Middle School Kids

I had something else lined up for this week’s post, but I really need to get this off my chest. As we all know, the world we live in is a crazy place. And judging by some of the youth aged kids I see out in my part of the world, it doesn’t always look like it’s going to get any better.

On my way from picking up kids at the middle school, I see a kid walking down the street in the lane I was driving in. He wasn’t crossing the street; he was purposely walking down the road with his back to traffic behind him. After he finally moved, I honked my horn as I passed him. Then he yelled, “Don’t fucking honk your horn at me!” Are you kidding me? This is a middle school student, maybe 7th or 8th grade. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Was he really that bold to walk down the road in traffic, then yell at me not to honk at him? I decided to pull over and figured I’d talk to him about it and see if his tone changed.

As I approached him, I was amused by the fear in his eyes. Good. Maybe he’ll think twice about being an ass next time. I asked him his name. Instead he countered with, “I was just trying to cross the street.” I said, no, and asked his name again. He hesitated. I then told him he could tell me his name or I could get officer Rojas involved (resource officer at the middle school, and wonderful deputy to have in that position). He then said, “Logan.” I asked his last name, he said, “Michaels.” So, if any of you know Logan Michaels’ parents, send this week’s post to them.

Parenting is hard. Not really, but it is time consuming, tiring, worrisome, scary, expensive, and also rewarding. And I know my kids are far from perfect and I know I have never been the perfect dad. But I do know this: My children, when out in the world, know how to act like civilized human beings. They know respect. They know right from wrong. What happened to society from when I was a kid to now? I got in my share of trouble and did more stupid things than I can remember, but when called out by an adult, I was respectful.

I grew up in a different time. I was probably in the 4th grade while spending the night at a friend’s house. He and I got in trouble, I don’t remember what it was, but it was enough for his dad to spank both of us. Not bad, just a couple swats on the butt and then on with the evening. I didn’t dare tell my dad, because I knew I did wrong and didn’t want another spanking when I got home. How is that adults cannot correct other people’s children now? How is that some of the children people are raising are such bad human beings?

I see kids leaving the middle school every day on my way to pick up mine. So many of them don’t even stop at the crosswalk, just keep on moving because it seems to be their right. And, yes, Florida does have a law giving pedestrians the right of way in crosswalks. I think a close look at it would indicate that they have to be in the crosswalk first. Stop walking out in front of cars that are already moving! I watch one imbecile kid walk crossways from one corner to the opposite one, avoiding all crosswalks, going straight out into traffic. Granted, that kid will likely cleanse himself from the gene pool at some point, but at what cost? Will he take someone with him? Or will he cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars to feed and house in prison somewhere?

This is not a school issue, it’s a parenting issue. I expect the school system to teach. They can expect me to parent. It’s a partnership that I am happy to be in. Maybe the school could put more effort to instill certain basic courtesies to the kids, since they are also a reflection of the school itself. But it’s not their job, it’s ours. The school system is NOT responsible for raising our children. There are kids being raised that are turning out like ass holes. And one day the parents are going to ask how that happened. It starts with right now. Do your damn job.

Not long ago I saw a post on Facebook where a friend of mine posted that she was at Wendy’s down the road from the middle school, after school was out. A group of the students had gone there after school. My friend wrote that she was appalled by the behavior of those students. They were rowdy, unruly, disrespectful, and didn’t care. And there’s no doubt what school they were from because of the uniform policy. It’s not just Logan Michaels that needs a swift kick in the pants, it’s quite a few of them. And society will give it to them one day since the parents obviously won’t.

I have chaperoned a few events at the middle school and I can say that by far, most of the children there are decent, good kids. It’s the handful of twerps that give all the rest of them a bad name. Just like all groups of people, there are a few rotten apples that mold the perception of the whole group. My children have been very active in sports and clubs. I can say most of the parents I know from these activities are wonderful people. The teachers, staff, and faculty that I have dealt with over the last decade at that school are top notch, the best. With the exception of the boys’ soccer coach, they are all a class act and care about doing a good job for the students.

Dear parents, stop raising ass holes and start raising respectful children. It’s not the school’s job, it’s yours. Good day, God bless.


2015 Suicide statistics. Why is the government failing?

Good article.

Amanda Strah Gilliam


Military suicide and ptsd related deaths in the past few years has risen to all time highs. As budget cuts amongst each branch of the military and zero tolerance policy for even the slightest mistake, service members now more than ever need help. The VA is taking advantage of this horrifying statistic. Most service members who are getting dismissed from the military with bad paperwork (a less than honorable discharge) are getting denied basic VA benefits they are entitled to. According to the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, Congress deemed that other-than-honorable discharges can only bar a veteran from basic VA services if the individual’s misconduct led to a dishonorable discharge in a court-martial due to serious crimes. Misconduct that the military would have reprimanded, but not deemed necessary, to give a veteran the boot are now experiencing this deplorable fate.

