Category Archives: Military

Which US war had most bald-faced liars?

Empire of Japan finalizes surrender aboard the USS Missouri September 3, 1945. By Army Signal Corps – Naval Historical Center Photo # USA C-2719. Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2684817

WWI had an Armistice Day… it celebrated the end of that particular horror.     WWII had VE [Victory in Europe] Day, and VJ [Victory over Japan] Days.   Celebrations to the end of two more horrors.   Then there was Korean Armistice Day, which nobody ever heard of, much less celebrated.   And, of course, there’s Veterans Day, just acknowledging all us veterans no matter when we were in the military.

The trouble with having undeclared wars and losing them is that nobody knows why they’re there in the first place, what it takes to win it, or how to know when it ends.    Maybe for Vietnam we should celebrate the day the last helicopter with people hanging off it lifted from the US Embassy in Saigon.

The last helicopter leaving the roof of the US Embassy in Saigon April 29, 1975. By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31234270

But now there’s this:

Honoring Vietnam Veterans Day, March 29, 2018

US landing craft 1945, Iwo Jima

Ever noticed [assuming you’re old enough] you never heard a WWI vet bragging about whatever it was he did during his time in the service?    Most I ever encountered never spoke of it at all.

And WWII veterans are pleased to tell you they spent the war burying bodies in the Solomon Islands, or in a Japanese POW camp, surrendered without firing a shot, or as a postal clerk in North Africa.   It’s always been surprising to me just how few guys actually were on the front lines ducking bullets [or saying they were during the decades afterward].

Same with Korean War veterans.     Nobody ever wants to tell you he was on a ridge with a bunch of other cold, hungry, scared GIs gunning down swaths of Chinese with a quad .50 machine gun.    In fact, Korean War vets hardly say anything at all.

That’s the reason I’ve wondered many times why the same is not and has never been true of Vietnam vets.     I’ve seen file clerks, supply clerks, mechanics,  and one particular logistics officer all claim to have been heroes, laying ambushes in the jungle.    More recently I even ran across a guy who was in Korea at the same time I was when there were few incursions and firefights on the DMZ a decade after the ceasefire.     Even knowing I was THERE the silly bastard began laying BS about how he and his unit were setting up ambushes on the DMZ… he was in the 8th Cavalry, which was on the DMZ…..   But nothing else he said held any water.    Maybe he was jealous of all those finance clerks in DaNang who’ve now become jungle fighters by hindsight.

vietnam era veteran

They’ve even got these ‘Vietnam Era’ caps so we can all get into the act. Yeah, I’m one of them Vietnam era vets….. spent my tour in Asia crawling through the jungle trying to get a dose of clap for my country. If I ware one of these I’d be what they used to call, “All hat and no cows”, same as all those REMFs on patrol.

But I’ve digressed.   My real question is this:   What was it about the Vietnam War that brought out the lies and the brags?    Why were WWII file clerks never tempted to pretend they were heroes, but the Vietnam War file clerks bought themselves ball caps proclaiming themselves brothers to the finance clerks, the supply clerks, and all the other rear echelon folks who discovered later they’d been combat vets.  Hell hundreds happily tell one another they’ve been troubled with PTSD.     Not more than two hours ago I was talking to one who was in personnel administration who is actually drawing a service-connected disability for PTSD.    A personnel admin clerk.

Vietnam never had an Iwo Jima.    No Guadalcanal or Midway.   No Bataan Death March.     When US troops landed on Guadalcanal August, 1942, they’d never seen any movies about jungle warfare.    Surprise!    They had no idea what they were in for.

Maybe that’s the distinguishing factor.    Maybe it was all those WWII movies, John Wayne pulling the pins out of grenades with his teeth.   Frank Sinatra drooling over Gina Lollobrigida between firefights in Burma.   Robert Mitchum outsmarting the Japanese while protecting a nun [Deborah Kerr].    Maybe that was the missing factor, the systemic flaw in the Vietnam War that caused all those non-combatants to spend all the remaining decades of their lives trying to correct it.

