Skip to main content

Robert F. Kennedy

Today is the 40th Anniversary of the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. I grew up in a Boston suburb in the congressional district next to the one that sent John F. Kennedy to congress so as you can imagine the Kennedys and the tragedies the Kennedy family suffered were a big part of my childhood. I was ten when JFK was shot; 15 when RFK was shot--40 years ago today.

Although Bobby Kennedy is widely known for being against the Viet Nam War, he also spoke out against draft deferments. In 1968 he told college students from white middle-class families they were letting poor kids serve and die in their place. Kennedy got booed for telling that bit of the truth, but he said it.

Many of the college students who got deferments and let someone else serve in their place have remained consistently anti-war. I disagree with them, but I respect their position. But I can't understand how a man who let another man serve in his place, maybe die in his place (The draft, for those who don't remember, only called up men.) can be known as patriots today. A man who is a Chicken Hawk should not be on the radio or TV cheering as new generations go off to war. Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly, for example, could have served and did not. The draft was a zero-sum game. When someone got a deferment, the next kid got called up. Limbaugh and O'Reilly avoided the draft so someone else served in their place. Bobby Kennedy spoke out against draft dodgers when he lived. On this 40th anniversary of RFK's death, it is important to remember that RFK was against the war, but also was against those who would use the "Wrong War" justification to let someone else serve in their place.

Popular posts from this blog

Different Water for Sinks and Toilets--Camp Beuhring, Kuwait, and Amtrak

On the train to Philadelphia recently, the toilets had water, but the sinks did not in the last two cars. I walked three cars away from my seat to wash my hands. On the way back, I let the conductor know about the lack of water.  He said there are different water systems for the sinks and the toilets.  Then smiled and said the water is blue in the toilets.  
I told the conductor about a morning at Camp Beuhring, Kuwait, in April 2009. We were there for training before we went to Camp Adder, Iraq.  During our two-week stay, we slept in 77-man tents.  Outside the tent were several sinks and mirrors just standing in the open on the sand. I wish I had a picture.  
About twenty yards away were Porta-Johns or Shit Ovens, which everyone called the plastic enclosures when the temperature approached 120 degrees.  One morning just after down I went out to the sinks, brushed my teeth, then walked toward the Porta-Johns.  One of the soldiers just stepped out of one and was walking toward me.  
H…

Ten Years Ago Today: Cold War Soldier Starts Re-enlistment Process

The Night Before Basic, Killing Brain and Lung Cells
On January 31, 1972, I flew to Texas to begin basic training. On April 2, 2007, ten years ago today, I called Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Askew, recruiting sergeant for the 28th Combat Aviation Brigade, and began the process of re-enlisting after 23+ years as a civilian.  I was 53 years old at the time, about to turn 54.

In the Spring of 2007, The Surge in Iraq was in full swing and recruitment for the Army was down a lot. The economy was good, Congress would not even consider re-starting the Draft, so in late 2006 Congress raised the maximum first-enlistment age for the Army from 35 to 42 years old.

The program was a failure and was rescinded three years later. But that failed program allowed me to re-enlist.  The maximum enlistment age for soldiers with prior service is the enlistment age plus the years of prior service plus a one-year waiver.  I needed all of that.

I called three recruiters before I called Kevin. He was the first one…

My Last Tanker Nickname: Oddball

Donald Sutherland as Oddball, a tank commander in the movie "Kelly's Heroes"
I got my last tanker nickname more than a decade after I earned the nickname Sgt. Bambi Killer.I got that nickname on a business trip to Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2000.The company I worked for just bought a company in Brazil and I was part of a team that went to Brazil to introduce ourselves to the people who ran the business.
Sao Paulo has traffic that makes Los Angeles look like Omaha, so the local managers sent a limo for the four of us. This meant we could be more comfortable on the three-hour 20-mile trip from the airport to downtown. 
At the time I had a beard and still had a lot of brown hair.  Among the local staff people who were waiting to meet us was my now long-time friend Ivan Porccino. Ivan speaks five languages and was assigned as our interpreter.  When we got in the car, Ivan introduced us to the driver and said we would be in Sao Paulo for a few days. The driver said, “I love Americ…