– What If Nobody Cared? –

What if nobody cared?

What if everything you wrote about, felt strongly about, poured your heart and emotions into was all for naught?

What if the only one who really cared ……was you!

As a self-proclaimed writer, that feeling has wafted over me now and again. It feels like no one is listening and, in essence, that’s like talking to an empty auditorium. All the seats are there except no one is sitting in them. There’s an audible echo from the vast emptiness before you which makes your words sound hollow even to you.

To be ignored is something that is hard to adjust to. It’s hard to keep your focus and be productive (or think you’re being productive) when you think no one is listening or paying attention in general.

The mind needs to be fed, replenished, if-you-will, as it expends thoughts like you must feed your body as you expend energy. The mind needs to be fed through feed-back. Verbal discourse and an exchange of ideas to replace those all ready expended and act as fuel for the next batch of ideas to come forth.

The scariest feeling in the world is that of being alone. Of hearing nothing except your own breathing. Hearing nothing but your own thoughts, your own voice. It’s the free exchange of ideas and thoughts, in general, that help to keep us sane and balanced. Thinking that no one cares about anything you have to say regardless whether it’s an editorial you feel strongly about, an article you felt compelled to write, a part of your life you want to share or a story of fiction that just popped into your consciousness that needed a place to live. Someone needs to care about it. Someone other than just the writer.

I guess it should be enough just to have the ability to put down in print that which you feel and care about. To go back, as I do, and re-read that which I have written. Sometimes I’m amazed that I could have taken the position I did on certain subjects. I won’t change that position, I’m just amazed, that’s all. Sometimes the anger I reveal disturbs me but then I realized that it was just momentary. That “This too shall pass.”

I guess I should be satisfied with being able, no, with being given the outlet for these random thoughts, these opinions, however wrong or right, these stories to be published on the internet so that people, other than myself, may choose to read or disregard my thoughts, ideas and stories. But, I’m not. I want more. I want to know somebody cares. I need to know that someone is listening. Someone other than me.

Those are MY thoughts and I give them to you.

Thank-you and have a great day!

Ed B.

– The Process of Living Life –

This process I speak of is really the living of life in its many forms. Initially we kick and scratch our way out of the womb and into the light of day only to be whacked on the butt and told to breathe. Think of it. Our first experience is being held upside down by our ankles, get a spanking and all we did was get born. Our mothers, who just went through the birthing process probably figured we deserved the whack.

“Give the dear little so and so another for good measure.” mom probably said with a grimace.

Then, with any luck at all, we grew to be infants and then toddlers and then we became real pains-in-the-asses. We learned to talk and walk at the same time. Mom and dad had to keep urging us by saying,  “Say mama. Say dada.” Or, like my sister-in-law, “Say shit.” Honest, I heard her saying that over and over to my first daughter while she was changing her diaper.

Once the repeated urging finally produced the desired results. What you had then was a walking, grabbing, human destucto machine that wouldn’t shut-up. It’s too late to wonder what you have done because you’ve created a monster, that’s what. But, it’s your little monster and you love it and you love it, yes, you love it. Well, you do don’t you?

“Oh, what have we done to deserve this?” you think, and hopefully, not out loud. Well, that sex manual that you thought you knew all the answers to. You know the one someone gave you as a wedding present that you all laughed at. Yeah, that’s the one. Well, you should have read the whole thing not just looked at the pictures and chuckled. Too late now though, isn’t it?

So now were on to adolescence and the wonder of school. We have our little problems growing up. The nicks and scrapes and broken bones and sprained ankles but, we survived like our parents survived and their parents before them and theirs before them and so on and so forth. The only difference between now and then is we weren’t so sue happy back then.

Our parents never thought about suing our neighbors if we got hurt on their property. They just gathered us up and took us to the doctor or the hospital or whatever. No one was to blame. It was part of growing up. Regrettable, yes, always, but not something they litigated over. If it was serious, the neighbor would be there to comfort and lend a hand if they could but the thought of suing was never in question. How times and thinking have changed. Not always for the better, I might add.

Kindergarten and the early grades when learning was exciting. It was an adventure because everything was new. Everything including all the other kids. You may have had friends in your neighborhood that you played with but, that was what, four or five maybe six kids at most. Now you have dozens of them. All different ages and a play-ground that’s huge. There’s tether balls and kick balls and basketballs. There’s jump ropes and hop-scotch, swings and teeter-totters. It was marvelous. So many things to try. So many things to fall off of.

Then, for us guys, there were the girls. Cute little girls in pig tails with puffy dresses, shiny shoes and shy smiles. We, on-the-other-hand, ignored them. Or, pretended to ignore them. We were shy as well but we were cool, ya know? We would run by them and poke them and then laugh like we had really done something. Then we would run by them again and pull their pigtail or pony-tail, what have you. This was the mating ritual for the five to six-year-old group. Tormenting as a form of wooing. Sure, we liked them but we couldn’t let them know that or each other, for that matter. We had to act like they were from another planet, ya know? They were different from us guys. We just weren’t sure how they were different or why. We hadn’t progressed that far yet. Everything takes time.

