Tuesday, August 20, 2019


See the above referenced link for the subject.

[COURTESY: CAPT Les Horn, USN (Ret)]

The project I’ve been working on is now finished, and the website is on line for all to use.
As you know, Bear refers frequently to Chris Hobson’s book Vietnam Air Losses, and he gave us some ideas on where we could purchase a used copy, since it has been out of print since 2001. I found a copy and was fascinated by the information in it.  I was able to contact Chris, who has now retired, and he agreed to update the manuscript with new information and allowed me to put all of it on a website so others won’t have to chase down a used copy and pay as much as $896 (actual price for one copy on Amazon) to see what happened to their grandfathers.
I thought the greatest value would be in having a searchable database, so I did that.  You can search for a name, day, month, year, military unit, home base (or ship), aircraft type (designation/model or nickname), service, or the disposition of persons (KIA, POW, etc.).  On a separate form, you can search the Narratives of the losses by keywords using Boolean search operators (explanation is on the site). So, if you wanted to look up the siege on Khe Sanh or Thanh Hoa, you can use that form. The only things you can’t search for that are in the database are the serial number of aircraft or the rank of the persons.
As I write this, there are 3,118 records in the database.  A “record” includes all the data on a loss event, which can often mean more than one aircraft.  In fact, there were as many as six aircraft involved in a single event, but most often there were only a couple.  Individuals in aircraft ranged from one to 30, with a great many with four, six, eight, 16, etc. One record contains a minimum of 13 pieces of data; the maximum contained in a single record was 129 pieces of data. I say this to indicate that I inputted over 100,000 pieces of data into the database, so I suspect we haven’t yet found all the errors I made.
Going through that amount of data as quickly as I could over about a month or so gave me some impressions that I’d like to record.  These are not statistical analyses; they are simply my impressions as the data passed over my eyes in great volume and quickly:
1.  I was amazed at how many pure accidents there were and how many people died in accidents that had nothing to do with enemy action (in the database, those are defined as KWF, or Killed While Flying, as opposed to KIA).
2.  I was astounded at the number of aircraft that hit mountain tops in bad weather, killing everyone on board. Such a waste.
3.  I was surprised at how slow some units were to heed Lessons Learned, resulting in aircraft being shot down on their 12th pass on the same target at low level, or their tenth or eighth or sixth, etc. In addition, it was clear that small arms fire was nothing to ignore, yet far too many did just that.
4.  I was surprised to see how many pilots were hit by bullets or shrapnel, as opposed to aircraft being damaged alone. There are a lot of instances where the pilot had time to eject but was apparently incapacitated. There was a far higher percentage of that than I would have thought.
5.  It was interesting that some units (and some ships) had considerably more losses than others at the same time, in the same place, in the same type aircraft, flying the same type missions. Again, my impressions are that comparing sister squadrons might indicate that one lost a great deal more than the other, and the same was true of USAF and USMC squadrons flying from the same base. Some ships had incredible runs of “bad luck” compared to others.  In some instances, the types of targets might make some of the difference, but it appears to me that leadership might have played an important role.
6.  Both my deployments were during much easier times, so I’m no expert; however, my air wing policy was no multiple runs on the same target and no pullouts below 3,500 feet AGL. We lost only one aircraft (for the entire air wing on two deployments) due to enemy action.  Even late in the war, there were still some units that were strafing or dropping napalm at low altitude on multiple runs and getting shot down.
7.  The narratives often relate what happened to a survivor (or POW returnee) later in life/career.  Many of them became very senior.  At one point, Chris comments that getting shot down seemed to be a prerequisite for making high rank. Certainly, we all know that combat experience improves chances for promotion. What I noted was that, early in the war, the losses were very junior aircrew, mostly 1Lt’s and Lt(jg)’s. It struck me that so many very young people died. As the war continued, the ranks of those lost (which presumably reflects those that were flying the missions and were not shot down) increases dramatically. I don’t recall off-hand any Navy or Marine O-6’s being lost, but there are many Air Force O-6’s and above, up to and including 2-stars and I believe a three-star. Perhaps some of those were just trying to get their tickets punched for career purposes, and they got bit.
8.  Along that same line, there were a great many killed that didn’t have to be there. They were flight surgeons or intel officers or even maintenance personnel going along for the ride and getting shot down. Sometimes it happened with experienced aircrew on an orientation flight. I suspect the outgoing FAC was showing the new guy some of the dangerous territory and got hit. A great many disappeared on training flights.
9.  I was dismayed to see several aircraft and a number of deaths due to low passes or other “impromptu” air shows.  In one instance, on his last flight in theater before shipping home, a pilot was killed, along with his crew, doing that.  In another, a C-123 tried to snag a “flag” (reported as lady’s underwear) from a flag pole; on the second attempt, they crashed killing all four on board and two Thai civilians on the ground. Wasn’t getting shot at enough excitement?
10.             I was heartened and encouraged by the incredible acts of bravery and self-sacrifice to save buddies or people they didn’t know. MOH’s, Navy and Air Force Crosses are always impressive.
11.             I was disappointed to see how many aircrew landed safely on the ground after ejections only to be killed by civilians or troops.  There were a ton of those, including getting shot while still coming down in a parachute. Personally, I’m not so sure there’s any such thing as a non-combatant in a war zone.
12.             It should have come as no surprise, but it was, to see how many were known to have been captured yet either died in captivity (known) or simply were never heard of again. Those that we know made it to a prison and subsequently died are listed as “POW – died,” whereas those that we know were captured on the ground but never made it to a prison are listed as KIA.

