Category Archives: Military

“The Guy” lets me in on my life

joint

“The Guy” and his lovely wife joined the usual crowd for the evening meal on my “Day-Off”. Three and a half hours of great conversation and a really good home cooked meal.

“The Guy” is the the guy who, eventually, had only one boss, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. He, um, kind of knows how stuff works. There was a lot of ground covered. Stunning. A lot to take in. We may have some common friends. In that mix, somewhere, is my “Shadow.” I now know who he works for. It’s funny how life works out. I’ve contacted my “Shadow” about this. He’s cool with it.

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Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor – Conversing of LMFBR in my tiny parish

We had a Knights of Columbus Fish Fry April 20, 2018 at Holy Redeemer parish in Andrews, N.C., so as to raise money for the local Special Olympics. I would have to be there, of course, just then, in the parking lot to go up to the parish hall. As I got out of my car, a jogger, say, in his sixties, jogged up to me, stopped, and we had this conversation:

  • Jogger: It’s good to see you.
  • Me: Good to see you too. [But I’m wondering who he is. Bad memory, I guess.]
  • Jogger: I wanted to come by and bother you but… ’cause we got conversations to have but…
  • Me: O.K. [I say “O.K.”, but the plural “conversations” is a most extraordinary usage, and bothers me. I’ve never heard it before in my life. It’s always singular. Except when there are disparate topics that have been piling up, like tasks to accomplish. My bad and evil suspicions will be justified. These conversations will not be about the faith. As we’ll see below, he thinks my present life, perhaps ‘cover’, as a priest who also writes this blog, is a total waste of time, in which he has zero interest.]
  • Jogger: Haven’t gotten around to it.
  • Me: We’ll get there.
  • Jogger: Yeah.
  • Me: O.K. [So, I’m waiting for a hint. And here it is:]
  • Jogger: Did you do any research on liquid metal fast breeder reactors?
  • Me: No!!!!!!! That’s what I need to do!!!!!!! [Sorry, but I’m really bad and evil. I was using the loud voice of a sarcastic Matt Damon with an unrelenting Robin Williams from the few clips I’ve seen of Good Will Hunting on YouTube. My unnamed interlocutor continues with an incisive sarcasm all his own, as if my life as a janitor – err… I mean… priest… – isn’t good enough, especially the bit about the total waste of time, he thinks, of my writing this blog. I should stop hiding away in this tiniest of all parishes. But, mind you, I absolutely love this parish in these mountains. Love it. He says:]
  • Jogger: Well, I know, I mean, I know you got nothin’ else to do but write. Hahahahaha.
  • Me: That would be a good one down the way. Yes, that’s for sure.
  • Jogger: Now, you’re, George, right? Byers?
  • Me: Yes. [Because he can’t believe my denial.]
  • Jogger: Good! [[Then, as he started to jog away, he said:]] Bye! We’ll be up in a little bit.

He could see that I was a priest with all the black and the Roman collar, and that I was physically at that moment at that parish, obviously, but he still wasn’t sure of my identity (I could be a guest priest after all), so he asked if his prior knowledge of my name was correct, you know, after my denial about working on LMFBRs.

So, some interrogations – err… – conversations are in store for me. “Researching”, mind you, on LMFBRs doesn’t refer to summaries of the history or findings of others throughout the decades, (what a waste of time that would be) but rather on the LMFBRs themselves, which is the only way to do anything, the only reason why anyone’s knowledge would have any value whatsoever. Maybe he’s offering me a job. Could be about doing active research, could be about doing something about some LMFBRs in some other way. But maybe asking about someone’s wherewithal with LMFBRs in whatever way just to do it is a normal thing at the ol’ fish-fry, right? I mean that’s a normal conversation to have, right? Maybe it’s a task to accomplish as a favor, and then, maybe, Main State will listen to a request of mine. We’ll see.

Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah!

But I still expect this guy to come back with his friends and have a wee chat with me. Blog posts like this are merely one of those nothing is as it seems things, right?

 

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Setraco Group “hit list”, Main State, my “Shadow”, terrorism, and me.

beirut setraco group

never look in my spam box, ever. But I did now so as to retrieve a registration link from a D.O.C. communications group so as to set up an account enabling me to connect all the more easily with Father Gordon MacRae, right from his cell. Very cool, that.

But there were just a few other spams in the box, and one caught my eye, as it involved the name of my “Shadow”. I did NOT open the message, but a preview pop-up revealed a hit list targeting Setraco Group out of Beirut, a construction company in 30 countries with 20,000 employees. There were hints as to the sender. There was a picture of the target. Setraco’s world offices are in an ultra-ritzy suburb, of course. They’ve suffered quite a number of very specific, directed, assassinations from ISIS elsewhere.

