Archive for the ‘WWII’ category


June 16, 2018

I helped bomb Tokyo on the Doolittle raid of April 18, 1942.   I crashed in the China Sea.   I learned the full, deep meaning of the term ‘United Nations’*   from men and women whose language I couldn’t speak.   I watched a buddy of mine saw of my left leg.   And finally I got home to my wife after being flown, shipped, and carried around the world.

And those are the opening lines of  30 Seconds Over Tokyo.

They are simple, straightforward descriptive words of Captain Ted Lawson,  about 23 years old.   For that reason alone this short book is enjoyable to read,  but its also vitally,  crucially informative for us who live 70 or so years later.

Captain Lawson tells us from the viewpoint of a participant what the Doolittle Bombing Run over Tokyo looked like and felt like.  He takes us through the long months of preparation for an unknown mission, and then what it felt like to fly that mission,  and then the long period right after in which the young men were severely injured, aided by a series of Chinese (peasant)  villages in an island jungle where it was uncertain whether any would survive.

As Captain Lawson  crash landed and was being barely kept alive, he realized that  the actual mission, the reason for all the planning, expense,  training, putting young men in danger – that mission lasted only 30 seconds.   It was successful,  but so short!

This is a  book I read in honor of Memorial Day, and I remembered this was my first “adult”  book I ever read, at age 12.    Funny,  the book is so well written, so immediate and personally descriptive that I remember how I saw some of the same passages I was rereading  (*** years) later.        ( Well, I can’t believe THAT much time has passed ….)

Anyway,  I highly, highly recommend this little book to everyone.   Today,  Tokyo is as far away from us as the East is from the West,   but there is cordiality between our peoples,  and the first goal of our governments is to maintain true peace.

I’ll give you one last insight from Captain Lawson:

“You think it was worth while?”  one of the boys asked me before we went to sleep . . . .

I thought it over for a while, trying to see the whole thing objectively .   When I finally said that I did,  I meant it. . . .

I hadn’t thought much about our people  (American citizens)  before that night.  A fellow doesn’t volunteer for something like the Japan raid,  bomb the place, try to get away, lose a leg, and then say, “This is for the dear people.”    You just don’t say or openly feel those things.     You think a bout yourself most of the time;  whether you’ll have the guts enough to go through with the thing, and whether you’ll get away with it.

It’s only later, when you add up things and get the sum, that you think of the people.  And the cause.  And then you hope you’ve done both of them some good.

Captain Lawson,  of the Greatest Generation.


.*   The ‘United Nations’ he is referring to is a concept,  a hope for peace a nd good will to all the nations of the earth.  The United Nations as we know it did not come into existence until a few years after this mission.



January 9, 2018

Just want to alert you all to a really great movie that I saw today.  I don’t see many,  but I sure am glad I saw this one.


It is Darkest Hour,  a study of Winston Churchill in 1940 as he and the British government (and people)  came to terms with the very real threat presented by Hitler – who up to that time was seen by intellectuals  as an aid against Bolshevism.  At times it seemed that Winston Churchill was the only one who saw the threat clearly and knew that Britain had to fight – and was the last nation standing against Hitler which could do so.

But how to convince others of that?

Churchill himself had a long and not entirely successful public career.    He was known for his big failures and bad judgment.   On the other hand,  he showed exceptional courage and determination in many circumstances.   His speaking manner was brash, blunt, to the point,  painfully honest and uncompromising.   But he was right about Hitler and his qualities were very much needed at the time.

He also had a sense of humor,  the kind that takes you unawares and will knock the legs out from under you, metaphorically speaking.   I found that I agreed with his take on many things and his humorous, hyperbolic way of saying it.

wc apple

I agree,   for instance,  wholeheartedly with this statement of his.

I don’t know if your parents or grandparents or great-grandparents lived during these times and participated in  WWII and passed on any knowledge to you,    but I do know that we need to know about that generation and how they obtained the moral fortitude to recognize and defeat the enemy.

We, alive today,  need to know them and understand them!    This movie can contribute greatly to our knowledge of what it takes to live in this world.    We may need to have this knowledge to use as our guide and our model  when our times become undeniably dangerous.


God grant we never have to face such a serious threat –  but then again God doesn’t help a a nation that has deliberately turned away from Him.      A society made of a few good souls and a lot of bad souls will lose in the end,  but maybe a movie like this can teach us a thing or two — because the bombs fall on the good and bad alike.

On the way home from the movie I stopped by my little library and found this book:

wc book


It’s turning out to be a very good one, a very valuable one.   Yes, the character and personality and persistence of Winston Churchill really was a deciding factor leading his nation into the painful and costly pathway to victory.

The book itself explains the situation in more depth and fills out the characters that were seen in the movie.   Very satisfying to know these times more deeply.

So,  highly recommended:  Darkest Hour

Highly recommended;   The Churchill Factor

Highly recommended:    To look at reality,  to learn the truth,  to act according to the Truth.

Anything less is a Neville Chamberlain type of postponement of  inevitable disaster.   The world doesn’t fix itself by compromising .


June 6, 2017

D-Day:  The Sixth of June.   1944.     Lest we forget.


Some of you know Cooper is my grandson.   He’s a typical six-year-old;  he plays and swims and skis and kayaks and white-water rafts (down the beautiful and rather tame Truckee River)  and he golfs and he takes dance lessons and he plays violin, he’s just discovered reading —  and he appreciates some good red balloons!

Cooper aNd bigred balls cr

That’s his home, on Donner Lake,  California.

