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Pecos I AO-6 - History

Pecos I AO-6 - History

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(AO-6: dp. 14,800; 1. 475'7"; b. 56'3"; dr. 26'8"; s. 14 k.;
cpl. 317; a. 4 5", 2 3")

The first Pecos (AO-6) was laid down as Fuel Ship No. 18 on 2 June 1920 by the Navy Yard, Boston, Mass.; reclassified AO-6 on 17 JUIY 1920; launched 23 April 1921; sponsored by Miss Anna S. Hubbard; and commissioned 25 August 1921.

During the two decades before the United States entered World War II, Pecos carried fuel to ships of the fleet wherever needed, operating in both Atlantic and Pacific Oeeans.

When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Pecos was in the Philippines supporting the ships of the Asiatic Fleet. She departed Cavite Navy Yard 8 December 1941 for Borneo and reached Balikpapan on the 14th. After filling up with oil and gasoline, the tanker pushed on to Makassar in the Celebes Netherlands East Indies where she refueled American warships fighting to slow the explosive advance of Japanese forces in the southwest Pacific. She departed Makassar for Darwin, Australia, 22 December.

She headed for Soerabaja, Java early in 1942 where she fueled Allied ships until departing 3 February after a Japanese air raid there had made that base untenable. Tjilatjap then became the oiler's base until her cargo fuel tanks were empty. She then got underway late in February toward India to refill. On the 27th, off Christmas Island, when the oiler was about to take survivors of Lanvoley from destroyers Whipple and Edsall, land based planes attacked the three ships. After fighting off the raiders, the American ships steamed south out of range and completed the transfer 1 March.

At noon that day, planes from Japanese carrier Soryu attacked Pecos and struck again an hour later. Finally at midafternoon, a third strike sent the veteran oiler to the bottom.

Whipple raced to the scene and rescued 232 survirors.

USS Pecos (AO-6)

USS Pecos (AO–6) was laid down as Fuel Ship No. 18 on 2 June 1920 by the Navy Yard, Boston, Mass. reclassified AO–6 on 17 July 1920 launched 23 April 1921 sponsored by Miss Anna S. Hubbard and commissioned 25 August 1921. During the two decades before the United States entered World War II, Pecos carried fuel to ships of the fleet wherever needed, operating in both Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Pecos was in the Philippines supporting the ships of the Asiatic Fleet. She departed Cavite Navy Yard 8 December 1941 for Borneo and reached Balikpapan on the 14th. After filling up with oil and gasoline, the tanker pushed on to Makassar in Celebes, Netherlands East Indies where she refueled American warships fighting to slow the explosive advance of Japanese forces in the southwest Pacific. She departed Makassar for Darwin, Australia, 22 December.

She headed for Soerabaja, Java early in 1942 where she fueled Allied ships until departing 3 February after a Japanese air raid there had made that base untenable. Tjilatjap then became the oiler’s base until her cargo fuel tanks were empty. She then got underway late in February toward India to refill. On the 27th, off Christmas Island, when the oiler was about to take survivors of Langley from destroyers Whipple and Edsall, land based planes attacked the three ships. After fighting off the raiders, the American ships steamed south out of range and completed the transfer 1 March.

At noon that day, planes from Japanese carrier Soryu attacked Pecos and struck again an hour later. Finally at midafternoon, a third strike sent the veteran oiler to the bottom. Executive Officer Lt. Commander Lawrence J. McPeake (Annapolis Class of 1924-Posthumously promoted to Commander after the war) was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for valor for his actions aboard the USS Pecos. After the order to abandon ship was given by the ship's Captain (Commander Abernethy-was awarded the Navy Cross for his skillful maneuvering, defense of the ship, damage control operations, cool leadership, and command of the stricken vessel during the engagement), Lt. Commander McPeake was seen engaging Japanese warplanes (Aichi D3A1 "Val" dive bombers) which were machine-gunning and strafing survivors in the sea, using a primitive deck-mounted .50 caliber machine gun. At least one of the Vals was confirmed as being shot down and destroyed, with another aircraft listed as a probable kill. By some crewmembers' accounts, he was reported to have made it off of the ship after it went down. Others reported him last being seen manning the machine gun. In fact, he did swim away from the vessel as it was going down with one other officer from the crew. However, his body was never recovered and he was eventually listed as Killed In Action after the War. A bridge in New Hampshire was named in honor of him, and a plaque on a building at the U.S. Naval Academy is inscribed with his name. Several members of her surviving crewmen thought that the Navy Cross should have been awarded to the Executive Officer, who by some accounts, went down fighting with his ship. Although quite heroic, McPeake's actions were by no means solitary. Several officers and men were to be commended for the heroism in fighting the dive bombers, tending to their critically wounded shipmates while under intense enemy fire, and performing superhuman feats fighting the fires and trying to save their doomed ship. After Pecos was sunk, the USS Whipple raced to the scene and rescued 232 survivors. Many of the survivors, although visible by crew members of Whipple, were unable to be picked up and were abandoned at sea, due to the detection of what was thought to be two enemy submarines in the area at extremely close range.

According to pilot Shinsaku Yamakawa of the Imperial Japanese Navy, the final attack was conducted by Aichi bombers from the Japanese aircraft carrier Kaga.

20 March 1922

20 March 1922: USS Langley (CV-1) was commissioned as the first aircraft carrier of the United States Navy. It was a former collier, USS Jupiter (AC-3), which had been converted at the Norfolk Navy Yard, 1921–1922.

