All the news that's fit to print.

In the Heart of the Blackland Divide

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Thirty RCHS Seniors Receive Their Diplomas

2020 Grads file into Plowboy Field Friday evening. (from EduDrone video)
The Roscoe Collegiate High School Class of 2020 reached one of life’s milestones Friday evening in a completely novel and unexpected way when they were awarded their high school diplomas while social distancing to an audience limited to close family members at Plowboy Field. They are certainly the first RCHS graduating class ever to do so, and let’s hope they’re also the last. They were also the first to have the ceremony livestreamed on social media, thanks to the crew at EduDrone, who broadcast it on their Facebook page.

In addition to their high school diplomas, most of the graduates had just received their Associate Degrees from Western Texas College in Snyder and/or earned professional certifications through their work at one of the RCHS P-Tech programs, EduDrone, EduWeld, EduVet, or EduMake It,

Valedictorian of the Class of 2020 is Martín Luna with an overall grade average of 100.25. Salutatorian is Rebecca Shaw with an average of 97.7567.

Here is a list of the Class of 2020 along with their academic attainments:

Damian Aguayo §                      Jessie Lynn Mallion *
Hunter Aaron Anglin §             Jesus Martinez, Jr. *
Michael Jacob Arce §                Sadie Gayle McCambridge * Φ
Tristan James Baker * § Φ β   Brayan Medina Solis
Garrett Chastain Bowers          Melissa Montealvo
Jaythan Taylor Coale *             Anahi Ortega Solis
Cera Rae Cuellar § *                  Kaylee Palacios-Herrera * Φ
Leandra Marie DeLeon            Alexander Melchisedek Pantoja * Φ
Gerardo Garcia Solis                 Hagen Riley Payne *
Roman Javier Garza * § β         Jacob Teague Rainey * Φ
Mayra Alejandra Gonzalez        Lyndsey Simone Ruiz
Giselle Herrera                            Esperanza Marie Sanchez * Φ
Karen Edith Herrera § Φ           Rebecca Lynne Shaw * Φ §
Ryan Scott Highsmith §            Shayden Lynn Tinkler * Φ §
Martín Manuel Luna § Φ          Landry Lee Turnbow * Φ §

* = WTC Associate Degree
§ = Industry-Based Certificate
Φ = Phi Theta Kappa (WTC Honor Society)
β = Boys State

Here are the top ten graduates gradewise:
1. Martín Luna                           6. Jacob Rainey
2. Rebecca Shaw                       7. Shayden Tinkler
3. Landry Turnbow                  8. Kaylee Palacios-Herrera
4. Tristan Baker                        9. Jesus Martinez, Jr.
5. Sadie McCambridge           10. Alexander Pantoja



Made for those who were unable to attend the event but serving as a lasting memento for all was this video made for the Class of 2020 by EduDrone’s Cade Garrett, who not only filmed the graduating seniors, but also got their families involved. The 17-minute video was made available on the EduDrone Facebook page yesterday and is or will be placed on the Roscoe Collegiate website.




Junior Martinez is Football Plowboy of the Year.
Although there was no Athletic Banquet this year, several Plowboys were awarded honors for their athletic endeavors in football, basketball, track, and powerlifting, while Plowgirls were recognized for their attainments in basketball and cross country.

Football Plowboy of the Year: Junior Martinez
Football Fighting Heart: Ryan Highsmith

Basketball Plowboy of the Year: Ryan Highsmith, Hunter Anglin
Basketball Mr. Defense: Brayan Medina, Tristan Baker

Track Plowboys of the Year: Seniors Ryan Highsmith, Jaythan Coale, Brayan Medina, Tristan Baker, Junior Martinez

Powerlifting Plowboy of the Year: Jathan Sheridan

Clyde Jay Memorial Scholarship Recipients: Sadie McCambridge, Tristan Baker, Roman Garza

Britt Paty Memorial Award: Jaythan Coale

Shauna McCambridge is Basketball Plowgirl of the Year.
Cross Country Plowgirl of the Year: Itzel Ortega-Solis

Basketball Plowgirl of the Year: Shauna McCambridge
Basketball Miss Defense: Carson Greenwood

Plowgirl Fighting Heart: Sadie McCambridge


Post Commander J. H. Tollison with Larry Clements and Jodie Kingston.
On Monday, Roscoe’s American Legion Post 227 members honored veterans on Memorial Day as they do every year. In the morning was the flag-raising ceremony and the placement of flags on the graves of former servicemen at the Roscoe Cemetery. This year, 293 flags were placed. 

At noon, the flag was changed from half-mast to full, and in the late afternoon the flags were picked up, and the flag at the Legion Hall lowered.



The Covid-19 situation in Abilene seems to be improving with 33 active cases of the virus and only two in the hospital, which may also include patients from other counties. The easing of the shutdown rules so far hasn’t seemed to create any significant health problems there, although admittedly we are still in the early stages of the business re-openings, so it’s still too early to know for sure.

On the other hand, Snyder, which had only two active cases since early April and both of them recovered, has had an outbreak of positive cases in the past week, and as of yesterday had a total of 20 confirmed.

The news stories from Snyder don’t specify where those cases are, although a Lubbock news source said two were law enforcement employees, and the extensive testing they did on Monday with law enforcement and inmates suggest at least some of them are in jail or prison. An Abilene Reporter-News article yesterday on the Snyder outbreak also mentioned that some of Monday’s testing was in a nursing home. There are 192 of the Scurry County tests now pending, the results of which won’t be known until later this week.

However, Scurry County officials did say that eight of the new cases were caused by “community spread,” which indicates that the coronavirus is also active in the general population. Those interested in daily results from Snyder can check on the Scurry County Emergency Facebook page.

Abilene now has 230 positive results with 33 active cases and 2 hospitalizations.

Here are this week’s Big Country county figures as of yesterday (with last week’s in parentheses if different): Jones, 101 (115); Brown, 57 (51); Scurry, 20 (2); Comanche, 9 (3); Callahan, 9 (8); Howard, 6; Eastland, 5; Stephens, 4 (1); Coleman, 2; Nolan, 2; Fisher, 2 (1); Haskell 2, Runnels, 2; Coke, 1;  Knox, 1; Mitchell, 1; Shackelford, 1.

