Sunday, July 30, 2017

Alles Besser Jetzt*

The Backyard at Chez Sarge, Summer 2015
Yesterday was a bit of a downer post, Friday had been a mixed bag and I was having one of my melancholy days I guess. At any rate, things were much better Saturday. The weather was odd though, cloudy, fitful winds in the morning, temps in the low 60s.

While it got sunny later on, it was still blustery and cool. My kind of day actually, very comfortable, very pleasant. And very lazy, sad to say.

I spent a bit of time wondering what to offer you on this fine Sunday. Discovered that while I had a number of ideas, all historical, I just didn't have the requisite energy to knuckle down and get stuck in.

Like I said, lazy.

So, s'il vous plaît, pardonnez-moi, you get a rerun. Well, don't look at me like that, it is summer, you should be outside, enjoying the weather, not reading my blathering.

From August of 2013, one of my favorites. For the new folks it will give you a little more insight into who I am. For whatever that's worth.

* All better now...
The Somme Battlefield Today
Near Beaumont-Hamel, France

There’s a before and after line to killing someone else, even someone anonymous. Just like there’s a before and after line to losing a friend, or a wingman. It changes you, and you can rationalize all you want, but you're someone different than you were the day before.
- Lex, 13 April 2004

As I get older, I tend to spend a lot of time thinking. Much more so than when I was young. Perhaps it's the realization that one's time on this Earth is limited. We all have to die sometime, someday. As I count the years I've seen, it hits me, what's left is less than what I've got behind me. It's not that I have a sense of my impending doom, but if life has taught me one thing, it's that it could all end suddenly and abruptly. Ya never know.

In the journey from birth to death, there are lines we all must cross. Once having crossed that line, nothing is ever the same.

In that opening picture is the battlefield of the Somme, in France, from World War I. One million, (yes, one million) men were killed or wounded in that battle fought from 1 July to 18 November in 1916. The British Army alone suffered over 60,000 casualties on the very first day of the offensive. 60 thousand men, killed, wounded, maimed. In one day.

World War I was called the "War to End All Wars" but it was anything but. World War I destroyed a generation of young men. The scars on the souls of those who were impacted by the so-called "Great War" are fading, as those who fought that war have mostly passed on. And the loved ones they left behind are also very old and soon will be no more.

Every generation seems to have some watershed event which marks them. For my parents' generation it was Pearl Harbor. Followed by the Second World War. An event even more monstrous than the First World War.

Of the nations impacted by WWII, on the first of September 1939, these nations comprised some 2 billion people. Military deaths in WWII are estimated at 22 to 30 million. Yes, that's dead, doesn't count the wounded. Civilian deaths are estimated at 38 to 55 million. Again that's people who were killed. Doesn't count the wounded, the maimed, the displaced, the tortured and persecuted. (Full details here.)

An event like that must have crippled the souls of those directly touched by the conflict. Especially in Europe. First there was WWI, then there was WWII. It is no wonder to me that Europeans tend to be somewhat, shall we say, pacifistic? They are witnesses to the most hellish conflicts ever to disturb the history of humanity.


My generation has had it's watershed events, two immediately spring to mind which had a huge impact on my early years.

Dallas, 22 November 1963

Reaching Out
Larry Burrows, 1966
I was born in 1953, for the next ten years I remember my childhood as being idyllic. No worries, while we weren't rich, we were comfortable. (I remember my Dad having to work extra hours to make sure we had the things we needed.) Life, as I remember it, was excellent.

The assassination of JFK in 1963 shattered a number of my illusions. It seemed to me that the world had gone somewhat insane. Why would someone want to kill the President? After that, Vietnam began making the news. A lot.

From junior high school up until my freshman year in college there was some question in my generation's collective mind if we were going to have a chance to grow up. Vietnam was splashed all over the news, it was a specter which haunted me every day. Would I have to go?