As I write this, my “Shadow” is going ballistic, as I simply mentioned the word Setraco to him. Nothing else. He instantly – instantly – launched into a diatribe about Syria (his favorite stomping grounds) and Putin and WMD and the Mossad and terrorism and on and on. How did he know that would actually be precisely on point, not having heard of Setraco and not having even a second to look them up before responding? Meanwhile, as I write this and text him, I get a call from Mexico (his other favorite stomping grounds) giving me a name. This is boring. I need something more exciting. I need to pay some car insurance.

The parting shot of my “Shadow” is that I am a terrorist. He’s really fuming. I said nothing in all this. I just mentioned the name Setraco and all hell broke loose. But, as I always say, nothing is as it seems.

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Nobody beats him in the kitchen

We have ancient of days Navy veteran in the parish, now down in Erlanger-Murphy Medical Center Physical Therapy Rehab.

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He likes to reminisce as much as I do. Lots of stories. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that no one beats him in the kitchen. On any ship or submarine, he was the one who ran the entire food sector, which, after propulsion, was the largest operation. He never had to worry about getting a court-martial over bad food, especially on a sub. It was prime rib and lobster all the way. Always the best food for enlisted sailors who earned the right to wear the “dolphins” as an SS (“Submarine Specialist”), and those on the way. He was also in charge of a number of aircraft carriers.

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Sitting around in PJs: Delta flight 65 – (Rome – Atlanta) Pararescue Jumpers

A Main State (Dept of State) letter to me back in the Summer of 1992 mentioned that I am subject to a perpetual program of travel accompaniment because of anomalous circumstances regarding my identity. On June 28 of 2017 (reconfirmed June 30), Main State said that because the program is interdepartmental all instances of the program are destroyed from the beginning except a basically unmaskable summary kept only by the Director of the CIA and the Secretary of State. The program can run without anyone accessing that summary. Whenever I travel, I’m accompanied. Period. I’m just a “package” to be delivered. The guy making the assignments doesn’t have to know anything, nor those who carry out the assignment, just that I’m the “package.” People ask me if I’m harassed by the TSA or whatever. Never. Just the opposite. They treat me very well indeed. All very polite. The FBI underlined that perpetual travel accompaniment program for me four years later overseas when speaking to me about that letter (1996). Outside of the summary (which would never be seen) no one knows why the accompaniment order is in place, whether I’m a good guy who needs this for whatever reason, a bad guy who is nevertheless valuable for whatever reason, or anything whatsoever. It is what it is. It is actually fairly common. I always have interesting travel companions when I fly. Always diplomats, intelligence services, air marshals, military, operators. Only. Always. Same on this return trip from Rome to Atlanta.

Delta likes to look like it likes the U.S. Military, especially when they are boarding. Like little kids, those in wheel-chairs, those who need extra time to board, service men and women are invited to board early. The invitation was made like a half dozen times, that is, to the military, twice as much as the others. No takers, but they were there aplenty. If they don’t want to be known to everyone on the flight, Delta shouldn’t point them out. After the flight is over it doesn’t matter. But while boarding it does. In the same way, Air Marshals also hate it when they have to look the part and do stuff which makes it obvious who they are. It’s easy to look for tell-tale signs of “carry” if you know what to look for. But anyway…

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While boarding I said to the huge guy pictured above: “Oh, only two engines.” He then proceeded to tell me the make and model and horsepower and history and pros and cons of that particular engine, saying that we could last on just one engine for some nine hours with this particular plane with the load we were expected to have. I asked if he was avionics in the Air Force. He said that he was. As it turns out, there were a number of avionics guys (I was personally introduced to just three) and others of the group in the Air Force on the flight, a very particular, cohesive crowd, sitting next to my seat and all around me (as always). One of the guys, a couple of rows ahead, on an aisle seat, older, clearly the leader, stood up after we got up to altitude, turned around and stared at my face with the wryest, most subtle smile ever, I guess successfully distinguishing me from my “Shadow.” Yes, I was the “package.” Sigh. As I once told my “Shadow” that this seems to be such an enormous waste of money and resources, which he immediately dismissed as being only the tiniest part of the program and was no big deal. These guys weren’t in uniform, but I got to know them as the flight continued on for its 10 hours 31 minutes.

