"Sharing can be a way of healing. Grief and loss can isolate,
anger even alienate. Shared with others, emotions unite
as we see we aren't alone. We realize others weep with us."
~Susan Wittig Albert

Through our writing, we walk out of the darkness into the light
together, one small step at a time, recording history, educating
America, and we are healing.
~CJ/Todd Dierdorff

Friday, December 30, 2011

ZIT 990 Homecoming

By Annette Lawless | annette.lawless@fox8.com
Staff Writer

ASHTABULA, Ohio— Army veteran Nate Shaffer, of Spencerville, returned home from the Vietnam War over forty years ago.  Now, he has a new homecoming to celebrate.

"I started looking for the pilots and crew members back in 1994, and I started looking for 990 also," he said.

In the 1990's, Shaffer started searching for the ZIT 990, a helicopter he flew every day in Vietnam. Shaffer was a gunner, and the unit had a vital life--even beyond his military tour.

"It had like 21 world records for flight," he said. "It flew with the National Guard in Chicago.  Then it flew in the national guard in New York. Then it went with Texas Border Patrol."

Yet this past year, Shaffer heard the government planned to scrap the chopper. He had other plans for it.  "If I could just find the helicopter I flew in, I`d like to acquire it somehow," he said. "That's all that I wanted."

With the help of congressional representatives--and of course his persistence--Shaffer trucked it all the way down to Arizona and then brought it back to Ohio.  "I kept it for 18 days" he said. "We stripped it down, cleaned it, and even sanded and painted it. It looks exactly like it did back in Vietnam. "

When Bruce Campbell saw ZIT 990, he said it was like a step back in time.  "I got goose bumps. I had the biggest goose bumps, and I had them everywhere," said Campbell, Shaffer's pilot during the war. "When I sat down in the seat, looking at the console and stuff, lots of thoughts go rushing through my mind. I mean, so much so that, well, you kind of don't go there."

The helicopter is now on a platform at Motts Military Museum in Groveport, Ohio, putting ZIT 990 closer to fellow Vietnam gunner Russ Houser of Youngstown.  "It's hard to explain. You get some real flashbacks," Houser said. "It's very special to all three of us."

Yet, for Shaffer, this isn't the only piece of the war that's resurfaced in recent years.  A fellow soldier once surprised him with the dogs tags he lost in Vietnam.  Another veteran also had a surprise for him.  It was at a reunion.  "He brought back a pair of jump wings that I once had and thought I'd lost. The wings were lodged in a bunk where I slept. He dug them out and kept them for twenty-five years," Shaffer said. "It was unbelievable."

Shaffer said he prizes the bonds of friendship he's built after the war.  Now he, Campbell, and Houser are all reunited with a piece of the war they cherish most -- ZIT 990.  "The slight chance we had of getting it, but I thought about it all the time. I'm going to get, I'm going to get it," Shaffer said. "I was determined to get it. And luckily, it did work out that I basically did get it."

Copyright © 2011, WJW-TV

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

What's a Vietnam Vet?

Just before Veterans' Day, a college student named Adam was working on a school assignment in which he was supposed to obtain original narratives from "people old enough to have actually been in Vietnam."

 Having been there, L. Daniel Mouer asked how he could help. Adam asked him to respond to the question "What is a Vietnam Veteran?" This is what Mr. Mouer wrote:

"Vietnam veterans are men and women, dead or alive, whole or maimed, sane or haunted. We grew from our experiences, or were destroyed by them, or we struggle to find some place in between. We lived through hell or we had a pleasant, if scary, adventure. We were Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Red Cross, and civilians of all sorts. Some of us enlisted to fight for God and Country, and some were drafted. Some were gung-ho, and some went kicking and screaming.

Like veterans of all wars, we lived a tad bit--or a great bit--closer to death than most people like to think about. If Vietnam vets differ from other vets, it is primarily because many of us never saw the enemy or recognized him or her. We heard gunfire and mortar fire but rarely looked into enemy eyes. Those who did, are often haunted for life by those eyes, those sounds, those electric fears that ran between ourselves and our enemies, and the likelihood of death for one of us. Or we get hard, calloused, tough. All in a day's work. Life's a bitch then you die. But most of us remember and get twitchy, worried, sad.

We are crazies dressed in cammo, wide-eyed, wary, homeless, and drunk. We wear Brooks Brothers suits doing deals downtown; we are housewives, grandmothers, and church deacons; we are college professors engaged in rational pursuit of the truth about the history, politics or culture of the Vietnam experience; and we are sleepless. We are often sleepless.

We pushed paper, pushed shovels. We drove jeeps, operated bulldozers, built bridges; we toted machine guns through dense brush, deep paddy, and thorn scrub. We lived on buffalo milk, fish heads and rice. Or C-rations. Or steaks and Budweiser. We did our time in high mountains drenched by endless monsoon rains or on the dry plains or on muddy rivers or at the most beautiful beaches in the world.

We wore berets, bandanas, flop hats, and steel pots. Flak jackets, canvas, rash and rot. We ate cloroquine and got malaria anyway. We got shots constantly but have diseases nobody can diagnose.

We spent our nights on cots or shivering in foxholes filled with waist-high water or lying still on cold wet ground, our eyes imagining Charlie behind every bamboo blade. Or we slept in hotel beds in Saigon or barracks in Thailand or in cramped ship berths at sea.

We feared we would die or we feared we would kill. We simply feared, and often we still do. We hate the war or believe it was the best thing that ever happened to us. We blame Uncle Sam or Uncle Ho and their minions and secretaries and apologists for every wart or cough or tic of an eye. We wonder if Agent Orange got us.

Mostly, we wish we had not been so alone. Some of us went with units, but many, probably most of us, were civilians one day, jerked up out of "the world," shaved, barked at, insulted, humiliated, de-egoized and taught to kill, fix radios, and drive trucks. We went, we put in our time, and then were equally, ungraciously plucked out of the morass and placed back into the real world. But now we smoked dope or drank heavily. Our wives or husbands seemed distant and strange. Our friends wanted to know if we shot anybody.

And life went on. It had already been going on, as if we hadn't been there, as if Vietnam was a topic of political conversation, a college protest, or just news copy, and not a matter of life and death for tens of thousands.

Vietnam vets are people just like you. We served our country proudly, reluctantly, or ambivalently. What makes us different -- what makes us Vietnam vets -- is something we understand, but we are afraid nobody else will understand. But we do appreciate your asking.

Vietnam veterans are white, black, beige and shades of gray. Our ancestors came from Africa, Europe, Asia, or crossed the Bering Sea land bridge in the last Ice Age and formed the nations of American Indians, built pyramids in Mexico, or farmed acres of corn on the banks of Chesapeake Bay. We had names like Rodriguez, Stein, Smith and Kowalski. We were Americans, Australians, Canadians, and Koreans ... but most Vietnam veterans are Vietnamese.

