119 Could this explain the holes in our southern border?


Tom Garrett 4 years ago

John Ladd owns 14,000 wild acres in southern Arizona, right up against the Mexican border. Talking about illegals, he says, "The easy part of getting across here is you got three miles to walk, and that's it. You get picked up at the highway and you're in."

His estimate of how many illegals have crossed his property?

"About a half a million people have been caught on the ranch. And that's what's been caught - that's not what's got through."

Ladd says there are illegal drugs openly coming across hsi property in trucks. He showed a border patrol agent a wall on his property that has been cut three times since February of last year. He also says they bring in ramps from Mexico, set them up on either side of the wall, and just cruise over. He adds that drug dealers keep on cutting all of his fences along the highway.

The question is, of course, how they can be so blatant and open about it. Ladd believes the reason the illegals are so relaxed and confident is that many border patrol agents are on the take.

"I don't think the general public knows how much money is involved with the people trade and the drug trade, and the bribe money to allow it to be coming into the U.S. is astronomical," he says.

I looked into that and was shocked to find that the situation is, indeed, bad. It is so bad that "border corruption task forces" have been created. I didn't even know there were such things, but in 2007 there were already 6 of them, and now there are 24.

What does that say?

I was also astounded to discover that a recent report from the Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General lists 358 corruption convictions of Customs and Border Protection employees and their associates since in the last 9 years.

And complaints of misconduct are up by 77 percent.

Back when I was in the military and bases were being closed because the land was wanted for other purposes, I asked a question: Since we have two problems--where to locate military bases and how to button up our southern border, why don't we just locate the majority of our military bases along the southern border?

Military bases are very different from other areas. Anyone who illegally enters a military base can be--and will be!--fired upon if he is detected and does not halt as ordered. That would end the problem, not by killing off illegals, but by convincing them that the risk is too high.

I don't know. There must be something we can do.

Maybe the way to keep people on the other side of the border is to put them in prison when we find them or at least send them straight back the minute we catch them.

What can we do about all this? It's been 30 years now I've been in Arizona wondering when something would be done. Thirty years!! Congress and the President should be ashamed of themselves.


Ronald Hamric 4 years ago

Tom, The money involved is astronomical, billions. I've always been of the mind that the flow of illegals North will not end until Mexico decides it will end. Were Mexico to take the same approach on their Northern border that they do on their Southern border, the flow would practically cease. But the bottom line is $$$$. It is in Mexico's self interest to have so many of it's people infiltrating North so they can send billions of US dollars back to Mexico. I'm not certain which is Mexico's largest monetary "gift" from the American taxpayer, the foreign aid sent to them or the $$$ sent back to Mexico from it's citizens residing here illegally. Last I heard, the money going South is second only to oil as contributing to Mexico's treasury. As I've said so many times before, Mexico is not a friend of the United States. That Americans still go to that country for whatever justification simply plays into the sham that we have been seeing for so many decades. The unique aspect of the situation is that the Democratic party, recognizing that like Mexico, it is not in their best interest to stop the human flow North. They see it rightfully as more "entitlement minded" individuals that will enhance the numbers of their base. The Democrats have long turned away from any semblance of patriotic nationalism, in favor of sacrificing this nation's sovereignty for their progressive/socilaist agenda. And it's working for them very well, as half this country has "drunk the koolaid".


Pat Randall 4 years ago

Why do we keep sending Mexico foreign aid?
Does it go straight into the politicians pockets or where?


Ronald Hamric 4 years ago

Pat, I'm not sure the politicians have any room in their pockets for any foreighn aid money since their pockets are stuffed with drug cartell cash. That applies to a number of our politicians as well.


ALLAN SIMS 4 years ago

I'm re-reading Desert Gold, first published in 1913 (100 years ago), and it is about the same problem.

Then, it was described as raiders coming across robbing the people north of the border, and focusing on a ranch that touches the border, and their surrounding ranchers.

Even though it was fictional, it reflected a real situation back then that was as dangerous as now.


Tom Garrett 4 years ago


You began an education for me that ended in a lot of research.

I have a much better idea what's going on now, and I suspect there is a way we can force Mexico to take action to do something about what's going on.

First of all, some numbers:

• Ninety percent of Mexican trade is under free trade agreements.

• In 2006, trade with Mexico's two northern partners accounted for 90% of its exports.

• According to the Forbes Global 2000 list of the world's largest companies in 2008, Mexico had 16 companies in the list.

There's where we get the leverage. Since Mexico's economy is so dependent upon selling to us, all we have to do is threaten to place import taxes on Mexican products and they'll have to take action.

It's easy to see what's happening. The ricvh in Mexico are getting richer while the poor either get poorer or come here--and send mony back home, andjust as you said, remittances, or contributions sent by Mexicans living abroad to their families at home in Mexico, mostly from the United States, are a growing part of the Mexican economy; they reached $18 billion in 2005.

And why doesn't Mexico do anything about stopping the flow of people across our border? Easy. Again, just as you said: Currently 17% of the population lives below Mexico's own poverty line, making Mexico rank behind Kazakhstan, Bulgaria and Thailand.

And I have the perfect answer: Put the arm on Mexico to do just one thing--make it illegal to leave Mexico without a valid visa from the country to which you are traveling. That way we can we can take anyone we find here without a valid American visa, arrest him, and send him back home--headed straight for prison.

Would stop the flow in a month. No one wants to spend a couple of years in a Mexican prison.

How do we get a movement started to get that done?

The Tea Party.

A new trade agreement with Mexico could be the issue in the next election. We don't have to offer them a thing. All we have to do is threaten to reduce out participation in NAFTA. We can show them the numbers--what they are making selling to us, what illegal immigartion is costing us, and tell them we demand equity. If they want to trade with us they have to work with us as a partner, not as a hog trough.

Odd thing, Alan. When I saw that title I said, "Huh! So there are two books with the same name." I read one written by a couple who spent time in the desert actually mining gold. I went to look it up and there was no way to figure out which of the more than dozen books with the same name it was. Crazy, no?


ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 12 months ago

Gee, and I thought there was only one. (:-))

Although I thought the date would give it away.

Zane Grey's great novel Published by Harper & Brothers in 1913


Tom Garrett 3 years, 12 months ago

I Zane Grey novels early. Mom and Pop gave me three of them for Christmas 1944. They were (have to guess at the titles) Betty Zane, The Spirit of the Border, and Riders of the Purple Sage (I got them right! At first I thought it was Billy Zane).

If ever there was a perfect trio of books, that was it. The first two are about Lew Wetzel, a real pioneer (they say he was a lot like Daniel Boone) who fought along the Ohio Valley. What great books for a kid to read. Wetzel, they say, was able to run faster than any indian who ever lived, and he could run and load his musket at the same time, stopping to pick off one of the crowd chasing him, running again, shooting again. The indians hated him, and he wore his hair long so that it flew in the air behind him.

When I got done with Betty Zane, the first book, I mentioned it to a teacher (7th grade) and she told me he was a real person, so I looked him up. Guess what? His family came from the same little place in Germany that mine did, Baden-Baden. Later on I read two other Zane Grey books that had him in them: Let's see-e-e-e. The Plainsman and one other that I can't remember.

As for Riders of the Purple Sage, it took place right here under the Rim. Great book. Only thing wrong with it was I didn't think much of the LDS after I read it, and it was a long time before I learned better (I lived in Utah for a while).

Allan, I read a book by Zane Grey a while back that you would love. Everyone knows that he had a cabin here, but very few people know that in 1922 he wrote a book about the Rim Country. It's called Tales of Lonely Trails. Great book! Two things in it say a lot, partly about Grey, and partly about 1919 (which is the time he wrote about).

The first one is the time he was on horseback over by the trails that lead up to the Rim over on the eastern side of Milk Ranch Point. He saw a "big brown bear" right ahead of him among the trees, had to rein in and turn his horse, and almost got cleaned out of the saddle by a low branch. Then, he says, on a second look his "big brown bear" turned out to be a cow chewing her cud and wondering all the excitementn was about. :-)

The second one is the time he writes about a trip on horseback and wagon from up here, along Pine Creek, and down to Payson, the trip on which he lost his carbine somehow or other. It took six hours. That kind of puts things in perspective, doesn't it.

He went back for his rifle, by the way, but never found it. Imagine what that thing would be worth if someone could find it today. It would be a rusty devil, but it would be a risty devil worth a fortune.

By the way, in Betty Zane, he writes about one of ancestors of that name who became famous at a time when the men on the ramparts of the fort ran out of powder. The indians were firing through the slits between the logs and she made a run from the storehouse to the walls through a hail of lead carrying a load of powder in her lifted up apron. True story.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 12 months ago

I just remembered that Zane Grey had another cabin, up in the Rogue River area in Oregon, right where Fred Franz is headed--Grant's Pass. We'll have to get Fred to go see it if it's still there.

Haven't heard a word from Fred. Will send him an e-mail, but doubt he'll get it.


ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 12 months ago

Yeah, those are all great books. I have the Tales of Lonely Trails, as well. I'll have to re-read it. I hadn't placed the location of the bear incident as being on Milk Ranch Point. I was up there back in the late spring, BTW. I need to get back up there and find that rifle. (:-))

Funny, years ago, we were in Colorado at a National Forest Center and they had an old rifle on display, that had been found leaning against a tree for over 70 years; and which my son still remembers. He told me as we were hiking on the point back in the spring that he remembered that old rifle (All rusty and the stock in bad shape), and he hoped he could find one like it along the trail we were making cross country along the point. He was all excited about finding a piece of real history just as it might have been left,or lost.

What a coincidence!


Tom Garrett 3 years, 12 months ago

Sorry, Allan. I didn't say that right. When I said "on the eastern side of Milk Ranch Point" I meant that he was east of Milk Ranch Point, but down below the Rim. Toward the east end of the Rim in that area there are a couple of places where you can get down from above on a horse, and maybe even with a jeep or something. It was over in that area. I used to know just where everything was, but it has been a long time since I've been out there. The area before Milk Ranch Point Road meets the Rim Road is all cut with shallow canyons. Great book!

What a thing it would be to find that rifle. Something like that makes you think. You wonder why he couldn't find it, not to mention how it dropped out of the scabbard and hit the ground without being heard.

It's like "losing" something in the house. It's usually something you did without thinking. Know what I mean? Had something in your hand, saw something on the floor, bent over to pick it up, set the "something" down on a shelf near the floor, and forgot about it.

I used to roam the woods when I was a kid. Never worried about getting lost, why I don't know. One day I crossed a wide field, climbed a 300 year old stone wall, entered some woods, and went another couple of miles. When I came back I took a slightly different way back. When I came to the wall I clambered over it, crossed the field, and went up a hill--just the reverse of what I had done earlier.

Suddenly, there wasn't a %$#@! thing I recognized.

That really blew my mind. It seemed impossible. I should have been in view of the highway, but all I saw were hills, hills, and more hills.


Turned around and went back. It took a while, but I finally discovered that the old wall split into two walls at an angle about a quarter mile from where I crossed it the first time. So when I climbed it and crossed a field it was a different field, and the hill was a different hill. Slowly but surely, the terrain turned me about 15 degrees and ran me into stuff I had never seen. CT is all low hills, one after the other, with no sight-line. The only time you get a look ahead is when you come to a glacial valley. All of a sudden, as you are walking along, the spaces between the hills all line up in a row and you can see for maybe 15 miles. You can tell the glacial valleys. They always have a U-shape instead of the V-shape of a regular one.

You know what was fun? Right out there in the middle of nowhere you'd find those old stone walls, usually about half collapsed. CT was scoured by the glaciers and so the fields are half soil and half rocks.* To get rid of them so they could plow, the old timers piled the rocks up and made walls. Whenever I came to one I always remembered it and came back and followed it. Why? To find an old foundation or--best of all--some apple, pear, or cherry trees. Had many a pigout that way. :-)

  • You know where most of CT is? In the Atlantic. In a huge terminal moraine called Long Island. :-)

Pat Randall 3 years, 12 months ago

My parents had first editions of Zane Grey books. I tried reading them and they are like the history that people are now writing about Payson. A bunch of crap. Yes my parents were alive and met him. No I don't have the books they were sold at least 50 yrs. ago.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 12 months ago


The one book I know you'd enjoy is the one Allan and I have been talking about: Tales of Lonely Trails. He just talks about the everyday things up here. The weather, the orchards down by the Natural Bridge, Boardmans, riding the Rim Country, and whatnot. It a good read. He wasn't trying to impress anyone; he was just talking about a place where he spent a lot of his time.

Actually, most of the book doesn't take place here, but the countryside is always western, and so are the people--except for the Japanese cook they have along at times.

You learn a lot just by accident. For one thing, I learned that in a year with a good acorn crop there would be "plenty of bear." Don't ask me why. I suppose he meant to say that there would be plenty of bear around places where the acorns have dropped. That makes sense; you can see the same thing in the backberry patches up here.

Grey makes no bones about the fact that he is strictly an amateur when it comes to getting around in rough country. Take the episode with the bear that turned out to be a steer. Though he makes light of it at times, he points out that he really screwed up. If it had been a bear he'd have been in big trouble because he had a lever action rifle, was on a horse, and didn't yank the lever down the way you should to be sure you get another round in the chamber. The result was--now that I remember things a little better (it's been many years since I read it)--a shell jammed in the action. He could not get the gun cleared. So there he was, on a horse that was giving him a hard time, unarmed, and facing a "red cinnamon bear." He dropped his weapon and shied straight up a tree.

