Tawasa AT-92 - History

Tawasa AT-92 - History

Tawasa
(AT-92: dp. 1,330, 1. 205', b. 38'6", dr. 14'3", s. 16.5
k.; cpl. 85; a. 1 3", 2 40mm.; cl. Bannock)

Tawasa (AT-92) was laid down on 22 June 1942 at Portland, Oreg., by the Commercial Iron Works launched on 22 February 1943 sponsored by Mrs. Thomas F. Sullivan, and commissioned on 17 July 1943, Lt. Fred C. Clark in command.

Tawasa held her shakedown cruise off the lower California coast in late August and returned to Portland. The tug steamed to San Pedro, Calif., in October and departed there on the 20th for Hawaii, towing two fuel oil barges. She arrived at Pearl Harbor on 4 November and was assigned to Service Force, Pacific Fleet. The next day, the tug headed for the Ellice Islands and arrived at Funafuti on the 20th.

Tawasa was routed onward to the Gilbert Islands and arrived on 26 November at Abemama-which, only the day before, had been taken by American marines. On 3 December, she moved to Tarawa. The tug made round trips between Tarawa and Funafuti in December 1943 and January 1944. On 21 January, she stood out of Tarawa and rendezvoused with Task Force (TF) 62, the Southern Attack force, for the invasion of the Marshall Islands. Off Kwajalein Atoll on the 31st, Tawasa took soundings enabling Mississippi (BB-41) to approach the shore for close bombardment. The tug then performed salvage, towing, and screening duty until 18 February when she moved to Eniwetok to assist in the assault that was to strike that atoll the next morning. She supported operations until the atoll was secured and remained in the area for almost two months, providing services to American ships using this new base. Tawa$a departed the Marshalls on 12 April for a tender availability at Pearl Harbor and to have a radar installed.

The tug returned to the Marshalls on 25 May. On 11 June, she was in the transport screen of TF 52, the Northern Attack force, when it sortied for the Mariana Islands. Four days later, she was detached to assist LST's as they landed marines and equipment on Saipan. On 7 July, she got underway for Eniwetok.

Tawasa operated with ServRon 10 from 31 July to 24 August 1944 when she joined ServRon, South Pacific. The ship operated in the South Pacific until 9 May 1946 when she departed Noumea for the United States.

From San Pedro, her home port, she operated along the California coast until returning to Pearl Harbor on 27 December 1946. On 23 February 1947, Tawasa headed for Japan and an eight-month tour at Yokosuka before returning home on 30 October 1947.

The tug headed for Alaska on 15 June 1948 and operated out of Adak until October when she steamed to Guam for four months. She then remained on the west coast until 10 August 1950 when she got underway for a five-month tour in Alaska. During the next decade, her operations on the west coast were broken by seven deployments to the Far East for operations with the 7th Fleet. On the first of these, from 4 June 1952 to 1 March 1953, Tawasa operated with TF 92, the Logistics Support force which supplied United Nations forces in Korea. She also performed services at the Korean ports of Cho Do, Sokcho, and Chinhae.

Tawasa deployed to the western Pacific again from 13 February to 3 July 1962. On 29 December, she took Plaice (SS-390) in tow at San Francisco and delivered the submarine to Pearl Harbor before returning to San Die~o on 1 February 1963. She operated with the 7th Fleet from April to November 1964 and with the Alaskan Sea Frontier from June to September 1965. In December 1965, the tug towed Bunker Hill (AVT-9) from San Francisco to San Diego. This was the largest operational tow made by a tug of the Pacific Fleet— 33,946 tons. She returned to Alaska from 8 February to 1 l April 1967.

Tawasa's next deployment to the western Pacific placed the ship in a combat zone for the third time in her naval career. On 5 February 1968, she stood out of San Diego for San Francisco to pick up YFN-1126 and deliver the covered lighter to Hawaii. She left her charge at Pearl Harbor on the 17th and headed for the Philippine Islands the following week to provide target services for ships at Subic Bay until 13 April when she headed for Vietnam.

Tawasa arrived at Danang on the 17th and departed the next day for special operations that lasted for a month. She returned to Subic Bay on 21 May for a week and then steamed to Sattahip, Thailand, to provide drone services for the Royal Thai Navy. The tug called at Danang on 19 June and began special operations that lasted until 10 July. Upon conclusion of the mission, the tug called at Hong Kong and Yokusuka before returning to San Diego on 26 August. She entered the Campbell Machine Yard there the following month for an overhaul which lasted until 21 January 1969.

On 5 March, Tawasa got underway for the Philippines and Vietnam. She called at Danang and then proceeded to "Yankee Station" for surveillance duty. The ship was relieved on 22 May and sailed, via Hong Kong, for Singapore. However, on 3 June, the tug went to the assistance of Evans (DD-754) which had collided with the Australian aircraft carrier Melbourne. Evans had been cut in two and only the stern section was afloat. Tawasa took the section in tow and returned it to Subic Bay before continuing on her original voyage. She was at Singapore on 16 and 17 June and left for Vung Tau with YF-866 in tow. She dropped off the lighter on the 19th and picked up a repair barge the next day before proceeding, via Subic Bay, to Guam. After returning to Subic Bay on 8 July, Tawasa made two additional voyages to Vung Tau before returning to San Diego on 24 September 1969.

Tawasa was deployed to the western Pacific again from 16 March to 4 October 1970 and from 8 November 1972 to 15 June 1973. In 1971, the tug deployed to Kodiak from July to November to serve as a search and rescue ship.

After returning to San Diego in 1973, Tawasa remained in California waters until 1 April 1975 when she was decommissioned and struck from the Navy list.

Tawasa received three battle stars for World War II service, two for Korea, and seven for Vietnam.


Navy Tenders / Tugs

Throughout history, the tender & tug has been an essential part of the United States Navy military operations. During World War II, these tenders & tugs were the homes to thousands of Navy personnel. Along with personnel, each tender & tug contained thousands of pounds of deadly asbestos. This asbestos was supplied by companies that knew the asbestos was dangerous and knew that, eventually, thousands of servicemen would contract terrible diseases from exposure to this mineral. But the companies chose profit over safety and hid those dangers from the navy and the servicemen.

Asbestos was used frequently for the insulation of pipes, boilers, electrical fixtures and hull construction. It was also used as a fire retardant material in many areas aboard ship, including non-skid flooring on decks and on bulk head walls. The worst areas on the tender & tug were in the fire, pump, and engine rooms where insulation covered the pipes and wiring. Some of the personnel most at risk include boiler tenders, electrician's mates, enginemen, machinist mates, pipefitters, and shipfitters.

