BentProp Team member Joe Maldangesang arrived in Washington, DC on the afternoon of Monday, 26 April, after a 27-hour trip from Palau.

He participated with the rest of the BentProp team in the ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) honoring the crew members of B-24 #42-73453, which was shot down on 1 September 1944, and whose crash site was located (after a 10-year search) by the BentProp team in January 2004. Over the course of three recovery missions, teams from JPAC and MDSU-1 recovered remains of all eight crew members of that aircraft from the underwater crash site. Remains of the crew members were honored and laid to rest at ANC on Thursday, 29 April 2010.

Several team members stayed in DC for the next few days, doing some sightseeing and sharing the sights and chunks of our country's history and culture with Joe, who has never been in the U.S. before.

2 May

Joe began a trek across the continent on which many of us wish we could join him. He's going to travel by car, light plane, and train to visit and hang out with various team members as he makes his way from our nation's capital to sunny San Diego.

On this first leg, I had the honor of driving Joe across the beautiful springtime Allegheny Mountains from Arlington to my home north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Before leaving Arlington, we had breakfast with my son-in-law Greg Kovacs and my two grandsons, Reid and Clark. Greg and I were both members of the 2000 BentProp expedition (P-MAN II).

Joe with Greg, Reid, and Clark Kovacs

We stopped briefly at the National Air and Space Museum annex at Dulles airport. Joe got to examine an F-4U Corsair up close, but the aircraft he's been wanting to see for several years was an OS-2U Kingfisher (there's an object that we think is part of a Kingfisher tip float in the mangroves on the south side of Airai).

Joe outside the National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles airport.

Joe's long-sought OS-2U Kingfisher

Kingfisher tip float

We drove back through the Virginia countryside - Leesburg and Winchester - then up through Berkeley Springs, West Virginia and on to my home in Valencia, Pennsylvania.

3 May

Joe's day in Pittsburgh started with a ride on the "Duquesne Incline," an inclined railroad that runs up the side of Mt. Washington, a ridge that borders the south side of the Monongahela River as it passes downtown Pittsburgh, and a bit of the Ohio River beyond downtown. Spectacular view, looking down on the city's Golden Triangle.

The "Incline." It's the fastest - and by far the coolest - way to get from the river to the top
of Mt. Washington, despite being based on late-1800s technology - or maybe because of it.

Joe surveys Pittsburgh from beside the upper Incline building.

Downtown - "the golden triangle." The confluence of the Allegheny River (top) and the
Monongahela River (right) is the origin of the Ohio River (left).

Heinz Field, where the Steelers play. Joe has been a Steelers fan since childhood,
and he's won some serious money betting on them...

The Carnegie Museum's Science Center. That's the submarine "Requin" tied up alongside.
She's a Tench-class diesel boat that entered service in early 1945 but did not see combat service.

After the big overview from Mt. Washington, we took a 1.5-hour tour of Heinz Field, home of the Steelers, on whom Joe has won considerable money over the years. Among the things Joe saw were press boxes, a breathtakingly plush high-roller's suite, the field up close, and the locker rooms.

The game that brought this Lombardi Trophy to the Steelers was also very good to Joe.

Pretty good view from the print press box, but the windows don't open.

An insider's view of the Steelers' locker room.

After the tour of Heinz Field, we walked across the street to the Carnegie Museum's Science Center and toured the Requin, a submarine built in 1945.

Just emerging from a tour of the Requin, Joe concluded that a 75-day cruise with 81 men
on a boat this size is probably not duty that he'd be likely to volunteer for.


Before heading back home we stopped by Fidelity Flight Simulation's shop. That's the place where I spend some time as an instructional and aeronautical consultant. Joe got to see several simulators in various stages of construction, including a very special Beech King Air that's going to train people who fly some cool and dangerous missions in a faraway place. For example, we got to see it flying around the air base where BentProp team member Mark Swank is presently stationed. Another cool simulator under construction is for the control room of a big, deep-water offshore drilling rig. In fact, it's modeled after the control room of a specific rig that I've visited a couple of times, which happened to be about 7 miles away when the Deepwater Horizon rig blew up a couple of weeks ago...

