Tag Archives: History

Honor A Local Veteran Today


These people are from Parsons Kansas, and are just a few veterans from my small town. I’m sure there are many more local veterans worth featuring. Parsons will always remember Cpl. Daniel Cox, killed in Afghanistan’s Wardak province in 2009.

Ron Phillips

Ron Phillips, 14th Air Force

My name is Ronald M. Phillips (Ron) and as I write this in Feb. 2012 I am within three months of turning 90. That means that I am a Veteran of WW-II, and I was drafted only a few months after the Pearl Harbor disaster at the age of 19. After my entry into the U.S. Military I managed to carefully observe the opportunities on the company bulletin board. By taking advantage of those opportunities I moved from Buck Private rank to that of “O” three, meaning–“Captain”, in the U.S. Air Corps. (which later became the U.S. Air Force.) After entering, and graduating, from the Airplane & Engine school in Glendale, CA, I entered the Aviation Cadet training center in San Antonio, TX and about a year later I graduated as a 2nd Lt. Fighter Pilot in Moore Field, McAllen TX. That put me into a ‘combat-ready’ status so I ended up being sent to China to join General Chennault’s 14th Air Force “Flying Tigers”. The “Tigers” by then, were known world-wide because of their record. In the nine months before Pearl Harbor they were known only as The A.V.G., or the “American Volunteer Group”. There were only one hundred of them to begin with. They were flying the previously used, beat-up old P-40 Warhawks, and had shot down 297 Japanese aircraft with a loss of only 12 of ours. I don’t believe that record was ever broken.

After Pearl Harbor the AVG became “The Fourteenth Air Force”, under the tutelage of Brig. Gen. Clair Lee Chennault, and that’s when I joined the Fourteenth Air Force, 23rd Fighter Group Flying Tigers. ~Ronald M. Phillips

Leon Crooks

Sgt. Leon Crooks (left) Rome, 1944

It took 66 years for Leon Crooks to be awarded a Bronze Star for his World War II service, including an act of heroism that saved the lives of around 30 soldiers.

Crooks served in Company B, Second Chemical Mortar Battalion, also known as the Red Dragon Battalion, which dates back to Aug. 17, 1917, in the first World War. It was the first chemical battalion in the U.S. ranks. Crooks had a total of 511 days in combat. This unit tied with one other unit for the number of days on the front line in the European theater of operations.

The Bronze Star award recognizes Crooks’ entire military service, from June 22, 1943, to Sept. 18, 1945, but focuses on an action on Feb. 12, 1944, after the end of the first Battle of Cassino in Italy against German and Italian forces.
The lull in fighting had provided the Allies and opportunity to relieve and replace war-weary troops, and First Sgt. Crooks and his driver, T/5 Herbert Aram were asked to move to the rear echelons to pick up replacements and bring back PFC Norman Gearhart and PFC James Egoff.

Leon Crooks receives the Bronze Star

The Germans opened up with 88mm guns, shelling members of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force, whose gear had been loaded on a mule train.

“I was talking to my driver, and I said, ‘A lot of men are going to die out there today unless we do something’,” Crooks said. “The driver said, ‘If you get a truck, I’ll drive’.”

They got a 3/4 ton weapons carrier and, making three trips under German fire, transported the New Zealand soldiers to safety.

“We’d pull up, I’d get out and load the guys up, and when we got all we could handle, we’d drive back to the aid station, which was not too far behind us,” Crooks said. “Then we went back for our men.”

The driver was injured during the rescue. Crooks said that Aram didn’t even realize it at first.

“He said, ‘Sarge, I  think I’ve been hit,’ and a piece of shrapel had got him in the arm,” Crooks said. “I was pretty lucky, I never did get hit.”

David R. Larsen

Dave Larsen (Navy Cross) left
Charlie Vance (Bronze Star)

David Larsen is a Navy Cross Recipient, for extraordinary heroism on 2 August 1969.

GMG3 Larsen was serving as a gunner’s mater mate aboard PBR 775 which was part of a two-boat night waterborne guard post stationed on the upper Saigon River. Operating in conjunction with the patrol, a six-man ambush team, which was providing bank security for the guard post, engaged four enemy soldiers who were part of an estimated 35 to 50-man force that returned the contact with accurate rocker fire, killing or critically wounding all but one member of the six-man ambush team. One man from the team managed to call for the PBR crewmen’s help. Armed with a machine gun and several ammunition belts, Larsen hastened to the assistance of the ambush team. As he led his small force ashore, he saw three enemy soldiers about to overrun the friendly position. He immediately rushed toward them, firing his machine gun, and single-handedly tu rned back the enemy assault, killing at least one of the enemy. Larsen then maintained a one-man perimeter defensive position and, although under continuous enemy fire, succeeded in discouraging further enemy attacks until additional help arrived. Later, armed with three different weapons, Larsen was the first man to take his post on the perimeter established to provide security for the medical evacuation helicopter. By his extremely courageous one-man assault in the face of direct enemy fire, Larsen was responsible for saving the lives of three fellow servicemen, and for protecting his shipmates as they administered aid to the wounded. His valiant and inspiring efforts reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service.