You learn a lot about horses in the book. I may have spent half of my life in the open, but horses? Don't know a thing about them. All I know is what I've seen in the movies, and in them the horses are as obedient as pet dogs. Grey's book was one place I learned better. Horses--as you folks no doubt know, though I hadn't a clue--are not easy to get along with. I learned a little about that in a Pan paperback I picked up in a bookstore in Karachi in 1959 for two shillings sixpence: Tschiffelly's Ride. You ought to read it. Honestly. You'd love it. Back in 1925 a man rode 10,000 miles from Rio to Washington. He had two horses, one named Gato (cat); the other name I forget, but it might have been Mancha. Poor guy. Made it all the way across mountains and through jungle to the United States and had one of his horses hit by a car in Ohio on virtually the last leg of his ride.

One thing I learned about Grey was that he was as human as the rest of us. They were deer hunting, saw a magnificent bull elk, and never fired on it. He's not too clear about it, but he does say he couldn't find a reason to kill it. And another time he and someone else chased a flock of wild turkeys like mad but never got a clear shot, and he said there was no point in firing randomly. THAT I can relate to.


Pat Randall 3 years, 12 months ago

Did the book say how long it took to ride that 10,000 miles? I think that is a wild tale. Horses cannot travel day after day without rest. Western writers should leave the writing to people who know about the country and horses. If the horse really made it that far, it probably fell over dead before a car hit it.


ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 12 months ago

Thanks for the info Tom!

I'll try to get over there on the point before it gets too hot, with book in hand. That should be interesting. (:-))

As for not hearing the gun fall in the woods? I've dropped stuff like that in the woods and can say that pine needles tend to make it quiet. (Although not from horseback, though I've had a bit of time on the hurricane deck.) I've had to backtrack more than once to find something that bounced out of a pack, or unsnapped itself from a lanyard.

And, you know, I've never been 'really' lost in the woods (Knock on wood). I've lost my way, but unless you're a kid in CT or in a really big wilderness its hard to get really, really lost. But, I do remember, as a kid, being in the deep woods of Alabama and imagined I was lost, until five minutes later I stepped into a road that ran close to my house. Now that I say that, I'll probably wind up on the wrong side of Baker's Butte instead of in the area you describe. (:-)) That'd be funny, wouldn't it? Ha.

I suspect the fellow traveling from SA to the East Coast of NA would have done it in easy stages. And, I envy the fellow. My big dream in the Air Force was to get out, go to Silver City NM, sell my car and buy a horse and pack mule.

From there, I was going to ride the Rockies as far north as I could before the snow socked me in, and then pick up from there the next year and work my way over to White Horse in Canada; then on over into Alaska. But, when the time came, practicality set in, and I went home and started school. (:-))

I've always regretted not taking that trip.




John Lemon 3 years, 12 months ago

Tom; Have you read the Grey book abougt the Pleasant Valley War? I think that it was called "Last Man Standing" but I could be incorrect since it has been some time since I read it. The book is a fictional novel and does not exactly fit the truth as we know it, but it does add to a overall view of the conflict.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 12 months ago


You cracked me up! :-)

Trust me. The book is authentic, and documented all the way from Rio to Washington. Get a copy. You'll love it. Tschiffely was Swiss. He was living in Rio (as a lot of Europeans do, don't ask me why). Anyway, get a copy. You'll genuinely enjoy it.


Hope I haven't given you a bum steer (no pun intended). That's the way I remember it, that Grey was over there in those deep cuts. I love that country over there. Used to hike it. I sure you've driven Milk Ranch Point Road. I'll never forget the first time I drove that road with Lolly. It seemed like we were out of the car and staring down at the terrain below once every five minutes. The views are unbelievable.

"on the hurricane deck..."

The minute I read that it sounded so familiar that I knew I had read it before. I looked it up and found that it comes from this title: "A Texas Cowboy: or, Fifteen Years on the Hurricane Deck of a Spanish Pony" by Charles A. Siringo.

Trouble is, I can't for the life of me remember if I ever read the book or not, though it is so hauntingly familiar I must have. I just can't quite remember when.

Sure is a hell of a title, isn't it? Says a lot about the person who wrote it, and about what a real cowboy's lfe was like.

Uh-oh! I'm getting a memory of some kind, just coming in as I am typing this. If that's the book I think it is, then there's a place in it somewhere where he is big trouble in some kind of spot where he is trapped in an area along a riverbank or some other kind of dropoff. Details? Uh-uh. Anyone remember anything about that? It was quite unique.

Allan, That would have been one hell of a ride. Too bad you never made it.

While I was in the Air Force in 1959 (Japan) I saw a John Wayne movie (the one he made three times with different characters, but always the same basic plot), Rio Bravo. After listening to Dean Martin sing "My Rifle, My Pony, and Me" I was bound and determined to get out of the AF and travel around in a fixed up van--alone and happy. Didn't work out that way. I was transferred to Karachi, met Lolly, and at last found my life. Didn't have to look any farther.

Ever seen Rio Lobo or El Dorado? Exact same movie as Rio Bravo. Strange that they made it three times.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 12 months ago

No, John. Never read Grey's book on the Pleasant Valley war, but I've read a few others. It can be hard to choose sides. Depends on who's telling the story. In one if the novels I wrote the time is 1938 Arizona, and even then there are still repercussions of that scrap. I should probably mention that the novel was never published. Never even was submitted. I wrote six of them before I submitted the first one, figuring you need to know your job before you bother someone with what you've done. I had them all lined up. Was going to submit all of them: Two suspense novels, a science fiction novel, and a science fiction trilogy--best of all of them. Sent the first ione in, had it accepted by the first place I sent it to, and published. Sent in the second one with the same result. Then it dawned on me. No one was buying fiction anymore, so why was I wasting my time? I could have made more money standing by the side of the road that said, "I write for food." I don't see why the publisher even bothered. If I didn't make much, he couldn't have made much either.

Agree, Bob. Dedera's book is really good. Very authentic. I liken it to Nolan's book, "The West of Billy the Kid." There are some great books about Arizona in the late 1800's, some REALLY good books. I'm a bit under the weather right now or I'd go dig up a couple of them and mention them (first upper respiratory thing in 30 years, been running a fever on and off, mostly on, for five days).


ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 12 months ago

I should smile that Siringo did use the phrase in his title. (I downloaded his book from the Library of Congress last year, but still haven't read all of it.) However, I've read that phrase so often in novels (L'Amour used it in several of his novels as did Luke Short at least once, if I remember right.) that it would be easy for anyone to pick it up for use in their own vernacular.

I first heard it from my dad, who worked for some time on a ranch in the Panhandle, back in the 30’s. He rode fence on the Fuller Ranch, which took several weeks for each round he made. He took two ol' hammer-headed mustangs, with a wagon full of posts and wire pulled by two big mules. And, he loved to tell of the mustangs bowing their backs, bucking the kinks out, and then crow-hopping around, until horse and rider were warmed up and his expression was “When you’re on the hurricane deck, and the hoss is bowing up under you, the ground sure looks far off”. He said a horse that wouldn’t do that wasn’t worth taking on a long trip like he went on.

I also heard it used once in Montana from a wrangler I had a beer with. (His life story would have made Sirango's look tame.) So, it was a common phrase in the day.

Once on a hunting trip, I used the term just sort of off hand. Our wrangler laughed and said his dad used that term when he was a little boy. So with that, the taciturn fellow who usually didn’t say 5 words in a day, talked me into riding ahead with him to set up our next camp, and jawed the rest of the day away.


Pat Randall 3 years, 12 months ago

Mr. Sims, You men will believe anything.
My husband read every L'Amour book he could get his hands on. Insisted I read one and L'Amour is another crackpot. As I said before the western writers should look at a map once in awhile. The one I read some man rode off Polles Mesa to Cherry Creek and back in one day. In the first place there is only one way up to Polles Mesa and you can't ride a horse off of it any other way. The trip was impossible the way he described it. Yes I know about Polles Mesa. It is on the LF ranch Forest Service allotment for cattle which we owned for about 13 years. West of the Doll Baby Ranch. I rode a horse up there three times from the ranch house to help brand calves. On top of it is a place that does not have one stone on it that is called the race track. Possibly the Indians cleared the rocks off and used it for that. Don't know. I am not a western writer. (:
There have been airplanes that have landed on it.

I may have some of the books if you would like to have them. I will look in my garage to make sure.


ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 11 months ago

Hi, Pat.

We are quite aware that they are highly fictionalized. I know that L'Amour did spend some efforts to research his locations, but I have been in some of those same places, and yeah, they didn't look like the descriptions. But, they made good stories. (:-))

I do believe that L'Amour, for example, did know quite a few of the older folks who actually lived lives that he styled some of his characters on. For example he told of working with an old man in the panhandle, stripping hides off overly ripe cattle that had died for lack of water.

According to L'Amour this old fellow was a white man who'd been captured by the Apaches before Crook ran them into the ground. Now, maybe the old man was pulling the wool over his eyes. (I find that book writers, myself included, tend to be a bit gullible; so we should take all that with a grain of salt for sure.) (:-))

Having said all that, I've known a few old gents myself, who were born in the 1880's and up. When I was a boy, my uncle never went anywhere without his nickel-plated .45 in a shoulder holster. That was back in Alabama. He was a rough, gruff man, and scared most folks to death, me included. But, he delighted in buying me ice cream cones, and he won me over. I asked him if he'd ever killed anyone and he said "Only two, son, and they needed it". I went back to being scared of him for awhile. I later verified the truth of it, seeing a clipping from 1913, where he had killed a man in a saloon for having mishandled a girl, and his family told of the other incident where he was wounded and lived when the other man died.

My grandmother witnessed a murder when she was 5 years old, and saw where the man hid the gun in a hollow tree. Based on her testimony, he was hung.

My own dad had to leave Alabama in the early 30's because he was accused of murder. He hoboed around for several years, starving, getting beat up, working on chain gangs for vagrancy and such until he got that job riding fence in the Panhandle.

He told me of being in a boom town in west Texas when a drunk slipped his arm around my dad's shoulders and put a knife to his throat. The man ran away when he heard the click of my Dad's short-barreled .45 under his coat.

So, if L'Amour or Grey overly exaggerated here and there, so what? We know things like that did happen, and if not here, then it did somewhere else. Thank goodness for the legacy of that bygone era. It is interesting to note that both men were recognized by congress as presenting the image of the Americans in wholesome ways which inspired millions to live that same wholesome and honorable way. So, even though it was pure fiction, it presented a window to the days when America was as the framers intended it to be.

Take care


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago


A word here and a word there says a lot. People recognize each other from a couple of words. It's all it takes. Saw a lot of that in the Air Force. People knew who they were talking to in just a couple of minutes. In all my years there was just one person I didn't get along with--or I should say just one person who went out of his way to not get along with me. It wasn't until after he retired and went back where he came from that it dawned on me why. It was the exact reverse of what you're talking about. The guy was an elitist, didn't belong in a uniform, should have chosen something else to do.

I walked into the office of my new outfit at RAF Upper-Heyford, England, an FTD. There sat a pudgy senior master sergeant admin man. I told him who I was, which came as no surprise, I guess, since he'd been sent a copy of my orders.

Most of the time at a moment like that people talk about things the new guy needs. You know? Finding a house for the family? Picking up his car at the port? Instead, this character picked up a copy of the Air Training Command magazine turned to an article, and asked me, "Did you write this?"

I was always writing. Air Force pay was okay. I never complained about it because it was my choice to wear that uniform, but I wrote a little here and a little there as a way to make an extra buck. It was something you could do even if you were statiioned on top of a mountain in the Phillipines. No big deal, but a nice way to be able to buy something for the wife and kids.

"Yes," I told him.

He never said another word about it, but for the whole year that our tours overlapped he seemed to have some deep-rooted, hard to understand, anger in him. He did everything he dared do to give me a hard time, and he was always pissed off whenever something backfired on him. For example, when we were moving the whole place to a new building he looked at me and said, "You're a master sergeant, you run the move."

I did. Worked fine. No problem. We were just 21 guys--all NCO's. No troops to do the grunt work. We had to do it. We busted our butts, but in a way it was the easiest job we ever did. Nobody screwing off. He hated it. He wanted to hear bitching and complaining.

Another time he found out that I had gotten interested in clocks. Clocks are fine mechanisms. Some of them are beautifully made, and all of them are fun to work and get running again. (Nameless) found out that I had bought a marble clock for £7 that didn't work, and I was working on it. Just about the whole doggone detachment was standing at the coffee bar one morning and (nameless) looked at me and said--loudly!--"Hey, Garrett! If you want to buy marble clocks that don't work, I'll sell you a couple for five pounds."



Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

I asked someone what that was ll about and he told me that (nameless) was buying old clocks to take back to the States and sell at a profit. Nothing wrong with that, but I was more interested in fixing them than making a buck.

I can be a bit of a devil when I put my mind to it, and that seemed like the perfect chance. I waited a few days--until we were all in the same place again. Then I took out a five pound note and handed it to him.

"Here's the five pounds I owe you."

He frowned but took the money. "For what?"

"For the two marble clocks you're going to sell me."

He was the kind of guy who cannot go back on anything he says. I got two beautiful marble clocks. Still have one of them.

It runs like a....

....clock. :-)

Long after he left one of my buddies--Roger Torgeson, a jet engine man--chuckled and said, "You never got it."

"Got what?"

"Why (nameless) hated you."

"You're right there."

"That article you wrote. It was about picking your fights, not wasting time on things that you can't change, just living from day to day."

"Right. Seems to me that's a good way to stay happy in uniform."

"(Nameless) took it to have a hidden meaning. He thought you were talking about the civil rights movement."

"Are you kidding? That article was about Air Force life. What do I know about civil rights?You know what I meant--the mission comes first. You do what you have to do because doing anything else is just spinning your wheels. Where'd he get that idea?"

"It was the way he looked at everything."

I've gone back and reread that article a couple of times. How anyone could have seen it that way is beyond me. It was the exact opposite of what I was saying. I was sending in English and he was receiving in Sanskrit.

