I am a Christian grandfather, married to a wonderful woman since February 2, 2002 (that’s 02/02/02), and yes, we were married at 2:02 p.m. I have two wonderful sons and daughters-in-law, a step-daughter and her husband, and a step-son and his wife. These four families have blessed me with 16 grandchildren. I retired as a Senior Chief Journalist August 31, 1987, after 22 years of active service in the US Navy. During my naval career, I was stationed in Adak, Alaska; Okinawa, Japan; Pensacola, FL; Syracuse, NY; Indianapolis, IN; Naples, Italy; and Washington, DC. Lest someone think I was “shorebound,” I also served temporary duty on various ships, including: HMS Hermes, a Royal Navy Aircraft Carrier; and the USS Ticonderoga, a US Navy Aegis Cruiser; among others.
One of America’s favorite television shows of all time premiered 70 years ago tonight.
“The beloved sitcom, “I Love Lucy,” starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, debuted on CBS television on October 15, 1951. The series, which aired from 1951 to 1957, was the most popular show in America for four if its six primetime seasons.”
“The storyline centered on the lives of Lucy Ricardo and her bandleader husband, Ricky, who lived on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and later in Connecticut.
In the show, their best friends, Fred and Ethel Mertz, were former vaudevillians who were often involved in the Ricardos’ shenanigans. Ricky was played by Lucy’s real-life husband. The program won five Emmy Awards during its six-year run.” — The AMAC Magazine, October, 2021
The program, with its homespun “family-at-home” storyline, went on to be the formula for many of America’s family sitcoms, including “The Jeffersons,” “All in the Family,” “The Donna Reed Show,” “Father Knows Best,” and many others.
Even though the four primary actors, Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, William Frawley (Fred Mertz), and Vivian Vance (Ethel Mertz) have all passed on, the show, “I Love Lucy,” lives on in DVDs, in reruns, and in the hearts and memories of those who lived through the 1950s.
During this week in 1945, a [US Navy] Corpsman is awarded the Medal of Honor. Pharmacist’s Mate Second Class George E. Wahlen’s citation that day described him as “stouthearted and indomitable” for his perseverance at Iwo Jima.
Wahlen wasn’t really supposed to be a corpsman in the first place. His training was in mechanics, and he’d wanted to serve as an aircraft mechanic. Nevertheless, the military needed medical personnel, so that’s what he trained to do.
When he arrived at Iwo Jima in February 1945, it was his first time in combat. He was tasked with assisting an invading Marine battalion. The young corpsman was worried that he wouldn’t have what it took.
“I couldn’t imagine me being a Corpsman,” he later told an interviewer, “and when they had casualties, [it was] my job was to go out and take care of them. And it concerned me and I think it was the first time I ever prayed in my life. . . . [I figured if I ever] need help, this is when it is.”
Rough days ahead
The days that followed were rough. Wahlen would be on the island, supporting his Marines, for close to two weeks. Throughout those weeks, Whalen repeatedly stepped in to help his fellow Marines, even when he himself was already injured. At one point, he even went to the assistance of another battalion, helping 14 of those boys before returning to his own.
Whalen later recounted one of these experiences. The Marines were advancing up a hill when the Japanese opened fire. Our Marines hit the ground, looking for the source of the problem.
“Finally, we got word to pull off the hill,” Whalen said. “But there was two casualties over on my right flank.” He crawled through fire to get to them, but both men were already dead. Just then a grenade went off too close to his face. “And the shock from that kind of temporarily knocked me unconscious,” he described. “I laid there for a minute or two and kind of got my bearings back and I could feel the blood in this one eye—couldn’t see out of it.” He administered first aid to himself, then immediately turned in the direction of another Marine who was calling for help.
He wouldn’t be able to get to that Marine without taking out the machine gun nest in the area. Naturally, that’s what he decided to do.
He yelled over to another Marine, hollering for a grenade. He didn’t have any of his own, because he was a Corpsman.“
I decided I’d crawl up the hill and see if I [could] knock out that emplacement,” he said. He made his way to the machine gun nest. “I was going to lob the grenade into the hole. And so, I always remember I went to pull the ring out and the ring come off and the pin stayed in . . . . I got my knife out and straightened that pin out and pulled it off.” By then, he was pretty close to the Japanese, and he let the grenade fly.
It worked! Whalen was able to crawl back to the Marine, eventually getting him to safety.
Whalen’s worst injury came on the last day that he was there, on March 13.
He was looking for injured Marines when a mortar hit too close to him. “I heard [the Marines] holler and so I went to stand up to get to them and fell down,” he later recounted. “I couldn’t walk. And I looked down and my boot had been torn off. I’d been hit in the leg. And I later found out my leg had been broke.”
