Tag Archives: Veterans

54th Troop Carrier Wing and the 11th Airborne Division

Thanks to both GP Cox, (Pacific Paratrooper) and IHRA.  This is one of GP’s “Intermission” stories, so visit his page and IHRA for info on the CBI (China-Burma-India) theater, and other neglected areas which have undeservedly been in a backwater.

The 54th Troop Carrier Wing was established on 26 February 1943 [one day after the 11th A/B Div. at Camp MacKall] and commenced air transport and medical air evacuation operations in support of Fifth Air Force on 26 May 1943. advancing as battle lines permitted.

The unit took part in the airborne invasion of Nadzab, New Guinea in September 1943 by dropping the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, as well as Australian engineers and heavy equipment.

The wing employed C-47’s almost exclusively, but during late 1943 and much of 1944 also used 13 converted B-17E’s for armed transport missions in enemy-held territory. The 54th supported every major advance made by the allies in the Southwest Pacific Theater operating from primitive airstrips carved from jungles and air-dropping cargo where airstrips unavailable.

In July 1944, the wing dropped 1,418 paratroopers on Noemfoor Island to aid the allied invasion forces. Then assumed the task of handling all freight and personnel moving in troop carrier aircraft in the Southwest Pacific, in addition to scheduled and unscheduled air movement of cargo and troops, and air evacuation of wounded personnel.

Click on red link for much more on the 54th.


Heller Takes Issue with VA Secretary’s Flippant Comparison of Vets’ Wait Times at VA

Found this while making corrections on older posts.  Respect our Veterans! Watch the video posted after this letter to the VA Secretary.

May 23, 2016

Heller Takes Issue with VA Secretary’s Flippant Comparison of Vets’ Wait Times at VA

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Dean Heller sent the following letter to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald expressing strong disgust and disagreement with the Secretary’s recent comments comparing the wait times of veterans at VA health care facilities to those of visitors at Disney theme parks.

Full text of letter to Secretary McDonald:

The Honorable Robert McDonald

Secretary of Veterans Affairs

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

810 Vermont Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20420

Dear Secretary McDonald,

I write to you extremely concerned about the comments you made on May 23, 2016, comparing the length of time veterans wait to receive health care at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to the length of time people wait for rides at Disneyland.  Not only am I concerned about the flippant nature of your comparison but also the fact that you said that your agency should not use wait times as a measure of success because Disney does not either.  As a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I believe it is my responsibility to follow up with you on the gravity of this issue as it critical to ensure that Veterans across my state are receiving the care they were promised in an expedient manner.

When men and women across our nation committed to serving America and risking their lives to protect us, our country promised that, in return, we would care for these service members upon their return home.  This is not a Disney fairytale Mr. Secretary, this is reality.  Recent statistics from Nevada show nearly 10,000 VA appointments remain scheduled over 30 days from the requested date.  Given the issues that Nevada’s Veterans continue to face accessing VA health care, I do not believe that promise has been kept.  Just a few weeks ago, I heard from a Nevada veteran’s wife about the difficulty she faced scheduling a cardiology appointment for her husband.  When there are life-threatening issues that can make or break a veterans’ health, waiting is not an option, and Nevada’s veterans deserve better.

Time and time again, I have called for accountability at your agency, and I strongly believe that it should start with the top.  This is why your comments were not only disrespectful but harmful to ensuring that there will be any real change at the VA when it comes to the timeliness of health care appointment wait times.  When you came before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee for your confirmation, you promised accountability. Yet two years later, your agency has not only failed to meet the expectations of veterans, Congress, and the American public, but you have now walked back your commitments to those who served. Comparing the health and well-being of veterans to an amusement ‎park is not amusing and is absolutely unacceptable. In issuing your comments, I believe you exhibited a severe lack in judgement drawing into question your ability to provide accountability within your agency, as well as your ability to fulfill the VA’s commitment to Nevada’s veterans.  That is why I respectfully request answers to the following questions:

  • Does the VA remain committed to providing appointments to veterans within 30 days of the request?

  • What are the current VA appointment wait times for veterans in Nevada and nationwide?

  • For each fiscal year since implementation of the Choice Act, how many VA health care beneficiaries are obtaining appointments through the Choice Program as a result of an appointment wait time of 30 days or more?

  • How do you explain to veterans that you believe their wait time for care is just as important as a wait time at an amusement park?

  • When did your view on appointment wait times change to the point that you believe wait time should not even be a measure for the VA?

  • Do you believe that the VA cannot achieve both timely and quality care simultaneously?

  • Do you believe you are still fit to serve and advocate on behalf of veterans as the VA Secretary if you aren’t prioritizing the timeliness of their health care—the very reason you became Secretary in the midst of the 2014 VA health care scandal?

Thank you for attention to this serious matter, and I respectfully request a response to this letter by May 30, 2016.


