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Posts Tagged ‘Vietnam’

Have you ever thought about what a member of the military eats when deployed?

Those splashy marketing videos never seem to show it and we’re left to wonder what’s in those MRE’s.

When we commemorate the men and women who have died while in military service we tend to talk about “the troops” in an abstract form these days.  Bumper stickers remind us to “support the troops,” which is the functional equivalent of a bumper-sticker request to “imagine world peace.”

The nightly news, when they depart from the daily Trump “Groundhog Day” spotlight, will sometimes feature “In Remembrance” lists of “The Fallen,” which quickly scroll across our screens—distancing ourselves from them—their complexity, their individuality, their family, their humanity, before the next re-run of Seinfeld begins.

Memorial Day involves parades and a variety of solemn services, but most often, it involves barbecues.  Which for many allows us to be ignorant of what “the troops” service entails in the first place.  It’s not, of course, that “the troops” don’t deserve our admiration; it’s that they deserve much more than one day or weak displays of convenient gratitude on a bumper sticker or the empty logic of “support our troops” in a Twitter tweet.

The National Moment of Remembrance Act, encourages all-Americans to pause at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a moment of silence to remember and honor those who died in service to our nation.

So on Monday, May 29th, please take a moment to reflect and ask what it’s like, what it’s really like, to be a soldier.  And honor those who died in service to our nation.

The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs has posted a list of Memorial Day events across the state on its website.

Photos taken by author’s father in Vietnam.

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screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-12-24-21-pmLong form content in a short form world is a novelty these days and I plan to keep this post brief.

I’m thinking about all the Veterans (and their families) today who have sacrificed so much for so many.

I’m eternally thankful.

A very big thank you to all those who have served and continue to serve.

#VeteransDay

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At Willamette National Cemetery

I remember watching the Vietnam War as a kid and seeing shooting and blood and bodies—and people were serious.  Very serious!

Then years later on the first night of Desert Storm in 1991, while watching CNN the contrast was stunning.  I remember thinking, are they reporting on a war, or are they trying to sell me on it?  These days the media is problematic as they would rather be first than be right!  Endless commentary without much reporting.  I’ve always thought that people should get information to make themselves smarter, not just to make themselves feel good and reinforce their viewpoints, but I’ve digressed.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day which commemorates the men and women who died while in the military service.  It is set aside so that we might reflect on the honor and sacrifice of those who courageously gave their lives to safeguard us and our way of life. Freedom surrounds each of us everyday—as we openly speak our minds, ride motorcycles freely in any city, where worship is feely exercised and where ballots are freely cast to change who will govern this great county.

It is a great county, and let’s take a few minutes today to remind ourselves of the consequences of war and remember the families of our Fallen.

Photo taken by author at Willamette National Cemetery.

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Emon Beach Lifeguard Stand - Kwajalein Marshall Islands - Kwajalein Missile Range

Today is Veterans Day and it will come and go, like the winds of yesterday.

Many won’t even give it a second thought which is most unfortunate as I think Veterans day should be each and every day.  Without the men and women who have fought for this country, we would not have the freedoms that we all enjoy.

I come from a military family, have friends in the service and have lost relatives (more info HERE) so, I can speak with some credibility as to the hardships that veterans and their families endure.  It’s not easy and many could use our help, both financially and mental support.

But, when it comes to Iraq/Afghanistan – all in all, considering the costs to the U.S. versus the benefits I have to be intellectually honest in that I’m re-thinking my position and whether the war was worth fighting, or not.  I was for it before I was against it and decided last year it’s time for an immediate withdrawal.  The sectarian violence continues, our presence seems to fuel ever increasing religious extremism and clearly we can no longer afford to fight the fight given the state of the U.S. economy and budget deficit.  But I’ve digressed.

The cool air of November is about the memories for some, or nightmares, for others and the combat soldier who has another day of remembering the greatness of their comrade’s as they fought beside each other.   Be it in the jungles of Nam or the sands of Iraq or the Mountains of Afghanistan or even the icy terrain of Korea or the beaches of Europe.  They all share a memory of where they fought with their comrades.