The jerk went home, had a heart attack two weeks later, and died soon afterward.


You sound like you spent a lot of time on a horse. Just think about it; I have once sat a horse.

Sometimes when I'm talking with someone from up here I mention I was born in New York City just to see the faint look of shock.

Works too. :-)


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago


"Just think about it; I have once sat a horse."

Should have read, ""Just think about it; I have NEVER once sat a horse."

Ate part of a few of them, though. Back in Wichita Falls there was a burger place that sold the largest burgers in town. Single patties, but BIG, and with a roll to match. They were the best I ever tasted. I went there all the time. So did everyone I knew.

One day they shut the place down. They were mixing in horsemeat. Never opened again, either. My comment was simple, "Hey! If they taste that good what's to worry?"

Some health thing, they said. Meat wasn't inspected and stamped.

So look at it and stamp it. They feed it to dogs, don't they.

Talking about which, I do not know how many books I've read where they ate the horses when times got tough. Or the dogs. Always seemed like a lousy reward for doing all that hard work.

By the way, Allan, I remembered. That second horse's name was Mancha all right. I remembered last night that Mancha means "Spot."

Two horses on a 10,000 mile ride, one called Spot and one called Cat. The guy must have had a sense of humor. You know what was bad on the part of that ride through as section of the Andes? Vampire bats attacked the horses at night. They would fly in at night, land on a horse, cut it with teeth that are so sharp they "weren't felt," and lap up the blood. He had a hard time figuring out what to do about it. Disgusting things. They have them in Australia too. Of course, name anything you want no part of and they've got it in Australia. I wonder how many people know that?


John Lemon 3 years, 11 months ago

Readers: I am pleased that we went beyond the discussion of novels being the truth or not. It seems to me that a written "novel" by definition is not purported to be "true". Things that are "true" can be the basis of the fictionalized (all or part) novel. In the cases of Grey and L'Amour the reader understands that. I have read several accounts of the Pleasant Valley War, including the latest, and each were represented as based on testimonials, documents, etc.. Each history was just a bit different from the others but each added to the overall narrative. The last sentence is a plug for good research.


ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 11 months ago

Tom, I've never been to Australia, though I've been heading that way for years. BTW, I think that was the theme of a 70's movie with James Garner as the main character. "Basically, I'm on my way to Australia". He never made it, and neither have I. (:-))

Did the fellow include a map of his travels? Wouldn't it be great to follow it on Google Earth? I wonder if he just rode across the border into the U.S.? Probably. (:-))

Also, last I heard, there were still bandits in the remote areas of Mexico. That was before the latest civil war that is going on there. It had to be a concern for him then, and now it would be insane to try.

I've been interested in the Pleasant Valley War, myself, but don't know much about it, other than the standard stories that are on the internet. I'll get some reading done on it.

Take care, all


Pat Randall 3 years, 11 months ago

First part of the research is get some good maps. An old one and a highway map.

Newscasters should do the same thing. Yesterday they showed pictures of Tonto Basin and the flood, reporting the Verde River washed a vehicle down the river near the Punkin Center Store. Well guess what. It is Tonto Creek which starts up near Kohls ranch. The Verde river is over in the Cottonwood, Camp Verde part of the state. The river just north of Payson is the EAST VERDE.


ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 11 months ago

Yeah, it's probably hard to write a good article without going to the scene. Had they gone to the scene, they should have seen the signs saying Tonto Creek.

BTW, Tom, I was re-reading Conagher by L'Amour last night and what did I see, but mention of the hurricane deck in it. (:-)) First page of the 3rd Chapter.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

"...what did I see, but mention of the hurricane deck in it."

Sounds like a good phrase never dies. I've wondered if it began with Siringo, but don't have a single reference for ir.

Conagher was a good book. Good movie too, something we can thank Ted Turner for.

Pat, never ask TV people to do research. It's against the rules. :-)

Allan, I didn't remember Tschiffely having included a map of his travels, but I could see the trail in the back of my mind, so I figured he must have. Just for laughs I looked it up, and sure as heck he included a couple of maps. Here's a link to a good site;


When you get there and see the colorfull 1952 edition, that's the one I read. An English paperback I picked up in a stationery store in Karachi, not a likely place to find a good book.

As to Australia, ever seen "Quigley Down Under?" Comes close to being my favorite movie. What I like is no hype and tripe. Something people don't know about that movie is that no animals were harmed in its making. Looks like it at times, but even the horses that went off cliffs were mechanical. And I once heard that the dingos (wild dogs) that were killed in that cave scene were "actors."

John, fiction is its own truth, isn't it?

What could be more true than the 16 lines of Richard Cory, a poem I first read when I was a sophomore in high school?

Richard Cory

Whenever Richard Cory went down town, We people on the pavement looked at him: He was a gentleman from sole to crown, Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed, And he was always human when he talked; But still he fluttered pulses when he said, "Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich – yes, richer than a king – And admirably schooled in every grace: In fine, we thought that he was everything To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light, And went without the meat, and cursed the bread; And Richard Cory, one calm summer night, Went home and put a bullet through his head.

Edwin Arlington Robinson, 1897

Truth is where you find it.


Pat Randall 3 years, 11 months ago

Allan, Somone from the TV station was there as they were showing pictures of the creek and the vehicles.


ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 11 months ago

Thanks Pat. Guess that proves you can lead a horse to water but can't make it drink. (:-))

Thanks, Tom. I'll check that out. Yeah, Quigley was quite a movie. The bad guy did a good job of being bad. (:-)) And, Selleck is good in anything. The Sharps was the thing that stirred my blood.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

Allan, don't ask me where you could read about it, but that Sharps was very special. It was a replica, made especially for the film. In fact, I don't remember where I read it, but there were actually four of them, and one was made with a special aluminum barrel so that it could be swung faster during a filmed fight.

Tom Selleck donated them to someplace or other. Hold on! I just remembered. He donated them to the NRA and they have them in some kind of special museum.

I thought that one thing that movie showed was the difference between what we are in this country, and what we would have become if we had stayed an English colony. Remember those mounted British troops? The sense of oppression? The separation between the people and their rulers? The Aussies never threw off British rule.

That bad guy played a similar part in another one of my favorite movies, Die Hard. I always loved that movie. It's another one where someone scratched through the veneer and let the truth show. One line I'll never forget is, "Oh, we're gonna have to get some more FBI guys." Another is when the "helpful" TV anchor dubs in the explanatory word "Sweden" when someone says "Helsinki" (the capital of Finland).

By the way, I notice something that I am going to take a moment out to explain. Quite a few times over the past few strings I've started to say that I don't remember something, and then I've remembered it.

What's happening is this. A long time ago I learned that if you read a lot and constantly add to your stored memories it creates an odd problem. The things you know are stored in a matrix--kind of like drawers in a file cabinet. They're organized quite well, but dumping a load of new info in screws up the whole storage system. The new stuff is not integrated for a long time; in the meantime it interferes with retrieving other stuff.

Since I constantly read I run into the problem all the time. It's as though you reach out for a memory and you're mind says, "Hold it will you! I'm trying to cram jam all this new garbage in somewhere. How'm I supposed to have time to look that up? A dual processor I ain't!"

You can do two things about it. One is to take Lecithin, which is a precursor for memory. It cuts the storage delay time. The other is to just wait a bit and let the memory bubble up. It'll get there. You just have to give it a second or two.

Trouble is, I write this stuff pretty fast, and so I get ahead of myself, having already said I don't remember when just a split second later I do remember.


ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 11 months ago

Yeah, I'd like to blame my memory on age, but I was this way at 10 years old. (:-)) With me, I can remember every detail except that one thing that ties it all together. For example when I was 10 my dad sent me to the house for a box of cigars. When I got there Mom tried to help me remember what it was. I finally said "It must be tractor fuel".

So, I lugged 5 gal. of fuel about 1/4th mile. He appreciated it, but said What "I really wanted"... and before he could finish, I remembered and said with him "cigars". So back I went. Same story. I brought a jug of ice water in a gallon jug wrapped in newspaper.

He then said "Come here". And, instead of a licking, he put the paper ring from the cigar stub on my finger, warned me not to lose it, and then said "When you forget, just look at your hand". When I got home, Mom was some concerned and asked if I remembered. I kind of fumbled around and then saw the ring on my finger and said "Cigars". I've never forgotten the kindness my dad showed when many would have whacked me up beside the head. Instead, he taught me a valuable lesson that I still have to employ.

I remembered a back NRA Magazine issue (I used to be a member, and will be again) that described that rifle in detail. If I remember right, it weighted in at 13.5 lbs. or so. Whew!


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago


I've read a little about the Sharps. Some books call it the Sharps Buffalo Rifle. First time I ran across it was in a Burt Lancaster movie, a good one but I'm hanged if I can remember the name. What I remember best is him up on a high slope being tracked by a bunch of men who are out to get him. Trouble is, they never get close enough to get in a shot because of his rifle. He'd fire that Sharps. Bang! Long pause. Someone down below drops.

I saw a carbine model in the St. Louis museum when I was taking a prisoner back to Wichita Falls from Wisconsin. Had an 8 hour layover. The prisoner had threatened to take me out and kill himself too, but when I dropped him off in a Chicago police station for an earlier layover, told the desk sergeant he was giving me a hard time, and asked if they could convince him to cool it, he came out acting like a pussycat. On his promise to be good I took him with me. I wasn't worried about him; I just didn't want to have to shoot him. They liked us to bring them back with no holes in them.

Saw civil war weapons at that museum, one of which was a Sharps carbine. Also saw a punt gun. Eleven feet long, mounted on a swivel on a rowboat, three or four inch muzzle, charged with a half pound of black powder and 100 lead balls, that thing was used to take out a cloud of ducks sitting on a lake.

The prisoner? He was a psycho case, but they didn't tell me that until I was on my way out of Air Police Hq. Desk man told me, "He...uh, he's tried committing suicide a half dozen times. You might want to watch him."

Great! We had a three day trip from there to Texas, with two long layovers.

First night, supper. Dummy says to me, "Doesn't matter that there are two of you. I'm going to get both of you."

As a result, he ate with his hands while the two-striper kid and I ate steaks. On him! He had to pay for it all out of his pay.

Then I had to handcuff the %$#@! dummy to his bunk because he didn't have sense enough to sleep. (That's not SOP. If there's a wreck and you can't get him out you're in trouble.)

Anyway I talked to that Chicago desk sergeant and the kid straightened out. Know why? They stripped him and put him in a cell five stories below the street. It was cold, damp, and overrun with roaches. The kid told me, "Hey sarge. I had to jump around for eight hours. Those damned things were trying to eat me. Don't leave me in another place like that."

"I don't know. We have three more layovers."

"Listen, sarge. You don't drop me off in any more places like that and you won't hear a peep out of me."

So I took him with me in St Louis where we got to see Lindbergh's plane. The kid was an angel. The three of us were like old buddies.

What he didn't know was that there were no "three layovers," just two. He looked a little disappointed when we go off in Wichita Falls. But what the hey! It was for his own good. Don't know what ever happened to him.


ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 11 months ago

The movie was Valdez is Coming, and that kid didn't sound crazy at all. Maybe it was his way of getting attention.

The Sharps started out as a cap and ball design in the late 1840's. Sharps were always renowned as highly accurate rifles. In the Civil war they developed what I thought was the most interesting version, and it was highly acclaimed by those who used them. It was called the Berdan Sharps Rifle, and was used by Colonel Berdan's renowned Civil War Sharpshooters. The gun used a paper cartridge loaded into the breach. The back of the paper cartridge was cut by a knife blade, which was part of the loading assembly. It exposed the power to the flame from the primer.

But the amazing thing was the mechanism to automatically apply the primer to the nipple. (The nipple was a tube that protruded from the firing chamber. When the primer was applied to the nipple, the hammer--activated by the trigger--fell to explode the primer, the flame of which traveled through the nipple to the firing chamber, thereby set the powder-charge off, expelling the bullet from the gun.) A clip of primers was loaded into the stock of the gun, and when the hammer was released, an arm 'flipped' the primer through the air, at precisely the right fraction of a second so that the primer was exactly in place when the hammer crushed the primer against the nipple, firing the gun.

This amazing device was so dependable that the gun's carbine version was the favorite cavalry rifle, used by both sides, since it highly simplified reloading the single shot carbine from horseback.

The Sharps was the most successful of the rifles to be converted from cap and ball to centerfire cartridges. The later models fired bullets in the .40 to .50+ caliber range with huge power-charges behind to achieve accuracy at very long ranges.

One was used at the battle of Adobe Wells to kill an attacking Comanche at over 1200 yards. That long shot demoralized the Comanches who broke off the attack. The whites would have been overrun except for that shot.

I've read stories of the powerful rounds going completely through large buffalo bulls weighting over a ton, when shot at 500 yards or more.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

Wow! That sounds like a weapon!

That's right, by the way. It was "Valdez Is Coming." Good movie!

I remember the men swarming up the mountain to get Valdez. And one by one--poof!

The last guy was let off because he yelled that he was the one who had untied Valdez.

You know something, those two movies have the same thing in common: One man who knows what he's doing against a bunch who just think they do.

Another thing both those movies showed was the bang of the rifle, a long pause, and then...thud!

Odd, you know. The first time I ever fired a weapon it was like that. The weapon was a little eight-shooter 22 revolver. An older friend took me out in the woods and showed me how to shoot--sight picture, breath control, and trigger squeeze. He put a coke bottle about 50 feet away on a stump and then said, "Okay. That's all there is to know. Shoot."

I shot, and was amazed to see the bottle break. He went over, picked up the tiny little mouth of the bottle, set it on the stump, and said, "Now shoot that."

Bang! One dead coke bottle mouth.