Combat veterans of my acquaintance (including close relatives) said that this was a "bad war". It wasn't like "their war" (which had been WWII of course). These were confusing times for a young lad.

Looking back on things, I now realize that the MSM sold us all a bill of goods. I have friends and acquaintances who are Vietnam vets. Don't tell them that theirs was a "bad war". I have Vietnamese friends, don't tell them it was a "bad war". The ending was bad. For that we can thank the media and traitors like our current Secretary of State (whose name I cannot mention without spitting).

I joined the military in the aftermath of Vietnam. It was in many respects, a mess. Drug use was pretty rampant, pot mostly, and race relations were not all that great. Things were improving, then the peanut farmer came along, up until now the worst President in living memory.

But that passed, eventually.

But all of these things were lines which were crossed. And once crossed, things were different.

Then there came the year my oldest child received his commission in the United States Navy. The year when my kids' generation had their first watershed event.


I don't think I need to say anything about that particular image. We are still in the shadow of that event. Again the media doesn't get it. The traitors on the left again, don't get it.

Each of these events I've mentioned changed the world. These events impacted millions.

But looking back over the years, there are smaller events which go unnoticed by one's neighbors and perhaps even by one's friends. These are events which have impacted me in very significant ways. And again make me ponder my own mortality.

In January 2010, due to a lack of work, I had to travel to another of my company's facilities. One that is a hundred miles from home. But God bless them they kept me around, they kept me on the payroll. There were many, including some dear friends, who couldn't say that, who lost their jobs at that time. So yes, that was traumatic.

Then in February of that year, my Dad died. It was like I'd slipped my anchor and was now adrift in this vast and sometimes confusing world. My most trusted advisor was gone. The guy I could always turn to, no matter what, was gone.

Okay, you pick yourself up, you dust yourself off and you drive on. Life doesn't stop. You lick your wounds and you press on. It's all you can do really.

But there is one more life changing event I must share with you. It's the reason you are reading these words of mine, it's the reason I'm sharing these words with you.

While away from home I discovered the world of blogs. Fascinating stuff, people sharing their lives, thoughts and observations on line. Great stuff. I got hooked. It was also a source of opinion, and yes even news, untainted by the powers that be. Untainted by the MSM, whom I still view largely as traitors and destroyers of our way of life.

One guy in particular stuck out. One guy in particular became a must read. First thing in the morning, every day, I read his blog. I tell you what, the man could write.

Then one day, another watershed in my existence. He was gone. Lost in the crash of his fighter in a driving snowstorm in Nevada. Leaving a wife and three kids behind. Leaving many friends and avid followers behind.



To Absent Friends
He's why I started this blog. But he's only part of the reason I will continue it as long as I feel I have something to share.

Writing this is cathartic. I also enjoy it beyond belief. And having you folks, my readers, stop by and read and sometimes comment, gives me pleasure beyond measure.

But I also do it so that someday my grandkids can sit down and peruse the archives and maybe say -
"Grampa was an interesting guy. Bit of a goofball sometimes, but an interesting guy."
Thanks for reading...



36 comments:

  1. Hang in there, My Friend. I don't know about "goofball", but you are definitely interesting!

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  2. Misty and chills at the same time.

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    1. That's the way it has been for me the past few days.

      A rather odd patch I'm going through.

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  3. Hey Sarge;

    Very good post and talking about watershed events, for me it was Desert Storm, I view life before it and after it. I guess that is why I like 80's music a lot, Lol. All you can do is keep going and living an honorable life, that is a core belief that I have. All you can take with you is your name and all the other stuff stays behind. I blog for I find it therapeutic, and keeps me out of facebook jail. ;)

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    1. Another watershed. I was on active duty at Offutt AFB, NE.

      We were a little ashamed that we were watching the events on CNN (back when it was good), many of us would have rather been there.

      The ignorance of youth.

