Scrapbook One Hundred Sixty Eight…

scrapbook

MARCH 2017

GENERAL SPICER

I thought I was the world’s greatest fighter pilot just like all twenty-four-year-old recent graduates of pilot training who were long on ego, and short on everything else.

When I walked in General Russell Spicer’s outer office and asked his secretary if I could please see the general, she asked if I had an appointment. When I said no, she asked me what I wanted. I told her I would like to have permission to fly the general’s F-86F. He was Chief of Flying Safety for the entire Air Training Command at Scott Air Force Base, and had no business letting a lowly 2nd Lt. fly his airplane, especially since I had never flown that model before. That’s what I had going against me.

Colonel Russ Spicer in WWII

I had not met the general but knew him by reputation. Everyone did. He shot down three German airplanes in WW-2 and when his P-51 took battle damage, he was forced to bail out over the English Channel. He floated around in a one-man dinghy for two days, finally washing ashore in France. His hands and feet were frozen when the Germans took him prisoner. As the senior officer in Stalag Luft 1, he gave a speech that the German commander said was “riotous,” and Spicer was sentenced to six months in solitary confinement and then execution by firing squad. The day before he was to be executed, his POW camp was overrun by Russian soldiers and the Germans fled. Spicer was liberated.

Major General Russ Spicer in the 1950s

When the general’s secretary picked up the phone and said, “General, I think you should come out here,” most of my cockiness went south, and I suddenly felt like a crippled ant in an elephant parade.

The general’s huge, black mustache startled me because it separated his nose from his mouth in such a commanding way. I wondered if he could intake air. When he grinned at me, and after we saluted, he invited me into his office. “What can I do for you, Sir?” the general asked as he lit his pipe and offered me a seat. I told him my name, and that I was a pilot in the 85th Fighter Interceptor Squadron flying the F-86D, and that one of our hangars was next to where he kept his plane. We talked for a while. I had seen him many times approach the field at 1,500’, 250 knots, make a tight pitchout, drop the gear and flaps, and land. To me it was like poetry. His F-86F was the same model that had shot down most of the Migs during the Korean War, and I really wanted to fly it

He looked at me for a few seconds, then picked up the phone. “Get my crew chief for me please.” The general said, “Pull my airplane out because Lt. Forrest Fenn is coming down to fly it.” I was really grinning. I thanked him, saluted, and turned to leave when he said, “Don’t you dare break my airplane.”

An F-86F passing the tower at Nellis AFB

The crew chief stood on the ladder and talked me through the engine start. That must have been 1954, and I flew for about an hour. It was the thrill of my life to fly that airplane. I went back to my squadron thinking I was the world’s leading ace. When my boss learned what I had done, he came over and congratulated me, not because I had flown the general’s airplane, but because I had guts enough to ask him if I could.
But that’s not all of the story.

Five years later I saw the general again. He was commander of the 17th Air Force at Wheelus Air Base, Libya, where we had a gunnery school. He remembered some brash Lt. asking to fly his plane, but he didn’t remember my name.

Thirty years later, the lady who purchased my gallery hired one of General Spicer’s sons to be her driver. Is this a small world, or what? f

 

136 thoughts on “Scrapbook One Hundred Sixty Eight…

  1. Forrest had a lot of guts. He did this more than once…asking a general if he could fly his plane…
    I was never a pilot nor a Lt but when I saw a general heading down the street in my direction I high tailed it down a side street til he passed. My M.O. was “avoidance”. Forrest’s was “opportunity”. Maybe that’s why he’s hiding millions of dollars in booty and I’m looking for it!

    • HA! I agree completely, sometimes avoidance is the better part of valor.

      I did get to meet a Brigadier General (one star) once. I got an article 15 for that encounter. 🙂

        • Actually, it all worked out OK; I made it. The worst thing they could do to me is leave me where I was, and that’s what they did.

          Once the “official” story came out they took away the Article 15 and gave me a medal instead. War is a convoluted affair; I was sure proud of that Article 15.

          • Article 15 is an administrative punishment handed down in the military. There are different grades depending upon the seriousness of the infraction.

            I once got a company-grade article 15. Squad leader had me instructing physical fitness one Saturday morning to recruits who screwed up during the week (punishment), and I had a 104 temp with flu (didn’t know at the time). Because of the fever and being dizzy from being sick, the squad leader harassed me for stumbling around, and I immediately fired back in his face with some “choice word” excuses. That Monday I was in the Captain’s office signing the article 15 for one week of 2 hours extra after end of work formation each day, cleaning the offices.

