Memorial Day: May 30, 2022

For the Fallen

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

We will remember them….

From: “For the Fallen”

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Inspiration for “For the Fallen”

Laurence Binyon composed his best known poem while sitting on the cliff-top looking out to sea from the dramatic scenery of the north Cornish coastline. A plaque marks the location at Pentire Point, north of Polzeath. However, there is also a small plaque on the East Cliff north of Portreath, further south on the same north Cornwall coast, which also claims to be the place where the poem was written.

The poem was written in mid-September, 1914, a few weeks after the outbreak of the First World War. During these weeks the British Expeditionary Force had suffered casualties following its first encounter with the Imperial German Army at the Battle of Mons on 23 August, its rearguard action during the retreat from Mons in late August and the Battle of Le Cateau on 26 August, and its participation with the French Army in holding up the Imperial German Army at the First Battle of the Marne between 5 and 9 September 1914.

Laurence said in 1939 that the four lines of the fourth stanza came to him first. These words of the fourth stanza have become especially familiar and famous, having been adopted by the Royal British Legion as an Exhortation for Ceremonies of Remembrance to commemorate fallen Servicemen and women.

Laurence Binyon was too old to enlist in the military forces but he went to work for the Red Cross as a medical orderly in 1916. He lost several close friends and his brother-in-law in the war.

Poem by Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943), published in The Times newspaper on 21 September 1914.

Bonnie and Clyde Ambushed in Louisiana 88 Years Ago Today

by HB Auld, Jr.

Today is the 88th anniversary of the ambush of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, notorious infamous outlaws who died on a lonely Louisiana two-lane road May 23, 1934.

Bonnie and Clyde were nationally known criminals who were wanted for kidnapping, auto theft, bank robbery, and the murder of 11 people, including nine law enforcement officers during their two-year crime spree. They were finally killed in an ambush on Louisiana Highway 154, outside of Gibsland, LA, near Arcadia, LA.

Six law enforcement officers from three agencies combined to ensure the pair were killed. After the killing outside of Gibsland, the pair were taken to Arcadia and laid out in the Conger Furniture Store and Funeral Home, located directly beside my grandfather’s dry cleaning shop. My father, HB Auld, had turned 20 years old the day before the shooting and still lived and worked in Arcadia when Bonnie and Clyde were brought in. My dad was born and raised in Arcadia and worked for his dad in the dry cleaning shop at the time Bonnie and Clyde were killed and brought there.

The 2000-person population grew to more than 12,000.

The 2,000-person population of Arcadia swelled to more than 12,000 onlookers who arrived by foot, car, buggy, and on horseback within hours of the deaths of Bonnie and Clyde.

I met the son of one of the law enforcement officers, Boots Hinton, in Gibsland November 5, 2005, during a visit back to Arcadia. Boots ran the Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum in Gibsland, located in the old cafe where the pair bought a couple of sandwiches before heading down Highway 154 for their dates with death: May 23, 1934, 88 years ago today.

Amelia Earhart Made Historic Flight 90 Years Ago Today: May 21, 1932

by HB Auld, Jr.

On May 21, 1932, 90 years ago today, famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart became the first woman to make a solo, nonstop transatlantic flight.  Amelia Earhart flew across the Atlantic Ocean, landing her plane in Ireland after leaving Newfoundland just 15 hours earlier.  She flew more than 2,000 miles on her flight, landing on the fifth anniversary of the first solo, nonstop transatlantic flight made by Charles Lindberg on May 21, 1927.

Amelia had previously crossed the Atlantic Ocean as a member of a three-person crew.  As the first woman to fly across the Atlantic with that crew in 1928, her main function was to keep the plane’s log.  That flight earned Amelia national fame.  Americans were enamored by the daring young woman’s crossing.

For her intrepid solo transatlantic flight on May 21, 1932, the US Congress awarded Amelia the Distinguished Flying Cross.

“…soloed again from…Hawaii to…California.”

Three years later in 1935, Amelia soloed again from Wheeler Field in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Oakland, California.  That flight earned her a $10,000 prize awarded by Hawaiian businessmen. 

Two years later in July, 1937, in an attempt to fly around the world, Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan, disappeared on the transpacific leg of the flight from Lae, New Guinea, to Howland Island. A complete account of her attempt and what really happened to end her flight can be found in Mike Campbell’s amazingly comprehensive book, Amelia Earhart:  The Truth at Last.  Mike’s book, with more than 400 pages and hundreds of footnotes, details specific eyewitness accounts of Amelia and Fred’s capture by the Japanese, their imprisonment on Saipan, their subsequent execution there, and the coverup of their execution by the US Government.  The book is readily available from Amazon and is now in its Second Printing. 

