Welcome to Talking Proud, Service & Sacrifice

Honoring those who have served and sacrificed

“Talking Proud” honors service and sacrifice, focused mainly on our military, and where I can, on Canada’s as well. Feel free to send me a note using the Contact Form and, if appropriate, I will post your comments in our Letters section.

The mission: Take down UA Flight 93


This USAF F-16 pilot, Lt. Heather Lucky Penney, USAF, was told by her commander, Colonel George Degnon, vice commander, 113th Wing, Andrews AFB, "Lucky, you're coming with me." He took the front seat, told her to take the second seat. They did not have time to arm, they did not have time to go through their checklists. The colonel just took off.

The mission? To ram a hijacker led UA 93 believed to be heading for Washington intent on destroying its target there. The ram wold either disable UA 93 enough to where the F-16 could guide it for a landing, or destroy it and the F-16. The colonel hoped they could eject before their F-16 destroyed UA 93. Penney said she would not eject. When asked why she was willing to fly a kamikaze mission, Penney said:

"Why? Because there are things in this world that are more important than ourselves. Freedom. The Constitution of the United States . Our way of life. Mom, baseball, apple pie; these things and so many more that make us uniquely American. We belong to something greater than ourselves. As complex and diverse and discordant as it is, this thing, this idea called America, binds us together in citizenship and community and brotherhood…"

The two USAF pilots did not have to ram her. UA 93 crashed in Pennsylvania after a heroic fight by passengers.

Bell X-1: The wonder of "competing ideas"

"The race to break the sound barrier"


On November 15, 1987, the Buffalo Evening News published a story by Mike Vogel entitled, “Boom Town.” He wrote:

“Forty years ago, Buffalo (New York) was at the center of the gutsiest experiment in aviation history: the race to break the sound barrier.”

´┐╝Vogel went on to quote from a report signed by Capt. Charles “Chuck” E. Yaeger, USAF that said this:

“The needle of the Machmeter fluctuated at this reading momentarily, then passed off the scale. Assuming that the off-scale reading remained linear, it is estimated 1.05 Mach was attained at this time.”

Yaeger was slightly off. Analysis showed he and his aircraft, the Bell X-1A “Glamorous Glennis,” hit Mach 1.07, about 700 mph, at more than 42,000 ft. above the dry California lake beds. This occurred on October 14, 1947. Yaeger and his aircraft were the first to break the sound barrier, once thought by some to be an impenetrable wall for manned flight.

Whenever new technologies and advanced technology systems begin to bubble up to the surface, there often is a scramble among brilliant people to advance their ideas about the course that ought to be taken. As a result, many competing ideas come to the fore and people will shoot off in multiple directions to advocate their approach. The debates about these competing ideas can become fierce. There is usually a lot at stake. There was a lot at stake here. The main purpose of this report is to address the development of the X-1 in terms of "competing ideas." November 20, 2017.
Go to story.

David Ortiz stops everything for the National Anthem


On August 8, 2013, the Boston Red Sox were playing at the Kansas City Royals. David "Big Papi" Ortiz, at the time the Sox designated hitter, was signing autographs. A baby's parents handed their baby to him apparently to take photos of him holding the baby. Just as the photoshoot was about to wrap up, the National Anthem began. Ortiz stopped, turned around to face the flag, grasped the baby firmly, took off his hat and put it over his heart while the Anthem played. The baby seemed quite comfortable in Ortiz's arms. Now is that a class act or what sports fans? Ortiz is from the Dominican Republic and played 20 Major League Baseball seasons, 14 with the Red Sox and six with the Minnesota Twins. He was a ten-time All Star, three-time World Series Champion, and seven-time Silver Slugger winner. He set a Red Sox single-season record for home runs with 54 in 2006. This ball player is what's known as a Pro! (112317)

This WWII Vet stands for the National Anthem


Here you go NFL and others in “pro sports.” Marian Morale, 94, a WWII vet missing a leg, stands for National Anthem before Buffalo Sabres National Hockey League (NHL) game. She practiced for three months to do this! (100617)

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LS-85, Airmen left out on the limb, a leadership failure


This is, frankly, a tragic story. My objective is to address events leading up to the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) attack on Lima Site 85 (LS-85) in northeastern Laos in March 1968 that put it out of commission and killed 13 Americans from the USAF. LS-85 hosted a CIA command center directing Hmong fighters against communist forces in northeastern Laos and a landing zone. It also hosted two navigation aids to help USAF fighter-bombers attack targets in North Vietnam and Laos. USAF technicians working as Lockheed employees operated the equipment. Twelve of them were killed. This was the largest ground combat loss of USAF people in the Indochina War. A thirteenth American was killed when his A-1E Sandy search and rescue fighter was shot down. As you read and learn the raw facts as they unfold, I ask you pay particular attention to the magnificent valor of those who fought against great odds, and also recognize those who attempted to thwart this tragedy long before it unfolded. The net result will be a recognition of monumental service and sacrifice about which we can and should talk proudly. That despite the terrible losses. September 10, 2017. Go to story.

Invisible waterfront hands: Evacuation of Manhattan, 9/11

"The ordinary achieving the extraordinary"


The September 11, 2001 air attacks against the United States consisted of a series of four coordinated attacks. Much of that day will remain in our memories forever. We will also remember forever the unparalleled bravery and courage of our first responders and many citizens. A story missed by many of us, however, was the maritime evacuation of Lower Manhattan. Private boats and their skippers along with the US Coast Guard (USCG) teamed up to evacuate some 500,000 people who were trapped between the devastation of the collapsed WTC building complex and the waters of the Hudson River, the East River and Upper New York Bay. The entire evacuation effort “Just Happened,” because every-day people decided this evacuation would happen. And it did. June 21, 2017. Go to story.

