From Babbitt to Baghdad ( Chapter 1 )

From Babbitt to Baghdad

Chapter 1

A childhood in the deserts and mountains of Nevada   (freedom defined) 

My Father met my  mother in 1956 while stationed in Germany . His USAF radar unit was stationed at an old Luftwaffe airfield at Erding, Germany. My mother still lived at the farm outside of Hoenpolding which was 10 kilometers away. She worked at the base cleaning the billeting units. She rode her bicycle the 10 kilometers to and from work everyday. My father met her at a dance in Erding. Unlike many of the German women after WWII who gave into US soldiers, my mother would give Milton the full “no” treatment. Milton would not take “no” for an answer and became a pest. After a while, Rosina invited him to the family farm. The farm had been in the family name for over 300 years. My mother’s father had served as a German cavalryman on the Western Front for all of WWI. He was also a conservative senator during the Weimar Republic. When Adolf Hitler took over in 1933, Opa Zep would not take the oath to Hitler. The farm would then be taken by the Nazi party. Opa Zeppie would go into hiding and later spend time at Dachau concentration camp along with utter thousands of German WWI veterans that supported the Kaiser.

My mother had 6 sisters and 1 brother. The farm was 80 hectares and grew hay for their milk cows. The farm was carved out of the lush and green Bavarian countryside. The winters were cold and white, but the summers were warm and conducive to farming. The clouds would roll off the Bavarian Alps and deposit rain pretty much every single day. Then the clouds would give way to the sunshine. Like clock work, it would rain an hour or two and then turn shiny and warm.  

The cows would be pastured during the day. Later in the day, a bell would be wrung and the milk cows would head for the stalls for fresh hay and milking. During the 1930s in Bavaria, there were no milking machines. The 6 girls would manually extract the milk from the massive and healthy cows while they ate their fresh grass or hay. When Opa Zep would not take the oath to Hitler, the farm was nationalized and the family forced to live with relatives or friends. In lieu of eating healthy as a byproduct of farming, the family was reduced to poverty.Rosina and her twin sister Magdalena would suffer the effects of malnutrition as infants.     

My father was a very intelligent man and quite a talker. He learned how to speak German  quickly and fluently.  He loved to talk of the farm and Germany. Whenever we revisited Germany later in his life, he would speak good German everywhere we went.  If the schnitzel was good, he always had the waitress bring the cook to the table.

He would then compliment the cook in German. Many times they would  reciprocate by giving him a free tall glass of beer and telling him to keep the beer glass.

My mother’s China cabinet was full of German beer mugs and glass. Germans love it when an American actually takes the time to learn German and speak it well. During Vietnam, my father would send my mother tape recordings in German because she could not read and write English well if at all.

My father loved Germany. He loved skiing in the Bavarian and Austrian Alps. He loved the people, the food, and his newly acquired relatives. My parents would be married in an old German Catholic Church in Bavaria in 1957. My sister would be born on Amarillo Air Force Base, Texas in1958. I would be Born May 4th ,1960 at Westover, Air Force Base three days after Francis Gary Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union. I would get my middle name Andrew from my Grandfather. He was named Andrew Jackson Brodhead. He was named after president Andrew Jackson. My Gret Grandfather on the American side would be named Andrew Douglas Brodhead after Andrew Jackson and  Senator Stephen Douglas.  My Great Great Grandfather would be born in 1824 and be named Andrew Jackson Brodhead as well. Brodheads had been Democrats since the rise of Jacksonian Democracy.  Today, the great Democratic party does not exist. It has become the Democratic Socialist party. The party of wealth redistribution, intolerance, a corrupt and worthless higher education system,  the government takeover of health care, neo-moral relativism, gender confusion, celebrating sodomy,  division, anti-cop, elevating racism, and a plethora of downright liberal stupidity. They are anti-Christianity here in America while supporting  Islamic immigration. Islam, the religion of intolerance, sodomy with little boys, 8-year-old virgin weddings to old men, beheadings, stoning, zero women’s rights, amputation for low-level crimes, death for homosexuals, and terrorism. The utter lack of cohesive logical thought application is simply staggering.   

My father taught me to respect the pillars of society like police officers, and teachers. I never judged my parents for their positions on morality. Today, liberals have adopted neo-moral relativism positions on everything. They challenge folkways and morays of 10,000 years. Then they are intolerant of other people’s belief systems.  Some even feel sorry for their parent’s morality and belief system.  They feel that they are enlightened while the 1970s free love baby boomer generation is obsolete. Aided by social media, many in our society have become thought police. They expect others to fall for the stupidity that they have fallen for.   American exceptionalism has been replaced by $700 Chines made smartphones, a bus ticket, and THX-1138 lemming-like mind control.     

The marriage to a German Catholic woman would not go over too well with Milton’s family. They were New Hampshire Methodists that had live in New Hampshire since 1800.  Congressman John Brodhead would be accredited for bringing Methodism to New Hampshire in 1800. He would hold the same congressional seat as Franklin Pierce. The Brodhead and the Pierce family would be close friends and inter- marry.  Thorton Flemming Brodhead would be Franklin Pierce’s cousin and they would serve in Mexico together. 

Laconia, New Hampshire was the place that the book and TV series Peyton Place was based on. 

The Brodheads were from British Imperialist stock dating back to 1664. The progenitor of the family Captain Daniel Brodhead I was from Yorkshire England. He would come to America as part of the Nichols Expedition.He would be “second in command” and led the 400 British troops that disembarked Man-O-Wars and took control of New Amsterdam away from the Dutch. New Amsterdam would then be called New York and English speaking rule established.    

After Westover, the family was stationed at Glasgow Air Force Base, Montana. Then we would move to Babbitt, Nevada the summer of 1963. A few months later, John Fitzgerald Kennedy would be assassinated. I was only 3 years old at the time, but my dad told us later that Kennedy’s assassination was a traumatic event. I was the same age as John junior, and my sister was the same age as Caroline  Kennedy. The Kennedy “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech was close to my mother’s heart.

Our first trip back to Germany was in 1965, We would fly on a Pan Am jet across the ocean to Paris and then on a piston engined prop job to Frankfurt. Even at 5 years old, I remember the noisy engine.

Babbitt, Nevada was a Federal housing project that was built to house the Hawthorne Naval Ammunition depot employees. When it was built, it was actually a segregated until the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Hawthorne Naval Ammunition depot is the largest ammunition storage facility in the US and possibly the world.  The Babbitt housing housing project had streets that were named after US Naval ships. We lived at 1202 Lexington avenue. It was the last duplex unit on Lexington, avenue before Hawthorne proper at the time. The Strategic Air Command radar site my dad worked at was a block away. The radar site looked like two huge golf balls. It also sported other radar equipment that would fry birds when they flew by too closely. We did not have a phone. My dad walked to work a block.

The radar site was called the Detachment 12 of the 1st Combat Evaluation group. It also went by the Hawthorne bomb plot. B-52 aircraft would fly bomb routes across Nevada and simulate bomb releases over targets in Nevada. The radar site would track the aircraft while it engaged in electronic countermeasures and chaff dispensing. They would also score the bomb release point using radar, speed, triangulation, and winds. In 1966, Milton would be sent to Vietnam and direct B-52 strikes as part of “Operation Combat Skyspot.” The ground directing radar site would be called OL-25 in Dalat, South Vietnam.  The radar site sat on top of a hill that had been exfoliated with Agent Orange. The air conditioning system at the revetment radar trailer and other buildings would concentrate the Agent orange off-gassing. Many 1st Combat evaluation members that served at the site succumbed to physical ailments and schematic heart disease. As it was, the members of the 1st Combat Evaluation Team, increased B-52 bombing accuracy by 90%. They could put the bombs right along the fence line at the “Siege of Khe Sahn.”  They also bombed the hell out the Ho Chi Minh trail.

We had a black and white TV and only two stations. There was only CBS and NBC. Walter Cronkite was on CBS and Walt Disney was on NBC. I remember the Vietnam body count. The NBC peacock in black and white signaled that we were on the channel for Walt Disney. Which was on at 7 PM Sunday nights.  We always had to take baths before we could watch Walt Disney. At 8 pm, we had to go to bed while my father watched the FBI with Efrem Zimbalist jr. Sometimes we would get to watch the FBI during the summer months, otherwise, it was off to bed at 8 PM on a school night.

Atop the old refrigerator sat the AM radio.  It was white with big red knobs. It was a tube type radio and could only pick up one or two  AM stations. There would always be a moment of silence when Elvis came on. My German mother loved Elvis. In Babbitt, Nevada during the 1960s, the station only played country music. Rock and Roll could only be listened to on TV shows like Ed Sullivan. Nevadans were reactionary and thought rock and roll polluted the minds of children. My first rock and roll album was Neil Young  “Crazy horse.”  Then again, one could go to Reno and listen to FM.

I remember how my dad could actually fix a tube type TV or radio. He had attended the New Hampshire technical institute and studied electronics before he enlisted.  At the radar site, he was the NCOIC of operations. He was always training people. He could talk about every aspect of electronics and resite Ohm’s law to the fullest from memory. He also taught gun safety. later, he would have a part-time job cutting hair at the base BX. To save money, the enlisted would bring their kids to our house and get free hair cuts. It was always the same. Inevitably, the kids would all get the Milty cut of bleeding on the sides and short on top. After a while, many kids in the neighborhood had LBJ/Milty style crew cuts. I would be 12 years old when I finally said to hell with your crew cuts.

When the TV burned a tube out before “Old Yeller” or “The yearling” it was a family crisis. If it went out during Daniel Boone, Bonanza, and Gun smoke,  it was damn tragedy.  I remember my Daniel Boone coon skin hat and musket. Of course, this became a Daisy model 1895 Winchester bb gun. That in turn, became a Marlin 3030 or 12 gauge shotgun.

Babbitt, Nevada was a safe community. My sister and I would walk to school every day. Even at 5 years old, we would run all over the neighborhood.  All the parents knew who you were and where you lived. Even in a previously segregated community, everyone looked after the children regardless of color or ethnicity. We knew every family on every street by name. My father never spoke ill of other races, hence, I was not taught racism in the home. As an Air Force NCO, my father adhered to Martin Luther King’s position of judging people by “Content of character!” Milton spoke highly of folks that did their best. He had nothing but respect for hard working people. My mother never spoke ill of anyone.  

We had to be home at 5 pm for my mom’s good cooking. If one did not make it home at 5 pm, one would almost get the belt. Plus my mom would be pissed. My dad had a homemade belt made from a deer he had shot in the Belknap’s of New Hampshire. My 5-foot tall German mother new how to use it.  Her specialty was hitting the legs with the belt. As an ADHD psycho brat, I was used to the belt. Even the Mineral county school district teachers loved to beat on me. I cannot remember how many times Nevada teachers paddled my ass. Today, a kid that suffered from my level of ADHD would have been under severe medication. In Nevada, humiliation and the paddle got the job done.  The paddling only made me mentally tougher. Today, they medicate kids into submission.

The Mineral county Primary school was only a few blocks away. Mineral county only had one classroom per grade. I remember only  15 to 20  kids per class. My classmates were the sons and daughters of every military service, as well as , Federal employees and local whites, blacks, and Hispanics. I would attend school with the same classmates year after year.  I was the big mouth in the class with the Napoleonic complex. I was very small as a child. In fact, I did not make it past 5 feet until 10th grade. Today, I am close to 6 feet and 250 pounds with the Napoleonic complex of a 4 foot tall  65-pound 6th grader.

For a child, Babbitt had everything. We had a wooden baseball stadium complete with dugouts and a grandstand. We had a massive playground at the Safeway. We had fenceless massive tracts of desert and mountains to roam. There were no computers or violent video games.Children did not stay in the house and sit on their asses. Children went outside and ran amuck. We rode bicycles or walked for miles in the desert.  

The Safeway playground was 2 acres of grass, huge swings, a huge metal missile with three levels, a huge slide and a huge carousel. The swing set had to be 20 feet high with sturdy chains. One could literally swing the height of a house. The playground carousel was huge. If there were 5 or 6 kids on it, we could get it going so fast that the riders would get pinned to the side posts from centrifugal  force. So, as long as the kids kept spinning the carousel, one was pinned. This was predicated on kids of equal body weight on opposite sides of the carousel. Sometimes a big kid would show up and spin the carousel for several minutes. After awhile, the kids would be sick from dizziness and beg to be let off. In Babbitt, we had a designated big kid whose only purpose was to spin the carousel. He would become part of the “Babbitt Hall of fame” as the guy who could spin the carousel and make kids puke. Whenever there were kids at the park, it would only be a matter of minutes before he would show up to spin the carousel. Soon, we would get all the kids in the neighborhood to ride the carousel and let the big kid pin them to the posts like a fighter pilot in a G-force machine.  

The park swing was so large that we could put a wooden pallet from behind Safeway on it.  We would use two swing seats and expand them. Then we would put the wooden pallet between the seats. The spacing of the wood boards would lock it into place. Then, several kids could jump on it. So, 4 or 5 kids would be on this pallet swinging 12 feet in the air. Then like characters in “Lord of the flies,” we would try to knock each other off to see what happens when a seven-year-old gets ejected at 10 feet from the ground.

In the Babbitt housing project, there were playgrounds every few blocks.  Each had an awesome selection of playground equipment. One of the swing set areas was dominated by a 2-year old that always had a huge turd in his diapers. He was the spitting image of Bam bam. He once offered me a fist full of melted M&Ms that had been in his hand for an hour. He was always snotty nosed, dirty-faced with a baseball sized turd in his undies. By the end of the day, the diaper would actually be dragging the ground. Other than that, he was a gangsta and a dear friend.

The baseball stadium was the most epic, however. We had a huge covered grandstand, lights, a scoreboard, back stop, and real dug outs. The grass was green, and we even had a snack bar and game announcer over loud speaker. My first team was called the Dodgers. We had real blue and white baseball uniforms, and blue hats. That year, we were beaten by Paiutes from Schurz, the Black Aces. They had a little league pitcher that had the fastest curve ball in the state of Nevada. The next year, I was on the Naval base team and we were called the Stingrays. We beat both Schurz teams that year. That year, I became the catcher instead of an outfielder. Our teams were made up of every ethnicity and branch of service. Little league fosters belonging and team building skills. These style of inclusive activities are positive and nurturing for children in general.

When I was playing outfield, I remember having to cross my legs so I didn’t piss my pants. If we played a good team, I was stuck out there for days on end.  I once had a slight problem with my shit/fart diverter valve and sorted of soiled my nice Dodger uniform.

After school on the way home, I would often poop my drawers before making it to the bathroom at home. Upon reflection, the Mineral County School system’s salmon cake delight Tuesday was the culprit. The rich seafood fare was overwhelming for a 5-year-old’s system. Apparently, ADHD and salmon cakes did not mix well.  I would make it to the playground across the street from our house, walk like I had a stick up my ass and accidentally cut loose after a tremendous sphincter/colon battle that lasted blocks and blocks. As a last resort, I would sit on the swingset seat and ponder my next move. Inevitably, once I got up and my hands touched the gray galvanized handles of the slide, my sphincter would give up the ghost. I would engage in the throes of a grimacing pirouette as I filled the Fallon NAS PX “Fruit of the loom “ shorts with salmon cake poopoo parfait. Once I arrived home, my mother would know immediately that I had doodied myself again. She would yell out “stinken” in a heavy Bavarian accent. It was the Mineral County School system salmon cakes I tell ya!         

If we weren’t playing baseball or  hanging out at the Safeway park, we were playing in the tree line that circled the base and housing.Once we were tired of that, we would go lizard hunting in the desert or walk to Walker lake. A good Nevada lizard hunter knew all about Nevada lizards. In fact, there were dozens of different species that one had to out smart and hunt down. The easiest to catch were the “Horned Toad” or  “horney toad.” If one held them by the horns and let them dangle, they would do the cha cha. Next came the little gray sand lizards. Occasionally, we could catch a Western banded gecko. The next most common lizard was the  black Skank. The fastest lizard was the zebra tail. The biggest prize of them all was the Leopard lizard. They were huge and fast and could eat a sand lizard whole. I caught maybe one Leopard lizard and that was it. Back during the 1960s, there were copious flocks of Nevada Chukar and Quail at the foothills of Mount Grant. If they saw you, they could run up the side of a steep hill like nobody’s business. The desert was also filled with huge Jackrabbits and cottontail rabbits or rock bunnies.

Behind the base, there was a canyon called Cat creek. It had a huge damn that looked like a mini Hoover dam. In fact, it was built by the same company that built Hoover. We would sneak passed the locked fence, walk up the canyon road and play on the massive dam. In the winter, the ice would be several feet thick. We stayed off the ice entirely. When the water was released, the ice would cave in in big huge thick sheets.

A few times we were stupid enough to walk across the military firing range. We even picked up non-spent ordinance and threw them to see if they would explode. A friend in my class would later be killed doing the same thing.    

Soon, we would have horses and minibikes. My first mini bike was a Briggs and Stratton 2 horse power with no suspension. My dad bought it for $25. By then, we were living on the base at 400B Connolly drive. When I needed gas, I would simply ride it to the base gas station. Gas on the base was 20 cents a gallon, so a fill up was 10 cents. To get the money, I would go through the trash can outside the Marine barracks, Post exchange, or swimming pool snack bar, and look for coke bottles. It was either that or checking every vending machine or phone booth for left change. Back then, a coke bottle was worth a nickel. A nickel bought a big hunk or a box of lemon heads. 3 coke bottles meant a full tank of gas and a Hershey bar, 5th avenue or a handful of bubble gum or penny candy.

I remember when grape flavored bubble gum came out. One of my heroes was Bazooka Joe. On Friday and Saturday nights everyone would head to the drive-in theater. All the hot rod cars would be on display. The Jolly Cone was right next door and sold huge vanilla ice cream cones. It was the place to be after baseball games too.  Then there was having dinner at the El Capitan. Another enjoyable event was camping and fishing in the Sierra Nevada’s 50 miles away.  It was only a short drive to Mono lake, Lee Vining and the east portal of Yosemite and Tioga pass.

We started camping at June lake, Silver lake, and Grant lake, but the fishing at Lundy lake was much better and way closer to Hawthorne. Lundy lake had some of the best fishing anywhere.  There was good fishing on the lake, but the river below the dam was epic. We would catch stringer loads of German Browns.

Several families from the base would haul their travel trailers and tents for a 3 day weekend of fishing, barbecuing, and burned marshmallows. The Breck family had 8 kids. The other families might have had 2 or 3. Either way, there would be 15 kids with fishing poles and BB guns running a muck.

We would always make it back before the sun started to go down because, there would be a huge fire, plenty of tinfoil and lemons for the trout. Everyone would quickly clean the day’s catch. Then, the trout would be put onto a big piece of Reynolds wrap. The trout would get a piece of butter, fresh ground pepper, and a lemon slice. It would be sealed up and placed on the coals along with corn on the cob, and hot chocolate. After the trout meal, it was marshmallow time.

For an ADHD child, river fishing is a real treat. I mean, I could not wait until I had my fishing pole in hand. I knew exactly what to do and what to take. Within minutes of arriving at camp, my sister and I would be out of sight.I can still smell the new canvas of the Pup tent that I used. Back then, a Coleman sleeping bag was well made, well insulated, and made in the USA.

By the time the sun went down, all the kids were tired from running up and down miles and miles of pristine river. We did not care about the surface that we were sleeping on.In the morning, we would wake up to a huge breakfast cooked over an open fire. Then it was off to the river for another 12 hours running a muck.

The little town of Hawthorne, Nevada was surrounded by high desert. In the background and just a mile away was Mountain Grant. It rose quickly from about 4000 feet to 11,400 feet. Several canyon roads accessed the high valleys of Mount Grant. All one needed was the key to the gate, and one could drive to the top of the mountain. One year, a bunch of folks from Hawthorne and the Naval base got together and did a trail ride to the high meadows of the mountain. Dozens and dozens of horses were involved. At the time, we had two horses Chipper and Swinger. One was a brown and white gelding real Nevada cow pony and the other was a black and white mare. It took us two days of riding to reach the high mountain pasture area. Once there, the group availed itself to evening fires, tasty dinners and big early morning breakfasts. The camp cook had a huge cast iron griddle. He would cook everything over the fire, and feed over 20 people.