There are some male adults who, to this day, think that the proper way to approach a woman is to be callous, crude and obnoxious. And, I must say, there are some woman who like that sort of man. They promote that kind of behavior by enabling these cretins. They must have a very low opinion of themselves is all I can say.  Woman of all ages deserve better than that and the sooner they stop accepting that behavior from men, the sooner all women will be safer.

Oops! Got too serious there. Didn’t I?

Once we trip and stumble through the elementary levels of life and education we enter what is now called middle school or, the halfway house of life. We are just barely adolescence any more and not barely teenagers. Our hormones are going wacko and nothing seems to fit for very long. Not our clothes. Not our shoes. Not our ages. Not anything. It’s like our bodies have turned against us and the outside world is helping. We are what we are but we can’t figure out what exactly that is. Very awkward indeed.

But, thank goodness that only lasts for four very long years and then we enter our next awkward stage. We’re teenagers. We’re in high school. We know what girls are and we finally figured out why they’re different from us guys. And we like it. Now, we have to figure out what the heck to do about it.

We can’t go back to pulling their pigtail or pony tails. That wouldn’t be appropriate at our age. Standing and giggling like said girls isn’t behavior befitting guys like us so we had to figure out a different approach.

“Let’s ignore them. Yeah, that’s what we’ll do, we’ll ignore them. That will get their attention.”

Sometimes I wonder what we were thinking of back then.

Well, I guess that approach, or lack of approach, worked for some guys but, it never had the desired effects for yours truly. I finally had to go about it the old, old fashion way. Work up the courage and ask her out (whoever that her might have been). As a wise man once said (about sales) every ‘no’ you get brings you one step closer to a ‘yes’. I think the same holds true with dating.

I still have hopes.

We made a lot mistakes and by we, I’m including everyone and especially the ones who claim to have made none. Their mistakes cannot be looked back upon and reviewed for they have none to reflect on. I feel this is sad for we learn from our mistakes, hopefully, and to think yourself so perfect right out of the chute. Well, good for them, I guess.

I, for one, am thankful for my mistakes and treasure them like old friends. They’re something to look back on and laugh about today and for me, a source of inspiration for my never-ending stories. I wish my children to read these stories and see for themselves just how imperfect their dad really was, and is, but how much he enjoyed his growing up and especially, his sharing of those moment with them and with all of you.

“The Process of Living Life” is different for each person yet, remarkably the same. Our paths may take us in quite different directions on our journey’s through life but, eventually, we will all end up at the same place. How we get there, what we do along the way and how or if we are remembered will be the only difference. A big difference, granted but not  a defining difference for, once again, we are all equal. Not one better than the other. Maybe more accomplished but not better. And there is a difference.

I have been blessed with the gift of gab although my daughters might consider it a curse because I almost always insist that they read my ‘stuff’. This one will be no different. I’ll ask them to read it as well. I hope they enjoy it. I hope you enjoyed it and will tell your friends about my site and that you will come back and visit again.

I look forward to hearing from you but, until then….

Have a great day and a Happy New Year!

Ed B.

– Mr. Obama – We Are Hemorrhaging Money We Don’t Have –

It’s time to turn off the tap and start explaining, in terms we all can understand, where in the hell are you getting all of this money you’re spending. You’re like a drunken sailor on leave. My apologies to all sailors everywhere but, that’s what it seems like.

What’s a trillion dollars here and a couple of billion dollars there and oh, we can’t forget that little country over there. They haven’t gotten anything for a while. Let’s throw them a couple million just for grins. Let’s fund this project and that project and let’s get that health care bill through at all costs, by all means. Who cares if it screams of Socialism or not? Who cares if it has already been proven not to be efficient or effective? Who cares? I mean, who cares?

“Change You Can Count On!”  “Change For The Better!”

Has anyone seen anything change? It looks like business as usual to me and a whole lot of other people as well. Where have all of the lobbyist gone? Have they all disappeared like they were supposed to? No! As-matter-of-fact, they have not. They are still comfortably tucked inside the beltway with a number of congressmen and senators neatly tucked under each arm. Which, by-the-way, is a perfect place for them because they are ‘the pits’.

Have you noticed how government has shrunk dramatically under the new administration? No, I don’t believe you have because, well, it’s grown. Now there’s ‘Change You Can Count On!’.

Have you noticed how our enemies fear us since the new administration has taken office? NO?!?! Well, that’s not surprising seeings how terrorist activities have picked up both abroad and (Guess what?) right here at home as well.

Now, you may not have liked “W” (Mr. Bush) very well but on his watch, this would not have happened and didn’t. The enemies of this country knew what he was capable of and that he wouldn’t stand for any of their shenanigans. He’d sooner bomb them into next week as hear any of their lies or cries of capitalist this or Americans that.

