My husband’s Uncle Butch Schulenberg is such a sweet man. Bob and I went up to Forsyth, Montana a couple of years ago, and Uncle Butch was so gracious and kind to show me so many pictures of himself and his family. They were pictures we had never seen before, and it was such a treat to receive them, along with the stories that went along with them. Uncle Butch is my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg’s half-brother by their dad’s second marriage, and to me, he is such a precious part of the family. His is loving and kind, and he is a man of integrity and honor.
Uncle Butch, like many of the young men of his era served honorably in the Army after high school, and was one of the lucky guys who got to be stationed in Hawaii part of that time. He did find out that not all of Hawaii is a tropical paradise, when he got to go up to one of the high peaks that are between 10,000 and 13,000 feet, and are the only places where Hawaii gets snow every year. Butch tells me that it was absolutely freezing while they were up there. Yikes!! I had no idea. Still, knowing Butch as I have come to, I know that the views he had while he was in Hawaii were spectacular, and some that he cherishes still today. Butch loves the outdoors, and takes lots of walks near his home. He probably has the best view in Forsyth, Montana, especially if, like Butch, you love taking pictures of sunrises and sunsets. His home overlooks the Yellowstone River, and the sun sets on the horizon behind the river view…making for a spectacular image.
Butch married Charlys Stull on June 25, 1966 and their marriage was blessed with three children, Tadd, Andi Kay, and Heath. They also have seven grandchildren. Their marriage has been blessed with many wonderful years, and is still going strong. They love to travel around, and especially to go visit their children and grandchildren. Butch is also a very strong supporter of the local school teams, and knows the players personally. Forsyth is a small town, so most people know each other, and Butch is well known as an encourager of the teams. What a wonderful way to be known. Of course, I know just how they feel, because Butch is that way with everyone, and I have been privileged to receive his words of praise many times over my writing…something that blesses me more than he could possibly know. Today is Uncle Butch’s 80th birthday. Happy birthday Uncle Butch!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
There are certain people who fit in your family from the moment they join it. My niece, Dustie Masterson, who married my nephew Rob Masterson on January 18, 2003 is one of those people. Rob and Dustie met when he was in the Army, and was in Louisiana. It didn’t take them very long to realize that they were in love and that they were perfect for each other. When they returned to Casper, Wyoming where Rob’s family all live, the family liked Dustie immediately. She was sweet, helpful, kind, and most of all, she was very much in love with and loyal to Rob. That goes a long way toward endearing a person to their spouse’s family.
Dustie and Rob’s favorite place to be was always together. It didn’t really matter where. That is such an interesting thought now, years later, when the two of them work together in different areas of the local Sam’s Club. Not everyone has the ability or the opportunity to work at the same place as their spouse, but Dustie and Rob even got hired at the same time. Now, they get to work together sometimes, and on opposite shifts at other times, but either way, they work at the same place, and are part of the same team. They are both supervisors in their areas now, and the people they work with count on them to keep things running smoothly.
Dustie and Rob have three children together, Raelynn, Matthew, and Audrianna, as well as Rob’s daughter from his first marriage, Christina. Their lives are so full of joy and happiness. They love their family, and their extended family. They are always willing to help others. Dustie stepped in during the years that we took care of our parents, and even though they were her grandparents by marriage, she loved them like they were her own. She ran errands for us, helped out with meals and care, and visited, which we all know is vital when it comes to helping people feel good about life. Dustie is such a pleasant person too. She is light-hearted and fun, and she doesn’t mind being a little bit silly sometimes. So, seriously, what’s better than that…let’s face it, nothing. That’s what I really like about Dustie. Her little bit sweet, little bit silly personality. Today is Dustie’s birthday. Happy birthday Dustie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
In a war, there are many heroes…some whose acts of courage and selflessness were so amazing that many felt they needed to receive a different medal…one that paid homage to the incredible things they did. Often these medals were even given posthumously because the brave act of the hero, cost the recipients their lives. Before 1861, no such medal existed. President Abraham Lincoln didn’t think that was right. There were many brave soldiers, and while not all brave acts would qualify for the medal of honor, the most self sacrificing of them would…the ones who set aside their own safety to protect the lives of others.
