Wed02102016

News

SPLAT targets data, outreach as airplane noise continues

SPLAT targets data, outreach as airplane noise continues


Graphic courtesy of Don Gardner
Activists claim that a new SFO flight path leaves a “sound shadow” that impacts Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.

Sky Posse Los Altos Team – more simply known as SPLAT – seeks to squelch the noise...

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Schools

Los Altos High student-run charity plans '5 Gallon Gala'

Los Altos High student-run charity plans '5 Gallon Gala'


Courtesy of Lia Evard
Water by Youth members gave Egan students a chance to carry a 40-pound Jerry can, to see how difficult it is to obtain water in developing nations.

Water by Youth, a club at Los Altos High School, is making a splash by pla...

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Community

What would you do with a box of cookies? Local Girls Scouts help Tanzanian orphanage

What would you do with a box of cookies? Local Girls Scouts help Tanzanian orphanage


Courtesy of Alicia Madden
Sales of local Girl Scout cookies support service projects, such as funding an orphanage in the village of Mto wa Mbu in Tanzania.

Girl Scout cookies – whether you think of them as a treat, a tradition or a diet comp...

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Sports

Scoreless spells sink LA boys

Scoreless spells sink LA boys


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos High point guard Nolan Brennan attempts a shot in Friday’s game versus Palo Alto. He scored eight points in the loss.

There have been several games this season in which the Los Altos High boys basketball t...

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Comment

New 'York' values

New 'York' values


Hughes

 

As we have witnessed California suffer through one of its worst droughts in history over the past few years, all of us, I’m sure, have been keenly aware of our surroundings and have done a small part in trying to conserve wa...

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Special Sections

Getting a charge  out of the Volt

Getting a charge out of the Volt


Courtesy of Chevrolet
The 2016 Chevrolet Volt can be driven up to 50 miles on the power stored in its batteries.

Just five years ago, we wondered in this column what the power supply would be for the car of the future. Gasoline, diesel, electric ba...

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Business

Nearing V-Day: Shops stock sweets, treats

Nearing V-Day: Shops stock sweets, treats


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos resident Ella Roosakos, 11, with her mother, Gail, puzzles over which Gourmet Works sweets to buy as a valentine for Ella’s friend.

The gift-buying rush isn’t exclusive to Christmas. It may jump over...

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People

ALAN RODNEY MILLS

ALAN RODNEY MILLS

Alan Rodney Mills, PhD, 83, of Los Altos passed away peacefully on Saturday, January 30th, 2016. He was born in Rochdale, England in 1933 and came to California in 1962. He was a proud alumni of Manchester Grammar in England, University of Liverpoo...

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Stepping Out

PYT 'Gets Famous'

PYT 'Gets Famous'


Lyn Flaim Healy/Spotlight Moments Photography
Renee Vetter of Palo Alto, left, and Megan Foreman of Los Altos star in Peninsula Youth Theatre’s “Judy Moody Gets Famous.” Performances are scheduled Friday and Saturday.

Peninsula...

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Spiritual Life

A time to prepare: Fasting for Lent isn't limited to food

 

Today is Ash Wednesday, which in the Christian calendar marks the beginning of Lent – the 40 days of preparation for Resurrection Sunday, otherwise known as Easter.

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Inside Mountain View

New right-to-lease ordinance promises relief for renters

New right-to-lease ordinance promises relief for renters


Mountain View Tenants Coalition/Facebook
Residents gather in the fall to protest Mountain View’s rising rents. Rent relief is on the way in the form of a new ordinance.

A controversial Mountain View law requiring landlords to provide lease opt...

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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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