We were farmers, students, mechanics, steelworkers, nurses, and priests when the call came that changed us all forever. We had dreams and plans, and they all had to change...or wait. We were daughters and sons, lovers and poets, beatniks and philosophers, convicts and lawyers. We were rich and poor -- mostly poor. We were educated or not -- mostly not. We grew up in slums, in shacks, in duplexes, in bungalows and houseboats, hooches and ranches. We were cowards and heroes -- sometimes we were even cowards one moment and heroes the next.

Many of us have never seen Vietnam. We waited at home for those we loved. For some of us, our worst fears were realized. For others, our loved ones came back but never would they be the same.

We came home, marched in protest marches, sucked in tear gas, and shrieked our anger and horror for all to hear. Or we sat alone in small rooms, in VA hospital wards, in places where only the crazy ever go. We are Republicans, Democrats, Socialists, Confucians, Buddhists and Atheists -- though as usually is the case, even the atheists among us sometimes prayed to get out of there alive.

We are hungry, or sated, full of life or clinging to death. We are the injured, or we are healers, despairing or hopeful, loved or lost. We got too old too quickly, but some of us have never grown up. We want desperately to go back to heal wounds and revisit the sites of our horror. Or we want never to see that place again, to bury it, its memories, its meaning. We want to forget, and we wish we could remember.

Despite our differences, we have so much in common. There are few of us who don't know how to cry, though we often do it alone when nobody will ask "what's wrong?" See, we're afraid we might have to answer.

Adam, if you want to know what a Vietnam veteran is, get in your car or cage a friend with a car to drive you. Go to Washington. Go to the Wall on Veterans Day weekend. There will be hundreds there ... no, thousands. Watch them. Listen to them. I'll be there. Come touch the Wall with us. Rejoice a bit. Cry a bit. No, cry a lot. I will. I'm a Vietnam Veteran and, after all these years, I think I am just beginning to understand what that means ..."

Copyright 1996 L. Daniel Mouer, all rights reserved. (Soon to be published as a chapter in Dan's forthcoming book Warbaby: Surviving the Sixties and Beyond.)

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

Friday, December 16, 2011


This came in an email to me from a friend of ours, Al Comeau.  The film is excellent and I proudly salute the eleven men who were awarded the Certificate of Recognition.


Thanks for following me on Twitter (NamVet65) and I would like to share with you a film where I was interviewed for my service along with 10 other veterans who served in conflicts from WWII to the current Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).

The film was presented on Veterans Day 2011 at the University of Connecticut - Waterbury, Connecticut Campus and where we eleven veterans were awarded certificates of recognition for our service by U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Congressman Christopher Murphy, both of Connecticut.

The film is: ELEVEN

Something to remember and that I quoted during the time I was with the production staff was, and I quote: "Courage is Fear Holding on for a Minute Longer." (General George Patton). The Eleven veterans interviewed in the film shared that same sentiment.

I also said that the ability to survive under extreme combat is to accept the fact that you WILL die and only then will COURAGE become your greatest ally in that fight against overwhelming odds. I guess the same can be said for each of us who travels the path of life.

Dying is inevitable and life's struggles will become less stressful, if we could all accept our ultimate fate. A little FAITH in what might await us in the hereafter doesn't hurt, either.

I have submitted material in the past that you have been so kind to place on your blog, Memoirs From Nam, and now, perhaps, you can put a face to my name.

Thanks for all that you do and a "Merry Christmas" season to you.

Al Comeau
Vietnam Veteran (US Army)
Volunteer, Veterans Service Officer
Telephone: (203) 419-0378 (Home)
(203) 597-7687 (Cell)
E-mail: ahcomeau1969@comcast.net

***Merry Christmas to you, too, Al, and again, Welcome Home my friend.

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Thursday, December 15, 2011


On Jeopardy one evening, the final question was, "How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier?" All three contestants missed it.

This is really an awesome sight to watch if you've never had the chance to see it.  It's fascinating.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier:

1. How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns and why?

21 steps: It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute which is the highest honor given any military or foreign

2. How long does he hesitate after his about face to begin his return walk and why?

21 seconds for the same reason as answer number 1

3. Why are his gloves wet?

His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle.

4. Does he carry his rifle on the same shoulder all the time and,if not, why not?

He carries the rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb. After his march across the path,he executes an about face and moves the rifle to the outside shoulder.

5. How often are the guards changed?

Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.

6. What are the physical traits of the guard limited to?

For a person to apply for guard duty at the tomb, he must be between 5' 10' and 6' 2' tall and his waist size cannot exceed 30".

They must commit 2 years of life to guard the tomb, live in a barracks under the tomb, and cannot drink any alcohol on or off duty. They cannot swear in public for the rest of their lives and cannot disgrace the uniform or the tomb in any way.

After two years, the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying they served as guard of the tomb. There are only 400 presently worn. The guard must obey these rules or give up the wreath pin.

The shoes are specially made with very thick soles to keep the heat and cold from their feet. There are metal heel plates that extend to the top of the shoe in order to make the loud click as they come to a halt.

There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform. Guards dress for duty in front of a full-length mirror.

The first six months of duty a guard cannot watch TV. All off duty time is spent studying the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.  A guard must memorize who they are and where they are interred. Among the notables are:

President Taft,
Joe Lewis {the boxer}
Medal of Honor winner Audie L. Murphy, the most decorated soldier of WWII and of Hollywood fame.

Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty..


In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington , DC, our US Senate/House took 2 days off with anticipation of the storm. On the ABC evening news, it was reported that because of the dangers from the
hurricane, the military members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were given permission to suspend the assignment. They respectfully declined the offer, "No way, Sir!" Soaked to the skin, marching in the pelting rain of a tropical storm, they said that guarding the Tomb was not just an assignment, it was the highest honor that can be afforded to a service person. The tomb has been patrolled
continuously, 24/7, since 1930.

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Foxhole Christmas

This poem was written from a foxhole on the front lines in Rollesbroich, Germany on December 25, 1944, while Cleburne R. Martin was serving with the 78th Lightning Division of the U.S. Army.  One year later, on Christmas Day, Martin was on a ship headed back home to Mineral Wells, Texas.  He died on Christmas Eve, 2002.

Christmas in a Foxhole
by Pfc. Cleburne R. Martin, Christmas Day, 1944

I guess the way I should begin
Is “Peace on earth, Goodwill to men,
”But over here, it is differently told
With shells and bullets and life in a hole.

Now Hans and Fritz just over the way
Don’t seem to know that it’s Christmas Day,
Or maybe they value their exploits bold
And choose to live out here in a hole.

