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By Eric Heinz
Few people in the military have accomplished what Col. Robert Thacker has.
The former airman flew a B-17 bomber when Pearl Harbor was under attack, and he flew bombers in Europe and the Pacific during World War II. He was also involved in the Korean War.
On Feb. 18, he turned 99 years old and celebrated the milestone at Talega Golf Club in San Clemente.
“I’m 99 because of modern medicine, no question about it,” Thacker said. “I’ve had a beautiful wife for 71 years, but we lost her; she was 91. I live alone, do my own trucking, and life is pretty good.”
Thacker said he was drawn to the pilot’s life by aviators Charles Lindbergh, the Wright brothers and Chuck Yeager. He said he started making model airplanes when he was 8 years old.
“Next to real airplanes, model airplanes are the best,” Thacker said. “The human male likes to build things, and he likes to build things that will work. And when he makes things, he wants to make things even better, and on the final effort, he wants perfection.”
Thacker flew in the U.S. Air Force for more than 31 years.
“It’s wonderful when I’ve got (younger people) to help me out,” Thacker said “I have 122 of my friends here. It’s the help I’ve gotten over my life. It’s unbelievable that I could get that many people here.”
Thacker is sharp-witted and often comes up with off-the-cuff comments. During the party, he answered questions with witty replies that made everyone in earshot laugh.
“When I’m 99 years old, I can say anything I want, and the women just love it,” Thacker said.
Vic Sebring, a resident in San Clemente, said he met Thacker about 20 years ago when he was jogging near his home. Sebring said he and the colonel struck a chord with each other, sharing a mutual interest in aviation.
“One of the fun things I get to do is take him to these aviation shows and conventions,” Sebring said. “For me, the best part of them is sitting in the car and getting to pick his brain about flying.”
YUMA, Ariz. – The 11th annual radio control model airplane airshow flies its way into Yuma this Saturday. The show that is sponsored by the Yuma Aero modelers club is expected to have a large turnout. The airshow will be held at the Contreras field, located off Hwy 95. Fliers from all across the state will come and show off their airplane models. The Yuma aero modeler group has about 130 members and is affiliated with the academy of model aero-nautics. The club promotes model aircraft activities such as flying and building model aircrafts, as well as teaching new members how to fly. Promotion coordinator of the show, Russ Verbael, says this show will feature an array of different aircraft models.
“There will be a full array, from gliders to trainers and Sunday fliers, all the way up to the really exotic airplanes that can just about touch their tail with the propeller. We’re going to have a couple of Jets this year; Just lots of really unusual airplanes. “
Now these aircraft can range in price from the low hundreds to over a thousand dollars. Drones will also make an appearance at the show. The event starts at 10 am and ends at 2pm on Saturday. There will be food offered for purchase and parking is just five dollars. Verbael says, be prepared to see some of the finest radio control model airplanes flying in the desert southwest at the show. For more information you can head to their website. www.yumaaeromodelers.com
WASHINGTON — Apollo 11 command module Columbia spent 8 days, 3 hours, 18 minutes and 35 seconds in space. It spent 46 years at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. And now it’s being prepped for a 142-day mission in Pittsburgh.
The module, which took Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon, is the centerpiece of a four-city tour celebrating the approaching 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission ahead of the 2020 opening of a permanent Smithsonian exhibit on moon exploration in Washington.
The traveling exhibit begins Oct. 14 at Space Center Houston, then moves to the Saint Louis Science Center on April 14, 2018. It is scheduled to be at the Heinz History Center from Sept. 29, 2018, to Feb. 18, 2019, before its final tour stop at The Museum of Flight in Seattle. Following the tour, the module will return to the Air and Space Museum for placement in the new exhibit “Destination Moon.”
The tour will mark the first time the Columbia will leave the museum since it opened in 1976.
“Apollo 11 was one of the most important human space flights in the history of the whole space age,” exhibit curator Michael Neufeld said. “It paved the way for exploring the moon. Its mission was mainly just to show that we could do it — that we have the technology to explore the moon.”
Pittsburgh is a fitting stop on the tour, said Andrew Masich, president and CEO of Heinz History Center.
“It’s perfect for us because our theme is innovation,” he said.
Neil Armstrong leads Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins through the space center. (Keystone/Getty Images)
Not only that, but the Apollo 11 mission has ties to Pittsburgh. The Columbia was built in California by the Pittsburgh-based Rockwell International company, Alcoa built its aluminum components, ATI provided speciality steel, Westinghouse provided the cameras that provided the first photos of the lunar landing, and Mine Safety Appliance manufactured the astronauts’ breathing apparatus, Mr. Masich said.
The command module is the only part of the spacecraft that returned to earth after the mission.
