Freeman Works "Not all who wander are lost; Not all that glitters is Gold"

April 26, 2013

Letter to Bill Jr.

Filed under: Mississippi — Gary Freeman @ 12:26 pm

Editors Note: This letter was written by the Father of Captain William C. Washburn to Bill’s son, William C. Washburn Jr. Bill had been born into money as his family owned the Great Southern Hotel in Meridian, MS. Bill went onto College at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

Gary Freeman 2013

 

 

June 23, 1949

Written by Nat I. Washburn to his grandson, William C. Washburn, Jr.

Dear Billy ,

Ever since I had my first glimpse of you, several days ago, I have felt the urge to put down on paper my thoughts. You see this is a momentous occasion in my life; you are my first grandson to bear my name.

 

You will be twelve years old when this letter is given to you. By that time, I may have passed from this life and so, I am anxious to pass on to you some of the things t have learned and at the same time to give you a brief history of my life as well as to tell you what I know about my parents (your Great Grandparents) and my Grand Parents’ (your great, great Grand Parents) I also want to warn you of the many pit-falls, temptations and rough roads you will travel if you decide to learn the That is: not listen to advice.

 

As I looked at you that first day, my heart swelled with pride in the consciousness that you would carry on the Washburn name. While your Dad is a great improvement over his Dad, It is my prayer and wish that you will be an improvement over both of us. This is not a small order because (not bragging) your Grand Dad, in spite of many mistakes and travel down roads that led to a “dead end”, has been fairly successful. And’ Your Dad has done even better.

 

So, let’s start at the beginning. I was born on August 17, 1889 In Yazoo City, Miss. My first remembrance of my early Life was that I was standing in our front yard. Surrounded by a picket fence (most houses were fenced in those days and many people kept cows, chickens, etc., and the front yard was covered with a very poor and stubbly grass. How or when we moved from that location, I don’t remember but later on I remember us living in a small three room house on a hill at the edge of town. This hill was known as Peak Teneriff. I remember playing in the hills around the house, of finding berries and a big spring close to the house. Your Uncle Bob and I played. with other boys in the neighborhood. We would find a chicken and take it to a place “up a gully” and there we would camp and cook. There was huge peach tree on the side, of the house which bore the most delicious and largest Alberta peaches I have ever known. The tree was so large, we could climb up into its branches and the peaches ripened just a little previous to my birthday.

 

In those days, we were very poor. You see your Great Grand Mother (Emma Link) married your Great Father, (John Mitchell Washburn) and the marriage was not approved by her Mother, (My Grandmother, Rachel Link.) There was quite a row and my Mother left home and from thence on refused any help of a material nature; although my Grand Parents on both sides of the family were quite prosperous. They both owned large plantations. Our poverty was brought about by virtue of the fact that my Father suffered from a disease known as inflammatory rheumatism. This disease caused his hands, arms and legs to swell and become so inflamed that the pain was unbearable. I have seen him with pillows under his hands and legs and the swelling was so great that the skin would burst. Trying to find a cure for this disease caused him to spend every dollar he could spare; Of course, he could not work all of the time and this also contributed to our dilemma.

 

Back in those days, river transportation was one of the main modes of travel and moving freight. My father was a pilot on the Yazoo River and also held license as a pilot on the Mississippi River. This was a most honored profession and pilots

were quite respected. Anyway, Dad’s illness kept us down to bare necessities. If I was fortunate enough to have a biscuit with a piece of bacon it for my lunch to take to school, I was indeed fortunate.  In those days, there were no school lunch rooms or free lunches for underprivileged children and many days I went without lunch.  Candy, toys, etc. were out of the question. If I had any spending money, I had to earn it. I remember one incident when I moved two tons of coal from the street into a basement and received .25 and thought I was rich.  I used to gather up scrap metal or bottles and sell them and on rare occasions, I would buy three bananas for 5 cents or 5C worth of candy which I would make last me a week. I could tell you of many other instances of denial, sacrifice, etc.

 

Maybe the strain of such rugged living conditions helped to bring on my Mother’s death which happened when L was ten years old. I went to live with my Grandmother but did not like the discipline and ran away and went to Yazoo City (I ran away from the plantation home which was two miles west of Y. C.)and went to live with my Father’s Cousin Mrs. Geo. P. Blundell, who was the wife of Dr. Blundell and I had to cut the grass, take care of the horses and go with him at night when he had calls to go to the country. I can remember one bright moon-light night when I had to get up with ice on the ground and freezing cold and hitch up the horse and accompany him ten miles into the country. When we got there some time after mid-night, we found a huge sprawling house with about twenty five neighbors and a huge log fire in a fire-place. It was after day-light when we got back home and I had to make fires in the house and get ready to go to School.

 

Mrs. Blundell had a daughter who was well educated and a mighty fine person. She undertook the task of teaching me good manners; proper conduct and many other cultural subjects. She had a great influence on my life and I will always be indebted to her for the love and help she gave me.

 

13. After living there about two years, my Grandmother had passed away and My Aunt Lizzie Johnston my Mother’s Sister) was appointed my guardian. She insisted that your Uncle Bob and I come to live with her in Jackson, Miss. Riding the train to Jackson was a thrill and then to ride the street-car up Capitol Street to our destination (which was a large colonial home on the corner of Capitol and N. Congress Street)was a greater thrill.

 

At this same time, the present “‘New Capitol’ was being constructed,-which was on the site of the old penitentiary. I watched this building rise from the foundation. However, while living with ray Aunt, I became restless and decided to quit school (I was twelve years old) and go to work.

 

My first job was errand boy for the Governor (Longino), the Secretary of State (Mr. Joe Power) the Attorney General (Mr. Bill Williams) the Department of Archives and History (Mr. Dunbar Rowland. I was making the huge salary of Thirty dollars a month. While in this job, one day, a party of tourists came to the Capitol and asked me if there was a guide who could show them thru the building. Not being busy at the time, I offered this service and when I had finished the tour, they gave me a dollar and from then on, I was in business as a guide whenever I had the opportunity.

 

After working at the Capitol for a time, I heard of a job with the Illinois Central Rail-road as a call-boy. A call-boy is a person who works all night and goes to the homes of the engineers and firemen and wakes them up in time to get to work or to relieve an engine crew whose time was up. This was necessary because, in those days, very few people had telephones (but I remember, I am getting ahead of my story because my first job was with the Western Union Tel. Co. as a messenger. I worked twelve hours a day, seven days a week and made the huge sum of $12.50 per month. Out of this amount, I purchased, on time,a second-hand bicycle for $8.00. Then, I went to work at the capitol later.)

 

Well, I got the job as call-boy for $30.00 per month but I was thrilled to be around the engines, etc. While all this was going on, My Aunt Lizzie decided to move to Clinton, a small village just ten miles West of Jackson, and the site

of Miss. College. She wanted to get me back in school and kept putting pressure on me to quit work and come back to live with her. Well, I finally gave in and quit my job in June and went to Clinton. It would be hard for you to imagine Clinton in the summer after school was out. It was really “dead”. The idleness, after the excitement of railroad work was too much of a contrast. I decided to leave and go back to work but not for the rail-road. I got a job as an elevator boy in a new hotel that was being built on the S.W. corner of Capitol and Congress.

