There is a dangerous idea in America today that is being promulgated by the left wing. Hate speech is not protected by the 1st Amendment. First question. Who in America is qualified to define, in every situation, what hate speech is ? We should all be able to agree that a white person who refers to a black person as a nigger or if a black person refers to a white person as a cracker they are using hate speech. If we are capable of being objective that is. As much as I hate these words I would defend to the death their right to say these things under the 1st Amendment. In a famous supreme court ruling, Schenck v. United States in 1919 Oliver Wendell Holmes stated that there are some limits to free speech however. Paraphrasing he said that you cannot falsely shout fire in a crowded theater. Nor should you be able to incite a riot or other illegal action. This is called "Imminent lawless action" as defined, not only in Schenck vs. the United States but Brandenburg vs. Ohio in 1969. I do not agree with the courts decisions most of the time but I do in the above cited cases. Using offensive language like nigger, cracker, spic, wetback, dyke, faggot, honky, chink or gook does not fall under restricted speech. If white supremacists publicly call for the lynching of blacks and Jews or Black Lives Matter chants “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon,” this kind of speech is not covered by the 1st Amendment. They should be arrested. The 1st Amendment protects a persons right to speak his mind as long as it is in a public forum and the government can't interfere with that right. A few years ago I visited the Smoky Mountains National Park. At the visitors center they had a small area partitioned off and a sign that identified it as a 1st Amendment area. I have news for them. The whole country is a 1st Amendment area. However my employer has a right to limit my right to free speech on the job. If I use racial slurs or anything they consider offensive I am subject to termination or disciplinary action. People are wrong when they say that NFL players have a 1st Amendment right to take a knee during the national anthem. Their right derives from the NFL's lack of cojones in making them stand. If the NFL had a policy that a player must stand for the national anthem or face disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal, they would be well within their legal rights. The fan sitting in the stands has a 1st Amendment right not to stand but the players don't. The NFL is paying a heavy price for their lack of courage and their willingness to coddle a group of spoiled highly paid players who wouldn't recognize racism if it kicked them in their jock strap. In my opinion the rights of an employer should not include the right to control what an employee says on Facebook or Twitter, unless you are encouraging illegal behavior. Nor should they be able to restrict the kind of bumper stickers that you have on your car. We are allowing the left to define hate speech. Expressing a valid opinion on homosexuals, transgenders, illegal immigrants, Obama, and Muslims it is not hate speech. A pastor quoting scripture on homosexuality is not hate speech. This is the lefts way of trying to limit our speech. Their tactics are designed to shut down debate. Nobody wants to be accused of homophobia, xenophobia, racism or Islamophobia. Unfortunately their tactics work far too many times and too many of our voices are silenced. Speaking for myself I will not be silenced. I am comfortable with who I am because I know that I am not a bigot. So my message to the left is this. Hit me with your best shot. The last time I heard we still have a 1st Amendment.
Tuesday, September 5, 2017
Over the years I have listened in amazement as Democrats have blasted George W. Bush for being so unprepared for the attacks on September 11th. Many even accuse him of allowing the attack to happen in order to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003. There are many historical precedents in history where a country or military leaders have been surprised in spite of the fact that there were obvious signs everywhere. Hessian General Rall was surprised by Washington at Trenton. Hooker was surprised by Lee at Chancellorsville. Rosecrans by Bragg at Stones River. France by Germany on May 10, 1940. The Soviet Union by Germany on June 22, 1941. MacArthur at Clark Field by the Japanese on December 8, 1941, a full day after Pearl Harbor, and again in November 1950 when he allowed the American army to be ambushed by the Chinese and nearly annihilated. Finally, Franklin Roosevelt by the Japanese on December 7, 1941. I could list many more historical examples but the thing that ties these incidents together is that there were plenty of red flags that were completely ignored. They all suffered the consequences of their naivete and unpreparedness. I am reminded of the first time I saw the movie the Sixth Sense. During the entire movie I thought that Bruce Willis was alive. Not until the end did I realize that he was a ghost. I was totally shocked by the ending and never saw it coming. The second time that I watched the movie I noticed clues everywhere that I had missed the first time. Democrats are so partisan that they refuse to consider these historical examples that I have listed. It is all about destroying their political enemies like a George W. Bush or a Donald Trump. As long as they have an R in front of their name it is open season.
Regardless of who the leader is I try to be fair in my analysis of them. I despised Obama for a multitude of valid reasons but I rejected conspiracy theories that claimed he would institute martial law rather than leave office or that he was going to put conservatives in concentration camps. Franklin Roosevelt is not one of my favorite presidents but I do not believe that he was cold hearted enough allow the attack on Pearl Harbor to happen in order to justify our entry into WW2. Nor could I believe that George W. Bush could be cold hearted enough to allow the attack on September 11th. Roosevelt faced a valid dilemma. He had campaigned for president in 1940 on the promise that he would not send American boys into another foreign war. Roosevelt was compelled to do this because the American people were overwhelmingly against going to war with anyone in 1940. Behind the scenes he knew that something had to be done to stop Hitler. Roosevelt considered Hitler to be the greatest threat to the world and to American welfare. By moral persuasion he hoped to change their minds over the next few months and years. This is why it makes no sense that Roosevelt allowed the Japanese to attack Pearl Harbor. He did not want to go to war with the Japanese. Roosevelt wanted to go to war with Germany. Americans were fighting mad at the Japanese and even less inclined to fight the Germans after Pearl Harbor. Many sympathized with the plight of Britain but WW1 was still fresh in the minds of most Americans. They did not want to be drawn into another European bloodbath. They had no beef with Germany. Just using common sense think of how many people it would take to conspire to allow an attack like Pearl Harbor or September 11th to occur. Benjamin Franklin said that three can keep a secret as long as two are dead.
