Tag Archives: Politics

– 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.

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– 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.

– In The Beginning – There Was The Draft – #1

My youngest daughter, who is now on the backside of twenty-three, wants me to add a few stories about my time in the army. There are some I find humorous and that could be because they happened to me. You, on-the-other-hand, might find them boring. For my daughter’s sake, I’ll take that chance.

When my friend, Phil, and I decided to volunteer for the draft in 1966, the Vietnam war was just getting into high gear. The U. S. of A. was drafting, not only, into the U.S. Army but into the Marine Corp. as well. A fact that, at the time, we were unaware. We had no idea that we may, without our consent, be drafted into the marines.

Let me back up a couple of days to an incident that happened just prior to my induction date. I was out celebrating my soon to come stint in the army with another friend of mine from work. A mister Dale Dunbar. Quite a character in his own right and tough as nails to boot. He kept an old car sitting in the street outside of his parents house just to beat on. That’s right, to beat on. He would take out his frustrations on the car with his fists, his feet or whatever was handy at the time. This guy was, like I said, tough as nails but one of the nicest guys you would ever want to know. When he was happy, that is.

Anyway, when Dale found out I was going into the service, one of us suggested that we go out and have a farewell drink (or ten). Which we did in grand fashion. You see, Dale didn’t like the service. He wasn’t what you would call a team player and didn’t take orders well. Hell, he didn’t take suggestions well either.

Again, I digress. One day Dale and I were playing hooky from work and we got to talking about the service. Dale was emphatic about not wanting anything at all to do with military life and had heard from somewhere that if you got an Exhibition of Speed ticket, you would become exempt from the draft. This, even at my tender age of eighteen, I found a little bit of a stretch. The fact remained that Dale believed it and that was all that mattered.

As we were driving around in his 1958 Chevy Bel Air 2-door hardtop with a 348 V-8, three deuces and a three speed, we happened to pull up beside a Long Beach cop car with two of Long Beaches finest inside. Dale looked at me and said, “Watch this.”

As the light changed to green Dale revved that 348 to God only knows what and popped the clutch. My heart sank into my stomach and we were off. I looked back to where the cop car had been sitting and saw nothing but an ever-growing cloud of dense white smoke from the rear tires of Dales car. This was the true definition of Exhibition of Speed. It isn’t exactly speeding because you are not exactly exceeding the speed limit, yet. You are, however, exhibiting speed by burning rubber from a standing start.

Anyway, as we were pulling away from the light and depositing more smoke down the road, along with a fairly large patch of rubber as well, the cop car slowly emerged from the cloud of smoke with its red lights flashing and siren blaring. It was in hot pursuit, of us.

Dale turned onto a residential street because he didn’t want to make the chase too easy for the cops. He made a right turn then a left then another right and then pulled into some strangers garage who just happened to leave his door up and we waited for the cops to catch up so Dale could get his ticket and become exempt from the draft.

We could hear the cop car getting closer and I just knew we were going to jail. Dale got out and leaned against the trunk of his car. As the cops car rounded the corner, Dale started waving. They just ignored him and continued on by with lights and siren still blaring as they faded into the distance. Dale was not amused. To say he was pissed would have been an understatement of the highest magnitude. He started yelling and jumping up and down like a mad man right there in front of that strangers house and with his car still in the strangers garage.

When Dale was like that you were better off not laughing but, I couldn’t help it. I started to laugh. I think it was more of a nervous laugh if anything seeing how we weren’t arrested for evading. But, it was funny and finally Dale came around and laughed a little as well. He was still pissed though and I’m sure that car out front of his house got a real work-out that evening.

Anyhow, back to the night in question. Dale and I went out drinking and as teenagers, we all know that can never lead to any good. Tonight was to be no different. After consuming our fair share of alcohol, we decided to go to Oscars Drive-In on the traffic circle for a cup of coffee and something to eat. You know, so we could become wide awake drunks?

