It was hard to imagine, much less witness, that everything my wife, daughter and I owned could be fit into the interior spaces of a 1966 GTO. Nothing was attached or tied on the outside. I’d been raised in a Coast Guard family where the frequent moves were paid for by the government. It almost always took a completely full moving truck to move our family of two adults and three children. It turned out, as I surveyed the packing job from next to the car, that the single largest possession we currently possessed was Julie’s crib, which came apart in three pieces or we couldn’t have taken it with us on the move. The front driver’s side of the GTO still had the three-point racing safety belt system Mickey installed, but Julie had nothing to hold her in so I constructed a plywood box to set in just back from the split front seats. She sat, seemingly happy as a tick, inside her low-walled box filled with blankets.
Our route would pass Rockaway Beach, the beach I’d spent every free moment I had running and walking up and down, trying to make my left hip work better. There didn’t seem to be much hope of getting employment if I couldn’t walk right, not once the Marine Corps was done with me, a result that had to be imminent. We stopped at the Thunderbird, the restaurant motel that sat right in the middle of the beach, the restaurant’s deck stretched out over the rocks and sand. We’d never been able to eat at the restaurant as we couldn’t afford it, but we loved wandering around the place every once and a while. I pulled into the parking lot that ran almost the length of the beach. ‘All I have to do is dream’ was playing on the radio. “When I feel blue, in the night, and I need you to hold me tight, whenever I want you all I have to do is dream…”. The lyrics resounded back and forth in my head. I wasn’t thinking of my wife when I listened to the song’s words. I was thinking about life itself. I was trying to make life mine but, like in the song, I was dreaming my life away more than living it. I wanted to be in action. I had wanted to drive the GTO in the race, help prepare it, and then work somewhere other than a gas station where I barely pumped gas, exchanging my minimal services for some small amounts of cash. Now the station was gone and I was headed back toward the Marine Corps, an amazing organization but also one that only seemed to have things for me to do that were not worth doing at all, and those under a kind of supervision that the word ‘draconian’ didn’t seem extreme enough to cover.
There was no time to walk or run the beach, as much as my crippled passage could be considered running. Our budget for the move only included, with the hundred dollars Mickey had given me, the day trip down the Pacific Coast Highway, paying for gas and a bit of food. That budget let out eating at the Thunderbird. I’d decided to wear my class “A” greens, with a khaki long-sleeve shirt, green trousers, and highly spit-shined shoes. I’d used the formal blouse only if the weather caused me to wear it. Although the general public was not very sympathetic to the Marine Corps in general, I’d come to experience a good deal of help, care, and concern that emanated from minor elements of i
Mary had taken Julie inside the restaurant to use the bathroom facilities, while I stood outside, leaning back against the hood of the GTO, not unlike Danny Ongais using the car as a prop for his ‘oh so cool’ image. I hadn’t smoked since the few occasions I’d done so with the Gunny in the A Shau and I didn’t intend to take it up now that I was back home. That meant I couldn’t appear as totally ‘with it’ as Mickey and Danny had. A small group of older men emptied out of a sedan that was parked nearby.
“Where you headed Marine?” one of them asked; all four stopping on the narrow sidewalk that ran along the edge of the parking lot.
“Camp Pendleton, sir,” I replied, straightening up to a position nearly that of attention.
“Probably going to make the trip in one straight shot, I’ll bet,” the man said. All three of his friends laughed at that.
“Yes, sir,” I replied, my expression remaining deadpan, as I didn’t get the joke.
“The Marine Corps never did pay well,” the man went on, his friends smiling but no longer laughing.
Mary came out of the restaurant, Julie riding on her right hip, and walked to my side, both their bright smiles radiating out over all of us.
I introduced my wife and daughter to the men, but in reality, I just wanted to end communications, get in the car and get out of there.
“We’d be proud to buy you lunch,” the man said. “Anything you want, and you can even pack something to go for later on.”
I started to thank him and refuse his offer, but I got nowhere.
“That’s really nice of you,” Mary replied before I could get my reply out. “Come on, maybe we can get a window view,” she continued, turning to me before walking away with the four men toward the entrance, Julie looking over her shoulder at me with something of an expression of surprise.
