Saturday, August 12, 2006

When memories come back, they come back thick and fast.

I'm not being facetious here. First, apologies to Anna and anyone else who might think this post is a sign or warmongering. It's not. It's just what I grew up with.
In everyone's childhood there's some neighborhood landmark they remember. It could be a park, a bakery, a school, something that was part of your daily life.
As a preteenager and teen, my neighborhood included Naval Air Station Norfolk, and one of the landmarks on the weekly or daily drive to the Navy Exchange or base commissary was the hangar for Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 774.
I covered an air show today and, as it turns out, HMM-774 was among the displays. More specifically, two of 774's CH-46E Sea Knights or, as they were somewhat affectionately known, 'Battle Frogs.'

Many of you in my general age range - 40 to 50 - may remember seeing these on TV quite a bit in the 1960's and 1970's. They've been the standard battle taxi for Marines since Vietnam and for both Iraq wars.

The two 'Frogs in this photo are only seven years younger than me. One still bears some sheet metal work from Vietnam. At least one of them was in the dark gloss green finish I recall seeing 'Frogs in in the 1970's. One just got out of rework after a year in Iraq. There was a strong possibility that I'd seen one of them while growing up.
The command pilot told me that they had just retired one of the 'Frogs to be sent to a museum. That particular ship was the U.S. ambassador's last ride out of Saigon in 1975.
At the other end of the airport, Francis Gary Powers, Jr. was talking with folks along with three of his father's sisters and his brother. Before either of us was born, my mother was typing up the final letters that Oliver Powers sent to Nikita Khrushchev asking that his son be released from a Soviet prison.

A lot of stuff has happened in 46 years. Powers Jr. said to me that most people under 40 just give him blank looks when he asks if they ever heard of his father or of the U-2.

Make of all of this whatever you will.

12 Comments:

Blogger Pamela said...

Wow, so cool that you got to see those 'frogs' again. Amazing aircraft.

1:04 AM  
Blogger jromer said...

frogs. yes. war is so strange. once in your life, is in it forever. vietnam haunts me. i have yet to go back. and when i do, i have to reclaim her, let her know i still love her.

7:10 AM  
Blogger Miz BoheMia said...

Such moments truly put our lives into perspective, don't they?

Hard to put into words, nostalgia, memories, that walk down memory lane...

Thank you for the glimpse! Now go on and give us more!

7:22 AM  
Blogger Frontier Editor said...

Pam,

They're actually more lke the ultimate nightmare used car. They were originally rated for about 5,000 flying hours. The front one has almost doubled that and had been rebult about five times. When you see in the news that another Marine helicopter has crashed, 8 times out of ten it's one of these.
These things are old, beat to death and we expect 18 to 23-year olds to ride these into battle when we'd buy our own kids a new car for graduation in a heartbeat.

8:36 AM  
Blogger Within Without said...

What an amazing flashback today must have been for you, Fronty.

To see things you grew up seeing as a kid, the associations with them, the possibility that one of them could have been the same one you saw as a kid.

And the association with the Powers guy and your mom.

Interesting. A little chilling for you, maybe? But certainly interesting. Thanks.

Curious now how you're going to write it for your paper...

2:49 PM  
Blogger Miss Cellania said...

Chilling is the word. That war now seems so long ago, but it was my entire childhood. I recall thinking (after the fall of Saigon) how strange it was that the USA was NOT at war, when it had been my whole life. It was like Orwell:

Vietnam is our friend.
Vietnam is our enemy.
We have ALWAYS been at war with Vietnam.

6:49 AM  
Blogger Laura Elizabeth said...

"A lot of stuff has happened in 46 years. Powers Jr. said to me that most people under 40 just give him blank looks when he asks if they ever heard of his father or of the U-2."

Sad, on so many levels. Human beings have such short memories.

11:25 AM  
Blogger tom909 said...

Wasn't Vietnam such a load of bollocks. Is there anyone left in the States who thinks otherwise.
How do they all feel about Nicaragua now too.
I wonder if they'll feel the same about Eyeraq, as your leader insists on calling it, in thirty or so years time.

4:08 AM  
Blogger Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

I also cut my teeth on Vietnam, even though it wasn't our war (we said no to the Yanks - those were the days what!). I did my school project on it, cutting out pictures from Paris-Match. The choppers are the iconic image of that war. Sex, drugs & rock 'n roll ... and death. Anyone who was there is surely never going to forget. And yet here we are again with Iraq, politicians never learn from history do they ?

We should bring back the Cold War though, it produced some great novels.

7:25 AM  
Blogger Frontier Editor said...

I agree. We need another Graham Greene.

8:02 AM  
Blogger Carmenzta said...

Yes! The Cold War was sexy. One of my favorite movies, not so much for the storyline but for the beautiful camera angles, is Alfred Hitchcock's "Topaz." Sigh, those were the days...

5:07 PM  
Blogger Frontier Editor said...

Strange, Carmenzta - One of my all-time favorite Cold War movies just happens to be "Our Man in Havana." Alec Guinness and Ernie Kovacs are a hoot.

My favorite Cold War chiller is still "The Bedford Incident"

8:37 PM  

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