Hitler gave Roosevelt a much needed gift four days after Pearl Harbor. He declared war on the United States ending Roosevelt's dilemma. Outside of invading Russia this was the greatest mistake that Hitler ever made. The Tripartite Pact signed between Japan, Germany and Italy did not require Hitler to declare war on us. He was only bound by treaty to declare war on any country that attacked Japan. In this case Japan was the aggressor. Hitler however was facing defeat at Stalingrad and he was hoping that the Japanese would return the favor by attacking the Soviets.The Soviets would then be caught in a pincers between German and Japanese forces. This proved to be a forlorn hope for two reasons. During the 1930's, before the outbreak of WW2, the Japanese were decisively defeated by the Soviets in a series of border clashes which resulted in a Soviet-Japanese neutrality pact. They didn't want to tangle with the Soviets again. In addition the Japanese were desperate for oil and other raw materials such as rubber. This is why their focus was on conquering the Islands of the Pacific and countries such as Malaysia, the Dutch East Indies, French Indo China and the Philippines just to name a few. The Japanese planned Pearl Harbor because our Navy had to be eliminated as a threat in order to fulfill their goals. In the end the Japanese were the big losers. Although they damaged our Navy they only bought themselves about six months time. This was enough time to conquer much of the Pacific region but they could have had much more time if they had waited until our carriers were docked at Pearl. The carriers were instrumental in winning the war in the Pacific. In addition they did not destroy our ship repair facilities which later raised and repaired every ship but four damaged at Pearl Harbor. Finally, they did not destroy our oil storage facilities located near Hickam. Pearl Harbor was both a tactical and strategic failure for the Japanese. Not to mention that they had awakened a sleeping giant.
America was able to break the Japanese diplomatic code before the war and we knew that they were going to attack us. We even knew when they would attack. We just didn't know where. American military leaders did not believe that the Japanese had the logistical capability to attack us at Pearl Harbor. The September 11th Commission accused the Bush Administration of a lack of imagination. The Roosevelt Administration was guilty of the same lack of imagination before Pearl Harbor. Their focus was on sabotage there rather than an air attack. This is why our planes were parked so closely together and were sitting ducks for Japanese pilots. Every American installation was warned of an impending attack except for Pearl Harbor. The ionosphere on December 7th made radio messages to Pearl Harbor difficult if not impossible. Some genius in the War Department sent Pearl Harbor a war warning by Western Union. It did not arrive until an hour after the attack began. Prior to September 11th we were receiving all kinds of intelligence that something big was about to happen. Middle Eastern men were learning to fly planes but not interested in learning how to land them. Although terrorists had made the threat to fly a plane loaded with explosives into a building at one point prior to September 11th, no one could ever imagine that terrorists would actually fly civilian airliners into buildings. This was our lack of imagination.
Monday, September 4, 2017
|118th Security Police - RAF Mildenhall|
On January 17, 1987, Democrat Ned McWherter was sworn in as governor of Tennessee. MP units were deployed from all over the state to help provide security for the inauguration. Our unit, the 118th, was tasked with providing security for the entertainers, and governor at Opryland hotel. I was first posted in the rear of the hotel. My job, along with another SP, was to keep a spot open for the governor's car. His driver was supposed to drop Ned off at the front door of the hotel. From there he would bring the car around to the back of the hotel. Nearby was a line of celebrity buses with such names as Hank William's Jr., Waylon Jenning's, Jerry Lee Lewis, Tammy Wynette, Krystal Gayle, and many others painted on their sides. While standing post Ralph Emery walked past us with his entourage. This was at least the third time that I have come in contact with this man and he has yet to speak to me. Someone told me that he is hard of hearing and that he might not have heard me. Maybe so but it just strikes me as rude. I can't hear that good either. While I was at Hickam I was standing near the Security Police headquarters one day and struck up a conversation with a friendly young Airman. I immediately noticed the name Emory on his name tag. Curious, I asked if he was related to Ralph Emory. He said yes, he's my dad. The guy was so nice and friendly I was tempted to tell him that he was nothing like his dad. After getting out of the Air Force he joined our Guard unit. Meanwhile the governor's car drove up and backed into the space we were reserving for him. I was expecting a big black limo or something more luxurious but I was struck by the fact that the governor's car was so modest. It was something like a Buick I believe but a car that any average American might be driving. McWherter was the last of a dying breed of Democrats. For that time he could be classified as a moderate to conservative Democrat. Something that doesn't exist today. More like a Zell Miller of Georgia. After the driver parked the car a man ran toward us from the direction of Hank William's Jr.'s bus. I am assuming that he was Hank's road manager. He was all excited and waving his hands as he approached. The man was shouting, "Hey, he can't park there. Mr.. William's will be arriving any minute and that spot is reserved for him." Very calmly I replied, "Sir, if you want to ask the governor to move his car, be my guest." His demeanor quickly changed as he meekly said , "Oh!!" Soon after I was moved inside to a post right in front of gigantic speakers in front of the stage. I had a two way radio but it was nearly impossible to hear transmissions. We were told to keep the crowd away from the stage. This was difficult because of the crowd size and many people were already drunk. I was in my dress blues and there was a multitude of beautiful drunk women flirting with me in their colorful low cut evening gowns. I wasn't prepared for the noise level of the speakers which seemed to vibrate every bone in my body. Holding the radio next to my ear in a vain attempt to keep up with radio traffic I was trying to plug my other ear with my finger. The women standing next to me were playing with my hair and ears. Hank Williams Jr. and Waylon Jennings put on a whale of a show. Krystal Gales hair seemed to be no more than an inch off of the floor. When Jerry Lee Lewis came on stage he stole the show. He was playing the piano with his shoes, butt, head, or any object that he could get his hands on. Lewis was playing a beautiful baby grand piano and the stage manager didn't appreciate the fact that he was abusing his piano. I recently read that early in his career Lewis actually set a piano on fire while he played Great Balls Of Fire. The last straw came when he picked up a metal mike stand and started beating the piano keys with it. The stage manager ran out and began unplugging everything electrical. Lewis began cursing and stormed off the stage. About this time I got a break and walked back stage to mix and mingle with the stars. I walked over to where Jerry Lee Lewis was talking to a woman. I stood there listening in on their conversation. Lewis was spewing forth a solid stream of profanity. I had been a big follower of Jimmy Swaggart during the 1980's. He could move me like no other preacher at that time. Lewis and Swaggart are cousins and have a similar way of playing the piano, as does their other cousin Mickey Gilley. Lewis was talking about what a hypocrite that Swaggart was and how he was a womanizer. This was the first inkling that I had of any scandal in Swaggarts life. A huge scandal would erupt the following year in 1988 when Swaggart was caught soliciting prostitutes.