The guy next to me was pretty open about what he did and the kind of training he had and pointed out who in the group would know what about whatever. Very cool, really. Very competent operators. All very friendly. It seems that they were all PJs, that is, Pararescue Jumpers, that is, the rescue crowd the Navy Seals and Seabees and Army Rangers and Green Berets et alii call when they get in trouble and need some help. The PJs are the only operators dedicated only to rescue in the U.S. Dept. of Defense. I’m guessing they were coming back from a mission further away to the East from Rome, and it was just as easy for them to get on a civilian plane in Rome as it was to get on a military transport running through Germany.

Of all the logos of all the groups of all the branches of the entire Department of Defense and beyond, the PJs have far and away the best logo:

USAF Pararescue That Others May Live

Who knows what their mission had been, but the guy next to me, a really nice guy, I suppose because he saw that I was a priest, said they were all on a “Follow-In-The-Steps-Of-Saint-Paul” pilgrimage. I didn’t ask. He just went ahead and offered that, it seeming to him that their rather special group needed an explanation. Which is interesting in itself. Anyway, I’m unrelentingly bad and evil. And hearing such a thing as that, and being ever so cynical and doubting as I am, I did up a little interrogation with him:

  • Me: “Oh, so, while you guys were in Rome you must surely have gone to Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls, where Saint Paul is buried?”
  • PJ: “No, um… we didn’t go there.”
  • Me: “Oh, so, I guess you went to the Mamertine where Saint Paul was imprisoned?”
  • PJ: “Mamer… What?”
  • Me: “Oh, so, I guess you went to Tre Fontane, where Saint Paul was decapitated?”
  • PJ: “Um… No… Never heard of it.”
  • Me: “But I mean, you must have gone to Malta, where he was shipwrecked…”
  • PJ: “Um… Where?” [He honestly knew nothing about the nation of Malta…]
  • Me: “Or you must have gone to Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Cyprus, Crete, Greece, Sicily, southern Italy… you know, the steps of Saint Paul…”
  • PJ: “Those must be on another Steps of Saint Paul trip…”

I stopped there with that. Too embarrassing. So, he lied about the purpose of the trip. No big deal. Obviously they were up to something else. Hey! If it was the steps of Saint Paul maybe they went to Syria and did some stuff. Anyway…

He told me that his big passion in life right now is historical architecture. So, I showed him this picture…

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I soon found out he knew absolutely nothing about the most basic things about historical architecture. Nothing.

Anyway, he said he was a photographer for the group, and had been a photographer for the Air Force, specifically also for the PJs, and not just photos, but also a number of promotional videos for the PJs, going with them on actual rescues, which, as he said, had him either dropping into the sea with them or hanging from razor-edge tops of mountains. I couldn’t resist asking him about that too.

  • Me: “So, a lot of that must be online if it’s promotional, recruiting stuff.”
  • PJ: “No, actually. None of it is online.”
  • Me: “But anyway, it’s all very interesting. I mean, you must have had a lot of the same training as the operators.”
  • PJ: “Oh, no. Not really. No.”
  • Me: “But I mean, in jumping into a stormy ocean or hanging off a precipice while manipulating a camera, during actual rescues, you will surely want to be accomplished enough where you absolutely will not ever for an instant get yourself in trouble as you would then drastically lower the chances of the success of the mission because you have to be rescued instead of the guy originally in distress. So, I mean, you really have to be as good as PJ operators, because, really, you’re doing the same stuff as them.”
  • PJ: “Well, it’s just that I don’t bear the wounds on the inside that they do. I mean, I’m an avionics guy as well, and I’ve had jet engines fall on me half ripping my arm off (as I was looking at his arm which was missing a huge chunk of flesh just below the elbow, with massive scars the length of his arm). [And on and on he went describing stuff he had been through in the action one does see in avionics, but he insisted, rightly, that this was nothing compared to what his brothers went through in being in direct battle and seeing really bad stuff as your brothers lay down their lives that we may live.]

And so it went. Lots of lies. (It’s always that way. Always.) Really of lot of sincerity. (It’s also always that way. Always.) I have no right to know anything. I know that. I’m guessing that they had no idea who Saint Paul was, and that they were returning from a pretty wild mission.

