Furry War Heroes

Nov 15 2021, 8:54 am in

November 11th we honor Veterans around the world.  

Those who served come in many sizes shapes and species. Yeaph. Species. 

I believe we are most familiar with military working dogs (MWD) and K9 officers. Dogs have been in warfare since ancient times used as scouts, sentries and trackers. They sniff out explosive devices saving countless lives. They are assigned to safe guard generals and political personnel on visits outside the country. Many animal veterans are also heroes. They’ve suffered severe trauma, lost limbs and been honored for their bravery with medals.

 

Sgt Stubby, a hero dog from WW1, wandered into the training encampment of the Massachusetts of 102nd infantry in 1917. When the unit shipped out to France, Stubby was smuggled aboard ship. On the battle field, the dog alerted his friends to German attacks. He was wounded by a hand grenade, gassed several times, and once found and held a German spy by the seat of the pants until the troops could complete the capture.

When his master was wounded, Stubby accompanied him to the hospital and made rounds to cheer the troops. Sgt. Stubby survived the war and Gen. John Pershing, personally awarded him a gold medal for one of his many efforts. He became a highly decorated dog, among his medals a Purple Heart, and various veteran’s awards. Stubby returned home at the end of the war and became quite the celebrity. He was made a lifetime member of the American Legion, the YMCA, and the Red Cross. He lived at the Y and made recruiting tours for the Red Cross. Stubby passed on in 1926, he was preserved and displayed with his medals at the Smithsonian Institution.

 

Layka, a Belgian Malinois, was shot four times at point-blank range by enemy forces in Afghanistan. Despite her injuries, she attacked and subdued the shooter, protecting her handler, and other members of the team.

 

  Staff Sergeant Reckless, USMC 

The Staff Sergeant was a beer-guzzling, American hero war horse who bravely transported ammunition and carried wounded Marines to safety under enemy fire in the Korean War

She served with the Recoilless Rifle Platoon, Anti-Tank Company, 1st Marine Division, was bought for $250 at a race track in Seoul during the war. The marines taught her to walk over trip wires, avoid incoming enemy fire and deliver huge packs of ammunition during battle.

During the five day Battle of Outpost Vegas in 1953 in one day she made 51 solo—that’s by herself— trips from the Ammunition Supply Point to the firing sites. Marine Corps history say this battle was particularly savage and Reckless was in the middle of it. Enemy soldiers could see her as she made her way across the deadly “no man’s land” rice paddies and up 45-degree mountain trails to the firing sites. “It’s difficult to describe the elation and the boost in morale that little white-faced mare gave Marines as she outfoxed the enemy—remember she was on her own—bringing vitally needed ammunition up the mountain,” Sgt. Maj. James E. Bobbitt recalled.

She carried 386 rounds of ammunition (over 9,000 pounds – almost FIVE TONS! — of ammunition), walked over 35 miles through open rice paddies and up steep mountains with enemy fire coming in at the rate of 500 rounds per minute. She would carry wounded soldiers down the mountain, unload them, get reloaded with ammo, and off she would go back up to the guns. She also provided a shield for several Marines who were trapped trying to make their way up to the front line. Wounded twice, she didn’t let that stop or slow her down.

Her heroics defined the word “Marine.” She was BELOVED by the Marines. They took care of her better than they took care of themselves – throwing their flak jackets over her to protect her when incoming was heavy, risking their own safety.

Her Military Decorations include two Purple Hearts, Good Conduct Medal, Presidential Unit Citation with star, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, and Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.

There are several books about Sgt. Reckless. She has a face book page and a bronze statue.

Let us never forget our veterans.

                                                                     Rita

 

 

 

Veteran’s Day November 11, 2021

Nov 11 2021, 7:37 am in

Honor and respect. All gave some. Some gave all. 

 

Nov 7 2021, 7:08 pm

It gets dark by 6 now and I’m not a fan. On the flip side I enjoy the later sunrises. The sunrises have been spectacular.   

