Scrapbook Two…


Forrest is a “collector”. It took me a while to figure out what this really means.

Although he is not an indiscriminate collector, his collection can certainly be said to encompass a broad variety of objects. For instance, if you’ve read his book and blog you know that as a child he collected bottle caps and string. Apparently his string collecting got out of hand when the “ball” would no longer fit through his bedroom door. Then one day it mysteriously disappeared. Not his mother, father nor his siblings admitted to knowing about its disposition. I personally am suspicious of his brother, who shared the room with him, who probably had to roll this great twine orb out of his way several times each day and finally had enough.

Perhaps this incident was the factor that tipped Forrest to be the vigorous collector that he has become. Certainly everyone who has heard of Forrest is well aware of his indian artifact collection which includes Indian dolls, moccasins, masks, arrows, bows, feathered war bonnets, pipes, pots, baskets, knives, arrowheads, blankets, mats, painted buffalo skulls, ceremonial garb and more…much more. But let’s not stop there Forrest also collects rare and beautiful books and military objects from his own war and others. Below is a photo of one of Forrest’s prize possessions, a Flying Tigers flight jacket with a leather blood chit on the back. It has General Chennault’s 14th Air Force patch on the left shoulder, and a secret object in one of the pockets that he won’t talk about except to say that it’s a secret and it’s there.


Here’s the flip side. Some folks tried to be aircrew just so they could get issued one of these great leather jackets. They made even a geek look cool…


The companies that made them during the war knew they were on to a good thing. The design was never copyrighted. So after the war all those guys that never had one while they served could fork out $10 and get the same exact thing and be almost as cool as a real pilot…of course theirs didn’t have shoulder patches and blood chits…but the girls might not have known about that…


A blood chit is a document that pilots carry when they fly over foreign territory. The chit is usually in a foreign language and asks for protection and help getting back to friendly forces. It often offers a reward to the person that helps. The Flying Tigers were a volunteer force of American military and civilians whose mission was to defend China against the Japanese  forces in WWII. They flew out of Chinese National military bases at great risk to themselves to keep the Chinese mainland from being lost. They came to China just a few days after Pearl Harbor and remained a volunteer group until July of 1942 when the Army took over. The entire flight crew of every Flying Tiger aircraft carried “blood chits” to help them survive if they were forced to land in areas away from their base in China. Typically, the blood chit was printed on silk or linen and carried in a pocket or sewn into the lining of the jacket. But the owner of this jacket had his chit sewn to the back of his jacket where it could be seen readily by any folks who might find him. The American flag on the left side of the chit is an unusual addition probably made by the person who wore this jacket. Note that the flag has 48 stars rather than today’s 50. Alaska and Hawaii were territories but not yet states. The flag in the upper right of the chit is a Chinese National flag. The script below it reads:

“This foreign person has come to China to help in the war effort. Soldiers and civilians, one and all, should rescue and protect him”.


Below is the emblem of the 14th Air Force from the jacket’s shoulder.











21 thoughts on “Scrapbook Two…

  1. I’m curious if Forrest ever put it on and looked in the mirror like little boys do with Superman capes. Of course most other guys if they did that would have a far greater stretch than Forrest to know what’s it’s like to be an amazing fighter pilot……now what could be in that pocket? A 70 year old piece of Wrigley gum? The keys to a F6F Hellcat? A very “used” photo of Betty Grable? Maybe a map with the location of the chest?????

  2. You know, I’ll bet it resembles the shape of the courtyard of his fabled home of Brown.Or MAYBE the shape of the courtyard of his fabled home of Brown resembles IT! OOOOOOOOOOOOOOH! Guess we’ll never know, because HE AIN’T TALKING!

  3. Dal,
    Did Forrest send you this picture of the flight jacket and information about it?

    Did your first entry “Scrapbook One” that appears to be have been done solely by you alone prompt him to offer up scrapbook two?

    Just kind of curious how his sending in post really began, and if the jacket story is what he chose to offer up first.

    Fred Y.

    • Fred-
      No. That jacket intrigued me from the moment I first saw it in Forrest’s office. I am a small bit of a WWII information junkie. Many of the men who influenced my early life were combat veterans of that war and it seemed when I was growing up that all the men in my neighborhood were WWII vets. TV in the 50’s and early 60’s was loaded with WWII based dramas and comedies. Bookshelves were occupied by WWII based stories. As a child there appeared to be a great many “heroes” all around me. Every dad had a war trophy in his basement and told riveting stories of their time in hell. I listened intently to any WWII stories I could lay my ears on.

      You can see how the scrapbooks started out. I have dozens of photos I shot of items in Forrest’s office. My plan was to simply show an item from his collection and try to get the story behind that item from Forrest…
      The broader goal was to learn not just about the item but also about the way in which he collected items…the “stories” of how the pieces became part of his collection. I have listened to him tell some of those stories and I found them fascinating.

      The first scrapbook was me showing Forrest what I had in mind. I expected that in the next scrapbook he would do the telling about the piece..and the first one was simply an example…my attempt to illustrate how interesting these “profiles” might be.

      But Forrest is not a guy you can lead to anywhere. So on the second scrapbook he sent me the pics and asked me to write something about them…thus redirecting what I intended for the scrapbooks…

      So, that is my writing and his pics on scrapbook two. I remember being concerned about posting her photos. We talked about risk. I think I darkened her face to prevent recognizability.

      In Scrapbook three you can see where he takes over. He sent the pic and wrote the copy and it has his signature “f” on it.