“It’s the cone with the protective surface on it that allows it to barrel into the atmosphere at 25,000 miles per hour and slow down through the friction of slamming into the atmosphere and parachuting into the ocean to be recovered,” Mr. Neufeld said.
The traveling exhibit will include an interactive three-dimensional digitized model that will make visitors feel like they are inside the module. It was created from high-resolution image scans that will reveal the smallest details not otherwise visible to museum goers.
That includes newly discovered astronaut graffiti from the module’s lower equipment bay, an area below the astronauts’ seats that museum curators had not previously explored.
“There’s a calendar where they crossed off days, and next to the computer pads there’s a bunch of notes about a particular maneuver they were doing,” Mr. Neufeld said. Visitors can zoom in on those details and manipulate the digital model to view the instrument panel and different parts of the bay.
“It gives people to go inside and look around in a virtual way,” he said.
The traveling exhibit also includes the helmet and gloves Mr. Aldrin wore on his moon walk, one of the two boxes used to carrying lunar samples back to Earth, the Omega Speedmaster chronograph watch that astronaut Michael Collins wore during the mission, and a survival kit with a machete, radio, water, sunglasses, medical supplies and water desalinization tools meant to be used if the return mission went wrong and astronauts landed in a remote jungle or ocean far from their target.
“It’s really interesting to be able to create an exhibit for a new generation of people who may only know about the moon landing from high school history. It’s exciting to be able to bring the command module around the country and five people a chance to look at it,” Mr. Neufeld said.
Washington Bureau Chief Tracie Mauriello: email@example.com, 703-996-9292 or @pgPoliTweets.
Six-time Tony Award-winning costume designer Catherine Zuber and legendary scenic designer Tony Straiges are among the 2017 TDF/Irene Sharaff Awards recipients which were just announced by Theatre Development Fund (TDF), a not-for-profit service organization for the performing arts. The awards will be presented at a ceremony on Friday, April 28, at 6:30pm, at the Edison Ballroom (240 West 47th Street). Ms. Zuber was selected to receive the 2017 TDF/Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award for costume design and Mr. Straiges will receive the Robert L.B. Tobin Award for Sustained Excellence in Theatrical Design. The awards are presented through Theatre Development Fund’s Costume Collection.
Additionally, costume designer Paloma Young (represented on Broadway this season with Bandstand and Natasha, Pierre The Great Comet of 1812) will receive the TDF/Kitty Leech Young Master Award (formerly the TDF/Irene Sharaff Young Master Award, now re-named in honor of the late designer Kitty Leech who passed away last year), andERNEST YOUNG (Penn Fletcher Embroidery) will receive the TDF/Irene Sharaff Artisan Award.
During the ceremony, as a special memorial tribute to the legendary designing team MOTLEY, who were designersMargaret Harris, SOPHIE HARRIS and Elizabeth Montgomery WILMOT, there will be a screening of an original 15-minute film on their career, created by designer Suzy Benzinger.
TDF/Irene Sharaff AWARDS VOTING COMMITTEE:
The awardees were selected by the TDF/Irene Sharaff Awards Voting Committee, which is comprised of leading members of the theatrical costume design community. They are: Stephen Cabral, Chair; Gregg Barnes, Suzy Benzinger, Dean Brown, Traci DiGesu, Linda Fisher, Lana Fritz, Rodney Gordon, Allen Lee Hughes, Holly Hynes, Carolyn Kostopoulos, Anna Louizos, Mimi Maxmen, David Murin, Sally Ann Parsons, Robert Perdziola, Gregory Poplyk,Carrie Robbins, Tony Walton, Patrick Wiley and David Zinn.
Throughout her long and distinguished career, elegance and an attention to detail were the trademarks of costume designer Irene Sharaff. Miss Sharaff was revered as a designer of enormous depth and intelligence, equally secure with both contemporary and period costumes. Her work exemplified the best of costume design. Such excellence is demonstrated by the winners of the 2017 TDF/Irene Sharaff awardees.
ABOUT THE AWARDEES:
Catherine Zuber (TDF/Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award) has designed the costumes for 48 Broadway productions and is a six-time Tony Award winner for Best Costume for The King and I (2015), The Royal Family (2009),South Pacific (2008), The Coast of Utopia (2007) Awake and Sing (2006) and The Light in the Piazza (2005). Her six additional Tony nominations include: Golden Boy (2012), Born Yesterday (2011), How to Succeed…(2011), Seascape(2005), Dinner at Eight (2002) and Twelfth Night (1998). For this season she has designed the costumes for Oslo and War Paint.
