Flight 39 Public Announcements
Big GOOD News, 39th:
Good news, I brought Crawford home on Tuesday 31st March, he was away just over 5 weeks, he is getting stronger goes between wheel chair and walker, With continued therapy we hope he’ll be back to using the walking cane before much longer.
All’s well that ends well.. Thank God
39th, Sending the below email out via Apollo in case you missed it & make your calendars for 19 Feb!
Crawford Hicks plans to be there to sign his book “Prisoner of War, The Memoirs of Crawford E. Hicks”..& it is selling like hotcakes!*
FYI: The planned meeting place for our meeting is: Majestic Frames on 2503 Moody Rd Warner Robins 31088. (478) 225-6821
Fellow Daedalians and Friends -
The February Daedalian meeting will be a very special one that you do not want to miss, and the location has been changed.
The meeting will start at Noon on Wednesday 19 February with lunch at My Father’s Place on Moody Road.
After lunch we will walk a few doors up to Majestic Frames for a very special program there that has been arranged by Tim Bollinger with the help of Bob Komlo.
I have not yet posted the event on Apollo, so we can not take reservations there yet. Nor have I yet published this month’s newsletter. I hope to do both soon, but in the mean time do not forget to mark your calendars for this special meeting.
If you want to make a reservation now so you don’t forget, just call or text me at (478) 361-5954 and let me know.
Thanks. Hope to see you at the meeting on Wed 19 Feb.
The 39th Flight Daedalian Christmas party will be Saturday evening, December 7th. Be on the lookout for an invitation by email and for a copy of this month’s newsletter, also by email. If you have not received the invitation, please reply to this email or give Art MacDonald a call at 478-361-5954 to make your reservations. The after dinner entertainment will be by multi-talented musician Jim Larimer, and you do not want to miss it. Spouses and guests are welcome as always. Grilled chicken is $31.00 and prime rib is 33.00. Specify beef or chicken when making reservations. See you there!
Our National HQ has this to announce: Flight Manual under revision
The Daedalian Flight Manual is being revised for 2019. Members with suggestions for edits can send their input to email@example.com, with the subject line “Flight Manual update.”
That is all….AND have a Merry Christmas!…but get your dang suggestions for edits to HQ AFTER the 25th!
Our own Crawford Hicks was in today’s paper…below was the story published & we at the 39th have to feel proud of one of our own! And next time you are at the Museum of Aviation give them an extra contribution for paying for Crawford’s great day in the sky again!
HEADLINE: "His B-17 bomber went down in flames 74 years ago. His recent flight ended differently.
Crawford Hicks’ recent ride on a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber ended better than one he took 74 years ago.
Hicks, 97, of Warner Robins, was a B-17 pilot in World War II and flew 10 missions before getting shot down over Germany and taken prisoner. Hicks and his crew bailed out as the plane went down in flames, then he was immediately captured.
But at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport on Saturday, he had quite a different greeting when he stepped out of the plane after about a 30-minute ride. This time, a small crowd of people standing nearby erupted in applause and whistles.
The Museum of Aviation paid for the ride for Hicks and 15 volunteers who are working on the restoration of the museum’s B-17. Also along for the ride was Hicks’ son, Rob. Getting into the cockpit requires walking over a narrow catwalk and through some tight spaces, so Hicks stayed in the rear, but he was happy.
“It was wonderful,” Hicks said after stepping off the plane. “It was noisy as always. It felt good. I knew what the pilot was doing when it landed.”
The plane was the Madras Maiden flown by the Liberty Foundation. It is one of just 13 B-17s still flying out of 12,731 built, and people were paying $450 each to go for a ride.
The museum paid for the volunteers to take the ride to thank them for their long hours working on the plane in the three years since it came to the museum in pieces.
Among the volunteers on the flight was Ron Barber, a retired Air Force colonel. He supervised aircraft maintenance workers in the Air Force but never did the work himself until he started volunteering on the B-17. He has been working on it for a year.
The flight was originally scheduled for Aug. 27, and Barber was heartbroken that he had another commitment that day. But then it was rescheduled due to weather.
“It’s once in a lifetime for me, and I am thrilled to be here,” he said before the flight.
