My Heart 2 Yours

Faith based encouragement and opinion

Month: August 2016

“Muse, Ponder or Meditate.”

Oh, I do like the word, “muse.” It means to ponder or to meditate. It’s a great word to have roll off your tongue. Lately I’ve been musing or pondering just what our lives are all about. How are we seen by others. How are we an example to others.  I have had a hard time getting started on this thought because it is so personal to me. Recently I heard a saying, ” In life if you want a good view, take the moral high ground.”  Think about this, deeply.

During this past year I’ve attended more than a dozen funeral’s, home goings, or celebrations of life. As I sat there I could see a “thread” running  through out the entire sharing of each life. Each and every life was an example of what to do, what to be, what to be an example of or what to be remembered. As family members or friends of the departed loved one shared, we could see that some really took that “high road” and some were just an ordinary person  who was used by an extra-ordinary God.

I guess it is because of my last  birthday and I’m a year older.( “older than dirt.”)  When I was a young wife and mother all I could think of was getting up, packing lunches, getting boys off to school, getting hubby a lunch packed and off to work,  and later, getting myself off to work. Then there was the Kapiolani Community College in Honolulu, Hawaii. Going to school myself, studying, doing chores, cooking meals, doing wash loads, checking the job list, who did what and who didn’t do what. Attending church, Sunday school, just doing what needed to be done, day in and day out. We were so busy just living life.  We didn’t have time to think, “gee, I wonder who is watching me and how I behaved or reacted to whatever.” Now that I’m older, I do begin to wonder.

Several years ago at City Bible Church, after Howdy had died,  a woman came up to me and told me she had watched me for years. She watched how I greeted people, how I reacted to my husband when he led worship. She watched how I hugged other women and children in the church. I was totally surprised at her statement. She said that she wanted to be more like me. Now that I was a widow, she watched me even more intently. Wow! No pressure here! She got me to thinking. What kind of an example am I to others. Do I walk with Christ every step of every  day. Do I act different when I’m in church as to when I’m in my living room or at the store. I hope not! I hope that I react in every way and every day that is pleasing to the Lord.

Titus 2:7 says, “in everything set them an example by doing what is good, in your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about you.”

At my “home going” or “celebration of life” what will be said of me. Will it be positive, oh I do hope so. I do hope that they will say, “she took the high road” to be an example. Will they say that I had been a woman of integrity, a person who was sensitive to needs of others. Will they say that I have been honest and dealt honestly in the market place. Was I kind to dogs and cats, a little humor needed here.

I do want to hear the Lord say to me, “come up thou faithful servant.”

What kind of example are you?

More later.

13 months, 2 weeks and 5 days, but then who counts!

I’ll need to set the stage for you today.

During the time Howdy was in Japan and Viet Nam I kept having this re-occurring dream. No it was more like a nightmare. I was in my living room and watched as two Marines along with an officer walked up to my front door. As I opened the door, I was told that my husband was dead. He had given his life for his country. My nightmare took me through a funeral in Arlington Cemetery. Howdy casket was on the horse drawn cart. My sons and I walked behind the cart. It was cold, rainy and bleak. I would wake up crying. I had several of these nightmares. But…I clung to the Lord, I just knew that Howdy would be home soon and safe. He had been gone for a year and now had just about 6 more weeks before he would be home.

It was about 5 am on a Sunday morning in early October, 1966.  I was sound asleep when I heard the phone ringing. I ran down the hall and into the kitchen to grab the receiver. I said , “hello” and all I heard was “Georgia, I love you, Georgia, I love you.” The phone went dead. It was Howdy’s voice, he was yelling, oh, what was wrong? Was he dying and he just had time to put a call through to me? Was he injured and got his one call out of Viet Nam. At 5 am I was in a fog and now it was a heavy, wet fog. Oh, what was going on?

