“News from the Hut”: 13 February 2014

for American Legion Post #142; Hominy, Oklahoma.
>>> by Gary Lanham

As has become typical during this cold snowy winter with meetings postponed for safety reasons, this “Historian” of the Hut has time to dig back in history for interesting tidbits. Today’s paper marks the birthday of two remarkable individuals. One not known so much for their military service, the other known for extreme white knuckled performance for his country.

Born in Bristol, Tennessee, to Clarence Thomas Ford and Maud Long, “Tennessee” Ernest Ford began his radio career as an announcer at a radio station in Bristol, Tennessee.  First Lieutenant Ford served in World War II as the bombardier on a B-29 Superfortress flying missions over Japan.  After the war, Ford worked at radio stations in San Bernardino and Pasadena, California.  In San Bernardino, Ford was hired as a radio announcer.  He was assigned to host an early morning country music disc jockey program titled Bar Nothin’ Ranch Time.  To differentiate himself, he created the personality of “Tennessee Ernie,” a wild, madcap exaggerated hillbilly.

He took over from band-leader Kay Kyser as host of the TV version of NBC show Kollege of Musical Knowledge when it returned briefly in 1954 after a four-year hiatus.  He became a household name in the U.S. largely as a result of his hilarious portrayal of the country bumpkin, “Cousin Ernie” on three episodes of I Love Lucy.

In 1955, Ford recorded “Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier” (which reached number 4 on the country chart) with “Farewell to the Mountains” on side B.  As a boy I was fond of the Davey Crockett them which I can still recite today.  I was also fond, of course, of “Sixteen Tons”.

The other notable Charles Elwood “Chuck” Yeager (born February 13, 1923), a retired Brigader General in the USAF and noted test pilot. In 1947, he became the first pilot to (officially) travel faster than sound. Yeager’s career began in World War II as a private in the Army Air Corps. After serving as an aircraft mechanic, in September 1942 he entered enlisted pilot training and upon graduation was promoted to the rank of flight officer and became a P-51 Mustang Pilot.

After the war, Yeager became a test pilot of many types of aircraft including experimental rocket-powered aircraft. As the first human to break the sound barrier on October 14, 1947, he flew the experimental Bell X-1 at Mach 1, at an altitude of 45,000 ft. (13,700 m). Although Scott Crossfield was the first to fly faster than Mach 2 in 1953, Yeager shortly thereafter set a new record of Mach 2.44.

Yeager later commanded fighter squadrons and wings in Germany and in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, and in recognition of the outstanding performance ratings of those units he then was promoted to brigadier general. Yeager’s flying career spans more than 60 years and has taken him to every corner of the globe, including the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War.

Yeager’s popularity soared in the 1980s, when he was prominently featured in Tom Wolfe’s book The Right Stuff and in its 1983 movie adaptation, in which he was portrayed by Sam Shepard. I appreciate Wikipedia as a source for information.

Our regular meetings are the first and third Thursdays at 7:00 PM (Feb 20th) if weather does not present a challenge. Our Monday morning Koffee Klatch meetings for January is up and running again as normal starting around 0700 till about 0900 if weather is above freezing and hospitable. Eli and Jerry usually have things set up where we can catch up on each others mischief and story telling. If you are a veteran come on by. If you have a good story, it may end up in print!

About Gary Lanham

Authors the weekly article "News from the Hut", about local American Legion Post #142 in Hominy, OK. Read his weekly articles in the "Hominy News Progress".
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