Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Brothers in front of a Huey D model, again, 47 years later as they were in Vietnam together! Austin was a helicopter pilot and Ray, a Marine platoon leader. 

"Captain, you look like shit. (Joke between us, term of affection among Vietnam vets) Austin looks great. Where is the Huey located? Naturally , I have a war story." 

I logged in lots of hours in a Huey! In Nam, I had a Huey all to myself on Thanksgiving and Christmas. This guy painted a gigantic Christmas tree on the front of the helicopter. It was beautiful, blinking lights, everything. I am amazed that the VC didn't shoot us down. Would you believe that if we did one trip over enemy positions, we did a hundred. Not one time did we take fire. Other choppers were fired on constantly. 

I know this is a stretch but reminds me of the story I just heard of the 1914 WWI ceasefire on Christmas eve between German soldiers and the Brits. It was Christmas in Nam and the VC never fired on us. Good story and I'm sticking with it. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


My daughter has 2 have chemo. She starts January 2nd.

On "60 minutes" last week, one of the stories was about this theory that chemo should be in smaller doses over a longer period. The present practice is to give massive doses of chemo which in turn causes the cancer cells to disappear, making patients think they are gone when in fact they were hiding. (MFers)They reappear. Longer, lessor doses are more effective in killing the cancer cells so goes the theory. It is an insidious disease. 

Always thinking of you and especially now with your daughter. Her final report had negative nodes but she will probably still have 2 have chemo. She will find out next Thursday. Regardless, I hate your daughter has to go through this and will be much in prayer. God bless her and you and all the family. F..K

Thursday, December 04, 2014


I have always been a proponent of our "right to die, death with dignity, whatever the overall term we may use". And, I am an Albert Ellis disciple and live my life by Rational Emotive Therapy. Al says very simply our life belongs to us and we can do what we want with it. 

I recently had this live experience which I think is related. Our neighbor is in the hospital. Looks like a serious illness possibly, may be something like MS. She was OK on MRI but can't stand up, etc. My wife, in trying to follow the Augustinian Principle (you can't help everyone but when you are confronted with need, you are obligated to help). She possibly involved herself too early on. Now she has to continue. You cannot get involved with someone and abandon them in crisis. She has, at my suggestion, gotten the fiancĂ©e and friends involved. 

The issue is her cat and this is "a right to die" question. Seeing her cat as she does is totally foreign to me. It is a cat for God's sake, I don't even like cats and he needs to be "put down" from my perspective. 
But, she refuses. The point is, it is her choice, she could do it. (We treat our animals better than we do people). However for us humans, as my mentor, Al Ellis says. I repeat,  "Our life belongs to us and we can do with it what we want."  

She views Henry as her baby and in normal times treats him 10 times better than most kids. One of the old guys I hang out with, my GFs, as my wife calls them; when I was telling them about it, and lamenting the fact that the cat, should "hit the road," said to me, "What you don't understand, she views her cat like you would your grandchildren. What if it was one of them." Wow. Helped. And this concept works all kinds of ways--

This is my neighbor's choice. It is her choice for her cat's right to die or not. God bless her and I might add, Henry. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


She is going to have a radical mastectomy (there is evidence that doing this is often useless but my experience is that patients think they have done it all if they do. I am surely not going to mention) and be done with both of them. I think the waiting is the hard part and not knowing what stage, etc. tt

OMG. Based on the process, and the stage, an ordeal begins to save her life like so hard. I have pictures of friends that I took periodically along the way on their journey that make me tear up; those who did everything--watching their deterioration was very hard. This is not negative but realistic. 

I gently remind her to take care of herself, get help and build a tribe of people who build you up.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


I hate you find yourself at this spot. I have been there so often in my not so illustrious careers that if anybody can empathize, I can. 

Fired four times officially in the Army and no telling how many other times, that only I know about. If I live long enough, I am going to write a book about it. The time which I remember most is Vietnam. I had been with these guys in my unit for almost a year and the head chaplain took an incredible dislike to me. Probably some sort of jealousy. He replaced me with somebody else and sent me to the rear. What nobody could understand is why that should bother me as it got me out of combat; but to me, it was a big thing, really devastating. 

