Sergeant Major Basil Plumley: The Soldier with luck

Some men are born with all the luck.

Luck doesn’t translate Sometimes to money or riches.

Often Luck doesn’t translate to fast cars and women.

Occasionally it means someone you consider a bad guy throws a lot of bullets in your direction and you don’t catch any and die.

Retired Sergeant Major Basil Plumley died of cancer at 92. He got to hold the hand of the woman he married 63 years earlier while he said his goodbyes to the world and the country he helped defend.

This is what makes him lucky.

Because the United States Army tried its hardest to kill the man.

Born right down the street from Beckley West Virginia, he was whip thin at about 156 pounds and a hairs breath under six feet tall.

He fought in three major battles in World War Two, Normandy, Operation Market garden and the Invasion of Palermo Italy. He got combat jump wings in each battle. He wasn’t even a boot on the ground.

Not just one of the many green uniforms to shoot at.

He occupied a glider thousands of feet above the ground looking to land with his artillery cargo attached. Artillery that would help save the lives of his fellow troops. He threw those rounds bigger than his head at the enemy from behind.

I know the images of the battle of Normandy, men climbing from boats and taking bullet after bullet. Bodies littering the ground, the moaning, the screams of the dying everywhere.

Imagine being in a completely powerless glider gliding through the air thousands of feet off the ground high in the air surrounded by antiaircraft fire, as it explodes all around.

I guarantee a change of pants would be needed at the end of that day.

Then after beating the Nazis in Europe this soldier keeps his uniform on and goes to Korea and jumps out of a plane to help fight Communists.

After that he fights in Vietnam during one of the first Air Mobile/Assualt attacks in military history. I have read books about this engagement. A company versus a viet cong division. He stood and fired a nine millimeter handgun and is quoted as saying, “if it’s your day it’s your day.”

It wasn’t his day.

He retired in 1974 and I am happy that he got almost forty years to relax. After what he did with his life and all the death and destruction he had to witness.

We have heroes in the country who have dived onto grenades. Or attack fixed fighting positions. Or climb over rubble looking for survivors on dates that will live in infamy throughout U.S history.

But the true heroes are guys like Basil.

He woke on three separate dates and we sent him to war.

For most of his adult life he had to deal with those realities.

I couldn’t imagine it.

As we celebrate Basil and what he gave to the country I want to also stop and think about all the soldiers that have defended our country four or five times in the last twelve years. Constantly rotating back and forth from war to home.

It’s not just the soldier either war takes its toll. It the families that give as well. Without Deurice Dillon could Sergeant major Basil Plumley have done what he did?

If I had my way flags would fly at half-mast today. Or any day a veteran dies. I don’t know. I did not serve my country like he did. I put on the uniform, but never had to throw bullets down range. My hope is less and less of America’s youth will ever know what it feels like to do such a thing.

But in the meantime thank you Sergeant Major Plumley for being tough, tougher than any normal man can ever hope to be and rest knowing a population owes you their thanks as well.

Lance Armstrong is a Doper

Lance Armstrong is a doper.

He used drugs when he was 25 years old to win a fight. The fight was against cancer and the drug was a cocktail called chemotherapy.

15 years later, after 7 tour de France victories, of battling his body against the bodies of other athletes it was been announced that Lance Armstrong is again doping, this time not to win against a fatal disease, but against other athletes to claim titles and prestige.

This denouncement came when he was attached to the biggest, most scientifically advanced, steroid usage scandal ever to rock the world of sport.

Maybe this is only a New York commercial, it has the, “I pick things up and put them down, guy,” if this is just a New York commercial then the rest of the world will be lost, unless you click on the link here, when I think of a juicer, that’s what I think of. There is no doubt the guy in the commercial is a juicer. Big bulging muscles no flexibility a small head and a huge body.

Complete opposite of any cycler I have ever seen including Armstrong.

The USADA is the anti-doping agency for the States. Its mission is to make sure humans compete against other humans while not using drugs, or other non-natural means to win competitions.

In the latest news section on their web page, in tiny script at the bottom, there is a note about the controversy. The letter says “…The evidence shows beyond any doubt that the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team ran the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.

The evidence of the US Postal Service Pro Cycling Team-run scheme is overwhelming and is in excess of 1000 pages, and includes sworn testimony from 26 people, including 15 riders…”

11 riders came forward and admitted that “something” was done whether it was doping or questionable training methods.

