I wrote not too long ago about being in combat. I told you about an LAV getting blown up with a TOW round and how we were absolutely certain that everyone in it was killed instantly. Truth is, when the sun came up and we did our sweep of the battle field, we were shocked to find the driver of that LAV leaning up against the bogie of a burned out tank, sharing a canteen of water with the charred remains of what we presumed was an Iraqi.
The driver whose name I nolonger recall, was ordered to pull into position by the vehicle commander so they could take the shot and had just set the brake when they got hit from behind. He wasn’t wearing his seatbelt and with his head protruding out of the LAV the explosion blew him straight up and out that hatch. There wasn’t a scratch on him. In talking to him, the last thing he remembered was setting the brake and then we came along and interrupted his dream.
Memorial Day is coming and some of us would prefer to crawl into a hole and pull the earth in on top of us. I’ll tune into the airing of the Indy 500 and then just disappear.
If you peel back his thin layer of skin all you’ll find is crap. Lot’s and lots of crap. And what’s really sad about that? The fact that he and the White House think so little of we citizens that they think nothing of lieing to us. They’ve no respect for us. They steal from us our dignity.
Even having had the surgery, I still generally don’t watch much TV but when I do, it’s in the privacy of my bedroom and they shut the door because of the volume. Last evening when the “news” ended I watched an episode of M*A*S*H and then stumbled into a program about CEOs etc., who don disguises and then go to work in their own corporations at the bottom.
Last evening’s episode had the president of Moe’s (fast Mexican food). Within minutes of it coming on the aire, my wife and youngest actually joined me and so we watched it as a family. It was interesting in that the producers gave a brief biography of the guy before he went under cover. For anyone paying any amount of attention it addressed wonderfully the whole bogus bull hockey put out by the left and the whole “Occupy” crowd.
The man grew up in New York where his father worked for Grumman Aircraft (60 hours a week) and on the weekends, ran his own catering business. His dad introduced him to the latter business when he started high school. He learned all about food, business and management. After high school, he went to culinary school where he became a “chef.” Upon graudation from that, he went back to school and got a masters degree in business. He worked his way up the chain for 25 years before becoming the president of Moe’s.
The lesson is simply this: play the game by the rules. Don’t begrudge the folks at the top their salaries and benefits. They didn’t get where they are by demanding that someone give to them what they haven’t earned. Work smarter not just harder. “Fair” is very much subjective. Life’s not “fair.” Get over it. You don’t have to kiss hind end nor do you have to slaughter people to make your way up the food chain.
Amazingly enough, the Bible actually covers all of this quite well. Don’t believe me? Write and ask, I’ll come back and explain.
‘Bout sums it up!
I was stationed first at the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) El Toro in 1983 and because I did such a bang up job auditing health records for a coming inspection — they hadn’t passed an inspection in over 20 years, they sent me to MCAS (H) Tustin. (H) stands for Helicopter. I was assigned the task along with two other guys to straighten out the same mess at Tustin that we’d fixed at El Toro.
I wasn’t supposed to be on duty. The clinic staff was small and we kept the building manned 24/7/365. Someone made a McDonald’s run and had just returned when the ambulance red phone rang. They needed an ambulance over at the ball fields. I agreed to drive so that whomever it was whose job it was to drive the rig that day could stay back and eat lunch.
I and Marty the X-Ray Tech. rolled on it. A Master Sargeant was sliding into home and messed up his knee. Was no big deal. We got him loaded on the stretcher and at that moment a CH-53 E flew over. Again. No big deal. We started moving toward the back of the ambulance and someone from the Provost Marshal’s Office (PMO) keyed up their radio and said “Oh shit! Control! A 53 just rashed into hangar 2!!! What we hadn’t noticed was that immediately after it flew over our heads there was silence. It never registered.
Both Marty and I looked at the MSgt and told him that we were going to take a little detour. He said something about getting him off that stretcher that we were going to REALLY need it. We didn’t get him off the stretcher. We just kind of threw him in the back and took off for hangar 2.
