The title of this post was taken from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote in Paris, on Nov. 13. 1787. He sent that letter to William Smith. Those words do not appear in the Declaration of Independence. Those words do not appear in the U.S. Constitution.
In fact, Jefferson “wanted the new Constitution to be accompanied by a written ‘bill of rights’ to guarantee personal liberties, such as freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom from standing armies, trial by jury, and habeas corpus.” — THE FIRST AMENDMENT ENCYCLOPEDIA
When Jefferson was sworn in to become the third president of the United States (1801—1809), he took the same oath that is enshrined in the US. Constitution. Every president has taken that oath, an oath that defines what the Founding Fathers thought a patriot should be
There are many in the United States today that think they are patriots, but, because of that Constitutional Oath, some so-called patriots are wrong. They are not patriots. They are anarchists, loyalists (to Trump or another authoritarian), and traitors.
Patriotism is not defined as blind loyalty to an individual, the flag, a religion, or a militia. For instance: The Oath Keepers or The Three Percenters, et al. To these violent militias, nothing matters but defending what they blindly think is their country against anyone they see as a threat, and that means anyone that doesn’t think like them. If we disagree with what they think, they often reply with something like, “Go home. Go back to Russia, or Africa, or China…. Get out of my country.”
Imagine what it must be like to be blindly loyal to someone like Donald Trump and/or the U.S. flag with little or no knowledge of the U.S. Constitution. For those ignorant, misguided Americans, the concept of patriotism tied to the U.S. Constitution would seem alien because not every American takes the Constitutional Oath of Office, and many Americans don’t know what the U.S. Constitution says beyond the 1st and 2nd Amendments, and many also get the meaning of those two amendments wrong.
Freedom of speech doesn’t mean you’re free to say whatever you want. For some liars, we have libel and slander laws. And writing for the Supreme Court in the 1919 case of Schenck v. United States, Justice Holmes argued, “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.”
Just one year after Schenck, United States Attorney General Mitchell Palmer, in congressional testimony, claimed, “A man may say what he will, as has often been said; but if he cries ‘fire’ in a crowded theater, with the intent to injure the people there assembled, certainly his right of free speech does not protect him against the punishment that is his just desert [sic].”
So, deliberately making a false statement that might harm someone, may not fall under the protections offered by the 1st Amendment. Still, the individual making such a false statement is innocent until proven guilty.
“The founders (including Jefferson) required an oath for federal and state officials—absent a religious test—in the Constitution, but the specifics—such as the wording of the oath—were left to the First Congress (1789–1791). In its first act, Congress specified the wording: “I, ______, do solemnly swear or affirm (as the case may be) that I will support the Constitution of the United States.” This oath was used for all federal officials except the President, whose oath was prescribed specifically in the Constitution (Article II, section 1, clause 8).”
Today, who is required to take the oath to defend the U.S. Constitution against both foreign and domestic enemies?
1. Every President of the United States
2. Every member of Congress
3. Every member of the state legislatures and all executive and judicial officers, the United States and the states. (Again, think of all the Republicans in charge of state elections that defied President Donald Trump’s attempts to find votes that would make him the winner.)
4. Every judge (Think of the dozens of judges that ruled against Donald Trump’s challenges to the 2020 election, even judges appointed by Trump.)
5. FBI agents and other federal law enforcement officers
6. Federal employees, including postal workers
7. Both officers and enlisted servicemembers swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, but in the Oath of Enlistment, service members swear they will “obey the orders of the president of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over [them], according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.” However, officers do not include the president in their Oath of Office.
That may not be the complete list.
Most Americans who take that oath also live by that oath, and it doesn’t matter if they are Democrats, Republicans, or independent voters. To millions of Americans, regardless of their political and religious beliefs, their loyalty is to the U.S. Constitution, not to an individual, religion, or private militia. Still, some that have taken the oath never intended to defend the U.S. Constitution. Case in point: On January 6, 2021, President Donald Trump told his supporters at a rally near the capital to “fight like hell.” He also told them to march on the capital, and they did. Then they attempted to pull off a violent coup and install Trump as president for life.
I have no doubts that most if not all of that violent mob that attacked the US capital on January 6, 2021, thanks to Donald Trump urging them to “fight like hell” saw themselves as patriots following the flags they carried. But which flag: that mob carried US flags, Confederate flags, and flags with only TRUMP’s name on them?
The real patriots on January 6, were the capital police, risking their lives to save and preserve the U.S. Constitution they took an oath to defend, not Trump’s mob of loyalists, anarchists, and alleged fascists.
If combat or abuse of any kind, mental or physical, has traumatized you, I’m suggesting you read this memoir, even if it is the only one you real in your life. If you hate to read, then listen to the audiobook. Geeze, no excuses! You may also want to read this memoir if you know someone with PTSD. Then, you may understand what life is like for them.
At first, I was going to title this review Traumatized in Nairobi. After I was halfway through Meyli Chapin’s memoir Terrorist Attack Girl, I have done little but think of what I’d write in this review. I woke up thinking about it. I thought about her story while exercising. And I think about it before I sleep and when I’m sleeping. The only time I didn’t think about it was when I was reading.