We have the trees, the ice and snow,
But to places like this old Santa don’t go;
If he were here, I’m sure he’d say,
“What an awful place to spend Christmas Day.”

The thing in life that drives us on
Is a spot in the States that we all call home,
And though our loved ones are far away,
They’re with us in spirit this Christmas Day.

When it will end, we do not know,
This miserable life in the rain and snow:
But for one thing I earnestly pray –
Unoccupied foxholes next Christmas Day.

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Vietnam Christmas 1967

By Lee Miracle, with Terry Bender

Our unit was the 1st 14th Inf, 3rd Bgde, 4th Inf Div, Golden Dragons, and our Company was Echo (E). Three of the platoons in our company were mortar platoons, and we were the Recon Platoon for the 1st 14th. Our code name was Fox Force.

Several days before Christmas 1967, we were sent out on patrol. The main task was patrol, but we did lots of ambushing also. We were right in the middle of Monsoon season, and it was raining day and night. It would get so cold at night, that I could not sleep for the chattering of my teeth. The only cover we had was our ponchos and liners.

We had been on patrol for several days, and everything we had was soaked beyond belief...soaked to the point where your skin begins to wrinkle. I was a machine gunner, and we were trying to keep our weapons clean in all the rain; we would take turns with the cleaning.

We had a very good Platoon Leader, Lt. Terry Bender. He had moved us to the top of a hill to setup for the night, as he felt that would be a good place. The hill had some big boulders on it and would give us some protection.  It also overlooked a rice paddy that appeared to be one-half mile long from where we were to the other end. From our left, as you looked towards the rice paddy, was a steep hill that was covered with heavy woods. There was a wide trail that ran along the rice paddy and the bottom of the hill.

Lt. Bender had a policy that, whenever possible, he would always plot either mortars or artillery in the event we needed help during the night. Well this evening was no different; the Lt. had charted artillery since we were out of range for mortar support.  We split our platoon into the three squads and placed them around the perimeter so the hillside could be covered. Each squad would always decide where they felt an approach point would be, and that is where the machine gunner would setup. Then we would place the CP in the center of the secure area.

The guys started scrounging for food because, being out for several days, we were running real low on supplies. We were practically out of food, cigarettes, and ammo. On our last resupply, we were mistakenly sent tracer ammo for our machine guns.

We were so desperate that we would take the aluminum foil from the candy in the C Rations, place our wet cigarettes on it, and roll it back and forth while holding it over a heat tablet, hoping to dry them enough to smoke. We had more heat tabs than we had food.  All went well that night; we dried enough cigarettes so that everybody could have a smoke before dark...but nobody smoked after dark.

At daybreak the next morning, whoever was on guard at the time would wake everybody in the squad. As we got up that morning, in our water-soaked stupor, we did like all GIs...we took a leak, cleaned our weapons, and ate whatever there was for breakfast or drank a cup of coffee. Someone would always be on guard because you could never relax for a minute.

Just as we finished cleaning our weapons, our guard, on the side of the rice paddy, notified the CP that he thought he saw movement along the tree line at the other end of the rice paddy. Immediately everyone focused their attention on the site.

Shortly, a Vietnamese soldier stepped out of the tree line and just stood there looking around for awhile. He was waiting to see if he had been detected or if he could detect any enemy in the area. Apparently he felt that he was all alone, so he proceeded out of the wooded area and began walking along the trail that ran between the hillside and the rice paddy. He was walking point.

After he made his way into the open, there came another, and then another. Those soldiers just kept coming out of that tree line. We were just sitting there counting Vietnamese soldiers, but Lt. Bender was on the radio with HQ deploying our backup support. He knew that we would need help with a group this big because we were almost out of ammo, except for the tracer rounds. We were still counting soldiers as they came out of the tree line.

Lt. Bender had arranged for the "Sharks" Gunships to hover behind the hill until he gave the order to open fire. Since we had so many tracer rounds, we were to pinpoint the targets for the gunships. Everyone else would open fire with their M-16s. At the same time, the gunships would come from behind the hill and zero in on the enemy. Once the gunships had finished, the artillery was supposed to take over and saturate the entire area, which was the hillside and the wooded area directly in front of us.

We were still counting soldiers coming out of the tree line, right at our position. There were so many that they looked like ants lined up along the rice paddy. Our count was up to 111 soldiers when four guys came out of the tree line carrying something wrapped in canvas that was so big, it took all four of them to carry it. Well, this was enough, 115 Vietnamese soldiers heavily armed. Lt. Bender knew that we could wait no longer for some help.

Lt. Bender gave the order for the gunships to come on in; and, at the same time that they came over the hill, we all opened fire...all three machine guns, spitting out tracer rounds to mark the target, and everyone else firing their M-16s.  It sounded like ALL hell was breaking loose; I mean, here are 25 guys on the ground firing simultaneously, including three machine guns, and then the "Sharks" Gunships. Those babies are BAD NEWS for the enemy. Once that all started, the Vietnamese were trying to sprint up that wooded hillside.

As soon as the gunships had cleared the air space, Lt. Bender followed up with artillery. Those guys completely saturated that hillside. This seemed to last all day, but it was probably no more than an hour. When it was over, we could hardly see the rice paddy for all the smoke and fog mixed together.  

Well, now we were in one heck of a mess...already short on ammo and now even shorter, out of food, and the choppers could not get back in to land and pick us up due to the weather. And, we could not move from our position because it was open all around us. I know the Platoon Sgt. was expected to extend for another tour; but I heard him call HQ and tell them to get his papers ready, that he was going home when we got in.

I think that Lt. Bender and our Platoon Sgt. must have threatened somebody's life. Here we were, several days without resupply, wet, cold, out of ammo; and we could not get any help. So, on our second day of being stranded, we finally got a chopper pilot to fly down the valley; and one of the crew kicked C Rations out the chopper door as they flew by. We sent a patrol down to dig the C Rations and a little ammo out of the rice paddy. At least we could finally eat and protect ourselves.

Now, I'll tell you, these were really scary times because the enemy knew where we were, but the terrain was so open that we could not move our position. We had the best there was to offer at the time. We were just stuck there until the weather broke.

Finally, late in the afternoon of Christmas Eve, the choppers were able to come in close enough to pick us up and get us out of there. Man, were we ever happy. Here it was Christmas Eve, and we were going in for Christmas. It was finally over.  We were on the choppers and heading back to LZ Thunder, when we had to make a detour. Bravo (B) Company was pinned down and could not get out. So, Fox Force gets the call to stop by and try to help Bravo out of a mess.

The choppers landed us about one-half mile from where Bravo Company was pinned down, and Lt. Bender had everybody drop their rucksacks He left three guys there to guard the equipment, and everyone else took all the ammo they could carry. We headed for the sound of gunfire.

