Political Whoredom

The Saga of Judge Roy Moore

As anyone who’s been paying the slightest attention to the media lately know, Judge Roy S, Moore, the controversial, devout Christian (Baptist) Alabama judge running as the Republican nominee for the Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been “accused” of “sexual misconduct” (whatever that is) by a number of women in their 50s and 60s. They claim that when they were teenagers and in their early twenties, Judge Moore, who was not a judge back then, did something sexual to them. In most of the claims, all the judge did was take them out on dates or ask them out, with the impropriety being that Moore was considerably older than they, by as much as eighteen years in one alleged case. Now, with one possible exception, the difference in ages was not illegal and, in fact, by historical standards, wasn’t even unusual. Since the “allegations” came out in an article published in the Washington Post a few days after the D.C. paper came out condemning Judge Moore as “unfit for office” (they said the same thing about Donald Trump) numerous commentators have referred to Moore as a “much older” man, when, in fact, at the time of the allegations, he was actually a young man in his very early thirties and the women were in their teens and twenties. The original “accusations,” which really aren’t accusations of anything, were that three women went out on dates with Moore while another said that he had asked her out but she declined because her mother wouldn’t let her go. The first woman claimed that she went with Moore to “his house” twice and that the second time they engaged in what can only be classified as “petting,” and that at the time, she was possibly underage. (I say possibly because she alleges that she was fourteen at the time and the age of consent in Alabama today is 16. No one seems to know what it was in 1977, when she claims she went with Moore.) A fifth accuser went to notorious Democratic Party activist Gloria Allred to claim that Moore assaulted her in his car. Another jumped on the bandwagon and made no allegation other than that she claims Moore pestered her for dates and that she “got him banned from the mall” where she worked – she was in her twenties. Since then, another woman, one of Roy Moore’s clients, claims he “grabbed my butt.”

Before we get into this, bear in mind that these claims came out a month before the Alabama special election in which Judge Moore is the Republican candidate. That alone makes the claims extremely suspicious. The judge has held office in Alabama for 40 years and has made untold numbers of political enemies, not only in Alabama, but throughout the nation and in the media, because of his strong stands on legal issues. His national notoriety dates back to when he was sued by the ACLU for displaying a wooden placard of the Ten Commandments in his courtroom, but his local notoriety in Etowah County, Alabama where he grew up started soon after he began practicing law when he spoke out against the way local attorneys and judges were handling the courts. Animosity toward him increased when he ran for circuit judge and made accusations against the attorneys and the judges. Claims were made against him to the state bar association. His name became well known in the county and there was stiff opposition to him. It is also during this period that the claims made by the women are supposed to have occurred. Furthermore, the claims all date back to the late 1970s and very early 1980s, with one exception, the one made by his later client, which dates to the 1990s.

The earliest – in terms of when the incident is supposed to have occurred – was made by one Beverly Young Nelson, who claims that Moore offered her a ride home from the restaurant where she worked, sometime after December 1977, then assaulted her in his car. Nelson’s claim is suspect because she was not one of the women interviewed by the Washington Post reporters; instead, she engaged notorious lawyer and Democratic Party activist Gloria Allred to represent her and made her claim in a dramatic press conference in New York City, obviously for political purposes. Now, Nelson and Moore are residents of Alabama, the allegations are set in Alabama, and any court action would have to be filed there, which raises the question of whether Allred is even licensed to practice law there. (In fact, complaints against Allred have been made in California and she is under investigation by the California Bar.) There are holes in Nelson’s story. For one thing, she claims Moore locked the car doors so she couldn’t get out. Unless his vehicle had electric locks, which is doubtful in early 1978, he would have had to reach across in front of her or she would have had to raise up so he could reach behind her to lock the door. (Nelson says his car was a 2-door. She also says she thinks it was “older” which makes it unlikely to have had electric locks.) Furthermore, the purpose of door locks is to lock the doors so they can’t be opened FROM THE OUTSIDE! Most car doors are unlocked from the inside simply by pulling the handle. There is also the question of why she let Moore drive her home. She says she was waiting for her boyfriend to come and pick her up, but he was running late. Why didn’t she want to wait a few minutes? She says he showed up a few minutes after the alleged assault. She claims she had bruises and her clothes would have undoubtedly been disheveled but her boyfriend seems not to have noticed. Members of her own family have said the story is made up. Her stepson says she is not an honest woman and is out for money. A former boyfriend who knew her then has told the media he doesn’t believe her. A woman who worked at the barbecue joint Nelson claims she worked at says that she worked there three years from 1977-80 and never saw Roy Moore in the place – Nelson claimed he was a regular who ate there every night and always sat in the same chair. (Now, bear in mind that Moore lived in the country some 25 miles or so by road from Gadsden. It’s extremely unlikely he would have been in the restaurant at the time Nelson claims the assault occurred.) Nelson claims that Moore pulled her head toward his crotch. She also says he was trying to get her shirt off while he was trying to get her to his crotch, but then says he let her go. Now, bear in mind that none of the other “accusers” mention any kind of assault or threats. In fact, except for Leigh Corfman, none of the women interviewed by the Washington Post mention any kind of sexual contact other than kissing at all. Nelson claims she never told anyone because she was afraid Moore would do something to hurt her or her family. She says she didn’t tell her boyfriend because he had a violent temper and she was afraid he would do something. Regardless, there is no way Nelson’s allegations can ever be proven. They are alleged to have occurred 39 years ago and the statute of limitations have long since expired.

Leigh Corfman alleges that she went out with Roy Moore twice when she was fourteen years of age. She claims that she met Moore in 1979 in the Gadsden County courthouse when she went there with her mother, who had filed suit to give up custody because the girl had behavior problems (although Corfman doesn’t mention that in her account.) She claims that she and her mother were waiting to go into the courtroom when Moore came over and offered to stay with her outside the courtroom. Now, this doesn’t make sense (although her mother has corroborated the story.) Corfman was fourteen years old, an adolescent, not a child. Why would a 14-year old need someone to wait with them in the foyer of a courthouse? She claims that she gave Moore her telephone number and asked him to call her. She claims that she’d slip out of the house and meet him on a street corner near her house. She says that she went out with Moore at least twice, and that he took her to “his house” on both occasions. Now, at that time – and for years afterward – Moore was living in a mobile home, a trailer, he had purchased while he was in the Army on 16 acres of land in the Gallant community west of Gadsden, where Corfman was living with her mother. In 1979, he was in the process of adding-on to the trailer to make it into a house but it wasn’t until 1982 that it resembled a house. In fact, when he and his wife first married in 1985 she had to cook in an electric skillet in the washroom because he hadn’t built a kitchen (and didn’t for at least a year after their marriage.) Corfman remembers that the “house” was up a gravel road but makes no mention of him living in a trailer.

Bear in mind that Moore’s trailer was at least 25 miles from Gadsden where Corfman lived, one way. He would have had to drive around 50 miles, at least, to take her to his house then take her home. It would have taken them at least half an hour to get from her house to his and another half hour to get back, but she makes no mention of this in her accounts. For her to have gone to Moore’s trailer, she would have had to have been gone from home a minimum of an hour, not counting the time she spent there. Where the hell was her mother? Her mother had just gone to court to give custody to her father because she couldn’t handle her. Wouldn’t she have been curious, at least, to know where her daughter had been? If she wasn’t home, why did Corfman go somewhere else to meet Moore? She claims that the first time they went there, they did some kissing but then says that the second time, he put his hand on her breast – over her bra. She also says he went in the bedroom and took off his clothes then came out in his underwear. This doesn’t make sense. Why would a man leave a hot girl on the floor of his living room to go to his bedroom to take off his clothes? No, he would have either taken his pants and shirt (that’s all he took off) there in the living room where they were making out or would have taken her into the bedroom. In fact, a man would have removed the girl’s clothes first. Now, this sounds more like something a high school boy would do, not a 32-year old man! Or, from a Harlequin Romance.

There is a strong possibility that Corfman may have concocted a fantasy about Roy Moore after he talked to her and her mother at the courthouse. She said in her appearance on the Today Show that she read a lot of romance novels. Now, I’ve read a few over the years, although not recently. One of the topics of romance novels is of a young woman meeting an exciting older man and being swept off her feet while her bodice heaves. Corfman was a disturbed young teenager whose parents had been divorced for five years. She admits she lived in a fantasy world and that when she was going out with Roy Moore, she was experiencing a fantasy of being in the adult world. Now she says she was a child but she evidently considered herself an adult at the time. There is a very thin wall between fantasy and reality and our memories often concoct fantasies we later remember as real. For example, for years I believed a certain experience had happened to me while I was in the Air Force. I believed it and even wrote about it but then it occurred to me that what I was “remembering” was actually the image that came in my mind at the time one of my friends was telling about something had happened to him. I also sometimes have dreams about relationships I had with young women before my first marriage and between my marriages. I eventually realized that these women only exist in my dreams. They are not real. Leigh Corfman’s recollections of her relationship with Roy Moore may only exist in her imagination.

There is something important in the Corfman account – if her allegations are true, their actions were consensual. She says that on both occasions, when she became uncomfortable and told him to stop and take her home, he did. The only illegality was her age. She was younger than the age of consent as expressed in the Alabama Code of 1975 (the code still in force in Alabama.) However, she makes no insinuation that she had intercourse with Moore. Neither do any of the other women who have made the news. However, since Corfman was under the age of 16 and Moore was older than 19, he would have been guilty of sexual abuse in the second degree.