I also highly recommend Mike’s Weblog: Mike Campbell has more than 30 years of experience researching this First Lady of Flight and is an acknowledged expert on Amelia Earhart.  Several times a week, Mike covers contemporary events concerning Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan and those who knew them, as well as precise eyewitness accounts of her flight and death in 1937 in his Weblog. 

Admiral ‘Mike’ Boorda, Former CNO, Died 26 Years Ago Today

by HB Auld, Jr.

Today, we remember US Navy Admiral Jeremy Michael Boorda, the only Sailor to rise from Seaman Recruit up through the ranks to four-star admiral and the highest ranking office in the Navy, Chief of Naval Operations.

Admiral Boorda died on this date: May 16, 1996. He was 56 years old (November 26, 1939 – May 16, 1996).

Admiral Boorda lied to the recruiter and enlisted in the Navy at 16 (some sources say 17), not unlike many of his era. He was often referred to as a “Sailor’s Sailor” and never forgot the “White Hats” from which he came.

“He finished high school while in the Navy and rose through the ranks to Personnelman First Class (E-6)….”

He finished high school while in the Navy and rose through the ranks to Personnelman First Class (E-6) before being commissioned an Ensign under the Navy Integration Program in August, 1962.

Admiral Boorda died of an alleged suicide following a dispute regarding whether or not he was authorized to wear a combat “V” on two of his decorations. He was distraught over the unintentional wearing of the award and allegedly committed suicide rather than cause more trouble over that dispute for his US Navy.

I was privileged to meet Admiral Boorda several times at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, following my retirement from the Navy.

Admiral Boorda was a hero to those of us who served during his tenure and who respected his service to our US Navy.

May Admiral Jeremy “Mike” Boorda Rest In Peace in Eternity.

Country and Western Singer Mickey Gilley Dies at 86 in Branson

by HB Auld, Jr.

As many know by now, we lost the amazing Country and Western singer Mickey Gilley yesterday. Mickey Gilley was 86.

I had the good fortune to meet Mickey several times in the 1960s when he and his buddy, Bob Luman, would stop in at KDET AM-930 in Center, TX, where I worked. Bob’s first cousin was Royce Luman, our station Program Director, and Mickey and Bob would stop in whenever they were in the East Texas area.

Mickey Gilley was cousins with Jerry Lee Lewis and with evangelist Jimmy Swaggart. He learned to play the piano at an early age from Jerry Lee and continued Jerry’s boogie-woogie style of playing. His Country and Western nightclub in Pasadena, TX, was originally “Sherri’s Club,” named for his partner Sherwood Cryer. Later, it became Gilley’s with the reputation as the “World’s Biggest Honky Tonk.” It featured a mechanical bull, later made famous in the movie, “Urban Cowboy.”

Mickey Gilley died May 7, 2022, in Branson, MO.

South Vietnam Falls to the Vietcong 47 Years Ago This Past April 30

by HB Auld, Jr.

Forty-seven years ago on April 30, 1975, the capital city of Saigon, South Vietnam, finally fell and with it, the Vietnam Conflict was over.

Throughout 1974 and early-1975, the South Vietnamese steadily lost ground and the US military gave little support. US President Richard Nixon had promised the South Vietnamese support, but by early 1975, Nixon had resigned, Gerald Ford was now President, and he failed to convince Congress to uphold Nixon’s promise of support. The South Vietnamese, with no US support, rapidly fell back in total disarray.

Emboldened, the North Vietnamese capitalized on theses light defenses, taking one area of South Vietnam after another. By April 27, the North Vietnamese had completely encircled Saigon and prepared for a final assault and a complete take over.

When they attacked at dawn on April 30, they met little resistance. North Vietnamese tanks crashed through the gates of the Presidential Palace and the Vietnam Conflict ended.

North Vietnamese Colonel Bui Tin accepted the city’s surrender from General Duong Van Minh. Tin explained to Minh: “You have nothing to fear. Between Vietnamese, there are no victors and no vanquished. Only the Americans have been beaten. If you are patriots, consider this a moment of joy. The war for our country is over.” (The History Channel)

With the fall of the capital city and South Vietnam, the US had spent more than 10 years and lost more than 58,000 young men and women who were Killed in Action. Thousands more were sent home, maimed and injured for life. Years later, a black granite “monument” to the dead slashed the green hillside of Washington, D.C., near the Lincoln Memorial. It stands there today, along with three bronze, life-size soldiers, as a reminder of one of the bloodiest and ignominious periods in US history.