san diego

While flight remains one of the safest forms of travel, there is always the possibility of a malfunction that can have devastating effects. In the case of United Airlines Flight 624, a Douglas DC-6 airliner, registration NC37506, was a scheduled passenger flight from San Diego, California to New York City. Very likely, these passengers had taken this exact same flight a number of times, and possibly on this exact same plane. Nevertheless, this flight was about to be very different…and that difference was going to have devastating effects on the plane and on the outcome of this flight.

Flight 624 took off from Lindbergh Field, in what appeared to be a normal flight. The flight made its first scheduled stop at Los Angeles Airport, followed by a normal scheduled stop at Chicago Municipal Airport. Everything was normal for both stops. In fact, the whole flight proceeded normally until they began their descent into New York’s LaGuardia Airport. They began their descent over Pennsylvania, and suddenly, they had a warning alarm telling them of a fire in the cargo hold. The crew responded to what was later determined to be a false signal of a fire in the front cargo hold by releasing CO2. Proper operating procedure called for opening the cabin pressure relief valves prior to discharging the CO2 bottles, to allow for venting of the CO2 gas buildup in the cabin and cockpit. There was no evidence found of the crew opening the relief valves. Either they forgot or it malfunctioned (which didn’t appear to be the case). As a result, the released CO2 gas seeped back into the cockpit from the front cargo hold and apparently partially incapacitated the flight crew. It would be like being in a closed-up garage and leaving your car running. The decision-making process of the crew became compromised. As things got worse, the crew put the aircraft into an emergency descent, miscalculating their altitude, and as the plane descended lower than it should have, it hit a high-voltage power line and burst into flames. The plane then smashed through the trees of a wooded hillside about five miles from Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania, a small town 135 miles from Philadelphia, at 1:41pm EDT on June 17, 1948. When the four-engined, propeller-driven airplane crashed, it resulted in the deaths of all four crew members and 39 passengers on board.

My son-in-law, Travis Royce is always willing taking on something new in the yard. Whatever my daughter, Amy Royce can dream up, Travis is willing to make a reality for her. He even goes so far as to indulge her “need” to buy flowers. Travis is more of a lawn guy. He loves mowing their lawn and loves dressing up the yard part of their home into a beautiful sanctuary, and together, they have definitely succeeded. When we are at their house, the back yard if everyone’s favorite place to be. It’s quiet, peaceful, and relaxing. I love their back yard. The kids, Shai Royce and Caalab Royce, have even helped to make the back yard wonderful They got them some heat units so that when the nights are a little chilly, they can still enjoy the patio.

Travis and Amy have found their own little getaway. They love to go to a little town in Washington called Ilwaco. It is a quaint little town on the Washington coast. They love to stroll through the cute little town and along the trail to Cape Disappointment State Park. The lighthouse there is of particular interest to them. Travis always looks like he is so at peace when he is standing there looking out to the ocean. It’s not really so odd, because he was born in San Diego, California and went to school in Puyallup, Washington. The West Coast is really in his blood, and anyone who knows him can easily see that.

Travis is an innovative man, who is quick thinking and can be very funny. In fact, he loves to be funny. I have always loved that about him, because his humor fills my daughter’s home and life with laughter…and let’s face it…what could be better than a life with laughter in it? I have never been around someone, quite like Travis before…but, when I think about it, he really is one of a kind, with the possible exception on his son, Caalab, who is so much like his dad that it’s uncanny.

Travis has been a part of our family now for almost 27 years, and he has been such a blessing to us. There is no greater blessing for a mother, than to know that her daughter’s husband is her soulmate and best friend. I have been very blessed to know that Travi is exactly that for Amy, and always will be. Today is Travis’ birthday. Happy birthday Travis!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My sister, Caryl Reed has lived a number of places in her adult life like San Diego, California; Oak Harbor, Washington; Idaho Falls, Idaho; and Rawlins, Wyoming. Now that she is retired, and her husband, Mike Reed is getting close to retiring, they have realized another of their dreams…a ranch outside of Casper, Wyoming. For Caryl, that is coming full circle in life. Caryl was born in Casper, and our family is almost all still here. Even Caryl’s son and daughter-in-law, Allen and Gaby Beach are living in Casper now. Her daughter, Andrea and grandson Topher live in Rawlins, but will likely relocate to Casper when Caryl and Mike do. Mike’s daughter, Amanda, and her family, will likely stay in Rawlins, because their lives are there, but it’s only a couple of hours to drive. Still, they will miss them when they move. The whole family, and indeed our whole family loves to go out to Caryl and Mike’s ranch for parties, because it is a beautiful area, and so roomy.

