Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

John Mollison Interviews Old Guys and Draws Their Planes

Don Bryan and John Mollison

Lt. Col. Don Bryan, an Ace with the famous 352nd Fighter Group and John Mollison, Writer and Draw-er

The North American A-36 Apache, flown by Bill Creech.

The North American A-36 Apache. This was flown by Col. William T. "Bill" Creech, who flew 302 combat missions in WWII, Korea and Viet Nam. He wrote a book about all of that and more: The 3rd Greatest Fighter Pilot. It's available through authorhouse.com.

F4U-42 Corsair.

Eugene "Red" James flew the F4U-42 Corsair on display at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida. "Red" flew 136 combat missions in WWII and Korea. See the art on the nose of the plane? That signifiies being in the elite group, "The Checkerboarders."













Making Every Day A Memorial Day

A  few months back I met (by email) John Mollison, who had read an article I posted about the Burma Road. John is a a military historian and a tremendously gifted artist who uses that gift in an equally tremendous way. He draws, in meticulous detail, the planes of WW II pilots and gives them as thank you gifts for allowing him to interview them. 

John’s website is one of those that can take you days to fully explore–and you’ll go back for more.  John is modest and insists there are artists who draw in much more detail than he does–and he may be correct. But you can feel the caring in his work and I like that.  Check out the website here. 

I also found a neat article in a Pensacola newspaper about one of the subjects John interviewed, Eugene “Red” James. You can read it here.  

 On Memorial Day we honor our departed loved ones and we give special honor to all those who served in the United States Armed Forces. John Mollison honors our living WWII and Korean Conflict heroes and learns from them as well. On his website he says:

A question most-often asked is, “What’s the big thing you get out of all these interviews?”

For one, it’s a deep appreciation and looking-forward to growing old.   When I was born, the men I’ve interviewed were older than I am now. To put another way, they have an entire lifetime of wisdom and learning over me…and it shows.

Yet, these men are lively, vibrant, students of learning, humble and, in a few cases, could probably kick my butt if push came to shove.

 I look forward to aging like they have- strong, sharp and alive.

 And hopefully, the study of History will become more valued.  Living in the past is silly, but you have to admit that it points in fairly reliable directions.

I enjoy all of John Mollison’s website, but especially enjoy the photos of him and some of the pilots he has interviewed. You can check that page here. They look like people I would love to meet myself, so I envy John. I not only envy him his talent, I envy the creativity and thoughtfulness he has shown by using his talent to enrich the lives of others. He makes every day a Memorial Day. That is a good idea for all of us.

May 26th, 2010 Posted by | Life and Work, Training, Technology, Blogs, A/V etc. | 14 comments

The Burma-Ledo-Stillwell Road: “A Man’s Life For Every Mile.”

Several years ago I spoke at a meeting of Veterans of the China-Burma-India Campaign from World War II. Some of them had been engineers involved in the building of the Ledo Road, later called the Stilwell Road which improved and connected to the Chinese portion of the Burma Road. Now you see why it has been described as one of the greatest engineering feats of WWII–and perhaps in any war.


The Ledo road portion of the Stilwell road ran about 1,100 miles in every kind of environmental condition from jungle to mountain top, and was built by 15,000 American soldiers and engineers (60% who were African-Americans) and 35,000 local workers. 

In brief, here is the story: It was built to move supplies from India to China, through Burma. It was a vital supply line for our friends the Chinese, through the nation of our other friends, the Burmese, who we wanted to liberate from our bitter enemies, the Japanese, as we fought with our Allied friends Great Britain and Russia against the Axis powers, including our other bitter enemies, the Germans. (Great Britain had “annexed” Burma after a war in the late 1800s, and exiled the rulers to India.)

I’m not being flippant when I say this: Doesn’t it seem, throughout history and up until today, that we could save a lot of lives, property, money and heartache, if, every time there is a conflict, we could pretend that it is 50 years in the future?

The Veterans group I spoke to years ago were a wonderful group of men and a few women, and they were patriotic and enthused about life. They laughed and sang and had a great time. One of them was talking to  me about the 1,100 people, both soldiers and locals, who died while building the road. (Terrible construction accidents were a daily event, as were malaria outbreaks and strafing by Japanese planes.) He said, “It was Hell most of the time, now that I think about it. But in a strange way it was fun. We all had a job to do and we did it faster and better than anyone thought we could.”

Shortly after Buma was liberated and after they gained independence from the British Colonial system, the road stopped being used and the jungle reclaimed large portions of it. Many said the lives lost were even more tragic when one considered how little time the road was used and what became of our relations with China and Myanmar (as Burma is now called by the military government). Nevertheless, it was extremely valuable at the time. It was also a monument to brave men and women, doing the best they could in an incredibly challenging situation.

Since May 3rd when Cyclone Nargis destroyed large portions of coastal regions, you have likely read a great deal about Myanmar. You know now, if you did not before, how repressive (one might even say, murderous) the military government is. Myanmar is also a country of tremendous religious intolerance, and non-Buddhists (entire communities are involved in some cases) are not only persecuted, they are exterminated when possible–statements to the contrary by government leaders notwithstanding! (Buddhist monks who are opposed to the current military regime are also being persecuted and executed.)

Ironically, because the nation is so undeveloped, from the viewpoint of industrialization, utilities, transportation and other aspects of a supportive infrastructure, it also is a natural preserve for many animals and birds that are no longer found elsewhere.

You can read about Burma/Myanmar on many websites, and I encourage you to do so–I will refrain from picking and choosing the links for you, because views vary and not everything can be substantiated. Perhaps this recent tragedy will finally bring the conditions of Mayanmar to the attention of the world and every respectable country will become involved in finding solutions.

While you are reading, read about the Ledo Road. It is a fascinating part of history. But read it with respectful remembrance as well–especially since Memorial Day will be here soon. Look at the 24 switchbacks of the Ledo road, shown in the photo, think of the grit and determination involved in building it, and say thank you–maybe once for every torturous curve in the road!

May 21st, 2008 Posted by | Life and Work, Personal and Professional Development | 6 comments