Corfman has some credibility issues for a number of reasons. First, she was a child of divorce, which causes problems for many children. (I know all about this – I had four children at the time of my divorce and it was very hard on them.) Corfman has admitted both to being involved with drugs – which affect the brain – and promiscuity. She was involved in a number of questionable activities as a teenager and as an adult and claims to have attempted suicide at age 16. Since her mother gave up custody to her father due to the girl’s disobedience, she was obviously already having problems before she met Moore. She is alleged to have made allegations against other prominent men – particularly pastors – and she may have actually been as old as seventeen at the time she claims to have been involved with Moore. She says she told people about the incident but her mother has said she didn’t tell her until ten years later, after Moore had become a circuit court judge. One of her friends claims Corfman told her she was going out with an older man and the woman says she warned her it wasn’t a good idea. Regardless of who she told, the fact remains that there is no case against Judge Moore – Corfman has allegations but that’s all, and the only place those allegations will be heard is in the media.

There are also problems with the time frame of Corfman’s claim. According to court records, her mother was in court to give up custody to her father because she had discipline problems. The court proceedings were on February 21, 1979, a Wednesday. The order stated that she was to be placed in the custody of her father, who lived in Ohatchee, a community some 15 miles south of Gadsden, on March 4, a Sunday. Corfman claimed that Moore called her at her mother’s and that she slipped out of the house and went to meet him on a street corner – which may have been more than a mile a from the house and on the other side of a major thoroughfare. She claims he took her to his house twice. There is only a 12-day window for Corfman’s proceedings with Moore to have occurred (actually 10, since she was at the courthouse on the first day and moved to her father’s house on the twelfth.) She did not mention that she left her mother’s home and moved in with her father. She say that when Moore called, she made excuses but never mentioned that she had moved, which would have been a logical reason for the relationship to have ended.

The third accuser is a woman named Tina Johnson who was 28 years old at the time of her allegation, which is supposed to have occurred sometime in the 1990s. She and her mother had hired Moore to represent them in her effort to relinquish custody of her 12-year old son (which means she was 16 when she had him) to her mother because she lacked the means to support him. She claims that as she and her mother were leaving his office, Moore grabbed one of her cheeks. Yet, she never told her mother and continued to use Moore in the case. I suspect that she just wanted to get on the #MeToo bandwagon.

None of the other “accusations” are actually accusations at all. Two are women who admit to going out on dates with Moore. All were in their teens but over the age of consent. One claims she met Moore when she was fourteen and that he asked her out two years later but she didn’t go because her mother wouldn’t let her. One, who was eighteen at the time, says that Moore took her to a pizza parlor and ordered a bottle of Matuese Rose, a popular Portuguese wine, even though she was under twenty-one. (She doesn’t seem to say that she drank any.) Then there is another, one Becky Gray, who apparently just wanted to get on the bandwagon. She was in her twenties when she claims she knew Moore, and working in a store in the Gadsden Mall. She claims that Moore asked her out several times and she complained to the store manager that he was bothering her. However, she makes no claim of sexual impropriety. She claims she “got Roy Moore banned from the mall” but the fact is, according to the mall manager, he was never banned from the mall at all. That he was banned from the mall is apparently a rumor started by mall workers who had seen him there then when he quit appearing – because he had left the area – they thought he had been banned. Bear in mind that this was during the time when Roy Moore was engaged in a bitter dispute with local attorneys and a campaign for county judge, which he ended up losing, and there was a lot of animosity against him. There can be no doubt that a lot of stories were being spread about him by his opponents (just as there are now.) Some Gadsden residents claim that Moore had a reputation for trying to pick up teenage girls at the mall, but no woman has come forward claiming he tried to pick her up except the one woman who worked in a store, and she was in her twenties. A former police officer, a woman, told a TV commentator that while there were rumors about Moore, no one ever made a complaint. She said it “was all rumor.” There is also the question of whether Moore was even going to the mall at all because at the time residents claim he was, he was engaged in building his house when he wasn’t at work as a prosecuting attorney. (This raises another issue – the kids no doubt knew that if they got in trouble, Moore would prosecute them.) Moore was living in a mobile home on sixteen acres of land he had purchased in Gallant, a small rural community some 15 miles west of Gadsden. Gallant is one of those places “you can’t get to from here,” By road, the distance appears to have been at least 25 miles just to Gadsden and the Gadsden Mall is south of town and even further from Moore’s home. Considering that he was busy building his house, it’s doubtful he’d have had time to spend at the mall.

There are some things about the current controversy that really upset me. Certain segments of the media and some politicians are branding Judge Moore as a “pedophile” and “child molester.” In fact, even if the stories about him were true, Moore would not be a pedophile. Pedophilia is sexual attraction to prepubescent children. None of the women who have made claims regarding Judge Moore were prepubescent. Even Leigh Corfman, the youngest, was older than fourteen and even if she was below the age of consent (to engage in sexual intercourse, which neither she or any of the other women have claimed occurred), she was still an adolescent and no longer a child. Pundits also refer to Moore as a “sexual predator” when, in fact, no sex is alleged to have occurred. Nelson claims Moore forced her head to his crotch but then says he “gave up” and let her go – and her account isn’t even believed by some of her own family members and friends. Critics also insinuate that the fact that Moore went out on dates with women still in their teens is somehow sordid. In fact, romantic relationships between older men and teenage women has been common throughout history. Texas Governor Sam Houston married Margaret Lea when she was 21 and he was 47; they had been romantically involved for 2 years before their marriage. Abraham Lincoln was nine years older than his wife Mary Todd. Mark Twain was ten years older than his wife Olivia. When my parents married in January 1943, my mother had just turned 19 and my father was a few weeks short of his thirtieth birthday. I have a photograph of my great-grandfather, a Methodist preacher, taken with his daughter on her wedding day – she was thirteen and entering a marriage that would last for more than half a century. I myself am almost twenty years older than my current wife – we’ve been married for seventeen years – and I was six years older than my first wife, to whom I was married for eighteen years. No, relationships between women and men many years older than they are is not at all uncommon. In fact, many girls are married in their early to mid teens, usually to men several years older than themselves.

Something also needs to be understood about the time frame of the allegations. The 1970s and 1980s were a turbulent and confusing time for young people. The so-called “Sexual Revolution” had started in the 1960s (or before) and was in full swing through the 1970s and into the 1980s. It was a permissive time, with sex as the focal point. Movies included sex scenes that wouldn’t have been thought of a generation before. Abortion became legal in 1973 and birth control was becoming common. Drug use had become rampant, with young people whose parents had thought beer was exciting smoking pot and taking other, more powerful, illicit drugs to get high. Leigh Corfman has admitted to having been a drug user – and promiscuous – as a teenager.

Roy Moore, on the other hand, had become a devout Christian at a young age then after graduating from high school had gone off to the US Military Academy at West Point, New York where he spent four years in a generally isolated, heavily disciplined environment. After graduation, he went to Germany for two years then straight to Vietnam, where the US was in the process of disengaging from a war that had become unpopular and where the remaining troops had become an undisciplined rabble. Although he had been an infantry officer, in Vietnam the young Captain Moore was put in command of a company of military police whose duties were to guard the stockade at Da Nang. Even though they were supposed to be in charge of disciplining miscreant soldiers, the men of Moore’s company were ill disciplined and resentful of him because he sought to restore the discipline he found lacking. His men resented him and he was fearful of being “fragged,” a practice that had become all too common in Vietnam. “Fragging” meant tossing a fragmentation grenade into the hooch of a hated officer or sergeant. One of Moore’s men fragged the company top sergeant but, fortunately, the man lived and recovered from his wounds. The culprit had announced that he was going to frag Moore, leading the captain to sleep outside of his hooch. There are rumors being spread about Judge Moore’s conduct as an Army officer. One claim is that he made his men salute, and thus violated a military precept about saluting when in the presence of the enemy. Well, Moore’s company wasn’t in the presence of the enemy. He was commander of a rear area MP company in charge of the stockade. Saluting is a military courtesy and, yes, soldiers, sailors and airmen saluted officers in rear areas such as Da Nang. How do I know this? Because I spent over four years of my life of which a good portion was in South Vietnam. After returning to an assignment at Fort Riley, Kansas, the young officer served out his military commitment then resigned his commission and returned to Alabama where he enrolled at the University of Alabama School of Law. Fresh out of the Army and a Vietnam veteran, Moore found himself among a crowd that had protested the war and hated the military, and the veterans who had served. His professors and some of his classmates ridiculed him. Nevertheless, he graduated and passed the bar, apparently on the first try, then returned to his home in Etowah County to practice law.

Just what Roy Moore’s relationships with women had been during his years at West Point and in the Army are unknown. He doesn’t discuss relationships with any women prior to his wife in his memoir. He did have female friends when he was in law school but whether or not he was close to any of them is unknown. He came back to the Gadsden area after having been away for twelve years. His female high school friends had most likely married or moved away, as is common in small towns and rural areas. He was thirty years old and it’s doubtful there were any single women around town his age so, naturally, his attention would have been directed towards younger women, some of whom were in their teens. Another Gadsden attorney believes he was behind in social development. However, it is a long stretch to say that he “preyed” on teenagers even though he apparently did go out on dates with at least two women in their late teens. However, there is nothing illegal about this as the age of consent in Alabama was sixteen. Moore says that he never went out with a young woman without her parent’s approval. Moore has been criticized for going to high school basketball games but it’s important to remember that he had four younger brothers and sisters as well as other younger relatives. Furthermore, except for Corfman and Nelson, neither of whom mention the mall, no women have accused Moore of sexual impropriety. If he was hanging out at the mall to prey on teenagers, there would have been accusations.

