the Wanderling

My first two years of high school I had a job running errands a couple of days a week for a badly burned, heavily scared, barely able to move ex-merchant marine. During World War II the merchant ship he was serving on was forming up into a convoy and was positioned amongst the other ships in the rear corner on the starboard side that he called "coffin corner," said by experienced hands to be the most easy picking location for submarines in a convoy. Just as the convoy got underway members of a U-boat wolfpack began striking at the edges of the convoy and my friend's ship torpedoed. In order to save himself he had no choice but to jump overboard, landing in an area with oil burning along the surface of the water, the fire scorching his skin as he plunged through and returned for air. He spent months in recovery and rehabilitation.

He had always been an avid reader and his months of recovery only contributed to an increased interest. He had lots and lots of books on Atlantis by Edgar Cayce, Ignatius Donnelly, and L. Sprague de Camp as well as a complete set of the Lost Continent of Mu books by James Churchwood. He told me when he was around my age he had become driven, actually obsessed with Atlantis and Mu.[1] Before he even got out of his teens he began traveling the world over to find or substantiate both places. But, the more and more ancient places he visited and more and more educated he became the more and more he became convinced neither place ever existed. In his quest, both pro and con, besides all the Atlantis and Mu books in his library, he had collected reams and reams of books, material, research and explanations that debunked nearly every single aspect of either continent or their civilizations that anybody could ever pose, except possibly one.

Replicating almost down to the letter an ancient Egyptian legend titled The Shipwrecked Sailor, a long ago tale that was transcribed on papyrus 40 centuries ago by Ameni-amenaa of the XII Dynasty (circa 1991-1805 BCE) was his own experience. The ex-merchant marine was found weeks, possibly months after his ship had been torpedoed somewhere in the Atlantic strapped by heavy ropes to a piece of debris floating all alone out in the middle of the ocean, and except for being unconscious and heavily scarred from the burn marks, which had seemingly healed, he was in pretty good shape. Everybody said it was a miracle, that his burns must had healed by the salt water. How he had made it in the open ocean without food or water nobody knew. Most people speculated he had been picked up by a U-boat and ejected at a convenient time so he would be found, although no record has ever shown up to substantiate such an event, nor did he recall ever being on a submarine, German or otherwise.

So thus follows The Shipwrecked Sailor of Egyptian legend:

"I was on my way to the mines of Pharaoh in a great ship rowed by a hundred and fifty sailors who had seen heaven and earth and whose hearts were stronger than lions. We rowed and sailed for many days down the Red Sea and out into the ocean beyond.

"The captain and the steersman swore that they knew the signs of the weather and that the wind would not be strong but would waft us gently on our way. Nevertheless before long a tempest arose suddenly and drove us towards the land. As we drew near the shore the waves were eight cubits in height and they broke over the ship and dashed it upon the rocks. I seized a piece of wood and flung myself into the sea just as the ship ran aground: a moment later it was smashed to pieces and every man perished.

"But a great wave raised the board to which I clung high over the sharp rocks and cast me far up the shore, on level sand, and I was able to crawl into the shelter of the trees out of reach of the cruel, angry sea.

"When day dawned the tempest passed away and the warm sun shone out. I rose up to see where I was, giving thanks to the gods for my delivery when all the rest had perished. I was on an island with no other human being to be a companion to me. But such an island as no man has seen! The broad leaves of the thicket where I lay formed a roof over my head to shield me from the burning midday sun. When I grew hungry and looked about for food, I found all ready for me within easy reach: figs and grapes, all manner of good herbs, berries and grain, melons of all kinds, fishes and birds for the taking.

"At first I satisfied my hunger on the fruits around me. And on the third day I dug a pit and kindled a fire in it on which I made first of all a burnt offering to the gods, and then cooked meat and fish for myself.

"As I sat there comfortably after an excellent meal I suddenly heard a noise like thunder. Nearly beside myself with terror, I flung myself on the ground, thinking that it was some great tidal wave come to engulf the island: for the trees were lashing as if at the breath of the tempest and the earth shook beneath me.

