Tag Archives: USMC

Dad’s alcoholism as USMC bomber & fighter attack pilot. Be nostalgic! Do it now!

WWII Corsair footage coming up in my YouTube “suggested” feed went unwatched until a priest friend texted the same video to me. “Be nostalgic! Do it now!” That made me nostalgic, of course. I like to brag about dad and his medals from the USMC and Dept of the Navy, the Army, various nations. This is my way of supporting the military. But something has been lacking in this support. I should be more fulsome in reporting about my dad. In this way, I can brag about him even more.

To lead into that account on dad’s military alcoholism, let’s try to understand how he got there. Context is everything, as is the solution. So back to his medals, particularly a few of the citations, which recount a hell of a lot of violence:

Just weeks later, days and days after Japan was not surrendering, calling the bluff of Little Boy and Fat Man, dad would be working with Minoru Wada to take out the communications and command post of Japan in the Philippines, instantly forcing Japan to surrender, just as Douglas MacArthur had predicted.

That’s the stick of bombs that did the trick in the background, the stick of bombs that dad would point out to me with such enthusiasm throughout my childhood. I knew it was him flying that bomber with that stick of bombs. Minoru Wada, POW but an American citizen (long story) was the navigator in the foreground. We had pictures of Minoru Wada up throughout the house, also together with my dad. They’re hanging up in the rectory in front of me right now.

I’ve bragged a lot about dad in the past, putting up pictures of his multiple Distinguished Navy Service Medals, his multiple Distinguished Flying Crosses, his Purple Heart, his fistful of Air Medals, and truckloads of other medals, but that doesn’t quite capture what he was going through personally.

Here are two more citations for his three DFCs. Lots and lots of death. That makes an impact.

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I was once able to peruse dad’s log books not only detailing logistics of hundreds and hundreds of sorties, but also including his super idealistic and super patriotic dreams for future political service back Stateside. I was very taken also to read vivid, poetic descriptions of the faces of Korean rice-farmers during low-level approaches he was flying so as to take out communist munitions trains and the bridges they were using.

That’s dad at the fold of the wing of a fighter attack corsair of the Checkerboard Squadron 312 that he commanded after graduating from VLMB 611 to move on from Guam and the Philippines to Japan, China, Korea and mapping out the future air campaign for Vietnam.

Drinking!

In those log books he also briefly detailed some of his drinking sessions, with whom and where, with names having a significance for these wars that I cannot now decipher. These are not now in my possession.

Meanwhile, here’s part of a conversation I had with a Vet of 28 years yesterday after daily Mass:

  • Me: Guys often learn to drink during their time in the military.
  • Him: Yes. They do.
  • Me: Amounts of liquor are often proportional to how many of your own guys were killed and then, in response, how many enemy combatants you’ve done in, and then, also in proportion to the comradery you have in plotting out further solutions, drinks in hand.
  • Him: Correct.

Anyway, as you can see from the citations above, describing just a few sorties amongst hundreds and hundreds, there was likely more adrenaline flowing than any liquor later on, the liquor diluting the adrenaline only slightly. You’re out of bed and in the plane flying a nanosecond after you hear this, gallons of adrenaline flowing again:

Dad became a military alcoholic. And he continued to be that in my youngest years.

But here’s why this is actually the source of my greatest bragging about him.

There was one particular Ash Wednesday that he gave up his smoking and drinking cold turkey, taking up sugarless hard candies and going to daily Mass. And he stuck to it. Did he struggle? Yes. Did he seek help in spiritual direction from priests? Yes. He wasn’t just overcoming drinking, he was facing, again, all the violence that he was entirely personally involved in, more violence than many towns will collectively see in a lifetime.

Meanwhile, he would bring me to daily Mass as a little kid, when I was a teenager, when I was a seminarian back home for the Summer.

My dad, the military alcoholic, totally my hero. Because, in being pointed to Jesus, he pointed me to Jesus.

So, what’s it been like being the son of a military alcoholic? I love being the son of my father.

I’ve never hidden that my dad was a military alcoholic. I’ve never denied this, suppressed this. No. It’s the other way around. I’ve striven to follow his good example. How accepting people were of that is another story for another post. But for now, thanks, dad. The world thanks you. Rest in peace.

Here’s Part 2 of this series, with Part 2 about how yours truly has striven to follow my dad’s good example:

Son of my military-alcoholic dad: striving to follow his good example

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TOPGUN Dave Berke on TOPGUN: Maverick as interviewed by Jocko Willink

Watching the above is like watching two of the best of the best talk about my dad. Great!

And a bonus:

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My Dad to Congress pre-JBA USN SFTI: “If you think up there, you’re dead.” Wait, what? TOPGUN Maverick

Before the United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program (SFTI) came to be in the 1960s, aka, the Navy’s TOPGUN program, what you see in the TOPGUN films, it was my dad who taught the best of the best of the best at Andrews adjacent to D.C. while he was also going through JAG school, degreeing out at Georgetown and being accredited to SCOTUS.

Did I say the best of the best of the best? Besides skill, what that also means is pushing the limits. One of his students did that over D.C. coming into formation with a too-quick barrel roll, clipping off the end of dad’s wing, so that he had to fly with that wing dipped waaaay down. He told me about the emergency vehicles there to clean up the crash. But, no. He landed on that same broken wing, then on that broken wing and and its wheel, until it dropped hard. No worries.