The rumor that Moore was “banned from the mall” is likely due to him leaving the Gadsden area after his loss in the Democratic Primary for the circuit judge position. In those days, primaries were usually held in August. He says he entered the race in June 1982. He had resigned from his position as deputy district attorney and the campaign had caused most of the local attorneys and judges to turn against him. He decided to take a break. While at West Point, Moore had taken up boxing and had lettered in the sport. He organized a boxing tournament in his company in Vietnam and took on all-comers, and won most of the bouts. He was interested in the Oriental sport, karate and decided to take his remaining funds and travel to Galveston, Texas to study the sport under Ishmael Robles, a champion competitor and instructor. He found work on construction crews to support himself while he spent nine months studying the sport. (He entered competitions after he returned to Alabama and seems to have won many of them.) After working his way through the various belts, he decided to leave Galveston and the country and travel to Australia. He had planned to go there on R&R from Vietnam but because his unit was transferred back to the States as part of President Richard Nixon’s de-escalation of the war, R&R trips to Australia were discontinued. Moore spent a year in Australia traveling around and working, including several months on a “small” 52,000-acre station (ranch) in the Australian Outback. The rancher’s daughter, who was sixteen when Moore lived with the family, says she was “very close” to him nd that he never disrespected her. Local kids who hung out at the mall didn’t see Moore, not because he had been banned, but because he had left the area. In 1985, Moore returned to Alabama and opened his own office with another attorney and friend. Soon after his return, he met his future wife and was married within a year. He was 38, his new wife Kala was 24.

One thing that has disgusted me is how certain “establishment” Republicans jumped all over Judge Moore without even considering that the accusations against him are politically motivated. I used to live in Kentucky and met Mitch McConnell a few times. I used to hold him in high regard, as I did John McCain, but they’re both disappointments, as is Lindsay Graham. McConnell and Graham are both Baptists, as is Judge Moore, but they seem to be Sunday morning Christians rather than true believers. Ted Cruz, who is a hypocrite if there ever was one, also came out against Moore. My other Senator, John Cornyn, withdrew his endorsement of Judge Moore. Personally, I am very upset with these men, all of whom seem to be more concerned with keeping Moore out of the Senate than with giving him the benefit of the doubt in what is obviously a politically motivated action against him. They were eager to throw him to the wolves, but as he’s been doing all his life, Judge Moore is not going down. The most recent poll, of more than 11,000 people, shows him with a 6-point lead over his opponent in spite of the allegations.

There has been a new development in this situation. Since I began this missive, Moore’s Democratic opponent has been running an online ad calling Moore an “abuser” and listing the names of the nine women who have made claims about him. Since the women would have had to approve the use of their names, this ad proves that their claims are political. They have shown themselves as political whores.

 

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Body Bags and Aluminum Coffins

IMG_0113After I published my article the Red Blood of Patriots, one of my friends commented that “these stories need to be told.” In that article I wrote an experience I had one night when my C-130 crew was diverted to an emergency air evacuation mission out of Dong Ha. There is another side to that story, and the story of the Vietnam experience as a whole, and this is my attempt to tell it – the transporting of the dead.

As a boy, I was not fond of graveyards and didn’t want to be around dead people. I was exposed to a graveyard every day at Lavinia School because the local cemetery was adjacent to the school yard. Some of my ancestors are buried there but it still bothered me. As for the dead, I once feigned sickness to avoid going to the funeral of a man I knew well and respected. Fortunately, there weren’t a lot of funerals in my family and circle of acquaintances although I did lose a few friends, one to a tragic accident when a hole he and some friends were digging into the side of a gulley fell in on him, a girl to leukemia and a boy who was hit by a car. I didn’t go to any of their funerals. As for graveyards, I finally got up enough nerve to wander through the cemetery at the church on the other side of the woods bordering our property and look at the old tombstones, but I was older by then. All of that changed for me, along with a lot of other things, in Vietnam.

The Air Force had two terms for the dead. Those who were killed on the battlefield or died of wounds were referred to as KIAs before they were transported to a mortuary. After they had been embalmed or processed – there were many who couldn’t be embalmed – they were called human remains. KIAs were transported in olive drab rubber battle bags; human remains in aluminum shipping coffins. I saw a lot of both.

I don’t remember the first time I transported a KIA in a body bag. It was sometime in the fall of 1965 when my squadron was TDY to Mactan, a tiny island ofnd f of the Philippines island of Cebu, from our home base, Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina. I know I was traumatized, which is probably why I don’t remember it. I no doubt picked it up at some airfield and carried it to either Da Nang or Saigon where the US had mortuaries. Originally, there was only one and it was operated by the Air Force at Tan Son Nhut but as the US role changed to ground combat, a second was established at Da Nang. I don’t believe the Da Nang mortuary was open yet because the first body bag I remember came out of there and went to Saigon. The flight wasn’t memorable because of the body bag, it was memorable because I also had a Vietnamese coffin on board and the deceased’s grieving young widow accompanied it. Vietnamese coffins were made of aluminum and weren’t that well made. Vietnamese undertakers put bodies in coffins partially filled with sand or something, and the bodily fluids tended to leak. When we got to Saigon, the US Graves Registration ambulance was there to meet us but the South Vietnamese were nowhere to be seen. The girl – she was around 19 or 20 – became hysterical while we were waiting and started trying to open the coffin. I was about ready to pull my .38 but she finally calmed down.

There was one flight with a body bag – it may have been the one with the grieving widow – I remember because I had become so used to carrying them that I sat on a nylon seat in the back of the airplane next to the litter with the body bag and ate my flight lunch.

My crew went back to Pope a few days before Christmas and I went on leave. When I got back, I learned I had overseas orders. I was going to Naha, Okinawa. I knew it meant more Vietnam flying. I got to Naha on a blustery Monday evening in February. The following Sunday I went to the newly opened air base at Cam Ranh Bay on a special mission for two weeks of flying in South Vietnam. I was flying with an instructor loadmaster because this was my first flight in the C-130A – I had been flying C-130Es and there were some minor differences so I had to be signed-off. We shuttled ammunition from Cam Ranh to Ban Me Thout and Tuy Hoa in support of a large operation. One morning we had a passenger on a sortie to Ban Me Thout. Although passengers were not normally allowed on flights with Class A ammunition, a waiver had been issued. The passenger was an Army Specialist Sixth Class. I remember what he looked like – he had dark hair and was wearing dark-rimmed military issue glasses – but I didn’t talk to him much. We dropped him off with the load and went back to Cam Ranh for another. That afternoon, we went back to Ban Me Thout. The ground radio operator – we called the forward field operations Transport Movement Detachments or TMD at that time – advised us that we’d be carrying a KIA on the outbound flight. By this time, I’d hauled quite a few KIAs and was used to the sight of body bags. The air freight guys brought the litter on and put it down at the front of the airplane and I wrapped straps around each end and ratcheted them down. As we were taxiing out, George, my instructor, said on the interphone that the KIA was the same Spec 6 we had brought in that morning. Now, I don’t know it if was or not. I do know that Spec 6s were not that common.

For the next 18 months I spent most of my time in either South Vietnam or Thailand. I have no idea how many I carried, but KIAs in body bags and South Vietnamese aluminum coffins were common. Fortunately, the number of Vietnamese coffins declined. I’m not sure why, but I believe there was some kind of policy change and that Vietnamese became responsible for transporting their own dead. It was fine with me. We didn’t have KIAs on every flight or even on most of them, but it was common to go into an airfield and take a KIA or two out. Since the KIAs were going to Saigon and our operating base was Cam Ranh Bay, we probably didn’t carry as many as the crews operating out of Tan Son Nhut did.

One night I was on a mission to Pleiku, a large base in the Central Highlands. An Army Chinook helicopter that crashed there the day before. On the way in, we were advised by the ALCE (the name of the Transport Movement Detachments had been changed) that we were carrying the remains. The helicopter had exploded. We came out of Pleiku with the remains of five men in a single body bag. Everything Graves Registration could find was lumped together. There was about a 5-pound lump inside the bag, and there was the odor of a meat market in the air. I’ve never forgotten that smell.

My four year enlistment was up at the end of my tour at Naha but I decided to reenlist. Believe it or not, my job as a loadmaster was a decent job. My new assignment was to a Military Airlift Command squadron based at Robins AFB, Georgia. The squadron’s primary mission was transporting nuclear weapons and they were in the process of transitioning out of Korean War vintage C-124’s to brand new Lockheed C-141s. The C-141 was essentially a jet version of the turboprop C-130, but it was longer and could carry ten pallets of cargo while the C-130 carried six. Our mission was transporting nukes and I flew nuke missions but we also flew Military Airlift Command “channel traffic” missions, and most of them went to Southeast Asia. We often had human remains as our cargo on the way back.

