American Jack English, a sprightly 93 year old whose home is his castle in woodlandJack English could teach the youth of today a thing or two about lifestyle, the great majority of which will not even see retirement age; through ill health attributed to modern day living. I would love to end my days as Jack will. Yours Aye.
A spectacular new book entitled ‘Vietnam The Real War’ containing images taken by Associated Press war photographers has been released to remember 50 years since the conflict began, it also serves as a photographic record of the Vietnam War. The book’s publication will coincide with an exhibition at the Steven Kasher Gallery in Manhattan, that will run from October 24 to November 26 2013. The above main picture, by Henri Huet, shows U.S. Marines nest to their foxholes after a third night of fighting against North Vietnamese troops in September 1966. The image on the right, also by Huet, shows U.S. paratroopers hold their automatic weapons above water as they cross a river in the rain during a search for Viet Cong positions in the jungle area of Ben Cat on September 25, 1965.
As a young teen I went to an exhibition by self-taught British photographer Tim Page, who operated in theatre, as well as worked around various units within Vietnam. Page was wounded several times at various intervals of the war, each time returning for more. Throughout his exhibition he gave commentary on each photograph displayed. All fascinating stuff, non political, just told it as it was. As I was hopeless at art, It inspired me to take up ‘click and pray’ photography as a (very expensive) hobby. A great big Hallelujah for the coming of the digital camera. Yours Aye.
Service members returning from combat with serious injuries sometimes face the terrible news of amputation. And the military is getting better with providing them mentors with insight into their condition:
Nick Newell, a World Series of Fighting lightweight star, visited with members of “Operation Warrior Reconnect,” the Los Angeles Times reported. He met with the troops last Wednesday in Camp Pendleton, Calif., and was humbled by their appreciation of him.
Nick Newell is an one-arm MMA fighter. Go to the link to see Nick fighting Keon Caldwell.
My usual Friday early morning routine is set in granite. It finds me sat atop the felled tree logs with my tin mug toppers with red-hot tea, observing my two Staffies as they mount a canine clearing patrol around the fields. Nothing can ever fault such a start to the day, no matter what the weather may be. Except this morning was different, a first even, because from behind my rosy position of solace, I could hear a ‘whine’ in the far distance (as I’m not married, and don’t have a wife, I instantly wrote that one off as the possible source)! The pitch grew louder causing me to look over my shoulder; just then two Typhoon FGR4 fighter-bombers flying ultra low level, screamed directly overhead, upon which they hit their after burners and powered into a vertical climb, like two home-sick angels.
The whine turned into a deafening roar of jet turbine engines, from which their super heated wash created a visible swirling turbulence. The canine clearing patrol appeared at the gallop from the long grass seeking refuge upon me, spilling the contents of my tin mug into the crutch of my rugby shorts. Bloody RAF. Bloody Staffies. Bloody hot tea… I watched the jets ride on until they were black dots, chuckling to myself whilst holding the material of my shorts away from my bare skin. The noise will have at least wound up ‘Mr. Angry’ from the village, which reminded me of a previous evolution…
One early morning last summer I received a caller at the door, it turned out to be the local busy body from the small village nearest to me (an ex-civil servant who I shall refer to as ‘Major Blunder’, due to his dated pompous arrogance, colonial attire, abrupt clipped speech, and walrus moustache). A neatly printed form attached to a clipboard was thrust in front of me, with an order (not a polite request) to read & sign the petition; with his finger tapping on the spot next to my address, with ‘name unknown’ next to it. I can also do rude and bad manners when required, which I did, on my doorstep. A full blistering barrage, that brought the devil to attention, and stopped the horses grazing in the adjoining field. Major Blunder left with a flea in each ear… that probably irritated him for the rest of his day. <— Similar version of Major Blunder.
Major Blunder’s petition was an action being passed around the villages within the Parish boundary. It was aimed at stopping the RAF from conducting early morning, and late evening training flights, both by fast jets as well as choppers. When I checked my mail later, I also found a flier full of bureaucratic procedure that only an ex-uncivil servant could have put together, though it did contain details for a planned meeting in the local village hall covering the same issue. Three days later I attended the meeting early, and landed a seat in the front row. All who dwell within a country village worth their salt will attend such a meeting, as it is the done thing and expected, it’s English, it’s traditional. Bah~Humbug to those who decline!
