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.
Two Navy ship disasters in two days: Yesterday was the USS FORRESTAL and today is the USS INDIANAPOLIS. I knew this one was coming; it’s been on my calendar all year.
Several years ago, my landlord was an INDIANAPOLIS survivor. During World War II, Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Charles McKissick served in INDIANAPOLIS and survived the sinking. We used to sit and talk in McKinney, TX, about our times in the Navy and he would talk about the days and nights he spent in the water after the sinking before being rescued. Every year, Charles would travel to Indianapolis, IN, each July for the ship’s reunion. When he returned, he would tell me that many of his shipmates were missing that year. The numbers continued to dwindle down at each reunion. This was in the early 1990s. LTJG Charles McKissick is also gone now. Rest In Peace, Sir. You and your Shipmates earned your reward. “Rest your oars, Sir. We have the Watch, now.” God bless these brave men and God bless America.
Here is Guest Author and Historian Tara Ross’ essay today on the sinking of the USS INDIANAPOLIS (CA 35) on July 30, 1945:
On this day in 1945, USS Indianapolis is sunk by Japanese torpedoes. The survivors would float in the ocean for days before they were found.
There was just one silver lining to the tragedy. Indianapolis had already performed the most important part of its mission: It had successfully carried parts for the Little Boy atomic bomb across the Pacific. American bombers would soon carry Little Boy toward Hiroshima. In combination with the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Little Boy would ultimately force an end to World War II.
If only crew members had known what they were carrying! But they didn’t. Instead, Indianapolis completed its delivery of the bomb components on July 26. The ship’s captain, Captain Charles McVay, then continued on to Guam. He was ordered to continue on to the Leyte Gulf.
Unfortunately, the seeds for tragedy were already being sown.
A transmission containing Indianapolis’s expected route was sent ahead to the Leyte Gulf. Unfortunately, a radio staff member there decoded part of the message incorrectly. As a result, the senior officer to whom McVay was to report had no idea that Indianapolis was coming.
Thus, he would not miss her when she failed to arrive on time a few days later. But that wasn’t the only problem. McVay had requested an escort to the Philippines, but he would not get one. Indianapolis had no sonar capabilities, limiting McVay’s ability to detect Japanese submarines on its own. When McVay heard that he wouldn’t have an escort, he took the news calmly. He’d traveled alone before, and the intelligence report for his voyage indicated that the trip should be routine.
It turns out that two critical pieces of information were missing from that intelligence report. Japanese submarines were known to be operating along his planned path.
Thus, no one was really worried—even if they should have been. It was assumed that Indianapolis could travel safely through these backwaters from Guam to the Leyte Gulf. The ship and its crew left Guam, alone, on July 28.
The voyage was uneventful at first, but the evening of July 29 brought difficulties. Visibility became limited. Indianapolis had been zigzagging through the water, theoretically making it more difficult for a submarine to attack her. But as visibility worsened, Captain McVay ordered a stop to the zigzagging. He had been given discretion to make such a decision, although he was later criticized for making that call.
A little before midnight, a Japanese submarine spotted Indianapolis. Six torpedoes were fired at her just after midnight. Two of these torpedoes found their mark and tore their way through the American ship.
One sailor later described the impact: “Whoom. Up in the air I went. There was water, debris, fire, everything just coming up and we were 81ft (25m) from the water line. It was a tremendous explosion. Then, about the time I got to my knees, another one hit. Whoom.”
One torpedo blew away the bow of the ship. A second torpedo hit near the fuel compartment. The ship exploded—it sank in only 12 minutes! At least one distress signal was sent as the ship went down, but the signal was ignored. Possibly Americans thought that the distress signal was a Japanese ruse to lure rescue ships out to sea.
Of the nearly 1,200 men on board, about 900 men survived the initial explosion and went overboard into the water. They would not be rescued for days.
On this day in 1967, fire broke out aboard USS FORRESTAL (CV 59). My hometown lost one of its own that day. Seaman Ray Chatelaine was killed in that fire.
That is one of the epic disasters in Navy history. Because of that fire, however, training was increased for Sailors, ashore and afloat, that such a tragedy might never happen again. This fire prompted the Navy to revise its firefighting and weapons-handling procedures. There were many heroes that day, but one who stands out was Chief Gerald W. Farrier, the commander of Damage Control Team 8, who was among the first to die in the fire and explosions. The Farrier Fire Fighting School Learning Site in Norfolk, Virginia, was named after this hero.
