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Showing posts from August, 2011

Get by with a Little Help from My Friends. . .

On Monday I called my high school classmate Marty Anderson.  We reconnected at the reunion after 40 years.  Marty works for Boeing in their Chinook helicopter assembly plant in Ridley Park (Philadelphia) PA.  Marty served for 30 years, much of that as a Chinook pilot and rose to the rank of Colonel.  There were not a lot of veterans in my Boston-area, Viet Nam-era high school class, but one made Navy Captain and one made Colonel, so that's pretty good for 12 kids out of 370.

Anyway, Marty offered to help me stay in part age 60 if there was anything he could do to help.  But it is beginning to look like I won't be staying into my geriatric years.  Next Tuesday, September 6, I am taking a day off from work with my wife to meet the social work of the next boy we may be adopting.  Actually, we are at the beginning stages of adopting two more 12-year-old boys.

On Tuesday we will meet the social worker for Emarion who currently lives with a foster family in the Erie area.  The othe…

No Call for Irene

On Friday I received several emails about a possible need for volunteers if Irene turned out to be a bad storm.  It wasn't.  I never got a call.  It would have been exciting to get called up, but it is better for millions of my neighbors that there was no reason to call up additional National Guard soldiers.

Irene stopped trains along most of the Northeast Corridor so I will be working at home today.  We had no damage at all.  If you were in Irene's path, I hope you were just as fortunate.

Expertise is SO Entertaining

One of the very odd things about the current wave of populism sweeping America is the "I am as good/smart/whatever as anyone else" sentiment is the opposite of what soldiers really admire.  And calm expertise is what the civilian world admires about soldiers.

Navy SEALs were cheered and admired across America on May 2 when the news was confirmed that two quick shots ended the life of Osama Bin Laden.  Two months later when 21 Navy SEALs died in a Chinook shot down over Afghanistan a woman I worked with said, "What a waste.  All that training and they died like that."  I reminded her (gently) that the Chinook crew, the Afghan commandos and the other soldiers on board that ill-fated helicopter were a great loss their country and their families.  But I understood what she meant.  The SEALs are so clearly at the top of their game.

We all know what expertise looks like in sports.  It's Sam Fuld horizontal in the air catching a fly ball.  It's Barry Sanders elud…

Different Reunions

Last year I went to the 70th Armor reunion, this year to my 40th high school reunion. I wrote about the reunion on the Stoneham High School Facebook page as follows:

The reunion was a wonderful event. Better than I could have hoped. Not just because Murrie, Chickie and the other organizers put together a great event, but because after 40 years I am finally old enough to appreciate what a great thing it is to reconnect across decades.
The first person I talked to at the pre-event mixer was Pat Daly. He told Frank Capuano and I just how tough his childhood was. I had no idea. The more important thing he said--if I can quote correctly--we were all fucked up in our own way. Which was very true for me.
Coming to this reunion let me see that I shared a very difficult part of my life with some really great people. We were trying to figure out who we were while the rest of our country was trying to figure out what kind of world we would live in.
For me, basic training was a relief from life as a …

Firing the MK 19 Grenade Launcher

During last drill Echo Company set up and ran the MK 19 range.  The weapon is a belt-fed, fully automatic grenade launcher, mounted on a tripod or on a vehicle.  In combat it fires 40mm high explosive rounds at a rate of more than 300 rounds per minute--although the actual rate is 60 rounds per minute when feeding new belts of ammo into the weapon.  It can fire effectively up to 2000 meters and put rounds on a point target at 1500 meters.

We fired the non-explosive training rounds on Range 36 at Fort Indiantown Gap.  The range looks down into a valley from up on a ridge.  All of the gunners had 32 rounds each and were able to put effective fire on vehicle targets at 500 meters.

The Viet Nam Vet from My High School Class

From Murrie Hubbard, USMC
I also belong to a FB group called "The Walking Dead", which is the nickname of my Marine Battalion from Vietnam and Okinawa during 1972-73. I just posted the below captioned in that group, as I knew my Marine Brothers would be honored to learn that they had been recognized at our 40th Reunion the other night. Thought I'd share it with you...