USS Langley was 542 feet (165.2 meters) long, with a beam of 65 feet, 5 inches (19.94 meters) and draft of 24 feet (7.32 meters). Her full load displacement was 14,100 tons (12,791 metric tons).

The aircraft carrier was powered by General Electric turbo-electric drive, with a total of 7,200 shaft horsepower. Steam turbines drove generators which supplied power for electric motors which drove the propeller shafts. She could make 15.5 knots (28.7 kilometers per hour).

The ship’s complement was 468 officers and men.

Defensive armament consisted of four 5-inch/51-caliber (127 millimeters × 6.477 meters) guns. These guns, firing a 50 pound (22.7 kilogram) projectile, had a maximum range of 15,850 yards (14,493 meters).

USS Langley (CV-1) with Vought VE-7SF fighters on the flight deck, at anchor off Culebra Island, Puerto Rico, 18 March 1926. In the background are a USS Tennessee-class and two USS New Mexico-class battleships. (U.S. Navy)

Lieutenant Commander Virgil Childers (“Squash”) Griffin, Jr., United States Navy, made the first takeoff from an aircraft carrier of the U. S. Navy when he flew a Chance Vought Corporation VE-7SF fighter from the deck of USS Langley (CV-1), 17 October 1922, while the ship was anchored in the York River along the west side of Chesapeake Bay, Maryland.

As more modern aircraft carriers Lexington and Saratoga came in to service, Langley was once again converted, this time to a sea plane tender, AV-3.

USS Langley (AV-3) shortly after conversion to a seaplane tender, circa 1937. (U.S. Navy) Curtiss P-40E Warhawks of the 13th Pursuit Squadron (Provisional) at Richmond Field, Sydney, Australia, 13 February 1942. (Texas A&M University Press)

Langley, under the command of Commander Robert P.McConnell, USN, delivered a cargo of thirty-two Curtiss P-40E Warhawks for the 13th Pursuit Squadron (Provisional) from Fremantle, Western Australia, to Tjilatjap Harbor, on the southern coast of Java, Dutch East Indies. After leaving the harbor on 27 February 1942, Langley was attacked by a group of Imperial Japanese Navy Mitsubishi G4M “Betty” twin-engine medium bombers.

After evading several bomb runs, Langley was hit by six bombs. On fire and with its engine room flooded, the crew was forced to abandon ship. Langley was torpedoed by an escorting destroyer, USS Whipple (DD-217), to prevent capture.

A torpedo fired by U.S.S. Whipple (DD-217) strikes USS Langley, 27 February 1942. (United States Navy, Naval History and Heritage Command NH 92476)

The crew of Langley were taken aboard a fleet oiler, USS Pecos (AO-6), and thirty-three Air Corps pilots were transferred USS Edsall (DD-219). Pecos was sunk while enroute to Australia, with the loss of many lives. Edsall was also sunk and thirty-one of the Army pilots died.

USS Langley (AV-3) sinking. Photographed from USS Whipple (DD-217), 27 February 1942. (U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command NH 92474)

More aircraft carriers would follow and were the key to the United States Navy victory in the Pacific Ocean, bringing World War II to a close.

“Murderers’ Row” Third Fleet aircraft carriers at anchor in Ulithi Atoll, 8 December 1944, during a break from operations in the Philippines area. The carriers are (from front to back): USS Wasp (CV-18), USS Yorktown (CV-10), USS Hornet (CV-12), USS Hancock (CV-19) and USS Ticonderoga (CV-14). Wasp, Yorktown and Ticonderoga are all painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 10a. Photographed from a USS Ticonderoga plane. Official U.S. Navy Photograph #: 80-G-294131

Ninety-seven years after USS Langley was commissioned, the aircraft carrier is the center of the American fleet. The Nimitz-class carriers are the most powerful warships ever built.

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76). (U.S. Navy)

Legends of America

Upper Pecos River, New Mexico

Located along Route 66 and within the Pecos River Canyon is the Village of Pecos, New Mexico.

This area has been settled since at least the 8th century. The nearby Pecos Pueblo, built by the Pecos Indians, is thought to have been established in about 1100 A.D. Built centuries before the Spanish arrived, the multi-story pueblo became a regional power and trade center among the area Indian tribes by 1450 A.D.

Francisco Vasquez de Coronado arrived in the area in September 1540 looking for the fabled Seven Cities of Gold–Cibola. In 1598, Don Juan de Onate, along with settlers, livestock, and 10 Franciscans, arrived in the area and built the Spanish mission church at the Pecos Pueblo in 1619. The area Indians rejected the missionaries during the Pueblo Revolt in 1680, but the Spanish returned in 1692.

The San Miguel del Bado grant was the first major land grant in the area made in November 1794. By the early 1800s, several hundred families were scattered in the Pecos Valley. The Canon de Pecos land grant was awarded to Juan de Dios Pena in 1815, and by 1820 several settlements had sprung up. In 1821, the area became independent of Spain and part of Mexico. This same year, the Santa Fe Trail was blazed by William Becknell. It was probably about this same time that the village of Pecos was established along the Pecos River.

Ruins of the old mission at Pecos Pueblo, New Mexico by Kathy Weiser-Alexander.

