Not very long ago, our President was fair game to all sorts of criticism for what rights he was given after 9/11. Now our rights are trampled on in front of a voting place and the other side doesn't seem to notice. Carry a sign with Obama's face colored like the Joker and you are threatened to be hauled off to Jail. Their Thugs paint swastikas and we are called the rabble.
Nancy and Harry don't get it when we hold TEA parties. If 11 trillion in national Debt isn't bad enough, we hear a projection of 20 Trillion in the next 10 years. Hell, we want Social Security Fixed so it doesn't run out of money in 2037 not a new medical policy fixed with out dollars today. How can they look us in the face and tell us that medical care will be delivered at a lower cost and at the same rate or amount as today. They are going to cut the costs out of the fat in the system? They are going to eliminate Fraud waste and Abuse? AARP better not darken my door now that they have joined hands with Nancy and Harry to pass the Kennedy Health Bill.
I think we need to have free speech so that the leaders of our country can hear the frustration of people like me before we get really angry. On the other hand, we need to make sure that threats are somewhat moderated. Tell then how you feel but be a little careful when you threaten to get your gun out and do something about it. Civil Disobedience can tip over the edge when guns are involved.
We have been looking in the paper each day to see what is out there in the car market. The ads make little or no sense to me. One dealer has a 2006 Mustang for $18,995 and on the same page advertises a 2009 for the same price. Our ideal car will have less than 30,000 miles and get at least 25 MPG with 30 being the ideal.
My plans for today include finishing the mowing at Dave's and doing some mowing here at RR. The weeds are getting out of hand. I will probably do some tree trimming soon. I notice there are branches in several places where the trees are touching the roof. I need to also get up on the roof and clean the debris off the gutter guards.
We went up to the local school and visited some of teachers that are raising Monarch Caterpillars. We take a supply of milk weed leaves so the little one's have something to eat. Most are either in the chrysalis or nearing that point. We expect the butterfly migration to come through Kansas soon. With the really cool days we are having I expect it to be a little earlier this year.
Oh well, better get moving and get some things done.
The place to start is not with the President, but with the congress members that work so damned hard to spend our money. I like Pat Roberts but he does seem to turn up with special interest $ for pork barrel projects here in Kansas. Damn, it is our money he is spending and research centers here in Kansas still have a ripe pork smell.
I want Congress Men and Women that understand that outgo must not exceed income. Do more things with less or fewer things done well. When we find a group of people that don't want to spend like a bunch of Sailors in port for a couple of days, we will have arrived.
I think that the basis for change needs to start in Congress. When the President wakes up that crazy ideas backed with our money isn't going to happen, control and balance will be restored.
I hate it that our press is spending so much time looking into the shortcomings of our political candidates and not enough time looking at their programs and ideals. Everyone out there has done at least on stupid thing in our lives that would not stand up to today's standards. Oh well, if chosen I will not run and if elected I would not serve.
As you all know, the move a few years back was to medicate everyone and turn them out to survive as well as they could. That often lasted until they stopped taking their meds and then the fun began. It led to many fun visits for the local Law Enforcement personnel. One day, I was the security manager for the Adjutant Generals Office and the guys in the Armory sent one of their walk in's over to see me. They called and said he was coming and told me they also called the Police to come and pick this guy up.
When My new friend arrived in my office, he asked to go to a private room where he could show me some Military Secrets. I took him to the break room and bought him a coke and to listen to this great tale. He pulled out a sheet of Big Chief Tablet paper and showed me a list of Military Weapons I could purchase. Everything from Howitzers to Nuclear Weapons was on that list. I swear it was written with one of those big pencils on that cheap paper that wasn't bleached white. I asked him to let me photo copy the list so I could send it to the purchasing and contracting guys but he insisted it was Top Secret and the CIA had a link to all of the photo copiers. Not too long after that, the Police arrived and took him to the Jail. He left his bicycle in the bushes over at the Armory and I noticed that later on that day it was gone. That guy never darkened my door but more just like him did.
Sometime later, a Black lady came to my office and asked for my help. I asked her to sit down and tell me what she needed. She claimed that she needed documentation of the Medal of Honor her great grandfather had earned in the Civil War. He was the General that turned the tide at the first battle of Bull Run. I asked her his name and she told me that it was a Secret because he was a Confederate General. About this time my annoyance factor had maxed out and I told her that first of all, the Medal of Honor was a Union medal and to my knowledge there were no Black Generals in the Confederate Army. She stood up and yelled she wasn't black, she was an Indian. Then I informed her that Military History was one of my hobbies and that I was damned sure that there weren't any Indian Generals in the Confederate Army. Shortly after that, the Police arrived to escort her back to her Tee Pee.
A few weeks later, I was watching TV and I saw that the Police had shot a black man dressed as an Indian as he attacked them with a knife. The news cast showed his mother standing on the sidewalk and screaming at the Police to not shoot, "He is a Chief". yep, same woman, different day. I also heard a story about that woman mailing her son's lungs to the attorney Generals office to have the poison analyzed that the Police gave him to kill him. How she got his lungs was a mystery to everyone. The son wasn't poisoned, he committed Death by Police and the lead was fatal but I'm pretty sure not as a poison.
I guess I should be more sympathetic to the plight of those with mental illnesses. It runs in my family and there are days that I do wonder how far from the tree that apple falls. But as my daddy used to say, "There's nothing wrong with me, There is nothing wrong with me, There....."
Just yesterday, the weatherman said we are 8 inches above the normal rainfall for the year. This morning it has settled in for a good rain. The weatherman is predicting a couple of days with on and off rain. trust me when I say there are no cracks in the ground to fill up first. This rain is going straight for the ditches and judging from the rivers, we could be in flash flood straights easily.
Yesterday was an interesting day. All morning there was a helicopter flying over our house. I finally got the electric window motor out of Barb's car and when I left here to go to the Auto parts Store a Sheriff's officer would not let me turn right (north) out of our drive onto Tecumseh Road. I guess a guy up the street threatened suicide and ran off back into the woods with his gun. By the time I got back from the parts store, there were 7 police, sheriff and highway patrol cars in the neighbor's drive. They caught the guy but he ditched his shotgun somewhere in the woods. It was only a .410 so I didn't think it was worth spending any time wandering through the brush to look for. They didn't find the gun. I did get the electric window in Barb's car to work so it wasn't a wasted day.
This morning I read that our niece out in Idaho is taking the Love and Logic class developed by Dr. Fay. I want to recommend that all parents look to their churches, local schools or Colleges for this class. It is a good way to spend less than a hundred dollars and learn a lot.
