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Camp Larry Baxter

September 12, 2017

Camp Baxter

While in Da Nang, I thought I saw Camp Baxter. I did not yet have press credentials and the area was sealed with concertina topped with razor wire but I could see nothing worth a visit. There was never much at Camp Baxter, just a truck turnaround and loading for a trip back to Phu Bai. Even the name of Camp Baxter was gone. Back in the world people never heard of it. Those who did had perhaps forgotten, but it was named for Pfc. Larry Baxter, of Pierce City, Missouri, who drove a tanker truck carrying several thousand gallons of petroleum. It wasn’t a glamorous job like flying an F-4 Phantom over Hanoi, not the kind that brought promotions or medals. It was a job someone had to do.
Pierce City didn’t seem like the kind of town from which Baxter would have come. It was best known for an incident in 1901. A white woman was murdered and reportedly raped, and you already know how this story ends. It was a black man or men. They not only took the life of a beautiful white woman, they defiled her body. One black man was hanged, two were burned to death in their homes and 300 black citizens were banished from the town at gunpoint. Their homes, their land, their livestock, everything they were unable to carry with them, even their land, mysteriously disappeared. There was nothing for their children or grandchildren to return to in Pierce City.
I don’t know Baxter’s race or religion. I don’t know whether he was drafted or volunteered. I don’t know how he felt about the war or his country. All I know is what he did. Baxter’s tanker was hit by an RPG and set ablaze. Baxter could have jumped out of the truck and saved his life but that would have trapped the trucks and drivers behind him. Disregarding his own safety, Baxter drove the truck through intense enemy fire and despite being wounded drove the blazing truck off the road and over an embankment ensuring his own death but saving the lives of his comrades.
Baxter was posthumously awarded a Silver Star, not much of an award for one’s life. If he had thrown himself on a grenade to save a couple of buddies he would probably have received a Medal of Honor. Baxter saved more lives than that and his sacrifice wasn’t an instantaneous reaction. It was a considered plan. A motor transport depot was named for him and now that was gone, having an even shorter life than Baxter.
I don’t have many heroes left. One by one they have crumbled on feet of clay, and I am too old or wise or eccentric to consider rock musicians, athletes or actors as heroes. Larry Baxter and the CUPP Marines remain my heroes although Camp Baxter is gone and few signs of the CUPP Marines remain.
There is a footnote. I wrote a story, “Up the Street of No Joy With the Wild Bunch” about Motor Transport from Camp Baxter to the DMZ. None of the “Wild Bunch” contacted me but Larry Baxter’s family did. They wanted to know everything I knew about Baxter but I had written everything I knew about Baxter except what I know about his home town. For me, Baxter not only saved the lives of his comrades, he redeemed the reputation of his home town.

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Camp Larry Baxter

September 12, 2017

Camp Baxter

While in Da Nang, I thought I saw Camp Baxter. I did not yet have press credentials and the area was sealed with concertina topped with razor wire but I could see nothing worth a visit. There was never much at Camp Baxter, just a truck turnaround and loading for a trip back to Phu Bai. Even the name of Camp Baxter was gone. Back in the world people never heard of it. Those who did had perhaps forgotten, but it was named for Pfc. Larry Baxter, of Pierce City, Missouri, who drove a tanker truck carrying several thousand gallons of petroleum. It wasn’t a glamorous job like flying an F-4 Phantom over Hanoi, not the kind that brought promotions or medals. It was a job someone had to do.