MAC used the crew stage system. Instead of keeping the same airplane all the way to our destination and back home, we flew different airplanes in stages. We’d take a squadron airplane from Robins to an onload point, usually Dover, Delaware, then proceed to Elmendorf AFB, Alaska where we’d surrender the airplane to another crew and enter the stage. After crew rest of some 15 hours, we’d pick up another airplane and take it to the next stage point at Yokota AFB, Japan. We’d crew rest then take another airplane on to its cargo’s destination, usually an airfield in either South Vietnam or Thailand. Most went to one of three airfields in South Vietnam – Cam Ranh Bay, Da Nang and Tan Son Nhut at Saigon. We’d then go to our next crew rest stop at Kadena AB, Okinawa. From Kadena we went to Elmendorf. After Elmendorf we’d take an airplane to it’s home base, hopefully to Robins but as often as not we’d go to one of a number of MAC bases on the East Coast then catch a scheduled shuttle back to our home base. Airplanes coming out of South Vietnam often came out empty, but those that went to Saigon as often as not came out with a load of human remains.

In the Vietnam years, human remains were transported without ceremony. There were no flag-draped coffins and no escorting officers. Human remains were considered to be cargo and were handled as such, with certain conditions. Air Force policy was that human remains were always loaded in the airplane headfirst and they were loaded so they’d be the last item on the airplane to be jettisoned. (I never heard of a C-141 crew ever jettisoning anything.) I believe there was a MAC policy that only three coffins could be loaded on a single pallet and they could be stacked no more than three coffins high. These coffins were not typical coffins. In fact, they were actually shipping containers and they were virtually identical to other shipping containers used for other items. The only way to know they were for human remains was – well, there really wasn’t a way. I suppose they were all unpainted aluminum. The name of the person’s whose remains were in the container were recorded on documents contained inside a plug on the end of the container.

Human remains went to one of two places, Travis Air Force Base, California or Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. That’s where the two military mortuaries were (and still are) located. Since we were East Coast, any human remains we carried were Dover bound. I was later based at Dover and remember the building well. It was a non-descript facility located by itself just off the flight line. Military morticians removed the remains from the aluminum coffins and placed them in cardboard containers for shipment to mortuaries near the deceased’s home. They were then transported to Philadelphia International and turned over to the airlines. A special unit at Dover provided escorting officers and enlisted men to accompany the remains.

We could pick up an airplane with remains anywhere from Saigon to Elmendorf. I don’t remember going into Saigon and picking up remains myself, but I do remember getting airplanes at Kadena with remains. We’d try to get a Robins airplane at Elmendorf but sometimes we’d get a Dover airplane and take it to its home base, and they sometimes were loaded with remains. Now, most of the time, there were only a few remains on board, anywhere from one or two to a dozen. There were times, however, when we got on an airplane and learned that it was practically full. Since number one pallet position was normally kept open, a full airplane would have eight pallets (human remains weren’t loaded in the last pallet because it sat at a slight angle on the ramp.) Each pallet would be loaded with up to nine containers, a total of 72. During the 1968 Tet Offensive, we often had several pallets of nine on board.

Some of the other crewmembers were distressed because of the remains we carried. It didn’t bother me. We were carrying processed remains of men who had been embalmed and prepared for shipment. The only odor was of embalming fluid; it smelled a bit like a funeral home. I had carried so many KIAs in Vietnam that I’d become desensitized to them. I was about to get another dose.

I’d only been at Robins for a year when a message came in that I was going back overseas. I was going back to C-130s, but this time I’d be at Clark AB, Philippines on the C-130B. I knew that the B-models had been bearing the brunt of forward field operations. The message came in toward the end of September but the squadron managed to get a waiver for C-130 training because I had previous experience so I didn’t have to depart until the end of November. I reported to my new squadron at Clark in February 1969. I was twenty-three years old and had been in the Air Force for six years, and had almost five years flying experience. The war had changed during the time I was at Robins. Conditions were worsening when I left Naha. The intensity of combat had peaked the previous year but it was still high, and US forces were still taking heavy casualties. We were flying into forward airfields like the one shown above, which I believe is Bu Dop. Bu Dop was one of about half a dozen airfields along the Cambodian border that we frequented, as in nearly every day we flew.

We didn’t pick up KIAs every time we went into a forward field but we did often enough. I remember one conversation with a young airman who had come over from Robins with me. He was having trouble dealing with carrying KIAs. I told him to not think about them as dead soldiers, that what we were carrying was what was left after the soul departed. (I believe I referred to the remains as pieces of shit, since vulgarity was common in the military. After I said it, I wished I’d used a different term.) That must be how I dealt with it because I have no problems from carrying so many dead, but I know men who do.

The most pathetic KIA I ever carried was the body of a young nurse. The girl had been killed in a communist sapper attack on a military hospital. There is a discrepancy in my recollections and the records shown on the Internet of women killed in Vietnam. Only one woman is shown as having died as a result of enemy action. First Lieutenant Sharon Case was killed on June 8, 1969 at Chu Lai. My recollection is that the girl whose remains I carried was killed at Cam Ranh during an attack on the Army 6th Convalescent Center on Thursday, August 7, 1969. The convalescent center was just up the beach from Herky Hill where we stayed when we were at Cam Ranh. The flight engineer and I were in bed in our quarters when we heard the sound of explosions. We went out on the balcony of our barracks and saw the fires burning and heard firing at the Army facility. Helicopters were flying low over us. The next morning, as I was on my way in to C-130 Operations, I ran into Fred Sowell, one of the detachment loadmasters who was assigned permanently at Cam Ranh. Fred told me that a nurse had been killed the night before and I was taking her body to Saigon. He said her body was in a refrigerated CONEX container.

I went on out to the airplane to preflight and check the load. A little while later, an aerial port truck came out with the body bag. He back up to the crew entrance door and we brought the litter in through it and I tied it down. God only knows how many KIAs I’d carried by this time – there were dozens and perhaps even hundreds. This one was different. The body in that bag was that of a young American girl, the object of every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine’s eye. The aerial port people, the airplane’s ground crew and the rest of my crew all came to take a look. I looked at the name tag, which was something I rarely do. I did not unzip the bag to take a look – I never did that. The girl’s name came out in Stars and Stripes a couple of days later.

Now, I am almost positive that the body of the nurse I carried was of someone other than Lt. Lane. Lt. Lane was killed on June 8, a Sunday. I am pretty sure that was the day I departed Clark for my first shuttle with my new crew. I know I had been in country in late May and early June to check out on the delivery of the M-121 bomb (that’s another story). We were still in country on June 23 when another significant accident occurred and we left for Clark the next day. The only explanation I can think of is that the death of the nurse was classified because Cam Ranh was supposed to be a secure base and her name somehow slipped through the cracks. Some would say, “people would have known.” Actually, the only reason I knew a nurse was killed was because I carried her body. The attack occurred at 1:00 AM and we took off for Saigon with the body around seven hours later. Graves Registration had taken the body and transported it to the aerial port on the West Ramp and it was put in a CONEX until it was brought out to our airplane. One reason I don’t believe the nurse was Sharon Lane was because I’m certain Fred Sowell told me about her death and that I would be carrying her body. Fred took a consecutive overseas tour to Clark and got there just before I left to go back to the States. I left in late July or early August, which means Fred wasn’t at Cam Ranh in June.

I have no idea how many KIAs I carried in some 40 months of flying in South Vietnam (I wasn’t in South Vietnam all the time, but spent much of those months at either Cam Ranh or Saigon. Nor do I know how many human remains I transported in a year on C-141s. All I know is there were a lot of them.

Before I close this, let me mention that there are myths about the dead from Vietnam. A common expression is that a soldier might “go home in a body bag.” That did not happen. KIAs were transported to one of the two mortuaries where they were embalmed and prepared for shipment. If they couldn’t be embalmed, they were processed as best as the military morticians could. They were then shipped to the States in an aluminum shipping container. Another myth is that a buddy accompanied a body home. This is ridiculous because units couldn’t spare men for such duty. Escorts came from units at the mortuaries and were “professional escorts” if you will. I only remember one passenger during my year in C-141s who was escorting a body to the States. I’ve forgotten the details, other than that he was a young Marine and the body was either a buddy who had made some kind of special request or was a family member. I’ve also seen claims by sailors that they transported bodies on ships. Nope – all remains were turned over to the Air Force and transported by air, first by Military Air Transport Service, or MATS, then by Military Airlift Command, MATS’ successor.

Records exist of 58,300 men (and a handful of women) who died in Southeast Asia. It’s not unreasonable to estimate that I transported the remains of some 200-300 of them, either as KIAs in South Vietnam or as human remains on C-141s.

 

 

Red Blood of Patriots

Dong Ha Takeoff (2)

This morning as I was watching coverage of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, I was keeping track of Twitter. In his speech, President Trump spoke this line – “It is time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget: that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American Flag.” Immediately after he said it ,  Conservative, Inc. writer John Podhoretz, who has a reputation for arrogance, tweeted that traitors have red blood too, which is true enough but the way he said it really pissed me off. The president’s line reminded me of my own experience with red, American blood, although it was Podhoretz’ comment that caused me to dwell on it for some time. I know exactly what the blood of our armed forces, whether patriot or not, looks like after it has been spilled.

