“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.

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.

Seventy Years Ago: Pushing into History

By January 1945 the Allies were beating back Hitler’s forces in the Ardennes, what history would call the Battle of the Bulge. Winston Churchill asked Joseph Stalin if the USSR forces could take over the offensive forces into Poland to relieve the beleaguered Allied Forces on the western front pushing toward Germany. It worked: by mid-January, the Soviets had freed Poland from Nazi control. (In clearing out the Nazi scourge, the troops came upon Auschwitz, which was the first discovery of the horror the Nazis levied on Europe’s Jews and others. See the previous post.) 

At the end of January, General George Patton’s Third Army crossed the Our River. The Allies by this time were in push-back mode, and it would not be long until World War II would be on its way into history.

The U.S. Army Air Forces were finally on the offensive, and February ended with what would soon become the Allies’ victory in Europe.
On February 22, George Washington’s birthday, seventy years ago today, my father left San Severo in Italy in his P-51 Mustang as wingman to the flight leader, Capt. Roger Zierenberg. It was a fateful day for him -- and his family, including two yet-to-be-born children. That story is here.

An almost unbelievable twist of fate occurred twenty years ago, in 1995, when Anton Volgger, living in the South Tyrol in northern Italy, went exploring on the √úbertal Glacier in the Stubai Alps above his village of Ridnaun (Ridanna in Italian). He stumbled onto the crash site of dad’s plane. It was about almost a decade later, in a second twist of fate, that this exploration came to the attention of Roland Domanig, part of a group of air crash archaeologists, in Austria; then it was another half-a-decade and another twist of fate before he found me and sent the cold-contact e-mail in September 2013 asking me to replay if I were indeed the right person. (That story is here.)

Dad survived and returned home in 1945. Several years later he was stationed in Munich, Germany, as part of the Allied Occupational Forces that were sent to help Germany rebuild itself. It appears that one of the first things dad and mom did, maybe it was 1949, was to return to the village where dad ended his descent from Zuckerhutl, where he landed in his parachute.

In looking for and finding the 35mm slides that dad took during his assignment in Munich, we found many that he took in Ridnaun/Ridanna. One of them is this, of my mother leaning on the Woodie and looking down into the Ridnaun Valley. The 11,000 foot Zuckerhutl is the center peak in the distance. Others photos can be seen here and here.
My mother leaning on the Woodie that she and dad rode in
on their trip into the Ridnaun Valley in 1949.

The day dad went down, he was several months away from his 30th birthday on May 7. He would spend that birthday wandering the streets of Moosburg begging for food. General Patton liberated his POW camp only a few days before, April 29, 1945. Today he would be several months shy of 100. That story is here and here.

Below are several sites for posts dealing with 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
* The details of his February 22, 1945, mission are housed at the Air Force Historical Research Agency at Maxwell AFB, in Montgomery, Alabama, which holds more than 500,000 historic Air Force documents: http://www.afhra.af.mil/. I drove there to see these original records on microfilm after e-mailing in advance a request for mission reports from that date. The staff had made copies and had them on the reading desk when I arrived. I am especially grateful for their help and support. [AFHRA’s IRISNUM call numbers for these documents were 00248401 and 00248402].
The AFHRA database is searchable on the web at: http://airforcehistoryindex.org/
The Lt. Col. John Thomas Cravey WWII USAAF and USAF Careers Collection© is the copyrighted property of Joanna Cravey Hutt and Susan Rebecca Cravey for their sole use. The collection includes but is not limited to the contents of three scrapbooks displaying letters, pictures, icons and other visual matter; 35 mm slide transparencies contained in the original storage tins; black and white photographs related to Lt. Col. Cravey’s USAAF and USAF careers; e-mails and letters donated to, given to, or addressed to the owners regarding the careers; private records; and other visual and audio materials.

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