Pickett, Ron

Corona Virus Update

posted Mar 29, 2020, 10:19 AM by Bruce Rowe

Someone stole the tip box at the Starbucks. Now we are being asked to donate to replace those tips. Did the thief need it more than the baristas? I heard about it on Nextdoor.

There is controversy between the board at our homeowner’s association and one of the homeowners. This is not the first incident. Three emails update me. There must be more time to write because of the quarantine.

Outside my window, shimmering in the backlighting from the sun, a tiny spider is moving on its web looking for even smaller prey. It is oblivious to the virus. The virus is oblivious to the spider – it is much much smaller than the spider’   s prey.

I hear the echo from the TV in the other room; we are on the same channel. News about Covid-19. What causes the delay? I calculated it is only .02 seconds away for the sound. Don’t the WiFi and Cable and satellite move at the speed of light? Where are the delays getting into the system, I have time to worry about those issues, thanks shelter in place?

So many people walk past my window – some I’ve never seen before. I should meet them – but maintain social distance. I’ve never liked shaking hands and despised hugging – I love it now, the new rules.

My hermit inner self is in heaven. This can go on for me. We sneak out. We plan our outings for maximum joy. We take our sandwiches from Arby’s drive through to the park – it’s our new normal date night. We plan for a trip to buy groceries.

I look up the numbers on-line. Can I see a flattening of the curve? Not yet, but I know it is hidden somewhere in the data I have access to, or maybe they aren’t releasing all of the numbers, like the Chinese.

There are rumors – urns at Wuhan – great significance. Malaria meds work! I’ve taken them on trips to dangerous places on holidays and in VN – there were greater dangers there. People die from aquarium cleaner or rubbing alcohol.

I get emails from my doctor, my gym, my local theatre, Panera, Bevmo – think I’ll take them up on the free pick-up on the sidewalk offer, my church, everyone wants to tell me what they are doing and what I must do. The US has overtaken China in number of cases. New Orleans, Chicago and Detroit are trying to overtake New York, I doubt that they can do it. Sports have been cancelled – wonder if I can get a bet on that spider I saw.

Results of tests available are now available in 15 minutes! I almost wish I had some symptoms so I could get one.

It’s named for a beer brand, well not really – sales of Cerveza Corona have fallen precipitously. Last time we were officially out, three weeks ago, I jokingly ordered a Corona from the bar tender, we laughed, He filed for Unemployment on Wednesday.

I’m wasting time, I’ve got to do more. Motivate, motivate, motivate. Is this a waste of time?

I spend time on-line. It’s comforting, it’s terrifying, my WiFi becomes intermittent that is terrifying.

I’m walking for exercise again. Trying to preserve my feet. I have named my walking routes – today I did Via Rancho Parkway, yesterday we did Kay-2 – that’s with Blacks Hill, Kay-1 skips Blacks hill. The fourth route is Long-Steep, I’m saving it for tomorrow.

 I take a shower every other day now. I skipped one day but couldn’t smell myself. Alert! Loss of sense of smell and taste are symptoms! I can smell other things. False alert.

I gained three pounds one day. It took three days of starvation to get rid of it - doesn’t seem fair.

When this is over, and it will be over, I’ll look back on the things I didn’t do. Oh, wanna place a bet of how long it takes the spider to catch his breakfast?

So Say We All Topics

posted Jun 4, 2018, 10:20 AM by Ron Pickett

Topics for So Say We All VAMP. Great opportunity to submit stories get editing support, develop media to support your story and PERFORM.For submission guidelines go to sosayweallonline.org

JULY – Weird Science
show date: July 26th
(submission deadline: July 1st)

AUGUST – Burned
show date: August 30th
(submission deadline: August 5th)

show date: September 27th
(submission deadline: September 2nd)

show date: October 25th
(submission deadline: September 30th)

NOVEMBER – Will It Fit?
show date: November 29th
(submission deadline: November 4th)

DECEMBER – Home For The Holidays
show date: December 27th
(submission deadline: December 2nd)

Coronado Hometown Heroes Banner Committee

posted Aug 9, 2017, 8:23 AM by Ron Pickett

From: tatojohn <tatojohn@aol.com>
To: ronp70000 <ronp70000@aol.com>
Sent: Wed, Aug 2, 2017 11:22 am
Subject: Avenue of Heroes Banner Recipients


The Coronado Hometown Heroes Banner Committee is finalizing the list of veterans who will be honored with banners along the Avenue of Heroes in November.  As you know part of the program is to prepare biographies of the banner recipients.  In the past you have volunteered to prepare one or more of these biographies. The purpose of this notes it to request your continued assistance. 

