IN REMEMBRANCE: 2-28-2010

MYRA MCDANIEL, FIRST BLACK TEXAS SECRETARY OF STATE

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Feb. 26, 2010, 4:05PM

AUSTIN — Myra McDaniel, the first black to be appointed Texas secretary of state, has died at age 77.

McDaniel’s husband, Reuben McDaniel Jr., says she died Thursday morning at their Austin home after a battle with lung cancer. He said she had been working part time as a lawyer for the Austin firm Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta LLP when she became ill.

Then-Gov. Mark White appointed the former assistant state attorney general in 1984. She resigned in 1987. She served as counsel to Austin Community College and Capital Metro and became managing partner of the Bickerstaff Heath firm in 1995.

McDaniel grew up in Philadelphia and earned an English degree from the University of Pennsylvania. After working for five years as a management analyst, she married and had two children before entering the University of Texas School of Law.

Funeral plans are pending.

SOURCE

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KERMIT TYLER, PLAYER OF A FATEFUL, IF MINOR ROLE, IN PEARL HARBOR ATTACK

By RICHARD GOLDSTEIN

Published February 25, 2010

They were only four words, but they made him a footnote figure in a catastrophic day for America and shadowed him the rest of his long life: “Don’t worry about it.”

February 26, 2010    

Associated Press

Lt. Col. Kermit Tyler in 1959

It was a few minutes after 7 o’clock in the morning, Dec. 7, 1941. Lt. Kermit Tyler, an Army fighter pilot, was manning the aircraft tracking center at Fort Shafter in Hawaii, near the vast Pearl Harbor naval base, when he received a phone call from a nearby radar station. Two Army privates watching the screen reported picking up a large group of approaching planes.

It was only Lieutenant Tyler’s second day at the tracking center; he had no understanding of radar, had been given no specific orders on what he was supposed to do and was accompanied by a lone Army private serving as a telephone operator. A group of servicemen assigned to plot the locations of unidentified planes had finished their night’s work and gone back to their barracks.

Lieutenant Tyler would recall how a friend once told him that a Honolulu radio station normally off the air at night would be broadcasting around the clock if American bombers were flying in from the mainland, enabling them to beam in on the signal. He had heard music on his car radio when he drove to his post hours earlier from his beach house on Oahu’s north shore. And he was aware that B-17 Flying Fortress bombers were scheduled to arrive that day.

“I knew the equipment was pretty new,” Mr. Tyler said of the radar scope in an interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune long afterward. “In fact, the guy who was on the scope, who first detected the planes, it was the first time he’d ever sat at the scope. So I figured they were pretty green and had not had any opportunity to view a flight of B-17s coming in. Common sense said, Well, these are the B-17s. So I told them, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ ”

The radar had picked up the first wave of the Japanese bombers and fighters that began arriving over Pearl Harbor at 7:55 a.m. and devastated Battleship Row, plunging the United States into World War II.

Lieutenant Tyler was not disciplined for failing to follow up on the report and went on to command fighter units in the Pacific during the war, receiving the Legion of Merit. A career Air Force officer, he was assigned in the mid-1950s to the Air Defense Command at Colorado Springs. He had the rank of lieutenant colonel when he retired in 1961.

On Jan. 23, his family announced, he died at his home in San Diego. He was 96.

Mr. Tyler had been reluctant to speak about Pearl Harbor Sunday, but he did grant interviews on occasion.

Kermit Arthur Tyler was born on April 21, 1913, in Oelwein, Iowa. He grew up in Southern California and became an Army flying cadet in 1936. After leaving military service, he obtained a business degree and worked as real estate broker.

He is survived by his son, Terry, of Temecula, Calif.; his daughters, Carol Daniels of Morro Bay, Calif., and Julie Jones of La Mesa, Calif.; three grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter. His wife, Marian, died in 2005.

Gordon W. Prange, a historian who spent nearly four decades researching the Pearl Harbor events, wrote that the Army private who phoned the radar report to Lieutenant Tyler had “made one big mistake” by not stating that the screen showed more than 50 approaching planes.

Had he been given that information, “Tyler could scarcely have mistaken it for a flight of B-17s,” Mr. Prange concluded in his book “At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor” (McGraw-Hill, 1981), written with Donald M. Goldstein and Katherine V. Dillon. “Such a number would represent a good slice of the entire American inventory of this type of bomber.”

Mr. Prange wrote that even if Lieutenant Tyler had notified a superior of the radar report, little could have been done immediately beyond dispersing planes parked closely together, easy targets for Japanese bombers.

