Profile - The CAF Red Tail Project

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South St. Paul, MN, United States
The mission of the Commemorative Air Force's (CAF) Red Tail Squadron is to preserve and share the history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, America's first black military pilots. The Airmen served with distinction during WWII (and beyond). They overcame racism on the ground to fight fascism in the air, fighting for a country that turned a blind eye to policies and a large population that discriminated against these men and their families because of the color of their skin. The CAF Red Tail Squadron restored and flies a red-tailed P-51C Mustang such as the Airmen flew during WWII. The airplane appears at air shows in North America and at each stop her crew tells the story of the Airmen and how through persistence and courage they overcame huge obstacles in order to serve in the military. In 2011, the CAF Red Tail Squadron developed a traveling exhibit called "RISE ABOVE" to educate people - especially young people - about the Airmen and how they demonstrated the importance of setting goals and overcoming obstacles in order to succeed.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Moving Into A New Year

     The end of 2012 is upon us!  Counting today, there are only four days left to put those New Year's resolutions from last January to bed! 
     A new year often mean new changes.  I personally am in the process of moving back to Minnesota from Florida.  When I moved down there "temporarily" in November of last year, it was thought Mike and I would be back in Minnesota by this past summer.  However, God didn't see fit to call Mike's ailing mother home until this September, after 22 months of being eligible for hospice assistance. 
      While there, I learned to live with extreme heat and high dew points, and the biggest spiders I've ever seen in my life (thankfully, each one I found in the house was dead but still...).  The lizards that lived in the front shrubbery were entertaining and harmless.  The Halifax river was four houses to the west and the Atlantic was a block to the east.  The golf courses beckoned more often than we could take advantage.  Best of all, Mike and I learned to appreciate and support each other in our jobs - his as sole 24-hour caregiver for his mother and me as a writer for business.
      Because of my extended stay, except for short visits my town home in Minnesota has been empty for 13 months.  The longest I was "home" during that time was six days - and then I indulged in hanging out with the family and friends I missed so much.  As a result of that indulgence I'm now dealing with many months' worth of household accumulation and dust (a biggie).  On top of that, I'll be hoeing and throwing my stuff and clothing to make room for Mike's stuff and clothing.  (Writing this blog is a welcome break!)
      While I knew that this change was coming, somehow it snuck up on both of us and moderate panic set in when we looked at the calendar last week. Since Mike's mother's house has been sold, we needed to get more of his stuff out of the house and up here by closing on January 7th.  [You may recall we already took one road trip up here over Thanksgiving, hauling a trailer full of more stuff and furniture.] 
     So, at about noon on Christmas Day, Mike and I arrived in Minnesota from Florida with another load of household items and small-ish furniture.  It was a long 2.5 days but we did well, logging more than 650 miles each of the first two days. He drove our new (to us) big Tahoe and I drove my 14-year-old RAV4; both were loaded to the max.  This trip was interesting from a number of perspectives.  Perhaps you can relate to some of them if you've ever done cross-country driving:
  1.  It's hit or miss when it comes to friendly clerks at gas stations.  Ditto clean restrooms.  State rest areas rock.  Perkins restaurants are very busy on Christmas Eve. 
  2. There are a good number of grass airfields near small towns, some near to the interstate system.  I was driving - not riding - so I couldn't spend a lot of time looking but the ones I spotted were mown and had wind socks.  I'd love to see what sort of aircraft used those wavy runways. 
  3. People have different ways of treating their domestic animals and livestock.  On state highways in Kentucky, southern Indiana and mid-state Illinois, we saw horses and cattle/cows in wonderful condition, with plenty of round bales of hay, good-looking pasturage, and access to water and shelter.  We saw dogs playing with their owners, all having a good time.  Unfortunately, we also saw malnourished horses with no shelter and skinny cattle scavenging for corn in harvested fields.  A number of dogs were chained up away from the house - such a sad situation for these pack-loving animals. Seeing this was particularly disturbing because winter storm "Euclid" was only 24 hours away from hitting that part of the country with cold and snow which meant food would be covered and hides/fur/hair would be wet and very cold.  
  4. The Canadian geese were moving south by the hundreds over Wisconsin on Christmas Day.  They may be driven by instinct but as the air got colder and colder outside, their flight seemed pretty smart to me!
  5. If you are doing the caravan thing with two vehicles and one has 8 cylinders and the other 4, dealing with interstate traffic can be interesting, to say the least.  We found we had to work almost constantly to keep each other within sight of each other.  It helped that the Tahoe was tall and my RAV had a tire on the back as identifiers.
  6. I had the satisfaction of being able to drive by the "Rantoul" exit on I74 in Illinois knowing I'd actually visited the Octave Chanute Aviation Museum there already this year.  I'd passed that sign at least 11 times in the past five years and always told myself I'd stop and this was the year it got done.  There are so many places to see that are aviation-related in this country!   
  7. Surprising someone dear to you on a holiday like Christmas (or any time, come to think of it) is a treat in itself.  Neither my son or daughter had any idea we'd be knocking at the door Christmas afternoon.   Doing things spur of the moment - even if they are born of necessity - often has its own rewards.
     In 2013, I'm looking forward to being back at my home computer, typing away while sitting at my father's old keyhole desk.  We'll put Mike's antique secretary desk in the office with me so he can listen to me growl when my fingers run amok and I can listen to him groan when he reads the political commentary online.  
     I hope that whatever you have planned for 2013 comes to pass as you'd like and that the surprises (and you know there will be some of those) will be mostly pleasant.  Remember that the unpleasant surprises will help build character (at least that's what my mother said...). 
     Be sure to check our 2013 online event calendar to see where the Squadron will be sending its RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit and Mustang (once it gets its new engine).  Our first dates in February are already noted!  It's gonna be a great year!

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