In 1838, the few remaining Indians at the decaying Pecos Pueblo and empty mission church moved to Jemez Pueblo some 80 miles to the west. However, before the Pecos Indians left, they entrusted a special painting to St. Anthony’s Parish in Pecos. Called Our Lady of the Angels, it was painted by Juan Correa around 1700 and hanged in the Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles Mission at the Pecos Pueblo. Beginning in 1839, St. Anthony’s Parish fulfilled its promise to perpetually honor the saint by celebrating a feast day mass in the remains of the mission church and the Pecos Pueblo. The annual feast-day celebration is held on August 2nd (or the following Sunday), drawing people from surrounding communities and continues to this day. Pecos Pueblo descendants from Jemez Pueblo have participated since 1970.

Unfortunately, after the Pecos Indians left the Pecos Pueblo, it was soon reduced to ruins as Santa Fe Trail travelers and locals robbed the buildings of their beams for firewood and building supplies.

During the Mexican-American War, New Mexico was claimed as United States territory by General Stephen Watts Kearny in August 1846.

Valley Ranch on the Pecos River, Pecos, New Mexico

In 1852, Alexander Valle, who was living in or near Pecos, purchased 574 acres of the Canon de Pecos land grant, which had originally been granted to Juan de Dios Pena in 1815. His property was located just north of Pecos village. He also owned the Pigeon Ranch about five miles to the west, where he spent most of his time. In 1865, he sold the Pigeon Ranch and moved to his land in Pecos. He died there in June 1880. His land would later become the site of a popular dude ranch and later a monastery.

In 1880, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad came to the area, and a station was established at Pecos, which quickly replaced the slower wagon caravans along the Santa Fe Trail. The town’s population at that time was 241.

In 1882, the Terrero Mine opened about 13 miles north of Pecos, beginning with copper mining. Over the years, more ores would be taken from the mine, including gold, silver, lead, and zinc, which was transported down-canyon on an aerial tramway to the “El Molino” site on Alamitos Creek near Pecos for milling and concentration. The mine continued to produce until 1939. At its peak, Tererro had over 3,000 people, and the mine employed about 600 people. A post office and stable for the mine was located at the Valley Ranch in Pecos. During its years of operation, Pecos’ economy thrived from its operation.

In April 1886, Alexander Valle’s land in Pecos was sold at auction to the Valley Ranch Company.

Pecos Village, New Mexico today

In 1900, some 536 people were living in the Precinct of Pecos, by which time the merchant class had grown enough that specializations were listed, including whiskey salesman, jewelry salesman, grocery salesman, and others. Some of these men may not have had stores per se but were more likely peddling their wares out of the back of wagons around the area while making their homes in Pecos. Other specialties were freight-related occupations, including a teamster, a wagon driver, two express drivers, a simple freighter, and three freighters of railroad ties. This year, the first miner and a miller made their appearance. Twenty-four men reported that they were farmers, and 49 men were farm laborers. Sixty-two men were day laborers. There was also a school in Pecos by 1900, with three local teachers. Few teenagers attended because by ages 10 to 12, many of them already had an occupation. At that time, there were two priests in Pecos.

St. Anthony Catholic Church, Pecos, New Mexico, Kathy Weiser-Alexander

In 1906, the St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church was built in Pecos. It was constructed of locally quarried stone instead of traditional adobe. Among its adornments is the painting of Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles (Our Lady of the Angels) given to the parish after the Indians left the Pecos Pueblo in 1838. Still active today, the church is located at 11 St. Anthony’s Loop.

In 1926, Route 66 followed the old Santa Fe Trail and the tracks of the Santa Fe Railroad, passing through a number of Hispano settlements downstream from Pecos. In the 1930s, several roads, bridges, and campgrounds were built in Pecos Canyon by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and a number of Dude ranches were established in the area. These Dude Ranches played a major role in the local economy. The Valley Ranch in Pecos became a popular destination at that time and provided rodeos on Sunday afternoons.

In 1937, Route 66 was realigned further south, bypassing Santa Fe and providing a more direct route between Santa Rosa and Albuquerque.

Apache Inn at the Valley Ranch, Pecos, New Mexico, about 1930

In 1947 Trappist monks from Our Lady of the Valley Abbey in Rhode Island bought the Valley Ranch and formally established a monastery in 1948. The Trappists moved to Oregon in 1955, selling the monastery property to Benedictine monks from Wisconsin who operated the monastery until 1985. It then became part of the Olivetan Congregation. Today, Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey provides individual and group retreats, as well as traveler accommodations.

Today, the population of Pecos is about 1400 people, with many of them commuting to nearby Santa Fe to work.

The area provides a number of attractions for visitors, including the Pecos National Historical Park, Glorieta Pass, Pecos Benedictine Monastery, and the Pecos Wilderness, where hunting, fishing, hiking, and camping can be enjoyed.

Pecos is located about 26 miles southeast of Santa Fe.

© Kathy Weiser-Alexander, updated December 2020.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Abbey Monastery, Pecos, New Mexico by Kathy Weiser-Alexander

History & Culture

Between the towering Sangre de Cristo mountains and the flat-topped Glorieta Mesa lies Glorieta Pass, through which a continuously unfolding story of human culture has traveled to and from the Pecos Valley for thousands of years. Pueblo and Plains Indians, Spanish conquerors and missionaries, Mexican and Anglo armies, Santa Fe Trail settlers and adventurers, tourists on the railroad, Route 66 and Interstate 25. the Pecos Valley has long been a backdrop that invites contemplation about where our civilization comes from and where it is going. Thousands of years of this rich history is preserved for visitors at Pecos National Historical Park. Follow the timeline below to access more information about the history of the people and the park.

