Have a Blessed Thanksiving

It was always a special event to serve Thanksgiving dinner to Soldiers while wearing dress blues. Soldiers always had a big smile on their faces when being served by their leaders. They especially liked it when the Mess Sergeant supervising the operation kept telling the servers to watch the serving size or they could run out. I don’t reckon I ever made it through my shift as a server without getting something on my uniform. This was usually pointed out by my wife when I finally joined my son and her for our meal together.

While in the Army, my most memorable Thanksgiving dinner had to be first in 1971 during Basic Combat Training at Fort Ord, California. It was the first time I saw an Army dress blue uniform. The Senior Drill Sergeant, First Sergeant and Company Commander wore them. The other Drill Sergeants wore their Class A service uniforms. Every member of the cadre was a Vietnam Combat Veteran. I would later come to realize that was behind the intensity and urgency with which they pushed and trained us.

I remember that Mess Hall scene as clearly today as if I was still standing there. What was typically very business like with lots of kitchen noise, little or no talking, and Drill Sergeants yelling out for the dining room orderlies wasn’t there. Tables were set out in long rows all of them covered with white linens. Some trainees were able to have their families there. We entered the Mess Hall and were positioned behind a chair. Once everyone was in, we were seated and then table by table we moved through the serving line. The cooks typically served us wearing white tee-shirts and aprons and moved us through as quickly as possible. This day, they were decked out in heavily starched cook whites and where polite as we moved through the line. Back in the barracks, we were allowed to call home. I made my collect call home and talked with my parents until the Drill Sergeant reminded that others were waiting. On that day, my leaders and comrades in arms became my extended family. It was a great Army day.

As you go through this day of thanksgiving, take a moment. Remember at many locations around this world, Soldiers married and single are separated from their families. The bonds they have with fellow Soldiers is significant for them, but there is no bond closer than real family. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers. God bless them everyone.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

I’m an American- The political left was speaking ill of me long before Donald Trump was elected President

I’ve been busy with something that’s taking a lot of time and thought. It’s been keeping me from regular posts to the blog. But these days things build up making it necessary to do a mind dump to remove the noise and clutter that tends to break one’s concentration and thought patterns. It’s therapeutic. It lays things aside allowing focus.

The political left was speaking ill of me long before Donald Trump was elected President. When decades of globalist-oriented government failed, I was told: “…it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” The statement says a lot about the person who made it and the ideological mindset of those whom he represents. I’m bitter? Every time the media speaks, I hear I’m hateful, angry and a threat to our country. I’m told my constitutional right to keep and bear arms is responsible for all gun violence. Christianity is mocked as a matter of routine even from the Whitehouse and the floors of Congress. I’m called a racist because I believe in secure borders and “legal” immigration. If I want the factories to return so that my middle American neighbors may ply their learned skills and trades to earn a decent living, I’m anti trade.

The truth is, I’m not a globalist. I’m an American. Rather than being anti anything, I am pro American. I am a patriot with an unwavering allegiance to the country of my birth. An allegiance to the exceptional country as founded on the precept of individual liberty. I live under an oath without an expiration date, a sworn oath to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. I will fulfill my oath. Since patriotism has not yet been demonized, I’m being called a nationalist. Some adding the descriptor white to it intoning that I am some sort of a supremacist. No, I’m just an American. A patriot or nationalist as you choose. None of it means anything more than I believe in sovereignty of our country, self-governance, self-determination, and freedom. I stand to welcome anyone into our country who arrives legally, wants to make a contribution to our society, and who willingly embraces American ideals rather than bringing with them the failed systems they escaped.

The very declaration, I am an American, is being turned ugly. It’s been headed in that direction ever since the misguided youth of the 1960s began to burn bras and draft cards and clamor for free love and legal drugs. Their minds poisoned by the evils of capitalism and the utopia of socialism and communism. That generation became university professors. Following five decades of political indoctrination on our college campuses, here we are. One of our political parities is so rigid they’ve become a wholly owned subsidiary of the establishment donor class. But don’t be too hasty with assumptions, the other party has its donor class as well and it filled vacancies left by retiring cowards with progressives. Please do a little research. You will soon learn that Progressive is interchangeable with Communist. To the ignorant, progressive is a little more palatable to the ear. They are more in line with trashing our Constitution rather than supporting and defending it.

I know it makes me a modern-day pariah to even think it, but multi-culturalism fails. There will always be one or the other seeking dominance. We should hold tightly to our heritage and ethnicity. It is who we are. But if America is to survive, we must all embrace our national motto, out of many one. Out of many cultures comes an American culture. Not a utopia, but the best ever conceived by humans.

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

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

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