Garbage from old "garbage mouth"
You've been pretty patient with me ... so I'm gonna drop another load of crap on you. You may remember sometime in mid-January, Kim, sent us a very brilliant paper about, Private Ryan, ... well, I thought he was the author (he wasn't) and I felt I had something to add of a similar nature - and so I threw together the following as the first part of some of my bullshit . . . but something I believe was a remarkable meeting of three of WW2's TRUE "Living Treasures". Three old men in their high-seventies and eighties who DESERVE to be remembered (although Winters truly has been at this late stage of his life)!
Anyway, Kim told me he hadn't written the piece ... I wanted this to be recorded somewhere, regardless of my inadequacies. So I'm sending it to you. It'll just be thrown out with the pile of papers here in my grotto ... and I think they deserve something better.
Hope you don't mind me "whipping this shit on you", Robbie.
"ASA ALL THE WAY!!
PS: If you go to the "Seniors Site" (Where you read about old "Baa") at: http://seniors-site.com/poetry/poetry.html (scroll down to "Schollenberger"), I've written one called "Friends and Enemies" which is true story of my life. (For what it's worth).
If you're the author of that fantastic "Private Ryan" thing, I'm dumb-founded and so appreciative of your comments. I actually didn't get to read it till today cause I often put your myriad jokes in the "read later file" and didn't get back to that one till today. Wow!
And it's close to home. (Wish I could write as eloquently as you, because what I'm about to tell you should be brought to our entire nation's attention) Please forgive if I run on and on. (I always do).
About two months ago, here in Pine Grove (a small community of 2500) there was a truly memorable, unplanned informal get-together of three TRULY great heroes: Richard Wheeler, Richard Winters and Robert Carl ... Wheeler is a close friend of mine, who was in the Marine Platoon which raised the first small flag on Iwo Jima - four hours before the raising of the larger flag -photographed by UPI's Joe Rosenthal. He didn't make it 'cause he was evacuated on the third day with multiple head and leg wounds from two mortars (he was in the hospital for two years) Of his 46 man platoon, only nine survived to the 5th day for the final assault - only one was of the original was also in the photograph of the second raising - and two were later killed in the battle. His platoon actually had almost 200% casualties (due to eplacements during the 45 day battle) . [Since I'm writing this off the top of my head, I won't recall many names accurately - but one of the "raisers" was an Indian who was Dick's closest friend - never adjusted to the bond drive publicity - and never thought of himself as a hero (the heroes were all dead, he said) and he died in a drunken stupor in a mud hole on his reservation - as I recall the incident. By the way, there's an IWO Jima site, run by the son of the last surviving "raiser" (Bradley).
He always heard of Dick Wheeler's contributions from his dad, so the site's only recommended reading are Dick's two books "The Bloody Battle for Surabachi' (a product of 15 years of research to commemorate his unsung platoon members of the first "raising".) And "IWO". "Suribachi" was a commitment to the memory and the bravery of every member of his company who he could remember. His own preferred title for the book was "Heroes Without Glory", which was changed at the insistence of the publisher.
In 1985 on the 30th anniversary of the battle, he published "IWO". a broader account of the the entire battle which included the enemy's perspective (for which he received letters of gratitude from Japanese widows and relatives). Both his books are still available from the Annapolis Naval press (correct title??) in its paper-back "Blue Jacket" series.
He persevered for 15 years and his manuscript was rejected by sixteen publishers before it was accepted. During this time, he built two small homes in the forest (one for his mother) - and survived by writing small, pithy poems and witticisms (ala, "Psychoanalysis is a "check-up from the "neck-up") for Saturday Evening Post, the New Yorker, Reader's Digest and the Grit paper. He literally lived a "Nature Boy" (a "pre-Vietnam term for a "hippy") existence in the forest.
He's now 78, and after 16 books (Mostly Civil War accounts (including the perennial "Witness to Gettysburg) he is frail, modest and still almost reclusive. He never speaks publicly and has never appeared for autograph sessions. He tried to quit writing several years ago, but failed (and tried unsuccessfully to have a book of poems published) so he continues. . . and hopes to live until May, 2000, to see his current book published (an account of Pickett's Charge). If he survives past that, I hope I've convinced him that he has earned the right to write a last unresearched book of his OWN opinions of Civil War accounts, based on the merits of his years of diverse, meticulous research.
There is so much I could write about this unknown, unusual, humble "Living Treasure". One example . . . for years he spent his winters in West Palm Beach.
