M securities
1950 "Alive & Kicking" opens at Winter Garden Theater New York City NY for 46 performances
1951 China refuses cease-fire in Korea
1954 Jacques Cousteau's 1st network telecast airs on "Omnibus" (CBS)
1954 NFL Pro Bowl East beats West 20-9
1954 Suggs Louise wins LPGA Sea Island Golf Open (Cloister)
1955 Submarine USS Nautilus begins 1st nuclear-powered test voyage
1957 9-county commission recommends creation of BART
1959 "Say, Darling" closes at ANTA Theater New York City NY after 332 performances
1960 Mickey Wright wins LPGA Sea Island Women's Golf Invitational
1960 NFL Pro Bowl West beats East 38-21
1961 Eisenhower allegedly orders the assassination of Congo's Lumumba
1962 NASA civilian pilot Neil A Armstrong takes X-15 to 40,690 m
1962 Roy Harris' 8th Symphony, premieres in San Francisco
1963 Joe Walker takes X-15 to altitude of 82 km
1963 Wilt Chamberlain of NBA San Francisco Warriors scores 67 points vs Los Angeles
1966 Martin Luther King Jr opens campaign in Chicago
1966 USAF B-52 carrying 4 unarmed hydrogen bombs crashes on Spanish coast at Palomares, 7 die
1968 Soyuz 4 & 5 completed 1st docking of 2 manned spacecraft
1969 Beatles release Yellow Submarine album in UK
1969 Debut album of Led Zeppelin released in US
1970 John M Burgess installed as bishop of Protestant Episcopals (Massachusetts)
1970 357 baseball players are available in the free-agent draft
1970 AFL Pro Bowl West beats East 26-3
1970 Sporting News names Willie Mays as Player of the Decade for the 1960s
1971 Super Bowl V Baltimore Colts-16, Dallas Cowboys-13 in Miami; Super Bowl MVP Chuck Howley, Dallas, Linebacker
1972 Section of Memphis' Highway 51 South renamed Elvis Presley Blvd
1973 New Philippine constitution names Marcos president for life
1973 City of Amsterdam decides to support Hanoi
1974 Styne, Comdem & Green's musical "Lorelei" premieres in New York City NY
1976 Hermes rocket launched by European Space Agency
1976 "I Write the Songs" by Barry Manilow hits #1
1977 7th AFC-NFC pro bowl, AFC wins 24-14
1977 Kansas City releases Tommy Davis, ends an 18-year career with 10 teams
1977 Zaire President Mobutu visits Belgium
1979 Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi flees Iran
1979 New York Islanders didn't get a shot off in 1 period against New York Rangers
1979 USSR performs underground nuclear test
1980 NASA launches Fltsatcom-3
1981 Philippino President Marcos ends state of siege
1983 Nigeria expels 2 million illegal aliens, mostly Ghanaians
1983 10th American Music Award Kenny Rogers
1983 Alabama Governor George C Wallace, becomes governor for record 4th time
1984 Supreme Court rules (5-4) private use of home VCRs to tape TV programs for later viewing does not violate federal copyright laws
1985 Azharuddin scores second Test century in second Test (v England)
1986 Tim Witherspoon beats Tony Tubbs in 15 to regain WBA heavyweight title
1987 President Reagan signs secret order permitting covert sale of arms to Iran
1988 "Teddy & Alice" closes at Minskoff Theater New York City NY after 77 performances
1988 Leslie Manigay elected President of Haiti
1989 Al Arbour wins his 600th NHL game as coach
1989 Gunman opens fire in California schoolyard; 5 students slain, 30 wounded
1989 Victoria Murden & Shirley Metz are 1st women to reach South Pole overland (on skis)
1989 Phoenix Suns cancel game at Miami Heat, due to racial unrest in Miami
1990 Dave Stewart signs record $3,500,000 per year Oak A's contract
1990 5th Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Awards Bobby Darin
1990 Who, Simon & Garfunkel, 4 Seasons, 4 Tops, Hank Ballard, Platters & Kinks inducted into Cleveland's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
1991 Iraq fires 8 SCUD missiles on Israel - 1st US pilot shot down (Jeffrey Zahn)
1991 Mountie Jacques Rougeau beats Hart for WWF intercontinental title
1992 Sarah Ferguson attends dinner of Everglades club (club excludes Jews)
1993 14th ACE Cable Awards HBO wins 32 awards
1993 Russian Irina Privalova cycles world record 300m indoor (35.45")
1994 6.6 Earthquake hits Los Angeles killing 60, $30B in damage
1994 Liz Taylor released from the hospital after hip treatment
1995 "Carousel" closes at Beaumont Theater New York City NY after 322 performances
1995 7.2 earthquake destroys Kobe Japan (5,372 die)
1995 Australia beat Australia A 2-0 to win the World Series Cup
1995 Los Angeles Rams announce that they are moving to St Louis
1997 NBA suspends Dennis Rodman indefinitely/$25,000 for kicking cameraman
1998 President Clinton faces sexual harassment charges from Paula Jones