During the late Southeast Asian unpleasantness, I was an Air Force flight crewmember, a loadmaster assigned to squadrons that flew the now-famous, but not so much then, Lockheed C-130 Hercules. It was sometime in the spring of 1967. I was nearing the end of my tour. A year before, I was flying on missions over North Vietnam and Laos dropping flares for fighters to attack trucks bringing supplies south to the communists who were seeking to overthrow the government of South Vietnam. I had returned to routine transport flying, or hauling trash, as we were beginning to call it. Our flying really was routine – hauling troops and cargo, but mostly cargo, around South Vietnam and Thailand. We were physically based at Naha, Okinawa but we’d go TDY for sixteen days at a time to either Cam Ranh Bay in South Vietnam or Bangkok, Thailand to fly airlift missions. We called the stints “shuttles.” We’d take off early on our first day in country, then start later and later each day until we were flying mainly night missions, then we’d have a day off and start over again on the day missions. After two weeks, we’d go home for a few days then come back and do it all over again.

On this particular shuttle, I was flying with Captain Tom McQuaide, an experienced C-130 pilot who had come to our squadron from a Tactical Air Command C-130 squadron at Lockbourne AFB, Ohio. Some of our pilots had come from other commands and other aircraft types, and were restricted to airfields with runways at least 4,000 feet long because of several prop-reversal accidents involving the C-130As we were flying. Flying with them truly was routine but when flying with an experienced C-130 pilot like Captain McQuaide, we got into the short, unimproved airfields out in the boondocks where the war was. (We actually got shot at no matter what airfield we went to – one night after landing at Tan Son Nhut, the huge airport at Saigon, the air freight people who met us told me they’d watch us come in and that we’d been trailed by tracer bullets.)

We were a little over half-way through our two weeks of flying. We took off for our first sortie late in the afternoon and had then gone to night missions, which usually involved moving backlog cargo out of Cam Ranh to the major airfields around South Vietnam, particularly Qui Nhon. We went north to Da Nang for the last part of our mission and after dropping off our load, air freight brought out a stack of five empty pallets – we were required to always have five pallets on the airplane to insure a supply of pallets in the country – and were supposed to take off and fly south to Qui Nhon to pick up cargo for Cam Ranh. When we reached Cam Ranh, we’d be finished for the night. I had just finished chaining the empties to the ramp when a dispatch truck drove up to the back of the open ramp. The driver stuck his head out of the window and informed me that our mission had been changed – we were being diverted to a combat emergency air evacuation mission to Dong Ha. Combat emergency was the highest priority for airlift missions in Southeast Asia. My adrenaline started pumping just at the words.

I was well-acquainted with Dong Ha. I took the above picture there in the fall of 1965 when I was at a tiny island in the Philippines called Macton on temporary duty from Pope AFB, North Carolina. We took a hit that day, although we didn’t know it until we got back to Mactan. Miraculously, it was only one of two hits I took in more than 1,200 combat sorties although we got shot at on nearly every flight. I had flown air evac missions before, but not a CE. In fact, although air evac was one of our missions, we rarely flew them because Army and Marine helicopters usually flew wounded men to rear area hospitals. As the dispatcher was pulling away, a forklift came up to  remove the forklift. As soon as the pallets were removed, I went to the front of the airplane and got the emergency escape ladder and installed it just behind the wing – the ladder was part of the litter system. Then another truck pulled up and the air evac crew got out, a nurse and two enlisted medical technicians. The nurse was male – only male nurses were assigned to combat missions. They loaded their equipment on the airplane and got on.

The nurse, a lieutenant, told me that Dong Ha was under attack and that a Marine had been hit in the head. We were to pick him up and bring him back to Da Nang, hopefully in time for emergency surgery to save his life. Casualties were mounting and there were other wounded, some in litters and some walking, and we would be bringing them back as well because the field hospital at Dong Ha was running out of space. After engine start, I continued setting up litter stanchions and dropping the straps from the ceiling that served to secure one side of each litter. We continued rigging stanchions and dropping straps while we taxied out and took off. Each stanchion had steps that could be dropped down so someone could climb up and reach the straps – since it was my airplane, that someone was me. The medical crew and I also dropped the nylon seats on the sides to have them available for walking wounded.

The flight wasn’t that long, not more than twenty minutes at most. Dong Ha was about 50 miles northwest of Da Nang. It sat right on the Demilitarized Zone. On the other side was North Vietnam. When I went in there the first time in the fall of 1965, there was nothing much there but since then, the Marines had moved in and made it a major base. Navy Seabees had laid 2,900 feet of pierced-aluminum planking on the dirt runway, making it an “all-weather” runway. C-130s went in there every day, but not normally at night.  North Vietnamese troops probed the base nearly every night; it was considered too dangerous for routine missions at night.

The firefight was still going on right off the runway when we landed. The guys in the cockpit saw the green and red tracers flying back and forth. I didn’t see them. I was too busy in the back. I was so pumped up on adrenaline that I went outside and started opening the doors that covered the gas turbine compressor, the auxiliary power unit that provided power when the engines weren’t running with the #2 propeller still coasting down. As soon as I got the rear ramp opened, Navy ambulances began arriving with the wounded Marines. The number had increased drastically since we left Da Nang a half hour before. I don’t recall the exact number but there were around a dozen or so men in litters and around twice that many walking wounded. I remember noticing that none of the men were black. I noticed this because civil rights leaders in the US, particularly Martin Luther King, were claiming that blacks were being killed and wounded at rates far in excess of their numbers.

The men had received only minimal medical care and many were bloody and still bleeding. In addition to the Marine with the head wound for which we had initially been sent out, there was at least one other patient whose life was in danger. While the medical crew took care of the litter patients, I helped the walking wounded settle into their seats and fasten their seatbelts. Now, I had always thought I was squeamish; Vietnam proved that I’m not. The men were all bloody but they seemed lucid enough. Once all of the patients were loaded, we fired up the four engines. When the flight engineer switched power from one generator to another, there was a momentary power loss. A huge sigh of dismay went up from the patients. The loss was only momentary and the airplane was only dark for a couple of seconds. Captain McQuaide took off right over the firefight. He reckoned it was safer than taxiing to that end of the runway and then turning around, and exposing the airplane to AK-47 fire in the process. By taking off over them, we’d only be in range for a few seconds. As far as I know, we took no hits.

There wasn’t anything I could do once we were airborne but keep watch on everybody. The medics and the nurse were tending to the litter patients. They were cleaning their wounds and nipping away pieces of flesh, although I didn’t notice it at the time as they were in the back of the cargo compartment and I was sitting in the first seat aft of the entrance door at the front. The nurse was devoting his attention to the Marine with the head wound. He looked up then started walking toward me. I knew the Marine was dead. He told me to ask the navigator for our coordinates so he could put it in the death certificate. He told me not to say anything to the other wounded. He left the dead Marine’s head uncovered. I felt very deflated.

We continued to Da Nang. We taxied to the ramp and were met by a blue Air Force ambulance/bus. They are large busses that had been configured with litter stanchions in the back and seats in the front. More medical personnel were with them. I stood by the dead Marine while the medical crew offloaded the litters and the walking wounded filed by. The nurse had put me there to try to keep the other Marines from realizing he had died. It didn’t work. The other litter patients had been offloaded and the one litter remained in place. The walking wounded had to go right by it and they realized something was wrong.

The bus pulled away and the medical crew got their stuff and went with it, leaving me with the dead Marine. Because we were only a few minutes out when the copilot called and advised that we needed Graves Registration, it was some time before they arrived to take the body. The nurse had given me the paperwork recording the man’s death. I didn’t cover up his head. I looked at him and thought to myself, “What a waste.” I wondered about him. He had the rough face of a coal miner or a football player. I wondered if he might be from Pennsylvania. I didn’t have a clue how old he was. I was twenty-one myself. He could have been older or he could have been nineteen for all I knew. One of the officers, I think it was Capt. McQuaide, came back to where I was keeping watch over the dead Marine and kept me company until Graves Registration finally came out in their olive drab ambulance to pick up the body, or KIA as they are referred to in the military, or were before the military became “sensitive.” After they left, I went outside to keep watch on the engines during engine start then came back inside and closed the ramp. Once the engines were started, I went to work stowing the litter straps and moving the stanchions to their stowage at the front of the cargo compartment.

It was after I had put everything away that I realized that our airplane looked like an operating room after multiple surgeries. Normally, I would sweep the floor and put the dirt in the trash can that was part of every airplane’s extra equipment. We were on our way back to Cam Ranh empty as we had already exceeded our crew duty day. I called Captain McQuaide on the intercom and told him we were going to need a firetruck. I’d never called for one before but had heard of others doing it. The floor was covered with blood but there were also pieces of flesh where the nurse had snipped them off of the wounds. The only way to clean it up was to wash it out.

By the time we landed at Cam Ranh, the sun was up. There was no firetruck but there was a water truck waiting for us. We pulled into our parking spot and shut down the engines. The maintenance dispatcher’s truck pulled up and the airplane’s crew chief got out. He bounded up the steps and took one look at his airplane, then turned around with his hand over his mouth and ran back down the steps, then started retching. The water truck driver took one look then handed me the hose and left. The officers and flight engineer had all left. It was just me, a water hose and a bloody, gory airplane. I started washing. The water mixed with the blood and turned red.

I grew up in West Tennessee about 75 miles from Shiloh Battlefield where one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War was fought. I’d been there once on a field trip when I was in elementary school. One of the features on the park is a pond called The Bloody Pond. According to local tradition, the waters of the pond turned red with the blood of the wounded soldiers, Confederate and Federal, who went there to drink and wash their wounds. As I washed the blood and gore out of the airplane that was now being returned to its crew chief, the bloody water reminded me of that pond.

