Gold Star Dad

The thoughts of a father who has lost a son to war

From last year memorial day

Posted by fozzynok on 05/26/2023

This is from last year.. nothing has changed

So, its been 14 years… and the trail has been a winding mess of things I never wanted, and never wanted to do. For some reason this year, the whole thing is getting to me. The last time that I felt this way was when we all lost the troops in Afghanistan when we finally got out of that damned quagmire. Not sleeping, bothered by everything and on guard not to blow up in someones face who is just a well meaning toad. Today I have even more mixed emotions because more parents have lost their kids.. in a lot of similar ways to the way I lost mine. And Those parents also never wanted any of this.. now of course, the grief porn industry is sticking microphones in their faces and just like most of us, they are not ready to talk about it, they are still trying to process why their children met violent ends and they couldn’t do a god damned thing about it. Now some nameless, faceless, figure is stuffing a microphone in their faces and asking the most hurtful, uncaring things… this is what this country and probably the world does… Americans love to momentarily feel things without the real concequences of having to carry heavy weight of the ramifications of those feeling FOREVER! I am at what I feel is the end of the process for the gold star process. The vacuum of family and friends went first, the suffering and wandering around for years trying to find some meaning and then the realization that for the most part.. We are nothing more than Christmas trees… We get thought off when some occasion is coming up and they need a decoration, they get the idea that “hey, We have a gold star family near by… that’s JUST the decoration that we need!” Then here they come with their hats in their hand and the long faces to ask that we partake in their ceremony or gathering to give the gathering some sort of ZIP to keep the attendees interested enough to show up… A few years ago, my wife and I attended the local memorial day observation.. when one of the people running the event came up to me and told me that I could not sit in that area because it was for “Gold Star Mothers”… and they were serious… So needless to say, I stopped being the Christmas tree from that point on. I will go to the ceremony still, but it is now just to sit in the general area and listen to the twaddle that they come up with declaring their eternal dedication to the fallen and their families…


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My father’s story – written by him, edited by me

Posted by fozzynok on 03/20/2021

Edited by myself trying to just make it more easy to read. This was written by my father when he was 82 until his death on December 5th, 2020. Please excuse the rambling. 

MY Story

Donald Eugene Phillips

I had to find a hobby to stay busy while being retired so I started writing “My Story” as a “Take-off” of my life. Basically, I am trying to educate myself so I can use this big “mutha”. My original attempt ended at my arrival to Japan on board the USMS Marine Phoenix. The Marines always gathered a ship full of troops with the desired AFACs at that time.  The men were unloaded where they were needed and that was termed as a Draft. The Draft will be returned to the US. or to another assignment in a year or so unless they don’t. As the Marines thought, you will go where you are sent, request to stay if approved. You will see a lot of errors and screw ups, so you have to work with me or go read a comic book.

On 26 August 1953 I was 18 years old and could legally join the military on my own without my parents signing for me. Things were too hard for me to live with, and I needed let my step – mother think she won the battle. This way Nova got rid of me and I would be gone, and she appeared to did it all on her own.

Billy McKay and I quit our job at Benny’s Market, packed a few clothes and took a bus ride to L.A. to get into the military. We got with the recruiter when we got there and got our physicals the nest morning. The results came that afternoon and I had passed but Billy had to wait a couple of weeks because of some juvenile problems he had got in to. So, I was to be sworn in that evening and Billy had to wait for his records check. I told Billy that I had to join now because I was out of cash and it was now or never. He was disappointed but not much. Anyway, he went back home, and I would get a briefing, sworn in and get a bus ride to MCRD in San Diego. I was designated as the senior man of the group and was given a file of all the recruits I was responsible for. I reminded the recruiter that I was only 18 years and two days old.

The bus unloaded us at the main gate about two hours later and the gate guard called for a truck to take us to the receiving office. We had Marines yelling “you will be sorry” as we waited. Finally, a flat bed with sideboards arrived to bring us in to get our briefing. I had prior info about what was going to happen, and we all went through the procedure. You have probably seen it in the movies a few times and it hasn’t changed.

   The Duty NCO had us stand at attention for about 15 minutes and then he had us enter the briefing room and quietly sit at attention. A couple of the guys were more interested in talking to each other and the NCO began to KICK the talkers around on the floor. The room got very quiet and we were told the rules. Basically, we were forbidden to violate any of the rules without getting punished and the rules will multiply when our Drill instructors take over in the morning.  An hour later the NCO kicked a couple of more butts and then we got to make our bunk and go to sleep at 2 AM.

We were woke up at five AM to make the beds and turn in the sheets and blanket and then shave and shower. We had our clothes that we arrived with so that was our uniform for the day. We were introduced to Sgt. Carver who was our Senior Drill Instructor, Pfc Danner our Junior Drill instructor and Pfc Rubio our Junior drill instructor. They all yelled at us for a while and showed us some Judo Forks and other hurtful things and had more rules for us to learn. We were issued our bucket issue, but it would be returned to them when we graduated. It contained soap and other personal items to keep us looking good. There was a razor too and we shaved whether we needed to or not. We would get a haircut today take a bunch of tests, get measured for uniforms, write a letter to our folk sand a lot of other things for the next three days. We were initially put in a location that we would always be when in formation. On the third day we finally took our civilian clothes off and sent them home and got our fatigues and boots and a footlocker. We would get our dress uniforms the last week of training.

   I was very glad that I had researched the USMC before I joined because I was able to get through a lot of it by knowing what was happening. It makes it a lot easier to deal with an idea when you know what is happening and why. I really enjoy this thing when I don’t have to worry about screwing up and getting yelled at. The military has toned down at that time, but it still wasn’t a bed of roses. The Japanese had surrendered about 8 years earlier. The dictates in North Korea thought they could take over South Korea, but the UN did the only thing they ever did to keep the North Koreans from taking South Korea. The UN sent an army and Air Force to fight for South Korea. This battle started in 1950 and truce was declared in 1954. The UN was fighting Russians, Chinese and any North Koreans and the North Koreans didn’t. They tried to use it as protection for their side until Chesty Puller took most of North Korea and some China away from them. This caused the US and the UN to stop everything because it was about to cause a bigger war than they wanted. So, Truman fired the Gen. MacArthur and the Russians, Chinese and the North Koreans decided to do the truce. The Americans had the A bomb, and the other side was still working on it.  They did save South Korea BUT they tied US into wars in the world since then.

   The stop at Kobe was a waste of our time. We should have stayed on the ship and we had to stay overnight to allow the troops assigned to unload their stuff so the ones that were going to Korea went on Liberty to see the sights downtown. The catch was that we had to wear a class A uniform to go, and they were all in our bags in the hold. this would be a large bunch of sea bags in the hold in no particular order. I found it and finally got properly dressed in about two hours and lit out for town to see the sights. We only had enough time to walk around a little, but it was enough. We got one block away from the piers and there were bars as far as you could see. We went in to see the sights and got a surprise, it was a “naughty” place. We found out that we were in Big Boy country now. There were naughty ladies all around and no experienced men. I had a beer, went to the bathroom and got another shock. I was doing what I went in there for, and a woman quickly entered and dropped her drawers and sat down on a commode and used it. Naturally, us “cherry boys” were shocked, but we looked. Some MPs came in and said they heard there were “hookers” in this bar and told us to leave and we did. We went back to the ship, reloaded the sea bags and hit the sack. The next morning, we departed for Korea.     

   We were routed out at 4AM that morning to start cleaning all the areas we had used during the voyage. The ship’s crew selected a crew to do the cleaning and the rest of us were excused. The bad news was that the excused people had to stay out on the deck while this was being cleaned. We had to stay outside the rest of the voyage so we wouldn’t mess up the clean-up. It was 23 December 1954 and going North in the ocean between China and Korea and the ship was going slow because that section of the ocean was shallow. The ship had a certain time due to the very low tide and we finally anchored about 10 AM and we loaded into landing barges to go to the beach. We even had the rope lattice down the side of the ship to get to the barge. After the thing started moving toward the beach an argument started up front about all the people that were killed or wounded during the Inchon invasion. It appeared that there wasn’t that much of a problem after we got on land to see the town or city of Inchon. We got to the beach and the gate went down and a Russian officer was there to count us as we passed. We all loaded into buses and they took us to where we would spend the night. During the bus ride we saw the city of Inchon. There were no structures at all that was left standing. It had evidently been a modern well-built city and now it was a very large pile of bricks.

   We arrived at the place we were going to spend the night at around 3 PM and dug through a pile of sea bags to claim our stuff and went to our tent assignment. there was an old used picnic table there that somebody had Scrooged sometime in the past to eat our rations. We had about 8 men assigned to each tent. we were issued (as a loan) a light weight sleeping bag and one blanket each and each tent was issued a quart of kerosene for the heater in the tent. The tent had no floor and the sides ended about 6 to 10 inches from the ground. I have no idea of how cold it was that night, but it was cold, and our furnishing was not working at all.            We started turning in our equipment at 6 AM to prepare for our train ride to our new base. In my imagination I could picture a string of cattle cars and looking through the boars instead of windows. I was revealed to see a fairly new train and passenger cars and I was very revealed to get a chance to warm up. We finally began moving about 8 or 9 am and spent the day and part of the night in route. We arrived at Pohang at 11PM 24 December 1954 W got on trucks and arrived at the K3 Airbase at 0015 25 December 1954 and had a dinner waiting on us. During and after dinner the Commander briefed us on the situation and assigned to the different units

and those and I ended up in VMF 311. At role call by morning, I found out I had mess duty for the next 30 days.    