I went back to bed but couldn’t sleep. Finally got up and got the boys up and fixed breakfast for us all. The boys got ready for church and I got dressed. I was to teach the 7th and 8th grade Sunday School class. I was a mess. Got to the church and as I was telling the pastor and his wife about the phone  call, I started to cry. I cried and cried, eyes red, nose running, cried. I just could not stop. Of course someone else took over my class. The pastor asked the people to pray for me as he told them about my 5 am phone call. Pray for Georgia and pray for Howdy.

Now I must take you back some hours. It was, I think, a Sunday night in Viet Nam. Howdy was now stationed at a place called “Chu Lai” just north of “Quang Tri” and “Hue” located on the beach on the South China Sea at the mouth of the Gulf of Tonking. Howdy was billeted in a 4 man tent called a “hooch.” The tent was raised off the ground on a platform. Each man had a corner of the tent as his own.

That Sunday night Howdy was sitting on the beach in front of a bon- fire with about 8 other Marines. They all had had more than enough to drink. (not iced tea) All of a sudden the communications officer yelled at Howdy, “hey Sligar, let’s call your wife.” Howdy says, “why the he– not, let’s do it.”

Now here they sit, on the sandy beach in South Viet Nam, in front of a roaring fire and the communications officer wants to call me. This officer has the old “krank” style of phone. It is a field phone and he begins to krank the phone. He gets the operator in Danang. He say, “this is an official call, patch me through to Manila, Philippines. When the operator in the Philippines came on the line he said, “this is an official call, patch me through to  Camp Hansen, Okinawa.” Then the operator in Okinawa asked if this was an official call, he said, “yes, this is an official call.” Next he asked the operator in Okinawa to “patch me through to Honolulu,  Hawaii,  Headquarters Marine Corps.” He then asked the Headquarters Marine Corps operator to patch him through to Andrews Air Force Base operator in Virginia.

By now the men sitting around the bon- fire were all leaning towards the communications officer. They could not believe what was happening in front of there eyes and ears. Here they sat on the beach at Chu Lai, South Viet Nam and listening to a phone call being set up to go to the east coast of America.

The operator at Andrews Air Force Base came on the line. She was told that this was an official phone call and she should get the operator at Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station, North Carolina.  The operator at Cherry Point came on the line and the communications officer said, “this is an official phone call, connect me to a local phone number in Havelock” He turns to Howdy and says, “Hey Sligar, what’s your phone number.” The Cherry Point operator dials our phone number. It is 5 am and I’m sound asleep. I ran down the hall, grab the phone and all I hear is, “Georgia, I love you, Georgia, I love you.” At that point, the operator at Andrews Air Force Base came on the line,” Sir, this does not sound like an official call.”  The communications officer answers back, “like he– it’s now, the whole world is listening.”  THE PLUG IS PULLED!

Needless to say, this was not an official call but this officer knew all the right words and the right wires to pull to get this call through from Chu Lai all the way to Havelock, N.C. Back on the beach these men are laughing and laughing at what had just happened. Howdy was now the most famous man on the beach that night. He milked this tale a lot. He probably could have been court- martialled  for this but all the men would have had to be court-martialled.

Until I got the letter from Howdy telling me about the fun they all had, I was a mess. I just knew something really wrong had happened. He still had about 6 more weeks before he would return to the United States. I went between being so happy he was alight and being mad as he– that he had pulled that stunt on me.

Howdy came on home on December 1, 1966 and all was forgiven.

More later.
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Are we going to get this jet off the ground?

We continue with the Howdy Sligar saga.  Iwakuni, Japan.

“John Shinnick began showing me how to pre-flight the aircraft ie, making sure all the big pieces are still there, checking to see if anyone left a monkey wrench in the intake etc. We climbed up to the cockpit and John explained a multitude of things ranging from seat ejection to radar operations to switches to circuit breakers to harness straps to oxygen flow to radio operation, to canopy operations, to emergency procedures, to the care and feeding of “barfsters” etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

