The Fleet Angels of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

On a crisp afternoon, 1 April 1948, naval aviation was changed forever. Standing near the hanger that once housed the Hindenburg, Captain Clayton Marcy read the orders the established the U.S. Navy’s first two fleet-operated helicopter Squadrons. The Fleet Angels, Helicopter Utility Squadron One that went to the west coast, and Helicopter Utility Squadron Two that stayed in Lakehurst New Jersey.

Operating off of icebreakers, cruisers, and aircraft carriers, they moved thousands of tons of cargo, provided support for scientific research missions, rescued over 2,000 civilians and military personnel, and engaged in wartime missions

Today there is only one Fleet Angels Squadron. Helicopter Combat Support Squadron Two. They are still carrying on the traditional missions of the iconic Fleet Angels. But now, to these missions, they have added the duties demanded by today’s world politics using the most sophisticated technology and flying skills. In the FLEET ANGELS their history, their struggles, their heroics, and their humor are captured by the stories and tales of the men who flew these crazy machines in the past and today’s men and women Fleet Angel crews.

Rescue work in Dominica
FLEET ANGELS by Barbara Marriott
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A Tribute To The Men and Women Who Fly The Craziest Aircraft….

The US Navy has lots of super sophisticated aircraft and lots of ace pilots to go with them, but one of their aircraft was considered in the past to be unflyable. The Fleet Angels, the US Navy’s first helicopter squadron, proved them wrong. The pioneer pilots finished missions thought impossible, then added stuff no-one thought they could do. So here’s to them! Here’s to the men and women who fly those crazy machines in daring rescues and courageous missions at sea and on land. Read their pioneer exploits and their present missions, enjoy the humor that got them through tough times, and still does. Remember them and others on Memorial Day.

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A Walk On the Wild Side

You would think a brisk morning walk in a western suburban town would be an invigorating and pleasant way to spend a few hours. WRONG! Here it is 2019 and a stroll can become as challenging as a hike through a dangerous jungle. This morning it was javelinas that shared our domain…well the truth is we invaded their domain as they were here first. In case you have never met one, a javelina looks like a big hairy pig but is really in the rodent family. they have poor eyesight and are aggressive, so beware.


Sometimes in our neighborhood we see deer, bobcats and on occasion a mountain lion. Once a bear paid a visit to our community.

That’s the Wild West even in the twenty-first century. We save a lot of money not having to visit zoos or go on safaris.

Makes me think about what the pioneers put up with living in their tents and small log cabins in the middle of nowhere. Pioneer women had some stories about wild animals, Indians, and outlaws. Read their words as they talk about them in IN OUR OWN WORDS: THE LIVES of ARIZONA WOMEN. Of course the tough pioneer men had their own brave stories about the wild life, which they boastfully shared in TWO SIX SHOOTERS BEAT FOUR ACES.



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How green is my Palo Verde?

Contary to what most people believe the desert does have a lot of color besides beige, and a lot of flora besides cacti. My favorite is the Palo Verde tree. Green from its roots to its leaves during the spring, it is an eye-catcher with its brilliant green trunk. It is also a signal the spring round-up is on its way.

In the west that’s the time for cowboys to saddle up and hit the trail. It’s an exciting time of hard work for everyone, including the cattle. It means hard riding, eating dust, or in some cases getting bogged down in spring snow storms. No one understood it better, or captured it more realistically, than Joe Beeler, Charlie Dye, John Hampton, Fred Harman, and George Phippen. These five men were seasoned cowboys earning their living at one point in their lives by cowboying. However that is not what they are known for. All five were the founders of The Cowboy Artists of America, and a colorful lot they were. Fred Harman, Cold War spy, created the popular character Red Ryder before he turned to fine art, Joe Beeler won awards for his bronze and canvas work, John Hampton, WWII intelligence artist, was a New Yorker who out cowboy the western cowpokes, Charlie Dye cowboyed in the movies and provided national magazines with some of their best covers, and George Phippen started it all by insisting western art should depict what cowboys really did and not just show pretty trees and ranges. All five are gone now, but their art lives on in museums, galleries and private homes, and so does the organization they founded.

Here are a few places you can see their art: Denver Art Museum, Gilcrease Museum, Leanin’ Tree Museum, National
Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Phoenix Art Museum, The Rockwell Museum, The Museum of Western Art, Phippen Museum of Western Art.
Check the internet for addresses and more places to view the works of The Cowboy Artists of America. Include a visit on your next vacation. Its a treat for the whole family. Meanwhile read PAINT ‘N SPURS for a real insight into the lives of these fascinating men and their art.

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What Are Big Girls Made of?

What Are Big Girls Made of?

The ubiquitous “they” say little girls are made of sugar and spice. But, what about big girls? seems like something happens between birth and the age of 18. I guess all the sugary and spice is used up and what we have left is courage and capriciousness, determination endearing and bravery and bravado. That’s what big girls are made of. Doubt me? Let’a look at history.

Lucy Flake headed for Arizona Territory in 1877 in a covered wagon as a young bride. Things weren’t as comfortable or as pleasant as she thought they were gong to be. Not even the weather cooperated.

In her own words: “For three days the wind had been terrific. The sand and small stones had beaten into the faces of the horses. The wagon covers were wired down leaving only a small opening in front for the driver to see. The women and children were huddled inside on beds which were made on rope corded from side to side and end to end. With the falling of the wind same a heavy snow. When the sun came out the next day I ordered the boys to fill the tubs with snow which was heated. I stood with tub and washboard and scrubbed the clothes of ten members of my family and half a dozen hired men. My song of gratitude, happiness and cheer rang out far and near over the frosty air.”

How’s that for courage and capriciousness! From In Our Own Words: The Lives of Arizonas Pioneer Women.

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