   I had it pretty easy while on KP. There was some Koreans that were hired to clean the trays and wash dishes and I think that was arranged by the officers of the base. At that time there was very little available to feed or clothe the civilians and they would take almost anything to help their family. The Chinese or north Koreans had foxholes around the base at the fence line and further out too. A shot just below the lip of the helmet is just as good as a shot in the heart. Back to the chore. The Koreans were experts at salvaging the uneaten food from the trays and pots and helps the various needy get some of it to get their people by some hard times. I hope we have the South Koreans as allies for a very long time. I took a walking trip out the main gate two weeks after I got there just to see the people and what they were selling. It was a typical thing like all main gates. They had beer and souvenirs and the girls would feel you up. These Koreans have a very strict moral code and there are rumors about them being executions of hookers.

   This is the layout of the base as I recall. To the left is the combination auditorium/mess hall. The runway is out front about 50 yards away. Behind our Quonset Hut is the shower/washroom. Behind that about 20 yard is the fence, then there is drop off of 10 feet, a road North and south, then the beach bomb dump here the flammables and other dangerous items are stored. The water is about 50 yards further. there is a frozen pond located a bit to the North where the kids go ice skating. The main gate is Northward about half a mile or so with various offices and services available. There is a boot camp for the Korean Marines near the drill field near the main gate. The Korean drill instructor is dressed in a Navy chief uniform is very rough with his recruits for a very good reason.

   After my first pay at that base, I had to see what was in the base BX. I bought a fancy reflex camera. It was large and heavy and very complicated. The good thing was that it maybe it simple to take a very good picture. I also bought a box of Snickers candy bars. One of my friends took me to the back door of the base bakery that evening, and I bought one of those. That was the first one I had, and it was the best one too.

   I finally finished the tour at the mess hall. and I finally could touch an aircraft. I was assigned to #2 F4 as plane captain and it was my job to service and maintain it. I would bring it in and chock the wheels and ensure that all service points were full. At times, the plane would be one of two planes on alert. A pilot sat in it ready to go for two hours. They would change pilots every two hours until the alert was over.

The planes go out on patrols daily and we assist in parking and chocking when parking. We are next to VMF115 and we sit on their bench to make sure our planes go and there were no aborts.

At about this time I was assigned to the guard shack to 30 days guard duty, so I moved there. There were different start times for the various areas and that is controlling which shift you guard. There was activity going on in daylight hours so there were mostly night posts that was required. We were guarding border fences, equipment storage areas, beach bomb dump and generally the whole base. We were carrying M 1 rifles loaded with a clip loaded with nothing in the chamber. Our Korean Marines were out there with us, so we had it very well covered. On my second night I was posted at the water point where our water source was located. It was still freezing in that area and I had everything I had on to keep from freezing. I got there at 6 PM and it was already pretty cold There was a trickle of water dripping from the water tank. When I was revealed at 11 PM there was no drips from the tank and there were icicles where the leaks were. I was never as thankful as I was to get relieved. That must be why I don’t like cold weather. There was no excuse for the skimpy cold weather gear we were issued either.

   I am trying to calculate on the best way to move my project to a different sized page. I screwed up by not align the borders on each page and I am probably going to retype the whole thing just to have it look better. I think I should try for a more professional look. Oh well, I am just guessing about when this is done if ever.

    In the late Spring we were shutting down the base because the North Koreans finally got the message and quit. The troops that were there when the war started were going home and us new guys were going to Japan until our turn came to go home. A plane ride to Atsugi Air Base took us to different squadrons or jobs needing people to fill in. I went to VMJ1, a photo squadron flying Banshees. The base was operated by the Navy and their planes were aircraft carrier planes coming to the Navy base for repairs or upgrades at an overhaul site. That side of the base was for the use of the Navy only and our side had three squadrons of Marine Corps planes and equipment. Two of the squadrons was flying an early verso of the F86 but I don’t remember the designation. They were old jet planes that the Navy didn’t want anymore. I saw one of those planes ingest a mechanic one morning when he stood up in front of the air intake. This happened because intake screens were not thought of yet. The mechanic didn’t survive.

   The Marine Corps section of the base was about 300 yards behind our three hangers and the runway. We had a bridge between the run- way and our part of the base and a small town was below the bridge. That town was off-limits. We had a number of barracks, a chow hall, BX, snack bars, offices, clubs, a brig with MP’s and everything that we might need sooner or later. There was a gate to the train station that went straight to Yokohama and the rest of Japan. (The MP’s were very strict and a pain)

   There was always a bunch of GIs in Yokohama from US and all our allies still coming from Korea. It looked as if their government had left the transportation back to their home country was their own responsibility. I guess the UN was having problems at that early stage. The UN went anti American shortly after the defeat of the North Koreans. I think the US should expel all the UN organization from the US.

   Yokohama was an interesting place to be a tourist. I went the biggest department store and some smaller ones, and they all were about the same in layout. The basement seemed to always be where they sold all sorts of fish. Some of the fish was alive and swimming in a tank to keep them fresh. There was very large Tuna and there was a fish that had to be prepared very carefully by a specially trained chef because parts of that fish were extremely poisonous. Their menus included shellfish and octopus.

   The next 4 floors were the typical department store. The top floor was the top of the building and it was a playground with rides and open to the sun. I was at this store during the transistor radio craze and got my first one there.

   A lot of the flight engineers for the Navy side went big time to getting Honda Motorcycles. It looked a bit risky to me because the traffic was a nightmare and there were car accidents regularly. They also bought cars that were small and resembled a Corvette. They found out later that the cars would not be allowed into the US because they were chain drive.

   Somebody invited us to a party at a big restaurant to celebrate something and I had to check that out. We had to wear our class A’s but that was no big thing. We got some real good and fancy chow, and the building was very nice. There was drinks and fancy food, and I was really enjoyed myself. I found a platter of lobster tails and really loaded up on those because I had never tried them before.

   Earlier I did notice that there were not many women at this party and that changed quickly. One of the Sergeants got a truck and filled with women from a “cat house” nearby and brought them to the party. I was still a bit backward in understanding human nature, so it went right over my head. A little later the owner of the “cat house” to get her girls back. There were more girls there than we originally had and we never found out where they got there and from where. I was still wondering who threw the party and why. I guess it was just a new scheme to put some “girls” to work. We had been to Camp Zama a few weeks earlier trolling for some WACs, but they got the MP’s after us for some reason. They marched us off base and said done come back.

   A few weeks later one of my TSGT friends talked me into climbing Mount Fuji. Since I had no idea where Fuji was, I let him take over. We changed trains a bunch and finally got to Hachioji at night. We got a room at the resort hotel and at daylight we started walking to Fuji. It took only about an hour to get to the slopes and that was fairly easy to climb. Later we got above the tree level and the trail got steeper but there was a trail to follow so we couldn’t get lost. We climbed all day until it got dark, and we had to sleep in a shack near the top. It was super cold, and I couldn’t sleep because we shared the shack with ten other people, all were Japanese. We were given something to eat at daylight and started climbing again. We got to the summit at sunrise, and it was really cold. We walked around on the crown, took some pictures and started back down. We were at the hotel before 3 pm and hit the sack. Early the next morning we caught the train back to the base and it was over. I went back to being a mechanic and the TSGT went back to the orderly room.

   A few weeks later there was a need for some of us to go to Formosa for a while. A couple of our photo planes were needed, and 4 fighter model Banshees were also requested. Parts and service equipment went down on a carrier and we went down on a R4Q (a flying boxcar). We made a brief stop at Okinawa in route then on to Tainan Air Force Base. There was a couple of Chinese F 84s parked at the end of the ramp that hadn’t been very active for a while. There was a fenced compound belonging to the US Navy and inside was a mess hall, four tents and a small club type building that was the club. We used one of the tents to store parts and equipment and the enlisted people slept in the tents. The officers stayed at a motel in Tainan about two blocks away.

   The next day another troop and I was confined in one of the tents with Asian Flu and that kept us busy for the next week. The tent was very warm, and we had to keep it dark, so the first few days was no fun. Our planes were not very busy, so we didn’t miss very much. After 4 days we could get up and look around if we felt like it and I did just to get out of the tent for a while.

   My first trip to the mess hall was a very good experience. After living on C rations for a week and get coffee too. I wasn’t very lively at first, but I got around. I watched the planes go out and strolled around and watched other activities that were going on. I noticed the town of Tainan is over the railroad just behind us. There is a pool table outside in the rain. The players don’t seem to care.

   So far, the only thing that I have found so far is a cafe that has grits and eggs for breakfast. I also found something rather gross at a hotel the same day. I went to a hotel to visit a friend and had to do a hasty retreat to save my lunch. I went to my friend’s room and a maid was there trying to sell ballutes. this is a fertilized duck egg that was put on a beach where sea water would wash over it for a period of days allowing it to kill the duckling and “ripen up the egg. When they cut it open it smells rotten and it has an orange -yellow color with blue streaks in it and smells very rotten. The maid chased me down the hall and out the door trying to make a sale. I don’t know if my friend ate those things, and I didn’t ask.

