THE RITCHIE FAMILY–MILITARY SERVICE AND AVIATION

Bill RitchieBy  David Ritchie, Guest Blogger

Howdy y’all. Cousin Brad has asked me to write for his blog about my family’s involvement in our military and aviation.  My name is Dave Ritchie, some of you know me, but most do not.  My mother is Betty Snyder Ritchie; she married my father Bill Ritchie when dad was a naval aviation cadet in 1945.

My dad developed his love of aviation at an early age; my best recollection is 16 years old. His dad bought him his first ride with a barnstormer and after that he saved his pennies for a few rides and lessons.  Sometime after Pearl Harbor, my dad like many other young men, enlisted in our military.  He chose to pursue aviation rather than ground pounding.  Dad was just two weeks away from getting his wings of gold when Japan surrendered.  He told me that when that happened he was told we do not need you any more, go home.

When dad’s construction business grew to the extent he was performing work in Colorado, Texas, and Kansas he found a way to bring aviation into his business, he bought a small plane. This allowed him to go visit remote jobsites and be home for supper the same day.  Several of my Snyder uncles flew with my dad in the Colorado Rockies, specifically Don, Dave, Bob, and Arden

Military service and aviation skipped my generation of Ritchies. I was living in married student housing during Viet Nam.  When they drew numbers for the draft lottery I got 275, which was in the upper 1/3 and not likely to be drafted.  My brother Fred was also not drafted and my sister and youngest in the family Tim were both too young at that time.  In addition, none of my dad’s kids shared his love of or aptitude for aviation.

That brings me to my three sons. They all served in the Navy and all were or are involved in aviation.

George RitchieMy oldest son George enlisted in the navy right out of high school. He served 5 years on the USS Nimitz as an AG (weatherman).  His service on that ship included the first Gulf War.  I had a very patriotic experience on that ship.  When the ship was returning to its homeport of Bremerton, WA, after deployment to the Gulf War, I was able to join the ship in Hawaii for a Tiger Cruise to the homeport.  On the last day of the trip we entered the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  As we got closer to Puget Sound many people were standing on the shore waving our flag, cheering and waving at the ship.  That is an experience I will never forget.

After his discharge from the navy George worked as a real cowboy and operator of a concrete pump truck. During that period of his life he earned his private pilot license.  That got him started in aviation but he did not earn enough money to support his aviation habit.  He decided to enter Embry Riddle University where he earned his degree in Aerospace Engineering.  Upon graduation he worked for NAVAIR, mostly on unmanned aircraft.  He then moved to Spirit Air, a subcontractor to Boeing where he led a group of Russian engineers on the nose cone section of the 787.  He currently works for Airbus as a signatory engineer on fuselage repairs.

Peter RitchieMy middle son Peter had a strong desire to turn wrenches. He enlisted in the Navy right out of high school.  His navy job was AT (aviation technician).  He was assigned to an F18 squadron in Lemore, CA.  He did one deployment to the Western Pacific on the USS Kitty Hawk.  I was able to join him on a Tiger Cruise to the homeport of San Diego, CA.  Our entry into San Diego harbor was memorable, but not in the same manner as the one mentioned previously.  While entering the harbor, many small boats came along side.  Those boats were filled with young women employed at local gentlemen’s clubs.  I will leave the rest up to your imagination.  Unfortunately, a drunk driver a few months later, mother’s day, 1995, killed Peter.  That is the saddest day of my life.Phillip Ritchie

