Today is September 22nd. Happy birthday to Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, cousins who are hobbits of the Shire in John Ronald Reuel Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
Tolkien is famous for his works of high fantasy. He was born in South Africa, but grew up in England.
As a youth, he and several cousins invented several “new” languages and alphabets.
At the age of 16, he fell in love with childhood sweetheart Edith Mary Bratt, three years his senior. He proposed to Mary, but was forbidden from marrying or communicating with Mary until his 21st birthday by his guardian, Father Morgan. On the evening of his 21st birthday, he wrote Mary a letter, again proposing. She revealed she had become engaged to someone else, but his letter persuaded her to soon break off her engagement and accept his proposal. They married in 1916 and remained married 55 years. Their union produced four children, one of whom, Mary Ann Reuel who was born in 1929, is still living.
J. R. R. Tolkien is responsible for convincing his wife Edith to convert from Protestantism to Roman Catholicism, a move which enraged her guardian and resulted in her being asked to leave the home of guardian and family friend C. H. Jessop where she was living at the time.
Tolkien’s Catholicism is credited with converting the famous writer C. S. Lewis from atheism to Christianity. Tolkien was upset, however, that Lewis chose to join the Church of England and become a Protestant instead of a Roman Catholic. Without Tolkien, it is quite possible we would have been denied the great Christian lay theologian writer Lewis’ Screwtape Letters and other great classics.
J. R. R. Tolkien died September 2, 1973 at 81 years, two years after his beloved wife, Edith.
But today is the birthday of Bilbo and Frodo, according to Tolkien. My older son, Scott, says that he always takes this day to begin re-reading the Tolkien classic, The Lord of the Rings. And that seems like that’s a good way to celebrate this birthday.
A 31-year veteran of the Houston Police Department was shot and killed and an accompanying Police Sergeant was critically injured as they executed two felony narcotics warrants Monday morning, September 20, 2021.
Houston Police Department Sergeant Michael Vance and Senior Officer Jeffrey were both transported to Memorial Hermann Hospital, where Officer Jeffrey was pronounced dead. Sergeant Vance remains hospitalized in stable condition and is expected to survive his injuries.
According to Houston Public Media: “The officers, members of the department’s major offenders division, were executing a high-level felony warrant around 7:30 a.m. at an apartment complex on Aeropark Drive near Bush Intercontinental Airport, Chief of Police Troy Finner said.
“The 30-year-old man’s wife or girlfriend opened the door, and as the officers spoke with her, he opened fire, Chief Finner said.
“You got a suspect, with a female girlfriend with small kids in that apartment complex and he still fired upon our officers,” he said.
“The officers returned fire, struck the man and killed him, Finner said.
“Chief Finner said he has known Officer Jeffrey for his entire career and considered him one of the department’s best officers. He said Officer Jeffrey’s wife, who was also a police officer, had just retired.”
Senior Police Officer Jeffrey is the fifth police officer killed in the line of duty in Houston in the past 16 months. Those four Houston Police Department officers are: Sergeant Sean Rios, Sergeant Harold Preston, Officer Jason Knox and Sergeant Christopher Brewster.
The dead suspect was identified as Deon Ledet, who had a a rap sheet with seven prior felony convictions, including two aggravated assaults with a deadly weapon and three evading arrest. In November 2020, he faced felony charges for possession with intent to deliver and one for possession and bond is set at more than $60,000.
Then, Ledet goes to court where the judge lowered the bond to $20,000. The next day he walked out of jail. In January, 2021, Ledet failed to show up for court and two felony Failure to Appear arrest warrants were issued for him. Sergeant Vance and Officer Jeffrey were serving those warrants Monday morning when Ledet opened fire, killing Officer Jeffrey and seriously injuring Sergeant Vance.
The Houston Police Union has called for the resignation of the judge who lowered Ledet’s bond from $60,000 to $20,000.