Monday evening Joe had dinner with Reid's daughter Kate and her family, who live nearby: Gene, Mason, Kaleb, Reid, Joe, Kate.
Evidently everyone got the "Wear Black" memo except Kaleb.

4 May

This morning, Flip Colmer flew the family Meyers 200 (it's Rebecca's...she lets Flip fly it) down to an airport near us and picked up Joe and me for a quick flight to let Joe see the cemetery on the hill above Friendly, West Virginia, where some of the ashes of B-24 pilot Jack Arnett will be interred beside his parents on 15 May. We had great visibility and a slightly bumpy ride, passing directly over downtown Pittsburgh twice. After dropping me off back in Pennsylvania, Flip took Joe on the next leg of the adventure, back to Chelsea, Michigan, near Ann Arbor. There, Joe will spend a couple of days with Flip and Paul Schwimmer before departing on Friday for Memphis.

Rebecca Colmer's beautiful, comfortable, speedy Meyers 200.

Flip completes the "You probably won't need a bucket for anything, but just in case..." briefing.

The Friendly, West Virginia cemetery, where a service for Jack Arnett will be held on 15 May.

Joe graduates to the copilot seat for the flight to Michigan.

Heading westward toward Michigan. Leg 2 begins.

4 May, continued

I picked up Joe from Reid and we headed west to Michigan. Once we were safely airborne, I gave Joe control of the airplane. He's as good a pilot as he is a boat captain. Enroute from the Greater Pittsburgh area, we toured Cleveland and Lake Erie, Put-In-Bay and the Perry Memorial, my house, and finally landed in Tecumseh, Michigan. We raced up to Chelsea as we were pressed for time. We had a dinner planned for Joe, but it was also shotgun night at my gun club.

A quick hello to Rebecca and out we went with a promise to be back by 6 p.m. Joe had never fired a shotgun before, so this was going to be a new experience. Guns of all kinds are illegal in Palau and if you get caught with just one bullet, it's a 15-year mandatory sentence. We arrived and had the trap range to ourselves. One of our club members is an instructor and took Joe under his wing. Our entire club knows about Joe because both Paul Schwimmer and I are members and have told many stories about BentProp, and Joe, in Palau.

We had time for one round of trap. Joe killed a number of birds (see sequence for proof) and we got home by 6 p.m.

Joe converts one bright-orange bird into multiple bright-orange pieces, using gunpowder.

At 6:30pm, the usual suspects showed up at our house in honor of Joe. A great meal, low carb, and fellowship followed. Everyone at the table knows about Joe and really wanted to meet him. We hung out until the chill set in. I think Joe is getting acclimated to below 80 temperatures: notice the short sleeves under his fleece!

5 May

We were planning on going Walleye fishing with Paul today but the weather forecast said not to be out on Lake Erie. So, we took Joe to Cabelas and got him some jungle pants for next year. He tasted elk for the first time and got to see animals from all over the world.

Our timing got a bit off as our tour of the Yankee Air Museum's B-17 got moved up to 4pm. So, we putzed around and then took our tour. We had dinner at a locally famous restaurant, Haab's, in Ypsilanti. Then to the Yankee Air Museum's monthly meeting where we introduced Joe to the membership and showed the movie Last Flight Home. I followed that up with the slide show presentation of the Doyle Memorial Funeral and Joe answered questions from the crowd.

Now comfortable in the right seat, Joe checks out a B-17.

Paul, Joe, Randy Hotten (Director of the Yankee Air Museum) Flip, and Paul's son Marcus. Joe's beginning to look like a Wolverine...

Joe is downstairs catching up on the basketball standings while I type.

6 May

Joe is still a bit off time zones from his travels across the big pond, so we let him sleep in. Paul came over for morning coffee about 0930 and we rousted Joe out of bed. Today we are continuing Joe's experiences in the shooting sports. I live 500 yards from a gun club so it certainly is convenient. Our plan was to shoot pistols in the morning, break for lunch and then do rifles in the afternoon.

First things first, a bit of firearms safety training. Then some shooting. Then some pointers. Then some training and some more shooting. The bottom line, don't mess with Joe. Joe got to fire pistols from small .22s to .45s. Lots of fun.

