Category: Military

Night Vision


“There’s a world in front of me I can’t predict or envision because I haven’t been there yet. I haven’t lived this yet. I haven’t lived blind,” he says. “All I ask is to stay in the Army and finish out my years … I want to feel productive.”

The only good news for now is when he sleeps, Castro says.

“I’ve had dreams where I know I’m blind and, guess what? I’ve regained my vision,” he says. Reality floods back each morning.

“There’s not a night that I don’t pray and ask God, when I wake up, that I wake up seeing.”

Read the rest

The Last of the Doughboys

doughboy.jpgAlthough yesterday was officially Veterans Day, every day is Veterans Day for me. By virtue of my choice of practice, I have the privilege of providing eye care to “him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” (and increasingly these days, her as well).

I consider it an honor and a privilege to care for these men and women who are, by and large, among the most decent, salt-of-the-earth folks you’ll ever meet. Indeed, they are cut from a finer grade of cloth than any politician who ever sent them into battle. At this point in my career, if I was suddenly thrust into a situation where I had to care for the well-to-do and whiny LASIK/liposuction crowd, I would probably end up strangling someone in frustration.… Read the rest


Number Three Son recently returned from a golfing trip with his grandparents. They traveled around Florida and up into southern coastal Georgia hitting a few courses and making a few tourist stops along the way.

And of course, when there’s a trip, souvenirs usually follow. Number Three thoughtfully killed two birds with one stone, combining my love of both kitschy knickknacks and coffee into this particular winner:

But the one that really floated my boat (or submerged it in this case), was this:


As it turns out, Number Three visited the St. Mary’s Submarine Museum in Georgia and found a patch with my Dad’s old boat, the USS Cubera.Read the rest

In the Hands of The Man Upstairs

He was a Vietnam vet with more than a few miles under the hood. The deep lines of his stubbly face and the sad, saggy eyes bespoke a hardscrabble life and many nights of facing off against Charlie in his dreams.

His vest, with its sleeves shorn from a regulation BDU, was festooned with a motley assortment of buttons, patches and pins:

“God Bless America”

“God, Duty, Country”

“POW*MIA–You Are Not Forgotten”

His automated wheelchair, likewise, was tattooed with various Marine Corps and patriotic stickers. There were two small American flags, one on each armrest, flying proud and strong.

The cigarettes that had helped keep Charlie at bay all these years had left deep and debilitating scars on his lungs, and the nicotine stained tubing from his supplemental oxygen tank looped around his chair, across his weathered face, and into his nostrils, allowing for short, labored breaths.… Read the rest

You Gotta Love Those Gunnies

gunnery-sarge.jpgA young Marine officer was in a serious car accident, but the only visible permanent injury was to both of his ears, which were amputated. Since he wasn’t physically impaired he remained in the Marines and eventually rose to the rank of General. He was, however very sensitive about his appearance. One day the General was interviewing three Marines for his personal aide. The first was an aviator, and it was a great interview. At the end of the interview the General asked him, “Do you notice anything different about me?”

The young officer answered,” why yes, sir. I couldn’t help but notice that you have no ears.”Read the rest

I’m Glad I’m Just An Optometrist

I don’t recall having written much, if anything, in this blog about Iraq. I tend to keep my peace on things about which I know little. But against my better judgment, I hereby break my silence.

These days it’s hard to find many insightful pieces about Iraq that aren’t leaden down with emotionalism and bile. However, I ran across one written by James Wiser, a librarian at Pepperdine University with whom I’ve recently had a playful verbal joust regarding Alabama’s hiring of Nick Saban.

On the heels of that comes a very scholarly and even-handed piece on Iraq and just-war doctrine written by former Navy officer Chris Dowd which appeared recently in Commonweal.… Read the rest

Blogging the Wonder Years–Weighing In On Watergate, Chapter VI

gerald-ford.jpgWith the recent day of mourning in honor of President Gerald Ford, it seemed fitting to revive my dormant series, Blogging the Wonder Years.

What’s the connection? Well, as you may recall, in my personal journal that I kept for Ms. Fine’s 7th grade class at Burnt Chimney Elementary School in Wirtz, Virginia, I not only dealt with my “touchy-feely” emotional side, adolescent angst and roiling hormones, but I also responded to the issues and events of the day. Previous excerpts included reflections and rants on my personal emotional and psychological growth during my first 6 years of elementary school, guys with long hair, so-called friends who called me “shorty,” cussing and the 70’s music scene (highly recommended since that was my highest comment post ever).… Read the rest

8:46 AM 9/11/02

Three thousand voices cry out in shock and awe at the mournful moment
A crisp, clear morning is shattered by fire and fury.
Frantic chatter from little wireless boxes fills the air,
And only the essentials matter now:
“I don’t want to die.”
“I’m sorry.”
“Take care of the kids.”
“I’ll be with you always.”
“I just want you to know I love you.”

I hear them even now, phantoms flitting about my head as the daily grind Halts on yet another Black Tuesday.
Each gently asks, “Remember me?”
They gather round and tell their stories of life and love:
John, who loved soccer and coached his kids,
Suzanne, who loved her little sister with Downs,
Mario, who considered fine wine with a good meal and the company of Friends a sacrament,
Max*, who loved tinkering with old Mustangs and playing the trombone.… Read the rest

Beyond the Bling

p1_wadehinrich.jpgIn one of the quieter sports stories of the summer, the U.S. Mens basketball team has been marching steadily forward in the FIBA World Championships in Sapporo, Japan. There was a time when U.S. teams took World Championship and Olympic gold medals for granted. But in recent years, a new generation of international basketball players has humbled American hoopsters, resulting in an embarrassing 6th place finish in the last World Championships and a disappointing bronze in the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

So what’s different this time around? Two words: Coach K. Duke Head Coach and master motivator Mike Krzyzewski took over the reigns of the National Team last year and immediately went to what USA Today appropriately called Plan B–a true team.Read the rest

Cubera Nights

USS_Cubera;0834702.jpg.jpgIt was fitting that my Father’s Day gift arrived in a small, Priority Mail shipping container. The Navy ballcap emblazoned with “USS Cubera, SS-347″ barely fit inside its tight, cardboard quarters. The snugness reminded me of the way her crew must have felt, tightly sealed inside the smothering, steel hull of the Balao Class fast-attack submarine as she patrolled the waters of the Caribbean and the Atlantic during the Cold War, her eyes ever open for any sign of danger from Mother Bear.

And of course, the cap reminded me of my father, which, I suppose, was the whole point.… Read the rest

Hanging Out in American Babylon

Since my entry into the blogosphere a few months ago, I’ve noticed quite a few Christians, especially seminary students, who seem to struggle with the idea of “dual citizenship”–i.e., balancing their identity as both Americans and Christians. As they react to what they see as a too close alliance between the cross and the flag among those on the Christian Right, their tendency is to resort to Platonic dualism and “either/or” solutions. In other words, choose whom you will serve, cross or flag, but never both.… Read the rest

Happy 50th Anniversary Mom and Dad!

If my father had lived to see tomorrow, he would have celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary with my mother. His untimely death in 1980 left my mother a fairly young widow, but tomorrow we will celebrate nonetheless–for love transcends all boundaries of time and space, life and death.

My Mom and Dad attended the same high school and both graduated in 1951, but they were only casual acquaintances at the time. In those days, my father was tagged with the ironic nickname “Bonecrusher,” standing as he did at 4’11” his senior year (he grew 7 inches his first year out of school).… Read the rest