Simply put, you don’t mess with a Republican president. You just don’t.

Eisenhower was a proven military leader. Every nation knew what he was capable of. Kennedy was a P.T. boat commander that was truly heroic but, he got us and himself into a situation that almost led to World War III with the Cuban blockade and the Bay of Pigs botched invasion. He left the Cubans, that our military trained and transported to the invasion site, without air support, supplies or a way to retreat, all which were promised to them. Kennedy backed down and left them to die or be captured.

Johnson and McNamara got us into a shooting war in southeast Asia. At first called a police action, Johnson had the Navy make up a torpedo boat attack by the Vietnamese Navy on our picket destroyers that never happened. A way to get us more involved in the war there. Then he and McNamara micro-managed the war from the Oval Office not allowing the field commanders to do their jobs effectively. This resulted in enormous air losses both Navy and Air Force casualties, hundreds of planes shot down and captured pilots, aircrews and ground personnel. Most of which were unnecessary. Nixon came in and resumed bombing up north, removed unnecessary and unreasonable restrictions placed on combat crews and started to fight to win. Soon, the Vietnamese came back to the bargaining tables and the war, for us, ended. Well, for the most part.

When Jimmy Carter was in office for his one term, he got the American Embassy in Iran over-run and captured. He tried an ill conceived and poorly planned rescue mission that resulted in loss of equipment, lives of American servicemen and embarrassment among world leaders. The American personnel were held captive for 444 days until Ronald Reagan was inaugurated. This so frightened the Iranians that they released the captives the next day. No questions asked. They knew what to expect.

Reagan told Gorbachev, the Russian Premier, at the height of the cold war and referring to the Berlin wall dividing East and West Germany for decades, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall.” Gorbachev did just that and for the first time since the end of hostilities during World War II, Germany was once again a single nation. Not a nation divided.

In stead of depleting our military reserves and weakening our defences as was the way of the democrats, Ronald Reagan re-built our military into what it is today, second to none. He then restored the economy and gave small businesses and farmers the boost they needed to get up and running profitably.

George H. W. Bush, Gulf War I. He did just what the United Nations allowed him to do. Did he want to go all the way to Baghdad? I’m sure he did. But he could not. The U.N resolution would not allow it. It would only allow him to secure the territory unlawfully annexed by the Iraqi forces which he did.

George W. Bush, Gulf War II, acted like any president should under the circumstances. When your country is attacked, you retaliate or you perish. Now, maybe that’s a little extreme but, I can just imagine what it would have been like if that other guy, the tree hugger, had gotten into office in stead of Bush. You know the guy I’m referring to, Al Gore, Yeah, him. We would still be in a wait and see posture trying to figure out what all those ‘other’ explosions were all about.

And now, we have Mr. Obama. This guy takes ‘wait and see’ to a whole ‘nother level. Wait and see what the polls say. Wait and see how the election turns out. Wait and see who’s on first. Wait and see if we’re still here after waiting and seeing so much. This wait and see president is going to get us all killed. None of our enemies fear him. None of our allies respect him nor do they trust him. If he can’t figure out how to cure or solve a problem, he throws money at it. “Yeah, that’ll work.”

I’m waiting for one Democrat to be honest with him or herself and, with me of course, and say they are shocked and dismayed at their choice for commander-in-chief. Just one honest democrat, that’s all, and I’ll be happy.
Well, for a while anyway.

That’s MY opinion and you are welcome to it.

Have a great day!

Ed B.

– Writing, Writers & The Written Word –

I am speaking only for myself mind you for I can honestly only do that. I have not been empowered by some supreme writing god to intervene on the behalf of others so any comments made here are strictly my own and relate entirely to myself. If, perhaps, others out there should feel the same way or are experiencing the same things, well, that is totally coincidental I assure you.

One of the first things I published on my very first blog, as-a-matter-of-fact, the very first thing I published was an article titled “Opinions and People”. The first line, if I recall, was “Opinions are like a–holes. Everyone has one and most of them stink.”

What do you think? Any truth to that statement? I’m still thinking that there is a modicum of truth there. It may not apply all the time but the majority of the time, people say things just to hear themselves talk.

I’m as guilty as the next guy when it comes to that. On occasions, I will arbitrarily blurt out something I know not to be true just to keep a good conversation from going dry for the simple lack of stimulus. Come on, anyone who isn’t just a casual observer has done that once or twice (maybe more, truth be known). You would have to have been as disinterested in the conversation as a knot in a piece of wood not to have done it at some point.

So, where is all this leading. Why talk about writing, writers and the written word and, and, the opinions they (we) express? Because they (we) express our opinions not only vocally but in print as well. We don’t just voice our opinions we put them down so people can pass them on. So people can go back and refer to them. Or, so they can go back and point fingers at them and say, “Look at what that idiot just wrote.”

