The view from my perch on the mountain

Archive for May, 2011

In Line for the Buffet

Before today’s oppressive heat and humidity drove me indoors I managed to catch this pair of House Finches perched on the shed roof, patiently waiting for a space at one of the feeders in Burd Town.





If the weather guessers have it right it looks like my outdoor photography will be restricted to early morning or late afternoon until the middle of next month as an unusually early heat wave bears down on us. Summer’s oppressive heat and humidity aggravate my COPD so I’ll most likely be stuck indoors for most of the upcoming days.

At least I’ll have plenty of time to read and catch up on blogs!

Man, I can’t wait to get back home and out on the beach I grew up on! Getting back to that stretch of sand is always therapeutic for body and soul. The tang of salt on the sea breeze, gentle hiss or thundering roar depending on the size of the waves coming in and the feel of sand between my toes mean so much more to me now that I have to drive 325 miles to experience them instead of just walking over the crest of a sand dune. Only two weeks to go!

Duty, Honor, Country

Monday is Memorial Day here in the United States, a day we pause to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our nation. This is a poignant day for our family which has a long tradition of military service, especially on my mother’s side. She traces her roots back to one of the Pilgrims on theMayflower which brought the settlers to Plimoth Plantation in the Massachusetts Colony in 1620. Among Mom’s distant relatives are many famous patriots, including Paul Revere and Samuel Chase, and 2 presidents, John Adams and John Quincy Adams.

During the Indian uprising known as King Philip’s War one of Mom’s ancestors was the first member of our family to die in the defense of this nation even before it became a nation. Many more have followed including one of my father’s  relatives who died from wounds suffered at the Battle of Shiloh in the American Civil War.

Frankie’s family also has a long tradition of military service. Unfortunately like many in rural America the family history was recorded in the family bible. The whereabouts of that treasured history of Frankie’s family as well, as my father’s, is unknown. What is known was handed down by word of mouth. We know that Frankie’s of Scots-Irish descent, her grandfather fought in theSpanish American War and her step-father was wounded at Anzio in World War II. She can remember her grandfather telling of seeing Union occupation troops patrolling Wytheville during Reconstruction. Beyond that little is known.

The following photos are of but a small fraction of our honored veterans.

Ark B Allen

My grandpa Allen, for whom I am named, served as a US Army “Doughboy” with the American Expeditionary Forces in France during World War I.

Margaret Clark

Mom served in the US Navy as a Hospital Corpsman X-Ray Technician During World War II and the Korean Conflict. She was a member of the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). That’s her in “Boot Camp” in 1944.

Margaret & Arnold Allen

This is Mom and Dad on their wedding day in 1953. They met when they were both stationed at the Naval hospital in Bethesda, Maryland.

This shot of my dad (below) was an official Navy photo made just before he retired in 1968 as a Chief Petty Officer after 26 years service. A veteran of World War II, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam and numerous “brushfire wars” and conflicts around the world Dad was Old Navy, also known as the Rocks and Shoals Navy.

In those days Chiefs ran the Navy. If a Chief issued an order and a subordinate didn’t like it the matter was settled out of uniform with bare knuckles on the “fantail” or stern of the ship where there were no officers to witness the proceedings. If the sailor won he got to do as he pleased. It was a rare occasion when a Chief’s orders weren’t carried out and every Chief I knew growing up had scarred knuckles and a beer belly. Dad was no exception. He was a hard charging, hard drinking sailor man.

Arnold R AllenDad passed away at the age of 79 on July 4, 2003. I think it was fitting that a man who devoted a third of his life to the service and defense of his nation should go to his reward on the anniversary of his nation’s birth.

Arnold Ray Allen CSC, US Navy (ret)

1 December 1923- 4 July 2003

Fair winds and following seas, Chief

Home is the sailor, home from the sea, and the hunter home from the hill.”

Bob Allen

Two of dad’s brother’s, Bob (above) and Paul (below,on the  left), followed him into the Navy and each retired with over 20 years service. The photo of Uncle Bob was taken when he was on liberty while stationed aboard the USS Wasp in World War II. Uncle Paul was too young for WWII but served on the USS Iowa during the Korean conflict and the shot below was taken aboard the USS New London County in Vietnam.

Paul Allen


Putnam Clark

Mom’s brother, Putnam, was a US Army helicopter mechanic as was their brother David.

George Currier

Her cousins, George Currier (above) and Herbert Lord (below) served in the US Army during World War II. George is a direct descendant of the famous American lithographer Nathaniel Currier, partner of James Merritt Ives, better known as the Currier & Ives f====irmame.


Chip in uniform

That’s me, 19 years old,  in my“crew blues” on the first day of Combat Crew Upgrade training while assigned to the 308th Strategic Missile Wing, a component of the Strategic Air Command, at Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville, Arkansas.Within 6 months of that shot I had a “pocket rocket”  or Missileer’s Badge on my left breast pocket and 2 more stripes on my sleeve. I served a tour on a 4 man Missile Combat Crew in the Titan II Intercontinental Ballistic Missile system. Yes, I was one of the men manning the silos waiting for Jimmy Carter to “push the button” if World War III were to break out.


Pocket Rocket

After growing up a Navy brat with Mom, Dad and 2 uncles in the Navy, living in Navy towns all my life and being surrounded by sailors for as long as I could remember, to say Dad was upset when he learned that I had enlisted in the USAF to avoid being drafted into the Army and sent to Vietnam as a grunt is a monumental understatement. It was almost a year before he would even speak to me!

After 5 years in the regular USAF I transferred into the USAF Reserves where I cross trained and served as a Pararescueman for the next 9 years, much of it on active duty just like the regular “blue suiters”. I can’t go into a lot of detail about my days as a “PJ” but suffice it to say that we were no “weekend warriors”.


Pararescue Badge

This is just a small fragment of my family’s military service but it’s all I have access to at the moment. my sister, Sharon, is the family genealogy whizz. We’ve lost touch over the years but if she’s still blogging you can be sure she’ll have much more detail and dozens of photos.