Charlie Vance of Portland, Ore., was there that August night, and earned a Bronze Star.

“I brought out ammo and helped bring the wounded back,” said Vance, a former petty officer.

He said Larsen was an unlikely candidate for heroics, but he rose to the occasion.

“He was just a quiet old farm boy and he took in an M-60, and he was the first one off the boat,” Vance said of Larsen. “He actually saved lives.”

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Antique Postcards ~ Fatherless Children of France, World War One


This card is dated 1918, and World War 1 had created approximately 3 million widows and 10 million orphans. Europe was in ruins, but the United States homeland remained completely unaffected, with a booming economy and the good times of the roaring twenties on the way. Obviously, this card is sent to let someone know that you donated to a charity for French orphans, in their name. What a wonderful gift!

Any Parsonions related to Mrs. Stella Lynd, 2718 Main?

For more about The Fatherless Children Of France; http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=940DEFDD133FE433A25755C0A9679C946996D6CF 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Click the photo below to read the entire book of letters from orphans to their American benefactors. The book is ‘public domain’ from google.

The book above is priceless. Sweet, cute, and heartbreaking all wrapped up in one.

The true spririt of Christmas, COMPASSION.

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Antique Postcard ~ Hallowe’en 1912


From the looks of this card, Hallowe’en not only had an apostrophe,

100 years ago it does not look near as SCARY either!

halloween

halloweenback

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BLEEDING KANSAS and Murder on the MARAIS DES CYGNES


 For many years I’ve driven by Trading Post Kansas, near the Marais Des Cygnes river (and now reservoir and wildlife refuge) without paying much attention to why it was named Trading Post. This was a trading post that was established specifically to trade with the Osage Indians. I did stop one time to read a historical marker about some murders that took place there. Now I’m a bit more interested in the history of Kansas.  This incident is also known as the MARAIS DES CYGNES MASSACRE, and the whole incident is a part of the meme of this blog. 

 The bloodiest single incident in the Kansas-Missouri border struggles, 1854-1861, occurred May 19, 1858, when 25-30 Pro-slavery Missourians seized 11 Kansas ‘Free-State’ men near Trading Post and marched them to a creek-bed nearby. The eleven men were lined up ‘execution style’ and promptly shot, apparently for no other reason than occupying land in a Free State. Five were killed and five wounded.  Weeks afterward, John Brown arrived and built a two-story log “fort”, about 14 x 18 feet, which he occupied with a few men through that summer. John had other armed and fortified encampments near the border. Ossowatamie is one location, and some reporters referred to John as “Ossowatamie Brown”. That December he led a raid into Missouri and liberated 11 slaves, killing one white man in the process.

 A Brown follower , Charles C. Hadsall, bought this property in 1858. Later, at the site of the fort, he built a stone house which still stands there today. The building and grounds are now part of a State Historical Site. This area, and some residents, were also part of the famous “underground railway”.

 The following is one of Brown’s many letters, documenting the turmoil in “Bleeding” Kansas. This letter was addressed to the Lawrence Kansas newspaper, the Lawrence Republican.

Trading Post, Kansas, Jan., 1859

Gents:–You will greatly oblige a humble friend, by allowing the use of your columns, while I briefly state two parallels, in my poor way.

Not one year ago, eleven quiet citizens of this neighborhood, viz.: Wm. Robertson, Wm. Colpetzer, Amos Hall, Austin Hall, John Campbell, Asa Snyder, Thos. Stilwell, Wm. Hairgrove, Asa Hairgrove, Patrick Ross, and B.L. Reed, were gathered up from their work and their homes, by an armed forced (sic) under one Hamilton, and without trial or opportunity to speak in their own defence, were formed into a line, and all but one shot–five killed and five wounded. One fell unharmed, pretending to be dead. All were left for dead. The only crime charged against them was that of being Free-State men. Now, I inquire, what action has ever, since the occurrence in May last, been taken by either the President of the United States, the Governor of Missouri, the Governor of Kansas, or any of their tools, or by any pro-slavery or Administration man, to ferret out and punish the perpetrators of this crime?

Now for the other parallel. On Sunday, the 19th of December, a Negro man called Jim, came over to the Osage settlement, from Missouri, and stated that he, together with his wife, two children, and another Negro man were to be sold within a day or two, and begged for help to get away. On Monday (the following) night, two small companies were made up to go to Missouri and forcibly liberate the five slaves, together with other slaves. One of these companies I assumed to direct. We proceeded to the place, surrounded the buildings, liberated the slaves, and also took certain property supposed to belong to the estate.

We however learned, before leaving, that a portion of the articles we had taken belonged to a man living on the plantation as a tenant, and who was supposed to have no interest in the estate. We promptly returned to him all we had taken. We then went to another plantation, where we freed five more slaves, took some property, and two white men. We moved all slowly away into the Territory for some distance, and then sent the white men back, telling them to follow us as soon as they chose to do so. The other company freed one female slave, took some property, and, as I am informed, killed one white man (the master) who fought against the liberation.

