Day After

Last night we had a deluge of rain and some wind.  A friend in Lawrence had a tree fall on his car but luckily it didn't do that much damage.  They did have to take a chain saw and cut the tree off but it was still mobile after that.   I notice there are a couple of branches broken here but nothing too dangerous.

I brought my Cub Cadet mower home from David's and it would not start.  Even with the battery freshly charged, nothing would happen when I turned on the key.  With the battery out of the mower, I could see the bottom of the battery box and there seemed to be one small wire not fastened to anything.  I imagine that one of the pack rats chewed it off.  It just so happened to be the ground wire to the ignition switch and without it, nothing worked.  Minor problem to fix once I found where the problem was.  

Again, I needed the plastic box of connectors and the crimping tool to put a splice in the cut wire.  I looked everywhere but could not find either.  I got out the soldering iron and fixed the wire on a lot more permanent style.  A short trip to harbor freight put me back in business but I will probably find the missing items in a day or so.   The girl at Harbor freight said to pout the box in the first place I looked for the old one.  Now if I could just remember where that was.

Next year will be the 50th anniversary of my graduating from OCS at Fort Sill.  I wonder how many other guys will show up for that.   I went to my 50th High School reunion last year and had a good time.  Perhaps I can get my High School buddy and OCS fellow attendee to go.  Oh well, Perhaps Harvey won't be interested as he went on and made his career in the Construction business and I retired from the Military.

Have you noticed that most of the popular writers are having someone write parts of their books?  In a lot of cases I can't tell where one starts and the other ends.  In some cases, it is plain.  W.E. B. Griffon (William Butterworth) has a son that co-writes with him.  When Dad is writing, the information that fills in more than the conversation is good.  When the son writes, the conversation is OK but the background is very flat.  Oh well, he is getting old and perhaps it is the dad that is forgetting some of the details.

'Better run and get some things done.



Yep, the Olympics are finally Over

If that is the real case, why are the reruns still on Cable TV?  Oh well, I have other things to do now that the temperatures are back in the normal range.  I will do my best to get everything done this fall before winter really sets in.

Today there was an ad in the paper for a car I wanted to buy but someone got there before I did.  They wanted $4,000 for an 04 Mercury with about 40,000 miles on it.  Today it is in the paper for almost $7,000.  Dang I hate it when that happens.  I have been looking for a newer car for Barb but so far haven't found anything as cheap as I am. 

Today I am going to the store and will get some fixin's for spaghetti squash dinner that I have in my mind.  We have plenty of squash and I have this idea that a spicy (Cajun) dish might be right on point.  I will use some bratwurst and some Cajun tomato seasoning.  Just for the heck of it I have Okra and I might add some of that to the mix. 

Some time this week I hope that the trail is dry and we can get in another bike ride.  Today we are going to take our Daughter-in-law out to lunch.  I am not sure that Barb thinks we can get in a ride before that.  Oh well, it doesn't hurt to ask.

Just for kicks and giggles, I am going to propose for the Grammar Nazi's some changes.   Everyone is all up in arms over your and you're.  If we could just call it UR and move on.   There, Their and They're could be just TR.  Now wasn't that easy?   Move on boys and girls.

Last night on my way home from singing, I had my radio on and the Talk Radio guys were going on about how the media is all in favor of Hillary.  Then they spent about 15 minutes making up stuff about Donald Trump.   Sheesh, I will be ever so glad when this is all over.  If you really want to ready the funny papers go to Facebook and just see the crap there. (or TR)

Better go se if the wife has plans.



Yep, It's Monday Again

As an old retired fart, the idea of an alarm clock has gone out the window.  I needed to get up early yesterday to sing with the Barbershop Chorus so I looked for an alarm clock app on my cell phone.  There it was.  I set it and laid it down next to where I would sleep.   At 6:30 the most terrible music blared out of that little phone.  I had selected the William Tell Overture sang by the Vienna's Boys choir.   The opening to that song was like someone had played it with a bad set of trumpets.  The edge in their voices had to be loud enough to wake the Devil.  It worked for me.  In case you haven't listened to the Bill tell song in a while, I hum it every time I go to the dump.  "To the Dump, To the Dum, To the Dump, dump, dump."  Once it gets into my head, it just sits there and I have to sing along.

Our Barbershop Chorus sings three times in the summer at different churches.  It is so the choir can have a day off.  It is really a lot of fun and worth the effort even if I do have to come home and take a nap.   Who do I think I am kidding?  I would have taken a nap either way. 