   The supper was really good at the mess hall. with some corned beef. It was better than the meat at Atsugi. The Navy seems to have better chow than we do. I went to the club after that and had to buy a round for the people there. You don’t wear a hat inside the club. The bigger crowds must have a favorite hang out at some other place. They could find more action in Kao shund  located South of us on the coast. It is a big city with tall buildings, a seaport and all the desired items.

   After another week, the commander started making arrangements to take us back to Atsugi. We never were told if the mission was a success or a failure. We had a party down in Kao Shung and the next day we flew out. We stopped at Okinawa for refuel and exchanged power units with them because ours was worn out. I hope the Air Force will overlook it.

   Some of us were becoming “short timers” so we had to get busy seeing the sights we had missed so far. I went to Enoshima and wandered around looking for something to look at. Enoshima was a small island with a large number of tea houses and some curio displays. The Japanese has a great love of ceremonies. They visited the tea houses with their children in tow and they seemed to be displaying their kids to the other families. The parents were dressed very formally, and their kids were very sharp and correct. I think it was very boring for the kids, but they stuck to it like little soldiers.

   I saw some retired Japanese Army soldiers along my travels too. They were dressed in the uniform of a soldier and an arm or leg was missing. Their missing limb was usually replaced with one made of wood and painted and a statement in Japanese was added. I have no idea what the symbols said, and I didn’t really care.

   I did some “walk through” of a lot of the fancy night clubs out of curiosity and discovered that that was where the Japanese men were hanging out. Could it be that they didn’t want to have any Americans hanging around them? I understand completely because at times the Americans show bad manners that made me ashamed of the drunk Americans.

   I was at bar with Japanese and a few Americans and the bar had a stripper scheduled. The stripper came out and she completely stripped and then the music began. The younger men crowed around and closely observed the genitalia area and breasts of the dancer. This was totally unexpected because at that time the whole family would go to a hot bath. The different sexes bathed initially separately and then they ALL joined up at the hot bathtub which is like a steaming swimming pool. There is usually more than one family at the hot bath. Could it be that the young men see the women, but it doesn’t register? Now that is some GOOD MANNERS.

   I was finally qualified as finished with my overseas assignment and started the preparations to return to the US. There was really nothing to do in Japan except pack my sea bag and that was ready. We caught the bus that would take us to the pier we were gone. We boarded the ship and was checked in and was assigned a bunk in one of the compartments. The ship had the name of some general and I have forgotten who it was. We had our draft, some officers, some dependents and some pets that belonged to the dependents. The pets were placed in better quarters than ours, but we expected that. I noticed that there were some of the people I knew that was at Atsugi with me and there was a probability they would cause trouble somewhere. They numbered about six and had a gangster attitude. Some of them were circulating among us trying to force us to give them all our money. They must have had a big party before we left Japan and didn’t have anything for the snack bar. If any people had any money it would have been unusual because it was the custom to hold our cash until debarking. We would be checked in and paid and given orders for the next assignment. Since we had debarked in San Francisco in the late afternoon we would check in and get a physical and get our clothing inspection and go to chow for suppertime. Then we were allowed to visit the big city and see the USMC hotel. That was just a tourist thing because we had to be back at Treasure Island before midnight. The next morning, we had breakfast inspected and got our orders. I got a 30 day leave and was to report to El Toro to the commander at VMF 532.

   I boarded a Greyhound and finally got on my way to Blythe, California for 30 days hanging out with an old school buddy, Doyle Moore. He was out on a run to LA. driving trucks back and forth from Blythe. I visited with his parents and his sisters and then went to see the McKay’s to see where Billy was now. He had been assigned as a truck driver in the USMC infantry. We got separated when I want to join up because he had been a delinquent when he was going to school. I went right in then and he was coming in about a month later. We never got back together after that. His sister Patty already ranged a blind date with one of her close fends named Barbara Aultz. That Friday evening Patty and her boyfriend, Eddie, picked me up at the Moore’s and away we went to pick up the first date in my life. This was the first date I ever had, and I was 20 years old. I had been kissed one time when on a hayride, but it was a surprise for me. It wasn’t a date, and it was an activity that was sponsored by the class. I was totally ignorant of how to act around girls and my excuse is that my stepmother had made me ashamed of my appearance and training.

   My dad had married again when I was in the fifth grade and it was a disaster at least for me. She always was the one to get my school clothes and without fail they were always the cheapest looking ugliest things she could find. I couldn’t attend any school activities because I had to help her with her part time job of washing people’s. Let us say that she got the business and the money, and I did the washing. This went on until got to the tenth grade. This explains why I wasn’t a “Joe College” type in my later life. Let’s get back to the date with Barbara. We went to Barbara’s home and met her mom. Her dad was out fishing. I met her sister and her little brother, and we loaded up and got on the way.    

   Eddie took us to the local drive-in movie, and this brought back memories of my pals and our life before I joined the Marines. We had a little innocent fun but didn’t hurt or shame anybody and I felt good about that. Here I was on a date with a very pretty girl, and we were getting along like we had been fends all my life. I had found the secrete of romance and that it was no secret. We necked a little and whispered a lot and carried on as if we were cool and it was all planned the way it went. I heard later that I was “cool” and more mature than those silly boys she went to school with. We took her home after the movies, took her to the door and got another kiss and thanked her for the date and left. Thank God I didn’t babble even once. On the way back to town I thanked Eddie and Patty a bunch and they both were smirking about something.

   Monday afternoon I rode to LA with Doyle to deliver a trailer of fertilizer. We didn’t get back until the next day and I was worn out. I must have forgotten this trip because I eventually started truck driving later in life. I was informed Wednesday that my date with Barbara was a big success and she wanted to see more of me. I borrowed Doyle’s pickup and drove out to Nickles to see her. This time her dad was home and by his actions I think that her dad wasn’t too keen about his daughter dating me. At first, I thought her father, Ernie, thought I was going to steal his favorite child, but poo pooed that idea right away. Evidently father and daughter had a huddle somewhere and I was finally approved. Later that evening I found out that Barbara was only 16 years old, but I was already 20 years old. I pointed out the difference in age to the family and Barbara poo pooed that too. The family calmed down, they calmed me down and Barbara got what she wanted.

   There was a football game that Friday with the high school playing a very good Arizona team. I asked Barbara would she go with me, but she would rather not. I understood because the bleachers were not too comfortable. I took Doyle’s truck back to him and he dropped me off at the stadium. I was in a game against that team and they always beat us, and I wanted to cheer our team on. I walked around at the end of the bleachers until half time, and I met a kid that lived close to the Aultz family. He told me that Barbara was sitting in the stands crying. I went to her and asked her what was happening, and I asked her neighbor kid. He had no idea and she kept crying. I guess that I wasn’t supposed to go to the game and leave her at home. Was I being tested, or should I have asked her again? This confused the Hell out of me, but I thought she might have wanted to do something else. I never found out.

   I finally ran out of leave and it was time to check in for my new assignment. I reported to MCAS El Toro and signed in to VMF542 and waited to meet the First Sargent for briefing. He sent me to train with a crew on the F3D. We would be the crew that took care of the aircraft on the flight line. We would service and do all the work that the plane needed when it was on the flight line. Any repairs would be done by the crew in the shop. They repaired the sick parts, and we did the run-ups, servicing, launching, recovery and that sort of thing. We were classed as “plane captains”. I was responsible for four aircraft and eight men to keep things going. I assigned a man to each plane and the rest of us went where we were needed.

   The F3D was an ugly plane and was already obsolete. It was being used to assist a contractor with a rocket program for the Navy. The people were civilians and did anything that was needed if a rocket was involved. They had their own building that was off limits to everyone else and was very strict about it. The planes were also used by some of the pilots as transportation on weekends to travel the US. It had room for the pilot and one other person. My concern was only for my people and the 4 planes. We had the operation down pat in the first week and it worked very well. Everybody knew the plane inside and out and could do a preflight better than the pilots.

   I got stuck with duty at the squadron office this weekend. A First Lieutenant has ordered me to stand duty to replace his duty partner who really has the duty. I am the same rank, but I have more time in grade. If I handle this right, I can nip this in the bud. If the brown nose loses a stripe, he may lose his flight privilege and his job as radio operator. The flight officer needs to learn that he is only a Lu tenant and shouldn’t pair up with an enlisted crew member. A good scare will be good for them both. They violated the rules, and it looks like the commander should hear about it by a rumor. 

   I had to spend the weekend on standby for the suck ass, but I think that condition is over. The commander already knows about the deal the Lieutenant and the Sgt sticking me with their “deal” and it wasn’t me. It must have been one of the other pilots. The good part is that the culprits who it was that reported them, but I was not told either. I guess the Corps takes care of itself sometime.

   I went into town Tuesday to check on when the bus to Riverside was running so I could visit my new girlfriend. I would have standby duty maybe twice a month, so I aimed to visit Blythe a lot every month. I had breakfast at the bus station and bought a little necklace for Barbara. It was a little chain with a little glass ball. Inside was a little Australian stone in oil. It was supposed to change color due to body heat.

