Friday, December 23, 2016


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thursday, November 03, 2016

I met Dopey tonight and more

Randy and Amy of Appointed2 at Texas Roadhouse in Milton
Karen and I went to eat at Texas Roadhouse tonight so she could get over to see her mom at the nursing home and I could pick up my washed car from Stillworth's which is next to Aces on Hwy 90. Stillworth's has some plans that help you keep your car clean and serviceable. They are friendly folks and have some family and friends in big league baseball.  They were excited to see Addison Russell involved with the CUB World Series Win !   It's a major event for the cubs and Russell is from right here in Pace, Florida.

We sat to order and a conversation erupted between us and an interesting evangelist couple at the next table. They were in town to sing, they said and invited us. We could not join them at the revival just across the Blackwater River but wished them well. And we began to learn a lot about them.  The old fashioned TENT REVIVAL with Appointed2 is across from the Tom Thumb At WARD BASIN ROAD- East on US 90.   (NOV 3 and 4) .  Randy is a minister and singer, songwriter and Amy sings and also writes. They sing a lot of the things they write and have won a few categories in national Gospel Singing competitions.  (YOUTUBE CLIP)

Randy is a Florida Cracker (he has an official cowboy shirt, hat and boots) who went into full time gospel work about 22 years ago.  Amy joined in about seven or eight years ago. Before this she worked for a beverage distributor and at one point was the character, Dopey at Disney World.  I asked if there was any  sibling rivalry or family tension between Dopey and the others and she said not really.   But when a dwarf is not able to join in the parade (illness, fatigue, late), all the dwarves have to stay out except Dopey who is a favorite of Snow White.  So it helps to be the family favorite. Karen reminded me that Snow White often kisses Dopey in technicolor on the forehead.

It is fascinating to know there are such things as gospel music competitions.  Appointed2 is having a
good roll just now - and the event here is followed by one at Ozark, AL and soon after in Griffin, Ga. They stay pretty booked up and travel in a 32 foot RV that was donated to their ministry.

I told them I  would encourage my friends to go hear their message at the revival.  It should be easy to find. I suspect they are willing accept sinners at the revival even though there are few remaining in our county with the high per capita church concentration.  Saints are certainly welcome also.


This is pretty good weather just now for a Tent Revival.  It would be Hell in the summer. I don't know the statistics on seasonal donations but I am willing to bet money the willingness to be generous is better in cooler weather. The "Grace of God" phenomenon.
Don't mind me. I am just going on.  Go and have a good time. These folks struck me as the salt of the earth. Here to help bring a message of peace and healing.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Superb Filet Mignon

J. Lee Campbell - AT HOME (ca 1980)
My dad, J. Lee Campbell, loved his beef. He loved them on the hoof or on the plate. He transferred some of that love of beef to me as a youngster. I took that love with me into the military and my time in the Navy. the Navy was known for providing good beef to the sailors and that may have been one of the selling points for me to join that particular outfit back in 1969 right after the Draft Lottery came out and I was sitting in my dorm room at the University of West Florida, thinking about my draft number that December - which was EIGHT and the relative merits of the Marines vs the Navy should my semester grades not measure up. I knew Marines ate canned food and that was one of the negatives in the comparison. Final Exams were in play. Draft numbers were helping college students make lifelong decisions. I made mine and went to see a Navy Recruiter to join the reserves THAT NEXT DAY.

By late 1972, I was floating around the other side of the world on the steel deck of a Destroyer Escort - an Active Duty Naval officer - looking at the coast of Vietnam.  Every few minutes there was a loud "BANG" and then another. Smoke rising on the beach meant somebody was not having a good day.

Weeks of this, with the supply of beef running low, was about all a boy could take. The wardroom had decided to spend its food allowance on dietary menus because the XO and CO were on a diet and because the left-over allowance for food was handy for the OPS boss and WEPS boss to pay off their expensive sports car loans back in "the world".  I, too enjoyed the extra $15 a month to put toward my own small extravagances.

Fortunately the Navy required the crew to have only the best food the Navy could muster up --- and about once a week it seems, they got Steak and Lobster to eat down on the Mess Deck.  But in the wardroom, the officers ate baloney sandwiches.  (In those days, officers ate separate meals from the crew - separate galley - cooks - the whole deal - it was a throwback to the British Navy of 1750 in which officers bought their own uniforms and meals).

