Friday, October 16, 2009

Cycle Idaho; The Hiawatha and Coeur d'Alene Trails

Idaho offers wonderful bike trails, set in the mountains on old rail lines with only moderate grades. To read about two of the most popular, the Hiawatha and the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes, visit Steve's Travel Journals.

But don't pack your bikes just yet. Snows have come to the high country closing the higher trails. Instead visit the site for inspiration and planning for 2010. Enjoy.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Old Seventy; Requiem for a B-17

This article, based on a relative's personal notes and official records, appeared in the June 2009 edition of "Warbirds Magazine."

Over 12,000 B-17 variants were produced during World War II. Only a few, like the Memphis Belle, have left deep tracks in the sands of history allowing historians to follow their movements during their often brief life in the Army Air Corps. Of the “B” series only one, serial number 38-215, has left a significant trail.

Through letters, personal journals, after action reports and government records 38-215, later nicknamed “Old Seventy,” can be followed from her November, 1939 delivery at March Field to her fatal Aleutian crash July 18, 1942. During her life she played a number of roles: test platform for cold weather operations, patrol plane under Navy control, bomber and weather reconnaissance aircraft.
The B-17B series was born in the middle of the depression when the Army had to beg for each development dollar from a reluctant Congress. A direct descendant of the model 299, launched in 1935 and the 13 YB-17s, ordered for testing in 1936, the “B” series included a number of design upgrades including superchargers, a larger tail, new nose, hydraulic brakes and revised gun and bombardier positions. It is arguably the first “production” version of the B-17 and the first assigned to active bombardment groups; one on the Atlantic coast and one on the Pacific side. Only 39 B-17Bs were built and none survived the war yet they made a valuable contributions to the further development of the “C,” “D” and ultimately the first model worthy of the “Fortress” moniker, the “E” series.
Old Seventy spent the first months of her career in California, between March Field and the Sacramento Air Depot. In early 1940 orders were issued for the transfer of Old Seventy and her sister ship, 38-216, to the new Army Cold Weather Test Detachment at Ladd Field (now Fort Wainright), then under construction near Fairbanks, Alaska. The detachment would be charged with testing aircraft, equipment, maintenance procedures and other Army gear in the frigid northland. While bush and commercial pilots had been developing skills for Arctic flight operations, the Army lacked cold weather experience.
Old Seventy, 38-216 and the Cold Weather Test Detachment (CWTD) would provide that knowledge.
On April 14, 1940 Major Dale Gaffney, Lt. Marvin Walseth and 16 others were detached to Ladd to pave the way for aircraft and technicians to follow. They arrived to find a field under construction so set up their first operations in nearby Fairbanks.
At March Field technicians went to work on the two Alaska bound B-17Bs to prepare them for their Arctic assignment. Guns and bomb racks were removed, replaced with test equipment. Day-glow orange was applied to the wing tips and tails of the silver birds and a new symbol, a bomb carrying polar bear, was applied to each fuselage. Old Seventy received a large “1” on the fuselage and smaller one on the tail. 38-216 received a similar “2.”
On October 4, 1940 the two planes departed March Field carrying six officers and eighteen men. Arriving at Ladd bundled in heavy parkas they were surprised by the moderate fall weather and the lack of snow. They would soon learn why Fairbanks was selected as the cold weather test site.
Anchorage based General Simon Buckner, newly assigned Commander of the Alaska Defense Forces, favored the big plane for his frequent aerial tours and soon the planes were making appearances at remote fields all over the territory. While single engine bush planes were common, the big bombers were a novelty in the north. They were so noteworthy that on several occasions in October and November the Anchorage newspaper reported on the arrivals and departures of the planes. In one case they noted it “stayed on the ground for 15 minutes.”
In addition to testing work Old Seventy made frequent trips to Alaska’s interior, inventorying available landing sites for use in flying emergencies and in time of war. At then end of November Lt. Walseth, Gaffney’s adjutant, flew to Fort Yukon and then out over the Arctic Ocean. On December 1st he was off to Nome to pick up fur parkas and mucklucks locals were making for the Army. In a letter home he reported…“believe me, it was a great treat for all the people over there and for all of us as the field was rolly and not a foot too long. We just got in and off.”
