Friday, September 30, 2011

September, Out Like A Lion!/VSPA Reunion at Dayton, a Look Ahead!

As I headed to Spencerville yesterday afternoon, I had packed almost every kind of wearing apparel gear I had, into the van.  It was almost 70 degrees,  but breezy, and a large mass of rain was heading out of Chicago and Indiana, right towards I packed it all.

Arriving at the stadium, my partners, and I were all discussing what to wear for the game, being a non varsity game it didn't matter that we all wore the same three of us decided on shorts and short sleeve shirts, while the other was a little smarter, Rob donned long sleeves and long pants.  The game started out cloudy, but the rain held off until just before halftime....then skies opened up, and at the half, we walked/jogged towards the was raining hard enough for me to go to the car and grab my stripped rain jacket, although I decided to leave the shorts on....just after the second half started, with the field already a mess of mud and water, the wind picked up, and the rain came in earnest...blowing straight from west to the fourth quarter, even with the lights on, you could barley see....with the home team up 28-8, visiting Bluffton finally decided to let us kill the rest of the game.  Just six minutes left on the clock, it was over....I drove the 20 miles back to Celina with towells on the bucket seat, and wet clothes still on....chilled to the bone.

Patricia was out with Anissa and friends when I got home...I warmed the American Chops up that I had fixed before leaving for the game...that and a baked potato, a couple of beers, and I knew I was done for the night....It was only 8:27 when I climbed the stairs for the sack.  I stayed in bed for 11 hours...and still fee the aches and pain of the wet contests on both Monday and last night, and their effects on my body.

September, record rain____

What a year it has been, on crops, lawns, and ones state of mind....cold and wet Spring, followed by a hot, dry, two months of July and August...and now, as September ends, we find it has been a record breaker, with rains the likes that have not been seen in the change over month from Summer to Fall....the second week of the month, and this last week, have been plagued by low pressure areas, that have had showers and storms circulating around the Midwest and Great Lakes, and dropping more than our share, and more rain than we need.

Once the rain ends today or late tonight it should they say.  A couple of cool days over the weekend, but next week looks dry and seasonable....just in time for our VSPA Dayton Reunion, they say it will be sunny and all days in the low to mid 70s for highs....let's hope they are correct.

Gearing Up for The VSPA Reunion_____

Next week our annual Reunion of Vietnam Security Police begins at Dayton/Fairborn/Wright Patterson...the last time it was held in Dayton was 2002.  The VSPA has both grown and shrank since that week 9 years has grown in membership numbers, but it has lost many members as well.  When your organization is made up of guys from their late 50s through early 80s, things happen...our numbers had swelled to the 1200 area a couple of years ago, as the Internet as we age, and guys start passing on, I doubt if our numbers will be increasing in any significant way.  Of course over 700 of us are life members, and our dues have been paid for the association, financially, is in good hands.....but numbers wise, you cannot stop father time.

Despite banging heads with some of the leaders of the VSPA over the 12 years since I found the group, I have found many new friends, whom I didn't serve with, plus contacted with several old friends that I have not seen in over 40 years..from my days at Nha Trang and Tan Son Nhut.  This year, after 42 years, I will get to see my old friend from the 14th SPS at Nha Trang, Harry Bevan.  Harry returned home in late 1969, and after his discharge from the Air Force went on to become a K9 Officer in his hometown of Philadelphia.  I have not seen Harry, although we have corresponed for some 10 years, since the late fall of 1969.  Patricia and I are looking forward to seeing him and his wife Anna next week in Dayton.

Some of the other guys, Tony Niemotka, and maybe Bruce Thompson, will be there as's been a long, long time.  Add these to my friends from other bases and times, Sam Lewis, Tom McCandless, Jackie Kays, Bill Ramey, Jack Smith, my old homie from Scott, Ohio,  Bill Marshall, and a dozen or more others, should make this reunion a great one...too much to do, in a short time, but will get as much done, and as many visits in as possible, before heading back late Saturday night.  I will be in and out of the Dayton area, and on the highway between there and Celina some days, Patricia will take Thursday off, but return to work Friday, and head back to Dayton on Saturday, in time for the final Banquet.

Hopefully I will return with many photos and stories, and I know with many memories....

back later>>>>

Photos-The Vietnam Security Police Association Reunion kicks off next Wednesday at Wright-Patterson, near Dayton.  (2) What to wear...?  Last nights game saw about everything but snow.....(3)Me(L) and Harry Bevan, in the fall of 1969, we will meet, God willing, for the first time in almost 42 years next week in Dayton....and (4) Tony Niemotka, standing many years ago at the Nha Trang Main Gate, another LE guy from the 14th in 1969 will be there as well.....

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Greatest Night in Televised Baseball History? Without A Doubt!

I had planned on going to be fairly early last night....several reasons:  (1) I had to fast beginning at 8pm, in prelude to my Cholesterol blood test this morning.  (2) Football Game this afternoon.  (3) I had mowed two yards in the wet conditions, between showers and sprinkles, and frankly was sore and tired.  Well as the say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions....

No, not Hell, but Major League Baseball, threw a wrench in my plans....

The Greatest Night in MLB History(at least as far as television.... 

