Tag Archives: Humor

– 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.

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– 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.

– 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.

– From Army Basic to A. I. T. – Advanced Individual Training – #3

To say that army basic training is ‘basic’ is an over-simplification of the term. It is anything but basic. What you need to do is take individuals who think independently, act independently and, for the most part, question everything and turn them into a cohesive unit who think as a unit, act as a unit and do things when told and ask questions later.

Think of yourself in combat. I know that’s asking a lot of some of you but try anyway. Your life is on the line 24/7 when you are in the line of fire. You have to trust the guy or girl next to you with your life because, like it or not, that is what’s at stake here. Should anyone in your command whether you’re in a squad on patrol. A platoon on an interdiction or a company strength search and destroy mission. If anyone says “Hit it.” or “Drop.” or “Take cover.” the only dead person is going to the guy, or girl, who says “Huh?” and doesn’t react.

Think of the cartoon where a hunter is out looking to bag a turkey. He’s calling out with the gobble, gobble, gobble thing trying to get some stupid turkey to stick his head up over some fallen tree trunk and then BLAM, turkey dinner. The soldier who doesn’t react fast enough……… is that turkey. Understand now?

This is what “basic training” is all about. Taking the individual out of the civilian and putting the team member into the soldier. It’s the only means of survival when you are in combat. You have to think, act and respond like a team. Everyone has to trust everyone else to be on the same page or the whole thing would and, most probably will , fall apart.

Basic training involves physical training, basic hand to hand combat, bayonet training, marksmanship and weapons care, first aid, camouflage  and concealment, running, lots of running and marching, lots of marching which, by-the-way, is the single most important part of all the training and here’s why. It is a subtle way of teaching troops how to move as a unit. Stay in step and react to orders or, in this case, directions as a unit.

Everyone moves as a unit at the same time, in the same direction, without question, they just do it. This results in lives saved in combat. Very simple, very basic, seems almost silly when they’re being taught the moves on the parade ground and, they are never really told why it is so necessary. It’s the least strenuous or mentally taxing of all the training they receive yet it is the single most important training they receive that will  possibly save their lives or that of their fellow soldiers.

I wonder just how many former or current soldiers realize the importance of Drill and Ceremony when it comes to combat. It would be interesting to hear from some of you and get your opinions.

After basic, we all got our orders for whatever was to come next. My buddy and I had volunteered for airborne infantry so we were pretty sure where we were headed. Everyone else in our training platoon, not so much.

The army or, the military in general, is not known for their logical disbursement of their available troops. Former mechanics, instead of going to the motor pool, would end up cooks. Guys with some college would end up not in a training brigade but in the infantry. High school drop-outs would end up with the technical jobs and anyone with a medical background was liable to end up as a supply clerk. There was no rhyme or reason to their selection process. It was like they used a dart board and a blind man to arrange the assignments.

Phil and I, like I said, volunteered for airborne infantry so, naturally, Phil went to the Signal Corp to learn how to run a radio and send morse code and I went to Military Police school to learn how to become a cop. We both dropped our request for airborne when we arrived at Fort Gordon Georgia. What was to become our home for the next two and a half months.

It’s funny, I don’t remember much about my M.P. training. We took classes on military law, self-defense hand to hand training, how to drive the new light-weight jeeps aggressively while still being safe, weapons training with our new best friend the .45 cal. semi-automatic pistol and, of course, P.T. (physical training), there was always that.

Unlike Fort Ord in California, we were allowed to go to the PX (Post Exchange) on our off duty hours and drink their 3-2 beer. When we left Fort Ord we had also left behind the meningitis scare. The 3-2 beer was half the potency of regular beer but it tasted good just the same. After tree months anything that even vaguely resembled beer (sort of like Coors Light today) tasted good.

One afternoon, while I was enjoying yet another weak-ass beer at the PX, who should walk in but my old buddy Phil. We caught up on what was happening in our corner of the camp and Phil told me he had run into Dennis Portlance and Larry Ferguson. They were both here at Fort Gordon for more specialized training. These two guys were friends of ours from high school and Dennis and I had taken a short but eye-opening detour to Alaska and the university in Fairbanks. More about that in a later post.

