Category Archives: Military
Before Mass at Noon we all marched outside and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Then, as is the custom on this Memorial Day, we raised the flag which had been at half mast in honor of the fallen heroes, and then quickly raised at Noon to honor their achievements for the country and the world. I was sopping wet under the vestments, as I had just been to the cemetery. It was raining. But, you’ll hear about that. And about this 16 year old…
That kind of brings it home. You’ll hear about that…
You see it immediately, don’t you, above: Look! Up in the sky! What’s out of place? If you draw a line between the two light poles sticking above the tree line, you’ll see it midway between the two. About 5 seconds earlier he was over my parish.
He screamed directly in front of me. But, I didn’t see him. Wasn’t looking for him. I heard him, but only after he had passed by quite a long distance. Then I looked. But he was already almost gone. Let’s zoom in, but, know that had you been the enemy, you would never have seen or heard him. In the mountains here, there is no such thing as situational awareness for this.
Note to the dozens of militias in the area who think they can take on the U.S. Military: are you out of your minds? Are you, like, that ignorant? I’m all pro-second amendment, but, I mean, grow up. And if you say that the U.S. Military can’t be used against the citizenry of these United States, know that you wouldn’t qualify, being that you will have become enemy combatants. /// End of rant.
That, my friends, in the picture above, is an F-16 Fighting Falcon on its 45th year originally produced by General Dynamics, now also by Lockheed Martin and others around the world.
- Max speed: 1,500 mph
- Range: 2,622 mi
He’s just barely high enough to hit safely the branches of the trees instead of the tree trunks when topping the highest ridges. My dad used to do this kind of thing with an old fighter attack Corsair, ripping the shingles off our house and the houses of our city back in the early 1960s. I would run outside jumping up and down, running, waving, I see times haven’t changed so much at all.
Am I seeing things? Is that a bit of red on its tail? Let’s zoom in:
I think so. And only one attack fighter has that silhouette these days. So, here’s a stock photo below (looks like during a takeoff as if it were a landing the wheels would already be fully down):
Flying at top speed from its home in Alabama to Western North Carolina would take only 9 minutes. 229 miles. I’m guessing they like to practice zipping through the crazy mountain terrain. From here to Mount Mitchell we have the highest, craziest mountains in eastern North America. I’m guessing this is radar evasion practice. This was done a while back late at night with what I’m guessing was a proof-of-concept flight with a C-5 Galaxy with the intention of getting it back into service. It was accompanied by what seemed to be varying fighters, one I clearly saw being an F-18. They were really low-flying, like just 300 feet up or so. Insane. Awesome. Really, really, really loud.
Let me take the opportunity to thank everyone in our military and our military families. Thanks for what you have done and continue to do. Thanks for giving us all an example for us to strive to follow.
Our tiniest of all parishes has wildly interesting people. Many are military and many number among the intelligence and scientific community. Jerry Hudson is a good example. (And, yes, it’s that Hudson.) We had his wake 5-4-2018 and the funeral 5-5-2018. He was edging on 80 years young. I will miss him sorely.
As with most ultra-extreme-genii who change the entire world in which we live, Jerry dropped out of High School. Jerry was profoundly patriotic, profoundly Catholic. He was scooped up by the USAF in his Junior year. They gave him further schooling, specialized, fit for his smarts. After that, he was known simply as “The Mechanic.” It’s like calling “Good” Will Hunting “The Janitor.”
At one point, Jerry went through the FBI qualification exams with extreme perfection.
- He was so perfect that it is as if he himself had composed and arranged all questions, connections between questions, levels of meanings in questions and their connections, and scenarios, connections among scenarios, and levels of meanings among scenarios, able entirely to manipulate follow-up with the starkness of utterly dead-pan reasoning.
- He was so perfect in all of this that he was turned down. In other words, the FBI felt themselves to be in danger since his intelligence far surpassed anything they could come up with. He would be able to run circles around them and there is nothing they would be able to do about it, and therefore he was considered a threat.
That hits home with me. I myself have seen it before, up close and personal, at by far the most academic of Catholic institutions. It is frustrating. There is so much that could be done. But, that’s just how it is. It is what it is.
