An Unusual Tale

Pacific Paratrooper

Crusader Crusader

Story brought to us by Ian from Welcome to My World and Aussie Emu.

The Time a Fighter Pilot Ejected Into a Thunderstorm and Rode the Lightning

Marine Corps Lt. Col. William H. Rankin had flown combat flight operations in both World War II and the Korean War, but it wasn’t enemy fire that came closest to killing him during his military flying career. It was a summer thunderstorm over the east coast of the United States.

Lt.Col. William Rankin Lt.Col. William Rankin

On July 26, 1959 Rankin and his wingman, 1st Lt. Herbert Nolan, were flying a pair of F-8 Crusaders from South Weymouth, Mass back to their home base at Beaufort, S.C. when they encountered a line of severe thunderstorms over North Carolina. Shortly after the fighters climbed up to 47,000 feet to go over the growing cumulonimbus clouds, Rankin heard a loud grinding noise followed by a loss of power from…

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Primo Levi — Surviving Auschwitz

Primo Levi

Primo Levi

The Italian Jewish chemist and author, Primo Levi [1919 – 1987], was a notable survivor of Auschwitz whose powerful writing was second to none when it came to describing his experiences. If you haven’t yet read any of his books, it’s time to add them to your list. He was liberated from the concentration camp by Russia’s Red Army in January 1945 but was not able to return to Italy until four months later. His journey took him through Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, Austria, and Germany and he did not arrive in Turin until 19th October, 1945.

“You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find warm food
And friendly faces when you return home.
Consider if this is a man
Who works in mud,
Who knows no peace,
Who fights for a crust of bread,
Who dies by a yes or no.
Consider if this is a woman
Without hair, without name,
Without the strength to remember,
Empty are her eyes, cold her womb,
Like a frog in winter.
Never forget that this has happened.
Remember these words.
Engrave them in your hearts,
When at home or in the street,
When lying down, when getting up.
Repeat them to your children.
Or may your houses be destroyed,
May illness strike you down,
May your offspring turn their faces from you.”
― Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz

“Even in this place one can survive, and therefore one must want to survive, to tell the story, to bear witness; and that to survive we must force ourselves to save at least the skeleton, the scaffolding, the form of civilization. We are slaves, deprived of every right, exposed to every insult, condemned to certain death, but we still possess one power, and we must defend it with all our strength for it is the last — the power to refuse our consent.”
― Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz

Shipmates

Fix Bayonets!

It was late in the afternoon at Marine Aviation Training Support Group-33 when a female Petty Officer First Class entered through the front hatch. She looked confused and somewhat distraught. Only a few seconds passed before the Marine Noncommissioned Officer approached the sailor and asked, “May I help you ma’am?”

The nametag on her blouse read “Stewart.”

Petty Officer Stewart remained silent and stationary; she stared blankly at the deck. The Marine asked her, “Is everything okay, Petty Officer?”

The woman’s hands began shaking and her bottom lip started to quiver; tears began streaming down her face. She simply stood there; clutching her uniform hat in both hands and cried silently for about half a minute. The Marine NCO was feeling helpless at this point, but he waited patiently for the woman to say something —to let him know what the matter was.

USS Cole DDG-67Finally, through choked back tears, Petty Officer…

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Brothers in Arms – The Siblings Who Went to War

historywithatwist

The movie Saving Private Ryan was much feted when it was first released for its realistic depiction of the sheer terror experienced by those who took part in the D-Day landings on Normandy’s ‘Omaha Beach’.

The plot – which centres around the bid to find Pvt Ryan, the sole survivor of four siblings who went to war, and to bring him to safety – mirrors actual events.

The Sullivans on board the USS Juneau (left to right)  Joseph, Francis, Albert, Madison and George. The Sullivans on board the USS Juneau (left to right) Joseph, Francis, Albert, Madison and George.

At a time when men, women and children were being blown to pieces in the Second World War, there was one tragedy, which occurred in 1942, that gave even the most battle-scarred soldiers and citizens to pause and give thanks that they had been spared such pain.

In November 1942, the cruiser USS Juineau was in the South Pacific when it was torpedoed. On board were five…

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