Why is it that we (as writers in our own right) feel our opinions are so much better than everyone else? Because, that is what we are saying, isn’t it? Isn’t that why we feel compelled to put it down on paper? To place our thoughts in print and publish them on the internet for all to see (or ignore, as the case may be).

What is it about our way of thinking or our way of looking at a certain issue or personal bug-a-boo that makes our opinion worth your time to read or listen to? Frankly, I have no idea! But you do and that’s what keeps me and others like me going. Something in what we are saying rings true with you and it keeps you coming back.

I don’t care whether you agree with me or not. As-a-matter-of-fact, it’s much more interesting for me when I get a dissenting view from a reader. In spite of what I have just said, I like to discuss things and, should you show me the light and prove my viewpoint wrong, I will freely admit it. But, let me warn you, I won’t tolerate middle-of-the-roadisms. Don’t just criticize. Have a counter point to offer. And, if it happens to deal with religion, I don’t accept, “You just have to take it on faith.” as an answer to anything.

So, there are the ground rules and I really look forward to your comments. Challenge your intellect. Hell, challenge mine. Challenge your beliefs, if you dare. It can only make them stronger.

I’ve taken up enough of your time for now.

Have a great day and a wonderful New Year!

Ed B.

– I’m A Cop? – Now That’s Weird – #6

I was fresh out of Military Police school and assigned to my permanent duty station at Sandia Base, Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was a Defense Atomic Support Agency base attached to the Albuquerque airport which also served as Kirkland Air Force Base. Smack dab in the middle and located at the approach end of the main runway was a top, top secret base called Manzano Mountain. It was protected by five rounds of barbed-wire fencing with guards with automatic weapons and guard dogs walking the perimeter day and night. I never knew, nor did I ever ask but once what was inside those fences.

Kirkland Air Force base was the home of a fighter wing consisting of bright and shiny F-100 Super Sabres. The week-end warriors would come in and fly them to keep up their proficiency just in case their services were required over in Vietnam.

Well, one day, when the fly boys came to work, they found their bright and shiny F-100’s had been painted in camouflage colors to match the terrain in Vietnam. We heard them fire up, taxi out and take-off. We never saw them again. What a shock that must have been , huh?

I found out decades later that they were among the first to fly ground support missions for the troops and later, what was called Fast-FAC flights. Fast, indicating jet powered and FAC, indicating Forward Air Controller. Low level and very dangerous. Locate a target, mark the target by setting it on fire with white phosphorus rockets and then linger over the target to do BDA, Bomb Damage Assessment or TDA, Target Damage Assessment. Which ever applied. Again, low and slow to get pictures and the first hand look. The war had come to Albuquerque one pilot at a time.

Kirkland was also the re-fueling stop for the B-52’s that orbited off the west coast as one of our first strike capabilities due to the cold war being in full swing. It wasn’t enough that we were fighting a full blown war in Southeast Asia, we had to worry about the Russians and their nuclear capability interrupting our way of life in a most unpleasant manner. Ka-BOOM ala the mushroom cloud. Nasty stuff.

By-the-way, I mentioned Sandia Base was a Defense Atomic Support Agency base. Well, Sandia Corporation developed the two Atomic Bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that brought about the end of World War II with Japan. Neat, huh? I thought you’d like that.

Okay, now back to me. Here I was nineteen years and five months old and I’m a cop. Now that’s weird because just last year, as a civilian, I was breaking the law and trying not to get caught. Nothing serious but fighting, speeding things like that not robbery or murder kind of stuff. But the fact remains, I’m a cop!?! Go figure??

Who, in there right mind, would place a loaded .45 in a teenagers hands and tell him to, “Go forth and enforce the law.” Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous in your whole life? Can you imagine your local police department going into the high school gym locker room and saying, “Okay, you, you and you. We’re going to give you two months of training, arm you with .45 cal. semi-automatic weapons and place you into squad cars to enforce the law.”

“Any questions?”

AH, YEAH!!!!  A FEW.

I must admit, it all worked out pretty well. The teenagers that were armed acted like grown men when on duty and performed their duties well and with professionalism. Our contemporaries on the Albuquerque Police Department agreed. We may have been a bunch of teenagers, and, some older but not by much, but we were cops first and acted like it.

Now, when we were off duty, that was another matter. We reverted back to teenage mode rather easily but there was a difference there as well. We never completely forgot we were law enforcement which made us look at things a bit different from before. Oh, we were still just kids, of course, but we were grown up kids, if you know what I mean.

We knew some actions had consequences and, when it was our turn to be on patrol, we were the ones who had to start the process if those consequences for whom ever we pulled over or apprehended.  As military cops, we could only apprehend an individual. City cops could arrest them. Semantics, eh. They all went to the pokey and they all were in hand-cuffs. What’s the diff?