More serious, Mr. Prange maintained, was the failure that day by anyone in the Army to tell the Navy of the radar sighting. Revelation of the clear track of the approaching planes could have helped the Navy find the Japanese carriers that had conveyed them within striking distance, he wrote.

Daniel Martinez, the National Park Service historian at the Pearl Harbor memorial, persuaded Mr. Tyler to attend ceremonies there marking the 50th and 58th anniversaries of the attack and to speak of his decision to say “Don’t worry about it.”

“The words have their own infamy that has surrounded this story,” Mr. Martinez told The Honolulu Advertiser in 1999. “It’s so unfair.”

But he added: “History doesn’t allow you to escape an event as large as Pearl Harbor. He was haunted by this.”

SOURCE

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JOHN BABCOCK, LAST CANADIAN WORLD WAR I VETERAN

Published: February 24, 2010
John Babcock, who joined the Canadian Army at 15 and ultimately became the symbol of an embattled generation as Canada’s last known veteran of World War I, died Thursday at his home in Spokane, Wash. He was 109.
 
Jeff Green/Reuters

John Babcock in 2008.

His death was announced by the Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, who called him “the last living link” to a war “which in so many ways marked our coming of age as a nation.”

More than 600,000 Canadians served in World War I, and the Canadians’ capture of the Germans’ Vimy Ridge outpost in France in April 1917 is considered a milestone in forging Canada’s national identity.

Mr. Babcock never made it to France. When he arrived in Britain in 1917, the military authorities discovered that he was 16 years old, not 18 as he claimed, and he was relegated to mundane chores. But in the final years of his life he was celebrated by his countrymen for representing what Mr. Harper called “the generation that asserted our independence on the world stage.”

John Henry Foster Babcock was born July 23, 1900, on a farm near Kingston, Ontario. When he was 6, his father died after a tree fell on him. His family split apart, he was shuttled among relatives’ homes, and he had few opportunities for an education.

He was barely in his teens, and only 5 feet 4 and 115 pounds, when the inspiration from the poem by Tennyson, of combat in the Crimean War, in the 1850s, changed his life.

“A sergeant and officer came through and they told us about ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade,’ and they asked me if I would like to sign up,” The Ottawa Sun quoted Mr. Babcock as recalling. “It was the thing to do, and I didn’t know any better. And I got $1.10 a day because they were hard up for men.”

Mr. Babcock moved to the United States after the war, served in the American Army, settled in Spokane and owned a plumbing and heating company. He was a citizen of both the United States and Canada.

His death leaves Frank Buckles, 109, of Charles Town, W.Va., as the last surviving American citizen to have served in an Allied military force during World War I. Mr. Buckles drove a United States Army ambulance in France.

Mr. Babcock is survived by his wife, Dorothy; his son, Jack, and his daughter, Sandra Strong, from his marriage to his first wife, Elsie, who died in 1976; his stepsons, Eric and Marc Farden; 16 grandchildren; and 9 great-grandchildren.

In November 2006, when only three Canadian veterans of World War I were still alive, the House of Commons voted in favor of a state funeral for the last survivor. Dorothy Babcock said in an interview on Monday that her husband had not wanted such a tribute because he had not been in combat, and that a family memorial service would be held instead. He was nonetheless awed, she said, that “he stood in the place of all the men who served in the Great War.”

SOURCE

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ANDREW KOENIG, TELEVISION ACTOR

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: February 26, 2010
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Andrew Koenig, an actor best known for his role in the 1980s television series “Growing Pains,” was found dead here on Thursday. He was 41.
ABC Photo Archive, via Getty Images

Andrew Koenig in 1988.

His death was announced by the Vancouver police at a news conference in the downtown park where his body was found. The police said they would not release the cause of death because the coroner was still investigating. But Mr. Koenig’s father, the actor Walter Koenig, said his son “took his own life.”

Andrew Koenig was visiting friends in Vancouver when he was reported missing more than a week ago.

From 1985 to 1989 Mr. Koenig played the recurring role of Boner, a friend of the character played by Kirk Cameron, on the hit sitcom “Growing Pains.” He also appeared on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” and other series, worked as a film editor, and wrote and directed short films.

His father played the part of Pavel Chekov on the original “Star Trek.”

SOURCE

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CHILE EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS

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  SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — A devastating magnitude-8.8 earthquake struck Chile early Saturday, shattering buildings and bridges, killing at least 78 people and setting off a tsunami that threatened every nation around the Pacific Ocean — roughly a quarter of the globe.

Chilean TV showed devastating images of the most powerful quake to hit the country in a half-century: In the second city of Concepcion trucks plunged into the fractured earth, homes fell, bridges collapsed and buildings were engulfed in flames. Injured people lay in the streets or on stretchers.