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

Poland : Liberation Day
US : Martin Luther King Jr Day (1929) - - - - - ( Monday )
Virginia : Lee-Jackson Day - - - - - ( Monday )
Florida : Arbor Day - - - - - ( Friday )

Religious Observances
Roman Catholic, Anglican : Memorial of St Anthony, abbot, patron of domestic animals

Religious History
395 With the death of Emperor Theodosius I (the Great), this became the last day the (Christian) Roman Empire was controlled by a single leader. In his wisdom, Theodosius had divided the empire into western and eastern portions.
1377 The Papal See was moved back to Rome by Gregory XI. Located in France for 72 years, it had been moved to Avignon by French pope Clement V in 1305, originally to escape the political turmoil rampant within Italy at the time.
1562 The Edict of St. Germain officially recognized French Protestantism.
1745 Colonial missionary to the American Indians David Brainerd wrote in his journal: 'Oh, how comfortable and sweet it is, to feel the assistance of divine grace in the performance of the duties which God has enjoined on us!'
1963 The Baptist World Mission was incorporated in Chicago. This independent organization of Baptist tradition is engaged primarily in evangelism, church planting and education in 17 overseas countries.

Thought for the day :
"Artificial Intelligence is no match for natural stupidity."
20 posted on 01/17/2003 7:07:31 AM PST by Valin (Place your ad here)
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To: Valin
"Artificial Intelligence is no match for natural stupidity."

LOL! Great thought for the day.

21 posted on 01/17/2003 7:13:54 AM PST by SAMWolf (To look into the eyes of the wolf is to see your soul)
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To: HiJinx
I tried that work thing once. Not for me.
10-15 mins. a month..good for a person, but I think anything more than that is a little excessive.
22 posted on 01/17/2003 7:25:05 AM PST by Valin (Place your ad here)
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To: SAMWolf
23 posted on 01/17/2003 7:29:11 AM PST by Pippin (world's TALLEST hobbit)
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Comment #24 Removed by Moderator

To: coteblanche
Thanks for reposting that poem and the story behind it Cote.

I'm getting you to learn U.S. History so you can dazzle all you friends with your astonishing knowledge of your neigbors to the South.
25 posted on 01/17/2003 8:09:41 AM PST by SAMWolf (To look into the eyes of the wolf is to see your soul)
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To: MistyCA; Victoria Delsoul; AntiJen; All
Wally Hoffman of Olympia, Wash., was a crew member on a B-17 during World War II. He took part in a remarkable 35 missions, and has begun writing his memoirs with the help of a course at the Virtual University. In his second guest Story of the Week, Wally describes his participation in the bombing of Schweinfurt.

Again I realize there is that pesky flashlight in my face, and I hear an invitation – "Breakfast at Five and Briefing at Six." I lay there dragging my eyes open and my thoughts together. This is Mission No. 4. I wonder what is on that map in the Briefing Room. We’ve been to Cologne, Bremen, and Kassel and flew as a spare yesterday. If nothing else we are sure learning the geography of Germany. This time I shaved in warm water as I had remembered to fill my helmet and put it on the stove before going to bed. There was hot water last night, so I had the luxury of a hot shower. We seem to be getting into a routine, for now I dressed from the clothes I had laid out the night before.

As I walked out the door I looked at the empty beds and thought, "Those guys only yesterday were doing the same things I’m doing." Little did I know that by tonight there would be 600 more empty beds as over 60 of our planes would be shot down.

Outside it was not only black, it was foggy. They aren’t going to have us take off in this fog, are they? As I walked into the Combat Mess there was that same knot in my stomach, and the eggs were still staring at me. When we sat down at the table there was Bob with a full plate and a blank look on his face. Resnik wasn’t interested in eating too much after that first mission when at altitude he ended up with terrific cramps. Soon we were outside and again it was "hurry up and wait."