The winter testing had fallen into a routine when tragedy stuck the small Ladd flying community. In early February Captain R. S. Freeman flew 38-216 to the Sacramento Air Depot with reports concerning the winter flight operations at Ladd. On February 6th, enroute from Sacramento to Wright Field, the plane crashed into a Nevada mountain killing all aboard. Old Seventy was now the only four engine bomber operating in the Alaska Territory.
Later that month Lt. Walseth filed a report of the first year’s activities of the Ladd CWTD. He reported that Old Seventy had flown over 324 hours in just six months at temperatures ranging from -47 degrees to +50 degrees F. During that time a number of changes had been made to the aircraft including the installation of:
· 1000 watt engine oil immersion heaters.
· A B-17C style cabin heating system with boiler units on two engines. (First orders for the “C” series planes had been placed in July of 1940)
· Six outlets for heated flying suits.
· 100 amp, type E-85, generators replacing the 50 amp models.
· Defroster for bombardier’s aiming window.
He also reported on the testing of electric flying suits from General Electric and United States Rubber. Flight crews had found them wanting for Arctic use. One had caught fire. All had cold spots and failed to maintain temperature when the generators were not producing while idling on the ground. Worse “…if a man had to leave his ship…a man with good emergency equipment and good non-heated flying clothing would have a chance of surviving….A man in … electrically
heated outfits would be helpless….”
On April 30th Ladd nearly lost its remaining B-17B. As Walseth reported after a night flight, “Almost had to leave it [the plane] as the propeller governor broke and the engine ran away. Tore itself all to pieces, cylinder broke off, etc. In fact almost completely demolished. That is about the worst experience I have had.”
Grounded until a new engine could be shipped to Ladd her next trip didn’t occur until the end of May when Old Seventy flew at 15,000 feet non-stop to Sacramento making the 2400 mile flight in eleven hours. At Sacramento she received a complete overhaul and some features from the “C” series were added. The most visible change was the replacement of the “tear drop” gun blisters on the waist with flush mounted openings that produced less drag and gave better gun angles.
After nearly a month on the ground Walseth completed Old Seventy’s trip to the lower ’48 via San Antonio, Maxwell Field and Wright Field in Dayton. In July she returned to Ladd to enjoy the last months of peace on the northern frontier.
When war was thrust upon the United States, December 7th, 1941, Old Seventy was one of the few more modern aircraft available in the Alaska territory. But since the CWTD reported directly to Wright Field, General Buckner didn’t even include it in his aircraft count. On January 3, 1942 Buckner advised Army Headquarters that “There is not at the present time a single up-to-date fighting plane in the Alaska Defense Command.” The best he could muster were “seven obsolescent medium bombing planes [B-18s] and sixteen equally outmoded pursuit planes. [P-36s]”
As 1942 progressed the Anchorage based 36th Bombardment Squadron began cobbling together a fighting force. Old Seventy was transferred to the 36th. In March a single B-17E arrived from Wright Field followed in May by three LB-30s, an export version of the B-24. All but Old Seventy had rudimentary radar. This was the air fleet ordered to the NW Sea Frontier Command at the Kodiak Navy Base in late May. The same intelligence intercepts that set up the Midway battle included warnings of a Japanese attack on Alaska. The question was, where would it occur?
Old Seventy arrived at Kodiak with Lieutenants Jack Marks and Richard Ragle at the controls. The crew was given a top secret briefing and informed they were to be assigned to Navy Patrol Wing 4 and operate from to a new, secret base on Umnak Island in the Aleutian chain. But their mission had been so secret that they’d departed Ladd with a sick engine and without bombsight, bomb shackles, guns, ammunition and other essential fighting gear. Before she could go to war she had to be converted from a test platform to a fighting ship.
She returned to Ladd on May 26th and, with ground crews working 24 hours a day, finally arrived at Umnak on June 2, ready to join the fight.
For the next six weeks Old Seventy would be in almost constant motion. The day they arrived at Umnak they were fueled, armed and, at 1800, sent on patrol looking for the Japanese fleet. Aleutian weather, which haunted most flights, forced her to fly under the 400 foot cloud ceiling. Returning at 0530, the third, they learned of the Dutch Harbor attack, refueled and took off again.