Dad’s one of the most highly decorated pilots (Guam, Philippines, Japan, China, Korea, Vietnam…), with the story behind some of those medals being worthy of multiple major films. Sure, I think of his saving ambushed troops, alone, his plane ripped with shrapnel, and of his exploits with Minoru Wada, ending Japanese aggression.

But, for me, what especially stands out is his F-You moment to the powers that be after funding was cut for his training of the best of the best of the best. With the new jets coming in, these guys flying faster, maneuvering faster than they ever had, necessitating flying not by thinking but by instinct, but with no program-money for practice flights, they were ramming themselves into the ground. Imagine the heartbreak. Dad made constant appeals to Congress for more money for his program. His line to them was: “If you think up there, you’re dead. You can’t think. It has to be instinct.” Nothing. Since he was the teacher of the best of the best of the best, if he had an F-You statement to Congress, it would mean something, striking a cord. Dad did have some language skills. His F-You was to take a cut in rank and pay and then join the National Guard for another twenty years while taking over a law practice and starting up a family (including yours truly). It would be a few years until they missed such instruction. That’s when the TOPGUN program was born in the Navy. Of course it was the Navy. That was the apology of Congress for cutting the funding from the Navy in the first place.

Meanwhile, as a courtesy to my dad – or as a result of his momentary thefts – there were a number of times he got in a gullwing Corsair once again from an airport an hour away by car, then flew to my hometown, and then “took off the roof” of the house with waaaay tooo low passes. I think that if I were to have been up on the roof I could’ve touched the plane. So loud! :-) I remember running outside to see him fly over and dip his wing in salute to me with me cheering him on.

I’d like to go see TOPGUN Maverick. Busy with priest stuff, I haven’t seen it, yet. Have you?

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USMC “vax” mandate axes 200 best, brightest

US National Archives  vintage flag iconic GIF

FoxNews story: HERE. Well worth the read. One Marine wrote 30 pages on why he is sincere with his religious beliefs in seeking a religious exemption. That was denied out of hand against the non-establishment clause. The Dem appointed Brass throughout the military are horrific anti-American betrayers of all that is the Constitution of these USA. For shame. They remove the best and the brightest so as to purposely weaken the military, to purposely put these USA at risk. The “vax” only weakens people, causing them to get the virus and spread the virus. That’s the point. The more people dead, the better for the “green new deal.” This is why the “greenies” have pushed abortion for decades.

Here’s the deal: It’s the top Brass, as it were, of the religious hierarchy who lead by example, giving permission, as it were, to slit the throats of all would like to enjoy their first amendment rights of the free exercise of religion: “Get the ‘vax’ or else you priests can’t provide sacraments even to those actively dying!” Sorry, that analogy limps. Most priests, not the best nor the brightest, are wimps and stupid, and so get the “vax,” and don’t have their throats slit. Too bad, that.

I’m no Donatist heretic, but a future Pope ought to absolutely permanently remove these Judas-betrayers who are interested in nothing but the raw power of death. Feel the power! Is that what they’ll say to themselves at the judgment, before Jesus, who was in the womb of His Immaculate Mother for nine months, Jesus, who said that what you do to the least of these you do to me?

The “vaccines” came about through the direct murder of healthy, fully developed babies, ripping out their living organs, so as to research, develop and test “vaccines” all in a continuum until today. Time is not a moral criterium. Directly doing evil to achieve “good” damns one to hell: this is not a double effect side-effect. This is not rocket science. Jesus isn’t going to accept some lame excuse: “But the USCCB told me that it’s, like, all good to murder children for the benefit of my feeling the power, like, and stuff.”

My thanks go to the USMC 200, who will go down in history as the best of the best, the brightest of the brightest, who had the honest and integrity to stand up for the Constitution, to stand up for the inalienable rights of the citizens of these USA, to stand up for the free exercise of religion. Thank you.

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Winsome Sears: Virginia Lt Gov elect *great* speech: USMC!

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Tommy the Toronto Cardinal’s vax mandate: dark evil as occasion for a good retreat: Oorah!

Starting Sunday afternoon October 3 the priests of my own diocese will be on retreat. Maybe. Jesus set a precedent for His future bishops and priests at least to attempt to go on spiritual retreat:

  • “Come apart into a desert place, and rest a little. For there were many coming and going: and they had not so much as time to eat.”

That didn’t work out. Instead:

  • “As Jesus went ashore and beheld the vast crowd, he had compassion on them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.”

That may well happen. During the retreat there are many dramas in society and the church which, we were promised, will be addressed. I mean, try doing a retreat and not at all addressing the impact of those dramas that are directly and immediately affecting our own physical, social, economic and spiritual and priestly lives. But however that works out with the topics covered, or not…

It is before we finish the retreat on Friday afternoon October 8 that unvaxed, untested bishops, priests and deacons of the Archdiocese of Toronto to the north of us will already have been forbidden to administer any Sacraments to the Lord’s Little Flock, so that they [LifeSiteNews reports] “could face disciplinary action that includes termination.” Cardinal Tommy severely pre-reprimands those whom he assumes will lie about being vaccinated. Just. Wow. Is that projection of a fraudulent attitude or what?

