Sunday, December 17, 2023

Merry Christmas 2023 and Always


This painting arrived as a Christmas card a few days ago. It is the most beautiful depiction of love and adoration of Jesus by heavenly angels and his Mother Mary I've seen. 

Linger here for a few minutes this season in contemplation please. What is important? What are your thoughts and feelings about it including your relationship and engagement now and in the future with Jesus?

You are invited to post your thoughts in Comments.

Merry Christmas Everyone!


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Friday, November 10, 2023



"Padre, we just lost my Chronicler's Father, an American ally from World War II. I want you to assist Miss Céline Evangeline Desmond, Correspondent for The Exploration Times, San Francisco, USA with his photo story."

"Of course General Pettygree."

"My dear readers, Bill's father passed away October 29, 2023 a few months short of his 99th birthday. Whilst Bill and wife Dorothy were creating memory boards, his father's WWII photos were recovered. I think these and his story will interest you. Miss Desmond will take over from here with Padre Reynolds to tell the story. Meanwhile, I'm going to dinner with Bill and Dorothy at The Fox and Hounds. Won't the patrons be surprised when we arrive in the halftrack behind me --- much like the one Bill's father rode in?"


William B. Protz, age 18.
On 2 March 1943 Bill was inducted out of college into the US Army postponing engineering studies at The University of Florida. He reported to Camp Blanding, Florida seven days later for basic training. That's Bill on the right. 

Later he joined the 106th Infantry Division and was promoted to Corporal. The shoulder emblem is the division's Golden Lion patch. However, Bill wanted to be an airman. Training soon commenced, but the Army Air Corps had too many eager pilot trainees. So he was transferred out into a Repo Depot from which soldiers would be taken to join units needing soldiers to replace those lost in combat.

Departure for the ETO (European Theatre of Operations) happened on 28 June 1944. He arrived in England on 5 July 1944 still unassigned to a combat unit. It is unknown when Bill landed in France. However....

The photo of this German artillery bunker is presumably in the Omaha Beach American Landing Zone Sector. It is Summer or Autumn, 1944. However, it could be in the Siegfried Line. Note the gun barrel aperture on the far right. 

   DECEMBER 1944

On 10 December 1944 Bill was in Givet, France near Belgium. While in a medical facility for a minor burn, he observed The Golden Lions drive by heading east. Although he did not know at the time, the division would take up front-line defensive positions near St. Vith, Belgium, a quiet sector given to this green unit to gain combat experience.  

On 16 December The Battle of The Bulge commenced. The German LXVI Corps of the Fifth Panzer Army struck and surrounded two regiments of the 106th on The Elsenborn Ridge. 6.000 men surrendered or were lost on the 19th becoming POWs. Later they were sent to work in mines in Silesia.

On 25 December the deepest penetration for the German offensive came within 6-7 miles of Givet where the 2nd Panzer Division was stopped. We do not know if Bill was still there.

Motto: Discover, Then Destroy

We do not know when Bill was eventually assigned to the 776th Tank Destroyer Battalion's Reconnaissance Company.

 After ten months of service he was promoted to "Buck" Sergeant.

According to an official Army Separation Qualification Record, he, "Received all radio messages for reconnaissance cars and observation posts and consolidated them and forwarded them to higher headquarters." 

Presumably the following five photos were taken close to the end of the war in 1945. By then the 776th had passed into Austria. Bill never fired a shot nor was fired upon. He tells a story of celebrating the war's end with Soviet Russian soldiers where there was lively drinking and dancing.

He apparently rode in this halftrack.

A disabled American Sherman Tank.


No danger here apparently. Bill is seated second from the right.

"Continental Service: 1 Year, 2 Months and 26 days."
"Foreign Service: 1 Year, 7 Months and 4 Days."
"Served in Central Europe, Rhineland [and Austria]."
"Honorable Discharge: 7 February 1946."

The official 776th website is below. Check it out and find Bill's name.


On 22 January 1946  Sergeant Protz embarked for the USA arriving on 1 February 1946. He was separated from the Army on 7 February at Fort Dix, New Jersey. 

Back at The University of Florida again, he met his future wife Shirley. They were married for 61 years. She passed away in 2008.


14 January 1925 to 29 October, 2023.

"On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States Army, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one's honorable and faithful service."

General Pettygree and his Adventure Chronicler Bill P., are also sincerely grateful for your readership over the years and for your interest in the military history about the latter's father. Chaplain Reynolds follows with remarks of an extraordinary nature next.

