Creeped Out in the Kitchen

All I did was go into the station’s kitchen for some coffee. What I saw stopped me in my tracks and sent cold, sweaty chills racing through my body.

After backing out of the doorway, I quickly made my way to the other side of the building to find my co-worker, Boogie. I wanted him to see what I’d found and to make sure he wasn’t playing some sort of joke.

He followed me to the kitchen. His reaction was pretty much the same as mine — instant chills and goosebumps.

Boogie then went to find his supervisor, whom I didn’t know was in the building. He had him go look in the kitchen.

“Ah, this is bulls*t,” we heard him exclaim.

Even though he saw it with his own two eyes, he thinks we’re nuts. What he seen was every drawer and cupboard standing wide-open in the kitchen.

So if he didn’t do it, Boogie didn’t do it and I didn’t do it and we didn’t have an earthquake — who did?

Fort Ter-Waw Comes and Goes

Not much is left to be found of the many white establishments built during these times of growth and tumult. In fact any remnants of Fort Ter-Waw washed away with a minor flood that ravaged the banks of the Klamath River in 1969.

I have often wished I could have seen what was left of the old fort before it disappeared.

By 1855, relations between settlers and the Tolowa had deteriorated, and there was a second battle at the village of Yontucket. The village of Howonquet was also sacked and burned, and 70 Tolowa were killed.

Later the same year, white miners and settlers in the Weitchpec area demanded the Indians hand over their firearms. This instigated the Red Cap Indian War.

Its believed the Red Caps were a mixed-group of Native American “vigilantes,” who went to war against settlers and miners. The war nearly brought on the collapse of the Indian settlement plan designed by the government.

The whites made the first move by burning Indian villages and raping the women. When the Indians fought back, military assistance was requested from Fort Humboldt.

This led to the establishment of the Klamath River Indian Reservation November 16, 1855. The Wau-Kell Agency Post was established to oversee the reservation.

Soon after the Army outpost of Fort Ter-Waw was established at what is now the Klamath Glen. It was located six miles from the mouth of the Klamath River.

Over the next two years, more than 600 Indians from the Southern Oregon coast and the Smith River area were rounded up and moved to the reservations.  However, many escaped and returned to their homeland.

Between 200 and 500 Tolowa were sent to the Klamath River Indian Reservation in August 1857. In 1860 following the Chetco-Rogue River Indian War, more Tolowa were sent to other reservations outside the area.

Then in the winter of 1861-62 heavy rains flooded the Klamath River and washed away the Wau-Kell Agency and most of the buildings at Fort Ter-Waw. Both the agency and the fort were abandoned soon afterwards

During May of 1862, the Smith River Reservation was created by presidential executive order and between 400 and 500 Tolowa were returned to the reservation.  Yuroks, Matolles and Wylackies were also relocated to the Smith River Reservation.

Camp Lincoln was established in September of the same year to oversee the reservation operations. Less than six years later it was closed and the Indians were removed to the Hoopa Valley and Round Valley reservations.

Meanwhile the Klamath River Indian Reservation was still in operation and the Yuroks were allowed to return to their old homes. Here they found for the time being peace and security — at least for a little while.

Jumping Backwards

One of my favorite places to visit anytime we went on a track-meet in the Bay area was “Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum,” on Fisherman’s Wharf. When I first picked this up after having filed in a scrap-book for so many years — I wondered why in the world I kept it.

After looking at it a little closer — nearly needing a magnifying glass these days — I discovered the silly little mention of  “J.Darby of England — Jumped backwards 12 ft. 11 in. (with weights.) ”  Obviously because the guys name was Darby, I felt it necessary to hold onto the paper.


Trouble Comes in Threes

It seems northern Nevada cannot catch an even break this month. First a shooting in Carson City that left five dead and seven injured, followed by a plane crash at the Reno Air Race, which killed eleven and injured 69 people and now another shooting.

Authorities are investigating after a shooting inside a Sparks casino led to an evacuation and lockdown early Saturday.  Sparks Police say a group of members from the Hell’s Angels and Vagos motorcycle clubs got into a fight inside near the Trader Dick’s bar where several shots were fired.

When officers arrived, they found three people with gunshot wounds who were transported to the hospital. One person died while the other two are being treated for their non-life threatening injuries.  

Detectives say the man killed in the gun battle was the president of the San Jose chapter of the Hells Angels Jeffrey Pettigrew. The two who were wounded are Vagos members Leonard Ramirez and Diego Garcia and are in stable condition.

But it was another shooting in the city Saturday morning that was the final straw. Authorities say in the second attack, a drive-by shooting by a pair of men in a black SUV on a lone biker, may or may not be connected to the casino gunfight.

The lone biker is listed in stable condition, while the pair made good their escape.