If there is one thing that Love and Logic teaches is that a lot of times the logic in our actions is lost on the kids because of our emotions. He will give parents a way to take a deep breath, step back and think about what is the thing to do instead of rushing in and shooting everyone. The part that absolutely I love is that you can make kids think about the logic of what they do by helping them understand consequences and setting rules for their behavior. When you get a chance to let the kid walk away from a mistake with the monkey on his or her back you will forever love it. I think it is an excellent time to help the children understand rules and limits and perhaps to cause them to say, "What will happen if I do this?"
Will this help Amy this year with a one year old? Perhaps not as much as it would prepare her to act in the future. It is difficult to communicate with a small child, but it will arm her out in the future when she can communicate. For Heidi, she is right in the middle of raising her family and I think this is an excellent way to learn how to deal with children. yea Heidi.
Morgan does not want to be known as a black actor, he is an actor period. Not that he would turn down a juicy part because the character is black. He thinks Black History Month is redundant. How the hell can you separate the Black History of the United States from the White history? Do we have a Jewish History Month? How about the Irish (OK, we do have St Patrick's day).
The sooner we start celebrating the sameness of us all, the sooner we will all go forward. Lets see, it has been 160 years since Lincoln freed the slaves. It has been 50 years since Johnson made sure all of us have the right to vote. Isn't it time we began to look at the quality of the man's actions and stop looking at the color of his skin?
I think this is where I should insert that Dr Bill Cosby and I have the same thoughts on success. Get a good education, work hard, support your family, pay your bills and you too will succeed.
Life ain't complicated but that doesn't mean it isn't hard if you don't pay attention.
Let me offer this simple rule for problem solving. Start with the most obvious thing first and work to the harder items. I replaced a bathroom light fixture in one of my rental homes last year. The renter called yesterday and said he had smelled electrical smoke and the fixture was not working. I started with taking the fixture down from the ceiling to see if there was any burnt wires. I went up in the attic to see if there were any problems there. I rewired the fixture from the junction box and after several trips back up there it still didn't work. I wired it the correct way and tested all the circuits with a tester. Finally I took a light bulb out of my extension light and the damned thing lit up. Who would think that two CF lights would burn out at the same time? Who knew that they would smell funny when they did. Rule one, don't doubt your earlier work, check the damned bulb first. Stupid me spent about five hours yesterday working on problems that didn't exist. What else did I have to do. Well, there was season three of Dexter to watch.
The kids are coming over for breakfast/brunch this morning. We have this 39.5 Lb watermelon to use and Dave is working later on. I think I am going on a grocery store run shortly to get a couple kinds of sausage and ham. I think Barb is going to do her cashew Blueberry pancakes.
Might even get to do some mowing this afternoon, you never can tell.
For some reason I have been thinking about Myers Briggs and their personality types today. There is little doubt that I am an extrovert and energise myself through contact with others. It is the other factors that I seem to find change in my life. A lot of that is what uniform I am wearing and the job that I am doing. As a Military type, I was the kind of person that was always in the job of gathering data and evaluating the alternatives. I found that I made a more rapid decision than many of my peers, and a lot of time I found that these decisions had a high success rate. For some reason I found the rules easy to enforce and that I fell into the Justice side pretty hard over. If the rule said you get reduced a grade and do 30 days in the stockade, pack your bag. The feeling side of me that would provide mercy was always shaded by the fact that in the Military people had to perform the mission or people died.
From the few words above, I have found that I am ENTJ after most periods in uniform. I have to work hard to change the TJ to TP in my dealings with people. In my instructor or teacher mode I easily slide over to the P from the J side.
Well, my tenant just called and there is a minor problem at the rental house. Better load up my tools and make a run over to see what the hell that have done this time.
Ask Mary Jo Kopechne's family if he deserves more.
Denny and his older brother Gary lived just up the street from us. I really didn't know too much about Denny because he was a grade ahead of me through the 4th or 5th grade. Momma Lawrence had a Navy Bell by the front door. If she wanted to have Gary Come home she would ring that bell Ding, Ding, Ding. When she wanted Denny to come home she would ring it ding-ding, ding-ding, ding-ding. When she wanted everyone to come or go home she would just ring the crap out of that bell and we would all come or go running.
Denny helped his father clean some wild rabbits they had killed and while cleaning them cut himself. That cut let a rare disease get into his system. He developed Tularemia and by the time they figured out what he had, the bacterial disease had done a lot of kidney damage. he had also had a pretty high fever and he was never recovered fully. He joined me in probably the fifth grade and we were in a lot of trouble always. In fact, it think they tried their best to separate us as much as possible. I'm sure we would have both been in Special Education in middle school. In fact Denny did pursue a Vocational Education Degree in High School. He was into Auto Repair and Welding.
I remember a book report that Denny had to give to the fifth grade class and I laughed so hard that I farted when his version of Linoleum came out "bass ackwards". He and I worked on Linoleum, aluminum and Officer for hours so he could give that book report. I think it was about George Washington Carver and Linoleum was one of the uses he discovered for peanuts. I don't think Denny was embarrassed by his inability to say linoleum but he did laugh at my fart. Some guys will go to great lengths to take the pressure off his buddy.
I also remember the time that we were all out driving in Denny's 54 Chevy Convertible. Several of us were fairly drunk and because of his weak kidneys, Denny was as sober as a judge. Someone shouted at a friend downtown on Douglass Ave and a motorcycle cop riding along in the middle of the traffic pulled us over. Denny asked, "What's the problem Ossifer?" I think we all almost got hauled in that night for that one. The great news was that Denny was not drinking and escaped the real wrath of that cop.
Much to the amazement of all concerned, Denny was the first guy in our group to join the Military. he found a billet in the Navy reserve and joined while we were in High School. he was a year older and for some reason his weak kidneys didn't keep him out. He went off to training before his Senior Year and then the next summer after we graduated. I remember he came home from his second summer with a navy tattoo. back in the day, only sailors sported tats. When a lot of us went on to college, Denny went to work at Beechcraft just down the street. He hated his job but it did give him enough money to live on. Within a year or so, I spent just short of three years in the Army and when I returned home, Denny was married and had a couple of sons. We stayed in touch over the years and he was so proud of making Chief Petty "Ossifer" in the Navy.
Because Denny's Mom and my Mom were friends, I heard the stories of his life every time we got together with Mom. Seems like he went through three wives and a lot of jobs. The unfortunate end was caused by the cigarettes that most of us smoked. About 20 years ago, most of my friends took the warnings seriously and stopped smoking. Unfortunately Denny did not. These past few years he went through the typical smoker's battle of lung cancer, a brain tumor and finally bone cancer of the spine. He passed away this last March.