In 2013, according to a press release by Bradford…

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Reflections of 2013, A Great Year

As I reflect on 2013, a lot of things come to mind. This year has been fun, exciting, unique, challenging, and seems to have gone by faster than past years. Time is speeding up. Even with each day lately seeming like it lasts forever, this year is gone, to me, in a flash. So much has happened this year it’s hard to believe it all fit inside of twelve months. There were a few ‘firsts’ in 2013. Maybe a couple of ‘lasts’ as well. We’ll see. But in any event, this was one hell of a year. I would count it as one of my better years and there isn’t much at all I’d change.

In 2013 I started my blog. It’s not that great, but a few of the stories were pretty cool and got some great feedback. I didn’t keep up with it as much as I had planned when I started it, but it’s still there, like now, getting an update once in a while. Perhaps in 2014 I’ll update it more often.

I got my first tattoo in 2013. It wasn’t planned and I’m sure it’s my last. I like it, but since I can check that off my list of crazy things I’ve done, there’s no need to get another one. Maybe. We’ll see. It happened on a date night with my wife that started out at T.G.I. Friday’s. From there, we were going to shoot some pool, but that place was closed. We walked to another bar that wasn’t my wife’s style, so left there and ended up in a tattoo parlor. I’m still not sure how it all happened.

All of my kids did some spectacular things in 2013. I will highlight two things, one by each of my ‘big kids.’ My oldest son was accepted to Collegiate High School, so instead of going to traditional high school his junior and senior years, he will go to the local college and graduate with a high school diploma and an Associate’s Degree at the same time. That’s pretty amazing to me. My oldest daughter graduated from high school. What makes this so incredible is that she did it in between her freshman and sophomore years at college. She skipped her senior year at high school, went off to college, did what she needed to do, came back and walked with her class. Awesome.

I spent a lot of time traveling in 2013. Mostly back and forth from Ft Walton Beach to Orlando, two trips to Texas, then off to Afghanistan where I’ve been traveling all over for the last four and a half months. I could write for days about all the places I’ve been, the things I’ve seen, and people I’ve met since getting to Afghanistan. I’ve got stories of helicopter flights, riding on a British C-130, IDF’s at Bagram, rocket attacks at Kandahar, buildings shaking harder as each ‘boom’ gets closer. I’ve got stories of seeing people in Afghanistan that I’ve served with before that I just happen to run into here, stories of friendships and bonds with people who mean the world to me, but would have never met otherwise if not being here.

I ran my first marathon in 2013, the Marine Corps Marathon. I wrote some new poetry. I read more books than I normally would. I quit smoking cigarettes. I got promoted. I added two new countries to the list of places I’ve been to. I had lunch at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, which was pretty cool. There are so many things that make 2013 one of the best years ever: adventures, excitement, new friendships, new places, and once in a life time opportunities.

But my best reflections of 2013 are of my family. While I’m off being a tourist at war, my wife is home taking care of the house, the kids, the bills, the dog, the lawn, the things that break, the things that need to be replaced, and everything else. Without her love and support I would never to be able to do the things I do and have the experiences I have. Like those of us serving in Afghanistan, my wife doesn’t get a day off back home. I have always said, and will say again, she has the harder job when I’m deployed- I get to shoot if necessary. For all my adventures and experiences, as fun as they are, I can’t wait to get back home to Diana the kids. My thoughts are with them and my heart is with them. And before long, I’ll be back with them.

To everyone that was part of my life in 2013, thank you. Especially to my wife and kids, you have made me what I am and who I am. Looking forward to wonderful 2014. Happy New Year to you all!!!

Good day and God bless.


Happy Anniversary

It was 21 years ago when Diana walked down the aisle toward me. It was an outside wedding at Eden Garden’s State Park, a little warm, and it had threatened rain. There was a brief shower, but it held off for the ceremony. I looked like a dork in tails, and we still debate whose idea it was for me to wear that style of tuxedo. But she looked stunning, absolutely beautiful. And she’s done nothing but become more beautiful to me over the years. I found out later that as her dad walked her down the aisle that he told her it wasn’t too late to change her mind. I’m glad she didn’t, and I don’t blame her dad one bit. I’ve told this before and the usual response would be, “Wow, you and your father-in-law didn’t get along.” But we did. He was a very wise man, someone I looked up to. And even though he’s gone, I would still like to be like the man he was. I have daughters and I’m sure I’ll be telling them the same thing going down the aisle one day.