The Red Sox and Braves both had opportunities to avoid MLB  History....that history could see both teams perform two of the greatest chokes in Baseball History....and both failed, right in front of the audience and a series of televised games that, if you are a baseball fan like me, had your TV Remotes smoking...ESPN, ESPN 2, and the MLB Network, were the scenes of some of the most dramatic downfalls and games pulled out of the fire that you can imagine.

Both Boston and Atlanta, just a few days ago, seemed to have the Wild Card spots locked up in their leagues.  Boston led Tampa Bay by 8 1/2 games in early September, while the Braves had a similar lead over St. Louis as the final couple of weeke approached.  It seemed to be over, the division races had been decided, and the Wild Cards seemed secure for the Sox and Atlanta....but not so fast....

I was a kid of 15 back in 1964, when the Philadelphia Phillies made what seemed an impossible collupse.  Leading the Reds and Cards by 5 and 6 games with just 8 left, the Phils proceeded to be overtaken, first by the Reds, who then gave it away to St. Louis.  A few years ago, Colorado won 14 of their last 15 to overtake Arizona and San Diego, to win the West, that however was more of the Rockies winning, than the rest gagging.....this year it was an amazing combination of both, and it was played out in the late night and early morning hours of last night and this morning.

First off, in the one blow-out of the night, St. Louis dispatched  Houston behind Chris Carpenter's 2 hit shutout, 8-0....the other three games were the stuff of legends.  

Here are the contenders in the National League Playoffs:

Tampa Bay now tied with Boston fell behind the Yankees(already clinched and in) 7-0 after the second inning, it seemed they would need a Red Sox lost to force a one game playoff...however Evan Longoria and Dan Johnson would not let the Rays go quietly.  Longoria hit a 3 run homer in the  six run 8th to cut the lead to 7-6, then with 2 outs in the 9th and Tampa Bay down to their last strike, Johnson rocked one into the right field bleachers, tying the game...Longoria finished off the Yankees, and as it turned out, the Red Sox, with another home run, this one a walk off winner in the 12th, 8-7 was the final.

Meanwhile Boston, leading 3-2 with 2 out and nobody on, and their closer Jonathon Pappleton on the mound, seemed ready to at least force that one game playoff....the lowly Orioles had other thoughts...two doubles and a single later, the Red Sox had lost, and seconds later would watch the Rays take the Wild Card spot.

Over in the National League aka "Senior Circuit", the Braves jumped out 3-1 over the Phillies, who really had nothing to play for.  Philadelphia had long ago clinched the East and the best record in the NL, for the home field advantage....but Charlie Manuel's club played it straight...tying the game in the 9th, then plating the go ahead and winning run, to knock the Braves out...9 games up on St. Louis on September 2nd....less than 4 weeks later, it was gone, and so were the Braves.  Atlanta had numerous scoring opportunities, where they left men on base.

What a night, what TV Drama...sure it's only baseball, not real life...but it doesn't get much better than what happened last night, if you are a baseball fan....and heck, none of these teams are my Reds...although I do root for Tampa Bay in the AL, and could enjoy them or their opponent in the first round, Texas, winning it all.  Regardless, this was a fitting end to the regular season, and I am ready for the playoffs, which begin tomorrow, with the Rays at Texas at 5pm EDT.

For all of the reviews and previews go here:

The American League Playoff Teams:



Wednesday, September 28, 2011

MLB...The Wild, Wild Card Races, part 2

After morning rains, the sun came out briefly as I headed the 50 miles north to work a Junior High Football game at Antwerp....I thought to myself...."Damn, I've over-dressed", I had donned a pair of black
Starter workout pants with underall beneath....a Starter shirt would go beneath whichever football shirt I would wear. With the sun out I figured, I might sweat a bit.  By the time I arrived at the stadium, I could see a large group of black clouds continuing their low pressure circle, the same system that had been dumping rain on us, off and on, for days, was about to give us another shower...I was glad I had over-dressed.  As Terry, and the other Pat, and I whistled the game to begin, the showers started.  I had already put on my stripped rain would not help much.

The downpour continued through the first half.  With visiting Hicksville, up big, I decided to keep the clock moving as quick as possible in the second half....the rain subsided some, but already soaked to the didn't do much good.   After the game, I changed shoes, but made the hour trip back to Celina, soaked to the bone.  I enjoyed a good hot shower, and a cold beer shortly after arriving at the house. 

No game tonight, seldom are on Wednesdays in these parts.....tomorrow I will head back to Spencerville for the third time since Saturday, and work another JH game.  Saturday I have another triple header scheduled....a JV Game at Crestview and a baseball duo back at Spencerville.

The Crazy Wild Card Races Continue_____

After arriving home, showering, and cracking open a Miller Lite, I sat down and watched the Reds...don't know why, except the season is winding down, and no football was on.   As the night unfolded, Cincinnati eventually won, getting out of a bases loaded jam in the last inning, to defeat the Mets.  In the action that counted however, things got very interesting.

Both Boston's Red Sox, and the Tampa Bay Rays won, to remain deadlocked for the Wild Card spot in the American may solve that situation...if not, they will play a one game playoff tomorrow for the final playoff spot....The same is now the situation in the NL.  The Atlanta Braves have completed one of the biggest chokes since the 1964 Phillies, and with their lost to the modern Phils, have dropped into a tie with St. Louis for the National League Wild Card.  The Cardinals, down 5-0 at Houston, came back and defeated the Astros 13-6 to even things up with, like in the AL the NL is facing a possible one game playoff, if those teams remain tied after tonight's action.

