Author who detailed bin Laden raid has humble roots

By Mike Hixenbaugh
The Virginian-Pilot
© August 30, 2012


There was never any indication that the guy who lived across the street was among the elite commandos who took out Osama bin Laden.

Occasionally, Patrick Tupea would pause while mowing the grass and wave to the man on the other side of Wilhelm Drive. The well-built sailor would return the gesture and continue on his way.

“At some point I learned that he was a SEAL, but that’s about it,” Tupea said from outside his home in the Victoria Park neighborhood. “I didn’t know he was like the best of the best.”

News vans descended on the sleepy neighborhood last week when it was revealed that former resident Matt Bissonnette penned “No Easy Day,” a first-person account of the raid to kill bin Laden.

Little is publicly known about the former SEAL who wrote the memoir under the pseudonym Mark Owen.

Continue reading “Author who detailed bin Laden raid has humble roots”

WWII vet takes a flight over memory lane

By Mike Hixenbaugh
The Virginian-Pilot
© August 24, 2012


(Bill Tiernan | The Virginian-Pilot)
(Bill Tiernan | The Virginian-Pilot)

Joe Collector strapped himself into a B-17 Flying Fortress minutes before the plane’s four engines rumbled to life Monday.

The 88-year-old retired home builder plugged his ears as the restored war fighter barreled down a runway at Chesapeake Regional Airport and lifted into the air.

The old man with white hair and dark, bushy eyebrows gazed out a window as the plane passed higher and higher over trees and fields. He leaned back in a familiar green canvas seat and shut his eyes.

For a moment, he was back in 1943.

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ODU’s sailing team is a scrappy champ amid the Ivies

by Mike Hixenbaugh
Distinction Magazine

Heavy metal blares from the far end of the weight room. The physical effort of the 25 sweat-drenched college students working out this morning almost matches the song’s intensity. Iron dumbbells slam down against a rubber floor; steel weight bars clang into racks; heavy breathing and exhausted grunts complement the distorted guitar riffs, blast beat drumming and growling vocals pulsing from the speakers.

This is the Old Dominion University sailing team.

Perhaps you would have pictured pampered prep schoolers in white slacks and navy blue blazers. A gentle breeze ruffling a James Dean hairdo. Floating over gentle waves, coasting toward a dazzling sunset along a rocky cove – sailing line in one hand, martini in the other.

Picture instead a group of average-looking college students. They’ve got backpacks stuffed with running shorts, protein bars and overpriced textbooks. Cue a Rocky Balboa-style montage. These kids are up before sunrise and pumping iron. Cut.Now they’re running for miles along gritty inner-city streets, past rundown college apartments and boarded-up houses. Cut. Now they’re sailing through light rain, unpredictable wind gusts and choppy waters. Cut. Now they’re downing energy drinks and writing research papers at 3 in the morning.

This is collegiate sailing.

The gentleman’s sport born some 150 years ago in the halls of privileged British yacht clubs  is no longer reserved strictly for the well-to-do. And nowhere is this more apparent than at ODU.

Continue reading “ODU’s sailing team is a scrappy champ amid the Ivies”