TIME

We’ve all heard it, ”Time flies when you’re having fun” . Well I guess I’ve had a very fun life because time has sure gone past pretty darn fast!
There’s twenty four hours a day, but where do they go? I work as a farrier shoeing horses. With all my customers I make appointments for my next visit, recording them in my calendar. Each Monday morning I look over my calendar and see what I got to do. Already printed on the pages is a number representing the week of the year. Boom, Boom, Boom! These weeks fly by so fast! I looked yesterday and shook my head – August is done, already gone and 2014 almost seems like it just started. I look back and think -. Gees , I’m 58 yrs old, where did the time go? This past summer I attended my graduating class’ 40th reunion. I got to thinking about it, 40 years have gone by and what have I done?
Well for one thing I was gifted enough to write a couple books to somewhat document some of my life: GUIDE’S LIFE covering my time as a professional guide in Idaho’s Salmon River Wilderness Area; my over 22yrs of military service in the Army Reserve / National Guard; and my move to Denmark, setting up a new life and job. Then I penned a book called THOUGHTS OF A CRAZY OLD MAN. It’s a bunch of thoughts of life I’ve had and related many of them to experiences I’ve had while growing up. I’m not giving up my day job as book sales haven’t been the greatest due to the fact it takes lots of money to promote them, and I just don’t have the resources needed. I was lucky enough to scrape enough together to get them published. At least one thing, I now feel like I’ve left my mark on life and there is a recording of my life for history’s readers to read if they want. I never had any kids, so this was the only way I knew to preserve what I’ve tried to do with my life.
I remember when I was just a pup. I thought I had all the time in my life. If twenty ever arrived , well that was a long way away – now it’s thirty eight years in the past!
It’s amazing the things I’ve seen in my life time: man going into space, supersonic flight, the expansion of the personal computer, mobile phones. I remember the show “Jetsons”, where they could see the person they were talking to on the phone – now it’s no big deal. What’s really amazing is my brother’s kids are grown up and got their own kids. It seems like only yesterday they were knee high to a grasshopper.
If the next few years are as fast in passing as the previous years, I’ll be over a 100yrs old before you know it. But in all reality I’ll probably never see that age. In a year and a half I’ll be able to start getting my military pension, something I planned for so many years ago. Sure it’s not much seeing how my career was in the Army Reserve, but the way I look at it, anything is better than nothing. I’m just glad I had the foresight to achieve this goal. In just six and a half years I’ll be able to draw my pension, what there is of it. Anyway life goes on no matter what we do or plan for.
One thing I’ve learned is we can do all the planning in life we want, but as time rolls by, many cases we don’t have much of a say as to what happens. The only thing we can do play the cards we’ve been dealt. One thing I do know, I’m glad I planned a head for many things. Sure many plans fell apart, but many also came out just fine. Even though we sit down and take a break, time still rolls along, dragging us along for the ride to where ever it takes us.
There’s nothing we can do about time, it will still keep rolling on, but we can plan for things and hopefully some of those things will come about. Ops! Time to take the dogs for a walk!!

M.A.S.H.

