Monday, June 30, 2008

King Edmund Falls to the Vikings

The bridge under which Edmund hid, but he was betrayed by a bride passing over the bridge. To this day, wedding parties avoid the bridge as a tradition.
Another view of the bridge.
Me at the spot where King Edmund was hung, Hoxne. A tree used to be here.
A nearby church commemorates the dastardly deed. King Edmund hides under the bridge. The bride hears him and betrays him.

While visiting in East Anglia, my friends Alan Johnson and James Mutton took me by Bury St. Edmunds and Hoxne, where we saw the bridge where King Edmund was captured and, nearby, the spot where he was killed. Here are some photos I took of this historic area, plus a history of the good king himself.

The 20th of November 869 AD, Saxon King Edmund martyred by the Vikings

Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
Little is known for sure of the life of the East Anglian king Edmund, but there are many legends associated with him, especially his death and subsequent miraculous events.One story has Saxon Edmund born in Nuremburg, but the most credible stories have him as descended from a line of English Saxon kings, his father being Aethelweard, who died in 854 when Edmund was still a boy of 14. Edmund was said to have been crowned by St Humbert on Christmas day 854, possibly in Bures St Mary in Suffolk.Edmund’s piety is well recorded, seen in his just treatment of his subjects, and in the story that he went into retreat at Hunstanton for a year, during which time he learned the Psalter by heart, a feat that in its day would have been considered a considerable display of learning.But it is Edmund’s death which is the most remarkable element of his life. The Danes in 869 marched south from York through Mercia (the Midlands) and into East Anglia, where they took Thetford and used it as a base. According to one version of the tale Edmund refused to fight them, giving himself up to his enemies in accordance with Christ’s turning the other cheek. In another he engages the Danes in a bloody battle.The stories of Edmund’s death on November 20 869 are various too. Some have him dying in battle. Others, the majority, have him captured by the brutal Ubbe Ragnarsson and Ivar the Boneless. Refusing to renounce his religion Edmund is said to have undergone horrific treatment, either used for target practice by Danish bowmen, or even more horribly made a ‘blood eagle’ sacrifice, his ribs separated from his spine and his lungs pulled from his living body. Yet still he refused to renounce Christ, and was decapitated by the Danes in exasperation. Edmund’s head was said to have been guarded by a wolf for weeks before his followers recovered it, a story that lead to his being the patron saint of wolves, although whether they knew this before they were wiped out in England is unclear.After his death Edmund quickly became accepted as a saint and a martyr. His body when seen years after his death was intact and without signs of decay, and even more miraculously was healed of its wounds, only a thin red line around his neck showing the brutality of his end. Miracles were attributed to him, including one where his spirit appeared to the last heathen Danish king in England, Sweyen, causing the latter to fall from his horse and die in convulsions.His shrine at Beadoriceworth became an important point of pilgrimage in early medieval England, the town changing its name to Bury St Edmunds (town of St Edmund). For a time St Edmund was England’s patron saint, until St George replaced him, and there is a campaign afoot today to reinstate the martyr king to that position.

More English Air Base Photos

Road to Bomb Dump, Horham. (Most of these photos will supersize if you double-click them. You'll get a lot more detail.)
95th Bomb Group Hospital, Horham.
Perimeter Taxiway, Horham.
34th BG Indian on Bomb, a piece of wall removed and displayed at the 95th Museum.
Singing farmer, on display at 390th Base.
'Tony' Anthony, (L) who was an RAF officer at Horham during the war, poses with his beautifully restored American staff car. My good friend Alan Johnson, whom I stayed with in Horham, is at right.
Inside a bomb shelter, Horham.
Hospital CO's office, 95th BG Base Hospital, Horham.
Old 100th buildings, Thorpe Abbotts.

