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Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Turning Point - The Doolittle Raid

Shortly after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, by Japanese bombers from aircraft carriers on December 7, 1941, American Navy and Air Force personnel gave an okay to the retaliatory Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, Japan.  The raid, conceived by Lieut. Col. James Doolittle of the Air Force, called for attacking Tokyo from 16 B-25 bombers flown from an aircraft carrier.  These Bombers were twin engine and much heavier and larger than the single engine Japanese bombers which attacked Pearl Harbor; but the Air and Naval Forces managed to fit these bombers on the new aircraft carrier Hornet.  

It took time to gather together the voluntary Air Force pilots and crewmen to fly this dangerous mission; but by April 2, 1942, the 80 volunteers and 16 bombers were on the Hornet leaving San Francisco Bay scheduled to arrive on April 18 at the departure point for the bombers only 600 miles from Tokyo; because of early detection by Japanese fishing boats it was decided to launch the bombers from 800 miles from Tokyo, so at 8 AM the 16 bombers cleared the deck of the Hornet on their way to Japan. After they dropped their bombs on industrial sites in Tokyo, the bombers headed for China to land at certain pre-designated airfields there. 

However, none of the 16 planes made it to the pre-designated airfields in friendly China because of lack of fuel; 15 crashed in Chinese territory occupied by the Japanese and one landed in the Soviet Union. Only 3 pilots were killed and 8 captured by the Japanese; the remaining airmen found their way to unoccupied China, escaping capture, and returning home.  The Chinese who helped them were savaged by the Japanese with 250,000 civilians killed while searching for the airmen.  Three of the 8 airmen captured by the Japanese were executed, the rest held prisoner, one dying in captivity.

Following the end of World War II, Doolittle and the remaining pilots and crew of the original 80 agreed to meet every year to celebrate the heroic effort to take the war directly to the Japanese by bombing Tokyo and other major cities in Japan. The first of these celebrations involving a toast given by one of the remaining airmen at the celebration was 1954; in the following years a toast was made to honor all of the pilots and crewmen who made the raid.  

Originally it was planned to have the last toast made by one of the 2 remaining Raiders by opening a special 1896 cognac provided by their commander, Lt. Gen. James "Jimmy" Doolittle; but at their Veterans Weekend of 2013 celebration there were only 4 survivors, one of whom could not make the meeting because he was in the hospital for reasons of health. Since all 4 survivors are in their 90’s, the 3 who attended this celebration held at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio decided that this meeting would be the last; opening the 1896 cognac, the last toast honoring the 80 heroes was made. 

These 80 men were truly heroes and the Doolittle raid was not just a show of our ability to give it to the Japanese homeland; it actually embarrassed the Japanese so much that they changed their plans of securing their positions in Southeast Asia and Australia.  Admiral Yamamoto, the head of the naval forces of Japan decided to instead attack our base on Midway Island and draw the American carriers into the battle to destroy them.   

Fortunately for America this decision resulted in not only the time needed by General Douglas MacArthur to forestall the takeover of all of Southeast Asia and Australia by the Japanese forces, it also resulted in the sinking of all 4 top aircraft carriers used by the Japanese to bomb Pearl Harbor, with a loss on our side of only the carrier Yorktown. It was the turning point in the Asian war and the Japanese forces from then on were in retreat.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Life is Unfair

When we think of life being unfair we actually can think of some contest with another person or group of people in which we consider ourselves at a disadvantage we think is unfair. There are many examples. There are many stages in life wherein we may think ourselves in some unfair disadvantage. When we are young in elementary school we may feel that our size, weight or a host of other physical or mental abilities in comparison to our classmates put us at a disadvantage.   This may be the situation in our continued educational, social and work environments. Even in our family situations we may feel that we have been put at a disadvantage in comparison to another member of our family who might seem to have been favored unfairly in some way within the family.

In particular, sibling rivalry comes to mind as a particular situation in which one party feels at a disadvantage because of favoritism which seems to have been fostered upon a brother or sister.  Whether such a favoritism is genuine or not is not the real concern that the siblings should have in an attempt to avoid perhaps an even lifelong destruction of any normal relationship between themselves.   Determining the relative importance of the favoritism felt bears heavily upon the quality of their lives to be shared in the future.   What is the point of developing possibly a mutual hatred of one another instead of just determining that a feeling of favoritism is not worth destroying what otherwise could be a normal and good relationship?

A very good example of how God’s working with families to bring about a peaceful and loving result within the family when discord is present, is the story of Jacob’s family and the need for a resolution of a serious problem of sibling rivalry, taken from Genesis of the Old Testament; this story has been produced in a contemporary version in the enjoyable musical entitled Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”

Joseph is the youngest of 12 sons of Jacob, living in Canaan; Jacob has a special love for his son, Joseph, whom he favors. Joseph in turn is favored by God who has given him a very special gift of interpreting dreams.  Joseph’s 11 brothers become very jealous because he is so favored and additionally they feel his interpretation of their dreams puts Joseph above them. When Joseph is given a beautiful coat of many colors, the brothers determine to get rid of Joseph. On a certain day all the brothers leave on a trip. At a certain point in the trip they plan to kill Joseph, but are turned away from this murder by one of the brothers; so they determine to abandon him in a deep well but then finally decide to sell him as a slave to traders traveling to Egypt.

The 11 brothers return to their father Jacob with the many colored coat soiled with the blood of an animal; they tell their father that Joseph has been killed by a wild animal.  Jacob was greatly saddened by the loss of his son and mourns the loss for a long time. In the meantime, Joseph is sold as a slave in Egypt.  

Joseph goes through many adventures until he finds himself in the dungeons of the Pharaoh of Egypt. Through the use of his powers to interpret dreams he interprets the dreams of the Pharaoh; the interpretation of the pharaoh’s dreams predict 7 years of plenty followed by 7 years of famine. The Pharaoh is so pleased that the dreams he had have been correctly interpreted that he appoints Joseph as governor of Egypt to carry out what is necessary to store food during the years of plenty and provide for the proper distribution of food during the years of famine.

Back in Canaan, during the time of plenty, Joseph's brothers become more and more sorry for what they did to their brother and miss even the interpretations of their dreams which are beginning to come true. At the end of the years of plenty they are caught unawares at the start of the famine and after a short period the 11 brothers are forced to travel to Egypt for food where, they have learned, the Egyptians have plenty of food; they travel to Egypt and meet the governor whom they do not recognize as Joseph.  Joseph does not immediately reveal himself until he has tested them and come to the understanding of their repentance and their current goodwill; eventually Joseph reveals himself as their brother. 

All the brothers now are happy in their renewed brotherly love for each other; Joseph grants them permission to live in Egypt after Jacob is brought down from Canaan for a happy reunion with Joseph and all his other sons. All is forgotten and forgiven and all now understand that God has used the former hatred for Joseph as a means of bringing all the family members together again in love so that God is able to continue His plan for the Jewish people − a plan promised to Abraham, the Father of Believers − who is the ancestor of Jacob.