Given the (BaMMM)  uncomfortable ambiance (BAmmm)  and low caloric output of the Officer's Wardroom -- (Bammm) I was inclined to volunteer to sample the crews (BamMMMM) mess . This was also a Navy requirement. An officer MUST daily sample the crew's mess to be sure they are getting the very best meals possible.  (BAMMmmmm).  I made myself available on many occasions to be sure the crew was fed properly. I would join them on occasion for lobster and steak. BaaaMMM!.   Rounds Complete. Target Destroyed. Troops, bunkers, ammunition. Five rounds expended. Standby for new target, bearing 237, 5640 yards. Computer check. Standby to shoot.

So weeks of this with very little good beef were interrupted by a spate of bad weather and a chance to take a few days in Hong Kong.  USS O'Callahan was a Destroyer Escort - larger than the WWII versions but still, only one screw and two boilers.  We steamed through the bad weather all the way to Hong Kong and pulled into Victoria Harbor.  Immediately on entering the harbor and anchoring out,
USS O'Callahan "Irish Song"
we got a communication from the British Harbor Master - who was in a delicate situation - as plans were underway already to return Hong Kong to the Chinese government. There was a kind of dual government going on between the Brits and the Chinese.  And it turns out the BAD WEATHER on our trip up had kept our crew safely inside the skin of the ship (except for lookouts).  The weather situation kept our deck crew from getting outside to PAINT THE GUNS back to a normal Navy Gray vs the crispy black and peeling paint resulting from heavy gunfire.

There we were. Anchored in a semi-Commie Port with guns that looked like they had been in a war somewhere in that general part of the world.  One could guess the guns had been aimed at friends of the Chinese - points South of Hong Kong.  The Harbor Master was LIVID.  His message to our CO was along the lines of  "throwing us out of town".  We had MINUTES to get our guns dressed up like nice Navy ships should be.  So, indeed, while still in a drizzle, the deck crew hustled paint to the deck and proceeded to get the gun barrels colored gray again.   We really were -- ALMOST --- thrown out of Hong Kong.

We had perhaps three days there and most of the officers and crew got a chance to go into the city and become impressed by the wonders of the Orient.  I had an opportunity to join a table of young officers at a fine table at a fine restaurant. I ordered a filet-mignon and the thing melted in my mouth,.
Typical Hong Kong Achorage
leaving not a single part of my pallet unsatisfied.  Maybe it was being off the ship for a few hours. Maybe it was the wonders of the Orient. Maybe it was my starvation diet from the wardroom. In any case, this meal would become my standard for filet-mignon from then on.  In a few days we left Hong Kong and returned to "the gun line" near the DMZ, off the mouth of the Cua Viet River.
That memory of fine beef remained with me to this day. And only today - in a meal at my home - has the wonder of the fine taste of the best filet been matched.  My wife cooked it carefully.  At current prices you don't want to mess up a good filet. This happened because when I went to Chumuckla today to take care of some chores, Karen asked me to stop by Oakes Meats and get some filets. And I did.

Our Ship Reunion will be in Pensacola October 5-10. On Friday the 7th we will have a memorial service at the Veterans Park in Pensacola to honor our shipmates who sailed already and to honor our namesake - Father Joe O'Callahan and the crew of USS Franklin in WWII.  We welcome friends of the Navy and Veterans to join in any of our activities. The registration details are at 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Alabama Town

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

THE JAY STUMP TALKS - Candidates 2016

Most of the local and state candidates showed up for the fish fry and stump talks in Jay, August 6. The few that missed would be sad to know that we estimate for every local citizen who showed up, another 50 to 100 voters are influenced. This is because the town of Jay is an older pioneer genetic base for the region and families and networks are centuries old. So, because of the deep roots throughout the county - even large parts of the South County are affected by what people in Jay hear and talk about.  Conversely, the more shallow roots but much greater numbers of South County residents require attendance to be 4 to 8 times larger for the same "reach".  Congratulations to all the candidates for participating in the GREAT AMERICAN TRADITION.   Here is the AUDIO from the Jay STUMP TALKS.  Feel free to note the time stamps for YOUR favorite candidates.

Do feel free to join in the Jay Historical Facebook Page Group
The site has become a fascinating repository of short stories
and reminiscing by members and others. It is an enjoyable stop 
along the highway of information.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Scott Griffin's 3 Point Plan for President

GRIFFIN is running for President (maybe). Depends on if he can get on the ballot with a criminal record in his long ago past. Anyway. He has his own THREE POINT PLAN to save AMERICA.  All donations from foreign countries need to be paid in cash to the Griffin Foundation.  Contact Scott Griffin for details.