  • “If an employee does not comply with this policy, or is found to have submitted fraudulent proof of vaccination, a fraudulent test result, a fraudulent summary, or fraudulent documentation in support of an accommodation request, they may be subject to discipline (which includes being placed on an unpaid leave of absence), up to and including termination of employment for just cause,” and this not only for those ordained, but also and “not limited to parish staff, lectors, choir members, and ushers.”

I mean, I’m not going to lie about getting some murderous “vaccine”, giving bad example. I’m quite happy to proclaim that I did not and will not be getting any “vaccine” the creation of which depends on extracting live organs from live babies extracted from the womb, fully developed, fully healthy, until that point when they are murdered for big pharma profits, for murder-for-hire recipients.

Such rancor from Cardinal Tommy Collins might threaten to put a dark cloud on our own retreat for us, a presbyterate of another diocese in a different country – what with expected solidarity among brothers in blood (offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Persona Christi) – but the fact of the matter is that this kind of tyrannical arrogance has already been playing out for quite some time in other (arch)dioceses right around the world and throughout North America, in Hamilton, in Moncton, in Lexington, in Patterson, in… the… Vatican… and we’re already quite used to it, already put on edge by it.

  • “But Father George! Father George! You have no standing to say such things because you’re, like, stupid, and the Cardinal is, like, a Cardinal, and he’s got, like, academic degrees, you know, from Jesuits and stuff and everything!”

Yes, well, it’s embarrassing, but just like Cardinal Tommy Collins, yours truly also got his Licentiate in Sacred Scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute (Jesuits) and, just like then Father Tommy, yours truly also got a Doctorate in Sacred Theology. And it’s even worse, just like I got a Cardinal friend to fly to these USA from the Holy See and give a conference on the priesthood at the Pontifical College Josephinum, and then later got Father Swetnam to teach an entire course there on the priesthood and the Letter to the Hebrews, I also was deputed some years ago to invite Cardinal Tommy to give our diocesan retreat on the priesthood in our tiny WNC mountain diocese. He’s the only one who refused…

  • “Father George! Father George! That proves you have no standing because you’re, like, the pastor of the smallest parish in North America and Cardinal Tommy is, like, a Cardinal of by far the largest archdiocese in his entire nation, so he’s like, big, and you’re, like, small, and besides, he’s, you know, a Cardinal, like Blase, Joseph-baby, the Wilty-guy and, you know, Teddy-bear, and, like that Francisco guy in Guadalajara, you know… like a Cardinal and stuff…”

Sigh. Anyway, LifeSite reports that the memo claims that the archdiocese “will accommodate individuals who are unable to comply with this policy on the basis of a protected human rights ground to the extent required under human rights legislation.” But that’s total B.S., as LifeSite points out, because:

  • “Last month the Archdiocese of Toronto released another memo telling clergy they are not to sign any letters of religious exemption regarding the COVID-19 vaccines, despite its connection to abortion. The injections, which all have connections to fetal cell lines that were sourced from aborted children, are a cause of moral apprehension for many faithful Catholics and high-ranking clergy alike.”

But should tyranny becoming ever so common throughout the Church darken a spiritual retreat? No. Not at all. Hahahahaha. Never. That’s not how it works. Here’s the deal:

  • “And we know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints.”

As so many have pointed out, the dear Lord has called us to live in these times, just as He has called the saints of other times to give witness by their very lives in their times, and they did so with joy, with enthusiasm, expecting the same inasmuch as they already knew well the wounds of Christ Jesus, knowing where they were going, where they now are, in heaven, with all the saints who have all given such witness. Great! Let’s get this done!

From the klaxoned “Aarúgha!” to “Oorah!” ;-) Amen.

When I was a kid in the early 1960s, this is what we heard in my hometown when my USMC fighter-attack-pilot dad was mayor, you know, just as a test, at high noon, but also for old times’ sake, right?

Here’s the deal for little me: The good Lord has provided me with a dad who knew how to fight, who is my hero, whose example I strive to follow, and I, as a priest, have a vocation to follow Jesus, The Warrior of this Ecclesia militans, as the Master so the disciple. Whether we use it or not, all of us priests have all the heavenly wherewithal to follow Jesus and all the saints in protecting the least of the brethren, in the womb. Let’s do it! Let’s get it done! Oorah!

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Humor: Toys for Tots robbery. USMC rocks. Snopes: “Mostly true.” LOL.

Hear the one about the shoplifter injured in a 'fall' after stabbing a  Marine? | Hackensack Daily Voice

I like that… “according to a police report.” Best police ever. LOL.

This is why USMC is the USMC. This is why LEOs are LEOs. Yay! LOL.

Sorry, it’s said that we’re not to rejoice in the downfall of our brethren… um…. (laughing out loud, more quietly). LOL LOL LOL! Can’t help myself.

Here’s the deal. We are not to rejoice in the moral downfall of anyone. We are not to hope that someone goes to hell. No. That would not give glory to Jesus but only to Satan. I get that. But this is just, say, a guardian angel tripping this guy up so that he can turn his life around. And in that we can all rejoice. LOL.

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Navajo Code Talkers & USMC Iwo Jima Flag Raising: Gives me the shivers.

