Wednesday, November 16, 2016


A couple of months ago my mom sent me an article about a new navy ship visiting New London, Connecticut. It was the USS Ramage.
I don't find the ships so interesting but my curiosity was raised by the name. Why Ramage? Who was this person. It turns out to be an interesting story.
The ship pictured above is named for Lawson P. "Red" Ramage. He was a vice admiral in the United States Navy, submarine commander during World War II. He also served during the Korean and Vietnam wars. Red Ramage graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1931. He had injured his right eye wrestling and was unable to pass the physical exam required for assignment to submarine duty. He was assigned to surface ships from 1931 to 1935. He was able to memorize the eye chart and pass the eye test. When examined again later he would simple move the cover and read the eye chart twice with his left eye. In January 1936 he was assigned to submarine duty. In 1942 he was stationed at Pearl Harbor assigned to the staff of the Commander, Submarines, Pacific during the surprise attack by the Japanese. I'm not going to replay his entire career during World War II. I want to concentrate on the events of July 30 and 31, 1944.
Red Ramage was in command of the Balao-class submarine the USS Parche (SS-384) and was part of a wolfpack. They came into contact with a Japanese convoy. Red Ramage cleared the bridge of all personnel except himself and steamed into the enemy convoy on the surface. Japanese ships fired deck guns at his submarine and attempted to ram it. Ramage dodged and twisted returning torpedo fire for gun fire. The Parche managed to sink two enemy ships and badly damage three others. His actions that night resulting in him receiving the Medal of Honor on January 10, 1945 from President Roosevelt. The Medal of Honor citation reads as follows.

"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Parche in a predawn attack on a Japanese convoy, 31 July 1944. Boldly penetrating the screen of a heavily escorted convoy, Comdr. Ramage launched a perilous surface attack by delivering a crippling stern shot into a freighter and quickly following up with a series of bow and stern torpedoes to sink the leading tanker and damage a second one. Exposed by the light of bursting flares and bravely defiant of terrific shellfire passing close overhead, he struck again, sinking a transport by two forward reloads. In the mounting fury of fire from the damaged and sinking tanker he calmly ordered his men below, remaining of the bridge to fight it out with an enemy now disorganized and confused. Swift to act as a fast transport closed in to ram, Comdr. Ramage daringly swung the stern of the speeding Parche as she crossed the bow of the onrushing ship, clearing by less than 50 feet but placing his submarine in a deadly crossfire from escorts on all sides and with the transport dead ahead. Undaunted, he sent 3 smashing "down the throat" bow shots to stop the target, then scored a killing hit as a climax to 46 minutes of violent action with the Parche and her valiant fighting company retiring victorious and unscathed."

This is true bravery and leadership. You might think that Red Ramage had done his best. I think what he did following the Medal of Honor ceremony speaks more about true leadership than what happened in the Pacific. Commander Ramage created a certificate for each sailor under his command. It states the following.

"The Captain wishes to emphasize the fact that the Medal of Honor was accepted from the President of the United States as the Nation's tribute to a fighting ship and her courageous crew. He feels that every officer and man whose loyal cooperation and able assistance contributed to the success of the "Parche" has an equal share in this award which he holds in trust for you. With great pride and respect.
Sincerely , L.P.Ramage"

The statement to his crew is the true meaning of leadership. Yes, I got recognition but I understand and recognize that without the efforts of this entire crew it would not have been possible. It would seem to me that following that statement of appreciation the men under his command would follow him to the very gates of hell.

I close with a simple question. Look at our Congress and President elect.  Where are those leaders today?

Sunday, November 13, 2016

January 7, 1944

I have been working on my grandfather's childhood photo album and pictures often lead to questions. Who are those people and who are their children, and their wives and their grandchildren. It lead to questions about what happened on January 7, 1944. Let's start at the beginning. William Sutor lived from 1847 to 1917. He was the brother of my great grandfather John J. Sutor, Sr. He had a son named William R. Sutor who lived from 1874 to 1954. His son Warren Keith Sutor was born in 1922 and lived to 2008. This story is about Warren or Keith depending on when you look at the historic record.