And true to his nature, Mayor Geno Martini decided to cancel Sparks’ share of a big biker festival the rest of the weekend.  He also declared a formal state of emergency in the city saying will help speed state assistance if there’s any more trouble.

Once again the many have to pay for the wrongs committed by the few.

And while vendors close-up their booths and put away their tents and goods in Sparks, Street Vibrations continues to rumble on through Reno. Authorities in the Biggest Little City have added extra patrols to the festivities in order to maintain public safety.

They say trouble come’s in threes. I hope whoever “they” is — they’re correct.

Reno Soldier Killed by IED

The Pentagon is confirming the death of a Reno soldier, killed in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. U.S. Army Sgt. Timothy Sayne died September 18,2011 from injuries suffered after insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

He was assigned to the 5th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Wainwright, Alaska. Sayne, age 31, joined the Army in February 2008, and had one previous combat tour of duty in Iraq.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers — memorials be made to Sayne’s son and expected child. Records show he was married in Reno in November 2009.

Air Race Finality but No Closure

The city of Reno has released a new list of eleven people confirmed dead in last week’s air race crash at the Reno-Stead Airport. The Washoe County Medical Examiner’s Office has completed identification and notification to the following family members.

• Sharon Stewart – 47-year-old female – Reno, Nevada.
• John Craik – 45-year-old male – Gardnerville, Nevada.
• Cheryl Elvin – 71-year-old female – Lenexa, Kansas.
• Wendy Hewitt – 56-year-old female – Mohave, Arizona.
• George Hewitt – 60-year-old male – Mohave, Arizona.
• Craig Salerno – 50-year-old male – Friendswood, Texas.
• Michael Wogan – 22-year-old male – Scottsdale, Arizona.
• Regina Bynum – 53-year-old female – San Angelo, Texas.
• Gregory Morcom – 47-year-old male – Stanwood, Washington.
• James McMichael – 47-year-old male – Graham, Washington.
• James Leeward – 74-year-old male – Ocala, Florida.

The NTSB confirms 7 were killed on the tarmac with 2 dying later from their injuries, then an additional victim died this past weekend and with Tuesday’s announcement, the death toll is 11. As of Tuesday, five victims with injuries are still being treated at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, Renown still has nine patients, and  no patients remain at Northern Nevada Medical Center.

Lastly, Walton’s Funeral and Cremations in Reno is providing funeral services, including consultation, preparation of all authorizations and permits, submitting obituaries, and coordination with those providing other portions of the funeral, such as cemetery, crematory and clergy. Walton’s says it will also cover the necessary services to ship the remains of the out-of-town victims.

“This tragedy has touched us all,” says Tammy Dermody, owner of Walton’s, “All of us at Walton’s feel it is absolutely imperative to give back to the community we love so much.”

Eleventh Air Race Death Confirmed

Authorities say an eleventh person has died from injuries received in Friday’s plane crash at the Reno Air Races. City spokesperson Michelle Anderson confirms James McMichael of Graham, Washington was killed at the scene.

Officials have been testing body parts found in the gruesome crash aftermath since Friday.  They have also identified Wendy Hewitt of Fort Mohave, Arizona and  Craig Salerno of Friendswood, Texas, as those among the dead.

Meanwhile, authorities say a Kansas woman whose husband, two sons and daughter-in-law were badly injured in the plane crash has been confirmed as dead.  Officials with the Washoe County Medical Examiner’s office say scientific identification proved Cheryl Elvin was among the fatalities.

Also a Sacramento City College aeronautics professor is offering insight into what may have caused the deadly plane crash at the Reno Air Races.  Kit Sodergren says the World War Two-era plane may have lost a trim tab that would have caused the pilot to lose control. 

He believes pilot Jimmy Leeward was knocked unconscious when the plane suddenly pitched straight up in the air because the force could have been as high as 10 Gs.  National Transportation Safety Board investigators are looking at the tail section of the plane.

Add to this, a newly released photograph suggesting Leeward may have become dislodged in the cockpit as a result of a broken seat.  NTSB officials are examining photos taken before and after the incident, including a picture in which the pilot isn’t visible from inside the cockpit.

Finally, the Salinas air show will go on as planned this weekend following the tragedy of the Reno air races. Executive Director of the California International Air Show at Salinas Harry Wardwell says air shows and air races are very different, adding pilots are required to undergo yearly competency tests, the planes are inspected before each show and they fly parallel to the crowd.

Air Race Memorial Set as Tenth Person Dies

Reno 2011 — The city of Reno plans to hold a public memorial service for all victims, their families and others affected by the fatal plane crash at the National Championship Air Races. The memorial will be held at 6 p.m. Sunday at Idlewild Park along with a tree planting in park’s arboretum dedicated to all the victims.

Meanwhile, the death toll is up to ten.  The latest death happened Monday morning at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center. Over 70 people were injured in the accident and several others remain in serious condition.