 

I worked there before the building was finished; mopping floors, cleaning plaster off the grill work of the-elevator., etc. I will never forget how proud I was of my new uniform. However, I did not

work there long because the Manager was a Yankee. The first day the hotel was opened, I ate in the dining room with the guests; the second day, we had instructions to eat in a room next to the kitchen. This was O. K. but when the Manager issued orders that we had to eat in the kitchen with the XXXX employees that were too much. I tried to see him but was not able to do so until late one Friday

Afternoon about dark. I threw my uniform into his face and told him I did not have to eat with XXXX and he could have his job.

 

Well, I learned that there was a job open under the Yard Master of the Rail-road. It was what was known as a “switch tenders Job.

. ‘ ‘

The duties were to be at either end of yard to throw the switch to let the passenger trains come in on the right track. This was

a man’s job and I was only fifteen. Well, on Nov. 5, 1905, I went

between two cars on what is known as the “‘House Track” and a switch engine with twenty one cars was bearing down Which I did not see. I was knocked down. Fortunately the brakes were set on the two cars and ‘the force of the impact pushed me along the track (the track was level with the round) and gradually chewed my left leg until it was badly mangled and I was dragged 105 feet before the engine could stop. This was about four thirty A.M. In those days, there were no ambulances. I was carried to a platform of the passenger depot and left to await a doctor who got there about six A. M.

, .

It was necessary that I be carried on a stretcher up Capitol Street to the Jackson Sanatorium Which was behind what is now the First National Bank building. Being strong and healthy, I recovered from the operation and was up and walking around the hospital in five days.

 

After I left the hospital, I went back to Clinton and entered the preparatory dept. of Miss. College which was in fact, a high-school course. I had to complete all of this work before I could go into the college studies.

 

During this time, I was very rebellious, frustrated and indifferent to things worthwhile. This was a terrible frame of mind because I could have ruined my whole life had I continued this course. I was up before the faculty on many occasions and was on the verge of being expelled from school but some how, I hung on and managed to “get by” by listening in class but doing very little studying. I thought I was smart to out-wit the teachers. What I did not know on tests, I copied the other boy’s work and what I could not answer on examinations, I cheated. Of course, this kind of conduct was bound to be brought to a head. This was the TURNING POINT OF IN MY LIFE.

 

It was on a bright sunshiny spring morning. I had to go to the chemical laboratory to get my final grade on Chemistry; which was my first year in this subject. I found the Dean of the Chemical Dept. standing on the porch of the building as I approached. He greeted me and told me my report was in his room on the desk. He said he had about concluded that I was not sufficiently interested in this subject

to CO18 to get my report card. I went 1n to the room and when I looked at the card, 1 saw that I had failed the course by a half point.

Seventy five was passing. I walked out and said to Dr. Provine:” I see you failed me by half a point, it seems to me that you could have given me the other half point and let me pass.”

He said:” Nat, do you think you know this subject well enough to pass?” I said:” Well, ‘I know it seventy-four and one half worth ” and he said: “Do you?” And I said:” What do you mean?” He said: “Nat, why don’t you GET

WISE TO YOURSELF?” Again, I said:” What do you mean Dr.?” He said “Come in here and sit down, I want to talk to you.” We went into

the room bare floor, a plain table and two cane-bottomed chairs. He said:” Nat:, I repeat ‘why don’t you get wise to yourself’? Have you ever given any thought to where you are heading? Do you realize that you are on the brink of disaster? In my opinion, you are a smart boy and deserve to go onto a better life than what you are carving out for yourself; you are not taking advantage of your opportunities. ‘I I said “Oh, I think I can take care of myself. I think I know the score. Is this all you want to say to me?” I got up and left but as I walked down the steps the words:”WHY DON’T YOU GET WISE TO YOUSELF? began going thru my mind. I walked home in a daze but every step I took those words kept ringing in my mind. When I got home, I went to my room and locked the door and stayed there until about five P. M. I went round and round with my conduct, my lack of ambition; lack of a goal; the aimless way in which I was living from day to day.

 

During this time at Miss. College, I had formed a fast friendship with a boy named Pat .Eager. He was the Son of the Dean of the English Dept. We had rigged up a telegraph line from his house to mine, a distance of about a mile and a half. I sent his call letters over the wire and he answered. I asked him (In Morse Code) what he was doing and told him I was coming out to his house to tell him something very important. When I got there, we went into his room and closed the door. I said:” Pat, I have decided to leave Miss. College and go to Miss. A & M (later Miss. State and later Miss State University.) and get away from the environment I am now living in.’

You see, I was my own boss; I came and went as I pleased and had no regard for rules or laws. I cut classes when I felt like it, I went to Jackson against the rules of the school and did most everything but what I was supposed to do. I told Pat, I was fed up with loafing on the job, cheating on examinations, etc. and that I had concluded the best thing for me to do was to “wipe the slate clean” and start over. With out any more detail, I made arrangements to enter Miss. A~ & M (Mississippi Agricultural & Mechanical College~} in the fall of 1910. I shared a room with a boyhood friend: Boyce Bailey and “Spruce” (Jones Hamilton) Cole. I was not subject to Military duty (Miss. A & M. was strictly a military school) and while the students were out on the drill field, – I took advantage of this and did my. studying. I soon learned that with about a thousand

students and an average of about $5.00 per month each, I should do something to get a part of this “gold mine” I opened up a store in my room and sold such items as cigars, cigarettes, chewing gum candy,etc. I soon found out that soon after the boys received their money from home most of them were “broke” and wanted to borrow money. I began lending them money on the basis of 10% of the1oan as interest for a thirty day period. I was soon the possessor” of many items such as books. over coats. watches, rings, etc. Many of these items were not redeemed and I sold them at an additional profit. I also became interested in photography and made pictures of the students and sold them to them. I acquired an electric iron and began pressing uniforms for $2 each and many nights I worked until after mid-night; pressing clothe… With all of this activity, I began to acquire a surplus of money which I in turn loaned out. In this manner, I was able to pay all of my expenses and have plenty left at the end of the year.

 

As I went along, I was elected Sec. of the Sophomore Class: Treas. of the junior class. I was elected assistant Editor in Chief of the Reveille (the College Annual) and in my Senior year, I was elected Editor in Chief. Now, to back up for an experience that had quite a lot to do with my future: During my junior year, a special train was run to Birmingham for the Auburn- A & M. game. There were several “eager beavers’:’ on the train who were making notes of every infraction of the rules. They snooped on boys who went into saloons in Birmingham and when they got back to the Campus, they had quite a number of boys to report. The report caused quite a sensation and the Faculty brought each boy reported before them. After the investigation was all over, the Faculty decided that they would not take

any punishment action with the understanding that every boy  who was on the train, whether he had been reported or not, would sign a pledge to strictly obey all of the college rules for the rest of the year or they would have to face whatever punishment they deserved.’ I was not reported, because as I previously mentioned; I had “‘turned over a new leaf.” However, I signed the pledge.