I was at a full gallop heading across a meadow when Chipper and I came upon a cattle loading trench. Chipper stopped immediately, and I went over his head and landed in the ditch on my back. I was OK. A cattle loading ditch is an angular cut into the earth so a truck can back into it and load cattle. Little britches rodeo would become a slight obsession. I had one of the fastest and most talented horse in Mineral County. Chipper could herd cattle, barrel race and pole bend like a champion. He could also carry a 250 pound man all day. We ended up selling him to a fella that lived by Lucky boy pass. The last time I saw him, he was standing in a foot of horse shit. That broke my heart. I still have anxiety about not being a better child and taking better care of this animal. I was a spoiled brat.  My parents did everything they could to shield us from the real world. Nevada was our little oasis. A place where children could run and play like there is no tomorrow.

I remember when Hot wheels and Hot wheel tracks came out. Soon, all the neighborhood kids would get together and build massive Hot wheel tracks. My dad had built a flat top garage next to the the federal housing duplex we lived in. He had just purchased a 1966 Ford Country Sedan with a 289. and a sand storm had ruined the paint job. So he built a garage to put it in. We would climb on top of it and build our Hot wheel track. By the time we had finished building the track, it would start on top of the garage and end across the yard, over the sidewalk and onto the street. It would have a huge loop and then a jump at the end. The only thing that would interrupt the racing event was my mom’s  home-made Kool-Aid popsicles.

One of the coolest thing one could do in the desert is find a car hood, a rope and attach the stuff to a dirt bike. One of the older kids in the town had a 400 Bultaco two-stroke. He would pull us across the desert. The shape of the  1940s Oldsmobile car hood allowed us to jump sagebrush. Most of the time, however, we just ate sand. A little later, I would get a Yamaha mini enduro and all hell would break loose. The foothills of Mountain Grant would become our playground. We would ride for miles and miles and miles and up every nook and canyon. There was a reservoir that stored all the water from the Cat creek dam on the foothills of Mount Grant.  All the diggings for the reservoir were scattered about and made a great dirt bike track. Some of the mounds of dirt were 50 feet high. Others were small natural jumps. I could launch my Yamaha mini enduro the length of a house. I would land so hard, it would break the frame. Another treat was riding up to the “H”. The “H” was a huge H letter that signified “Hawthorne.”  

On the base, we had a very nice football field with green grass. We rigged up a rope and sleeping bag combination. Then I would tow kids on the grass field with my mini enduro. I was raised on Evil Knievel, Mohamad Ali, Cowboy football, John Wayne, Jimmie Stewart, Charlton Heston, and every manner of western. The Cartwrights were part of the family.  Mark Twain was on the Nevadan’s reading list. 

My father was an avid hunter and sportsman. During the 1960s, the Walker lake water level was much higher. We would fish Navy beach at the South end of the lake. Back then, the water level at the treed area of Navy Beach was up to my chest close to the shoreline.Today, at Navy Beach, the area is covered with natural pasture land and the lake has lost 80 feet.  I remember when my father caught a 3 foot long Cutthroat trout. It was almost as long as the bath tub at our Babbitt duplex. It had swallowed the hook line and sinker, so we had no choice but to eat it. Back then, we caught trout right off the beach. Swimming at Walker lake was a love hate relationship. We loved swimming and fighting for an inner tube place, but if one ingested the water, one would puke because of the PH level.

Every year we would go deer hunting at the Ruby Marshes or behind Mount Grant. I took a hunter’s safety course when I was 10 years old. At 10, I was allowed to take a 12 gage shotgun, or .22 out in the desert. I shot my first and last deer at 10 years old.

The Hawthorne Naval Ammunition depot had a place where they threw away wooden boxes and pallets. Sometimes, my father would take his 63 Chevy ¾ ton step side truck and fetch copious fresh wood and huge shipping boxes for building tree forts. He would give us a huge bag of nails, a hammer, and a hand saw and send us on our way. Once we found a suitable tree, he would back the truck up and dump the wood on the ground for us. The treeline was littered with tree forts. I once built a three-story tree fort.  The Brecks built a huge tree fort out of a massive cargo container made of wood. They hoisted a 6 by 6 plywood shipping container at least 30 feet up the tree and secured it between four massive trunks of a tree. It was in a huge Cottonwood tree close to the Hawthorne dog pound. The tree was located at a 2-foot irrigation pipe that fed the entire tree line. The water came off of Cat Creek and Black Beauty reservoir. When the treeline was watered, the area around the massive cottonwood tree became a deep pond. So, the tree fort had a mote as well.

I was once captured by the Brecks and enslaved. So, Robert Brecks and I had to load up buckets of rocks for their ammunition and outfit the tree fort for long sieges. Alas, we came back later and attacked them with homemade slingshots made from rubber medical tubing. We also employed David and Goliath slings to attack the enemy. Of course, we were the youngest and smallest, so we would get our asses kicked when they caught us at the house.

When GI Joes came out, I begged my parents for a GI Joe with kung fu grip and lifelike hair. Instead of the GI Joe jeep, I had to settle for a faggie Ken-mobile. I cut that into a truck. My friends and I would set up elaborate breastworks in the tree line and man them with GI joes. It would look like a Vietnamese prison camp. Then we would blow up the GI Joes with black market firecrackers acquired from the Paiute Indian reservation. The battle would start with a few ladyfingers and progress to Black cats. During the final assault, we would break out the M80s and BB guns. If we found a Ken doll, he would get tortured until he told us the secret. He was then tied up and shot repeatedly in the face with Daisy BB guns. We were soldiers in training. A GI Joe could take a beating before it gave up the ghost. But then again, GI Joe always won the battle. Of course, I was always the German when we played war.  After Stalingrad, it was always over.

My favorite bike was a green 3-speed stingray with a banana seat and sissy bar. I outfitted that with a double canteen belt. I rode that bike all over Hawthorne, Babbitt and the base. I made a mistake and turned it into a chopper. A trashy neighborhood kid had welded two additional forks on his bike and put a tricycle tire on the front. I thought it was cool so I modified my beloved Stingray. After that, I could not ride in the sand at all.

When I was a toddler, I rode my tricycle towards Hawthorne from 1202 Lexington. I made it passed the radar site only to be picked up by Clarence the highway patrolman. He said, that I had my right blinker on and was about to turn onto highway 95 across from the airport.

I don’t remember our first dogs Nellie and Pawchie. Someone in Babbitt had poisoned them when we first came their. I do remember when we obtained Mitzi the cat. My mom climbed up a cottonwood tree to get her. She would be with us for over 20 years. Our first Dachshund was named Baron Von Cocktail. He had a crook in his tail. He hated me after I accidentally road over him with my bike. He would hang out with us in the treeline, but once we were at home, he avoided me like the plague. Our next door neighbor had a full sized dachshund named Alex. He must have been 30 pounds with a wonderful demeanor. He always hung out with us. He was hit by a car at his hind quarters when we came out of the treeline. I cried so hard. I can still remember how he was up on his front legs and looking at us for guidance. Everyone loved Alex.

As a child, I was very ADHD. I remember all of my teachers from Kindergarten to 7th grade. Each had an impact on me whether it was positive or negative. The last teacher I had was during seventh grade. She read us “Hiroshima”  and “Animal Farm!” She also liked to pick her nose. Imagine a classroom of kids secretly watching the teacher. Like clock work, the teacher would dig into her nostrils and then pull out a huge booger. Then she would analyze it like a jeweler analyzes a diamond. After gazing at the booger like it was thing of beauty, she would dispatch the hardened mucous into her mouth. Sometimes, she would allow the booger to dry on her finger while she read to us. As soon as she was done reading  a page about the horse getting sent to the slaughter house, she would gobble it up like it was a prize. Every week day for the entire school year, we were treated to the teacher gorging on huge dried Nevada boogers. What a treat. Of course, the behavior would cure all seventh graders of picking their noses and eating boogers from then on.

In third grade, the teacher taped my mouth shut with masking tape and put me in the corner. She actually wrapped the tape around and around my head. When my dad found out, he went to the school and chewed her ass. My 6th-grade teacher paddled me for throwing a snowball.

My mother was 4 feet ten and barely spoke English. She worked in the Mineral County school cafeteria. So, I got to see my mom every day at lunch time. All the kids would politely say “hello Mrs. Brodhead” as she spooned out a ball of mushy salmon cake. We always looked forward to pizza or fish sticks day. In the little town of  Hawthorne, one was quite popular if one dished out the pizza or fish sticks….. It is all relative.

The base had a huge indoor swimming pool with a high board. We went swimming all the time. The facility had a base gym as well. Later, they would install a steam room. Of course, they were stupid enough to leave it unlocked. I would show up and fiddle with the knobs. Absent of water, the steam generator almost burned the wooden steam room down and the entire base sports center with it. Nobody knew it was me so I kept my mouth shut.      

Mr. Hardy was our Music teacher. He was one of my favorite teachers. I remember when Mrs. Odoms showed me how to take a pulse.

Once a month, we would go to the Fallon Naval Air station BX and commissary.  My dad had several ice chests, and the 1966 Ford country sedan had copious room for food. He would fill it up with food because Safeway was way too expensive. He would also purchase his beloved cigarettes. We were also treated to frozen T-bone steaks and frozen milk. My mom would put them on a broiler pan and broil the steaks when they were frozen. They were always good. My dad would also collect coke bottles so he could buy us milk between paydays.  

My dad was thrifty. I never saw him drunk and never ever heard him cuss.

I remember when Robert F Kennedy was shot. I was 8 years old. After Tet, Dad was again sent to South East Asia to direct B-52 strikes.  Some civil workers that maintained the housing were painting our duplex unit. One fella was named Otis and he was a friendly African American with a huge beautiful smile. At the time, my mother still spoke English with a very heavy German accent. When Otis told her that Kennedy had been shot, my mother stated, ” I know that!” He instinctively knew she thought he meant JFK. He told her that the brother had been killed and she finally understood. We would see Otis all over Babbitt repairing things and freely giving us his good core and friendly demeanor. He was the type of positive role model one will remember for a lifetime. He always had a kind word and a smile to offer the folks that lived in Babbitt.  He had been a Federal employee since the days of Babbitt segregation. In 1968, as a black man, he could not enter the El  Capitan and several other establishments in town. Even then he overcame adversity and was a positive role model in our community. The byproducts of his legacy and others like him would produce a generation of positive winners and downright good people that would go forward and thrive.

The gas in Austin, Nevada was very expensive to purchase when we went to the Ruby mountains to hunt deer. To avoid paying a dollar a gallon for gas, he installed a 50-gallon water tank in the back of his 63 Chevy ¾ ton step side long bed truck. He converted it to a gas tank. We would fill up at the base for 23 cents a gallon and then head to Ruby. He also built a cab over camper that had a cutout for the 50-gallon tank as well. My dad could build things, work on cars and knew electronics. He was a smart man who knew how to use his hands and mind.   

Every year, the Naval base at Fallon would have a “Toy land!” They would dedicate a big room for just toys. When Christmas came around, the first order of business was to talk our parents into taking us to the Fallon NAS. The GI Joe selection was epic. One year, I was given a GI Joe Apollo capsule. I was supposed to be an Astronaut.  

In 1971, the entire Mineral County School system, the teachers, and the students engaged in an “End Vietnam” walk out and sit down. Even the people that stored the bombs had enough. They had witnessed first hand the drug problems that the military had acquired. They saw the suicides and the mental illness that results from a year in a jungle battlefield. The epicenter of patriotism was throwing in the towel on Vietnam.    

When the Vietnam war ended, my father retired from the Strategic Air Command after over twenty years of service. A new  Air Force Academy butter bar lieutenant had tendered him a less than stellar enlisted performance report, so he said  “to hell with it” and called it quits in August of 1973. He pondered keeping the family in Hawthorne, Nevada and working on slot machines at the El Capitan, but Colorado was calling. My German mother had an identical twin sister that lived in Denver. Ultimately, the family would move to Longmont, Colorado and purchase a little rambler on a horse acre in Boulder County. The rambler would cost $28,500. Now the little 1500 square foot rambler is worth $400,000

For me, at 13 years old, moving to Colorado was a new adventure. My mother, on the other hand, would cry from Hawthorne to Austin as we made our way across Nevada on highway 50.  The family had lived in Babbitt, Nevada or on the Hawthorne Naval Ammunition depot since 1963. My sister and I had attended school with the same 15 to 20 children from Kindergarten through 7th and 9th grade. She and I were a known quantity and had nothing to prove to anyone. We belonged and we left friends, teachers, and familiarity behind. We were leaving the foothills of the Wassuk mountains, Walker lake, and the immense beauty of western  Nevada and the Sierras. We would trade a small town and miles and miles of open range for the Eastern slope of the Rockies and copious less freedom. Vast tracts of desert and mountains that were open to dirt bikes and horses would be replaced with a few places to ride. The freedom culture of Mineral county, Nevada would be replaced with the suburbs of Denver and a whole new way of doing business and viewing the world.

When we left the Hawthorne Naval Ammunition depot, the base sported lush green and trim grass areas. Every building was manicured with the pride of the Navy. It was a beautifully maintained oasis in the desert. The housing community of Babbitt, Nevada was filled to the brim with families. Many of the yards were well kept. Countless happy children ran amok.  It was a place that facilitated a lovely childhood away from the streets and behaviors of the city. It would be a gift that would be fondly missed and cherished for a lifetime.

While the children ran free and got into all manner of trouble, the Federal workers that lived in Babbitt, Nevada, moved the bombs in and out on rail cars. Some bombs were destined for storage. Others were destined to be destroyed. Most went to Vietnam. Throughout Vietnam, the trainloads would come and go like clockwork and fill the 3000 bunkers to the brim. The Hawthorne Naval Ammunition Depot was truly the largest  “Arsenal of Democracy” in the world. Once the war was over, the downsizing would begin in earnest. The Brodhead family would not see the total destruction of Babbitt, Nevada and the place we lived as a young family. We would trade the East slope of the Sierras, the wide expanses, and the small town Nevada life for the East slope of the Rockie mountains and the suburbs of Denver.

From Babbitt to Baghdad (Chapter 3)

Chapter 3

The Strategic Air Command

A Boulder County, Colorado stoner meets the harsh reality of the military  

 

 

Every school system is a microculture that is repeated across the nation.  Each student becomes a symbol of society as a whole. There are the smart girl and the smart boy. There are the athletic boys and girls, the fat kid, the nerd, and the kid with the bad complexion. Then there are the attractive boys and girls,  ugly kids, bad kids, poor kids, rich kids, loud kids, quiet kids, tough kids, stupid kids, freckled kids, and kids that climb on rocks. many times, we assume these roles throughout life. College was the time when one broke out of the stratification tendered by K12. Some would continue their certification throne and seek to maintain the social preeminence they had gained in K12. They would also look upon others through the lens they were accustomed to. 

I was the little big mouth bad kid with ADHD in Nevada. That was my job. 

I would assume this role throughout my life. I lost interest in learning when I hit 16 years old. I hated high school and the social power structure of the day. I sought to belong elsewhere.  

I would join the military and have to confront all the negative and dysfunctional adolescent behaviors I had adopted over the years. Marijuana had stunted my mental growth and the behavior of the child was artificially extended. I had never grown up. In the Strategic Air Command, it was either sink or swim. The Vietnam era Air Force alcoholics with zero interaction or positive management skills did not have time to bottle feed a kid from Colorado. One was no longer a brat that was coddled and sheltered. Those days were gone. Now, one looked forward to pushing maintenance stands through 2 feet of snow at 45 below zero. Now, one looked forward to heavy B-52 tow bars, engine cowling, and rolling up double fuel pit carts. 

The bedroom in the familiar brick rambler was replaced by a 14-foot lead painted cell with the windows painted shut.  After a winter storm, the snow would be half way up the window. A VW bug in the parking lot would be completely covered up and indistinguishable.

The barracks became a haven in the face of 12-hour shifts on the flight line and working for cigarette smoking alcoholic Vietnam veterans that treated the enlisted like shit. Lemay/Sac style management behavior that had been conditioned and reinforced since the inception of the Cold war and the  B-47 and B-52.  One could buy a carton of cigarettes for a couple bucks. One could buy booze for cheap as well.  At one time, it was socially acceptable and encouraged to “smoke em if ya got em.”  The NCO clubs was full of alkies and 50 cent rum and cokes. On the flight line, these same addicted individuals would have zero patience and zero empathy for the first termer. They would bark orders tempered with threats and intimidation. They had no time for positive nurturing management styles. All they wanted was for the individual to do the job.  As far as recognition, that delicacy was only given to the chosen ones. One could do the exact same job and contribute at a much higher level but never gain any level of recognition. Maintaining the dismal paycheck and affiliation was recognition enough.  

Of course, there were those that rose to the occasion and were successful under the harshest of circumstance, but I was immediately relegated to the bottom of the pecking order and the Air Force shit list. Later, I would be inducted into the Air Force shit list hall of fame.  Some simply said “to hell with it” and would not show up for work until they were discharged. I had a roommate that stayed in the barracks until they kicked him out. He did not think $300 a month clear was worth living in a barracks cell and being tortured by socially incompetent Air Force NCO lifer maggots.

The Strategic Air Command in the 1970s still retained a heinous level of racism. A Black Airman was treated with contempt,  especially first-termers. The SAC mentality was also magnified and projected onto the Black man. They were also managed by threats and intimidation and the added scorn for simply having darker skin color. 

With a combination of  Strategic Air Command institutionalized racism and the scorn of the Southern redneck to contend with, many Black Airmen endured a tremendous amount of stress and bullshit.

My first term in the military felt like being a caged animal. The daily stress of working the SAC flight line and dealing with NCOs that ruled by negative and dysfunctional management techniques became a real drag.

In reality, I did not have the emotional quotient, discipline, and resolve in order to compete at a consistent level. I was, however, a very competent mechanic and could be counted on to learn and perform every aspect of the job with expertise. Just like in high school, I shunned social competition, but I did the job and never missed a day of work. Over the 4 year period, I was only late a few times for work and did everything that was asked of me.

In SAC, there were the NCOs that were considered lifer maggots and then there was the Airman who grew their hair out of regs and did copious bong hits on the 3rd floor of the barracks. All we were interested in on a Friday or Saturday night was drinking beer, smoking the doobie, and chasing college girls. In order to deal with the shitty life of a SAC Airman at KI Sawyer AFB, we listened to Rock and Roll and got stoned in the barracks. We would use  “Super hold” to keep the hair off the ears. The saying of the day was FTA or “Fuck the Air Force.” Vietnam was only 5 years distant, and Airmen never wore their uniforms to the airport or in public. We were baby killers and treated with contempt by the media and public. We were also extremely underpaid and made less than a private sector part-time job at Walmart in the 80s.  Today folks in the military make more money than the private sector and go to extraordinary lengths to maintain affiliation. Today the volunteer military is much more dedicated than the drafted military of the past. The alternative is a service based economy wage, expensive health care zero pension and a 401K based on inept monetary policy and the smoke and mirrors of the Stock market. If one completes 20 years in the military, they are guaranteed status, a retirement check and very low-cost premium healthcare for the rest of their lives. 

Today folks in the military make more money than the private sector and go to extraordinary lengths to maintain affiliation. Today the volunteer military is much more dedicated than the drafted military of the past. They are drug-free professional warriors that are dedicated to their craft and defending the American dream. The negative attitudes of the Vietnam era vet have been replaced with folks willing to be deployed in a war zone a dozen times in 8 years. 