   I went to Blythe the next weekend for some more socializing ate the drive-in. Barbara was glad to see me, and I was glad to see her. I was to understand that it could become a regular event for us on weekends and I could not have wished for better. I had never felt so good or welcomed before. I realized that this must be my time to start making plans. So, I planned to go to Blythe every weekend and let this girl know that I was in love with her. I asked her to marry me a few weeks after our first date and she was willing to accept me. It took a month for me to get brave enough to ask her parents. Nina was all for it, but Ernie wasn’t because Barbara was his most favorite child. He never did agree, and he had no input until Christmas day.

   On Christmas day Ernie took me to visit Nina’s family and I began to understand. Nina’s family was a bad example. It was a very large and unruly bunch that originated near Wewoka, Oklahoma and showed up there around 1900. They evidently followed Ernie to this area when he left them and took Nina and Barbara to Blythe. Nina also brought her two boys from a first marriage. That family was some real winners (NOT). There must have been at least 12 kids from adult to a baby and their parents and they were of the lowest cast possible. The males were hoodlums, and the girls were “available” and forward. I met everybody and after while we went back to Ernie’s house. Ernie didn’t say a word about it, and I understood completely. He loved his family, but he didn’t approve of the family that Nina came from.

   I had managed to save up and got an engagement ring and I was really hoping that Barbara would like it. I had no idea what was good or bad. I had never been interested in wearing jewelry, so I had to take the word of the lady at the store. I was going to pop the question when we went to the senior prom. Right, just like in the movies. It was an emotional event for both of us and would be with us for life. When I took her home afterward, she let her folks know about it right away that was different for everybody. Nina thought it was so romantic and just loved the whole thing. Ernie was grumpy and didn’t want to lose his best child, Sue wasn’t happy about it either. Little brother, Donnie was asleep. That thing with Sue went on for the rest of her life. I had not tried to win her over and I have never found out what her gripe was.

   I was still stationed at El Toro MCAS and things had progressed there also. We had gone to Mojave Air base for gunnery training, and I got to go up for a bit to see how it felt. I sat in the radar operators’ seat and we went climbing mountains. I stood up pretty good and it was just like I thought it would be. That same day we had an accident on the flight line when one of the ground crew was got hit by a starter unit that was pushing a stalled unit. It was not a complicated thing, but the troop didn’t live through it. We had finished our training at Mojave, and it was a good thing because the outfit was sad and upset about the troop that lost his life. The planes had already gone back to El Toro, so we loaded up the equipment and clothes and went back by car.

   We lost one of our planes later that week with the crew a few nights later. The pilot wasn’t aware that he had the plane going straight down instead of level. We didn’t know where they were until after the hole in the ground was found a few days later. We took a helicopter ride looking for it as far as those islands off the coast from LA. but no luck. The next day we spotted the impact area on a hillside across the freeway from Camp Pendleton. We worked for three days and retrieved as much as we could find. There was a lot we never found, and we went down thirty feet, but we got most of the body parts.

   I got away from there one weekend and went to visit Barbara for my customary date at the drive in. Sunday, we went to the carnival that was in town. We took a ride on the Tilt-a-Whirl and I was kind of sick from the ride, but I managed to keep it down. Barbara appeared to be feeling fine.

   I had arranged with one of my troops to pick me up at the bus station when he came through town so I could save some money. Machado went to see his folks on the reservation so I would help with the gas bill. We got back to El Toro by nine pm so this would help us a bunch.

   By this time, I had arrived to about a week left on my Marine Corps enlistment and I had to make up my mind about what to do. I had tried to work in the tool crib in Lancaster but about a month ago the factory canceled all applications, and they closed their doors. My squadron commander was trying to get me to re-enlist But I had no idea what Barbara would think about being a wife of a GI. I also heard that the commander had an idea to send me to drill instructor training ASAP, so I elected to get out for a while. I started clearing after that because I had to process through a lot of offices. The first two offices were easy, but I had to listen to re-enlistment lectures. I told them about their plans to make a drill instructor and I felt that it would not work. I liked the air wing duty; they would send me almost anywhere to train and again to the many places that had a training outfit.

   My next appointment turned out to be where I really made up my mind to get out. It was run by a real fresh Second Lieutenant and he thought he was the best. He had his “important information” routine while I was at attention in front of his desk When I said no, I was sent to the blackboard to write an endless bunch of on following instructions still at attention. This went on for about an hour and a First Lieutenant came in. He watched me doing my thing for a minute and he said something to the dick wad that was supervising my chore. The First lieutenant then said to the dick wad something about him making the Marine Corps appear to be ran by Groucho Marx. I was given my form and I left. 

   I finally was interviewed by the commander and I was right about the drill instructor training. He wanted to send me in as a senior drill instructor with at least 2 junior drill instructors as assistants. The new recruits enter Boot camp about every three months and every three months the stress om the instructors are extreme or more if you have a bunch of Dummies. The recruits that fail will be released to go home but the trainers face no promotions and ending up as a clerk until discharge. I was also upset about the decisions of the Commandant’s decision about the loss of eight recruits at Parris Island boot camp. The commander of training had ordered that the swamp surrounding the base be used as a training tool to give the recruits confidence when faced with scary conditions. It also scares the city wise asses wading chest deep in a swamp loaded with frogs, snakes and other wildlife. In this instant however there was a large amount of Grab ass among the group and a lot of non-swimmers in the group. If Lemuel C. Sheppard arrived at that decision he was in the wrong organization. He should have been in the pussy patrol.

   My next mistake was my decision to get out at that time. I had returned from overseas a year before from an area that no longer was at war with us. The place where I thought I had a job had closed because it was no longer needed. If you leave the Corps after finishing a hitch, they considered it as a discharge, and you were out. If you have given them an outstanding history, you could take a temporary retirement. This would allow you to go to school or a temporary job with good pay. If they needed you again you were required to report for duty with no problems. Since I was wanting to get out and looking forward to getting married, I didn’t want to lose my intended I left the Corps. What I didn’t know was that if I left the Corps with the selections, I made was that I was inactive reserve for 10 years. That would mean that I would be called to duty until 1967. This would be at the rank of a buck private. This was nothing to worry about because no sane person would want to be a private in the USMC after the first time. So, I cashed in my two month’s unused leave and went to Blythe to settle down. During the second month we went to Las Vegas and her brother, his wife Betty and her mother witnessed the ceremony. I was sort of afraid of the responsibility, but I really wanted to marry this girl.

   While living on the money the Marine Corps paid for my leave I had been looking all over the place for employment and discovered my next gotcha. After the North Koreans settled down the US decided to have a slowdown and wasn’t hiring anywhere. I finally got a part timer at the Coca cola company in Blythe. The manager wanted a bottler, and I was it. After a couple of days, it became clear that the manager didn’t know what he was doing either. There were no Coke bottles to fill and a very few various soda bottles. While filling the available bottles I figured out that the machinery was also worn out and had been for quite some time. I was dismissed and before I left the owner came. The owner was riding in a big Cadillac with two men in the front seat. I honestly believe that they had the appearance of the gangsters in the movies. Anyway, the plant was shut down and we were all unemployed including the manager and his wife the secretary. I applied for unemployment and started looking for work again and tried to figure it out. There was no employment, and none was expected. I went to LA to meet with the enlisting people and tried to sign up again. Then I found out that I had to wait a year and then come in as a private. I did not have time to wait a year, so I checked with the people in the next door which was the US Air Force. They goofed around a bit and did some checking with someone by teletype and immediate signed me up. that evening I caught a plane to San Francisco and then a bus from San Francisco to Travis AFB in Solano County. Next morning, I got my tool issue and latter I got a full issue of tools to work with. I was placed with the 1501 Maintenance Group working on C-97sand C-124s.This was a lucky thing because all of my hands on training had been on recips because jet aircraft was not available at the training schools yet. The first plane I worked on in the Corps was a TV2, a 2-seat version of the F80.

   The US Air Force was building up the maintenance people at Travis because they were going to get some new jet plane to take over a lot of the loads that had been recently planned for at this base. We had to deal with SAC, but they used the other side of the runway. They were extreme about the security at their work area and allowed SAC equipment and people to enter their area. They had just started getting checked out on B-52s and were still using the very large but old super bomber called the B-36 and they had only two more left to retire.

   I worked on the C-124s and C-97s at first few months without being trained or even questioned if I knew what I was doing. There was a lot of civilian mechanics with us so they must have been training us. A lot of those civilians were not trained either. These planes would soon be replaced by C-135s and we were not trained on those either when they came. Let’s just say that I was very disappointed with the working habits of the Air Force.

   I had been at Travis about two months before I could afford to get Barbara near to Travis because we didn’t get enough money to pay rent and eat too. We found a place in West Sacramento near some car owners that could give me a ride to Travis and back daily. There was so many people stationed there that there were no empty rentals available any incoming people and all newcomers were forced to live at least thirty miles away from the base.

   I had to make arrangements with some Travis airmen that I located to get a ride to and from the base every day and I found two candidates and one was in the same workplace that I was assigned to and it only cost me a dollar a day. The gas prices at that time were 27 cents per gallon and we got a free dish each time. I had to ride to the base and stay in the barracks during the week until I was sure the scheme would work the right way. The military isn’t kind to people that are late or don’t come to work and I had to be sure it worked as I hoped. It worked as I had hoped, and I became a commuter. One car was driven by a master sergeant and another one, the backup, was driven by a S/Sgt from the sheet metal shop. If they tell me at the station parking lot either one would stop and get me. I used it for about two months, and I found a place in Vacaville. It was nice to get a place that was nearer to my job, but I would miss my neighbors Russel and Marylin.

