Thursday, 27 August 2009

war stories

Well, I dont have any war stories. Unless you count previous marriages.

And theres no way in hell I'm writing anything about that.
So I'm flying home for my fathers funeral. He was 52, and I was 20.
I flew home in full uniform, for a variety of reasons.
On the flight, I met this guy. He was a marine vet from WWII.

He asked me wnat I did, and I said "nothing". I wasnt close to my dad, and I definitely wasnt too sad to talk, but it was just one of those moments.
He told me that he was a prisoner of the japanese in WWII. He then told me that he escaped from them, and made a raft, and floated from the island of corregidor, to Australia.
Some things, I figured, you just didnt lie about. So I believed him. What a story. THIS guy had war stories.
I felt like even more of a nothing. I wondered if my dad felt the same of me.
He wouldnt be found in any forbes magazine with what he did in his life, but he still was my dad, and I always wondered if he thought I was anything at all.

So I'm driving across the Garrison Dam in North Dakota. Its a dam like you cant imagine.

It was late, after midnight (I was fishing) and on one part of the dam that more resembled a bridge, I passed a girl sitting on the railing.

I drove by, then turned around, just because.

I drove back to where she was, and stopped, got out, and sat on the railing with her. Now you have to understand, north dakota isn't pennsylvania, nor like anywhere else, for that matter.

Its desolate, and I was I dont know how many miles we were from the nearest one light town. maybe 50 miles, at least.

Here, in pretty much the middle of the night, was a girl sitting on a railing, overlooking the water.

Didn't add up.

So I stopped and talked for a while.

What can I say, I didnt do the bar scene well, so this was right up my alley.................

Dont remember many particulars. She was nice, pleasant, not depressed at all. Just liked being there, she said.
Ok, thats a particular, but its one that stood out, given everything else.

She assured and reassured me that she wasnt going to do anything stupid, nor did she want a ride to anywhere. She just wanted to be there that night.

What am I, the bridge police? ok, I said, and I left her..

While driving along a ND highway one night, we picked up a LARGE Indian man, and I said to him upon his entering my luxurious Ford Fairlane.......
"Whats up Chief?"

My buddy almost crapped his pants, but the chief just laughed.

"I want a ride tto the bar in town" was his response, and I said "can do".
That was the night, that my buddy who was all shy and stuff with chief hitchiker, said upon walking into some farmer/rancher redneck bar in western north dakota......................
"I smell SHEEP SHIT.........."

Yeah. It was like a John Wayne movie. Chairs flying, air force idiots flying,the whole nine yards.

I remember thinking "what the HELL did you have to say that for"!?!!?

The chief was on our side, at least.
Score one for race relations. He thought it was hilarious that people he was conditioned to hate (government employees) would do something so off the cuff, and that was a good thing.

He was a good friend to have in that situation, he wasw HUGE . I got my bell rung but good that night, but he never gave up, and we had a good laugh afterwards.
Two wing nuts (air force personnel) and a frickin Injun and a bunch of Nodak farmers made friends that night.
It hurt like hell, but we made nice afterwards.

Dont worry, I got back at that dammed southern idiot for making that comment when we walked into that bar......
Johnny rebs are tough, but they're scared as hell of ghosts.....................:-)

So I was driving down the turnpike in Pa, and I see a guy on crutches hitchhiking. Doesnt add up.

So I, we, picked him up. Drove him down to the east/west split, and something told me to ask him if he needed some money, so I did, and he did.

I dropped him off, and when pulling away, I looked in my rearview mirrow, and he wasnt there.

I said to my ex-passenger, "where'd he go!?"

She turned around and looked, and he wasnt there.

Maybe he got another ride in 5 or ten seconds. I dont know.

Didnt add up.

The 60 mile an hour club.

I'm a member. End of story.

Ever see something that froze your feet to the floor in fear?

I have.

Not because I know what I saw, but because I didnt know what it was that I saw.

Whats the most important thing you've done in your life?
The most important thing I think I've done is pull some kid out of a river. Sure wish I knew it was a job possibility 30 years ago. I'd join the coast guard in a heartbeat today if I knew then what I know now...................

I ran over someones car with an armored personnel carrier, too. Not a good move. I singlehandedly enacted a dept of the air force directive ordering all APC drivers to have a spotter behind the vehicle when backing up said vehicle.

So I got that going for me................

Feels like having a disease named after me.

Slipped off a frozen path, and right into the salmon river, in upstate new york.

In february. Water temp was right around 34 degrees, and the air was even colder. I remember when my butt hit the bottom, thinking, "this isn't so bad...............".

When I popped up, I asked a fisherman who was downstream a little, if he could get my hat for me as it floated by.

He did.

It got really cold after that.

Speaking of cold, more about north dakota.

I got lost there once, in a snowstorm.

Theres one place where there is a "forest" in ND, and I was in it. Its called the turtle mountains. Itty bitty foothills, are a better description, but in a state where they have road signs warning of a "turn in the road up ahead", I suppose a itty bitty foothill IS a mountain. (Its REALLY flat and treeless there)

Anyways, I was hunting, or some stupid thing out there by myself in the winter. Now you also have to understand that their winters arent like OUR winters. And I dont CARE where YOU are, their winter is not like your winter. I actually cassette recorded a weather forecast and sent it home, just so people could get a good idea of what it was like. I think the high temp that day, was 30 below, or some such nonsense. I do remember that in my first winter there, we had 30 or sixty days below zero. In a row. Didnt get above zero, that is.