I was thinking of some of the things you learn with each mission: using a condom to put over the mike in your oxygen mask to keep it dry, squeezing your oxygen mask so the ice doesn’t clog it up, and shaking the ice out – then getting smart enough to carry two masks. Using a condom to urinate, tying a knot in it and then throwing it out (I told my children later in life when they ask me what I had done during the war that I had the pleasure of pissing all over Germany).

On the first mission I had noticed after we left the target that many of the planes would again open their bomb bay doors and you would see one or two chaff boxes come tumbling out (chaff were thin strips of tinfoil used to confuse the German radar). When I ask about it I received a big laugh and was advised this is our secret weapon, you will soon find out! On the trip to Bremen one of the crew had to answer nature’s call. He used one of the chaff boxes and we too bombed Germany twice on that trip.

All too soon the doors to the Briefing Room swing open. There is a heavy smoke haze, and the temperature has risen noticeably from the body heat being given off. Everyone is sitting at all angles and postures. Some are sitting up and sound asleep. Others are engaged in animated conversation with their neighbors while the rest are staring straight ahead.You can feel the fear, the dread, and the thought of death in the room, but we are all are confident in our training and in one another.

A nattily dressed major steps onto the stage and begins the roll call, calling the names of the crew commanders. Each answers for his crew. The major then moves to the back of the stage and draws back the black curtain of doom, revealing the map which will dictate our lives for the next fourteen hours. This time there is no noise as everyone leans forward, looking at the end of the red yarn.

"It’s Schweinfurt," the major says, and then he gives us time to think. A buzz of voices breaks out, and one voice says, "Sonofabitch!" and "This is my last mission." And it was, as he was one of those who never came back.

The Security Officer steps forward and instructs us: "Do not talk about the mission once you have left the room, and this also applies to a scrubbed target. Anyone flying this mission who has not had POW (prisoner of war) instruction report to the S-2 officer after this briefing. Be sure to wear your dog tags, GI shoes, and don’t wear any insignia. Carry your rank, name and serial number, and no billfolds, pictures, or letters. No one will leave this briefing until dismissed." We were told this at every briefing.

Everyone listens attentively to the intelligence officer; there is no longer any screwing around, for his instructions could mean the difference between life and death. An immediate feeling of immense doom goes through the briefing room, and no one tries to look at one another. We are all thinking the same thing, "Who will be missing from here tonight? How many crews will get it today?"

We are advised the flak should be light en route, although we will pick up some south of the Ruhr. The target is defended by about 500 88-millimeter guns and the gun crews are very good. We would be under aimed fire from the flak for seven minutes. The enemy fighters will be persistent and aggressive. The fighters will try to break up the formation with head-on attacks. Don’t panic and try to dodge. This would leave you wide open if you straggle. Always stay in defensive formations and if someone ahead of you gets out of formation, move right up into his place, for he has either been hit and will go down anyway, or he is straggling. We don’t dally, because it’s our necks that are stake.

The weather officer takes the stage and is the least assuring of all. The weather is lousy. The visibility is down to a quarter of a mile, but we were assured it will be up to one mile by takeoff. That is a lot better when you are rolling down a runway which is only a mile long and the belly of your plane is pregnant with stifled hell. The wings contain three thousand gallons of 100 octane flaming inferno. Everyone starts to leave, but some wait and assemble in little groups as men slip to their knees before their chaplains — Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish.

As we walked into the ready room I was suddenly hit with this deep depression and a feeling of dread as I thought, "This is not the glamorized Wild Blue Yonder we had all heard about so many times. We will be fighting five miles above the earth. There are no foxholes to hide in up there. Most of the time there isn’t even the opportunity of fighting back; you just sit there and take it. We live by the laws of chance as we drive through the flak which seems thick enough to walk on. Would we be by chance in that one spot where the projectile shot at us by random from the ground would intersect the plane and ourselves? The life and death struggle of the plane with all of us inside. Maybe some dead, perhaps some wounded, and some not even scratched. At that moment all of our lives would reach a crisis in the heaving and smoking plane in that freezing hostile sky. It wasn’t the anxiety of maybe being killed before the day ended, but a deeper, far-off feeling as if I weren’t operating within my own body. As I dressed, in preparation for the long mission, I looked at the rest of the crew with a detached and lonely sadness, wondering will we be together tonight? I didn’t want to expose my feelings to them for fear they would feel I was not equal to doing my part; as all of our lives depended on one another. In kind of a dream I proceeded to our plane, and went through the motions of the pre-flight checklist. I was there and seemed to be doing all that was necessary, but I also seemed to be detached and out of my body; I had the feeling I was watching in another dimension what I was doing. Knowing we were in for a rough mission, we loaded (illegally because of weight) many additional boxes of .50-caliber ammunition. Rechecked out flak suits and helmets. All of us made one last trip to the bushes to relieve ourselves.