Who is running for President? Check ALL these before you settle. #hillaryforpresident , #trumpforpresident , #johnsonweld .#whylibertarian. 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

To Envision Life

St. Louis Cardinal's farm team
Today, I had some chores in Pace. This included a nice quiet coffee respite at the Coffee Break cafe. My brother Jim Joined me and Bill Lundin and Stuart Pooley (the poet of Bagdad). Jim was wearing a cap from the New JerseyCardinals who were once a farm team in Sussex County, NJ. Jim went to a game with us almost one thousand years ago when we lived there. HE got the cap - which is now antique.
Million Dollar Bridge

Then, I drove up to Chumuckla to confer with my advisers about logs and timber and living life with gusto. Then, I drove by the "million dollar" bridge as one of my advisers calls it. It is there,  he takes his grandson to swim in the cold spring waters. His barely teen grandson slapped a new set of spark plug wires on his truck - almost blindfolded. A wonder. Swim call - deserved.  I never really knew where the "million dollar bridge" was -- but it is not far at all from the old McDavid place near Chumuckla Springs (also known as "mineral springs". The McDavid Place is also near "Coon Hill" which as it turns out - is mentioned in the new historical novel by Gaylier Miller.

I stopped for a moment to capture a picture of some young cotton plants 
reaching for the sun.

From there I hastened my path on over to the home of Louise Arnette who is a native of "Mineral Springs" but the Mineral Springs of Philadelphia, Mississippi. Now she lives near Jay, FL. Louise had some of her famous chicken salad made up for Roy Allen and for me. Before I took Roy his Chicken Salad - I convinced Louise to give her "basic origins" story to my smart camera video recorder. Enjoy the video at the end ) Her history is purely rugged survival and success. Such people we should be thankful to live among.

Louise Arnette
I delivered to Roy his chicken salad. We talked about his step dad - Don Bales - (Pat Allen Bales) who is recovering from serious surgery at West Florida. My aunt Louise Chavers Carswell -  (age 94) called my smart phone while I was at Roy's and he got to tell her hello and she spoke with him. She always asks about my blind friend, Roy.
I suggested to Roy that her immobility at her age leaves her in a position she cannot enjoy the full beauty of God's creation every day and it becomes her joy to remember people I tell her about - like the river logger and Roy the blind BBQ man, and the handyman and my son the marine and my sister's fourteen grandchildren and my brother's Disney vacations --  and envision their lives.
A THRILL TO ENVISION, I said .... to my blind friend, Roy.
Got home and ate my chicken salad with Karen Gatewood Campbell.
                                                                            I cannot describe how good it was !

(I think my sister only has ten grandkids but I lost count )


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Catalpa Caper

Follow up to Catalpa

This is little Mary Ellis Young who now has some catalpa worms to take to her son in Pennsylvania to capture a fifty pound Yankee Blue catfish. Her son took up fishing after he nearly died from an abscessed molar. She is also making the trip for some graduating grandsons. Scott Griffin, who currently sports bad molar infections got these off his tree for her. See catalpa story at the Chumuckla Blog and at Mary's brother, Danny Ellis and I, once upon a time, used a rattlesnake for our school science project. Danny is battling cancer now in Ozark, Al. The snake story is in my book (out of print) Jct. 197. Found the story about me and Danny. HERE it is for you......

The Story With Danny Ellis and Uncle Vic a half century ago.

Junction: County Road 197
In New Jersey, there is a large horse racing complex called "The Meadowlands." There are fancy restaurants inside and computer-controlled betting windows. From the track, you can see the skyline of New York City. It is a beautiful place to go for dinner and to invest in the horses. Of course, if you were to go there to bet on them, that would be sinful. Being a cautious man, I went there to "invest" in them. I had not attended a horse race since August 1965. I can remember the hot Saturday afternoon well. From that day forward, I believed myself banned from all race tracks forever.
Jesse Ellis and his family raised thoroughbred horses. Their farm was off Chumuckla Springs Road. Every Saturday in the summer, Jesse would have folks from all over come to his farm to race their stock against his. There was no betting, you understand, because a sinful nature was frowned upon in that part of the county.
One fall Saturday afterward, as I rode tall in the saddle on my gentle mare "Ripple," making tracks in the unpaved Chumuckla Springs Road, I crossed paths with a modest red diamondback rattlesnake. Following my usual inclination to collect snakes, I took Ripple to the side of the road and hitched her to a tree. I found a stick for snake catching and went about the business of capturing the venomous reptile. Danny Holt happened on the scene as he drove down the road. I asked for a lift to the Ellis Place, where I thought I might find a big jar or a sack. Danny was a year older than me and a good deal smarter. He offered a ride, but not inside the car. I could ride on the hood and I could pick Ripple up later.
Forgetting the sensitive nature of horses, I showed up at the races on the hood of Danny Holt's car with a live rattle snake in my hands. I never saw such a wild frenzy of horses. Records would have been broken—had there been time to keep any—and if the horses had remained inside the race track. It took weeks to get some of them out of the swamps.
Needless to say, I was never invited back to the races. The snake fared even worse. It was sacrificed for a science proj ect that Danny Ellis (Jesse's son) and I completed for biology class at school.
Fortunately for me, Jesse had not notified the Meadowlands of my previous behavior, and I was admitted to the New Jersey track without a search.
Up here they have what is called "harness racing." The horse pulls a little cart with a man in it. There is a special thrill to hear the bugle play, to watch the horses race, and to read the racing program as if you know what you are doing.
I invested two dollars in "Perry Noyd" in the first race, "Wide Load" and "Family Tree" in the third, and "Prince Lee Knight" in the fourth. Later, I threw away caution and began to bet.
After betting two dollars on "Vicarious Thrills" in the seventh, my wife stopped me. I had lost twenty dollars from my investments, and she did not approve of mortgaging the house to bet on "Little Lou Rain" in the eighth race.
"Little Lou Rain" won and paid ten to one. If I had bet on him, I could have retired to a life of idleness. (My wife questions that this is a "goal" since she believes me to be fairly idle already.) Anyway, idle hands lead to mischief. So maybe I would have become a broker and taken up betting on the stock market.

