Friday, November 20, 2015

Feeding the Hungry

Today we served the hungry population of Juneau.  But what's so cool is that it wasn't just Juneau we helped feed, but other communities in Southeast that rely on the services of the Southeast Alaska Food Bank.

This was the Radio Center's Annual Day of Sharing is Caring Food Drive.  They had two locations with a school bus to fill at the downtown location and this container van below at the valley location.

It started at 6:00 a.m.  Yes, a.m. when Lions Soapy Lingle and Mike Norton showed up at Super Bear for their early morning shift.
Lions Mike Norton and Soapy Lingle
For the next three hours they hustled unpacking donations and reloading in milk crates while I handed out bookmarks to customers coming into the grocery store.
Lions Mike Norton and Soapy Lingle
Lions Bob and Donna Hurley did their tour at the downtown Foodland IGA store where their presence helped sell pre-packaged donation bags for $10 or $20.
Lions Donna and Bob Hurley
To make sure we had both stores covered, Lion Tom Dawson did his tour at Super Bear in the afternoon.
Lion Ton Dawson
The day ended with Lion Mike Norton, President of the Mendenhall Flying Lions, and Lion Ted Burke, President of the Juneau Lions Club, in jail for an hour with the promise that if enough people donated nonperishable food items, they would be let out!  And they were.
Lion Ted Burke and Lion Mike Norton
We know there's a problem in Juneau and Southeast where too many people don't have enough to eat on any given day.   And it's only getting worse.  Hopefully, after today, the shelves of the Southeast Alaska Food Bank will be full and there will be plenty of food to go around for another day.

We Serve!
Lion Nancy Norton

Thursday, November 19, 2015

When a Memory is Worth 1,000 Words

The speech below was given by LCDR Richard Halbig, USN OIC - CPF MHLD DET AK, at the USS Juneau Memorial Service on Friday, November 13, 2015.  This is his memory of the day the USS Juneau went down. .  . .

Good Morning
I would like you to join me for a moment in using your imagination as I draw you a picture.  This picture or analogy will hopefully help you relate to the plight of the USS Juneau during the cruiser night action of November 13th 1942, 73 years ago.

One account of the action as noted from the beach by an American War correspondent “the action was illuminated in brief, blinding flashes by Jap searchlights which were shot out as soon as they were turned on, by muzzle flashes from big guns, by fantastic streams of tracers, and by huge orange-colored explosions as two Jap destroyers and one of our destroyers blew up…  From the beach it resembled a door to hell opening and closing… over and over.

Now, imagine yourself as one of 13 averaged sized men standing in a small bar.  Surrounding you in groups are 16 other men who are very angry.  10 of those men could rival the starting line of the Seattle Seahawks and their wearing pads.  Now, shutter the windows and kill the lights.  This just sets the scene.  Now start firing shot guns next to everyone’s ears while starting a strobe light with irregular flashes, just to confuse things a bit. 

Now the Leaders of both groups start yelling commands to fight those around them, only you can’t understand what is being said, nor can you hear most of the words.  You know your friends are being hurt badly or even killed, and that is about all you know.

You’ve been ordered to engage the enemy, But in the confusion, you don’t know friend from foe and now you’ve been punched in the gut and taken a glancing blow to the face. 

Your injured, Can barely hear, you’re alone in a sea of confusion, concussion and blinding flashes followed by intense darkness.

You are still in the scrum, and kicking and punching wildly, occasionally connecting, but you are unsure of the effects your blows have, and you know those you face are much bigger and stronger than you are, but you fight on courageously.

You move through the fighting over to someone slumped against the wall to find a friendly who is in even worse shape than you are.  He is bleeding from the eyes, nose, and ears.  His eyes are glassy, but he is still breathing raspy breaths.

The two of you hear a command to assemble at the front of the Bar (this in an effort to bring your 
13…….. I mean 9 remaining friends back together). 

You and your beaten (mortally wounded) comrade start limping through the scrum, which seems to have lessened in intensity.

