Monday, March 31, 2014

"Damn the torpedoes! Give me the range on the ship ahead!"

An inside joke enjoyed by the radarmen.  We were traveling to Okinawa in a convoy of attack transports and were constantly asked for the range and bearing on the lead ship of our column.  It was March 31, 1945, the day before Easter.

Did we have an idea of what awaited us?  I don't remember, but I recollect Tokyo Rose  saying it would be a fierce battle because if Okinawa was defeated, victory for Japan would be impossible although the nation would continue fighting.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Air conditioning now? NO

After  seeing hours of rain over two days, the beautiful sunshine this morning was especially welcome. Maybe, it will be possible to plant flowers and vegetables after all.  Spring could be here with all the pleasure and comfort it brings.

But guess what?  Someone decided March 30 was the time to turn on air conditioning.  Last summer the church was so cold I had to resort to wearing a coat and I want to do without a coat and tie during the summer.  If we are going to keep the church cold, we must have some fiery sermons to stir our blood.

Friday, March 28, 2014

March 27, 1945, Pickens heads for Okinawa

Victory over Iwo Jima was complete March 26 and the next  day the Pickens left Saipan, loaded with troops and headed toward Okinawa, some 1400 miles away.  We were one ship among 300 war ships and 1139 other ships.  This was the largest armada ever known.

We traveled with other attack transports, all together carrying  187,000 troops. General Quarters was called every morning before dawn because the Japanese  launched their planes out of the morning sun.  They flew just over the  sea, avoiding detection by radar as long as possible.

Female jurists offer stupid idea on Obamacare

Of all the stupid remaarks in support of Obamacare, the suggestion by Supreme Court justices Sotomayor and Kagan that Hobby Lobby discontinue health insurance for its employees and pay the penalty instead takes the cake.

Hobby Lobby opposes on religious grounds including abortion and some  contraceptives in their health plan.  The female jurists show they are unfit for their positions by their suggestion.  More and more we are finding how terrible Obamacare is.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Victory in Iwo Jima 69 years ago

Sixty-nine years ago today victory in Iwo Jima was achieved, bringing to a close some of the fiercest fighting of World War II. For the first time, American Marines suffered more casualties than did  the enemy.  The flag raising picture by Joe Rosenthal will help future generations understand the heroism  shown and sacrifice paid on that little island.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Tell me about Okinawa

The battle for  Iwo Jima began February 19, 1945, and ended March 26, 1945.  Less than a week later the bloody battle for Okinawa began in a blaze of fury from suicide attacks.  I have written my memories of that time and I would love to hear the experiences of others, especially from shipmates on the Pickens. Maybe your father or uncle has told you what he remembers of that time.  Let me hear from you.

Back home from North Carolina

We are back from our visit to North Carolina, arriving around  11 Sunday night. It goes without saying that we enjoyed the time we had to spend with Lily and Oliver, Julie and Mark, and Jessica. Highlight was seeing Jessica dance and sing in the Broadway Revue presented by the Duke Divinity School.

The weather was delightful.  The sun was shining and it was a warm 68 or so degrees except when a cool wind struck.

We attended services at Apex United Methodist Church Sunday morning.  The church had ten services, both traditional and contemporary, over the weekend.  Jessica has been employed to work with youth and will return to those duties next fall after spending the summer serving in a hospital.

I was interested in the history of the church, which serves  four communities with three campuses. This is an interesting repeat of  a minister serving those communities beginning in 1870.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Brighton's first birthday

Brighton's 1st Birthday

Feckless -- not one of my common words

The farmer and his son took a pick up truck of watermelons to the city.  The farmer told his son that he had some business to take care of but would return in a few minutes. Before leaving the farmer advised his son to avoid speaking or people would find out he was a fool.

Several moments later a man came by and  asked the price of the melons.  The boy didn't answer so the man asked again, "How much are your melons?"  When the boy remained silent, the prospective buyer went on, saying "What a fool."  A second man came by and asked the  price of the watermelons, not receiving  a reply he asked again.  Getting the same treatment, no reply, he left mumbling, "What a fool!"

The farmer returned and asked if anything happened while he was gone.  The boy replied, "I didn't open my mouth but they found out  I am a fool anyway."

Unless a leader has something worthwhile to say, he is better keeping quiet; otherwise he is found out to be "weak and feckless."  For those of you who, like me, seldom use the word "feckless" in daily conversation, here are a few definitions:

     feeble, ineffective, incompetent, futile, lazy, useless, hopeless, aimless, good for nothing

Pick the ones you like.

Headed for North Carolina

Jen, Josh and I  leave by plane for North Carolina Thursday at the ungodly hour of six a.m.  We'll see Jessica perform in a play and visit with her, Mark, Julie, Lily and Oliver. We return Sunday night.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Remembering snow on first day of spring

Enjoyed my Patrick's Day lunch of corned beef and cabbage, plus vegetables,  and now am  looking forward to spring finally arriving.  At least, spring will be officially here  Friday, March 21.

I remember one first day of spring in Homer which dawned with seven inches of snow on the ground.  The night before I had driven to Shreveport and back as the snow fell to my disbelief.

Many flowering trees were blooming and I took a picture of the McKenzie home with Red Buds in full bloom reflected in the snow.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Allow more exportation of oil and gam

Obama's stupidity in his hatred of fossil mules has cost this nation jobs and wealth.  Now, there is another reason to open  up the export of oil and gas -- about the only way we have to strike at Russia's economy. Some European countries are begging Obama to  to allow them to import fossil fuel from the United States, making them not as dependent on Russia.

Wesley Chapel marks 100 years

I see in the Guardian-Journal that Wesley United Methodist Church will mark its l00th anniversary Sunday, March 23.  I am somewhat familiar with the church, located on White Lightning Road.  I attended a revival there more than 50 years ago when my cousin Terral Lowe was pastor.  His brother-in-law, Paul Cassells, led the singing.