There are those who will claim that one of the pilots was hot shotting around and accidentally set the fire with his antics and shenanigans. That was never proven and the main thing we must remember are these heroes. They are no less heroes than those who lost their lives in combat in any war. God bless the Sailors and Shipmates of USS FORRESTAL (CV 59) and God bless America.
Historian and author Tara Ross continues with the full story below:
On this day in 1967, a rocket accidentally discharges aboard the flight deck of USS Forrestal. It smashes into a fighter jet piloted by then-Lt. Commander John McCain. Within minutes, the aft end of the aircraft carrier is ablaze.
The incident would result in the worst loss of life aboard a U.S. Navy vessel since World War II.
Forrestal was then the premier ship of its kind. She’d been dispatched to Vietnam, arriving off its coast on July 25. Things went awry just a few days later when she received a problematic shipment of ammunition. It was old and had been poorly maintained, but the Navy was short on ordnance. Old, Korean War-era bombs were now back in circulation.
The ordnance crew was upset, but resigned. Attack waves were already planned. The ordnance would be gone soon.
Except then tragedy struck. At 10:51 on July 29, a pilot in an F-4 Phantom jet was preparing for that day’s second attack wave. As he switched from external power to internal power, he felt a jolt. An unexpected electrical surge had fired one of his Zuni rockets. It tore off the Phantom, zipping across the flight deck and tearing into an A-4 Skyhawk. The pilot of that plane was none other than future Senator (then-LCdr.) John McCain.
The rocket ripped open the Skyhawk’s fuel tank.
Spilled fuel, jet exhaust, and burning rocket propellant did their work: Fuel and planes were soon ablaze. Some pilots were trapped. Others were helped out by their crews. A few, including McCain, pushed their way out of cockpits and jumped. Fuel continued to pour out of planes, worsening an already bad situation.
Firefighting efforts began quickly, which turned out to be unfortunate. The old bombs couldn’t take the heat, as newer bombs can. A mere 1 minute, 34 seconds into the fire, one of them exploded. A fireball shot into the sky, rocking the entire carrier. Most of Forrestal’s specially trained flight-deck firefighters were killed instantly.
Fighting the fire was useless. Bomb after bomb kept exploding as the fuel and fire spread. There was nothing to do but to run for cover. Finally, after five minutes, there was a break. By then, the fire was raging out of control. Holes had been blasted into the flight deck. The scene was so bad and so bloody that some sailors thought Forrestal was under attack.
What else could wreak such havoc?
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz once noted that “uncommon valor was a common virtue” during a World War II battle. The same could be said of the sailors aboard Forrestal that day. Deprived of a firefighting team, they rose to the occasion. Their inexperience led to mistakes—and yet they were heroic!
Remember, the flight deck was full of planes, loaded with ammunition that could still blow. Sailors manually pushed aircraft away from the fire. Other planes, past saving, were pushed into the ocean. Ordnance, too, was pushed overboard. At one point, a sailor loaded a forklift with ammunition, rode it to the edge of the deck, then jumped out just as the forklift fell into the sea.
Some sailors learned to use an Oxygen Breathing Apparatus on the fly so they could fight fires. Throughout it all, of course, sailors were helping their comrades, some of whom were burned beyond recognition. They recognized friends by tattoos or by names stitched onto uniforms.
The main fire was extinguished within an hour, but small fires would continue below deck long afterwards. It had been a deadly sequence: 134 men were dead and hundreds more were wounded. Twenty-one planes were demolished. Forrestal itself had been all but destroyed.
And yet, in many ways, the most remarkable thing about the day was Forrestal’s exceptional crew.
Rolling Stone front man and rock and roll artist Mick Jagger is 78 years old today. Sir Michael Philip Jagger was born July 26, 1943, in Dartford, Kent, United Kingdom. He attended the London School of Economics, but dropped out to join The Rolling Stones rock group before graduating. He and The Rolling Stones have been performing publicly since 1962, almost sixty years.
Today is the 52nd anniversary of the first men landing on the moon, July 20, 1969. On this day, American Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon while Michael Collins orbited the moon above them in Apollo 11.
And today is also the inaugural flight of American billionaire Jeff Bezos’ launch of his space capsule, Blue Origin. While this is a sub-orbital flight that lasts only 11 minutes with four crew members aboard, this is a commercial flight that takes the next step into space.
On board the Blue Origin capsule are: Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world and owner of the Blue Origin capsule; his younger brother and firefighter, Mark Bezos; Wally Funk, the oldest woman at 82 and an original Mercury 13 astronaut; and 18-year old Oliver Daemen, a Dutch teenager and the youngest human to ever fly in space.
