Our Secret Squirrel officer from  security was recently down at Mar-A-Lago. S/he knows a certain paparazzi who snaps stuff for the tabloids. He managed to get these closeups with his drone of the purported secret cabal arriving at the servants entrance who are now running the VA behind our new VASEC’s back. Please don’t tell everyone we were the Vets who spilled the beans. We’re just passing this on…really. 

The head of the triumvirate nicknamed Dearth who insists on anonymity

Head of Covert Ops known as “Bozo”

Public Relations Chief “Fred”

Many of you may recognize these folks from their extensive work in Washington on other VA IT and HR projects over the last several decades. In fact, these are the folks who brought us VBMS, Virtual VA, VACOLS, WARMS and the new DoD/VA interface computer costing $13 billion that still is on training wheels.

Posted in Humor, vA news, VA Secretaries | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


Before I inveigh on the Winston Salem chowderheads for their transgressions, I wanted to pass along some valuable information to you guys. When you’re a) down to your last four eggs,  and b) you’re planning on serving them scrambled anyway; and c) you accidentally drop them on the floor (which is incredibly clean), I discovered you can’t pick them buggers up using a spatula. All is not lost, however. I rescued mine with a turkey baster. Yeppers. Sucked those puppies up, I did. I just thought I’d pass that helpful homemaker tip along to you guys. Where was I? Ah, yes. The Cigarette RO. Boy howdy is that going to become politically incorrect one of these days like Confederate statues.

This is bigger news than that old boy who had to sleep on the floor at the Alvin C. York Memorial VAMC in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  Imagine filing a claim for nasal cancer due to AO. It’s a small cell carcinoma in the nasopharangeal passage on the way to the lungs which makes me think it’s fair game. If you get SC for lung cancer (which is a small cell carcinoma) due to AO, what’s the distinction? Cancer isn’t too particular as to where it manifests.

I asked for a Flash on his VBMS folder as terminally ill. This gets your foot in the door for a pronto adjudication. In the old Segmented Lanes Model, this was sent to the Express Lane for a 78 RPM decision. In the New World Order of VA claims, they send it to Winston Salem for their VSR(s) to pontificate on and say it ain’t so. In fact, the W-S gal even called me on June 21st to give me the good news and bad. They were granting P&T for his IHD but denying the nasal cancer. As he promptly died 9 days later from the cancer, any hope of DIC immediately flew out the window. Funny how that works. I can almost hear Maxwell Smart opining “Missed the 10 year requirement by thaaaaaaat much, boss”.

That much, boss.

But here’s the glitch. With our new ICU2 TV set called VBMS, I  “saw” Winston Salem  enter the decision and the Confirmed Ratings Sheet in real time (June 19th). Quite coincidentally, I had been haggling with the Seattle VA over Bob’s inability to attend his C&P exam. You know how that works, right? You’re just too dog-ass tired to drag yourself out of bed, peel off that Fentanyl patch, get dressed and chug some coffee to counteract all the morphine sulfate you’ve been hosing from the eyedropper.  Throw in that you’re semi-comatose and lost your cognitive abilities weeks ago anyway and that c&p really isn’t up there in your wheelhouse. Hospice shit will do that to you.

My Angel of Mercy (CMA Tina) at the Seattle Puzzle Palace was able to induce the VES doctor to do the unheard of- make a house call. She (the doctor, not Tina) dutifully arrived on- wait for it- Tuesday, June 19th bright and early. The good doctor opined in no uncertain terms that Bob’s cancer was at least as likely as not due to dining on too much Agent Tang during his two tours back-to-back in country. We call it the Dioxin Diet now. Helps eviscerate strong bodies 12 different ways. I was on it for two years as well. I pray fervently every night I, too, don’t join the Carcinoma Club.

Due to the vagaries of getting a c&p uploaded into VBMS in a timely fashion, Bob’s diagnosis wasn’t dutifully entered until June 29th, 2018. It didn’t go unnoticed. I called up my RO director’s secretary (Laura) on July 2nd and pointed out the dichotomy of deciding a claim ten days prior to receiving the results of the c&p. Laura immediately hammered out the VAF 27-0820 Holy Shit Batman report and uploaded it into the HAL 8000 VAICU2 TV.  VA doesn’t seem to think anything is amiss. I still haven’t heard back on it. Perhaps the NOD will be the wake-up call. I filed that daisy yesterday alleging misfeasance and demanded an a) reconsideration based on all the evidence; or b) a motion to revise it.