We broke for lunch and joined Rebecca and Dana (local friend who is a flight attendant for Delta) at The Common Grill. Back to the range for the boys and the girls did afternoon girl things.

Joe got to try out a World War Two M1 Carbine and a current day AR-15. Again, don't mess with Joe.

This is a great time of the year in Michigan. It is warm in the day, cool at night. It's also a time where you see many people wandering the woods in search of morel mushrooms. A grand Michigan tradition. Rebecca told Joe what we were looking for and off we went into the woods. Like Palau, it can get thick. And you have to be wary of all the predators: the giant ducks and the crouching cats.


And as you might expect, Joe found the mushrooms first. And big ones they were. As for me, the only time I find these valuable fungi is when they come out of the discharge chute of my lawnmower.

A little drive through the countryside and we headed towards sushi. Joe has been suspect of fish since he left Palau. After all, it's as fresh as fresh can be out there. Tuna in Michigan? Could be frozen. When I mentioned sushi he questioned Americans running a sushi joint. When I told him it was run by Japanese, he said okay. And after we tried various kinds, Joe gave his seal of approval to Godaiko of Ann Arbor, MI.

No trip to Chelsea is complete without seeing where all the boxes of Jiffy Mix come from. Even those sold in Palau.

7 May

This morning, Joe and I headed to the local barbershop to get the rough edges taken off.

Then I dropped Joe at the train station in Ann Arbor for the next leg of his journey. He rides the train from here to Chicago, and after a 3.5-hour layover, he boards an all-night train to Memphis, Tennessee (that train is the famous "City of New Orleans").

8 May

Promptly at 630 a.m., the "City of New Orleans" pulled into the station in Memphis and Joe emerged. He says he likes the train and slept all the way from Chicago until the nice lady knocked on his door and gave him a wake up with the "Memphis - 20 minutes!" call.


It was too early to tour Graceland where Elvis once lived (and is now buried)
but we did a drive-by and took a picture outside the mansion at the wall.

And what would a morning be without a stroll in the Cypress swamps?
(Joe said they were Memphis Mangroves!) at the William B. Clark Nature Preserve.

Now Joe is getting settled in the guest apartment in the Beech house, after having to weave his way past the Beech 18 and T6 that are undergoing their annual inspections. If all goes right the T6 will be done today and Joe may get a ride tomorrow!

He reminded me that it is now 1 a.m. in Palau and he should be sleeping. (it is now 9 a.m. here in Moscow, Tennessee) I hear a nap calling!

So after Joe took a rest, he rested some more, then I woke him up. I introduced him to our daughters Holly and Heather. Holly made sandwiches for us before we headed to Memphis to the Dixon Gallery and Garden. Our good friends, Tom and Laura Bullion gave us the deluxe tour of the Gardens, along with Kathy and John Poynor.

We enjoyed a wonderful gourmet picnic while listening to the Symphony in the Gardens with selections from Mozart, Dvorak and Tchalkovsky as well as Rossini's legendary William Tell Overture.

Joe makes friends easily and before we knew it we found him seated with Alice in Wonderland and family.

Joe said it was his first symphony. I think he enjoyed it! He really enjoyed watching the children play.

He is missing his boys, Doyle and Quint, who are at home in Palau with his beautiful wife Esther.

When Joe arrived in Memphis on Saturday morning he was excited that he had finally made contact with his sisters who live in the U.S. He has a sister in Texas and several in California. I also learned that he has a daughter who lives in the States and a grandson whom Joe has not yet met. Joe hasn't seen his daughter in over three years and was not sure where she is living.

By the end of the day today, Joe had made contact with his daughter. She lives in California and he will get a chance to see her when he's there next week. He also received the great news that in addition to meeting his grandson, he also has a 6-month-old granddaughter who will soon meet her Grandfather!

9 May

After a nice Mother's Day brunch at my favorite Japanese Grill and Sushi we headed to the Memphis Zoo. Lions, and Tigers and Bears, Oh my!

My friend and fellow MD11 pilot, Kandy, is a docent at the zoo. She joined us and gave us a personalized tour. She knows the names and great facts about the animals.

We have new baby giraffes!

Watching the Sea Lion Show was fun! They can even throw Frisbees!

