Yesterday, while I was loading up on meds, the Ebony Pony was assaulted by a cart return station, or whatever it’s called, at the Super Target Store in Roswell, Georgia, leaving a scrape along her entire passenger side. It sounded like I ran over a plastic soda bottle, a very large plastic soda bottle.
To make her feel better, I took her up to Ball Ground and made a stop at the Feather’s Edge Winery and spoke with my friend and top dog, David Boone, Daniel’s younger brother, maybe not, he’s not that old. I wanted to check in to see how his business is progressing since he started with live entertainment on his outside patio area overlooking the fire pit and one of the vineyards; also, I needed to get another bottle of his outstanding Fat Boy Red.
I was pleased to hear everything is going well. In fact, tomorrow, Saturday, May 13th, from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. the beautiful Victoria Hall and David Ranes, will be performing a variety of classical, musical theatre, and Broadway favorites including Annie Get Your Gun, Into the Woods, Les Miserables, and Phantom of the Opera, to name a few.
Victoria Hill is an Opera Major at Reinhardt University and has yet to lose a competition in the world of opera. David Ranes, a very talented singer in his own right, has a gentle sound which reminds one of pop icon, David Bowie. When this duo joins together to perform these musicals, it sends chills down your spine.
To make the evening even better, they will be serving Smoked Wild Trout, caught in the clear, icy blue waters in the hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a simple salad, Artisan Bread, Pine Nut Couscous, Asparagus w/ Lemon Zest, Sauteed Portabella Mushrooms, and Peach & Blueberry Cobbler all topped off with a bottle of one of their excellent wines all for only $70.00 per person.
If you are looking for a special place to take your favorite momma for Mother’s Day, you might want to consider the Feather’s Edge Winery in Ball Ground Georgia. It would be time and money well spent.
Oh, as I was weaving my way down the mountain with the top down and my music blaring with me doing my best rendition of David Ranes, I decided to stop and talk to Travis Powell, a fantastic automobile detailer, and have him evaluate the damage done to the Ebony Pony. Travis assured me he could buff out the scratch so I decided to set up an appointment and have him give the little lady an entire makeover and remove all the little dings she had from her many trips to the tropics(Florida). After listening to Travis give her the good news, she purred all the way home. Later that evening, I enjoyed some Fat Boy Red, with my favorite momma, Jacqui.
REALLY???? This guy is a real bonehead. Most likely receiving government aid of some kind.
“…we cannot let free speech become a tactic that asks oppressed people to tolerate their oppressors in hopes of peaceful compromise. I guess I am just at the point where I’ve studied the genocide of my people and am tired of living it today. I do not understand how we can fill the streets demanding justice and then magically separate ourselves from the movement to protect conservative voices who want a soapbox and our death certificates. This has done nothing more than maintain the white supremacist, capitalistic and patriarchal nature that allowed colonizers to protect their power centuries ago and that has allowed their descendants to elect an openly racist, queerphobic, Islamophobic/xenophobic and anti-poverty adminstration.
I’m not here for free speech. I’m here for Black lives. I’m here for undocumented lives, queer and trans lives, femme lives, incarcerated lives and poor lives. I am here for the lives Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter want dead. I am here for the lives Donald Trump wants to ban. I am here for the lives BCR cannot fit in their “socially moderate, fiscally conservative”fantasy.”
At the University of California, Berkeley, we have this nose-ringed, dress wearing bearded Mexican boy who thinks he’s a girl, attempting to tell hard working tax paying Americans they don’t have a right to free speech, the free speech many of us have fought and died to protect so this pie hole can call us White Supremacists! Ya gotta love ‘em. Jerry Moonbeam Brown, keep ‘em in the land of nuts and ferries, please.
If you are into self-flagellation, you can go to www.dailycal.org and read more of what these pimply faced confused millennials think.
PARAMILITARY OP OFFICERS – THE GHOST WALKERS AMERICA’S INVISIBLE ARMY
“We had been operating a damned Murder Inc. in the Caribbean.” – LBJ 1963
…and it continued.
I was off DMZ barrier duty when I was hauled down to a small compound outside Camp Howze, the Second Infantry Division’s Headquarters. I wasn’t told why and I didn’t ask.
The man sitting across from me appeared to be in his mid-forties and in great condition. His boots were bloused and his heavily starched fatigues looked like they were tailor made. He was sporting a short flattop with white sidewalls where a little gray was beginning to show. Age lines were starting to develop around his eyes. His stare looked like it could pierce armor. He was sitting ramrod straight, as straight as he was when he was upright. There was no slouch in this man. There was also no rank insignia showing on his uniform.
He didn’t bother with introductions.
“When did you arrive in country?” He asked.
“August of ’69 during the big build-up.”
“What was it like when you arrived?”
“Just about everyone was being sent to Vietnam so most units were understaffed. We were down to 80 guys in our company.
When I arrived I was immediately sent on afternoon and nightly trips to the DMZ fence. I was sent on patrols to Guard Post (GP) Katie to introduce me to the “Z”. That winter was bitter, temperatures dropped to -38 degrees one night and the chill factor was -85 degrees. We measured exposure time in seconds, not minutes. Warm-up bunkers were few and far between and we only had enough firewood for three hours a night, if we were lucky; but we did have the Playboy Bunker where the inside walls were covered with Playboy Magazine centerfolds from past years. That was quite a bunker.
Because we were short-handed we worked 22 hours on with only two hours of sleep.When I thought it couldn’t get worse, I volunteered for the Imjin Scout program. Some crazy-ass dudes go through that training, I’ll tell you that much. When you finish that program, you know how to survive with nothing.”
“There’s worse, believe me,” the stranger said. “How long have you been on the “Z”?
“Tell me what’s it like, don’t parse your words by spitting out what your CO told you can and can’t say.”