Ms. Zuber decided to study costume design at Yale University. She was 30 years old when she arrived at Yale and later admitted that when she first got there: “I didn’t know what a proscenium was.” She graduated in 1984 having studied with Michael Yeargan, Ming Cho Lee and her role model, costume designer Jane Greenwood. Michael Yeargan recommended her as a designer for an Andrei Serban production at The American Repertory Theatre, launching her career. She has worked extensively at Lincoln Center Theater and has designed extensively Off Broadway, regionally and for opera.
Other nominations include: Death Takes a Holiday (2012 Lucille Lortel Award, Drama Desk Award, and Henry Hewes Award); Far Away (2003 Lucille Lortel Award); The Light in the Piazza (2005 Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award), Far from Heaven (2014 Lucille Lortel Award and Henry Hewes Award); Intimate Apparel (2004 Outer Critics Circle Award); The House in Town (2007 Henry Hewes Award); Dinner at Eight (2002 Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award); and The Whipping Man (2011 Henry Hewes Award). Ms. Zuber has won awards for her design work, including:Engaged (2005 Obie Award); Far Away (2003 Henry Hewes Award); Intimate Apparel (2005 Lucille Lortel Award and a 2004 Henry Hewes Award); and The Beard of Avon (2004 Lucille Lortel Award). She is also the recipient of the 1997 and 2005 Obie Award for Sustained Achievement.
Tony Straiges (Robert L. B. Tobin Award for Sustained Excellence in Theatrical Design) has designed the sets for 17 Broadway musicals, plays and specials as well as countless regional productions, ballets, etc. He won a Tony Award for his set design of Sunday in the Park with George (1984) and was nominated for the sets for Into the Woods (1987). His other Broadway credits include: Enchanted April (2003), Golden Child (1998), Shimada (1992), I Hate Hamlet (1991), Artist Descending a Staircase (1989), Dangerous Games (1989), Rumors (1988), Long Day’s Journey into Night (1986),Copperfield (1981), Harold and Maude (1980), King Richard III (1979), IceDancing (1978), A History of the American Film(1978), and Timbuktu! (1978).
Tony Straiges began studying art at a college near D.C., but quit before graduating because he was so involved with community theater groups in the area. He later became a design student at Yale School of Drama and then a resident professional designer at Yale Repertory Theatre during the 1970s, when both affiliated institutions were under the directorship of Robert Brustein. His Off Broadway productions include Nathan the Wise (Classic Stage?2016), Mother Courage and Her Children (Classic Stage?2016), Doctor Faustus (Classic Stage?2015), The Caucasian Chalk Circle(Classic Stage?2013), Chasing Manet (59E59 Theater-2009), Meet Me in St. Louis (Irish Repertory Theatre?2006), From Door to Door (Westside Theatre?2004), Tea at Five (Promenade Theatre?2003), One Shot, One Kill (Primary Stages?2002),Golden Child (Joseph Papp Public Theater?1996), Coastal Disturbances (McGinn?Cazale Theatre?1986), Fighting International Fat (Playwrights Horizons?1985), Diamonds (Circle in the Square Downtown?1984), Messiah (New York City Center?1984), Summer (New York City Center?1983), Talking With (New York City Center?1982), No End of Blame (Stage 73?1981), Vikings (Stage 73?1980), Gertrude Stein Gertrude Stein Gertrude Stein (Circle Theatre?1979), Don Juan Comes Back from the War (Stage 73?1979), and Glance of a Landscape (Playwrights Horizons?1975).
Mr. Straiges has designed for many regional theatres across the country, including: Alley Theatre, Philadelphia Theatre Company, American Repertory Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Guthrie Theatre, McCarter Theatre, and the San Francisco Opera Summer Workshop. He spent many seasons designing at Yale Repertory Theatre (1974-77, 1978-79, and 1981-82). From 1976?1981, he designed countless productions at Arena Stage in Washington, DC (The Winter’s Tale?1979 and Women and Water?1985). Tony has also worked many times at Hartford Stage (The Glass Menagerie, Rough Crossing, Long Day’s Journey into Night, A Christmas Carol-A Ghost Story of Christmas, and The Great Magoo.) He also designs sets for ballet companies.