Céline Evangeline Desmond


Our late comrade's favorite expression was, "Time and Circumstance."

By this he originally meant the mysterious passage of time mixing with events resulting in significant outcomes. Later he recognized the involved hand of God in this repeating pattern.

One of the most significant examples of this happened during WWII when he was transferred out of the 106th Infantry Division to attend flight school. However, due to an overabundance of pilots, he was later sent to a Replacement Pool. After disembarking in France, he was ordered east to Givet. While there on December 10th he watched his first outfit, the 106th, drive by on its way to take up front line positions in quiet Belgium.

Now for the guiding hand of God keeping Bill's dad --- out of harms way seven times.

1. WWII US Aircrews had less than a 50% chance of survival. Losses: 78,017. One-third of these were from accidents.

2. The 106th was surrounded by the Germans in The Battle of The Bulge. 6,000 died or surrendered on 19 December. POWs went to labor camps in Germany.

3. Sergeant Protz was later posted to the 776th Tank Destroyer Battalion serving in The Rhineland and Austria. He never fired a shot or was shot at arriving safely back home in February 1946.

Home was New York City. He was born on January 14, 1925 to Mary and Joseph Protz who had emigrated from The Ukraine in 1912 and 1914, preserving them from an imminent WWI. His parents learned English and they lived in apartments in The Burrow of Manhattan. The family has a photo of Bill and brother Dan showing them smiling in ethnic garments before doing one of those jumping, squat kicking and whirling dances unique to their Old World culture. In the 1930s the family spent summers in Connecticut enjoying farm life. Grampa Joe at some point became an entrepreneur operating a Pool Hall where both sons helped. Bill learned to be a very good pool player and was introduced to the business world.

After the war he earned a mechanical engineering degree at the University of Florida. There he met his future wife Shirley. They married in 1947.

More of those “Time and Circumstance” events started happening again.

4. Money was sparse for the newly married couple. One night Bill had a dream advising him to place a bet on a certain dog at the race track. He did and won.

5. Dad took his new family back to New York beginning work as a Continental Can Company management trainee. After a meeting with upper management, he was asked to drive the top boss to the airport. On the way they talked about WWII, family life and aspirations. As a result, Bill was placed on a fast track. During his time with the company, he was promoted to run several can plants (at one time three) in Wisconsin and out West. What if he had never driven that boss to the airport?

6. Speaking of airports, in the late 1950s, Bill was supposed to accompany a management team from New York for a meeting in Milwaukee. Something bothered him about the flight. He did not board. All company people were lost in a crash. We now know this was again the hand of God.

7. During a western vacation, the family drove in the Rocky Mountains for hours on a winding road with shear cliffs sometimes off to the sides below. It started to snow. After exiting a two-lane tunnel, driving through under a foot of newly fallen snow the family never saw another car. At the next stop, someone exasperatingly asked, “Didn't you know the road was closed due to weather?” ---“No.” --- We now know someone was looking out for them. Bill agreed.

At times the company asked that he attend betterment courses. One was the Dale Carnegie Program. Two principles have remained in the family for decades.

The first is: “Act enthusiastic and you will be enthusiastic.”

Another gem: “In order to make a friend you must first be one.”

Two long-standing family traditions were important.

From the late 1950s to now the family has gone to The Fox and Hounds Restaurant for important events.

From the early 1960s to now there has almost always been a Dalmatian in the family.

Bill lived on his own until cancer made it tough to continue living alone. Last December he moved into an Assisted Living Facility where he met new people, had new experiences and recently increasing care.

Bill Jr. and Bill Sr. could talk calmly about almost anything such as current events. A few years ago he asked to go through The Gospel of John, Bill Jr's favorite Bible book because of The Eucharist. In recent months bedtime prayer was added. Senior would start with Holy Water and The Our Father followed by the St. Michael Prayer, The Memorare and Hail Mary. Then, What are you thankful for today?

Heavenly Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Blessed Mother, Saint Michael and His Guardian Angel, we sincerely thank you for Bill Sr's 98 years of blessed and protected time and circumstances. Your guiding hand is absolutely evident.

Excerpts taken from Bill, Jr.'s 11/07/2023 Eulogy by Chaplain Reynolds


Thursday, March 30, 2023



Readers are most likely familiar with prodigious WWII naval bombardments and the destruction intended ashore. Numerous Pacific Theatre battles may come to mind as the Allies recovered lost islands and territories into August 1945.