I remember the first time I went on patrol by myself. I was scared to death. Not scared that something might hurt me but scared that I might screw up.
That I would do something really stupid and after my less than glorious start at the company by chasing my self while drunk in an MP vehicle  (Read:  “In Hot Pursuit”  for details.) I was really trying not to screw up at anything.

I remember, also, just trying to get the feel of being on patrol. Trailing people to get an idea how best to gauge their speed and not be too obvious. Where to position myself at an intersection to observe drivers from all directions. Yeah, we were taught these things in our ride-alongs but you have to work out the finer points by yourself.

It was then that I realized exactly what I was doing. I had to smile to myself when I thought, “I’m doing the same thing I used to cuss out the local cops for at home.” Would you call that irony?

I drove down to the West Gate and circled around the entrance side to talk to the gate guard when he waved a sports car through that went around my squad car. The little sports car accelerated to what I believed to be well over the speed limit. I gave chase. The gate guard said something but I was already beyond hearing.

The sports car was indeed speeding so I pulled him over, asked for his license and military I.D. and proceeded to write the ticket. He was very polite, he accepted the ticket and he was on his way. I got back into the squad car, feeling rather good about the whole situation and resumed patrol.

It wasn’t too much longer, when I was on the other side of the base, that I saw that same sports car and, he was speeding again. So, like any good officer of the law, I pulled him over again and proceeded to write him another citation. The gentleman was very polite and apologetic and said it would not happen again. Once again, I handed him the ticket and we were on our way.

At the end of shift, my Enforcement Officer called me into his office and flatly stated, “Binkley, what the HELL do you think you were doing out there today?”

I was shocked. I thought I had done good. I didn’t wreck anything. I didn’t shoot anyone and I gave out two citations to boot. I just shrugged my shoulders and with the most confused look you can imagine I said, “Sir, what did I do wrong?”

He picked up the two citations, looked at them and shook his head. “Binkley, he said, did you happen to notice what that gentleman’s rank was? Did you even look at the sticker on his bumper? Because if you had, you would have noticed a blue sticker with a star in the center.”

I started to say something but he just looked away and held up his hand for me to stop talking.

He continued. “That gentleman just happens to be a Navy Admiral. And you just gave that Navy Admiral two tickets, IN THE SAME DAY!!”

I couldn’t help but cringe at that. I thought I had just bought myself a one way ticket to a combat unit for sure.

“Well, the lieutenant said, the admiral is on his way here now and he’s probably expecting and apology from you and you are going to give it to him, RIGHT?”

I said, “But Sir, I didn’t do anything wrong. He was speeding and I was right to give him the tickets.”

Just then the admiral stepped into the office, still in his civilian clothes and said, “He’s right you know? I was speeding and I did deserve the tickets so just forward them to wherever you forward them and I’ll pay them.” He looked at me, winked and said, “Keep up the good work son.” and walked out of the room.

The enforcement officer set the citations in the pile with the rest of them, shook his head once more and told me to get out. I was off the hook for that one and, oh, I never stopped that sports car again. We did wave at one another every once in a while though. Then he would slow down.

I started paying more attention to the bumper stickers after that. Green were civilians, blue were officers and red were enlisted. We had an unusually large number of officers on our base due to the very nature of our business. Atomic Research and Support, so we operated a bit differently than most bases. We were on the honor system. We were supposed to salute the first officer we saw each day and the last one before getting off duty. That is unless we were addressing said officer, in which case you always saluted. But, just passing one on the street or in a vehicle, the honor system rule applied. We had over three thousand officers from all branches of the service there. It would have been a full time job just saluting them all.

I guess I’ll sign off for now and give you all a break. There are a lot more stories to tell and a lot more time to tell them. I hope. One never knows, does one?

It was said that you don’t salute the man, you salute the uniform or the rank. I don’t think I agree with that completely. Even though you may not be military, salute someone who is (or was). They will understand and you just might get one in return.

Have a great day and a wonderful New Year!!

Ed B.

– Suicide – An Unfortunate Side Effect – #5

During my stint in the U.S.Army, I was witness to a lot of things both bad and some, rather funny. I never saw combat but I saw death. I saw the aftermath of suicide and accidental death. I’ve seen the aftermath of a shotgun blast to the back of a human skull. I’ve seen what flames can do to the human body when trapped in a burning car. No, I never saw combat but what I saw shouldn’t have happened, anywhere.

This story is anything but uplifting and therefore, I shall make it short and to the point. Paul Feilissen (I apologize for the spelling), was a quiet, well-mannered and well liked young man who was anything but suited for the military. This guy was as unmilitary as they came and never should have been drafted. He’s one of the thousands that slipped through the cracks and ended up where he didn’t belong.

Let me explain something quickly. Our commanding officer at the time was a Capt. Jimmy L. Jones who, when I first got there, was a 1st. Lieutenant and served as the Enforcement Officer at the Provost Marshals Office. He was well liked by all the M.P.’s on base and knew that he had their backs regarding their duties, schedules, write-ups (Military Police Reports) and that they could count on him for just about anything.