With Marks and Ragle at the controls they ran into Japanese planes returning from Dutch Harbor and the waist gunner, Sgt. K. E. Nelson, claimed a kill. He also put 50 holes in the tail of Old Seventy! Flying beneath the 250 foot ceiling they followed the retreating enemy planes and came upon what they believed was the entire Japanese fleet. They dropped their bombs under heavy clouds and returned to base.
The next few days Old Seventy was in the air more than on the ground chasing phantom fleets over the unforgiving waters. At one point she nearly attacked an island rising from the foggy mists.
On June 4th she lost her bomb bay doors when her bombs released following a violent maneuver to avoid a cloud shrouded mountain side. Later they were forced to shut down number two engine when the cowling worked loose and nearly caught the propeller. While flying at reduced speed they were jumped by Japanese planes. Only the dense cloud cover allowed them to avert disaster.
By the 6th of June the constant flying was taking a toll on her. After an early morning patrol, departing at 0435, followed by a mid-day patrol, departing at 1150, she was serviced and in the air again at 1545. Shortly after takeoff one engine failed. She turned toward Anchorage on three engines with two generators out, severe icing and two superchargers acting erratically. More generator problems finally forced Old Seventy down at the small village of Naknek at 2320.
They made emergency repairs and returned to the fight only to be disabled on the 7th by a faulty fuel transfer pump, disabled during an earlier encounter with a Japanese fighter.
On the 9th she was assigned on a bombing run to Kiska, where the Japanese were establishing a base. Old Seventy’s problems began to mount. She was too old and slow to keep up with the B-24s that were arriving to expand the strike force. Only by pushing her to the limit could she keep up with the newer, faster, planes. She made the trip on the 9th but, on the 10th, number two engine failed and she had to abort. A ground check revealed that two cylinders lacked compression. She needed a new engine and the nearest spare was at Ladd.
She returned from Ladd sporting new Army green livery, replacing the international orange paint job from her testing days. Since she was not in the same league as the newer bombers she was given a new and important solo role, weather reconnaissance and redesignated YB-17B. Weather was a nightmare in the Aleutians; low ceiling, fog, high winds. Worse, storms came from the west so flights taking off from Umnak had no idea what they would encounter on their 600 mile flight to Kiska. Old Seventy’s new job was to serve as lead scout feeding weather information back to base operations.
Former Lieutenant Walseth, now Major, took over Old Seventy in July. The pace for both aircraft and crews remained grueling. In a letter to his family Walseth reported that, “Most of our flights run around ten hours. Sometimes two or three in succession but when possible every other day. After three successive flights it takes about a week to recover, which none of us get. So we are generally quite worn down. The war we are fighting up here is a long slow process as everything depends on the weather. All the fronts move toward us so the [Japanese] sort of have an edge on us as they know what’s coming and we don’t.”
And the grind continued. Out shown by the newer, faster models, Old Seventy continued to contribute to the fight in her own, independent way. Finally, on July 18 she failed to return from a solo photo reconnaissance mission. The old lady was gone.
The diary of Lt. Billy Wheeler, of the 36th Bombardment Squadron, describes what happened. “The weather at Umnak [on the 18th] was bad as usual. The visibility was as low as 100 feet and a sea fog surrounded the island during the greater part of the day. Several days after the report of the loss, Major Walseth’s ship was found on Cape Udak, the Southwest end of Umnak Island…[The crew was] buried near the Nikolski village, a short distance from the crash scene. These were the only burials in the squadron, bodies are rarely found in our job. It was assumed that Walseth had made a landfall on Umnak and had endeavored to follow the coastline to the field. An unexpected land projection caught him. He crashed only twenty feet from the top.”
Old Seventy’s contribution to the war effort ended 32 months after it began in the California sunshine. Piloted by a succession of young men she provided valuable lessons concerning the operation of aircraft in cold climates. The groundwork she and her crew laid made life easier for those who followed and helped insure the other 12,000 B-17 aircraft truly performed like “Flying Fortresses.”