My youngest son Phillip is highly involved in military aviation as well as commercial aviation today. He did not start his military career as early in life as his brothers.  He attended Texas Tech University, earning a degree in Chemical Engineering.  Upon graduation he went to work for Phillips 66.  The high point of his time at that company was a one year tour on Alaska’s north slope where he helped start up a new unit.  The remainder of his time with Phillips 66 involved crunching numbers in a cubicle, not fun.  He had always wanted to be a pilot, but was limited in that endeavor due to the fact that he had to wear glasses to drive.  He kept trying to figure out how he could get into the military and fly.  He finally discovered that the navy would accept PRK surgery, if successful, and allow him to enter naval aviation.  He had to pay for that surgery out of his own pocket and did so.  He then entered the navy via OCS and earned his wings of gold at NAS Corpus Christi, TX.  He was assigned to VP1, Oak Harbor, WA, as a P-3 Orion pilot.  He did 2 deployments with that squadron to Okinawa.  On one of those deployments he few a mission under orders from president Bush (43) to prosecute a Chinese submarine that was harassing one of our aircraft carriers.  That mission lasted nearly 24 hours and is very unusual in peacetime.  During his time with VP1 he went on several DETS to the Middle East.  There he flew the P-3 on surveillance missions mostly at night.  During the night missions it was easy to see many types of munitions being fired at them.

Phil left the P-3 community to become a multi-engine advanced instructor pilot with VT31, back in Corpus Christi. He has been with that squadron for about 9 years and accumulated over 4,000 hours in the T44.  It is so much fun to listen to his stories about instructing.  According to him the students are trying to crash the plane and it is his job to not let them do that.  During his tenure at VT31 he volunteered to do an IA to Iraq.  During that IA he trained Iraqi pilots to fly multi engine aircraft on surveillance missions.  About 3 years ago Phil resigned from the navy and moved to the navy reserve.  He did this to become a first officer for Southwest Airline.  During the last 3 years he spent most of his time on active duty orders with VT31.  Those orders are now over and he will resume full time status with Southwest shortly.

That was a lot of information about the Ritchie branch of the Snyder family tree. I hope you enjoyed the material.  If you have questions, comments, or want to correspond, my email is dave@daveritchieconsultant.com.

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WILLIAM D. RITCHIE (1924-2017)

I was sorry to learn earlier this week that Uncle Bill Ritchie passed away. Bill’s wife was Betty Snyder, daughter of Ora and Marion Snyder. Betty and Bill graduated in the same class from Lexington High School in 1942. Bill had a long and distinguished career in the construction industry.  Here is his obituary:

“William (Bill) Dale Ritchie, age 93, left this world September 26, 2017, to join family members who had preceded him in death. Bill lived at 2305 Patriot Heights, Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Bill was born June 25, 1924 in Mansfield, Ohio. He was the oldest child of William Maurice and Iva Dale Ritchie.  He had one brother James Ritchie (deceased) and has one sister Carolyn Ritchie Wilson.

Bill married the love of his life Betty Jean Snyder while serving as a naval Aviation Cadet in Norman, Oklahoma on July 21, 1945. Betty preceded Bill in death on December 30, 2015.  They had four children David, Fred, Jeanne, and Tim (deceased).  Bill has eight living grandchildren and four great grandchildren

Internment will be at Broadmoor Community Church, Colorado Springs, Colorado at an undetermined date.”

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CHEVROLET CORVAIR GREENBRIER

93347_Front_3-4_WebAs this blog has evolved, and the demands of my practice have increased, I find myself only posting stuff here if it really interests me. Sometimes the topics that interest me are things that some people might find to be obscure. This post probably falls into that category.

My Dad and I both subscribe to a collector car magazine called Hemmings Classic Car. For those that like articles and/or photos of classic or antique cars, it is really a fabulous magazine. The November issue of Hemmings Classic Car recently arrived and the cover story featured the restoration of a 1961 Chevrolet Corvair Greenbrier van. I saw the magazine at my Dad’s house before my copy had arrived. I didn’t think much about the cover story until my Dad mentioned that the funeral home (Snyder Funeral Home) had owned a Chevrolet Corvair Greenbrier Sportswagon, which was,  for all intents and purposes,  a “van.” The photo above depicts an exemplar Chevrolet Corvair Greenbrier Sportswagon.