The video below is just three minutes. By the end, you’ll know that we are all Americans, together. Listening to the patriotic emotion of this gentleman in the video is one of the many re-set buttons we need in these USA. Patriotism is a virtue that is consonant with all that is Judeo-Catholic. Oh, and there’s one more thing I have to say about this…

Amen and amen. :-)

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AOC, MAO, Green New Deal vs Faith, Truth and Justice

I mean, do you see any connection? The Green New Deal IS the Chinese Communist Party, right? I wonder if “NOW” refers to the National Organization for Women. Just sayin’.

Oh, I forgot, isn’t China the most absolute world’s worst in their arrogance of pumping out carbon emissions? Yeah, I think that would be right.

Always hypocrites, all the time, everywhere, about everything. Styrofoam puppets.

Lemme see. I think I remember a particular medal of dad.

It’s given for the World War II service in…. China. Japan was being slightly aggressive at that time. So, these USA and China were friends at one time, you know, until the Wuhan Virus was sent around the world.

The power grabs and hypocrisy are ever so typical of the ways of the world. In all honor, we can indeed attempt to serve our fellow man right around the world by risking life and limb on behalf of the mercy of justice. John the Baptist gave good advice about proper morality to the occupying military forces of Rome. He didn’t ask them to go AWOL.

And if you’re wondering about Little Boy and Fat Man and the role of my dad in that fiasco with Japan and why we were friends with China, check out what actually ended WW2 in the South Pacific theater. It wasn’t Little Boy and it wasn’t Fat Man:

USMC VMB 611: Japan Surrenders

Minoru Wada & George Byers Jr

Someone should do a doctoral thesis on this at, say, West Point, concentrating on the culture of Japan, what McArthur said about the instantaneous surrender of Japan should the Philippines fall from their control, and the whole story of Minoru Wada and George Byers Jr.

If we forget history, it will replay in all of its worst aspects, with players changing sides just to be clever.

  • For the worst of the worst, it’s never about patriotism, but only about power.
  • For the best of the best, it’s always about respect for fellow human beings wherever they are in the world, about honor, about the patriotism which supports all the best of a localized national family, if you will, which is at the service, as a nation, to others around the world.

For the best of the best to take place, with honor and integrity and honesty and justice and mercy, humble reverence before God Almighty must be rendered.

My best memory of Dad in early 1962, at two years of age, was kneeling with him at Communion time at the granite altar rail with its linins folded over our hands. That was, at that time, in the gorgeous Cathedral of Saint Mary in Saint Cloud, Minnesota.

In America and around the world, we have forgotten that our identity is to be found in God, who so loved the world…

The party that has voted God out of its platform, the Party that is all about attacking the free exercise of religion and freedom of speech, the party that is all about the suppression of the Living Truth… that Party is bringing hell on earth in an ever more unleashed manner.

We pray for a return to the faith: Hail Mary…

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Quite the Happy Birthday e-card for both me and my dad. Wow. Good one.

Happy Birthday ecard

That’s Shadow-dog, of course. And that’s dad’s training plane some 80 years ago. The idea is that he’s flying up in the heavens now, wishing me a Happy Birthday. Our birthdays are only two days apart.

just me 02

The Boeing Stearman was a military trainer introduced in 1934 when dad – George Byers Jr., was just 10 years old. They were dumped on the public after eleven more years, 1945, just after WWII. But I’m guessing that only after a half dozen years an early training model would have been run into the ground, as it were, and the military would have sold some of the more battered workhorses to some enterprising farmers wanting to utilize a bit of the new crop dusting technology and who knew a crazy enough young lad like my dad who would jump into such a wreck. That’s me in my immense naivete saying that. I’m sure it’s not really that way.

BOEING STEARMAN YELLOW BIPLANE

I’m betting that if the truth were told, with the preliminaries of WWII gearing up over in Europe, our own military, very short on pilots, dumped some of the planes early on with the farmers, not because the planes were worn out, but for ulterior motives. I bet the deal was that the farmers would only train in young, smart, but crazy would-be pilots who would be quietly assessed in their skills by the military. In other words, without knowing it, the kids self-select, the farmers confirm that, and then they are finally approached by the spotters. Dad was taken on in the early 1940s to a small military airstrip along the Mississippi river down in Iowa. He crashed before taking off the first time in a battered Corsair fighter attack plane they pointed him to. They forgave that crash and immediately had him try again. They knew he was better. Indeed. He quickly went on to become one of the most decorated fighter attack pilots in World War II.

This e-card took some research. I think I have the best parishioners in the world.

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What’s that circling about the church? More on my best memory of dad.

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Dad was all about USMC Fighter-Attack Corsairs and then jets. I once asked him if he could fly helicopters and, to my delight, he said that he could fly about anything at all that any manufacturer has come up with that goes up in the air. Marines. For God and Country. Yes, both of those in the same sentence. For God and Country. A marine is always faithful, semper fidelis, Semper Fi, because God is first of faithful, so to speak, steadfast in the glory of honor: God so loved the world that He sent His only Son… So, I always wax nostalgic… From a post I put up some years ago, with a few more details:

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Dad’s the one with his back to you immediately to the left of the propeller. This is on the USS Bataan.