"But no wave came, and at last I cautiously raised my head and looked about me. Never shall I forget the horror of that moment. Moving towards me I saw a serpent thirty cubits long with a beard of more than two cubits. Its body was covered with golden scales and the scales round its eyes shaded off into blue as pure as lapis lazuli.

"The serpent coiled up its whole length in front of where I lay with my face on the ground, reared its head high above me, and said: 'What has brought you, what has brought you here, little one? Say, what has brought you to my island? If you do not tell me at once I will show you what it is to be burnt with fire, what is it to be burnt utterly to nothing and become a thing invisible. Speak quickly, I am waiting to hear what I have not heard before, some new thing!'

"Then the serpent took me in his huge jaws and carried me away to his cave, and put me down there without hurting me. Yes, though he had held me in his sharp teeth he had not bitten me at all; I was still whole.

"Then he said again, 'What has, brought you, what has brought you here, little one? Say what has brought you to this island in the midst of the sea with the waves breaking on all sides of it?'

"At this I managed to speak, crouching before him and bowing my face to the ground as if before Pharaoh himself.

" 'I sailed by command of Amen-em-het, Pharaoh of Egypt, in a great ship one hundred and fifty cubits in length to bring treasure from the mines of the south. But a great tempest broke upon us and dashed the ship upon the rocks so that all who sailed in her perished except for myself. As for me, I seized a piece of wood and was lifted on it over the rocks and cast upon this island by a mighty wave, and I have been here for three days. So behold me, your suppliant, brought hither by a wave of the sea.'

"Then the serpent said to me, 'Fear not, fear not, little one, nor let your face show sadness. Since you have come to my island in this way, when all your companions perished, it is because some god has preserved and sent you. For surely Amon-Re has set you thus upon this island of the blessed where nothing is lacking, which is filled with all good things. And now I will tell you of the future: here in this isle shall you remain while one month adds itself to another until four months have passed. Then a ship shall come, a ship of Egypt, and it shall carry you home in safety, and at length you shall die in your own city and be laid to rest in the tomb which you have prepared.

" 'And now I will tell you of this island. For it is pleasant to hear strange things after fear has been taken away from you and you will indeed have a tale to tell when you return home and kneel before Pharaoh, your lord and master. Know then that I dwell here with my brethren and my children about me; we are seventy-five serpents in all, children and kindred. And but one stranger has ever come amongst us: a lovely girl who appeared strangely and on whom the fire of heaven fell and who was turned into ashes. As for you, I do not think that heaven holds any thunderbolts for one who has lived through such dangers. It is revealed to me that, if you dwell here in patience, you shall return in the fullness of time and hold your wife and children in your arms once more.'

"Then I bowed before him, thanking him for his words of comfort, and said, 'All that I have told you is true, and if what you have said to me happens indeed, I shall come before Pharaoh and tell him about you, and speak to him of your greatness. And I will bring as offerings to you sacred oils and perfumes, and such incense as is offered to the gods in their temples. Moreover I shall tell him of all the wonders of this isle, and I shall sacrifice asses to you, and Pharaoh shall send out a ship filled with the riches of Egypt as presents to your majesty.'

" 'The king serpent laughed at my words, saying, 'Truly you are not rich in perfumes for here in this island I have more than in all the land of Punt. Only the sacred oil which you promise me is scarce here yet you will never bring it, for when you are gone this island will vanish away and you shall never more see it. Yet doubtless the gods will reveal it in time to come to some other wanderer.'

"So I dwelt happily in that enchanted island, and the four months seemed all too short. When they drew to a close I saw a ship sailing over the smooth sea towards me, and I climbed into a high tree to see better what manner of men sailed in it.

"And when I perceived that they were men of Egypt, I hastened to the home of the serpent king and told him. But he knew already more than I did myself, and said to me, 'Farewell, brave wanderer. Return in safety to your home and may my blessing go with you.'

"Then I bowed before him and thanked him, and he gave me gifts of precious perfumes of cassia and sweet woods, of kohl and cypress, of incense, of ivory and of other precious things. And when I had set these upon the ship and the sailors would have landed, the island seemed to move away from them, floating on the sea. Then night fell suddenly, and when the moon shone out there was no island in sight but only the open waves.