Later, we were out in some fields. Far off in one of them was an old Model-T fender or something. He showed me about elevation. We fired at it. There would be a bang... pause... clang. I was about 14 and I thought that pause was really neat for some reason or other. Maybe because it was so real. A fact. Not hyped up as things so often are in movies.

Later than day we were back at the stump and I couldn't hit a barn...from the inside with the doors closed. He took the pistol, loaded it, handed it to, and told me to hit something or other.

Bang! Bang! Bang! Click.

At the "click" the gun jumped just as though it had gone off.

"What's with the click, jump?" he asked.

So I learned about developing a flinch. Long day. Lot of education.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

I never forgot that day. When I was a Drill Instructor teaching kids to shoot I always knew they could learn, and that it was easy and natural. All they had to do was learn the basics and they couldn't miss.

A lot of things happened on a lot of firing ranges over the years I was a training NCO. Only time I ever got teed off at anyone on the firing range, though, was when some loudmouth clown over in England kept running down the carbine. "Ah-h-h-h," he kept telling the other troops we were firing that day. "I'll give you ten rounds. You let me get a hundred yards out and there's no way you can hit me."

I walked over, took the carbine from him, took out the clip, emptied it, put one round in the chamber, and said, "I'll take you up on that. But one thing; I'll hold it in just one hand like this." I pointed it downrange and fired. It was an old fashioned British target range, the kind where they have dual targets balanced against one another that go up and down. Target went down, target came up. Flag waved and showed a bull.

Never seen a guy so scared as when I kept insisting that he get his butt out there among the targets. "C'mon, damnit! You made the offer. All I'm doing is taking you up on it." Kinda sorta shut his mouth.

That carbine was a nice weapon. Good for what it was intended to be. A weapon will do what it will do; nothing more, nothing less.

A weaon is a tool, an extension of a human hand, as natural as the wind and the sky. Some of the finest pieces of workmanship I've ever seen went into the making of weapons. Their history is the history of humankind. As we developed, they developed. They're a symbol of freedom, of the value of one man, of the conquest of nature--both our own nature and that of a harsh world. Without them we are less they we were meant to be.


ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 11 months ago

Drill instructor on the firing line, eh? Well, I'm embarrassed to relate my experiences on the firing line, but it’d be less than honest, seeing you were an instructor, to keep quiet about it.

In basic, we went to the firing line, and were issued AR 15’s (Semi-automatic Stoners.) We placed handkerchiefs under our ball caps to cover our neck like foreign legion troops in the movies. That was to keep the hot brass from going down our necks. (But, I’m talking to the choir, right?)

The fellow to my left was shooting the target of the man on my right. His hot brass was hitting me on the nose or cheek, instead of going over my barrel as they should. I scooted back a few inches to avoid the hot brass. Suddenly, my head was slammed forward, and I came to my feet with a bloody nose. Just before I got up, I heard “Never move back from the firing line”, in an instructor’s best commanding voice.

Now, I was a green skinny hick from the mountains in Northern Alabama, and the next thing I remember, I had my rifle barrel under the NCO’s chin, and had him on his tiptoes. Fighting was not a new thing to me, and my instincts just kicked in and nearly got me killed right there.

“Drop the weapon, Airman!” came from several voices over and over, some in stern command, some almost pleading. Well, about then I got really scared because I saw one NCO take an AR 15 from an Airman and start stalking me, trying to get a shot without hitting someone else. But, I was in it, and figured if I caved, they’d beat the crap out of me. So, I pivoted with the stalking NCO, keeping the hostage between me and several bullets.

There must have been twenty NCO’s crowded around, and I heard an officer making his way through. He was a captain, not much older than me. “Drop the gun Airman”, he commanded. He caught sight of the stalking NCO, and ordered him to back off. And, I told him, I’ll put the gun down when someone tells me I won’t get hit again. By that time, my blouse was saturated from my bloody nose and shredded lips. And, I was just mad enough to not be real smart. (As you‘ve guessed by now.)

The officer looked me right in the eye and said “I promise you won’t be hit again”. Still being stupid, I asked “Your word as an officer?” But, he indicated his word as an officer was at stake, so I handed him the gun. Instantly, I was grabbed by at least 15 of those 20 NCO’s, but he made them turn my loose, and had me sit on a bench behind the firing line. He sat there with me, as the firing line got organized and started the training, again.

Surprisingly, there was no arrest and after everyone was through, I asked the officer if I could fire my rounds. He looked surprised but said yes, saying he thought I was shaking too bad to hit anything.. Several NCO’s objected , but I did fire my rounds and did get a medal for my hits. I can’t remember if it was expert or sharpshooter. I was that shook up, but the shaking quit when I took aim.


ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 11 months ago

My other experience on the firing line (That sticks out) wasn’t nearly as foolish or stupid. In fact it was entertaining.

I was stationed at Ellsworth AFB, in South Dakota and had to re-qualify. They issued heavily used M2 carbines. They were pretty beat up, but looked like they could do the job. So, this friend of mine and I, along with several others started the process. After about 10 rounds, my front sight made a metallic ringing sound, barely audible with the firing. I tried to line it up on the target and it was gone.

Well, almost. It was loose on the barrel and had slipped 180 degrees hanging below my barrel. I think it was silver soldered onto the barrel and the solder came loose. So, I reached forward, set it up on top, and fired. Good shot. But, the sight went under the barrel again.

My friend was laughing his head off, while the one instructor was helping someone else. Thinking I needed help, he started shooting at my target, to be sure I passed. We were only shooting 100 rounds, and he said he’d already made a passing grade, so he helped me. Now, that’s a friend.

Funny though, I wound up with 112 rounds in my targets, while he had about 85. So, between us, there were only 2 or 3 rounds missed.

I never went to the firing line, in the military or civilian, without remembering that dumb stunt I had pulled in basic related above. God sure watches over fools.


don evans 3 years, 11 months ago

Rifle info: The rifle used in the movie QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER is a custom Hartford-style rifle made by Shiloh Rifle Manufacturing in Big Timber, MT. Actually, there were three identical-looking rifles used in making the movie. One was the stunt or prop gun, one was for close-ups and the other was a reserve. I believe Tom Selleck has one in his collection, one went back to Shiloh and is on display there, and the stunt or prop gun is in the studio armory. All were chambered for the .45-2 7/8" S.S.(Sharps' Straight) or what today we call the .45-110-550 Sharps'. All of them had that awful military-type buttstock of the Hartford-style guns instead of the shotgun buttstock of the Bridgeport-style guns and would be truly a pain to fire more than a couple of times with full-power, blackpowder loads.

The original Sharps' factory made very few, if any, Caliber .45 guns at the Hartford facility and most, if not all of those would have been .45-2 1/10" S.S.(.45-70). Hartford guns are normally found in Calibers .40 Bottlenecked, .44 Bottlenecked or .50 S.S. The longer Caliber .45 cartridges(2 4/10", 2 6/10" and 2 7/8") were not chambered until after the move to the Bridgeport facility, and most of them would have been Creedmoor-type target rifles at not more than 10# weight, single triggers of not less than 3# pull, round barrels and shotgun-style buttstocks. The Quigley-style rifles are Hartford-type guns chambered for the later Bridgeport-type cartridges. Therefore, to have gotten a gun built like the Quigley guns by the original Sharps' factory of the 19th Century would have required a very expensive special order request!


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

Thanks, Don. Not only is that a lot of information; it's more than I can integrate into my small knowledge of guns of the day. I'll say this, though; I always missed the look of the long barrels that went away after the black powder days. Those long barrels had a certain look.

Allan, those "drill instructors" broke just about every rule in the book. So did that officer. They should never have left their own men, nor should any of them have pointed a weapon at you. In my day there would have been a court martial, all right, but you'd have been a witness.

"Control." That's what anyone who has ever worked a firing line will tell you. "Control is what you're there for. Control the situation."

The minute those clowns walked away from their troops they opened the situation for a tragedy. What do men do when they hear a loud confrontation? They turn toward it. How many of those men lying there in the prone position lost track of what they had been told and turned--rifle and all--toward the sound of what was going on? Those weapons were loaded? Those kids were green. What was the chance that one of them would pull a trigger?

What they should have done was to stay where they belonged, telling their men, "Keep your eyes and your focus downrange. Pay attention to that weapon in your hands. Focus on what you are here to do. Keep firing until the range master says cease fire."

What you saw was an perfect example of what happened to Air Force basic training after it was turned over from professional Drill Instructors to amateur NCOs whose only qualification for the job was that they were too old, too tired, too worn out, and not good for much anymore. I'm sorry, that may be a harsh judgment, but its the one that was held by every DI I knew at the time of the transition that occurred in 1956/57/58.

Prior to 1957, Drill Instructor was an AFSC, just like any other AFSC. You were selected because you were calm in an emergency and because you knew what "military" meant. You went to a tech school just like anyone else, after which you went through a long time in the field as a trainee before you ever had a flight of airmen of your own. You weren't just some clown who was getting close to retirement and decided to volunteer to "teach them damn troops what they need to know."

The Air Force had three basic training bases: McChord, Sampson, and Lackland. Basic was the standard 11 weeks, and the focus was on transitioning from civilian to military life. DI's were not just anyone. They were all young, healthy, highly motivated, carefully selected, and utterly dedicated to the service. I would say they averaged about 25 years old, the reason being that they had to be able to outrun, outwork, out-shoot, and out-think the troops, and after four or five years of basic they either were NCOs--and so off the drill field--or burned out.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

They were not there to brainwash kids, to yell at them with foghorn voices, to show how great they were and how useless the troops were, to intimidate them, or to teach them how to get around the rules in the "real Air Force." They were there to absorb a single concept into their psyches--"the mission comes first." That was all they had to teach the kids; that, a few military customs and courtesies, some first aid, how to shoot, how to take orders, and how to stay alive and healthy in the field if it ever came to that. The main thing they taught with was their own bodies. They were there as examples ow what the men should become.

Training for a DI was GIS, General Instructor School. The course was 8 weeks long, and out of each class of less than 15 men only about 7 or 8 made it, even though they had been very carefully preselected. After that came as much as a full year of on-the-job training. One or two men from each class were weeded out there too.

Air Force basic was shaped after Army Basic, and the "cadre" system was used, a system developed during WWII where the most qualified men were kept back and were used to train other men. But just as Vietnam was developing out in the far east a new group of Air Force generals, ones who had not fought their way through WWII, began to gain control. Their idea was that the Air Force was not the Army, and so everything about the Air Force should be different. In a sense that was true, but they overlooked the fundamental fact that "military" is a mindset, not a color of uniform.

In the name of "efficiency" they gutted basic training, cutting it into two portions, a short session where the troops learned how to wipe their backsides, done only at Lackland, traditionally the worst of the three basic bases, and a Phase II given along with tech school.

Didn't work. Mainly because some bean counter somewhere thought it would be wise to take worn out technicians who were on their way back to civilian life and turn them into something they were not. What does a man learn about "military" turning a wrench for 20 years? Not much. That's why the ChiComs ran right over us in Korea if they reached one of our bases.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

I was there when the transition took place. We began getting in worn out old men, jokers who thought having a troop sew up his pockets because he stuck his hands in them was "military training." They were old, fat, lazy and brainless.

The DI who jammed your face in the dirt broke THE unbreakable rule of the Drill Instructor. It's very simple. "Your hands never touch a trainee. If you can't teach without pushing and shoving, go train mules." The DI who did what he did was there, among other things, to observe where that hot brass was going. What he should have done was seen where the man was shooting and correct it. If you were still within the firing zone he should have just let you alone. That sort of thing happens all the time, and if the day is early, as it often is on the range, you can actually see the rounds as they cut the air to the target, especially if it's a damp day or if the sun if still low on the horizon. So it's eays to spot someone who's shooting the wrong target.

Over in Japan I had one poor kid who was blind in his right eye and was trying to fire right handed with his left eye, causing his rounds to escape the firing pit and come down on the flightline. Took about a minute to find him, find out what was wrong, and correct it. The big choice was whether or not to turn him eye for the eye. I'll let you guess what I did.

I was lucky. I was able to leave the program before it got too bad. And you know the funny part about it? I had been moved to Sheppard AFB in Texas as part of Phase II Basic, and all of my trainees either went through the Air Passenger and Operations school or the Air Freight school. When I was leaving basic I was given the chance to choose any school on the base. I took Passenger and Operations because it was short and all i wanted was to get away from that mess.

The funny part? In my first new outfit at McGuire AFB I found out that I had personally put 28 of the men through basic; at Tachi two years later it was 32. It was like homecoming week.

I can't speak for what the Air Force is like now. Too many years have passed. But during those years of transition I watched morale take a nosedive. By the time I retired in 1973 it was lower than whale manure.


ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 11 months ago

That explains a lot. And, yes, I know the officer broke a lot of rules. The NCO's were reminding him, as he led me to that bench. But, thank goodness for him.

BTW, the damage to my face came from the handle/sight mount of that AR 15. I never knew if he kicked the back of my head or slapped it, but it sure was a surprise when that handle hit my face.

Funny thing, not one person from my flight said a word to me about it, and several saw it. My TI, didn't either, although that might explain a sudden turn in his attitude towards me.

He appointed me over the queer barracks one night. (That was a wild time.) And, he assigned me to odd jobs at the Admin buildings, like cutting grass and cutting hedges. Oh, and I spent a lot of time on the obstacle course doing maintenance there, too. So much so that I got a blistered back and an Article 15 for "Damaging Air Force Property". (My back.)

We later got a 24 hour pass right at the end of the 6 week training period. (That ran from late August '66 to early October '66) Since I was at Lackland and always wanted to see the Alamo, off I went, but got off the bus too far away from the Alamo, so had to hike it. I'd just got a view of it about 4 blocks away, when I heard my name. Now, in the hustle bustle of downtown San Antonio that was a trick, for one of our flight members was waving at me from across the street.

