Monday, September 13, 2004


I just found this amazing book, Chickenhawk, by Robert Mason, in a used book store around the corner from the office. The book is about the helicopter war in Vietnam.

I've always been interested in flying but never had the chance. The closest I get is playing Combat Flight Simulator 3, a WWII flight sim, on my PC.

He takes you through flight training on various helicopters until they get to use the then state of the art Hueys.I always knew that flying a helicopter was difficult, more so than a plane, but I still had the idea that it was flown with a single joy stick.

Boy was I wrong. You have to use TWO joysticks, one for the left hand and one for the right, and they both are very complicated and sensetive so it takes an ambidextrous person to be able to pull off the complex procedures to manouver a fully loaded Huey in a battle situation.

I'm just at the part of the story where his 1st Air Cavalry Division has landed in Viet Nam. I don't think the rest of the story is going to be very pretty, but it will be intense. Here's his website:

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Lest we Forget

For JFK, I was a 19 year old soldier lying on my bunk in Curry Barracks, in Calgary, Aberta. It was a day off and I was reading a Spiderman comic book. One of the guys stuck his head in and said "the President's been shot", me and my roomies barely looked up and said something like, "Yeah Right". Then we heard him going down the hall from room to room saying the same thing.The 3 of us jumped up and rushed to the TV room to see that it was true.

Cronkite was on and didn't know yet that Kennedy was already dead. The government was keeping that secret until power could be passed to LBJ. We all believed from the way it was being leaked to the media that he'd be okay. To a man it was inconcieivable that he would die.

We new the truth the next day. As we were walking to the mess hall for breakfast, I stupidly did one of my JFK impressions and was threatened with having my lights punched out by my buddies. I apologized. We were all in shock.Later that day I went downtown in Calgary and almost every store had a picture of the President draped in black crape on display. People would stop and stare in disbelief and grief. Many ordinary Canadian citizens were crying silently.

All of that come rushing back on the morning of September 11th, 2001. Again I had the day off and was watching Canada AM a morning news and quasi-public affairs show when they broke away to New York. They were getting feed from a local New York station, and the announcer was saying that a small plane had accidently crashed into the World Trade Centre. Pictures of the smoking tower in that clear blue sky were on the screen. Then the second plane hit and I knew what was happening.

When the first tower collapsed my mind started to boggle. I couldn't properly process what I was seeing, my mind kept wanting to put it in Hollywood references that I could understand. But as I watched the 2nd tower go down I knew that Hollywood effects of the day couldn't pull off what I was witnessing LIVE on TV. I was overcome with grief and outrage. I couldn't keep my eyes of the screen as I witnessed the mass murder of thousands. Massive death and destruction. That were at war was clear to me then and is to this day.

The events of September 11, 2001 have been so politicized that we are in danger of forgetting the tragedy of those who lost their lives that day, many of whom, firefighters and policemen, gave them willingly as soldiers in Iraq are doing today.

Please take the the time to remember the families and friends who lost loved ones on that fateful day. 24 of those lost on that day were Canadians, a fact our government has shamefully played down.

"Can we pause to rember that it is most fundamentally one of the extreme acts of wickedness of our time?"David Frum: Writing in today's National Post.