   The layout of Vacaville was rather haphazard because it had streets of the town before they had cars. There were about eight main streets to areas in the valley that was important to the original settlers and when they needed to add a street, they just paved the trail no matter if it fitted or not.

   Our rental was the bottom floor in a three-story home that was built in the so-called good old days when families had the children, parents and grandparents in one home. The first floor was divided in half to make two apartments. The second floor was the same. The third floor was a single with one Hell of a climb. Our apartment had a living room with a couch and an easy chair with a piano across from the couch. The dining room/kitchen had cabinet and sink, refrigerator, table and chairs and there was a bathroom with commode and tub. The markets and stores were within three blocks and closer. I don’t remember the price, but it must have been very reasonable because we stocked the kitchen very well. We couldn’t have a dog, so I got Barbara a guinea pig for a pet. It had long hair and resembled a motorized dust mop. I got a lot of points for that.

   We lived at that place for about two months before we could get an apartment at the Vacaville City housing. It was a project by the city fathers that wanted to provide rentals that were available and affordable for the enlisted families and was only seven miles from the base They were furnished, and the utilities were very affordable. All we needed to buy was a washing machine and the clothes lines were already there.

   Shortly after we got city housing Barb told me that she was in the family way. I was shaking up a bit, but it was good news for us. I believe it is what every newlywed person wants to hear but now you have something to worry about. Will the wife get through it alright, and will we be able to afford the addition to the family? It is what all of us think about at that time, but we did enjoy the knowledge that in time we would have a “curtain climber” in the family.

   I applied myself at my Air Force profession and gradually learned the method they used in the service and maintenance that I was expected to know about. In the USMC I was taught about fighter aircraft and in the Air Force they inspected the engines, removed body panels and looked in there and a C-124 had a bunch of panels to check under. It took 2 days to do a minor check and a major check took at least three days if it doesn’t have any problems. That never happens because after a major inspection has to be run up and all engines and systems checked out for proper operation. There could also be a system waiting for parts on order or in a shop being repaired.

   There was one of the new aircraft that arrived, and it is supposed to be the one that some of us were assigned here to maintain, a C-133 turbo prop that will transport ICBMs to their launch area. They say that there are they will be sat up in a big hole in the ground in the Northern area of the US and if we have incoming missiles detected they launch our rockets before theirs hits the US. Sounds sort of final doesn’t it.

   We also have received some C-135s last week. It is a military version of the 4 engine jet transport aircraft to replace the C-124s with faster but smaller carriers.

   Right about here is where I get stuck in an office as a dispatcher. The paperwork will now get extremely complicated because the “new Air Force’ will try to run like a business, but they ignored the fact that there is no product. We talked it over in the shop and the VIPs want only numbers on the dispatch. They don’t seem to know that the numbers only cover a small part of the repair. Those leaders of the Air Force are lost and don’t even know it.

   A couple of weeks ago Barb gave birth to a 22-inch baby girl and she was named Debra Dianne, a name she had saved up when she and her girl buddies had thought up in those sessions the expectant mothers the girls have with other expectant mothers. The baby was rather laid back and easy going and was a quiet and calm child. Barb decided to take the baby to Blythe to show her Dad the kid. Ernie always liked all kids and this one was his own personal grandchild which made it better. Barb spent a few days with her parents and got back before the weekend. I didn’t know it at the time, but her folks were on hard times. The people at the midland plant where Ernie worked fired Ernie when he had to get a heart Bypass operation and he was without a job. They showed up at Vacaville a few weeks later. We had a two-bedroom apartment for six people and a baby.

   Ernie spent a couple of days looking the town over and talking to various people. I didn’t know yet that he lost his job when he had to get a heart By-pass and evidently, he came up here to look for a job. The maintenance people that was city workers that worked for the city were not too swift and they hired Ernie quickly because he knew how to do all of that type of work. We found out that Ernie knew how to do thing that the county workers didn’t know about. When he worked a county job, they paid the city for Ernie’s work. We all thought it was really good luck that Ernie was hired after the raw deal he got from his last job, but he deserved a good break. The city saved a lot of money with him working there because their previous crew were a bunch of dummies. Ernie was self-trained in carpentry and at times had built and finished homes at Nickols Housing developers on the mesa in Blythe. All the people that were working for Vacaville City Housing were not trained in carpentry or plumbing or as electricians. Only a couple of them were over twenty-one years old. Ernie was the only service worker that the Nut Tree Restaurant would allow to work on their plumbing because he was the only one that was able to work there because he was the only one that knew how to use the special equipment.

   I must have pissed a “wheel” off somehow because all of a sudden, I have been assigned to work in the dispatch office as a dispatcher. Two of us are running the dispatch of specialist to work on our planes that are in the hanger for scheduled maintenance and inspection. They have retired the C124 and the C97 and now we work on C135 jet planes. I guess the “recips” will be taken over by all the Reservists Weekend Warriors out there. The old planes still work very well but we have jets now.

for us “lifers” to work on. They have B52s over on SAC’s side of the runway and our C 135s will probably be in-flight refueling them.

   The office that dreamed up the new way of documenting the specialist paperwork finally took a look at the documents they wanted us to use for working on the equipment and they were not pleased. Describing the article being repaired with only numbers won’t work because without computers nobody knows what was wrong and what was done to repair it was not clear at all. After wrestling with that for almost a year they made the decision to use numbers a little and script a lot. Computers aid in logging work, but flight crews and mechanics don’t carry computers.

   A C-133 was finally delivered to Travis and we went to the parking place to look it over. It wasn’t really a jet plane but a turboprop and a long body. It had a rear ramp that was hydraulic powered. It looked to be a snug fit for an ICBM, and it turned out to be what it was there for. It took up all my spare time for the next year learning all the systems and procedures that would keep it working correctly without hurting somebody.

   I am trying to be as accurate in my “history” but I am having to deal with old age and a tired memory so I point out that I may skip around a lot, but I did it or seen it. At this point I am talking about events that happened around fifty years ago. If it is important check my DD214s for verification. I have to put a front end on this thing anyway eventually.

   The US had a disagreement with Cuba about now and JFK was president and there was an attempt to unseat Fidel and his Communist soldiers. I think the idea was created by Eisenhower before his term expired. The military that sneaked into Cuba was trapped in a swamp in Southern Cuba and had to surrender. JFK had become president when Ike left so JFK had to take the fall for the so-called liberation army capture. The USSR thought it would be a good time to give some ICBMs to Fidel to soften up the US. JFK pointed out that this was the fault of somebody that was no longer in office, but the USSR was determined to use his ICBMs no matter what. JFK dropped the alert down to DEF CON 2 and a large bunch of us went to airstrips near military bases to service the transport planes that came in to take all the military to the Florida area and prepare for the war that Cuba and the USSR wanted or that was what they thought. It turns out that Khrushchev thought JFK was a “Wuss” as the new president and he had a chance to be the one that conquered the US. The USSR decided to take their ICBMs back to Russia and we all went back to our home base after three days. When I got back to Travis, I was put on coffee shop duty and donuts sales.  Humbriago !

   At the end of the month, they sent me to work at Flight line Dispatch. This would be unscheduled and all on the flight line. It has us working on all the aircraft that we are checked out on. A couple of times I got to tinker with a C-133 but it was just a run up check. They checked out so we got a little of the plane and it was a good experience. The two B-36 bombers are still here but may be re assigned soon. I sure would like to get into them, but they belong to SAC.

    About this time, I had duty as a coffee shop clerk in the hangar. I finished that up after a month and went back to flight line dispatch again. By that time, I finally got to become an aircraft mechanic and feel like it. There was only a couple of C-133s, but they were coming. The C-135s were due to start being transferred to another base as the C-133s came in a couple every month.

   I was called to the office about now and found out that I was replacing an airman that was going to leave the Air force to keep from going to Viet Nam. I would get on a plane in ten days here at Travis BUT I had to first go to a base near San Francisco for three days to train on the new rifle that was to be used in Viet Nam. The payday coming up would be on the day after I left so now everything would be screwed up. Just about everybody went to the commissary on payday and spent the entire sum for groceries and paid other bills until we were broke again. There was a famous saying that “There was too much month left at the end of the money”. We had one child and expected another soon. I had to get an understanding with Barbara’s parents to cover me until I could get the check to my family. This incident made it a sure thing that this old boy would never donate to an organization again.  

   I had Ernie take me to the Travis terminal on the proper morning and got in line for a seat on the plane that would take me to Viet Nam. Barbara and the kids stayed at home because she wanted to be strong for my benefit. Yes, I would have probably broke down and made a scene. The plane made the stop at Hickam to drop off a few and thirty minutes later we headed for the next stop at the Air force base at Guam. After a few minutes we loaded up and headed for Viet Nam. Later that day we landed at Ton San Nut air base in Viet Nam. I checked in and the next morning they scheduled me to on a flight to the base at Kham Rahn Bay as my next duty station.