The post season begins on Friday, with those games and locations, yet to be decided....MLB is burning the Midnight Oil.....great stuff!

back later>>>>

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

MLB...The Wild, Wild Card Races

As Patricia was walking out to the garage this morning, and as we were talking, I looked to the west and saw a the west, in the early rare is that?  I grabbed the camera, but as quick as it came, it was gone.  Rats!  No photo to share...

The unwelcome and unneeded rain that was approaching seems to by dying out as it hits the Indiana/Ohio State Line...however they are still calling for a 60% chance of showers, under cool, cloudy skies...if the rain stays away, I will get after mom's and our lawns.  Both are in serious need of a mowing.  Our lawn, just mowed last Wednesday, is particularly in a heavy growth spurt.  More like April or early May than late hopefully the rains will not get here before I can mow...but as I look out the windows, it's getting pretty dark.

Baseball's Second Season, and the Wild, Wild Card showdown____

Any regular reader of this blog knows, my favorite sport, whether it be to umpire, as I do these days, watch, play or coach, is and always has been Baseball.  However with the Reds eliminated long ago, my interest wanedCincinnati, after a surprise showing to win the NL Central last season, fell on their faces this season, and sit in 3rd place, with the final two games looming.  This left me questioning who to follow in the post season, and who to root for and against.  It seemed pretty cut and dried just a couple of weeks ago.  The Yankees, Detriot, and Texas, would win their divisions in the American League, and Boston's Red Sox would be the Wild Card team.  Over in the NL, it would be Arizona, the Phillies, and Milwaukee, winning the divisions, while the Atlanta Braves would be the Wild Card representative.  

Not so fast Kemosabe.... 

Both the Red Sox and Atlanta went into massive swoons the past two weeks, thus leaving the door open for Tampa Bay and St. Louis to take the Wild Card spots that were opening up.

After last nights loss, Boston finds themselves in a dead heat with the Rays of Tampa Bay, with two games to go....Boston is playing the lowly Baltimore Orioles, who thumped them last night, meanwhile Tampa Bay is playing the Yankees...who seem to be on cruise control, and not playing every regular...who can blame them?  After all, the aging New Yorkers need all the rest they can get....Boston has put themselves in this situation, and is now on the verge of paying the price.

Meanwhile over in the NL, a team that all Reds fans despise, the St. Louis Cardinals, have made a comeback, thanks to the Braves falling on hard times.   One game separates the teams...and if not for St. Louis choking in extra innings, they would be it stands St Louis faces the last place Astros in Texas, while the Braves are up against Philadelphia, who despite it's recent slump, is probably the best team in baseball, especially given their pitching staff.  Both teams have two games to go.

So, who to root for...?

My mom's family are big Phillie fans, always have I don't hate Philadelphia, root for that nasty cities Hockey Team, the Flyers, have for years.  Nothing against Arizona, wife if from Wisconsin and her family are Brewers fans.  Not a fan of Atlanta, but hope that they dispatch St. Louis.  When it comes down to the bottom line, in the NL, I really don't care.....with the exception of the Cards and Braves, I could support the other three.

Meanwhile over in the AL....I despise the Yankees.  I grew up a Yankee fan in the 1950s and early 60s while living in Florida...but Mantle, Ford, Berra, and Maris, were easy for a kid to root, they are a over-hyped team with too much money to spend, and I can't stand them. They try to buy a championship every season, and when they lose, baseball wins.  No fan of Boston either....I like Texas, especially ex-Red Josh Hamilton, don't mind the Tigers, their manager is a Buckeye.  But if Tampa Bay slips in...I will be rooting for them all the way.  The family was in attendance in 1999, with video camera in hand, when Wade Boggs homered for his 3000 hit, in August of that year, in St Pete....still have the action on tape.  If the Rays don't make it, Detroit or Texas either one I could root for.

Regardless, I am looking forward to the next month....forget the NFL, or College Football, baseball is what will hold my interest, as far as being a fan.

back later>>>>

Photos-The MLB Playoffs begin this weekend...if the Rays make the Wild Card, I will be rooting for them, however, you gotta believe the Philadelphia Phils are the odds on favorites to take the World Series crown.

Monday, September 26, 2011

America-How Low Can You Go?

Heavy Rains poured through the area last night....adding unneeded moister to the already soaked appears it may move out of the area by Wednesday...then the forecast says cool to normal temps with sunshine for the rest of the week and weekend.

Worked a JV Football game at Spencerville on Saturday in the way of a linebacker and got hit just hard enough to knock my hip and back out of whack...doesn't take much at my age.  I still feel it.  The baseball double header was canceled by rain, but Sam and I did get the youth football double header in yesterday.....I made him do most of the running...tonight back at Spencerville for a Junior High game, the same tomorrow at Antwerp.

The downgrading of America and Western Society_____

As the months and years go by, I watch as our society and country descend into the shitter.  No moral compass, no honest politicians, the churches taken over by the far left and the Homosexual lobby.  Hollywood and pop culture glorifying the same.  Rap Music fully entrenched in the's a bad time.  Sure back in my day, Elvis and the Beatles would surly destroy America, so thought our parents and grandparents...but the stuff they brought is nothing like the filth, garbage, and perversion, that is glorified today.