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  4. At the start you mentioned your temps up there. We've had high pressure stalled over Texas for about 2 months. It was 112 yesterday in my backyard. Not a normal temp by any stretch. Some times, it helps to count your blessings when the patch of life you're on is a bit rough. I'm thankful that I got the a/c installed a couple years ago. Made yesterday bearable.

    At least you aren't down here cooking in the sun! Keep on course, make it to the next way point, you'll get there eventually.

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    1. Roger that.

      (Stalled high pressure area, no fun in the summer!)

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  5. After checking the headlines to see what happened while I was unconscious during the night, I come here.
    immediately touched. This post will affect me all day, I'm sure.
    I remember too.

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    1. Thanks. Methinks I'll be visiting your place too. Cat pictures, what could be better?

      :)

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  6. Cooler and muggy (for certain values of muggy) here the last couple of days. Something caused the High Plains pressure ridge to start dancing, and that dance shocked (shocked I tell you!) the weather guessing algorithms. I personally believe there may be a slight causal effect from increasing sea surface temps in the equatorial Pacific, but that's a belief based entirely on incomplete understanding and guesswork. Whatever the cause, it feels good. Now if some of that humidity would only consolidate and fall as rain...

    Funny thing about those lines, at least in my experience. In my youthful certainty I knew all about the lines; where they were, what they meant. One day I realized that I didn't know $#!+ about those lines; they popped up in unexpected places, and even the ones that were located approximately where I thought proper were fundamentally different than I'd imagined. Life is interesting.

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    1. Yeah, those lines.

      If one's life is dull, just means you don't care enough. Have to care about something, otherwise life is meaningless.

      Delete
  7. Entering my seventh decade it is hard to pick out one event. The miracle of current technology stands out, as was the day I sat on an off ramp West of Fort Morgan, CO and talked on my cell phone with my youngest son in Kandahar.

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    1. Now that ranks way up there in terms of awesomeness.

      When I was in Korea, you got to wait in line to use the phone. Then had it for maybe five minutes.

      I talked to my parents maybe three times in four years.

      Thankfully they remembered who I was when I got back home.

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    2. And it cost $10/minute. Which was a lot, even to a rich single 1LT at the time. I called my Mom on her birthday, which doubled as the call for Christmas. Cost me a hundred bucks.

      Worth every cent! Wish I could call her now.

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    3. Yup. I remember that.

      Also understand the wish. Sigh...

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  8. I was born in 1953 too. It seems we crossed many similar lines as similar times.

    WWI. One of the best first hand accounts I have read--

    https://www.amazon.com/Rifleman-Went-War-Author-published/dp/B00Y2RVG8C/ref=sr_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1501429372&sr=1-8&keywords=rifleman

    My maternal grandfather was discharged for the Army Air Service as a 2Lt. at Camp Dix on 23 February, 1919. I was discharged from the Army as a Sgt. at Fort Dix on February 16, 1977.

    Dallas, 22 November 1963. I was in 5th grade. I remember the uncertainty, and the feeling that there were pieces missing to the story. I never imagined they would be missing for so long.

    The weather. There is a reason that the Devil lives in Hell, and rents out Texas.

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    1. Yup, we've been down similar paths.

      Spent some time in Texas, Mississippi was hotter. Seriously.

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    2. Painted houses at Columbus AFB during Summers in College. You are most debinitely right about that!

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  9. VX introduced me to Lex, thence to you. Good trip. Sad today at his mention - all that I missed. I am richer for the both of you. Thanks.

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    1. Thanks Dave.

      I stand on the shoulders of giants...

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  10. Lex was my first visit every a.m. after firing up my computer, that morning was a shock followed by great sadness. I've gone to far too many memorials of aviators since 1969 and now know too many of the ones showing up in the "Taps" (aka 'Irish Sporting news') section of my monthly issue of VHPA magazine. But, we'll give ol' Satan a run for his money before he gets us. Bourbon, Kentucky cigars, Ray-Bans, and music by ZZ Top. It ain't a wake, it's a party. regards, Alemaster

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  11. If it took Lex's death for us to get your blog, well, maybe the saying that there is nothing so bad that some good doesn't come of it is true. No one can replace Lex, but I'm happy that you picked up the torch to carry it forward. Thanks for the GREAT post, even if it did stir up the dust in my office.

