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Military Heritage Chronicles

March 15, 2019

Welcome Home

I have written roughly one hundred Military Heritage Chronicles over the last decade, covering a wide variety of eras of military disciplines. A few of those have dealt with the Vietnam War, which I always struggle with, as I did not serve there, or then, when many of my friends and acquaintances did.

February 06, 2019

Civil War in Oregon

When you mention “Civil War” these days, particularly in Western Oregon, most folks immediately think of the annual battle between orange and green, not the battle between blue and grey that took place in the southeastern United States 158 years ago. Although the annual collegiate battle first took place nearly as far back in 1894, other than the common name reference, the similarities probably end there.

January 14, 2020

Thirty Seconds Over…Oregon

Okay, I know it should really say ‘Over Tokyo’, but did you know that the Bombardment Group that flew that impactful raid in 1942 also flew over Oregon as well?

In 1941, even before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States Army Air Corps’ 17th Bombardment Group was one of four military units stationed at Pendleton Field in Eastern Oregon in April, with their B-25 Mitchell bombers arriving in November.  In December of that year they began flying antisubmarine patrols in the new bomber.  In February of 1942 their task changed to providing heavy bombardment training, and they went on maneuvers with Army ground forces in the South, but returned to Pendleton immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor.

January 01, 2020

Remembering Pearl Harbor

Ned Hickson’s editorial in the December 8th edition of The Siuslaw News was an excellent reminder of why we must remember that iconic day in our nation’s military heritage. Like many of you, I am sure, I watched various documentaries or movies on that day’s horrific event as part of my homage to those heroes. I really enjoyed one that had been recently updated to incorporate newer information about why our military on the islands was caught so unaware – primarily because of the bureaucracy in Washington DC not passing on pertinent information.

November 01, 2018

Oregon’s Connection to WWI

As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War, or WWI if you prefer, it coincides with Veterans Day which began 99 years ago as Armistice Day in celebration of the same event. While we no longer enjoy any living WWI Veterans after losing the last surviving Veteran, Frank Buckles, in 2011 Oregon does enjoy a unique connection to WWI in the contributions of an Oregonian named Walter Waters.

October 16, 2018

Umatilla Military Facility

I recently hauled home yet another derelict old military jeep that brought back some childhood memories, and caused me to re-discover an iconic Oregon military facility I had nearly forgotten. The jeep is a 1952 M38A1 which was originally purchased in 1975 by a family in Hermiston, Oregon at a surplus auction at the then Umatilla Chemical Depot

September 03, 2018

The Poppy Tradition

We’ve all been there ….walking up to the entrance at a shopping mall or major retailer and you have to negotiate past a couple of elder-gentlemen in some style of uniform you don’t recognize, without getting solicited for a donation in exchange for an artificial flower.


What’s it all about? Who are these guys, or gals, volunteering their time for some cause?

August 07, 2018

Women in the Military

Continuing our effort to honor all disciplines of service and all eras of military heritage, this Chronicles edition picks up on the topic of women in the military last touched on in 2012.


While women in the military are sometimes portrayed by Hollywood with occasional roles out of WWII, we’ve seen more recent service portrayed such as in the 1996 “Courage Under Fire” with actress Meg Ryan portraying a chopper pilot killed in action during the Gulf War.

July 10, 2018

Food fo Thought

We’ve covered a broad range of topics over the years in the Chronicles, and I thought we’d touch on food fed to our troops over the years. After all, I am a distant relative of the Applebee restaurant franchise – but as we say in my side of the family, “we know them, but they don’t know us”.


This topic really covers the entire alphabet with something every pallet – richness, blandness, sweetness and salty. Starting with the Civil War, when field kitchens on the battle fields couldn’t keep up with the task of feeding troops due to complex logistics, the government attempted to feed soldiers with salt pork and hardtack, a stale biscuit, as an early attempt at individual rations.

June 12, 2018

The Iconic Jeep

It has been almost eight years since I first wrote an edition of the Chronicles on the development of the iconic jeep vehicle.  With our second annual Jeep Junction coming up on Saturday, June 16th at Johnston Motor Company, I thought it might be time to revisit that topic.

May 08, 2018

Armed Forces and Rhody Days

Our annual Rhody Days is fast approaching, where the entire community comes out in a variety of ways to celebrate this century-plus tribute to our community’s heritage.  Our streets and highways will fill with tourist traffic, not to mention us locals, for several days. Our town will be buzzing with activities such as a vendor’s fair on Maple Street. The Port will be over flowing with the Davis Carnival, who has been a part of the celebration since 1955!

April 02, 2018

Our Vietnam Veterans

On March 29th we celebrated a new federal commemorative holiday, National Vietnam Veterans Recognition Day, with some great coverage of the event by Mark Brennan here in the pages of the Siuslaw News. It is obviously long over-due given the “welcome home” these Vets didn’t receive originally.

March 09, 2018

Blimps at War

Not being a Veteran, my fascination with things military started as a kid growing up in Tillamook. Even though I didn’t visit the WWII blimp hangars located there until my young adult years, I did learn of their existence and importance to WWII efforts while spending hours viewing the Tillamook Pioneer Museum displays.

February 12, 2018

Cold War Revisited

Its been ten years since I last wrote about the Cold War.  In doing research recently for our upcoming class on that topic as a part of our six-part LCC series, I was reminded of two things:


First, it is such a broad topic and covers so much fabric of our society, it is certainly impossible to do the topic justice in a short article or even a two-hour class.  Secondly, with recent events concerning North Korea and Russia over the past couple years, it is also certainly no longer ‘cold’.


