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Friday, June 29, 2012

29 JUN 12

Hot ...
It's 12:30 and 92 degrees on my back deck.
The ballyhooed heat wave has begun.
Gonna concentrate on indoor chores this day.
Central air is going strong.
Thank the gods.

There's a lot of ranting on the web about the Supreme Court decision concerning the Stolen Valor Act.
It was struck down as not conforming with the First Amendment - Freedom of Speech.
Seems that being a poseur is a constitutional right. (???)

My voice was among the first shocked complainers.
I was pissed!
I've since cooled down some. The law is being looked at by congress again. They'll try to write a resolution that better defines the actual crime, one that can't be used to quash honest protest.

I've known but three poseurs in my lifetime.
I cannot adequately describe the contempt with which I view their deceptions.

The first was a businessman up in Concord, NH.
He claimed to have been a (What else?) Green Beret, operating in Vietnam's I Corps area.
This one day, I was sitting at the bar with two other (true) Vietnam vets ... one had been a draftee 11B20 grunt and the other had been an entomology specialist with a USAF Prime BEEF Team. The poseur walked over and sat with us ... coiffed hair, polished nails, a golf tan, thousand-dollar suit ... the other two knew him already. He started in telling war stories ... stories of blood, stories of courage ...  
Victor Charley's hot spilt blood ... and ... His Own indomitable courage.
                                    (Oh my!)
This was the first time I'd met the guy and he was already over the top. When he mentioned visiting the MACV compound at Hue, I casually asked if he knew a fellow who'd been stationed there during the same time frame. He suddenly became interested in the time of day ... (Was late, was late for a very important date.) ... he had to be somewhere. The poseur's sudden need to be elsewhere got us to thinking and talking ... finally (Duh!), we figured out that the blowhard was just that ... a lying blowhard.  When we compared notes, he had shown no concept of army procedures ... his was a comic-book understanding of things military. (Think Sergeant Rock.)

(By the way ... the entomologist, named Bobby, had been with a team trapped on a Central Highland hilltop; fogged in, they spent a week repelling the VC trying to overrun them. He saw more actual combat than many a grunt ... and he was just a Zoomie bug killer. Prime BEEF Teams were engineer units that were dropped into the jungle to clear and construct rough-terrain airfields or landing zones. Bobby didn't tell me of his combat experience until months later. We were sitting on his back deck, drinking beer, after having had dinner. His wife was putting his kids to bed and we were just smoking and shooting the bull. When he spoke of his little "adventure," he wasn't bragging, he was just speaking of something that occurred way back when ... in a land far away.
I've never doubted that he was telling me the truth.)

The next poseur had a bunch of us fooled for a very long time. He was an expert machinist and claimed to have been a USMC GySgt in Vietnam. He always wore the green USMC cover, with rank pinned to it. He knew his munitions and weapons. There was no obvious reason to doubt him. He helped a civilian couple run a small, highly respected, military museum in Ridgefield, CT. (Ridgefield Museum of Military Artifacts, Inc.) The museum was known to the Pentagon and had been awarded several small treasures ... one such was an actual 14" shell from the USS Arizona. On trips to Ft. Drum, NY, the poseur gave advice to Army Reserve Armor units. He was that good! The Marine Corps League approached the poseur at every parade and asked why he wasn't a member. After years of asking, somebody checked ... and found that the poseur had never been in the service. He was a mere wannabe ... kept out for a physical disqualifier. He was a nice enough guy. I liked him. But his lies hurt everyone and caused the museum to return every artifact in it's collection and close it's doors.

Third poseur ran a small business in this town. He claimed to have been a door gunner on a US Navy chopper. Here's the rub ... when I asked him where he'd been stationed in Vietnam, which unit he'd been with, he became vague ... said that he couldn't remember the unit's designation since he flew all over the place in that "God-damned country." Here's the thing ... nobody ever FORGETS which units they'd been assigned to in combat ... NEVER. Though I have no definitive proof, it's my opinion that the guy was just another wannabe vet.

There is no shame in being an ordinary, honest, solid citizen.

Be what you are!


PS: There, actually, is one more poseur that I forgot about. I knew him while in Berlin ... but he was so ridiculous that I'm not even gonna relate any of his tales.
(Apparently, he'd learned his soldiering by watching episodes of M*A*S*H on AFN TV.)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

28 JUN 12

Finally ...
We finished potting all the annuals!
Only took us 4 weeks.
I blame it all on fatigue and hot weather.

