Contributed by Charlton Stanley (aka Otteray Scribe), Guest Blogger
I remember where I was and what I was doing shortly after one o’clock in the afternoon on December 7, 1941. My dad called me in to where he and a couple of his friends were sitting by the huge Stromberg Carlson 350R console radio, its front doors swung open. They were leaning forward, hanging onto every word coming out of the polished walnut cabinet. The breathless announcer was talking so fast he sometimes stumbled over his words. The usual calm and soothing baritone of a professional radio news reporter was replaced by an almost panicked staccato, an octave higher than his voice would have sounded normally. One phrase has stayed stuck in my mind’s ear all these years, “They stabbed our boys in the back!”
At first I thought they were talking about Japanese soldiers bayoneting our soldiers and sailors in the back, as I had seen them do in the newsreels of the massacre of Nanking. Even as a kid, I knew war was on the horizon. Six weeks earlier, a Nazi U-boat had sunk the destroyer USS Reuben James as it escorted a convoy of cargo ships carrying food and supplies to England.
Everyone thought that when war did come, it would come from Europe. No one but a few farsighted tacticians like General Billy Mitchell were looking west, and even predicting that an attack would come by air. Mitchell was Court Martialed for his outspoken military and political heresy. When Americans were killed in what was to be the first military engagement of WW-2 with the sinking of the Reuben James, President Roosevelt held back committing troops and sailors to combat despite the provocation. Hitler was counting on that kind of restraint, or he would not have been so bold as to sink an American warship. He knew the US was not prepared to fight a war, since American troop levels had been drawn down to very low numbers, and much of the equipment was either obsolete or obsolescent. The country was recovering from the Great Depression, and needed time to re-arm.
Admiral Yamamoto took Roosevelt’s options away from him that Sunday morning. Hitler was said to be furious with his Japanese allies.
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways…Chardonnay in one hand…chocolate in the other…body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, screaming “WOO HOO, What a Ride!”
– author unknown, but often attributed to Hunter S. Thompson
Lately the news seems to be nothing but a non-stop stream of woe, outrage, tragedy and lawlessness. Instead of focusing on the latest outrage of the day, I decided to do a series of stories about people who inspire. This is the first installment of a series of stories about people who inspired me (and many others) in one way or another. I hope the reader will find them fascinating and inspiring as well. Not necessarily stories about celebrities, although some may be familiar names, but real people who led extraordinary lives.
Women do not get the recognition they deserve, and to compete in a male dominated world, have to be twice as good at everything. Barbara Jordan once said, “Life is too large to hang out a sign: For Men Only.” I am an admirer of women who are smart, strong, competent and accomplished. I was married to a woman like that for 55 years, but lost her two years ago.
This story is about one of those women. Sabrina “Sib” Jackintell died last year at the age of 71, just two weeks before her 72nd birthday.
Submitted by Charlton Stanley (aka Otteray Scribe), guest blogger
The news has been so dreary and downbeat lately, I thought I would post something lighter to make people smile for a moment.
Everything about the Antonov An-225 is big. The name Mriya (Мрія), means “Dream.” The NATO identification code for it is “Cossack.” NATO codes names are given according to role. For instance, cargo aircraft will be identified with a word beginning with “C.” Fighters are “F” such as “Flanker.” Bombers with a “B” (Bear), helicopters an “H” and so forth. The An-225 was not originally designed as a military aircraft, but as a carrier for the Soviet spaceplane, the “Buran.”
Oleg Antonov always thought in terms of big. His airplanes are big, sturdy and utilitarian. Their legendary An-2 Colt is the biggest single engine airplane, and looks as if it could be repaired by a tractor mechanic….using tractor parts.
When the Soviet Union broke up, the Antonov manufacturing operation became the Antonov State Company, and is located near Kiev, Ukraine. The breakup allowed companies such as Antonov to pursue commercial interests worldwide. That was good for aviation and good for customers who need to move large improbable object to the other side of the world, and do it fast.
The story of Antonov’s airplanes is long and marked by some great airplanes. Make that “great big airplanes.” The An-225 is based on the An-124 design, which is a big airplane to start with.
Follow me over the flip and get a peek at the world’s largest airplane.