Friday, January 19, 2007

Heroes once more.

A couple of days before Christmas we had house guests for the evening. My wife's good friend came along with her husband and spent a lil time with us on their way to family for the holidays. The husband is Chief Dave, a twenty year veteran of the U.S. Navy. He recently served on the USS Wasp.
I had the opportunity to chat with him about what he did on board ship, and thank him for his service. I came away with the understanding that this man was all business about his job, and the people under him. What they do on a daily basis can get you dead in a hurry with a mistake. Dave doesn't do mistakes. One of the things he did was to make fresh water for New Orleans after Katrena. One hundred thousand gallons a day! That was half the production of the ship! She stays at nintyfive percent or above ready for action at all times! They can provide fresh water to a city, or land Marines by air or sea as needed. Dave and the people that sail with him are also Heroes. My Daughter, though she doesn't know it is another hero of mine. She signed up for the Navy, and was let go for a medical reason. She went home and to school for two years while getting her waiver, and went at it again! She got hurt in basic but fought through it. Now she is a corpsman. Her perseverance and fight make me proud of her no matter where her road leads. She is my hero. Her new husband, a Navy man of ten years. He takes good care of her, and is my hero. My cousin Joe, twenty two years in Navy intelligence. Enough said. One more tonight...My friend Don who served at a time when it wasn't cool to do so. Thanks Buddy!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Heroes Two

As I've said earlier I'm blessed with many heroes. Either that or I'm badly misguided. Another of my Heroes is My Dad, Tom C. SR. Not because of his Korean war service, though he is the genuine article as Heroes go. Personally I think anyone that jumps out of perfectly good airplanes is nuts, but to each his own. He is my hero for all the time he spent with me and all of the kids in the neighborhood teaching us to catch and hit a ball, and show good sportsmanship. He did this at the end of ten to twelve hour days over many years. He would pull into the driveway and drop his lunch box at the steps as he walked on past the house to the vacant lot next to our house, calling for the ball as he picked up his mit that was already out and waiting for him. In the fall he would teach us to run button hooks and slant pass plays in backyard football. He would throw those passes till every kid had his fill. It must have been a real thrill to have all those kids yelling his name and asking if he would stay out with them. He took the time to teach me the same as all the other kids, never mind that I was blind in one eye and not good in the other. He taught me to shoot a gun as well as I could see. I won the first Turkey shoot I entered in South Carolina. I sent him the paper target to show him.
I was reading the Detroit News the other day. I read an article about three young football players that play for the Michigan Wolverines. All were stars. They spoke of the great privilege they had been given. They spoke of their stardom, and their degrees. They spoke of trips to C.S. Mott Childrens Hospital to visit the kids that help to keep things in proper perspective. When I was eight years old I went blind in one eye. I got a month in that same hospital, confined to bed. I had surgery four times before they gave up. It was too far from home to have Mom and Dad there much. As the Christmas season drew near we got a real treat! Some Michigan players took the time to come and see us. It had been three weeks since I had been allowed to stand or walk without a nurse physically holding onto me. If I had to use the toilet they would seat me before giving me any privacy. So this big and I mean real big man comes and chats with me. He knew I couldn't walk because of fear of a blow to the head. He asked me if I was tired of sitting in the room. When I said yes he picked me up and carried me. We even went outside for the first breath of fresh air I'd had in three weeks. Yep even now the Wolverines are my Heroes. When he brought me back to my room he left me with a Michigan sweatshirt as a Christmas present. Continued

Saturday, January 06, 2007


I wonder if we take the correct amount of time to think about our Heroes. I'm 44 years old and still have Heroes. Some are obvious, and some are not. I'm fortunate in that my life is full of Heroes.
I'm going to list some of my Heroes and why they are. I'm not going to list them in an order from first to least because Heroes can't be categorized that way. I'm simply going to try to tell you a lil about them and why I hold them in such esteem. To begin this journey you must first understand a lil bit more about me then most folks know. I am the son of the son of a Michigan dirt farmer. I think but am not sure that my Dad finished the tenth grade. There was no eleventh. My Mother was a native of Chicago, her father a carpenter. She was a lady! I am their son. In my Grandfathers house was a picture of John Kennedy, and just a lil ways away the sacred virgin Mary. Kinda odd for a protestant home but I was raised a Catholic. By most standards I'm a spoiled child, even to the point of having at one point seven dirt bikes at one time as a child. Not bad for the son of an auto worker. What most didn't understand or care to look into was that I earned what I got! The hard way! I worked! Dad worked for GM most of my life building Oldsmobiles. I remember getting to watch him in the early years unload the trucks by pulling on a heavy chain, thus dragging the partial bodies off several at a time. He did this twelve hours a day seven days a week to feed and cloth us. It was a helluva long way from his beloved upper peninsula home. Yep that's right! We're Yoopers. My first hero is his Father, William John. As his friends and enemies called him...Jack. Jack was the most respected man in the county for a number of reasons. The Man could do anything! If he chose to fly past on the strength of his arms alone no one would have thought anything amiss. He worked in a rock quarry by day and farmed by night. He was a veteran of the great war, ww1. He spent his time as a cook. To him the thing was he served. All of his sons would serve as well, some with great distinction. One of Jacks friends had an episode with too much booze one night and ended up on his front porch with a rifle, staring down the State Police. They were going to shoot him. Jack walked up to him and asked him to put the gun down. He refused. Jack then told the man he was coming to take the gun, and help the man get through this trouble. The man told him...."Jack, I'll shoot you if you come near. One must remember that Jack was the deciding authority in that county at that time. He told the police to stand down. He then walked up to his friend. Half way between the road and his friend, the man put a round from his .22 rifle through Grandpa's right calf. Jack stopped and said, "Don't do that again! Don't make me loose my temper with you! He then went on and dis armed the man. That same man was with my family the day we buried Jack many years later. He echoed the words of my own Father; The greatest man I ever knew. There are a thousand stories about Jack, and if Super man was 5'6 and 140 pounds Jack was him. Continued...