100th Bomb Group hut.
390th Bomb Group Theater.
390th Bomb Group Tower.
100th Bomb Group Operations Office.
Bomb Shelter.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

To Bone and Back

...Bone, Idaho, that is. Population, about three or four. Today was the annual to Bone and Back Race sponsored by one of the hospitals here in town. For the seventh year, my wife's former boss, Dr. Tim Taylor fielded an eight-person team for the 40 mile relay race across the sagebrush and the hills to Bone. For more on the race, click here:

We had a lot of fun, everybody got sunburned to some extent, and nobody expired on the course. Here are some photos from the event.Dr. Tim "Toolman" Taylor reaches the top of the 6,500 foot hill outside of Ammon and Idaho Falls. This leg takes incredible stamina, with a vertical climb of several thousand feet in five miles.The team cheers on a team-mate on the course. L-R: Lindi, Megan T., Treasa Taylor, Geri Morris, Trent Walker, Tim Taylor, and Janet. Trent fearlessly takes a hill. Jennifer Walker makes good time on the course as a hot sun beats down.

Lindi Merritt, comes down the hill past the Ammon Cemetery on the last leg of the race.Strategy session. Our strategy--slow but sure. Lindi, Treasa, Tim, Janet, Geri
My wife Geri runs steadily along through the middle of nowhere near an old ranch.

Yours truly, feeling pain near the top of a steep incline.A team victorious, at least as far as it is concerned. L-R: Lindi Merritt, Megan Taylor, Tim Taylor, Janet , Geri Morris, Rob Morris. Missing are Trent and Jennifer Walker.

Our time was 7 hours, 19 minutes, 26 seconds.Energy past and present. An old farm truck and a wind turbine on the way to Bone.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

60 Years Ago--Berlin Airlift Kept Berlin Free

Sixty years ago tomorrow (June 22, 1948), allied transport aircraft began one of the most amazing aerial battles in history. The battle didn't involve bullets or bombs, but food and all the other necessities of a city of millions, West Berlin.

The blockade started on 22 June 1948, when the Soviets shut off ground access from the west to the occupation zones in Berlin. It triggered a vast airlift to supply the estimated 4,500 tons needed daily to maintain the West Berlin industry and population of 2 million. Two-thirds of the planes involved were American, one-third were British. The main American aircraft were C‐47 transport planes and four‐engined American C‐54s. The British used mainly Yorks and Hermes aircraft. The majority of the aircraft used in the Berlin Airlift were manned by World War II–qualified aircrews.

U.S. operations began former U.S. Eighth Air Force General Curtis LeMay. LeMay was succeeded by Major General William N. Tunner, who had commanded the American airlift over “the Hump” between India and China in World War II. To keep the planes and supplies moving, loading was cut to 1 hour 25 minutes, while unloading in Berlin took a mere 49 minutes.

Soviet fighters harassed the cargo planes, but did not shoot. Most hazardous was the weather; this was overcome by ground‐controlled approaches handled by radar operators who reduced landing gaps to three minutes rain or shine. With a round-trip distance of 274–565 miles, depending upon the base and corridor used, planes did not have to refuel in Berlin.

By September 1948, the American effort was handled by 319 C‐54 Skymasters—225 in service and the rest undergoing maintenance or repair. The British No. 46 Group operated a more mixed force, including Sunderland flying boats, from eight airfields and one water base.

By 12 May 1949, when the Soviets lifted the blockade, 1,783,000 tons had been flown with a loss of thirty‐one U.S. lives in twelve fatal accidents. Flights totaling 250,000 continued on into October to build up stocks for the coming winter. The airlift proved the West would maintain its position in Berlin even at the risk of war. The airlift was a public relations victory for the peaceful use of airpower, heightening the reputation of the U.S. Military Airlift Command and of Generals LeMay and Tunner.

These facts were condensed from an excellent article written by Charles D. Bright, Historical Dictionary of the U.S. Air Force, 1992
The Candy Bomber

My favorite story of the Berlin Airlift involves a Utah man named Gail Halversen, better-known as the 'Candy Bomber'. Other names given to him by German children were: Uncle Wiggly Wings, The Schokoladen Flieger, Uncle Wackelfluger
and Raisin Bomber. Here is his tale:

Between the years of 1948 and 1949 Berlin Airlift pilot Lt. Gail Halvorsen was so struck with the friendliness and excitement of the Berlin children that he wanted to do something special for them and to spread a little cheer to their beleaguered times in Berlin during the blockade. Lt. Halvorsen decided to start his own operation and named it "Operation Little Vittles".

