Category: Military

It’s the way it is, but it doesn’t have to be, Part 2

Well, they passed a law in ’64
To give those who ain’t got a little more
But it only goes so far
Because the law don’t change another’s mind
When all it sees at the hiring time
Is the line on the color bar, no, no

That’s just the way it is
And some things will never change
That’s just the way it is
That’s just the way it is, it is, it is, it is

–Bruce Hornsby, The Way It Is, 1986

During the academic year 1954-55, an unknown person in the Harding College (now Harding University) admissions office received an application from a young man named Wilbert Neal Whitley who lived in Council Bluffs, Iowa. … Read the rest

Ocular Prophylatics–A Salute to “BCGs”

I first heard the term “Birth Control Glasses” or “BCGs” in the early 1990s when I started practicing optometry with the US Government. I was around 30 years old, married, with two sons and one on the way. Fortunately, I had already “spread my seed.”

Because if I hadn’t, I feel sure that merely touching those brown, butt-ugly, godawful, googly-eyed monsters would have struck me impotent. When I first laid eyes on them, I understood immediately why a whole generation of young men had dodged the draft and sought refuge in Canada.

For decades, military-issue eye wear has been as much a rite of passage for new recruits as screaming drill sergeants, 5:00 AM PT and MREs.… Read the rest

Robert Rex Meyers: Student, Soldier, Professor, Preacher, “Heretic”–My Friend

Robert Rex Meyers was born in 1923 and raised by loving and devout parents on a three hundred acre farm in the eastern hills of Oklahoma near Henrietta. From an early age, he would rise early in the morning and plow the land, sowing seeds in the rich, moist earth in much the same way he would later plant ideas in the fertile minds of eager students. He studied the Bible and was baptized by a traveling black evangelist named R.N. Hogan in a small, fundamentalist Church of Christ, but it was his full-bodied immersion in the deep waters of natural revelation, the whisper of God in the rustling of wind-kissed leaves and the fragrant incense of meadow grass, that would eventually set his heart aflame.… Read the rest

Supercentenarians of the World–Live Long!

On January 31, 2011, Eunice Sanborn, widely believed to be the world’s oldest person, died in Jacksonville, Texas at the age of 115–bless her heart. She handed off the baton to Besse Cooper, 114, who was born in Sullivan County, Tennessee on August 26, 1896. Bless her heart too.

And let’s not forget to bless Frank Buckles while we’re at it. A veritable pup in comparison–he turned 110 on February 1st–Frank is the sole remaining US veteran of World War I, the Last American Doughboy (what cohort of uber-humans, pray tell, comes before The Greatest Generation?).

When the three of them, squirming, grunting, caterwauling little bundles of joy and raw, “FEED ME!”… Read the rest

Covert Warriors

The barista turned and cocked her ear, recognizing the familiar footfalls—one human, male, one canine, sex undetermined. She was the tip of the caffeinated spear and took pride in knowing her regulars, including each one’s drink, stride length and cadence.

The usual? Grande cappuccino?

Ha, you’ve got me nailed. Better make it a venti. Long night ahead.

She mixed the concoction quickly and handed the cup to the cashier. Hope you enjoy it, sir.

Thanks, smells great. He took a quick sip. Mmm, awesome.

She liked the sound of his voice.Read the rest

Señor García’s One-Stop Shopping

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

–Matthew 7:3-5

I once had a war hero sitting in my exam chair who had survived all manner of jungle ambushes but was dying from an inoperable brain tumor.… Read the rest

A Modest Veterans Day Proposal

In many respects, every day is Veterans Day for me. By virtue of my chosen profession, I have spent the majority of my waking hours over the past 17 years with former soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen. By and large, they are a respectable, salt-of-the-earth lot, as good as they come.

It’s an honor to care for them each day, and since I never served in the military myself, I’ve come to think of it as a way of giving back to my country a little bit of what it has given me. But I’ve formed a few impressions about the military and war over the years, and perhaps today is as good a day as any to share some of them with you.… Read the rest

A Communion of Saints

I don’t always do eye exams on Catholic priests, but when I do, I prefer to be blessed.

And that’s exactly what happened yesterday when I examined an honest-to-God padre, Father C. I’ve examined my share of Baptist preachers and various charismatic sorts, even a couple of Episcopalian rectors, but as far as I can remember Father C. was my first Vatican-verified vicar. He was Irish too, which was simply gravy on the potatoes.