Many of the companies that supplied asbestos products to the navy have admitted fault and set up trust funds to compensate navy veterans. If you know someone who has mesothelioma, contact us to learn more about your rights.

Below offers a list of some tenders & tugs that were commissioned between 1940 and 1990 and contained risks of asbestos exposure. Personnel aboard any of these ships or civilians that provided shipyard maintenance, repair or deconstruction may have been at risk of asbestos exposure.


Tawasa Indians

Tawasa Connections. They spoke a dialect belonging to the Timucuan division of the Muskhogean linguistic family, intermediate between Timucua proper and Choctaw, Hitchiti, Alabama, and Apalachee.

Tawasa Location. In 1706-7 in west Florida about the latitude of the junction of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers at an earlier time and again later they were on the Alabama near the present Montgomery. (See also Louisiana.)

I have stated elsewhere (Swanton, 1946, p. 187) that the name of this mission was wanting in the list drawn up in 1656. I should have given the date as 1680.

Tawasa Villages. They usually occupied only one town but Autauga on Autauga Creek in the southeastern part of Autauga County, Alabama, is said to have belonged to them.

Tawasa History. De Soto found the Tawasa near the Montgomery site in 1540. Some time during the next century and a half they moved to the neighborhood of Apalachicola River, but in 1707 they were attacked by the Creeks, who captured some of them, while the greater part fled to the French and were by them given lands near the present Mobile. They occupied several different sites in that neighborhood but in 1717 they moved back to the region where De Soto found them, their main village being in the northwestern suburbs of the present Montgomery. After the Treaty of Fort Jackson in 1814, they were compelled to abandon this place and move into the Creek territories between the Coosa and Talapoosa Rivers, where they remained until the main migration beyond the Mississippi. Previous to this, some of them had gone with other Alabama into Louisiana and they followed their fortunes. The name was remembered by Alabama in Polk County, Texas, until within a few years.

Tawasa Population. The French census of 1760 returned 40 Tawasa men and the Georgia census of 1792 “about 60.” The census of 1832-33 gives 321 Indians in towns called Tawasa and Autauga, but all of these were quite certainly not Tawasa Indians in the strict application of that term. (See Alabama)

Connection in which they have become noted. The Tawasa tribe will be remembered ethnologically on account of the rescue of so much important information regarding the early history of themselves and their neighbors through the captive Indian Lamhatty (in Bushnell, 1908), who made his way into Virginia in 1708, and on account of the still more important vocabulary obtained from him.


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Watch types of container ships | Video

Ships are designed in a variety of ways depending on their uses and applications. The fact that there are so many types shows that maritime transportation would continue to be important for a long time.

The main mode of transportation was ships. People used to go all over the World to conduct trade. New improvements in shipping technology were introduced over time, revolutionizing the concept of marine transport. All constraints, such as time and distance, were reduced by modern technology. Furthermore, the convenience of maritime transportation has greatly improved.

Despite the popularity of air travel and trains as modes of transportation, ships remain the best option for trading. The fundamental reason for this is that ships could transport large amounts of cargo over great distances. Cargo ships come in a variety of sizes and shapes, each with its own set of capabilities. When selecting a ship to transport goods, the scope of use is considered


Second period in commission, 1951�

Recommissioning and early duties

Due to the need to expand the fleet caused by 25 June 1950 outbreak of the Korean War, Apache was recommissioned on 20 July 1951. Following a few months of operations on the U.S. West Coast, she was ordered to the Far East and arrived in Sasebo, Japan, in early December 1951.

Korean War service

On 17 December 1951, Apache sailed to Wonsan, Korea, where she relieved fleet ocean tug USS Yuma (ATF-94) as the area salvage and rescue vessel. Apache also laid buoys in the harbors of Wonsan and Hungnam, Korea, before returning to Sasebo on 4 January 1952.

Apache ' s next mission began on 18 January 1952, when she took station as a patrol ship off Cho Do and Sok To, Korea. She returned to Yokosuka, Japan, on 19 February 1952 for upkeep but was back in Wonsan harbor on 20 March 1952. She took part in several shore-bombardment missions besides serving as a salvage and rescue vessel. On 12 April 1952, she put in at Sasebo briefly for repairs. During the next four weeks, she made several salvage runs to Cheju Do, Korea, before arriving at Sasebo on 12 May 1952 for repairs.

Apache returned to action at Wonsan on 16 June 1952 and served there until returning to Sasebo on 28 June 1952, ending her Korean War service.

Korean War honors and awards

Apache received two battle stars for her Korean War service, for:

  • Second Korean Winter: 19 December 1951 to 4 January 1952 19 January to 18 February 1952 20 March to 13 April 1952 and 26 to 28 April 1952
  • Korean Defense Summer-Fall 1952: 9 to 12 May 1952 16 to 28 June 1952

Peacetime service, 1953�

Apache departed Japan on 2 July 1952 and headed for Pearl Harbor. But for a tow to Kwajalein and one to Midway Atoll, Apache remained in Hawaiian waters until 4 May 1953, when she departed for Seattle, Washington, where she picked up a tow. She then proceeded to San Diego. She worked along the California coast until mid-July 1953, when she headed for the Western Pacific. She served there through the end of 1954, performing various missions at Guam, Kwajalein, Eniwetok, Bikini Atoll, and the Philippines.

In January 1955, Apache returned to the U.S. West Coast, reaching San Francisco on 14 January 1955. However, she got underway for the Far East on 17 March 1955, reached Yokosuka on 21 May 1955, and began operations with Naval Forces, Far East. Although her home port was changed to San Diego in January 1956, she remained in the Western Pacific through early 1960, serving as a tow ship and occasionally taking part in search and rescue missions.

Early in 1960, Apache returned to San Diego for a six-month overhaul. Then, in December 1960, after several months of service at San Diego, she headed back toward the Western Pacific. She paused at Pearl Harbor and Guam before reaching Sasebo in February 1961. Shortly thereafter, she shifted to Subic Bay at Luzon in the Philippines, and operated from that base into April 1961, when she departed for Kwajalein and Pearl Harbor. On 11 May 1961, she left Hawaii and proceeded to San Diego. Through the rest of 1961 and early 1962, Apache once again conducted coastal towing operations along the U.S. West Coast.

On 7 May 1962, Apache entered the Campbell Machine Company shipyard at San Diego for overhaul and remained there until 18 July 1962, when she commenced refresher training. In early September 1962, she got underway for the Far East. During her tour there, she served in the Philippines, at Okinawa, at Hong Kong, and in Japan before departing Sasebo on 6 January 1963 and setting a course for Pearl Harbor. She proceeded from there to San Diego and spent the next few months in post-deployment standdown and local operations.

