Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Turks, Indians, Spaniards, and a Flight around the World

Not much painting these past several weeks as I've been completing my presentation for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History streaming "History Is Lunch" program.  The department has been doing these programs for about ten years or so.  I finally let the program manager talk me into preparing one.

Here's the introduction he prepared:

Jim Pitts will present “Turks, Indians, Spaniards, and a Flight around the World: The Lives and Military Careers of Four Mississippians.”


In the course of his work with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Pitts became intrigued by the distinguished military service of Captain Henry Metcalfe, Major James Watson, Lieutenant Reuben Turman, and Lieutenant Henry Ogden. Between them they had been awarded three Silver Stars for heroic actions in the Spanish American War, one Distinguished Service Medal for a 1924 “Around the World Flight,” and the Turkish Order of Osmani for service to the Turkish Army by a foreign national.

“Their stories are as diverse as the four soldiers,” said Pitts. “Two were graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, one had attended West Point and later received his commission through a competitive examination, and the fourth was directly commissioned as a result of his service.”

The impacts they made on the U.S. Army were also varied. “Two were awarded their medals posthumously, one of them from wounds received in battle,” said Pitts. “They were inventors and innovators—one is remembered as an expert in cost accounting, one was an aviation pioneer, another is memorialized with a sea coast defense battery.”

Jackson native Jim Pitts earned his BA in history from Mississippi State University. He was commissioned as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army and served for twenty years. After retiring as a major, Pitts worked with MDAH for twenty-two years, first as a librarian and then as government records archivist.

I presented the program at noon, CDT, on Wednesday, July 29.  I thought it went rather well.  At least I didn't embarrass myself too much.  ­čśë

It has been uploaded on the Department's YouTube channel and you can watch it if you desire.  I hope that you enjoy it and, as I say in the conclusion, learn a little about these four less well known Mississippians.

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