      Occasionally after that I wrote them but I always tried to make it clear when they were written by me and not Forrest. Photos were a collaborative effort. Some he sent. Many he took and asked me to clean-up (crop, brighten,enhance color, etc). Some I hunted down. Some I shot. A few were seriously photoshopped.

      Many scrapbooks later we returned to my original idea of photos and writing about items in his collection but renamed them “vignettes” because the scrapbooks had become something else.

      Hope that helps..

  4. Hey Dal,

    Thank you for the info on how the scrapbooks got rolling.

    It was a small part of scrapbook two that was most important to my partial solve, and it would appear as though that one part is indeed his own words (the secret in the pocket part), and it was Forrest himself that picked the topic (although possibly influenced by your interest in it).

    If you want to know more about the secret in the pocket, I would be happy to share it with you in an email with one condition. I share everything with you and we partner up. You are the only one I would ever think to do this with.

    I know people have offered this up to you in the past and you have turned them down, so I’m sure you will again and I guess in someways that is best.

    What I have so far would blow your mind… I have read some really great solves, but mine is nothing like any I have read. Just can’t get past the last verse in the poem.

    Fred Y.

    • Fred-
      You are correct. The secret in the pocket was something he told me about and I included in the story. I thought (and still think) it is intriguing and typically “Forrest”.

  5. Regarding the ‘secret’ in the pocket, could it be something similar to one of those things that Francis Gary Powers DIDN’T use/take when he was shot down? In my vivid imagination and sharing opinion! I had a great outing yesterday, not in the search area but did see 3 river otters and discussed future outings with my search partner, i.e. camping gear needs, snake boots, GPS, how to charge our gadgets, things that we’re supposed to be getting away from, lol…..

  6. Cholly,

    Haha!!! Do you mean his plane’s self-destruct mechanism or his camera? To be completely honest on the matter I still do not know for sure what is in the pocket, but I know which pocket it is in for sure….

    Fred Y.

    • @Fred Y, -IMO was thinking the secret object is a cyanide capsule in the event of bail out and capture…..what Powers didn’t use…..way late on reply….these scrape books are hard for me to navigate, never learned IFR!

  7. I think it was 1970 and Sprite came out with a promotion. If you could collect 1000 bottle caps they would send you a gas powered model race car. I was 12 years old and I was leaning how to work for things. We didn’t have much money but I couldn’t drink 1000 bottles of Sprite. So I spent the summer collecting the bottle caps. I would go to all the gas stations around town that sold Sprite in there vending machines. I would ask the attendant if I can collect all their bottle caps. They would would open the machine and dump them into my paper bag and it was a jingle I will never forget. I was on a mission and they didn’t know it.
    I didn’t know if I could get it done in time before the offer expired. Sprite really wasn’t my favorite soda but it took time to acquire the taste.
    I spent a lot of time going through all the sticky caps and washing all the Sprite caps getting them ready to mail.
    As I waited to hear back from Sprite, the day finally came. I got my Sprite car and off to the races I went. I built my track with a start to finish line. It was straight as it could be but the car didn’t mind. I think it went both ways.

  8. My father-in-law was in Vietnam and he told me about these kinds of jackets. He flew out of an airport that didn’t exist with a big line down the center….The secret he carried in his jacket was a bar of gold, ostensibly to bribe whoever found his body to return it. To me it sounded like he made himself a target. Thanks for sharing this pic, Dal.

  9. I can add a little to this Story possibly;

    I think it was common practice to sew them on the back of the jacket, as this is the only way I’ve ever seen chits… (maybe a latter learning lesson) and mainly in the case of being injured, so a peasant farmer would notice. also why they were cloth/silk so they could be sewed on.

    Many of the farmers did not know how to read or write the several languages in China, however they did know about their own flag, and since there was a war going on, they knew about the American flag. so that is why it was added; but as you said, added by the pilots as most likely at first at least, an upper rank mistake, quickly corrected by the pilots.

    I think also that it was called “blood” chit by the pilots (rather than officially) because it usually had a reward for the safe return of the pilot, so “blood money”.

    My Dad who flew in between a couple wars in B-29s (they were renamed B-50) because Boeing thought renaming them would make them sound more desirable after WWII 🙂 My dad had an interesting story that I only have vague memories of:

    The Airforce began issuing what I will guess were nylon jackets sometime in this period, there was an accident on the flight line where a fuel explosion took place, and everyone hit the deck, The nylon basically melted… and the leather jackets protected. My Dad was not injured, but quickly got an A2 leather jacket. (the type shown and all with this spec were called A2 leather jackets) I have two, plus another called loosely a “Bomber Jacket” with the sheep fur.. (I think it is sheep)

    • The Nylon Fabric – ALL Man-made fabrics, in fact – don’t just melt – they melt and fuse to the skin, requiring the Doctors to cut away more, and deeper, tissue, causing more damage to the body .. this is what happened at Ramstein AB W. Germany in Aug, 1988 .. hundreds of people on the ground were burned by the fire ball and their nylon shirts and shorts and socks and pants and jackets all melted and fused into their burned skin .. cotton, wool and leather are much better protectors in a fire — the NOMEX flight jackets, flight suits and gloves that Air Force, Navy & Marine Pilots have worn since the 1960s are Fire Retardant, but they still “look” Nylon and I’d still feel a hell of a lot safer inside a Flying Tigers Leather Jacket .. My blood Pressure doubles and my Nerves just about jump out of my skin every time I go to an Air Show .. all my clothes are 100% Cotton, all my suits are 100% Wool and I haven’t bought Nylon clothes in 32 years..

      B ..

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