The ceremony for the next round of banner recipients is scheduled for November 4.  As in the past the biographies will be read at the ceremony and they will be printed in the event's program.  For the ceremony our desire is to receive biographies that are approximately 250 words in length.  Note that if you are willing to prepare a biography, you may also prepare a longer version of up to approximately 600 words for publication in the Coronado Journal/Eagle.  To permit adequate to time to produce the program for the ceremony, we need to receive the 250 word biographies by October 6.  The longer versions can be provided some time thereafter.

Please get back to me at your earliest convenience to let me know if you are willing to prepare a biography.


J Tato

Away For The Holidays

posted Sep 18, 2016, 4:45 PM by Ron Pickett   [ updated Oct 21, 2019, 4:00 PM by Bruce Rowe ]

Our book Away For The Holidays is available now.

Sobering Statistics for the Vietnam War

posted Apr 14, 2016, 8:25 AM by Ron Pickett   [ updated Nov 3, 2017, 3:18 PM by Bruce Rowe ]

In case you haven't been paying attention these past few decades after you returned from Vietnam, the clock has been ticking. The following are some statistics that are at once depressing, yet in a larger sense, should give you a HUGE SENSE OF PRIDE. 


"Of the 2,709,918 Americans who served in Vietnam, Less than 850,000 are estimated to be alive today, with the youngest American Vietnam veteran's age approximately 60 years old." 


So, if you're alive and reading this, how does it feel to be among the last 1/3rd of all the U.S. Vets who served in VietNam? I don't know about you guys, but it kinda gives me the chills, Considering this is the kind of information I'm used to reading about WWII and Korean War vets... 


So the last 14 years we are dying too fast, only the few will survive by 2025...if any. If true, 390 VN vets die a day. So in 2190 days...from today, lucky to be a Vietnam veteran alive... in only 6-10 years.


These statistics were taken from a variety of sources to include: The VFW Magazine, the Public Information Office, and the HQ CP Forward Observer - 1st Recon April 12, 1997. 




9,087,000 military personnel served on active duty during the Vietnam Era (August 5, 1964 - May 7, 1975). 


8,744,000 GIs were on active duty during the war (Aug 5, 1964-March 28, 1973). 


2,709,918 Americans served in Vietnam, this number represents 9.7% of their generation. 


3,403,100 (Including 514,300 offshore) personnel served in the broader Southeast Asia Theater (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia,  flight crews based in Thailand, and sailors in adjacent South China Sea waters). 


2,594,000 personnel served within the borders of South Vietnam (Jan. 1, 1965 - March 28, 1973). Another 50,000 men served in Vietnam between 1960 and 1964. 


Of the 2.6 million, between 1-1.6 million (40-60%) either fought in combat, provided close support or were at least fairly regularly exposed to enemy attack. 


7,484 women (6,250 or 83.5% were nurses) served in Vietnam. 


Peak troop strength in Vietnam: 543,482 (April 30, 1968). 


Agent Orange is taking a huge toll on Vietnam Veterans with most deaths somehow related to Agent Orange exposure. No one officially dies of Agent Orange, they die from the exposure which causes ischemic Heart Disease and failure, Lung Cancer, Kidney failure or COPD related disorders. 




The first man to die in Vietnam was James Davis, in 1958. He was with the 509th Radio Research Station. Davis Station in Saigon was named for him. 


Hostile deaths: 47,378 

Non-hostile deaths: 10,800 

Total: 58,202 (Includes men formerly classified as MIA and Mayaguez casualties). Men who have subsequently died of wounds account for the changing total. 


8 nurses died -- 1 was KIA. 