Senior Police Officer Bill Jeffrey’s daughter, Lacie, said she was heartbroken that her daughter will now grow up not knowing “Grandpa Bill.”
We have spent this weekend, remembering the thousands of Americans killed 20 years ago on September 11, 2001. That is as it should be. We should ALWAYS remember this date, every year on its anniversary, and honor those men and women who will grow no older.
But there is also a SECOND anniversary of that same date. It befell exactly 11 years later on September 11, 2012, when our American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was mercilessly attacked and four young men were horrendously killed.
As we remember 9/11 and all the people we lost that day: September 11, 2001, let us also remember those four men we lost exactly 11 years later on that same date: September 11, 2012.
In the attack on Benghazi, Libya, US Ambassador Christopher Stevens, US Information Officer Sean Smith, and CIA Contractors and Retired US Navy SEALS: Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty, were all slaughtered and their dead bodies drug through the streets in humiliation.
And all the while, our feckless Government stood by and refused to give the order for SEALS to rescue these four men as the American Consulate was attacked and burned.
I was taught that when an American Consulate is attacked, that is a Declaration of War against the USA and that attack is responded to, in kind. Not so, on September 11, 2012.
I spent my day today smoking a bone-in pork shoulder butt (no, it is not really the butt; that is just what that part of the shoulder is called.) Some would say I should have smoked banana peels or mushrooms, but I prefer the pork shoulder.
I started this morning at 3:00 a.m. (since I was up anyway) by removing the crypak-wrapped pork shoulder from the refrigerator to let it set for six hours to warm up to room temperature.
I loaded my Pit Boss 820D Pellet Grill hopper with Pit Boss All Natural Hardwood Fruit Blend (Cherry, Apple, and Maple) and then started it to warm up at 8:30 a.m. while I prepared the 7.5-pound shoulder meat for smoking. First, I removed it from the crypak, then I trimmed a small amount of fat from the top corner. Next, I slathered a generous rubbing of yellow mustard as a binding agent, completely covering the entire shoulder on all sides. I then rubbed a full covering of powdered dry meat rub from a local meat market here in Paris, Texas, completely covering the entire shoulder.
At 9:00 a.m. I placed the pork shoulder, fully covered in the dry rub, with the fat side toward my heat source (on my Pit Boss grill, that is down, since the fire pot is in the middle of the bottom of the grill.). I spritzed a half and half mixture of apple juice and apple cider vinegar all over the meat. I rested it on an upside down small baking pan to raise the meat up even with the smoke exit to the chimney. That way, the meat was right in the path of the smoke as it made its exit up the chimney. I placed a small tin foil pan of water on the grill beside the meat to increase the smoke. I set the heat temperature knob on 250 degrees and the grill had warmed up to 250 by the time I placed the meat on the grill. Normally I would increase the “P” setting on the grill to 5 for the best smoke, but I neglected to do this until the meat was well into the cook, so I left it set at 4. I continued to spritz the meat with the apple juice and apple cider vinegar mixture generously every hour, once an hour, throughout the smoke.
I continued to check the meat temperature with a meat thermometer every hour when I opened the grill briefly to spritz the meat.
The meat took a little longer than normal to reach the target temperature. I believe this was due to not allowing it to rest outside the refrigerator and fully reach room temperature early this morning. This slight residual chilling of the meat probably slowed the cooking. Next time, I will remove the meat from the refrigerator earlier so it can fully reach room temperature. At about 6 hours and 45 minutes (3:45 p.m.) into the cook, it reached my target temperature of 175 degrees. I removed the meat from the grill and placed it in a tin foil pan with the meat wrapped up completely in tin foil. I raised the temperature on the grill to 300 degrees and replaced the wrapped pork shoulder on the upside-down baking pan. I topped off the small water pan beside the baking pan to increase the smoke.
