Category Archives: Loose thoughts and musings

The Doolittle Raid: 30 Seconds that Changed the Course of the Pacific War

padresteve:

Friends of Padre Steve’s World, I am tired tonight. I expect to be doing a couple of Gettysburg articles as well as articles dealing with the Nuremberg Trials and military ethics in the coming days. However because of my almost exclusive focus on Holy Week I have written very little of anything else. Unfortunately there was a lot of other stuff going on as well as some significant anniversaries of historical events. One of those events was the Tokyo Raid where 16 Army Air Force B-25 Mitchell bombers commanded by Colonel Jimmy Doolittle flew off of the deck of the USS Hornet to attack Tokyo. Militarily the attack was insignificant and merely a pin-prick against a hitherto undefeated Japanese offensive in the Pacific. However, it was an event that changed the course of the war and of history. This is the tribute that I wrote last year about these brave men. Peace, Padre Steve+

Originally posted on Padresteve's World...Musings of a Passionate Moderate:

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This week marks the 71st anniversary of the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo. 80 US Army Air Corps flyers manning 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers conducted a mission from the deck of the USS Hornet CV-8which though it caused little damage changed the course of World War Two in the Pacific.

The genus of the strike came from the desire of President Franklin Roosevelt to bomb Japan as soon as possible during a meeting just prior to Christmas 1941. Various aircraft types were considered and in the end the military chose the B-25 because it had the requisite range and had the best characteristics. Aircraft and their crews from the 17th Bomb Group which had the most experience with the aircraft were modified to meet the mission requirements. Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle was selected to lead the mission.

Once the aircraft were ready they and their crews reported to Eglin Field…

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New Troubles: An Empty Tomb and a Political Cover Up

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This is the third chapter of the redone second part of a trilogy that I have been writing about the Roman Centurion

known as Longinus who was at the cross when Jesus was crucified. I have tried to weave other characters from the Gospel narratives, including the Centurion whose “beloved servant” was healed by Jesus an account mentioned in both Matthew and Luke, where the Greek word for servant “pais” is only found in these accounts and is different from the word commonly used in the New Testament “doulos.” The difference leads to some interesting and potentially powerful understandings about the people that Jesus interacted during his earthly ministry.

The reason I am doing this is because I believe that many Christians cannot imagine what it must have felt like to be the Roman occupiers of Judea in a time where they were hated and deep divisions, religious, cultural and political complicated the lives of Roman officers like the Centurion known as Longinus.”

I do hope that you enjoy the series and that it and the Gospel narratives challenge you whether you are a Christian or not. I know from my time in Iraq serving with our advisors to the Iraqi forces that what the Roman officers dealt with was more difficult than any of us could imagine, unless you have been a soldier or officer of an occupying power.

Peace and Happy Easter…He is Risen!

Padre Steve+

The pounding on his door awakened Longinus before he expected on this day after the Jewish Passover. He was hoping perhaps beyond hope that the worst was over and that in a few days he could take his soldiers back to the confines of Caesarea and away from the troubled city of Jerusalem. He was tired of this duty and longed for service with a real Legion with real Roman soldiers. He wiped the sleep from his eyes and went to the door of his quarters in Fortress Antonia. He opened the door to find his Optimo, or second in command Decius, with a look of near panic on his face.

He asked the young officer to come into his quarters and take a seat at his table. They like the other officers had seen events that they could barely explain. some of those events had troubled Longinus in a manner in which he was not accustomed.

Longinus took a wineskin and poured the contents into two cups. He asked Decius what was so urgent and frightening that he had to be at his quarters well before the duty day began. The young man took off his helmet to reveal a crop of blondish brown hair common to the Tyrol in the northern part of Italy and told an almost unbelievable story. He explained that there was trouble at the tomb of the itinerant preacher named Jesus.

The two guards from their unit who had relieved the previous watch at the tomb had evidently fallen asleep and there had been a break in. They claimed that they had been overcome when some kind of angelic being who had descended in front of them and some of the women who had been at the execution site previously. The story seemed preposterous but Longinus could not believe that they had fallen asleep on duty either as such could be punished by a death sentence. Adding to the confusion was a report that two of the preacher’s “disciples” had reportedly entered the tomb and claimed that the body was gone as had some of the women that had been there at the crucifixion. It was unbelievable but yet in light of the strangeness of the man and his execution. Longinus had Decius bring the two soldiers to him along with the Sergeant of the Guard to explain what had happened.

