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The FReeper Foxhole Remembers the Great Los Angeles Air Raid (2/25/1942) - Dec. 8th, 2004
Word War II Magazine | September 2003 | Donald J. Young

Posted on 12/08/2004 12:19:01 AM PST by SAMWolf


Keep our Troops forever in Your care

Give them victory over the enemy...

Grant them a safe and swift return...

Bless those who mourn the lost.

FReepers from the Foxhole join in prayer
for all those serving their country at this time.

.................................................................. .................... ...........................................

U.S. Military History, Current Events and Veterans Issues

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The FReeper Foxhole is dedicated to Veterans of our Nation's military forces and to others who are affected in their relationships with Veterans.

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Phantom Raid on L.A.

Anxiety about a possible Japanese invasion of the West Coast caused anti-aircraft crews guarding Los Angeles to shoot first and ask questions later.

A few minutes after 7 p.m. on February 23, 1942, the Japanese submarine I-17 surfaced a few hundred yards off the Barnsdall Oil Company's mile-long row of shoreline derricks 10 miles north of Santa Barbara, California. Moments later it opened fire on the giant Richfield aviation fuel storage tanks on the hill behind the beach. The 20 or so shots, for the most part, were wild, one landing more than a mile inland. The closest shell exploded in a field 30 yards from one of the tanks. No coastal defense units were within 100 miles of the area to shoot back, so after its ineffective cannonade the Japanese sub slipped away without incident.

If U.S. coast and anti-aircraft defense units were on edge before, the incident of February 23, just a few months after Pearl Harbor, considerably heightened their tension. In fact, what happened that night 10 miles north of Santa Barbara contributed to what followed the next night in the skies over Los Angeles.

At 2:25 a.m. on February 25, air raid sirens blared throughout parts of the "City of Angels." It was not the city's first air raid alert of the war. The most recent warning had been in effect earlier that night. None of these warnings, however, had ever gone beyond the yellow-alert stage. Yellow alerts were sounded when unidentified aircraft were detected. Of the dozen or so instances when yellow alerts had been announced, only two had gone to the red stage. Red alerts were serious business. Not only did they trigger air raid alarms, blackouts and radio silence, they sent some 10,000 air raid wardens and auxiliary police onto the streets. Anti-aircraft guns were manned and searchlights turned on.

When an air raid defense radar picked up a mysterious contact shortly before 2 a.m. on February 25, the unknown contact was approximately 100 miles southwest of Los Angeles. By 2:07 it was officially declared an "unidentified aircraft approaching the coast" and a yellow alert was called. Fifteen minutes later, the blue alert signal was given. This indicated that presumed enemy aircraft were bearing down on the coast. Three minutes later, with the aircraft still unidentified, the red alert was given. Air raid sirens immediately began to sound, and wardens donned their white helmets and grabbed their flashlights. Two minutes later, radio silence was ordered. At 2:32, anti-aircraft and searchlight crews were at the manned-and-ready position. At 3:05, San Diego was given the red-alert warning, and radio communication between the two cities stopped five minutes later. The Los Angeles air raid was on.

Anti-aircraft guns from the IV Interceptor Command opened fire at 3:16 a.m., fired steadily until 3:36, stopped, then resumed at 4:05 for another 10 minutes. During their 30-minute fusillade, the command's guns hurled 1,440 rounds of 3-inch and 37mm ammunition into the night sky above Los Angeles. Not counting unofficial shots, 48 shells were fired per minute. And almost 10 tons of expended ammunition fell somewhere on the city during the supposed raid.

According to the Los Angeles Examiner, "shrapnel-strewn areas took on the appearance of a huge Easter-egg hunt, [as] youngsters and grownups alike scrambled through streets and vacant lots, picking up and proudly comparing chunks of shrapnel fragments." Some of the 3-inch anti-aircraft shells had failed to explode in the air and hurtled back to earth.

Young Mary Perez and her two brothers, walking through a familiar vacant lot on the way to school the next morning near Hawthorne, noticed two small craters that had not been there the day before. In just five minutes the two boys picked up more than a dozen jagged pieces of shrapnel and the detonators from two faulty 3-inch anti-aircraft shells that exploded when they hit the ground less than 100 yards from the Perez home.

M1941 60" Sperry Searchlight

At the home of Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Landis a single faulty 3-inch shell blew up only when it hit the concrete driveway in front of the garage. When the shooting started, Mrs. Landis woke up her sister, Blanch Sedgwick, and 14-year-old niece, Josie, who were sleeping together in the guest bedroom, telling them to "come see what was happening." Seconds later the anti-aircraft shell hit the driveway, blowing out the windows of the garage and sending deadly chunks of shrapnel into the house—luckily just missing Sedgwick and her daughter. "When we went back into the bedroom," said Mrs. Landis, "we found one fragment of shell had cut clear through the blanket and mattress where my sister and niece were sleeping just moments before."

A second shell exploded between two houses just east of the Landis home. Two pieces of jagged hot metal were blasted into the bedroom occupied by Selas Sakellaris' son, shattering the doorframe and striking the bed occupied by the boy. A third fragment crashed through the window of his daughter's bedroom, and a fourth ripped through the side of the garage, blowing out a tire on the family car.

At Fred Watson's home in Santa Monica a shell hit the concrete driveway and, according to Mrs. Watson, "made a thunderous rumble, a terrific jar, and sounded like the screeching of a thousand wild animals" before burying itself 3 feet underground.

The next morning the Army had the entire street roped off, with a large sign at both ends warning "UNEXPLODED BOMB." After explosives expert Sergeant C.M. Weathers dug up the unexploded shell, a newspaper photographer asked, "Could you dust it off a little bit so I can take a picture?" "Would you like us to put a little sandpaper on it and blow us all to hell?" asked Weathers. "Never mind," said the photographer as he backed away, "that'll do just fine."

Even when the anti-aircraft shells went off where they were supposed to, fragments of various sizes fell all over the city, including at shipyards and aircraft plants where late-night shifts were at work. According to the Los Angeles Examiner, 5,000 workers in the Calship Yard in San Pedro "scrambled to safety…when a sudden rain of anti-aircraft shell fragments showered down over the yards."