A little more than two hours later at around 6:05 p.m. (nine hours into the cook), the meat reached my target temperature of 197 to 205 degrees while wrapped. I removed it from the grill and relocated it inside in the kitchen. I checked the bark and smoke ring, then re-wrapped it to set for about 30 minutes to allow the meat to reabsorb juices.
I then broke the meat apart and separated it into the “pulled pork” I originally set out to prepare today. A little Sweet Baby Ray’s Hickory and Brown Sugar BBQ sauce on the pulled pork sandwiches made a delicious evening meal.
Today would have been Buddy Holly’s 85th birthday. He was born September 7, 1936, and was killed in a plane crash on Tuesday, February 3, 1959.
Buddy Holly was born Charles Hardin Holley in Lubbock, Texas. He was born into a musical family where his mom, two older brothers, and older sister all either played instruments or sang. It was his older brother, Travis Holley, who taught Buddy to play the guitar.
Last Name Misspelled
Buddy’s last name, Holley, was misspelled as “Holly” by a Decca Records employee on a recording contract and he continued to record and tour under that misspelling: Buddy Holly. Buddy performed for the first time on TV in 1952 at 15. He performed locally and in school talent shows until 1955 when he and a friend opened for a young rock and roller, Elvis Presley, who was touring one-nighters by driving across Texas and Louisiana. Elvis so impressed young Buddy that he decided right then that he wanted to be a rock and roll musician. He opened twice more for Elvis and later for Bill Haley and the Comets in rock and roll shows produced by a local disc jockey.
Buddy died after a concert on the Winter Dance Party tour. He, J.P. (The Big Bopper) Richardson, and 17-year old Ritchie Valens (La Bamba) took a private plane Buddy had rented after the performance in Clear Lake, IA. They were on their way to the next night’s performance at Moorhead, MN. All three musicians and the pilot, Roger Petersen, were killed when the plane crashed (probably from iced wings) in a cornfield just five miles after take-off. When Buddy and the others died, a 15-year old Bobby Vee quickly formed a musical group, “The Shadows,” and performed at the concert that next night in Moorhead, MN. Bobby Vee went on to very successful rock and roll solo career of his own after that night.
Just 22 Years Old
Buddy Holly, one of the most prolific rock and roll stars, was just 22 years old when he died that snowy night in Iowa.
Happy 85th birthday, Buddy Holly.
Here is one of Buddy’s biggest hits: “Raining In My Heart:”
“America’s Weatherman,” Willard Scott, died Saturday, September 4, 2021, of natural causes. He was 87 years old. Throughout his career, he was known as more than a TV weather presenter; he was an extraordinary entertainer.
Willard was born March 7, 1934, in Alexandria, VA. He was graduated from George Washington High School. He worked as an NBC page in 1950 and attended American University where he met his lifelong friend and fellow student, Ed Walker. They worked together at WAMU-AM radio. Willard graduated from American University and earned a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and religion.
Willard Scott began his entertainment career in Washington, DC, in 1955 as a member of the “Joy Boys Radio Show on radio station WRC. He and his partner, Ed Walker who was blind and took notes for the show in Braille, broadcast their show of comedy bits there until 1972 when they moved across town to WWDC radio. The Joy Boys radio program was briefly interrupted for two years from 1956 to 1958 when Willard served in the US Navy. Ed Walker, the lifelong friend of Willard Scott’s, died in October, 2015. Willard claimed he and Ed were, “closer than most brothers.”
In the 1960s, Willard appeared as Bozo the Clown on sister station WRC-TV. In 1970, he began broadcasting the weather there. His special brand of humor while presenting the weather was to serve him as a lifelong career there and later on NBC’s “The Today Show.” In 1971, Willard briefly starred on TV commercials as the first Ronald McDonald. He left there due to other commitments at the time.
Willard began broadcasting the weather on “The Today Show” in 1980. In 1983, he began his long-time habit of wishing centenarians a happy 100th birthday. Later, that segment was sponsored by Smuckers jellies and he became their spokesman.