Lance Armstrong has both denied the allegations and has refused to defend himself. He retired shortly after the investigation began, refused to testify and though there are rumors the USADA will attempt and strip Armstrong of his championships and other achievements they really don’t have the authority to do so anyway.

He fought and won his life. Are they going to take that from him?

Stupid point. But still kind of valid.

Not that it really matters if they do. This mans one life has been more incredible then most people could do with twenty lifetimes.

He fought and beat cancer.

Won 7 tour de Frances, amoung other things.

Has run marathons and triathlons.

Dated and woman judged perfect by the world.

The three names of those who have chosen to defend themselves are Johan Bruyneel, the team director; Dr. Pedro Celaya, a team doctor; and Jose “Pepe” Marti, the team trainer.

I am looking forward to hearing these professionals testify. I would like to see the thousands of pages of documents and evidence linking this celebrated athlete to any kind of drug other than the kind that saved his life when battling cancer. I am happy these three are brave enough to stand up and say,”bull shit.” I want to see the evidence. I will never be able to read through it, thousands of pages,right, but I think I can handle a summary.

Until then maybe the American people can ask congress to look into why another government agency is conducting a witch-hunt and wasting taxpayer money trying to prove their worth. I know drugs are bad M’kay but fuck what happened to individual liberties in this world, especially when the whole sport does it and does it for the soul sake of recovery not growth or development.

Felix the not so Cosmic Jumper

There is this guy, Felix, from Austria, 43 years old, who wants to jump half way from space. I am impressed by his bravery. I am also impressed that the news media wants to make the guys attempt more then what it is, because by itself it’s pretty amazing. He wants to take a helium balloon 120, 000 feet up into the stratosphere than jump. Every article I seem to fine suggests he is jumping from space.

Space starts at 380,000 miles up.

The picture is worth checking out. Trust me click on the link and tell me if you could jump or not.

If he jumps that is cool as fuck.

His main intention though is to break the sound barrier without use of a vehicle. So my thinking gets hairy from here.

Now I always assumed that an object in motion will stay in motion until reacting with a force of equal of greater value.

Or some such thing.

My last physics class was prior to 1995 and Wikipedia was just a bit helpful, lots of equations I don’t understand, so bear with me.

Before I saw the picture, In my mind he sat on the edge of a balloon, of course in a wicker basket, will wave goodbye and jump off.

Now being the effects of gravity on his body will not affect terminal velocity in the thin air of the high atmosphere the fastest he can hope to achieve will be a modest 620 miles per hour. I am being sarcastic that will be an amazing achievement, but he will not break the sound barrier.

Even if he jumps at twice the distance the closer he gets to earth the friction in the air would slow him down and potentially burst him into flame. His body moving straight down at 120,000 will never go any faster than 620 MPH and he needs to get to 768 miles per hour needed to break the sound barrier, unless he is given a push or has some sort of accelerant that will push him down terminal velocity will stop his attempt when he nears earth.

He is being sponsored by Red Bull, and all this makes sense being Red Bull gives you wings.

It is the Red Bull wings that they are counting on.

Believe me I am not trying to take anything away from the guy. I have never jumped out of anything higher than a helicopter with a rope, a rope I tied around my own waist, the end of which was gripped by another soldier pretending to be paying attention at the bottom on the ground probably thinking he would be jumping our soon himself. At least I was pretending to paying attention. The guy standing next to me almost lost his soldier who fell more than half way down before one of the Air assault cadres caught the rope and pulled it taut and saved him.

Back to Felix.

His jump was suspended because of high winds.

When the wind subsides and he makes his jump it will be the highest free fall followed by a safe landing by a person not connected to or inside a device of some kind has made to date.

Good for him, but none the less, unless Red Bull does give him some wings he will get close to the sound barrier, but will not exceed it.

Still though what a thrill, what a triumph of human imagination and Ingenuity. Go Felix!

Divorced from dad

I have had many moments of disappointment in my life, the saddest day occurred when my father walked away.

Like he was divorcing me and my siblings.

This behavior did not start with us. First it was my mother in 1987.

Than his brothers both within the next ten years.

Then his mother, Granted she said “You are going to hell.” I would probably be mad at my mom if she said something similar. His lifestyle was in discussion and prompted this statement. To know her, you have to either take the venom out of the statement by adding a lot of passive aggression, or imagine a pious woman in her seventies who sees death on the horizon and wants nothing more than to die knowing that she will meet all her children and grandchildren in heaven.

