Born Under a Wanderin’ Star

In “Paint Your Wagon” Lee Marvin sings “I was born under a wanderin’ star” as he is leaving town. The town was destroyed when he and Clint Eastwood’s tunnel plan collapsed representing another dream “which with any luck will never come true”.


Most of my adult life I have been zig zagging like a wanderin’ star in an infinite universe of hope and dreams. Before one dream would have time to come true I would be roaming on down the road reaching for the next.

Until recently risk was my life and somehow interwoven into every dream. I spent most of my time seeking the thrill of victory and gambling with the agony of defeat. Money games provided an easy fix for my gambling addiction.

It all began at a small home poker game in 1983. We played every week . . . “just for fun”.  When football season kicked off I decided I would start taking small wagers on game outcomes from my poker game friends . . . “just for fun”. Our poker group broke up after about a year, but I continued to take bets on sporting events.

Ten Years Later

In March 1993 what started out “just for fun” was only hours away from a surprise visit by government authorities possessing interstate gambling and  racketeering search warrants.

I received a tip via a third party the planned raid would take place the next day . . . the day of the NCAA national basketball championship game.  Ironically, the person who delivered the tip to me was a member of our original home poker game whom I hadn’t seen in a long time.

After 10 years “just for fun” had become a very profitable full time business and the NCAA Championship game was second only to the Super Bowl in sports wagering action. Shutting down would mean an end to the easy money.  I had no choice. It was time to roam.

Starting Over

When I returned the next week I was a retired bookie with no pension plan. I was very lucky to have avoided the front page of the Pampa News and embarrassing my parents and other family members . . .not to mention the possibility of spending time in a place where”roaming” would not be allowed.

I stopped gambling for six years and built a respectable health insurance business, but after a divorce, deaths of 3 family members (a daughter and both my parents), and a business failure I started roaming and found myself again playing games with money. This time it was a card game called Texas Hold’em.

Pampa High School Class of 1969 – 40 Year Reunion

I started playing “just for fun”, but stakes soon escalated to provide the needed fix for my addiction. By the time I attended our Pampa High School Class of 1969 Reunion in June 2009 I was spending 12 or more hours a day playing online as well as traveling to play in live games. Nothing else was important. My life was controlled by an addiction to taking risk.

My 40th reunion was an awesome experience. Over half of our living graduating class returned. I was forced to stop and smell the roses (actually hamburgers and steaks). Some returning classmates went all the way back to first grade. I had a shot of Patron with the girl I had my first Saturday afternoon coke date with half a century ago.  We were just kids and our grandmother’s took us to a movie.  She had forgotten about it until I reminded her.

A Classmate Passes Away

The last day of the reunion one of our classmates who was not at the reunion passed away of a heart attack. I knew him in 1983 as a man of integrity. He was a member of our original home poker game. My “just for fun” business began the night he and I made a small private bet on a televised football game. I hadn’t talked to Ronnie Parsley in over 25 years, but the memories were as vivid as if we had talked yesterday.

The timing of Ronnie’s death (the exact time as our reunion) had a stunning impact on me. I came home and emptied my online poker accounts. I sold a $2,100 seat I already owned in a scheduled live tournament for a $500 discount because I no longer wanted to play money games. It was an amazing spiritual experience that not only stopped me in my tracks, but set me moving in a new direction.

Today I am committed to creating and developing websites as places to share touching stories about people we love in common. Researching and writing content keeps my thoughts away from my addiction and at the same time helps me discover secrets I have been hiding from myself. Remembering friends I have said “goodbye forever” to like Phillip Long and Rickey Marson helps me see how very fortunate I am to have lived this long . . . all things considered. Reflecting on things that influenced us growing up helps me know now what I didn’t know then. Sometimes I write “just for fun”. (I try to be careful with that one.)


Today I am roaming again.  I never know what story will weave itself onto these pages.

Three days mingling with classmates at the 40 year reunion of Pampa High School Class of 1969 was a joyful event, but stories can take a lifetime to live . . . a long time to remember . . . and sometimes a shot of Patron.

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When He Comes in the Midst of the Storm

Above is a video captured during super typhoon Ruby on December 7, 2014.  The person who shot the video claims it is authentic.  Others say it is a hoax.

A UFO is reportedly flying around in the midst of a super storm. Regardless of the validity of the UFO, it is only a small part of an amazing supernatural event that happened that day.

Over a million people had been evacuated from 160 kilometers of Philippines coastlines.  It was the largest evacuation in Philippines history.

In metro Manila 12 million people were on alert and waiting the arrival of a direct hit from Ruby.  More than 25 million people (about 1/4 of the Philippines population) were in the projected direct path.  We were being told to prepare for major flooding, loss of electricity, and structural damage from winds gusting to more than 200 mph.

People rushed to stock up on food leaving the shelves of some grocery stores virtually bare.  People who had AM radios were buying plenty of backup batteries in case radio was the only way to hear vital communications.  Some media outlets were projecting a catastrophic outcome.

Ruby made landfall and did significant damage early on and over 100 people were killed. Then something supernatural happened.  The eye slowed to a pace of only a few miles per hour and began to calm down.  Within 12 hours Ruby had dropped from a category 5 super typhoon to a category 2 storm.

Ruby then veered left and avoided a direct hit on the most populated area of the Philippines, metro Manila,  where 12 million people were on alert.  The storm’s new path went over Occidental Mindoro . . . about 100 miles south of Manila.

By the time it arrived in Occidental Mindoro Ruby was only a mild tropical storm with winds averaging 30 mph or less.  The projected heavy rainfall ended up being a couple of inches at most.  Desiree Masagca lives in Occidental Mindoro and captured this amazing picture of Ruby passing over.

When He Comes in the Midst of the Storm

When He Comes in the Midst of the Storm

“When the storm gets so rough . . . Jesus says that’s enough. When He comes in the midst of the storm.” – Vern Jackson

So what does all of this have to do with supernatural?

Let’s assume the UFO is a hoax.  I always assume everything I read on the internet is false unless proven. (Where “Fake News” Comes From – The Art of Bull Shit)  If a hoax the video becomes pointless, but the supernatural event still occurred.

I offer my supernatural explanation.

All over the world souls were praying for God to spare the Philippines.  Millions of Filipinos were calling on God to “Please spare us another tragedy.”

I think if the UFO was not a hoax God may have sent down an angel.  The angel could have checked things out and speedily reported back to God.

Regardless of what the UFO was, within moments a super typhoon began to stop as if by command.  Of all the models the weather forecasters were looking at . . . stopping was not among them.  I believe what happened with typhoon Ruby was a miracle from a supernatural God.

The UFO may have been an angel.  Perhaps not. Only God knows (and the perpetrator if it was a hoax). Regardless, it does not matter.

Thank you God for calming the storm.  Thank you for sparing this humble country I have grown to love from another devastating tragedy.

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Merry Christmas

Marvin David Webster

Merry Christmas from Marvin David Webster

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Gill Rosenberg: Person of Interest – Fighting the Islamic State?

Gill Rosenberg

Gill Rosenberg says she has her sights set on killing members of the Islamic State.

Gill Rosenberg, a 31-year-old Israeli-Canadian woman, made headlines last month when she travelled to Iraq and then on to Syria in early November, purportedly to join Kurdish forces in their fight against the Islamic State (IS).

The former member of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) was reported Sunday to have been captured by IS in Syria.  The Jerusalem Post, an Israeli newspaper, reported Islamist websites were claiming IS militants had kidnapped Rosenberg.  Canada’s CTV News broke the story in Canada and within minutes the USA mainstream media had reported the abduction claims.

Those reports were possibly put to rest Monday afternoon after a post on her Facebook page told friends she was safe.  The post was made around 3:30 p.m. ET Monday afternoon.

“Guys, I’m totally safe and secure. I don’t have Internet access or any communication devices with me for my safety and security. I can’t reply regularly and only happened to have a chance to log in and see these buklshit (sic) news stories. Ignore the reports I’ve been captured.”

It is possible the updates could have been made from her mobile phone by someone claiming to be her (captors), but friends are reportedly optimistic and hoping she will send some verifiable proof she is OK soon.

Rosenberg indicated on her Facebook account that her birth date is Nov. 12, 1983.  The 31-year-old Canadian-Israeli who is originally from White Rock, B.C., attended King David High School in Vancouver. She studied aviation at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, according to her Facebook page, before going on to work as a civil aviation pilot and emigrating to Israel.

Rosenberg indicated she was a member of the IDF, the search-and-rescue unit of the Israeli army, from 2006 to 2008 and posted several photos of herself in uniform.

Gill Rosenberg

Gill Rosenberg poses for a photo in Jerusalem in 2007, when she was in the Israeli Defence Forces. Two years later she was arrested for her role in an international phone scam. (Facebook)

In 2009, Rosenberg reportedly was arrested and extradited to the U.S for her role in a lottery telemarketing scheme based in Israel in which 11 members conspired and stole over $8 million from elderly victims in the United States between 2007 and July 2009. FBI files labeled the group con artists who used every trick in the book to swindle elderly victims in the United States out of their hard-earned savings.”

The Jerusalem Post reported Rosenberg helped blow the scheme’s cover, when she contacted an undercover police officer and told the agent she had won $500,000, but had to transfer $4,200 “in fees to Israel.” 

Rosenberg consented to extradition and plead guilty to her involvement in the scam. She served four years in a U.S. prison under a plea bargain, according to court documents. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons lists a Gillian Chealsea (sic) Rosenberg as having been released from prison on Nov. 27, 2013.

Israel’s NRG news site reported at the time that Rosenberg turned to crime after running short on money, that she was estranged from her parents and had tried in vain to join the Mossad spy service.

There was little to no activity on her Facebook account between 2009 through 2013. Her Facebook account came back to life in January 2014. Through the late winter and spring, Rosenberg referred to a “new beginning” and often posted inspirational quotes from the likes of Gandhi and Deepak Chopra.

FBI files indicated she was to leave the USA as part of her plea deal in New York.

On July 31, 2014 Rosenberg excitedly announced the time she was spending in New York “just became precious,” because she would be “going home to TLV (Tel Aviv) on Wednesday!!!”

Gill Rosenberg

Gill Rosenberg – going home to TLV (Tel Aviv)

​As she prepared to return to Tel Aviv, she started to post political material — touching on the Israeli Defence Forces’ fight with Hamas and the IDF’s increased use of female reservists.

She discussed the downing of Malaysia Airlines MH17 over Ukraine, remarking she would be flying with the Israeli airline El Al because “at least they are equipped with [anti-missile] flares.”

Upon returning to Israel via Moscow on Aug. 7, she posted photos from places such as Jerusalem and the Judean desert, and described — sometimes in coarse language — coming under the rocket attacks launched by militants in Gaza.

She spent most of August through October touring historical sites and describing the rocket attacks that struck Tel Aviv. (Facebook)  Her posts became less frequent into the fall.

On November 2, 2014 Rosenberg posted five photos from Amman, Jordan, and gave her location as Queen Alia International Airport. About a half hour after posting the photos, she posted a quote: “You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place, like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and place because you’ll never be this way ever again.”

Late that night, she posts a photo of Erbil International Airport in Iraq with the caption: “Terre ferme in Erbil, Iraq.”

Gill Rosenberg

Gill Rosenberg – Terre ferme in Erbil, Iraq (Facebook)

November 5, 2014 Rosenberg posted a photo that appears to be taken from the front passenger seat of a vehicle, with a stretch of highway ahead. The caption says it is from “the drive to Sulaymaniya (sic). Kinda looks like anywhere in middle America.”

Sulaymaniyah is in southern Kurdistan, Iraq.

Gill Rosenberg

Gill Rosenberg – the drive to Sulaymaniyah. Kinda looks like anywhere in middle America.”

A photo from later that morning shows a bag of ketchup chips.

“I f****** love Kurdistan.  Canada – you are officially no longer relevant in my life. I was just using you for your ketchup chips.”

Gill Rosenberg

Gill Rosenberg – Ketchup Chips

November 9, 2014 Rosenberg checked in on Facebook in Nusaybin, Turkey.

Later that day, she posted photos of herself from South Kurdistan and Rojava (the Kurdish region of Syria).

Gill Rosenberg

Gill Rosenberg – South Kurdistan and Rojava

She later posted a status update with a quote used by soldiers in the Israeli Defence Forces, partly in Hebrew and partly in English: “After me.”

“Let’s show ISIS what that means,” she says.

Rosenberg’s account is quiet for several days, while about 60 friends wish her a happy birthday on Nov. 12.

November 19, 2014 Rosenberg thanked everyone for their good wishes, and said she would not have Internet access anytime soon.

“Someone will manage the page for me,” she writes. “Remember, life is good.”

November 29, 2014 Rosenberg posted a music video by Somalian-Canadian artist K’Naan, and then posted a “selection of songs I keep on repeat.”

She said it will be her “last post for a while – enjoy!!”

She then says that her Facebook account will be managed “by someone else” until she once again has Internet access, which she says could be on or around the week of Dec. 8.

Gill Rosenberg

Gill Rosenberg – selection of songs I keep on repeat.

November 30, 2014 Israel’s Haaretz reported that during an interview with Israel Radio, a woman identified as Rosenberg by Reuters said she joined YPG, the Kurds’ dominant fighting force in northern Syria, after contacting them on the internet.

“They [the Kurds] are our brothers. They are good people. They love life, a lot like us, really,” Rosenberg allegedly said, in Hebrew.

Rosenberg is an Orthodox Jew and fond of musicians including K’naan, Macklemore and Tiesto, according to her postings online. Her taste in movies ranges from military-action films like Top Gun to comedies including Pretty Woman.

A source in the Kurdistan region with knowledge of the issue told Reuters that Rosenberg was the first foreign woman to join YPG and that she had indeed crossed into Syria.