My wife will not allow me to carry more than a dollar fifty in my pocket. So I am considering selling my blood to get enough cash for my next investment. I have a hunch the horse named "Little Rattler" will be a big winner for me.

Monday, May 23, 2016


If you found this post you can have a copy of my book -- Linked here.  The book is in both EBOOK and PDF format and you can read it easily from a computer or phone or tablet.  There are APPS that will actually VOICE READ the ebook to you.  Here is ONE. FLY READER. (free)

HERE is THE EBOOK version

HERE  is the PDF version

PLEASE  tell your friends to go to  and scroll down to about mid May 2016. And HERE is the LINK to the BOOK! (make them work for it ... you did !)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Dead Lakes Near Wewahichka, FL

All is not beaches in NW Florida. Sometimes there is Yellow Fever. ... and of course there is Tupelo Honey.  More of this is reflected in the film with Peter Fonda "Tupelo Gold".  The lecture on the DEAD LAKES and Tupelo Honey continues -- HERE.

Dwarf Cyprus in Tate's Hell

I mentioned some about Tate's Hell in the last post in this blog. Dr. Rucker, who teaches Florida History and also a very popular Florida PANHANDLE History at Pensacola State and at University of West FL is our guide.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Apalachicola and A Lucky Dog

Karen and I made overnight trip to Apalachicola with Dr. Brian Rucker and his wife, Amy.  Brian is a professor of Florida History at Pensacola State College and teaches adjunct courses at UWF.  We recently sat in on his Panhandle History Class and are now hopelessly curious about all the places and the history that happened there.

So -- On MONDAY we made our way from Milton, FL to Apalachicola. I like Brian's routing which took us to Crestview by I-10 and then down near Fort Walton and then EAST on Florida Hwy 20. THAT took out a LOT of the traffic issues or loss of "color" by using I-10 or by using the often crowded US Hwy 98 near the beaches.  We stopped for a few pictures at Econfina Creek and in or near Wewahichka. That is where the Dead Lakes are located. It is a popular fresh water fishing haven.  It is also a famous area for the production of Tupelo Honey ! A movie about a local character and his "Tupelo Gold" is told in the movie "Ulee's Gold" with Peter Fonda . It was filmed there in the late 1990's. the gold is Tupelo Honey.

About 1830, enterprising investors built a railroad across the swamp here - to Port St. Joe - where they hoped to use the deep water port to compete with Apalachicola - to transport cotton out of the lower Alabama farmland.
rail pilings in Chipola river

The advantage to the port of Apalachicola of course was the VAST watershed area of the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers that fed the port out of both Georgia and Alabama. The drawback to Apalachicola - which became one of the busiest ports in America was its shallow depth.

While good for oysters - it was not good for deep-water ships. "Lighter" ships (actually called "lighters") conveyed the cotton bales out of the bay to oceangoing ships anchored in the gulf, beyond St. George Island.

Alas, Port St. Joe had a Yellow Fever epidemic and nearly everybody died.  The railroad died. the port died. Port St. Joe, near Cape San Blas is in revival now. Even has a functioning port facility. It is a beautiful area to visit. Meanwhile, at the Chipola River bridge crossing the Dead Lakes - you can still see the remains of the pilings for the old railroad that failed.

It was a stress free route and soon we were wandering around Apalachicola - but not after checking into the GIBSON INN and taking a 30 minute nap.

