“In a nation where over the last 50 years we’ve aborted 60 million unborn babies, and we have multiple states with medically assisted suicide being provided by physicians at both ends of the life spectrum, we’re losing the value for life that we once historically had. Firearms are not the problem; the problem is our culture of death.” Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin

By Kelleigh Nelson

The Constitution shall never be construed… to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms. – Samuel Adams

The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes…. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man. – Thomas Jefferson

The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. – Noah Webster

Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed.  Noah Webster

We’ve all heard it before: the second amendment never meant for citizens to have the sort of guns available today – it was just for hunting! Bull hockey, it was written to protect the right to shoot at tyrants and their agents when they have stolen liberty or property from the people. By that same logic the first amendment doesn’t apply to the internet (which didn’t exist at the time) so kiss your free speech rights online goodbye!  We’ve already seen massive censorship.

Then there’s the “it was only implied for a militia” argument.  Another crock.

There’s a certain level of irony in liberals claiming that the second amendment was only implied for a militia. Any time a militia group does spring up they’re quickly denounced by the left including much of the neo-con establishment right.  

Even National Review has had at least nine articles supporting various gun control laws. They advocated everything from universal background checks to Red Flag laws.  By now people should understand that William F. Buckley and Irving Kristol were the two men who changed the old right conservative Republican Party into this new neo-con Trotskyite left leaning cabal who will not stand up for our God given rights in the Constitution.

They tell us we don’t need guns, and I say, “The hell we don’t!”

El Paso, Texas – Dayton, Ohio

Call me cynical, or donning a tinfoil hat, but these shootings seem planned and coincidentally appear just at the right time for use by politicians who go to the extremes against firearms, including President Trump and his closest “advisors.” Let’s pray he backs away from all of this and keeps his promises to the American people.

Notice that after Congressman Steve Scalise was shot and nearly died at a Republican baseball game, there was not a scintilla of outrage for gun control by the left.

Interesting, is it not…The suspect in the congressional baseball practice shooting, James Hodgkinson, was a fierce Trump opponent who called him a traitor.  The left ignored it.

The manifesto written by the 21-year-old El Paso shooter who killed 20 and injured 26, was a leftist screed.  Patrick Crusius’s “My Life Page” was changed by progressive pinkos from Democrat to Republican as reported by Jim Hoft of the Gateway Pundit.  Crusius was a soulless video game player, just as President Trump stated.   His crime might be described as one of nihilism, the rejection of all religious and moral principles, in the belief that life is meaningless, an ideology of despair that has motivated rootless young men toward violent crimes throughout human history.

Dayton shooter, 24-year-old Connor Betz, was shot dead by police but not before he killed nine innocent people.  Betz had satanic patches on his clothing and was a registered democrat and a supporter of Elizabeth Warren.  The NY Post snagged over 3,000 of his tweets which included embraces of far-left stances and politicians — including presidential-hopeful senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont — as well as Antifa, anti-fascist protesters known to resort to violent tactics.  “I want socialism, and I’ll not wait for the idiots to finally come round to understanding,” reads one tweet from the Betz account, according to Newsweek.

A person willing to kill innocents and be killed by the police while doing so surely would have no qualms about violating a state or federal law that prohibited the general ownership of the weapon he was about to use.

New Laws Are Lies

There are enough laws on the books.  There’s not a single new law that would change anything.  First Trump agreed to ban bump stocks, a stupid argument if there ever was one.  By labeling bump stocks “machine guns,” the ATF effectively changed their classification under the 1934 National Firearms Act (NFA) and made them illegal under the 1968 Gun Control Act (GCA), a move which retroactively criminalizes their purchase and ownership.  By the way, the 1968 GCA was taken from Adolph Hitler’s gun ban.

If Trump signs any new laws, this will drive a huge wedge between him and his supporters.  True, there is no one else to vote for, but Trump supporters will not go out in droves as they did in 2016, which could give the election to the Democratic Socialists. If the President backs down on his promises, he will lose…and the left wants our guns, they want them out of our hands, and when the movie, The Hunt, becomes reality even though it’s now been pulled, we won’t have any way of firing back.

Our God given freedoms are codified by our Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution.  Pressures are being applied on all Republican politicians to again bend to the socialists’ desires to eliminate firearms, especially by Ivanka Trump.  Stupid deals with these enemies of freedom have been made in the past, and every single time, Republicans have lost.  Why?  Because most of them do not represent us or Constitutional conservatism; they are part of the same globalist establishment as the Democratic Socialists.

Gun Free Zones and Joe Biden

Gun Free Zones are killing fields.  Whenever there is a shooting, the socialist democrats propose gun control; but when someone is raped or murdered by an illegal alien, the same people never demand border control!  This law has effectively turned schools into shooting galleries for deranged lunatics.

Research from the Crime Prevention Research Center shows that 98 percent of all public mass shootings that occurred between 1950 and July 10, 2016, happened in gun-free zones.  Responding to this research, USA Today contributor Erich Pratt recently opined, “No wonder that 81% of police officers support arming teachers and principals, so that the real first responders — the potential victims — can protect the children.”

As of early 2018, educators in 33 states may not arm themselves to protect their students. Nor may schools in these 33 states even hire armed security guards.  Our children are literally sitting ducks.  This in turn means one and only one thing, as recently noted by conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh, “Everybody that wants to shoot up a school knows that they are going to be the only one armed.”