Many roads were destroyed and electricity and water were cut to many areas.

There was still no word of death or damage from many outlying areas that were cut off by the quake that struck at 3:34 a.m. (1:34 a.m. EST, 0634 GMT) 200 miles (325 kilometers) southwest of Santiago.

Experts warned that a tsunami could strike anywhere in the Pacific, and Hawaii could face its largest waves since 1964 starting at 11:19 a.m. (4:19 p.m. EST, 2119 GMT), according to Charles McCreery, director of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

Tsunami waves were likely to hit Asian, Australian and New Zealand shores within 24 hours of the earthquake. The U.S. West Coast and Alaska, too, were threatened.

A huge wave swept into a populated area in the Robinson Crusoe Islands, 410 miles (660 kilometers) off the Chilean coast, President Michele Bachelet said, but there were no immediate reports of major damage there.

Bachelet said the death toll was at 78 and rising, but officials had no information on the number of people injured. She declared a “state of catastrophe” in central Chile.

“We have had a huge earthquake, with some aftershocks,” Bachelet said from an emergency response center. She urged Chileans not to panic.

“Despite this, the system is functioning. People should remain calm. We’re doing everything we can with all the forces we have. Any information we will share immediately,” she said.

Powerful aftershocks rattled Chile’s coast — 21 of them magnitude 5 or greater and one reaching magnitude 6.9 — the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

Bachelet urged people to avoid traveling, since traffic lights are down, to avoid causing more fatalities.

The airport for Chile’s capital of Santiago airport was shut down and will remain closed for at least the next 24 hours, airport director Eduardo del Canto said. The passenger terminal suffered major damage, he told Chilean television in a telephone interview. TV images show smashed windows, partially collapsed ceilings and pedestrian walkways destroyed.

In Concepcion, nurses and residents pushed some of the injured through the streets on stretchers. Others walked around in a daze wrapped in blankets, some carrying infants in their arms.

The epicenter was just 70 miles (115 kilometers) from Concepcion, where more than 200,000 people live along the Bio Bio river, and 60 miles (95 kilometers) from the ski town of Chillan, a gateway to Andean ski resorts that was destroyed in a 1939 earthquake.

The quake also shook buildings in Argentina’s capital of Buenos Aires, 900 miles (1,400 kilometers) away on the Atlantic side of South America.

Marco Vidal — a program director for Grand Circle Travel who was traveling with a group of 34 Americans — was on the 19th floor of the Crown Plaza Santiago hotel when the quake struck.

“All the things start to fall. The lamps, everything, was going on the floor. And it was moving like from south to north, oscillated. I felt terrified,” he said.

Cynthia Iocono, from Linwood, Pennsylvania, said she first thought the quake was a train.

“But then I thought, oh, there’s no train here. And then the lamps flew off the dresser and my TV flew off onto the floor and crashed.”

“It was scary, but there really wasn’t any panic. Everybody kind of stayed orderly and looked after one another,” Iocono said.

In Santiago, modern buildings are built to withstand earthquakes, but many older ones were heavily damaged, including the Nuestra Senora de la Providencia church, whose bell tower collapsed. An apartment building’s two-level parking lot also flattened onto the ground floor, smashing about 50 cars whose alarms and horns rang incessantly. A bridge just outside the capital also collapsed, and at least one car flipped upside down.

The quake struck after concert-goers had left South America’s leading music festival in the coastal city of Vina del Mar, but it caught partiers leaving a disco. “It was very bad, people were screaming, some people were running, others appeared paralyzed. I was one of them,” , Julio Alvarez told Radio Cooperativa in Santiago.

Bachelet said she was declaring a “state of catastrophe” in three central regions of the country.

She said Chile has not asked for assistance from other countries.

Several hospitals were evacuated due to earthquake damage, she said.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center called for “urgent action to protect lives and property” in Hawaii, which is among 53 nations and territories subject to tsunami warnings.

“Sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated. It may have been destructive along coasts near the earthquake epicenter and could also be a threat to more distant coasts,” the warning center said. It did not expect a tsunami along the west of the U.S. or Canada but was continuing to monitor the situation.

The largest earthquake ever recorded struck the same area of Chile on May 22, 1960. The magnitude-9.5 quake killed 1,655 people and left 2 million homeless. The tsunami that it caused killed people in Hawaii, Japan and the Philippines and caused damage to the west coast of the United States.

It was the strongest quake to hit Chile since a magnitude-9.5 temblor rocked southern Chile in 1960. Together with an ensuing tsunami, it killed at least 1,716 people.

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