FFIC - 1
Mike Melia (Rat "39") and I were talking a week ago about the company and the missions and the fact that we all, every one of us have something to be proud of and to think about. We have all been tried and tested and we have all passed the test of trial by fire. As he put it so well, we all passed muster and now we know who we are and 'what we would do and can do' when the moment of extreme decision is suddenly upon us ... as it was once upon us so often in our war.
Yesterday a few of my "older brothers," those who went before me and the men who followed that is, came to my house here in Florida and we all celebrated each other and the life we live now. Whether it has been good or bad, whether we are rich or poor, we all have come to this point in time and suddenly we can celebrate that very fact together.
It's no less than a miracle and a gift to all of us who understand that fact. There were two men here who lost contact with each other that one day in November 1968 who finally met again yesterday and were able to look each other in the eye and without saying a lot, the look spoke volumes for them both and for those of us who were fortunate to be here with them.
I kind of hung around these men and listened to them while I got them a fresh cold drink or more salsa, at one point I suddenly felt the blood rush from my head and my knees grow weak as I heard the story unfold about men who under no conditions and no circumstance would voluntarily leave another brother behind.
Regardless of whether we fought in the clubs at night or avoided each other in the company area or what generation of Blackhawk or Crusader we were or what our jobs were, we would never be that way on the flight line or in the air and we would not have left another brother behind.
I asked myself that question yesterday and the answer was a loud and instant "No I would not leave them behind either!" I knew I felt that way without asking, but to ask it was to confirm it. If you were to think about it for one-second, your answer would echo mine, of that I am sure... No doubts.
I understand this trial now and what it took to accomplish the daily missions, the commitment to each other and to life itself. It also makes the way I am with those around me and the way I think about life just a little bit clearer.
This is our legacy men. It holds as true today as it did back in 1967 and forward to the end.
|FFIC - 2
Mike Melia - Rat Pack "39"
|Flight...I can not believe how
important this net is to me. I never anticipated ever
running into any of the guys from "my other
life" in a million years and not only have I found
some of my old stick mates but I've made new Crusader
friends with those that served before and after me. Rat
Pack 38.. I owe you big time... for the times you pulled my
ass out of the fire and for this... No BS, this is better
than medicine for a guy staring old age in the face and
more than once wondering what its all about... Thanks Mike.
These Crusader gatherings are great things and I am happy that the participants write about them because the rest of the flight does get to enjoy them vicariously. My old room mate was Rick Daniel.. Crusader "27"... remember the guy I described as a "stud" pilot.. (He later disciplined me for my exuberance and threatened to tell the world about 1 sling load I screwed up back in '70)... I'll never call him a stud again :- )... I am in Police flying and am going to lecture at this years ALEA convention out at Ontario, CA. and "27" advises he is about 30 minutes away... we are going to try to get together... this is unbelievable after 3 decades...
In the discussion that Frank was referring to we covered a lot of "heavy" things (as Frank puts it)... and with the chance of being thought of as a total boob here are some of the thoughts we shared....
In our tour we were in the presence of some great men who did what they can do but also (and more importantly) we also served with some very average men who when called upon rose to the very highest levels of individual capabilities and heroism for their Brothers without asking or expecting anything in return...We were brainwashed in reverse when we returned to the states. We really didn't know our efforts were so ignoble until advised by the media but there is nothing so pure as a man's willingness to give up his own life for another strictly because of a Brotherhood. A Brotherhood that is based on shared experience... that we all shared... when the time came and you were asked if you could be counted on. It was not a political decision we made but for each other with no stipulations or conditions... might be the purest thing we do in this short life that God has given us.
Every time I look at my 18 year old son and I think about what you youngsters from Mr. Timberlake right through to Frank Drinkwine did - I am in awe... few of our non-participant friends will ever reach the heights we all have. Regardless of what life has in store for us, they can never take that experience away from us...
to Tay Ninh...
| A phrase i heard the first
day in Nam would be impressed in my mind till my days are over . It
was said to me by some clerk in Cu Chi, while informing me that
I was going to be assigned to the 187th AHC, " ahhhhhh Tay
Ninh , that's an R & R place for the VC. "
I didn't know what to make of it but it wasn't long after ,that
I was going to find out what those fated words meant .
I got to Tay Ninh in a monsoon drenched
afternoon. Cpt. Gresham (who was going to be my superior officer
in charge of tech Supply) landed that UH with such an ease it
left me with a sense of amazement. I didn't know at that time
that the VC had sent a 120mm rocket into the compound to welcome me,
and sure enough I found out what that R & R meant. I
found it out with my face stuck in a pool of water and mud when I hit
the deck after the explosion.
The following few hours spent in the E-M club
dispelled any concerns I had about the
Conditioning, Chocolate Pudding and Warriors
Mike Hodges - Rat Pack "38"
|NOTE: This message
was in reply to a string on the 187th net concerning Air Conditioning
in a Cobra Gun Ship. I had the only Cobra with AC so this is my
reply and some thoughts that crept in during its writing.