“Well, it seemed like there were no days or nights, just one continuous march of time. The biggest inconvenience, I guess, was getting water while at GP Katie. We either brought it in by truck or we mostly brought it up the hill from the creek at the bottom of the hill. It was dangerous to do, and the North Korean (NK) snipers watched for us every time. Many times we went down at night if one of our patrols was not in the area. GP Katie had a radar and photo recon bunker, but we seldom saw the operators. They were like ghosts to us. We totally rebuilt the trench system and bunkers that summer. The older cloth sandbags had rotted and we replaced them with plastic.
We had ambush patrols in the DMZ every night. The patrols we went on usually lasted 24 to 36 hours, and the unidentified individuals, UI’s, were everywhere trying to penetrate the fence and ambush us. Everyone we saw was an UI. It made writing reports easier. If we’d identify them as NK’s, we’d spend the two hours they gave us to sleep writing reports to cover the CO’s butt. Sorry, but you told me to tell you like it is.”
“That’s okay, continue.”
“The NK’s sent down their Hunter-Killer 5 man units all the time. They would strike fast, one to two minutes, then take off across the Military Demarcation Line (MDL). More than once we could have struck back, but were not allowed to fire over the MDL, even if they were still shooting at us, which they did. It pissed us off that they restricted us like that.
The NK’s put American flags up at their positions across the MDL, trying to make us think they were American positions. They caught us once, NK 2 US 0…after that we were aware of that trick. We paid them back later.”
“What about fence duty on the “Z”?
“Fence duty was boring, man, and spooky all at the same time and in the winter it was, as I said, cold, I mean really cold. Damn, that wind was blowing in from Siberia and Manchuria. It froze the air before it hit your lungs, man. Anyway, if we had fence duty, we usually hit the positions by 4 PM and were picked up around 9 AM. We’d be responsible for 4 to 6 positions each night. We were never in one position very long. We kept moving constantly keeping everyone awake and alert. The cooks would send up hot coffee and hot potato soup on the really cold nights. Most of the time it was below zero. I remember many nights when it got below 10 degrees. By the time the coffee and soup reached us and we got back in our holes, the soup would be frozen solid.
So, if we heard something out in front of the fence, we’d throw the soup first, and then the hand grenade second! Surprised more than one UI with that trick. They would jump and run when the soup hit near them, then they got the real surprise. They usually didn’t make it home to tell their buddies the trick either. We called in the patrol we had out to sweep in and block their retreat if they were still alive. They weren’t; US 5 NK 0. It was payback for the Easter ambush where they took some of our guys out, but we aren’t allowed to talk about that either. Accidental discharge of a weapon or training accident was the cover words we used. Uncle Sam is watching us closer than them, I guess.
Trips North of the MDL were by volunteers only and usually lasted up to 7 days. I volunteered every chance I got. It sure beat the boredom of sitting at GP Katie waiting for an NK sniper to get lucky and blow your head off; or sitting in a bunker on the DMZ, freezing your ass off. We were told we couldn’t talk about going there either.
I pulled 45 days in a row on patrols in the DMZ with no days off.”
“Interesting time you spent up there, soldier. Maybe by now, you have guessed why I’m here. I am with a special group and I have to tell you, how you handled yourself on the “Z” is why we are talking now. We are putting together a team to counter all the BS we get from back home. This team will consist of U.S. Army Special Forces, Green Berets, Navy Seals, and Imjin Scouts. We will operate under the radar, so to speak.”
“What branch of the military would we be in?”
“Who said we would be part of the military? We will operate under what’s known as the Special Ops Group, SOG. Our function is to carry out tactical paramilitary operations for covert political action. We are like a strike force except you are never asked to hold back, on anything. Are you interested?”
“I don’t know, what does covert political action mean?”
“It means we do anything we deem is in the best interest of the United States government.”
“Isn’t that what we are doing in the US Army?”
“This is a bit more intense and highly secret.”
“Okay, then, count me in.”
“Good, we’ll muster at 0500 tomorrow morning in the meeting room behind my office. You’re dismissed.”
When I arrived the next morning most of the new recruits were already there, eager to get started. This was a different group of soldiers than what you would encounter in your usual basic training or advanced infantry training camps. These guys were tough, alert, dedicated, gung-ho soldiers who were eager to “get it on” with the enemy.
“Welcome, men, finish your coffee and put out your cigarettes,” the man with the heavily starched fatigues that I spoke with the day before said.
“We’ll get started. I am Colonel Sampson, I will be leading this group and I will be the only person you will be answering to and the only person you will fear. You are about to be involved in some clandestine missions that are highly sensitive and we will make sure you are ready, both physically and mentally.
The operations that you will carry out are known as high threat military ops which the U.S. government does not wish to be overtly associated; so, everything you do will be classified Top Secret.
As of today, you do not have a rank or a unit. When you leave this briefing, you will remove your dog tags and you will be issued new fatigues with no unit or name patches. There will be no record of you in the United States Military. As soon as you signed on to join SOG, your records were expunged. There is no longer any record of your military service.
You will now be known as Paramilitary Operations Officers, CIA Ops. If you are compromised during a mission, the United States government will deny all knowledge of you and your mission. You may never divulge sensitive information about any of the missions you will become involved in or any missions you have knowledge of. If you do, you will be tried for treason and you will spend the rest of your life at Fort Leavenworth Prison.
SOG is the most secretive special ops force in the United States. You will operate in small teams of six. You will be trained in clandestine skills to collect human intelligence and to recruit assets from among indigenous troops. You will operate in remote locations in North Korea, to carry out a direct action which will include raids and sabotage, and guerrilla and unconventional warfare. You will engage in counter-terrorism and hostage rescue missions when needed.
In addition to the training you already received, you will receive more extensive firearms training. You will be trained as a sniper. You will be trained in the use of explosive devices, hand to hand combat, not that namby-pamby shit you learned in basic training. We have the best Korean Tae Kwon Do professionals in the country. You will learn military free fall parachuting. SCUBA diving, extreme survival, evasion, resistance, and escape. If you are Airborne and/or Special Forces and think you are a hot shot parachute ranger, you are in for a surprise because we will make you better. If you are a Navy Seal and think you are one helluva SCUBA diver and water survivalist, you are in for a surprise because we will make you better. We are going to build on your skills. You WILL be the best of the best. Any questions? Okay, drop off your dog tags with officer Millen and he will issue you your new fatigues and gear and then destroy all your old uniforms.”