Apache continued her pattern of U.S. West Coast operations and Western Pacific deployments during 1964 and 1965.

Vietnam War service

Late in 1965, Apache made her first Western Pacific cruise involving Vietnam War service which began with U.S. Seventh Fleet operations on Yankee Station off the Vietnamese coast. In early February 1966, she escorted the destroyer USS   Brinkley Bass to Subic Bay following Brinkley Bass ' s collision with guided-missile destroyer USS   Waddell in the South China Sea.

After brief service at Da Nang, South Vietnam, Apache proceeded to Hong Kong and Kaohsiung, Taiwan, for rest and recreation. She next carried out one more tow from Subic Bay to Da Nang before leaving Vietnam on 4 March 1966 and heading home. The tug stopped en route at Pearl Harbor before reaching San Diego on 1 April 1966.

Vietnam War honors and awards

Apache received one campaign star for her Vietnam War service, for:

She also received a Navy Unit Commendation and a Meritorious Unit Commendation for her service in the Vietnam War.

Support to bathyscaphe Trieste II and other duties, 1966�

Apache operated along the California coast through the rest of 1966 and the first eight months of 1967. In September 1967, she was reassigned to Submarine Flotilla 1 to support the operations of the bathyscaphe Trieste II. Apache ' s new role involved towing the bathyscaphe whenever required.

On 23 October 1967, Apache began a series of tests and trials off San Clemente Island, California, in conjunction with Trieste II.Apache devoted January and February 1968 to providing services for Fleet Training Group, San Diego, but in early March 1968 she resumed her duties with Trieste II.

Apache moored ahead of auxiliary repair dock USS White Sands (ARD-20), carrying the bathyscaphe Trieste II, at the Panama Canal Zone ca. 28 February 1969. Apache was towing White Sands to the Atlantic to employ Trieste II in a search for the sunken nuclear submarine USS Scorpion (SSN-589) off the Azores.

On 3 February 1969, Apache got underway from San Diego towing the auxiliary repair dock USS White Sands (ARD-20), which was carrying Trieste II, bound for the Atlantic to employ Trieste II in investigating the 1968 loss of the nuclear submarine USS Scorpion (SSN-589). They reached the Azores on 21 May 1969, where they were joined by the high-speed transport USS Ruchamkin (APD-89), which had been assigned to support them. From 2 June 1969 until 2 August 1969, Apache, White Sands, and Ruchamkin maintained station near Trieste II while the bathyscaphe investigated the remains of Scorpion.

On 7 August 1969, Apache took White Sands, again carrying Trieste II, under tow and, parting company with Ruchamkin, began the long voyage back to San Diego, which they reached on 7 October 1969. Upon her return, Apache began preparations for an extensive overhaul, and she entered the yards at San Diego on 15 December 1969.

After this work was completed in mid-April 1970, Apache held refresher training until late June 1970 and then carried out local operations through 25 September 1970, when she got underway for Panama to escort the submarine USS Dolphin (AGSS-55) back to San Diego. In January 1971, Apache resumed operations with Trieste II.

Apache left San Diego on 5 October 1971 for a series of special operations in the Pearl Harbor area which continued until early May 1972. On 23 May 1972, Apache arrived back at San Diego.

Apache Tuesday 13 December 1972 The Apache celebrated its 30 Birthday. There was a party at the EL Cortez Hotel in San Diego, CA.

Apache got underway once again in June 1972 and alternated salvage operations with towing services for Trieste II. She continued this routine through March 1973 when she began a repair period at San Diego. Several material casualties prolonged the work, and Apache did not leave the shipyard until 21 May 1973, when she sailed with Trieste II for waters off the coast of San Francisco to take part in Operation Teleprobe. However, bad weather postponed the operation, and Apache sustained further damage which forced her to return to San Diego on 23 June 1973 for three weeks of repair work.

Apache arrived in San Francisco on 18 July 1973 and, on 20 July 1973, got underway for Hawaiian waters to resume Operation Teleprobe. The operation was successfully completed on 30 July 1973, and Apache arrived back in San Diego on 8 August 1973 for more local operations.

Apache made her last tow as an active U.S. Navy ship on 31 January 1974, when she delivered the frigate USS Sterett (DLG-31) to Long Beach, California.


Women's history pioneer Gerda Lerner dies at 92

By Dinesh Ramde
Published January 4, 2013 1:34PM (EST)

(AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, Sarah B. Tews)

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MILWAUKEE (AP) — Gerda Lerner spent her 18th birthday in a Nazi prison, sharing a cell with two gentile women arrested for political work who shared their food with the Jewish teenager because jailers restricted rations for Jews.

Lerner would say years later that the women taught her during those six weeks how to survive and that the experience taught her how society can manipulate people. It was a lesson that the women's history pioneer, who died Wednesday at age 92, said she saw reinforced in American academia by history professors who taught as though only the men were worth studying.

"When I was faced with noticing that half the population has no history and I was told that that's normal, I was able to resist the pressure" to accept that conclusion, Lerner told the Wisconsin Academic Review in 2002.

The author was a founding member of the National Organization for Women and is credited with creating the nation's first graduate program in women's history, in the 1970s in New York.

Her son said she died peacefully of apparent old age at an assisted-living facility in Madison, where she helped establish a doctoral program in women's history at the University of Wisconsin.

"She was always a very strong-willed and opinionated woman," her son, Dan Lerner, told The Associated Press late Thursday. "I think those are the hallmarks of great people, people that have strong points of view and firmly held convictions."

She was born into a privileged Jewish family in Vienna, Austria, in 1920. When the Nazis rose to power, she was imprisoned alongside the two other young women.

"They taught me how to survive," Lerner wrote in "Fireweed: a Political Autobiography." ''Everything I needed to get through the rest of my life I learned in jail in those six weeks."

She became impassioned about the issue of gender equality. As a professor at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y., she founded a women's studies program — including the first graduate program in women's history in the U.S.

She later moved to Madison, where she helped establish a doctoral program in women's history at the University of Wisconsin.

Her daughter, Stephanie Lerner, said her mother earned a reputation as a no-nonsense professor who held her students to rigorous standards that some may not have appreciated at the time. One former student wrote to Gerda Lerner 30 years later saying no one had been more influential in her life.

"She said, 'I thought you were impossible, difficult, not understanding, but you gave me a model of commitment that I've never had before,'" Stephanie Lerner recalled. "That's just how she was."