Exactly. And if you scroll back through history, you’ll find that the reason this situation exists is because of Joe Biden who introduced the Gun-Free School Zones Act in 1990. Out of fairness, though, it should be noted that then New World Order President George H.W. Bush signed it into law after it passed the Democrat-led House and Senate.

Bush, a Republican, was no Second Amendment champion throughout his time in office. When he could have stood up for gun rights, Bush kowtowed to anti-gun pressure and signed this bill into law.

Nearly three decades later, Republican governors have made up ground by passing pro-gun legislation like Constitutional Carry.

However, this case is another reminder that just because a politician is a Republican does not guarantee that they will be a pro-gun champion.

Assault Weapon Bans

John Lott, President of Crime Prevention Research Center was interviewed on Mark Levin’s radio program and explained the three gun control bills now up by both Democratic Socialists and neo-con Trotskyite Republicans.  They are Assault Weapon Bans, Universal Background Checks and Red Flag Laws.

John Lott says they’re banning guns based on how they look rather than how they function.  The idiots in Congress have no clue of what they’re doing.  So, you can have a semi-automatic hunting rifle, which fires the same bullets with the same rapidity doing the same damage as a gun that looks like an M-16, but it’s not a weapon that militaries around the world would use.  The inside guts of it, which civilians have, is the same as any small caliber hunting rifle.  The vast majority of semi-automatic rifles in the United States are owned by people who own guns.  Banning guns on their looks when other guns operate the same way is pure stupidity.

The original assault weapons ban which Senator Feinstein and her staff got passed, was by flipping through pages of catalogues on assault weapons and marking off different names of guns simply by how they looked.  Even people paid by the Clinton administration couldn’t find any benefit of this insane law.  There was actually a small drop in the states where the assault weapon ban was dropped versus the states where it was not.  The original Feinstein ban expired in 2004.

Universal Background Checks

Now they want background checks on the private transfer of firearms, which means going to a licensed dealer and having them do the background check.  In Washington DC you’d have to pay the dealer $125.00 to do the background check, and that’s per firearm.  Another monetary leeching of the gun owners.  According to John Lott of Crime Prevention Research Center, there have been no mass murders this century by anyone who privately purchased a firearm.  The vast majority of firearms are purchased through dealers where there is already a background check via the National Instant Background Check Systems (NICS).

The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 was launched by the FBI on November 30, 1998 and mandated NICS. It is used by Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to instantly determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy firearms. Before ringing up the sale, cashiers call in a check to the FBI or to other designated agencies to ensure that each customer does not have a criminal record or isn’t otherwise ineligible to make a purchase. More than 230 million such checks have been made, leading to more than 1.3 million denials.  NICS is located at the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division in Clarksburg, West Virginia.

Red Flag Laws

A red flag law is a politically divided gun control law that permits police or family members to petition a state court to order the temporary removal of firearms from a person who may present a danger to others or themselves without due process and facing their accusers in a court of law. 

Again, these laws, also called “extreme risk protection orders,” allow courts to issue orders allowing law enforcement to seize firearms from people who’ve committed no crime but are believed to be a danger to themselves or others.

President Trump has signaled his backing of bipartisan Senate legislation sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).  This is very dangerous.  Any extreme leftist neighbor who decides they don’t like you, can report that you own firearms and are acting in a way that could harm someone.  Whether true or not, you could lose your ability to own firearms.  President Trump in one tweet shows why ‘red flag’ laws are so very dangerous.

The Red Flag Laws virtually have nothing to do with mental health.  There are 17 states which have this law now and only one of them even mentions the term “mental health” in it.  The basic notion is that they’re trying to predict whether someone will commit a crime or harm themselves.  This reminds me of the Tom Cruise movie, Minority Report where the government would predict someone’s future crimes and arrest the person before the behavior. 

Already on the books is a 72-hour hold (Baker Act) on someone who has psychiatric problems and has been reported.  However, what the Red Flag law wants to do is to get rid of some of the restrictions from the Baker Act.  With the Baker Act, you have psychiatric experts evaluate the person and make a decision, but with Red Flag laws there are no psychiatric experts making a decision. 

First you have a complaint and it varies across states, some states friends can do it, some states relatives can do it…police, or in Colorado, anyone can do it.  A judge basically looks at a piece of paper that summarizes the complaint, then in a short period of time depending on the state, the police will go in and take the firearms.  They’ll have a hearing in a couple weeks, but the problem is there’s no legal representation automatically provided to the targeted person.  The prosecutors basically act as lawyers for the person making the complaint. 

Red Flag laws are totally unconstitutional, the very presumption of innocence and the due process of law requirement of demonstrable fault as a precondition to punishment or sanctions prohibits the loss of liberty.  Recently we’ve seen the presumption of innocence turned upside down with Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation and the spurious investigation of our President for nearly three years.

Nevertheless, the American left has diligently tried to punish people and deprive us of liberty on the basis of what might happen in the future.  The Soviets used psychiatric testimony to predict criminal behavior which we condemned in the 80s, but now our President seems to want it here.  In America, we do not punish a person or deprive anyone of liberty on the basis of a fear of what the person might do.

This is a “turn in your conservative neighbor” law, and is a massive danger to freedom.


Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin said, “In a nation where over the last 50 years we’ve aborted 60 million unborn babies, and we have multiple states with medically assisted suicide being provided by physicians at both ends of the life spectrum, we’re losing the value for life that we once historically had.  Firearms are not the problem; the problem is our culture of death.”

Fifty years ago, children didn’t walk into schools with firearms and shoot their fellow classmates.  In fact, the high school I went to in Park Ridge, Illinois had an underground shooting range and a Rifle Club.  There were pickup trucks in the parking lot with gun racks on the back and the rifles in plain view.  Kids brought their rifles on the bus with them, they kept them in their cars, most of which were unlocked.  We were never exposed to what today’s children are exposed to at a very young age.  The problems with our culture are systemic, and day by day they are growing worse.

It’s easy to blame the tools used in these killings so as to part American citizens from their own self-defense, but the real cultural issues are far more complex and are rarely discussed. It’s the morality, and what’s the cause of this morality? We have driven God out of the public arena.

George Washington said in his Farewell Address that it is religion that sustains morality. If you undermine religion, you’ll undermine morality.

That is precisely what has happened to America. Beginning with a whole series of misguided Supreme Court decisions, religious influence in society, especially Christian, was restricted more and more. By the 1960s, God was effectively kicked out of the public schools along with prayer and the Ten Commandments.

When we had God in the classrooms, there was no need for armed guards in the hallways.

© 2019 Kelleigh Nelson, All Rights Reserved

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Did I really need a smart watch?

By J. D. Pendry

Typically, unless necessary for some reason I cannot at this moment contemplate, I do not wear a watch.  I do have a couple of nice ones.  Suzie-Q bought them for me.  One is about thirty years old and the other about 10.  Not heavily used, both look practically new.  In the Army, I always had one of these cheap takes a licking and keeps on ticking watches with its OD Green nylon strap.  If a truck ran over my arm, or some other minor catastrophe occurred there’d be no great loss.  I’d just trot over to the PX and lay out 10 bucks for another.  Watch that is, not an arm.  I think I still have the last one in a box somewhere.  It’s been twenty years so I’m guessing the battery is dead.

I was so impressed with my daughter-in-law’s snazzy smart watch; I convinced myself I needed one.  Suzie-Q finally agreed but advised me the cost of it comes out of my next month’s allowance.  When I told her I would probably need the next two month’s allowance, she gave me the look.  I explained to her all of the great things the watch could do.  Looking at me with a slightly furrowed brow she asked, “Can it vacuum the floors? Do laundry? Wash the dishes?”  I said no.  “Then you are going to be a busy man.”  And that’s how negotiations go around Pendry manor.  I should be off hard labor in a couple of months.

So, we headed out to the local store that sells all manner of tech gizmos and kitchen appliances.  Looking at the display of watches I pointed to one I thought rather Chic (sheek).  Wow.  I don’t think I’ve ever used that word to describe anything.  I added the parenthetical phonetic spelling for anyone like me who may not routinely use such expressions.  Truthfully, I spelled it wrong the first time around.  Not being a fashionista, anything considered Chic would definitely clash with my extensive wardrobe of jeans and tee-shirts.  Suzie-Q declared it looked like a woman’s watch.  The cranial hard drive reprogrammed itself to never wear anything considered Chic and to actually expunge the word from my memory.  I settled on a more masculine look.  It was round, but about the size of a flat screen TV.  I gave the young lady who’d been doing a great job of telling me about the excellent choice I made my more than two month’s allowance and headed home.

The watch tethers me to my phone.  Which is nice if I’m at the gym and want to listen to Hank Williams Jr. sing Born to Boogie, I don’t have to carry my phone around with me.  As way too many people do.  It’s really annoying when someone has their oversized rear-end sitting on a piece of equipment I want to use scrolling through their messages.  But I can endlessly talk about the gym life some other time.  Being tethered to the phone is not good for me.  I used to be able to drop my phone on the kitchen counter and head down to the Bunker allowing me to say sorry I missed your message earlier.  Now, I can leave the phone in the kitchen and my arm buzzes.  And of course, I have to look.  The Bunker is no longer a refuge from text messages.

The phone has some good features.  It keeps track of my heart rate.  Tracks my calendar and tells me about the appointments I’m late for.  It keeps track of whatever workout I do at the gym complete with elapsed time, heart rates, and the 5 or 10 calories burned.  It also has about 7 dozen different watch faces from which to choose.  You can go from elegant (not Chic) to something an F-35 pilot might appreciate.  Or you can just go straight boring digital.

There is one other thing.  I believe it has the soul of a married woman and maybe a school teacher too.  It nags me.  “You’ve be sitting too long, get up and move.” And she keeps at it unrelenting until I do actually move.  Then she cheers, “Great job!”

© 2019 J. D. Pendry, J. D. Pendry’s American Journal, All Rights Reserved

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For the love of money

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Timothy 6:10 (NIV)

By J. D. Pendry

It is also the root of destruction for governments of all forms.  When people can achieve unchecked incredible wealth as civil servants, as the song reminds “And you tell me over and over and over again my friend, you don’t believe were on the eve of destruction.”