While reading her memoir, I virtually joined Meyli in her hotel room in Nairobi. Apparently, I wasn’t there, but my mind didn’t know that.
Her terror and fear became my terror and fear. When she talked about not wanting her little brother to know what was happening to her, that terrorists might murder her, I cried and laughed. When the two guys that probably were Navy Seals knocked on her door 17 hours into the attack on that hotel, I laughed again.
Meyli divided her story between brief scenes in the hotel room (regular print) and scenes taking place after the attack (ATA): in the US Consulate in Kenya and back in the states (italicized print). I think this was a stroke of genius, sharing the trauma of that terrorist attack and what happened to her later when she thought the nightmare was over, often on the same page. And every ATA scene mirrors what I’ve experienced with fucking PTSD in the last 55 years, helping me make sense of what happened to me back then.
To survive ATA, Meyli is learning, as I did, how to manage her PTSD so it doesn’t eat her, and I suspect she may learn to live one day at a time, too, if she hasn’t already.
Meyli, back in the 1970s after I graduated college with a BA in journalism, I was still drinking heavily. One afternoon, I sat on the floor in my living room with the barrel of a loaded sniper rifle in my mouth, ready to pull the trigger to end it all. I did not know what fucking PTSD was and what was happening to me. It was a desperate attempt to get rid of that never ending nightmare.
I snipped off the safety getting ready to fire and looked out the screen door one last time to see a teenager wearing headsets dancing as he moved down the sidewalk. That image stopped me from squeezing the trigger.
I thought, Dear God, if I do this, I might miss that kind of happy moment. So, instead, I learned to live one day at a time and bless each day as I turned off the lights, only to thank God when I woke up to a new dawn to live another one. Thanks to that dancing teen on that sidewalk, I have experienced many great days with laughter in them. The drinking didn’t help. In fact, the booze made the fucking PTSD worse, so I stopped in 1982, and became a vegan. Also, I now belong to two PTSD support groups that Meetup each week, through the VA.
As a former US Marine and combat veteran living with fucking PTSD since 1966, I could easily have written a book about Chapin’s memoir, but I did not want to turn this review into a story about me. The fucking PTSD still lurks waiting to pounce if triggered, along with the loaded pump shotgun I keep by my bed. Without that weapon, I touch each night before I turn out the lights. I couldn’t sleep. As it is, I think this review may be too long.
Meyli’s memoir taught me that the fucking PTSD I’ve lived with for so long isn’t my fault. That revelation lifted a heavy burden weighted by guilt off my mind. Somehow, I feel lighter, almost floating through each day.
But I’m still living one day at a time. Thank you for sharing that slice of your life with the world, Meyli.
NOTE: Amazon rejected this review the first time I submitted it, because I used the word fucking one time as an adjective describing what that acronym means to me. Once I removed that word, Amazon accepted the review without any other changes.
As you may have noticed here on my Blog, I added more fucking PTSDs to make up for that example of legal corporate censorship by an app programed to reject the use of certain words.
Never for Glory is the unfinished sequel of The Patriot Oath. With 25 completed chapters, there are about 10 to 15 left to finish the first draft. The first five chapters have already been presented to two of the four critique groups I belong to. One of the two groups has heard all of The Patriot Oath. The second group hasn’t, and I am getting conflicting constructive criticism from the two groups. One group is suggesting a lot of changes, and the other group familiar with the first novel in the series likes what they’re hearing with little need for massive revisions.
With this post, I’m inviting readers that have read The Patriot Oath to have a look at Never for Glory’s first chapter and, if wiling, to leave comments letting me know what works, what doesn’t. Thank you. If this early preview works, I have another four chapters I’m willing to add to this post later.
After their first HALO jump together in 2002, Josh and Cheéte vanished into the Hindu Kush Mountains, a rugged area covering 160,000 square miles. Their orders had been to search for targets of opportunity, and for weeks they worked alone with little or no support.
Now, in 2019, seventeen years later, they were doing it again. Still, this time their C-130 belonged to The Oath Group, and it was 30,000 feet over Venezuela.
Getting ready for the repeat was like déjà vu all over again. Back then, they were Marine Corps scout snipers serving in Operation Anaconda against al-Qaeda, Taliban insurgents, and members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. That had been their last mission together. Cheéte retired a few months later in 2003.
“I can’t believe my ghillie suit still fits,” Josh said. “It feels the same, hot and heavy. Too bad DARPA wouldn’t let me use that invisible, bulletproof combat suit for this mission. It was perfect last summer for our sortie in Montana.”
Cheéte grunted as he finished squeezing into his old camouflaged ghillie suit. Once he had it on, he looked like an unkempt yeti that needed to lose some weight. “Well, some of us don’t always get what we want. You’ve been out for less than a year so I’m not surprised your suit fits, but I think mine is going to eat me like it’s a starving anaconda.”
They were talking to each other through their helmet’s military-grade communication units.
Josh grinned as he fastened a g-suit around his abdomen and legs, covering most of the camouflaged outfit he wore underneath. Then he manually inflated the g-suit’s five air bladders. The pressure around the muscles would prevent blood from pooling in the feet and legs and push blood pressure up to the heart and brain. The last thing he did was to attach the oxygen mask and tactical goggles.