When I got over to him, he told me that after I left, the TI had changed the duty roster, and I was due for guard duty at 3:00 PM. My watch then said about 2:15. So, I hustled back to the Air Force bus drop, and just caught one leaving. I was back on base by 2:50, but was dropped by the bus over a mile from my barracks. I only had a vague idea of where it was from the drop, but I double-timed it back and got there at 2:55 PM. The guard was wringing his hands saying "The sarge was here, and *&%+#? that you weren't here, and he's gone to get the C.O." Hurry and change.

So, I shucked the sweaty blues and was calling the barracks to attention for the C.O. and the sarge at 3:05 PM. The C.O. checked my name tag, looked around the barracks and told the sarge everything was in order, and they left. The sarge gave me a look that could have killed, and I stayed out of his way for the rest of the week, when we got our orders.

I have always puzzled over that until thinking back on that firing line incident. He wasn't in the circle around me then, nor was any of our airmen. But, that might have triggered his hatred for me, if the fellow involved was his chum.

It was another 15 years before I finally got to the Alamo. It was worth the wait.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

"And, yes, I know the officer broke a lot of rules."

The only rule that officer broke was not turning in the fools who caused the trouble. You were blameless. You did nothing wrong. Moving a few inches here and there to get hot brass off your body is natural and expected. What you ran across was just what we feared would happen when the basic training program was gutted; the high standards we held went right down the drain. I understand, though, that the program eventually became a good one again, and I'm glad of that.

Your treatmen was contrary to regulations. The NCO's knew that they could not turn you in for what happened because the result would not have been happy for them, so they did their best to harrass you into making a mistake. Obviously someone must have lied in the deposition that led to your Article 15 or you would not have been charged, and I can't help feeling that the officer who saw you also had been improperly influenced.

That 24 hour pass overrode the duty roster, but your "TI" must have figured, as some of them did, that you wouldn't know any better, and he could "get" you. Too bad you never met him again--at a time when the playing field was leveled.

I was known as one hard ass when I was a DI, but not with the men--with anyone who tried to screw with them. We weren't there to pick on cripples; we were there to turn civilians into soldiers. Some of them didn't make it. So be it. Some people just do not have the ability to put aside thoughts of themselves and focus on the mission.

One time I took a flight through the Green Giant, a building at Sampson where a rainbow flight went in one end in civvies and came out the other end having been run through a medical, given their shots, and issued clothing. We always had a showdown inspection right there and then on the lawn to make sure everyone had all his uniforms before we left the area. I did that. I went through the whole list verbally and had each man check his issue.

Back in the barracks I showed them how to distribute their stuff between their foot lockers and their hanging spaces. Then I did an actually physical count of their issue, one by one. Six of them men were short of things for which they had signed. I called them every kind of dummy in the book, but marched them back to clothing issue to get it straightened out.

To my amazement, some three striper (I had one stripe; remember DI was a career field; not a pre-retirement rest camp for NCO's) tried to just chase me off. I told him I had seen with my own two eyes what my men were issued, it was wrong, and we were going to straighten it out. Then came some staff sergeant who was dumb enough to try to order me to leave.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

Then came a big old master sergeant who did the same. I guess they thought that rank made a difference when someone was right and someone was wrong, which only show showed little they knew anout the military. What defines right and wrong is what it says in black and white in the manuals, along with the oath of duty.

Finally, with my six men listening, I said, "Sarge, are you saying you refuse to do anything for these men?"

"Damn right I do, and get your ass out of here!"

I designated one of the men to march the others back to the barracks, went straight to OSI headquarters, and signed a formal accusation. Things were quite for about two weeks. Then I got called to the Base Commander's office. He shook my hand, promoted me on the spot, told me that there would soon be a court martial, told me the men would receive their issue, and that I was to say nothing under further orders.

The supply people were stealing equipment, selling it out the back door, and making up the cash dfiscrepancy by cheating troops out of their uniforms. My guess is that the things my men were shorted on came to--say--$400, but with 18,000 men a year going through the place that adds up.

Yes, they went to Leavenworth.

I coulld tell you other times I clashed with "authority, " but I won't bore you. My attitude was simple: Right is right. It happened to match the attitude of the Air Force, so although my career was a little rocky at times, and it took me seven years to pin on a fourth stripe, I was satisfied with what I was doing.

You may have guessed by now, considering the fact that I had just one lonely stripe, that that was my very first flight. That fight wasn't the only one I took on for the men. It's just my nature to refuse to back down when I know I am right, and what I am doing is for the good of the service. When those troops graduated every last man signed a roster, and my basic trainee Flight Chief, a black kid from Chicago, wrote some things on it for me. I still have it.


ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 11 months ago

I laughed to read "the green giant". We called the one at Lackland the "Green Monster". (Same one?)

We were at the tail end of about 1,000 or more recruits that went through that day. (Might have been 5 times that many.) When we stepped out on the loading dock, the last bus was making the corner. We stood there like idiots (3 of us) and wondered if another bus was coming. I stepped back inside and caught the last NCO as he was locking up.

I told him the buses were gone. He looked, and confirmed no others were coming by. He said he didn't want us walking, and said someone would pick us up in a few minutes, after a phone call he got in his car and left. That was about 5:10 pm or so.

At about 6 pm, an ambulance came sliding to a halt. The driver driver yelled over the top of the ambulance for us to get in the back two doors. When we were in, I saw an airman in the front in a straight jacket. He was drooling and making baby sounds. He was gone, mentally.

We got to the emergency entrance to the hospital and were told to sit in some chairs until he could take us to our squadron. That was about 6:10 or so. A little after 7:00 I stopped a doctor and asked where our driver went, explaining the situation. His eyes got round and after telling us to stay put, he quickly disappeared. About 5 minutes later the driver came running around the corner with a cup in his hand, apologizing and saying he would get us to our squadron right away.

When we pulled up, Sgt. Sebrina, a short cocky fellow, with small waist and thick chest was patting his foot, furiously chewing his gum and looking at us from under the perfectly set service cap. (Two fingers off the nose.) His 1505's were perfectly fitted and starched.

He proceeded to ask us if we enjoyed our little ride and would we like to join the rest of the airmen? When we answered yes, he proceeded to make it known to us that we had made a 4 year mistake. He fit the stereotypical layman's view of what a DI would be.

So, our intro to Sebrina was nothing to endure us to him, and it went downhill from there.

One other interesting thing about Sebrina. He called me in, about the 2nd week and asked if he could borrow my civilian shirt. He promised he'd return it in good shape, and I said OK. Until then, he was just a hard-&%)#, and I figured he was having problems at home, or something. I saw him the next morning, he was bunged up pretty bad, and so was my shirt. I asked him later about it, and got sent to cut grass for the effort. So, I kept mum about the shirt.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

"...and asked if he could borrow my civilian shirt."

Court martial offense. Regulation: "Nothing of value shall pass between permanent party and trainee." The reason is obvious.

Would never have happened in my day, although there were two clowns we had to get rid of, but not for that kind of offense.

I get all shook up when I hear things like that. DI's were straight arrows.

"When we answered yes, he proceeded to make it known to us that we had made a 4 year mistake."

You had--enlisting in a service that had turned the wrong corner. Talk to someone who was in the Army or Marines and they'll talk about the differences. The main thing about the Air Force I knew at first was that we were still wearing WWII Army uniforms and thinking in terms of defending the greatest nation on the planet, not trying to pump ourselves up at the expense of trainees.

I began to feel alienated about the time in 1958 that we held a Drill Comp at Tachikawa Air Base and the winning team was dressed in blues with polished silver brass, unauthorized headgear, unauthorized blue jackets, and sets of sleigh bells entwined in the laces of their boots. Can you imagine? Chink! Chink! Chink! Four other teams dropped out at the sight of them--including mine. My men said they would not seen on the drill pad with a bunch of clowns who were out of uniform. Fortunately, enough WWII and Korean spirit remained during my years to outweigh the hype and tripe, but it was a close thing. Lolly and I had talked it over and decided to quit in 1963, but our youngest was born with spinal meningitis, the Air Force spent $35,000 on the best care you can imagine, and out of gratitude I stayed in until I retired--but not for one minute more. I was offered a commission in the Army in 1955 when I was reenlisting; I should have taken it. I would have fitted in there, or better still in the Marines. All they asked of you was the best you could be.


ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 11 months ago

Man, if it had been like that, I'd have stayed in. It was the greatest job I've ever had, working on skyrockets. (Minuteman I ICBM's) I'd asked to be made a gunsmith, so the fellow told me to put down a request as a weapons specialist. I got what I asked for, too. (:-)) The range on the weapon was a bit extreme though. (5,500 miles)

Tech school at Chanute, Illinois made basic seem like a Sunday cake bake. Suffice to say I spent 48 weeks there. Half way through, we had a congressional inspection of the base, while I was home on leave. A fellow I knew in the penny-packer squadron turned out to be a congressman's son. He committed suicide and the congressmen landed on the base without anyone knowing. They replaced every officer over second lieutenant or fired them.

No more goose-stepping , no open ranks inspections at 4 AM. No 'ropes' who believed themselves god when they were only punks that licked the TI's boots. No more cleaning the latrines with toothbrushes, spit-shining the barracks floors or white-collar inspections throughout the night. (They'd awake us from a dead sleep and give us 15 minutes to be at attention by our bunks. If a quarter didn't bounce from the blanket, the entire two-man bunk was shoved over in the floor, ruining the hard earned shine of the floor and they would return in 15 minutes. That went on until either you did it right, or we had to muster for open ranks inspections at 4 AM.) No more men going to the BX to drink the 3.2 beer until they were senseless. And, no more stiff-legging it down the stairs to keep from breaking the starched creases in our fatigues.

After that, life was decent, until my Chief Master Sergeant asked me to join him at the NCO club for a drink. I'd been warned he was going to ask me that. I was told he was planning to make a flunky out of me. A stool pigeon who would rat on the other men. So, I declined as best I could.

After that, I was put on permanent react. We did lots of 20 hr. stints, get 8 hours sleep and do it again. I loved every bit of it, because it was rough and demanding but I'd been through hell, so that was a breeze. It also kept me away from the shop, so I seldom saw anyone over a tech sergeant, except at the LCF's where the strike teams were stationed. I loved South Dakota, and the blizzards, the pretty girls and driving those big tandem axled trucks.

One of the silos I worked on (A lot) is now a national monument. And, they have an LCF as well, as part of the National Park System. Take a look at it, at http://www.nps.gov/mimi/index.htm

I spent three years doing that, and ended my tour as a Buck Sergeant and Team Chief for an Electro-Mechanical Team. What a wild ride!

I wonder what it would have been like to have been in the AF you described. Just rolling 'round heaven, all day. (:-))


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago


The men that you learned to hate came out of the woodwork when the chance of having your head blown off trying to defend your country went away. Basically, they were the same kind of cowards who bully kids in school. They had all the power, they stuck together, and they had no idea what "honor, duty, country" meant.

Those of us who came from the "brown shoe" days followed a generation of Americans who knew what it was all about. You couldn't help learning from them. Most of them were long since gone by the time I retired, but those of us who followed in their footsteps knew that we were part of something far more important than ourselves. We were proud to don a uniform that had earned respect and admiration of a nation through the blood that had soaked its threads. I was so proud to put on the uniform my two older brothers had worn, and to follow in the family tradition, there was no way I could have expressed the way I felt. (My oldest brother, Bill, stayed in all the way from 1941 to 1965.) And the men I served with during Korea (but not in Korea; we never made it there) felt the same way.

It was when the Air Force turned that "pull them in with higher pay" corner back in the days of the Vietnam Era that things went wrong. Before that, we were volunteers, and pay was no part of why were were there. As a two-striper I made just 50 bucks a month. There was no pressure on me, or any of the other guys in my original Air National Guard outfit, to enlist in 1950. We just did. We fully expected to be sent to Korea, and we fully expected that some of us would not come back. You should have seen the looks of amazement on our faces when we got outside New York harbor on the troop ship and we were told that we were headed for Iceland. We were all saying, "Iceland? What the hell are we going to do in Iceland?"

(Answer: Built part of the DEW Line to detect Russian missiles.)

I'll tell you what says a lot about the Air Force of those days. It never failed that we'd go downtown somewhere, run across some Army or Marine guys, and they'd start ribbing us about being "airdales." But it also never failed that we all ended up sitting in the same bar drinking and laughing together. Those of us in Air Force blue knew exactly what we were--support people. And we knew the difference. Yes, we were military, but no one was likely to hand us a rifle and tell us to go charge a bunker. My first outfit was an aircraft control and warning squadron that was set up for close air support, but our mission changed in Iceland. Someday, though, I'll have to tell you about the day WWIII started while we were there. It was quite an event.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

The sense of honor and duty seemed to fade away as Vietnam went on. I passed through there on my way to Pakistan in 1959, and met an Army captain who told me of the massacre of 11 men in the mess hall one night. He'd been in it, and was going back after being in the hospital in the states (head wound). It was the first I knew of what was going on. After that we seemed to be attracting the wrong kind of people. They weren't in uniform to fight a war; they were in it to avoid fighting one. All they talked about was "pro-pay."

Too bad. I'm sure it's different now. Has to be.

I've seen pictures of what some of those silos look like today. People are buying them to live in. Would make an interesting homestead, wouldn't it? I traveled TDY to teach at some place in Kansas (don't remember the name anymore) back in 1967. What a complex they had! What I was doing was teaching people how to teach what they knew to younger men. It was a nice job. As a master sergeant, I managed to stay out of the inevitable office job by doing that, and I felt that I was doing something worthwhile. The most valuable thing a technician has is his experience, but as he gets promoted and stuck in an office somewhere it's wasted unless he passes it on. You'd be surprised how knowing some little things about teaching helped technicians teach the kids how to do turn a wrench. By doing that I stayed out of an office all the way until I retired, and I got to travel all over the U.S. and Europe. My last hitch, stationed in England, I traveled to Germany, Italy, France and all over the UK.