                                                                  DEAN HELLER

                                                                  U.S. Senator

Permalink: http://www.heller.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2016/5/heller-takes-issue-with-va-secretary-s-flippant-comparison-of-vets-wait-times-at-va

Veteran Interview Rick Brown – Veteran Tales Project

The gentleman interviewed passed on in 2013.  I call your immediate attention to his revealing statement about 35:30 thru 37:31 in the interview.

For this reason, I posted it on Partnering With Eagles under Constitutional Issues, instead of People.

Brits had to give up their guns in 1965 (!); I had no idea that this occurred so long ago.

This statement is a stern warning to us with Government intent on destroying our second amendment.

From Erik Johnston’s YouTube channel:

Published on Sep 10, 2012

To purchase this on dvd, email me at veterantales@gmail.com

This is an interview with RAF Pilot Rick Brown. Rick flew planes such as the Hurricane, P-51, Sterling Bomber, and the Horsa Glider. He was also an infintry man and explains what it was like to live in London while the Germans were bombing the city.

From WPT – Vietnam War Stories

From Wisconsin Public Television –

Vietnam Veterans Recount Their War Experiences – This is part II of a three part documentary; Link to site documentary below videos.

Part 2: Turning Point

As the war waged on, scenes of deadly attacks are juxtaposed with the American public’s increasing animosity toward the war. The Tet Offensive shocked both soldiers and the world due to previous beliefs that the enemy was incapable of such an effort of massive military force. Veterans reflect on the staggering casualties in Vietnam, and describe their own modes of coping with the reality of war.


Entire series here:   http://wpt.org/Wisconsin-War-Stories/vietnam-war-stories/main

Interview with Retired Brig. General Robert L. Scott – American World War II Ace Pilot and Hero

“The sun was going down now, even from our vantage point up there at twenty-five thousand, where Holloway and I were patrolling.  We called to the other ships to land, and as we saw them go into the Lufbery circle and the rat race that fighter pilots like to land from, Holloway rolled over and dove straight for the ground.  I started to roll with him–then I turned back for one more look at the setting sun.  Down on the earth, to those earthbound creatures, the sun was down.  There the shadows of the approaching night covered the ground, but up here I could see above the mountains, and the sun still shone on my fighter.  I pulled almost straight up in the steep climb that I like to make before diving home, and looked into the vivid blue of the Yunnan skies.  Some verses were running through my thoughts.  Against the drumming of the engine I heard my own voice repeating the words of another fighter pilot, John Magee, who has died with the RAF in the battle of Britain.”

“Up, up the long delirious burning blue

I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace

Where never lark, or even eagle flew,

And while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod

The high untresspassed sanctity of space,

Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.”


Their world was so far removed from the one I knew, when I first read a copy of God Is My Co-Pilot.  The world now, makes that time seem as if it were a distant dream; a reality the millennials, as they have been labeled,  couldn’t begin to understand.  I made this link to an online copy of Scott’s book; for your perusal. USE the magnifying glass symbol to turn the pages of the book. It is the second of many personal accounts I read, by people who have now “gone home”.  Scott passed away on Feb 27th, 2006, at age 97.  Below is an excerpt from the interview with him:

During World War II, Robert L. Scott’s name was synonymous with the U.S. Army Air Forces. Born in 1908 in Waynesboro, Georgia, and reared in nearby Macon, Scott developed a fascination for flying at the age of four when he saw his first airplane. He became famous in World War II for his daring exploits in China with Brigadier General Claire Chennault’s Flying Tigers, and was dubbed ‘a one-man air force.’

Credited with shooting down 22 enemy aircraft, Scott was awarded three Silver Stars, three Distinguished Flying Crosses and five Air Medals. His fame was enhanced by his first of 12 books, God Is My Co-Pilot, which inspired a hit movie that still runs from time to time on television.

Today, at a very vigorous 87, Brig. Gen. Scott is national director of the board of the Museum of Aviation, in Warner Robins, Georgia. Founded in 1984, the museum displays 85 aircraft spanning the entire history of flight. Almost every day Scott can be found working in his office, which is full of memorabilia from his long and distinguished career, including a large tiger-skin rug with ferocious fangs on the floor in front of his desk. A tall, slender man, Scott answers questions about his World War II experiences with the zeal of a young boy recounting some adventure he just had.

WWII: During World War II your flying exploits were well-known nationwide. How did your interest in planes begin?

Scott: Mama said that when I was 4 she took me to Central City Park in Macon, Georgia, to see a demonstration of a plane flying. The flier’s name was Eugene B. Ely. He crashed and burned that day. I dragged my mother by the hand to see the dead pilot in the cockpit, and she said that from that day all I ever wanted to do was fly.

WWII: What other early adventures did you have?