The PJs are the best there are for rescue. I’m happy I didn’t have to get any green feet tatted on my posterior, five toes on one foot, six toes on the other foot if you want to be precise, a tradition for PJs and those rescued going back to rescue choppers landing in rice paddies in Nam. But I am happy that they were there on the plane to do some field accompaniment for me. I wonder if they could use a chaplain for what Pope Francis calls a field hospital even while being in one of the PJs’ field hospitals (stretchers, harnesses and choppers). Can Missionaries of Mercy do that too? I was very impressed with these guys. Of course, I knew something of the PJs beforehand, having a good friend who was invited to be one of them when he was just picking up the phone to call the bishop to ask to be admitted to the seminary. He chose the seminary, but later discerned out and got married. Lovely wife. Great kid. Still the best Catholic ever.

Of course, if I were a PJ chaplain, that would mean I would also have to do the same training. Um… that ain’t gonna happen… :-)

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“Never go to war especially with yourself.” My “Shadow” is at it again.

For those who know, this is another one of those “for the record” posts. My “Shadow” is back to the monetary bribe / extortion thing. Coincidentally, he mentioned that he’s been robbed of the computer on which he does all his analysis of Syria. Interesting, that. His missive came in after stepping off the plane. But I digress. The plane thing is for another post.

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Arnoud Beltrame: prayer for *him*?Striving to follow his example

arnoud beltrame

If you google – Arnaud Beltrame Hero – you’ll get the story about his taking the place of an ISIS hostage in a supermarket just the other day in southern France, a boring little out of the way supermarket like any other as in any small town anywhere in the world. Here’s that supermarket, your supermarket:

isis terrorism hostage trebes U location

Arnaud Beltrame is just another guy with a bit of military background like most Law Enforcement Officers anywhere in the world. But just another guy, Catholic, as most people are in France. The ISIS guy shot him four times and, by the way, no, he did not get the opportunity to get sacramentally married before he died from those wounds).

We recall Maximilian Kolbe taking the place of a fellow prisoner facing execution. Yet, the response is muted by a lot of conservative Catholic blogs. He was civilly married, though on his way to a sacramental marriage. I was a priest in France for two years but I wasn’t responsible for marriage prep and don’t know if getting civilly married means anything. In some places it doesn’t mean you are living together, just that you have an intention to get sacramentally married sometime in the foreseeable future. He had some 30 hours of prep time put in, his pastor “accompanying” them (ooooh, Amoris laetitia). I assume with all that prep time that this couple was living chastely and had always done so. But even if they were not – he in that case being no Maximilian Kolbe before his death – I would still nevertheless assume that he went right off to heaven with this selfless act of love.

Arnoud Beltrame laying down his life for someone under his protection – he being a Law Enforcement Officer – has done what Jesus calls the greatest act of love. That’s God saying that:

“This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:12-13)

Oh, and let’s not forget what we read elsewhere as inspired by the Holy Spirit:

“Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining.” (1 Peter 4:8-9)

Question from a reader: Can we ask for prayers for him?

Answer: Why would you want to do that?

I mean, sure, go ahead. Yes. Pray for him. And, by golly, there will be a massive funeral like France hasn’t seen for perhaps a half century or more for Arnoud Beltrame. Great!

But here’s how I think that will go. Those prayers and that Mass will go for those in purgatory, but not him. Indeed, I think Jesus will laugh at the attempt of such prayers and ask you if you are serious about that. Why oh why shouldn’t this guy go straight to heaven? I can’t imagine that he wouldn’t, you know, taking Jesus’ words seriously. Fulton Sheen once said about another soul that was controversial: “Upon hearing of his death, I firstly prayed first for the repose of his soul, and then I immediately prayed to him.”

I suppose I will be condemned by ultra-traditional-ism-ists for playing a dark side of Amoris laetitia. But, no. That’s not the way it is. I suppose I will be condemned by ultra-liberal-ism-ists for not confirming everything they exaggerate in Amoris laetitia for their own dark ends. And I’m good with that condemnation by them.

OK, now let’s give the proper direction to this event

There are lots of words being thrown about, like “hero,” and I agree entirely, and with that I would also point to similar selfless accomplishments of Arnoud Beltrame in the military. Really, very impressive. I rejoice in all that for him. What a great guy.

But in saying those things we had better not be “building the tombs of the prophets” in all hypocrisy, running away from doing the necessary when it is our turn. I dread my weakness and ask my guardian angel to help me in such a situation. Exclaiming “He’s a hero” is not about us basking in the limelight simply because we are the one’s voicing words like “hero.” As one operator of operators told me (“The Guy”), having a hero is not about lifting someone up; it’s about striving to follow their example.

Personally, I have a profound reverence for Arnoud Beltrame. O.K. We pray for him: Hail Mary… And now, I say: Arnould! Pray for me! Pray for us!