A black workman serviced a problem at his next-door neighbor's and learned that Dick lived next door. He visited the house, and Dick invited him in. He told Dick that his Suribachi book was recommended reading during his own Marine Boot Camp cycle. After a while he commented to Dick that he seemed unrealistically modest. Dick replied, "That's 'cause I have so much to be modest about!"
Recently I saw a C-Span interview of a Penn State female history professor who is promoting her new book of the Pickett's Charge. (Oddly, the same subject of Dick's pending book release). During the conversation, she commented to Brian Lamb that it is unfortunate that historians can't write with their own experience of the inhuman horror of the battlefield. That did it . . . The next day I called the college and luckily I was able to speak with her. More unusual is the fact that she is an ex-marine herself, and is a member of a Marine (title??) council which meets quarterly at Quantico (or nearby). I explained to her that Dick had, indeed, known the horror of the the bloodiest battle in the Pacific - almost as bad as Gettysburg or "The Sunken Road" at Fredericksburg. I appealed to her to use her influence to have some form of long overdue Marine recognition of Dick's outstanding contribution to the glory of the "Corps". She said she would, and she did mention him (all members immediately remembered his name, though he's now ancient history.) I've called her after six months, and she has nothing to report ...
Since this is just one part of an unusual three-part story - and because I don't know if there's a maximum permissible length for one of these email "jobbies", I'll send this out to you and HOPE I can sustain it to the end. (I hope I'm not boring you if you're busy - and I don't wanna prevent you from keeping the old Social Security Fund solvent for us "old fart" has-beens (or "never-wuzzes").
The next two parts will relate to another nearby neighbor and one of the war's greatest "unknown till recently" heroes . . . Richard Winters - living prototype leader of the true "Private Ryan" incident (who was killed in the flick but is still very much alive). He was also a consultant for the flick, and now a personal friend of Spielberg, Hanks and Ambrose, who wrote the movie and the book. Ambrose has written another book (almost a biography of Winters) , as the leader of the his WW2 101st unit, which not only participated in the "Ryan" incident, but was also surrounded in "The Bridge Too Far", - one of the first units to find and witness the horror of a holocaust camp - and the first unit to capture Hitler's residence and Eagle's Nest at Berchtesgaden, Germany. Ambrose's book, "The Band of Brothers" is about his small unit"s action from beginning to the end in Europe.
Part Three would describe the third member of our little informal meeting - Captain Robert Carl - 1930's Merchant Marine, who later rose to Captain, was twice torpedoed, and was the Assistant Secretary of the Navy during both the Korean and the Vietnam wars. He was charged with getting all supplies shipped to the war zones because after WW2 our Merchant Marine was, and is, non-existent.
While I surely could not hope to stand with these great men, but perhaps, as a veteran of all three of those wars, I deserved to be in the room with them.- albeit I did not serve IN Korea - (I was guarding "schatzis", eating "schnitzels", and swilling Loewenbrau BIER in Germany during the post-war "Occupation").
But, as you know, I was commander of the first Dong Tam Detachment in '67 (after coming down from the 25th Division at Cu Chi to replace SFC Stirling, who was killed in a mortar attack at Dong Tam. What you probably don't know is that I was a young merchant marine "deck hand and helmsman" for almost three years during WW2 - and was on the wheel of the SS Arizpa (an old "west-coast hog-island freighter') when she hit a mine during the first convoy through the Scheldt River to Antwerp.
More at some time in the future - if you're interested, Kim.
If not - I'm sorry I ran on so long. I'm all alone living in a thirty year old "trailer" - and probably the only "street person" with a roof over my head (when it ain't leaking). You're an academic - but about 9 years ago - I tried to write some auto-biographical stuff and realized I'm prone to vomit through my fingers. So I turned to rhymes to curb my verbosity. As a result, there are some long "sagas", as well as some stuff pertaining to my local image as the town curmudgeon. I know it's crude (explained in my poem(??), "Genre?", and the story of my myriad failures in "Multi-Mediocrity's Vice-Versatility") And I know I "force" the rhymes to tell some stories . . . but it's what I do. There are about 30 of em, including a weak-sister, non-Gung Ho experience in Nam. If you're even slightly piqued, they're at poetry Scroll down all the way to "Schollenberger" to find em. If you're underwhelmed by my stuff, I think you could find some really good ones among the hundreds submitted by the "warehouse generation" from all over the world. (The Australian Out-Back must be a damned lonely place 'cause there's a lot of em from there - both male and female.)
If you're still there. Thanks for listening . . . and let me know if you want more of the same - AND also let me know if you've had "ENOUGH, ALREADY"!
"ASA All the Way!!"
US Army MSG (Ret.)
Now just "Old Magoo"