            Part of my life when I learned who has and who does not have power 😛

    • Thanks for posting, Dal! The story not only highlights Forrest’s gumption to make the request, but Spicer’s goodnaturedness and generosity to say yes, instead of making Forrest run laps around the base for bothering him without making an appointment.

      Now with the Chase, it seems that Forrest has stepped into the General Spicer role!

  2. mighty fine story mr. forrest,you just never know who you gonna run into down the road.I bet when you were in mexico beach,florida,close to panama city,that you flew all over that place and flew along the gulf coast of okaloosa county,fort walton beach where i grew up,and flew over Eglin air force base. and there was this little girl down there,that one day you would invite me to the collected works book store for coffee,and meet that little girl.It is a small world huh.one day ,i wish you’d invite me to your house,that would be my thrill of a life time.I am shy with words.

  3. I wonder how many fighter models Mr Fenn flew? Interesting that the sons of great men do not always follow in their fathers footsteps.

    -Randawg.

    • I’m not really that surprised – How many can come close to begin knowing what to ask The Flyer?

      Humility is a large part of being a legend; any genuine legend.

    • Sssshhh iron will! I don’t think Forrest knows he’s 86! In this chase, You’re as young as your imagination

  4. I woke this morning and booted the computer while sipping my coffee. Ah! a new SB? lets see how many clues I can pull out of this one… said to self. I click on some music and highway to Hell by AC/DC was playing… click on SB 168,
    then I almost spewed coffee out the nostrils… FU-666.
    Maybe I’ll change channels on the music box and hope for Free Bird to be playing.

  5. Spicer was “Equipped with a fabulous memory for names”. I doubt he forgot the name of a brash 2ndLt who asked to fly his plane.

      • Haha on finding remnants….Luckily I happened to already have a few scraps from a wild tangent on tobacco and stuff you guys probably would have laughed at. Lol.

    • I mean seriously they write down his speech and put it in a tin can and buried it JUST SO IT WOULD BE REMEMBERED!?!? I would love to see pics of their faces when they arrived at Lucky Strike in France. Can we get a sequel F?

    • “General Spicer assumed command of the 25th Air Division (SAGE) ”

      Spice r
      Sage
      Sage Creek Montana?
      I’m getting ready to book a trip right now!

      • You should grab some Mozart to listen to on the way. I hear he recorded some pretty neat stuff- doesn’t anyone wonder why theres not medals for that kind of stuff too?Certainly Hindsight might argue the affirmative…especially in the cases of guys like f and Kaufman who still smile and tip them high and to the sky. That makes me smile too. Who knows…maybe theres a way to switch AND fight…in the telling, at least.

        • Mozart is great as Vivaldi, Bach, Beethoven, Haydn, Brahms & Schubert.
          Vivaldi is my favorite. They said he died a poor man.
          I don’t think so.

          Yes, I have laughed at some of your clippings but that’s just me with most.
          You have a way to make one dig deeper past the surface of what you say & that says a lot about your passions.

          It can be fun trying to diagnose his words when most of the time he is just telling a story can be humorous.

          • I understand and thanks….that link I posted just explained more of the story. At the bottom of the short article is the Speech and a brief excerpt from Spicers son whom Forrest mentions. No tangent there…just some “bonus material” for anyone who liked the story.

            I grew up playing MaJong and Monopoly, but I was never in the military. I talk a lot, though Ive never had to write speeches outside of passing notes in class. So things like Chess and Parcheesi, and stories like this, are like finding a timewarp into the minds of guys that beat the final levels of a game that weren’t even listed as existing in the instruction manuals I read. The drive and talent involved in the top levels of those intracies of human connection is simply mind blowing to a girl like me who is new to trying to breathe it in. Im so lucky Im a chick….we get to wax off our mustaches .

    • That was an interesting link, Jonsey. Thanks for posting! The fact that Spicer also enjoyed boardgames earns him my respect all the more! 🙂

  6. Forrest, Dal, Goofy and all you many military service men and women…all I can say is “WOW”! It seems to me that civilian life must be so boring after your military adventures. Thanks for sharing this awesome story!

    More stories, please. I agree with BW …finding new Scrapbooks is a wonderful way to start a morning…I will be smiling all day.

