Wednesday, March 26, 2008

March Book of the Month

The Personal Memoirs
Ulysses S. Grant


Ulysses Simpson Grant

“Man proposes and God disposes. There are but few important events in the affairs of men brought about by their own choice” and thus begins the Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant.

His Memoirs have been widely recognized as the best, most noble, and most stately work set down by an American public figure. He did not write to defend his actions as General or President or to attack old enemies. He wrote what he experienced, what he did, why he did it, and has left the second-guessing to historians. Grant’s Memoirs are considered the gold standard; a model much revered but seldom emulated by current political figures.

A brief profile of Grant would include him as a Mayflower descendent, a West Point Graduate, the first General of the Army of the United States, and the 18th President serving two terms. The family was American for generations in all its branches, direct and collateral. His distinguished attributes and achievements involved a great deal of personal skill and talent as both a soldier and a politician. Grant had a take-charge personality formed during his early life in Georgetown, Ohio, where he remained until leaving for West Point in May 1839.

Upon entering West Point a military life had no charm for him and he did not expect to stay in the army; and, because of poor academic preparation he did not expect to graduate. During his first year General Scott visited West Point to review the troops and Grant noted in his Memoirs, “…I believe I did have a presentment for a moment that someday I should occupy his place on review….” Getting to that place was not easy as it has not been for those who have followed.

While reading Grant’s Memoirs one is constantly struck by the honesty he conveys to the reader. He states there must be many errors of omission because the subject is so large to be treated in such a way to do justice to all the soldiers engaged. In preparing the work for the public he, ”…entered upon the task with the sincere desire to avoid injustice to any one… other than the unavoidable injustice …where special mention is due….” All agree that he wrote without prejudice or harm to friend or foe.

One of only a few known photographs of Grant with a sword.

Grant was involved in two major conflicts during his Army career, the Mexican and the Civil Wars. It is just stunning to read the detail of these engagements written from his personal memory some years after their endings. The richness is mesmerizing; it is as if you are listening to him reciting a great and epic poem from an era gone by. The stories of the men, the engagements, the terrain, the causes, the bravery, and the responsibility are all vividly addressed.

The logistics needed to fight these Wars seem over whelming given the ease of modern day transportation. It is difficult to comprehend the movement of thousands of men and thousands of horses by river or through impenetrable swamps. The feel of early America and the wilderness of its land becomes a huge part of the story. About the politics of war Grant’s view was sometimes harsh and we still experience the same seemingly traitorous actions of individuals seeking personal or political gain at the expense of national security. War always creates an opportunity for commercial and political scoundrels.

It is particularly poignant to read the account leading to the surrender of Lee to Grant at Appomattox culminating April 9th, 1865. He separates the ‘purest romance’ of the surrender from the reality of two great Armies coming to peaceful terms and thus ending one of America’s bloodiest conflicts. When the news of the surrender reached the Union Army they began a ‘salute of a hundred guns’ in honor of the victory. However, when Grant heard of this he immediately had it stopped as “…the Confederates were now our prisoners and we did not want to exult their downfall.” One day the enemy, the next brothers-in-arms; they were once again valued citizens of The United States of America.

General Grant ends his Memoirs with a short section of Conclusions that are amazingly appropriate in today’s world. His explanation of the cause that led to the War of Rebellion against the United States is pointed and concise: slavery. Grant aptly explains that the complete absence of economic and personal freedom for some and guarantees of all such freedoms for others could not co-exist in this land of such great democratic hope. Our republican institutions had been largely regarded as experiments until the breaking of the rebellion. Other countries felt they would crumble at the slightest strain of internal strife. In all instances, since the end of that conflict, others who have doubted our economic or national political strength have met defeat.

Grant goes on to conclude that the War made us a nation of great power and intelligence. There would now be little to do but to preserve peace and prosperity at home, and the respect of other nations. He opines that our experience ought to teach us the necessity of the first; our power secures the latter. Our people had proven themselves to be the most formidable in war of any nationality; and, we were now truly a union extending from ocean to ocean. Grant felt the United States was entering the eve of a new era but that his illness would prevent him from being a living witness to his prophecy. General Grant died from throat cancer at age 63 one week after completing his Memoirs.