We have been often to Apalachicola. It is one of our favorite "Old Florida" towns. It has become a little bit trendy of late and prices are geared to the beach condo crowd on St. George Island. Regardless, the average upland Cracker with worn shoes or bare feet can still find good prices.  The Gibson Inn was a new experience for us and it will not be the last. It is for sale just now for $3.5 Million Dollars, U.S.  I expect the new owners will keep the ambiance.

You will see some of the hotel in my included photo

I missed the last "R" month for oysters but risked a few for an appetizer anyway. These were

sprinkled with caviar, shallots and lime or lemon juice and some other fancy orange colored garnish. Oh man. They were great. We all went with the special for the day - A grouper dish.

Brian and I left the ladies to rest after dinner and went for a brief tour of the waterfront again - at night - to observe some of their
"Forgotten Coast"  celebrations with Plein Air Music and Artists. Even so it was a quiet waterfront and zero activity in the town.

 Back on the hotel porch, I met a man who does web work for the region and who has a dog he found abandoned - named -   "Lucky" .  . We talked some about his passion for the region and also about the dog. ALUCKYDOGG (find on facebook)

A Lucky Dog
After a comfortable breakfast at the Hotel we began a tour route to include East Bay - where most of the Oyster boats work from -- and then up the EAST side of the Apalachicola River to  TATE's HELL.  You never want to get lost in Tate's Hell. It killed Tate.   His last words were, "I'm Cebe Tate, and I have been to Hell !"  

It was impressive. One part of Hell we saw was the Dwarf Cypress Forest.
Dwarf Cypress at Tate's Hell
Even trees over 300 years old will only grow to about 15 feet. Something to do with the limestone layer underneath. We stopped for an observation tower at Sand Beach. on the North side of the Bay.

Amy and Brian Rucker
The Next historical interlude on our return from hell, was FORT GADSDEN on the Apalachicola River. It was a fort with a lot of owners. Spain, Britain, USA, Confederates. The river was a gateway and it was at a strategic location to block transportation. At one point, In 1815 under weak Spanish ownership and recently abandoned by British administration, it became a way-point for escaped slaves out of the the United States.

One thing led to another and eventually the "Negro Fort" was under siege by Jackson's troops who attacked the hostile Fort, fired , a lucky "hot shot" into the fort's magazine.  It subsequently blew up
We sneaked in
and killed most of the defenders.  This was a time of continued sensitivities toward the slaves and Indians (at this fort) who had been allied with the British in the war 1812 -( recently concluded at New Orleans). The Indians shot the Freedman black leader and the other free blacks were sent back to plantations in the USA -- North of Spanish Florida.

The "White Stick" Creek alliance with the Americans in this battle increased tensions with the Seminoles and led to the " First Seminole War".  Bear in mind, the Seminoles were largely composed of disaffected and hostile Creeks known as the "Red Sticks" who had sided with the British in the war of 1812.  This brings to mind an old saying-- "You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose -- but you can't pick your friend's nose".  They were messy times. It is much nicer now --- well, around here anyway.

While the greater part of my heritage comes from European stock, it turns out that tracing my grandma's family tree back, brings us to a Creek Indian woman, my 4th Great Grandma - Winnie Muscogee. Winnie and Thomas homesteaded near Marianna, Nancy Muscogee Gay is the daughter in my lineage. But one or more of Nancy's brothers were "Creek Indian Troops" in some of the Seminole Wars. They enlisted in groups and their units were separate fighting units. William Gay - a 4th Great Uncle was in the Florida Militia Indians. Some names in the regiment include "Spanish John" and "Big Davy".

We were unable to get close to the fort because we did not want to be captured and sent to jail since the sign said "CLOSED - DO NOT ENTER".  Dr. Rucker showed me a recent Laser based space photograph of the fort area that clearly shows the older fort and the newer one and the modifications that took place over time.  This cannot be seen by casual observation.

Karen can count
Our return trip took us BACK THROUGH Blountstown, FL on the West side of the Apalachicola River and back into the Central Time Zone.  We visited the  Pioneer Museum there.  Sometimes I feel really old when I go to places like that becuase in some of the houses, I can say --- My grandma had that ! Or -- I visited friends whose houses were just like that. OF course, by the 1950's those features from homes in the late 1800's were already rare but .... still.... we were living that history then!

While in Blountstown we learned Amy Rucker's great grandfather was the architect for the
Amy's GGrandpa was the Archetect
courthouse there. We took her picture in front of it. They don't make them like that anymore!  We ate lunch at the Parramore Too Restaurant - where the locals eat.

I do not know what happened after that. I fell asleep and by some magic I was home and asleep by 9pm.