I made a small clockwise twist and there was a muffled pop.  Fluorescent light shrapnel rained down around me in a perimeter of several feet.  It was a small twist in bulb rather than a tube, so my hand blocked what would have hit me in the face.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is concerned enough to put out instructions on cleaning up a broken compact fluorescent light (CFL).  Our politicians decided to ban the faithful incandescent light bulb.  The invention that lit the world.  We were asked to believe It was an environmental decision.  The incandescent bulb used too much energy, contributed to global warming, and was not good for the environment.  We were forced to purchase CFL, LED or some other more expensive replacement.  But they last longer, save energy and save the environment.  Insert Bronx cheer here.

Saving energy and the environment had nothing to do with the incandescent light ban.  Except for its propaganda value.  Who would not cheerfully pitch in to save the planet?  Led by our determined politicians, that’s just what we did.   Large corporations, GE, Philips, and Sylvania dominated the US incandescent market.   Because of the low cost of production, they could not raise prices to improve their profit margins, lest some other company move in and take the business away from them.  The beauty of capitalism is that you and I through the principle of supply and demand determine the price of goods.  Unless there is a government intervention, but then it’s no longer capitalism is it?  To increase their profit margins and force consumers to buy more expensive lighting products, they needed government to ban incandescent light bulbs.  Congress provided the legislation, President Bush signed it and they all celebrated heroically saving the planet and laughed all the way to the bank.   Mercury laden CFL waste now litters the landscape, which of course is great for people and the environment.  Another noteworthy achievement of Congress and its corporate cronies.

But, that’s an old story many of you know.  It’s how the American political industry works.  It’s how politicians on civil servant salaries become millionaires.  It would be interesting to see how many of them and friends and family used their inside knowledge to buy stock in the companies now uninhibited from increasing their profits.  Wink, snicker.  This is the swamp at its finest.  Self-serving at best, killing us bit by bit at worst.  So, the next time you’re picking fluorescent light glass from your hair after inhaling whatever the exploding bulb vented into the air, think about that.

While doing my hazmat clean up, I thought about it.  It angered me some.  No, that’s a lie it angered me quite a bit.  The thoughtless motives of politicians.  Take that example and follow the money on most every must have piece of legislation or every scandal that comes to mind.  You’ll come away disappointed in the politicians you supported.  Disappointed in the bastardization of our great legislative process.  Maybe a little exasperated with the whole 9 yards.  Emotions I’m trying hard to avoid these days.  But it’s a challenge.

From illegal immigration, to trade deals, to climate change and most everything in between, follow the cash flow.  Look at the McConnell-Chao China connections for example then tell me how any China trade deal beneficial to the US is going to get through McConnell’s Senate.  Ask yourself who is fighting hardest against needed immigration reform.  Businesses large and small, especially those who practically enslave illegal immigrants working them for low often under the table wages.  Facts are never part of the narrative.  Helping poor and desperate people makes a much better emotionally driven story.

As long as we have career politicians not term limited getting wealthy via the political industry they’ve built, America will not get well.  The greatest wealth will always belong to those with the means to entice politicians into crony capitalism arrangements.  That’s who we’ve become.  It’s what opens the doors to failed systems like socialism.  But the politicians still get wealthy.  Just ask millionaire Socialist Angry Bernie who, before politics, never held a job in his life.

© 2019 J. D. Pendry, J. D. Pendry’s American Journal, All Rights Reserved

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Internal Rot

By J. D. Pendry

Some things never change.  Over the years, I have written about many different things.  Sometimes, I go down into the bunker archives and rummage around and find that some things never change.  It’s the same tune with a different choir.


America will never be destroyed from the outside.  If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.  – Abraham Lincoln

I was passing a semi pulling tandem trailers when I clawed at the CD button to switch off the screeching talk radio.  The cab of my pick-up truck filled with Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.  Yes Beethoven!  You gotta a problem with that!?  In my rearview mirror, I saw a woman yakking on a cell phone.  She was following me so close that I could not see the headlights on her mini van.  After passing the semi, I flipped on my right turn signal indicator.  The semi driver blinked his headlights at me and I started to drift back into the slow lane.  Before I completed the lane change, Ms. mini-van was half a truck length past me.  She glared, a furrowed brow showing above her designer sunglasses and appeared to mouth something about my dear departed mother.  A Kerry/Edwards campaign sticker adorned the back window of her van.  Tailgating her was a bright red pick-up truck with a “W-04” sticker in the window.  Just as close behind him was an irritable looking driver, with a 10 O’clock 2 O’clock white knuckled grip on the steering wheel of a small SUV.  The bumper sticker proclaimed, “Jesus is my copilot.”  He’d be safer riding with me I thought.  Concluding that 3 of 5 rush hour drivers belong in an insane asylum, I slouched and focused on the music.  

A friend of mine, and my historical authority of choice sent me an email about one of my recent columns.  His lesson for me was that throughout human history great societies have fallen because they first destroyed themselves from within.  Internal rot is the descriptive term he used adding that when the failing society is at its lowest point, outside forces will end it. 

My commute and screeching talk radio illustrate where we are.  We’ve lost civility and are so intent on demonizing one another for our beliefs that we can’t focus on our roots or a common purpose – freedom and securing our country for example.  If you still have a 2004 Presidential campaign sticker on your car, you are part of the problem.  You’re trapping us in time, keeping us hostage to emotions and diverting us from important issues – sounds like a politician’s resume doesn’t it.  And, if your copilot is supposed to put you above the fray, your actions should demonstrate that you are.    