Every year, Caryl; her daughter, Andrea; and grandson, Topher take a trip to the Black Hills together…just the three of them. It is a time for the three of them to reconnect and have a good time together. The Black Hills is such a great vacation spot, and has something for everyone. The trip means so much to Andrea and Topher. They look forward to it every year. I get that, because there are a number of those in our family who go to the Black Hills every year. It has been a family favorite since I was a little girl…the tradition continues.

Caryl is my little sister, born three years after I was. We did lots of things together as kids, among them, sharing a room. That was not difficult…most of the time, but Caryl is an early riser…like 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning, even during our school years. I, on the other hand was the girl who screamed out of bed, hustled around getting ready, and screamed out the door just in time to get to school without being late. That caused a “few,” ok a lot of morning issues. You just can’t get dressed and do makeup in the dark, so Caryl turned on the light, and was often introduced to the “roaring lion” with whom she shared a room… sorry Caryl. As a now early riser, 6:30 in the morning setting an alarm even now…after two years of retirement, I can say that I have finally grasped the wonders of the rising sun, the chirping birds, and the lack of wasted hours in bed. You were right, and I was wrong. Don’t get used to that…you won’t hear it again…trust me. Never again!!! Today is Caryl’s birthday. Happy birthday my dear sister. Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand nephew, James Renville got the “travel bug” early on in his life. The first trip he took was when he was just when he was just 3 weeks old. His parents, my niece Toni Chase and her then husband, Jim Renville to their newborn son to meet his grandpa in North Dakota. Many babies don’t do well on long trips, but James was calm throughout the seven hour drive. He was such a good baby for them. The only times he fussed was when he was hungry, and then it wasn’t much fussing. Really, from that point on, James was at his most calm when he was traveling. His mom says that he “knew what vacation meant from the start.”

Toni read somewhere, and many of us have always thought the same thing, that when you are an “only child,” like James is, that “you are likely to mature early and manifest adult behaviors an attitudes.” I’m sure it is because they around adults so much. That was never made more clear to her than when they went on the first trip that James was old enough to really know what was going on. They took James to the water park in South Dakota. He really had a blast, but he refused to go on any of the “kiddie slides” or “baby slides,” as he called them. While that was great for James, it meant that since James really was a “kiddie” or “baby” himself, he also couldn’t go on the big slides without an adult. So, his mom and dad had to go up and down the steep hills, carrying James most of the way, in the 90° heat to get to the slides. The plan had been to let the kids…James and his cousins…play for a while, and then head home in the afternoon. Well, when everyone else was ready to go…the cousins had already fallen asleep, James definitely was not. He wasn’t one bit tired, or as his mom puts it, “Not even a yawn!” They ended up staying until the park closed.

Last August, James took a trip with some friends of his. It was a chance to say goodbye to summer, and to one friend who was leaving to start his career in the Air Force. For James, it was also a way to “say goodbye” to being a kid. College was over, and everything was going to be different now. The friends went to Denver to cut loose a little bit. They went to Eliches, went clubbing, and checked out some of the breweries. Toni began to think of what was coming next. She wanted things to be good for James, and he did love to travel. He had taken tips to the Netherlands and Spain, and she wanted to do something fun for him.

Toni and her husband, Dave Chase began to plan their own travels and some trips for James too. Things started off really well. Toni and Dave took him to a concert at Red Rocks in Denver. It was to be the first of several fun trips the family would take, including a trip to San Diego with Toni and Dave. The San Diego trip was amazing too. They spent 5 days there. They planned activities for every day. They went to an air show that Toni is sure James only went to “for her.” Then afterward, James said it wasn’t what he had expected. He said he had a great time. Then they went to a festival in La Jolla, several beaches on the ocean, the Cabrillo National Monument and the surrounding area, and the brewery district in the San Diego area…then relaxed at the resort.

After these trips, the Covid-19 Pandemic hit, and the whole world went into turmoil. For James that meant no trip to Las Vegas with his dad, Jim and the rest of their pool team for his first pool tournament, and trip that was to be the “Shangri La” of them all, James’ long awaited trip to the western coast of South America. He had planned to take that one last year, but couldn’t get the time off from his job. Now, it is all on hold, until the trips can be rearranged, and who knows how long that will be. Still, James really was born with the “traveling bug” and he has been building his skills for years. He is very driven and never wants to miss a thing. His past trips have included the Rocky Mountain Region (Wyoming, Montana, Utah, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Colorado), the deserts of Nevada, the lakes of Arizona, the beaches of Florida, the ocean surrounding California, the eastern shores of Virginia and Washington DC, the costal plains of Alabama, the French Quarter of New Orleans nd Louisiana, the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, and far beyond the northern hemisphere to see parts of the Netherlands and Spain. While some of his trips were cancelled or postponed this year, there is always next year. For James…well, next up is Peru, and it will be amazing!! Today is James’ birthday. Happy birthday James!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My dad, Al Spencer loved trains. I’m sure it all started with his dad’s job as a carpenter on the Great Northern Railway. Dad and his siblings rode the trains to school and such. It was one of the perks of his dad’s job. I know most kids like trains, but I think Dad maybe liked them more than most kids. He grew up around them.