Pierce City didn’t seem like the kind of town from which Baxter would have come. It was best known for an incident in 1901. A white woman was murdered and reportedly raped, and you already know how this story ends. It was a black man or men. They not only took the life of a beautiful white woman, they defiled her body. One black man was hanged, two were burned to death in their homes and 300 black citizens were banished from the town at gunpoint. Their homes, their land, their livestock, everything they were unable to carry with them, even their land, mysteriously disappeared. There was nothing for their children or grandchildren to return to in Pierce City.
I don’t know Baxter’s race or religion. I don’t know whether he was drafted or volunteered. I don’t know how he felt about the war or his country. All I know is what he did. Baxter’s tanker was hit by an RPG and set ablaze. Baxter could have jumped out of the truck and saved his life but that would have trapped the trucks and drivers behind him. Disregarding his own safety, Baxter drove the truck through intense enemy fire and despite being wounded drove the blazing truck off the road and over an embankment ensuring his own death but saving the lives of his comrades.
Baxter was posthumously awarded a Silver Star, not much of an award for one’s life. If he had thrown himself on a grenade to save a couple of buddies he would probably have received a Medal of Honor. Baxter saved more lives than that and his sacrifice wasn’t an instantaneous reaction. It was a considered plan. A motor transport depot was named for him and now that was gone, having an even shorter life than Baxter.
I don’t have many heroes left. One by one they have crumbled on feet of clay, and I am too old or wise or eccentric to consider rock musicians, athletes or actors as heroes. Larry Baxter and the CUPP Marines remain my heroes although Camp Baxter is gone and few signs of the CUPP Marines remain.
There is a footnote. I wrote a story, “Up the Street of No Joy With the Wild Bunch” about Motor Transport from Camp Baxter to the DMZ. None of the “Wild Bunch” contacted me but Larry Baxter’s family did. They wanted to know everything I knew about Larry but I had written everything I knew about Baxter except what I know about his home town. For me, Baxter not only saved the lives of his comrades, he redeemed the reputation of his home town.

A Snake Story Vietnam

May 31, 2017

This is a small part of a book I am writing. I am publishing it with the hope that someone else will remember it and send me their memory of it. This would have been December 1970. Col. Bernard Trainor was C.O. of Force Recon. He went on to become a General, a military correspondent for the New York Times, and a military expert for NBC. The corpsman may have been Doc Truhe.

Our last night harbor was selected while there was light to examine the area for likely paths of V.C. patrols, safest ways to escape if detected, a rally point if we separated, and to settle in a close circle in the best cover so that it would be harder for V.C. patrols to stumble upon us. Every Marine was in reach of the Marine on either side to silently alert him or to wake him if he snored.
“There’s a snake in here with us,” a Marine whispered our last night in the bush. “Pass it on.” That got everyone’s attention. What kind of snake? There are about a 140 species of snakes in Vietnam and 30 are venomous. King Cobra? Bamboo viper? Krait? Rhinoceros Viper? As the ground cooled, the snake would seek warmth and a Marine body on the ground was the ideal place to find warmth.
We got up cautiously and quietly and looked at the snake. It was bigger than any snake I had seen in a zoo or circus. Should we run far enough to escape it in our dreams and settle into another harbor with snake on our minds? The Team leader wanted to take the snake back for display in the Recon shack. That meant killing it but no one wanted to get close enough to kill it with a Ka-Bar. A shot meant running at least a mile because the shot would attract attention. It was hard to pinpoint the source of a shot in the mountains and the area was supposed to be relatively safe from V.C. other than couriers or unarmed bearers but once a shot was fired all illusions of safety evaporated faster than the sound that reverberated across the valleys.
The corpsman shot the snake in the head with his .45. That was the beginning of trouble. A sturdy Marine grabbed the snake to carry it over his shoulder but the dead snake had a mind of its own. Three Marines wrestled with the snake trying to stretch it out and carry it like a corpse. That also was unacceptable to the dead but lively snake.
I’m sure the leader was thinking about debriefing. “You jeopardized the mission and the team by killing a snake to mount in the Recon shack and then you ran off and left it when you had one night and a wakeup before extraction?”
The corpsman produced a large canvas bag and it took all hands to put and keep the snake in the bag with all hands and arms free of the coils. The sturdy Marine threw the bag over his shoulder and without a word or gesture we ran after the leader keeping our interval until the sturdy Marine signaled a stop. We were going to have to take turns carrying the heavy snake. And it had bitten him through the bag and his uniform.
The snake wasn’t venomous and didn’t have fangs but it had teeth that held prey until it could squeeze the life out of it. The corpsman looked at the bleeding bites, put some ointment on them and told the sturdy Marine to report to sickbay after debriefing. All hands stretched out, held down and calmed the dead snake with whispered curses and heavy breathing until the corpsman skinned it, rolled up the hide, stuffed it in the bag and handed the bag to the nearest Marine.
We moved quietly away from the remains two or three hundred yards and went into our night harbor knowing that the remains and the smell of blood from the skin that was still with us would attract carnivores. Possibly a tiger.
Later I was told that the snake was 17-feet-long and the skin was mounted in the Force Recon Shack. To put it in perspective in April, 2017, in Indonesia a 25-year-old man was swallowed by a 23 -foot python.