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Ram’s heads, Dolphins, Flying Crosses

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Dunno why, but various of the military officers in the parish who have retired out of armed services have been showing me various of their medals and devices and such. Above is a Ram’s Head, which refers to the Army’s specialized mountain forces. I put this up also calling to mind a youngster who just got his Ram’s Head, and is heading off to the Middle East. Below you’ll see plenty of medals and, in pride of place, the Dolphins.

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distinguished flying crossYou’ll see the “V” for valor on the bar just below the Dolphins.

I bring this up today because the fellow with the Ram’s Head is intent on getting the citations for my dad’s Distinguished Flying Crosses, both awarded for some sort of cleverness, but I think the explanations might still be classified. It might take an act of Congress, and that’s what he intends to do. That might open up some other doors…

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When the Executive Office of POTUS becomes a den of terrorism: analogy

Jesus Boy Sacred Heart Cross

Some twenty years ago a nine year old boy in one of my parishes on one of the many continents where I’ve served as a priest came up with the above drawing all on his own. It is the most profound theological statement I’ve seen come from anyone anywhere in my entire life. And, I must say, I’ve known many holy and extraordinarily talented people, some unknown to others, some canonized or who have their canonization in the works. Very inspiring the insight of this little boy in the very friendship he has with Jesus. It’s all about Jesus.

POTUS Executive Office

Not much of a surprise, then, to get a visit to that blog post from the New Executive Office Building of the President of these United States taking umbrage with this little boy, that is, in mid-June of 2012, well into the years of the Obama Administration.

POTUS Executive Office Robert blog visit HSH stat

Let’s take a closer look at that:

POTUS Executive Office Robert blog visit HSH tracking

POTUS Executive Office Robert Terrorist

Avatar of “Robert” the terrorist, I.T. guy in June 2012 Executive Office of POTUS

So, in other words, a supervisor sends the link to the post on my blog to his underling who’s supposed to “take care of it”. The underling is given this task because he has no qualms in terrorizing a little boy who is good friends with Jesus, you know, on government computers on government time. Why do I say that? Not just because the underling el creepo guy calling himself “Robert” uses a creepy avatar reminiscent of […], but because he left a link to his own private blog which was a hate site rationalizing and promoting the genocide of anyone anywhere who has anything to do with religion. So, what we have is someone who wants the death of anyone religious attacking a little Catholic boy who loves Jesus, rendering this attack from the most powerful office of any political leader anywhere in this sorry world. Well now, that’s a bit of a fright isn’t it? Such cowards, “Robert” and his supervisor and the Obama Administration. Creeps all.

It took about two more seconds for “Robert” to redirect a link in that post to what seems to be his own hacking page I.P. collection site, but also to block my entire blog:

POTUS Executive Office Robert hack

Freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion and all that, right?

Well, “Robert” let himself be a fall guy for the cause when I made a bit of a stink about this. He totally disappeared from the face of the earth for exactly a five year stint. ;-) Then, when he got out, so to speak, the first thing he did with his D.C. jaded eyes (hint hint hint), was to take down anything and everything about how he made his own way (hint hint hint). This was just recently, in this past year of 2017, and is still continuing until just now. He’s out…

Now then, of a sudden, my present stalker who baits me for various and now discernible reasons that I’ve baited out of him with my own baiting of him to have him reveal himself all the more has come upon the scene in the midst of a long line of coincidences that are just jaw dropping. Very interesting, really. And easy peasy. Especially because, having spent a life in analyzing texts and, in providing formation to seminarians, in analyzing people on every level, and having the burden of some years, I’ve seen it all before, so very many times. It is to laugh. Sorry, but I do laugh.

Those who lie so as to bait for a profession, to draw up, you know… – and there are plenty of those; I know many; a very hard life, that, ughhh – are never really super good at what they do because we are not created by God constantly to manifest un-truths. It’s to be seen in the slip from the statement to the assertion provided as a rationalization. The tone is always the same. It’s like a polygraph indicator. They have an especially difficult time those who have the pretense to mock religion as a fake believer who is really a fake atheist, first being ultra-tradional-ism-ist, then being a filthy, filthy liberal, then being simply one who is a stalker, researching, researching, researching, thinking they have discovered the “code” of humanity, of religion, of reality, of what really makes people tick, you know, in mere reaction to what’s been researched, a kind of dialectic on the way to UTOPIA, thinking to have broken the upper levels of KRYPTOS  in this way (just the opposite: get it?) but they have no interior realization of what it all means, always on the outside, closing the split, spinning in predictable vortex, all in “languages” they don’t understand from the inside, like trying to memorize an ultra complex maze from the inside and then seeing it all from above, but not realizing that there are hidden underground tunnels and the method of understanding is something to be drawn into but never established by oneself. Whew!

