Saturday, February 28, 2009

Apollo+40: Getting Ready for Apollo 9!

Their Finest Hour's tribute to the Apollo Program on its 40th Anniversary resumes Monday, March 2nd with a chronicle of the flight of Apollo 9. Apollo 9 flew from March 3-13, 1969 and featured the critical first manned flight test of the Lunar Module.

Apollo 9 could be viewed as anticlimatic after Apollo 8's historic trip in December, 1968 to lunar orbit but the mission accomplished by Commander James McDivitt, Command Module Pilot Dave Scott, and Lunar Module Pilot Rusty Schweickart was no less important in America's journey to the Moon.

Apollo 9 was originally scheduled for launch on February 28, 1969 but was delayed until March 3rd to allow the crew to recover from "mild respiratory illness".

My tribute to Apollo 9 will draw upon the following sources:

Encyclopedia Astronautica
NASA Apollo Mission Reports
NASA Mission Transcripts for Apollo 9
And others...

NASA's tribute to Apollo 9 can be found at this link.

There are now just 142 days until we celebrate Man's first steps on the Moon.

All will be well...

...since President Obama will fix all of our current economic woes by shoving the problems to the future and has predicted the future by telling the world when the next terrorist offensive will begin (after all, he has told us when we're withdrawing, and the enemy heard that too), and now thanks to Mrs. Obama, American women are inspired to tone up their flabby arm muscles.

Oh! What would we do without them? There would be no hope in the world, that's for sure.

The cult of personality surrounding these two is disgusting.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Congratulations Marty, and Welcome Back!

New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur returned to the ice last night for his first game since November 1st due to injury and racked up his 99th career shutout!

The Devils bested the Colorado Avalanche at home, 4-0.

Way to go Marty!

TFH 2/27: Captain Albert Harold Rooks, USN and the crew of the USS Houston (CA-30)

The early days of 1942 in the Pacific were dark ones for the United States, marked by defeat and retreat. The Battle of the Java Sea and the Battle of Sunda Strait were two such actions that had disasterous results for our Nation and our allies, but even within such calamity the best of America was on display in the heavy cruiser USS Houston (CA-30) and her courageous commanding officer, Captain Albert Harold Rooks. From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II:


Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Navy. Born: 29 December 1891, Colton, Wash. Appointed from: Washington. Citation: for extraordinary heroism, outstanding courage, gallantry in action and distinguished service in the line of his profession, as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Houston during the period 4 to 27 February 1942, while in action with superior Japanese enemy aerial and surface forces. While proceeding to attack an enemy amphibious expedition, as a unit in a mixed force, Houston was heavily attacked by bombers; after evading 4 attacks, she was heavily hit in a fifth attack, lost 60 killed and had 1 turret wholly disabled. Capt. Rooks made his ship again seaworthy and sailed within 3 days to escort an important reinforcing convoy from Darwin to Koepang, Timor, Netherlands East Indies. While so engaged, another powerful air attack developed which by Houston's marked efficiency was fought off without much damage to the convoy. The commanding general of all forces in the area thereupon canceled the movement and Capt. Rooks escorted the convoy back to Darwin. Later, while in a considerable American-British-Dutch force engaged with an overwhelming force of Japanese surface ships, Houston with H.M.S. Exeter carried the brunt of the battle, and her fire alone heavily damaged 1 and possibly 2 heavy cruisers. Although heavily damaged in the actions, Capt. Rooks succeeded in disengaging his ship when the flag officer commanding broke off the action and got her safely away from the vicinity, whereas one-half of the cruisers were lost.

USS Houston was sunk by the Imperial Japanese Navy early on February 28, 1942 with the loss of 693 members of her 1,061 crew. The Austrailian light cruiser HMAS Perth was also sunk with great loss of life. Captain Rooks lost his life to enemy fire shortly before the Houston succumbed.

The ship's chaplain, Commander George S. Rentz, was awarded the Navy Cross for his own heroic actions that cost him his life and was the sole Navy chaplain so honored during the war. The Houston and her crew were honored with the Presidential Unit Citation - regarded as the unit equivalent of the Navy Cross.

Of the 368 survivors of the Houston, a further seventy-seven men perished under the custody of the Japanese as prisoners of war.

We are forever greatful for the courage of these brave Americans - Captain Rooks, Commander Rentz, and the crew of the USS Houston - and we will never forget their service and sacrifice.

This was their finest hour.

Why I am Pro-Life

This isn't the whole reason, but wonderful testimony from a 12-year old young woman in seventh grade:

This needs to be played again and again, and spread around as much as possible. It's simply brilliant.