Hangars 1 & 2 are the world’s largest free standing, wooden structures. They were built in 1942 and housed the Navy’s dirigibles. Think about the Goodyear blimp. Each hangar housed about a dozen of them. Back then the base was called “LTA” (Lighter Than Air) and we held onto that name right up until they closed the base down in the 1990s.
Marty and I rolled out onto the road leading to the pads — where the mooring masts used to be, and there before us, laying on its side was a CH-53 E. It broke in half and (typically) debris was scattered everywhere. I keyed up my radio and called for as much back-up as we could muster. The folks at El Toro were listening in and so along with Tustin’s clinic, El Toro rolled their crash and rescue crews.
They’d been practicing combat approaches and landings. That is, we’d circle our LZ (landing zone) at a little over 200 MPH, all of about 100 feet off the deck and then come in tail first, hauling back on the collective at the last minute which would then level us just as the wheels touched ground. Under the tail of a 53 is a retractable tail skid. We painted them with a silverbase coat and then covered it with bright orange. If after the mission any orange paint was missing the pilots had to buy the beer.
They came in for their landing, pulled up on the collective and nothing happen. The rate of decent never slowed and they hit terra firma tail first. That sent the tail rotor up into the crew compartment. The main rotors hit the ground and shattered. At the “Jesus Nut” (where the rotor blades connect to the drive shaft assembly) the rate of rotation is well over 750 MPH (the speed of sound plus), they came apart and went flying across the fields. One rotor blade entered Hangar 2, another skewered a station wagon driving on the main road. A CH-53 has on board a crew of 4 but can carry 25 on top of that in full combat gear. It can carry 50 without the added gear.
Fortunately for all concerned, it was on the crew and no one on the ground had been injured or killed. I remember running around checking over the injuries of each of the 4 before dedicating myself to any 1 individual. It was ugly and I’m pretty sure to those watching, I looked like a chicken running around with my head cut off. I focused on either the pilot or co-pilot. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but as I was calling for back-up as we were approaching the crash site, our other rig was right behind us. We had everyone covered and things were going about as smooth as anyone could possibly hope.
When these things happen, there are procedures that get put into motion. The base goes into lock down and no one is allowed on or off. A flight surgeon MUST be on scene before anyone can move a patient. The flight surgeon has a very specific list of things that MUST be done so that when the non medical types do their investigation into the cause, etc., all questions are answered. It’s all listed in the Safety NATOPS Manual and THAT is the bible.
As it happened, our flight surgeon was off base getting some lunch. Tustin was always considered a sleepy, little, backwater where nothing ever happened. What were the odds that anything WOULD happen over the lunch break? As a matter of fact, the saying was “Rustin’ in Tustin” and everyone who said it, felt bad for those of us assigned there. Judy was off getting lunch and so when she tried returning she was turned away. She was well aware of what had happened because she took with her one of our portable radios. She’d heard it all. She tried explaning to the kid at the main gate that she was the Flight Surgeon on duty and that by reg.s she was required to be on scene. She was not allowed on base.
I’m frustrated with my memory because amazingly enough, I still remember the call signs for El Toro medical, but for the life of me, I can’t recall my own. I EVEN remember the call sign for Range Control at MCAGCC 29 Palms (Bear Matt)! But I have somehow lost Tustin’s. El Toro was “Stick Spinner.” And so it was, that I was supposed to be (whatever call sign) #1, my back up was #2 and then there were Stick Spinner’s #1, 2, 3 and 4. We were all trying to call into El Toro at the same time to give report and everyone believed themselves to be (my call sign) #1. The folks at El Toro Receiving couldn’t make heads or tails of what was going on or how many casualties we had. El Toro was kind enough to send a Flight Surgeon in one of their crash rigs. They got to the back gate and were turned away just as had Judy at the front gate.