My favorite memory of dad was back in the Autumn of 1962, when I was just 2 1/2 years old, ten years after the picture above was taken. I’d walk up in the Communion line next to him with the rest of the family behind us. The first time I had made brave to follow him the rest of the family threw a fit saying that I should be carried, but I insisted I could make the long trek from the back of the Cathedral up to the front, and dad backed me up. The Cathedral had a gorgeous altar rail with the linens flipped over the top. I was always impressed by the linens getting flipped over the top, just as I was with kneeling there beside my dad, reaching up as high as I could to put my hands under the linens like he was doing. I was pretty small. I was filled with such wonder and awe and reverence as the priest and altar boy with paten would make it over to us. They would start on the Epistle side. We were always on the Gospel side. Everything worked together to instill reverence.

It was good be on my knees with dad before the Lord Jesus. Very good. That’s not just reminiscence with commentary of someone older. No. I was thinking that thought as a tiny little kid. And I can still remember thinking it from my diminutive height, especially so small on my knees. I remember how cold the granite altar rail was below the linens – even in summer. Here I am, thought I, with my dad, before God. I was totally enthralled.

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Armistice Veterans Day: Integrity Honor

This is the recording of an F-4 dog-fight practice run in the North Sea when James Charles Evans (12-29-1942 – 4-13-11) had to eject with a damaged plane that was on fire. His son was given this recording by his mom after his dad’s death and he decided to put it up, having gotten a walk through the recording by another pilot, Capt. Daniel.

This caught me off guard, making for some intensely emotional listening, as it brought me back in time to when I was a little kid and my own dad was telling me about the times he had some rough times in his piloting. I don’t have recordings of such conversations myself but I wonder if I could get a hold of them. Anyone know how to go about doing that?

(1) Dad was heading up the Corsair Squadron known as the Checkerboarders, which is still commissioned today. His plane got pretty shot up in a real dog-fight and his engine was on fire, with oil covering the window cap of the plane. I asked him if he had a parachute and he said yes. I asked him if he used it. He asked me why he would jump out of a perfectly good airplane. “What did you do?” I asked. He described the landing amidst cliffs jutting out every couple of hundred yards across a beach in North Korea (you can find this on Google Maps. Going deadly slow, he popped the plane up just before a cliff and came down hard on the beach on the other side before smashing into the next cliff. I said that the prop is too big, and would do the egg-beater thing and the plane would flip. He admitted that that’s what happened. “But how did you get back to safety. The North Koreans would be sending people to capture you.” And then he said something with such matter-of-factness which told me everything I needed to know about him and the Marines and what trust and loyalty that had for each other. Totally inspiring:

“Well… (exasperated sigh at my unknowingness)… My own guys picked me up, of course.”

Absolute trust. I gotta well imagine that the conversation before crashing out was awesome, much like the recording above. I am inspired.

(2) The next downing a plane piloted by dad, also a corsair, was accomplished by a student of his, at what is now Andrews Joint Base just South of Washington DC, where dad was doing the TOP GUN thing before it became a thing, teaching guys how to fly while he also did up his JAG at the-back-in-the-day Georgetown University. The student came out of an overly too quick and wide barrel roll, trying to show off, right on top of my dad’s right wing, actually breaking about a quarter of his wing right off the plane. I asked him if he had a parachute. He indicated he did. I asked if he jumped out of the plane. He asked why he would jump out of a perfectly good airplane. Then he explained that he had hold the stick over with all his might, since if he didn’t, the plane, already flying at an extreme sideways angle, would immediately go into such a violent spin that if he tried to get out he would be instantly smacked into nothing by the then spinning wings. Every resource of the airport emergency services were dispatched, fire engines, ambulances, the lot, but they were amazed to watch this best ever pilot land first on the one wing tip, then the wing tip and it’s accompanying wheel, then both wheels and the back of the plane. I can only imagine the cursing and praising going on at the same time among all at that airport. Oh… And this goes to speak of how much my dad was looked up to by his students. The barrel-roll guy who knocked the wing off his plane asked him if he would be his own Judge Advocate General, but dad told me that he had to tell the guy that it would be a…. wait for it… a conflict of interest!

I wish I could get the recordings from the tower for this one too.

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2019 Marine Corps Birthday Message

Thanks, dad. 1924-1993. RIP

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Devil Dog’s Son, Fr Byers: ironic proof

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Yours truly on a day-off, of sorts. Smiling and what all. The gall. A snake-handler preacher man ruint with longevity. Way too snarky. Having waaaay tooooo much fun. And who ever heard of a day off for a priest anyway? Sounds demonic. Anyone who casts out Satan must be doing this by Satan, and is a devil himself, a downright snake in the grass. And… and… I’m the Son of a Devil Dog. So, that seals it.

VMFA 312 Marine Fighter Attack Pilot Devil Dog six 50 cals

While the USMC in general has a nickname of Devil Dogs, dad was a commander of the Checkerboard Marine Fighter Attack Squadron of gullwing F4U Corsairs (VMFA 312) each sporting six 50 Cals and having the logo of a Devil Dog carrying the same. But the idea that the Marines are Devil Dogs isn’t that they are demonic. Here’s a one minute recruiting commercial about that:

The idea of extreme violence of a Devil Dog is not that goodness and kindness and truth are suppressed. No no. Instead, it is to bring goodness and kindness and truth to those who are happy to receive it even if it means battling in hell to do it, and looking, for that reason, finally coming out of hell, very much like the devil himself for having fought battles in hell over against the devil, that serpent who, for all his bluster, has been vanquished by Christ. I mean, isn’t it true that Christ Jesus looked demonically criminal on the Cross for having battled all of that hell that was broken out all at once against Him on Calvary?

