Sunday, August 21, 2016

Men of Honor, in War and Peace...

The one constant I've observed throughout life is the certainty that people will continue to be people wherever they are, for whatever purpose, and their true character will rise to the surface at the most opportune time...Whichever qualities are dominant in a personality will make their presence known foremost in times of stress when every decision can mean the difference between life and death...

An attack, whether expected or not, may call up heroism or cowardice...Leadership and the trained instinct to follow orders may prevail, or panic and uncertainty may take command...

When the war's battles and the din of combat have ended, those who survived are left to explain their actions, or justify their inaction, to themselves if nobody else...Those who can put the horrors of battle behind them can continue a life interrupted by the heat and hatred of battle...Those he can't must suffer with their demons...

Following is a re-edited compilation of which I wrote in earlier years of the stories of a few men whose lives were intertwined by war, and who later met off the battlefield in times of peace to forever change each other's own destinies...

Mitsuo Fuchida, The famed Japanese fighter/bomber pilot who led the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and was seriously wounded in the Battle of Midway, ending his flight career, was instrumental not only in launching the war, but ending it...If not for Fuchida's actions, the war might have been re-ignited after Hirohito issued his orders to cease hostilities...

Several diehard JIN officers were incensed over their perceived loss of honor from Hirohito's announcement, and vowed to continue the fight even against the wishes of their emperor-god...Their decision directly led to aerial attacks on the photo-recon B-32's flying over Tokyo on two consecutive days after Hirohito's public acceptance of the Potsdam accords...Many of them were able to be talked into surrendering the following day, but one of the leaders of the revolt, Commander Yasuna Kozono, who commanded the key Tokyo defensive unit, the 302nd Air Group, was not one of them...

Kozono was in a malaria-induced fever, and had been self-medicating on sake for several days...From his sickbed, he ordered his flyers to attack any Allied overflights in the name of the bushido code...One of these actions resulted in the death of B-32 crewman, Tony Marchione, who took a hit in the chest from a 20mm round while attending the wounds of another gunner, leading to his bleeding out within the hour, thus becoming the last American casualty of WWII...

Fuchida, who was assigned as a staff officer in Tokyo after his recovery from his wounds at the Battle of Midway, had just returned from a personal inspection of the Hiroshima blast site, and knew that the Allies had the means to reduce Japan to a pile of glowing gravel...Curiously all those who accompanied Fuchida died of radiation poisoning afterward, but Fuchida was unaffected...


When he learned Kozono had defied orders, and was continuing the fight, he went unarmed to the heavily defended Atsugi base, and using his rank and status as a decorated Japanese hero, bluffed his way into Kozono's room...With the help of another officer, he disarmed Kozono of his pistol, subdued and wrapped him in a blanket and hustled him off base in an ambulance...

He then assumed command of the base, and ordered all personnel to stand down...He ordered all aircraft to be parked outside with their propellers removed to show the Allies they were harmless...

Meanwhile General MacArthur was debating whether the new attacks were a signal that the Japanese forces would not surrender, or if they were an aberration from renegades defying their emperor...To his credit, he decided not to restart hostilities, thereby saving at least a million American and Japanese lives...


Fuchida became a Christian through the efforts of Jake DeShazer, a bombardier on the Doolittle Raid who was forced to parachute out over enemy territory after running out of fuel, and was a POW for the rest of the war...Most casual history buffs (like me) know that the bombing raid was conducted as retaliation by volunteer crews only four months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, led by Mitsuo Fuchida...

They used land-based bombers (B-25's) launched on a one-way mission from the USS Hornet...The secrecy of the mission was broken when a Japanese trawler saw the task force and radioed its position back to Japan...The fishing boat was immediately sunk but since the mission had been compromised, all sixteen aircraft were forced to launch three hundred miles before intended...

The bombardier of Crew 16, Jake Deshazer, parachuted into captivity with his crew when his plane was forced down over Japan...Prior to the war, Deshazer was an avowed atheist...At one point during his forty months of captivity, Deshazer was given a small Bible for a few weeks (his only reading material during this time)...


The only source of light in his cell in solitary confinement was a small barred window high up the wall which only had light for a few hours a day...For this time he held himself up by the bars and read the Book in its entirety...At this time, he accepted Jesus Christ as his saviour...

Following his release after the war, he returned to Japan as a missionary...Over the next thirty years in Japan, he converted thousands to Christianity, among them former Japanese Commander Mitsuo Fuchida...That story, in Fuchida's own words, is told here...