Mike Wood, an Air Force retiree who flew on the AC-130 gunship and with the Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System, known as J-STARS, works on the B-17 as a volunteer six days a week. He started out working seven days a week, eight hours a day.
“My wife made me take Sundays off,” he said.
He said it was his love of history that got him interested in the project.
“The B-17 was never built to last,” he said. “After the war they scrapped them all, so there’s very few left. That’s what makes it unique.”
The B-17 is a huge, four-engine plane and is one of the most revered in military history. Early in the war the loss rate on missions was high because fighters protecting the planes didn’t have the range to go all the way to the target.
Hicks told a detailed story of his career and his capture to his granddaughter, who transcribed the tapes and put it online. The story includes his first flight into combat.
“I was so scared I almost got sick when I saw the flak but was too busy flying to get sick,” he said.
Hicks’ plane was shot down on May 30, 1944, a week before D-Day. Hicks was in an 18-plane formation that successfully bombed its target in Oschersleben, Germany. They were on their way home when a German Messerschmitt 109 fighter came at Hicks’ plane head on and opened fire. The bullets set the two engines on the right wing ablaze. Hicks activated fire extinguishers in the engines, but it didn’t work.
The plane began to descend, and the fighter made another attack. This time the bullets hit and killed the bombardier as Hicks was talking to him. The alarms started going off, and the crew began to bail out. Hicks was captured soon after he hit the ground.
He spent 11 months in a prison camp and was freed by Gen. George Patton.
“I tried to kiss him, but he wouldn’t let me,” Hicks said.
The Germans surrendered a week later. Hicks continued to serve in the military, and after retirement he became an attorney. He practiced until he was 90.
Hicks put it simply when asked what it meant to fly on a B-17 again.
“Thank you for letting me be here, God,” he said.
The flight wasn’t just a fun ride for the volunteers but also a research trip. They are getting close to reassembling the fuselage and were carefully looking at how it is put together. The plane arrived at the museum three years ago and work began almost immediately. Although the restoration is expected to take another five years, people still can view the plane because work is being done in the Scott Hangar, which is open to the public.
The project is largely relying on volunteers and private donations. Anyone wishing to contribute can find out how at www.museumofaviation.org.
39th, At our recent meeting the flight voted to begin involvement with the following scholarship. We need all members to get the word out & look for a college student that we will mentor towards the military as a career and for becoming a military aviator!
JOHN AND ALICE EGAN MULTI-YEAR MENTORING SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM
GENERAL: The Egan Multi-Year Mentoring Scholarship Program is for flights willing to commit
$500 annually to a three-to four-year mentoring program. Freshmen are not eligible. For an individual student, the Foundation will supplement this $500 with at least $2,000. (This scholarship is not tied to the Matching Program, i.e., it is an additional program and a student may be submitted for both programs.) This program is conducted in three phases.
DESCRIPTION: The Egan Scholarship Program is open to all flights to submit one applicant per year and any recertification’s. The program is intended to incorporate the following features: mentoring over time to influence the student, more meaningful dollar scholarship awards, flight participation, flight vested interest in program success and goal oriented program structure.
The Foundation’s Scholarship Committee will determine the recipients. Duration will be determined by the length of the student’s undergraduate program, i.e., four or five years; however, the student must apply for follow-on funding for re certification each year.
Here are the instructions for applicants:
1: The 39th will have a 23 July deadline for postmarked applications, Subsequent year applications also have a 1 August deadline for Fight submissions in order to ensure Foundation approval by 15 August.
2:FLIGHT ACTIONS: The student must provide a complete scholarship application and arrange for the university to send a transcript directly to the Flight that includes all courses taken through the Spring Semester each year. The Flight will include the student’s application along with this Re-certification input and mail to (This will be accomplished by the 39th staff):
Chairman, Daedalian Foundation
PO BOX 249
Randolph AFB, TX 78148!
Lt. Col. Dwight Calvin McDowell, USAF (Ret.)
September 3, 1924 – June 22, 2018
Warner Robins, GA- D.C. McDowell, 93, passed into the hands of his Lord on the morning of Friday, June 22, 2018.