Even as Gerda Lerner held others to high standards, she took no shortcuts herself. For example, Stephanie Lerner said her mother loved hiking in the mountains, even as she got older and her mobility was challenged.

Stephanie Lerner recalled one particular hike with her mother about 30 years ago on a steamy California day. Stephanie Lerner brought a light day-pack, but Gerda Lerner toted a hefty 50-pound sack because she wanted to train for future hikes.

"I was much younger and very in shape. But at a certain point I said I couldn't do it anymore," Stephanie Lerner said. "She just went on ahead. That was her joy, her determination."

Gerda Lerner wrote several textbooks on women's history, including "The Creation of Patriarchy" and "The Creation of Feminist Consciousness." She also edited "Black Women in White America," one of the first books to document the struggles and contributions of black women in American history.

She married Carl Lerner, a respected film editor, in 1941. They lived in Hollywood for a few years before returning to New York.

The couple was involved in activism that ranged from attempting to unionize the film industry to working in the civil rights movement.

When asked how she developed such a strong sense of justice and fairness, she told the Wisconsin Academy Review that the feeling started in childhood. She recalled watching her mother drop items on the floor and walk away, leaving servants to clean up her mess.

"I wanted the world to be a just and fair place, and it obviously wasn't — and that disturbed me right from the beginning," she said.

She became determined to fight for equality, and she encouraged others to take up their own fights against inequality. She said people who want to change the world don't need to be part of a large organized group — they just have to find a cause they believe in and never stop fighting for it.

She credited that philosophy for helping her remain happy despite the horrors she lived through as a young woman.

"I am happy because I found the balance between adjusting, or surviving what I was put through, and acting for what I believed in," she said in 2002. "That's the key."


Bill Steinkraus, Equestrian Who Made Olympic History, Dies at 92

Bill Steinkraus, one of America’s most celebrated horse-show riders and the country’s first to win an Olympic individual gold medal in any equestrian discipline, died on Nov. 29 at his home in the Noroton section of Darien, Conn. He was 92.

His death was announced on Thursday by the United States Equestrian Team Foundation.

Widely considered one of the greatest riders in the history of equestrian sports, Steinkraus made all six United States Olympic teams from 1952 through 1972, missing only the 1964 Games in Tokyo when his horse pulled up lame at the last moment.

He won his record-making Olympic individual gold medal, in show jumping, in Mexico City in 1968. He also won team silver medals in Rome in 1960 and in Munich in 1972, and a team bronze in 1952 at Helsinki. His American team finished fifth in 1956 in Stockholm.

His gold medal came aboard Snowbound, a strong-willed 9-year-old gelding. “I like to think of him as sort of a George Bernard Shaw horse,” Steinkraus told The New York Times. “He has his own opinion about everything.”

Through his feats in the Olympics and in other international events, Steinkraus, a Yale graduate and an accomplished violinist, drew admirers from around the world.

“American riders respected him for his horsemanship, and the Europeans were surprised that someone as cultured, educated and intelligent could be an American rider,” Bertalan de Nemethy, the longtime coach of the United States team and himself an elegant former Hungarian cavalry officer, once said.

William Clark Steinkraus was born on Oct. 12, 1925, in Cleveland and grew up in Westport, Conn. He started riding at 9 in a summer camp in Canada and rode in his first National Horse Show at 12, in a junior class.

A student of the renowned trainers Gordon Wright and Morton W. Smith, he went on to win junior titles as a teenager before enrolling at Yale.

Steinkraus interrupted his studies for Army service during World War II. He rode in Burma (now Myanmar) with the Army’s last mounted regiment and helped reopen the Burma Road, an important supply route for Allied forces. After the war, he returned to Yale and graduated.

The Army’s cavalry supplied all of the American equestrian riders who competed internationally until the regiment was disbanded in the early postwar years. The United States Equestrian Team was formed in 1950, and Steinkraus was named to the team in 1951.

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He rode for the team for 22 years, 17 as captain, before retiring from international competition in 1972. He was elected team president in 1973, chairman in 1983 and chairman emeritus in 1992.

In 1960 Steinkraus married Helen Ziegler, a granddaughter of the 19th-century industrialist William Ziegler, who established a sprawling estate called Great Island in Noroton, connected to the community by a land bridge. She and Steinkraus and their family lived there for many years. (The estate was in the news in 2016 when it was put on the market for $175 million.)

Ms. Steinkraus, a former cancer research assistant at the Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York, was a sportswoman, known as Sis, who raced sailboats, skied, hunted game and took up dressage, becoming an accomplished rider in competition and later an international judge. She died in 2012.

Steinkraus is survived by their three sons, Eric, Philip and Edward.

When not riding, Steinkraus was an editor in book publishing in New York and wrote several books on the sport, notably “Reflections on Riding and Jumping: Winning Techniques for Serious Riders,” published by Doubleday in 1991. He also wrote for the authoritative magazine Chronicle of the Horse.

Besides playing the violin, Steinkraus was an expert on old books and antique furniture. After he retired from competition, he was a television commentator for four Olympics and then an Olympic judge.

He also served as chairman of the International Equestrian Federation’s World Cup jumping committee for 10 years and as a director of the American Horse Shows Association for more than 40 years. He was inducted into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame, in Lexington, Ky., in 1987.

When he retired from international competition, commercial sponsorship and prize money was just starting to come in. “We don’t know whether, 50 years hence, we’ll say that was the beginning of the end, or that was the beginning of the beginning,” he said.

One contemporary rider (and later a trainer and judge), George H. Morris, called him “the man who epitomized style on horseback.” Another, Hugh Wiley, said: “He would think through a riding problem and always come up with an intelligent answer. After riding, he usually played his fiddle, read The Wall Street Journal or went to the opera.”

For all his Olympic medals, Steinkraus was quick to credit his horses, including Hollandia in Helsinki, Main Spring in Munich and Riviera Wonder in Rome, in addition to Snowbound in Mexico City. Success in competition, he insisted, depended on the relationship between rider and mount.

“A good horseman must be a good psychologist,” he told Life magazine in 1968. “Horses are young, childish individuals. When you train them, they respond to the environment you create. You are the parent, manager and educator. You can be tender or brutal. But the goal is to develop the horse’s confidence in you to the point he’d think he could clear a building if you headed him for it.”

Indeed, in the equation of rider and horse, Steinkraus placed greater importance on the latter.

“In this sport,” he said, “the horse is more the athlete. He’s the body and you’re the brain. When you need a new body, you get one.”