The long hair of the 1970s has been replaced with the “Bureaucratic submissive buzzcut.”  “Don’t ask don’t tell”  has been replaced by sodomy in the barracks and same-sex Marines french kissing  “with tongue” at the Base chapel. The tiny little first term military allowance and driving old beater cars have been replaced by big checks, luxury apartments, and new BMWs.  Chasing women at bars have been replaced by surfing porn on the internet or playing video games.  

After WWII, the soldiers came back to a ticker tape parade. a great GI bill that they actually took advantage of. The GDP of the United States of America had grown from $90 billion in 1938 to $270 billion by 1945. All the modern economies of the world have either been destroyed or totally converted to war production. The WW II veteran could get a job, own a home, raise a family, send their kids off to school, and retire with a pension.   

The Vietnam era veteran came home to “Baby Killer!” It took both parents working to own a home. The once dominant US economy that had a monopoly on manufacturing and trade would see the economic rise of Japan, Germany, and other European countries.     

The Iraq veteran would come home to cheers and compliments. They would be given the most generous GI Bill in American history. sadly, only a small percentage would use the Bill and gain a degree.  It would now take two parents working full time to rent a dump apartment. The pension was a thing of the past. College tuition and board for worthless degrees would eclipse a year’s wages. The rise of China and technology would kill off millions of jobs. Instead of driving well maintained used cars, we would see Americans taking the bus as they clung to their $700 smart phones. Americans would become slaves to technology in an information age. Our young would become slaves to student loan debt and the resultant loss of credit from defaults. Home ownership would take a back seat to the monetary designs of an inept university system with massive budgets. University systems whose tenured professors never started a small business and regurgitated valueless gibberish called education. 

While our patriot veterans were fighting and dying for the rights of radical Islamist 10,000 miles away, the same Federal government was absconding our 4th Amendment rights here at home. The Dot Com bust would become the “Computer Surveillance Complex!”  911 would be used to engage in regime change, nation building, and the expansion and militarization of a massive police state here in America.          

It only takes a generation for society to forget the heinous reality of war and its effect on Federal government power over the people. Americans saw the rise of Federal control after the Civil War. Americans saw the Federal government grow and maintain its power after WWII. We would see George Walker Bush allow the Federal Government to expand further. All the technology would be turned onto the American people. The IRS would actually tax us so the Federal Government could engage in bulk data collection of everything we do on-line or on the phone. 

Society can easily forget the war and be manipulated into proudly doing the bidding of special interest and the military industrial complex. 

Today, as always, truth is the first casualty of war. Americans are now expected to go proudly and dedicatedly to war even if the war is simply a means for special interest to make money. 

Today the federal government class and special interest control this country and elections are simply scripted theater.  Globalization has gutted America’s economy. People are left with service based economy wages while the Government class and military make more money than the private sector. In order to hold onto status and a solid wage, many that work for the government and DOD  are turning into Kent State wannabees. We know this when police officers and federal employees execute unarmed nonviolent people or burn children alive like Waco. We know this when the BLM employees use mechanized armor, and SWAT teams to address land disputes. We know this when Federal and State law enforcement entities cant wait to execute unarmed men in broad daylight. 

The big picture developed from WWII and Vietnam was forgotten which allowed special interest to run our foreign policy and turn remote countries into training fields where they can and shoot off all the bullets. “Peace is our profession” has become  “Perpetual war is our profession!”  Special interest has settled into demanding war after every election cycle.  

Today’s Pokemon go zombies can be talked into anything and the Woodstock generation stands idly by in hopes that their blood sugar stays below 700 and their dismal 401ks based on inept monetary policies do not collapse. 

The once proud war Woodstock protester is more worried about the rising cost of Obamacare than perpetual war. This has allowed the Federal government class to engage in decades of war without the pesky backlash from we the people.

Meanwhile, the young American worker will be asked to support a massive corrupt Federal government class, the military industrial complex, the computer surveillance complex, the pharmaceutical industrial complex, the healthcare industrial complex, and 80 million baby boomers on Social Security and Medicare. 

In lieu of liberty and the complete maintenance of the Bill of Rights, our coming generations are under constant surveillance and their behavior tracked like we live in an Orwellian police state. They are being divided and conquered as result of facilitating gender pronouns,  gender conflict, fake news, and the wholesale exploitation of ignorance.  The power and dignity of a good paying American job have been replaced by a service based economy selling Chinese products, student loan debt, shared financial misery and simply renting the American dream.  

The strong identity of a man and a woman is being turned into identity confusion. The herd is being culled. We know this when the propaganda ministry tells us that our school systems must allow a man with a wig to use the little girl’s bathroom. Divide and conquer.  

The family vacation to Disneyland has become a trip to Starbucks for a $6 cup of coffee?

America’s  “greatest generation” will soon be completely gone. The baby boomer born in 1945 is 72 years old with 80 million in trail. It is now clear that our youngest generations will have to step up to the plate if they want to maintain the promise of America. It does not look good when 50% of the Democratic party are either socialists or ignorant lemmings. They willingly offer their wrists to the cuffs of socialism. We are not managing the age of technology, and information very well. It has become another avenue for special interest to make money and treat us like internet cattle. Then again, it was a Republicans president that shit on our Bill of Rights and called it the act of a patriot.    

From Babbitt to Baghdad (Chapter 2)

 Chapter 2

The east slope of the Rockie mountains 

 

My father would go from the NCOIC of operations at a multimillion dollar radar site to looking for a job in the stagnate economy of Colorado during the oil shale crisis. He had qualified to buy a home with a VA loan on just his USAF retirement. We would find a little Rambler on a horse acre in Boulder County, Colorado. While the home purchase was in escrow, we would stay at the Bar C motel on the main street in Longmont for a month. The owner of the motel had a few sons that had dirtbikes and knew where a field was a few blocks over. We immediately hit it off. We would ride our dirt bikes on the field, do wheelies and make jumps. Instead of hundreds of fenceless miles of open desert to ride, I was confined to a city block.  Another caveat: we had to push our dirtbikes to the lot.

My dad would board the horses a few miles away at the Clevenger farm. I would become good friends with their boy. My sister and I would ride the horses and play in their barn. Next to the farm was a huge irrigation ditch. Tim and I made a real Huckleberry Finn raft from tree logs and navigated the huge ditch like it was the Mississippi. He was Huckleberry Finn and I was Tom Sawyer. The water journey would only last until we reached the next ditch dam. The raft was so large that we had to abandon it. The raft was built to strict Mark Twain specifications.

Once we moved into the new house, my father looked for a job for months. Even though he was a genius at electronics and radar,  and Denver Center was a mile away, the FAA would not give him a job. They said that 22 years in SAC and service in Vietnam was not good enough and that he worked on an obsolete radar system. They said he did not have the experience.

His first job after the service was selling smoke detectors. He only sold 1 or 2 and then got a job as a security guard at the St. Vrain Nuclear power plant. My mother would land a job as a sweatshop seamstress making down filled jackets.

While my parents were unemployed, the family would go on little adventures into the Rockies. We would find places to fish, places to hunt, and places to ride dirt bikes and horses.  Lefthand canyon would instantly become our favorite place. My dad would fish the river while we tore up the steep mountain roads. Another place was just up the road from our house in Lyons, Colorado. We would tube down the St. Vrain river on hot days or have picnics on the river.

The only thing missing in August of 1973 in Colorado was playing Little League Baseball.

For years, my mother would buy us clothes at the Fallon Naval Air Station PX or Montgomery Wards in Reno or Penneys in  Fallon.

Nobody in the Mineral school system cared if one wore generic label jeans and  BX tennis shoes. If one wore PF flyers, one was simply a stud that could run faster and jump higher. In the Longmont, Colorado school system, students adhered to a completely different fashion agenda. It soon became very clear that the school culture of Colorado was much more regimented than Nevada.

I would attend Longspeak Junior High and start 8th grade. I was still a very small person, but I tried out for basketball and intermural football. The kids in Longmont were quite competitive. I did not have a chance. I would have to wait until the next summer and play baseball. That year, I would play catcher for the entire season. I was however on the B team. I would not play the next year and lost interest in the extreme competition. During my first year in high school, the jocks would talk me into wrestling JV in the 98-pound class.  Most of the schools did not have 98 pounders so, I would end up wrestling the 105 or 112 weight classes and get slaughtered. I won only one match. The rest of the time, I was brutalized and pinned at every event. I quit a few games before the end of the season. I would never quit anything for the rest of my life.

Boulder County was home to a large IBM complex. The high paying jobs created somewhat of a class structure in Longmont. There were those with small ramblers with 3 bedrooms and one bathroom, and then there were those that built massive 4000 SQFT estates. Longmont was a conglomeration of several different stereotypes as well.

So, there was the” well to do IBM brats” that made up the corps of the high school social elite and jock gentry class. In the 1970s, there were very few orthodontists in Longmont, hence, the bulk of the jock boys and girls used the same dentist and had similar teeth arrangements. Many of the IBM brats would all get braces at the same time. They would all get their retainers at the approximate same time. They all wore similar clothing as not to be different.  They considered themselves the top layer of Longmont High School strata and anyone that did not meet their standards were weird and unworthy. Of course many would do well in school and head off to CU or CSU bringing their perceptions and social constructs with them. They would fit snugly within the smug and stuck up sororities and fraternities.

Then there were the cowboys and farmers. For the most part, they accepted everyone. Unlike the city jocks, they actually knew how to work and be productive beyond sports and sitting on the hallway radiator next to the commons area. These youngsters would inherit their parent’s farm and proudly continue the journey as self-made hard working farmers.

Longmont also has a Hispanic population that has lived in Colorado since before the Mexican-American war. Most of the families raised well mannered and positive children that did well in school and sports. In the 1970s, there were only a few Hispanics that caused trouble. The trouble could be defined as smoking a little weed, kicking some ass here and there and dragging the main street. Most of the trouble was caused by other factions.

The Longmont police department was overmanned and ran the town like a gestapo.  They would be all over town with radar guns and handing out tickets.

Every micro-culture has the smart kids, skinny kids and kids that climb on rocks. I would transition from jock wannabee to freak status.  Skiing was a unifying theme in Colorado. We must not forget the Denver Broncos either.

I became a Bronco fan in 1973. At the Naval Ammunition Depot in Hawthorne, Nevada, I was a Cowboy fan. Doug Brown had the first color RCA TV on the base and was a Cowboy fan. We would watch Staubach, Tarkenton, and  Bradshaw go at it. The Landry offense was a thing of beauty to behold.

The relatively classless school age society of Babbitt and Hawthorne, Nevada was replaced by the expansive social envelope of Boulder County, Colorado. The single class of 15 to 20 7th graders was replaced by a huge school with multiple classes and hundreds of students. The simple dress code of the Nevada desert community would become Levi 501 jeans, converse tennis shoes, earth shoes, and baseball shirts from the local Sports center store. In the winter, it was Levi 501s, hiking boots, and down filled jackets. Of course, my parents who had to watch every penny insisted on generic label jeans from the Lowry Air Force Base BX  or grotesque shoes from the Payless shoe store. In 1973 I refused to get LBJ crewcuts from my dad. That year, when we went shopping at the BX and commissary at Lowry AFB, I had it styled…

When I started 8th grade at Longs Peak Junior High School in Longmont, I was the short little kid from Nevada that wore weird clothes. In Mineral County, Nevada I had learned to fight and stand up for myself from numerous run-ins with the Lopez family. At the Longs Peak Junior High School, I was the smallest boy in the school and became an immediate target for being picked on.  The daily bus ride to school and waiting for class to start was brutal. If I was not being harassed on the bus, I was being pushed around before the bell would ring. It would happen again and again and again to and from school. Some bullies would wait for me to get off the bus at school and then immediately start to push me around and hit me. Then again, this would only go on for a little while before I went ballistic.

Many larger boys thought they could intimidate me. I did not see it that way. I was a nasty little kid from Nevada, and I was not afraid to fight. I would tell my dad about the harassment and he would finally tell me to cold cock anyone who abused me. The equation was quite simple. When the big kids would pick on me, I would attack them, grab them around the waist and tip them over. Then I would ground and pound while screaming at the top of my lungs. It was best to take them on when everybody was around so the fight would be broken up by the teachers before the tables turned. Then the social media of the day would get around that I did not take the shit and I was then left alone. I mean, when a 5 foot 9 big boy gets his ass beat by an 85 pound 4 foot 6 tall snotty nose Nevada kid, the word gets around. In school, if one is picked on, one simply has to fight back and gain respect.

At Columbine high school, the alienated outcasts brought automatic weapons and bombs.

Academically, I was way behind when it came to writing. I could hold my own on rudimentary math and reading, but it soon became clear that the Nevada school system was a grade or two behind as it related to grammar and sentence structure. This reality was exacerbated for me when Longs Peak experimented with LTUs or Learning Training Units. Instead of face time with a teacher, one had to fill out LTU packets. At home, my German mother could not understand or even write 9th grade English, and my dad did not have the patience or propensity for tutoring, so I was on my own. In the classroom environment, I constantly needed help with grammar. The other students took notice and thought I was stupid, so, I withdrew and fell farther behind.

In 10th grade, I would take a full load and end up with a 3.7 GPA. However, by 11th grade, and utter failure as a jock, I became alienated from the social regime of Longmont high school and fell from grace. My dad wanted me to go to the Air Force Academy, but the combination of social alienation and smoking weed helped plummet my grades to embarrassing levels. Smoking weed, playing foozball at Jaspers, and dragging main became the obsession of the day.

Longmont had a long main street with copious stop lights. On Friday and Saturday nights, everyone would drag the main street. A cool car was a status symbol. Every hot rod had fat 50 series tires on the back, air shocks and shackles.  There were Mustangs, Mach 1s, Fairlane 500s, Dodge Challengers, Cudas, GTOs, Chevrolets with tunnel rams and blowers. They would race next to the graveyard or at the north end of town. They would also go to “Dog pound road” and finish the deal. I had a 1967 VW bug with a 40 horse or a gray primer 1951 Ford F1 with a $35 farm junkyard engine. I had just enough money every week to fill the tank, buy a few joints, and play a few games of fooz. I learned how to play fooz well. At school, none of the jocks could beat me. I was one of the top two fooz players in a school of 1500. Weber and I would hold the table as long as we wanted.  If we weren’t playing at Jaspers, we would play at “Just for kicks” in Boulder or on the Hill.  I could have gone pro.

The Longmont police department was fixated on the evil weed smoking Foozball players at Jaspers. Because we smoked doob, we were subject to contempt and monitored closely by the Longmont Gestapo. They would cruise the Japsers parking lot and identify cars etc. They would then target those individuals for harassment and tickets.

In high school, I fell behind in math and English. My focus became auto shop and learning how to work on cars. I also was a pest at the “Auto Sport”  a local VW shop. The shop owner helped me direct my behavior and get a start in mechanics. He would become a lifelong mentor as well. He gave me help and mentorship that my father couldn’t.

I would graduate, but my grades precluded me from going to college. In August of 1978, I would enlist in the Air Force.

I am certain that had the family stayed in Nevada, I would have done better in school. The Mineral County school district had some of the most dedicated teachers and they had me dialed in. I was a successful work in progress, and the small class sizes were extremely beneficial. Mineral County had a very anti-drug culture and cared about the kids. I do not think I could have gotten away with the things I did in Colorado. But then again, Colorado exposed me to things and opportunity that were not available in Nevada at the time. I found mentors that helped me find my way. The auto shop would give me something to do and an avenue for vocational success later on down the line. An obsession with VW bugs would allow me to gain viable employment as a mechanic. It would also allow me to pay for tuition at Louisiana Tech and Colorado State University.

I believe children benefit greatly from small town school systems and small class sizes. Children benefit greatly when a school systemsmaintain  a zero tolerance for bullying as well. As far as marijuana, it is not compatable with education. All the tax dollars and edicarional programs in the world will not benefit the stoner in a classroom.

 

From Babbitt to Baghdad (Chapter 5)

Chapter 5

From Babbitt to Baghdad 

Caressing the bomb and the need for a new Long Range Strike Bomber  (LSRB) 

 

The first time I pulled nuclear alert at KI Sawyer AFB was during the Upper Peninsula winter of 1979. The nuclear alert was set up as 7 days on 4 days off. So, for 7 days, the crew lived in a dormitory under the Alert facility next to the Alert tree. The Alert tree had 8 aircraft parking locations. Sometimes there were 6 birds and other times there were 8 fully cocked and ready to go. The Alert area was fenced in with barbed wire etc. Access to the alert facility was through an Alert facility entrance shack that was manned by “Sky cops” or SAC trained killers. If one did not call ahead that they were coming to the Alert facility, one would get “jacked up,” meaning put on the ground forcibly and handcuffed etc.  SAC trained killers loved to jack up aircrew. if you were even on the road to the Alert facility entrance without calling ahead, you got jacked up.

The job of a SAC Security policeman was a dismal job. Each alert bird had a security policeman assigned to it when we had an exercise. They would stand in front of the aircraft and secure the “no lone zone” or “two man policy.” Whenever an aircraft with nukes is being worked on, two people have to be performing the operation.

When a SAC based performed an “Excercise” all the aircraft on the SAC Base would be generated to Nuke status on the ramp along with the aircraft on the Alert tree. The Sky cops would be put on 12-hour shifts and have to stand in front of the B-52 for hours and hours when it was 30 below zero outside. In SAC, the sky cop job was “the suck” in all its glory. The sky cop barracks was the rowdiest barracks on base. At least half the sky cop barracks smoked weed.

The dormitory under the Alert facility had day rooms, sleeping areas, and a chow hall. The good thing about the Alert chow hall was that they cooked the onions and mushrooms before they made your omelet in the morning. Both lunch and dinner were also better than the base chow hall. We even were served huge steaks once in awhile.

The crews could leave the Alert facility during the day and go to the gym, BX or base theater. During the evenings, many crews played “Risk” or watched movies.

During my first Alert tour, “Up in smoke” was playing at the base theater. The whole crew wanted to go, so we took a blue six pack and went to see it. Just as the judge was found to be drinking vodka, the Alert alarm went off. We quickly left the theater, jumped into the six-pack and headed for the Alert facility.  We would bypass the alert shack and head straight for the aircraft. All the motors would be cart started and we would wait to see if it was a rolling taxi alert or engines only.

It was about 25 below zero and I had left my beanie and gloves at the theater.

When the alert was over, we then had to load canisters and top of the outboard tanks.

The Base commander had orchestrated the entire event to coincide with the Cheech and Chong movie.

Once all three Crew chiefs had served their 7 days on, the Alert bird would be decocked and taken off alert. Then it would be de-fueled and all starting canisters removed.  Sometimes a B-52 would be left on alert longer, but then aircraft systems would start to fail because of lack of use etc. In many cases, a plane that is flown a lot does not break as much.

When the aircraft was being either uploaded or downloaded with nukes, I would be allowed to gently touch and caress the SRAM missiles in the forward bomb bay or the massive gravity bombs in the aft.  300 bombers at 20 Bomb wings could carry 1800 to 3600 SRAM missiles. One short range attack missile could level a city.  Our job was to keep the B-52 flying and able to deliver death to millions and millions of Soviets. The targets were military installations, but as soon as an American city was targetted, it meant targeting Russian cities. It would not take 2000 B-17s to level Dresden or Moscow. It could be done with a single B-52 forward bomb bay load of SRAMS. It was called MAD or mutually assured destruction. If the B-52 could not make the target area, the ballistic subs or the ICBM part of the Nuclear triad would get the job done.

When I wasn’t pulling alert, I was performing basic post flights, Preflights, launching  aircraft, refuels, towing, and catching landers.

During post-flight inspections, we had a camping trailer to work out of. It was acceptable to warm up  a little when finished with an inspection. There were  4 inspection areas on a B-52: the left wing, right wing, nose and tail/47 section. The wings were the worst. Each wing had 4 engines. In order to inspect the compressor sections for sand knicks, one had to lay in the inlet. The compressor blades had to be situated a certain way and then one could inspect several blades back. If one found a sand knick on a blade, one documented the forms with blade location. A jet mech would then come out and feather the nick with a special file and mark it with a sharply.