Denny touched the lives of many of us and I'm sure that a lot of people will be saddened at his passing. I'm not sure of the Navy tradition, but the Artillerymen don't go to heaven or hell, we go to Fiddler's Green where we wait for other Artillerymen to stop by and share a canteen of Muzzle Blast and to tell war stories. Perhaps they have a simular place on a beech somewhere where the grog and stories flow freely. I'll bet they have those native women with bare breasts in their version. Those Navy guys always did tell good stories.
I'm sure that you have all had one of those days when:
- Your degree of care and concern is not up to the level of a smile when you see a funny picture on "I can have Cheeseburgers".
- You feel bad and somehow a bowl of popcorn followed by a bowl of ice cream makes you feel better.
- You buy a watermelon so big it won't fit in your ice box and you hate warm watermelon.
- You drive 8 hours in a car just to get the hell out of Dodge.
- Your get up and go, got up and went. And, you are not sure you care.
- You have two books started and they are both overdue at the Library. I'm sure that if I looked, I could find at least one.
- You can't get worked up enough to do a good rant on your blog. Several good ideas cross you mind briefly but none with enough force to impact.
I wrote this to let you all know I am not dead, only mildly low on the DOGAS level. (For the non Military Types, that mean Degree of Give a Shit). Write if you get a chance.
The first meal was some quick sandwiches last night. I got the pan hot, buttered it and threw in some seeded rye bread to toast. About the time I got one side done, I had sliced some of the grilled chicken into about 1/8 inch slices. I put that on the bread and a slice of Swiss cheese. You can dress them any way you like. I found them to be about right without and dressing, mayo or BBQ sauce at all. I was tempted to do a light dressing of Frank's Hot Wing Sauce but decided not to. It was a simple sandwich that could be a snack, or the base for a dinner with some chips and a green veggie.
At noon today I found a pretty big piece of steak hiding in behind a bowl and decided that it would flavor a zucchini stir fry pretty well. I sliced up an onion that needed used. I probably threw about half of it away so call it 1/2 onion. I started cooking the onion while I sliced the three small peppers from the garden. Threw that in and started on the good sized zucchini. I sliced it in about 1/4 inch slices and chucked it in the pan. I sliced the steak in to small strips and put that in the pan. For health reasons, I didn't use butter, just water. I seasoned the veggies with a little soy sauce, some dried Italian herbs and just a sprinkle of sesame seed oil. You can salt and pepper it to taste. Watch the salt as the soy sauce is generally pretty salty. I have on occasion sliced up a potato and nuked it for four minutes and throw that in. This time I had some left over cheese potatoes and I served them on the side.
For me, this time of the year is just the time I have been waiting for. I generally get all the zucchini I want, plenty of different kinds of peppers for flavor and a sliced ripe tomato every other dinner. In the winter I use the frozen vegetables but this time it was fresh one's.
I think Barb is out looking at the garden to see if the hail did any damage. We had a good storm pass by after midnight and I heard hail on the roof at least once. The weather guy says we got at least an inch and a half of rain here. I guess over in Kansas City they got twice that.
For the first of what I hope is the next 1000 blog posts, I thought it might be fun to re-introduce myself to new people that stop by. Here are a few facts about MUD:
- I am a married, retired, ex Colonel in the National Guard. The love of my life is my wife of 40 years who at least tolerates me.
- We have everything we need and most of what we want. I am a reformed smoker and drinker and for a lot of reasons seem to piss of members of the family. I say what I am thinking. A lot of that comes from the fact that I am a kind of fire and forget kind of guy and they hold grudges. Don't ever feel sorry for us about anything. Our life's work has been to get to this point alive and kicking. Ta-Da, we are here. I tell Barb all the time that I hope no one feels bad when I die. I have lived a great life and regret little.
- I was born in 1947 to a WWII veteran. Barb was born in 46 to a Vet who fought in Europe and got home a little earlier than my dad did. I wound up in Vietnam in 1968. The Military was the best thing that ever happened to me, and in some ways, the worst. Survival was the name of the game and I did. I did bring home some of those pesky Malaria parasites but with the help of the VA they are gone and haven't come back. The best thing, no the second best thing was the GI Bill and how it helped us get me through College. The best thing has been Barb and I darned sure better not forget it.
- After 10 years of attending college between Military service and working, I finally graduated from KU. I love to learn and hated to learn just what they taught to a Business School student. I learned a lot of theory but not a hell of a lot of real world, practical stuff. Barb graduated from Wichita State and got her masters in Special Ed from KU. We are both KU Basketball fans. Last year we traveled to Waco and Lubbock to watch KU play. Fun trips. Why are we basketball fans? We live near Kansas City and our professional baseball and Football teams suck.......Big Time.
- Right now we are looking for a used car to let us travel. We have a 96 Buick Skylark with almost 120,000 miles on it and it ain't long for the world. We want a new car that gets 50 MPG and costs less than $10,000. Yeah, lots of luck on that one. We will settle for a 4 door car that will get near 30 MPG and has less than 30,000 miles. Lots of those out there but nothing yet that just puts the most of our desires together. The good news is that I don't need it today and we can pay cash.
- A tornado blew down out house in 1983 and Barb and I rebuilt that house acting as our own contractors. If it was visible and showed, she was responsible. If it was mechanical it was my job. She has such good taste and I am nearly color blind (or at least to anything not green) In the late 1980's, we started looking for a place to build a house near the city but with the feel of the country. We found 18 acres we call rabbit run. We built a 3,000 square foot house and love it. We have trees and more trees, with trees in between.
- Barb loves to garden and I love to cook and build things. I have most of the tools I need to do about anything and some I can't even find.
- My favorite new quote was from George Burns. When Carl reiner asked him about his sex life at 83, George said, "It is a lot like trying to put oysters in a slot machine."
I got the name MUD from my niece, Carrie Ann who broke some front teeth out when I scared her one time ages ago. As she was eating ice cream and crying she said mean uncle Denny and my sister said yes, your name is MUD. So here I am and there I go.
When I came back off leave, the battalion had made good strides in finishing their preparations for deployment. During that time I did get to say Hi to Stubbs on occasion but we didn’t have much contact. We got the final touches done and the equipment to Long Beach and loaded. I don’t remember the name of the cargo ship but I do remember that the people were on the USNS Geiger. For the record I will hereafter call it a boat. Yes, many of you will call it a ship but it lacked sufficient keel to keep it straight in the water and it wallowed left and right as it went up and then settled down. It may have been a sea cruise for some but it was a seasick nightmare for many of us. After 20 straight days of watching people talk to “RALPH” and order “BUICKS” into sea sick bags I never wanted to go out in any boat again. You can bet your sweet butt that I won’t go on a cruise.