Archaic hunter-gatherers hunting deer in the Rio Grande Valley.

HFC Commissioned Art Collection

Preceramic Period (11,500 B.C.E. - 600 C.E.)

Prior to the Ancestral Pueblo people, Paleoindian and Archaic hunter-gatherers lived in the Upper Pecos Valley. The Paleoindians hunted now-extinct, large animals such as mastodon and giant ground sloths. Archaic hunter-gatherers began supplementing their diet with agricultural foods like corn, beans, and squash beginning circa 3500 BC.

Developmental Period (600-1200 C.E.)

During this period, early hunters and gatherers increasingly began to settle in locations near water sources as they took advantage of a wetter climate and relied more on agriculture. Near Glorieta Creek, they began to build semi-permanent subterranean structures called pithouses between 800 and 900 C.E. Tasks like farming, hunting, gathering, tool making, and food processing were divided among the community members. By the mid-1100s, people began to live above ground in multi-family pueblos, or villages.

The remnants of Forked Lighting Pueblo after excavations by Alfred V. Kidder in the 1920s.

Coalition Period (1200-1325 C.E.)

During the Coalition Period, the number of Ancestral Pueblo sites in the Rio Grande Valley increased, suggesting a growing population. Expansion into areas outside of the Rio Grande Valley includes the Upper Pecos Valley, where villages like Forked Lightning Pueblo and Rowe Pueblo were established along Glorieta Creek and the Pecos River.

Pecos People practiced agriculture by growing what is called the 'three sisters'. The 'three sisters' are a group of three crops that are grown together: corns, beans, and squash.

HFC Commissioned Art Collection

Classic Period (1325-1600 C.E.)

During the Classic Period, the many 50-100+ pueblos that had once dotted the landscape began to consolidate into one larger settlement at Pecos Pueblo by 1450. Because of the village’s commanding location near Glorieta Pass, Pecos Pueblo hosted a lively trade between the Plains Indians and Rio Grande Pueblos. By the mid-1500s, this prominent pueblo, known throughout the Pueblo world, had become an attractive target for the Spanish Conquistadors during their explorations of the Southwest.

Pecos Pueblo and other natives gathering in front of the pueblo grounds for trading. This painting is a scene of the Pecos Pueblo before the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.

HFC Commissioned Art Collection

Early Colonial/Pre-Revolt (1600-1680 C.E.)

After initial contact with the Pueblos, the Spanish began to establish a colony and Franciscan missions were started at the largest pueblos. Spanish rule attempted to control every aspect of the Pueblo world, including their economy and belief systems. Due to the way the indigenous population had been treated, many pueblos banded together to create the first American Revolution - the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.

Pueblo Revolt (1680-1692 C.E.)

Fed up with ill treatment at the hands of the Spaniards, the Pueblos banded together on August 10, 1680 to expel the Spanish government and Franciscan Friars from the Southwest. The successful revolt, led by Po’pay from Ohkay Owengeh (San Juan Pueblo), represented the only time that European invaders were successfully expelled from the country.

A drawing of the Spanish Mission Church built in 1717 after the Pueblo Revolt.

HFC Commissioned Art Collection

Late Colonial/Post Revolt (1692-1821 C.E.)

In 1692, the Spanish forcefully reclaimed New Mexico and re-established missions at many of the pueblos including the Pecos Pueblo. While the recolonization of New Mexico had been difficult, the Spanish found little resistance from Pecos Pueblo. Because of raids by Comanches from the Plains, European introduced disease spreading throughout the community, and theft of pueblo land, the Pecos People slowly declined throughout the 1700s.

Mexican/Santa Fe Trail (1821-1846 C.E.)

The legendary Santa Fe Trail, which passed right through the park, opened in 1821 after Mexico won its independence from Spain. Settlers and travelers riding the trail between Santa Fe, NM and Independence, MO passed right by the remnants of Pecos Pueblo. In the 1830s, the last remaining Pecos people migrated permanently to the Pueblo of Jemez where the Pecos traditions live on.

The Civil War Battle of Glorieta Pass occurred here in 1862. This battle is considered to be the 'Gettysburg of the West.'

NPS Photo/Gary Cascio 2018

United States Territorial Period (1846-1880 C.E.)

During the Mexican-American War in 1846, New Mexico officially became a U.S. territory. Evidence of this period can be seen in the park today with Martin Kozlowski’s Trading Post and the Civil War Battle of Glorieta Pass.

The Industrial Revolution introduced new technologies such as railroads that spread across the west. Railroads replaced the old trail systems such as the Santa Fe Trail. Thus began the era of tourism that would spread across the Southwest United States.

HFC Commissioned Art Collection

Railroad/Tourism (1880-1941 C.E.)

Signs of the Industrial Revolution arrived in the Pecos Valley and cemented this place as a key transportation corridor and a hub for tourism. Train horns could be heard by the late 1800s, followed quickly by car horns in the early 1900s. Travelers could take a day trip to see Alfred Kidder’s excavations at Pecos Pueblo, take one of Fred Harvey’s Indian Detours, or stay for an extended vacation at Tex Austin’s Forked Lightning Ranch.