Kandy took us to the Educational area of the zoo and was able to bring us some animals to get to know better.

We met Stella the hedgehog, a three banded armadillo and this beautiful and soft chinchilla.

When we arrived back at Hawks'Nest, there was aircraft activity! The T6 had just finished its annual and was ready to go flying! There was a visiting Cessna 195, and did I mention we had a visiting PT26 yesterday too?

To finish out our day, we went for a walk and fed the Catfish in our pond, then torched off the grill for Cheeseburgers in paradise. We have had a cold snap here in Memphis and the temps only got into the low 70's today. It was chilly for all, but especially Joe. We put the patio heater right next to Joe's chair for dinner.

May 10

Monday morning, May 10th, in Moscow,TN was Wet!

Joe woke to a heavy rain and kept thinking it would pass but by 11 am when it did not lighten up, he put on his rain coat and made a run for the house from his accommodations at the Beech House. A little more ESPN, then we had a little lunch and then made a run to Wal-mart to pick up a few things he needed and gifts for the family back home in Palau. We picked up Holly and Heather at school on our way back.

Heather, Joe and I were about to go on a four wheeler ride to show Joe the property, when Heather made a dash back to the house (at a full run) and didn't see the pitot tube on Yak as she ran....

Yes, that long pointy thing is a pitot tube. It is what makes the airspeed instrument work
in the cockpit. It is also what cleans the clock of a 13 (tomorrow) year old in a full run.

You're not having fun 'til you're needing 9-1-1! After some blood, tears, ice and butterfly bandages, Joe and I were off for a property tour without Heather. Heather had a CAT scan this morning after the school called and said she was seeing stars! Her brain is OK and just dealing with a minor concussion!

We saw a couple wild turkeys, and many mud puddles on our ride!

Joe and Rolly playing! Notice the treehouse in the background
that Bob Holler built for the girls the last winter he was with us.

Before we cleaned up, we had to visit the Magnolia tree
that we have planted in Bob's honor. Joe fed it a Sam Adams beer,
Bob's favorite. The tree is strong and healthy and beautiful, just like BOB!

Notice the full bellies at the train station as we wait for the City of New Orleans
to pull into the station. We went for Interstate BBQ on the way.
Memphis has more BBQ restaurants than any other city in the world.
Yes, there was a doggie bag for the train!

The train was a few minutes late, but we got Joe loaded up, ready for
some sleep in his cabin. He likes his sleeper on the train.

It was an honor and a pleasure to have Joe visit our home in Moscow, Tennessee. Happy Trails, my friend!

11 May

Hi, BentProp Team!

It was an honor to finally meet Joe and to spend some time with him! The weather today in Chicago - cold, rainy, windy, VERY low ceiling - was not quite what it should be for this time of year, but at least Joe will be prepared for Seattle!

Joe’s arrival at Union Station, without the shoot-out scene from the “Untouchables” movie.

Mandatory acquisition of Chicago Cubs memorabilia (and Notre Dame t-shirts for his sons… sorry).

“City views” from the lakefront near Adler Planetarium

And finally, a trip to Chicago wouldn’t be complete without
some “legendary” Chicago style deep dish pizza from Pizzeria Uno,
founded in 1943. My son Bill was able to join us since his office is a only a block away
…and what son has ever passed up a free lunch?

It truly was an honor and privilege to meet Joe and hear his BentProp stories firsthand. Thank you all for the incredible work you perform in returning American heroes home to their loved ones!

All the best,


p.s. Joe departed on time and is enroute to Seattle!

Derek Abbey adds:

Thanks for taking the time to add to JUST 2010, Joe's US Tour 2010. That was definitely a whirlwind tour and more than I've even seen of Chicago. The weather certainly looks as though it was preparing him for his Seattle stop. We might have to buy Joe an extra suitcase or two when he gets to San Diego for all of the souvenirs that he is bringing home. I'm starting to picture in my head the conversation that Joe is going to have with the next American that he is hosting at NECO when they ask him if he's ever been to the US and where he went.
I'm sure I speak for all of the BentProp crew when I say thanks again [to you and your son] for acting as the Chicago tour guide and taking the time to host Joe for the afternoon.