I’m not Transgender

January 5, 2017

In 1964, the Dallas Theater Center’s production of my adaptation of William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying to the stage was selected as the United States’ entry at the Theater of Nations Competition in Paris. Almost immediately the U.S. Ambassador to France, Chip Bolton, called to say that the French loved President Kennedy and publicity combining Dallas and “As I Lay Dying” would be seen by the French as a play about the assassination of Kennedy. The name had to be changed, he insisted. On a transatlantic telephone call I changed the name to “Journey to Jefferson”.
Jean, my late wife, and I went to Europe with the cast. We knew all of them, including “Miss Iceland’, having worked with all of them in the Dallas production. Our first landing in Europe was Brussels. Most of us immediately headed for the rest rooms. The ladies’ room was first and the men’s room a short distance away. We separated by gender and immediately came face-to-face inside. It was a large rest room and most of us looked around for our place. What we saw were young and old, male and female citizens of many nations and colors in a unisex rest room, the first we Americans had ever seen.
We were apprehensive at first but laughed about it the next day with jokes about recognizing each other by our socks. The Equal Rights Amendment, first proposed in 1923, failed in 1982 because of scare ads declaring that if the amendment passed men and women would have to use the same rest rooms. Terrifying indeed. Today there are unisex rest rooms everywhere and sometimes they are the only rest rooms.
Last summer, in Houston I saw signs asking, should men and women use the same rest rooms?, reviving the old scares that females would lose protection, families would be destroyed, young women would be drafted, traditional America would be lost. All because of transgendered people that five years ago most Americans had never heard of and most citizens still do not understand.

Star Wars Missile Defense

September 9, 2016

September 4, 2016, the San Antonio Express-News published a Tribune News Service report that the Pentagon gave Boeing a $2 billion performance bonus although the Ground-based Midcourse Defense System (GMD, formerly known as Star Wars) “failed to destroy their targets in six of eleven tests.” If a student gave the wrong answer on six out of eleven questions, that would be failure. If a teacher had several students who missed six out of eleven questions, the teacher would be fired.

Although it has never worked, the GMD is still regarded as the correct answer. On 9/11, Condoleezza Rice was scheduled to introduce a new national security policy with the GMD missile defense as a cornerstone and terrorism as an afterthought. (Washington Post (04/01/04) Her speech was interrupted by 19 hijackers.

There is a bright side. Reagan pledged that when the missile system worked he would give it to the Soviet Union (about halfway in the Reagan-Mondale Presidential Debate). If the missile defense worked, a President Trump might fulfill Reagan’s pledge and give GMD to his friend Vladimir Putin.

Christie Goodman: Everyday Theology: Like a Mother WrenGood lesson from a good Mother ren.

June 29, 2016

There are several milestones in a child’s life that parents celebrate: sleeping through the night, taking those first steps, going to the restroom on their own, making their own breakfast, first da…

Source: Christie Goodman: Everyday Theology: Like a Mother Wren

Dominating of Women

June 28, 2016

Most religions and many ethicists declare that the key ethics test for any society is how the strong treat the weak. That is why glacially the lot of women has improved during human history. Because men are physically stronger men have dominated women and have required birth on demand. The Gospel of John alludes to it…”not by the will of man.” (John 1:13) The New International Version softens it to will of the “husband”, but the Greek is clear: “by the will of man.” It has been in my lifetime that it became possible for a husband to rape his wife. The legal definition of rape excluded wives.