After his conversion, Fuchida visited America...He learned to love the country he once hated and eventually became a U.S. resident alien, but could never bring himself to give up his citizenship of his native Japan...His Japanese roots were so deep that when he knew death was near, he returned to Japan to die and is buried there...

Jake Deshazer lived to the age of 95, and attended reunions of his compatriots of the famed raid whenever possible...As of this writing, only Col. Richard E. Cole, Col. Doolittle's co-pilot in the lead aircraft, is still alive at the age of 100...

A Texan who survived the Japanese attack at Ford Island on December 7 later became a Baptist preacher after a promise he made to God for allowing him to live that morning...However, Joe Morgan still carried a lot of hatred in his heart for the Japanese until he met Fuchida in person in Hawaii...That story here, and Morgan's obituary here...

It seems there were a lot of brave men who participated on both sides in that war, and their bravery allowed them to admit their mistakes and correct their course after the war...We could all do as well...



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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The home front...

This is where ISIS, Al Queda, the Taliban and all the other cowardly belligerents in a war of terrorism fail; by hiding behind the clothing of their women and under the beds of the elderly and the infirm, the home front becomes the war front...And the ultimate losers are those who allow an invasion of their own homes by craven weaklings too timid to face an opponent in defense of their goals...

In past wars, the home front has come alive when attacked by an enemy who could have as easily chosen a militarily important target...The inaccurate bombing techniques available in WWII necessarily led to civilian casualties during en masse raids, notably those in Berlin which enraged Adolph Hitler who ordered the indiscriminate bombing attacks on London in retaliation...

The effects on the civilian populations which made up the home front on each side turned out to be mostly the opposite of each other...Both opponents were led by charismatic leaders, both wielding considerable influence on the multitudes, although each from a different standpoint...Yet popular support for Hitler's escalation of aggression began to wane almost immediately as German civilians found themselves deprived of luxuries and even the necessities taken for granted...

On the opposite side of the English Channel, Prime Minister Winston Churchill drew newfound support from Britons, and indeed from the free world, as he announced his clear intent to lead his nation, alone if necessary, against the tyranny of the Nazi dictatorship...The British people gritted their teeth with him as they vowed to stand as one in the face of come-what-may from the teutonic hordes...

The difference between the two home fronts was clear as Britain, civilian and military alike, girded itself for battle, while Germans, believing their Fuehrer would lead them to a better day regardless of the suffering of other people, waited for his promised miracles...Churchill told his people the truth, that they could expect only hardship and bloodshed as they fought for the freedom that was already theirs, while Hitler had prepared his masses with tales of the enemy fleeing before his might as they surrendered their lands and sacrificed their unworthy lives...

The British in turn got what they were told to expect and battled on in the knowledge of a just cause, while the Germans slowly came to realize they had been dealt a false hand to play by leaders with an unholy agenda...Advancing in time, the world powers then in dominance, not wishing a nuclear conflagration, allowed straw men in a corner of SouthEast Asia to fight their ideological battle for supremacy...

In this instance, the leadership in the north consistently sent its own people into the teeth of the storm, accepting the material help of its philosophical benefactors...At the same time the southern government half-heartedly committed to the battle while being more concerned with fighting among themselves to see who gets to wear the big hat...

Both leaderships wanted national identity for their common peoples under one flag, and were prepared to accept the compromise demanded by the larger powers in return for arms and technological assistance...As in all civil wars, the home front knew they were battling themselves, and only longed for the unity of their people...

In the end they only proved that in a surrogate war, there are no clear-cut winners, and always more than one loser...When the smoke of battle dissipated, and silence settled over a decimated land, the people had their unity and were no better off than when they started, only richer for the experience which they would forever try to drive from memory...

The home fronts of the superpowers languished under an ever increasing debt load, decreased domestic security and growing doubt on the abilities of their own leaders to make decisions in the national interest...With the passage of time, even the gulfs separating the ideologies faded leaving only the unpaid debts...

But tactics change as do strategies...In the latest example of worldwide discord, home fronts became much less distinct as religious factions all claiming the same antecedent root, yet hopelessly splintered into warring factions, each declare battle to the death against all non-believers in their own narrowly defined doctrines...

To further blur the lines, they recognize no national boundaries, yet take concealment among the noncombatant people found in muslim populations around the world...Through fear and intimidation of the inhabitants of these ethnic districts, they cower in the dark corners until another opportunity for wholesale death and destruction arises...

