Mom and Dad in the 1950’s

A while back, a friend who has known me for many years asked why I never buy lottery tickets. I told him it was because I had won once already. He asked “When?” surprised he had never heard this. I told him it was a long time ago, the last week of December ….1962, when I was born to my parents. He thought this was funny, but I wasn’t kidding, nothing else that has happened in my life has or will ever likely match this good fortune.

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Today I was going through the old albums, trying to find a few pictures that will spark some good stories from Dad as he is recovering.  The image above is Mom and Dad in 1951, a pre-deployment picture taken in Coronado California. Mom and Dad met at the Jersey shore the summer after WWII ended. Seventy years later they remain the lasting joy of each others lives.

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Above, a photo of my parents on the beach in California in 1952. The smiles don’t speak of my father, a young Navy officer in amphibious warfare, having  just returned from his first tour in the Korean War. He had left from San Francisco in 1951. My mother, 24 years old, had seen him off and boarded a Martin 4-0-4 for the flight back to San Diego. In flight, the plane had a terrific engine fire on her side. It was a rocky start to a long year, but my mother made the strongest friends with other Navy wives, awaiting and praying for the safe return of husbands from the new war.

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The story of my brother’s arrival in ’53 during my father’s second deployment to Korea is integral to understanding the history of my family. On New Year’s Eve 1952, my father received an emergency notice recalling him to Korea. My mother, expecting her first child, had the option to return to her caring family on the east coast, but instead chose to stay in Coronado with the other young wives, women who shared the same struggles.

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My brother came more than a month early. At that moment, my father was near Wolmi-do island with the 1st Marine Division, under communist air attack. My mother had not heard from him in weeks, went to the delivery room knowing only that he was in an area of hard fighting. Ten days later my father’s unit was withdrawn to Japan.

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By chance, a friend said that there had been a message for him. A search of hundreds of notes in the com center revealed one that only said “Lt. j.g. Wynne: Boy. Wife, baby, doing well.” A drive to another base finds a Ham radio operator, then a clear connection to another Ham in California, and a phone link. My mother tells him she has chosen to name the boy Michael. My father is very moved; it is his own father’s name.

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It is several months before he can come back. It was a difficult birth, and my brother is born with terrible colic. My mother is exhausted when he arrives, and collapses in sleep. Here is my father’s home-coming from his first war: He is a new father, rocking his son to sleep in a quiet apartment in California. This tiny boy in his arms is named for his own father, the hero of my father’s world, a man who is fading in a long twilight of his life. On this evening in August of 1953, my father certainly understands how fortunate he is. He is married to a very strong person; he has survived a war that others have not; and he holds his own son in his arms. In the coming years it will take all of these blessings to sustain him through the agonizingly slow loss of his own father.

 

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 My mother, “Mickey Wynne” turned 89 last week. For all our lives, she has given our family a sterling example of kindness and compassion to follow. Every element of human decency and empathy that resides in me owes its absolute origin directly to her.

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Above, my mother at age 26, standing in front of their 1951 Buick super eight Convertible. Mom had just had my older brother 6 weeks before.

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The finest hours of my life, those I gave to others, all bear the indelible prints of my mothers faith, that kindness and forgiveness are the ultimate virtues. In the four score and nine years she has been on this earth, she has never wavered in her belief, nor missed a chance to demonstrate her fidelity to it. She is held in the hearts of all who know her. On this day I wish everyone a peaceful hour of reflection on the lives of the men and women that each of us owe our very existence to.

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USN sea story.

Builders;

Today I enjoyed one of my life’s priceless blessings: being 53 years old and still having my father to spend the whole day with. I sat with dad today and we spoke about a great number of things on his mind. To balance some of the somber thoughts in the last story, a short, lighter one:

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Above, with the .45 and 7x50s is Father at age 26. The sign reads “Welcome US Army to Okinawa Courtesy of ACB (Amphibious Construction Battalion)  ONE Seabees”. This was during the Korean war, not WWII.  To prepare for landings in the Korean war, US forces practiced on Okinawa, which most people forget is only 600 miles from Korea. It was a close location under US control that offered some secrecy.

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In amphibious invasions of that era, some of the first people ashore were Seabees. They developed ‘welcome’ signs to remind everyone they were out front. This wasn’t just true in Pacific battles, Seabees were places at Anzio and D-Day. In the picture above, Dad is a Lt.jg, commander of ‘Dog’ company of ACB-ONE. This was one of the lighter moments before heading north to Korea.

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When an LST headed to the beach, the first vehicle down the ramp was usually a bulldozer run by a Seabee. It went out ahead because it was far less prone to getting stuck than a tank. The moment the doors open and the ramp drops, the vehicles poured out as fast as possible.

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Because landings were typically made at 4am, the Navy wisely chose to have Japanese harbor pilots, who knew the waters,  on the LST’s for the practice landings at Okinawa. These men had been officers in the Imperial Japanese Navy, fighting the US just 6 years earlier.