|Governor Ned McWherter|
I was hired at Bridgestone Tire Company at Lavergne Tennessee in the Fall of 1987. My situation at Cumberland- Swan had improved to the point that my boss called me into his office one day and asked me what it would take to keep me. I was earning 20,000 a year at Swan but I would more than double my salary at Bridgestone. If I remember right I was supposed to get raises every week for about the first six months. My insurance package and benefits would be far superior to anything I had at Swan. After I told him this he acknowledged that there was no way they could match what Bridgestone was offering me. He shook my hand and wished me well. I was extremely grateful to him for believing in me and giving me the chance to prove myself. At Bridgestone I started off in Department 123, Stock Prep. We cut steel belt and innerliner stock for the TBR tire room. TBR stands for Truck, Bus, Radial. In the tire room they built tractor trailer and bus tires. When I started working there the company was expanding our plant to include a PSR plant. PSR stood for Passenger, Steel, Radial. When the plant became operational they would build passenger tires for cars and pick-up trucks. This plant did not become operational until sometime in 1988. We had four eight hour shifts and I worked all of them at one time or another. There was a permanent day shift, swing shift and midnight shift. Finally there was a Mad Dog shift that would give days off to the other three. I trained on day shift and I couldn't believe how laid back everything was. It was if I had died and gone to job heaven. Having been in management I worried about how lax everything was. Management was terrible at Bridgestone. I was making the best money I had ever made in my life and I was afraid that Bridgestone's management was going to drive the company into the ground. On the stock cutting machines most had an operator and a helper. I was a helper and not trained to run the machine. My machine was operated by a woman who was more concerned with her looks than doing her job. Many times when the machine stopped I would look back and see her checking her make-up. Or she would just walk off and be gone for long periods. We were lucky if the machine ran four hours out of an eight hour shift. The supervisor would walk by and never ask why we were down or even act interested. Over time I finally moved to a machine that I operated myself and I didn't have to wait for anyone to get anything done. Each machine had a shift standard that we had to meet and I got mine almost everyday. Once we reached standard we were allowed to sit down until the end of our shift. After a while I developed a system where I could read and work at the same time. A maintenance man made me a book holder and I turned pages between cuts. Supervisors would walk by and never say anything because I was getting standard most of the time and my quality was good. I got a lot of reading done and I was in my own little world. After a while my cozy little world came to an end.
In the early 1990's the company was wanting to change our insurance in contract negotiations with the union. They were wanting us to choose from their list of doctors. The union leadership was acting like it was the end of the world. I helped negotiate four union contracts at Colonial Baking Company and we knew that when the company came back with their final offer negotiations were basically over. We would then take the company's offer before the union membership. There would then be an up and down vote. As a member of the negotiating committee I and the others would give our opinion on whether or not we should accept the contract before taking the vote. I always recommended acceptance because unless the company's offer was totally unacceptable you lose much more than you gain when you strike. If you have leverage, then a strike is more feasible. For example, if all the union bakeries went out on strike at once. If your bakery is the only one walking off the job you have very little leverage and potentially much to lose. By the time I went to work for Bridgestone I was more conservative and my fondness for Unions had waned considerably. Especially for the United Steelworkers Union. During election season for union officers there would be an endless parade of people visiting your machine. They would hand out business cards and ask for your vote to various union positions. Once the election was over most of them would not be seen again until the next election. The exceptions were the safety representative and insurance representative. Both were good men and very conscientious about their jobs. The union representatives were paid their regular salary and spent their time at the union hall doing whatever it was that they did over there. Some took advantage of this time and used it to their personal advantage. One union president managed to get a law degree. This was their ticket out of Bridgestone. They seemed to be more interested in everything but the union membership. Usually political activities like getting radical leftists elected president or supporting radical causes like Jesse Jackson's Rainbow coalition and abortion rights. When I went to work for Bridgestone my attitude was this. I didn't like the union and I didn't want to be a union leader again. However If they were going to negotiate raises and benefits for me I felt that it was only fair to pay union dues. We were told to meet at the United Auto Workers Union Hall on Murfreesboro road near Nissan in Smyrna. The UAW had been trying to organize Nissan for years without success. I was livid when I heard our union president say that he was not going to let the membership vote on the contract. They were taking us out on strike whether we wanted to go or not. The Union wouldn't even reveal what the company was offering. I refused to walk the picket line and within days the strike began falling apart. Primarily because so many union members were upset over how the union leadership took us out against our will. People were crossing the picket line left and right. The union led us right into a trap. The company pulled their offer off of the table and a bad contract was forced on us. We lost benefits, holidays, paid birthdays, and were forced to work twelve hour shifts. And the thing that made me the maddest was our new insurance package was the better than what we had before the strike.. The insurance was the main thing that the union was upset about. I never forgave the Union for their handling of this situation. The twelve hour shifts were a curse as far as I was concerned and I would never view the job the same after that. When we went to twelve hours I managed to keep the machine that I was working in stock prep but I was bumped to the grave yard shift. Six at night to six in the morning. I tried to adapt but I couldn't sleep during the day. In order to get off of midnight shifts I put in for a tire building job in PSR and got the job. I built passenger tires for about sixteen years. It was one of the hardest jobs I ever had and was fast but at least I was off of midnight shifts. We worked five days one week and two the next, barring overtime. The long week was Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and the short week was Wednesday and Thursday. It sounds great but I worked so hard when I was there, especially on the long weekend, that I was constantly tired. I dreaded thinking about coming in Monday morning after the three day weekend that I was off. Many of the health problems that I have right now I blame on those 12 hour shifts.