With a frustrating sigh, huffing, and puffing, Cheéte managed to do the same thing. Once they were on the ground, they’d ditch the gear required for the HALO jump. Their ghillie suits were designed to conceal them from prying eyes.
Like most Marine Corps snipers, they’d made their own unique disguises by hand and, when not in use, stored them in sealed, plastic boxes lined in cotton and kept dry with silica gel packets.
“I’m worried my Christian Crow wife knows about my two other common law wives,” Cheéte said, interrupting Josh’s thoughts.
Josh did a double-take and stared at his old friend. “Whoa! Where the hell did that come from?”
“Well, in case I don’t make it home, I wanted you to know what’s going on in my life. My Christian wife said the only reason for sex is to create children for God. When I said no more kids, she cut me off. There’s no way I’m going without. I refuse to let my demons have an excuse to mess up my nights. What about you?”
“I have nothing to confess to anyone,” Josh replied.
“Ah, … what about Rachel and Mia?”
A green light came on, signaling that it was time to jump. At the same time, the C-130’s ramp started to yawn open, depressurizing the cabin.
Josh stood, ready to go.
“Well?” Cheéte asked.
“I haven’t had sex with anyone since Rachel was shot in San Francisco and is still in the hospital. So, I’m not that desperate.” Finished, he walked off the aft ramp and dropped from sight, falling 30,000 feet toward the ground.
“Sheesh,” Cheéte hissed. “That’s not what I wanted to hear.” Then he was dropping with his belly pointed toward the ground, his chin lifted up, and his arms and legs spread out for stability.
As Josh fell hard and fast, he thought about Rachel and Mia. He’d lied to Cheéte. He was desperate, explaining why he was losing a lot of sleep. But he disagreed with the crap that sexual frustration was normal. So, shrug and take it in stride.
Bull shit! he thought. He couldn’t remember ever being celibate this long before.
The temptation to keep both of his lovers, as Mia had suggested, was almost overwhelming. But, when he thought about going through with it, he heard Dr. Tate’s voice telling him that would be wrong. Then there was the Christian guilt his mother instilled in him as a child with the Seventh Commandment, “Thou shall not commit adultery.”
He still didn’t understand why his mother started preaching that to him when he was seven. It couldn’t have been because of his crush on Rachel in 2nd grade. He never told anyone about that. There was no way his mother could have known.
To escape the jumble of depressing thoughts stirring up trouble inside his head, he gave himself over to the plunge. Jumping from 30,000 feet felt more like flying than falling. It was windy, loud, and intense. Josh’s senses became wildly alive. That’s why he had an obsession for HALO jumps. The thrill lasted about three times longer than a basic skydiver’s altitude.
With a stable belly-to-earth position, the fastest speed he’d reach was 120 mph. If he wanted to fly faster, he’d shift position so his head was facing the ground and his feet were pointed up. Then he’d drop at 180 mph. Josh had always wondered what it would be like to die like that. Every time he jumped, he’d been tempted to find out.
Checking out of life like that also offered him an easy way to avoid deciding between Rachel and Mia. Because this was a high altitude low open insertion, the main chute was programmed to open automatically at 1,900 feet. If that failed, the reserve chute deployed at 1,000.
The best way to bail out of life would be to use one of his keen-edged combat knives and cut the straps that held the two ‛chutes to his body. He had about a minute left to make that decision.
Was there a better way to die if you were doing something you loved? He started laughing and thought he sounded possessed.
Still, there was Damian Bran, the man they were hunting. He was the one responsible for Rachel living in a hospital, trapped in a coma. Wasn’t that a good enough reason to hang on?
Bran had been a heartless CIA agent for thirty years who left the agency in 2009. He was also known as the Strawman because of his tall, thin stature. Soon after he retired, he’d joined a white supremacist neo-Nazi militia in Montana and ended up working for a ruthless libertarian billionaire, a match made by Mephistopheles.
Josh had been hunting Bran since Rachel had been shot. His efforts to find the former CIA agent had started by putting the man’s wife under surveillance. There had been no calls or texts in or out. Instead, she hadn’t budged from their home in a remote area of Minnesota and didn’t seem to care if she ever saw her husband again.
After The Oath Group’s successful raid in Northwest Montana on that neo-Nazi training camp, Charles Tweet, the billionaire that financed the militia, revealed it was Bran who introduced him to the profitable sex trade. It turned out that the former field agent had started trafficking children years before he left the agency.
Most of the young sex slaves Bran sold to Tweet had ended up working in massage parlors spread across the United States. But some of the most beautiful had suffered a worse fate. If one of them was unfortunate enough to catch the billionaire’s eye, they were doomed.
His last intended victim had been a seventy-six-pound thirteen-year-old Ukrainian girl. The billionaire had slipped a plastic bag over the child’s head while he was raping her. When Cheéte had burst into the underground room where it was taking place, the girl was being suffocated by Tweet, using a method known as erotic asphyxiation.
Later, during his interrogation, Tweet revealed that Damen Bran had introduced him to that risky erotic method. When the billionaire accidentally murdered his first victim, Bran had shrugged it off and said, “Females were created for two purposes. To give men pleasure, and if they survive, to make babies. Besides, when you’re kidnapping children and selling them for a profit, expect to lose a few. Think of it as collateral damage, a business expense.”
