Saturday, May 6, 2017

Wings of Valor : Navigator

The role of the pilot was to get the plane off the ground and into the air. [wings shown last post]  Once airborne, the navigator was to get them where they were assigned.  The wings worn by the one who controlled the course of the plain is shown below.


There was a special symbol placed in the center of the wings.  It seems to have been the symbol of a gyrocompass of sorts.  This was a compass consisting of a continuously driven gyroscope whose spinning axis is confined to a horizontal plane so that the earth's rotation causes it to assume a position parallel to the earth's axis and thus point to the true north.  True north indeed it is.



Are there any folks out there who might be able to better explain this symbol and its meaning?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wings of Valor : Pilot

Valor can be defined as strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness.  The U.S. Army Air Forces, June 1941 to September 1947, gave qualification badges to those who were active among the various Air Forces [1st Air Force to 20th Air Force] who participated in WWII.  These came to be called "wings" and  represented the various roles the individual had among the air crews.  The following posts will show these worn by the air crews.

The first is that of the "Pilot".


Wings centered by a shield.  In bomber groups this would also be worn by the Co-Pilot.  These were formed from sterling silver, and the words "sterling" appears on the back side in very small print.

According to the text by A. Timothy Warnock, the United States Air Force was first called "the Aeronautical Division, U.S. Army Signal Corps" from August 1907 to July 1914.  It was then called "Aviation Section, U.S. Army Signal Corps" from July 1914 to May 1918.  It was then described as "U.S. Army Air Service" from May 1918 to July 1926.  This was changed to "U.S. Army Air Corps" from July 1926 to June 1941.  During WWII, it was the "U.S. Army Air Forces" from June 1941 until September 1947 when it was formed into a distinct branch of service the United States Air Force (USAF).  The wings to be shown are from the WWII period of valor.

Ref. : United States Air Force Combat Medals, Streamers, and Campaigns, by A. Timothy Warnock, Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1990.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Almost 40

Looking back in time is usually the major part of a genealogist's activity.   Family ancestors uncovered, and their story recorded is often the goal.  Today however... in the present... finding this picture of my oldest as a child, brought to mind the realization that she is about to turn 40. 


Here she stands.  Hair blown, investigating everything around her, it was difficult at times even to get her to stand still long enough for a picture.  This must have been one of those days.  A birdhouse with Cardinal was in front leading the way. [Kentucky State bird it is.]  That look of ..."what's next"...graces the face.  Wow...almost 40 years ago.   The future is still being explored, and the present is still being lived.  Hum...more family stories to be written.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Kentucky Barns

For a nine year old, the 1950s in Central Kentucky had a few things certain.   Church on Sundays, getting spanked at home if you got spanked at school, the "Voice" of the Kentucky Wildcats   [Cawood Ledford], and tobacco barns.  You know those stately, wood, black painted structures that had all those openings along the sides, and a shining metal roof.  A Sunday drive around the Bluegrass country side seeing tobacco growing in every field, would certainly need somewhere to resided after being cut.  On long drives, you could count the barns you observed while hanging out one of the back windows.

Here is all that remains today...


Time has past.  The tobacco fields are long gone.  Most of the remaining barns look somewhat like the one above.  Not what you would call "stately". 

Friday, January 6, 2017

WWII American Defense Service Medal

Defending America prior to the onset of WWII began on September 8, 1939 following a national emergency proclamation.  Of course it ended on December 7, 1941, but the following medal was awarded to members of the United States armed forces for service during this period.

On the obverse (front) stands a female figure representing Liberty.  She is holding a shield and brandishing a sword.  She stands on a live oak branch with its branches terminating in four leaves representing the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.  "American Defense" is lettered above.  The ribbon is yellow with narrow red, white, and blue stripes near each edge. 

Several clasps were awarded with the medal. [Two claps are shown on the medal above.]  The Navy and Marine Corps each had two clasps, with the "Fleet" clasp awarded for service on vessels of the fleet.  The "Base" clasp was for service on shore at bases and naval stations outside the continental limits of the United States. [This included Alaska and Hawaii at the time.]


On the reverse (back) the inscription "For Service during the Limited Emergency Proclaimed by the President on 8 September 1939 or during the limited emergency proclaimed by the President on 27 May 1941" is given.  Below this inscription is a spray of seven leaves.

Note: the Army had a "Foreign Service" clasp for service outside the continental limits of the United States, and the Coast Guard authorized a "Sea" clasp.  Also, personnel of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard who served on board certain vessels operating in actual combat were entitled to a bronze "A" on the medal ribbon.

References:

American War Medals and Decorations, by Evans E. Kerrigan, The Viking Press, N.Y., 1964.

The Call of Duty : Military Awards and Decorations of The United States of America, by John E. Strandberg and Roger James Bender, 1994.

Guidebook of U.S. Medals : A complete guide to the decorations and awards of the United States from 1782 to present, by Evans E. Kerrigan, Medallic Publishing, 1990.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Dog Bites

Family stories were always part of our annual "get together".  Each holiday season our JONES group of folks would gather to exchange some of the last years special events.  When uncle Malcolm, uncle Gayle, and my Dad got to talking, dog stories always seem to enter the equation. This was expected of course since all three worked at our Winchester post office.  In these stories "dogs" were the ones who seized with the teeth or jaws so as to enter, grip, or wound any of these three gentlemen listed above.  Each would have their own dog stories to keep the family up to date on their appointed rounds.  Dad carried just about every postal route in the town, and completed his days as a "Rural  Letter Carrier".  [Some forty years to be exact.]  At any rate, the following picture was taken on one of those rural letter days:


A bird in the box instead of a dog bite on the legs.  Don't remember any stories being told about this mail box delivery.  You've heard the motto : "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds".  Well this was mostly true for my Dad expect for dog bites, and this bird in the mail box.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

WWII U.S. Campaign Medals (3)

This post gives the third "Campaign Medal" which recognized the global nature of WWII involving hundreds of engagements and campaigns fought by American service personnel.  The following medal called "American Campaign Medal" was awarded for service within the American Theater between December 7, 1941 and March 2, 1946.


The obverse [front] depicts a Navy cruiser under full steam with a B-24 bomber flying overhead.  A sinking enemy submarine above three waves is shown under these symbols of America's coastal defenses.  In the background are some buildings representing "the arsenal of democracy". 


The reverse [back] shows an American bald eagle facing left, standing "defiantly" on a rock symbolizing democracy.  The dates 1941 - 1945 are shown along with the words "United States of America".  [This is the same for all of the campaign medals shown before.]

The colors shown on the ribbon have four wide azure blue strips.  The center stripe of dark blue, white, and red represent the United States.  Near each side are narrow stripes of white, red, black.  The red and white represent Japan, and the black and white represent Germany.

References:
American War Medals and Decorations, by Evans E. Kerrigan, p. 97
Guidebook of U.S. Medals, by Evans E. Kerrigan, p. 191.
United States Air force Combat Medals, Steamers, and Campaigns, by A. Timothy Warnock, p.50-55.
The Call of Duty : Military Awards and Decorations of The United States of America, by John E. Strandberg and Roger James Bender, p.205.