We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
December 7, 1941. The Pacific Clipper, Queen of Pan American Airways fleet of flying boats is 6 days out of San Francisco, bound for Auckland, New Zealand. Captain Robert Ford receives a coded message: Japanese attack Pearl Harbor...Implement War Plan A...Proceed to Auckland, NZ...Maintain radio silence...Wait for instructions...Your aircraft is a strategic resource-it must not fall into enemy hands under any circumstances
Pan American Airways bases all across the Pacific were captured. Returning to the US west coast by the Pacific Clipper did not seem possible. A week of waiting, then another coded message:
DEC 14, 1941: Do not return to Hawaii. Do not return to US west coast...Strip aircraft of all markings and identification...proceed west...maintain radio silence...deliver aircraft to Marine Terminal, LaGuardia, NY. Good luck.
As a sidenote, a year or so before the war my father, right out of high school, had gotten a job as a baggage handler for Pan American and was working at the seaplane terminal at Ke'ehi Lagoon in Honolulu (near Pearl Harbor), which was where the Clippers landed and took off.
Shortly after Pearl Harbor, Pan Am was nationalized for the war effort. One day a naval officer showed up unexpectedly at the terminal and began handing out Navy sailor suits to all the employees, including my Dad, and they were all informed, "You're in the Navy now!" Shortly after that they all had to line up in their new uniforms and were inspected by one of the admirals. My Dad said he was so nervous, he was sure he was going to get court-martialed for doing something wrong during inspection.
My Dad kept on working the same job he had as a civilian (but now as a Navy petty officer), and after the war he then had money under the GI Billl to go get his college degree from Berkeley. So in a way, my Dad really lucked out compared to what a lot of other young men went through in the war.
This is a fascinating story, Gwynnie and Bird Dog, especially to those of us who were alive and observant during the Second World War. I had always envied those folks who could afford to fly on the Pan American Clippers, surely the most luxurious way to travel by air just before the War. But this story is a thriller indeed, about heroes who could improvise on their feet and who were determined to get back to their country to serve and protect it.
I would really love to know what happened to those guys who brought back the plane. Did they go into other branches of the military service? Did they survive alive? Did the government recognize their achievement with awards or medals? It would be nice to know.
Meanwhile, I'll just award them some medals of my own, medals for courage and patriotism.
I'm with you MM, both for the curiosity and also for the mental medals (for which you also qualify.
Remember, however, that in those days people who did their jobs and well were not awarded medals. It was expected of them. Nowadays the majority of medals are just for being there or staying around a few years.
Let's look at the order of precedence of military ribbons today, going down from the Medal of Honor:
2 heroism medals
2 service medals
1 heroism medal
2 service medals
3 heroism medals
1 purple heart
13 service medals
and then all the campaign participation medals like the Vietnam Service Medal (which I have)
Generals who have never left the USA have more medals that Eisenhower or Patton could have imagined - simply a cheaper currency.