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November 2019


Veterans Day is a celebration to honor America's veterans for their service, patriotism, love of country and sacrifice. Here in the U.S. most Federal holidays are usually observed on a Monday but because it is such a special day, Veterans Day is always observed on November 11, without regard to the actual day of the week.
Most of us have family members or friends that are serving or have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. If you are grateful for their service, this year why not do a little more than enjoy a day off or wave your flag. Plan now to take a minute to tell them you appreciate their service. Maybe even take them to lunch or dinner. It's their blood and sacrifice that originally bought and now maintains our freedom. 

Verna & I thank God for each and every one of them, from Valley Forge to Afghanistan. They all understand "the rocket's red glare."
To the men and women of U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard - THANK YOU!

Verna & Randy


Veterans Day - November 11, 2019


Emmett Louis DeArman
November 15, 1923 - March 25, 2002 

Senior Master Sergeant USAF 

There are 3 significant events in November for me and my family; Thanksgiving, Veterans Day and my father's birthday and while it will soon be 18 years since he passed, my life is directed daily by the things he taught me and lived in front of me, not the least of which was how proud he was to be an American and of his career in USAF. He loved this country and being in the service. 

Not long after Pearl Harbor, like many young men of that period, he dropped out of high school to join the Army. He loved flying and in time the Army Air Corps became the U.S. Air Force. During WWII he served as part of a B-17 crew and manned every position except pilot. 


Me, my son Louis and my dad, October 1993 just before flying together on a B-17, 909; 909 crashed just a few weeks ago. 

When the war was over he decided to stay in, he completed high school and spent 7 years going to night school to obtain an engineering degree, as well as qualifying as an "all engines" mechanic. He could work on anything from a lawnmower to a jet engine.

During his 20 years he served in WWII, Korea and the Berlin Crisis doing his time in combat zones and from that he had a lot of firsthand experience with rockets. When he retired he obtained a job with a local NASA subcontractor. Part of that time was spent between Redstone and the Cape and his job allowed for me (at age 10) to meet Von Braun (for about 30 seconds) on a short trip to Redstone.

In his 79 years my father lived a very full life and he credited much of his personal success to the lessons he learned while in the military, so indirectly, my siblings and I learned the same lessons from him, i.e. hard work, dedication, commitment to excellence and being grateful for all the opportunities of being an American.

After he retired the second time, he and I became general contractors and spent 22+ years traveling the southeast and working together. Not long after I finally convinced him it was time to actually retire, at age 78, he found out he had stage 4 stomach cancer. In late August of 2001 he had the tumor removed and was home trying to regain his strength when again our country was the victim of a cowardly attack. The morning of 9-11 Verna & I were preparing to go to work as the local news began reporting on the attack. As distressing as it was for us I knew I needed to go to my parents home to check on my dad and I was hoping I would get there before he heard about it on TV. I was concerned about how he would handle the news in his weakened state.

When I arrived about 30 minutes after the first reports of the attack, my mother was in the kitchen making his breakfast and as I started down the long hallway that leads to their bedroom I heard what sounded like a tornado. As I opened the door I could see the newscast on the TV and then I saw my dad rapidly rummaging through his closet as he threw clothes everywhere. Just the day before, he needed help to get out of bed and to the kitchen for breakfast, but not this day. The long incision in his abdomen that was only halfway healed was not even a thought. He was mad, adrenaline was flowing, along with his thoughts on the cowardly bastard's who had just attacked us and what this country should do in its response to them.

As he struggled with his pants, I ask him what he was doing and he said he knew I would be coming to check on him and he needed me to help him get his uniform on while my mother was in the kitchen. His coat was already laid out on the bed next to his shirt. I asked him where he thought he was going and he said to the 117th, which is here in Birmingham. He had retired from the 117th in 1962, almost 40 years earlier and it was his intent to be reactivated there that day.

My first reaction was to try and reason with him, that the Air Force already had all the people they would need when the time came to fight, and to remember his age and that it had only been 3 weeks since his operation. And at that moment, I figured his reaction was a result of shock over the attack and his pain meds, since his mind was as sharp at 79 as anyone I have ever known at any age. He told me he knew he only had 6 months to live since he was going to forgo the chemo and if he could go and help, then that might mean one young airman or soldier might not die. He sincerely considered himself expendable and perhaps it would be a better end to a life well lived, than dying in a hospital bed.

Of course there was no way I was going to let him leave the house but after a few minutes we established that his dress coat and ribbons were still ok, even the hash marks that ran down the sleeve seemed in good shape. But his pants must have shrunk from 40 years of hanging in the closet, or he might have gained 5 or 6 pounds in the last 40 years, we weren't sure. I finally managed to get him to sit in his easy chair to rest for a minute or two and we listened to the reports for a few more minutes. 

Before too long he started to tell me about how he felt after Pearl Harbor and for about an hour he told me everything he could remember, much of it he had never talked about since that time and the attack on New York had reminded him of many things he had forgotten.