At that time Wesley Chapel was on a charge (served by the same pastor) with Harmony Chapel and Bethlehem.  I was disturbed when I learned many years ago that Bethlehem was no longer a surviving church.  I went to a homecoming there when I was a child.  My dad attended school there,  He left his mark in the form of his initials carved into a pew.

Several relatives of earlier generations are buried in the cemetery there.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Obama threatens fewer jobs

Is there any action Obama won't take  for political advantage even though it costs jobs and further damages our ailing economy?

Now that he has proposed increasing the minimum wage to above ten  dollars an hour, he plans to issue an executive order that would force employers to pay manager type personnel for overtime work.

Some workers would benefit from these actions, but as many as millions would lose their jobs and join the unemployed drawing compensation.  Maybe you could excuse Obama somewhat because he didn't learn economics as a community organizer.  He did not learn foreign relations either, and the nation suffers.

I am afraid that full employment may never come back.  We may find us  having few jobs except those China lets us have.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Brighton is one today

We celebrated our  youngest grandson's  first birthday with the traditional cake and ice cream after opening lots of toys and other presents.  He had his own special cake and enjoyed spreading it on his face and hands as much as eating it.

This joyful scene was much different from Sunday.  Is there anything that makes you feel helpless more  than a baby crying with earache?  He didn't want  anyone to hold him except Jason, apparently finding comfort in Jason's resemblance to Matthew, his dad.

Amazingly he finally went to sleep, waking up seven hours later in a happy mood. He ate well, took a long nap, and we were able to turn over a happy boy to his mother.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Putin has won

Diplomatically, politically, even legally, Putin has won.  When the Crimea parliament declared independence from the Ukraine,  Russia had already moved in to "protect Russians."  Ukraine could fall next.  The elected prime minister was deposed by mobs, not by democratic vote, thus giving Putin a claim for legality if he decides to invade the Ukraine.

What has the United States won? Support from Western Europe?  No, Putin supplies them with oil and gas. More importantly, countries like Germany and England  don't want to follow the United States when it is so weak as a leader.

Never has the United States failed so badly in diplomacy.  It began with Barack and Hillary doing their silly re-set button performance, their symbolic show of weakness to Putin.  What can the United States do to regain respect in the world? Very little, and Obama cannot do it.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Dance, Lady, Dance

Jessica took advantage of the  semester break to drive to Washington D.C. and take part in a dance contest. Around 1500 dancers, at least 1,000 of them women, took part.  Those who love dancing that month danced for hours after the contests.  We were able to watch some of Jessica's contest on the computer.

This was quite a change from attending classes at the seminary.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Iwo Jima memories from 69 yers ago

When my thoughts turn to Iwo Jima 69 years ago, memories of three events stand out. Of course,  one is observing the American flag go up on Mt. Suribachi, go down and be raised again. We had no idea at the time that Joseph Rosenthal's picture of the flag raising would become famous.

I will always remember a conversation I had with a young Marine who would see his first action.  He told me "They (military leaders) have given us five days to take the island, but we are fired up and I think we'll take it in three days."  I always wonder how he fared.

We were in the radar shack listening to the TBS when we heard a pilot   screaming," I'm hit! I"m shot. I'm on the way down!"

The war became very real to us at that moment.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Pickens prepares for Okinawa

Military action on Iwo Jima would continue until March 26, but before then our job was done and the Pickens headed back to Saipan to unload the wounded and begin preparations for an invasion of Okinawa.

Okinawa would turn out to be the biggest battle of the war, and also the last battle.  I remember Tokyo Rose saying how bloody and fierce the fighting  would be. She said the Japanese knew that if they lost Okinawa Japan faced certain defeat even though the nation would not surrender.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

There is a fountain

When I was a freshman at LSU studying English literature, the professor said he was told when a  child that hymns were literature.   He   learned that was not always  true. but "this is literature" he said, referring to William Cowper's poem "There Is a Fountain Filled with blood."

I agree that Cowper's poem and the music make this a favorite hymn but it  is also true that some  hymns  have a wonderful message without being judged as literature.

There is a Fountain Filled With Blood (+playlist)

Monday, March 3, 2014

I retain part of my mind

As we sang "Heavenly Sunshine" in church Sunday, my mind, as it always does at this hymn, goes  back to  the time  I was in boot camp and  attended the Old Fashioned Revival Hour in the Long Beach Municipal Auditorium.  I accompanied a fellow boot camper whose parents listened to this national program on radio and urged their son to  take advantage of the opportunity.  This song was sung as those attending greeted  each other with hand shakes and hugs. 

Until today I have been confused and wondered it I had lost my mind because when I looked up the song I found that it was first presented in 1950, several years later than my visit.  The confusion is because one word was changed --sunshine to sunlight. Two Methodist ministers cooperated to create the original song some 100 years ago.  It is included in many hymnals and is widely sung today.  The revival hour began in 1937 by Charles E. Fuller and continued until his death in 1968.

Writers of the song were H. J. Zelley and Charles H. Cooke, who wrote 1500 songs.                                             

Heavenly Sunlight Hymn (with lyrics)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

He's incapable

I once believed   President  Obama always decided in  a way to hurt the nation  because he hated the United States. Now, I am convinced he does the wrong things because he is incapable.  Did  you   hear his  suck-up speech about Russia's invasion of the Ukraine?  A few minutes later he was laughing and declaring happy hour for Democrats " because I'm president and can do what I want."

Millions are jobless and people with jobs are saddled with the cost of Obamacare while many get poorer medical care.  But no matter the damage Obama has done domestically, the greater danger is his weakness in foreign affairs. United States does not have to be loved but it must be respected.