I’m Greg McIntyre and this is the elder law report. Our topic today is things we forgot. What’s ironic about today’s show is we forgot all our show notes so what we’ll do first is go to Hayden for an interesting story.
HS: My granddaughter is going to her first prom and I was up until midnight last night sewing on little pink, silver and turquoise beads.
She was very smart, she did a lot of study and found one of the gowns from a friend of hers who is older, and she found another one online, a gorgeous dress for a great price, and it made me wonder what the average prom dress costs? Well, I could not find the exact figure, but I found the average cost of the prom is from $175 to $2100, the average being $1139 which includes a limo and dinner out. It was simpler at my prom. My two best friends and I went to the prom in a bread truck, so we could stand up and not wrinkle our dresses. The after parties were at people’s houses with parents supervising and I know it sounds nerdy but at one of the parties we played board games, and we had a ball. I do Christmas at my house, and I build it up and up and suddenly in an hour and thirty minutes the meal is gone, the presents are open and everyone has left, and I think the prom happens the same way, build up, build up, build up and boom it’s gone. They have such great expectations.
GM: It does go quickly, you have to live in the moment. So, moving on, the things we forgot, I have forgotten a ton of things in my life, usually when I’m giving a big speech or another big event like that when I’ve forgotten something I really needed. The whole point of the forgetting is, I have met with families or couples who want to protect their house or farmland that has been in the family for two hundred years but the dad is now incompetent, or he had an accident and can’t sign and they haven’t done a general durable power of attorney to allow the kids to protect it.
I know of one instance where a husband wanted to sign a protective deed while his wife was deemed incompetent, and I’m stuck, I can’t do anything, I can’t help.
HS: We’re talking about a whole new area of forgot when we’re talking of things like this. These are life changing, life affecting, not just the little things.
GM: That house, that money, those things that could be protected and passed to the grandkids, I forgot to do it, and I know you hate this but I’m going to say it anyway, it’s basically saying, I forgot to send my grandkids to college. It can change the whole trajectory of a family if you protect those assets and use them wisely. My plea is, call me and I will figure out how you can hold on to your assets so you can pass them on.
HS: We get so many calls from people who say, I’ve been meaning to call you and do this but they leave it a bit longer and sometimes it can get too late.
GM: You don’t want to get into guardianship situations where you have no choice.
HS: You are at the mercy of the court in a guardianship situation.
GM: That’s right, anytime you want to spend some money for a family member you have to ask the court if you can do it. There are much easier ways to operate those things and it is less of a headache for the court system. How many tax payer dollars are jammed up in the court system all the time? Then there is your time and your families time. These things can be avoided by simply putting certain documents in place.
If you have questions about that, call us, let us take care of the things you have so you don’t forget, then you can forget about it. It’s a good feeling when you’ve taken care of things, then you have peace of mind.
HS: In the office right now we are having our awards because we actually have clients who come in and just want to shake our hands.
GM: Yes, we have awards day scheduled for our office. We have the ‘best unsolicited handshake’ award, and the ‘the above and beyond’ award which is where you go out of your way to go to a client’s house to get a signature or whatever so we can please our clients and create raving fans.
HS: Things like that are not unusual.
GM: I listened to a speech by a guy named Andy Frisella who is huge on customer satisfaction and performance and going above and beyond. That’s where I got the idea for the awards in our firm. He made large revenues with his company before he spent one dollar on marketing. The way you do it is to go above and beyond to please your clients. That’s what we do. That is something no company should forget.
Let me ask you this, what is the one thing you can do to protect your assets?
HS: A ladybird deed.
GM: Okay, that’s a good one, a ladybird deed would ensure your house was protected no matter if Medicaid had to come in and provide for your care. You’ve got to make time to plan ahead.
HS: An example of that happened to me this morning, when I was walking along and I tripped and slide. I was cartwheeling, I thought I was going to hit the ground but I recovered. I could have had a head injury and brain damage right there and not be able to make any decisions. Just a fall like that could have put me in a nursing home. Something as simple as that could happen to anyone, not just seniors.
GM: For the Shelby/Charlotte region call us at 704-343-6933 and for the Hendersonville/Asheville area call us at 828-398-0181.
Contact me if you have any questions. Elder Law is what we do!
I’m Greg McIntyre and this is lunch with a veteran. Today’s guest is Dr Frank Sincox who is a physician and a Flight Surgeon for years in the US Navy.
He already has a warm spot in my heart because he was in the Navy and spent time on aircraft carriers. I like to say there is no better uniform out there than dress blues.
FS: I like dress whites.
GM: You like the dress whites better?
GM: You were on the CVS15 USS Randolph, that was a big carrier. I was on the Nimitz and the Constellation. I want to say the Constellation was CVN64 and I think the Nimitz was CVN68. The difference was the Constellation was a diesel and the Nimitz was a nuclear carrier. The Randolph I’ll bet was a conventional diesel.
FS: It is. It’s basically Essex class left over from world war two.
GM: On the picture of the Randolph you can see more advanced aircraft.
FS: They had hydraulic catapults and they can’t handle the weight of new aircraft. They require steam catapults. There’s more energy in steam.
GM: Now there is a new catapult system?
FS: Yes, there is electromagnetic.
GM: Like a rail gun kind of thing in the new, is it the Reagan class?
FS: I’m not sure.
GM: I think they are going to shift to those. I remember sleeping in a ninety man berthing on the Constellation and the Nimitz right below the flight deck essentially. In that front area of the carrier on the hangar deck level up in the front they had the steam catapults going off and you just learned to sleep through it.
FS: My sleeping area or berthing compartment had the same thing, it was on the 02 level and all night long you could hear that catapult, CABOOM, and the whole ship shakes. Tremendous amount of energy.
GM: I don’t ever remember not sleeping because of it though. I just got used to it.
FS: Yeah, it’s like living in a town close to the railroad tracks, you get used to it.
GM: And it is like living in a town. You’ve got a ship full of five thousand men, or men and women now, it’s like living in a town.
FS: It is.
GM: So, you live in Kings Mountain and practiced your career there?
FS: Since leaving the Navy.
GM: You were born in Michigan and moved around with your parents, and you have gone through experiences with different levels of service. I think this show is a great example of how the military can assist you, although you may have been a physician without being in the military but it doesn’t matter where you come from or what you are doing, the military can assist you as long as you have the drive and the intelligence to do it. You were closely affiliated with the military from a very young age?
FS: I was, my dad was in the Navy, he was in the Navy in world war one. He sure did a couple of different ships, and I think, what the veterans have given this country and the people of this country is not fully appreciated by the young people today. They take it for granted that all these freedoms were somehow descended from heaven and weren’t earned. There are people like me who served and came back and there are people who served and didn’t come back. We talk about the national debt but there is a debt that everyone is this country owes to veterans as a group. Those who served in combat and those who didn’t serve in combat but at any time could have, it’s not like I respect them any less. Anyone who was a store keeper or worked in a warehouse could have been pulled and sent to the front lines at any time, so I don’t think there should be a distinction between combat veterans and non-combat veterans. I think organizations like the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and many others as they try and tell people what veterans do for them, they need our support.
GM: I agree, when you sign a contract to enlist or be commissioned into our armed services, you are basically signing your life away saying, do with me what you will and I’m willing to sacrifice my life, and in exchange the military gives me certain benefits. Sometimes this includes healthcare and paying for college.
FS: I think one of the biggest benefits, there are so many young people growing up who maybe don’t have a good role model, or have no goal orientation, they are just sort of drifting around and the military is not for everyone but the biggest benefit is, you learn some self-discipline, goal orientation and you learn the satisfaction of a job performed well.
GM: I think another big thing for me is when you’re a kid going in, we don’t like dealing with things, people don’t, but you learn to, and I learned to operate in their system and accomplish my goals was a big part of it.
FS: Some of the things in the military system such as taking orders, if you don’t like it you get out and get a job, and guess what, you have to take orders there too.
GM: I have my own business and I have a ton of bosses to contend with. First my wife, my employees, judges, clerks, so I have a ton of bosses and systems that I may not always agree with but I need to learn to operate within it to be successful.
FS: And that is one of the advantages of military service is you learn there are some great bosses and great leaders and there are some that aren’t so great. You learn how to get along with them and do your job. Another benefit of being in the service is goal orientation.
GM: And it’s the same in civilian life as well, people conduct their lives with their habits and how they take care of themselves.
FS: Self-discipline is another thing. I had junior ROTC and ROTC.
GM: So, you started off in high school in junior ROTC when the Korean war was going on.
FS: You march and you drill and you say why is this important? You learn how to do something with a group of people. I really didn’t like the marching and drilling until I had done it a while, and then it was like, this is how you work as a unit. Yes, in the military you have to work as a unit but in civilian life you also have to.
GM: You have to work with people. Some people will say, I just couldn’t go into the military and I just chuckle because I wonder how you conduct yourself with your regular job. Can you perform well for your clients, or employees or your boss?
FS: In the Navy, you stood watches and showed up on your watch ten minutes before duty time. If you’re not on time, you’re in trouble. If you don’t like that, go into civilian life and you show up to your job not on time, pretty soon you won’t have a job. There’s not a lot of difference.
GM: After the junior ROTC you were in the US Navy reserves inactive during your first two years of medical school. You said you went to medical school from 1954 to 1956 at Emory University in Atlanta. In 1956 to 1957 the rules changes and you were allowed to join the US Naval Reserve.
FS: One weekend a month and two weeks in summer.
GM: And 1957 to 1958 you were active duty.
FS: You had a chance to go on active duty, get Ensigns pay and that helped with my medical school expenses. It also incurred another one year obligation.
GM: You had to pay back the military?
GM: So the military paid for your medical school?
FS: No. Now they pay for it all but then they didn’t pay for med school, I got a monthly check.
GM: The military paid for my undergrad and when I got out I went through the GI. Bill and I got about a thousand a month which paid for my mortgage and some groceries. It allowed me to complete my education.
FS: The GI. Bill has helped a lot of people. None of what I was on was GI Bill. The military is a great opportunity for our young people, whether you stay in it or not for a two year reserve or a four year active duty, it can help in civilian life. Sometimes you go in and have a job that has a close connection to a civilian job and other times there is no connection. If you were on a carrier and you’re loading bombs, well there’s no civilian job like that. There are hazardous material jobs so it can be useful.
GM: It would be like the AO’s, or red shirts. I would walk past the AO stations on my way to breakfast or wherever, and there were the bombs, right beneath where we slept. I never thought a thing about it then but if one of those had gone up, the whole thing would have.
FS: You wind up having so much trust in your fellow shipmate. You feel safe because this guy took fire training and knows how to put out a fire. It is said that in actual combat, the usual fear is not of getting injured or dying, the average guy in combat, his biggest fear is that he will let his buddy down. There is such a bond in combat and even in practice for combat. There is a pride and a bond that makes you proud that you’ve done that.
GM: You have had a distinguished career. During the cold war you were on the USS Randolph aircraft carrier which was a sub hunting aircraft carrier and you were patrolling the Atlantic and between Cuba and the North Sea ports of Russia.
FS: The Russian subs we were concerned about were the guided missile subs. They had sixteen nuclear weapons, that’s sixteen American cities. Each sub could destroy that. We knew we couldn’t get all of them but one we got would save sixteen cities. The submarines would come out of the North Sea ports and transect the Atlantic to be near our coast and go down to Cuba to refuel. We could destroy them but we sure wanted to keep track of them. We also kept track of the ships going to Cuba. We would take pictures of them. One time we took a picture of one of them and right on the deck was a missile, and then we knew Russia was sending missiles to Cuba and that was when President Kennedy came in.
GM: The Cuban Missile Crisis.
FS: Yes. From your time at sea, that ocean is big. You get on a ship and you figure it’s going twenty knots, that’s twenty two miles an hour, and you go for a day, that’s four hundred miles, two days that’s eight hundred miles and you don’t see another ship, you don’t see anything, just the sea. That’s a big ocean.
GM: They’re a lot faster now. I would think the fastest ship would be a carrier, that’s my guess.
FS: Well, some of those new subs are pretty fast too.
GM: I don’t consider those ships though, they sink. Who would get on a ship that sinks. I’ll have to interview some bubble heads.
FS: For us, subs weren’t ships they were targets but to them we were targets. The submariners that’s what they say, there are two kinds of ships, submarines and targets.
GM: I met some of our submariners at the Military extravaganza recently, they had a booth there.
FS: I saw them too, I talked to them.
GM: They told me they were called bubble heads. I didn’t realize that was the nickname. They affectionately call themselves bubble heads.
We were like the geeks who worked on the electronic circuitry. It was very good experience in trouble shooting problems.
FS: When you trouble shoot a radar set, there are certain steps you go through like a logarithm, I’m sure how you trouble shoot a problem has helped you through school and in your job.
GM: It helped my trouble shooting skills as well as discipline, and I imagine trouble shooting a human being isn’t too far off.
FS: Same thing, you say these are the possibilities and how am I going to separate which is which. Problem solving is the same whether it’s legal or medical.
GM: It’s just simply problem solving, and you can get really creative, even within the discipline of that.
Now, you were a Flight Surgeon in the Navy and you were involved in some of the NASA pick ups, such as John Glenn?
FS: Well, he came back to the carrier but I wasn’t directly involved, I was aboard the ship.
GM: If you were aboard the ship you were involved.
FS: Well, actually what happened is, the NASA physicians came up and they sort of took over our sick bay area, our medical area, and so when John Glenn came aboard I was all excited and wanted to offer my help as a Navy Flight Surgeon, and I said, what can I do, and they said you can get out of here and leave us alone. They chased me away, didn’t want anything to do with me.
GM: The only time I remember going to sick bay on the aircraft carrier was when I was walking through the hangar bay one evening, it had been a long day, we worked twelve hour shifts and there was an F18 Hornet rear wing that I didn’t see and I walked right into it and it split my head right open. I have a scar on my head from it. I had to go get a shave and get stitched up.