Tweet accepted that justification as gospel and had gone on to murder more than a dozen young girls over the years that followed. Now, the billionaire was in court, fighting to avoid spending the rest of his life in prison. The judge had not approved bail, but his lawyers were claiming the evidence was inadmissible.
The information that pinpointed Bran’s location in Venezuela had come from Mia Belle-Chanson, one of Josh’s best friends and a former lover. To her fans, she was a singer-songwriter and a documentary producer. What her followers didn’t know was what she did away from a studio or stage. Because she’d been kidnapped in Haiti at the age of fourteen to become a sex slave, she now operated a secret network that rescued abducted children all over the world. Josh had met Mia when he and Cheéte had rescued her and several other girls soon after they’d been snatched.
Venezuela was the perfect country for a brute like Bran. After Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Madura’s rise to power in 2013, sex trafficking and child sex tourism had become common, and it was getting worse.
The intel from Mia’s rescue organization reported that Bran was living on an isolated cattle ranch located in Venezuela’s savanna southwest of the Rio Apure River.
Having second thoughts about dying, Josh checked his altimeter to determine how much time he had left to decide one way or the other.
Mental Health America says, “Writing down your thoughts can be a great way to work through issues. Researchers have found that writing about painful events can reduce stress and improve health.”
That is why I belong to two groups of combat vets that meet each week for an hour and a half. We share our writing as a form of therapy to deal with the PTSD that followed us home from Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia. The Marines, Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Special Forces, and the Airforce are all represented at these two tables located in two different locations on different days. One is located at a VA facility and the other group meets at a Vet Center.
“Vet Centers are community-based counseling centers that provide a wide range of social and psychological services, including professional readjustment counseling to eligible Veterans, active duty service members, including National Guard and Reserve components, and their families.”
When we meet, there is no pressure to write and share. It is okay to just listen. We can write just about anything we want in any form and each week at the end of each session, there is a prompt to help any of us that are blocked. What we share through our writing often results in healing conversations. Poetry, non-fiction, and fiction are all acceptable. Through fiction, we can deal with our personal issues through our characters.
One of those prompts gave birth to “The Patriot Oath.” At the time, I didn’t know the prompt “heads or tails” would end up becoming a novel. It wasn’t until the second prompt, “If I could go back and do it all over again (must be a military theme),” that I decided to challenge myself and keep the same characters and story going from prompt-to-prompt.
The title for this novel wasn’t born until much later. Even the characters names went through changes. I never planned to write this book. It came about organically one week and prompt, at a time, but somewhere along the way, the story stopped being driven by the weekly prompts and the characters took over and made the prompts fit their story.
Thirty-five weeks after the first prompt, I had a novel that I named “The Patriot Oath”, and here is the first chapter that was written for the prompt “heads or tails”.
The Patriot Oath
Chapter One (written from the prompt “head or tails”)
Josh Keagan was on his way home for the first time in twenty-three years, because his younger sister had been raped.
When Josh joined the United States Marines at eighteen after graduating from high school, he didn’t plan on returning home to Montana. Growing up on a ranch had been a hard life, and he’d resented it. It didn’t take long to discover the Marine Corps was tougher, but he excelled at it. When he retired a few weeks earlier, he’d just been promoted to O-5. His first year out, he was going to earn more than $5,000 a month, and every year he’d get a pay raise of about two percent. And then there was the contracting business he’d started with his mentor and old friend LG. That venture was bringing in good money, too.
Josh was the oldest of four siblings, and the youngest, Susan was his only sister. She’d been three when he’d left for the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California. Knowing his father’s stubbornness and temper, Josh suspected his name had been banished from the dinner table and he would not be surprised if Susan didn’t know she had an older brother.
Without a car, he’d spent hours sprawled on the back seat of a Greyhound Bus from Denver, Colorado to Billings, Montana where he’d hitched a ride with an eighteen-wheeler that dropped him at Great Falls. With his duffle bag slung over his shoulder, he’d hitch-hiked along route 87 and caught rides that carried him to Stanford where his brother Samuel, five years younger than him, was supposed to be waiting.
When he climbed down from the eighteen wheeler’s cab, he spotted a familiar 1942 blue Chevy pickup parked on the far side of the gravel lot. It was the same one his grandfather had cherished, and Josh was willing to bet it still ran like a Swiss watch.
“How is she, Sammy?” Josh asked his smiling brother, who was leaning on the pickup’s hood watching him approach. As kids, Samuel had always preferred to be called Sam or Sammy.
Sammy was all smiles as he tapped the hood with the tip of an index finger. “This old dependable sexy Chevy keeps on running. I’ve been rebuilding it, and it’s better than the Energizer Bunny. Grandpa would be proud.”
“Good to know, but I’m not talking about the fucking truck,” Josh said. He tossed his hundred-pound duffel bag in the open bed of the truck and slid onto the cab’s worn passenger seat. “I’m hungry. Let’s have lunch first. We’ll talk after we eat.”
