They make us proud!
Not only do our agents excel at selling real estate, they excel at just being great human beings. As befits Veterans’ Day, I am proud to present a list of our SBD Veterans. Today’s blog post is in honor of:
Jack Brown – U.S. Army Signal Corp. (West Germany)
Dan Durand – U.S. Navy (Philippines)
Bill Hanson – U.S. Army National Guard
Stephen King – U.S. Air Force (Guam)
Harris Satterfield – U.S. Army (Korea)
Lee Seagraves – U.S. Army (Vietnam)
…and our Senior Soldier
WWII Tech Sergeant Calvin T. Spinks (Guam)
We also have one agent who, though she did not serve, has done more to promote the servicemen of the “Greatest Generation” than anyone in Troup County. Isabelle Knight was acknowledged last Tuesday by Mayor Jeff Lukken for her work promoting the area veterans having served in World War Two.
Now, I can give you a nutshell sketch of the story behind Isabelle’s award, but for a more professional and poignant view, please check out this lovely article by Carol Megathlin which ran in newspapers all over the South, although our link is to the Fayetteville Observer.
The theme for the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra’s 2008 Pops Concert was “Songs That Won the War.” Isabelle’s idea to use old photographs of local veterans as decoration morphed into an 800+ photo exhibit complete with uniforms, scrapbooks, helmets, diaries, telegraphs and any other paraphernalia she could fit in the doors.
What had started as a small project became so popular that people were stopping by our office from morning until night leaving packages…..sometimes for “Mrs. Knight” but just as often for “that WWII lady.” She scanned all the photos and arranged for them to be mounted and labeled, enlisting Bobby Cammon at Three Points in the process, as well as calling on Paul Barnes to put the whole shebang as a slideshow. First the Pops Concert, then lugging all her giant photo boards downtown during parades, until finally the Legacy Museum on Main Street decided to run the full-blown exhibit. And we were STILL getting photos!
As the last hurrah of the local exhibit, Isabelle scored a major coup. I’ll let her tell you about it in her own words….
Theodore “Dutch” Van Kirk, the navigator of the Enola Gay, the B-29 Superfortress that dropped the first atomic bomb on Aug. 6, 1945, was in LaGrange, Saturday August 1 to close the WWII Exhibit of Faces of Those Who Served. More than 350 people came to the Legacy Museum to hear this true American war legend speak, and after it was apparent that the numbers exceeded the museum’s capacity, the First Baptist Church graciously opened its doors. It was quite a sight to see more than 300 people strolling down Main St. on a Saturday afternoon to hear Mr. Van Kirk, and they were not disappointed.
Mr. Van Kirk has an engaging, magnetic personality and his relaxed delivery of this monumental event in World History was profound and unforgettable. He began his talk describing the formation of the 509th Composite Group, formed for secrecy, explaining that a composite group is totally self-sufficient and that the 509th was the composite group formed to train for the atomic mission. After, he explained how the members met with the scientists developing the bomb. The scientists told the crews that they thought they would will be “okay if they were 9 miles away from the bomb when it detonated;” so “nine miles” became the magic number — a number, that at the time, the B-29 was not fast enough to achieve. To achieve the necessary distance, Paul Tibbets, the Enola Gay’s pilot, had the planes stripped down of all unnecessary armament and guns making the modified B-29 6,000 pounds lighter and able to achieve the magic number. Additionally, the pilots were trained to make a 155 degree sharp turn, which created a terrific G-force, upon dropping the bomb to get the proper distance between the plane and the bomb.
On Aug. 5, the Enola Gay crew was briefed and told that the scientists truly did not know what would happen when they dropped the bomb. In fact, the reality was that it might blow up the plane. And then they were told to “go get some sleep.” Dutch said he stayed up all night in a poker game with Tom Ferebee, the Enola Gay’s bombardier, and Paul Tibbets. He remembered having pineapple fritters for breakfast the next morning because he hated them and Paul Tibbets loved them.
The Enola Gay crew left at 2:45 a.m., and the mission took approximately 13 hours. The planned time to drop the bomb was 9:15 a.m., and the bomb was dropped 17 seconds “late.” The mission to Hiroshima was the perfect mission. Everything went exactly according to plan. As Mr. Van Kirk matter of factly put it, “I don’t know any way to fight a war without killing people.” 6,000 people a day were being killed including Americans, Chinese, Japanese and POW’s. There was not a GI in the Pacific then who would say we shouldn’t have dropped the bomb. They were going to have to invade Japan and the losses ours and theirs, would have been so much worse than what was suffered after the bomb was dropped. And interestingly, even after the first bomb was released, the Japanese belief that the Americans had only one bomb because of the difficulty of making uranium 235 necessitated the dropping the second bomb, a plutonium bomb, to force the surrender.
The audience was spellbound by the first-person account of the training of the crews and execution of the historic dropping of the first atomic bomb which brought an end to the 2nd World War. After a question and answer session, Van Kirk returned to the Museum and signed vintage photographs and books well into the evening, and at 4:00 Captain Joe Fagundes performed a fly over in his vintage WWII airplane complete with stunts and a smoke trail.
LaGrange experienced an unforgettable day of learning and sharing. The sense of community was tremendous. The man who navigated the “perfect mission” gave LaGrange “the perfect day.”
Our congratulations to Isabelle and our love and gratitude not only to our company Veterans, but to Veterans and active Armed Service Members everywhere.