Their neighbors are surely aware of their identity, and though not necessarily believers of the jihadist precept, they allow its existence among their own home fronts in a war with no clearly defined adversaries or goals other than the obliteration of all non-linear thinkers...The only way it can end without the annihilation of the human species is for all those who value their homes to present a unified front and drive out the invaders like cockroaches into the light...

Only then will the true source of strength be known...

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Defining sports...

"Physical exertion guided by repetitive training and coordination of mind and muscle toward an attainable goal..."

The above would be my definition of "sport" if I were asked...And since I'm not likely to be asked, I would further classify "popular sport" as:

"Organized physical activity requiring coordination of mind and muscle in either an individual or team effort presented for its entertainment and/or commercial value..."

Thus we are brought to the Olympics...Begun as a collection of sports thought to represent skills needed in battle by individual warriors, and beset upon by politicians demanding allegiance and religious factions claiming credit for success to their respective gods, it soon turned into a spectacle recognized by its followers for its entertainment value...

Long championed as the arena for non-paid strictly amateur athletes in pure and equal competition to determine who is best in a field, it quickly became a showy presentation of by the politician who could afford to buy the best professional...A noted early example was Sotades, who dominated as a Cretan runner in the 95th Olympiad of the ancient world, then was bribed to present himself as an Ephesian by the political leaders of Ephesos when he competed at the next games...

In more recent memory, we can point to the 1936 Olympic games in which Adolph Hitler and his racist toadies attempted to fix the outcome so as to promote their Aryan supremacy theories...Facing international boycotts from several nations and individuals, the German team managed to eke out 33 gold medals against a world which did not present its best athletes...

In addition to the well known victories of black US athlete, Jesse Owens, the first Muslim women to ever compete as Olympians refused personal introductions to Hitler, adding to the Reich Chancellor's humiliation...Ironically, the women stated flatly they did not wish to shake hands with the dictator due to his hatred of the Jewish people, a position which might be little understood by modern observers...

In later years, the East European communist bloc, taking its direction from its Soviet masters, began experiments with the goal of constructing stronger, faster athletes possibly with the long-term ambition of using the knowledge gained in creating a more effective military creature...Since the recognition had been made of the obvious strength difference between male and female competitors through separate, gender-segregated classifications by governing sports bodies, communist controlled scientists and coaches were ordered to focus some effort toward infusing male strength into female performers...

Their early efforts were obvious even to the casual observer, since the formerly female monsters they created by way of testosterone and steroid injections took on the more masculine characteristics of their male counterparts, making it very apparent that something other than nature contributed to their enhanced performance...The reverse process attempted to convert male athletes to female while retaining the superior male strength, an experiment which probably would have caused Dr. Frankenstein to turn in his medical license...

The long term confusion brought onto the athlete/victims compelled a number of them to seek gender reassignment surgery with varying degrees of success...A notable example is Andreas Krieger who, following a gold medal win as a female, emerged from the operating room as a male, subsequently married another doped East German competitor, and today can only walk for short periods without pain...

The public audiences, whose approval was always the main target of politicians, power-seekers and financiers looking to broaden their spheres of influence, were also the victims as their champions' victories were cheapened and degraded following disclosures of the true nature of the triumphs of their heroes...The adage, "Cheaters never win, and winners never cheat" might have some value in this discussion...

A step towards restoration of honor to the sporting world might be to pay athletes like the professionals we all know them as anyway...Olympic basketball was only advanced by including NBA players on the list of competitors...

On a personal note, I'll continue to watch the female gymnasts and figure skaters as they typically own the best looking legs on the planet...And that's entertainment!...

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The ultimate penalty...

The debate has always been centered on the choice of life in prison versus death for the most heinous of crimes...I touched on my reasoning in my "Insanity vs. Guilt" series, but feel I left some things unsaid...

I recently found a discussion concerning the death in prison of Susan Atkins, posted elsewhere several years ago, in which I argued my beliefs against those of a person who was firmly entrenched on the side of those who believe life in prison is not only a more feared punishment, but serves for the greater good of humanity...

I edited somewhat for clarity and context since the original arguments to which I responded are not represented here...Comments either pro or con are always welcome...