I'm certainly no prude....Hell I ran a bar back in the middle 70s that the city leaders, police, and parents hated.  The Red Door was the name, and we were not a Sunday go to Meetin' hangout...However now,looking back that place was kids stuff, compared to the crap that is being tossed at the youth and young adults of today.  If you don't accept homosexuals(I call them fags) as "normal" then you are a Homophobe or a hater...Bullshit, it is not normal, there is nothing "Gay" about being queer.  Now they don't bother me, I try to live and let live...but when the radicals are in the forefront, we as a society have a problem....thanks to the Media, Pop Culture, and Hollywood, we have a big problem.  When perverts are allowed to push their agenda, we get sick bastards like this to open their perverted pie holes:

In my younger days, the faggot wouldn't have opened his mouth...and if he did, somebody would have shut it in quick allow this perverted bastard to continue to mouth off, says more about us as a society, than it does him.

They now preach in the pews of the churches...guess what it says in the Bible doesn't mean much to most denominations anymore....?  Once again that says more about us, as a society, than it does them.

They are glorified on the screen, made the heroes in movies and TV...the good guys as opposed to us evil straight folks, Christians, and Republicans....if you watch network TV, you would would think 50% of the population is queer.....and smart of course.

These days the most protected minorities are Queers(no using the Gay word), Illegals, and Islamic Terrorists....the most hated are Straight White Males, Black and Female Conservative Politicians, and Israel and it's Jewish population(done much by American Jews, who seem to love those that hate them).

So that's my rant for today...I don't give Jim Dandy's ass if you're queer, black, Muslim, White Trash Hillbilly, or "Progressive"....but don't come shoving it in my might get the son of a bitch cut or shot off.

Now that is off my chest, go out and enjoy the week....

back later>>>>

Friday, September 23, 2011

Football Friday and the Weekend Gridiron Wars...

More rain rolled through overnight...and as I begin to type, the leaden clouds are producing no rain, it appears, via Radar, that most has moved to the east...

It was mostly cloudy and dry at Delphos last night as we worked a Junior High game...Crestview, who defeated Celina 40-18 on Tuesday in the game I worked, was back in action against Jefferson.  After a close first 10 minutes or so, the host Jeff Cats put points on the board and came away with a 36-0 win.

Not filling in tonight, so I may walk up and watch the Grand Lake rivalry between Celina and their east side of the lake opponents, the St. Mary Roughriders....Celina lost 3 close ones out of the gate, before getting thumped last week at Wapak, meanwhile St. Marys, with just 1 win last season, sits at 2-2 so far in 2012....I expect a shoot out, Celina can't stop the run(which the Roughriders feature), and I doubt if St. Marys can stop the Bulldog passing game...should be 80 or more points scored, but you never know.

Tomorrow I have another triple header scheduled...this time they are all at Spencerville.  A JV Football game in the morning, then a double header Baseball outing at 2pm...if the rain stays away.  Sunday another youth Football double header, with Sam, here in Celina.

Speaking of Sam, he will do the play-by-play for Ohio State men's Soccer tonight, then work out of the Press Box at the OSU vs Colorado football game Saturday afternoon...The Buckeyes are starting Freshman Braxton Miller at QB, replacing a Senior, Joe Bauserman.  Here we go again!  Shades of Tressel tossing a Senior Class under the bus for Terrelle Pryor.  Let's hope this isn't the same outcome.  Tressel and Pryor together destroyed years of glory at Ohio State, let's hope the new coach doesn't do the same, just to please the idiot "fans" of Buckeye football.

The "Photo"

I worked a varsity football game at Rockford a couple of weeks ago, St. Henry vs the host Parkway Panthers, a dart ball playing acquaintance of mine, Pat Agler, is a photographer, and snapped a couple of shots of me in action.  The one at the top of the page was as I was walking off the field at half-time, and he just happened to catch my eye.  He showed me the full view of the photo, and I contacted him via e-mail and asked for a copy for my "wall"...He sent me this cropped version complete with OHSAA matting.   

Now people ask for a link to the story, Pat was just having fun.  If I was to get an interview for the OHSAA, it would not be football, probably the weakest of my 3 Varsity sports.  Baseball?  Maybe.  Football or Basketball?  I'm probably not the "veteran official" you want to interview.  But I enjoyed the photo and what he did with it...I put it on facebook last night, and thought I would add it to the blog this morning.

Next Week____

Next week I will head back to Minster to get my blood checked again...but sadly my Doctor of some 20 years, will not be there, he has chosen to retire, because of health issues of his own.  And he is a young man, at least by my standards.  So, I am left with a Nurse Practitioner, who by all accounts is good.  However, I am not happy with the way my body has reacted to the Zocor Doc put me on last month, and am considering dropping the daily intake of that Cholesterol  reducing drug.  Frankly, with the exception of the blood pressure meds, and a daily intake of Aspirin and Fish Oil, I am thinking seriously of dumping all medications. 

At 62 1/2 years old,  I realize that most of my pain and issues are the result of my active lifestyle, and past mishaps{multiple motorcycle wrecks, etc}....after all, how many men my age work 150-200 sporting events a year, life weights, and treadmill, along with consuming mass quantities of beer, camping out at Mushroom Hunts and Vietnam Reunions?  So I am sure much of the recent pain is a result of those activities, but I sure the Hell don't like taking the drugs...I would rather do what I want, without the medications, if I can....if God and Mother Nature decide I am doing the wrong thing by dumping most of the meds, I will take that chance.