Shipyard worker James Mason said that when the fragments started falling "we ducked for shelter in the hulls of ships, under them, anywhere we could get. We sure got out of the way in a hurry. By 8 the next morning, three of my buddies had picked up a tin hat full of shrapnel. By the time the graveyard shift clocked out, everyone went home with their pockets loaded."

At the North American Aviation plant in Inglewood, several workers who had gone outside to watch the spectacle had taken refuge under the wings of one of the many B-25s lining the field outside the factory. Some did not remain there long, however, as the sound of shrapnel fragments peppering the wings of the planes drove them back inside. The next morning several holes were found in the wings and fuselages of some of the planes where larger pieces of shrapnel had gone clear through their aluminum skins.

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The air raid led to many unfortunate and unusual incidents. Of the more than 100 people arrested for various blackout-related violations, many were Japanese-Americans, who just days before had learned of President Franklin Roosevelt's Executive Order 9066 that called for their internment. In all, more than 30 were hauled in for everything from a lighted-up radio dial to allegedly signaling to enemy planes. In the beach city of Venice, the FBI brought in a 51-year-old Japanese mother and her two sons when, according to a local paper, a citizen "notified officers [that] he had seen lights in [their] home blinking suspiciously." Thomas Asahi, a 25-year-old, was arrested in the Japanese-American community of Gardena for flashing his car lights "in a signaling manner." He said he was testing to see if the car was equipped for night driving. His sentence was 90 days in jail or a $300 fine. Asahi took the 90 days. In all, 20 Japanese-Americans were arrested in Gardena for driving during the blackout. A Los Angeles Examiner story, under headline "Flare Signals Rise in Jap Area During Shelling," reported that 12 were arrested for allegedly releasing paper balloons that later burst into flames, becoming flares that "fell in rotations of 3 white and 3 red" as they descended.

The inside page from the Los Angeles Times, February 26, 1942.

Eight people died during the raid, three of heart attacks, the others in accidents related to the blackout. Sixty-year-old California State Guard Sergeant Henry B. Ayers died of a heart attack at the wheel of the Army truck he was driving while hauling ammunition at the height of the barrage.

Not only Japanese-Americans were arrested. Allen Lewanger was pulled over by a Beverly Hills police officer for driving with his headlights on. After being told it was illegal to drive, let alone with headlights on, during a blackout, Lewanger still refused to comply. He told the officer he could "Go to hell" and was promptly arrested. A second arrest came when police detained a man who claimed that he had thrown a garbage can through the window of Mandel's Jewelry Store because a light was shining in the display window. A third arrest came when a 21-year-old aircraft worker earned a dubious distinction—he became the first person arrested for violation of blackout regulations when he rear-ended an air raid warden's car while driving illegally during the blackout.

Fixed Mount 3-inch Anti Aircraft Gun.

As soon as the guns fell silent, people began to discuss what had happened and what they had seen. By far the most controversial topic of debate was the exact number of planes that had flown over the city. In its morning edition, the Los Angeles Examiner said, "The numbers reported by civilian witnesses [were] as high as 50." Peter Jenkins of the Examiner's editorial staff wrote that he clearly saw "the ‘V' formation of about 25 silvery planes overhead moving slowly across the sky toward Long Beach, apparently in search of the aircraft plants located there." He added, "About 10 minutes later, after the first barrage, a second flight of planes coming from the Santa Monica Mountains also were picked up by the searchlights." Jean Fison in Long Beach said she saw 12 planes drop flares that burned out around 3,000 feet. Some people in Torrance said they saw as many as 15 planes in formation; others reported "clouds of planes."

Reports from the military, like those from civilian sources, also varied widely. An unidentified coast artillery colonel said his battery spotted "about 25 planes flying at 12,000 feet." The IV Interceptor Command notified the commanding officer at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro that "some 20 or 30 unidentified planes were flying in the direction of the aircraft plants in and around Los Angeles." Records show that one of the batteries at Fort MacArthur fired 15 rounds at a single plane that came over, "but it drew out of range rapidly and fire was discontinued." Sergeant John Ziesler of the 122nd Coast Artillery Regiment, guarding a Consolidated-Vultee aircraft plant in Downey, said his battery spotted three or four planes flying so high that, despite increasing the fuze setting on their 3-inch shells to infinity, they still exploded 10,000 yards below the aircraft. At 3:28 a.m. Battery G, 78th Coast Artillery Regiment, located in Long Beach, reported 25 to 30 heavy bombers over the Douglas Aircraft plant. Thirty-one minutes later, the same battery reported 15 more planes approaching the plant, at which they fired 246 3-inch shells until the targets disappeared out to sea. Six minutes later, a second flight of 15 planes was reported heading for Douglas, but were too high for the 3-inch guns to reach. At 4:55, the 37th Coast Artillery headquarters in downtown Los Angeles was told that the Douglas plant at Long Beach "had been bombed but suffered no hits."

Navy Secretary Frank Knox

The official report from the commanding general, Southern California Sector, Fort MacArthur, said that at 2:35 a.m. an anti-aircraft detachment in Santa Fe Springs reported "seeing 14 planes in searchlight beams flying south," and that this was confirmed at 3:28 by a searchlight battery at Artesia that reported seeing "14 or 15 planes in searchlight beams flying west." The report concluded that accounts from officers, enlisted men and civilians "tend to establish the fact that unidentified planes were over the Los Angeles area from approximately 2:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m." A second report claimed that the number of planes, although unconfirmed, was "25 or 30 bombers," and that parachute flares were "dropped over Santa Monica at 0405, and orange flares [over] Catalina Island, [but] no confirmed reports of any bombs dropped." After sifting through all the reports and miscellaneous information, Army authorities in Los Angeles settled on 15 as the official count of enemy planes that had appeared overhead. California Congressman William Johnson told his constituents, "I have checked carefully with War and Navy Departments concerning air raid Wednesday morning. Coastal defense in hands of Army and Navy reports their lookouts sighted planes, probably 15 in number, flying at slow speed from 9,000 to 18,000 feet."