On May 1, 1971, a very exciting event took place, especially for my dad. It was on that day that the Amtrak train was born. It was originally established by the Congressional Rail Passenger Service Act, which consolidated the United State’s existing 20 passenger railroads into one. Of course, most of us know that the Amtrak train has since had a long history…49 years to be exact. Back then the Amtrak train line served 43 states with a total of 21 routes. These days they not only handle traditional interstate passenger rail in 46 states, but they also operate high-speed trains along their busiest route, the Northeast Corridor from Washington DC, to Boston. With more than 500 destinations throughout a 21,000 mile system, Amtrak has grown to 33 routes across America. Nevertheless, the Amtrak train system was always focused on getting from Point A to Point B safely and swiftly, even in 1971.

From the time that first Amtrak rolled out of the station, my Dad was hooked. He knew he wanted to take a trip by way of that train. During the early years of the Amtrak, we heard a lot about it. It wasn’t going to be a trip that we went on as a family, but rather a special trip for Dad and Mom. That trip would finally happen in about 1991, when Mom and Dad took the Amtrak from San Diego to Seattle. My sister, Caryl Reed and her family lived there at the time, and they would spend time visiting with them after the train ride. My dad was so excited!! In fact, he was the epitome of “the kid in the candy shop.” I can see why he would be so excited. After all, he had waited twenty years for that trip. I suppose that prior to that time, he couldn’t think of any reason to take the trip, but when my sister moved to Bremerton, Washington, the time had come. Mom and Dad made many trips to Washington in those years, but that trip on the Amtrak Train really was the most exciting way for them to travel.

I can picture my dad now. Not how he looked. I have a picture of that. No…I can picture how he felt. He was that “kid in the candy store” again. I could picture him feeling like he was back in Superior, Wisconsin, hopping the train, even though he had a pass to ride the train.

Just like cars, planes have blind spots too. It makes sense, and in reality, the blind spots on planes make the blind spots in cars seem so much less significant. It makes no difference really, because during a crash the result is catastrophic. Of course, there is a better chance, in a collision, to survive in a car than a plane. Of course, it depends on how bad the crash was and where, as to what chances there are of survival in car or plane.

On Monday, September 25, 1978, Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA) Flight 182 departed Sacramento for San Diego, with a stop in Los Angeles. Flight 182 was a Boeing 727-214 commercial airliner, registration, N533PS. The seven-person, San Diego-based crew consisted of Captain James McFeron, who was 42; First Officer Robert Fox, who was 38; Flight Engineer Martin Wahne, who was 44; and four flight attendants. The flight from Sacramento to Los Angeles went smoothly. At 8:34am, Flight 182 departed Los Angeles. First Officer Fox was the pilot flying. There were 128 passengers on board, including 29 PSA employees. The weather in San Diego that morning was sunny and clear with 10 miles of visibility. It was an ideal day to fly.

At 8:59 a.m., the approach controller alerted the PSA crew about a small Cessna 172 Skyhawk aircraft nearby. The Cessna was being flown by two licensed pilots. One was Martin Kazy Jr, who was 32. He possessed single-engine, multi-engine, and instrument flight ratings, as well as a commercial certificate and an instrument flight instructor certificate. He had flown a total of 5,137 hours. The other, David Boswell, who was 35. He was a US Marine Corps Sergeant. He possessed single-engine and multi-engine ratings and a commercial certificate. Boswell had flown 407 hours at the time of the accident. He was practicing under Kazy, intent on achieving his instrument rating.

The men in the Cessna had departed from Montgomery Field and were navigating under visual flight rules, which did not require the filing of a flight plan. As is common while learning instrument flying, Boswell was wearing a “hood” to limit his field of vision straight ahead to the cockpit panel, much like an oversized sun visor with vertical panels to block peripheral vision. At the time of the collision, the Cessna 172 light aircraft, registration, N7711G was on the missed approach (in visual meteorological conditions) from Lindbergh’s Runway 9, heading east and climbing. The Cessna was in communication with San Diego approach control. The Cessna came up from below the Boeing 727. The PSA plane failed to keep track of the Cessna, or report losing sight of it when it moved into the blind spot. It was a recipe for disaster. The larger plane virtually ran over the smaller plane over San Diego, California, at 9:01am.

Both aircraft crashed into North Park, a San Diego neighborhood. Flight 182hit a house, and impacted the ground just north of the intersection of Dwight and Nile, killing all 135 people aboard the aircraft and seven people on the ground in houses, including two children. The Cessna impacted on Polk Av between 32nd St and Iowa St killing the two on board. Nine others on the ground were injured and 22 homes were destroyed or damaged by the impact and debris. It was Pacific Southwest Airlines’ first fatal accident.