However, D-Day's thunderous salvoes sent into Normandy on June 6, 1944 may come more easily to mind. I recently watched The Longest Day again thinking about terrible destruction, death, shock and deafness intended for coastal defenders. It consumed every fiber of their being. How could it not?

It got me to thinking about the minute by minute bombardment consuming us daily. What is it doing to us? Why do we allow it --- such as?

Overdoing texting, emailing, social media, screen time at and off of work, video games, addictions, pursuit of experiences, television, workaholic and/or newsaholic behaviors, too busy for interaction with family and friends, the disappearance of quiet time and more. How about allowing cell phones to disturb family chow time, sleep or precious unrecoverable time with our children/grandchildren? 

My Marketing Director, Michael,  tells a story about an ice skating practice. He sat in the stands watching his child skate. His cell phone was intentionally someplace else so he could be in the moment with his offspring. However,  a nearby mom was immersed constantly on a cell phone. Her daughter then had an issue with a skate. The mom did not hear multiple pleas for mom's help because screen time was more important. Michael soon got the mom's attention.

One more thing as Easter nears. The most important negative dynamic is....

There is insufficient silence for us to hear the voice of Jesus in many different ways. 

"And get to know me."

"Come and follow me."

It's Time To Go Home.

Every Blessing and Happy Easter Everyone!

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It’s Time To Come Home Whether You

·         Retired from the Catholic or your Faith tradition (Understandable)

·         Have remained home since Covid (You aren’t alone)

·         Want to learn about Catholicism (Founded 2,000 years ago in the year 33)

·         Hear an almost silent voice inviting you (Saying come)

·         Aren’t sure, distrustful, hurt, don't believe or too busy (Come anyway)

·         Think Catholicism is unbiblical (It is scripturally biblical)

Don’t think you are welcome (You Are Welcome!)  

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Monday, March 20, 2023

12:40 "Special" Train to Vilyamgrad. A General Pettygree Russian Civil War Battle Story

Date: Summer 1918 +/- (Maybe? It Doesn't Matter)
Location: At the Imagineered Port of Vilyamgrad,
North of Vladivostok, on the Sea of Japan, Siberia

Why?: Royalist Army Arrives to Restore the Monarchy

Miniatures: We Use What We Have
Rules: A Gentleman's War (AGW) by Howard Whitehouse
See the Back Story and Rules Remarks first. Link:

And Now General Pettygree Continues His Story

Our whimsical players at game finish left to right:
Dave G., Chuck The Lucky, Aviator Kurt D. and Bill P.
In the spirit of AGW, players wore fun headgear.

Two items on our food table were Russian themed exports. Dave G. ordered the soft drink online while I found a local grocery store specializing in Russian and Ukrainian products none of which I've seen in routine USA grocery stores. 

The soft drink is labeled #1 in Russia. Among ingredients are rye flour, rye and barley malt offering a unique flavor. We were unable to match it to any USA soft drink. 

The colorful box contained a flavorful and not too sugary apple and cinnamon honey cake imported from Tula. Tula is 123 miles south-south-east of Moscow -- just so you know! 

The honey cake reminded me about a bakery experience decades ago in Paris. Pastry there was not overly sugary as is routine in the USA. Maybe that's the way things are outside my country. This is not a bad thing --- just different. I'll buy the honey cake again for a next Russian-themed game.

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The 12:40 "Special" to Vilyamgrad

"Czarina Princess Hussars! Our benefactor is aboard this train. Prepare to salute on my command."

"Da (Yes), Colonel Zakharova," shouted Trooper Pavlova but no one heard her. She was drowned out by the locomotive whistle announcing arrival of "The Special" at Vilyamgrad.

"In my backstory link above you will read that Grandmaison and I did not know the identity of the member of the Romanov Family arriving by train here. In our alternate history, that Royalist will soon commence a military operation to restore the monarchy. We now know who it is. Let's look closer, shall we." 

"Can you identify the well-dressed nobles as they converse with various people?"

"I do not observe Red Communist forces as far as the distant ridge line. It appears safe to disembark," offered Major Bulgarin.

"Very well, then."

"Did the gold bullion arrive safely Banker Volkov?" 

"Yes indeed and without trouble. Most is within the baggage coach on the siding, Sir."


"The prescribed amount was distributed two days ago to our allies for services to be rendered in the campaign. The rest is available to the paymaster for our soldiers here and for those friendly forces who flock back to the colors as you return west," said Volkov.