Later that day, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson issued his own statement confirming the 15 planes. Stimson was smart enough to leave himself an out by saying that planes were probably over Los Angeles, and that as many as 15 may have been involved. Nevertheless, headlines in most newspapers carried the words "Stimson Says 15 Planes Over L.A."

The only place that 15 planes could have come from was an aircraft carrier. A thorough search of the waters off the coast, however, revealed nothing. When confronted with this technical detail, Stimson asserted that the planes may have been "enemy agents flying commercial planes to demoralize civilians, disclose anti-aircraft positions and the effectiveness of blackouts." This version of events had the added benefit of explaining why no bombs were dropped.

Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson

No sooner had Stimson come out with the Army's statement than Navy Secretary Frank Knox, when asked about the raid, contradicted his opposite number. "There were no planes over Los Angeles last night," he said; the whole thing was "a false alarm."

Knox's contradiction stirred up a hornet's nest. It started in Los Angeles, when Sheriff Eugene Biscailuz and Harold W. Kennedy of Los Angeles County's Civil Defense authority issued a statement declaring, "We jointly decry the very great damage done to civilian defense morale by the reputed statement of Secretary of the Navy Knox that today's air raid was a 'false alarm.'" Two days later, headlines reading "Raid Inquiries Demanded by Congress" and "Questioning of Knox and Stimson Urged in Los Angeles Alert" appeared in the Los Angeles Times, followed by the statement, "Reverberations from the…unclarified air raid alarm at Los Angeles early Wednesday morning continued today in the Senate and House chambers, with action shaping up for at least two Congressional inquiries into the affair."

1 posted on 12/08/2004 12:19:02 AM PST by SAMWolf
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To: snippy_about_it; PhilDragoo; Johnny Gage; Victoria Delsoul; The Mayor; Darksheare; Valin; ...
The House Military Affairs Committee called Stimson and Knox in for questioning. Representative Harry Englebright of the Special Senate and House Defense Committee urged that the two departments "explain why the secretary of war continues to tell the country the raid was real, while the secretary of the Navy hasn't withdrawn his inference that it was ‘phony.'" Stimson got himself off the hook by repeating that he had said unidentified planes were probably over the city, and as many as 15 planes may have been involved and that enemy agents might have flown them. In reference to his no planes over L.A. statement, Knox claimed he was referring to them as enemy planes, and that no Japanese planes were found after a wide reconnaissance later that morning.

With all the reported sightings from both military and civilian sources, it is difficult to believe that there was nothing in the sky over Los Angeles that night. There is little doubt that thousands of people believed they had seen enemy aircraft. In the years since the raid, however, only two things have been definitely determined about the alleged enemy aircraft that evening: First, if there were any planes, they were not Japanese; and second, no one in the 60 years since the raid has come forward and said, "Yes, there were planes up there that night, and I ought to know because I was flying one of them."

If there were no Japanese aircraft overhead that evening, the question remains as to what caused such an extreme reaction by citizens and soldiers. The answer can probably be found in the Army's statement that the suspicious aircraft "flew very slowly while going from 9,000 to 18,000 feet when it disappeared," and that it might have been a blimp.

Compounding the confusion were meteorological balloons sent up that night by the 203rd Coast Artillery Regiment. This National Guard anti-aircraft unit from Missouri had been activated in September 1940. Seventeen days after Pearl Harbor, the 203rd arrived in California and was assigned to guard the Douglas Aircraft plant in Santa Monica against anticipated enemy air attacks.

With 3-inch guns ranging as high as 25,000 feet, it was necessary to keep anti-aircraft gunners up to date on current wind conditions in order to make any adjustments before any shooting started. This information was gathered periodically by releasing meteorological balloons and then tracking them with a theodolite, an instrument designed to compute the velocity and direction of the wind. The 4-foot-diameter balloons were released by each of the dozen or so anti-aircraft regiments around the Los Angeles area every six hours.

At 3 a.m. on the morning of the raid, the 203rd launched two balloons, one from its headquarters on the Sawtelle Veterans Hospital grounds in Westwood and the other from Battery D, located on the Douglas Aircraft plant site in Santa Monica. So that the balloons could be tracked at night, a candle placed inside a simple highball glass was suspended under each balloon, whose silver color would reflect the light enough to be tracked to heights usually well above 25,000 feet. Lieutenant Melvin Timm, officer in charge of Battery D's meteorological operations, ordered his balloon launched and had notified the filter room—also known as the Flower Street Control Center, where all planes, identified or otherwise, were tracked on a giant, flat table map—of its departure, when "all hell broke loose."

By the time Timm released his balloon, the city had been under red-alert conditions for more than half an hour; searchlights were on and probing the sky; and anti-aircraft gunners, fingers on their triggers, were nervously following the searchlight beams in hopes of spotting the anticipated enemy planes. It was at this time that Sergeant George Holmes, who had launched Battery D's balloon, called Timm, saying he was no longer able to track it, that someone was shooting at it.

"I went over and couldn't follow it either," said Timm. "A shell would explode near it and it would blow far enough so it wasn't visible on the scope."

At regimental headquarters they were having the same problem. The officer in charge of the meteorological operations at Sawtelle, Lieutenant John E. Moore, recalled: "As soon as [their] balloon attained altitude and was carried up the coast by the wind, searchlights came on, picked up the balloon and shortly thereafter, 3-inch anti-aircraft guns began firing. Corporal John O'Connell, in charge of tracking the balloon, ran to me and reported, ‘Lieutenant, they're firing at my balloon!' I went to the theodolite to verify his report and, sure enough, bursts of AA fire were exploding all around it causing it to bounce and dance all over the sky. I immediately reported to our regimental commanding officer, Colonel Ray Watson, that the guns were firing at our balloon and that there were no aircraft in sight."

Watson sent out the order that none of the 203rd's 3-inch guns were to fire, then notified the Flower Street Control Room of what was happening. Astonishingly, the order came back from Flower Street to shoot down the balloon.

According to Moore, "Our balloon continued up the coast, and the guns continued firing into the night. The next day the newspapers proclaimed ‘Japs Bomb Los Angeles.'"

