Monday, August 31, 2015

Chief Keokuk Oversees the Mississippi River

Atop a limestone bluff overlooking the Mississippi River in southeast Iowa is the gateway city called Keokuk, named after the region’s Sac and Fox warrior chief. He died during 1848 in Kansas. The Chief's remains and "other materials of historic value" were reinterred at the base of this moment in the city named in his honor. The town is one of Iowa's oldest communities as explorers coming up the Mississippi stopped at the confluence of the Des Moines and Mississippi Rivers to settle. Later the town became one of the jumping off points for pioneers setting out on the Mormon trail to Salt Lake. Its a very historic town that brims with the sights of the past.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Two WWII Medal of Honor Recipients Buried at Rock Island National Cemetery - Edward Moskala and Frank Witek

Rock Island National Cemetery is located on Rock Island, Illinois along the Mississippi River. In Section E of that cemetery there are two World War II Medal of Honor recipients, both of whom fought in the Pacific Theater and were killed in action.
US Army Private First Class Moskala's Medal of Honor citation reads:

"He was the leading element when grenade explosions and concentrated machinegun and mortar fire halted the unit's attack on Kakazu Ridge, Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands. With utter disregard for his personal safety, he charged 40 yards through withering, grazing fire and wiped out 2 machinegun nests with well-aimed grenades and deadly accurate fire from his automatic rifle. When strong counterattacks and fierce enemy resistance from other positions forced his company to withdraw, he voluntarily remained behind with 8 others to cover the maneuver. Fighting from a critically dangerous position for 3 hours, he killed more than 25 Japanese before following his surviving companions through screening smoke down the face of the ridge to a gorge where it was discovered that one of the group had been left behind, wounded. Unhesitatingly, Pvt. Moskala climbed the bullet-swept slope to assist in the rescue, and, returning to lower ground, volunteered to protect other wounded while the bulk of the troops quickly took up more favorable positions. He had saved another casualty and killed 4 enemy infiltrators when he was struck and mortally wounded himself while aiding still another disabled soldier. With gallant initiative, unfaltering courage, and heroic determination to destroy the enemy, Pvt. Moskala gave his life in his complete devotion to his company's mission and his comrades' well-being. His intrepid conduct provided a lasting inspiration for those with whom he served."

US Marine Corps Private First Class Frank P Witek's Medal of Honor citation reads:  

"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, 3d Marine Division, during the Battle of Finegayen at Guam, Marianas, on 3 August 1944. When his rifle platoon was halted by heavy surprise fire from well-camouflaged enemy positions, Pfc. Witek daringly remained standing to fire a full magazine from his automatic at point-blank range into a depression housing Japanese troops, killing 8 of the enemy and enabling the greater part of his platoon to take cover. During his platoon's withdrawal for consolidation of lines, he remained to safeguard a severely wounded comrade, courageously returning the enemy's fire until the arrival of stretcher bearers, and then covering the evacuation by sustained fire as he moved backward toward his own lines. With his platoon again pinned down by a hostile machinegun, Pfc. Witek, on his own initiative, moved forward boldly to the reinforcing tanks and infantry, alternately throwing hand grenades and firing as he advanced to within 5 to 10 yards of the enemy position, and destroying the hostile machinegun emplacement and an additional 8 Japanese before he himself was struck down by an enemy rifleman. His valiant and inspiring action effectively reduced the enemy's firepower, thereby enabling his platoon to attain its objective, and reflects the highest credit upon Pfc. Witek and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country."

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Towboat James F. Neal Passes Through Lock & Dam 15

The Ingram towboat, James F. Neal passed through Lock and Dam 15 on the Mississippi River at the Rock Island Arsenal across from Davenport, Iowa. Look closely on the brown concrete wall as the level of the lower river is marked within the lock. The waters will rise up to the red bricks below the control house before the barges are pushed upriver.

The James F. Neal pushes barges upriver and ties together another barge segment before moving north towards Lock and Dam 14 about 10 miles away.

I have included these photos to show those who have never visited a lock and dam system on a big river. The sights are impressive with boats and people moving grain, fuel, metals and assorted goods from region to region. These 24/7 operated boats and lock systems truly demonstrate how America works.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Colors of Summer

I think this is Queen Anne's Lace. If so, its is also known as a wild carrot. Whatever the name, the plant can be found in abundance around the 42N area. This particular flower was blooming in nearby Amana, Iowa.

Cone flowers grow quite well generation after generations on some properties like this Amana, Iowa home garden. However my attempt to extend the yellow flower beds have failed miserably. Maybe its bad soil or hungry deer and rabbits. Or all three.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Looking Towards East Amana, Iowa

From Amana, Iowa (sometimes called Main Amana) the views are pretty spectacular. This one is looking north over society owned farmland.

A swing of the camera to the right brings East Amana into view. This is really a village with a few homes and several farm out buildings. Even in the middle of summer it is a pretty site.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Fr. John C Grim - 28th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers - More Research Needed

Southwest of Stone City, Iowa, the place that artist Grant Wood immortalized on canvas is a very small and old cemetery. Recently at that location I spotted a number of small US flags still in place almost a month after Independence Day. I came across this headstone of a Civil War vet named, Father John Conrad Grim. His service in the 28th Regiment of the Pennsylvania Volunteers is noted in this more recent headstone. Many stones of that era (turn of the century) are made of marble, and years of weather erosion have nearly erased most of the information. Whether that is the case for Fr. Grim's original stone is for further research.

The 28th Regiment, according to this website was involved in many famous battles including Antietam, Bull Run, Chattanooga, Kennesaw and of course Gettysburg. The regiment also was present for General Johnston's army surrender. It's not clear when Fr. Grim came into the regiment but the possibility that he participated in these historic campaigns raises some interesting research possibilities.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

B-29s Help End WWII

Three days ago, Fifi the B-29 departed Cedar Rapids, Iowa (KCID) for her home field in Texas. At present she is the only flying B-29 in the world. Two more B-29s are being restored to flight status.

Today some traditional and new media outlets reported the 70th anniversary of the B-29, Enola Gay's mission over Hiroshima, Japan where the first atomic bomb was dropped. Three days later on August 9th the B-29, Boxcar dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki. On August 15, 1945 Japan surrendered unconditionally to Allied forces, thus ending World War II.

Flight visits by WWII aircraft help to remind present generations as to why this country fought to repel imperialism and preserve the tenants of liberty.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Boiling Sunday Evening Clouds

Sunday evening and huge cumulus clouds were miles away but still delivered a show. While this cloud bank reflected evening colors near sunset, I helped them along.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Florida Bound From Sunny Iowa

While waiting for the warbirds to takeoff and land at the Cedar Rapids, Iowa airport commercial traffic kept up its busy Sunday schedule. Allegiant Air flies to vacation spots from cities like Cedar Rapids. This time the flight destination was the Sarasota, Florida area.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

FIFI B-29 Prepares for Takeoff at KCID Cedar Rapids Iowa

Fifi the B-29 World War II bomber made a four day stop in Cedar Rapids, Iowa this weekend. These three photos are from this morning during the plane's last full day here. Yesterday the weather was fantastic and many people turned out to see the aircraft and other WWII era fighters.

By going black and white and jacking the contrast I produced this old time looking image of the plane. With some sand and tropical trees this could very well be some runway in the South Pacific during 1945.

Fifi's late morning trip around the Cedar Rapids area ended with another successful landing at KCID. Airport Park area on the east side of the property is an excellent place to see and hear planes of all sorts come and go. Its just not everyday when a historic aircraft like the B-29 comes to town.