We all decided to get a week-end pass and go see the sights of downtown Augusta, Georgia. Which, shortly after our arrival downtown, we decided to re-name Disgusta, Georgia. Man, what a let down. We walked around for a very short period of time and then, rather dejected, we decided to get a hotel room and just sit and talk the night away.

In our wanderings we came upon the, you guessed it, The Augusta Hotel. What else, right? Now, if memory serves me right, Augusta was a dry city. In-other-words, no booze to be purchased or served. Another let down. I called room service just out of curiosity and asked if he, the night clerk, knew where we might obtain a couple bottles of adult beverages. He told us that he could get whatever we wanted. It was a courtesy of the hotel. Things were looking up.

Phil was a scotch drinker so I assume that was his beverage of choice. Dennis I remember being partial to Crown Royal from our time in Alaska. Larry wasn’t much of a drinker but I know he got something and I got a bottle of Southern Comfort. Big mistake, as I was to find out later.

The desk clerk delivered the bottles and we paid the price plus a pretty good tip as I recall. Then the clerk asked if we wanted anything else. Just some ice if you’ve got it. Down the hall, he motioned. Still he stood there. Again we asked what he wanted. We thought it was a bigger tip. We were wrong.

He asked, “What about the girls?”

“What about what girls?” we asked.

He said, “Well, if you’re going to have a party, don’t you want some girls here?”

“Nah, I said, we’re just a bunch of high school buddies looking to get a little  drunk going. That’s all.” “Besides, we don’t know any girls around here.”

The clerk kind of rolled his eyes and said, “Suit yourselves.” Then walked away.

For the next couple of hours he kept calling our room asking, “Do you want I should send the girls up yet?”

As disappointed as we were in Augusta, Georgia circa 1966 as a whole, I can imagine how “special” their hookers might have been back then. There was a lot of traffic going through training at that time so, I would imagine there was a lot of traffic going through, well, you fill in the blanks.

The night at the Augusta Hotel passed slow enough for all four of us to get thoroughly hammered. That sweet concoction that is Southern Comfort was anything but a comfort. My stomach was churning and my head spinning at an alarming rate. If I had one of those beanie caps on with the propeller on top, I could have flown non-stop to L.A. in record time.

I don’t know when it happened but I received a call from the porcelain god and he beckoned me to join him in the bathroom. I did as I was instructed, assumed the position and promptly emptied the contents of my stomach  into the waiting commode (aka. the porcelain god). The trouble is, I passed out with my head still in the darn thing. It was a darned good thing that Phil wasn’t as drunk as I was because he heard this blub-blub-blub coming from the bathroom and staggered into investigate. There was his old high school buddy, Me, drowning in the toilet.

There’s a letter every parent would be proud as peaches to get, huh? Dear Mr. and Mrs. Binkley, We are sorry to inform you that your son, Edward, drown in his own puke at the Augusta Hotel in downtown Augusta, Georgia the night of, etc., etc., etc. Thank-you Phil, I mean it.

I’m sorry to say that the four of us didn’t see each other again for some time after that. I don’t think any of us, especially me, was ready for a re-match at the Augusta any time soon. Dennis and Phil, eventually ended up across the pond in Vietnam. Larry and I were luckier. We did our tours stateside. The important thing is, we all survived our tours and eventually got back together. Well, not all at once but we’re working on that. At least we are all now in touch. Thank God for e-mail.

Okay, let’s see. I graduated from basic training on November 11, 1966 and was flown via Standard Airlines (military charter) to Augusta, Georgia. I started training, went to the PX, ran into Phil , had the unfortunate drunk at the hotel. Oh yes, Christmas. We had Christmas leave that lasted through New Years. I think we had to report back on the 3rd or 4th of January, 1967.

It was about three days before Christmas and everyone was getting ready to go home for the holidays. For some, it would be the last. For others, it would be the last normal Christmas they would ever spend anywhere.

