Monday, May 30, 2011

Recovery time update

The bruising is almost gone now and a recent Xray shows a finger of bone growing past the split in the collarbone to bridge the two pieces and hold everything together.  The main pain I still have is in my neck (all the time)  and in my shoulder when I stand or walk for any amount of time.  Today I went to the range for the first time in over a month.  Only .22s and some German army training ammo and only for about 1.5 hrs.  I wore a shooting jacket with recoil pad and only fired about 50 rounds of .22s and 20 rounds of the no recoil training stuff.  I quit when the injured area started to hurt from the rifle butt being pressed against it.  This week I start PT which is scheduled for 6 weeks but I'm guessing I will cut that short once I learn what they are having me do.  I can do the same thing at home for free.   So far by 5:30 p.m. I have only taken 2 Tylenols which is half of what I had been consuming just a couple days earlier.  Progress!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Eternal Valley Memorial Day weekend 2011

Young son and I went to Eternal Valley on Saturday for the annual placing of flags on the graves of veterans interred there for Memorial day.  The Grouch family has been involved in this event for many years as each of the four Grouch kids participated in the various levels of scouting.  This will be our last year I imagine because young son times out on scouts when he hits 18 in October.  I usually go in uniform to show my respect to the veterans buried in the cemetery.  This year one of the other fathers was there in his ACUs.  Another LTC, he was in Iraq with the same unit as older son in 2007 and we did lots of nostalgia talk about the Army.  He didn't look as worn out as me, maybe because he was about 7 years younger than me. Just wait!

In the grand tradition of this event we arrived at the designated time and then waited another 40 minutes for the folks in charge to get organized and get the program under way.  The boys placed a flag at each veteran's grave marker, stepped back and saluted and then on to the next grave.  The turn out over all was a bit smaller this year than in years past so the scouts who were there stayed on to continue the job until every veteran's grave was marked.  The picture shows just one section of the very large cemetery.  The boys did a great job.

Click on the photos for a larger view

Saluting at a Vet's grave after placing the flag

The Grouch and young son

A 22 year old helicopter pilot who died of his wounds in Vietnam.  See below for his story

WO1 Patrick D. Erb

06 Jul 49   15 Mar 71

Sylmar CA
This was WO1 Erb's first aircraft commander mission. On 25 Feb 71 they were resupplying troops on or near a pinnacle LZ (LZ Scotch), which is near the Rockpile. LZ Scotch was obscured by smoke from Laos, had marginal visibility, dead trees around the approach, and a departure route that limited maneuvering. A major firefight was being fought at the base of the pinnacle, and the Dolphin aircraft was advised to expedite departure. Richard Bricker was the crewchief riding on the left side, right behind Doug Erb, who was on the controls. The aircraft took fire on climb out, caught fire, exploded, and fell to the ground among the trees. Bricker recalls they had just lifted off the LZ (Scotch) when Bricker saw a bright flash through the trees, and moments later felt the impact at the access doors (at the base of the tailboom). The explosion/impact knocked the aircraft sideways to the right, causing the aircraft to impact with the trees, which in turn caused the disintegration of the aircraft as it fell 10 feet to the ground. The aircraft was engulfed in flames before it hit the trees or the ground. The crew chief, SP4 Bricker, and the gunner, SP4 Mike Walsh, were blown out of the burning aircraft during the crash and survived. Walsh heard someone cry out and found Burch. He carried Burch to a log, that they hid behind, until rescued by the Infantry. Simultaneously, Bricker, who was badly burned, cried out for Walsh to get him, but Walsh could not because of the intensity of the enemy fire. The Infantry came down the hill and assisted in the recovery of the crew to the mountain top, where they were flown out. During the crash, the pilots rode the aircraft in and were unable to get out the burning aircraft from the front. To get out, they both had to run through the intense fire in the cargo compartment and were severely burned. All crewmembers were able to walk away from the aircraft under their own power and were taken to the hospital at Quang Tri by a following 174th Dolphin aircraft. Both pilots had burned their lungs running through the fire and succumbed to pneumonia weeks later in Japan, which was commonplace. The severity of the burns was the reason they remained in Japan and were not shipped back to the states for recovery. Erb was in the bed next to Walsh when he (Erb) died. Walsh and Bricker were sent to the Burn Center at Brooke Army Hospital, Ft. Sam Houston, TX. Walsh was the least injured of the four, but was medically retired from active duty. Bricker, who also walked under his own power to an aircraft that lifted him out of the LZ, is alive and well in Piggott, Arkansas and has six children. He has had over 300 skin grafts and is loving life via his children (who found this website).

Source: Fred Thompson Sep 89; Bill Early Jul 91; COL Bob Berk, Pentagon, June 1992 who was an attending nurse in the burn ward in which that they were treated; Fred Thompson and Mike Walsh phone conversation-May 1993; Mike Walsh VHPA reunion Jul 1993, Phoenix; Fred Thompson and Richard Bricker phone conversation, Mar 99.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Not much to say....

Except it is Friday!  No work today and the first of a four day weekend.  Yay!   The Stratus got its first fill up for MPG purposes yesterday.  26.4mpg for 60% highway and 40% around town driving.  Not bad compared to the 16.4 that the whale has been turning in.  Speaking of the whale it didn't want to start at the train station yesterday to take me back home.  A quick tap on the fuel relay and it started.  While I had the hood open a nice lady drove up and asked if I needed a jump start.  I didn't know if she meant me or the car but I declined.