We all called Stick Spinner Main to let them know we were rolling to their location and the order was, “Negative! Return to the crash scene and await the arrival of the Flight Surgeon!” We didn’t return. We refused the order claiming mass confusion on the part of everyone walking all over each other’s radio transmissions. It was crazy. I had two patients in the back of my rig and they were being tended to by Marty whose job it was NOT to ride in the back of a rig. I had the MSgt from the ball game and a 1st Lt. who was NOT feeling the love. We arrived at El Toro and were given an ear full for having not followed orders. Everyone survived the ordeal. Everyone but Judy. It ended her career.
We’d made front page news. We were each given a letter of commendation signed by the commanding officer of the base (Colonel Mitchell) and invited to his house for dinner. And I found myself being assigned to HMH-363 as the first Navy Corpsman assigned as a full member of a Marine Corps squadron. I just wish I could remember what our call sign was. I’ve even written to a friend or two who was assigned there. They don’t recall either and probably think I’m nuts for wasting my time trying.
When I was a kid, every year the Monday before Mother’s Day until late in the day Memorial Day my Dad would disappear. He worked for several race teams and the Indy 500 was “it.” Mom would take us over to Dave Johncocks’ house to watch the race on TV. Dave had a vested interest. Namely his brother Gordy was driving and Dad, Gordy and Dave all grew up together street and stock car racing. Dad taught my brother and me how to “drive.” He also taught my sister a thing or two but nothing like what he bestowed upon my brother and me.
I must have been about ten years old when on Mother’s Day, Dad came home from the track to celebrate with Mom her day of appreciation. On the way home he stopped to buy her a gift and thinking very much like a (clueless) man, he purchased a vacuum sweeper. This was apparently the worst gift a man could possibly give his wife. You’d have thought it was the 4th of July at our house. Another one of those lessons Dad taught us.
Dad’s been gone almost 20 years now. And Mom is well, she’s very much “Mom.” When we were kids they took us on a “summer, family vacation” and we traveled to Boone’s Borrough, Kentucky. For months Mom told us about our direct family lineage to Daniel Boone. She made it all seem as though it had all happened just yesterday. I remember going back to school and bragging it up about being a relative of his.
Then after we’d entered adulthood, that subject of our relations came up in passing and suddenly Mom knew nothing. I remember that look on her face as she disavowed and distanced herself from any facts regarding the stories she’d told. Wow. What I’d long suspected but denied was in my face and couldn’t be avoided. So about 15 years ago when Mom began boasting about entering a relationship with none other than Hank Williams, Jr., whose Uncle Jack had purchased Aunt Grace and Uncle Claude’s cottage on the lake, I very much wanted to believe but held my reservations.
For several years Mom would tell about Hanford (Hank) buzzing her house in his plane and how she’d call the FAA to complain. She even made plans to go on tour with him. Stranger things have happened. Right? Then there came months of silence on the subject. So I asked. When’s the tour? Which cities? Ect., etc.. Again came the look and complete denial of any and all of it.
It’s no great surprise then that yesterday on Face Book, when I posted the bit about Dad’s Mother’s Day lesson and the vacuum sweeper that Mom would chime in to say that I tell such awful tales and that this never happened. Trouble is, Dad was a pretty popular guy in the big town of Delton and so a lot of people on my “friends list” knew Dad and knew of the story. Up until Mom’s having chimed in, folks were having a pretty good chuckle. What was intended on my part to be good humor took a turn to the dark side and with it, reality set in. Happy Mother’s Day Mom.
Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and I am at a loss. Don’t get me wrong, physically my mother is very much among the walking. She is a functional Paranoid/Schizophrenic. Conversations with her are tenuous at best. I find myself having to be careful about what topics we discuss. She is very much self centered and is the consumate professional victim: the whole world is out to get her.
