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1:15 PM

EBT community came together to meet early SNAP issuance demand, necessitate by the government shutdown

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 EBT community came together to meet early SNAP issuance demand, necessitate by the government shutdown 

The EBT community is a public-private partnership of government agencies and companies that design, develop, implement and operate the complex systems that deliver food nutritional assistance to eligible persons each month. This includes, among other things, identifying eligible recipients, issuing debit cards used to obtain food at authorized food retailers, keeping the system free of waste, fraud and abuse, containing costs, and issuing the eligible SNAP food, promulgating and observing federal regulations designed to allow the system to operate seamlessly.

The EBT community is comprised of the Food and Nutrition Service of the Agriculture Department, state agencies that administer the SNAP (formerly the Food Stamp Program) on a state level, the EBT transaction processors, vendors that provide some of the hardware and software required to build the state EBT systems, consultants who advise the state agencies and the companies and advocacy groups representing the interests of SNAP beneficiaries and food retailers authorized to issue SNAP benefits.

The government shutdown made it necessary to issue February SNAP benefits early, in order to reduce the amount of time that eligible families would be without the benefit.

Once the decision was made to allow early issuance, the EBT community quickly jumped into action, working seamlessly to get the food to those who needed it. Disparate groups worked as one and got the food to those who needed it.

The EBT community is represented by the eGovernment Payments Council, a service of the venerable Electronic Funds Transfer Association or EFTA. EFTA advocates for replacing paper processes in payments with electronic processes which are generally more secure and cost-efficient. Chaddsford Planning Associates was a founding member of the eGovernment Payments Council.

Council members who are employed by government agencies did not participate in any policy discussion regarding this issue or in any other discussion involving public policy.

11:03 AM

A Christmas Memory

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A Christmas Memory

The Lobster is taking a detour at this holiday season. Today I ask you to stop and help me commemorate the death of my uncle in World War II. Long-time readers of The Lobster will recall this post from its original run in December 2013.

Over 400,000 Americans were killed during World War II. Each one of them is a story to memorialize. This is my uncle's story which deserves to be repeated this Christmas season

Sgt. Edward H. Bucceri was a member of the 351st Bomb Group stationed at RAF Polebrook, England in World War II.  The base was 80 miles north of London. Ed died long before I was born. We know little about the incident that took his life other than it was his eighth combat mission and it occurred three days before Christmas. At this Christmas season in 2018 I again take time out to remember Ed’s life and death.


What information we have is preserved in The Chronicle of the 351st Bomb Group, by Peter Harris and Ken Harbour, and is the basis of this post.


Sgt. Bucceri's plane, serial number 42-39778, and known as "Lucky Ball," was part of the 511th Squadron on a 34-plane bombing run that took off on December 22, 1943 from its base in Polebrook, England on a daylight mission to bomb a steel mill in Osnabruck, Germany. In command of Lucky Ball was the pilot, Lt. Lewis Maginn of Rochester, New York.


It was to be the plane's fifth and final mission.

The Final Mission

According to Lt. Maginn's recollection of the event, Lucky Ball was anything but lucky on that mission. It had just been overhauled, with two engines ripped out and replaced by rebuilt ones. Lt. Maginn recalls being uneasy with the fact that the plane was pressed into service without the rebuilt engines having logged some more running time following the overhaul.

In addition to having to make the run with untested engines, two of the regular crew could not go on the mission and were replaced in the ball turret and tail gun positions.


Early into the flight, the pilot realized something was wrong. Bomb Groups assigned to the position behind them were rapidly gaining on Lucky Ball. Lt. Maginn put the hammer down to "near full power" and still found himself falling behind his formation.

And then the oil pressure in the number four engine began to drop.


The pilot killed the four engine and, being close to the target, tried to make the run with three motors.

Then the oil pressure on number three began dropping.


With two engines out on one side, and an impossible task to keep up, Lt. Maginn made the decision to break formation and turn back to base. The crew jettisoned its bomb load, ammo and equipment in hopes of lightening the load on the two remaining engine.

The End

The crew then mistook an American plane for an enemy fighter and dived into a cloud bank. But the maneuver cost the crew "precious altitude," according to Lt. Maginn. Then the oil pressure in number two began to drop.

The crew began to take flak from German fighters, worsening their altitude situation. The pilot was forced to shut down number two, leaving Lucky Ball one engine.


The crew dumped all remaining equipment, guns and ammunition and began a desperate run over the North Sea to the English coast. Sgt. Palmer, the radio man, sent out the SOS.


But there was no luck for Lucky Ball that night as it struggled westward into a gale headwind.

With the English coastline in plain view, the crew came to the realization they would never reach it.

They prepared to ditch their craft into the chop of the North Sea.


Cruising low above the waves, the pilot cut the last engine and tried to glide to a straight landing. The bomber hit the water at 85 miles per hour, breaking in half.


Lt. Maginn describes the intense cold of the North Sea in late December as "instantly numbing." The crash landing had jammed the cables on the life rafts, forcing the crew to "take to the water," their flotation devices their only hope for survival.

Huddled together in the freezing water they watched Lucky Ball sink below the waves. The first big wave to break over them scattered them about the sea, each man to his own.

Sgt. Palmer assured Maginn that the rescue squadrons had a fix on their position. But it would be 45 more agonizing minutes before the first boat appeared.


During that 45 minutes as the men drifted apart, Lt. Maginn later said, "the wind and bitter cold water took its toll rapidly." Five of the ten-man crew were rescued.

Perishing that night were the navigator, Lt. James McMorrow of Akron, Ohio, Sgts. Albert Meyer of Roswell, New Mexico, Docile Nadeau of Fort Keat Mills, Maine, and Clarence Rowlinson of Des Moines, Iowa. Sgt. Meyer was the only one whose body was recovered.

Sgts. Nadeau and Rowlinson were the replacement ball turret and tail gunners fatefully assigned to the flight that night.


The fifth crew member killed was my uncle, Sgt. Edward H. Bucceri of Jersey City, New Jersey.


No memorial marks the spot where these men went to their final rest. There was no military funeral at a national cemetery, no 21-gun salute, no honor guard. No one made a movie about the Lucky Ball's last run, and no Grammy-winning folk singer penned a mournful song . The crew that perished that night were just five of the more than 400,000 Americans killed in action in that war.

Today I remember one of them.

Rest in Peace,  Ed. Merry Christmas. And thank you.

Les Fleurs de la Mémoire

A post-script: Les Fleurs de la Mémoire (The Flowers of Remembrance) Society is a French service organization. Its members “adopt” the graves of fallen American service members who are buried in the American Cemetery in Normandy.


The father of our French nephew has adopted two such graves. Each spring the Les Fleurs de la Mémoire members decorate the American graves with fresh flowers and loving care, offering thoughtful prayers for those Americans who gave the last full measure of devotion, as Lincoln said, to a cause of liberty shared by both peoples.


The media do a good job of ginning up political conflicts between France and the U.S.  Sometimes they go so far as to suggest that the French are ungrateful for the sacrifices made by Americans in France during the World Wars. But I can tell you that nothing can be further from the truth. Les Fleurs de la Mémoire shows the strong bond between the people of the two countries.

As a relative of someone killed in the European theater and someone who preserves that bond, I say merci.