Now for a comparison. Eleven persons are forcibly restored to their natural and inalienable rights, with but one man killed, and all “hell is stirred, from beneath.” It is currently reported that the Governor of Missouri has made a requisition upon the Governor of Kansas for the delivery of all such as were concerned in the last named “dreadful outrage.” The Marshal of Kansas is said to be collecting a posse of Missouri (not Kansas) men, at West Point, in Missouri, a little town about ten miles distant, to “enforce the laws.” All pro-slavery, conservative Free-State and doughface men , and Administration tools, are filled with holy horror.

Consider the two cases, and the action of the Administration party.

Respectfully Yours,

John Brown

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Stealing the General’s Jeep


Patch of the USAAF 14th Air Force (World War II)

Image via Wikipedia

I’m posting this because the guy who’s titled FLYING TIGERS – 14th AIR FORCE, is my Uncle Ron.

Ron is a native of southeast Kansas, Born in Oswego Kansas and lived in Parsons, KS for many years. Also, it’s a short WW2 story that’s never been told until this video was made!

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Remembering Howard Zinn


by Marian Wright Edelman

Our nation lost a pioneering historian and social activist last month. Howard Zinn, who died while swimming laps at 87, revolutionized the way millions of Americans—especially young Americans— understand our shared history.

His writings and work inspired millions, but I was among the generations of students privileged to know him as a beloved teacher, mentor, and friend. His first academic job after graduate study at Columbia University was at the historically black, all-woman Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. The tall, lanky professor and I arrived at Spelman together in 1956, I as a freshman and he as chair of the history department. His family lived in the back of Spelman’s infirmary, where students always felt welcome to gather, explore ideas, share hopes, and just chew the fat.

Zinn encouraged students to think outside the box and to question rather than accept conventional wisdom. He was a risk-taker. He lost no opportunity to challenge segregation in theaters, libraries, and restaurants, and encouraged us to do the same. The black Spelman establishment didn’t like him any more than the white establishment did. Later, after he joined the faculty at Boston University, its president disliked him just as much as Spelman’s president did, because he made some teachers and administrators uncomfortable by challenging the comfortable status quo.

We called him “Howie” and saw him as a confidant and friend, as well as a teacher—contrary to the more formal and hierarchical traditions of many black colleges. He stressed analysis over memorization; questioning, discussions, and essays rather than multiple choices and pat answers. He affirmed my daddy’s belief that I could do and be anything.

He lived simply. I felt comfortable asking to drive his old Chevrolet to transport picketers to Rich’s Department Store, or to scout out other potential demonstration sites. He was passionate about justice and his belief in the ability of individuals to make a difference in the world. Not a word-mincer, he said what he believed and encouraged us as students to do the same.

He conveyed to me and to other students that he believed in us and that we were powerful and not helpless to change what we did not like. He conveyed to members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, whose voter registration and organizing efforts he chronicled in his book SNCC: The New Abolitionists, that he believed in, respected, and supported our struggle. He was there when 200 students conducted sit-ins and 27 of us got arrested.

Zinn provided us a safe space in his home to plan civil rights activities by listening and not dictating, and always kept our secrets from the administration. He laughed and enjoyed life, and taught us that it could be fun to challenge the status quo. What fun it was to visit the Georgia State Legislature, sit in the whites-only section, watch the floor proceedings screech to a halt, and hear the frantic gaveling and demands to “move those people to where they belonged.”

He spoke up for the weak and little people against the big and powerful people. His most profound message, and the title of one of his books, is: “You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train”—that we all must act against injustice.

He was there for and with us through thick and thin. He focused not just on our learning in the classroom but also on our learning to stand up and feel empowered to act and change our own lives—and the community and region in which we lived. He taught us to be neither victims nor passive observers of unjust treatment, but active and proud claimants of our American birthright. Howard Zinn helped prepare me to discover my leadership potential. I was blessed to have him as a teacher and lifelong friend, and will miss him deeply.

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Hand-Made Wooden Lunchbox


I’m guessing this lunch box was made in the 1930′s or 1940′s. It just looks like something from the great depression.

Hand-made lunch box

Hand-made lunch box

 Obviously a hand-made lunchbox. I suppose you could call it a “primitive”.  If you are a lunch-box collector, I would imagine this piece would be a very nice addition to your collection.

Dovetailed - slides open!

Dovetailed – slides open!

 I personally don’t think of this box as primitive, by any means. The craftsmanship is exceptional. The entire thing is solid pine. Twelve pieces very carefully cut and fitted. The dovetails slide effortlessly! The top pieces have some odd angles as well as the male dovetail slides.

Cotton strap for thermos

Cotton strap for thermos

 Notice the handy-dandy rope handle. On the inside of the top is a cotton strap to hold a milk bottle or thermos. The little latch on the end of the top holds the top and bottom together. I have no idea if this was carried to work or school, and the paper label on the top has a name penciled-in that is now unreadable. I found this at a rummage sale near Galesburg Kansas, years ago. The nice lady did not know any history behind this. I think I gave four dollars for it.

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