You don’t think a broken leg stopped him from helping those Marines, do you? Because it didn’t. He bandaged his leg and gave himself a shot of morphine. Then he was on his way again, ready to help the Marines that he’d found just before the mortar blast. He worked his way even further into enemy territory, continuing to help Marines before he was finally evacuated.
The broken leg would finally send Wahlen to a hospital to recuperate. After the war, he received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S Truman.
Greatest accomplishment ever
Many years later he was asked what the Medal of Honor meant to him. He was gracious and humble, as so many of our Medal recipients are.
“Well, it’s certainly the greatest accomplishment that I ever did,” he said simply. “And I think it’s important [to not] only be proud of it, but don’t do anything to disgrace it, either. And I tried to do that.”
Wahlen went on to serve in the Korean War and the Vietnam Conflict where he was injured once again, this time while serving as a US Army Major. George E. Wahlen passed away June 5, 2009.
On this day in 1835, the Texas Revolution begins! Did you know that the first battle was fought because Texans decided that the Mexicans would have to pull an old, small cannon out of their cold, dead hands?
Does that fact, alone, explain my home state?!
The Texas Revolution wasn’t fought entirely over one old cannon, of course. That cannon was just the straw that broke the camel’s back, prompting a skirmish that came to be known as the Battle of Gonzales.
In 1835, Texans (or “Texians”) were concerned about the increasingly dictatorial Mexican government and its army. But the town of Gonzales found itself in the crossfire for a rather unexpected reason. It possessed one small cannon that had come from San Antonio de Béxar in 1831. Some thought the cannon was loaned, others thought it had been given. Either way, Gonzales felt that it needed the cannon to scare off local Indian tribes.
As tensions between the Mexican government and the Texians escalated, the Mexicans decided that Gonzales could not keep its cannon anymore. The given reason was that the cannon had been given only as a loan. But perhaps the real reason is that the government wanted to disarm citizens? Either way, town officials were notified that the cannon must be returned.
The alcalde, or mayor, of Gonzales called a town meeting and a vote was taken. All but three people agreed: Gonzales should keep its cannon!
Nevertheless, Mexican commander Francisco de Castañeda was sent to retrieve the cannon.
The Mexican force reached the Guadalupe River on September 29, but then it got stuck. Recent rains had made the river difficult to cross. Complicating matters, Texians had taken all the boats from Castañeda’s side of the river. Eighteen Texians were now guarding the river on the other side. In the meantime, Gonzales was calling for help from nearby towns. Its citizens buried the cannon in a nearby peach orchard.
Come hell or high water, they were not giving up that cannon!
The Texians managed to stall for a while. Castañeda wanted to talk, but the Texians noted that the talks were more properly held with the alcalde, Andrew Ponton. (Surprise, surprise. He wasn’t there.) Even when the Texians did engage in talks, they just shouted across the river at Castañeda. At one point, a single Mexican was allowed to swim back and forth with messages.
What a scene! Naturally, the delay mostly ensured that the Texians got reinforcements.
The stalemate continued until October 1, when Castañeda moved his men a few miles upriver. By now, the Texians were getting tired of the situation. They dug up the cannon and created shrapnel from anything they could find. They hauled the cannon across the river and approached the Mexican camp early on October 2. A thick fog hid them from view.
A few shots were exchanged during the early morning hours, but the more serious fighting began after sunrise. Naturally, the controversial cannon was brought into battle. The Texians had created a white flag, which waved proudly over the cannon.
Come and Take It
You guessed it. The flag bore the words: “Come and Take It.”
The fighting itself was more of a brief skirmish than a true battle. In the end, Castañeda quickly retreated because he thought his orders required him to do so before the conflict escalated into war.
His retreat came too late. The Texas Revolution was on.
One of our grandsons has joined the US military. Jaiden Auld will one day soon be a United States Marine.
Jaiden is the youngest son of my youngest son, Chuck Auld. I am like Chuck this morning; I have run the full gamut of emotions from pride and joy to absolutely terrified for his safety.
According to Chuck, this is something that Jaiden has planned for and wanted to do for a year. He has worked on his stamina and strength and built both of them up. Formerly, when a young man or woman joined the US Marines, they were pretty much shipped right out to Basic Training. Now, they have a program called “Poolies,” where men and women who join in the same area meet and work together as a “pool” of recruits-to-be. The allows them to build a camaraderie and esprit de corps for several months, up to a year, before they all go to Basic Training as a cohesive group. Occasionally, one will leave the group and go early, if an opening becomes available and both the Recruiter and the Poolie believe they are ready, but generally, they go in as a group.
While this is certainly not about me but ALL about Jaiden, as a career Sailor who is the son of a World War II Infantryman, I am so very proud that Jaiden has chosen to serve his Nation as a member of the United States Marine Corps.
Please pray for him, and all of the other service members today, who have chosen to answer this call.
The photos here are of Jaiden and his USMC Recruiter, Sergeant Ross.
God bless these men and women and God bless America.
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:”