The flight line also had quality control guys that would sit at the end of the flight line with binoculars and watch people work. If you did not spend enough time inspecting the inlet or using a B-4 stand safely, the quality guys would give you a visit. He would then inspect the inlet and write you up for not finding a tiny nick. So, we would take longer to inspect and sometimes dose off in the inlet.

At 30 below zero, the metal engine cowling was cold as hell. a sweaty palm would stick to the metal surface. By the time one inspected 4 engines, one was shivering to the bone.

Sometimes Quality would give you a surprise evaluation. They loved to embarrass and ridicule the individual. I was once evaluated on starting a dash 60 power unit. I failed because I did not look for foreign objects in the exhaust area.  Before then, I had started a power unit 4,045 times without an incident. They loved to find safety violations or fail the enlisted for stupid little shit stuff. It was more about humiliating the enlisted than Quality Control.   When one failed an evaluation, the event was documented and a counseling session with a letter of counseling to follow.  During the day shift, much less was accomplished because of all the little ate up maggot games.   SAC Quality was made up of the most ate up of the SAC maggotry. They were able to negotiate the maze of social and professional SAC  BS  in order to blossom into a Quality Control  NCO. Once ordained, their shit would not stink and they had the authority to fail you on how you scratched your balls or wiped your ass..

On one particular basic post flight inspection, I had to work with one of the Hollywood alfa males of the squadron. He was one of the chosen ones and levied his brand of torture on first-termers. He was a 3 striper NCO Sgt in his second enlistment and he “belonged!” He also had a beautiful wife with a beautiful ass and they lived off base. While we were in our lead painted barracks passing used Hustler, Penthouse and Playboy magazines around, he was pounding a babe in a house off base. Anyways, every time, I would be in the BPO trailer, he and another guy would talk about fags and such. He became fixated on me and continually accused me of being a fag. I told him to “eat shit” and leave me alone.

A couple of months later, this same abusive Hollywood alfa male chosen one, would be caught 69ing a B-52 navigator while in the back seat of a blue six pack in front of the base theater. Some Sky Cops interrupted the 69 same-sex blowjob session during a security check of the vehicles. So, there was the enlisted man deepthroating an officer in the backseat of an Air Force Blue Dodge Power wagon 6 pack. Some people simply do not have any dignity. He should have joined the Navy.

In the Air Force in 1979, rehabbed stoners had way more status than a male NCO cocksucker. Today, instead of being kicked out, these two could have declared sexual harassment and got promoted.

But then again, in today’s world, truth and morality are held in contempt and politically incorrect. Truth must be validated by the Identity politic and the department of neo-moral relativism. In America, it is politically incorrect and illegal to refuse to bake a cake for a same-sex couple.  In Oregon, the liberal government will fine a small business and drive them into poverty for standing for their religious freedom.  In Islam, they enslave people, sodomize little boys and take the virginity of an 8-year-old.  Gays are thrown off of buildings.

In order to justify domestic surveillance and bulk data collection on the American people, Barack Hussein Obama has imported thousands of sleeper cell Islamic terrorist. The liberal president doubled down on all things Bush and has created the necessity for absconding the Bill of Rights by importing terrorists?  He seeks to validate domestic surveillance and bulk data collection on American citizens by importing terrorists?   Meanwhile, they dangle stupid little inconsequential social issues like we are babies in the cradle, while they erode our freedoms and Constitutional rights. Then, when an incoming president puts a ban on Muslim immigration, the same-sex marriage crowd calls the man a racist and immigrant unfriendly? WTF? Hence, the liberal same-sex crowd that condemns Christianity here at home supports Islam and the absconding of our Bill of Rights?  They are more concerned with the rights of terrorists that condemn homosexuality than maintaining their own freedoms here in America.  This suggests that liberals are simply stupid people that can me manipulated into thinking and doing anything their liberal masters tell them to do. This also substantiates a grotesque level of inadequate logic and critical thinking skills.  Maybe a Sunni Muslim will bake them a cake?

Barack Hussein Obama’s foreign policy was  “Munchhausen Syndrome by Proxy”  in all its glory. He bombed countless Arab countries, allowed the total destabilization of the Middle East and then to make himself feel good he imports unvetted male Islamic Jihadists refugees in droves.  Obama ran Foreign policy and droning like he was a recovering ecstasy abuser with low serotonin. He seemed to have zero empathy when destabilizing countries. He was all about big government control and used social issues to create division and run interference for his positions.

Back during the American revolution, Brodhead would have met this treasonous behavior with a musket ball to the forehead or the thrust of Pennsylvania steel through the liver.

All bitching aside, the United States of America needs to build a new generation of bombers. Today, light weight composites, solid state glass cockpits with digital navigation, and gear driven turbofan jet engine technologies would allow for the building of an ecofriendly super bomber.  Today, it is possible to build a stealthy intercontinental bomber that can carry 100,000 pounds of precision guided weaponry 10,000 miles un-refueled.  This new massive bomber would produce 50% fewer carbon emissions. These same engines could be put on the aging B-52H and double its combat range. In lieu of nation building countries that are 10,000 miles away when they commit acts of terror on American soil, we simply launch 100 stealth long-range strike bombers and deliver 1 million pounds of precision guided weaponry on pre-plotted GPS locations. The aircraft would be called the “Thomas Jefferson’ in honor of the Barbary wars.

100 Long-range Strike bombers with 100,000 payloads would carry 5 times that of the B-17. However, instead of wasteful pattern bombing via the Norden bomb site, the ordinance would be delivered via laser guidance, GPS, and lightweight inertial navigation systems.  In addition, the newest forms of explosives dwarf the power of TNT. Moreover, every single military target would be mapped by GPS.

Today, a bomber could be built with a 2-man cockpit aided by UAV piloting technology. The aircraft could fly unrefueled for 10,000 miles, take on fuel and loiter over a target area at high altitude for long periods of time. UAV pilots would pilot the aircraft remotely while the 2-man crew rests or sleeps the stick.

The old massive  Cold War KC-135 tanker force is a thing of the past as it relates to new bomber technology. With gear driven turbofan engines, the air refueling requirement would be significantly reduced. Stealth Long Range strike super bombers launched from bases in Europe could hit targets in the Middle East and back with zero refueling assets. LRSB launched from Guam could hit targets all over Asia as well.

If the KC-46 had Pratt and Whitney’s gear driven turbofans, it could fly 15% farther and reduce carbon emissions by millions of metric tons over the lifespan of the airframe. The millions saved in fuel costs would fund fighter development or DOD fuel requirements elsewhere.

 

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From Babbitt to Baghdad Chapter 1

 

From Babbitt to Baghdad

Chapter 1

A childhood in the deserts and mountains of Nevada

My Father met my  mother in 1956 while stationed in Germany . His USAF radar unit was stationed at an old Luftwaffe airfield at Erding, Germany. My mother still lived at the farm outside of Hoenpolding which was 10 kilometers away. She worked at the base cleaning the billeting units. She rode her bicycle the 10 kilometers to and from work everyday. My father met her at a dance in Erding. Unlike many of the German women after WWII who gave into US soldiers, my mother would give Milton the full “no” treatment. Milton would not take “no” for an answer and became a pest. After a while, Rosina invited him to the family farm. The farm had been in the family name for over 300 years. My mother’s father had served as a German cavalryman on the Western Front for all of WWI. He was also a conservative senator during the Weimar Republic. When Adolf Hitler took over in 1933, Opa Zep would not take the oath to Hitler. The farm would then be taken by the Nazi party. Opa Zeppie would go into hiding and later spend time at Dachau concentration camp along with utter thousands of German WWI veterans that supported the Kaiser.

My mother had 6 sisters and 1 brother. The farm was 80 hectares and grew hay for their milk cows. The farm was carved out of the lush and green Bavarian countryside. The winters were cold and white, but the summers were warm and conducive to farming. The clouds would roll off the Bavarian Alps and deposit rain pretty much every single day. Then the clouds would give way to the sunshine. Like clock work, it would rain an hour or two and then turn shiny and warm.  

The cows would be pastured during the day. Later in the day, a bell would be wrung and the milk cows would head for the stalls for fresh hay and milking. During the 1930s in Bavaria, there were no milking machines. The 6 girls would manually extract the milk from the massive and healthy cows while they ate their fresh grass or hay. When Opa Zep would not take the oath to Hitler, the farm was nationalized and the family forced to live with relatives or friends. In lieu of eating healthy as a byproduct of farming, the family was reduced to poverty.Rosina and her twin sister Magdalena would suffer the effects of malnutrition as infants.     

My father was a very intelligent man and quite a talker. He learned how to speak German  quickly and fluently.  He loved to talk of the farm and Germany. Whenever we revisited Germany later in his life, he would speak good German everywhere we went.  If the schnitzel was good, he always had the waitress bring the cook to the table.

He would then compliment the cook in German. Many times they would  reciprocate by giving him a free tall glass of beer and telling him to keep the beer glass.

My mother’s China cabinet was full of German beer mugs and glass. Germans love it when an American actually takes the time to learn German and speak it well. During Vietnam my father would send my mother tape recordings in German because she could not read and write English well if at all.

My father loved Germany. He loved skiing in the Bavarian and Austrian Alps. He loved the people, the food, and his newly acquired relatives. My parents would be married in an old German Catholic Church in Bavaria in 1957. My sister would be born on Amarillo Air Force Base, Texas on 24 July,1958. I would be Born May 4th ,1960 at Westover, Air Force Base three days after Francis Gary Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union.

The marriage to a German Catholic woman would not go over too well with Milton’s family. They were New Hampshire Methodists that had live in New Hampshire since 1800. Laconia, New Hampshire was the place that the book and TV series Peyton Place was based on. The Brodheads were from British Imperialist stock dating back to 1664. The progenitor of the family Captain Daniel Brodhead I was from Yorkshire England. He would come to America as part of the Nichols Expedition.He would be “second in command” and led the 400 British troops that disembarked Man-O-Wars and took control of New Amsterdam away from the Dutch. New Amsterdam would then be called New York and English speaking rule established.    

After Westover, the family was stationed at Glasgow Air Force Base, Montana. Then we would move to Babbitt, Nevada the summer of 1963. A few months later, John Fitzgerald Kennedy would be assassinated. I was only 3 years old at the time, but my dad told us later that Kennedy’s assassination was a traumatic event. I was the same age as John junior, and my sister was the same age as Caroline  Kennedy. The Kennedy “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech was close to my mother’s heart.

Our first trip back to Germany was in 1965, We would fly on a Pan Am jet across the ocean to Paris and then on a piston engined prop job to Frankfurt. Even at 5 years old, I remember the noisy engine.

Babbitt, Nevada was a Federal housing project that was built to house the Hawthorne Naval Ammunition depot employees. When it was built, it was actually a segregated until the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Hawthorne Naval Ammunition depot is the largest ammunition storage facility in the US and possibly the world.  The Babbitt housing housing project had streets that were named after US Naval ships. We lived at 1202 Lexington avenue. It was the last duplex unit on Lexington, avenue before Hawthorne proper at the time. The Strategic Air Command radar site my dad worked at was a block away. The radar site looked like two huge golf balls. It also sported other radar equipment that would fry birds when they flew by too closely. We did not have a phone. My dad walked to work a block.

The radar site was called the Detachment 12 of the 1st Combat Evaluation group. It also went by the Hawthorne bomb plot. B-52 aircraft would fly bomb routes across Nevada and simulate bomb releases over targets in Nevada. The radar site would track the aircraft while it engaged in electronic countermeasures and chaff dispensing. They would also score the bomb release point using radar, speed, triangulation, and winds. In 1966, Milton would be sent to Vietnam and direct B-52 strikes as part of “Operation Combat Skyspot.” The ground directing radar site would be called OL-25 in Dalat, South Vietnam.  The radar site sat on top of a hill that had been exfoliated with Agent Orange. The air conditioning system at the revetment radar trailer and other buildings would concentrate the Agent orange off-gassing. Many 1st Combat evaluation members that served at the site succumbed to physical ailments and schematic heart disease. As it was, the members of the 1st Combat Evaluation Team, increased B-52 bombing accuracy by 90%. They could put the bombs right along the fence line at the “Siege of Khe Sahn.”  They also bombed the hell out the Ho Chi Minh trail.

We had a black and white TV and only two stations. There was only CBS and NBC. Walter Cronkite was on CBS and Walt Disney was on NBC. I remember the Vietnam body count. The NBC peacock in black and white signaled that we were on the channel for Walt Disney. Which was on at 7 PM Sunday nights.  We always had to take baths before we could watch Walt Disney. At 8 pm, we had to go to bed while my father watched the FBI with Efrem Zimbalist jr. Sometimes we would get to watch the FBI during the summer months, otherwise, it was off to bed at 8 PM on a school night.

Atop the old refrigerator sat the AM radio.  It was white with big red knobs. It was a tube type radio and could only pick up one or two  AM stations. There would always be a moment of silence when Elvis came on. My German mother loved Elvis. In Babbitt, Nevada during the 1960s, the station only played country music. Rock and Roll could only be listened to on TV shows like Ed Sullivan. Nevadans were reactionary and thought rock and roll polluted the minds of children. My first rock and roll album was Neil Young  “Crazy horse.”  Then again, one could go to Reno and listen to FM.

I remember how my dad could actually fix a tube type TV or radio. He had attended the New Hampshire technical institute and studied electronics before he enlisted.  At the radar site, he was the NCOIC of operations. He was always training people. He could talk about every aspect of electronics and resite Ohm’s law to the fullest from memory. He also taught gun safety. later, he would have a part-time job cutting hair at the base BX. To save money, the enlisted would bring their kids to our house and get free hair cuts. It was always the same. Inevitably, the kids would all get the Milty cut of bleeding on the sides and short on top. After a while, many kids in the neighborhood had LBJ/Milty style crew cuts. I would be 12 years old when I finally said to hell with your crew cuts.

When the TV burned a tube out before “Old Yeller” or “The yearling” it was a family crisis. If it went out during Daniel Boone, Bonanza, and Gun smoke,  it was damn tragedy.  I remember my Daniel Boone coon skin hat and musket. Of course, this became a Daisy model 1895 Winchester bb gun. That in turn, became a Marlin 3030 or 12 gauge shotgun.

Babbitt, Nevada was a safe community. My sister and I would walk to school every day. Even at 5 years old, we would run all over the neighborhood.  All the parents knew who you were and where you lived. Even in a previously segregated community, everyone looked after the children regardless of color or ethnicity. We knew every family on every street by name. My father never spoke ill of other races, hence, I was not taught racism in the home. As an Air Force NCO, my father adhered to Martin Luther King’s position of judging people by “Content of character!” Milton spoke highly of folks that did their best. He had nothing but respect for hard working people. My mother never spoke ill of anyone.  

We had to be home at 5 pm for my mom’s good cooking. If one did not make it home at 5 pm, one would almost get the belt. Plus my mom would be pissed. My dad had a homemade belt made from a deer he had shot in the Belknap’s of New Hampshire. My 5-foot tall German mother new how to use it.  Her specialty was hitting the legs with the belt. As an ADHD psycho brat, I was used to the belt. Even the Mineral county school district teachers loved to beat on me. I cannot remember how many times Nevada teachers paddled my ass. Today, a kid that suffered from my level of ADHD would have been under severe medication. In Nevada, humiliation and the paddle got the job done.  The paddling only made me mentally tougher. Today, they medicate kids into submission.

The Mineral county Primary school was only a few blocks away. Mineral county only had one classroom per grade. I remember only  15 to 20  kids per class. My classmates were the sons and daughters of every military service, as well as , Federal employees and local whites, blacks, and Hispanics. I would attend school with the same classmates year after year.  I was the big mouth in the class with the Napoleonic complex. I was very small as a child. In fact, I did not make it past 5 feet until 10th grade. Today, I am close to 6 feet and 250 pounds with the Napoleonic complex of a 4 foot tall  65-pound 6th grader.

For a child, Babbitt had everything. We had a wooden baseball stadium complete with dugouts and a grandstand. We had a massive playground at the Safeway. We had fenceless massive tracts of desert and mountains to roam. There were no computers or violent video games.Children did not stay in the house and sit on their asses. Children went outside and ran amuck. We rode bicycles or walked for miles in the desert.  

 

The Safeway playground was 2 acres of grass, huge swings, a huge metal missile with three levels, a huge slide and a huge carousel. The swing set had to be 20 feet high with sturdy chains. One could literally swing the height of a house. The playground carousel was huge. If there were 5 or 6 kids on it, we could get it going so fast that the riders would get pinned to the side posts from centrifugal  force. So, as long as the kids kept spinning the carousel, one was pinned. This was predicated on kids of equal body weight on opposite sides of the carousel. Sometimes a big kid would show up and spin the carousel for several minutes. After awhile, the kids would be sick from dizziness and beg to be let off. In Babbitt, we had a designated big kid whose only purpose was to spin the carousel. He would become part of the “Babbitt Hall of fame” as the guy who could spin the carousel and make kids puke. Whenever there were kids at the park, it would only be a matter of minutes before he would show up to spin the carousel. Soon, we would get all the kids in the neighborhood to ride the carousel and let the big kid pin them to the posts like a fighter pilot in a G-force machine.  

The park swing was so large that we could put a wooden pallet from behind Safeway on it.  We would use two swing seats and expand them. Then we would put the wooden pallet between the seats. The spacing of the wood boards would lock it into place. Then, several kids could jump on it. So, 4 or 5 kids would be on this pallet swinging 12 feet in the air. Then like characters in “Lord of the flies,” we would try to knock each other off to see what happens when a seven-year-old gets ejected at 10 feet from the ground.

In the Babbitt housing project, there were playgrounds every few blocks.  Each had an awesome selection of playground equipment. One of the swing set areas was dominated by a 2-year old that always had a huge turd in his diapers. He was the spitting image of Bam bam. He once offered me a fist full of melted M&Ms that had been in his hand for an hour. He was always snotty nosed, dirty-faced with a baseball sized turd in his undies. By the end of the day, the diaper would actually be dragging the ground. Other than that, he was a gangsta and a dear friend.

The baseball stadium was the most epic, however. We had a huge covered grandstand, lights, a scoreboard, back stop, and real dug outs. The grass was green, and we even had a snack bar and game announcer over loud speaker. My first team was called the Dodgers. We had real blue and white baseball uniforms, and blue hats. That year, we were beaten by Paiutes from Schurz, the Black Aces. They had a little league pitcher that had the fastest curve ball in the state of Nevada. The next year, I was on the Naval base team and we were called the Stingrays. We beat both Schurz teams that year. That year, I became the catcher instead of an outfielder. Our teams were made up of every ethnicity and branch of service. Little league fosters belonging and team building skills. These style of inclusive activities are positive and nurturing for children in general.

When I was playing outfield, I remember having to cross my legs so I didn’t piss my pants. If we played a good team, I was stuck out there for days on end.  I once had a slight problem with my shit/fart diverter valve and sorted of soiled my nice Dodger uniform.

After school on the way home, I would often poop my drawers before making it to the bathroom at home. Upon reflection, the Mineral County School system’s salmon cake delight Tuesday was the culprit. The rich seafood fare was overwhelming for a 5-year-old’s system. Apparently, ADHD and salmon cakes did not mix well.  I would make it to the playground across the street from our house, walk like I had a stick up my ass and accidentally cut loose after a tremendous sphincter/colon battle that lasted blocks and blocks. As a last resort, I would sit on the swingset seat and ponder my next move. Inevitably, once I got up and my hands touched the gray galvanized handles of the slide, my sphincter would give up the ghost. I would engage in the throes of a grimacing pirouette as I filled the Fallon NAS PX “Fruit of the loom “ shorts with salmon cake poopoo parfait. Once I arrived home, my mother would know immediately that I had doodied myself again. She would yell out “stinken” in a heavy Bavarian accent. It was the Mineral County School system salmon cakes I tell ya!         