This morning I was wearing my new KU shirt Barb bought me for my Birthday.  I told her it was my birthday shirt.  She turned down an offer to see my birthday suit.  Dang, I hate it when that happens.

Old retired guys have to put their pills in one of those containers with the days of the week on it.  Lord help me if I miss a day.  The good news is that I am not taking anything dangerous that could really cause a problem if I doubled up.  If it were not for the days of the week on the pill container, I might have trouble knowing what day it is.  When we sing on Sunday, it is like it is Tuesday when it is really Monday.  Oh well.

Better get ready to do some chores around here.



Where Do We Go From Here?

The age old question was "What do you want to be when you grow up?"   Now at 69, I ask myself where do I want to go from here?  That will entail a trip or two more to Oklahoma to settle some legal maters and then what?  I have the last home I will probably ever buy and nearly the last car.  There are one or two toys I want to buy but not many or much that I really need. Every once in a while I buy lottery tickets but really don't know why.  I guess it is because I can.

This morning "Love Story" was on TV and between cat naps I watched it.  It was sappy but sad.  It does make me wonder if it would be a hit today?   I think it would need some jazz to help it in today's action packed world.  Perhaps some nudity and sex could help it stay up there as an all time hit. 

We had a nice rain last night and some wind with it.  I don't know how much moisture it had with the storm but I am sure that Barb has been watering to keep all her garden plants growing so it was only a nice addition not an absolute requirement.  By this time in the year, most lawns have gone dormant but we still have green grass that is growing.  I will probably have to take a day or two next week to do at least one more mow.  There are about 9 acres to mow more or less.  I will have to take Dave's mower back over to him as it needed fixed again. 

I am working on a spread sheet for the music for the Barbershop Chorus.  I am trying to work out a schedule for the music that makes sense and is correct.  I have a small attention to detail problem and that is holding it back some but my low degree of care and concern is mostly why this two hour job has taken most of a week.

Oh well, I had better stop procrastinating and get on with the schedule.



Last Time at Mary Lou

My last visit to Mary Lou was with Battery B and I was the Fire Direction Officer.  We did a lot of H&I fires and a few missions in direct support of the DS Artillery units supporting the 4th Division.  For the FDC, it was a 24 hour a day job and it seemed like there was never enough food or rest.  I did begin to find ways to cut corners in the area of Meteorological reports that came in every 4 hours. 

After the second week, I began to compare the results by report and time of day.  I kept the hard copy of the earlier reports and compared the final results.  At first it was to make sure that we hadn't made any (many) errors and then to see if the results were different enough to spend a couple of hours doing the figuring and then changing the Met +VE settings.  Guess what? It was clear that the weather in the Central Highlands was not like Kansas or Oklahoma.  Day after day the wind and temperature stayed the same and it was only when it was raining that it was different.

Inside of the FDC, the guys had hours and hours of time and we had to work on ways to fight the boredom.  Someone found that the board game Jeopardy was one way and immediately the word went back to the States what versions we didn't have.  I am pretty sure that the families back home went through their closets and second hand stores for versions we didn't have.  By the time we finished playing the entire games with each version, they were pretty well worn out. 

The other game we played almost endlessly was Rook.  If you played enough cards, you could pretty much tell what had been played and how they cards were distributed.  I am pretty sure that later on, it made me a pretty fair bridge player.  I was never great but I had fun.

One of the nice things at Mary Lou was that there was a shower point there and hot chow.  You cannot imagine the rations of C-Rations on an endless basis.  As the FDO, I seldom got to get away for meals but someone almost always brought me a plate of something.  Even a cold plate of food was better than C-Rats on an endless basis.  You can imagine how your palate would just fade away if your breakfast was cold powdered eggs and toast that had just escaped being moldy.  Thankfully I don't even have a memory of what the lunch and dinners were.

One thing that I always feared was that the perimeter of LZ Mary Lou was set up to make sure there were no enemy allowed to sneak in.  The problem with that was the endless flow of kids that came and went like it was an open gate.  We were fortunate to never have been hit by a ground attack. But, it was always there in the back of my mind.  At least when we were out on a mountain top firebase there was almost always a perimeter guard there and they would be some help. 

I had been on R&R when the unit moved to Mary Lou.  I had no call to where to put the FDC.  It was way too close to the latrine and  I could see that if we were still there when the Monsoon season started, the hole would be a swimming pool.   We moved long before that would ever happen.  Did I mention the proximity to the latrine?   The biggest challenge each day was keeping the fly count down to a manageable level.  We killed thousands of flies each day and the body count had to be near 100,000. 

Speaking of Body counts and missions.  Each day we sent in a report of the number of rounds we fired and the results of any mission.  Most of the time there were no after action numbers on the Harassment and Interdiction fires as they just went out in to the jungle and no US troops were there.  One kind of funny mission was when we had a request to fire a round out in the vicinity of a Long Rang Reconnaissance patrol.  Seems like they were off the air and probably had the radio operator fell asleep.    We picked a grid location not too close to them and fired one round.  Pretty soon they were back on the air.  In our daily after action report I marked the one round as a Wake up Mission for a LRRP.  Man did the shit hit the fan over that comment.  I did my best to not lie but that one time it seemed appropriate to add that comment.  I had a visit from the Battalion Commander and the FA Bde Commander within the next week.  The both told me to make something up and not to use that in a report. (again)   Oh well, it was only one day and one report in what seemed like a couple of hundred there at Mary Lou.  I am pretty sure it wasn't that long it just seemed like it.

That's all from Mary Lou and I was glad to leave.



Hello Mary Lou 2

One of the assignments I had when I was in the 1st Bn, 92nd FA was when I got to go out as a Forward Observer with one of the Ground units of the 7/17th Air Cav.  It was a mechanized unit and we went all over the place at a very rapid pace.  Probably my biggest job was just to stay located on the map and who to use for artillery support.  I know that the unit commander was hesitant to really use the Field Artillery because he had Aviation gun ships and a lot of organic firepower. 

On one adventure, we were north of Pleiku and were sent to a river crossing site that was not supposed to be there.  When we got to the closest place, the commander requested a bridge and we used it to move along the side of the river to the point where we discovered  telephone poles set up to be a bridge somewhere out in the future.  The unit commander decided that the poles needed to be blown down and he had enough C-4 and Det cord to get the job done.  He offloaded a bunch of the explosives and a team and withdrew the rest of the unit.  It took us several hours to get out there and several hours to get back.  He didn't want to blow the bridge with his unit in what could be a very vulnerable place. 

We left one of the Mortar Recon Sergeants out there and I rode back with the main body of the unit.  When we got back to a good place, one of the guys said that he had just got a package from home and his family had sent him a lot of canned sea foods. I did mention that I was from Kansas and the limit of my sea food was canned tuna.  Well to make a short story longer, they also had a couple of cases of hot beer and we just chowed down.  I can't even begin to tell you just how bad drunk I  could get on smoky herring and hot Carling's Black Label in a red rusty can,  can I? 

The only good thing I can tell you is that we were headed for a stand down and maintenance day at LZ Mary Lou that evening.  It included a trip to a shower point and real hot food instead of the c-rations we had been on for the better part of a week.  I remember sitting down in a lawn chair beside the unit commander's track and then I remember waking up the next morning.  I had been fast asleep and must have needed the rest. 

That afternoon, several of the guys in the unit wanted to go down to the river and go swimming.  That river was probably way to muddy to get in but we went anyway.   am pretty sure that the sight of 25 naked guys must have been pretty funny.  We all had what was called a farmer's tan here in Kansas. The parts of our bodies not normally exposed to the sun were shinny white and our arms and faces were brown form a tan and dirt.  I am not sure what the rest of the guys did, but for me, there was a trip back past the shower point and a good nap.  I'll bet I slept 18 hours in one 24 hour period.  Then I went to bed. 

In the middle of the next day, a Special Forces Colonel showed up and he was mad as hell. Seems he and his guys had been working on establishing a foot bridge across the river and it had taken several weeks.  We blew it all up and he now had people across the river from his Camp that he could not support.  How were we to know.  I guess the ground combat channels were not the same as my Fire Support Channels.  Had we tried to blow up the bridge piling with artillery, they would have contacted the Special Forces and the District Chief.  oh  well what the hell, what the heck did I care.

 We stayed there for the next couple of days and when all the tracks were up to snuff, we headed out to places unknown.  The good news was that we made a trip past Pleiku and my replacement was there.   I had been out with several different kinds of units, but that was my first and last with a mechanized unit.   

