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Does History Make the Man?


Fri, Mar 2nd, 2001
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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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A Step Back in Time

Fri, Mar 2nd, 2001
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Monday, February 19, 2000

The elderly lady behind the counter says, "Here are your tickets. You must go upstairs now and when you hear the bell, you must come down and begin the tour. No one is allowed into the Clock Museum without a tour guid ..... 
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Beneath Tropical Seas

Fri, Mar 2nd, 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 2nd, 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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Pigs I have known

Fri, Mar 2nd, 2001
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Monday, February 26, 2001

I recently had the privilege of addressing the Fillmore County Pork Producers at their annual banquet. As a group they were very prompt, very polite, and I felt a little bad about keeping some of them up so late. Earl ..... 
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What island are you from?

Fri, Mar 2nd, 2001
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Monday, March 5, 2001

In the movie Cast Away, Tom Hanks, who plays a Type-A executive from Federal Express, finds himself alone on a tropical island in the middle of the Pacific after surviving a horrific plane crash.

It takes a ..... 
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Fri, Mar 2nd, 2001
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Fri, Mar 2nd, 2001
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Submit a Letter to the Editor here

Fri, Mar 2nd, 2001
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To the Editor,
Monday, March 5, 2001

I enjoyed Nancy Overcotts interesting article about the little town of Spillville.

I remember in the 1920s when we stopped at the farm to see the Bily clocks. Showing the clocks were tw ..... 
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