The entire ALBUM OF PHOTOS is HERE (enjoy)

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Some Perdido River Reflections

Just "chill" a bit and enjoy the river. I shot this one day in the winter on the Perdido with the "Riverlogger"

Friday, April 08, 2016

Dad goes to Iceland

J. Lee Campbell -- A World War II Tale …………… (Vic Campbell - )

PBY - 5A
Dad joined the navy almost a year before the USA entered the conflict. He was assigned to VP84 when the war broke out and remained with them until sent back to CONUS for more training in 1944.  VP84 was a submarine patrol squadron based mostly on the East Coast, Newfoundland and Iceland and was the top scoring U-Boat sinking squadron of the war.

A pilot from this squadron made a now famous quote, " Sighted Sub -- Sank Same".

His remembrance of Dec 7, 1941 was he and (I think Wiley Diamond, from Jay) were strolling around Norfolk on Sunday afternoon and at some point there became very few people on the streets and very little activity. When they passed by some people they would look at them and say “those poor sailors”.  They arrived back at the base soon thereafter and were immediately handed rifles at the gate and sent to a beach to begin patrols along the water.

Dad was enlisted. He was a junior Petty Officer.  He was a machinist mate and a plane captain for one fo the PBY’s used for rescue and escort of other PBY’s and ships in trouble.  He described the nose art on his plane as a polar bear in a liferaft and the bear had a medical kit in its hands with a red cross on it.  I have never seen a picture of it.  A restored version of the PBY5A (with wheels) is in the Naval Air Museum at Pensacola.

One day - in ICELAND, at their base in Reykjavik, his plane was called on to make a mercy mission flight to get a young girl to a hospital. The pilot was Joe Higbee, of New Jersey.  They called for volunteers and dad went. He was about age 23 at the time (He was born in 1920).  Higbee and the few volunteers cranked up in very bad weather and taxied out take off into a storm.

Arriving over the fishing village - there was NOWHERE to safely set the plane down on water. A Cliff left a small patch of water with leeward protection but the beach where the people for the ride were standing was on the wrong side of the wind and waves were high.   Higbee found a way to land in the leeward soft water and taxi over nearer to the people. They came out to the plane through very rough water and were taken on board with great difficulty.  The Sick Girl and maybe one or two relatives.
J. Lee Campbell of Chumuckla

Then Higbee had to get out of there.  He aimed into the wind (against the waves) and tried a couple of times but the waves beat back the PBY boat hull and nearly swamped the engines.  He was having no luck getting up INTO the wind. Dad and the rest of the crew were all buckled down with the passengers.  HIgbee decided to make a run for it going WITH the wind … but it meant he had to go now TOWARD another cliff.  Engines roared. HIgbee piled on the speed and those big PBY wings lifted the bird up just ahead of the cliff and they swung over the cliff by mere feet as the plane climbed.

The girl got to the hospital. It saved her life. Iceland to this day has a day of remembrance for that event in the little village where the girl (now a grandmother with many children and grandchildren) lives.  Dad told me the story on tape about 1974 - soon after I came out of the Navy and we sat by a river and just talked. But the recorder batteries died right after he and Wiley Diamond learned about Pearl Harbor. Dad came to NJ to visit us about 1991 after our son was born. We tried to find Joe HIgbee but we did not succeed. Later I heard he had retired in a small town near the coast ( Maybe Red Bank?) where he had run a school bus company for many years.  Some years later, after Dad died in 2003, my brother made a Navy trip to Reykjavik with his reserve duties. He took Dad’s flight logs with him and while there discovered Icelandic researchers who knew all about that flight. They verified it with the logbook Jim showed them.  HIgbee had been brought to Iceland sometime in the 1990’s and was awarded a medal from that country.  I vaguely recall that the medal was donated to the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola after HIgbee died. I suppose it is cataloged somewhere in the archives there.  


of Allentown FL (near Chumucka, FL- Home of J. L. Campbell ....

I find your article about your Father and the Navy fascinating. Being somewhat aware of both events described I would like to add some additional information. The famous laconic phrase sent 18 January 1943 "sighted sub sank same" entered the lexicon of famous American military statements. Most folks aren't aware that it was sent by a Naval Aviation Pilot (not to be confused one whit with a Naval Aviator, an Officer.) Yes indeed Donald Mason, pilot in command was at that time an Aviation Machinist Mate First Class (Naval Aviation Pilot/NAP for short). He earned those gold wings in 1938. Furthermore, there wasn't an Officer anywhere near, nary a one on the land based Lockheed PBO-1,the crew consisted entirely of Enlisted men. 