FS: Like you said, an aircraft carrier is like a city, and just like in any city there are accidents. If you cut your head, I would be the one who stitches you up.
GM: I might have had some dental work also.
FS: The sick bay aboard ship is just a couple of rooms where you could examine people, there’s an operating room and about twenty beds for sick people, but there is another area of about a hundred beds. We talk about a carrier fighting wars but if there is volcanic activity, or a hurricane, or typhoon in one of the Pacific islands, you send a carrier down there, they can distill and produce enough fresh water for a town of ten thousand people. They can serve ten thousand meals a day to people and provide hospitalization and care for several hundred people. It’s a war machine but it can be used as an instrument of peace too, so when there is a natural disaster just send your carriers there. How many other countries do that?
GM: Not a lot. There’s not many with that type of capability.
FS: Other countries would to but don’t have aircraft carriers.
GM: The US, Britain, Russia, France and now China.
FS: It can be used as an instrument of war and has a tremendous destructive capability but can be used as an instrument of peace too.
GM: And political capabilities. You can park a carrier in Hong Kong Bay and you are there to protect and intimidate.
FS: The one that first came out with that, a great president Teddy Roosevelt came out with what he called the great white fleet. He painted his ships white so they would stand out. He would send them to foreign ports to say, hey, this is the United States Navy, don’t mess with us. Speak softly and carry a big stick. The white fleet was his big stick, and today our carriers are our big stick for war but also for peace.
GM: You guys also picked up Gus Grissom right?
FS: Yes. John Glenn was supposed to land close to the carrier, he actually landed near a destroyer, the USS Noah which picked him up and brought him to us because that was where the media was, Walter Cronkite, and the NASA physicians. Gus Grissom we picked up directly. That was an exciting thing to be a part of.
You know how crowded it is aboard ship but imagine you bring your whole group with you. There’s about five or six thousand men and then you bring in five hundred media and press and NASA and everybody else. Everyone gets sandwiched in like sardines in a can.
GM: They would bring people on ship from time to time, movie stars and such people and the press, and it was crowded. I never felt too crowded when aboard even though we had two or three berthing but I always managed to get top bunk.
FS: Let me tell you another story of peace time. One time I was aboard the carrier in the sickbay and we had to do an inventory of all our surgical instruments. We had a bunch of surgical instruments, but way down in the hold of the ship we had tons more of them and we had to do an inventory.
FS: You had to do it periodically. So I went down there.
GM: Into the bowels of the ship?
GM: That always made me nervous the lower I went.
FS: There was all these surgical instruments ready to be sterilized, there was forceps used to deliver babies in there. We didn’t have women aboard ship then. I said, what in the world is someone thinking putting all these things aboard ship. There were boxes there and I’m thinking they don’t know what they’re doing, why would they do this? Well, a couple of months later we were cruising around and the dictator of the Dominican Republic got shot and they thought there would be a civil war, so we went full speed towards the port. Our job was to evacuate American citizens and I said, you know, some of them might be pregnant women, and so the people who provided those instruments weren’t so dumb after all. I was the dumb one, I didn’t think. I thought it was a fighting ship, I never thought it might have a mission of evacuating civilians from a civil war possibility in a foreign country. Things that look like they don’t make sense may make sense after all.
I’m sure during your career you got an order and you thought that doesn’t make sense, they don’t know what they’re doing, and later you found out that the one who didn’t know was you.
GM: You were called back up for service in the Gulf War as well. Did you go to Iraq?
FS: I was. We went over and were about twenty miles from the Iraq border because we were in Saudi Arabia which was friendly to us. We flew Cobra helicopters over there which were basically tank killers, and Saddam had tanks but someone had got there before us and most of the tanks were smoldering ruins. That was a war that was over almost before it started. We faced the possibility of doing an amphibious invasion on the beaches of Kuwait to push Saddam out. We knew the beaches were mined and from a medical side we were looking at five to ten thousand casualties first day from mines but it never happened, we didn’t have to invade so we didn’t get the casualties but you had to prepare for it. Things like the cold war and the military in peace time, it seems after every war we just tear down our military and then something happens and we are caught unprepared. We need to keep ready, not just stand down.
GM: I agree, we need to be ready. Thank you so much for talking with me and for your years of service to our country.
Contact me if you have any questions. Elder Law is what we do!
I’m Greg McIntyre and this is the elder law report. I’m here with Hayden Solloway and our special guest Jessica Bridges. Jessica is a coordinator at the YMCA, what is your official title?
JB: I am the senior director of healthy living.
GM: So, today we are going to talk about healthy living. Why does it matter?
HS: Almost everything relates to your health. Health relates to your attitude, how you feel, whether you get out and about, how you function, how long you live.
GM: I have read that exercise can slow the aging process. I don’t feel right if I don’t get my workout in. A good workout is the best preventative medicine you will ever take and the cheapest insurance you will ever buy. Combine that with good nutrition and you have a good recipe for life. I like to say, so goes the body goes the mind. I told that to someone the other day and they said, no, so goes the mind goes the body, because it all happens up there. The point is to keep a healthy body and healthy mind.
We are going to talk about how you can do that economically in your community in just a minute but first, Hayden, what are you happy about today?
HS: I like to research things and I found much too much information but I did find an interesting event that is related to our topic. April 18th 1967 was the date a woman first entered the Boston Marathon. She was pushed and shoved by the male competitors in that race, and the caption in the newspaper was, You’ve come a long way baby, talking about her how far she had come by entering the race. Fifty years later on April 18th 2017 she finished the Boston Marathon again. That shows what good exercise and good nutrition can do for you.
JB: I think her commitment to life-long healthy habits is such a testimony to all ages. I believe she entered the marathon under her own initials so she definitely thought it through. She had friends there with her, her boyfriend helped protect her a bit. That’s an interesting story and very inspiring.
HS: Another story I came across was titled, How Robins prove loved ones are still with us after death. It sounds sad but the story was told about a woman called Marie Robinson from Waterlooville, Hampshire who lost her fourteen year old son Jack to cancer in 2014. She visited his grave just a few weeks ago and asked him, show mommy a sign. Moments later a Robin jumped down on her shoe and then flew over to her hand and sat on her index finger. She posted pictures of this. Following the article, stories came in from other people who had instances of Robin’s indicating that a loved one is communicating. There is a lot to think about and it made me so happy to think that this woman finally felt that her son was okay.
GM: Thank you for sharing that. You can check out the video and pictures of the Robin story on our Facebook page. I was thinking when you were talking about the first female runner of the Boston marathon fifty years ago, my grandmother Margie Horne who has been deceased a couple of years now, I never thought of her as this athlete because she was my grandmother, but I pulled out old pictures and there she was playing high school basketball. I never had that connection with her. Grandparents should share with their grandkids all those cool things they did when they were younger.
HS: My grandmother would play tennis with the guys and when I was a baby she would put me on a blanket at the tennis court while she played tennis. There are a lot of instances pre-women’s lib where women did favor with men athletically, it just wasn’t always acceptable.
GM: So, let’s talk about getting and staying fit and healthy. Jessica, what can you tell us about staying healthy as we age?
JB: Thank you for the opportunity to be here today. I work for the Cleveland County family YMCA and the mission of the YMCA is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all. That three letter word, all, is very important to us. We focus on helping all people reach their God given potential and seniors are a special part of the YMCA. At the Dover Foundation YMCA in Shelby North Carolina, we employ an active older adult coordinator, and other YMCA’s may have a similar position or volunteers who work specifically with the active older adult, the senior population. What we provide at a basic level is a safe place for social connection, especially for seniors who may live alone. The ‘Y’ is a wonderful place to come and meet with friends, drink coffee, read the paper, catch up on current events, we welcome that. Our lobby area is usually full of seniors sharing stories in life and getting together. That is heartwarming to see. We have potluck lunches and seminars, and group exercise classes are available specifically for active older adults. When I left our facility today there was a large group of seniors in the water. Water is a little easier on the joints for those who suffer from arthritis or disability or balance issues. They were having a fabulous time. Any group class can be modified so we really meet seniors where they are, so any exercise can be modified and the instructor would work with the senior to do that.
GM: What if you have never worked out in your life, you might be intimidated going to a gym or working out as a senior? If I was that person I might just want to show up and hang out, have some coffee and get to know some people first.
HS: One of the things I started but never completed was in the gym. They would take you through a series of machines and get you started and you could track your own progress. Suppose you wanted to partake in activities like that but didn’t know where to start. Do you have an indoctrination program?
JB: Come in to our facility, we have a welcome center where you can ask questions. What we like to do is connect a health seeker with a wellness coach, set up wellness appointments and a tour of the facility to make sure people are comfortable with the facility. There are so many questions at the beginning, so we have on-boarding procedures for new members where we will stay in close connection for ninety days and beyond. We offer a wellness orientation.
HS: What does it cost for someone to do this?
JB: All the orientation is included with the cost of membership and we do offer a senior membership or senior couple price point, but it’s best to check with your local YMCA. Those services would be included with the membership fee, and financial assistance is also available upon application process.
GM: In my experience, it is affordable. For those who are intimidated by the whole workout process, you can just show up and get to know people, they will hold your hand. The longer you can stay healthy and active, there is a direct connection between that and your longevity and having a better quality of life. You have to put time into relationships with friends to maintain those relationships, it’s the same with the body. You’ve done research on this, how does that affect your longevity and health?
HS: I remember they were comparing couples who moved to be nearer to their children and left their homes, their neighborhoods and friends but their children and grandchildren have their own lives. The study showed that those who stayed active with their friends rather than moved to where their children were had longer lives.
JB: We also have evidence based programs. The ‘Y’ has a vested interest in community health so we are reaching out to our community to provide some of the services that historically seniors may have received elsewhere. Enhanced Fitness is a program for those who suffer from arthritis. It is an arthritis management program but it can also help with other chronic disease and strength. Moving for Better Balance is a program that is coming here locally at the end of May. It is a falls prevention program. It’s a tai chi program so that is something we are really excited about.
GM: Tai chi in the movies is always in a park in San Francisco.
JB: It is always so peaceful. So, we have programs specifically designed towards senior adults that have been proven. Any of the evidence based programs just means there is a study behind the program to prove the efficacy. The YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program is something we have had locally since 2012. This is for those at risk of developing type two diabetes. So, those who have pre-diabetes or have risk factors. Actually, on our risk assessment anyone over the age of sixty five automatically qualifies. And finally, we have Live Strong for those who are going through cancer treatment or who are cancer survivors. Check with your local ‘Y’ to see if they have these programs. Also, we provide support to your caregivers and family members. The ‘Y’ is more than a gym and swim. The evidence programs meet our strategic plan to reach out to those in the community.
HS: One more thing about the affordability, I do know that my insurance was paying for all but fifty dollars of my membership at the YMCA. That’s fifty dollars a year which is affordable to everyone. And there may be scholarship programs that are available.
JB: Absolutely, for senior adults check your insurance provider and we can help you walk through that process as well. Some of the names you may recognize are Silver Sneakers, Silver and Fit, Blue 365, so, many insurance providers will cover membership to the YMCA.
GM: There is a case to be made that by pulling people inside a gym they think that is all they have to do, and it can hamper their growth because when you get outside you feel better, walks through the woods, walks through the park, running, outdoors Tai Chi. I’d like to start my morning with some Tai Chi.
JB: The mindset really should be, this is a lifestyle change. I’m not on a diet, it’s not about that, it’s not about quick fixes, it’s about integrating healthy living principles in to your life.
GM: Thank you for talking with us today.
Contact me if you have any questions. Elder Law is what we do!
I’m Greg McIntyre and today I am talking with Roger Wuest who was a forward observer, field artillery Officer and Vietnam veteran.
So, how did you get involved with the military?
RW: Well, when I went to college at Hardin Simmons University I decided to join the ROTC and went through four years of ROTC but I did not have my degree. Things were getting tough at school and Vietnam was going heavy. I had the equivalent of a degree and the Army said, we’ll give you your commission if you choose three combat arms choices, so I did and went on active duty in 1967.
GM: So, in 1967 you went in and were commissioned as an Army Field Artillery officer?
RW: Yes, I was commissioned at school and then went to Fort Sill for my officer basic. Then I went to Fort Lewis for nine months and I found out I wasn’t bound for Vietnam. I wasn’t married so I volunteered and went to Vietnam. I have an interesting story from there.
GM: Where are you from originally?
RW: Billings, Montana.
GM: Were you commissioned from Billings Montana?
RW: No, from Abilene, Texas from Hardin Simmons University.
GM: So, you went to Vietnam and what was your story?
RW: I went out as a forward observer. I was supposed to be out six months.
GM: Don’t forward observers have a short life span?
RW: Well, yes and no. It depends upon if you get totally run over by the enemy or not. We didn’t but a year before some of them did. I was supposed to be out for six months, well, three months in we came in under this hospital, it wasn’t being used at the time but it could be used again. The infantry Captain wanted to take it out, so I said, sir there’s a problem, he said, what is it? We would have to fire at high angle, and he said, call it in Lieutenant, so I said, yes sir. I called it in. Five minutes later a call comes back and he says, Lieutenant, you want to do what? I would have to call it in. Are you wanting to risk your bars on it? Without a moment’s hesitation I said, yes sir, and he said, I’ll get back to you. He came back about ten minutes later and said, are you still willing to risk your bars on it? I said, yes sir, and we fired it and it worked. Two weeks later I get orders to go back to the battery as the Executive Officer, not as a Fire Direction Officer but as an Executive Officer. The Captain didn’t even know why I’d come back. The Major rewarded me because I was willing to risk my bars for what worked.
GM: Because you were willing to make a decision.