Selected west Texas counties yesterday (with last Tuesday’s count in parentheses): Lubbock, 667 (624); Midland, 124 (122); Ector (Odessa), 151 (115); Wichita (Wichita Falls), 82 (80); Tom Green (San Angelo), 64(62).

Texas now has 56,560 cases (49,912 last Tuesday) and 1,536 deaths (1,369 last Tuesday).



Cloud on Thursday evening. (Photo by Eden Baker)
This was a frustrating week for the weather, as several prime opportunities for rain never materialized, or when they did, produced disappointing results. Although there were afternoon buildups of clouds along with strong winds, lightning, and thunder for three or four days in a row, I received a little less than two-tenths of an inch in my rain gauge, a little on Sunday night and a little more Monday evening. As they do sometimes, the clouds looked promising on radar as they approached from the southwest but seemed to break up or go north or south—or both—shortly before they got to the Roscoe area.

Temperatures were in the 90s every afternoon through Sunday, and there were strong south winds on Saturday and Sunday with high winds of 20 and 25mph with gusts up to 35. Early Monday morning when a norther blew in, it came with gusts in the 40s and up to 50mph. It also cooled everything down. Monday’s high was only 75°F and yesterday's 81°.

The forecast for today is for warmer temperatures with a high of 90°, mostly sunny skies, and almost no chance for rain. The upcoming several days will also be mild with highs in the upper 80s or around 90° through Monday with lows in the 60s. Skies will be sunny on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and rain is unlikely, which is not good, as May is traditionally the wettest month of the year—but apparently not this year. Here’s hoping that lack turns around in June.



 A graveside service for Rodrigo Sanchez De Loera, Sr., “Gigo,” and “Rod,” 88, of Roscoe is being held this morning at 10:00am at Roscoe Cemetery with Father Nilo Nalugon officiating. He passed away on Saturday, May 23, at his home with his wife at his side.

Rod married the love his life, Ofelia Esquivel, on December 27, 1960, in Mexico. Together they had three girls and four boys. He was a hardworking man who began his career as a farmer, then worked for the railroad company and at the City of Roscoe. He enjoyed telling jokes, working outside on the yard, staying busy in his shop, and cruising the streets in Roscoe. But, most of all he enjoyed his grandkids and great grandkids.

Rod is survived by his wife of 59 years, Ofelia De Loera; son, Rod De Loera, Jr., of Arlington; daughter, Norma Lara and husband Richard of Sweetwater; daughter, Sally De Loera Gonzalez of Sweetwater; son, Frank De Loera and wife Lupe of Sweetwater; son, Jerry De Loera and fiancée Tania Brown of Sweetwater; daughter, Diana De Loera and husband Jaime Valdez of Sweetwater; son, John Joe De Loera and wife Ruby of Sweetwater;  9 grandkids and numerous great-grandkids.

Pallbearers are Richard Lara II, Andrew De Loera, Frankie Gonzalez, and Austin De Loera.

Honorary Pallbearers: Jo Christian “Guero” De Loera, Jacyn Lara, Jayden De Loera, Julian De Loera, Jesse De Loera, Landry Brown.

We will miss his fun personality, jokes, and hugs but will take comfort in all the memories he left us with.


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

RCHS Valedictorian, Salutatorian Named

Martín Luna                                            Rebecca Shaw
At Roscoe Collegiate High School, the final grades are in and have been averaged. The valedictorian for the Class of 2020 is Martín Luna, and the salutatorian is Rebecca Shaw.

Martín’s final four-year grade average is 100.25. He plans to be a Texas Tech student pursuing his teaching degree with the Teach Across Texas program. Rebecca’s final average is 97.7567. She is heading to Angelo State University to study accounting, after which she will attend law school at Texas Tech.



Graduation Invitation by EduDrone.
It won't be like any other graduation that Roscoe High or Roscoe Collegiate High has ever had, and it certainly won’t be what the graduating seniors had always expected, but it will mark the final stage of a long road that began for the Class of 2020 twelve years ago when they entered the first grade and embarked upon their public school education.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic and the requirements for social distancing, they will not be receiving their diplomas in public at the Special Events Center but at a private ceremony starting at 8:30pm Friday evening at Plowboy Field. Each student will have a limited number of tickets for family members, and attendees will need one of those tickets to get in.

However, for everyone else the school is planning a live stream video, which can be seen online on either the EduDrone or the Roscoe Collegiate Facebook page. EduDrone students will also make and post a video for viewing at a later date.

 Congratulations to all the graduating seniors of the Class of 2020!



In an executive order on Monday, Governor Abbott initiated phase two of Texas’s economic reopening. Day care centers can reopen immediately. Roscoe’s Open Door Day Care has been open, serving children of essential workers, but with the new directive is able to take on more.

Bars, bowling alleys, and skating rinks may reopen on Friday, and restaurants in all counties can increase their occupancies to 50%. Professional sports may resume but without in-person spectators, and youth sports can resume but with social distancing. Despite the easing, however, officials are still urging mask-wearing and other proper precautions.

Elective procedures have also resumed in hospitals so they can begin to recoup the financial losses from the earlier restrictions.

The meat packing plants around the country, however, have had so many positive Covid-19 tests, e.g., over 1500 at one Amarillo plant, that meat production is down, and the President ordered that packing plants be kept open. At food stores, meat shortages began popping up, causing panic buying and prompting purchase limits, especially on pork and beef. Wendy’s reported that 20% of its franchises in Texas sold out of hamburgers, and on the stock market cattle futures shot up.

Prisons have been hard hit with the virus, and testing is being done in them as quickly as possible, and in Anson, the Bluebonnet detention facility for migrants has the highest rates of any in Texas with 84.

In Abilene, 4,020 tests have now been conducted with 225 positive results according to the revised method of counting. There are still only 4 hospitalizations, which includes patients in Abilene hospitals from surrounding counties.