The men of Normandy!


Two D-Day veterans who participated in the liberation of France share a laugh in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, France, June 5, 2017, while attending a ceremony to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of D-Day. I would love to have heard that story! (060717)

Soviet Foxtrot Submarines: The Cuban Missile Crisis

And so much more about this crisis I for one did not know


I have read, "The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis is probably the single most analyzed episode of the Cold War." Perhaps so, but until now, not by me. Many people certainly know about or are aware of the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 in which tensions between the US and the Soviet Union were about as high as they could be, edging toward the possibility of nuclear war. But most of us are not familiar with the tense encounters with Soviet submarines. This photo taken by a US Navy (USN) anti-submarine warfare (ASW) patrol aircraft shows Soviet Foxtrot submarine Hull Number 945 nearing Cuban waters during that crisis, one of four that made the transit. It is B-130, Captain Shumkov in command. It is arguable when the US learned these submarines were on their way, as you will see later. For certain the US government did not know each of these submarines was carrying a single nuclear tipped torpedo that could destroy a Carrier Group. The Soviets called these "special weapons." May 3,2017. Go to story.

Deep Sea 129: The price Silent Warriors pay


On April 15, 1969 a North Korean MiG-21 shot down a US Navy EC-121M electronic surveillance aircraft assigned to Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron One (VQ-1) Atsugi, Japan. She was shot down over the Sea of Japan about 100 nm off the coast of the Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK), North Korea, over international waters. There were 31 American souls aboard, all lost, only two bodies recovered. The EC-121 was unarmed and had no escort. It was flying out there alone, just as so many others had and still do. The US, President Richard Nixon at the helm, did not retaliate. The purpose of this story is to try to understand why. February 15, 2017. Go to story.

Corps d'Afrique - a painful evolution to prove valor


This story centers on the Corps d’Afrique, black soldiers who fought for the Union in the American Civil War. That war was and remains a central event in American history. The Corps did not develop overnight. Theirs is a complex story, an evolutionary story that began in Louisiana. It will expose you to a great deal of American history, good and bad. Emancipation and military service in this war were woven together, much done through experimentation, and much a reflection of the complexities of society and government. January 21, 2017. Go to story.

James Stockdale, "a giant of a patriotic American," a "real scrappy guy"

Americans love heroes, that's for sure. One of our problems is we don't always appreciate who most of our real heroes are or were. Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale, USN (Ret.) died on July 5, and is one of those great American heroes of all time. At his funeral aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, Admiral Vern Clark, the Chief of Naval Operations, said, “Admiral Stockdale challenged the human limits of moral courage, physical endurance and intellectual bravery, emerging victorious as a legendary beacon for all to follow.” December 16, 2016. Go to story.

The rescue of Capt. Roger Locher, Oyster 01 Bravo

Back in May 2012, I published a story entitled, “Loss of Oyster One: The “Bloodiest Day.” It highlighted events that began on May 10, 1972 involving Major Bob Lodge, USAF. On that day, he and his “back-seater” and Weapons System Officer Capt. Roger Locher, USAF flew their F-4 Phantom II jet fighter over North Vietnam on a MiG CAP (combat air patrol mission). They were the lead aircraft of Oyster Flight; a flight of four. Lodge’s personal call-sign was “Oyster 01 Alpha," verbalized as Oyster Zero One Alpha.” Locher’s personal call-sign was “Oyster 01 Bravo, verbalized as Oyster Zero One Bravo.” The North Vietnamese shot their aircraft down.

Locher successfully bailed out while Lodge was killed when his aircraft crashed into the ground. Locher (shown in this photo shortly after being rescued) was rescued on June 2, 1972 by American forces west of Hanoi in what was among the most harrowing rescue missions of the war. He was rescued on Day 23 after spending 22 days on the ground escaping and evading the enemy.

A former USAF navigator and pilot, Ross “Buck” Buchanan contacted me on November 25, 2016. He was the pilot of an A-1 “Skyraider” from the 1st Special Operations Squadron (SOS), Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base, “NKP,” for the mission that would rescue Locher.

Buck later presented a briefing about the Locher rescue to a group of mostly “older” pilots, who were members of the Daedalians organization and their wives in Great Falls, Montana. He has been kind enough to provide the briefing to me so that I can present it to you on “Talking Proud”. My purpose here is to convey Buck’s briefing of the rescue of Oyster 01 Bravo, Capt. Roger Locher, USAF. It is presented here. This is his story. December 2, 2016.
Go to story.

Miss Linnie Leckrone, "the heart of a true nurse," WWI

This story will highlight Miss Linnie E. Leckrone, Army Nurse Corps (ANC), WWI, at the Battle of Château-Thierry, France, in July 1918. But the story is not just about her. Miss Leckrone was one of the many heroines of this war, caring for so many of the soldiers whose daily companions were death, stench, rot and futility. I can only give you a taste of these horrors, and supreme valor, backbone and spirit. She has been a lightning rod for me to better understand better what she and so many others might have endured during one of the most brutal wars in history. My objective here is to try to imagine what they experienced, and therefore what Miss Leckrone might have experienced. So I am going to focus a lot on WWI as it affected her and her colleagues, and we'll try to better understand some of the major medical challenges they faced. November 24, 2016. Go to story