In the 21st Century the domination of women is less by fathers and husbands and more by male-dominated organizations such as religions, governments and employers whose religious beliefs trump the religious freedom of employees, especially women employees. Before 1854, when the “Immaculate Conception” of Mary became doctrine in the Catholic Church a fetus that did not have a human form could not receive religious rites. When the pope became infallible in 1870, the Immaculate Conception became dogma. Mary was the mother of Jesus but she could not be the “Mother of God” until she was freed of original sin at conception.

Thomas Aquinas disagreed with the concept because if Mary were sinless she did not need a savior. Neither the Orthodox Church nor Protestants accept the immaculate conception because there is no biblical base for it. Many Protestants, including Fundamentalists, believe “Mother of God” is sacrilegious or blasphemy.

When my wife and I married in 1953, our Southern Baptist pastor warned that if she became pregnant she should not go to a Catholic doctor or a Catholic hospital because they would sacrifice her life to save a fetus. Our married friends heard the same from their pastors. Southern Baptists believed that was deplorable prejudice toward women.

In response to Roe v. Wade, Fundamentalist icon W. A. Criswell, pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas, declared, “I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had life separate from the mother that it became an individual person, and it always has, therefore, seemed to me that what is best for the mother and for the future should be allowed.” W. Barry Garrett of Baptist Press wrote, “Religious liberty, human equality and justice are advanced by the Supreme Court abortion decision.”

In 1980 Fundamentalists took over the Southern Baptist Convention and many Fundamentalists including Southern Baptists began to believe that ensoulment happened at conception. There is neither a biblical nor a scientific reason for that belief. More than half of fertilized eggs are not implanted and are flushed from the body, yet each is more sacred than the life of a pregnant woman? And how are they treated? Like human waste. No religious rites. No protesters demanding they be saved. What kind of morality is that?

Furthermore, there is no big bang, no “moment” in conception. There are a half dozen processes that must occur before an egg is fertilized and the processes take about 24 hours. Approximately half of those implanted will never become a live birth. Protestants base their beliefs on the Bible but beginning in 1980, Fundamentalists began reading the Bible in a new way. Adam was made in the image of God but had no soul until God gave him the breath of life. (Gen. 2:7) In the parable of the Valley of Dry Bones, the bones grow sinew, flesh, skin but are not alive until they are given breath. (Ezek. 37:9)

The Bible requires abortion for some sins. (Num. Chapt.5; Lev. 20: 20, 21) The prophet Hosea prayed for God to punish wayward Israelites with abortion.(Hosea 9:14) When God wanted to punish the Midianites all the women were killed; neither pregnant women nor their fetuses were spared. (Num. Chapt. 31)

If men fight and one hits a pregnant woman causing an abortion, then he must pay the father for the loss of his property. If the woman is injured, it is eye for eye. (Ex. 21: 22-25) When God established the value of persons pregnant women have no greater value than sterile women. Infants have no value until they are a month old. (Lev. 27:1-7) When God commanded a census of the Levites, only males a month old or older were to be counted. (Num. 3:14, 15) Babies less than a month old didn’t have personhood.

Unless a man has a good life and proper burial, abortion is better. (Eccl. 6:3) The Apostle Paul wrote “The spiritual did not come first, but the natural (animal), and after that the spiritual.” (I Cor. 15:46) The writer of Hebrews stated that Levi existed in the loins of his great-grandfather. (Hebrew 7: 9-10)

The Fundamentalist position is based on 1 Tim. 2:12, “I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man.“ If women did not submit their uterus to the control of their father, husband or a male-dominated organization like a church, state or corporation then women would control reproduction and women would sometimes have authority over men if they said no. If men maintain control of reproduction, that means birth on demand.
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Sharia Law Coming

December 31, 2015

WARNING: Sharia law is sweeping the country and many public schools are requiring students to learn arabic numerals and use them in class assignments. Please call or write your elected officials at both the state and national level and demand that roman numerals become the exclusive numerals used in Christian America.

Religious Liberty for Whom?