The day my Merchant Marine Friend told me the story about being found on the open sea he showed me a delicate gold necklace that had what looked like a small Chinese character dangling from it. He said one day in the hospital while being given a sponge bath he was looking in a hand mirror at his burn marks when he noticed he had the necklace around his neck. He never had a gold necklace in his life. When he asked the nurse where it came from she said as far as she knew he came in with it as it was found among the few personal effects he had with him. She said typically they would not put any jewelry on a patient but some of the staff thought that since he was so scarred by the burns that he might like a little beauty in his life so someone put it around his neck. He told me he had no clue where it came from or how it came into his possession, but for sure he didn't have it on before he was torpedoed. He said everybody always admired it and it appeared to be very ancient.

Several years later found me in a red-darkened strobe light lit bar sitting around with a handful of para-military types and close Army buddies in the Cholon district of Saigon gulping down a large amount of a seemingly never ending supply of of alcoholic beverages. From out of the smoky milieu of mostly horny and inebriated GIs, unsolicited, a tea girl attempted to sit on my lap and tried to put something around my neck. Pushing back I could see she held what appeared to be a gold necklace stretched between her hands. Hanging midway along the necklace was a small Chinese character. Basically grabbing the necklace from her hands I asked where it came from and how she got it. She turned pointing toward a group of barely discernible figures figures sitting and drinking toward the back of the barroom in the shadows along the darkened wall, telling me that one of the men, a burnt man, had paid her to put it on me. When I asked what she meant by a burnt man, using her hands in a swirling motion in front of her face combined with a snearing facial expression to indicate scars while gasping for air as if the man had a tough time breathing, said in broken english, "burnt man, burnt man." In just the few seconds it took me to work my way through the crowd to the back wall pulling the tea girl with me the burnt man, if there ever was a burnt man, was gone. Nor could anybody at any of the tables remember seeing or talking to a heavily scarred man, burnt or otherwise, sitting at any of the tables --- although some of the GIs were fully able to recall the girl.[2]

The necklace, which I still have and continue to wear to this day, from what I could remember, looked exactly like the one my merchant marine friend showed me and said to be mysteriously wearing out of nowhere the day he was found floating in the sea after his ship was torpedoed. The only problem is, by the time the incident in the Saigon bar occurred my friend had already been dead some ten years, having passed away during the summer between my sophomore and junior years in high school. At his memorial service I was told by family members, following a death bed request on his part, that in an effort to rejoin his fellow seamen he wanted to be cremated and his ashes tossed at sea near where his ship was torpedoed and, along with the ashes, the necklace returned to the sea as well. As far as I know those wishes had been complied with.[3]

As to the necklace itself and where it came from, my Merchant Marine Friend told me, as I've mentioned above, when he was around my age (i.e., my age then, the first two years of high school) he had become driven, actually obsessed with the lost continents of Atlantis and Mu. As soon as he could he began traveling the world to find or substantiate both places. But, the more and more ancient places he visited and more and more educated he became the more and more he became convinced neither place ever existed. In his quest, both pro and con, besides all the Atlantis and Mu books in his library, he had collected reams and reams of books, material, research and explanations that debunked nearly every single aspect of either continent or their civilizations that anybody could ever pose.

So said, even though I heard him say many times that he had long since lost faith in the existence of either of the lost continents, through inference he often related the origin of the necklace back to one or the other or both. However, the grounding source for the origin of the necklace usually falls back to Gyanganj, AKA Shambhala or Shangri-La.

How the necklace itself fell into his hands in the first place is still not known with any amount of certainty, although there are those who seemed to think he got it after being picked up by a German U-boat. He attributes it more to what is found in the story High Barbaree and The Shipwrecked Sailor. See also:



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My fascination with the varying aspects of time such as the flow of time, the warping of time and time itself, similar as to what is found in the passages above, is not just limited to the above, but finds its way weaved throughout a great deal of my works. Time and its varying aspects shows up most intensely so in Code Maker, Zen Maker as it goes into and explores the the mysterious hermitage said to exist somewhere beyond time in a remote area of the Himalayas known under a variety of names such as Gyanganj, Shambhala or Shangri-La and thought to be the grounding source for the gold necklace so mentioned as having belonged to the merchant marine and now in my possession.

