Scrapbook Two Hundred Fifty Four…

October 9, 2020
by dal

 

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For twenty years the military played a significant role in Forrest’s and Peggy’s life. The relevance did not end when Forrest retired from the Air Force in 1970. He was an accomplished combat pilot…and of that he was proud. He was also a humanitarian…caring deeply about the lives of humans. He was careful in trying to balance, on one hand, the killing and destruction borne in his role as a combat pilot, against the sage and human desire to honor and assist those around him. In many ways he was still a pilot long after he gave up flying; in the way that mentors always assist and push others to be as good as humanly possible.

I’d like you to look at a piece of film that Forrest and I sat down and watched in early 2014.  This is 24 minutes of gun camera film from Forrest’s missions in Vietnam. Listen to Forrest’s voice. I believe he was proud of his skillful ability to destroy enemy targets, and at the same time, regretful of the inevitable pain and death to civilians that came with his best efforts.

Forrest was both a realist and a humanitarian. When watching the evening news with him I would often hear him whisper…”Why can’t we all just get along?”

There is more explanation in the film’s description on the video page.

 

Please look HERE for the video.

 

Forrest was a compulsive record keeper. These are pages from Forrest’s personnel flight log. He kept these in spiral notebooks while he was in Vietnam. These come from Chris LaFrieda’s collection of material. You will remember that Chris is the guy that organized the search for Forrest’s plane some 50 years after Forrest was shot down in Laos. It’s a great story.

You can find that story HERE

There is a guide to the “pilot language” contained in the below photos. The guide is at the bottom of this page…just before the comments.

You can click on any photo to make it larger and easier to read.

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Forrest kept a mission log or flight log of every mission he flew in Vietnam. The entries were generally made as soon as he got back to his hut after a mission, while the details were still locked in his brain. 

At the top of the page is the date and the mission number. Below that are the callsigns and aircraft numbers of  all the pilots in the flight. There is also a radio frequency that they all used to communicate. This frequency changed for each mission so that the enemy had a harder time trying to listen in.

Then there is a list of mission particulars by abbreviation.

FAC
Forward Air Controller. This person, in a separate aircraft, ensures that attack aircraft hit the intended target and do not injure friendly troops. Forrest often refers to them by their call sign. The FAC is generally on target before the flight arrives and gives the flight final instructions about what is happening on the ground and last minute details of the mission including if there are friendlies around, where they are and where the enemy is located. 

TGT
Target. Usually coordinates and a description. The coordinates are military coordinates as delineated on a military map, These coordinates have no relationship to the world coordinates that civilian maps use.

BDA
Bomb Damage Assessment. This is Forrest’s assessment of the mission success or bombs that hit the target compared to the number of bombs deployed.

RNDZ
Rendezvous. This is the staging area where all aircraft in the flight meet up to begin their mission. A rendezvous point is necessary because the aircraft take off one at a time and are not immediately together. After take off they head for the rendezvous point where they all meet up get any updates and head for the target.

T/O
Usually lists the take off time and then the time on the target and the time they left the target.

Forrest also sometimes mentions the weapons he was carrying. CBU-34 means a type of Cluster Bomb Unit. These are the small bomblets Forrest talks about dropping. They are the size of a softball and there are hundreds in a container. Once the pilot opens the container the bomblets fall out. Different bomblets are designed for different missions. Some are anti-personnel. Some are incendiary. Some are designed to destroy bridges and other infrastructure…etc.

An F-100 could carry many different weapons from dumb bombs to smart rockets to cannisters of bomblets to napalm. The weapons they ultimately carried were determined by the target they were going after.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Fifty Three…

April 27, 2020

 

 

The following email exchange may be of interest to those who are searching in the north. It reminded me of some events I had almost forgotten. f

NOTE: The photos were not part of the exchange they are here simply as visual aids.

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Eagle’s Store, West Yellowstone in the 1940s

Hello Forrest,

I was talking with my grandpa about the chase and learned he also lived in West Yellowstone for a time. He sent me the following story:

The summer of 1938 we lived in a small cabin in West Yellowstone while my dad ran a small meat market in town next to Eagle’s store (still there). My brother Bob and I helped him take garbage out to the dump, where we would always see grizzly bears feeding. We also helped him get ice for meat storage from the “ice house”, an old building where blocks of ice were stored covered in sawdust; they remained frozen all summer. Across the street from Dad’s place, there was a Skaggs market, the supermarket of the day, where we were strictly forbidden to enter.