I filed the notice of disagreement yesterday. I had to wait to get his widow substituted in his stead. VA even went so far as to 86 my access to his VBMS record in the interim. Here’s what I missed in my forced absence. These Bozos actually uploaded the 4 DBQs for the c&p not once but 8 more times in the ensuing two weeks after the June 29th entry. Talk about constructive possession from Hell of the documents a la Bell v. Derwinski. No flies on these ol’ boys.

One thing I love about VBMS is the transparency. This is one of those rare instances where it occurs with notable frequency. VA can’t camouflage their machinations any better than the Palestinian donkeys cum zebras.   How about these daisies…

Harvey in Sioux Falls filed in ’92 for a header he took on the high seas in ’84. They couldn’t find his records because somebody entered his SSN wrong. Fortunately, the VBMS caught the problem in 2013 when some chucklehead put two and two together. What are the odds you’d have two Vets with the exact same name and DOB who served in the Navy at the exact same time but with dissimilar SSNs with one digit difference? So, what happens? They SC him lickity spit but neglect to tell him they’ve just associated Service Treatment Records from 1984 into his claims file. Ruh-oh Rorge… Here comes §3.156(c). Or…

Chris , who uses the David Koresh Memorial Regional Office in Whacko, Texas has been denied SC or lowballed for 40 years. He points out he was medievac’d to CONUS in 1969 after losing an altercation with a jeep going 35 mph at An Khe when he hopped out of his Huey gunship for a smoke break. PSP is softer than concrete- but not by much. He happens to remember he was seen (and indeed an inpatient for 3 months) at the William Beaumont Army Medical Hospital back then. He even noted in his contemporary 526 that the records were there.   The Rocket boys at Fort Waco immediately send out a PIES request for the records- albeit in 2018 and not 1971.

This is what a PIES request is going to look like in your c-file.

Bingo- incoming. 53 pages of Service Department Records never before associated with the claims file appeared magically from Beaumont Army Center. Do you think they bothered to tell Chris he gets a reopen with reconsideration of all his claims clean back to 1971? No way, Jose. Yep. §3.156(c) all over again. Counting Butch, that’s three (3) §3.156(c) claims for 1970, 1971 and  1992 in less than two years. Do you see a pattern or do I have the Force? Omniscient, I’m not.

My all time favorite currently up on a Motion to Revise is the one where they say John had a bunged up finger in 1983 when he entered service. They did four surgeries to “correct” the severed ulnar nerve and ended up destroying his right hand and wrist.  So often we forget Murphy’s First Law- “No good deed goes unpunished”. Yep. Loss of use-but with an interesting twist. They deducted (as in simple subtraction) 10% for the bonked finger from the LOU of right upper extremity. In VA mathematicsland, apparently, 60+10 = 64% which rounds down. Similarly, 70% minus 10% would yield 67% which rounds back up to, ruh-oh- 70%. Repair order?  Oh, bother! Screw §4.25. 70%-10% = 60%. Next? Look it up in §3.310(b)…

 The rating activity will determine the baseline and current levels of severity under the Schedule for Rating Disabilities (38 CFR Part 4) and determine the extent of aggravation by deducting the baseline level of severity, as well as any increase in severity due to the natural progress of the disease, from the current level.

Gee, does that mean using VA’s own math in 38 CFR Part 4 as in §4.25? Reverse interpolation (extrapolation?) would be my guess. 70%-10%= 67%  in VA’s convoluted math but they make up the rules as they go so it probably is only applicable in Alaska, Puerto Rico and Hawaii… but only if it occurred on a Thursday… in an odd month… with a full moon… and you were an Aries.

So, folks, and especially all of you out there who have retrieved your claims files from the maw of the shredder, keep your eyes peeled for those VA PIES requests for Inpatient Treatment Records from hospitals. Remember, they were not kept on the 6th floor where the Friday July 13th, 1973 records barbecue was held. Chances are two things may happen. You might find they disremembered to include them when they contacted NPRC for your STRs way back when or… they plumb forgot to tell you they just found them and that’s why they suddenly had a change of heart over granting that reopened claim for ______.

Today’s show is brought to you by the letters V and A.

And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.


