Wednesday, May 29, 2013

They May Have Died In Vain But They Lived In Honor

Thanks for the remembrance. Memorial Day is always a sad time to me. The NY Times had this really moving story showing how meticulous the bodies of deceased soldiers at the morgue at Dover were dressed in their uniform for the final goodbye from family. These young soldiers often unrecognizable, yet their uniforms were prepared with the most arduous care. So sad and yet inspiring. War is such a terrible thing. We have made grivious errors, at least to me--The mistakes of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

When I was a young soldier in Vietnam, I had to go to Dover, DE. as I was escorting a soldier in my unit for burial in his hometown. I will say this for the military: they spare no effort to honor our dead in war and they rightly should. At Dover, I was overwhelmed by it all.

My thoughts in our history of not making the best decisions, there should be a "Dover" test. Caring Americans (and not all Americans care) need to feel that our soldiers who end up at Dover--killed in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan did not die in vain. I am not sure we can do that but what we can assert: THEY MAY HAVE DIED IN VAIN BUT THEY LIVED IN HONOR. Sergeant Phil Woodall, in his book of poetry, Rhymer In The Sunset.


"10 Vietnamese," is an old book from the library of a journalist in Vietnam and the Phillipines for the better part of 30 years, Jim Belden. The book was written by Susan Sheehan, wife of a "NY Times" Reporter and author of "A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam," about the common Vietnamese: peasants , North/South Vietnamese, soldiers, Vietnamese merchants, etc.

On the one hand, a realization of how awful our involvement in that sorry war, meaning our asses should have stayed out of it. However, we have to deal with the long arm of history. Had we stayed out, many Vietnamese who are arguable the most successful emigrant group in America could not have been a fraction as successful in Vietnam, or at all, i.e, tending a rice paddy as opposed to owning a nail salon. So...

Monday, May 27, 2013


When a group of old warriors gather, it's hard to know what will come out of it. Have we heard all the war stories? No, never, even if the same ones are told with a different slant. Here's one that 3d Platoon, Delta Company, 1/501st Airborne Infantry, 101st Airborne Division, told with a new purpose. At the latest gathering, we had a special visitor, Jimmy Stevens, the brother of one of our guys, killed in one of the longest battles of the Vietnam war.

The brother has, for the last several years, made it somewhat of an obsession, in the best sense of the word, to contact members of his brother's unit--Those who knew him, those who might have known him, even those who didn't know him. Over the course of several years, he's made great friends with most of his brother's fellow soldiers. And, now of course, here he was face to face with those who had been with his brother when he died. A warm atmosphere as various ones recounted the story of the battle, from their perspective. The brother, Danny, had joined up at 18. Simple, said by Jimmy, "My brother, Danny, ran toward being the best he could be, regardless of the difficulty and sacrifice and not away from it."

When Danny was killed, a prolonged battle had already taken place, several hours in fact. In a cemetery. (Americans often sought refuge in a cemetery because the VC and NVA shied away from them as spooky).

In late afternoon, the battle started. Horrendous and raged on through the night. At the north end of the cemetary, the NVA had established an extremely effective firing line. In regular fashion, the NVA soldiers would pop up and fire, mostly concealed by the mound of built-up dirt, indicating a grave. It was one of these, on the far left, behind one of the graves, that an NVA soldier shot Danny Stevens through the heart. Norm Campbell, the best shot by truth and reputation viewed the scene. With a mounted bipod (A bipod is used to steady a weapon and make it more accurate, usually fired from a pronged position. Often used by snipers) on his M16, he waited. The NVA popped up again. Norm sent a round right between his eyes.

Danny's brother, most assuredly, could now know how his brother died and if it was comforting, how he was avenged.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


Hey there friends and fellow citizens.
Adam (patriotic and home sick!)
Hope you have a lovely Memorial Day.
God Bless America.With very best wishes to everyone, and with grateful remembrance of all the brave men and women who have died defending our great country, which despite all it's faults, remains a nation founded on the greatest ideals and highest principles ever articulated in a written constitution, penned by the most noble and inspiring brotherhood of men I know of.

Looking forward to coming back some day. Adam (A Brit, who was a regular with these old guys called the "Girlfriends." He was in the youth Dept.) married a fellow Brit and moved back home. We still miss him.

Adam, thank you. We still
miss you and often say, "wonder how Adam is doing?" Thanks for the comments about "Merica" as we call it. As we say in the South, we are between a "rock and a hard place." A dysfuncinal congress that needs to be fired but we have a system which doesn't give us the chance to do it--Too controlled by self interests. But, I am convinced that the Americans who care are determined to fight through the utter paralysis of Washington. God bless you. My best to Bet and big hug for "Liberty Bell" (daughter).

Thursday, May 23, 2013


STORIES WE TELL. I read about this documentary in the NY Times, then heard the film maker interviewed by Terry Gross (my favorite Interviewer) on Fresh Air (NPR). I saw the film and then read the reviews. I immediately wondered if we'd seen the same movie. First of all, it was very boring. The story: the Mom has an affair, daughter and family basically discover this way down the road, although a couple of the family members say they suspected. The "secret" is that the film maker's dad who raised her and biological father are not one and the same.