I had the great pleasure to meet Willard Scott in 1985 while I was stationed in Italy. “The Today Show” crew traveled to Rome, Italy, to broadcast their morning show live. I was the Station Manager at the time at Southern European Broadcasting (SEB) Service in Naples, Italy. “The Today Show” producers contacted us to ask for our help in getting a tape of the show as soon as possible after broadcast. The show, hosted by Bryant Gumbel and Jane Pauley, originated live from the Spanish Steps in Rome, while Willard did his weather segment from a crowded little Italian Pizzaria down the street. I negotiated an interview with Jane Pauley with our Director of TV, Navy Journalist Sue Christy, after they were off the air and a spot on one of Willard’s live weather segments with one of the teenagers from Naples whose mom had made Willard a hand-made pizza bib. The teen presented the bib to him live on the air. The Armed Forces Radio and Television Service in Washington agreed to allow us to provide a full tape of the show to the Executive Producers who needed it. We recorded the show live in the Naples AFRTS station and then immediately drove it up to Rome for the EPs. Willard Scott was an amazing, personable, friendly segment host. He made the young teenaged girl who gave him the bib feel that she brought him the most important gift he had ever received in his life. He was just that giving and personable to those who came in contact with him.
Willard was succeeded as “The Today Show” weatherman by Al Roker in 1996. He cut his appearances back to two days a week, which he broadcast from a television station in Florida where he continued his birthday wishes.
Willard fully retired from broadcasting on December 15, 2015. He was honored by NBC and several of his previous co-workers there, along with Barbara Bush. The plaza in front of the studio was renamed Willard Scott Way.
Willard was married to Mary Dwyer Scott from 1959 until her death in 2002. The couple had two daughters, Mary and Sally. On April 1, 2014, at age 80, Scott married Paris Keena. They first met in 1977 while she was working at WRC-TV. They became a couple in 2003. Willard and Paris lived on Sanibel Island, FL, until his death on Saturday.
On this day in 1967, a Navy chaplain makes the ultimate sacrifice as he ministers to his Marines during the Vietnam War. Father Vincent Capodanno would receive a Medal of Honor for his selfless actions on this day so long ago.
Father Capodanno has since been declared a “Servant of God” by the Catholic Church, and he is now being considered for sainthood.
Capodanno was no ordinary military chaplain! In fact, he was affectionately dubbed “The Grunt Padre” by his men because of his insistence upon sharing their burdens and duties—however dangerous they might be.
“He was not a religious leader who did his job and then returned to the comfort of his own circle,” Capodanno’s biographer writes. “He lived as a Grunt Marine. Wherever they went, he went. Whatever burdens they had to carry, he shared the load. No problem was too large or too small to take to Father Vincent—he was available to them day and night.”
That approach would cost Capodanno his life during Operation Swift, a Vietnam War operation during the fall of 1967. On September 4, a portion of Capodanno’s battalion was ambushed. The conflict turned into an all-out battle.
As a chaplain, Capodanno could easily have remained at the company command post. All things considered, it was a much safer place to be! But it also went against the grain for Capodanno to stay in a place of relative safety when his men were suffering. He wanted to be with them.
He “ran through an open area raked with fire, directly to the beleaguered platoon,” his Medal citation reports. “Disregarding the intense enemy small-arms, automatic-weapons, and mortar fire, he moved about the battlefield administering last rites to the dying and giving medical aid to the wounded.”
During the course of his ministrations, Capodanno was seriously wounded in his arms and legs. His right hand was partially severed. And yet he continued on.
Capodanno was at the side of Sergeant Lawrence Peters when Peters passed away. The Sergeant had acted so heroically during the battle that he would receive his own Medal of Honor!
Peters did not have to die alone because of Capodanno.
