Moderators, the Community Hall has been my usual haunt over the years, so please leave this here. I wanted to say goodbye to everyone before I went and explain why I won't be around anymore. I think I owe people that at least in light of the friendship that they have shown me.
This, then, is my final screed, friends and detractors both. Enjoy it.
From time to time in the past, I have become irritated with something that has been said or done around these forums and have deliberately absented myself for awhile to regain my perspective and cool off. But inevitably, due to the fact that there are people here whose friendship I value, I have resurfaced and carried on as a member.
An incident occurred yesterday evening, however, which convinces me that it would be in my best interest to discontinue my participation in this forum and I therefore wanted to say farewell to those of you whose friendship I have enjoyed down through the years.
I came online yesterday evening, and after stopping by the Veterans of Foreign Wars site to pay my dues (oddly enough), I came over here to the forum. I had been engaged in a lively debate with several people about politics in the PWEC, and I thought we were having a pretty good time razzing one another and debating things without anything becoming particularly out of line. Usually men tend to argue hard, especially old military men, and nothing seemed too unusual to me at the time. I played my side of things and thought that everyone ought to be able to handle the discussion just fine. Apparently the PWEC moderators thought so too, they didn't intervene, despite the fact that I know they were around and posting.
But apparently oldgrognard, my friend of longstanding and fellow veteran, felt he had been insulted because I do not particularly like certain religiously oriented candidates fielded by the Republican Party. How my dislike of a particular candidate constitutes an insult toward him, I do not know, but we bantered back and forth much like military men routinely do when socializing in the service until oldgrognard decided that he ought to publicly call me a liar as regards things I've mentioned about my military service in the past. His exact statement was to call me a "poser", meaning that in his opinion I have said things that I made up about my service in the U. S. military.
This was quite astounding if you consider the fact that oldgrognard knows exactly nothing about me. He cast that aspersion based on thin air. I entertained his accusation for a short time by offering to show him proof of anything or everything that I have ever said in the forum about my service. The more forthcoming that I attempted to be, the more he slid out of the way of seeing anything like proof of my veracity. He did not really want to know the truth as far as I can tell, because I offered it to him, allowed him to intrude into my personal privacy far beyond anything I've ever allowed anyone in this forum, and no matter what I offered, he was not happy or willing to accept the evidence, even links to webpages that have mentioned me, nor even an invitation to my home to inspect documents and artifacts relating to my military career. Like bluesman Muddy Waters, oldgrognard can't be satisfied. I don't know why I was foolish enough to even offer him any proof of my veracity. Too much amiability and codeine I guess.
He did catch me out though, or so he claims. I never did see the thread to which he referred, he could not provide a link. But he claims that I once said to Murphy that I was a cook in the Navy. If I ever said that, and I don't remember saying it, it was not true. I was not a cook. I was, and continue to be a smart ass, which may explain why I said I was a cook if I ever really said that. So far, oldgrognard has failed to produce any evidence that I ever said it, but I'm willing to take his word for it I guess, for no particular reason other than I don't feel like arguing with him about that or anything else. It seems to be far more important to him than it is to me.
I also recall that one time many years ago, I told someone that I was a file clerk. That wasn't true either. I'll out myself on that one.
Once I started offering to show him whatever proof he wanted, and to allow unprecedented access to information about me and my life, oldgrognard changed tactics. He then accused me of trying to mislead people as to the nature of my service-connected disabilities. He said I was trying to get people to think that I acquired my disabilities in combat. He said that I had implied that I was a hero. Hmmm. Implied huh? Well, draw whatever conclusions you want from the things I say.
The truth is, I never said one way or another how I was disabled. And disappointingly for all of you I guess, I'm not going to now, either. Why? What does it matter one way or another? It simply is. He cited something I said about being getting up and getting a radio under fire. Yes, I did that. Nasty fire, too. It was being delivered by the M61A1 Vulcan cannons of four U. S. aircraft. Somehow, who was pulling the trigger seems vitally important to oldgrognard.
Oddly, but then I'm a peculiar fellow, it did not matter one whit to me at the time who was pulling the trigger, all I knew was that somebody had better by God go get the damn radio and tell them to stop or very bad things would ensue. So I went and got it, despite the fact that the air was fairly bristling with projectiles at the time. Somebody had to do it. And I really think that I may have mentioned that it was an incident involving the M61A1, or actually several of them, at some point during the discussions around here. I seem to remember squiddk, or somebody from over in that part of the world, commenting that such an event would be quite unpleasant to say the least. And yes, I didn't like it much at the time and I'm not that fond of the memory of it now so it was an accurate observation whoever said it. But the act was not heroism. It was a case of blatant self-preservation and nothing more. I didn't want those 20mm projectiles whizzing past anymore and they weren't going to stop if someone didn't get that radio. Since everyone else was already on the ground, I did it.
He wasn't very happy that the incident occurred while I was on temporary duty with an Air Force special operations unit either. But, alas, that's what I was assigned to at the time. I'm sorry. I'll try not to do that again. It seems to make oldgrognard feel bad. But they made me go with the Air Force. Or maybe I volunteered for that one, I can't remember. But that's the way it was. Next time I'll try to go with a Girl Scout Troop instead.