61% of the men killed were 21 or younger. 


11,465 of those killed were younger than 20 years old. 


Of those killed, 17,539 were married. 


Average age of men killed: 23.1 years 

Total Deaths: 23.11 years 

Enlisted: 50,274; 22.37 years 

Officers: 6,598; 28.43 years 

Warrants: 1,276; 24.73 years 

E1: 525; 20.34 years 

Five men killed in Vietnam were only 16 years old. 

The oldest man killed was 62 years old. 


Highest state death rate: West Virginia - 84.1% (national average 58.9% for every 100,000 males in 1970). 


Wounded: 303,704 -- 153,329 hospitalized + 150,375 injured requiring no hospital care. 


Severely disabled: 75,000, -- 23,214: 100% disabled; 5,283 lost limbs; 1,081 sustained multiple amputations. 


Amputation or crippling wounds to the lower extremities were 300% higher than in WWII and 70% higher than Korea. 


Multiple amputations occurred at the rate of 18.4% compared to 5.7% in WWII. 


Missing in Action: 2,338 


POWs: 766 (114 died in captivity) 


As of January 15, 2014, there are 1,875 Americans still unaccounted for, from the Vietnam War. 




25% (648,500) of total forces in country were draftees. (66% of U.S. armed forces members were drafted during WWII). 


Draftees accounted for 30.4% (17,725) of combat deaths in Vietnam. 


Reservists killed: 5,977 


National Guard: 6,140 served: 101 died. 


Total draftees (1965 - 73): 1,728,344. 


Actually served in Vietnam: 38% Marine Corps Draft: 42,633. 


Last man drafted: June 30, 1973. 




88.4% of the men who actually served in Vietnam were Caucasian; 10.6% (275,000) were black; 1% belonged to other races. 


86.3% of the men who died in Vietnam were Caucasian (includes Hispanics); 


12.5% (7,241) were black;


1.2% belonged to other races. 


170,000 Hispanics served in Vietnam; 3,070 (5.2% of total) died there. 


70% of enlisted men killed were of North-west European descent. 


86.8% of the men who were killed as a result of hostile action were Caucasian; 12.1% (5,711) were black; 1.1% belonged to other races. 


14.6% (1,530) of non-combat deaths were among blacks. 


34% of blacks who enlisted volunteered for the combat arms. 


Overall, blacks suffered 12.5% of the deaths in Vietnam at a time when the percentage of blacks of military age was 13.5% of the total population. 


Religion of Dead: Protestant -- 64.4%; Catholic -- 28.9%; other/none -- 6.7% 




Vietnam veterans have a lower unemployment rate than the same non-vet age groups. 


Vietnam veterans' personal income exceeds that of our non-veteran age group by more than 18 percent. 


76% of the men sent to Vietnam were from lower middle/working class backgrounds. 


Three-fourths had family incomes above the poverty level; 50% were from middle income backgrounds. 


Some 23% of Vietnam vets had fathers with professional, managerial or technical occupations. 


79% of the men who served in Vietnam had a high school education or better when they entered the military service. 


63% of Korean War vets and only 45% of WWII vets had completed high school upon separation. 


Deaths by region per 100,000 of population: South -- 31%, West --29.9%; Midwest -- 28.4%; Northeast -- 23.5%. 




There is no difference in drug usage between Vietnam Veterans and non-Vietnam Veterans of the same age group. 

(Source: Veterans Administration Study) 


Vietnam Veterans are less likely to be in prison - only one-half of one percent of Vietnam Veterans have been jailed for crimes. 


85% of Vietnam Veterans made successful transitions to civilian life. 




82% of veterans who saw heavy combat strongly believe the war was lost because of lack of political will. 


Nearly 75% of the public agrees it was a failure of political will, not of arms. 




97% of Vietnam-era veterans were honorably discharged.


91% of actual Vietnam War veterans and 90% of those who saw heavy combat are proud to have served their country. 


74% say they would serve again, even knowing the outcome. 


87% of the public now holds Vietnam veterans in high esteem.