I was going home to Chicago to spend my last civilian (sort of civilian) Christmas with my dad and step-mom. I traveled by Greyhound bus from Augusta to Chicago. A twenty-eight (28) hour trip made better only by the fact that the driver insisted I ride in the front right hand seat (more leg room) and that a pretty girl sit next to me (a bonus any way you look at it). I think it had something to do with my being in uniform and going home for the holidays. Maybe the bus driver was ex-military or his son was in the service or something along those lines.

Christmas was fun and it was good to see my dad and Mickey (his wife) again. I didn’t know when or if I would see them in the future because at that point, I had no idea what the future held in store for me. As-a-matter-of-fact, I didn’t think too much about my future because I didn’t think I still had one. Things didn’t look good over in Vietnam and we were hearing about the body-counts both ours and their and it was anything but encouraging. This wasn’t something I wanted to think about while on leave but, one night, my dad had watched something on the news that got him fired up.

We were sitting at the dinner table discussing whatever and dad mentioned this thing he saw on TV. He was talking about the troops over there (in Nam) and calling them young punks over and over again. My step-mom tried to defuse the situation by saying, “Oh Walt, you don’t mean that.”

“The hell I don’t.” he would say, “Why those young punks over there, why they think………..” Then I cut him off.

“Dad, just shut up. You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.” I said, “By-the-way, it’s the young punks over there that are protecting you old fat asses over here.”

It was out before I knew it. The color drained from my dads face as he got up out of his chair very slowly. He pushed his chair back and slowly walked from his end of the table to mine. I couldn’t move. It was like my ass was set in cement. Dad drew his left hand back and back-handed me across the mouth sending me flying off the chair, across the short expanse to the cast iron wall heater where my head met said heater and made a sound like that of a gong.

Hurt? Oh hell yes. Did I deserve it? Yes. Did I ever do it again? No way. Discussing is one thing but to disrespect your parents is something else entirely. After discussing it further, my dad apologized to me for what he said about the young troops. He did not, however, apologize for knocking me into next week. For that, no apology was necessary.

The rest of my leave was pretty uneventful. Except for one thing. I went to a Polish wedding with a friend of my step-mothers who was older than I but we were closer in age so….. Anyway, I didn’t have anything dressy to wear so I had to wear my dress green uniform. I think we danced some slow dances. I wasn’t much of a dancer back then. They announced that they were going to have a twist contest. It was 1966 and Chubby Checker with his Twist was still pretty hot then. This gal I was with talked me into entering so we did and, low and behold, we won. Who would have guessed that the only service man in the joint would win the contest? Go figure, huh?

After the holidays and the long bus ride back to Fort Gordon, we completed our training. The barracks we were assigned to were the old World War II wooden two-story style that had coal-burning furnaces in a small room that was part of the structure. There were dozens and dozens of these barracks and each had a coal-burning furnace. It was so cold there that standing fire watch (feeding the flame, in-other-words) was the best way to keep warm. It was, however, hard to stay awake. A lot of the guys would go in there, sleep and never stoke the fire at all. Then, when the next guy went to stand his fire watch, he would have to build the flame back up to normal again.

It was a dirty job and there were, like I said, dozens and dozens of these things going at once. The whole base was covered in soot and smoke. Everything smelled like coal dust. But, it could have been worse.

The guys in Signal training had to sleep in tents with little pot-bellied stoves in each tent. Four guys to a tent. Give me the old barracks anytime.

When we were about to graduate, we were all given our orders for our permanent duty stations. I couldn’t look. I just knew mine said Vietnam or some tropical paradise like that.

When I opened my orders they read Metz, France. “Metz, France, where’s that?”, I asked.

The company first sergeant assured me that his was a prime assignment. The French were less than happy about having us as guests in their country any longer and we were in the process of getting out with as little fan-fare as possible. Therefore, any troop serving embassy duty, which I was slated for, would not be staying on a military reservation. We would, in fact, be staying in hotels. We would not be ‘allowed’ to wear uniforms. We would have to wear civilian suits and ties. We could not carry exposed weapons. We would have to carry concealed weapons in a shoulder holster. And the final straw. We would not be expected to eat military food. We would get an allowance so we could eat in restaurants. Damn it all to hell. What do they expect from us anyway? Anyone would think this was a vacation, not a deployment.