She is one of about 10 Westerners recruited by YPG, the source said.

With files from Reuters, Associated Press, CCTV, The Jerusalem Post, Global News, Vice News, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Walla News, Haaretz, and Facebook

Like, Share or Comment if you enjoyed this story.  Thanks  MDW

We will continue to follow the story of Gill Rosenberg: Person of Interest – Fighting the Islamic State?

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Where “Fake News” Comes From – The Art of Bull Shit

Roughly 30% of Americans get their news from Facebook according to a recent study from the Pew Research Center.   The World Economic Forum said in a 2013 report that “massive digital misinformation” is one of the main risks for modern society — it can influence war, voting and a plethora of other things.

Fake news is “the reason you might have thought Islamic State fighters infected with Ebola were crossing the US border. (They weren’t.) Or that Facebook is going to start charging users a $2.99 monthly fee. (It isn’t.)” said Keegan Hamilton in a recent article on Vice News.

“Those are just a few of the recent stories by Allen Montgomery and Paul Horner, publisher and prankster-in-chief, respectively, of the fake news website National Report,” said Hamilton.


“They have carved out a niche for themselves with a form of satire that borders on disinformation. Like a darker, angrier version of the Onion, National Report skewers mass media coverage of trending stories by dreaming up patently ridiculous news and passing it off as real,” Hamilton continued. “It pisses people off.”

“We’ve been getting bunches and bunches of hate mail on the fear-bola,” Montgomery told Hamilton from his office in California, using a word he coined for coverage of the Ebola outbreak. “Some of these stories on Ebola we kind of bait the crazies out. You write something that will get a response from racists or bigots, these guys that are fearing everything — you write something to pull ’em out of the woodwork and sometimes they come running.”

Does that leave you feeling like we are being played as suckers?  It does me.  And if that isn’t bad enough sometimes even the most conservative of the main stream media get pulled in.  Fox & Friends criticized President Obama for offering to personally pay for a “museum of Muslim culture” to remain open during the government shutdown, a claim originated by Horner that was fake news/bull shit.

Hamilton says the hoaxes more frequently target the right wing territory dominated by Glenn Beck and Alex Jones. The site’s design — lifted from the Huffington Post — is clean and professional, with a masthead flanked by pictures of Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin that frame the slogan “America’s #1 Independent News Source.”

In reality National Report is probably America’s #1 fake news source.  There is no connection to Ted Cruz or Sarah Palin.  Everything  about National Report is blatant bull shit.

There are dozens of sites that are generally owned by pranksters that love to think things up to piss people off.  They know that pissed off people share their feelings and when one of their stories goes viral and gets millions of shares they feel pride in knowing they have totally duped that 30% of Americans that get their news from Facebook.

So next time you read on Facebook that Dennis Rodman is flying to Iraq to meet with the Islamic State to try and broker a peace deal don’t believe it. It came from National Report. National Report wrote a story that Obama was going to auction off all of the marijuana that had been confiscated in the USA since his election and it went insanely viral on Facebook.  A National Report story that stirred up a frenzy recently proclaimed that the Dearborne, Michigan City Commission had passed a proclamation making Sharia Law the new law in Dearborne.

Even look at the small text on the screenshot of the National Report masthead (above and again below) taken November 24, 2014.  It says “HEADLINE: Mom Calls 911 on Masturbating Teenage Son.  Boy Arrested. Charged with New ‘Self Rape’ State Law.”


Facebook is not a news source.  Facebook is media (social, antisocial or both). Facebook is an echo chamber of National Report and every other source of fake news in the world.

  • Roughly 30% of Americans get their news from Facebook.
  • Massive digital misinformation is one of the main risks for modern society.
  • Facebook is the echo chamber of all of the fake news/bull shit in the world.

Like, Share, or Comment below. Thanks for allowing me to share with you.

I’ll see you back on FB. I must see what conversations I am missing out on. MDW

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Pampa Noon Lions Club Program From Manila

One of the great honors of my life was presenting online  The Pampa Noon Lions Club program on July 24, 2014.

I was a member of this great institution in the nineties, but left Pampa and had not seen many of the remaining members in over 17 years. My program was entitled “My Marvelous Destiny.


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The Skies Just Ain’t Friendly Anymore

The skies just ain’t friendly anymore, since flying became a contact sport. You take off your coat, your belt, your shoes, but that’s not all they make you lose. The skies just ain’t friendly anymore.

Once every 16 months the Philippines requires all non citizens without a permanent visa to leave the country.  You can immediately return (subject to checking in with immigration every two months), but regardless, once every 16 months you must depart Philippine soil for at least a day.

Unlike the USA where there are land borders there are only two ways in and out of the 7,000 plus islands that make up the Republic of the Philippines.  By air or by sea.  It is a little over 600 miles from Manila to Hong Kong and the fastest way to get there is to fly . . . the other option being a slow boat to China.

Since it is an international flight it requires checking in a minimum of two hours before departure.  The flight is shorter than the check in time required at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).  Additionally, traffic in Manila is insane (even at 2:00AM which is the time I must leave for the airport). It is about a two-hour taxi ride for me to NAIA. All combined it will take more than twice as long to leave home and take off than it will to actually fly to the Chinese free port of Hong Kong.

Spending a few nights in Hong Kong is pretty easy on the mind and eyes, but a little hard on the wallet. I went to one of my favorite travel sites and clicked on deals and discovered I could save over $700 USD at the Hullet House. Only $916.12 USD a night plus 10% service charge and tax. Only two rooms left. This is a bargain? I think not. Still two rooms left.

I have been to Hong Kong numerous times. I decide I will stick with some places I have experienced. The Mira Moon is a nice place and it was reasonably priced last time I was there. I check the rate. $179.48 plus 10% service charge and taxes. Better, but still a lot to pay for a non essential trip I would rather not be taking.

I stayed at the Panda Hotel in 2011 and really liked it. The Panda decor was unique and fun. The staff was friendly and the location is good, but not right in the middle of everything which makes it more economical. Let’s see what kind of deal I can find at the Panda. $98.97 USD plus 10% service charge and taxes. Well, I must be realistic. I know I am not going to find a selection of decent Hong Kong hotels for under $100 USD so the Panda Hotel now has one less room available on the nights I must travel.

What a hassle it is to travel today. It is expensive and in this case unnecessary except if I don’t want to be deported..

There is still the return trip and . . . “the skies just ain’t friendly anymore.”

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The Angel Flight

I fly that plane called the Angel Flight. Got a hero riding with us tonight . . .
It don’t matter where we touch down. On the Angel Flight it’s sacred ground.

Radney Foster is an American singer-songwriter and music producer from Del Rio, Texas.  Foster grew up in two worlds – herding cattle on horseback at his grandfather’s East Texas ranch in the summers and hunkering over a transistor radio in his West Texas hometown listening to border radio.

“My house in Del Rio was a mile from Mexico, so I heard everything growing up – from country to conjunto.” says Foster. “Telling stories is embedded and ingrained in my DNA.”

“My grandfather was a cowboy raconteur and a storyteller. He didn’t sing songs, but he sure told stories around the campfire. There’s a long, long history of yarn spinning in Texas, and I like to think I come from that tradition.” Foster continues.

Another Texas musician, Darden Smith from Austin and Lt. Col. Jim Nugent with the Texas National Guard Family Support Foundation had met up at Amy’s Ice Cream, an Austin Institution. Amy’s has several locations, and one just happened to be around the corner from another Austin landmark, Waterloo Records, where music fan Nugent had just bought Smith’s latest CD.

“Darden begins a relationship (with Nugent) and begins to start thinking about having talks with the Texas National Guard about songwriting. He’s thinking at this point that it’s to help guys cope with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) issues and re-entry issues,” Foster relates.

Smith learned about “Red River 44,” a mission in Iraq in which seven Texas National Guardsmen died when their Chinook helicopter crashed outside Tallil, Iraq. “In the midst of these conversations, the Guard told him about . . . this thing they call ‘Angel Flights.'”

“He tells me the story and says, ‘Are you interested?’ and I said, ‘Oh, my God, are you kidding? Absolutely!’ So we write this song after dinner one night.  Immediately I knew I had to record that song.”

The song they wrote together,”Angel Flight”, is named after the designation for the Texas Air National Guard C-130 that transports the bodies of Texas Guardsmen slain in combat.

Smith sent a heavily orchestrated version to Foster, who opted to remove almost all the other instruments. The end result is a bare-bones, gut-wrenching, emotional song with poignant but not syrupy lyrics, the kind of song at which Foster excels.

“That was my hope,” he admitted. “I wanted you to feel that sense of the last verse:  ‘The cockpit’s quiet and the stars are bright. / Feels kind of like church in here tonight.’  And I wanted that feeling through the whole song.”

“I had the wonderful and yet hard opportunity to sing ‘Angel Flight’ at the service for the dedication of the memorial for the Red River 44,” Foster recalls.  “It’s a lightning rod moment for me.  I watched the general bend down to children my own children’s ages and hand them a folded flag for their father’s memory. I still don’t know how I got through that.”

When carrying a fallen hero the C-130 Angel Flight is always number one for takeoff and landing.

“Angel Flight” is one of the most touching stories I have ever had the opportunity to share.  I hope you enjoy knowing the story behind it.

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You Raise Me Up

Martin Hurkens is a baker by trade. In 2009 he lost his job in Holland.  Martin had been a baker for 35 years and had no trade outside of tending an oven and creating food delights in a commercial kitchen.

Martin always dreamed of being an opera singer.  When he was a 7-year-old boy he auditioned for the youth choir in his native village Schinveld.  The director was very fond of his vocal talent and took him under his wing as a soloist.  Martin began singing in churches and became very popular.

At 13, Martin received a scholarship to music school in Brunssum, where he studied singing and piano lessons. Funding problems forced him to leave the music school. His dream of becoming a professional singer ended abruptly.

After processing this disappointment Martin made his career with Erkens Bakeries in Brunssum. Martin continued to sing because he was happy. He sang because it made his day at the bakery a pleasure. He sang because it made him feel good. He sang and baked for 35 years.  Then he lost his job.

In order to provide for his family Martin turned to the streets to share his talent with the small crowds that would pass by.   He would lay his hat on the cobblestone street and resonate the joy he felt within.

Later that same year he entered a talent competition called “Holland Has Talent”. Could an aged amateur opera singer overcome the advantages youth had in both energy and a sizable majority of the television demographic that voted on the competition?

The competition was tough, but Martin built a following and he made it to the finals where he made the most of his moment in time. He won “Holland Has Talent” in 2010. He began a recording career and has given countless beautiful performances in the Netherlands, Turkey and even New York City. He also began headlining with the Limburg Symphony Orchestra.

Success has never gone to Martin’s head. He remembers the pain of having lost his scholarship and his job. He humbly accepts success, but has never lost his benchmark. Today Martin can still on occasion be seen laying his hat down on the cobblestone streets of Brunssum.

Strangers and tourists do not recognize him and sometimes give him looks of scorn when he first lays down his hat (see above video).  When his voice begins to sing in perfect pitch to the small crowd a transformation takes place.

Those watching begin to smile as their hearts are touched by his rendition.  Martin is no longer simply a street singer.  Martin is an angelic evangelist of the hope we have in life and the love of God.

When he holds the last note for what seems like eternity his hat holds the worth of the value the crowd sends his way.  He doesn’t need the money, but he wraps himself in the spirit in which it is given.

Martin’s story is inspiring because he made the most of his moment.  Martin reminds us we are raised up so we can stand on mountains.  He also reminds us to remember the cobblestone streets from which we came.

Like, Share or Comment below. Thanks, MDW

Best Vitamins & Supplements to Reverse Neuropathy

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The Peppermint Lounge

Editor’s Note:  My friend David Schaub sent me this revealing experience about a nightclub in Pampa, Texas called The Peppermint Lounge. David’s real life experience at the Peppermint Lounge in Pampa will take those who lived in Pampa during that era on a trip down memory lane.  The rest of you will find it a fun article that accurately reveals a legendary place in small town America in 1968.

The Peppermint Lounge

by David Schaub

Pampa, Texas 1968

In the late 1960’s when I was living there, Pampa had a population which consisted of primarily whites with barely a thousand or so blacks. As it had always been up to that time, virtually all of the blacks lived in an area called the Flats. As was then typical in most of the South and Texas, it was located “across the tracks”. Segregated schools had only been abolished a couple of years before and the Flats had lost its binding feature—the schools. One of the most famous places to many people who knew Pampa was the Peppermint Lounge, a black nightclub located in the Flats.

The Peppermint Lounge had a bad reputation. There were always notes of fights with the police being called in the Police Beat in the newspaper. There had been a couple of shootings and stabbings there. I had heard stories about this place for several years from the black guys I played baseball and football with but to myself and most of my friends, it was a place which I would never set foot. It was way too dangerous to even think about. Well, one of the problems of being young is that you are bullet-proof or at least you think you are. I was just bored enough to want to find out what the Peppermint Lounge was all about.

An Idle Mind and Curiosity

I had always had a very good rapport with the black guys with whom I played little league/babe ruth league baseball and high school football. We kidded around a lot with our black buddies and some of us got a real education about how some of the guys lived in the Flats. Things like sex, prostitution, liquor laws, gambling, and the general view of how life is lived was a lot different for most of them. We also found out that some, if not all, of our buddies went to the Peppermint on a regular basis.

The rules were different there. I was very curious. The second semester of my senior year in high school, I was effectively worthless. I had enough credits to graduate, I had been accepted to Tech already, I was just going through the motions. Thus, I didn’t study, did little homework, sports were over for me, and I was only going to 3 classes. The rest of the day, I worked at the Chevy car dealership parts department.