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On the very first landing, my father stood above the well deck with a bull horn, directing the vehicles the last minute to the beach. Beside him was a former Japanese Navy officer, observing. Everything looked perfect right up to the moment the Seabee bull dozer moved forward. It accidently hooked the blade on the door frame, and jammed on the ramp. The tank behind it lurched forward and hit the bulldozer, preventing it from backing up and freeing itself, In the dark, bathed in noise, no one behind could tell what was happening. Pandemonium broke out with Seabees and Marines shouting at each other and nothing headed down the ramp. A general altercation ensued. Dad, powerless, watched a perfectly choreographed maneuver fall apart.  He noticed the Japanese officer standing next to him staring incredulously. Evidently he had a very hard time rationalizing how his nation has just lost a war to clowns like these.

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I want to say thank you to all the people who took a moment to share a thought or a prayer for Dad. He is actually doing much better this week, and we are working to bring him home in the next week. It is my genuine wish that everyone understands that speaking of my father is just a specific appreciation for my great general respect for men of his generation, and what we all received from them. Dad would be the first person to correct anyone who even suggested that he was someone special. He is most comfortable when people identify him as simple participant in events that mattered. I trust that many of you who’s fathers had similar experiences had that same perspective in your own homes. Whenever someone wants to speak of admirable men in front of my father, he will always turn the conversation to his own father, who lived from 1891-1960. Perhaps most fortunate men look upon their own fathers with a profound sense of gratitude. I do.

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I am staying in NJ until Dad is back home, and then I am headed to my hangar in Florida for a few weeks to build back up the inventory of parts on the shelf. After that, I am flying back to California to resume the last legs of the Western Tour. The goal is to return to Florida and have a solid month to work before heading to Oshkosh. I have been out of the shop a long time, but keep in mind that the Weseman’s take care of the distribution of our catalog parts now (Outlook 2016, New order page and distribution method. ) so anything ordered doesn’t have to wait for me to be in Florida to get it on it’s way to your shop.

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Patriotism has no Party

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I spent today in New Jersey, beside the hospital bed of my 90 year old father. In the afternoon, a kindly young nurse came in and asked a standard battery of questions, which ended with “would you say you are happy? Do you have bad dreams?” My father softly smiles and says “No, I’m fine.”  Although my father is a scrupulously honest man, he is not telling the truth here: In the past hours he has awoken a number of times, startled to find himself in a room he doesn’t recognize, when a moment before he was in a war, far away, in both geography and time.

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The dreams are rooted in memories, unwanted souvenirs that followed him home from three wars and 33 years on active duty.  It is a near endless macabre library of images awaiting his eyes to close: An old woman pointing out a booby trap in the iron triangle; an F-8F ramp striking the USS Randolph, leaving only a floating tire; Severed heads from highway 1 south of Da Nang; A friendly fire accident by the USS North Carolina; A drunken sailor, drowned himself off Inchon; 23 classmates dying in a single day; A radio call from a Special Forces camp being over run; A friend handing him goodbye letters, explaining his number was up; a Huey floor slippery with blood; Having approved the pass for a man aboard the USS Thresher; His brother, Chief Ryan appearing Christmas week and saying his ship, the USS Vincennes, had gone to the bottom with 322 shipmates; His own father crying hearing the news my father was returning to Korea; A young officer, who survived the same tour, returning home, arrives in the middle of the night at Wake island, decides to dive into the pool to cool off, but it had been emptied. He dies in route to Pearl Harbor; a woman, unaware she is already a widow, awaits in Coronado expecting a happy reunion. It is endless, and these are the ones he can speak of. There are countless others for which words can not be found.

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Father never spoke of these things until he was past 70. Slowly over time his skin thinned, and he slowly became porous, and leaked these images. Today, as an aging survivor, an eye witness to a particularly violent century, he feels obligated to remember the departed, but the memories bring him no more peace than his silence did. We listen, but we were not there, and if you were not there, his words will bring you little closer to the images in his mind. He is surrounded by family, but in coping with these images, he is alone.

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Most Americans of a certain age can recall some of President Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural speech: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” These were not mere words to men of my Father’s profession, it was a cause to pledge your very life to. My Father did not care if the poor of the world chose collective farming or workers wanted social reforms. He just recognized that political systems that don’t value individuals always degenerate to Gestapos, concentration camps, gulags and mass graves. My Father fought to stop the spread of these things. He did not fight for glory, national honor nor American business interests. It was only about human beings.

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When I was little, maybe 9, my Father took us to The Jefferson Memorial. There he explained to us that The United States of America was neither a business nor a playground, it is a set of ideals, which made it the last best hope of mankind. The dream that mankind had moved past kings and dictators, past theocrats and oppressors, to a world where individuals governed themselves as equals. We could look at the ceiling and read Jefferson’s words plainly:

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“I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

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 From there we went to Arlington, where my father explained that the nation had set aside an eternal resting place for the citizens who had laid down their lives for the ideals of this country, and if he were ever to take a place among them, we should not weep, as it would only mean that he had lived for something greater than himself.