Here are yesterday’s numbers for the other Big Country counties (with last week’s in parentheses if different): Jones, 115 (96); Brown, 51 (38); Callahan, 8 (6); Howard, 6; Eastland, 5 (4); Comanche, 3; Coleman, 2; Nolan, 2; Runnels, 2; Scurry, 2; Coke, 1; Fisher, 1; Knox, 1; Mitchell, 1; Shackelford, 1; Stephens, 1.

Selected west Texas counties yesterday (with last Tuesday’s count in parentheses): Lubbock, 624 (598); Midland, 122 (107); Ector (Odessa), 115 (100); Wichita (Wichita Falls), 80 (75); Tom Green (San Angelo), 62 (59).

Texas now has 49,912 cases (41,048 last Tuesday) and 1,369 deaths (1,133 last Tuesday).



Sunrise over Roscoe. (Photo by EduDrone)
There were two weather events this past week, both rains—which were of course welcome—but both somewhat disappointing as neither lived up to what they might have been. The first came on Wednesday night. Forecasters had given the area a 40% chance of showers, and we got one, but it wasn’t much. Most places got no more than a tenth of an inch, and Roscoe weatherman Kenny Landfried recorded an official .06”.

Then on Friday night, we got another one. This one also came with a 40% chance, but the buildup started on Friday afternoon about 5:30, when heavy clouds rolled in and everything got dark enough outside for me to go out and see what was going on. I checked the radar, and there was a big red and yellow patch between Big Spring and Colorado City coming our way. As it arrived, plenty of cool air blew in from the cloud along with thunder and lightning, and it appeared that we might get a gully washer. Unfortunately, it turned out to be more bark than bite as the rain didn’t last all that long. I wound up with .55” in my rain gauge, which wasn’t all that much, but it was more than the .40” that Kenny Landfried recorded. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciated the half-inch--it was certainly better than nothing. But it wasn’t the soaking we’re all hoping for.

Other than that, the most remarkable aspect of the weather this past week was the heat, which we experienced in the latter part of last week with Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday with highs of 92°, 94°, and 90°, followed by a cool Saturday and Sunday with highs of 73° and 88°, and then a return to the heat on Monday and yesterday. Monday’s high of 99° under clear, blue skies with hardly any wind felt hotter than that, and then yesterday’s 104° broke the daily record for a May 19 by beating out the old record of 100° by 4 degrees.

Today will also be hot but under partly cloudy skies with an expected high of 96°. There is also a 40% chance of scattered showers, possibly heavy. Those chances drop to 20% tomorrow and 10% Friday, but the weekend looks more promising with a 30% chance Saturday, 50% Sunday, and 80% Monday.



Felix John Salas was a Private First Class of the 1st Platoon, D. Co., 1st Bn., 3rd Marines, 3rd MARDIV, III MAF, United States Marine Corps. He was born in Luling, Texas, on May 18, 1945, and grew up there before moving with his family to Loraine, where he attended school. He then moved to Roscoe, where he worked at Hugo Zetzman’s service station before enlisting in the Marines. He was a member of the Roscoe Catholic Church.

He began his tour of duty in Vietnam on February 2, 1969, and was killed in action on May 1, 1969, in  Quang Tri province just south of the Demilitarized Zone. According to Master Gunnery Sergeant Gary Stanley, “The company stumbled into two platoons of the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) dug in between two hills. The result was a day-long firefight. During that time, 1st Platoon, trying to slip around the NVA flank, ran into an ambush and took quite a few casualties. They managed to fight their way back to the company but left several wounded and KIAs (Killed in Action). It wasn’t until the next morning before we got to them and by then all were KIA.” Among those killed was Pfc. Felix Salas.

Sgt. Stanley also describes a second battle with the NVA on May 10 before concluding his narrative by saying, “All the Marines in these two fights fought like Marines have always fought, with pride, honor, and love for one another. The men killed on both these days died with honor. They fought and died as warriors. They will live in the hearts and minds of those of us who were lucky enough to have survived that hellhole.”

Felix Salas’s name is on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall at Panel W26, Line 93.



A Memorial service for Leo Sabastian Ramirez, 5, of Roscoe will be held at McCoy Chapel of Memories at 3:00pm on Wednesday, May 27. 

He passed away on Thursday, May 14.



A graveside service for Arnold Ray Gonzales, 70, of Roscoe was held at 10am Saturday, May 16, at Roscoe Cemetery with Father Nilo Nalugon officiating and Cate-Spencer & Trent Funeral Home of Sweetwater directing arrangements. He passed away on Wednesday, May 13, at Shannon Medical Center in San Angelo.

Arnold was born on December 29, 1949, in Jourdanton, Texas, to Frank Gonzales, Jr., and Esther Marie (Olivarri) Gonzales. He was a construction worker for Salinas Construction before retiring. He was a member of Holy Spirit Catholic Parish.

He is survived by his wife, Trinidad Gonzales of Roscoe; children, Ray and Johnny Joe Tijerina of Pleasanton, Martin Ortegon of Dallas, Linda Kay Ortegon of Roscoe, and Mario Ortegon and wife Josie of Roscoe; grandson, Anthony Micheal Ortegon of San Marcos; three brothers, Richard Gonzales of Houston, George Gonzales and wife Barbara of Pleasanton, and James Gonzales of Pleasanton; three sisters, Mary Frances Gonzales of Houston, Eva Gonzales Hoekzema and husband Peter of Harlingen,  and Linda Harrison of Lufkin; and numerous nieces, nephews, aunts, and uncles.

He was preceded in death by his mother, Esther Marie Olivarri Gonzales; father, Frank Gonzales, Jr.; maternal grandparents, Victor and Maggie Olivarri; and paternal grandparents, Frank H. and Julia Gonzales; brothers, David Gonzales, and Frank Gonzales, III; and sister, Ruth DeLeon.


Editor’s Note: The following article by Herschel Whittington is a Memorial Day extra. It is a detailed account of the events surrounding the death of his oldest brother, 2nd Lt. Hillman Whittington, who died during the Battle of Midway in June 1942. As the first Roscoe serviceman killed in World War II, Lt. Whittington’s name is part of the official name of Roscoe’s American Legion Post 227, the Frost-Whittington Post.