RW: Make a tough decision, so he rewarded me. Some of the other Lieutenants were not happy because they should have come in before me.
GM: They were thinking this guy can make tough decisions for us.
RW: But then we got fired on more back at the battery every day because if they knocked us out they could just walk over. Then the Division Commander decided we were going to have a competition between the batteries because during day time you weren’t doing much. We would do some dry firing but whichever battery won that month, the General and the colonel would come out and share a bottle of wine with them. Well, the first month my gun crew wins, the second month my gun crew wins and these are two different gun crews. The third month my gun crew wins, and they said, somethings wrong here, so, they had a retest and my crew won again. The fourth time they won I went home but I heard they won the fifth competition too and so the competition was finally stopped. It was just about how well your crews worked together.
When I came back I didn’t want to go back to field artillery school because they’d sign me out and I wanted to go to Germany so I extended. That’s where I got married in Germany. I flew my girl over there and we got married. My marriage license is actually in Germany.
GM: It sounds like you were a pretty good manager. Management requires taking responsibility and making tough decisions. I saw something the other day that made a lot of sense to me. The difference between where your business and is now and where it needs to be is ten minutes of guts a day. In those ten minutes, you move the big rocks not the sand. How old were you when you were making those tough decisions in Vietnam?
RW: I was twenty two, twenty three.
GM: You really had people’s lives in your hands.
GM: So, what did you do in civilian life when you came back?
RW: I hoped when I got out I would go back to college and get my degree in biology with a minor in chemistry but I didn’t do that. I went to work for Robert Hall clothes for about two years until they closed. Then I went to work for a small company which was also clothing and from there after about a year and a half I went to Red Arrow Freight lines in San Antonio, Texas and I worked for them for nine and a half years. The first two years I was a counter claims investigator, then I got promoted to assistant manager of claims and customer service. I was still doing the large cargo claims but I was also managing people. For those seven years I wound up managing twelve ladies and two men and the second one was in the work house a mile away, needless to say it was interesting.
GM: Sounds like you were out-numbered? Would you say the things you learned in the military helped you in civilian life?
RW: Definitely, yes. You stick with something, if you take it on you better finish it.
GM: And the military is not for everyone of course. You may not have had a choice of going in the military with Vietnam bearing down.
RW: As long as my grades were okay I was okay in school.
GM: But you choose to volunteer and go?
RW: Yes, I choose to volunteer and go.
GM: Why did you do that?
RW: Like I said, I was paying for my own schooling and it was getting very tough. I was working in the cafeteria and I worked my way up to cooking, and if they said Roger we need you to go cook, I had to go cook.
GM: It was difficult to do both?
RW: Yeah, it was getting that way.
GM: Did the military help pay for your college when you got out?
RW: Yes, they did, they helped me pay for the rest of it.
GM: Aren’t you a VA liaison?
RW: What I do is I volunteer at the clinic in Rutherfordton but I started out volunteering as a driver taking people up to the hospital.
GM: Yes, there’s a van that goes up there.
RW: It goes on Tuesdays and Thursdays from the DAV, the county office building across from the court house on Marion Street at 7:00am. We take people up there who don’t have a way to go. They must have an appointment at the hospital to ride the van. I had to stop doing that when I got my pace maker
GM: Well, thank you for your service in the military and for what you give to the community with the VA.
Contact me if you have any questions. Elder Law is what we do!
I’m Greg McIntyre and this is lunch with a veteran. One of the reasons we do this is to document a veteran’s experiences and where they have gone since leaving the military. My special guest today is Jim Quinlan. He is a resident of Cleveland County, a Marine and a member of Post 82 American Legion and has been extremely involved in American Legion baseball.
JQ: Yeah, I literally got out of the Marine Corp, got my degree under the G.I bill and ended up working for the American Legion back in Iowa where we did baseball, boys state, oratorical, all the youth programs. In 1986, I got hired into the national headquarters and ran the American Legion Baseball program. We had fifty five hundred teams nationwide, and did the world series in twenty six cities over that career time, so I got a lot of work into the American Legion.
GM: When did you go into the Marines?
JQ: I went in, in October 1971 and was put into personnel.
GM: I was born in January 1975.
JQ: So I was in and out before you were even born. I was a personnel chief, my job started off as a mail clerk. The mail comes into the troops, you sort it out by the different sections, S1, supply, operations whatever it was. We had to type up a lot of orders, so whenever someone flew, they had to go on flight pay because flying is hazardous, so every month if you have two thousand people you had to put on flight pay, at the end of the month you had to take them off, and then you have to put them back on. Whenever someone got transferred, or got promoted all that stuff had to be paper worked.
GM: I didn’t have flight pay but I had sea pay, and then we had hazardous duty pay when we went into a war zone, tax free, and I imagine someone in the payroll department had to make those changes every time there was a change.
JQ: Somebody in administration had to say, here’s a list of people who are now qualified for combat pay, or the hazardous duty pay, or the flight pay. Even if the troop wanted to get sunglasses which were authorized for troops who were flying, again you had to cut a special paragraph one order, he had to take it up to the base PX and they would order out his sunglasses, especially if he had prescription sunglasses.
GM: I think most people out there think of the military as being on the front lines but that’s not true. I say it all the time, any job you find in the civilian world, you find in the military.
JQ: Exactly, people have to fix and run computers, people have to do the payroll. Back then you didn’t get a check in the military, you got cash, so every month you had a dispersing officer come down and count out your pay. Then we had to have all that stuff typed up, and you had to sign to get your cash. When you were on deployment you got extra pay and again you had to go to the dispersing office and someone had to type it up, and they didn’t have computers or even have electric typewriters back then, it was all done with a manual typewriter.
GM: What did you say, a Remington Raider?
JQ: That’s right, I used a Remington Raider, I could type. Electric typewriters were just coming in but again, because our squadron was deployable, you may be going overseas, you may be going somewhere where there’s no electricity and you can’t plug in so everything was done with the old manual, hit the carriage return, type away, hit the carriage return.
GM: What if you made a mistake?
JQ: Then you had to retype everything over. We would handle CO office orders so we had to go through and type a perfect document, except we would deliberately make three mistakes. One was in the beginning, one in the middle and one at the end. The defendant who was being charged with these usually minor infractions would have to go through and find that mistake, fix it, and initial it, that way for legal documentation later, it proved that he read it because here are his initials on every page that had those three mistakes. So if you made a mistake, you had to start all over, you couldn’t use white out because everything was done with carbon paper. We had carbonless forms on paper back behind on everything so if you made a mistake it appeared back behind too. It was a slow process.
Now the stuff is computerized so you enter it in and it immediately goes to stores or to supply.
The advantage then was you worked with the First Sergeant, you got to work with the commanding officer and the XO. I was fortunate enough to get to know those people and those were the people who could recommend you for a promotion.
GM: And I guess that would help you develop people skills also?
JQ: It did. When the First Sergeant chewed somebody out you could learn an awful lot about how diplomatically he did it so they didn’t make that mistake again.
GM: Right, do it without breaking them. There are always different ways of doing that.
JQ: Bring them into line.
GM: That is something that is hard to learn. When you are trying to discipline someone so they know they did wrong but make them want to do better without just yelling, that’s a skill.
JQ: Anybody can yell.
GM: Yeah, how do I get them to buy in?
JQ: And this is not going to be tolerated anymore, you’re going to do a better job because you are capable of doing a better job.
GM: One thing that comes up that always amazes me is the military will give a ridiculous amount of responsibility to an eighteen or nineteen year old without thinking twice about it.
JQ: Once upon a time we had an American Legion conference and we had the Captain of the USS Iowa there. He’s got twenty two hundred people on board, it’s a small city, and he says, three fourths of them are teenagers. They fire the sixteen inch shell, they’ve got the radar going, they’ve got all these things going on and they’re eighteen or nineteen years old.
GM: That’s the big difference between the private world and the military world. Most businesses or people wouldn’t think about hiring a teenager and giving them much responsibility at all.
JQ: In the military one of the things you learn is that you’re going to be on time. The First Sergeant didn’t let you sleep in because you wanted to sleep in. If you were supposed to report for muster at 0700, you do it or you’re in trouble. There are consequences. The military regiments cut into real life every day. Working with American Legion baseball teams, there’s these teenagers and you say, hey, you’ve got curfew at midnight, well, they’re not used to going to bed. We’ll say, you have an option, you can either go to bed or we’ll take you to the airport for your airline tickets in the morning. They get your message real quick.
When the team is working hard together, we rarely had problems but every once in a while they’d say, what are you going to do, send us home? and we’d go, yeah. You can sleep in your beds tonight or you can sleep at the airport, they got the message. With the military, those skills of being organized, being on time, getting things going, they work. We would have an American Legion tournament, and one of the things the American Legion does like other youth programs, when a team wins that state tournament, the American Legion steps in and takes care of all those expenses, air-fares, hotels, meals, baseball, umpires all were pre-arranged. Like with the team from Alaska, we know they fly out of Anchorage but you don’t know who’s coming until forty eight hours ahead of time, so you have to have twenty airline tickets waiting up in Alaska for the team who wins and flies down to maybe Portland Oregon, or it might be the corner of Washington, or it could be in Shelby. All that stuff needed to be pre-arranged. We would end up flying or busing around fourteen hundred kids all in one day, and checking into hotels. That was always the pat on the back we gave ourselves, that was our success getting all that coordinated.
GM: You were the national director of the American Legion Baseball operations from 1986 to when?
JQ: 1986 to 2012 when I retired. Twenty eight years there, and seven back in Iowa doing similar type stuff but on a state level.
GM: And now Shelby is the home of the American Legion World Series.
JQ: Again, totally changed the impact of American Legion Baseball World Series. We went to some great cities, Fargo, North Dakota, nicest people in the world, went to Rapid City South Dakota, Spokane Washington, went all over the place, Middletown Connecticut, great people who worked their hearts out for a year, but after a year we had to start all over. So, you end up at Middletown Connecticut in 1988 and you’re going to Millington Tennessee in 1989, a whole new committee had to start over, educate them and say, this is what has to happen. Back then, those teams worked their fanny off and if there was any money left over that money would go into the team coffers to help next year’s team. Here in Shelby, we can build on the success year after year. Quite frankly the world series barely breaks even, if it wasn’t for our sponsors we probably wouldn’t be able to pay all the bills. It gives us a chance to build on the success. We never had a concert down town in Shelby five years ago, and now we do. It keeps on growing, the attendance has been outstanding and it continues to grow every year.
Fargo North Dakota, their team actually got into the world series and they averaged almost two thousand people a game, while Shelby averages almost seven thousand people a game, and they don’t have a team in it yet.
GM: We have some good teams, we just need to win that championship.
JQ: Well, it’s tough. In ninety years, I think there are seven teams who have hosted a tournament and won. Back in the thirties and forties there used to be just two teams in there. You have one year it’s in the east, the next it’s in the west, a best of three. Starting in 1944, that’s when they started the double elimination tournament and it was rare for a team to win the state tournament, then go regional and go on to host a world series and be there in the tournament. It is extremely tough.
GM: So, you think the organization skills and discipline you learned in the military translated to your career?
GM: You got the G.I bill, right?
JQ: I was hurt when I went in the Marines, I hurt my knee real bad and so I went to school under what we called VOC Rehab, where I probably got fifty dollars less a month than the G.I bill guy but it paid for books and tuition, so that money could be used for grant, food, electricity and everything.
GM: That’s what the G.I bill paid for me was rent and groceries but that allowed me to step out of the job I was doing and get my education.
JQ: All those skills, and I came from before computers were used, and I’m not intimidated by computers so I hopped right in because it was so much nicer than doing it with the old carbon forms. You had to make six copies and if you made a mistake you had to start all over again. The commanding Officer doesn’t like typos on their paperwork. And in the military, you would have the inspector general come around every year and so your paperwork was in fact judged. They came through and they would be looking for mistakes and in the end those mistakes would count against your squadrons. It made a big difference.
GM: Well, I want to thank you for your service and your contributions to the American Legion and Post 82. I am honored to be a member of Post 82.
JQ: Post 82 does a much better job. They had a kid who was a champion at the oratorical last year, and five kids are going on to boy’s state, and they’re sending a young man off to the student trooper which is like highway patrol class for a week. They’re doing a lot of good over there.
GM: And they’re starting a biker club.
JQ: Yes, American Legion Riders.
GM: They do a ton of fund raising.
JQ: They raised, I want to say, one point seven million dollars which goes into a scholarship trust, and that money goes to kids whose parents were killed on active duty since 911, or if you’re a fifty percent or more disabled veteran you can draw scholarship money. It’s all put in a trust so the interest is earned and again goes to those kids or veterans.
GM: American Legion does a ton, and in our last meeting it was the Legions ninety eighth birthday and we talked about how it began and the monumental things it’s done. I think it was the first million plus donor to the Heart Association.
JQ: The Cancer Society also, and they are a big contributor each year to the Ronald McDonald houses.
GM: Most people out there probably think only of American Legion Baseball but the Legion does a ton of stuff. If you are a veteran, we need younger veterans in there. I know there are a lot of younger veterans who could benefit from the camaraderie and fellowship of the Post 82 members and their support. The ridiculous number of young veterans coming back with real problems for real reasons, I think these things can be somewhat offset by a support group. The members have been through similar things. When I sit down and talk to Vietnam vets, I realize my service was not dangerous or hard at all. The veterans of today are going through some very dangerous and tough situations with injuries and trauma but that support can help, it certainly can’t hurt.
JQ: There was a chaplain in the National Guard who came and talked at the American Legion and he said, you need to get these young guys in because when the world war one and world war two boys came back, they called it combat fatigue but it was post traumatic stress, and get them in with other veterans. If old Joe talked about when he was in Korea or Vietnam and he related some of that combat, that can help younger guys to think, he can talk about it, so I can talk about it, it does relieve stress.