D.C. was born in Liberty, Missouri on September 3, 1924 to the late Orlando and Nancy McDowell. In the winter of 1951, he proudly enlisted in the United States Air Force where he served his country as a pilot and later as a comptroller staff officer. D.C. retired from the military with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in August of 1975 while serving at Robins Air Force Base. After retirement, he utilized his handy skills in building and construction. He was an active member of the Order of Daedalians, which is a professional order of American military pilots. D.C. was also a Mason, a Shriner, and member of First United Methodist Church of Warner Robins. He was an avid reader and together with his wife, Margie, he greatly enjoyed traveling.
D.C. was preceded in death by his children, Chris McDowell, Beth McDowell, Marilyn McDowell Hendrix, and Alan Rushing, as well as his parents and several brothers and sisters.
His memory will forever be treasured by his loving wife of 18 years, Margie McDowell of Warner Robins; children, Susan Carpenter (David) of Elko, Bob Rushing (Susan) of Warner Robins; son-in-law, Charles Hendrix (Mary Ellen) of Savannah; grandchildren, Brad Carpenter (Megan), Amanda Carpenter Kay (Jacob), Whitney Socarras (Keith), Holli Figueroa (Al), Kit Jordan; great-grandchildren, Hayden Socarras, Anna Kate Carpenter, Lee Ann Carpenter, Gabi Figueroa, Jordan Figueroa; and nephew, Don Rounds (Jan).
The family will greet friends during a visitation to be held on Monday, June 25, 2018 from 1:00 p.m. until 2:00 p.m. at McCullough Funeral Home. Funeral services to celebrate his life will immediately follow at 2:00 p.m. in the chapel at McCullough Funeral Home with Reverend Missy Blumenthal officiating. Full military honors will be rendered.
The family will accept flowers or donations may be given in memory of D.C. McDowell to First United Methodist Church Food Pantry at 205 North Davis Drive, Warner Robins, GA 31093.
Friends may go to www.mcculloughfh.com to sign an online registry for the family and to view the memorial video once it has been finalized. McCullough Funeral Home has the privilege of being entrusted with Mr. McDowell’s arrangements.
New Hampshire becomes the ninth and last necessary state to ratify the Constitution of the United States, thereby making the document the law of the land.
By 1786, defects in the post-Revolutionary War Articles of Confederation were apparent, such as the lack of central authority over foreign and domestic commerce. Congress endorsed a plan to draft a new constitution, and on May 25, 1787, the Constitutional Convention convened at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. On September 17, 1787, after three months of debate moderated by convention president George Washington, the new U.S. constitution, which created a strong federal government with an intricate system of checks and balances, was signed by 38 of the 41 delegates present at the conclusion of the convention. As dictated by Article VII, the document would not become binding until it was ratified by nine of the 13 states.
Beginning on December 7, five states–Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, and Connecticut–ratified it in quick succession. However, other states, especially Massachusetts, opposed the document, as it failed to reserve undelegated powers to the states and lacked constitutional protection of basic political rights, such as freedom of speech, religion, and the press. In February 1788, a compromise was reached under which Massachusetts and other states would agree to ratify the document with the assurance that amendments would be immediately proposed. The Constitution was thus narrowly ratified in Massachusetts, followed by Maryland and South Carolina. On June 21, 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the document, and it was subsequently agreed that government under the U.S. Constitution would begin on March 4, 1789. In June, Virginia ratified the Constitution, followed by New York in July.
On September 25, 1789, the first Congress of the United States adopted 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution–the Bill of Rights–and sent them to the states for ratification. Ten of these amendments were ratified in 1791. In November 1789, North Carolina became the 12th state to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Rhode Island, which opposed federal control of currency and was critical of compromise on the issue of slavery, resisted ratifying the Constitution until the U.S. government threatened to sever commercial relations with the state. On May 29, 1790, Rhode Island voted by two votes to ratify the document, and the last of the original 13 colonies joined the United States. Today the U.S. Constitution is the oldest written constitution in operation in the world.
A story of how tough the military can be & A Burial at Sea
by Lt. Col. George Goodson, USMC (Ret)
In my 76th year, the events of my life appear to me, from time to time, as a series of vignettes. Some were significant; most were trivial..
War is the seminal event in the life of everyone that has endured it. Though I fought in Korea and the Dominican Republic and was wounded there, Vietnam was my war.
t was late 1967. I had just returned after 18 months in Vietnam. Casualties were increasing. I moved my family from Indianapolis to Norfolk, rented a house, enrolled my children in their fifth or sixth new school, and bought a second car.