The next morning they provided us with a 128-page manual, similar to a military training manual, only this one was a guide on how to torture and assassinate your enemy.
The physical and mental training was brutal but the colonel was right, they made us better and when we finished we were proficient killers, just what they wanted us to be.
We learned how to survive in extreme conditions for days; what was safe to eat, to drink…military stuff, field strip our weapons with our eyes closed – ordinance stuff – sniper stuff
They worked us hard and then they worked us hard again until we developed arms like knotted ropes. We could run for days with a full pack in hundred degrees heat. We could kill with precision using our bare hands.
We were steely-eyed and as hard as kerosene. We were wired killing machines. Just like the North Korean Spooks.
We completed many missions into North Korea, infiltrating secret military installations, kidnapping and killing North Korean military officers after politely asking them confidential questions about the location of the many tunnels they dug beneath the DMZ and where they had their nuclear research and testing areas. When we permanently compromised a subject, we usually used cyanide because cyanide is 100% effective. It blocks messages from the brain to the muscles. It is done by changing the body chemistry in the central nervous system. Involuntary functions like breathing and heartbeat get mixed neural signals. The subject experiences a painful death muscle spasm in the limbs, with twisting facial muscles, drawing back into a deadly grin called cyanide rictus. Toward the end of my tour, they provided us with vials of Tetraethyl lead, a major ingredient in leaded gasoline, a drop of which on the skin would provide a quick death, a little more humane, I guess, leaving no local lesion and no specific evidence. We didn’t care about that. When we left, we buried what was left of their bodies.
As soon as we returned from one mission, they sent us out on another. After awhile I felt like I was hidden in somebody else’s body. I felt like my life was a practical joke the world was playing on me. Why was I here? Why was I born? To Kill and kill again? I felt like a mad dog chasing my tail.
Sometimes we felt like we were nothing more to the government than a package of condoms to be used whenever they wanted to fuck someone. The Company made the call and left the dirty work to us.
Were we a reflection of them? Did they see their past in us, their hopes, their failures, their sins, their future, or were we just something to be chewed up and spit out?
We didn’t know and we didn’t care. We had a job to do and we did it. Before we could give it much thought, we were back at it again.
This time we were working past the MDL north of the Second Infantry Division’s sector, trailing North Korean Infiltrators who crossed the Imjin River and were chased back by a Second Division Quick Reaction Strike Force.
Then we spotted them moving south again.
We tracked them to GP Katie where they were spotted in an area where two streams met. They crossed a dirt road and entered an old Korean War minefield. We expected them to hide in the mine field until nightfall before they tried to escape. We notified the Second Division that we were in their sector so they wouldn’t mistake us for the infiltrators and we’d end up being killed by friendly fire.
Not long after dark, a movement was detected in the stream bed. We popped a flare and the movement quickly stopped and then we noticed the tall grass that covered the minefield move.The Strike Force reported the possible location of the infiltrators and held in position until first light.The 2nd Division sent in an all Korean Counter Insurgency Force. They moved into position along the edge of the minefield, blocking access to the Imjin River. A squad from the 1/9 Second Division moved to the other side of the minefield in blocking positions. A fierce firefight broke out. Within 15 minutes the South Korean unit suffered multiple casualties, 5 dead and 7 wounded.
We spread out along the riverbank to prevent an escape by the infiltrators. Over the next several hours, numerous trips were made to evacuate wounded and dead South Koreans. During the entire period we were under intense enemy fire but lucky enough not to suffer any casualties.
We determined the South Koreans needed assistance so we moved into positions with them. From there, we were able to determine that several infiltrators had been wounded. At one point, one of them committed suicide by setting off one of his grenades. His right hand and most of his head ended up missing.
The North Koreans finally tired of hiding in the tall grass so they charged into the South Korean’s sector tossing grenades, using submachine guns, and finally engaging in a brief but savage hand-to-hand combat. The Communists fired 40 to 50 bullets into the bodies of the dead South Koreans and mutilated and bayoneted the corpses before we were able to end their killing frenzy.
The next day I returned to Camp Howze and turned in my paperwork and headed to Kimpo Air Force Base to catch a flight back to the states. I was leaving this life and none too soon.
I thought I would return a war hero but I wasn’t, I was a killer. Deep inside I knew the truth I was a fraud and I was forced to live with it. It made me bitter, sad and angry and a little bit mean.
Every day my mind brought me back to that time, my tour; it was pure snake venom spreading through my veins. It brought on panic attacks. I was messed up by the trench warfare that was going on inside my head.
I found out quickly that life was just a series of actions and reactions and you have to live with the things you do.
America’s Invisible Army, the Ghost Walkers, existed in Vietnam and Korea and they were under the control of the Central Intelligence Agency who has denied their existence causing many of the Ghost Walkers to be denied needed veterans benefits. That is, until they started to expose some of their missions at which time the CIA said they would release their paperwork; however, they said it would take time as millions of CIA records are stored in Vietnam, Korea and Thailand.
To date, many of these warriors are still waiting as some of their fellow warriors have died of service related illnesses.
“You should learn to know evil, not from your own soul, but from the long observation of the nature of evil in others.” – Plato
Basilio Ramos and a group of his followers from Tamaulipas, Coahuila, and Chihuahua Mexico, participating in the Bandit Wars, came upon him one night and stole everything of his they could find down to his boots and last pair of pants. They planned to kill him, but he was able to escape. He was determined to get revenge.
He knew the Texas Rangers were engaged in battles with these Mexican Seditionist raiders as Big Foot Wallace and Captain John Coffee Hays had requested his assistance in tracking them down. They started a race war, to rid the American border states of their Anglo-American population, and to annex the border states to Mexico. Now he planned to help the Rangers in their fight to rid Texas of these vermin.
His skin was hardened and browned like leather from days exposed to the brutal Chihuahua desert sun.. He skinned the carcass of a dead mustang he found along the No-Doyohn Canyon in Mexico. He wore a loincloth he made from the dead horse and cut a flat piece of the rawhide to cover the soles of his feet, protecting them from sharp stones and cactus. He cut a narrow band and wrapped it around his head, keeping his long blond hair from falling into his face. He spent nights fastening the flint arrowheads he made and split turkey feathers onto dogwood shafts with sinew he stripped from the backstrap of the dead mustang.
He reached in his rawhide bag and pulled out what remained of the corn and dried meat he had been carrying the past few days. He drank some water from a bottle made from the large intestine of the horse. The only weapon he had was a knife that he had secured in his loincloth along with a looking glass he found on the trail.
He had been walking for days. He knew the land and was able to live off what it provided for him. He thought of the warmth of his adopted father Gray Wolf’s, lodge, its entrance facing east, capturing the warmth of the morning sun, embracing the very bosom of Mother Earth. He knew that the round shelter synchronized with the roundness of all that is natural from the circling of the season to the roundness of the sun. He was taught that a person who will listen to the soil of the earth will know the earth, which in turn, will nourish him in life and cradle him in death. He stopped to rest in mid-afternoon when the day was at its hottest; before the sun moved one fist across the sky he rose and started once again on his journey.
Nothing bothered him. When he was in dangerous situations he had nerves of steel which were manifested in the many battles he had participated in while scouting for General Crook and the U.S. Army.
White clouds streaked against the blue sky. From this elevation, he could see the whole valley sweeping below and to the ridgeline beyond.
He noted a volume of dust moving at a slow rate in the distance; it wasn’t much and he figured it must be a wagon drawn by two mules. Definitely not ox-drawn. Oxen do not lift their feet as high as horses and mules and they create more dust.
He removed his glass and put it to his eye. He could see two men sitting on the box of the wagon. By the time the shot reached his ears, the driver had crumpled and fallen forward. His companion reached out to catch him when an arrow struck him in the shoulder and he was knocked to the ground and slipped softly beneath the left rear wheel of the wagon. The mules came to a stop.
Soon the wagon was surrounded by twenty warriors, Chiricahua Apaches, faces painted, led by none other than the old Bedonkohe Apache leader, Goyahkla, which means “The One Who Yawns,” better known as Geronimo.
The Apaches circled the motionless wagon, whooping and firing arrows into the sides of the wagon and the slumped over body of the driver.
Two warriors dismounted and started to unhitch the mules when one of the mules bolted. One warrior rode after it. They shot the remaining mule and began to skin it.
The rest of the warriors surrounded the injured man who was beneath the wheel of the wagon. They dragged him out and two warriors held the wounded man to the ground and another cut the soles of his feet off and made him walk around the wagon for sport before one of the warriors grabbed the front of his scalp and cut it off and shot him. The warrior held the scalp up in the air and started whooping and dancing around celebrating his coup while the remaining members of the war party began to rummage through the goods in the back of the wagon before setting it on fire.
He cut off a piece of the dry meat and slowly chewed it while he watched the carnage unfold below him.
When it was over he stood up and said aloud, “I guess I’ll see if I can catch that mule.”
Then he stopped and crouched close to the ground. The warrior that pursued the mule returned, leading it by a piece of the broken harness.
He scurried down the side of the arroyo, concealed by the Pinyan and the Sage and up the other side before hiding behind a stump. He was about ten yards from the Apache. He grabbed one of the arrows he made and put it in his bow and jumped from the stump yelling, “Golizhi” skunk.
The Apache turned and saw him but sat on his horse in shock, not expecting this long haired white man to know a word of his language.
The man pulled back the sinew stringed bow and let the arrow fly. The voice of the dogwood arrow spoke as it went straight and true, striking the Apache in his heart.
His horse reared up, throwing him to the ground where he died.
His horse ran off, but the mule barely moved.
The man slowly approached the nervous mule, holding out his hand and softly stroking the animal’s side. Then he grabbed the end of the broken harness and led the mule away from the burning wagon and what remained of his companion’s carcass.
The man fashioned a war bridle and reins from the tail and mane of the dead mule and looped it around the lower jaw of the mule.
He removed the pants from the body of the man who was scalped and tortured as he was closest to him in size. The Apaches had taken his boots.
The man found a blanket that escaped the flames of the fire and put it on the back of the mule and then sprang from his feet onto the back of the animal and rode off in the direction of El Paso, Texas where Big Foot Wallace and Captain John Coffee Hays and a company of Texas Rangers awaited his arrival.
After a short time, combat duty became a routine part of life along the DMZ for Americans in the base camps scattered north of the Imjin River fighting the unfinished and undeclared war that gripped Korea between 1966 and 1969.
“Hey, Major, we got a GI out here that’s in a bad way.”
Major Samantha “Nevada” Smith, MD, looked up from the report she was finishing and stared at the soldier standing in front of her. It was obvious he had just come in from a DMZ sweep. He was dressed in full combat gear and was filled with dust, sweat, mud, and smelled terrible.
“Bring him in and put him on the table in the examining room.”
“This soldier has no ID tags or any insignia on his uniform. Is he with your unit?”
“Who is he?”
“I don’t know, Major. We found him wandering along the Imjin just south of Freedom Bridge. He wouldn’t talk to us. He just asked for a medic. We think he might be a member of the invisible army.”
“Invisible army? What’s that?”
“I’m not sure. I heard they are stationed in ASCOM City. They train as snipers and everything they do is secretive, on a need to know basis.”
“I see. Well, he’s lost a lot of blood. Get him in here and we’ll take a look at him.”