Suddenly, from out of nowhere, you are struck savagely by an enemy wielding a Metal Bar.  You are hit with such force that you can hear your own skull crack which causes you to immediately spasm in uncontrollable death throws. 

As you fall, you lose touch, and truly don’t have any idea of the outcome of the fight you were just in. 

Now, let me tell you what the USS Juneau accomplished.

The battle of Guadalcanal is most often described as a land battle, but in reality, it was an air, land, and sea Campaign whose goal was the first roll back of the Japanese Empire since their major aggressions in the 1930’s and before.

Guadalcanal was the beginning of their contraction back to the Japanese Island Chain.
It was also the first major clash between the seasoned, experienced, and almost entirely successful Japanese Imperial Army and the mostly untested and inexperienced United States Marine Corps.
More than just the Marine Corps and Navy took part in the battle.  Members of all the services took part in the many battles of Guadalcanal.  In fact, Petty Officer Douglass Munro of the United States Coast Guard was awarded the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) for his actions during the Marine landings of September 24th.

In the night action I drew the allegory to a moment ago, the Japanese had 16-18 ships, 2 of which were Battleships; the others were heavy cruisers and destroyers

In contrast, we had 13 ships including 1 heavy cruiser, 4 light cruiser and 9 destroyers.  (we were outnumbered and heavily outclassed).  – As such 6 of our ships died, and 6 others took heavy to severe damage.

We gave as well as we took though.  Our smaller, meager force did wound the enemy.  We sunk 7 of their ships including one of their Battleships (an Enormous dreadnought of the sea).  We also heavily damaged 3 other ships.

The numbers though do not tell the entire story.  The true outcome of the battle was the decision made by the Japanese leader after the night actions.  The Japanese withdrew their Naval forces from the Guadalcanal area that day, which prevented them from accomplishing their mission –To bombard Henderson Air Field and to land 7,000 troops along with their supplies and heavy equipment Reinforcing the troops already on the island.

This delayed the Japanese on the island from attacking (for days) until they could reinforce.  This allowed United States Marine Corps General Vandergrift to strengthen his tenuous hold at Lunga Point and defend against the Attacks that did come a few days later.

ALL Battles, Campaigns and Wars are won due to many variables.  TIME is always among those important variables, and that is what the USS Juneau bought with its blood and the lives of her sailors.

-Of her crew of 697, only 10 would ever know of the success her sacrifice purchased.  Those 10 were pulled from the water 8 days after their ship had died.
-The 687 men who died on the USS Juneau were among the 5 Thousand US Navy and Coast Guardsmen and the 4 Thousand 3 Hundred US Army and Marine Corps casualties of the battles of Guadalcanal.

Please join me in a moment of silence to honor our fallen comrades from the ship that bears the name of this great City.

LCDR Richard Halbig, USN

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sharing is Caring

I am happy to say I've never been in jail.  Phew!  Now with that off my chest, I do have to say that my husband may not be so lucky....

I never thought I'd be saying this but, Friday at 4:00 p.m., my husband, Michael Norton, President of the MendenhallFlying Lions will be going to Jail.... His partner in crime, Ted Burke, President of the Juneau Lions, will be locked up with him!

They will be locked up at Foodland IGA for one hour trying to raise enough nonperishable foods to get bailed out in support of the Radio Center's Day of Sharing is Caring program.  All donations will be given to the Southeast Alaska Food Bank.  

Please help bail them out with a donation. Or.... not.... With a large enough donation you might be able to bribe the guard NOT to let them out at the hour. Hmmmm.... Decisions decisions....

Okay, so this isn't going to be such a bad thing!  It's for a good cause after all!  The Radio Center will have two school busses on-site at Foodland IGA and Super Bear IGA in the valley to fill!  Last year they collected 23,000 POUNDS of donations!  Let's see if we can do better this year!

We Serve!
Lion Nancy Norton

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

USS Juneau Remembrance Ceremony

It was a blustery day in Juneau.  The winds were blowing and the rain steady.  Rain was running down the faces of those who attended.  But it didn't stop members of the Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, National Guard, Veteran organizations, veterans, and others. . . who felt the pain. . . from showing up to give their respect to 697 fallen sailors.

