Odds and Ends No. 63


The alarm went off at zero two thirty
as planned. On the road to the
airport by zero three fifteen. The

only thing I asked myself on that
drive was, “Where in the heck are
all these people going at this hour?”

She had to get there two hours before
her flight because of construction—
so, it was now about four. I pulled

away from the terminal. Where did
the sign go? Where did the turn off
go? The next sign I saw let me know

that I was about to get on the wrong
highway heading East instead of West.
I got off at the next exit to turn around.

I was thinking coffee, food, or sleep. I
made my way through downtown
Phoenix back on the 17 heading

North to the 101 and exit at 67th Ave
going North. All the things I thought
about were for nothing. Looking left

and right as I drove North. Donut shop,
closed. Egg and cheese, closed. Burritos,
closed. Bagels, closed. Nothing open yet

at four in the morning in my neck of
the desert. Bright lights ahead. Gas
station. I was dying. Their fresh fast

food (oxymoron alert) counter wasn’t
open yet. There it was sitting under a
heat lamp marked down to a dollar—

a lone wrapped sausage biscuit from
the previous business day. It was mine!
Well, of course it was; it had to be okay.

I was sure it had enough chemicals in
it, plus the heat lamp all night. The
chances of it killing me were slim.

I sat in the car, took a sip of coffee and
a bite of my first food of the day. The
biscuit stuck to the roof of my mouth.

I took another sip of coffee. (Would
have Army field rations been a better
choice?) Bite, sip. Bite, sip, bite, sip

and I was on the road again. A few more
miles to go and I was home. This stop
set the stage for a bad food day. I was

too tired to cook anything and too over
tired to go to sleep in the middle of the
day. I wanted to watch episode six of

of the Vietnam War film. I ran out for
fast food and watched it. Did some
writing, then watched episode seven.

I’m sitting here in shock at the huge
amount of lying at high levels. (My
emotional response is unprintable!)

The film told amazing stories. Like the
one about a young North Vietnamese
girl (of hundreds of them) who drove

trucks at night on the Ho Chi Minh trail.
Her boyfriend was an engineer working on
a different section of one of these roads.

When the film narrator showed a picture
of them both then, but said they found
each other after the war and got married,

I cheered, thanking God they made it. Well,
what do you expect? My hiking boots are
made in Vietnam; the pho soup in my

pantry is made in Vietnam. The war, thank
God, is over; but I have three episodes left
to watch. I hope I can get through them!

Tough going watching this series. But I’m
glad. My memories of Vietnam remain my
own, but the film is adding information

and perspectives I wasn’t fully aware of
before. But some things don’t change. I
still love all of Vietnam and all of her

people hoping that my love for them is
becoming more like the Lord’s love for
me. Crazy long day. Crazy long emotional

day revisiting Vietnam, too. But all is well.
Looks like PB&J or pho while I watch the
next episode. Then bed; I’m whipped.

Odds and Ends No. 37


I was thinking about what to write while
I was eating a Popsicle to freeze my throat.
I eat the flavor she doesn’t like. Grape.

Soothing. The temperature dropped thirty
degrees from last week to this. We’ve both
been sick. Most likely a virus with a cough.

She came home on Thursday with a horrible
cold and cough. I was already trying to get
rid of a cold no cough. Now I have a cough.

When you are married you share everything,
isn’t that true? We are getting to the end of
the big batch of soup I made over the

weekend. Using the biggest pot we have, I
started to sauté a bunch of celery, a few
onions while I chopped up five huge carrots.

When the veggies were cooked, I added five
boxes of chicken broth, then added the carrots
to the pot. While that was coming to a boil,

I opened a fresh pack of chicken breasts,
trimmed them well so she’d eat them, and cut
them into small pieces. Egg noodle water was

heating in the back; the big pot diagonal to
that one on the front, so they’d fit on the stove.
Now, what would fit on the front medium

burner for the chicken? Pans were too wide. Ah,
my wok will work. A touch of canola followed by
the sizzle of chicken. A few minutes later, into

the soup pot. I cleaned up the wok and put it
back in the oven where it belongs. When I do a
noodle soup, I cook and keep the egg noodles

separate from the soup. A few reasons. Firstly,
they won’t turn to mush and absorb all the soup
when it sits in the fridge for a few days. Secondly,

if you want a few noodles, take a few; if you want
more take more. Works better and tastes better.
I store the leftover noodles in a gallon plastic bag

in the fridge. Takes up less room; easy to get some
for the next day’s soup warm up. She wasn’t feeling
too hot today, so all she could handle was some of

the broth with a quarter cup of TVP. (Happy to make
it for her upon request; I might try TVP someday.
Not today.) When you are sick, everything you do

wears you out. If you could hear outside our house
right now, you’d be aware of an increase in day and
night training flights out of Luke AFB. They always

loop near our house. Chicken soup is all I can handle.
Flying a jet is not for me. I crewed aircraft for the Army
in Vietnam. That fulfilled any desire to fly or not to

fly on my part. Flying was the easy part; taking off was
the challenge. The planes were P2V-Neptunes and were
probably ten years old or so when I flew them in 1967.