I have been subject to this discussion with her many times due to my humanistic beliefs. I am going to hell also because I don’t conform to the tight little box of rules she thinks one needs to follow to get into this place called heaven. To write her off and break her heart makes for heartless decision capabilities, though I haven’t spoken to her in almost a year for reason I will not mention as of yet .

A little background, in 1996 after my first year in the Army my father decided it was time to destroy some mythos and release himself from the restraints of the closet in which he hid his true nature.

The nature of a gay man.

Poor guy, I couldn’t imagine sneaking around pretending to be happy knowing that the only norm for a military officer was that of being straight.

And the military is strict on that shit.

When I was in basic training, I was informed, as a member of a mass audience, that it was illegal to engage in any sexual position other than missionary and oral sex was strictly taboo.

Both were offenses punishable by time in Leavenworth.

Being gay would mean a career was over.

So my Dad did his twenty and decided it was time to come clean about who he was. It took a while but it seemed like everyone accepted him for this lifestyle choice.

Maybe that was the opposite of what he wanted. Maybe being unaccepted was his intention. It is hard to know.

And it’s hard talking for everyone as well. I know I accepted his choice, or genetic disposition or whatever the experts are saying, my Dad was important to me, he was the person I looked up to. I joined the Army to be near him. I wanted to be the man he was. When he fought in desert storm as an artillery officer I was in seventh grade. It was the hardest year of my life.

I watched the news day and night.

I wanted to talk to him.

I wanted to hear everything was alright.

He wrote, and sent pictures and basically built up a resentment that never died, because he never got letter one from us.

He never received one letter from his kids. I guess all his buddies did. All the other officers. And those letters probably got hung up with crayon colored pictures on some bulletin board. Maybe he was embarrassed. “Where are the letters from your kids there Major,” his comrades would probably mock.

He would shrug and probably lie about keeping them to himself.

He did not get any.

He hated my mom when she left him. Like it was her fault. I guess she could have been weak and continued to be ignored by a man with no interest in her. Never forgave her. Wished me and my siblings all ill will, just so that one day he could point to her and say see. All he wanted was revenge on her.

My mom didn’t care one or another if we wrote. She would mention it, maybe you guys should write your father.

During that conflict we never did.

I did write one letter as a kid to my dad. I wanted a puppy. My mom wouldn’t let me have one so I wanted to leave Florida. I hated Florida anyway. It was hot and humid and hell on earth. I wrote him a letter and I asked to come live with him. Knowing now what I didn’t know then it would not have been possible, he would have had to give up his career, but I never received a response. We would get pictures and general inquiry letters but never a response came back from Germany addressing my request.

In 2002 with my mother dying of cancer, my dad did several strange things. He got me a cell phone, which I used several times a week to call him and talk and he cosigned a car loan for my brother.

I racked up $100 in text charges. It was an accident, an exgirlfriend, she wanted to rekindle, I wouldn’t have minded, I didn’t know text were so much extra.

We had stopped taking by the time the bill arrived.

He wanted to be repaid.

“Poor college, student no job,” I reminded him.

An argument ensued.

The last thing I ever said to my father was, “You never wanted to be a father anyway!” and the phone went dead. My girlfriend at the time was sitting right there. She said it was harsh. But then my dad changed his phone number and canceled all his email addresses, sold his home and basically disappeared.

I like to think PTSD or Gulf War syndrome played a part.

Gulf War Syndrome does come along with major cognitive functions. If I had my cognitive functions impaired perhaps I would walk away from, if I had one larger than just my wife, my family also.

Not too long after his divorce from his family my brother reneged on an auto loan co- signed for by my father. Maybe he thought if he set the truck on fire and left it in the woods my dad could recoup his expenses with insurance money.

It didn’t happen like that.

I don’t know what my sister did to him, but we were all gone from his life.

Ten years now and not a word.

I keep telling myself, “Maybe tomorrow.” Hope will not die, but I wish it would give the fuck up sometimes.

MICHAEL MURPHY: THE DESTROYER

The newest Navy Destroyer will be named for a recipient of the Medal of Honor, an operator of the sea, air, and land group more commonly known as the Navy SEALs.

The man’s name is Michael P. Murphy.

Maybe its the shape of the man’s eyebrows, or a knowledge he is willing to face the black, but he has a sensitive look about him, or maybe it’s a concerned look, or the look of a leader ready to make the hard decisions. This is a difficult look to pull off with an M4 strap around a neck with finger resting ready on the trigger.