  7. Sorry I can’t stop blabbing today, this topic completely fascinates me. Not just because of who those guys were…but because of stories like this. We get to read stories like this, and have speeches like Spicers NOT because we read official military reports we couldn’t understand or have access to….we get to read then because the YMCA sent log books out to the soldiers and guys like Mozart Kaufman knew what to do with them.
    I sometimes wish F would have had the time or interest to compile a collection of the folklore, like this, in those log books and present it back to the men of the YMCA that made it possible….and for people like us to read.
    The content is fascinating….but the processes behind recording them certainly seem worthy of a few not unread pages in history as well. Ive often hoped to find one of F’s elusive bells….yet can only imagine how many of Kaufmans (and others) tin cans will forever be buried under broken down barraks, or washed up on lonely barren shores.
    Craziness.

  8. Thanks Forrest! I
    It was great to find a new scrapbook this morning!
    It takes courage to do something like that, but what a thrill when Spicer said yes!
    I’ve been away from the chase for a little bit and feel like I’m going backwards instead of forwards but hopefully if I just stay the course I’ll get back on track.

  9. I have to go back and read this post. I just skimmed through the pics. The identifier on the plane took me aback… FU-666, really?

    • Thanks for sharing that, Jeremy.

      As if it wasn’t already total plane-demonium around here. 🙂

      Life is like one of those choose-your-own-adventure books I’d read as a kid.

      Choices: Spicy, Spicier, Spiciest!

      That last choice will burn you Twice! LOL!

  10. What a great story! Thanks for posting this and telling us about this remarkable man.

    PS: Goofy and Dal, still not getting emails about new posts, even after unsubscribing and re-subscribing. 🙁

    • CJinCA,

      The only way to be notified of new posts is by creating an account on http://wordpress.com (yes, it’s free). Then, on your wordpress account, subscribe to this site (http://dalneitzel.com).

      You will then be notified of every new entry on this site. (No more subscribing to individual threads). 🙂

      Easy peasy! 😉

      • Really! Then I guess things have changed as I had been receiving email notifications of new posts for the last 4 years just by subscribing to this web site. So now I have to create an account with WordPress?

        • Nothing has changed.

          I am merely suggesting a more thorough method of assuring that you are notified of *every* new thread and every post from this blog.

          Otherwise, you will have to “subscribe” to every new thread as they are created.

          I hope this helps…

          –Fennatical

  11. Forrest; What would you say the most significant single act you performed in your life would be? ~Jdiggins

  12. What a GREAT story – as others have said. Forrest certainly had gumption – guess that that is why he was so successful. Do we need that kind of gumption to be successful at this search? I wonder. JDA

    • I would guess that paying a LOT of attention to the small details of flying a new plane would be critical. I think that this is true for the “Chase”. Details, details, details! JDA

      • JDA,

        BINGO!

        . . . and while we have “focus” (Both FF and I seem to
        love that word, in the context of this search) on the
        devil — I’d like to remind you of that old saying:
        “The devil is in the details”. Hee hee!

    • The devil is in the details JDA FU-666.
      I think you will have to have a heavy dose of gumption to carry out what he has done.

      No guts, no glory.
      No balls, no falls.
      End of story.

        • Nope; you strike me as having a good amount of gumption yourself, like many of the other Chasers on this site. That’s a good thing, in my opinion; especially if the chest is hidden where it’s no place for the meek!

  13. Dal
    Thanks for the post and thanks to Forrest for providing the story. I have a question that probably only Forrest can answer, but I’ll post it here for all to see and comment. Maybe even ff will chime in orgive us his thoughts.

    Does Forrest have any expectations regarding the person he “hopes” will find his hidden treasure chest? The person will obviously be, dare I say, smart, but are there any person attributes he would wish for in the finder?

    Ok, maybe that was two questions. If you’ve had this conversation with him about this Dal, I think we would all be interested in your thoughts too.

    • I think Forrest expected his daughters to grow up caring about who Clark Gable was, but look how that turned out! 😉

      • a little more light:

        Holly: What do you hope for the person who finds this treasure? Are you hoping that a
        particular type of person finds it? Do you hope it is ever found?

        Forrest: The person who finds the treasure will be the one who solved the clues in my poem
        and walked to it. No one will happen onto it. My hope is that whoever deserves it through his
        efforts will be the finder.

        http://clubthrifty.com/forrest-fenn-an-interview/

        • “My guess is that the person who is successful will very quietly solve the clues and walk to the treasure with a smile on their face.”

          No horse, donkey, pack mule, 4 wheeler, jet ski, boat, snowmobile, tractor.