After all, shooting water buffalo out the door of a helicopter with a machine gun is a story that can be embellished with a lot more vigor than stories about typing a company morning report at the motor pool.

Don’t get me wrong.  Not all Vietnam veterans are lying.    If a guy tells you he was a Navy engineer, and upon questioning tells you he ‘poured concrete for the Navy’, he’s telling you the truth.    If he tells you he repaired field telephones, he’s telling you the truth.

And there’s always that one-out-of-ten, or one-out-of-twenty, who actually did serve in the jungle and participated in all that stuff you’ve seen in the same movies the file clerks with the Vietnam veteran caps got their stories from.

So how can you tell if a Vietnam veteran is lying to you?   Well one of the ways is to listen to his claim.     If he says he was a medic in a VD clinic he’s probably telling you the truth.

But if the US is going to carry on endless presidential wars without having to re-institute the draft they’re going to have to keep glorifying their warriors.  And  a person who spent a tour in Asia greasing and changing the oil on jeeps in Saigon loves being called a warrior.   Loves the feel when he pulls a straight face and announces, “Yeah, I fought in Vietnam.”

Old Jules

 

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Clean Laundry and Civil Discourse Satanist Style

If you can’t allow adventure to find you in a coin laundry you aren’t living right

 

Most of you probably won’t remember this post from August 10, 2013, back in Kerrville, Texas.    I’ve come to know a lot of veterans since then, but none with quite the flare of the satanist who wore a Vietnam Veteran cap to get people to listen to him talk about his religion.

I noticed a scrawny old guy wearing a Vietnam War Veteran cap watching me as I fed quarters into the machine.   So when I finished I took a chair as far from him as I could get but still see my machine.  Guy’s wearing Vietnam War Veteran caps aren’t part of my repertoire of wanna-get-acquainted.

I watched him out of the corner of my eye while I pretended to do the ‘bored-people scan’, opened my book, read a page, put it down.  Twigged to the fact nobody in the place would meet his eye, and he was trying to get eye contact.  I figured, “Oh jeeze, this guy’s been here enough so everyone wants to avoid the nuisance he makes of himself.”

But he was focusing more attention on me, working up to saying something, or coming over nearer where I was sitting.  I groaned and stood up, stretching, to go out to the RV, head off anything he was thinking.  Too late.

I turned to the door and he caught my eye.  “Hey!  You’re a lefty!”

Um.  Yeah.”  Hell.  How’d he happen to notice that?  Whoopteedoo conversation starter.  He got up and headed to the door with me.

It’s been a chore, hasn’t it?”  Two of us standing in the shade of the overhang.  Me fidgeting to break loose and sprint for the RV.

What has?”

Going through life left-handed.”

Not when I could find a woman willing to sleep on the right side.”  Figured I might as well clarify my sexual preferences in case that was what was coming down the pike.

A few minutes later it came out he was a supply clerk in DaNang during the Vietnam fracas.  Tough gig.  Whoopteedoo.  “So what the hell’s the hat all about?”

“It’s because of my religion.  People around here don’t like me because of it, so I try to put my best foot forward.  Vietnam Vet buys me an edge.”

I shook my head, remembered getting cornered by the guy preaching Urantia outside the library in Grants, New Mexico.  Wanted to be my new best friend.  Real pain in the ass I never broke free of as long as I lived in Grants, always encountering him.

I could either brush the guy off even though he was hungry for talk, or I could grit my teeth, be polite, and hear what he wanted to tell me.  Turned out he’s a Satanist.

Whaaa?  A Satan worshiper?”

No.  We don’t worship Satan.  That’s just something Christian preachers claim we do.”

At least I don’t have a dog in THAT fight.  “Well, hell.  Better than being an atheist, I reckons.”  I really didn’t want to hear this crap.  “Nice talking to you, but I need to take a nap.”

I left him standing in the shade, careful not to look back.