The two soldiers, one a Samaritan and the other a Greek had good reputations in the unit. Neither had given him cause for concern and the terrified expression on their faces as they explained what happened gave Longinus reason to believe them. Yes it was possible that they were lying but Longinus believed their story. He threatened them and promised a light punishment if they only told the truth, but despite this they stuck with this outrageous story.

Longinus was not much of a believer in miracles angels or any sort of magic hocus pocus purveyed by seers, magicians or fortune tellers. When his friend Flavius had told him about his servant being healed by the Jesus fellow he found it hard to accept. That being the case here he was believing this outlandish story. It was preposterous, but he could not accept the alternative.  To disbelieve the would mean that there was a serious breakdown of discipline by two outstanding soldiers. He had some soldiers that he wouldn’t believe for an Athenian minute if they told him such a tale but he believed these men. The terror on their face as they told the story led Longinus to believe that they had to be telling the truth as improbable as it was.

Longinus again thought of his words as the darkness enfolded the city and the earth quaked preacher hung dying on the cross on that evil hill just two days before.

Longinus went to Pilate’s headquarters when he and the other Centurions, including his friend Flavius were participants in a meeting with the High Priest and his representatives and two of Herod’s people.

The meeting reminded him of a meeting of criminals. The High Priest and his representatives were livid and Herod’s henchmen voiced their displeasure regarding the lapse of the Roman soldiers that allowed this to happen. Longinus spoke up for his men and said that as improbable as it was that he believed their story. That only made the non-Romans angrier; he almost thought that they were engaging Pilate in yet another histrionic episode in order to force Pilate to do their bidding. They insisted that Longinus’ soldiers had to have fallen asleep and or that they had conspired with the preacher’s followers to remove the body from the tomb. This angered Longinus to the point that he interrupted their ranting to defend his men’s honor. Pilate finally ordered Longinus and the High Priest to be silent. He asked the non-Romans to step outside while he conferred with Longinus and the other Centurions.

Pilate explained his dilemma. He was afraid that if he sent the High Priest away by supporting his soldiers that there would be a revolt in the streets. He had seen the tumult on the streets by the supporters of the High Priest when he tried to release the “King of the Jews” and felt that this would be worse for security. He advised the Centurions that while he had no reason to doubt them or their men that he had to placate the High Priest and Herod in order to avoid chaos, chaos that could lose him his job if he wasn’t careful. Likewise he did not feel that he had the manpower in the city to handle a full-fledged revolt and that he would have to call for reinforcements from the Legions based in Syria, something that he was loathe to do as this would get back to the Emperor.

Longinus thought back to the day of the execution. Pilate had agreed to place a guard at the tomb at the urging of the High Council. Longinus had argued against placing any soldiers at the tomb as he felt that since the “King of the Jews” them man that he had called the “son of God” was dead that Rome’s obligation was over. The whole thing reeked of politics.

Longinus was overruled by Pilate who explained that Roman soldiers needed to guard the tomb because the High Priest  insisted that Jesus’ followers would attempt to steal the body and claim that he had been raised from the dead to lead a revolt against the Council and eventually Rome itself.

Added to the Judean witches’ cauldron was the presence of Herod Antipas, the corpulent and corrupt “King” of Judea. If Longinus detested Pilate and Caiaphas he hated Herod and all that he stood for, it made him wonder why Roman lives and treasure were spent to solve the problems of this God-forsaken land which he believed would still be trouble two millennia from now if the world lasted that long. Longinus believed that as long as Rome allowed the High Council and Herod to rule the region by proxy that the troubles would never end. He believed that it was only a matter of time before these people, led by the Zealots would revolt as they had against the Seleucids nearly 200 years before. He knew if that happened that Rome would crush the revolt and not leave as much as a house standing. He hated this occupation and all that it stood for, especially when he saw a good man, an innocent man killed for no good reason other than the politics of it all. It sickened him.

When he was done explaining his decision to Longinus and the other Centurions Pilate now called the quite irate non-Romans back into the proceedings. He told the High Priest and Herod’s men that he would disciple the soldiers involved and he would assist them in finding just what parties removed the body from the tomb. In the mean time he would suppress any stories coming from the soldiers about this supposed “resurrection.”

The High Priest and Herod’s men agreed that this would suffice and thanked Pilate for his time and effort. Longinus and the other Centurions quietly seethed as this took place. When the non-Roman parties had left Pilate ensured the officers that no action would be taken against the men and that he would not actively assist the Jews in trying to find the perpetrators of the event. He then let the officer know that they would remain in Jerusalem for another week to allow the multitude of pilgrims to leave the city and then they would return to Caesarea. Longinus thought and for a brief moment admired Pilate’s duplicity. Pilate the consummate politician had again found a way to defuse the situation. As much as he despised the deal it was better than trying to deal with a full fledged rebellion with so few troops available in Jerusalem.