At some point my mother came to get him to breakfast and together we convinced him that going to the 117th would have to wait until he was stronger and a few weeks later I drove him to the base to fill up his car. We spent about an hour roaming around and he told me how much things had changed there and how their mission had changed over the years from a recon wing to a refueling wing. When I was only 5 he took our family there to watch the F-86's take off at night, then later the Phantoms that replaced them and as we stood there on a cold December morning we watched a KC-135 roll down the runway and lift into the sun. The last thing he mentioned and remembered was that when Desert Shield began a few years earlier, he and I went to the north end of the main runway and stood there at the fence as the entire Wing of Phantoms took off in pairs just  a few seconds apart and flew directly over us at about 200 feet with afterburners blazing. My ears are still ringing.��

My dad spent the last 3 weeks of his life at a hospital that is closely aligned with the main runway in Birmingham. The day he checked in for the last time was a Friday and since they try to send as many as they can home before the weekend, he was the only patient on the top floor that day. About 3 pm we were standing at the end of the hall that faces that runway and as we stood there we saw a pair of grey F-15's lifting over the trees about 1,000 feet from where we were standing. I could see a compliment of Sparrows and Sidewinders under both and just as they reached the hospital they pulled the noses up hard and screamed straight up into a cloudless sky and in seconds they disappeared into the blue. 


After a moment or two my dad smiled and said, "That still gives me chill bumps." Then we walked back to his room as he quietly sang, "Off we go, into the wild blue yonder..."  he passed 3 weeks later.

Veterans Day is November 11th. I hope you will spend a few moments with a Veteran you know and thank them for their service. I'd love to have just one more day with my favorite veteran. 




Our grandson Charlie wishes you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!


Looking for something entertaining and fun to read?

If you'd like something entertaining and fun to read, get your copies of the entire Rocket Babe series, paperback or Kindle. Here's how...

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Rocket Babe: Reflection


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Signed / personalized paperback copies of Rocket Babe - Dust Storm, Rocket Babe - Fallen Angel, Rocket Babe - Ant Men and Rocket Babe - Reflection are all available directly from the author!

Books are great gifts for any occasion! Holidays, birthdays or just because!

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Standard book rate shipping: $4 for 1st book; $1 for each additional book per address in the same order. Please allow 7-10 days for shipping, longer during the holidays.

*Special "Set" pricing! Get all 4 books for $46.00 includes shipping within the continental U.S.! Saves over $10 off the regular price and shipping!

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Above you see a rare photo of Dave Miller, appropriately dressed in black as owner of the clandestine black ops organization known as Sirius Rocketry! What does he do in his spare time? He reads Rocket Babe, what else?

That's a nice looking Cestris Fighter he's holding too! Get yours from


Verna Starr Cestris Fighter!


This is our favorite Sirius kit, the Cestris. The kit is intended to fly on a single engine but it was easily modified to a 3 engine cluster complete with Verna Starr fighter decals, also available from Sirius.



Just click the BLUE link below the banner!



Where Have All The Rocketry Photos Gone?


Has anyone seen Peter, Paul or Mary? I'd like to ask them: where have all the photos gone? Do you have any idea?

There was a time when the internet was young when most people had little or no option for posting their rocketry photos. A few flyers were aware of Usenet and could post small size files to a binaries group or if you had a friend with a website they might put up a good shot for a few days.

Eventually, most rocketry clubs put up a website where flyers could post monthly launch pics and for about 15 years or so that was the way to go; lots of photos, almost unlimited file space and they pretty much became permanent for all to enjoy for years to follow. Then something called Facebook came along, clubs moved their notices there and not long after, pic posts began to fall off. I still see people taking photos at launches but very few actually get posted and it's not just my own local club it's pretty much across the board.

Even though many clubs mainly use Facebook they still maintain but rarely use their old websites and most almost never post photos to them. Even the national launches don't post photos like they have in the past and that causes me to wonder, why?

Everything is so convenient and inexpensive today. Digital cameras, computers and phones make it so easy to share pics and even stream a launch for free, yet the number of photos grows smaller and smaller.

Perhaps things are too easy now. Maybe people are too busy flying to take 10 seconds to get a shot or maybe they don't want to share, I'm not really sure what it is but I do wonder.

If you know or have any ideas, please let us know. 




She'll go with you anywhere! Kevin, owner and moderator at the Alien Soup  sci-fi forum, enjoys Rocket Babe - Dust Storm between innings at a recent ballgame!


Visit Kevin at Alien Soup and tell him Verna sent you!





Bones says...



Verna & Randy's Rockets is proud to have been featured by:


Darrell Mobley's Website Review on Rocketry Planet


Dick Stafford's The Original Rocket Dungeon


Apogee E-Zine Peak Of Flight issue #155


April 2006  Finishing Touches
And Virally In Ezines Like:
Hobby Media Italy


You never know who will show up on Fire & Smoke!


Peter Paul & Mary never miss Fire & Smoke!


Who do you fly with? Fly with family!




Graphics by Doc's Patriotic Graphics

Thanks for stopping by! Check back soon for a new feature on FIRE & SMOKE!
Verna & Randy

*Don't miss Verna's Photo of the Month


Go To Bad Girl Saturn V

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