 

At the beginning of my senior year, we had a new Commandant. This man was not a West Pointer but one who had come up thru the ranks to the rank of Colonel. The boys detested him. Seniors were required to report for roll call at Reveille each morning; They were not allowed to wear their new uniforms, unless they had all of their work up (some of the boys were two terms behind in some subjects such as practical or lab work and were planning to make up this work before school was out) These kind of orders made things worse. The entire student body was upset. Miss. A. & M. (being a State School) was “shot thru with politics” The President and many others, such as the Doctor, the Business Manager, the Food Dept. etc. were appointees of the Governor. The President whom the boys loved and respected, Jack Hardy, had resigned to take a similar but better paying job in Texas. The new President, Mr. Hightower, was not a College Man and knew nothing of school administration. The Vice. President of the School, Billy Magruder, was very old but the new President began to lean on him and this gave Billy a new power which he seemed to enjoy. We had five young ladies who were day-students and known as “co-eds”’.

 

A couple or maybe three of these girls were going “Steady” with a couple of seniors and in their off periods, they would go to a vacant class room to study and maybe hold hands. Billy Magruder heard about this and had issued an order that no boy would be permitted to be in the company of any of the young ladies except in the regular class room. The seniors resented this. Now before I continue with this  lets go back to another incident which was working to bring to a climax all of these incidents.

 

The Doctor, In charge of the hospital, was a brother of the then Governor E. F. Noel. He was a liquor-head and whenever a boy was feeling bad, he would write him a prescription for a “hot shot” which was a pretty strong purgative. It became common talk among the students that regardless of the ailment, all Dr. Noel knew was to series of “hot shots”. Well, one day the nurse came to Dr. Noel when he was about half drunk and told him that she had a

Very sick boy and she thought he had appendicitis; that the Dr.should examine him immediately and make arrangements to get him to Memphis for surgery. The Dr. told her to give him a couple of hot shots; said that he was like all of the others, playing sick to get out of his ‘Work”. The nurse protested but to no avail. However, she made the Dr. write out the prescription. The boy died and the student body was “up in arms”. This was quite a sad occasion. The boy

was given a full military funeral. His casket was draped in the U. S. Flag and he was placed on a caisson and a group of students pulled the caisson to the depot. After his body had been placed on the train and the train slowly moved out from the station. The Captain of the band stepped out into the middle of the track and blew “Taps” on his trumpet. Seeing that train moving slowly into the distance caused a lump to come into my throat so big that I thought I would choke to death. This, together with several other incidents caused quite a lot of unrest among the student body and when the Order of Dr.Magruder came out that no boy and girl were allowed in each other’s company on the campus there was quite a commotion. The student body went wild. I was sitting in my room studying when a messenger” came to my room and told me I was wanted in room (I forget the number) when I got there, there were about a dozen students all seniors

and they were quite incensed. They appointed a committee and I was one of them. We were instructed to draft resolutions condemning the order and demanding an apology from Dr. Magruder and a rescinding of the order. It was decided that if this was denied, we would walk out of the Chapel and not go to classes until our demands were met. The Junior, sophomore and freshmen classes did likewise. There was pandemonium on the campus. Well, the Faculty went into session and they began calling in every boy who was on that special train that went to Birmingham and who had signed the pledge. This was about three fourths of the Student body. Those who had been reported on the train, ~-were suspended. Our Committee was expelled and a complete change of my plans was necessary. I was offered a job as an algebra teacher at a county consolidated school but when I got there the man who had resigned, had reconsidered and decided to finish out the term. I then went to Jackson and entered Draughn’s Business College and began the study of bookkeeping and shorthand and typing. I soon dropped the bookkeeping as I concluded that I was not suited for this kind of work; but I did become very proficient in stenography and typing.

Later. I was offered a job of salesman for a firm known as Hebron Croxton Groc. Co. in Jackson, Miss. I traveled south to Magnolia and North to Pickens every week. I had to make some of my “jumps” in a horse and buggy. Later, I became shipping clerk for this firm and later, I became bookkeeper, shipping clerk, office manager and everything else for a Ballard & Ballard Obelisk Flour Co. It was while working for this firm that I persuaded your “Mimi” to be my wife. We were married in Capitol Street Methodist Church by Dr, Alex Watkins, and then President of Millsaps College, who was also a Methodist Minister. We were married about one P. M. on Sept. 2, 1914. We had Pat eager and john Crisler and Bill McCarty and Boyd Campbell as your Mother’s Sister: Minnie Mai, was Maid of Honor. I forget who the other bride’s maids were. We had a cab (closed) with two white horses and big white ribbon on the buggy whip and white ribbon on the doors to take us to the Railroad Station where we boarded the Illinois Central Train for Memphis. We spent our Honey- Moon at the Gayoso Hotel and we had a wonderful time.

 

Shortly after our marriage, we had to go back to Memphis as

My company needed a relief man in the Memphis office to substitute for the regular man who was sick. Later, we were sent to Jacksonville Fla. Shortly after we had been there, a depression developed and thousands of people were out of work.

 

Ballard & Ballard published a weekly paper for the benefit of its all employees and late in November an issue of this paper came to us. In big headlines and heavy type across the top of the front page, was this startling, statement: “THE MAN WHO SPENDS MORE THAN HE MAKES IS A FOOL ‘AND THE MAN WHO CONTINUES TO SPEND MORE THAN HE EARNS, BECOMES A THIEF.” I later found out that this was directed to a salesman out of our office who was courting a very rich girl and he was spending the Company’s   money trying to make an impression on her.  However, the more I thought about the statement, the more concerned I became because I knew I was spending more than I was earning which was due to a poor salary and a lot of sickness on the part of Mimi. After thinking and worrying through the night, I made a resolution that again changed my course. I wrote to the Company that I had read their paper and had come to the conclusion that I was a fool and for fear that I would become a Thief, please accept my resignation.

 

It was next June before I could get released. On our way back to Jackson with only a month’s salary in our pocket and very little cash in reserve (doctor’s bills and about eaten up my savings) we stopped in Atlanta, Ga. I purchased a White wash suit, a pair of White canvas shoes and a straw hat and the entire bill came to $8.00. Your Mimi spent an equal amount and when we arrived in Jackson, we looked quite prosperous.

 

Had it not been for Mimi’s Mother and Father, we would have had a mighty hard time. They took care of us and it was eight months before we could repay them.

I purchased the cigar stand at the Royal Hotel; that is I purchased the stock and leased the space and fixtures. The stock was old and much of it had to be thrown out and for about six months I had a real hard time, however with hard work, new stock, business gradually improved. Until it did so, I became a public: Stenographer in the Hotel and gradually worked up a nice business with this work. Incidentally, I purchased the first “Slot machine” ever brought to Mississippi and it proved a “gold mine” until it was ruled a gambling device and I had to get rid of it. This incident made me conscious that operating a cigar stand was not such a “hot” vocation and I began to look around for something more substantial. About this time a man by the name of Harry P. Dye came to me with a proposition to go partners with him and lease the Hillman Hotel in Birmingham. This appealed to me and subsequently, we leased the property and had not DK>re than gotten going good when World War One hit the U.S. Our business increased until we were doing a capacity business.