This all ended when he took over as the company commander when our old C.O. was transferred. We all thought he would continue to be the troopers friend but we were dead wrong. When he got his Captains bars and the command, he became a tyrannical son-of-a-bitch. You can’t candy coat it. That’s what he became and he seemed to really enjoy it.

Now, back to Paul Feilissen. Paul just wasn’t cut out for the military and had applied for a hardship discharge which would have let him get out with some dignity. The C.O. said no. He told him if he wanted out that bad, get a Section – 8. A Psychological Discharge; Mentally unfit for military duty.

Paul was mad and that was understandable. None of us could figure out why Capt. Jones was being so stubborn and trying to keep a guy like Paul in the service. It seemed to us better all around if he just let the guy out and replaced him with someone who actually wanted to be there. And, when you take everything into consideration, Albuquerque, New Mexico ain’t so bad when you’ve got a full-blown shootin’ war goin’ on across the pond.

Paul didn’t pull much duty anyway. He rarely if ever pulled any M.P. duty. Maybe he’d stand gate guard once in a while but it was usually the Zia Gate which was way out in the boonies and I mean way out.

It was a quiet night on base and I was patrolling the residential areas across from the barracks and close to the NCO Club. It was a graveyard shift, 11pm to 7 am and, even if it had been a week-end, it was still usually pretty quiet.

I had stopped into the barracks to check in with the CQ, the Charge of Quarters. This was usually a sergeant who would take messages, give wake-up calls, and refer more difficult matters to the appropriate personnel or wait until the office staff came in the next morning.

This night, Sgt. Johnson was the CQ and Pfc. Bell, a red-headed Irishman, was his CQ runner whose job was exactly like it sounds. The coffee at the barracks was always better than at the PMO so I stopped for a cup and chatted a while before resuming patrol.

I guess I had only been out of the barracks for twenty minutes or so when I heard a pained call from the gate guard on the West Gate. He was calling the PMO and said he had just been shot. The desk sergeant asked if he was alright and what had happened while dispatching an ambulance to the scene along with another squad car.

The gate guard was a black kid named Bell, like the CQ runner, but obviously was no relation to the red-headed Irishman.

I heard Bell say that his roommate, Paul Feilissen, had come up to the gate and had been drinking quite heavily. Bell told his roommate that he needed to use the bathroom in the guard shack and asked him to listen for the radio while he was gone. Bell then retired to the bathroom.

He had no sooner gotten himself situated when Paul walked in, grabbed his .45 semi-automatic out of his holster which was hanging up on the door, jacked a round into the chamber and fired a round into his leg. Paul told his roommate that he was sorry and to stay put. He was going to the barracks to kill the C.O. “It’s the only way.” he said.

Paul must have forgotten or was too drunk to remember but the C.O. was on a two-week leave. He wasn’t due back for a week or more. I called the PMO and told them I was right in the vicinity and would proceed to the quadrangle (the parking area behind the barracks) and investigate. All I got was “Roger.”

When I got there, Paul’s car was blocking the entrance to the quadrangle so I had to park behind his car and entered through the double doors that faced down the hall. This was a four-story, cement and steel structure with cement walls and steel door frames. It was built to last.

As I entered the building the CQ’s office was about thirty or forty feet down and on the right. All the office doors were left open during the night for cleaning and all the offices had interconnecting doors from one office to the other. One nice thing about the hallway doors is that they were staggered so you couldn’t look directly form one office across the hallway and into the next.

When I first entered I could hear Paul talking to the CQ, Sgt. Johnson and Pfc. Bell. I couldn’t make out what he was saying but he seemed to be talking normally. I called out to him which proved to be a mistake. He told me to leave and fired a shot down the hall. The round hit one of the metal door jams and ricocheted off to who knows where? I dove into the nearest office and started taking stock. I seemed to be fine except my heart rate was way off the charts.

I started working my way from one office to the next being as quiet as I possibly could and listening. I listened for anything I could hear that would tell me what was going on in the CQ’s office.

When I got to the office that was just catty-corner from the CQ’s I could hear Sgt. Johnson trying to explain to Paul that the C.O was on leave and wouldn’t be back for more than a week. There was a silence then Paul said, “Well, I guess I’ll just have to kill myself.” Sgt. Johnson and the runner Bell tried to talk him out of it but it just seem to make him madder. Finally they gave up.

I heard Paul tell them to lay on their stomachs and place their hands under their chins. He told them that they were going to watch him shoot himself and if either one of them blinked, he would kill them both.

I was just getting ready to get up when I heard the shot. Apparently Paul had laid his right temple against the barrel of the .45 and pulled the trigger. Just that fast and it was over. When I got to the doorway Paul lay dead and Sgt. Johnson and Pfc. Bell were still in the prone position with their hands cradling their chins. Neither had blinked. Their eyes were as big as golf balls.