The account below is an adaptation of Herschel Whittington’s original article, “The Other B-26 at Midway,” published in
Dispatch, the official magazine of the Commemorative Air Force, in May/June 1992, fifty years after the event. It is appended to “Smiles and Tears of Boyhood Years,” his memoir of growing up in Roscoe in the 1930s and ‘40s.

"Missing in Action at Midway"
by Herschel Whittington

2nd Lieutenant Hillman Whittington
On May 2, 1942, U. S. Army Air Force Second Lieutenant Hillman Whittington married hometown sweetheart, Maxie Cooper of Roscoe, Texas. There was no time for a formal honeymoon. The war was being fought, and lost, at fever pitch, especially in the Pacific: to the Army, completion of his flight's combat readiness training took precedence over personal activities—even romance.

On May 14, Hillman celebrated his 24th birthday. Maxie and their landlady made a small cake, topped off by a single candle. Hillman blew it out and wished the war would soon be over.

For him, it would be. Too soon.

On May 21st, orders came down for Hillman's flight leader to depart for the Pacific, with his three best crews flying their three best Martin B-26 Marauder twin-engine medium bombers.

On May 23rd, the three bombers, with Hillman flying co-pilot in the second craft, lifted off the Wright Field, Ohio, runway: destination: Australia, via Hamilton Field (San Francisco), California, Hickam Field (Honolulu), Hawaii, and some remote South Pacific island-reef that provided refueling for the final, long leg of their journey to the "Land Down Under."

On May 26th they took off from Hamilton Field to fly the 2,200 non-stop, over-water miles to Hickam. On this flight, Hillman wrote his last letters home, one to Maxie and one to his parents and me. Mostly, he noted, the flight was boring and tiresome, but planes and crews were performing flawlessly. "It seems strange," he wrote, "that we took off an hour after sun up, will fly 11 hours in daylight, and still land five hours before sundown. This may easily be the longest day of my life... Don't worry about me."

By the time they landed in Hawaii, word had been passed to all Pacific commanders that Japanese Admiral Yamamoto's giant armada of dozens of ships, including four fleet carriers (Akagi, Kaga, Shiryu, and Hiryu) with their complements of 500 aircraft, and transporting 5,000 elite troops, was steaming toward the American Navy outpost on Midway Island, a spit of sand 1,100 miles north-west of Honolulu.

On May 29th, the three newly arrived B-26 Marauders, joined by a fourth that had flown up from Australia for retrofit work, were ferried the few miles to Pearl Harbor. There the planes' crews watched with great concern as their aircraft were jerry-rigged with torpedo racks and fitted with torpedoes. None of these airmen had ever before seen a torpedo. This equipment took four days to make and install.

On May 30th, Hillman's bride, Maxie, did not celebrate her 19th birthday.

On June 2nd the planes were flown back to Hickam, fueled and armed, and provisioned for combat. The crews were briefed. They would proceed to Midway and there cooperate with the Navy and Marines in defending the Island outpost in whatever way Fleet Commander Chester Nimitz requested.

B-26 Marauder
On June 3rd the four B-26 Marauders and crews made the six-hour flight without incident. The outrigged torpedoes caused major drag, but the powerful engines of the Marauders easily overcame the added resistance. The only serious concern for the aircraft commanders being poor performance of their planes' turret guns: when tested in flight, several jammed or malfunctioned in some other manner.

During the afternoon of June 3rd, the meager Marine and Navy aircraft contingent on Midway was reinforced not only by the four Marauders, but also by 19 Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress four-engine heavy bombers, and a gaggle of miscellaneous, mostly outdated Navy craft of various denominations flown mostly by Marine pilots. Least effective of all, perhaps, were the 26 Marine-piloted, badly outdated Brewster F2 Buffalo fighter planes, which were both too slow and too poorly armed to compete with the light, fast, highly maneuverable Japanese Zero fighters.

Brewster F2 Buffalo
In addition to the potpourri of U. S. planes on the Island, Admiral Nimitz, directing (from Pearl Harbor) American forces and strategy to be thrown against Yamamoto's invasion armada, had in place a lesser armada of American ships, including three aircraft carriers: Hornet, Enterprise and the crippled Yorktown. Even so, the American force, in number of aircraft, tonnage of ships, and overall firepower was every bit as over-matched as that slingshot armed Jewish lad who went against the mammoth Goliath of Gath.

On June 3rd, mid-morning, an American Catalina search aircraft spotted the Japanese fleet. That afternoon, nine of the B-17 bombers attacked the Japanese transports from high altitude, failing to score a single hit.

Four bomb-equipped Navy Catalinas managed one hit on a tanker but did little damage. That night the B-26 and B-17 crewmen slept fitfully on the sand beneath the wings of their planes.

On June 4th, at 5:34 in the morning, another Catalina spotted a swarm of Japanese aircraft approaching Midway. The Battle—as the British say—was joined. Everything on Midway that would fly took to the air. Because they were the fleetest planes in the American defense, the Marauder bombers-turned-torpedo-carriers were the last off the ground. Their target, the lead Japanese carrier, Hiryu, was an hour or so to the northwest.

PBY Catalina
Of the aircraft arising from Midway that morning, 26 of the old Marine fighter planes lingered to intercept the attacking Japanese bombers and their fighter cover. Seventeen of these Brewsters were shot down and another seven severely damaged, but the Japanese aerial raid achieved only minor damage to ground facilities on Midway, and by a quarter past seven, the attack was over, and no further assault on the Island would be successfully mounted by the invaders.

Strangely, the ships of the two combatants would join in direct battle infrequently, insignificantly, and not until much later that day. It was aircraft against aircraft, and aircraft against "floating airfields" and shipboard gun platforms.

The first wave of six Navy Avenger torpedo bombers to go against the Hiryu reached the target but proved ineffective. Behind them came the four jerry-rigged Marauders. Hiryu commander, Susumi, later wrote: "We received no hits from any of them [Avengers or Marauders] ...Those torpedoes were very slow; they seemed to surface, go down again, surface, go down again. For some reason those torpedoes didn't seem to have any speed at all. There was one occasion when a torpedo came toward us on the surface. We hit it with a machine gun and blew it up."