One of the guys I kidded around with at work was a black fellow I will call Swede (not his real name). He was single, probably about 30 years old and drove a cool car. Swede was always good for a laugh and my working partner, Bennie, and I knew where he would hide when he wanted to “rest”. We would find him and hide with him sometimes and talk about all kinds of stuff.

I found out that he went to the Peppermint Lounge on a regular basis. The stories he told us were amazing! One day I was chatting with him about the Peppermint and he asked me if I would like to go with him. He said no one would bother me and I would probably know a bunch of folks there. I told him I would go if my running buddy, Lanny, would go and I would get back to him. No chance I was going there by myself.

The Flats

I excited. That night I tracked Lanny down on the drag. Lanny had not grown up in Pampa. He was already out of high school and was a really cool dude. He was only about a year older than me. He was living with his cousins to let a situation cool off in Arkansas. Lanny had the coolest car — a brand new ‘68 Mustang fastback with a 351 Cleveland engine. It looked good and ran like a bat out of hell! We had been running around together for almost a year and gotten into only minor trouble.

When I explained to him what Swede had offered to do, he said sure let’s go! The weekend was only a couple of days away so I told Swede that we would be at his house at 9pm on Saturday. Swede told me how to find his house. I wanted to go later in the evening so that it was dark to help “hide” us from prying eyes.

On Saturday, Lanny and I met up and I jumped in his car. I directed him over to the Flats and to Swede’s house. We pulled up in front of his house. It was dark but Swede’s car was in the driveway. We went up to the door and it was open, with only a screen door to keep the mosquitoes out. I knocked on the screen door and nothing! I knew he had to be there. His car is there. I banged louder and this time I heard a muffled noise that sounded like, “Come on in.”

Swede Cops Out

We entered the mostly dark house and in the bedroom off the kitchen was Swede sprawled across the bed. He was dead drunk. I helped him sit up on the edge of the bed and he said he had been drinking since that morning. I asked him if he remembered he was going to take us down to the Peppermint Lounge. He said yeah, but he could not go because he was too sick. However he had set it up with the bartender and it would be OK. He told us to Just go on down there and we would see our buddies there. Lanny and I went back to the car to figure out what to do.

When we got outside, we found a young kid standing next to the car admiring it. When he turned around, I recognized the brother of one of my black friends. He said he loved the car and wondered if he could have a ride in it. I looked at Lanny and then I turned to him and told him that Swede was going to take us to the Peppermint but was not in any shape. He said, no problem, I will show you where it is. He said his brother was there and it would be ok if we went in. I turned to Lanny and asked him what he thought. “Let’s do it!” So off we went. Our new guide directed us to a street with a lot of houses.

Peppermint Lounge Shooting Investigation

Shootings were common at the Peppermint Lounge. This photo came from the front page of the November 29, 1965 edition of The Pampa Daily News.

Making an Impression

He was asking how fast the car was and telling us how neat it was. Then he said, Will this car peal out?”

“You better believe it will”, Lanny responded.

“Well, would you mind going down to that white house and peal out in front of it?”, our young friend asked.

“What for?”, Lanny asked.

“Well, there is a little chick that lives there I want to impress,” he says.

Lanny about fell out of the car laughing. “Are you kidding me? Man, to impress a girl, I would be happy to do that.”

We drive down to the white house and stopped. Our little friend leans over to the window next to me and yells at the girl standing on the porch, “Hey, watch this! OK, hit it, man.”

Lanny lays into it and there are two black stripes and a cloud of smoke when we finally looked back. “Holy Cow, this thing is really something!” our little buddy yells, “This thing will really run!”.

“OK, dude, your all set with your new squeeze, so lets go to the Peppermint,” I told him.

Here We Go

He guides us down and around until we come to a long street with very little on it except this building set back off of the street to our right. There are cars parked everywhere. We drive by and see 5 or 6 dudes standing around outside. I don’t see anyone I know. We go past the club and turn around in the street. Lanny sees that there is a vacant lot across the street and the curb is pretty well beat off. He pulls in and parallels a pickup sitting near the street. We look at each other and I say, “Well, here we go.”

Our little buddy jumps out and is gone into the night. As we walk by the pickup, I look in the bed and there is a dude laying there either passed out or dead. Either way, he did not move. Lanny and I cross the street and head for the door. None of the guys outside say anything to us but look us over really good. I did not know what to expect when we went through that door. This could be the largest mistake of my life or not, but I knew we would soon find out. I lead going in. The music is loud. It is really dark and smoke is everywhere. I cant see anything. I hear someone yelling “Hey, man. Come over here!”

Meeting Up

It is my buddy, Wayne. His brother was our guide. We go over to this table full of guys and I suddenly discover that it is most of my friends and a few more. Besides Wayne, there is Frank, Stanley, and Bobby. He introduces two slightly older guys and we pull up a couple of chairs. There are empties all over the table so they are obviously not just sitting there. Our butts barely hit the bottom of the chair when the largest man I have ever seen in my life comes over and says he wants to see our licenses! Holy cow, we are about to get bounced out of here.

Wayne yells to me—“Give him your license, man”. Lanny and I pull out our licenses and hand them up what seems like 20 feet to his hands. He stands there a second and looks at them, looks at us, and then says, “What will you guys have?”

I must have had my mouth hanging wide open because all I can say is, “ Ah, Ah, Ah!”

Lanny says, “Bring us two Buds and one for each of our buddies!” He disappears. We start talking to the guys and tell them about Swede and the kid. The guys know about Swede being out of commission. Wayne says they had a bet that we would not show up.

My eyes are beginning to adjust to the dark room. The walls are covered with neon beer signs. There is maybe 30 tables in the room and a fair size dance floor filled with people. Along the walls are some chairs with young ladies in them. They all seem to be looking at us. It is loud.

Wayne tells us that the bartender only wanted to see our license so he would know how old we are in case of trouble. He needs to know who to throw out the side door in case the cops come! Well, that makes me feel better!! Geez. About that time, the beer shows up and we all get served. I suck down about half and I noticed Lanny did too. I introduce him around to everyone. He doesn’t know any of the guys but when I tell them he owns the red and black Mustang, they all know him!

The Dance

At this point, we were doing good. I was beginning to get used to this place. Then Wayne said, “Hey man, you want to dance?”

Before I could say anything, this girl appeared and sits down in the empty chair next to me. She had to be about my age or maybe a little younger but I had no idea who she was. I don’t remember seeing her at school, but here she is. I don’t know who I am going to offend if I say no, or what kind of stuff I am going to get into if I say yes. Yes looked like the easiest thing to do, so off we went to the dance floor. I have no clue what song is being played, but it was fast and hot and we danced like crazy. We made it thru the first song and stayed on the dance floor. The next song fires up and we begin dancing again.

The Peppermint Lounge in Pampa was named after the original Peppermint Lounge that opened in 1958 in Manhattan, New York. As the Twist craze hit in 1960-1961, celebrities swarmed into the Peppermint Lounge: Jackie Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn, Truman Capote, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Liberace, Noel Coward, Frank Sinatra, Norman Mailer, Annette Funicello, even the elusive Greta Garbo, to dance to the house band Joey Dee and the Starliters. Jackie Kennedy was such an enthusiast that she arranged for a temporary ‘Peppermint Lounge’ in the White House.

The Fight

But before this song gets too far, I noticed what looked like a whirling mass of legs, arms and bodies in the middle of the dance floor! At first, I can not quite figure out what is going on. Holy cow, those two dudes are fighting. People start giving them room. It was also getting serious because I thought I saw a knife in one of their hands. This is not good and I headed back to the table and everyone, including my buddies, are beginning to charge toward the door. Someone said the cops are on their way and we got to get out of here. I knew there was one black cop that patrolled the Flats so there had to be one very close by.

Hiding Out

Lanny and I hit the door at about the same time. We got about five steps past the door and I looked up the street and sure enough, there was a car coming with red lights a-blazing! We would probably run right in front of it if we continued. I grabbed Lanny’s arm and we made a sharp right turn into the vacant lot next door with weeds at least as tall as our shoulders. We got in the weeds and crouched down and made it to a large tree in the middle of the lot. Between the weeds and the tree, we could not be seen out there (plus it was dark)! The car stopped and one black cop ran into the Peppermint. We are watching intently as a second car pulls up, this time with two white cops. In what seemed like 30 minutes but probably was closer to 5, out come all three cops with two handcuffed guys in tow and put them in the cars. They milled around for a few minutes and then drive away. We decide to wait a few minutes to be sure they are good and gone. About the time we are about to leave, a couple comes out of the club and they are obviously not happy with each other. He has a hold of her right arm above the elbow and is half dragging her towards the car. She is a long, tall person in a very shapely dress and high heals. He is a handsome man in a very nice tan stripe suit. Lanny and I hold our position to see what is going to happen. They are heading for a car right in front of us and only about 30 yards away. We see and hear everything as it unfolds.

One Tough Woman

“Don’t you ever do that shit again around me!”, she exclaims in a very self righteous voice that only black women can do as he shoves her toward the passenger door. He shoots back, “Don’t you talk to me that way, woman. I will talk to anybody I want to, any time I want to, without asking your permission!” She rips open the car door and wheels around, standing in the opened door, with one arm over the top of the door, and screams at him just three feet away: “I will say any damn thing I want to, any time I want to!” With that he draws back and hits her right between the breasts, really hard. So hard in fact it sounded like the thump of a bat hitting a softball. She is knocked backwards and the open door catches her or else she would probably have been on her back on the ground. With her left arm still over the top of the door to hold herself up, her knees buckled and I thought she was going down. But she kind of bent over with her knees still bent and came up like a coiled spring unwinding with an upper cut that hit him as square on the chin as you could hit someone! I mean he was tagged. We saw the bottom of his shoes as he flew backwards and hit the ground flat on his back. Lanny and I simultaneously said, “Shiiittt!” We were standing there with our mouths agape. He slowly gathers himself up, rolls over onto his knees and manages to get upright. She is still hanging there with her arm across the door. “Git in the damn car, woman, and let’s go! I am tired of messing with you.” She slowly turns around and gets in the car. He grabs the door and slams it shut. He walks around the car mumbling something we could not hear, gets in and tears out of the lot and onto the street. We are standing there with our mouths open. I turned to Lanny and said, “Buddy, that is the toughest woman I have ever seen in my life! The shot he gave her would have killed me!” “Yeah, and then she had the strength to hit him with a punch that literally knocked him off his feet! Wow, what a pair! Hey, lets get out of here while we still can,” Lanny said.

Time to Scatter

So we ran out of the lot and across the street but as we came to that same pickup that was parked there when we went in, the man in the back raised up and said, “Hey, them cops came out here and asked me which way them white boys went, and I told them I don’t know cause I’ve been passed out here since before they came. I think it might be a good idea for you guys to scatter!” With that Lanny had the doors unlocked and we jumped in. He backed up onto the street and let her rip. There were two black stripes and a cloud of smoke in our path. Too bad there was no little teenage girl standing on the porch who would be impressed!

Peppermint Lounge Today

All that remains of the legendary Peppermint Lounge in Pampa, TX today is a vacant lot, the tree David and Lanny hid behind and perhaps a few ghosts.

Posted in Guest Stories | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

Pampa High School 1968 Prom NOT! (a guest blog by David Schaub)

Editors Note: The last four weeks have been an incredible experience for me. I am sure some of you have noticed my unusual absence. I apologize for my unexplained disappearance. The explanation will soon be forth coming. I have been on a journey of over 17,000 miles physically. Spiritually I traveled to heaven and back. A part of me refused to return. I have many things to write about so the pages left empty during my absence will not remain empty.

Shortly before I left I received this story from David Schaub, a fellow classmate from Pampa High School . I also consider David a good friend. He emailed it to me wanting to know what I thought.

My stories from the other side of the world may seem mundane after this. Get out your H&H dressing and slick back the hair. Slide a pack of Winston’s up the left sleeve of the tee shirt. This is the Pampa, Texas version of “Grease” and Hollywood could not have scripted this.

By David Schaub Pampa High School Class of 1968

The Junior Senior Prom

The Junior-Senior Prom had been a time honored event at dear old Pampa High School for years and years. Of course, everyone knew that this was for the girls to show off their dresses and lord knows there was only a few times a girl growing up in Pampa, Texas would be able to wear an evening gown. Except for those who belonged to the high school sororities which had a “formal” every year, most girls would be limited to the Prom and getting married to wear that special dress. So it was kind of a big deal to most of the girls.

Personally, I didn’t see much use in the thing. I was not going with anyone at the time who would force me to go. Being a senior and never going to it before, I thought it would not be anything that I would really miss. So, I figured that a bunch of us guys would just hang out at Caldwell’s Drive Inn and maybe get some beer or something. Well, I was wrong.

What I did not count on was that girls can be crafty and sly too. I was known to be buddies with several jjunior class gals that frequented Caldwell’s. They included Jeanie Hunter, Donna Cameron, Marilyn Gregory and Chris Reed. About a week before the Prom, we were in one of their cars at Caldwell’s and just talking when one of the girls asked me if I was going to the Prom.

I said “Hell no.That’s not something I would do.”

I mentioned that I might just go to Liberal, Kansas instead. Liberal was just 105 miles away, across two state lines, but it was just as its name implied—very liberal. And that included the fact that you get served alcohol at 18 years old! I had been 18 since November and I had ventured there with a couple of buddies twice before.

The Plot

The ladies had gotten the story out of me as to the clubs we went to and what it was like on at least one or two occasions. They all wanted to go! The big drawback however was the fact that it took about an hour and a half to get there and it also took an hour and a half to get back. Three hours really cut down on the club time when their parents wanted them home by 11 pm or at the absolute latest, midnight!