Origin of the Name “Old Seventy”

The origin of the name “Old Seventy” remains a mystery.

Major Walseth, the pilot on its ill fated last mission, never refers to the name in his correspondence. He flew the plane extensively from its arrival in Alaska in October of 1940 until the Pearl Harbor attack. In early 1942, with many pilots and only one plane, other pilots were often at her controls. In May of 1942 Captain Marks flew her on her first combat missions with Lt Ragle as co-pilot. Both Marks and Ragle refer to her as Old Seventy as do authors who wrote extensively about the Aleutian campaign.
Ragle, who survived the war, suggested that the name may have come from a radio call sign given her by the Navy during her brief stint as a Navy patrol plane in late May and early June of 1942. Even he couldn’t recall specific details.
But the name stuck. And Old Seventy, the only “B” series bomber to see extensive combat action following Pearl Harbor, will live on in history with that moniker.
Where Are They Now?

Major, later General, Gaffney remained in Alaska and took over responsibility for the Ferry Command which managed the Lend Lease program that was ferrying planes to Fairbanks where they were turned over to our Russian allies.
Lieutenant, later Captain, Ragle returned to Ladd Field and played a major role in the Ferry Command under Gaffney.
Both Gaffney and Ragle survived the war.
Lieutenant Wheeler, who left behind an extensive diary of the 36th Bombardment Sq. activities, survived the Aleutian campaign and returned to Seattle with the remnants of the Squadron after it was disbanded following victory in the Aleutians. The author has no record of his other war time activities.
Major Marks and his crew perished in a B-17E shot down on a July 17 raid over Kiska.
Major Walseth and his crew perished on a remote corner of Umnak Island the next day.
General Buckner went on to lead the 10th Army on Okinawa where he was killed in action.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Make Retirement Work; Your New Journey Requires a Two-way Street

Planning for retirement? This article explores the non-financial side of that planning. A previously published version was posted on this site in July of 2008. The Seattle PI newspaper saw the piece and requested an update for publication in their Life and Arts section on March 9th of 2009.

A copy of the article can be seen by clicking on Seattle PI.

I regret to report that the PI, as it was called in Seattle, ceased publishing a print edition a few days after this article appeared. The print version will be missed but the on-line version carries on.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Developers Have a Song For Government These Days

This article appeared as a guest editorial in the "Puget Sound Business Journal" on January 30th, 2009. As a former home builder Steve couldn't resist taking a poke at a few Seattle area planners.

“How do you like me now?”

So goes the chorus of an old country song, a chorus area home builders could be singing at regional city and county council meetings if they were so inclined.

In good economic times home builders are a cash cow for local governments. Development, impact and permit fees are piled on with wild abandon and wheelbarrow loads of building material sales tax flows in to government coffers.

Ironically, at the same time homebuilders are routinely vilified as despoilers of the landscape; the chief cause of traffic congestion and crowed schools.

Well, now that the fee flow has disappeared, how do local governments like homebuilders now? When times are good home builders are a convenient source of cash. While this isn’t Chicago’s “pay to play” approach to doing business the results are similar. Home builders write big checks for the right to build homes that the region needs. The costs get passed on to consumers, housing prices rise, affordability becomes a dream and governments officials wring their hands about the high cost of housing.

But that reliable source of government revenue has dried up giving officials even more cause for hand wringing.Consider some of the “voluntary” contributions that have now diappeared, in light of the housing slump.
· Sales tax on building materials.
· Impact fees for schools, roads and parks.
· Utility connection fees.
· Building permits fees.