On our way, running as hard as we could carrying ammo and weapons, we came upon a creek that looked to be only about five feet wide. It was a little hard jumping that far, carrying 1,000 rounds of ammo and a machine gun; so, I went in the water. But, I was not alone...there were other guys that could not make the jump either.  The bad news is, the creek was almost as deep as it was wide. Here we were, chest deep in a creek. We got out OK; but, as was the case with all those creeks, once you got out you were covered with leeches.

We finally got through this mess and came within eyesight of Bravo pinned down by snipers in a hooch. Lt. Bender got on the radio and called for artillery, moving us in under the fire of 8" guns. The whole time, he was on the radio walking and talking, charting the artillery as we walked. When I heard those rounds whistling in over our heads, I did not think this heart could take it. I said, "GOD, please don't let him screw up." Well, he didn't.

We got Bravo Company out of trouble, went back to where our rucksacks were, and got some choppers on in to LZ Thunder.  When we got to LZ Thunder, we had to stay in some abandoned artillery bunkers; but they had a roof, and they were dry inside. We even got to eat hot food from the mess hall. Some of the guys scrounged up some candles, and one of them bummed a guitar from someone stationed there. We all sat around candles that night, singing Christmas Carols.

There was supposed to be a ceasefire because my parents sent me copies of the newspaper articles saying so. The next day...Christmas Day, however, we were up and out at the crack of dawn, heading back to the field, eating Ham and Limas again. The Vietnamese had broken the so-called ceasefire. Hell, we already knew that.


With all that we had just been through, it was amazing that all these grown men sat in those hooches on Christmas Eve, around candles, singing Christmas Carols, knowing that GOD had saved our lives, again. It was made more glorious by the fact that we were of different color, but all Americans. Now, this is what America is all about.

Christmas sure has been lots nicer ever since that day, and I really do appreciate everything that GOD has given me, including my life. I hope and pray that everyone has a great Christmas, especially America's Vietnam Veterans.  Merry Christmas, Fox Force.

Lee Miracle
1st 14th. Inf., 3rd. Bgde, 4th. Div.
Golden Dragons
Fox Force Recon

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011


~Author Unknown~  

"I now know why men who have been to war yearn to reunite -- not to tell stories or look at old pictures; not to laugh or weep. Comrades gather because they long to be with the men who acted at their best; men who suffered and sacrificed; men who were stripped of their humanity.

I did not pick these men. They were delivered by fate and the military. But, I know them in a way I know no other men. I have never given anyone such trust. They were willing to guard something more precious than my life. They would have carried my reputation, the memory of me. It was part of the bargain we all made, the reason we were so willing to die for one another.

As long as I have my memory, I will think of them all, every day. I am sure that when I leave this world, my last thought will be of my family and my comrades ... such good men."

** Let's remember this Thanksgiving and Christmas when we're eating our dinner, smiling and laughing, that in other houses there are empty chairs where heroes should be sitting. 

They gave up their lives so we could sit with our families. So light a candle for the heroes who did not make it back and for those who are still serving in Afghanistan, Iraq or any other place.

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Desks

This is a lesson that should be taught in all schools and colleges.  Oh, and it's true.

Back in September of 2005, on the first day of school, Martha Cothren, a Social Studies teacher at Robinson High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, did something not to be forgotten.

On the first day of school, with the permission of the school superintendent, the principal, and the building supervisor, Ms. Cothren removed all of the desks from her classroom.  When the first period students entered the room they discovered there were no desks.

"Ms. Cothren, where are our desks?"  The students asked, puzzled. 

She replied, "You can't have a desk, not until you are able to tell me how you earned the right to sit at a desk."

They thought and whispered among themselves.  One student held up her hand and then asked, "Well, maybe it's our grades.  Do we have to get an A to get a desk?" 

"No."  Ms. Cothren answered.

"Then maybe it's our behavior." Said one boy in class who was, more often than not, in trouble.  

The teacher shook her head.  "No, it's not even your behavior."   

It went on like this the whole day long.  Students came in, heard Ms. Cothren's query and, with no answers, at the end of the period, the students left.  They arrived for the first period, second period, then the third period. Still there were no desks in the classroom, nor the proper answer to Ms. Cothren's puzzling riddle.

By early afternoon, television news crews had started gathering in Ms.Cothren's classroom to watch and then report what they could about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of her room.

The final period of the day came and as the puzzled students found seats on the floor of the deskless classroom, Martha Cothren said, "Throughout the day no one has been able to tell me just what he/she has done to earn the right to sit at the desks that are ordinarily found in this classroom. Now I am going to tell you."

At this point, you could've heard a pin drop in the classroom.  Martha Cothren walked over to the door of her classroom and opened it wide. Twenty-seven U.S. Veterans, all in uniform, walked into the classroom, each carrying a school desk.  One by one, each Veteran replaced a school desk, row by row, and then walked over to take his place beside the other Vets along the wall. 

By the time the last soldier had set the final desk in place, the students finally understood, perhaps for the first time in their lives, just how the right to sit at those desks had been earned.

Ms Cothren stood silently looking into each student's face and then she spoke, "Understand, you didn't earn the right to sit at these desks. These heroes did it for you. They placed the desks here for you. Now, it's up to you to sit in them. It is your responsibility to learn, to be good students, and to be good citizens. They paid a dear price so that you could have the freedom to get an education. Don't ever forget that the freedoms we have in this great country were earned for us by U.S. Veterans."

Thank you, Veterans.  Welcome Home.

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lunch with Friends

This came to me today from a friend that I value very much.  After you read this, I think you'll understand ...

Two Scoops of Chocolate Ice Cream
"One day I had lunch with some friends. Bob, a short, balding golfer-type about 69 years old, came along with them.  All in all, it was a pleasant bunch of guys.

When the menus were presented, we ordered salads, sandwiches, and soups, all except for Bob who said, "Ice Cream, please -- two scoops, both of them chocolate."

At first, I wasn't sure my ears heard him right, and the others were aghast, as well. "Oh, and along with some heated apple pie." Bob added, completely unabashed.

We tried to act quite nonchalant, as if people did this all the time. But when our orders were brought out, I found that I didn't enjoy mine.  I couldn't take my eyes off Bob as his pie a-la-mode went down. I noticed that the other guys couldn't believe it either. They ate their lunches silently and grinned suspiciously.

The next time I went out to eat, I called and invited Bob. I lunched on white meat tuna and whole grain bread. He ordered a parfait. when I smiled, he asked if he amused me. I answered, "Yes, you do, but also you confuse me. How come you order rich desserts for lunch, while I feel I must be sensible?"

Bob laughed and explained, "I'm tasting all that is possible.  I try to eat the foods I need, and I do the things that I should do so I'll be healthy, but listen, life's so short, my friend! I hate missing out on something good. This year I realized how old I was."  He smiled, thoughtfully.  "I haven't ever been this old before.

