Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My Friend the Warrior

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

They died July 27, 2007, near Kamu, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when their unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire during combat operations.They were assigned to 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Vicenza, Italy.

Killed were: Major Thomas G. Bostick Jr., 37, of Texas Staff Sergeant William R. Fritsche, 23, of Indiana.

This was the news I received two years ago. For many, a report like this makes you think, maybe whisper a prayer of thanks for the guys that serve our country. Maybe you might feel sad that they died so far from home. Who knows, maybe you might just shrug and go on with your day and forget their name in the next ten seconds. I know on occassion I have been guilty of each of these reactions. However, this time it was different.

Tommy was a friend of mine.

He came to my high school late in the junior high years and as high school came into being we became friends. We had similar interests...which is to say we loved sports. We played dunkball on the elementary goals, which were eight feet tall. His main passion was basketball. He came from New Mexico..cocky...but very personable. He reminded me of the Fonz when the Fonz was a freshman. He tried football his senior year...and started at wide receiver. After four years, we hit the usual crossroads all eighteen year olds hit. I chose education because I really didn't know what to do.

He chose the military.

As I sifted through life as a college student, he was going through basic training. As, I bitched about algebra and skipped classes because of late parties, he was parachuting into hostile areas of Greneda and Panama. As, I wondered, as Desert Storm became a reality, if I would be drafted, Tommy was involved spearheading many attacks in Iraq.

Tommy was an army ranger. He was an elite member of our armed forces. I was a man just trying to be in the work force. While I sweated out interview after interview, he was steadily moving up the ranks in the military and was a captain before the age of 35.

Now, I would be lying if I said I saw him that much over the nineteen years from graduation to that fateful night in July two years ago. But, in actuality, he was probably the closest friend from high school I had left. We would talk whenever he was in the hill country and sometimes even get together for a little conversation. The army had changed him from the kid he was, to the man he became. The ego was gone and replaced with a quiet cofidence that radiated from him. He was a husband...a dad...a brother....a soldier.

In the weeks following his death, I began to hear about the warrior, Thomas G. Bostick. How he would make jokes in the face of fire to keep his men calm. How the Iraqi people respected him because of his honesty and 'telling them the way it is' type of diplomacy. How one of his best friends in the service was a general in charge of European bases. How, during the last night of his life, he and Staff Sargeant Fritsche stayed behind in Kamu, Afghanistan facing overwhelming odds to protect the entire unit.

Possibly knowing full well they were going to forfeit their lives for the good of their men, Tommy and SSG Fritsche were the only two American casualties of the fight.

In the two years following his death, I find myself thinking more of Tommy than maybe I did when he was alive. I think of him the usual holidays...but I also think of him during Christmas...graduation...when I watch a middle school basketball game. In some of the kids I teach I see him more often.

I wish I could thank him again for fighting over there to keep the bad guys away from here.

Maybe some day I will.

Friday, July 24, 2009

First 5 Friday-Signs of Summer Insanity

As I sit here struggling under the effects of my summer insanity, which is why I haven't posted often, I feel it is my duty to warn others of these effects. If you're a teacher, a kid, or on a long vacation, watch for these things. This is sort of a Public Service Announcement.

First 5 Signs the Summer is Getting to You.

5. Watching Religiously One Cartoon. Three years ago it was Spongebob...two years ago it was Jimmy Neutron...this year it is Phineas and Ferb. I set my timer for it....sad...very sad.

4. Cleaniliness is Next to Impossible. Mowing lawn? Sure once a month, whether it needs it or not. Shave? Sure, whenever I have to go out of the house, which is rarely. Some hate cabin fever, I revel in it.

3. Summer Goals Falling By the Wayside. Flowerbed got done...garage, still a hell hole...yard looks less like a Amazonian Jungle and more like an arid desert range.

2. Talking Back to the TV. No, Flex the Robot, I dont' want to clean my room...I don't give a crap how fun it is!! Come on, Moose E. Moose...itsn't it obvious the Elephant on the right has a hat. How stupid do you think I am, Zee, you mute parakeet? Pretty darn apparantly!!

1. Breaking Out Into Spontaneaous Song. "I just got paid...it's Friday Night!!" Happened less than a minute ago...sorry, Hon. 'There's a Hundred and four days of Summer Vacation.." I wish, but I really like that theme song. I'm also singing a lot of old Garth Brooks songs too...very badly. For some reason summer has become a bit of a musical for me. To my dear Sneaky Momma's greatest chagrin.

Don't worry, Folks, my days of carefree laziness are almost done and my Summer Insanity will fade into Scholarly Dementia in a few more weeks.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Writer's Workshop-Who I Want to Be and a Possible Noggin World Takeover

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. In my case it has given me a little bit of energy or maybe it's insanity during these wonderful "Hot J months." My wife's brain, I always say is like a supercomputer. Always on and always functioning at a high level. My brain power is run by a hamster on treadmill.

I call him Roy.

Anyway, Roy has been on vacation for awhile so the blogging has been hit or miss. Okay, it's been miss. But, with Mama Katt's wonderous carnival, maybe Roy can take off is sunglasses and get his ass on the treadmill and I can pound out something profound, phisophical, or at least pretty good. Here are the prompts.

1.) Tell us about a "dirt cheap" you've taken this summer.
(inspired by Anti-Supermom)

Three words...Mom and Dad's. Free board, free meals, and free child care.

2.) When I grow up I want to be like...
(inspired by Jenny Says What?)

When I was young, a child, I wanted to be like my Dad. I think mainly because he was the only male adult in my life.

When I was in elementary, I wanted to be like Roger Staubach. He was the greatest. He could bring any team back from any deficit. He was cool, he was collected, he was Captain America.

When I was in high school, I wanted to be Christian Slater. He was edgy and cool. He was my age, but making millions. He was a young Jack Nicholson and he was my idol.

When I was in college, I was disillusioned with the older crowd. The war in Iraq part one was in full swing and it looked like another Vietnam might be in the offing. All I wanted was to not to be forced there. I looked up to no one as I already knew it all...or at least all that I deemed that was important.

When I was a young man, the world changed. At 31, America was rocked by a major terrorist attack. I found that I could not deal with the way the celebrities, the politicos, or most of my crowd was dealing with it. Again, I had no one that I looked up too. I was intelligent enough to know I knew squat about what was important. I was going through the emotions...living life because I had nothing better to do.

Now, at the advanced age of too damn close to forty, I realized something. I was right the first time. My Dad is who I want to be when I grow up. He was and is a steady beacon. When things have been shakey, he's been solid. When my siser lost her husband, he became Dad. In his mid sixties he was raising kids again. He lived through WW II and the Cuban Missle crisis. He was there when Whitman was trying to kill folks in Austin in the sixties. He hid in a bush and tried to stay out of the way.

Maybe it has been his experiences that have made him this way. He's a hard worker, a solid friend, and the best dad that I can imagine. If I fill his shoes even half way I would consider my life well lived.

3.) Describe a difficult moment that you survived.
(inspired by Sarah M.)

A story for another time, folks. Any story I can come up with prevokes feelings that I think I'd rather save for a night that I'm not in a good mood. So, forgive me if I let this one go.

4.) List 5 things you like to do while camping...or 5 places you'd like to go.
(inspired by Kisatrtle)

Okay, first fives I gotta participate in. So, without adieu...or with adieu.

Camping things

5. Bundle up. Nights are cold in Texas believe it or not, they're in the 70's which makes it a thirty degree difference.

4. Fish. Preferrably without hooking myself or a friend..which has happened.

3. Drink beer...a lot of beer. Hey, fire, outdoors...that's drinkin' weather my friends.

2. Play cards. Hey, I like any spot to do that, why not on a trip.

1. Revel in nature...with the aforementioned beer of course.

5.) What are you paranoid about?
(inspired by Melissa)

That the producers of kid's shows are part of a conspiracy to enslave the younger generation's mind and take over the world. Mainly, these shows that I feel are mainly invovled are Wiggles and Yo Gabba Gabba.

The Wiggles infiltrate the older generation with a tune of such campy characteristics that we have it in head for days. Because this is filling a part of the finite space in our heads we lose focus. Has the economy slowly deterioriated since the Wiggles have been existence? Yes. Coincidence? I think not.

Yo Gabba Gabba is just creepy. It too has inherent messages too. Sure, you have the robot telling the kids how to brush their teeth, eat snacks, and the fun of picking up. But, it is only a matter of time before it tells kids 'Go to Dad...kick his special region...laugh and point.' Plus if you play it backwards...well, I haven't been able to figure that technology out, admittably, but I bet there's something about marijuana on it.

The addictive mind numbing quality of the shows make them dangerous as possible mind altering audio devices. I believe this takeover will take place around 2020.