At war unusual things can happen. The head chaplain was based at this place called Camp Eagle. It was at the headquarters with all the staff people and the generals--they had never been attacked. Most considered that it was safe and impenetrable. They had all the amenities. I was down South, getting ready to be unceremoniously thrown out of the country. Most figured I must have done something bad or whatever or else this would not be happening. I didn't understand it myself. 

Without warning, Camp Eagle came under attack. Actually a siege, nobody could get to them. It went on for about three days. Finally, they were rescued. The head chaplain was catatonic and had to be send home. I went back to my old unit. 

The interesting thing is that nobody other than me or the head chaplain were even knowledgeable of what had gone on. Had the siege not happened, I would have gone home and been out of the Army. The rest of this is history, I guess. If there is a moral to the story, it is just, "keep your head down and see what happens." There is nothing worse sometimes than jealousy. And, in our culture, money also seems to be the winner but I am still naive enough to believe that "right" is the winner. I can tell you what it did for me throughout my career, it made me a champion of the underdog, the downtrodden or those who got on the wrong side of the beauracratic establishment. Most of my peers feel that my public "stands" probably kept me from being the chief of chaplains. I don't think so. It was probably my choice of assignments but who knows. 

Friday, September 19, 2014


I took a friend to the doctor for a CT scan this morning. She had a double mastectomy this summer and is having her fourth chemo Monday—then 8 more, one each week. She’s already had to have a blood transfusion. The CT scan is to see if the cancer has spread. She was a survivor of childhood cancer and had lots of radiation then, which apparently makes you more likely to have cancer later. I hope she’ll be OK. She’s got three kids, 8, 12, 17, and a husband. 


So sorry about your friend. You did such a good thing. Cancer is such an insidious disease. Sometimes I sit in the lobby at UCSF (University of California, San Francisco), messing on my phone or something and the sadness in the faces of the people are just heart breaking. The saddest are the really older folks (since I am one myself). I think it was last week--I was hanging out and this really old guy was trying to get his wife from the car to a wheelchair. The young guys, the parking attendants, were standing around, not knowing what to do. I put her in the wheelchair. (He needed somebody with him). Sad. 

Who knows the story? Of course, with an older couple, maybe 80 plus, time to make another decision. But, I don't know, I am just a "passer-by." Dang. See what I mean. You did a good thing, helping your friend. God bless. 

Sunday, September 07, 2014


Mental Illness is a terrible thing. Depression seems to be the worse. I had an interesting discussion recently with a minister friend. He said, "Chaplain, you are a problem solver. You see a problem and you try to fix it but you can't fix me." 

Tuesday, September 02, 2014


Sorry, Captain, got caught up in the fervor of Sam and gang. Here is basically what you missed. Sam is spouting off about the rigors of his life. John is kind of liking Chrissy and grandson living with him, even though he is having to curtail his numerous female friends; who before have occupied the space where Chrissy and son are. His older daughter who is nutso according to John--she doesn't get it at all. She owes him $14,000 from his fronting the money to flip a house just as the housing bubble went South. She left screaming obscenities: how dare he bring up such bad memories. "John, lose her address."
 Gary showed up late to tell us about the sense of Intimacy that he and Joan felt when  they went whale watching, recently. Today, she chose yoga over us. My contribution was the idea of a "reality" show. Nobody liked my idea that the GFs were tailor made as old guys would watch us. Nobody agreed. I thought some "Agent" would be standing in the door, waiting on the green light to pay us big bucks as our first episode (Go to sleep if I have already told you this) would be helping Larry with his plan to move to Tahoe and get laid. We did decide that this episode would have to be shelved as he is opting for a $16,000 motor for his boat. I am personally disappointed in the choice. Sam wants to be excluded from the first episode. He prefers to recount the excitement in his life--between his upcoming colonoscopy or buying a replacement tooth brush. OK, that is all I can muster for today. It is Labor Day. Wednesday is a go. CHOW. 