The Officers were quartered on the top decks and the enlisted swine lived in the holds below. The soldiers were stacked into beds that literally gave you about two feet above you to the bottom of the bed above. They went from floor to ceiling and reminded me of sardines. The smell kind of reminded me of that also. Actually it was more like a locker room at a fish processing plant but it is my story and I’m sticking to it.
Stubbs was his usual self and in the confines of the boat he slept little and wandered the boat from stem to stern. Like a nocturnal mouse he managed to visit every square inch of the Geiger. Many of the guys found a good book and settled in but not Stubbs. I am not sure his grand plan developed after he found the ¾ inch rope of if the idea spared the search for a rope. Somehow a rope got smuggled below deck and the midnight Body Surfing caper began to unfold.
Late on night or very early one morning, the Geiger made a quick turn and we were all told to go to our lifeboat stations. Nothing was explained and after 17 days of straight-ahead, and up and down, it was very unusual. At our lifeboat stations, we were counted and re-counted until everyone was accounted for. During that time we noticed a lifeboat lowered into the water and someone put in the boat. Finally we were released and went back to our beds. The next morning the rumor mill was working fast and early. I was told an incredible story about how a soldier from my battery had stole a rope and lowered him self out a port hole to try to body surf. For a kid from Kansas, this was just incredible. There was no way that I could visualize body surfing or “trolling for sharks” from a moving passenger ship, oops, boat. The story was that the rope was tied off or secured to a pipe in the head or bathroom and the idiot actually lowered himself to the water. I’m sure that there were many different versions of the story and it wasn’t until later on I got the story from the surfee’s mouth
The Geiger had a hospital unit on board and there were Doctors everywhere. An ingrown toenail had bothered me so I had been having it treated by the Doctors. That was the only way I could have gotten in to the sick bay to really see who it was who was the “Midnight Surfer”. When I saw him, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Stubbs was the culprit and in spite of his inability to get out of bed a Guard was posted by the door to the room he was in. I stopped in to see how he was and to ask what the hell had possessed him to attempt such a thing.
He said he had found the rope and thought that during one of the long nights he would try to body surf. He had lowered the rope down to make sure that it reached the water. He tied the rope to a pipe in the head and tied the other end to his wrist. He then threw everything in between out the porthole. I guess the spray from the ship made the rope slick and about half way down the rope he hit a slick spot and fell about 25 feet with the rope under his arm. He had a major rope burn and when he hit the water, the force of the moving ship had dislocated his shoulder. He was very aware that with the drag of the ship and the dislocated shoulder there was just no way he was going to ever get back up that rope. He began to shout and a fireguard on deck alerted the bridge that there was a man overboard.
Normally when a man goes overboard the ship the ship has to make a circle to go back and pick up the guy. Normally that person isn’t tied to a rope and in this case the sharp turn banged Stubbs on the side of the ship. I guess the barnacles on the side of a ship are like really rough sandpaper and they did another number on his poor body. He looked like he had gone ten rounds with a prize fighter and he didn’t win a prize. All they had to do was lower a boat and put him in it.
We had a good laugh about the entire situation and he admitted that had he not been hurt by the fall he probably could have made a good ride out of that 18-knot body surf. I’ll bet the salt water was a real treat in that raw armpit.
The last time I saw Stubbs he was being carried off the Geiger in Subic Bay naval base in the Philippines. I didn’t stay in our unit long after arrival in Vietnam, so I don’t know if Stubbs was given a Courts Martial or just patched up and sent to Vietnam to marry up with our unit. What I do know is that this incredible story is mostly true and the only errors are one’s caused by omission or poor memory of the events 30 years ago.
I dedicate this little ditty to Stubbs. I have been told that Stubbs made an early departure in this world and is waiting at Fiddler’s Green where all old Artillerymen go. He is waiting there with a canteen full of “Muzzle Blast” for his friends to drop in and share his story. I am sure that he has a smile on his face and joy in his heart as old soldiers swap stories. I doubt there is many that match the Midnight Surfer story.
Baby Monarch Caterpillars start to show up and Barb gives them a hand and protects them. She will take some to her old school for the third grade classes. The baby Monarch Caterpillar is circled in blue.
This little guy is a swallow tail butterfly caterpillar. Looks like a monarch but is more yellow than orange. We have a plant that is covered with these guys.
This is the garden at tecumseh South school that Barb helps maintain. The butterflys love it and it makes Barb proud when she see's it.
The 25 cent question si what the heck is this guy? he is some kind of a caterpillar but we have never see one before. It doesn't have an ened that looks like it is in charge. We now have it in a jar to see what develops.
This is the official 1000 Post on my blog. Hope you enjoy it. I will finish the Midnight Surfer tomorrow.
I asked the Commander how much training the Special Weapons team had been given and he said, ”What team is that?” There had been zero persons selected for the team let alone trained. I immediately went over to the S-2 office to review the manuals. They were all kept there because they had the only safe cleared for Confidential and Secret Documents. It was pretty clear that I had my hands full and a rough week ahead.
I was told that I could hand pick the team out of all the battery personnel and I went back to the 1st Sergeant and asked to see all the battery files. I found five really smart individuals that had all been submitted for a National Agency Check that generally led to a Security Clearances and brought them together to train. I am not sure how much of the training is still classified so I won’t get into the details. We had to accept and assemble a nuclear capable round in a manner that insured it had two people with it at all times and that it was done properly. There was a checklist that if done step by step would ensure that everything was OK.
During my time in the Active Army, I met a world full of interesting characters. The team I picked for the Special Weapons work was all among the best five of the best 100 I had to choose from. One stood out more than the others. Stubbs was a nickname he used so I will use it here to protect the guilty. He had a superior IQ and was almost as full of good stories as I am. He was kind of short, hence the Stubbs nickname. I have been told that his mother called him Rob but his father called him Stub and that name stuck.
The day prior to the evaluation team arriving I got a call from the Battalion S-1. He wanted to know who the hell had selected my team. According to the Army Security Standards, Stubbs was not qualified to be any where near classified information. They wouldn’t share the details with me but to say his National Agency Check came back with some very negative information. I remember looking at his record during the selection process and he was the smartest soldier in the battery. He was a well-spoken young man and seemed very normal to me. My sister-in-law said he was handsome but I’m no one to judge. I’ll tell you more about him later but for now just know he was de-selected from my team for the remainder of the training and the evaluation period. He was given an out briefing by the Battalion S-2 and told he could go to Prison at Fort Leavenworth if he told anyone the classified information he had been shown. I’m sure he is no threat to National Security
The 6th Army team showed up from the Presidio of California (San Francisco) and put us through our paces. They showed us the exact way to do things and gave us no room for errors. The next week we trained about 60 hours and were able to do what exactly the book required process. The battery went to the field and shot most of the week and the SW team sat in a Quonset hut going over each step. There were two other teams there and we all were working hard to do everything right. It was the Blind leading the blinder. There was absolutely no experience on any of the teams so we just did the best we could and followed the steps in order. The preliminary inspection went well and the 6th Army Team came back the next week and we were given our “For the Record” evaluation.