It was 1:30 a.m. and the switchboard lit up. It had been a quiet evening. We had one report of an unidentified individual, UI, in the DMZ, by a patrol from the 1st of the 9th, which means they thought they saw something, but couldn’t identify it. They fired off a couple of rounds, requiring us to send in a report to the division headquarters and meaning I would have to go with the tracker team at first light into the DMZ to confirm the activity that required UN personnel to fire off the rounds. That happened just after dark, around 9:00 p.m. Not a sound since then out of any of the patrols out on the Military Demarcation Line, MDL or battalions manning the barrier along the DMZ, until now.
The call was coming in from Camp Young. Camp Young was in the western sector of the DMZ near Freedom Bridge and I wondered who would be calling from there at this time of night. I anticipated the brigade commander was shit-faced again and wanted to speak with his pal, General Malik, the division commander. After a night of heavy drinking, they enjoyed singing filthy songs to each other. It was enlightening listening to their conversations.
“Third brigade TOC,” I said. TOC was the acronym for Tactical Operation Center.
“Put me through to your OIC, please. This is Major Smith.”
“Yes ma’am,” I replied.
I knew who Major Smith was. She was the new doctor heading up the hospital at Camp Young and the only “round eye” female north of the Imjin River. She was a bigger draw than the movie theater at the Recreation Center. Since her arrival, they had to start limiting the GI’s sick calls.
I turned around and looked at Captain Smedley, our Officer In Charge, OIC, as he slept at his desk behind me.
“Sir, wake up. I’m putting a call through from Major Nevada Smith.”
“What? Really? I wonder what she wants. Okay, put her through.”
Before our former OIC, Lieutenant Halloran left for the states, he paid Major Smith’s house boy twenty dollars to obtain one of her brassieres so he could find out her breast size. Halloran then started a clandestine lottery, where anyone interested, could put in $5.00 and the person guessing the Major’s correct bust size would win the pot, less the Lieutenant’s administration fees, of course.
All the winning guesses were put in a steel pot and the winner was drawn from that.
Ironically, Captain Smedley was the winner. He had just arrived from the states after a tour in Vietnam where he was awarded a purple heart. He hadn’t even seen the Major, so it goes to show you that luck plays a major hand in these lotteries. Captain Smedley was kind enough to provide me with beer out of his winnings to relieve the boredom while pulling night duty.
“Major Smith, this is Captain Smedley, how may I help you?”
“Captain, two soldiers from the 1st of the 23rd just delivered a UI to our operating room. They said they pulled him out of the Imjin. He wasn’t wearing ID tags and his uniform didn’t have a unit patch.”
“Do you think he is a North Korean infiltrator?”
“No, he’s caucasian.”
“That’s correct, Captain. I need to contact his company commander, but I need to find out what unit he is with.”
“Okay, let me make a call and I’ll get back to you.”
“Thank you, Captain.”
“What’s that about, Captain?” I asked him.
“I’m not sure, but I think I have a pretty good idea. Put me through to division headquarters.”
I put Captain Smedley through to the Division G2, intelligence officer, a Lieutenant General Pearson.
“Sir, Major Smith, from Brigade OR called and has a UI on her table. I have a feeling it’s a Ghost Walker.”
When Captain Smedley hung up he walked over to the cooler and pulled out a couple of Falstaff beers.
“Here, have another one. I think we are going to need it.”
“What’s a Ghost Walker,” I asked.
He stared at me for a moment, took a pull on his beer and belched.
“They are some really weird dudes. We had them in Vietnam. They are trained by the CIA and were first organized here in Korea back in the early ’60’s. I heard that they were involved in infiltrating a North Korean nuclear plant and kidnapping a North Korean General. That was back in ’62, I think. They tortured him and then killed him. It’s rumored they were doing similar stuff in Nam.”
“What do you think he was doing down by Freedom Bridge?”
“I don’t know, but this will give us more gas than all of the beer we drank tonight. Which reminds me, you better get rid of the empties. I have to call Colonel Billups and let him know about this. I think these guys cross the MDL up in the ROK, Republic of Korea, sector so the United Nations Command doesn’t get wind of it. The Colonel is going to be pissed.
You think we are just keeping the North Koreans out of South Korea? It goes both ways. There is no love lost on either side. When there is some retaliation that needs to be done and the Second Division is not allowed to do it, you can bet your sweet ass the CIA will be involved.”
“So, what brings ya’ to Raton Pass, Ranger?”
“I’m lookin’ for a man named Stoudenmire, Dallas Stoudenmire. I heard he was hangin’ out in these parts. You know ‘im?”
“Oh yeah, he’s been around all right. Been causin’ trouble and folks tend to stay away from him and his boys. His boys are some purty mean fellas, cowboys with a reputation, one-armed Frankie Carson, cross-eyed Jack and another goes by the name the Mad Redhead. I learnt might quick to stay outta their way. I cross the street now when I see ‘im comin’. Why are you lookin’ for ‘im?”
“He’s wanted by the Texas Ranger’s for killin’ a man down El Paso way. I’m gonna’ bring him there or bury him here.
The Ranger threw back the rest of his whiskey.
“Thanks for the drink. I’m goin’ to turn loose my horse now.”
He walked out of the saloon and untied his horse and led him to the livery stable to put him up for the night.
His saddle pulled like lead as he removed it from his horse, putting it up along side the stall. He pulled off his saddle bag and extracted his rifle, an 1895 Winchester lever-action from its sheath. It carried five rounds in the box and one in the chamber. He gave the blacksmith fifty cents and walked out into the late afternoon sun toward the Raton Pass Hotel carrying his saddle bags and rifle over his shoulder. Before he got there, he was intercepted by Mac McConnell.
“Ranger, that Stoudenmire feller just ankled over to the saloon about an hour ago and he weren’t alone.”
He turned and glanced at The Red Light Dance Hall. “How many were with him?”
“There’s two others, Ben Holt and one-armed Frankie Carson.”
He nodded toward a small man standing outside the door leading to the dance hall. “Who’s that?”
“Oh, him?” He’s a shriveled-up lawyer, a wet-pants half-wit that loiters at the Red Light Dance Hall to warn Stoudenmire if someone suspicious comes along.”
