Jerryaughtry’s Weblog

January 21, 2010

SHOCKER

Filed under: Uncategorized — jerryaughtry @ 1:34 pm

Can you believe MA. I would move out of the state. Just think a state that voted in gay marriage has now sent a Republican to the Senate. Ted Kennedy has got to be turning over in his grave. I am still in shock.

My belief is that it didn’t make any difference with a state where the plurality is so much Democratic, they should have voted a Democratic if a turtle had run. To put a Republican in is unbelievable. Dang bunch of Yankees.

Nobody ever tells it like it is: lots of Democrats had to vote for the Republicans and they should be ashamed of themselves. Always before we could blame it on right wing fundamentalists. Not this time. The President campaigned. Kennedy’s wife. Unbelievable. What did they think they were doing. One more obstructionist in Washington

Gusdavis Aughtry

VICTORIA

Filed under: Uncategorized — jerryaughtry @ 5:18 am

The first time I saw Victoria I’ll never forget. Her big yellow Cadillac was perched at the top of the hill by the Post Chapel at the Presidio of San Francisco. A big American flag streamed from it announcing two remarkable women. Over the years, I’d often see that flag flying in the breeze, always with the same authority. That day, Victoria merged from the car along with her Mom. She walked slowly, a pretty severe case of osteoporosis. Her Mom held to her as they made their way to the chapel, under the canopy and into it. They sat about two thirds back. I would see them every Sunday.

Presidio was what us paratroopers called a “leg” post. Most military types thought getting assigned to the PSF (Presidio of San Francisco) was a dream assignment. Not me. I had arrived dragging my feet. My original assignment was to 7th Special Forces at Fort Bragg. I actually was leaving
my all time favorite assignment, the 82d Airborne Division to take the assignent. I don’t know how it happened that I was now going to PSF. My good friend and boss at the Presidio, a Priest, says he didn’t engineer it but I was skeptical. I was one of the few SF trained chaplains in the Army. It seemed in my own mind, I had sacrificed and taken lots of risks to get Special Forces qualified. It involved a gruelling training regiment, culminating in a jump into the thetchtous Uharrie Forest with an m60 machine gun straped on my back. I was going to Vietnam and it was macho and egotistical and when I got to Vietnam, I got siphoned off to the 101st Airborne. it turned out to be a great assignment not to mention a great ministry. This should have taught me a lesson. Go with it.

I didn’t realize it much then but came to realize later on–these two were the epitome of patriotism. Red, white and blue coursed through their veins. Victoria was always dressed to the “nines” with three ponds always on: an American flay, her WAC

The Post Chapel was the second oldest building on the Presidio, a dynamic historical chapel with these gorgeous flags of units that served at the Presidio hanging from these high cathedral ceilings. Plagues adorned the walls as memorials to the decorated and famous military and the not so famous. It was almost like Victoria and her mother were born for that chapel.

Victoria’s family was military through and through. Her Dad was a military man, retired with the rank of Major. He is shrouded a little in mystery. They served in Hawaii, Utah. He was in WW l. They lived for a long time in Seattle and put down roots and somehow made their way to San Francisco where Victoria became a 4th grade public school teacher. They lived in this really nice apartment on Nob Hill and she and her mother spent their time riding around the Bay Area and hanging out on the Presidio.

The Presideo was a big part of Victoria and her Mom ‘s life. They were a familiar site at almost every single event that went on: the chapel, the club, ceremonies, change of command. Someone said to me one day, “Who is that lady with the other older lady?” People rernembered them because Victoria was beginning to suffer a little more from the osteoporosis and walked slower but always with her Mom on her arm. Must be somebody important. “Of course, I allowed.”

For the vast majority of their lives, Presidio of San Francisco was a hard charging military Post with active duty soldiers and a first rate teaching military hospital. Victoria took it personal when any body had the audacity to call the Presideo a base as opposed to a Post. And, when the “powers that be” decided to close the Presideo, Victoria again took it very personal and never forgave them, whoever “them” might be.

The love of Victoria’s life was her brother Fred. Other than simply a sister worshiping a brother, Fred was pretty remarkable I think. He was in flight training in Southern California, preparing to be one of the Army Air Corp’s finest. Victoria was herself a WAC (Woman’s Army Corp) stationed in Virginia. She was a clerk and waiting her turn to go overseas. It was WW ll. Her Dad was an Artillleryman and was somewhere in the Southwest. All were “ready” for what might come.

This meant going to war. Victoria never figured what might possibly happen. She got the call in the middle of the night and could describe it in intricate details–how the “Charge of Quarters” came to get her. She fell to the floor. Fred had crashed and been killed. It was a training accident. He was on his final check-out flight before he got his wings. Later on he postumously got them. Fred was dead. Victoria could not believe it.

The funeral, the time of grief, all ran together with life. A war raged on in Europe and Japan had attacked us. Fred was dead. Here’s where the story of Fred takes a turn, especially in Victoria’s mind. There was an incident when her mother went to get Fred’s personal items. Someone whispered to her, Victoria thinks maybe the Red Cross; “Fred is the 4th one to die in a similar act. We think maybe sabotage. A German sympathizer is suspected of sabatogimg Fred’s plane and the crash was the direct result of his actions.” It was a blow to Victoria. The details and follow up to such a heinous act disappeared in the mist of war.

Years later Victoria wanted to clear it up. She travelled to LeMoore Field where the “act” occurred and talked to people. She joined the Aces Organization which kept her on the edge of those who had been fellow students of Fred. Had he lived, to her, no doubt he would have been an Ace (pilot that shoots down at least 5 enemy planes). She actually located some who had flown with Fred. Over the course of years, Victoria steeped herself in the history of these comtemporaries of Fred. Along the way, the sabatoge story faded and for Victoria, a kind of nostalgia set in. She could cry and did often when she talked of Fred. Her apartment had pictures of him everywhere–the correspondence concerning his death was stacked around.

After Victoria’s Mom’s death, the actual beginning of our personal involvement with Victoria began. She kind of fell apart, as there was literally no one to help. My wife, Jackie stepped in and took her under her wing (Jackie is an angel) so to speak. I pulled a few strings and got the commander to authorize her continued access to the Presideo and especially the Officer’s Club where they hung out and were fixtures.

Victoria moved into the Sequoias, a retirement center. She continued to be a ubiquitous presence in the Bay Area, developing a cadre of good friends and driving that big old car around. Flag flying. She and Jackie made trips to Europe, numerous ones to Washington, visiting Arlington Cemetary the graves of Mom, Dad, and Fred.

A few weeks ago, Victoria had a heart attack. After her attack and subsequent hospital stay, she returned to the next level down, the Health Center. In the Health Center, Victoria had a small room as she would hope to gain strength and return to her apartment. The room had a nice TV but Victoria decided it was a place for the pictures of her family and mostly of her beloved brother.

Victoria died this morning. Her pictures of her family are still up. God bless Victoria on her journey.

January 15, 2010

Hurt Locker

Filed under: movie review — jerryaughtry @ 3:03 pm

Michael and this young guy that I lnow from Church go to see The Hurt Locker. Really a good movie, lots of subtleness as relates to the Iraq war. And, the first modern day war movie which is all about soldiers as opposed to these subtle or not so subtle sidebars. There was a little of it but not much. And, even had some Brits in it. The movie has been nominated for a couple of Golden Globes, I think (didn’t win). Since I have been totally opposed to the Iraq war and think that increasing troops in Afghanistan is “one” stupid thing the president has done, seeing a movie like this is very painful. Anyway, Michael joins Eric and me. We leave the movie and go to discuss it. Eric is maybe 28, never had a job, has been in school all his life. Michael savages poor Eric who takes it good naturely. Melnekoff is incorrigible. Where is Larry with a few MFs when you need him.

The movie shows some of the intracacies of a soldier’s life in Iraq like we have not seen in other movies, i. e., how he lives in Iraq. On the surface not a bad life, nice living quarters as opposed to sleeping on the ground like Vietnam. Calling home, email, good food. But, then, he gets up in the morning and goes off to war where he is confronted with danger around every corner; a hostile civilian population that wants to kill him. It is a type of environment that would have to get to the psyche of the most emotionally sophisticated person and we can just imagine what it does to a young soldier who is not emotionally sophisticated. What we are doing to this small percentage of our soldiers is criminal.

I am often absolutely amazed at how the potential for the military to be broken exists and yet the institution soldiers on. It Is somewhat like the military found itself at the end of Vietnam: drug use was rampant, racism was bigtime problem and to look at it, we would say, “how can the military make it?” They do somehow and soldier on.

There were a few things in the movie which might be questionable. The three guys of the bomb disposable unit had the three prototypes of combat soldiers: a crazy, a very rational type and one like a “deer caught in the headlights.” The movie, meaning the director, was very clever. In using the rotational dates of the 3 person team to introduce the action, it kept you on the edge of your seat. This can’t be understood unless you actually see the movie.

And a last thing that was evident to me or that I believe: the movie presented soldiers as being very aggressive in pursuing the enemy. I don’t think so. Soldiers grasp quickly what they are dealing with and subtlely adjust. Ok, go out on patrol and make it through the day. Not go out on patrol and pursue suspicious activity and chase the enemy. Nobody talks about this but if it is a questional situation that might get you killed, ignore it. The Marines appear to be more aggressive though and Special Operations soldiers who are older seem to treat war in more or less as a bigger strategy. I think. Anyway, very good movie. I doubt you are still with me here but a very good movie. Amen.

January 14, 2010

POLITICOS

Filed under: Essay — jerryaughtry @ 1:45 am
Tags: , ,

Not long ago, I accompanied my teenage grand daughter to a political event. Like her Mom, she is an activist. It is in her genes. Her Mom has always been involved in one cause after another. And, I might add, good ones. This one had to do with getting a poluting power plant closed down. She had read where the city attorney was doubling his efforts to make it happen. She wrote a letter to the editor supporting his efforts and volunteered to get her friends to help. Her letter was so moving, we hope, to the city attorney that he invited her to his swearing in. It was a nice ceremony and a good experience for Lupe (Davis Guatalupe Jacobson).Her Grandpa, however, ever the skeptic had a few observations to make.

Politics by it’s very nature lends itself to promote corruption. The concept is that politics equals public service. Nobody I know in the real world believes that. Ask someone to say something positive about an elected official and more likely than not, it is the “nobody is home” look.

At the ceremony with Lupe, listening and watching the politicians, they were constantly running for something. Much of it is our fault. We elect them to serve us and before we know it, they don’t know us and the media makes them into celebrities.

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