I never liked being indoors, at least not in some office. That's why I loved being a DI. A classroom wasn't too bad, and a lot of my Air Force teaching was done right on the flightline. In civilian life I taught in a chemistry lab and then in a computer lab. Not bookish, you know? I was allowed to develop an all-lab chemistry course in Texas. People said it couldn't be done, but my kids scored right up there with the other chemistry kids--and they loved the course.


ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 11 months ago

Oh, I don't really hate them, Tom. Matter of fact, like the idiot in charge of Easy Company in the Band of Brothers (Captain Herbert Sobel, who through his ineptitude, created a bunch of tough nuts), they made me tougher than a boot laying in the desert for 20 years, and just about as worthless. (:-)) But, I'd love to run into one or two of them, and express my thanks in the unique way I have, sometimes. (:-))

I've thought of them over the years, at least a few of them, and I realize that they are just humans who through their own fears, try to hide their weaknesses by brutalizing others.

I may have mentioned plowing with mules as a kid. Working with those dumb animals taught me a whole lot about getting along with people, and it taught me to overlook faults; for if ever a creature had faults, it was a mule. But, I had to get those mules to do my bidding. And, in so doing, I realized that some were smarter than some people I’ve met. So, I learned to deal with them in spite of their faults.

It is much the same with people, even those boot licking 'ropes' I mentioned. As tough as it was for me to deal with the unnecessary burdens they laid down, it was confusing for them to walk up on me shining chrome in the latrines singing and whistling. (:-)) I overheard a yellow rope expressing concern that they’d pushed me too far. The red rope indicated that maybe they should let up on me, and put me on a crew buffing the floors.

Little did they know, or I, that the most burdensome thing to happen to me there, happened buffing floors. A team mate let out a little cry that I heard over the buffer, and started swigging ammonia, used to strip the floors. I ran and kicked the bottle from his hands but he was already passing out when I got there. Someone else had caught him and kept him from busting his head on the floor. The ambulance was there in minutes. They came and got his trunk the next day. We took turns going to the hospital to find out about him, but mum was the word. No one had heard of it.

Laughing at problems was my way of dealing with it, instead of getting drunk on 3.2 beer, or making out with every girl I could find, leaving busted hearts in the mud, like some of them did. Since then, at any serious problem, I astonish those around me, for it doesn’t ruffle me. Rather, I smile and tell them we can handle it, though it looks somewhat grim. That is a result of basic and tech school pressure, and the confidence I gained there. I’ve seen what real pressure is, and what real grit is and where it comes from. I crack some joke and their panic seems to leave them, for they know me well enough to see that it can be handled.


ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 11 months ago

Some of the 19 year veterans would say "Man you should have known the men who started this Air Force". I had an inkling, but only so.

As for pay? I sent half of my $83 a month home, to help them pay bills, I ate a lot of chow hall grub. (:-))

I had a friend who enlisted in '78 and I did my best to talk him out of it, but he wouldn't listen. Good thing. It had all changed. They treated him with respect, and gave him a decent place for him and his wife to live. I visited him at Nellis, and he got my daughter and me into the Thunderbirds hanger, where their crew chief let her sit in one of the F-16 cockpits. This friend was stationed at Nellis and worked at Area 51. The flights up scared him stiff. They flew under radar in commercial jets, skimming through canyons with hills on both sides of them. They did that through fog and clouds too. No wonder he was scared.

I'd not want to live in a silo, but it would be interesting. It's cool in the summer and warm in the winter, too. My friend that shot the target for me, mentioned above, worked in an Atlas silo in Kansas in the early to mid 60's. I met him in South Dakota, in '67. In between, he spent time at Vandenburg scrubbing silos after they fired test launches, and rewiring them, as needed.

I know what you mean about being stuck in an office. I've spent many years in cubbyholes. But, in missiles, I spent mighty little time in the office. We were required to put in office time on days we didn't dispatch, which were few. Those few days I spent hiking in the Black Hills. Guess I was AWOL, but even at that, I averaged over 80 hours a week in a hole or on the way to or from one. So, they never mentioned it to me, since I was on constant react.

My immediate supervisor was a great fellow who was from South Dakota. He was a tech and worked for our department head who was a chief. I called the tech "Boss", even though he kept telling me to call him sergeant. "Sure, boss. Right away." Anything he wanted me to do, I did with zeal, even washing trucks when I got caught near the office. (:-))

I had a job with Boeing set up when I got out in August of '70. I was to work for them, doing a force modification, to change out the Minuteman I's for Minuteman II's. About 2 months prior to my discharge, Nixon decided he'd cut gov't spending. 'Freeze' was the turn bantered around. Well, Seattle went into a nose dive, because Boeing laid over over 50,000 employees in one month, and another 50,000 or so about the time I got out.

The job would have been seasonal, but in the 6 months I could have earned a year’s pay. Needless to say some Phd got my job, and I went to school to learn a trade that would be among the last to be let go. So, I became a business major, & 20 yrs later went back and got my masters. I hold a second masters in karate.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago


I can see that you were living through all the things that I, and so many of my NCO friends, feared were going on. Out of the 15 of 21 men in the Field Training Detachment in England where I last served who were eligible for retirement, all 15 had decided to terminate their careers. That says a lot. As we each shipped back to the States it was for retirement, and yet most of my buddies told me they had originaly intended to stay in until they were forced out by age.

I had forgotten who it was that was running our country in those days. The mention of Nixon's name makes me shudder. LBJ was no better. The things that were going on in teh Air Force were a reflection of a government that had lost its direction. After I retired I never so much as read a newspaper for years on end. I went to school, got a good paying job, and focused on teaching hard core science. Ford was a buffoon. Carter was a fool, though a good hearted one. When Reagan took office it was as though the sun had come out after a long bad spell. And although a lot of people failed to see the real George Bush, it wasn't hard to see the honesty that drove him. It was about that time that I once again began feeling that there was hope for this land of ours.

"I had a friend who enlisted in '78 and I did my best to talk him out of it, but he wouldn't listen. Good thing. It had all changed. They treated him with respect, and gave him a decent place for him and his wife to live."

You can't imagine how much those words mean to me. I left the Air Force in 1973, hoping that the tiny turnaround I was seeing might mean something, but doubting it. Maybe the worm finally turned. I tell you the truth; I could not see how we could go on the way we were going, but all I had was hope. Looks like some of the hints I was seeing turned out to mean something. That's great!

As to military, there are some who just never get it--the MacArthur's of the world. Leading means exactly that--going first and never having to look over your shoulder to see if there's anyone following you.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

Want to red about some real military men? Read Hackworth's book. Read what Colin Powell has to say. Read Viscount Slim, the first man to ever whip the Japanese Army in the field. He wrote a book called Defeat Into Victory. Read John Masters, who we think of an author, but who fought in Burma as a major in the British Indian Army and wrote two books about it.

Read Churchill's early books. We see him as an old man inspiring a nation, but what we most of us don't know is that he was able to inspire his people because they had read the books he wrote back in the 1890's when he was a young man who fought in the last true cavalry charge ever, a man who took control when a train was blown off the tracks, rallied badly shaken troops, exposed him openly to cannon and machine gun fire, got that train and all the wounded back on the tracks and away--at the expense of his own freedom because he was captured because he refused to get on the train until all the men were safe.

No kidding. Read about Churchill in India and the Sudan. Read about him being the only man to ever escape from the Boer prison in Africa, making his way more than 250 miles through enemy territory to freedom. No wonder his people followed him. There are some who say he was the greatest man who ever lived. I don't know it that's true, but he belongs high on the list, and he sure as hell knew what the military was all about.

Or read what Norman Schwarzkopf was like. I'll never forget the moment when he charged into a mine field and threw himself atop one of his men in Vietnam to keep him from thrashing around and killing himself after he stepped on a mine. Later, one of his men told him, "We saw what you did for that brother." He hadn't even noticed the man was black. Would those men have followed him through the gates of hell? You tell me.

Anyway can whip people ahead of them; it takes a man to lead. Ask yourself this: If push had come to shove, that latrine you were scrubbing was in Vietnam, the VC showed up outside screaming and yelling, and you and some fatcat cockamamie chief each grabbed rifles and yelled "Come on!" which one do you think the men would have followed?

If you really want to know go read To Hell And Back.

Or just ask the guy who monitors this forum. He can tell you.


ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 11 months ago

Tom, as much as I lived through, I doubt I’ve lived through all you imagined. (:-)) And, yeah I did see a lot of good men cutting out after 18 or 19 years, saying they just couldn’t stay the full 20. To lose full retirement after 19 years of effort, was hard for even me to understand. But, they understood and stood on their principles.

Funny thing, a tech was assigned to convince the friend (Same one as mentioned above) and me that we should re-up. The bonus for me was about $6,000 and about $4,500 for him (Different ASFC’s, plus he had already put in 12 years.), which was a fortune to either one of us, at the time. This tech kept calling us in to chat about it, and we became close friends with him. The funny part was that we convinced him to get out! I liked the irony of that. His re-up time was a month before my friend's, and we both got to hooray with our new-found amigo. He got a job managing a Taco Bell, the first one in that end of South Dakota. He was tickled and so was his wife. He wouldn’t let me pay for my food anything I ate there. I could never get used to that. (Still can’t, when it happens.)

10-4 on the buffoon and the fool. I liked Carter as a man, then, but he went off the deep end as a President. And, I can’t abide his love affair with the Palestinians, now. That doesn’t connect with me.

“You can't imagine how much those words mean to me.” Glad I could lighten you heart. I’ve been too graphic in these posts. But, it is good to get them out. I was surprised at the depth of memory they brought back, and just how stupid and difficult those times were.

I’ve read a lot of Churchill. Not all you’ve mentioned, but some about his early life. He had fought in 5 campaigns by the time he was an observer in the Spanish-American war. I read about his capture in the Boer war, and his escape. What an adventure! His actions in the Sudan are stunning. And, I believe that his interest in that area extended into his political career, thus Obama’s hatred of the man.

I’ve also read some of his fiction literature. I have been intrigued by his American mother’s life. I have a book of his cables sent during WWII. Most interesting. Best of all is his history of the first World War. His insight and his unique position within the government made it doubly interesting. And, as far as I’m concerned, I’ve not seen anyone short of Christ himself who did more for the world than Churchill.

I’ll try to locate the others as I go along. (My house is a disorganized library, already.) (:-)) But, I’ll add these to my wish list.

As for as who would follow who in that Vietnam situation, it would be egotistical to say me. I think most of us would have gone in unison, as individuals. That actually happened a few times, though not with guns in hand, in some tough situations. But, thank you for the consideration.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

"...thus Obama’s hatred of the man."

You just hit me in the face with a shovel. Obama really doesn't respect Winston Churchill? How can that be? It seems impossible. Churchill was a man who looked at every issue that came before him, as a young man or an old one, with one of the fairest viewpoints I have ever seen.

That's one thing that is so special about him. He didn't make decisions based on preconceived beliefs; he looked at every issue from a viewpoint of fairness and honesty. He even criticizes himself at times for missing something important in an earlier decision, and history proves over and over again that he was right so many times when he was saying one thing and other people were saying another. Take Gallipoli, for example; if they'd done it his way they might have ended the war right there. And the tank; he told them it should be used in massed form, as a surprise, and without warning, but they used it in piddling ways, let the Gerans realize its potential, and lost another chance to end the war.

He was so honest about things that he actually left the Conservative Party and Joined the Liberal Party because he no longer could stand the elitist viewpoint of his fellow party members. He was especially shocked when he voted against the party because his conscience would let him do nothing else, and when he spoke to the Prime Minister about it he was appalled to hear him say that it was the very time to apply party loyalty--when you knew that the party was wrong. So he walked across the aisle.

How could you not love a man who thought like that? My gosh! He even went back across the aisle again when the two parties shifted their stands. He used to chuckle about it, saying that few people dared to "rat," but he had dared to "re-rat."

Ever read about the time he was playing "follow my leader" with his two brothers? (I think from what he said it must have been some form of "tag.") They caught him on a little bridge, one on each end. He was trapped. He looked over the side, at a 30 foot drop, and decided that he could leap into the branches of a treetop and get safely down. He got down all right; it took six months to heal.

But the important thing is the way he relates how amazed he was about all those people, and all the trouble that went into caring for him and getting him well. It was a form of epiphany for him, a sudden understanding of how much others were willing to give, and he was very humbled by it. It's in his book My Early Years.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

As to who would follow who in a battle, I have believed all my life that the very core of American beliefs is that we believe that we should lead our government, not follow it, and that our attitude about making our own decisions affects everything we do. The great leaders have all been great followers. It shows in their biographies.

Ever read Dave Hackworth's best book? It's called "Brave Men." Want to know the kind of people men follow? Read it. You'll love it. In case you don't know who Hackworth was, he was Army Colonel. Died a few years ago, a great loss to the nation.

As to Jimmy Carter, some men are cut out to do one thing, and others to so something else. Carter is a great humanitarian--and I don't use the word "great"lightly--but he was a bust as a president.

By the way, I meant to ask you. What the hell is a "rope?"


ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 11 months ago

I’m sure you seen the decorative ropes worn under the arm, and around the shoulder of the same arm, when on duty at some official function. Here’s a blue one worn by an Army sergeant. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Infantry_Cord I’ve heard them called ropes, cords and aiguillettes, though the latter is more ornate. Certain attaches wear them or aiguillettes as part of their working uniform.

