Jess Nelson was a machinist in Thompson Falls for many years. He was good at it, but what he was really good at was standing up for honesty and justice. He was my friend, and I think of him often even though he died many years ago. He had been in a nursing home for a couple of years, and by coincidence I happened to be sitting in his living room when I heard that he had died earlier that day. It was my birthday. Continue Reading →
The tattered plastic box had an Army post office box number from Vietnam that didn’t exist anymore. Inside was a tape recording of an F-100 Super Saber pilot flying out of Bien Hoa (pronounced Ben Waah) Air Base in that country; it was a way of keeping the pilot’s wife and family current with his combat tour activities. It was Jan. 13, 1970, the pilot with the call sign “Bobcat 2” was Air Force Col. Robert Laliberté (La-liber-tay), and this was his third war. Continue Reading →
Filed under:, , , , ,
The saddest quotation in last week’s Billings Gazette came from Shonn Lehmann, a volunteer weighing names for a new West End middle school. After fellow volunteer Dana Winchell suggested the district avoid naming the school after a human being because of the politics involved, Lehmann said, “I think that’s what we need to avoid, ticking people off.” (more…) Continue Reading →
Filed under:, , , , , ,
Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath, by Michael Norman and Elizabeth M. Norman, 2009. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 464 pages, $30.
The central character in this history is Ben Steele, the Bataan survivor and artist who, now in his mid-90s, lives in Billings. Given that I greatly admire Steele and have written about him on several occasions, why did it take me four years to start reading this book? (more…) Continue Reading →