I always knew that my uncle, George Hushman served in the United States Navy during World War II, but like many of the men who fight in wars, discussing what happened during their deployment is something that few want to talk about. My family spent quite a bit of time with Uncle George and Aunt Evelyn, who was my mom’s sister, and their family, but in all those visits, I never heard my dad, Allen Spencer, or my Uncle George ever talk about their time in the war. In fact, had it not been for an old picture of the two couples going to the Military Ball, I don’t think I would have even known what branch of the military Uncle George was in.

Recently, while researching my family history, I came across some Muster Rolls for the United States Navy, for one USS Gurke. The USS Gurke was a DD Type destroyer whose mission was to provide anti-submarine and anti-surface defense to other surface forces. The Gurke is one of 103 Gearing Class destroyers that were built at 8 different shipyards. It was originally laid down as USS John A. Bole in October of 1944, but was renamed USS Henry Gurke (DD-783) prior to her launching on February 15, 1945 at the Todd-Pacific Shipyards, Inc, in Tacoma, Washington. The ship’s sponsor was Mrs. Julius Gurke, mother of Private Gurke, for whom the ship was named. The destroyer was commissioned 12 May 1945, under the command of Commander Kenneth Loveland. It was to this ship that my Uncle George was assigned beginning May 12, 1945. Prior to that he had been a S2c V6 on the USS LCI (G) 23, which was a transport ship.

On the Gurke, Uncle George had a rating of S1c V6. I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I’m sure that any navy veteran would know. A V6 is a person who volunteered in World War II. As a V6 they had to be discharged by six months after the war was over. An S1c was a seamen first class. So now I knew what my uncle did during the war. Seaman first class was the rank right below a Petty Officer. The Seaman did a variety of jobs onboard the ship and could have worked anywhere on the ship. I suppose it would be a rank similar to the private, or in non-military verbiage, a laborer. That was the rank that many men went into the navy with, but a seaman first class was no longer a trainee. He had been trained to do his duties, and didn’t have to be told.

After a shakedown along the West Coast, the Gurke sailed for the Western Pacific August 27, 1945, reaching Pearl Harbor on September 2nd. From there she continued west to participate in the occupation of Japan and former Japanese possessions. Returning to home port of San Diego, in February 1946, the Gurke participated in training operations until September 4, 1947, when she sailed for another WestPac cruise. Two further WestPac cruises, alternating with operations out of San Diego, and a cruise to Alaska in 1948 aiding the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Yukon gold rush, filled Gurke’s schedule until the outbreak of the Korean War. Of course, I assume that upon Gurke’s return to her home port of San Diego, my uncle was either assigned to another ship, was at home port, or discharged. I am very proud of his service. Today is Uncle George’s 93rd birthday. Happy birthday Uncle George!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My sister, Caryl has lived away from Casper for most of her adult life. Her life has taken her to the San Diego, California area, the Seattle, Washington area, Idaho Falls, Idaho, and finally to Rawlins, Wyoming. While that was probably an adventurous life for her and her family, it was also one whereby she had to spend most of her time away from the rest of her family,  and especially Mom and Dad. I know that is not an unusual thing these days, but in a close knit family, it presents some very emotional situations. Every time Caryl’s family came to visit, or stay for a time while her, then husband Warren, was out to sea in the Navy, we were so excited to see them, but when it came time for them go home, our hearts were torn again. It was an emotional roller coaster, for all of us.

This was especially hard on our parents, as you can imagine. Their little girl was always so far away from them, and as parents, your kids are always your babies. It was hard on them, but it also presented the opportunity to travel to see Caryl and her family, which was the one highlight of the situation. Mom and Dad made many trips to see Caryl and her family, and in return, Caryl and her family took them to see many wonderful sights. It was a great time for all of them. Mom and Dad got a view of those areas that can only really be seen by a local resident to the area. Caryl and her family showed Mom and Dad such great times, and took them on trips that they always remembered.

When Caryl and Warren divorced, she came back here for a time and it was a joyous reunion. When she married Mike and moved to his home in Rawlins, it was sad, but they were much closer than Caryl had ever lived before, so we got to see much more of her and her family. I think that was such a blessing to Mom and Dad, especially during Dad’s last years. They were able to see so much more of Caryl and her family than they had since she was first married as a girl in her twenties.

Soon, Caryl’s life will take another turn, one that seemed so unlikely all those years ago. Caryl and her husband, Mike have bought a piece of land on the west side of Casper, and they plan to fix it up, build a house, and when they retire, they will be moving back to Casper. It is a life that will finally come full circle, and Caryl will again be home. Today is Caryl’s birthday. Happy birthday Caryl!! We are all looking forward to the time when you will be back here with the rest of the family!! We love you!!

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