You talked about the G.I bill, it was a Legionnaire called Harry Colmery, a past national commander, and member of congress who wrote the G.I bill and the American Legion got that passed by one vote. It was opposed by some other organizations who wanted the money to go strictly into hospitals.
GM: I believe the American Legion is the only non-profit who can lobby congress?
JQ: For the most part but the other organizations can too, there is the DVA, and the VFW, I’m not sure how it works but they have a political action arm. With the American Legion, we don’t care if they’re republican or democrat, the issue is the issue and that’s what we are going to argue about.
The American Legion is a non-profit charter organization, any veteran who needs to put in a claim, we will do that at no charge to them, put in the paperwork and send it on up through our chain of command.
GM: I urge any veteran out there to look to their American Legion Post and get involved. Any time you go into a room full of veterans and you are a veteran, there is an instant connection and you feel at home.
Contact me if you have any questions. Elder Law is what we do!
I’m Greg McIntyre, I’m here with Hayden Soloway and this is the elder law report. Today we’re talking with Brandon Sterns who is a high schooler and the key impetus behind the development of the Military Extravaganza which was held in Shelby on April 9th 2017. I found it amazing that a high school senior pulled this together.
The military extravaganza was a march, a celebration, a parade and a host of events including a concert later on. If a high school senior can get an event like this together and get a community energized around him and his group, then what can people out there do for their community?
It’s a challenge.
So, Hayden, you know a lot about the Military Extravaganza.
HS: I know it was very challenging to make this happen, and I know Brandon had plans to do the event last year. Why didn’t you do it then?
BS: Last year I tried to plan it about four months before the day of the event and unfortunately four months is not a long enough time to plan a big event like this. This time, I started planning last August.
The guest performer is Jett Edwards. Jett is a native of Kings Mountain but lives in Tokyo, Japan and has lived there for twenty four years. He does several different benefits for veterans. The one he is trying to get out at this event is, he gives away a house on the east coast and one on the west coast. This will happen in September. He’s on tour now.
HS: Are these for veterans or disabled veterans?
BS: One is for a disabled veteran and the other for a homeless veteran. One of the things that we thought was interesting was, if he doesn’t get enough in donations to pay for the houses, he will take the money out of his own pocket and pays for them himself.
GM: I have a couple of questions I’d like to ask. How does a high schooler decide, I want to do this big military extravaganza for veterans, and then it balloons into this thing where you have ceremonies and parades and colleges turning up to discuss military programs? I commend you for putting this together. I couldn’t put this together without a lot of help.
BS: For me, it was, how am I going to do this? I was always bullied throughout high school, so for me to get up and get out to do something like this has really brought me a lot of joy. I know I’m doing something for somebody else and helping somebody in need because in Cleveland County alone there is a lot of homeless veterans. We want this to be a time of celebration and a time of gathering, and to know that you are welcome and welcome to the campus of Shelby High School.
I have a lot of military in my family, my dad served in the Army for twenty nine years and my grandfather served in the Marines for twenty one years. Three of my family members have received the Bronze Star. I say, just get out and try something new, don’t believe someone who says you can’t doing something.
GM: What is it you want to do with your life when you get out of high school?
BS: When I graduate from high school I will go to Palm Beach University in Palm Beach Florida. It’s a very nice place and I want to get my bachelors in pastoral studies. My plan is to become a Baptist minister.
HS: Is Club Miracle a safe place to do the things you want to do, such as, help others, distinguish yourself, escape from some of life’s hardships?
BS: Club Miracle was founded on five things. Three of those things are, the military, taking care of the homeless, and also helping students in school. Club Miracle has eighteen active members. It’s a place where you can go, and if you have an idea, let us know and we will see what we can do.
GM: This is a club in Shelby High School?
BS: Yes. We have done many different things, a soup kitchen at Central United Methodist Church, we do an Easter egg tree which is a Christmas tree with Easter eggs on it, we did a drive for Hurricane Mathew, we do a lot of stuff.
GM: Thank you for what you’ve done to organize this event, it’s awesome and your actions have inspired me to do something.
Here’s how we can help our veterans. As an elder law attorney and a veteran of the US Navy, I meet with veterans all the time. I am a certified attorney with the US Department of Veterans Affairs and we handle pension benefits for veterans who may need a little help with in-home, assisted living or nursing home care. For more information, you can call me on 704-259-7040.
Contact me if you have any questions. Elder Law is what we do!
I’m Greg McIntyre and I’m talking with Ludy Wilkie. Now, the reason we do lunch with a veteran is first to show case veterans, and second, I think by preserving and hearing these stories, not only are they entertaining but they can encourage young people to explore their dreams within the military.
So Ludy, could you tell us your story?
LW: Well, the military certainly helped me. I finished college in 1969 at Western Carolina. I wanted to go on to graduate school but just did not have the money and so the only option that seemed available was enlisting in the Army and getting the G.I Bill of Rights. I worked for a short time that summer after I graduated at a radio station but Uncle Sam was always tugging at my coat tails and a friend of mine who is a member of our American Legion advised me, get Uncle Sam before he gets you. I got interested in military journalism and the armed forces radio and TV, and one group that thought they could get that for me was the Army Security Agency.
Now, the ASA as it was called required a four-year enlistment, and I did that, and it was interesting. A few weeks earlier I had been in college discussing Emerson, and then after entering the Army we were pounding up the trails at old Fort Jackson and it was an experience. At first when I enlisted I found the opportunities for journalism were closed but a lieutenant at Fort Devens, Massachusetts took an interest in my case and several others, and it was arranged that I go to a Department of Defense Information School located in Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. After that I went on to Okinawa where I was a military journalist.
I wrote articles for home town newspapers, such as, so-and-so got promoted, such a person got a medal, and I wrote for newspapers on Okinawa, civilian newspapers as well as military and for the Hallmark. Hallmark magazine is the official magazine of the US Army Security Agency. I was one of the first and only correspondents to get a byline in one of the stories I wrote. For my efforts as a military journalist and for my work in the post chapel helping put on dramas and plays, I was fortunate enough to get the Army Commendation Medal.
GM: How long were you on Okinawa?
LW: Two years and it should have been longer. I was there from 1970 to 1972.
GM: That was during the time there was a big rebellion there?
LW: Indeed, there was a lot of tension on Okinawa, it’s a small island, nineteen by sixty miles and American military bases make up about one third of the bottom half of the island. The Okinawans were very sensitive about that. Our extensive use of their land and with the Vietnam war going on, they were afraid of getting drawn in to another war. The stationing of B-52’s on Okinawa also become an issue. It was just a very tense time, and there was some anti-American resentment.
I remember during my first year there, an American driver accidentally hit an Okinawan pedestrian but the Okinawans could tell it was an American car because we had different colored car tags. In retaliation, they started attacking American cars and setting them on fire. We were restricted to base until that settled down. The riots made the newspapers here in America, so, there was a lot of tension going on at the time.
I remember the ASA required enlistment of four years but as I walked into our headquarters building a fellow soldier from Sylva, North Carolina called Guy Hall called me over and said, have you heard Ludy, they’re cancelling the four year enlistments, we can get out with only three. This was very good news, I got to come home a year earlier than I thought, but yes, Okinawa was a very tense place, but a very interesting place.
During world war two when American forces invaded, the battle of Okinawa destroyed about eighty percent of everything above ground on the lower part of the island. This was one reason the Okinawans were fearful of getting drawn into another war.
I was on Okinawa when it reverted to Japan. It had been decided since the Eisenhower administration that Japan would eventually take over the island and I was there when that happened. I believe the then Vice President Agnew made a visit to the island, and for many years I had the newspapers, the civilian newspaper the Morning Star, it opened up, Welcome to Japan. There were places flying the Japanese flag and the Japanese Yen was one of the excepted currencies off post. Now this was interesting, prior to the reversion, Americans were told to patronize only the establishments which featured an ‘A’ sign in restaurants and such, that meant they met certain standards of hospitality and fair business practice and hygiene, and welcomed American patronage. After the reversion that could not be enforced but establishments such as restaurants were still asked to display an ‘A’ sign anyway, indicating they welcomed American patronage. Some places did not.
It was quite an experience to change money into Yen. Technically we weren’t allowed to before we left the island but we could always go off post and do that. It was quite an experience when Okinawa was given back to the Japanese.
GM: How did you find the people? It sounds like they were not happy about the American occupation at that point in their history. I spent some time on the Naval base, Port Yokosuka in Japan and I visited Tokyo and found the people were very friendly, well maybe not friendly but civil, and sharp and clean. I have been to places where the people were very friendly. The Japanese certainly have a rich culture, very smart but are not super friendly to outsiders. We have a huge debate about immigration in the US right now and I don’t think that’s a problem in Japan. My eldest son and I were looking at statistics and he was telling me there are very few people from other cultures who live there permanently.
LW: The Okinawans individually were very courteous and friendly to the individual American but they resented the military presence being there occupying much of their property. Okinawa had once, centuries back, been an independent kingdom but was never left in isolation. China and Japan would vie for control of it. China recognized Japans sovereignty over the Ryukyu islands, and the Okinawan king was given some rank in Japanese nobility but the Japanese tended to look down on the Okinawans as their poor neighbors. The Okinawans actually opposed the reversion, they would have pamphlets in English saying Japan is not our fatherland, even though they had to learn the Japanese language. It was such a small island that it would have been difficult for them to defend against foreign invaders. The Okinawans had always been dominated and influenced by other cultures, they had never been left alone. It was given back to Japan because we took it from them during world war two. The battle of Okinawa was the last major battle of world war two, and some of the Japanese later admitted when they heard Okinawa had fallen, they knew it was all over. It was the last outpost between the American forces and mainland Japan. It was called the keystone of the Pacific because out of there we had other bases.
You were mentioning some of the Asian people being friendly, I went on leave for nine days to Taiwan. The people of Taiwan were very friendly. Chiang Kai-shek was still alive then but they knew if the Americans were not there the Republic of China would be coming over to get them, so that was one place Americans were very welcome. They would walk up to you on the street and start a conversation. A professor invited me to dinner in his home but I didn’t get to go. They were great believers in international relations. In little Taiwan, capitalist Taiwan out-produced red China. One time I was at a PX, I needed to cash a check and there were sirens passing by and it was General Chiang Kai-shek on his way to work. He had not left the country since becoming the ruler. I shouldn’t tell this but I will, the Chinese did pirating, they would pirate American books and records and reproduce them illegally despite the copyright, and we were not supposed to send them through mail but you could hand carry them out of the country and bring them home. I brought home some books and records and such, and two of the books were text books one of my professors at Oklahoma University had contributed to. I never told him I had pirate copies of that book. People would go there and get teak wood furniture and bring it back.
GM: Taiwan is a real holdout in that region for capitalism and free market enterprise.
LW: Getting back to Okinawa, one thing we experienced a couple of summers there was the drought. It would get very dry and we would have to ration water, and sometimes you could buy jugs of water but to purify it you had to put chlorine bleach in it. We would pray for rain or a typhoon to hit. One typhoon did hit, typhoon Vera but it only filled up the reservoir a little bit. They had a problem with water rationing which was odd being surrounded by the ocean on all sides.
GM: Water, water everywhere.
LW: But not a drop to drink. We should have practiced some desalinization somewhere for fresh water.
GM: It doesn’t sound very healthy to drink the chlorine bleach water?
LW: We just put a few drops in. We put chlorine in the pools, it’s the same type principle. The island was very poor, they still had open ditches where they dumped their sewage, it was right out there in the open. We had to get accustomed to that.
GM: Have you been back to Okinawa anytime?
LW: No I haven’t.
GM: That would be a neat experience. I wonder how things are in comparison?
LW: I believe they have closed a number of smaller bases but I think there’s still a lot of anti-American tension over there. The locals do have jobs on American bases, and this resulted in a higher standard of living so they have a catch 22 type situation. They don’t like the Americans but the bases provide them with jobs.
GM: It sounds like they don’t like the Japanese either.
LW: Some of the Okinawans who remembered being drafted into the Japanese army during world war two certainly don’t. Incidentally, while I was there they found the last Japanese soldier to surrender, I think on the Philippines, and on Okinawa the last one to surrender was in 1959. He was a hold out, he did his duty to the emperor and had not surrendered.
GM: That is nuts. They were just living in caves or something?
LW: Certainly living in caves and the wilderness areas. They were dedicated, they would not surrender. On Okinawa one place to visit was suicide cliffs where the Japanese Generals refused General Buckner’s invitation to surrender, they drank a toast to the emperor and committed harikari. The lesser officers had to be the ones who surrendered.
GM: That was one thing that made the Japanese so fierce in world war two. A commitment to country and the emperor all the way to death. I think that is almost unparalleled.
LW: It was, and even while I was there they had a company that had to explode ordnance because unexploded ordnance, shells, bombs, grenades were still found all over the island from world war two. Old but still deadly. There was a special unit assigned to do just that. That would have been a very frightening job, going out and recovering old shells and bombs.
During low tide you could see where American soldiers had fallen through the coral during the invasion. American Marines died there. They still had some old Japanese bunkers and such, which was a vivid reminder of world war two.
GM: How the world changes so quickly. My grandfather was in world war two. Now Japan is a great ally, and we certainly reinvested in rebuilding Japan there’s no denying it.
LW: It would have changed a lot from the time my father was there during world war two. He talked to me about it to the time I was there. He knew the mayor of one of the towns over there after the Japanese had surrendered, but their ways were somewhat different from ours.
One interesting thing that people loved to do and I did, was to go to a restaurant that served Kobe beef, and they would marinade and cook it in front of you. They would ask how you liked your steak. Some people argued it wasn’t true Kobe beef which originated in Korea, beef that was raised on beer. They would take the young calf and raise it on beer, just beer. There were two places that did that, Sam’s Anchor Inn and Oseki’s, I think in Koza. I did not visit this place but there was a small colony or something, but there was an orphanage which had been a small leper colony, and some of the American soldiers would visit those orphanages and help take care of them.
GM: So, you were a journalist and in the military, and still found time to do many creative things such as writing and acting, the world’s greatest playwright.
LW: The world’s greatest undiscovered playwright. We have a playwrights group that I helped found and meets in Hendersonville, The Lost Playwrights. We are expecting to do some promotions for the Hendersonville library. Some people from Shelby have gone to that, Brendan LeGrand who does documentaries, and Tom Bennett from Kings Mountain who writes plays.
GM: How many plays have you written?
LW: I would have to stop and count, but some have been produced. Once in Rutherford County, once in Crest High School, The Diary of Faust, with gypsies and werewolves, a secret society with the book of forbidden knowledge, and there was the play, The Ballard of Nancy Hanks which has been done twice. We proved that Abe Lincoln was born in Bostic and not in Kentucky, that one has been done. I started out doing readers theaters based on the book of Luke and the book of Ruth. I got permission from the Thomas Nelson people to use the New Kings James version for the book of Luke, and the American bible society to use the Good News Bible for the book of Ruth. We did an O Henry trilogy, basically stage readings of three O Henry stories, and we had his next of kin up there at the time. Pastor Paul Porter gave a talk about O Henry. Here in Shelby for the season opener for the community theater we did one of my plays Hello Johnny Appleseed, and I did a series of five one act musicals and we did the Three Jolly Coachmen.
GM: You’ve written hymns as well?
LW: Oh yes. I did a play at the Lutheran Church about children who build a nativity scene but can’t get permission to put it up anywhere, we did two hymns from that. Peter Strickland who teaches music at Crest High School did the arrangements for some of these.
GM: Most people think the military is just people with guns but it’s much more than that. I always try to tell people how much of a benefit it has been in my life. It helped me get away from home and see the world, going over to Asia and the Middle East, and living in San Diego. Just those places expanded my vision of what the world is far more than what you get from watching television. It was very good for me. Also, you can do virtually any job you want in the military, such as the work you did as a military journalist. Do you think that it benefitted you in any way?
LW: Absolutely, it was a fantastic experience. I had a feeling of success, I was in a sense a published writer, and I have great stories about interesting people. One fellow was a volunteer boy scout leader and we did stories on him. There were just all sorts of fascinating stories when you get in to this. Talking about wanting to travel, I was stationed for a while at Fort Deven, Massachusetts and we would go into Boston on weekends and visit the historic sites. I got to see some theater, I saw Pearl Bailey in Hello Dolly for example. I met a lady who was one of the Mayflower descendants and I have an autographed copy of her book, Boston in my blood, bought at the oldest continuous bookstore in the United States. Then I was at Fort Benjamin Harrison Indiana.
GM: I wonder if Ben Franklin ever used that bookstore?
LW: Well, I wouldn’t be surprised.
GM: Because he was such an avid reader but he didn’t stay in Boston. I think he left Boston when he was something like thirteen.
LW: I bought some interesting books there. I got a copy of Phantom of the Opera and the book, Gone with the wind with scenes from the movie. I met one of the actors, Rand Brooks who played Scarlett’s first husband, and he autographed it for me. Being around the historic parts of Boston was an experience.
GM: When you have gotten out of your home town and you travel, especially when you live in other places, I think it does something for you that you can’t get otherwise. You just bring back a different perspective.
LW: After I left the military to get my masters at the University of Oklahoma, and the G.I bill made that possible, some of my friends, fellow English majors were sitting talking, it was tough being in the military but one of them said, well the military is an experience, you have to live through MASH to write about it. This goes back to exactly what you’re saying; the folks who had been veterans in college, had different perspectives on life than the kids who came there right out of high school. They had seen some of the good and bad parts of the world.
GM: Plus, they had had a job for a few years and had some maturity under their belt.
LW: And responsibility and such things.
GM: I figured quickly as an enlisted Navy guy that the difference between me and a Naval officer was a piece of paper, that college degree, and whether I was smart enough or not, that wasn’t going to get me into that officer’s position unless I got that piece of paper. This was something that become really important to me. My father said the same thing about his enlisted experience.
LW: I can say that about mine, I was determined to go on and get my Master’s degree after the military and this made it possible. We used to have a joke under the enlisted men, that the difference between the enlisted men and the officer was the enlisted men worked for a living.
GM: I knew the same joke in the Navy.
LW: We had some Navy men stationed where we were, and I got to be good friends with them and respected them very much. They were people who knew their trades and knew them well.
GM: So, it sounds like the military for you was to get a head up by enlisting and controlling your fate, and get something out of it as well. In exchange for you saying, look, you can use my talents for so many years in enlistment or commission, I might put my life on the line for you and in exchange you get the G.I bill, you get your graduate degree and could pay for it. I used the G.I bill to get my Juris Doctorate and my MBA. I have veteran’s health care benefits also because I served during war time and was in a war zone. There are tons of different benefits you can get by being in the military and they can last you for the rest of your life.
So, great experiences in the military and I am an admirer of how prolific a writer you are.
LW: Thank you.
GM: I’ve written a couple of books, Saving the Farm and RockStar Lawyer, so I understand some of the difficulties involved with writing but I’m nowhere near the number you’ve poured your heart and soul into. Something else we have in common is the American Legion, you’re a leader of our post here in Shelby.
LW: Well, I work with their oratorical contest which is very important. High school students get to participate in this contest, where they give a speech about the US Constitution and an impromptu speech about one of the Amendments. There are no losers in that contest, everyone who participates is a winner.
GM: If someone wants to contact you to see your plays or find out more about what you do, how can they do that?
LW: They can contact me at LUDY@shelby.net.
GM: I want to thank you for everything you do for our American Legion Post and for your service.
Contact me if you have any questions. Elder Law is what we do!
I’m Greg McIntyre the elder law guy and today on Lunch with a Veteran I have a special guest, Dr Rit Varriale who is a veteran and a pastor of Elizabeth Baptist Church here in Shelby North Carolina.
You’re not only a veteran, you’re an Army Ranger?
RV: I went to Ranger school, Ranger class 2/93, we finished up January 22nd of 1993 and from there I went to the 82nd Airborne Division as a Scout Platoon Leader for Division Scouts.
When I was in the configuration for the division, every infantry battalion had a scout platoon, then the division had three scout platoons that was attached to the aviation brigade, and I was one of the leaders for division scouts for two years. Great privilege, great opportunity to be a scout platoon leader for that long, and then I was executive officer of division scouts for eight years, so I had a great time.
GM: I’ll bet, and stayed in great shape.
RV: Yes, and I still like to work out so, chalk that up to the Army.
GM: I know you do a workout program here in the community called F3.
RV: F3, is fitness, fellowship and faith. Basically what we say is, in order for a man to reach his full potential, he has to bond with other guys committed to those same things. They are committed to physical and mental fitness, they are committed to fellowship with one another, and they are committed to faith which is the most important thing.
GM: And it’s from 5:15 am to 6am.
RV: 5:15 sharp and the claim to fame is it’s free, it’s not going to cost you anything. It’s all guys and is outside regardless of the weather conditions, so, rain, sleet, snow. We have been going for almost two and half years now, and we have not missed a weekday workout, even in times when there has been an ice or snow storm, at least one guy has shown up at the workout site, called AO’s and has worked out on his own and then posted a workout, so, a two and half year streak working out every morning. Now, I’ve missed a few, and everyone has missed a few but the guys have kept it going. That’s part of the camaraderie of the fellowship.
GM: Do the workout sites change?
RV: The workout sites change. We are at the city park, the new ball-fields behind the city park on Monday and Thursday mornings at 5:15am sharp, we will start doing our calisthenics and then go into the workout. On Tuesdays and Fridays those are our run days. On Tuesday we meet at the Earl Scruggs center where we do light calisthenics and stretching and then boom, we hit the road running. Guys go in different directions because they have different skill levels with running so you go at your own pace. Some just walk around the court square and do exercises around there. On Friday morning we just changed our AO to the new First Broad River Park on Grover Street that has the trail running along to Ingles on the west side. If you start at the parking lot and run to Ingles and back, it’s right at three miles. Wednesdays we meet at the community college and that’s another boot-camp workout. So, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday are boot-camp workouts, Tuesday and Friday are run days. It’s a nice balanced workout.
You can message me or go to F3 on Facebook or Twitter and F3nation.com on the web and find local F3 groups.
GM: It sounds like the Army Ranger fitness has carried on throughout the rest of your life. I think that’s important. Did you get that from the military or where you in to fitness and sports before that?
RV: In high school I played football, wrestled and did track and I also spent a lot of time in the outdoors, skiing, hunting and hiking so all of that was already part of my life. I think that was why I gravitated towards the military and the Army in particular, so when I got to the citadel it was a natural fit. I liked the regimented lifestyle, it worked well for me. I liked the citadel after the first year.
GM: Yeah, I’ve read the forbidden book ‘Lords of Discipline.’ So you go to the citadel, you’re an athlete in high school, how did you head towards being a pastor?
RV: That really started with a transition in my father’s life. When I was nine going on ten my father went through a pretty radical conversion experience. He wasn’t a hell-raiser, he was with GE, very responsible, committed to his work, committed to bringing home resources for his family but he was more committed to himself outside of work and those responsibilities than anything else. In his own words, the person he loved most in life was himself. He still loved my mother, he loved me but there was a lot going on in his life that God needed to work on, and until then our family was not as stable as it needed to be. When God got hold of my dad, it was a pretty amazing transformation. Even as a child, I couldn’t deny the change that was taking place, that I watched unfold before my eyes with my dad. That instilled in me that the relationship with God was real, and the relationship with God was powerful, and the relationship with God was needed for families to be all they could be, for men to be all they could be. So, growing up with that appreciation for what God did in my dad, that kept me in a closer relationship with God than otherwise. If my dad hadn’t gone through that, if my parents had split up there is no telling which direction my life would have gone. So, when I left home I had instilled in me this sense of God and country, you honor God with your life, you seek to serve God with your life. None of us is perfect but God is there and cares and can make a difference. That was very much instilled in me going to the citadel. As I went through the citadel I grew in my relationship with the lord. I think it was during that time that I realized my relationship with God had to become my relationship with God, and I couldn’t live off my dad’s spiritual coattails. I had to establish this sense of understanding and commitment to God on my own.
The neat thing was in my senior year, which was a year of spiritual formation for me, was the year I met my wife, and she was going through a very similar process in her life where she wanted to draw closer to God, she wanted the faith to become more real to her. We met in the fall of 1991 in Charleston and God just took that relationship and really did some wonderful things with it. When we got married shortly after I finished my Army Observer basic course, I went to regular school, then after that she and I went back to Fort Knox, Kentucky, where I did a scout platoon leaders course, then I went to Fort Bragg. One of the things we wanted to do was get plugged in to a good church. We had a church family at Fort Bragg which was absolutely wonderful. The pastor of that church asked me if I would start doing a home bible study at our house on base. I was reluctant because I didn’t feel I knew enough about the bible to do that, and he said, well you just pray about it. In my time of deliberation, I felt God was saying, the day you think you do know enough on your own and stand up to represent me, is the day you need to sit down and shut up. You will never know enough about me to represent me in your own strength. You go with what I have given you and go with it. So, I went back to him and said, I’ll start bible study and I’ll just go with what I’ve got and we’ll let the lord build on it from there.
That bible study was the beginning of the end of my military career, even though I didn’t know it, because my love for studying the bible, the thrill of watching people grow in their relationships with the lord, especially those people who come to Christ for the first time, that started to supersede my love for the military.
I can remember, it was just before I felt the call out of the military and into the ministry that there was a parachute jump going on at Fort Bragg, just a training jump, and the aircraft wasn’t filled. Whenever that would happen they would put a call out to unit commanders, hey, we need jumpers to fill this aircraft and my commander said, hey, we need to fill an aircraft so grab your gear, we are going to jump tonight. Well, I told him, sir, this is bible study night, and he said, we’re not being paid to bible study, we’re paid to jump so get your gear, we’re jumping. I remember being so frustrated that I was going to miss bible study. I was looking forward to it, I had prepared for it, and it hit me that day that something was going on here because years ago if someone had put out the word there were some extra seats and we we’re going to jump, I would have had someone fill in for me because my desire would have been to jump. So, in that period of time my desires changed. I was called into the ministry and in 1996 I left the military and went in the ministry.
GM: But when the military says jump you jump.
RV: Yeah, I still jump.
GM: I had a similar experience with a fire school I was supposed to go to and I had a test set up for GMATS or something to go to MBA school at San Diego State for when I came out the military. I had a chief who just dressed me down because my desires were to go further my education and not go to fire-fighting school. I was saying, but chief I’m getting out shortly after this six-month cruise and I want to go to school. They’re not really so concerned with that.
RV: Yeah, sometimes you get that attitude and those of you who are veterans watching have probably felt those same frustrations, they don’t necessarily want you to be pro-active and think about what you’re going to do, they want you to do what you are told to do. There’s a reason for that but it can be frustrating.
GM: That’s true. My desire to further my education did not match up with what the Navy had in mind for me. That doesn’t mean I could not have crafted a path within the military, I could have, many do, where I would have ended up as an attorney and in the military. You have to seek the right path and talk to the right people.
So at that time you had done your under-grad at the citadel but not done your doctoral work?