   I was a “New Guy”, but I could see all kinds of odd things about this place. It had the similarity of a Mexican town in that there was very little action in town.  The bus had heavy screens on the windows and all windows were open. There was very little traffic and the people in the houses at roadside were in siesta. There was a lot of transport planes landing and taking off. There was two A1 Es and a copter parked at the terminal and that was it. We were dropped off at a large Quonset hut and would spend the night there. I don’t remember having chow or anything else that day or evening. That could have been my reaction to the


   Next morning a bus picked us up and took us to a C-123 on the flight-line. It had some passengers already and a lot of electrical gear that was built for building a house. I was one of six G.I.s and 2 young men and 3 women and could have been VC. The trip to Kham Rahn Bay was a lot of erratic maneuvering that I thought was poor skill, but the crew was familiar with the situation and was trying to prevent being shot at. It must have worked because we weren’t hit by anything. 

   We landed at Kham Rahn Bay and I was totally disappointed. The landing strip was paved with interlocking metal panels instead of cement or pavement and it wasn’t very wide. That might prevent the big transport planes from stopping here because there wasn’t room to maneuver or to park. The structures were all tents and there were no streets in the so-called living area. The construction crew was still erecting some more tents There was a manned hospital with some wounded and it was a tent too. This base was very recently created and there was any plumbing with fresh safe water yet. We filled up our canteens from a little tank trailer parked among the tents. We couldn’t shower yet because they had to build it so we should be very rank soon. This base was built entirely on soft and deep sand like you see at a beach.

   We got off the plane that brought us and checked in at the orderly room for our assignments and I corrected all the problems that were caused by my quick assignment so Barb and the kids could move if they wanted. Now I could face whatever happened and it wouldn’t, and my bunch was safe.

   The flight crews were living in structure that looked like a mobile home without wheels. It was furnished with all the items they would expect for their station. They got their meals at the Officer’s Mess in the most completed building on base. The maintenance crew I was assigned to was the night shift and we passed the Officers Mess on the way back to the tent. Some of us stole a container of ice cream every night it was in there. There was only a few doing it, so we didn’t make a dent in the supply. Since they were all officers the building also had a bar and waiters to serve on round tables and chairs instead of benches.

   The enlisted mess hall was a lot different in their set up. The cook that now ran the place was not checked out as well as the cook he replaced. The cook that went home could cook cold storage eggs and the tasted fresh. On Sundays we got a long breakfast and a c-ration for supper as we left. General Patton would have loved that.

   Our tent was completed, and we got lockers and GI bunks. We will get tile roofs as the builders get around to it and also a wood shell halfway up and screens and a door. All we will have left is getting the showers.

   There is one item I didn’t mention. The rest room will need special treatment in our situation. The contents of the toilet will need to be burned daily. They pull the pots out daily and burn the contents with diesel fuel. This is supposed to be a cleanliness thing and prevent being overrun with flies and other diseases. The soft sandy soil is a problem here. They did an experiment and spread an experimental mixture of pavement on a street to see if it would work. It worked very well so we should have an easier time walking across the base soon.

   I have located all the important places on the base now. The chow hall is across the street from the orderly room. The airman’s club was down the street from the chow hall and the mail room was next. The movies were across from the mail room in a sand lot. They had USO shows there too but Dwain Eddie and his girls were the only show that came.

   The people that had come over with these squadrons will soon be rotated back to the US and I hope our people have picked up their routine. The plane is fairly simple mechanically and every system has a specialist. Checking it out on the trim pad is scary but it will get easier the more we do it.

   The engineers finally got the base about ready to be used as a base and we had a bath, and the mama-sans had a place to do our laundry in the new shower. Streets were paved with a durable rubbery that didn’t sink into the sand as before. There was always a problem to deal with though. We all had to start taking special injections every three months and us all to need to have to take a crap within thirty minutes.

   I am given one day off each week but can’t leave the area, so I decided to walk up to the Army base just to see what is there. A ship was tied up at the dock, but the crew had to stay on the ship. It was some sort of rule that civilians could not enter the country while a war is in progress. I had just been to the BX where I bought a “40 pounder” of Jim Beam. The men on the ship saw me and what I was carrying and made some suggestions to make a deal. I agreed to letting them have the Beam if I could get into their ship kitchen. The mess hall served beef steaks and roasts, or chicken and the vegetables was always slaw and it was not a good slaw. I was invited to board and have fried shrimp and all kinds of vegetables and a dish of ice cream for my Beam and I did it. I didn’t tell my people about this because I may do it again. The liquor cost two dollars and I ate at least 15 dollars’ worth of food in ship that was air conditioned.

    That Army base was about 15 miles North, but it was not a problem because we had nothing to do anyway, and it was a pleasure to get away from those noisy jets for a while. We could look at the old French guard shack as we passed it.

   I took a look at the beach area that has been prepared for us to go swimming in place below our base. It is over the hill south of us past one of those big plush buildings that has a large contract with our government to build things here.

   The surf is very infested with sea snakes and extremely large sharks just beyond the breakwater and they say those critters ride waves in at times. I do believe that a large crowd would be more likely to draw them in than just a few. Anything more than a few and I go back to the tent. I want to bring all of me back to my family.

   I was making a go as the engine change crew. There was four of us that always seemed to be doing only that and even I had noticed it. Most of the personnel was good old’ Florida boys and my crew were two blacks and a Mexican. The pilots were hard on the planes and they had to be just to make it back to base.

   In my third month there I was nominated to go to school at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. It was a thing the Air Force did all the time for keeping the people checked out on the equipment. It was a two-week course on C-130’s and I had never even been near one. I was just filling a slot. They checked me in, and I was allowed to live off base at a hotel at government expense. All of this was arranged by the bus driver and the Air Force officials allowed it to happen. I do believe that there was some rigged thing going on at government expense. This was going on a lot and the hotel was getting richer than ever. “Business Girls” came through daily to see if we would be interested in fooling around, but I was saving myself for my family. An odd thing happened too. One evening a G. I.s wife came through and my roommate took her on. I guess they are everywhere.

   I finished the class and went back to my base and hung on. At least I got letters from Barbara almost every day and I felt better then. Barbara wrote that she had mailed a care package when she got my address, and it was lost until about a month before I was to leave. After I got back, I let the clerk at the Suisun Post Office know that I knew she was responsible for lost care packages. She blamed us G I s for Viet Nam. I met another at the Travis Terminal when I finally got back to the US. He was the inspector for the returnees, and he had evidently selected me as his victim. He allowed many people to take their stuff and go but he avoided mine until I was the last one there. Then he had to take my stuff out and string it all over the table and on the floor. He had to open every container and even a buddy’s Christmas present to his family in Vacaville. To this day I have no respect for the Hippies, Yuppies ETC that flourish in the US these days and it ain’t changing. All the blaming the military for the Viet Nam war started about here and JFK caused it. He screwed up and got assassinated 18 days after he sent in the Marines in to stop the North from taking over the South and LBJ didn’t know what to do. Pitiful isn’t it.

   I was evidently missed very much by the C-133 maintenance crew. The crew was assigned to work in an old B-36 hangar, and it wasn’t working too well. The aircraft maintenance people were not working with the engine maintenance people and it was getting killed by Q C. The engine shop had an untrained NCO running our engine crews, but he spent most of his time in an office romancing two secretaries. The crew also had to deal with a tool crib man that didn’t want to let our people use his tools. I had a chat with a Chief MSGT at QC to listen in on this crap and he took care of the tool problem and the romancing of the clerks. I took a few minutes to talk with the engine crews and made some adjustments and we finally got our stuff together. They had been on their own against the crap since it started. It is nice to have a Chief MSGT as a friend. Two weeks later the Field Maintenance Squadron Commander had me report back to work after a night shift and come in Class One uniform. I got there and the man himself pinned a medal on me. It wasn’t for anything special. I was simply the first Travis troop to return from Viet Nam.

   I was finally getting to the age and with the smarts that made me a candidate for Seven Level training. I was assigned a trainer and had to study those Tech Order Books that covers all USAF equipment. They will tell you how to maintain repair and operate everything in the military. After a steady briefing for about two months, I was to go to the school at Chanute AFB in Illinois for three months. I don’t remember too much about it except that it was boring and a waste of time. The family was not getting any money and the AF just didn’t know what to do. I ended up making arrangements through the AF to BORROW from the Red Cross until I got back to Travis. This incident caused me to get a flock of officers very angry with me. From that time, I have stopped donations of any kind to anybody. The general public seems to think that G Is get paid so much that they can’t spend it all. There is a famous wise saying all G I s know by heart that “There is too much MONTH left at the end of the MONEY”.

   I may come back on this subject again because there is a lot of fibbing going on by the upper ranks and their dependents concerning charity drives. A lot of the drives go to officers or their wives only and the enlisted men and their wives can only go to the Red Cross for a loan, and they make sure you know that, or you will not get it.

   I worked in this place for about six months, and I got picked for re-assignment again. This time I was going to Guam on a certain date. I remember that I stopped at Guam enroute to Viet Nam and it seemed to be sort of a backwater base with not much going on. The base terminal wasn’t air conditioned and there were only screen doors. Terminals are usually very spiffy and air conditioned and the services were limited. If your destination was Guam, then you have arrived and if it wasn’t you go to the bathroom or get a snack and get back aboard.

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More of the same from me..