Posted in 3.156(c), Agent Orange, C&P exams, C-Files and RBAs, CUE, KP Veterans, NPRC 1973 Fire, Tips and Tricks, VA Agents, VA Medical Mysteries Explained, vARO Decisions, VARO Misfeasance, VBMS Tricks, Veterans Law, Vietnam War history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Well now, campers. We have a new VASEC but is it a Hallelujah moment or one more akin to a continuing series of disappointments? History provides us an endless parade of incompetent, well-meaning Secretaries that demonstrated a pronounced proclivity to say one thing and do something entirely different. Not that I’m appalled by their actions, but it does fly in the face of their professed mantra of  ‘to render a decision which grants every benefit that can be supported in law while protecting the interests of the Government. (§3.103(a)). Ahruu? Seems they got that regulation ass backwards and inserted “protects the interests of the Government” at the wrong end.

Really, folks. Let’s take a tour through recent VASEC history. Lest we forget, our dear Secretaries Principi and Peake were the progenitors of QTC via Lockheed Martin. Draining the swamp at the VA is going to require a bigger mudhog than our Mr. Wilkie. General Shinseki, in spite of that galaxy of stars on his shoulders, couldn’t sail this ship into calm harbors. I grant ‘Call me Bob’ (with Ranger Tabs)was closer to the mark and I would personally liked to have seen him stay. As for Shulkin, what can I say? Those wives will sink your career every time with side trips to Stockholm. Call it a Mermaid too far. I think he could have explained Wimbledon if he’d hung in there  long enough. Tennis? VA benefits? Surely you all see the similarity of subject?

Keep in mind, all the years we’ve been breathlessly awaiting some resolution on the plethora of VA’s  medical mishaps, surgical suites contaminated by cockroaches, unsterilized endoscopic gear transmitting Hepatitis C, infected VA dentists transmitting Hepatitis C via unsterile procedures, ad nauseum, we’ve been told relief is just around the corner. An endless parade of whistleblowers have come forth to expose the grief, fraud, misappropriation of narcotics and collusion between employees and their relatives. The outcome has been what? VA whistleblowers lose their jobs. Just like the Roman Colluseum-Lions 5, Christians 0. Those who come forth and try to expose the egregious excesses become the focus of VA’s ire rather than being thanked and promoted for their farsighted approach to conserving scarce resources for Veterans.

Today I read that Secretary Wilkie has promised to relegate the very employees trying to curtail or effect change at VA to the back benches. Granted, they are being referred to as Trump sycophants but remember they were the first to try to drain the VA swamp and succeed in making the law stick on firing the bad apples. Apparently that doesn’t sit well with the AFGE.  Is Wilkie mad or is he trying for the world’s shortest tenure in office as Secretary? VA is rapidly approaching ridicule status among federal agencies. Some would contend it leads the parade of Government excess and waste.  Anyone showing an ounce of backbone is shown the door. The President has promised change- but what? Can you imagine defending  spending $16.9 billion (with a B) in an effort to build a computer compatible with the DoD’s to ensure a smooth transition of STRs from military care to Veterans Administration care? How about this? We issue everyone separating from service a thumbdrive of their medical records. The Veteran makes a copy of it (if he’s wise) and submits it with his fancy dancy Fully Developed Claim for benefits. Problem solved. VA copies and pastes the thumbdrive into VBMS. So, do I qualify for a consultant bonus of $3.5 million for this $5.59 money saving approach? Never happen, GI.

The VA’s problems are myriad and not extremely complex. VA puts an inordinate effort into making itself complex-or to appear so to Congress. Therein lies the problem. Let’s take my request for a greenhouse back on May 8th, 2011. My VA counselor ($96,850.00/year with full medical/dental) explained to me that this was never going to happen. VA did not have an ILP program for ‘avocational’ pursuits- just vocational ones. I guess he didn’t get the 1997 email from OGC in the form of VA OGC Precedent 9-1997. He claimed he’d worked there for over 24 years. The more motions I filed to attain the greenhouse, the deeper they dug their heels in. He just retired to avoid having to fall on his sword over this. Now it’s someone else’s tar baby!

In September 2015, VLJ Vito Clementi agreed with me and awarded the greenhouse. VA has done everything in their power to ignore, defeat or renege on this award. The VR&E Officer spent 4 months after the award researching how he could refuse to comply. The OGC finally had to tell him to shut up and push print. The VR&E Officer is a grand poobah and gets $114,000.00 a year with the afrementioned medical benefits. The two of them have effectively been paid $798,000.00 and  $672,000.00 respectively (One million, four hundred seventy thousand dollars and some loose change combined) to deprive me of a lawful entitlement. Am I the only one who sees the problem? Fortunately no. Since I have no whistle to blow or a job to jeopardize, I can’t be suppressed or silenced.

