Tuesday, November 20

An apology is owed

Full Statement from The Honorable Leon E. Panetta issued Tuesday

“President Trump owes an apology to Admiral Bill McRaven and all of the special operations forces and intelligence professionals who planned and executed one of the most important counter-terrorism missions in our nation’s history. The operation to hunt down Osama Bin Laden -- the terrorist responsible for the 9/11 attacks on our country – was a major blow to Al Qaeda and one of the finest examples of bravery and courage I have seen in 50 years of public service.

The CIA located the compound in Abbottabad where Bin Laden was hiding. CIA officers briefed Admiral McRaven on the compound in late January 2011. President Obama and his national security team directed McRaven to plan the mission in rapid fashion. Within 100 days, Osama Bin Laden was dead.  The President’s statement criticizing McRaven for not getting Bin Laden sooner is patently ridiculous.  It demonstrates a profound lack of understanding of how our military and intelligence agencies operate and undermines the President’s own standing as Commander-in-Chief.”

Thursday, November 1

Feel good about yourself

Dear friends, 
If you want to feel good about yourself do as I did today: 
I voted!
I took advantage of the early voting opportunity. There were four clerks checking voters in and multiple electronic voting booths. When I arrived I was in a line of about 30 voters; it moved quickly and everyone was courteous. I said “thank you” to the poll workers.

Whether you vote early or on Election Day, November 6, get out and vote. This is our golden opportunity to show the world the best of America. I guarantee it will make you feel good all over. 

Sunday, October 21

Dichotomy of War

  The following Letter to the Editor was published Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018, in The Post & Courier, Charleston, S.C.    

    The Oct. 18 Post and Courier presented readers with the dichotomy between “the tragic futility of war” and the “unmatched bravery” of a man engaged in war.
     George Will reviewed Max Hastings “Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy, 1945-1975," and wrote, “Vietnam remains an American sorrow of squandered valor.” 
     Another story, by the Associated Press, described President Trump presenting the Medal of Honor to retired Marine Sgt. Maj. John Canley, who during that same war, "fought with unmatched bravery” to help wounded Marines and carry them to safety. Sgt. Maj. Canley saved the lives of 20 Marines over seven days of "unrelenting combat.”
     Many Americans, including myself, have come to peace with the futility of the Vietnam War and yet we stand in awe at the courage of warriors like Marine Sgt.  Maj. John Canley.

Mt.Pleasant, S.C.

Tuesday, October 2

My Outlook at 87

Today, Oct. 2, 2018, is the first time I experienced being 87.  I share my birthday (Oct. 2, 1931) with, among others,  Mahatma Gandhi, born October 2, 1869, Groucho Marx, born October 2, 1890, and Graham Greene, born October 2, 1904.

While on a visit to South Africa I visited Pietermaritzburg, where Gandhi was unceremoniously thrown out of a first-class railway compartment and left shivering and brooding at the rail station, and where they later erected a statue in the town square to honor him. I asked my guide to take my picture in front of the statue. When I later developed the film the guide had a great shot of me but only Gandhi’s feet and ankles. So much for amateur photographers.

Throughout my life, I enjoyed both Groucho Marx for his wit and humor and Graham Greene for his novels, many of which served as stories for successful films.

Looking back over 86 years there are some regrets but too few to mention. Going forward I am optimistic there are new adventures to play out and new acquaintances to enjoy. I am blessed in many ways and trust in the Lord to continue to bless and keep me.

Everyone else should be so lucky. 

Monday, September 24

Why do we remember?

Why do we remember?

Today our local paper (The Post & Courier, Charleston, SC) reprinted a column from The Washington Post headlined “Helping kids deal with being let down.” This revived memories from my early teen years.  It was around Thanksgiving when my older sister tipped me off that a couple who were friends with our mother was going to buy me a baseball glove for Christmas. All through December, I waited anxiously for the big day. When it arrived it brought no baseball glove. Instead, the couple gave me a damn tie. My sister told me later that the man had gotten drunk on the day he was to buy the glove and forgot all about it.

Why is it, after all these years, this, the Christmas gift I never got, is my only memory of all the Christmases of my youth? 