So I guess that still leaves us wondering how I became disabled in the line of duty. I suffer from a coup-contra-coup Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) with subsequent seizures and severe PTSD. Once upon a time, that was a fairly unusual disability profile. But these days, both VFW and DAV, the two veterans organizations to which I belong as a life member, call this profile the "signature injury of the present war". You can thank IEDs for that. When you get blown up, your brain bounces inside your skull. That's the coup-contra-coup part. It damages both sides of your brain with a single blast, a real two-for-one bargain. And if you live, you usually have seizures and PTSD afterward. According to my new VFW magazine that I received just today, IEDs caused 63% of all hostile deaths amongst American forces in Iraq during our recent involvement there.
How did I obtain that particular disability profile? Now come on. In all the time you've known me, how many true details of my life have I ever shared? Not much. Sometimes I'm even deliberately misleading. I'm a very private person. And does it really matter? The end result is the same whether my disabilities were combat related or non-combat related. So you go ahead and decide how I got all screwed up like this. But I will say this. Nothing that I have said about my military service has been misleading. Not that I've said much. I haven't said hardly anything really. But apparently oldgrognard has been anxiously keeping track and wringing his hands every time I utter a word about having been in the military. And discussing things with 20mm, another of my old friends. Not a fellow veteran, but a friend no less. And wouldn't you think that friends like oldgrognard and 20mm could have just PMed me and asked if they were perplexed about my career and thought that my life was their business for some reason? But I guess it was more convenient to talk about it without my knowledge and without consulting me. Perhaps gossiping is more fun than obtaining facts straight from the source.
Of course I'm only going on what oldgrognard tells me. The fact is, 20mm never said what his side of the story was. He hasn't even been involved in this nonsense. It's just that oldgrognard claims that he and 20mm had a good talk about me, like I'm some concern of theirs or something.
It seems that oldgrognard, to whom I evidently owe some accounting of my life for reasons that I do not understand, also objects to the fact that I participated in an operation in which he was involved. I was part of Operation Paul Bunyan, also known as the Panmunjom Axe Murders. This is deeply distressing to oldgrognard for some reason. Evidently I'm stealing some of his thunder by having the temerity to have been there, and in a Navy uniform no less. He always enjoyed launching "gay" taunts and "Village People" jokes about the Navy at me. I guess we're somehow less worthy than the Army. I guess I also mentioned that the MPs yanked me off a bar stool in another country to go to that goatrope and yes, that's true, though oldgrognard is very upset about that particular fact of my life. I wish it were otherwise now that I know it upsets him, but that's how it happened. I was drinking some really awful beer at the time and they even let me finish the bottle I was working on, though they insisted that I chug it. Next thing I knew, I was on my way to Korea.
It also seems to oldgrognard that I "claim to be a hero" or some sin of that nature. Hmmm. I don't believe that I have ever said that, actually. Nothing even close, unless I've lost my marbles completely. I guess that could be the case, but I doubt it. Other people have said things like that about me certainly, but I don't necessarily agree even when they say things like that. For example, not long ago, I was publicly described as "one of America's military heroes". Don't blame me. I didn't write it.
Another one that reared its ugly head in the recent past was from the director of a non-profit veterans assistance organization who described me to a television network as, "the very definition of a national hero". Cripes! Ease up, will ya? Sorry. Don't kick me in the shins for that one either. I didn't write it, I didn't ask for it, and I don't agree. In fact, that one makes me very uncomfortable. For cryin' out loud, let's not get crazy here!
But I did do my duty. I served with honor. I am a life member of an organization of Disabled American Veterans, and I am a life member of America's largest organization of combat veterans. Oh my God, I said "combat". You know who will be livid about that, don't you? Let's not forget, I'm allegedly a "poser".
I know, I know, not too long ago, I had to fill out the paperwork to request payment of Combat Related Special Compensation. In fact, I mentioned some of the stuff to which oldgrognard objects about me in that paperwork. But you know what? I think maybe it's OK for me to mention things I did in uniform if I want, whether it makes oldgrognard feel so diminished that he starts hurling baseless accusations and calling me a "poser" or not. Heck, the few tiny things I've ever mentioned, I really did. I guess I'm not a hero of the stature of oldgrognard, but does it not seem reasonable that I should be able to mention things I've done without having to render account and justification of myself to oldgrognard? At any rate, for good or ill, I mentioned some of it when I filed my claim for Combat Related Special Compensation awhile back. If I had realized that you could actually lie in that paperwork as oldgrognard seems to think is the case, I'd have told them some real whoppers. Money is money after all.
I realize oldgrognard was there for Operation Paul Bunyan and Panama and D-Day, June 6th, 1944, or whatever and that I'm not half the man that he is and never can be and all that rot, but I just don't see how I should have to answer to him for my life in any way. And that's why I'm leaving and saying goodbye. I don't want to compete with anyone about anything. Apparently, he likes it. I don't. You all can make up your minds about me as you see fit. Those of you who are members of the oldgrognard fan club, please, continue to genuflect and speak with awe about his having earned a Ranger tab and living through all that hell in Panama and so forth. You may regard me as an evil smartass for daring to even mention it, because oldgrognard does not approve of me. I am, let's face it, an unrepentant old swine.