Scott: I was in Scouting, and I wanted to get the aviation merit badge. The requirements included building a model plane that could fly 75 feet. Hell, I wanted to do more than that, so I made a glider large enough to hold a man. We tried to tow it with a Ford automobile, but the police ran me off the road, so I decided to try to fly it from some high point. There was a very large two-story house on Napier Avenue, in Macon, owned by Mrs. Bessie Napier. I asked her if my friends and I could fly my plane from the top of her house. She naturally thought that we were referring to some small, hand-held plane. We had to hoist it up on the roof with a pulley attached to a 4-by-4 we put on the roof. I jumped off the roof strapped in the plane and managed to fly about 40 feet before the main spar broke at the point where there was a knot in the pine 2-by-4 I had used. I fell down more than 60 feet into a Cherokee rose bush. I was picking thorns out of myself for days!

WWII: When did you get your first plane?

Scott: I bought it at the age of 13. They were auctioning off a number of World War I surplus Curtiss JN-4 Jennys, over near Americus, Georgia, and I bought one of them. As soon as the auctioning opened, I blurted out ’75 dollars,’ because that was all the money that I had, but I was outbid by several hundred dollars by a man in the back who continued to outbid me on other planes. Finally, he came up to me and said: ‘Look, kid. Buy your one plane for $75 and get on out of here. I’m buying for an airline.’ That’s how I came to own my first plane.

WWII: How did you learn to fly it?

Scott: I was taught by a local streetcar conductor — I’ve forgotten his name — who taught me in Central City Park, where the flier had been killed when I was 4.

WWII: You graduated from West Point, but it seems that you attended a little later in life than most cadets. Why was that?

Scott: I had not taken enough of the proper courses in high school to gain admission, so after several tries I went back to high school to take the necessary subjects, math mainly.

WWII: How did you get along with the other cadets?

Scott: I was popular with the upperclassmen because I could already fly and many wanted to learn. They would come to my room for flying lessons. We would put two straight-back chairs together, one in front of the other, pretending they were the seats in the cockpit of a plane. That was my classroom.

WWII: After graduation from West Point, you were admitted to the Army Air Corps. Where did you go for training?

Scott: I went to Randolph Field, Texas. My teacher was Robert H. Terrell, who taught us to take off and land into the wind. Truman H. Landon was another of my teachers. He later became a four-star general. He told me that I was too rough on the controls. You were expected to solo after only four hours of flying with an instructor. They only wanted men who had confidence in themselves. When they asked you so early if you thought you were ready to solo and you showed any hesitation, they washed you out. It was the screening process.

WWII: I expect you were an eager student.

Scott: Yes. I tried to anticipate what Lieutenant Landon would say even before he said it. Once I thought he said, ‘Dive.’ We were at a low altitude for diving, but I tried to please. As we went into the dive, he took the controls and brought us over the trees into a cotton field. He said to me, ‘Scott, what in blazes were you trying to do? I said, ‘Glide.”  Another time, he got out of the front seat with his parachute after a few rough landings, and I knew he thought I was good enough to do my first solo. Yet as he got out of the plane, he commented that he wasn’t going to let me kill him while I practiced. He told me that when returning I was to land as close to him as possible. I tried to do what he wanted. I could have landed right on top of him. Yet he threw his parachute down and ran. After I passed, I looked back and I thought I saw him waving. Waving your hand meant to come around again. I later learned that he was shaking his fist at me. I came around on him again and landed near the hangar about a mile from where I left him. He had to walk back. I later realized what I had done, but my ship had been taken by another student, so I couldn’t go get him. When he finally walked up, he said as he passed me, ‘It’s kinda hot out there.’ The next day after a lesson he took me down at the exact spot where I had left him the day before. He told me to get out of the plane and he would show me what he wanted me to do. He blew dust all over me taking off, and three times buzzed me, making me run like hell. Then he landed near me and taxied to the hangars, leaving me with the long, hot walk back with my parachute. The next day I soloed again, but this time I didn’t forget to go back and pick him up.

REMAINDER of this interview at:


“They fought two wars: One against the Nazis abroad; one against racism at home.”

In posts by Pacific Paratrooper, and IHRA, [International Historical Research Associates] I gain insight into many of the triumphs and tragedies that abounded in the Pacific Theater of WWII.  Pacific Paratrooper ends his posts with a section labeled “Farewell Salutes”.  Reading the names always causes a twinge of sadness; they represent the last group of those folks Tom Brokaw called “The Greatest Generation”.