Now, I don’t know if those young Marines considered themselves to be patriots or not. Seriously, I doubt that they did. Patriotism was not something young soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines talked about in those days. I’m sure they were volunteers, at least most probably were. Draftees only went into the Army as a rule, although the Marine Corps had started accepting them due to the lack of volunteers in a country where the youth were becoming violently “anti-war” and pro-Viet Cong. Nevertheless, we were serving our country, no matter our motivations – and we all bled red.

What upset me about Podhoretz’ Tweet is that he’s never seen anyone shed blood for their country and never will. He, along with the rest of the Conservative, Inc. crowd are good at using the word processor as a weapon but none of them will ever hear a shot fired in anger. They’re all talk. As for “traitors,” a traitor is a patriot to the country he or she supports. We all bleed red.

“Intelligence” or Supposition?

I’ve not posted anything in awhile because so much has been going on I’ve not decided which to talk about. Now that the so-called “intelligence community” is making waves about “The Russians” and Julian Assange is saying essentially that they’re full of shit, I’ve decided to talk about government intelligence. I’ll preface this by stating that in 12 years in the Air Force I had a few intelligence briefings and did some things that weren’t talked about.

Let me start this off by saying that the term “seventeen intelligence agencies” used by Hillary Clinton in her claim that these agencies had determined the information published on WikiLeaks came from “the Russians” is a misnomer. There are actually only two intelligence agencies, the CIA and the DIA, but there are fifteen organizations that have intelligence-collecting arms that report to the Director of Intelligence in some form or fashion. These organizations use the term “intelligence” but their role is actually the gathering of information from other countries by spying. In short, the “intelligence community” is a euphemism for America’s spies. Take a look at the list at the link above to see who they are and, to some extent, what they do.

Intelligence is collected in a number of ways. Some are sophisticated electronic intelligence gathering methods using airborne, seaborne and ground stations to record radio communications and other means of electronics communications of foreign governments. Others are as simple as eavesdropping on conversations in hotel bars or reading newspapers. The CIA uses foreign intelligence sources including paid informants who may be anything from a janitor in a foreign government building to high-placed government officials who are passing on their government’s secrets to US agents, for an often sizeable fee. Such information may or may not be accurate.

The problem is that the “intelligence community,” meaning Director of Intelligence James Clapper, a retired USAF general and Barack Obama, claim that the Emails published several months ago by Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks were hacked and leaked by “the Russians.” Assange says the information did not come from the Russians, which has caused a big uproar in Washington. Craig Murray, a British politician and former diplomat, has said he picked up the document in Washington, DC and turned them over to Assange. (Assange, who has promised never to reveal sources, has said Murray doesn’t speak for WikiLeaks.) Clapper’s claim seems to be based on information provided by CrowdStrike, a private cybersecurity firm employed by the Democratic National Committee.

Now, “intelligence” is one thing, but drawing the correct conclusion is another. Each of the intelligence organizations employs large number of “analysts” whose job is to look at the information that has been gleaned from various sources and come up with some kind of report. Sometimes they get it right, but more often they don’t. One of the biggest intelligence failures in history was the Allied forces in Europe’s failure to detect the massive German attacks in Belgium that led to the “Battle of the Bulge.” General George Patton’s G-2 correctly reported that the Germans were building up their forces in the Ardennes but Eisenhower’s own G-2 ignored the report. Intelligence failed to predict the North Korean attacks on South Korea in 1950, intelligence failed to predict North Vietnamese attacks on South Vietnam in 1972, intelligence failed to predict the fall of the Soviet Union and intelligence claimed Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” when, in fact, all such weapons had been destroyed. In short, the intelligence community has been wrong about some of the most important events in recent history. If they’ve been wrong about so much, why believe them now?

What bothers me most about the current claims is that “the Russians” were blamed for the alleged hacks on the Democratic National Committee Email system as soon as they were released by WikiLeaks by the Clinton Campaign, then the White House backed her up. Those Emails contain devastating information that showed that certain DNC officials were manipulating the Democratic primaries to give Clinton an advantage over Bernie Sanders. The information was so devastating that DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was immediately fired. “The Russians” claim timing is very suspicious. A few days after the WikiLeaks revelation, a DNC employee named Seth Rich was mysteriously murdered. The murder has never been solved and some believe his death is connected to the leaks. Julian Assange hinted that Rich was one of his informants, and took the unprecedented step of offering a sizeable reward for information leading to the conviction of Rich’s killer.

There is something else that needs to be realized. Right after the CIA was established, the Agency initiated Project MOCKINGBIRD, a campaign to influence American public opinion. When the project was originally established, the goal was to promote opinion against communism. However, since then the CIA and other intelligence agencies have become more leftist in outlook. For example, current CIA director John Brennan is known to have voted for a Communist Party USA presidential candidate and to have voiced far left opinions.  Can he be trusted?

So, regardless of what the “intelligence community” claims about Russia and the election, just remember that no intelligence is conclusive and the US intelligence community, once called The Cult of Intelligence, can’t be trusted.

 

The Dawn of a Bright New Day

2016

I woke up this morning to a new day; a new day in terms of it being a new one in terms of the sun but also because it is a new day for this country. For the first time in recent memory, a non-politician has been elected president of the United States even though he was opposed by everyone from the political elites to the coyotes who charge desperate Latinos big bucks to smuggle them through Mexico and across the border into the United States – including all of the broadcast networks and apparently all of the cable channels, including FOX News, the New York Times, the Washington Post and most large newspapers. But all of those opposing him lost and Trump won.

The media pronounced Hillary queen several months ago, as soon as she declared her candidacy, actually, and “the polls” confirmed it – with three exceptions. Way out on the Left Coast there is a company known as the Rand Corporation, a little known company founded right after World War II by Douglas Aircraft to provide research information to what was then the Army Air Forces. Rand is essentially a high-powered think tank which, over the years, has been involved in numerous projects for the military, industry and health care. Prior to the 2012 election, Rand developed a new polling method. After conducting the poll themselves in 2012, Rand turned the project over to the University of Southern California’s Dornsife Understanding America Study. The Dornsife school conducted the poll this year for the Los Angeles Time. The Dornisfe poll consistently showed that the presidential race was much closer than other polls were showing it. So did the TIPP tracking poll, which only kicked in a couple of weeks before the election. Rasmussen was also showing a closer race. All three polls were discounted by the big name pollsters and the national media.

On the day before the election, I noticed two things that caused me to think that Trump had a chance. The first was that the Dornsife poll showed Trump with a 5-point lead while the TIPP poll showed him a 2 point lead. Rasmussen also showed Trump with a lead. On election day, the Dornsife had Trump favored by 3 points, TIPP remained at 2 while Rasmussen had dropped to -2 – most other polls showed Clinton leading by 3-5 points. I also noted that the Real Clear Politics web page was showing most of the “battleground states” as undecided, with their “no tossup” electoral college map showing Clinton with a less than 5-vote advantage over Trump. I knew that Trump had a good chance of winning the election. History now shows that I was right.

Things have changed. The next event will be Donald Trump picking his cabinet. Of course, the media is going to spin and speculate just as they’ve been doing ever since there was a hint that he might run. Consequently, we really don’t know that much about him because damn near everything published about him came straight from the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign. They fed information to the so-called journalists and they rushed it into print. According to them, Trump is a rich opportunist who likes to “abuse” women and never pays any taxes. Maybe he’s all of that but there’s a lot more to him. Now, I want to say that I have never been a Trump fan. I never watched his television shows and when some of my friends started pushing him to be the GOP nominee, I thought they were nuts. I early voted for Jeb Bush in the Texas primary but he withdrew from the race before the election so my vote didn’t matter. There’s no way I’m ever going to support Ted Cruz for anything. Once it became apparent that Trump was going to be the nominee, I started paying more attention and realized he was the best candidate of the field. If Trump had not been the nominee, I’m afraid Hillary would be crowing today instead of drowning her sorrows.

Criticism of Trump centers mostly around his views on ILLEGAL immigration. ILLEGAL is the key word here. Estimates of the numbers of illegal immigrants in the US vary, but regardless of how many are here, they are here ILLEGALLY, which means they are breaking the law, which calls for deportation. Since the vast majority of illegals in the US are Mexican, the law naturally comes down hard on Mexicans. Trump – correctly – stated that many of the Mexican immigrants are criminals, particularly rapists, and this is true. I live near Houston, Texas, which has the largest concentration of immigrants in the country, and there is definitely a fairly high crime rate among Mexicans, whether they’re legal or illegal. There’re shootings almost every day and there have been several incidents where Mexican immigrants have raped young girls, most of whom are also of Mexican origin. Are all Mexican immigrants criminals? The answer is obviously no but some are, and there’s no way to screen those who come here illegally.

Then there is the issue of Muslims. Contrary to what many seem to think, Trump has not called for deportation of Muslims. What he’s called for is a – temporary – moratorium on immigration of Muslims from areas where so-called “radical Islam” prevails. Such an action is, incidentally, a right of the Executive Branch. Contrary to the insinuations of the Khan man, immigrants who are not citizens have no rights and the Constitution does not address immigration at all. Immigrants are actually guests of the United States until they complete the citizenship process and become citizens and thus entitled to the rights of citizens as expressed in the Bill of Rights and other Constitutional amendments. Until that time, they are still citizens of whatever country they came from and have no Constitutional rights.