I was surprised to learn that the funeral home had owned a Corvair. My previous knowledge of the Chevrolet Corvair was that it was a 4 cylinder, rear-engine car that had died a premature death following Ralph Nader’s crusade against it with the publication of his book “Unsafe at Any Speed.” My Dad recalls that Uncle Bob (Robert Lucas Snyder) purchased a white  Chevrolet Corvair Greenbrier Sportswagon for the funeral home to use. It  was purchased from the Chevrolet dealer in Mansfield, sometime between 1961-1965, the period during which the Corvair Greenbrier Sportswagon was manufactured. This vehicle was kept at the Bellville funeral home and was used as both an ambulance and flower car.

The Corvair Greenbrier had a small  6 cylinder engine located in the rear below a slightly raised cargo area. The engine did not have much power, producing only 80 horsepower. My Dad recalls Uncle Dick (Richard A. Snyder) commenting that the Greenbrier had so little horsepower that it “could not pull itself out of a mud puddle.”

The Greenbrier had a camper option and also had an optional heater running on gasoline from the vehicle’s fuel tank. I was initially surprised to learn that the funeral home had used a Corvair Greenbrier as an ambulance but after doing some research it appears that the Corvair Greenbrier was a very practical, utilitarian type of vehicle with the high headroom in the cargo area.  In many respects, the Corvair Greenbrier was ahead of its time The Corvair Greenbrier competed with the Ford Econoline van and the Volkswagen Transporter, which was essentially a bus-like adaption of the VW Beetle. For reasons that can not be explained, collectors go gaga over the VW bus but have largely ignored the superior Corvair Greenbrier. Here is a photo of a Corvair Greenbrier fully outfitted as an ambulance. big_thumb_17433f7a635648288531a4302d23e645

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE COVER PARTY’S JOURNEY FROM DENVER TO MONTANA

idaho-lemhi-pass-PI have been re-reading the Tom Cover book ( Vengeance!  The Saga of Poor Tom Cover by Dan Thrapp)  in preparation for a trip I am taking to Montana later this month.  What a great book! I am not sure why the author chose to write about Tom Cover but I am sure glad he did.  As Joe Snyder has commented,  Tom Cover makes our lives seem  pretty small by comparison.  He had a huge life jam-packed with adventure, excitement and intrigue. Every time I read this book, my attention is drawn to a different part of his adventures.

During 1862, Tom led a group of 26 gold-seeking  prospectors  from Denver, Colorado to Montana. It says a lot about Tom that he  was chosen to captain this hard-bitten aggregation of men. The group that Tom led included a variety of individuals,  including at least three attorneys,  a future Congressman, men from various walks of life and  individuals of foreign descent. Dan Thrapp, the author of the Tom Cover book, surmises that Tom was anointed the leader of this group because of his considerable frontier  experience, his capacity to handle troublesome Indians, his leadership  qualities, courage and resourcefulness.

The Cover party, as it was called, included men mounted on horseback, others riding bull wagons and men walking. The Cover party traveled through numerous areas inhabited by Indians, some very unfriendly and dangerous and some not.  Make no mistake, the threat of attack from Indians was very real on this journey. To put this in perspective, the Cover Party’s journey occurred 14 years before Custer and 267 troopers from his 7th Cavalry  were killed by Indians at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in nearby Montana Territory.  Their  trip included travel through plains areas, through valleys, along and over rivers and into and over mountains, including stretches of the Northern Rockies. There were many adventures along the way. As they had started in the spring, many of the streams and rivers they crossed were very high due to melted snow runoff.  As the group crossed the North Platte River, Tom Cover’s horse sunk and he was able to reach land only after tremendous difficulty.

In late May or early June of 1862, the group crossed the Snake River near the present town of Idaho Falls.   The Snake River carried an abundance of ice-cold swift water which was hazardous to raft. The Cover party spent several weeks making rafts for the wagons and testing them in the  rough water of the Snake River. During  that time, one poorly constructed boat, made out of a wagon box, capsized  and two of the expedition drowned. Ultimately, they located and repaired an ancient ferry boat, that they used to ferry across the river the wagons, the horses and the men that could not swim. The Cover party became quite expert in using rafts to cross wide and dangerous rivers.