|Mario Andretti signing autographs @ Bridgestone|
In the summer of 1988 my Air Guard unit was deployed to Hurlburt Field Florida. This was right next to Eglin AFB. While we were there we were tasked to guard aircraft with several different missions. Helicopters, special ops C-130's and the AC-130 gunships. At the time Hurlburt was one of only two AC-130 units in America. The AC-130 H Spectre is a bad mother. On the port side of the plane, in front of the wings, it was armed with two 20 mm M61 Vulcan cannons, or Gatling guns. One Bofors 40 mm cannon, or what they used to call the pom pom gun in the Navy, just behind the wing. Last but not least a 105 mm M102 howitzer near the rear of the plane. Since 1994 the two Gatling guns have been replaced by one 25 mm GAU-12 Equalizer cannon. It can lay down a tremendous amount of firepower and is used in close air support. We were also there to work law enforcement. Days were set aside to do ABGD or Air Base Ground Defense training on Eglin's Army Ranger training area. I brought the family down for the entire two weeks of training and we had a ball when I was off. Hurlburt is near Ft. Walton Beach and we stayed at a hotel on Santa Rosa Island. It is also close to Destin. While we were there we were able to visit the Naval Air Museum and Ft. Barrancas in Pensacola. The training was pretty brutal. I got heat cramps pretty bad but overall it was like being on vacation for the two weeks we were there. In March of 1989 Rob joined the Navy. He developed a bad attitude during the 1986-87 school year which was his senior year. Rob had always been a good student. It all seemed to come natural to him. Without even trying he made A's and B's. That last year he skipped school a lot and at times I was afraid that he wouldn't even graduate. Because of his truancy he lost an opportunity to earn a tennis scholarship. I bought a 1978 Chevy Nova in 1984 from our preacher at Giles Creek Baptist church. It had a powerful 350 V8 engine and I absolutely loved that car. I let Rob drive my old Chevette on the condition that he paid for it's upkeep. Rob got the short end of the stick but I just couldn't afford to keep it running. At least it would give him something to drive. Sometime in 1987 I finally paid off the Chevette and was finally able to trade it in. I found a brand new Mitsubishi Dodge Colt Vista at a dealership on Murfreesboro road in Nashville. The starter on the Chevette was bad and the top speed was about 35 miles per hour. Rob and I tied the Chevette to the Nova with a C-130 load strap and he steered the Chevette while I towed it all the way from Smyrna to Nashville. About a block from the dealership we took the load strap off and luckily it started right up and he drove it right into the parking lot. When they walked out to test drive the car around the parking lot it started right up and performed well. They gave me a pretty good deal with my trade-in and as I was getting ready to drive off the lot with my new car the salesman breathlessly ran up asking "Can you please start the Chevette so we can move it"? Rob and I still get a laugh out of that.
|Specter AC130 gunship|
|Hurlburt Field AC130 gunships|
|The first gunship named Spooky that was a C-47 and used in Vietnam|
|Helicopters stationed @ Hurlburt|
|Jon & Deb @ Hurlburt|
|Rob & Misty @ Ft. Walton|
|Jon @ Hurlburt Field|
|Jon & Courtney|
|Me on a go kart|
|Me @ Eglin|
One morning, not long after buying the Colt, Rob took me to work at Cumberland -Swan. A few minutes after dropping me at work I got a call that Rob had been involved in an accident on the way home. When I arrived on the scene I had very mixed emotions. I was relieved that Rob was okay but my heart sank when I saw the damage to my new car. Three of my four tires were blown out. The rims were bent and massive damage was done mostly up under the car. Rob worked at Shoneys on Broad in Murfreesboro and had been up all night. He went to sleep at the wheel and ran over a high curb knocking down a stop sign. The sign came down across the hood and roof denting them and cracking my windshield. The car ran through the yard stopping just short of a nearby house. Rob was very lucky that he wasn't injured. I had not even paid my first payment on the car. If I had it all to do over I would have tried to have it totaled by the insurance company. However I tried to have it repaired and it was futile because the frame was bent and the undercarriage was never the same. After Rob's graduation he seemed to have a bad attitude and no apparent ambition. Which is pretty normal for an 18 or 19 year old. Then one day, out of the blue, Rob asked me if I could make an appointment for him with an Air National Guard recruiter. He took his ASVAB test but before he met with the ANG recruiter he changed his mind and asked me to set him up with an active duty Air Force recruiter. I set up the appointment and when the day arrived he set off to the recruiters office. Later that afternoon I was shocked hear that he was not joining the Air Force but the Navy. He said that he was on time for his appointment with the Air Force recruiter but the recruiter never showed. A Navy recruiter saw his opportunity and as they say the rest is history. I was surprised that he didn't join the Air Force ,but not disappointed. Any branch of service was okay with me. I was proud that he wanted to serve his country and it was just what the doctor ordered. He seemed to grow up overnight. In March 1989 we saw him off at the Nashville airport. He was bound for Navy boot camp at the Great Lakes Naval Base in Illinois. I knew something about what he was in for and I wrote him a note of encouragement that I slipped in his shaving bag. He later told me in a letter that he cried when he read it. That meant a lot to me.