From humble beginnings, billionaire Jeff Bezos is a self-made man who today became one of the first Americans to fly into space aboard a commercial civilian space capsule.
Bezos is the son of a 16-year old mother whose father deserted his family. He gave up his job in New York and traveled to Seattle, WA, to found Amazon, a tiny online bookseller. He worked in the mailroom of his own company, packing books, and then drove the packages himself to the post office. Today, he owns an online empire that includes the largest retailer in the world, Amazon, as well as Whole Foods and media juggernaut, The Washington Post. He is the richest man in the world, worth more than 200 billion dollars. Now, he is also the owner of a commercial space-exploration company, Blue Origin, that is destined to be a leader in commercial civilian space travel for decades to come.
On this date, the most famous outlaw in the old West allegedly meets his death at the end of a gun, wielded by one of the most famous sheriffs. Billy the Kid dies when he is shot in a darkened bedroom by Sheriff Pat Garrett on July 14, 1881, 140 years ago today.
On April 1, 1878, Billy the Kid ambushed Sheriff William Brady and a deputy in Lincoln, New Mexico, after ranch owner John Tunstall had been murdered. Sheriff Brady and his men were associated with the gang that allegedly killed Tunstall, Billy the Kid’s employer. Billy’s retaliation against the gang left Brady and Deputy George Hindman dead. At only 18 years old, Billy the Kid had now killed 17 men.
Now a fugitive from justice, Billy killed a few more men, including the gunslinger Joe Grant. It is claimed Billy got hold of Grant’s gun prior to the fight and made sure that an empty chamber was up first in Grant’s revolver. When they both fired, only Billy’s gun went off and Grant was left dead.
Sheriff Pat Garrett eventually arrested Billy. The judge sentenced Billy the Kid to hang until “you are dead, dead, dead.” Billy reportedly replied, “And you can go to hell, hell, hell.”
After Billy the Kid once again escaped custody, Garrett mounted another posse to bring him in. After tracing Billy to the Maxwell Ranch, Garrett ambushed Billy and shot him to death in a darkened bedroom, allegedly as Billy the Kid returned home that night.
Down through the ages, conspiracy theorists claimed it was not Billy who was killed that night by Sheriff Garrett, but a Mexican who also lived at the Maxwell Ranch. Legends lived on and claimed Billy escaped and lived out a full, rich, quiet life into the 1900s in Texas.
Today is the 84th anniversary of the disappearance of famed American aviatrix Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan. On July 2, 1937, Amelia and Fred took off from Lae, New Guinea, on one of the last legs on their around-the-world flight. Their destination was Howland Island, a tiny speck of land in the Pacific Ocean. From there, the final jump was to be to Hawaii and then on to the California mainland.
Mike Campbell, renown author of three books on the Earhart disappearance, takes up the narrative of the disappearance of Amelia and Fred and her Lockheed Model 10-E Electra (NR 16020):
“July is Amelia Earhart’s month, for those of us who still honor the memory of this great American, and we don’t forget Fred Noonan, Amelia’s intrepid navigator whose sad destiny was inextricably bound to her own.
“Today, July 2, is the 84th anniversary of Earhart and Noonan’s fateful takeoff from Lae, New Guinea in 1937, officially bound for Howland Island, 2,556 miles distant, a tiny speck in the Pacific, never flown before and the most difficult leg of their world-flight attempt. What happened that compelled the fliers to land their Electra 10E off Barre Island at Mili Atoll, about 850 miles to the north-northwest, twenty-some hours later, remains the true mystery in the Earhart disappearance. All else is smoke, mirrors and endless lies.
“No missing-persons case has ever been as misreported and misunderstood. As I’ve said and written countless times,the widely accepted canard that the Earhart disappearance remains among the 20th century’s “greatest mysteries” is a vile, abject lie, the result of eight decades of government-media propaganda aimed at perpetuating public ignorance about the fliers’ wretched ends at the hands of the pre-war Japanese military on Saipan. Considering the lengths to which the U.S. government has gone to obscure, cover-up and deny the truth, it appears this state of affairs will persist until the Last Day. At that time, many will have much to answer for.
“As for any Earhart news, this year is among the quietest in memory — virtually nothing is happening, at least to my knowledge. A pair of pathetic cranks are claiming they’ve found the Earhart plane just off Nikumaroro and have even started a website with strange, inscrutable photos and nonsensical gibberish.
