Tag Archives: U.S.S. Iowa (BB-61)

Errant Parent And The Day Hell Came To Visit

I heard an 18 year old porn star interviewed this morning on the Stern Show. Generally this is the kind of guest who is par for the course on Howard’s Show, but Summer Verona was not only introduced to the porn game by her step father, he also serves as her manager, and in this capacity, the step father is on set to supervise her escapades. We also learned that her step father is the one who takes it upon himself to make sure that her mons pubis is appropriately shorn for action and that he does the waxing himself. Now I am about as open minded as it gets and have very little problem with things that many would cringe at, but a step daddy shopping his wife’s barely grown daughter around to porn producers seems just a little inappropriate. Surely a step father grooming the genitalia of his wife’s daughter is over the invisible line that seperates icky from o.k..

This weekend in the New York Times there was an article about  how some of the soldiers that left for Iraq and Afghanistan confident, capable, and mentally stable are returning rattled, broken, and in some cases, as a menace to society. Of course when individuals are forced to confront the horror and devastation that a war machine and it’s weapons can inflict, it can wreak havoc inside a persons mind and things that were formerly considered reasonable can distort, and become entirely new perceptions and sensations.  It starts when you enlist, and the concepts of diplomacy and tolerance are forsaken on behalf of force and power. We teach our children not to raise their fists to one another, yet as adults we solve our most vexing problems through strength and violence, bending others to our agenda or else, as Reagan joked about The USSR, the bombing will begin in five minutes. The maxim is simple; a knife beats a club, a gun beats a knife, a bomb beats a gun, and a nuclear bomb is the trump card. You can check out the entire article at this link: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/13/us/13vets.html?scp=1&sq=veteran+%2B+murder

Back in 1989 when I was serving onboard the U.S.S. IOWA (BB-61), I was primerman for the center gun  in turret number one on the day that Brian Gendron, the Primerman for center gun in turret number two was obliterated along with 46 other guys. Some of the victims that day were blown apart into tiny unrecognizable bits, and others who could surely could see their demise coming by the position of their lifeless bodies, were only strangled to death by the thick, acrid smoke, that accompanied the fire. Like myself, Brian Gendron had joined the Navy to earn college money,  and to say he eagerly awaited his discharge is an understatement of the highest order because he loathed the Navy, and as it turns out, rightfully so.

 The eleven hours that I spent in that hell retrieving the bodies of those guys, completely changed my life, and I can honestly say that I have never thought about anything the same way ever since. They offered us counseling and made psychiatrists available to anyone who wanted to talk to them, but the culture in the military is big on machismo and rugged individualism, so most of us chose not to speak with someone who might have helped us to make sense of the whole goddamned mess. When all of this happened I wasn’t even twenty years old yet and frankly I really had no idea how important it could be to talk about something so traumatic. The bottom line is the military had a responsibility to force treatment upon me and everyone else who was there that day, especially those of us who went into that turret to retrieve the fallen. To this day I have never sat down with anyone to sort through the dark cloud of emotions that were aroused by the events of that day and I wonder how my life might have been diferent had I not been there that day at all. At least I remain to consider such thoughts, of the four of us that sat together at breakfast on the morning of April 19, 1989, I was the only one left alive by dinner time that night.

 After I was finished with The Navy I asked my Dad why he did not talk me out of enlisting and his answer was that he did not talk me into it. Sometimes, what seems like the right decision turns out to be not so much, while at other times, choices may seem entirely appropriate to an individual while society at large looks on with disdain. Life can be tricky, and it’s truths will always be elusive, but there are two certainties generally accepted by most people; Veterans deserve treatment for PTSD, and parents should never take up the cause of hair removal on their childrens genetalia. Have a great day everyone. Oh yeah, one more thing; Rest In Peace Brian.

God Fuck America.

By the time I had lugged this machine up the hill from the ferry terminal, I was dripping sweat from my brow and my shirt was thoroughly drenched. I could not get connected to the web in my apartment by piggybacking because the signal was too weak, and Richard Merrill was my login name and  P.J. the terrier was looking up from my desktop, but I didn’t care. It is not every day that I am handed a laptop with no strings attached, but it is surely a pity that this coveted prize became mine as the result of  another man’s slow and  painful death. With this unassuming machine I might bring glory to an honorable man’s memory. On the flip side, the possibility exists that I could potentially bring ruin upon myself, an individual whose only accomplishment is the completeness of his failures.  Only time will tell.

When we met at the gazebo on the waterfront in faux Scandinavian Poulsbo, it was more for the benefit of the living who had gathered, than for the benefit a dead patriot who could never serve his country again. The allegiance to his country that he had sworn in earlier days had been betrayed and now his remains were merely ashes, to be spread about at the discretion of the living. Though it is said that a memorial serves to celebrate a life gone by, the mood at such affairs is seldom celebratory and people generally do not cry when they are at a party.

The fact of the matter is that our country had sold him out, and now we had gathered in his memory surrounded by balloons and flowers. Asbestos exposure is what gave the man the cancer that took his life and now we were left behind to write our memories of and tributes to the dead man, on little scraps of paper that we would release skyward tied to the balloons that surrounded us. On one of the slips I wrote that; In Heaven It’s Tacos 24/7! Actually, I just thought about writing that, but it would have been much cooler if I really had.

Everyone sitting on those rented, steel, folding chairs could see the smiling pictures of Rich that had been taken in earlier days when he was still alive. On the table before us was a flag that had been folded, neatly and officially, into a triangle and placed inside a glass paned, wooden display case. As I sat there that day I looked around at the wife and children and grandchildren and friends and family members that had survived the man, and I thought that this was not a fair trade. Here was a bunch of people who had given up something irreplaceably valuable and unique, and in return all that they got was a stupid flag, and a worthless atta boy from the country that had exposed their loved one to the mortal danger that would eventually claim his life.

As far as I am concerned, this American empire cannot collapse soon enough. Where others pray for God to bless America, my prayer is that God fucks America hard and without any lubrication. It was almost twenty years ago I had my first taste of the systemic callousness this nation has toward those who have voluntarily chosen to serve in the military. These days a young person who is sent into harms way can easily return a mere shell of their former self as the result of traumatic brain injury or otherwise, and there is no assurance that they will receive the treatment that they require. There is no foolishness is loving your country of origin, but Americans would do well to avoid serving in their military because those idiots will kill you with their carelessness. Enough said. Peace.