The fact that the 203rd, sitting directly in the flight path of the "enemy" planes as they crossed the coast, did not fire a shot upset IV Interceptor Command officers. Timm remembered a staff officer from the Fourth coming in and jumping all over Battery D's commander for not firing. "When Captain Harris gave him my story," said Timm, "I was summoned. I was told to keep my mouth shut, and that there had been seven Japanese planes up there. I was also told that if I repeated my story about shooting at a balloon and not enemy planes, I would be put behind bars."

For Watson, it was a lot worse. He was called on the carpet for ordering the entire regiment to "hold their fire because he said he knew a meteorological balloon when he saw one, and they weren't going to shoot." Sergeant Orville Hayward, who accompanied Watson to headquarters that day, remembered, "Ray was simply relieved of command, with two options: be reassigned to a desk with some other outfit, or retire. He chose to retire."

Regardless of what was or was not overhead, once the shooting started nobody seemed to care. Whenever and wherever searchlights stopped probing and focused on something, orange-colored bursts of exploding anti-aircraft shells quickly filled the sky around it. At least one unit, the 211th Coast Artillery Regiment, admitted that although its members did not see any planes, they shot anyway.

First Sergeant Leon Earnest from the 203rd observed that as the searchlights followed the targets down the coast and the big guns opened up, "the smaller ones, unable to stand the strain, also opened up." Sergeant John Ziesler, with the 122nd Coast Artillery in Downey, said that as soon as his battery went into action everyone went crazy: "Guys were seen firing .45 pistols, rifles, submachine guns; even the 37mm guns from the roof of the aircraft plant were firing. You could hear the expended ordnance landing all around."

An air-raid siren is tested in Los Angeles -- early 1942

Even the Navy got involved. At the Consolidated shipyard in San Pedro, the 3-inch anti-aircraft guns from a dry-docked destroyer also sent up several hundred pounds of steel into the skies over Los Angeles.

Although nobody from the Fourth ever came forward to admit that, possibly, the "raid" was more the result of overreaction by its men than marauding Japanese aircraft, it is almost certain that the excitement that evening stemmed from a misread radar contact that placed the city on a red alert, and underexperienced and overanxious anti-aircraft gunners who chose to shoot first and ask questions later when the balloons began floating over the city. It is fortunate indeed that casualties from the subsequent shower of steel falling on the city were so light.

While it is easy to look back and laugh at the excitability of Los Angeles' defenders, their reaction to the possibility of an enemy air attack reflects the anxiety that gripped much of the West Coast in the months after Pearl Harbor.

Additional Sources:

2 posted on 12/08/2004 12:20:06 AM PST by SAMWolf (I was not CREATING a disturbance, I was improving one already there.)
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To: All
The Great Los Angeles Air Raid

On the night and early morning of February 24 and 25, 1942, a singular event unfolded in the skies over Southern California – the continental United States was attacked by an enemy. Or was it? The reports of this vary, from a squadron of Japanese bombers, a weather balloon, and even alien spacecraft, and the subsequent government conspiracies that followed. We do know that something happened; too many people witnessed the event to dispute that fact, but what really happened?

The newspaper reports from Wednesday morning of the 25, varied wildly. The Los Angeles Examiner said that civilian witness had put the number of planes at fifty, and that three of them had been shot down over the ocean, although there was no immediate confirmation of this from Army or Navy sources. The Los Angeles Times headlines blared “L.A. Area Raided”, and “Jap Planes Peril Santa Monica”. The 77th street police station reported a downed aircraft near 180th street and Vermont. By the light of day what could be put together is that at approximately 3:10 am anti aircraft batteries that had been stationed around Southern California’s defense plants began firing their 12.8 - pound explosive charges and kept this up for fifty minutes, eventually launching over 1,400 of them. The curious thing was that not a single bomb had been dropped on the city, and not a single scrap of any aircraft was ever recovered. In fact, the only casualties were caused by the falling shrapnel and unexploded ordinance that rained in a 40 mile arc from Santa Monica to Long Beach.

Newspaper Rack, San Francisco Examiner, 6 a.m. Extra
February 27, 1942.

Early 1942 was a time of much uncertainty to many Southern Californians. Pearl harbor had been attacked just a few months earlier and many were suspicious of the large Japanese population living so close to some of Americas most strategic industries. Just twenty-four hours earlier an enemy submarine had attacked an oil refinery in Goleta, a sleepy coastal town just one hour north of Los Angeles. Although the shelling did less than $500 in damage and caused no casualties, this attack was widely reported in Los Angeles and caused some alarm among the citizenry. That an enemy submarine could surface a couple hundred yards from shore and lob shells onto the beach for thirty minutes was cause for consternation. (The fact that they appeared to be incredibly bad shots was lost on most people at the time.) The day after the air raid, in Washington, Navy Secretary Frank Knox was quoted as saying “as far as I know the whole raid was a false alarm and could be attributed to jittery nerves”. But did any of those one million witnesses actually see an enemy aircraft? Many will point to some sort of government cover-up or conspiracy. However, as we were at war, still stinging from Pearl Harbor, it is reasonable to assume that the United States government would want to keep an enemy attack quiet.

The physical evidence points to no aircraft at all being up there that night. As one witness, Jack Illfrey, a young p-38 pilot assigned to the 94th aero squadron stationed at Long Beach Airport reported, “We pilots prayed to the good Lord above that we wouldn't be sent up in that barrage, enemy or not. Most everyone saw or imagined something – Jap Zero’s, P34’s, Jap Betty bombers. We were not sent up”. So not even American interceptors were sent up that night, thankfully, as they may likely have become victims of “friendly fire”. Years later it was discovered that a coastal radar station had indeed seen an inbound blip on their radar screens that night. But was this actually enemy aircraft?