Tex Austin built the Forked Lightning Ranch in 1926. The ranch was used as a dude ranch, enticing guests to experience the West in a new and exciting way.

Tex Austin Period (1925-1941 C.E.)

Tex Austin purchased land in the area and created the Forked Lightning Ranch in 1925. Austin, famous as a rodeo promoter, operated the ranch as a dude ranch from 1926-1935. His business was successful up until the 1930s when the Great Depression forced Tex out of business. The property sat empty until 1941.

Greer Garson and Buddy Fogelson at Pecos National Monument. The Fogelsons were instrumental in helping to create Pecos as a park unit in 1965.

11 April 1945

Lt. Merritt Duane Francies (left) and Lt. William S. Martin with a Piper L-4J Grasshopper, 44-80699 (54 ☆ G) (Passion Aviation)

11 April 1945: 1st Lieutenant Merritt Duane Francies, Field Artillery, USA, and forward observer Lieutenant William S. Martin, 71st Armored Field Artillery Battalion, 5th Armored Division, were flying a Piper L-4H Grasshopper on a reconnaissance mission near Dannenberg, Germany. This was Francies’ 142nd combat mission.

The Grasshopper (Piper Model J3C-65D) was named Miss Me!? Its U.S. Army serial number was 43-29905, and it was marked 54 ☆ J.

The two airmen saw an enemy Fieseler Fi 156 Storch flying beneath them. The Storch was similar to the Grasshopper. Both were single engine, high-wing monoplanes with fixed landing gear. The Storch was larger and faster, but both airplanes had similar missions during the War.

A Fieseler Fi 156 Storch, SJ+LL, Gran Sasso d’Italia, 12 September 1943. (Bundsarchiv, Bild 101I-567-1503C-04)

Francies put his L-4H into a dive and overtook the Luftwaffe airplane. Both American officers carried M1911 .45-caliber semi-automatic pistols, with which they fired on the Fieseler. Both officers emptied the 7-round magazines, then reloaded. The enemy airplane began to circle.

U.S. Pistol, Automatic, Caliber .45, M1911.

Lieutenant Francies approached again, coming to within an estimated 30 feet (9 meters) of the German airplane. Both opened fire again, striking the Storch in the windshield and in a fuel tank. It went into a spin, then crashed. Francies landed his airplane nearby.

The two German crewmen got out of the wrecked Fi 156 and tried to run, but the observer had been wounded in the foot. Lieutenant Martin fired a warning shot and the German pilot stopped, then surrendered.

The captured airmen were turned over to an American tank crew. Francies later said, “I never found out their names. They could have been important, for all I know. We turned them over to our tankers about 15 minutes later after the injured man thanked me many times for bandaging his foot. I think they thought we would shoot them.”

Francies and Martin with their kill Duane Francies, Freshman, (The Cascade 1940)

Merritt Duane Francies was born 21 July 1921. He was the son of Merritt Charles Francies, a fruit farmer, and Kathleen I. Horan Francies. He studied at Seattle Pacific College for one year before he enlisted as private, Air Corps, United States Army, 10 December 1941, at Spokane, Washington. Private Francies was 5 feet, 10 inches (1.78 meters) tall and weighed 170 pounds (77 kilograms).

2nd Lieutenant Francies had trained as a pilot and was assigned to an L-4 light observation airplane to conduct reconnaissance for the 5th Armored Division. On 19 September 1944 he rescued a wounded forward observer, for which he was awarded the Bronze Star. He was awarded an Air Medal on 27 September 1944. Francies received a battlefield promotion to 1st lieutenant, 15 January 1945.

Following the air-to-air battle with the Storch, Lieutenant Francies was recommended for the Distinguished Flying Cross, 24 April 1945. Major General Walter Jensen, 14th Army Corps, present the medal to him 22 years later, 13 March 1967.

Duane Francies married Miss Jo Ann Hulson in Lake County, Indiana, 29 March 1947. He died at Chelan, Washington, 5 May 2004.

A Piper J-3C-65 Cub, NX38505, in U.S. Army Markings, Louisiana, 1941. The second airplane is a Stinson O-49. (Hans Groenhoff Collection NASM SI-2004-51347)

The Piper L-4H Grasshopper is a single-engine, two-place strut-braced high-wing monoplane based on the civilian Piper J-3C Cub. In military service, it was used as a short-range reconnaissance and liaison aircraft. The cockpit had a tandem configuration. The airplane was constructed of a welded steel tube fuselage, and the wings had wooden spars and riveted aluminum ribs. It was covered with doped fabric.

The L-4H was 22 feet, 4½ inches (6.820 meters) long, with a wingspan of 35 feet, 2½ inches (10.732 meters). Its height, when parked in 3-point attitude, was 8 feet, 6 inches (2.591 meters) to the top of the propeller arc. The wing has a chord of 5 feet, 3 inches (1.600 meters) and a total area of square feet ( square meters). It has an angle of incidence of 1° 37′ and 0° 41′ negative twist. The variable incidence horizontal stabilizer has a span of 9 feet, 6 inches (2.896 meters). The Piper L-4H Grasshopper had an approximate empty weight of 740 pounds (336 kilograms), depending on installed equipment, and a maximum gross weight of 1,220 pounds (553 kilograms).