Posted by fozzynok on 09/28/2020

Well, its been a while since I have written anything down for this. Life is what it is for me and I have finally given up trying to make it what it’s not. I have realized for quite some time that I have cause all of my own issues. I am no fun to be around. I get it. I have decided to just stop trying to polish the turd so to speak. I throughout my life have always kept very few friends. This probably comes from being a military brat and moving all over the place when young.

I have seen my few friends sort of fade away from me on social media and even during some or our visit as infrequently as they have become. I know that its my negativity and my views on practically everything. I have decided to bail out on most of the social media as it effects humanity so negatively that it should be ratcheted back and even banned in most instances.

I started to pull away from social media over a year ago. I had to start limiting the things that I saw and that I read from people who I cared for deeply because it was just damaging to me and of course, They and I live and survive differently these days. What did it for me was a graphic picture of a blown up Humvee with the remains of some driver splashed all over the insides.. Of course the combat sons were having a grand old time with it.. and I just decided that I had had enough. I wish them well.. but I just cannot do it anymore.

I realized that on social media that no one including my friends were initiating any sort of discussion toward me.. so I just sat back and watched.. and as more and more nothing happened.. I just decided to give up. Numerous times of sending messages to see the person log off instantly really capped off the deal. I get it already.

I am now dealing with the end of life of my father. I moved him into my home and became his caretaker 4 years ago. We were doing really well, then the day after his 85th birthday, I rushed him to the hospital and hes been there ever since. Its a lot to digest and he was my work for the last few years. It’s very hard to watch and experience.. and no one deserves this.

More about my father to come in the near future.

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The five bullshit signs of grief..

Posted by fozzynok on 01/08/2020

So I was thinking about some things this evening and thought about the supposed five stages of grief which are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. This shit never worked for me even though some internet shitheads have asserted many times that I was “angry” in every god damned discussion where they were looking like idiots. I have discovered that as stated many times by people who ARE actually grieving and not writing books about it… We are all on the same trail, but we are rarely to never on the same part of the trail as the next guy… There are some of these things that I never will have. Denial? Pfft.. there is no denying why I am grieving and always will be. NONE.. no denial that the worst happen or that I am grieving.. so that one’s stupid. Acceptance? I accepted the fact that people die in wars.. Infantrymen die more often that most other fields. I accepted this when I joined and volunteered, I discussed this with my son and he accepted the fact that he would be going to war… and that he could be killed.. he wasn’t a fucking moron. I’m not even sure what the Bargaining part is.. so if someone wants to clue my dumb ass in.. go ahead. Depression? I gots it! I gots lots of it, and it ebbs and flows and will till I die.. Now comes the part that I am 110% in right now.. I dodged it with my ridiculously realistic mindset… NOW.. 11 years later, I am angry. I am never far from anger.. its there, and its not going away anytime soon. I am angry at the world.. I am angry at the species, I am angry at my countrymen… and they are not showing any signs of changing their shitty behavior.. so my anger will stay with.. with the depression until I assume room temperature… and I’m kind of ACCEPTING of that.

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A dog shaped wound

Posted by fozzynok on 11/01/2019

rufus and me

Today I had to take the sweetest dog in the world down to the veterinarian and hold him close as speak to him he was put down.  I can only hope that as deaf and blind as he was, that he could tell who I was and that I loved him. He has been losing ground for some time and I knew that the time had come to stop allowing him to wander around in a dark scary world and let his wonderful soul and personality go to wherever good dogs go. He was my constant companion for the last dozen or so years. It’s pretty amazing considering that I never wanted him in the first place. 

I love animals way more than I love humans and it’s always been that way. Animals have never done anything to harm me, have always been there when I am down and never judge or disown you. I have had far too many humans do all of these things and more and they will continue to do so forever. Roophus the dog was mine whether or not I wanted him at first. I should explain that I guess. Years ago, I had to give a wonderful dog away to strangers.. It absolutely made me never want to own an animal until I owned my own home. 

Roophus was the second of two dogs that I never wanted. The first was Mallory, and She was already a family member when Roophus showed up to be her (and our) mate for life. Roophus was scared of people, he was a stray, and he was treated poorly by some man somewhere, and He was deathly afraid of me for a while. After a few weeks, he started to allow me to be near him, after a few months, he was always near me. 

After my son was killed, He never left my side and took care of me the best he could. He would make me take breaths when I really would have preferred not to. He was a good dog in all areas his whole life with us. His last year was tough for all of us, but probably more on him. His health steadily declined, he started losing his hearing and his eyesight and he started to lose his senses. He could not smell well, he started to lose the ability to lick, and even had trouble’s drinking. 

I knew he was tired, I knew he had run his course, but I was selfish and tried to let him live out his entire life here at home. Yesterday, he started scurrying around the house looking for something, he would scurry, get lost, start barking for help. He did this for a full 24 hours, I couldn’t allow him to be scared and lost anymore. He would tense up and show fear when I picked him and had been for some time. Tense, he was uncomfortable. Today all of that was ended for him. I held him close and I felt him relax, and then he was gone. I am so tired of feeling nothing but loss of the things and beings that I love.

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Have the discussions.. please

Posted by fozzynok on 05/27/2019

It’s Memorial day here in America. it was a pretty long day. My wife and I decided to attend the local ceremony. After the treatment that we have received, we decided to basically just sit in the crowd and just be there for the ceremony and for the few people who we know and respect. This day is always awash in good and bad memories, flashbacks, shadow people and odd recollections. This is what brings this blog today to the front of my mind.

Think about all of the discussions that you have had in your life.. the good ones, the bad ones, the ones that you wish that you would have drawn out, and the ones that you never got to have with the people who have flowed through your lives. I was watching the movie “The Help” and there is a scene where the main character and her cancer stricken mother had a conversation that they needed to have. I have had such conversations with some of the most important people in my life.. and now, for the most part they are mostly all gone.

I came home on leave one year from Germany. I stayed in Class A uniform that day so I could show it off to the family. I walked into my grandpas house and he was so happy to see me, but he was very weak with cancer. He made some comment about getting a hug, but he feared that I would “squish him”. I talked with him for a little bit and left.. I returned to Germany and a short time after that, I received the call that he had passed away.

I had a discussion with my own mother when she was dying with cancer. She was one of the strongest life forces that I have encountered in my life. She was one of my best friends. She would never lie to me.. and she would tell me the truth, no matter how bad the truth actually was. We had “the” discussion. She was in the final stages of cancer. I told my mother a few things that needed to be said. I told her that when she was ready to go, she needed to. I told her that we’d be OK and that she had taught me everything that I needed to be, I told her that I loved her and would regardless of where she was. I told her that it was OK to let go.  I would love to think that it helped her. But I don’t know.

I had a discussion over Myspace with my son one day (night in Iraq of course. We chatted for a little while and he confided in me that he was OK with practically everything over there with the exception of the IEDs.. He feared them more than anything over there. I had come up with something and it was back to history. We loved to share history, and we loved aviation. I told him that this was no different that the Flak that the aircrews over Germany were facing on a daily basis. They hated it, they had no choice but to deal with it.. fly right through it. In less than 24 hours, He was killed by an EFP. I would like to think that the discussion helped him, but I do not know.

I have had discussions with many people, and some people can open their minds and their hearts and make some connection. I find that the number of people that I have to talk to these days are very few. After Micheal was killed (and this is pretty common for Gold Star Families), the list of people who would talk to me, and take the time to listen has all but evaporated. I have my best friend in the world, and he is the friend who sitting in silence is as good as a discussion… they are few and far between. Have the discussions with the important people in your lives.. they surely will be gone from you, and you don’t get to make that call when it will happen. The worst feeling in the world is losing them before you tell them what YOU need to tell them.

Sorry if this makes no sense.. sometimes it happens.

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Ask Americans The Right Question!!

Posted by fozzynok on 05/19/2019

I have seen the same old sabre rattling from the usual sources and frankly I’m fed up with it. I am fed up with the wars, I’m fed up with the excuses and I’m fed up with America’s clueless, idiotic, masses. I have watched with a huge dose of heart sickness and a sort of dread that another worthless war is soon going to be launched by people who love the idea of wars, warfighting and frankly are doing so for all the wrong reasons. They are going to send our military. Our kids, our brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers. For we who have been forever linked, they are sending our family to war for reasons that cannot and will not be explained.

I have been watching the various news polls both scientific and unscientific and there is always a common theme that I have become aware of and it seems that no one else sees this or again, even cares. One of the polls asks if “you” think America should go to war in Iran. Well here’s the rub. At the point that the poll was seen by me, they were up to 58% voted YES and there were another positive response and two less positive and one negative option. Why do they ask if Americans think America ought to go to war? America isn’t going to war. For 50 years or so, Americans are not going to war. Americans who volunteer to go into the various branches of the military are going to war.

Americans.. Just look at them. Are they playing sports or WATCHING sports? Are they going to wars or WATCHING wars? They are generally slobs who when cornered “almost joined” the military. Come Sunday they are slathered in all of their favorite team’s colors and it overflows in their daily lives, they are emotionally invested to a pretty high degree, they will state regularly in public that “they” won (or lost) a game, they dress like a sports player, in their minds, they ARE a sports player. They play video games where they can fantasize about being whatever it is that they want to be.