Correction. I was crew. I worked equipment. Not a pilot
or crew chief. There for the dawn to dusk ride. It seemed
important at the time. The chicken soup seems more

important at the moment. The thought of bombing
another country with wave after wave of chicken soup
just came to mind. They’d appreciate it more. Diplomat,

I’m not. My soldier side is thinking many other things
better left unsaid. That is why Jesus loved humankind
but didn’t trust humankind; he knows what is in the

hearts and minds of Man (Meaning, and Woman). He
said there would be wars and rumors of wars not because
of him, but because he knows us. Without God, there is

a limit to what we can do for the good. Human nature
without God gets in the way. If you don’t believe that,
then it is highly probable what Jesus said is true and

something is getting in the way. Nothing like a good
hot bowl of chicken soup. It is good to continue to do
good, even so. Nothing like the truth to stir the pot.

Odds and Ends No. 24


I’m not a “selfie” kind of guy. Today
was an exception. There was a time
when I reported to Vietnam, sitting

around in a GP-Medium tent in Tan
Son Nhut waiting for my in-country
orders. This grunt throws a pair of

jungle boots into a trash can as he
walks by. Knowing that as a linguist
the likelihood of me getting issued

a pair of those was slim to none, I
hopped off my cot and saved them
from the trash heap. They were kind

of worn out, but they fit. The Army
got their money’s worth out of those
boots; I wore them my whole tour.

Same idea with the hat. I got it years
later because it reminded me of
Vietnam. But I never wore it because

I never wore it. I wore it today walking
Thunderbird; first walk since my last
one a while back. My face is still

swollen, I still itch, and my feet still
hurt and are swollen, too. But they fit
into my hiking boots. Surprise, surprise.

So, I said I’m walking today no matter
what with an attitude, so I wore the
hat. Not to worry. The mountain trail

wasn’t crowded during the high heat of
the day, so even though I felt silly few
would notice or identify with the hat.

Still, it bothered me as I enjoyed the
walk. The shortest trail took me about
forty-five minutes. And I didn’t die,

pass out, or need my EPI pen. All is well.
People may look at me funny, but the
hat does keep the sun off my neck. Will

I wear it again? Not sure. “But I never
wore it because I never wore it” still
stands. Out of respect, I doubt I’ll wear

it again. I got carried away. Anyway, that
is how determined I was to walk today.
Coffee may figure in. No coffee pot still.

We had tea with breakfast. Mid-morning
blahs hit. I pulled out ye olde coffee press.
She didn’t like it. Two sips and pitched it.

I loved it and sailed through lunch. I didn’t
feel like walking but I had to! A wedding to
go to next weekend. I’d love to lose twenty

pounds by then. Well, maybe in next few
months. I’ll work on it. But I won’t be
buying jeans until the last minute just in

case I can squeeze into an old pair. If Satan
were here, I’d punch him in the nose; this
year-long sickness thing has got to go.

I refuse to not heal. All is well. She is out.
I better make something for dinner now.
No more coffee today!  War movie or sci-fi?

Remembering


It is Veterans Day. I’m remembering. Please read the reprint below. A vet-friend of mine at Lilly sent it to me this morning. This is excellent and special for today. Author info is at the end. So, with this offering, hats off to all my fellow vets. (Respectfully submitted, SFC Slaff, US Army Retired.)

What is a Veteran?

Some veterans bear visible signs of their service … a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye.

Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg – or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul’s ally forged in the refinery of adversity.

Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem.

You can’t tell a vet just by looking.

He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn’t run out of fuel.

He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.

She – or he – is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.

He is the POW who went away one person and came back another – or didn’t come back AT ALL.

He is the Quantico drill instructor who has never seen combat – but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang members into Marines, and teaching them to watch each other’s backs.

He is the parade – riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.

He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by.

He is the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb Of The Unknowns, whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor dies unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean’s sunless deep.

He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket – palsied now and aggravatingly slow – who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.

He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being – a person who offered some of his life’s most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.

He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.

So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean over and say Thank You. That’s all most people need, and in most cases it will mean more than any medals they could have been awarded or were awarded.

Two little words that mean a lot, “THANK YOU”.

“It is the soldier, not the reporter, Who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, Who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, Who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, Who salutes the flag, Who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protestor to burn the flag.”

Anthony Barton Hinkle
Published by Richmond Times-Dispatch Nov 11, 2005
This editorial first appeared in 1995
Note: This has been erroneously attributed to Father Dennis Edward O’Brien, USMC.

Have I said this before?


Have I said this before? “I’ve forgotten more than most people remember.” Therefore, it is time critical that I write a new book.

I decided to continue my writing dream with a book, an historical fiction. Today, I started a new book about my Vietnam War and US Army memories, experiences, etc.

Me in Vietnam

This photo is really me in Vietnam when I was assigned to the 1st RR Co (AVN) in Cam Ran Bay, 1967-68. The assignment was supposed to be temporary and lasted for many months! I was a crew member for Crazy Cat on P2V Neptune aircraft.

Writing this book will take a while. Much more time consuming than I thought. Forgot more than I thought! Trying to remember and sort through the memories.