Longinus left with the others and met Decius and Flavius and stepped into the court of the fortress. He was very unhappy with the deal that Pilate made with the High Priest and Herod. He felt that he had dishonored his soldiers and the unit for the sake of political expediency. He felt ashamed of the Empire for what Pilate had done in cooperating with these people from beginning to end during this affair. He would not forget.

When Longinus returned to his quarters he again looked at the blood stained lance and thought about the man who was put to such an ignominious death for such putrid reasons. Surely something had to be different about him. Longinus again mused quietly, “tryuly this was the Son of God…”

Peace and Happy Easter,

Padre Steve+

 

 

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42: Thank God for Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey

padresteve:

Dear Friends of Padre Steve’s World, It is the anniversary of Jackie Robinson taking the field as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 to break the race barrier in Major League Baseball. Unfortunately racism is still alive and well in the United States. It has been 67 years since Robinson took to the field to the mass hysteria and hatred of race baiters in this country and it is now 149 years since the end of the Civil War but racism is still very much alive and well in this country. Jackie Robinson and the owner of the Dodgers in 1947 Branch Rickey put their lives on the line then and unfortunately despite many advances the same may be required again. The battle that these two men entered into in 1947 is still not over. Thus tonight as I remember their legacy I recommit myself to the equality of all Americans. Thank God for Jackie Robinson and Branch RIckey. Peace, Padre Steve+

Originally posted on Padresteve's World...Musings of a Passionate Moderate:

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“Your enemy will be out in force. But you cannot meet him on his own low ground.” Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) in the movie 42

“The right of every American to first-class citizenship is the most important issue of our time.” Jackie Robinson

Tonight I went and saw the movie 42. I have been wanting to see it since before it came out. As anyone who knows me or reads my articles on this website knows I am not only a historian and theologian but maybe more importantly a student of the game of baseball and baseball history. I have written articles on the integration of baseball as well as Jackie Robinson. I have read many books and article about the subject and even still I was unprepared for what I saw tonight. As I watched the movie I found that I was often overcome with tears. That doesn’t happen…

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I Have Been to the Mountain: The Assassination of Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

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Friends of Padre Steve’s World
I posted a short article about how I am doing. But I will also provide a re-run for those who want something more.
Peace, Padre Steve+

Originally posted on Padresteve's World...Musings of a Passionate Moderate:

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“And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats…or talk about the threats that were out… What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers? Well I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. but it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over.and I have seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! And so I am happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I am not…

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Work Work Work…I Missed You…

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Well my friends it is a Sunday night and I am tired. I have been working all week with contractors in my house and after my chapel service this morning I came home and continued to work. Thankfully if everything works out on Wednesday the painters and other contractors will be back to finish the last bits of what we need done and a friend will be over to help install new lighting.

My dog Molly has been a joy, and hopefully in the next few days both of us will have reason to celebrate and chill out.

But anyway since I am too tired to think of anything new to post, though I might put up a re-run of an older post I wish you a good night and good week.

Peace

Padre Steve+

P.S. There is a funny Blazing Saddles message in the title of this post…

<a href=”http://www.hypersmash.com/dreamhost/”>http://www.hypersmash.com/dreamhost/</a&gt;

 

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Dog Tired

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Well my friends not much to say tonight, Just have been too busy with contractors working to repair the damage from our great blown water heater flood of February 3rd.

It has been hard, since that time our lives have been out of kilter, whatever a kilter is. This has also affected our oldest dog Molly, who has not been real happy with the constant changes to her schedule. After I moved her bean bag back to its normal place and put her in it she crashed hard as she had been up and on alert all day.

Today was a really long  day. In  fact, with the exception of grabbing a salad and a couple of beers with friends it has been all work today and tomorrow should be more of the same. At least all the tiling on our first floor will be done and I will know the schedule for the other things that need to happen.

I got rid of a lot of stuff today and though I will be up early tomorrow getting ready I expect things to go well.

Big thanks this week to my neighbor Larry who helped move furniture on Sunday and my buddy Randy who helped me move the big stuff around this afternoon when he got off of work.

