Knee surgery 7 weeks ago today. Coming along nicely, but still at least a month before I can go back to work (ugh!). Now, I realize this is all incredibly important news to the inhabitants of planet Earth . . .
Several more or less recent posts to our Facebook Group page (you’re not a member, you say????) that should have made it onto this site, haven’t yet. Let’s start here, with sad news from Dan Moore:
I’m very sorry to announce the passing of my grandfather, Richard “Hoppy” Hopkins. He died last Saturday, peacefully, at home, with his wife of 72 years and his family by his side.
Dick served aboard the USS Boston for 806 days—from June 30, 1942 (S2c), to November 6, 1945 (S1c). After his discharge from the Navy, he went on to serve for 23 years in the USAF, as a Deputy Sheriff near his home in Maine, as a Chief of Operations for Federal Protective Services, and as a branch manager for the FAA.
Most of my time spent with Gramps was during his retirement. He was a man beyond compare, and every Saturday I would take him to his American Legion post for drinks with his comrades. The oldest member by far, Gramps would sit there proudly in his CA-69 hat and give hell to the youngins.
A couple of years back, I bought him the set of “Baked Beans” books. He never talked about the war; he lost many friends and loved ones, including a brother in Normandy. But he did get a kick out of paging through those books!
I love you, Grampy. Rest in peace.
March, 1946 – A skeleton crew remains aboard the Boston, docked in the Navy Yard at Bremerton, WA. They are in the process of salvaging and mothballing the ship. The entire war-time crew, with a few exceptions, have headed home.
March 25, 1945: Early this morning, I got my first look at the California coastline. We pulled into the Terminal Island navy Yard flying our homeward-bound pennant. While the N.O.B.Band played and Ginny Sims sang, “Oh What a Beautiful Morning,” with a lot of brass and civilians on the pier. Just about all of the crew were on the port side. The first leave party left the ship this afternoon. We also got paid this morning and I got $630.00. I will buy my ticket tomorrow. *
March 25, 1944: This morning we joined up with the rest of the task force. We are heading northwest for a raid on Palau Island – a large island in the Western Carolines. This is the furthest west a task force has ever gone. *
March 26, 1944: Today everyone is tense and excited, we are getting closer to the islands. There were no bogies in the area. We were on Condition Three Watch except for sunset general quarters. This was a short operation, but exciting because we had a chance to shoot at some Jap planes. *Frank Studenski
March, 1943 – Each week throughout late February, March and April, hundreds of new sailors reported to the Fargo Building in Boston. They were in training and light duty, waiting for their brand-new Heavy Cruiser, CA-69 to be finished. She was just south of Boston, in the Quincy MA, Fore River Shipyard (Bethlehem Steel), being worked on round-the-clock. She had a war to join.
(proud owner of a titanium right knee)
The Kellys are at it again. Since Lisa, Bill and I have nothing better to do with our time, we decided to finally get working on our Task Force 58 website. It is partially done (with MUCH left to do), but it is up and running and if you are interested in taking a peek, check out www.taskforce58.org. I have always stressed that CA-69 was a unit of Task Force 58 and Task Force 38 – a cog in a much larger wheel. Important to see the big picture!
Lola Heiler, our friendly docent at The Emerald Conservancy in Boston (Back Bay Fens Paahk (I used my “boston accent”) emailed me with this info: Hi Steve – wanted to let you know that the OLLI UMass Boston Brown Bag Presentation – “Japan’s World Peace Bells – How Boston Became Part of the Story” – is scheduled for Wednesday 3/29 11:45a-1p. Open to members only but if anyone you know locally wants to attend, they would be my guest.
I am researching preservation grants for a shoro (bell tower) and to get the historic cherry tree grove (sakura) nearby rehabbed or replanted. They were a gift from the Japanese government in the 1950’s. Now in pretty bad shape. Also looking into how to get the bell declared an historic Boston landmark.
Anyone interested in attending this informative and fascinating look at the history of the Temple Bell salvaged by the crew of CA-69 at the end of the War, get in touch with me and I’ll connect you with Lola. (Bob – she’s hoping you can go!!). Thanks, Lola, for embracing this tremendous artifact and doing all that you do.
Finally, I’ll be out of commission for a while, recovering from knee surgery. Nobody is really interesting in reading whatever pain and drug-induced craziness might flow from my fingertips, so I’m hanging it up for the next month or so.
It seems like forever ago – I was working on the first volume of Baked Beans. Some readers of A Bird’s Eye View and this blog reached out to me with pictures of their dads, memories, and saved documents of various types. The daughter of Robert Heidl, Barb Smith, sent me copies of her Dad’s papers from his service. I picked a couple of them to share today:
In this period of bitter divide in our country, when half of our people are looking at the other half of our people with passionate disdain, Let us all take a minute to carefully read and absorb this:
Some days, it feels to me like we are losing (or have lost) the things that the Brave Men of the “Greatest Generation” fought to ensure we could keep.