|A before picture of my Dodge Colt|
|And after picture|
|Rob's graduation from Smyrna High|
|Rob and his girlfriend Jodie|
|Bush campaign of 1988 @ M.T.S.U.|
|Courtney & MIsty|
|Misty going to the prom|
|Dancing with Deb @ our twenty year high school reunion|
|Weapons training @ Tullahoma|
|118th Arms Room|
|A class @ Elam Rd SDA church where I gave a Civil War presentation|
|The gang @ Easter|
He made it through boot camp and was scheduled to graduate in May. We made plans to be there for the graduation ceremony. I don't know if it was because of the Vietnam war but I didn't have a graduation ceremony when I graduated from Air Force basic training. We packed up the kids and Courtney who was about a year and a half old and headed for Illinois. Somewhere in Illinois I was waved over by a State Trooper who was standing on the side of the road. A helicopter had clocked me speeding. Illinois is so flat that I was doing ninety before I even knew it. I loved all the pomp and ceremony of Robbie's graduation. We had a ball. Rob's fiance Jody flew up to Chicago where I picked her up at O'Hare airport just before the ceremony. Even though it was May it was freezing cold and the ceremony was held inside a hangar. Afterwards we went to a nearby theme park that was a lot of fun but we froze to death. Unbelievably the park was operating the water rides and people were actually riding them. The next morning I looked out the window of our motel room and it was snowing. The flakes were as big as quarters. After we left to go back home Rob remained behind to finish his A- School at Great Lakes. He was being trained to be an Operation Specialist. Later in the summer my Air Guard Security Police unit was assigned to Charleston AFB for our two week summer camp. I was in hog heaven. Debbie and I had gone there for a day when our summer camp was in Savannah back in 1979. I loved it then but now I had two weeks to explore Charleston. The family couldn't go with me that year and I had Charleston all to myself. When I wasn't training I was walking the streets touring old houses, churches, cemeteries and reading historical markers. Myself and some of my friends toured the aircraft carrier Yorktown and I was able to go out to Ft. Sumter for the 2nd time. A few days before I left Charleston Debbie told me that Robbie was being assigned to the USS Wainwright and it was docked at Charleston Naval Base. I drove there and found the ship which was a guided missile cruiser. After taking a few pictures of the ship I boasted to Rob that I got to see it before he did. This was in July and Rob didn't arrive in Charleston until Monday September 18, 1989. A category 4 hurricane named Hugo was headed directly at Charleston. The Wainwright and all the ships based in Charleston were ordered out to sea in order to ride out the storm. The storm hit Charleston on Thursday September 21st and damaged much of the city and virtually destroyed the barrier Islands like Folly Island, Isle of Palms, and Sullivan's Island where it first made landfall. Rob had never been on a ship in his life and was seasick for three solid days as the ship rode out the storm. The crew was confined below deck the whole time. The following is from Wikipedia. (It, (Hurricane Hugo) formed over the eastern Atlantic near the Cape Verde Islands on September 9, 1989. Hugo moved thousands of miles across the Atlantic, rapidly strengthening to briefly attain category 5 hurricane strength on its journey. It later crossed over Guadeloupe and St. Croix on September 17 and 18 as a category 4 hurricane. Weakening slightly more, it passed over Puerto Rico as a strong category 3 hurricane. Further weakening occurred several hours after re-emerging into the Atlantic, becoming downgraded to a category 2 hurricane. However, it re-strengthened into a category 4 hurricane before making landfall just slightly north of Charleston, on Sullivans Island September 21 with 140 mph sustained winds (gusts to more than 160 mph). It had devolved to a remnant low near Lake Erie by the next day. As of 2016, Hurricane Hugo is the most intense tropical hurricane to strike the East Coast north of Florida since 1900. Hurricane Hugo caused 34 fatalities (most by electrocution or drowning) in the Caribbean and 27 in South Carolina. It left nearly 100,000 people homeless, and resulted in $10 billion in damage overall, making it the most damaging hurricane ever recorded. Of this total, $7 billion was from the United States and Puerto Rico, ranking it as the costliest storm to impact the country at the time. Since 1989, however, it has been surpassed by multiple storms and now ranks as the eleventh costliest in the United States.) Later that year Robbie would go on a Med cruise for six months. The first weekend of April 1990 we were scheduled for a field exercise in Smyrna. A cold front came through that weekend and it was freezing for April. After setting up our base camp we fought mock battles all day with the Vanderbilt ROTC unit. At one point we almost burned down Smyrna when we accidentally set dry grass on fire with smoke grenades. We all stopped playing war long enough to fight the fire. It was touch and go for a while. After a very long day and very late Saturday night we were allowed to go to bed. I was freezing when I went to bed and we were not allowed to have fires to warm up. Thinking I would be warmer if I left my uniform on I crawled into my sleeping bag. No matter what I tried I never could get comfortable but I did finally drift off to sleep. About 1:00 in the morning I woke up shaking violently from the cold. It scared me because I thought I was getting hypothermia. I was shaking so bad that I could barely get my boots on. My tent mate was my our NCOIC of security, Sergeant Nicholson. Very carefully I was able to get out of the tent without waking him. I hadn't been that cold in a long time. Everything was covered with frost. The camp was totally quiet and no one was up. An idea suddenly occurred to me. I only lived six miles from where we were camped. The walk would warm me up and I could get my car, drive it to a place out of sight of the camp. I could leave the heater on in the car until just before sunrise. Then I could sneak back into camp before anyone was up. It was risky but freezing wasn't an option for me. I drove my car and parked next to Stewarts Creek near the camp. Just before dawn, warm and toasty, I sneaked back into my tent and into my sleeping bag without being discovered.