Just one more thing on my  plate...and who says retirement is boring?   I'm not buying it...enjoy your weekend.

back later>>>>

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Back from Kokomo...Vietnam Veterans Reunion~Epilogue

Sun, mixed with clouds today, with rain coming tonight.....cooler temps and a wet weekend are a possibility as the end of the week approaches.

Kokomo part 5 Epilogue____

The temperatures dropped down to the middle 30s overnight on Thursday and into early Friday....the forecasters had missed the boat on much of the original forecast...predicting sunny skies and cool temps, they at least had the cool temps down correct.

Friday was the official opening day of the Reunion, although by any stretch, much of the groundwork and partying had gotten started long before that.  Sam Lewis had arrived on Sunday, McCandless on Monday, and I was there by Wednesday morning....Friday would see our new found friend Ian, back from Afghanistan, present the Organization President, Dollar Bill with a flag that his Med-Evac Chopper crew had flown in country.  New bricks would be placed at the Memorial Garden, including two purchased by Tom and the Boar's Nest.  All eight nurses, who paid the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam, would be honored with memorial bricks.  The American Bald Eagles would fly and the huge American Flag would be walked to it's spot above the memorial garden.

Other speakers and entertainment would go on throughout the day....Santa and his band of elves would make the rounds, picking up donations for the forgotten and nearly forgotten Veterans in Vet Nursing Homes in Indiana.  As for me....I would help move the flag, along with a few hundred others, I would for a short spell help Santa gather cash, and then finally I would visit the various campsites near and around the Boar's Nest, saying my good-byes to old and newly found friends at the Reunion.

All-in-all it was another great time, but all too short.   Last year 30 hours, this year, 52, hopefully next year God willing, I can make my stay longer...I also plan on being back for the mini-reunion, on the first weekend in June.

As I headed east on Indiana-26 I felt a tinge of regret that I had to leave early, but I was also glad to be facing a good warm shower, and sleeping in my own bed...

back later>>>>

Photos-(1)The Giant American Flag at the Memorial Garden lights up the night over the campgrounds-(2)Ian Weiger presents the flag flown over the Afgan War to HCVVO President "Dollar" Bill-(3) Ian joins Santa and Carl the Elf in collecting donations for aging Veterans-(4) Memorial Bricks in honor of those past warriors, including the 8 Nurses KIA, were place along side of those already laid in the healing grounds-(5) I do my small part with the presentation of the flag as we walked the giant symbol of America to the poles above the Memorial Garden-(6) Not all was party time, as Rick one of our neighbors from the 101st Airborn across the roadway, takes a catnap.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Kokomo Vietnam Veterans Reunion part 4

Today is the official beginning of fall, and it appears that the week ahead will be a prelude to just started out with rain showers overnight, and as I begin today's post it is cool, but humid outside....I'm almost ready to turn the A/C on just to get the moister out of the house.....thing look cool and somewhat wet for the remainder of the week.

No game tonight, back at it Thursday with a JH game at Delphos Jefferson....Saturday a football/baseball triple header, and Sunday Sam will return home and we will work a youth league double here in Celina.  Staying busy, and I can feel it in my legs and other areas, it's not easy getting old, and trying to stay active, but it sure beats the Hell out of sitting on one's backside for hours on end.

Kokomo part 4

I had planned on ending the Kokomo Reunion tour rehash today, but with the stories, and especially the photos, I think I will do one more day tomorrow, just to finish it up to my satisfaction.

Thursday Evening....

The group from the Boar's Nest and old and new friends headed out for the entertainment area late Thursday was mostly my drink of choice on this day.  After the hard stuff(which I seldom drink) I was back to my old habit of drinking lite beer along with some Sam Adams Autumn brews...I do however remember partaking in a sip or two of the other stuff along the way.  Accompanied by our new Afgan War buddy, Ian, and the old fighters from the Army and Marines during Vietnam, we spent the next few hours listening to the solo show of Russ Chandler, a retired Air Force Master Sgt...he entertained a few hundred folks for a couple hours, as we sat on golf carts and in lawn chairs....after that, as dark settled into the camping area, we moved to the entertainment stage area, and watched and listened to a mixed group of guys and girls called Lemon Wheel, perform songs and acts, mostly from the music of our era, but the ladies tossed in some Lady Ga-Ga as well...or as McCandless calls her, Lady Gag-Me. 

They performed for nearly four hours...but by this time, most of the gang, still feeling the effects of the night before, had headed off to bed.  That left me and Tom and a cooler of beers....we worked our way back to the camp on Tom's golf cart, stopping on occasion by a familiar group or two that had their bond fires goingIt was almost Midnight when we arrived back at the Boar's Nest, to discover that somebody had dressed "Sweetie Pie" in a outfit made for pimping(see yesterday)....we sat down with the guys from Bay City, and finished off the cooler of beers, before finally calling it a night sometime around 1:30 in the AM.