Before I die, I've decided to try those things I had always ignored. I haven't smelled all the flowers yet; there are trout streams I haven't fished; there are more hot fudge sundaes to wolf down and kites to be flown over my head in the wind. There are too many golf courses I haven't played, and I've not laughed at all the jokes yet. Oh, and I've missed a lot of sporting events ... and potato chips ... and cokes.

Wading Barefoot
I want to wade barefoot again in puddles and feel the ocean spray on my face. I want to sit in a country church one more time and thank God for everything. I want peanut butter spread every day on my morning toast; I want un-timed long distance calls to all the folks I love the most.

I haven't cried at all the movies yet, or walked in the morning rain. I need to feel wind on my face, and I want to be in love again. So, my friend, if I choose to have the dessert, instead of having dinner, then if I die before night fall, I'll be able to say I died a winner, because I missed out on nothing. I filled my heart's desire. I had that final chocolate mousse before my life expired.  I would die a happy man."

With that, I called the waitress over. "S'cuse me, Ma'am. I've changed my mind. I want what he's having -- only add even more whipped cream!"

This is my gift to you -- let's make this our annual Friends Day. The rest of the year, we'll live well, love much and laugh often -- in other words, we'll be happy.  And we have to be mindful that happiness isn't based on possessions, power, or prestige. It's all about relationships with the people we like and love and respect.

Money might talk, but chocolate ice cream sings ...

Thank you, Craig Latham! Many hugs, my friend.

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Definition of a Traitor

BARBRA WALTERS WRITES: "The definition of a traitor is Jane Fonda"

Unfortunately, many have forgotten and still countless others have never known how Ms. Fonda betrayed not only the idea of our country, but specific men who served and sacrificed during Vietnam.

The first part of this is from an F-4E pilot. The pilot's name is Jerry Driscoll.

In 1968, the former Commandant of the USAF Survival School was a POW in Ho Lo Prison the ' Hanoi Hilton.'
Dragged from a stinking cesspit of a cell, cleaned, fed, and dressed in clean PJ's, he was ordered to describe for a visiting American 'Peace Activist' the 'lenient and humane treatment' he'd received.

He spat at Ms. Fonda, was clubbed, and was dragged away. During the subsequent beating, he fell forward on to the camp Commandant 's feet, which sent that officer berserk.

In 1978, the Air Force Colonel still suffered from double vision (which permanently ended his flying career) from the Commandant's frenzied application of a wooden baton.

From 1963-65, Col. Larry Carrigan was in the 47FW/DO (F-4E's). He spent 6 years in the ' Hanoi Hilton',,, the first three of which his family only knew he was 'missing in action'. His wife lived on faith that he was still alive. His group, too, got the cleaned-up, fed and clothed routine in preparation for a 'peace delegation' visit.

They, however, had time and devised a plan to get word to the world that they were alive and still survived. Each man secreted a tiny piece of paper, with his Social Security Number on it, in the palm of his hand.

When paraded before Ms. Fonda and a cameraman, she walked the line, shaking each man's hand and asking little encouraging snippets like: 'Aren't you sorry you bombed babies?' and 'Are you grateful for the humane treatment from your benevolent captors?' Believing this HAD to be an act, they each palmed her their sliver of paper.

She took them all without missing a beat.. At the end of the line and once the camera stopped rolling, to the shocked disbelief of the POWs, she turned to the officer in charge and handed him all the little pieces of paper ...
three men died from the subsequent beatings. Colonel Carrigan was almost number four but he survived, which is the only reason we know of her actions that day.

I was a civilian economic development advisor in Vietnam , and was captured by the North Vietnamese communists in South Vietnam in 1968, and held prisoner for over 5 years. I spent 27 months in solitary confinement; one year in a cage in Cambodia ; and one year in a 'black box' in Hanoi . My North Vietnamese captors deliberately poisoned and murdered a female missionary, a nurse in a leprosarium in Banme Thuot , South Vietnam , whom I buried in the jungle near the Cambodian border. At one time, I weighed only about 90 lbs. (My normal weight is 170 lbs)

We were Jane Fonda's 'war criminals....'

When Jane Fonda was in Hanoi , I was asked by the camp communist political officer if I would be willing to meet with her ... I said yes, for I wanted to tell her about the real treatment we POWs received ... and how different it was from the treatment purported by the North Vietnamese, and parroted by her as 'humane and lenient.'

Because of this, I spent three days on a rocky floor on my knees, with my arms outstretched with a large steel weight placed on my hands, and beaten with a bamboo cane.

I had the opportunity to meet with Jane Fonda soon after I was released. I asked her if she would be willing to debate me on TV. She never did answer me.

These first-hand experiences do not exemplify someone who should be honored as part of '100 Years of Great Women.' Lest we forget....' 100 Years of Great Women' should never include a traitor whose hands are covered with the blood of so many patriots.

There are few things I have strong visceral reactions to, but Hanoi Jane's participation in blatant treason, is one of them. Please take the time to forward to as many people as you possibly can.. It will eventually end up on her computer and she needs to know that we will never forget.

USAF 716 Maintenance Squadron,
Chief of Maintenance DSN: 875-6431 COMM: 883-6343

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Children's Poem: "Daddy's Boots"

Will James' Dad

As many of you know, my son-in-law is a Marine Force Recon sniper. He has nearly seventeen years in now and will be leaving soon for yet another deployment, somewhere.

I wrote this poem for his oldest son, Will James, when he was about seven, because he had such a difficult time whenever his dad was away.

Will James is now sixteen, but he still has the poem in a frame on his dresser.

It doesn't matter where the conflict is, or when. War is war and it's difficult for everyone, but it's always hardest on the children ... 

Daddy's Boots
by CJ Heck

Daddy left his boots for me 
and here I have to stay. 
My daddy is a soldier. 
I’m in charge while he’s away. 

In Daddy’s boots, I can pretend 
that now I am the man 
who does the things that Daddy does 
as only Daddy can. 

I help with little brother, 
I help with folding clothes, 
I help to take the trash out, 
and I hope Daddy knows 

that every day I wear his boots 
so I’ll feel close to him
and I try to keep Mom happy, 
till he comes home again. 

I know that he’s protecting us, 
that’s what soldiers do, 
but his boots are way too big for me 
and my job, being him, is too. 

I wonder when he's coming home. 
I miss him ALL the time. 
Mom said Dad is proud of me 
and his boots fit me ... just fine.