We sold the Butte Daily Post newspaper weekdays and Saturdays on the streets, taking care to frequent sidewalks near several taverns where we could always count on good tips from the drinkers as they left.  As I remember, we paid the Post half the cost of the paper and kept the other half, so we did well with the extra money from tips. Our paper was not as big a seller as the Salt Lake Tribune, which also had a big Sunday Edition. An older boy was the Tribune seller. One Sunday he had to be gone and asked Bob and me to carry the Tribune for him. The best place for selling was the long line of cars waiting to enter Yellowstone Park. We walked between the lines of cars and soon were sold out. When the regular carrier returned the next day and we had to give him half the proceeds to pay off the Tribune, we were told that the price of the Sunday Edition was three times what we had been collecting. So we ended up with a net loss for our first experience of the business world.

We used to fish the Madison River just below Hebgen Dam and once I caught a big grayling. I don’t suppose they are still there?

-Frank 

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Bears and Garbage

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Ice Harvesting

Frank

I don’t remember that Sterm name but I remember the Scaggs market because both Skippy and I worked there part of one summer. It was owned by a man named Con Peterson who was killed in a car wreck down near Ennis. Across the street north was another grocery store where our friend Ellert Kosky worked. One day we stood on the loading dock and threw heads of lettuce at Ellert, trying to hit him, and he threw them back at us. We got caught and our pay was docked for the loss. 

In 1938 I was 8 years old so it was in the 40s that I worked in the market. Onetime, Wallace Beery came in. He was a famous movie star who I recognized, and the uncle of Noah Beery Jr., who was more famous in the movies. Wallace wanted to buy some 22 caliber bullets, which were rationed during the war. I wouldn’t sell them to him because he didn’t have any coupons. That made him really mad and I thought he was going to hit me. Skippy saw there was trouble and he came running over with a broomstick in his hands. Mr Berry cooled off some. I guess he didn’t like the odds or the choice of weapons. 

Those were the good old days.

Our cabin was just 100’ from the ice house and we liked to play in it. The ice came from Hebgen Lake and was sawed in cubes of about 2’. The ice house had double walls and sawdust was packed in between them for insulation. We were always careful to cover the ice with sawdust and close the doors when we left.

We also watched the grizzlies at the dump at night, sitting in our car with the lights on. Sometimes there were as many as 20 grizzlies scavenging at one time and black bears would not dare come around. It was one of my mother’s favorite pastimes. 

Onetime Skippy and I (mostly Skippy) made a bear trap out of 2” dead pine logs, and baited it with road-kill meat. The next day we went to check it out and found only tree debris and scattered wood fragments. Guess some big griz didn’t like being caged, and the road-kill was gone.

Ask your grandpa if he remembers what I remember. f

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Forrest

Just south of Skaggs and across from  Dad’s meat market there was a store which provided gear and information for fishermen or fisherpeople. I remember it because there was a case in front where a sort-of “catch of the day” on ice was viewable, and my Dad provided the ice. Once there was a very large supposed rainbow which Dad insisted was a lake trout and not a rainbow.

In our frequenting of taverns for selling newspapers, there was one on the northwest side of town where an itinerant preacher often held sway. We were really awed by his big booming voice as he inveighed against the evil of drink and loose living.

We rented  a small slab wood covered cabin on the west side of town.   Somewhere I should be able to find a picture. One room was fitted out with a huge wall-to-wall bed where my sister, brother and I slept together with our parents. The toilet was an outside two-holer. The meat market turned out to basically be a break-even operation, so except for my Dad’s very hard work, it was a paid summer vacation.

Frank

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Fifty Two…

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April 9, 2020

Hello everyone,
The world we used to know is coming back, and hopefully it will happen soon. My trees already think it’s summer and I’ll not be the one to tell them different.

A friend just sent me the attachment and it surely must be one of the best videos I have ever seen.