Old Lions Department: Architectural Historian Albert Schmidt at 92

The historian who lived a long life is working on a long article—a monograph, perhaps, about city planning and urbanism in provincial Russia, finding and shaping Catherine the Great’s imperial urban space. Born in 1925, Albert Schmidt calls himself a workaholic, and insists he always has been, but he tries to have fun too.

An emeritus professor of history and law at the University of Bridgeport and Quinnipiac University’s School of Law, Schmidt has written about Russian architectural history and town planning, Soviet law, and English legal history.

Since retirement, he was a docent at the National Portrait Gallery for fifteen years and he volunteered at the League of Women Voters Lobby Corps for seventeen, lobbying for various kinds of legislation. He was docent at historic houses and architecture tours for about ten years at the Decatur House in Lafayette Square and Heurich House (the DC Historical Society) near DuPont Square.

He has been in retirement nearly as long as he’s worked —at 92 years of age, this is an understandable parallel. His first job was at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and he moved to Connecticut in 1965. He retired in 1990 and moved to Washington D.C. with his wife of 67 years, Kathryn. He became attracted to the capital because it seemed like a great place for retirement.

Schmidt met his wife at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. “My home was Louisville, Kentucky. I went across the river to Indiana and she was from Cincinnati, right up the river from me. We met at DePauw and dated, nearly broke up, patched things up, married in 1951 and here we are, 67 years later. Happy ending, huh?”

He continued: “We bought a house in Mount Pleasant on Hobart Street in 1979 when property was still fairly cheap. Part of the front door was boarded up from the post-Martin Luther King riots that had occurred in the neighborhood.” They rented the basement apartment for eleven years, and on schedule, when Schmidt retired, he stayed there for ten years. When he could not easily negotiate the stairs, they moved to a co-op in Cleveland Park, the Broadmoor on Porter and Connecticut. It was on the list of James Goode’s Best Addresses: A Century of Washington’s Distinguished Apartment Houses.

“It’s a nice little place,” said Schmidt. “We’re not native Washingtonians by a long shot but we’ve been here since 1990 so we knew our way around. I used to drive but I no longer can. I’ve got neuropathy and can’t tell where my feet are going so I use a walker.”

When he was able to be more physically active, Schmidt enjoyed lobbying for the League of Women Voters. “I do try to keep up with current politics I’m not a political animal to the extent that I’ve been involved as a politician myself, but I’ve always worked for someone,” he said.

In Connecticut, he and his wife lived next door to Leonard Bernstein, with whom he worked with on a gubernatorial campaign. Bernstein’s home was very spacious and Schmidt’s wasn’t, so Bernstein opened his for fundraising purposes. Schmidt managed elections in 1997, 1998, and 2000 in Bosnia and Kosovo, so he has stayed involved in politics. “My wife’s even more a political animal than I,” especially for DC voting rights in Congress earlier this decade.

“I wasn’t sure I ever was going to college. The 1930s were hard for my family but that which was the source of agony for so many families was a blessing for me, namely being in World War II,” said Schmidt. He used the GI Bill and though he lost some of his best friends in the war, for him, it gave him a free education—all the way to the doctorate, he said. “I’d never thought I’d get a doctorate, I thought I was going to be a bookkeeper. Instead of taking foreign languages in high school, I took six semesters of bookkeeping and accounting. I was awarded a scholarship for college which took care of my tuition and I waited tables at sorority houses and that gave me my board, and I saved my GI Bill until graduate school and that led me all the way to the doctorate —it was very unforeseen.”

He wrote a memoir of his life that attempts to list the various activities of every year. “I started ten years before I was born. Born in 1925, I went back to 1914. My family knew many WW1 veterans, and I thought that was a good idea because of the association.”

As visiting scholar at George Washington University, he receives library privileges and attends seminars at the Institute for European, Russian, Eurasian Studies. He once went to Ukraine to lecture for a month under GW’s auspices. He’s frequently attended events at the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center. “Every Monday, there is a Washington DC history seminar there — I used to attend regularly, but I don’t negotiate the Metro any longer. My walking’s so bad, I don’t want to take any chances. I formerly took the Metro all the time.”

The Cold War International History Project (CWIHP) at the Wilson Center even has an internship named after him. He once taught a course at GW, “but I’ve really been retired since 1990,” said Schmidt.

His daily schedule is as such: He gets up early in the retirement home where he lives and starts working at 5:30-6:00 AM on his research papers. Sometimes, he doesn’t work. “I do miss water aerobics. I exercise twice a day here. In the morning in a class and in the afternoon, usually on an elliptical machine or walking.”

THE AMERICAN WITH THE FROZEN BEARD IN RUSSIA

When Schmidt was in the Soviet Union for the first time—for the longest stretch—he lived at Moscow University. He went to the U.S. Embassy and used the commissary there to do shopping and he did his own cooking. “I bought good stuff,” said Schmidt.

For a Sunday meal, he’d go to a hotel. “It was expensive and wasn’t great. I like Russian food. If you go to the Russian Tea Room in Manhattan, it’s good, but my Soviet dining wasn’t that. In Britain, I could eat fish and chips but I’ve never spent a lot going to expensive places. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in The Netherlands because one of the great libraries in Soviet law was in Leiden. I’d been there for weeks at a time and I liked the restaurants.”

Schmidt’s favorite period is Old Russia, mainly the eighteenth century. “Peter and Catherine were really transformative figures. Catherine’s intent was, in part, to Europeanize Russia and she was very successful in many ways in doing so. The Soviets tried to minimize her achievements because anything that Imperial Russia did was unacceptable to them, but they became much more generous, eventually. My PhD was in English history but I went back to Indiana University in the early Sixties and studied Russian Eastern European history and related subjects and then travelled in the Soviet Union for six months and Eastern Europe in 1962-63 and I went a number of times after that to either Russia or the Ukraine in ‘98. I have not done any archival work in Russian history —I’ve done archival work in English history, but not Russian. For the most part, I donated my Russian library to Hillwood Museum it’s called the Marjorie Merriweather Post residence. It’s near Cleveland Park and is a magnificent place, and there is a library. Because of the aesthetic aspects, much of the library consists of works of Russian art, but they have almost nothing on Russian architecture,” said Schmidt.

Schmidt wrote a book about architecture and the planning of classical Moscow and donated all of the books on Moscow to this museum. “Now I’m working on provincial Russia, where there’s nothing more to do! I might start a new field,” joked Schmidt.

Classical Russia is a reference to the architectural style, the style generally of the art. Provincial Russia is a geographical term. In other words, there is provincial classicism and there’s Moscow classicism. Around Moscow, that’s the area Schmidt knows best.