Another Marine, Corporal Ray Harton, was wounded that day. Father Capodanno found him as he lay bleeding there on the battlefield. “As I closed my eyes, someone touched me,” Harton later reported. “When I opened my eyes, he looked directly at me. It was Father Capodanno. Everything got still: no noise, no firing, no screaming. A peace came over me that is unexplainable to this day. In a quiet, calm voice, he cupped the back of my head and said, ‘Stay quiet Marine. You will be okay. Someone will be here to help you soon. God is with us all this day.’”
The end came when Capodanno noticed a corpsman struggling with a wound to his leg. An enemy machine gun was still trained on the young man. “Fr. C. ran out to him and positioned himself between the injured boy and the automatic weapon,” Lieutenant Joseph E. Pilon later related. “Suddenly, the weapon opened up again and this time riddled Fr. C. from the back of his head to the base of his spine—and with his third Purple Heart of the day—Fr. C. went Home.”
When Father Capodanno’s body was recovered, it had 27 bullet wounds in it.
On this Labor Day weekend, perhaps it is appropriate to remember a man who labored so diligently for his God, his family of Marines, and his country.
The War in the Pacific in World War II officially ended 76 years ago today on September 2, 1945. Fittingly, because this terrible War began on a Sunday on December 7, 1941, it also ended on a Sunday. The History Channel describes the end this way:
“Aboard the USS MISSOURI (BB 63) in Tokyo Bay, Japan formally surrenders to the Allies, bringing an end to World War II.
“By the summer of 1945, the defeat of Japan was a foregone conclusion. The Japanese navy and air force were destroyed. The Allied naval blockade of Japan and intensive bombing of Japanese cities had left the country and its economy devastated. At the end of June, the Americans captured Okinawa, a Japanese island from which the Allies could launch an invasion of the main Japanese home islands. U.S. General Douglas MacArthur was put in charge of the invasion, which was code-named “Operation Olympic” and set for November 1945.
“The invasion of Japan promised to be the bloodiest seaborne attack of all time, conceivably 10 times as costly as the Normandy invasion in terms of Allied casualties. On July 16, a new option became available when the United States secretly detonated the world’s first atomic bomb in the New Mexico desert. Ten days later, the Allies issued the Potsdam Declaration, demanding the “unconditional surrender of all the Japanese armed forces.” Failure to comply would mean “the inevitable and complete destruction of the Japanese armed forces and just as inevitable the utter devastation of the Japanese homeland.” On July 28, Japanese Prime Minister Kantaro Suzuki responded by telling the press that his government was “paying no attention” to the Allied ultimatum. U.S. President Harry S. Truman ordered the devastation to proceed, and on August 6, the U.S. B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing an estimated 80,000 people and fatally wounding thousands more.
“After the Hiroshima attack, a faction of Japan’s supreme war council favored acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration, but the majority resisted unconditional surrender. On August 8, Japan’s desperate situation took another turn for the worse when the USSR declared war against Japan. The next day, Soviet forces attacked in Manchuria, rapidly overwhelming Japanese positions there, and a second U.S. atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese coastal city of Nagasaki.
“Just before midnight on August 9, Japanese Emperor Hirohito convened the supreme war council. After a long, emotional debate, he backed a proposal by Prime Minister Suzuki in which Japan would accept the Potsdam Declaration “with the understanding that said Declaration does not compromise any demand that prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as the sovereign ruler.” The council obeyed Hirohito’s acceptance of peace, and on August 10 the message was relayed to the United States.
“On Sunday, September 2, more than 250 Allied warships lay at anchor in Tokyo Bay. The flags of the United States, Britain, the Soviet Union, and China fluttered above the deck of the MISSOURI. Just after 9 a.m. Tokyo time, Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signed on behalf of the Japanese government. General Yoshijiro Umezu then signed for the Japanese armed forces, and his aides wept as he made his signature.