 Friday would be the official opening day of the Reunion, and I would remain for that and a few hours longer....but this would be my last night in camp...Friday and Saturday would beckon for the others, and there were bricks to be placed at the memorial, Ian Weiger would hand the flag flown in Afghanistan to Dollar Bill, the HCVVO Prez, and "Santa" and friends would make the rounds taking up donations for the Veterans Home....that part of the story, and photos will come on tomorrow's final segment...the reunion may be over, but those memories will be told again next year I am sure.

back later>>>>
Photos-One of the two VN Veterans who handle American Bald Eagles at the Reunion, the birds were a site to see, whether on their hand perch or flying during the opening ceremonies.  The late afternoon sun was setting as the entertainment on Thursday began...since I broke my good sunglasses on the golf course last week, I planted my "dorky" back up shades on my face to combat Sol.  One Thing about Tom McCandless, who has been at 26 of the 29 reunions, he knows just about everybody...whether it be HCVVO Board Membes, are grunts from the Army, Marines, or Navy retired or other career handlers from their Air Force days....Tom makes it easy to get around and make new friends, or find old ones....The final photo is a group of my pool playing buddies from Wednesday Night.....

More Photos and the Opening Ceremonies from Friday will be posted tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Kokomo Vietnam Reunion part 3..more from The Boar's Nest

Got a call early yesterday afternoon for the Celina High Athletic Department...due to the heavy rain they were moving the game from Celina Stadium to the Track field at the High School.  Lucky for them they did, the heavy rains continued off and on throughout the afternoon and the game...the field became a muddy mess by the time the Wapakoneta and Celina JVs finished their game.  After a 0-0 stalemate in the first half, Wapak took advantage of several turnovers and a big return to pull away 26-0.  Hardly a true test of football skill at any level.  Tonight I stay in Celina for an 8th grade contest....hopefully at the stadium, since it is drying off, because the track field looks like a war zone at this point.

Kokomo Part 3

After settling in a the Boar's Nest Campsite, the sun quickly changed to clouds as the afternoon progressed.  We grabbed some food at the free tent, one of the local churches provides(refusing any donations from the campers).  Another church does the same for breakfast, working their free fare before the official opening of the event on Friday, where the vendors sell their food and snacks.

We were preparing for DJ Carl and his Old Time Rock and Rock Show.  Carl was the hit of my short stay last year...he was again going to play his thousands of CD Classics under the stars this year...however a fly in the ointment came in the form of outside music with the downpour, however the officers of the HCVVO gave Carl and the attendees the keys, as it was, to the clubhouse bar, and Carl moved his music inside, where he would spin the CDs until 1am.

The music poured, some home made concoctions were sampled, and some of the old geezers even got out on the dance floor...I watch the show, and played a little pool.  Drank a few beers, and sampled some of the stuff in fruit jars.  Everclear topped with a dozen or so varieties of fruit.  Unlike last year, I took it slow this Wednesday night, and got through the night, without staggering back to the Nest.  This year we piled 6 of us on and hanging off a golf cart, and make out way back to "Sweetie Pie" and our various beds in her domain.

The skies cleared overnight leaving us with 40 degrees overnight and a cool north wind for the day Thursday.  On this day we would swap stories with a group of guys from the Marines, and Army Infantry.  Our biggest kick was telling "Tommy" from the Army. "Our Air Force Cop Vietnam War Stories".  We watched as he looked in amazement of our stories of warm beds, clean sheets, hot food, and hot showers.  By the time we added our stories of Steaks on an open pit, movies in Air Conditioned theaters, and cold beer, he had us rolling with his facial changes and comments...finally telling us~"I was in a different War than you guys, I was lucky to have a canteen of water".  We convinced him that our stories were true(and they were, even though maybe stretched a bit)...all-in-all that hand full of Marines and Army grunts became pretty close to the Boar's Nest crowd that Thursday.

As the sun finally peeked through the clouds, and the north wind died down...we headed out for more entertainment in the form of Russell doing his one man musical act, then following on stage a group called the Lemon Wheel, of 4 girls and 5 guys played various music, most from out era, until 11:30 or so.  Tom McCandless and I were the last to survive, and we headed back to camp to finish off the beers in my cooler, swapping stories with the Bay City, Michigan, neighbors, before hitting the sack.

I would be remiss to try to tell you that this is all fun and games however.  There are still wounds that may never heal, and some memories, unlike mine that are mostly pleasant, are not the stuff of fun and games.  War is war, and not all glory for many.  One of Tom's buddies Don Davidson, who camps just east of the Boar's Nest, is a great guy...but one that, like the Marines and Army guys we hooked up with, has a different view of the War in Vietnam, and the America we came home to.  His poem that he penned several years ago, and left at "The Wall" in DC is listed at the bottom of today's post.

More tomorrow~photos and stories

back later>>>>

Photos from Kokomo...(1)"Sweetie Pie" greets all who pass by the "Boar's Nest" on the south side of the Howard County VV Grounds...glow sticks of one sort of the other always show the way.  Santa and his helper Carl The DJ Elf...(2) Carl, Santa and a dozen or more others spent Friday afternoon collecting for the VA hospital and rest home nearby, all proceeds go to make sure forgotten veterans of all wars and not forgotten by their brothers and friends.(3) Me, on Wednesday night taking a small sip of "Apple Pie"...I'm sure more than a few have been sneaked up on by this concoction of Everclear and other special ingredients.  (4) Our new found friends from the Army and Marines gather as the Thursday entertainment begins....(5) Tom, the Boar's Nest leader and "Tommy" our new found Army buddy who the Air Force Sky Cops drove just a little nuts with our stories of our lives in he said, "You guys were in a different war".   Below~(6) Don Davidson sits in his golf cart in the afternoon sun, (7) and his poinent poem telling of his views on Vietnam

