The ePilot

Vol. II, No. 22, November 20

Autumn Leaf


Viet Nam War plus 50

Jim Daniels speaks while Ron Mongeau and David Wilson look on

Recently the Port Hueneme Historical Society hosted a commemorative presentation on the 50th anniversary of the Viet Nam War featuring first hand accounts from five men who personally experienced different aspects of that war.

Capt. Bill Hodge was a combat pilot for the Navy.  “Most of us were asked to talk about ourselves,” he began, “I’m going to talk about Walter Sutton Wood…an aviator nonpareil.”

Wood had attended West Point, but loved carrier flying and so entered Navy Flight Training.  He and Hodge were roommates at Pensacola Naval Air Station where Wood finished second in the class.

“In Viet Nam you’d take what you were dealt, and the deal was lousy,” Hodge said.  He went on to describe a fateful bombing mission that had failed to achieve its objective of destroying a bridge. Wood had one more bomb left and decided to make a final pass.  “Pursuing the mission beyond the call of duty — obviously a suicide mission,” as Hodge recalled.

“I haven’t talked about this in thirty years.  I  ordered him not to go back, but he did anyway.” “He went above and beyond. Duty, Honor, Country — he was the personification.”

“God bless you, Walter.”

Capt. Bob Quinn was a SeaBee in charge of facilities in the northern part of the country.  Paying his respects to the aircraft pilots, he declared, “When the bad guys were shooting mortars into your camp it was nice to have some aviators taking care of it.”
When a base near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) suffered an attack that caused the ammunition to blow up “like the 4th of July for four days,”  the decision was made to move to Quang Tri “the farthest the North Vietnamese could shoot.”  Gen. Westmoreland gave the order and stated “I expect to be back in thirty days.”

The Seabees set to work clearing land so fast that the Marines couldn’t keep up with the barbed wire perimeter fencing.  When Gen. Westmoreland returned thirty days later, he was able to land on the new 7000′ runway that the Seabees had carved from the jungle.

Pictures from the Port Hueneme Veterans’ Wall

Master Chief Jim Daniels joined the Seabees in 1942 at the age of 16 because, as he put it, “I was never going into a coal mine.”   He celebrated his 17th birthday at Port Hueneme then shipped out for the Pacific.

His career spanned 26 years and 3 months encompassing WW II, Korea, and Viet Nam.  Both he and his son were deployed in country at the same time.  Daniels left the service because his son was “so torn up, I quit as Senior Chief to take care of him.”  In 2008, however, the Navy granted his promotion to Master Chief.

During his time in service, Daniels was named Chief of Training for five battalions. “I spent more time at Camp Pendleton than some Marines,” he said.

In civilian life, Daniels spent over 17 years with the Hueneme School District and was elected to the Port Hueneme City Council where he served as Mayor pro Tem.

Army Sgt. David Wilson graduated Ventura High School in 1966, and considered enlisting in the Navy.  The recruiter told him, “‘You need to be in LA at five o’clock in the morning.’ ‘How will I get there?’ ‘That’s your problem!'”  The Air Force recruiter told him the same thing.  However, the Army recruiter explained that he could get “an extra $150 for jumping out of airplanes” and besides, “there was a 5PM bus to LA.”  “Customer service got me into the Army,”  Wilson said.

The 101st Airborne was airlifted directly into Viet Nam in time for the Tet Offensive.  Wilson recalled that the SeaBees dug trenches for the Army’s tents.  “That was great until monsoon season,”  he wryly remarked. “I don’t remember even having a tooth brush the whole time I was there.”

Today Wilson is the pastor at Oxnard Bible Church, the President of the Viet Nam Veterans of Ventura County, and does numerous presentations on the war to local schools.

When people ask him what he would have done differently, he replies, “I would have got my lazy butt down to LA at 5 o’clock in the morning!”

Marine Cpl. Ron Mongeau, a machine gunner at Khe Sanh and the Rock Pile, describes himself as a “jungle grunt with the 4th Marines.”

At Khe Sanh he said “We were under fire. I never knew what war was like. As a kid you watch John Wayne movies. It was horrifying.”  Acknowledging the SeaBees, he said, “They kept us going.”