Thanks to the far thinkers in Congress back in 1988, we were given a voice at the Federal level with the creation of the CAVC. I have partaken of their services six times now. I guess that makes me a Frequent Filer. Last Fall, I figured if I was going to be pestering them so frequently,I should ask to join the Sky Club on the ninth floor. So I did. The bigger surprise was they accepted me.

Finally, on the third try (CAVCs #16-2098, 17-1450 and 18-938), I think I may have gained traction. As most who have aspired to the lofty heights of winning an Extraordinary Writ know, it is no easy task. Climbing Mt. Everest is far easier. To date, and I could be wrong, I believe that honor has only been won by eight or nine individuals. One aspect that forebodes success or failure is the time from the last submissions of the petitioner (you) and the Respondent (the Secretary) to the time of a decision pro or con. In most cases, Extraordinary Writs are handled by single judges and are therefore not precedential in their conclusion of law. On the contrary, a protracted delay can often mean a convocation of a panel and an earth-shattering pronouncement for the ages. In sum, most Extraordinary Writs die a quiet death by dismissal or denial due to their nature. Most entail asking VA to do something they have neglected to do. The Secretary promptly “fixes” it and the Writ is declared moot. On the other hand, if what you have asked for is totally outlandish, it will be denied.

While I am only mildly optimistic in this endeavor, it would seem from the delay from my last filing to rebut the Secretary on May 29th, the ensuing silence from the Court is telling. Many of us in the Veterans Advocacy arena view this as a last stand for Veterans’ ILP benefits. VA has been chipping away at this program continuously at every turn for over two decades. The latest “revision” of the M-28 manual on March 31, 2014  inserted substantive new rules and catch 22s to further decimate the ILP. Nowhere in 38 USC §3120 can these new interpretations be interpolated nor extrapolated. The revisions are simply made up out of whole cloth and VR&E folks know it. Surely no one wants to be the whistleblower and piss on that $90,000 paycheck by calling them out on it. Worse, they are trying to pawn off these 2014 changes to the M 28-R retroactively back to my May 8th, 2011 filing. That’s a Bozo no-no at all 56 VAROs across our fruited plains.

Speaking of 56 VAROs, I had to call up Fort Fumble in Fort Harrison Montana about one of my terminally ill clients.  Valerie answered the phone with a cheerful ‘Salt Lake City Regional Office. How can I direct your call?’  A week later I contacted the Sioux Falls, South Dakota Puzzle Palace and lo and behold-Valerie answered again. Seems they’re downsizing with the advent of the VBMS. Valerie was rude, crude and socually unattractive-not to mention boorish and told me I had the wrong number. I had to explain to Valerie why the VA has Change Management Agents. She tried to tell me I had to call the 800 dial a prayer line. Valerie and I will probably never become BFFs but at least she treats me with a modicum of politeness now that we understand the Veteran is of paramount importance rather than her.

Come Monday morning, the Court will have been mulling this ILP conundrum over for sixty two days-an inordinately long time for a Writ. Either they are formulating the Mother of all Denials or treating it as a matter of first impression deserving of a panel. My quandary is whether to beg Ken Carpenter to argue it for me at the Court with his mellifluous voice or do it myself. I relish the idea of eviscerating the OGC’s attorney on the matter. I’ve been preparing for this discussion for seven long years.

The argument comes down not to whether I get a greenhouse but size it will be. I have asked for a 24′ X 28′ with hydroponics and new low-energy LED lighting. I also asked for a 240-VAC composting toilet as I have “issues” that are sometimes suddenly pressing. Just to be an irritant and see how far I could push them, I also asked for several years of the Lexis Nexis VBM at about $350 a pop. Shoo doggies. They agreed-right up until they didn’t. Therein lies the problem. Why would a VR&E Officer not only agree to, but indeed formulate, an ILP for me for a 24X28 greenhouse only to renege and say “Well, we warned him we could never get it through Washington and the Central Office. He knew his request was unreasonable. No flies on us.”  Yep. Under threat of perjury and 28 USC 1746 he did. Baaaaaaaaaad idea. You don’t lie to the Court. They call that “post hoc rationalizations” and frown on VA’s aftermarket excuses. It’s simply not done at the Court.

Unfortunately, my undereducated and overpaid VR&E Officers (who sit on bonus-calloused derrieres) are not acquainted with VA law and regulations. The Table of Organization shows the VR&E is under the aegis of the VBA-not a power unto itself. Thus, by extension, they have to adhere to §3.104 :

§ 3.104 Finality of decisions.