He has been to the Caucasus but he’s never been to Eastern Siberia or to Central Asia, although he has been to North Russia —Archangel, way north. “Not in the winter though. It can get so bloody cold. Experienced forty below in Leningrad once,” reminisced Schmidt. He usually has a much thicker beard than when we spoke, which he said was frozen “and I’ve had ice all over my beard.”

Schmidt didn’t always just deal with architectural history. About midway in his career, he became involved in Soviet law. In the early ‘70s, he went into college administration, and had been a chair of the history department at the University of Bridgeport for a number of years. Those were good years, he said, and he had reasonable success. He became Dean and eventually Vice President of the university.

“But that didn’t work out too well. Times got hard and the president expected more of me than I could deliver so our relationship became fairly tense, and finally, I resigned from the administrative post to go back to teaching. The dean of the law school was very appreciative of what I’d done as an administrator and offered me a post teaching Soviet law. I told him that I had no knowledge of legal education. How can I possibly do that?’”

The dean said, “translate your Russian history into Soviet law, translate your English history into English common law, and your European history into European legal history.” For Schmidt, that was easier said than done, but he agreed, and in the late early ‘80s, he worked hard to become a legal historian and received a grant to go to NYU law school for a year, “just for exposure to legal education.”

He then became acquainted with a whole cast of Soviet legal scholars and “built almost a whole new career” in the ‘80s by teaching part-time law school and part-time college liberal arts. “That’s where I ended up —I try to publish whatever I do. Now I’ve gone back to Russian architectural history,” said Schmidt.

He did Soviet law tours to Russia which he described as all right, but the one trip that he truly anticipated was one where they’d take a group of students to Central Asia as well as European Russia, but then Chernobyl happened and Schmidt’s tour “melted away” —people withdrew from it. That was his last attempt to see Central Asia.

“What was really new to me. we know Soviet laws or the lack thereof by the high handedness of Soviet leaders, and while there may be a legal basis —Stalin, Khrushchev, and others had been very lax in being faithful to what a legal system’s supposed to do — bestow justice. However, civil law is not so bad. Tort law and contract law —these are all pretty good, well-organized, and that was interesting. Law under Gorbachev, especially.”

Schmidt also became involved with an international group of Soviet law scholars and liked their company he in turn did follow a path that most of them did not follow, mainly historic preservation law. Since Schmidt was knowledgeable about the architecture, he figured he could transfer his knowledge into preservation law. He published some articles in that area. He was also was very impressed by the relationship between Soviet and German civil law.

“The structure was similar, except the Russians added the socialist dimension to it. I published in that area too. I tried to publish because I didn’t want to be simply a parasite but I never achieved the kind of expertise many of the people in that field have. Jack of all trades, master of none, that pretty much sums it up.”

It was an unexpected change of career directions in the late 1970s, spurned by his tense relationship with the president of the university. Schmidt’s wife Kathryn was a librarian in the high school system in Westport, Connecticut —Connecticut’s “gold coast.” It was a good high school, he said, and she and a group of faculty were invited to go to the Hebrew University in Jerusalem for a six-week summer program, and Schmidt was “stuck with that job as vice president.”

When he resigned from his post, he accompanied her to Israel. “I do try to have a project whenever I do something and my project then was to go to West Bank University—Birzeit, near Ramallah. Birzeit was probably the best of the West Bank universities, and I went to the University of Bethlehem and Najah University in Nablus, Palestine. I wrote an article on these Arab West Bank universities after I got back. That was my project in Israel but I’ve enjoyed Israel very much, and I got an award: ‘best participating non-participant.’ I had no business there, and what I did do was try to bring faculty and students from these Arab universities to the Hebrew University for a gathering and it was sort of fun because most had never met their opposites. It was quite an experience!”

On how Russians compared to the Arabs and Israelis during his time there, Schmidt heard about a number of Israelis who had a Soviet experience themselves they were refugees in relatively early ‘78. “I must say though, the situation—bad as it was then—it’s not as bad as it is now. Certainly, this was before much of the violence between sides that has occurred since. For example, Hebron, which has been a place of violence since the late ‘20s —we went there and it still wasn’t as bad as it became.”

Schmidt did take a trip up the length of Gaza to the Egyptian border, and he also went to ancient Saint Catherine’s monastery in Sinai when it was still under Israeli control. These exciting diversions may have ended up sapping some of his scholarship, “I guess you could say.”

Amongst his other diversions, Schmidt travelled to Latin America and visited Machu Picchu, Peru when it was springtime.” The funniest thing about the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, he said, was when he was in a whale tour group and they bore witness to a ridiculous mating ritual on top of a rock. One of the huge tortoises mounted a boulder and thought it was a female.

INNOVATIVE PROGRAMS IN THE 60S

One of the main things that Schmidt considers to be one of his important accomplishments was during the Sixties “when there was a real largesse of funding from the federal government, something not seen these days, and it all went for education. To a considerable extent, it was because Russia had launched the Sputnik. That was their first venture to space and it meant for as far as the U.S. was concerned that they were ahead of us in rocketry and space exploration.”

Sputnik occurred in the late ‘50s and so Congress passed the National Defense Education Act (NDEA) which allowed for the study of advanced technologies and also crucial foreign languages that would prove useful. In 1952–53, Schmidt had had a Fulbright scholarship to Britain to get his doctorate but this was his second big grant, an NDEA one, which provided for his going to Indiana University to study Russian languages, and then a third one was when he was teaching. He had applied for and was awarded a grant to establish an Institute for non-Western history as a faculty member of the University of Bridgeport.

“I say ‘I’ but I have to be careful not to make this too personal, but obviously the people who were at Bridgeport in the history department when I came there thought only in terms of U.S. history and European history, and they gave me carte blanche to hire new faculty. I hired people in areas that were not usually represented. In other words, I wanted to hire an Africanist, a Middle Easternist, a South Asia (India/Pakistan) specialist, and I wanted to hire an East Asian/China/Japan specialist.”

“In any case,” he went on, “I did obtain permission to hire an Africanist who happened to be a specialist in the Middle East too and I hired a South Asianist and a Latin American historian, and for a time, Bridgeport had a unique history department. When I applied for these institutes to bring non-specialists in for summer programs, I had the faculty to back up my proposals.”

In 1967, 68, 69, and 70, Schmidt obtained funding from the institutes in what they then termed non-Western history “because they had this faculty that was interested in teaching in the summer, but the participants were from high school —even elementary school teachers for programs in those areas. We made the program especially attractive because we offered a Master’s Degree if you accumulated enough credits. They would do that through attending classes during the year, not funded by the grant. In the summer, these people got scholarships.”