Mongeau recounted  the tactics of the war. A helicopter “would drop us there and tell us to fight our way out.” “I was dropped on a lot of hills,” he said. He described his time in Viet Nam as “One battle after another and a lot of bad memories along the way.”

During one battle he “got hit and woke up on the hospital ship Repose. I couldn’t take the Purple Heart because I needed to get back to my unit.” “The casualty rate was really high….I have fond memories of the guys I was with.”

“In the field I was asked if I wanted to re-up for another year,” Mongeau recounted. “My answer was very clear.”

The troops returning from Viet Nam arrived in a turbulent nation.  “When we got off the plane there were people yelling at us. It was so unfair,” he said with undimmed emotion.  “I’m glad to be an American — even though I was born in Canada!”

A video of the event is available at

David Wilson, Ron Mongeau, and Bob Quinn engage in discussion

Old Times at Point Mugu

History on display at Missile Park, Point Mugu

The Association of Old Crows is an organization of people dedicated to the advancement of electromagnetic warfare (EW) technologies.  The Old Crows were founded in 1964 but  EW operations at Point Mugu go all the way back to the end of WW II.

Gina Nichols, the Defense Initiatives Archivist at the Port Hueneme SeaBee Museum recently gave a presentation to the local chapter of the Old Crows on the history of the Navy at Point Mugu.

Mugu had been the site of a Chumash village, and in the early days of the 20th Century was used as a campsite for local fishermen.  In 1925 a hole was blasted through Mugu Rock opening up a land route south to Malibu.

Gina Nichols addresses the Old Crows

In 1942 the Navy was looking for a deepwater harbor to support the war effort in the Pacific.  According to Ms. Nichols, the locale had “a railroad and a lot of unused land” making it an attractive site for Advanced Base Depot, Port Hueneme. 

By 1943 the Acorn Training Detachment at the Hueneme base was running out of room.  The Point Mugu site was acquired from local landowners with the promise that at the end of the War, the Navy would “give everybody back their land,” Ms. Nichols said.

When the SeaBees were sent out to construct the new facility “it was a marsh” infested with mosquitos. “It was torture to be sent out to Mugu,” Ms. Nichols recounted.

A 2500′ runway was constructed that would be extended to 4500′ by the end of the war.  By 1943 there were 1500 men on base engaged in repairing damaged aircraft that were brought in by ferry.

The Loon on Display

In 1945 a training camp was opened on San Nicolas Island and testing began on the Loon missile which was based on the German V-1.  Twelve German engineers were brought in to work on the program.  The runway was now 5500′ long.

When the Navy looked for a site for its missile test center, Point Mugu ranked #1 out of 20 possible sites.

Things really began to take off during the 1950’s. The Laboratory Evaluation Department supported the nascent space program.  Numerous aircraft systems were operationally tested. Operation Deep Freeze in Antarctica was supported from Point Mugu. In 1958 the Pacific Missile Range was established. By 1960 the runway was extended to 11,000′. 

In 2000 Point Mugu was merged with the SeaBee base at Port Hueneme to form Naval Base Ventura County.  Today NBVC is home to over 80 different commands engaged in a wide range of activities from testing, to development, to operations.  The California Air National Guard occupies a portion of the base, while the US Coast Guard is the newest tenant.

The old fish camp has become one of the most valuable assets in the Navy.

— Ed.
A BAT. One of the items on display at the Missile Museum

History By the Minute

Beverly Merrill Kelley

Let’s face it, we’re all busy people.  We’d love to learn more about our hometown but who has the time?  This column will feature highlights that can be read in a minute or two.  And rest assured, the information comes from the considerable resources of the Port Hueneme Historical Society.  If your interest is piqued to learn more, visit the museum on Market Street or send your questions via email to

A funny thing happened on the way to the Sixth Annual Hueneme Sand Sculpture Contest in 2016.  It just didn’t happen.
In years past, we could count on the temperature remaining a balmy 69 degrees during the third weekend in August.  That’s a big draw with hundreds of cash-spending day-trippers who are sweltering inland.   Who wouldn’t be persuaded to brave the freeway and find their way to Hueneme Beach Park to beat the heat? 
So, in addition to visitors chowing down on roasted corn and funnel cakes at the Beach Fest, planners knew they could count on folks lining the pier to watch as dozens of amateur teams sculpted sandcastles.  In fact, after seeing a demonstration sculpture by Ojai artist Dennis Shives on the first day, several families were able to pluck up the courage to enter the contest on the spur of the moment. 