Grumman Avenger Torpedo Bomber
Dan van der Vat wrote: "The small American wave of torpedo bombers lacked not only an effective armament but also any form of fighter protection; they were shredded by the Japanese fighters and anti-aircraft barrage. One Avenger and two Marauders, all damaged, managed to get back to Midway."

Later crew reports and Japanese ship logs clarified somewhat the fate of the Marauders. The armada was spotted by the Marauder flight leader about seven o'clock. About 20 miles away, surrounded by combat vessels of every ilk, all bristling with anti-aircraft guns, rode the four huge fleet aircraft carriers. Filling the sky between the bombers and their target were dozens of the agile Zero fighter planes. "We dropped to the deck and headed straight for those flat-tops," the flight leader later wrote.

"They gave us everything they had, but we kept going. I think our gunners were doing their best, but the damned guns kept jamming." As they bore in on their target, the Hiryu, the flight leader's Marauder was followed about half-a-mile back by the B-26 from Australia, with Hillman's plane following in the third slot, and the other plane trailing half-a-mile behind him. The first plane released its torpedo, veered left, then turned and flew over the length of the Hiryu's deck, the nose gunner/bombardier strafing as they went, destroying one emplacement and killing two Japanese gunners.

The second Marauder also released its torpedo, veered sharply right and found itself flying wing to wing with the leader as both used full throttle to escape the fury of enemy fire. Both aircraft, badly riddled with bullet holes and damaged beyond belief, limped back to Midway with dead crewmen—five of the 12 crewmen aboard these two planes died.

Hillman's plane came in third. The flight leader reported that he believed they too released their torpedo before pulling up and skipping over the carrier and crashing into the sea.*

* In an interview after the war, a Japanese deck officer aboard the Hiryu said: "That third plane [Marauder] came straight at us, about fifty feet below deck level. We thought they [the pilots] were dead, and they would crash into us. But at the last minute they pulled up, barely clearing the deck and coming straight at the bridge but again veering and diving into the water below and breaking apart. As they went by, I remember thinking the plane was in tatters and the crew must all be dead. I saw no one."

The fourth Marauder disappeared sometime before reaching the carrier. No one, American or Japanese, has been able to account for it or its crew, but they likely were blown from the sky by the ubiquitous Zero fighters.

Mitsubishi Zero
According to Dan van der Vat, "They [the Marauders] scored no hits but unwittingly contributed to the fateful moment upon which the battle hinged. Lieutenant Tomonaga of flagship Akagi, who led the attack on Midway, had called in to recommend a second strike on the atoll. The ill-fated torpedo attack ten minutes later supported his judgment, as the twin-engine Marauders could only have come from Midway, not a carrier."

Admiral Nagumo decided to follow the lieutenant's advice. "His carrier," Vat wrote, "had planes on deck armed with torpedoes, ready to attack any enemy [American] surface ships; he cleared the decks to receive the aircraft returning from Midway and ordered the waiting planes to swap their torpedoes for bombs for a second strike at the island base. As this work, which normally took a full hour, was in hand, a Japanese reconnaissance aircraft sent in the first sighting report of the American fleet....Nagumo ordered the process stopped... Total confusion prevailed... The Japanese decks remained empty, [still] awaiting the arrival of Tomonaga's pilots... Meanwhile, Midway had sent in another wave...of 16 Marine dive bombers..."

The second wave of American planes attacking the Japanese carriers—16 dive bombers—proved to be just as disastrous for our side: no hits, and all but two of our aircraft destroyed. But they added even more confusion to Susumi's situation.

A third and fourth strike by the Island based aircraft resulted in no hits as well. It was not until American carrier-based torpedo and bomber planes entered the fray that our luck began to change—but when it did, everything turned our way. By the end of the day, America had won a resounding victory—having sunk all four of the Japanese fleet carriers and thereby destroyed their complements of planes and pilots—a blow from which the Japanese navy, and especially its air arm, would never recover.

About 3:00 a.m. on June 5th, Admiral Yamamoto ordered a general withdrawal of what was left of his fleet.

The only official word from the U. S. Government or the Army to families of that "other B-26 at Midway," the one on which Hillman Whittington flew co-pilot, was "Missing in action and presumed dead."


Wednesday, May 13, 2020

RCHS 2020 Graduation Set for May 22

Roscoe Collegiate High School is happy to announce that it will have a live graduation at 8:30pm on Friday, May 22. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, graduation will be held at Plowboy Field, and we will implement social distancing standards. Therefore, the graduation ceremonies will not be open to the general public. Each graduating student will be allowed a limited number of guests.

In addition, we are planning to provide a live stream video on the evening of the 22nd, and we will post that video for viewing at a later date as well. Although this is not ideal, we are extremely excited to be able to offer a live graduation option for our students who have worked so hard to accomplish so much!

Andy Wilson, Provost.



City Manager Cody Thompson addresses the Council at yesterday's meeting.
At its monthly meeting in City Hall last night, the Roscoe City Council got an update from the City Manager, the Police Report from the Chief of Police, conducted routine business, and approved extending the acceptance of bids for managing the City Swimming Pool this summer.

City Manager Cody Thompson reported the purchase and installation of a new lift-station pump at the main lift station by the baseball field. The old one, which was about twenty years old, malfunctioned and burned up. City workers also dug a trench from the east booster pump for a water line to the mudbog pit, so instead of using reverse-osmosis treated water for the mudbog pit and ballpark, the non-potable water produced by that well can be used as a cost-saving measure. It will also save on electricity and use of the primary pumps.

EHT, the City’s engineers, has advised the City that it should purchase a back-up primary west booster pump. City workers are still working on lowering the effluent water at the waste-water treatment plant by draining the lagoons for inspection by the TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality).

The City will once again team up with the County this summer to sealcoat City streets. The two will use $25,000 of materials in the project. Just exactly which streets will be treated has not yet been determined.

