Mon09222014

News

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates


Nine candidates have filed to run for three open seats on the Mountain View City Council in the Nov. 4 election – none of them incumbents. The Town Crier asked them to introduce themselves to readers in the following Q&A format. We knew the...

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Schools

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The Los Altos School District’s newly expanded Facilities Advisory Committee met for the first time last week. The 28-member committee’s first task is to prioritize campus improvement projects.

The Los Altos Scho...

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Community

Sports

New-look Lancers find their footing

New-look Lancers find their footing


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Jenna Adams, left, and Carly Deale attempt to bump the ball Friday night. The juniors combined for 28 kills.

This year’s St. Francis High girls volleyball team faintly resembles last season’s squad ...

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Special Sections

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
An estimated 75 supporters of higher teacher pay turned out for the Sept. 4 Mountain View Whisman School District board meeting.

Teachers, trustees and administrators are recovering from a dramatic Mountain View Whism...

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Business

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Esthetician Marjan Kashi showcases one of the treatment rooms at her new studio, Pure Serenity Skincare at Rancho Shopping Center. Kashi provides services including microdermabrasion and various light and heat energy the...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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People

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

Resident of San Jose and Los Altos, California

July 21, 1931 to August 4, 2014

Born in Arimo, Idaho, to Jerald Emmett and Rebecca Henderson Nelson Christiansen. Raised in Davis and Riverside, California, with summers in Downey, Idaho, and in Loga...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

Pear puts on a pair of plays

Pear puts on a pair of plays


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Dan Kapler (as Teddy) and Betsy Kruse Craig (Trish) star in Pear Avenue Theatre’s “House.”

The Pear Avenue Theatre production of two interlocking comedies by Alan Ayckbourn – “House&...

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Spiritual Life

Back to Church Sunday offers opportunity to recommit

The children in Los Altos are back to school, and I can still hear parents cheering. Summer is officially over, even if the calendar doesn’t quite think so.

Parents have attended Back to School nights to meet their children’s teachers. B...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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Los Altos resident, World War II vet shares his experiences as B-17 pilot


Photo By: photo courtesy of Larry Nevin
Photo Photo Courtesy Of Larry Nevin

Charles N. Baker, top, poses by a vintage B-24, similar to the plane he flew during World War II.

They grew up enduring the harsh times of the Great Depression, came of age fighting in World War II and worked tirelessly to rebuild and reshape the United States as the 20th century progressed. Often referred to as “The Greatest Generation,” they are the cornerstone of America’s strength and success.

Charles N. Baker personifies that generation.

Baker, 95, a Los Altos resident for more than 50 years, is not quite as active as he was during his days as a B-17 pilot in World War II. However, when engaged in conversation, his youthful spirit and humble nature shine.

Baker was born Feb. 15, 1919, in Montana, but grew up in San Francisco. While living in the Bay Area, he played football and was recruited by the University of Oregon, where he became the starting quarterback. After completing his third year at U of O, Baker was drafted into the Army.

“I was drafted in my senior year at the University of Oregon,” he said. “It was Oct. 14, 1941, before Pearl Harbor.”

Dreams of flying

Baker was first assigned to the 15th Cavalry in Fort Riley, Kan. Soon after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he requested a transfer to become a pilot. Given the popularity of flying, it wasn’t an easy request to fulfill, but Baker somehow scored his dream job.

“More young men wanted to fly than do anything else,” he said. “It was push, push, push – it was testing all the time. If you didn’t qualify, get out of the way, because someone is behind you that can take your place.”

After a rigorous year of cadet pilot training, the Army commissioned Baker a pilot Nov. 3, 1943.

During World War II, he served as a B-17 pilot for what was then the U.S. Army Air Forces, attached to the 390th Bombardment Group, 8th Army Air Force, stationed in England.

He flew 35 daylight bombing missions against Germany and earned many commendations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded for “heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight.”

When asked what he did in particular to deserve the medal, the veteran replied, “I survived.”

Baker recalled his trepidation and fear during his tour of duty.

“Lives were expendable in World War II,” he said. “Not only were we afraid of the Germans, we were afraid for our survival.”

“It must have been a terrifying experience,” said a friend of Baker’s who asked not to be named. “Going on dangerous missions, encountering swarms of enemy fighters, seeing their buddies’ planes shot out of the sky and going down in flames, then watching, often in vain, for parachutes to pop out of the falling planes, feeling their own plane hit again and again.”

Writing it down

In the midst of World War II, Baker chronicled his service daily in a journal. With help from a friend, Baker is writing a book on his wartime endeavors, intended primarily for family and friends. The book will document his experiences from the time he was drafted through his training and assignments as a pilot and his bombing missions over Germany.

Like many men categorized as among “The Greatest Generation,” Baker is modest, claiming that he doesn’t want special recognition. He deflects praise, saying that he is indebted to Uncle Sam for giving him the education, tools and honor to defend his country.

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