They ate in silence at a local spot. After lunch, when Sammy climbed in behind the steering wheel, his expression had sobered. He said, “We never leave her alone. Today, my wife is with her. Wednesday, Cousin Betty will come from Eddies Corner and stay for a few days.”
“You know who did it, right?” Josh asked.
“Yea, it was an asshole whose dad is a billionaire. It’s the same old shit. His dad brought in a hot-shot lawyer that made her look like a whore.”
“How are the small farmers doing locally?”
“Not so good. We’ve been lucky because of what Mom earns from her books and because the ranch is nestled in a small valley surrounded by hills, but too many of the local farmers have lost everything because they were talked into planting and growing Frankenstein Food and when the monster seed blew onto the land of farmers that refused to grow that shit and sprouted, the corporation took them to court and screwed them bankrupt with court costs. Then to keep their farms, they agreed to become paid corporate slaves. Once a farmer signs, it’s impossible to get out of it, and most of the consumers don’t want to eat that poison.”
“Tell me something I don’t know,” Josh said.
Sammy glanced at his brother’s craggy features. “You look older than forty-one,” he said. “You never wrote about what you did in the military. What happened to you in there?”
“Nothing I did is worth talking about and most of it’s classified,” Josh replied.
“What do you mean, it ain’t worth talking about? Everyone knows about your Purple Hearts, the Navy Cross, the three Silver Stars, and the Bronze Star. What we don’t know is what you did to earn it all?”
“Like I said, most of it is classified.” Josh was chewing on a wooden toothpick he’d picked up at Dauna’s Deli in Stanford where he’d had his favorite French Dip Sandwich for lunch. Every bite had come with a flood of memories from his youth. He’d been so bitter when he’d left home, he’d forgotten that there had been good times, too.
“Can you at least tell me what you did in the Marines?”
“Once I graduated from boot camp, I became a Scout Sniper. A few years later I left the Marines to become a Navy Seal.” He stopped talking and a moment of silence slipped by.
“That’s all I’m willing to talk about. That life is behind me now. What happened to Susan is more important then what I did for the last twenty-three years.”
Sammy’s eyes widened. “Jesus,” he said. “You don’t like talking about what you did in the military, do you?”
Josh grunted. “I got better things to do then jaw about old news.”
“You were a blabbermouth when we were kids. What changed?”
Josh switched the toothpick to the other side of his mouth and said, “You’re kidding, right?”
It was quiet for the next few miles before Sammy asked, “What are you planning to do now that you’re back?” He was keeping his eyes on the road and worry lines had appeared around his eyes. “Dad and mom don’t want any trouble with Charles Tweet and his youngest son Darwin. We talked it over and it has been decided that we want to put this behind us and forget about what happened to Suki.”
“Suki?” Josh asked.
“That’s the name she prefers. Don’t call her Susan.”
“I’m not going to forget about what happened to Suki.” Josh dragged out her name longer than necessary. “You do not have a need to know the details of this operation, baby brother.”
“Operation?” Sammy said with a shaky voice. “You can’t leave me out of this. They crippled Mel and gang-raped Suki. After the way that fancy, fast-talking corporate-bought lawyer trashed her in court, she’s almost a basket case.”
Mel was the youngest brother who had been ten when Josh left. “So you do not agree with mom and dad that we should put what happened to Suki behind us and pretend it never happened?” he asked.
“If you are going to get revenge, I want in on it.”
“You don’t have the training or experience for what’s coming,” Josh said.
“Fuck that!” Sammy slammed on the brakes and brought the Chevy to a screeching halt by the side of the narrow, worn, two-lane road. He face was blooming with anger.
Josh sighed. “We are not going to argue.”
“You can’t do this alone.”
“I’m not alone.” His voice was crisp. “My Semper Fi brothers are already in the hills above the ranch waiting for me. We’ve done this type of shit dozens of times in too many countries to count. When we’re done, this billionaire and his family will leave Montana and never return. I plan on teaching them a lesson they will never forget, and you don’t want that crap in your head when you try to sleep at night.”
“How is this going to help Mel or Suki? You are underestimating Charles Tweet. He is a fucking brutal monster that thrives on getting even with anyone that crosses him. What if you make things worse for her?”
“I’ve got a counselor friend from a vet center in California that has agreed to use some of her vacation time to come to Montana and work with Suki and Mel and help them rebuild their lives. Dr. Tate is an expert in dealing with this kind of trauma.” Josh took the toothpick out of his mouth and faced his brother. “As for Charles Tweet and his evil heart, he has no idea what’s coming. As for his son the rapist, I have something special planned for him.”
“What do you mean by something special?” Sammy asked.
“No more details,” Josh said as his eyes bored into his brother’s face. “I’ve already told you too much. It’s been a long trip and I want to see the ranch before the sun goes down. I’m back to stay. Our family and neighbors need me more than the US of A does, and I’m not in this alone. Some of my Semper Fi friends grew up on small farms, too. In fact, I convinced a few of the retired ones to buy some of the local farms that went bankrupt because of the Frankenstein Food thing.”
Josh smiled for the first time as he shifted his gaze back to the view in front of the windshield. “Tell me, baby brother, is it true that my high school sweetheart hasn’t changed and she divorced that asshole she married?”