Following lunch and packing away two boxes of fried chicken, I made my way over to the corner table where the four men were sitting and talking.
“Thank you,” I began, but got no farther.
“We were all on Guadalcanal,” the man who’d first spoken outside said. “You wear the ribbons. You earned the medals behind them. You’re now home and they aren’t going to mean very much, sad to say, except to some of us.”
I tried to speak again, but couldn’t think of what to say. Guadalcanal was a giant legend in the Corps, and all four of the men in front of me had been there and survived. They were like me, I realized, but knew I didn’t have to and shouldn’t say.
“You’re now a man among men,” the man said, “but you’re different, and you’ve got one helluva wife. Don’t screw it up.” The man finished, and then all four of them started to laugh gently as if there had been some joke told that I was once more unable to comprehend.
We loaded into the GTO and began the ride down toward Southern California, stopping at ARCO gas stations frequently because they were the only chain that would accept Sears credit cards. Bathroom stops came with the gasoline refills and burgers and fries at Burger Chefs were the fare, once we’d polished off the packed away cold chicken. McDonald’s was cheaper than Burger Chef but my wife wouldn’t eat their burgers, claiming that the meat was not real meat at all. I didn’t complain, although the meat in MacDonald’s products, at least to me, tasted better than most other meat I ate. If it wasn’t meat then all the better.
The GTO made the long trip better than I thought because of a performance mechanic who pumped our gas at one of the first filling stations along the way. He marveled at the engine when he checked the oil, and then went just about nuts when I told him that Mickey Thompson built it. Not exactly the whole truth but I figured it wouldn’t hurt, and I just knew Mickey wouldn’t care if he somehow got wind of my exaggeration.
“Man,” the mechanic marveled, working the mechanical link between the three carburetors with his fingers, “this thing must be a boat out there on the highway. It’s not built for that. Why don’t you disconnect two carbs and run on one deuce, unless you’re looking to drag somebody?”
“How much would it cost?” I asked, thinking about what credit I had remaining on the Sears card, and also wondering how it was that I had no idea that the engine was even capable of running on one carburetor. Camp Pendleton was still a long way off and I was unsure whether we’d make it financially, without having to stay over at some cheap motel along the way. Julie took a lot of time and care from both Mary or me, but her way of dealing with a long car trip made it easier as, primarily, she hunkered down in her makeshift crib in the back seat and slept or sat up holding the boxes edges and gurgling away on her pacifier.
“No charge, Marine,” the mechanic said, looking up with a big smile. “My brother was a Marine over there, and this will take five minutes, calls for two short plastic tubes and unbending the four ends of two connecting clips. You can put the clips back on and take the tubes off when you feel like really hauling ass in this thing…
I mean, wherever you get to where you’re going.”
I stopped myself from asking the man whether his brother had made it back or not. If the brother was dead, then what could I possibly say? I chose to say nothing until the man was done working under the hood.
I thanked Hank when he was done. That was the name stitched to the right breast of his overalls. The man laughed at that and said the name wasn’t his. He’d inherited the uniform from the last guy who worked there.
‘Hank didn’t give me his real name, even though I waited. Finally, I gave him six precious one-dollar bills for eighteen gallons of regular gas. Danny Ongais had told me, before we left, that the motor would run on regular and not ping or pre-detonate on that grade, as long as I kept the revolutions below four thousand and didn’t get on the gas too hard when I took off. ‘Hank’ gave me seventy-eight cents change, which I took and pocketed. Ethyl fuel, the gas that the GTO much preferred, wouldn’t have left any change leftover at all, and over the course of our trip, that slight difference would add up if the car kept getting about six miles to the gallon.
As soon as I pulled out of the station, I realized that the entire personality of the car had changed. It no longer bounced so much when it ran at low speed or sat at idle. It didn’t leap off from a dead stop either and therefore didn’t require an immediate adjustment to the gas pedal to control it. It was almost like a regular stick shift automobile. I headed the car south on the freeway, which had a speed limit of sixty-five, although trying to keep up with California traffic meant going at least seventy-five. The GTO ate way too much gas at that speed, plus the noise of the engine running at five thousand rpm was too much to bear over a long period of time.