If you left at 8 pm, you might have a couple of hours before you had to be home at 12 pm. I had really lenient parents who would let me get in at 1 am and sometimes (I think because they slept so soundly) I could get away with say 2 am.

Now all of this conversation occurred on Friday night just a week before the Prom. I drove up to Caldwell’s on Saturday night, looking for the guys and seeing who was “out”, when I spotted Jeanie’s car with Marilyn and Donna in it.

They all began yelling at me park and come on over “Right Now!”

I obeyed and crawled into the back seat of the car. Immediately, I was informed by all three that, “We’re going to Liberal!”

I said “Wait just a minute, it’s too late to go tonight!”

That’s when I was told it would be next weekend and I would have 2 dates for the Prom! I thought—Oh my, what have I got into? But what the heck, I had little to lose or at least I didn’t think I did!

Then they explained to me how this would work and why it would work. First, Chris could not go because she was supposed to be engaged to this college dude and her parents would not let her out of the house. Marilyn’s parents were going to be out of town that weekend! Aha, the old parents out of town trick. She had arranged to spend the night at Donna’s or at least that is what her parents thought, so she did not have to go with them! Donna and Jeanie had already arranged to stay at Marilyn’s house.

As deep cover for the whole operation, I would have a Prom date with Donna and Jeanie so their parents would really not suspect anything. It gave me an opportunity to pick everyone up because none of them had cars. I would pick up Donna at 7:15pm and then take her to Marilyn’s and then pick up Jeanie at 7:45pm and go over to Marilyn’s where everyone would change clothes. We then would be able to head to Liberal.

I actually had to set the time of return to keep MY parents off MY butt! Wow, it sounded like it would work!

Well, the next week at school went very fast and everything was beginning to fall into place for the Prom. I told my parents I had a Prom date and that it would be late when I got in because there was always a “breakfast” afterward. I said it might be 2:00am or after. They didn’t even blink an eye and I thought, holy cow, this could work!! They asked me who I had a date with and I told them Jeanie since they knew her Mother! This was getting good!

On Friday I heard from my cousin, Shirley Williams, who had been living and going to school in Amarillo. We were both seniors and she was out for spring break and was home to visit her mother and sister. She was bored and called to see if we could go out Friday night. I said sure and went over and picked her up. After we got away from her house and her neat Mom, I told her what was going to happen on Saturday night. She wanted to go. She said her mother gave her lots of freedom and it would be no problem to be out that late.

I said we will see how the other the other ladies feel. We all got together in my car at Caldwell’s. Everyone knew Shirley from many years of going to school in Pampa. They agreed she could go and we went over the plan. Everything was in great shape. Marilyn’s parents were already gone so the clock was already in motion. We all headed home and I dropped Shirley off and said I would pick her up last, sometime before 8 pm on Saturday night.

The Pick Ups

Saturday rolled around and I went to work that morning. I worked in the parts department of Culberson-Stowers Chevrolet, where my dad worked! I decided to tell my cohort, Benny Lash, but threatened to make it a painful death if he spilled the beans. Thankfully, he did not. We only worked until noon but it was a really long day. I did not hear from any of the girls that afternoon so I assumed everything was OK. They said they would call if anything went wrong.

I got dressed in my Pampa Texas evening clothes—White coat, tuxedo shirt with black studs, red cumber bun, red bow tie, and black pants. Earlier that afternoon, I had put my clubbing clothes in the trunk of the car. I said goodbye to the folks and drove over to Donna’s house. On the way other there, it finally hit me…”What the hell are you doing? Donna’s dad is the Pastor of The First Baptist Church! He was a college football player! If this goes wrong, you are dead meat!”

I pulled into the circular drive and got out and went to the door. I almost did not ring the doorbell. Donna met me at the door and I said let’s go and she said, “Oh, we can’t go yet, Mother wants to take some pictures!!!” Are you kidding me! I’m cooked!

Fortunately, dad was not home nor her brother Bob who was my age! She even bought a corsage for me to pin on her! This was getting out of hand. About 6 pictures later and we finally are out the door! It was like we had gotten married . . . open the door and get her in the car . . . wave to Mom and sister as we leave . . . AAAHHHHHH!! I started breathing after we got about a quarter of a mile down Duncan Street! I chewed on Donna for the pictures and the corsage—Nobody said there would be PICTURES AND A CORSAGE!! But she calmed me down and my heart stopped trying to come out of my chest!

We made it to Marilyn’s in a flash. I dumped out Donna . . .and her coursage . . . and headed for Jeanie’s. I was slightly behind schedule, but close. I got out of the car at Jeanie’s and the front door opened! I got up to the door and Jeanie said let’s go. Wow, no pictures! I knew her Mom and she came to the door and gave me a hug. Off we go. In the car, I told her what happened at Donna’s. She thought it was funny! My blood pressure was still high but I was past the bad stuff. Shirley’s mother lived just around the corner from Jeanie and we were there in no time. I pulled in the driveway and Shirley ran out and jumped in the car. A wave to her mother and we are gone.

It took only about 5 minutes to get to Marilyn’s house. Jeanie had on a nice formal and like Donna had brought a little bag because I was dropping her off at Marilyn’s after the Prom. Actually, I guess, that part was exactly right. We arrived, jumped out and I got my clothes and ran in. We were changed in no more than 2 minutes. Back in the car and off we go. Hit the Perryton highway and it’s almost a straight shot directly to Liberal. The roads up there are very straight since there is very little reason to add curves.

To get to Liberal, you really only go thru one town, Perryton, Texas. It is about 2-3 miles from the Perryton city limits to the Oklahoma border. You then enter the Oklahoma panhandle and pass through Beaver County, Oklahoma. The Oklahoma panhandle is only 35 miles across so it does not take long to cross. Liberal is a couple of miles across the Oklahoma-Kansas border. This will all become important on the way home!

The Partying

There were a couple of clubs the young adults frequented. They were both named the Tiki Club, Tiki East and Tiki West. I liked the Tiki East and so did most of my friends. We headed for it. I had never seen anyone carded in the clubs but I decided I better ask. In the parking lot, I asked the girls “Who is not already 18?”

Shirley and I plus Jeanie were already 18, Marilyn was 17 and holy cow, Donna was 16!! “Are you kidding me!” I told her. “Stay close to us and don’t go get a drink or beer. Have one of us do it.”

We walk into the club and wow, the music is loud and good, the club is about 2/3 full and I can’t believe it! There are 3 or 4 of my older buddies from the Class of 67! They come over and want to know what I’m doing with 4 girls!! The buddies consist of Billy Scribner, Teddy Bird, and several others I can’t remember. There were a a couple guys I did not know. They are home from college on spring break and decided to come to Liberal to party! What a deal. They snatch up the girls and away we go. We set up a large table and that is base of operations for the evening.

We had a time! I danced with darn near every girl in the place and I had way too much to drink! The fun never stopped all the time we were there. The music was a Rock-Ola and it played non stop with all of our favorites. We had a blast. I noticed that Donna was clinging to me and I got her almost every drink she had. The girls didn’t drink that much but they had fun.

About midnight, I was pretty lit and really hungry. I asked the gals if they wanted to get something to eat! Shirley and some dude I had never seen before said yeah. Donna grabbed me and said she did too. I told the other two girls to be at the Flying A Service Station at 12:30am! No later. They all had hooked up with guys who said they would deliver them.

The Close Call

Off we go to find an all night cafe. I am still a little woozy as we are driving down the road and come to a railroad track that cuts across the main highway. I don’t even look.

Someone shouts “Something’s coming!”

I look right and said “It’s only a motorcycle!” as I continue driving across the track.

A couple of seconds later a freight trains flies by and misses us by about twenty feet! We almost bought the farm right there, but we were too drunk to realize the gravity at the time!!

Fortunately, the food really helped and we all sobered upl. So we headed out to the Flying A Service Station. I decide I needed a six pack for the road and ran into a 7-11. We arrive at the service station at about 12:20am. Jeanie and one of the Pampa dudes soon show up. We are waiting for Marilyn and her guy. We wait and we wait. Finally at about 12:45am they show! Everyone jumps in the car and away we go for the border.

The Police Chase

Within 15 minutes everyone but me is either asleep or about to be. Donna is next to me in the front. Marilyn is shotgun. In the backseat is Jeanie and a lump in the corner is Shirley. I cruise toward Texas doing about 75 mph on the Oklahoma blacktop. I need to make up a little time lost waiting for Marilyn. I am approaching a curve within 3 or 4 miles of the Texas state line when I look in my rear view mirror and see flashing red lights in the distance.

Yikes. I start thinking and realize it is after 1:00am, I am drunk, I have beer in the car, a 17 year old girl in the car and a 16 year old girl in the car and I have crossed two state lines with them. Somehow I rationalize that I am already in so much trouble that a little more troubl isn’t that much more trouble than I am already in. I elbow Donna and ask her to look back and see if she sees what I do. Yep, looks like red lights in the far distance to her. I floor it.

We have to beat this Oklahoma Highway Patrolman to the Texas border. Now my old ’60 Chevy would run pretty good but I knew it could not outrun a patrol car. However, I had at least a mile distance on him, he had started off I think on a dirt road which overlooked the highway, and I was not sure he could catch me before I hit the border or not. I also knew I had to get into Perryton to lose him because of the hot pursuit laws so it was going to be close. I had to cover 4 to six miles before he could cover six to eight.

For whatever reason I don’t understand, I did outrun him. We finally come to the Perryton city limits and I jammed the brakes and made an extremely fast right hand turn into a neighborhood. I kept taking a right then a left until I was pretty sure he could not follow me. In any event, he had lost his line of sight and I felt pretty sure I had won. Needless to say, I was stone cold sober by now and everyone in the car was as well.

We still had 65 miles to go and I was low on fuel. I went back to the highway and pulled into the only all night station. I needed to add about 3 or 4 dollars worth of fuel to get home. After all, gasoline was only 29.9 cents per gallon then!

I walked into the service station and put $3 on the counter and this dude says, “Hey, did you just come from Oklahoma?” I said yeah and the attendant said, “Man, there was one really mad Oklahoma Highway Patrolman in here a minute ago looking for a car like yours!” I asked him which way he went and he said back toward Oklahoma. I ran out and pumped $3 of gas as fast as I could and jumped in and got the heck out of there. We never saw another cop on the way home. I was as nervous as a June bug in a hen house!

The Stranger

I was just outside of Perryton about 20 minutes when a head appears at the back of the front seat. I see this guy in the rear view mirror.

I said, “Who are you?”

“Oh, my name is Jim Ridley”, he said drowsily.

“Where did you come from?”

“The floor board.”

“Where do you live?”

“Chicago, Illinois”

“We are not going to Chicago tonight!”

“No, no. I go to school at Tech in Lubbock.”

“Well, we are definitely not going to Lubbock tonight either!”

“Oh, that’s OK, I’m staying with Teddy Bird in Pampa,” he says.

“All right. I can drop you off there”, I replied as he slides back onto the floor.

Now I am worried. I got all these girls to get home, I have this dude to drop off at Teddy’s house and I don’t even know where that is! And I have to get home and sneak in because it is already 2:00am and I am late!

About 2:30am I dropped off three of the girls at Marilyn’s house. I ran Shirley to her house and it becomes very evident from the good night kiss that she is the one that found Ripley in Liberal. This guy knows exactly where Teddy’s house is and guides me right to it. The house is dark. I said good luck and never looked back after he got out.

The Last Obstacle

I have to use my best stealth approach to get into my house and to my room without waking anyone. I turn off the key before I hit the driveway and coast. I don’t even shut the door on the car. I just push it until the light goes out. I go to the front door and YES, it is unlocked. I turn the knob and ease open the door and go in. I go past my parent’s bedroom and I hear my father snoring. I have just about made it when my mother says, “David, is that you? What time is it?”

“It’s me. It must be about 2.” I whispered, lying and hoping she does not look at the alarm clock.

“OK”, she says.

My dad is still snoring!! I have made it. I go to my room and suddenly realize I left all the Prom clothes in the trunk. Oh, well, I thought. I will get them tomorrow and sneak them in.

I wake up about noon on Sunday. Just in time for dinner. My Mom wants to know if I had a good time. I reply that I did. No mention of the time I got in or anything. But, I am still not out of the woods. If the girls did not get caught or anything, then we are all home free.

That afternoon, I decided to go out for a while. There is no one down at Caldwell’s. I run the drag and no one is out. I come by the Pizza Hut and see Teddy Bird’s T-bird. I go in and there are the remnants of the gang we ran into in Liberal the night before. Even Ripley’s with them. But they had a tail of woe on getting home also. I told them of our adventure with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and then they told me what happened to them.

The Others

One of the two cars they were in took off and headed for Pampa and got turned around in Perryton and got on the wrong highway and ended up in Oklahoma and finally found a familiar road and made it to Pampa about 5am. They went to Teddy’s house and found Ripley asleep on the porch and almost frozen to death. Teddy’s parents were not home this weekend and they all came in to party over spring break but Teddy and Billy had not shown up yet with the key.

Apparently, Teddy and Billy had gotten lost coming out of Liberal and headed west instead of south. They ended up in Colorado with almost no gas, no cash and one credit card between them. They finally found a service station that was open but it would not take their credit card. They had to wait for a station to open that would take the card. It was 3:30am and the station opened at 5:30am. They finally got gas and headed for Texas.

At about 8am, they were stopped by a Texas Highway Patrolman between Dalhart and Amarillo and given a ticket for doing 85 mph. Fortunately, the booze had all worn off by then and he did not check the trunk. About 10:30am, they arrived in Pampa to find the rest of their party asleep in their car in the driveway at Teddy’s house. They were at the Pizza Hut having pizza for breakfast because no one could cook!