Next thing we were starting the engines, taxiing into position, moving down the runway and again missing those damn trees. We formed up at 30,000 feet and soon crossed the channel into Germany. All this time it seemed as if I were doing everything necessary, but by the numbers. Soon I heard, "Bandits 9 o’clock high," and I could feel those 20-millimeter shells going through the plane. When a cannon shell hits a fortress, the way it sounds depends on where you are. If you aren’t too close it is like a metallic woof and you feel a jar that shakes the whole plane which reaches you and leaves you instantly. If the shell explodes close to you there is nothing gentle and it certainly isn’t a momentary tremor. It is like a giant slapping his hand on the water. There are two sounds – one from the impact and the second of the shell exploding. It’s like firing a shotgun into a bucket which all comes back exploding in your face. For a moment you aren’t scared because your senses are dulled. Your bowels seem weak (you tighten your pucker string), your stomach shrivels up until you can figure out how much you are hurt. It was as if a huge electrical shock had hit me, and from then on to this day I have never felt fear. It was as if my mind had gone into a corner to hide and had then come charging out. In talking to others later I found we all went through some factors of this withdrawal, or we totally retreated from ourselves and could no longer perform.

I suddenly found myself in a world alien to everything I had ever known. The ME-109s and FW-190s leapt into existence without warning with sudden flashes of light winking at you from the distance. There are cannon shells and bombs, aerial mines and rockets exploding. Each one intent on getting us and our pregnant bomb load. We are no longer in a stately march through the upper heavens. We desperately try for the crisp efficiency of our tight formation, but it is impossible to achieve in this raging space of time. We slog our way through the thickening mass of exploding flame and smoke with the equal determination of every member of the crew. We drive ahead through a whirlwind of steel splinters and flame and jagged chunks of red-hot metal (flak). The steel is everywhere, it crashes into wings, engines, bulkheads and airplane bodies; and into the bodies of men – spewing blood, tissue, intestines, and brains.

The plane is alive with lights as all the guns are firing, and the noise is deafening. There is the shout of "incoming bandits" from all around the clock and the .50-caliber machine guns can be heard and felt above the roar of the plane. My world seems to plunge into insanity as the sounds of air battle are all over and numberless and all becomes an inhuman shriek. Our ship doesn’t seem to be occupied by men, we are more like beings from another world, with strange breathing systems dangling beneath our faces.

As quickly as it started we are alone – and outside the sun is extremely bright. Our enemy now is the temperature which is minus fifty degrees and never seems to relax its vigil against us for any exposure to sensitive flesh and frostbite.

Germany is below us and in the distance we can the see the first black specks of flak over the target. We now begin to assess what battle damage we have taken. Was everyone OK? Soon everyone was checking in: tail OK except almost out of ammo and was reloading the belts; waist OK lost my flak helmet somewhere; ball, one of the side windows was hit, can’t see anything except straight ahead; radio, OK; top turret "think I was hit in the leg and my ammunition boxes are gone." It turns out that a 20-mm came through the turret knocking out the ammo boxes on each side and tearing off his flight suit at the thigh. He had a slight red mark on one leg. Ammo boxes were moved in and connected to both guns with the hope they wouldn’t jam. In the cockpit the gauges are still working, but the glass on the dials looks as if someone has taken a hammer to them. The radio compass is shattered, and the other radios are hanging by their cords. They seem to be working; at least the intercom is OK. The left windshield in front of the co-pilot has two vicious looking cracks in it. The co-pilot’s flak helmet was knocked off and has a huge hole in it. He doesn’t have a mark, although I think he is turning gray. In the nose one of the cheek guns is out, and the navigator’s table is shattered as well as his instruments. For all the holes our plane is still flying. It’s a miracle nobody has been seriously wounded.

