Tag Archives: Viet Nam

Musing

Just as I thought, this year is starting out with a bang. As it is said, ‘no rest for the weary’, it is a true saying. I have a lot of things on my plate, don’t have room for anything else at the moment. It is also said that staying busy and/or active keep old bones like mine spry. Nothing is ever said about being tired (smile 🙂 ).

I’m staying busy. I have a Tuskegee Airman program at the Virginia War Memorial coming up, red sport coat and all (see photo). Here at Imperial Plaza the Resident Council and the Activity Committee have a lot to do, like I’m not busy enough. That does not include things with my wife, trips, a few specialty doctor appointments (nothing serious), activities here at Imperial Plaza and I can’t forget my part-time job (always something to do there). I have been at the part-time job a lot lately because so many people are out sick (two were admitted into the hospital). I guess all the activity keep me from all the sickness that is going around. Don’t have time to stop now, gotta keep moving (smiling again).

Don’t rave about the intermittent warm weather we are having since the extreme cold we experienced a little while ago. Remember, January and February can become madding in Virginia where, at times, you’d think you are in the arctic. Yet, I have noticed many people at Imperial Plaza outside with coats open (being stylish), wearing short pants and, at the malls wearing flip-flops. Cold is cold and the older a person get the more the coldness have a bad effect on the body. This may have been okay in a person’s youth but a senior’s body may or may not feel uncomfortable. All of a sudden, this adverse effect from the cold will take a toll on the body. Flu, pneumonia or bad colds can mean catastrophic illnesses that a senior may or may not be able to fight off. It is better to be cautious than to suffer the consequences.

Had a birthday a few days ago. Thanks to all that sent me a birthday wish, THANKS! I worked on my birthday, as usual. Someone asked me why, I told them I can count the number of no work birthdays on one hand. As a senior, I hate to think of birthdays because the older you get the fewer you have left, if any. Not many remember my birthday anyway so I don’t fret, it’s just another day but I better not miss their birthday..

I have been monitoring Facebook, especially the Hahn Hawk page. There have been a lot of activity lately, the comments and pictures have made me realize I’m not young anymore. Most of the guys on the site were just kids when we were there, I was middle aged, now they are having grand-kids, etc. and I have great grand-kids. I served in Viet-Nam but people here served in WWII and The Korean War, they look at me as a youngster. I say that to say this, stay young as you want to be by moving around and keep your eye on the weather, protecting yourself accordingly.

Black History Month is here. Keep in mind what the sacrifices were for. Pray for us that were on the front lines and continue the fight for us. Not only for Black people but for all people. There are factions that are against this and there are many that want to do harm, however, fight on and maybe, one day, the clouds of hate will part and the sun will shine.

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Black History Programs

With February being Black History Month I was a little busy. Actually, the way I feel about it, there should be some way Black History is incorporated into each and every month. There is too much history, up front and much, much more hidden (think about the movie Hidden Figures), that is relevant and should be remembered. I have thought about the direction I wanted to go while writing this particular blog but there are many directions and my mind was mixing them all. I think I have a grasp of it for now.

I did not want to write anything that I have read or heard about. I want to give you personal experiences, experiences that are in line with what I am writing. My mind seem to drift off the main subject and I could write much more than I post. I’ll try to make it short and to the point although it is difficult when writing history or about historical figures. For instance, when I wrote about The Last Graduating Tuskegee Airman, I only wrote about the time before he went into the military up to his graduating as a Tuskegee Airman. If I had written his entire story (I have him telling it to me on an over an hour long digital audio recording).

I was a part of one program where I was portrayed as Sen. Obama and then as President Obama. I read his speech when he was running for president and his farewell speech (I used my radio voice from my radio days). That was a nice program and I was told I did well. The audience was very small and I only counted three Black people in the place. Imperial Plaza have enough Black residents to fill the auditorium yet they come to very few programs and this was about them and for them. Yet, they complain there aren’t any programs for them, etc.

The second program was at the Virginia War Memorial. I was on the stage panel for a discussion plus a question and answer period. There were six of us and among us were Tuskegee Airmen, a woman (Army Retired) whose story would make you think of one of the women in the movie Hidden Figures), Viet Nam and the Iraq era. I can’t tell you who was more interesting, the Tuskegee Airmen or her. My input into the program did not hold a candle to theirs and I could have been listening all day to their stories.