Old Jules

Big old mean North Korea

north korean tanks

Sometimes we just need to back away and think for ourselves a moment, filter out the hue and cry. South Korea has the 11th strongest economy in the world. It has an arms industry of its own, exporting weaponry to lots of other countries. And the Republic of Korea [ROK], South Korea, has the 11th strongest military in the world. Far, far ahead of North Korea.

So what the hell is the US doing with its 25,000 troops in South Korea? ROK is perfectly able to defend itself, economically, militarily, diplomatically, every way. If they don’t feel strong enough to do it, they could form a mutual defense treaty with Japan, with whom they share the North Korean threat.

Ohh. Yeah. North Korea has nukes. Whoopteedoo.

Does anyone really suppose South Korea, Japan, hasn’t the capability of blowing those North Korean missiles and aircraft being launched a few hundred miles from them, doesn’t have, I was going to say the capability of knocking them out of the sky before they emerge outside North Korean boundaries?

Once we drop away from the WWIII rhetoric, the cries of nuclear winter and running around in increasingly smaller circles shouting increasingly shrill pronouncements, isn’t the greatest likelihood that, should North Korea attack anyone, it would be South Korea, or possibly Japan?

Because North Korea isn’t so crazy as to have attacked anyone at all in force since 1954. That’s right. There’s not a combat veteran, not one, in the North Korean military.

And where the hell do they get all that war material? Every round for those tanks is expensive, every rocket, every missile, every helicopter, every airplane, every bomb. North Korea is a poor country. Who the hell does anyone suppose is going to lend them money for leading edge weaponry, or send them 21st Century tanks, helicopters, airplanes?

I recall back before Nixon went to China there used to be frequent papers and articles with titles such as, Is China a Sleeping Giant, or a Paper Tiger?’. They were mainly concerned in those days about the Chinese military.

There’s probably a reason that today nobody asks the same question about North Korea. They’re too handy for waving around as s boogerman hiding in the dark closet or under the bed when Iran or some other scary place wears itself out as a war mongering distraction.

But sometimes we just need to stop and think.

Old Jules

Remembering the Fallen from All Eras who died for our property rights.

 

Kansas City VA Medical Center, Kansas City, MO.

Hi readers.    Thanks for coming by for a smile.

I was sitting in the Silver clinic waiting area at the KCVA Medical Center today and got some really good news!   Keep in mind that I was just a few dozen yards from the Hall of Heroes and fairly close to Valor Elevator.   So this guy doing all the talking really seemed appropriate.

He was a severely overweight old fellow with a lot of bends in the wrong places, hair coming out in patches.   Had the man next to me pinned to his chair as he went on bludgeoning the people of this country for not supporting the president more, for all the ‘snowflakes’ and cowards nowadays, and for the fact nobody is honoring our soldiers dying in these presidential wars.

Guy next to me, “I voted for Trump.   I don’t regret it yet.”

“They complain about him going to Florida!    Heck, Florida, at least, has a park where they honor the dead from all wars!”    He named the park, and I went back to trying to read my book.

But then I got to thinking.    All wars?   Wow!

Anyway, I looked it up.   He was right!

Field Of Honor Recognizes The Fallen From All Eras , Hillsborough Veterans Memorial Park.

By golly I think it’s about time someone honored all those fallen soldiers at Little Big Horn who got themselves killed trying to attack a lot more Sioux and Cheyenne than they thought were there.    And all those twenty-five soldiers killed when they massacred all those people at Wounded Knee.

Heck, when you  think about it, all those Indian wars have all sorts of fallen GIs who got themselves offed trying to kill Indians…… Apache, Navajo, Sioux, Cheyenne, Yuma, Ute, Comanche, Kiowa, Seminole.  I’ve never heard one solitary soul stand up in front of a podium and pronounce how those men died for our freedoms.   But without them we wouldn’t have farms and ranches scattered all over the Dakotas, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.   And condos and resorts all over Florida.  Those men died for our property rights.