And Reid Joyce adds:

For anyone who wants to track Joe's progress on AMTRAK's "Empire Builder" train, here are a couple of fun things to read. One CAUTION, though: if you have a tendency to be jealous, you probably shouldn't read this stuff. It's going to make you want to be traveling with Joe!

13 May

We are trying! Downtown and Space Needle today, Microsoft store and Mt. Rainier tomorrow, day of sailing on Sat. Whew! He is just hitting his stride, and we are already exhausted!

Joe brings sunshine to Seattle!

There's supposedly 16" of snow still up at Paradise Lodge, good for an iceball fight--hopefully no one loses an eye. With such a beautiful day on offer, Rainier is not to be missed (just don't tell anybody about all the sunny days we have up here--it's a secret).

Once Joe caught a glimpse of Pacific waters he seemed to relax a little. Just a short boat ride home now! Here's hoping we can keep the stingray out of his diet until Sunday [Esther, answering an earlier question about Joe's eating preferences, mentioned that he doesn't like stingray. Happily, it's generally not a problem to avoid stingray for most of us who live stateside. - Reid]

13-15 May

"Top 10 Things Joe Likes About the Northwest"

10. Freezing my ass off in 40-degree glacial runoff

9. Bill Gates' house: "where is it?"

8. Sunshine

7. Papaya nut -- not bad if you add Palauan lime!

6. Real sushi instead of that crap from Michigan

5. Snow

4. King salmon grilled on cedar planks

3. "Big, tall, old" trees

2. Vietnamese grocery store: Taro, fresh fish, crabs, fresh leafs, betel nut

1. No poison tree

Joe came in on Thursday and his departure on Sunday the 16th still seemed a long way off; we had activities to do, sights to see, fish to catch.

But as we moved toward the weekend he started talking more and more about his daughter and her two kids and how he couldn't wait to see them. Things really hit a fever pitch on Saturday night, after a day of fishing on Puget Sound in the Tacoma Narrows as we were driving back home. The next day would be Sunday, he said, and he'd have to get on the train in the morning, but wouldn't arrive until 21 hours later at Davis [near Sacramento] and get to see his daughter. Not only that, but she had to work on Monday so he'd have to wait until Tuesday to spend any time with her. You could tell he was starting to feel it that he would have just Tuesday and half of Wednesday with her.

[Reid interjects the following, as background to our readers: Those of you who know the way BentProp operates understand why one of our mottos is "Semper Gumby" - Always Flexible. Another more recent motto: "A plan isn't a plan until it's too late to change."]

So I asked him the critical question: "Joe, would you be okay flying to Sacramento?" Long, dramatic, thoughtful pause: "Yes."

So it was a quick call to Dan O'Brien to make sure this was a) kosher and b) wouldn't jeopardize Joe's remaining train itinerary. Then onto the Web to see what could be done. He was very nervous about flying, but apparently navigated his way to the gate, fought the fear, and got onboard. Way to go, Joe!

This is for Mikey. Mikey, this is how the pros do it.

Dan O'Brien takes over the narrative

16 May

Ok, so there I was being wined and dined in Napa Valley late into the night on 15 May, by good friends (doesn't everyone in California hang out in Napa?) and whilst driving home at midnight or so my phone rings and it is Rick and Joe from Seattle, asking the details of Joe's next train travel leg leaving Seattle on Sunday am and arriving in Davis, CA at 7am on Monday.

There appears to be a bit of a problem: Joe wants to be in Davis, CA like right now! No slow, lounging train ride 24 hours later. Why, you ask? 'Cause over the past 18 days the BentProp homestay squad has been working with Joe searching the internet, Facebook, MySpace, etc., looking for a long-lost contact from Palau. And just like in Palau, it takes a local to find the cool stuff: Joe's sister, who lives in Texas, calls him and gives him the phone number of the person he's looking for...HIS DAUGHTER, whom he he has not seen for 20 years! Something about a teenage romance and 2 families that did not like the idea of such a young couple get the picture. So last time Joe saw his daughter in Palau, she was 13 years old...and Joe was 30.

So, Rick buys an airplane ticket, and I have new marching orders: pick up Joe at 9 a.m. at Sacramento Airport, 9 hours from this phone conversation...or 24 hours earlier than his originally scheduled pickup time.