The GTO drove listlessly but just fine with only one carburetor running, although it labored a bit at anything over sixty. I exited the freeway where the turnoff sign said Modesto. We headed west toward the coast and Highway One. The speed limit along most of that run, which would take us all the way down to Camp Pendleton itself, was fifty-five, but in most places, it wasn’t even that. Below Modesto, we stopped again for fuel and a rest stop. I filled up; having kept track of the mileage we’d put on from Hank’s station. Thirteen miles to the gallon. I smiled, silently thanking Hank. We’d make it with money to spare, I just knew, and we’d probably do even better once we stopped again and I could measure the use of another full tank on Pacific Coast Highway.
KRLA, an AM station out of Pasadena located at 1110 on our radio, played the best rock and roll I could find, and for most of our trip was the only station we could receive with any clarity. There were many announcers but the one I always waited for, between songs, was named Dick Biondi. He didn’t have Brother John’s deep resonating voice or the laid-back humor that had been so evident to me when I listened to Armed Forces Radio back in the Nam, but he was funny and always upbeat, especially about the songs he played. One of those songs played while I drove, Mary sleeping, curled into the corner of her passenger seat and the barely padded plastic covering the door.
“Here’s one for you,” Biondi said, his usual jocular tone dipping into seriousness, “Guy named Phil Phillips, not his real name, wrote and recorded only one song before disappearing forever. He said once that all he got was eight hundred dollars for his effort. The song went to number one in the U.S. and in Great Britain. It remains one of my favorites for certain. It’ll be reproduced many times in the years ahead although only Mercury records will make any money.”
The song played after a brief silence, a silence so long that I almost moved my right hand off the wheel to adjust the frequency knob on the radio.
“Come with me my love, to the sea, the sea of love. I want to tell you how much I love you. Do you remember when we met? That’s the day I knew you were my pet. I want to tell you how much I love you…”
The song played through. My hands gripped the wheel hard and I stared straight ahead like I was driving down a narrowed tunnel. Phil Phillip wasn’t singing. Tex was singing, like before the bridge incident that got him killed, although Tex had never done anything more than sing the lyrics under his breath when the song played down in the A Shau. The song ended and I brought myself instantly back, glancing over to make sure my wife was still sleeping.
We drove on into the waning light and then the night, my wife hated to drive the newly refurbished GTO, mostly because of the thirty-pound resistance of the clutch pedal. She was great at driving stick shift but only five feet tall so her feet never really contacted the pedals as solidly as she was willing to admit.
We drove on into the darkness, the sun setting off to our right as we moved. The going was slower than would have been the case using the freeway, but we got to see most of the communities along the California coastline. It was dawn when we ended up in San Clemente, the last community before the base of Camp Pendleton began. The huge property mass of the base ran for another twenty-two miles down the coast to a place called Oceanside.
I found San Clemente in the early morning to be like a place one might find in an old Spanish movie, except siesta time was apparently in the early hours instead of mid-day. There was nothing going on, at all. I drove back and forth on the main road, El Camino Real, that ran through the center of the small town. I arrived back at the town center, at the intersection where the main feeder that might lead down toward the ocean was located. I realized that it was either drive further south again on El Camino Real, which is what the Pacific Coast Highway had turned into, or head towards the ocean. I turned down Del Mar, noting a crooked street sign as I took the turn, and then pulled into an empty parking stall only a few yards later. Parking wasn’t a problem, as all the stalls up and down both sides of the street were empty. An elegant, tall and very Spanish-looking building stood before me as I got out of the GTO and stared across the street. The San Clemente Hotel, a white sign with black letters indicated the name of the building.
Under that professional sign, closer down to the open wrought iron gates of the place’s entrance, was another sign. The sign that had caught my eye. “Special,” it said, and then underneath; “8 dollars a night, tonight only, and then 10 dollars forever, payable weekly.” The sign was handwritten, penned in black magic marker on white butcher paper. The sign was held up by massive amounts of regular scotch tape as if masking or duct tape had been unavailable to whoever put it up. I turned, bent down, and looked over at my wife. She looked over and I pointed, before walking across the street with no people and no cars. It was an eerie feeling, looking up and down Del Mar, as I moved. The place was like a scene from an Outer Limits television show.
Once through the courtyard, very delicately and well maintained with flowers and plants I couldn’t name, I climbed three steps covered with terracotta tile and walked slowly into the lobby of the place. The entire floor was covered in the same tiles. There was no one at the front desk counter, but there was a man sitting in an overstuffed chair in the middle of the room. He was holding up a coffee cup and looking straight at me.
“You looking to rent a room?” the man asked, his voice soft, cultured, and elegant to the point of being almost, but not quite, snobby.
I didn’t know what to say. The man was wearing a tuxedo but with the bow tie untied and hanging. Both of his arms were bent, one with the coffee cup and the other because he was leaning his elbow on one of the chair’s arms.
“The name’s Piaget, like the world’s finest watch,” the man continued as if I’d replied, “and the rooms are all one-bedroom with a toilet, shower, and hotplate. Each has a television but the reception’s lousy because of the mountains over there.” He pointed weakly with the fingers of his left hand toward where the freeway ran through the middle of the town running east and west.
“How many beds to a room? I asked, not being able to get the eight dollars a day rate out of my head. In a town like I was in, not far from the ocean, and in a place that was so neatly taken care of and decorated almost any rate would have to be over twenty dollars, which I’d established as the upper end of our budget, at least until I could get properly transferred into my new permanent duty station and get a paycheck. I could stay at any BOQ, or bachelor officer’s quarters on any base, but there was no place or provision for dependents in such quarters.
“Two doubles and no rollaway, and that’s the deal,” the man replied, taking a slow sip of his coffee.
“Eight dollars a night,” I said, wanting to confirm what the sign out front said.
“It’s twenty-nine-a night with three-night minimum and all of it upfront in cash,” the man went on, nodding slowly as if he’d just made up the numbers while we were sitting. “The town doesn’t much like Marines, especially those fresh back from the Nam.”
I stood, not saying anything. My mind working over what had transpired so far. How the man knew I was fresh back from the war I didn’t know. Could it have been my heavy green blouse for ease of travel and because the weather was fine with me in my long sleeve wool shirt?
“How’d you know I was over there?” I asked, delaying the conversation for a few seconds, while I tried to think about how I might nail down the eight-dollar rate advertised out front.
“The blood,” the man replied.
I looked down. The incision had bled through again. I bit my lip, thinking about how I’d been so excited by the eight-dollar offer I’d forgotten that I was going out in public and my green blouse was the perfect armor and cover for such contact. I stood straighter and the blood would take a lot longer to get through. For the drive, it was just too hot and uncomfortable to wear the Saran Wrap.
“Plus, you are hunched over,” the man said, using his free hand to reach in and pull a pack of Marlboros from the right inner jacket of his tux. He tamped the pack.
“Marines walk around like there’s a ramrod stuck completely up their assholes, and you’re an officer to boot.” He lit the cigarette and then smiled as he exhaled his first puff. It was a nice friendly smile and seeing it made me feel a bit better.
I needed to get out of the shirt and back off my feet but I couldn’t relax without Mary and Jules being taken care of. I needed to get down, however, or I’d never recovered enough to get to the base when it opened up, check-in, and go to work getting the travel paycheck generated.
“Your sign out front says the rate is eight dollars a night,” I said, pointing behind me toward the open double doors leading to the courtyard.
“That was last night, not tonight,” the man replied, still smiling.
I didn’t reply because I had no reply. If I had to pay our last thirty dollars, or so, for a room then I was in trouble, as all I had in my pocket for cash was the remainder of the hundred bucks Mickey had given me for ‘walking around money,’ as he’d termed it. The over four-hundred-mile trip down had taken almost all the cash I had. My pocket held about nine dollars, half of it in coin change.
“Alright, alright,” the man named Piaget finally said. “I’ll make good on the fact that I failed to tear the sign down this morning. I’ve got a helluva hangover. The nights around here can be quite lively, although it doesn’t appear that way to you this morning. It will later.”
I sighed silently in relief, but I had to nail down the details.
“I get paid travel money when I hit the base later today, but that’s a check and I won’t be able to cash it instantly, or anything.”
I didn’t tell the man that I had at least one night’s rent in my pocket. We’d need something to drink and eat and most restaurants, like the gas stations on the way down, only took Diners cards, not my Sears lifesaver.