These are the known victims of the crash at the National Championship Air Races that have been confirmed dead by either family members or the Washoe County  Medical Examiner’s Office:

Jimmy Leeward, 74, pilot, Ocala, Florida.; Greg Morcum, 47, Marysville, Washington; Michael Wogan, 22, Phoenix; George Hewitt, 60, Fort Mohave, Arizona; John Craik, 47, Gardnerville; Regina Bynum, 53, San Angelo, Texas; and Sharon Stewart, 47, Reno.

There are also two person’s unaccounted for after Friday’s crash. They include Wendy Hewitt, Fort Mohave, Arizona.; and Cherie Elvin, Lenexa, Kansas.

Finally, the National Transportation Safety Board has recovered an onboard data box and camera equipment believed to be from Leeward’s P-51, “The Galloping Ghost.” Authorities are calling the air race accident the worst in the nation’s history.

Looking to the Skies

It has been a tough 11 days in the northern Nevada area.  A shooting at a Carson City IHOP that left five dead and left another 11 wounded — then Friday a fatal crash involving spectators at the Reno National Championship Air Races.

Investigators are now saying at least nine people are dead in Friday’s accident at the Reno Air Races. The National Transportation Safety Board is beginning its investigation into what caused a vintage airplane to plunge out of control, killing the 74-year-old pilot as well as spectators and injuring nearly 70 others.

Mark Rosekind of the NTSB says the agency is focusing on securing the accident site.  Rosekind also says it is unlikely there was any kind of recording device on the World War Two-era plane that would help investigators determine what caused the plane to crash.  He said it could take as long as nine months to complete their investigation.

Reno hospitals say they were prepared for twice as many casualties as they handed in Friday’s deadly air race crash. Renown Regional Medical Center spokeswoman Kathy Carter says they had up to 198 beds available for incoming patients.

Regional Emergency Medical Service Authority director Ken Romero says his organization had a medical clinic on site as well as four ambulances, two of which were crash units. One of the crash units was in the pit area, 200 yards away from the impact zone.

He said they were able to start triage and treatment, “within seconds.”  About 20 EMS ambulances were on duty, but another 20 arrived within 15 minutes of the crash.

The pilot, Jimmy Leeward, of Ocala, Fla., was a veteran airman and movie stunt pilot who named his P-51 Mustang fighter plane “The Galloping Ghost.”    Investigators say they are examining the site, gathering information and are encouraged by the large number of photos and videos available to them.

They have not speculated on a cause but organizers point to a possible mechanical failure. Pictures and video appear to show a piece of the plane coming off before it crashed.

As of Saturday, 40 of the 69 people injured enough to be treated at hospitals had been discharged. The conditions of those still held: eight are critical; nine, serious; 10 fair; two good.

At least two of the injured are children.

So far 47-year-old Greg Morcom of Washington state and 22-year-old Michael Wogan of Phoenix, Arizona have been identified as one of the eight spectators killed in the crash. Meanwhile, Wogan’s father, Bill, lost his  right eye, some fingers on his right hand, suffered over 100 fractures to his face and remains in critical condition.

Twenty-two people have now been killed in crashes since Reno’s National Championship Air Races started in 1964. Nineteen pilots died in accidents before Friday’s crash that killed the pilot of a P-51 Mustang and two spectators — the first time onlookers were killed or seriously injured.

At least two previous accidents involved P-51s. In 1999, a Mustang disintegrated during a race, scattering debris and damaging a house. In 1994, one of the planes crashed next to a runway after engine failure sprayed the windshield with oil.

Organizers softened two of the curves pilots negotiate after crashes into nearby neighborhoods in 1998 and the one in 1999. In 2007 and 2008, four pilots were killed at the races, prompting local school officials to consider barring student field trips to the event.

Last month, a pilot was killed at a weekend air show in Kansas City, Missouri and a wing-walker plunged about 200 feet to his death at a show near Detroit.  Hours after the Reno accident, another World War Two-era plane crashed at an air show in Martinsburg, West Virginia killing the pilot.

Sadness hangs heavy in the heart and in the sky.

Anxiety and Hats

Having a number of dogs in the home is an ongoing adventure in my life. They are always happy to see me come home and are a well-behaved lot in general.

However, once in a while something goes wrong and one of them gets it in their head to have at some object that belongs to its humans. Sometimes it’s a sock or a shoe other times its something a little more significant.

For instance — another of my cowboy hats became fodder for the dogs. I still don’t know it came off the hat-rack, but what I do know is it ended up in the back yard — ripped to shreds.

I also lost a Marine Corps cover I had managed to hold on to since before leaving the service.

Often when something like this happens, people will say, “Well, one of them must be mad at you.” But I don’t think this is the case.