The sad truth is that many of these charges far exceeded the actual cost of providing services to the new home communities. So when the permit applications disappeared the county and city costs did not. Thus the squeeze on government budgets.

So, how do they like the homebuilders now?

With apparent disregard for the sad state of the housing market and in spite of the shortage of affordable housing, agencies have not slowed their efforts to further raise the cost housing, once someone decides to build one.
· One Snoqualmie Valley school district just doubled their impact fee per home to $10,000.
· Regional fire marshals are pushing a plan to require fire sprinklers in all new homes at over $10,000 per home.
· Many communities are enamored with Low Impact Development (LID) a green and more expensive approach to community development. While some elements have merit the economics are being swept under rug as communities vie for the right to say, “my community is greener than your community.”
· King County is toying with requiring a “Carbon Impact Analysis” for new development. Read another way it means more delay, more studies and more cost.

This list could go on. It appears that the planners, freed from the burden of processing permits, are now devoting their efforts to the hot planning idea de jour. And when the housing market returns, and it will return, it will be accompanied by the usual municipal hand wringing about the lack of affordable housing. An optimist might hope that governments would show more respect for an industry that does so much to fill their tax coffers in good times while providing the basic housing for their citizens.

In the meantime regional homebuilders can gain some satisfaction, while dusting their unsold homes, by humming Toby Keith’s, “How Do You Like Me Now?”

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A War of Words; The U S Army vs. the Alaska Game Commission

by Stephen Dennis, For the Fairbanks News-Miner
Published Sunday, January 18, 2009

The big war came to Alaska on December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor Day. But a much smaller Alaska conflict actually began five months earlier. This little known war, over the issuance of hunting licenses, was fought with bombast, not bombs, and words, not bullets. It was a war between the U. S. Army and the Alaska Game Commission and, given the passion and rhetoric displayed, it is hard to believe they worked for the same government!

Like many wars, this one started innocently enough when Withers Tolbert of the 4th Infantry Division at Ladd Field (now Fort Wainwright) was denied a resident hunting license in July of 1941. At the time the fee for a resident license was one dollar per year compared to fifty dollars for a non-resident license. With starting pay in the Army a meager $21 per month, the denial of access to a resident license was tantamount to denying the young soldiers the right to hunt at all.

Despite Tolbert’s pleas for reconsideration the rock solid bureaucrats at the Alaska Game Commission, a Federal agency, would not budge. He was a soldier. He was different. To receive a resident license a civilian simply had to declare that Alaska was his home and that he had been in the Territory for one year. However, since all servicemen were from somewhere else, in Alaska by order of the Army, they were not eligible to claim residency regardless of how long they had been in the Territory.

The license skirmish might have ended there had it not caught the attention of Lt. Marvin Walseth, the Adjutant at Ladd Field. A Minnesota hunter himself, he viewed the Commission’s actions as an affront to the U. S. Army and the hundreds of servicemen that were pouring into the Territory in those days. He decided to launch a frontal assault. On July 23rd he applied for a resident license at the Fairbanks office of the Commission pointing out, in writing, that he had been in Alaska for over a year, he owned land and he planned to make Alaska his home. It seemed like an open shut case. It wasn’t.

He was refused a license and the war of words began. It is unclear who said what to whom during the following two weeks but on August 4th, in his role as Adjutant, Walseth advised the Commission’s Fairbanks office that Lt. Col Dale Gaffney, Ladd Field’s Commanding Officer, was banning all Commission personnel from Ladd. Existing gate passes were to be returned and, in the future, game agents could only visit Ladd Field with special permission and under escort. The action was taken “…Because personnel of the Alaska Game Commission have made erroneous statements that are not conducive of goodwill to the Military Forces…”

This action must have been awkward for Walseth since one of the Fairbanks game agents, Sam White, was personnel friend. White had dined with the Walseth’s on several occasions and sent them a book on Alaska as a wedding present. White and Walseth had also flown together on trips to the back country. But for now White and his associates were banned from the Field.