Again, these are my impressions as I entered the data and couldn’t help but read many of the stories and circumstances.
As I said on the site, the purpose is:  To Preserve and Present What Really Happened for Our Children and Grandchildren.
In addition, the “site is dedicated to those that were lost in the skies over the Gulf of Tonkin, North Vietnam, South Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and on routes to and from the war zone. May their stories never be forgotten. May their families and friends always be proud.”
Everyone is invited to see for themselves at:  https://www.VietnamAirLosses.com.
Micro      Chris Hobson and Dave Lovelady.\\

On a personal note,

I was in Phu Cat in 68 & 69. We flew F100s and there were other outfits, including a Spooky Squadron of C-47s and F4s
One of our pilots, Sherman Flanagan was the first ANG pilot shot down and presumably killed.

On 21 July, 1968, Lt Col Sherman E. 62 History of 355th Tactical Fighter Squadron, July – September 1968. 63 History of 37thTactical Fighter Wing, July – September 1968, Volume III. 27Flanagan, Jr. gave his life as one of the first recalled ANG officers to die in SEA combat.

Another pilot hit some tree tops during a strafe , but made it out alive. I went to visit him in the hospital. He was surely lucky. Wish I could remember his name.  I knew most of these g guys since I was in the base cashiers office a lot.
Some of these guys were really nuts. They would go out and drink all night, then get in the jets and take a big dose of oxygen to clear their heads.  We would watch the A1-Es turn over and dive bomb the gooks with Napalm (Yes, I said Napalm)   Regular bombs didn't look the same when they blew up.
What a politically stupid war.   And I use that term loosely.

Bob McConkey

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Some FUN with MEMES


As pro-democracy protests hit central Moscow this summer, student vlogger Egor Zhukov promoted peaceful resistance to his 100,000 followers on YouTube. Violent clashes on the city’s streets — which have seen armour-clad, helmeted riot police pin down unarmed protesters on stone pavements as their colleagues beat their knees with batons — showed Russia’s security services doling out “political repression”, he said. 

“Life is a struggle for power,” Mr Zhukov said in a video uploaded last week. “People with no power are fighting to have any at all. People who have any power are fighting for it to be absolute.”  

The protests have seen armour-clad, helmeted riot police pin down unarmed protesters on stone pavements as their colleagues beat their knees with batons © MAXIM SHIPENKOV/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock  
A few hours after the video went live, police raided the 21-year-old’s apartment, interrogated him for five hours and dragged him off to court, where a judge sent him to jail facing charges of participating in “mass disturbances”. If convicted, he could spend up to eight years in prison. 