On November 13, 1942, in the middle of World War II and the Battle of Guadalcanal, the USS Juneau CL-52 was sunk.

On November 13, 2015, the Mendenhall Flying Lions Club hosted a memorial service for the 697 men who died during the Battle of Guadalcanal.

Lion Donna Hurley has been involved in the CL-52 for almost 30 years, but more about that in a future post.  This remembrance service was something she needed to do, to honor all those souls lost so many years ago.

When the program was finalized, Randy Wanamaker (Vice Chair of Goldbelt, Inc.) was the Master of Ceremonies.  Invocation was by LCDR Ray Rivers, U.S. Navy Chaplain.  Mayor Greg Fisk gave the Remembrance Proclamation.  And history of the Battle of Guadalcanal was given by LCDR Rich Halbig

Wreaths were placed by American Legion Post #25, VFW Post #5559, Alaska Native Veterans, WWII Veteran/Air Force, and Lion Tom Dawson, Vietnam Veteran/Navy Aviation Rang the Bell.

It was a short ceremony but respectfully honored those lost souls.  At the end of the memorial service, guests were invited to a reception sponsored by Goldbelt Inc. and Goldbelt Mt. Roberts Tram.

Dear Lord, I’m just a sailor
A protector of our land,
A servant called to battle
When my country takes a stand.
I pray for strength and courage
And a heart that will forgive.
For peace and understanding
In a world for all to live.
My family’s prayers are with me,
No matter where I roam.
Please listen when I’m lonely
And return me safely home.


Lion Donna Hurley explains the pearls:  One pearl for each fallen sailor:  697 Officers and Crew

14 total survived - 4 by transfer to another ship and 10 rescued.  683 perished, 15 of those in the first strike during the battle, 503 died when the ship exploded and sank, 150-180 survived the blast and all but 10 died in the water. 

The long string represents officers and crew that died due to sinking, the shorter string represents the ones left adrift in the water for 8 days.  

The shortest string are the 14 who survived either by transfer (silver beads) or by the grace of GOD (10 pearls).  

The Lions motto is, "We Serve."  But it was the men who fought at the Battle of Guadalcanal on November 13, 1942, who served.  They served for their family and friends.  They served for their country. They served with their lives.  In memory of....

Lion Nancy Norton

Sunday, November 8, 2015

20th Annual Barbecue Fundraiser

How many family, friends, and co-workers do you know who have diabetes or pre-diabetes?  
How many children?  
Randy of Randy's Rib Shack
 Did you know that according to the 2014 census, over 3,400 people in Juneau live with diabetes and 12,000 more have pre-diabetes and some are unaware they do.  

The Mendenhall Flying Lions Club has been fighting the fight for 20 years now with our annual barbecue fundraiser.  With this year's total we have raised and donated over $157,000 to the Alaska Diabetes Association (ADA) to support their fight.  

ADA provides materials to support hospitals, clinics, and health fairs and the education and referral services to patients, health care providers and families in Southeast Alaska.  

Funds raised also help send children with diabetes to Camp K, located on Kenai Lake, where they will have a healthy diet, have medical attention, and learn how to manage their diabetes.  

We start with 300 pounds of pork ribs that are donated by Teddy's Tasty Meats of Anchorage to the Alaska  Diabetes Association who, in turn, donate them to us.  
This year Randy, of Randy's Rib Shack, donated his time, grill, and expertise and smoked the ribs to perfection on a Traeger grill.  And that barbecue sauce is to die for!  

McGivney's Sports Bar donated their facility and their wait staff for the duration of our fundraiser.  For five hours, the bar is ours and for that we are deeply grateful.  

Other establishments in town donate as well -- Super Bear, the Brewery, and Food Services of America.
The Juneau Empire generously donates a week of free advertising for us.

At zero hour, Lions come out in force and bring their family and friends to help.  

For five hours, we have an opportunity to thank each and every person who has chosen to support us on this day with our fundraiser.  And that's a good thing.  

Thank you, Juneau, for your continued support!

We Serve!