In high school I grew up with M.A.S.H. I’m sure everyone knows what the show was about – a hospital unit’s experiences during the Korean War. Back then I wanted to see every week’s new episode as I thought the humor was great. I loved the antics of all the characters and it was great fun to watch. But then something happened, I grew up, joined the military and attended my own war. I was in Kuwait / Iraq from Feb 2003 – Feb 2004, and but away from home much longer. It wasn’t until around 2006 one evening I turned the TV on and guess what was on – yea, M.A.S.H. So I sat down and began to watch, but this time there was no humor, in fact most of the time by the end of the show I’d have tears in my eyes because now I was looking at war from a whole different prospective.
I was trained as an infantryman. We’ve all seen the war movies of these guys slogging it out on the battle field, doing what infantrymen do as a job, but rarely do we see shows about Combat Support people and the lives they lived and what they dealt with. They have their own wars to fight as well. By the time I went to war I was a Sergeant Major. Even though I was 11B, infantry, my job was the G3 Operations Sergeant for V Corps Rear HQ. I had a lot on my plate, but I was far from the front lines to begin with. Sure we had missile attacks and after we moved north to Iraq mortar, rockets, snipers, IEDs and such, but I was still not considered “frontline”. And I guess this is why M.A.S.H. affected me so hard. It showed many of the things I’d dealt with and experiences I’d been through.
Last night’s episode really hit a point. It was about a famous news paper guy covering the story of blood being donated in the States and he followed the blood to the 4077th to see how it was being used. He wanted to give the readers at home, the ones who’d donated the blood an insight to whom had received this precious cargo. Finally a guy gets a pint of blood and the reporter goes to interview him. The soldier was on a motorcycle delivering a message. The reporter asked if it was dangerous, was he shot, enemy fire or what had brought him down. Dangerous – no way the soldier replied, if it had been dangerous he’d never volunteered. As for the injury, well his bike had hit a rock and been injured in the accident, thus he was receiving the first pint of donated blood. But when the reporter filed his story, he blew up the story into an act of heroism for his readers. Hawkeye just happened to be in the orderly room when the reporter was filing the report. When the reporter was finished, Hawkeye asked him why he made up such a lie and didn’t just tell the truth. Because, replied the reporter, he felt the people at home wanted to hear a war story, act of courage behind the soldier who received the blood. Hawkeye came back at the reporter and asked him if he thought war was glamorous? Well it wasn’t Hawkeye continued, war was about as bad as it could get. This is one thing I can attest to – the main stream media will tell you only what they want you to hear and how they want it to be told. I was really disappointed learning this.
The other thing about M.A.S.H. was all the everyday things soldiers had to deal with. Almost every episode had something I had experienced, all except the medical part of which I’m glad I didn’t have to. Those people are extra special to do the jobs they do!
Sometime you need to watch M.A.S.H. and really listed to the message they tried to get through. Hawkeye, in real person served as a gunnery officer during the Korean War. I’m glad someone had the guts to get on the silver screen and tried to tell it like it really was. Yea funny things happened, but there is so much more to it than that. Yes we’ve all seen the war movies and followed the front line servicemen doing their jobs, but there were others there as well. And each of them had to deal with problems at home, getting mail, boring times (yes there are boring times), doing jobs you don’t like to do, going places you don’t want to go, being away from those you love. Holidays always end up focusing on those at home and even though you have the people you’re deployed with, it’s not the same as family.
I’m thankful for M.A.S.H. and would personally like to thank everyone who took the time to work on that show set, from the stars all the way down to the kid picking up garbage. That show was some of the best counseling time I had after I came home. Living where I couldn’t get that kind of help, M.A.S.H. was a life line for me. THANKS for helping me though the tough times.

TIME GOES ON, SO DOES LIFE

31 August it will be a year since I lost Jessy, how the past year has gone, and yet there hasn’t been a day I haven’t thought of her. Thirteen years to make an impression on my life and she did. The day she departed there was a big hole left in my life, but my life must go on.
It didn’t matter if I was gone five minutes, five hours, five days or five weeks, she was so glad to see me. Each time I came home, no matter how long I was gone she needed to have my hat. Jessy would then trot in the house with her tail wagging until she got to her place where she’d lay down and I had to spend the next fifteen minutes or so petting and talking to her. I’d ask her about her day if she’d been a good girl. Did she have a great walk. She’d look back at me with those big dark dancing eyes and she always talked to me. She had a way of, well it was a bark, or whine, but it was her own special noise she made and I’ve never heard another dog do it. But we’d sit and talk; her tail busy beating the bed she was on while my hand was busy petting every part of her. As soon as she thought it was enough time Jessy would let me have my hat. If it wasn’t enough time, she’d hang on to it until her time was up. So it was for so many years. I tell you, it was hard the first week or so, coming home and no little friend coming out to get my hat. I enter the house and now for the first time in thirteen years I’d hang my own hat.
We shared everything. She’d eat her own dinner, but she’d always sit next to me when I sat down to eat. It didn’t matter if it was at the table or if I sat on the sofa with my plate on the coffee table, she was next to me. Jessy never begged like so many dogs do, she was very polite and had manners. She would sit quietly watching me after a while developing a little long face and sad eyes. This was her way of making me feel like a heel for not sharing. Jessy loved her veggies! Peas, carrots, broccoli, and one of her all time favorites – cabbage! Now me I love to slice of a big hung of cabbage and eat it raw, so did Jessy! August was a big time for her, the corn was ready and she loved to eat corn on the cob. Peas were also the same. If we walked through a pea field, she’d get the pea pods and eat the peas herself – Same way with raspberries. They were also a favorite and at the right time of the year when I took her for a walk and would pick some fresh raspberries for myself I had to share. After the first time I showed her where they grew, she’d pick them herself. So after that I’d always pick the high one for me and leave the low easy ones for Jessy.
Jessy knew when bed time was, and when it rolled around she’d get up, look at me and head upstairs. If I was a little slow when I got there I’d find her in bed waiting for me. It got so I always had a little snack for her which she enjoyed. Also I got to carrying a bowl of water up stairs for her so she’d have a drink at night if needed. In her later years, I built a little ramp so she didn’t have to jump up into bed. The first time with the ramp, she looked at it, up she went and went to bed. Some nights I’d wake up and she’d have her body pressed as tight as she could next to me. Jessy also snored! Some nights I’d wake up and she was sawing logs as loud as any person I’ve heard.
So now for the past year all I can do is every morning when I go to work, I walk past where she’s buried (under my bedroom window) and say good morning to her and let her know I’m headed to work and have a nice day. Every evening when I get back I walk past her spot and let her know I’m home. After I’ve taken the two dogs we got now out for their last evening walk, I’ll come around and say good night to her. Sounds pretty crazy doesn’t it? But her whole life she had unconditional love for me. She gave, gave and gave to me. She’d sit outside waiting for me to come home every night. If I was late, Jette would call me and ask when I was going to be back because Jessy was sitting outside waiting. I have never experienced the love and bond we had for each other and as I said, there were no conditions, she gave freely and so did I.
So as this first year closes out, my first year without Jessy I’m thinking extra lot about her daily. She will always be with me as I have so many good memories and pictures to look at. Best of all, even after a year, she still makes me smile!