The water line improvement plans are still being reviewed by the TWDB (Texas Water Development Board) and the TCEQ. Once they approve them, the City will advertise for bids to get the project underway.

The city is also planning to send employees to state training and licensing schools once the current coronavirus mandates are lifted.

City workers will demolish and burn two houses, possibly this Saturday if weather permits. One is located at 5th and Ash Streets and the other at 6th and Elm.

Police Chief Felix Pantoja then gave the monthly police report for the month of April. He reported that the department received 113 calls compared to 119 in March, issued 14 citations compared to 11 in March, and made one arrest.

Since the City is still tentatively planning to operate the City Swimming Pool this summer if pandemic constraints permit it, the Council approved extending the acceptance of bids to manage it.



Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital appeared in a spot on the national CBS Evening News last week as an example of the troubles created in rural hospitals by the regulations imposed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Rural Texas hospital struggles to stay open amid coronavirus pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has led to frightening times for rural hospitals like Rolling Plains Memorial in Sweetwater, Texas, about three hours west of Dallas. Recently, the hospital has lost almost $2 million in revenue. "A continuation of that could be devastating for this hospital," said CEO Donna Boatright.


This video clip illustrates the creation and assembly of N-95 quality medical masks by Edu-Make It workers in a project that supplied Abilene Regional Medical Center, Mitchell County Hospital, and Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital with a total of some 500 masks. The video is one minute and forty seconds long.  



The Plowboy Mudbog has scheduled its annual July 4 Plowboy Mudbog for Saturday, July 4. As in years past, the public gate will open at 11am and action begins at noon.


The final changes in the governor’s easing of coronavirus constraints will take place on Monday, May 18, opening gyms and manufacturing facilities. In fact, all businesses but bars, which the governor’s task force is still working on, will be allowed to reopen. It’s something of a gamble, and everyone is waiting to see its effects on the number of new positives for COVID-19 across the state. Whether it is the right move won’t be known until then, and the governor has said adjustments will be made if necessary.

Of course, even with the relaxing of the rules, life will not return to normal as social distancing, customer capacity limits, handwashing, mask wearing, and other guidelines remain in place, but it should be enough to get the economy moving in the right direction again. At least, that’s the plan. Texas has lost billions of dollars since the initial executive order back in March.

The City of Abilene is revising its method for reporting positive numbers for active cases of COVID-19 cases. As of yesterday, they are reporting 213 positive results for COVID-19 as opposed to the 382 on record from 3109 tests because 94 are prison positives, which, although they are in Abilene, count as belonging to Jones County, and 82 others are serologic positives, which the state has asked them not to count to keep in line with other county counts. The number of hospitalizations is easy to tabulate, however, and the good news there is that there are only 4 current hospitalizations in Taylor County for the virus, which is quite low, especially when compared to numbers in other areas of the country.

Here are yesterday’s numbers for the other Big Country counties: Jones, 96; Brown, 38; Callahan, 6; Howard, 6; Eastland, 4; Comanche, 3; Coleman, 2; Nolan, 2; Runnels, 2; Scurry, 2; Coke, 1; Fisher, 1; Knox, 1; Mitchell, 1; Shackelford, 1; Stephens, 1.

Selected west Texas counties: Lubbock, 598; Midland, 107; Ector (Odessa), 100; Wichita (Wichita Falls), 75; Tom Green (San Angelo), 59.

Texas now has 41,048 cases (33,369 last Tuesday) and 1,133 deaths (906 last Tuesday).



Thursday's sunset. (Photo by Eden Baker)
After the hundred-degree days of the previous week, this past one was marked by milder temperatures. It was windy, however, especially on a couple of days, and also dry, i.e., another week with no rain. That’s not what we like to see for the month of May.

Still, the temperatures of this past week were a welcome change. Wednesday and Thursday had highs of 83°F and 88° with lows of 52° and 61°. Thursday did have strong winds from the south, 20-30mph with gusts over 40. Then on Friday, the wind shifted to the north but was just as strong if not stronger. On Saturday, breezes were lighter and back from the south where they have remained since. The high was a cool 77°. Sunday’s high was only 79°, and Monday and yesterday were about the same with highs of 80° Monday and 81° yesterday.

There’s a 40% chance of rain today from scattered strong storms, and temperatures into the weekend will be progressively warmer, a high of 88° today, 91° tomorrow, and 90° on Friday. Both Friday evening and Saturday are also getting a 40% chance of rain from the forecasters. Lows for the next seven days are all in the sixties.

Tomorrow will have strong winds from the southwest before shifting on Friday to the south along with increased cloudiness, which will last through the weekend.

A good soaking would be a welcome change.



Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a private graveside service for Irmgard Arnold Althof, 92, was held yesterday at 10am at the Roscoe Cemetery with Daylon and Nancy Althof providing special music and Pastor David Draper officiating. She passed away on Saturday, May 9, in Boerne.

Irmgard was born on March 17, 1928, in Burton, Texas, one of six children born to Erich and Selma Deiss Arnold. Two days after graduating from Waco High School in 1947, she began working at William Cameron and Co. in Waco. She met the love of her life, Wilbert Herman Althof, in the summer of 1948 at a Baptist General Convention in Kyle, Texas. They married on March 17, 1950, at Central Baptist Church in Waco. Irmgard always said that Wilbert was the best birthday present she had ever received, even though she had always vowed that she would never marry a farmer. They lived on their farm west of Roscoe until 1971 when they built in Roscoe, and where she continued to reside until March 2017 prior to relocating to Heritage Place in Boerne to be closer to family.

Irmgard was a homemaker and a great cook. Although never employed outside the home after marriage, she kept busy running errands for her family and was a helping hand in many different ways. She also enjoyed gardening, landscaping, and tending to her flowers. She was a 60-year member of the First Baptist Church in Roscoe, where she served many years on the Building and Grounds Committee and the Floral Committee.

She was preceded in death by her husband Wilbert, on April 15, 1987; parents, Erich and Selma Arnold; sisters Ruth Grossman (Raymond), Pearl Sherrod (Ralph) and Adina Cox (Bill); and brothers Erich Arnold (Betty Mathews) and Glenwood Arnold (Joyce Ferguson); brothers-in-law Raymond Althof (Ina Gabler), Clarence Althof, George Hughes; and sister-in-law Elnora Althof Peters (Arnold).