It’s more like an anxiety attack on the part of the animals if they are left alone too long. A good example of this is Roxy, our pit-bull, who was locked in an apartment bedroom for hours on end as a puppy.

When I leave the house, I believe she recalls this situation and responds by stealing something and using it to relieve her sense of frustration. And that’s how my hat ended up in the back yard.

In the end I forgave her for chewing up yet a third hat. It was either that or turn her into a floor mat for my pick-up truck.

Jus’ kidding — this time.

Gator Baiter

Where Debbie Clayton’s father got the alligator, I don’t recall. What I do remember is the white Styrofoam ice chest that was carried into the room and place on a chair at the front of the class.

Whether Mrs. Damm said, “Don’t touch,” or if I ignored her – I don’t know. But my curiosity was such that I jus’ couldn’t help myself.

Maybe because the gator was only a foot-long – or perhaps it’s hiss wasn’t a deterrent enough, I reached right in the chest and touched the little reptile on the nose.

That was all it took! In an instant it had collapsed its toothy jaws around my right pointer finger and moved into what I would later learn was a “death roll,” designed to kill its prey. I felt a wave of searing pain wash over and through me.

I didn’t scream though as I was more afraid of Mrs. Damm than the gator.

After flopping about the chest for what felt an eternity, the beast let go of my finger. It was ripped up and bleeding badly.

Mrs. Damm grabbed my arm and raised it over my head. I actually thought I was about to get another paddling in front of the class at this moment.

However, she had mercy on me and rushed me to the sink to rinse the bite in cold water and wrap it as tightly as possible in a bunch of paper towels. Then she sent me to the office, where Mrs. Eunice Zwierlein had to tend to my wound.

Within in minutes she had called Mom, who called someone else to come get me and take me up to the base infirmary. There, the medic-on-duty bandaged me up and gave me a tetanus shot for good measure then sent me home.

So yeah, I can say I was bit — or even stretch the truth a bit and claim I was attacked — by an alligator. But either way the finger nail on my right pointer finger has never grown the same since.

Crossing the Border and Our Fingers

As I worked the newsroom throughout the evening, there was one story glaringly absent from the national broadcast. In fact, I only saw it posted three or four times on the wire service.

On Wednesday, either part of a roof or large scaffolding – maybe both – collapsed at one of the most volatile border crossings between the Mexico and the U.S. Yet it was treated as a non-news story.

The cause of the structural failure is under investigation.

At least 11 people were injured, one seriously, as a 50- by 50-foot section of wooden platform collapsed onto northbound traffic entering the U.S through a construction zone at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department says debris, including support beams and pieces of concrete, fell onto 15 vehicles.

Eight of the victims were able to free themselves from their autos and the structural wreckage, but emergency crews had to extricate the remainder. Paramedics took the patients to four hospitals in San Diego and the South Bay, including a pregnant woman and four construction workers.

Two dozen other motorists and renovation workers were evaluated for possible minor injuries, including respiratory irritation from breathing in dust kicked up by the collapse. Federal engineers were called in to assess remaining hazards at the site and develop a cleanup plan.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials say the border-crossing facility was closed to northbound travelers after the scaffolding gave way just north of the primary inspection. Near 13 hours later agents began allowing vehicular traffic to cross into the states.

Meanwhile, jus’ across the border from Laredo, Texas, Mexican gangs hung another two bodies from an overpass in Nuevo Laredo as a threat to those using the Internet to report on the drug war. Messages found near the bodies were specifically directed at two websites: Blog del Narco, which publishes gruesome accounts and video of drug war casualties and Al Rojo Vivo, a forum set up by the Monterrey newspaper El Norte, Mexico.

In late July, Mexican federal police arrested Jose Antonio “El Diego” Acosta Hernandez, leader of the Juarez cartel enforcement group, “La Linea.” Officals sat the recent void appears to have allowed the drug organization Los Zetas to step up its fight for control of the drug trafficking across most southern border points.

Then Tuesday, Border Patrol agents found a rocket launcher, assault rifles and explosives in a bag near the Rio Grande River in Texas. Inside that bag were six assault rifles, a grenade launcher, a rocket launcher, 20 ammunition magazines for various-sized weapons and three packages of what appeared to be C-4 plastic explosives.

Is there something we’re not supposed to know about or that were not supposed to be paying attention too, here?

I think it’s a question worth asking.

His Marbles

Kyle, my 19-year-old son, was sitting on the edge of his bed when he announced, “Ah-ha! I found my marbles.”

Unable to resist, I turned and looked, “I didn’t know you had lost your marbles.”

Without missing a beat he held up his hand, displaying the little glass globes and responded, “Ha-ha – I meant these marbles, smart ass!”

Kyle knows me too well.

