Archive for the ‘U. S. Navy, military’ Category

Singapore and Thailand — On USS Boxer

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Originally printed in the Clear Lake Courier — June 4, 1997

I never in my life thought I’d get to Singapore and Thailand, but the opportunity presented itself when we scheduled a trip to meet USS Boxer. Three of us flew seven hours from Yokota Air Force Base to Singapore on a DC-8 contracted by the Air Force to carry cargo and passengers.

From the air the Singapore coastline appeared as a carpet of green trees and shrubs, with occasional bare spots of red earth showing through. Meandering streams contained brown/green water. We flew over a downtown with clusters of multi-story buildings, an industrial section with more red dirt, and large patches of scraped red earth being turned into housing developments.

Singapore Island, 80 miles north of the Equator, is located off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. Its average daily high temperature is ninety degrees and average low seventy degrees. (more…)

Around the World in Eleven Days

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Originally printed in the Clear Lake Courier — 10 December 1997

With the arrival of October, it was time for an annual conference in Spain. Unlike last year when I flew over the United States twice, this time I went entirely around the world. On the way, I stopped in Washington D.C. for four days.

Timing was perfect to attend the dedication of the Women in Military Service for America (WIMSA) Memorial. The $24.5 million memorial was carved out of the hillside behind the 65-year-old retaining wall at the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery. (more…)

Best Friends Reunited

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Originally published in the Clear Lake Courier — January 31, 1996

Fifty-two years ago, two young South Dakota women joined the Navy WAVES (Women Accepted For Volunteer Emergency Service). They became acquainted when they moved into the same cubicle in the WAVES barracks at Naval Air Station, Hutchinson, Kansas. Lorraine Lee was from Lake Norden and Mildred Hanson was from Altamont. Without knowing each other, they had gone through basic training at Hunter College in Brooklyn, New York. They probably traveled to Hutchinson on the same train. (more…)

Women Are Veterans, Too — WIMSA groundbreaking

Friday, February 29th, 2008

WIMSA Memorial

Originally published in the Clear Lake Courier — August 30, 1995

The groundbreaking ceremony for the Women in Military Service for America Memorial was held June 22 at the main entrance to Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington D.C. I was one of 5500 there to listen to President Clinton and 15 other speakers. This was the largest single gathering of military women in our nation’s history.

The short, interesting and well-presented speeches kept the 90-minute ceremony moving rapidly. The speaker who seemed to be enjoyed the most was 94-year-old Anne Pedersen Freeman, a World War I veteran. She joined the Navy when she graduated from high school in 1918, and was assigned to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. She stated, “I don’t remember exactly what we did but we typed, typed, and typed and made six copies of everything.” She is pleased to see the opportunities grow for women to serve their country: “When I served, women didn’t have the right to vote.” (more…)

Typhoon of Steel — My visit to Okinawa

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Originally printed in the Clear Lake Courier — 15 October 1997

During a recent trip to Okinawa, I toured several sites from the World War II battle for Okinawa. Known by the Japanese as “Typhoon of Steel,” the battle lasted almost ninety days, killing more than 12,500 Americans and 244,000 Japanese. The only land battle fought on Japanese soil during WWII and the costliest one in the Pacific, it destroyed all the cultural assets the Okinawans had labored for centuries to create. (more…)

Climbing Mount Fuju

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Originally printed in the Clear Lake Courier — 3 September 1997

Mount Fuji, at 12,388 feet above sea level, is the highest and most famous mountain in Japan. Climbing it is a popular sport for residents and visitors alike. Many Japanese climb annually as a religious pilgrimage, spending the night on the mountain to watch the sun rise. The climbing season consists of July and August–and even in early July, it’s possible to run into sleet near the top.

The climb begins at the Fifth station, a typical tourist collection of shops and restaurants, located 7700 feet above sea level and shortly below the tree line. When the temperature is 80 degrees at the base of the mountain, it can be expected to be 60 degrees at the Fifth station and 40 degrees at the summit. (more…)

Mount Pinatubo Eruption — An interview with a survivor

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Originally printed in Clear Lake Courier — 16 December 1998

Mount Pinatubo is a volcano fifty miles north of Manila on the Philippine island of Luzon. Dormant for 600 years, it was classified inactive until it erupted in 1991.Monitoring and observation in early June showed significant enough changes that public warnings were issued of an impending eruption. Authorities evacuated 60,000 people from the mountain slopes and surrounding area, as well as 18,000 military personnel and dependents from nearby Clark Air Base.

The first eruption sent a mushroom cloud high into the air Wednesday, June 12. Explosions and earthquakes continued for days. (more…)

Japanese Zero Pilots

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Originally printed in Clear Lake Courier — 29 July 1998

Lieutenant Yoshio Shiga of the Japanese Imperial Navy commanded one of the Zero fighter squadrons that attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He is now 84 years old and the owner of a Tokyo company that makes security systems for military and law enforcement organizations.

When my boss and I visited him, Shiga told us the aircrews had trained for the Pearl Harbor mission without knowing their destination. His reaction at learning they would attack the United States was, “This is impossible. This is crazy.” When he flew over Hawaii, it was so pretty he hated to drop any bombs. (more…)

A New Home in Japan

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Yamato house

Originally printed in the Clear Lake Courier — October 2, 1996

The first day lasted 25 hours. We drove to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, early Tuesday morning. When I arrived in Japan and checked into my BOQ room at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Wednesday morning’s Today show was on television.

The Boeing 747 left Seattle Tuesday afternoon at 5:00 South Dakota time and landed at Narita International Airport outside Tokyo Wednesday afternoon at 4:40 Japan time–a ten hour flight with a 14 hour time change. (more…)

Admiral Mike Boorda

Friday, February 29th, 2008

 Admiral Boorda

Originally printed in the Clear Lake Courier — August 7, 1996

He was the only person to go from the very bottom of the Navy to the very top, from seaman recruit to Chief of Naval Operations. He was also the first CNO who did not attend the Naval Academy.

In 1956 Jeremy “Mike” Boorda dropped out of high school and enlisted in the Navy. In 1994 he became the Navy’s military leader.

When someone came into my office May 16 to say the CNO had shot himself, I (like everyone else) refused to believe it.  Even listening to the announcement by the Secretary of the Navy on CNN, I thought he must have been assassinated. Word of a suicide note convinced me this had really happened. (more…)