Any questions?” the man asked.
“I’ve never heard of a P.J. watch,” I offered.
“That’s not a question and it’s P-i-a-g-e-t, not P.J.,” the man replied, spelling his name out. “The room comes with breakfast thrown in, so I’ll have a menu sent up after you get in. If you want, when you get your check, I’ll cash it for you as the government, not good for much, is sure as hell good about backing up its checks.”
“Why is it eight bucks a night?” I asked.
“Because I was drunk when I put up the sign,” Piaget replied.
“I’ll bet you own the place,” I stated, looking around to take in the beauty of the old-fashioned fixtures and ornately stitched oriental rug under my feet.
“My brother and I,” Piaget said, his tone matter-of-fact, like he was reporting the weather, before adding, “but he’s still in prison so it’s just me for a while.” He put his coffee cup on the small table next to his chair, got up slowly, still dangling the Marlboro from his lips, and walked toward the front desk counter.
“You can park anywhere out there on Del Mar. No limits and no meters, not yet anyway, although I’m sure they’re coming. We’re off-season since it’s May, but next month the rates will double. and the cops will stop letting anyone park overnight.”
“So, the rate will go up to sixteen dollars a night,” I said, smiling at my own small bit of a joke.
There was no reply, Piaget walking around the counter, pulling a key from one of the many hooks, almost all holding dangling keys, and held it out toward me. View of the ocean from the top floor, when the misty fogs blow out late in the morning.
“Bart’s Furniture operation is next door,” Piaget said, as I took the key.
I stared down at the oblong brass tag the key was attached to by a chrome-plated ring. Room 34. Edmond Dantes’s cell number is from the Count of Monte Cristo. I wanted to shake my head in disbelief. Life could be so strangely mysterious.
“Bart works out later in the morning before business hours, with his windows open, as he lives upstairs. Careful, as he doesn’t wear much when he does his exercises and I get complaints.
“What do you do with complaints like that?” I asked, wondering just how revealing Bart’s workouts had to be in order to generate complaints from people occupying the rooms on that side of the building.
“Buy the complainer’s breakfast,” Piaget replied, with another of his mildly attractive smiles.
“But breakfast comes with the room,” I said.
“They don’t all know that right off the bat,” Piaget replied. “Usually, I have an employee here, but it’s too early for her, and she has memory issues, anyway.”
I pocketed the key, turned, and headed back out to where I’d left Mary, Julie, and the GTO. I looked up and down the idyllic street, with the unseeable ocean down and beyond. I had to get down for a few hours, cleaned up, bandages changed, and then report in. I had no idea when I’d owe Piaget money or how much it would be, but the fact that the family was in and safe, while I prepared for ‘battle’ on Camp Pendleton, made all the difference in the world. I crossed the street, making the decision to let Mary discover Bart’s proclivities for working out in the nude, or whatever, for herself.
James I havent seen anything now for some time on your comments on you time frame for finishing. I have been looking regularly but dont see anything since late July and early August. the Last post I got you said the next chapter might be out that night Aug 3 which would have been XXIII. Am I missing something are has something happened? I have finished all. I have been having a problem myself. I fell and injured both my eyes on May 2and could not see at all I now have most of my vision back in my right but still not my left. I have had 3 surgeries on it soon for and an other pending probably in Dec.
I has been a rough 7 months for me. Hope you are ok and will be back soon Please let me know the status.
Hope like hell you are better now. Sorry I got lost in the crazy health and mental shuffle for a bit here.
I am back and the next chapter, the final chapter of the first book, will be out next week, and then the hardcover novel and the first chapter of the second book
of the TCL series. My right eye is shot too, one little fragment that did its work after so many years. There’s a lot they can do for eyes but not everything.
and Semper fi,
How much and my address is 3430 Draketown rd
Edinboro Pa 16412. Please email at my address below
The signed hardcover will ship tomorrow. It’s 35.00 which includes shipping.
Thanks so much for wanting to have it.
Fascinating work, sir. I enjoy every word, so keep it up!
Thanks Jerry, means a lot to me right now. The next chapter will be up tonight, I believe.
