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Does History Make the Man?


Fri, Mar 16th, 2001
Posted in

Monday, February 26, 2001

Editors note: The following article was adapted from a school assignment by the author.

"I wanted to be above anything else a politician. Then along comes World War II, marriage, children, said Lt. Col. Richard Nelson of his 32-year career in the military.

When the war broke out Nelson was twenty-three years old and recently married. He was a WWI baby from Preston, Minnesota. He was getting himself into the most massive military conflict in world history. Nelson was nicknamed "Baldy" at the beginning of the war, because he started going bald at the age of seventeen.

Nelson was called into the Air Corps after a year of waiting. He went to Santa Anna, California, the staging area. The men went through vigorous physiological, aptitude, physical fitness, and medical examinations before they could fly. This was designed to be a weeding out process.

From there, Nelson went to three different flight schools. In Phoenix, Arizona, he was at Thunderbird I, a basic flying school. Then he went from Pecos, Texas to Williams Field in Phoenix, Arizona. Nelson was taught specifically to fly the legendary P-38, a pursuit fighter plane nicknamed "lightning."

The P-38 was a single-seated, two-engine fighter-bomber. In the nose of the aircraft were four fifty-caliber machine guns, one twenty-millimeter canon, and underneath the wings it was able to carry up to two-thousand pound bombs. On the tail of Nelsons P-38 was the letter "B" for his wife Beatrice back at home.

Nelson was taught dive-bombing, strafing, enemy positioning, and cutting off lines of interdiction. He became part of the 428th fighter squadron in the 474th fighter group. There were four squadrons, each squadron consisted of twenty-five aircraft and twenty-seven pilots; out of the twenty-seven original men, only four returned home.

All of the men knew how to fly, all knew each other, all were relatively the same age, and all of them were extremely aggressive. "If you werent aggressive you wouldnt exist very long in aerial combat," declared Nelson. "When we lost a friend, you just couldnt cry. You couldnt worry about it because you had your own particular problems.

The P-38 could stay aloft for up to eight hours. Before D-Day, Nelson had flown from north of London into Warsaw, Poland to provide fighter-support. This was the longest flight Nelson made in WWII. The P-38 is not a pressurized plane. N .....
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Crossing Cultures

Fri, Mar 16th, 2001
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Monday, March 19, 2001

It's a bone chilling November evening in 1979. Members of Sheie and Garness Lutheran Churches of rural Mabel wait in the LaCrosse airport for a family coming across the Mekong River, Laotian mountains and centuries of cu ..... 
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Beneath Tropical Seas

Fri, Mar 16th, 2001
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Monday, February 5, 2001

Waves roll in and then recede, as the ocean endlessly caresses this lonely tropical shore. Shallow, crystal clear and deliciously warm are the waters of the all-encompassing sea. The white sand beach is deserted, polis ..... 
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Escape from America

Fri, Mar 16th, 2001
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Monday, December 11, 2000

I guess Im a snowbird at heart because every year about this time, once the temperature dips below zero and looks like its going to stay there awhile, I start yearning to go south. Way south. All the way down to Ecu ..... 
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More for Your Money

Fri, Mar 16th, 2001
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Monday, March 12, 2001

When the clock radio comes on these late winter mornings, I am often surprised by how much daylight already exists at that hour. I lose track of sunrise during the cloudy months of January and February.

This time ..... 
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Money Well Spent

Fri, Mar 16th, 2001
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Monday, March 19, 2001

I sat in a seat in the middle of the theatre and looked upward.

The ceiling is still up there after all these years, I thought. Masonite panels tacked up with nails and painted green. Usually the lights are lo ..... 
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Weller sentenced to 10 years

Fri, Mar 9th, 2001
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Monday, February 26, 2001

Lloyd Albert Weller was sentenced to 10 years in prison by Judge Robert Benson in Fillmore County District Court on Thursday, February 22.

As part of a plea bargain agreement, Weller had plead guilty to one co ..... 
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Zoning Summit looks at Ag District

Fri, Mar 9th, 2001
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By John Torgrimson Monday, March 5, 2001

County leaders, township officials, and interested residents attended the joint meeting of the Fillmore County Board and the Fillmore County Planning Commission on Monday, February 26. The two bodies me ..... 
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Lanesboro City Council

Fri, Mar 9th, 2001
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Concerns raised about damBy John TorgrimsonMonday, March 12, 2001

The historic Lanesboro dam was the topic of some concern at Mondays Lanesboro City Council meeting.

The hydro-electric plant has not been able to generate electricity ..... 
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