Hat tip: Quinn and Rose

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

TFH 2/25: Staff Sergeant Peter S. Connor, USMC

Another tale of a gallant American fighting man who laid down his life for his comrades in arms. From Medal of Honor Citations from the Vietnam War:


Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps, Company F, 2d Battalion, 3d Marines, 1st Marine Division (Rein), FMF. Place and date: Quang Nag Province, Republic of Vietnam, 25 February 1966. Entered service at: South Orange, NJ. Born: 4 September 1932, Orange, N.J. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against enemy Viet Cong forces at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Leading his platoon on a search and destroy operation in an area made particularly hazardous by extensive cave and tunnel complexes, S/Sgt. Connor maneuvered his unit aggressively forward under intermittent enemy small-arms fire. Exhibiting particular alertness and keen observation, he spotted an enemy spider hole emplacement approximately 15 meters to his front. He pulled the pin from a fragmentation grenade intending to charge the hole boldly and drop the missile into its depths. Upon pulling the pin he realized that the firing mechanism was faulty, and that even as he held the safety device firmly in place, the fuse charge was already activated. With only precious seconds to decide, he further realized that he could not cover the distance to the small opening of the spider hole in sufficient time, and that to hurl the deadly bomb in any direction would result in death or injury to some of his comrades tactically deployed near him. Manifesting extraordinary gallantry and with utter disregard for his personal safety, he chose to hold the grenade against his body in order to absorb the terrific explosion and spare his comrades. His act of extreme valor and selflessness in the face of virtually certain death, although leaving him mortally wounded, spared many of his fellow marines from death or injury. His gallant action in giving his life in the cause of freedom reflects the highest credit upon the Marine Corps and the Armed Forces of the United States.

Staff Sergeant Connor first enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1952 and served in Korea during the Korean War. He was discharged from active duty and served in the USMC Reserves from 1955-1961. In May, 1961 he voluntarily returned to active duty.

We are forever grateful for his sacrifices and service to our Nation. February 25, 1966 was his finest hour!

The Future of Conservatism - Male

Here is Sarah Palin's male counterpart in the future of Conservatism and the Republican Party, Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, who I'm very proud to say was my vote for the Republican Nomination for President in last year's Pennsylvania primary election:

Video is taken from the Republican National Committee.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

TFH 2/24: Captain Hilliard A. Wilbanks, USAF

Airborne forward observers fly right over the battlefield to call in air support for ground forces. They're often in lightly armed, or as in this case unarmed aircraft, and have nothing but their flying skills to protect them. Here is the story of a gallant American aviator who gave his life in the defense of our great Nation. From Medal of Honor Citations for the Vietnam War:


Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Air Force, 21st. Tactical Air Support Squadron, Nha Trang AFB, RVN. Place and date: Near Dalat, Republic of Vietnam, 24 February 1967. Entered service at: Atlanta, Ga. Born: 26 July 1933, Cornelia, Ga. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. As a forward air controller Capt. Wilbanks was pilot of an unarmed, light aircraft flying visual reconnaissance ahead of a South Vietnam Army Ranger Battalion. His intensive search revealed a well-concealed and numerically superior hostile force poised to ambush the advancing rangers. The Viet Cong, realizing that Capt. Wilbanks' discovery had compromised their position and ability to launch a surprise attack, immediately fired on the small aircraft with all available firepower. The enemy then began advancing against the exposed forward elements of the ranger force which were pinned down by devastating fire. Capt. Wilbanks recognized that close support aircraft could not arrive in time to enable the rangers to withstand the advancing enemy, onslaught. With full knowledge of the limitations of his unarmed, unarmored, light reconnaissance aircraft, and the great danger imposed by the enemy's vast firepower, he unhesitatingly assumed a covering, close support role. Flying through a hail of withering fire at treetop level, Capt. Wilbanks passed directly over the advancing enemy and inflicted many casualties by firing his rifle out of the side window of his aircraft. Despite increasingly intense antiaircraft fire, Capt. Wilbanks continued to completely disregard his own safety and made repeated low passes over the enemy to divert their fire away from the rangers. His daring tactics successfully interrupted the enemy advance, allowing the rangers to withdraw to safety from their perilous position. During his final courageous attack to protect the withdrawing forces, Capt. Wilbanks was mortally wounded and his bullet-riddled aircraft crashed between the opposing forces. Capt. Wilbanks' magnificent action saved numerous friendly personnel from certain injury or death. His unparalleled concern for his fellow man and his extraordinary heroism were in the highest traditions of the military service, and have reflected great credit upon himself and the U.S. Air Force.