No problem...Semper Gumby!

Same morning, but later, I have Joe and we're headed for Stockton, 1+ hours South of Sacramento...a little longer, with car accidents plugging I-5 with more than a mile of stop-and-look traffic and Joe getting more and more anxious about getting to see his daughter. We arrive where she works and there's hugs and joy and love...

Joe and Jeany

But wait there's more: Jeany and her husband have a 6-year-old son and a 7-month-old daughter....YES, Joe is a Grandfather, twice! Pictures of Grandkids are on Joe's camera and will be downloaded in SanDiego.

I leave Grandpa Joe in Jeany's care.

So the rest of Sunday comes and goes. No Joe.

17 May

Monday comes and goes.

18 May


19 May

Wednesday Joe calls, and says, "Okay, you can come pick me up now." Joe wanted to spend all of his time on this final leg of his USA tour with his daughter and Grandkids!

So, Joe is picked up from the family reunion. I got to briefly meet the son-in-law and 7-month-old Noe.

Next, we headed from Stockton, CA to Marin County and Muir Woods National RedWood Forest, about a 2-hour drive on a good day, but no stopping to download pics. You'll see them after the San Diego download.

In Muir Woods, there are 300-foot- tall trees that are 2,000 years old. Joe was impressed. The Park Ranger giving the 15-minute history lesson was also impressed with Joe's travel story, and with what Joe does with us finding MIAs.

Next, it was off to the Golden Gate Bridge to view San Francisco from my favorite vantage point in the Marin Headlands. The road was closed to the very top of this hill, where the 16-inch naval guns were housed protecting San Francisco Bay 65+ years ago.

Next stop, Major League Baseball and the Oakland A's night game against the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers won 5-1.

The pitcher on the mound is Brandon, the guy who threw a perfect game 10 days ago.
Not so perfect tonight
...but they pulled him prior to all the runs happening on his watch.

A short 1.5-hour ride later we were back home in Woodland safe and sound, and it was time to call and check in with Esther in Palau. It's 11 p.m. here, 3 p.m. tomorrow there. Perfect timing. The boyz, Doyle and Quint, really miss Dad. Thank goodness for Skype phone calls...and on your iPhone, no less!

And then a short nap later, Joe is on the train at 6:50 a.m. at Davis Train depot, headed for San Diego.

Back on schedule, Joe departs Thursday morning for San Diego.
After a train change in Los Angeles, he should arrive in San Diego just after midnight tonight.

So I got to play with Joe for only one day on his adventure, BUT I got to bask in the joy of Joe with his daughter and Grandkids!

Over to you, Derek and Warren in San Diego!

21 May

So Joe arrived here in San Diego bright (well not so bright out) and early (very early) at 12:55 a.m. Mellanie (my girlfriend) and I picked him up and jumped in my car for another 25-30 minute drive back to my place.

Joe arrives in San Diego. No more time on the train. Next it's long plane rides.

Joe was wide awake after getting plenty of sleep on the ride from Davis to San Diego. Once he started talking, I found myself wide awake too. His journey across our country has been amazing. I enjoyed hearing his experience as though I had never stepped foot in my own country. He had several stories from each place he's stopped and visited as well as some from the time between stops. Have we mentioned that Joe is a story teller?

I was really interested in what Joe thought of my own home of Washington state. He had visited one of my favorite places in the world, Mt Rainier. There he had seen and touched snow for the very first time. Well done Rick and family! There were all sorts of tales from the college kids who started to throw a party on the train from Michigan to Memphis to the ranchers who tugged his ear from the middle of Montana to just before Seattle. From family reunions to grading sushi in America. Amazing stuff!

By the time we got back to my place, I was again pooped. I visited a little more with Joe while he caught up on ESPN before I crashed for the night. I had an early rise because I was off to REI to catch their yearly sale. Planning a camping trip of my own to Washington this summer. After the early rise and some big scores at REI, Mellanie and I made it back to my place as Joe was waking up. Joe woke up ready to go. He knocked down a cup of coffee and we were out the door.

Joe from USD overlooking Mission Bay and Ocean Beach.

