Nonprofit aims to save Civil War’s ‘Kitty Hawk’


Did you know: Balloons were used during the Civil War?

“. . .2011 will mark the 150th anniversary of the formation of Thaddeus Lowe’s Aeronautical Corp – our “first air force.” Reconnaissance balloons are to the Civil War what U-2s were to the Cold War.” 

Thaddeus S. Lowe observing the battle from his balloon Intrepid.

Credits – Library of Congress

 *Top photo- Photo Credits – 2001 National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution (SI Neg. No. 91-15977)

War Letters

War Letters on American Experience. You can click on the link and watch the program online. We recorded it and I’m watching it as I create this posting. It’s really amazing and sometimes heartbreaking to hear these letters which span so many wars, decades, and generations.

In every American war from the Revolutionary War to the Persian Gulf War, American military men and women have captured the horror, pathos and intensity of warfare by writing letters home. Tens of thousands of these letters have been handed down from generation to generation. Using the most compelling and enlightening of these missives, War Letters tells the story of American wars from the viewpoint of the men and women in the front lines.”

Utah man receives war medals 66 years late

In this Nov. 10, 2011 photo, Tom Harrison, 93, displays his World War II medals at his home in Salt Lake City. Harrison spent several years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp after enduring the brutal Bataan Death March. He returned home to his family, and more than six decades later, just received six medals honoring his service, including the Distinguished Service Cross and the Silver Star. (AP Photo/Brian Skoloff)

In this Nov. 10, 2011 photo, World War II medals, from left, the Silver Star, Legion of Merit and Distinguished Service Cross, are displayed at veteran Tom Harrison’s Salt Lake City home. Harrison, 93, spent several years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp after enduring the brutal Bataan Death March. He returned home to his family, and more than six decades later, and just last week received six medals honoring his service. (AP Photo/Brian Skoloff)

 Utah man receives war medals 66 years late

Intelligence Operative’s Letter, Sent to Son on Hitler’s Stationery


Intelligence Operative’s Letter, Sent to Son on Hitler’s Stationery

In what will likely go down as one of history’s mysteries, the CIA Museum in McLean, Va., has obtained a letter from former intelligence operative Richard Helms written in 1945 on Hitler’s stationery. Helms’ son, Dennis Helms, had received the letter when he was three years old and gave it to the museum this year.

“Dennis doesn’t know exactly how he came to have [the stationery],” said museum curator Toni Hiley. “And we don’t have any information in any of the publications on Helms where he’s referenced [to know] exactly how he obtained it.”

In the brief note, dated “V-E day,” meaning May 8, 1945, OSS operative Richard Helms tells his young son:

“The man who might have written on this card once controlled Europe – three short years ago when you were born. Today he is dead, his memory despised, his country in ruins. He had a thirst for power, a low opinion of man as an individual, and a fear of intellectual honesty. He was a force for evil in the world. His passing, his defeat – a boon to mankind. But thousands died that it might be so. The price for ridding society of bad is always high. Love, Daddy.”

ht helms letter 1 tk 111101 wmain Intelligence Operatives Letter, Sent to Son on Hitlers Stationery Courtesy of the CIA

When the museum received the letter from Dennis Helms on the Monday following Osama bin Laden’s assassination, Hiley said the staff was “stunned.”

“It seemed like he could have been writing it about bin Laden,” she said. “It seemed like there was no time between the two. Like 66 years had just evaporated.”

Aside from the timing, the letter itself — with its heartfelt message from father to son — was equally unique. “I was just struck that he would have a sense or sweep of history. From his perspective in 1945 as a young intelligence officer, he couldn’t have known he would be director of the CIA, he couldn’t have known that there would be another evil that intelligence would address 66 years later,” said Hiley. “It’s almost prescient that he would have a sense of his own perspective in history to create a historical artifact for his 3-year-old son.”

The museum, which is not open to the public, added the letter to their exhibit about the CIA’s precursor, the Office of Strategic Services.

Richard Helms joined the OSS in 1943, and stayed until it was disbanded in October of 1945. Eventually, he would become director of the CIA, a post he held from 1966 until 1973 when Nixon pushed him out and he became the United States Ambassador to Iran. In the years following his departure from the CIA, he was questioned about the Castro assassination plots and the CIA’s role in overthrowing Chile’s government, for which he was eventually convicted of perjury.

His letter is now displayed alongside a dinner plate from Hitler’s chancellery obtained from Richard Helms’ widow, Cynthia Helms. ”In September 1945 he was in Berlin and had an opportunity to go to Hitler’s bunker,” said Hiley of the museum’s third artifact from Helms’ career — the first being a telegram obtained from his personnel file.

Dennis Helms told the Washington Post he and his father corresponded often by mail, but it was the sign-off in that initial letter, “Love, Daddy” that has always stayed with him.

“This letter was an opportunity to say what was on his mind,” Dennis Helms, 69, told the Washington Post. “I just wish there had been more such occasions.”

Story from


FYI: Stationery is not to be confused with stationary.


 /ˈsteɪʃəˌnɛri/  Spelled[stey-shuh-ner-ee] noun

1. writing paper.

2. writing materials, as pens, pencils, paper, and envelopes.


  /ˈsteɪʃəˌnɛri/  Spelled [stey-shuh-ner-ee]  adjective, noun, plural -ar·ies.


1. standing still; not moving.
2. having a fixed position; not movable.
3. established in one place; not itinerant or migratory.
4. remaining in the same condition or state; not changing: The market price has remained stationary for a week.

Blackbeard’s Cannon Lifted from Ocean Floor

Arrgh! More pirates in the news. . .

If you watched Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides, you had the chance to see one depiction of Blackbeard and I’ll have to say that Ian McShane looks pretty realistic as Blackbeard the Pirate.

Did you know? Blackbeard’s real name was simply Edward Teach? When my family and I visited the Outerbanks of North Carolina in the spring we stumbled across a historical marker to indicate where Blackbeard was killed in Okracoke, North Carolina

Blackbeard was a frequent visitor of the Outerbanks

Blackbeard’s Cannon Lifted from Ocean Floor

Photo courtesy of Karen Browning and the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources)