Soldier’s Reverie: Vietnam

During service, my path crossed with Charles Stokes’ a few times. We were Senior ROTC instructors. He was at Seton Hall and I was at Gannon University, a small Catholic school located in downtown Erie, Pennsylvania. On one such occasion, we were attending a wilderness instructor’s course around Seneca Rock, West Virginia. We were organized into teams and Charles was my team leader. For several days we were spelunking and rock climbing and on the final day humping to the top of Spruce Knob, West Virginia’s highest point. It was clear that Charles was an old hand a much of what we were doing, except for possibly when we were in a cave several miles underground.

On our final day, we stopped for our break. I was thankful because I was carrying a sack of oranges in my ruck. Except for my oranges, the other food items spread around the team were gone. Now these were not your typical oranges, they more closely resembled basketballs. As I hauled them out (Charles may not recall) Charles asked me where I got the rucksack I was using. Turns out it was probably familiar to him as it was loaned to me by a Special Forces Master Sergeant I worked with at Gannon. Our paths crossed once more at ROTC summer camp at Fort Bragg.

In the fall of 1997, I was invited to be one of the first enlisted Soldiers to attend the Sustaining Base Leadership and Management Program of the Army Management Staff College. I soon learned one of the three professors assigned to my group was Charles Stokes. Charles was a professor, but at his core still a noncommissioned officer guiding, leading and mentoring.

Charles is the real deal. Let me tell you about him. He is a 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. He is also a graduate of the US State Department Laotian Language School. He taught Senior ROTC at Seton Hall University and served as the Senior Operations, Security, and Intelligence NCO for the Military District of Washington, DC, before retiring from the Army. As a civilian Charles taught Leadership, Management, and Decision Making at the Army Management Staff College.

Not long ago, I was privileged to read Charles’ book manuscript, Soldier’s Reverie: Vietnam. I’m going to share with you a brief review of a gripping story. On this Veteran’s Day weekend, I encourage you to pick up a copy and read the long-awaited story of Vietnam Veterans.

Soldier’s Reverie: Vietnam
A book review by J. D Pendry, Command Sergeant Major, U. S. Army, (Retired)

Charles Stokes, in his excellent book Soldier’s Reverie: Vietnam, masterfully tells the story Veterans of the Vietnam era have longed to have told. From the unique perspective of one who lived it, a career Special Operations Soldier and Vietnam combat Veteran tells the story of the Vietnam era Soldier.

Soldiers of the time will readily identify with the characters. The Garrison Soldiers, McNamara’s 100,000, black marketeers, Mamasans, business girls, recon Soldiers, the too often caught in the middle Vietnamese Villagers, and the Viet Cong. As their lives evolve and stories intertwine, war touches all of them from the middle school dropout become Recon Team Tail Gunner and from goose herder become lethal Viet Cong tracker.

Charles takes you on multiple journeys. Each one a story of its own. Each one intertwined with another. Whether it’s being conned by smooth ladies of the night or isolated and fighting for your life, he paints a vivid portrait and drops you right in the middle of it. You will feel the sweltering tropical heat and experience the chill of the monsoon rains. No doubt some will re-experience anxiety, relive the brotherhood of warriors in intense combat, feel the heartache of losing a brother, recall the brief reprieve of R&R, and feel the letdown of a too often unwelcome return home.

You will thoroughly enjoy this story. If you are a Vietnam Veteran it’s your story from your typical socio-economic background to the grind. You’ll catch yourself going back to your time. You’ll re-read. My prediction is someday you may see this story, your story, unfold as a major motion picture.

We already have a God app…

Here’s a hint. It ain’t on your smart phone.

As we headed through the New River Gorge it was foggy and breaking daylight.
We were not able to see much of the fall colors. As the morning wore on and the blacktop passed beneath us at highway speeds, the sun began to burn through the fog. By the time we hit the state line, the view was spectacular. Mountains worth of red, gold, yellow and orange with evergreen smatterings exploded out of the landscape. Basking in the beautiful presentation of the kind only God makes was certainly enough to clear the mind of politics. The drive through the Shenandoah Valley is pleasant most any season. Within the confines of your automobile accompanied by the right music it has a definite calming touch.