Many of the eyewitness accounts of that morning were from average people with no nighttime aircraft observation experience. My own grandfather witnessed this from the roof of the (now defunct) Hollywood Reporter with several other men, and said years later that he thought he might have occasionally seen some silver objects caught in the beams of the searchlights, which, from his observation point, were to the west (Santa Monica) and south towards central Los Angeles, but could not be sure it was not the effect of two beams intersecting. He also saw shell bursts which he described as “orange-red”. Even some more experienced observers like Peter Jenkins, a staff reporter with the evening Herald Examiner, could not be counted as a reliable witness, as he reported that “I could clearly see the “V” formation of about 25 silvery planes overhead moving slowly across the sky towards Long Beach”. Even Long Beach chief of police J. H. McClelland claimed to have witnessed planes inbound towards Redondo Beach. He had witnessed this spectacle from the roof of the Long Beach civic center with a Naval Observer using high-powered binoculars. But again, with all that flack in the air, if there had been planes, one would expect something to get hit. Some have countered that this was an aerial reconnaissance flight, but that is highly unlikely as recon flights are traditionally high and fast and occur during the day, as there is not much to see on the ground at night.

Some more plausible theories involve errant weather balloons and even the oft-told story of several of these carrying flares, an apparent response to the alarm of panic. Although no balloons were officially recovered, the Army might have wanted to suppress embarrassing evidence of panic and misjudgment. Regardless, for batteries to be firing from all corners of Los Angeles at an errant weather balloon, even under the duress of the early days of World War II, borders on the ludicrous.

Since the 1970’s some have proffered that this was caused by extraterrestrial beings flying over the coast of Los Angeles. They usually point to a famous photograph showing search lights and spots as proof. These spots are probably the detonation of Anti-Aircraft projectiles, aberrations on the film due to motion, reflections, decay of the film itself, or any of a number of things. If there was something up there, it certainly was unidentified, and according to some reports, these crafts were not like anything known to be in use at the time. But, as we have noted, the eyewitnesses themselves did not know what they had seen, and some witnesses although sure, never had their accounts verified.

Upon researching this story I happened upon the recollection of an article written for the Daily News by reporter Matt Weinstock. After the war he was talking to man who had served in one of those Army batteries and the gentleman recounted the following story.

"Early in the war things were pretty scary and the Army was setting up coastal defenses. At one of the new radar stations near Santa Monica, the crew tried in vain to arrange for some planes to fly by so that they could test the system. As no one could spare the planes at the time, they hit upon a novel way to test the radar. One of the guys bought a bag of nickel balloons and then filled them with hydrogen, attached metal wires, and let them go. Catching the offshore breeze, the balloons had the desired effect of showing up on the screens, proving the equipment was working. But after traveling a good distance offshore and to the south, the nightly onshore breeze started to push the balloons back towards the coastal cities. The coastal radar's picked up the metal wires and the searchlights swung automatically on the targets, looking on the screens as aircraft heading for the city. The ACK-ACK started firing and the rest was history."

3 posted on 12/08/2004 12:20:45 AM PST by SAMWolf (I was not CREATING a disturbance, I was improving one already there.)
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To: All

Here are the recommended holiday mailing dates for military mail this year:

For military mail addressed TO APO and FPO addresses, the mailing dates are:


For military mail FROM APO and FPO addresses, the mailing dates are:

Thanks for the information StayAtHomeMother

Veterans for Constitution Restoration is a non-profit, non-partisan educational and grassroots activist organization. The primary area of concern to all VetsCoR members is that our national and local educational systems fall short in teaching students and all American citizens the history and underlying principles on which our Constitutional republic-based system of self-government was founded. VetsCoR members are also very concerned that the Federal government long ago over-stepped its limited authority as clearly specified in the United States Constitution, as well as the Founding Fathers' supporting letters, essays, and other public documents.

Actively seeking volunteers to provide this valuable service to Veterans and their families.


The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul

Click on Hagar for
"The FReeper Foxhole Compiled List of Daily Threads"

4 posted on 12/08/2004 12:21:12 AM PST by SAMWolf (I was not CREATING a disturbance, I was improving one already there.)
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To: soldierette; shield; A Jovial Cad; Diva Betsy Ross; Americanwolf; CarolinaScout; Tax-chick; ...

"FALL IN" to the FReeper Foxhole!

Good Wednesday Morning Everyone.

If you want to be added to our ping list, let us know.

If you'd like to drop us a note you can write to:

The Foxhole
19093 S. Beavercreek Rd. #188
Oregon City, OR 97045

5 posted on 12/08/2004 12:25:00 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: SAMWolf

Here we go...year three! The pleasure has been all mine. ;-)

6 posted on 12/08/2004 12:25:42 AM PST by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: snippy_about_it
Good morning Snippy.

7 posted on 12/08/2004 1:54:54 AM PST by Aeronaut (May all the feckless become fecked.)
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To: snippy_about_it
Good morning, snippy and everyone at the Foxhole.

Today is Norton update day. Be sure to download them when they arrive.

8 posted on 12/08/2004 3:02:25 AM PST by E.G.C.
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To: snippy_about_it; All

Good morning

9 posted on 12/08/2004 3:12:23 AM PST by GailA (JESUS is the reason for the season)
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To: Valin; SAMWolf; snippy_about_it
As some people know. I turn my computer off around 5 PM CT and turn it on around 5 AM Ct. Everything bumped to me during that time is bumped the moment I turn it on.

Valin had a great suggestion about the artilce I talked about. To respond to it.

Well, the newspaper that published it only allows it's readers one letter every 45 days for publication and I already had one publised earlier this month.

But, Oklahoma is conservative country so there are plenty of people out there that I'm sure will respond to these jokers.:-D

10 posted on 12/08/2004 3:27:09 AM PST by E.G.C.
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To: SAMWolf
Thanks so much for this story.

My late grandparents gave me a piece of shrapnel that they said fell on their front lawn in Burbank, CA during the war. I never knew the story until now.

I still have the 4" x 1" piece of jagged metal tucked away in my dresser, and will print out your post to go with it.

11 posted on 12/08/2004 3:59:49 AM PST by snopercod (Bigger government means clinton won. Less freedom means Osama won. Get it?)
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To: snippy_about_it; SAMWolf; All

December 8, 2004

Bad News?

Read: Psalm 112:1-10

He will not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. —Psalm 112:7

Bible In One Year: Daniel 8-10; 3 John

Several years ago, before cell phones became common, a seminar leader asked the audience, "If someone came into this meeting, called your name, and said, 'You have a phone call,' would you assume that it was good news or bad news?" Most of us admitted we would think it was bad news, but we weren't sure why.