And, to be honest, the duped dad and the biological father are equally dull. I know scores of families that have greater secrets and are much more attractive. One comes immediately to mind: a High School girlfriend. The subject of the movie and my girlfriend even look alike. My friend Becky was so "alive" as was the Mom of the documentary. Becky as a teenager was innovative and creative, energetic to a fault--always at the center of activity. I was way too "slow" to keep up with her. As I trip down memory lane, I think, "What a shame," in a sense, as we "play the hand we're dealt." Her parents were wonderful folks but were "survivors" themselves and didn't know how to nourish the creativity of this incredible daughter they had. Now, as I look back with the long lens of our history, I can see this.

Consequently, I am revising my view of STORIES WE TELL. See it. If a movie causes a stir in your memory bank i.e., this wonderful person who crossed my path at a significant time in life, I have to say, thanks for the memories.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Rarely do I empathize with the generals. I used to think, "what the hell is it with all these generals with a chest full of lettuce (medals)." But, I will have to say that watching them on TV recently being battered, I felt sorry for 'em.

I don't know what the f..k it is with these sexual assaults. The perpetrators need to be strung up by their heels and their gonads cut off. That being said, those of us who want to "step back" a bit are accused of being part of the problem. Bullshit. An example, a lawyer friend of mine and me were attempting to dialogue. I was trying to present an idea, the military is not a social service organization. It has one purpose: "to fight and win wars." He got his drawers all in a bunch. "Well, you think rape is OK." F..k No! Rape or sexual assault is never all right.

An aside: All fields of service, to include combat, have to be opened up to females, plain and simple; but, let's get real here. Men and women will reflect their society, they always do. They get together. (hook up). Let's don't lose sight of the mission. FIGHT AND WIN WARS. Men are stupid. Their brains, more than likely are in the wrong, "head."

I have faith in the system that those in authority who abuse their position will be punished but just because they are men doesn't make them all guilty. If every time someone tries to defend the system, they are accused of pandering to the guilty, they will shut up and that hurts us all.

A last thing: do we think that the "Special Operations Troops" that overthrew the Taliban and killed Bin Laden are in reality, Sunday school teachers in their off time. I don't think so. We have some "bad actors" as soldiers and this is said with respect to these exceptional and highly trained and wound tight troops. They can do a hundred push-ups with either hand and leap tall buildings with a single bound. Get the idea? In combat, we don't have time to debate the role of gender, we are closing with and killing the enemy. THIS IS WAR and let's keep all this in perspective.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


What do u think of all these Obama scandals? Benghazi, IRS targeting of conservatives, monitoring reporter phone calls. Are u going to write about it? I think my republican house members forming all these committees to investigate, it will just make them look bad... I am sure there is bias targeting in Obama administration. Not saying that the Obama administration should do any thing illegal but republicans need to get over it and deal with this guy for the next 3 years

I have several thoughts. First of all, how can the IRS be this stupid but they are. In the age of Twitter, FB, please!!! I haven't really heard how it came out. The IG for one thing. It is a mess. Somebody along the way f..ked up and it could be a few midgets, meaning "low on the totem pole" types but who had a philosophical view of how f..king disastrous the budget cutting like the Republicans wanted to do. Things like this probably go on much more than we think. Most of the time, it is detectable. And, the thing that is overlooked is that these people were opting for a tax break. It is not like individual income tax returns were targeted. I am not defending the culprits and their stupidity. But, things happen, people are stupid, they even make mistakes. Sometimes they are criminal. And, now, what is worst is that we have to put up with this self righteous bullshit. I have little patience with Congress in general. They are mostly a self serving collection of charlatans. We ought to be investigating them. When they were recently inconvenienced with plane delays, their sorry ass jumped right on it. Why doesn't somebody make a campaign out of their salaries and benefits. 2 quick opinions. Most of this "tea party" types and these other conservative groups are a f..king bunch of zeolots and they are guided by, "don't confuse me with facts, I have my mind made up. (2) The IG has a job to find some problem. Just that simple. That is his job, good or bad, find a problem. Having talked to many IGs (Inspector General) over the years, the IG can be the problem themselves. They are a type of zealot. They often are simply not objective but are shielded as if they were.

I hate bullshit like this because it takes away from tackling the real problems in the country. Am I biased? f..king

Sunday, May 12, 2013


Grieving is a lifelong process and becomes a part of our living life more than we care to admit. Unfortunately, nothing we can do about it. Death is a pervasive part of life, in one way or another. In our country, we have not had to confront the reality as others have. Syria, for instance, where death is daily assured to be a part of a tragic existence. And, of course, we are shocked at tragedies like Boston and West, Texas.

Regardless, the philosophical views of death do not minimize a single one. And, all death is not equal. Here's an example. I recently received a call from a daughter telling me about her Mom, 85, who is very sick. A wonderful person and basically has lived her life to the fullest, some of which I witnessed up close. I was immediately struck by a contrast of a tragedy in the same community. A high school youngster and her father were killed in an auto accident. A community wide memorial is schedule for tomorrow (Monday, May 13). This youngster, who goes by the name of KI, has not had a chance to live her life yet. No, all death is not equal. For KI, No graduations, college, marriage, career, children. GRIEF. So sad.