In a what could have been imagination, what if the FBI had instead created a specialized investigatory IG position for Jerry. The Strzok and Comey scenarios and all the rest of the Department of Justice corruption would most likely have never come about the way it is today. Anyway…
There’s no love lost between the FBI and CIA. So, of course, after Jerry was dumped by the FBI, he was picked up by the CIA. I love that. Since he was “The Mechanic”, they put him to work on the U2 spy plane for its missions over Russia, from Turkey – yes, don’t deny it – where he kept the pilots in good order with good oxygen for four years. Mind you, he figured out how to do this for a plane flying many miles higher than the ceiling of our most capable passenger jetliners even while he himself was living in a tent (since you can’t have a base for a plane that doesn’t exist, right?). Mind you, today, we let our fighter pilots die in our own day because of CYA cover-ups, we not wanting to admit that we don’t know what we are doing in trying to keep the pilots in good order with oxygen. For shame! Sure, the guts of planes change. But we should investigate the procedures by which Jerry was able to figure out problems. We might learn something that will save lives today. Science is as much about method as facts. Knowing the facts doesn’t mean understanding. Jerry knew stuff, and understood, and could “fix it.” After all, he was “The Mechanic.”
And, by the way, that stint with the CIA helped to change quite entirely the course of the cold war with Russia. He was, perhaps, at that time, the biggest enemy that Russia had. He was also instrumental during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Jerry is a great American hero, yes, as CIA. I sometimes make purposed poking fun at the CIA, or what looks like serious criticism, but let me for a moment be serious:
Meanwhile, “The Mechanic” worked on pretty much all the Apollo space missions – yes, those missions – and on pretty much all missile systems of whatever kind, air to air, air to ground, ground to air, from the sea, intercontinental… for whatever military manufacturer, for whatever branch of the military, pretty much everywhere. Yes, it’s him: “The Mechanic.”
His baby, above. Just a few of the missions he worked on (but much more than these):
Obviously, he was from Kansas…
I mentioned that Jerry was Catholic. Most of the crowd at the wake and funeral were non-Catholic, mostly family from everywhere and friends. But there were also quite a number whom no one had seen before, were not related, came late, left early, and, if you know what to look for, very much fit the bill as reps for, you know, The Company. I’m very touched by that. Very human, that. And it’s a recognition by The Company of just what an impact Jerry made not only on America but on the entire world in stopping Russian imperialism dead in its tracks. With the passing of Jerry comes the passing of an entire era. He should be recognized in Congress post-mortem. The Air Force came up and did the flag ceremony for the burial. Very touching. They really did a good job as it was obvious this was much more than a job. This was personal.
Meanwhile, Jerry was always helpful, always encouraging, always a friend to everyone. Jerry encouraged me on my homilies, loving the irony of mercy being founded on justice. He loved that I myself led the rosary during adoration, saying that he never once in his life saw a priest doing that, and loved to see a priest who is a believer. As I say, he was always encouraging, looking for things by which he could encourage people. I mean, when does anyone encourage a priest? He did. That’s the kind of guy he was.
When he had some medical difficulties recently, we spoke of going to heaven as I gave him the anointing and such. He simply enjoyed life because he had a deep faith, a wild sense of irony. Those two go together, faith and irony, very well and make up the Jerry we all knew and loved. You’ll be sorely missed, Jerry. God speed, my friend. Tell Jesus how we want to get to the gates of heaven… and then get in!
Mind you, Jerry was a genius in the extreme. And yet he was always the little kid, full of wonder, always wanting to learn more, always thinking, pondering, but with joy, never with fear or bitterness, knowing that he knew nothing compared to what there is to know both in this life and in the life to come. Would that we could all retain our wonder as kids, and be joyful in learning about things here on earth, and then, please God, in heaven. Here’s Jerry in his younger days, just like his older days:
The day started extra early, chasing about doing errands. I ended up at the soup kitchen for lunch – having once been dumpster master there – having a great discussion about, what else, the CIA, with the rather special volunteers. There’s some… heritage… we’ll call it, of incisive military telecommunications among them. Because things are never as they seem, right?
Then it was off to test out the Glock. I hadn’t had any practice since the trip NOT to “Smeerna” but rather to “Smurna” (Smyrna!). Better this time on the FAM course with a passing 90% though one shot was overtime by 0.15 hundredths of seconds (otherwise well under the clock), but worse on the FBI course with a score somewhere in the 70s. I ain’t good at the long shots. Mind you, that’s all with targets 7.4 times smaller than regulation.
I narrowed down some of the problems of the Glock to a faulty mag. However, even with a new guide rod / double spring combo, the slide would still not lock back on an empty mag except once out of very many times. The only way is to count rounds fired. Not easy with adrenaline pumping in a critical incident. At least it fired.