Christmas in Khaki

posted Jan 20, 2016, 5:52 AM by Ron Pickett

Christmas 1971

Ron Pickett



As I drove along the perimeter road I felt a sudden surge of pleasure, pleasure at simply being alone. Such a rare and wonderful treat in this hyperactive life. I pulled off the road into the grass that kept back the jungle and turned off the engine of the stolen Holden and sat watching the sun set through the thick rice straw smoke. It grew into a yellow then orange and almost brown ball before it disappeared over the horizon. It was quiet, peaceful for a while. Then the sound of a helicopters rotors exploded into the early evening, my quiet time was dashed.

It was December 25, 1971 in the Mekong delta village of Bien Thuy on the outskirts of Can Tho, the fourth largest city in South Vietnam. My day had begun early but I had allowed myself a little sleep-in since this was a partial holiday. A holiday for us, but that meant an added concern about an attack on our base and the outlying very small bases that it had become our primary mission to protect.  However, the Viet Gong liked to find times when our guard was down to launch their mortar or rocket attacks. But by this stage in the long war, they were weak and impotent in this area. Most of our time was spent flying low over the U Min forest trying to get them to show themselves so that we could blow them up.

Christmas in the Eastern Hemisphere, but on the other side of the International Date Line it would be twelve hours before Santa’s gifts would be discovered by the children. My wife and our 12 year old daughter and 10 year old son were in San Diego; this was the first Christmas that I wouldn’t with them. They would drive to LA later in the day to have Christmas with my parents. The distance couldn’t be greater; we were really on opposite sides of the world.

This was an agricultural and fishing area where the jungle had to constantly be held at bay. Many of the houses were built on stilts over the water and refuse of all kinds, including human was carried away by the river. The river, the Ba Sac was a wandering section of the Mekong that dominated the countryside and ruled the lives of the local population. Our interaction with the locals was limited; the girls that did the laundry and cleaned our quarters, the nuns at the orphanage we helped and an occasional bar girl or waitress at a local restaurant. There were not many reasons to leave the base. Their religion was a strange, to us, mixture of Catholic Christianity, Buddhism and some traces of animism – “Don’t give up on the old gods too soon or you might run the risk of making them angry.” But the occasional Christmas lights in a window or a fake Christmas tree were strange and yet not totally out of place.

The scenes of snow covered New England homes with wreaths and candles in the windows that graced the Christmas cards that were posted in the Ready Room were a stark contrast to the hot, muggy, steaming, muddy jungle. But I was raised in the desert and was accustomed to seeing the incongruous at this season - a string of Christmas lights strung over the arms of stately Saguaro, or shiny ornaments attached to a prickly pear cactus, and tinsel flowing everywhere in the sand and over the rocks. So the discontinuity was not as outlandish for me as for many of our troops.

This morning I listened to carols on AFN radio from Saigon, the station that Robin Williams made famous in “Good Morning Vietnam” and yesterday, to pass the time on a long flight I tuned in Christmas music on Radio Australia on the short wave/HF radio so I was somewhat in the mood for the season. Just before noon there was a non-denominational Christmas service that military chaplains do so well. The chaplain was a circuit rider who was flown in by helicopter. It always takes them some time to recover after a trip in a helo; you would think being closer to God would be refreshing and stimulating. I don’t recall the subject of the sermon, I seldom do, probably about God. It continues to surprise me how religious many military people are, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

Navy cooks can always come up with a great feast for a holiday and Christmas was one of their specialties. I had lunch/dinner there, in part to be seen by the troops and to ensure the quality of the food and the preparation. The mess hall was decorated with some garlands and colored lights; just enough to highlight the fact that it was Christmas and we were a very long way from home. It is amazing how comfortable the U. S. armed forces can become after a few years in a foreign country. Even a base cut out of the jungle can become unbelievably like a similar base in the US. Ben Thuy had been in operation for almost three years and was the home of two navy squadrons, HAL 3 Seawolves, a UH1 squadron supporting the riverine forces, and my squadron, the VAL 4 Black Ponies, flying the twin-turboprop OV10 Bronco. Life was pretty comfortable and stable and the flying was great. Then, suddenly, we would lose an aircraft to hostile fire, or to stupidity and the seriousness of our mission was brought back into laser sharp focus.