 

About this time) our chief clerk, Jim DeJarnett informed us that he was resigning to take a managerial job in Atlanta;

That he was going to open the new Cecil Hotel. This necessitated me taking over his duties. The first day I was behind the desk and I noticed a huge room full of packages) addressed to guests and stacks of mail that needed to be forwarded. When the night Clerk came on at eleven P. M.) I told him he was not looking after the forwarding of mail properly and that something should be done about it. He proceeded to tell me in no uncertain terms that he had been an hotel clerk for twenty five years and that he did not need a young squirt like me to tell him how to run his job. This surprised me so much that I couldn’t have been more

Surprised had he thrown a bucket of water in my face. However) after I got my breath, I informed him maybe he had been clerking for’ twenty five years but he was still a night clerk and I was his boss.  Of course, the reason he was so arrogant was because he knew that help was hard to get. I left the office and the, next morning when I came down to breakfast, he was sitting in the lobby waiting for me. He asked to speak to me and said:” Mr. Washburn) I have .thought all night about what you said to me and I am thoroughly ashamed but I want to tell you that your statement

waked me up and I am going to try to cash in on my experience and get a better job. Later, he informed me that he had gotten a job in South Georgia as Manager of a hotel. I have never seen or heard from him from that day to this. I learned a good lesson from this experience. I learned that when a person becomes so conceited that they think they know it all, they are riding for a fall. I also learned that “a little knowledge is dangerous”.

I also learned that the person who does not continually strive to improve themselves will not amount to much. There is an old saying: ” as long as an apple is green, it continues to grow; when it gets ripe it begins to rot”. My advice is to continue all thru life to increase your knowledge.

 

The partnership with Harry Dye was not satisfactory. I learned that he was a crook, a charlatan and many other bad traits. I had to se1l my stock to him at his price to get away from him. After selling out, we went back to Jackson for the month of December and it was then that I learned that the Great Southern Hotel lease, furniture and fixtures were for sale. A lease and purchase price was negotiated and I took over the operation in Jan. 1919. From that time until I closed the hotel on Apr. 30th, 1955 ,  many things happened too numerous to relate here. Suffice to say, the Good Lord was mighty good, and had I been

as good, things would have been much smoother. I learned that you can’t hold onto God’s hand with one hand the the Devil with the other.

 

Later, in 1919, I was invited to become a member o£ the Rotary Club of Meridian; subsequently, I served on committees, and on the Board of Directors and about 1924 was elected President. I was also honored in a similar way by the Chamber of Commerce. I helped organize the Boy Scouts in Meridian; served on committees, one of which was the committee to select the present site of the Boy Scout Camp; served on the Board and was elected President-; I also became Chairman of the Red Cross and President of the United Fund; I helped reorganize the Miss. Hotel’ Association. I was Secretary for about eight years and President for about eight years. In 1948, I was elected Secretary of the American Hotel Association and was the first Person in the South to hold an office in the National organization. I have been a member o£ the Board of Stewards of Central Methodist Church about thirty five years; was Vice President of the Board for about five years.

Was Chairman of the Commission on Stewardship and Finance for over ten years and am still a member of that important committee I was elected a member of the City Council when the City changed from the old Commission form of government to the New City Manager Plan and had a part in the many reforms and improvements that took place during my period of service. I could have been reelected had I remained in the City but we decided to move out of the hotel and purchased a home outside the City which made me ineligible. After closing the hotel, I was honored by being- asked to assume the duties of Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Mississippi Hotel Assn. and have been very active in this work

Up to this time. I was also elected Secretary Treasurer of the Newly formed Miss. Travel Council but found the work too strenuous and have tendered my resignation.  After many years of service to the Boy Scouts, I was awarded the “Silver Beaver” which is the highest award that can come to a Boy Scout Council Member. I could have gone on to District Boy Scout Work but time did not permit. I was honored by being asked to let my Rotary Club place my name in nomination for District Governor of Rotary but had to decline. I was also elected President of the Miss. Hotel Greeters of America. and there were other honors too numerous to mention. I do recall a very distinct honor in which I was chosen as “The Hotel Man of Distinction” representing Miss. at the All Southern Hotel Show in Atlanta. I was later presented with a beautiful silver tray, properly inscribed, by my own association at the Mid-South Conference in New Orleans and was presented with a silver card of “Honorary Member” of the Miss. Hotel Assn.

 

Why do relate all of these incidents? Certainly, it is not bragging- It is to let you know that even though I did not have a Mother or Father to guide and council me, I managed some way to have  an ”awakening” and when I did, I decided to do something About it.

 

January 22, 2013

Dawn Langstroth and Alexis Peters

Filed under: Entertainment — Gary Freeman @ 4:47 pm

Two of the most talented, best looking, generally nicest, 20 something girls that you have never heard of.

Dawn Langstroth

DawnLangstroth1

Dawn Langstroth

About two years ago, I had the privilege of chatting over the net with the actress Virginia Madsen who had been one of my major heart throbs for years. This took place on Twitter which at that time was in its infancy.

While speaking with Ms. Madsen, Dawn Langstroth sent her a video and asked if she knew someone in the film industry that could take her under her wing and show her the sound industry.  Dawn was the sweetest, nicest person I could ever imagine.  Listening to Dawn sing was like hearing church bells on a crisp ,Christmas morning.  All I could say was “Wow.” Turns out that she is the daughter of Anne Murray, the Canadian songbird. We chatted via the net and she was like we had known each other for years.

Dawn is still doing concerts in Canada and can be found on twitter at @dawnlangstroth . Be sure and tell her that Gary sez hey.

Her website is http://www.dawnlangstroth.com
Her art site is: http://  http://www.dawnlangstrothlaboratories.com/

(yes, she paints too….)

Alexis Peters

apeters1

Alexis Peters

Last year, I watched a thoroughly forgettable movie named Grendel on the SyFy network with Ben Kingsley, Marina Sirtis, and a host of forgettable. One who was not so forgettable was Ms. Alexis Peters. Anyone who has slept through Freshman English knows the tale of Beowulf so I will not bore you. Ms. Peters played the role of Ingrid. Ms. Peters is a drop dead gorgeous blonde with blue eyes.
She is attempting to make her role in Hollywood and has quite a starting resume. She also is the Niece of Joe Mantegna, the fine character actor. After graduation from the American Academy  of  Dramatic Arts in Hollywood in 2004. She then went on to work with the Midsummer Shakespeare Company of Oxford . Over the years, she has done Soap operas and “slasher” flicks. Like I said she is a drop dead gorgeous blonde. Hollywood is full of them.

What is not so common about Ms. Peters is that she has founded an orphanage in India.  Yup. Alice in Wonderland . Global Orphanages in India. ( http://www.volunteeringlove.org/ } She has started one and is attempting to start another.

Saturday Night Magazine explains it better than I could:

Global Orphanages, Inc is a Los Angeles based non-profit that aims to enrich the lives of children around the world by providing them the basic amenities of food, clothing and shelter and to facilitate their education, which will give them hope and tools for a better future. Global Orphanages, Inc. was founded by Alexis Peters who by chance took a trip to India that changed the course of her life.
Global Orphanages, Inc. proudly presents the opening of the Alice in Wonderland orphanage for children in Faridabad India. There are over 12.4 million orphans in India who are in desperate need of a home and hope for the future. The Alice in Wonderland Orphanage for Children currently houses 12 impoverished children and is supervised by two caregivers (husband and wife) who live in the orphanage as well.

Alice in Wonderland provides the children with food, shelter, medical care, schooling, transportation to and from school, book fees, school supplies and an opportunity to live a meaningful life. The success of this program is based solely on donations that are tax deductible.

Alexis’ Website is www.alexispeters.com

The Alice in Wonderland Website is http://www.volunteeringlove.org/alice_in_wonderland.html

With 18 million orphans wandering the streets of India, cant you do something to help?

Besides being better looking and loving cigars, Alexis is the real deal.

The Unseen Hand

Filed under: Military — Gary Freeman @ 1:43 pm

The Unseen Hand

A Personal Experience during World War II by Captain William C. Washburn, U.S. Army Air Corp., (Retired.)

(ED Note: William C. “Bill” Washburn came into my life in the summer of 1976 when he married my widowed mother. To call him a “step father” would be to do him disservice. There are fathers in this world who have twice as much time and money and do only a quarter of the fathering that Bill did for us. He didn’t give us monetary things but was always there when we needed him for anything. Through good times and bad, he was always there coaching, raising and praying but never criticizing. I could not draw up a more perfect father.

He was a tireless worker for the Lord who could always find someone who needed witnessing to. One of the first memories that I had of Bill was playing golf with him and looking around to see if he was going to hit his ball. Bill was down in a ditch with a man looking for golf balls asking if the man knew Jesus.

He was also one of the last of a dying breed known as a southern gentleman. His southern drawl was legendary and one of the things that we loved about him most. Being a southern gentleman also meant that he was always at your service for whatever you needed him for. In 20 years, I never heard him say an unkind word about anyone or anything or not respond to our calls for help. Bill passed away in July of 1996 to be with the Lord. He is and will be sorely missed.

Gary Freeman

 

Our baggage was all marked FF. we were told that this meant extra fast. I had been on duty as an advanced flying instructor at Spence Field, Moultrie, Ga. A young second lieutenant just a few weeks out of cadet training, when the orders came through. From the very beginning of my flight training, I had been earmarked as an instructor.

 

“No combat for me”, I thought. “Anyway, I’m too old, they wouldn’t want me.” I was then pushing 27 years old. Many of my friends the same age were now Majors and comparatively uneventful role of training cadets.

 

The orders came unexpected. From across the entire training command, men of better than average abilities and experience were selected. I was one of two second lieutenants from my group. The rest were first lieutenants, Captains and Majors. We were all assembled at Tallahassee, Florida for an accelerated course in combat training, a course normally taking from eight to twelve weeks, which we were to receive in four.

 

Following this stepped up period of intensive indoctrination, we were all assembled at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, where we were given the classification of FF. Little did we realize at the time that we were scheduled as replacements following the operations of D-day. This was the reason for the more experienced men, those who could adjust more rapidly, and assimilate and digest the tremendous amount of information necessary in so short a period of time. Looking back, I cannot help but feel a surge of pride in having been chosen for such a mission.

I knew very little of war. As a young boy, I had always shunned fights, being more of a peace lover. However, I remember if I was pushed far enough, or if the occasion demanded, I would fight but only as an absolutely necessity. One of my best friends in grammar school had been a little cross eyed Jewish boy that everyone else picked on. I defended him on day in a real wham-bang fight. He has been my fast friend ever since.

On the boat going over, I tried to think as little as positive of what the future held. However, as I stepped off the boat in Liverpool, England, I seemed to realize just how big a thing this was I was facing. For the first time in my life I began to think about myself, my life and what it was I wanted out of life. There was one thing that overwhelmed me completely. I WANTED TO LIVE, TO SEE AMERICA AGAIN, MY HOME AND LOVED ONEDS. Again the feeling that this thing was too big for Claiborne Washburn to handle or at least not alone. For the first time in my life, it suddenly dawned on me that the only one who could handle something this big was god, and from that moment on I knew that I must make contact with him.

 

We went though another combat indoctrination, just two weeks before D-Day. This is where we began to lose some of our men. I remember a very fine man, Captain Fling, was killed during this period. He and I had spent much time together on the boat coming over. It was during this last phase of training that made up my mind to place my trust, my very life in the hands of God. It gave me a great deal of peace, so that I could do my flying to the best of my ability and leave the rest to him.

 

The first mission I flew occurred on the 12th day of June, 1944. My friend, Anse Daese and I had joined the 371st fighter-bomber group of the Ninth Air Force. Our squadron commander was a tall, lean Texan named Casey. As I studied this fine looking specimen of man good, I just knew I had the right man to lead me into combat. Just before taking off, sitting at the head of the run-way awaiting my turn, I bowed my head in the cock-pit of my plane, a p-47 Thunderbolt fight. I’ll never forget that prayer, because it became a part of my routine cock-pit check prior to taking off on my 125 missions.

 

One day, on the Normandy beach head, I had an experience never t be forgotten. We were bivouacked <camped> in an apple orchard near St. Mere Eglise. I had gone to a great deal of trouble to dig a very elaborate fox hole. A few nights before a German FW 190 had bombed and strafed our area, and it had caught me sleeping under an apple tree. The next day, I went to work on my own fox hole and by the time, I had finished it was the biggest and deepest in the whole outfit!

 

On a beautiful day in lat June 1944, with not a cloud in the sky and the sun shining brightly, I stepped from my fox hole. Suddenly a great light shone all around me. I was all alone with not a soul around me. I knew it was God. It was as though all heaven itself had descended upon me I felt a great peace within me.

 

My mother had written me how she and many others in our church back home had been praying for me. I thought that God was calling me to preach, and this in itself scared me to death. I had never thought very much of myself, had always been somewhat reticent, timid and retiring. I remember throwing my head back, steeling myself, clinching my fists and resisting the wonderful, holy presence with every fiber of my being. After all, I couldn’t preach, and anyway, there were so many men a lot more capable than I was. Imagine me telling God what to do!

 

Looking back, I know that all he wanted was to come in my heart. All he wanted was me. What power there was in that presence, what love, and what understanding and God came to me.

 

I continued to fly through everything that the enemy could throw at me uninjured. What is more remarkable, I always brought my plane back to our base, at times, in absolutely in unflyable condition. There was one mission, my fifth, while we were flying across France that I caught a direct hit by an 88 caliber shell in my left wing, exploding in my gun bay. The hole was enormous. The short stubby wing of the fighter left little room for such a big hole.

I had been hit over the village of Cherbourg and headed directly for the channel. At fire wall and somehow miraculously, I stayed aloft. I managed to keep my air speed around 200 miles per hour because at any speed below that the ship tended to stall. It was not possible to bank the aircraft at anything more that 10 degrees. I had to circle far out beyond the white cliffs of Dover over the channel and to make a straight in landing, and taxing back to the hanger. The plane looked more like a kitchen sieve than an aircraft. I climbed out and they gave it a classification of class 26 while I was standing there. Classification 26 means junk.

 

In the early part of December, my squadron had moved from Dole, France to Tauntonville, a small town about 10 miles outside the city of Tauntonville, a small town about 10 miles outside the city of Nancy. It was during this stay that I flew The Mission, the events of which are absolutely unbelievable, and even now as I write this sound like fiction

.

We were bivouacked in a small town hotel. Christmas came and out soon to be squadron commander, Carson Robinson of Jackson, Mississippi, had us go into and woods and found the biggest tree we could. We cut the bottom out of tin cans, strung pop corn and made other hand made ornaments. I do believe that this was the nicest Christmas that I can remember. I taught the fellows how to make show ice cream using generous portions of powdered milk, one of the few things we had in a abundance.

 

It was during the this period that one of our newest recruits (I found out later that he was a PK or Preacher’s Kid) Monte Davis of Union, Mississippi, began to work on me about getting up a bunch of fellows to go to church on Sunday night. I was reluctant at first but Monte kept on and so we went. Oh, how I needed this spiritual refreshment. And those wonderful hymns, “Abide with me”, and “Sweet Hour of Prayer” were two of the chaplain’s favorites. I just thank God for the Monte Davises of this world and can’t help but think how much we need them today.

 

We had gone up on an armed reconnaissance mission with Col. Robby Robinson leading the mission. Enemy aircraft had been reported in the vicinity of Landau, and Robby was determined to find them. He had given strict orders for us to stay together during this period of almost certain contact with the enemy. However,  after more than an hour of hunting it because apparent that there was no ME109s to be found. Suddenly while flying at 12,000 feet loaded with bombs, I looked down through the clouds over Landau. There pulling into town was the longest train that I had ever seen. We knew that Landau was a heavily fortified German stronghold and it been our top priority for a number of occasions for targeting.

Leaving the formation, [I was leading the flight], I beckoned my wing man to follow. We streaked toward the oncoming train. I flicked on my gun sight which was our means of sighting the target on a bomb drop. There was practically no wind which meant I had to make very little correction. The air speed of my plane built up to 600 mph and was still climbing. I trimmed the ship, made one last minute correction, and pulled the bomb release. I felt in my bones, it was a good drop and looking back, it seemed that I had knocked out the locomotive pulling the train.  Somehow, I knew that this was not enough for such a “juicy” target.

 

p47-4

P47 Thunderbolt escorting B17.

 

At this moment, a voice spoke to me. It was just as though someone was riding in the cockpit with me. I know now that there was. Clear as a bell, the voice said to me “Get back upstairs.” As casually as I was actually talking to someone, I said “No, I haven’t finished my duty.” That was all and nothing more. I made my circling turn to come back along the train. My air speed dropped sharply in the process of making the turn. I remember seeing 350 on the air speed indicator which is like being a sitting duck so close to the ground. Halfway through the turn, I spotted the German Flak car at the end of the train.

 

tru_1511_title

German WWII Flak Car

It was too late to turn back and we both opened fire simultaneously. My eight machine guns raked down the train as far as I could see. Almost immediately, he had me in his sights, and there was no escape. I steeled myself for the blows to come. His gun fire was absolutely devastating. He was loaded with 88mm, 40mm,20mm and machine guns and all were synchronized with me in the middle. I could see the tracers arcing toward me. Such a fantastic number and for each one I could see I knew that there were four or five that I couldn’t.

 

Flying at tree top level, I caught the full force of his firepower. My ship caught fire and I was thrown into an upside down position. As I was being flipped on my back by this hail or raw steel, I was conscious of the fire being smothered out, as if someone had thrown a blanket on it. I knew I had to do something to get out of this position, upside down at less than 100 feet altitude. Had there been a house or tree, I would never have made it. Luckily, for me, it was level ground for some distance. I kicked the rudder hard right and at the same time moved my stick sharply to the right. This maneuver normally would snap a plane back into the upright position but that is not the way that this happened. It was though a large unseen hand, as if playing with a toy, moving slowly and yet surely righted the big fighter. I had a strong urge to keep the aircraft down close to the ground, and instead of pulling up and bailing out, I headed toward the city of Landau at weed top level. In this way, the men behind me would not shoot at me for fear of hitting the city and the guns at the city would not fire for fear of hitting the train.

 

I checked my oil pressure. It seemed to be holding up; nevertheless, I stayed at tree top level for the next 30 minutes all the way to the base. In some way, I managed to get the ship on the ground for a safe landing and brought it to a stop at the end of the runway.

After taxiing back to my hanger, the commanding officer of the base came out to see what had caused the emergency landing procedure. He took one look at my plane and I heard the familiar “class 26.” The plane was literally shot to pieces. Almost the entire tail section had been show away, and we could eight cylinders in the big Pratt and Whitney engine that had been completely shot out.  When I tried to explain to the CO the position of my aircraft upside down at 100 feet, he wouldn’t believe it. “Look at your tail;, he said, “it’s all shot away. You would need your elevators and stabilizers to get out of such a position.”  I replied, “Well, Colonel, that’s the way it was and the position I was in.”

 

I continued to fly until the end of the war. And I lead my squadron on its last mission against Nazi Germany which was flown on May 2, 1945. As far as I can determine, this was the last combat mission of any group flown in the European theatre during World War II.

 

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield, “Psalms 84:11. “He delivereth and rescueth and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.” Daniel 6:27.

 

Just as he delivered Daniel from the jaws of death in the lions den, even so he delivereth me from certain death that bright and sunny day over Landau , France. He gave my life back to me. Truly, he is the same yesterday, today and forever. He has become the best friend that I have ever had or ever hope to have. I commend my Lord to you.

 

January 21, 2013

Off to the Inauguration

Filed under: Economics,Uncategorized — Gary Freeman @ 9:08 am

Well, we were going to see the President get sworn in but after we checked our paycheck, we only had enough for a moon pie and a RC Cola…..

December 31, 2012

Reese and Jennifer

Filed under: Entertainment — Gary Freeman @ 9:54 pm

If you have been around me or talked to me for any length of time, you will notice that I am high on two particular performers. Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Nettles.
Reese has always seemed to me to be the ultimate southerner. When asked what she was going to do with her Golden Globe award, she said, “I’m sure my kids will drive it around in their trucks.” Hard not to like someone who has their priorities straight. I find it also interesting that she tried very hard to get out of Walk the Line because she had this fear of singing. (Evidently, she had gone to a camp when she was 12 and was told never to sing again.) I listened to her and Joaquin sing “Jackson” and then listened to Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash sing the same song. Johnny Cash is Johnny cash. Hard to top that although I can definitely appreciate Joaquin’s effort. However, I think Reese actually sounded better. You can definitely tell that she is laying on the southern accent but I find it interesting that she still talks with one when she is not on the screen. Like Nichole Kidman who speaks plain American English until the camera is not on and then has such a heavy Australian accent you can barely understand her.
At 15 million a picture and averaging 2 pictures a year, you figure that she can afford a baby sitter for Eva and Deacon. Not so. She totes them around everywhere. Ok, I’m sorry but it seems to me that Ryan Philippe got the best end of that deal by marrying Reese. Remember his last picture? Crash with Sandra Bullock last year. It made $5.61 world wide maybe.
He also had that infamous crack about Reese doing all the talking because she made more money.
Onto Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland. I got on the bandwagon watching CMT like a lot of other people. It has always seemed to me that she got a heck of a lot more face time than Kristin Hall and Christian Bush. I did a little research and it seems that Hall and Bush and Nettles, all three had a solid club career. Bush and Hall got together and said that they wanted to try for a “bigger” career. They approached Jennifer (who had the Jennifer Nettles Band) and asked her to be the “voice.” When I got to watch CMTs Country Crossroads with Sugarland and Bon Jovi, it was obvious that Jennifer had “lapped” Hall and Bush either unintentionally or intentionally. She and Bon Jovi did some duets that were just fantastic and it appeared to a uninformed viewer that Hall and Bush were in the background throughout. Maybe that is what they wanted. Maybe not. In any case, yesterday, Kristian Hall dropped the other shoe and decided to end her “career” and stay at home and write songs. Now, Ms. Hall writes great songs (ie. “Baby Girl”, “Make me Believe”, etc.) but it seems to me that even I (as modest as I am ) would like to have more than one line in 60 minutes of concert when there is only three of you. Now Jenn and Hall will tour as Sugarland which to the world at large will appear to be Jennifer Nettles and some guy playing the mandolin.

My Last New Year’s Eve

Filed under: Seasonal — Gary Freeman @ 4:18 pm

December 31, 2012

Well, its December 31, 2012. The year that we were all supposed to vaporize and go bye-bye. I almost got to go as I recall.
On December 30, 2011, I had my usual fare of Famous Nathan’s hotdogs and went to bed by 10:30. By 11:30, I knew something was amiss. I couldn’t catch my breath. Very bad feeling.
So I woke up my blessed mother and got her to talk to me which usually got me calm enough to go to sleep. We talked for about 30 minutes and I told her that I would try to go to sleep. I hung up and it wasn’t working. I couldn’t catch my breath. Breathing is kind of a necessity nowadays. So I called her back and asked her if she could drive me to the hospital.
Made it to the hospital (Baptist) and they took me into the ER. Even though I had been to the hospital three times with the same problem this time they told me that I had an “Incident”. I think this means that I had a heart attack. My second. I got to have some additional stints put in. I believe this put me up to four or five stints in the system. There was a log jam in one of the arteries but the Doctor couldn’t get it with the sharp wire (coat hanger?) he was using.
I got to go to Cardiac ICU for three or four days. What a joy that was. I got to learn how to use a bedpan and met some really awesome nurses. One of whom got into the bed with me and showed me how to use the bedpan. Ah, Good times.
I finally got to go to the regular floor with the rest of the cardiac patients.
There I got to meet a truly spectacular individual. Ms. Jerri Leigh Wooten. Jerri Leigh is a cardiac nurse at the Baptist Hospital. A graduate of the University of Mississippi, smart as a whip and a damn fine nurse, her biggest strength is compassion. She doesn’t do it for the money because I believe her daddy may have some. She truly loves people and it shows.Jerri Leigh Jerri Leigh Wooten. Deceased Deer.

I spent a lovely three weeks with Jerri Leigh in the Baptist. And then another three months on Disability.
I tell you all this to tell you how my last new years went.

December 24, 2012

Letter from Afghanistan

Filed under: Military — Gary Freeman @ 7:23 pm

My KidsThis is an older letter but it is to remind you to think of our guys on Christmas Eve. gvf

This letter was copied from Military.com without their permission but I wanted to share it with the world….

The following letter was sent to DefenseWatch by a regular reader. It was written by a USMC Lt. Col. to a retired USMC Major General as the Marine was departing . It offers an insightful, first-hand account of the brave and unfortunate demise of a U.S. Navy SEAL team wiped out while deep in enemy territory on a clandestine mission sometime around June 28, 2005. The  SEAL team disappeared just before a Special Forces helicopter carrying reinforcements to a mountainous area in eastern Kunar province was shot down June 28, killing all 16 Americans on board. It was the deadliest single attack on the U.S. military since the war began in Afghanistan in 2001. No editing effort for either grammar or punctuation was applied for the sake of authenticity- Editor

Hello every one, I am heading home soon. Here is my final update.

FINAL UPDATE

Hello everyone, this is my final update. Let me start by telling you that I am in excellent health and in good spirits. I apologize for not keeping you informed these last few months but our operational tempo was too high and our operational security did not allow me to share with you what missions we were conducting. When I return home I hope to sit down and write about our spring offensive here. However I will share with you that my team in Farah captured Mullah Sultan who was a mid level Taliban leader and a target that we had been searching for several months. He is still being interrogated in Afghanistan but should be making the long journey to GITMO (providing it is still open) very soon. I will be home in a couple of weeks and plan to have a party around Labor Day weekend so please mark you calendars because I would love to see you there. This update will be extremely short but I do want to close it by telling you some insight about the SEAL Team and Night Stalker tragedy that occurred a few weeks ago. By now you have heard a lot about what happen but I really want share how significant that event was to the soldiers on the ground here and to explain in my opinion why I feel it is important that all Americans continue the fight for freedom.

Before I explain what happen to the SEALs, I want to thank you all for your prayers, emails, care packages, yard work and all the things that you did for me in my family while I have been deployed. The support from my friends and neighbors has been incredible and humbling. Your support has helped me to endure this incredibly long year and to concentrate on what I was doing here with minimum worrying about Pam and “A”. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

The Naval Special Forces (NAVSOF) team that was involved in the operation in Kunar Province had been traveling throughout Afghanistan conducting apprehend or kill missions against Al Qaeda and Taliban operatives. They had worked with us for two weeks, three weeks before the events on June 28. While working with our teams, they attempted to take out a high value Taliban target and missed him by hours. This operation was conducted in the Zerico Valley which has been one of our hot spots. We provided the outer ring security for the SEALs with Afghan National Army soldiers and ETTs while the SEALs conducted the compound assault. We missed the big target but did get some mid level guys so the mission was not a total bust. The NAVSOF guys are the best of the best, not cocky simply professionals in every way, we call them operators.
SEALS operate throughout Afghanistan using their unique skills to intredict  Taliban operations and movement. They own the night
On June 28 a four man SEAL reconnaissance team was trying to locate Taliban in the dense mountainous and forested area of the Kunar Province of Afghanistan. They were trying to identify routes that the bad guys use to enter from Pakistan . The targeting information would be used to direct U. S. and Afghan forces who would interdict and destroy those enemy forces. The SEALs were spotted and engaged by a large force of Taliban some where between 25-50 insurgents. The Taliban who are still alive and fighting in Afghanistan are very good combatants. Unlike Iraq Arabs, they are not suicidal and they use good small unit tactics. The bad guys used Rocket Propel Grenades (RPGs), mortars and small arms to attack the SEALs. The team set up a 360 degree defense and called in Hornet Nest (troops in contact) back to their operational base. The command and control headquarters for U. S. Forces in Afghanistan moved a Predator unmanned drone over the battle location. The SEALs were located by the predator by their locator beacon and the inferred camera system of the drone. The headquarters could see that the TEAM was encircled by bad guys and that the enemy was too close to the SEALs to use Air force close air support. A weather front was rapidly coming into the area and the SEAL Commander a Lieutenant Commander ask permission to launch his quick reaction force to go rescue his men. The commander of TF 160th (the Night Stalkers) agreed to fly the mission. The Night Stalkers are the Army’s Special Operations air wing. They specialize in high risk insertion and extraction at night. It was not night fall yet and the command hesitated because sending the special operation birds into the area in the light was very risky. The Generals look at the screen that was giving a live feed of the fire fight, they saw that the SEALs were surrounded, they did not see a way for them to escape, a weather front was coming, it was dusk but not dark yet and time for the trapped men was running out.

Leadership requires having the guts to make a decision, based on analysis and forethought. You must totally recognize the risk and be ready to accept the results. The general in charge made the right call, he had to try to rescue the operators, we as American soldiers cannot leave our people on the battlefield, every sailor and Soldier has to know that when you go down range and things go wrong keep fighting and help will come.