Monday, September 19, 2011

Back from Kokomo...Vietnam Veterans Reunion part 2

Heavy rain this morning, it must have started just after 4am when I let the old Airedale, Reagan, out for her morning break.  I gave her a biscuit, headed back to the sack, and when I awoke at 7:30, it was pouring pretty good.  Over the weekend I worked 5 games, 3 football and 2 baseball, and my legs, especially the right hamstring, feels it.  Between the officiating and sleeping in the van during the Kokomo Reunion, the age shows, and the pain takes longer to subside....neck, legs, back, plus a slight cold, and cold sores on my lips{from being out in the wind and sun}....tells me, I need another break...but I know that won't happen anytime soon.  JV Football at Celina tonight, probably in the rain, and a 8th grade game here tomorrow....with the rest of the week looking busy, but the weather appears to be cooler and dryer from here on out...after today's 100% chance of moister.

Kokomo, the arrival on Wednesday____

I packed up the van on Tuesday night and was ready to head the 85 miles west early Wednesday morning...gas tank full, a large 24 oz cup of coffee from the Marathon Station, and I was on my way.  12 miles to the Indiana border then the back roads from there, I arrived at the Howard County site on Indiana 26, at 10:30 Wednesday morning, paid my fee, and worked my way through the tents, golf carts, and campers to the Boar's Next site on the far south end of the field.....West 162 is the address.

I found "Sweetie Pie" the stuffed boar {see yesterday's night photo} but no Tom or Sam were in sight....that didn't matter however, as I was greeted by Mike, Dewey, and Jerry....

Mike Fitzgerald is not a Vietnam Veteran, but the southern Indiana policeman has more invested in the Vietnam war than many of us who served.  Mike's father John W. Fitzgerald Jr, was Killed In Action in December 1967.  Mike has made it a life's work to honor his father and his memory with as many photos and pieces of archival information in a tent at his and Dewey's campsite.  Mike points out the only photo of his dad that he had(Mike was about 10 when his dad was KIA), then showcases the other information, letters, and photos, that were shared with him by those that knew his dad during that tour.....quite an impressive tent, with mountains of memorabilia and photos that he shares with those that stop by.

Sitting drinking coffee with this trio before Sam Lewis and Tom McCandless, the "curator" of the Boar's Nest returned....Jerry introduced himself, asking where I was from in Mercer County, as he had noticed my license plates.  "Celina" I answered, "Where you from"?  "Antwerp" was the answer....I then realized I had met Jerry before at my aunt's funeral and a family wedding.  Asking the usual question I do with anybody from that small northwest Ohio town..."Do you know my Uncle Jack, or as you guys call him John DeVore"?  "Of course" was the reply..."We are good friends"...everybody knows my Uncle Jack and his family.  I would see Jerry and down a drink or two with him a few more times before I left Friday afternoon.

Soon after Tom and Sam returned, and I was treated with stories of the early part of the weeks do-ins'.  Seems some of the gang had gotten an early start on Monday night, and took Tuesday to recover, they would be ready to go again Wednesday night.  Sam had arrived from Virginia on Sunday night, and Tom arrived early Monday afternoon...

That's the great thing about the reunion....although it doesn't start officially until Friday morning at 11, the regulars, and retired folks, arrive much earlier...some as much as a week early, or even more.  That crowd is pretty well in full reunion/party mode by the time the weekend arrives.  Thousands of campers are already on site and the preliminary fun has began, before the raising of Old Glory on Friday addition to the campers, you have the local vets who stay in town, along with those that fill up the local hotels and motels, nary a spot is to be found at the campground, overflow grounds, or local sleep locations.

Plenty of "War Stories", most done with humor, were swapped and shared throughout my 50+ hours at Kokomo this year.  Despite the rain on late Wednesday afternoon and evening, the HCVVO board opened up the bar space under cover and several hundred of us partied well into the night...I just wish I had taken a photo of 6 of us heading back to the Boar's Nest on a single golf cart....that would have been priceless!

As it is, I will have more photos from the Wednesday night outing on tomorrow's blog.....along with Don Davidson's poem about returning home from that conflict many years ago....

back later>>>>

Photos-Tom McCandless the Mayor/Curator of "The Boar's Nest" at the HCVVO Reunion...a fellow "Sky Cop" who served his entire tour with Big Sam Lewis at Phan Rang....Swapping "War Stories" at the tent at the Boar's Nest on Wednesday afternoon.  Mike Fitzgerald and his display honoring his day John Fitzgerald Jr., from Louisville, Kentucky, who was Killed in Action on 13 December 1967.  And from Wednesday night, at the moved indoor DJ Carl's Musicfest..."Antwerp" Jerry having a ball, and me(looking more than a bit intoxicated) and my buddy Sam Lewis listen to the music...we even got in a few rounds of pool, which, if I remember correctly, we both won a game or two.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Back from Kokomo...Vietnam Veterans Reunion part 1

I returned from the Howard County(Indiana) Vietnam Veterans Reunion on Friday...the event continued through this morning, and was without a doubt another outstanding success.  Even as our numbers drop at an alarming rate, the number of Veterans of all wars, their friends and families, continues to fill the campground on Route 26 and the local Kokomo area motels and overflow sites.  I am guessing 6000 campers and another 15 thousand "day trippers".