Paul was a casualty of war as sure as he had been in combat but there was no combat and there was no war where he was at. The only battle was between a young man who wanted nothing more than to go home and an arrogant, tyrannical S.O.B. that couldn’t do the right thing even to save a young mans life. So short sighted was he that an innocent life had to be taken for no good reason at all. And, that was just one life that was taken. That night might well have been much worse. One wounded and one dead and two scarred for life was quite bad enough.

Soldiers place themselves in harms way so you don’t have to. Tell them how much you appreciate their sacrifice.

Have a great day and a wonderful New Year!!

Ed B.

– In Hot Pursuit – #4

Now that title was a little misleading but not all together untrue. There is a police chase involved but I have to tell you how it all began first.

I was trained as a Military Policeman at Fort Gordon, Georgia and assigned to my permanent duty station at Sandia Base, Albuquerque, New Mexico as an enforcement officer. Since this was a top secret base everyone in the law enforcement field had to have a top secret clearance in order to enter restricted areas. You can’t be chasing a fugitive and then have to stop because you’re not allowed past a certain point.

Can you just hear, “Hey you, wait up there. I can’t chase you in there. Come back here.”  The only reason the fugitive would have been caught at all would be because he was laughing too hard to run.

Anyway, while we were waiting for our clearances to arrive, we were assigned to other duties around the barracks and the immediate area in general. One of the choicer jobs would be helping the senior NCO’s (non-commissioned officers or sergeants, if-you-will) with off base projects. This often involved casual attire, relaxed work conditions and free beer.

One Saturday, four of us were requested to help SFC. White (SFC – sergeant first class) with just such an off base project that was to remain hush-hush. Two of us were to check out one pick-up truck each, fill it with gas and report to the first sergeants office for orders. This we did and then we found out what our hush-hush job was to be.

Sgt. White was moving his girl-friend from her single wide trailer on the southwest side to a real apartment in the northeast. A definite step in the right direction. The reason it was to be hush-hush is because we didn’t want Mrs. Sgt. White to find out. Not to mention it wasn’t quite kosher using military vehicles off base for civilian purposes. So many things could go wrong for so many reasons.  And, of course, they did.

The day progressed normally and we got everything moved and Sgt. Whites girl-friend was quite happy. Sgt. White, I’m sure, got the better of the thank-yous but two cases of Coors wasn’t bad for five or six hours work.

Sgt. White told us to take our time getting back to the base but be careful because , after-all, we were MP’s and we were drinking. We all assured him that the vehicles and their occupants would get back to the base in one piece. We waved good by and took off into the sunset. Really, we were heading east but who’s keeping track.

We sat somewhere on the outskirts of town and consumed most of the beer. We were all getting hungry and three of the guys wanted to get back to base right away. I wanted to stop at McDonalds and get some cheeseburgers and a shake. Like I said, the sun was going down and sooner than not, it would be dark.

The three other guys went straight back to the base and, apparently, arrived without incident. I headed for the nearest McDonalds. I ordered two double cheeseburgers an order of fries and a vanilla shake to go. I then, proceeded back to the main gate and the barracks where I intended to eat my bounty.

The beer had started to kick into high gear and my decision making was taking a severe beating. Now, like I said, I was still waiting for my clearance so I could be added to the daily roster. This meant that  I wasn’t recognizable by any of the gate guards or, except for the guys I arrived with, not many people at all. So, when I blew right through the main gate without stopping and just a wave from me as recognition, the response from the gate guard was immediate and quite understandable.

I told you that we had checked out two pick-up trucks from our motor pool but what I didn’t mention is that they were fully equipped Military Police vehicles as well. They both had fully functional Motorola radios, red lights and sirens. These were regular patrol vehicles used along with the squad cars there on base.

Being and MP and wanting to keep up on things, I had the Motorola turned on, the volume up and listening with great interest to what was going on. When I heard, over the radio, that there was an unauthorized person driving an MP vehicle right down Wyoming Blvd and that he had just run the main gate without stopping, I said to myself, “I’m on Wyoming and I just went trough that gate. That guy must be right in front of me.” So I did what any good MP would do, on duty or off. I turned on my red lights and siren and started to chase the culprit.

The gate guard got back on the radio and said, “You won’t have any trouble finding this guy. He’s wearing a bright yellow shirt.”

I”m thinking, “What an idiot. Why wear something bright if you’re going to try and steal an MP vehicle?”

The guard reported the vehicle approaching the cross street leading to the MP barracks so I figured he must have turned all ready because I couldn’t see him. I turned right to try and catch up to him when I saw every Military Police vehicle we had in a circular road block just ahead.

I’m thinking, “Well this guy ain’t goin’ nowhere now.”

As a pulled up and jumped out of the truck, I noticed all guns were pointed at me and I soon found myself face down on the road being handcuffed and stuffed in a patrol car.