Anyway, until tomorrow.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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Another Birthday another Year

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“With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.” William Shakespeare

Well 54 years ago today my mother was recovering from about 20 hours of labor and wondering just what the hell she had gotten herself into. Of course we are celebrating my birthday even though I had nothing to do with it. Not a bad thing if you ask me, since birthdays happens to everybody.

Fifty-four years, wow hard to believe. I’ve lost my hair, my midsection is thicker than it used to be and I can’t see or hear as well as I used to but all that aside I’m not doing too terribly bad for my age. I still woke up this morning on this side of the great eternal dirt nap and didn’t see my name in the obituaries so it’s all good.

Funny thing about birthdays, we don’t get to pick them. I wish my mom had been able to hold out another 5-7 days because then I would have been able to celebrate my birthday on or around Opening Day, which of course should be a national holiday. However, I think that she did enough she had to deal with all of the pain and I don’t remember a thing. Besides she got me here safe and evidently the genetic material that she and my dad donated to the cause is pretty good. My blood pressure and cholesterol levels are better than a lot of people younger than me and I can still run five to six miles in decent time for my age and I can still do a lot of push ups and crunches.

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Birthdays, because they occur every day of the year are always linked to other events, people and anniversaries. The most notable of these for me is the fact that on March 27th 1794 Congress authorized the construction of six frigates, effectively establishing the United States Navy as opposed to the Continental Navy from which we derive our official birthday.

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As far as people I share my birthday with singer Mariah Carey, San Francisco Giants Catcher Buster Posey, Colorado Rockies’ First Baseman Michael Cuddyer, producer and director Quentin Tarantino and Wilhelm Roentgen, the inventor of the X-Ray. I also share a birthday, in fact just a few hours apart with my wife’s best friend Tootsie and her niece Stephanie. When we started dating March 27th was a very busy and expensive day for her.

So what I realize is that when we celebrate our birthday we are actually celebrating someone else’s work and suffering. So thanks mom and dad. Likewise I have learned the value of getting older. The late and great Hall of Fame Manager of the Baltimore Orioles noted “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” I certainly realize that more and more every day.

So anyway, despite dealing with contractors, not getting a lot of sleep and trying to balance out life it has been a happy birthday. I have a wonderful wife, two great dogs and a lot of good friends.

So have a great night and until tomorrow, and if by some chance you are celebrating a birthday too…Happy Birthday!

Peace

Padre Steve+

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A Stressful Day: Contractor Headaches, an Insurance Scare, Busted But Not Broken Brackets and the End of a Conspiracy Theory

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Today has been a stressful day.

We spent the weekend getting ready for the contractors that will be installing the floors after our water heater blew out back the day before the Super Bowl. Since then our home life has been rather unsettled.

We have moved everything from our kitchen, entry way and dining room to our living room. This includes things that since had been stored in our hutch and buffet that a lot of things are stored in are being repaired. Thus we have shit stacked from hell to breakfast in the living room. We also did a bunch of work in our upstairs library and guest room.

So this morning we got up early and waited for the contractors. This was easy for Judy because she couldn’t get to sleep. I slept but had a lot of really strange dreams. But they didn’t come. So after calling the subcontractors office and getting a less than satisfactory answer from the receptionist I drove to work and left a message with the primary contractor. As soon as I got to work I got a message from him that said that they were on their way, so I drove back home to meet them. They didn’t come so I went back to work and at about 1230 I got a text from the main contractor that they would be there between 1230 and 1PM. I let Judy know and about 1:15 I got a text from her saying that they didn’t know what they were there to do and had to call their boss.

I let the main contractor know this and about 2PM I was told that the subcontractor might be on the way to my house, so I headed back in time to see the workmen finished the work of taking up our old kitchen floor tile and the linoleum that the installers had laid it on top of. The subcontractor himself didn’t come and I asked the workers and the primary contractor to tell him to call me so I can plan tomorrow. Finally I got word that they will be back tomorrow to start laying tile between 08300 and 0900 tomorrow morning.

But as soon as we got back home after having dinner at a local Mexican place since we cannot use our kitchen I opened my mail. In it was a letter from my insurance company denying my claim. I was in a panic as I had not planned on spending about 10,000 more than the 2500 that I have already spent for the replacement water heater and my insurance deducible. I called the contact in a panic and got his voice mail. Thankfully he called me back and let me know that the denial was a form letter not for the damage but for the cost of the old water heater which I had not claimed.  That being said my anxiety level went up significantly and two hours later I went and got a couple of beers at Gordon Biersch.