First thing you have to know is that I had
and ECU. (Environmental Control Unit) in that super sleek, butt
kicking, I dare you to show your face, fling wing war bird. Lord
forbid the Army let anyone know the military wasted tax payers money
on an air-conditioner :-). Thinking about it now, the way Uncle
Sam likes to show stupidity in purchasing, I bet that ECU cost more
than all the weapons systems on the "Snake"....
It was easy to hurt for these young men and how they would be spending the night. Hot nasty chemically treated water, monster mosquitoes, blood sucking leeches, poisonous snakes, dirt and more dirt. Constantly on the alert for sappers, ambushes, snipers, incoming. Sitting in the middle of the compound on an open air box on the ground to relieve themselves. Sleeping in a hole in the ground.
Then I thought about the young man with the canteen. Perhaps I misunderstood him. Perhaps he was asking for just a little cold water for his canteen. Like so many other things that question haunts me to this day. The thought that I may have denied a true hero a little cold water digs at my guts each time I remember it.
There are so many things I do
not know the answer to about that year in the Nam. Sometimes
they eat at my mind and guts with unbelievable and relentless ferocity.
Sometimes they leave me alone long enough to get some sleep.
Some real sleep. Some dream free sleep. Another escape
from Nam and from my own mind. My little can of chocolate
Peter Davis "Crusader 22"
I had a Flight Surgeon in the Army who became a personal friend as well. He told me one day about his first duty assignment as a young doctor fresh out of ROTC-financed medical school. Being nearly a generation older than me, his military career began shortly after World War ll and his first assignment was to a Veterans Hospital. He was delighted with this assignment and eagerly looked forward to serving those who had so recently served us.
He reported promptly at the appointed place and hour, introduced himself to his new colleagues and before the day was over did “rounds” with the staff, getting his first look at those veterans who were to be his new charges. Some were veterans of WW 1.
A few hours later he faced a new and unsettling reality. Every single veteran in his ward was there for smoking related illness. Not a single war wound. Not even an accidental injury from stateside duty.
Fast forward 60 years to this week, August 2009. I retired six years ago and made my first trip to a VA hospital Monday. I needed a hearing test badly because my wife had promised I’d need many more trips to the hospital if I didn’t hurry up and get hearing aids. Eleven thousand hours in a helicopter will do that to you.
Getting the hearing test was no simple matter. In fact, getting through the answering systems to speak with a person was a challenge in itself that took several days to master. Then I had to wait six weeks for the hearing test.
I arrived nearly an hour early because I didn’t want to get delayed in traffic and have to wait another six weeks for a new appointment. So I had a fair amount of time in the waiting room. To begin with, the phrase “waiting room” doesn’t do justice to the scene. It was more like an airline terminal during a Christmas snowstorm. Very crowded and not everyone was singing Jingle Bells.
A few things struck me about the veterans around me. Nearly all were approximately my age, 63. I saw only one person, out of perhaps 50, young enough to pick up a rifle and walk a mile. Nearly all were seriously overweight and most of them appeared to be smokers. Now, I can’t swear as to who was a smoker and who wasn’t but there are some signs; the rectangular bulge in shirt pocket, the Bic lighter in hand, the deep creases in pallid complexions, the frequent trips in the direction of the designated smoking area. I couldn’t help but recall the story my flight surgeon told of his first day in a VA hospital.
Then I began to wonder, what would this waiting room look like if the VA stopped treating the self-inflicted illnesses of smoking and obesity? It would probably look more like a church, thirty seconds after the preacher says Amen. And how much money does the VA spend treating these preventable diseases of lifestyle choices? I’m not sure I want to know the answer to that.
Consider this: the next time you rail at the VA for not answering the damn phone remember that they’re busy treating other veterans with self-inflicted illnesses. The next time you shudder at the size of the VA budget and compare it to the service you get, think how much of it is being spent on preventable illnesses.
If you want to do something patriotic, don’t wag the flag, quit smoking. The health benefits will begin to accrue immediately and continue for years and some of your visits to the hospital won’t be necessary. If you have to wait six weeks for a doctor’s appointment don’t write a nasty letter to the VA, loose twenty pounds. You won’t need to see the doctor. Instead of looking to Big Government to spend ever increasing sums on veterans’ health care, practice preventive medicine at home, loose some weight, quit smoking, get some exercise, put down that hot dog and pick up a tomato. You’ll live longer, you’ll live better, you’ll spend less of your life in the waiting room at the VA hospital, you’ll help reduce the size of Big Government and you’ll help save uncounted billions of dollars. Now that’s patriotic.
OK, it’s your turn. Yell back at me. My hearing aids haven’t arrived yet.
CW5 Peter Davis
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