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

Feel free to comment on this post. You are also invited to write about anything you feel comfortable sharing. Memoirs From Nam is YOUR blog. You are writing America's history, sharing the truth about the Vietnam veteran, and what it was like in Our War.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

1971: Craig Latham

Today, I'm sharing a story, using Mr. Peabody's "Wayback Machine" (remember the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show?).  It's a newspaper article from 1971, featuring an interview The Coshocton Tribune (Coshocton, Ohio) did with U.S. Army News Correspondent, Craig Latham.  Craig, as you know, is a regular contributor here at Memoirs.

Craig Latham
Coshocton Tribune, Sunday, September 5, 1971:

Craig Latham, son of Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Latham of Hay Avenue, has just returned from a year's duty in Vietnam. While there, he was stationed at Phu Bai, where he served as an Army news correspondent in the public information division.

In an exclusive interview with The Tribune, Craig noted that much of his writing in Vietnam was done from the human interest angle.  "Giving the guys something to laugh about," Craig stated. "And, contrary to popular belief," he added, "there are funny things happening over there."

He recalled an incident he wrote about concerning the men getting soft drinks and beer as often as possible. "The drinks are brought by helicopter and they try to keep them as cold as possible." Craig volunteered. "One of the fellows could never find a can opener and, by the time he did, the drink was usually warm. 

 So, he wrote to two of the top breweries and asked them for a can opener. One of them sent 10,000, and the other one, 7,000. He wrote and thanked each of them and mentioned to the one that sent 7,000, that the other brewery had outdone them. They promptly sent 10,000 more. Then the guy had 27,000 can openers, which of course he didn't really need. 

 He put up a sign telling the other fellows to "help themselves". As it turned out, the next time the soft drinks and beer were delivered, the fellow had forgotten to keep one of the openers for himself and he still didn't have one."

Craig's articles appeared in The Stars and Stripes as well as his Division's newspaper, which was put out every two weeks and consisted of six pages.  "Naturally, the material is censored before it is published," Craig pointed out.

He feels the men in the field at Vietnam have a good morale and they laugh at the students back here who are always demonstrating against the war. They don't really let it bother them.  "Drugs are probably the worst problem over there. Marijuana grows right along the road. Thefts are another problem. The youngsters steal from the soldiers something awful, then, of course, the guys can buy the same things back from the black market for a lot more than it's worth." Craig said.

The temperature was about 95 degrees the evening he left and he didn't seem to mind the heat as much as the rain, noting it had rained for five straight months while he was there. The rain didn't last all day, but during those five months there there were one or two showers daily, which caused flooding.

Bob Hope in Vietnam
He was privileged to sit on the stage during Bob Hope's performance in Vietnam and he did a story on actress Mamie Van Doren. Shortly before his departure for home, he mentioned that Miss America and six other young women were visiting the various bases. 

When asked if the boys became involved with the civilians, Craig said, "Yes." He particularly emphasized the fact that the guys aid the orphanages and contribute to them. They also asked their folks to send them things for the children.

Craig is a 1968 graduate of Coshocton High School and attended Kent State University for one year, before volunteering for the military. In February, 1970, he was inducted and took his basic training at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, followed by a course in journalism and photography at Indianapolis, Indiana.

Following his discharge, which is due in February of 1972, he feels he would like to stay in newspaper work, especially now that he has the training for it and enjoys it.   His actual start with newspapers came about some years ago when he was a Tribune carrier boy.

His family was elated to have him home and actually rolled out the red carpet and had signs decorating their home to let him know just how glad they were.  Craig has two sisters, Bonnie and Mary, who live at home. His mother and dad are both employed by Shaw-Barton. And, of course, there is a girl in his life, Jeanne Zolar, who is a student at Kent State with three more terms between her and gradation.

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dr. Harry Croft: PTSD

My name is Dr. Harry Croft. I am a psychiatrist in private practice since 1973 in San Antonio Texas and co-author of the new book, I Always Sit with My Back to the Wall.  The aim of this post is to give you some insight into my interest in writing about combat related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The Beginnings of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
I came to San Antonio in 1973 to serve in the US Army Medical Corps at Ft. Sam Houston.  I was the medical director of the Army’s drug and alcohol program on post. It was towards the end of the Vietnam conflict and we never lacked for soldiers to occupy our treatment beds
Almost without exception the soldiers we treated for their dependence or abuse of alcohol, heroin, marijuana or other drugs of abuse also had symptoms we now know to be part of PTSD.  But in 1973 there was no name for this disorder – the name PTSD did not come into being until 1980, five years after Vietnam conflict ended.  We had little clue about how to help these young men and women other than to treat their substance abuse.  

As a physician, I did what I was told to do, advised those with symptoms of anger, social withdrawal, increased startle responses and vigilance and other PTSD symptoms to get friends, get a family, get a job, stop being angry all the time, get a grip – get a life!  This was advice I knew was inadequate, but we had little else to offer for the PTSD symptoms.

My Formal Work in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
About 10 years ago I got the opportunity through a company contracting with Veteran’s Affairs (the VA) to perform disability exams on those suffering from PTSD. In addition to gathering the information needed to write the reports required, I began to really listen to what these vets (and often their spouses or children) had to tell me. How for years they talked to no one about their experiences in Nam, or their symptoms.  Many had gone to the VA in the 1970s or 1980s and felt shunned by the system and decided to never go back there again.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Survivors Speak Out
As I heard the stories and symptoms experienced by the vets in my office many of the spouses and family members were hearing these stories for the very first time. Most of those with PTSD don’t like to talk about their combat experiences, but those returning from Nam had another issue – the country had turned not only on the war, but on the vets themselves. In uniform, I, myself, was called baby killer, monster and worse.
As I spoke with the Veterans I evaluated I heard over and over:

“You know I took all my medals and military paraphernalia – put them in a shoe box high up in my closet and decided I would never look at them again.”

After talking to me during the evaluation, many decided they would actually get the box down and share their experiences with others, including their family members.

The Beginnings of I Always Sit with my Back to the Wall
I realized from the evaluations the need of these veterans and their families for good, useful, and hopeful information about their condition, and began writing a short paper that I would give out. The response was heartwarming – for the first time vets and their families understood why did and felt the things they did.

We talk about PTSD as if everyone understands it, but my experiences with more than 7000 vets over the past 10 years has convinced me that there is a crying need for more comprehensive and encouraging information about PTSD and how to deal with it. I Always Sit with My Back to the Wall is the outgrowth of the recognition of this need.

I am honored to have served, talked to vets and family members, and to have written the book.

Harry Croft, MD
Author, I Always Sit with My Back to the Wall, available through our website and Amazon.com.  Find me on Facebook and Twitter.

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

More From David

Dear Cathy,
I would be pleased to share our correspondence. Vietnam Veterans have always had my highest regard and your work is a wonderful tribute.

