Monday, September 30, 2013

Another Wedding: Guests and Friends 1

About two weeks after the SE Minnesota, small town wedding, I attended another wedding.  This wedding was in Minneapolis and celebrated the marriage of the daughter of friends.  Once again, my job was easy....take photographs and enjoy the evening.

Meet Bruce!

I've known Bruce for a few years now.  He is bright, funny, and full of stories.  He is a retired police officer and worked homicide for the last three years of his career.  Shall we say he has a interesting, and earthy, perspective on life?  My job stories aren't nearly as interesting as his!

Thanks Bruce!   Hopefully we can cross paths again this fall!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Men are Simple Creatures

I travel a fair amount for business.  Certainly not as much as some; but a lot more than others. Most of the time I travel alone.  That means I get out and eat at a lot of places. And, most of the time, I eat at these places alone.

So, now and then you need to find something fun to do to get out of the routine.

Sometimes we play with big toys.  Sometimes we play with little toys.   And, sometimes, we just play with what is at hand.  Men are simple creatures.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Playing Star Wars

Occasionally the Big D and Little H get to stay over night at Papas.  I thoroughly enjoy having them visit.  But, I am occasionally in a quandary about how to entertain them. 

So, I have toys.  Lots of toys.  And, they like to play with the toys.

And, I can play with them when they play with the toys.  I help put puzzles together.   I hold the dolly.   I read books.

But, the Big D stumped me a while back when he asked me to play Star Wars.  Huh?

I did my best.

Here are all the Star Wars guys around the camp fire.  Turns out that Darth Vader was having a neighborhood get together.   You know, a bon fire with beer and weenies.

As is usual, people tend to sit with those they know.  So, Luke and the boys are together.

And Darth and the storm troopers are together

Finally, after enough beer, Luke and his father start to talk about the good old times.   Notice, this could get ugly.  They could end up all huggie and stuff.  But, at this moment, their light sabers are at the ready.  It turns out that there was not a light sabre dual that evening and they ended up talking about some Oprah show.

So, the evening was a success.  But, isn't it always like someone to drink to much and pass out.

I was informed that I don't know how to play Star Wars. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Sport of Kings: 2

It takes about 25-30 minutes between races.   I suppose it is sufficient time to get the next horses ready and give people time to read the racing sheet.  It is actually quite fascinating in terms of the statistics that are kept.

Well, the race was over in about 60 seconds.

In this particular race, I want to point out that I picked two horses to win.  Yes, you can do that.....Neither did.   But, they did come in second and third.  And, the second place finisher lost by just a neck.  I have no idea what that is, either.

But, I lost.  And, I lost big.

Maybe I will actually study the racing thingamajig the next time.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Sport of Kings: 1

I don't often get to a race track to bet on the ponies.  But, it happened that a vendor was sponsoring an event.  So, I decided to tag along, looking even more like a nerd with my camera.

It takes a LONG time between races.  First, someone walks the track to make sure it is clear.

And, then the horses need to get to the gate.  Sometimes they are nervous and need a little time.  So, they walk them a bit.  Sometimes they go left to right.

And, sometimes they go right to left.

I have no idea why. 

But, while all of this is going on, there is some serious betting on the races.  More on the race, and the betting, tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Small Town Wedding: Other Guests

Meet Emily!

Emily was having a wonderful time dancing and visiting with guests.  So, I just had to ask for a photo.


Monday, September 23, 2013

A Small Town Wedding: The Tossing of the Bouquet

Nothing generates as much as excitement as the tossing of the bouquet.  The wedding photographer had left (nope..that wasn't my job: my job was to just have fun which is exactly what I prefer).  However, since the official photographer had left, I was asked to capture this moment.

Now you know why I don't do wedding photography.   Note....the speakers from the DJ in the front right corner.  I suppose I could have cropped them out.  But, I want something to remind me of why I don't want to do wedding photographs!

On the other hand, here is the exact moment of the scramble for the football in the end zone....bouquet for the next bride.    Note, there was nearly a fumble but I believe the young lady to the right actually recovered for the score.....or something like that.  

After this, the camera was put away and I retired from the wedding photography business. 

But...THANKS to the parents of the bride who were nice enough to ask me to do a few photos.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Small Town Wedding: The Immediate Family

Meet the bride's family.
Grandparents, parents, and brother. 

It was a nice reception.  And, it was nice to see the celebration of a new future. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Small Town Wedding: Guests!

It is always nice to get a chance to meet new people.  At a wedding, of course, there are two sides coming together.  So, there are a lot of new people to meet.

I actually don't recall this woman's name.  But, she sat next to me for a while at the reception and we had a lovely conversation.  If memory serves me correctly, she was a principal, or vice-principal, at a school in Wisconsin. 