The most basic leadership principle is being the example.  The led reflect the example of the leaders.  My drive home shows Americans following the example of those we elected to Congress to lead us, bolstered by senseless and endless Red State, Blue State political polls and media nonsense – liberal and conservative alike.  A look at the 911hearings, steroid follies and recent cabinet confirmation hearings should be enough to convince anyone that the most destructive combination in America is an egomaniacal politician and a television camera.  It’s more obvious each day that you and I – Mr. and Ms. liberal Democrat, conservative Republican and proclaimed Independent – have elected and sent to Washington a collection of people not concerned about the problems facing our country.  Their concern instead is power at all costs.  When political leaders focus more on obtaining power and destroying political opposition than they do solving problems – which seems to be the focus of our currently non-functioning political system – the result is political rot.  We are watching the decay of what is supposed to be the world’s greatest representative republic. 

Moral relativism has saturated our society.  Many believe there are no absolutes when it comes to right or wrong.  They see behavior in shades of gray in conflict with others who view behavioral absolutes of black and white.  The chasm between the two grows.  Many manmade laws of our country are a product of moral relativism.  They contradict the Judeo-Christian values on which our country was founded and often the laws of nature itself. 

Moral relativism is why we are not raising our children properly.  Recent examples of out of control children and adolescents in schools demonstrate that.  We pump our kids up with MTV and junk food then try to calm them with Prozac and Ritalin.  We send them to school dressed as thugs and prostitutes.  We connect their brain housing groups to MP3 players and cell phones.  We baby sit them in Internet chat rooms.  They don’t know math, science, history or current events.  Is this how we prepare them to confront the most complicated and dangerous world in human history – and to preserve our country?  More likely, we are preparing them to accept what follows the rot. 

We have the power to fix what is wrong – you and I.  We can lop off rotten limbs and cauterize wounds, but once the roots of our way of life – our political system, our morality and how we raise our children – begin to rot, we might consider how soon we’ll need to start learning Chinese.

© 2005 J. D. Pendry, All Rights Reserved

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Training (Airborne School, Door Gunner)

By Charles D. Stokes

An excerpt from Soldier’s Reverie: Vietnam, 2018 Xlibris

Charles D. Stokes is a decorated Special Forces Soldier who spent 7 years in Southeast Asia. He served on classified assignments in Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos. He is a graduate of the United States Institute for Military Assistance, Operations and Intelligence Course; US/Foreign Weapons Course; Static Line Jumpmaster Course; and Honor Graduate of the US Army Ranger School and graduate of the US State Department Laotian Language School.

Door Gunner had earlier attended Airborne School where he completed four of the five jumps needed to qualify as a paratrooper. On the fourth jump he sustained an injury that almost cost him his Army career. The weather had been marginal as the winds gusted over 15 miles per hour, the maximum limit for training parachute jumps. In anticipation that the winds would become more favorable, the jumpmasters had had the trainees chute up and wait. The assigned jumpmaster for each aircraft went through his checks for each of his 64 paratroopers.  The checks were tedious for reasons of safety.  He started with the helmet and worked his way to the trooper’s parachute, then on to the equipment strapped to his body. The jumpmaster searched for anything that might be fouled and could possibly cause a malfunction as the paratroopers loaded onto or exited the aircraft in flight.

Jumpmasters were fondly called “master blasters.” Many of the jumpmasters had made several hundred jumps and had over the 20 years of service that was required for retirement. The jumpmasters wore the hallowed silver parachutist badge topped with a star surrounded with a wreath that identified them as Master Parachutists. Some of these veterans had made combat jumps in both Korea and World War II.

After volunteering to be jumpmasters, the soldiers attended a three-week jumpmaster course where they were drilled in the science of inspecting every item of equipment that a paratrooper might have strapped to his body. Each jumpmaster was responsible for the safe ground loading on to the aircraft and the off-loading that usually occurred by jumping the paratroopers from the aircraft while it was in flight.

The jumpmasters received training on the several different models of US Air Force aircraft and Army helicopters from which the troopers would jump. The jumpmasters were drilled relentlessly on jump commands, communications with the pilots, emergency procedures, and drop zone identification until it became second nature.

Once the aircraft was aloft, the pilots flew a designated route to a drop zone. When the aircraft was within 10 minutes of the drop zone the pilots notified the jumpmasters through a headset. When the jumpmasters were notified they opened the doors and prepared for the jump. Grasping the inside frame of the aircraft door the jumpmaster leaned out of the aircraft and visually inspected the sides of the airplane. He also made visual recognition to identify the drop zone.

For hours the troopers sat on the airfield ramp beside the waiting C-130 aircraft. The troopers had been sitting with their parachutes, weapons, and 90 pounds of equipment strapped to their bodies when the jumpmaster shouted, “Saddle up!”

It was late in the afternoon when the winds died down. The all clear was given and shortly thereafter the aircrafts started their engines. Door Gunner and the other potential paratroopers, stiff from the hours of sitting, stood up and followed their stick leaders to board the aircraft. Most troopers referred to the C-130 as “the Big Herc.” The hulking C-130 was almost 100 feet long with a wingspan of 132 feet that rose to the towering height of a three-story building. The aircraft was designed as a combat transport with a rear-loading ramp allowing ground level access at the rear of the fuselage.

