A Mile in His Shoes – A Grandfather’s Due

A Mile in His Shoes – A Grandfather’s Due

I spent many years of my adult life as the source of my grandfather’s shoes. My grandfather was the man in my life. My dad was a bit of an absentee father, ‘nuff said about that. But “Popa,” as I called granddad, was always there. Where I grew up in the timber country of the Pacific northwest it was Popa who taught me the names of all the trees, which plants were good to... Read More

All at Sea – A Tale of Shipboard Romance?

All at Sea – A Tale of Shipboard Romance?

A Tale of Shipboard Romance?   She had one of those names that are so common in the Philippines, like Lucy or Linda. Maybe it was Dinah. I can’t remember. I met her on the Manila waterfront. True to what I had been told, she did look a bit of a tramp, and an older one at that. You might even have called her mannish for her shape. But she was a she to the core, as any good... Read More

The Richest Gift: April 30, 1975 Redux

The Richest Gift: April 30, 1975 Redux

I was still quite a young GI, but I had had a full combat tour in Vietnam, and that was more than enough, when in the Spring of 1975 I was sent back in as a member of the expeditionary force tasked with extracting the South Vietnamese government, their dependents, and many thousands of fleeing civilians. All was disorder on April 30, and our efforts were reduced to ad lib and impromptu,... Read More

The Looking Glass Sea – A Rescue

The Looking Glass Sea – A Rescue

A Rescue Most Ironic On the light cruiser USS Oklahoma City, we were crossing the Java Sea. We were bound south for Jakarta that morning. The equatorial waters were so warm and still that we seemed to be on some quiet pond rather than the furthest reaches of the Pacific. Only our ship disturbed the glassy water. In the distance, clouds rose and formed, and metamorphosed and puffed... Read More

The Dragon and Me: How I Quit Smoking and Survived The Bomb

The Dragon and Me: How I Quit Smoking and Survived The Bomb

AT SEA, TUESDAY, 20:00 HOURS: Smoking a last cigarette before turning in I called the Messenger of the Watch on the bridge. “This is Petty Officer Sterling,” I said, “in compartment Bravo-37-87. I need a wake-up call at 03:30 tomorrow morning.” “Why so early?” the messenger asked. “You got some early lookout?” “Yes,”I lied. Then... Read More

Dinner at the Fall of Saigon – April, 1975

Dinner at the Fall of Saigon – April, 1975

They were hungry at the Fall of Saigon At the mouth of the Soirap river I stood on the fore deck and watched the sun come up on the last day of the long conflict the Vietnamese have come to call “the American War.” It was to be the Fall of Saigon. It was the most beautiful dawn I had ever seen before, or since. Still air hung warm and moist and soft. A thick, creamy... Read More