On the way, I happened across a little sports car with three sailors in it. As we were going around the traffic circle I, apparently ran them off the road or crowded them or something. Anyway it was my fault and I thought I should apologize. Dale didn’t think that was a good idea but, being me, I did it anyway.

There was a teen dance club right next to Oscars called the Cinnamon Cinder and I saw the sports car pull on to the street next to it so I followed. I pulled in behind the little car as the driver got out. There was another sailor in the passenger’s seat and one in the rumble seat or whatever you call that space back there.

I exited my vehicle from the driver’s side and went to meet the other guy halfway. Dale waited in the car.

Paul Newman said it best in -Cool Hand Luke- when he said, “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”

Apparently the driver of the sports car was not in an apologetic nor a communicative mood. As soon as I was within range, he let me have it. He knocked what was left of my consciousness into next week. The front seat passenger, not wanting to be left out, thought that he might as well get in on the fun so he grabbed something out of the back seat, proceeded out into the road and started smacking me on the back of the head with it.

Just for the record, this was all related to me a couple of days later by Dale. That night, everything was a bit fuzzy, if you know what I mean.

Back to my dilemma. Dale saw I was not going down. Just why, neither of us knew. It would have been better for me if I had gone down. It was like I was rooted in cement and couldn’t fall.

After Dale got done laughing, he decided to help. I guess the scene was pretty funny from his point of view. There was one guy in front punching me in the face knocking my head backwards and the other guy in back with a club or something knocking it back forward. Afterward, Dale said it looked like something out of a cartoon.

When the third guy decided to get out (his one and only mistake), Dale had FINALLY seen enough and came to my rescue. He grabbed the third guy mid stride, spun him around on to the hood of my car and hit him in the face. Just once and he went down like a rock. Then Dale took notice of the other two and made short work of them as well.

Dale helped me back to the car and, of course, I insisted on driving. I looked at Dale and the first thing I remember saying is, “Where did all that blood come from?” Dale said, “Don’t worry, it’s the other guys.” Then he said, “But all that blood on you, that’s yours.”

I looked down at my once clean light green sweater and matching green khaki pants and saw that they were in fact covered with blood and it was getting worse. I noticed that I was coughing up blood and there seemed to be something wrong with my front tooth.

Dale said, “We have to get you to a hospital.” “No way, I said, I’m hungry, Let’s go to Norms and get something to eat.” Dale looked at me like I had just lost what was left of my mind but then shrugged and said, “Okay, let’s go.”

It was after one in the morning, I was bleeding like a stuck pig and covered in my own blood, Dale was covered in someone elses blood and we were going to a very public restaurant in downtown Long Beach, California. What could go wrong there???

As we pulled into the parking lot at Norms, Dale noticed about three or four squad cars parked unmanned but ready for action. He said, “Maybe this ain’t such a good idea. Maybe we should go somewhere else.”

“No, I said, I want a Denver omelet and I want it here.” Again,Dale just shrugged and we went in.

To coin a phrase from the old Mad Magazine and Alfred E. Newman, to be exact. “What Me Worry?”

As we walked into the restaurant we headed straight to the rear where, low-and-behold, sat six or eight of Long Beaches finest at a very large circular booth. Not one of them looked up at us.

The wait staff, the cooks, dish washers, buss boys and the manager all gathered around us wondering what the hell had happened.

The manager or someone (not the cops) asked if there was an accident. “Are you two all right? Can we get you anything?” they all inquired.

The waitresses got wet towels and started cleaning me up some while Dale went into the bathroom to wash his arms and hands which were covered with someones blood.  We already knew where the blood on me came from.

The manager went to the table where the cops were sitting. They were already getting up and heading for the front of the restaurant to pay up and get out.

“Aren’t you going to do something for these guys? Take a report or something?” As far as I know they just paid up and left. They couldn’t get out of there fast enough. They didn’t want anything to do with us or any explanation of any sort. Out of sight, out of mind.