Warren Keith Sutor was born on January 12, 1922 to William and Myrtle Sutor in Zurich, Kansas. When you look at the record there are several things you want to see. One of the important ones is where people are. At the time there were plenty of Sutors in that area so he is in the right place. Census records keep him in Kansas during the 1930 census. In 1943 Keith W. Sutor marries Betty Louise Campbell in Pima County Arizona on June 19th. A family history indicates he went by Keith and married a Betty Campbell. This does help the 1944 story. Pima County Arizona is the location of the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base located in Tucson. I don't know when Keith joined the Army Air Force. There was no Air Force in those days, the air forces were a branch of the Army. Military records indicate the 389th Bomb Group trained at Davis-Monthan Army Air Base and were moved to RAF Hethel England in June and July 1943. It would appear that Keith and Betty married just before he was deployed overseas to fight in World War 2. The group almost immediately sent a detachment to Lybia where it began operations on July 9, 1943. They conducted bombing raids to Crete, Sicily, Italy, Austria and Romania. The 389th was known as the Sky Scorpions. This was their symbol.
The 389th resumed operations from England in October 1943 striking targets in France, the Low Countries and Germany. On January 7, 1944 the primary target was the industrial areas of Ludwigshaven, Germany. The first element was 172 B-17's from the 3rd Bomb Division. Two aircraft failed to return. The result was 11 killed in action, 7 taken POW and 2 evaded capture. The second element was a combined force of 210 B-17's from the 1st Bomb Division. Three aircraft failed to return with 10 killed in action and 18 POW. The third element is a combined force of 120 B-24's. There were 28 killed in action, 16 POW and 17 evaded capture. As a point of interest the 445th Bomb Group was commanded by Major James Stewart the Hollywood actor on this mission.

January 7, 1944 Staff Sgt. Keith W. Sutor was the tail gunner on B-24 42-40747 known by her crew as "Heavy Date". He was the last man to jump from the aircraft after it was struck by enemy fire. The aircraft was attacked by fighters, lost it position in the formation. Its cockpit was on fire and the aircraft went into a corkscrew spin. After some of the crew bailed out the aircraft exploded. He landed near Sully-la-Chapelle at Nibelle. He walked for 5 days before being picked up near la rue du Pont aux Moines, Donnery and sheltered by a family there. He was moved around France over the next several weeks. I do not know when or how he was returned to Allied forces. Keep in mind a couple of things. First this happens almost 5 months to the day prior to the invasion at Normandy. There are no Allied troops in France. Second, think about Betty. Does she know his aircraft has been shot down? If so, she has no idea if he is dead or alive. There were five on the aircraft who were killed in action. They were Irvine Balsam (waist gunner), Francis Krueger (top turret gunner), Carl Mattson (pilot), David Neilson (radio operator), and I am unable to identify the fifth person killed.

While I have from time to time questioned the bravery and ability of French troops I now know I owe them and the French people an apology. I am truly sorry for those thoughtless remarks. This memorial stands in France in the memory of those lost on January 7, 1944.

In addition this memorial to the 389th stands at the location of their former base in England. As you read the memorial you realize how dangerous these air attacks were.

The notation on Warren Keith Sutor's page on notes he died in September 2008 following a trip to France for a reunion with others at his aircraft's crash site.

So, my thanks to my second cousin 1x removed for his bravery and service to our country. There are more questions than answers at this time. What happened between January 7, 1944 and the date he was returned to Allied Forces? What did Betty hear? Did she think he was dead? When did he leave the military?

A final note. Betty and Keith remained married until her passing in 1989. There is no record indicating Keith ever remarried. I would like to think it was a love story for the ages.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Sometimes life throws things at you and it takes a little time to get back to where you were. On October 23rd I shared my grandfather John James Sutor, Jr.'s 10th birthday gift on the day of what would have been his 110th birthday. I pledged to share additional pictures and information. This will be a continuation of that effort through a single picture.

In the front row from left to right.
Mrs. Sidell - she was the housekeeper for the bachelor brothers Martin and Henry Sutor
Olive Sutor- the 11th of the 12 children of William and Martha Sutor
Mabel Sutor- she was the wife of John Sutor who was the son of William Sutor the brother of John James Sutor, Sr. my great-grandfather.
Zella Sutor- the 9th of the 12 children of William and Martha Sutor
Eva Sutor- the 10th of the 12 children of William and Martha Sutor
Martha Frances McKibben Sutor- wife of William Sutor
Martin Sutor- brother of John James Sutor, Jr. and son of John James Sutor, Sr.
Glen Graham- son of Lena Bell Sutor and John W. Graham. Lena Bell Sutor was the 5th child of William and Martha Sutor
Henry T. Sutor- brother of my great grandfather John James Sutor, Sr.
Girls on the pony
     - Wilmette Sidell- daughter of the housekeeper for Martin and Henry Sutor
     - Thelma Sutor- oldest daughter of John and Mabel Sutor
     - Grace Sutor- youngest daughter of John and Mabel Sutor
Earl Sutor- the 12th of the 12 children of William and Martha Sutor. For regular readers Earl was the father of Darrell Sutor who passed away recently and was the subject of a blog post.
Fred Seefeld-  he is the husband of Eva Sutor mentioned above as the 10th of William and Martha's 12.
Back Row
Martin Sutor- brother of my Great Grandfather John James Sutor, Sr.
William Sutor- husband of Martha and brother to my Great Grandfather John James Sutor, Sr., Henry T. Sutor and Martin Sutor.
The picture was taken in about 1916 in Kansas.