    Late to the Ball

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    1. One door closes, another one opens.

      I need to reflect on this thought, that I have so many new friends who I otherwise would not know had Lex not had his encounter with Eternity on that cold morning in early March in the high desert.

      Almost makes one feel guilty.

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  12. Was born late in 1950, grew up in Dallas - was in 7th grade science class when we got the word about JFK. Was definitely an odd feeling, felt at times a little like people elsewhere were blaming all of Dallas for the deed. Was in Boston on 9/11, saw the second plane hit the tower, immediately understood the significance and those responsible. You're right, the world definitely was different in both cases. Odd that I remember both days - 1963 and 2001 - had clear blue skies. And yes, North Texas gets hot! My dad grew up in Wichita Falls , As you probably know, Wichita Falls and Presidio vie for the hottest spot in Texas during the summer. He told me that he and his sisters would have to soak their sheets in water and have a fan blow over them to get cool enough to sleep. When they'd dry out (wouldn't take very long), they'd have to repeat all night. Felt they'd gone to heaven when they got their first swamp cooler and could sleep most of the night. I remember her mom's bedroom still had one in the 50's when we'd visit.

    Enjoy your blog, been following for a while now. Thanks for writing it!

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    1. Now that you mention it Tom, I have crystal clear memories of both 22 Nov 63 and 11 Sep 01. I was 10 in 1963, 48 in 2001, though thirty years separate the two dates, both remain ever clear in my memory.

      The first confused me, as I was but a child, the second scared me. No longer on active duty, I felt that I wasn't much use anymore and my son had been commissioned in the Navy that very spring. It's one thing to go off to war, 'tis quite another to send the progeny "down range."

      As to hot in Texas, yes it is. Wichita Falls sounds pretty horrid in summer. But it never ceases to amaze me what we humans can used to.

      Thanks for being here.

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    2. Wichita Falls is where I trained to become a C-141 maintainer, in the summer. The heat is not one of my memories of that tour. Must have lucked into a cool summer; either that or living in California's central valley affected my feelings about heat in the summer.

      Paul L. Quandt

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    3. Sheppard AFB had a reputation in the Air Training Command back in the day, it was one of those places you DIDN'T want to go to for training. If the USAF told new recruits where the training base was for some of the AFSCs, very few would ever volunteer for that specialty.

      I was spoiled, my tech school for Weapons Control Systems on the F-4 was at Lowry, in Denver. Nuff said.

      Having spent some time in the Central Valley (it's where two of the progeny live), I know what you mean about hot. It is, indeed hot there.

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  13. The first "line" I remember was the Challenger disaster. I was seven, and completely unused to such things. Not sure I truly understood what it meant, but it made an impression. (How much was the actual event, and how much was because of the reactions of the adults and authorities in my life?)

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    1. Another line for sure. Especially the kids who were watching in school for the whole teacher in space thing.

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  14. A bit of a goofball is redundant with "an interesting guy." No need to qualify that! I think I am too.

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    1. If you need confirmation Tuna, it does take one to know one.

      ;)

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  15. Re the assassination of JFK, I wrote this nine years ago.

    I wonder how the discussions between Goldwater and JFK would have played out. They reportedly discussed campaigning together, sort of like staging a lot of the Lincoln-Douglas debates across the country.

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    1. Can't disagree with what you wrote back then EB, I might have a quibble or two on some of your points, but you present your case well.

      I did not know that about Goldwater and JFK. That would have been interesting.

      I've stood at JFK's grave a few times and always wondered, "What if?"

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)