Monday, June 4, 2018

On Posers

Taking a look at these "POSER" bozos and realizing how pathetic their lives must be, puts a new perspective in my mind as to the value of each and every American who has given service to these United States. No one is greater than the other; no one is lesser than the other; and each is owed an amount of respect and thanks for their service. In the services we did the jobs and assignments we were given. Some got signing bonuses, job guarantees, duty assignment, but still, in t...he final tally, we did the jobs and missions assigned to us. In this light, I am reminded of this Teddy Roosevelt quote: "The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat." We have all known the victories of our assignments, the defeats and failures, and the satisfactions; none of this is known by the "Posers", not a single one. There is also a saying about our jobs and missions in the service: "There are no small jobs, just small people". A bit of wisdom I learned at the elbow of a South Carolina NG Sergeant Major, veteran of WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam, was this; "It takes 5 people in the rear to support one on the line, therefore, if your job isn't infantry, your job is to support the infantry." I am sorry for the length of my comment... but I do not regret it. We should justifiably be proud of our service in all the many jobs we do. Of more importance, however, we should be proud of each other and the duties of each. I wonder, do I make my point. No one is more important, we carry the load assigned. Winning takes a team and a team effort. Semper Fidelis !

Saturday, April 14, 2018

It is a beautiful starlit night. A peaceful place where danger doesn't exist; where an unnoticed quiet rolls through humid, listless air under a clouded tropical moon. Hardly a place to be described as emotionally significant or traumatic. The sounds of mosquitos zizzing all about, a frog croaking it's love call, a bird flying to it's evening roost. This could be the front porch of a Carolina cabin in summer or a campsite on a lazy, murmuring Georgia creek.
Inside the hooch insects cast eerie shadows on the walls and ceiling as they frantically circle around the single light bulb. It is intriguing but not psychologically shocking. As fatigue makes the eyes grow heavy the brain begins to drift. Thoughts of the days events swirl with memories of the last stateside party; friends laughing, telling jokes, pouring beer over some wise guy's head, and the last intimate moment spent with a girlfriend.
Then, without warning, the wailing screams of enemy rockets shatter the night with pounding destruction. Banshees unleashed from hell to steal whatever souls they may. BOOM ! BOOM ! BOOM! The earth begins to explode as screams of "incoming" pierce the night. Buildings are ripped apart and mem cry out in pain and terror. Instantly you know this isn't a front porch; there is no lazy creek; and this could be your last party.
You are experiencing a significant emotional event. One of the most horrifying and traumatic a human could be expected to endure. An event that will stamp into your brain the realization that you might die. You are now a victim of trauma.
If you survive there are plans and stages for recovery to help arrest or prevent substantial and lasting psychological damage. Discussing these stages of recovery will help to better understand the emotional ordeals experienced by victims and survivors. This is with the hope of helping rather than cause further harm.
Trauma recovery is an ongoing process. What the eyes have seen, the ears heard, the nose smelled, the body felt and the taste experienced will never go away. With a program of stages a life may once again have quality and hope.
Recovery is a three stage process: shock and denial, anger and depression and understanding and acceptance. In any significant emotional event assessed as bad, the victim or survivor must progress through these stages if any degree of recovery is to be achieved or accomplished.
War is not the only cause of significant emotional events. Something as simple as moving to a new place, the loss of a loved one through death or divorce, a child going away to school or being fired from your job. Incidents which interrupt the natural flow of life and threaten the mental status quo can set in motion a series of catastrophic psychological reactions.
Whether a person loses a loved one, witnesses a friends death in war or gets fired, recovery depends on how quickly we act and how tactfully we deal with the victims and survivors. The "stiff upper lip" cliché is one of the worst attempts at encouragement we can do.
If traumatized or just caught short, the first stage, shock and denial, is the most critical. Shock can be caused by almost anything going beyond our normal daily happenings. Using a survivor of divorce as an example of shock; "I can't believe they left me !" In incidents relating to war or heinous violations of a person, the reactions of the victim are the same: shock, disbelief and denial.

Friday, March 30, 2018

I can instruct you in the skills of war and how to be prepared
I can pass on to you our glorious history of courageous generals, great battles and selfless heroes
I cannot, however, teach you the urgency needed for you to do your best
That lesson must come from within
If it does not, it may be learned by looking into the cold dead eyes of a friend
September, 1985

 (C) R. Roughton

When winters' wind comes howling
  with breath so bitter cold
  I think of all the summers
  and our hearts so happy and bold
We lived our lives to the fullest
  we laughed and cried and screamed
  we survived the fleeing seasons
  with their pains and broken dreams

We loved and lost and dared love again
  each time the last we swore
  but we gathered up our shattered hearts
  and went back out the door

I know our days are numbered
  as are the sands upon the beach
  they must be lived to their fullest
  significance given to each

When my life has ended
  and my final hour drawn near
  I'll look back over those seasons
  but I'll shed not a tear

Not because I'm angry
  or won't see another day
  but because the Creator loved me
  and through His love showed me the way

December, 1985
(C) R. Roughton

The minutes of shock became hours
The hours of denial and pain turned into days
The angry days spun into weeks
The weeks of depression and rejection evolved into months
The months of learning and understanding
       gently, reluctantly, became the passing seasons
The passing seasons became growth
       acceptance... a new life
August, 1988 CpyRt
 R. Roughton

