Old Man Jack-ism #8


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After recovering from a flood of memories, Old Man Jack stares at the other girl in his life: the F4U Corsair. Planes of Fame, March 3, 2003. Copyright Koji D. Kanemoto.

“….The son-of-a-bitch had no legs…” said Old Man Jack from his wife’s blue wheelchair.  His arms were making like windmills.  Well, windmills as fast as his 88 year old arms could go.  He had a comical yet strained look on his face, his bushy white eyebrows still prominent.

But you could see the pain behind those eyes…and in his deadened voice.

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Several months have passed since I visited with Old Man Jack at his grave.  With Memorial Day around the corner, May 17th was a beautiful day visit him.  A recent rainstorm had just passed and the blue skies were painted with thin, wispy clouds.

I could see no one had stopped by since my last visit; at least no one that left flowers for his wife Carol and him.  The hole for flowers was covered up and grass had crept up onto his gravestone.

I had brought along something for Jack this time; something I thought he would enjoy.  So after cleaning up his resting place, it was placed atop his gravestone – his beloved F4U Corsair:

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He loved the F4U Corsair. He reflected on seeing the entire patrol return to base at wave top, do a victory roll then peel off with a tear in his eyes.

I’m hoping he was beaming.  He couldn’t possibly be happier, being with the two most beautiful ladies in his life.

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But back to his story.

A few months before he was taken away from his home, we had been sitting in his cluttered garage, talking about this and that; I just can’t recall what.  But something in our talk triggered an ugly war flashback from his tormented and mightily buried subconscious.  By that day in 2011, I could tell when he was enduring one, having sat in his garage with him for ten years.

He began as he did before.  He would suddenly stop then gaze down at his hands for a couple of seconds.  His left ring finger would begin to rhythmically pick under his right thumbnail.  His white, bushy eyebrows now made thin with time would partly obscure his eyes from me when he lowered his head.

While I am unable to recall his exact words, he slowly allowed an ugly event to surface:

Old Man Jack began, “We were ordered to go on a patrol.  We were issued rifles and hoped to God we wouldn’t come across any Japs,” he said in a remorseful way.¹  “Then, we came to these rice paddies… We could see hills around us… but that also meant the Japs could see us.”²

okinawa paddy
Perhaps it was this rice paddy in Okinawa. Archival image.
rice paddy
…Or this rice paddy. US Army photo.

“We just followed the guy in front of us like cattle,” he said.  “We were making it through the rice paddies when a couple of shells came in.  Man, I hit the ground real quick.

Then all of a sudden, all hell broke loose.  Rounds were coming in like crazy all around me.  They had this area zeroed in real good.”

He continued.  “I ain’t ashamed to say it.  I was scared real bad.  Then we all started to scram.  I got up and started to run.  I dumped my rifle and ran like crazy.”   While in that blue wheelchair that belonged to his beloved wife Carol, Old Man Jack made like he was running, much like Popeye in this clip:

He then took his gaze away from his hands.  “Then I saw this guy flying through the air with his arms making like he was still running… but the son-of-a-bitch had no legs!”  He pointed his finger and made an arc like a rainbow, then swung his arms like a windmill.  Apparently, an enemy round had hit his comrade, severing his upper torso from his legs then throwing him into the air.  Although the comrade met a violent end, Old Man Jack was describing how he saw his arms flailing.

He stopped.  His eyes returned to his hands.  I still cannot imagine the torment he was enduring, even after 70 years.

I never will.  I just hope he didn’t take it to his grave with him.

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While Old Man Jack was fortunate to have survived combat unlike my Uncle Suetaro or Sgt. Bill Genaust, it was but a physical survival.

Combat tormented him forever.

Let us remember this Memorial Day our fellow Americans who perished so young for the sake of their families and friends, no matter which conflict… and also firmly support those in uniform as I write.  They, too, are being forgotten by many, even as they fight – and die – for us in godforsaken faraway places.