The Ranger squinted into the glare of the sun, deepening the wrinkles along the sides of his eyes
“You gonna go after ‘em by yourself, Ranger?”
“I am, that’s what I’m here for, unless you plan on coming with me.”
“No sir, not me. You Rangers must all be plum crazy.”
“I reckon we are. Now you best stay outta the way so you don’t catch a stray.”
“You be careful now, Ranger, ‘cause there’s three others that ride with that snake, a cowboy knowd as cross-eyed Jack and Tommy O’Malley, the Mad Redhead and Fritz ‘Pecos” McCloud. They are a mean lot and aren’t afraid to mix it up none and they are usually watching Stoudenmire’s back. You better watch yours, Ranger.”
The Ranger nodded and walked toward the dance hall. He moved with a deliberate assurance, with an easy natural grace that spoke of authority.
He saw cross-eyed Jack, the Mad Redhead and Pecos McCloud, approaching the dance hall and ordered them to drop their weapons. At the same time, Stoudenmire and his other two companions, Ben Holt and one-armed Frankie Wilson stepped out of the Red Light Dance Hall. Holt and Wilson were holding .45’s in their hands.
He gravitated to the center of the street where cross-eyed Jack, Pecos McCloud and the Mad Redhead had stopped walking. He kept a watch on them out of the corner of his eye.
The Ranger turned and demanded that Studenmire drop his gun.
“You ain’t taking me in, Ranger,” Stoudenmire replied as he drew his Colt Peacemaker from its holster,
The Ranger slapped leather and in an instant his revolver was in his right hand. He cocked it and fired point-blank at Studenmire. The force of the bullet spun him around. He thumbed back his hammer and fired again. The second round also tore into Studenmire’s torso, hurling the big man against Frankie Wilson.
“Oh, my God!” Stoudenmire gasped as he dropped to his knees, grasping his chest. One slug struck his heart and he fell forward on the spit and beer-stained floor. His lips quivered and his eyes turned all white and then he died.
One-armed Frankie Wilson also sagged to the floor, struck in the belly by the bullet as it passed through Studenmire.
The Ranger turned and watched as Ben Holt disappeared behind the saloon door. He holstered his revolver, turned and walked away.
You won’t find a memorial for these veterans with the names of those who sacrificed their lives inscribed to honor their service. The battles fought along the Korean DMZ during the second Korean War (1966-1969) are unknown or forgotten except for the families of those killed. It was the United States’ other “DMZ” where soldiers from the Second and Seventh Infantry Divisions were engaged in combat on a smaller scale, but no less deadly, than the operations faced during the same period by fellow soldiers in Vietnam.
It was cold for an August day and it was raining. It was the seventh straight day of rain. For the entire week I was at Fort Lewis policing the grounds, picking up cigarette butts, waiting for my orders, I never saw the sunshine.
The dark green army buses stopped in front of the processing center and the First Sergeant called out for all the personnel going to Korea to form a line in front of the first bus. Those going to Vietnam line up in front of the second bus.
I noticed the GI in front of me frantically erasing the penciled in RVN letters on the tab of his file folder holding his orders and replacing them with the letters ROK.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Quiet. I’m changing my destination from Da Nang Vietnam to Kimpo Korea.”
“Will that work? What happens if you get caught?”
“What can they do to me, send me to Vietnam? I heard other guys did it. When they got to Korea they were slapped with an Article 14 and assigned to a unit over there. We’ll see.”
A mist continued to fall as I boarded the dark green bus with about fifty other GIs. The bus took us from Fort Lewis to the Seatle/Tacoma Airport where we boarded a chartered Northwest Airlines flight that took us to Tokyo Japan. It was an eighteen-hour flight. The next day, we flew to Kimpo Air Force Base in South Korea.
When we landed at Kimpo Air Force Base, my friend with the altered orders was greeted by a couple of Military Police, MP’s, and was escorted away. I hoped he would enjoy his stay in Korea.
The Trip to the DMZ
I heard a voice call out my name.
“That’s me,” I replied.
“Well, welcome to Korea. I’m Sergeant Robinson, William Robinson. Just call me Robby, or if some brass are in the area, Sergeant Robby. Grab your duffle and follow me. The jeep is parked out front. You can throw your gear in the back.”
Sergeant Robby got behind the wheel of the jeep and I sat in the front seat next to him and looked over my orders. They didn’t make sense to me. I was attached to an artillery unit but assigned to the Second Infantry Division, the 3rd Brigade, Headquarters and Headquarters Company that was manning the eighteen and a half mile sector along the 38th parallel, known as the Demilitarized Zone, or the DMZ affectionately called the “Z” by those fighting there.
“I don’t understand this, Robby, my military occupational status, MOS, is 11H, infantry, recoilless rifle, but I’m assigned to an artillery unit and attached to a Headquarters Company. What exactly will I be doing?”
“You are a DMZ Rat now. We are the only ones who stay on the DMZ for our entire tour. We never rotate south of the DMZ like the rest of the units. You will be working with me and five other enlisted men and an Officer In Charge, OIC, a first lieutenant by the name of Halloran. He’s just one of the guys and sometimes forgets he has a bar. We answer to a Major Thompson who is the Brigade S2 Officer. S2 is intelligence, in case you didn’t know.Major Thompson answers directly to the Brigade Commander, Colonel Billups, who answers to General Malik. That’s all you will have to know as far as the chain of command. The Headquarters Company commander and first sergeant hate us because they have no authority over us even though we live on their property. We don’t have to pull any extra duty, except patrol on the Z with the tracker team to verify a Killed in Action, KIA, either ours or theirs. You will be working in the Tactical Operation Center, or TOC, charting all activity on the Zand we pass it on to the United Nation Command, which in reality, is the U.S. Eighth Army. The TOC is located in an underground bunker a couple of kilometers from the Military Demarcation Line, the MDL. You are going to love it. We have our own little Quonset Hut, with two men to a room. You can have your own liquor in your room as long as you don’t get carried away. And nobody fucks with us because they don’t know what we do and we don’t tell them. We monitor everything, on the DMZ. We count every North Korean who enters Propaganda Village in the morning and count every North Korean that leaves at night. We also record every shot that’s fired, every deer that is killed, every North Korean, NK, or UFO, unidentified foreign object, that is spotted or killed in the MDL, or DMZ or found floating down the Imjin River. In other words, we know everything that goes on in our sector.”
