Category Archives: Veterans

HAPPY VIETNAM VETERANS DAY!

Have yourselves a merry little day all you Vietnam veterans!

And be sure to make time to stop by your Vietnam Veterans Prize Headquarters sometime today to pick up one or more of these great prizes before the US Congress privatizes the whole mess:

Vietnam vets prize headquarters

Everyone needs to replace those bifocals now and then and this is your chance to get a brand new clean pair and have a look at the world the way it is now!

 

Eyeglasses

Artillery ears getting you down?     Do you cup that hand behind the ear and tell that cashier, “Eh?   Say again?” Every time you go to the grocery store?

Your Vietnam Veterans Prize Headquarters has the answer for you…. they’ll take care of those attempts at lip reading in a jiffy!

Diabetes?   Yeah, those needles and insulin are getting expensive, too!

But not for you!    Just stop by the prize HQ and claim yours.

Knees?   Hips?   Ankles?   Feet?   While you’re there, pick up a cane.

The old ticker running down on you?  Have them check out your pacemaker!

Yes, all that and more.    When you finish and you’re ready to head for the parking lot, stop by the rehab office and pick up one of these beauties!

It doesn’t get any better than that!

Thank you for that war.   We couldn’t have done it without you.

Old Jules

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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

 

Good solid evil just isn’t that easy to come by

chaos
This was a follow-up to the post about the old guy wearing a Vietnam Veteran cap so’s to try to get people to listen to him talk about his Satanist religion. This was posted October 1, 2013.

Hi readers.

The old Satanist wearing the Vietnam Veteran cap I wrote about a couple of weeks ago was at the coin laundry again. He was telling me the difference between Satanists and devil worshipers, which he isn’t one of, he says.

“Even the devil worshipers,” he explained, “Just aren’t all that evil. They try, but it’s mostly just waving a bloody shirt at it.”

“Devil worshipers try but can’t pull it off?” Me, thinking this over.

“That’s right. You’d think there’d be plenty of evil for them to get into, but the really evil people don’t want anything to do with them. Not even the somewhat evil people, Catholics, Jews, Baptists and Muslims. They find out a person’s a devil worshiper they think poorly of him. Even when they’re jumping the hurdles for award-winning evil.”

Shaking my head. “I never knew that. You’d think especially Catholics and Zionists and Muslims would open their arms and their hearts to honest-to-goodness no-shit devil worshipers. Why is that, do you think?”

He shook his head, too. “I don’t know why it is. I’m not a devil worshiper and I’m not any of those others. I’m just a Satanist trying to get through life as best I can. But if I wanted to be really evil I’d have one hell of a time managing to do it. I wouldn’t know where to start.”

Old Jules

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

Amazing quilting

Hi readers.

During the coldest months of last winter a friend from one of my previous lifetimes heard about my situation here and sent me a fantastic, warm, welcome gift. Judy Van Hooser was so long ago I’d have thought she had forgotten I exist.

judy quilt1
Beautiful work and it all appears to be hand-stitched.

judy quilt3
Every year Judy makes one of these and gives it to a veteran somewhere.

judy quilt2
Last year she contacted my ex-wife, Caroline, and said she’d like to give this one to me.

judy quilt flipside

I was both dumbfounded and ecstatic. It’s almost too fine to use as a quilt. But these winter nights don’t leave a lot of room for the luxury of using a warm quilt for a showpiece. This one does what quilts and blankets were always supposed to do.

Thank you Judy. You’ve earned a place in my gratitude affirmations. And every time I use that quilt I remember.

Old Jules

Driving back senility with chess

 

Jerry’s been living on this campus on and off since the Vietnam War. We decided to start playing chess regularly in hopes to slow the approach of senility.

Hi readers

I’m guessing every older person begins to see the memory functions deteriorate with advancing years.    And probably most of us have wondered whether there’s anything we can do to keep it from becoming a conspicuous piece of our lives.   Conspicuous enough, I should say, so’s the medicos or people around us begin putting a name to it.

My buddy Jerry and I ….. along with a few other and more intermittent old guys living around here, are making a valiant effort at fighting  senility by regularly challenging our minds with chess games.

We meet whenever it’s agreeable in one of the waiting rooms at the main hospital.   It has the advantage [for me] of being a place where smoking is forbidden.   And if Jerry or one of the others wants to go outdoors to smoke it’s not that far.

But maybe it’s my imagination.   I think regular games of chess really are improving my ability to remember, reducing the frequency of those events where I walk into the other room for something and can’t recall what it was I was there for.

And Jerry believes it is helping him, too.    Wasn’t all that long ago he was mentioning almost every time I saw him he thought he was getting senile.   It’s been a considerable while since he said that.

On the other hand, I also load myself up with Ginko Biloba at every opportunity, too.

I’m not above trying anything that isn’t obviously a health threat of its own.

Old Jules

Great big old ducks

Original Hospital and Lake1
Hi readers. Thanks for coming by for a read.

Back in the late 1800s when they dug that lake to excavate clay to make bricks for that original VA hospital they had to do something about the hole it left behind. So they filled it with water. Made a nice little recreation facility for the biggest piece of a century.

But what nobody could anticipate was that a time would come when nobody would give a damn about maintaining the lake. That it would become a sedimentation pond for the droppings of hundreds of waterfowl migrating in every winter, and some who just stay year around.

And over time the lake would mostly fill with those droppings until it was so shallow a person would have to work to drown in it.

That lake mostly can’t handle the biological oxygen demand because of all the manure. And nobody is about to spend the money to blow that water into the air to keep it alive. There’s a little bubbler at one end that sometimes works, but otherwise the pond turns over, stinks, kills a lot of fish, and is a sad reminder of how much maintenance man-made creations demand over the course of time.

great big old ducks

Nobody in my life has ever appreciated my sense of humor, and the same applies here. But at least I figure it helps make these drunks, derelicts, and opinionated old men feel better about themselves by being able to think me stupid. So anytime I get the chance to work it into a conversation I say something about those ‘great big old ducks’ running around crapping on everything.

And crap they do….. the grounds are speckled with them…. looks like someone ran one of those plugging things across the lawns. Yeah, and the streets, [and they do let fly as they pass over cars…. nothing like a splash of great big old duck droppings on your windshield].

But I digress.

A man staggering by knee-walking drunk will pause, gaze at me a moment, and shake his head almost every time if I remark to him, “Reckon where all those great big old ducks come from, anyway?”

Makes him feel better about himself. I’m convince of it. Yeah, I know they’re geese. But what the hell?

We all have our own small parts to play helping veterans, I figure.

Old Jules