The day of the formal evaluation went so smooth that I don’t even remember much of the details. The big thing I remember is that at the completion they said the 6th Battalion, 84th Artillery was Nuclear Capable and “certified” as such. If you don’t know anything else, just knowing that we were scheduled for deployment early the next year to Vietnam and no Nuclear Weapons were in Vietnam should have told you that this was a horrible waste of time for the unit to go through. The fact it was over was cause for celebration by the teams.
I invited the battery team over to my Bachelor’s Officers Quarters (BOQ) for a party Sunday evening. I bought enough booze and snacks to take care of a party twice the size of the group of four that remained after Stubbs was dismissed. When the guys arrived at my BOQ room, there was Stubbs in the middle of the group. I invited them all in and party hardy was the theme for the evening. After a few beers (Ok, many beers and Scotch on my part) I finally got Stubbs to tell me what the hell had happened in his past that made him so untrustworthy in the eyes of the Government.
Stubbs had earlier volunteered for the Peace Corps. In the 60’s it was a way to take the qualities of the United Stated to the World. It was also a way to be deferred from the draft. I’m sure that Stubbs had volunteered in the Vain of John Kennedy’s words’, “Ask not what your Country can do for you, ask what you can do for your Country”. In their wonderful system they trained him and sent him to Somalia. According to Stubbs the people there did not want anyone to come in and tell them what to do or how to do it. He found himself in an isolated site and as welcome as the plague. They sat around for a couple of months and Stubbs finally went to the leader and said, “Get me the hell out of here”. The leader consulted with his boss and confirmed to Stubs that short of being crazy there was “No way out”. Being an intelligent fellow, as I indicated earlier, Stubbs devised a plan. He took off all his clothes smeared him self with dirt and ran around shouting until they evacuated him as unstable. (This part of the story was told to a bunch of drunks and His family got a different story but hey, it is funny in my book.) For many reasons, one of which was a reported call to the Peace Corps Headquarters to complain about The Peace Corps being in Somalia, Stubbs found his deferment revoked and he was promptly drafted. He was too crazy for the Peace Corps but the US Army wanted him. We all laughed at the story and partied until all, repeat all, of the booze was gone. The guys told me that there was no way that I was sober enough to drive them back to the area and left. For the record, Stubbs had a car at Fort Irwin and may have well been the designated driver. I did not see them arrive or leave so that detail is way too fuzzy to argue over. In truth, I can’t even tell you what Stubbs drank, or if he drank.
I was one of those brand new 2nd Lieutenants and pretty typical. I had a great attitude but almost no experience. I was assigned to a battery that had a 1st Lieutenant as the Executive Officer. The bad news was he had gone to flight school and not to a real unit so his experience level was nil. I was assigned as a Forward Observer and had the additional duty as the supply officer. Little did I know that one job would consume as much time as it would preparing for deployment.
Everything the battery would need to train with was sent through the supply room in the first month or so the unit prepared to train. Unless you have been there you wouldn’t understand the number of parts and tools issued to each of the six howitzer sections. They have all the tools and parts to maintain a howitzer. To say it filled a 10 by 10 box for each section is an understatement. The battery maintenance section had three times as much to store and use. During most of the issue phase I was attending Jungle School or in the hospital from the disease I contracted in training in Panama.
Fort Irwin is basically sand and rocks covered with sand. The north end of Fort Irwin was the south end of Death Valley. It wasn’t where the good Lord would give the world an enema but you could see the insertion point from Main Post. The lack of rain kept it from having much in the way of ground cover. There were some parts of the post covered with scrub brush but a lot more that was just sand. At least two places were dry lakes that were big flat spots covered with salty sand that was covered with a thick crust that was heavily cracked. Absolutely nothing could grow there due to the high salt content. One of those dry lakes would gather all the rain from the surrounding area and grow a brine shrimp once about every twenty years or so. The rest of the time Bicycle lake served as the post airport. The only thing that kept Fort Irwin interesting was there were several mountains along the edges of the post. They weren’t very tall but for a kid from Kansas they were a very novel sight.
At fort Irwin there were very few rules for firing the howitzers. Don’t hit a paved road or hit anyone near the training area. There was no one to report a bad round fired in training unless someone or a road was involved. I have seen many rounds fired that hit wide right of the target area we were firing into. Most of them were fired by other units and not by me.
Our battalion trained as separate batteries at first. The idea was to train small units and then do the collective Battalion training. Each battery would go out and set up in an area and fire at targets. They would fire and move, fire and move until they could emplace the howitzers fast and accurately. The Forward Observers would go out and set up on the edge of a mountain and send “calls for fire” to the unit and then adjust the impact of the rounds. As long as there was a battery to fire, the Forward Observers would be manning their “Observation Posts”.
Most of the time there was nothing for us to do with the battery until someone told us they were ready to accept a mission. It was hours and hours of sheer boredom out there looking at sand covered with a few old tanks and abandoned track equipment hauled there for the artillery to shoot at. The unit that shot at these targets prior to our arrival was a 175mm Gun Battalion and for them to hit a target it was sheer luck. Most of the targets had tank round holes in them from the National Guard Division that trained there but unlike the targets at Fort sill were not blown to smithereens. Tanks in training do not fire a high explosive round but some kind of round that punched holes in targets but didn’t blow them away. Field Artillery rounds are filled with a high explosive and the explosion of artillery rounds would eventually reduce most targets to piles of scrap. At fort Sill, targets were described as a beaten pile of debris so many mills down from the skyline and left or right from a known point. At Fort Irwin they were generally Tanks, bulldozers or Armored Personnel Carriers.
Our Battery Executive Officer (XO) had washed out of flight school and most of us didn’t have an idea why. I found out that he was basically book smart and street stupid. He could explain the theory of the earth but just couldn’t brush dirt off his boots. As the battery Executive officer, he was responsible for placing the guns in each firing position. The Battery Commander would go out and find the next firing position, meet the XO and tell him where to go and when he was to be ready to move. Installing the guns in the next position was the responsibility of the XO and making sure they were firing the correct direction was entirely his responsibility. I guess his inability to read a map and compass combined to cause many errors. At least twice the XO had set up the guns aiming the wrong direction. The first two times the Battery Commander had caught the error and got everything corrected. The last time the battery was aimed the wrong direction; the Post Commander was driving by and saw the guns aimed at Fort Irwin proper. I guess the Colonel drove into the position and pointed out the error. Much to everyone’s chagrin, the XO actually argued with the post commander until invited to get in to the jeep and given a short ride up the road until both the battery and Fort Irwin could be seen. At that time, the post commander drove the XO down onto Fort Irwin proper and dropped him off at the Battalion Headquarters with instructions to come to Post Headquarters with the Lieutenant Colonel, Commander of the Battalion.