I watched a television commercial for a telephone app that calms you during stressed filled times. It is actually named Calm.

“Calm is the leading app for meditation and sleep. Join the millions experiencing lower stress, less anxiety, and more restful sleep with our guided meditations, Sleep Stories, breathing programs, masterclasses, and relaxing music. Recommended by top psychologists, therapists, and mental health experts.” Google Play

The woman in the commercial said she felt amazing after using the app. Back in the day I had a few Hippie friends who, when not high on mind altering drugs, sang the praises of Transcendental Meditation. According to the TM web site, it provides “deep relief form stress and anxiety, clarity of mind, and a healthier heart.” The site’s testimonials declared it changes lives.

An article at the Daily Star suggests that artificial intelligence will be the end of God. God and praying to Jesus will become obsolete and humans will worship an artificial intelligence messiah. It was an unwavering declaration. God is obsolete. As my Mamma used to say, “I do declare, that young’un is going to bust hell wide open.” Mamma didn’t pull punches. Scanning the breadth of humanity filled with politicians, experts on everything from fishing worms to distant galaxies and those who read scripts well before television cameras, many of us already do. Worship artificial intelligence that is. I suppose next up is a God app. Android or Apple? Don’t invest in it.

I had to seek forgiveness several times driving around in Northern Virginia traffic. When the light changed, I was sitting in the right turn lane. Some guy or gal beside me in the no turn lane also decided to turn right. There were dark tinted windows all around so I didn’t get a look at him or her. Turns out both of us were headed for the left lane at which time there was a loud horn blast. That’s when Suzie-Q asked me if I knew him. I responded no and she asked how do you know his name is Dick? I sought forgiveness. Then I thought this is how people get shot around here. I sought forgiveness again hoping I made it out of there not in hand irons.

When we broke free of the DC metro traffic, we were treated to another beautiful and peaceful landscape. When I finally headed west back toward wild and wonderful, the colorful hills reappeared. It sometimes looked as if we were driving straight into a mountain of color when the road turned us toward another gorgeous valley. By the time we reached the New River Gorge area, it was raining. Most of the view was hidden by rainy mist and a gathering ground fog. But even with that the landscape managed to poke through at just the right places to remind that when God pulls out the color pallet and brushes there is no equal.

When you feel all beat up over politics and elections, life in general or people who shouldn’t be allowed to drive, pass on the phone apps and gurus. Break away from the concrete jungle if you are unfortunate enough to be imprisoned there. Find a spot sit and marvel at God’s creation. The calmness will find you.

© 2018 J. D. Pendry J. D. Pendry’s American Journal

I blame it all on Rush Limbaugh

I don’t believe I could be a journalist. Writing news is excruciatingly boring. At least it is to me. Maybe that’s why it’s done so poorly these days. I write about news and events and sometimes about neither. In recent years, that’s become quite depressing. Maybe it’s also why the news types seem so angry. Anger certainly taints reporting.

It’s a sign of our times that I feel like I have to know what’s happening every minute of the day. It shouldn’t be that way. Few people writing news and commentary nowadays have identifiable writing voices. Mark Twain, Will Rogers both known to comment on events of their day had recognizable writing voices. You didn’t need to see a byline. Today’s news is certainly not stimulating reading unless bleeding eyes anger is your forte. My view is likely a product of what I mostly read.  In the vernacular of the day, I’m a news junkie although I’m trying to be less so.  In that word menagerie characterized as news there’s nothing literarily stimulating. Some reporters attempt a little literary flair, but just beyond their opening of it was a misty fall day lies a collage of clunkers.

So here we are on the eve of our destruction and wondering if we should just walk away into the woods and let the craziness pass us by. Like the old Mac Davis tune, “You got to stop and smell the roses, You’ve got to count your many blessings everyday, You’re gonna find your way to heaven is a rough and rocky road, If you don’t stop and smell the roses along the way.” I don’t care for the way news is presented whether video, audio, or print. I think news channels and the Internet may be the death of us, or maybe just me. It is incredibly difficult to determine who is being factual and truthful and doubly difficult to find someone to trust. There is no longer a trusted news source although practically every source of news declares themselves so. I blame it all on Rush Limbaugh.

Mr. Limbaugh doesn’t report news. He’s not a journalist. He doesn’t claim to be one. What he does exceptionally well is analyze the day’s news and events and provide his own take backed by many years of experience doing the same thing. He’s not preachy, an attribute of some radio voices that causes me to readily spin the dial. Yes, I still have a Hallicrafters model S-214 solid state radio sitting nearby where I must turn the nob to tune in a station. My Dad gave it to me in July 1980. I was passing through to my next Army assignment and admired it sitting there on the counter in his shop. It has AM and FM bands and several short-wave bands. As I was leaving West Virginia for Alabama, Dad unplugged the radio, wrapped the cord around it and said, “here, take this with you.” It’s been with me ever since and I still like the tinny sounds emanating from Dad’s old radio. It also returns fond memories of him tinkering around in his shop with radios and televisions. With no formal schooling for the skill, Dad could fix about anything electric. When I was young, he had his own repair shop business until a flood took it away. If there is a radio shop in heaven I reckon he’s in it doing what he loved, tinkering and still smelling the roses.

My apologies, but sometimes I tend to wander off now back to Mr. Limbaugh. I’ve heard it declared that Rush Limbaugh saved AM radio. From the mid 60’s until I enlisted into the Army in 1971, I lived in Chicago. I listened to two AM stations WCFL and WLS both playing rock and roll top 40. On CFL I liked DJ Barney Pip who was a little wild with a strange voice for a DJ. On WLS, I liked Larry Lujack and Dick Biondi. I also liked the episodes of Chickenman, although I don’t remember which station. I was sitting in the kitchen of our cramped northside apartment one day eating a snack and listening to Biondi. He was talking as DJ’s do and he said, and this may not be his exact quote concerning mini-skirts, but it’s close, “If these skirts get any shorter the girls will have two more cheeks to powder and more hair to comb” I almost choked and I think soda pop came out of my nose. That was a tad risqué even for the free love 60’s. Biondi was fired for that one and eventually I believe just moved over to CFL. Like rock and roll on the AM, many of the old DJs have passed on. They’re all talk or sports stations now. It’s the Limbaugh influence.

Limbaugh has an incredibly large audience and probably is the prime driver behind the explosion of AM talk radio. So, the problem with journalism today is that so-called journalist rather than reporting factual news try out Limbaugh Rush Limbaugh. That’s a losing approach to their business. They simply cannot report concise, factual accounts of the news without ideologically slanting it with their personal views and opinions and all too frequently challenging what Mr. Limbaugh said. Envy is not a good attribute. If they did factual and unbiased reporting we wouldn’t need the sage Rush Limbaugh to sort it out for us. Once again God brings balance to the universe.

Now I’m not certain I know where I was headed with this one so I don’t know if I’m there yet, but like the old cowboy said, I know I like bacon. I also need to spend less time in the news and more time smelling the roses. And those old 60’s DJs on the satellite radio channel truly make me long for Pip, Lujack and Biondi. An occasional walk on the wild side is also good for the soul. I believe Limbaugh said he started as a top 40’s DJ. Now I bet that was interesting.

© 2018 J. D. Pendry J.D. Pendry’s American Journal

Choices to Make – there could not be a better laid plan to destroy our country than what is unfolding before us

It is hard to say how our country derailed or lay the blame for it on to one person. We’ve all had a role and I do have some things to say about it.
I pray every American is thinking hard about the choices before them and the future choices made brings.

It is sad for me to state it, but we’ve become a godless, hate filled nation. It is always worth remembering that God does not inspire hatred. He inspires greatness, justice, mercy and humbleness.

