27 December 2010

come on and let it snow?

Nope, definitely no White Christmas here. It's been mid-80s for the last week, but the abundant breeze has made it more than bearable.

As I miss my home state of Kansas (greatest state in the Union), I just wanted to point out an interesting connection that I found. It's kind of a long story, but I'll try to get to the point.

Being a diehard KU fan, I have set the background on my laptop to an image of our beloved Jayhawk (thanks, Pink, for making such awesome wallpaper, which you can find here), and Vale asked about it today as I was setting up the fantastic family film Sky High for him to watch. I believe the boy's exact words were, "Oh! What a strange bird!"

I told him that the jayhawk is supposedly drawn as a cross between a blue jay and a chicken hawk, which confused him so much that I decided not to mention that it was also the nickname that citizens of Kansas (greatest state in the Union) had during the Civil War. I did, however, go off on the Bitter Bird tangent.

During the Korean War, my grandfather was part of a naval squadron nicknamed the Bitter Birds. I don't know a whole lot about their history, but I'm pretty sure they were just bitter about some stuff, plus they were based in Kansas (home of the Jayhawks; also greatest state in the Union), so they called themselves the Bitter Birds (plus, who doesn't like a little alliteration?).

This piqued my interest, along with the fact that the K-State grad I'd met on Christmas Eve had mentioned the military base where the Bitter Birds originated, so I started looking some stuff up. (Here's the Bitter Birds' insignia, in case you were wondering. Don't you just love his little club with the nail through it? I do.)

Unfortunately, there's no Wikipedia page on them, which made my search considerably more difficult than I'd hoped. However, there is this page for the 2nd Escuadrilla Aeronaval de Caza y Ataque, the primary attack unit in the Argentine Navy's air division. What's their insignia? The exact same jayhawk, still carrying the club, but with green coloring instead of blue, so it looks like the parrots that are so common here.

How they found the Bitter Bird, I have no idea. But finding even such a distant connection to my family while I'm so far from home makes me feel just a little bit closer to them.

1 comment:

Becky Lundgren said...

The Bitter Birds were bitter because most of them had just come out of WWII. They had gotten home, had started families, were going to college (or had civilian jobs that they were making great strides in), and they got called back for the Korean War.

Some men had 5 days of warning, and some had only *2* days to report to duty. So the guys had to move their families out of veterans' housing, back to the homefolk, so there would be family support (emotional and financial) while the men were gone. In 2 - 5 days.

Argentina sent pilots to Leavenworth to train, back in the 1960-1970s. There would have been squadron history at the base, and also at the Topeka site. (While trainees were here, they did as much local sightseeing as possible, as they would likely not be able to do it again, on their own earnings.)

It's quite likely that some of the pilots who trained the Argentinians had been in the 244 squadron. Some of the pilots were "lifers" in the military.

Some of the planes the Bitter Birds flew were probably used in training.

The excess planes were sold, some to the pilots who had flown them. Some to other civilians. So some of those planes were probably hangered at local airports.