Those who have taken the lives of fellow human beings for nothing more than monetary gain, covering up other crimes or sometimes just for their own amusement show me that they have no regard for life, not even their own...They can't be trusted in society because they violated a basic trust that all humans share, to live among others without causing harm to each other...With that in mind, I extend the same thought to drug dealers, pedophiles, rapists and traitors...All those crimes are heinous enough to be penalized by death...

Keeping them alive in prison until they die anyway serves no one, not even the prisoner...It's known that criminal gangs exist in prison, run by prisoners for the purpose of gaining wealth and power...Those career criminals can only do that while they are alive...Why let them live to train armies of thugs when death brings a close to any more foul deeds they can accomplish...

"Life without parole" means they die in prison...Execution means they die in prison, they just do it before they can bring more harm to more humans and draw on public resources that are sorely needed elsewhere......

Whose life was enriched and what quality was added to that life by keeping Ms. Atkins alive an extra 40 years?...I wouldn't have objected as much to her incarceration if her own reason for being had been redeemed over the last 40 years...

By the same token, I think it might be easy to find those who would be gladdened knowing how much she suffered by being kept alive for 40 years...Are they the same people who would have leaped for joy if she had been executed?...Maybe, but I think many are happy knowing the public suffered right along with her...

Personal satisfaction can also come from knowing that someone felt high enough above humanity to be able to destroy the lives of others with impunity, and that same person was caught, tried and received the only punishment which guarantees not being able to ever harm another human being...Yes, there are those that attach more revenge/retribution to the punishment than I would like and I object to those motives as strongly as those who oppose the death penalty...

I am as appalled and repelled as they are by the hypocrisy in the lives of those who espouse both the religious and secular views...We can both point to many everyday in the public eye...And, no, I do not take such statements personally unless they have my name attached...

Those on death row have very little contact or influence on the general prison population...It is those serving very long or life sentences that have the ability and opportunity to pass their "skills" on to a new generation of criminal...



That value system is installed by the very ones who criminally take lives, either by murder, making others become dependent on drugs or forcing a lifelong memory of a horrible physical act on another...Accepting that value for the purpose of removing that blight from society is, to me, a sad necessity...

Death is the end result of life without parole; why put it off if the guilt is ironclad?...Why give this person the chance to detrimentally influence other lives while alive?...

I can understand a feeling of relief that a criminal has died and can't be a menace to anyone anymore, but I find no necessity to "leap for joy" at the death...

I look at it as punishment, nothing more...

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Monday, August 8, 2016

Cold Warriors...

Stories of Cold Warriors on duty rarely get the same attention paid to stories of battlefield heroism...A "cold war" can be elevated to a battle for life and country in an instant, and the only way to prepare for that moment is in constant training for the day nobody wants to see dawning...In addition, service members can be thrust from one arena of incalescence to another and back at the drop of a set of orders...

But the hallmark of a cold war is also the warrior's greatest enemy no matter what the thermostat reads, tedium...Inactivity in a warrior's mind can lead to boredom, complacency, lack of attention and doubt, any of which can lead to a potentially deadly mistake...

Armed forces are trained to act and react in response to threat, or perceived threat...The price of error can be costly and disastrous...This is why the largest, and longest serving military branches employ teams which do nothing but plan for contingencies, even planning against less professional aggressors who might trigger hostility through their own lack of planning...

Such foresight and vigilance is why maintaining peace has become so costly in this age of massive and instant annihilation...Only the truly insane would risk dropping the hammer on a thermonuclear conflagration in the hope that he and his followers might be the only ones left standing on a field of desolation...

A cold war means employing standing armies and navies involved in around-the-clock training against enemies of unknown magnitude attacking from uncharted directions...Only a unified people dedicated to maintaining their way of life can absorb the cost of such vigilance in wealth and lives...

Leonard Courtney may have been the first to write, "The price of peace is eternal vigilance," but he was certainly not the first to embrace the idea...Leaders at the international, national, tribal and even familial levels have recognized its essential nature, and urged a bond in the interest of preservation of the unit...

Military analysts, together with their political counterparts, must constantly scan for potential changes in policy, both foreign and domestic, then accurately place them on a scale of potential harm or benefit, while deciding whether to nurture, contain, destroy or merely observe them for further change in the hope that their decision is best for the national interest...Meanwhile, armed forces must be kept in a state of readiness for anything that might develop...

Out generation's own Cold War produced its own heroes, villains and victims as nations vied for position to ensure that other nations knew and understood the price of escalation...Warriors undertook their assigned duties as citizen/soldiers, sometimes coming home to resume an interrupted life knowing they did what was necessary at the time, but forever wondering if they should  have done more...Or less...