Try not to be down because of what is happening around the world. Let’s all send an email to an acquaintance and ask how they are doing. Say you are thinking about them and just wanted to say hello. I really like that idea. This post is my email to you.

Hello everyone. f

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Fifty One…

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March 27, 2020

ATTENTION TREASURE HUNTERS

Because of the virus, it is time to rethink the search. In these dire times every logic and street sense says stay at home. Mayors and governors have mandated it, and so has the president. Much of the search areas in all 4 states, are closed. Because so many searchers are out of jobs they want to head out in their car and look for the treasure. I am getting many emails each day that tell me that. Please don’t do it. Hopefully by summer things will be different. Let’s stay at home and wait it out. it is really easy to be sorry, and it lasts a long time. f

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Fifty…

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March 23, 2020

It’s only sweater time in Santa Fe today, but I think it’s just a ploy that nature sometimes uses to lure unsuspecting searchers into the mountains. I know she’s planning more snow and cold weather. Last week Shiloh and one of his friends made a moonlit climb up to 11,000 feet on the local mountain, and skied down. They froze, and Shiloh’s dog said he didn’t want to do that anymore.

For those whose solve is in the north please know that West Yellowstone is expecting snow tonight and 24 degrees. That’s burr time for everything but polar bears. Let’s think about 1 June for BOTG.

With all that’s going on in this country wisdom told me not to venture outside except to get more firewood and teach Willie what “stay” means. He may be a little retarded in that area. f

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Forty Nine…

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Forrest and Willie at home

Yesterday it was 61 degrees in Santa Fe so Willie and I took a 45-minute stroll around the yard. The cottonwoods and willows were turning green on the limb ends and our daffodils were yellow with long, green stems. They’re the first flowers in our yard to smell like promise. The warming sun felt really nice.

Things are tough down town and around the country, so my family is hunkered down with books aplenty. I may even read Journal of a Trapper again. We are almost completely staying-at-home folks for a while.

During my almost 90 years I’ve seen the Great Depression, a few wars, and the Aids epidemic. They were all terrible and for many long months some folks thought they were world-ending events. But they weren’t. We worked our way through them by banding together and gutting down.  We’ll do the same with this virus thing too. That’s why I’m so optimistic about the future.

It’s time to take another stroll around the yard. Willie just heard me think that and his tail started wagging. “C’mon Willie, let’s go. f
 

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Forty Eight…

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January, 2020

 

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

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In view of recent events perhaps it is prudent for me to recall an episode that has been lurking in the back of my mind for more than 7 decades.

Many years ago, when I was a teenager young and vigorous, Donnie and I hiked on a fishing excursion down and into the canyon of the Yellowstone River in YNP. It was below the lower falls, and a terrible mistake. Our calves ached, but we persevered.

The mean-looking white water seemed tight as it swirled around the big rocks. I told myself that the river there was too narrow to carry such a volume of water.

A salmon fly hatch was out so we strung one on our flies. Every cast caught a trout that seemed to be abnormally angry. They fought in a fierce manner that was hitherto unknown in the annals of my fishing experiences.

After a few minutes of such predictably, I lost interest, and rested on a rock to watch Donnie suffer the same angst as me. We both were strangely uncomfortable and didn’t talk much.

After filling our canteens, we started out, not fully cognizant of what “out” entailed. It was tantamount to climbing the Washington Monument with loose rocks on each step. Our thighs resisted all the way up.

I promised myself that I would never trek into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River  again, and I haven’t. f

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Forty Seven…

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December, 2019

 

Wherever the Bugle Blows

On the 24th of August, 1968, I was shot down in south Vietnam. One-hundred and nineteen days later, I was shot down again, that time in the jungle of Laos.

Thirty minutes after I ejected from my crippled fighter, it was dark. There could be no rescue attempt at night. No one knew where I was.

But the next morning, at first light, a recovery plan was in operation. A C-130, full of search and rescue experts, was circling high, directing my rescue. A forward air controller (FAC) spotter plane had found me and pinpointed my position on the ground. It was Lt. James Swisher.

Four Sandy airplanes whose duty it was to strafe all around my position to keep enemy heads down, were doing their job. Four F-100 fighters, flying low and fast, and pulling Gs, were ready to roll in on any enemy position the FAC could find. Several other fighters, including a Misty, were close by, sauntering just out of the way, and ready to come in if needed.