For that reason, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law a measure calling for the awarding of a US Army Medal of Honor, in the name of Congress, “to such noncommissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldier-like qualities during the present insurrection.” The previous December, Lincoln had approved a provision creating a US Navy Medal of Valor, which was the basis of the Army Medal of Honor created by Congress on July 12, 1862. War puts men and women into situations whereby the only choices are kill or be killed. That can be a scary proposition. These soldiers do not do what they do in order to receive a medal. In fact, a medal rarely crosses their minds at all. The first US Army soldiers to receive what would become the nation’s highest military honor were six members of a Union raiding party who in 1862 penetrated deep into Confederate territory to destroy bridges and railroad tracks between Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Atlanta, Georgia.
In 1863, the Medal of Honor was made a permanent military decoration available to all members, including commissioned officers, of the US military. It is conferred upon those who have distinguished themselves in actual combat at risk of life beyond the call of duty. Since its creation, during the Civil War, more than 3,400 men and one woman, Dr Mary Walker, have received the Medal of Honor for heroic actions in US military conflict. These people gave whatever it took to perform their duties. They were the best of the best, and the medal of honor was the best honor we could bestow on them. Of course, in Lincoln’s time, there was no air force, so that medal came later, as did the medals from the other branches of service, including the Coast Guard.
My grandfather, George Byer was a man of gentle strength. Many people may not think those to traits go together, but in him they did. He was always a hard-working man, who gave his all to support his family, but maybe the gentleness came partly from the fact that he had 9 children, 7 of whom were girls. That can make a man understand that girls are often the fairer gender, at least in those days. Grandpa Byer lived in a time when the women stayed home and raised the family and the men went out and made the living…even if that meant working long hours or multiple jobs. Grandpa also lived during the great depression, when jobs were scarce, so the women need not have bothered to go look for one very often.
While times were tough sometimes, the family really never wanted for much, and grandma, Hattie Byer could somehow make the meager portions of food go a long way, and still never turn away a stranger in need of a meal, and it seemed there was always a plentiful supply of those strangers and friends who would come for dinner at the Byer house. They were a good team, and truth be told, Grandma Byer was probably just as tough, if not more so than Grandpa Byer, who did have a definite soft spot in his heart for people. Grandpa worked at a number of jobs, but the one I probably heard the most about was the building of Alcova Dam Grandpa had also worked on Kortez Dam and Pathfinder Dam, but my mom, Collene Spencer, who was Grandpa’s middle child, always mentioned to us that her dad had helped build Alcova Dam, every time we drove past it. She was very proud of her dad, and with good reason, because he was very special.
Grandpa served in the Army during World War I as a cook. While he was very brave, and never a man to shirk his duties, I think it would have been hard for this gentle soul to have a military career of killing people. Nevertheless, had the need arisen, he would have done it, because he always knew that he would protect those in his charge. He was a very loyal soldier, and he would never have allowed those he cared about to be killed, if he could stop it. His gentle strength was, for me, his trademark trait. I remember it from my childhood as clearly as if Grandpa Byer were standing right next to me as I write this story. he was the sweetest, kindest, most gentle man anyone could have known. Today would have been my Grandpa Byer’s 126th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandpa. We love and miss you very much!!
World War II saw many changes in how women were viewed in the normally male-dominated world. With so many men off fighting the war, the women stepped up to do the jobs of riveters in the shipyards, and they stepped up in many other occupations too. If there are no men to do the jobs, someone had to keep the country running, and the United States found out that women were up for the task. I don’t suppose that everyone thought that women could do it, but they simply had no choice. World War II was the largest and most violent armed conflict in the history of mankind. This war taught us, not only about the profession of arms, but also about military preparedness, global strategy, and combined operations in the coalition war against fascism.
Prior 1942, the only way for women to be involved in the service was as an Army Nurse, in the Army Nurse Corps, but early in 1941 Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers of Massachusetts met with General George C. Marshall, the Army’s Chief of Staff, and told him that she intended to introduce a bill to establish an Army women’s corps, separate and distinct from the existing Army Nurse Corps. Congress approved that bill on May 14, 1942, and the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) was born. The WAAC bill became law on May 15, 1942. Congressional opposition to the bill centered around southern congressmen. With women in the armed services, one representative asked, “Who will then do the cooking, the washing, the mending, the humble homey tasks to which every woman has devoted herself; who will nurture the children?” These days he would have been run out of Congress for having backward ideas but it was a different time, and one that some women of today truly miss…especially young mothers.