Dang. You need to write a Mayoral post about Ferguson. Us white boys have no credibility but what those folks need are schools, jobs, and a non-militarized police force, for which you have been advocating. Unfortunately, what Ferguson says to me, race in our country is no better today than it was when I was growing up. Enormous segregation. We had a place called Pope's Bottom where all the blacks lived: mired in poverty, three generations of females having babies. A grandmother had a baby, kid grows up to have babies. Sorry ass male is gone, maybe in jail, hanging out in Raleigh, smoking dope or selling it. 

What we need is Green Gulch to get involved. Dang. I am thinking about sending a bus, headed by Gary, to GG to load on volunteers. John will direct activities on the way to St. Louis. Sam will be available to talk lawyerly stuff for distraction purposes. The doc will be available to discuss medical alternatives if they should arise. You and I will use out vast contacts to recruit from Bay View Hunters Point and Pope's bottom in my home town. Plus. We will tap into the very productive homeless network in San Rafael. Since we do not have an AA to lead on the ground efforts, Michael will have to do. A Jew is better than nothing. We have to be in this for the long haul. 

Now, you will have to excuse me as I am returning to the "NY Times," a Commie rag if I have ever known one. God bless us and God bless St Louie and God bless "Merica."

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Frances, Corb's Bad Luck

My brother's wife just passed from this life to the next. God bless her on her journey. It has been a long and winding road. My brother's children can be comforted always in the fact that they did their best in the midst of a hard situation. God bless all. Although it was well past time, everything has a season. 

To be honest I don't know what to say but I have the need to say something. I guess I have to share my brother's story to really spell it out. My brother had always been secretive. Why? Just his nature. As brothers, as we say in the South, we were thick as fleas. My wife would say rather sarcastically, "one would sneeze and the other would be there to hold the handkerchief." Now with the loss of his wife, 94, and finishing her last days in a nursing home; but before then,  there is a story. When my older brother, the patriarch of our family,  discovered the seriousness of my brother's romance, we decided to visit what we thought might possibly be his soon to be wife. Our visit did not end well. She didn't care for our interfering and was not reticent in telling us. It really was none of our business. Irritated, my brother Raz said, "I will tell you this. We will knock our brother in the head, throw him in the trunk of the car and you will never see him again." He would have done it. What we came to discover is that they had already married. This did not "set well" with my older brother. 

They were a very attractive older couple. My brother was handsome: slim, a white mane of hair. A striking couple. For several months, they had a good life and although initially the brothers were somewhat skeptical, it passed. Here is a "funny," in an odd set of circumstances, we discovered that the wife was ten years older than my brother. Not a big deal if you are 20 or forty even, quite a big deal if you are seventy. What to do? Nothing. In telling our brother about her real age, he made light of it. 

Jet setting, enjoying a type of freedom that was simply wonderful became of their lives. It was the order of the day for our brother and his wife. The brothers, 4 of us, rejoiced with him in this new good life. Enter tragedy. The wife had a massive brain aneurism. Death was imminent or so we thought. No. She lived. Then came another one. This is it. She lived but became an invalid. Loss of her legs, wheelchair bound. My brother became a full time caretaker. I would visit and leave totally down in the dumps. His wife seemed to adjust to the new confined life. She was a voracious reader. Her daughter, from a previous marriage would send her boxes of books and she would spend her time reading or watching TV. 

My brother did an admirable job. They employed help. A couple which could serve as characters in a novel  themselves, became additional caregivers. The wife became more helpless. Our brother, mired in an environment with no real stimulus, went downhill himself. Regardless of our views, he was devoted. No, he would never put her in a nursing home. However, it is what happened. Very sad. Now she has died and we don't know how to react. God bless her on her journey. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Gene Park