“The night she kicked him out,” Sammy replied, “she had the locks changed and her dad and brother were there when he came home drunk, as usual. That was seven months ago. A week later, he kicked in the door and attacked her, but she was ready and broke his right shoulder and a couple of ribs with a baseball bat. The next day Rachel took out a restraining order on Luke.”
Josh pressed his lips together and twerked them back and forth as he thought. “What she did was pure her,” he said. “She would have made a great Marine, and when we were kids, she was a better shot than me.” Then he lifted his butt off the seat and stretched his torso. With two fingers, he fished a quarter out of the tight watch pocket of his faded denim jeans. “Heads, I take the cowards way out, write a letter, and mail it. Tales, I show up at her place unannounced and knock on the door and hope she blows her lid.”
Sammy glanced at him like he was nuts. “What are you talking about?”
Josh flipped the coin and grinned when he saw the results.
“What is it?” Sammy asked.
“Tales,” Josh replied. “I’m going to enjoy getting my ass kicked.” He closed his eyes and rubbed his face with the fingers of both hands. “At least I hope she does.”
“What did the Marines do to you?” Sammy asked. “Who in their right mind wants to get their ass kicked?”
Josh’s eyes sparkled. He pinched a thumb and index finger together and pretended to zip his mouth shut.
“Damn it,” Sammy said. “Tell me what the Marines did to you.”
“It wasn’t just the Marines,” Josh said. “I served in the Marines, then the Navy, and then the Army and I returned to the Marines to finish up.”
“It felt like the right thing to do at the time.”
Josh nodded. “Yea, I got exactly what I wanted.”
“And what was that?”
“Enough talk. Just drive.”
“Try everything because something will click with you.”
My goal is to publish “The Patriot Oath” before the end of this year or early in 2020. The finished novel is now going through revisions and editing. In the meantime, the story of the characters that were born in the first novel continues with the sequel, “Never for Glory”, and I am still fitting the weekly prompts in chapter-by-chapter. The prompts for this week (August 4 -10) were: “horse” and “I’m a believer”. I haven’t started writing that chapter yet but plan to have it done before the first meeting next week so I can share it with both groups.
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, retired public school teacher, journalist, and award-winning author.
Bella had her surgery a few weeks ago and one of her rear legs was removed. Recovery was swift. She is now a tripod and is learning quickly how to adjust to three legs instead of four. The leg that was removed was sent out for a biopsy that revealed cancer in the leg with no evidence that the cancer had spread to her body. If the leg had not been removed, the cancer would have spread.
When I learn more details from Lisa and Robbie, I will add them to this update.
Sincerely, Lloyd Lofthouse
Robbie spent four years as a US Marine before he became a Green Beret Special Forces medic in the Army.
Bella, Robbie’s PTSD service dog started her life as a rejected show dog thanks to an overbite. Then she became a skilled and irreplaceable service dog, a companion, a friend, and above all a life-saving member of Robbie’s family.
But the story of Bella and Robbie didn’t start there.
Several years after being honorably discharged, a deeply concerned friend tricked Robbie into going to the VA, where he was diagnosed with service related PTSD. An account of this event is shared in Robbie’s soon to be released book The Next Mission.
Based on a recommendation that a service dog might help with Robbie’s PTSD symptoms that were becoming progressively worse, Robbie started the process to find a service animal. When he read Bella’s profile, he thought her temperament sounded ideal for his needs. Unfortunately, Bella was already scheduled for adoption to a man in Pennsylvania but that ended when the man lost his job and went through a divorce.
To meet Robbie, Bella started her second journey. She flew alone from Maryland to Atlanta with an eight-hour layover, before finally reaching her destination, Colorado Springs. Bella arrived severely dehydrated, starving, scared, and covered in her own feces. Lucky for Bella, Robbie’s medical training helped him deal with her health challenges and he was able to nurse Bella back to health.
Since then, the two have been inseparable.
Bella naturally and gracefully handles her responsibility as a service dog. When Robbie’s PTSD is triggered she will place her head in his lap to take his focus off the trigger. She will push her head under his hands, requesting a pet to give him a calming distraction. If she hears stress in his voice, she often stands between Robbie and who or what has triggered him.
Bella is a kind, loving, gentle giant that thinks she is a lap dog. I have never seen her aggressive unless she feels a member of her family is in danger. She has adopted us, my boys and I, as her own.
Bella has grown into a skilled and irreplaceable service dog, a companion, a friend and above all a loved member of our family.
Recently Bella was diagnosed with Cancer in her hip. The veterinarians and specialists we’ve met both recommended amputation of her hind quarter and possibly chemo therapy. They also assured us that this was the best course of action and treatment to give her a chance to reach her normal life expectancy. They assured us that dogs unlike people adapt quite easily to being a tripod.
However, this treatment comes at a very high price with the surgical estimate running between $5,000-$7,000 and that doesn’t include the expenses Robbie has already paid for x-rays, the diagnosis, medication, and the future possibility of chemo treatment.
With Robbie living on a fixed income due to his service disability, these costs are prohibitive, and we are not in a position to handle this expense. We are now faced with the grim possibility of having to consider putting Bella down. For anyone who has had to make this heartbreaking decision you know how devastating it can be. To be forced to make it due to financial constraints is even worse.