Everyone in that picture is dead. The last as near as I can figure was Grace Sutor Dellett who died in 2007 at the age of 99.

I want to talk about loss. About the people who might have been in that picture had life been kinder. My great grandfather John James Sutor, Sr. had two brothers who died in a cholera epidemic in 1862 in Illinois. They were Samuel R. Sutor age 10 and Robert Sutor age 5. It seems odd that Samuel was the next older brother of Martin and Samuel was the next younger from Martin. On my great grandmother Mary Emma Parsons Sutor there were also losses. Her sister Sarah L. Parsons died at age one as did her sister Effa M. Parsons. William and Martha Sutor had 12 children but suffered losses as well. Mabel Sutor, their daughter died in 1886 at age 8. Twin sons Harold and Harry Sutor died in 1887 having lived less than 3 months. Their daughter Etha Sutor died in 1889 also having lived less than a year. It seems so strange to us in modern times. You hear of children dying from time to time, accident, cancer, or some other disease but those cases are relatively unusual. When you go back to your great grandparents such occurrences were far too common. So my advice- hug your children or grandchildren every chance you get. Be thankful for modern medicine. Tell them you love them.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Too Stupid

Just a short story to once again put my stupidity on full display. Carol and I went to WalMart yesterday. Those of you who jumped ahead, THATis NOT the stupid thing I'm referring to in this story. Going to WalMart is an additional stupid act. We completed our shopping and carried our meager purchases to the car. We have a Dodge Durango. I opened the rear hatchback and put our crap in the back. I got in and started the car. It has a rear backup camera so when I put the car in reverse the screen lit up and gave me a great view of the sky. I was convinced while we were shopping someone had messed with the car. I started to tell Carol about my suspicion that our car had been vandalized and the camera moved.  Carol told me the view on the screen would be different if I closed the hatchback. DUH!!!

There is only one possible conclusion, I am too stupid to function in the modern technological world.   

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


Lily, Rose and I took a walk today after lunch. We went over to the campground since we hadn't walked there in several weeks. As luck would have it there were several neat campers parked. 

The little dog in the blue kennel was checking us out. 

Take a walk. You never know what you might see. 

Monday, October 31, 2016


This is just a quick update on the Hurricane Matthew cleanup efforts. The tree and yard debris is being piled up in the North Beach parking lot. It looks like this. 

 A closer view. 

The pile is about 20' tall and 600' long and contains an estimated 15,000 cubic yards of debris. 

You would think this would be most of the debris on the island. It only represents what was easy to remove and trees that were laying on houses. When you walk around the island you see all the trees in back yards or laying in yards no affecting streets or utilities. Sometime this week they are bringing in a large mulching machine and they will grind up the pile. I want to see the machine that will chew this thing up. 

Every day we are out and about on the island we realize and appreciate how fortunate we were to have virtually no damage. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

100 Years Ago Today

Today and perhaps for the next few days we are going to once again enter Mr. Peabody's Wayback Machine. So, strap in and enjoy the ride.
Today is October 23, 2016. My grandfather John James Sutor was born on October 23, 1906, so today would have been his 110th birthday. A century ago today he turned 10 years of age. I have spent the last couple of years going through old photographs, scanning them and documenting as best as I can who is in the picture and where the picture was taken. Along the way I happened across a photograph album and this was the first page on the inside.

The photo album was a gift from my great grandmother Mary Emma Parsons to my grandfather John James Sutor, Jr. I don't normally refer to my grandfather as a junior but since at times I will be referring to his father I must in order to distinguish between the two.

I want to say a few words about the photo album and its contents. The pictures contained in it are glued to the pages so they were scanned in place. It was difficult to get the album apart and put back together but it was done without damaging it or the contents.