No matter their length of service, or theater of operation, they sometimes carry lifelong doubts whether they did enough, or too much...In my view, they should accept that they did what was expected to the best of their abilities, and that they should expect the same of those who pick up the torch after them...

The satisfaction of maintaining peace by keeping the enemy at bay may not quite equal a different kind of gratification that can only come from looking into the eyes of a defeated enemy who knows he awakened the wrong giant...The professional warrior is prepared for either...


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Friday, July 29, 2016

An act of passiveness...

It seems contradictory that doing nothing can be considered an action, yet it is happening today, and every day...Like the familiar anecdotal elephant in the room, of which everyone is aware and no one dares mention, radical Islamic jihadists, in their all-consuming envy of all things superior to their closed-minded beliefs, choose to solve their problems not with construction to lift their misguided followers, but rather destruction to reduce all around them to their own level...

In the scientific world, Islam, like all religions, is a theory, or at best a belief upon which adherents base their day-to-day behavior, and their hope for their individual futures...The conflict occurs when a minority of believers comes to the conclusion that their own future destiny cannot be assured to their liking if even one soul continues to exist with a contrary creed...

Members of that unhappy minority, being by nature cowards unable to face opposition alone, seek out others of like faith, or failing that, start trolling the waters for weaker minds who might be coerced into entering their unholy alliance...Throwing out the chum of seething hatred and fear for those whom they see as owning unearned happiness, they drag their nets in search of pliable souls eager to blindly follow a murderous path to a false destination...

As with most of history's wars, the jihadists in their ambush of civilization, have taken advantage by striking the first blows, and drawing first blood...With motives unclear to traditional thinkers, the self-declared holy warriors have taken the early edge with broad-based surprise attacks on the mostly unsuspecting, unprepared and unarmed masses...

They further compound their leverage in their knowledge that an opposing world, made comfortable in the security of their military might, and grown soft and reluctant to use force against noncombatants, hesitates to strike back with overwhelming force when its cowardly enemy hides behind the women, children and elderly of trembling communities barely out of the bronze age...Using the innate fear found in docile, backward people, islamo-hoodlums commit their atrocities with seeming impunity, secure in their belief that a civilized world will not attack them as long as they hide behind their human shields...

In the words of General Chuck Yeager"By definition, war is immoral; there is no such thing as a clean war. Once armies are engaged, war is total."...In context, Yeager referred to the atrocities often associated with war which often results in as many civilian victims as there are military casualties...

The civilians held hostage by the delusive Mohammedites which have entered their midst are caught in a web, not only of fear for their lives if they should cross the invaders, but fear that opposing the perversion of their own religion might deny them a desired afterlife...And yet it has become clear that the only way to restore peace is to destroy the usurpers of their faith, whether it is done by them, or for them...

Even clearer is the vision of the result of this cleansing as the dissenters among the beset-upon civilians know that battling the deviant practitioners of their faith must result in their total removal to the last man, and may result in incalculable numbers of deaths among the innocents...They also know that having the war fought for them will likely result in a far greater death toll because of the western world's access to weapons capable of reducing entire nations to smoldering craters...

On the other side of the world, others look for a way out of this horrifying scenario, remembering the lessons of less than a century ago when a nation had its chance to rid itself of evildoers, and instead chose compliance and appeasement in the hope the atrocities would simply melt away...Their choice of taking no action resulted in worldwide conflict at the cost of the lives of millions, when the deaths of far fewer could have prevented it...

As the controversy draws to a seemingly inevitable clash, individuals, families and groups find themselves facing the choice of assigning final importance to only one of two allegiances: religion or country...One being intangible and yet encompassing not only life, but afterlife; the other representing all they've ever seen or heard their entire lives, and for which brave people died so that they might carry the torch forward...

At least at this point, it is a choice...At a later point, it may be an irreversible conclusion...The two alternatives seem on the surface to be narrowly connected, but once a collective decision is made, events may place former close allies on opposing ends of a wide moral chasm, similar to the choice faced by Americans in the mid-19th century...

The impending decision centers on whether a broad-based religious belief, already divided into sectarian splinter groups, is capable of cutting out its own cancerous organs, allowing it to co-exist with other dogmas, or if it is willing to allow others to perform the operation who, being unfamiliar with the anatomy, simply remove everything that looks like it could be a problem...In the latter case, the operation may be a success even though the patient dies...