I have a lot of respect for my not-so-Kryptic stalker guy. Really smart. Refined. Who knows how to research (though he has a lot of resources). Who knows how to lie (well, inasmuch as that’s possible). He needs some lessons. ;-)

Just to say, the things that he balks at mocking are most interesting, exactly what I would expect from someone in his profession, but only if he actually knew something about me. All very professional. I like that. I think I would actually like this stalker guy, not “Robert”, but the stalker guy. He’s really very humorous. Like a brother in arms. If I’m right about who he is, I have to say: Chapeau! We should talk about CCS. We should talk about EA. We should talk about CT. Your call, stalker guy.

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Going to war on Armistice-Veterans Day

Of course the highest aspiration of our Veterans is peace. Of course the determination of our Veterans is to support that peace with what it takes: courage, valor, integrity…

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Armistice-Veterans Day: MIA-KIA?

arlington national cemetery

The surest sign that there is a lack of patriotism in a country is when people jump up to ensure that we make a distinction between Memorial Day and Veterans Day, the one being for the dead and the other for the living.

Here’s the deal: the living Vets thoughts and prayers on this Veterans Day go to their brothers who died in battle.

Lest we forget.

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Veterans Day – Reagan’s Speech 1985

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Days-off preparing for *The Day Off* Remembrance of USSOCOM *David* Suicide and Thanksgiving

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This massive cross is at the entrance to the property on which the hermitage is to be found. The neighbor is a welder and created this from the downspouts that were being replaced at the parish church which is to be found way down the mountain.

This is where I often come for my day off, during which I often get in some target practice. As it is, I’m practicing quite a bit, as, at Thanksgiving, I may well be here once again, and an old friend will be attendance with some other extended family. The old friend may well have some special effects, if you will, to try out while doing a bit more target practice, or scenario based training and drills.

For those who are a bit cynical of all this “violence”, please know that all this can be quite healing, the get-togethers and the special effects and conversation about old times and hopes of heaven and the present trouble-making we all get into happily. We’re just trying to deal with the mistake of this old friend’s top-tier buddy who took too many pain killers the other week, leaving a small child of whom he had custody, the wife having abandoned them long ago. I wonder if the military provides for dependents in such circumstances. Anyone?

If you know what “top-tier” means, then you know that that buddy, *David*, had seen a hell of a lot of hell already in his short 39 years. These USSOCOM operators are made up of the 75th Ranger Regiment, the Green Berets, Delta and the Navy SEALs DEVGRU.

Hey! An idea! Soup kitchens at thanksgiving are often busy places. Whatever you might do there, how about one other thing… Do you know any Vets who are stuck in V.A. hospitals who would enjoy a family thanksgiving even if their own families have abandoned them? Don’t know anyone? But the hospital might be able to tell you if there is anyone who is eligible for a day trip. Just a thought. I mean, after all, the way to celebrate thanksgiving is to say Thank You in an effective way, right? Yes. We say thanks to God, but the second commandment, love of neighbor as oneself, is like the first commandment, love of God, right? Yes. Just a thought…

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U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson, my hero, because you knew it when you signed up for it. Thank you.

special ops deaths

U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), one of four American soldiers killed in Niger, second from left in picture above, knew that he might be killed when he, the “Wheelie King”, signed up for the military in service of these United States.

To Democratic Congresswoman, Rep. Frederica Wilson, such an assertion must be false, as if anyone who would risk his life for his brothers and for his country by signing up for the military must be insanely stupid, as if no one would ever be so generous as to lay down his life for his friends. To Wilson, signing up for the military must simply mean another whatever job with no particular risk ever.

But to lay down one’s life for one’s friends by signing up for the military while knowing the risks – and he surely did – is not stupid; it is generous. But to say it is stupid to that soldiers’ loved ones is to attempt to skew their understanding of the heroic nature of signing up for the military in the first place is it not? This would be a viciously insensitive manipulation on the part of the Congresswoman for private political gain. In my opinion, this is a disservice to his loved ones. Horrific, really. It betrays, it seems to me, a spirit of disrespect for America and for Americans by the Congresswoman. What a shame.

I sincerely hope that his family is able to step back from this controversy in times to come and see the heroic nature of his signing up to the military in the first place.

