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The Train Ride

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After a tiring day, a commuter settled down in her seat and closed her eyes. As the train rolled out of the station, the guy sitting next to her pulled out his cell phone and started talking in a loud voice: “Hi sweetheart. It’s Eric. I’m on the train”.

“Yes, I know it’s the six thirty and not the four thirty, but I had a long meeting”. “No, honey, not with that blonde from the accounts office. I was with the boss”.

“No sweetheart, you’re the only one in my life”.

“Yes, I’m sure, cross my heart”

Fifteen minutes later, he was still talking loudly.

When the young woman sitting next to him had enough, she leaned over and said into the phone,

“Eric, hang up the phone and come back to bed.”

Eric doesn’t use his cell phone in public any longer.

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It’s All About the Money

A couple was having a discussion about family finances.

Finally the husband exploded, “If it weren’t for my money, the house wouldn’t be here!”

The wife replied, “Honey, if it weren’t for your money, you wouldn’t be here!”

Vanishing Pastry

On a visit to New York, an Englishman and a Scotsman go to a pastry shop. The Englishman whisks three cookies into his pocket with lightning speed. The baker doesn’t notice.

The Englishman says to the Scotsman, “You see how clever we are? You’ll never beat that!”

The Scotsman says to the Englishman, “Watch this, a Scotsman is always cleverer than an Englishman.”

He says to the baker, “Give me a cookie, I can show you a magic trick!”

The baker gives him the cookie which the Scotsman promptly eats. Then he says to the baker, “Give me another cookie for my magic trick.”

The baker is getting suspicious but he gives it to him. He eats this one too. Then he says again, “Give me one more cookie.”

The baker is getting angry now but gives him one anyway. The Scotsman eats this one too. Now the baker is really mad, and he yells, “And where is your famous magic trick?”

The Scotsman says, “Look in the Englishman’s pocket!”

365 And a Wake-Up

By Richard Ammon

It has been more than forty-five years since I returned from Vietnam – yet I can still remember many of those days as if they happened yesterday. Unfortunately, there have also been far too many nights when my mind insisted on revisiting some of those difficult days in Vietnam in lieu of providing me with much needed sleep. Clearly I do not have the power to change events that occurred on the dark side in Vietnam. However, I do have the literary ability to choose memories that have a more upbeat tone. I decided to focus on a few interesting memories that may bring to mind similar reflections from other veterans who served in Vietnam.

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Before we get into the real “ham and lima beans” narrative, it might be helpful to provide some background information about my personal situation. I came from a middle class family and was the first child to ever receive a 4-year college degree. I was a Distinguished Military Student at the University of Cincinnati, graduating in 1966. The DMS award afforded me the opportunity to accept a Regular Army commission rather than a normal Reserve Army commission. Three important military criteria came attached to the DMS designation. They were: (1) I would serve in one of the Army’s combat arms branches, (2) I would receive orders to attend Airborne School, or Ranger School, or in my case I had orders for both schools, and (3) I would be given the opportunity to select my first duty station. For the later, I chose Europe thinking that a little on-the-job experience might not be a bad thing before heading to ‘Nam where the real bullets were flying. My 18-month tour in Europe resulted in two promotions, so I held the rank of Captain upon my arrival in Vietnam. My tour in Vietnam took place from December, 1968 to December, 1969.

Being a typical college grad, I had not thought much about life in general, my future, personal values, or even my ethics. In retrospect, I think I was a bit naïve about most things. Nine weeks of Ranger School changed all of that. Only about 20% of my Ranger class (many were West Point graduates) actually completed the course. But those of us who received the “Ranger Tab” knew about leadership, dedication, commitment, loyalty, and integrity. We also knew how to deal with adversity and the importance of teamwork. And most important, I knew myself.

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I volunteered for Vietnam because I thought I would be on the right side of history years later when it was all said and done. When that first bullet whistled by my head, and when they continued to fly during my tour, I knew I would have to adapt to the new realities of war – or pay the consequences. The Vietnam War did several very important things for me. It changed my entire outlook on life, it defined my priorities and values, and it gave me a sense of commitment and perseverance. I cannot count the number of times I have heard people complain about how bad they have it here in the United States. Vietnam proved to be a virtual textbook on the meaning of “bad.” It was a place filled with unrelenting misery, daily adversity, real fear, and tough choices. Fortunately I created ways to deal with each of those issues. I found that I could function effectively under the most challenging conditions. Sometime early in my tour I believe my focus also changed from personal survival to group survival, adapting the motto of the Three Musketeers, “One for all and all for one.”