Another heat wave starts tomorrow ...
three more days of being house-bound.
Thank God for central air.


Monday, June 25, 2012

25 JUN 12

Rainy day ...
Woke to booming thunder and
falling rain.
A storm line passing through ...
after a very pleasant

The eldest grandchild has graduated
high school.
He now awaits the start of
For him ...
a new world's comin'.

(Just where has the time flown?)

" I was born tomorrow
            today I live
    yesterday killed me."
              -Parviz Owsia

18 years ago - Barbara and I with the eldest grandchild
(Thomas Keane), at his Christening.


Friday, June 22, 2012

22 JUN 12

Approaching noon ...
and 94 degrees outside.
Officially a heat wave.

A daughter and her family are down visiting Coney Island.
We are watching their two dogs for the day.
Weather reports show storms moving through the
area with heavy, heavy rain and hail ... especially on
Long Island and parts of Jersey.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

20 JUN 12

Outside ...
I'm avoiding going out today.
On the back deck the temp. is 94, in the shade.
In the house, with central air, it's a cool 72 ...
I'm going to remain cocooned inside today.
(One of the advantages of being retired.)

Early evening ... 97 on the deck.
Stayin' inside ... still 72.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

19 JUN 12

And seldom is heard ...
a disparaging word ... concerning religion.
Though I am a non-believer, I harbor no
ill will towards religion ... unless it teaches
it's followers to kill or subjugate others in the
name of a particular God or gods.

My own personal view:
Humans and religion... this pairing goes back in
time to when our ancestors huddled in trees at
night, watching thunderstorms sweep the savannah.
Surely SOMETHING BIG was responsible for the
light show, all the ground-shaking noise.
An evolving intelligence, the evolving brain, sought
answers ... and the concept of a Supreme Being
was born.
I hold that all religions are evolved from the norms
of the societies that created them. A society developed
it's way of living before religion came along ... guided by
climate, geography, relationships with other tribes.
Once belief systems were conceived and brought into being,
they were enacted in such a way that validated the norms of
that particular society. The, self-proclaimed, decoders of the god's
will became the priests and shamans who laid down the rules that
everyone, even kings, were forced to live by. Thus was power
attained ... and wielded, from behind closed doors.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

17 JUN 12

Sunday ...
and Father's Day
Dawned gray ... but the promise is for sun

A poem that I love:


Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house.

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

-Robert Hayden

There is no day set aside for "Steps" ...
pity, that.

There yet lives a man who agreed to
become step-father to two young boys in
need. His name is Tom Welsh.
We took his name, my brother and I.
Even though he and my mother divorced,
he never stopped being our "Dad."
All these years later, even though he has
another family, to include four children of his own,
I still consider him to be my Dad.

Happy Father's Day ... Dad.

                                  Tom Welsh with his daughter, Karen - ca. 2012


Thursday, June 14, 2012

14 JUN 12

Flag Day ...
and the birthday of the United States Army.


Little things make me happy.
Yesterday we had a new dish washer installed.
The old one just wasn't cleaning the dishware properly anymore.
It was an 8-year old Bosch ... a good brand but worn out.
For the past several weeks we noticed that there were tea stains
left in the cups that had to be hand scrubbed to remove ... tea
stains on the spoons also.
Enter the new Frigidaire ... used it last night and it cleaned everything
down to the shine. No more hand scrubbing! Hooray!!

Artsongjazz ...
Allen won't be playing with us.
His wife is gravely ill (Cancer (?)) and he can't devote the necessary time for practice. I sent my condolences and offered any help I could provide.

Naomi is back on Craigslist, looking for another bass.