Our first stop of the day was the University of San Diego. There had been several professors that were interested in meeting Joe, as we zipped in. As we were driving onto campus, we noticed a large amount of Marines and Sailors in the dress uniforms walking around campus. I realized that today was the day that all of the graduating students attached to the NROTC were being commissioned. I joked to Joe that they had heard he was coming and got dressed up for him.

Mellanie and Joe walking through the USD campus.

So we did a quick stop into a couple of offices and there was no one in site. We stopped for a couple of pictures and I decided I could not let Joe leave without a USD shirt so we started off for the bookstore. When we rounded our first corner, I spotted the Dean of the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, Dr Paula Cordeiro. Usually I would do no more than offer my daily salutation, but she had recently read an article about BentProp and had sent me an email complimenting the work. So she had to meet Joe. She was pleased to meet Joe and offer her thanks for the work that he and all the BentProppers have done. Joe met a couple of other friends and got his USD shirt before we found our way off campus.

Joe making friends with Dr Paula Cordeiro.
I just realized if you move the letters of her first name around they spell Palau.

Our next stop was San Diego's version of Bem Ermii, In-N-Out Burger. Joe said that it did remind him of Bem Ermii some. I must admit that as much as I like In-N-Out, I give the nod to Bem Ermii. Of course, I haven't had In-N-Out after a long day in the jungle, so I'm not sure if it is a fair comparison.

Joe enjoying his first In-N-Out Burger and MIlkshake. San Diego's version of Bem Ermii.

We finished off all of our burgers and shakes and jumped in the car again. This time to Mt Soledad. Mt Soledad has the best view in San Diego. You can look up and down the coast, into Mission Bay and Downtown, you can see North Island and Miramar, and there is a beautiful veterans memorial on top. I told Joe that I did the best that I could with the weather, but I couldn't quite get all of the haze burnt off. It was still beautiful. While we were on top Mt Soledad, we made plans to meet Joe's sisters that are in the San Diego area. One would be later on today and the other will be tomorrow.

Joe from Mt. Soledad looking North, with La Jolla and Torrey Pines in the background.

Joe in front of the Mt. Soledad Memorial.

When we finished on top of Mt Soledad, I realized that we still had some extra time before we were going to meet Warren. So we drove down into La Jolla. I stopped down by the beach and told Joe that it was so he could see the Pacific from the other side. Really I was bringing him down to the cove so he could see where hundreds of seals come out to rest on the beach. He was surprised to see them all laying there when we walked up. He was also a little mesmerized by the waves that were crashing against the seawall. While Palau is in the middle of the Pacific, it usually doesn't see large waves. These waves weren't huge but they were beautiful.

Joe and seals. "There are hundreds of them!"

Joe watching the waves.

Next stop MCAS Miramar. We were picking up our tickets for Disneyland on Sunday and meeting Warren. Warren was still stuck with work so we wasted our time at the famous Miramar Officers Club. Not as crazy as years past, but still a nice place to grab a drink and relax. We spotted a picture of an SBD Dauntless on the wall flying over a burning Wake Island.

Joe at the Miramar Officers Club.

After a little time there we drove to Hangar 1. Hangar 1 in the past housed TOPGUN and it was where they filmed some of the movie of the same name. Now it is the home to a squadron that is dear to my heart and flew off of Peleliu in WWII, VMF-121. VMFA(AW)-121 is currently in Japan, but we got a picture of Joe by the sign.

Hangar 1.

Then it was off to the simulator building. Warren had scheduled Joe some time in the F/A-18 sim. Joe took to it rather quickly, perhaps from the excellent coaching he's received from the BentProp aviators. Likely just because he's Joe, though. After tearing up the simulated skies, we went to the flight line to see some real Hornets. Joe walked the flight line and met some other Marine aviators and then it was off to one more stop.

Joe's new ride.

Joe's new ride.

With Derek and Warren.

Our last stop of the day was to meet Joe's sister Laura. She lives here in San Diego, so we went to the local restaurant Seau's and enjoyed dinner. Joe and Laura talked for a couple of hours and enjoyed dinner.

Joe and Laura. Five years since they've seen each other.

After our farewells, we jumped on the freeway back to my place. Once back to my place all quickly found a place to fall asleep and call it a night. Well, except for me. I was going to, but decided to share some more of Joe's adventure.