Brick Wahl

The Electoral College

The electoral college is all about congressional representation. Every state has a base of three–for the two senators and minimum one congressional seat.

By themselves, a small state–there are seven states with one district–have little electoral influence. But as a bloc they have electoral clout.  Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas have 12 electoral votes among them that go GOP almost without fail, as many electoral votes as Washington state yet with less than half the population. But this isn’t as important as it used to be — there are two 3 vote states–Delaware and Vermont–that are solidly Democrat. And when you add up the populations of the GOP’s 4 electoral vote states in the Rockies and Plains, they equal in electoral votes states and population states like Pennsylvania. And a lot of states in the west–Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado–have begun turning regularly blue.

It’s in the bigger states that the Democrats get burned. Were California’s electoral votes allocated on the same population basis as Wyoming’s (plus two for the senators), we would have 202 instead of 55. Texas would have 142. Florida would have 105. New York would have 103. Illinois 68. The problem is that urban and suburban congressional districts tend to be more densely populated than rural districts. The more urban the state, the less the congressional representation.

There are thirteen states with an average district size of over 600K people (California’s is over 700K) and only three of those have been reliably red in presidential elections (though at least two of those states, Texas and Georgia, will be purple battleground states within ten years, and probably blue in twenty). And of the 13 states with average congressional delegation size of less than 400K, eight have been reliably red.

Democrats as a rule have the underrepresented districts, Republicans the overrepresented. To make things worse, the GOP has gerrymandered a lot of Democrats in some states into huge districts, and themselves into many smaller districts. Ohio’s majority Republican congressional delegation in a majority Democratic state is the most flagrant example — and though it has nothing to do with the electoral college, all those Republican congressmen running for office in their tidy white districts is one of the reasons Trump captured the state this year.

This disparity in congressional district population has been the only thing that has kept the GOP in the presidential game at all. Without it the Democrats would have an overwhelming electoral college majority. Even Trump flipping four reliably blue states this goofy year stills leaves him down by well over a million, maybe even two, in the popular vote. Were congressional districts allocated fairly, the Democrats would gain dramatically in the House of Representatives, and in the electoral college, and the GOP would shrink. Shrink a whole lot.

Even so, inevitably, the tide is turning, as rural populations thin out and urban populations expand with kids moving in from the country and immigrants arriving and having 3 to 4 kids instead of the white’s 1 or 2 (or none at all). The white population of conservative suburban districts is aging and dying out  (and will be leaving ghostly tracts of four and five bedroom houses too big for modern families) and is not being replaced by equal numbers of their own–indeed replaced by immigrants (think Orange County).

The GOP has been overwhelmingly a baby boomer party–we have been the most conservative generation, by far, since the 1920’s–but we boomers failed to have enough kids to keep the ratio going. In another decade or so the GOP will cave in and become strictly regional, much as the original conservatives, the Federalists did. They elected the first two presidents but were gone by the 1820’s, swamped by the immigrants they hated.

The GOP too is pretending that only their demographic truly deserve to vote, deserve even to be here. Alas, there are only so many white people born between 1946 and 1964, and the GOP has adamantly refused to expand beyond them. And their kids and grandkids don’t vote like they do at all. The electoral college will turn blue, even if we don’t ever change it.

As for Trump (I’m writing this the Friday after his election, as my fellow liberals still stumble about shocked and weeping, as I would be, if not for all the Prozac), he is the ultimate Baby Boomer candidate, if not a Boomer himself–he’s one of he Silent Generation, believe it or not–and Boomers are at their peak electoral power now.