A Part of History

It was a history making day for me – and anyone else who vote in Nevada’s Congressional District 2’s special election. History making because Nevada had never held a special election for a congressional seat since it was accepted into the Union, until now.

I waited to vote on election day, instead of voting early as many did, at my local precinct — Shaw Middle School on Eagle Canyon.

The seat opened up after Dean Heller was appointed to the U.S. Senate to fill-out the term of John Ensign who resigned amid a series of scandals.  Heller had been the CD-2 House Representative since first being elected in 2006.

There were jus’ four candidates in this election: Kate Marshall, Democrat and the current state treasurer; Mark Amodei, Republican; Timothy Fasano, Independent American Party; and Helmuth Lehmann, Moderate Independent.

Regardless of the winner, I’m using the event to point out – we all participate in history. We should record these things for our families and the future.

I also take voting seriously and I hope you do too.

Four Days in September

Happily, the four hardest days of September for me have come and passed. But they’ll return next year.

At one point, September 8th was a fun date. It was the day my step-dad, Del Middleton, was born in 1938. However he passed away September 9th, 1997.

To make things harder is the fact that Mom was born in 1940 on September 10th. It became hard to celebrate her birth after Del’s death and I hate to even think of it now that she’s been gone since 2002.

Then of course there’s September 11th — the anniversary date of the worst terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. It’s still hard to mourn the day without holding one’s breath waiting for another attack.

But then again — it could be worse — I have a friend and co-worker whose birthday is September 11. Talk about a real party-pooper.

Honoring a Good Friend

As the nation mourns the loss that occurred a decade ago this date — I’ll head home from my post at the radio station and mourn my own personal loss. You see, today a friend is to be buried in services to be held in private.

I wasn’t invited — but that’s okay.

Instead I’ll go out into my backyard, pull up a chair and drink an ice-tea (or maybe something stronger) to my friend. I’ll say a small prayer for her soul, thanking God for letting me know her friendship and I’ll shed a few tears along the way.

In my head I keep saying, “Your smile, your silly grin, your laughter and your friendship will be sorely missed. And I’ll never look at another cupcake in the same way.”

I’ll see you on the other side of the hill,  Miranda.

By Degrees

The world grew smaller some how as I slept the day away, resting for my overnight shift at the radio station. I didn’t find this out until I got up to get ready for work.

My bride told me she received a telephone call from her sister, Sarah, who lives in Ramona, California. The two ended up talking about the shootings that happened in Carson City at the local IHOP.

That’s when Sarah informed my bride that she knows the brother-in-law of Florrie Donovan-Gunderson. Her next-door neighbor is the brother of Wally Gunderson, Florrie’s husband, who was also shot in the attack.

I understand from various media reports, Wally is continuing to recover.

Evidently Sarah spent part of her day with her neighbor, Randy, as people dropped by his home to offer their condolences. Sarah and her husband have known Randy for over six years.

I couldn’t make this stuff up — even if I tried!

Meanwhile,  the Nevada Army Guard has announced Major Heath Kelly, who was gunned down while eating breakfast, has been elevated to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  On the day of the shooting, another soldier shot and killed, Sgt 1st Class Christian Riege was promoted to Master Sergeant.

Father of Four and Soldier Killed in IHOP Shooting

Spanish Springs 2011 — Since returning from Afghanistan in April 2010, Christian Riege had settled into his full-time position with the Joint Forces Unit of the Nevada Army National Guard in Carson City. The Nebraska native was one of four people killed when a gunman opened fire at a IHOP in the same city.

After a deployment to Fort Irwin, California in 2004, Christian, 38, thought about voluntarily deploying to Iraq. But at the last-minute decided his four children needed him more at home.

He had already spent 19 years in the military, including two years with the Navy. While Christian was described by friends and fellow Guard members as quiet, he also had a big smile and someone, who while training for combat, could do 2,000 push ups in one day.

Christian was promoted to master sergeant effective September 6, the day the shooting occurred. His body has been flown back to Nebraska at the family’s request.

A note attached to a stuffed bear was left for Christian from his fiancée at a memorial in the parking lot where the unprovoked attack took place reads: “I’m grateful everyday that you are the one who has the key to my heart.”

A Precious Moment?

Got up early yesterday morning so I could take some pictures of the 30th Annual Great Reno Balloon Races. I have often wished there was a way the races could be held later in the day — I’m so not the early morning guy I used to be.

Afterwards, I had an eye-appointment. After more than three-years between visits, I paid over $120 to learn what I already knew — I need new glasses.

Fortunately I went and played photographer before the exam, since  Doctor Tom dilated my eyes. I couldn’t see much of anything once I got outside the building  and into the sunshine.

My friend Kay, told me my pupils were so “blown” I could have been a model for a Precious Moments figurine. But instead of applying for the modeling gig — I went to bed in order to get enough sleep for my midnight shift at the radio station.