As a priest, if I were to have the great privilege of being a martyr for Jesus, laying down my life for my friends with the love and truth and goodness and kindness of Jesus, witnessing to His love and truth and goodness and kindness to the end, however politically incorrect in a fallen society, I would love it if Jesus were to present me to our dear Heavenly Father saying of me that I knew what I signed up for. Indeed, I signed up for the love and truth and goodness and kindness of Jesus, and that, my friends, is politically incorrect, enough so that Jesus Himself said, “As the Master, so the disciple.”

Just to say it, when Jesus was obedient to His Father, He also knew what He signed up for, and I thank Him for his generosity. And just to say it, Mary, Jesus’ Mother, knew what she signed up for as well, and I thank her for her generosity as well:

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If Trump didn’t say the words about him knowing what he signed up for, he should have, as it speaks to the ultimate generosity.

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Trump, Tillerson, Pompeo, Sessions vs the self-serving swampish underlings: “Gray Area” – right or wrong or clever?

MAIN STATE DoS

“If you see something, say something.” If a tree falls in a forest with no one around to hear it, does it make a noise?

The bear that screams as it is crushed to death can’t even hear itself as it dies. Is that what the tree wants in falling? Sorry to be so cryptic (except to a few), so cynical (no choice on my part at this point). The country is not being served by the unpatriotic swamp who put peoples’ lives at risk.

“If you see something, say something.” If a tree falls in a forest with no one around to hear it, does it make a noise?

Today may be an interesting day.

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Listen up NFL! Vietnam War Memorial Moving Wall moved us to tears. You?

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I went over to one of my “shut-ins”, “Mr Win”, to see if he was up to taking a wheel chair ride at the memorial today. Couldn’t do it. So I said I would go to the Wall for him and take back a stencil of the name of a friend of his, Arthur J Elliot II. One of the guides there gave me this medallion for him. That already about set him to tears, as did the stencil…

arthur j elliot II

Elliot was a Lieutenant Commander, a Navy Seal, who was in charge of setting up ultra-temporary tactical forward operating bases. Mr Win (finally a Full Bird as they are called) was in charge of logistics. The commander of the entire war effort in Vietnam was having a meeting with Elliot and Win. “Can you supply what’s needed?” he asked. “Yes,” said Win. Later, Win went down to the docks at their base in the Mekong Delta, asking the whereabouts of Elliot. “He no longer exists,” he was told. “What do you mean he no longer exists?” asked Win. “He took a B-40 right to the chest. Nothing left, sir.” A B-40 is a rocket propelled grenade (RPG).

B-40 RPG

The guy got his heart ripped out.

And the NFL can’t put their hands over their hearts during the National Anthem…

The mobile wall is called the Moving Wall for a reason. You can’t but weep.

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I was shown the following picture which I later in the morning showed to Mr Win. He said that this was an absolutely typical scene of a Catholic Mass being said immediately after the guys would come back in from combat:

Mass after battle in Vietnam - Father Kevin Devine

The priest pictured, Father Kevin Devine, is still alive as far as we know. It’s Father Kevin who supplied my guide at the Wall with this letter of a young man to his parents, written just before he was killed in combat. I read this to Mr Win and, of course, we both got choked up. It’s as if he wrote it today in the midst of the NFL protests:

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Please share this! Honestly!

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National Anthem: Star Spangled Banner – Meaning of “hireling and slave”

This is put up again because misunderstanding of the National Anthem is reported almost daily until today. Fake news continues. Let’s do some analysis.

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner, O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

=======

The lyrics were written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key about the Battle of Baltimore fought against the Brits’ Royal Navy in 1812. The Brits just wouldn’t let it go, and had to engage again, and so lost again, almost thirty years after the end of the Revolutionary War. The Royal Navy would enlist mercenaries, the “hirelings” mentioned in the third verse, and enslave Prisoners of War to fight for them as well, the “slaves” mentioned in the third verse.

Why do I insist on this having nothing whatsoever even remotely to do with black African slaves when Key himself was a slave owner who lived long before the American Civil War? Because of the purpose of the song and what it is describing, that is, a particular night of battle in the harbor of Baltimore against the Royal Navy in which hirelings and slaves were employed in the battle by the Royal Navy, surely other Brits or POW American military.

Even if a tiny percentage of these hirelings and slaves happened to be black Africans, possibly most recently from the United States, the mentions of those hirelings and slaves wouldn’t refer to any previous status of slavery, but only to the slavery imposed by the Royal Navy on any POWs. To win this battle in Baltimore, there would be no interest in going to, say, Mississippi, and killing hirelings and slaves. To hold that to be the meaning of the words is simply ridiculous.