As I climbed in, there were two things that stuck in my mind like glue–seat ejection and canopy operation!! (right about this time, I reflected upon myself and was alarmed to find I was quite calm and alert. This could only mean I’d go to pieces instantaneously !) I got strapped in and put on  my helmet and oxygen mask. I noticed Capt. Lewis climbing aboard at this time. The oxygen mask is a bear to get used to. The oxygen comes in under a little over two pounds pressure which makes for forced exhalation  and is very uncomfortable for the novice. Nonetheless, I was all set! Then I noticed some of the mechanics climbing up and down from Capt. Lewis’ half of the cockpit. Finally John signaled from the ground with a cutting motion across his throat that the flight had been “canked” (aborted) There was no radio between me and the pilot. I climbed out feeling like the kid who didn’t have to fight the bully because he’d moved away. A sense of relief but overwhelmed with the desire to do the deed. It was a long walk back to the Ready Room. Off with the gear (I now felt qualified to conduct suit drill) and back to the hut. Capt. Lewis said maybe tomorrow.

Tomorrow came and Capt Lewis said, “no dice.” I caught Capt. Johnson, the flight scheduler, and told him I wanted a ride. He came right back with “O.K.” He was back 30 minutes later and told me I was on the flight schedule for a 1900 brief and a 2030 take off that nite (!) with Lt. Pappas as pilot. Bob Pappas is one of my better friends and his being the pilot couldn’t have suited me better. The only thing that unnerved me is that you just don’t take your first hop in an F4B at nite!

1830 Monday nite. 22 November 1965

Back into the gear. Major Dunn, the XO conducted the brief. Bob Pappas was to climb to 30,000 feet and be a “boggy” for two other aircraft who would practice radar intercepts with us as the target. The Major asked me if I would like to use the radar. I laughed weakly. He then told Bob to tour the area for my benefit and return to the field and make a carrier landing (arrested landing with the tail hook and cable bit). I slouched down in my seat, a numb but nonchalant spectator.

A longer walk to the aircraft. John Shinnick was along again for professional and moral support. There’s no way to describe how you feel the first time you climb aboard on a cold clear nite unless it was to say I was apprehensive as all hell! Another way to say I was scared. Lt. Col. O’Donnell had come by at the end of the brief and said to me, “Sligar, any body that FAM’s at nite with Bob Pappas has got to have guts as big as helmet bags!!” Put me right at ease.

I strapped in and we taxied out. Bob kept up a running bit of chatter, nice and light and cheery. His chipper like psychology worked well. By the time we reached the end of the runway I was relatively relaxed. He went through the take off check list faster than I could follow except the part that said to secure your seat. The he said, “I’m now running up the starboard engine to 100%, I am now running up the port engine to 100 % (all I could hear was a high whine) and here we go!

The surge of power is like on arrow from a bow. It held me flat to the seat and in 3000 feet we were air borne. It couldn’t have taken five  seconds. We climbed to 30,000 feet and leveled off. In five minutes we were over Hiroshima. We toured the area taking in the sights and except for the side rolls there was no sensation of movement. Again, the most difficult part was the helmet and oxygen mask. After 30 minutes I became very warm and the mask and helmet started closing in on me. Trying to talk against the oxygen pressure was disturbing as hell. A verbal pause would be distorted into a death rattle. The intercom  allows each to hear the other’s breathing on “hot mike” or on “cold mike” you connect yourselves with a push button. The “hot mike” allows instant response and in my case, Bob could tell if I was having any difficulty.

I told him about my discomfort and he turned the temp. down and in a few minutes I was in good shape.

About then Bob received word that one of the aircraft to maneuver with us had been unable to get their landing gear up, so the mission was cancelled. Major Dunn told Bob to give me a ride and to come on in.

Bob told me he’d show me how high “up” was. He hit the after burners and we literally shot to 50,000 feet. The G-force almost make me ill. The true speed indicator read 800 knots or about 1,000 miles per hour! We’d passed through the speed of sound like riding across the street, except for the G-force and the instruments you couldn’t tell we were moving. At 50,000 feet we could see the lights from both coasts of Japan.