We would not be able to live with ourselves if we did not exercise every possibility to help save Bella. She has given so much of herself unconditionally, and it is our turn to take care of her.
Bella is the reason that Robbie, during very dark times, did not take his own life. It is incomprehensible for him to consider taking hers.
Note: This post was written by me from a writing prompt in my Vet Center PTSD peer support group. The Prompt was “Dreams”.
When his daughter told him she wanted to go fishing, he didn’t know if he was dreaming or not. She was supposed to be dead, but he didn’t want her dead.
“How am I going to teach you to fish when I’ve never done it?” he asked. “I don’t own a fishing rod.”
“Look, Dad, I’m not going to be around much longer.” Amie was nine. “Everything the doctors tried has failed. The treatments have been worse than the Leukemia.” She covered her bald head with the spread fingers of both hands. “I hate being bald. I want my hair back. I want to live my final months without the treatment pain, and I want to start by learning how to fish together. Then we can go skydiving or go skiing in South America when it’s summer here.”
“I’ve never skied,” he replied.
“We’ll learn together,” she said and took his hand in both of hers. “This is going to be fun and you’ll have pleasant memories of us doing things together after I’m gone. That’s what I want.”
Warm tears flooded his eyes. He didn’t want to lose her too. He’d already lost his wife to a hit-and-run driver when they’d been out riding bicycles together as a family. He’d witnessed it happen. He’d also seen the car’s license plate before the driver sped off, but he didn’t report that to the police. He wanted to execute the murderer himself, and he knew who’d help him. They were all in the same Marine Corps unit and had been deployed together several times to Iraq and then Afghanistan.
Wait, how could they help him? They’d all been killed in the same ambush in Afghanistan where he’d been taken prisoner by terrorists.
“Don’t go, Dad!” Amie said. “You can’t leave. We have to go fishing again.”
But her voice faded and was gone, and he opened his eyes to darkness. The air was frigid and stuffy. He tried to straighten his legs but couldn’t because the space he was in was to small. He explored it with his hands. It seemed he was in a rusty metal box that was about a foot high, two feet wide and five feet long. He tried to scream but his tongue was swollen, his throat raw, and his lips scabbed. His rectum also hurt and then he remembered how they had stripped him naked, and tied him face down to a metal rack before taking turns sodomizing him.
He heard metal screech and then the top of the metal box opened letting in blinding light. He blinked but couldn’t clear his vision. He felt rough hands grab him and drag him from the cramped box. He was slapped. He was punched. He felt blood running from his nose. He wanted to fight back, to resist, but he was too weak.
Then they were tying him to a metal lattice and lowering him into a pit full of a brown slop that smelled like shit. Once his body was immersed, he had to lean his head back as far as possible to keep his mouth out of the crap so he could breathe.
“Dad, Dad,” he heard Amie’s voice say. “Do you hear me? It’s okay. I’m right here with you. I’m not dead. You were rescued. You’re in a military hospital. You aren’t a prisoner anymore, and leukemia didn’t get me. Remember? And I’m not nine. I’m twenty. We’re going to get through this together. I want you back, Dad. You’re all the family I have.”
He hoped Amie’s voice was real.
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, retired public school teacher, journalist, and award-winning author.
I saw a film today, Wednesday June 14, 2017, based on the true story of a U.S. Marine and her dog. While watching the film, I was with her every step of her journey. The first part of the film shows a young American that has lost her way due to the death of a close friend. Her family is dysfunctional and poor just like mine was. I identified with her reason for joining the Marines and that decision straightened her life out like it did for me. When she reached boot camp and I watched her expression and body language as the DI’s tore into her and the other recruits. I laughed because that was me in 1965 at MCRD. Leavey went through boot camp at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
When Megan is asked in the film why she joined, she said, “To get away from my life.” I couldn’t have said it better.
But after book camp, she was still struggling to find a balance in her life, and that got her in trouble leading her to the shit detail that introduced her to the Marine Corps infantry bomb dog program and Rex.
The battle scenes in Iraq were intense, and I was there with her every step of the way.
After she leaves the Marine Corps, she finds herself lost again until she takes up the struggle to adopt and save the life of Sergeant Rex, her combat dog, who had been retired and was scheduled for euthanasia.
After Vietnam (1966) and the Marines (1968), it took me years to find that balance. It’s not an easy journey.
Since it isn’t a secret that she was reunited with Rex, who taught her what love is, I’m going to admit that my eyes got misty while watching this part of the film. If you see the film, I suggest that you take some tissues.
Megan Leavey grew up in Valley Cottage, New York. She enlisted in the Marines in 2003 and after boot camp was stationed at Camp Pendleton, California, where she was paired with military working dog Rex. They served together on two deployments in Iraq. They were first deployed to Fallujah in 2005, and then to Ramadi in 2006, where they were both wounded by an improvised explosive device. Leavey was awarded the Purple Heart and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with a “V” device denoting heroism in combat.
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, retired public school teacher, journalist, and award winning author.
The UK’s Independent reported, “Pentagon officials said (general) Gen Nicholson didn’t need and didn’t request President Donald Trump’s approval before using MOAB.”