And what about all the heroes who fell in the Mexican War when we were taking California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Nevada away from the Mexicans?   Nobody ever stands over their graves, stares at the flag, gulps, and talks about how they fought for our Constitution, our freedom of speech, our property rights.

Then there was the Spanish American War, where we took Puerto Rico, Cuba, and all her other possessions away from Spain …… and the heroes who died in that war for our property rights.

There’s just no getting around it.    We’re falling down on the job honoring our fallen from all eras.   Good thing someone is at least remembering the guys who died for our freedoms in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq one and two, and various other places in the Balkans, the Middle East, Korea, and Africa.

In fact, probably having someone stand in front of a podium and explain how all those guys were protecting our freedom would be a good place to begin.   I’m inclined to think General Custer came about as close to protecting our freedom as anyone who died in a war after 1950.

Yeah, all those fallen heroes  killed by Geronimo and Cochise won’t rest until someone honors them by explaining how they died for our freedom.

Old Jules

A most motley crew – or a band of real-world ‘brothers’

The dugout 1

Comment: “Sounds like you live with a most motley crew.”

Old Jules | January 20, 2018 at 8:27 AM
I wouldn’t say that….. there are some lowlifes, as there are in every community in the world. And there are some good folks. We’re just a community of a few hundred men and women who span the extremes of human failures and flaws, and probably have as many virtues as you are likely to find in your own community. The main difference is that the people living here are on the absolute bottom of the socio-economic scale, and we are almost universally veterans. And the road to the bottom of the socio-economic scale naturally includes the spectrum of human behaviors that can carry a person there. Vehicles. Higher on the economic ladder people tend to hide their flaws and human failures better because they haven’t started the downward spiral yet. But here, alcoholics and druggies and thieves can all find their brothers in failure.

You have been following this blog a long time. You can easily go back on the pages, or your memory of my road getting here and see it was fairly innocent, probably also inevitable. I was a man who wasn’t doing what everyone else does to avoid getting where I am now. And when the heart attacks hit, I was either going to die on the street, or move closer to where I am now by accepting Jeanne’s offer to die on her couch.

And when I didn’t die I became officially, a ‘homeless vet’. Here I am surrounded by other ‘homeless veterans’. They’ve all got their own stories. And I’m going to tell some of them. But don’t get the idea they are all as you probably categorize people because they aren’t.

The guy across the hall from me has two bronze stars from Vietnam, 75 percent service connected disability, and spent 13 years in prison for drugs before he got out on appeal. And he’s a good man, a worthy person, and someone I’m glad I have for a neighbor. Guy upstairs has been to prison too, white collar crime, and is struggling to stay alive and pay the rent. Good neighbor, too. Life isn’t as simple as we tend to wish it were.

We’re just you, here, and everyone you know in your secret selves, or some other time of your lives.

1stcav2

Because our flaws, weaknesses and lousy choices are the only things we humans share voluntarily.    They’re the magnets, the star around which every ‘brotherhood’ of humans circle.

Old Jules

The Bivouac of the Dead – [Thank you for your service wasn’t enough]

 

cemetery poem sign 6

cemetery poem sign 3

cemetery poem sign 1

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

I’ve visited a lot of National Cemeteries over the years, along with a lot of private and State cemeteries where the remains of military personnel and veterans who served over the past centuries are planted.   I used to attend Memorial and sometimes Veterans Day ceremonies at the National Cemetery at Santa Fe when I lived in New Mexico.

One thing I’ve always appreciated about National Cemeteries, even Arlington, was the tasteful, somewhat understated and even egalitarian approach by the caretakers to those burial sites.

But that was before the presidential wars of the 21st Century and the need to glorify the whole idea of those who served in the military.   Suddenly, post-9-11 a surprisingly large piece of the population was singing the song of the spanking new fad, “Thank you for your service!”    Pretending all those who served were heroes, had dodged bullets of some enemy who wished only to rob us of our freedoms.   We veterans ‘fought’ for the freedoms, rights, something else ambiguous, courageous, praiseworthy.   Although it’s between wars and the fad is declining somewhat, it’s still out there to a limited degree, waiting for the need that will come from the next presidential war to spark public outrage against some group politicians declare are enemies and need killing.

