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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Colonel Robert G. Emmens

Col. Robert G. Emmens 2013
Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum

I was cleaning out my email today when I discovered a message that Posthip Scott sent me a year ago. It's a photocopy of an article about Mr. Emmens. The copy was of rather poor quality, I could read it if I put my mind to it, but it is not something I want to inflict on either of my followers. I uploaded it to Google Drive if you want to give it a try.


My first thought was to run it through an OCR program and see if it would generate something I could work with. I tried an online OCR service and I also tried Google Docs. The online service did better than Google. The online service recognized that the text was laid out in columns and if you selected DOCX format for the output, it did a creditable job of copying the layout. If you select text output, you get the same result as you get from Google, which is that it's all run together. The first line of the second column is appended to the first line of the first column, which means it's a lot of work to take it apart and reconstitute it as plain text. The DOCX format was superior, but it still wasn't all that great. I worked through half a dozen paragraphs before I decided to see if maybe somebody else had already done this. 

Other Resources

I found several mentions, but they all pointed back to Wikipedia, which has a pretty good article about him. Then I remembered YouTube. I found several videos about the Dolittle Raid, and this one (above) about Colonel Emmens.

30 Seconds Over Tokyo

I remember reading 30 Seconds over Tokyo, a story about the raid, when I was a lad. It was a great story. It's about one crew and their airplane that went on that raid. They crash landed in China like most of the other bombers and the author lost his leg. I don't remember how the story of how he lost his leg was related in the book, but I remember my father telling me about a guy who had dug a hole and burned his gangrenous leg off in the hole. I don't know how that worked, I'm just trying to include all the relevant words I remember.


Dolittle Raid. Launch point in red.
Vladisotok, Russia, upper left. Chuchow, China, lower left.

I got the destination of Chuchow from one of the YouTube videos. I wondered why they didn't go north, because China is right across the border from Vladivostok and Vladivostok is a heck of lot closer than Chuchow and then I remembered that all that area was probably occupied by the Japanese. Likewise the coastal areas of China around Shanghai were probably under Japanese control. So, Chuchow is farther but hopefully you won't get a hostile reception.

Back to Colonel Emmens

I suspect the reason Posthip sent me this article is because Colonel Emmens is from Medford, Oregon. Medford is what passes for a big town in southern Oregon. It is not far from the border with California. Colonel Emmens returned to Medford when he retired from the Air Force. He took up piano and became a real estate broker.

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