Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Day to Remember

That day, of course, being the 4th of July. If you happen to be an American it's a pretty special day; the day a rag-tag group of somewhat disorganized colonies became a fledgling nation. If you aren't an American, well, it's still a pretty special day for us, so humor us, ok? (And speaking of humor, a co-worker in a place we were once employed asked our Token Englishman (all aviation companies have at least one of those and most have several, aviation engineering being right behind professional rock & roll musician as the job occupation most often exported by our friends in the UK) if the British celebrated the 4th of July. We were somewhat bemused and anxiously anticipating said Brit's response, which wasn't long in coming: "Of course we celebrate the 4th of July in Britain. We call it Thanksgiving!" It's all in perspective, right? Right!)

Anyway, we're still stumbling along trying to get reorganized and up and running with the "real" RIS, but today's going to have to be yet another half measure. It is the 4th, though, and it's special to us, so we're going to run some photos you might not normally see on these pages. Yes, it's a tribute of sorts and yes; it caters to our own particular interests. We think you'll find something to enjoy today but if not, thanks for stopping by and we'll see you next time around.

People and Places

We show mostly airplanes around here, and sometimes we show a few of the people who maintain and fly them. We almost never show the other guys, the ones who slogged through the stinking mud waiting for Serious Bad News to rain down on them. Today's their day, along with some airmen, courtesy once again of militaria collector extraordinaire Bobby Rocker. How many times can we say you owe these guys if you're an American? Our answer to that one is "not nearly enough".

December 7th, 1941, was a seriously bad day for the United States. These guys were there and fighting back, duking it out with the pilots of Kido Butai in outdated P-36s and P-40s and holding their own in the process. It was a long way back, but the valor of these pilots, and others like them, put us on that road. We owe them.  Bobby Rocker Collection

Ever been to O'Hare Airport in Chicago? Here's the guy it was named after; "Butch" O'Hare. He was in the war from the Bad Old Early Days and made it almost all the way to the end. He was a fighter pilot's fighter pilot and, by all accounts, an inspirational leader. Like so many others he's still out there, waiting to come home. We owe them.  Bobby Rocker Collection

Big John Landers saw it all. He was an early 49er, flying with the 9th FS in the rough early days over Darwin. He ended up in Europe in P-51s, and was a highly successful fighter pilot. He survived the war as a decorated ace, but that smile belies the truth behind flying combat no matter when or where you served. We suspect that smile masks a lot of pain. We owe them.  Bobby Rocker Collection

Sometimes you could actually manage to look dapper, even in New Guinea. The year is 1942 and a young Hoyt Eason is standing on the ramp at 14-Mile Strip near Port Moresby---he could be standing on the flightline at Kelly Field, or Selfridge, or Langley, but he's not. He's young and he's proud, and he's old before his time.  We owe them.  Bobby Rocker Collection

MF Kirby in his P-38 at Dobodura. He's just a kid, ya'll; a tired, worn-out kid. Modelers like to weather their airplanes to make them look like they've been around the block, but sometimes they forget the people who flew them. Those pilots, and the ground crews, got worn out too. We owe them.  Bobby Rocker Collection

Neel Kirby took a fighter nobody wanted to fly and led the 348th Fighter Group in a theater the P-47 was manifestly unsuited for, and made it all work. Other 5th AF fighter groups struggled with the P-47 in the air-to-air mode, fighting against the far more nimble Japanese Army and Navy fighters that were arrayed against them, while the 348th made the airplane into a first-class killing machine. Kirby wore himself in in the process and died in aerial combat, exhausted and all used up. We owe them.  Bobby Rocker Collection

Dick Bong was quiet and unassuming, and was America's ace of aces during World War II with a total of 40 confirmed victories, all against the Japanese. He was by all accounts a quiet and unassuming man who was an absolute master of his craft. He survived combat only to die, as so many other veteran pilots did, testing new equipment back in the States. We owe them.  Bobby Rocker Collection

Gene Valencia was a Sierra Hotel naval aviator and fighter pilot par excellence. He racked up a commendable score in the Pacific War, and spent a great part of his post-war years as a naval aviator, devoting his life to service to the country. We owe them.  Bobby Rocker Collection

Jerry Johnson was one of the best, and one of the lucky ones who survived the war. His luck ran out during a post-War flight in foul weather and he died trying to save the other men in his aircraft. He's one of the many who are still out there somewhere. We owe them.  Bobby Rocker Collection