Piper L-4 Grasshopper (T. O. NO. 01-140DA-3, Structural Repair Instructions, at Page 2)

The Grasshopper was powered by an air-cooled, normally-aspirated, 171.002-cubic-inch-displacement (2.802 liter) Continental O-170-3 (Continental A65-8), horizontally-opposed four-cylinder overhead-valve engine with a compression ratio of 6.3:1. It was rated at 65 horsepower at 2,300 r.p.m. at Sea Level for takeoff, and required a minimum of 73-octane gasoline. The direct-drive engine turned a two-blade fixed-pith propeller with a diameter of 6 feet, 0 inches (1.829 meters).

The L-4H had a maximum speed of 90 miles per hour (145 kilometers per hour), and an absolute ceiling of 14,000 feet (4,267 meters). With a fuel capacity of 12 U.S. gallons (45.4 liters), its maximum range was 206 miles (332 kilometers).

Piper J-3C Cub. (Hans Groenhoff Collection, NASM-HGC-1121)

Pecos Pueblo

Pecos Pueblo known in the Towa language as P`ǽ kilâ which translates to “the place above the water” is a very special place for the Pecos descendants currently living at Jemez Pueblo. During the time of the great migration by Ancestral Puebloans the P`ǽ kish were a part of the Hemish (Jemez people) and traveled the northern and northwestern mountain ranges, broad valleys and mesa country in the southwestern part of the United States. The P`ǽ kish branched away from the Jemez and took a southeastern migration route stopping in Tǫ́ǫk’ô P’ǽ̨æ̨wâamu (Corn Cob River Valley) or the Pecos River Valley, where they built villages. It wasn’t until the mid-15 th century when all the P`ǽ kish villages consolidated into one big village on a narrow ridge above Wǽ̨hæ̨ P’ǽ̨æ̨wâamu (Squash River Valley) or Gloretta Creek. The P`ǽ kish lived in this village on this narrow ridge as a great and powerful nation before the Spaniards came.

In the spring of 1541 the Spanish Exploration led by Francisco Vazquez de Coronado came upon the great Pueblo of P`ǽ kilâ. Home to more than two thousand people, the Spanish described it as the largest of the Pueblos, well-fortified and having a great number of very healthy people. It was located on the western edge of the Great Plains and on the eastern most periphery of the pueblo world. Pecos Pueblo was a great center for trade. Pueblo goods such as corn, beans, squash, pottery and obsidian were exchanged for buffalo meat and hides offered by the Western Apache.

The encounter with the Spanish was the beginning of the decline for Pecos Pueblo. The once large and powerful Pueblo faced many hardships. Over three generations, the community lost 75 percent of its population. Pecos Pueblo suffered great losses from Spanish and Mexican encroachment, Comanche attacks, and diseases. The most devastating of all was a small pox epidemic that swept thru Pecos Pueblo. The source of drinking water was contaminated and caused further sickness. The remaining P`ǽ kish made the hard decision to seek refuge at the Pueblo of Jemez. On August 2 nd of 1838, 21 P`ǽ kish arrived at Jemez Pueblo to humbly request for their acceptance amongst their kin. They were greeted in the plaza by the Jemez Cacique (Chief), the War Chief, the Governor and the Jemez People. After a long consultation with the Jemez leaders the P`ǽ kish were welcomed and accepted by their kin. Today the descendants of the Pecos Pueblo reside with the Hemish and are one with the people, pueblo and culture.

Jemez Pueblo actively maintains the connection to Pecos Pueblo. At the beginning of each new year, a tribal consultation meeting involving the Park Superintendent, park staff, the Pueblo of Jemez’s Leadership, Jemez Natural Resources Department, and the Pecos Eagle Society, a traditional religious society group originally from Pecos Pueblo, is held at the park. The Second Lieutenant Governor for Jemez Pueblo also serves as the Pecos Pueblo Governor, a tribal leadership role created when Pecos and Jemez merged in 1838.

The Pecos Eagle Society returns to its aboriginal homelands at Pecos to perform ceremonial rites at shrines that exits even to this day. Also, on the first Sunday after the second day of August each year, Jemez People go back home to Pecos Pueblo to celebrate the annual feast day for “Our Lady of the Angels of Porciúncula”, the patron saint for Pecos Pueblo. A Catholic Mass is celebrated in the morning followed by traditional dances and feasting. It is a joyous occasion honoring our patroness and commemorating our Pecos Ancestors who reside there. When songs are sung at the Pecos Feast Day dances in Jemez Pueblo on August 2 nd each year, the spirits of our Pecos Ancestors who reside at Pecos Pueblo are called upon to bring blessings to our people and all peoples who live on Mother Earth.

Pecos Repatriation

“I rise today to commemorate a truly historic event that took place in my state of New Mexico . . . the nation’s largest act of Native American repatriation. The Jemez-Pecos Repatriation—the reburial of nearly 2,000 human remains and artifacts unearthed from what should have been their final resting place.”

— Congressman Jeff Bingaman (Congressional Record 145 [8, May 1999]

In the early twentieth century, Archeologist Alfred Vincent Kidder excavated and transferred Pecos Pueblo remains to Harvard’s Peabody Museum. In 1999 those remains were returned back to Pecos Pueblo.

The Pecos Repatriation of 1999 is the largest repatriation by any federally recognized Native American tribe in the United States due to the passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act in 1990. Jemez Pueblo repatriated more than 2,000 human remains, over 1,000 associated funerary objects, and a number of objects of cultural patrimony from Pecos Pueblo.