For those of us of “faith,” every life is sacred. The tragedy of the Ukraine incident goes beyond cruelty and explanation, other than war and man’s inhumanity. I really am grieving with the families and praying for such rapport that it as my Seminary Professor said: skin on skin and flesh on flesh. The sense of rapport works best for me to personalize the total loss with a person. My friend, Chaplain (Colonel) Wilson Gene Park is my choice. I have mentioned Gene before but there is new “significance” now. 
Life can be very sad. Of course, one of the really difficult things with death is that death is so final. They are gone. No more emails, phone calls. One person dies, maximum importance to the one left behind. 
Gene, my buddy and I beat around the Army together. Vietnam was the common experience. It was in this war torn environment that we formed a forever bond. I was in an Infantry Battalion and Gene served support soldiers. More importantly, he provided a refuge from war for those like me. When things got emotionally and physically what we would see as almost unbearable, there was Gene offering a bed and a beer. We will never forget him. 
At the time of his transition from this life to the next, he was caring for his wife, Barbara, who had dementia. They met in the Philippines and Gene wove a wonderful love story around their time. Barb, a missionary’s daughter and an Air Force Sergeant. Could be the title of a movie. 
From that time in the Philippines, there was Seminary, his family: three great boys; the military chaplaincy. After the military, Gene moved easily to the pastorate. He loved Hawaii and had logged in lots of years there. He came back to Southern California and then AZ. We met up in Tombstone, Arizona where he became a pastor. (Not exactly sure about all this. How can we sum up a truly fulfilling life. We can’t). I do remember this: Tombstone was one of those towns that Gene said, “never got past the Gunfight at OK Corral.” 
Gene’s passing is a tremendous loss of friendship. And, I claim “rapport” with all those lost in the tragedy in Ukraine. And, here is how I am doing it. I am not exactly sure how “heaven” works but the very idea is comforting to me and a great value of “faith.” To feel as the Apostle Paul said, “the comfort that this life is not the end.” And in some mysterious way, my friend Gene is involved in the transition of all these innocents who died . He is uniquely prepared to do it. He is a crisis person, trained and ready. 
I envision it like this, 
I stood watching as the little ship sailed out to sea. The setting sun tinted her white sails with a golden light, and as she disappeared from sight, a voice at my side whispered, “she is gone.” 
But the sea was a narrow one. On the farther shore, a little band of friends had gathered to watch and wait in happy anticipation. Suddenly, they caught sight of the tinted sail, and at the very moment when my companion had whispered, “she is gone,” a glad shout went up in joyous welcome, “here she comes.” This is my friend Gene, leading. 
And, then there is another aspect which I believe that I don’t quite know how it works either, “soul transference.” I would give credit to the idea if I remembered who told me. When a person dies, their soul is passed along to a baby just born. Comforting to me.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Gene Park

One of my best buddies just died. It was a shocker. My wife read about it on FB. We just emailed a couple of weeks ago. Sad. Life can be very sad. Of course, one of the really difficult things is that death is so final. They are gone. No more emails, phone calls. Dang. 

Gene, my buddy and I beat around the Army together. We chose different paths for our service. Well, maybe our paths were chosen for us. It is the way of the military. 

Gene was caring for his wife who had dementia. He loved Hawaii and had logged in lots of years there. He came back to Southern California and then AZ. We met up in Tombstone, Arizona where he became a pastor after the Army. Tombstone was one of those towns that Gene said, "never got past the Gunfight at OK Corral." This was probably true. His passing is a tremendous loss of friendship. 

Wednesday, April 02, 2014


The disappearance of the Malaysian  Airlines with, as one commentator said,  "239 souls" aboard, is probably the mystery of our time. Gone, disappeared. So very sad for the families. Like most, I have done some major thinking. Is there any explanation. Sure, we just don't know what it is. Recently somebody postulated on the Internet a religious explanation. "The Rapture." Even though I would be hard pressed to even think it, a side of me thinks, "dang, something so mysterious and why not." 

The disappearance has confounded our technical sophistication. We keep waiting for that elusive clue. Personally, not sure about things like the Rapture and can't conceive that God is practicing for the "end of time" with the the idea of Jesus return with something as tragic and sad as the missing plane. Just for info, here is the Biblical verse the fundamentalists often use...

Matthew 24:30-36 
"At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

This is allegory, for sure, used as an example and not literal I think. 

    I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

    "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (NIV)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


In light of the world problems, Syria, Ukraine, Russians, Africa. What else? We now read that the hatemongering Westborough Baptist Church, with its seventy members, has a family feud going on. Even as the founder lay dying, the daughter continues her  antigay rhetoric, among other things.