December 9, 2015

The majority of American women and men have the religious freedom to plan their family as is best for the family without the dictate of a government or a religion. However a Christian employer can trump the religious freedom of Christian employees and discriminate against them by denying free benefits that a secular employer is required to give them. Trumping the religious freedom of others also increases employers’ profits.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans have the religious liberty to choose their life-mate free of the dictate of a government or a religion but until very recently have been denied the benefits of such alliances that were indiscriminately given to others. However, some elected officials claim the right to discriminate based on their reading of their Holy Book. The scripture of choice is often Leviticus 20 that describes sexual sins and the punishment of them. Verse 13 requires that if a man lies with a man as with a woman both must be put to death. If a man has sex with his aunt or his sister-in-law the punishment is that they will never have children. How is that punishment possible without abortion or infanticide? (Lev. 20: 20, 21)

Another favorite scripture is the letter to the church of gentile converts in Rome. Romans 1: 18-27, seems to describe those who formerly worshiped fertility gods where sex with a temple priest or priestess was worship. Judah mistook his daughter-in-law for a temple prostitute (priestess) and impregnated her. (Genesis 38) Thus was Tamar in the geneaology of both King David and Jesus. Greek converts would also know of Greek love. (Matt. 1: 3)

The condemnation does not end at verse 27, and the letter did not have chapters or verses. Those came much later. In Paul’s letter equal sins are greed, envy, gossip, slander, strife, insolence, arrogance, boastfulness. Chapter 2:1, states to the reader: “You, therefore have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.”

That’s not all. ““Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” (Romans 13: 1, 2) Perhaps those whose morality and politics are based on the Bible should read it.

Cyanide picking of the Bible to choose scriptures that condemn those you wish to injure is a sin. Christianity must not become the last refuge of the bigot.

The Benghazi Fraud

October 9, 2015

Now that the GOP has confessed that the Benghazi Committee was formed to damage the reputation and likely candidacy of Hillary Clinton, and bilk $4 million in campaign funding from taxpayers, perhaps its time to review how closely it was the reverse mirror image of the scandal of 9/11:

The lie that there was foreknowledge of the Benghazi attack but the government did nothing. Everyone who can read knows or should know that there were many advance warnings before 9/11, from US intelligence, from other nations, from a Taliban official and from the US media. Here is just one of them: “July 16, 2001, British spy agencies reported to Tony Blair that al-Qaida was in ‘the final stages’ of a terrorist attack based on intelligence…from US agencies, including the CIA and the National Security Agency.” (London Times, 6/14/02) Neither the congressional investigation nor the 9/11 Commission could explain why the White House did nothing to prepare or defend the nation against an imminent attack. Consequently, the most powerful nation the world has ever known was defeated by 19 hijackers armed with boxcutters. The watchdog media chose to nap.

The lie that the Obama administration ordered the US military to stand down: “For two years before 9/11, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) conducted exercises simulating hijacked airliners used as weapons to crash into targets and cause mass casualties. One of the imagined targets was the World Trade Center. In another exercise, jets performed a mock shoot down over the Atlantic Ocean…In a third scenario, the target was the Pentagon—but that drill was not run after Defense officials said it was unrealistic.” (USA Today 4/18/04) “After 9/11, the government claimed that this type of an attack was unexpected, and the US had only 14 fighters on standby to defend the nation.” (Newsday 9/23/01)

Missing emails: In 2007, Bush and Cheney were caught deleting 22 million emails on an illegal secret private email server hosted by the Republican party. The Washington Post reported, “Under federal law, the White House is required to maintain records, including e-mails, involving presidential decision making and deliberations.” However, a Post editorial suggested that the missing White House emails might not be a “scandal.” Maybe Rove and others were given “sloppy guidance” regarding email protocol. “Experts have said it doesn’t appear Clinton violated federal laws,” CNN conceded. “But that hasn’t stemmed the issue that has become more about bad optics and politics than any actual wrongdoing.” The National Law Journal agreed, noting that while the story has created a political furor, “any legal consequences are likely to prove negligible.” (MediaMatters, 3/13/15)

Like 9/11 lies the 22 million missing emails were shoved down the memory hole by the lapdog media.