IHOP Shooting Takes Life of Commander, Family Man

Spanish Springs 2011 — Major Heath Kelly, 35, survived the battlegrounds of Iraq – but was one of four killed in the Carson City IHOP by a man on rampage who then took his own life in the parking lot. The highly decorated Nevada Army Guard soldier was married and had two young children.

Between 2004 and 2005, he was in Iraq on active duty with the U.S. Army. While there he served as a border enforcement officer, battalion fire support officer and a 1st Cavalry Division lieutenant.

He then joined the Nevada Guard, becoming Commander of the Joint Force Headquarters in Carson City in August 2010. Heath earned numerous decorations including the Global War on Terrorism Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Kuwait Defense Service Medal and Iraq Campaign medal.

The Louisiana native leaves behind his wife, Tracie, four-year-old daughter Cassidy and a nine week old son, Triston.  Heath’s family said those who want to honor him can help by supporting the troops through the non-profit, “Soldiers’ Angels.”

Heath’s grandmother Janet Scaruffi adds, “For this kind of pain — there’s no medicine.”

Nevada Soldier Remembered as Wonderful Person

Eleven people were shot during the rampage at a Carson City IHOP when a gunman sprayed bullets around the parking lot and at neighboring businesses. Five people were killed in the attack including U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Miranda McElhiney, 31.

She and fellow Nevada Army Guardsmen were taking part in an off-site meeting, having breakfast when the killer walked to the back of the restaurant and started targeting the soldiers. Miranda initially survived the assault.

She was airlifted to Renown Medical Center in Reno, where she later died of her wounds.  On Facebook, Nevada Office of Inspector General investigator Paul Hinen wrote that a first responder shared with him what happened while he attended to Miranda following the shooting.

“When they went to load her onto Care Flight, in the midst of the chaos, she looked at the trooper and gave him a thumbs up!” Hinen wrote, “That was just Miranda’s character; ever reassuring and calming to others in her final hours.”

Her death has had a rippling effect throughout the Nevada National guard community, including those no longer serving. Washoe County School District trustee Scott Kelley tells KOLO-TV he first met Miranda when he was assigned to the Stead Armory.

“Miranda was a wonderful person,” Kelley says, “She shouldn’t be remembered as one of the victims in this tragedy — she should be remembered for all the wonderful things she did in this life.”

She was a student at Columbia Southern University, an online university based in Alabama, seeking a master’s degree in organizational leadership. Miranda held several positions while serving the last 13 years in the National Guard including medical, dental and human resources.

Kelley adds, “She’ll be missed.”

Civilian Killed in IHOP Attack

Spanish Springs 2011 – As the community of Carson City attempts to come to grips with the multiple shooting deaths at a local IHOP, authorities are still searching for a motive in the homicide case.  So far investigators have had little luck in learning why the gunman open fired on the group of Nevada Army Guard as they ate breakfast.

What is even less clear to police is the shooting death of 67-year-old Florence Donovan Gunderson. Her husband, Wally Gunderson, a retired Marine, who recently underwent back surgery, was also shot in the attack and is expected to survive.

The Associated Press reports Florence, who went by the name Florrie, was active in the Republican Party and prior to retiring she worked in the credit department of Harrah’s Lake Tahoe casino for 10 years. She also liked to cook, bake and knit.

Wally was a security guard at the casino until 1998. He has multiple sclerosis, uses a wheelchair and service-dog and depended on Florrie to get around.

It’s believed the couple was at the IHOP to have breakfast before Wally’s dentist appointment in Carson. So far there has been no word on funeral arrangements.

Westboro Confirms Nevada National Guard Protest

The group that celebrates the death of American soldiers is confirming they are heading to Carson City to picket during the funerals of soldiers slain during the mass shooting at an IHOP

“Yes, we are planning on being at the National Guard memorial and the funeral home in Carson City,” says Fred Phelps Jr., son of Westboro Baptist Church leader Fred Phelps, Sr., “This is a high-profile, classic example of what’s going on in this country. God is punishing this nation.”

Phelps adds the group plans to send six members to Carson City this weekend to protest during the memorial for both Major Heath Kelly and Sgt. 1st Class Miranda McElhiney, killed earlier in the week. Westboro has held protests in Reno before, in both 2008 and 2009.

Meanwhile, local and state law enforcement met in preparation of a possible protest. Authorities say the primary concern during any kind of protest, is the safety of the protester and their freedom of speech.

According to the Patriot Guard Northern Nevada Captain Dave Kealey, the wife of Major Kelly and the mother of Sgt. !st Class Miranda McElhiney Army National Guard has requested their presence for both escort duty and flag formation. There will also be a police escort accompanying the procession.