Those of you who wish to consider anything that I have to say for myself, please do so as well and make up your own minds as to what is or isn't true about me. I certainly know the facts, you can decide for yourselves. I've been as truthful and forthcoming as I know how to be with the little that I have ever revealed in these forums. Draw your own conclusions. Perhaps I'm full of sh*t. Or maybe I'm telling the truth. What you decide about me is endlessly unimportant to me. As long as the government keeps my pay coming, you may feel free to tell everyone that I was a military female impersonator who did a wonderful Barbara Streisand act at USO shows and looked terrific in a sequined evening gown, for all I care.
Unlike oldgrognard, I do not particularly care about the details of my military career and don't spend a lot of time living in the past. I have a sense of self-worth beyond the uniform that I once wore. Who I once was is not who I am now, and there is more to my life than my time in the military. I like to think that my biggest accomplishments have been something other than preparing to destroy other human beings and I'm happy to leave that distinction to oldgrognard so he'll have something to talk to Jesus about besides bearing false witness against his neighbor (Isn't that a Commandment?) when he meets him, if Jesus does in fact exist as oldgrognard and other fine Christian folk insist. I myself do not know. But it was OK, my time in the military. I didn't mind serving, I'm glad they paid the benefits they promised, but the details of the whole mess are now water very far under and beyond the bridge.
What DOES matter to me is peace. I just love peace in my life. And so I'm not inclined to hang around a place where people with absolutely no knowledge whatsoever of anything about me call me a liar and a poser based on nothing. I am not a religious man. But oldgrognard claims to be a Christian. Which makes me wonder why he would publicly call me a poser and therefore a liar without one single drop of knowledge as to who I am or what happened in any part of my life, most especially my military career. Puzzling, ain't it? I'll have to look in the Bible and find out why he'd do that. It must be a requirement of his religion or something that I don't understand.
But I just don't feel inclined to hang around a place where someone will accuse me of being untruthful based on nothing. Just pull it out of the air and hurl it out there. Oh wait, I guess I misreported my age at some point according to oldgrognard's monitoring of my posts, that's what got him started. Mea culpa.
If that's the only thing I ever misstate with the brain injury I've suffered, I'll be doing good. Maybe I had a moment of undetected personal vanity and claimed to be younger than I really am, I don't know. But aside from that, he had no reason, no basis in fact to launch that accusation. He has no knowledge of me. None. Zip Nada. I could be a two-headed giraffe for all he knows, posting from an Internet cafe on the African savanna. Oh Christ, I mentioned Africa. That's probably an offense too. I don't think I was supposed to live there all for those years. It may detract from oldgrognard's own experiences.
Anyway, I have decided to bid you all adieu. It's all just too much. I won't be back this time, not even to check this thread. I'll asume your goodbyes. Farewell my friends. I liked it here. It was easy for me to socialize, something I haven't been too good at since being disabled in the line of duty. I guess I won't be socializing so much anymore. I'm just too tired to have to defend myself against baseless accusations, and I should not have to do so. It's all yours, oldgrognard. You're everyone's unquestioned top forum hero now, give 'em hell. Play that well defined role you have, "I'm just an old soldier who did his duty," right to the hilt, and don't forget to mention that you were a Ranger, and a sniper, and a sniper instructor, and all that good stuff as often as possible so everyone can ooh and aah about you and what a great guy you are. Please try to continue my role as resident practitioner of irony and peculiar humor, the folks might miss that. You'll have to pick up the slack there now that I'm leaving.
But with the recent lung collapse and operation, on top of the disabilities from my service, I just don't have the energy to play silly games about who's the bigger man or who's telling the truth or my stuff is bigger than yours or whatever, especially when I don't know that we're playing and just suddenly find myself bushwhacked by a fellow veteran and supposed friend. I quit. You win. I'm a great big sissy and you're a hairy-chested he-man. You were an Army Ranger and I was a Navy female impersonator who could belt out "Evergreen" so well you'd think it was Babs herself, all the while slinking about the stage in a beautiful sequined evening gown, shimmering in the footlights. I really wowed 'em, though I never did anything dangerous and my service to my country wasn't worth squat in any way shape or form other than being so gosh-darned entertaining. Do you feel better and less offended by me now oldgrognard? Whatever it takes to keep you happy I guess. Only I haven't the energy to play anymore. I'm sorry. You keep all the marbles.
Goodbye folks, enjoy yourselves. As for you oldgrognard, if there is a Jesus, he knows the truth of both of us. May he judge between us. That's the funniest part of the whole thing for me if he really exists. You're a professing Christian. Explain to your Lord why you baselessly attacked me without knowing anything about me when anything I said was in fact true. And I hope that everyone else will one day know the truth about the matter so they can see both of us in an accurate light. I'm just too old and too damned tired to be mad for long or to play silly games anymore.
Fair winds and following seas, my friends.