This aircraft and crew was from VP-82 out of Argentia, Newfoundland. The PBO flown by NAP Mason was one of a small batch of Lockheed Hudson's diverted from the Royal Air Force (RAF) to the Navy. After the war, when all concerned were counting up their losses, it was determined that the submarine thought destroyed had actually survived the attack. However, on 15 March 1943 NAP Mason and crew were confirmed as sinking a different submarine, U-503. Under the command of Captain Otto Gericke, U-503 was on its first operational tour out of Bergen, Norway. Apparently U-503 was sunk with the loss of all hands! For that accomplishment NAP Mason was hauled into the officer ranks, and was awarded his second Distinguished Flying Cross, first was for the earlier affair.
Joseph Higbee, born January 13, 1914 in East Chicago, Indiana. Placed in an orphanage, adopted by Charles Higbee raised on a 300 acre farm, mules and horses, no tractors. Completed high school at age 20, joined the Navy 20 July 1934, doing "boot camp" in Norfolk, Virginia. He earned his "wings of gold" as a Naval Aviation Pilot in 1939. During the war NAP Higbee was Commissioned temporarily, reverting back to enlisted after the hostilities to CAP (Chief Aviation Pilot). Thus he became a Naval Aviator as an officer, reverting back to Naval aviation Pilot at the end of the war. He advanced or was promoted from "boot" through Lieutenant Commander during his 20 year career, retiring at Naval Air station Lakehurst, New Jersey 22 October 1954 as an Aviation Machinist's Mate Chief Petty Officer (AP) or ADC(AP)-AP being Aviation Pilot. 

The 11 year old girl (Halla Cusmundsdotir) was flown from Patreksfjord, Iceland to hospital in Reykjavik near death from measles complications. It was a life and death situation for Halla, she was accompanied by her father, who held her in his arms during the flight. In the 1980's Halla, a grandmother made contact with Joe thanking him for saving her life. Mercy flights weren't new for Higbee, he had previously provided emergency transportation for a woman who had suffered a heart attack. For placing himself, his crew and aircraft, at risk in quite foul weather and succeeding in saving the girl's life, Iceland awarded Joe Higbee the Icelandic Service Medal some 42 years later. During the hectic times of the war years, this feat was considered part of the job. One of his wartime achievements that most surely saved many lives and equipment was when he and his crew were patrolling a 58 ship convoy and its escorts. They sighted a submarine and attacked it. 

That action and the subsequent action of the convoy escorts kept the submarines at bay until the convoy was clear. As a Chief Aviation Pilot, Joe became one of the early helicopter pilots in the United State Navy, number 39 in December 1947. He retired from the Navy in October 1954. He worked for a number of years in the school systems in New Jersey. In 1970 he relocated to sturgis, Michigan. He is listed in the 1991 Silver Eagles roster as living in Portage, Michigan. Joe joined the Great Majority 1 April 1993 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He had been a resident of Bronson, Sturgis and Portage Michigan for the past 22 years.

I find it amazing history that your father, from Chumuckla was a crewman on that life saving flight . This added later --- " Purported to be 08095.  Back of a Silver Eagles issue.  Supplied by NAP Higbee I would think.  No bureau number visible.  I have looked considerable in an attempt to find a photo showing the bureau number.  This one however is the only one I know of ." (Quinn Elliott) 

It is possible our dad, J. Lee Campbell  (Aviation machinist 3rd or 2nd) is in this photo. He was "Plane Captain" ... that is ... he was in charge of making sure the plane was properly serviced and ready to fly and often flew with the crew. (Vic Campbell). Dad mentioned a logo on this plane indicated its status as a rescue craft for the squadron. It has an insignia on it of a polar bear in a liferaft holding a red cross kit. That MAY be the art on the side - below and a few feet back of the "star" markings. Too fuzzy to be sure of that though.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Author and Collector - Raymond Johns

Raymond Johns - Author
All I wanted was a boat.

But you know the story about a boat and what happens next. So I had to sell the boat or face the wrath of Karen Campbell.

Sold it to a man who is dragging logs out of the river but he needed a truck. I helped him find a truck which promptly broke six times in two months. So I found him another truck for trade by way of a man named Freeman Simpson.  Freeman has a buddy named Raymond Johns who is a budding author with few resources to reach his market.

A letter from President G.W. Bush
THIS means the boat purchase from the recommendation of the daughter of the man who told me about the glass tektite meteorite from Barnetts Crossroads in 1967 has led to this moment of helping Mr. Johns get his books into print or electronic media without any cost to himself.  My suggestion is to use (Amazon) or (independent).

These places on the web make book publishing easy and actually NO cost to the author until the books start to sell --- at which time a percentage goes to those companies.

