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.

Texas Defeats Mexico 186 Years Ago at the Battle of San Jacinto

by HB Auld, Jr.

Today is the 186th anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto.  On April 21, 1836, “Texican” forces under the leadership of General Sam Houston defeated the Mexican Army in a battle that lasted just 18 minutes.

That same Mexican Army under President of Mexico and General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna had earlier that year massacred almost 200 men and women at the Battle of Alamo.  Less than a month later, more Texicans were executed as Prisoners of War following the Battle of Goliad.  Both of these atrocities gave birth to the Battle Cries: “Remember the Alamo!” and “Remember Goliad!”

…Santa Anna was forced to recognize Texas’ Independence

Following these losing battles, General Sam Houston began a series of strategic retreats eastward across Texas with the Mexican Army in pursuit.  Texicans derided General Houston for his retreats, preferring instead to stand and fight Santa Anna.   As General Houston camped on the banks of the Bay of San Jacinto near the present-day metropolis of Houston, Texas, he planned his counter-punch against Santa Anna.  On April 21, Houston’s Texican Army surprised the Mexican Army as it camped nearby.  Following his defeat in that battle, the Mexican Army’s Santa Anna, disguised as a Mexican Army Private, was captured and brought before General Sam Houston.  In exchange for his freedom, Santa Anna was forced to recognize Texas’ Independence.   

Nine years later in 1845, Texas was finally admitted to the Union as the 28th state of the growing United States of America.

(Source: The History Channel)

First Detective Story Published 181 Years Ago Today by Edgar Allan Poe

by HB Auld, Jr.

A hundred and eighty-one years ago, writer Edgar Allan Poe created a completely new genre of literature when he published the first detective story.  The tale, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, first appeared in the Graham’s Lady’s and Gentleman’s Magazine on April 20, 1841.

The story follows Monsieur C. Auguste Dupin as he solves a series of murders in Paris, France.  The tale is narrated by the great detective’s roommate…a style which would be adopted by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with his tales of detective Sherlock Holmes, narrated by Dr. John H. Watson, more than 45 years later in 1887.

Wilkie Collins expanded the detective story genre to his full-length novel, The Moonstone….

Following the 32-year old Poe’s detective short story, English novelist Wilkie Collins expanded the detective story genre to his full-length novel, The Moonstone, in 1868.  His novel’s hero, Sergeant Cuff, searches for the mastermind who stole a sacred Indian moonstone.  His detective novel contains many of the mystery elements found in today’s detective thrillers, such as red herrings, false alibis, and others. Later, mystery writers such as Dame Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane, Sue Grafton, Lee Child, and many, many others became famous, publishing their own variations of detective and mystery stories and novels.  The detective genre survives today with new authors following in the footsteps of Edgar Allan Poe and all the others who followed him.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022: National Vietnam War Veterans Day

by HB Auld, Jr.

Today is National Vietnam War Veterans Day, a day when Americans thank and honor all those who served in the U.S. military in the Vietnam War.

This new military holiday was signed into law by President Donald Trump in 2017.

To all of those veterans who served in the Vietnam War: “Welcome Back Home. We are so glad you made it back.” More than 58,000 Americans did not make it back home, but died in Vietnam.

March 29, 1973, the last of America’s troops left Vietnam, is remembered today as National Vietnam War Veterans Day.

Battle of the Alamo Begins 186 Years Ago: February 23, 1836

by HB Auld, Jr.

On this day, 186 years ago, February 23, 1836, one of the bloodiest battles of the Texas War for Independence began:  The Battle of the Alamo. At the end of the 13-day battle, more than 187 Texians (as they were called back then) lay slaughtered in and around the San Antonio mission, along with 400 to 600 Mexicans who died or were wounded in the assault on the Mission.   This battle generated the battle cry: “Remember the Alamo,” which resonates with Texans, even today.

At the end of the 13-day siege (February 23 – March 6, 1836) Mexican President and Army commander of more than 1,500 Mexican attackers, General Antonio Lopez de Sana Anna claimed victory over the Alamo’s Texian defenders, all of whom were either killed in the onslaught or executed after the battle.   This bloody massacre was soon followed by the Battle of Goliad and later the Battle of San Jacinto where Santa Anna (as he was called) was defeated in a battle that lasted just 18 minutes by Texas General (and first Republic President) Sam Houston on April 21, 1836.  The rallying cries, “Remember the Alamo” and “Remember Goliad” echoed throughout this final battle for Independence.  The Battle of Goliad was fought at sunrise on Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836. The Mexican Army marched most of the captured Texian army from the Persidio La Bahia near Goliad out in three groups. A short distance later, the Mexican army opened fire on the unarmed Texian defenders and executed 342 of them. Forty of the executed soldiers were too wounded to march.  

Travis became the sole commander of the Alamo on February 24, 1836. 

In February, 1836, the garrison at the Alamo, a Spanish mission near San Antonio, Texians led by 26-year old Colonel William B. Travis, James Bowie (originator of the famed “Bowie Knife”), Tennessean Davy Crockett and others, prepared to defend the mission.  James Bowie had originally been ordered to the Alamo on January 19, 1836.  He arrived with orders to destroy the complex.  Instead, he took command of the garrison as its co-commander, along with Colonel William Barret Travis.  Travis became the sole commander of the Alamo on February 24, 1836. 

Texians, enraged by the slaughter at the Alamo and later Goliad, joined the Texas Revolution cause across the state.  A little more than a month after the fall of the Alamo, Texas General Sam Houston made his stand on the banks of the Buffalo Bayou and the San Jacinto Bay near the present-day city of Houston, and defeated Mexican General and Commander, Santa Anna in a battle that lasted just 18 minutes.  General Santa Anna was captured while disguised as a mere foot soldier and Private, but was recognized and cheered by his men as he was paraded through the other Prisoners of War.  Santa Anna was presented to General Sam Houston and just three weeks after the battle, was forced to sign a peace treaty which dictated that the Mexican Army would depart the area to south of the Rio Grande River.  The Republic of Texas then became an independent country, General Samuel Houston became a national celebrity, and the rallying cries “Remember the Alamo,” and “Remember Goliad” became legendary in Texas history. 

The Assault on Iwo Jima Began 77 Years Ago Today: February 19, 1945

by HB Auld, Jr.

Today marks the 77th anniversary of the beginning of the bloody assault on the island of Iwo Jima in World War II: February 19, 1945.

Most think of the raising of the flag on Mount Suribachi when the island of Iwo Jima is mentioned. That would come four days later on February 23 after a bloody battle that took the lives of more than seven thousand US Marines.

But the beginning of this epic, important battle began with an underwater attack by US Navy “Frogmen” (Underwater Demolition Teams or UDTs, the precursors of Navy SEALS). Japanese snipers fired upon them, giving up their “secret” positions on the island. Under the watchful eyes of the US Navy Secretary of the Navy (later the first Secretary of Defense) James Forrestal, US Marines landed on the island in amphibious landing crafts. Forrestal was offshore, accompanied by journalists, in a command ship watching the attack.

By nightfall that first day, more than 550 Marines lay dead on the beaches and more than 1,800 were wounded from seven Japanese battalions defending the island. Many more American Marines and Japanese defenders would die during the next four days before famed photojournalist Joe Rosenthal would take his famous photograph of six US Marines raising the flag atop Mount Suribachi.

A vital piece of Pacific real estate would finally be in the hands of the Americans in their onward march toward Japan and Victory over Japan (VJ) Day, still almost seven months away.