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The USS Juneau, LPD-10
I spent 9 months and 26 days on board the Juneau in 1973-74-75 as a member of embarked troops: Battalion Landing Teams (called BLT in those days) 1/9, 2/9 and 3/9. We floated from Teagu, ROK
to Subic Bay, RP; from Red Beach on Okinawa to south of Brisbane down into Sidney, Australia. During this time we trained with military units of many other nations. Our purpose was to be prepared to go back into Viet Nam where needed, when needed.
A young midshipman I had the privilege of working with 23 years later, Lance Priest, also spent time on the Juneau as a crew member. His job and that of his shipmates was to move other units similar to mine through the same waters to do a similar job. There was a considerable time difference in our tours on board. We spent our days aboard the USS Juneau, LPD 10 (Landing Platform Docking).
All naval vessels are of importance and for a myriad of reasons. The USS Juneau of World War II also holds a very unique place in history.
The USS Juneau, the warship that sank with 600 aboard, was discovered 4km down by an expedition in the South Pacific ocean funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The search team located the remains of the USS Juneau off the coast of the Solomon Islands on St Patrick’s Day.
The Juneau was sunk by Japanese torpedoes in November 1942, claiming the lives of 687 men, including five brothers known as the Sullivans from Waterloo, Iowa. The men became navy heroes and had a destroyer named after them.
Despite naval policy stipulating that siblings could not serve in the same military unit, brothers George, Francis, Joseph, Madison and Albert refused to serve in the navy unless they were posted to the same unit.
The ship, known as an Atlanta-class light cruiser was found more than 4,000 meters below the surface, resting on the floor of the ocean.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Movement to Action

Movement to Action

Show time was 0830 at the 'Can-do' pad. A PSP landing strip (PSP=Perforated Steel Plate, all hooked together to make a solid landing pad) which was usually used to saddle-up, load-up, and ride into combat. It never failed, we would sit there for at least 30-40 minutes. Time enough for our brains, the FNG's anyway, to begin to sweat the mission. The were called 'CA's", Combat Assaults. We waited, yawning, because of the anxiety, to load-up and begin the "Ride Into Combat". We were smoking , making small talk, sometimes going over the first 5 to 10 things we were to do on our 'once landed' checklist. I don't think I ever had a comfortable ruck sack. Something was always poking around the 'C-ration' box I used to keep things from poking me in the back. We used the outer C-Rat case material as a pad between our backs and pointy things inside our rucks. I always tried to doze a bit. Never sleeping, just hiding my controlled fear...
I could hear the 'Slicks' starting their run up.  The whirring then the infamous 'wop, wop, wop' as they neared hover check.  I looked at the two Marines.  One a for sure 'FNG'.  Not our term but hanging with these men, this company, our jargon had started to meld with theirs.  The 'newbie' was a kid from a small town in Oregon.  He wasn't the sharpest pencil in the box but he was motivated.  Motivation can take a man to incredible places if he listens and doesn't let that Ooo RAH motivation screw him up.  My number 2 man was a Lance Corporal trained in the so called art of NGF (Naval Gunfire)  It was his third CA and so far he had shown the calm expected when stepping into what could be a dose of hell.
"Hey, you got the call signs?  You got the shackle code; it's 'KNOWLESRAT' ".  Each letter stood for a number from 1 through 0.  We weren't supposed to use shackle codes but they worked and were quick, never used twice.  We also had reference points.  Ours were different from the unit we were supporting, 'Bravo Company'.  We kept their reference points on our maps, but had ours there as well.  Our reference points were 'Car Parts'.  Point one was 'carburetor'; point two was 'hubcap'; number three was 'mirror'; and so on.  Theirs were 'automobiles';  chevy, ford, bronco, Cadillac, etc..   "Whose got the 2 extra batteries?"  Simpson had the batteries. "Burris, you got the extra chow for Simpson?"  I was carrying the radio, had the ship on the horn and was running radio checks every 5 minutes.  We shared the weight of our combat loads and we swapped rucks everyday to even things up.  The Marine with the radio called the missions.  The insertion was my radio because of my experience.  "Any questions?"  "Yeah", Simpson spoke up, "how many days out?"  "Didn't you get that down at briefing?"  "Damn, boy, where the hell is your green book?"  "Yeah, I got that down somewhere but was just double checking."  "Alright, three, maybe four days."   "It depends on what?"  They both chimed in, " Depending on Victor Charlie's strength and attitude."  "Damn right!  Now Simpson, watch me for arm signals and you'd better be moving."  "Burris, are you jake (squared away)?"  "Yeah, I got it."  "Good, we're set, just waiting for the Army"
After their hover checks the Slicks slowly moved into a line and slowly moved over to pick us up. We stood on the edge of the 'Can Do' pad and waited.  Those seconds seemed like hours.  The slicks moved in all lined up and we checked straps, maps and testicles.  We rushed for our bird, hopped on and began the butt-pucker factor.  There was no safety strap, just us, and 5 other souls headed into the unknown.  Once onboard, the birds did another hover check, upped the RPM, pulled the cyclic, began moving forward with our noses headed down until speed was reached and we climbed into that hot muck we called air.