Yeah, so anyways, I come up with the notion that a camping trip (by myself) is a good idea, maybe a hundred or two miles from the nearest one light town. In a state where on the streets in the shopping district in town, are recepticles to plug your cars in to prevent them from freezing solid while you shop. Yeah.

Well I got lost, and couldnt even find my tent with my 30 below sleeping bag.

But wait, theres more.

I shot a few sharp tailed grouse (oh relax, they are as dumb as pidgeons on public square, they NEVER ever see people, let alone fear them). Anyways, I put these grouse outside my little snow cave thingy, and crawled inside for a nice winter's nap.

I guess the scent of sharp tailed groouse travels far, because it wasnt long after dark, that a LARGE pack of coyotes were all around, on top of, and damn near inside, my little piece of the world. Yeah, they were fighting over the birds I hung on a tree branch outside.

But wait,theres more.

Something scared them off. At first, I thought that it was a good thing, but then I figured out that somethng that could scare off a pack of hungry half frozen coyotes might be something to fear myself.

So I started thinking, "hmmmm, what COULD be out there to scare off a half frozen desperate for food, pack of coyotes!?!?!?"

then in the absolute deafening silence, I heard a woman scream, then another.

Oh, you think YOU'VE been scared? I doubt it.

My brain started working shortly after my bowel system stopped, and I remembered that "its a bobcat its a bobcat its a bobcat........................" like that was a good thing.

Well, two, at least, made that sound, and let me assure you, they DO sound EXACTLY like a woman screaming.

Quite unnerving.

Good news, is, I didnt freeze to death that night. The bad news is, I didnt have any birds to eat for breakfast if I did ever find my campsite.

I did find that campsite the next day, and I did stay there for two or three more days (and nights.

Once you make up your mind to do something so stupid, the worst part is really going to the bathroom in the morning.

Trust me on that.

So I could say that I did that too. Camped in ND in the winter.

I HAD to. People told me I couldnt.

So I'm pulling into glacier national park on my motorcycle, and a park ranger/ employee type is stapling up a notice on a bulletin board.

"Whats up?" I ask him. "Oh, we had two campers killed by a bear last night".
Great. Another brilliant idea I had. On the notice he was posting, was an advisory to not have sex in your tent, because it attracts and exites grizzly bears.

Well, I had that going for me too, cuz I was alone. The thought of getting raped and then eaten by a grizzly bear didnt sit too well that night.

Glacier nat'l park is beautiful, but I advise taking an armored RV if you go.

You wont sleep too well if you only have a motorcycle and a one person tent.

Trust me.

Y'know, out west, they have rodeos like we here in NE PA have church bazaars.

Every town has one, and they're an event, just like church bazaars are here.

I learned to stop in these towns, and one time, pitched my tent in a strangers yard. Just because we started talking while enjoying a beer, and watching the local young men and women show their stuff in the ring, and while dong so, the couple invited me to stay there.

People out west are cool. Next time you're at a church bazaar, ask someone there if you could pitch your tent in their backyard, and then see if they make you breakfast and let you shower in the morning. I love the Western U.S., and the people there.

I was tooling down some straight boring highway out there, (hands behind my head, feet on the handle bars, cruise control on), and I noticed flashing lights behind me.


I pulled over, and asked the highway patrolman when he walked up to me, "what'd I do!?!?"

"nuthin" he replied, "I just wanted to look at your bike".

So there we talked, in the middle of nowhere, with western meadowlarks singing. The two of us had a discussion about bikes.

People out west are cool.

Eastern cops are like Hitler yoots.

I accrued a lot of flight time as a hellicopter crew member, and if the pilots like you, you get perks. Pilots talk, I learned.

Free flights home, is one of those perks.

I got to fly home and back 3 or 4 times, for free, on various air force aircraft.

None if it luxury, but the price was right.

And once, I got to lay down in the place where the refueling tech did his/her work, and watch while an SR-71 blackbird pulled up underneath us, to be refueled.

Thats some cool stuff. (see the pic)

The refueling tech told the pilot of the SR-71 that I was a guest there, and who I was (a complete nobody), and the SR-71 pilot wiggled his wings after seperating from us, did a barrel roll, and then shot straight UP, out of sight.

Better than sex, that was to see.

And I got to see it for free.

Right place at the right time. MAN I cant emphasise enough how important that is.

The first time I talked to Rush Limbaugh on his radio show, I relayed a story about something or other, and an uncle in another state heard the call, and ordered one of Rush's ties, and sent it to me.

That was a cool gift.

Right place, right time.

Being in the right place at the right time, is everything, and someday, I imagine I will be at the BIG right place at the right time, and get my "big break".

Until then, you have to suffer all this.

Thank you so much for reading all this nonsense.
And remember, theres always more to the story than what you are told. Even if the one telling you says they have all the facts.

They dont.

You didnt know any of this about me, did you?

they dont know anything either.

Trust me.


  1. I didn't know any of that about you...I do respect you for doing it though. I agree with you about the west being cool. Glacier National is a place I will see some day in the next few years.

    They don't know anything about me either. I thought they did at one point but am positive now that they don't.

    Unfortunate is the time I spent thinking that I knew them.... I can never get back!

  2. glacier is worth the trip.

    As is the Great Wall In Montana. I hiked there for a month or two with my first lab.
    See IT as well.

    Just go.

    I love the memories when I was too stupid to know any better.