“UH, YEAH ! !”

Metz, France was right on the northern edge of France and adjoined the southern part of Germany. Maybe during the Second World War, not such a good place for an American soldier to be but, now, some twenty-two years later. It was an ideal place for an American soldier to be. Especially if he didn’t look like a soldier.

Well, this was not to be. Unfortunately, I got pneumonia. It was a couple of days before we were to ship out to our debarkation points and we were standing one of our last, if not the last formation. I remember it was very cold and we were standing at attention behind the barracks before going into the mess hall for breakfast. It was still dark and, did I mention, very cold. I remember the first sergeant coming down the steps from his office with some papers and having us go to at ease and then …………….. nothing.

I woke up several hours later in the base hospital. There was this beautiful nurse, a lieutenant, standing beside my bed. I saw her name tag and it read Lt. Green. I asked her first name and she said Misses. So much for that. Besides, she was an officer but, brother, was she ever cute.

She told me that I had passed out in morning formation and was brought straight here.  I told her I didn’t remember much. She said that was all right, there were plenty of guys who saw the whole thing. That made me feel much better.

She told me that I had pneumonia and that I would be a guest at their establishment for the next ten days. I said, “No, no, I can’t be here that long. You see I’m leaving for France tomorrow. I’ve gotta get out of here.”

“I’m afraid not.” she said, “If they haven’t already, they’re going to have to give your orders to someone else.They normally don’t hang on to them very long.”

I’m thinking to myself, “Well, could this day get any better or what?”

They did, in fact, give my orders to a red-headed Irishman named Pat Dimegard. I found out later that he punched his commanding officer and ended up in the stockade. What a waist of some really good orders.

After getting released from the hospital and returned to duty, the first sergeant gave me my new orders, along with an apology for having to give my other orders away. These orders were not for Vietnam either. I, along with a lot of other guys, were going to Sandia Base, Albuquerque, New Mexico. This was a Defense Atomic Support Agency base (whatever that means) and we were all to get Top Secret clearances. Maybe. Those that didn’t would be moving on.

We all went back to that same strip outside of August and boarded yet another Standard Airlines military charter. This one, however, was not a four engine jet like before. This was an old four engine prop job. Not turbo-prop, just gasoline, internal combustion engines of the World War II variety. Very exciting, yes?

Knowing a bit about aircraft, I knew enough to pick a seat over the wing. It’s a pivot point and gives the best ride. I looked at the right-wing just below my window and noticed a trail of oil from the cowling on the inside engine. Being the old gas engines, you had to expect some of that so I was not really concerned.

The cockpit crew consisted of  the pilot in the left seat, the co-pilot in the right seat and the flight engineer in the center behind the engine throttle console on a drop-down seat in the middle. When the pilot advances the throttles on take-off, it is the flight engineers job to place his hand over that of the pilots to insure the throttles are full forward and stay that way incase the pilot needs to remove his hand for any reason. A fail-safe, if you will.

If the cockpit doors could be left open today, you would still see the co-pilot (since many modern commercial aircraft only have two pilots now) place his left hand over the pilots for the very same reason.

Anyway, we were getting ready for departure. Oh, let me mention this about the flight crew. The pilot was a middle-aged man with graying hair. The co-pilot was a younger man probably in his late twenties or so. But the flight engineer. His hair was pure white.

Now there’s a couple of ways to look at that. Maybe the white hair indicates a long, illustrious career in aviation that gives him the experience and knowledge to give everyone on board that confident feeling that everything will be just fine.

OR, seein’s how it’s just twenty some odd years after the second world war, perhaps this gentleman has had one too many flights over the flack riddled skies of Germany. Perhaps that pure white hair indicates he ws scared out of his wits and is now a basket-case worthy of closer observation by a profession staff with white coats.

Either way, the door on this aircraft is closed. The engines are started and we are beginning to taxi out for take-off. “Our Father who art in heaven ……… etc.”