It all seems to come to a choice between who lives, and who doesn't; them or us, with them bringing swords to fight a nuclear war...The choice narrows with each dawning day...


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Friday, July 22, 2016

Wish I still had that one...

Well yes, there are a lot of things I wish I still had, but right now I'm thinking about all the cars and trucks I ever owned...So I thought I might try to list them here...I may not have the exact chronological order correct, but it will be close...

The first two weren't mine, but I did learn to drive in them...A 1954 Buick Special 4-door sedan was my Dad's company car that he bought when the company assigned him a new one...It was rock solid just as you might expect from a mid-fifties GM product...I remember at 264 CID it had one cubic inch less than the popular Chevy V-8 of the time, and it was called a "nailhead" engine because the tiny valves looked more like ten-penny nails...

The old cast iron Dynaflow transmission featured a rear oil pump which you won't find in modern gearboxes...It allowed the clutch packs to stay engaged while the engine was not running if the car was rolling, which meant it could even be push-started...It also meant that if you turned off the ignition while rolling downhill still in Drive in an attempt to save fuel, it could backfire through the two-barrel carburetor causing a young driver to become instantly alert...I won't explain how I gained that knowledge, but in today's technology it might activate the "Check Underwear" light...

Driving suddenly became fun when my uncle tossed me the key to his 1955 VW one day, and said to go take a drive and learn how to shift a four-speed...For a kid with a license that didn't even have dry ink yet, this was the ultimate confidence builder, and he was a master mechanic who could fix anything I could screw up anyway...To my relief, I never wrecked it or broke it, and my love affair with manual transmissions began that day...

To my parent's regret, I spent most of my savings on a white over black 1955 Chevy BelAir two door hardtop with a 235 CID six-cylinder and Powerglide...Naturally, being afflicted with a terminal case of the high school stupids, I tried to turn it into something it could never be, a hot rod...It was eventually sold for scrap...I should have kept it the same way I bought it from the little old lady schoolteacher...

In my senior year in HS I drove a showroom-new 1965 Corvair home, and proceeded to make a liar out of Ralph Nader by not killing myself in it...I made the payments and bought the gas from my after school job as a door-to-door Fuller Brush man...In Regal Red, with the 110 HP engine, four-speed on the floor, 3.55:1 gearing and 6.50X13 tires, it was a pretty good car for a high school kid...I sold it when I enlisted in the USAF, and got my first lesson in depreciation...

When I got to my first permanent base in Germany, I bought a 1952 VW from a GI who was rotating back to the States...After a few months the engine cratered, and with it's other problems, I decided to just junk it...

Next came a 1956 VW (there was only one model in those years, the Beetle), and I kept it a while driving it over the Swiss Alps, down as far as Naples, Italy and on to Monaco to watch the Gran Prix in 1968...There were of course several weekend trips to Holland, Luxembourg and Belgium, as well as all over West Germany...It was black, and I added a pair of red leather Porsche seats which barely cleared the four-speed shifter...It had no fuel gauge, but when it ran out of gas, all I did was move the lever, and the reserve gallon dumped into the nine-gallon tank...The trick was to remember to move the lever back when you filled up, otherwise the reserve wouldn't be there when you needed it...

I sold it but later bought a 1956 Opel just so I wouldn't have to walk to the bars downtown when I went off base...Those last two were bought on the partner plan with pooled money which worked out well since he and I usually went to the same places together...

Returning stateside, I bought a 1966 Chevelle two-door hardtop with 283 and three on the column, and drove it to my final base in New Mexico...I wrecked it before separation, and the Chevy dealer installed an unvented fuel tank reusing my unvented gas cap...This problem didn't show up until I was on my way home in the West Texas sun when the engine quit from fuel starvation...

After a while it would restart only to do it again down the road...A fellow in the next town was smart enough to figure out the problem and fix it by drilling a small hole in the filler cap to relieve the vacuum...It ran fine then except the fuel capacity was reduced by five gallons due to the collapsed tank...

After a couple of years in civilian life I fell in love with a 1969 Plymouth Roadrunner, complete with 383 engine, four-speed and Sure-Grip differential, one of the fastest cars I ever owned...Mag wheels and big tires made it perfect...

Then after marrying the first time, I was reduced to average grocery-getters, a 1964 Plymouth (no model designation, just Plymouth) with slant six and three on the column, then a 1965 Chevelle four-door station wagon with 283 and three-speed on the floor plus overdrive...