Vietnam was a place where you could laugh, cry, pray, curse, face outright fear and panic, feel alone and be mentally isolated, all in the span of a few hours. Your entire emotional spectrum was tested on a daily basis. It was a place where you wanted a close friend and need a buddy. But it was also a place where you were afraid to maintain lasting relationships for fear that they would not survive your time in Vietnam. It was a place where you counted days until your orders arrived sending you back to “the world.” It was a place where time could stand still for extended periods and also a place where events could move at warp speed. Vietnam was a place of beauty during quiet times and a place of death and destruction during engagements with the enemy. It was truly a place filled with conundrums.

I had my meeting with the Grim Reaper early in my tour. About ten days in country I hopped on a chopper that took me to a new fire base literally situated in the middle of nowhere. There was thick jungle completely surrounding the base, there were no roads, it was located in a shallow valley with multiple hilltops surrounding it. The first evening I was there we were attacked with a heavy barrage of mortars. I had spent most of the day filling sandbags for a simple foxhole. As I was sitting down with a plate of food from our makeshift mess, the real “mess” was about to unfold. The first mortar round hit about 40 feet in front of me, severely wounding a soldier who was headed to the perimeter. I dove into my foxhole and grabbed my rifle. It was then I felt the Grim Reaper smiling at me. I had no way to fight back against a mortar attack. I thought maybe this would be my day to die. The mortar attack continued for about 5 minutes until our base camp mortars and artillery pieces began to return fire. We sustained heavy casualties, but the Grim Reader left me standing. During those minutes it seemed my entire life flashed through my mind. I felt fear but my panic was gone. I knew what I needed to do and started about doing those things. Later that evening, I felt a sense of accomplishment because I had beaten the Grim Reaper. I surely was not invincible, but I had erased any doubts about how I would react under fire. I felt I had some control over my destiny. I knew how to respond in difficult situations with logic, purpose, and resolve. Most of all, I recall trying to maintain my sanity in the midst of absolutely insane conditions.

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Vietnam was a place that provided long lasting memories. There was the oppressive heat and the unrelenting rains during monsoon season, the leaches on your legs from wadding through rice paddies and streams, and the raunchy brown drinking water laced with purification tablets. Then there were the C-4 explosives you took out of claymore mines to use as cooking fuel, the C-rations that were so old the chocolate had turned white, the awful smell of kimchi, and of course the rice and mystery meat available at your favorite roadside deli. Your sense of smell could easily pick up pot along any defensive perimeter and the distinctive odors from cordite during artillery fire missions. My most memorable smell has to be the burning dung from the latrines in base camps.

I remember trying to pretend that I was not the prime target of every enemy sniper when holding the radio handset to my ear and standing next to my RTO. I remember “popping smoke” to mark our location at the end of a successful mission. There was the thrill of riding on a “slick” with the doors open, and at the same time trying to ignore the bullet holes you saw in the side of the chopper. There were the endless rumors swirling through the grapevine where information traveled at light speed and much more efficiently than any military network. There were the love letters and the dreaded Dear John letters.

I remember watching “Puff the Magic Dragon” cut loose at night; seeing the endless stream of tracer rounds was better than any fireworks show in the US. And finally, I remember the putrid smell of death, decay, and destruction from combat. It is a smell that is hard to describe to anyone who didn’t serve in Vietnam. It never, ever leaves you.

Finally, there were two very good friends who made a difference to me while serving in the military. The first is Ranger Jerry Miller, my Ranger buddy in Ranger School and surely one of the few Air Force officers to ever earn a Ranger Tab. We spent nine incredible weeks together. We were a good team. Jerry served in Vietnam after completing Ranger School. The second man is Captain Craig Stewart, a JAG officer with the 173rd Airborne Brigade at LZ English. He and I would spend our nights drinking a cold beer and talking about Ohio State football and the world in general. He helped me keep my perspective and sanity while at LZ English. I have lost track of both men but want to thank them for their friendship and their service. I found pictures of both men and included them with this article. Ranger Jerry Miller is the really big guy in the photo.

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The bottom line for my 365 days in the Republic of Vietnam is quite easy to summarize. I am very proud to have served in Vietnam. I think I gave it every ounce of effort I had in my body and every resource I had to offer. The lessons learned in Vietnam and all those experiences can never be duplicated. My time in Vietnam has served me well over the last forty-five years. I could not have asked for more. I think about all those men and women who gave their lives in Vietnam and I truly honor their sacrifices. I wake-up every day knowing I will never encounter any challenges more difficult than Vietnam.