Somehow I never received your three most recent chapters. Now I’m caught up. Just one comment on today’s chapter XXII. You and your family are traveling south from the San Francisco Bay area. I’m confused with your reference to taking the exit towards Modesto and heading west to Highway 1. “I exited the freeway where the turnoff sign said Modesto. We headed west toward the coast and Highway One.” Modesto is on the eastern side of the Sacramento Valley. You would have had to be driving south on Highway 99 for this to make sense. Did you mean some town other than Modesto?
You are absolutely correct. It was Monterey. How did I get thet wrong I don’t know.
Thanks for the correction.
Your writing style brings my soul peace. I was a grunt with the 3/26, 9th MAB in 1969.
My experiences were not close to your own.
I wish you well and look forward to the next chapter of your life.
What a great compliment Russell and I can’t tell you how much it means to me.
Semper fi, and the next chapter should be up later tonight….
Glad to have found the update, you had me wondering. Your time with Mickey seems to have been a pure chance period for some healing. Sounds like he was a stand up sort of guy even though he hung out with a few questionable characters. That was a rough time in our history for all military members. It seemed that only those small islands of those who had been there and offered a moment of understanding made wearing the uniform comfortable.
Looking forward to what comes next and what sounds like another encounter with ‘Lightning Bolt’.
I appreciate the updates, I certainly look forward to your next book. Although I was 11
Bravo Army, I understand and can relate to your various situations. God Bless and keep you and your family.
Good to hear from you. Honestly, I was beginning to wonder… It’s a Covid year, after all.
The four men and Guadalcanal reminded me of a man I met a few years ago at a local organization that’s dedicated to helping Vets get benefits.
It was crowded and the organizer called for quiet and got down to business. He called for anyone who’d never tried to get benefits. One old guy, a row behind me, was raised his hand and smiled.
“What branch, sir?”
Marine and I ain’t a sir.
“Yessir. Signed up in 1942, stayed thru 1945.”
(…you could hear people across the room breathing, it got so quiet…)
“Where? I mean, which islands?”
And he began to call them out. Began with Guadalcanal and ended with Okinawa. Said he missed a couple, cause he was lucky and in the hospital. Said he got a Purple Heart for each island.
A younger woman sat with him and nodded as he recited his battle history and wiped her eyes.
You could hear people, across the room, breathe. Then rise to applaud. and cheer.
I talked to them later, after I wiped my eyes.
He’d never used any of his benefits. Came home, got married, found work and raised his family. Farmed on the side. He was there to ask about getting a spot in one of the state’s Veterans’ Homes, while he was still able to walk.
His daughter said he was the most cheerful man she knew. Was known for it, in fact.
Made my day, for sure.
It’s been a while but it was worth the wait. I’m doing about the same as you were then. Take care.
James I got the first 3 books of the 30 days in paperback and gave them to my son who’s in the army. I bought the hardbacks to keep for myself, but I only have the first two. Is or will there be a hardback of the third book I can purchase
I have it. That third in hardback. Not many produced.
Send a check to me at 507 Broad Street, Lake Geneva, WI 53147,
and Iw ill get it out immediately. Also send your address by email
so I get it right.
Good to have you back. Was getting a little worried. Looking forward for more to come. As always enjoy your writing style. Glad to see some people stepped up at key times. We all should be proactive in that way. When what someone once called “God Taps” come a knockin on our shoulder, don’t hesitate, just step up quietly and take care of what needs to be done. I have been on both the recieving and delivery end ot those taps. Your writing, story telling is the giving end of one of those “God Taps” and a lot of people are benefitting.
Thanks for the depth of your compliment and also the accuracy of it as it applies to me.
Really appreciate the friendship and sorry about how long it took to reply.
Remember the drive from San Fransisco to San Diego from my honeymoon in a 69 Dodge Charger I bought on returning from Nam.Took Three hours to get through LA. Wrong turn somewhere. Stayed in Tustin, overnight, with a high school Marine buddy who was a navigator flying jets. Wish I had your mapping to avoid LA’s 3 o clock traffic. Love all your published works and hope you eventually have a followup to Boy Warrior in mind. Your Thirty Days series was just awesome.
Welcome back, sir. Was getting worried about you.
Welcome “back”. Thank you!