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My friend’s first husband, Sgt. Robert W. Harsock, US Army, Viet Nam, posthumously bestowed the Medal of Honor. National Medal of Honor Memorial, Riverside National Cemetery. Copyright Koji D. Kanemoto

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NOTES:

1. I would like to remind my readers that Old Man Jack had no hatred to me or my family when he uttered the word “Jap”.  He is digressing to a most vile period in his life in which he could be killed the very next moment.  If you are offended, it is suggested you participate in an all-out war; perhaps you will understand why.

2. At his funeral, the minister read off the islands he fought on.  Based solely on his description of the large rice paddy and hills combined with what the minister said, I firmly believe this was Okinawa 1945.  Oddly, while Old Man Jack mentioned Guadalcanal, Rabaul, Bougainville and Green Island, he never mentioned Okinawa.

The Magic of Churchill’s Speeches


churchill
Sir Winston Churchill and his cigar. From http://www.express.co.uk/news/

While avoiding any political endorsement of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, he did lead England to victory over Hitler’s Germany during World War II.

It was a grave time for England¹.  While I am certainly not a military historian, his famous speeches – with his distinctive speech and delivery – which helped keep the British morale bolstered always intrigued me.  They were always stirring.  Why is that, I thought.

As an example, an excerpt of one of his more famous WWII speeches follows, broadcast to the free world at the end of the Battle of Britain¹.  He pays homage to the brave, young RAF pilots who flew countless of sorties in defense of their homeland against numerically superior Nazi warplanes.  The radio broadcast recording is set to start moments before his famous words of Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few:

But there IS something in his speeches that captivated the common English layman of war-ravaged England…and me.  He captured the populace with his radio broadcasts, from chimney sweeps to the most learned elite.  This in a time when Nazi Germany laid siege to the island nation, eventually bombing London itself (which was part of a key tactical blunder²).

Nevertheless, his tone is generally reserved during his speeches; yet, it is stirring.  It certainly is not animated as that of his psychotic foe, Hitler; it is said Churchill would merely sit behind the microphone on a desk while his faithful cigar burned at his side while broadcasting his speech.  (Hitler is one of the most animated, dynamic speakers I have watched even though he was inhuman.)

An archival image of Sir Winston Churchill broadcasting to the English population, 1942.

Then, a couple of years ago, I had stumbled across an article about his speeches.  I think I was researching in support of one of my son’s school projects when I came across it.  But it finally laid bare his secret to me for his successful speeches: it was the simplicity of his words.

His speeches not only excluded complex words, like perpendicularity or discombobulation for the most part, his ultimate secret was the number of syllables in a word.

It was rare he used any word with more than three syllables.  Yes, three syllables.  Amazing, isn’t it?

With his cigar going, Sir Winston Churchill visits Hitler’s destroyed Chancellery in July 1945. Archival photograph.

In an excerpt from his speech on June 4, 1940 below, you can see his perfect choice of words.  There are only three words with more than three syllables (bold italics).  Simplicity was his preference and key to his success:

“I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone. At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty’s Government-every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation. The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength. Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

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Sir Winston Churchill, with cigar going, visits British troops in France six days after D-Day. Archival photo.

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Anyways, I just thought it was fascinating to finally learn one key to Sir Winston Churchill’s successful and historic speeches.  After he carried England through the war, I am sad he was voted out as Prime Minister in Britain’s first elections after Germany’s surrender.  He passed away in 1965 at the age of 90.

But one thing is for certain.  My Little Cake Boss Diva has instinctively mastered Churchill’s speech skills.

“Papa…  Why do you do it that way?  Do it this way!”

See?  All three syllables or less…  She must be captivating although she is a bit more animated than Churchill was.

Someone help me.

By the way, my text above has twelve words that have more than three syllables.  :-)

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For a collection of Sir Winston Churchill’s speeches, please click here.

NOTES:

1.  It is but my belief that England’s situation in 1939 while dire was not as gloomy as history presents it to be.  Nevertheless, it was a most dangerous time to be a Londoner.