Paloma Young (TDF/Kitty Leech Young Master Award) won a Tony Award for her costumes for Peter and the Starcatcher. This season her costumes can be seen on Broadway in Bandstand and Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812. Her Off Broadway credits include: Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, Kazino (Lucille Lortel Award, Drama Desk Nomination); The Patron Saint of Sea Monsters, Fly by Night at Playwrights Horizons; Wildflower at Second Stage Uptown; Recall at Colt Coeur; Permission at MCC; Here’s Hoover! at Les Freres Corbusier. Regional: The Bandstand at Paper Mill Playhouse; The Tempest (magic by Teller, music by Tom Waits) at RT/Smith Center Las Vegas; Troublemaker, or the Freakin Kick-A Adventures of Bradley Boatright and You, Nero at Berkeley Repertory Theatre; Hoover Comes Alive! and A Current Nobody at La Jolla Playhouse. Ms. Young has also worked regionally at Dallas Theatre Center, Arena Stage, Williamstown Theatre Festival, South Coast Repertory, The Old Globe, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, California Shakespeare Theatre, Hand2Mouth and Mixed Blood among others. MFA UC San Diego. Website: palomayoung.com
ERNEST SMITH (TDF/Irene Sharaff Artisan Award) is president of the embroidery company, Penn Fletcher, where he has supervised the detailed art of embroidery for countless productions on both the stage and the screen. Despite his relationship with embroidery, Mr. Smith actually began his career in the world of theatre design. He assisted many New York designers-Charles Elson, Patton Campbell, David Hays-and would himself go on to design scenery, costumes, and lighting. When he eventually tired of designing, Smith settled in Long Island City and, with fellow designer Andrew B. Marlay, establishEd Penn Fletcher in 1986.
Penn Fletcher was largely formed from the remnants of older embroidery studios and, because of this, maintains some equipment dating back to the 19th century. This celebration of embroidery heritage does not, however, slow the company down. Indeed, Penn Fletcher has handled such grand?scale projects as the curtain at the restored Seattle Opera House and the curtains for Bally’s Las Vegas. The simple truth is that there are very few productions that have not walked through the company’s door-its Broadway credits, for instance, include The Will Rogers Follies, Victor/Victoria, and Aladdin. One project that Smith is particularly proud of is the work done on Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 film Bram Stoker’s DraculA. Smith’s aim is simple: to realize a designer’s vision with unique embroidery through color, texture, and line.
MOTLEY (Margaret Harris, Sophie Harris and Elizabeth Montgomery Wilmot) (Memorial Tribute) was the name of the theatre design firm made up of three English designers, sisters Margaret Harris (known as “Percy”) (1904-2000) and Sophie Harris (1900-1966), and Elizabeth Montgomery Wilmot (1902-1993). The name derives from the word ‘Motley’ as used by Shakespeare. The group won Tony Awards for costume design for The First Gentleman (1957) and Becket (1961) and was nominated seven additional times: The Country Wife (1957), Shinbone Alley (1957), Look Back in Anger (1957),Kwamina (1961), Mother Courage and Her Children (1963) and Baker Street (1965).
They met at art school in the 1920s and became John Gielgud’s designers during the 1930’s. They started teaching theatre design at Michel Saint-Denis’s London Theatre Studio (1936-1939), the first time a design course had been incorporated into a drama school in the UK. Margaret Harris and Elizabeth Montgomery spent World War II in the United States, designing for Broadway, and Harris also worked with Charles Eames on his molded plywood airplane parts. Sophie Harris stayed in the UK designing for stage and screen. After the war Margaret Harris returned to the UK, and both sisters once again joined Saint-Denis, teaching design at The Old Vic Theatre School (1947-1953). Elizabeth Montgomery stayed in the United States designing for many Broadway productions. All three continued to design under the name “Motley” for both stage and screen.
The Motley design team were closely associated with the work of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre especially 1948-59. Productions included: Troilus and Cressida (1948) in which Paul Scofield played Troilus, Antony and Cleopatra (1953) andAs You Like It (1957) both featuring Peggy Ashcroft, The Merry Wives of Windsor (1955) with Anthony Quayle, Hamlet(1958) with Michael Redgrave in the title role and King Lear (1959) with Charles Laughton.
In 1966, Margaret Harris founded Motley Theatre Design Course which continues today under the directorship of designer Alison Chitty (OBE)
ABOUT THE AWARDS:
The TDF/Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award, first presented to the legendary Miss Sharaff in 1993, is bestowed upon a costume designer who, over the course of his or her career, has achieved great distinction and demonstrated a mastery of the art. The award is presented to a designer whose work embodies those qualities of excellence represented in the life work of Irene Sharaff: a keen sense of color, a feeling for material and texture, an eye for shape and form, and a sure command of the craft. Such a designer’s achievement may stem from work for the theatre, opera, dance or film or, as was true of Irene Sharaff, from all of them together.
Previous winners of the TDF/Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award are: Desmond Heeley (1994), MiLes White(1996), Alvin Colt (1996), Patricia Zipprodt (1997), Jane Greenwood (1998), Willa Kim (1999), Ann Roth (2000),Freddy Wittop (2001), Theoni V. Aldredge (2002), Jose Varona (2003), Anthony Powell (2004), Florence Klotz(2005), Lester Polakov (2006), Bob Mackie (2007), Robert Fletcher (2008), William Ivey Long (2009), Albert Wolsky(2010), Lewis Brown (2011), Carrie Robbins (2012), David Toser (2013), Deborah M. Dryden (2014), Jess Goldstein(2015) and Susan Tsu (2016).