If we weren’t playing baseball or  hanging out at the Safeway park, we were playing in the tree line that circled the base and housing.Once we were tired of that, we would go lizard hunting in the desert or walk to Walker lake. A good Nevada lizard hunter knew all about Nevada lizards. In fact, there were dozens of different species that one had to out smart and hunt down. The easiest to catch were the “Horned Toad” or  “horney toad.” If one held them by the horns and let them dangle, they would do the cha cha. Next came the little gray sand lizards. Occasionally, we could catch a Western banded gecko. The next most common lizard was the  black Skank. The fastest lizard was the zebra tail. The biggest prize of them all was the Leopard lizard. They were huge and fast and could eat a sand lizard whole. I caught maybe one Leopard lizard and that was it. Back during the 1960s, there were copious flocks of Nevada Chukar and Quail at the foothills of Mount Grant. If they saw you, they could run up the side of a steep hill like nobody’s business. The desert was also filled with huge Jackrabbits and cottontail rabbits or rock bunnies.

Behind the base, there was a canyon called Cat creek. It had a huge damn that looked like a mini Hoover dam. In fact, it was built by the same company that built Hoover. We would sneak passed the locked fence, walk up the canyon road and play on the massive dam. In the winter, the ice would be several feet thick. We stayed off the ice entirely. When the water was released, the ice would cave in in big huge thick sheets.

A few times we were stupid enough to walk across the military firing range. We even picked up non-spent ordinance and threw them to see if they would explode. A friend in my class would later be killed doing the same thing.    

Soon, we would have horses and minibikes. My first mini bike was a Briggs and Stratton 2 horse power with no suspension. My dad bought it for $25. By then, we were living on the base at 400B Connolly drive. When I needed gas, I would simply ride it to the base gas station. Gas on the base was 20 cents a gallon, so a fill up was 10 cents. To get the money, I would go through the trash can outside the Marine barracks, Post exchange, or swimming pool snack bar, and look for coke bottles. It was either that or checking every vending machine or phone booth for left change. Back then, a coke bottle was worth a nickel. A nickel bought a big hunk or a box of lemon heads. 3 coke bottles meant a full tank of gas and a Hershey bar, 5th avenue or a handful of bubble gum or penny candy.

I remember when grape flavored bubble gum came out. One of my heroes was Bazooka Joe. On Friday and Saturday nights everyone would head to the drive-in theater. All the hot rod cars would be on display. The Jolly Cone was right next door and sold huge vanilla ice cream cones. It was the place to be after baseball games too.  Then there was having dinner at the El Capitan. Another enjoyable event was camping and fishing in the Sierra Nevada’s 50 miles away.  It was only a short drive to Mono lake, Lee Vining and the east portal of Yosemite and Tioga pass.

We started camping at June lake, Silver lake, and Grant lake, but the fishing at Lundy lake was much better and way closer to Hawthorne. Lundy lake had some of the best fishing anywhere.  There was good fishing on the lake, but the river below the dam was epic. We would catch stringer loads of German Browns.

Several families from the base would haul their travel trailers and tents for a 3 day weekend of fishing, barbecuing, and burned marshmallows. The Breck family had 8 kids. The other families might have had 2 or 3. Either way, there would be 15 kids with fishing poles and BB guns running a muck.

We would always make it back before the sun started to go down because, there would be a huge fire, plenty of tinfoil and lemons for the trout. Everyone would quickly clean the day’s catch. Then, the trout would be put onto a big piece of Reynolds wrap. The trout would get a piece of butter, fresh ground pepper, and a lemon slice. It would be sealed up and placed on the coals along with corn on the cob, and hot chocolate. After the trout meal, it was marshmallow time.

For an ADHD child, river fishing is a real treat. I mean, I could not wait until I had my fishing pole in hand. I knew exactly what to do and what to take. Within minutes of arriving at camp, my sister and I would be out of sight.I can still smell the new canvas of the Pup tent that I used. Back then, a Coleman sleeping bag was well made, well insulated, and made in the USA.

By the time the sun went down, all the kids were tired from running up and down miles and miles of pristine river. We did not care about the surface that we were sleeping on.In the morning, we would wake up to a huge breakfast cooked over an open fire. Then it was off to the river for another 12 hours running a muck.

The little town of Hawthorne, Nevada was surrounded by high desert. In the background and just a mile away was Mountain Grant. It rose quickly from about 4000 feet to 11,400 feet. Several canyon roads accessed the high valleys of Mount Grant. All one needed was the key to the gate, and one could drive to the top of the mountain. One year, a bunch of folks from Hawthorne and the Naval base got together and did a trail ride to the high meadows of the mountain. Dozens and dozens of horses were involved. At the time, we had two horses Chipper and Swinger. One was a brown and white gelding real Nevada cow pony and the other was a black and white mare. It took us two days of riding to reach the high mountain pasture area. Once there, the group availed itself to evening fires, tasty dinners and big early morning breakfasts. The camp cook had a huge cast iron griddle. He would cook everything over the fire, and feed over 20 people.

I was at a full gallop heading across a meadow when Chipper and I came upon a cattle loading trench. Chipper stopped immediately, and I went over his head and landed in the ditch on my back. I was OK. A cattle loading ditch is an angular cut into the earth so a truck can back into it and load cattle. Little britches rodeo would become a slight obsession. I had one of the fastest and most talented horse in Mineral County. Chipper could herd cattle, barrel race and pole bend like a champion. He could also carry a 250 pound man all day. We ended up selling him to a fella that lived by Lucky boy pass. The last time I saw him, he was standing in a foot of horse shit. That broke my heart. I still have anxiety about not being a better child and taking better care of this animal. I was a spoiled brat.  My parents did everything they could to shield us from the real world. Nevada was our little oasis. A place where children could run and play like there is no tomorrow.

I remember when Hot wheels and Hot wheel tracks came out. Soon, all the neighborhood kids would get together and build massive Hot wheel tracks. My dad had built a flat top garage next to the the federal housing duplex we lived in. He had just purchased a 1966 Ford Country Sedan with a 289. and a sand storm had ruined the paint job. So he built a garage to put it in. We would climb on top of it and build our Hot wheel track. By the time we had finished building the track, it would start on top of the garage and end across the yard, over the sidewalk and onto the street. It would have a huge loop and then a jump at the end. The only thing that would interrupt the racing event was my mom’s  home-made Kool-Aid popsicles.

One of the coolest thing one could do in the desert is find a car hood, a rope and attach the stuff to a dirt bike. One of the older kids in the town had a 400 Bultaco two-stroke. He would pull us across the desert. The shape of the  1940s Oldsmobile car hood allowed us to jump sagebrush. Most of the time, however, we just ate sand. A little later, I would get a Yamaha mini enduro and all hell would break loose. The foothills of Mountain Grant would become our playground. We would ride for miles and miles and miles and up every nook and canyon. There was a reservoir that stored all the water from the Cat creek dam on the foothills of Mount Grant.  All the diggings for the reservoir were scattered about and made a great dirt bike track. Some of the mounds of dirt were 50 feet high. Others were small natural jumps. I could launch my Yamaha mini enduro the length of a house. I would land so hard, it would break the frame. Another treat was riding up to the “H”. The “H” was a huge H letter that signified “Hawthorne.”  

On the base, we had a very nice football field with green grass. We rigged up a rope and sleeping bag combination. Then I would tow kids on the grass field with my mini enduro. I was raised on Evil Knievel, Mohamad Ali, Cowboy football, John Wayne, Jimmie Stewart, Charlton Heston, and every manner of western. The Cartwrights were part of the family.  Mark Twain was on the Nevadan’s reading list. 

My father was an avid hunter and sportsman. During the 1960s, the Walker lake water level was much higher. We would fish Navy beach at the South end of the lake. Back then, the water level at the treed area of Navy Beach was up to my chest close to the shoreline.Today, at Navy Beach, the area is covered with natural pasture land and the lake has lost 80 feet.  I remember when my father caught a 3 foot long Cutthroat trout. It was almost as long as the bath tub at our Babbitt duplex. It had swallowed the hook line and sinker, so we had no choice but to eat it. Back then, we caught trout right off the beach. Swimming at Walker lake was a love hate relationship. We loved swimming and fighting for an inner tube place, but if one ingested the water, one would puke because of the PH level.

Every year we would go deer hunting at the Ruby Marshes or behind Mount Grant. I took a hunter’s safety course when I was 10 years old. At 10, I was allowed to take a 12 gage shotgun, or .22 out in the desert. I shot my first and last deer at 10 years old.

The Hawthorne Naval Ammunition depot had a place where they threw away wooden boxes and pallets. Sometimes, my father would take his 63 Chevy ¾ ton step side truck and fetch copious fresh wood and huge shipping boxes for building tree forts. He would give us a huge bag of nails, a hammer, and a hand saw and send us on our way. Once we found a suitable tree, he would back the truck up and dump the wood on the ground for us. The treeline was littered with tree forts. I once built a three-story tree fort.  The Brecks built a huge tree fort out of a massive cargo container made of wood. They hoisted a 6 by 6 plywood shipping container at least 30 feet up the tree and secured it between four massive trunks of a tree. It was in a huge Cottonwood tree close to the Hawthorne dog pound. The tree was located at a 2-foot irrigation pipe that fed the entire tree line. The water came off of Cat Creek and Black Beauty reservoir. When the treeline was watered, the area around the massive cottonwood tree became a deep pond. So, the tree fort had a mote as well.

I was once captured by the Brecks and enslaved. So, Robert Brecks and I had to load up buckets of rocks for their ammunition and outfit the tree fort for long sieges. Alas, we came back later and attacked them with homemade slingshots made from rubber medical tubing. We also employed David and Goliath slings to attack the enemy. Of course, we were the youngest and smallest, so we would get our asses kicked when they caught us at the house.

When GI Joes came out, I begged my parents for a GI Joe with kung fu grip and lifelike hair. Instead of the GI Joe jeep, I had to settle for a faggie Ken-mobile. I cut that into a truck. My friends and I would set up elaborate breastworks in the tree line and man them with GI joes. It would look like a Vietnamese prison camp. Then we would blow up the GI Joes with black market firecrackers acquired from the Paiute Indian reservation. The battle would start with a few ladyfingers and progress to Black cats. During the final assault, we would break out the M80s and BB guns. If we found a Ken doll, he would get tortured until he told us the secret. He was then tied up and shot repeatedly in the face with Daisy BB guns. We were soldiers in training. A GI Joe could take a beating before it gave up the ghost. But then again, GI Joe always won the battle. Of course, I was always the German when we played war.  After Stalingrad, it was always over.

My favorite bike was a green 3-speed stingray with a banana seat and sissy bar. I outfitted that with a double canteen belt. I rode that bike all over Hawthorne, Babbitt and the base. I made a mistake and turned it into a chopper. A trashy neighborhood kid had welded two additional forks on his bike and put a tricycle tire on the front. I thought it was cool so I modified my beloved Stingray. After that, I could not ride in the sand at all.

When I was a toddler, I rode my tricycle towards Hawthorne from 1202 Lexington. I made it passed the radar site only to be picked up by Clarence the highway patrolman. He said, that I had my right blinker on and was about to turn onto highway 95 across from the airport.

I don’t remember our first dogs Nellie and Pawchie. Someone in Babbitt had poisoned them when we first came their. I do remember when we obtained Mitzi the cat. My mom climbed up a cottonwood tree to get her. She would be with us for over 20 years. Our first Dachshund was named Baron Von Cocktail. He had a crook in his tail. He hated me after I accidentally road over him with my bike. He would hang out with us in the treeline, but once we were at home, he avoided me like the plague. Our next door neighbor had a full sized dachshund named Alex. He must have been 30 pounds with a wonderful demeanor. He always hung out with us. He was hit by a car at his hind quarters when we came out of the treeline. I cried so hard. I can still remember how he was up on his front legs and looking at us for guidance. Everyone loved Alex.

As a child, I was very ADHD. I remember all of my teachers from Kindergarten to 7th grade. Each had an impact on me whether it was positive or negative. The last teacher I had was during seventh grade. She read us “Hiroshima”  and “Animal Farm!” She also liked to pick her nose. Imagine a classroom of kids secretly watching the teacher. Like clock work, the teacher would dig into her nostrils and then pull out a huge booger. Then she would analyze it like a jeweler analyzes a diamond. After gazing at the booger like it was thing of beauty, she would dispatch the hardened mucous into her mouth. Sometimes, she would allow the booger to dry on her finger while she read to us. As soon as she was done reading  a page about the horse getting sent to the slaughter house, she would gobble it up like it was a prize. Every week day for the entire school year, we were treated to the teacher gorging on huge dried Nevada boogers. What a treat. Of course, the behavior would cure all seventh graders of picking their noses and eating boogers from then on.

In third grade, the teacher taped my mouth shut with masking tape and put me in the corner. She actually wrapped the tape around and around my head. When my dad found out, he went to the school and chewed her ass. My 6th-grade teacher paddled me for throwing a snowball.

My mother was 4 feet ten and barely spoke English. She worked in the Mineral County school cafeteria. So, I got to see my mom every day at lunch time. All the kids would politely say “hello Mrs. Brodhead” as she spooned out a ball of mushy salmon cake. We always looked forward to pizza or fish sticks day. In the little town of  Hawthorne, one was quite popular if one dished out the pizza or fish sticks….. It is all relative.

The base had a huge indoor swimming pool with a high board. We went swimming all the time. The facility had a base gym as well. Later, they would install a steam room. Of course, they were stupid enough to leave it unlocked. I would show up and fiddle with the knobs. Absent of water, the steam generator almost burned the wooden steam room down and the entire base sports center with it. Nobody knew it was me so I kept my mouth shut.      

Mr. Hardy was our Music teacher. He was one of my favorite teachers. I remember when Mrs. Odoms showed me how to take a pulse.

Once a month, we would go to the Fallon Naval Air station BX and commissary.  My dad had several ice chests, and the 1966 Ford country sedan had copious room for food. He would fill it up with food because Safeway was way too expensive. He would also purchase his beloved cigarettes. We were also treated to frozen T-bone steaks and frozen milk. My mom would put them on a broiler pan and broil the steaks when they were frozen. They were always good. My dad would also collect coke bottles so he could buy us milk between paydays.  

My dad was thrifty. I never saw him drunk and never ever heard him cuss.

I remember when Robert F Kennedy was shot. I was 8 years old. After Tet, Dad was again sent to South East Asia to direct B-52 strikes.  Some civil workers that maintained the housing were painting our duplex unit. One fella was named Otis and he was a friendly African American with a huge beautiful smile. At the time, my mother still spoke English with a very heavy German accent. When Otis told her that Kennedy had been shot, my mother stated, ” I know that!” He instinctively knew she thought he meant JFK. He told her that the brother had been killed and she finally understood. We would see Otis all over Babbitt repairing things and freely giving us his good core and friendly demeanor. He was the type of positive role model one will remember for a lifetime. He always had a kind word and a smile to offer the folks that lived in Babbitt.  He had been a Federal employee since the days of Babbitt segregation. In 1968, as a black man, he could not enter the El  Capitan and several other establishments in town. Even then he overcame adversity and was a positive role model in our community. The byproducts of his legacy and others like him would produce a generation of positive winners and downright good people that would go forward and thrive.

The gas in Austin, Nevada was very expensive to purchase when we went to the Ruby mountains to hunt deer. To avoid paying a dollar a gallon for gas, he installed a 50-gallon water tank in the back of his 63 Chevy ¾ ton step side long bed truck. He converted it to a gas tank. We would fill up at the base for 23 cents a gallon and then head to Ruby. He also built a cab over camper that had a cutout for the 50-gallon tank as well. My dad could build things, work on cars and knew electronics. He was a smart man who knew how to use his hands and mind.   

Every year, the Naval base at Fallon would have a “Toy land!” They would dedicate a big room for just toys. When Christmas came around, the first order of business was to talk our parents into taking us to the Fallon NAS. The GI Joe selection was epic. One year, I was given a GI Joe Apollo capsule. I was supposed to be an Astronaut.  

In 1971, the entire Mineral County School system, the teachers, and the students engaged in an “End Vietnam” walk out and sit down. Even the people that stored the bombs had enough. They had witnessed first hand the drug problems that the military had acquired. They saw the suicides and the mental illness that results from a year in a jungle battlefield. The epicenter of patriotism was throwing in the towel on Vietnam.    

When the Vietnam war ended, my father retired from the Strategic Air Command after over twenty years of service. A new  Air Force Academy butter bar lieutenant had tendered him a less than stellar enlisted performance report, so he said  “to hell with it” and called it quits in August of 1973. He pondered keeping the family in Hawthorne, Nevada and working on slot machines at the El Capitan, but Colorado was calling. My German mother had an identical twin sister that lived in Denver. Ultimately, the family would move to Longmont, Colorado and purchase a little rambler on a horse acre in Boulder County. The rambler would cost $28,500. Now the little 1500 square foot rambler is worth $400,000

For me, at 13 years old, moving to Colorado was a new adventure. My mother, on the other hand, would cry from Hawthorne to Austin as we made our way across Nevada on highway 50.  The family had lived in Babbitt, Nevada or on the Hawthorne Naval Ammunition depot since 1963. My sister and I had attended school with the same 15 to 20 children from Kindergarten through 7th and 9th grade. She and I were a known quantity and had nothing to prove to anyone. We belonged and we left friends, teachers, and familiarity behind. We were leaving the foothills of the Wassuk mountains, Walker lake, and the immense beauty of western  Nevada and the Sierras. We would trade a small town and miles and miles of open range for the Eastern slope of the Rockies and copious less freedom. Vast tracts of desert and mountains that were open to dirt bikes and horses would be replaced with a few places to ride. The freedom culture of Mineral county, Nevada would be replaced with the suburbs of Denver and a whole new way of doing business and viewing the world.

When we left the Hawthorne Naval Ammunition depot, the base sported lush green and trim grass areas. Every building was manicured with the pride of the Navy. It was a beautifully maintained oasis in the desert. The housing community of Babbitt, Nevada was filled to the brim with families. Many of the yards were well kept. Countless happy children ran amok.  It was a place that facilitated a lovely childhood away from the streets and behaviors of the city. It would be a gift that would be fondly missed and cherished for a lifetime.

While the children ran free and got into all manner of trouble, the Federal workers that lived in Babbitt, Nevada, moved the bombs in and out on rail cars. Some bombs were destined for storage. Others were destined to be destroyed. Most went to Vietnam. Throughout Vietnam, the trainloads would come and go like clockwork and fill the 3000 bunkers to the brim. The Hawthorne Naval Ammunition Depot was truly the largest  “Arsenal of Democracy” in the world. Once the war was over, the downsizing would begin in earnest. The Brodhead family would not see the total destruction of Babbitt, Nevada and the place we lived as a young family. We would trade the East slope of the Sierras, the wide expanses, and the small town Nevada life for the East slope of the Rockie mountains and the suburbs of Denver.

 

 

 

 

 

My father would go from the NCOIC of operations at a multimillion dollar radar site to looking for a job in the stagnate economy of Colorado after the oil shale crisis. He had qualified to buy a home with a VA loan on just his USAF retirement. Once we moved in, he looked for a job for months. His first job after the service was selling smoke detectors. he only sold 1 or 2 and then got a job as a security guard.  My mother would land a job as a sweatshop seamstress making down filled jackets.

For years, my mother would buy us clothes at the Fallon Naval Air Station PX or Montgomery Wards in Reno or Penneys in  Fallon. No one in the Mineral school system cared if one wore generic label jeans and  BX tennis shoes. If one wore PF flyers, one was simply a stud that could run faster and jump higher. In the Longmont, Colorado school system, students adhered to a completely different fashion agenda. It soon became very clear that the school culture of Colorado was much more regimented than Nevada. Boulder county was home to a large IBM complex. The high paying jobs created somewhat of a class structure in Longmont. There were those with small ramblers with 3 bedrooms and one bathroom, and then there were those that built massive 4000 SQFT estates. Longmont was a conglomeration of several different stereotypes as well.