Tomorrow we are meeting with another of Joe's sisters and Joe will see a casino for the first time.

22 May

Today was a slower day for Joe in San Diego. We slept in for a little bit before starting the day. Shortly after waking up this morning we had another small earthquake. We are still having aftershocks from the Easter Day earthquake. So Joe experienced his first earthquake in California.

After a late breakfast at my place, Warren showed up and we jumped in the car for a ride up to Temecula. We were off to meet up with Joe's sister Sabath, whom he has not seen in 24 years. We were meeting her at a casino, also a first for Joe. Sabath showed up with several of her children and grandchildren. Joe spent a few hours visiting with her and her family before we drove back down to San Diego. Despite our urging Joe didn't gamble. Some of us were sure that he would hit the jackpot of whatever game he chose, but he decided to hold onto his hard earned money.

On the way back to San Diego, we made a stop at the local mall so Joe could buy some pants that he wanted to get and then made our way back to my place. There we relaxed and rested in preparation for a day at Disneyland tomorrow. Time to get some sleep!

Our arrival at the Casino.

Bright lights and the noise of slots.

Long awaited reunion with his sister Sabath.
Sabath saw us first and ran up gave Joe a huge hug before he even knew she was there.

Joe meeting his nieces and nephews

Joe with the slots. Just for show.

23 May

Sunday was an early day. We woke u,p got cleaned up, and jumped in the car to head from San Diego to Anaheim. We linked up in Oceanside, as there were five of us going (Mellanie, Wesley my son, Warren, Joe and me), so Warren and I both drove. Plus the plan was that Joe and I would stay the night in Anaheim and drive from there to LAX in the morning since he had to be there at 6:30 AM on Monday. So we made it to Oceanside in good time and met Warren before heading North to the Happiest Place on Earth.

Before we arrived, there was a lot of discussion about which rides we were going to attempt to ride, and in which order to go on them. Not sure what we ultimately came up with but by the time we got there, got parked, and took the shuttle to the front of the parks, Warren had made the decision that we would first go to the Hollywood Tower of Terror. After taking a few pictures, we arrived at the ride to see no line. Perfect! A few minutes later Joe was "enjoying" his first theme park ride.

After a couple more rides we decided to take a break to eat at the ESPN Zone. Since we had started on the California Adventure side, after lunch we headed back to the actual Disneyland side. Warren ran ahead to get our Fastpass Tickets. For those of you who have avoided going to Disneyland or other theme parks in recent years, they have developed a system that is more than just standing in line. There are people who develop software on how to maximize the number of rides and how many you go on according to the systems in place at theme parks. I haven't developed that much yet, but I think I got the Fastpass system figured out before the day ended. Of course, it will be another 15 years before I go back to Disneyland and by that time there will be something new.

We made it into Disneyland and met up with Mickey and Pluto. Then it was off to Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, and the Indiana Jones ride. Somewhere in the middle, we managed to make time to inhale huge amounts of ice cream and caramel apples.

After a while we were all spent and it appeared that Joe had had his fill of this American experience. After another shuttle and car ride we said our goodbyes to Warren, Mellanie, and Wesley and checked into our rooms. It was perfect timing because the basketball playoff game was starting. So Joe and I got cleaned up and watched the game before calling it a night and heading to bed.

We dropped my car off at the hotel and Joe, Wesley, and I jumped in Warren's for the last mile.

Warren, Joe, Wesley, Mellanie and me in front of California Adventure. Getting ready to start the fun.

Inside the gate this time.

On our way to our first ride.

Joe's first theme park ride.

Inside the Tower of Terror

The picture on the screen when we exited the ride.

ESPN Zone for lunch.

Made it to Disneyland!

Joe meeting Pluto.

Joe meeting Mickey

Snack time.

24 May

After our wakeup calls at 5:00 a.m., Joe and I met in the lobby and took off to LAX. When we arrived there was a huge line at the ticket counter and the security line. The ticket line ran rather quickly and by the time we got through and picked up Joe's boarding passes the security line had disappeared. So after a quick goodbye Joe was on his way to his gate and closing the last chapter of JUST 2010.

Final security check.

Joe's final farewell.


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