A week later, I put on my uniform and drove 10 miles to Little Creek, Virginia. I hesitated before entering my new office. Appearance is important to career Marines. I was no longer, if ever, a poster Marine. I had returned from my third tour in Vietnam only 30 days before. At 5’9", I now weighed 128 pounds – 37 pounds below my normal weight. My uniforms fit ludicrously, my skin was yellow from malaria medication, and I think I had a twitch or two.
I straightened my shoulders, walked into the office, looked at the nameplate on a Staff Sergeant’s desk and said, “Sergeant Jolly, I’m Lieutenant Colonel Goodson. Here are my orders and my Qualification Jacket.”
Sergeant Jolly stood, looked carefully at me, took my orders, stuck out his hand; we shook and he asked, “How long were you there, Colonel?” I replied “18 months this time.” Jolly breathed, “You must be a slow learner, Colonel.” I smiled.
Jolly said, "Colonel, I’ll show you to your office and bring in the Sergeant Major. I said, “No, let’s just go straight to his office.” Jolly nodded, hesitated, and lowered his voice, “Colonel, the Sergeant Major. He’s been in this job two years. He’s packed pretty tight. I’m worried about him.” I nodded.
Jolly escorted me into the Sergeant Major’s office. “Sergeant Major, this is Colonel Goodson, the new Commanding Officer.” The Sergeant Major stood, extended his hand and said, “Good to see you again, Colonel.” I responded, “Hello Walt, how are you?” Jolly looked at me, raised an eyebrow, walked out, and closed the door.
I sat down with the Sergeant Major. We had the obligatory cup of coffee and talked about mutual acquaintances. Walt’s stress was palpable. Finally, I said, “Walt, what the hell’s wrong?” He turned his chair, looked out the window and said, “George, you’re going to wish you were back in Nam before you leave here. I’ve been in the Marine Corps since 1939. I was in the Pacific 36 months, Korea for 14 months, and Vietnam for 12 months. Now I come here to bury these kids. I’m putting my letter in. I can’t take it anymore.” I said, “OK Walt. If that’s what you want, I’ll endorse your request for retirement and do what I can to push it through Headquarters Marine Corps.”
Sergeant Major Walt Xxxxx retired 12 weeks later. He had been a good Marine for 28 years, but he had seen too much death and too much suffering. He was used up.
Over the next 16 months, I made 28 death notifications, conducted 28 military funerals, and made 30 notifications to the families of Marines that were severely wounded or missing in action.. Most of the details of those casualty notifications have now, thankfully, faded from memory.
One day while I was running, Sergeant Jolly stepped outside the building and gave a loud whistle, two fingers in his mouth……. I never could do that….. and held an imaginary phone to his ear.
Another call from Headquarters Marine Corps. I took notes, said, “Got it.” and hung up. I had stopped saying “Thank You” long ago.
Me, “Eastern Shore of Maryland . The father is a retired Chief Petty Officer. His brother will accompany the body back from Vietnam ….”
Jolly shook his head slowly, straightened, and then said, “This time of day, it’ll take three hours to get there and back. I’ll call the Naval Air Station and borrow a helicopter. And I’ll have Captain Tolliver get one of his men to meet you and drive you to the Chief’s home.”
He did, and 40 minutes later, I was knocking on the father’s door. He opened the door, looked at me, then looked at the Marine standing at parade rest beside the car, and asked, “Which one of my boys was it, Colonel?”
I stayed a couple of hours, gave him all the information, my office and home phone number and told him to call me, anytime.
He called me that evening about 2300 (11:00PM). “I’ve gone through my boy’s papers and found his will. He asked to be buried at sea. Can you make that happen?” I said, “Yes I can, Chief. I can and I will.”
My wife who had been listening said, “Can you do that?” I told her, “I have no idea. But I’m going to break my ass trying.”
I called Lieutenant General Alpha Bowser, Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force Atlantic, at home about 2330, explained the situation, and asked, “General, can you get me a quick appointment with the Admiral at Atlantic Fleet Headquarters?” General Bowser said, “George, you be there tomorrow at 0900. He will see you.”