Four Allison T56-A-15 turboprop engines powered the aircraft. Each of the engines generated 4,300 horsepower. The aircraft could haul 64 fully equipped paratroopers in its 41-foot cargo compartment and carry an additional 42,000 pounds of cargo. The Big Hercules had a crew of five:  two pilots, a navigator, flight engineer, and loadmaster. For this mission there were two Army master parachutists who would serve as jumpmasters once the paratroopers boarded the aircraft. Each trooper, waiting patiently, had strapped on his back a T-10 parachute and on his front upper torso he wore his load bearing harness called web gear. Attached to his load bearing equipment were two ammunition pouches with four M-16 magazines each, two water canteens, a gas mask, and a first aid kit.  Strapped to the front of the trooper’s body was an emergency parachute that attached to the main parachute harness. Also attached to the main harness were a forty pound rucksack and a weapons carrier bag that held his rifle. The rucksack and weapons bag were carefully attached so that at 250 feet above the ground the trooper could release both pieces of equipment by pulling a quick release lever. This allowed the rucksack to drop free and swing from the harness on a 15 foot rope called a lowering line, lessening the weight against his body. Then the paratrooper could safely execute a parachute landing fall on contact with the ground, lessening the chance of injury.

As Door Gunner waddled up the tail ramp moving as fast as his bulky equipment allowed, he felt an extra sense of excitement because this jump was his fourth and it was an equipment jump. Only one more jump and he would be airborne qualified. He followed the stick leader at the front of his line into the gaping aft end of the big C-130. Door Gunner’s side of the cargo bay filled with equipment laden troopers from front to rear. The forward movement of his stick stopped and Gunner seated himself on an inboard seat facing his fellow student troopers who sat opposite him with their backs against the outer skin of the aircraft. The troopers sat on nylon seats as the rest of the troopers boarded and sat down. The troopers loaded quickly and the tail ramp was closed by the crew chief. Then the pilots were given an “all clear” over the headset. Before long, the big turbo engines started their high pitched whine and the airplane started to roll.

All four of the Allison T56-A-15 turboprop engines began to whine more loudly as they picked up speed. The aircraft slowly moved from the parking ramp onto the runway. Door Gunner could smell the aviation fumes from the exhaust and felt the gravitational forces push him sideways in his seat as the big C-130 moved faster and faster down the runway. As they became airborne, Door Gunner was only aware of the steady vibration and hum of the big engines as they cruised at 3,000 feet. After a 20 minute ride the crew chief spoke into his headset, looked at the two jumpmasters, and nodded. They moved in turn to each of the doors, turned the locking handle, and slid the doors smoothly upward. The cool fresh air rushed in much to the relief of Door Gunner who was beginning to feel sick from the smell of the engine fumes.

The senior jumpmaster went to the door on his side of the aircraft, grasped the inside door wells, and leaned out into the roaring wind. He was inspecting the sides and underbelly to ensure that there were no protuberances that would impede the troopers or the deployment of their parachutes. Door Gunner watched as the 180 knot per hour wind pushed the skin on the jumpmaster’s face back into a skeletal smile as he leaned out the door looking for something below. The jumpmaster, confirming that the aircraft was indeed intact, pulled himself back inside. He turned and moved to the center of the cargo bay and shouted, “Get ready!”

In unison 64 paratroopers stomped their combat boots on the floor sending a resounding “WROOMPH” throughout the aircraft. Door Gunner felt the adrenaline as he was instantly alert and moving without having to think as the jump commands started. The many hours of ground training, practicing how to perform parachute landing falls, how to don his parachute, and how to load and exit the aircraft were now automatic. The jumpmaster shouted, “Outboard personnel, stand up!”  On this command all troopers nearest the outside frame of the aircraft stood up and faced aft toward the open doors. Next, the jumpmaster shouted, “Inboard personnel, stand up!” Before the words were out of the jumpmaster’s mouth, Door Gunner was on his feet facing toward the open doors and the hollowing wind rushing by at 180 knots.  Finally the jumpmaster shouted, “Hook-up!” Each trooper grabbed the metal sliding “D” snap fastener at the end of his static line and snapped its open end onto the steel anchor cable overhead. The ½ inch steel cable ran from the bulkhead to the aft of the aircraft and served as the anchor that would pull the trooper’s parachute from his deployment bag on exit from the aircraft.

After pulling down on the fastener and hearing an audible click as the spring loaded release button popped into place, each trooper then inserted an aluminum safety wire through a small hole and bent it to eliminate any possibility of an accidental opening of the snap fastener. The jumpmaster in an all too familiar voice shouted, “Check static lines!” On this command, each trooper yanked down on his static line to make sure that it was secured to the anchor cable. Again, the jumpmaster yelled, “Check equipment!” Door Gunner and his cohorts methodically rechecked their equipment for the one-hundredth time. Starting with the helmet and its chinstrap, the troopers quickly checked all equipment to make sure that nothing was loose or unsecure. After checking the front of their own equipment, they checked the parachute on the back of the man in front of them searching for anything out of place that might cause a malfunction. Once the paratroopers started to exit the aircraft 1,200 feet above the ground it would be too late for corrections. The jumpmaster shouted the next command, “Sound off for equipment check!” On this command, the last trooper forward in the aircraft verified that all of his equipment was in place and that he was hooked up by shouting, “Okay!” and slapping the man in front of him on the shoulder. Door Gunner felt a deeper adrenaline rush as the man behind him slapped his shoulder and shouted, “Okay!” Door Gunner loudly repeated the command and the count rolled up the stick until the first man standing nearest the door shouted, “All okay!” to the jumpmaster.