He may be incoherent half the time, but then wasn’t Bob Dylan? And Trump may come off like a loutish New York version of George Wallace, but then a helluva lot of us voted for George Wallace (a shocking number of the Gene McCarthy voters in 1968 voted for Wallace that November, and voted for Wallace in even bigger numbers in the 1972 primaries, especially in Michigan and Wisconsin.) Trump didn’t win many big states in a big way last Tuesday–Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin combined gave him a razor thin 107,000 vote margin, once all mail in ballots were counted (Hillary stomped all over Trump among those who vote by mail). Still, that was just enough to put all those upper midwest minorities and Gen Xers and Millennials with all their college degrees (far fewer Boomers went to college than they did) in their place. You betcha.

There are still loads of us Boomers alive (I was born right smack in the middle of the boom, 1957), and we are at our peak voting years, our 50’s and 60’s. People vote with astonishing regularity at our age (you value regularity at our age) and this year we just happened to be angry and in the right combination of states to give Donald Trump an electoral vote majority with the worst disparity of popular votes ever.

Hillary had a higher popular vote margin than not only Al Gore, but more than JFK (1960), Nixon (1968) and maybe even Carter (1976.) It’s like if you don’t win the Super Bowl by more than two touchdowns they give the trophy to the losing team. A constitutional shenanigan, really. As Hillary’s numbers are finally officially tallied–which could take weeks in California, where there is a mountain of mail in ballots, millions of them, being counted by hand–the scale of this shenanigan will dawn on everybody, and the notion of Donald Trump having a mandate for revolution will disappear into thin air.

You need to win votes to launch a revolution. FDR did. Reagan did. George W. Bush didn’t. Bush is so now loathed by most Republicans it’s hard to believe he was one of their own, with a GOP approval rate above 90%. There’s not much love in the long run for those who win the electoral college but lose the popular vote–when was the last time you heard nice things about Rutherford B. Hayes or Benjamin Harrison?–and in the 2000 election Bush was down only half a million votes. Trump is down by much more. A popular vote deficit of historic proportions. Huge, even. Big league.

Oh well, all us Boomers will start dying off soon enough–the eldest if us are 70 now, and we used to smoke like chimneys–and Gen Xers and Millennials will finally outvote us in, oh, two election cycles. We’ll still vote plenty, of course, all crotchety and conservative, but we’ll at last be outnumbered by all those rotten kids. And you know how they vote, those rotten kids, overwhelmingly blue, in ratios not seen since FDR’s day. Even as they get grumpy and old themselves they will vote probably twice as Democrat as we do now. Certainly twice as liberal. They are the most liberal bunch since the New Deal.

The Reagan Revolution was made possible because those original New Dealers were dying off (about three or four years earlier than we will, a whole election cycle). But the Reagan Revolution will fade the same way, as we Boomers die off. We are witnessing its final thrashings now. The New Deal lasted for 48 years, 1932-1980. The Reagan Revolution might last 40 years, 1980-2020. Apparently Reaganomics contained faster acting seeds of its own destruction. But I digress.

There are likely to be none of these absurd vote winner losing the presidency travesties once we are gone, taking the GOP with us. Once the whites-only GOP disappears, there will be no need for imbalanced congressional districts. There will be no advantage of farmers having two or three or times as much political pull as city dwellers, or a rancher in Wyoming having 67 times as much electoral vote representation as a writer in Los Angeles. The electoral college will again be reduced to an archaic afterthought, and not a threat to democracy itself.

Or so I hope.


Why Trump Scares Lithuania

Lithuanian President warns against naivete in the face of Russian threat.


The Toxic 100

The top corporate polluters of air and water in the US.


China Struggles to Control It’s History

Xi Jin Ping waging war on “historical nihilism”.


Veterans’ Day Presentation Video Available

Port Hueneme’s celebration of Veterans’ Day is available for viewing thanks to
Dr. Purna Pai and the Port Hueneme Historical Museum. 

Senior Holiday Luncheon Saved by Community Donations

The City Council asked for community support and the community responded with over $8,000 in donations for City staff to host the annual Senior Holiday Luncheon, scheduled for December 16 at the Port Hueneme Community Center.

The Senior Holiday Luncheon has been hosted by the city over 20+ years, offering the senior community an annual holiday where they get to enjoy a nice holiday meal, entertainment, and fun!

Due to the fiscal challenges the City of Port Hueneme is facing, discretionary program
and event funding was reduced or eliminated earlier this year. The Senior Holiday Luncheon was one of those impacted events.