I was and the Admiral did. He said coldly, “How can the Navy help the Marine Corps, Colonel.” I told him the story. He turned to his Chief of Staff and said, “Which is the sharpest destroyer in port?” The Chief of Staff responded with a name.
The Admiral called the ship, “Captain, you’re going to do a burial at sea. You’ll report to a Marine Lieutenant Colonel Goodson until this mission is completed….”
He hung up, looked at me, and said, “The next time you need a ship, Colonel, call me. You don’t have to sic Al Bowser on my ass.” I responded, “Aye Aye, Sir” and got the hell out of his office.
I went to the ship and met with the Captain, Executive Officer, and the Senior Chief. Sergeant Jolly and I trained the ship’s crew for four days. Then Jolly raised a question none of us had thought of. He said, “These government caskets are air tight.. How do we keep it from floating?”
All the high priced help including me sat there looking dumb. Then the Senior Chief stood and said, “Come on Jolly. I know a bar where the retired guys from World War II hang out.”
They returned a couple of hours later, slightly the worse for wear, and said, “It’s simple; we cut four 12” holes in the outer shell of the casket on each side and insert 300 lbs of lead in the foot end of the casket. We can handle that, no sweat.."
The day arrived. The ship and the sailors looked razor sharp. General Bowser, the Admiral, a US Senator, and a Navy Band were on board. The sealed casket was brought aboard and taken below for modification. The ship got underway to the 12-fathom depth.
The sun was hot. The ocean flat. The casket was brought aft and placed on a catafalque. The Chaplain spoke. The volleys were fired. The flag was removed, folded, and I gave it to the father. The band played “Eternal Father Strong to Save.” The casket was raised slightly at the head and it slid into the sea.
The heavy casket plunged straight down about six feet. The incoming water collided with the air pockets in the outer shell. The casket stopped abruptly, rose straight out of the water about three feet, stopped, and slowly slipped back into the sea. The air bubbles rising from the sinking casket sparkled in the sunlight as the casket disappeared from sight forever…..
The next morning I called a personal friend, Lieutenant General Oscar Peatross, at Headquarters Marine Corps and said, “General, get me out of here. I can’t take this anymore.” I was transferred two weeks later.
I was a good Marine but, after 17 years, I had seen too much death and too much suffering. I was used up.
On this day in 1942, the Battle of Midway–one of the most decisive U.S. victories against Japan during World War II–begins. During the four-day sea-and-air battle, the outnumbered U.S. Pacific Fleet succeeded in destroying four Japanese aircraft carriers while losing only one of its own, the Yorktown, to the previously invincible Japanese navy.
In six months of offensives prior to Midway, the Japanese had triumphed in lands throughout the Pacific, including Malaysia, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, the Philippines and numerous island groups. The United States, however, was a growing threat, and Japanese Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto sought to destroy the U.S. Pacific Fleet before it was large enough to outmatch his own.
A thousand miles northwest of Honolulu, the strategic island of Midway became the focus of his scheme to smash U.S. resistance to Japan’s imperial designs. Yamamoto’s plan consisted of a feint toward Alaska followed by an invasion of Midway by a Japanese strike force. When the U.S. Pacific Fleet arrived at Midway to respond to the invasion, it would be destroyed by the superior Japanese fleet waiting unseen to the west. If successful, the plan would eliminate the U.S. Pacific Fleet and provide a forward outpost from which the Japanese could eliminate any future American threat in the Central Pacific. U.S. intelligence broke the Japanese naval code, however, and the Americans anticipated the surprise attack.
In the meantime, 200 miles to the northeast, two U.S. attack fleets caught the Japanese force entirely by surprise and destroyed three heavy Japanese carriers and one heavy cruiser. The only Japanese carrier that initially escaped destruction, the Hiryu, loosed all its aircraft against the American task force and managed to seriously damage the U.S. carrier Yorktown, forcing its abandonment. At about 5:00 p.m., dive-bombers from the U.S. carrier Enterprise returned the favor, mortally damaging the Hiryu. It was scuttled the next morning.
When the Battle of Midway ended, Japan had lost four carriers, a cruiser and 292 aircraft, and suffered an estimated 2,500 casualties. The U.S. lost the Yorktown, the destroyer USS Hammann, 145 aircraft and suffered approximately 300 casualties.