But I’ve digressed.    What I was going to write about are the signs that have appeared during the past couple of decades in the National Cemeteries.    It wasn’t enough to have the public beating the drums and parroting thankyouverymuch to veterans.   Some bright light in the National Cemetery management system decided to make us all Chargers of the Light Brigade by hindsight.

Evidently they couldn’t find any 20th Century poets who expressed mawkish enough sentiments to satisfy their needs.    So they rode their lofty mounts back to the times between the Mexican War and the Civil War to Theodore O’Hara and his poem, The Bivouac of the Dead.    And they sure as hell found a level of absurdity and theater there to bring the 90% of the dead vets who never saw a day of combat right up there with fixed bayonets and bloody comrades.

So, even though VA hospitals across the country appear to have a lot of difficulty providing services to veterans legally eligible to receive health care services and the historical buildings are falling apart, the residue of synthetic heroism still resides across the hill in the graveyard,  The National Cemetery managed to afford somewhere between 10,000 and 38,000 Christmas wreaths made of real pine to place on those stones.

National Cemetery background

National Cemetery Christmas

But at least they didn’t allow the affluent mothers of young men killed in the last couple of presidential wars to put their helmet-bayonet-fixed-rifle-and combat-boot memorials in the National Cemetery.    Nope, they made them put those up by the front gate to the Medical Center.

Levenworth med entrance6

There are seven of those up there to ponder, along with a couple of empty block of granite in place for more if the moms and pops lose one and want to remember their son in such a way.

We Americans are such patriots, we are.

Thanks for the visit..

Old Jules

 

 

 

If they wanted good health care they should have dodged the draft and gone to Canada

When I wrote this I was probably still carrying some bitterness about what happened to me when I tried to get diagnosed through the VA in Odessa/Big Spring and instead became one of the types of experiences that got a lot of terrible publicity for the Veterans Administration.

But the horror stories are still widespread, though no longer so pervasive. Living here and being over at the hospitals so frequently, I still listen to more of it than is right and proper for those legally mandated to provide health care for veterans.

So by golly, I’m reblogging this one.   To read the entire text….. 351 words that didn’t get on the reblog, you can click at the bottom where it says, “View original text 351 words.

 

So Far From Heaven

All over the US VA Hospitals/Medical Centers are under investigation for incompetence, waste, negligence, malfeasance and misfeasance, brutality and being a cruel farce.  Turns out the San Antonio VA Medical Center is under investigation for precisely the same [failure to treat patients in a timely manner] reasons I entered a private hospital in Kerrville, Texas in January after several weeks of non-treatment and non-diagnosis at the VA Odessa and Big Spring VA Medical facilities during November and December, 2013 All over the US VA Hospitals/Medical Centers are under investigation for incompetence, waste, negligence, malfeasance and misfeasance, brutality and being a cruel farce. Turns out the San Antonio VA Medical Center is under investigation for precisely the same [failure to treat patients in a timely manner] reasons I entered a private hospital in Kerrville, Texas in January after several weeks of non-treatment and non-diagnosis at the VA Odessa and Big Spring VA Medical facilities during November and December, 2013 Current VA Hospital investigation news videos:

https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video;_ylt=A0LEVw85nG5TSFYAZTdXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTB0a3VnZmkwBHNlYwNzYwRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkA1NNRTQ4NV8x?p=VA+hospital+investigation

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

I’ve said before I don’t believe the US government owes veterans good health care for the remainder of our lives as an ethical matter.  Merely a legal one.

We don’t particularly deserve it any more than Native Americans deserve cradle to grave health, dental and eye care because they happen to be descendants of aboriginals.  Merely…

View original post 351 more words