It is my feeling my deeply rooted fascination with time came about when, as a small boy, I was taken to the ashram of the venerated Indian holy man the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi and the following happened as found in the source so cited:

"While sitting before the great Indian sage in the old hall, what felt like the start of a small tremble in my body like the shiver of a chill, only inside-out and warm, instantly spread all throughout me into a major explosion of light, and in the process of that explosion I underwent some sort of total mind-body altering transformation. Afterwards, those of whose charge I was under and other adults in my life around me --- and like me at the time not versed in Indian spirituality --- did not make a connection. They thought I had lost my mind in some fashion and saw what they described as a skewed perspective on things. Because of mitigating circumstances, as described in The Last American Darshan, the initial experience sank below my surface mind. However, in that brief window I was Awake I had grasped a very different view of the world and the falsehood of the standard view of time that everything in the every day world seems immersed in. Although that experience became deeply covered over, in my early years there still remained a lingering taste of that grasp just beyond my reach, enough so to continually strive to find my way back. To me, the unknowingly young lad that I was, breaking the mystery of time seemed the answer."(source)













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As to the subject of donations, for those who may be so interested as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.


As mentioned, in his youth the merchant marine had an obsession with Atlantis and the lost continent of Mu. In one of our extended conversations I remember him telling me about the Azores, a group of islands in the mid-Atlantic well off the coast of Portugal and Africa and how they related to the torpedo attack and Atlantis. Over a period of days during my regular daily visits my merchant marine friend had me get down a bunch of books and maps, spreading the maps all over the desk and all excited, explaining to me the early importance of the Azores in the myth of Atlantis. In several of the books he pointed out how Ignatius Donnelly, author of Atlantis: The Antediluvian World (1882), had first proposed that the Azores were the remnant remains of an Atlantean island continent --- and he told me how he always wanted to go to the islands because of it. He thought the convoy he was on was going to end up there. In those early months of the war a highly secret plan was being put into place for an invasion of North Africa.(see) How that invasion was going to work, during the time of the convoy, had not been finalized. One school of thought felt that staging an invasion from the Azores and Canary Islands would be a good idea. The other school of thought felt a direct invasion would be the best as taking over both islands first then building up men and materials would be a dead giveaway of a potential North African invasion. The convoy he was on was doing top secret pre-staging staging of equipment, material, and ships in Puerto Rico for a quick jump either to the Azores and Canaries or directly to North Africa. His ship was sunk before it ever reached Puerto Rico. For more please go to:





"Over a period of days during my regular daily visits my merchant marine friend had me get down a bunch of books and maps, spreading the maps all over the desk and all excited, explaining to me the early importance of the Azores in the myth of Atlantis. In several of the books he pointed out how Ignatius Donnelly, author of Atlantis: The Antediluvian World (1882), had first proposed that the Azores were the remnant remains of an Atlantean island continent --- and he told me how he always wanted to go to the islands because of it."

Again and again I am asked where is it in Ignatius Donnelly's book does he make reference to the Azores as being "remnant remains of Atlantis," a reference of which in turn drove the merchant marine to go there? The quote and map below are from Donnelly's book, linked above, Atlantis: The Antediluvian World, more specifically PART I, THE HISTORY OF ATLANTIS CHAPTER V: The Testimony of the Sea:

"Here, then, we have the backbone of the ancient continent which once occupied the whole of the Atlantic Ocean, and from whose washings Europe and America were constructed; the deepest parts of the ocean, 3500 fathoms deep, represent those portions which sunk first, to wit, the plains to the east and west of the central mountain range; some of the loftiest peaks of this range--the Azores, St. Paul's, Ascension, Tristan d'Acunba--are still above the ocean level; while the great body of Atlantis lies a few hundred fathoms beneath the sea. In these 'connecting ridges' we see the pathway which once extended between the New World and the Old, and by means of which the plants and animals of one continent travelled to the other; and by the same avenues black men found their way, as we will show hereafter, from Africa to America, and red men from America to Africa."