“They’re picking up random people and offering no explanation of what they did in court. And they send them to jail,” says Sergei Smirnov, editor of Mediazona, an independent news site that covers Russia’s criminal justice system. “Investigators are taking people hostage with the approval of the country’s political leaders.” 
Not since 2012, when thousands of Muscovites took to the streets to protest against Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency, has Russia’s capital seen such a brutal crackdown on demonstrations as that witnessed during the past fortnight. Police trucks packed with young Russians and rows of baton-wielding troops have shown the brute force available to Mr Putin and his willingness to use it.  

Lyubov Sobol is arrested in Moscow. The opposition activist has led calls for a follow-up protest this Saturday © Reuters  

But the continued defiance from the tens of thousands who have taken to the streets this summer has underlined the depth of the disaffection at a 20-year-long regime that has failed to deliver economic growth or rising living standards for much of the past five years. And the dearth of ideas inside his administration to reverse its sliding popularity. 

Portrayed in foreign capitals as a powerful and belligerent geopolitical actor whose military interventions have given him increased global clout, Mr Putin’s domestic support is foundering — down a third since 2017 — after years of economic malaise that have left average Russians feeling poorer and less confident about their future. Real incomes have fallen for five of the past six years, and are about 10 per cent lower than in 2013.  

That domestic gloom has eroded trust in what was once a dependable unspoken agreement between Mr Putin and the Russian people, who traded political and social freedoms for rising prosperity and national pride. As the fruits of those promises sour, many Russians are increasingly pushing back against what they see as over-reach from a government seeking to maintain total control over the country. 

The latest protests were called after opposition activists were banned from competing in Moscow council elections in September. Though only 11 per cent of Muscovites showed any interest in the upcoming elections when asked about them two months ago — according to Kremlin pollster Vtsiom — the vote and subsequent police violence have become a focus for broader anger against Mr Putin. 

“It’s not about the city council any more,” says Evgeny Ocharov, a friend of Mr Zhukov. “There are more reasons to protest. People came to support the independent candidates and there was violent reprisal. Their friends and relatives were beaten and arrested. If people were chanting ‘Let them run!’ before, now they’re chanting ‘Let them out!’” 
Thousands of riot police have sealed off key road junctions and turned central squares into fortresses of metal barricades manned by baton-wielding officers on the past two Saturdays.  
Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption campaigner who has become a prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin © AFP  
Almost 2,400 people have been detained. Videos of riot police beating protesters have gone viral on social media, prompting officers to cover their faces and remove their ID badges at last Saturday’s protest. One man on a bicycle was beaten to the ground, then carried by half a dozen policemen to a police truck while still atop the bicycle.  

Though police claim protesters attacked them and blocked traffic, they have committed the vast majority of the unprovoked violence, say activists. When Konstantin Konovalov, the graphic designer who created the Moscow metro’s current logo, went for a jog past the site of a planned protest hours before it began, police beat him so badly they broke his leg — then charged him with disturbing the peace.  

Such a violent display of police power has led many to conclude that the Kremlin has run out of patience after an outpouring of discontent across Russian society forced a trio of U-turns.  

Mass protests in Ekaterinburg — Russia’s fourth-largest city — forced local authorities to shelve plans to build a major new Russian Orthodox cathedral on the site of a popular park. Construction of a sprawling rubbish dump for Moscow’s waste in forests close to Arkhangelsk on Russia’s northern coast has also been delayed after protests. Then, in June, investigative journalist Ivan Golunov, was detained on drugs charges he said had been fabricated to prevent him releasing reports into police corruption. He was released, the charges thrown out and two senior Moscow police chiefs were sacked. 