I look back over the last 21 years and see how much I’ve learned, how much we’ve grown, and I am so amazed at so many things. First, I’m amazed that she’s put up with me for this long. I don’t even want to live with myself sometimes and she does it on purpose! I’m amazed at our six beautiful, talented, smart children. Without them it would just me and her. How much fun would that be? Well, ok, it would be fun, but the kids certainly make it better. And I’m amazed that she still thinks I’m funny even though I’ve been telling the same jokes for over 20 years. She loves me enough to laugh at them anyway. Or maybe she’s just laughing at me. Either way, I like to think I still make her smile.

One thing I’ve learned is that marriage is not 50/50. Each person has to give 100%. And while there have been times over the years that one or both us didn’t give the full 100%, we complemented each other well enough to make up the difference until we got back on track. The overall work load of being married might not balance out all the time, but what ever your job is in the marriage, give 100% to it. That’s what we try to do. And we’ve done a good job making sure we work to our strengths.

For example, she likes working in the yard. I’d rather work in the kitchen. As a matter of fact, when we got married I’m not sure she knew what a kitchen was. She would call me at work when she couldn’t get the smoke detector to turn off when she attempted to cook canned biscuits. She’s come a long way since then. Also, she knows how to do minor plumbing, while I’m not allowed to play with power tools anymore after that one incident. And I’m not allowed to work on the cars. I haven’t been banned from doing electrical work yet, but I’m sure that’s just a matter of time. And I’m pretty sure I’m not allowed to install a washing machine after I flooded part of the house. And then again after I thought I fixed it. Oops. We each have our strengths and have done very well in letting each other use them.

We have gone through more trials than any couple should have to. But we’ve been blessed far beyond what we deserve. We’ve been at rock bottom and on top of the world a number of times over the years. I submit that the good times far outweigh the bad times. We aren’t perfect and don’t have a perfect marriage, but we’re perfect for each other.

Diana, I love you. You mean the world to me. It’s because of you that I do what I do. It’s because of you that I’m the man I am. You’ve told me before that one quality that you love about me is how hard I work to support the family. I do that because I love you. And one quality I love about you is that you keep our family together, moving in the right direction. Together, we are one and get it done. I love you.

Good day and God bless.


War Stories From My Grandpa

As a young man, my Grandpa Richard joined the Navy and served in World War II. Later, he joined the Air Force and served in both Korea and Viet Nam. He is one of the few men I had ever met in person that pulled the trifecta of service in all three of those wars.

I was four years old when the Viet Nam War ended. The country seemed to be in a state of turmoil for a while after that. And while I’m sure I didn’t stop what I was doing everyday to watch the 6 o’ clock news it was impossible for anyone, even a child, not to hear what was going on in the world or be in earshot of opinions about such an explosive, hot-blooded topic.

At some point, probably when I was about six years old, maybe seven, I had too many questions in my little head from all the debates and discussion still going on about what happened in Viet Nam and I asked my grandpa why we lost the war. That was not pretty. He was upset that I asked and chastised me right there in public. He told me never to ask him that again. I went a long time wondering about his military service, what he had done, where he had been, and what kind of stories he had. But for the longest time, I just never asked.

When I was in my late teens making a trip from Louisiana to Florida, I stopped at my grandparent’s house to spend the night on the way. Grandpa and I were up watching late night reruns of Baa Baa Black Sheep, a TV show based on a USMC aviator fighter squadron from WWII. During our discussion of the show I decided to ask about his time in the military. He told me some stories. He shared some things with me. I asked questions about each of the wars he served in and he answered them. It was one of the few bonding moments I can remember having with him.

Somewhere in a box or drawer I still have a shell casing from the 21 gun salute that was done at his funeral by an honor guard from Keesler Air Force Base. I remember the ceremony. I remember the flag being folded. I remember my grandma crying. I don’t have a clear memory of the stories he shared with me that night twenty something years ago, but I will never forget how it felt that he shared with me his experiences of war. Perhaps it meant so much to me because for so many years I thought the subject was taboo. Maybe it was because when he shared with me, I felt he looked at me as a man instead of child. For whatever the reason, it was a special moment for me that I still cherish today.

Going to war when he did is very different from going to war today. And it even changed significantly from his service in WWII to his time in Viet Nam. I don’t have great war stories from my time in Iraq, and I’m alright with that. And I hope my next deployment is just as uneventful. But here’s one thing that I see as the same from both his generation and mine concerning going to war: Coming home from war is the hard part.

Veterans from my grandfather’s era are fading fast. If you know one or have the honor of meeting one, thank them. And if they’ll share their stories, take the time to listen. They are in fact dubbed The Greatest Generation for a reason.

Good day and God bless.