He can do all those activities  BECAUSE   American   young people did this:

DDay arricing


16, 17, 18 . . . 20 year olds  . . .   24,  30, 32,   38 year olds . . .  and every young man in between arrived on those Normandy beaches for an impossibly difficult mission.


Not everyone made it to the beach:

dday dragging

Up and over, right into German artillery – firing at them.

DDay hump

So many died.   I don’t think they’d want us to forget their story.

Because our young people in uniform do things like that,  Cooper can remain safe and play and learn . . . .



We MUST make sure our young people are taught this, once again.  



December 7, 2016

(The local news gets personal.)

Our local television news decided to run a feature story on the USS Utah today.  They showed the Utah,  the Utah being blown up at Pearl Harbor, and a little of the museum they made out of its wreckage.

This 07 December 1941 file photo obtaine

Now,  the USS Utah is the ship my grandpa served on in World War One!    After its service it was taken to Pearl Harbor and used for bomb and torpedo sightings, where my uncle was stationed at the time.      But the Japanese are the ones who actually sunk it.

Afterwards  it was put to rights –


My grandpa enlisted in the Navy when he was 18 years old.  

My dad enlisted in the Marine Corps when he was 17 years old.

When I was 18 and even when I was 17,  I didn’t think there was anything remarkable about those ages . . .   it sure felt old enough.   After all,  I was leaving home and going away to college and to  a job and new home of my own.

But a few decades later I had a son.

You want to know why there are all those paintings of the Madonna and Child?  All those Christmas cards with the Madonna and Child?


It’s because a woman looks on in wonder as her son grows up to be a man.    But!    Her son lives in her heart in all the ages he ever was,  including the most tender  and innocent stage of his being.    The wondrous person her little son started out to be,  with all its promise and hope;  yes, he grows up,   but the love began at his beginning and it never fades.

So when my son became 17 and then 18 years old,   and I thought of my dad and my grandpa at that age,  signing up to go to war . . .    Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

It is unthinkable!

Whew!   We’ve had no wars where mothers must  make this sacrifice. . . .

And now a little story:    I heard an author on the radio last night who had just written a new book on Pearl Harbor.   He said he did all his own original research for the book, so it could be a clear and new as possible.

Among the interviews he read (and conducted)  was a man who had been at Pearl Harbor.    The man said most of the officers were sleeping that early morning of December 7th  on shore,  but the men on the ships were the very young sailors.    The author  said he hadn’t realized how   young that  group of men were who  served on those ships,  young and innocent and unsophisticated.

He said it was a Wally Cleaver world!


Wally Cleaver

I do hope you are familiar with the older brother of the Beave,    in Leave it to Beaver.  Wally was a typical teenager of his times,   good, sincere,  open to the world,  a little bit on the klutzy edge of approaching adulthood.     A real guy.

Echoing the attitude of Wally Cleaver,   this interviewee of the author of the new Pearl Harbor book said,  after watching the ships blowing up,  “Gee,  we didn’t even know the Japs were sore at us!!”

Why was Japan mad at us?    Why would they bomb us?

Well, there are all kinds of “grown-up”  theories about why Pearl Harbor happened.  We may never know the complete truth,  but we do know that many, many, many of these very young men,  teenagers,   learned how to fight hard for their country and many, many died.

It’s a heck of a way to grow up into manhood.







May 8, 2015

May 8th,  Victory in Europe Day.   (It’s not ancient history to me – or to many of you!)

As it happens,  I have three postings for today (which I may or may not get to today), but I’ll start with the most fundamental one,   the little story about why I exist, because if it weren’t for May 8th, and the Victory we celebrate today,  it is quite  unlikely my Dad-to-be would have survived the war, and he would not have had this daughter.

Dad PFCDad used to tell me of his Marine Corps training.    It was early Spring, 1945.     Camp LeJeune.     Combat training was a matter of life and death.   At the time it was Western Civilization versus aggressive forms of socialism,  both fascist and marxist.  The young men were being trained to defend their nations,  their religions and  cultures, their freedoms, and their families.

Training itself was a matter of life and death.

combat training North Carolina

combat training North Carolina

Dad told me of the swamps, the quicksand,  the mud, the mosquitoes,  the barbed wire 8 inches above the ground that the young men had to stay under,  and the live rounds whizzing just over their heads.   Some of his friends didn’t make it, killed by the bullets.   Some just couldn’t make it;  took less honorable ways out.

But the Germans and the Japanese would be a lot harder on them than any Marine D.I..

Sure I was proud of my Dad, just for making it through basic training,  although the whole thing was incomprehensible to me, a little girl.

There was another challenge to their courage coming up.   Dad’s unit got the orders to join the war theater.   They lived out of their … their  duffel bag things waiting for the ship to take them away.   Slept in a big gym, all ready to go at a minute’s notice.

But two things happened.     Germany surrendered, and it was uncertain what and when and where Dad’s unit would be sent out to.     Couple months in that gym — in the North Carolina heat.   One insignificant Marine Unit, a bit overlooked, but commissioned now to become a part of that big all-out, once-and-for-all invasion of Japan.

The second thing that happened is that after a lot of behind the scenes politics, physics, and uncertainty,  by the end of that summer a decision was made to “drop the bomb” on Japan.

Suddenly VJ Day was added to VE Day.

My Dad,  18 1/2 years old,  and the young Marines with him, never got to go to Japan.

And I got to be here, living in a land that held freedom as a sacred trust.    I, for one, honor those in and around their 90s now, on this “minor holiday,”  and I thank them.