The bombardier is already looking for his aiming point as the controls are hooked to the bomb sight. The fighters are coming in all directions at the squadron ahead of us; it will be a relief as we go down flak alley on the IP. Soon the sky around us filled with flak bursts, paving the way to the target. The explosions sound as if someone is throwing rocks at you when they burst close. Those flak gunners on the ground are good. The fighters usually leave when you get into the flak from the target; however, this time they are flying through their own flak. Apparently they have been told to defend the target at all costs. These fighters may be the enemy, but I have never seen braver men. All the German efforts to keep us from the target have failed, but we have paid a terrible price. The stakes were high, but the "Devil" was the winner. The target below is fast deteriorating into smoke and debris as our strings of bombs walk through the city. Its dead will outnumber our losses by a great number. Finally we feel the plane lighten in little jerks as the bombs pass out of the bomb bay on their way to Germany. We are now at the halfway point of the mission as we begin a wide turn to the right. There is little need to get into formation as everyone is staying close. As we make our turn you can see the other formations behind us. They look ragged and are still under attack from the fighters. The fighters are leaving the "cripples" alone and going for those planes still carrying bombs. As we turn you can see the target below and the sticks of bombs on their five-mile flight to earth. The target is covered with smoke and gray dust is rising from the impact of the bombs.

As we look out there are no fighters roaring in against us with their guns winking at us. It seems so quiet and good to only hear the noise of the engines and the air rushing by as our faithful girl hurtles us toward home. We are soon over France and a few fighters appear in the distance, but do not press any attack against us. We now look for our little friends and assume they must be busy somewhere else. The cloud cover comes up to 20,000 feet and we are told to let down over the channel. Each group will proceed to their base individually. We soon see the angry water of the channel, then are flying up the "Wash" (a large estuary on the east coast of England); with the stacks of Peterborough in sight we turn southwest and there is Polebrook below us. What a wonderful sight as how many times in the past twelve hours have we all wondered if we’d ever see the base again?

As we cross the field preparing to break into the landing pattern we can see the men on the hardstands, the meat wagons with the red cross on top, and the fire trucks parked along the runway. They are all watching us and counting the bombers and trying to read the symbols as we fly over. All of a sudden there are many red flares indicating planes with wounded on board that will proceed into the pattern and land first. We line up with the runway on our final approach, cross the boundary of the field, start the flare and soon the wheels touch the runway, and we are down. As soon as the tail settles to the runway there is a terrific bang followed by a loud screeching of metal! Not only had the tail wheel blown, but the whole tail assembly seems to be dragging behind the plane. The tower tells us we look like a giant sparkler. We complete our roll and are off the runway into the grass and mud. The engine’s roar dies out and the silence is followed by a mad dash of everyone from the plane. As we are leaving the plane a fire truck and ambulance are johnny on the spot. We find out later that during the fighter attacks the total frame just forward of the horizontal stabilizer had been torn apart by the 20 mm shells. Only the skin and the control cables held it together.

Our plane, "Morning Delight," just seems to sit there panting. The gallant lady gave us all she had during the past 10 hours. She never flew again as she was so heavily damaged, and became another of the "Queen Bee’s" planes – used for parts.

You don’t live and fly a fortress for months without coming to know the plane in the most intimate way. You know the sturdy construction she represents, and how forgiving she is to fly. She is there in our hearts for all of us for the days to come if by chance we survive this war.

We retrieve our gear from the plane and are picked up by a truck. We pass the hardstands (parking and maintenance area for the plane) with their waiting crews. They all wave and give us the victory sign. However, many will soon silently and sadly return to their headquarters and receive the condolences of the more fortunate crews. They will wait for a new bomber and a new combat crew. We have the truck stop at our hardstand so we can tell the crew chief and his people that except for the maintenance on that plane we would probably be down somewhere in Germany and now a statistic. It is little wonder we have come to the realization it is impossible to complete a full tour. Everyone comes to the conclusion he will be shot down eventually.

As we all proceed to debriefing we look around and the faces this morning which had the look of expectation are now gray and blank. We are all thinking of too many friends who have gone down in flames before our eyes. What about tomorrow and the tomorrow after that? There are too many concrete hardstands stained with oil and grease where the bombers once stood that are empty, replaced by a terrible aching void. A ground crewman is seen aimlessly walking off looking as if he had lost his brother.