I am now approaching the basic reason for this whole narration. Bob decided to make a speed run for my benefit. A speed run is another way to say Mach 2 or higher. Twice the speed of sound. We started the run at 45,000 feet and I watched the true speed indicator revolving like a slot machine as Bob called off the Mach readings- 1.4; 1.5; 1.6; he clipped off matter of factually. The temp. rose some 250 degrees on the  skin of the plane. The canopy was hot to the touch as we slid past 1.8. We were at 41,000 feet. I was tight as a bow string with my eyes glued to the true speed indicator as it eased past 1120 knots! I got a terrific sensation of straining, like you strain with an athlete as he surges. Bob clipped off 1.9. The indicator rolled past 1150, my eyes darted to the Mach meter as it sneaked past 2.0.

Then it happened. A tremendous noise and deceleration like someone had hit the nose with a sledge hammer, the whole plane shuddered for an instant. The fear shot through me like a rifle bullet and I involuntarily ducked my head. My hands moved to the face curtain which would eject me. I waited for Bob to speak, my mind immediately told me to wait for his command. “Everything’s all right Howdy. Both engines running well, all instruments read A.O.K. I believe it was a compressor stall caused by engine absorption of supersonic air. I’ve made a dozen Mach 2 runs and it’s never happened before. If you were shook, don’t feel bad. It scared the hell out of me too!”

The whole thing was over in 15 seconds. We came back in, made two “touch-and-go” landings and then the carrier landing. Like hitting the clothes line in the dark. Yanks you up short!

What a ride! A nite hop, a Mach 2 run, a near catastrophe, and an arrested landing. They say it must have been the greatest first ride in an F4B!

The next day we found out that we had torn off one of the belly doors made of aluminium alloy weighing about 10 lbs. It also caused an international incident because of the sonic booms over Hiroshima! It was in several Japanese papers. Pretty sensational stuff for this little ole admin officer!!

Last nite at the Officers Club, Lt. Col. O’Donnell presented me with my Mach 2 button in front of all the squadron officers in behalf of McDonald Aircraft Corp. Many of the Radar Officers who have many hours in the back seat have yet to go twice the speed of sound! They were green!”

So ends the exciting tale of the admin officer, the jet plane and the ride of his life. Oh, by the way, Howdy never did need that “barf bag.”

Next I’ll share about  the  infamous phone call  in Viet Nam.

More later.


A Mach 2 Run!

Today I want to share with you something that happened to Howdy while he was in Japan. I was re-reading his letter to me and thought that telling you in his own words would be best. He was attached to Marine Fighter Group (MAG13) at Iwakuni, Japan.  So here is Howdy telling you what happened to him in November 1965.

“25 Nov 65   0100! Greetings my Sweet Love, I have a tale to tell. It’s a long tale. It’s very very early Thanksgiving Morning and I feel  compelled to begin this tale. I’ve been celebrating . I’m a bit happy, if you know what I mean. This should indicate that my tale is a happy one — it is! As a matter of fact, it’s exhilerating.

I shall begin at the beginning. I remind you of the (that’s not the way I meant to begin, I’ll start again.)  The F4B is the fastest, most sophisticated jet in the world today. The immensity of it’s capability is almost more than the layman can comprehend. As an infinitesimal example, it carries some 13,000 lbs. of fuel, it goes faster, farther, higher with more assurity than any aircraft in the world. I wanted to fly in one very badly. My reasons are even a little obscure to me, perhaps curiosity, challenge-who knows.

Out of the blue, three days ago, Capt. Baughman, Operations Officer, suggests that I should get a FAM (familiarization) hop before I go to MAG 13.