So, there was the” well to do IBM brats” that made up the corps of the high school social elite and jock gentry class. In the 1970s, time, there were very few orthodontists in Longmont, hence, the bulk of the jock boys and girls used the same dentist and similar teeth arrangements. Many of the IBM brats would all get braces at the same time. They would all get their retainers at the approximate same time. They all wore similar clothing as not to be different.  They considered themselves the top layer of Longmont High School strata and anyone that did not meet their standards were weird and unworthy. Of course many would do well in school and head off to CU or CSU bringing their perceptions and social constructs with them. They would fit snugly within the smug and stuck up sororities and fraternities.

Then there were the cowboys and farmers. For the most part, they accepted everyone. Unlike the city jocks, they actually knew how to work and be productive beyond sports and sitting on the hallway radiator next to the commons area. These youngsters would inherit their parent’s farm and proudly continue the journey as self-made hard working farmers.

Longmont also has a Hispanic population that has lived in Colorado since before the Mexican-American war. Most of the families raised well mannered and positive children that did well in school. In the 1970s, there were only a few Hispanics that caused trouble. Most of the trouble was caused by other factions.

Every micro-culture has the smart kids, skinny kids and kids that climb on rocks. I would transition from jock wannabee to freak status. A freak that could negotiate the champagne powder of the colorado Rockies on entry level skis like a champ. Skiing was a unifying theme in Colorado.  We must not forget the Band. We must not forget the Denver Broncos either.

I became a Bronco fan in 1973. At the Naval Ammunition Depot in Hawthorne, Nevada, I was a Cowboy fan. Doug Brown had a huge color RCA TV and was a Cowboy fan. We would watch Staubach, Tarkenton, and  Bradshaw go at it. The Landry offense was a thing of beauty to behold.

The relatively classless school age society of Babbitt and Hawthorne, Nevada was replaced by the expansive social envelope of Boulder County, Colorado. The single class of 15 to 20 7th graders was replaced by  a huge school with multiple classes and hundreds of students. The simple dress code of  the Nevada desert community would become Levi 501 jeans, converse tennis shoes, earth shoes, and baseball shirts from the local Sports center store. In the winter, it was Levi 501s, hiking boots and down filled jackets. Of course, my parents who had to watch every penny insisted on generic label jeans from the Lowry Air Force Base BX  or grotesque shoes from the Payless shoe store. In 1973 I refused to get LBJ crewcuts from my dad. That year, when we went to shop at the BX and commissary at Lowry AFB, I had it styled…

When I started 8th grade at Longs Peak Junior High School in Longmont, I was the short little kid from Nevada that wore weird clothes. In Mineral County, Nevada I had learned to fight and stand up for myself from numerous run-ins with the Lopez family. At the Longs Peak Junior High School, I was the smallest boy in the school and became an immediate target for being picked on.  The daily bus ride to school and waiting for class to start was brutal. If I was not being harassed on the bus, I was being pushed around before the bell would ring. It would happen again and again and again to and from school. Some bullies would wait for me to get off the bus at school and then immediately start to push me around and hit me. Then again, this would only go on for a little while before I went ballistic.

Many larger boys thought they could intimidate me. I did not see it that way. I was a nasty little kid from Nevada, and I was not afraid to fight. I would tell my dad about the harassment and he would finally tell me to cold cock anyone who abused me. The equation was quite simple. When the big kids would pick on me, I would attack them, grab them around the waist and tip them over. Then I would ground and pound while screaming at the top of my lungs. It was best to take them on when everybody was around so the fight would be broken up by the teachers before the tables turned. Then the social media of the day would get around that I did not take the shit and I was then left alone. I mean, when a 5 foot 9 big boy gets his ass beat by an 85 pound 4 foot 6 tall snotty nose Nevada kid, the word gets around. In school, if one is picked on, one simply has to fight back and gain respect. At Columbine, the outcasts brought automatic weapons and bombs.

Academically, I was way behind when it came to writing. I could hold my own on rudimentary math and reading, but it soon became clear that the Nevada school system was a grade or two  behind as it related to grammar and sentence structure. This reality was exacerbated for me when Longs Peak experimented with LTUs or Learning Training Units. Instead of face time with a teacher, one had to fill out LTU packets. At home, my German mother could not understand or even write 9th grade English, and my dad did not have the patience or propensity for tutoring, so I was on my own. In the classroom environment, I constantly needed help with grammar. The other students took notice and thought I was stupid , so, I withdrew and fell farther behind. In 10th grade, I would take a full load and end up with a 3.7 GPA. However, by 11th grade, I became alienated from the social regime of Longmont high school and fell from grace.My dad wanted me to go to the Air Force Academy, but the combination of social alienation and smoking weed helped plummet my grades to embarrassing levels.  I would graduate, but my grades precluded me from going to college. In August of 1978, I would enlist in the Air Force.

I am certain that had the family stayed in Nevada, I would have done better in school. The Mineral County school district had some of the most dedicated teachers and they had me dialed in. I was a successful work in progress, and the small class sizes were extremely beneficial. Mineral County had a very anti-drug culture and cared about the kids. I do not think I could have gotten away with the things I did in Colorado. But then again, Colorado exposed me to things and opportunity that were not available in Nevada at the time. I found mentors that helped me find my way. The auto shop would give me something to do and an avenue for vocational success later on down the line. An obsession with VW bugs would allow me to gain viable employment as a mechanic. It would also allow me to pay for tuition at Louisiana tech and Colorado State University.

I believe children benefit greatly from small town school systems and small class sizes.

Every school system is a microculture  that is repeated across the nation.  Each student becomes  a symbol of society as a whole. There is the smart girl, athletic boy, nerd, fat kid, ugly girl, bad boy, rich kid, poor kid, and so on. I was the little big mouth bad kid with ADHD in Nevada. That was my job. I would assume this role throughout my life. I lost interest in learning when I hit 16 years old. I would join the military and have to confront all the negative and dysfunctional adolescent  behaviors I had adopted over the years. Marijuana had stunted my mental growth and the behavior of the child was artificially extended. I had never grown up. In the Strategic Air Command, it was either sink or swim. The Vietnam era Air Force  alcoholics with zero interaction or positive management skills did not have time to bottle feed  a kid from Colorado. One was no longer a brat that was coddled and sheltered. Those days were gone. Now one looked forward to pushing maintenance stands through 2 feet of snow at 45 below zero. Now one looked forward to heavy B-52 tow bars, engine cowling, and rolling up double fuel pit carts. The bedroom in the familiar brick rambler was replaced by a 14-foot lead painted cell with the windows painted shut.  After a winter storm, the snow would be half way up the window. A VW bug in the parking lot would be completely covered up and indistinguishable.

The barracks became a haven in the face of 12-hour shifts on the flight line and working for cigarette smoking alcoholic  Vietnam veterans that treated the enlisted like shit. Of course, there were those that rose to the occasion and were successful under the harshest of circumstance, but I was immediately relegated to the bottom of the pecking order and the Air Force shit list. Later, I would be inducted into the Air Force shit list hall of fame.  Some simply said “to hell with it” and would not show up for work until they were discharged. I had a roommate that stayed in the barracks until they kicked him out. He did not think $300 a month clear was worth living in a barracks cell and being tortured by socially incompetent Air Force NCO lifer maggots.

The Strategic Air Command in the 1970s still retained a heinous level of racism. A Black Airman was treated with contempt,  especially first-termers. With a combination of  Strategic Air Command institutionalized racism and the scorn of the Southern redneck to contend with, many Black Airmen endured a tremendous amount of stress and bullshit.

My first term in the military felt like being a caged animal. The daily stress of working the SAC flight line and dealing with NCOs that ruled by intimidation became a real drag.

In reality, I did not have the emotional quotient, discipline, and resolve in order to compete at a consistent level. I was, however, a very competent mechanic and could be counted on to learn and perform every aspect of the job with expertise. Just like in high school, I shunned social competition, but I did the job and never missed a day of work. Over the 4 year period, I was only late a few times for work and did everything that was asked of me.

In SAC, there were the NCOs that were considered lifer maggots and then there was the Airman who grew their hair out of regs and did copious bong hits on the 3rd floor of the barracks. All we were interested in on a Friday or Saturday night was drinking beer, smoking the doobie, and chasing college girls. In order to deal with the shitty life of a SAC Airman at KI Sawyer AFB, we listened to Rock and Roll and got stoned in the barracks. We would use  “Super hold” to keep the hair off the ears. The saying of the day was FTA or “Fuck the Air Force.” Vietnam was only 5 years distant, and Airmen never wore their uniforms to the airport or in public. We were baby killers and treated with contempt by the media and public. We were also extremely underpaid and made less than a private sector part-time job at Walmart in the 80s.  Today folks in the military make more money than the private sector and go to extraordinary lengths to maintain affiliation. Today the volunteer military is much more dedicated than the drafted military of the past.

Today folks in the military make more money than the private sector and go to extraordinary lengths to maintain affiliation. Today the volunteer military is much more dedicated than the drafted military of the past. They are drug-free professional warriors that are dedicated to their craft and defending the American dream. The negative attitudes of the Vietnam era vet have been replaced with folks willing to be deployed in a war zone a dozen times in 8 years. 

The long hair of the 1970s has been replaced with the “Bureaucratic submissive buzzcut.”  “Don’t ask don’t tell”  has been replaced by sodomy in the barracks and same-sex Marines french kissing  “with tongue” at the Base chapel. The tiny little first term military allowance and driving old beater cars have been replaced by big checks, luxury apartments, and new BMWs.  Chasing women at bars have been replaced by surfing porn on the internet or playing video games.  

After WWII, the soldiers came back to a ticker tape parade. a great GI bill that they actually took advantage of. The GDP of the United States of America had grown from $90 billion in 1938 to $270 billion by 1945. All the modern economies of the world have either been destroyed or totally converted to war production. The WW II veteran could get a job, own a home, raise a family, send their kids off to school, and retire with a pension.   

The Vietnam era veteran came home to “Baby Killer!” It took both parents working to own a home. The once dominant US economy that had a monopoly on manufacturing and trade would see the economic rise of Japan, Germany, and other European countries.     

The Iraq veteran would come home to cheers and compliments. They would be given the most generous GI Bill in American history. sadly, only a small percentage would use the Bill and gain a degree.  It would now take two parents working full time to rent a dump apartment. The pension was a thing of the past. College tuition and board for worthless degrees would eclipse a year’s wages. The rise of China and technology would kill off millions of jobs. Instead of driving well maintained used cars, we would see Americans taking the bus as they clung to their $700 smart phones. Americans would become slaves to technology in an information age. Our young would become slaves to student loan debt and the resultant loss of credit from defaults. Home ownership would take a back seat to the monetary designs of an inept university system with massive budgets. 

While our patriot veterans were fighting and dying for the rights of radical Islamist 10,000 miles away, the same Federal government was absconding our 4th Amendment rights here at home. The Dot Com bust would become the “Computer Surveillance Complex!”  911 would be used to engage in regime change, nation building, and the expansion and militarization of a massive police state here in America.          

It only takes a generation for society to forget the heinous reality of war. Society can easily forget the war and be manipulated into proudly doing the bidding of special interest and the military industrial complex.  Today, as always, truth is the first casualty of war. Americans are now expected to go proudly and dedicatedly to war even if the war is simply a means for special interest to make money. 

Today the federal government class and special interest control this country and elections are simply scripted theater.  Globalization has gutted America’s economy. People are left with service based economy wages while the Government class and military make more money than the private sector. In order to hold onto status and a solid wage, many that work for the government and DOD  are turning into Kent State wannabees. We know this when police officers and federal employees execute unarmed nonviolent people or burn children alive like Waco.

The big picture developed from WWII and Vietnam was forgotten which allowed special interest to run our foreign policy and turn remote countries into training fields where they can and shoot off all the bullets. Today’s Pokemon go zombies can be talked into anything and the Woodstock generation stands idly by in hopes that their blood sugar stays below 700 and their dismal 401ks based on inept monetary policies do not collapse. 

The once proud war Woodstock protester is more worried about the rising cost of Obamacare than perpetual war. This has allowed the Federal government class to engage in decades of war without the pesky backlash from we the people.

Meanwhile, the young American worker will be asked to support a massive corrupt Federal government class, the military industrial complex, the computer surveillance complex, the pharmaceutical industrial complex, the healthcare industrial complex, and 80 million baby boomers on Social Security and Medicare. 

In lieu of liberty and the complete maintenance of the Bill of Rights, our coming generations are under constant surveillance and their behavior tracked like we live in an Orwellian police state. They are being divided and conquered as result of facilitating gender pronouns,  gender conflict, fake news, and the wholesale exploitation of ignorance.  The power and dignity of a good paying American job have been replaced by a service based economy selling Chinese products, student loan debt, shared financial misery and simply renting the American dream. 

The strong identity of a man and a woman is being turned into identity confusion. The herd is being culled. We know this when the propaganda ministry tells us that our schools systems must allow a man with a wig to use the little girl’s bathroom. Divide and conquer.  

The family vacation to Disneyland has become a trip to Starbucks for a $6 cup of coffee?

America’s  “greatest generation” will soon be completely gone. The baby boomer born in 1945 is 72 years old with 80 million in trail. It is now clear that our youngest generations will have to step up to the plate if they want to maintain the promise of America. It does not look good when 50% of the Democratic party are either socialists or ignorant lemmings. They willingly offer their wrists to the cuffs of socialism. We are not managing the age of technology, and information very well. It has become another avenue for special interest to make money and treat us like internet cattle. Then again, it was a Republicans president that shit on our Bill of Rights and called it the act of a patriot. .    

 

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From Babbitt to Baghdad (1st edit part 1 and part 2)

From Babbitt to Baghdad

My Father met my  mother in 1956 while stationed in Germany . His USAF radar unit was stationed at an old Luftwaffe airfield at Erding, Germany. My mother still lived at the farm outside of Hoenpolding which was 10 kilometers away. She worked at the base cleaning the billeting units. She rode her bicycle the 10 kilometers to and from work everyday. My father met her at a dance in Erding. Unlike many of the German women after WWII who gave into US soldiers, my mother would give Milton the full “no” treatment. Milton would not take “no” for an answer and became a pest. After a while, Rosina invited him to the family farm. The farm had been in the family name for over 300 years. My mother’s father had served as a German cavalryman on the Western Front for all of WWI. He was also a conservative senator during the Weimar Republic. When Adolf Hitler took over in 1933, Opa Zep would not take the oath to Hitler. The farm would then be taken by the Nazi party. Opa Zeppie would go into hiding and later spend time at Dachau concentration camp along with utter thousands of German WWI veterans that supported the Kaiser.

My mother had 6 sisters and 1 brother. The farm was 80 hectares and grew hay for their milk cows. The farm was carved out of the lush and green Bavarian countryside. The winters were cold and white, but the summers were warm and conducive to farming. The clouds would roll off the Bavarian Alps and deposit rain pretty much everyday. Then the clouds would give way to sunshine.

The cows would be pastured during the day. Later in the day, a bell would be wrung and the milk cows would head for the stalls for fresh hay and milking. During the 1930s in Bavaria, there were no milking machines. The 6 girls would manually extract the milk from the massive and healthy cows while they ate their fresh grass or hay. When Opa Zep would not take the oath to Hitler, the farm was nationalized and the family forced to live with relatives or friends. In lieu of eating healthy as a byproduct of farming, the family was reduced to poverty.Rosina and her twin sister Magdalena would suffer the effects of malnutrition as infants.     

My father was a very intelligent man and quite a talker. He learned how to speak German  quickly and fluently.  He loved to talk of the farm and Germany. Whenever we revisited Germany later in his life, he would speak good German everywhere we went.  If the schnitzel was good, he always had the waitress bring the cook to the table.

He would then compliment the cook in German. Many times they would  reciprocate by giving him a free tall glass of beer and telling him to keep the beer glass.

My mother’s China cabinet was full of German beer mugs and glass. Germans love it when an American actually takes the time to learn German and speak it well. During Vietnam my father would send my mother tape recordings in German because she could not read and write English well if at all.

My father loved Germany. He loved skiing in the Bavarian and Austrian Alps. He loved the people, the food, and his newly acquired relatives. My parents would be married in an old German Catholic Church in Bavaria in 1957. My sister would be born on Amarillo Air Force Base, Texas on 24 July,1958. I would be Born May 4th ,1960 at Westover, Air Force Base three days after Francis Gary Powers was shot down over the Soviet Union.

The marriage to a German Catholic woman would not go over too well with Milton’s family. They were New Hampshire Methodists that had live in New Hampshire since 1800. Laconia, New Hampshire was the place that the book and TV series Peyton Place was based on. The Brodheads were from British Imperialist stock dating back to 1664. The progenitor of the family Captain Daniel Brodhead I was from Yorkshire England. He would come to America as part of the Nichols Expedition.He would be “second in command” and led the 400 British troops that disembarked Man-O-Wars and took control of New Amsterdam away from the Dutch. New Amsterdam would then be called New York and English speaking rule established.    

After Westover, the family was stationed at Glasgow Air Force Base, Montana. Then we would move to Babbitt, Nevada the summer of 1963. A few months later, John Fitzgerald Kennedy would be assassinated. I was only 3 years old at the time, but my dad told us later that Kennedy’s assassination was a traumatic event. I was the same age as John junior, and my sister was the same age as Caroline  Kennedy. The Kennedy “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech was close to my mother’s heart.

Our first trip back to Germany was in 1965, We would fly on a Pan Am jet across the ocean to Paris and then on a piston engined prop job to Frankfurt. Even at 5 years old, I remember the noisy engine.

Babbitt, Nevada was a Federal housing project that was built to house the Hawthorne Naval Ammunition depot employees.  The Hawthorne Naval Ammunition depot is the largest ammunition storage facility in the US.  The housing project had streets that were named after US Naval ships. We lived at 1202 Lexington avenue. It was the last duplex unit on Lexington, avenue. The Strategic Air Command radar site my dad worked at was a block away. The radar site looked like two huge golf balls. It also sported other radar types that would fry birds when they flew by to closely. We did not have a phone. My dad walked to work a block.

We had a black and white TV, and only two stations. There was only CBS and NBC. Walter Cronkite was on CBS and Walt Disney was on NBC. We did not get ABC. I remember the Vietnam body count, and the NBC peacock in black and white. Walt Disney was on at 7 PM Sunday night.  We always had to take baths before we could watch Walt Disney. At 8pm, we had to go to bed while my father watched the FBI with Efrem Zimbalist jr. Sometimes we would get to watch the FBI.

Atop the old refrigerator sat the AM radio.  It was white with big red knobs. It was a tube type radio and could only pick up one AM station. There would always be a moment of silence when Elvis came on. My German mother loved Elvis. In Babbitt, Nevada during the 1960s, the station only played country music. Rock and roll could only be listened to on TV shows like Ed Sullivan. Nevadans were reactionary and thought rock and roll polluted the minds of children. My first rock and roll album was Neil Young  “Crazy horse.”

I remember how my dad could actually fix a tube type TV or radio. He had attended the New Hampshire technical institute and studied electronics before he enlisted.  At the radar site he was the NCOIC of operations. He was always training people. He could talk about every aspect of electronics and resite Ohm’s law to the fullest from memory. He also taught gun safety. later, he would have a part time job cutting hair at the base BX. To save money, the enlisted would bring their kids to our house and get free hair cuts. It was always the same. Inevitably, the kids would all get the Milty cut of bleeding on the sides and short on top. After a while, many kids in the neighborhood had LBJ/Milty style crew cuts. I would be 12 years old when I finally said to hell with your crew cuts.