A lot of criticism has been directed at Trump over his announcement that he  will build a wall along the Mexican border. Now, the Mexican border runs from a few miles from Brownsville, Texas some 1,500 miles to just south of San Diego, California. The border with Texas is the Rio Grande River, which is so shallow in places a person can wade it – I’ve done so myself.  Just west of El Paso, the border becomes an imaginary line across the most desolate land on the North American continent. Those who wish to cross are required to do so at checkpoints run by both governments. However, the border is porous. Part of it is fenced but illegal immigrants cross practically at will. Some are caught, some die in the desert and some get through. Many are trucked to cities like Dallas and Houston.

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Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park – Mexico on the other side

Trump’s wall is not only doable, having a wall along the border would not only provide security against illegal crossings, it would serve to channel those who have the documentation to come here legally to an authorized crossing.

Trump critics like to accuse him of “racism,” but their logic is faulty. “Mexican” is a nationality, not a race, and Hispanic is both a language or a national origin. “Latino” is an invented term for people with a connection to “Latin America,” meaning anything south of the Mexican border with the United States. In reality, Mexicans are of European origin just like Americans. If not, they are Amerindian or mestizo, a Spanish term for people of mixed European and Amerindian ancestry. The ancestors of some Mexicans even came from the United States. Trump is also called a misogynist, which is a gross misuse of a term that means “hater of women.” Trump is anything but.

Some claim that Trump won’t be able to accomplish his goals because of opposition from Congress. Well, I’ve got news for you folks.  Every single member of the House of Representatives was just elected or reelected. Trump critics might want to take a look and see where those representatives came from. That’s right, the same people who voted for those Republican representatives voted for Trump. Members of Congress answer to those who sent them there, not to their political party or their financial supporters.  Trump won’t have any problem getting Congressional support for his programs. So what that he’s lacking in foreign policy experience? What president ever goes into office with such experience? That’s why presidents have cabinets and advisors, both civilian and military. It’s a new day. Hide and watch what happens!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember Harold Martin?

Last Friday, FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Republican members of Congress advising that the case against presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had been reopened because information had been found in “an unrelated case” that might pertain to the case. Now, this is earthshaking news that veteran reporter and Clinton biographer Carl Bernstein says can only be due to blockbuster information. (Bernstein has also said there’s “no way” it can be bigger than Watergate but then he has no knowledge of the information and doesn’t know what it contains.) Naturally, the Clinton campaign and Clinton are screaming foul and demanding “answers” even though the answer has been given – that Hillary Clinton is under criminal investigation. The New York Times came out and claimed that the information was found on a computer jointly used by former Congressman Anthony Weiner and his wife Huma Abedin, the Indian Muslim and former White House intern Clinton took under her wing back when her husband was doing the same thing with Monica Lewinsky. The Times and other news outlets, including FOX news have “confirmed” this information through “unidentified sources in the FBI”. While it is possible that the unrelated case is the Weiner case – he is being investigated for sending inappropriate texts to an underage female – there is another, more likely source.

On August 29, a National Security contractor named Harold Martin was arrested for possessing classified information. Martin, a US Navy veteran, possessed highly classified information dating back for two decades. Now, let’s think about the National Security Agency and what it does. Dating back to 1917, the NSA was chartered in its current form in 1952 by President Harry Truman. The documentation chartering the agency was (and still is) classified and the organization’s very existence was kept secret The NSA – often referred to as “No Such Agency” depends heavily on signals intelligence services in each of the military services. Until 1979, the Air Force, of which I was a part from 1963-1975, had the Air Force Security Service. The Army and Navy each had their own signals intelligence services/commands. The role of the AFSS was interception of foreign communications, particularly radio communications, using sophisticated listening equipment at remote sites around the world and onboard modified transport airplanes and bombers – the C-47, C-54, C-130 and C-135 and B-17 and B-29. Highly intelligent young airmen were selected to train as “Crypto” technicians through a battery of tests administered during basic training. (I was tested because I had taken Spanish in high school.) Those who were selected to train as linguists were placed in special programs that included two years at selected universities. Linguists and technicians were cleared at a level even higher than Top Secret, it was commonly referred to as a “Crypto” clearance but no one who didn’t have one really knew what it was called. I once met a young cook at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina who had cross-trained into the aircraft loadmaster field from crypto. Although he had a high security clearance, his job change required a new background check. He had recently been married and the background check revealed that his new wife had family connections in a communist country. He lost his clearance and was sent to the chow hall as a cook!

There is another side to the signals intelligence mission that is not generally known. It was whispered about within the military. It is the mission of protecting US secrets by monitoring communications of American officials and military personnel. The first time I ever heard it referred to officially was when I went on temporary duty to Kadena AB, Okinawa (I later went PCS to Naha, an airbase some 12 miles away.) We were told during our orientation that all telephone lines were monitored and we should be very careful about what we said on the telephone. The admonition was repeated when I reported for my permanent assignment at Naha several months later. There were signs on the wall by telephones reminding that calls were monitored. Several years after I left the military, I worked with an Army veteran who had served in the Army’s counterpart to the AFSS. He told me that his job was monitoring telephone lines, and how that he and his buddy had once monitored conversations between a high-ranking general and his mistress. I was reminded again of how the NSA and it’s military agencies monitor communications when my son entered his plebe year at the US Naval Academy. Shortly after he got there, he told me to be very careful what I said in Emails because their Emails were monitored.

Now, NSA monitoring of communications is conducted not only of military personnel, but also of Federal officials, including Congressmen, Senators and members of the Executive Branch with access to classified information. There is no doubt that Hillary Clinton’s communications were monitored throughout her term as Secretary of State and probably while she was a US Senator since she was a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and would have had access to classified information. Her communications may have also been monitored – and probably were – while she was Bill Clinton’s First Lady. It is highly likely, no, it is CERTAIN that Harold Martin’s trove includes Emails from and to Hillary Clinton.

Now, the question arises -if Hillary was discussing classified information on unofficial channels while she was SOS, why wasn’t she prosecuted? The answer is simple – while military personnel are subject to prosecution under the UCMJ, members of the Executive Branch are prosecuted in the Federal courts and any prosecution would have had to be initiated by the DOJ, which, like the SOS, is headed by a presidential appointee. Any information would have been “kept secret,” or covered up at the highest level.

What we’re seeing now is a struggle at the highest level, a struggle between Congress and the Executive Branch. We’ll see what happens.

The Military, Heroism and “Gold Star Families”

 

DFC                                    AirMedal

The current flap over Pakistani immigrant Khizr Khan’s appearance at the Democratic convention prompted me to write about something that’s been bugging me for a long time. There seems to be a belief that anyone who serves in the military is a hero, particularly those who’ve died, and some seem to think that family members of military members and of those who died while in military service are somehow deserving, although deserving of what I’m not sure.

In the summer of 1963 my dad signed a document granting permission for me to enlist in the United States Air Force. He – or my mother – had to sign it because my birthday is late in the year and I was still seventeen when I graduated from high school a few weeks before. Air Force regulations required that although seventeen-year olds could enlist, they had to have parental permission. My dad had been in the Army Air Corps during World War II – his brother had also and had remained in service for twenty years – and he had mixed emotions about my plans to join the Air Force. He would have preferred that I stay home and farm, or perhaps go to college. I had been accepted at several colleges but didn’t know where the money was going to come from. I would also be subject to the draft once I turned eighteen and as a single teenager, would have been prime meat. So, daddy signed. (I heard later that my maternal grandmother accused him of “signing Sam’s life away.” No one ever told me until after she was dead.) A few months later I turned 18 but by that time I was already in the Air Force and in the final weeks of training to become a jet aircraft mechanic.

When my dad signed the papers for me to join the Air Force, the United States was not at war, at least not officially. Yes, we had military personnel in some Asian country called Vietnam few Americans were even aware of it. I wasn’t expecting to go to war myself and certainly wasn’t expecting to see combat, although I wouldn’t have minded. As it turned out, I spent 12 years in the Air Force with a good chunk of it in Vietnam where I saw war up close and personal. However, it was MY service and my family didn’t have a damn thing to do with it. I collected quite a few medals and decorations during those 12 years but just because I’m a decorated combat veteran doesn’t make me a hero. Had I died, it would have been my death, not theirs, and while they would have grieved over me, they were deserving of a no particular status other than that of a family that had lost a son. It wouldn’t have mattered if I’d died wrapping my car around a tree, I’d have been dead just the same as if I’d been shot down on a mission over North Vietnam. Maybe my mother would have joined Gold Star Mothers but somehow I doubt it since she never joined the DAR even though she had ancestors who fought in the American Revolution. No member of my family has ever joined the DAR, the DOC, SAR or SOC. I’m a member of three veterans organizations, one which I had a role in founding, another I was coerced into joining and the DAV, which I joined because I’m a disabled veteran and I thought they’d be of help dealing with the VA (I was wrong, they’re not.)