Michael is a man who made all the right decisions. He went to college right after high school. Once graduated from Penn State he decided to use his degree to serve his country. He could have been a lawyer, yet he chose to throw bullets and was willing to catch them for the defense of his fellow soldiers.

He is not much different than the destroyer he is named for, this ship known for its high endurance used to extinguish short range attacks on its fleet.

This is what basically killed Michael, on June 28th 2005. He left his position to find high ground, called in support for his brothers, under fire from 200 insurgents. He returned wounded but successful and a group of 16 was being dispatched to rescue him and his team of four.

At the end of the day Michael died. The support he called for was attacked by an RPG killing every member on board the chalk. Of Michael’s team one lived to report the story as it happened.

The survivor was rescued by locals.

He reported:

The irony was these nineteen soldiers were killed potentially protecting local sheep herders.

of maybe They were discovered, while tracking the enemy, by four locals with goats.

They should be killed, some thought.

A decision was made.

The sheep herders were allowed to live. There was a risk in not killing them, the risk of being discovered if the herders told where they were.

Michael ignored this risk for a moral purpose. Those men posed no immediate threat. The higher value was the mission.

They herders left unmolested.

6 days later Michael’s body was discovered, on July 4th, 2005.

His job was to extinguish short range attacks that posed a danger to his fleet. That danger turned out to be a battle with 200 Taliban, not four defenseless goat herders. That look of sensitivity on the man’s face suggests he could make the tough decision, but at the end of the day it would be the moral one that earned him his Medal of Honor and status forever as an American Hero.

Maria Michta

Maria Michta was born on June 23, 1986 she graduated from the Sachem School District on Long island New York in 2004. In 2008 as valedictorian she matriculated from Long Island University C.W. Post Campus.

Why does this matter?

She agreed to an interview with me to be published in an Ezine about Long Island. With no word the publication went another direction. Being so thankful for the chance to chat I wanted to share the Maria Michta I meet during the interview.

We had been communicating back and forth via Facebook. And finally nailed down a date to talk. On the scheduled day I dial her number and my heart starts thumping so loud I wonder if I will even be able to ask any questions and be heard over the buffeting of my organic harmonium. She answers and I can tell all note taking is out the window.

She talks fast and serious. I am impressed immediately. This is not someone I would ever be able to keep up with in life or even on a phone call, but I have to try and at least fake it over the phone.

I attempt to follow through with the list of questions I developed, but beyond the nervousness mostly what runs through my mind is a childlike glee, “I am talking to an American Olympian.” Not too long ago though she was known simply is a Long Island Athlete. Her sport; Race Walking, a 20 kilometer endurance event in which one foot must appear to be in constant contact with ground on each step.

There are judges and red cards are given to violators if both feet leave the ground. Three cards means disqualification.

The Cadence rates of these races are comparable Olympic 400 meter dash runners or about 45 seconds to round a track once.

With the Olympian on the phone and willing to answer my every question my first query was obvious, “How did you get into race walking?”

“The School district,” she begins, her voice has no accent, an educated tone, “the school district allowed student athletes to pick an event and get good at it. I tried other events but Race-walking was something that just felt natural, maybe not at first but eventually, than I started winning races and now…”

“You are an Olympian who competed at the summer games in London. Does it ever hit you, like suddenly, while brushing your teeth; I am a world class athlete?”

She laughs, “It’s crazy, I never see myself like that, in London I competed the last day before the closing ceremony, I had a lot of time to walk around and explore, not London more the games it’s an experience I will never forget, but don’t know about being a world class athlete I am more a scholar.”

“Let’s play word association I am going to give you three names and a color and you tell me what you think, okay?

“Okay,” She sounds dubious.

“Ivanova ,Gold, Lashmonova, Silver, Sokolova, bronze.”

“Athletes with amazing achievements.”

“Yet your personal best in London was only eight minutes behind them, can we expect you in Red White and Blue come 2016 in Rio?

“I am so busy now that I can hardly think that far out in the future.”

“At the 2012 Olympics, you finished in 29th place with a personal best time of 1:32:27, do you feel there is more left in you?”

“All races are a time commitment. With my work on this PhD program is not even close to being done, I can’t even be certain any employer down the road will even give me the time off to compete in the races needed to even qualify.”

“To shift gears slightly how did you find yourself in sports, what do you think made you the athlete you are?