The girls had fooled their parents, I had gotten by with doing something really stupid without going to jail, and we had one Hell of a Prom night! I bet it would not have been that exciting if we had actually gone to the Prom! I wonder if Donna still has those pictures. There are a lot of memories in that corsage.

The Prologue

The next year, I went to Texas Tech in Lubbock and Jeanie was going to school there. She had managed to find Jim Ripley. We laughed about the Liberal trip and everything that happened. He turned out to be the dude with cousin Shirley in my car when we were almost hit by the train. We partied together for a couple of years. Later, my future wife introduced him to his future wife. He actually was going to Tech while he was an air traffic controller for the Air Force at Reese AFB. We used to go to the NCO club on the base,….but that’s another story. I have since lost track of him completely but I think I will try to find him someday.

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The Phillip Long Story: Conclusion – Too Much Living to Do

Sometimes words can serve me well and sometimes words can go to hell,
for all they do.
For every dream that took me high there’s been a dream that passed me by.
I know that’s so true.
– Harry Chapin “Story of a Life”

It was the second day of May 1970.  We were parked at Caldwell’s and Phillip was in the back seat spreading his smile and charisma  through the car where LaWanda Frost, and me (and maybe Susan Smith . . . I can’t remember) were all talking about LaWanda and me getting married  the next night. Phillip was my best man. All of us were members of the PHS Class of 1969 and we had been laughing and having a great time remembering the days at PHS while Phillip and I had revealed a few tales from the Navy, but we kept most of our tales to ourselves because they weren’t really sharable (as you now know).

LaWanda and I had only been dating two weeks and Phillip couldn’t believe I was getting married.  Earlier that day in private he had confronted me “Webster, what is wrong with you?  You have no business getting married.”

I had tried to explain to him how I had to leave town in two days to take my next radio gig in Dimmitt, TX. and I didn’t want to go without her.  He argued how there were plenty of women in Dimmitt, TX.

I finally said, “Phillip, It’s like this.  I finally found the promised land . . . and so did she.  We found it together, and I am not leaving here without her.  He looked at me and had the biggest grin I think I ever saw him smile and said (you guessed it) . . .

“Webster, your crazy”

So that night at Caldwell’s I found it really funny when suddenly LaWanda looked at Phillip and said, “Phillip, When are you and Susan going to get married?”

Phillip moved his head from side to side and said, “Oh, man. I can’t get married.  I’ve got too much living to do.”

Four weeks later he was killed in a tragic automobile accident on Pampa High School graduation night 1970.  Phillip was picked up by some graduates as he was standing in front of the Capri Theater.  Two blocks later the car hit a dip and crashed into a tree at Pampa’s Central Park.  Phillip died at the scene.

The morning after Phillip’s death my parents did not want to call and tell me on the phone.  They were on their way to Dimmit to tell me in person and were only about 15 miles away when I pulled some news copy off the radio wire to prepare for the noon news.  In front of me were the details of Phillip’s death, delivered by the Associated Press, not my parents.  In many ways I think I preferred it this way.

I delivered the news.  I did not include the story of Phillip’s death.  There are some limits where you just don’t test yourself.  I felt I could hold my composure and deliver the newscast, but not that story.

Phillip was buried in a grave almost as close to Pampa High School as you could be buried, maybe 50 feet from the fence on Duncan street. At the funeral his brother Paul and I hugged each other and as a condolence I said to Paul “He was my best friend”.

Paul acted like that offended him and replied, “He was my best brother.”

I didn’t know what to think of that so I let it pass and never had a chance to discuss it with Paul.  I did not mean it to offend him.

Not too many years later Paul’s bullet riddled body was found buried under some galvanized tin in a remote part of south Texas.

Paul had a son named Justin who was the spitting image of Phillip.  He was the same age of my now deceased daughter and when they were both 17 my daughter was living with me and for a time they went together.  She moved back to Aledo to be with LaWanda before her senior year.

In the 1990’s I became close to Twyla, Phillip and Paul’s mother.  She would come by my office in downtown Pampa and sometimes sit and talk for 30 minutes or more.  She had endured a lot of tragedy and Owen, her husband, was failing in health and she worried a lot about the future.  She came to me to talk.  I listened.

Twyla, had raised Paul, Phillip, Pam, and then Justin.   Paul and Justin were in constant trouble.  She had buried two sons and worried she would have to bury Justin or watch him go to prison.  The idea of either brought her to tears and she was almost out of those.  Before Twyla passed away she told me Justin had straightened out and become a good young man and she was really proud of him

Knowing how much he looked like Phillip I couldn’t help but think how wonderful that was.

If Phillip Long had lived and made the most out of the gifts he was given he could have been anything he wanted to be.  He could have achieved anything he wanted to achieve.  To use the word Buzzy Green recently used, Phillip Long had a magical quality about him that would have opened doors the rest of us would have had to open for ourselves.  The pathway for Phillip’s future success was to give the US government four years of active service and then get a higher education Owen and Twyla could not give him.

If Phillip had taken that path he could have become President of the United States, not just our senior class.

With an undesirable discharge on his record and no higher education . . . even with all his charisma he would have some big obstacles to overcome.

About 3 months after his death LaWanda and I had just packed and moved from Dimmitt to Plainview where I had been hired for a mid-morning gig with  a substantial raise at a larger station as I was working my way up on my dream of making it into big time radio.  We had not even been there a week.

I am on the air when I got a call for “David Webster”.  Since I used an air name “Robert Day” I knew the call had to be personal. I put on a record and said “Hello”.

“David Webster. Johnny Dark, K-O-M-A  I have your air check.  I like your sound.  I’ll pay you $125 a week.  Can you be here tonight?”

My heart skipped a beat.  “I need to give notice.”

“I’m not looking for applications.  I have a drawer full of those” and he hung up without saying another word.

I was immediately taken back to the night Phillip and I had gone to Oklahoma City and how as we left KOMA that night I had told myself I would work there someday.  Well, maybe not, now, but at least I had the chance.

“What do you think, Phillip?” I reached out to his spirit.  “You were there.  Should I have just walked out of here and headed for Oklahoma City?”

I heard a little voice from heaven say “Webster, you’re crazy.”

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The Phillip Long Story: Captain’s Mast of Seaman Apprentice Webster

There is a ship and she sails the sea.
She’s loaded deep, as deep can be.

After I told Phillip what had happened we were both fairly certain our trip to Mexico factored in somehow, but where?  Everything appeared to be going so smooth.

On the day of the proceeding  I put on my blue uniform and polished my shoes.  Phillip walked with me to the end of the dormitory hall and we stood at the door and talked for a few minutes. I turned and started walking to the location where the captain’s mast was being held . . . a full court gymnasium which struck me as an odd place for the mast to be held, but it was only a short walk, about three blocks, from the dormitory so I was grateful it was nearby and not a mile or more away.

I walked inside a few minutes early and the gymnasium was empty except for three officers making conversation behind two 4 X 8 tables set end to end on the far side of the gym.  I walked over to them, saluted, was put at ease and told to have a seat in a single folding chair facing the tables about ten feet out.  A fourth officer soon enters to join the other three.

They continue to make conversation between themselves and shuffle some papers between them for another 5 minutes or so when one of the officers orders me to stand. He then asks me if I knew what a captain’s mast was and I explained “kind of” and he said something about it being a  non-judiciary investigation and that as long as I answered all questions truthfully I probably had nothing to worry about.  He then explained  the scope of authority to me and it was actually less than I thought.

They could give me as much as 60 days military jail time, reduce my rank by one stripe and take away one half month’s pay.

“However, that is not our purpose in your case”, he explained.  “This is an investigation to determine why you didn’t tell the Navy during your recruitment process about your asthma attacks as a child.”

I don’t say a word, but I am thinking “What! This isn’t about Mexico?”

I am told I can sit down and the questioning begins. For the next 30 minutes I answer the same questions just worded differently over and over again.

Each of the officers had a copy of the medical records from the day I befriended the black cat and had the slight allergy attack.  The reports showed I was wheezing and the diagnosis was not listed on the medical records as allergy.  It had been clearly marked asthma and it had also been noted I had told them I had some problems with asthma as a child.

“We want to know why you did not disclose this before you came into the Navy.  You were required to sign documents at least twice stating you had not had asthma in your past.”

I sat silently and said nothing.  I really didn’t have a clue what to say.

The officer in charge presses a little harder to get me to say something, but I continue my silence.  The entire setting has been designed to intimidate.  The extra large building, the solitary folding chair in front of four officers seated in a row .  It had certainly intimidated me and I had no intention of talking about anything for fear I would be incriminating myself. I didn’t see the captain’s mast sending me to jail from not reporting asthma as a child on my enlistment forms.  Then the other officers began asking the same questions.  Finally I made a statement.

“First, because I had a recruiter telling me to sign here and not worry about a thing” I said  “and also because I just didn’t think about it.”  I was counting on the fact they had nothing more than the records from NTC.  I doubted they had researched my medical records from Pampa that might show indications of asthma at older ages.

The officer in charge asked me to stand again.

“Seaman Apprentice Webster.  After taking everything into consideration we have decided we are going to offer you two choices.”

“It is our determination you lied to the US Military upon enlistment about your physical condition and we do not want the liability of a seaman aboard ship who could potentially have an asthma attack at sea.”

“If you sign these forms releasing the United States Navy from responsibility for your asthma and forfeit your veterans benefits we will give you an honorable discharge from the United States Navy and you will be home for Christmas.”

“If you refuse then you face a court marshal on charges of fraudulent enlistment.”

Given the extremes in the two choices I didn’t have to give a whole lot of thought to which choice I would make.  All I had to consider was  “Christmas at home” vs “court marshall”.

It was only after I had already signed the papers I realized I was getting ready to leave Phillip out here by himself with 3.5 years of active duty (and two years of reserve) to face alone.  There would be no more buddies.  The final abandonment was now certain and only days away.

I was dismissed and started the walk back to the dormitory.  I dreaded telling Phillip I was going home.  I respected Phillip as a leader in high school, as an athlete, as a lady charmer and all the things he was, and for all the potential he had, but I had gotten to know him really well and inside I could almost guarantee at that moment . . . Phillip would never finish radio school.

He didn’t.

By March his attitude toward the military had become so bad he was sent home with an undesirable discharge because as Phillip told me himself “The Navy no longer wanted me.”

Two months later on Pampa High School graduation night 1970 Phillip had just gotten into the front passenger seat of an automobile with some 1970 graduates.  Two blocks later the car hit a bump and went airborne striking a tree.  Phillip was killed instantly.

I have one more chapter before this work is complete.

I want to share with you the last time I saw Phillip in May 1970 and what he said.  There were two other former Harvesters in the car with us that night, LaWanda Frost and I believe Susan Smith (not sure about Susan).

I also want to tell you about conversations I had with Twyla, Phillip’s mother, and the tragedy she endured.

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The Phillip Long Story: Thanksgiving Day – A Time for Healing

Hallelujah – As I wrote this chapter I reflected not only on Thanksgiving Day in 1969, but my entire life.  At the moment Bon Jovi seems appropriate.

Perhaps it was because he was in such great physical condition, but Philip began recovering quickly and within a couple of days he is watching television at the dormitory while I am off to wax and buff floors.  He razzes me about that in a “Phillip Long” kind of way that even makes me laugh.  I am just glad he is getting up and around.

The one thing that isn’t recovering is his spirit about the Navy.  When we went in Phillip’s attitude was a 10.  When we were first called “maggots” I think it dropped to about an 8 where it stayed throughout basic.  Now it was down to no more than a 7 and while mine wasn’t a whole lot higher, I dared not show it because I knew if I did his would plummet.  I felt if we could just get through this school and headed to sea it would be “Anchors Away” and all would be well, but the stress of sitting at a manual typewriter with a set of headphones plugged into a socket porting Morse code into your ears for eight hours a day is enough to depress anyone after four weeks.  This setback meant Phillip would be looking at least one more week of copying code before testing and maybe two.  I am hoping he can get it done in one for purely selfish reasons.  I am sick of buffing floors and want to move on to the more advanced textbook training.

Phillip had taken almost his entire check with him to Mexico so we were also facing a month of extreme financial hardship and that didn’t help his attitude either.  He refused to call Owen or Twyla, his parents, because they were already under a great burden dealing with problems back home with Paul, his brother, and it didn’t matter if he was on his death-bed he would not ask them for help.  I was not so proud.  I got on the phone and called my Mom.  I told her pretty much the truth about what had happened except my story was closer to what I had told the school commanding office.  She would have been worried sick if I had told her we had been in Mexico.  Within a few days $100 arrives.  Combined with the $40 I still had Phillip and me could make it the rest of the month.  He was grateful.

Not one time did he ever blame me for leaving him.  We actually argued one time about it being the other way around.  He said it was his fault for not leaving when I wanted to.  I said I shouldn’t have left.  We ended up laughing.  We took some of the money that had just come in and went off base for Thanksgiving. He really didn’t want to.  They would have a great meal on base for free, but I wanted to get him away from anything “Navy” for a few hours.  It had nothing to do with food.  It had to do with trying to help his spirit heal.  Maybe getting away from anything military for an afternoon would be good for him and by Thanksgiving day Phillip had recovered to the point the only way you would know he had been seriously injured a week and a half before were the blue bruises that remained on parts of his face, but he was walking without pain and otherwise seemed fine.

I talked him into leaving the base.  He wanted to know where we were going.  I asked him if he was paying.  He said he couldn’t (which I knew) and I said “Then just enjoy.  It’s on me.”  We got in the taxi.  I told the driver “Sea World.”

Instead of boring old turkey and dressing with giblet gravy and cranberry sauce at the base we had a much better Thanksgiving feast . . . hot dogs with mustard and relish while watching the killer whale and dolphins perform.  It was a great afternoon and it served it’s purpose.  Phillip never had a clue what was going on in my mind, but I saw his attitude improve a little and any improvement at all was vital at this critical point in our careers.