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

We’ve abandoned common decency. We show little respect to anyone who disagrees with us. The sad thing is, too many of us do not know what we believe and instead side with one group or the other out of ignorance and blind hatred. We’ve been led down this path by fallible people. People who are or would be our leaders are not ignorant of our history or how an economy works, but choose to distort or revise it to suit their motives. And those who are wholly ignorant choose to blindly follow a personality. Other than supernatural, there could not be a better laid plan to destroy our country than what is unfolding before us.

Americanism versus Socialism?

There are varying definitions of Americanism. It may mean holding to a collective identity, upholding traditions and values, the manner of using the English language, or a cultural style. Most anything can hang beneath that shingle. First, it means freedom and individual liberty as a human birthright. A birthright from God long preceding founding of the United States of America and is as old as humankind itself. It is an Americanism because it is the cornerstone of our great nation and guaranteed us by the law of the land. A laissez-faire economic system where transactions between private parties ought to be free of government interference is an Americanism. Because of the expansion of government and creeping socialist tendencies, keeping the government at bay is growingly more difficult than it should be. Each individual’s pursuit of happiness and wealth by providing goods and services others need and desire also provides employment for the producers. It is the circle of economic growth responsible for the wealthiest nation on earth. Even with that very basic understanding there is a threatening push for socialism.

How about the bottom line up front? If Socialism is such a panacea why does there always seem to be a caravan from failing Socialist countries headed to our undefended practically invisible borders. Short of war, the people in control of those countries will never change. Instead, they’ll open the pressure valve releasing the poverty stricken and uneducated for the journey north rather than allowing it to blow. There is a narcissistic view held by American Socialists that they are smarter and know how, under the veil of social justice, to make Socialism work. Never admitting that every attempt at Socialism has failed resulting in abject poverty and body counts into the hundreds of millions. Government is only marginally good at governing. When it controls the entire economic system, means of production and healthcare it isn’t even marginally good. In fact, it’s disastrous. Hitler was a Socialist. The biggest head scratcher is the most prominent voices pushing Socialism and Communism are the pampered and super wealthy such as entertainers and athletes where evidence of hard work and educational letters are a rarity. Wealthy only because they were blessed to be in America. They are the cheerleaders for the classless society. The society in which they’d never willingly belong.

Make the choice.

Open borders?

I’m married to a legal immigrant. Our country is filled with many legal immigrants who are assimilated American citizens making significant contributions to our country. I support legal immigration, but it must also be controlled.

Open borders are part of the globalist worldview supported by the ultra-wealthy. This is the worldview that brought about the no borders European Union. Mass migration into these open borders countries is causing untold problems, not the least of which is a failure to assimilate. In most all cases, they appear to be economic migrants rather than the purported war refugees. Difficult for any country to absorb, especially the European welfare states.

Open borders are what some are pushing for the USA. These are not spontaneous gatherings of humans. Instead it is a well-organized and supported assault on our sovereignty. These people are marching behind the flags of their countries toward our borders. They’re economic migrants not looking to assimilate, only to earn, in most cases tax free, money and send it back home to prop up the failing socialist economies they’ve fled. If Washington’s politicians want a look, just drive a short distance West on US Route 50 to Falls Church or a little way out Columbia Pike to Annandale. Read all of the “how to avoid immigration and ICE” posters at the restaurants and stores.

The bottom line? If we open our borders to all comers our country will simply cease to exist. We will only succeed in importing the socialism these economic migrants fled and if ever allowed citizenship and the right to vote we will have lost forever. Our country will break up quicker than you can say Balkanization.

Make a choice.

The New World Order?