“No one in the mainstream media — or anywhere else — has paid a gnat’s worth of attention to the latest crap, and I won’t dignify this absurd, backhanded swipe at TIGHAR’s 30-plus years of propagandizing and fruitless searching off and on Nikumaroro by linking it here. You certainly don’t need to know about it, but if you insist, you can search under “Road to Amelia Earhart” and you’ll find it unless it’s already been circular filed under “lies no one will believe.” I only mention it because things are so currently comatose in Earhartland, and this latest is more proof that nature abhors a vacuum.
“The below cartoon from the Kansas City Star goes back to early 1994, but its misplaced humor perfectly captures the zeitgeist that’s always defined the Earhart matter. Far from being one of history’s “most perplexing questions,” as an angel explains to a newly arrived soul, the truth about the loss of Amelia Earhart is well-known and one of the most precious sacred cows in the corrupt archives of the U.S. national security apparatus.
“On a rare positive note, Polish author and publisher Sławomir M. Kozak recently informed me about his forthcoming book, Requiem for Amelia Earhart, which will introduce the Polish people to the truth about the Earhart disappearance. Requiem is scheduled for publication on Sept. 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of possibly America’s greatest betrayal, another sacred cow whose truth has eluded as many Americans as the Earhart cover-up, and another subject that the erudite Slawomir has studied closely. His website is www.oficyna-aurora.pl.
On July 24, Marie Castro and the Amelia Earhart Memorial Monument Inc. (AEMMI) will get together on Saipan to celebrate Amelia’s 124th Birthday, and I’ll have photos and comments when that time rolls around.“
On this day in 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg begins. Our nation should have been celebrating its 87th birthday that week. Instead, we were engaged in a brutal, 3-day battle that would end with as many as 51,000 dead or wounded.
At the time, Confederate General Robert E. Lee was fresh off a victory at the Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia. He decided to head to Pennsylvania, with the intent of collecting more supplies. He also had another goal: Some northerners wanted out of the war. Perhaps he could encourage that sentiment by moving the fight to their own backyards.
In the meantime, newly appointed Major General George Meade led the Union army toward Lee’s troops. The two sides ended up clashing in Gettysburg when Confederate infantry ran into some Union cavalry, more or less by chance. The situation quickly took a serious tone, because Union commanders did not want to lose the town. Many roads converged there.
The fighting was intense. Confederate troops drove the Union cavalry down the streets of Gettysburg, pushing them back toward Cemetery Hill. At this point, Major General Richard Ewell made a choice that may have cost the Confederate army a victory. It was the end of a long day of fighting, and Lee had given him some discretion in the matter. Upon seeing Union artillery at the top of the hill, he declined to pursue the attack further. He thus failed to capture an important position before the first day of fighting came to a close.
More reinforcements arrived that evening. The fighting that had begun on July 1 continued into a second day. Then it continued into a third day. The battle finally swung decisively in favor of the Union army when the Confederate army launched an attack at the center of the Union lines. At least 12,000 Confederate soldiers marched across an open field in the attack known as Pickett’s charge. That attack lasted about an hour and ended miserably for the Confederate side. Half of the Confederate soldiers were lost, and the army soon began a hasty retreat toward Virginia.
Meade declined to pursue Lee, perhaps echoing the mistake that Ewell had made two days earlier. Some speculate that Meade could have ended the war then and there, if only he had taken up the pursuit. Abraham Lincoln certainly thought so. He wrote a letter to Meade (although he never sent it).
Lincoln wrote: “Again, my dear general, I do not believe you appreciate the magnitude of the misfortune involved in Lee’s escape—He was within your easy grasp, and to have closed upon him would, in connection with our other late successes, have ended the war—As it is, the war will be prolonged indefinitely.”
The aftermath of the battle was gruesome. One teenage girl, a resident of Gettysburg, later recounted what she saw:
“I fairly shrank back aghast at the awful sight presented. The approaches were crowded with wounded, dying and dead. The air was filled with moanings, and groanings. . . . [A]mputating benches had been placed about the house. I must have become inured to seeing the terrors of battle, else I could hardly have gazed upon the scenes now presented. . . . To the south of the house, and just outside of the yard, I noticed a pile of limbs higher than the fence. It was a ghastly sight! Gazing upon these, too often the trophies of the amputating bench, I could have no other feeling, than that the whole scene was one of cruel butchery.”
Only a few months later, the Gettysburg Address would be given on this battlefield. “The brave men,” Lincoln stated, “living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. . . . we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”