2.  Perhaps in the future, I will write about this “blunder” by Hitler and most of all, Goering.  One unbelievable tactical error was ordering his Me-109’s – arguably a better fighter plane than the British Spitfire – to fly alongside his bombers in a defensive move.

She’s Killing Me #7


dance1
The Little Cake Boss Diva in her ballet class…to which she is always late to. Hell, she’s late to EVERY class.

She’s killing me, I tell ya.

My Little Cake Boss Diva.  Yes, she is.

She is an 石頭.  A rock head.  Perhaps even a boulder-sized rock.

But she didn’t get that from me.

Well, maybe just a wee bit.

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Five months ago, she asked for a new iPhone for Christmas.

“No.  You’re getting a Samsung Galaxy because I don’t understand Apple one bit…and you know, Bu-chan, that you will do something to that phone and I will have to waste a lot of time trying to figure out how to fix it.”

Well…  It was like talking to a…rock.

And yes, she got a new iPhone 5s.

I am weak.

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For several weeks, I had told her to back up her photos to flickr to get ready for her new phone.  Flickr’s free.  Besides, she is always complaining that her storage is maxed out.

…that I am going to trade in her old phone so all her selfies and pictures of her BFFs will be gone.  Poof.

So does she?  No…

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Both she and my son had concurrent science projects due for school at the same time.  Criminy.  I told forced threatened my son to do his 8th grade experiment EARLY because both their experiments – and resulting terror – fall on my shoulders.  Their mother refuses to take interest in their education.  Really.

Well, Brooke’s first experiment failed.  She wanted to see if there was an organic ant deterrent.  Trouble was, it was too cold for the ants to venture out en masse.  The ants didn’t come for the food, even when it was FREEEEEE (like the commercial).

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One attempt to get ants to munch on free food. No go.
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Another attempt to get ants to get free food. No go again.

So three weeks ago, and with her teacher’s blessing, we switched gears to see if there was any way to slow down mold from developing on her favorite berry – raspberries.

So for her experiment, I suggested pictures be taken from the beginning… so she did with her blessed iPhone.

I did, too.

“Papa!  See how you are?  You tell me to take pictures so I did.  … So don’t, okkaaay-ah?!”

“But Bu-chan, just in case… You know…”

“Nooooo-ah!  Why should I take them then?!” she mightily says in her valley girl talk.

I do as I’m told by my Little Cake Boss Diva, you know.

ants3
Day One of her raspberry experiment.

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So she wraps up her experiment then starts to write up her results when she was with me a couple of weeks ago.  Then as she left for her mom’s for the week that Monday, I tell her to share her report with me via Google Drive so I can help her edit it during the week.  After all, the project is due the Thursday the week she comes back to me.

She reluctantly annoyingly says, “Okaaayyy-ah!”

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Next evening (Tuesday – she’s back with her mom, now.), I text her while she’s at her dance class, asking her about the report’s progress.  She was to email me a link to her document on Google Drive.

No reply.

So I thought, well, she’s busy chit-chatting girlie stuff with her friends.

Wednesday…  I text her to see if I can take her to dinner on Thursday since she has two hours between dance classes.  Same thing.  No answer.  Now my totally flat Asian nose is getting bent out of shape.

I get smart on Thursday.  I email her, too, on top of texting.  I even sent her some new flower pictures I took.  No answer!  Old Faithful is but a tea kettle compared to the steam coming out my ears.

Old Faithful. http://wyofile.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/old-faithful-yathin.jpg

I actually called her… She must have been shocked her iPhone not only texts but actually functions as a phone.  “Gee, is that my ringtone?” she must have thought.

But… NO ANSWER!  Old Faithful has become an volcanic eruption.

In a futile attempt, I email her mother telling her to have Brooke answer my texts.  The ex RARELY responds to any email or text although required by the divorce agreement.  Sure enough – no response.  Now I wish I had the twin .50 Browning machine guns Mustang_USMC has stashed away and hordes of ISIS jerks in front of me so I could take out my aggressions.

http://th02.deviantart.net/images3/PRE/i/2005/150/9/c/Death_Star_Patrol_by_NAngel1298.jpg

Then… I find out my aunt pretty much admitted herself to a hospital far, far away.  It’s so far away that the Empire’s Death Star is at the halfway point.  Long story but she didn’t need the surgery; her quack doctor put it in her head that she needed it.