The Cover party faced the threat of  constant skirmishes with Indians and they had to picket their horses and cattle nearby every night and post guards to prevent losing their stock to the  Indians.   At times, they found game to be scarce and at other times, they found game in abundance, killing birds, elk and antelope. On July 4, they celebrated by slaughtering  one of their precious oxen.

The Cover party threaded through Lemhi Pass, a high mountain pass, to enter into Montana from Idaho. Lemhi Pass is in the Beaverhead Mountains, part of the Bitterroot range in the Rocky Mountains and within present Salmon-Challis National Forest. the pass lies on the Idaho-Montana border on the continental divide at an elevation of 7,373 feet.  Before they began the journey up the pass, they took apart the wagons , hid the pieces in the brush, cached their extra provisions and turned loose most of their oxen to graze, rest and fatten. Pack saddles were made for some of the cattle, a handful of men rode horses and the remainder of the men walked as they journeyed up Lemhi Pass, which is shown in the photo at the top of this post. Lemhi Pass is also of historical significance as it was the pass discovered  and used by Meriwether Lewis and members of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery Expedition in 1805. As Meriwether Lewis and his crew climbed Lemhi pass from the Montana side, they hoped to see the Pacific Ocean but, upon reaching the top of the pass, saw only further mountains as far as they could see.

The driving distance today from Denver to Dillon, Montana is 755 miles via interstate and/or modern highways.  Given the nature of the   roads and/or trails that existed at the time of the Cover party’s journey, they likely traveled over 1,000 miles through rough and   difficult terrain. In short, the Cover party’s  journey through the wilderness of present day Colorado, Wyoming , Idaho and Montana was long,  arduous and full of adventures, obstacles and unanticipated difficulties.

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PERRY L. COVER

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPerry L. Cover was born in Johnsville on November 16, 1866. He was the son of Upton Aquila  and Susan (Lamb) Cover. Upton was the older brother of Mary Margaret (Cover) Biddle, one of my direct ancestors. So, that would make him my first cousin, three times removed. Perry never married. The census records indicate that he had a long time housekeeper, Mattie Parsons, who lived with him.  Perry was named after his uncle, Perry D. Cover, who served in the Civil War for the 87 Ohio Infantry and later moved to Riverside, California.  Perry died on September 23, 1945 and is buried in Forest Cemetery in Fredericktown.  I found the following biographical sketch about Perry:

Perry L. Cover, one of the progressive and well-known farmers and stock raisers of the vicinity of Fredericktown, Knox county, is a man who believes in doing well whatever he deems worth doing at all, hence his success in material things, and he is an advocate of clean politics and wholesome private and social living and as a result of his well-ordered life he is held in high esteem by all with whom he has come into contact. Mr. Cover was born on November 16, 1866, in Johnsville, Morrow county. Ohio. He is the son of Upton A. and Susan Cover, the father born in Maryland, from which state he came to Richland county, Ohio, when a child with his parents. The mother of the subject, whose maiden name was Lamb, was born in Richland county, this state, and there spent her girlhood. When the father was a young man he launched out in mercantile business with his brother, J. J. Cover, which they followed with continuous success for a period of twenty-seven years, maintaining a large establishment and enjoying an extensive trade all the while at Johnsville, Ohio, where the subject was born. They kept a general store where the villagers and country people could supply their every need and in return they bought everything the farmers had to sell, from their live stock and grain down to their butter, eggs and poultry. They were the first dealers in this part of the country to pack eggs in salt brine pickle, which was in vogue for years, until supplanted by cold storage. He was a very successful business man. his keen discernment and sound judgment never failing him and his courtesy and honesty in dealing with his many customers won their good will and friendship. He was one of seven brothers, all of whom but himself were Republicans in their political faith, he standing alone as a Democrat. He continued in the mercantile business in Johnsville until 1882, when he closed out his business and purchased a splendid farm a half mile southwest of Fredericktown, where he engaged in farming successfully until his death, in April, 1905, his wife having preceded him to the grave in August, 1896. They were the parents of two daughters and one son, namely: Emma E. and Mattie E., both deceased ; and Perry L.. of this sketch. Perry L. Cover was educated in the schools of Johnsville and Frederick- town, Ohio. He worked on his father’s farm in his youth, and after the death of the father he took the management of the same and here he has remained. This excellent farm, one of the best in Knox county, consists of one hundred and forty-three acres, which has been brought to a high state of improvement and cultivation and on which the subject has met with continued success as a general farmer and stock raiser. He has kept the buildings and fences all up to the standard and has so rotated his crops as to maintain the original fertility of the soil. Mr. Cover has never married. Fraternally, he is a member of the Masonic order at Fredericktown, and the chapter and commandery at Mt. Vernon. He is a Democrat in politics, but has never been, an office seeker nor an office holder, although he was land appraiser for Wayne township in 1910. In addition to his splendid farm in Wayne township, he has other valuable property in Colorado, some farming interests there. He has long manifested much interest in public improvements and is an advocate of good roads, in fact, everything that tends to advance the best interests of the masses. He is a man of” exemplary habits.