During the rest of the year, students had to pay their own way. They offered a Master’s program that gave them access to all of those exotic areas. “It was really a good deal for everybody concerned. In ‘67–68, normal ‘69, it was a two-year deal. Those who were awarded the scholarship came one year to Bridgeport and the next year they went to India —they saw a lot of India. The only trouble was, summer in India is no picnic. It’s dreadfully hot. In the summer of 1969, I had to go to India to contact all the places where we were going to send our students and work out arrangements. I did that for about six weeks and I travelled through almost the entire subcontinent of India. It was fantastic. It was an around the world trip I came one way and went back the other. I came back through Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.”

Schmidt found these educational excursions to be very interesting and useful, not just for the students, but for him. He still hears from the school teachers he worked with, many of whom are retired now.

“This was an eye opener for many of these people who had never been beyond their school district but we don’t do that in education anymore. They were given a stipend for going to summer school —that was pretty liberal.”

Schmidt’s own history has largely been one of moving in a variety of areas instead of concentrating on one. He had a stint in administration and different fields of history, and he tried to publish in any field that he taught.

AN OLD PRACTITIONER REMEMBERS THE EXCITING DAYS

Schmidt has always been enchanted by the visual remains of an earlier period when he studies history. When he went to Italy, Schmidt was still working on a dissertation in Tudor-Stuart English history. He was still spellbound by Venice and Florence and how Venice of today hasn’t changed very drastically from the Venice of five hundred years ago.

He went to Indiana University in the early ‘60s, had his first sabbatical from Coe College in Iowa and they said, “What do you want to do?” First, he was at Indiana university for a calendar year from September of ‘60 to July or August of ‘61 and he took three years of Russian language and began to have some competence in reading and speaking Russian. Then he took related courses: Russian literature, Soviet economics, eastern European history (because he became interested in eastern Europe in 1956 with the Hungarian revolution and he lectured publicly on Hungary and European history, using the stipend that he received from those lectures to bring a Hungarian revolutionary youth to the college).

He was especially intrigued with Czechoslovakia, since Cedar Rapids has a large population of Czechs, and there is a considerable amount of Polish history there as well. Self critical about his knowledge of European history, Schmidt went to Indiana and took a course in Balkan history. He came to know the head of the Eastern European program, Robert Byrnes, who was very helpful to Schmidt, understanding what Schmidt was trying to do —he was trying to establish himself in another field entirely.

“He drew me aside once, and said, ‘How would you like to go to Russia for a year?’ Now this was 1960 and that was sort of an exciting thing because it was just beginning to open up—it was the time of De-Stalinization. Khrushchev was trying to erase the Stalinist, negative image and he opened it to scholars, and I was in the second group of scholars to go to the Soviet Union in 1961-62. I eventually toured the country and I even tried hitchhiking. That was sort of a daring thing to do, wasn’t it? At that time, my spoken Russian went pretty well I had taken an intensive course on Russian language during the year so I handled spoken Russian reasonably well by the end of it. Then I was asked, ‘what are you going to study?’ and I thought, ‘my God, if I’m going to Russia, I wanted to get an idea of Russian cities, the image of Old Russia.’ That’s what I did, I worked with the books I collected there in Russian architectural history and there weren’t many people in this country who were involved in that so I collected a library which I’m still using.”

“Now since then, there are a number of younger scholars—they’re not young anymore, they’re younger than I—so the field is more populated, but I’m one of the oldest practitioners in the field in this country and so that’s what I went over to work at. I found a mentor in one of my faculty members at a University in Leningrad. Most of the scholars I found in Russia were not very helpful.I think they thought that I was too uninformed, didn’t know enough about this subject, so why should I be wasting their time?

“To some extent, my language was not great but it was good enough. I never had any trouble dealing with people along the street, but as a specialist, it wasn’t really great. One professor became my mentor,I dedicated my article to him, his name was Vladimir I. Piliavsky. He was very helpful, and we struck a bargain. I would send him books on American architecture and he would send me books on Russian architecture. Some years later, my wife joined me in Russia on a visit and he invited us to dine at their home in Leningrad.”

“He is long since deceased, having died in the 1980s, but I enjoyed all this and there were some Russians who treated me royally but there were some who were very disdainful of me. On the other hand, I was high in my praise of aspects of their art, and that pleased them. I was really impressed the classical art which we have here which is so abundant —Mount Vernon, the Federal Triangle, columns, domes and the like, in our capital, are all a part of the neoclassical style, and I didn’t realize that it was so pervasive in Russia, and that goes back to Catherine the Great in the late eighteenth century. I had a genuine interest it was something I could connect with because of my background in Western art style.”

“Just as I became impressed with the images I see, like when I went to France or Britain—to Mont-Saint-Michel, or London’s Wren churches, St. Paul’s Cathedral. I became intrigued and when I went to Russia and saw its landmarks. What I’m trying to do in the present paper is show that there was a very extended interest in classicism in Russian architectural history which isn’t much talked about, especially provincial architecture, and the cities are probably not even very well known. I did travel to many of them.”

The best days as a historian, Schmidt said, is “when I discover something or when I get an idea that is meaningful. Once I came upon the archives of an eighteenth century British law firm deposited in what had been the Lincolnshire county jail. This was in 1984, and I thought, this is a story of a county law firm B. Smith + Co. as it functioned. It was a good discovery but there was nothing personal about it, I knew nothing about the people nor how it would be a readable piece. Then one day I learned there was a retired partner, one Harry Bowden, in the law firm, still living.”

“I notified him that I was a historian and interested in the papers which he himself had deposited in the county archives located in the jail, and he said, ‘why don’t we have lunch?’ We did have lunch and it was then that I learned that he had the diaries of the principal, Benj Smith II, in this law firm from 1796 until 1858. They were daily diaries —I wrote a number of articles dealing with the personalities in the law firm and what they did, especially when I matched the diaries with the records in the jail.”

“While this was truly exciting, the law firm story became more so as that, but after Harry Bowden died. I was contacted by members of the Gould-Smith family of an early principal of the law firm named Benj. Smith. They had not been in touch with this man who was the last partner, Harry Bowden, in the law firm. They wanted to know what I could tell them about their family and the role of Smith II in the law firm. I was able to become virtually a member of the family because they knew far less than I did. We are still very close.”

MEMORIES FROM WORLD WAR II

When World War II ended in 1945, Schmidt was stationed in the Philippines in Manila. He served as a radio operator and supported air-sea rescue operations. He hadn’t had enough time in the Philippines or in service even to expect to be discharged very quickly. “I wanted to do something that would be interesting instead of just booze around, I wasn’t much of a boozer anyway.”