The word battle in Fairbanks must have made waves in the system because the Commission soon rolled out their big gun from Juneau in the form of Frank Dufresne, the head of the Commission. Dufresne turned out to be their secret weapon. He was a bureaucrat among bureaucrats. Never giving an inch of ground he could write the kindest letters expression sympathy over the plight of the soldiers who wanted to hunt and then, in the end, blame Congress who made the rules. His job was simply to enforce them. He claimed he wanted to help but his hands were tied.

As to Walseth’s apparently foolproof application, it was reviewed by Dufresne and denied again on August 20th. Dufresne claimed that living at Ladd Field was different from living in Alaska for residency purposes and referred Walseth to a copy of the Alaska Game Law, which was written by Congress in far off Washington D. C.

Both sides now resorted to a war of attrition, hoping to wear the other side down. Letters and radiograms were tossed back and forth, between Juneau and Fairbanks, like live grenades. Dufresne would explain why no variance from the rules was ever permitted. Then Walseth would provide him with examples of exceptions that had been made by Dufresne’s agents. For example, Walseth named three members of the Signal Corp who had been granted resident licenses though no more qualified than Walseth and Tolbert. Why, he asked, were these touted rules not being applied uniformly? Further, why could any civilian just walk into a Commission office, claim his was a resident and walk out with a license with few questions asked? Were there different rules for civilians, Signal Corp personnel and the rest of the Army?

Dufresne was a master of doublespeak and, for each rule exception Walseth cited, he had an explanation for the apparent inconsistencies. Reading the correspondence today one can understand Walseth’s frustration. Dufresne’s rationalizations were weak and inconsistent but he would not budge from his prepared position. In this war of words it was clear that the Commission was well supplied. With hunting season approaching, Walseth needed to try a new approach, his wife.

Walseth knew that a number of Signal Corp spouses had received resident licenses. The Commission claim that Army personnel were different from others in Alaska would not stand up with her. She was clearly a civilian. So Phyllis Walseth applied for her first hunting license. A day later her application was denied and her dollar returned. It was time for another radiogram.
On August 30th Walseth launched a searing radiogram missile at Dufresne citing several Signal Corp wives, similar to his own, who had received resident licenses. Walseth felt this license denial and the Commission’s regular shoddy treatment of Army personnel was reprehensible. He closed the message with “…It may appear that I seem provoked concerning this. If so, that is quite right. For your information court proceedings have been started and though it may take some time, it is now up to the court to make final settlement.”

Since the Fairbanks office of the Game Commission had escalated the fight by pushing the matter to their Juneau headquarters, in the form of Frank Dufresne, it was time for the U. S. Army to do the same. Walseth turned to the head of the Alaska Defense Forces, General Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr.

Under normal circumstances a lowly First Lieutenant in Fairbanks would not be on speaking terms with a General Officer in Anchorage. But during the 1940 defense build-up in Alaska nothing was quite normal. Walseth had met with Buckner on many occasions when the General visited Ladd Field and had served as his pilot on several trips to the interior. During one of the General’s visits to Ladd the lieutenant surprised his young wife by bringing Buckner home for dinner.

Walseth and Gaffney, the Ladd Field commander, contacted the General and received an enthusiastic response. Buckner commanded a growing corps of low paid troops who would be living in a high cost Territory. Hunting would be an activity they could afford which would boost morale and keep them out of trouble. Additionally he no doubt saw the inherent inequity in the contradictory treatment of civilians, Signal Corp and Army personnel.

On September 19th Buckner made application for a resident license before Game Commission representative, Jack O’Connor. He attested to the fact that he had resided in Alaska for one year, that he was domiciled there, voted there and intended to stay there. O’Connor refused to issue the license.