In the debriefing room we all sit around the table and this time the questions are quietly asked with a great deal of consideration. How many fighters, what types, and what were their methods of attack? Were there any special weapons or markings? How about the flak, how much, did it appear accurate?

The following is a quote from a post-mission briefing of a B-17 pilot, Oct. 12, 1943: "I had accepted the fact that I was not going to live through this mission. It was as simple as that. I was calm; it was a strange sort of resignation. I knew for certain that it was only a matter of seconds or minutes. It was impossible for us to survive…"

The debriefings are usually not so solemn; however, this time all of us are engulfed by the shock of the mission. Most of us still don’t believe we are here, safe on the ground. We are bone tired (I still remember how tired I was all the time I flew combat), and feel sick with the reflection of death. We somehow survived but our friends and brothers were struck down. You stare at the floor with eyes glazed, smoke cigarettes, and drink tasteless coffee. As we are leaving the briefing room we notice that Bob is stumbling along. We see as we look closer he is crying – for all of us thinking of those who didn’t get back.

We will remember the battle which took place five miles up in the air where we fought to the death. There is no way anyone could ever revisit the battleground as it took place in the sky which today is now washed clean. There are no scars and no one can walk the battleground and say here by that hill is where it all took place. There were no bystanders nor any noncombatants with a firsthand look. All those who saw the battle were on the ground five miles or more away, and they saw only the flaming planes, the parachutes, contrails, explosions, smoke, and the charred bodies. Nor did they see the flak- and bullet-riddled planes as they struggled home to an asphalt runway across the English Channel. There no longer exists the roar of all those planes, the flashing propellers, the open hatches with the smoking .50-caliber machine guns. The punishment of the long hours at sub-zero temperature, breathing oxygen in the frozen uncomfortable oxygen mask because of the thin rarefied air.

That page of blazing history is now closed, although the scars of those of us who came home will always remain. It is always easy to write of the battles won with the enemy conquered. We fought and struggled to reach the target and on the way were mauled and shot to pieces by the fighters and flak guns of the enemy. The German pilots knew only too well the effectiveness against our bombers. They also witnessed the burning planes, bombers with the wings torn off, crews tumbling through the air, and the burning bodies. How could those bomber crews take such punishment and hand it back while continuing to fly toward the target? There never was a question of not reaching the target, no matter how many formations were split apart, how many bombers were in flames, and how cruel the test. We still continued on with white knuckles and a tightened pucker string.

Despite all these attacks against our formations the 8th Air Force was never turned back by enemy opposition and always bombed the target.

Thus ended the fateful day when I was introduced to reality.

26 posted on 01/17/2003 8:51:59 AM PST by SAMWolf (To look into the eyes of the wolf is to see your soul)
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To: SAMWolf

Click on the graphic and send a letter of support to soon to be dployed troops.

27 posted on 01/17/2003 9:28:58 AM PST by SAMWolf (To look into the eyes of the wolf is to see your soul)
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To: PatriotGames; ProudEagle; sonsa; Fiddlstix; larryjohnson; auboy; 06isweak; 0scill8r; 100American; ..
PING to the FReeper Foxhole daily thread in the VetsCoR Forum!

To be removed from this list, Click this link and send a BLANK FReepmail to AntiJen.

If you have comments for me to read, use this link. Thanks!

28 posted on 01/17/2003 10:40:44 AM PST by Jen (Dive on in to the FReeper Foxhole. BYOS (bring your own shovel))
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To: AntiJen; SAMWolf
29 posted on 01/17/2003 10:53:10 AM PST by Mudboy Slim (RE-Impeach Osama bil Clinton!!!!!!)
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To: Mudboy Slim
Howdy to you too!
30 posted on 01/17/2003 10:56:05 AM PST by Jen (Dive on in to the FReeper Foxhole. BYOS (bring your own shovel))
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To: SAMWolf; All
WOW! What a great thread and story by Wally Hoffman. I'm headed to AL, but I'll be back tonight to read more.
31 posted on 01/17/2003 10:56:57 AM PST by Jen (Dive on in to the FReeper Foxhole. BYOS (bring your own shovel))
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To: SAMWolf
My uncle was a co-pilot of a B-17 and was killed in 1943. I don't think it was on this mission however. God Bless him and all the others who gave their lives to keep the world from being taken over by fascists.

Thanks for posting this story.

32 posted on 01/17/2003 10:59:47 AM PST by Protagoras
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To: AntiJen
I'll dig in as soon as I finish diggin' out my driveway from the 4"-5" we got last night. Beautiful day, indeed!!