Sunday, June 10, 2012

10 JUN 12

"I have dreamed ..."
Normally, I don't remember my dreams.
Once in a while, I do.
Last night, I dreamt of my dead family members.
They were all there, gathered in one place ... my
mother, grandparents, great-grandparents, step-father,
aunts and uncles. We were all together in some large
banquet-hall. My Great-Aunt Catherine took me by the
arm and led me to the doorway, explaining as we went,
that there was a surprise waiting for me.
Just outside the door stood my biological father, Herschel Cooper.
He reached out, took my hand and shook it, saying that we had
much to talk about. (For some reason, he was dressed as a 1940's
Highway Patrol motorcycle cop ... dark blue jodhpurs, black boots,
blue shirt, dark blue tie, black leather jacket, black gun-belt with
a .38 revolver in the holster.)
I've not seen him, in the flesh, for ..... 60 years. In my dream,
he was much older than in his photographs ... gray-haired with
a face that was creased, becoming jowly.
(His eyes were blue!)
We walked away, together, and he began to speak
... that's when I woke up.

                        Herschel E. Cooper - ca. 1945, Philadelphia, PA

Are dreams prescient?
When my mother was going in for her first major surgery in
1960, she dreamt that her long-dead grandmother came to
her in the night. She came to tell her that everything would be
all right ... that she would survive the surgery. My mother said
that she believed because when her grandmother bent to kiss
her forehead, my mother felt the long braid of hair that her
grandmother used to wear, brush across her face.
My mom survived that surgery ... and one more in 1973.

I've always maintained that dreams were concoctions of our brain,
trying to make sense of the day's happenings.
Dunno ... as I get older, I do wonder.


Or maybe it was that chicken salad sandwich I ate as a late-night snack.

Related postings:


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

05 JUN 12

Woodstock and other things ...
Posted a YouTube video to facebook the other day.
It was of Santana, playing the signature piece, "Soul Sacrifice."
Heady stuff. The Woodstock Festival is considered to be the nexus
of American music and American youth.
That's not the only story to be told, it's just the more popular one.

The other narrative ... and one I readily embrace ...
tells a different tale ...
shines a light on another gathering of American youth:

40th anniversary: Woodstock and I
(From Vietnam vet, Terry Garlock)
If you were at Woodstock 40 years ago, you might remember the music, peace and love from that monumental event as if it were yesterday.

I know what it is to have clear and dear memories from 1969, too, but while you were in Woodstock, I was in Vietnam, a reminder of the deep division in our generation.

I don’t mind that so many of my peers opposed war and promoted peace; that’s an instinctive choice any child can make. But I do mind that so many evaded their responsibilities to the nation which gave them the freedom to dance with flowers in their hair.

Many of us were dubious about the war, too, but when our country called we raised our right hand, swore an oath and stuck to it. It didn’t seem right that while we were fighting to stop the spread of communism, anti-war protesters maligned us and encouraged our enemy. Maybe college students actually were motivated by the moral opposition they professed, never mind the self-preservation that surely swirled in their head. But that’s not what bothers me most.

Of the 3 million Americans who served in the Vietnam war zone, two-thirds were volunteers while one-third had to be drafted.

Over 16 million draft age males did not serve, though some would have if called, but for others dodging the draft became an art form. Some became perpetual students to take advantage of student draft deferments. Some used dirty tricks to fail the draft physical and score the coveted status of 4F — “not acceptable for military service.” Some scurried like bugs to the shadows of Canada or other hidey holes. Odious, yes, but other things bother me more.

Each semester I guest-lecture a couple hours at Newnan High School on the truths and myths of the Vietnam War, and it does bother me that the truth about that war remains tangled up in myths, half-truths and political agendas.

I am troubled that schoolbooks contain the politically-scrubbed sound bite version, which is too bad because the truth is complex, and no matter which side of the argument you favor, the truth about the war is not all that pretty. We’re getting closer to what really bothers me.

I was an Army Cobra helicopter gunship pilot with the 334th Attack Helicopter Company at Bien Hoa north of Saigon. Most of the pilots were about 21 years old like me, and I learned by watching them the true meaning of courage and loyalty and trust.

One of our pilots was still 19 when, on a mission near the Cambodian border, his front seat copilot was hit in the neck, and he flew as fast as that Cobra would go to the Tay Ninh hospital, but it was too far and his copilot bled to death on the way. The crew patched the holes, washed out the blood and found him another copilot because he had to go back where he was needed.

While the flower children were protesting and frolicking back in the world, my fellow pilots routinely put their lives on the line trying to protect each other and our grunt brothers on the ground. In my eyes they stood tall.