Lone Gunman Attacks, Kills Nevada Guardmen

Authorities say the man who opened fire on Nevada Army Guard members at a Carson City restaurant had two guns in addition to the AK-47 he used in the rampage, but he left them in his vehicle. The shooting at the IHOP left five people dead and seven wounded.

The gunman, Eduardo Sencion of Carson City, also shot himself in the head and died at Renown in Reno. Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong says Sencion was born in Mexico and was in the U.S. under a valid U.S. passport.

Furlong also says after the gunman exited the IHOP, he got into a vehicle and drove around in circles, shooting at nearby businesses.  The vehicle, investigators say, is registered to one of Sencion’s brothers.

Sencion is also listed as the registered agent for Mi Pueblo Markets with Gilberto Sencion Gonzalez and Israel Sencion Gonzalez as managing partners. The business has locations in both South Lake Tahoe and Stead.

Initially, Gilberto denied being related to Eduardo, but later admitted to being his brother and having knowledge of the shootings.

“I feel very sorry about what happened,” he told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “I feel very sorry about those people. I’m trying to find out what happened.”

He also said he expected more calls from the press.

“You are going to make a lot of money from this,” he said to reporters, adding, “Pay me a lot of money and I’ll talk to you.”

Meanwhile the motive in the shooting spree remains unclear, but other family members say Sencion had mental issues. Police say Sencion had never been in the military and had no known affiliation with anyone at the restaurant.

Over 300 employees and uniformed military occupy the 80,000-square-foot National Guard complex known as Joint Force HQ. The $8.5 million complex, dedicated to the late state Senator Lawrence Jacobsen of Minden, opened in 2002 at Fairview and South Edmonds drives, about two miles from the IHOP restaurant on South Carson Street.

The state Capitol and Supreme Court buildings were locked down for about 40 minutes, and extra security measures were put in place at state and military buildings in northern Nevada, but the shooting appeared to be an isolated incident. Security measures at area base’s including the Nevada Guard Headquarters in Carson City, NAS Fallon, Stead Training Center and Hawthorne Army Depot were also raised

Governor Brian Sandoval returned to Carson City, having cancelled an appearance in Henderson and was briefed by the Carson City Sheriff’s Department, the Department of Public Safety, his Homeland Security ad visor and the National Guard on the shootings. At the briefing, he was joined by Carson City Mayor Bob Crowell.

Two Nevada Army Guard members remain in serious to critical condition after being shot while having breakfast at IHOP in Carson City.  Authorities say one of the guard members was wounded in the arm so severely doctors thought he was going to lose the limb, however they managed to save it.  The second guardsmen was shot in the foot.

Finally, a candlelight vigil was held for the victims of the shooting.  Hundreds of people gathered around the Fallen Soldiers Memorial in the Capital building complex to honor the four Nevada Army Guardsmen and the civilian gundown as they ate breakfast at the restaurant.  Seven others were injured in the attack.

This is the largest one day loss of Nevada guardsmen since September 2005 when a Chinook helicopter stationed in Stead was shot down killing five guardsmen during combat operations in Afghanistan. So far none of the victims names have been officially released pending notification of next of kin and flags have been ordered to fly at half-staff.

Battle at Wau-Kell Reservation

Managing the histories between Native peoples and the settlers is much like walking a tight rope in a gale-force wind. I want to avoid the politics, the right and wrong of the incident and get down to telling the story of what happened.

During  the years, 1851 and 1852, the California Legislature authorized payment of $1.1 million for the “suppression of Indian hostilities.” This revenue came from the gold fields — the high financiers and not the struggling miner.

But this was not enough. In 1853; the Yreka Herald called on the government to provide assistance to “enable the citizens of the north to carry on a war of extermination until the last redskin of these tribes has been killed. Extermination is no longer a question of time – the time has arrived, the work has commenced and let the first man who that (sic) treaty or peace be regarded as a traitor.”

The State Legislature would appropriate money for this activity through 1857, which is about the time when the financing from the gold fields dried up due to a lack of new strikes and claims. So towns started offering bounty hunters cash for every head or scalp obtained — man, woman, or child.

These laws would lead to the deaths of several Tolowa from the Smith River area. However, it’s generally understood that the Tolowa had administered the first blow, which was repulsed by the Army’s superior firepower.

During autumn 1857, troops under the command of Lt. George Crook killed 10 Tolowa and captured more than two dozen others when the Indians refused to stay on a reservation far from their Smith River home. Afterword the lieutenant ordered all Tolowa to return to the reservation.

Indian Agent and U.S. Army Major H. P. Heintzelman agreed with Crook that pursuit of the Indians was necessary. With Tolowa and Chetco Indians in the mountains, and reports the two might fight together against the settlers, Heintzelman wanted them brought to the Wau-Kell Reservation, four and a quarter miles inland along the banks of the Klamath River. 