Somewhere, the people in Washington have lost sight of the amendment to the Constitution that gives us free speech. In order that you will find out what we care about before it becomes an issue bigger than our Government can handle, we are given the right to speak our piece. Here is my side of the Health Care debate. I am damn sure not a Nazi, a part of a rabble or a Mob.
In 1966, I was promised by our Government that because I was in the service, I would be eligible for medical care for life. Someone changed the rules and soon as I was out of the active Military, unless my need for service from the VA was "Service Connected" I better find my own program. Because of Malaria, I did use the VA for one short period. After that, I have been a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas member and have remained so for over 40 years.
When I turned 60, I became eligible for Tri-Care because of my Military Retirement. I was going to stop my Blue Cross & Blue Shield Insurance until I started to look at the statements from Tri-Care. They didn't pay anything, just applied it all to my deductible. Even when I would have completed filling my deductible, they would only pay my Doctor about 2/3 of what he billed. Even with everything considered, my co-pays made it almost as cheap to keep my Blue Cross and Blue Shield. I have no dental or vision or drug insurance with Tri-Care.
My mother is on Medicare, and to make sure she has what she needs we have to have two additional policies for Part C & D. Even then, she has no vision or dental care just at the part of her life that her teeth are showing the effects of her age.
In order to stave off what was the failure of all failures of our monetary system,you proposed a 300 Billion dollar Bail Out, Stimulus or whatever you finally called it. By the time Congress got around to adding to that Bill, the CBO has placed the cost closer to a Trillion dollars. I find that kind of games with our tax dollars scary. I think it should have been a bill closer to the origional amount but to get everyone at the table the rest was added. That is what most of us think Washington does and your "Change" would make it better not "more"
You are asking me to give the Government control of my health care. How many failed Government programs do we need to talk about before it is painfully aware that our full faith is somewhat damaged. The Social Security Lock Box got raided and all my investment money got spent. We read about the Post Office going broke as we speak. Washington has no hesitation to pass on unfunded mandates to the States Right and Left. How much will Cap and trade add to our utility bills next year?
When you were back on the streets as a coordinator, how many times did you say, "How can you tell if a politician is lying? His lips are moving." Neither of us were born yesterday and I'll bet you have been as amazed at the cost of Big Government when they build a bureaucracy to run a program. I don't think a Government run health Care system will be cheaper because of the number of people that will be hired to run it. Hell, you yourself alluded to the United States Postal Service failing when Fed Ex and UPS are working fine.
Good Luck as you work in the most important job in the US. Unlike some people, I do not want you to fail as what you do is so important to us all. I would like for you and the congress to listen to the people a little but and understand that most of us have a rule that we live by. Income must be greater than or equal to outgo. Give it a shot and see if it doesn't work.
COL, US Army (Ret)
- First of all Kim was right that a good place to start is to energize the base and get out and vote those rascals out. Nancy Boyda here in Kansas lost her seat because people wanted a change. They all should wise up and watch out.
- Jenni would change the State tax to a sales based tax so that consumption drives the amount you pay. By being frugal and not spending so much we might increase savings and reduce the amount of imports we bring in. I don't have a real good handle on this and wonder if there is a law of unintended consequences that might kick in. If we cut consumption will it cause businesses to lay off people as they cut manufacturing and that cause us to spiral down worse? Then, when we start buying the only people that are still in business are the people in China and overseas? At least Jenni has one idea that she wants to try.
- I think I alluded to one solution in post one. As I educate the children (it may be too late to educate the adults) I would give them practical classes in planning and visioning. The easy road just might be the way that people take because they don't know how to set up goals in their lives and how to energize those goals with plans. I know that teachers all ask the children what they want to be at some place and time but do they ever share their road to success. My road started with an intense desire to learn and read. I stumbled into the Military and found a place where I was truly rewarded for hard work. I had no idea that becomming the leader was a good goal and it made me want to get back in school and get a degree. Because I never stopped learning, I found little planning tricks and ideas and it put me on a path to energise new ideas. Goals + Education + Planning skills + hard work = Success. Worked for me!
- The other day I heard a short speech on talk radio that one guy was complaining that he had worked for 27 years and had nothing to show for it. What the hell has he been doing with his money that he now has nothing? I could have bought a boat, new cars and a vacation house at the lake but didn't. I married a great woman that always actively saved money as much as possible and we accumulated wealth. (income must be = to or > than outgo) DUH!
- Accumulate money early and let compound interest help build it for you. I loved to get the statement for my 401 (k) that showed me that the interest paid was as much as my new payments into the account. Buy insurance early when you need it and not later when you don't. Insurance programs are just that, not to build money. I bought a whole life policy very early and after almost 30 years it was all the way up to a cash value of $5,000. I lost almost a grand of that when I cashed it out. That same money would have been $20,000 more than the cost of insurance if I had invested correctly. Oh well... After taking out my cash, I bought 5 times more insurance with the same payment.
- So long as it is supported by the tax laws, buy a house if you can. Pay it off in 15 years with a fixed interest loan and be done with it. Invest at least as much as your employer matches your investment. I recommend at least 7% investment/savings. If you think the car you have is on the road to nowhere, save some money and buy one that has a few more mile left in it. I have driven the wheels off every car I have owned in the last 25 years. Pretty and new = expensive. Pay cash as much as you can.
- There isn't a person out there that would not benefit themselves by taking a planning course and a Money Management course. Franklin and Covey have put together a great planning system and I used it hard and well. The Total Money Makeover is a great investment in time and money. It is not as important what you do as it is that you do something.
- Quit listening to the advertisements that tell you to get the latest and greatest. Wanting what you have is a hell of a lot more satisfying than getting what you want. To me a simple bike ride is about as great as a trip. Buy a good camera and take pictures of the things you love. (In my case it is buy a camera for the person I love and then look at her pictures in awe)
- Teach, coach and love the people you are with. If it is the kids you have, your co-workers or your subordinates. My boss never had to work hard to replace me when I moved up. There was always at least one person I had trained and was ready to replace me.
Once upon a time I complained that the job I had was a hell of a lot of hard work. My boss looked me in the eye and said, "If it was easy, they would hire someone a lot less expensive than you and accept less."