Hilliard Wilbanks flew 487 previous combat missions and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and 17 Air Medals for his intrepid service. Captain Wilbanks, thank you for your bravery and sacrifices. Our Nation will forever be in your debt. February 24, 1967 was your finest hour!

More on this great American can be found at Wikipedia.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

TFH 2/20-21: Captain Robert Hugo Dunlap, USMCR

Twenty-seven Medals of Honor were awarded to members of the United States Naval Services during the Battle of Iwo Jima; twenty-three Marines and four sailors received our Nation's highest decoration for courage. Here is the story of one of them, from Medal of Honor Citations from World War II.


Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Company C, 1st Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division. Place and date: On Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 20 and 21 February 1945. Entered service at: Illinois. Born: 19 October 1920, Abingdon, Ill. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of Company C, 1st Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the seizure of Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, on 20 and 21 February, 1945. Defying uninterrupted blasts of Japanese artillery. mortar, rifle and machinegun fire, Capt. Dunlap led his troops in a determined advance from low ground uphill toward the steep cliffs from which the enemy poured a devastating rain of shrapnel and bullets, steadily inching forward until the tremendous volume of enemy fire from the caves located high to his front temporarily halted his progress. Determined not to yield, he crawled alone approximately 200 yards forward of his front lines, took observation at the base of the cliff 50 yards from Japanese lines, located the enemy gun positions and returned to his own lines where he relayed the vital information to supporting artillery and naval gunfire units. Persistently disregarding his own personal safety, he then placed himself in an exposed vantage point to direct more accurately the supporting fire and, working without respite for 2 days and 2 nights under constant enemy fire, skillfully directed a smashing bombardment against the almost impregnable Japanese positions despite numerous obstacles and heavy marine casualties. A brilliant leader, Capt. Dunlap inspired his men to heroic efforts during this critical phase of the battle and by his cool decision, indomitable fighting spirit, and daring tactics in the face of fanatic opposition greatly accelerated the final decisive defeat of Japanese countermeasures in his sector and materially furthered the continued advance of his company. His great personal valor and gallant spirit of self-sacrifice throughout the bitter hostilities reflect the highest credit upon Capt. Dunlap and the U.S. Naval Service.

This great American hero fell to a Japanese bullet later in the Battle of Iwo Jima on February 26, 1945. He survived his wounds, but required months of hospitalization and recovery.

Robert H. Dunlap passed away on March 24, 2000 at age 79.

February 20-21, 1945 was his finest hour!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

TFH 2/18: Specialist Fourth Class Daniel Fernandez, USA

I resume with my tributes to heroes past, present, and future. From Medal of Honor Citations for the Vietnam War:


Rank and organization: Specialist Fourth Class, U.S. Army, Company C, 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry (Mechanized) 25th Infantry Division. Place and date: Cu Chi, Hau Nghia Province, Republic of Vietnam, 18 February 1966. Entered service at: Albuquerque, N. Mex. Born: 30 June 1944, Albuquerque, N. Mex. c.o. No.: 21, 26 April 1967. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp4c. Fernandez demonstrated indomitable courage when the patrol was ambushed by a Viet Cong rifle company and driven back by the intense enemy automatic weapons fire before it could evacuate an American soldier who had been wounded in the Viet Cong attack. Sp4c. Fernandez, a sergeant and 2 other volunteers immediately fought their way through devastating fire and exploding grenades to reach the fallen soldier. Upon reaching their fallen comrade the sergeant was struck in the knee by machine gun fire and immobilized. Sp4c. Fernandez took charge, rallied the left flank of his patrol and began to assist in the recovery of the wounded sergeant. While first aid was being administered to the wounded man, a sudden increase in the accuracy and intensity of enemy fire forced the volunteer group to take cover. As they did, an enemy grenade landed in the midst of the group, although some men did not see it. Realizing there was no time for the wounded sergeant or the other men to protect themselves from the grenade blast, Sp4c. Fernandez vaulted over the wounded sergeant and threw himself on the grenade as it exploded, saving the lives of his 4 comrades at the sacrifice of his life. Sp4c. Fernandez' profound concern for his fellow soldiers, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.

Daniel Fernandez was the first Mexican-American to be awarded the Medal of Honor in Vietnam. He is memorialized on Panel 05E, Row 046 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and is buried in Santa Fe National Cemetery.

Sp4c. Fernandez, I will forever be in awe and appreciation of your courage and sacrifice for our Nation and the cause of freedom. February 18, 1966 was your finest hour!

"Obama's Revenge"

A great column by Joan Swirsky of the Canada Free Press on our 44th President.

Hat tip: Quinn & Rose