RV: At that point I had just gone to the citadel and graduated from there in 1992, and my plan was to trap through all the military programs because I had no plans on getting out. When I got out the military I knew I wanted to go to an institution where I could enhance my theological understanding. To me, the degree wasn’t the primary motive, it was the learning to get an understanding of God’s word, old testament, new testament, the history of Christianity. My thinking was, if you are going to lead the church, just like if you’re going to lead troops, and especially elite troops, you have to be prepared, you have to know your stuff. I felt the same way about the ministry, if I’m going to lead in church, I want to be prepared and understand Christian history and the debates that have circled around Christian theology throughout the ages, and look up things in the old and new testaments and have a measure of independence doing those things and studying and researching. That is why I started to work on my graduate programs in theology.
GM: You went through several graduate programs?
RV: Yeah. Up until my Masters in divinity at Campbell, school was a means to an end, whether it was high school, or the citadel, it was always, I have to do this to get where I eventually want to go. When I started studying theology, the study became an end unto itself. My wife used to say, you’re definitely a nerd because you’re the only person I know who at the beginning of the semester you come home with more books than what’s on the reading list. For me I found that when I went to Campbell, my studies were kind of therapeutic and for the ministry I think it is very important for ministers to have that ability to pull away from the busyness of a congregation, from the sorrows, stresses, the funerals and negative diagnoses from doctors, and be able to recharge your batteries. Not only do you have to bear the sorrows and unfortunate situations of life for the congregation, you have the highlights also, the birth of children, the weddings things like that. There are a lot of emotions flying about. If a minister doesn’t have that ability to pull away, they’re going to burn out. I found my studies were something that forced me to pull away and in doing so, it was therapy for me.
GM: You have written a book called Reformation and Responsibility, and you’re coming out with a second book called God Before Government. Did you always know you would start writing books or did that just happen?
RV: Once I found reading and researching to be therapeutic from a ministry perspective, the same thing happened from a social perspective while watching the radical changes taking place in our nation since the World War two era. This ship where the Judeo-Christian ethic was a respected driving force of the nation, that from world war two until now, the Judeo-Christian ethic is almost viewed as a racist attitude or oral view that needs to be subjugated to this general notion of liberal secularism. I found I wanted to weigh in on the conversation and write something. What was laid out in my heart was this concept of a reformation.
Roughly every five hundred years a pendulum in a society needs to swing because we need course corrections as human beings. One generation will get fixated on a certain course heading and the next generation picks that up and drives it further, and the next even further until they realize, you know what, back when this started, this course heading was good, it was a good correction but now that we have forced this same course heading for three or four hundred years, it’s become counter-productive. To put some hands and feet to it, the hyper individualism of our current culture is a perfect example of that. The focus on the individual that was a part of the enlightenment which was the dominant thinking in the time our nation was birthed, was good. Coming out of medieval Europe, late medieval period, renaissance period leading to the enlightenment period, and this idea that every person has worth and value, not just royalty, everybody, we’re one hundred percent on board with that, that was a good course correction, but when you start forcing the issue of individualism and individual rights to the extent that we are at today, it becomes counter-productive to the society. It’s no longer good for the whole approach, it now becomes where the larger sentiment, the majority is subjugated to the minority sentiment. Why? because we have adopted, without thinking it right the way through, that the minority must always be protected from the majority. Any situation where a particular ideology or minority group is being disenfranchised by the majority sentiment, immediately there is the rule of government to silence that majority sentiment, to handcuff it and give free voice and free reign to the minority segment. We have been on that course heading for a long time now. We are now just starting to see that a course correction is needed. If we don’t make that correction, things will be highly problematic for our country.
GM: By highly problematic, you mean destabilizing? It is scary to think whether we can survive some of the things we are going through and if it will rip us apart? You can see the clash coming.
RV: And it happens so fast. Those who are interested in this conversation and want to take it a little bit further, get on google and search ‘Roosevelt Bible.’ Then go to images and in the first ten or fifteen images, you will see a bible come up. What that is, is the Navy edition bible, the service member’s bible that President Roosevelt commissioned during world war two. When you consider the fact that the President of the United States commissioned that every service member in all the armed forces be given a bible as they prepared to defend our nation, that in itself speaks volumes compared to the attitude many of our leaders have today toward Christianity. Then when you look closer at the image of that bible it has the Christian flag above the American flag.
GM: The President of the United States endorsed that bible.
RV: And then it says right below the American flag, the church pennant is the only flag ever to be hoisted over the flag, and it is to be hoisted during divine services. Now ask yourself this question, Was President Roosevelt a smart man? Yes, he was, a very smart man. Was he aware that in the 1940’s there were Muslims in America? Yes. Was he aware that there were atheists in America? Yes. But, was he also aware that, if this is going to be a government of the people, by the people, for the people, and the vast majority of the people were Christians, then a display like this of the Christian church flag, the only flag that can be put over the American flag, the President of the United States said that. He put his signature to it. People are flabbergasted to know we even have these bibles but it’s that in such a short period of time those things have changed.
GM: I guess things always change but it’s like you can confess almost anything but your Christian beliefs. Any other belief is okay and you can voice that, and not only that but you can be violent and radical about it. That’s looked upon as okay. However, to voice a mainstream or opposing religious belief about any issue, that’s something you can be fined over, taxed over or put in jail over, and it happens.
RV: Right, and what we have forgotten again is, I did a piece with PRI, Public Radio International leading up to the election. I was talking to them about evangelicalism and the 2016 election but in that conversation I made the statement to the editor I was talking to that the irony is that those who are known in our culture for being open minded and diverse, are not seeking diversity and open mindedness, they are seeking conformity and they want to silence anyone who doesn’t agree with them. They want freedom of speech except for you, they want everyone to live out their values except for this group. It is highly inconsistent. This was the statement I made on PRI, if you are really going to promote diversity, then that means you have to allow people to think differently, you have to respect the diversity of opinions out there. Individuals think differently and they influence one another and you will have communities who think differently from one another, which means you will have regions who think differently, and states that think differently.
GM: Which is how our government was originally set up to run, not with this federal oversight that makes everyone think the same way.
RV: Exactly. There should be a diversity of thought and practice from one state to another. Those who promote that are the ones who are truly promoting diversity. Those who resist and fight that are the ones who are seeking conformity. So the great irony is, you have the left that seeks conformity, and it’s the conservative right that gives way to diversity.
GM: It’s a discussion that has not had much air time, a few outlets, lesser known media that will actually discuss that. But I think the media at this point has lost all sense of credibility for the most part. I enjoy switching on and catching up on politics but I will flip through all the channels and get the different points of view just so I know where they are coming from and try to formulate what the truth is. It is hard to do because you do have this whole propaganda machine pushing an agenda that is being pushed on to an entire nation.
RV: The development of social media is very beneficial in some way. Certainly one of the positives is to get information out that is more accurate than the once trusted mainstream media is putting out. You can get information out quickly to a large group of people to counter the false narrative that’s already out there. Granted, do I think the President should tweet as much as he does on so many things, he should probably reign it in a little bit, but there is still a legitimacy.
GM: Roosevelt went straight for people with his fireside chats and was extremely partisan with those to get the message out directly to the people.
RV: Right into the home with new technology. The only difference between how Roosevelt used the media and twitter is Roosevelt’s chat had to be scheduled well ahead of air time, with social media, you think it, you type it, you put it out there.
GM: Certainly the media doesn’t love that. How can they control that?
RV: For me, I’m really optimistic because I hope that it does force truth because it doesn’t matter who you are, if you are going to say something that is blatantly false, then the reality of that falsehood is probably going to be brought to the surface relatively quick. I think that is a good thing.
GM: I couldn’t agree more. You hear a lot of hearings and spins from political outlets in Washington and elsewhere, and then you can look at individuals who are putting out information about that subject and see an overall picture to light up the whole scene.
Now, you have actually flown the Christian flag over the American flag, I was at a ceremony where you did that. You made national news for doing that. You were on Fox news right? They were hard on you. I was surprised but you really held your own. I was very proud.
RV: There was a lot of good lessons learned there. I have not really talked about it publicly but you are right, when they contacted me on the days leading up to being on Fox news, the enthusiasm they had and the excitement they had seemed to suggest it was going to be a positive conversation. Those people who have been in the media and done interviews know what I’m talking about here. When you are speaking from a remote location, I went to the Fox studio in Charlotte, not Fox46 but they’ve got another small studio where they do feeds to New York. You’re in a room that is very small, and you are just looking at the camera. You can’t see what’s taking place on Fox news, you have an ear piece in so you can hear the individuals that are talking, and then the producers and the behind the scenes technology gurus, they can talk to you as well, so they’re telling you, okay, you’re going to be on in twenty seconds, you can hear the commercials and the people on Fox talking to each other, and then they will give you a countdown, five, four, three, two , one boom and I was really expecting a cordial conversation, God and country, but they threw it out there by saying, this is creating outrage, is this a display of patriotism or what? I’ll tell you what, here is a lesson for everyone and this really sunk in, I wish I had had this Roosevelt Bible knowledge before we did the flag thing.
GM: I thought that’s what sparked it for you?
RV: I didn’t know about it. If I had known about that bible, I would have brought it on Fox news with me but here’s the lesson, when something is right and you step out and do it, even if you do not have all your ducks in a row, even if you don’t have all your research that could really help you, the reality is, if it’s right, it will prove itself to be right in the end.
As soon as we did it, even though the media was casting it as an outrage, we tracked the number of comments coming in on Facebook, on our church message lines. Seventy-five percent of the people were thumbs up, God and country all the way and twenty-five percent were vehemently against it. They were militant in some cases, very threatening.
I think for the left, a lot of times they try to say conservatives have phobias. Let’s say you don’t agree with the issue of homosexuality, the left say, it’s not that you have a certain ethic that you are trying to uphold, no, no, it’s not that, you’re a homophobe. There’s a fear there. But when you step back and look at it, the ones who act the most fearful are the ones who are pushing the progressive agenda, and I think there is a legitimacy to the fear. That is, if the American people were to wake up to such things as the Roosevelt bible, and if the people would stand up to the courts as times, I think the left knows it’s game over, because now you have unleashed the sentiment of the majority, the power of the people, and the reality is, even though they claim to be the people’s party, the last thing they want is for the people to act on their power, their freedom of choice.
GM: Say an activist judge issues an opinion that was against one’s religious beliefs, and on the grounds of freedom of speech and freedom to practice our religion, you refuse to carry out an order that was against the US constitution. Here’s a question, would that be patriotic or not? You would be saying, no judge, you have issued an illegal order that I will not carry out.
RV: It’s like the old revolutionary war slogan, defiance to tyrants is obedience to God. Even the bill of rights, everybody knows the right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but then just a few lines below it the more relevant and important line of the declaration of independence for our time, is the notion that when any government becomes destructive to these ends, those ends being life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it says, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it. Then it goes on to say that, (and we are living prove of this,) although history has proven that people are more willing to suffer evils while they are tolerable than to right the wrongs to which they have come accustomed. The declaration itself says that, we have the unalienable rights from God and that is what gives us the authority at times to say no to the authorities. I remember watching a debate between a conservative judge and Cuomo on CNN, and Cuomo kept saying, come on judge, our rights don’t come from God, they come from people, let’s be practical about this, it was interesting that they never got to the crutch of the conversation, it’s not about so much the law written on paper, it’s about the ideology behind the law. If you’re ideology is that the only authority in life is the human authorities over you, what are you going to do when there are tyrants? What are you going to do when they’re wrong? But if you believe there is a higher authority and it is that higher authority that gives you the ability to ascertain whether those human authorities are right or wrong based on what you know of the higher authority, then not only does it give you that ability to ascertain what they’re doing is right or wrong, it also gives you the legitimacy to stand up and say no to them.
Here is a great irony of our culture and our day and age, take our current governor Cooper, the left, in order to, and one of the reasons why they win is because they are more tenacious at fighting. When Cooper did not like amendment one, he flat out said, I am not going to obey the law, I am not going to enforce the law, and he’s governor. Why is he governor? Well, he who dares wins. His base knows that when push comes to shove they hammer down. But when conservatives come down to that, they haven’t been willing to take that same strong stand.
GM: I don’t know if the conservatives and the outspoken part, the rebel conservatives always go together but we do need more outspoken conservatives who can articulate the message in a healthy, positive way and to influence people.
RV: And the reality is, heck I don’t agree with myself a lot of the time, so I don’t expect any one else to agree with me all the time.
GM: So, you flew the Christian flag over the American flag and you’ve written this great book Reformation and Responsibility, and also you have another book coming out shortly.
RV: It is supposed to be out but you know how that is, but the book is called God Before Government, and here’s the issue in that, we tell people to pay attention to the words because the words are important. It’s not God before country, because we love our country, and we respect our government but when you sit down and look at it from a biblical perspective, old and new testaments, any time a human authority asks you to dishonor your commitment to God, your commitment to God has to trump your obedience to that human authority.
GM: But what about my family, what about my pension, what about my pay check? Those are questions you will hear. Our commitment to Christianity is not necessarily about what is practical, it’s about what’s right. There was no bigger rebel than Jesus Christ.
RV: Yeah, and that’s the point, if you stop and think about it, what sent Jesus to the cross? It was civil disobedience. Had he simply tolled the line with his teachings and respected the temple in Jerusalem and the leading Pharisees in the local synagogues in the area, had he simply fallen in line with them and marched to their orders, he would never have gone to the cross.
GM: The people that were worried about their lives were the people who denied him.
RV: Which is hard for us as humans, he is the lord and he demonstrated that kind of courage and conviction doing always those things that pleased the father. We are human beings and even though we may have the zeal and courage of a Peter that at one moment says, look, if everyone abandons you I will die with you, but in twenty-four hours we can find we’re denying him three times in a row and that’s our human weakness.
GM: The real question for me is, what you do as a Christian when you carry out orders of the court, orders of the government that go against everything that Christianity is, is that what you do?