“We see a growing sense of fearlessness,” a senior foreign diplomat in Moscow says. “Instead of specifics, increasingly there is a sense of injustice...now its the principle that is upsetting them.” 
The heavy-handed police treatment in Moscow illustrates the lack of alternative levers available to the Kremlin, as trust in Mr Putin falls to a six-year low.  
For most of his rule, which began in 2000 and included a four-year period as prime minister to satisfy a term limit prescribed in the constitution that he subsequently altered, Mr Putin has broadly managed Russian popular opinion with a cocktail of economic growth, triumphalist military expansion and nationalist rhetoric. 

The investigative journalist Ivan Golunov, who was detained on drugs charges he said had been fabricated to prevent him releasing reports into police corruption © AFP  

But there has been barely any growth in the inefficient, state-heavy and sanctions-hit economy. An increase in value added tax in January further eroded spending power, and a change to the pension rules means Russians now must work five years longer before they can retire at 60 for women and 65 for men. 

It appears that cash-strapped households have sought to make ends meet by taking out personal loans which last year grew by 46 per cent to Rbs8.6tn ($130bn). Russia’s economy minister warned last month that the country is facing a recession in 2021 that could see gross domestic product shrink by 3 per cent on a surge in loan defaults. 

In addition to the economic gloom, the Kremlin’s popularity boost achieved after the annexation of Crimea in 2014 has evaporated, as the conflict in eastern Ukraine rumbles on. Promises of military success in Syria have also been quietly forgotten, as the Russian army becomes ever more bogged down in the country’s civil war and the number of servicemen killed continues to rise. 

Now, analysts say, the regime is left with nothing but the truncheon.  

“The essence of this response is the attempts of the institutions of power to individually prove to Putin their ‘political responsibility’ and ‘trustworthiness’,” says Tatiana Stanovaya, founder of R. Politik, a political consultancy. “As the saying goes, ‘those who can protect themselves, save themselves’. This is the erosion of the regime.” 
Many of those who took to the streets of Moscow in the past two weekends were young, liberal-minded Russians. Last Saturday they were spoilt for choice: A festival headlined by the British band The Cure had already sold thousands of tickets. And then with just three days’ notice, city authorities put on a show in Gorky Park featuring several top Russian rock bands. 

This scramble to seemingly distract the city’s hipsters from the demonstrations highlights just how much the protest movement has driven a wedge between Moscow’s creative middle class, which forms the core of the opposition, and city mayor Sergei Sobyanin, who spent years trying to court it.  

Environmental activists protest against the construction of a waste recycling plant near Moscow © Sergei Bobylev/TASS  
An enormous urban renewal programme in recent years has transformed central Moscow into a modern European capital. Those urban spaces are now becoming regular battlegrounds for clashes with police.  
Mr Sobyanin is the most senior Russian official to have taken on the opposition at the ballot box in Mr Putin’s era. In 2013, he defeated Alexei Navalny — the anti-corruption campaigner who has become a prominent Putin critic — for mayor after the Kremlin abruptly released the activist from prison in what appeared to be an attempt to make the elections appear legitimate. 
The Moscow mayor portrays the protesters as a violent minority. Last week, he said “anarchy, disturbances, and chaos” would “end in tragedy”, adding: “We don’t live in Zimbabwe!” 
Most of those detained, which included 80 children and 14 journalists, were held for most of the evening. Many describe being interrogated, photographed, forced to hand over their mobile phones and having their fingerprints taken without a lawyer present.  
The majority will be charged with an administrative offence for “violations of the established order of conducting public events” — a crime that carries a fine of between Rbs10,000-20,000 or community service of up to 40 hours. But in one case Moscow prosecutors have sought to strip a couple of their parental rights after they brought their one-year-old child to the July protest.  

For those the authorities deem to be the ringleaders, far stricter punishments are threatened.  