She is survived by daughter, Debra Cravey (Al) of Boerne; son, Ron Althof of Owensboro, KY; grandsons, Dr. Russell Cravey (Rhonda) of Kerrville, Stuart Cravey (Savannah) of San Antonio; brother-in-law, Edwin Althof, Jr., (Johnnie) of Henrietta; sisters-in-law, Frances (Althof) Hughes and Joyce (Cooper) Althof, both of Roscoe; four great-granddaughters, and numerous nieces and nephews.

A very special thank you to the staff and caregivers at Heritage Place of Boerne, Nurse Practitioner Specialist Kristin Steinke and the caregivers with Alamo Hospice and Kindred Home Health.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to First Baptist Church, P.O. Box 626, Roscoe, Texas 79545. McCoy Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.


Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Governor Lets Hair Salons Open Friday

The Southern Belle Salon on Main Street.
Last week it was the retail stores and restaurants that reopened, and this week on Friday, May 8, it will be the businesses requiring personal services, including barber shops, beauty salons, nail shops, and tattoo parlors—everything but the bars. And Governor Abbott says he is working on finding a way to reopen them safely.

But, like the businesses that opened last weekend, the ones reopening this week will do so with restrictions. The same limits on customer capacity will apply to the ones this week just as they did last week, 50% for establishments in counties with five or fewer confirmed coronavirus cases, 25% in ones with more than that. Other restrictions also apply depending on the kind of business it is.

State and local governments are trying to strike a reasonable balance between controlling the pandemic while boosting the economy. The assumption that the number of new cases would peak by the end of April has not happened, so the health risk now is that the rate of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths will continue to increase. At the same time, over a million Texans have filed for unemployment since March, including over a quarter of a million last week, with others unable to file claims because of the logjam at unemployment offices and websites.

Governor Abbott says that much of the increase in COVID-19 cases is due to the recently accelerated rate of testing in Texas. He says the real key is that Texas hospitals still have plenty of room for patients and are not currently in danger of being swamped. He vows to keep a close eye on the situation, and, if necessary, he will change the restrictions depending on the situation.

Last week, Nolan County got its second confirmed COVID-19 case, a 40-year-old man who went to an Abilene hospital. Health department staff did contract tracing, and those who had close contact with the man are now self-isolating. The patient says he had not traveled out of Sweetwater before becoming ill.

As of yesterday, Abilene is up to 378 confirmed cases, an increase of 101 over last Tuesday. Of those, 235 are active with 231 self-isolating and only 4 hospitalized with 6 deaths.

Other Big Country counties’ case numbers are as follows: Jones, 78; Brown, 38; Howard, 6; Eastland, 4; Comanche 3; Nolan, 2; Callahan, 2; Scurry, 2; Runnels, 2; Coleman, 1; Knox, 1; Mitchell, 1; Stephens, 1.

Select West Texas counties: Lubbock, 560; Midland, 90; Ector (Odessa), 84; Tom Green (San Angelo), 79; Wichita (Wichita Falls), 68.

Texas was up to 33,369 cases, (26,171 last Tuesday) with 906 deaths (690 last Tuesday).



Megan and Dan Boren present masks to Abilene Regional Medical Center in this photo that appeared in the Abilene Reporter-News on Friday.
The Edu-Make It mask project reported on in the last two postings of the Hard Times received front-page prominence in last Friday's Abilene Reporter-News in a story written by staff writer Ronald Erdrich.

The story can be accessed by clicking here.



Dr. J. W. Young, Sr., rides in the Golden Jubilee parade on June 21, 1957.
In my lifetime, I can remember two occasions in which the city of Roscoe went all out to celebrate an event. One was the American Bicentennial celebration of July 4, 1976, and the other was Roscoe’s Golden Jubilee on the weekend of June 21, 1957—and it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if the latter was the bigger of the two.

Certainly, the Golden Jubilee galvanized the entire community, and the celebration was larger than just the official days with the parade, barbecue, and other events. The cause was the occasion of Roscoe’s fiftieth anniversary as an incorporated town,* and the celebration involved the active participation of a great number of its residents and almost all, if not all, of the local organizations.

Before the official celebration began, people got into the spirit of the coming occasion. There were several women’s clubs in town back then, such as the Altruesa Club, the Women’s Club, the Wednesday Study Club, the Garden Club, and the Home Demonstration Club, as well as church organizations, and it seems that all of them got involved in one way or another.

This Abilene Reporter-News photo shows l to r Mrs. Donald Marth, Mrs. J. C. Tomlin, Mrs. T. A. Singleton, and Mrs. W. R. Potter, all heads of their respective clubs.
The most noticeable feature was all the retro dressing that went on and became the fashion of the town. Women created costumes on their sewing machines that they thought best represented the way they would have looked fifty years earlier, and once they had made them, wore them around town in the days leading up to the official celebration.

The men didn’t go that far, but the Lions Club, the event’s sponsors, ordered dozens of black derby hats and bow ties, which their members sold for a dollar apiece. I was thirteen years old that summer and remember all my friends and I buying those derbies and wearing them around town as soon as we got them a couple of weeks before the official celebration, and many of the men did the same. So, it wasn’t just the ladies that got involved.

Ladies in homemade pioneer outfits on the Homemaking Club float.
The festival was publicized in the weeks leading up to the event. On Fridays, at the Trades Day drawings in the old City Park, where the Roscoe State Bank now stands, William Haney, the town’s unofficial spokesman, reminded the crowd of the big day, and local newspapers and radio stations were also involved in getting the word out.

By the time the event started, all the folks in the surrounding area knew what was going on in Roscoe, and many came for the party. The big event of the first day was the parade, and clothing wasn’t the only feature of the old days. It seemed that everyone who still had an old wagon or buggy in the barn put it in running order and entered it in the parade. There were also two or three old fire engines, one from Colorado City, marching bands, antique cars, floats from every organization in town, and other odd and assorted entries. The parade was over a half mile long with hundreds of spectators. Not only were the sidewalks full of onlookers, but kids found ways to get on the roofs of downtown buildings and watched the proceedings from above.