Americans love wars in far away places because they can watch videos and support the troops and suffer no ill effects at all, they are only slightly invested mentally, it rarely even flows into their daily lives other than buying some “Grunt” T-shirt, military unit trucker’s hat  or having one or more bumper stickers on their car. THAT is the total investment for “Americans”. Sitting on this side of the issue, it’s what I have seen for well over ten years.

Now lets ask the real question. Are YOU reading to go to war in Iran? Are you? Really? Ask the Americans who would go.. Don’t ask the 350 pound thirty five year old with 4 kids.. Don’t ask the old retired bastards who also have never served. This ought to be polled like “likely voters”. Only include those of service age and don’t even mention a draft to the question. Right now, How many 17 – 30 year olds are ready to head to the recruitment office and join specifically to serve in a ground war in Iran?

I am sick of Americans.. I love the geography of the country, there are several places where I can go an I love wholey and am at total peace. But I am so sick of Americans and their isolation, their greed, their entitled attitudes, their insulation from the evil that they spew. I am for going to wars only after a few million Americans are killed right here in this country,,, and I do mean millions, A couple of thousand is nothing, we can absorb that, send our military off to war for two decades and the vast majority of Americans never feel any discomfort in their lives. If America wants to go to war.. Let’s make sure that there is some real reason and Americans are in danger. That’s never happened.. 9/11 was never going to destroy America.. Not even close. We lose tens of thousands on the highways here every year.. We lose at least that many due to injuries or illnesses.. Grief Porn got us where we are today.. And Americans LOVE IT!


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11 years and I’m still here

Posted by fozzynok on 04/02/2019

I wish it was better news, I wish it was anyhow different that it was on year one through year ten. It’s not, its worse. Life goes on, but nothing ever gets better. While I have gotten better and dealing with this, the fact is that I do my best to not deal with much of anything. I’ve lost the desire and motivation to compete for anything anymore. It doesn’t matter anymore to me. I used to really try to be the best at everything like it mattered. I have worked the killer hours in a career that I’ve come to hate and an industry that has for the most part disowned me. The industry has changed to the point that its not even recognizable anymore. Anyone who has real world experience in the Trucking industry is seen as dangerous. There is a new flock of inexperienced people who have been placed in charge to save an industry that they know nothing about. They are money people, anyway, I could rant about that for days. The one thing about the career is that it probably saved my life in the darker days of this life. Working hundreds of hours a week in all hours of the days and nights kept me busy to the point that nothing was left of me to hurt. But it has cost me dearly

My health is pretty bad overall.  At first it was practical slave labor that I loved to the very recesses of my soul. I was a freight throwing animal and my body really paid for it. But I was tough back then and had to work to feed a growing family. The crappy hours, the grind the sleep deprivation, it all added up. I drove trucks all over the country and was a model driver.. Or so I thought. I was the driver that companies SAID that they wanted. No ticket’s no accidents. always where I was where I said I would be.. for I got into training, management and ultimately into safety. And in the in, not one bit of being the best of the best mattered a hill of shit. I’m now old, have arthritis in most of my joints, a decades old knee reconstruction.. add this to depression and its not a party.

I have never been much of a people person, and that’s only been amplified. I used to be a internet discussion animal. A real defender of the middle of the road. Politically one click left of center as it relates to most everything and I was ready to tear into any discussion. It was kind of fun. I was roundly disliked by BOTH sides of the political spectrum equally. I have stated before that right after my son was KIA. I got the business from the left side of the spectrum.. but that was pretty mild and went on for compared to what has gone on for years, a short time. Now without changing much on my stances on things, I have been labeled as a full blown commie/lib/socialist/Muslim loving traitor. Living in a place that is almost universally full of right wingers.. it makes the Island pretty small and desolate. Maybe I need to get a volleyball and name it Wilson.

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Ten Years

Posted by fozzynok on 02/23/2018

So at this point it’s been ten years. lately, I’ve had a lot of time to think.. And thinking is one of the most damaging things that we as gold star parents do. I guess I am speaking for myself of course as all gold star people walk in different steps on the same path. There are things that are still with me and some things that I have been able to pass through even though these things are still in the corners of my mind waiting in dormancy to strike me and make my soul ache some more.

Things that have been seared into my being are still here and will be in and probably damage my and my life until I breathe my last breath and pass onto the something or nothing that awaits us all. Some of these things are not describable or may seem petty or even stupid to others even other gold star people. Same path.. Different steps.

Some examples of these horrible things I will go into and hopefully they will make some sense or someone with some psychiatric title will suggest I check into the funny farm. Some of these are simple things.. And some are more complex.

Signing my name to anything. On February 24th 2008.. I started hating to sign my own name. Why? Because I am the person who signed the form that for all intents and purposes, officially  made my son dead to the world. Now It’s asinine to say that not signing my name would have changed anything, but signing my name to that form was one of the most mentally damaging things in my life. Again I had to sign a form that basically asked “if we find the rest of him… do you want to know?” These are all things that someone has to officially do. That someone was going to be me as I felt it was my responsibility.. Now, every time that I have to sign my name, that twinge is there..

Being places that Micheal and I enjoyed, Doing the things that we did. Sometimes it catches you unaware, and sometimes you just have to go to these places. For years I was bothered by the sight of the hangars out at the local airpark. I have been there many times since then. The noises and sights have not changed much. I have attended some military events here and there, and during those things, I just miss him. We used to go to places together and just have so much fun learning and seeing things, It’s not really possible anymore, and I know that.  I sometimes catch myself having fun and the feeling is instantly crushed by the guilt of having fun.

Seeking peace (many failed attempts). I speak for myself here as I have tried and failed at so many attempts to find something that can bring some sort of simple joy and an escape from the pain of this. Motorcycles used to do it for me as a young man.. Motorcycles don’t really touch it this time. I don’t really drink and don’t do drugs so that’s not an escape for me. I have just wandered the planet trying to find something that can be some sort of an escape. One of the only places in the world where I can find air and peace? Is the shorelines of California and the Pacific ocean that can recharge me and allow me to breathe in some calming air. It’s really weird. I have always loved the ocean.. And the ocean has always been a special place.  I feel that I have worn out my welcome in some places in many attempts at that small sliver of joy I am intruding on others when I go, and that has caused me to pull back in going out there. I must do without it as much as possible lest I ruin some of the relationships with people there. The only problem with getting out there and feeling that good feeling is comes with the realization that it’s only temporary and I have to leave it again. The trips back here are the worst..

Becoming even more disillusioned with the human species. I have read human history, and apparently, humans cannot and will not learn that we are simply stuck on an ever shrinking rock with more and more humans on it… and they all hate each other. The species at some point will destroy themselves and their world to the point that it will no longer support them.. And the species will die off.

The searing pain of not being able to fix the pain that this has caused to my family. We are each individuals dealing with the loss of the same person.. But the pain aspect is different for us all as Micheal was a different person to all of us in our daily lives… and no matter what I do, I cannot make this any better for any of us. From this year on.. My oldest son is now forever my youngest son..

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Fuck You, We won! No fuck you, You lost!

Posted by fozzynok on 10/20/2017

This is something that I have been complaining about and failing for the last 9 years. Probably even before that. I wrote the other day about attending the funeral of a very recent KIA. It already had me in that twilight zone like stupor of “it was like yesterday for me” because of it. The day I was driving home from the funeral, I start hearing the chatter on the news of the latest controversy of many other controversy and saw the battle lines starting to form and heard the chatter begin. I do my best to try and get people to STOP this endless bullshit about the necessity to WIN over these ignorant topics. This latest flap though is different as there is a dead soldier in the middle of the tug of war and again, the win lose crowd and fighting over the rights to the corpse. All the while there is a distraught, confused, angry, proud family stuck right in the god damned middle of this.


I’ve heard it from both sides and of course I am further to one side mentally than the other in this BUT I am stuck in the middle of the two groups as it relates to having these two groups as I think that neither side can even see themselves for what they are doing to the family. These groups have once again lost sight of everything but losing and winning.. They must win, they must be right, no matter what they have to do or what they have to say to do so. In the end, there is still the family with a massive hole in it and absolutely no one is thinking of them. Like most of these events, the opposing sides cannot even tell you the soldier’s name. All they can tell you is that the corpse is their property to win.. They will drag the coffin down the street for their victory lap and eventually when their victory lap is over, they will drop if off at the curb with the rest of the garbage for someone else to deal with as they run off for their next battle with the opposing side.


I keep hearing about the words.. The words were spoken! The words words were not all spoken, the words? The words were spoken, the words were spoken by a politician and they were spoken to a VERY damaged lady.. I have been there, most of you on this page have been there. Words are funny things. There can be a whole lot of them being said at you and when SOME are said, it’s rather irrelevant to what they are because YOU ARE STUNNED by the ones that you HEARD. The rest are not even there. So when the defenders come on to say “but the words that were said” are talking from their point of view with an undamaged mind at the time. They are speaking from the win/lose fighting mind, a focused mind. I can speak for myself that when my son was killed and to this day.. Its not about all the god damned words anymore.. Its about the words that hurt.

Right now while the winners and losers are getting up and getting ready for their battle over the words and ready to win.. there is a flag draped coffin at the center of it and its just a god damned object to these people. To the families of the fallen, its just not. but we nor the fallen matter to the teams.. they don’t hear our words at all.

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