“Education and reading. There is a science behind sport, around how the body performs. I researched it and learned as much as I could. I found it interesting and decided to try out a few hypotheses”

“I read you are a PhD candidate at the Mount Sinai Medical School. “I am.”

“Which field is your research in?”

“Biomedical science, more specifically Virus’ and the effects on the liver.”

“That’s interesting, but I would have thought with all your research in sports medicine that would have been a more obvious pursuit?”

“I dug too deep for sports medicine. I enjoyed seeing what makes the bodywork.

Internally the body has many functions, and those functions affect everything, affect those functions that make an athlete an athlete. One product grow in another and the product, a different product is produced. I found I wanted to explore the bodies function in minutia.”

“Given what you have learned yourself about sporty, If you could, what would you give back to the students of long island?”

“I would want to provide an interest in science and research, not many students realize that the full potential for education and, dreams really come from thinking and asking questions.”

“Is your family athletic?”

“My Sister, Christy, is a high jumper, Katie does long distance she is building up to the 12 mile event. My brother is not.”

“Will we see either of you sisters in a future Olympic games?”

“It is possible they are both very gifted.”

“So this interview will be published in Long Island Based, I need to know in Nesconset Where is you favorite place to eat?”

“My mom’s house. She makes the best chicken cutlets and mashed potatoes, My finances Mom’s red sauce is also one of the reasons I like to go back home, oh and his grandmothers Meatballs!”

“Where are you parents from?”

“Born and raised in New York.”

“Last time you had a drink?”

She laughs, “When I hang out I am the completely sober one. I never drink. In fact last drink I had was a sip of champagne on January 1st to ring in the New Year. After that it was back to gator aide.

“Maria this was such a thrill chatting it was truly amazing. Thank you.

“You are welcome.”

To help Maria compete in Rio and get the 2016 funding needed please visit her Facebook fan page, Like her, because she is amazing and then send a message asking for details on how to donate.

War in America

As I ran this morning I was thinking about what being safe means.

I mean I keep hearing that American’s are worried about being safe and such.

Why?

When I run I listen to podcasts. I imagine what it is like for a person to be out at 5:30 in the morning and look up and see this 240 pound guy running at them.

Big broad shoulders, angry and sweating.

Granted I am not sprinting, more like doing a pace I am not willing to mention at this point in my recovery for… ummm… tendonitis , or something not connected to laziness.

I do imagine the sound I make is a combination of huffing and puffing mixed with the slap, slap, slap of my basically bare feet hitting the cement.

Unless the people I pass are out doing nefarious things and are bad asses packing lead pipes and fire arms, they don’t seem to give a flying fuck that I am even there.

Maybe 0530 is a safe time.

Maybe everytime in Park Slope is a safe time.

So what are we so afraid of?

We all live in the same society we all pay to have our morality adjusted by important people year after year. I mean I didn’t know a drink size could be made illegal, who’d have thunk it.

How much does it cost to manufacture a conscience? We all have one anyway. You know the inner voice telling one right from wrong, or as Disney drew it the little angel fighting with the little devil.

I am surrounded by sirens. I called 911 for an alarm in my building and within moments the fire department shows up.

In certain neighborhoods we are surrounded by people telling us what to do, that trash goes in this bin this trash goes her and all that other stuff gets tossed over there. Basically I get a lot of information on what’s right and what’s wrong. In some places we don’t even need to decide anymore what the proper decision is it’s made already for us.

But then there are places like East New York, it’s on the outskirts of Brooklyn. I worked with a guy not too long ago who said it’s a warzone. Deaths, not one, not injury, but deaths one after another, each night. Gun fire and stabbings and people hating each other over, I imagine, who has the right to sale drugs where.

I find it strange to think there is a war that close to my door, just miles away.

The conscience my society bought and paid for seems to stop there.

Why do we spend trillions on an urban army of military trained crime fighters when the places that need the most policing aren’t policed.

Supposedly hundred sometimes thousands of men and women are willing to send bullets down range and kill bad guys for the defense of the tax payer.

Why does it seem like some areas are cordoned off and little wars are allowed to be fought?

I don’t know.

If this system we have set up really works shouldn’t every community be policed the same? If wars are being fought on American soil should not the ones taking our money to defend us be deeply involved.

Shouldn’t there be a general speaking of expectations and death counts and enemy maneuvers?

I don’t have answers, I got me one of them English degrees, but I see issues, I see lots of money being spent of prolems that matter but don’t matter as much as fixing these wars. Maybe those in power hope the poor people in these war zone just kill each other off.