The Robert L. B. Tobin Award for Sustained Excellence in Theatrical Design not only honors the name of Robert Tobin, but also symbolizes his passion, respect and esteem for the art of theatrical design. The recipient of this award has achieved a career so distinguished in theatrical design that his or her work becomes an example to all designers of the beauty, feeling and empathy that a designer creates through true mastery of this art. The Robert L.B. Tobin Award for Lifetime Achievement in Theatrical Design was first presented in 2004 to acclaimed set and costume designer Tony Walton. The award has since been presented to Robert O’Hearn (2005), Franco Zeffirelli (2006), Santo Loquasto(2007), John Conklin (2008), Bob Crowley (2009), Ming Cho Lee (2010), Robin Wagner (2011), Lloyd Burlingame(2012), Desmond Heeley (2013), Marjorie Bradley Kellogg (2014), Douglas W. Schmidt (2015) and Michael Yeargan(2016).
The TDF/Kitty Leech Young Master Award (formerly known as the TDF/Irene Sharaff Young Master Award) is presented to a designer whose work, beyond being promising, has come to fruition. The award, honoring a designer of distinction early in his or her career, is given in recognition of Irene Sharaff’s wish to see young designers encouraged on their way to fully acknowledged success and excellence in the field. TDF Irene Sharaff Young Master Award has been bestowed upon: Gregg Barnes (1994), Toni-Leslie James (1996), Paul Tazewell (1997), Martin Pakledinaz (1998), Suzy Benzinger (1999), Robert Perdziola (2000), Constance Hoffman (2001), Gregory Gale and Jonathan Bixby (2002),Anita Yavich (2003), Mirena Rada (2004), David Zinn (2005), Emilio Sosa (2006), Murrel Horton (2007), Fabio Toblini(2008), Clint Ramos (2009), Alejo Vietti (2010), Olivera Gajic (2011), Mathew J. LeFebvre (2012), Daniel Lawson(2013), Linda Cho (2014), Brian Hemesath (2015) and Suttirat Larlarb (2016).
The TDF/Irene Sharaff Artisan Award recognizes an individual or company that has made an outstanding supportive contribution in the field of costume technology. Among those whom this award honors are assistant and associate costume designers, costume shops that take sketches and turn them into glorious and breathtaking realities, teachers who dedicate their lives to turning raw talent into professional accomplished designers, and authors who create the texts and trade publications without which a designer could not function.
TDF/Irene Sharaff Artisan Awards have been previously awarded to: Ray Diffen (1999), Woody Shelp (2000), Barbara Matera (2001), Paul Huntley (2002), Maria Brizzi/Grace Costumes (2003), Nino Novellino (2004), Vincent Zullo(2005), Martin Izquierdo (2006), Kermit Love (2007), Bessie Nelson (2008), Sally Ann Parsons (2009), John David Ridge (2010), Michael-Jon Costumes (2011), Lynn Pectal (2012), Lawrence Vrba (2013), Marjorie Krostyne (2014),Gino Bifulco – T.O. Dey Shoes (2015) and Liz Covey Rosemary Ingham (2016).
The TDF/Irene Sharaff Memorial Tribute was created to recognize, celebrate and remember those artists who have pioneered the art of costume design, setting the standard for years to come. TDF believes that in reliving and reviewing the body of work of these artists, a new generation of designers is able to learn and grow, standing on the shoulders of the giants who went before them.
TDF/Irene Sharaff Memorial Tribute Award to Raoul Pene DuBois (1999), Lucinda Ballard (2000), Aline Bernstein(2001), Cecil Beaton (2002), Ruth Morley (2003), Lemuel Ayers (2004), Oliver Messel (2005), Lila de Nobili (2006),Rouben Ter-Arutunian (2007),Tanya Moiseiwitsch (2008), Irene Sharaff (2009), Randy Barcelo (2010), Charles LeMaire (2011), William and Jean Eckart (2012), Martin Pakledinaz (2013), Sam Kirkpatrick (2014), Raoul Pene DuBois (2015) and Dorothy Jeakins (2016).
THE TDF COSTUME COLLECTION maintains an extensive inventory of more than 80,000 costumes and accessories for rental at discounted price by any not-for-profit theatre company, opera company, university, high school, religious group, etc. The Collection resides in a 16,000 square foot home at the Kaufman Astoria Studios. This past year, The Collection served organizations that produced over 1,000 productions in 31 states. It stocks all periods and accepts donations from productions, institutions and individuals. These donations are tax-deductible to the degree allowed by law.