When I was shot down in a firefight, we went down hard and I was trapped in the wreckage with a broken back and paralyzed legs. Two fellow pilots, John Synowski of Ft. Worth, Texas, and Graham Stevens of Williamsburg, Va., landed their Cobra in the battlefield, got out, dragged me out of the wreckage and stood guard with their puny pistols until medevac arrived to take me to a hospital.

Later, when I thanked John and Graham for risking their neck to rescue me, they brushed it off, saying, “Any of the other guys would have done the same thing.” They were right. That’s how we were in Vietnam, proud Americans serving our country and struggling to bring each other home alive.

John and Graham were awarded the Soldier’s Medal for heroism saving lives, mine, but all the other guys were just like them. Here’s how John earned his Silver Star for gallantry.

In early 1970 an American unit was in contact with a superior enemy force in the jungle of northern III Corps and about to be overrun. John’s fire team of two Cobras was scrambled to help, and when he attacked the enemy position John was caught in a helicopter trap. The enemy placed anti-aircraft .51 caliber guns at the three points of a triangle, and when the Cobra pulled up out of a rocket run one of the guns would have an easy broadside shot. John took 51s through the cockpit, a pilot’s worst nightmare, and one round penetrated his chest protector wounding him in the chest.

He was lucky it bounced around first because it didn’t go through him and that it was hot enough to cauterize the wound and slow the bleeding. His copilot was hit, too, but the aircraft held together, they kept attacking the enemy and forced them to withdraw.

The families of those American men on the ground never knew their loved ones lived that day only because John was determined to stay with the job to defend them.

That’s the kind of young men I was privileged to fly with while our peers back home indulged themselves in sex and drugs and rock-n-roll. Woodstock was just the most visible part of the endless party.

In the 1960s counter-culture world turned upside down, those who refused to serve their country won accolades for their virtue while those in uniform were thought of as saps too dim to find a way out of it.

When these fine young Americans came home from serving their country in Vietnam, hippies routinely gathered at California airports to shout “Baby-killers!” or “Murderers!” or other insults, sometimes spitting or throwing unmentionables, while otherwise good people always seemed to be looking the other way.

For decades Vietnam vets were vilified in many ways, like distorted Hollywood movies, fueling the myth we were dysfunctional misfits. As a group, Vietnam vets earned my admiration; that their own country disparaged them bothers me most.

I always wished my peers, like the 400,000 gathered at Woodstock, had the good sense to decide for themselves what they thought of the war and at the same time to honor the service of those America sent to fight it.

But that didn’t happen. The anti-war side did their job well painting us as villains. Even today some expect us to regret our service, and nothing could be more wrong.

Just like WWII, Korea, Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan vets, we are proud of our service and we don’t take a back seat to anybody when it comes to loving our country. Many, like me, would do it all over again even knowing the outcome.

I am reminded of Vietnam by back pain every day, but I wouldn’t trade for anything the experience of flying into combat with the finest bunch of cowboys I ever knew, learning much about life and about myself.

I did miss the memory of Woodstock, but I have something more dear. When I meet with other Vietnam vets, I am among family who served their country with honor and skill and courage, even while our own government tied one hand behind our back with crazy rules and micromanagement. We never lost a significant battle until the U.S. Congress gave away the war and betrayed our South Vietnam ally.

You might think we like to gather to talk about the war, but that isn’t the attraction. I think when we’re among our vet family is the only time we’re surrounded by people who truly understand us, people who earned our respect and know that we earned theirs, and maybe we see in each other what we like most about ourselves. I wouldn’t trade that for a hundred Woodstocks.

                                 AH-1 (Snake) ... ca. 1968

[Terry Garlock lives in Peachtree City. He writes about the Vietnam War frequently because, in his own words, “Common knowledge about the war and those who fought it is so wrong.” His email is tgarlock@mindspring.com.]

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-Fini     (Nothing more needs saying.) 

Friday, June 1, 2012

01 JUN 12

Was stung by a wasp yesterday. Seems they are taking up nest-building inside the small garden cabinet on the back deck. I reached in to get a basket hook and ... wham! Caught me on the little finger, left hand. Soaked it in ice water for 30 min, then washed it with white vinegar. There was no significant swelling.
Only the second time in my life to be stung ... hope it's the last.
While not debilitating, it certainly was painful.


Had a poem published here:

The poetry section is toward the middle of the page.