Of course, our Cold War battle goes back decades to the end of WWII when relations with communist Soviet Union continued to decline in the post-war years, followed then shortly with the Korean War just a few years later, and the far-reaching control of the Kim family in North Korea, also dating back to WWII.

January 01, 2018

Oregon’s Early Military Heritage

When one thinks of military heritage in conjunction with the State of Oregon, we often think in terms of WWII with the Japanese shelling of Ft. Stevens, the fire balloons launched by the Japanese to destroy our forests in Southern Oregon, or even the home front beach patrols to guard against Japanese invasion from the Pacific Ocean.

December 06, 2017

21 Gun Salute or Three Rifle Volley

In a prior edition, we visited about the military tradition of posting of colors by an Honor Guard or Color Guard, and promised to come back to explore and sort out 21-Gun Salute vs. Three Rifle Volley traditions.


Though often confused by observers, particularly in the movies but also publicly-viewed ceremonies, there is a distinction. Adding to that confusion may be well publicized public figure funerals such as President Ronald Reagan who received both, for different reasons, by different people, using different weapons, during different times during that ceremony. Are we confused yet? And just like with the Honor Guard and posting of colors, the traditions date way back in history.

November 02, 2017

The Museum’s own Coastie

It’s always a good thing when several different elements become synchronized into one result that brings it all together.  Such is the case recently with the community emphasis on becoming a Coast Guard City, coinciding with our own current Museum “Veteran of the Quarter” program which features one of our own Volunteers, Bill Brown, himself a WWII USCG Veteran.

October 01, 2017

The Color of the Guard

While I value and enjoy the relationship with the various Veteran organizations in Florence as well as several individual Veterans, since I myself am not a Veteran, I don’t always know or understand appropriate protocol when it comes to military traditions.  Such was the case recently when asked to facilitate the posting of colors at the memorial service for a local elected official who was not a Veteran of military service.

September 07, 2017

‘Ute’ Ought to Know

As sometimes happens with many writers, as my deadline approached for this edition of Military Heritage Chronicles, I was experiencing a serious writers-block, which is pretty amazing considering there are literally thousands of topics available to write about military heritage.  But I was rescued by a call from my friend Barney who said “Hey, I’ve got a great story idea for you.”  And he did. His motivation was simple: he owns a 1950 Ford Ute – which whenever he drives it in public, he spends two and three times longer on a journey responding to questions from curious onlookers.

August 07, 2017

U.S. Coast Guard Station Siuslaw River – Century of Tradition

It has been several years since I first wrote about our local US Coast Guard Station Siuslaw River, and it’s time to update that story, for a variety of reasons.  The City of Florence is on the cusp of being named a ‘Coast Guard City’, only one of three in Oregon and one of 24 across the nation.  It is an honor for our community to be recognized so by the United States Coast Guard for the special efforts that we have proven for showing the appreciation for our own ‘Coasties’ here in Florence. There will be a ceremony on Wednesday August 16th to bestow this honor on our community, by none other than Rear Admiral David Throop, Commander of Coast Guard 13th District. In conjunction with that ceremony, Station Siuslaw River will be holding an open house that same day and open its doors for the public to see what they do and meet the crew.

July 19, 2017

“It Doesn’t Matter…”

I recently had the distinct honor of speaking to the nearly 500 Veterans and guests who were in attendance at the 99th annual Oregon State Convention for the American Legion, hosted here in Florence by our own Post 59.  While the primary purpose for my presentation was to update those mostly-visitors about the Oregon Coast Military Museum, I couldn’t help also using it as an opportunity to thank them for their service to our nation throughout the last several decades represented by those in attendance.

June 07, 2017

Technology Advances of WWII

It has been said that sometimes war can be the mother of necessity.  While that can be said of each and every military conflict in history, WWII perhaps has likely resulted in some of the most significant advancements of our society.  Advancements in aviation, medicine, communication, tactics and logistics, and even food – came out of WWII.  And transportation.

May 31, 2017

The Great War

Over the years since beginning the effort to build a museum as a tribute to our military members, both past and present, I have written over sixty Military Heritage Chronicles covering a wide variety of topics and a fairly wide spectrum of eras. Yet, having recently realized that April marked the 100th anniversary of our Nation’s entry into WWI, I was surprised myself when I realized ‘The Great War’ never made it as one of those topics or eras.

April 19, 2017

Winged Cloak & Dagger – the SR-71 Blackbird

When one thinks of Cold War elements like cloak & dagger or spy-vs-spy, we often think in terms of people.  However, there have been numerous technological elements over the years that figure prominently in the Cold War as well, and one of those is the iconic spy plane built by Lockheed’s legendary Skunk Works – the SR-71 Blackbird.

March 01, 2017

United States Merchant Marine

When we first started planning the Oregon Coast Military Museum we made a

commitment to honor all eras of military heritage and all disciplines of military

service. Even though we’re located adjacent to an airport, we’re not just an Air

Force or aviation museum. And just because Florence enjoys a USCG Station (and

hopefully will soon be a ‘Coast Guard City’) we’re not just a Coast Guard or naval


February 01, 2017

Vanport City

It’s good to be back on the pages of The Siuslaw News bringing you tales of military heritage and I thought I would start with a learning experience in our own back yard.

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