Then Volkov shouted, "Stand back! A ruffian is dangerously close staring at you. Major Bulgarin take him away!"

"No. He is a welcome and loyal familiar. Thank you Mr. Volkov. That is all for now, if you please, said Madame."

"Kroshechny (Tiny), there you are. You look as healthy and strong as ever in spite of recent intemperate and very troublesome events. How are you, my dear?"

"Da (Yes) Madame, I am here. I was anxious when we were accidentally separated in the surprise rescue by White Forces and rapid escape from Ekaterinburg."

"We are delighted you arrived here safely," said Madame. "What do you have there?"

"Two chests containing gold from the baggage coach to show you. The one half full paid the Japanese foreigners the other day."

"That is good Tiny. I too am delighted to see you again. Please return the gold to the coach for safekeeping," said Czar Nicholas II.

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Council of War

Potsgorski House

The only Russian-speaking Japanese officer, Lieutenant Colonel Itogora pointing at the Czar asked, "How far do you expect my men to escort your White Russian Force into the vast wilderness of Siberia?"

"No more than one hundred miles along the Trans Siberian Rail Line, was the agreement," said Major Bulgarin. "In exchange for that, we have agreed to hand over several valuable islands in The Sea of Japan to your Emperor as you are well aware."

Itogora changed to a new topic....

Pointing at Colonel Zakharova, Itogora demanded, "Do you know where the Reds are now?"

The exasperated Japanese officer continued, "They could be nearing this location in close pursuit of the escaped Romanovs this hour. Has your screen of skirts seen them?"

"Your Majesty," answered Zakharova, my Hussars, nor our mounted infantry nor the Japanese cavalry have seen any of the Red menace to the west since our arrival."

"Very well then," said the Czar. "The plan continues without alteration and...."

"Major Bulgarin, please review the order of march for us, will you?," requested the Czar.  

"Our mounted infantry are west of the village. They have seen nothing threatening," said Bulgarin.

"Continuing he said, "The Rolls Royce armoured car and Zakharova's Hussars are just outside en-route to the road that parallels the rail line. They lead the way west."

"Close behind are two platoons of White Russian infantry," said Bulgarin.

"Japanese horsemen are also upon their march west to the north of the tracks," added Bulgarin, and...."

Soon platoons of my Imperial Japanese Special Naval Landing Force will follow them," stated Itagora." Photo courtesy of Dave G.

"With supply vehicles following behind."

Aerial view of the march moving west.
DG Photo.

The Reds Arrive

DG Photo.

"My....," but no exclamation finished the sentence. "There they are rapidly materializing out of the forest on the ridge," said Captain Sidorov. "Feodore, mount up and tell headquarters the confounded Reds have arrived, we are falling back and bring me new orders fast. Off you go!"

"Troop! Ready about. By half section to the left, canter to the rear."

"Your Majesty! A rider has just come in from the picquet line. We had no idea but the Reds are arriving on the ridge to the west and our picquet line is falling back. We must stop our march and immediately deploy for battle," offered Bulgarin.

"What do you specifically propose, Major?," asked the Czar.

"There is no time for anything except to form our own infantry on the left and the Japanese on the right just outside the village."

"Major, make haste."

The procession left the road heading west to deploy on a slight rise outside the village.

As Sidorov's retreating mounted infantry arrived and faced about on the battle line.

"Comrades! Open fire on the White horsemen."

Which forced them farther back dismounting into cover.

Other infantry took cover as well.

With Zakhorova's Hussars forming a reserve to the rear.

Japanese Special Naval Landing Force infantry with a 37mm anti-tank gun anchor the north end of the battle line. DG Photo.

As Japanese and Russian cavalry screen forward with a Rolls Royce Armoured Car. 
DG Photo.

The Reds move forward preceded by their own armoured car hit several times by.... 
DG Photo.

The Japanese anti-tank gun.
DG Photo
And destroyed.
DG Photo

Emboldened by the arrival of the Czar's train gun, the Japanese advanced and stopped the Reds opposite them. DG Photo

"General, at this time White Forces were mostly defending hard cover. There was no chance to dislodge them."

"Right you are Grandmaison. And so the Reds withdrew back onto and beyond the ridge from which they came. Still the Czar has much to ponder. Will the Reds be reinforced? Will the Czar be forced to hold out in the port? Will any potential friendly Whites even be able to reach his lines?"

"I would not like to be in the Czar's circumstances, General."

"Nor would I. Time will ofcourse tell the rest of the story."

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