RV: Certainly different scenarios require different responses, should there be limits to religious freedom? Everybody would say yes. Should we be able to go out and sacrifice animals? No. So, we believe there should be a limit to religious freedom. You don’t have a blank check to say, well this is what I believe theologically and so therefore I have the right to do it, this is what my God says. No, that would be chaos. The question that we are wrestling with today isn’t what are the limits of religious freedom? The question we’re wrestling with today is, what are the limits of secularism?
To what extent does secularism have the right to go into the public school system, to go into private businesses and into every nook and cranny of society and say, this is my domain and if you are going to play here, then you are going to check your religious beliefs in at the door?
The question is, rolling back the over reach of secularism, we have well defined the limits of religion in this country.
GM: Sure, and I think anybody is saying look, you’re not saying everybody has to belief a certain thing, or do it a certain way just because you do that, we now no longer have the right to do it a certain way.
RV: The brilliance of the founding father’s statehood and having differences of opinion and practice, one state to another is part of the solution. The longer we go down this road of a zero sum gain, winner takes all with respect to ethics and society in America is a recipe for complete disaster.
GM: It is a recipe for disaster, revolution and chaos. I want to say the Roman empire had a similar end with vast corruption and pushing secular agendas.
RV: Let people live and let live. Most conservatives, most evangelicals I know here in North Carolina, they have no desire to tell people in California, or New Hampshire what to do with their lives and how to live them, but at the same time they have no desire for the people of California and New Hampshire to tell us how we are going to live our lives.
Can we still come together for a larger common good with respect to finance systems and the military for the country? Sure, yes we can. But the more we try to push this winner take all approach into the most personal areas of our lives, such as religion, the more dangerous the course we are on as a nation.
GM: Thank you because who would have thought a southern Baptist minister could be such a rebel. You are so smart and articulate.
RV: I don’t know about that.
GM: I think you have definitely followed in the steps of Christ because I identify with that part of his life when I think about going against the system because that is hard to do. It’s hard for me to go against the system because I feel that pressure, I think about it at night, is this the right decision for different things in my life, those things where I decided to go against the grain. I think you are right, people who stand up and are bold enough to act how they belief will certainly energize people around them and more readily achieve their goals. Just like the governor of North Carolina.
RV: Exactly, he who dares wins. If you believe in your way of thinking and living, then give people the ability to do what they believe in and then in the end let’s see how it all pans out. I think that is a better approach. If any other state wants to take a completely different course from North Carolina, go at it, if you’ve got the votes, you’ve got the people, go at it. And if North Carolina wants to march to the beat of a different drum, great, we’ll check the results twenty-five years from now. Let’s see what the schools, families, finances look like and then we’ll compare.
GM: Families are in such trouble in the United States, it hurts my heart.
RV: This goes back to the whole notion of reformation and responsibility. The premise of it was that it’s not that God and society are responsible to the individual, individuals are responsible to God and to society starting with their families. So, where we needed that reformation in the sense of our responsibilities is all upside down right now. We act as though God owes the most dysfunctional individual something, and likewise, the larger society owes the most dysfunctional individual the right to be as dysfunctional as he or she wants to be.
If we start looking at it from the perspective of, we each have roles and responsibilities to play, my life is not my own, I should seek to honor something more than myself, than my own pleasures and my own desires, that starts with honoring God and then immediately spills over to honoring my family by fulfilling my responsibilities to my family. We have lost that.
We go to Jerusalem every year and I got my wedding ring in Jerusalem and is a great reminder of my wife Shannon, it says, my love, you are as beautiful as Jerusalem.
GM: Rit, I want to thank you for being on the show, it has been an honor and one of the most interesting conversations I’ve had.
Contact me if you have any questions. Elder Law is what we do!
I’m Greg McIntyre and I’m here with Evan Thompson who is not only the district commander for the American Legion but also our Post 82 commander at the local region chapter in Shelby North Carolina. I have the honor of being the judge advocate general and Evan is also my father-in-law.
It was the American Legions 98th birthday on the 15th of March 2017.
ET: We had our American Legion meeting to celebrate the 98th birthday of the Legion, and we also honored our women’s veterans as it is women’s veteran’s month.
GM: Women can now serve in combat on the front lines and in any area of the service.
ET: Many people do not know that women served in the revolutionary war and in the civil war. How they did it was they cut off their hair and dressed up as men because they were so passionate about what was going on. They ended up serving and fooled people for a while I’m sure, but today we’re talking about the American Legion and the many programs available because people need to know that we are not an organization that just sits around in our blue caps and does nothing.
First, I’d like to talk about our American Legion auxiliary. That’s not a program of the American Legion but they are a part of the American Legion family. The American Legion auxiliary consists of all the ladies who have ties to veterans. It can be through their husbands, fathers, or grandfathers and that will make them eligible to be part of the auxiliary.
GM: I wonder with so many women veterans, can their husband be a member of the auxiliary?
ET: No. Maybe one day, but not now. The auxiliary does a lot to help our post and also to help veterans on their own. Another part of the American Legion family are the American Legion Riders and we are currently in the process of creating an American Legion Riders chapter.
GM: That will be a biker’s club within the American Legion which will do fundraising.
ET: They raise millions of dollars every year, and they fund the legacy scholarship and a nursing scholarship.
The very first American Legion program that everyone in this area is familiar with is baseball. That is one of the biggest programs in the American Legion and serves the youth of the community and the nation. We are fortunate to host the American Legion World Series in Shelby North Carolina and we will have it for some time to come.
GM: It is a nice stadium too.
ET: The baseball program started in 1926 and since that time it has grown and grown. It promotes citizenship and sportsmanship throughout the nation and applies to these young men and boys. Before every ball game they recite an oath of sportsmanship and citizenship. Many professional baseball players played American Legion baseball. You’ve got to be good to play legion ball.
Another program that we’re really proud of is Boys State. In fact, your son, my grandson is going to be a delegate to the North Carolina Boys State which takes place June 18th through June 25th in Salisbury North Carolina at Catawba College.
So, what is Boys State? It is a program that teaches young men about government and how democracy works. During that week they are immersed in studying the government. They elect senators, they elect a governor and mayors of various cities because they are broken down into cities and the cities compete against each other.
This is not a political thing. Some people think this is political but it’s not. American Legion is apolitical which means we don’t support any particular candidate or party. Boys State is a tremendous program. If you go to a military academy it can really help you in your entrance to that academy, and looks good on any college application.
GM: My wife told me Michael Jordan went to Boys State.
ET: Michael Jordan did go to Boys State.
GM: Are you kidding me?
ET: I’m not kidding you. Michael Jordan went to Boys State, George Bush went to Boys State.
GM: It teaches how to run a government, the functioning of government and regardless of your politics you have to able to function within government, how to govern people and procedure.
ET: That’s right, they select a supreme court as well and have mock court. It is a great experience for a young man. At the end of the Boys State program, they select two young men to go to Boys Nation, and they will go to Washington D.C and spend another week immersed in federal government. They have to be at the top of their class in State but it is a really great experience. I wish I could have gone to something like that but I didn’t even know about it, however, one of my class mates who went to the Naval academy went to Boys State and he said it helped him tremendously and was one of the best experiences he ever had.
GM: Regardless if you want to go into politics, join the working government or become an attorney, it is a great experience.
ET: It helps you become a much better informed citizen.
GM: If you want to learn more you can go to ncboysstate.org.
ET: Another American Legion program is Operation Comfort Warriors. This is a program designed by the American Legion to assist soldiers who were either hurt in combat or have had some kind of medical issue. When they go into a hospital, usually they are away from home and the hospital doesn’t have the finances to provide everything that soldier needs, such as comfort items, recreation items, so the American Legion put together this program. Throughout the year they constantly put together comfort and recreational items for soldiers experiencing a medical difficulty, and that is nationwide. It is a great program and a lot of money has been put into it. Every dollar that is donated to Operation Comfort Warriors goes to those soldiers, there are no administrative costs associated with it, the Legion takes out nothing. So if you have a fund raiser and donate the money to Operation Comfort Warriors, all the money goes to the soldiers.
That brings me to a program called the National Emergency Fund. That was used quite recently on the coast of North Carolina when the hurricane came through and devastated all those houses, and helped in hurricane Katrina.
The American Legion provides funds to veterans and even to the American Legion Posts who got flooded out in a recent hurricane. All the funds donated to a fund go directly to the fund intended and are used to assist in times of disaster.
The current department Chaplain said that when he first became a Legion member, his house got flooded from a hurricane and someone told him he should apply for aid, and he said he had only been in the Legion a couple of months and had given nothing to them except a twenty dollar membership fee, but he was encouraged to apply and right away got a check for fifteen hundred dollars. He said afterwards he felt he wanted to pay back the Legion and is now the department Chaplain of the North Carolina American Legion.
A program our post really pushes is the High School Oratorical Contest. This is what that consists of; any high school student who prepares an eight to ten-minute oration about the constitution or some area of the constitution, and gives this presentation in front of the American Legion Post in their area and win the competition there, go forward to a district contest where all the post winners from the district compete and a district winner is selected. That winner then goes to the division level. If you win the division level, you go to the state competition. In the state competition there are five divisions in the state, so five individuals competing to win the North Carolina Oratorical Contest. If you win that level, you go to the national contest. Last year we had a young man called Gabe Turner go all the way to the national competition level.
You have to prepare those orations and then you do a three to five minute presentation on one of the amendments to the constitution. That is a fine program and is very competitive but the winner of the national competition gets an eighteen thousand dollar scholarship ($18,000). If you come in second, I believe it is a sixteen thousand dollar scholarship ($16,000), and third place gets a fourteen thousand dollar scholarship ($14,000).
It is well worth doing and we need a lot more people to get involved in it.
GM: I have been lucky enough to be a judge at the local level a couple of times.
ET: That’s right. We have another program which is not very well known, it’s called Temporary Financial Assistance. There is a lot of requirements in order to qualify for this program. Let’s say a veteran gets in a real financial bind, and it does have to be a veteran, maybe they can’t pay the rent or electric bills or whatever, they can apply to the American Legion for Temporary Financial Assistance. The qualifications are: 1- there must be a child in the house, because it is geared around the idea that we are trying to take care of youth. 2- You must have tried every other avenue for financial assistance before the American Legion will qualify you for any financial assistance.
Other programs that you as an American Legion member can be involved in, quite often when people join the American Legion, they say what’s in it for me? When you join the American Legion, you should have the attitude of, what can I do for another veteran. We really need to push that concept because it is so important.
What do members get for paying their Legion dues? They get the opportunity to give back to other veterans, to the community and to the youth.
One really good program is a discount program for Legion members. Another part of the American Legion family is called Sons of the American Legion. We don’t have a Sons of the American Legion chapter associated with our post but many posts do. Some of these benefits are available to the auxiliary as well.
GM: You can get discounts on travel and lodging, Best Westerns.
ET: Moving and relocation and veteran’s holidays. What that means for you is, you have to search for availability, if you don’t do that it can cost you a little more but typically you can go to a resort for seven days and nights for a total of $349 to $369 dollars. If you don’t use it, that same resort can cost anywhere from $700 to $2000 depending upon the amenities available.
GM: The Wyndham Hotel Group is part of that too.
ET: Wyndham has beautiful facilities. There is another program called the Legion Insurance Trust where every member of the American Legion is given a free one thousand dollar ($1000) accidental death policy.
That is most of the programs that we associate ourselves with.
GM: So there is a ton of advantages to joining the American Legion, and they do a lot of charitable work.
ET: Absolutely. We also have members who are in nursing homes who we visit and get them Christmas gifts every year and we participate in the local Christmas parade to get people to be aware that we exist. On April 9th there is a military extravaganza at Shelby high school from 1pm and go through out the rest of the day and into the night, everyone should be aware of that if you are a veteran. There is a free concert, speakers, a celebration and a multitude of activities. There will be a big escort by the Sheriff’s Department of veterans from downtown to Shelby high.
GM: If people are interested in joining the American Legion what do they do?
ET: There are all kinds of ways to do that. If you have questions you can call me, my number is 704-600-6075 and I will be glad to help with membership or with your questions. You can also visit our post on meeting nights and have an idea of what we do. We meet on the second Monday night of each month and our post is located at 1628 South Lafayette Street in Shelby.
There is a post in Kings Mountain, Henrietta, Forest City and that post is up nearer Rutherfordton, and in Chimney Rock. I believe Cleveland County has over eight thousand veterans and currently our post membership is around two hundred and forty, so we would love to have you a part of American Legion Post 82, and at every meeting we have a meal for five dollars.
GM: I would love to see the younger guys joining the Legion.
ET: That’s right, we need the younger veterans because the American Legion members are slowly dying out. It is not being rejuvenated at the pace it ought to be. The last information I had was we may drop below two million members this year.
GM: If you are coming out of the military and trying to figure out civilian work, come to the American Legion and figure it out. Thank you Evan talking with me about the American Legion.
ET: You are welcome.
If you have any questions you can contact my office at 704–259–7040.
I’m Greg McIntyre and I’m here with Hayden Soloway and David Rose who is Hayden’s cousin.
So, Hayden, what do you know about your cousin’s military service?
HS: Mostly what he sent me. David was older than me so he was a BMOC before I went to high school. He was well known among the students, fantastic baseball player, he had a status there. He was someone I admired from a distance, so I am interested to hear about his service.
GM: What’s BMOC?
HS: Big man on campus.
GM: I’m sorry I did not know that. I’m looking at a picture here of an L20 U6A Beaver. So, you were in the Air Force?
DR: No, I was in the Army.
GM: You went from BMOC to being in the Army, to working on flying Beavers in the Air Force? But the Army had them too?
DR: Right. The Army and Air Force had Beavers, the Air Force called them U6A Beavers and the U stands for Utility. It could hold six people or you could take all the back seats out and fill it up with cargo. DeHavilland built it in Canada and initially was used by bush pilots for people going in and out for fishing expeditions. Most had floats so they could land on water. Their strength was being rugged, very dependable and could get into areas where there wasn’t much room for take offs and landings.