33 posted on 01/17/2003 11:00:36 AM PST by Mudboy Slim (RE-Impeach Osama bil Clinton!!!!!!)
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To: AntiJen
Thanks Jen!

Click on pic for "War in the West" - a major resource on air power over Europe.

34 posted on 01/17/2003 11:02:44 AM PST by facedown (Armed in the Heartland)
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To: AntiJen
35 posted on 01/17/2003 11:14:45 AM PST by E.G.C.
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To: SAMWolf
Thanks for the post. My Uncle John Farley was a pilot with the 305th and was knocked down on Black Thursday. He spent the rest of the war as a POW. He's still alive, too.
36 posted on 01/17/2003 11:17:14 AM PST by JackelopeBreeder (Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.)
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To: AntiJen
Thanks for the alert.

"When the 42nd "Rainbow" Infantry Division liberated Schweinfurt in 1945, they sent the Nazi flag flying over the town hall to the men of the 305th Bombardment Group. "

"At 0800 on 12 April, Companies A nd G were organized into a T-Force which, under the command of Major Barret, worked under control of Division G-3. At the same time Company L was organized as a T-Force under control of Lt Col Babcock. Both T-Forces moved under Division control to Schweinfurt.

I was in Major Barret's T-Force. There was not much resistance. We took over their factories and seized their records. Later there was a memorial service for Roosevelt who had died. Then the Division moved on to Nurmburg, Dachau and Munich. I was in Munich the day Hitler killed himself.

37 posted on 01/17/2003 11:26:11 AM PST by ex-snook (Those who don't remember war are bound to repeat it.)
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To: SAMWolf
38 posted on 01/17/2003 11:40:02 AM PST by EdReform (
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To: SAMWolf
Aw, man, you bring tears to my eyes. I can't see a WWII bomber without thinking of my dad, a tail gunner on B-24.
39 posted on 01/17/2003 11:47:43 AM PST by Lee'sGhost (Edwards sucks (excuse my French))
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To: AntiJen
Thanks for the ping!
40 posted on 01/17/2003 11:48:23 AM PST by Lee'sGhost (Edwards sucks (excuse my French))
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To: AntiJen
41 posted on 01/17/2003 11:51:10 AM PST by patton (Spelling in Englisch gives me a headache)
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To: All
Show your support, Have your e-mail or snail mail letter of support and appreciation HAND DELIVERED to a Service member.
42 posted on 01/17/2003 11:59:14 AM PST by SAMWolf (To look into the eyes of the wolf is to see your soul)
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To: ThomasJefferson
I'm sorry to hear about your uncle, I consider him a hero along with all the others who flew daylight raids over Europe.
43 posted on 01/17/2003 12:01:21 PM PST by SAMWolf (To look into the eyes of the wolf is to see your soul)
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To: facedown
Thanks for another excellent link facedown.
44 posted on 01/17/2003 12:02:16 PM PST by SAMWolf (To look into the eyes of the wolf is to see your soul)
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To: JackelopeBreeder
Thank your uncle for his service from me next time you talk to him.
45 posted on 01/17/2003 12:03:05 PM PST by SAMWolf (To look into the eyes of the wolf is to see your soul)
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To: ex-snook
I again thank you for your service, we can never thank you and the others enough for what you accomplished during the War.
46 posted on 01/17/2003 12:04:24 PM PST by SAMWolf (To look into the eyes of the wolf is to see your soul)
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To: Lee'sGhost
We're planning a Ploesti Thread. Was your dad on that mission?
47 posted on 01/17/2003 12:05:29 PM PST by SAMWolf (To look into the eyes of the wolf is to see your soul)
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To: AntiJen
48 posted on 01/17/2003 12:08:41 PM PST by manna
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To: AntiJen
Dropped in, currently dangling from ceiling fixture.
Awaiting SAR....
49 posted on 01/17/2003 12:10:11 PM PST by Darksheare (This Tagline has been deleted by the Americans for Socialist Septicemia, All hail Brak!)
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To: SAMWolf
It's one of the few things he ever talked about re the war, but for the life of me I'm not sure he was actually in it. I'll have to find out somehow. Any idea how I might check military records?
50 posted on 01/17/2003 12:12:31 PM PST by Lee'sGhost (Edwards sucks (excuse my French))
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