It points out a common burden many people carry—the fear of bad news. It may be a natural concern for the safety of those we love, but it can become an irrational dread of tragedy.

When we are most afraid, we most need confidence in God. Psalm 112 speaks of a person who fears the Lord, delights in His commandments, and is gracious to others (vv.1,4-5). But perhaps most striking is: "He will not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord" (v.7).

A hymn by Frances Havergal reminds us that a trusting heart is the answer for a worried mind: "Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest; finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest."

The Bible doesn't promise that we will never receive bad news. But it does assure us that we don't have to live each day in gnawing fear of what might happen. "His heart is established; he will not be afraid" (v.8). —David McCasland

Hidden in the hollow of His blessed hand,
Never foe can follow, never traitor stand;
Not a surge of worry, not a shade of care,
Not a blast of hurry touch the Spirit there. —Havergal

Faith in the living God can take the fear out of living.

12 posted on 12/08/2004 4:09:49 AM PST by The Mayor (If Jesus lives within us, sin need not overwhelm us.)
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To: snippy_about_it

I heard that it was about this time that the Rose Bowl game was moved from Pasadena to the east coast -- the only time in its history. If my memory is correct, it was Pres. F.D.R. who ordered this because of threats and fears of an attack.

13 posted on 12/08/2004 4:10:20 AM PST by Humal
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To: snippy_about_it; SAMWolf; All
Jack Illfrey Bump for the 3rd year Version of the Freeper Foxhole.

I thought I had a couple of pics of Jack Illfrey's P-38 named "Happy Jack's Go Buggy" but alas no luck. However I am glad to be able to sub this aptly named P-38 in it's place.


alfa6 ;>}

14 posted on 12/08/2004 4:44:00 AM PST by alfa6
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To: snippy_about_it; SAMWolf; Professional Engineer; PhilDragoo; Matthew Paul; The Mayor; Samwise; ...

Good morning everyone.

15 posted on 12/08/2004 6:10:40 AM PST by Soaring Feather
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To: snippy_about_it; bentfeather; Samwise; msdrby
Good morning ladies. Flag-o-gram.

El Heffe at the Army/Navy game.

16 posted on 12/08/2004 6:17:33 AM PST by Professional Engineer (Pulled up behind 'em, pulled out my pistol, and blew 'em away. ~ Chuck Brodsky, minstrel)
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To: SAMWolf

On This Day In History

Birthdates which occurred on December 08:
0065 BC Horace Rome, lyric poet/satirist (Satire, Odes)
1626 Christina, queen of Sweden who abdicated after becoming Catholic
1731 Frantisek Xaver Dusek, composer
1765 Eli Whitney (inventor: cotton gin and uniformity method of musket manufacturing: beginning of mass production)
1828 Clinton Bowen Fisk Bvt Major General (Union volunteers), died in 1890
1828 Robert Bullock Brig General (Confederate Army), died in 1905
1861 William Crapo Durant founded General Motors
1861 Aristide Maillol, France, painter/sculptor (Seated Woman)
1865 Jean Sibelius, Tavastehus Finland, composer (Valse Triste, Finlandia)
1879 Paul Klee, Swiss/German painter/tutor (Bauhaus)
1886 Diego Rivera, Mexico, painter
1894 James Thurber (writer: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, My World and Welcome to It, The Last Flower, Is Sex Necessary?)
1899 James "Pigmeat" Jarrett pianist
1899 Sarah Williamson US missionary in Liberia
1925 Hank (Henry) Thompson (baseball)
1925 Jimmy Smith (modern jazz organist: Walk on the Wild Side)
1925 Sammy Davis Jr. (entertainer, singer: The Candy Man, What Kind of Fool Am I, Faraway Places; member: The Rat Pack)
1930 Flip (Clerow) Wilson (comedian: The Flip Wilson Show: Geraldine: "The Devil Made Me Do It!")
1930 Maximilian Schell (Academy Award-winning actor: Judgment at Nuremberg [1961]; The Odessa File)
1936 David Carradine (actor: Kung Fu; acting family: son of John, brother of Keith and Robert)
1937 James MacArthur (actor: Hawaii Five-O: Dano of "Book 'em, Dano"; son of Helen Hayes)
1939 James Galway, Belfast Ireland, flutist (18k gold flute, Royal Phil)
1939 Jerry Butler (singer: For Your Precious Love, He Will Break Your Heart, Only the Strong Survive, group: The Impressions)
1943 Jim Morrison ('The Lizard King': singer: group: The Doors: Light My Fire, Love Her Madly, Riders on the Storm)
1947 Gregg Allman (musician: keyboards, guitar, vocal: group: Allman Brothers: Ramblin' Man; Cher's ex)
1953 Kim Basinger (actress)
1964 Teri Hatcher Sunnyvale CA, actress (Lois Lane-Lois & Clark)

Deaths which occurred on December 08:
0644 Omar I, 2nd kalif of Islam, murdered
1292 John Peckham English archbishop of Canterbury, dies at 62
1587 Mary, Queen of Scots (1560-1587), executed
1596 Luis de Carabajal, 1st Jewish author in America, executed in Mexico
1643 John Pym, English House of Commons member, dies at about 59
1709 Thomas Corneille, French dramatist, dies at 74
1785 Antonio Maria Mazzoni, composer, dies at 68
1831 James Hoban architect who designed White House, dies
1907 Oscar II Frederick King of Sweden (-1907)/Norway (-1905), dies
1978 Golda Meir, Israel's PM (1969-74), dies in Jerusalem at 80
1980 John Lennon, assassinated in NY by Mark David Chapman at 40 [H]
1982 Marty Robbins country singer, dies at 57
1992 William Shawn, US editor-in-chief (New Yorker, 1952-87), dies at 85
1993 Carlotta Monti, lover of WC Fields, dies at 86
1994 Antonio Carlos Jobim, Brazil composer (Girl From Ipanema), dies at 67
1997 Leon Poliakov, historian, dies at 87
1997 Bob Bell clown (WGN's 1st Bozo), dies at 75



POW / MIA Data & Bios supplied by
the P.O.W. NETWORK. Skidmore, MO. USA.

