Walk the Plank

Click on the photo several times to see a larger version.
Click on the photo several times to see a larger version.

Aargh, matey!  Shiver me timbers, hoist the mainsail, trim the mizzenmast!  Look lively, ye scurvy crew or ye’ll clean the scuppers and walk the plank to meet Davey Jones!

Ah, the life of a Barbary pirate!  Always wondering what in the world the captain is saying!!!!  Mizzenmast?  Scuppers?  Huh?!?!?!

Well, I’m sure that it wasn’t all that glamorous in spite of what Captain Jack Sparrow might have us believe, but there were many who did talk that walk on the plank and died in Davey Jones’ locker.  Not all planks, though, are on board sailing ships.

Take today’s photo, for example.  This photo was shot one morning along a levy near Manteca, CA as we were walking the dog.  We walk along the top of the levy and part of the San Joaquin river is on one side and farm land is on the other.  This contraption is a pump that pumps the water out of the river for irrigating the farm land.  It is interesting to see how it works, but what I find interesting about it is the plants leading up to the pump.  I’d not want to walk them, would you?

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1944, in what would become known as the “Marianas Turkey Shoot,” U.S. carrier-based fighters decimated the Japanese Fleet with a minimum of losses in the Battle of the Philippine Sea.

The security of the Marianas Islands, in the western Pacific, were vital to Japan, which had air bases on Saipan, Tinian, and Guam. U.S. troops were already battling the Japanese on Saipan, having landed there on the 15th. Any further intrusion would leave the Philippine Islands, and Japan itself, vulnerable to U.S. attack. The U.S. Fifth Fleet, commanded by Admiral Raymond Spruance, was on its way west from the Marshall Islands as backup for the invasion of Saipan and the rest of the Marianas. But Japanese Admiral Ozawa Jisaburo decided to challenge the American fleet, ordering 430 of his planes, launched from aircraft carriers, to attack. In what became the greatest carrier battle of the war, the United States, having already picked up the Japanese craft on radar, proceeded to shoot down more than 300 aircraft and sink two Japanese aircraft carriers, losing only 29 of their own planes in the process. It was described in the aftermath as a “turkey shoot.”

Admiral Ozawa, believing his missing planes had landed at their Guam air base, maintained his position in the Philippine Sea, allowing for a second attack of U.S. carrier-based fighter planes, this time commanded by Admiral Mitscher, to shoot down an additional 65 Japanese planes and sink another carrier. In total, the Japanese lost 480 aircraft, three-quarters of its total, not to mention most of its crews. American domination of the Marianas was now a foregone conclusion.

Not long after this battle at sea, U.S. Marine divisions penetrated farther into the island of Saipan. Two Japanese commanders on the island, Admiral Nagumo and General Saito, both committed suicide in an attempt to rally the remaining Japanese forces. It succeeded: Those forces also committed a virtual suicide as they attacked the Americans’ lines, losing 26,000 men compared with 3,500 lost by the United States. Within another month, the islands of Tinian and Guam were also captured by the United States.  (It was from Tinian that the Enola Gay would eventually depart to drop the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.)

The Japanese government of Premier Hideki Tojo resigned in disgrace at this stunning defeat, in what many have described as the turning point of the war in the Pacific.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  The word left in English comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lyft, which means weak or broken. The Oxford English Dictionary defines left-handed as meaning crippled, defective, awkward, clumsy, inapt, characterized by underhanded dealings, ambiguous, doubtful, questionable, ill-omened, inauspicious, and illegitimate.

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