At a recent Council meeting, members of the public spoke in support of the event and requested the City Council reconsider hosting the long standing event.

In response, the City Council asked the community to join in funding efforts. Less than two weeks later, almost twice the amount needed to host the event was and at the meeting of November 7, the City Council agreed to host the luncheon.

Donations were received by the City of Port Hueneme and REACH, a non-profit with the
mission to help raise and distribute funds for the purposes of providing Port Hueneme residents opportunities in: Recreation, Education, Arts, and Culture in Hueneme.

The event will take place December 16, 2016 from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Orvene S. Carpenter Community Center, 550 Park Avenue, Port Hueneme.

Tickets will be sold beginning Monday, November 14th at the Community Center during normal hours until December 7th or the maximum of 150 tickets are sold.

Tickets prices: $5.00.

This event is limited to Seniors 50+.

For more information, please call the City of Port Hueneme’s Recreation and Community
Services Department at (805) 986-6542 between the hours of 12-3pm.

Donations Received by the City of Port Hueneme:

Hueneme Beautiful                                                           $856.00
Port Hueneme Police Officers’ Association                    $500.00
Orvene and Georgia Carpenter                                       $500.00
Oceanview Pavilion                                                           $500.00
Jon Sharkey and Beverly Kelley                                     $500.00
Murray Rosenbluth and Margaretha Van Oostenrijk  $300.00
Mark Petrasso                                                                    $300.00
Sondra Briggs                                                                      $250.00
Deni and J. Scott McIntyre                                               $100.00
Audrey Albert                                                                     $50.00

Donations made to City:                                            $3,856.00

Donations Recieved by REACH

Paul Watson                                                                        $1500.00
Go Fund Me set up by Cathy Reed                                  $1086.00
ILWU                                                                                   $1000.00
Ventura Mazda                                                                   $300.00
Carl and Jacki Cates                                                           $100.00
Steven Gama                                                                      $100.00
Richard and Beverly Rollins                                             $50.00
Sylvia Muñoz-Schnopp                                                     $50.00
Gloria Gama                                                                       $25.00
Anonymous                                                                        $10.00

Donations made to REACH                                      $4221.00

Total Donations Made:                                $8077.00

When is a fundraiser not a fundraiser? 

A fundraiser is not a fundraiser—when charity begins at home.

It all started during the economic downturn in 2008, when frustrated parents told us they could not afford to buy the cherished classics they found under the tree when they were kids.   
That’s when we rolled up our sleeves and got to work.
Our Prueter Library “bookies” (volunteers who sort, clean and price used books) started to set aside a selection of gently-used donations that would provide an affordable alternative (under $1) to cash-strapped parents and grandparents.  
And since it is better to give than to receive, the Port Hueneme Friends of the Library also scoured their jewelry boxes, closets, toy chests, DVD collections and garages in search of nearly-new yet gift-quality treasures that youngsters might buy for less than a quarter or two.  
Those of us staffing the sale tables look forward to assisting the young people who show up with a long list of people to buy for and a fistful of quarters.  We not only assure them that their allowance will cover their purchases but also provide bags so that Mommy and Daddy (who are still busy shopping) will be suitably surprised come December 25.
In addition, the naming of the “white elephant in the room” has become an unexpected tradition as well. Each year we find an item that we, collectively, are quite positive will never find a buyer—at least not somebody in his or her right mind. 
The most memorable, by far, was a toilet plunger decorated in appropriate greenery for St. Patrick’s Day. Sure enough, an adult and her two offspring  snapped it up—allowing that it would be ideal for an unsuspecting Irish relative.
So whether you’re focused on the wearin’ or the savin’ of the green this holiday season, the Port Hueneme Library is the place to be on Saturday December 5 from noon to three.   The event is only open for three short hours so come  early for the best bargains.  And bring a fistful of quarters.

For more information contact Beverly Kelley Phone 805 488-0363


Friends of the Library Website:


Friends of the Library Facebook Page:

Hidden Track: John Cale — “Hallelujah

Copyright 2016 The Hueneme Pilot  All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

516 Island View Circle
Port Hueneme, California 93041

J. Sharkey, Editor and Publisher

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