Billy Haney and I were the trampolinists for the Boys Club, and our part that day was to turn flips on a trampoline mounted on the back of a truck moving down the street in the parade. We’d performed in shows before but always on a stationary trampoline, and we were worried that we’d bounce up, turn a flip, and when we came back down, the truck would have moved forward and we’d land in the street breaking bones. George told us we thought that because we didn’t understand the physics involved and that as the truck moved forward, so would we. He said, “If you were in a vehicle going down the road at sixty miles an hour, and there was a fly flying around in there with you, that fly wouldn’t have to fly sixty miles an hour to keep from smashing into the glass, would it? “No,” we said, “but we’re not inside the truck, we’re bouncing up in the air outside.” “But the principle is the same,” he said, “So, quit complaining.” 

Flipping on a moving truck in the parade. Billy Haney is in front looking back. Boys on back are Cuppy Graham and Joe Duncan.

The parade began way out on east Broadway beyond the Gulf station, and at the beginning both Billy and I, taking turns and still dubious, were barely bouncing and not turning flips but just landing on our seat or stomach. But as the parade moved forward, we gained confidence, bouncing higher as we went, and by the time we got to where the crowds were, we were both bouncing high enough to turn flips and perform our regular routines. We wore our derbies jammed tightly on our heads and never lost them.

After the parade, the women’s clubs held a tea, and many of the spectators went to a building where a collection of antique items was on display. This was in the days before Roscoe had a museum, so everyone enjoyed seeing old items like one-row planters, ladies’ side-saddles, coal-oil lanterns, crank telephones, and other things they remembered from their childhood or had heard about.

That evening, there was a big street dance on Cypress Street between Shelansky’s and Denson’s Dry Goods (now the closed El Tejano restaurant). The music stage faced north in the street about even with the alley halfway down the block. I have tried to remember the name of the band playing that night. The name Jimmy Heap and the Melody Masters comes into my head, but that could easily be wrong. Maybe there’s someone else who was there that night that still remembers. If there is, please let me know. Anyway, whoever it was put on a lively show to a packed crowd that thoroughly enjoyed it.

Golden Jubilee street dance on Cypress Street.
For many of us kids, just seeing all the ladies in their long dresses and men with their derbies dancing in the street was a fascinating novelty. Public dancing was generally frowned upon in Roscoe in those days, and just the fact that the dance was being held was exceptional. Ideas of morality and modesty were different back then, and many of the strait-laced protestants of the town felt it was un-Christian, led to impure thoughts, and set a bad example for the town’s youth. But on this night, they let it pass because it was part of the Golden Jubilee celebration. Some even joined in and did a little two-stepping themselves.

The next day the festivities continued with a horse show on the school grounds starting at 2 p.m., during which time Leland Howard won an award for being the longest living resident, having moved to Roscoe in 1889, and J. E. Clayton won one for being the former resident who had come from farthest away, Magnolia, Arkansas, to attend the celebration.

The afternoon show was followed at 6 p.m. by the American Legion barbecue. Tickets were 75ȼ, and over 1,250 of them were sold—and that didn’t count the older folks who had lived in the area for 40 or more years, who ate for free. The West Texas Cutting Horse Association held their meeting in Roscoe for the occasion, and the afternoon horse show was followed in the evening with a cutting horse competition that took place before a large enthusiastic crowd.

When it was all over, everyone congratulated themselves and the others on a job well done and a thoroughly good time that involved a large part of the community. We boys continued to wear our derbies for a while, but eventually they got lost or wound up on the closet floor, and we and the town moved on to other pursuits. Looking back on that time now over sixty years later, I remember the occasion not only as a happy event, but one that in retrospect turned out to be one of Roscoe’s finest moments.

* Although the community could trace its history back to over fifteen years earlier, when it was a budding little hamlet on the Texas & Pacific railway known as Vista, the incorporation on June 8, 1907, which passed by a vote of 65 to 18, made it an official town with an established city government that could levy taxes and oversee the affairs of the community.


“Roscoe Prescribes Old-Time Garb for Golden Jubilee.” Abilene Reporter-News, June 4, 1957.

“Old Firebell Clangs as Parade Opens Roscoe Fete.” Abilene Reporter-News, June 22, 1957.

“Roscoe Honors Longest Resident,” Abilene Reporter-News, June 23, 1957.



Hot weather clouds in the eastern sky on Sunday afternoon.
The month of May this year has come in with a vengeance. On Friday, May 1, the temperature rose to 95°F, which was hot for openers, but then Saturday was so torrid it broke the record for heat by six degrees. The old record for a May 2 was 98°, but since Saturday, it is now 104°, which was the maximum at about 5:00pm that afternoon. Sunday was also hot, but not quite as bad as Saturday, breaking the daily record of 99° with a high of 101°. Then Monday didn’t break any records, but it still broke the century mark with a high of 101°. So we are now up to our sixth day of the month and three of them have broken a hundred degrees, and two of the other three have hit ninety (90° on Thursday and 95° Friday).

Along with the heat, it’s also been windy and dry. The wind hasn’t always been from the same direction, but whatever direction it was coming from, it was strong. The hot southwest winds of the weekend shifted to the north Monday night and continued to blow hard until around noon yesterday.

The good news was the drop in temperature, but with the wind even the sixties felt chilly, especially after the heat of the previous days. The week, like the two before it, was another dry one without a hint of precipitation.

Today, we’ll get a break from the heat and high winds with sunny skies, a lighter breeze, and a high of 84°, but tonight the south wind will pick up again to 20-30mph, warming the high tomorrow to 92°. Then  tomorrow night, the wind will shift to the north and still be high with winds of 25-35mph and gusts over 40, causing the high on Friday to be only about 72° with a low of 47°. The weekend will then be sunny and nice with only a light breeze. High on Saturday will be about 75° and Sunday about 83°.

Unfortunately, it looks to be another dry week with no chance of rain.


Blog Archive