My grandmother used to love to tell us stories of her upbringing in Coshocton and her wonderful family. If memory serves me right, she spoke of Doug's brother Denny as well. I believe that Douglas and Denny had a grandfather named Eugene (my grandmothers brother). We used to call him Uncle Gene. He was a pilot in WWII and flew seaplanes from a aircraft carrier. When I was a small boy his favorite story to tell me was how he once flew under the Brooklyn Bridge when training for the war.

It would be so nice to meet someday. After thinking about Douglas all these years, it would be an honor to share memories with you.

I'm especially proud of Douglas and all those who served with him in Vietnam. I'm sure that your efforts are so greatly appreciated by those who were there.

Thank you so much for your warm reply. More than ever, I'm so pleased to carry on Doug's legacy.



Dear David,
Thank you so much for your kind words about Memoirs.  I'm so happy that it's bringing family members together, amazingly, some who weren't even aware of one another!  I'm sure you will be hearing from Denny.  He wrote to me after reading our correspondence here on Memoirs ... in Denny's words: 

"Wow, what a neat letter. I don't know if I have ever met David and I am not really sure who his parents are .. .I guess we will never really know how many lives Doug personally touched.
Love, Denny"

Thank you, too, for your warm words about veterans.  That's why Memoirs From Nam is so important to me -- and I hope to all veterans, not only those who served in Vietnam, but other wars, as well.  It's become a healing place to read about the experiences of friends, share feelings of loss, and guilt, and also a place for sharing the universal pride and honor of serving our country.   I sincerely hope that veterans, their families and friends who visit Memoirs can come away feeling that they aren't alone and America does appreciate their sacrifice.  It's humbling, David.  It really is.

I've given some thought to writing a book called, "Memoirs From Nam", using the blog posts -- when Doug was KIA in 1969, the Kempf family set up a scholarship fund in Doug's name for our high school, Coshocton High School.  One of my brothers, Chip Parrish, was a proud recipient of the scholarship several years after it's inception.  

If I do write the book, I will donate all proceeds to the Douglas S. Kempf Scholarship Fund.  

We will meet one day, you and I.  We have memories to share and we can create some new ones, too.
Respect and love,


Dear Denny,

The world gets smaller and smaller. It's wonderful! Denny, think back, you have to know David. Is the Gene he talks about Kenny's dad?


Yes, Gene is Kenny's father. Della was oldest, then Gib (dad), William, then Gene. Gene owned and operated Kempf Electric Company on Main Street for years. It was between 2nd and 3rd Streets. Della had two kids,William and Nancy. They lived in Milwalkee. Her kids were several years older than Terry, Doug and me. Nancy was married to Augie Pabst for a while, divorced, and I'm not sure to whom she remarried. So, unfortunately, I really don't remember David at all.


hmmmm ... maybe we should do something about that (smiling) ... do I possibly hear whispers of a family reunion?

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Monday, September 19, 2011

David Blank

Dear Mrs. Heck,

My name is David Blank and I live in West Des Moines, Iowa.  I am 51 years old and I am a relative of Douglas S. Kempf, U.S. Army.

My grandmother was Della Kempf and her brother was Douglas' grandfather.  Growing up as a boy I heard stories of Douglas and of how he bravely gave his life in Vietnam.  Although we never met, I've thought of Douglas often.  We even share the same birthdate, July 12th.  I did have the opportunity to spend time with Douglas's grandfather when I was a small boy and I still have fond memories of how nice a man he was.  I'm sure Douglas felt much the same.

I've visited Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. several times, and just this morning I took my 17 year son to see the traveling memorial as it passed through our town.  During these visits, I've made sure to make an etching of Douglas' name.  I've also shared Douglas's story with my two sons.

Our visit this morning to the memorial inspired my wife to Google Douglas' name ... not sure why I didn't think of doing that before now.  That is how I came across your email address.  I think in part because of Douglas, I've read a great number of first person books on Vietnam. I've always had a great interest in understanding the experience of the men who fought there.

I hope this email finds you well.  I just wanted to let you know that after all these years, there are still others out there keeping Douglas' memory and legacy alive.

Best Regards,

David Blank


Hello David,

What a wonderful surprise, hearing from you. Your letter touched me very deeply.  How I wish I could meet you in person. I keep in touch with Doug's brother, Denny, and many of our nieces and nephews and their children. It's so comforting, knowing that Doug's memory will live on, through all of us.  I still miss him terribly and I know I always will.

I would consider it an honor if you would allow me to post your letter on "Memoirs From Nam".  I began writing Memoirs in Doug's memory to help others, but it's been such a personal blessing.  It's helped me more than I ever thought possible.  I know Doug's family would love reading your letter, as will the many veterans who often visit and contribute.

Please keep in touch. I thank you most sincerely for taking the time to write to me -- I'm so very proud to know you.
With warmest regards and love,

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

9-11 Revisited

Dear CJ,
I hope this email finds you and your family well and enjoying the summer. We are having cool mornings and warm afternoons. I love this time of year.

As we prepared for the memorial services planned around our country for the 9-11-01 tragedy, we talked a lot in my family and among friends and the community about the impact it had on us as a nation. There has been a real awakening among those who have not served in the military. They now have such respect and honor for all those who served and for what they do and have done to protect us as a nation.

I have talked to a lot of veterans lately about their service and what has happened over the years. The one thing that I am most proud of, is that all of them say the same thing: "We were proud to serve. If my country needs me I will fight again to protect us. This, coming from those who were 80-90 years old, makes me proud to be an American.

I only hope all those who try to belittle and degrade what our military does will realize if not for all of us, they wouldn't be able to do half of what they do without the fear of retribution or physical harm.

To all who perished on 9-1-01, I pray for their families and for them personally. They are with our Lord and Savior and we know they are at peace.

Sgt Bob Butcher
US Army 1968-1971
Vietnam vet 54th ord co. Long Bien
The Bman

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale
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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Busy Times

Hello everyone -- I sincerely apologize for my disappearance. I've been extremely busy with last minute illustrations and the self-publishing of two new children's books. I'm happy to say, both books are now with the printer and I'll let you know when I get them.

To those who ordered months or even a year in advance, it's finally happening! Yours will be the first books I sign and put in the mail -- thank you most sincerely for your patience.

For those of you with eBook readers, both books are available now on Kindle Books at Amazon.com.

Barking Spiders 2 at Kindle
Me Too! Preschool Poetry at Kindle

Here is the information:

Barking Spiders 2
ISBN 978-0-9839320-0-0
Release Date: August 2011
Barking Spiders Publishing
Ages 6 to 106
88 Pages
Paperback 9"W x 7"H
Perfect Binding

In this long-awaited sequel to her first book, CJ Heck continues her journey to help children experience life through her poetry through humor, insight, and with an understanding that, like adults, children like to make sense of the world they live in. And when it still doesn't make sense? Well ... that's okay, too, because it
doesn't always make sense.