I’ve missed you and your writings. I’m happy to see you’re back, and I’m looking forward to the next chapter. I hope you’re getting some compensation from the VA for your PTSD. If you aren’t; you should be! Again, thanks for another great read.
glad you are back L T your story still haunts me. I always want more
I was with the 3BN 28th Marines in 1967 at the North Gate near San Clemente after leaving Nam. Nice town great beach. Never had to go to Mainside.
Thanks for all of this, LT. My best friend in High School was an FO attached to Charlie Co, 4th of the 9th assigned to 25th infantry Div. ambushed in May 1968, 49 killed 24 wounded. He was one of the wounded. Recovered except for PTSD. Your work has helped me understand more.
Glad to see you’re back at it. Be patient, God will eventually tell you what He wants you to do.
Maybe you already are!
Glad to see you are back picking up the story again.
Quite honestly, James, I have been worried about you, both health wise and writer-wise. And glad to see you back at it, especially with this action packed chapter.
When you wrote that you were in your Class A’s, I thought back to when I returned at the end of ’66. People were down-right hostile to anyone in uniform. I was up at Lemoore, and our CO asked us to please not go off base in uniform, wear civvies.
And many times I think about the gas prices back then. I had saved a bunch of money on the ship, and bought a pretty blue Triumph. Got 30 mpg in it, and Sunoco 260 was 30 cents a gallon.
Your writing sure has the capability of keeping one’s attention on the story – thanks for being such a clear and concise author.
James, Hope all is well with you & yours. Glad to read you again. Look forward to more as well as future writings from your other novels as well. Most sincerely, Doug
Glad to have you back LT, hope that you and yours are well. Semper Fi.
Thanks Mike. Everyone here is good, or at least okay.
I am back getting the books out and then arranging for the Rendezvous visits.Appreciate those who have stuck it out,
so to speak.
Good to see you LT. Happy you hit that hotel just right! Regards!
Welcome back Lt. You have been sorely missed!
Thanks Rich, good to be ‘back in the saddle’ so to speak.
Good to have you back. To tead a chapter of your work, makes the day a better day.
Lt, you are doing something important in chronicling the trip “home” and doing it well. Having known some for years still trying to make that journey, too many finding that home was their own grave, I appreciate that. In memory of Ronnie Simmons and others, thank you.
Thanks a lot Jim. Not many of uw who made it back were given the capability to put it all down…so I am using
that gift as best I can now. Appreciate the kind comment…and the accuracy of remembering those not so lucky.
Good to have you back and thank you for another great read.
Good to have you back James, you were missed. I remember listening to Dick Biondi, The Wild Italian, on the big 89 WLS out of Chicago. If memory serves me correctly he was fired for telling an off color joke on the air.
Biondi left WLS in 2017, at the age of 85. and lives to this day. Supposedly he left over a leg injury or other such health-related problem…if Wikipedia is to be believed. I did enjoy his ability to engage between songs…and not many can do that. Wolfman Jack comes to mind.
Semper fi, my friend,
Jim, Delighted to see you had another chapter up.
Seems like you have streak of running into good people.
An the saga continues. Can’t wait to see what’s next.
I see the bard has awaken in the dog days of summer
Yes, I am fully back and half way through the next chapter in an effort to make the next
pieces reflect a more staccato style of delivery.
Semper fi, and thanks,
Thanks, it was worth the wait. I enjoy reading and experiencing the LT’s life. You always leave us hungry for more.
James You have been missed SIR !!!! God Bless and thanks that You are still churning out Your memories.
The GTO (GOAT) Memories of ESSO gasoline and putting a tiger in your tank.
Glad You ran into some Marines that Appreciated You !!
Your mention of Dick Biondi bounced some of my Grey Cells I was adopted in Indiana and listened to Dick on WLS top of Prudential Building Rode the South Shore line in went to top and would hold up song requests on the broadcast booth glass He was a class act.
We served different rolls in VN at different times. God has always been there in Your life when least expected.
God Bless You Your Family and The Work of Your Hands !!!!
Thanks George, and yes I would later listen to Biondi on WLS too.
Thanks for the cogent and well written comment.
Nice to have another great story I have really missed them keep up your very good work,it’s very inspiring to me.
Thanks Ron, finished another chapter last night that ought to go up today.
