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Showing posts from May, 2015

Photos from Boalsburg 2015 Memorial Ceremony

Here are some of my favorite photos from the annual 28th Division Memorial Ceremony on the site of the Pennsylvania Military History Museum in Boalsburg PA.

Leaving My Day Job at the End of June

The Othmer Library at Chemical Heritage Foundation Last July 1 I began working two days per week to spend more time at home.  I tried to do my job in two days per week, but the growing museum and library I work for decided they need a full-time person in my job.  Since that's not me any more, I will be leaving at the end of June.  I have worked here since March 2002--tied with the longest I worked anywhere.  I worked at Godfrey Advertising in Lancaster PA from 1985 to 1998.

Here's the message to the staff from my boss:

Dear colleagues,
Last July Neil Gussman shifted from working full time to working two days per week in order to spend more time with his family. But as CHF continues to grow and evolve, so do our communications needs. It’s become clear that we need a full-time, on-site public relations manager, and Neil has decided to move on. His last day at CHF will be June 30.
Neil began working for CHF as a consultant in 2002 and was hired as a staff member in 2005. He has per…

The Army Made Me a Writer, Then a Professional Writer

The Army made me a writer.  Last year I wrote here about how six versions of letters home taught me to write and rewrite and helped to make me writer.

By the end of 1977 with 14 months in Germany, I had become a writer, but not a professional writer.  Then the Army gave me that too.  Specifically, Command Sergeant Major Cubbins gave me the chance to become a professional writer.

Cubbins was one of those Top Sergeants for whom his part of the United States Army was HIS Army.  The 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division went to Wiesbaden, West Germany, en masse in October 1976 as Brigade '76.  Cubbins took over as Brigade Sgt. Major in the fall of 1977.

Cubbins was a tall, rail thin, leathery-skinned, wrinkled veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam Wars.  He was over 50 years old which we 20-year-olds thought just amazing.  He had 33 years of enlisted service when he came to our unit--11 service stripes on the left sleeve of his dress uniform and a half-dozen combat stripes on the righ…

Big Day for Russia--Bad Date for Me

The biggest holiday on the calendar in Russia and many other former Soviet States is May 9.  These countries celebrate the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany on the day the Nazis surrendered to the Russians, May 9, 1945.

The soldiers in the photo above are fighting at the Battle of Kursk in 1943.  This was and is the largest armored battle ever fought and the Soviet Army won, turning the the tide against Germany.

While this day is great for the Soviet Union, Russia and the free world, it is a bad date for me.  Eight years ago today, I had the most and worst injuries I have had on one day in my life.  If you don't know the story it is here and here.

Because there are only 365 days in a year, many days will have multiple meanings.  So the coincidence that my worst wreck and the greatest Russian victory are on the same day is just a coincidence.

So in the spirit of this day, I will practice my recently learned Russian language skills and race my bicycle at Smoketown Airport this mor…

Silly Punk Mother F**ker: 1st Sgt. Robert V. Baker

When Bravo Company, 1-70th Armor went to Germany in 1976, our First Sergeant was Robert V. Baker.  Top Baker was a veteran of both Vietnam and the Korean War.  He was not old enough to serve during World War 2, but none of us believed it.  Top Baker to us was REALLY old.  Nearly 50 according to the unit clerk who peeked at his records and told everyone just how old Top Baker was.

Top Baker was a very sharp guy and a very good tanker.  But this tall, thin, graying soldier had a wandering indirect way of speaking that drove us crazy on several occasions.  Once in the Spring of 1977 we were in formation on a cold morning in short sleeves because the Army said it was summer.  Top Baker told us one of the washing machines in the barracks was broken and could not be repaired any time soon.  With great gestures, but without actually looking at us, Top went on for almost 20 minutes talking about washing clothes in Viet Nam which led him to remember that the maintenance people responsible for…

Who Fights Our Wars? Southern Men

I don't know the soldiers in this photo, but I do know that if we could find the home address of every one of them, two out of three would be from the eleven states of the Old South or from the West--between the Rockies and the Sierras.

At the reunion dinner of the 1-70th Armor last Saturday night, those who attended were mostly officers plus a few senior enlisted men.  We served together from 1975 to 1979, the first years of the all-volunteer Army following the end of the draft.

Military service has always been more honored in the South than in the rest of our country, but until the Vietnam War, the draft meant that soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines came from all over the country.  I enlisted in 1972, during the last year of the draft.  Already, anti-war sentiment was so strong in the Northeast where I am from, that I seldom heard a Boston accent on a military base.

By the time the draft was over and I was a tank commander in the 1-70th Armor, the military had become a ve…

One Year at a Time--Now I'm in till 2016

My friend Barry Free joined me for what turned out to be a 100-mile re-enlistment ride.  Barry enlisted in the Army Reserve in 1968 and served till 1975.  He decided to accompany a younger guy on the trip to stay in the Army one more year.

We rode together from Mt. Gretna on some back roads onto Fort Indiantown Gap, then to the Aviation Armory where I signed the re-enlistment paperwork.  Sgt. 1st Class Dale Shade, who got the paperwork ready, was in charge of Public Affairs for 28th CAB when I was in Iraq.  He said he will help me to submit the paperwork for yet another extension next year.

As we rode west on Range Road, we passed several rifle and pistol ranges.  We were talking about how the rifle ranges and the weapons we use are the same as when he was in during the Viet Nam War.  Back then, Barry and I fired the M16 or M16A2.  Now my weapon is the M16A4.  Not a big difference.

We then rode to the Public Affairs Office on Fort Indiantown Gap where I introduced Barry to the folks…