When I was about 14 or 15 my dad had a bunch of tar drip on his head as he was patching a hole in the roof of a shed in our back yard. I don’t think I dripped the tar on his head but you never know and I don’t remember? To remove the tar he used a liquid he called coal oil. I don’t remember where it came from but I suspect it came out of a garage we tore down in Eldorado, KS. (El-dough-raid-o not the home of the gold, El-dough-raw-dough) That coal oil acted as a thinner and not only did it remove that tar, he claimed it cured a really bad case of dandruff. That home remedy is one that I filed in my memory banks for later use.
Sometime later and I’m not sure of the intervening time frame but later on a friend of mine had an old dog that came down with the mange and had large bald spots where the fur was dropping off. One day as we were goofing off in the back yard I mentioned the coal oil remedy to Denny. He was a really fun kid to play with but not the brightest bulb in the pack. I think it was a disease that burned up some brain cells when he was younger that diminished his capacity. Being a consummate follower, Denny couldn’t wait to find some of that miracle coal oil. We searched my dad’s shed and where Denny’s dad stored his stuff. Not a drop of that “New Miracle Cure” could be found. (Yes, I now know that Coal Oil was an old product and not something most people would have a can of) We found a long list of products that could be a substitute but few that we thought would be appropriate to pour on a poor dog’s fur. Denny finally found a gas can with white gas for a coleman lantern and thought that because it came from crude oil that it would be close enough to substitute. I wasn’t sure but hey, it was his dog and his gas.
Needless to say his experiment and application of gasoline to a mange spot turned out to be something we were not ready for. I had heard the term turpentined cat but had never witnessed a gassed dog. That old cur turned into a whirling dervish of snapping, barking, howling and foaming at the mouth critter, much more scary than Steven King’s Cujo. Mostly because we had to imagine Cujo and that dog was right there in real life and pissed off.
Thank god there were piles of large boxes in the yard and I immediately sought refuge on top of one. After a few seconds Denny thought that was a good idea and joined me. The dog continued to run around that box and bark, snarl and act rabid for about five minutes. All of a sudden she dropped on her side and didn’t move. Did she die? Nah, she ran out of gas.
Other than the ending of this story that I have made into a joke the above event did happen. Needless to say we learned a good lesson that day.
- I once had a wise old boss that was up to his armpits in alligators when people would come to him to give him new rules to drain the swamp. He held a staff meeting and installed a new process. If we saw a problem, we were to write a paper. First we would state the problem, the cost of not fixing the problem and three solutions. Those solutions would have a cost listed as nothing is free. People that write editorials in the papers should write three solutions to the problem not just complain.
- The Taxpayers of Shawnee County have funded a great trail around Lake Shawnee. 8 Miles of concrete trails have been built and now the debates are surfacing. The walkers don't want bikes on the trail as they go fast and are dangerous. The bike riders want the people walking on the trail to obey the rules that are clearly posted. I want everyone to read and understand the rules as posted and get along. If you ride fast, slow down. If you walk, stay on the right side of the walkway. If you take children with you, supervise them. If you have a dog don't use one of those 25 foot long leashes that lets them run all over heck. If you plug in your Walkman don't be surprised if people shout at you to let you know they are passing. My last request is for those of us that don't have fenders on our bikes. If you feed the geese, please throw the bread way off the sidewalk so the geese don't gather in one place and crap on the sidewalk. I hate goose poop.
- I would install into the curriculum in high school, a money management course. It would include how to make a budget, how to save money, money vehicles for saving, how to write checks and when not to. The most important thing to understand is how to reconcile the checkbook and understand how much money is there. If there were some simple diversify rules imparted, the Madoff Scheme would have not happened. the higher the return, the higher the risk. The riskier something is, the smaller percentage you can invest there. From low to high the investments should be; your house (50%) your car (10%) your savings (10%) your retirement (7.5%) , Money market (10%), Stock Market (5%) Insurance (5%) and then speculation with the last 2.5%. Big rule- Outgo must not exceed income.
- I would find a way to let anyone that wants an education earn it by some kind of service to our country Like the G.I. bill but the service you perform would not be limited to just Military Service. I do like the basic training concept that the Military uses to get everyone on the same page but after that the training would be OJT. I would use these people in ways that serve mankind right here at home. They would get three hots and a cot and a little pocket money. The real pay back would be the tuition paid education at a State run college.
- I would simplify our government funding bills. First I would make them state the problem they want to fix. Then state what they think it will cost them to fix it. And third I would send home anyone that added anything more to the bill. No add on's any where anytime. If the spending bill is more than three pages, it fails.
- For most of my adult life, I have carried a Military ID. It tells anyone that needs to know who I am and it is the portal to Government benefits. I think we all should have a National identity card if we want anything from the Government. If you like to live without Government benefits, you don't have to have a card. If you want anything that costs the taxpayers a penny, you will have to have a card. No card, you can't get a job. No card, no benefits. Don't tell me that it can't work, Ask anyone in the Military if it works.
- The paper this morning said there is not enough money to fund the DUI laws as they are written here in Kansas. Between the Fuel tax and the Alcohol tax they collect, there should be way enough money to fund better roads and more enforcement of the Laws. It is my opinion that if you get a DUI without an accident you should pay for the mandatory treatment. If you cause an accident you should be allowed to be released to go to work from the jail time you have to serve. Then you should have to pay for your own treatment. Kill someone and you go to Prison and then lose you drinking privilege when you are released. The drug of my choice is Antabuse for those who have been so out of control as to cause the death of another person.
- Every tax must have a sunset provision. Nothing is forever. Most of them will expire when we look at the benefits vs the cost but none the less I would sunset them all.
- If there are people out there that need Health Insurance, Dang it, buy them some. Send the money to the States and get on with the program. Medicaid can handle it not some new Federal program that will employ another hundred thousand zombies. It should be loud and clear that we don't want Congress to screw with our health care. Leave me the hell alone.
- Cap and trade is a Ponzi Scheme and Congress should just throw that crap out and start over. If you want to clean up the environment of CO2, plant some more trees. Hells bells, there are freeways all across America that needs to have a tree planted about every 20 feet along the fence line. Cuts down on sound, cuts CO2, makes America beautiful. Win, Win for everyone. (Except for the water bill to keep those trees alive in Nevada)
- Someone one needs to figure out that if you write a Tax Bill, apply it everyone the same. No loopholes, no exceptions. If you want a bigger house, that is your right. Just don't ask me to give you a tax break because you owe money. Spend the IRS money on enforcement and collection out at the base level of the money and leave the honest taxpayers alone. Take what you need from every source and don't ask me to file every year. Every source includes income (including retirement) interest earned, dividends, barter or whatever you do. Pay it and get it over. Wait - Did I say we need to put all the taxes together and show people what the real tax cost is? Local and Federal Sales and income taxes plus property taxes all in one basket. I think the people fleeing from California will raise the property values in the rest of the States.