At Chanute, they were usually, but not always worn by Airmen Second Class (This gave them official rank over airmen basics and equal status with other second class airmen, which accounted for 95% of all trainees on the base. The highest ranking 'rope' was always an Airman First Class. But, the 'rope' was simply a sign of appointed status indicating that they had been given proxy authority in the absence of one of the squadron NCOs.

Our squadron was the 58th Missile Maintenance Training Squadron. It consisted of three shifts with several flights in each shift. When a shift marched to the chow hall or school we numbered about 500 men in each shift. We had one sergeant responsible each shift. (Others performed clerical duties, but we had only one real Non-Com for each shift.) So, the ‘ropes’ stood in as proxy sergeants in lieu of about 20 NCO’s it would have required, otherwise.

The top ‘rope’ for each shift was a Red Rope. Under him were yellow ropes and under them green ropes. We were forced to obey them as if we were obeying Non-Coms. Instead of saying “Yes Sergeant” as you would to an NCO, you said “Yes Sir”, as if they were an officer, even if the rope held the same official rank as you. I was an Airman Second Class when I got to Chanute, and I actually outranked so some of the green ropes I said Yes Sir to.

These were the boot lickers I referred to, and they were the ones overseeing the crews who cleaned latrines, buffed floors and other barracks chores. They also acted in the capacity of Non-Coms when we marched. It was about 1/2 mile to the chow hall, and another 1-1/2 to 2 miles from there to our classrooms.

As for Obama’s hatred of Churchill, remember that Obama’s father was Kenyan. Not only that, but he was a political activist at about the time of the Mau Mau uprisings. According to the author of the movie 2016, the senior Obama was a open Marxist and was implicated as participating in the uprisings. One of the last things Churchill did was to send troops to Kenya to suppress the rebellion.

There were some very harsh feelings against the British and Churchill in particular. Not only for that action, but his name was synonymous with British rule every since his early participation in the strife in the Sudan.

Don’t you remember one of his first acts when entering the White House was to send the bust of Churchill back to the British government?


ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 11 months ago

Well, guess I was in the ozone during part of that last. I didn't make A2c until after my basic electronics portion of the school, which was 6 weeks, after basic. But, I was still pushed around by Airmen basics, who thought they lived and breathed importance, until the congressmen put a stop to all that.

That is why I was such a hard case later on. Once I came back from that vacation at mid term, I had made up my mind I'd take nothing off anybody. If it meant the brig, then there I'd go. I wouldn't run to Canada, and I wouldn't back up anymore. I was ready for the brig, and determined to see it through.

I remember a dog defending himself when he had no were to go, and no chance of winning. But, there he stood, blood all over, teeth bared and legs trembling, defiant and as wild as anything I've seen since. That was how I felt and intended to act. Fortunately for me, those congressmen made it so that I never had to exercise that stance the rest of the tech school period.

And, you know what? It has made life much simpler since. The weaker folks just wonder, but those who tend to ride roughshod over others respect those who stand up for themselves and the weaker ones. Not that I'm the Lone Ranger, but I try to stand up for others, pull my own weight, fight for the right and stand my ground.

BTW, that reminds me, I once had the chance to spend much of a day with Clayton Moore who played the Lone Ranger on TV. He was the main attraction at the opening of a mall, and my now ex-wife was working there on security when off duty. She called me about 8:30 AM and asked me if I'd like to spend most of the day with the Lone Ranger. I thought she was pulling my leg.

But, it turned out he was only allowed to be in the public for a few minutes at a time, not to pull business away from the stores. So he was sequestered in a waiting room with a couple of magazines. I showed up about 9:30 and when he wasn't doing his thing, we talked about a lot of things. I was about 34 at the time, and was thrilled to spend time with a boyhood hero. He was a great gentleman, and I learned a lot from him that day. The best of which was to moderate my toughness, and that has lasted with me.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

Oh, I get it. "Ropes." More New Air Force chicken-s--t. We had something similar in my day--barracks chiefs, flight chiefs, and squad leaders, but we didn't give them goodies to wear. They only had authority in their own flights or barracks and were just plain airmen like everyone else. They made decisions when they needed to be made. Basic was a simple matter in my day--learn something and go on with your life. No one was trying to be a Big Man. There was no need for it. The men in my flights worked together as team, not because I taught them to do it, but because that's the way people are when they have a job to do.

Here's one that will crack you up. Almost my entire first flight came from Chicago, part of some "join-or-jail" program. They were about a third black and supposed to be tough as nails. Never saw such great kids! They worked together better than any other flight I ever had.

One day one of my squad leaders came to me and asked me, "Hey, Airman Garrett, how'd you like a Thompson?"


"Yeah, you know, like in machine gun."

"You have a Thompson?"

"Got five of them."

"Where the hell...?"

Seems that he and some buddies, wanting some real firepower, broke into a police station and looted the place.

No, I didn't take him up on his offer. :-)

By the way, that was the same flight that decided on its own to take Honor Barracks several weeks in a row and win a dance. It was all their idea. I came in one Monday and found that they had gotten cans of paste wax out of Supply and polished the old wooden floors so they gleamed. That whole place shined! You could have eaten off the toilets. When I asked them why, they just said they wanted to.

And yes, the troops marched themselves to chow. The purpose of drill (now that we don't stand in straight lines and shoot at each other) is to get a large number of people from one place to another efficiently, and on a training base that's important because of human traffic problems. But they weren't there to hard-ass anyone. Man! What a ridiculous mess someone made out of Air Force training! I'm glad I wasn't there to see it.

"Don’t you remember one of his first acts when entering the White House was to send the bust of Churchill back to the British government?'

Because Lolly's disease affects the part of the brain that controls emotion, and can cause wide swings in happiness or sadness at times, we quit watching TV back about 2007, but we had curtailed it a lot before than. I haven't seen a news program--or anything else--since them, so I miss out on the hype and tripe.

"...until the congressmen put a stop to all that."

Never heard a word about it. Something tells me I retired at the right time, and have been a lot happier as a result.

The Lone Ranger? Quite a guy, so I've heard. I'll never forget the way he got that horse to rise up. Was a famous moment. I remember that voice on the radio. Unmistakable.

Tough is matter of the mind.


ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 11 months ago

Excellent points. And, yes, tough is all in the head. I’ve seen some scrawny men who were a lot tougher than me. I might knock them down once, twice or even three times, but in the end they’d win, because they just wouldn’t quit.

Being in my 60’s and sparring with young men the age of my son, including him, (And all of them either black belts or brown belts) I would have to pace myself, and stop before I blew a gasket. But, there were a few people in poor physical shape who would not stop, or slow down. They’d take punches and kicks that most would have hollowed calf-rope on, and attack. That took grit and a bit of naivety.

You mentioned marching being merely a means of getting from here to there. It was a lot more than that for these folks. They had a dinky reviewing stand set up as the route approached the flight line. (Our classrooms were in large multistory buildings adjacent to the flight line. So we marched to the flight line, up the flight line, and back to the side of the buildings.)

There was always an officer in that stand as we went by. We always won the honors, in all three shifts of school. We passed in review at about 7:30 AM, each morning after chow hall, at 11:30 on the way to the chow hall, at about 1:30 PM on the way back to school, then finally on the way to the barracks at about 4:45 PM. I seldom, but sometimes, saw the stand empty. We did a route step one evening, when a power line was across the road and live. The road guards (I was one) laid flash lights down so the men could step over the line. As soon as the unit was across, it was back to goose-stepping.

To win those honors we goose-stepped like a bunch of Nazis, which we knew was forbidden by military law. (So I heard) But, we did it anyway. And, we'd always dig our left heels in. When we passed any other squadron, the heavy Clump clump, Clump clump would destroy the coordination of the other squadron, every time. I was the tallest in my flight, and could see the many flights ahead of me. It was amazing to see 350 to 400 heads moving in absolute unison. In the 6 months we did that, I had to have the heels on my boots (Mainly the left one) replaced twice. After the inspection, it was route step everywhere.

I'd go out and watch sometimes as the other shifts left or came back. It was amazing, as well. Their Legs were perfectly straight, at about 5 to 10 degrees short of parallel to the ground, at the top of the swing, of 500 men. No other sound, not even the TI calling cadence, except the heavy Clump clump in that special goose-stepping rhythm. He didn't have to. And, it was funny to see some of them asleep as they were marching by. I did that a bit, myself.

I do understand about the not seeing movies/TV. If you want to read about the Churchill bust, go to http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/barackobama/4623148/Barack-Obama-sends-bust-of-Winston-Churchill-on-its-way-back-to-Britain.html


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

"...which we knew was forbidden by military law."

Before I became a DI it was discovered that slamming heels into the pavement causes damage to feet, resulting in medical problems. I don't know what the exact regulation was, but we were told not to tell the men to slam their heels down. No "Hut! Hut! Hut! Heels! Heels!" They didn't make a big thing of it, but if you got out of hand they'd tell you about it.

The idea of the reviewing stand was to provoke a feeling of "pride" iin the men. Pride is something a lot of people who make decisions don't understand. It comes from within. If the men want to show who they are they'll stand tall and proud and march well, with or without being told to do it, and with or without anyone watching.

The purpose of marching people back and forth to class was to get them there and back without mass confusion. When I was in Phase II Basic, the DI's did not lead their men back and forth; they left that to flight chiefs. It was no big deal. It sounds to me that the New Air Force got bound up in the appearance of pride instead of its reality. Too bad.

I can relate to that "falling asleep" bit. I remember when I was first being drilled. I'd lose myself in the process and have no idea what was going on around me. It was just drill, drill, drill.

As to the TV, Lolly has a form of disease that cause her to respond too strongly to emotional impacts. TV programs are based on emotion. They had to go. Then the news had to go for the same reason--too hyped. So Lolly watches nothing but DVD's--all of them musicals.

It's an odd thing too. Now that we can seek out the news we want by going out on the net with an RSS reader, reading titles, and selecting the ones we want to know something about, everything has changed. See the little orange or blue icon that looks like a transmission signal at the right end of the title box in your browser and click on it. See? Now YOU make a choice of what news you hear, not some clamhead in a TV station. Right now my RSS reader is showing 3,585 items; I'll look at perhaps 50 of them, and actually read 25 or so. The rest will self-erase because I have things set up to limit the items to the last 7 days, so the old ones drop off on their own. Instead of being a passive audience, I'm an active one. It's possible that a day will come when most people get their news that way.

As of right now I watch zero television, primarily because I like to keep my focus on the monitors I have around the house. Wherever Lolly is, she's beside a transmitter, and I'm beside a receiver for that channel. But if something were to happen--God forbid!--I would never go back to television again except for programs that were chosen far in advance and that were a large cut above the quality of what I understand we have now. No more just slopping up whatever gruel they dump in my trough.

Thanks for the link, but I won't go to it. You've already told me all I need to know.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

What I meant by, "Thanks for the link, but I won't go to it" was that I already had a good idea what I would find, and my bloood pressure was already high enough. But I changed my mind. In the first place, you were good enough to dig it up for me, and in the second place I needed to read with my own two eyes how %$#@! dumb some people can be.

The fact that it came from a UK paper instead of an American one says a lot. The depth of hurt feelings could easily be seen. I can't believe that the man did such a thing. It was a direct insult to everyone in the British world, and because it was an American President who did it, it made it look as though all America was insulting our best friend in the entire world.

Obama had no right to do such a thing. Had he simply notified the British Embassy that a piece of notable art which belonged to the UK had been kept longer than it was supposed to have been kept, and he felt it right to offer to return it that would have been fine, but to do it the way he did is something I personally will never forgive.

There's a lot more I could say, but I won't. I imagine its been said better by now.



ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 11 months ago

Wow, boy. Steady now.

I’m sorry that lit your fuse, let alone messed with your blood pressure. Maybe one person in a hundred heard about that, and the news smoothed it over so benignly that it just wasn’t much of an issue to anyone except the Brits. Our country took a nosedive that day.


ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 11 months ago

That should have been Whoa, instead of Wow. It's funny what your fingers do when your brain goes to sleep.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

Since it looks like this string may have run its course, I thought I'd add a little thought that popped into my head about the original subject, but didn't seem to fit while we were talking about more serious subjects.

Could it be that the holes in our southern border are bullet holes? Lot of that stuff going on down there south of the border. :-)


ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 11 months ago

Yeah, I think so. I'd hate to be a rancher down there. See you in other strings.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

There was an article recently about a rancher down there. Poor guy can't keep a fence. I don't see why he doesn't demand that the feds buy him out.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

I don't know, Allan. I don't know. I have no idea why the guy is sticking it out. I wouldn't. I bought a brand new house in Phoenix. Never been lived in. Two stories, four bedrooms, 3 baths, formal dining room, formal living room, den with a beauful stone fireplace, covered patio, and three car garage under the roof, on a cul de sac with a large piece of property.

I worked my butt off to landscape that place; wheelbarrowed 28 tons of top soil off my drive to the back; built a low hill; planted orange, lemon, and grapefruit trees; planted all kinds of green growing things; laid stairs up to the top of the hill; planted a lawn in the middle; graveled the top of the hill; created a garden along one side; went out front; planted trees; graveled; built a low rail fence; dug and installed a water system front and back. The place was as perfect as I could get it; just what we had always wanted.

It took me from 1986 to 1989, working all summer and weekends. By 1989 it was obvious that a drug trade had moved into the development. Cars were stopping at houses as if they were way-stations. I never saw so many people getting out of cars with drinks in paper cups--whatever the hell that was about. A lot of things went on.

We pulled up stakes, sold the place, and moved to Mesa. We barely broke even. All I got out of three years of hard work was the pleasure of doing it.

If I lived near the border I'd be out of there in the time it took to get in the car. And if the border problems spread up here, as old as I am I'd pull up stakes and move again.

When the government fails you, you go to a place with a different government (which basically means different people).


Pat Randall 3 years, 11 months ago

Why not a really high voltage electric fence and land mines?