Rob's ship was scheduled to return around the middle of April 1990. We were able to drive down and see his ship as it arrived in Charleston. Debbie's sister Judy and her kids along with myself, Debbie, the kids and Rob's girlfriend Jody were all waiting at dockside as the USS Wainwright pulled up with the ships crew all wearing their summer white uniforms and lining the rails. It was a sight to behold. I swelled with pride. We were as excited to see Robbie as he was to see us. Rob got some leave time and we were able to tour Charleston. We all rode the tour boat out to Ft. Sumter. The 3rd time for me. Later we drove out to Sullivan's Island and Isle of Palms. I was shocked to see the devastation caused by the hurricane. Especially on the Isle of Palms Most everything had been destroyed and debris was piled up everywhere. I was unable to recognize hardly anything. While Robbie was stationed in Charleston he and a friend would drive home many times on a weekend pass. It took anywhere from seven to eight hours to drive from Murfreesboro to Charleston. They would usually stay to the very last minute at our house before leaving for Charleston. Many times one of them would show up to answer for both at roll call while one parked the car, cutting it too close for comfort. On one occasion I got up at 4:30 in the morning for work at 6:00 A.M. As I walked out of the bathroom, in a very dark house, Rob jumped at me out at me hollering boo. Needless to say it scared the bejesus out of me and I thought I was going to have a heart attack. Rob had come home on a weekend pass and had been sitting in our den waiting for me to get out of bed. He heard me go into the restroom and waited outside the door. Rob can be a real brat sometimes but we still laugh about that one.
|Rob @ Great Lakes|
|Rob on the USS Wainwright in the Med|
That same June my Air Guard unit was scheduled to be deployed to RAF Mildenhall England. I was excited about this because we were organizing a tour package that would make it affordable to take our wives. Debbie's sister Sylvia wanted to take the trip which made it possible for Debbie to go. This was because she would have never have agreed to go on such a long trip by herself. This was my fourth overseas deployment and it was exciting to know that Debbie would finally get to go on one with me. We would celebrate our 22nd anniversary together. Our unit would go over on a brand new C-130-H model. We had been supplied with 16 of them straight off of the assembly line a few months earlier in February of 1990. There had been a ceremony attended by Tennessee governor Ned McWherter and Senator Jim Sasser. Sasser flew in on our first C-130 H named the Spirit of Music City which was painted on the side of the cockpit. The notes painted on the side were supposedly to the song, " I Am Proud To Be An American" by Lee Greenwood. This would be the same plane that we would fly back from England on. We would fly to England and go immediately into the field for a few days of ABGD training. The women would arrive the following week while we were still in the field. It had been a rough few days. I spent our anniversary in the rain and mud in the English countryside. Finally I was able to meet Debbie and Sylvia at the hotel that had been reserved for the wives. They had already seen Cambridge and a few surrounding villages. The rest of the weekend we spent touring Cambridge, Belvoir Castle, where we saw a joust, and London. I loved Cambridge, and especially the American War Cemetery there. It was one of the most beautiful cemeteries that I have ever seen. It was where American Airmen killed during the war in Europe were buried. I finally got to see London the right way. On a guided bus tour we toured London at a comfortable pace unlike the hurried frantic pace of 1985. The very next day there was an IRA (Irish Republican Army) terrorist bombing in one of the areas that we had visited . I really enjoyed the time Debbie and I spent together that week. It felt like we were on a second honeymoon. I was sad to see her go toward the end of the week. The last few days I was there by myself we pulled regular flight line security with the active duty SP's at Mildenhall. Not long after returning home from England Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990. The only thing that saved Rob's ship from being deployed to the Persian Gulf was that the Wainwright went into dry dock at Norfolk Virginia the day before on August 1st. The ship would be in dry dock a year and Rob would be stationed at Norfolk until sometime in 1991. Within a few days President George H. W. Bush received permission from Saudi Arabia to send in American troops for the purpose of defense. In time a coalition of numerous Arab nations, along with other world powers formed a coalition through the UN to defend Saudi Arabia from Iraqi aggression. A mandate was passed in the UN to reclaim Kuwait. A line was drawn in the sand and Operation Desert Shield was put in motion. I will never forget the day that the 101st Airborne Division was mobilized and sent southeast to the seaport of Savannah for shipment to Saudi Arabia. People were gathered along every overpass holding up American flags and signs cheering on the troops as convoy after convoy drove the length of I-24 on their way to Savannah. The hair stood up on the back of my neck as I witnessed a surge of patriotism in the country. A few weeks later a Smyrna National Guard unit left for the desert with citizens and Lavergne High School students cheering them on down Sam Ridley Blvd. behind a police escort. Rumors swept through our unit as we waited for possible activation for duty in the desert. We were all encouraged to make out wills as a precaution. I made one out. It bothered me that I had waited as long as I did to make out a will. Considering I lost my parents at such an early age and daddy had no will. Saddam Hussein supposedly had the 4th largest army in the world and people were worried for our troops. In the first weeks as we were setting up Desert Shield the worry was that Saddam would attack while we were the most vulnerable. Nevertheless I was hoping that we would get the call to go. I felt that we had a good cause an maybe our leaders would fight a war the right way for a change.