The crowd was small and , here again, there should have been many more. After the panel stories, question and answer period, we went outside for a wreath laying. Franklin Military Academy presented The Colors and I assisted in the wreath laying ceremony. We pledged allegiance to The Flag, a female Franklin Academy Cadet sang the National Anthem and a cadet blew “Taps” on his trumpet. The weather co-operated. PBS was there and it aired the next morning and the papers were there but I did not see the article. All of it was beautiful. I could do this all year, not only during February.

The thing I am sad about is for the young people. Most are not interested in history, especially Black history. They know about some of the famous Black people but they do not know about the small things that were accomplished. Most do not want to know who did what or why. They seldom understand what the conditions and hold backs were. I have even found they have a lot of misconceptions about ancient history, like the Pyramids or the oldest operating library in the world. Things like this are important to me, personally, and it helped shape my mind and all my actions through life. The few that soak up history seem to be better because of it.

All of us on that stage at the Virginia War Memorial was a tiny sample of the history that is sort by historians. It was sad only three of four kids were there to hear about the tiny portion of history from the people that produced it. Yes, I am a part of it although I rarely talk about it. It started with Civil Rights and ended at my retirement from the military.

To those before me and/or accomplished more than I have, thank you. To those that are learning about past history, keep digging. There is a treasure trove to find. And, as I have said before, you will never know who you may be talking to because most will not say unless asked. That person may have a background that would shock you. Keep digging…

A Week of Delectation

I am still on cloud nine from all that I have seen, done and went through this week. In a nut shell, I interviewed the last graduating airman from the famed Tuskegee Airmen of Tuskegee, Ala. Myself and Len Rasmusen, with Len driving, went to northern Virginia to meet with (Ret.) Col. Carl Johnson. He was the last to graduate because before his class graduated he had a bout of appendicitis and was hospitalized. When he got out of the hospital, his class had graduated and he was all alone. He was thinking he would be sent home but, instead, he was allowed to finish his training and graduate as the Last Tuskegee Airman.

At 91, he is clear voiced, full of spirit and was eager to talk about his storied career as an Army Officer although he did time in the USAF and the Army National Guard. Through him, I found out about Tuskegee Airmen flying bombers, although it was after WWII. He also flew in Korea and Viet Nam and was posted at the Pentagon, among many other places. Len and I viewed a number of scrapbooks and saw pictures of many people of note, such as Gen. Chappie James as a lieutenant. We were told that he was good friends with Chappie James, because he was his co-pilot, and they remained friends for years.

I have it all recorded so I can refer to it as I write a longer, more precise, work for The MPP (The Mighty Pen Project), the Virginia War Memorial and self-gratification. I love history. Everything about history. I love to dig deeper as I ask the question, why? I don’t mind the research nor do I mind the inevitable self induced trance I fall into.

In the middle of the week Imperial Plaza took us to the new Afro-American Museum, officially entitled, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. After lunch in Washington, D.C., we traveled the very short distance to the museum, which was very crowded. A word of caution for anyone that is planning to go there. Go on-line and get tickets first but plan to wait a few months before the tickets will allow entrance. Getting tickets now will allow you entry in April or May although there is a line for people that arrive without a reservation but there is not a guarantee that you will get in that way, even if you wait all day.

There is no way you can view the entire museum in one day so I concentrated on the lower three floors (basement) of the eight floors. I quickly went through most of the displays, not spending too much time on any one thing. I had three hours and almost didn’t make it although three hours seem like a long time but when you are engrossed in the displays, time flies and there is so much.

The thing that bothered me most were not the displays but the kids. Most of the kids were either running through the place, playing with each other or mindlessly texting. The great majority were not interested and, I will make a bet, could not tell you about anything there. What a shame. What a waste.

In that section was a short display on the Tuskegee Airmen and, I noticed, one of the pictures on display was one that I took a photo of from Col. Johnson’s scrapbook. There, on display, is one of the planes that the Tuskegee Airmen flew (The Spirit Of Tuskegee) and a few other pictures. I wish the display had more but you take whatever there is to take. The photos of some of the grotesque hangings done to my people where very haunting to say the least. The display of an actual slave house really show how small they were for the number of people that lived in them, or should I say survived in them. That’s all there was then, survival any way you could.

That was my week and I am overjoyed to have lived it. Col. Johnson and the museum made my entire week and I’m happy for it. Imperial Plaza’s Activity Department get thumbs up for the work in getting tickets, getting us there and getting us back safely. Praises to Kayle, Ron and Jerome.