What was the United States like in 1906 when my grandfather was born. Theodore Roosevelt was president. The flag had 45 stars. In April the San Francisco earthquake destroys much of that city killing at least 3,000. In September Bradbury Robinson of St. Louis University throws the first legal forward pass in an American football game. In November President Roosevelt takes a trip to Panama to inspect the progress of the construction of the Panama Canal. It was the first official trip outside the United States by a sitting president. The average life expectancy was 47 years. There were 8,000 cars in the United States and 144 miles of paved roads. The average wage was 22 cents per hour. The average worker made between 200 and 400 dollars per year. Over 95% of all births occurred at home. Sugar cost four cents per pound, eggs were fourteen cents per dozen and coffee was fifteen cents per pound.

By 1916 when he turned 10 years of age the president was Woodrow Wilson. The flag had 48 stars. In March Pancho Villa leads 500 Mexican raiders in an attack against Columbus, New Mexico killing 12 United States soldiers. United States troops pursue him across the boarder into Mexican territory. The Chicago Cubs in April play their first game at Weeghman Park (modern day Wrigley Field) defeating the Cincinnati Reds 7-6 in 11 innings. The cost of a loaf of bread was seven cents. Sugar was four cents per pound. The 40 hour work week officially began at the Endicott-Johnson factories. Only six percent of Americans had graduated high school. The average price of a car was $400.

The young fella on the left is my Grandfather John James Sutor, Jr. The picture is undated but he appears less than 4 years of age so my best guess is around 1910.

The picture above is my grandfather John James Sutor, Jr. in the middle flanked by his two older brothers Martin Parsons Sutor and Frank Bullard Sutor. It again appears we are in the area around 1910. None of the buildings in the picture are familiar to me. The two most likely locations are on the home farm in Sparta Township or the home place of his mother in Henderson Township.

I can add nothing to this picture. It is the Spoon River, but the where and why escape me. They are certainly lost forever in the mists of time.

The photograph above does not identify either of the women. I suspect I know who they are and will share by best guess. The woman on the left is most likely my great grandmother Mary Emma Parsons Sutor. Her father was Franklin Parsons born January 9, 1826 and married to Sarah Bullard on March 19, 1849. She passed away on March 25, 1869 at the age of 40. He remarried on September 5, 1871 taking Actus Baxter as his second wife. It is my suspicion that Actus Baxter is the woman on the right. The difficulty with pictures is that you may know who people are but unless you mark them somehow we are left guessing decades later.

The pictures above from the next page in the album appear to be from a school and school function. Once again I have no information on them.

The upper picture is interesting and helps lend some credence to the comments I made regarding the two women above. The woman on the left side of the picture is Mary Emma Parsons Sutor. Note how her head in this picture is tilted slightly in the same manner as the woman in the other picture. The facial features are similar enough to lead me to feel confident in her identification. The picture above is featured in a family history written by Paul R. Dick entitled "The Sutor Saga: Belfast to Zurich". The picture was provided by my grandfather and the people pictured are identified as follows. From left to right: Martin Parsons Sutor, Mary Emma Parsons Sutor, the boy in the sailor suit and the girl behind him are unidentified, John James Sutor, Jr., Frank Bullard Sutor, and John James Sutor, Sr. The picture was taken in 1918. The picture below it is of John James Sutor, Jr. While the picture is undated from his appearance in the one above in 1918, in the one below he appears older. Since he would have been 12 in 1918 we can reasonably assume in this one he has entered his teenage years.

No story about my grandfather would be complete without a picture of a dog. How or why the dog is sitting in a rocking chair in the yard is beyond me. I remember growing up there were always dogs around. Grandpa had at least 10 and often closer to 20.

The pictures above appear to have been taken in Galesburg at the house John James Sutor, Sr. and Mary Emma Parsons Sutor owned at 790 North Broad Street. The picture on the left is John James Sutor, Sr. The center picture is Mary Emma Parsons Sutor. The third picture is the two of them together.

The picture above and the last one for today is Martin Parsons Sutor. It states at the ranch which would lead one to think it was taken at the Sutor Brothers Ranch in Kansas. The trees and foliage cause me to question that. Where he was it was apparently hunting season. I know grandpa used to go out west to hunt so perhaps they went together.

The next picture is complicated and will require an entire blog post to explain. It will require some review of family history especially the Kansas portion of the family.

That is all for today aside from this. Happy birthday Grandpa. I know you are remember fondly by each of us. You have impacted our lives for the better in ways that you perhaps did not intend or realize. As a stone thrown in a pond causes ripples in the water, your life, your actions, your conduct and your legacy ripple through our lives and those of our children and grandchildren even today. Thank you.