Middle of next one as I move to end the first book of the recovery and go on into the second.
How I remember packing my family in our car with the cheapest U=haul on the back and miles in front of us,
N.J. To ‘Savanah and back, with a stop in Vietnam in between. Then to Kentucky and Texas and at last Louisiana. So broke I couldn’t afford a pet peeve. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.
Biondi. Yes, I used to listen to him later in life on WLS too. What a talent he had.
Thanks for the short review of your own travel odyssey. How did we do it back then, knowing almost not a damn thing.
On a wing and a prayer!
He’s back, thanks LT, and I see life can be good at times. It always seems to take you down roads to where you don’t know what is coming next, and lots of surprises too. Keep it going and thank you sir!
Thanks Bob, I am indeed back and ready to finish The Cowardly Lion and begin book II of the continuing sage of Vietnam and beyond.
Appreciate the compliment of your delivery and tone…
Loved your response, I have possibly mentioned before I myself did not get to serve due to a back injury, even tried to enlist in 1970. But my Dad was a Marine in WWII 1st Marines , first invasion of the Solomon Islands, only lasted there days before coming home on a Mercy ship and spending a extended time in SFO VA hospital, got a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star, lost hearing in one ear and partial in the other, but made it home! And to finish, Thank You and welcome home Sir
I am so happy that you did not go to Vietnam. I am always positive about that, not because of anti-war feelings but because almost invariably I am communicating with the guy that didn’t have to go.
Communicating one way with the most of the guys who went with me is sort of unsatisfying and relatively fruitless. Combat guys of all types and services are very rare because most did not make it, die when they get home
relatively quickly or are so mentally maladjusted that stye are basically incapable of normal conversation or relationship. Glad you are here. Glad you do not suffer guilt for not going.
The live, the country, the relationships here in this culture are so worth being among. Follow your bliss…and thanks so much for the complimentary response.
Nice NICKNAME SIR !!! keep up the good writing !!
Thanks for the compliment and the appreciation.
Means a lot to me these days…
You have an Angel or more looking after you.
Yes, I do feel the wings wafting a bit now and then…although, even after all the reading and living and such
I truly don’t comprehend the whole of the teachings…or which ones to follow or believe or what.
Semper fi, and God Bless you…
Great to see you back to the story.
Thanks for the comments you write on Facebook, and here H. Kemp.
Appreciate the time and trouble and the compliment of your continued presence.
Semper fi, and thanks…
Did you ever think from surviving horrendous wounds that living and all the positive coincidences on your journey were a sign you were in Gods care?
Not until recently Rich. I know I am God’s child but for the hell of me I can’t ever seem to figure out what I’m supposed to do
about that. Thanks for the reminder, which all of us need as life keeps coming at us full speed ahead.
Semper fi, and God Bless you…
Welcome back James,
Seems as if the support you need is automatically coming from unexpected directions. Super!
Some minor editing suggestions follow:
/>A small group of older men
Looks like some extra symbols stuck in there.
A small group of older men
kept track of the mileage we’d put on from ‘Hank’s station.
Single quote in front of Hank’s seems extra.
kept track of the mileage we’d put on from Hank’s station.
named Phil Phillips, not this real name,
Maybe “his” instead of “this”
named Phil Phillips, not his real name,
leaning his elbow on one of the hairs arms.
Maybe “chair’s” instead of “hairs”
leaning his elbow on one of the chair’s arms.
he’d just made up the numbers while we were sitting. The town doesn’t much like Marines, especially those fresh back from the Nam.”
Add quotes in front of “The town”
he’d just made up the numbers while we were sitting. “The town doesn’t much like Marines, especially those fresh back from the Nam.”
I couldn’t relax without Mary and Jules being taken care of
Jules or Julie?
I couldn’t relax without Mary and Julie being taken care of
Blessings & Be Well
Thanks as always, Dan
Jules has been her nickname forever…
I thought that might be the case. How can a dad forget the name of his daughter.
The adventure continues. May your family be protected.
Blessings & Be Well
You are such a help to me Dan that I don’t really know how to reply…except carefully so I don’t need so much
correction and interpretation assistance! You are terrific.
I really like your written word.
Thank you very much Ernest. The smile you give me by your own writing helps me move along with the prose…