The jumpmaster, holding on to the inside of the door superstructure, leaned out again into the howling wind and looked down as it tried to wrench him from his doorway perch. He looked forward and saw that the first flight of three Hercs had jumped their troopers and the sky was dotted with blossoming parachutes floating toward the ground. As the jumpmaster looked to his rear he saw the last flight of three aircrafts trailing behind. The jumpmaster knew that he had to jump his troopers quickly as there would be parachutes below and above his jumpers.

As the jumpmaster straightened up he looked at a set of lights mounted slightly above the door. The red light that was glowing brightly had gone out and a green light had switched on in its place. That was the cue from the pilots that the aircraft was over the drop zone. The jumpmaster, without hesitation, again moved to the center of the aircraft where he quickly looked left and right at the first two troopers. Once the troopers made eye contact the jumpmaster pointed downward toward the open door and shouted, “Stand in the door!” The lead paratrooper on each side of the aircraft stutter stepped by placing the foot closest to the skin of the aircraft in front and shuffled three distinctive steps before turning 90 degrees and standing in the door. The trooper slapped his palms flat on the outside of the aircraft. He had his feet slightly staggered as he stood there, crouched, staring straight ahead into the empty void of the howling wind. The C-130 had slowed to 120 knots at an altitude of 1200 feet and the jumpmaster shouted, “Go!” On that command the troopers in the doorways leapt into a jet stream of air that swept them away. In unison the remaining chain of 31 troopers on each side of the aircraft repeated the same steps as the first two troopers before leaping into the sky.

 In trained reflex Door Gunner shuffled to the door, turned 90 degrees, slapped the outside skin of the aircraft door with both hands, and pushed with his crouched legs to propel him out of the door and into the air stream that surrounded the C-130. His body was tucked into a tight position, legs and feet together, arms tucked into his sides, and hands spread with fingers tightly clutching the ends of his reserve parachute. Door Gunner had his head down with his chin tight against his chest and was slightly bent at the waist. He was determined not to be a “night jumper” as some of his friends were because they closed their eyes when they jumped. He watched the trooper’s parachute in front of him deploy and blossom into a beautiful oval. He was counting out loud, “one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three.” As he started to say one thousand four, he felt a strong tug as his own canopy deployed. He had been taught that if his main parachute was not open by the count of one thousand five he was to deploy his reserve parachute. Feeling his canopy deploying he went back to the business at hand. Door Gunner looked up, checking that his canopy had fully deployed.  Quickly looking around he also saw the third aircraft was overhead discharging its cargo of paratroopers. Door Gunner paused, watching for a few seconds. A trooper exiting the aircraft directly overhead attracted his attention. Instead of holding a tight body position as trained, he exited with his legs spread apart and his arms flailing. The jet stream of air from the big turboprops caught his arms and legs and spun him like a top. As the parachute was pulled from its deployment bag and started to fill with air the spinning trooper caused the suspension lines that connected the parachute to the jumper’s harness to twist tightly.

Door Gunner watched as the spinning trooper’s canopy floundered. The canopy inflated, then deflated again, gulping air and trying to open. The panicked trooper was kicking his legs as he frantically tried to unwind his tangled suspension lines. Watching, Door Gunner felt a sick feeling rise in his stomach. He continued to watch as the trooper frantically pulled his reserve parachute. The reserve parachute was of a smaller diameter canopy, but was sufficient to safely lower a trooper to the ground. The reserve was strapped to the trooper’s midsection and held closed with steel pins attached to a “D” ring handle. The trooper pulled the “D” ring, grabbed the canopy, and threw it out in an attempt to let the canopy catch air so that it could inflate. Door Gunner had now lost sight of the trooper because he was directly above his canopy. Just as the stricken trooper’s reserve canopy started to inflate, he hit the top of Door Gunner’s canopy. Hitting Door Gunner’s canopy caused both the trooper’s main and reserve canopies to lose air and he slowly began to slide off Gunner’s fully inflated canopy.

As the terrified trooper slid off the side of Door Gunner’s parachute, he started screaming, “Catch me! Catch me!” The trooper desperately grabbed onto Door Gunner’s suspension lines trying to hold on as he slid. Door Gunner attempted to grab the trooper’s hand as he went by, but with the weight of his gear the trooper fell quickly leaving red streaks of blood as the nylon suspension line burned and cut into his hands.  In the next instant Door Gunner saw the deflated reserve canopy flutter by. In that instant Door Gunner threw out his arms and grabbed the canopy. Holding on to the distressed trooper’s parachute, Door Gunner felt his own canopy tilt perilously, spilling air. Door Gunner quickly looked at the ground and estimated that they only had another few hundred feet before they would touch the ground. But with Door Gunner’s canopy spilling air there was a good possibility that his canopy would fail similarly to the trooper’s he was attempting to save. With only seconds to make a decision Door Gunner quickly looked up and checked his canopy. He let loose of his grip on the falling trooper’s reserve chute. The trooper dangling below felt the sudden drop and acceleration. The trooper let out a scream as he fell toward the ground. Door Gunner’s chute immediately captured air again and re-inflated to its full size. A second later Door Gunner saw the suspension lines of the stricken trooper’s main parachute flash by. Door Gunner threw out his arms again just as the deflated main canopy came tumbling off the top of his chute. As it went by still trying to bellow air,

Door Gunner grabbed the parachute and felt a great tug that almost wrenched his arms from their sockets as he took on the weight of the falling trooper and his equipment. Door Gunner’s parachute tilted so far over to one side that it collapsed just as the stricken trooper hit the ground. Door Gunner let go of the dangling canopy and looked up. His canopy gulped air and blossomed as he hit the ground.