This is the aim of the world’s ultra-wealthy the likes of George Soros and everything mentioned up to this point are just aims of the plan. Ultimately, one world governance, one world economy, one world religion… There would be the George Soros’s of the world and you and I in the serfdom. We would be the classless society. There is but one barrier for the New World Order. It’s the United States of America and thanks to the genius of our founders a free and armed society. We’ve had past presidents who subscribed to globalism and worked diligently to move us in that direction. What we have now, adored and hated, is a New World Order battering ram. In my lifetime, only Presidents Kennedy and Reagan spoke with as much passion about America and her greatness as does Donald Trump. Most assuredly Kennedy and Reagan spoke more eloquently and neither had a cell phone, but the message rings the same. We are a great and sovereign country capable of great things and we should strive to remain so. All three in their actions bucked the new world order. Kennedy was assassinated, Reagan was shot. With all the vitriol spewed daily toward President Trump we should, even if required to set aside blind hatred, pray for the safety of him and his family.

Make a choice.

© 2018 J. D. Pendry J. D. Pendry’s American Journal


Man Size It

Do you sometimes feel like you rolled over, stepped out of bed, and landed in another dimension? Or maybe there really is a Twilight Zone, “a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man.” No, that wouldn’t work because in our dimension that is a blatantly sexist expression.
It presumes that what’s known to women, men cannot grasp. But I don’t understand that either. Maybe women do know about the dimension that’s unknown to men. We are so jacked up that Ph. D. John Gray wrote a book designed to fix us. Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex. I begins like this:

“Imagine that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. One day long ago the Martians, looking through their telescopes, discovered the Venusians. Just glimpsing the Venusians awakened feelings they had never known. They fell in love and quickly invented space travel and flew to Venus.”

In today’s world, our newfound dimension, we can’t have anything called “Mansized.” Seeing modern metro-sexual men walking around in skinny jeans I’m beginning to understand that thought process. I believe the aim is to remake men in the image of women. Would it be okay to have something Ladysized? Mansized, Ladysized, is there not a distinct difference? A difference the average asexual thinking human could readily grasp without being offended?

Let’s examine the opening paragraph of Dr. Gray’s book. The book whose stated purpose is A Practical Guide for Improving Communication and Getting What You Want in Your Relationships. What was acceptable in 1991 would today not pass the politically correct muster. The Doc would be scalded across many media platforms. His opening paragraph implies that men are intelligent enough to invent space travel while the women who awakened before unknown feelings apparently driving the men wild are mere objects of male sexual desire. Come on Doc. You can’t get away with that here in the Twilight Zone.

Hey, how about a Manwich for dinner. I guess that would be a mansized meal and therefore unacceptable. We could call it a bigwich. Could there be a shewich? Oh, a transwich. How about a kidwich? If you were passing through your favorite fast food drive through and the teenager on the microphone asked, “Can I mansize that for you?” wouldn’t you understand? Or would you be so offended that you’d pitch a hissy fit and drive away? I’m guessing you’d say hell yea and throw in some extra ketchup packets. Is hissy fit another sexual reference? If it is my apologies, remember that I’m wandering around in a dimension beyond that which is known to man.

Well, I did not put the bottom line up front. Had I, it would have been the top line. I’m just getting old and have no desire to relearn the English language or its common expressions. That would be a mansized headache. What got me off on this Sunday morning chat is that I hear the Kleenex company was pressured by a “social-media uproar” to change the name of its “Man Size” tissues. Actually, that’s not entirely true. What happened is an electric power line tower was blown over by yesterday’s high wind and most of the town is in the dark. No electric, no church services so I had a little extra time on my hands this morning.

How does social media pressure anyone into doing anything? If you’re not willing to stand up for anything, why are you even in business? Why not declare that you will now have a Ladysize and you’ll add a caption to the Mansize noting it’s also appropriate for women having mansized schnozollas? I guess there is a good outcome for some. On ebay, Vintage Man Size Kleenex is going for $29.95 a box.

Maybe you’re old enough to recall the dimension when masculinity actually sold products. Lava soap to wash the tough grease from your hands. The Marlboro Man of this dimension would be wearing skinny jeans and eyeliner.

© 2018 J. D. Pendry J. D. Pendry’s American Journal

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