Veterans Day to me is a day for everyone to appreciate what our military has done for us. And how they put their lives at risk. It is a day to just honor what the military men and women have done.  It’s also is a chance to remind myself, and others around me, of all the wonderful things that we as Americans have and can do, that we would not have if Veterans had not fought for it.

Thank you all!

Photo taken at Emon Beach – Kwajalein Marshall Islands (Based there circa; 1972)

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Spc. Eric Richardson Beaverton, Ore., left, who was wounded in Kandahar, Afghanistan, bows his head in prayer before President Barack Obama addressed military personnel who recently returned from Afghanistan, Friday, May 6, 2011, at Fort Campbell, Ky.

Monday is Memorial Day and it’s a special holiday in America because it commemorates U.S. men and women who died during their military service.

You might be to young to recall, but in 1968, with new bodies returning from a deeply unpopular war, Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Act, moving Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day and Washington’s Birthday to Mondays, to allow for convenient three-day weekends. The loss of focus on this once-somber day had become institutionalized. The change in the holiday was contemporaneous with a larger change in attitude among many Americans toward their government, its wars and those sent to fight them.

Young men such as my father or my cousin Mike sat in Vietnam and read letters implying they were pawns in an immoral game, with nefarious intent to terrify kids in a jungle thousands of miles from home. Their dead were not to be honored upon their return, but rather shunned as emblems of a country in crisis… as people celebrated the beginning of summer rather than Memorial Day, one could debate that a generation grew up not understanding what the day’s name really meant.

My cousin was “KIA”, and recently a good buddy of mine had a family member, Spc. Eric Richardson from Beaverton, OR. , who fought in Afghanistan come home wounded, but alive.  He was shot in both legs in Kandahar, Afghanistan.  Earlier this month at Fort Campbell, KY., he was selected to sit in the front line as one of the most recently wounded veterans when President Barack Obama addressed military personnel who  returned from Afghanistan.  He could barely stand and almost passed out from pain before he was finally able to sit down.  It was a proud moment for his family.

Sure, we’re all looking forward to an enjoyable Memorial Day barbecue and get-together, but regardless of one’s politics, independent of class, race or religion, there should be a basic acknowledgement and respect for those who have given their lives protecting an ideal.  I’m grateful for all those who currently serve, have served, and those who have lost their lives defending our freedom.

I hope that amidst the fun and sun rain, we might all perform some simple act of respect and honor all our brave service members.

Photo courtesy of (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak).

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LEM

LEM

Anyone who grew up in America in the ‘60s must find the present state of space travel a major disappointment.

It was the year Harley-Davidson merged with AMF, the cool movie was Easy Rider which portrayed hippies who rode choppers and Neil Armstrong walked/bounced on the moon.   Forty years ago the crew of Apollo 11 squeezed together over an eight day period and a half-million mile journey to place a plaque on the moon that said “came in peace for all mankind.” I was a child, but like others of my generation, I fully expected there to have been massive space stations orbiting the earth and colonies on the moon by now.

What a rush the space race was. Using German WWII rocket technology, both the Americans and the Russians innovated like mad to launch the first satellite in 1959 (Russia’s Sputnik); to put the first person in orbit (Russia’s Yuri Gagarin in 1961); and finally the first person on the moon (Armstrong in 1969). Clearly lunar bases and spaceships in the solar system was expected by the Twitter-first century, right?

In reflecting about the time and place I realized my path is connected.  Sort of a Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon thing.  First were the years I lived in El Paso, TX and my father worked at the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR).  He spent 1968 in Vietnam working with Hawk Missiles, but on his return to Texas they were involved in some Apollo testing.  I didn’t fully know or understand the significance at the time.

And later like many who graduated from college, I joined the electronic masses at Tektronix.  In 1980 Tek sold the Patient Monitor business to pharmaceutical conglomerate Squibb (a.k.a., Vitatek) and I moved into the healthcare arena.  Squibb was on a buying frenzy of medical devices and services so it was anticipated to be a good career move.  Little did I know what it would be like working with Carl A. Lombardi (CEO) and his not so interesting view of business.  The next year Vitatek merged with Spacelabs Medical (originally out of Chatsworth, CA).