See you next blog. Don’t forget to check out my other blog, although it will automatically pop up on other sites (twitter, google, etc). The weekend is coming and my wife and I are off again. Our schedule is full and we have a lot of fun and adventures to catch up on. Bye-bye and remember…Be kind to your neighbors and ensure your words are soft and sweet.

Mighty Pen Project

It was a great night, 1/6/16, at the Virginia War Memorial where we had the reading and reception of the Mighty Pen Project. Quite a few people were there, the food was good and the readings went very well. There was six of us, that was in the second class of the Mighty Pen Project, and I was first to read one of the pieces I wrote for the class. All of the written material was well written, very moving and covered a wide area of military life from Viet Nam to the present time.

Mr. James Triesler, Education Director of the Virginia War Memorial gave the welcome. Dr. David Coogan, Associate Professor of English, Virginia Commonwealth University and our instructor for the second class of the Mighty Pen Project, gave the remarks. Mr. David L. Robins, program founder/author/teacher at VCU, gave the introduction of readers.

The Mighty Pen Project is in need of students, like myself or better, that is military connected, past or present, and want to write. People that want to write about their military experiences, feelings, just to get things out of their system or just to leave something for their loved one, to name a few things, need this class. It’s too late to registrar for the class starting on 1/20/16 but contact can be made for the class starting in April. Each class is every Wednesday night for ten weeks and involve reading, writing and supreme insight into the material from the instructor.

Go to the Virginia War Memorial web site, www.vawarmemorial.org, for information on the Mighty Pen Project ( MPP) and the Virginia War Memorial. The Mighty Pen Project also have a Facebook page and a lot of information can be gained there. A web page and blog is in the works. Since I have joined the board, I have been appointed to help with initiating the web site and helping with future entertainment. I hope my work goes well. If anyone need information or know someone that would qualify, they can either contact me or go to one of the sites.

I know that this is not like my normal blogs but I feel that I can at least help get the word out with one or more shots from my blog. Don’t hesitate to do this and I will surly get back to you as soon as I can. There are a lot of retirees out here that would like to try this and the person does not have to be good or retired. That will come with time and it’s not to write a book (it’ll give you a start, if you want), just snippets. Well, I’ll see ya the next time. Contact me.

Memories

Memories are everything. It drives us as well as, sometimes, makes us cry. Some memories are happy and some are sad but any memory is what can make us stronger. Fourteen years ago, do you remember where you were, what you were doing and who you were with? Do you remember the twin towers in New York City? That is what I am getting to and I still remember it well.

It make me feel very old knowing I remember it so clearly and remember how I felt, etc. Memories can have a nostalgic effect so powerful that it can consume your entire being and overwhelm you to a point that you will cry, laugh or just see the whole episode appear before you like a picture show. The sound, emotion and every other thing that goes with it will sometimes seem so real. You can hear a song that will take you back to a time that has long ago passed. Memories certainly have a strong effect.

I remember I was in the radio studio reading my last commercial of the morning, preparing to leave for the day. I remember how a young intern ran into the room and handed me a note. I remember reading the note, while I did the commercial (back then I could do more than one thing at a time). I remember putting the note down and continuing the commercial. The intern picked up the note and gave it to me again. I closed the mike and said I didn’t have time for jokes. She said it wasn’t a joke and I froze. I only had ten minutes left at the station but it turned out to be another five hours that I was on the air. The Twin Towers had fallen.

Memories are everything. Relatives, friends, incidents (pleasure and/or disaster) and just plain craziness. At Imperial Plaza more memories, than I care to imagine, are floating around in the heads of the many people here. Stories about WWII, Korean War, Viet Nam War and just plain life from many, many years ago. When these people, myself included, are gone, so are those memories and the history that was never written. These are people that are in their nineties and early hundreds. I was speaking with a gentleman that was ninety one and he was telling me about the WWII B-29’s. First hand experience. Real life history and not the canned stuff that is shown on the History Channel. Only the stuff that makes good documentaries and the stuff that makes the government look good is there. Not the stuff that falls between the cracks and goes unknown to the generation that doesn’t know how it really was back in those days.

Let us cherish the memories of our self and of others. Memories of others may tell you something interesting as well as something you may not have known. Once that person is called away, that memory is gone forever and it can not be retold the way it was remembered.