26 November 1965   1230 hrs.

Hello cold cruel world! I immerged from my cocoon at 1000. Raining, gray, cold miserable day. I feel great nonetheless. Had brunch at 1045. Back to my tale: We were in the club at the time. Capt Baughman arranged with Capt. Lewis to take me up on a test hop the next day. (Sunday) Needless to say I was getting pretty excited (and apprehensive) at the prospect. I’m sure you remember that the F4B carries a pilot and a radar operator. Sunday morning, John Shinnick, Capt. Lewis’ radar operator, took me in tow. He fitted me into his gear, which consists of flight suit; boots; G-suit, (automatically activated when attached by a nozzle affair to the aircraft. It inflates slightly and compensates for the G-forces against your body on dives, turns, etc. ); and a survival vest which contains, among other things, an inflatable life vest, knife, parachute straps which are attached to the ejection seat, and numerous other odds and ends, and last but not least, a helmet with oxygen mask. The whole rig weighs a ton when your not accustomed to it and makes you feel like an astronaut getting ready for the big ride. Quite a sensation, parading around in all that gear! After I’d gotten the gear on, Capt. Lewis came by and informed us the aircraft was not yet ready (they were repairing it, and we were going to test the repair job–la de da! ) We secured to our huts and I took a fitful nap. At 1700 hrs., John Shinnick came by and told me everything was set. Back to the Ready Room we cycled. I had surprisingly little trouble getting all that flight gear back on. I stuffed my little “barf” bag (an item necessary to “first timers”) for the purpose of receiving the results of involuntary regurgitation into one of the many little zippered pockets on my flight suit. I next took a snifter of “Privine” to assure myself of free breathing. We then began what seemed to me to be a long walk to the aircraft. I felt about as conspicuous as an overcoat in a nudist camp and as nimble as an elephant picking flowers with it’s toes! What a gigantic machine!”

All for tonight, I’ll finish this in the morning. You won’t want to miss the second installment of the Howdy saga of jet flight.

More later.

“But who counts?”

In the fall of 1965, Howdy was getting ready to leave for Japan. He was with a squadron as their admin officer stationed at Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station, N.C. We had just had a new home built in the town outside of the base, Havelock, N.C. It was in early October that we drove Howdy to the small airport in New Bern, N.C. to watch him climb onto a plane. He was heading to Washington, D.C. then onto Travis Air Force Base in California to then go onto Japan. He would be gone awhile.

Back home I had the responsibility of a new house,  three sons, a car, two Siamese cats and all of the finances and more. I was volunteering at the Naval hospital as a Red Cross worker. I was teaching Sunday school at a local Presbyterian church. Then I joined the Cherry Point Players, a group that put on stage plays. We were going to do South Pacific and I was one of the navy gals that sang with “Nellie Forbush.” After a couple months of practicing we had to call it off due to the leading man and lady being transferred.

The boys and I took trips to Florida to visit my parents in Bartow. We loved the trips as we could stop by and see the alligators and more. Our visits with PopPop and Grandma were fun trips. We visited Sea World, went to Busch Gardens and did all sorts of fun things. Best of all was going to Clear Water beach, get a motel with a pool. The boys could swim in the Gulf of Mexico or in the motel pool.

Proverbs 16:9  says , “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”  We think that we are in total control of everything, our time, our lives, our planning. When we look back we can see the hand of God in our lives keeping us from harm.

Howdy had been gone nine months and was not due to be home for several more months. We spent the first Christmas in Florida, the first Easter in Florida, birthdays for the boys and many holidays. It was nearing December, 1966. So much had happened while Howdy was away, but we were nearing the time he was to come home.

When Howdy left I was the meek and mild wife who loved her hubby.  Now for the past year I was  in charge of everything. I had to answer to no one and I was liking it. I was not sure I wanted him to come back. Yes, dear friends, I was afraid to have him back and have to step in the background again. To give the reigns over to him and become the “barefoot and pregnant little woman.”

It had been 13 months, 2 weeks and 5 days since the love of my life had left. Now as I stood at the bus station in Washington, D.C. I had such mixed emotions. Howdy said later that when he got off the bus and saw me, I looked like a “deer caught in headlights.” We spent a few days in D.C. but Howdy wanted to get home to see our sons.

The Christmas of 1966 was a great one. Ahead of us was another duty station, we were going to Virginia Beach, Va. Howdy would be on a ship out of Norfolk. but that is another story.

Howdy is home, we are a family again, the merging of two to become one again was a tough transition. We make it.

Next time I’ll share how God kept Howdy while he was in Japan and Viet Nam.


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