But, I do recall she was a marathon runner and was in Boston for the race this year.  She is in at least one of the photographs from the bombing.  She that moment.  

We had a lot to talk about after that!

My sincere thanks!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Small Town Wedding: The Father of the Bride

Meet Mark!

I liked his hat!   He was having a great time visiting with friends and family.  And, of course, making sure everything was running smoothly.

Time to push the hat back and relax.   The evening has gone well.

Thanks Mark!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Small Town Wedding: Family

It is fun to see family celebrating.

Let's see.  The mother of the bride (center) and two of her aunts. 

No shortage of smiles and hugs.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Small Town Wedding: The Bride and Groom

Meet the bride and groom!

Ahhh...their first dance together as husband and wife.   May they have many more.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Small Town Wedding: Grandparents of the Bride

Meet Carroll and Lois.    Grandparents of the bride.

I guess it isn't just the bride and groom that get a little smooch in during a reception.

Thanks Carroll and Lois!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Wedding in SE Minnesota: The Country and Small Town Church

There are hundreds of small churches that dot the rural Midwest.  There are Lutherans, Methodists, Catholics, and a few Baptists, as well.  These churches are a part of the communities in which they reside.  In most cases, they have been part of those communities for 4 generations or more. 

It is fun to walk into some of them.  The floors are old wood, stained dark.  They creak when you walk on them.  There are stained glass windows, most often donated by a family in memory of a loved one.

So, it was time to head for a church in such an area earlier this summer.

I tend to enjoy the balcony.  It is generally less crowded! 

And, sometimes you get a nice image or two of the proceedings.

There is nothing that provides more "local color" of a community than being at a wedding.  All the traditions are there.  It is most interesting to me to observe these and appreciate them for what they are.  They provide structure and meaning in people's lives.

It is a gift to be a part of these celebrations.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Final Post from the Air Show: Spectators

Meet Person 1 and Person 2!

They were kind enough to let me grab a photo before heading out.  They were SUPPOSED to email me with their names and something about themselves.  But, since that didn't happen, I give you:  Person 1 and Person 2.

They were quite delightful and they were clearly having a nice time at the Air Show.  And, if memory servers me correctly, they did point me to food!  I was starving!

My sincere  Person 1 and Person 2.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

After the Flight: Safety Equipment

As I wandered around the airport and looked at planes, I was pleased to see they had safety equipment in the event planes had to crash land. 

At least they had something soft and squishy to fall on.

I guess they just have to get the little kids off of it before they need it for emergency use.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Forming up In Flight

On my plane ride, it was pretty cool to see the other planes coming into formation.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Son Tey POW Raid

Meet Bill Guenon!

Bill was the pilot of the lead C-130 Special Operations Aircraft during the Son Tey raid in North Vietnam.  An artists depiction of the raid is below.

The Son Tey raid took place in 1970.  US Intelligence had identified a POW camp (Son Tay) that was just outside of Hanoi.  This raid involved Bill flying the C-130 and leading the way for 6 helicopters at night, to the POW camp.  It was surrounded by air-defense weapon systems.  Unfortunately, the camp had been abandoned before the raid started.  

For years, the story of this raid has been told by those who weren't there.  Bill was the first to write about it when he authored his "Secret and Dangerous Night of the Son Tay POW Raid". 

If you are curious about this raid, check out

Bill also has a competitive spirit.  He finished third in the 1969 Great Atlantic Air Race that started at the top of the Empire State Building in New York and ended at the top of London's Post Office Tower.  In begin at the top of the Empire State Building and either run down the stairs or take the elevator.  Car, motorcycle, walk, run, train, helicopter, race car, etc to the airport.   Grab a plane (well..not just any plane..YOUR plane, of course), fly to London, land, car, motorcycle, walk, run, train, etc to the London Post Office.  And, up the stairs you go!  His time:  7 hrs, 39 minutes, and 42 seconds.  NOT BAD!   I don't think I can do it faster even now!

Thanks Bill!

Monday, September 9, 2013

A B-17 Gunner from WWII

Meet Richard (Dick) Kaminski!

Dick was drafted in August, 1943 into the Armed Forces. He transferred to the Air Force in October, 1943 and started Cadet school in November.  The program actually closed before he completed it so he found himself on the way to gunnery school. 

He arrived in Glatton, UK and was assigned to the 457th Bomb Group.   During the war he flew 15 combat missions.  The longest of those missions was just over 10 hrs. 

Thanks Dick!!


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Forward Air Controllers

Meet Bruce Young!