“Supreme Commander MacArthur next signed, declaring, “It is my earnest hope and indeed the hope of all mankind that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past.” Nine more signatures were made, by the United States, China, Britain, the USSR, Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands and New Zealand, respectively. Admiral Chester W. Nimitz signed for the United States. As the 20-minute ceremony ended, the sun burst through low-hanging clouds. The most devastating war in human history was over.” — The History Channel
Thirteen military service members were killed in a suicide bomb blast at the Abbey Gate of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday August 27, 2021. They were processing evacuees from the war-torn country to be airlifted out on US military aircraft when they were killed.
The 13 service members are:
US Navy Hospital Corpsman Maxton Soviak
US Army Staff Sergeant Ryan Knauss
US Marine Corps Corporal Daegan William-Tyeler Page
US Marine Corps Corporal Hunter Lopez
US Marine Corps Corporal Humberto Sanchez
US Marine Corps Lance Corporal David Lee Espinoza
US Marine Corps Lance Corporal Dylan Merola
US Marine Corps Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz
US Marine Corps Lance Corporal Kareem Mae’Lee Grant Nikoui
US Marine Corps Lance Corporal Rylee McCollum
US Marine Corps Sergeant Johanny Rosario Pichardo
US Marine Corps Sergeant Nicole Gee
US Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Darin Taylor Hoover, Jr.
The 13 killed ranged in age from 20 to 31. Five were only 20 years old. One of those, US Marine Corps Lance Corporal Rylee McCollum, was to become a father less than a month from now. The bodies of these American heroes were transferred to Dover Air Force Base on August 30, 2021.
During the past 20 years the US has fought in Afghanistan, 2,461 service members have died in the service of their country. These 13 were the last to die in this conflict.
The Kabul Airport and the nation of Afghanistan was completely evacuated of all US military warriors on Monday, August 30, 2021. Hundreds of American citizens and Afghan allies were left behind when the American forces withdrew from the country.
Today is the 80th birthday of a rock and roll pioneer, singer, and composer: Paul Anka. In addition to his more well-known songs, he also composed the theme for Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” and Frank Sinatra (and many others) hit “My Way.”
Here is the information posted today on one of my rock music Groups on FaceBook, “Rock the Oldies with me Lisa Marie:”
One of the biggest classic pop performers, Canadian singer-songwriter Paul Anka moved from teen heartthrob to adult artist with a slew of hits.
Born in Canada in 1941, teen singer Paul Anka’s hit “Diana” sold millions of copies and set him up as a top teen idol with prolific songwriting abilities. He then appeared in several films, headlined a Vegas act, hosted TV variety shows and wrote hits for the likes of Frank Sinatra and Tom Jones. He rose to the top of the charts again with the 1974 duet “You’re Having My Baby.”
Famed singer-songwriter Paul Anka was born on July 30, 1941, in Ottawa, Canada. Anka was the eldest of three children born to his Lebanese-Canadian parents, Andy and Camelia Anka. Anka spent his childhood helping out in the kitchen and schmoozing with patrons of his father’s restaurant, the Locanda, a popular hangout for Ottawa journalists, politicians and businessmen. From an early age, it was clear that Anka had an abundance of confidence and big dreams of life on stage. “I was pretty precocious, a pretty aggressive kid,” Anka said. “I think my parents knew they had an unusual child.
“Shortly after his 15th birthday, Anka bought himself a ticket to Los Angeles, staying with an uncle there while he tried to make his name as a singer. At the year’s end, he convinced his father to let him go to New York City in search of his big break. His father agreed, on one condition: If Paul couldn’t make it big in the Big Apple, he would have to come back home to Ottawa.
Anka hit the Manhattan pavement running. Soon after his arrival, he landed a meeting with Don Costa, an executive at ABC/Paramount Records, who agreed to listen to a few minutes of Anka’s music. After hearing the teenager play some of his songs on the piano, Costa called in his colleagues. Within days, Anka’s father was in New York signing a contract on behalf of his son, who was still a minor and thus couldn’t sign on his own.