Buckner then turned to Federal District Court in Anchorage. O’Connor and the Game Commission were named in a suit. The general sought an order from the court directing O’Connor to issue the license. At that point a game of cat and mouse ensued. When Buckner’s attorney sought to serve O’Connor with the suit he was nowhere to be found. Where he disappeared to was a mystery likely encouraged by Dufresne at headquarters.

At first the Commission simply ignored the proceedings as if Federal Courts didn’t matter to them. Upon hearing the case the judge concluded the license should be issued and called for a second hearing. Concerned over the direction the case was going the Commission finally came forward to denounce the entire proceeding and claim the court did not have jurisdiction over the matter in the first place.

On October 2nd the court reconvened and ruled on all the matters. First, it did have jurisdiction. That dealt with the Commission’s argument. Second, should Buckner receive a license? The answer was a resounding yes. The court found that if an applicant met the requirements of the law, including the residency test, the Commission staff had no right to use discretion to treat some applicants differently from others. That was the very point that Walseth had been arguing for weeks. It appeared that a clear cut victory for the Army was at hand. It was not to be so.

O’Connor refused to appear in his office so Buckner could apply for a license. A U. S. Marshal was dispatched to find him and bring him in. When the errant O’Connor was brought in Buckner presented him with a completed license application and the one dollar fee. O’Connor again refused to issue the license. He then left the office. Court was reconvened and the judge issued an order finding the game commission employee in contempt of court. Once again the Marshal was called, this time to arrest O’Connor. An hour later everyone but O’Connor was back in court. The empty handed marshal explained that his quarry had escaped by going to Fort Richardson where the marshal had no jurisdiction to make an arrest. Essentially a government employee had escaped apprehension by another government employee by escaping to a government reservation!

Undeterred the judge ordered the clerk of the court to issue the hunting license to Buckner in O’Connor’s name. O’Connor would be dealt with at a later time.

Any celebration of victory by Army personnel was short lived. Dufresne would have nothing to do with the judges ruling. His position was made clear in a front page article in the October 7th, 1941 Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. First, the Commission had no objection to Buckner’s license; they just did not recognize it as valid and planned to appeal the ruling. Second, the ruling only applied to Buckner, not to any other Army personnel. The Commission would not issue licenses to other soldiers. Finally, showing what a kind hearted bureaucrat he was, Dufresne said he would continue his efforts to change the law. In the meantime Buckner could hunt alone.
As the article further pointed out,…”[we know how Dufresne] feels about $1 game-shooting privileges for members of the agency assigned by the government to protect the Territory’s soil and human population…”

An editorial in the November 1941 Alaska Sportsman expressed sympathy for the soldier’s plight. “It is manifestly unfair, however, to deny a soldier who gives his time to the service of his country, the rights, such as that of hunting, which other citizens enjoy, when he has complied with the same requirements as the civilian.”

So who won the battle for the license? In the short run you would have to say that the bureaucrats beat the Army. In the sometimes virulent war of words the veteran Dufresne had a clear advantage over young Lt. Walseth. Sitting behind his volumes of regulations with years of double talk experience he was a formidable opponent.

More important matters would soon consume the military in the Territory and passion for the hunting license dispute would wane. Just two months after the judge issued his ruling Alaska changed forever with the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

The participants in the license battle moved on. General Buckner went on to distinguish himself in the defense of Alaska but later lost his life in the 1945 battle for Okinawa. In July of 1942 Lieutenant, then Major, Walseth lost his life when his B-17 crashed in the Aleutians returning from a flight over Japanese held Kiska. Gaffney stayed in Alaska and played a significant role in the management of the Northwest Staging Route which transited warplanes from the lower 48 through Ladd Field for delivery to our Russian allies. Bureaucratic history has consumed the stories of the Game Commission participants.

In the many years that have passed the military has continued to play a significant role in Alaska. Today members of the armed forces are afforded the same hunting privileges as civilians, Walseth’s goal in the first place. State officials are clearly kinder to the military than the 1941 Federal employees of the Game Commission. So, in the end, perhaps the efforts of those license warriors in 1941 were not in vain.