|Deb @ Tower bridge|
As it turned out America fought the war right. Right up to the point of total victory. Then we dropped the ball. by not finishing the job. On the morning of January 17th 1991 the American and allied forces opened a massive air campaign against Iraq. I was shopping at Roses department store in Murfreesboro the night Operation Desert Storm started. I was watching CNN on the display televisions as the sky over Baghdad erupted in an unbelievable display of Iraqi antiaircraft fire. They were unsuccessfully trying to hit our Stealth fighters that were bombing selected targets with pinpoint accuracy. I was excited as I called Debbie to let her know that the war had started and I suddenly realized that she was crying as I hung up the phone. She had already heard the news. Over the next month and a half we watched amazing footage of pinpoint bombing of targets in Iraq. Footage of Saudi Arabia and Israel being attacked by Iraqi Scud missiles. The fear that chemical weapons would at some point be unleashed on our troops and Israel but the chemical attacks never happened. My Air Guard unit finally received orders for activation. However we were not going to Saudi Arabia or overseas as I was hoping. We were activated to provide 24/7 security of our aircraft in Nashville due to the elevated terrorist threat level caused by the war. Altogether we were on active duty for about a month and a half. I was disappointed because I wanted to take a more active role in the war. We basically patrolled the flight line in vehicles during that time. On midnight shifts we would sometimes take turns sleeping. One would drive while the other slept in the passenger seat. One night I was working with a new Airman. He slept while I drove. When it was my turn to sleep I felt a little uneasy about this guy but I was very sleepy. I don't know how long I had been asleep when I felt a thump and I looked up just in time to see us headed straight toward the nose of a C-130. The Airman was sound asleep at the wheel. I screamed at him and he woke up just in time to brake before hitting the aircraft. Needless to say there was no more sleeping that night. I could see myself trying to explain how we ran into a C-130. The country was in a very patriotic mood and to my surprise Bridgestone announced that they were going to pay any Guard members that were activated their full salary while on active duty. My active duty pay wasn't very much. At the time I was making over twenty dollars an hour at Bridgestone. They would pay the difference between my active duty pay and my Bridgestone pay. I was very thankful. The nation was holding it's breath contemplating the onset of the ground war. The media was telling us that Iraq had the fourth largest army in the world. We were constantly reminded by the media how elite that the Iraqi Republican guard was. We didn't have a clue how many casualties we were going to have. The media estimated that there could be as high as 10 to 15 thousand American casualties. Many body bags were shipped to the desert. The ground war started on February 24th and ended on my 41st birthday, February 28, 1991. We cut through their forces like a hot knife through butter. Thousands of Iraqi troops gladly surrendered to American forces after constant bombing by Allied and American air forces. The body bags were used for Iraqi bodies rather than American. Our doctors treated way more Iraqi casualties than American or Allied forces. Coalition forces suffered 292 killed (147 killed by enemy action, 145 non-hostile deaths) 467 wounded in action, and 776 wounded. Many of our troops were killed by friendly fire. Iraqi forces suffered 20,000 to 35,000 killed and 75,000+ wounded. The country was relieved because we suffered so few casualties and a wave of patriotism swept over the country. There were numerous parades and celebrations as we welcomed our troops home as heroes over the next few weeks and months after the end of the four day ground war.
In 1991 we spent two weeks at Pope A.F.B. North Carolina or "No Hope Pope" as it was called near Ft. Bragg. We did some ABGD training and some exercises with the Army M.P.'s from Ft. Bragg. It was interesting watching the Army paratroopers boarding C-141's on Green Ramp. Carrying all their gear and parachutes made them look like ducks waddling across the ramp. In 1994 while the 82nd Airborne was involved in a training exercise on Green Ramp an Air Force F-16 collided with a C-130 and the wreckage from the fighter plowed into a C-141 and soldiers that were preparing to board the aircraft killing 24 men. The two crew members of the F-16 and the crew of the C-130. survived. In early 1993 our SP commander at the time requested that our unit be allowed to deploy to Alaska for summer camp. I have never had a desire to go to Alaska. Luckily our commander got a job offer with his civilian job that he could not turn down. The commander that took his place put in for Hickam AFB in Hawaii. I was ecstatic because I had always wanted to go there. My twenty years of service was almost up and I figured that this would be my last chance to go there. We pulled a guard drill the first weekend in March and we were scheduled to deploy on March 13, just a few days away. During a meeting on Saturday of drill weekend we were told that we would have to weigh in. Those of us who were overweight would not be able to deploy to Hawaii. I was the weight control monitor for our unit. It was not an enviable job. Some of the guys would take their anger out on me when they failed their weigh in. Some of the higher ranks that were overweight would not let me weigh them. They would go across the street to the orderly room where a friend would pass them in spite of their weight. I had no control over this but lower ranking Airmen, like myself, did not have that option. We had to go by the book. Your proper weight was governed by two factors. Height and body mass. For example I am 6' 3" tall and my maximum weight was 220 lbs. I didn't totally understand the body mass factor but a tape measure was used to measure body mass. For example a weight lifter might exceed their maximum weight by height but they could pass using the tape measure test. I was 14 pounds overweight because I weighed in at 234 lbs. My heart sank because I only had 6 days to lose 14 pounds. Everyone was skeptical that I could lose that much weight in less than a week. I was determined to make it happen and nobody was going to keep me from going to Hawaii. Over the next six days I ate very little and when I did eat it was something like a can of tuna. I ran as many miles as I could over the next few days. A friend loaned me his membership card to the Donelson YMCA and I used their sauna a couple of times and their indoor track. After a few days my commander called to say that there had been a meeting and it was decided that I couldn't go because there was no way that I would be able to lose the weight. I went off on him and told him that I would lose the weight and there was no way that I was not going to be on that plane. My tone was insubordinate but I was mad. Luckily he changed his mind and said that he would stick to his original agreement. We were leaving on Saturday and I was scheduled for a weigh in on Friday afternoon in the orderly room. On Thursday afternoon I weighed in at Bridgestone and I was still 3 pounds over weight. Bridgestone is 10 miles from my house and I decided to leave my car at work and walk home. The next morning before the weigh in I drove to the Donelson YMCA and sat in the sauna. After that I ran on their indoor track. Finally I drove over to the base for the weigh in. I weighed in at exactly 220 lbs. I experienced a tremendous wave of relief and a feeling of exaltation. That night and into the next day March 13, 1993 the southeastern states were slammed by a huge snow storm. Cities that were further south like, Atlanta, received over 25 inches of snow and were virtually shut down. When I arrived at the base to leave for Hawaii there was a foot of snow on the ground. I can't describe the feeling of pride that I had when I saw the looks on my fellow Guardsman's faces when I walked in the door. They couldn't believe that I had lost that much weight so quickly. I wasn't out of the woods yet. When I arrived in Hawaii I would be weighed again in their orderly room. If I failed that weigh in I would be forced to board another plane and return home immediately. I was starving and I wanted to eat again but I had to wait a few more days. After a 6 hour flight to the west coast we landed at Travis AFB in San Francisco for a layover. The next morning we took off for Hickam AFB in Honolulu and flew another 7 hours. As we made our approach the Island of Oahu looked beautiful from the air. The island seemed to display all of the colors of the rainbow. After landing we were led over to the orderly room for a weigh in. To my consternation I had gained about two pounds since Friday. Luckily I passed with the tape measure test and was able to stay in Hawaii. Supper really tasted good that night in the chow hall. I managed to hold my weight down for about a year after Hawaii before I started gaining weight again.