Jesus crucified passion of the christ

One of the greatest defeats of contemporary mankind is the loss of a sense of irony. We don’t see behind the truths plainly spoken to see… the truth! What to do when we are just learning to live with Him who is Truth, but who for all intents and purposes and constructions looks to be Untruthfulness. He did that for our sake, by the way, laying down His life for us, the Innocent for the guilty, so that He might have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. I might have said that once or twice before… ;-) Jesus is very much the Devil Dog Himself. You don’t think so? A blasphemy you say? Let’s review something I’ve many times posted, but not in a while. It bears a re-reading. We MUST get a sense of irony back if we are to be Christian, if we are to have a sense of identity, a solid base from which to work, that is, a oneness with Christ Jesus, Himself Irony Incarnate, as it were, so to speak, a Devil Dog. Let’s turn to the great historian Hilaire Belloc once again, for, after all, we bear the burden of being naive, or, as he says, “young”, “pure”, “ingenuous”, so easily thrown into fear, unthinking, cowardly fear. Enough of that! Behold: irony!

hilaire belloc“To the young, the pure, and the ingenuous, irony must always appear to have a quality of something evil, and so it has, for […] it is a sword to wound. It is so directly the product or reflex of evil that, though it can never be used – nay, can hardly exist – save in the chastisement of evil, yet irony always carries with it some reflections of the bad spirit against which it was directed. […] It suggests most powerfully the evil against which it is directed, and those innocent of evil shun so terrible an instrument. […] The mere truth is vivid with ironical power […] when the mere utterance of a plain truth labouriously concealed by hypocrisy, denied by contemporary falsehood, and forgotten in the moral lethargy of the populace, takes upon itself an ironical quality more powerful than any elaboration of special ironies could have taken in the past. […] No man possessed of irony and using it has lived happily; nor has any man possessing it and using it died without having done great good to his fellows and secured a singular advantage to his own soul.” [Hilaire Belloc, “On Irony” (pages 124-127; Penguin books 1325. Selected Essays (2/6), edited by J.B. Morton; Harmondsworth – Baltimore – Mitcham 1958).]

If there’s any proof that I’m a Devil Dog, it’s that I love such irony in the face of my being the most naive, the “youngest”, the “purist”, the most “ingenuous”, the most stupid idiot in the world, unable to appreciate such truths until they smack me down with such extreme violence that I gotta pay attention. It’s like Thomas the doubting Apostle. I’m forced to put my finger into the holes the nails made in the hands and feet of Christ. I’m forced to put my hand into the side of Christ, where I touch that beating heart, still pierced open. “My Lord and my God,” I blurt out. The irony is, I’m the absolute last person who would ever say that. Not me. I’m the one who put those wounds there. But the truth, “vivid with ironical power”, shines the light, and makes me a Devil Dog too. Thank you Jesus, you who want to make us all Devil Dogs.

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SGT Henry Felsen USMC: “The flak was so thick…”

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2019-07-29 · 1:38 pm

Dad’s Citations: Distinguished Flying Crosses “Heroism and Extraordinary Achievement” x 2 (and Purple Heart)

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And then, three months later:

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The Distinguished Flying Cross, after 1942, is ranked two steps above the Bronze Star. The two Citations are for both “heroism” and “extraordinary achievement.” Sometimes ribboned medals have a “V” device for “Valor”, synonymous with heroism. I’ve seen military sites which distinguish separated reasons for receiving the DFC, so that one receives the DFC for either “extraordinary achievement” or for “heroism”. In that case, one would think that one would receive the “V” device for “Valor” if issued in the case of heroism, or, as in the two citations above, for both simultaneously. But that’s not the case. Instead, if I’m not mistaken, the DFC is always and only issued when heroism, valor, is indicated along with extraordinary achievement.

I gotta wonder if the reference in the first Citation on September 6, 1951 to “intense and accurate hostile ground fire which damaged his plane” is the occasion for the Purple Heart which dad also received. I’ve no citation for that (not yet found anyway), just a copy of the official listed record and the medals. I do remember him describing the extensive damage to his plane from getting shot at in a certain battle.

He said that he had to crash his plane. If this battle was the occasion, it means that “despite” having received that ground fire, he kept on flying and destroying tanks and strafing enemy troops, that is, after he sent the rest of his pilots onwards. His Checkerboard F4U Corsair would have had fully six fifty cals in the wings. I can only imagine that this a smallish version of “The Highway of Death”:

purple heart

I had asked dad how he escaped back to base after he crashed. Stupid me. His own Marines, he said, saved him. Of course. Not just a band of brothers, but they would have been particularly immediately thankful for his having singlehandedly saved their backsides. He might have been damaged in his own backside on that occasion, not only from the hostile guns aiming at him, but from the crash itself. In looking at the date for the second DFC, December 29 of the same year, it means he was back flying in no time.