After a long and bitter debate which filled ninety-eight columns in the Congressional Record, the bill finally passed the House 249 to 86. The Senate approved the bill 38 to 27 on May 14. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the bill into law the next day, he set a recruitment goal of 25,000 for the first year. WAAC recruitment topped that goal by November of 1942, at which point Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson authorized WAAC enrollment at 150,000, the original ceiling set by Congress. The day the bill became law, Stimson appointed Oveta Culp Hobby as Director of the WAAC. As chief of the Women’s Interest Section in the Public Relations Bureau at the War Department, Hobby had helped shepherd the WAAC bill through Congress. She had impressed both the media and the public when she testified in favor of the WAAC bill in January. In the words of the Washington Times Herald, “Mrs. Hobby has proved that a competent, efficient woman who works longer days than the sun does not need to look like the popular idea of a competent, efficient woman.” Women would go on to not only become competent and efficient, but requested…sometimes above the men!!
So, what led to the Army’s decision to enlist women during World War II? The answer is simple. The “unfathomable” became reality, as the Army struggled to fulfill wartime quotas from an ever-shrinking pool of candidates. By mid-1943, the Army was simply running out of eligible white men to enlist. The Army could scarcely spare those men already in the service for non-combatant duties. General Dwight D. Eisenhower remarked: “The simple headquarters of a Grant or Lee were gone forever. An Army of filing clerks, stenographers, office managers, telephone operators, and chauffeurs had become essential, and it was scarcely less than criminal to recruit these from needed manpower when great numbers of highly qualified women were available.” While women played a vital role in the success of World War II, their admission into combat roles would not come for many years, and many weren’t sure it was a good idea when it did. The WAC, as a branch of the service, was disbanded in 1978 and all female units were integrated with male units.
The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition of the Louisiana territory, which was 828,000 square miles, by the United States from France in 1803. The purchase treaty was signed on April 30, 1803. There were a number of explorers who were anxious to explore the new territory…among them, Lieutenant Zebulon Pike. Pike’s explorations of the newly acquired Louisiana Territory of the United States began before the nation’s first western explorers, Lewis and Clark, had returned from their own expedition up the Missouri River. Pike was more of a professional military man than either Lewis or Clark, and he was a smart man who had taught himself Spanish, French, mathematics, and elementary science. When the governor of Louisiana Territory requested a military expedition to explore the headwaters of the Mississippi, General James Wilkinson picked Pike to lead it.
Although Pike’s first western expedition had little success, Wilkinson again picked him to lead a second mission in July 1806 to explore the headwaters of the Red and Arkansas Rivers. This route took Pike across present-day Kansas and into the high plains region that would later become the state of Colorado. As Pike approached the Colorado foothills of the Rocky Mountains during his second exploratory expedition, Lieutenant Zebulon Pike spots a distant mountain peak that looks “like a small blue cloud.” The mountain was later named Pike’s Peak in his honor, but Pike had vastly underestimated the mountain, and the distance to it. He told his men they should be able to walk to the peak, climb it, and return before dinner. Pike and his men struggled through snow and sub-zero temperatures before finally taking shelter in a cave for the night, without even having reached the base of the towering mountain. Pike later pronounced the peak impossible to scale. Little did he know what the future would bring for Pike’s Peak, especially tourism.
The remainder of Pike’s expedition was as bad as the first part. After attempting for several months to locate the Red River, Pike and his men became hopelessly lost. Were it not for a troop of Spanish soldiers who arrested Pike and his men, they would have most likely died. The soldiers escorted them to Santa Fe, thus providing Pike with an tour of that important region, courtesy of the Spanish military. After returning to the United States, Pike wrote an account of his expedition that won him some fame, but little money. In recognition of his bravery and leadership during the western expeditions, the army appointed him a brigadier general during the War of 1812. He was killed in an explosion during the April 1813 assault on Toronto.
I originally met my husband’s uncle, Andrew “Butch” Schulenberg at a family reunion about 1980, but really began to feel close to him and Aunt Charlys after my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg, Butch’s half brother, passed away in 2013. Since that time, my husband, Bob and I have gone to Forsyth to spend time with them and kept in touch on Facebook. In those five years, I can honestly say that he has become a favorite uncle to me. He is very sweet man, and his kind, thoughtful ways have endeared him to me more than he could possibly know. I am so blessed that he is a part of my life.