But Superintendent Thomas J. Henley concluded that the lack of food and dissatisfaction with housing at Wau-Kell had sparked the fight. Furthermore he blamed Heintzelman for the discord claiming he had put the “service before the needs” of the Indians.

In reality though the trouble was being caused by a number of whites living within the Native community who were not only spreading rumors but planning  to murder both Heintzelman and Crook.  As for the Indians they were being told these same white , called “squawmen,” they would continue to be harassed by the Yurok.

Relaying the information about a planned assassination to department headquarters, Henley warned if the Tolowa were allowed to remain on the Smith, these “squawmen,” would cause a war. He also warned that the Tolowa had not laid in a winter’s supply of food, and would either end up stealing or starving.

Higher federal authorities disagreed with Henley and the Tolowa  were allowed to return to Smith River. In the meantime, Crook turned his attention to building a new Army outpost further down river at a places called Ter-Waw Flats.

Target Verses Symbol

I wrote this article a few days after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami killed over 23,000 people. Much of it still holds true for the way I feel about the non-profit group and how it operated on a national level shortly after the 9/11 terror attacks.

It is impossible to purchase a simple piece of chicken wire to patch a hole in a fence anymore! I had to buy 25 feet of the stuff to cover a two foot gap in our fence.

I could not believe it.

A two foot piece of chicken wire should have been fifty-cents. However, my main complaint is that even this hardware store was busy trying to hit me up to donate money to the National American Red Cross for Tsunami Relief.

Give it a rest! I am still smarting from how the National American Red Cross handled the monies for the 9/11 attacks.

At that time I was involved heavily with the Red Cross in Reno. And I helped raise money for disaster relief for victims of the 9/11 terror attacks and to help support local operations and people heading there as volunteers.

But what happened next left me ashamed. It also put me on the defensive with a lot of people including my former program director at a radio station I was working for at the time.

The National American Red Cross stepped in and absorbed all of the ready cash on hand from all of the local chapters from across the nation. For our little old chapter, that meant near bankruptcy.

My former program director went into orbit when he found all of our local charity work we had been doing was suddenly and without good cause sucked up by the folks at National. I still remember him yelling at me as if I had something to do with it.

I think he said a word or two about stealing and theft.

Honestly, I want to puke every time I see a Disaster Relief canister or request form put out by the National American Red Cross. I cannot forgive them and how they treated this volunteer.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel bad for the people who survived that tidal wave, but I won’t toss a penny to the Red Cross to help them. I’ll find some other place to put my donation.

In my mind there’s very little difference between a target and a symbol.

Inspired Writing: Will James

As a pre-teen, obsessed with writing and journaling, I was always searching for a new way to say things. I wanted to express myself as profoundly as possible – and I thought I had a lot to say.

When I wasn’t writing or causing mischief, I was reading. If fact, one entire summer I was grounded to my bedroom, except for meals and to do chores, so I spent most of my time reading the Encyclopedia Americana, Dad had purchased while stationed at Mather AFB.

 That was some of the hardest and driest reading I ever undertook – but I had little else to do – so I stuck with it from A to Zy. Ugh!

But prior to that summer I discovered a book in my Uncle Adam’s shelf that sparked a real interest. It was a tome written by Will James, entitled, “Sand.”

I loved that book and even begged him to let me keep it to no avail.

Will James’ style of writing was like none other I had ever read before. It was simple and sounded very much like the hands that worked around the dairy.

Born Joseph Ernest Nephtali Dufault in 1892 into a French-speaking merchant family in Quebec, he ran away from home in 1906. By age 24 he had spent three-years in the Nevada State Prison at Carson City for cattle rustling.

In 1919, James was buck off a horse in Reno and seriously injured, ending his ability to make a living as a hand drifting from ranch-to-ranch. It’s at this time he took up writing as well as drawing and painting to earn a living, though he had done both as a hobby before getting hurt.

After reading “Sand,” at least three times, I realized James had a passion. And though he died 18-years before I was born, I learned from that book, and later others like “Cowboys North and South,” also written by James, that no matter what – write about what fills you with passion.

But Which One?

Mrs. Crivelli was my sixth grade teacher. She was known for instructing the class in penmanship and choir for the most part — however she did teach other things.

One late morning she surprised the class by holding a pop-quiz. I was sitting there lost in my own world, hoping she wouldn’t call my name as I was scared to death of speaking in front of anyone because I stuttered so badly.

But suddenly, I was snapped out of my reverie as I heard Mrs. Crivelli speak my name. My worst fear was being realized.

“Tommy,” she directed, “spell Humboldt.”

My mind went blank even though I knew I knew the answer. It seemed as if I sat frozen in my seat forever before I got any sound to come from my lips.

“The river or the county?” I asked.

You should have heard the laughter. I couldn’t slide far enough down in my desk to hide my embarrassment.