(c)2013 NPT PHOTO BY DAVID POPIEL Children don't seem to be worried about work and travel when snow arrives. Thursday afternoon Bart Kyker walked along Armory Road with his son, Braxton. Gary Kyker and son, Bart, had already closed Kyker Automotive before the storm. Braxton will be five on February 27. He and I will be carefully watching Mr. Groundhog February 2 for clues as to future winter storms.
Friday, January 18, 2013
(Last modified: 2013-01-18 19:27:16)
Author: David Popiel
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

By last Wednesday afternoon the rain had slowed and the Pigeon River racing through our hometown began to retreat and level drop so that most of us remained dry, though we had to get the mop and vacuum out at the Plain Talk.

Yet things got progressively worse as those of you know who were on the highways Thursday afternoon when the mini-blizzard hit. The Plain Talk carriers were managing to get the paper delivered but our district manager Elaine Becker got her car stuck off Good Hope Road. Circulation Manager Pat Helms and I drove out to get her. There were a few vehicles off the road, on top of fence lines, in ditches. Later at Mobile Pit Stop Sheriff Armando Fontes, chatting with James Holt, was fueling up and said there had been an accident on Armory Road. Perhaps you got behind a line of icy slow cars, yet by night the county and state workers had cleared most of the roads. Newport Utilities and Wolf Tree trimmers worked into the early morning hours to get power restored in areas such as Bogard and Cosby and deserve our thanks.

We had a lot of water running into the floor at the Plain Talk because much of the 1920s era brick wall is below ground level. I've seen many a flooded floor over the decades but this was one of the worst. We got the newspaper out Thursday and this weekend one too. Wasn't it strange to be driving to work Friday morning dealing with 20-degree weather, sheets of ice, and then fog by 9 a.m.?

This cooler weather reminded me of a story I began to gather with photos of the running Sheltons. Last Wednesday I had a chance to talk at length with our former employee Lydia Shelton and her husband, better known as "Yogi." You will read about their adventures here soon. I also found out about Sharon Lee Hoyt, who is in the Union Cemetery mausoleum and will share this sad story with you.



Lt. John Bockmann's story


You recall that we met Lt. Bockmann at the Newport Kiwanis Club where he presented a program on his mercy helicopter flying in Pakistan. John had an early interest in aircraft, visiting air shows at Barksdale Air Force Base. He also got to fly in a Beechcraft Bonanza as a boy, saw Tom Cruise in "Top Gun" to inspire him. I wondered why he did not get into the Air Force Academy and it is because of slight nearsightedness. He and I love literature and he did as many do and got an education, then taught school in California. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University helped him get his commercial flying license. He enlisted in the Army as a Black Hawk helicopter mechanic, served as a crew chief, and was selected for flight school as a warrant officer. Can you imagine that he was considered old in his 20s for the Air Force flight program and that's why he chose the Army road. It was at Embry-Riddle in Prescott, Arizona, that he met the former Katherine Kisabeth. They were next-door neighbors. He connected to her through Facebook. Earlier she had been living with Dr. Robert and Brenda (Bailey) in Valencia, Calif. While John was in an Alabama flight school, Katherine took an internship in an Atlanta law firm so they only got to see each other on weekends.


Helicopters deliver aid and life


The determination paid off as he became a UH-60 pilot sent to Northern Pakistan in Aug. 2010, not for combat but to provide relief aid as he described to us at the Kiwanis Club. US Army helicopters and aircraft ferried relief supplies after the flood that damaged 7,000 schools, 400 health care facilities, and damaging 5,000 miles of roads. The damage had been estimated at $7 billion.

"The very young and the very old" are affected by events such as these and the war in Afghanistan. Lt. Bockmann also said the Pakistan people are emotional-"huggers"-religious, poor, family-oriented, and speak multi-languages because of the proximity to so many countries.

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