He bought out nearly all the candy available where he was based and out of strips of cloth created miniature parachutes and attached the candy to them. At the beginning, Lt. Halvorson's buddies gave up their rations of candy and gum and also their handkerchiefs to help the cause. The American Confectioners Association asked Lt. Halvorsen how much candy and gum he could use. They sent tons of candy and gum to Westover AFB for processing. 22 schools in Chicopee Massachusetts converted an old fire station into a Little Vittles headquarters. They made parachutes, tied on candy or gum and sent the finished product to Lt. Halvorsen at Rhine Main AFB. When the supplies came on line at Rhine Main all of Lt. Halverson's squadron and others helped drop the candy and gum. They then air dropped the candy over the city of Berlin (including East Berlin until the Russians told them to stop ) to the eagerly waiting children. By January of 1949 Lt. Halvorsen had air dropped more than 250,000 parachutes loaded with candy on the city of Berlin bringing a little joy to the nearly 100,000 children of Berlin during the Russian blockade.

Col. Gail Halverson, "The Candy Bomber" from World War 2, drops candy for children from Noah Webster Academy on Friday, May 9, 2008. Halverson dropped similar tiny parachutes to the children of West-Berlin in 1948 during the Berlin Air Lift and now travels the world reenacting his original candy bombings. Adriana Tout learns how to tie candy to a handkerchief parachute from Retired Col. Gail Halvorsen March 22, 2008 during an open house at Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen, Puerto Rico. Colonel Halvorsen, also known as the Berlin Candy Bomber, flew C-54 Skymasters during the Berlin Airlift and parachuted candy to children from his airplane. Adriana, 8, is a Ramey School third grader. This was Colonel Halvorsen's first return to what was once Ramey Air Force Base since 1949, when he flew C-54 missions from Puerto Rico to South America. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Ben Gonzales)

Order the book by Col. Halvorsen. I have it and it's great reading.

How to Order
The book can be obtained from Gail S. Halvorsen,19 E Southfield Road, Spanish Fork Utah 84660 ( 1 many--mid December each year) and 1525 Dove Way, Amado, AZ 85645 (mid December--30 April) , for $20.00 The first edition, published in 1990, was sold out and it was just republished in September 1997 with a new chapter of 28 pages and photos. Indicate in your reply that you are responding to this page and a donation of one dollar will be made by the author, on the sale of each book, to each of the following organizations: Berlin Airlift Veterans Association, the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation and the Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah. This offer is limited to the first 1400 books.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Monday, June 23, 2008

On A Clear Day...

The Grand Tetons as seen from the hill above Ammon, Idaho yesterday morning.

You almost CAN see forever.

Yesterday Geri and I went up and ran our legs of a 40-mile relay that takes place next Saturday. The photo was taken from the top of the Bone Hill, just outside of Ammon, Idaho.

The mountains in the distance are the Grand Tetons. For perspective, they are nearly 90 miles away. That's a long way to see on any day.

Below are the same Tetons up close and from the Wyoming side.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Favorite Photos From Trip: Places and Objects

Favorite photos of places and objects. Double-click to super-size.390th Control Tower, Framlingham.
Church door, Horham. This Norman church was built in 1312.
Ancient House, Horham. Built in the 13th century. Town store on left. Stayed in this house with Alan Johnson while in Horham.
Old graves in Horham Churchyard.
View of Horham village from church steeple.
Edinburgh Castle.

Window, old 95th base hospital, Horham.
Garden, Scottish Borders.
Poppies on old 95th hardstand.
Scottish Borders from walls of Hume Castle.

Dingle Harbor, County Kerry, Ireland.

Old base theater, Framlingham.
Nature re-takes the main runway at Horham (modified).

Hume Castle, Scottish Borders
Scott's Lookout, Scottish Borders

Tree Tunnel, Scottish Borders (modified)