“You are not going out with that boy unless his parents are driving and that's that. I'm not just Spitting Grits here, young lady!”

. . . My father, John Thomas Cravey, USAF, to me in 1956.

Paul McCartney, Elton John, and Rod Stewart Rumored to be Teaming Up for a Mega-Concert in London

The ultimate concert in 70 years is barely a month away, unless that is, you think you might be around for the one in 2045. Rumor has it that the 70th anniversary of VE Day Concert will headline Paul McCartney, Elton John, and Rod Stewart. If true, they will perform May 9 at the Horse Guards Parade in London. The 100th Anniversary of the event in 2045 might outdo this one, but I wouldn’t bet a concert ticket on it.

In fact, good luck on tickets of any kind.

Could it be? All three at one concert?

In the U.S. a huge flyover of World War II aircraft is planned in Washington D.C. Free. No tickets to worry about, except maybe your airline ticket. According to that Warbirds.com announcement, the three-day events include a gala dinner at the Smithsonian on the Mall and lots more activities.

Events for this Anniversary will likely be held all over the U.S. and the world, including in your hometown. Watch for announcements in local news outlets in your area.

On May 7, 1945, two events happened: one event impacted me, the world, and probably you, somehow. The second was a revelation that occurred at my house in 1990.

The original of this historic document of Germany's unconditional surrender is in our National Archives in Washington D.C.

First, the unconditional surrender of the German Third Reich was signed before dawn on a rainy Monday, May 7, 1945 at “The Little Red Schoolhouse,” location of the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) at Reims, about 90 miles north of Paris. Present were representatives of the four Allied Powers—France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States—and the three Germany officers delegated by German President Karl Doenitz—Gen. Alfred Jodl, who had alone been authorized to sign the surrender document; Maj. Wilhelm Oxenius, an aide to Jodl; and Adm. Hans-Georg von Friedeburg, one of the German chief negotiators. Lt. Gen. Walter Bedell Smith, SHAEF chief of staff, led the Allied delegation as the representative of General Eisenhower, who had refused to meet with the Germans until the surrender had been accomplished. Other American officers present were Maj. Gen. Harold R. Bull and Gen. Carl Spaatz.

In The Little Red Schoolhouse at Reims, May 7, 1945

Alfred Jodl was notoriously arrogant. A year after surrender, he was tried in Nuremberg, found guilty, and hanged for war crimes against humanity. Adolf Hitler was unable to be at the table in the Little Red Schoolhouse; he committed suicide in Berlin and had ordered his body to be burned. No trace has ever been found. A shame.

And second, that same day was my father’s 30th birthday.

At my house in 1990, we celebrated his 70th birthday. It was a beautiful May day and I had made his favorite: a homemade coconut cake. We were outside on the patio to east dessert.

I noticed he had become quiet and was staring out into space. Then he said it, out of nowhere. Or so it seemed that day, which today feels like all of my life ago.

“Forty-five years ago, on my 30th birthday, a friend and I were wandering around a town outside the POW camp begging for food.” Then his consciousness brought him back.

It was jarring.  I said, “Oh my God, dad.” I hoped he would continue. He didn’t. The memory of that birthday lunch stayed tucked away in my brain’s ridges, valleys, and synapses, as a stray piece, until it became part of a whole picture that I would never have known had it not been for a strange, wholly unlikely, improbable event in September 2012, well after dad’s death in 1995. He died in February 1995, missing the 50th Anniversary of the end of World War II, as well as his 80th birthday, by fewer than three months.

He had been liberated from Stalag VII, Moosburg, by General Patton’s army on April 29, but he wasn’t yet released to be taken to a camp in France to wait his turn to be shipped back home. The neediest prisoners had to be taken first. He arrived in New York in early June, skinny and glad to be heading to Atlanta to rendezvous with mom, who had no idea he had lived to make it back to U.S. soil, let alone to be on his way south.

While I can’t make to the London event, I am going to find something special to do this May 7.

Today, April 12, is also the 70th anniversary of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's death in Warm Springs, Georgia. He was 63. A few hours later, Vice President Harry S. Truman became the 33rd President of the United States.