On this day...
1660 The first Shakespearian actress to appear on an English stage (she is believed to be a Ms. Norris) makes her debut as Desdemona.
1710 Battle at Brihuega: English General Stanhope captured
1776 George Washington's retreating army crosses Delaware River from New Jersey
1777 Captain Cook leaves Society Islands
1792 1st cremation in US, Henry Laurens
1813 Ludwig von Beethoven's 7th Symphony in A, premieres
1846 Hector Berlioz's "La Damnation de Faust" premieres
1849 Giuseppe Verdi's opera "Luisa Miller" premieres in Naples
1854 Pope Pius IX proclaims Immaculate Conception, makes Mary, free of Original Sin
1857 1st production of Dion Boucicaults "Poor of New York"
1861 CSS Sumter captures the whaler Eben Dodge in the Atlantic. The American Civil War is now affecting the Northern whaling industry.
1863 Abraham Lincoln announces plan for Reconstruction of South
1863 Pres Lincoln offers amnesty for confederate deserters
1863 Jesuit Church of La Compana in Santiago Chile catches fire, 2,500 die in panic
1864 Pope Pius IX publishes encyclical Quanta cura ("Syllabus errorum")
1869 20th Roman Catholic ecumenical council, Vatican I, opens in Rome
1874 Jesse James gang takes train at Muncie KS
1876 Suriname begins compulsory education for 7-12 years
1880 5,000 armed Boers gather in Paardekraal South-Africa
1881 Vienna's Ring Theater destroyed by fire, kills between 640-850
1886 American Federation of Labor (AFL) formed by 26 craft unions; Samuel Gompers elected AFL president
1895 Battle at Amba Alagi: Ethiopian emperor Menelik II drives Italian General Baratieri's out
1896 Start of Sherlock Holmes "Adventure of Missing 3 Quarter" (BG)
1902 Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr became Associate Justice on Supreme Court
1909 Bird banding society found
1913 Construction starts on Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco
1914 British & German fleets battle at Falkland Island
1914 Connie Mack sells Eddie Collins to the White Sox
1914 Irving Berlin's musical "Watch your Step" premieres in New York NY
1915 Jean Sibelius' 5th Symphony in E, premieres
1921 Eamon de Valera publicly repudiates Anglo-Irish Treaty
1923 German-US friendship treaty signed
1923 Labour/Liberals win British parliament
1923 Salary & price freeze in Germany
1931 Coaxial cable patented
1934 Friedrich Wolf's "Professor Mamlock" premieres in Zürich
1936 NAACP files suit to equalize the salaries of black & white teachers
1936 Anastasio Somoza elected President of Nicaragua
1938 LP Beria follows Nikolai Jezjov as head of Russian secret police
1941 San Francisco 1st blackout, at 6 15 PM
1941 Extermination Camp Chelmo opens
1941 London: Dutch government declares Japan the war
1941 Russian 16th army recaptures Krijukovo
1941 US & Britain declare war on Japan, US enters WWII
1942 8th Heisman Trophy Award: Frank Sinkwich, Georgia (HB)
1943 U.S. carrier-based planes sink two cruisers and down 72 planes in the Marshall Islands.
1946 Army rocket plane XS-1 makes 1st powered flight
1947 "Caribbean Carnival" opens at International Theater NYC for 11 performances
1948 14th Heisman Trophy Award: Doak Walker, SMU (HB)
1948 Jordan annexs Arabic Palestine
1949 Chinese Nationalist government moves from Chinese mainland to Formosa
1949 Jule Styne's "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" premieres at Ziegfeld Theater NYC for 740 performances
1951 "Tree Grows in Brooklyn" closes at Alvin Theater NYC after 267 performances
1951 American League alters its restrictions on night games, adopting National League's suspended game rule & lifting its ban on lights for Sunday games
1952 1st TV acknowledgement of pregnancy (I Love Lucy)
1952 French troops shoot on demonstrators at Casablanca, 50 die
1952 Isaak Ben-Zwi elected President of Israel
1953 19th Heisman Trophy Award: John Lattner, Notre Dame (HB)
1954 Maxwell Anderson's "Bad Seed" premieres in New York NY
1954 WPTZ TV channel 5 in Plattsburgh NY (NBC) begins broadcasting
1955 Brooklyn catcher Roy Campanella wins his 3rd MVP Award
1955 Turkish government of Menderes forms
1956 1st test firing of the Vanguard satellite program, TV-0
1956 Guy Mitchell's "Singing the Blues" single goes #1 for 10 weeks
1956 16th Olympic games close in Melbourne, Australia
1959 Dom Mintoff demands independence for Malta
1959 President Eisenhower watches Pakistan vs Australia Test Cricket at Karachi
1960 Expansion Los Angeles Angels sign a 4 year lease to use Dodger Stadium
1961 Larry Costello scores 32 consecutive points without a miss (NBA record)
1961 Antwerp Belgium diocese forms
1961 Wilt Chamberlain scores the 2nd highest total in the NBA - 78
1962 114-day newspaper strike begins in New York NY
1962 "I Can Get It For You Wholesale" closes at Shubert NYC after 300 performances
1962 Failed coup in Brunei
1962 Funeral for Queen Wilhelmina of Holland (New Kerk, Delft)
1963 3 fuel tanks explodes when jetliner is struck by lightning crashing near Elkton MD-Only case of lightning caused crash, 81 die
1963 Mickey Wright/Dave Ragan Jr win LPGA Haig & Haig Scotch Mixed Golf
1965 Abe Burrows' "Cactus Flower" premieres in New York NY
1965 Nikolai Podgorny succeeds Mikojan as President of USSR
1965 Pope Paul VI signs 2nd Vatican council
1966 Yankee's trade, Roger Maris for Card's Charlie Smith
1966 US & USSR sign treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons in outer space
1967 Beatles "Magical Mystery Tour" album is released in UK
1967 NHL California Seals change name to Oakland Seals
1969 Greek DC-6B crashes in storm at Athens, 93 killed
1969 Police surprise attack on Black-Panthers in Los Angeles
1972 United Airlines airplane crashes at Chicago's Midway Airport killing 45
1973 "Seesaw" closes at Uris Theater NYC after 296 performances
1973 39th Heisman Trophy Award: John Cappelletti, Penn State (RB)
1974 Soyuz 16 returns to Earth
1974 Greek monarchy rejected by referendum
1974 Irish Republican Socialist Party forms
1974 Sandra Post wins LPGA Colgate Far East Golf Open
1975 "Raisin" closes at 46th St Theater NYC after 847 performances
1976 UN General Assembly re-elects Kurt Waldheim Secretary-General (Another great moment of moral clarity)
1976 US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site
1977 43rd Heisman Trophy Award: Earl Campbell, Texas (RB)
1977 Portugal's premier Soares resigns
1980 "Bravo" network premieres on cable TV
1981 France performs nuclear test
1982 Demanding an end to nuclear weapons, Norman Mayer, holds the Washington Monument hostage - After 10 hours, police kill him; he has no explosives
1982 "Herman Van Veen: All of Him" opens at Ambassador NYC for 6 performances
1982 Suriname army leader Bouterse murders 15 opponents
1983 9th Space Shuttle Mission-Columbia 6-lands at Edwards AFB
1983 Richard Baker, Zen teacher, steps down from abbotship of San Francisco Zen Center
1984 Ringo Starr appears on Saturday Night Live
1984 73rd Australian Men Tennis: Mats Wilander beats K Curren (67 64 76 62)
1984 Europe & 64 developing countries sign Lomé III treaty
1985 Ken O'Brien's 96 yard TD pass (New York Jet record) to Wesley Walker
1985 60th Australian Women's Tennis: M Navratilova beats C Evert (62 46 62)
1986 House Democrats select majority leader Jim Wright as 48th speaker
1987 Flyers' Ron Hextall becomes 1st goalie to actually score a goal
1987 Jack Sikma (Milwaukee) begins NBA free throw streak of 51 games
1987 "Occupied" Palestinians start "intefadeh" (uprising) against Israel
1987 President Reagan & Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev sign a treaty eliminating medium range nuclear missiles
1988 Knick's set NBA record of 11 3-pointers & sink Bucks, 113-109
1989 Great Britain performs nuclear test
1990 Galileo Earth-1 Flyby
1990 Indians agree to a lease new ballpark in Gateway (Jacobs Field)
1991 Russia, Byelorussia & Ukraine form Commonwealth of Independent States
1992 Galileo's nearest approach to Jupiter (303 km)
1992 NBC announces that "Cheers" will go off the air in May 1993
1993 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is signed into law by President Bill Clinton. NAFTA, a trade pact between the US, Canada, and Mexico.
1993 30 killed at religious rebellion in Algeria
1993 Storm hits West Europe, 11 killed in England
1994 Darryl Strawberry indicted on tax evasion charges
1994 Fire in cinema in Karamay China, 310 killed