No more Winchesters, which now I’m guessing are out-cycled military ammo that’s really, really old. Now it’s Federal Brass FMJ. I noted that if I hit the loop wire holding up the little dessert plate target, the Winchesters would only bend them; the Federals mostly cut them right in half, I’m guessing with more brass over the tip.
Then I took off from the hermitage to be back on my way to the parish. Meanwhile, on the way, I was taken aside to be given some fake news, you know, about our missile readiness, because, you know, that’s a normal conversation for me to have on a day off in the middle of absolutely nowhere, with cell tower dead zones many dozens of miles long. Of course, maybe that would be the ideal place to have such conversations. Anyway, this is sourced from the horse’s mouth, someone I’m sure some of you have encountered on the road. He’s the knucklehead with military tags who races from silo to silo, site to site, to do some “testing,” but going rather fast on the road, well into triple digits when he can. No law enforcement is going to stop him, not with those tags. I won’t repeat what he obviously wants repeated, which I’m sure is purposed misinformation. Otherwise, it would be among the highest classified military secrets we have. And he wouldn’t want to reveal any of that, would he? Sorry, my friend from NAS Pax.
This is a topic which has of a sudden come to the fore…
Live and learn, right? But maybe it’s taken all these years to learn a lesson about military funding. Trump’s got it right. Here’s why:
At the end of any war there is a push by politicians who have no military background to cut military funding down to just about nothing, as if no other war would ever take place.
What happens is that training goes to hell and no one knows how to do anything anymore. No more tactics. No more talent. An entirely vulnerable nation. But it’s like clockwork. Politicians play on the heresy of false optimism, that we’ve saved ourselves because we played out some fearfully effective strikes in the last war, yesterday. So, now it’s all good. We don’t need funding. Let’s spend money on pork projects for my constituents. Then, for just a few individuals, literally, the entire nation is put at risk.
After WW2, and then, “after” the Korean conflict (which Trump will hopefully now bring to an effective and formal close), back in the 1950s, pretty much the entire budget for pilot training was slashed to nothing, that is, just when the first jets were coming out.
My dad, commander of the famed Checkerboard fighter attack squadron out of the Marine Corps Air Station (Merritt Field) of Beaufort, SC, just up from Parris Island, came back from his ten years in the South and then North Pacific Corsair flying (VMFA-312) so as to teach the guys how to fly at Andrews just South of D.C. while he was put through JAG school at Georgetown University. After this, he went to Chicago to continue to teach a new generation of fighter pilots.
But that’s when the funding was cut. He knew how to fly by instinct and could handle the new jets, but his students couldn’t learn the instinct because there was no funding except for just a practice flight here, maybe again later, there. Nothing really. They had to think about flying the planes. Not good enough. They flew the planes literally straight into the ground.
My dad complained ferociously about the need for more funding for more flights. Denied. Again and again. More deaths of the best of the best.
And that was it for him. He wasn’t going to kill off an entire generation of pilots just because some self-congratulatory politicians thought they could please a few pork recipients.
So, dad took a cut in rank, left the Department of the Navy, moved to Minnesota to be a civil lawyer and politician himself, meanwhile joining the National Guard for something like another 20 years. But his heart was still with flying for the USMC. He would often bring me to airfields, and sometimes was able to commandeer a fighter to buzz over the rooftops of our local city where he was mayor. Why? Because his heart was still with the guys who were flying their planes straight into the ground because there was no funding for pilot training in the hippie days of the early-mid 1960s. Guys thought they could fly. They knew nothing. They were taken out with great ease by the enemy. We had now lost everything. Tactics. The whole lot. Gone.
Finally, with enough dead, people woke up. Top Gun school was created. Now, looking back, we all wish the Top Gun of Top Guns would have been heard. But at the time, all that could be heard was the ♬ kaching ♬ of greed. I, for one, am happy for the renewed military spending, and that, finally, finally, we are taking a look at the plight of our pilots.
Here’s dad, George Byers Jr, getting out of one of the planes he so loved to fly:
“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.
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.
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.
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?
I 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.
We have ancient of days Navy veteran in the parish, now down in Erlanger-Murphy Medical Center Physical Therapy Rehab.
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.
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…
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:
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…
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… :-)
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.
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:
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!
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.
You’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…
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.
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.
Let’s take a closer look at that:
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:
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.
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…
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.
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…