The author of the column, Meghan Leahy, wrote: “As long as humans have walked the Earth, there has been disappointment and unfairness, and we know that despite our big brains and strong will, life happens in ways we never saw coming….Disappointment is a certainty for every one, including children.” 

A couple of years later, an uncle on my mother’s side of the family bought me a baseball glove. I cared for it through the years, kept it oiled and flexible, and sometime in the 1960's gave it to my wife’s nephew. 

Why do  I remember this? 

Saturday, September 15

A week with Florence

Sept. 15, 2018

It would be a better story if this was about spending a week with a beautiful woman named Florence, but, alas, it is about a hurricane which has done infinitely more damage in North Carolina than in the Charleston/Mt. Pleasant area of South Carolina where I live.

The week began on a serious note on Tuesday, Sept. 11, when notices were posted that the elevators in my apartment house and three other apartment houses at 1201 Midtown were shut down. I live on the 4th floor and walking up and down the stairs is a burden. 

Even under the worst estimates hurricane Florence was three to four days from the coastline. The manager cited “protocols” as the reason for shutting down the elevators. I urged her to reconsider but to no avail as she closed the office and the employees went home to hunker down or evacuate the area. I have e-mailed the corporate headquarters recommending a second look at the “protocols.”

The governor of South Carolina ordered an evacuation from the coastal regions and it is estimated that 300,000 out of approximately 720,000 heeded his order. I was not one of them, although on Wednesday I made a hotel reservation at Hilton Head, two hours away by car. I canceled it on Thursday night as the storm decreased in strength and my area was in the outer fringe of the anticipated wind and rain.

I spent much time over the next four days watching the Weather Channel and logging into the National Hurricane Center. I topped off the fuel tank in my car and bought some groceries. Major restaurants were closed and I had a couple of meals in a Peruvian chicken shop and a sports bar. The latter was surprisingly filled with parents and dozens of small children scurrying around like they did not know the purpose of chairs.  This made for an interesting lunch, however, service was good and the food was excellent. 

The rain started in my area on Friday night and the wind picked up. Small trees were bent slightly, only the tops of bigger trees were moving in the wind. Electricity has stayed on.  On Friday, the hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm, but the people and property in North Carolina and on the border between the two states have suffered. Five people in North Carolina are reported dead from the hurricane. 

This morning, Saturday, slight rain, almost a drizzle continues. The negligible wind cannot be heard indoors. Out-of-doors is similar to rainy summer days in the South. 

A worrisome week in Charleston/Mt. Pleasant has come to an end. The Charleston International Airport will open at noon today. 

Monday, September 3

AFOSISA Convention September 5-8, 2018

There will be a large number of criminal investigators and counterintelligence specialists in Charleston from Sept. 5-8, when the Association of Former OSI Special Agents (AFOSISA) holds its annual convention.

The Association brings together former USAF service members and civilian employees of the USAF Office of Special Investigations in friendship, and common effort between former and present AFOSI Special Agents in the common interest of promoting the security of the U.S. Air Force.

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations has been the Air Force’s major investigative service since Aug. 1, 1948. The agency reports to the Inspector General, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force. AFOSI provides professional criminal investigations and counterintelligence services to commanders of all Air Force activities. 

Seventy years ago the AFOSI was the creation of one man, Joseph F. Carroll, a special assistant to J. Edgar Hoover. He conducted a study of the newly established Air Force and presented a plan to Secretary Stuart Symington for an Air Force version of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Congress commissioned Carroll a Colonel in the Air Force and he came on active duty as a Brigadier General. 

He was initially disdained as “that cop” by other Air Force generals, but after his personal investigation proved to the House Armed Services Committee, that a lengthy anonymous letter attacking Secretary Symington and the first Chief of Staff, Hoyt S. Vandenburg’s “integrity, patriotism, and morality,” was the scurrilous and fabricated work of a public relations officer in the U. S. Navy hierarchy, he and OSI could do no wrong. 

I was a Special Agent with OSI from 1953 to 1959. This service played a major role in developing my post-1959 professional career and I am indebted to the service for the training and experience gained in this vital work helping to protect the Air Force.

The convention will offer golf excursions, tours of Charleston, a dinner cruise and closing banquet, program and dance, as well as a business meeting.