          Hmmm…

    • PL289;

      This is not a complete answer to your question, but it does shed a little light on the subject:

      “Forrest,
      You talk about how you worked on, and changed, the poem for many years. As you read it today, are you still completely content with the belief that someone will eventually understand and follow your poem precisely to the treasure? ~ John
      Thanks John,
      I think your question is wrought from misinformation. I have no real feelings about when the treasure might or might not be found. But eventually sounds too far away. The treasure is there for the person who can find it and I think that person will be positive in their attitude and deliberate in their actions. No one has any secret information that will take them to the hiding place. It’s in the poem for all to see.” f
      JDA

  14. Thanks for sharing that with us Forrest. What a great man General Spicer was. The whole story was fantastic, but I did like your descriiption of feeling “like a crippled ant in an elephant parade”. Very funny! 🙂

    • I have found the highest powered magnifier I could, and combed thru that research area carefully. I’ve not been able to find any such appends. I was both thrilled and saddened. Surprisingly so.
      I have spunk,
      enjoy southern grits,
      and YES!!
      My heart is wide and wide open.
      Thanks for asking.

  15. Great SB. Looking at it from the other side, it goes to show how offering a little bit of trust can earn you a whole lot of respect and loyalty.

  16. “The day before he was to be executed, his POW camp was overrun by Russian soldiers and the Germans fled.”

    Sometimes fate is a virtue.

    • On Jan 19, 1945 during roll call the commandment ordered all Jewish POWs to take one step forward. Spicer immediately called to every American soldier to step forward. “Then we are all Jews”. Not one of them hesitated.

      • We are not all Jews, but all us being sapiens we should all have the same rights as others.

        Us being sapiens should hold us to standards of compassion, communication & understanding in this world.

        Someday that will hold true.

  17. I’m sure this question has already been asked, but I’m only just arriving on scene.
    Or so it seems.
    I’d like to know …
    in the present lineup of movie stars, who would Mr. Fenn want to play him in the movie of his military years.
    Dead or living, who would has been best to play that led.

  18. Neat story! Gen. Spicer may well have sown into ff the seeds of success, creating a plan, not being intimidated, being bold, pursuing what you want and getting it. A story of the beauty of sowing into the lives of others!

    Question for all of you FennExperts, Did Forrest ever train at Nellis AFB? Seems like he would have and I kind of LIKE that connection.

  19. Great story, two men of true courage crossing paths.
    I can’t say the word guts really works,’ that takes guts’ is somewhere between ‘that was stupid’ and ‘that was courageous’. But closer I think to stupid.

    Forrest always seems to have intellectual guts, courage.
    Something far more rare that it really ought be. Something I still struggle to find and use when I need it, even now in the back half of life.

    That takes courage Forrest.

  20. Just an upshot to more think about with entertainment. Precursor meets the same fate. “Don’t you dare BRAKE my airplane.”
    So who is getting close?g

  21. ‘When the general’s secretary picked up the phone and said, “General, I think you should come out here,” most of my cockiness went south, and I suddenly felt like a crippled ant in an elephant parade.’

    A few days ago, there was a discussion about what “south” would mean to Mr. Fenn, as well as, whether or not the poem had any metaphors and/or similes. Should we use the above post he made to be an answer? What are your thoughts?

    • Fenn’s insistence that children could solve the poem is curious. This, along with the fact that many would need to eat hat.

      My guess is that ultimately Fenn wears that hat.

      -passenger

        • Hmmm.. OK. Not sure we’re talking about the same thing Jake.

          PDenver: If you’re referring to what I think you are referring to, (the taboo subject) then I agree.

          There are too many insinuations built within the Poem and TTOTC.. and I think Fenn understands all of them.

          I was ostracized at Chasechat 2 years ago for approaching the subject.

          Based on the fact that my last two comments have somehow been deemed unacceptable for this forum, it’s doubtful this subject would fly here.

          -passenger

          • Hello passenger. I do not know what “the taboo subject” you may be referring to.

          • (Second try.) passenger, I do not know what “the taboo subject” you are referring to.

  22. As I read this story I interpret as Forrest wants to sit in the Throne! A high ranking officials seat is the Generals cockpit. A seat for one. His throne. Interesting too that a mulled spice is a bishop.
    For those searchers who follow this logic of stool, seat, banco, sedan and others this is a good scrapbook hint.
    Interesting too that Forrest said a couple weeks ago that the picture with Skippy with the car was added. Skippy was placed in the drivers seat.

    Thanks Forrest.

  23. Interesting that Sean Spicer is currently press secretary for the white house. I don’t know if he is related in any way to General Spicer.

  24. When I was a boy the F86 was my favorite jet. I loved its lines. One of the most beautiful fighters ever designed ..

    Brad

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