I graduated from Stoneham High School in Stoneham, MA in 1971. I had already been sworn into the Corps' 180 day delayed entry program in Boston, MA on New Year's Eve of 1970, and then left for P.I. 15 days after HS graduation. There were 364 graduates, only 12 of whom eventually became military veterans, and only 3 of us, to include 1 female, who became United States Marines. As you all of you ...know, very few wanted anything to do with going into the military at that time, and even fewer into the Marine Corps... And of the 12 veterans from my class, 8 were Vietnam Era veterans, and I ended up being…

Class of 71 Reunion--Going Home

Last time I wrote was about going to my 40th high school reunion.  After driving all day Saturday from Lancaster PA I arrived in Stoneham MA.  I got a real Boston traffic welcome too.  Since it was Saturday, I decided to go through the city of Boston.  I drove through the infamous Big Dig on my way to Stoneham.  Just I left the city I saw I-93 was squeezed down to two lanes for a bridge replacement project.  
I got off the highway in  Medford thinking I could go through the two center to Stoneham.  Bad idea.  Medford was jammed with hundreds of cars with the same idea as I had.  Since I always have a bicycle with me, I stopped at a donut shop on route 38 and circled around in Medford until I found a good back road into Stoneham.  I arrived a half hour early so I parked at Robin Hood Elementary School (my elementary school!) and road around the streets in the area of Stoneham where I grew up.  
I went to the reunion with my best friend from High School, Frank Capuano, and his wife Diane.…

Class of 1971 Stoneham High School, Stoneham, Massachusetts

Here's the latest update from Murrie Hubbard on the service of my classmates.  Either or 11 or 12 of the 371 graduates in our class served.
Since my first enlistment was USAF, I guess I could be double counted in who served where.  It is interesting that we got all five branches with just 11 people.

As far as we know right now, we have a total of 11 military veterans from our class, and there could be a 12th (George Zanni), but I've never been able to confirm whether he really had served time in the Marines or not.  If any of you know anyone else who is a veteran, in addition to the below list, pls let me know before our reunion this coming Saturday.   As you can see, the USAF was best represented by the Class Of 1971 (4), followed by the USMC, and we have served in all 5 branches of the military.  We have 3 designated war veterans, 2 retired high ranking officers, and at least 4 out of the 11 of us who have various types of service-connected disabilities. 1)   Murrie Hubbard, U…

Who Fights Our Wars: Contractor on the Way to Afghanistan

On the flight home from Kentucky yesterday, I was seated with a 27-year-old named Matt who was on his way to Afghanistan.  He will work in S-2, military intelligence, as a contractor.  This will be his third time serving in Afghanistan.  The first time he was a 19-year-old gunner on top of a Humvee.  At age 24 he had retrained and was in an intelligence unit in Afghanistan.  Now he was on his way back with no weapon and much higher pay.  I know he is not serving in the sense of being a soldier.  But IEDs don't discriminate and he will be working 12 hours a day, seven days a week in a very dangerous place.

Matt and I talked about flying long distances, hassles, chow, rockets, heat and dust.  We also talked about civilian jobs.  Matt lost his jobs when he came back both times.  The employers had been supportive and intended to keep his job, but they went out of business.  Like many soldiers, Matt is taking the contracting job because he will make more than $100,000 mostly tax free …

40th High School Reunion in Two Weeks--2 Combat Vets in Class of 71

In two weeks I will be driving to Stoneham, Massachusetts, for my 40th High School Reunion.  One of the organizers is Murrie Hubbard.  He, Chickie Taylor, Tom and Diane Mayo and others worked to put the event together and track down many of our classmates.  In the course of getting reacquainted with many members of the class of '71, Murrie found out he and I were the only combate veterans of our class. Several others served.  Marty Anderson joined in 75 just after Viet Nam and rose to the rank of Colonel in the Army.  Mike Brown was a career Air Force sergeant.

But at age 18 Murrie Hubbard USMC went to Viet Nam.  On my 56th birthday, I stepped of the plane at Tallil Air Base, Iraq.  Funny that the only two veterans in our class served so far apart in space and time.

It's Murrie's birthday today.  Happy 58th birthday Murrie! See you soon.