After the church service I spent some time doing administrative stuff and went back to my room to write a quick letter home. I had a single room which was rare, and when I opened the door, the blast of cold air from the air conditioner was almost a shock after the hot air outside. If you have been to a tropical resort and entered your room to find that the maid has set the thermostat too low, you can understand the feeling. Everything was cold and damp and unnatural, but also delightful.

 You may have wondered about the “stolen Holden” I mentioned earlier. The Holden is a small Australian built sedan. The history of the one that I drove was questionable to say the least. It must have been brought in-country by the Australian forces, that’s all that was certain. When I had a little extra time I tried to discover the provenance of this vehicle and how we had become the owners, or I suppose possessors is more accurate. It was painted in our squadron colors with our emblem on the sides but after talking to a few people who I thought might know something, “ You know, XO, I don’t think you are going to find out much, and you may not want to.” I got the message that a further investigation would not be a great idea and would lead nowhere. All of the sailors who were there when it was acquired had rotated back to the states. Sailors can be incredibly imaginative given a permissive and “target rich environment.” I heard that it was traded for an airplane, an L19 Birddog, but no one knew where the L19 came from or how it had been acquired. Others said that it was traded for two small refrigerators and an A/C unit or a jeep. I also heard that it had been airlifted by a helo onto our base, and I even saw a photo reported to show the small sedan on a helo hoist. It was a fine little car, and it would be left here when we left in a few months. I assumed it’s barter value would be much less as our departure date came nearer. In the navy it’s called cumshaw a term that was “stolen” from Chinese.

I Googled Bihn Thuy recently and found that the airfield is now the Can Tho International Airport. The runway in the satellite photo looked to be in pretty rough shape, although there seemed to be a lot of work going on. Years after my time in Vietnam while traveling in Turkey I saw pieces of Greek statuary that had been incorporated into the construction of a large underground water storage tank and thought about how the material we had left in Vietnam must have been extremely useful in building homes and other structures.

When I got to the bunker that served as our ready room, there were four pilots on alert. There were a couple of bent and limp Christmas cards on the bulletin board that waved in the cold breeze from the air conditioner. “Merry Christmas Guys, Did Santa find you down here?” We chatted briefly, wished each other Merry Christmas and I went back out into the blast of heat. I walked over to the ready aircraft in the revitments and thanked the crew who were standing by the planes loaded with rockets and ready to be launched in less than five minutes. Then I wished a merry Christmas to the maintenance crews who were working on some broken airplanes and thanked them for their contribution and told them how important their work was to our safety and success. I had only been onboard for a couple of months and was still building a reputation and setting a personal style.

Later, in the evening I would have Christmas dinner in the Commodores Mess. It was in a trailer and had a fairly full bar. Our Commodore was Capt. Paul Gibbons who I would later work for in London. He was in charge of the operations of the two squadrons and the Riverine force of Swift Boats that patrolled the waterways. Even though he was a “Surface Officer,” He really enjoyed flying with us; there is something about putting on a flight suit, survival vest and helmet that seems almost like putting on a coat of armor from Medieval Days. And some of our flights were like a “Jousting Match,” but using rockets instead of spears.  We always treated him to a little aerobatics on the way back to the airfield.  The Commodores Mess was for the most senior officers on the base, eight or ten of us, COs, XOs and senior staff, and it was a pleasant way to spend the evenings.

I think I’ll fly three hops tomorrow to make up for missing today. Looks like only four more months before we are pulled out of here. I’ll miss this place.

The quiet was broken so I started the engine and drove the Holden back to the barracks area.

Good Old Days Magazine

posted Sep 17, 2014, 5:07 PM by Ron Pickett

Here's information about Good Old Days Magazine. Many of us have something that fits their criteria!


Homecoming from Quora Digest

posted Sep 11, 2014, 7:22 AM by Ron Pickett

Jon DavisJon DavisSergeant of Marines. Fought in... (more) 

Welcome to the club.

I've been where you are now and there are many of us who are frustrated. After four years in the Marines and two tours in Iraq followed by my biggest challenge, going to college with my 18 year old counterparts, I decided something: I hate Americans. That feeling isn't really as severe anymore because I eventually mellowed out, but I do feel for you. 

