Monthly Archives: May 2021

The Ones Who Didn’t Return

I have been doing more reading these last few years, and a book recommended by a fellow Lexican is almost finished. Chickenhawk, by Robert Mason, tells of the author’s journey from Army Helicopter training at Ft Wolters, TX to some of the biggest battles, such as Ia Drang, of the Vietnam War. All from the prospective of an Army UH-1 “Huey” pilot. His story begins with the start of the massive build up, in 1965.

He wrote about everything from the difficulty in training at Wolters, to the stupid stuff like not having any flak jackets – causing the deaths of friends – for months while a neighboring unit 100 miles away had more than they knew what to do with.

And no, the book title is not about what you may think it is.

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Another Loop of America

“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world, you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you.” — Anthony Bourdain

I have always loved to roam. Might be in my genes, as I had a grandmother who, in her 60s, took it upon herself to roam the world on her own.

The last “Loop Around America” I did was 15 years ago. Then, I could on the spur of the moment, decide that I wanted to see New Orleans post-Katrina and drive 800 miles from Oak Ridge, TN. I covered 7,500 miles in 14 days, and that included stopping in MN to see my niece get married, and visiting my cousin in Virginia.

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Rhythms

Now that it has been over 9 years since Lex was taken from us I have felt ready to read his multipart posting of “Rhythms”, a story of life on a carrier.

It is a very well written description of that life, and holds your attention. I could not put it down until I finished it. I wish that he had published it. You learn quite a bit about life aboard a carrier and the various ratings and their tasks. We are fortunate to have such people protecting this nation

I have come to firmly believe that parts of Rhythms are autobiographical. Lex never names the carrier in Rhythms, but he gives a strong hint at the end when he describes the carrier’s pennant. It is the Gadsden “don’t tread on me” snake against a background of red and white horizontal stripes. That pennant is the oldest of the US Navy and is allowed to be flown only on designated ships — those that have the longest record of duty. A limited number of carriers flew it, and one is the Kitty Hawk, a carrier that Lex had written posts about (using a nastier name, since the carrier was so old).

Lex also had been an XO and flown in the Iraq war. He had been a Top Gun instructor. There is a character that he describes (posting in Oct 2005) leading a two-ship that takes out a time-critical target with a JDAM. The target was identified by someone going by the code name “Assassin” who was in close proximity to the target. Later on he quotes a “Sgt B” letter of thanks to another two-ship that rescued his marine group from a serious ambush (that he had listened in on). The XO is Lex, body and soul.

I hope that those who log in are able to read Rhythms. It is well worth your time.

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