THE TOBIN THEATRE ARTS FUND (formerly The Tobin Foundation for Theatre Arts) was founded by the late Robert L. B. Tobin, who was heir to one of the largest family fortunes in Texas. Robert Tobin admitted to being a frustrated theatre designer with a need to be creative. All through his academic years and early adulthood, he collected rare theatrical volumes, etchings, engravings and drawings. At the time of his 50th birthday in 1984, The Tobin Wing of the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas, was constructed specifically to provide a museum setting for the theatre arts. As such, the wing houses Robert Tobin’s extensive collection of over 20,000 original models, scenic and costume designs, as well as some 8,000 rare and illustrated books. This unprecedented collection of preliminary sketches, final renderings, maquettes, engravings and illustrated texts, provides a visual history of theatre art from the renaissance to the present. The Tobin Theatre Arts Fund has underwritten the publication of the book, Making the Scene: A History of Stage Design and Technology in Europe and the United States, co-authored by Dr. Oscar Brockett, Margaret Mitchell and Linda Hardberger. This work is a lively, beautifully illustrated history of theatrical stage design from ancient Greek times to the present.
THE TOBIN THEATRE ARTS FUND exists to stimulate public interest in the art of the theatre designer through a far-reaching program of exhibitions, lectures, expansion of the collection at the McNay and to provide broad-based access to this collection.
Theatre Development Fund (TDF), a not-for-profit service organization for the performing arts, was created in the conviction that the live theatrical arts afford a unique expression of the human condition that must be sustained and nurtured. It is dedicated to developing diverse audiences for live theatre and dance and strengthening the performing arts community in New York City. Since 1968, TDF’s programs have provided over 92 million people with access to performances at affordable prices and have returned over $2.7 billion to thousands of productions. Best known for its TKTS Discount Booths, TDF’s membership, outreach, access (including the Autism Theatre Initiative), and education programs-as well as its Costume Collection-have introduced thousands of people to the theatre and helped make the unique experience of theatre available to everyone, including students and people with disabilities. Recent TDF honors include a 2011 Mayor’s Award for Arts and Culture, a 2012 Tony Honor for Excellence for its Open Doors Arts Education Program, a 2012 New York Innovative Theatre Award for its support of the Off-Off Broadway community, a 2013 Lucille Lortel honor for “Outstanding Body of Work” in support of the Off Broadway community, a 2016 “Friend of Off Broadway” honor from The Off Broadway Alliance, and New York City’s 2016 TITLE II ADA Sapolin Public Service Award. For more information, go to tdf.org.
This year’s TDF/Irene Sharaff Awards Ceremony is being generously underwritten by The Tobin Theatre Arts Fund.
It all started with a small tip of intelligence.
A U.S. airman in Virginia spotted a piece of intel thousands of miles away. Ten days later, warplanes bombed 11 sites in the Middle East where American military officials say Islamic State militants manufactured deadly drones.
The operation — detailed for the first time by Air Force officials to Military.com — underscores a growing trend in modern warfare in which troops at their home bases are intimately involved in wars half a world away. It also highlights a new way of analyzing intelligence to find, track and kill enemies and their weapons, they say.
“Analysis is the foundation that’s going to drive everything,” Air Force Lt. Gen. VeraLinn “Dash” Jamieson, the service’s deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, said in an interview at the Pentagon on Thursday. “This [way of] thinking is not just top-down driven. It’s going to be enabled bottom up.”
Jamieson noted the airman — identified only as Senior Airman Jean, assigned to Distributed Ground System-1 at Langley Air Force Base — was able to maneuver her way through the data in large part because of her training in critical analysis and observation.
Jamieson, who assumed her post in November, said the intel career field and the service as a whole are shifting toward an analysis-based infrastructure that will enhance multiple missions across the force.
In this case, the airman’s instincts kicked in while working the Distributed Common Ground System, a globally networked system that can process intelligence from MQ-1 Predator, MQ-9 Reaper and RQ-4 Global Hawk drones, and U-2 Dragon Lady spy planes, among other aircraft, to visualize strikes and dissect the aftermath. The system also lets users monitor chats between pilots in any theater across the globe.
On any given day, the DGS teams observe more than 50 intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sorties and 1,200-plus hours of motion imagery; produce about 3,000 signals intelligence, or SIGINT, reports; exploit 1,250 still images; and manage 20 terabytes of data, according to a 2015 Air Force description of the system.