So my phone rings at 7:30 am on Saturday.  My aunt is calling from her hospital room and wants me to take her a dumb charger for her cell phone!  Crap.

Needless to say, it took my attention away from the Little Cake Boss Diva’s audacious behavior… and the science report.

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Monday comes.  The ex (who never answered my email, of course) is late dropping them off again but unbelievably, the Little Cake Boss Diva just smiles, gives me a hug then prances right into her room as if nothing’s wrong.  The nerve!  Old Faithful redux.

“Brooke!!  Why didn’t you answer my texts??!!!”

“Oh,” she begins with a not-my-fault smile, “the girls at dance on Tuesday figured out my password so I changed it.”

“What??!!  Why did they have your phone and what does changing a password have to do with your science project???  But why didn’t you answer my texts??!!  That’s the question!”

“Geez, you don’t have to get so mad!  So I changed the password…but couldn’t remember it…  So after I tried a number of times, it locked me out.  It’s a brick.  That’s all!”

“What?????!!!!!!!!!  That’s it??!!  Why didn’t you email me from your Galaxy Tab that I bought YOU when YOU broke your iPad and tell me???”  Accent on the caps.

“Oh…  Yeah…  I guess I should have…but I don’t know how to check my iPhone email on it because its an ANDROOOIDDD…  but can you fix my phone before I go to dance?  Please?”

OMFG.  I’m still cooking my Spaghetti al Limone.

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Some of the ingredients for my Spaghetti al Limone.

The tortoise could have made it to New York in the time it took me to figure out how to unlock it…but it had to be “set up as a new phone.”

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I pick her up at 7:30 pm after another one of her EIGHT dance classes.  Of course, she’s the last one to leave.  We get into the car.

I’m refocused now since she came back four hours ago…  “Brooke, how much more do you have on your science report?” I ask.

She’s texting like there’s no tomorrow on account she been deprived for a week.  “Well, I still have to write up my procedures, results and conclusion.  Yeah, I guess I should finish it tonight because its due tomorrow…………”

http://www.driever.nl/foto/achtergronden/JLM-NatGeo-Mount-St-Helens-1980-May-18.jpg

Mt. St. Helens has now exploded again; the top of my head is now missing.  “Tomorrow??  I thought it was Thursday???!!!!”

“Noooo-ah!  Why did you think that?”

*hit.

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After dinner then arguing for about an hour, she finishes the report but its in bits and pieces.  She had each section set up as a new document even though I sent her a template.  Criminy.

“Brooke, you need to insert your pictures of the experiment,” I said calmly.

“Umm…  Papa…  Remember YOU wiped out my phone when YOU restored it…”  Snicker.

“Didn’t you upload them to flickr like I said?”

“Noooo-ah,” she very matter-of-factly says.

OMFG…

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Luckily, I still had that ONE picture I took on Day One.  “See Brooke.  Even though you told me not to take any pictures, aren’t you glad I did?  Huh?  What do you say to that?!”

Silence.  That’s what she said to that.

She hates being wrong.

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It’s now 12:40 am…  She’s still trying to arrange her poster board display summarizing her project:

science board 1
12:40 am…

This whole thing is due in seven hours!

science board 2
Arrggghhh.

She finishes at 1:45 am…

science board
I took this at 7:30 am… and I stopped arguing with her about the contents because she is a rock head.  She didn’t get that from me, OK? :-)

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Stay tuned…  Her Language Arts project is also due this Friday.  She is with her mom.  I sense a strong likelihood she will need to see me on Thursday to finish it.

Yes.  She will text me if she does… but I will reply because I have an Android phone. :-)

Short Stories about World War II. One war. Two Countries. One Family

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