The high school he attended in Louisville was Louisville Boys High where there was a junior ROTC unit. He was in the Army Air Force and did basic training in Texas, and then I went to MacDill Field in Florida. He completed radio training at Scott Field, Illinois, outside St. Louis, and went overseas to New Guinea and the Philippines. Until he went into the service in March of 1943, Schmidt hadn’t travelled anywhere.

After the war ended in September 1945, Schmidt learned that an American military tribunal was going to try the Japanese generals in a war crimes trial in Manila. One was Tomoyuki Yamashita, the Japanese general in charge of troops in Manila who had committed many atrocities, but he was also a famous general because it was he who in 1942 had conquered Singapore from the British and was highly regarded by most of the Japanese generals. Afterwards he had a falling out with his commanders.

Schmidt went to another trial, this time of General Masaharu Homma, who was a commander of the Japanese troops in the Bataan Death March (1942), “which was the greatest atrocity, I suppose, committed by the Japanese against American troops.” Schmidt went into Manila from Clark Field and he sat in every portion of both trials. Then a half century later, he taught both trials when a professor in law school.

For Schmidt, that series of trials was a thrill to have been there and to have taught them later on as a professor. There was a book published in 2015 called Yamashita’s Ghost: War Crimes, MacArthur's Justice, and Command Accountability by Allan A. Ryan and it contained illustrations and photographs of the courtroom where Yamashita was being tried in Manila and a surprised Schmidt found his picture in it —he had been unaware that such a picture existed.

He was also an intern at the United Nations in Lake Success, NY, in the summer of 1950 which was when the Korean War began. “The Korean War was different than any other war. It was not a war of the U.S. versus North Korea, it was technically a war of the UN versus North Korea, because the Soviets had walked out of the Security Council and therefore they were not there to exercise their veto the way they normally did. When President Truman decided to intervene in Korea, it wasn’t a U.S. operation, it was a UN operation, and we really screwed the Russians because they were trying to pin intervention on us but we were just part of a UN operation,” said Schmidt.

“The Soviet delegate, a man by the name of Yakov Malik, came back to the UN and there was a huge furor about what the Soviets were going to do once they got back to the UN. The demand for tickets to go to the Security Council was enormous —there were 20,000 requests for room in this council chamber that held about 800 people. I was working there as an intern that summer and I really wanted to witness the Soviet’s return I knew that the security council layout —a circular room within a circular hall around it. When the time came for the Soviet delegate to return, I walked that hall, trying to find a way to get in, but there were guards at every door. When I passed the door to the main entrance, a guard called for more chairs and I knew where to find them, so I got a chair and walked through the door with the chair and sat right next to the South Korean delegate. I sat there in the whole event. That was my triumphant moment!”

“Of course, the Soviet delegate Malik charged the U.S. with all kinds of high handedness but we outsmarted them on that. It certainly proved to be a UN operation, not a US operation. Now we certainly talk about our involvement in the Korean War, which we were very much a part of, but it was technically not the U.S. against North Korea but the UN against North Korea.”

The last historic work he read that really impressed him was The Vanquished: Why The First World War Failed To End, by Robert Gerwarth. “It was about the post-WW1 period after November 11th,” said Schmidt. “We think of the war as ending on November 11th, 1918. It really didn’t, there were oh-so-many very heated lesser conflicts. The Bolsheviks’ civil war in Russia, German extremists, conflict between the Turks and Greeks, and this was about those conflicts that extended beyond the armistice of 1918. It gives one a better understanding of the chaotic world that didn’t end with the peace treaties of 1918–19.”

Schmidt doesn’t smoke he never had a cigarette in his mouth. He likes bourbon, Jack on the rocks. As a Kentuckian, he likes horses but he doesn’t ride. “We didn’t have a car for years and years. My father was a machinist who made it to the sixth grade and my mom, she graduated from high school.”

He has always been a baseball fan, although he doesn’t go to games as much as he used to. He watches, and he always reads the box scores the morning after. Schmidt knew baseball best in the ‘30s and ‘40s, after Babe Ruth had just retired, Lou Gehrig was still going strong, as was Jimmy Foxx and young Joe DiMaggio.

The biggest adventure he had as a kid was the great Ohio River Valley flood in 1937. “We went out a second-story into a boat to evacuate the house.”

One of Schmidt’s daughters, Elizabeth Schmidt, is a professor of history at Loyola University Maryland. “I never urged her especially to be a historian but it rubbed off evidently, and certainly she’s a far better historian than I am. She’s certainly a far better scholar than I am, she has completed her sixth book! I don’t approach that.”

What’s Schmidt’s drive to continue working? He takes it day by day, he says.


David Rubinger, Whose Iconic Images Etched Israel’s History, Is Dead At 92

JERUSALEM (JTA) — David Rubinger, the Israeli photographer who took the iconic photo of Israeli paratroopers standing in front of the Western Wall after its capture in the Six-Day War, has died.

Rubinger, whose photos chronicled much of the history of the Jewish state, died Thursday. He was 92.

Rubinger was awarded the Israel Prize for his body of work in 1997, the first photographer to receive the award. He reportedly took 500,000 photos of Israeli people and events during his career.

An immigrant to Israel from Austria, he arrived in Israel in 1939 at 15 and fought in 1944 with the Jewish Brigade, a military division of the British army led by British-Jewish officers in Europe.

He began his career as a photojournalist in 1955 with the daily HaOlam Hazeh and then for Yediot Acharonot. He was also Time-Life’s main photographer in Israel for five decades, beginning in 1954. He also served as the Knesset’s official photographer for 30 years.

The photo at the Western Wall was taken on June 7, 1967, after paratroopers pushed into the Old City of Jerusalem and reached the narrow space between the Western Wall and the houses that faced it at the time. Rubinger maintained that the photo wasn’t successful from an artistic perspective but that its wide distribution has made it famous.

His own favorite work, he told interviewer Yossi Klein Halevi in 2007, depicted a blind boy who arrived as a new immigrant in Israel in the 1950s stroking a relief map of Israel.

“I call it, ‘Seeing the Homeland,’” Rubinger told Halevi.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin eulogized Rubinger in a statement.

“There are those who write the pages of history, and there are those who illustrate them through their camera’s lens,” Rivlin said. “Through his photography, David eternalized history as it will be forever etched in our memories. His work will always be felt as it is seen in the eyes of the paratroopers as they looked upon the Western Wall, and in the expressions on the faces of the leaders of Israel, which he captured during the highest of highs and lowest of lows.”

David Rubinger, Whose Iconic Images Etched Israel’s History, Is Dead At 92


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