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The title of this story is simple: Although both parties in this country want to claim ownership of patriotism, their narcissistic candidates and zealot followers don’t own it nor have any right bestow it on anyone.  Like most career officers of his generation, my father never spoke of politics, and had no allegiance to any candidate. In the privacy of our home, he expressed his great admiration of FDR. Dad has been a life long vocal opponent of discrimination in any form, and he felt there was no need for any child in this country to be hungry. My fathers views on a just society would make him a traditional Liberal Democrat, but his views on personal integrity often leave him unable to support nominated candidates.

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When I am enduring a lecture on the evils of FDR from a person born since 1945 who has never gone a even a few days without food, far less years with little hope, I suspect they would soften their zealot views if they had actually lived through the Great Depression as my father did. When I read forwards and stories claiming that no one with liberal social values supports this country, I think perhaps they wouldn’t send that to me if they understood they were slandering my Father; When an occasional tree hugging idiot assumes that he is entitled to address every old man in a veteran cap as a war monger, including my father, it makes me equally livid. Any reasonable person understands that patriotism has no party, and the country we live in, was provided for us by men of many perspectives, but in election years, our country seems woefully short of reasonable people, and overflowing with vocal zealots, all of who would benefit from some personal first hand experience with others they are so quick to condemn.

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This is my issue, my Father is bothered by none of this. He is from a generation of men who’s love of country and family were strong enough to never need the acknowledgement of others, far less praise nor reward. They were motivated solely by belief and love.

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Above, a 17 year old enlisted man in WWII.  To understand why my grandfather, a WWI combat veteran objected, read this: A clarification and a century old story.

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 Above, on the left, my Father stands in the rubble of downtown Seoul, Korea, in 1952. At the time, my Father was a company commander with ACB-ONE

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Above, Father at the table (holding the papers) Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MAC-V) in Saigon, 1966.

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The photo above was taken in early 1968,  In my 5-year-old hand, I hold the Bronze Star awarded to my father during his 1967 tour in Vietnam.

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Above, my father’s official USN photo circa 1975.  His service remains the centerpiece of his life’s work. Please take a minute to read: William Edward Wynne Sr. –  Father’s Day Notes; it is a story I wrote about father on his 84th birthday.

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Below an excerpt from : Thought for The Day – Have we squandered the great gift?

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“I have not watched TV at home in many, many years. But here, in the home of my parents, I sit beside by father, his mobility robbed by age, as he looks into the TV to find some evidence that we have not squandered the gift, a free world, which we received from the men of his generation, perhaps your father among them. It is a gift we didn’t earn, they purchased it for us anyway, at a staggering human cost.

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Father is an eternal optimist, he only needs to find some trace of good that was built on the foundation we were bequeathed. But in an hour, there is nothing to hold on to, nothing to salvage from the endless waste of consumerism, at astronomic levels of narcissism, all acts of selfless heroic deeds pushed aside by a tide of greed and gluttony, bathed in comments from the most inane actors pretending to be journalists, offering no insight, only triggering knee-jerk emotional reactions to dog whistle phrases.

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I do not look at the screen, I only see it reflected in my fathers glasses as sifts through news channels looking for some bit of rectitude hidden in the waste. When I can take no more, I put my hand on his, and impulsively say “I am sorry”. For a moment he looks in my eyes to assess if I really understand what the gift cost. At this moment I understand that every old story was told in the hopes that we might understand what was done for us, not so we would thank them, just so that we wouldn’t waste it. On this day, I remain profoundly sorry for how little we have done with the gift.”

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Alan Laudani 3,000 cc runs at CC #38

Builders:

Vision builder Alan Laudani fired up his 3,000 cc Covair on Sunday at 10:00 am, and put down the last run of CC #38. It started in a few seconds of cranking, and ran straight through a perfect break in run.

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Above, Alan standing beside his engine just before the run.

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Words of Freedom at CC #38.

Builders:

15 year Air Force veteran, mother of two, and student pilot Jamie Boyer personally endorses the message of freedom on one of our older Flycorvair shirts.

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I coined the phrase in 1999, for a particular woman, but the shirt proved very popular with men who shared the experience , even though most of them were not Corvair builders. Grace was wearing one at Oshkosh 2003 when Burt Rutan stopped her and gave her his home address so  we could mail him one.

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Pilots who  have the support of their better half find the slogan to have odd grammar and wording.  Conversely, those who have moved past  chapters in life find the words christal clear.

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Nate Maier’s 3,000 cc Sonex engine runs at CC #38

Builders,

The featured engine today is the 3,000 cc Corvair for his Sonex. I laid down its first test run today. It fired right up and ran perfect during the full break in run.

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Above , a short film of the engine running  at 2,200 rpm.

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Mike Weaver’s Piet at CC 38. 

Builders:

Featured run of the day;  2700 cc with Weseman bearing, all gold systems and a very detailed installation. 

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Mike Weavers uncovered Pietenpol air camper at Corvair College 38. This was the first time the engine ever started. After 3 seconds of cranking it fired right off and then ran great.

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