A Jolly Green Giant helicopter (the Candy Ann) came in low and dropped 240 feet of cable with a heavy jungle penetrator attached. Airman Bob Sully, and M/Sgt. Lee Maples, were watching from the chopper. When they saw me unfold the penetrator’s legs and strap on, they activated the hoist that reeled me 175 feet up through the tangle of trees and an additional 65 feet above that canopy to the relative safety of the helicopter.

Meanwhile, a spare Jolly Green circled 1000’ above my position and was ready to assist if the Candy Ann started taking battle damage.

Looking back at that incident, which occurred almost exactly fifty-one years ago, I am still humbled, and proud. And honored that all of that effort was expended in harm’s way just to save my life. I wish I could express myself more eloquently.

I wanted to say those things now, at a time when our military seems to be taking heat from every radial. Are we ready to handle a homeland assault from a foreign power, especially one who possess gigantic weapons? We were not on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Could that happen again? We must keep our military strong.

Forrest’s collage painting

This old flag flies to warn anyone who sees her weak. Long after they have gone, she will wave, still at her peak, daring all of those who call her out to test her wrath and act as foes. Her strong stripes still proudly there, her resolve still strong, her teeth still bare, ready to charge again…wherever the bugle blows. f

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Forty Six…

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December, 2019

 

The Promise of a Dream

Many years ago, when I was being wistful about what was ahead for me, I dreamed above my probabilities. It was fun to fantasize that someday I would write a children’s fiction book, and another that was non-fiction. And see a poem of mine in print, and one of my oil paintings hanging on the wall.

As I matured, I learned that some of the wishes, which seemed so far from me once, might have fallen within my realm if I would just try. So I did.

My book, The Beat of the Drum and the Whoop of the Dance, was a biography. And later, The Thrill of the Chase, showcased poems that I wrote.

Today, my children’s book is being shipped from the printer.

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Front and back covers of my children’s book

Meanwhile, my oil painting dries on the living room table. It’s called, As the Bugle Blows, which depicts a time in my life that sublimely underscores my passage through it. Maybe I’ll talk about that at another time. And now to my country song. It’s called Cold Coffee in a Hot Cup. f

My children’s book, Educating Ardi, does not contain any clues or hints to my treasure location. It was printed in only 100 copies, and will not be for sale. It is mostly just for family. f

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrapbook Two Hundred Forty Five…

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December, 2019

 

Eric’s Funny Part

IMG 1239The name Eric Sloane should be synonymous with wood. He wrote a book titled A Reverence for Wood. In his preface…

“…one day we were flying over the New England country side. ‘Someday soon,’ I said, ‘I must do a book about trees and wood.’ Down below, the wooded hills were just turning to their autumn colors, and the shadow of our plane raced across a sea of crimson and russet.”

When he was building his home in Santa Fe, he had some boastfully-wonderful old weathered boards. They were being saved to build doors and kitchen cabinets. He loved their roughness. They were stored outside in the sun and rain where they could take on more of a color that he called “personality gray.”

But while he was back east for a short visit the carpenters nailed them up as joists. Eric’s recovery period was rather lengthy and I dutifully listened to the story more than a few times during our frequent lunches.

Eric never lived to know that my dedication in Seventeen Dollars a Square Inch (a personal tribute to Eric Sloane) was really a dedication to his memory, in a funny abstract way.

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When Eric learned I was collecting artists palettes, he lamented that he didn’t have one to give me. He had no use for one when he painted because he mixed his paints on a wooden board that was attached to his easel. “Never mind that,” he probably thought, “I’ll just saw off my mixing board and give that to Forrest.”

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And that’s what he did, but not before painting a covered bridge and nailing a favored old paintbrush on for added flavor.

Although I had palettes from many important artists, including Nicolai Fechin, none was more revered than Eric’s.

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I just measured the palette with my spread right hand, which is exactly 8 ¼ inches, little finger nail, to thumb nail. So the palette is 33 ½ inches wide. But just for fun I measured it with my ruler also. Yup, 33 ½ inches wide. I always like to be exact. f

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Jimmy Dolittle, Eric Sloane and Neil Armstrong