During this period I wrote these answers that might help you see that you're not alone. Read them, see if they make you feel better.
In them you'll see a unique amalgam of intense pride, disillusionment, patriotism, shame, self-sacrifice, self-righteousness, arrogance, entitlement, and an ounce of old fashioned chivalry. Sound familiar?

Warning: People who have never served in the United States Military will notappreciate the rest of this answer. Don't get pissy. I warned you. Having said that, there are a few things the person asking the question should let go of if you want to move on.

1) How do I stomach listening to 'patriots' who talk about things they know nothing of?

Did you ever have that one E-3 in your unit who just thought he was really smart? So smart in fact that he tried to recreate a scenario he read in The Darwin Awards because he just knew that he could make it work? These are called idiots. You remember, the ID-10T's. They are morons on a good day and in their best day all they do is talk. The political ones you will run into on the outside are no different. Most of them are just self-righteous know-it-alls who really love their country. Maybe, or maybe they just hate all the people who see the world in a different way. Fundamentalists don't just wear turbans and the sooner you realize that the better. They all say the same thing, "I really wanted to serve, but my [ random pissant disability ] wouldn't let me in." And for some reason, seem to think that entitles them to some sort of glorified status among veterans. I don't get it either. Stop trying. Just avoid eye contact. Smile and nod. Walk away. 

2) How will I ever fit back into our society after hiding in my apartment for the 5 years since I've returned from my final deployment?

You won't. Society isn't all that great anyway. I went through a recluse phase, too. It isn't productive. The best advice I have is to try to find a veterans group where you can vent your frustrations with an equally annoyed bunch of old farts, so that you heal in safe way among a fraternity of people who understand you. It really does help to talk it out with people who have been there. Even if they didn't exactly go through what you did, they have experienced stuff like it or at least have thought about it far more than a healthy person should. You'll need their experience and their wisdom. Your friends won't get you. Your family won't even get you. All they can offer are cliches and Dr. Phil nonsense advice. I wish I had done it sooner. I stayed angry for way too long and it cost dearly in the relationships I could have made as well as in my career. 

Besides that, what you need to do is realize that you aren't supposed to "fit back in". You're special and not in that Barney the Dinosaur sort of way. People respect you because you have done stuff that blows their minds, or at least their stereotypes of you blows their freaking minds. In some circles, you can walk in and command a room just with your presence alone. Warning though, eventually they get to know you and you don't live up to their stereotypes, so they get bored and will want to throw you away because you somehow failed to live up to their impossible expectations. Sorry about that. This paragraph was supposed to be uplifting. 

That said, you do have a lot of skills that most people don't. You have a lot of character traits that others don't. Values, ethics, ideals and expectations; the whole shabang. Your problem is that you suck at dealing with people, certain kinds of people anyway, and I am sorry to say, those certain kinds of people are everywhere. You are going to need at least, in my experience, two years to learn how to fill in the personality gaps between you now and normal for the rest of humanity before you can fake it well enough to happily work at a job with people. 

3) How do I deal with being so lost?

Veterans of Foreign Wars - They have a waiting list that's a year shorter than seeking counseling through the VA. It is a sad joke, because it is true. You should try to talk to people. Old vets are cool because you just hang out and they don't mind being there when stuff gets real. If you start crying, civilians want to label you and run for the door. Old vets, just remembered when they cried. Sometimes they give you a hug. Sometimes they tell you to suck it up. They also know how you feel and can relate in a way that reminds you, "That's right, I'm normal. I just went through a really crappy time in my life." At the point where you seem to be, you might need to get started on the process to talk to a professional. I had a friend who was really messed-up after Iraq and it really helped him. It just takes dropping the macho, "I'm too tough to speak to anyone about my head problems." or "There are people worse off than me," or "I didn't really experience anything actually traumatic." It's only your life you're wasting if you don't.

4) How can I live with this anger for my countrymen who sent me to two wars and then refuse to pay their taxes while carrying so much debt?

