• Two Shelby County men are still reflecting upon a week they spent in Alaska last month – not on vacation, but as part of a volunteer effort to build a church there.

    This was the third time that Bob Walters and Bob Perkins have participated in a project with Samaritan’s Purse, a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization that provides spiritual and physical aid to people around the world.

    The experience was much more than just helping to construct a building and parsonage for the Moravian Church in Togiak, Alaska, they both agreed.

  • March 12, 1941

  • Norma Bailey is celebrating more than her birthday today – she’s celebrating life. 

    Two years after having a double mastectomy, she has bounced back stronger than ever, but says she couldn’t have done it without her awesome support system of her husband and six kids, four of which are adopted.  She knew something was wrong in the spring of 2014, she said, when she felt a burning pain in her chest that wouldn’t go away, and when she went to have it checked out, she got the news that every women fear: breast cancer. 

  • September 17, 1939

  • My last column constituted a diversion from the series based on my Marine Corps Journals. It described the harrowing experiences endured by a young marine who was crammed with other prisoners of war in the hold of a Japanese freighter. Despite this unimaginable stress, he survived and possessed the strength of character to live a full and productive life.

    Now I return to the routine barracks life in the Marine Corps in 1939, on the cusp of World War II.

  • Prison Interlude

    Alton Halbrook, a Marine enlisted man from Texas, reported to the Marine Barracks to serve in Artillery at about the about the same time in 1939 that I arrived to serve in the Infantry. In 1940, he was sent to Shanghai where he joined the 4th Marine Regiment, and later to the Philippines, where, in May 1942 he was one of thousands of prisoners interned by the Japanese.

  • March 4, 1939

  • As Louisiana fights through the worst floods it’s seen since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, those providing supplies and help to dry the state out are lining up.

    But one group in Shelby County is still helping from the last catastrophic flooding through that region.

    Displaced by Hurricane Katrina when the storm devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005, Taffy is still waiting patiently at the Shelby County Humane Society for a new family – her eyes a warm brown, her tail wagging hopefully every time a family walks by her kennel.

  • September 26, 1938

    War Seems Inevitable

    And now for a little timely news. Hitler’s attempts to take over Sudeten German part of Czechoslovakia have resulted in European unrest, unequaled since the war. If Hitler is appeased now, he will no doubt want more later. I am sure only memories of the last war have saved Europe from another war at the present time.1938

  • Aug 24, 1938

    Since this has been a typical example of a long but not strenuous day, I shall give a résumé of it.

    0340 Awakened

    0350 Relieved watch as JOOD [Junior Officer of the Deck]

    0750 Relieved from watch after having paced some miles on the quarterdeck.

  • Personal Note: When my first column appeared in The Sentinel-News on April 27, 2007, I had no expectation that nearly ten years later, at the age of 100, I would be writing my 183rd column.

    June 27, 1938

    [At Secondary Battery Gunnery School on board USS Nevada (a 2-month course) and having spent only a weekend aboard USS Tennessee, I took a boat on June 20, 1938 to the USS Nevada another battleship, to attend the two-month Secondary Battery Gunnery School. Here I joined a number of ensigns and 2nd lieutenants, new to the Fleet.

  • Tribute to the U. S. Navy

    Eternal Father, strong to save,

    Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,

    Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep

    Its own appointed limits keep;

    Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,

    For those in peril on the sea!

    --The “Navy Hymn” sung at the U.S. Naval Academy

    As I reach the date in my Journal that records my reporting aboard the Battleship USS Tennessee (BB-43), it seems appropriate to pay Tribute to the U.S. Navy.

  • [On May 24,1938, immediately after graduation from Basic School, a short ceremony lasting only a few minutes, I departed for my next duty station, USS Tennessee (BB43), a battleship based off San Pedro, California. I travelled with a classmate by auto as far as St. Louis. There I took the train to Portland, Oregon where my parents met me for the drive to their home, about 50 miles to the north, in Longview Washington,. In order to save travel expenses I had taken a coach rather than a Pullman sleeping car.

  • April 14, 1938

    Those of us who are going to the West coast received the best break of our school year when Col. Jackson said today that we will get overland transportation at 8 cents a mile. The transport San Miquel is loaded with Army men I imagine. That extra $170 will come in mighty handy.

    April 16, 1938

    Boston: Pel Withers and I left Phila [Philadelphia] 4 p.m., arrived Boston 1:30 a.m.

  • Randall Stivers took a long drink of his Powerade Zero while pondering the question just put to him – How did he maintain the willpower to loss a third of his body weight in less than a year? 

    “Life,” he said simply, his eyes – usually full of laughter – candid and somber.  “I wanted to live. I wanted to be there for my kids. I don’t want to go back there – I don’t want to go down that path again.” 

  • March 21, 1938

    Some recent quotations from Puller in his Small Wars Course –

    “It’s no more trouble to carry a rifle than it is a swagger stick.”

    “Don’t overload with provisions. When you run out of food turn back. Two days without food won’t hurt you.”

    “Get up with the leading element of your patrol. Your life is no more valuable to you than an enlisted man’s is to him.”

  • Children can tug at your heartstrings, especially when they are in need.

    Uganda, located along the equator in eastern Africa, is home to 2.3 million orphans, and two women – a mother and daughter from Shelbyville – are doing what they can to provide for a small fraction of them.

    After a trip to Uganda last year, Hannah Jones and her mother, Linda Jones, came back home determined to make a dream come true for some children in a village near Jinja, 54 miles east of the capitol city of Kampala.

  • February 20, 1938

    After the last class on Friday, I left with A. J. Stuart on my way to N.Y. It was a beautiful day. We took the skyline route to the Holland Tunnel, under the Hudson to N.Y. “Jeb” drove up Riverside Drive on his way to Boston, letting me off at about 50th St. There at seven P.M. I landed in the Big City. I took a bus to Broadway and walked down that famous street to Times Square. I was certainly not disappointed at the electric signs there. It was as light as day on the great white way. Had my first glimpse of the famous Wrigley sign.

  • Note: For original hand-written Journal, see the Ronald. R. Van Stockum Papers, The Filson Historical Society. Throughout this series, actual Journal entries will appear in regular type, with my explanations or amplifications in bold enclosed in brackets.

    December 4, 1937

  • All the talk of a contested Republican convention reminds me of my experiences at the fringe of the 1976 primary campaign. In that year, I was Chairman of the Louisville Armed Forces Committee, whose primary mission was to organize Louisville’s Annual Armed Forces Banquet, scheduled that year for May 14. As this was to be the Committee’s Fiftieth Banquet, the first having been addressed by Gen. Pershing in 1919, I thought seeking President Gerald Ford to be our guest of honor would be appropriate.