A Beginner Reading Book
Some of his books are targeted toward children - including a coloring book and an early reader. Other books are geared toward philosophical or religious insight. I am going to try to set up a place for him using free - Some of these books should be electronic downloads anyway.

Among the Mr. John's hobbies is the practice of writing to Presidents of the United States or to other government leaders to offer them encouragement.  He has letters in return from George W. Bush and Barack Obama among other government leaders.  I have suggested he can create a book from his correspondence to and from those leaders and probably find an interested audience.

We are going to look into that. I may help him scan the material.  And I am going to show him how to set up a blog like this one -  or my ME3TV Blog where he can write to his heart's content and get the word out about his various projects.
Coloring Book with Nutrition

The man is multi-talented. Other hobbies include the making of metal sculptures from scrap material and he collects a wide variety of art - some of it originals - some of it that might find interested buyers on the internet.

So --- for want of a boat --- I am now involved in ONE MORE project.  I'll be back over at the Perdido River today to see how the RIVER LOGGER is doing.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

A Brief Seasonal Message

Merry Christmas to you all and Goodwill toward all Peoples.

Our Christmas Update for 2016 is HERE

Friday, January 01, 2016

The Off the Record Combat Vet

Army Records Request
UPDATE -- A combat veteran with PTSD and crippling injuries - slipped through the cracks. It has been SIX MONTHS since we sent his request for records to the US ARMY in St. Louis.  THERE HAS BEEN NO REPLY -- no contact.  Next step -- Congressman....

Danny Rowell's  story ... He remains lost to the system 46 years later.

Roy Allen (who is blind) has a disabled cousin living with him now. Danny is a big help even though he can hardly talk to be understood. Danny is a Vietnam Vet but he blew off the army after half his tour under fire in Vietnam an in '69 and went AWOL back home with his HOT young bride. His time in Vietnam was intense with combat and the loss of close friends.  His foot was rotted by jungle rot and he was hospitalized in Vietnam and then shipped to Hawaii for treatment.The foot was never corrected. He boarded a plane with is young wife and returned to Florida. He was contacted once by the army but his temper and youth got the better of him (read PTSD) and he went AWOL again after a brief time in an army brig.  He remains a cripple. He intended to come back but it kept sounding like worse and worse punishment so he delayed for years.  His life could have been much different if he had the care he deserved for both PTSD and the foot rot. Eventually the marriage failed - rather quickly.

So his discharge reads administrative (not honorable). This costs him VA help for PTSD - for illness - for injuries of foot rot and malaria plus more recent injuries like about 30 years ago ... two bullets in his head from a 9mm by his old girlfriend (after the divorce - different girl). An earlier story posted in my pages informs the reader that a 9mm held against the skull when fired may not blow off the top of  the victim's head --- and instead weaken the force of the bullet so it only lodges in the brain. I learn so many things hanging out with my blind friend, Roy Allen and his associates.  I could write a book.

Yes he should have gone back to the army - taken his punishment and gone back to die in Vietnam with a rotted foot. But he did not. It would have been hard to make that decision given the HOT young wife and being a teenager still ... and having just made some friends in Vietnam who died early - in front of his own eyes.

 An illegal immigrant now has more status in America than this combat veteran. SO I am trying to get some records out of archives to move him forward toward real VA help. Trust me - this will be an interesting case study to follow.  I am busy trying to find records to support a claim. He was in combat from January 2 to about August 15, 1969 with the 198th Light Infantry BN - a part of the Americal Division. So we are making paperwork applications for ALL his unit and personal records that apply.  We will see how that goes. (so far six months and no reply from the army)

Meanwhile, I have suggested if he would just apply for gender re-assignment - through the VA he will probably be accepted because the VA just set up a new clinic for just that procedure. Another option, I think -- is to apply for immigration to Vietnam where he may be readily accepted for veteran care in their own government program to care for veterans of the Vietnam  War. The initial responses from Danny regarding these options indicate they will be solutions of LAST resort.

Here is a LINK TO SOME 198th Light Infantry BN Web Sources
UPDATE: We have his request in to the ARMY archives for a complete  personnel record. We also had a connection to his old 1/52 Unit - with a combat log for the unit in 1969. Danny was in Co. B and was in a mortar platoon.  The indications are he was in heavy combat.  Roy tells us  that Danny's bad limp is largely a result of a deformed foot from "foot rot" which along with malaria is what got him hospital evacuated to an in country hospital and then shipped to Hawaii for more care. It was, of course, in Hawaii that his young wife came to visit and youthful anxieties overcame them and they returned to the USA without reporting through channels.  His life story began to sour badly at that point in time (well - it already sucked).  (see above).  It is now JUNE 2016, five/six months later and no response from the army.