So, sit back, get comfy, and enjoy this book with a child -- it's time to get back in touch with your inner child again.

Me Too!  Preschool Poetry
ISBN 978-0-9839320-1-7
Release Date: August 2011
Barking Spiders Publishing
42 pages
Paperback 9"W x 7"H
Perfect Binding

Preschool: That period of childhood when everything is black or white, a time of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, and the grey area hasn't yet begun. It's that last true age of innocence when mom and dad are the good guys, pretending is a profession, and bugs are truly our best friends. Wouldn't it be fun to have a grownup friend who understands, someone to say it's okay if the world doesn't always make sense?

CJ Heck is that grownup friend. She has been entertaining children and grownups with her poetry since 1999 through first, her website, and then with the release of her first book "Barking Spiders (and Other Such Stuff)" in 2000.

Sit back, get comfy, and read "Me Too!" with a child-- it's time to get back in touch with your inner child again and remember, remember, remember ...

Okay, now I'm going to go for now.  My daughter from Connecticut is here for a few days with her two toddlers -- and this grammy is loving every minute ...


“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do, and by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Social Security: An Entitlement?

I hope you're all enjoying your weekend! The following article was sent to me in an email yesterday by Frank Calderone, who is a very good friend. It has nothing to do with Vietnam or veterans or memories, however, it is something that does affect all Americans, which makes it extremely important to write about here. The article is as follows:

"Some politicians are calling Social Security an Entitlement. What is wrong here?

Remember, not only did you contribute to Social Security, but your employer did too. It totaled 15% of your income, before taxes. If you averaged only $30K over your working life, that's close to $220,500. If you calculate the future value of $4,500 per year (yours & your employers contribution) at a simple 5% (less than what the govt. pays on the money that it borrows), after 49 years of working (me) you'd have $892,919.98. If you took out only 3% per year, you receive $26,787.60 per year and it would last better than thirty years, and that's with no interest paid on that final amount on deposit.

If you bought an annuity and it paid 4% per year, you'd have a lifetime income of $2,976.40 per month. The folks in Washington have pulled off a bigger Ponzi scheme than Bernie Madhoff ever did.

Foot Note: in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson put Social Security into the General Fund and took it out of the "Lock Box." In 1993, President Bill Clinton made Social Security taxable. You pay tax on 85% of Social Security.

Some politicians are calling Social Security an Entitlement. I beg to differ -- I paid cash for my social security insurance. Just because they borrowed the money doesn't make my benefits some kind of charity or handout, does it? Congressional benefits: their free healthcare, outrageous retirement packages, 67 paid holidays, three weeks of paid vacation, unlimited paid sick days -- now that's what I call welfare ... and they have the nerve to call my retirement an "entitlement"! What the HELL's wrong with this? Tuesday's Daily Bulletin paper, ran two articles on the front page, side by side :

1. California 's 20 Billion Dollar Budget Deficit
2. The California Supreme Court ruling that ILLEGALS can attend college and get benefits.

Why don't they just deport them when they arrive to register?

3. Last year, they ran an article on the yearly costs to California Taxpayers from illegals using hospital emergency rooms for their general health care. At just one hospital, the cost to taxpayers totaled over $25 million a year!  Will someone please tell me what the HELL is wrong with all the people who run this country!

We're "broke" and we can't even help our own seniors, veterans, orphans, homeless, etc. In the last couple of years, we have provided aid to Haiti, Chile, Turkey, and Pakistan (the home of Bin Laden). We've literally given away billions of dollars ...

Our retired seniors who are living on a 'fixed income' receive no aid, nor do they get any breaks at all, while our government and religious organizations pour hundreds of billions of dollars plus tons of food to foreign countries. 

 They call Social Security and Medicare entitlements, even though most of us have been paying for both all of our working lives. Now when it's time for us to collect, the government is running out of money. My question is, why did the government borrow from it in the first place?

We have hundreds, maybe thousands, of adoptable children here in the U.S, who are shoved aside to make room for the adoption of foreign orphans.

Our own AMERICA has become a country where we have homeless without shelter, children going to bed hungry, elderly going without 'needed' meds, and the mentally ill who have no proper treatment, and yet they
had a 'benefit' for the people of Haiti on twelve TV stations, ships and planes lined up with food, water, tents clothes, bedding, doctors as well as medical supplies. Imagine if the government gave us the same support it gives to other countries ...

It's sad, yeah, okay. So when do we get pissed enough and then actually do something about it by voting the right people into office who really DO give a damn and who will make change happen? Hell, 99% of the people won't even have the guts to talk about any of this.  I'm one of the 1% who WILL ... join me, please?"

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Special Thank You

A Thank You to all Vietnam Vets from a Marine in Iraq

A guy gets time to think over here and I was thinking about all the support we get from home. Sometimes it's overwhelming. We get care packages at times faster than we can use them. There are boxes and boxes of toiletries and snacks lining the center of every tent; the generosity has been amazing. So, I was pondering the question: "Why do we have so much support?"

In my opinion, it all came down to one thing: Vietnam Veterans. I think we learned a lesson, as a nation, that no matter what, you have to support the troops who are on the line, who are risking everything. We treated them so poorly back then. When they returned was even worse. The stories are nightmarish of what our returning warriors were subjected to. It is a national scar, a blemish on our country, an embarrassment to all of us.

After Vietnam , it had time to sink in. The guilt in our collective consciousness grew. It shamed us. However, we learned from our mistake. Somewhere during the late 1970's and on into the 80's, we realized that we can't treat our warriors that way. So ... starting during the Gulf War, when the first real opportunity arose to stand up and support the troops, we did. We did it to support our friends and family going off to war. But we also did it to right the wrongs from the Vietnam era. We treat our troops of today like the heroes they were, and are, acknowledge and celebrate their sacrifice, and rejoice at their homecoming ... instead of spitting on them.

And that support continues today for those of us in Iraq. Our country knows that it must support us and it does. The lesson was learned in Vietnam and we are all better because of it.

Everyone who has gone before is a hero. They are celebrated in my heart. I think admirably of all those who have gone before me. From those who fought to establish this country in the late 1770's to those I serve with here in Iraq . They have all sacrificed to ensure our freedom. But when I get back home, I'm going to make it a personal mission to specifically thank every Vietnam Vet I encounter for THEIR sacrifice. Because if nothing else good came from that terrible war, one thing did. It was the lesson learned on how we treat our warriors. We as a country learned from our mistake and now we treat our warriors as heroes, as we should have all along. I am the beneficiary of their sacrifice. Not only for the freedom they, like veterans from other wars, ensured, but for how well our country now treats my fellow Marines and I. We are the beneficiaries of their sacrifice.

Semper Fidelis,

Major Brian P. Bresnahan
United States Marine Corps

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.”
~Everett Hale

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