You can call Greg Boyington a boozer, and he was. You could call him a brawler and you'd be telling the truth, because he was that too. He was also a superb fighter pilot, an inspirational leader who led. By all accounts he was completely exhausted and all used up when he was shot down and captured by the Japanese in 1944. He survived the war, but the war never left him. It never really left any of those guys; it never does. We owe them.  Bobby Rocker Collection

Bloody Buna Redux

This is an aviation site and that's why most of you are here; because you're aviation modelers and enthusiasts. We're that way too, but we have a personal interest in the ground-pounding side of things, and in particular an interest in the goings-on in the Southwest Pacific during the Second World War.

That said, have any of you ever been to The Everglades? We mean in the Everglades, as in out of your car and walking through them? If you have, then you can identify with this next group of photos; those guys are hot, sweaty, filthy dirty, and eaten alive by insects of every variety known to man. They're in a totally unfamiliar environment, fighting an implacable and courageous enemy who know their business and fight to the death. The things they see and experience will brand most of them for life but few of them complain to anyone who wasn't there with them, because that's their way. These pictures were taken in and around Buna Mission in 1943 but they could have been taken any time and any place where American GIs have ever fought.

The 32nd Division had it tough at Buna and paid dearly for their victory there. They hated the job, most of them, but they did what they had to do.  Signal Corps via Bobby Rocker Collection

It's always tough fighting an entrenched enemy, and particularly difficult when that enemy is as skilled as the Japanese were at Buna. Those grunts have just finished slogging through a swamp to get to that bunker, and then on to the next one. It was a lousy way to make a living. Signal Corps via Bobby Rocker Collection

Here's a view of a different, and slightly more elaborate, bunker. The size didn't matter; it was all the same to the Japanese soldiers who defended them, and to the GIs who had to take them one at a time. This company officer has been through the ringer; there were no special cases at Buna.  Signal Corps via Bobby Rocker Collection

Kids. Just kids, but not for long. They'd all grow up too fast, and become old beyond their years. They were heros and they despised it---all they wanted was what every soldier has wanted since the beginning of time; to leave the war and go home. Most of them did, but far too many didn't. Signal Corps via Bobby Rocker Collection

The 127th takes a break at Buna, examining the spoils of war. They're kidding around, probably joking and telling stories about their recent combat and little knowing that they would never leave that stinking place, whether they died there after this photo was taken (as several of them inevitably did) or survived the war to go home. They'd carry Bloody Buna with them to their graves. Signal Corps via Bobby Rocker Collection

There's nothing good about War. There never has been and there never will be---it's a plague and a destroyer of lives. Everyone who comes in contact with War suffers from it, no matter which side they're on. Think about that for a minute, and think about the guys in the pictures you've just seen. We owe the guys who wore the uniform then, and who wear it today. To a lot of Americans the 4th of July means fireworks, and beer, and a day off from work. To us and, we suspect, to a great many of our readers, it's a reminder of the sacrifice of others. Thanks, GI, and Gyrene, and Sailor, and Airman. Happy 4th of July!

                                         Happy Birthday, America!               MJ Delgado

A couple of final notes for today:

First, to all of our readers overseas who don't celebrate the 4th of July, we ask your indulgence. This is a special day for us here in The States and we hope you understand.

Next, we're going to try to set up the scanner tomorrow, which means we'll get back in action in terms of photos (and yes; you've seen that Phantom and the shot of John Landers in these pages before, but they're a fitting way to end the day with) and maybe even get back to a halfway decent schedule again---we sure haven't had one lately so it's about time!

Finally, we've been building again, albeit not to the extent we'd like to, so we'll have some new modeling features for you too. In theory that's something to look forward too, but then again maybe not---you just never know, do you?

Happy Snaps

Nope, not this time around! We've got to scan some stuff first, so please be patient with us!

The Relief Tube

We've been out of action for so long that we've built up quite an accumulation of entries for this part of our blog. There are so many, in fact, that we're still going through them to prepare them for publication; please forgive us if you wrote in and haven't had your comments published yet. We'll get to them in a bit; honest!

Finally, let's remember that the photos above came from the collections of others. We'd like for you to do that right-click-and-save thing but if you plan on publishing them please remember where they came from and give credit for the images.

Be good to your neighbor and we'll meet again soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment