It is hard losing a friend. Unfortunately, it seems to happen more frequently as we get older. I met Steve Stormer through mutual friends and would see him at gatherings, holiday dinners, and on the occasional night out with the guys. A mutual good friend told me Steve was ill. Pancreatic cancer, I believe. Then, a few weeks later, he is gone.
We did have some interesting conversations over the five or six years I knew Steve. Stormer was a Vietnam-era U.S. Navy veteran and since I was an Army veteran (a bit later), we’d swap yarns about our time in the service. We also shared a common interest in the occasional good Tequila.
I only regret not having the time to get to know Stormer better. But, I will remember him as a good man, a friend, a fellow veteran, and a man with a great sense of humor.
I wish you smooth seas and a steady breeze, Stormer. Go with God.
December 17, 2019 was a sad day. As a long-time dog lover, stories like these always touch my heart. I have had dogs my whole life. Beagles, Dobermans, Labs, Plott Hounds, mutts, and currently … an amazing German Shepherd named Sophie. You could not ask for a truer, more loyal friend than a dog.
And while stories like this do sadden me, I realize that these amazingly loyal and courageous dogs unhesitatingly put themselves between their human partners and danger. That is a true bond of unconditional love, and I suppose in some ways, may be similar to the bonds of brotherhood forged by soldiers in combat.
So, Rest in Peace Agent Bulder. Your loyal service and willing sacrifice will be remembered. Thank you for your service. You are a hero in the true sense of the word.
Below is the story as reported by American Military News:
Border Patrol K-9 killed Tuesday in shootout identified as Agent Bulder
Agent Bulder, a U.S. Border Patrol K-9, was the dog killed Tuesday during a shootout when a suspect fired multiple shots at law enforcement.
According to FBI El Paso Division officials, Agent Bulder was killed in the line of duty as he was helping law enforcement execute search and arrest warrants at a Northeast El Paso home.
U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents, along with FBI, U.S. Border Patrol Tactical Unit agents and El Paso Police Department officers, executed the warrants about 6 a.m. Tuesday at a home in the 4500 block of Capricorn Drive in Northeast El Paso, police officials said.
The suspect, who has only been identified as a 62-year-old man, confronted agents in the backyard of the home and allegedly fired several shots at agents.
Agent Bulder was struck by a bullet and died at the scene.
Law enforcement then returned fired and killed the suspect.
Officials said that the warrant was related to illegal federal firearm charges.
It is often interesting to me how we take other people we meet for granted, not bothering to listen to or learn about one another. I recently met a man named Calvin who I discovered, served in the 101st Airborne Division. This turned into a conversation, because I too, served with the 101st. But, by that time it had been transformed into the 101st Air Assault Division. Of course, Calvin is about 85 and I am 59. So, we served during different eras.
And as a side note, I recently learned that at least some units of the 101st have gone back to being Airborne.
Veteran and artist!
During the course of our discussions, it came out that I had published my first novel, titled Serpents Underfoot, a short time back, and that I am now working on its sequel, Montagnard. Of course, he wanted a signed hard-cover copy of Serpents Underfoot which I provided.
An artist utilizing vibrant colors and sharp contrast!
I then learned that, Calvin too was also an artist … a painter. And that he’d been painting for about 30 years. I learned that Vincent Van Gogh was one of his favorite painters and you can see that influence in the work he does. He is also was a fan of Frederic Remington, a painter and sculptor focusing on the American west, and a favorite of mine.
Calvin Edney has been a soldier, a grocer, a bookstore owner, a vegetable store owner, a butcher, and now … a painter. He was active in several Asheville galleries in previous years, but now mostly paints in his apartment relying on memories of scenes which stuck in his mind and are created on the canvas. Calvin has sold a good number of his paintings, including one to a former Ingles CEO. He also hosts exhibits at his apartment home.
December 7th Show
Saturday, December 7, 2019 2:00 PM – 6:00 PM Tree Top Apartments Asheville, NC
This is Calvin’s home. Over 140 originals hang on his walls. For more information, click here!
If you are going to be in the Asheville area on December 7th, you should stop by and meet this 101st Airborne Veteran and amazing painter. I think you will enjoy the paintings and the conversation, as well as the wine, cheese, and crackers he serves during the show.
I will start saving up my pennies, so I can afford one of his paintings some time soon.
I discovered this story about James Elliott “Willy” Williams in the Navy Times November 8, 2018 Edition. It was written by Doug Sterner. It is really quite a story and the man is most certainly an American hero! You can read the story here, or click here to read this on the Navy Times website
Willy Williams, the most decorated enlisted sailor in Navy history
By: Doug Sterner November 8, 2018
In the history of the U.S. Navy only seven men have earned all of the “Big Three” valor awards: Medal of Honor, Navy Cross and Silver Star Medal. Six were World War II officers, including one aviator and four submarine commanders. The seventh was enlisted sailor James Elliott “Willy” Williams in Vietnam.
In 1947, Williams, a 16-year-old from Fort Mill, South Carolina, enlisted in the Navy with a fraudulent birth certificate. His first 19 years in the Navy included service aboard the destroyer USS Douglas H. Fox during the Korean War and tours on a variety of naval vessels from 1953 to 1965.
In May 1966 Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Williams was assigned to River Squadron 5 in South Vietnam to command Patrol Boat, River 105. The approximately 30-foot fiberglass boat usually carried a four-man crew who patrolled inland waterways to prevent the Viet Cong from using them to transport troops and supplies.
On July 1 Williams led a patrol that came under fire from a Viet Cong sampan. His deft maneuvers and accurate fire killed five VC and resulted in capture of the enemy boat, earning Williams a Bronze Star Medal with a “V” for valor. Twenty-two days later the capture of another sampan brought Williams a second Bronze Star for valor. Less than a month later, he received a Silver Star and his first Purple Heart.
On Halloween, Oct. 31, 1966, Williams was commanding a two-boat patrol on the Mekong River when he was fired on by two sampans. He and his crew killed the occupants of one and then went after the other. That pursuit put the Navy boats into a VC staging area containing two junks and eight sampans, supported by machine guns on the river banks. Williams called for helicopter gunship support while holding the enemy at bay. During this movement he discovered an even larger force. Not waiting for the armed helicopters, Williams attacked. Maneuvering through devastating fire from enemy boats and the shore, his two-boat patrol fought a three-hour battle that destroyed or damaged 65 VC boats and eliminated some 1,200 Communist troops. For his actions, Williams was nominated for the Medal of Honor.
On Jan. 9, 1967, the Navy dredge Jamaica Bay was blown up by mines in the Mekong Delta, and PBR-105 arrived to pick up seven of the survivors. Another man was trapped in the rapidly sinking dredge. Williams dove into the water and, with a rope attached to a nearby tug, pulled clear an obstruction, then swam through a hatch to recover the sailor.
Six days later Williams was wounded while leading a three-boat patrol that interdicted a crossing attempt by three VC heavy-weapons companies of 400 fighters. He and his boats accounted for 16 VC killed, 20 wounded and the destruction of nine sampans and junks. Williams was awarded the Navy Cross.
When Williams returned home in spring 1967, he had a list of awards unmatched by any enlisted man in Navy history. He retired after 20 years of service and began a career in the U.S. Marshals Service.
On May 14, 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson presented Williams with the Medal of Honor. For his lifesaving actions at the sinking Jamaica Bay, he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, often called “the noncombat medal of honor.”
During his last seven months in the Navy, Williams received every sea-service award for heroism including the Legion of Merit with “V,” two Navy Commendation Medals for valor and three Purple Hearts.
Williams died on Oct. 13, 1999, and in 2003 his widow, Elaine, watched the launching of the Arleigh Burke class destroyer, USS James E. Williams.
Doug Sterner, an Army veteran who served two tours in Vietnam, is curator of the world’s largest database of U.S. military valor awards.
This article originally appeared in the August 2017 issue of Vietnam Magazine, a Military Times sister publication. For more information on Vietnam Magazine and all of the HistoryNet publications, visit historynet.com.
Click here for more interesting blog posts and book reviews.
Be on the watch for my new thriller, Montagnard, coming out this summer, and check out the original JD Cordell military action thriller available on Amazon.com.
We all have our boundaries. And we expect people to respect them. For instance, people should respect the privacy of your home. You have the right to lock your doors and windows, not because you hate what is outside, but because you love what is inside … your spouse, your children, your dog, your car, your DVD collection. Whatever it is, you have a right to secure and protect it.
Your personal boundaries protect the inner core of your identity and your right to choose
Gerard Manley Hopkins
You might even put up a fence to contain and protect your dog. Or, you may want to keep intruders out. Perhaps it just serves as a privacy screen. However, it is your right to put up your fence and it is not, in any way, an immoral act.
Thoughts on Scale
Boundaries are not complete inviolable. You have neighbors. You might take a casserole over to a neighbor who is ill, or share your grill for a neighborhood July 4th block party.
On the other side of the coin, if you see your neighbor’s house being burglarized you might call the police. If you see the neighbor’s children having a spat, you might observe just to ensure it doesn’t get out of hand. If somebody is about to get hurt, you might even step in to cool things off. In a worse case scenario, where a child is being abused, you might step up and go to the aid of the child. It is nice to be able to look at yourself in the mirror.
What is the difference in personal boundaries and those between countries? It is only a difference of scale. Why? Because countries are made up of people. People need their boundaries. And, so do countries.
Boundaries are a Separation of Ideas!
I recently heard someone say, “Boundaries are a physical manifestation of the line between good and bad ideas. That statement really struck me. And, after thinking about it, I had to agree. Here is an example of what I mean.
In the controversy over our border with Mexico, some have compared the wall being built along sections of our border to the wall around West Berlin, which was finally torn down.
To put it plainly, this is a terrible and totally dishonest comparison.
At the end of World War II, Europe was carved up into two portions. One portion was allowed to continue on as before. However, the other portion fell under the control of the Soviet Union. This was done to placate Joseph Stalin, whose military forces had indeed helped defeat Adolf Hitler’s armies. As part of the peace plan, Stalin was granted half of Germany and half of Berlin. However, Berlin was deep inside what would become known as East Germany
The Berlin Wall, or Berliner Mauer in German, was a barrier that surrounded West Berlin and prevented access to it from East Berlin and adjacent areas of East Germany during the period from 1961 to 1989. From 1949 to 1961, approximately 2.5 million East Germans fled from East to West Germany. This included many skilled workers, professionals, and intellectuals. Their loss threatened to destroy the economic viability of the East German state. In response, East Germany built a barrier to close off East Germans’ access to West Berlin and hence West Germany.
The original wall, built of barbed wire and cinder blocks, was subsequently replaced by a series of 15 foot concrete walls, topped with barbed wire and guarded with watchtowers, gun emplacements, and mines. By the 1980s that system of walls, electrified fences, and fortifications extended 28 miles dividing the city of Berlin into two parts, and extending a further 75 miles around West Berlin, separating it from the rest of East Germany.
The point is the Berlin wall was not built to keep illegal immigration under control, or to try and block shipments of drugs, or to help prevent human and child sex trafficking by criminal cartels. It was built to keep East Germans in! Nobody, with the possible exception of western spies or the occasional crazies, was ever shot trying to get into East Germany or East Berlin. However, between 1961 and 1989, over 239 people were killed trying to get out. As a child, I remember we would get occasional letters from a relative trapped in East Germany. I remember when the letters stopped. We have no idea what happened.
The Berlin Wall separated ideas of freedom, democracy, and individual rights from the iron hand of totalitarianism. collectivism. and individual subjugation.
A Lack of Boundaries Invites a Lack of Respect
Mexico has a fascinating history and culture, and one that should be respected and appreciated. Then again, so does the United States. But, our cultures are different.
Most Americans would probably say they do not want the Unites States to become another Mexico. Despite Mexico’s interesting history and culture, the country has a long history of governmental corruption and criminal cartels engaged in drug smuggling, kidnapping for ransom, and human trafficking. Hopefully, improvements are being made, but only the passage of time will tell.
Human Trafficking is an abomination. In my opinion, anyone who “just cannot seem too understand” the role border security plays in helping to prevent human trafficking (or any of these other crimes) from occurring is either willfully ignorant or has another agenda, one that is not in the best interests of the United States and its citizens. Or, the victims of these horrific crimes.
Legal … Not Illegal Immigration
Yes. America is a country built on immigration. It was built by immigrants. My ancestors came here from Germany and Switzerland, and possibly England. They worked hard to become good Americans. They did not try to turn America into another Germany or Switzerland; … because they believed in the American dream and wanted to be part of it. Not destroy it!
America has become a force for good on this planet. Does that mean we have never made mistakes. Of course not. But more Americans have given their lives in the defense of other people and countries than any nation on this planet. More American taxpayer dollars have been spent in foreign aid than any other countries. And of course, America should continue to be a force for good! But there is nothing wrong in asking other countries to step up and do their share.
It is neither economically nor physically feasible for the United States to become the refugee camp for the entire planet.
The people of Honduras, El Savador, Guatemala, Venezuela, Syria, Iran, and Somalia, or any other country need to stand up and fight for their country and their people’s interests, just as Americans did over 243 years ago.
America and other countries can certainly help, just as France helped us. But there is an old saying, “You can’t help someone who won’t help themselves.” That saying still holds true today.
Keep America Healthy and Strong
You also cannot help anyone if you are sick, unstable, emotionally, or intellectually bankrupt yourself. The same holds true for a country. In order to be a force for good on the planet, America must be healthy and strong. That means economically, militarily, and emotionally.
Patriotism is not a bad thing.
Patriotism is the driving force behind the success of any country. Patriotism is also what allows a people to withstand periods of trouble and turmoil for the good of the nation. Do you remember the victory gardens or Rosie the Riveter from WW II?
And, perhaps more importantly:
Patriotism is not obedience to government. Patriotism is obedience to the principles for which the government is supposed to stand.
The Circle is Complete …
So America needs to be healthy to maintain its role as a force for good on this planet. America is a defender of freedom, liberty, and human rights around the world.
Boundaries are healthy, normal and necessary for people. This would also include groups of people … and even countries. Boundaries (and borders) are neither immoral nor a “manhood thing” as some want to suggest. They are essential to the health of this Nation.
Clear and healthy borders keep us from selfish desires and wanting to control others. They also protect us from those who lack self-control and yet still want to control us.
Well, it finally happened. I offended somebody simply by wearing my “Unapologetically American” T-shirt! I really don’t give a crap. If you are offended by someone who is proud of the country you are living in, you are the one with the problem. And besides, you can always move.
No, that’s not me in the T-shirt. I didn’t want to offend anyone!
That’s the T-shirt model from Ranger Up where I ordered the shirt sometime ago. And, this is not really a plug for the shirt or Ranger Up. I just wanted you to see exactly what it was this snowflake was offended by. But, if you want to order a shirt to see who you can offend, click here!
What really offends me is how people are now so easily offended!
I have just a couple of things to say about people who are that easily offended.
Being offended doesn’t make you right
If you are shocked by what I say, then you really have no clue as to who I am.
If you don’t care enough to learn about who I am, why should I waste anytime on you?
So, boys and girls, buck up … and put your adult underwear on. This country would not exist today if early explorers, our Founding Fathers, or those who fought to build and protect this great nation were offended every time they heard an opinion that differed from their own.
Put down your cocoa, turn loose that puppy, wipe away those tears, hitch up your britches, and get out into the real world. Develop some backbone and a thicker skin. You will be happier, healthier, and probably live longer.
And, that’s about all I have to say about that!
By the way, if I haven’t offended you so much that you are now quivering in your Nikes, on the verge of tears, and hear the cocoa calling your name, check out the cover to my new book and let me know what you think. Just click here!
Back in 2015, the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum hosted a panel discussion of the Green Berets’ Use of Montagnard Tribesmen During the War in Vietnam
I have been to Patriot Point several times and always enjoy touring the aircraft carrier. the USS Yorktown, and seeing the many naval aircraft on her deck, as well as the destroyer, the USS Laffey (which has an absolutely heroic history), and the submarine, the USS Clamagore (which I understand is destined to be sunk as an artificial reef).
I have done a great deal of research into the Montagnard people for both Serpents Underfoot and it’s “sequel in progress,” Montagnard. I am sorry I missed this symposium. It would have been interesting and helpful.
While really a short description of the symposium, there is also a good bit of information about the Montagnard people. Anyone interested in reading the article can click this link!