MOTHER'S DAY. My wife said about
Mother's day, "tell the kids that the greatest gift is their family." Plus, flowers for Rose's mom, in honor of Rose. This has become a bit of a ritual: I go to my favorite flower shop in North Beach, looking for a flower called, Lilly of the Valley. They don't have it. I go to Trader Joe's--they have great flowers. Some knowledgeable woman tells me that Lilly of the Valley is a specialized flower that we don't have in America. What! It is not that I don't believe her but go to Safeway where they seem to have a variety of flowers, also. A young Asian lady offers to help. It is hard to convince her that I am not talking about "Lillies." I finally give up and pick out a beautiful mixed bouquet and literally run up Taylor Street to Rose's house. It is a pretty tough climb. In my mind's eye, I can see Rose smiling.

I ring the bell at Rose's house. I hear the phone ringing. Just as Rose's mom opens the door, the answering machine comes on. It is Rose's voice on the answering machine message. Her Mom has never changed it. I am deeply touched in hearing Rose's voice. It is like Rose is making her presence felt. I am so glad that I followed my instincts and got flowers. I definitely know it was Rose.

Friday, May 10, 2013

SC, As A State of Nuts

To me, the election of Mark Sanfort back to Congress in South Carilina has nothing to do with the fact he lied but mainly that the MFer has had his chance. He was a Congressman in this same district and was governor when he went on his infamous hiking trip chasing the "love of his life." Get the f..k out of the way and give somebody else a chance is what could have happened. Forget that! Are we dreaming? His election proves a very sad fact: we have a broken system and we can't fix it. The people of SC would elect an "orangutan" if he/she was a Republican. They don't think and could give a s..t less. And it is not going to change. CONGRESS IS NOT GOING TO REFORM ITSELF. We all know what the problem is. It is not the Mark Sanfords of the world. It is the f..king stupid electorate that votes him in. Good luck.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

The Electorate

To me, the election of Mark Sanfort back to Congress in South Carilina has nothing to do with the fact he lied but mainly that the MFer has had his chance. He was a Congressman in this same district and was governor when he went on his infamous hiking trip chasing the "love of his life." Get the f..k out of the way and give somebody else a chance is what could have happened. Forget that! Are we dreaming? His election proves a very sad fact: we have a broken system and we can't fix it. The people of SC would elect an "orangutan" if he/she was a Republican. They don't think and could give a s..t less. And it is not going to change. CONGRESS IS NOT GOING TO REFORM ITSELF. We all know what the problem is. It is not the Mark Sanfords of the world. It is the f..king stupid electorate that votes him in. Good luck.

Monday, May 06, 2013


PRESIDENTIAL SLUSH FUND. We can't be this stupid but I think we are. President Karzai of Afghanistan says he has been assured that piles of dollars will continue to be delivered to him in wheel barrels. He is absolutely correct. We have given the CIA a blank check. WE ARE IN FACT THIS STUPID.


In my mind, there is absolutely no difference in the NRA and radical Islamists. Guys like LaPierre are the radical Imans inciding the ignorant and uneducated to violence.

Sunday, May 05, 2013


This month is the commemoration of when 22 American soldiers were killed at one time, in the same Unit in the Vietnam war. At that time in May of 68, it was the single most Americans killed in one action, Charley Company, 1/501 Airborne Infantry, 101st Airborne Division. Each year platoon survivors and a few straphangers (paratrooper term, roughly meaning, in this instance, extras who just showed up) gather to honor fellow soldiers from that action. I will never forget it. When we got word at the TOC (tactical operations center), I was one of the first one to arrive, along with Alpha Company for security purposes. The platoon had gone through this little ville (hamlet) and had swept it but then made the mistake of coming back without sweeping it again. The very cunning VC (Vietcong) had come in behind the platoon and planted booby traps and had positioned a sniper to force them to take cover. The carnage cannot fully be described.

Think of the Boston Marathon bombing and multiply it by six or seven. This is just a thought. Every year forever, this terrible act in Boston will be commemorated as it has been burned into our psyche. For our comrades with this dubious distinction, most soldiers lost in war, in one action, only a few of us will gather to remember and honor them.

Saturday, May 04, 2013


All over America, teenagers are beginning to wrestle with thoughts of the prom. In the day, we called it the "Junior/Senior." The "Juniors" did the heavy lifting. In our little town we had this National Guard Armory that we decorated for the big dance. It was something. Thank the Lord for memories. They can be like a gentle ocean breeze, like the old home place that feels good to revisit. The memories are there, at times strong, at times weak--the perfect combination of old and new. The smiles and the occasional stress. Prom is pure happiness. It's the prom date. It's the prom dress.

And sometimes, there's sadness: a friend recently told me this story. A patient was in chemo. The final stages of a dreaded cancer. A daughter is preparing for the prom. They shop for the dress. The patient is so happy as they find the perfect one. She will never make it to shop for that future wedding dress but she made it for the prom dress. The patient died just before the prom.