Vladimir Putin in the Gulf of Finland during the recent protests in Moscow © AP  
Mr Navalny was detained three days before the first Saturday protest and jailed for 30 days, on charges of encouraging people to attend an unsanctioned protest. His Anti-Corruption Foundation is being investigated for allegations of laundering Rbs1bn, punishable by as much as seven years in prison. He has claimed he was poisoned during the first week of his detention, a charge that the doctors at the state-run hospital he was treated in have denied. 
In addition to Mr Navalny, several other opposition activists who attempted to take part in the September council election were also detained before the marches. 
Moscow authorities have approved some protests and banned others in an apparent attempt to keep opponents guessing. Yet activists who are still at liberty appear unbowed. Lyubov Sobol, an ally of Mr Navalny, led calls for a follow-up protest this Saturday that is likely to deviate from a location sanctioned by city authorities and prompt another police response. Ms Sobol — who was briefly detained last weekend — is in her fourth week of a hunger strike in protest at not being allowed to run for office. 
Mr Putin himself is yet to comment publicly on the protests. Last month, as police began to contain protesters with riot shields and batons, he was descending to the bottom of the Gulf of Finland in a special mini-submersible, to observe the wreckage of a Soviet submarine sunk during the second world war. 
“The current criminal prosecution of the opposition resembles the protests of 2012 [against Mr Putin’s return to the presidency]. However, there is a fundamental difference — then Putin was personally involved in the promotion of this response...It was clear that this was a matter of principle for him, says Ms Stanovaya. 
“This means that criminal prosecution [now] will not necessarily be ‘holistic’ and thoughtful, but rather chaotic and conflicting,” she adds. “After all, it is one thing to not let [the opposition] take part in the polls, and quite another to sweep away all the unwanted people into police trucks.” 
Kremlin response plays on fears of foreign meddling 
Viewers of Russia’s main television channels, tightly controlled by the Kremlin, have seen next to no coverage of the protests over the past few weeks. But while President Vladimir Putin has yet to publicly comment on the unrest, Russia’s government has not been silent.  
The response has followed a tried and tested textbook: portray those involved as rioters seeking to destabilise the country, and blame western powers for stirring up the dissent.  
“As for Saturday’s strolls, the Embassy of the United States was most closely involved in that activity,” said Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for Russia’s foreign ministry. “I think that the US leadership will be very surprised at how their diplomats meddle in Russia’s internal affairs.” 
Foreign support for popular demonstrations has long been one of the Kremlin’s deepest fears, after watching the so-called colour revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine during Mr Putin’s rule — uprisings that he has long blamed on western finance, support and encouragement. 
Mr Putin directly accused former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton of backing the 2011 protests against his presidency and has consistently railed against western governments for seeking to destabilise Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. 
Before last Saturday’s rally, the US embassy in Moscow posted an alert on its website warning US citizens to avoid the protest due to an increased threat of violence and potential arrest.  
But the notice also included details of the meeting points and times for protesters to assemble and a map — in Russian — outlining the protest route.  

“As we understand it, 90 per cent of that information appealed to people to join the event,” Ms Zakharova said this week, adding that Moscow would submit a formal complaint to the US government. 

Wednesday, August 07, 2019


I had a mission today with Marines. My brother, also Navy, supported the effort. Words like "Chosin", and "Khe Sanh" rolled off their capped teeth on hot embers of memories that won't fade. Dick Miller came out of the Marines to a career as a polymer chemist with over 300 patents.

Retired and recently relocated here, he seeks to learn more of the area and find a bridge group. Jeff Nita Bohannon ( 1st. Sgt. Jeff) retired and served as a prison Warden before a second retirement.

We also met an Army Korea-era vet at Socios. We enjoyed some time with Ed and Sandy Faxlanger who raised 7 children most of whom chose wisely to serve in the Navy. They are friends with another local Marine we admire named "Red" James (record naval aviator combat missions in Korea) .

Dick and I also dropped by Johns2 Barber Shop in Pace to get the lay of the land for future cut hairs. I plan to get Mr Miller around the area a bit to meet children his own age. I plan to bring him to the Jay Historical talk Thursday at 6pm.

