Tag: American Heroes

Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend

by Susan Orlean


A Little Rin Tin Tin History

rin tin tin

On Sept. 15, 1918, an American soldier named Lee Duncan discovered a litter of German Shepherd puppies in the wreckage of a recently shelled German WW I encampment. He kept two of the young puppies, naming them Rin Tin Tin and Nanette, and managed to get them onboard when he shipped back to the United States from France at the end of the War.

I felt there was something about their lives that reminded me of my own life,” Duncan later wrote of the puppies. “They had crept right into a lonesome place in my life and had become a part of me.

Lee Duncan

The lonesomeness in Lee Duncan developed because he’d spent part of his young life in an orphanage in Oakland when his father abandoned his mother and his young mother simply could not feed or support Lee and his sister.

Lee loved his dogs and seemed to have quite a knack for training them. The thought entered his mind that perhaps, his dogs could become canine movie stars. He always thought Nanette was the smarter of the two, but there was something about Rin Tin Tin.

After the war, Duncan pursued his dream, taking Rin Tin Tin to California, where the dog got a big Hollywood break when one of his spectacular 12 foot jumps was caught on film at a dog show. Rin Tin Tin’s first part was a small one in a 1922 sled-dog picture. Then in 1923, “Where the North Begins,” based on a story written by Lee Duncan, gained the dog national attention.

rin tin tin

And as they say, the rest is history! I can still remember those Rin Tin Tin TV shows! Much better than Lassie …

Now, about the book …

I must admit, however, I was a little disappointed in Orlean’s book, Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend. Her book actually has very little about the dog, Rin Tin TIn, or the training techniques that produced the original Rin Tin Tin’s amazing skills and feats.

On a side note, as a German Shepherd owner myself, I was not that surprised to learn that the heroic German shepherd who could leap 12 feet, crashing through plate-glass windows was buried with his squeaky doll! That fits the German Shepherd perfectly!

rin tin tin

But Rin Tin Tin is strangely absent from most of his story. Orlean tracks down loyal fans who now own descendants of the original Rin Tin Tin. She talks to many of Lee Duncan’s family members like ex-wives and or his daughter. She writes about business associates and Rin Tin Tin’s co-stars.

Susan Orlean’s story seems to be more about how family members profited by selling off everything related to Lee Duncan’s dream and his dog. She writes about people looking for some way to capture past glory, or perhaps the means to create new value from an old piece of intellectual property.

Susan Orlean also writes about the many tangled legal disputes such as the one between Daphne Hereford and Bert Leonard, the producer of “The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin,” and the confusing story of Lee Aaker, a child actor who played the dog’s TV sidekick, and who might or might not have become a special-needs ski instructor in the Eastern Sierras, but who was once definitely sued for impersonating himself.

You also learn that, since the death of the original Rin Tin Tin, this American canine hero has been played by no less than 20 other dogs.

What became clear to me from reading this book, is that the leap from heroic canine fame to mundane triviality is much shorter than 12 feet.

My thoughts …

rin tin tin

On the whole it is not a bad book, that is … if you want to read about everything surrounding Lee Duncan and his efforts to make a good living with the German Shepherd he trained to do really amazing feats, and how tough that actually was.

Maybe it was naive of me, but I wanted to read about the dog, Rin Tin Tin!

I wanted to read about his movies and his TV shows, and how he was trained, and to have the author paint a picture in my mind of this heroic German Shepherd leaping 12 feat and crashing through a plate-glass window to save the day.

On that, score, I was badly disappointed. And for that reason, I gave this book two stars …

I did love the cover …

American Women Warriors: A Salute.

Women can certainly be mothers, sisters, daughters, and wives. Each is a vitally important role in American society! But, while being all of these amazing things, women can also be fierce and capable warriors. Throughout history, and all around the world, women have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with men, facing their common enemies and fighting battles for survival. Though often outnumbered by their male brothers-in-arms, many brave female warriors have left their indelible mark on American history.

Historic Figures

Before changes in the modern U.S. Military, women were not allowed to serve in combat roles. We still had great examples of strong women, who were warriors in their own way, women who effected positive change in America through their bravery, dedication, and hard work.

Here a just a few examples:

Harriet Tubman

A courageous American hero, abolitionist Harriet Tubman, proved to be one of the most effective conductors on the Underground Railroad. “Conducting” was a dangerous job for anyone, doubly so for a former female slave. However, Harriet Tubman lived by a simple creed, “I can’t die but once.”

Susan B Anthony

The words of Thomas Jefferson, “Resistance to Tyranny is Obedience to God,” were often quoted by suffragist Susan B. Anthony at her trial in 1873 for voting. She was fined $100 for her act of civil disobedience. Though she didn’t literally take up arms, no one can deny that Susan B Anthony fought the good fight for woman’s suffrage and helped pave the way for the passage, 14 years after her death in 1906, of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, extending the right to vote to women.

Rosa Parks

A founding mother of the U.S. civil rights movement, Rosa Parks, stood her ground and stated, “No, I’m not moving to the back of the bus.” Her refusal to budge helped launch the Montgomery bus boycott and reshaped the American civil rights movement forever.

However today, the “no women in combat” rule has changed. I do believe in equal rights and status for all Americans. And, as long as any individual can pass the test and meet the required physical standards to perform a job at an efficient level, that individual should be allowed to perform that job

Today’s Female Warriors

Back in 2011, Congress mandated that the DOD conduct a review of its combat exclusion policy. Two years later, President Obama’s Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, announced plans to rescind the Direct Combat Exclusion Rule.

In December 2015, his successor, Ashton B. Carter, declared that all military jobs would be opened to women as long as they could qualify. The first field artillery cannoneer positions became available to enlisted women in January of 2016.

Jordyn Wallace, one female warrior, enlisted at the Castle Hayne recruiting center one month later.

While there are too many to list, I have selected a few random samples I found online as representative examples of our American female warriors.

Specialist Jordyn Wallace

Jordyn Wallace served with the Second Battalion, 12th field artillery regiment (2-12 FA) … part of the First Stryker Brigade Combat Team. These soldiers support infantry troops from miles away with powerful M 777s, also known as howitzers.

Wallace is a professional soldier who giveS her mission her all. She has earned the respect and admiration of her team and her superiors.

female warriors

Spcs. Vanessa Bolognese and Aimee Collver

“Bolo’ and “Collver” are two combat medics with Personal Security Detachment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. They kept all their male counterparts healthy and operationally ready, and did so “outside the wire,” their team often operating as an independent element.

“Bolo” and “Collver” are respected by there combat team both for their skills as medics and their professionalism as soldiers. When outside the wire, they move with the team, however when the rest of the team gets to take a break, these two warriors are just beginning to do their jobs.

female warriors

Maj. General Dawn Dunlap

Maj. General Dunlop is among the most accomplished female fighter pilots in the Air Force’s history. A 1988 graduate of the Air Force Academy, Dunlop has logged more than 3,500 hours flying aircraft including F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-22 fighters.

female warriors

All I can say is “Hooah” … and we, as Americans, owe women such as these a great deal of respect and gratitude.