“It’s a North Korean farming community south of Panmunjom located on the DMZ. They have to leave every day before dark. Rules of the armistice.”
“Sounds like this will be fun.”
“It beats being in the army. You want a beer?” Robby said, with a grin as he fired up the jeep and headed north, handing me a cold Olympia beer out of a small cooler behind his seat.
The road was nothing more than a tiny sliver of asphalt that wound its way through the countryside of South Korea. I observed women along side the road with babies on their backs, hammering large rocks into gravel, working as part of a road paving projectIt was August and the air was heavy with the fetid and stifling smell of human waste used as fertilizer in the farmer’s fields. It was punctuated by the occasional blast of diesel fuel from the many Army deuce and a half’s filled with soldiers returning from their rotation on the DMZ as they passed dangerously close to our jeep, kicking dust up over the windshield and into my beer.
“Damn, I should have warned you to cover it up, the beer I mean. Do you want another one?” Robby asked.
“Nah, that’s alright. I’ll finish this one.”
“Suit yourself,” Robby replied as he popped a top off another Olympia.
The buildings in the villages were built right up to the side of the road and pedestrians had to jump out of the way as Sgt. Robby went blasting through.
“This village coming up is Uijonbul. See that place on your right? That’s the Turkey Farm. Trust me, you don’t want to go there, especially if you want to keep your dick.”
Gaudily painted Korean women hung out the windows almost touching my shoulder while they shouted out what they were willing to do for a couple of dollars and finally obscenities when they realized they weren’t getting any business as Robby drove by.
“Why’s it called the Turkey Farm?” I asked.
“It’s an infamous whorehouse that has been here since the first Korean War in 1950. I heard some of the same girls still work there if you want to call them girls. The Turkish soldiers taught them some really kinky sex that some of the GI’s seem to like. But they are diseased and if you mess with them your dick will turn black and fall off. If you want or need a girl, get a Yobo, a girlfriend. For twenty bucks a month, you have your own girl. For us, it’s not worth it as we can’t get in the Vill that often and the Major isn’t too keen on us messing with the girls in Chang-Pa-Ri. It’s too close to North Korea and I guess he’s worried the Vill’s been infiltrated. He’s afraid they might nail our balls to the wall to get information out of us.”
Soon the asphalt ended and sergeant Robinson pulled over to the side of the road next to a sign that said, “You are entering a hostile fire zone. All personnel will wear helmets and flak jackets beyond this point.”
“Okay, from this point forward you will be wearing your flak jacket and helmet. Think you can hold your rifle in one hand while you drink that beer? It’s kinda like holding your girl and drinking beer back home.”
“I think I can do that.”
“Good. Hang it out, if you gotta take a piss. We’ll be in Chang-Pa-Ri in about twenty minutes.”
We were traveling on a knurly and cratered dirt road surrounded by rice paddies being worked by Koreans wearing satgats, conical straw hats, with their cotton pants rolled up over their knees as they stood in knee deep brackish-looking water.
“Whew, it stinks around here,” I said.
“You get used to it, don’t worry. When winter comes you can’t smell a thing. Probably because your nose is frozen shut. You can get frostbite and malaria all within a brief span of time here. Winds and snow scream through those mountains along the DMZ. It comes from Siberia and Manchuria and it is damn cold. It got down to forty below last winter. I was told the wind chill has been recorded as low as a negative 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Aren’t you glad you won’t be manning the barrier?”
“Damn straight I am, Robby. I’m from Wisconsin but I don’t like the cold.”
“Then you will be in for quite a surprise. I’m from southern California and I hated every day this past winter.”
As we moved onward we lost the use of the footbrake in our jeep from fording the creeks we crossed on the way to Chang-Pa-Ri, the last village along the Imjin River and the restricted Demilitarized Zone.
“There is a bar in Chang-Pa-Ri called the First Chance Bar,” Robby said. “It is the first building on the left side of the road into Chang-Pa-Ri from the DMZ. The sign reads “First Chance Bar” on the way into the village and “Last Chance Bar” on the way out of town. It is a convenient place to have your last drink while you wait for transportation back to your unit north of the Imjin River if you ever end up going into the Vill.
By the time we reached Libby Bridge and crossed the Imjin River, the sun was making its descent behind the mountains lining the Z.
“Runt Wolfe is the strangest man ever to play baseball,” Casey Stengel, himself a pretty strange man, once said.
This week pitchers and catchers reported to spring training and that means that Runt Wolfe, born on March 2, 1902, if he were alive, would be reporting. He started his career in 1923 as one of Dem Bums, the old Brooklyn Dodgers, after graduating from Princeton University. Then he was traded to the Chicago White Sox where he changed positions from playing first base and shortstop to catcher before being traded once again to the Cleveland Indians and eventually the Washington Senators. The move to Washington would change his life. He became a spy.
The first organized baseball team he played for was at Roseville Methodist Episcopal Church in Newark New Jersey. Since he was Jewish, he invented a new name for himself, Runt Wolfe. He dropped the name Runt Wolfe before he joined the big leagues. His real name was Morris “Moe” Berg.
His father worked hard for thirty years so that his children would have a college education. His brother Samuel became a medical doctor, his sister Ethel a schoolteacher, and Moe became a lawyer.
A true Renaissance man, he studied classical and Romance languages: Greek, Latin, French, Spanish, and Italian. He also studied German and even Sanskrit.
Berg’s entrance into the field of intelligence began when he, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and other baseball greats formed an all-star team and traveled to Japan in the mid-1930s for exhibition games.