Note: Some Holidays are only applicable on a given "day of the week"
World : Human Rights Week (Day 2)
Guam : Lady of Camarin Day
Japan : Enlightenment of the Buddha
Spain, Panamá, Canal Zone : Mother's Day
Spain : School Reunion Day
Uruguay : Beaches Day/Family Day
US : Christmas Card Day
Hi Neighbor Month

Religious Observances
Buddhist-Japan : Enlightenment of the Buddha
Roman Catholic : Solemnity of the Conception of the Virgin (Immaculate Conception)

Religious History
1775 Anglican clergyman and hymnwriter John Newton wrote in a letter: 'This is faith: a renouncing of everything we are apt to call our own and relying wholly upon the blood, righteousness and intercession of Jesus.'
1854 Pope Pius IX defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in his apostolic letter, "Ineffabilis Deus." It asserted that by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, Mary was freed from original sin "in the first instant of conception."
1907 Christmas seals were sold for the first time, to raise funds to fight tuberculosis. Today, Christmas seal income is used primarily in the fight against birth defects.
1962 The Rev. John Melville Burgess was consecrated as suffragan Bishop of Massachusetts -- the first African American bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church to serve a predominantly white diocese.
1981 In one of its major rulings regarding the issue of the separation of Church and State, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of student organizations holding religious services at public colleges and universities.

Source: William D. Blake. ALMANAC OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1987.

Thought for the day :
"Change is inevitable, except from vending machines."

Albums We Will Never Buy...
Barry Manilow: Original Gangsta

You Just Might Be A Scrooge...
If you give bathroom fixtures
as Christmas gifts
-- you just might be a Scrooge

Dictionary of the Absurd
The fear of warrior princesses

Famous Last Words...
Pull the pin and count to what?

17 posted on 12/08/2004 6:43:59 AM PST by Valin (Out Of My Mind; Back In Five Minutes)
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To: E.G.C.

Ah, but there is no time on the net.

18 posted on 12/08/2004 6:45:30 AM PST by Valin (Out Of My Mind; Back In Five Minutes)
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To: All

Prayer for a Freeper's Husband
Self | 12-07-04 | Brad's Gramma
Posted on 12/08/2004 12:09:35 AM CST by Brad's Gramma

Dear Freeper Friends, I would like to ask you for prayer for a fellow Freeper, fatima. Her husband had a heart attack yesterday, and I'm really sorry, but I don't have anything more than that.

Her little baby Granddaughter, Sara, is also in need of prayer. She's about 3 to 3-1/2 weeks old and has had to return to the hospital. She's had a spinal tap, a high fever and was tested for meningitis. Last I heard, she's not out yet.

fatima's got a PLATE full, to say the least! Any and ALL prayer for she and her family is coveted.

Thanks all!

19 posted on 12/08/2004 6:48:52 AM PST by Valin (Out Of My Mind; Back In Five Minutes)
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To: snippy_about_it; SAMWolf; All

Good morning! Falling in for a great read this morning. Fascinating thread - thanks so much!

I hope things are going well for you today.

20 posted on 12/08/2004 9:11:08 AM PST by Colonel_Flagg ("There's nothing more dangerous than a wounded mosquito." - Roy Spim, AKA Eric Idle)
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