He was the second patient in as many days to created a stir in the waiting room. The first one was the man with the Crimson Tide elephant hat, complete with long, gray trunk, who came in Monday still high on the fumes of Mt.Read the rest

Bravo, Enrique!

A while back, I wrote a story about my Dad and his service aboard the submarine USS Cubera in the 1950s. Several times a week, people Google their way here for information on the Cubera and check out that post. I always hoped that one of Dad’s former crewmates or another Cubera alum might someday leave a comment.

I just always figured it would be a US sailor, not a Venezuelan one:

eventhough 3 years has almost passed on  the story of your dad and mom, I would like to add that your dad behavior could not be better, I’m a venezuelan citizen who served onbaord the ARV Tiburon( SS CuBERA) for 5 years; I was P.O.1;

Read the rest

Some Camo Eye Candy for Carolinagirl

Long time reader and commentator Carolinagirl is back from “playing” in The Sandbox, but she’s a little glum this morning after her beloved Army Black Knights were keelhauled yet again (their 7th straight loss ) by the Navy Midshipmen in the annual Army-Navy game.

Chin up, cg. Here’s some camo eye candy that should brighten your day:


Both teams were sporting the new Nike “Enforcer” uniform, but Army’s camo threads were over-the-top-o’-the-trench AWESOME. When I saw them I yelled, CHARGE! I immediately gathered everybody in the house to see them and called Number One Son at Bama to make sure he saw them too.… Read the rest

United We Win

On this Veterans Day, I pause to honor my favorite vet of all time:


That’s my Dad on the left (in case you couldn’t figure that out) with a crew mate on the deck of the submarine USS Cubera, circa 1953. Part of the unfinished business that remained when my Dad died at a young age are all the unanswered questions that I would like to ask him.

Such as: What was your friend’s name? Where was he from? Was he the only black crew member or were there others? Was he a steward or an Engineman like you? What was going on at the moment that picture was taken?… Read the rest

Horton Hears a Hooah in Huntsville!

Breaking news: I’m pleased to report the that the City of Huntsville, Alabama has finished in first place in 20th Century Fox’s “Horton Hears You–Hometown Challenge.”

Last Thursday, citizens of Huntsville, bolstered by a large contingent of soldiers from Redstone Arsenal, stood in front of the Von Braun Civic Center prior to the Huntsville Havoc vs. Columbus Cottonmouths hockey game and let loose a loud barbaric yawp which reportedly red-lined decibel meters and tickled seismographs as far away as Tupelo, Mississippi.

By winning, those who participated receive free passes to a special Huntsville premiere prior to the nationwide release of “Dr.Read the rest

What I Learned In Atlanta

I just returned from five days in Atlanta attending the Southern Educational Congress in Optometry (SECO), one of the largest optometry meetings in the world. It had been a while since I had attended so large a conference, and I discovered that I had some catching up to do. Since most of you weren’t able to go too, I decided I would share a few things that I learned:

  • Be careful if you use a hotel elliptical trainer. If the “glide” track is angled differently from the one you use at home, it can ball up your calves into knots making it extremely difficult to walk for the rest of your stay.
Read the rest

Nice Shot, Navy


Whether you agree with it or not, you have to admit it was a nice shot.

As someone who briefly held the high score on the Space Invaders machine at University Mall in Blacksburg, Virginia in early 1985, my hat’s off to you, Navy. Somewhere, Wernher von Braun is smiling. And I suspect, so are many of my top-secret rocket scientist friends in Huntsville.

Maybe you guys could help Duke find the basket too. Or at least a little earlier in the game anyway.… Read the rest

Hooah, Captain Gales

I’ve had the privilege of teaching many interns and residents over the years, and it’s always a joy to see them sally forth and take on the world. Although some have made me nervous (are you sure you’re ready for this?), others, such as Dr. Curt Gales, were obviously destined to accomplish great things.

I was Curt’s preceptor during his residency at Fox Army Hospital in 1996-97. He was, without a doubt, one of the best students I ever had. Emboldened with the kind of confidence and independent spirit that can only come from driving a combine on a Kansas wheat farm at the age of twelve, Curt never flinched at any difficult case or task that we assigned him.… Read the rest