Although the "official" kick off for the H.C.V.V.O Reunion is on Friday, many of the campers arrive a week or more in advance to campout, party, bs, and just visit, and swap war stories, which get bigger and better each year.

I arrived early Wednesday morning and set up shop at Tom McCandless's "Boar's Nest"...located at the southern most road next to the fence and farm field, Tom's place is never hard to find, as "Sweety Pie" the stuffed Boar's Head is always on the alert.  As this week progresses, I will have several days of photos and stories to tell.

In addition to the Boar's Nest group, there were more than a few Vietnam Security Police Association members on hand, many of whom will be with us at Dayton next month for our annual VSPA annual reunion.  Along with Tom, Sam Lewis, and me, others in attendance at Howard County from the VSPA included John Rowston, Tony Morris, founding member John Langley, who got me signed up back in 1999, John Zolinac, Phil Savage, and a few others I am sure I am forgetting their names.  It was a good USAF "Sky Cop" turnout....

Along with the regular crew, there were other occasion that proved it was indeed a small world, folks with ties to my old home town of Venice, Florida(including John Langley), and Jerry Wycuff from Antwerp, Ohio, who was sitting at our camp when I arrived....and immediatly I asked him if he knew my Uncle Jack DeVore....and find out he not only knew him they were good friends, and was at my Aunt's funeral, and their son Mike, and grand kids wedding over the past decade.  I thought I recognized the face....

Sadly I had to leave early, and with a cold coming on, and 3 football and 2 baseball games to officiate/umpire over the weekend, it was probably best I did, although I sure hated to leave early...and God willing will be there for a longer spell next June at the mini, and again in September for the regular get together....this year 52 hours on the ground, hopefully next year at least 96.

Back tomorrow with the details of my week at Kokomo and the effects this reunion has on all that attend.

Meanwhile here are the first of the photos and descriptions:

Top:  from left to right, Vietnam Security Police Association Members:  PRH, Tom McCandless, Sam Lewis, and founding member John Langley...Langley was a K9 handler at Tan Son Nhut, Tom and Sam were stationed their entire Vietnam tour together at Phan Rang, and I was at Nha Trang in 1969, in Law Enforcement, and at Tan Son Nhut in 1970 working night time security.  "Sweety Pie" the wild boar and guarding the Boar's Nest during the encampment....K9 Handler Phil Savage out of Michigan, with his Air Conditioning unit for K9s(tongue firmly in cheek) in a tropic war zone.  And more VSPA, as Tony Morris, another veteran member and Organization Photographer at the Boar's Nest with three of the usual suspects. 

more tomorrow....

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Kokomo Vietnam Veterans Reunion 2011 preview

The weather continues back and forth between Summer and early Autumn...yesterday on the warm and humid side as I headed to Celina Stadium to work the Defiance/Celina Freshman Football game....The Host team came out on top 32-14 in the battle of the Bulldogs.  Tonight, Sam and I have a youth league varsity game at 6pm then will head for Van Wert to take in the local rules meeting. 

I met Tom Friedly and Nick at the Pullman Bay Restaurant this morning for breakfast, that took about 45 minutes.  Also on the agenda today is a haircut and getting ready for Kokomo.....

Kokomo 2011____

The Howard County Vietnam Veterans reunion is this weekend.  Now called the All Veterans Reunion, it officially kicks off Friday, but I'm as I type this, the campgrounds are already pretty well filled, as upwards of 20,000 vets, their families and friends will gather in the farmlands east of Kokomo. 

I lived in Kokomo back in 1979 for about 8 months, working as Morning News Anchor at WIOU Radio in that blue collar town of nearly 50,000.  For the past 3 decades, A rural area near Greentown, just east of Kokomo, has been home to one of the largest reunions of Vietnam Veterans in the world.   Last year I had a short stay at my buddy Tom McCandless Boars Nest Campsite....this year I will make it awhile longer.

I will head out tomorrow morning, leaving Sam to be the watchful eye on the abode, while I spend 50 hours or so camping, visiting, and mostly BS'ing with old and new friends from that conflict long ago.  One of these years, when my football officiating days are over, I will attempt to stay the entire week, like Tom and Big Sam Lewis will do this time around. 

One thing for sure, whatever the weather(and it looks cool after today, real cool), the bands will be playing, the food will be plentiful, the BS'ing in large doses, and the Moonshine and other adult beverages flowing......

Of course Tom Mc and Sam Lewis will also be at Dayton next month for our Vietnam Security Police Reunion at Wright-Patterson, as will Harry Bevan, Tony, Bruce, and a few other guys that I have not seen in over 40 years, since our Law Enforcement days at Nha Trang Air Base on the South China Sea..   Damn~How time does fly!

This means the next 4 weeks will be filled to the brim, with football, and reunions....I plan on enjoying it as much as possible...

back later>>>>

Photos-Pins, Hats, and Neckwear, all part of the Kokomo Reunion....Sam Lewis, Me, and Tommy Mac, along with "Sweety Pie" at Boar's Nest Campsite last year....and a small part of the gang, before things got too rowdy last September.  Finally and me and Harry Bevan, 42 years ago in the Summer of 69, at Nha Trang, working Day Shift Law...I'm sure neither one of us will have changed a bit, when we meet up next month in Dayton.