Door Gunner landed, felt his right leg twist, and heard an audible pop as it broke. The winds gusted and blew his canopy forward as he tried in vain to release himself from his harness as he was dragged across the drop zone. Reacting instinctively to his training that the black hats (all airborne instructors wore distinctive black hats) had drilled into all of them as trainees, Door Gunner reached up and tried to squeeze the compression quick release fasteners on the risers of his parachute. This action would release the canopy from the harness of the parachute, but the extra equipment he had strapped on prevented him from being able to reach it. Door Gunner’s second action came automatically. He reached to the center of his chest and found and turned his quick release to his main harness. He pulled the safety snap and hit it with the heel of his hand, threw up his arms, and the wind filled parachute dragged the harness from his body. Door Gunner spent the next eight weeks in the hospital recovering from his broken leg. The doctor profiled Door Gunner’s medical record to reflect that he was “disqualified for airborne training.” Disappointed, but determined to be airborne in some manner, Door Gunner volunteered to be sent to Vietnam with an aviation unit as a door gunner.

© 2019 Charles Stokes, All Rights Reserved

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By Charles Stokes – Warrior Poet

Are we subconsciously conditioned to respond a certain way?

The more convoluted, the more important.

If you make it easy- I’m likely to be insulted. It’s too simple.

Make it complicated, so I have to fight and struggle to understand the simple.

Let us use words hard to understand; maybe later we will boil it down.

Boil it into its essence.

Let us set our truth in his title- not in the substance of his speech.

Let us blindly follow the circle in its continual loop finding new start points.

Start points not long ago tried – Espouse the newness and challenge those –

Who dare say “Weren’t we here before?”


© 2019 Charles Stokes, All Rights Reserved

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Tunnel Vision

By Steve Briscoe

For those who may not know, tunnel vision describes an event when a person is so focused on a specific area they are oblivious to everything else around them.  This is very dangerous when you come face to face with a lethal encounter or if you inadvertently place yourself in an insecure or unsafe environment.  You are so focused on what you perceive to be the main threat that you are oblivious to the real threat, and in some cases multiple threats that are are solely focused on you.  An official definition uses the phrase, “…defective sight…” in the description.  Another definition, “…tendency to focus exclusively on a single or limited goal or point of view excluding any opposing vantage point…”  Other phrases associated with tunnel vision are, “narrow perspective, constricted vision, or tubular vision.”

In some cases there are medical conditions that case an actual restriction of vision; see your doctor for treatment.  In most cases tunnel vision, at least this particular aspect of tunnel vision, is self-inflected based on a strong, and often tainted, point of view formulated with the use of only some of the facts, half truths, and disinformation combined with a willingness to totally disregard facts that do not support your viewpoint.  With regard to self-infected tunnel vision there is no need to see your doctor; your doctor can’t help you, but there is a need to self-diagnose and act accordingly.  Most will not take the time to self-diagnose because, in their mind, they do not suffer from tunnel vision.  Therein resides the problem.  “I’m right, everyone else is obviously wrong.

If you are courageous enough to self-diagnose and are courageous enough to seek a remedy then keep reading.

Our Nation is being ripped apart by self-serving, self-appointed, and often destructive forces.  These forces are not limited to the left nor the right of center.  Regardless of where you reside, relative to center, there is a danger of being used by these forces.  If you agree with the far left (White supremacy runs rampant!!!) you are compelled to hate the right, if you agree with the far right (Trump can do no wrong!!!) you are compelled to hate the left.  This compulsion is fueled by an agenda driven media from both ends of the spectrum; this cannot be denied.

Based on current mindsets, who in their right mind would spend millions on a movie (The Hunt) depicting “liberal elites” hunting down and killing “deplorables” (a term used to describe conservatives) for sport?  The only reason a movie like this would be made is to fuel hate and distrust.  Why would either side, left or right, allow such a thing to be created under the guise of “entertainment.”

We are being played and if we continue to allow it there will be serious consequences for us all.  I have to believe if a movie were made where conservative “red-necks” hunted liberals the backlash and outcry would be deafening; as it should be.

We suffer from tunnel vision and until we are willing to discuss, calmly discuss, our differences, our beliefs, our concerns, our misconceptions, and our personal views we will continue to suffer.  Based on present day societal norms if we disagree on a single topic then those norms dictate we hate each other.   We are being played.

We are all intelligent enough to see the disparity, but are we intelligent enough to see our part in that disparity.  Are we willing to back off, open our eyes to see the full spectrum of players, and discern the intent of all the players?

We are being played… and we are better than that.

PS… If this narrative offends you then I would submit you suffer from tunnel vision.

© 2019 Steve Briscoe, All Rights Reserved

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