The manager, again, asked if we wanted or needed anything. I answered in the affirmative. I wanted a Denver omelet and a cup of coffee. The manager looked puzzled, then looked at the cook who smiled and said, “Coming right up.”

Dale and I finished our meals, which were on the house by-the-way, and then headed home. That was the last meal I had for some time that wasn’t a bit uncomfortable to eat. That front tooth thing was not just my imagination. It was all too real, as I was about to find out.

When we left the restaurant, I drove Dale home to his parents place in North Long Beach. I was living with my mom at the time and she lived in East Long Beach. So, being battered, bloodied and bruised and in no shape to be driving anywhere, I decided to drop in on Phil at his parents house which was less than a mile or so away.

When I got there I was met with gasps, ooh’s and aah’s and a million questions. Phil’s dad, who was FBI or something like that had the most questions. Phil’s mom and grandma wanted to feed me and Phil’s two sisters were just curious. Phil thought it was hilarious and all I wanted to do was sleep and forget the whole thing ever happened. Oh, and the other thing I didn’t want to do was tell my mom.

Well, the telling my mom part didn’t go well because Phil’s dad got to her first and told her I didn’t want to talk to her. This was only sort of true. I didn’t want to talk to her at that particular moment in time not ever like Phil’s dad made it sound. Mom and I finally did talk and resolved everything. She didn’t much care for Phil’s dad after that.

Now, back to our induction into the army thing. I really got off track that time, huh? We, Phil and I, were about to become G.I.’s. That’s Government Issue for you uninitiated types. It matters not which branch of the service you served in, Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force or the Coast Guard, when you are once sworn in you become G.I. – Government Issue.

I can’t remember just who dropped us off at the induction center in downtown L.A. or if we were transported there by a government vehicle. I guess it doesn’t matter. We arrived just the same.

All we had were the basic necessities. A change of underwear, socks and our toiletries in, what was called and AWOL bag. One small zippered bag with two plastic handles made of canvas. That would be all we would need until we reached out basic training unit. There we would be issued everything else we needed for the next two years.

Phil and I and the other inductees got our introduction to the military by standing in our very first of many lines just after entering the front door. There is a saying in the service, “Hurry up and wait.” Just about everything you do in the service is at the double time. In other words, you’re running. It’s double time here and wait in this line. Then its double time there and wait in that line. Then double time back to the first place to wait in yet another line. “Hurry up and wait. Hurry up and wait.” It’s the Army way of life.

After being poked and prodded through one line after another by everyone and his brother, we finally got to the dental part of the exam. The dentist took one look at my loose front tooth and the multiple cuts on the inside of my mouth, not to mention the ring of knots on the crown of my head and said, “We’ll have to declare you unfit at this time. We’ll have you come back when everything is healed.”

I looked at Phil, shrugged my shoulders and started to walk away when he reached out and grabbed hold of my shoulder. He looked at the dentist and said something to the effect, “Hey, we’re going in on the buddy plan. If I go, he goes.” Compelling argument, no? The doc must have thought so because he stamped my papers “Fit for Duty” and away we went. Phil smiled. I still found smiling a bit difficult.

When we got to the swearing-in part, they had us form two separate lines leading down a narrow hallway. There was a blue line on the left and a yellow line on the right. Phil was in the blue line and I was right beside him in the yellow line. We talked as the line moved forward and we noticed that there was a folding divider screen thing blocking the hall. The blue line was heading through a door on the left and the yellow through a door on the right.

As we got closer to the doors Phil said to jump over to his line. I didn’t see the point. We would both come out the other side after being sworn in so what’s the difference. After much conversation, I found someone who would let me crowd into the blue line. Phil was happy.

The closer we got to the doors the more we could hear grumbling coming from the other side of the divider. We couldn’t quite make out what was being said but we could tell that some of the guys on that side were not happy campers at all.

We went through the door four or six at a time, I think, raised our right hands and were proclaimed to be government property or, in the army, whatever.