  • Is it a Patriotic to make such reviews? Sure.
  • Is it a son who honors his father? Certainly.

Is it also me trying to understand better the decades I had with my father (33 years together)? Absolutely. Knowing some of the situations that he was in, and how very many he killed in battle, seeing those soldiers right in front of him being ripped in half by his fifty cal low pass strafings would take their toll regardless if they were they enemy shooting (successfully) at him. That’s something you carry.

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USMC VMB 611: Japan Surrenders. Minoru Wada & George Byers Jr

  • LITTLE BOY: On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped a 13 kiloton uranium bomb on Hiroshima. The decision had been made on August 4. No surrender from Japan.
  • FAT MAN: On August 9, 1945, the United States dropped a 21 kiloton plutonium bomb on Nagasaki. The decision had been made August 7. No surrender from Japan.
  • The purpose of the second bomb was to get across the idea that there was an endless supply of bombs. The bombs were, however, vastly different one from the other. That’s weird… Since no other bomb followed a three day pattern, so, by the 12th, it might well have been hypothesized that there were only two bombs of such enormity. Japan was willing to call the bluff, as it were.

For scale, note the mountainous coastline at the bottom of the picture.

Sure, it was all entirely devastating. But however important Hiroshima and Nagasaki were, I wonder if they were necessarily decisive as everyone says they were. Whatever about any military industry that was there, those two cities were civilian soft targets. Japan could still congratulate itself as to somehow imagine that they were winning, or should be and could be winning in the bigger picture, say, in the Philippines, regardless of losing important battles in the past there as well. Japan did not surrender in the days following the second bomb, and the days would drag on. They would not surrender until August 14, 1945, fully five days after the second bomb with obviously no third bomb falling. I’m guessing there had to be something else to push the decision besides any taunting from the USA.

News would finally come of what might be called a third bomb, that is, what happened in the Philippines on August 10, just one day after the second bomb. This news of a “third bomb”, though nothing nuclear, would have been strategically the end of any hope of victory for the entire war. This “third bomb” did not involve any massive battle and was not hard fought. It was ridiculously insignificant compared to Little Boy and Fat Man. But what the USMC had done in the Philippines on August 10, 1945, heralded the end of Japanese aggression in the Philippines and decisively ended any possible hope of their continuing with their aggression. When they heard the news, they would have to surrender, and they did.

So, what is it that happened in the Philippines? Glad you asked. It’s a story in pictures. Here’s an original newspaper story that my dad had specially framed up. You can find others copies online. This is the actual newspaper:

Sometime before the dropping of Little Boy and Fat Man, the Imperial Japanese Army Officer Lieutenant Minoru Wada was captured by the USMC on Mindanao of the Philippines. He’s an American born Japanese fellow, who, as was the practice at the time, grew up and went to school in Japan. He was American, but was taken into the Japanese Army as the Japanese aggression began. He betrayed Japan, although with the best of intentions, so as to lower casualties in Japan by ending all hope for Japanese victory in the Philippines, and thus ending all hope for Japan to be victorious in their overall war of aggression, forcing their immediate surrender. Army General Douglas MacArthur had long stated that the Philippines were absolutely strategically necessary for Japan.

Minoru Wada might well have been told of the intransigence of Japan in the face of Little Boy and then, as the mission dependent on his betrayal was being readied, he might have well been told of the dropping of Fat Man without any reaction from Japan. The pressure must have set him to shaking quite literally. This betrayal, surely saving even millions of lives, would bring Japan to give up. This was not a betrayal then, at all. He did the right thing for humanity. There was zero loss of life on the American side. All they did was to take out the well hidden headquarters of the Imperial Japanese 100th Division and their communications center, ending effective Japanese military action. Four days later, Japan did indeed surrender.

Now, I suppose I’ll get blasted for saying such an outlandish thing. The events of Little Boy and Fat Man over against this little operation in Mindanao are incomparable. Yes, but the Japanese military machine seemed to be calling the “bluff”, if you will, of two bombs so different from each other and therefore likely being unique in production and not at all exemplars for an unlimited supply of similar nuclear bombs. The arguments among the top brass must have been intense, with anything else that might happen being that which would lead them to surrender. They were risking so very much. The loss of the effective control of the Philippines was simply too much to bear in the wake of Little Boy and Fat Man.

Odd thing about Minoru Wada, he had worked closely with my dad, George Byers Jr, who was flying for the USMC VMB 611 at the time in the Philippines, on Mindanao. My dad is to be seen in the upper left of the bottom group of four pictures in the newspaper story above. In that picture he is the one in the lower right (the back of his head, but unmistakable to me, his son!). Dad totally respected integrity and honesty, and what he saw in Minoru Wada would have captured his imagination. He put the original photos of Minoru Wada in frames and hung them up around the house, including the original newspaper story (the actual newspaper). Dad pointed out to me as a little kid the bomber with the “stick” of bombs falling. So, I gotta wonder who the pilot of that particular PBJ-1 seen out the window is. These pictures are from our family home back in the day…

Dad was just 21 years old in 1945. Here’s a picture of him with the typical aircraft of the VMB 611, that is, the North American PBJ-1 (either “D” or, probably “J”) medium bomber airplane which sported twelve to thirteen .50 caliber machine guns, and carried bombs, depth charges, 5-inch rockets, or an aerial torpedo:

Placing him in the Philippines at the time is a citation he received for an Air Medal. I only just happened to get this just the other day. Yikes!