So tomorrow the contracting adventure begins anew and I pray that things will go a bit more smoothly than today. At least I think I know how I can plan my day.

Apart from that things are going swimmingly.

My brackets in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament are broken but not completely busted. I had about 56% wins in the first two rounds and still have three teams that going into the Sweet Sixteen could go all the way. However my MH-370 conspiracy theory went into the tank when it was announced that the aircraft is believed to have crashed in the south Indian Ocean. That being said it is a great conspiracy theory and as one person said it would be a great suspense novel. I can live with that. Who knows maybe I can do it and become the next Tom Clancy.

Tomorrow will be hectic. I will go in early to work and then come home when Judy goes to an appointment and go back to work when she gets back so someone is in the house when the contractors are here. Wednesday will probably be similar and Lord only knows about the rest of the week.

Of course I do have things that I need to do at work despite being on a break between classes. But at least Bates Motelis on tonight.

So until tomorrow,

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

 

 

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The Triumph of Durability: Cal Ripken Jr., Lou Gehrig and the “Unbreakable” Record

padresteve:

Friends of Padre Steve’s World, Sorry but another rerun, this time since baseball is on the horizon one about Cal Ripken Jr and Lou Gehrig. It has been a busy day, we are getting our home ready for contractors who are coming in Monday to replace our floors. We have been waiting a while for this. Our old floors were damaged beyond repair when our water heater blew in early February and flooded the downstairs of our town home. Since then our lives have been somewhat out of kilter and the house in complete disorder. So today we were moving furniture and belongings to our living room from the dining room and kitchen. Tomorrow we will be redoing our library s things from our guest room can be moved there as that floor is replaced with laminate which we had originally bought for the kitchen. In the process we went through kitchen cabinets, drawers and the pantry in the process getting rid of a lot of crap. At least the floors will be done by the end of the week and the painting can begin the following week. By then end of the first week of April most if not all should be done and life can return to normal. Anyway, have a wonderful weekend and if you get a chance go see Muppets Most Wanted, it is worth it.
Peace,
Padre Steve+

Originally posted on Padresteve's World...Musings of a Passionate Moderate:

“Whether your name is (Lou) Gehrig or (Cal) Ripken, (Joe) DiMaggio or (Jackie) Robinson, or that of some youngster who picks up his bat or puts on his glove, you are challenged by the game of baseball to do your very best day in and day out. That’s all I’ve ever tried to do.” Cal Ripken Jr. 

Before the Orioles and Yankees began their game tonight the Orioles honored Cal Ripken Jr. on the anniversary of the night in 1995 when he broke the record that most thought would never be broken. On September 6th 1995 Ripken played his 2131st consecutive game, eclipsing the record of the legendary Yankees First Baseman Lou Gehrig. Ripken’s consecutive game streak finally ended and 2632 games on September 20th 1998 when he took himself out before a game against the Yankees.

The record is likely to remain for many years as it…

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Iconic and Heroic: The Fletcher Class Destroyers

padresteve:

Friends of Padre Steve’s World, After a tiring week it is a rerun Friday night. This is an older article about a class of ship that in the darkest days of the Second World War and through the Cold War was a symbol of American might and ingenuity. The Fletcher class destroyers were iconic. When I think of the classic destroyer it is the Fletcher class that comes to mind. The were fast, beautiful and deadly. They helped win the war against Japan in the Pacific and fought in some of the most desperate sea engagements the world has seen. After the war ships of the class served in the US and allied navies for decades, the last , the former USS John C. Rodgers was decommissioned by Mexico in 2001. They were amazing ships manned by heroic sailors.
Have a great night and expect to see more new articles about the Gettysburg campaign in the coming week as I am getting ready for my new class at the Staff College.
Peace
Padre Steve+

Originally posted on Padresteve's World...Musings of a Passionate Moderate:

The USS Fletcher DD-445

If ever a class of warships can define a ship type the destroyers of the Fletcher Class were that. The most numerous of all United States Navy destroyer classes the Navy commissioned 175 of these ships between June 1942 and February 1945.  There were two groupings of ships the 58 round or “high bridge” ships and the 117 square or “low bridged” ships. It was a sound design that would be modified for use in the later Allen M. Sumner and Gearing Class destroyers.  Eleven shipyards produced the ships fast, heavily armed and tough the ships would serve in every theater of the war at sea but would find their greatest fame in the Pacific where many became synonymous with the courage and devotion of their officers and crews.

USS Stevens one of the 6 Fletchers equipped with an aircraft catapult

The ships were a major improvement on previous classes of…

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