My merchant marine friend was actually a major celebrity or sorts, at least in the loose knit west coast merchant marine community where he lived, carrying a huge high level of notoriety and prestige ahead of himself. That notoriety and prestige, as focused as it was, stemmed from the mysterious events surrounding his survival, including the necklace, after being lost at sea and found alive out in the middle of the ocean months, and months later strapped to a piece of debris, hundreds and hundreds of miles away from the spot his ship was torpedoed. Merchant marines from all over used to come by to pay him homage. In that paying of homage he met all kinds of people of which one was a man named Bob Kaufman. Kaufman, after leaving the merchant marines would become very big in the Beat movement.

On one of the days Kaufman was visiting he noticed the necklace around the neck of the merchant marine. After asking him about it, then asking if it was OK to look at it, my friend, in that his hands were not nimble enough, had him remove it. Kaufman examined every minute detail. When he was done he handed the necklace back and told the merchant marine he was sure he had seen the exact same necklace once before. The merchant marine, so stunned it took what little air he had anyway away, gasping while searching for more air to respond, told Kaufman that was impossible because as far as he knew it was one of a kind, there was no other like it on our side of time. Kaufman told him some ten years before, during the early part of 1944, with the war still raging, he had sailed out of Philadelphia on board a Liberty ship headed toward India, ending up in Calcutta. He was stuck in Calcutta for about a month before being shipped out, sometime he thought, around the middle of May, 1944, albeit on a completely different ship than he came in on, called the S.S. Harold L. Winslow.

Kaufman said he had arrived in Calcutta on the S.S. James E. Eads, but missed shipping out because of a toothache. However, even before the toothache and the Eads leaving he said a man around 25 years old claiming he was an American soldier, although dressed in civilian clothes, came to the ship looking for him. The man that claimed to be a soldier told him he knew that he, Kaufman, would be arriving in Calcutta onboard the Ead. Kaufman also said the soldier told him that the two of them had a mutual friend, another merchant marine, which just happened to be the same merchant marine he was visiting. Since Kaufman missed his ship and was stuck in Calcutta for who knew how long, he and the soldier, who he said, was waiting for a CNAC flight out over the "hump" to China, got together several times.

Because of being military types, especially American military types, the "city" pretty much expected us to not wend off into the more palatable portions. Except for some minor overlapping there existed a separation between officers and enlisted men as well, although by large most American military types pretty much frequented the same general areas and places. Since Kaufman was a merchant marine and basically a civilian and nobody knew my status I had a tendency to lean toward the officer side of things when I was in Calcutta with the merchant marine. On one occasion we ran across a highly secret group of Army pilots in Calcutta of R&R who were training for bombing runs out of India into Japan, and of which I knew about and they knew me, at least the by proxy leader did. That proxy leader was a former Flying Tiger pilot with the rank of colonel named Robert L Scott Jr..

Early in the war Scott himself had been sent to India on a top secret mission to do the exact same thing, bomb Japan on a flight originating from China, only in those days using a B-17 instead of a B-29. Scott, visiting the B-29 training base took a few of the B-29 officer trainees into Calcutta for some much needed R & R. I just happened to be in Calcutta at the same time meeting with the merchant marine and it wasn't long before we ran into each other. Joining the group into Calcutta was an artist war correspondent for Life Magazine named Peter Hurd who was covering the Army Air Forces' worldwide air transport system. Hurd was on his second assignment after England, Europe, and Africa for Life Magazine and in doing so ended up for a time in India.

My Uncle was a fellow New Mexico WPA artist colleague and friend of Hurd. When Hurd was in India creating paintings he met a friend of my uncle, a 23 year old B-29 pilot named John Noble Cumming. Since we all came together at the same time and same place in Calcutta I met Cumming as well. Before the war Cumming was an artist and muralist assistant for the great Mexican muralist Diego Rivera and how it was my uncle knew him. So respected was Cumming's work by Rivera he included his image in the 15.75 foot high by 37.5 foot long mural "Man Controller of the Universe" he painted in the museum in Mexico City. Cumming was killed two weeks before his 24th birthday when his Superfortress crashed during a "hump" related bombing run over the Himalayas headed toward Japan in World War II.

