Sikorsky Santa

What in the world would make me associate Santa with the Sikorsky H-19 Chickasaw helicopter?

The ex marines I hung out with on the sidewalks of Vilcabamba were tough. Not as tough now in their 60’s and 70’s as they were in their 20’s but still somewhat….tough. They didn’t like the pretend veteran. There are a surprising number of these folks. They will buy old medals on ebay and old uniforms and go out on the street asking for donations. “Help a disabled and homeless vet” Not really homeless but certainly shameless. So these grizzled vets have a sixth sense for anyone trying to “steal valor”, the euphemism for this pretenses of having served. Valor is, I guess, doing your job in spite of being scared shitless. So we are on the sidewalk of this little village in the Andes, drinking and telling war stories. Mine are pretty tepid. I never got shot at and was never scared shitless. So try to visualize their expressions when I told them I was at an American air base near Tokyo during the Korean war. Like hawks spotting a mouse in the open they swooped down and pounced. “Bull Shit!” they shouted, “You would have been five years old!” I said, “Yes, I was”, When my father, an Air Force Sargent was sent to Japan, I went too, along with my mother and sister. Why doesn’t anyone think of the tens of thousands of wives and children, dependents, accompanying service members overseas? So what reminded me of Santa when I saw that Korean War era aircraft? It was a Christmas tradition. On the several dozen US bases overseas Santa arrived on the tarmac in a chopper full of gifts. One of the welfare funds purchased the gifts and GI’s fight off homesickness, as they wrapped the presents. I am pretty sure I got a gift that way in Japan in the early 50’s. Then again in Greece and Libya in 1956, and ’57. So where did I see this ancient flying machine? an old movie on YouTube. Something about rescue choppers in the Korean war. Stirling Haden as the tough officer with a heart of gold. Yes, I am taking a break from the “doom” scrolling by watching old war movies. Sick eh? But I always justify myself by coming full circle. Igor Sikorsky was born in Kyiv Ukraine, then part of the Russian Empire. He fled west to escape the Bolsheviks who threatened to shoot him. So here is a flying machine fighting the decedents of Bolsheviks, designed by a refugee from Kyiv. Things don’t change much do they?

Published by glensketch

Retired from electronics industry. Ex USN ex USAF ex expat in Ecuador.

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