Spacelabs was co-founded by Ben Ettelson and James A. Reeves in 1958 for the express purpose of working with NASA and the U.S. Air Force on systems to monitor the vital signs of astronauts in space.   The company manufactured and delivered prototypes of miniaturized signal conditioners which measured astronauts’ temperature, respiration, and cardiac activity. In July 1969, just days after Neil Armstrong become the first man to walk on the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission , NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center (now Johnson Space Center ) honored Spacelabs Medical with a certificate of appreciation for its “outstanding” contributions to the Apollo Program—contributions which proved vital for the Nation’s goal of landing men on the Moon and returning them safely to Earth.

When I worked at Spacelabs we adapted the technology it originally developed for NASA for the first bedside arrhythmia-monitoring system which allowed physicians to view real-time arrhythmia data, at the patient’s side, for the first time.

Congrats to Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins on your 40th anniversary and historic return to Earth with moon rocks!

LEM Photo from a visit to Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama.

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Schweitzer Summit

Schweitzer Summit

I hadn’t been hiking on Schweitzer since 1979.  Not much has changed.  That’s how it is with the physical world.  It outlasts all of us.  We’re just a blip in time.  Sure we think we’re forever, but despite all the hosannas, even Michael Jackson’s music will soon be forgotten.  It’s not human nature…we’re talking Mother Nature!

Last August in route to the Harley-Davidson 105th Anniversary celebration I posted about the posse travels and stop in Sandpoint, Idaho which is home to Schweitzer.   And again over this past July 4th holiday weekend I found myself disconnected from everything deemed important and traveling the “long-bridge” across Lake Pend Oreille (pronounced: ‘pond –oh– ray’)… the largest natural lake in Idaho.  The lake is 65 miles long and over 1100 feet deep in some areas which explains why the Navy continues to perform underwater acoustic testing at an old WWII base.

LibertySchweitzer mountain is an amusement park of the mind.  Rather than going on rides, being turned upside down by some mechanical contraption, you look at the Selkirk Mountain landscape and your mind does somersaults.  How did this happen?  It’s hard to imagine a glacier which was part of the continental ice sheet forming a lake over 800 feet deep as far away as Missoula, Montana.   Now it’s only a “small” remnant of all that glacial action.

One evening relaxing from a mountain hike I happen onto HBO and watched the Nicholas Stoller movie, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” starring Jason Segel and Kristen Bell.  It’s a comic look at one guy’s herculean task to deal with and get over a recent break-up.  Overall the movie was better than I first thought and afterward’s I caught the local news who were in an uproar over Sarah Palin’s resignation.  Palin was born in Sandpoint, and her father, Charles R. Heath, was a science teacher and track coach. I attended school where Charles taught after my father pulled orders for a tour in Vietnam and we relocated closer to relatives. Even though the Palin family moved to Alaska when she was an infant many in the area have a source of pride in her connection to the city.

Lake Pend Oreille

Lake Pend Oreille

I couldn’t help but connect the dots between the movie and how the resignation were seemingly intertwined.  Palin was like the ex-girlfriend they’re SO over, never want to see again, have already forgotten about – really it’s OVER – but they can’t stop talking about her.  Whatever you think of Palin, her argument for resigning seemed logical and the only “incoherent rambling” was coming from the obsessively focused media who couldn’t stop talking about her resignation and her potential TV show…yep, they are SO over her!  I half expect to see Keith Obermann (MSNBC) crying because he has no one to help drive up his viewer numbers.

Instead most folks that I visited were asking: Have you seen all the Michael Jackson coverage on TV?  Or speaking of resignations, how’s work going?  And what’s going on with all the IED troop casualties in Afghanistan?  It was a hysteria filled July 4th news cycle, but I’m thinking everyone needs to take a moment of pause, get some wind in the face, hike a mountain summit and enjoy becoming placed in natural perspective.

Photos taken at Sandpoint and Schweitzer Summit.

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