The World that wasn’t changed: or was it?

We’ve spent plenty of time talking about the “Greatest Generation”, those who fought WWII. Now I want to focus on some of those who were their kids – those who went to Vietnam.
I’m a member of a website: TOGETHER WE SERVED. It is for all service members who have given of themselves for the defense of our country. Those of us who belong have a profile showing our military careers posted so all can see. We get connected with our Brothers/Sisters-in-Arms and communicate. Included in this site are memorial pages for those who’ve given the ultimate sacrifice – their lives. On this site I have volunteered to help honor those who’ve fallen in Vietnam and this is what I want to talk a bit about.
To begin with, it was something to do, something to still be “taking care of soldiers”, my final job in the Army as a Sergeant Major I did plenty of “taking care of soldiers” and enjoyed it. So this was naturally a good deal for me. I was helping families to remember their loved ones who came home in a box under a flag. But after a while it soon began to have an effect on me. As I was doing the research of these soldiers still on patrol, I really began to learn a little part of their lives, and how their loss affected loved ones and is still affecting those who lived the experiences with them and many times held them as they died. And for a while I had to stop working on them just to collect myself.
Many of these brave men were drafted, they had no choice, well maybe they did, they could have turned tail and ran to Canada as some did, but they stood their ground and answered their nation’s call, despite all the unrest that was against them. Was this due to the fact of their parent’s, the Greatest Generation’s sacrifices? Or was it something else. We’ll never really know what they were thinking.
As I have learned about many of these young men, and I use the word young as many were under 20yrs old when they departed this life. I’ve also wondered how the absents of over 50,000 lives has affected the world. I stopped one day and thought there were over 50,000 Moms and Dads who lost their kids. How many wives and children who went without, I’ve never stopped to count, nor do I want to think about it. I’ve read what parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, guys who fought, bled and held them have written and it has really affected the way I look at these profiles. Most all of these young men were counting on coming home. Many had plans for a job, school, they had their favorite car, motorcycle just waiting for them. Many had girl friends, engaged to be married, many were married, many had children they never got to hold or know. Many had little ones they left at home who hardly have any memories of their Dads.
The worst part for these who gave so much is they were virtually stepped on for what they did. A soldier is not political, he goes to war because there are so many who will not and need someone else to do the dirty work for them. These men could have taken the easy way out, but they didn’t, and now they are forever young. There were men who’d gone to college and were on the way to be something great. There was the mechanic who loved to work on cars. That ranch kid who’d grown up on a horse working cattle, the farmer’s son who knew how to grow a crop and was coming home to take over the family business. Many were from the city who had no idea what being out in the jungle was until they hit the army. All walks of life were represented by the fallen of Vietnam. I just wonder how the world would have been changed if these lives could have been spared to sudden end they came to and was able to full fill their lives?
Every generation has those who’ve answered the call and hopefully always will. My generation’s war was nothing like the “Great Generation’s” war, but we did our part as have everyone before me and as those who follow me will continue to do.
One other thing I’ve had to think about – what is the price those who served with them are still paying every day? Many of the Vietnam Vets are now in their 60’s and 70’s. Many of these men have lived with the feelings of guilt – they survived and their buddy didn’t. A picture can bring back those vivid memories and events as if they were yesterday. From my research I know for the past 30yrs or so, the living never forgot their buddies, nor will they ever.
So I am back to work on my profiles now. I had to take a break. I guess it also takes me a little more time to do one because I read everything I can of the soldier I am honoring. Many times I only get one an evening done because I just got to read and remember him. I know one thing as long as there is an internet, and http://www.togetherweserved.com is there, those still on patrol will never be forgotten.