A veritable host of bribes refreshments had been laid on, which someone had taken their time presenting, it also included fresh tea and coffee, with plain digestive, and milk chocolate biscuits! Major Blunder I presume? The great man appeared and called the meeting to order, with a small committee aside him presiding on an elevated platform, looking over the great unwashed below. After much discussion to and fro, the eventual consensus of opinion of the gathering appeared to be that although the noise from the aircraft could be loud when the weather was over cast, it was also bearable. It was obvious from the flight patterns that the sorties also changed quite frequently, switching their aerobatic dogfights from land, to the heavens over the North Sea. I waited until the very end to have my say, and fired one barrel over the heads of the gathered crowd as a safety shot. Not many, if any know of my past, of which I prefer
As I addressed the multitude, I obviously spoke against the petition. Jet-powered aircraft create intense noise from aerodynamics, which is affected greatly by atmospheric pressure and weather conditions, etc, etc. I spoke of the importance of pilot training throughout the military, and how others and I had required the assistance of fast jets as well as choppers throughout my previous life as a Bootneck. In addition I asked them to think of those serving now, who, when in contact with the enemy close up and personal, could end up severely maimed or badly wounded casualties. Their chances of survival required skilled pilots flying the blood chariots with medics to extract them. Or they may well require ordnance from fast jets, delivered danger close to their own positions to stave of attacks. I purposely kept the controlled rant short and sweet, which must have hit a raw nerve, as several couples asked for their names to be withdrawn from the petition.
I saved the second barrel for Major Blunder and his rag tag committee, which I blatantly aimed at his outmoded heart, and gently, squeezed the trigger. I asked them not to take my words for granted, and mentioned that I could arrange a visit to HEADLEY COURT, The Defence Medical Rehabilitation service from where they could hear first hand accounts of the bravery of such pilots flying blind in medevac dust off’s, or pilots conducting strafing runs danger close. This from those whose lives had been saved through the same selfless commendable action’s. I waited for a response, which was met by a wall of silence, and ‘eyes to the floor’ embarrassment. Thought not!
At the end of the meeting, I declined the proffered 30 pieces of silver cup of tea and biscuits, as well as the social banter that would normally follow. Shortly after I heard that the whole petition formulated by Major Blunder had crashed and burned. A feeling I knew well, as my tin mug of tea had been quite fresh and hot when it was doused over my lap, through the
sheer panic fighting withdrawal action conducted by Hannah & Joss as they made their way back to my position. C’est la guerre… Yours Aye.
In Fijian culture it is thought that good things come through the head and are passed down to the feet. It is important to make sure that one’s head is not above others in the room. To this end Sgt Rusiate Bolavucu, 32, of the 1st Battalion Duke of Lancaster Regiment, was following an ancient tradition from his Fijian homeland when the Queen visited Kendal, Cumbria. Fijian soldier SAT DOWN when he met the Queen Well wishers cheering the Queen were startled when the soldier she’d just spoken to suddenly sat himself down in the road. Many thought he’d collapsed with heat exhaustion during the royal tour of Kendal, Cumbria. But Her Majesty knew exactly what was going on and didn’t bat an eyelid.
Fijians have served within the UK’s Armed Forces for several generations, which started in WWII in the fight against the Japanese. They are a Nation of unsung heroes. Many have served as SAS ‘blades’ with distinction, they continue to do so.
If you have time and the inclination, I would ask you to search upon the heroic action of SAS Sergeant Talaiasi Labalaba, 30, a Fijian known to his comrades-in-arms as “Laba”. It took place in a small sea port town called Mirbat, Oman. Awards for Bravery
Ex-submariner, 67 year-old Rodney ‘Vic’ Silvester of Porchester, Portsmouth, was laid to rest with dignity, surrounded by mourners unknown to him, as ‘Vic’ had no immediate family and only one distant relative. The word soon quickly spread around the British Legion, the Submariner’s Association, as well as the Royal Marine Association. Scores of strangers turn up to veteran’s funeral after care home’s Facebook plea for mourners They answered the call and stood-too for this veteran ‘sun-dodger’ who was laid to rest with full military honours, with the last post played by a Royal Marine Bugler.
Rest In Peace ship-mate. Yours Aye.
I have google alerts that diligently collect any stories on the Navy. I have other alerts set for various other stories that interest me. This one wins the trifecta, the Navy, languages, and veterans:
When police found the unconscious man in a Southern California Motel 6, the IDs on him said he was Michael Thomas Boatwright from Florida.
But when the man awoke at Desert Regional Medical Center a few days later, he said he’d never heard of Boatwright.
He didn’t recall serving in the U.S. Navy. Or of being born in Florida.
When doctors told him he had five tennis rackets in his hotel room, he couldn’t say why.
When they showed him photos of himself with others, he didn’t recognize them, or himself.
And he didn’t speak a word of English.
The man said his name was Johan Ek.
And he said it in Swedish.
That was back in February.
Today, the 61-year-old man says he has come to terms with the name “Michael Boatwright,” but only because doctors told him he should.
He still feels like Johan Ek from Sweden.
An interesting story. Hope Jonah, er Michael, gets his memory back. (FYI, He’d served from 1971 to 1973 in the Navy as an aviation mechanic.)
NavyOne and I work together, well, technically, worked together, past tense. He left today. I’ve spent the last couple of years enjoying his odd and brilliant sense of humor and watching him grow as a Naval Officer and enjoying the effect/affect he’s had on those around him. We work (worked) in a cubicle farm, and there was always lively and entertaining conversation; it was fairly certain that visitors to the cube were immediately gunned down in the constant verbal crossfire. Of course there was (some amount) of work going on – usually by NavyOne… The running verbal gun battle was routinely interrupted by the armistice of Breakfast burrito Wednesday’s – a ritual demanded by NavyOne to satisfy his insatiable burrito addiction – (factoid: my statistics come out to: NavyOne was averaging at four per day…).