In recent years – mainly since Reagan – an idea has developed that anyone who’s ever served in the military is some kind of hero. People like to greet veterans with “thank your for your service” or, if a veteran “welcome home.” Now, I don’t care for such bullshit. I do sometimes wear caps, one that says “C-130 Hercules Vietnam” and one with an emblem of the Distinguished Flying Cross on it but I don’t wear them to get recognition. I only wear them in hopes of attracting the attention of a fellow C-130 veteran so I can tell them about the organization I helped found. I don’t want anyone to thank me for my service because I didn’t do it for them and I don’t need to be welcomed home. I don’t want anyone to think me a hero because I’m not, even if I did fly some 1,500 combat sorties. My dad flew 30 missions over Germany and Occupied Europe during World War II and he didn’t think of himself as any kind of hero. He put his DFC and Air Medal lapel pins in the lapel of his suit but he hardly ever wore a suit. The fact is that just being in the military -and even being in combat – doesn’t make a person a hero, not even if they die while in service. To be a hero, a person has to do something heroic.

The modern perception of military service seems to be shaped largely on the service of the men who served during the period from World War II to Vietnam when military service was to a large extent compulsory, as it was in World War I and the Civil War. Young men were forced to serve in the military against their will, and their service was seen as sacrificial, particularly by politicians eager to get their vote after they returned to civilian life. But military service hasn’t been compulsory in the United States since early 1973 when the Department of Defense announced that there was no longer a need to draft men for military service. (The end of the draft came as the United States withdrew the last military personnel from South Vietnam.) Since that time, all men and women who have served or are serving in the military are there of their own free will. They are making no sacrifice as their fathers and grandfathers did who were drafted into interrupting their lives for a period of military service. They are compensated with a pay check, a pay check that is substantial for men and women in the modern military and often in excess of what they would likely be making in civilian life. This is true even of the lowest ranking enlisted men and women. Those who elect to stay in the military for a 20-year career draw 50% of their base pay; those who stay longer draw a higher percentage all the way up to 75%, which can amount to a considerable sum for senior officers and enlisted men and women.

Contrary to popular belief by those who’ve never served, military service isn’t particularly hard. New recruits must complete a period of basic training which consists primarily of physical conditioning and military training in regulations and such disciplinary skills as learning to march in formation and small arms training. Upon completion of basic training, a new recruit is sent on to additional training that may involve additional military training if they’re assigned to the infantry but may be classroom and practical training to learn a particular technical skill. Such courses consist of as little as a few weeks from some skills to as much as two years for skills such as nuclear reactor operators. Some new officers are sent to special courses such as military pilot training or submarine officer training. Once a young man or woman has completed their training, they are assigned to an operational unit, which may be a combat unit but could also be support. If they are assigned to a combat unit, they can expect to spend their time in continued training since combat units aren’t engaged unless they are actually in a combat zone. Military training in itself can be dangerous and hundreds of young men and women die each year in accidents, both while on duty and in vehicle accidents when off duty. In fact, accidental military deaths have exceeded deaths from hostile actions in many years since the beginning of the so-called “War on Terror” after the 9/11 attacks. This was true in the years 2002 and 2003 and has been true since 2008. In fact, in the years from 1980 to 1989, accidental deaths in the military exceeded 1,000 a year; the most hostile deaths in a year since 2002 is 847 in 2007. My point is that a military member is more likely to die due to accident than from hostile action. Military Deaths by Year, which brings me to my next point.

Just because a person serves in the military – or dies while on active duty – does not make them heroic. There have been men who truly were heroic in the military, starting with Sgt. Alvin C. York in World War I and continuing through such men as Lt. Audie Murphy, Major Edwin Dyess and Colonel Paul I. “Pappy” Gunn, but such men usually became heroes because of desperation. York decided to take matters in his own hands when he saw his buddies being mowed down by German machine guns, Murphy defended his men against a German attack, Dyess carried out attacks on Japanese ships in Subic Bay in one of the few remaining Air Corps fighters left in the Philippines and Gunn waged an essentially one-man war against the Japanese to free his family from captivity in Manila. Since then, military heroes tend to have been men who performed “selfless” acts such as jumping on hand grenades, acts that might be more correctly identified as thoughtless since they happened so quickly the individual didn’t have time to consider the ramifications of his actions.

In truth, much of what is hailed as heroism is merely a military member doing the job they were trained to do, whatever it may be. Some medals – the Bronze Star in particular – are often awarded as commendations for routine performance of one’s administrative duties. In fact, the Bronze Star was originally authorized as a counterpart to the Air Medal, which was authorized in 1942 to recognize the role of airmen flying combat missions – often against great odds – at a time when ground forces had yet to enter combat. A colonel felt that infantrymen, in particular, should be awarded some kind of decoration to recognize that they had been in combat. No particular act of valor was required for award of the medal – any soldier who had qualified for the combat infantryman’s badge was eligible – and the award was also approved for administrative actions, such as maintaining files in an orderly room.  The Bronze Star It and the Air Medal were equal in prestige – until 1985 when military politics led to the elevation of the Purple Heart from a low-level award to prominence above the Meritorious Service Medal and dropped the Air Medal to the lowest precedence of any combat award and below the level of the MSM, which is only awarded for non-combat  service. (By doing so, the DOD robbed hundreds of Army Air Corps and pre-1985 USAF airmen of the recognition they so richly deserved for their meritorious service in aerial flight.)

Military medals are a story in themselves. Prior to the Civil War, there were no medals and even then, the Confederacy did not recognize its heroes with medals. The Medal of Honor was authorized during the war and was often awarded for such mediocre actions as reenlisting. (Hundreds of Medals of Honor were taken away when the criteria for the medal was changed in the early Twentieth Century.) The Distinguished Service Cross and Silver Star were authorized just before World War I and the Purple Heart was authorized in 1932 for presentation primarily to men who had been wounded. The Distinguished Flying Cross was authorized in 1926; it was awarded to civilians such as the Wright Brothers and Amelia Earhart. The Air Medal and Bronze Star came along during World War II, along with the Legion of Merit, which is essentially an award for high-ranking officers. Since Vietnam, a veritable library of new awards have been authorized, to the point that it seems that the modern military man and woman gets medals just for showing up for chow! In short, most military medals today are meaningless.

This brings us to “gold star families,” a term little heard of before a Pakistani immigrant named Khizer Khan made a speech at the Democratic Convention. To begin with, there is no such thing as a “gold star family.” It’s a term that the Army has on its web site to refer to families of military members who lost their lives on active duty. However, there’s no official organization or recognition of such families even though the military was authorized to present lapel buttons to family members – parents, spouses, children, step-children, brother and sisters – of those who die while  on active duty starting in 1947. The lapel button carries no significance and no benefits to those to whom it is presented except recognition. It’s something for family members to have to remember their family member, the same as the flags used to drape coffins and which are then presented to the family, usually to either the wife or mother of the deceased. The design is different for those who died in a combat theater, regardless of the cause of death. There is no organization and they have no official standing.

There is, however, a formal organization for Gold Star Mothers, women whose son or daughter has died while on active military service. Gold Star Mothers was formally organized in 1928 when the mother of a US Army Air Services pilot who died during the war decided to start an organization for mothers of men who had died while in military service. They got their name from the gold-starred flags family members displayed in their windows during the recent war – families with men in uniform displayed a flag with a blue star and those whose sons were lost displayed gold stars. The blue and gold starred flags became prominent during World War II but they died out after the Korean War. They were not popular during the Vietnam War – in fact, they were hardly ever mentioned. They were resurrected in the 1990s and began attracting some attention from the media – and politicians. In September, 2012 Barrack Obama proclaimed the last day of September as “Gold Star Mothers and Families Day.” However, the memo must have got lost because no one seems to know anything about it.

Families of men and women who die while on active duty have recognition, but not status or standing, as members of the media proclaimed that Khizer Khan and his wife have. The Khans claimed they have made some kind of sacrifice because their son died in Iraq. In fact, they have made no sacrifice at all and whether their son’s death was a sacrifice is debatable. Captain Khan’s commander, Maj. General Dana Pittardi, (Gen. Pittard was Bill Clinton’s military aide 1996-1999), wrote a piece for the Washington Post but was very vague as to how the officer died. He says only that he was killed by a suicide bomber and that he “may” have been trying to prevent the death or injury of innocent Iraqis. The captain was awarded a Purple Heart, which is awarded to all military personnel who die as a result of enemy action, and a Bronze Star, which is basically a glorified commendation medal. If his actions had been seen as “heroic,” he would have been awarded at least a Silver Star and possibly a Distinguished Service Cross. In the Khan’s minds, their son died a hero but in reality he was the victim of a bomb. Regardless, their son’s death reflects solely on him, not on them.

Military valor reflects solely on the individual, not corporately on their family, regardless of how close. My actions while in the military reflect solely on me and if I’d died, while my family would have suffered loss, they would have made no sacrifice. Neither would I if my son’s submarine had gone to the bottom of the China Sea while they were playing cat and mouse with the Chinese navy. Several of my ancestors served in the Revolutionary War but I have never been a member of the Sons of the Revolution and no one in my family has ever joined the DAR (except my great-aunt.) At least two of my ancestors were Confederate soldiers but I’ve never joined the Sons of Confederate Veterans – and never will. My valor is my own and no one else’s. Similarly, while I’m proud of my father for flying 30 missions in B-24s over Europe, his service is no reflection on me, nor was it a reflection on his parents, brothers and sisters.

What I’m saying is that military service and any recognition for it only applies to the one who serves, not their mother, father, spouse, brother, sister, children, grandchildren or anyone else.