Beginning on May 20, 1999, more than 200 Jemez tribal members walked from the plaza of Jemez Pueblo to Pecos Pueblo, retracing the steps the P`ǽ kish had traveled 161 years earlier. Three days and approximately 120 miles later, the people reached Pecos National Historical Park in the early afternoon of May 23, where they were greeted by more than 1,000 Jemez people and peoples of other tribal nations. A giant semi trailer filled with thousands of cartons carrying artifacts and our P`ǽ kish ancestors had arrived from the Peabody Museum at Harvard University.

United as one, with hearts filled with peace and joy, the people escorted the ancestors into the Pueblo and unto the gravesite where they were laid to rest. It was a joyous occasion for all present. The Pecos descendants gave honor and thanks to their Pecos Ancestors and welcomed them home.

Pueblo of Jemez tribal members Pete Toya, Tom Lucero, Ambrosio Toya, Frank Fragua, Frank Loretto, Brophy Toledo, George “Sisco” Toya, Clarence Toya, Randy Padilla, Stuart Gachupin, Frank Gachupin, Raymond Gachupin, Rueben Sando and Jemez Archeologist William Whatley all played key roles in the repatriation process.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

100 Years Ago: How the Zimmermann Telegram was Interpreted in Hampton Roads

By Julius Lacano
Hampton Roads Naval Museum Educator

In Norfolk, the German overtures to Mexico were of secondary importance to the former point, that Germany had resumed unrestricted submarine warfare on the first of February. Since war in Europe began in 1914, Norfolk had become a boomtown. Her wharves and storehouses brimmed with coal, lumber, fertilizer, and foodstuffs ready to be loaded onto Entente and neutral ships bound for Europe. According to Old Dominion University professors Maura Hametz and Joyce Hoffman , �,000 horses [were] shipped [from Norfolk] to the battlefields of France.” Ships leaving Hampton Roads were routinely stopped, inspected, and seized by British warships operating off the coast in order to slow the flow of supplies from the United States to Europe. With unrestricted warfare resuming, these same ships now became targets for German U-boats.

(Sargeant Memorial Collection, Norfolk Public Library)
One day after the news of the Zimmermann Telegram appeared , the Norfolk Real Estate and Stock Exchange predicted a land boom due to the influx of people that would come to Norfolk due to the rapid expansion of Norfolk Naval Shipyard and local privately-run shipyards, as well the thousands of men needed to support the loading of ships needed to support the war effort. “Buy a Home!” was the slogan used by members of the exchange during an advertising blitz that encouraged people of all walks of life to invest in home ownership. As a newspaper story in the Virginian-Pilot explained, “One object of the advertising campaign is to explain to them how it is possible for a man of small or moderate means to become a property owner.” This type of campaign was one that had proven very successful in other southern cities, such as Birmingham, Alabama, which saw 3,000 of its 5,500 available properties sold in one week.
(Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
This wartime boom, though it would change the cityscape of Norfolk forever, was not without issues. Norfolk was ill-prepared to deal with the massive influx of people and supplies making their way into the city. Most roads were still dirt or packed shell. Then, as now, heavy rain combined with severe drainage problems swamped roads and made them impassable. The other modes of transport in the city, as well as the public works infrastructure, were also severely lacking. The land boom that helped turn Norfolk from a small port city before the war, towards the city we know today, led to an acute housing shortage that no “Buy a Home Week” could counter. This same issue with housing would also creep up during the Second World War as well. In response, the federal government, through the United States Housing Corporation, stepped in to develop communities to house the inflow of war workers that came to the city. In Portsmouth, engineers, architects, social scientists, and others developed planned communities in the Cradock and Truxtun neighborhoods based on ideas of social engineering, decentralization, “[the] promotion of regionalism, [the] infusion of nature into everyday life, and [the] enriching of culture though the improvement of habitat conditions of the working class.” Truxton also has the distinction of being the first planned community exclusively for African-Americans.

(National Park Service)
While the Zimmermann Telegram helped push the United States towards war in Europe, for Norfolk, the effect was one of growth, not destruction. While the Hampton Roads of today little resembles the way the region looked in 1917, two neighborhoods, Cradock and Truxtun , give a glimpse into a bygone era. Because of their historical significance, there areas were added to the National Historic Registry in 1974 and 1982, respectively.

Pecos Valley Southern Railway

You will be hard-pressed to find a more humble and quaint short line operation than that of the Pecos Valley Southern Railway (reporting marks, PVS).

If it were not for ingenuity this little line would likely shutdown and in many ways it is surprising it hasn't already. The PVS is a historic system that has served West Texas since the early 20th century.

The road was founded on the hope of completing a 100+ mile line that would run from Pecos to the Mexican border. Unfortunately, money ran out and only about a quarter of the route was ever completed.

The short line has had an interesting and turbulent history over the years, threatening to be abandoned more than once by various owners.

During its heyday the Pecos Valley served several customers although today that number has dwindled to just a few.

Currently, the company is a subsidiary of a non-railroad aggregate business (and leased to Watco) and its power consists of a single locomotive although it once operated a small fleet of switchers.

Pecos Valley Southern SW900M #9 switches cars in Pecos, Texas during May of 1995. Wes Carr photo.

The history of the Pecos Valley Southern Railway begins on May 29, 1909 when it was chartered by local business interests with intentions of constructing a route from the town of Pecos.