Jean — who was mission qualified trained, known as MQT in the intel community — had been certified in immediate data collection and involved in the planning team that reviews information over time to establish a pattern of life, Jamieson said. She found herself on a team that was overlooking a MQ-1 Predator mission and, by observing the intelligence, was tipped off to the “needle in the haystack” hit, Jamieson said.
Jamieson didn’t specify what the tip was but hinted it wasn’t a visual cue.
“It was a signal — not seeing,” she said. “So that’s why she was able to talk to the crew and her team and say, ‘Let’s put some eyes on this, so we can see what’s going on.’ “
Jamieson added, “We noticed it was not a signal we had identified often [before].”
Officials later disclosed to Military.com the intelligence was received on a mission observing ISIS militants during the offensives in both Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria. Non-visual signals may include, as examples, an audio signature, water signature or chemical signature.
“We worked with the [intelligence community] in the course of an hour or two, refined that down to a couple block locations inside an urban area. We were then able to talk to the Pred[ator] team, and said, ‘Hey, we think we have an anomaly, what do you think?’ They agreed,” Jamieson said.
She said they then looked for a visual cue.
“We put a Predator overtop and we used the [full-motion video] to see if there was any kind of pattern of life that we noticed. They did notice something: They noticed a vehicle, an individual get out of the vehicle … and took something, and put it in the back of the vehicle.”
Upon review, the teams perceived it to be a small drone.
There have been multiple examples of ISIS rigging small, off-the shelf drones and model airplanes as time bombs in both Iraq and Syria. In recent weeks, their tactics have escalated in areas such as western Mosul, where Iraqi forces have launched the latest offensive to diminish the ISIS stronghold.
ISIS began using small drones in 2014 to counter forces by gathering intel, as well as documenting suicide bombings to post on its radical websites to boost morale, according to The Washington Post. In October, a U.S. official confirmed another drone incident, but with deadly consequences — two Kurdish Peshmerga fighters were killed while trying to dismantle a model airplane that was shot down in northern Iraq, according to The New York Times.
“A top priority for me at the moment is this emerging danger that we’re seeing in the Middle East in respect to unmanned aerial systems — these cheap, buy-them-over-the-internet, small drones. And if explosives are placed on them, as we’ve seen a handful of times now in Syria and Iraq, they can do damage,” then-Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said after the October attack.
While the U.S. has deployed new technology to disable ISIS drones, including the DroneDefender, an assault rifle-style product that features a directed energy frequency jammer, Iraqi security forces have yet to get their hands on the weaponry.
The pilot and the sensor operator stayed on the vehicle where the drone was spotted, and began mapping its routine, Jamieson said.
The goal was to determine “is there a network going on?” Jamieson said. The next crew rotations for both the Predator and analysis teams were given permission to stay on the vehicle, as was the next day’s crew.
“They were able to stay on the target,” she said, “and they were working with the 363rd [ISR] Wing … an integrated DGS and targeting cell.”
The unit is the Air Force’s only wing focused on “content-dominant multi-intelligence analysis and targeting for five distinct mission sets: air defenses, counter-space, counter-ISR, theater ballistic missile and cruise missile threat, and air threat,” according to the service.
The target and analysis cell portion re-examined the data to develop the target in coordination with teams already on hand tracking and disseminating details on the ISIS network.
It had been just 10 days from Jean’s find to strike approval coordinated through the Joint Task Force, Jamieson said.
“On the 11th day, they went in on the strike,” she said, and Langley stayed on the mission for processing, exploitation and dissemination, as well as battle damage assessment of the operation.
“They had the pattern of life knowledge,” she said.
As a result, more than 10 facilities with pieces or parts of small drones controlled by ISIS were destroyed because “of one senior airman identifying a signal, and taking it through fruition because she said, ‘The analysis I knew would prove out,’ ” Jamieson said of the conversation she had with the airman.
The service has since identified new tactics, techniques and procedures to improve analysis at the beginning of an intel mission. Officials didn’t say if they have taken out similar targets given Jean’s find, but are hopeful airmen will echo her aptitude.
Airmen know analysis, “they always have,” Jamieson said. “But now they know that is a priority from the top and [we] are encouraging more to do that.
“We need to have sound analysis to actually go through our mission because it’s all about the airman. Yes, the platforms enable a lot of things, but it’s, ‘How are the airmen going to be able to critically think and employ tactics as they use these platforms?’ ” Jamieson said.
— Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.
LIMA — Lima police patrolman Tom Nelson stationed himself in an alley behind the Brass Rail bar at 26 Public Square on May 17, 1959, while his partner, Patrolman John Wetzel, went inside to investigate a complaint about an armed man.
The armed man, James Monford Lee, got the jump on Wetzel, holding the patrolman at gunpoint until he could work his way to the rear door of the bar and then into the alley — where Nelson was waiting.