My father in law was in a Mech unit in WWII and I was kind of startled when he said he didn't really know where he went, they just played ducks and the officers and their commander had all the maps.  He knew he went in to Anzio as a replacement and at least once went through the edge of Rome.  After trying to keep up with the maps, I knew what he had done. 

The next time I got to Mary Lou, it was with the firing battery and I was assigned as the Battery Fire Direction Officer.   More on Mary Lou three tomorrow.



Hello Mary Lou

Near Kontum in Vietnam, there was a base located on the south side of the city called Mary Lou.  No, I don't have a clue where the name came from, only that it was centered in my time in Vietnam on several ways. 

Near the start of my time in the 1st Bn, 92nd nd FA, I was assigned as the battalion Ammo officer.  It was early in the year after the TET offensive and one of the jobs we had was to restock the Ammunition Supply Point in Dak To.  For about 6 weeks, we made daily runs from Pleiku Through Kontum to Dak To.  I would take the ammunition trucks over to the ASP in Pleiku every night and the ASP and my men would load the trucks.  I felt it was my job to be there as much as I could.  We would load up the trucks and head back to Artillery Hill in the early hours and somewhere about 8AM we would drive over to the Convoy point to get ready for the trip up the highway to Dak To.

I would either be in the convoy in my jeep or a Bird Dog would land at Artillery Hill and pick me up.   During my time in that duty, we were a bunch of lucky pups.  The convoy got hit in the front when my trucks were on the back and in the back when my trucks were in the front.   During all that time, I had only one soldier even wounded while I am sure there were dead where the main ambush hit.  In fact, there is a report in the daily Sitreps about LTC Cade and the Battalion Commo officer got a medal for being there as I fired artillery at the ambush site and the retreating Viet Cong.  I didn't need any medals for doing my job so I really didn't even know about that until just this last year.

There were two places where the road was just ripe for an ambush.  One we called Ambush Alley and was the scene of many ambushes over the years.  The second point was north of Kontum where the road crossed a river.  It was there that this story is about.

I mentioned that I flew a lot of convoy cover and on one of the trips north,  our convoy was hit by small arms fire and the aforementioned soldier was hit.  When I Landed in Dak To, I went over to my trucks to see how it all turned out.  I seems that one of the 2 1/2 Ton trucks that had a few supplies in it was hit and for some reason it got sent to Kontum hooked to the back of a wrecker.  I knew that there was a few mail sacks in that truck and I really wanted to gather them back under our control.  I took my jeep and with the approval of the Commander in the Forward TOC headed back down the road towards Kontum.  Yes, it wasn't the safest thing to do but I figured that any potential ambushes would have been busted and the enemy scattered.

I found my truck on the back of the wrecker just as it was turning in the gate at Mary Lou.  I stopped the wrecker and asked him where he was going to take the truck.  He said he had no clue where it was to be taken.  I climbed up in the back of the truck and saw a lot of things covered with canvas.  I threw back the canvas and had to step back for the blood and gore in the bed of the truck.  There in the bed of the truck was the bodies of three soldiers that had been killed in the ambush.  The wrecker driver said their Tracked Ammo Carrier had been hit in the front by a recoilless rifle and these guys were killed by the concussion.  

About that time, I saw an MP jeep going by and I asked him if there was a Graves Registration point there on Mary Lou.  He took us over there and I went in to get some help.  They came out with some rolling gurneys and I asked the wrecker driver and his assistant to unload the bodies.  "No Way LT."  They weren't going to handle no dead bodies, they were truck drivers and that was final.  The SP4 from the Graves Registration Unit and I wound up unloading the bodies.  I never did find out who they were or what unit they belonged to.  The wrecker driver did haul my truck over to one of our firing batteries that was at Mary Lou.  It had a bullet hole in the radiator and it got fixed by a team sent up from my unit in Pleiku.

About an hour later, the convoy from Dak To arrived back on it's way to Pleiku.  I led the convoy the rest of the way in my jeep.  When I arrived back at Artillery Hill, I was called up to the FA Brigade Headquarters for a short After Action Review.  Mostly I sat in a room full of people that were as bored as I was.  Other than the two dead soldiers, the ambush was pretty minor.  In fact, I am not sure that anyone even called on me to tell what happened to my truck.  Somehow the mail bags had been transferred to one of my trucks and it turned up for distribution to our batteries scattered all over the hills and fire bases near Dak To.

My next visit to Mary Lou was much different and will be in tomorrow's Mary Lou II  post tomorrow.