Several years ago she decided to join the world of technology and she purchased a computer. She was absolutely convinced that someone broke into her house and bugged her computer. So convinced was she that she called the FBI. She also called for technical support. That phone call took her to India (or some such place). The woman on the other end pulled up her information and noted aloud “I see you’ve purchased two computers.” This sent mom into a tizzy. Mom insisted first that the woman was a part of the plot to bug her computer and then it immediately spun into the “fact” that the woman (being from a third world country) was simply jealous that mom had money enough to purchase two. The conversation was promptly ended without resolution.
Even the simple and the seemingly innocuous act of sending her a Mother’s Day Card runs the risk of being completely misinterpreted and in years past has been proved fact. So what do you do? Me? I actually get on the telephone and make the call.
In the late 1950s up through the late 1960s, the advancement of the jet age of aviation brought forth an overwhelming amount of information. So much so that pilots in Vietnam found themselves turning off a lot of the guages and instruments in their cockpits. Shutting things down allowed them to better focus on the immediate tasks at hand.
Last night I made the dreaded mistake of asking Mrs. Doc to read “1125535.” When she finished her only response was “Needs editing.” What a huge let down.
I awoke this morning feeling exhausted. At work, she’d scheduled without discussion, a “Doc Only” dog who arrived before I’d even had a chance to get through a coffee or my morning thoughts. In frustration I asked for a labotomy. That would make things far less painful. I hate interruptions.
My ears are killing me and I find myself without tolerance and empathy this morning. I’ve 4 people all talking at the same time, the radio playing, dryers flooding me with noise and dogs barking. The urge to kill is so overwhelming. Add to this, I’ve noticed degradation in my ability to hear (already). Don’t know if I should be relieved or frustrated. I know that I’m frustrated when people talk to me and turn away. If I can’t see your lips, I can’t really get what you’re saying.
For Bre. A little bit country.
I was nine years of age when I was found guilty of having taken the apple. A child of the street, they called me “street urchin.” I was guilty it’s true. I took the apple with no intention of paying. How could I? They’d refused to hire me. No honest day’s work. No honest day’s wage. It was take the apple or die. I chose the apple. For this crime of choosing life, I was made to do hard time. I survived imprisonment just as I had the street.
On the anniversary I suppose of my thirteenth year I was summoned to the head magistrate’s office. There I was made to lay on my back and the chief justice supervising, the head guard straddled me, burying the full weight of his knees deep into my upper arms: brandished a longshoreman’s knife and with his sweat, drool and saliva dripping on my face, with glee in his eye, commenced to carve into my brow my number of incarceration. “1125535.” This they said was to forever tell people exactly who I was regardless of where I went. And when they were done with me, they turned me loose. This is the story of my birth and freedom.
Several years passed and the odd and peculiar humor of fate found me employed as the assistant of the head magistrate. Upon my release years before I took the burning embers from the fireplace of the Monsignior’s palace and burned from my brow those damning numbers. The latter was a pain I would gladly bear over the scars given me.
So come the day of reconning I summoned the same head guard. I had every intention of returning to him that same favor he’d found fit to bestow upon me. In my face he saw familiarity but could not recall and so it was that I sought to extract my justice. I ordered him to lay flat upon the cleared desk and I straddled him with my eighteen year old knees buried deep into his upper arms. I pulled my knife.
I recall looking passed his eyes and having every intention of carving into him “5 pens, 10 pens, 50 pens annual.” I’d long dreamed of this day. Planning every cut to its exquisit drop of filth and blood. The blade was to go in at a glorious 30 degree angle from crown to toe and then was to be repeated toe to crown. This would begin the top of the five. My blade penetrated his dirty hide and blood was spilt. I looked down upon him as he’d done me and I remember his wincing and a tear crept up in the canthus of his eye. He struggled not to show the pain I was inflicting.
It occured to me just then, that this act was reducing me to nothing short of a dog. I knew at that moment that I could not continue. The tormentor of my youth was but an animal, grounded in such fashion by his own convictions. I am a gentle man and so I let him go and in so doing, I discovered the key and unlocked the door to my own freedom.