I’m watching the flight crew, especially the white-haired guy, as the throttles go forward and we start to pick up speed. As the nose wheel rotates into the take-off attitude, I notice, out of the corner of my eye, the oil streak on the inboard engine is moving. There is a steady stream of oil moving back to and over the trailing edge of the main wing. Each engine has several gallons of oil so, at that rate we could stay in the air for hours and hours. No problem. I relax.

We seem to be flying pretty low. Probably between 7 and 9,000 feet. Just low enough not to have to pressurize the cabin. There’s a better view from this altitude anyway. Normally the cabin pressure is right around 8,000 feet anyway so we are just about right on.

I looked out to see the progress of the stream of oil and notice it has acquired a friend. There is a second stream of oil coming from the other side of the cowling now. I’m not so worried about running out of oil now as I am of fire. I decide to get the flight engineers attention and tell him of my concerns.

The flight attendant got the engineer and he took a look and declared it normal. Uh, huh. Normal?!?!

Well, that was all I could do so I just continued to watch the flow of oil as we continued our flight. I watched the oil as it flowed past the window and over the edge of the wing. More and more oil when, I noticed something else. Oh why can’t I just sleep like everyone else??

Where the wing root joins the fuselage there is a faring that wraps around that joint to make it more aerodynamic. It tapers from the fuselage to the top of the wing and is fastened there by rivets. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

You see, before being drafted into the army, I worked for Douglas Aircraft as, yup, a riveter on DC-9’s. I worked in fuselage joining were different sections of the aircraft are joined together to form the whole airframe.

Anyway, I noticed some rivets missing in the faring that I didn’t remember being missing before but then, I really didn’t count them. I just didn’t recall any vacancies. No open holes, you know?

As the flight progressed and, fortunately, we were only going to somewhere in Texas where we would be transferring to another plane before continuing on to Albuquerque, we continued to lose more rivets. Structurally we were fine (I think) but losing rivets anywhere is not a good thing. It’s not the ones that you see that will kill you. It’s the ones you don’t know about.

After much oil loss and several rivets popping, we landed somewhere in Texas with a thump and a screech of tires. I was thinking about telling the flight crew about the missing rivets and second oil leak but to what avail?

“Oh that? It’s normal. Nothing to worry about I’m sure.” I could just hear it plain as day.

We got on yet another Standard Airliner to complete our journey. This one was a Convair 880. A very streamlined four engine pure jet of which not many were made. The most unusual thing about the 880 were the tanks on the top of each wing just behind each engine. They resembled military drop tanks but were carried on top of the wing and not under them which has always been the military way. It was a beautiful plane and very comfortable to travel in. This time I sat in an aisle seat and closed my eyes. I figured whatever was to happen would happen whether I saw it first or not. It was a very pleasant trip.

If you see a veteran give him a smile and shake his hand. Say thank-you for a job well done. It was you know?

Have a very nice day!

Ed B.

– Having A Pity Party Here –

For the last several days I have been having a very unsuccessful pity party for myself. Unsuccessful, says I , because I was the only one who came.

I am starting, starting mind you, to figure out that this pity party thing was all wrong. I was feeling sorry for myself because I didn’t get the desired reaction from my daughters about their Christmas presents. By ‘the desired reaction’ I mean they weren’t enthusiastic enough, they weren’t jumping up and down with joy, screaming with glee and adoration for me, the gift giver. Pretty self-consumed and selfish in general, huh? Yeah, I thought so.

Well, I’m sorry. I really am. I was unfair and I now know it. Up to yesterday though, you couldn’t have convinced me of that with a baseball bat.

You see, I gave them all books. Not just any books mind you. They were books I had written for them. Well, that’s not exactly true. I wrote them for me as well but they were primarily for them.

I’m beginning to see that too much of anything is not good. Yes, I’ve known that for many, many years but when it comes to something that you take great pleasure in doing and great pride in accomplishing, it’s hard to see the harm you are doing by forcing it down someone elses throat. Like I said, I’m beginning to understand now.