In our time together, I offered what mentorship I could to further his career (only some took…). In fact, I think, when I was wearing a uniform, I may have actually written his performance evaluation once (or twice) – And, I’m happy to report, my musings over his performance had no adverse effect on his career… I think. He may disagree.
The truth of the matter is that in a career in the Navy, one meets all kinds of Officers. good, bad, effective, knuckleheads, superstars, future Admirals, guys who couldn’t lead themselves out of a wet paper bag – etcetera.
NavyOne happens to solidly land in the category of superstar, in my opinion. He’s a truly patriotic, thoughtful, dedicated, inspired, brilliant, hard-working, caring Officer. The kind of man that every CO prays to have in his wardroom. The Navy has chosen to remove him from the cubicle farm and send him to Sea – the only proper place for a sailor. I, for one, am glad he’s going out there to stand the watch for us. I’ll sleep better at night.
NavyOne: ”THEY” are going to LOVE you out there, and – you are going to LOVE life at Sea. Trust me.
Keep doing amazing work – shipmate. I’ll miss ya. And, where you are going – you’ll miss the burritos.
A few years back I was carrying out some research on a local WWII airfield (now redundant) that was home to a Spitfire Squadron, whose role was to protect York from Nazi bombers. Whilst trawling the net I came across a short film that was produced for the Sundance film festival, which I almost gave up on watching (I am so glad that I persevered). Up until this morning I had forgotten about the remarkable story, until it appeared on the Blog of Theo Spark, ‘Last of the Few’
SPITFIRE 944 – YouTube 22 year old Pilot Lieutenant John S. Blyth, is one of many WWII servicemen who took it in their stride and got the job done. They are all heroes in the true sense of the word. It required a few good men to bring the story of John S Blyth to the screen, which I am thankful for. If you have a few minutes on your hands, you too can share this young American’s amazing story
I very rarely make a plug for money, but I have news of an important organization that is trying to get their feet off the ground. Any help you can offer in the form of monetary donations (small or large) would help tremendously. They are called Hooked on Heroes:
Hooked on Heroes is meant to offer wounded warriors, veterans and disadvantaged youths the opportunity to take break and go fishing. The main goal is to give something back to our heroes and to help our youth appreciate the gifts and lessons offered by mother nature through fishing.
I can personally vouch for the integrity of the org and their mission…
Courtesy of reader Lauren: the Veterans of Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, actors who portrayed them in the HBO series “Band of Brothers” along with Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg all signed this poster which will be auctioned off on eBay starting June 6th. The proceeds will be donated to GallantFew. Do go check it out. This is truly a worthwhile charity…
When is a rat not a rat?
When he is a Desert Rat!
One who served when called upon, and fought with distinction against incredible odds! Who, when ordered to “fight to the last man, the last round, and not to retire” did just that. With a ram-rod for a backbone, this Desert Rat engaged the enemy with a 25 pounder artillery gun at point-blank range, against overwhelming odds:
Former Sergeant Ray Ellis, of the 426th Battery of the South Nottinghamshire Hussars, was the last man standing; who did indeed fire the last round in action of that bloody battle that destroyed the Panzer tank he took aim upon.
The regiment around him was cut down and slaughtered to a man, each as they stood by their orders and their guns.
Ray Ellis, a 92-year-old veteran of the Second World War reflects upon a true story that happened on 6th June 1942. “The Battle of Knightsbridge” (reputed to be one of the bloodiest battles of WWII), which raged for three relentless days in the deserts of North Africa, against ‘Field Marshall Irwin Rommel’ and his advancing Panzer Korps.
We all should remember the sacrifice made by those who fought for our freedom, as they gave their own to secure it.
24-year-old Navy veteran Nick Romano was in Florida last week when his Baltimore house was burglarized in a home invasion.
His buddies helped him get a shotgun and he was shooting the thing in his backyard. Then the cops came by his house and shot him in the chest!
Granted he shouldn’t squeeze off rounds in a residential neighborhood, but did the police have to go live on him?
I always give veterans the benefit of the doubt. I support them and even when I don’t agree with ‘em, I wish vets the best. Yet Iraqi War vet Tomas Young is beyond the pale with this:
An Iraq War veteran who joined the U.S. Army two days after 9/11 has written a powerful open letter to former President George W. Bush and ex-Vice President Dick Cheney accusing them of war crimes, “plunder” and “the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.”
Tomas Young, who was shot and paralyzed during an insurgent attack in Sadr City in 2004, five days into his first deployment, penned the letter from his Kansas City, Mo., home, where he’s under hospice care.
“I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney,” Young wrote in the letter published on Truthdig.com. “I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.”
Thanks for your service, Mr. Young.
Samantha Ford’s boyfriend Albert DeSimone is a Soldier, assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armor Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. He is currently in Afghanistan and today someone made Samantha’s day.