It was during one of those Calcutta meetings Kaufman first noticed the necklace I wore around my neck, and during one of those meetings he asked to see it, examining it up close very carefully. After the war and back in the states, even though many years has passed since he had been in Calcutta and seen the necklace, it was so unique that there was no doubt that the one he saw that the soldier had and the one that he, the merchant marine was wearing, were exactly the same.

Like Kaufman, almost all of the major Beat poets, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Carl Solomon, Gary Snyder, and Herbert Huncke served in the merchant marines at one time or the other. Actually, because of Kaufman, in a roundabout way Ginsberg got caught up in all the necklace stuff as well. See:


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The "highly secret plan" was Operation Torch. Operation Torch was the over-arcing name designation for the entire invasion campaign of Vichy French North Africa in November, 1942. The convoy forming up that my merchant marine friend was on was in support of that operation and of which at the time was under a tight security umbrella.

Imbedded within the main operation were a number of smaller operations of which one, Operation Villain, I write about elsewhere, mainly in connection with a fully gassed and ready to go C-47 found in 1945 stashed away on a remote, abandoned airstrip out in the middle of the Nevada desert filled with flight instructions all written in German. The C-47 was one of 39 that was originally used in Operation Villain. How it ended up in Nevada, nobody seems to know. That fully gassed and ready to go unmarked C-47 did, however, eventually lead me, albeit in a roundabout way, to the Castle Air Museum in California's central valley and the existence of a B-29 Superfortress named Raz'n Hell that is one of many planes on display in their rather extensive collection. The difference between Raz'n Hell and the rest of the planes on display is that Raz'n Hell is reputed to be haunted. See:


As to the C-47s I offer the following:

The plan for Operation Villain was to use paratroopers of the 2nd Battalion 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment to seize Tafaraoui and La Senia airfields in Algeria.

A full compliment of 2/509 PIR paratroopers left England aboard 39 C-47's with the intention of flying over Spain into North Africa. No sooner had the formation left England than it was scattered due to unforecasted bad weather and after that, never able to reform. One plane landed at Gibraltar, four were interned in Spanish Morocco, two landed at Fez in French Morocco and three were reported as flying over Le Senia and being driven off by anti-aircraft fire.

Over a dozen C-47's were clustered together after landing on the western edge of the Sebkra d'Oran' dry lake without air dropping their troops. Ten other C-47s dropped their parachutists in the same area then landed at the eastern edge of the Sebkra and inturn, taken prisoner. Some of the paratroopers under command of Major William P. Yarborough attempted to march around the Sebkra and seize Tafaraoui airfield, a distance of over 20 miles. After covering roughly ten miles, and basically stranded because the terrain was so difficult to traverse, they radioed for help. Three C-47s, after siphoning fuel from sister ships, took off to retrieve them. No sooner had they picked up the troopers than six French Dewoitine fighter planes strafed the fuselages. The pilots turned the planes around making it toward the Sebkra crash landing at 130 miles per hour. The French fighters made three more strafing runs on the grounded aircraft, killing five and wounding fifteen. In the end just 14 planes of the original 39 planes were operational enough to fly right away, with a number missing or unaccounted for. So too, only 15 paratroopers out of the whole band that filled the 39 planes were judged fit enough to return to combat on an immediate basis. An accurate count on the dead, wounded and missing unclear.

Operation Villain was a complete fiasco, for the most part a total flop from one end to the other. Its over-arcing operation, Operation Torch initially wasn't far behind although eventually through the hard work, dedication and pure perseverance, in less than six months in North Africa the tide had turned in the Allies favor with the Germans fully on the run. Re the following regarding 100 German troop transports loaded to the gills with soldiers being secretly ferried out of Africa and caught by a group of P-40 Warhawks in what has become known as the "Goose Shoot":

"On Sunday, April 18, 1943 the U.S. Army Air Force's 57th Fighter Group stationed at El Djem, Tunisia in North Africa, on a routine mission over Cape Bon had 46 P-40 Warhawks in the air along with 18 British Spitfires flying top cover. Low on fuel and basically returning to base they came across a 100 plane flotilla of German JU-52 German troop transport planes flying just above sea level over the Mediterranean, escorted by 50 Messerschmitt fighters. Catching the Germans completely off guard, while the Spitfires drew off the Messerschmitts and kept them busy, the P-40s split into pairs diving on the enemy planes tearing the transports to shreds, with an overall kill count of 77 enemy aircraft destroyed."