Here is another of those, one who had to “Fight to be able to fight” for his country; a fellow who flew bombers, not the fighters associated with Tuskegee Airmen. Indeed, JP; they all are due a Farewell Salute. From the Dana Point Times:

Mitch Higginbotham: Tuskegee Airman, Longtime DP Resident Dies at 94












WWII Tuskegee Airman and longtime Dana Point resident passed away on Feb. 14 in Rancho Mirage. Higginbotham proudly donned his red Tuskegee Airman jumpsuit for a 2010 interview with the Dana Point Times for a cover story written about him. Photo: Christina Scannapiego

By Andrea Swayne

Longtime Dana Point resident and World War II Tuskegee Airman, Mitchell “Mitch” Higginbotham, died on Sunday, Feb. 14 in Rancho Mirage. He was 94 and would have celebrated his 95th birthday on March 2.

A 16-year resident of The Fountains at Sea Bluff, the popular and civically active veteran moved to a nursing home in Rancho Mirage about two years ago to be closer to his brother Robert, also a Tuskegee Airman.

Mitch Higginbotham gets a visit at his Rancho Mirage nursing home from longtime Dana Point friend Willa Porter. Photo: Pete Hammer

Mitch Higginbotham enjoys a Feb. 8 visit at his Rancho Mirage nursing home from longtime Dana Point friend Willa Porter. Pete Hammer was also along for the visit and snapped this picture.

“Mitch was well-thought-of and highly-regarded by everyone here at The Fountains,” said Terry Brown, executive director at The Fountains. “He always had a moment for anybody who wanted to talk with him and would never hesitate to have an opinion on any topic, whether politics, the Lakers—which he loved—or his experiences during the war. He was missed from the moment he left Dana Point.”

As a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, the United States’ first all-black aerial combat unit trained in Tuskegee, Ala. at the Tuskegee Institute Airfield, 2nd Lieutenant Higginbotham and his fellow airmen played an early role in breaking down the racial segregation of African Americans in the Armed Forces.

He was assigned to the 477th Bombardment Group (medium) and served in active duty from 1942 to 1946 and then in the reserves until 1962.

Higginbotham served as a consultant to movie director George Lucas for the 2011 movie, Red Tails, a historical fiction film telling the stories of Tuskegee Airmen. A 1995 HBO movie also chronicled the Red Tails’ story and was promoted with the tagline: “They fought two wars: One against the Nazis abroad/One against racism at home.”

WWII Tuskegee Airman and longtime Dana Point resident passed away on Feb. 14 in Rancho Mirage. Higginbotham proudly donned his red Tuskegee Airman jumpsuit for a 2010 interview with the Dana Point Times for a cover story written about him. Photo: Christina Scannapiego

WWII Tuskegee Airman and longtime Dana Point resident passed away on Feb. 14 in Rancho Mirage. Higginbotham proudly donned his red Tuskegee Airman jumpsuit for a 2010 interview with the Dana Point Times for a cover story written about him. Photo: Christina Scannapiego

Following WWII, Higginbotham earned a master’s degree in labor relations from the University of Colorado and then went to work at the Urban League of Pittsburg. He was also employed at the Greater Pittsburgh Airport before relocating to Los Angeles where he worked as an LA County probation officer until retirement.

“Mitch was a walking piece of history and a hero we in Dana Point were fortunate to have in our midst for so many years,” said friend Pete Hammer. “He will be sorely missed. May Mitch fly high with the angels and rest in peace—my hero.”

Higginbotham is survived by his brother Robert (also a Tuskegee Airman), sister-in-law Margaret and two nephews, Robert and Michael.

Higginbotham will be buried at the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial of the Greater Pittsburg Region in the Sewickley Cemetery in his hometown of Sewickley, Penn. Seven Tuskegee Airmen hailed from Sewickley. Higginbotham will be the first to be buried at the memorial. A formal Tuskegee Memorial service will be held there in May. A private memorial service will also be held in Rancho Mirage.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations in memory of Mitchell L. Higginbotham be made to the Tuskegee Airmen National Scholarship Fund, he and his brother helped found. For more information about the fund, call 213.742.9541 or visit www.taisf.org .

To learn more about Higginbotham, see the 2010 cover story profile on Higginbotham below.   Note – This image can be read by clicking on it HERE

The article was commented on, and noted under the image.  X.














Ron Brewington

February 21, 2016 at 8:12 pm

Greetings…I’m Ron Brewington, a Tuskegee Airmen historian. While reading the article about the passing of Tuskegee Airman Mitch Higginbotham, I noted an error in paragraph 4, sentence 2 : “..was one of the 450 of the airmen, nicknamed Red Tails…” – Not true – Higginbotham was a twin bomber pilot, not a fighter pilot. There were 355, not 450, fighter pilots who served overseas in combat. Higginbotham was not one of those pilots, who were nicknamed “Red Tails.”

I also noted an error in paragraph 5: “He was assigned to the 477th Bomber Group…” – Not true – He was assigned to the 477th Bombardment (Medium) Group.

  • Dana Point Times

    February 22, 2016 at 4:14 pm #

    Thanks Ron.