Japan’s losses hobbled its naval might–bringing Japanese and American sea power to approximate parity–and marked the turning point in the Pacific theater of World War II. In August 1942, the great U.S. counteroffensive began at Guadalcanal and did not cease until Japan’s surrender three years later.
Great news! The Museum of Aviation won the 2018 Air Force Heritage Award for the F-100 “Super Sabre” exhibit! This award recognizes outstanding accomplishments by Air Force History and Museums personnel that foster a better understanding and appreciation of the Air Force, its history, heritage and accomplishments.
The Hun is located in the Major General Cornelius Nugteren Hangar (aka Hangar 1). Our past 39th flight cap’n, who was also commander of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center from 1982-88, & was assigned at one time with the 36th Tactical Fighter Wing, Bitburg Air Base, West Germany, where he flew not only F-86s but also F-100s. He of course was the main engineer of establishing our Robins AFB Museum of Aviation. Several weeks before General Nugteren’s death, Hangar One at the Robins AFB Museum of Aviation was renamed the Nugteren Exhibit Hangar in his honor.
The displayed “Hun” (i.e., F-100 & called “The Hun” as the first 100 series fighter jets of the Century Series!) has the markings of Maj Gen Richard N. “Rick” Goddard, whose last duty assignment was as commander of Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, & is stenciled on the side of the aircraft.
So, head over to The Nugteren Hangar & check it out!
Daedalian Distinguished Flight Award
To: Flight 39,
On 11 April 2018, the Daedalians Awards Committee met at the National Headquarters to select the Distinguished Flights for calendar year 2017. I am pleased to announce that 39th Flight was selected as the Distinguished Flight in Category A.
We would like to present the awards to your flight during the Annual Membership Meeting at the Parr Club, located at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. The presentation will be made Friday, 11 May 2018, at the Membership meeting at 0930 and we invite you or a flight representative to come and accept this award.
Lunch will be provided, and the flights will be given a $250 stipend for fights to use however they want.
Please contact me for details and to reserve your seat.
Sincerely, Kristi Cavenaugh
Daedalians Program Manager
Daedalian Foundation – Inspiring Tomorrow’s Military Aviators
July Monthly Meeting on the 18th at 1200
RAFB Wellston Lounge (Behind Horizons)..Some Interesting Gunsights Through The Years!
Art MacDonald will give a presentation about some of his favorite gunsights. He will start with the fixed sights on the 1937 Winchester Model 67 he learned to shoot with 60 years ago (and which shoots as well now as it did then), and will include some of the more modern sights he has had the pleasure to use more recently. Don’t miss it!
Also, on this date in 1918: Quentin Roosevelt, a pilot in the United States Air Service and the fourth son of former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, is shot down and killed by a German Fokker plane over the Marne River in France.
The young Roosevelt was engaged to Flora Payne Whitney, the granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt, one of the country’s richest men. The couple met at a ball in Newport, Rhode Island, in August 1916 and soon fell in love, although the alliance between the modest, old-money Roosevelts and the flamboyantly wealthy Vanderbilt-Whitneys was at first controversial on both sides.
Quentin’s letters to Flora, from the time they met until his death, charted the course of America’s entry into the war. Theodore Roosevelt, incensed at America’s continuing neutrality in the face of German aggression–including the sinking of the British cruise liner Lusitania in May 1916, in which 128 Americans drowned–campaigned unsuccessfully for the presidency in 1916, severely criticizing Woodrow Wilson, who was reelected on a neutrality platform. While he was initially neutral, Quentin came to agree with his father, writing to Flora in early 1917 from Harvard University, where he was studying, that “We are a pretty sordid lot, aren’t we, to want to sit looking on while England and France fight our battles and pan gold into our pockets.”
After U.S. policy, as well as public opinion, shifted decisively towards entrance into the conflict against Germany, Wilson delivered his war message to Congress on April 2, 1917. At age 20, Quentin was too young to be drafted under the subsequent military conscription act, but as the son of Theodore Roosevelt, he was certainly expected to volunteer. His father, at 58, had expressed his own intention to head to France immediately as head of a volunteer division; upon Wilson’s rejection of the idea, TR declared that his sons would go in his place.