 

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THE FIRST SNYDER FUNERAL HOME

IMG_5546Earlier this summer my Dad and I drove over to Mt. Gilead for a car show. The car show turned out to be a dud but we made a slight detour on the way into Johnsville and drove by a few family landmarks. This is a photo of the building in which Ora Snyder had his first funeral home. Ora and Marion Snyder bought this house in 1922.  His family also lived in this home. As you will note, the house is now very much in disrepair.  This house was also Dick and Helen Snyder’s first home after they were married. According to my Dad, the attached structure on the left contained an indoor basketball court where Ora’s sons, including Dave, Dick and Bob played basketball.

As I was taking this photo from across the street, an obviously rabid dog came bounding out of the house and gave me the business. The dog was soon followed by a man who demanded to know what I was doing taking a photo of his house. I explained to him that my grandfather had previously operated a funeral home in his house, that  my Dad had lived there in the 1930’s and that I just wanted a picture of the house. At that point, the demeanor of the current owner changed. He expressed disbelief that there had ever been a funeral home located in his house. I assured him that was the case and he seemed obviously upset, repeatedly saying “you should not have told me that.”  As I walked away, I could hear him muttering, “I did not want to know that.” Oh well, don’t ask a question that you don’t want the answer to!

Here is another photo of the house from a different view. IMG_5547

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ANDY SNYDER–ARCHITECT

Andy Snyder
I thought I might do a mini-profile of one of the younger members of our family who has really distinguished himself as an architect for one of the prominent architectural firms in the country.  Andy Snyder, son of Joe and Beth Snyder,  grandson of Dick and Helen Snyder and great grandson of Ora and Marion Snyder,   is a principal/architect at NBBJ.  Andy grew up in the Traverse City, Michigan area and graduated from Cornell University in 2005.
Founded in 1943, NBBJ has locations in Beijing, Boston, Columbus, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, New York, Pune, San Francisco, Seattle and Shanghai.  Their global network of “renaissance teams” includes more than 700 researchers, strategists, nurses, architects, anthropologists, planners and interior designers who generate ideas that have a profound and lasting impact.
Andy is the leader of NBBJ’s Science and Higher Education Practice and one of the firm’s most versatile and talented architects. He also leads the firm’s San Francisco studio.  His experience in differing scales and types of projects, from small renovations to new academic buildings and campus precincts, makes him a highly versatile designer and allows him to incorporate contemporary techniques within a complex settings.
 Andy is consistently recognized for leadership across a wide spectrum of experience–including academic research and learning, health and translational science, medical education, corporate research and technology projects. A frequent presenter at national conferences, he was recently named by the Design Futures Council as one of “40 under Forty” Emerging Leaders in Design.  When he’s not working or traveling, you can find him on the golf course or in a rowing shell.

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