This magazine gets its share of publicity photos over the electronic transom, but rarely does one of them carry enough human interest to warrant publication. Here’s an exception from U.S. Navy photographer Michael H. Lee, which shows a father meeting his daughter for the first time. Continue reading →
As a member of the “Greatest Generation,” ninety-year-old Harold Kiel would be a hero in my book even without the story of his life journey, which inspires me not only for its insights into World War II, but for the kind, intelligent man behind them. Harold and his biographer/neighbor, Michael Kincaid, live not far from me in northern Idaho.
I write a column for a veterans’ organization, so when Mike, whom I had met through the Idaho Writer’s League, sent me a notice of the release of his book, Harold’s Voyage, I jumped at the chance to interview a US Navy veteran from the war. There aren’t many left.
I met with Harold, Mike, and a videographer named Kevin Hochstetler at a small coffee house in Hayden. Harold’s wisdom and sense of humor impressed me to the extent that I forgot to write things down, and what I did write later proved to be a jumble of unintelligible hen scratching. Fortunately, Mike gave me a copy of the book, or I’d have been up a creek without a paddle.
During his active duty in the war, Harold kept five journals that were his sanity and solace while on board the Patrol Craft Rescue Ship “PCR 851.” He was unaware at the time that journals were a court martial offense during the war. Those journals became the basis of Harold’s Voyage. Continue reading →
“Farragut State Park is one of the places we visited this year,” I said to my uncle, Robert Kemp, on our way to a family reunion in rural Minnesota in the late 1990s. To my surprise he replied, “I trained there.”
This sparked animated praise from me about how impressed I was that such a huge naval facility (more than seven hundred buildings, plus roads and training grounds) at Bayview on the southern tip of Lake Pend Oreille could be built in eleven months to train more than 290,000 men over a four-year period, after which nearly everything was torn down. I said it was particularly impressive considering that with today’s modern engineering skills and equipment, we can’t even seem to get one road built in less than three to five years.
I didn’t learn much more that day about my uncle’s experiences at Farragut Naval Training Station (FNTS), an inland Navy boot camp from 1942 to 1946, because we were nearly to our destination, and because he’s a man of few words. But recently, it struck me that as a friend of Idaho’s state parks, it was high time I got more of the story. With some prodding and much laughter between my uncle and me, this winter he shared more information about his time at Farragut, which I’ve supplemented with further research. Continue reading →
I first met Anna Halsey, (no relation to Admiral Halsey of Navy fame) in Coeur d’Alene in the 1980s. During that brief encounter, she impressed me as a dignified and devout woman, but it wasn’t until many years later, when her name came up in a conversation with a friend, that the story of her remarkable family came to my attention. Continue reading →