Nelson, The Lima News reported, “saw Lee fleeing from the door and managed to take a .45-caliber automatic from Lee during a fight which sent Lee to the hospital for eight days.”
Nelson, one of the few African-Americans on Lima’s police force at the time, patrolled Lima’s downtown, at first on foot and later in a patrol car, during the 1950s. The tedium of the job was occasionally punctuated with violence, such as the incident at the Brass Rail, which made interesting copy for the inside columns of the newspaper. Nevertheless, Nelson stuck with it, serving on Lima’s police force for more than 34 years and rising from rank of patrolman to lieutenant.
Thomas Kenneth Nelson was born Nov. 18, 1924, in Lima to Tom and Bessie Bonita Buchanan Nelson. He attended Whittier Elementary School and South High School, from which he was graduated in 1943. In high school, he was a member of the track team and participated in amateur boxing matches, a piece of information Lee could have used when deciding to flee the Brass Rail.
Nelson also was active at Bradfield Community Center, serving on the center’s student council and participating in various youth clubs. A March 10, 1940, photo shows Nelson among a group of “earnest aviation enthusiasts” building model airplanes. An accompanying story noted that Nelson and the other boys were members of the Facion club at the center, which “is particularly designed to meet the needs of the 1,800 Negroes in Lima, but is open to anyone interested in participating.” Nelson remained active with Bradfield throughout his life.
Immediately after graduation from South in 1943, Nelson entered the military. On Sept. 1, 1943, the News reported that Nelson, “the eager young aviation enthusiast,” was among four Lima men transferred to Keesler Field in Biloxi, Mississippi, for training with the Army Air Forces. Nelson, who was trained as a diesel mechanic, was stationed at Okinawa, Saipan and in the South Pacific.
He emerged from the military in March 1946 as a staff sergeant and enrolled at Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Kentucky. On Aug. 13, 1950, in a column titled “News in Lima Colored Circles,” the News reported Nelson’s June graduation from Kentucky State. “Thomas Nelson got a bachelor of science degree with a major in mathematics. He also received a teaching certificate.”
June 1950 was a big month for Nelson. On June 14, 1950, he married Ora Ethel Stockton at a ceremony in Glasgow, Kentucky. The young couple returned to Lima where Nelson found a job at the Lima Army Tank Plant.
In 1952, Nelson took the Civil Service examination. “Five of the 14 men who took the Civil Service examination for Lima police officer passed the test and physical examination, the board announced Saturday,” the News reported April 20, 1952. “Top man with a grade of 102 percent was Thomas K. Nelson, 1703 S. Main St. Nelson as well as three others received extra credit for military service.”
Nelson’s early years on the police force were eventful. He was suspended briefly in September 1952 after scuffling with two fellow officers over the handling of an early morning disturbance at a downtown gas station.
In December 1955, Nelson and Patrolman William S. Sowers found a car that had been used in an earlier grocery store burglary behind one of the suspect’s homes. “The 1950 model sedan was locked and apparently empty,” the News wrote Dec. 7, 1955, “but when the officers flashed their lights inside they saw the suspects huddled on the floor.”
When the suspects ignored orders to unlock the car and attempted to drive away, “Sowers and Nelson opened fire,” the newspaper reported. “Five bullets punctured the radiator and motor of the car and others slammed through the body. The four suspects leaped from the car and fled on foot as the officers emptied their pistols after them.” They were later apprehended.
Two months later, in February 1956, an alert Nelson, who was checking on cars in the northeast quadrant of the Public Square, noticed a license plate had been altered. Three men were arrested and their car searched. “A complete outfit of safe-cracking tools — drills, punches and other instruments — was found in the trunk of their car when it was searched, according to police,” the News noted in a Feb. 7, 1956, story.
“During later years he rode a cruiser patrolling various sections of the city,” the News wrote in February 2014. “Having been born and raised in South Lima, he was well respected by the residents there. He patrolled that area a number of years with his longtime ‘cruiser’ buddy Louis Hamilton. During the ‘60s when the mood of the country was not favorable toward police officers, he maintained the respect of the black population and played a significant role in keeping the peace.”
In August 1966, Nelson was promoted to sergeant and in July 1973 to lieutenant. Of the five black officers on the Lima Police Department’s 94-man force in June 1972, three held supervisory rank, including Nelson. He retired Jan. 1, 1986.
Nelson died Feb. 25, 2014. He was survived by his wife and a son, Kerry.
By Greg Hoersten
For The Lima News
This feature is a cooperative effort between the newspaper and the Allen County Museum and Historical Society.
Reach Greg Hoersten at [email protected]
Reach Greg Hoersten at [email protected]