Here, connections were made with the Texas & Pacific Railway main line as well as a Santa Fe branch, which extended southward from its main line at Clovis, New Mexico to Presidio along the Rio Grande River and Mexican border.

The railroad would have stretched more than 150 miles and by May 1, 1910 was completed 40.3 to the small hamlet of Toyahvale.

Unfortunately, while the cost of construction was cheap thanks to the relatively flat, desert-like region of West Texas money ran out to continue building any further south.

For a number of years proceeding plans continued to be made in pushing the railroad further to its intended destination but these never materialized.

More Reading.

The hope by the builders of the Pecos Valley Southern was in serving the region's growing agricultural industry that included grain, cotton, cantaloupes, cattle, and corn.

This followed new farming techniques after 1900, related to irrigating the dry, dusty soil into practical uses that could grow various types of crops.

Prior to the coming of the railroad the farmers between Pecos and Toyahvale had no other method in moving their product to market except by traditional horse and buggy, which proved impractical in the unforgiving heat of the summer months that regularly topped 100 degrees.

Power during this early era consisted of two, second-hand 4-4-0 Americans #1-2 (it later added three former Texas & Pacific 4-6-0s, #4-6).

Unfortunately, the agricultural interests never developed quite as intended (certainly not enough to maintain a railroad's profitability) and with little other means of traffic available, except for local passengers, abandonment lay in the line's future that was not even 20 years of age.

Builder Model Type Road Number Notes Quantity
GE70-Ton7-8Acquired new: July, 1949 and January 1953. Out of Service.2
EMDSW9009Ex-Lehigh Valley NW1. Purchased new 1938, rebuilt for LV as an SW900 in 1957.1

Thanks to David Lustig's "Pecos Valley Southern:  The Loneliest Short Line In Texas" from the July, 1998 issue of Trains as a primary reference for this article.

In a scene that appears to be taken from a passing Missouri Pacific/Texas & Pacific passenger train, Pecos Valley Southern 70-tonner #8 has a few cars in Pecos, Texas during May of 1953. The locomotive was acquired new from General Electric.

While traffic continued to dip through the 1980s it had mostly stabilized by the 1990s, which is still the case with the railroad currently, traffic consists of sand, gravel and barite ore (yielding between 3,000-4,000 carloads annually).

As of August 10, 2012 the PVS was leased to Watco, which plans to operate the road on a long-term basis from Capitol Aggregates.

Interestingly, the future of the short line may be looking up exponentially just as oil was once a major traffic source for the road it appears to be so again as Watco has built several oil-loading facilities along the system.

Kanawha (AO-1) Class: Photographs

Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image.

USS Kanawha (Fuel Ship No. 13)

Photographed in her original configuration circa 1915-1917.

Photo No. NH 105293
Source: U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command.

USS Kanawha (Fuel Ship No. 13)

A deck view looking aft taken at Mare Island on 22 June 1915 with sister Maumee fitting out alongside.
The four masts, each with two long booms, may originally have been intended to handle the 2,182 tons of coal that these two ships were designed to carry as an alternative to their normal cargo of oil. The requirement to carry coal in later ships of this type was deleted in August 1915 and hatches suitable for handling coal are not visible in this deck view.

Photo No. 19-N-8-12-35
Source: U.S. National Archives, RG-19-E.

USS Maumee (Fuel Ship No. 14)

Near the Mare Island Navy Yard on 25 February 1916.
The smokestack on this diesel-propelled ship is smaller and further aft than the stack of her steam-propelled sister. Maumee does not yet have her armament.

Photo No. 19-N-13796
Source: U.S. National Archives, RG-19-N box 26.

Being checked out after assembly at the M.A.N. works at Nurnberg, Germany.
Then-Lieutenant Chester W. Nimitz may have inspected this engine during his visit to Germany in 1913, and the engines he assembled at the New York Navy Yard in 1914-1916 for USS Maumee closely resembled it.

Photo No. NH 58335
Source: U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command (Collection of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN).

Photographed circa the early 1920s.
Her bridge was moved back between the first two masts, possibly at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in early 1919.

Photo No. NH 103332
Source: U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command.

Photographed circa the early 1920s.

Photo No. NH 77266
Source: U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command.

Moored in reserve at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on 9 April 1941 between the catapult lighter AVC-1 and Bridgeport (AD-10).
Her bridge had been moved back, displacing the second mast, circa early 1919.

Photo No. Unknown (detail)
Source: U.S. National Archives, RG-19-LCM.

Near the Mare Island Navy Yard on 6 February 1942.
While being overhauled she lost her third mast. She retained her 4-4"/50 guns while adding some anti-aircraft guns. Note the triangular flanges reinforcing her narrow bridge.

Photo No. 19-N-28183
Source: U.S. National Archives, RG-19-LCM.

Near the Mare Island Navy Yard on 2 January 1943.
Her 4-4"/50 guns have been replaced by 2-5"/51 guns, both aft in the enlarged 4" gun sponsons.

Photo No. 19-N-39486
Source: U.S. National Archives, RG-19-LCM.

Near the Norfolk Navy Yard on 31 March 1945.
The ship was re-engined and reactivated in 1941-1942 after 20 years in reserve. She is shown here with her final wartime armament including 1-5"/38 gun aft.

Photo No. 19-N-97150
Source: U.S. National Archives, RG-19-LCM.

Probably shown serving as a harbor fueling ship at Shanghai between September and November 1945.

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