Although Hawaii was much warmer than home, and there was no snow on the ground, the islands were going through their own cold front. The temperature was a cool 65 degrees when we landed. With the ocean breezes it was cooler than I expected. However it warmed up considerably over the next few days. Our barracks were maybe a couple hundred yards from the beach and we enjoyed a great view of the Pacific Ocean. People are usually incredulous when I tell them that I did not go to the beach or swim the entire time I was in Hawaii. I just don't enjoy swimming that much and never have. The ocean is beautiful to look at but that is the extent of my interest. Hickam is the most beautiful air base that I have ever been on. I have been on some beautiful air bases. What was pretty neat for me is that the December 7, 1941 Japanese air attack is still very evident on base. Most of the buildings that were there during the attack are still around. The fire department, aircraft hangars and a huge barracks building that was there during the attack are still there. The building that was the barracks now houses the headquarters for PACAF or Pacific Air Forces. These buildings still have bullet holes and battle damage everywhere. Especially the headquarters building. Almost every inch of this building was strafed by Japanese planes and sixty airmen died there that day. I was able to get a good then and now picture of the barracks building near the flag pole, which is where the flag pole was during the attack. There is a famous picture of a tattered and bullet ridden flag flying while the barracks burns in the background. I was able to find the location where the original photographer was standing and took a modern day picture. There is a great little museum inside the headquarters building that houses the original battle damaged flag that flew that day. This same flag flew over the White House on the day that Japan surrendered in 1945. There is also a beautiful water tower that is 171 feet tall and was built in 1938. It is still in use and has been renamed the Freedom Tower. There is a great bus system on Oahu that travels around the entire Island. I believe the fare was only a dollar at that time. We took advantage of this bus system and I believe I visited Honolulu almost everyday while I was there. I loved Waikiki, Diamond Head and we would go to Ft. Derussy which was a historic military resort on the beach. There were historic hotels on Waikiki and a huge international flea market that was really neat. My sister Carolyn Segroves Kemper had been living in Oahu since she moved there with her husband in 1978. My brother-in-laws name was John Kemper and he was a WW2, Korea and Vietnam veteran. If I am not mistaken John served over 30 years in the army. When he met Carolyn he was stationed at Ft. Campbell as a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne. Carolyn was born in November 1940 and she met John when she was around 14 and he was 26. They were married in the mid 1950's and if John and Carolyn are still alive they are probably still married. I don't know because a few years ago I heard that Carolyn disowned our family. She has refused to answer my phone calls over the last few years and has broken off all contact with everyone here in the states. Why she has done this is a mystery to all of us. We have done nothing to upset her. In 1993 however Carolyn and I were still in contact with each other. I called her number and told her that I was in Hawaii. She brought my brother-in -law John with her when she came to see me at Hickam. Carolyn seemed genuinely excited to see me. She was living in a condominium in Aiea Hawaii, which is just above Pearl Harbor. I only visited her home one time while I was there and she had a great view of Pearl Harbor from her back door. For the whole two weeks I was there she would come and pick me up and we would either go sight seeing or sit in her car and talk for hours. We talked a lot about her memories of daddy, mother and the family. I am always curious about these things. She gave me a grand tour of Waikiki and Honolulu. We also went to the Punchbowl military cemetery and the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. My niece Carmella went with us to the Punchbowl. She was engaged at the time to a sailor who was a submariner at Pearl. He would later become an officer. I tried to capitalize on this experience and become closer to Carolyn. We communicated with each other for years after I left Hawaii by phone and mail. She even sent me gifts but after her mother died she cut off all communication with me, her brother Michael and my sister Faye. She refused to come back home for her mothers funeral. While in Hawaii I lucked up and worked day shifts the whole two weeks I was there primarily on the flight line. On a couple of days however I worked at a radar station on Ka'ena Point. This wasn't too far from the Opana Point location where an Army mobile radar station detected the attack on Pearl Harbor. Ka'ena Point had a spectacular view of the Hawaiian coast line from the radar station which was on top of the mountain.
On June 21, 1993 Debbie and I were going to have our 25th wedding anniversary and I wanted it to be special. I told her that I wanted to renew our vows and she agreed. When we were married I was too shy to sing to her. I was too shy to sing in public at all. Other than the Christmas Eve party in Turkey I never had the courage to sing in front of people. Not until I was 29 and attending Florence Baptist church in Murfreesboro did I find the courage to sing. We visited there one Sunday and the pastor came by our house a few days later. Before leaving he casually mentioned that his church was going to have a talent contest. I told him that I would like to sing and he put me in the line-up. My self esteem has always been low and I wasn't sure how I would be received. People seemed to be impressed by my singing voice and many came up to me later and complimented me on my song. This gave me the courage to sing in public and I have never had a problem since. I have even auditioned for America's Got Talent and The X Factor several times without success. Over the years I have sung at a multitude of churches and before large audiences without a problem. My low self esteem affects my stage presence and that continues to be a hindrance to me. I had always wanted to sing to Debbie and this was my opportunity. She wasn't expecting this and it would be a surprise. I asked my Uncle Bud to officiate and I knew a lady that agreed to play the piano. Most of our family and some friends attended. This was a much bigger group than attended the first wedding in 1968. As Debbie walked from the back of the church toward the altar I began singing I'll Still Be Loving You by Restless Heart. I could see the surprise on her face and I began to be overcome with emotion. We stood there together and repeated our vows. After we finished I sang Through The Years by Kenny Rogers as I held her hand and looked into her eyes. This was our song and both of us were crying. I was crying so hard that it was all I could do to finish the song. It could not be possible to feel more love for a woman than I felt for Debbie at that moment. Most everybody in the audience was crying along with us. Someone told me later that they had never been as moved by a wedding as they were by this one.
|Hickam's water tower aka the Freedom Tower|