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Going to Guadalupe? Pay the Mexican Military Cartel cash or die. It’s that bad.

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We had a wedding last Saturday in the parish. The couple went to Mexico for their honeymoon. They reported back that there are now military checkpoints everywhere in Mexico. They don’t ask for documents or other useless rubbish. They want money, only. If you refuse, they let you go, but they call ahead to inform the drug cartel in whatever area that you refuse to donate to their cause. The cartel stops you, and simply kills you as an example for others. This makes me upset inasmuch as my identity was used for arms transfers to the Sinaloa Cartel just when Joaquín “El Chapo” Archivaldo Guzmán Loera (now imprisoned along with his “godson”) started to terrorize innocent civilians, the government, the politicians, law enforcement and, finally, the Church.

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CS Lewis & Jesus: hero worship idiocy

cs lewis abolition of man

Just say people think they are all sincere when they say “Thank you for your service.” But of those sincere people, some will turn out to be traitorous and other true patriots:

  • The ones who strive to follow the example of service given by those whom they are thanking get it and are true patriots.
  • The ones who treat those whom they thank as Martians whose example is not to be taken because there is no analogy of service that can be made [not true] are the ones who don’t yet know that they already have an entitlement spirit (entitled not to serve but be served), a traitorous spirit; thinking they are entitled not to be incriminated by the service of others over against their own lack of service, they will mock the very ones whom they thought they were sincerely thanking not long before: “We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful” (-C.S. Lewis: Abolition of Man).

So, make the analogy with Jesus:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous, and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’ Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets; now fill up what your ancestors measured out! You serpents, you brood of vipers, how can you flee from the judgment of Gehenna? Therefore, behold, I send to you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, so that there may come upon you all the righteous blood shed upon earth” (Mat 23:29-35 NAB)

If we build the tombs of the prophets it has to be done with the attitude of thanking the prophets for convicting us of our sin. If we thank service members for their service it must be done with the spirit of striving to follow the example of service that is given.

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Thoughts during July 4 fireworks for a military brat of ten-year USMC fighter-attack pilot: Checkerboarders

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The local volunteer firefighters again invited me to do the blessing for their safety just before heading off into the field to light up the darkness. We thank the Lord, Saint Michael and Angel Guardians that it all went well.

Meanwhile the families of the firefighters and firefighters in training and EMTs and police and police in training were at the minimum distance away. There was gunpowder bits and firework rubbish falling on us, and the occasional bit of still fiery firework would fall in the grass right in front of us (but not on or behind us).

Meanwhile my dad, George Byers, Jr., getting shot down in North Korea while Squadron leader for the Corsair Checkerboarders, came to mind. Having anti-aircraft fire (DShKM) take out your engine, covering your windows with engine oil isn’t a great experience. He did survive, of course (I’m here!). He crashed it on a beach in between the cliffs jutting out into the ocean. I once did the google earth thing and I think I found just where it happened. He said a ground force of his own USMCs came and picked him up. But I’m sure that that kind of thing stays with you, a bit of PTSD. It happens. Nothing you can do about it. PTSD doesn’t say you’re weak. It says that you’ve been willing to lay your life down in service of your fellow man, which also includes the North Koreans. I mean, he wrote poetry about the peasants in their rice fields, flying just over their heads on the way to take out a munitions train or rail bridge used for military purposes. He had the utmost respect for these people, and his being of service for them would make him write diary entries of his own dreams for political life in these USA. The USMC at Andrews in Washington would put him through Georgetown law school to start him on his way while he continued training the guys how to fly.

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Not my dad’s plane, but this is what he said it looked like, what with the prop becoming like a food-mixer beater. Lt. Joe Bibby, the pilot of this plane, also survived.

Meanwhile I am reminded of John Adams’ words about illuminations (=fireworks, which were invented, by the way, in the 7th Century AD):

[This day] of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.

Meanwhile we thank our military for protecting the Constitution of these USA and the free exercise of religion which we enjoy. The solemn acts of devotion include public acts of prayer, including, of course, Holy Mass, when the Word of the Father became incarnate and we saw the glory of God, the light shining in the darkness. The “illuminations” recall not only the violence of the battle on the ground or in the sky, but also the illumination, if you will, of the glory of God who, Incarnate, dies on the Cross for us in the most ferocious battle of the most ferocious war. All that went into the prayer just before the “illuminations” began. A wonderful, memorable evening. I just love being a priest.

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