No regrets. No apologies offered. No apologies accepted.

RANGERS LEAD THE WAY!

THE JOB INTERVIEW

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Two men were applying for the same job at the newspaper office to become columnists. One applicant was Caucasian and one was African-American, which really did not make a difference to the Manager of the paper.  After various interviews, several tests, personal appearance,etc. The two applicants remained tied for points……As a tie breaker, HR  decided that he would open the dictionary, blindly point to a word, and let each of them create a short poem from the selected word. He opened the dictionary and his finger landed on the word Timbuktu. The Caucasian immediately said, “I am ready.”

See the stars, See the sand
See the desert caravan.
Camels aligned two by two
Destination: Timbuktu.

Although the HR Director was sure he had a winner, he waited on the second reply. It came shortly.

Tim and me, a’camping we went
Bought three whores and pitched a tent.
They was three and we was two
So I bucked one and Timbuktu.

(Oh well, A newspaper can always use two good columnists.)

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$7.00 SEX

A Texas couple, both well into their 80’s, go to a Sex Therapist’s office.
The doctor asks, ‘What can I do for you?’
The man says, ‘Will you watch us have sexual intercourse?’
The doctor raises both eyebrows, but he is so amazed that such an elderly couple is asking for sexual advice that he agrees.

When the couple finishes, the doctor says, ‘There’s absolutely
nothing wrong with the way you have intercourse..’
He thanks them for coming, he wishes them good luck, he charges them $50 and he says good bye.

The next week, the same couple returns and asks the sex therapist to watch again. The sex therapist is a bit puzzled, but agrees.

This happens several weeks in a row. The couple makes an appointment, has intercourse with no problems, pays the doctor, then leave.

Finally, after 3 months of this routine, the doctor says, ‘I’m sorry, but I have to ask. Just what are you trying to find out?’

The man says, ‘We’re not trying to find out anything.
She’s married; so we can’t go to her house. I’m married; and we can’t go to my house. The Holiday Inn charges $98. The Hilton charges $139. We do it here for $50, and best of all….

Medicare pays $43 of it.

 
 

Just Dusting Off My First Amendment….

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If I could afford Skywriting, I would, but I can’t…so I must keep my opinions more “Down to Earth.” First of all, I am not required to love, respect or support you or agree with your beliefs simply because you are Straight, Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, Queer, White, Black,  Drug Dependent, Mentally Ill, an Illegal Immigrant, or a child of a poor upbringing, etc.

That does not, in any way, diminish your right to safely exist in any of these categories. Not in America. In reference to Gay people,  I have heard the comment “I was born this way” until I am sick of it. BECAUSE….it does not matter how you became Gay. It is A-OK to be GAY. I must admit that, since there is a drug on the market with the side effect of causing  your son to develop breasts, all things become very possible. Lady Gaga wrote a hit record titled, Born This Way. If I were on American Bandstand, I would give it a 95 because “I like the beat and it is easy to dance to.” I know people who “fly high the Gay banner.” I know others who “very likely, kiss but do not tell.”  I do not ask because I do not care. This issue is a problem solved, yesterday’s news, a dead horse, so stop beating it. You can marry whoever you want to marry and buy your wedding cake at any public bakery. I do not HATE Gay people. They do not consume much time in my thought-processing chamber. They are Somewhere Over Their Rainbow where bluebirds fly…. I love that song too!

At Cornell University they have an incredible piece of scientific equipment known as the tunneling electron microscope.  This microscope is so powerful that by firing electrons you can actually see images of the atom, the infinitesimally tiny building blocks of our universe. If I were using that microscope right now, I still wouldn’t be able to locate my interest in this issue any longer.

We have a more important issue now that has reared its’ ugly head in our world. We have babies being born with parents who refuse to identify the child as Male or Female on the birth certificate. Their reason, they do not know what the child may wish to become in the future. OMG! Let’s make it a little simpler for these idiots….Penis? YES/NO…check the appropriate  block. Evidently,  these people wake up and call  a meeting of their Fellow Idiot Society Members to decide “What is the Most Idiotic Stupid Issue that we can discuss today?”

I  remember when I was young  and people would ask, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I Thank my Jesus,  it never once crossed my mind that I needed to confirm the word…..

WOMAN.

 

Sheila Tolley

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