What about BlU-82, also known as the Daisy Cutter that was used in Vietnam and years later in Afghanistan in the Tora Bora Region? Was the Daily Cutter the mother of all conventional bombs before MOAB? The answer is no. Read on to discover the explanation.
MOAB weighs 21,600 pounds. The Daily Cutter (BLU-82) weighed 15,000 pounds and was also dropped by MC-130 aircraft.
BLU-82 was used extensively in Vietnam. For instance, during Operation Lam Son 719 in 1971, twenty-five BLU-82s were dropped on NVA and Pathet Lao Forces in Laos. That is about 375,000 pounds or 17x one MOAB.
More operations using BLU-82 followed. The last BLU-82 was dropped in July 2008 at a Utah Test and Training Range.
In addition, another eleven BLU-82s were dropped in five night missions during the 1991 Gulf War adding up to another 165,000 pounds, almost 8x MOAB.
Then the U.S. Air Force dropped several BLU-82s during a campaign to destroy Taliban and al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan to kill and demoralize personnel and to destroy underground and cave complexes. American forces began using BLU-82 in November 2001 and again a month later during the Battle of Tora Bora.
It was the success of BLU-82 that led to the decision to develop the MOAB.
What about the impact of smaller bombs? During the Vietnam War, the United States Air Force sent B-52s on well over 10,000 bombing raids. A typical mission delivered 168 tons (336,000 pounds) of ordnance on target, inundating an area 1.5 by 0.5 miles with an explosive force equivalent to 10 – 17 MOABs.
Since 2003, fifteen MOABs have been manufactured at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in McAlester, Oklahoma.
How did the Malignant Narcissist in the White House, Donald Trump, get credit for dropping one big bomb he knew nothing about until after the blast? The answer is good misleading public relations and/or more lying propaganda.
Oh, and worth noting, during World War II, the UK’s Royal Air Force dropped FORTY-TWO Grand Slam Bombs that weighed 22,000 pounds each. Then after World War II, the United States developed the T-12 Cloudmaker that weighed 44,000 pounds, much larger than MOAB or the Grand Slam, but the Cloudmaker was never used.
Dropping another big bomb was really no big deal once we learn about the history of the UK’s Grand Slam, and America’s Cloudmaker and BLU-82. Trump does not deserve any credit for the use of MOAB.
Did you know that Donald Trump went out of his way to avoid serving in Vietnam, and the malignant narcissist called sleeping around (having lots of sex with different women) and avoiding STD’s his “Personal Vietnam”? – New York Times and The Hill
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, retired public school teacher, journalist, and award winning author.
Donald Trump’s spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson, who is as ignorant as the Donald is and probably has the same narcissist ego, took to Twitter and blamed President Obama and Hillary Clinton for the death of Captain Humayun Khan, who Trump insulted when he insulted the hero’s parents when the mother did not talk at the DNC.
But Captain Khan sacrificed his life to save his men from a suicide bomber in 2004 when G. W. Bush was President, four years before Obama was elected president.
Of course it isn’t Katrina’s fault if Trump ordered her to do it. From what I’ve read of his business history based on the experience of people who once worked for him, the Donald is an extreme micromanager and no one does anything without him knowing and approving.
In addition, this is what I’ve been thinking. Captain Khan deliberately risked and then lost his life to give his men time to fall back from a suicide bomber rushing their position in a car. Why did he only get the Bronze Star, why not the Medal of Honor?
How was it Hillary Clinton’s (HRC) fault? Because in the Donald’s twisted brain, she voted for the bill that approved the Iraq War.
On 60 Minutes, Donald Trump clearly blamed HRC for voting for the bill that approved the Iraq War – watch the next video to hear him say it with your own ears – and you will also hear that he didn’t blame Mike Pence, his VP running mate, who not only voted for the bill that authorized the Iraq War, but authored it. That means Pence helped write the bill. All HRC did was vote for the bill. Since then, HRC has publicly admitted she made a mistake signing the bill that approved the Iraq War, but Pence has never admitted it was a mistake that he wrote and voted for it.
In the 60 Minute’s clip, Trump also claimed he never supported the Iraq War since the beginning.
However, FackCheck.org reports that “On September 11, 2002, Howard Stern asked Trump if he supports invading Iraq. Trump answers hesitantly, “Yea, I guess so. You know. I wish it was, I wish the first time it was done correctly.”
Conservative Critics often dismiss fact check sites that reports conservative lies, because they think these sites are biased against conservatives – even though the same fact check sites report the lies that liberal politicians also say in public – but that doesn’t change the fact that Trump said what he said in 2002.
In addition, on January 28, 2003, Trump appeared on Fox Business’ “Your world with Neil Cavuto,” on the night of President Bush’s State of the Union address. Trump says he expects to hear “a lot of talk about Iraq and the problems,” and the economy. He urges Bush to make a decision on Iraq. “Either you attack or you don’t attack,” he says. But he offers no opinion on what Bush should do.
How can anyone that is sane, who’s knows about this and calls themselves an American citizen, support Donald Trump?
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine, Vietnam Veteran, journalist and award winning author.
His second novel is the award winning love story and suspense-thriller Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he didn’t do while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.