Updated: Jul 8
Wednesday morning I was packing up and heading due south down the mighty I-75 corridor into Florida. I drove to Knoxville, TN and pulled over but drove the rest of the distance, all day Friday, got home just in time to have supper at our favorite restaurant , Magas Pizzeria
I promise to talk my 1000 mile trip into deepest north-land. You know!? for a few days I felt I shared the pain of an on-coming winter that's hiding under the bed. This trip was a chance for two old men to talk to each other, to be young men again. It felt right and for the first time in a long time, life was clean. Thanks, (de) Bear
Part III. The life of a Vet learning how to interact with warrior types, sort-of-like,"Sleepy Hollow".
I went to my very first meeting of an organization out of St Augustine called VETS 4 VETS. A lot of good works from the Veterans community and the Artist Villagers make St Augustine a friendly town for wayfaring Veterans, especially the "Walking Dead"!
V4V's have held their meetings at the Veterans Arena before so I was curious about the kind of turn out, and I was floored, a thousand++I don't know. For every Veteran and Wife, there was matching vendors out the yeng-yang. Every kind, even a rep. from Hospice. Of coarse the No-Health Care was overly represented.
Only the best for our "Walking Dead" Community
V4V's fed this group to another great meal of Bar Bar Que. The meeting was well attended and as always, a lot of information was being shoveled at these poor old men and their Brides. But, for the most part, the weary, the tired in spirit and body where in attendance, and all limping around. Sometimes, it hurts to make eye contact. Not so much for the women, but the Veterans carries the guilt of a NATION on his broken-heart and it's a insane poison and a factor in the 22 a-Day Suicide rate for the "Walking Dead"!!?
Behind the scene, my local chapter of the VVA sends out a bulletin, that the Chapter would not occupy there table at this V4Vs meeting. The Pres. of our Chapter was in some disagreement with the direction their meetings were taking, and didn't want to be involve with V4Vs until the changed there ways. Strange, I have no earthly clue what's going on. So I arrive with my personal "Walking Dead 4-wheeler" and started checking out all the vendor tables and found the VVA empty table. Hot damn, when opportunity knocks,,,hell, I took the table over. Set up my one book and a couple props or pictures of my "Noble Canine" book and opened for business. I talked to a lot of people about War Dogs, and if I had had copies of "Noble Canine" I would have made sales. So, I liked my little victory over the the Lifer's Club.
What did I think of this meeting, NOT MUCH!?
Bigger is not necessarily better. In-fighting between Veteran Organizations and personalities, is laughable and unbecoming a proper "Walking Dead" organization. Overall the sadness was apparent, see it in the eyes. Sadness for a lot of Agent Orange Veterans can easily turn, to self-loathing and end in suicide. Again, a national disgrace. TWO MILLION DEAD. Most people do not understand, or see, or feel this number. It is a 'too-big-a-number' that represents dead people. Dead Americans.
August was a very busy month, and a much needed introduction back into the Vet Community. If I'm to convince Vietnam Veterans to support my newly published book, "Noble Canine", then I may be attending a lot more meetings. In that vain, I joined the local VFW in Farmington, of all places. When my membership card arrives, I'll be able to attend VFW meetings, wherever they meet in the world. I've made a decision to try and reach out to my brother veterans and try to convince them how important it is to get the real story of Vietnam into print and to support those artist who have managed to write and publish the continuing story of daily life during wartime Vietnam. There is a lot of interest all thing Vietnam, but getting the word out that my book is available, is tough when you are an unknown author, or unknown anything, even my outspokenness on Agent Orange issues will have consequences, so I need the help, of 'we the people'. BUY TEN COPIES OF NOBLE CANINE and give to your friends with the same instructions. BUY TEN COPIES OF NOBLE CANINE and,,,...,,,...<
My beloved truck got me safely to Michigan and breathe the transmissions last breath.
$2700.00 later and four days visiting my old friend who walked a dog on the very same ground, that was Phu Cat A.B. as I. I'll call him 'Bear'. As in "Gentle Giant'. He wears a hat at VFW meetings. After the truck was safely in the hands of a transmission shop the shop owner informs me the job may take as many as four days, mostly, waiting on parts. I booked four night in an older motel, that turned out to be very comfortable. I rented a car and was now free to enjoy some much needed conversation with Bear. We spent three hours in my room, talking. a lot of, "do you remember?!?!?!". We didn't make it, that day to the War Dog Memorial. We got settled in with each other and the conversation was relaxed and all over the place. But we started thinking about things pass, what happened fifty years ago, and ended up getting totally lost in a thousand frame per second mental walk and, just lost it for a breath or two. Not sure what that means.
When Vietnam Veterans, get together and finally get down too 'boots on the ground time', real-time Vietnam, the veteran doesn't know where he will land or where his mind will end up at, but takes a leap of faith anyway, knowing he is not alone. Me and de Bear had that feeling for the briefest moment, but long enough that we both experienced serious HEALING. Bear made the remark to his head-Doctor, that my visit has done more for his disposition then the Doctor ever did. Its really strange, downright spooky to be seated next to a guy you haven't seen in fifty years and re-start the story like your playing with pick-up-sticks. But, you know, spending time with a Sentry Dog Handler was huge. I've already said it, bears repeating, our time together was short, but just right and HEALING. Know that our spirits were sky-high.
Next day we make an appearance at the War Dog Memorial that had been carved out of a very old cemetery where both dogs and people where buried under five feet of weeds and brush, really over grown.
It was a major project that turned a ratty graveyard into a beautiful park.
The displays where professionally created on black-like glass with K9 images of teams at work. What got me down deep was seeing 'Smoky X480-Junior on the K9 Wall along with the Names and Serial Numbers of our K9 brother and sisters, the Wall held over 4000 names. We sit for a little while and never did I ask the Bear what his involvement was. I'm anxious to know? Forgive me for missing the opportunity.
Tuesday evening, the transmission is installed, but can't be test driven until morning. So It looks like I may be on the road by lunch time, that is if the creeks don't rise. Tues morning I accompany Bear to see his Head-doctor and visit a different VA Medial Hospital. The Doctor didn't show. Gee, Isn't that special!?
Wednesday morning, I was packing up and heading due south down the mighty I-75 corridor into Florida. I drove to Knoxville, TN., spent the night and traveled the rest of the distance, all day Friday, and got home just in time to have supper at our favorite eatery, Magas Pizzeria.
Despite transmission mayham, I arrived safely to my destination and made it home in two days. The road trip was beautiful, its been a while since I've traveled over the Smoky Mountains. And I hadn't had the pleasure in a long time of getting through Atlanta at any hour. By the time I pulled in the front yard, my butt had fallen to sleep and it still hasn't woke up.
All is well, back in the Sunshine State, winter who?