There is something that I really want you to realize and it will help you get through a lot. Your countrymen never sent you to Iraq or Afghanistan. You did. The United States is an all volunteer service. There is no draft. There is no obligatory service and there is no conscription. No one forced you to go to MEPS and no one held your hand up while you swore the Oath. Judging by the time frame, you also probably knew there was a war going on already. From that point until your DD-214 you gave your word that whatever happened, you would fulfill your promise to serve the Commander-in-Chief, the chosen representative of the combined will of these fifty states according the Constitution of the United States.  If war was going to happen, it wasn't the fault of any one of them, not even all of them. If you feel that you suffered from war, you have to remember that it was because you chose to go. I'm sorry to be real like that, but you have be responsible for that part or you are just going to get more and more bitter about what others did to you, when really, it wasn't "others'" fault. 

As for the "and then refuse to pay their taxes while carrying so much debt?" have you ever read the book Starship Troopers? It's a really great military sci-fi for military folk. It was written by a former Naval officer who really seemed to capture the feel of people in the service... four hundred years from now, anyway. One part I remember most is that, in that world, the only people who can vote are the veterans. It isn't that they are the smartest or even the most qualified. The reason they are the only group allowed to vote is that they, alone, have proven the one trait that should be a requirement of citizenship, the willingness to sacrifice for their society. They don't make poor choices which are self serving because they, alone, have actually invested real skin and blood into their society and they won't break it with a black hole entitlement programs, an unproductive criminal corrections system, forgiveness for the chronically ineffective, and enabling hand out programs.  No other group, by virtue of their existence, has proven they have a vested interest in the future of their society, which they are willing to defend, besides the veterans. We don't live in that world, but I understand what Heinlein was trying to say. You're going to have to accept that there are just so, so very many people out there who are complete and utter leeches on society who have a vote no less powerful than yours. That is because we live in a democracy where merit, ability, education, and social mobility are traits that don't really matter, just how many friends you have. Perhaps I should have said that democracy was based off of the belief of the fundamental equality inherent to all God's children. Alas, I didn't and I am sure your know why. Until the day when Heinlein's fascist utopia/draconian nightmare (depending on your point view) becomes real, we are just going to have to accept this fact, too; worthless people matter just as much as the greatest in a democracy. For better or worse, this is how it will be in any sort of perceivable future. As yet though, this has been the most successful setup for self governance, so far, so it can't be that bad. As I have already said, you also volunteered because, at one point, either because you were naive or really, really idealistic, you believed that that democracy was worth defending. If you still value it, you have to let go of the anger toward the idiots that also get to vote even though the have never and likely will never contribute anything but deficit to our society. 

5) All while watching American Idol and wearing a "I support the Troops" T-shirt, what does that even mean anyway?

Americans, in general, are pretty self-centered creatures happy to sit on a couch and wait for, or even demand, whatever in the world there is to entertain them. Many will live their whole lives without progressing the human race forward one inch. That really terrifies me, but they have different values than you do. That's why you joined the military; to do something heroic, or something important, something adventurous or just something different, or whatever, but they didn't. Many of them are just worthless blobs demanding more intake of whatever gives them their individual fix. Call it American Idol, heroin, weed, sex, politics, money, work, or whatever. They just need whatever it is that makes them happy and that is all they will ever know.

That's why when they faced the risk of their blissful happiness and their precious ability to consume entertainment at a breakneck pace was blown out of the water for the first time in sixty years, all anyone could do was thank a Marine for going out and doing the nasty stuff that kept their right to a 50" surround sound maintained. That is seriously the only reason that many of them do it. They got scared of living in a world not as blissful as America in the 1990's and the military suddenly seemed like the only group of people who would make that happen again. 

And then what happens? They watch the news and hear that we are at war. They know a guy who went to war. Well, they know someone whose brother is in the war. Or maybe he is just in the Air Force. They don't really remember, but they sure do feel like they are at war. No they aren't rationing. No they aren't planting victory gardens. No they aren't recycling pig fat, panty hose, or iron shaving. No they aren't buying war bonds or even enduring any sort of increased taxation to pay for this war, but they sure do feel the effects of that war, goshdarnit. 