Uncle Butch is the youngest child of his dad, Andrew Schulenberg, who was the sheriff of Rosebud County, Montana from 1955 to 1972. Growing up as the son of the County Sheriff, you would expect that Butch would be an expert in guns, and you would be right, but not for the reason you might think. You see, Butch’s dad was known as the sheriff without a gun. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop Butch from becoming an expert marksman. Butch graduated from high school in Forsyth, Montana, and then attended Northern Montana College in Havre, Montana before joining the Army on September 13, 1963. Part of his time in the Army was spent stationed at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, as a rifleman in Company A, 1st Battalion of the Division’s 35th Infantry. While there he took part in Exercise West Wind as a part of the assault team in a joint Army-Navy-Marine Corps amphibious operation on the Hawaiian Island of Molokai from April 15, 1964 to April 24, 1964. During his time in the Army, Butch became an Expert (Rifle M-14) and Marksman (Rifle).
Butch had learned to respect the dangers of guns early in his life, a result of the fact that his dad lost his left leg as a result of a hunting accident at the tender age of 14. I don’t believe that Grandpa Andy Schulenberg was afraid of guns, else how could he possibly be the Sheriff of Rosebud County for so many years, but I do believe that he was well aware of what can happen with guns and that he made sure that his children knew that they were not a toy. Nevertheless, he didn’t teach his children to fear guns either. While Butch was an excellent marksman, he was also a great driver, and that caught the attention of his superior officer who chose him to be his driver for much of his time in the service. Butch received an honorable discharge on August 23, 1965. I am very proud of Uncle Butch’s service to his country, and his abilities. Today is Uncle Butch’s 77th birthday. Happy birthday Uncle Butch!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
These days, patriotism seems to be constantly under fire. The nation has basically taken sides on the issue. There are those who hate this country and all it stands for, and those who love this country despite its faults and any negative historical events. I am a patriot, and it is my belief that history is history, mistakes and all. It can’t be changed by tearing down a few statues, and certainly not by stomping on our flag. The patriots of this time feel the same as the patriots of the Vietnam era…”Our Flag, Love it or Leave.” I find it strange to think that this era is really no different than that era, or any other era of American history, or in fact, in the history of any nation. There are those who love their nation and are loyal to it, and those who tend to blow with the wind…only showing faithfulness when it suits their own agenda. In my opinion and the opinion of every patriot, these people who turn on our country just because things aren’t going their way, are traitors, and should be treated as such.
There have been a number of traitors in our nations history, and I’m sure there will be many more, but one of the most famous of them all was Benedict Arnold. On this day in 1780, during the American Revolution, an American General named Benedict Arnold met with a British Major named John Andre to discuss the treasonous act of handing over West Point to the British. In return Arnold was promised of a large sum of money and a high position in the British army. The plot was foiled and Arnold, who was once considered an American hero, became synonymous with the word “traitor.” Benedict Arnold was not always a low life traitor. He was actually born into a well-respected family in Norwich, Connecticut, on January 14, 1741. He apprenticed with an apothecary and was a member of the militia during the French and Indian War from 1754 to 1763. Later, he became a successful trader and then joined the Continental Army when the Revolutionary War broke out between Great Britain and its 13 American colonies in 1775. When the war ended in 1783, the colonies had won their independence from Britain and formed a new nation…the United States.
During the war, Benedict Arnold proved himself a brave and skillful leader, helping Ethan Allen’s troops capture Fort Ticonderoga in 1775 and then participating in the unsuccessful attack on British Quebec later that year, which earned him a promotion to brigadier general. Arnold distinguished himself in campaigns at Lake Champlain, Ridgefield and Saratoga, and gained the support of George Washington. However, Arnold also had some enemies within the military and in 1777, five men of lesser rank were promoted over him. I see that there were those who were not fooled by his presumed loyalty. Over the course of the next few years, Arnold married for a second time. He and his new wife lived a lavish lifestyle in Philadelphia, accumulating a large amount of debt. The debt and the resentment Arnold felt over not being promoted faster were the motivating factors in his decision to become a turncoat.
In 1780, Arnold was given command of West Point, an American fort on the Hudson River in New York, and future home of the United States military academy, which was established in 1802. Arnold contacted Sir Henry Clinton, head of the British forces, and proposed handing over West Point and his men. On September 21, 1780, Arnold met with Major John Andre and made his traitorous pact. Thankfully, the conspiracy was uncovered and Andre was captured and executed. Arnold, the former American patriot turned traitor, fled to the enemy side and went on to lead British troops in Virginia and Connecticut. He later moved to England, though he never received all of what he’d been promised by the British. He died in London on June 14, 1801, having never realized the greatness he thought he would achieve. Now, when people think of a traitor, they often call them a Benedict Arnold. It is a huge insult to be called that.