“Why were they mad at me? I was only trying to help.” I thought.

It wasn’t until we arrived at the Provost Marshals Office that I found out that I was the one being chased. I was the idiot in the bright yellow shirt who had blown through the main gate. I was the one who was, sad to say, in hot pursuit of myself. Needless to say it took a while to live that one down.

My adventure for the evening wasn’t over just yet though. I still had to get myself out of hot water with the enforcement officer Lt. Darnell. He was kind of a namby-pamby type of guy and all the regular MP’s that had been around for a while called him Linda. This was after the very attractive dark-haired actress from the 1940’s Linda Darnell. He didn’t appreciate it at all.

Anyway, the only thing I could say was that my use of the vehicle was authorized by the first sergeant. I couldn’t say why I was using it or where I had been using it or anything about anything. Very hush-hush, remember?

I told Lt. Darnell that he should call first sergeant Wilson if he needed clarification.

Lt. Darnell got this smug look on his face and said, “You really want me to call the first sergeant at this hour? Is that what you WANT me to do Binkley?”

I said, “I really wish you would sir.” “By-the-way, they took my cheeseburgers when they brought me in sir.”

He said, “Never mind the cheeseburgers. Those are the least of your problems.” “Now about that truck Binkley.”

“Sir, I said, You’re going to have to call the first sergeant.”

He looked at me puzzled but then said, “All right, I’ll call first sergeant Wilson but he’s not going to be happy about having to come down here this late at night.”

“No sir, I don’t expect he will be.”

It took first sergeant Wilson and Sgt. White about half an hour to get over to the Provost Marshals Office and into the back office where I was being detained and still in cuffs, by-the-way.

Just a little clarification about rank in the army or any branch of the service for that matter. A sergeant is, technically, out-ranked by an officer. Any officer. And, for the most part, this works out well most of the time. That is until push comes to shove and then all bets are off. When a first sergeant says jump, most 2nd and 1st lieutenants will only ask, “How high sergeant?” and then start jumping until the sergeant decides to answer. You will find this also holds true with a lot of Captains as well.

A first sergeant doesn’t become a first sergeant without years of experience and training you can only get with time. This is why they are so valuable and are listened to religiously.

When first sergeant Wilson and Sgt. White came through the door to the office, Lt. Darnell still had that smug look on his face. That soon disappeared when Sgt. Wilson said, “What the hell is the meaning of this Darnell?” “What’s so God damn important to get me out this time of night?”

Darnell, pardon the phrase but, he didn’t know whether to shit or go blind. He thought I was going to be the one in trouble but it didn’t seem to be working out quite that way. Darnell started to explain what was going on. About me drinking and driving a military vehicle with emergency equipment going. Being involved in a pursuit even if I was just pursuing myself. Unauthorized use of an MP vehicle, etc., etc., etc.

I saw Sgt. White lean over and whisper something to the first sergeant and they both kind of stifled a smile when Sgt. Wilson bellowed, “Darnell, get those cuffs off that soldier and do it now.”

All I could do is sit there with this sheepish look on my face. I didn’t know whether the next shoe to drop would be on me or whether Darnell would get that one too.

Sgt. Wilson kind of growled at Lt. Darnell and put his hand on my shoulder. He said, “Are you all right? You’re not hurt or anything?”

I assured him I was fine but I was hungry. He laughed and said that the mess hall wouldn’t be open for several hours yet. I told him that I had stopped at McDonald’s to get cheeseburgers , fries and a vanilla shake.

He looked at me and asked, “And you’re still hungry?”

I told him that when I was arrested, Lt. Darnell confiscated my food and I hadn’t seen it since.

The Sgt. looked at Darnell and said, “Go get this man his food and by God it had better all be there.”

Darnell swallowed hard and started to send someone else after the McDonald’s bag when Sgt. Wilson looked at Darnell and said, “I told you to get it. Didn’t I?”

Lt. Darnell never said a word. He simply walked out of the office and returned with my food which he placed on the desk next to me.

“Now, said the first sergeant, after Binkley here has finished his food and when he is ready to be transported, YOU, Mr. Darnell, will give him a ride back to the barracks. You will see he gets to his room and is made comfortable for the night. You will then make sure he is not on any duty  roster for tomorrow and that he is not disturbed. Is that clear?”

“Yes first sergeant. But what about the charges?”

“What charges, lieutenant?, he growled, Just what charges are you referring to?”

I never heard anything more about the incident that memorable night in 1967. Mrs. Sgt. White remained blissfully unaware of her husbands shenanigans and, Lt. Darnell and I, well let’s just say, I never made it onto his Christmas card list.

Well, that’s the way it happened oh so many years ago or, that’s the way I remember it. Take your pick.

Don’t wait for Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day to thank a veteran for his or her service. Show you care for them as much as they showed they cared for you.

Have a great day and a wonderful New Year!!

Ed B.