Friday and Saturday most of Florida enjoyed a good old fashion Nor’easter. Coastal towns and communities like mine also experienced King Tides. King Tides are unusually high tides occurring around the new and full moon. Mix 7 inches of rain, high winds and water and you get flooding. And, it was cold, at least for Florida. In the 50s. Town and neighborhoods had two to three feet of water in the streets. A few boats anchored in the bay broke their moorings, crashed into the bridge and or sank in rough water. Beach erosion is heavy up and down the coast. But Florida has been experiencing this for 450 years. Sunday afternoon skies cleared. By Tuesday temps should be back in their normal 70s range.

Have a great week,

                                                                                    Rita

National Authors Day

Nov 1 2021, 8:22 pm

November 1st is National Author’s Day.

 

Thank you to all authors for providing the world for hours of reading pleasure. 

 

Lighthouse Ghosts

Oct 27 2021, 7:00 am in ,

 Haunted Lighthouse

                                                                                                                                                          

From William Samuels’ Journal. 

Written on a plane headed to Kansas City.

     I love lighthouses. I grew up a block from the St. Augustine, Florida lighthouse. As a kid the grounds, with its old oaks were my playground. The light and the keeper’s house were basically abandoned after the Coast Guard automated the light.

     I’m not admitting to anything but…entering the structure was—cough—hypothetically possible. Hypothetically, I spent some rainy afternoons in the keeper’s house with a girlfriend or two, making out. Occasionally, of an evening, Clay, my best friend in high school, and I would entice our dates to climb in a window and go into the light. Not up to the top, just stay at the bottom where it was nice and private. I’ve only been to the top a handful of times. Not because it’s 219 steps to the top, but up past the first 50 or so steps I got a queasy, dizzy feeling. Like vertigo. Pretty sure it’s because of the heavy smoke smell permeating the walls. Accumulated from years of cigar and pipe smoking keepers. I also hear phantom footsteps that kept my feet firmly on the ground. One of the times I did go to the top was with a girl. While we were up there she clocked my hard enough to cause a bloody nose. Why? She said I tried to push her over the iron stair railing. I didn’t lay a hand on her and I was pretty mad she said I did something like that.

     Anyhow, that’s how I got started with lighthouses.

     I went away to journalism school at the University of Missouri and believe it or not there aren’t any lights there. I was so used to the beam from the St. Augustine light sweeping past my window every minute and a half I had trouble sleeping. I tried setting a timer on a lamp to mimic the light. Roomie put an end to that real quick.

     After graduation I worked for a couple of small newspapers and freelanced. I could see the internet was killing print media and in my spare time—which had become more than my working time—I began to write the great American novel. Quickly learned I’m no Stephen King. Writing is hard. One night at the corner pub I was telling a friend my sad tale of woe and he gave me the name of a client of his looking for a ghost writer. Well, hell. I gave it a try and found out I could do it and do it well. I live comfortably off my earnings. So do two ex-wives.

     I recently traveled to Michigan to work with a client, I’ll call Sam for the telling of this, on his auto-biography. Before taking on a gig I visit with my client to gage the tempo of their speech and get a feel for where they live. This makes the ghost writing easier. Sam spent his childhood and adult life on the upper-peninsula, or thumb, as the locals call it. A nice guy, nothing earth shaking in his life. I enjoyed listening to his rich story telling style.  Some interesting stuff, like his grandfather came to Michigan from Boston on an orphan train. We bonded big time when Sam tells me about a nearby haunted lighthouse where he and his friends hung out. I’ll be honest, I never thought about lighthouses in Michigan. But, get this, Michigan has more than any other state. Michigan’s rocky shores on four great lakes are home to a hundred and twenty lights. Florida has thirty. Yeah. We shared a few lighthouse stories and a lot of damn good whisky.