Before the month of April 1917 was out, Quentin had left Harvard, volunteered for the U.S. Air Service and proposed to Flora. The young couple received their parents’ consent, at first reluctant, only to say goodbye to each other at the Hudson River Pier on July 23 as Quentin set sail to France for training. Over the next year, Quentin struggled with difficult flight training (on Nieuport planes, already discarded by the French as a second-rate aircraft), brutally cold conditions, illness (in November he caught pneumonia and was sent to Paris on a three-week leave) and derision from his older brothers, Ted, Archie and Kermit, all of whom were already on their way to the front. Quentin also suffered from the separation from Flora, whom he urged to find a way to come to Paris and marry him; though she tried, she was ultimately unsuccessful. Despite the pain of separation from his beloved, Quentin was determined to get to the front, to silence his brothers’ criticism and prove himself to them and to his father.
In June 1918, Quentin got his wish when he was made a flight commander in the 95th Aero Squadron, in action near the Aisne River. “I think I got my first Boche,” he wrote in excitement to Flora on July 11, referring to a German plane he had shot at during a flight mission. Three days later, during the Second Battle of the Marne, his Nieuport was engaged by three Boche planes, according to one of the other pilots on his flight mission. Shot down, Quentin’s plane fell behind the German lines, near the village of Chamery, France.
Flora Payne Whitney saved every one of Quentin’s letters to her. She became a surrogate member of the Roosevelt family for a time, nursing her own pain and comforting Theodore Roosevelt, who was by many reports shattered by the loss of his youngest son, until his own death in 1919. She would later go on to marry twice, have four children, and follow her mother, the sculptor and art patron Gloria Vanderbilt Whitney, into a leadership role at the famous Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. She died in 1986.
On this day in 1940, the Germans begin the first in a long series of bombing raids against Great Britain, as the Battle of Britain, which will last three and a half months, begins.
After the occupation of France by Germany, Britain knew it was only a matter of time before the Axis power turned its sights across the Channel. And on July 10, 120 German bombers and fighters struck a British shipping convoy in that very Channel, while 70 more bombers attacked dockyard installations in South Wales. Although Britain had far fewer fighters than the Germans–600 to 1,300–it had a few advantages, such as an effective radar system, which made the prospects of a German sneak attack unlikely. Britain also produced superior quality aircraft. Its Spitfires could turn tighter than Germany’s ME109s, enabling it to better elude pursuers; and its Hurricanes could carry 40mm cannon, and would shoot down, with its American Browning machine guns, over 1,500 Luftwaffe aircraft. The German single-engine fighters had a limited flight radius, and its bombers lacked the bomb-load capacity necessary to unleash permanent devastation on their targets. Britain also had the advantage of unified focus, while German infighting caused missteps in timing; they also suffered from poor intelligence.
But in the opening days of battle, Britain was in immediate need of two things: a collective stiff upper lip–and aluminum. A plea was made by the government to turn in all available aluminum to the Ministry of Aircraft Production. “We will turn your pots and pans into Spitfires and Hurricanes,” the ministry declared. And they did.
1863 Pickett leads his infamous charge at Gettysburg
On this day in 1863, troops under Confederate General George Pickett begin a massive attack against the center of the Union lines on the climactic third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the largest engagement of the war. For the first two days of the battle, General Bobby Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had battered George Meade’s Army of the Potomac. The day before Pickett’s Charge, the Confederates had hammered each flank of the Union line but could not break through.
Now, on July 3, Lee decided to attack the Union center, stationed on Cemetery Ridge, after making another unsuccessful attempt on the Union right flank at Culp’s Hill in the morning. The majority of the force consisted of Pickett’s division, but there were other units represented among the 15,000 attackers.
After a long Confederate artillery bombardment, the Rebel force moved through the open field and up the slight rise of Cemetery Ridge. But by the time they reached the Union line, the attack had been broken into many small units, and they were unable to penetrate the Yankee center.
The failed attack effectively ended the battle of Gettysburg. On July 4, Lee began to withdraw his forces to Virginia. The casualties for both armies were staggering. Lee lost 28,000 of his 75,000 soldiers, and Union losses stood at over 22,000. It was the last time Lee threatened Northern territory.