Other blog posts detailing dad’s World War II ordeal:
June 22, 2009, Father’s Day

February 20, 2013

Feb. 21, 2013

Nov. 9, 2013

A Cold Day in Italy

In Memoriam: Keith Bullock


Keith M. Bullock
Mils bei Imst, Austria
d. 11 March 2015

Although I never met Keith Bullock, either in person or by correspondence, I owe him a debt of gratitude, albeit indirectly. An unexpected request and photograph that he received in 1992 propelled him into a determined and dedicated pursuit to uncover the facts and historical data surrounding crash sites of U.S. Army Air Forces air craft downed in his area, any eye witnesses, and any survivors or family members of airmen attached to the aircraft. In the years of his aircraft archaeology and research of details, he became a mentor to others who continue his work in the same relentless, selfless, and exacting manner.

Because of Keith Bullock, I now know precise details of my father’s downed P-51 and his unlikely survival. One of Bullock’s students, Roland Domanig, of Lienz, Austria, became aware of the crash site of the P-51 on Ubetal Glacier in the South Tirol, did extensive research, and pursued the story for nearly a decade until he found me on the Internet.

This past summer, I, my sister, Susan Cravey, and my granddaughter, Joanna Leigh Hutt traveled by way of Munich and Innsbruck to meet Roland and travel on to the village where my father emerged after descending the mountain where he landed with his parachute. Many times Roland has named Keith Bullock as his mentor and inspiration.

Indeed all of us who have benefited from the precise research and determination of those whom Bullock mentored ultimately owe Keith Bullock.

And so, I thank him; and I thank those who followed him, including Roland Domanig, Jakob Mayer, and many others who learned from him. Bullock did not feel his task was finished until he made every effort humanly possible to find survivors or family members of those airmen who were MIA or KIA. One of those stories is STORY SULLIVAN CREW #49 - RICHARD SULLIVAN, told by the airman’s son, who went to visit Bullock and his father’s crash site.

After serving in the British RAF during World War II, Bullock eventually decided to live in Mils bei Imst, Austria, where he met and married his wife, Helene.

In the early 1990s he was asked about a bomber crash site near the village where he lived: would he try to find out how many of the airmen had been killed, how many had survived, and were any of them alive, This project and the research it would require so intrigued him that he spent all the rest of his years before his debilitating stroke in 2002 in search of answers. The fruits of his labors are recorded on his web site: http://www.bullock.at/tl_files/texu748.pdf.

His research took him to every Veterans organizations in America, numerous government departments, including the Secretary of the Air force, the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, The Maxwell Air Force Base Military Records Office, Veterans Administration for the Records of living and deceased Veterans and other branches of government.

He compiled records containing many Missing Aircrew Reports (MACRs) and a listing of more than seven thousand heavy bombers shot down over Europe during WW II; he visited many crash sites and was instrumental in determining the names of the men KIA or survived, and those who were POWs in Germany. He recorded eyewitness accounts of downed bombers; he has traveled to many church cemeteries to try to find any record of the airmen KIA. And he contributed closure and peace to many American families.

And so, Keith Bullock, may you rest in peace.

NOTE: Chrome's Translator app does a passable job in translating Bullock's web site pages.

ALERT: Superfish is on the Prowl

Yep, the hijacking crapware Superfish is after us. It is relentless. So I went to the Microsoft Store.

Wait, there’s more. I rarely tackle technology on Spittin’ Grits, but Superfish and hijacking crapware must be outed. This grotesque piece of work called Superfish is boring its way deep into your computer, and the consequences include your on-line identity and safety. I’ve spent several days reading about this menace because it is that serious a threat. So here goes.

Like most of you, I am an ultra-ordinary computer user, so I subscribe to a readable techy site, How to Geek; I owe those geeks a serious Thank You. It began for me with the most horrible-est piece of junk that I was aware of: The ethically challenged Ask toolbar. You’d better see if you have it. Look at the toolbar of your browser, located just under the URL line. If you have it, go here to read about it on How to Geek. That step led to reading several articles on horrible add-ons and adware. That led to an article that really caught my eye: it contained words like “Windows,” “Lenovo” (an up-to-now maker of highly rated computers), “hijacking” adware, “browsers,” “https,” “SSL” (which I had never heard of), “root certificate” (which I had never heard of), “scary,” “fake,” and “hacker.” The headline read Download.com and Others Bundle Superfish-Style HTTPS Breaking Adware, located here.