My primary problem is time. We, all of us, never know when ours will run out. Will it be today, tonight, next week or twenty years from now? There’s only One who knows the answer to that question and He ain’t sayin’. It’s a surprise.

I’m a very emotional person. I am a sentimentalist as well and I, as Johnny Carson would say, hark back to the old days and relive, in my mind and now on paper, those times and places where I found the most joy. Or, where the most joy found me.

As I write and read and re-read these stories, I go back in time. My senses are tuned to the sights, sounds and smells that surrounded me then and it is as if I’m there once more. It’s all so real and alive that, when I finish the story, it’s like I was there all over again. That’s what I want for my girls to feel. That’s what I want everyone and anyone who takes the time to read my stories to feel. If I can accomplish this in some small way, I’ll be happy. At least for a while or until I feel the need to throw myself another pity party. It could happen.

Have a great day and a very Happy and Safe New Year!

Ed B.

– Is Confusion A State Of Mind -or are there kids involved?

Most of the time, I am the proud parent of three lovely and loving grown daughters. When they were younger I expected them to surprise me with actions that were, shall we say, unusual. Not that of an adult because, well, they were not adults yet. Now they are all three well into adulthood and still, I am being surprised on a disturbingly regular basis.

Now, maybe it’s just me that has this problem. It may very well be that my daughters are perfectly normal and I am the one suffering from whatever it is that is affecting me. It could very well be that I have too much time on my hands to think of such things and everything is just fine Sherwood Forest. No need to call in Robin Hood and his band of merry men.

It occurred to me, some time ago actually, that I wanted to become a writer. This happened in high school some forty-eight (48) years ago. Just about the time I was flunking out of English for the first time. Needless to say I did nothing with those desires except ignore them. Oh, I wrote some sappy poetry which, when I read it now, brings forth the phrase, “What was I thinking?”

Since then things have gotten a little better. I laid off the writing for decades and concentrated on reading. It really helps to see how the experts do it. You know the ones I refer to? The published authors.

I’m not necessarily referring to Shakespeare. I mean who writes like that anymore? Other than William, whoever wrote like that then? Dickens is fine. Tolstoy and those other guys, their fine but the ones I am referring to are Hemingway, Steinbeck, Wouk, Koontz, Cussler and Clancy. Now there’s a group of writers to admire. Among many others, of course.

I do not, let me repeat that, I do not place myself anywhere within that group of distinguished gentlemen and authors. Oh but if I could. Compared to them, I am but a hack. A pure wanabe of the lowest denomination by comparison but, I will say this. I am passionate about my writing. I feel I have something to contribute in several arenas but my greatest love is my history. My life and times. When I lived and how I grew up. What I saw and how it effected me. These are the things I want to share with the world, if-you-will, and my children and their children to follow. There-in lies the problem.

I feel my children are taking this all for granted. That they do not truly appreciate what it is I am trying desperately to impart to them. A way to look into the past on a very personal basis. A look into the past through my eyes guided by their questions. When I am gone, they will have no one to ask these of. It will be left up to history to answer these most important of questions and history doesn’t know me that well.

We all take things that are at our fingertips today for granted. We never realize just how fragile and irreplaceable time is until it’s run out and then it’s way too late.

I know how I felt when my mom died. I wanted so many questions answered and it was too late. I sworn that I wouldn’t let that happen with my dad and guess what, it happened again. I am now trying desperately to remember all that had happened in my youth and put it into some sort of story form so my children and their children have at least some of those questions answered but, I need their help and they, as much as they may try, just really don’t care that much. They are now like I was then. There’s always tomorrow.

“Well my darlings, their isn’t always a tomorrow. Sometimes all we have is today and all the tomorrows that life has to offer is not worth one yesterday of regret.”

I wish you all a very Happy and Safe New Year!

Tell someone you love just that and mean it. Hold someones hand and squeeze it a little tighter. When you hug someone, let it last a few seconds longer. Life is precious. Love is a gift. Share life and give love. It’s a reward in itself.

Have a great day!  See you next year.

Ed B.