Following the inevitable divorce, my Dad found me a cherry 1971 Chevy C-10 longbed...With a 350, TH350 transmission, P/S and P/B, it was not only my first truck, but my first vehicle with factory A/C...With a few personal touches such as chrome wheels, giant tires and a Koenig tool box it was a great truck...

Next came a bone-stock 1958 Chevy DelRay two-door sedan in white over red with original 283 and three on the column...After the addition of mag wheels and white-letter Goodyears, I rebuilt the front end and replaced all springs and shocks...A Holley four barrel, headers and duals completed it...

Somewhere in this period I acquired a 1973 Pontiac LeMans two-door sedan...These were the years of the "corporate GM engines" and this one had a 350 Olds/TH350 trans combo...Naturally wheels, tires, headers and duals were de rigueur...

I decided I needed a truck again in addition to a sporty car so out came my checkbook for a brand new 1985 Chevy C-10 shortbed in black with 305/Auto...Even with wheels/tires and bed cover I was not completely happy, so in a few years, I traded for a 1990 Chevy 454 SS, which I eventually sold to my favorite niece...

At some point in this whirlwind of time and tire smoke, I decided I liked the look of the late seventies two door Impala with the three piece rear glass...I bought a 1977 model with 350/TH200...I added bucket seats from a 1978 Monte Carlo which matched the upholstery and a floor shifter...Then came the Edelbrock manifold, Holley four barrel, headers and duals...And of course the chrome Cragar S/S wheels and white letter Goodyears...I really enjoyed that car...

Then came the romping, stomping beast, the 1978 Buick Regal which someone had replaced the original V-6 with a 455 CID Olds monster...It barely fit under the hood, and I never found headers that would work with it...But it did get dual exhaust and big tires/wheels of course...My SnapOn tool dealer found he couldn't live without it, so a tool/car trade was arranged...

At this time, Chevrolet had reintroduced the Impala Super Sport, so I bought a brand new 1995, and as you guessed replaced the wheels and added a true dual 2 1/2 inch exhaust...

By this time, I had also acquired a 3/4 ton 1973 Chevy pickup with camper top, 350 V-8 and granny gear four speed...It had a 2X12 oak front bumper, dents, faded baby-puke yellow paint and the coldest A/C in Texas...After adding headers, duals, white spoke wheels and 10-ply 9.50X16.5 tires, it became my favorite truck to date...

At this point, the timeline grows a bit fuzzy as I made a serious error in judgement, choosing to marry a woman who could not be satisfied with anything she acquired, including husbands...Her vehicle list during our marriage included a 2000 Impala, 1976 Blazer, 2003 Buick Regal, 2003 Pontiac Montana, 2006 Honda Odyssey and a 2001 GMC Sierra...

At the same time, she managed to talk me into selling my beloved 1973 Chevy C-20, and buying a black 1998 Chevy K-20 crewcab...And then a black 2000 Ford diesel crewcab...

Finally, I realized what was missing, the standard transmission...Then I traded for a new 2003 Dodge D3500 4WD dually quadcab, with Cummins diesel and six-speed transmission...After 13 years and one divorce, I'm still driving it today with no intention of ever replacing it...Naturally, I had to add front and rear Tough Country bumpers, headache rack, running boards, Warn 15K winch, gauges, Smarty programmer, Weatherguard toolbox, Line-X bedliner, chrome exhaust stacks, XM radio and 19.5" Rickson wheels and Michelin tires...Other than that it's stock...

After retirement it fell to me to take my Mom wherever she needed to go, and when she could no longer climb into my truck, I bought a black 2008 Chevy Impala...Of course the mag wheels, bigger tires, tinted glass and XM radio personalized it a bit...

But later I decided I had to have a stick shift instead of the automatic Impala, although I barely drove it anyway...That brings us to the black 2013 Dodge Challenger R/T with 375 HP Hemi, six-speed, traction control and factory XM radio...All I had to do was add the American Racing Torq-Thrust wheels, big tires and tinted glass, and now I have the two vehicles I can drive to my grave...

The most ironic part of this trek through personal history seems to center on the fact that I've always been a proponent of American-made transportation...And now I might be down to my last two vehicles, a truck made in Mexico, and a car made in Canada...

If I managed to forget any vehicles in this list, it's probably because they were really forgettable...But I still wish I had them all...


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