Fascinating factoids:
My cousin, Rogene Kilpatrick (deceased) was in the same Marine unit as Mr. Miller at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. 1/5
A poem found in his memoirs. (Google Chosin Battle) https://drive.google.com/…/1NZmvoTthznqMkHP-m3Sly4MuL…/view…
I was in the same pickup bed with Jeff on a Future Farmer trip from Chumuckla, Florida to the Tampa State Fair in 1964.
I counted four purple hearts between the two marines.
A nice lady stopped by to thank the vets and unknown to us - she paid for our lunch ! I had given her some Irish Blessings when she spoke to us.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

A Church - A Daycare - A Marine - A Paraplegic

I was in the grand village of Chumuckla, Florida today to see the grand opening of a child care center and in the process re-visited a friendship with an old Marine who dallies with the written word.

A few years ago, I listened to a talk by this old Marine and found myself buying some of his books. They were impressive but in the moment, in a talk at the Jay Historical Society, I was overwhelmed by the grace and beauty of singing performed by his son, Josh - accompanied by another author, Jake.

I want you to see this recording I made at the time.  Josh, a paraplegic affected by cerebral palsy is a man from whom we should all learn some lessons. (me3tv.org is my youtube channel)

So... today - while attending the opening of a new daycare center in our hamlet of Chumuckla, Florida -- I was told I would really enjoy meeting the father-in-law of the new owner.  Turns out Josh's dad is Jerry Morrell - whose book - "The Old Man" touched me with depth and sincerity and whom I had met this night at the Jay Historical Society Talks.   Turns out he is the old Marine "I would enjoy meeting". Turns out we already met.  I was given another of his books "Once a Marine" and now I can read THAT book too and with appreciation ... since my son is also now a Marine.


Toby, Jerry's stepson, whose last name is Bowman, gave me a great hamburger and some more copies of Jerry's books. (Toby is Ms. Marilyn's husband). You too can experience these books but you need to send him a check in the mail. He is not selling on our beloved internet.  This is true also tor the Book of sketches by Jake Nowland which is a classic of sketches from the back woods of the panhandle - and the South accompanied by the most fascinating hand written text. 

THIS BLOG POST will help you find a way to buy Both Morrell's and Nowland's books . (they do not use the web for orders)

It is my hope - with some development of ideas with Ms. Marilyn Bowman, there will become a series of lectures - maybe monthly - at the old church sanctuary.  And included will be supplements of talent from people who sing or make poetry write books or just tell stories.  Chumuckla and the entire region is packed with talent.

Jerry Morrell is a cousin of another chronicler of the region and a colorful character in our history -- BB Morrell.  He wrote of mysteries in the Milton Cemetery - including the stealthy and unmarked burial of serial  murderer, Martha Beck - one of the team of  "lonely hearts murders".  Terrible story. She grew up right here in Santa Rosa County.

ALL THIS because I went to the opening of  Miss Marilyn's Little Olives ChildCare Center at the old Methodist Church in Chumuckla. 

While there today, I took upon myself the sacred duty of relaying the history of this church to those who would listen.  It is my regret I did not record it because every time I tell it, it comes out different. 

IN ANY EVENT... it involved the Creek Indian Civil War of 1813 in the middle of America's war with Britain starting in 1812 and General Jackson and Davy Crockett and Jackson's cattleman neighbor near Nashville - Ben Jernigan (who ended up founding Milton), and  later the Yankee carpetbagger, who started the lumber industry here (Skinner) and the man who followed him and made an empire that benefitted many people (John C. Pace) and "The Depression" and founding Elizabeth chapel and grading cotton and then WWII and THREE young men from the hamlet that lost their lives in the war-- and who were all closely tied to the history and the founding of this particular church.  (Seif Kilpatrick, Adrian Enfinger, OD Harris ... God rest their souls)

I do think the rain-out of the water slide and cookout today will not slow down the startup and services from the new business in this building that has so many memories in it.  Ms Marilyn herself has roots that touch this community and serving people with grace, honor and respect will be a continuing honor to those whose history is intertwined within the walls of these buildings.

Thank you, Ms. Marilyn for taking the challenge of bringing these walls back to life.  You are bringing a much needed service to the people of our area - especially as we continue to grow with more residents - all hoping to get some of mystique of community from our hamlet.