That night as Thanksgiving day came to an end I realized Phillip and I were starting to love each other more and more.  I guess that is what buddies do.  I was thankful we had each other.  I know he was too.

I talked Phillip into making a voluntary appearance at school roll call the following morning even though he wasn’t scheduled  for his next appearance until Monday.  My logic was that if he went in Friday it would look good to the school commander.  He also might be able to request a “mulligan” opportunity to take the test on Tuesday and if he happened to pass I would be able to “stop buffing floors.”  He nearly rolled in the floor when I said that and every laugh I got out of him about anything Navy was golden at this point.

He worked all day Friday and all day Monday copying code at 30 words per minute in practice, but when Tuesday came he had too many errors and failed.  He came close which gave us both confidence he would pass the following week.  He was as discouraged about having to listen to code and type for another week as I was . . . knowing I was going to spend another week buffing floors, but the end was in sight and we would soon be getting down to textbook study where we could work better together in the dorm.

Later that week as I was taking a smoke break (a habit I had picked up since joining the Navy) I am sitting on a bench outside one of the buildings M Division (M stands for maintenance) had assigned me to when a beautiful long-haired black cat comes up to me and starts purring and rubbing up against my leg.  Stray animals were very uncommon on NTC so I knew this animal belonged to someone . . . probably someone important.  I soon made a friend and we spent about 15 minutes enjoying each others company before I had to say goodbye and get back to work.

Within minutes of returning to work I am sneezing, my eyes are watering, and it is apparent I am having an allergic reaction to the cat.  I didn’t consider it a big deal, but in order to get some relief and also in order to get away from buffing floors for a little while I reported to the petty officer in charge of maintenance I need to go to sick call and get some medicine.

I made it over to the infirmary and after about a thirty minute wait they ask me a lot of questions that almost had me wishing I hadn’t gone in.  I didn’t know it was going to take 12 pages of paperwork to get two allergy pills.  They listened to my chest and told me I had some wheezing and asked if I had ever had asthma.  I told them when I was really young I was supposed to have had, but I didn’t really remember it.  There actually had been a couple of episodes later on in life, but after what I had just been through with the paperwork I just wanted to get out of there and didn’t bring it up.  They gave me the medication I wanted and an inhaler and I was released to go back to work.

When I got back to the building I looked for the cat to give him a playful talking to about what he had just put me through, but I didn’t see him.  The day ended and I got back to the dorm to hear Phillip relate how some guy at school had gotten a “Dear John” letter that day at mail call and took a leap off the smoke deck on the third floor.

I told Phillip about the black cat and how I would have to be on a gurney before I ever went to sick call again.  He said he would have to remember that.  I reminded him he was on a gurney the last time he went to the base medical facility. He laughed.  That’s what I wanted.

The following week he passes his test.  I still have to report to M Division Wednesday because someone is slow in getting my transfer processed, but by Thursday I am ready to start technical training.  Phillip seems in much better spirits.  Getting the code portion of the school behind him was a major accomplishment.  There had been a time I don’t think he believed he would ever be able to do it.

We go downtown that weekend and Phillip is considering getting his first tattoo.  We are looking at the designs in the window and he picks out one of a Navy anchor.  Above the anchor it says U.S.N. and then below it says “Never Again”

“Come on Long. The last thing you want when you get on ship is a tattoo like that.”

He laughed.  He knew I was right.

Christmas is now only two and a half weeks away.  I feel like things are going better than they ever have since we came in. Nothing is going to stop us now.

Then, I get called to the school commander’s office where I am handed a formal military document.

I have been ordered to appear under the authority of Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice in dress uniform for a Captain’s Mast to take place on approximately the 15th of Dec.  (The paper did not say to be there approximately.  I just don’t remember the exact date)  I am then informed that until the outcome of my Captain’s Mast is known I am being temporarily suspended from school and reassigned to M Division.

Think of a Captain’s Mast as the military equivalent of a Grand Jury with the power to sentence.  They can either elevate a charge to a Court Marshall or sentence up to certain level’s themselves without elevating to a Court Marshall.  It is normally presided over by the commanding officer of a ship or base and in the case of NTC that would be a Rear Admiral.

Suddenly going to military jail is my biggest worry, not buffing floors in M Division.

The Phillip Long Story: Buddies Until Abandoned

  1. The Graduate was Hot! KOMA was King!
  2. In the Navy – We Want You as a New Recruit
  3. Basic Training – First Abandonment
  4. To the Girl Who Loved Me
  5. A Cantina in Mexico – Second Abandonment
  6. Vanished In Tijuana – Fear and Panic
  7. Phillip Needs Help – We Can’t Tell the Truth
  8. Thanksgiving Day – A Time for Healing  <- You are Here
  9. The Captain’s Mast of Seaman Apprentice Webster
  10. Conclusion – Too Much Living to Do
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The Phillip Long Story: Phillip Needs Help – We Can’t Tell the Truth

He Ain’t Heavy.  He’s My Brother.

I sleep with one ear listening for Phillip to come through the door at any time.  Saturday morning comes and not a word.  With every passing hour I am more and more concerned.

There is not a word the entire day on Saturday and other than going for meals I had not left the room.  I went to bed Saturday night nearly out of my mind between worry for Phillip and fear of the court martial coming if his body is found in Mexico somewhere.  I just keep asking myself how I allowed myself to let this happen and keep remembering that bus ride back from the submarine base and my little temper outburst that was at the bottom of all this.

I awoke Sunday morning and I guess I thought it was time to try and make a deal with God.  I had not been to church since I had left Pampa, Tx where I had apparently left a lot of the values I was brought up with and now with Thanksgiving only 12 days away I decided to make my way about a block down to a little Episcopal chapel on base and try a little prayer.  I even put a token in the offering plate.  That is about all it was . . . a token.

I left the church and went to eat and returned to the dormitory to find Phillip laying on his bed and moaning in severe pain.  I had never been so glad to see someone hurting in my life.  He was at least alive.

I went and got some warm towels and tried to be a nurse the best I could, but I wasn’t really sure what to do.  He was covered with dirt and grime and some blood although he wasn’t bleeding from any noticeable deep lacerations . . . just badly bruised.  His face looked like it had been pounded on and both eyes were nearly swollen shut.

“Damn it Phillip.  What the hell happened to you”

He starts mumbling something about his watch, but I can’t understand what he is talking about.

One of our roommates comes through the door and was an eagle scout back home.  He knew a little more about first aid than me.  He thinks Phillip should be taken to the base clinic for emergency treatment, but he knew where we had been and how if we did that there was going to be a lot of explaining to do.  Finally we all agreed to just keep a close watch on him overnight.

I started working on a plan to talk our way out of what was going to be a really big mess.  I didn’t see Phillip returning to school for at least a week or more and he had a major test coming up Tuesday that our Naval careers depended on.  Plus, just the fact he wasn’t going to make muster in the morning was not going to be explainable. Overnight the plan came together.  I wasn’t sure if we could pull it off, but we had no choice but to try.

At 7:00 AM I was at morning roll call at the advanced training school.  When they called “Long” I reported he was very ill.  When we were dismissed I requested a meeting with the school’s commanding officer to not only explain Phillip’s illness and absence, but discuss an extension on the test the next day.   I had to wait about 15 minutes, but the meeting was granted.

I had never even seen the school commanding officer so I had no idea what to expect.  For some reason the only benchmark of any type of authority figure I could come up with was RDC King.  When I entered he wasn’t nearly as hard as King . . . at least the word maggot was never used and I had made up what I was hoping would be a believable story.

I told him Phillip and I had gone downtown and gotten separated and when I arrived at the bus stop to return I thought he was ahead of me so I caught the next bus.  He was actually behind me and when he arrived at the bus stop got into a conversation with a group of Marines and that one of the Marines made an insulting remark about the Navy and that Phillip made one back and before he knew it that had beat the crap out of him and now he was in our dormitory needing medical attention.  I explained he had a very important test the next day which I didn’t see how he could take and how we were in on the buddy plan and looking forward to serving together.

I expected little empathy from him, but instead of being a jerk like King would have been he asked me a few questions about Phillip’s condition and next thing I know he is on the phone ordering medical division to send some corpsmen over to our dormitory to evaluate Phillip, provide treatment and report back to him.  He agrees to extend the deadline for the test until a date to be determined after he has received the report.  He tells me I can be dismissed from class that morning to return to the dorm and assist.  As I am getting ready to turn and leave as soon as he tells me I am dismissed, he looked me in the eye and said,

“They spend weeks convincing those Marines they are killing machines in preparation for going to Nam and then when they get off base they don’t know how to control it.”   He continues to look me in the eye.

I get the impression this may be a test to see if he can get a clue to help him see if I am making this story up.  I do not say anything.  I figure it is better to remain silent and be thought a liar, than to open my mouth and remove any doubt.  I was dismissed.

When I get back to the dormitory the corpsmen have already arrived and were treating Phillip. One of them suddenly suggests to the other he thinks Phillip should be taken to Balboa, which is a Naval hospital.  I am not exactly sure where it is, but I am guessing 10 or 15 miles away and that would be devastating.  If we are separated it will be practically impossible to coordinate our story and after the lie I had just told the radio school commanding officer a court martial is on the horizon unless we make this work.  Fortunately, the other corpsman thinks Phillip should be x-rayed  at NTC for broken bones and hemoraging of the brain but unless they find something doesn’t believe he should be transported to Balboa.

Phillip is taken to the base medical facility. He doesn’t have any broken bones or life threatening trauma.

A report  is sent back to the school commanding officer advising it will take 2-4 weeks for full recovery.

The school commanding officer gave a two week extention on Phillip’s test and said he would consider an additional extention if it was needed.  In order for my training schedule to not get any further ahead of Phillip’s he assigned me temporarily to M-division where I spent the next 2 weeks mopping floors and buffing them with an electric buffer  because he wasn’t going to have me sitting on my “duffus” while I waited for Phillip to get back on his feet.  I guess every crime gets punished one way or the other.

Meanwhile, Phillip relates the story of how he had left the cantina about an hour after I had and looked for me about an hour.  When he didn’t find me he decided I must have gone back to NTC without him and started walking back toward the border alone.  For some reason he decided to take a “short cut” and followed some railroad tracks where he was jumped by a gang who took his money and the thing he was most upset about . . . a watch that once belonged to his grandfather.  He had laid by those railroad tracks from Friday night until Sunday morning, although he never really comprehended the time.   Fortunately his wallet and military ID were nearby, but he was penniless. Some workers had gotten him to the border and a trucker brought him from the border to NTC where a civilian who worked on base had brought him from the front gate to the dormitory and helped him to the room while I was in church on Sunday morning.

We now knew why Mexico was off limits to US military. It wasn’t about enforcing rules and regulations. It was simply a matter of protecting us and trying to keep us from getting hurt or killed.  I promised myself I would never make Phillip feel guilty again just because he was a ladies man.  The only reason we went down there in the first place was Phillip trying to do me a favor.

Thanksgiving was only a few days away and I was truly thankful this had ended as it had.  Phillip was going to recover.  We both had avoided a court martial.  Phillip’s test date had been put off and we were still buddies.  What more could I ask?

Dead dogs, women like Mable and cities like Tijuana had made me forget about pleasures of the flesh. Maybe by Christmas I would be back to normal . . . and finished buffing floors.

The Phillip Long Story: Buddies Until Abandoned

  1. The Graduate was Hot! KOMA was King!
  2. In the Navy – We Want You as a New Recruit
  3. Basic Training – First Abandonment
  4. To the Girl Who Loved Me
  5. A Cantina in Mexico – Second Abandonment
  6. Vanished In Tijuana – Fear and Panic 
  7. Phillip Needs Help – We Can’t Tell the Truth  <- You are Here
  8. Thanksgiving Day – A Time for Healing
  9. The Captain’s Mast of Seaman Apprentice Webster
  10. Conclusion – Too Much Living to Do
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The Phillip Long Story: Vanished in Tijuana – Fear and Panic

This is Tijuana today.  The streets have been paved and the streetlights are much brighter than when Phillip and I went there.  Imagine what it was like 45 years ago when Phillip was beaten and robbed.

When I stepped into the street the city had transformed itself from when we had entered.  It was now lit up in a sinister kind of way and only about a block down on the left was the brightest  building of all calling itself The Palace.  “How could anyplace in this hell hole call itself a palace,” I questioned.  I looked at my watch.  It was nearing 9:30 PM.  Still early.  I decided to check out this so called palace while I waited for Phillip to get over the romance he was having.

Inside the palace I was pleasantly surprised.  Probably a thousand people or more were cheering athletes with long baskets strapped to their hands playing a game that reminded me of handball except the ball traveled at over 140 miles per hour according to the program when flung against the wall with huge momentum gained from the length of these baskets.  To make it even more exciting the crowd was wagering on each event the same as wagering is done on horse racing in the United States.  You could place a bet on any player to win, place or show.

Always ready to gamble I stepped up to the window and started putting my Navy paycheck on the line on the very next event . . . and for the following three events after that.   The results were about the same as if I had stayed at the cantina.  I lost about the same amount of money as I would have given Mable.  The memory however was not going to include the smell of the dead dog and at least the thrill had lasted about an hour and a half which made me think about Phillip and wonder if his romance with Maria was finally over.  I left the palace and made my way back to the cantina.

I stepped inside and a crowd of probably 20 people had now congregated inside, but Phillip was not to be seen.  “Perhaps he is upstairs,” I thought.  Maria was not in the crowd.  Neither was Mable.  I asked the bartender if he had seen Phillip.  He could tell by my gestures what I was asking and pointed to door and said “Amigo”.  Even with my limited understanding of Spanish I knew he was saying my friend had exited through the door.  “Damnit Phillip”, I thought.  “You wouldn’t go when I wanted you to go and now you have left on your own.”

I tried to put myself in Phillip’s shoes and decide if he was looking for me or had returned on his own to the base without me. It wasn’t even midnight yet so the latter seemed unlikely.  I decided he was probably looking for me so I went back outside and started making my way down the street sticking my head inside each cantina I came to. The main dirt road was a few blocks long and I suppose they called it main street.  After checking out at least 10 places equally as bad as the first place we had stopped I was at a loss what to do next.  There were more cantinas on some back streets, but I wasn’t about to take off by myself onto a dark back street in this town at what was now nearing 1:00 AM.  I didn’t think Phillip would either unless he was in the company of Maria and Mable . . . and then the thought hit me . . . that was a possibility.  “Long,  What have you gotten yourself into?”

I wasn’t worried about Maria, but if Mable had anything at all to do with this I suddenly felt Phillip could be in real danger.  “Calm down, Webster,” I kept telling myself.  “You are over reacting.”

I continued to walk around on the main street, staying in the middle of the street where I was plainly visible and hoping Phillip might see me.  As I neared “dead dog” cantina again I asked the bartender if “See amigo?” and he shook his head “No”.  I considered talking to one of the Mexican police who were to be seen here and there and i figured they might speak a little English, but then I thought, “What would I say to them?”  And I wasn’t sure they were any more trust worthy than Mable.  It was 2:00 AM and I thought “Phillip has to have gone back to the base without me.”

Confident I would find him when I got back to NTC I made my way down the dark dirt road we had walked up to get into to town earlier.  It was daylight then.  At two in the morning it was a lot worse than it was coming in.  I was relieved to arrive at the border where they asked me if I was bringing anything back across. “No sir” and I was back on US soil.

Twenty minutes and I was getting out at the front gate of NTC, worried sick about Phillip, but also pissed at him because I had just had to lay out for the whole taxi fare.  This month was going to be a long one.  Over half my check was gone and only one day had passed since payday.

I showed my ID and entered the base and began walking to the dormitory.  I thought how only hours ago we were walking the other direction thinking about all the fun we were getting ready to have.  None of this would have happened if I hadn’t been such an immature kid on the way back from the submarine base two weeks ago.  Phillip had never done anything I wouldn’t have done myself if given the same opportunities.  I was just jealous and  he was just trying to be a friend.

Then the thought hit me, “This wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t walked out on him again.”  Inside my heart I was praying he would be in our room.

I soon arrived.  I opened the door.  Phillip wasn’t there.

The Phillip Long Story: Buddies Until Abandoned

  1. The Graduate was Hot! KOMA was King!
  2. In the Navy – We Want You as a New Recruit
  3. Basic Training – First Abandonment
  4. To the Girl Who Loved Me
  5. A Cantina in Mexico – Second Abandonment
  6. Vanished In Tijuana – Fear and Panic  <- You are Here
  7. Phillip Needs Help – We Can’t Tell the Truth
  8. Thanksgiving Day – A Time for Healing
  9. The Captain’s Mast of Seaman Apprentice Webster
  10. Conclusion – Too Much Living to Do
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The Phillip Long Story: A Cantina In Mexico – The Second Abandonment

With recruit training behind us it is now time to get down to some advanced training.

We graduated from basic, returned home for 30 days leave where it was nice to not be called a maggot for four weeks.  We had been assigned to radioman advanced training school and returned to NTC San Diego to begin training which would eventually place us on board a ship together in perhaps one of the best striking fields available.

Because of the top-secret nature of working with radio communications it was a position that answered directly to a ship’s commander and always knew everything that was going on.  Where the next port of call was going to be, when you would get there, and it would also come with an automatic petty officer billet when arriving on board even though we would only be E-3.  However, before we started sailing somewhere exotic we had to get through training and while I felt pretty confident in my ability I was a bit concerned about Phillip.

In order to begin the technical part of the school we had four weeks to learn how to type Morse code at 30 words per minute.  Since I could already type I was half way there, but Phillip could do neither and really didn’t want to learn to do either, but knew he had no choice.  Failure meant getting reassigned as a boatsman’s mate and instead of sitting in a radio room enjoying the Navy from a position of comfort we could end up chipping paint all day long and I had no intention of chipping paint.  Neither did Phillip, but after the first week I could tell it was going to be a close call and I had a vested interest in getting him through this.

We stayed in a dormitory, 4 to a room, so it was easy to communicate with each other and while we were buddies in basic we really were getting close now.  We talked a lot in the more private surroundings and shared things with each other that made me feel like brothers more than buddies.  I had never had a brother so I had no benchmark, but I still had a feeling of responsibility that I wasn’t going to let my brother down.  I didn’t know how, but I was somehow going to make sure he passed the four-week test if we had to work 24 hours a day.

Phillip was living for that first weekend and I was too and decided we needed to twist off so I didn’t push to stay on base and study.  We still had three weeks left.  We went downtown San Diego about 8:00pm and saw a sign at the USO inviting us in to a free dance.  We went in and in typical Phillip Long fashion within minutes the cutest girl in the place is making eyes at him.

Suddenly “Drop Dead Gorgeous” asks Phillip to dance accompanied by her friend , Coyote Ugly, who is asking me to dance.  Being asked to dance at a USO means nothing normally.  The girls are generally volunteers from churches and they are normally heavily chaperoned.  They are there just to give the military guys a little friendly smile, conversation and some cookies and punch.  Coyote and I have very little in common, but Phillip and Gorgeous seem to be hitting it off really well and I can tell she is really enamored with Phillip and she isn’t trying to hide it from anyone except the eyes of the USO chaperons.

To make a long story short Phillip ask’s me to stay there with Coyote and cover for Gorgeous and him while they take a short walk . . . a two and a half hour short walk.  By the time they return I know more than I ever wanted to know about Coyote and am wondering if Phillip is ever going to return . . . and actually wondering where in the world he could have walked in downtown San Diego that took two and a half hours.  I could also tell by looking at Gorgeous a lot more than walking had been going on as she was pushing Coyote to hurry and get out of there before she got questioned by a chaperon about where she had been.

I looked at Long and said . . . “You didn’t.”

He looked back grinning that grin from ear to ear.

The next weekend we really should have stayed on base and studied, but Phillip talked me into going out to a submarine base at Point Loma about 15 miles remote from NTC where they were known to let servicemen drink at age 18 because at NTC you had to be 21.  We arrived and decided to bowl on one of the handful of bowling lanes they had available.  One the lane next to ours were two waves (female branch of Navy).  Phillip starts a conversation.  Normally waves won’t have anything to do with low-level enlisted men because the ratio of men to women is probably 20-1 and they seek out the men with higher rank  Actually they don’t seek at all.  They don’t have to.

To shorten this part of the story I will let you guess what is getting ready to transpire because the details are not important, but the scenario is not too different from the week before except this time it happened much faster and while wave #2 wasn’t ugly she was a total bitch who wouldn’t even dance with me while Phillip was gone and while he was only gone a little over 30 minutes I was pretty pissed when he returned.

We got on the bus to head back to base and Phillip knew I was steamed.

“What is it Webster” he asked.

“I’m not pissed at you, Phillip.”  I remember he looked down at the floor of the bus as he listened. “I’m just pissed. How the hell do you end up getting laid without even trying . . . and always by the best looking girls around . . . and I haven’t been laid one time in my whole life.  Just once I would like to know what it is like.  Yeah.  That pisses me off.  Sorry, but it does.”

I guess I expected him to laugh, but he didn’t.  He was silent for a little while and then he said.  “Webster, I’ve got an idea.  We’re going to Mexico.”

I looked at him like he had to be out of his mind. Mexico was currently off-limits to US military.  We had been told in the very first briefing at advanced training we were not to go across the border at any time while stationed at NTC.  They gave no reason.  It was a rule and to violate it was reason to be reprimanded under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  As far as I was concerned this conversation ended right then and it did not come up again for two weeks.

The next weekend we stayed on base and studied.  I had qualified that week at 30 words per minute and was now solely working to get Phillip into the technical portion of the training.  He was rapidly improving and once he got past the typing handicap it seemed like picking up the code was coming quickly. Still, we were dead broke and payday was a week away.  We studied.

If they could have given the test the following Friday I am almost certain Phillip would have passed, but it would be Tuesday before he would take it.  We got paid Friday and Phillip said, “Well, Webster.  Are you ready for Tijuana?”

We hadn’t talked about it since that night on the bus, but Phillip I found out had been doing some talking to some other servicemen who had been down to Mexico and there had been no reports of anyone being arrested for making the trip.  There were no MP (military police) and apparently several hundred servicemen were hitting the border every weekend.  An unenforced rule meant to be broken is the way he described it.

I thought long and hard . . . for about two seconds . . . and said you really think we can pull it off and not get into trouble.

“Webster, trust me.  I don’t want to get into trouble any more than you.  It will be fun and I am certain we have nothing to worry about.”

With those words of confidence we are getting some money and heading for the main gate where we get in a cab and head to the border . . . about 20 minutes south of NTC.

We crossed the border without incident.  It was still daylight and what greeted us on the other side was the dirtiest, filthiest place I had seen in my life.  We made our way by foot down a dirt road about a half mile to the area of Tijuana where the action was supposed to be.

Loud music was coming from a cantina on the right and we decided to step inside.  We had to make our way around a dead dog laying in the street about ten feet from the front door that had apparently been run over by a vehicle a couple of days before and nobody had bothered to remove it.  Flies swarmed it and the odor was sickening.

Once inside we sat at the bar and both ordered beers.  The place was empty but for two Mexican senoritas I will call Maria and Mable and the bartender.  Maria was probably about 20, very pretty, and she approached Phillip.  Mable wasn’t bad-looking either, but she was easily 30, maybe older, and had a hard look about her.  Her brown eyes made that hardness even more pronounced.  I immediately put up my guard because something told me this woman would cut you heart out for a price and not think twice.  Other than the hardness she had a nice body and certain sex appeal that I might have enjoyed more if not for the odor from the dead dog that kept slapping me in the nostrils.  She spoke for both of them and asked the bartender to bring drinks.  She didn’t ask Phillip or me if we would buy them drinks.  She ordered and when the bartender brought them she pointed to the drinks and looked at me said, “You pay.” It was not a question.

Maria takes Phillip by the hand and leads him to a table in the back of the cantina where it is dark and while not private, more private than the bar.  I also got the impression it was a preplanned thing they did when there were two men together to get them separated so they could work them easier.  I was making an assumption that both of them worked at the world’s oldest profession.  I wasn’t certain about Maria, but I had no doubt about Mable.  I am torn between wanting to move to a table in the other corner with Mable to get way from the front door and the odor of the dog and not wanting to be in a dark area of the room with Mable because of fear of what that might lead to.  For the time being I decided the dog was better.  Mable can speak very little English but enough to let me know she knows I am American military.  I ask her how she knows that. She points to my shoes.

Phillip and Maria appear to be having a very good time.  I notice them staring into each others eyes like two lovers that have been in love for years.  I am amazed.  Mable is so creepy in that area I can’t even look her in the eyes for more than a few seconds.  She is just way too hard.  Maria doesn’t appear to trying to put a hustle on Phillip, but by now Mable has made it clear she is a professional and that a “good time”  can be had “upstairs” and she had quoted me a price that equaled about half a month’s pay for my pay grade and there was no way.

“Come on Phillip.  Let’s go” I said.

Phillip and Maria are still doing the swan song in their dark corner and she is sitting in his lap with both arms around his neck.

“Come on man.  Either take her up stairs and get it over with and then let’s go or let’s go now.”  There is no response.

I look at Mable’s drink and I can see that it is just a matter of minutes before she is getting ready to order another one on me and I am ready to go.  Mable now decides to lower her price to less than half of her original request and suddenly the whole scene just overwhelms me.  The smell of the dog, the filth of the city. I have to get out of there.  I am not going to live the rest of my life remembering this as my first ever sexual encounter.  It just isn’t going to happen.

“Long.  Come on.  I am leaving.”  Phillip and Maria continue to ignore the rest of the world.

I head for the door.  Mable says “No go.”

“I’ll be back later” I shout as I walk out the door, leaving Phillip and Maria to share their new-found romance while I escape from Mable and the smell of the dog.

The Phillip Long Story: Buddies Until Abandoned

  1. The Graduate was Hot! KOMA was King!
  2. In the Navy – We Want You as a New Recruit
  3. Basic Training – First Abandonment
  4. To the Girl Who Loved Me
  5. A Cantina in Mexico – Second Abandonment  <- You are Here
  6. Vanished In Tijuana – Fear and Panic
  7. Phillip Needs Help – We Can’t Tell the Truth
  8. Thanksgiving Day – A Time for Healing
  9. The Captain’s Mast of Seaman Apprentice Webster
  10. Conclusion – Too Much Living to Do


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The Phillip Long Story: To the Girl Who Loved Me

The next chapter in this story is a very sensitive one.  There is someone who may stumble across it someday. I must write something personal to her if she happens to pass this way.

I have only talked to you twice in forty years and the conversations totaled less than 100 words.

Forty years ago you sent me love letters every day while I was in San Diego . . . each one smelled of your perfume and was sealed with a kiss.  Before I joined the Navy we had made plans to wed.  You were one of virtue and a woman any man would be proud to call his wife.  You fell in love with a man who was born under a wandering star and the forces of the universe tore us apart before our dreams were fulfilled.

Be grateful for our demise.  I have seen your accomplishments and witnessed the impact you have had on many others. Even from a distance and after so many years it has made me proud to see you  in newspapers, on the cover of magazines and on television. I know I would have held you back from your destiny.

I would rather you never see this, but if you should I do not ask for forgiveness.  I only want you to know I know how much you loved me and cared for me and though my actions did not reflect it . . . I also loved and cared for you very much.

I never deserved you and you deserved so much more.

’till . . .


The Phillip Long Story: Buddies Until Abandoned

  1. The Graduate was Hot! KOMA was King!
  2. In the Navy – We Want You as a New Recruit
  3. Basic Training – First Abandonment
  4. To the Girl Who Loved Me  <- You are Here
  5. A Cantina in Mexico – Second Abandonment
  6. Vanished In Tijuana – Fear and Panic
  7. Phillip Needs Help – We Can’t Tell the Truth
  8. Thanksgiving Day – A Time for Healing
  9. The Captain’s Mast of Seaman Apprentice Webster
  10. Conclusion – Too Much Living to Do



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The Phillip Long Story: Basic Training – First Abandonment

NTC San Diego

This is the Recruit Training Command at Naval Training Center in San Diego, CA.  On the left above the canal is Camp Nimitz where recruits spend their first four weeks before crossing the bridge to the buildings in the upper right.  In the background is Point Loma which I mention in chapter five.

The flight arrived at San Diego about midnight. On the way out Phillip had charmed the hostess into serving us drinks. I am sure she knew we weren’t 21, but Phillip had told her we were joining the service and I suppose she figured it didn’t hurt. We were strutting pretty tall when we got off the plane. That would quickly change.

We checked in at the military check in and were told to have a seat where about 20 others who had arrived ahead of us had already had seats. Phillip and I found places to sit on the floor. Within seconds a dark gray school bus pulls up and we are instructed to get in. Those would be the last polite words we would hear from anyone of authority for the next 10 weeks.

Naval Training Center (NTC) was only a few miles away and the trip was a short one. The bus pulls up to a paved lot and opens the door. A sailor in whites with a blue armlet climbs on board and says “Listen up! Outside there are some squares with numbers in them. Are you maggots capable of reading numbers? If so, get off this bus and find yourself a number. If not, get off anyway. NOW!”

I looked at Phillip. He looked at me. “Did he call us maggots?”

Little did we know this was only the beginning of hell. We were checked in and got to bed about 1:30 AM and at 4:00 AM Mr Armlet is waking us up with the word “maggots” again and we begin a long day of processing that included haircuts and getting new clothes and I don’t remember what else. It all turned kind of foggy from that point on.

The following morning Mr Armlet did not show up. We hear a much deeper and even louder voice, but his timing is still the same . . . 4:00 AM. “I better see every last one of your butts on that grinder in ten minutes.” He turned and walked out. Something told everyone in the barracks this was the real deal and we better be on that grinder in ten minutes. I think Phillip and I were there in three. We weren’t taking any chances.

We were at attention, or as close as a bunch of bumpkins on their second day of military life can be when Mr Brown uniform with a gold anchor on his hat approached us and said. “Maggots” (I was really beginning to hate that word) “My name is RDC King. I am your Company Commander. We are going to spend the next ten weeks together. During those ten weeks I intend to take every one of you apart piece by piece and put you back together the way the Navy wants you. You will still be maggots, but you will be my maggots and I build the best maggots in the US Navy. You are going to hate me. You are going to want to strike me. I challenge one of you to do that and set an example for the rest of the maggots when they see what that leads to.”

He stops and takes a breath and then he mellows his voice a bit as if there might actually be a kind bone somewhere in his body. “Do any of you boys (he didn’t use the m word) have leadership skills?” Everyone was afraid to say anything. “Surely some of you are leaders. Were any of you leaders in your schools?”

A couple of hands went up. Phillip half way raised his hand. He was only being honest, but I think he could smell a rat. RDC King walked up to Phillip and said, “Well, did you or didn’t you?” Phillip shook his head. “I can’t hear your head rattle.”

“Yes sir” Phillip replied.

“What did you lead.” King said in a very sarcastic way.

“I was class president, sir.”

“Then get up here,” King shouted.

With that exchange Phillip Long had become a squad leader and took his place at the front of the line.

What had just transpired had me grinning. I couldn’t help it. King picked up on my grin and suddenly RDC King is in my face. “What is your name?”

“Webster,” I responded.

“Are you a leader, Webster?”

“No, Sir” I shouted.

“I didn’t think so, Webster. You are a screw up, aren’t you, Webster?”

“Yes Sir”, I replied.

RDC King walked back to Phillip. “Long. Webster is in your squad. He is a screw up. Leader’s don’t have screw up’s on their squads. Give me 50 push ups, Long. NOW!”

Phillip hits the deck and everybody in the whole company is struggling to keep a straight face except Phillip who is questioning his leadership skills about now and wondering why he raised his hand.

The first week of basic training was filled with fundamental things that are designed to take you apart and make every man equal. Funny how all personality goes away when you are bald. Guys who had hair to their shoulders when they entered the gates of NTC now looked the same as those who came in with crew cuts. Everyone wears the same clothing and individual identity disappears. The first two weeks are hardest. It is more emotional than physical. It doesn’t matter who you were when you came in or where you came from . . . you are now a nobody. You are a maggot and will remain so until graduation.

Phillip proved to be a very good squad leader. There are lots of stories I could tell about little things that happened along the way, but nothing remarkable except for one thing that really pissed Phillip off. We had been in training for about two weeks when one day a bicycle approached and the rider handed a message to RDC King. He read the message and looked out at the company.

“Does anyone in the company know how to type?” King asks. There was something about the way this had come about that made me think I should raise my hand. I also knew raising your hand for anything could be risky. Nobody else responded. King walked up to me and instead of yelling he asked me in a normal voice where I learned to type.

“I took typing in school, sir.” I replied.

“Webster, you better be telling me the truth.” King warned. “Because if you aren’t you will be back here in an hour. I am sending you to battalion headquarters. I don’t like to send screw ups to battalion headquarters. You make me look bad, and I will have your ass. Am I clear?”

“Yes, Sir”

I made my way to the battalion office about 200 yards away and knocked on the door. I was told to enter. The battalion commander put me through a brief skills test and asked me some questions about myself and just like that I had found myself perhaps the cushiest job a recruit could have for the next eight weeks. I was the personal assistant of the battalion commander who arranged for me to be exempt from barracks fire watches at night because he wanted me alert during the day. I was given a bicycle to ride across the river to deliver his reports. Never did I stand a daily inspection again, only the major inspections, and ironically as I prepared reports every day I could look out the window and see all the fun I was missing as my company practiced on the grinder.

At night I would return to Company 505 for a place to sleep, do laundry and enjoy what social life we had. In the beginning there was a lot of resentment toward me for getting out of all the hard physical work, but it later started to wain, especially when I started testing the limits of what I could get away with on the other side of the river at base command. I would bring back cigarettes and candy bars and other things that were contraband and highly valued. I made sure I always took care of my “buddy”. After about two weeks I was no longer a “sack of shit” and back to being Webster again.

Phillip still didn’t like the fact we went in together and we were going to stick together until the end. “I couldn’t help it” I always told him.

Everything would have been fine if it ended there, but two more times I left Phillip on his own and both times ended in disasters.

The Phillip Long Story: Buddies Until Abandoned

  1. The Graduate was Hot! KOMA was King!
  2. In the Navy – We Want You as a New Recruit
  3. Basic Training – First Abandonment  <- You are Here
  4. To the Girl Who Loved Me
  5. A Cantina in Mexico – Second Abandonment
  6. Vanished In Tijuana – Fear and Panic
  7. Phillip Needs Help – We Can’t Tell the Truth
  8. Thanksgiving Day – A Time for Healing
  9. The Captain’s Mast of Seaman Apprentice Webster
  10. Conclusion – Too Much Living to Do


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The Phillip Long Story: In the Navy – We Want You as a New Recruit

In the Navy – We Want You as a New Recruit

(a few weeks before graduation 1969)

It was hard to believe it was really almost here. For 12 years I had been working to graduate. Suddenly is was within grasp. A little hard to believe, but at the same time a reality.

To celebrate I had been making plans for the ultimate party. Woodstock. I didn’t know how I was going to pull it off. I knew my parents would never give me any money to go to an event like that, but I figured if there was a will there was a way and my will was making big plans.

As I walked down the hall Phillip hollered out at me. “Webster, Hold Up”.  I stopped and waited. He caught up.

“What are you doing for lunch?”

“No plans.” I responded.

“I got a guy I want you to meet. He’s a recruiter at the post office downtown. Been in the Navy forever and you have to hear what he has to say.”

I agreed to lunch, but the last thing on my mind was joining the Navy. I was trying to decide between majoring in journalism at Texas Tech or University of Texas . . . not shipping out.

The recruiter was a fast talker. He was making promises faster than we could take them in, but one thing we kept hearing over and over was the word “buddy” and how if we went in on the “buddy” plan we would be together through basic training, through advanced training and in all probability be assigned to the same ship where we could see the world as “buddies”.

Then the recruiter started talking about how women loved men in uniform and how sailors were known to have women attracted to them like magnets. He was such a liar, but Phillip and I were sitting there like the two small town kids we were just awed by this man who had seen the world and the exotic experiences he was relating one after the other.

“Webster, if we go in together we can see the world together. And we’ll get more (the word Phillip used for sex) than we can shake a stick at.”

That did it. I knew Phillip had more than his share of sexual encounters in high school, but I was still a virgin. I had lied about a few, but when that remark came out of his mouth I grabbed the pen and without even talking to my parents or anyone else committed myself to six years of service to Uncle Sam.

We walked out of the recruiters office and I immediately began questioning what I had done. Goodbye Woodstock. Goodbye Texas Tech (or UT). Goodbye to every dream I had ever made.

But then, the wanderin’ star in me was excited by the new dreams the recruiter had created. Phillip and I gave each other a hug. It seemed like the thing two buddies should do. Now the really hard part was going to be to explain this to my parents

We were soon processed and put through physical exams and ordered to report under the “buddy” program to the United States Naval Training Center in San Diego California in early July.

The Phillip Long Story: Buddies Until Abandoned

  1. The Graduate was Hot! KOMA was King!
  2. In the Navy – We Want You as a New Recruit  <- You are Here
  3. Basic Training – First Abandonment
  4. To the Girl Who Loved Me
  5. A Cantina in Mexico – Second Abandonment
  6. Vanished In Tijuana – Fear and Panic
  7. Phillip Needs Help – We Can’t Tell the Truth
  8. Thanksgiving Day – A Time for Healing
  9. The Captain’s Mast of Seaman Apprentice Webster
  10. Conclusion – Too Much Living to Do


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Followup: Rickey Marson One of 26 Who Died In Assualt Attack

What Began as a Patrol Ended Up Major Action

Casualty information from the Vietnam War is often classified and difficult to obtain, but after publishing the original story about PFC Rickey Marson a few weeks ago I continued to search. I finally discovered a brief field report describing how 24 US Marines and two Navy medics lost their lives.

The Report:

Although the attack was planned for 1200, circumstances prevented the two companies from getting into position before 1400.

On commencement, Golf was attacking into the enemy’s line while Fox’s flanking attack from the north was able to roll up their line. The northern two-thirds of the enemy position was captured, with the NVA withdrawing toward the southern end of the ridge.

At that point, Fox was strung out along several hundred meters of the ridge line and Golf was not able to complete an uphill assault against the southern end of the ridge line before nightfall. Although 2/26 wanted to leave both companies in position through the night, permission was refused and once again the two companies withdrew to Hill 558, again forced to leave some of their dead behind. Once again,air and artillery fires blanketed the ridge line.

A battalion attack was planned for 10 Apr and executed as scheduled. When the Marines reached the top of the ridge line they met no resistance – the NVA had abandoned their positions and retreated into the jungles to the west.

What began as a patrol action had ended up as a major action which cost the lives of 26 Marines and sailors:

Golf 2/26, 06 May:

Cpl Herman A. Lohman, Twin Falls, ID
Cpl Edward A. McGrath, Astoria, NY
HM3 Russell W. Scarborough, Dunnellon, FL
Cpl James M. Trimble, Eureka, CA (BNR)
LCpl Manuel V. Romero, San Antonio, TX
Pfc Edward U. Masters, Winter Haven, FL
Pfc Anthony J. Pepper, Richmond, VA (BNR)
Pfc Robert G. Piazza, Merrick, NY

Fox and Golf 2/26, 07 May:

Company unknown:
Pfc Rickey J. Marson, Pampa, TX
Fox 2/26:
Sgt Edwin D. Connell,Hickory, NC
LCpl James R. Wells, Garden City, GA
LCpl Gilbert Wiley, New York, NY
Pfc Melvin L. Dolby, Osceola Mills, PA
Pfc Clifton Moses, Whitwell, TN
Pfc James D. Richardson, New Orleans, LA
Pfc Gilbert L. Zerbst, St Ignatius, MT
Pvt John F. Quattlebaum, Detroit, MI
Golf 2/26:
              Cpl Artis W. Meadows, Atlanta, GA
LCpl Eugene M. Johnson,Baltimore, MD
LCpl John M. Snyder, Webster Groves, MO
LCpl William L. Yohn, Fresno, CA
Pfc Gilbert J. Adame, Colton, CA
Pfc Thomas J. Bayes, Bayside, NY
Pfc Allan J. Gaines, Tuscaloosa, AL
H&S 2/26:
LCpl Lionel R. Crase,Missoula, MT
HN Roger M. Nelson, Sioux Falls, SD

With two exceptions the bodies of the Marines left behind on 06 and 07 Apr were recovered. Cpl James M. Trimble (Eureka, CA) and Pfc Anthony J. Pepper (VA), both of whom were known to have been killed in action on the 6th, could not be found. Their remains have not been recovered.

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