- I heard the other day that it costs 300 million dollars (could have been a billion but who is counting) a mile for the new transport system in California. We could hire all the unemployed as rickshaw drivers for what that costs. Cut pollution, cuts unemployment and improves heath. Winner! nah, another program that hires more Federal Employees. Just buy them bikes and install bike lanes.
- Is it nearing the time to give everyone an Internet connection and eliminate the Post Office? Cut the delivery to five days a week at least. Give the job of packages to FedEx or UPS and move on smartly.
- Instead of fighting a War in Afghanistan, really look hard at what that labor pool can do for the world. I'm sure that there are schools all over Central America that need some work. The National Guard would build a School a year in Panama and Belize and just the addition of a new out house was a 100% improvement. Don't send money, send people, supplies and build their infrastructure.
- Pay teachers hundreds of thousands of dollars and pay professional athletes $20,000 to $30,00 per year. Dad gum it, they are just playing a game. Hire extra teachers at every level to help make our education work better. Fire the administrators that do nothing but sit around and think of more things for teachers to do. If it doesn't teach kids and make it better for them, get rid of them. While you are at it, give the parents a programmed text so they can learn what the kids are learning so they can help with fifth grade math. At least put it online.
End of round two.
- First of all, I would do a benefit analysis of the US Budget and if any program doesn't produce a $ benefit for a $ spent, it would get cut. Cut the spending to the level of the benefit and keep the knife sharp. I would ensure that if congress doesn't fund something, it is eliminated not just unfunded. Simple budget rule Outgo equals income.
- I would remind everyone in Government the rights of the people. I don't give a good gal dern if the message ain't pretty from the people, it is their right to say it. If any of our leaders cheat on ttheir wife, their taxes or fail to pay their taxes and they will get sent home with a letter to Their mother. Perhaps spankings with a paddle might be good for 'em.
- I want to find a basic message for all kids to get in school. The basis for that message is do what your momma did and you will get what she got. Do more and do it better and you will get more. Life is not a groove or a rut, it is a highway to change. Get on it and run fast and learn everything you can and you will get to a better place.
- I would elevate Bill Cosby to Secretary of Education. I listened to him tell it like it is the other day and I loved his message. Now is the time for everyone of all races and colors to forget the past and look forward. What was that old cowboy saying? "If you are riding into a fierce wind, lean forward in the saddle. Shouting at it just is a waste of breath."
- Stupid speech is just that. Get smart and say something worth listening to or just shut up.
'Nuff said for today. Listen up y'all.
After 20 years of living in this house, there have been a few repairs needed as there is in any house. Most were things that wore out not from design, but from time and use. In our living room there is a grand window way up high that gives you a view of being outside while sitting on the couch. To say it is barb's favorite place to be is an understatement. Unfortunately, the glass over time lost its seal and moisture condensed between the layers of glass and began to frost the view. Yesterday, a crew from the local glass company came out and replaced that monster window. It took a crew of three all they could do to get the old one out and the new one up and in. The "normal" third person on the crew called in sick and they had a guy that normally installed windshields. He was better than no help but other than when they lifted the window not much better than no help. In fact he caused one pane of the glass to crack when they were taking it down and caused them to have a delay of about 30 minutes while they disassembled the glass rather than have the potential for an emergency. He griped about the set up before they lifted the new glass in place and his suggestion took about 20 extra minutes.
If they would have let me help, I could have saved them almost an hour but neither their insurance, their boss or my back were up for that. I think we all have delusions of being younger, fitter and smarter. I know I do and often find myself on my back for a week when I lift something too heavy.
Barb wanted to keep that one pane of glass so I could incorporate it into the south wall of a building I haven't built - Yet. I'm not sure what it will be but I'll bet it will be out in the sun and be used for her garden stuff. Send a woman to Master Gardner training and they will act like they know something about gardens. I think I'm going to go wake her up and go see the composting demonstration this morning. We have a new composting drum and I am curious about how long we need to keep it before it makes the best compost.
Oh well, much to do and so little time:)
I had been out with these two when they completed their
basic training bivouac. Do you see that one of them brought
me a cold beer?
It is hard to describe the weather other than to say it was brutal heat, wet and monsoon season. Even the non-monsoon season had really good rains when they happened. During the monsoon season it rains, and rains, and rains until everything is so soggy that there is no dry place to be. If you wear a poncho, you would sweat underneath that you might as well stay out in the rain without one.
It was sad for me to see that behind the bullet hole laden walls there was a beautiful country with some great buildings. The biggest problem was that a war had brutalized the place so bad that you never saw a building without bullet holes and on occasion a wall with a tank round hole clean through it. As you flew out across the country, you could see holes where artillery rounds had blown the ground up. Dots and flashes of water would be seen from the hundreds of new small ponds. Where the Air Force had dropped their massive strikes called "Arc Lights" there would be stretches of the earth ripped open a hundred yards wide and what seemed like a mile long. Out in the Ah Shau valley, hamburger hill was stripped completely clean of trees and stood out like a poodle with a lion cut. Most of the hills in II Corps were covered with jungle except for the Artillery Fire Bases where the cannons were located. They were muddy, bare hills that had helicopters coming in an out all the time and artillery fire outgoing in between.
I really can't say much about the politics of Vietnam, as I was a field soldier and seldom in a city. I can say that the average Vietnamese person didn't seem to care much who was in charge. They had been fighting the war since WWII in the 1940's and From the Japanese to the French to the Americans, we were just another group of people intent on killing each other and going home. We did have some soldiers that lived and worked with the Vietnamese but the majority of us were some brutal "sons a bitches". Make that well armed SOB's and you might begin to understand the politics. Most of the Vietnamese I met seemed to be friendly and when supervised would work fairly hard. The farmers really had a tough life and worked darned hard to feed their families. They were often taxed by the South Vietnamese Government and the VC.
My part of the war varied from being out in the field with the infantry to being on a fire support base shooting for those guys out in the field with the infantry. I was assigned to the Battalion Ammunition officer slot for a few months but most of that time I was either flying convoy cover in the back of a bird dog or loaned out to some unit as a Forward Observer.
I have been shot at, mortared, rocketed and generally attacked by people that wanted to kill me. I think I did my best to shoot back with artillery and to protect those men I was responsible for. I have watched men die and I have seen the smiles as they opened letters with pictures of their wives and children. I would describe my time there as hours and hours of sheer boredom with adrenalin packet moments that still wake me up from time to time. Imagine going to Worlds of Fun (or 6 Flags or Knotts Berry Farm) and being in line for the wildest roller coaster. Now, imagine you are always in line and seldom get to bathe or eat a hot meal and with about a hundred people that smell as bad as you do. That was my Vietnam. Oh yes, throw in a gang that every once in a while want to take the roller coaster away from you.