Jesus, who preached acceptance and tolerance on every hand, has to deal with the pastor as he makes his journey to the great beyond. Here is a hint: The Four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, are about what Jesus said and did. Everything else in the New Testament of the Bible is about what "others" said he said or did. (The Westborough Baptist Church does what is called, "proof texting"--they take, usually, an obscure Biblical passage to give credence to their hate mongering in Jesus/God's name). They can't do it from the gospels but will say we "believe the whole Bible," thus "proof texting" with some obscure verse or two that allows their anti gay rhetoric. It is an interpretation, a 100% proof texting, which is put forth by total ignorance. (The media is partly at fault for giving these idiots headlines).

OK, here is the big question. How in the world will Jesus handle someone like the pastor of Westborough, the epitome of hatred. Look at just one hateful thing the  Westborough Church types have done--Showing up and demonstrating/protesting at the funerals of dead soldiers killed in our various sorry wars. Anything to get a headline. I don't want to give Jesus advice but this sorry f..ker should not get a pass through the Pearly Gates. Dang, what would Jesus do is a mystery? 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Military Chaplain's Association

Sometimes in life, the normal course of things happen which you can hardly believe and you can only say, "you just had to be there." What follows is one of those. 

Jerry and I went to the Atlanta MCA (military chaplains Asso) Chapter meeting for Kermit Johnson (the boss) It was a "hoot." The meeting took place in the Grand Ballroom of the Officer's Club. There were maybe hundred of us. It was the November meeting. The leader announced that they were planning to invite someone from the Japanese Embassy to speak at the December meeting as they remembered Pearl Harbor. There was a kind of stunned silence as the audience absorbed the information. The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, essentially thrusting us into WWll. And, for our next meeting we were inviting the Japanese to share in our commemoration. I guess it could work but a little strange. What followed next was truly one of those, "You had to be there." The invited guest and speaker

was Jewish who spoke about Israel and America's commitment to the Jews. To close out the meeting, the "song leader" had us sing some “washed in the blood” hymns after the Jewish talk. The best part was a retired chaplain sitting across from us who could rest his arms on his large stomach. During the speaker’s presentation, he went to sleep after eating several helpings from the buffet. Not only did he fall asleep, he began to snore. At that point, Jerry and I got the giggles and had to get up and leave.  TC


Monday, January 20, 2014


Big article in the NYT about the military and how they will adjust to peacetime as opposed to war. Very interesting because the 10 Chaps have been through it all before. Maybe for a unit like the 82d that trains constantly--they are always going somewhere and so it really won't matter to them so much where it is war or peace. Places like Fort Drum will have a hard time, however, because most of the soldiers have only known war; and now, peace will be boring which means beaucoup problems. 

So, how is the military going to make it in peacetime? Many of them will be gone. The Army will reduce down and eventually throw (force)  people out. I saw this exercise after Vietnam. I was at Bliss and they had all these helicopter pilots, many who had been to Vietnam three and four times and been heroic. Shed blood. They threw them out with nary a thank you. 

In this long extensive article, the chaplain is never mentioned. He or she is key to this transition to peace and they are not even mentioned. Why do you think. This is good stuff, don't put it in the black hole. Amen?

Sunday, January 19, 2014


I have a story that speaks right to the question: did I know any personally that were killed in Vietnam? (A doctoral candidate working on his thesis of Chaplains in combat.)

Several. One, my best friend ever, a Priest. John was this great guy, handsome Italian. We met in in NY, where we were both assigned for a brief period. We were inseparable. He was always mocking me about my Southern accent. We go to Vietnam together. He gets assigned to the field hospital at Phu Bai. I am in an infantry battalion not far away. We see each other lots. He falls in love with a nurse and gets involved with her, against my advice, I might add. The hospital commander is a Catholic and hardcore and tries to get him thrown out of the army. I talk our personnel people into getting him reassigned to the 101st. They do and he goes to be the Artillery chaplain. On his second day, they have a sapper attack and John is killed. I was so angry and had to deal with that over the years, the "what ifs." Even today as I write this, it is a very vivid memory and very emotional.