The fact is that many are simply saying "We support our troops" because you went to war and they didn't have to. Others are simply just saying it because of social obligation. Nobody wants to be that guy who doesn't support the troops, you know, like the entire country after Vietnam. They sure didn't in that war, when absolutely no one thought it was important. Then veterans were spit upon when they came home. At least my generation still gets handshakes, social prestige and from time to time a real, true to life thankful person will buy me a coke after they find out what I did.  

I do want to go on record to say that most people aren't really the problem. The problem is a minority. There are about 10% of the people, of no particular race, religion, creed, or color, who come together as individuals to form a collection of the most loathsome, despicable, and worthless human beings imaginable. Not to themselves, of course. To themselves, they are the most magnanimous human beings on the face of the planet and worthy of all that was given to them, and so much more. It is only people who see things through your point of view that they are so horrible. (Me too, by the way.) You have to realize though, that they are a minority, a small number of people who command a massive amount of your attention because you feel very passionately about certain things which you have given so much for and have a certain set of values which many do not truly appreciate or even fathom. Once you learn to adjust your blinders during times when you don't want to deal with those kinds of people which bug the crap out of you, you'll start appreciating a lot of other people around that aren't such oxygen thieves. 


Wars are going to happen. Sometimes they will happen for reasons we say are good because the alternatives are probably worse. Other times, incompetent officials elected by incompetent voters will start them. At those times men and women who are willing to do whatever their leaders ask of them, in service of a country they are really proud of, will have to carry out the acted will of the United States. You already did that. As someone else who did, I am sincerely thankful for you doing that and I am very sorry that you are going through "the suck" right now. But you owe it to yourself, and to the rest of us veterans, to get better. There is a festering horde of worthless no-goods out there becoming more and more dependent upon the almighty "They" for absolutely everything in their world. You really are one of the few people out there with unique skill and value set, buried underneath all that pent up frustration and angst which we all share. Get some help and go talk to someone. You really are blowing the best years of your life being pissed off and it isn't doing anyone any good, at all. Once you correct yourself, you'll be happy you did. I promise.

-Semper Fi
Sgt Jon Davis (inactive since 2008)


posted Aug 3, 2014, 7:42 AM by Ron Pickett

Here's the latest draft of my Homecoming story. Comments encouraged. 

Ron's Writing Contest Winning Story!

posted Jul 27, 2012, 1:28 PM by Michael Wood   [ updated Nov 3, 2017, 3:26 PM by Bruce Rowe ]

Information about the contest here and congrats here.

The Cross on Iwo Jima
The grass and the jungle foliage are burned, obliterated, gone – as if they never were.
My memories are clear and distinct and fresh, as if they always were.
Sprouts, green, peek out from the mud after the first rain.
The memory of his face is strong; it is there whenever I call for it.
There is a green haze, a fog, it has been well nourished – the green shoots.
His starched, pressed uniform, the feel, the touch, the smell of starch are with me.
Little earth is visible now, but the deepest scars are still there.
I remember the sound of his voice, and how it raised a warm excitement and comfort in me.
The middle-sized craters are nearly filled now with rain and mud and vegetation.
He is always there, sometimes just below the surface, but always there.
The jungle shrubs grow quickly in the sun and warm rain and the rubble.
I heard the phone ring and ran to it, but it wasn’t him.
The insects buzz and fly from one limb to another; they will be the last ones to go when the end comes.
The anger surges, overwhelms me – why him, why not someone else?
Where do they come from? The snakes and the lizards, how could they have survived the holocaust?
But could I pick the other to trade him for, the others to grieve?
The second year and the third and the scars are less distinct, less clear, less savage.
I didn’t think about him until lunch today, it was a major success.
Rats, there are rats, their black eyes peer steadily, they have few enemies except the snakes.
I am not quite so angry, not quite so sad, should I be ashamed?
The shrubs are trees now, they dominate and hide the last reminants.
I had to look at a photograph today – I couldn’t recall his face.
Without the signs and the rusted steel and the markers no one would know.
Without my sadness, my tears, my anguish, no one would know. 

By Ron Pickett

1-10 of 12