The decision was made, two CH 47 Pave Hawk helicopters headed toward the SEALs. The CH 47 is a large aircraft but it is fast for a helicopter, able to fly at 170 knots. The aircraft entered the mountains flying at 50 feet above the ground with 16 men aboard. All four SEALs were still alive and fighting an unbelievable battle. As the lead bird approached the landing zone they started to slow down and the air speed dropped under 100 Knots, another group of Taliban, not engaged in the initial firefight but in the area saw the aircraft and open fire with small arms and RPG’s. The lead aircraft was hit by a RPG but the aviator kept the bird in the air. They were in the mountains; therefore there was no clear place to land. He flew for about a mile and saw a ledge that he could try to put the bird down on. The CH 47 landed on the ledge hard, they almost made it. The hard landing and the palpitations of the rotors were too much for the small landing zone and weak ground. It was their time, the aircraft rolled off of the ledge on to its side and down the mountain into the valley below. 8 SEALs and 8 aviators from TF 160th were gone.

The other aircraft could not land in the hot landing zone and were called back. There was not enough time to try to secure the area because the weather front moved in and night fall fell. The SEALs kept fighting and used the cover of darkness to crawl out of the initial enemy lines. The SEALs were engaged again and had a running gun battle for over two hours. The SEAL that survived was knocked unconscious by a mortar round and found that he was alone when he woke up. Two of his team members were dead close by, and the last team member was missing. They had dropped all none essential gear during their escape therefore all contact with them was lost. Eventually the surviving SEAL ran into a villager who took him to his house. That shepherd, at great risk to himself, protected the SEAL until he could be moved six hours away to the nearest U. S. forces that the villager was aware of.

The loss of the operators really broke the hearts of all us deployed down range. Losing men of that quality and dedication is bad enough one at a time, but to lose so many, so fast was hard to comprehend. But after the shock had worn off and we got the true story of what happen we took solace. You see every one did what they supposed to on that day, the SEAL recon team kept fighting, the SEAL commander went to get his shipmates, the Night Stalkers volunteered to fly in to harms way to rescue their brothers in arms and the generals had the guts to make the right decision. That is all you can ask for out here, it is what it is and everything else is god’s will. I have had the pleasure of serving with some unbelievable men and woman in the last year. Folks from 18 to 59 (yes 59). It has been an honor. I really appreciated America before I came to Afghanistan but this experience has truly opened my eyes to how bless my life has been. Folks I know this is a clich?, but freedom is not free. Embrace it, respect it and don’t ever stop fighting for it. These people over here are far from free, but we have given them a taste of it. We need to ensure that we don’t give up the fight because to do so would be to dishonor all the men and woman who have died to ensure we remain free. Freedom is contagious, with it, out goes tyranny. The evil people that attack America on September 11th were not free because if they were, they would not have cared what another’s persons beliefs are they would simply accept them for what they are and moved on. Please continue to pray for all the soldiers in Afghanistan and  Iraq , don’t stop praying for me because I am still here, and your prayers have been working so keep it up, I don’t to mess up a good thing. I will be home soon, god bless you all, god bless America and thanks again, goodbye Cheers, George

December 20, 2012

Christmas Cheer to all!!

Filed under: Seasonal — Gary Freeman @ 2:51 pm

(Note: I didn’t write this. But it says what I feel about the Christmas party circuit. GF)

 

I hate aspects of this time of year. Not for its crass commercialism and forced frivolity, but because it’s the season when the food police come out with their wagging fingers and annual tips on how to get through the holidays without gaining 10 pounds.
1. About those carrot sticks. Avoid them. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they’re serving rum balls.
2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it’s rare. In fact, it’s even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can’t find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It’s not as if you’re going to turn into an eggnogaholic or something. It’s a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It’s later than you think. It’s Christmas!
3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.
4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or whole milk. If it’s skim, pass. Why bother? It’s like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.
5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people’s food for free. Lots of it. Hello? Remember college?
6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.
7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don’t budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes. You can’t leave them behind. You’re not going to see them again.
8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don’t like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?
9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it’s loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards, mate.
10. And one final tip: If you don’t feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven’t been paying attention. Reread tips. Start over. But hurry! Cookieless January is just around the corner.

(PS. I didn’t write this…..Sorry but its priceless…..

December 18, 2012

Children of the Corn Part II

Filed under: Education — Gary Freeman @ 3:59 pm

Children of the Corn , Part II

We got back on the bus and started rolling toward our primary destination. North Park Mall. Mall to the Stars. Where all field trips go. Next time, I am going to Renaissance. I swear to goodness.

Anyway, we got to the mall and pulled around to the back next to the food court. Literally, there were seven school buses and two charter buses. Evidently some sort of choir competition.. Somewhere. Our 20 kids were outmatched. They were mannerly, courteous, quiet and I was so very, very proud of them.

All the other kids on the other hand were loud, spoiled , etc. When it comes to the real things that matter, our kids rose to the challenge. They ate everything at the mall, down to the morter between the joints. Three cooks crawled away to die from exhaustion and still they ate. What they couldn’t eat, they took back to the high school. Governor Bryant declared it a “National Disaster Area.” Mostly due to the excess wrappers on the mall floor.

All things considered it was fabulous trip and it was all due to our friend and colleague, Carol Anne Drane who works in Simpson county at the Votec Center. Thanks Carol Anne. We love you and miss you!

GVF

Children of the Corn go to the Airport.

Filed under: Education — Gary Freeman @ 2:32 pm

Last Friday, Mr. Richard Austin and I took 20 of Canton’s finest students to the Mississippi Air National Guard base located at the Jackson/Evers International Airport. (This ironically is in Pearl, MS) We had a school bus that came with built in candy wrappers ,36 kinds of gum on the floors and crash seats with no seat belts. It did have a video player that would play only videos of me and the kids. (Assuming I guess that I would either beat them or they would beat me. Neither happened.)

The directions to the base were take the first LEFT on the road. We did this and missed the turn by more than a mile. Turns out it was the first RIGHT. (Remind me never to call in a bomb strike from these guys. They appear to be directionally challenged.)

We finally pulled up to the gate and were met by two young airmen both with sidearms loaded. (Maybe they have heard of my kids??) They directed us to the “Big” Parking lot and after following the road and some cryptic signs we found the BIG Lot.
Observation #1: They don’t park the big planes (C17s, if you are into that sort of thing) (We have 9 of the things at $261 million a copy) near the school buses. We walked for two days and three nights and I felt like a cross between the Hulk and Daniel Boone. OK, I guess it was 3/4 of a mile to get to the actually planes. It just felt a lot longer.

There was something about potential terrorists flying in the military airplanes so we just walked around and looked at the cargo area of a representative plane. It was a lot like looking at a really, really big trunk. (It will hold 4 Greyhound buses. No word on how many school buses it will hold.) We took a bunch of pictures with the airmen so you can see how your tax dollars get spent.

And the trip was over. We then walked back to the bus and I got about half way back and the wheels came off, and the bear jumped on my back. As fans of mine know, I was blessed with interstitial lung disease a while back. I have a tendency to run out of oxygen. My legs started burning, my back burning and I had to lean down and put my hands on my knees.

Observation #2: The worst kids are always the ones that help you first. I don’t know why this is. It just is. They got me back to the bus and we were off to the Mall for lunch.

Children of the Corn at the Airport...

Children of the Corn at the Airport…

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