When the TV burned a tube out before “Old Yeller” or “The yearling” it was a family crisis. If it went out during Daniel Boone, Bonanza, and Gun smoke,  it was damn tragedy.  I remember my Daniel Boone coon skin hat and musket. Of course this became a Daisy model 1895 Winchester bb gun. That in turn, became a Marlin 3030 or 12 gauge shotgun.

Babbitt, Nevada was a safe community. My sister and I would walk to school every day. Even at 5 years old, we would run all over the neighborhood.  All the parents knew who you were and where you lived. Even in a previously segregated community, everyone looked after the children regardless of color or ethnicity. We knew every family on every street by name. My father never spoke ill of other races, hence, I was not taught racism in the home. As an Air Force NCO, my father adhered to Martin Luther King’s position of judging people by “Content of character!” Milton spoke highly of folks that did their best. He had nothing but respect for hard working people. My mother never spoke ill of anyone.  

We had to be home at 5 pm for my mom’s good cooking. If one did not make it home at 5 pm, one would almost get the belt. Plus my mom would be pissed. My dad had a homemade belt made from a deer he had shot in the Belknap’s of New Hampshire. My 5 foot tall German mother new how to use it.  Her specialty was hitting the legs with the belt. As an ADHD psycho brat, I was used to the belt. Even the Mineral county school district teachers loved to beat on me. I cannot remember how many times Nevada teachers paddled my ass. Today, a kid that suffered from my level of ADHD would have been under severe medication. In Nevada, humiliation and the paddle got the job done.  The paddling only made me mentally tougher. Today, they medicate kids into submission.

The Mineral county Primary school was only a few blocks away. Mineral county only had one classroom per grade. I remember only  15 to 20  kids per class. My classmates were the sons and daughters of every military service ,as well as ,Federal employees and local whites, blacks, Hispanics and Paiute Indians. I would attend school with the same classmates year after year.  I was the big mouth in the class with the Napoleonic complex. I was very small as a child. In fact, I did not make it past 5 feet until 10th grade. Today, I am close to 6 feet and 250 pounds with the Napoleonic complex of a 4 foot tall  75 pound 6th grader.

For a child, Babbitt had everything. We had a wooden baseball stadium complete with dugouts and a grand stand. We had a massive playground at the Safeway. We had fenceless massive tracts of desert and mountains to roam. There were no computers or violent video games.Children did not stay in the house and sit on their asses. Children went outside and ran amuck. We rode bicycles or walked for miles in the desert.  

 

The Safeway playground was 2 acres of grass, huge swings, a huge metal missile with three levels, a huge slide and a huge carousel. The swing set had to be 20 feet high with sturdy chains. One could literally swing the height of a house. The playground carousel was huge. If there were 5 or 6 kids on it, we could get it going so fast that the riders would get pinned to the side posts from centrifugal  force. So, as long as the kids kept spinning the carousel, one was pinned. This was predicated on kids of equal body weight on opposite sides of the carousel. Sometimes a big kid would show up and spin the carousel for several minutes. After awhile, the kids would be sick from dizziness and beg to be let off. In Babbitt, we had a designated big kid whose only purpose was to spin the carousel. He would become part of the “Babbitt Hall of fame” as the guy who could spin the carousel and make kids puke. Whenever there were kids at the park, it would only be a matter of minutes before he would show up to spin the carousel. Soon, we would get all the kids in the neighborhood to ride the carousel and let the big kid pin them to the posts like a fighter pilot in a G force machine.  

The park swing was so large that we could put a wooden pallet from behind Safeway on it.  We would use two swing seats and expand them. Then we would put the wooden pallet between the seats. The spacing of the wood boards would lock it into place. Then, several kids could jump on it. So, 4 or 5 kids would be on this pallet swinging 12 feet in the air. Then like characters in “Lord of the flies,” we would try to knock each other off to see what happens when a seven year old gets ejected at 10 feet from the ground.

In the Babbitt housing project, there were playgrounds every few blocks.  Each had an awesome selection of playground  equipment. One of the swing set areas was dominated by a 2 year old that always had a huge turd in his diapers. He was the spitting image of Bambam. He once offered me a fistfull of melted M&Ms that had been in his hand for an hour. He was always snotty nosed, dirty faced with a baseball sized turd in his undies. By the end of the day, the diaper would actually be dragging the ground. Other than that, he was a gangsta.

The baseball stadium was  the most epic however. We had a huge covered grandstand, lights, a scoreboard, back stop, and real dug outs. The grass was green, and we even had a snack bar and game announcer over loud speaker. My first team was called the Dodgers. We had real blue and white baseball uniforms, and blue hats. That year, we were beat by Paiutes from Schurz, the Black Aces. They had a little league pitcher that had the fastest curve ball in the state of Nevada. The next year, I was on the Naval base team and we were called the Stingrays. We beat both Schurz teams that year. That year, I became the catcher instead of an outfielder. Our teams were made up of every ethnicity and branch  of service. Little league fosters belonging and team building skills. These style of inclusive activities are  positive and nurturing for children in general. When I was playing outfield, I remember having to cross my legs so I didn’t piss my pants.Once, I even shit my pants after standing out there for 9 innings. After school on the way home, I would often shit my drawers before making it to the bathroom. I would make it to the playground across the street from our house, walk like I had a stick up my ass and accidentally cut loose after a tremendous effort and sphincter battle that lasted blocks and block. As a last resort, I would sit on the swingset. Inevitably, once I got up and my hands touched the  gray galvanized handles of the slide, my sphincter would give up the ghost and  I would fill the Fallon NAS PX “Fruit of the loom “ shorts with the fruit of kiddie feces. Once I arrived home, my mother would know immediately that I had shit myself again.         

If we weren’t playing baseball or  hanging out at the Safeway park, we were playing in the tree line that circled the base and housing. Once we were tired of that, we would go lizard hunting in the desert or walk to Walker lake.Soon, we would have horses and minibikes. My first mini bike was a Briggs and Stratton 2 horse power with no suspension. My dad bought it for $25. By then, we were living on the base at 400B Connolly  drive. When I needed gas, I would simply ride it to the base gas station. Gas on the base was 20 cents a gallon, so a fill up was 10 cents. To get the money, I would go through the trash can outside the Marine barracks, Post exchange, or swimming pool snack bar, and look for coke bottles.  It was either that or checking every vending machine or phone booth for left change. Back then, a coke bottle was worth a nickel. A nickel bought a big hunk or a box of lemon heads. 3 coke bottles meant a full tank of gas and a Hershey bar, 5th avenue or  a handful of bubble gum or penny candy.

I remember when grape flavored bubble gum came out. One of my heroes was Bazooka Joe. On Friday and Saturday nights everyone would head to the drive in theater or the Jolly Cone. Then there was having dinner at the El Capitan. Another enjoyable event was camping and fishing in the Sierra Nevada’s 50 miles away.  It was only a short drive to Mono lake, Lee Vining and the east portal of Yosemite and Tioga pass.

We started camping at June lake, Silver lake, and Grant lake, but the fishing at Lundy lake was much better and way closer to Hawthorne. Lundy lake had some of the best fishing anywhere.  There was good fishing on the lake, but the river below the dam was epic. We would catch stringer loads of German Browns.

Several families from the base would haul their travel trailers and tents for a 3 day weekend of fishing, barbecuing, and burned marshmallows. The Breck family had 8 kids. The other families might have had 2 or 3. Either way, there would be 15 kids with fishing poles and BB guns running a muck.

We would always make it back before the sun started to go down because, there would be a huge fire, plenty of tinfoil and lemons for the trout. Everyone, would quickly clean the day’s catch. Then, the trout would be put onto a big piece of Reynolds wrap. The trout would get a piece of butter, fresh ground pepper, and a lemon slice. It would be sealed up and placed on the coals along with corn on the cob, and hot chocolate. After the trout meal, it was marshmallow time.

For an ADHD child, river fishing is a real treat. I mean, I could not wait until I had my fishing pole in hand. I knew exactly what to do and what to take. Within minutes of arriving at camp, my sister and I would be out of sight.I can still smell the new canvas of the Pup tent that I used. Back then, a Coleman sleeping bag was well made, well insulated, and made in the USA.

By the time the sun went down, all the kids were tired from running up and down miles and miles of pristine river. We did not care about the surface that we were sleeping on.In the morning, we would wake up to a huge breakfast cooked over an open fire. Then it was off to the river for another 12 hours running a muck.

The little town of Hawthorne, Nevada was surrounded by high desert. In the background and just a mile away was Mountain Grant. It rose quickly from about 4000 feet to 11,400 feet. Several canyon roads accessed the high valleys of Mount Grant. All one needed was the key to the gate, and one could drive to the top of the mountain. One year, a bunch of folks from Hawthorne and the Naval base got together and did a trail ride to the high meadows of the mountain. Dozens and dozens of horses were involved. At the time, we had two horses Chipper and Swinger. One was a brown and white gelding real Nevada cow pony  and the other was a black and white mare. It took us two days of riding to reach the high mountain pasture area. Once there, the group availed itself to evening fires, tasty dinners and big early morning breakfasts. The camp cook had a huge cast iron griddle. He would cook everything over the fire, and feed over 20 people.

I was at a full gallop heading across a meadow when Chipper and I came upon a cattle loading trench. Chipper stopped immediately, and I went over his head and landed in the ditch on my back. I was OK. A cattle loading ditch is an angular cut into the earth so a truck can back into it and load cattle. Little britches rodeo would become a slight obsession. I had one of the fastest and most talented horse in Mineral County. Chipper could herd cattle, barrel race and pole bend like a champion. He could also carry a 250 pound man all day. We ended up selling him to a fella that lived by Lucky boy pass. The last time I saw him, he was standing in a foot of horse shit. That broke my heart. I still have anxiety about not being a better child and taking better care of this animal. I was a spoiled brat.  My parents did everything they could to shield us from the real world. Nevada was our little oasis. A place where children could run and play like there is no tomorrow.

I remember when Hot wheels and Hot wheel tracks came out. Soon, all the neighborhood kids would get together and build massive Hot wheel tracks. My dad had built a flat top garage next to the the federal housing duplex we lived in. He had just purchased a 1966 Ford Country Sedan with a 289. and a sand storm had ruined the paint job. So he built a garage to put it in. We would climb on top of it and build our Hot wheel track. By the time we had finished building the track, it would start on top of the garage and end across the yard, over the sidewalk and onto the street. It would have a huge loop and then a jump at the end. The only thing that would interrupt the racing event was my mom’s  home-made koolaid popsicles.

Hotwheels tracks would give way to mini bikes.One of the coolest thing one could do in the desert is find a car hood, a rope and attach the stuff to a dirt bike. One of the older kids in the town had a 400 Bultaco two stroke. He would pull us across the desert. The shape of the  1940s Oldsmobile car hood allowed us to jump sagebrush. Most of the time, however, we just ate sand. A little later, I would get a Yamaha mini enduro and all hell would break loose. The foothills of Mountain Grant would become our playground. We would ride for miles and miles and miles and up every knook and canyon.

On the base,we had a very nice football field with green grass. We rigged up a rope and sleeping bag combination. Then I would tow kids on the grass field with my mini enduro.

My father was an avid hunter and sportsman. During the 1960s, the Walker lake water level was much higher. We would fish Navy beach at the South end of the lake. Back then, the water level at the treed area of Navy Beach was up to my chest close to the shoreline.Today, at Navy Beach, the area is covered with natural pasture land and the lake has lost 80 feet.  I remember when my father caught a 3 foot long Cutthroat trout. It was almost as long as the bath tub at our Babbitt duplex. It had swallowed the hook line and sinker, so we had no choice but to eat it. Back then, we caught trout right off the beach. Swimming at Walker lake was a love hate relationship. We loved swimming and fighting for an inner tube place, but if one ingested the water, one would puke because of the PH level.

The Hawthorne Naval Ammunition depot had a place where they threw away wooden boxes and pallets. Sometimes, my father would  get copious fresh wood and huge boxes for building tree forts. The treeline was littered with tree forts. I once built a three story tree fort.  The Brecks built a huge tree fort out of a massive cargo container made of wood. It was in a huge Cottonwood tree close to the Hawthorne dog pound. The tree was located at a irrigation pipe that fed the entire tree line. The water came off of Cat Creek and Black Beauty reservoir. I was once captured by the Brecks and enslaved. So, Robert Brecks and I had to load up buckets of rocks for their ammunition and outfit the tree fort for long sieges. Alas, we came back later and attacked them with homemade slingshots.

When GI Joes came out, I begged my parents for GI Joe with kung fu grip and lifelike hair. Instead of the GI Joe jeep, I had to settle for a faggie Ken-mobile. I cut that into a truck. My friends and I would set up elaborate breastworks in the tree line and man them with GI joes. It would look like a Vietnamese prison camp. Then we would blow up the GI Joes with firecrackers and BB guns. If we found a Ken doll, he would get tortured until he told us the secret. We were soldiers in training. A GI Joe could take a beating before it gave up the ghost.

My favorite bike was a 3 speed stingray with a banana seat and sissy bar. I outfitted that with a double canteen belt. I rode that bike all over Hawthorne, Babbitt and the base. I made a mistake and turned it into a chopper.

When I was a toddler, I rode my tricycle towards Hawthorne  from 1202 Lexington. I made it passed the radar site only to be picked up by Clarence the highway patrolman. He said, that I had my right blinker on and was about to turn onto highway 95 across from the airport.

I don’t remember our first dogs Nellie and Pawchie. Someone in Babbitt had poisoned them when we first came their. I do remember when we obtained Mitzi the cat. My mom climbed up a cottonwood tree to get her. She would be with us for over 20 years. Our first Dachshund was named Baron Von Cocktail. He had a crook in his tail. He hated me after I accidentally road over him with my bike. He would hang out with us in the treeline, but once we were at home, he avoided me like the plague. Our next door neighbor had a full sized dachshund named Alex. He must have been 30 pounds with a wonderful demeanor. He always hung out with us. He was hit by a car at his hind quarters when we came out of the treeline. I cried so hard. I can still remember how he was up on his front legs and looking at us for guidance. Everyone loved Alex.

As a child, I was very ADHD. I remember all of my teachers from Kindergarten to 7th grade. Each had an impact on me whether it was positive or negative. The last teacher I had was during seventh grade. She read us “Hiroshima”  and “Animal Farm!” She also liked to pick her nose. Imagine a classroom of kids secretly watching the teacher. Like clock work, the teacher would dig into her nostrils and then pull out a huge booger. Then she would analyze it like a jeweler analyzes a diamond. After gazing at the booger like it was thing of beauty, she would dispatch the hardened mucous into her mouth. Sometimes, she would allow the booger to dry on her finger while she read to us. As soon as she was done reading  a page about the horse getting sent to the slaughter house, she would gobble it up like it was a prize. Every week day for the entire school year, we were treated to the teacher gorging on huge dried Nevada boogers. What a treat. Of course, the behavior would cure all seventh graders of picking their noses and eating boogers from then on.

In third grade, the teacher taped my mouth shut with masking tape and put me in the corner. She actually wrapped the tape around and around my head. When my dad found out, he went to the school and chewed her ass. My 6th grade teacher paddled me for throwing a snowball.

My mother was 4 feet eleven and barely spoke English. She worked in the Mineral County school cafeteria. So, I got to see my mom every day at lunch time. All the kids would politely say “hello Mrs. Brodhead” as she spooned out a ball of  mushy salmon cake. We always looked forward to pizza or fish sticks day. In the little town of  Hawthorne, one was quite popular if one dished out the pizza or fish sticks….. It is all relative.

Mr. hardy was our Music teacher. He was one of my favorite teachers. I remember when Mrs. Odoms showed me how to take a pulse.

Once a month, we would go to the Fallon Naval Air station BX and commissary.  My dad had several ice chests, and the 1966 Ford country sedan had copious room for food. He would fill it up with food because Safeway was way too expensive. Every year, the Naval base at Fallon would have a “Toy land!” They would dedicate a big room event room for just toys. When Christmas came around, the first order of business was to talk our parents into taking us to the Fallon NAS.

When the Vietnam war ended, my father retired from the Strategic Air Command after over twenty years of service. A new lieutenant had tendered him a less than stellar enlisted performance report, so he said  “to hell with it” and called it quits in August of 1973. He pondered keeping the family in Hawthorne, Nevada and working on slot machines at the El Capitan, but Colorado was calling. My German mother had an identical twin sister that lived in Denver. Ultimately, the family would move to Longmont, Colorado and purchase a little rambler on a horse acre in Boulder County. The rambler would cost $28,500. Now the little 1500 square foot rambler is worth $400,000

For me, at 13 years old, moving to Colorado was a new adventure. My mother, on the other hand, would cry from Hawthorne to Austin as we made our way across Nevada on highway 50.  The family had lived in Babbitt, Nevada or on the Hawthorne Naval Ammunition depot since 1963. My sister and I had attended school with the same 15 to 20 children from Kindergarten through 7th and 9th grade. She and I were a known quantity and had nothing to prove to anyone. We belonged and we left  friends, teachers, and familiarity behind. We were leaving the foothills of the Wassuk mountains, Walker lake, and the immense beauty of western  Nevada and the Sierras. We would trade a small town and miles and miles of open range for the Eastern slope of the Rockies and copious less freedom. Vast tracts of desert and mountains that were open to dirt bikes and horses would be replaced with a few places  to ride. The freedom culture of Mineral county, Nevada  would be replaced with the suburbs of Denver and a whole new way of doing business and viewing the world..

For years, my mother would buy us clothes at the Fallon Naval Air Station PX or Montgomery Wards in Reno or Penneys in  Fallon. No one in the Mineral school system cared if one wore generic label jeans and  BX tennis shoes. If one wore PF flyers, one was simply a stud that could run faster and jump higher. In the Longmont, Colorado school system, students adhered to a completely different fashion agenda. It soon became very clear that the school culture of Colorado was much more regimented than Nevada. Boulder county was home to a large IBM complex. The high paying jobs created somewhat of a class structure in Longmont. There were those with small ramblers with 3 bedrooms and one bathroom, and then there were those that built massive 4000 SQFT estates. Longmont was a conglomeration of several different stereotypes as well.

So, there was the” well to do IBM brats” that made up the corps of the high school social elite and jock gentry class. In the 1970s, time, there were very few orthodontists in Longmont, hence, the bulk of the jock boys and girls used the same dentist and similar teeth arrangements. Many of the IBM brats would all get braces at the same time. They would all get their retainers at the approximate same time. They all wore similar clothing as not to be different.  They considered themselves the top layer of Longmont High School strata and anyone that did not meet their standards were weird and unworthy. Of course many would do well in school and head off to CU or CSU bringing their perceptions and social constructs with them. They would fit snugly within the smug and stuck up sororities and fraternities.

Then there were the cowboys and farmers. For the most part, they accepted everyone. Unlike the city jocks, they actually knew how to work  and be productive beyond sports and sitting on the hallway radiator next to the commons area. These youngsters would inherit their parent’s farm and proudly continue the journey as self-made hard working farmers.

Longmont also has a Hispanic population that has lived in Colorado since before the Mexican American war. Most of the families raised well mannered and positive children that did well in school. In the 1970s, there were only a few Hispanics that caused trouble. Most of the trouble was caused by  other factions.

Every micro-culture has the smart kids, skinny kids and kids that climb on rocks. I would transition from jock wannabee to freak status. A freak that could negotiate the champagne powder of the colorado Rockies on entry level skis like a champ. Skiing was a unifying theme in Colorado.  We must not forget the Band. We must not forget the Denver Broncos either.

I became a Bronco fan in 1973. At the Naval Ammunition Depot in Hawthorne, Nevada, I was a Cowboy fan. Doug Brown had a huge RCA and was a Cowboy fan. We would watch Staubach, Tarkenton and  Bradshaw go at it. The Landry offense was a thing of beauty to behold.