Bruce was born in Minnesota and graduated from St. Thomas in 1968.  He completed his Officer Training School in December 1968 and was soon off to the USAF ALO/FAC Training Course. 

From September 1970 to September 1971, he was stationed at DaNang and flew the OV-10 as a Forward Air Controller over the Ho Chi Minh Trail, Laos.  he accumulated a total of 680 combat hours and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and 10 Air Medals.

If you want to know what a FAC flies, this will give you an idea!

His job was to fly low, take photographs, spot the enemy and assist with the attacks by directing planes.  This was not a safe job!

Thanks Bruce!

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Phantom II F-4 Pilot

Pete was born in Warren, MN in 1942.  After graduating from college in 1964, he was commissioned and soon started flight training. 

Meet Pete Carlson!

From November 1966 through July 1967, he flew 133 combat missions with 100 of them over N. Vietnam.  He was awarded 2 Distinguished Flying Cross and 13 Air Medals.

He has a great smile and laugh, too!

Thanks Pete! 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

WWII: The German Me-109 Pilot

As I wandered around the various tables chatting with pilots from WWII, Viet Nam, Korea, etc. I grew somewhat accustomed to the various uniforms.  They were familiar.

Then, I turned and saw Gottfried.

Meet Gottfried Dulias:

You can see why the uniform threw me a bit.  I wasn't expecting to see a German pilot.

Gottfried was born in 1925, near the beginning of Hitler's rise to power.  His father was a former Prussian military officer who made Gottfried "toe the line".  For his 5th birthday he received a large kite.  And, from that moment, he was hooked on flying. 

He became a member of the Hitler Jugend, a boys group that instilled patriotism and was the draw to the military.

In 1943 when he turned 18, he was summoned to Munich for testing to determine his military service eligibility.  He was thrilled to be inducted into the Luftwaffe.  And, by fall 1944, he was flying Messerschmitt Me-109G's against Allied bombers.  He shot down two Allied plans before he, and his entire group, were transferred to the Eastern front.  He added three more "kills" against Russian pilots.  

In March 1945, he was trailing a Russian fighter, trying to get a fourth victory when he crossed the front lines and was shot down by Russian ground fire.  He belly-landed and was captured by the Russians.  He was placed in a gulag for nearly three years.   He was released and returned to his family on January 4, 1948 and he moved to the US in 1953. 

His book, "Another Bowl of Kapusta" talks about his life, his service, and his time in the gulag.

Thank you Gottfried. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The PBY Pilot

If you don't know what a PBY is, take a look and do some reading here.

And, meet Walter Hartmann:  Pilot of a Martin PBM-3 and PBM-5.

Walter didn't say much about his own flying experiences.  But, I did find out he was responsible for sinking several Japanese ships and flew a lot of anti-submarine warfare (ASW) patrols. 

But, he was VERY interested in telling me about this photographer he met who took these:

That's history right there.   That was...amazing.

Thanks Walter!


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Flying Tigers

In 1942, the 23rd Fighter Group of the US Armey Air Force replaced the American Volunteer "Flying Tigers" in China.  They acquired the P-40's as well as a very difficult mission.  They were always short of pilots, fuel, and ammunition.  They flew out of primitive air fields often cut into the jungle.

Nevertheless, this group became the highest scoring aerial unit in the China-Burma-India theater achieving 594 aerial victories and destroying nearly 400 Japanese aircraft on the ground.

Meet Wayne Johnson!

Wayne was born in a small farm near Ortonville, Minnesota.  He started flying as a teenage and often swapped flying lessons for farm chores.  He joined the Air Corp on December 8th, 1941.   Yup...that's the day after Pearl Harbor. 

He was inducted into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame in 2001.  And, the Silver Bay airport was renamed in his honor in 2005. 

Check out his book!
Thanks Wayne!  

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Aviation Hero's: WWII Ball Turret Gunner

Meet Simon Velasquez.

Simon enlisted into the Army/Airforce and was assigned to the 379th Bomb Group in December, 1943.  He flew several missions over the English Channel.   On April 13th, 1944, Simon's B-17 was shot down by a Messerschmitt 109 over Schweinfurt, Germany. 

He was able to parachute out of the plane and was carried nearly 80 miles from the wreckage due to high winds.   He was badly injured, breaking his legs and several ribs.   He was soon captured by the Germans and was placed in Stalag 17.  He was one of only five Mexicans in the entire prison camp.  He and the rest of the Mexican prisoners were beaten weekly by the Germans who considered him less "human" than the Americans. 

He survived 20 months and was eventually rescued by General Patton.

Following the war, he spent two years in a hospital in Denver recovering from his injuries.

My sincere thanks to Mr. Velasquez.   It was a great honor to chat with him and shake his hand.