Proficient in Japanese, Berg talked his way into one of the tallest buildings in Tokyo. He climbed to the rooftop alone and used a movie camera to film the capital city’s shipyards. Reportedly, the US used Berg’s footage to plan bombing raids over Tokyo in World War II.
Before his death in 1972, Berg said, “Maybe I’m not in the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame like so many of my baseball buddies, but I’m happy I had the chance to play pro ball and am especially proud of my contributions to my country. Perhaps I could not hit like Babe Ruth, but I spoke more languages than he did.”
Big Lick, or Soring what is it?
A recent www.change.org request, to stop the use of stacks, on Tennessee Walking Horses made me think that many people haven’t a clue what stacks are and why they are used and maybe a little explanation is in order.
Tennessee Walking Horses have what is known as an exaggerated gait which became popular in the late 1940’s and 1950s. Trainers were able to have the horse achieve this exaggerated gait by being lite shod, but it still required extensive training.
However, as this natural gait caught judges’ fancy, along comes the “Big Lick” where trainers started using other practices to enhance movements such as weighted shoes, stacked pads, and weighted chains. It wasn’t long before the methods used became more aggressive—heavier weights and chains placed against the sole of the hoof to induce pain, and the application of caustic substances on the pastern or coronary band to induce pain when those areas were rubbed by the chain.
The practice of blocking is when they grind down the sole of the horse to expose sensitive tissues in the hoof and make the hoof shorter than the sole. Then they insert hard objects between the horseshoe and the pad, standing the horse on raised blocks then they tighten a metal band around the block.
In addition to the use of chains and blocks chemicals such as kerosene, diesel oil, mustard and other caustic substances are applied to the pastern and coronary band region of the horses front legs. As the device rubs against the skin, the chemicals exacerbate the pain.
These practices are called “soring” and the final result is a horse that snatches its forelimbs off the ground.
One way to tell if a horse has been sored, is the exaggerated head movement in a sored horse as opposed to a horse that has not been sored. It is clear when they are put side by side.
Tennessean newspaper Sportswriter Mr. David Climer, is quoted in the change.org request as saying, “Big Lick” Animal Cruelty to Tennessee Walking Horses is akin to “Dog Fighting” and “Cock Fighting”. For years, many of those involved in the Tennessee walking horse industry have yearned for its competitions to be taken seriously as a legitimate sport. Bloodsport, yes. Legitimate sport, no. Sorry, but I’m calling horse excrement. Soring is still in common practice, and everybody knows it.”
Please take a moment and sign this petition.
Zippy Chippy, a bay gelding, boasts a pedigree that includes Northern Dancer, Buckpasser, Bold Ruler, Man o’ War, War Admiral and Round Table—some of the fastest horses of all time but none of all that special blood coursing through his veins could help him win a race. In one hundred starts, he won zero. That’s right, he never won a race. But, there is a moral to Zippy’s story as there usually is when it comes to horses.
Wait, he did beat a minor league baseball player in a forty yard dash in 2001 and he also beat a harness racer named Paddy’s Laddy. He beat out Paddy Laddy and his rig to win by a neck after he spotted the trotter a twenty-length lead.
After his win, Zippy’s owner said, “It feels good to win but it doesn’t count until we do it against thoroughbreds.
He’s mean, he kicks, he bites, but he has a home forever with me and my daughter.”
The last time Zippy Chippy raced against other thoroughbred horses it ended up as his 100th loss. It occurred on September 10, 2004, in the Northampton Fair at the Three County Fairgrounds. He went off at odds of 7-2, making him the second betting choice.
A host of fans were there that day to cheer him at the start and to take his picture, prompting his jockey to say, “It would be nice if people took photos at the end of the race too.” However, Zippy Chippy finished last.
Eventually, in 1995, his owners gave up on him and Felix Monserrate, who had boarded Zippy Chippy, purchased him in a trade for a 1988 Ford truck.
Zippy was finally banned from competing at many tracks. Why was he banned? Not because he was a perennial loser, but because sometimes he would refuse to leave the gate, or he would bite the other horses, or he would just pull up in mid-race.
But Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Home where he currently resides tells us that winners don’t always finish first. He has more visitors than any other horse at the retirement home.
Watching Zippy lose all his races became a very popular pastime. In fact, his profile got more reads on the Blood-Horse website than stories about Kentucky Derby winners did. He also made more money off the track than he ever did on it through merchandise sales and other endorsements.
And how many horses are voted one of the year’s “Most Intriguing Characters” by People Magazine? Only Zippy Chippy and he received that honor in the year 2000.
There is even a book written about him, which I have to admit, I haven’t read. It’s available on amazon.com. It’s called The Legend Of Zippy Chippy.
Zippy Chippy is the spokeshorse for racing horses. He went on tour in Kentucky in the summer of 2012 to bring attention to the safe retirement of racehorses.
Two hundred and fifty years before Zippy there was Stewball, or Squball, or Sku-ball. It is believed his name is bastardized from Skewbald, which is a horse with patches of white on a coat of any color, except black. A Piebald is a horse with patches of white on a coat of black.
The difference between Stewball and Zippy is that Stewball was a very successful racehorse on the track in England and Ireland as well as off the track.
His name instilled the words to an old song, a song sang by many people over the years but made popular in the 1960’s by the folk group, Peter, Paul, and Mary.
For your singing pleasure, here are the words.
Oh, Stewball was a racehorse, and I wish he were mine.
He never drank water, he always drank wine.
His bridle was silver, his mane it was gold.
And the worth of his saddle has never been told.
Oh the fairgrounds were crowded, and Stewball was there
But the betting was heavy on the bay and the mare.
And a-way up yonder, ahead of them all,
Came a-prancin’ and a-dancin’ my noble Stewball.
I bet on the gray mare, I bet on the bay
If I’d have bet on ol’ Stewball, I’d be a free man today.
Oh, the hoot owl, she hollers, and the turtle dove moans.
I’m a poor boy in trouble, I’m a long way from home.
Oh, Stewball was a racehorse, and I wish he were mine.
He never drank water, he always drank wine.