The relatively classless school age society of Babbitt and Hawthorne, Nevada was replaced by the expansive social envelope of Boulder County, Colorado. The single class of 15 to 20 7th graders was replaced by  a huge school with multiple classes and hundreds of students. The simple dress code of  the Nevada desert community would become Levi 501 jeans, converse tennis shoes, earth shoes, and baseball shirts from the local Sports center store. In the winter, it was Levi 501s, hiking boots and down filled jackets. Of course, my parents who had to watch every penny insisted on generic label jeans from the Lowry Air Force Base BX  or grotesque shoes from the Payless shoe store. In 1973 I refused to get LBJ crewcuts from my dad. That year, when we went to shop at the BX and commissary at Lowry AFB, I had it styled…

When I started 8th grade at Longs Peak Junior High School in Longmont, I was the short little kid from Nevada that wore weird clothes. In Mineral County, Nevada I had learned to fight and stand up for myself from numerous run-ins with the Lopez family. At the Longs Peak Junior High School, I was the smallest boy in the school and became an immediate target for being picked on.  The daily bus ride to school and waiting for class to start was brutal. If I was not being harassed on the bus, I was being pushed around before the bell would ring. It would happen again and again and again to and from school. Some bullies would wait for me to get off the bus at school and then immediately start to push me around and hit me. Then again, this would only go on for a little while before I went ballistic.

Many larger boys thought they could intimidate me. I did not see it that way. I was a nasty little kid from Nevada, and I was not afraid to fight. I would tell my dad about the harassment and he would finally tell me to cold cock anyone who abused me. The equation was quite simple. When the big kids would pick on me, I would attack them, grab them around the waist and tip them over. Then I would ground and pound while screaming at the top of my lungs. It was best to take them on when everybody was around so the fight would be broken up by the teachers before the tables turned. Then the social media of the day would get around that I did not take the shit and I was then left alone. I mean, when a 5 foot 9 big boy gets his ass beat by an 85 pound 4 foot 6 tall snotty nose Nevada kid, the word gets around. In school, if one is picked on, one simply has to fight back and gain respect. At Columbine, the outcasts brought automatic weapons and bombs.

Academically, I was way behind when it came to writing. I could hold my own on rudimentary math and reading, but it soon became clear that the Nevada school system was a grade or two  behind as it related to grammar and sentence structure. This reality was exacerbated for me when Longs Peak experimented with LTUs or Learning Training Units. Instead of face time with a teacher, one had to fill out LTU packets. At home, my German mother could not understand or even write 9th grade English, and my dad did not have the patience or propensity for tutoring, so I was on my own. In the classroom environment, I constantly needed help with grammar. The other students took notice and thought I was stupid , so, I withdrew and fell farther behind. In 10th grade, I would take a full load and end up with a 3.7 GPA. However, by 11th grade, I became alienated from the social regime of Longmont high school and fell from grace.My dad wanted me to go to the Air Force Academy, but the combination of social alienation and smoking weed helped plummet my grades to embarrassing levels.  I would graduate, but my grades precluded me from going to college. In August of 1978, I would enlist in the Air Force.

I am certain that had the family stayed in Nevada, I would have done better in school. The Mineral County school district had some of the most dedicated teachers and they had me dialed in. I was a successful work in progress, and the small class sizes were extremely beneficial. Mineral County had a very anti-drug culture and cared about the kids. I do not think I could have gotten away with the things I did in Colorado. But then again, Colorado exposed me to things and opportunity that were not available in Nevada at the time. I found mentors that helped me find my way. The auto shop would give me something to do and an avenue for vocational success later on down the line. An obsession with VW bugs would allow me to gain viable employment as a mechanic. It would also allow me to pay for tuition at Louisiana tech and Colorado State University.

I believe children benefit greatly from small town school systems and small class sizes.

Every school system is a microculture  that is repeated across the nation.  Each student becomes  a symbol of society as a whole. There is the smart girl, athletic boy, nerd, fat kid, ugly girl, bad boy, rich kid, poor kid, and so on. I was the little big mouth bad kid with ADHD in Nevada. That was my job. I would assume this role throughout my life. I lost interest in learning when I hit 16 years old. I would join the military and have to confront all the negative and dysfunctional adolescent  behaviors I had adopted over the years. Marijuana had stunted my mental growth and the behavior of the child was artificially extended. I had never grown up. In the Strategic Air Command, it was either sink or swim. The Vietnam era Air Force  alcoholics with zero interaction or positive management skills did not have time to bottle feed  a kid from Colorado. One was no longer a brat that was coddled and sheltered. Those days were gone. Now one looked forward to pushing maintenance stands through 2 feet of snow at 45 below zero. Now one looked forward to heavy B-52 tow bars , engine cowling, and rolling up double fuel pit carts. The bedroom in the familiar brick rambler was replaced by  a 14-foot lead painted cell with the windows painted shut.  After a winter storm, the snow would be half way up the window. A VW bug in the parking lot would be completely covered up and indistinguishable.

The barracks became a haven in the face of 12-hour shifts on the flight line and working for cigarette smoking alcoholic  Vietnam veterans that treated the enlisted like shit. Of course, there were those that rose to the occasion and were successful under the harshest of  circumstance, but I was immediately relegated to the  bottom of the pecking order and the Air Force shit list. Later, I would be inducted into the Air Force shit list hall of fame.  Some simply said “fuck it” and would not show up for work until they were discharged. I had a roommate that stayed in the barracks until they kicked him out. He did not think $300 a month clear was worth living in a barracks cell and being tortured by socially incompetent Air Force NCO lifer maggots.

The Strategic Air Command in the 1970s still retained a heinous level of racism. A Black Airman was treated with contempt,  especially first-termers. With a combination of  Strategic Air Command institutionalized racism and the scorn of the Southern redneck to contend with, many Black Airman endured a tremendous amount of stress and bullshit.

My first term in the military felt like being a caged animal. The daily stress of working the SAC flight line and dealing with NCOs that ruled by intimidation became a real drag.

In reality, I did not have the emotional quotient, discipline, and resolve in order to compete at a consistent level. I was, however, a very competent mechanic and could be counted on to learn and perform every aspect of the job with expertise. Just like in high school, I shunned social competition, but I did the job and never missed a day of work. Over the 4 year period, I was only late a few times for work and did everything that was asked of me.

In SAC, there were the NCOs that were considered lifer maggots and then there were the Airman who grew their hair out of regs and did copious bong hits on the 3rd floor of the barracks. All we were interested in on a Friday or Saturday night was drinking beer, smoking the doobie, and chasing college girls. In order to deal with the shitty life of a SAC Airman at KI Sawyer AFB, we listened to Rock and Roll and got stoned in the barracks. We would use super hold to keep the hair off the ears. The saying of the day was FTA or “Fuck the Air Force.” Vietnam was only 5 years distant, and Airmen never wore their uniforms to the airport or in public. We were baby killers and treated with contempt by the media and public. We were also extremely underpaid and made less than a private sector part-time job at Walmart in the 80s.  Today folks in the military  make more money than the private sector and go to extraordinary lengths to maintain affiliation. Today the volunteer military is much more dedicated than the drafted military of the past.

The long hair of the 1970s has been replaced with the “Bureaucratic submissive buzzcut.”  “Don’t ask don’t tell”  has been replaced by sodomy in the barracks and same-sex Marines french kissing  “with tongue” at the Base chapel. The tiny little first term military allowance and driving old beater cars have been replaced by big checks, luxury apartments, and new BMWs.  Chasing women at bars have been replaced by surfing porn on the internet or playing video games.

It only takes a generation for society to forget the heinous reality of war. Society can easily forget the war and be manipulated into proudly doing the bidding of special interest and the military industrial complex.  Today, as always, truth is the first casualty of war. Americans are now expected to go proudly and dedicatedly to war even if the war is simply a means for special interest to make money. Today the federal government class and special interest control this country and elections are simply scripted theater.  Globalization has gutted America’s economy. People are left with service based economy wages while the Government class and military make more money than the private sector. In order to hold onto status and  a solid wage, many that work for the government and DOD  are turning into Kent State wannabees. We know this when police officers and federal employees execute unarmed nonviolent people or burn children alive like Waco.

The big picture developed from WWII and Vietnam was forgotten which allowed special interest to run our foreign policy  and turn remote countries into training fields where they can and shoot off all the bullets. Today’s Pokemon go zombies can be talked into anything and the Woodstock generation stands idly by in hopes that their dismal 401ks do not collapse. The once proud war Woodstock protester is more worried about the rising cost of Obamacare than perpetual war. This has allowed the Federal government class to engage in decades of war without the pesky backlash from we the people.

 

Massachusetts has had enough of Elizabeth Warren

Twenty years after my father’s death, my sister and I received a letter from the Veteran’s Administration. It seems that my father who had been exposed to Agent Orange in the jungles of Vietnam was finally awarded VA compensation.  The compensation would be given to my sister and I. In lieu of the current compensation benefits current soldiers receive, the benefits were based on currency valuations from the 1980s.  In order to receive the compensation, the VA needed a copy of our birth certificates.

I was born at Westover AFB in Massachusetts 3 days after U2 pilot Francis Gary Powers was shot down over the former Soviet Union., hence, my birth certificate was in Dorchester, Massachusettes on Mount Vernon street.

In 1775, Brodheads from Pennsylvania would  come to the defense of Boston. Brodheads would serve in the 1st American rifle regiment at Dorchester Heights and protect “The guns from Fort Ticonderoga.” Brodheads would also serve in Congress with John Quincy Adams. Back then, folks from Massachusettes had “Common Sense”.   Today, folks from Massachusettes have been talked into supporting a liberal dingbat. Today, Elizabeth Warren is considered a borderline liberal socialist dingbat, and a cheerleader for wealth redistribution, along with all manner of taxation. She is basically a whiner and a partisan hack that is unable to communicate across the aisle in the U.S. Senate. This suggests strongly that she is both lame and inept and should be voted out of office in 2018.

Pocahontas has made a fool of herself in just 4 years. In fact, her positions and political propensities belong more in Communist Cuba than the halls of American democracy.   Brodheads also passed legislation that funded the capitol building extension that created the West Wing, East Wing, Capitol Dome and Congressional Library. It is an affront to my family to allow Elizabeth Warren to inhabit these chambers. Please help me get rid of this whining reprehensible liberal dingbat so Massachusettes can move forward. New Englanders deserve better.

 

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From Babbitt to Baghdad (Part 45 )

When I first enlisted in the service in 1978, the end of Vietnam was 5 years distant. The fall of Saigon was just three years prior. Many of the anti-war  baby boomers called people in the military “Baby killers!”  They associated our patriot soldiers with the war mongers that ran the country. We never wore our uniforms in public.

After Desert Storm, the pride in the military was restored. Americans would now religiously support the troops regardless of the foreign policy. Soldiers were proud to wear their uniforms in public and were given copious compliments for their service. We always support the soldier. Once the inept leadership in Washington committed our troops to wars of choice, we must support them.

Everyone knows that Iraq was a mistake. However, Americans committed their boys and girls to Iraq and blood was shed. The Iraq war would be won on certain terms, however, the Obama administration would abandon all the work that was done. In order to prove a 2007 campaign position that the surge would not work, he abandoned Iraq. He could have amended the Bush Status of Forces agreement and left a rapid reaction force in the country. Instead, he withdrew and left Iraq to fend for itself. Then when ISIS and their 3000 to 5000 troops rolled into town, the Shiites ran from their posts.  They would basically give ISIS five thousand humvees and all manner of military hardware.

 

At that point in time, ISIS could have been squashed by US forces. Obama would pay zero attention with his thumb stuck up his ass. ISIS would plunder Iraq’s banks to the tune of utter billions. Enough money to pay the soldiers of a large land army. Hence, Obama created an Iraq civil war.  He would destabilize Libya and encourage revolution in Egypt. he would also transfer arms from Benghazi to Syria.  Would these weapons end up in the hands of ISIS?

Obama wasted almost a decade of blood and treasure to prove a position in 2007.

Now we have a Republican president with a neocon asskisser as VP. Every single Republican administration since Carter has run up Federal spending and deficits and got us into a war. We can now expect Republicans to run up debt and shop for another war.

The U.S. House, Senate, and Executive are simply the entertainment division of the military-industrial complex, the surveillance Industrial complex, the computer Industrial complex, the drug companies and the healthcare system.

Expect Trump to seek a huge spending increase for our military while our seniors can’t pay their utility bills.

Wars of choice are sold to the American people as a national interest when stock values go down. All of it is a lie.

The last 15 years have been an atrocity. Because of Bush and Obama, my mother’s beloved homeland of Germany is being overrun by sleeper cell ISIS terrorists.

Make America great again is basically code for Make America Neocon again.

Lets see what kind of bullshit they feed us this time.

I voted for Gary Johnson…

OK, I am done now! Now it is time to edit. WTF?

Message from Unified states of North and South America:

THX 0151  “””Your Computer is blocked”””   During a routine surveillance audit, the Peoples’ Surveillance Command has found your blog in violation of section 1 article 3 of the UN Bill of Order. The People’s  Surveillance Court in your sector has deemed your blog as racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, xenophobic, and hostile to Federal propaganda, and special interest backed foreign policy. You have been deemed an enemy of the state and Q3ed. You have been sentenced to 1 year in a Federal education and retraining camp. Your transportation has been arranged and you will be picked up in one hour. Please have all personal items assembled and be prepared for transportation to the Sierra re-education center for treatment. Be advised that any resistance will result in summary execution and immediate donor organ processing. Please allow the PSC access to your body chip and tattoo for identity verification. Thank you for your compliance in this matter.

THX 0151 will be off the air until it completes its reprogramming cycle.

The end.

 

 

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From Babbitt to Baghdad ( Part 44 )

When it was over at March AFB, I would seek transfer to McChord Maintenance. I had left maintenance in good standing at McChord in 1991. I had left March maintenance in good standing in 1990. They had seen how I worked hard to earn my 5-level in minimum time before transferring to the 728th. With 15 years time in grade, the maintenance folks at McChord actually showed me that they were putting me in a Master slot. They were bending over backward to welcome me.

My last road trip from March would go through Death valley to see the golden bloom of flowers that show themselves once in decades. I would then spend a few days in Babbitt, Nevada with friends from grade school. We would spend the night on Walker lake and see the August supermoon rise above the end of the massive lake.

The first drive down the long McChord road to maintenance was Pavlovian. My BP would rise, I would get an ache in my heart,  and the feelings of 313th rejection would invade my mind. I was a piece of shit to them.

My supervisor at maintenance was one of the best trainers and NCO any organization had to offer. I had known him since 1989. Instead of going with the flow, I would mentally implode and engage in the final destruction of my military power base. He would attempt to help me resolve my demise, but it would be to no avail.  I would give them the dysfunctional person that the fucking 313th fancied me as. It would become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In return, the Squadron Commander would block my ability to stay at the maintenance job. Hell, I hadn’t even gone to get uniforms or do any sort of base check in.  Moreover, the manning folks would later only allow me to work pushing on cargo, given that maintenance was now in full on rejection mode.  They did not want me around their precious C-17. They would also give me the opportunity to go back to March. but I declined.

My retirement ceremony was sitting by myself in a hanger with a C-17 watching some  Chief retire and a maintenance monkey showing everyone how he could turn on power on a C-17.

At March AFB, with 15 years time in grade, I could have been promoted for a day and retired. The rules would change. Not only would I have to stay 2 years after C-17 training, I would have to endure 3 years as an E-7 for the retirement aspect. Everybody else was promoted to Master and then left. I would have to play the game another 3 or 4 years just for $300 a month in retirement pay. The final kicker that set off my final mental demise was observing one of the Senior masters that I would be working for. He thought he was some kind of C-17 Gawd and would sit there in self-absorbed silence. He would not acknowledge a person when they came in the room and thought his shit did not stink. He showed that he did not value human equity or even the most rudimentary requirements for communication sustaining or nourishing interaction. No smile. No handshake. No kindness or professional courtesy.  I wanted to shout out, “You are a fucking ass hole aren’t you, too good to say hello? Fuck you!” There would be no way in hell that I would lower myself to this level of crap interaction skills. I had worked with the best people in maintenance at March, and this fella’s professional demeanor smelled like an outhouse rotting in the Arizona sun. I would rather fuck a pig than work for a fella like that. I mean, you’ve got to be kidding me.

By August of 2005, I was making $250,000 a year in rents and equity growth not counting my wife’s $120,000 a year  NIKE income with stock options. I had built a building and a business from scratch and run a successful business until I was activated. I had a 4-year college degree in technology, education, and training. I had an A&P license and FE tickets. Above all, I had decades of aviation experience from Boeing to operations and maintenance. Had I been mentally healthy,  and been able to muster the professionalism that had been presented to me at the 452nd, I would have run the 446th  flight line. This mother fucker had nothing on my me except functional mental health. By August 2005, my blood pressure was 160 over 120 and my military moxy was completely gone. Instead of self-managing so the organization would tolerate me, I could not tolerate them.  I would retire January 2006. I blew off all the bullshit retirement classes and the exit physical and told the Wing to simply put me in the Retired Reserves.

The loss of status would be atrocious. At one point, the associative anxiety disorder and loss of military affiliation would make me feel like I was having a heart attack. I would have to go to the VA emergency room and be put on BP meds along with a mental evaluation. Of course, there would be nothing wrong with me and as a conservative in the fight, I would never ask for a handout. After seeing all the patriot wounded, I would be ashamed to ask for anything save happiness and contentment. I had way too much dignity to ever ask for any sort of military welfare. Claiming any level of stress disorder would have been a cop-out and an insult to the troops that went door to door in Iraq.

I would email an ART at the 729th asking for a slot and he would say yes on my very last day prior to going to Retired Reserve. God bless you! You do not know what that meant to me at that time. Thank you from the very bottom of my heart.

The next 5 years would be hell as I repeatedly fixated with being in uniform again. I had lost status. I had lost a business. The less than spectacular camaraderie was replaced with zero communication.  Even though I was a multi-millionaire, that status would mean nothing next to the loss of status as a C-141C Flight Engineer.

At night, I would have fitful dreams about being in the Air Force uniform. My wife and all my friends would stand by as the desire to serve would rise and fall for years. I was going to do this and I was going to do that. They would stand by me and nourish me back to full strength.

The transition after service from 1978 to 2006 would be horrendous. Brodheads had been serving in uniform on the North American continent since 1664. In addition, I was conditioned to love the military by a father that spent 22 years in SAC and was exposed to Agent Orange for 6 months in the jungles of Vietnam. My entire life was a strict schedule of patriot conditioning.

Lastly, My great plus Granduncle would be the Commander of the Western department during the American Revolution. He had also served with George Washington through many battles as well as Valley Forge.  He would almost be Court Marshaled for using military recruitment appropriations to feed his starving troops versus recruiting more men. He would be stripped of his command for the remainder of the war after putting his life on the line for close to a decade. George Washington would promote him to general as well. We were among the Founding Fathers and supported the troop’s tooth and nail. I would be stripped of my military affiliation after diligent service to the country. I honored my family name and did what I had to do. Mental derangement and incompetence would force me from the field. Brodheads rose up against British Tyranny before George Washington even got out of bed. This Brodhead would help recruit folks from McChord only to be shit on by a few. Brodheads would serve during 8 long years of the American revolution only to be shit on by the War department.

You see, in order to remove myself from the Air Force and enjoy the freedom that I had fought for, I would have to murder my status. That was the only way out for me. It would have to be a dirty divorce. No, if and of butts. I would burn the bridge at both ends and let it fall into the Potomac. There was no other way out.

Today, I am entirely healed up and a very happy person. Instead of retiring a Master, I bought another rental and promoted myself. In lieu of a $300 a month retirement increase and dealing with McChord assholes, I can look forward to $1500 more a month and none of the bullshit. I am my father’s son and I learned from his mistakes.  Brodheads took care of the troops at Valley Forge under the direst circumstances. I would take care of the troops flying air evacuations out of Iraq. The Founding Fathers were our “Band of Brothers”. The 730th would be mine. That’s all I have got. Now if you will excuse me, I have to count through these Benjamins and head to the bank……..I love you all !!!!!!

 

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