     Contract signed and my business concluded, on a whim, I drove my rental to a few of the Michigan lights. At each I was greeted by enthusiastic volunteers who treated me to the stats, stories and secrets of their wards. These bastions are pretty damn amazing. Most, built in the late nineteenth century on inhospitable rocky islands and desolate land, are pounded year round with treacherous weather. Yet, they’re still standing.  Gotta tip my hat to those who built the towers without the heavy equipment we have today.  One thing they had in common with the St Augustine light, they smell of cigar and pipe smoke. I mentioned this to the woman—an aging hippie type—showing me around. She stopped dead in her tracks and put her hand to her throat, breathing hard. Eyes big as Oreos. Thought she was having an attack and was reaching for my phone to call 911 when she told me, in a halting whisper only special people could smell the smoke.

     Alrighty then.   Said my good-bys and beat feet it out of there.

     I made my way to the next Light where a great guy and his wife show me around. At the top of the light the lady, in a hushed voice, says, “The windows are clean.” I thought she was responsible and asking for an atta girl so I told her she did a good job. Although I wasn’t sure how she’d managed to do the outside. The Mrs. politely informs me she didn’t clean the windows, the ghost did.   

     Okay.

     Moving on, I mention it’s too bad the smoke smell can’t be removed by cleaning. The couple give me a hard look. The Mr. chimes in that not everyone can smell the smoke from the light keeper’s cigars. As if I’ve given them a secret handshake into a paranormal club, tales of haunted lighthouses around the country pour from them. Strange lights, music playing, cries of women and sailors, heavy footsteps on the stairs. Cleaning ghosts, like the one here, who clean light windows and brass. Specters of women in flowing white gowns and men in pea coats.      

     On the ground, outside and after the hairs on my body returned to their proper positions I was slapped alongside the head with a book idea. Thoughts swirled in my mind and I wasn’t able to think of anything else. I’ve heard writers speak of getting ideas this way but this is a first time experience for me. I’m excited. Excited about writing for myself. I can hardly sit still. The woman in the seat next to me keeps giving me funny looks. I gave her a big smile and tell her I’m going to write a damn good book about a haunted lighthouse.

     Some of this is true. Some is not. Can you tell which is which?

                                                                                     Rita

This is a repost  

National Day on Writing

Oct 20 2021, 2:54 pm

October 20th is National Day on Writing. 

   A day to draw attention to all the writing forms we take part in, and to tell writers how important writing is to the world.

   To writers everywhere, Thank You. 

                                                                                       Rita 

 

St. Augustine Lighthouse. Haunted Lighthouse series.

Oct 20 2021, 7:00 am in

 Happy 147th Birthday to the St. Augustine, Florida Lighthouse

                                                                                                                                                                                           

 The St Augustine Light is an active light.  It stands 165 feet above sea level, with 219 steps to the top, and overlooks the Matanzas Bay and the Atlantic Ocean from Anastasia Island.  It is the first Florida light commissioned by the American government in 1824 and has a first order Fresnel lens now lit with a 1000 watt bulb.  The light is St. Augustine’s oldest surviving brick structure, and stands where, soon after arriving in the mid-1500s, the Spanish built a watchtower. A spot to watch over the town and see out to the ocean for 450 years. In modern times during World War II armed Coast Guardsmen used the tower to watch for enemy ships and submarines.

This light is also said to be haunted. Having grown up a couple of blocks from this light I can say I’ve been inside more times than I can count. To the top only a handful of times. I’d say half of those ‘visits’ were after dark.  Do I think it’s haunted? Well, let’s say during the day I’m a skeptic. At night – I believe. Mind you, I’ve never seen anything, but there is a feeling. That’s the only way I know how to explain.  

Who are these ghosts? There was a suicide by hanging and a man who fell from the first tower might be still around. A keeper and the wife of another keeper died there.  Three children died in an accident. Pirates were imprisoned and executed there. Some are buried on the grounds.   