How do the TV stations get pictures of the drug dealers carrying drugs on thier backs but our border patrol can't catch them? Payoff somehere? You bet there is!


ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 11 months ago

Even if it were my family’s land, I’d be tempted to sell, but I wouldn’t. First, the value would be so low, I’d never get half the value of the land and improvements, over all those years, out of it. Next, I’d have my hackles up, and would not let a bunch of thieves and murderers run me off my land.

Land, family, honor and what is right is worth fighting for. I’d probably get tossed in jail for violating some illegal’s rights, but I’d shoot some of them, and scare the rest off. I suspect, in the end, they’d probably get me, or kill some of my family; but I’d not sell out, and I wouldn’t run. In the old days men, who didn’t want to fight, wisely moved west to new lands that was for the taking. Most of them had to fight then, or move on again. Some that moved on finally figured out that if they wanted to have a life, they had to fight, and eventually did. Some went back East, when the trouble there was settled, to live peacefully. Today, there’s little place to move to. Maybe Iowa or Kansas. But, there you live under the threat of tornadoes. There’s earthquakes in California, blizzards in Dakota and so on.

The ranchers down there, and along the Texas border, have been warned that if they kill someone who is not actively trying to kill them, they will be tried for murder, manslaughter and so forth, or maybe simply prosecuted for violating the civil rights of the illegals, drug dealers and etc.

Fences they cut, climb through, over or under, and landmines are obviously not self protection in the eyes of the government.

The rancher’s plight is really bad, and our government is bent upon helping the thugs and a flood of illegals violate their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But, then we do have a rogue government, don’t we?


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

"Today, there’s little place to move to. "

Going to tell you the best kept secret in the nation. Maine. Check it out.

Pat, I like your idea. Landmines, a quad-50, motion driver lasers, you name it.

I'm not kidding. As far as I'm concerned you violate my borders, you make a choice. When we make the price for making that choice high enough people will no longer make it.

The bottom line? The world is over-populated. It is becoming more and more overpopulated. The nations that have too many people refuse to do anything about it--in particular Mexico. The disparity in earnings between the highest and the lowest earning people in Mexico is worse that all except just three nations in the entire world even though Mexico has the 13th largest economy in the world (bet you didn't know that). The solution is to lower the population, but while we are doing that we have to find ways to help the poor around the world, who are getting increasingly poor. Did you that by the very lowest figures over 35,000 people die of starvation...............

every day!

That's right. Every day! Not just every year, or every month, or every week. EVERY DAY!

The number is between 13 million and 18 million each year. Just divide it by 365 and see what you get.

That's the real problem. Too many people, not enough wealth. Yes, there's enough food to feed everyone, but it would take a readjustment in economics that will NEVER be made.

We need to do what we can for the poorest of the poor as we implement a program of VOLUNTARY birth control.

Until we do that NOTHING will stop people from coming here illegally. All they want to do is eat and stay alive. Can you blame them?


Pat Randall 3 years, 11 months ago

Where do they get the money to pay the Coyotes that bring them across the border? I asked this before and never got an answer. If they pay somewhere between $500.00 and $5000.00 it isn't dropping out of the sky. Right?


ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 11 months ago

Yeah, knew about Maine. I had a friend who lived down the hall in the barracks in Dakota. He had grown up in Maine, and told me much about it; and about all the mind-boggling beauty, the miles of wilderness and the independent type people.

Landmines are like tying a string to your door knob, with the other end on the trigger of a shotgun pointed at the door. People have gone to jail for that. Besides, others stumble into them, like your cattle, your dog and maybe your kids. Not a good idea. Whereas, if you shoot someone who might have been trying to shoot at you, there’s a good chance you won’t go to jail, in this stupid arena we live in, today. It’s all about perception, when it comes to the law.

“we have to find ways to help the poor around the world,” Why do we need to do that, Tom? Don’t get me wrong, I give money to help the poor, and I support missionary trips that help the poor dig wells, build churches and so forth. But, why do we have to find ways to help them? Why not just help them?

Matthew 26:11 “For ye have the poor always with you”

We will always have the poor. The condition won’t be alleviated, even if we give enough to make ourselves as poor as they. Would it not be better to provide a society wherein even the poor can be happy, and feed themselves?

You speak of limiting the poor by use of birth control. I suggest to you that even then, the poor will be with us. And, if you were successful at it, the impact upon illegals coming here would be in 20 to 50 years out.

“Until we do that NOTHING will stop people from coming here illegally.” Sure it is that we could slow it down. It’s been done several times in the last 100 years. Why not look back and review how those actions succeeded.

“Where do they get the money to pay the Coyotes that bring them across the border?” The illegals I’ve talked to tell me that they pool their money within families to send those chosen, while the rest of them send support until they get their feet on the ground, and can start sending money back to Mexico, Asia or wherever.


ALLAN SIMS 3 years, 11 months ago

A lot of that money is made here by other illegals or U.S. citizens who are sending money they earn here, to families there. Some of that is saved up to pay for help getting others to the U.S.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

"...the independent type people."

That's true, but it wasn't what I meant. I was replying to this:

"Today, there’s little place to move to. Maybe Iowa or Kansas. But, there you live under the threat of tornadoes. There’s earthquakes in California, blizzards in Dakota and so on."

Cold and wet, yes, but no surprises.

"...if you shoot someone who might have been trying to shoot at you, there’s a good chance you won’t go to jail."

This is off the subject, and I have only my son's word for it because I do not get into such things, but I wondered if you knew that in Canada it is illegal to use a gun inself defense? If you do, so my son says, you are going to jail no matter what.

“we have to find ways to help the poor around the world,” Why do we need to do that, Tom?

Because we have buried out heads in the sand for too long and allowed the world to become overpopulated when we could have stopped the growth long ago. The poor have no way of helping themselves. They can't make laws that do good things. We need to help them, but only until we get the world population down to the 1920 levels. At that many people, with the technology we have, everyone on the planet is guaranteed of a decent working wage, there would be literally no pollution, crime for profit would become a thing of the past, wars would be the same, and the world could focus on living, not on beating each other over the head.

Don't believe me. Go check the numbers.

"Would it not be better to provide a society wherein even the poor can be happy, and feed themselves?

That's what I want to do. Just make it possible for everyone to work, earn a decent wage, and enjoy life. No leeches.

"You speak of limiting the poor by use of birth control. I suggest to you that even then, the poor will be with us."

How would it be possible for someone to be poor when the cake we had to cut up was so large that the very poorest of the poor would earn wages that are the equivalent of about what you are probably earning?

Listen, it's very simple. We only need so much food, clothing, shelter, and whatnot. Back in primitive times what a man could earn was what he could scratch up with his own two hands. Then things improved--first with farming and ranching, then with better methods, and now with power tools that make it possible for one man to create enough wealth for a hundred of us. I say "possible," but not necessary. All it takes--check the numbers--is for each of us to do a half way decent job of whatever we do.

As to crime? Why steal and take a chance of being in prison when you can do light work that you enjoy and earn enough to get what you need?

I wrote an article and sent it off to the NY Times, which has not yet accepted it and probably won't be. It tells how to immediately and permanently close the border while at the same time helping people on both sides of the border. I'll quote just a bit of it for you.

Want to bet you agree?


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

Our problem is not a porous border. It is not an inability to write and enforce fair and equitable immigration laws....

Consider these facts, verifiable anywhere:

Mexico is the 13th largest independent nation in the world. The economy of Mexico is the 13th largest in the world and the 11th in purchasing power. Put those numbers together and it is easy to conclude there should be little motivation for anyone south of the border to leave home. Mexico should be a land of plenty compared to many lands around the world.

But it isn't. While the Mexican economy contains rapidly developing and modern industrial and service sectors, with increasing private ownership, the wealth in the nation is poorly distributed. Poverty and income disparity has been a persistent problem in Mexico. Currently, 17% of the population lives below Mexico's own poverty line, ranking Mexico behind Kazakhstan, Bulgaria and Thailand. The overall poverty rate is a whopping 44.2%, while a full 70% of Mexican families lack one of the 8 economic indicators used to define poverty by the Mexican government itself.

It is this, you see, which drives the immigration engine, sending millions of Mexicans across our borders in search of fairness and equity they cannot find in their own land.

In 2006, trade with Mexico's two northern partners accounted for almost 90% of its exports and 55% of its imports. We should be proud of that; it cost us some jobs, but it shared our riches with a good neighbor who needed our help.

But where is all that money going? Into the pockets of rich Mexicans, who are daily growing richer, while poor Mexicans are driven out of their own nation by policies which fail to bring equity to the poor and impoverished.

So you see, this is not an American problem....

Repeat: "In 2006, trade with Mexico's two northern partners accounted for almost 90% of its exports and 55% of its imports."

...we can re-negotiate a portion of the North American Free Trade Agreement, insisting that our continued support as a free-trade neighbor require that Mexico pass, and enforce, a single law...

Here it is: "It shall be a felony with a minimum two year sentence for the first offense for anyone to leave Mexico without a valid entry visa for the nation to which he or she travels; discovery of any Mexican citizen within the borders of another nation without such visa shall be prima facie proof of guilt."

Done! As a result of one single, easy to understand and enforce law, the traffic across our borders will be halted. Anyone returned to Mexico for being here without a visa will be headed for prison, reason enough not to come here in the first place.


Do that, Allan, and if we want to we can even help people who have been here earning an honest living to apply for citizenship while we send the crooks back home.


Pat Randall 3 years, 11 months ago

How do you suggest we lower the population? GUNS ? Why is it our responsibity to take care of the world?


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago


"How do you suggest we lower the population?"

We don't need to do a thing to lower the population in the United States and Europe except to ban immigration. Our population, and that of Europe, has been dropping for nearly 40 years. The only reason our population keep growing is because of immigration, some of it illegal.

The place where the program needs to be instituted is in other countries, where the governents do nothing to slow down growth, thinking they can just send them here. That's what Mexico is doing. They just turn a blind eye to the people escaping from their country. What are we supposed to do, open the borders and say, "Come on in!" That won't work, will it? We are already running out of space--and out of money.

"Why is it our responsibity to take care of the world?"

I never said we should "take care" of the world. I said we should use our economic clout to force the world to take care of itself. Every country that wants to sell to the United States should be told, "No! Not unless you pass a law that makes it illegal to leave your country without an entry visa for the country you are going to, a law that says that if we send someone back he is going to prison. And it's still NO unless you pass laws to start getting your population down." The alternative is to keep on having the world sneak across our borders. We have to get rid of the problem where it exists; in other countries. We can't do anything about THEIR over population by passing laws here. "Immigration reform" my foot! We can't reform other countries by passing American laws, but we can sure as hey force countries that want to trade with us to solve their problems so they don't become OUR problems!

Pat, the end result of all this, if we do not do something about it, is going to be wars like we have never seen before, wars driven by starvation, wars where we will be seen as the enemy because we have food and others don't. It is coming. We can either do something about it now, or pay the price later.

Do you think that when a billion and a half Chinese are starving they will hesitate for one minute to try to take what we have?


Pat Randall 3 years, 11 months ago

And where are we going to get our food? Most of the farmers have gone broke. Very little food is grown here in the US.
Arizona was known for the 5 C's. Cattle, cotton, citrus, climate, and copper. Now we have subdivisions with vacant houses on the farm land. Citrus that is falling off half dead trees in orchards that are left, mines are closed because of enviornmentalists. Cattle have been taken off the forest. Feed lots are gone. Air is polluted from all the vehicles bringing in our food and things we need from other countries.
Look on the packages of food you get at the store. China, Taiwan, Africa, South America. Where do we get our steel, where are our cars coming from? Toyota has a factory somewhere in the south and my last Fords have been built in Canada and Mexico. Where did your computer or the parts for it come from? We are not superior to any country as far as surviving without them.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

You get the picture, Pat.

Too many people. Too many nations competing for the American market because they have too many mouths to feed. Overseas nations cheat. They subsidize companies so that they can unfairly compete with American companies. But instead of getting into trade wars, we need to place the focus on the real problem--too many people.

Think of what it looked like here in 1920. How much room there was. That's the goal in a program to reduce population--to get back to our level in the 1920's--worldwide. Why? because with modern farming we would have four times as much food as we would need to feed everyone--if we bothered to even grow it, which we wouldn't. If we did that we would automatically, without doing anything else, cut the amount of pollution in the world to one quarter of what it is today--an otherwise impossible goal, a dream goal, a goal that Washington would be doing a dance over if it could be achieved.

I know this will be hard to believe but it is true. There are today over 7 billion people on the planet, and yet just a few years ago in 1920 there were only 2 billion. And it took all of human history, stretching back about 200,000 years, to get that way.

Think about what the planet would be like if we could get back to that level of population, which we can if we just make the effort.

In a modern nation the population no longer grows. It recedes if left to its own devices. People no longer want large families. They were natural back when people made no effort to avoid having too many children, but the large family is history now.

We can do some things to accelerate that trend. Since we want the population to fall, not grow, we should first of all stop all immigration except that which we need for some reason. Then we should change welfare so that a woman who has a child out of wedlock will no longer receive welfare for a second child or any others. Then we should allow tax breaks for only the first two children; after a third child there should be an added tax for each child. None of those would work a hardship on anyone, but they would accelerate the drop in population here and in European nations.

In third world countries, in a primarily voluntary program, it should be made plain that two children are allowed--but no more. Up to the third child no penalty should be assessed, but a fourth child should result in sterilization. Enough is enough. No separate rules for the rich and the poor. The same rules for everyone.

Any nation which refuses to join in the program will be shunned, left to its own devices, no trade with anyone, no travel to or from that nation. You want to be up to your hips in kids? Good! Enjoy it, but take care of it on your own.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 11 months ago

Can anyone think of any other solution than to quit making so many babies?


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