GM: And you were a tech inspector? What does a tech inspector do with a U6A Beaver?
DR: When I joined the Army, I joined for the aviation or to be an aviation mechanic because my brother Joe was in the Air Force and he guided me towards the aviation part. I did like airplanes and was also mechanically inclined. So, we went for basic training to Fort Jackson, South Carolina for eight weeks and then to Fort Worth, Alabama for mechanic school. The Vietnam war was just getting cranked up.
GM: What year was that?
DR: I went in August of sixty-three. I know we were there when Kennedy was assassinated, so right up to end of March nineteen-sixty-four. All of us at the graduation of aviation school were going to be sent to Vietnam, and I didn’t want to go to Vietnam, so a friend and I went around to some of the other branches, the Rangers, Special Forces, the guys who jump out of airplanes, not thinking that they would be the first ones to be sent to Vietnam. But we were turned down, so we were all sent to our facilities and I went to Fort Riley, Kansas.
GM: I have a question for you. You were a baseball player, what was your position?
DR: I played short stop, third base and left field. I had a paper round and I’d gone out for the American Legion team and had someone substitute for my paper round, and my dad came out to the field and said, Dave you need to be working, so I didn’t get to play. I played in the Army, that was where I really played baseball.
GM: So, you come out of high school, you know you are going to be drafted and you get ahead of the game by joining up, is that correct?
DR: Well, I went to college in fifty-eight at Marion College in Marion, Indiana. I lasted up until Christmas and I had a stomach problem so I came home. I worked back in Shelby, then in sixty-one to sixty-two I went back to college and then came back and knew I was going to be drafted. Initially, I wanted to go into the Navy into the nuclear submarine program, and the Navy recruiter had taken me to movies and basketball, and lunch and dinners and I was sure I was going in, and then the USS Thresher sank. I think they had two nuclear submarines sink in that era, so the night before they were supposed to pick me up and take me to Columbia, I called and said I’m not going. So, I joined the Army to get in the aviation program.
Your question was about the tech inspector.
‘GM: It was but you’re coming from Shelby, North Carolina, you’ve been to college then join the Army and go to boot camp, how was that experience?
DR: It was wonderful. In high school I was in the band, and in the band you march, in the Army you march. At Fort Jackson we were put in a company. We were in the presence of the Drill Instructors and they took us upstairs into a barracks, beds two high, and said, we need to get these beds lined up. Well, nobody really wanted to do it, so I said, come on guys we need to get this done because we have to do it, then we can go off. This Drill Sergeant was on the stairs listening and heard me for lack of better words, take charge, and for that and the fact that I knew how to march, I was made a squad leader. I didn’t have to do KP, I didn’t have to do guard duty, I didn’t have to do any of the functions the others had to because I was their leader.
GM: I had a similar situation in boot camp where I was the A-Rod, and that was the second in command of the division and that person marches everyone around. I was a young kid from the South, we were in Chicago, Great Lakes for boot camp and I could sing and I got fed up with people messing up the first week so I stepped up, and that gave me rank coming out and leadership possibilities and got me off certain duties.
DR: Squad leader had what we called ‘acting jacks,’ which were bands on our arms with corporal stripes on them so they were temporary. I still have those.
GM: So you enjoyed boot camp? I did too. Most people don’t say they enjoyed boot camp.
DR: I may not have enjoyed it as far as what everybody else had to do, KP, guard duty and things like that.
GM: You graduate from there, then what?
DR: Fort Rucker, Alabama Aviation School and then to Fort Riley, Kansas. We were supposed to be able to work on the airplanes when we graduated as the school was thorough and I was first in my class at tech. There was a guy there from Florida and he had gotten an air frame and engine degree from Emory University and we were just neck and neck the whole time, I was first he was second, he was first I was second. In the final exam, the question he missed which put me in first place was, if the engine has fluctuating oil pressure what does it cause? And it had, low oil levels, bubbles in the oil which was the answer, and I think he answered low oil which gave me first, that was one of my claims to fame.
GM: How did you get assigned to a squadron of Beavers?
DR: At Fort Riley we were just mechanics. We weren’t assigned any particular airplane. The unusual thing at Fort Riley was there were a number of civilian mechanics and those mechanics didn’t want us Army guys infringing on their time, they didn’t want us to take their jobs, so we did other things. I shot on the rifle team for special troops, I played baseball for special troops, I drove the jeep for the company commander and hardly ever worked on an airplane until orders came to go to tech inspectors school at Fort Eustace, Virginia. From tech inspectors school I was sent to Korea and that’s where the Beavers were. My airplane was five-one-one-six-eight-four-zero (5116840), it was Army green and later on they started camouflaging them with tan, green, blue and things like that.
In Korea, basically all we had at our facility were Beavers and the L19 which was called the Bird-Dog which was a two seater single engine aircraft, one person in front and one in back. We had a lot of Beavers and Bird-Dogs, and on the other side we had helicopters. I just became infatuated with the Beavers and choose the aircraft to be mine. Finally, I was made crew chief of that airplane. The funny things is, when they flew my airplane they would say, why does your airplane fly faster than the other ones we fly, something like seventeen hundred and fifty (1750) rpms for cruising, and there would be an indicator for speed and it might be ten to twelve miles an hour faster than another one, and I said, I wax the leading edge of the rails. At the school, TBAVN7 technical bulletin aviation seven says, you do not wax airplanes, and I said, I know that, they said, TBAVN7 says you don’t wax them, and I said, why does it say it, you don’t need to know that, that’s the law. Instead of waxing the airplane, I just waxed the leading edge of everything, the landing gear, the wings and it made it fly faster.
GM: Do you know why you can’t wax an airplane?
DR: I don’t because TBAVN7 said you can’t.
GM: How was your duty in Korea?
DR: Korea was good. The thing about being in aviation is you always have to be close to an improved facility. You have to have water, electricity, air compressors, whatever you do in the field. We did on occasion have to bivouac like the regular soldiers, once or twice a year. There was a grass strip behind the hangar and we would pitch our tents there and they would come over and drop flour bags to simulate bombs and bring food out to us, so that was our tough living.
GM: Did you have any experiences in Korea that were memorable?
DR: Yeah, one of them is tough. At my base I was crew chief and they sent me down to Daegu to a facility that was a Korean Air Force base with the US Air Force and the US Army. In that facility we would take the airplanes apart, disassemble them. You have to do this every few years, or after so many flying hours, then check everything, put it back together.
GM: Did you ever put it back together and were left with one part?
DR: No, there were no left over parts. So, it was payday on the last day of the month in September sixty-five, and the Koreans on the other side had just finished rebuilding an F80, the T33 which is the trainer version and carries two people. Well a Korean guy came in my office and said, Rose, they’re about ready to test the T33, you wont to go fly in a jet? I said, yes I do. I got my helmet and was all ready to go and they left me by myself as the airplane was gone through and I thought I probably shouldn’t go, so I said, tell them to go on, maybe some other time. In about twenty minutes there was sirens and all hell broke loose. The plane had taken off and was supposed to make a left turn after take-off but instead it took a right turn and crashed into a mountain and the pilot was killed of course. I called my headquarters and told them what had happened. They brought the pilot down and someone who was there said, glad you didn’t go. By doing my duty and staying there it saved my life.
GM: That’s a powerful story. Glad you didn’t make that flight.
DR: Exactly. That was the worst thing that happened. Everything else was wonderful.
The good thing is, and I like to tell this story, all the planes I worked on or inspected, I never had one that couldn’t take off when it was supposed to, couldn’t complete its mission or had to make a forced landing. That was perfect, I like that.
GM: And as a tech inspector that’s your job to make sure the aircraft works properly.
DR: If you were to work on say, the prop, or do something with the end of the flight controls, that’s known as a safety flying condition, I had to go behind you and look at your work and then sign off on it by signing my name that everything was okay. When you sign your name, you really want to make sure everything was okay.
GM: How long were you in the Army?
DR: Three years.
GM: During that time you played baseball?
DR: That was when we couldn’t work on airplanes because of the civilians, I had nothing else to do and I was on the special troops baseball team.
GM: And you got paid to play on the special troops baseball team?
DR: Well, Army pay, yes, and we were undefeated, but I hurt my knee sliding, and I hurt my hip sliding so I decided I wasn’t going to slide anymore. I was so fast I could steal second base and not slide.
GM: So, you go to Korea, work on the U6A Beaver and you had a spotless track record there and an eye for perfectionism and being meticulous which I guess you have to be. Then you come out of the military, where do you go in civilian life?
DR: Well, there’s still Vietnam. When I came back from Korea, I was sent to Fort Belvoir, Virginia as a tech inspector. They were starting a new aviation company in Thailand and I was the only single unmarried tech inspector at Fort Belvoir, so I got volunteered to go to Thailand for four hundred and twenty days TDY (temporary duty). I think I sent Hayden a copy of the letter of commendation that I got for two engine changes, which is pretty technical on U6As. One night in the company area, one of the Captains said, Rose pack your bags for ten days we’re going to Saigon, and go to the supply sergeant and get yourself a pistol. I’d never shot a pistol before in the Army, and the supply Sergeant said, are you qualified to fire one of these? I said, no, and he said, well, you can take the pistol but I can’t give you any ammunition, so I said, what do I need a pistol for if I don’t have any bullets? One of the Captains said, here I’ve got bullets for everyone, and he had a whole flack bag full of bullets and we got on the airplane.
The deal was, we were flying two airplanes to Saigon and leaving one there. There was another plane that came in from Corpus Christi Texas in a box. It had been delivered to Saigon and we went over to put it together, test fly it and fly it back to Thailand. It took us ten days to do that. I didn’t get out of Saigon to look around but it was a pretty place. One night I was on the roof of the USO building watching a movie called ‘The Ugly American,’ and while we watched that movie you could hear in the distance, boom, boom, from the sound of artillery, it was an unreal situation. That was my Vietnam experience.
Another thing, there was this fellow I knew who was a helicopter mechanic at Fort Eustace and we got word that he was killed in an accident in Colorado. When we pulled up after landing in Saigon, there was a guy giving us the signals to come in and it was that guy, it was fake news. I said to him, hey you’re supposed to be dead, and he said, what? I said, we got word you were killed in an accident in Colorado. It was obviously false news. He came up to me later and said, would you like to go out on a mission tonight as a gunner on a hughey, that’s the UH1 helicopter that they used in Vietnam and I said, yeah, that sounds like fun, then I started to think, if I’m shooting at somebody they’re probably going to be shooting back at me, so I declined.
HS: I didn’t realize you had that many decisions to make. I thought you went where they told you to go?
GM: I always tell people this, anything you have in the civilian world, the military has it. We interviewed a guy recently called Martin Mongiello and he had been to hotel management school in the Navy and was a cook in the Navy. He ended up cooking at the White House and Camp David. Anything you want to do in the civilian world you can learn in the military and they will pay you for it. I could have come out of the Navy working on electronics or aviation electronics. I could have gone private sector and come back as a contractor or gone to work for Boeing or someone like that. I decided on a different direction. So, what did you do when you got out of the military?
DR: I should have continued in aviation but I didn’t. I went to work for a life insurance company in Virginia. My Dad was in the insurance business all his life so he sort of lead me that way, but I knew quite quickly that that wasn’t for me. I started in August of sixty-six until May of sixty-seven, when I started working for Nabisco and worked there until seventy-nine. That was a good job, it was very labor intensive. Then I worked for a company out of St Louis, Missoura, and then worked for Panasonic from eighty-four until ninety-one.
GM: So, how do you think the military shaped your life?
DR: My job as a tech inspector gave me more confidence. I thought when I came out I was a changed person. I was more confident, I interacted with people better and I seemed to grow up I guess you would say. It did me good.
GM: It is amazing the responsibility the military puts on the shoulders of young kids.
DR: I think every person should spend some time in the military, whether it be a year or two, I think everybody needs that experience.
GM: Get away from home, grow up a little bit, take more responsibility, you learn about yourself more than anything. Whether you stay in for the rest of your life or not is not relevant. You could but you don’t have to. You will carry that confidence with you, and you can learn it. I thought, these military schools are there for me to pass and do well if I put my time and effort into it and apply that to college or law school or anything, and you have the confidence to do it. I could live on my own without having to rely on my mom or dad all the time. Kids live at home now until they’re thirty.
HS: My grandson came out of the military an entirely different person. He was one of those who just got carried along through school and didn’t make great grades. He was first or second in the competitions he was in when in the military and just came out totally different. He’s goal driven and he wants to be a teacher and a coach. He never would have had the confidence or the inclination to do it otherwise.
GM: I think there is a misconception about being in the military. You can complete your education and come out with money and continue in further education. There is a lot of benefits to being in the military.
DR: Everything is available to you in the military, just pay attention and take advantage of what they offer you.
GM: I think getting outside of your town, whether you live in Shelby or a larger place it doesn’t matter, and learning that it’s a great big world out there. It adds to the way you think and how you see the world. That’s important.
DR: Going from Shelby, North Carolina to meeting someone from California is strange. And if you’re from North Carolina and you’re in Korea and meet somebody from Fayetteville, you think of them as brothers.
GM: I spent a lot of time in Asia when I was in the Navy and we went to South Korea but never made it out to where you were. We were in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and hit Australia a couple of times, and the Middle East we were at Bahrain, Abu-Dhabi and Dubai.
DR: So, you have seen the world.
GM: It’s an eye-opening experience just to get out of town and see the world. Thank you for talking with me today it has been a pleasure and thank you for your service.
I’m Greg McIntyre of McIntyre Elder Law. If you have any questions call our office at 704–259–7040.
This website is attorney advertising and does not establish an attorney-client relationship, which is only formed when you have signed an engagement agreement. We cannot guarantee results; past results do not guarantee future results.