Then there is the story about the original owner of the lighthouse who had the light taken from him by eminent domain and threatened never to leave. Some say his spirit still walks the tower late at night. Anyone of these men could be the cigar smoking ghost reported in the fuel house.

People say they’ve heard the laughter of children in the tower, and one has been seen, wearing the same blue dress she drowned in. Some have glimpsed a shadowy figure in the tower, a hand coming through the tower door and furniture moving around by itself.

I will also say if I’d seen anything I would never go back. The feeling in there is creepy enough.

According to the ghost hunters from the Syfy TV series Ghost Hunters there is paranormal activity there.  The main stars of the show, Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, dubbed the lighthouse complex “the Mona Lisa of paranormal sites.”

Dozens of YouTube videos online are also devoted to paranormal events here.

Other researchers say the light is not haunted. Everything can be explained.  

                        What do you think?

                                                Rita

 This is a repost   

 

Oct 18 2021, 11:11 am

   Today I woke to temperatures in the mid-60s here in NE Florida. Coolest day in forever. No AC needed. Big smiles here. 

   Spent the last few days rearraigning my office and, belck, cleaning. Needed a new view. Change is good for creativity. Now I can see the birds, butterflies, and what needs a chainsaw taken to it in the backyard jungle. Still have to shampoo the carpet but can’t seem to face doing that just yet. All the dust triggered a lovely allergy attack. But, I’ve vanquished almost all the dust bunnies. There are a couple, that may actually be dust raccoons, lurking in the corner under a desk that weighs a ton. With the cooler weather I’ll be able to take my laptop outside and write. Yippee!

   Don’t forget to check out my Wednesday Haunted Lighthouse blogs.

                                                                     Rita   

Owls Head Light. Haunted Lighthouse Series.

Oct 13 2021, 7:00 am in

President John Quincy Adams authorized the building of Owls Head Light, Maine in 1825. Not a tall light but it stands on a cliff and is exactly 100 feet above sea level. And guess what? It’s haunted……….

 

It has an awesome history of dedicated keepers and rescuing mariners. One of the most famous was when a schooner broke apart on the ice-covered rocks below the light.

The light keeper organized a rescue party and they found a block of ice enveloping a man and a woman seemingly dead. But the rescue party brought the block to the kitchen of the keeper’s house and chipped away, slowly raising their temperature of the water and began to exercise their limbs.  After two hours the woman showed signs of life. An hour later the man opened his eyes and wanted to know what was going on.

There was a dog, Spot, that barked to warn sailors away from the rocks. And… did I mention it’s also haunted? 

In the mid-1980s a light keeper’s wife spoke of the night her husband went outside to secure some construction materials. She felt him return to their bed or thought she did.

She asked if all was well outside. Receiving no reply she turned over and saw only an indentation of a body in the bed next to her. The indentation moved, as if an invisible person was shifting in the bed. After a few minutes, she asked the visitor to go away so she could get some sleep. 

Right! Okay, I could have done that. But by phone from the next county.

The next morning the light keeper told his wife that when he’d gotten out of bed the night, he saw a cloud of smoke hovering over the floor. The cloud, he said, went right through him and into the bedroom.

The next keepers to take over the light were warned about the ghost but didn’t believe it. They chose a room said to be a favorite of the ghost for their daughter’s bedroom. For the entire time they were there the child had an imaginary friend she said looked like an old sea captain. Once, in the middle of the night, the little girl went into her parents’ room excitedly telling them, “Fog’s rolling in! Time to put the foghorn on!” Nobody had ever spoken of such things in front of her, the parents were mystified by the use of such jargon. 
Another common occurrence is the appearance of footprints in the snow, seemingly beginning from nowhere and going up the wooden stairs that lead to the lighthouse tower. On some occasions the keepers find the door to the tower open, the lens and brass inside freshly polished.

Um… I want someone to clean my house by draw the line at a ghost doing it. What about you?

                                                   Rita

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