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Aloha and Welcome to My Website!

I am an Associate Broker, Realtor® with Long Realty West Valley, a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate.
I specialize in real estate sales in Arizona West Valley Golf Retirement Communities.
I have Bachelor of Science Degrees in Chemistry and Biology and a Masters Degree in Business Administration with Project Management concentration.

As a year-round Sun City Grand resident and full-time Associate Broker Realtor®, I can help you buy and/or sell real estate in the golf retirement communities of Sun City Grand, Sun City West, Corte Bella, Arizona Traditions, Sun City Festival, PebbleCreek and Trilogy at Vistancia.
Buyers and sellers receive what they desire when selecting me as their estate agent:
an experienced, dedicated, well-educated, professional local Realtor® who specializes in real estate in Arizona golf retirement communities.


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“Sausage Buster” or the “Arizona Balloon Buster”


Normally, to be called a “Sausage Buster” probably wouldn’t be looked on kindly, or as a compliment. But to a certain group of folks down the way, it would be considered the highest praise. This is the story of one of their own, a local boy, called Frank.

Frank was born on May 19, 1897 in Phoenix.  Phoenix today, with its million and a half people ranks as the 6th. largest city in the U.S., but in the 1890’s, it was a sunbaked, hard-scrabble, rough-cob town of only about 1500 hardy souls, 1/5 the size of Wickenburg today.  As you’d expect, Frank was a product of those times: independent, self-sufficient, adventurous, tough, and all boy.  Back when I was a kid my sister and I caught lizards and toads for pets. Frank and his sister collected tarantulas. Frank’s two closest boyhood buddies were Albert “Pidge” Pinney and Bill Elder, and as related in an article by Steven Sherman: “The three boys went hunting in the hills, or, on occasion, liberated melons, chickens, and other commodities from local farmers...” Nowadays, if you draw a picture of a gun, or even have one stenciled on your tee shirt, you’re likely to be expelled from school. But back then “Guns were a way of life and Frank was a crack shot, at birds, small game, and (on one memorable occasion) the senior class pennant flying atop the high school flagpole.” But the “pennant shot” was an exception. People were poor, and bullets cost money, so mainly back you shot to eat, or to stay alive. Once when hunting in the Superstition Mountains with Bill Elder, Frank “Got a buzzard in flight in his sights, but then put his gun down. ‘Aw, let him go. He isn’t harming us.’”  

But those that meant harm, Frank shot back at, even stalked and sought out, and that sky  shooting was dead serious and deadly accurate.  But that would be a few years down the line, and an ocean away.  Here in Az., Sherman records that Frank “Played rough-and-tumble football against the Indians at St. John’s Mission.” I found that historical aside interesting, for some 50 years after that I was for a short time a social studies teacher and track coach at that self-same St. John’s Mission, and the Native American kids were still playing rough-and-tumble sports against any takers in their division from Phoenix clear out to Wickenburg.  History has a way of repeating itself.

Summers, Frank was down to Ajo to work at the Cornelia copper mine.  A tough breed of hombre slaved in the mines. You can imagine what they thought of a fair-skinned blond-haired kid who gave dancing lessons. But looks can be deceiving, a bitter lesson learned by hard men like “Irishman Breen and ‘Battler’ Haney from San Francisco,” who challenged Frank only to be whipped by him in fist fights. But the real fight was to come. World War I hit. The U.S. joined the fray on April 6, 1917.  Though Arizona’s copper mines kicked into high gear (demand for copper for shell casings), Frank enlisted in the Signal Corps’ Aviation service, and by September was off to flight training. He passed with flying colors. By March of 1918 he was in France, and by April at the U.S. Aviation Instructor center at Issoudun, from where he penned a letter to his old pal back stateside, Bill Elder. After giving some rather grisly details of another pilot’s death, he closed on this pumped up but cautionary note:

“Oh, boy, it is great to be up flying, practicing stunts, and looking down on the earth spread out beneath you. But there are always the new graves, in some of them fellows you knew; there because of a faulty machine or bad judgment. Well boy, it may be me next but don’t tell anyone I told you. I would hate to have my mother hear of it, because I tell her it is the safest branch of the service...”

On July 25th, Frank was transferred to the 27th. Aero Squadron at Saints, one of 8 pilots sent as replacements for others that had been shot down. Less than 3 months later, the same mother Frank was trying to protect in his letter to Bill, would be receiving the knock at the door, and the letter all mothers dreaded. What happened between July 30 and the fateful day of September 29th,when Frank died of a bullet wound near Muryaux, France, earned Frank a posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor, and 96 years later is still talked about among American “Aces.” 

Frank’s reports, filed after each sortie, in a few sentences capture the adrenaline and horror of aerial warfare.  August 16: “Saw Hun formation and followed, getting above, into the sun. The formation was strung out leaving one machine way in the rear. Being way above the formation, I cut my motor and dove down on the rear man, keeping the sun directly behind me. Opened fire at about 100 feet, keeping both guns on him until within a few feet, then zoomed away. When next I saw him, he was on his back, but looked as though he was going to come out of it, so I dove again, holding both guns on him. Instead of coming out of it he side slipped off the opposite side, much like a falling leaf, and went down on his back…”

The Germans were employing tethered manned observation balloons at the time, which gave them a big tactical advantage on the battlefield, and because these helium-filled balloons (dubbed “sausages” because of their shape) were vulnerable, they were very heavily protected both by ground firing positions and German fighter plane squadrons by air. The balloons were thus among the most dangerous targets to attack. Few pilots dared.

But then along came Frank.  As with many “Aces,” or “Top Guns,” the records show that Frank was tough to control, a loner, often seemingly undisciplined maverick, a loose cannon, but a very dangerous one to the enemy. In short, great to have on your side so long as you don’t have to supervise him.  As with many heroes, he was a man of contradictions. He is recalled as a very religious man. “Every Sunday he would attend Mass at a little French church, where he would humbly deposit his entire winnings from the previous night’s crap game.”

Perhaps the truest and most valued tribute that can come to any hero is what an equal says of him. This is how the great Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker summed up Frank:

“He was the most daring aviator and greatest fighter pilot of the entire war. His life is one of the brightest glories of our Air Service. He went on a rampage and shot down 14 enemy aircraft, including 10 balloons in 8 days. No other Ace: Britain’s Bishop from Canada, France’s Fouch, or even the dreaded Richthofer has ever come close to that.”

There is no doubt but that that local boy, Frank, had “the right stuff” to be a fighter pilot’s fighter pilot: exceptional courage, the ability to think and act quickly, and creativity in the air.  Oh, his last name by the way was Luke.  Now you know where our “Top Gun” Air force training field down the road got its name.

Sun City Grand Resident,

Anthony de la Torre

Phoenix Retirement Communities blog
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Leolinda Bowers
Long Realty West Valley
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