More to follow on Memorial day activities this weekend.  This will be probably the last time that I place flags on the graves of veterans at the local cemetery.  I've been doing it for years with all four children when their scout units participate in the program.  Young son is in his last year of scouts and I guess that will be the end for me too.  I usually put on my uniform to do so as a (now old) soldier to show respect to those who've gone before.  Since 2001 young service members have been there in uniform with their sons or daughters or brothers or sisters.  Seeing these warriors with their combat patches is something to see for me. As it was said during the civil war, they have seen the elephant and will never be the same again.  Older son has seen the elephant.   Who would have thought that we'd still be at war 10 years after 9-11?  I hope that peace will come someday and men and women will not have to offer their lives to protect ours.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Portmeirion aka "the Village"

Just about every day the Missus gives me a page from her '1,000 places to see before you die' calendar for my reading pleasure.  Some of the places I've heard of and some I haven't but today's page was very familiar.  It was for Portmeirion, North Wales, GB. 

What, you haven't heard of Portmeirion?  Have you heard of the 'village'?   Do you know Number 2?  How about Number 6?   "I am not a number, I am a free man!"   Do you know what happens when Rover comes?  Nothing good I can assure you!   Portmeirion is the location for the village which is where Number 6 got sent when he thought he resigned from the intelligence service.  But instead of resigning and going on the tropical holiday he planned, he became the Prisoner.

I think I will add Portmeirion to my places to visit. I hope they will let me leave when I'm done.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New car, new shoes

Today is day two for ownership of the used Dodge Stratus that is my get around town car at work.  It looks nice, the interior is clean and at the present time everything works on it.  I feel like a prosperous person now as I drive in it, unlike the feeling of seediness that accompanied me when as I tooled around in the Lincoln with the ripped seats, peeling paint, and horribly stained carpeting.  

After I damaged my shoulder (and my neck, and my back) in the bike crash the Missus bought me a nice pair of dress loafers for work so I could put them on without straining to tie them.  They are the first pair of loafers I've owned and besides feeling like I'm wearing slippers all day I feel grown up and prosperous wearing them. 

When I get in the Stratus wearing the loafers I feel positively plutocratic!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Why one should always look presentable in public and other tidbits

So, a couple weeks ago I went to LAX to pick up the missus who was returning from Boston.  She took her 5th grade class there for a week of touring historic sights in the Boston area.  The missus is braver than I to travel with a herd of 5th graders plus their parents.  She doesn't get paid enough for this but she is a better person than I and a saint besides.  Anyway it was soon after my dramatic accident and I wasn't feeling too great.  I went to the airport dressed somewhat eclectic:  ASU shorts; red Hawaiian shirt, hiking boots, and black hooded sweatshirt.  My hair was somewhat unkempt and I pretty much looked like a homeless guy.  I wondered why the missus wasn't enthusiastic in her greeting of me when she arrived. I realized I was a bit disheveled and not looking my most dashing.   Fast forward to drill yesterday.  An E6 came up to me and said that he had been sitting next to me at the airport that night.  You had on a red Hawaiian shirt he exclaimed.  I smiled weakly and changed the subject.  You never know who you'll see when one is out and about.

Coming home from drill as I was passing by the Burbank airport I spied a B17G on approach to the runway, wheels and flaps down, just kind of hanging in the air.  I was so surprised to see it I drifted out of my lane and suddenly realized what was happening and jumped back to where I belonged.  65 years after the end of the war and there are still planes from that conflict in the air.  Simply amazing.

For the past year I've been using a borrowed '95 Lincoln Towncar as my get-around-town car to keep at my job site.  It has over 170k miles and I've put about a grand into it to fix it up and keep it running.  I appreciate the use of the car but it has had a hard life.  There are holes in the seats, hideous stains on the carpet and the paint is peeling from the body.  My boss seems reluctant to ride in it when I've had to give him a lift.  My co-workers call it the beast or the whale.  I decided I should get something a bit more presentable and found an 05 Dodge Stratus with 41k miles last weekend at the local car swap lot.  I paid the guy on Saturday and when he deposits the check on Monday I'll be able to pick it up and take it to work.  The whale will go back to the original owner.  I figure with what I put into it to keep it running I've rented it for about $5 a day (business days) which isn't too bad.  Now at least my boss won't cringe when he gets a ride in my car.

This afternoon the city had a car show and lunch truck exhibition at the auto row in town (where all the car dealers are).  Here are some pictures from the event (click for a larger view).  You may not be aware but in L.A. lunch trucks are not roach coaches, they are haute cuisine and ethnic eateries on wheels.  We sampled the German bratwurst truck but more on that soon.

The missus liked the looks on this street rod

Young son busts a move next to a cool car

The German lunch truck had luscious bratwurst and other German delicacies served up by a young woman with a delightful German accent. I could have spent an hour ordering food just to hear her talk. Made me nostalgic for my time in Germany many years ago. We also patronized the Potato Tornado tuck there they spiral cut a potato, speared it on a long skewer and deep fried it. Yum!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Recovery time

So I would have to say I hurt more now than I did the day after the bike accident maybe because I am trying to use my arm too much.  My bruise has turned some interesting shades of purple and yellow - please ignore the dopey expression on my face.  I was happy to be able to get my shirt off without crying.  Older son helped pull it off for me.  This situation makes it important to me to be able to do things without asking for help even if it hurts doing it.  I guess it confirms to me that I am not helpless and still have the ability to fend for myself although I am asking for help where I have to.

I called the Sheriff's office the other day to see what report they had on the incident.  Someone called in a bicycle collision with a pole.  That was me.  I guess as I was maneuvering to avoid the trash can and bus bench on the sidewalk I didn't notice the bus stop sign post and hit it.  That in turn dumped me onto the bus bench and some of the resulting damage is shown.  I sent a letter to the editor of the local paper thanking those who helped me out when I had the crash.  Since I don't remember who they were I thought that the newspaper was the best way to do it.  The letter was published today.  I hope the good people who helped me get to see it.

Time for more Tylenol.