The new recruits, of which I was now one, all slapped each other on the backs as we all exited back into the narrow hallway and resumed our positions on the blue line. It was then we found out what all the bitching and moaning was about. The guys in the yellow line, which is where I would have been if not for Phil’s insistence, were all drafted into the Marine Corp.

As Maxwell Smart would have said, “They missed me by.. that .. much!”

There was little time to relax after the induction center. We were loaded on board three or four chartered buses and headed north to the Beautiful Monterey Bay Peninsula. Which we would never see, by-the-way. There was a meningitis outbreak at Fort Ord and this restricted us to the training area only. There was to be no passes for us. And, we didn’t know it then but no liberty after basic training as well. There was a crunch on and they needed bodies quickly. Maybe that was a poor choice of words but, you get the picture.

It was a long but fairly leisurely bus ride but not many of us got any sleep. We were too busy thinking about the next eight weeks. What would it be like, the training and all? Would we make it or be washed out? Would we be tough enough? This was for real. We weren’t playing soldier and shouting bang-bang. This was going to be for all the marbles.

We arrived somewhere around 3 o-clock in the morning and then the fun began. We were introduced to our first D.I. (drill instructor) after exiting the buses to shouts and profanity like you can only imagine. They called us everything but human beings. Phil and I were R.O.T.C. (Reserve Officers Training Corp) from high school so this didn’t come as a complete shock to us. Others were not so fortunate and paid a heavy price. Push-ups at 3 a.m. on the wet tarmac in your civilian clothes is never fun but they learned. Some the hard way but, they learned. The D.I.’s mean what they say and you never, ever laugh at them.

We had formations, shots, tests, more formations, more shots, more tests, we had gear issued and carried it forever, we were assigned temporary quarters and shown how to make a bed the military way (we were not allowed to sleep in them however), more formations and, I think, more shots, another formation, there may have been some food somewhere in that mix but don’t quote me on it and then we were allowed a couple hours of sleep before we were assigned to our training units up on the rock.

I know, I know, that was one hell of a run-on sentence but that was the way it felt back then. One never-ending sequence of events that went on and on forever. And that, my friends, was just the beginning!

I’ll tell you more later. But, until then, thank a soldier for his service. That goes a long way, trust me.

Have a great day!

– Thinking? – Who’s Thinking? –

Sometimes I wonder, after reading or re-reading what I have just written, what, exactly, was I thinking when I wrote that??

I am, almost, never tempted to trash anything I have written because, at the time, it reflected how I felt about a certain subject whether it be a person, place or thing. You know, the Noun family.

I’m a believer in God but sometimes I sound like the quintessential atheist and I’m not at all. I like to ask questions and get answers, that’s all. I like to stir up a good conversation once in a while. Have a little debate on certain subjects and see what you and others think, you know? How else do we learn?

I’ve tried having these discussions in bars and I think we all know how those turned out. The rule of thumb is, “Never discuss religion, politics or sex from a bar stool.” Now, I can almost understand the first two, religion and politics but the third, sex. I mean, come on.

As for politics, everyone who knows me is pretty sure I’m a moderate republican and they would be correct. This does not mean that I agree with everything the republicans say and do. That would be a democrat. They agree with everything their party does and says because they are told to. “Think not for yourself when your party can think for you.” It’s statements like that that make the ban on politics in barrooms a little more understandable.

Yeah, I like stirring the pot, getting people a little worked up, so-to-speak. I find they are much more interesting to talk to when they’re a little fired up. As long as I know when to stop stirring. We don’t want things getting too out of hand, now do we?

Really, all I wanted to do was get you to read this so you might want to go back and read some of my other stuff so we can discuss those as well. I’m wordwon and I have a blog under “Opinions and People” and this one under “Life and Times”.

I once complained about not getting enough comments to my blogs and then I received one saying, and I quote, “People are supposed to comment?”, end quote.

My succinct answer, “YUP!”

Have a great day!