Even though the operations were, if not out-and-out fiascos they were close on the heels of one. What made it work was that a number of people took it upon themselves to do it their own way and make it right.

Artist-cartoonis Milton Caniff the creator of Terry and the Pirates created a fighter pilot for the strip he called Flip Corkin. Corkin was based on a real life fighter pilot with the then rank of Major, Philip G. Cochran. Most of the Corkin character's adventures in the strip circulated around the use of P-40s in the China-Burma-India theater during World War II with the planes so illustrated carrying all the markings of the Flying Tigers. The real life pilot, Philip G. Cochran, however, before any CBI affiliation, earned his reputation as the squadron commander of "J" Squadron also known as the Joker Squadron flying P-40s in North Africa as part of the 33rd Fighter Group. He also flew P-40s for the 57th Fighter Group as a member of the 65th Fighter Squadron known as the Fighting Cocks. Read on and see how he took matters in his own hands, a Major, and made a success out of the hand he was dealt:

Hardly anyone ever puts P-40s and aircraft carriers together. However, Cochran's P-40 equipped "J" Squadron, arriving off the coast of North Africa flew from the deck of a flattop as well as being the first to catapult P-40 Warhawks from the deck of a aircraft carrier and recover them in Casablanca. Re the following from the source so cited:

"While the idea of catapulting the P-40s may have been a cutting edge idea, the actual execution of the plan would prove to be less than simple. Although the ship was equipped to accommodate aircraft operations, the P-40s were not able to operate off a ship because they were too heavy. After stripping the Warhawks of ammunition, navigation equipment, and excess fuel, Major Cochran (squadron commander) and his deputy flight lead were catapulted from the ship, breaking both the catapults in the process, thus leaving 34 pilots to determine how they were going to launch. Throughout the remainder of the day, all but three aircraft were able to make it to Casablanca; two aircraft went down where the pilots were recovered and one went down without the pilot being recovered.

"The invasion was in its early stages, and organization systems were fragile if not nonexistent. Finding no assignments and no place to go, Cochran decided to keep the group together and headed off in the general direction of the war. By inquiring locally as they flew short hops, they eventually found an Army infantry unit at a flat spot in the desert who were more than happy to have their own air cover.

"Cochran immediately set up a training schedule for his recruits, commandeered infantry trucks to find supplies, fuel, and ammunition from wherever they could be borrowed or pilfered, and in a few weeks had a cohesive fighting squadron. Being formed outside of Air Force jurisdiction and having no official number, they dubbed themselves the "Joker Squadron," and adopted bright red scarves are their symbol."(source)

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At the end of the summer of 1953, just as I was about to start the 10th grade or so, the August - September #6 issue of the comic book Mad came out. Inside #6 was a story, drawn by my all time favorite non-animator cartoonist Wallace Wood, that spoofed or satired big-time the long running comic strip Terry and the Pirates, with Wood in his spoofing, calling it Teddy and the Pirates.

Although I had followed Terry and the Pirates a good portion of my life, and knew how Milton Caniff, the artist-cartoonist of the strip, presented Terry's world that he and his so-called Pirates lived in, Wood's top-half opening drawing below, showing his version of an underbelly far east like milieu, real or not, that exemplified the Asian atmosphere along with the rest of the story hit me like a hammer, with me, the teenager that I was, sucking up his version as my version and as my version, the real version. Ten years later, thanks to Uncle Sam and his friendly Selective Service, found me in Rangoon, Saigon, and Chiang Mai, as well as other such places, even meeting warlords. Those ten years after high school, especially in and where I traveled, having gone from a teenager to an almost mid-twenties GI, my vision not only didn't wane, but was bolstered and grew. Notice the tommy guns, stabbings, hand grenades and exotic women. So too in the second panel, i.e., lower left hand corner, the two crashed P-40 Flying Tigers. See:


(please click image)



(please click image)