And the Air Medal with the numeral 5 for that citation:

The Air Medal for numbers of missions surprises me. I’m guessing he’s done hundreds over the many years. Antiaircraft fire is nasty for sure. He’s becoming a decorated member of his squadron at the same time as Minoru Wada is captured and brought on side. I’m sure dad’s meeting up with Minoru Wada was very formative of his own character for the rest of his time in the military, which was to be a long time indeed. Minoru Wada’s name was changed for him. It is unknown if he is still alive. If he is, I would like to thank him for what he did.

One of the last things VMB 611 did was to accompany (for navigation purposes) F4U Corsairs to Shanghai, China. The VMB 611 was shutting down, and dad joined up with the occupying forces in China (getting another medal for that), and then went on to head up the Checkerboard squadron in Japan and Korea, with the medals piling up as he went along.

The abundance of medals, I’m told, is most extraordinary, as in those later years the flow of medals slowed down to almost nothing.

What have I learned from dad? Just be faithful to what you need to do in the circumstances right before you, step by step. Just do it. Do it fiercely. No apologies. No compromise. Ever.

This is never easy. But do it. Not everyone is given over to doing things right. The VMB 611 had an extremely rocky start. Horrible. Like hell. It seems with people doing what they shouldn’t be doing. Putting hundreds of our own at risk. Horrible. Horrible. I’m hoping my dad missed all that. I don’t know. Finally they got established, did what they needed to do – thanks Minoru – thanks dad – lots of great crew and pilots – and just that quick they were disbanded. Take the opportunity to be faithful while you have it. In this case, they were there to do a simple flight that would assist Japan to surrender forthwith, saving millions of lives. And I’m sure that was by far the easiest flight any of them had ever done in their careers. Easy or difficult doesn’t matter. Just be faithful. Always. Do it fiercely. No apologies. No compromise. Ever.

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“I’ll get ‘The Hog,'” said I. Of Snipers and Fishermen.

One of our fishermen in the parish, who takes care of the fisheries, that is, gave me his pellet rifle the other day complaining that the scope was off a bit, and therefore he could no longer successfully shoo away, as it were, the kingfishers, who eat enormous quantities of fish, the crows, who only eat the eyes of the fish and leave the rest, and the blue heron, for which he has a special permit. He knows nothing about zeroing in scopes. Neither do it. I might know something about Glocks, but that’s it. “I’ll get ‘The Hog,'” said I.

“The Hog” wears a “Hog’s Tooth” on paracord around his neck. A “Hog’s Tooth” is a 7.62x 51mm NATO round usually shot out of the M40A6, he being a Marine Sniper with plenty of confirmed kills. He lives just down the street. He was happy to take the pellet rifle for such a good end to zero it in. He did it right away, and it works great says the fisherman.

Meanwhile, “The Hog” and I got to talking, and the conversation came around to my dad, as it does when speaking of all things USMC. Being a history buff, he wanted to have a look-see at dad’s medals list and the actual medals that Mark Meadows and the great Beverly were able to obtain for me (after decades of no success with just me trying).

And that brings me to today…

  • Today, June 11, is the anniversary of the slaying of Father Kenneth Walker. But, more on that later.
  • Today, June 11, is the anniversary of the death of my dad. But, more on that later.

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“You’re a ‘hotbox’, Father George!”

zero dark thirty hotbox torture

Enhanced interrogation can include the hotbox, which you can see pictured above on the right. The front side flips down and the person is crammed inside in a fetal position for a day or two. Really, really, really horrible. The hotbox itself doesn’t do anything, but certainly attracts the attention of the one inside of it, others having done that.

There are many definitions of hotbox, some related to growing cannabis, some to enhanced interrogation, some to solitary confinement, etc. However, in prison, a ‘hotbox’ is a prisoner who is constantly being surveilled, that is, more than others. For some reason or other or none, he’s got the attention of the powers that be, with the guards and administration always in his face. It’s not that he’s done anything wrong. It just is what it is. Entertainment. Perhaps a psychology module for continuing education.

Today I protested to Father Gordon that he might be more blacklisted than he already is if he’s associated with me, even though I’ve never met him, and only do some logistical things for him. He dismissed that, laughing, saying the worst of what he thought of me, which, he being good and kind, isn’t bad at all. He said: “You’re a ‘hotbox’, Father George!” After he explained what that meant, I protested: “I didn’t do anything!” He said, laughing again: “That’s what they all say!”

Ha ha ha.

If there’s supposed to be something annoying about being a ‘hotbox’ I haven’t noticed. I mean, if it’s not one thing then it’s another in life, right? If anything, it makes life interesting. Oh, that’s right. That’s some sort of Chinese curse, you know, to have an interesting life! I always thought it was fun. Make me the ‘hotbox’! Make me the ‘hotbox’! Me! Me!

I always did like extreme sports, doing things others avoid. It’s a No Fear! thing.

Be careful what you wish for.

How Kryptic can one be?

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Top Gun: The Rest of the Story

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:

george-byers-jr-usmc-corsair

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