Friday, May 28, 2010

Spiders - I do not mess with them...

...maybe because of something I read once in a book:

"If you wish to live and thrive,
allow the spider to remain alive."

That little ditty just makes sense. You let them live since they eat other bugs like flies and mosquitos that spread disease. While I may move spiders from a location in my home to outside if they look big and nasty enough, I am more likely to move them only if they are interfering with something while web building. For instance, I had one spinning a web on the front of my TV screen in the basement the other night. I was going to move it after my show was over but for some reason it gave up and moved elsewhere on its own. I got rid of what little web it had spun. Other times I have removed them from in the tub/shower because they wind up falling on me or someone else in the family when we take our showers. They don't hang on all that well once the water starts flowing and I sure get creeped out if one lands on my head unexpectedly.

Otherwise, for the most part, if I see a spider in the house it stays where it is and so does its web if it is a web builder. Just like when I see em outside, I usually just leave em alone even when inside. Why? Well, because they are beneficial to have around - at least if not something like a Black Widow or a Brown Recluse that could put a hurting one you. That way, the beneficial ones can catch any pesky flies or moths or whatever other type of pesky insect may find its way into the house in the warmer months. We sometimes have spiders all year round in the basement, but they are usually most abundant in the Spring through early Fall when they can be found throughout the whole house. Take for example the one pictured here. He was on the basement wall when I came downstairs to watch TV. I have no idea what type it is and the pic did not come out that good but maybe good enough so I can check my field guide and figure out just what it is. Of course, it could be an exotic species from abroad as spiders often come into the country in shipments of plants and other commodities, they are great hitchhikers. In that case the field guide will do me no good since it only cover North American Spiders. As for the one pictured here, after I took the shots, I just left it alone. Hopefully it is gobbling up a fly or a silverfish or something like that by now and it won't be looking for a bigger meal like me when I am slumbering in front of the television.

All the best,

A Hero Has Fallen...

...and I mean a real hero, not some guy who hits home runs, not a drunken actress who tries to live her real life in a fantasy world, and not some mealy-mouthed politician who evidently lies about having a record of service in Vietnam (as actually on the ground in the country during war). I mean he was a real hero. I mean a man who did things that were over and above the call of duty, a man who did so much more than most during a situation that his actions not only deserved recognition but demanded them. I mean a man who put all he had on the line despite overwhelming odds while. A man who was awakened while in bed with his wife by the sound of low flying aircraft and machine gun fire. A man who got into his car and drove to the scene of the fight, then got out afoot, grabbed a weapon and ammunition, and ran into the fray of a bloody battle. He was armed with a .50 caliber machine gun - what almost amounted to a pea shooter compared to the amount of planes attacking with machine gun fire, cannon fire, and bombs which were going off around him. Yet, he courageously fought an enemy despite it all and when he was wounded he kept on fighting. Not only was he wounded once but he was wounded several times by gun fire and shrapnel and probably by other flying debris but he kept up the fight. He kept up the fight with pilots firing machine gun and cannon fire at and all around him. The planes strafing the area sometimes got so close he said he could see the faces of some of the pilots as they zoomed by but he kept on firing against all odds from a position completely out in the open. He was shot in the arm and kept returning returning fire keeping up his end of the fight. He was shot in the foot and a bone in his foot was broken as a result but he kept up the fight. He was barefoot and could barley walk, let alone stand, on the coral dust but kept up the fight. He fought on against dive bomber after dive bomber - plane after plane - dropping bombs around him. He received shrapnel wounds all over his body including his head, chest, stomach, right elbow and thumb but he kept on fighting. He was wounded so badly and was so bloodied that all others around him thought he was sure to die but he kept up the fight receiving 18 to 29 wounds (different reports give varying numbers) but he recalls it like this: "I picked up quite a few hits--18 to 21...". He kept up that fight for 2 1/2 hours and it is believed he brought down at least one enemy aircraft in that time although no one knows how many he also may have damaged or how many of the enemy he may have wounded. He only sought medical attention for himself after having been ordered to do so. Then after finally receiving first aid what did he do? He went on to do his regular job, but now under wartime conditions, and he supervised the rearming of returning planes so they could continue the fight despite the horrific pain he must have endured.

This man was a hero not a mealy-mouthed politician, nor a glamor grabbing movie star nor a steroid using sports star and people should wake up, see the facts and learn the difference. He actually exhibited valor (boldness or determination in facing great danger, esp. in battle) and courage (the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery) and devotion (profound dedication) against all odds and so much more so than would have the average man by far. What he did was merely considered to be heroic, it was extraordinary (beyond what is usual, ordinary, regular, or established, exceptional in character, amount, extent, degree, remarkable) heroism above and beyond the call of duty (something that one is expected or required to do by moral or legal obligation). Get that last part right - he did not just do his duty, he elevated himself by way of his actions to the point of extraordinary heroism above and beyond the call of duty. He put up a fight against his enemy, our enemy, the enemy of our great nation and he did so with complete disregard for his own life.

His name was John W. Finn, he was a Chief Petty Officer assigned as Chief Aviation Ordnanceman to the Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay on the island of Oahu in Hawaii; the date was December 21, 1941. Kanehoe Bay was actually attacked minutes before Pearl Harbor and Finn was in the middle of it because he put himself there. Many others fought bravely that day, so bravely in fact that 15 U.S. servicemen received the Medal of Honor for their actions that day during the sneak attacks by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor and other bases on Hawaii. Finn was just one them. That is him with his wife admiring his medal. He received that medal on September 14, 1942, awarded to him by Admiral Chester Nimitz aboard the USS Enterprise in Pearl Harbor. He was already a 15 year Navy veteran when the action of December 21, 1941 took place (I think 32 years old at the time). After that he stayed with the Navy for many years and retired as a Lieutenant.

So how is that I learned of him and why is it that I mention him today? I learned about him because a friend of mine just sent me an email telling his story. His story will be all over the Internet today - hopefully his story will also make national headlines today on the TV news shows. Hopefully those shows will be in his honor even though it will be posthumously. You see, John William Finn passed away yesterday at the age of 100. He was the last surviving MOH of the 15 in total who received the MOH for their actions during the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor and other bases on Hawaii on that single day. He was also the oldest living recipient of the MOH and he was the only aviation ordnanceman to have ever received the medal. Upon his death, fellow World War II veteran
Barney F. Hajiro became the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient.

The following is the citation associated with his MOH:

Rank and organization: Lieutenant, U.S. Navy. Place and date: Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Territory of Hawaii, 7 December 1941. Entered service at: California. Born: 23 July 1909, Los Angeles, Calif. Citation: For extraordinary heroism distinguished service, and devotion above and beyond the call of duty. During the first attack by Japanese airplanes on the Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, on 7 December 1941, Lt. Finn promptly secured and manned a .50-caliber machine gun mounted on an instruction stand in a completely exposed section of the parking ramp, which was under heavy enemy machine gun strafing fire. Although painfully wounded many times, he continued to man this gun and to return the enemy's fire vigorously and with telling effect throughout the enemy strafing and bombing attacks and with complete disregard for his own personal safety. It was only by specific orders that he was persuaded to leave his post to seek medical attention. Following first aid treatment, although obviously suffering much pain and moving with great difficulty, he returned to the squadron area and actively supervised the rearming of returning planes. His extraordinary heroism and conduct in this action were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service."

He was a real hero, no mistaking that, whether he thought so or not. It is well and good that we honor him and others like him and that we do not forget the chances they took nor the sacrifices they made.

All the best
Glenn B