While people might not know that today, October 14 was the day that Air Force test pilot, Chuck Yeager became the first person to break the sound barrier, many do know that it was Chuck Yeager who accomplished that feat. That was back in 1947, and it was an amazing accomplishment in speed flying…an activity common to test pilots, though not always safe or successful, and sometimes deadly. There was also another record that was broken on this day, but this one was back in 2012.
Felix Baumgartner was born in Salzburg, Austria in 1969, and he started skydiving when he was 16 years old. He was also a paratrooper during his time in the Austrian Army. After his time in the Army, Felix decided that he needed that kind of excitement in his life, and so he went on to perform a series of daredevil feats, including becoming the first person to jump from one of the twin 1,483 foot high Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, then the world’s tallest buildings, in 1999, and becoming the first person to skydive across the English Channel using a carbon-fiber wing, in 2003. His next record breaking jump was going to be his greatest feat, however, and it was five years in the making. It also involved a team of engineers, scientists, and aeronautic experts to custom design his equipment, including his pressurized space suit (intended to prevent his blood from boiling at high altitudes) and 6 foot wide, 2,900 pound, pressurized capsule. I’m sure that by now you are wondering why he would need such equipment, but I assure you that he did. In 2010 the project, which was financed by energy drink company Red Bull, hit a roadblock when Baumgartner started having panic attacks while undergoing endurance tests in his pressurized suit and helmet. A sports psychologist eventually helped him learn to cope with his claustrophobia. I find it amazing that a dare devil would have such a problem as claustrophobia, but remember that he was a sky diver, so he was used to wide open spaces. This project required that he have a capsule that was attached to a helium balloon to take Baumgartner to an incredible height of 24 miles above the Earth.
At this point, I’m sure you are curious about the planned jump. On that morning, October 14, 2012, a 550 foot high helium balloon made of 40 acres of ultrathin plastic lifted the capsule carrying Baumgartner, nicknamed Fearless Felix by the crew at the launch site at Roswell International Air Center. He was going to jump from the capsule at 127,852.4 feet and plunge to Earth. It would be the highest distance anyone had ever skydived from, and it would take nine minutes and eighteen seconds, of which four minutes and twenty seconds would be free fall…without an opened parachute…during which time he fell 119,431 feet. The prior record for high altitude skydiving was held by Joseph Kittinger, who jumped from an altitude of 102,800 feet in 1960. Kittinger was a former Air Force colonel, and was part of the team that helped prepare Baumgartner for his record breaking jump. Baumgartner’s top speed during that free fall was 843.6 miles per hour, or Mach 1.25, making Fearless Felix not only the record holder for the highest skydive, but now he was also the first person to break the sound barrier without the protection or propulsion of a vehicle. The capsule was equipped with cameras, to record the event, which was broadcast on the internet and on television, so it could be witnessed by millions of people world wide. After the jump, Fearless Felix landed safely in the desert near Roswell, New Mexico.
On June 25, 1950, when North Korea invaded South Korea, my uncle, Larry Byer found himself in the middle of what would become some of the hardest years of his life. Uncle Larry was an Army private during the Korean War. Korea was originally under the rule of the Japanese empire, but when it collapsed after World War II, the country was divided. The United Nations, using the United States as its main force, came to aid of South Korea. China, along with assistance from Soviet Union, came to aid of North Korea. North Korea was unhappy with the division of the country that took place after World War II. The global tensions of the Cold War that developed immediately afterwards didn’t help the situation either. Then the North Korean government decided to get back the area they believed was actually theirs. In reality, Korea isn’t the only country ever to be divided, so had they simply accepted it, the problem might have been resolved right away, but they simply wouldn’t.
I understand why something had to be done with the country of Korea, because they had no government, but it doesn’t seem right to me to divide the country. Nevertheless, it was done that way, and in reality, that area has been volatile since that day. North Korea has tried to take over South Korea. They have also made many threats to the rest of the world. Their leader, Kim Jong-il, and now his son, Kim Jong-un, have both proven to be ruthless, and about half crazy. The rest of the world is constantly trying to decide if we need to go in an blow them up, or try not to make them too angry. Time will tell, and it depends on Kim Jong-un.
This was the world my Uncle Larry found himself in while he was a private in the Army. The North Koreans fought their battles in any underhanded way they could come up with. Their only goal was to win the war. They didn’t of course, and soon, my Uncle Larry came back home. I’m sure he was very happy to be back home. Spending any time in a crazy war like the Korean war would never be ideal in any way. I am just thankful that he made it home. Today is Uncle Larry’s birthday. He would have been 82 years old. Happy birthday in Heaven Uncle Larry. We love and miss you very much.