At the time of his death Grant and his family were destitute as he had lost his assets at the hand of a crooked business associate and there were no public pensions for ex-presidents. He was living on borrowed money from friends. Little known is that Mark Twain was a major player in the publication of The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant offering him 75% of the sales as royalties. They were an instant success selling over 300,000 copies providing over $450,000 for his widow. Again, “Man proposes and God disposes” aptly describes the shaping of the broad character of General Grant’s life and his lasting impact upon our enduring national ethos of Duty, Honor, and Country.

Many C-133 crewmembers had relatives in the Civil War and this is must reading as it is written by their General of the Army or their foe those many long years ago. Also, go to his official web site (click on: Ulysses S. Grant Homepage ) for more details.

Reviewed by Richard Spencer
39th ATS , DAFB, 1962-1965

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Possible 133 for Travis Update

Cal Taylor very appropriately added the following cautionary Comment to a previous post:

A bit more info to date. The discussions of a transfer of N199AB from Anchorage to Travis are "a bit premature" Nothing is firm. The museum has permission from the wing/base commander to investigate the possibility. So, there is a long way to go before such a move comes to fruition. Still, it is a bit exciting, just thinking of the possibility.

Keep us advised, Cal. There is a lot of interest even among Dover veterans. I'll bet some would like to be there and see the last landing........or even ride along!!!!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Book of the Month Series

Sneak Preview

From your Reviewer: Rick Spencer

It has always been an interest of mine to read about those seemingly ordinary citizens from ordinary circumstances who have stepped forth upon the national stage in times of need to become fearless warriors in defense of our country. They may be civilian as well as military and many have been both. It is not uncommon for their lives to have begun the same as those of many C-133 crewmembers.

While musing through the shelves in a dusty, old time, used bookstore in Key West this winter I was reminded once again of these extraordinary citizens who gave so much to ensure our destiny and way of life. So, I thought over the coming months I would highlight those that have shown remarkable strength of character and bravery in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. To give you an idea of my favorites I will begin with Grant, Pershing, Lincoln, Churchill, Washington, Eisenhower, Hamilton, etc., and hope that I receive some suggestions from crewmembers as well.

I believe that you will be quite surprised at the ordinary beginnings and personal accomplishments that came mostly from their strong belief in the values of Western Civilization. I also believe that you will be amazed to find that they had no idea and each would be the most surprised to find themselves thrust into a national emergency that carried the burden of the future of the country at rest upon his shoulders. Their successes suggest a lesson for the ages.

Each truly believed that the uniting of democratic values with the American people gave mankind its best hope. These men, as they risked all, became carriers of the Founders torch of individual freedom that allows us our lives, as we know it. I will attempt to adhere to the personal memoirs of each but not all have put their life to print.


Ulysses Simpson Grant

Friday, March 21, 2008

GE Engine for Boeing 777

Sandy Sandstrom forwarded this video demonstrating the new GE 90-115B engine with a 128" diameter fan, capable of producing over 100,000 hp. Very impressive!

Click on the Play button to activate. Suggest you turn up your sound, wait for it to load.....then run it straight through....

Travis to Get 133!

Sandy Sandstrom just advised the following:

This sounds good for Travis. They get the last flying C-133.


According to Terry Jurand, there is much enthusiasm at Wing concerning the C-133. Terry said that if all goes well, the airplane will be flown from Alaska next July, with a stop in Seattle.

Terry has not yet talked to the Wing Operations Officer who would authorize the purchase of the fuel to get the airplane here, but I don't think that would be a problem.

Let's hope things keep moving.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

American Flag Para Glider

Check out this YouTube video to put a shiver up your spine.

Thanks to Ed Flanders for bringing this to us!

Sunday, March 2, 2008


On another site, I heard that the Chanute Air Museum in Rantoul, IL (120 miles south of Chicago), is having (click on) financial problems and may have to close. That conversation dealt with an EC-121 that is there, but our concern would be (click on) C-133A 62009. It was used for years as a firefighting training device and was, I understand, pretty well stripped out. Since there are nearly no spares, there would be little chance of restoring it to any degree. Morrie Carlson has most of the spares, I suspect, and those are to keep N199AB flying. To move 62009 would be a huge task--just ask the AMC Museum. Tuna cans, anyone?