That article sounded ominous, with all those words together in the same sentence, ominous enough that I went looking for what this stuff was, because I was in the market for a new computer; I was looking at a Lenovo computer.

First I came to a tech article on arstechnica with the headline Lenovo PCs ship with man-in-the-middle adware that breaks HTTPS connections [Updated].

Uh-oh. I was going to buy a Lenovo computer at a retail store. What a close call that was.

“SSL” stands for “Secure Socket Layer.” Without this technology on web servers hackers/criminals can steal all your personal information, your ID, and rob you blind in a heartbeat. Yikes! This IS the “root certificate.” And Superfish bored into it.

Some people and almost all businesses, most importantly, your financial institution, apply for an SSL certificate. The granting agency verifies all the information about the persons or businesses to ensure they are who they say they are: Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Bank America, Best Buy, most retail stores, credit unions, pizza franchises, everything you can think of have the SSL certificate to ensure users’ safety. After being thoroughly verified, these places are sent the SSL "root" certificate to put on their servers. Some businesses, of course, like Amazon and Facebook and Twitter and on and on have a gazillion servers. The servers are the internet’s skeletal make up. The rest of us ordinary users ride the servers like riders on bikes, skates, trains, boats, planes, anything mobile, and up to now we’ve enjoyed a relatively free ride, since others were looking out for our safety and privacy.

No more. Once Superfish and other hijackware bored their way into servers, the “Private: Keep Out” door is opened wide, to all manner of hackers and criminals, and there we stand naked behind that door.

Those hijackware borers are not to be confused with the “normal” obnoxious, sometimes dangerous, crapware, malware, and adware that come on Windows’s operating system and are picked up by the major browsers: Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, and search engines like Yahoo.

They are the repulsive pop-ups and worse. Those are bad enough, and the major players like Microsoft, Google, and others have been complicit in this ethically challenged behavior; it makes your PC run like molasses in the winter of 2014-15 and opens you up to hackers/advertisers. That’s why when you open your browser to go somewhere, ads pop up that have been following you, recording you, and know what you like.

So how do you know if a business or financial institution has a secure SSL root certificate?

When I go to my financial institution via Explorer, Chrome, or Firefox, I first see on the address bar that it turns green, although it doesn’t stay green. Then I see https://, and the ‘s’ is significant. Then on the far left of the URL bar I see a small padlock. The site is “secure,” that is unless something like Superfish bored into the root certificate.

My own view of American businesses, as unpopular as it may be, is that they are inherently amoral, right out of the box. Too many, including the “too big to fail” Wall St. banks, are immoral and may be into illegal stuff. Many are at least unethical. They all depend on consumers, but they want consumers, lots of them, who don’t know or don’t want to know what they are getting. Thank goodness for the watchdogs. They are the ones who discovered the ton of crapware, adware, malware, and most importantly, the hijackware. I would no more go to a retail store to buy a PC right now than I would believe that the big banks are not into sub-prime loans -- again.

But I need a trustworthy computer. That’s why I went to the Microsoft store, to buy one of their guaranteed “sterile” computers. Their sterile “Signature” line of PCs are free of any viruses, adware, crapware, and hijackware. If they don’t do what they advertise, I have recourse.

The only recourse current PC users with a Windows operating system have against the bad stuff inside their computers is to go to a Microsoft store and have them remove the crap. And we must put pressure on the computer giants; no one will do it for us.

In fairness, Google has pledged to make some changes regarding crapware. You can read about this here on How to Geek. On the other hand, there’s Yahoo. Here’s what the HTG geeks have to say:

Contrast this [the Google page] with searching for “vlc download” [a software] on Yahoo… Every single thing you see on the screen is an ad for crapware, some of which is pretty much malware. In fact, you can keep scrolling, because there are even more ads for crapware when you scroll down, and you have to scroll near the bottom to find the real download location. In order to get all the ads in a single screenshot, you have to use a tablet in portrait mode.

The moral of this techy tome is that we will have to look out for our interests, including knowing more about what is under foot and listening to the watchdogs’s barks.
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