(a) A decision of a duly constituted rating agency or other agency of original jurisdiction shall be final and binding on all field offices of the Department of Veterans Affairs as to conclusions based on the evidence on file at the time VA issues written notification in accordance with 38 U.S.C. 5104. A final and binding agency decision shall not be subject to revision on the same factual basis except by duly constituted appellate authorities or except as provided in § 3.105 and § 3.2600 of this part.

I’m going to leave it to the Court to decide if the VR&E Officer is a ‘duly constituted appellate authority’ or even ‘a duly constituted ratings authority’. Since the Grand Poobah in DC (Jack Kammerer, VR&E Director) has neglected to call a CUE on this “finding of fact” by the VR&E Officer, it is, by rights, a binding decision. Further, §21.98(c) says he can approve or deny it. I fail to see the term “modify” or “revise”. Ruh-oh, Rorge… Yep. The Catbird seat.

The teaching moment is simple here. VA screws up everything. They are a rule unto themselves. They make regulations up as they go. It is only correct because you do not contest it. If you do, you’ll be pleasantly surprised (eventually) at the outcome.  Remember, Chevron Deference can only extend to that which Congress has not addressed explicitly. In short, hunt diligently among their numerous regulations and hang them with one. There is no dearth of ammo. To add stupidity to a poor education, they put all this damning evidence in the claims file. It’s too easy.

Here’s a copy of the last filing. I love the Comer v. Peake jab. “It always goes to show it’s somethin'” in Rosanna Rosannadanna’s own words.

Graham Rebuttal of Respondent’s rebuttal

Yeah, baby.

Posted in All about Veterans, CAVC Knowledge, Equitable tolling, Extraordinary Writs of Mandamus, Food for thought, Independent Living Program, Inspirational Veterans, KP Veterans, Tips and Tricks, VA Agents, VA Secretaries | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments


Dilley! Dilley!

The (l)east coast branch of asknod sends us this important observation that may sway our military’s hellbent rush towards drone usage in combat. What might be overlooked is drones never get hangovers (but the operator might), go AWOL (except that one in Iran) or demand a costly sex change operation (Spec 4 Manning). Outside of that, they would seem to be a welcome panacea to the collateral damage of combat-related injuries.

Think of the possibilities. We could save millions on all those medals and the concomitant cost of dog and pony show awards ceremonies. We could eventually do away with the Veterans Administration and all their insufferable baggage. The possible exception might be numerous compensation claims for operators’ carpal tunnel syndrome or incurable STDs. Success in war would essentially devolve down to the old adage of “He with the most toys wins.”

The downside would be increased global warming and starvation due to the explosive growth of populations normally decimated by war. Another vewpoint:

This just in from Ace Jewell, CDR, USN (ret.) now about 88 years old and a fighter pilot in three wars.


” Drones will not be late to briefings,

start fights at happy hour,

Destroy the Officer’s Club Stag Bar,

attempt to seduce others’ dates,

purchase huge, garish watches,

insult other military services,

sing ‘O’Leary’s Balls’ whilst dancing on tables,

yell ‘Show us yer tits!” or do

all the other things that win wars.

As such, I see no future in them”.

Wiser words were never spoken. Dilley! Dilley!


Posted in Future Veterans, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

VA kidney doc refers to shocking chronic kidney disease (CKD) VISN 2 study (New York region)

“Dr. Anna Jovanovich is a nephrologist at the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System in Denver. Her research focuses on cardiovascular health in Veterans who have chronic kidney disease. (Photo by Shawn Fury)” VA text and photo CLICK to see abstract, then choose full text.


Sometimes VA emails contain information and news about their research that is valuable for us to read.  For example, 34.3-47.3% of veterans in VISN 2 network have chronic kidney disease (CKD).  The ROs are located in Buffalo and New York City and Buffalo was very involved in this targeted regional research. The BVA also seems unaware of these remarkable and terrible statistics based on the decisions I’ve read.

Study population: VISN 2 individuals seen.  Number: 75,787  Scope: One year in 2007.

Study title:

Prevalence of various comorbidities among veterans with chronic kidney disease and its comparison with other datasets  (link to study in Journal Renal Failure Volume 38, 2016 – Issue 2–published online Dec. 15, 2015.)

“The prevalence of CKD varied depending on the number of eGFR values used. Based on the MDRD equation using two values of eGFR, the prevalence of CKD was 34.3%, while it was 47.3% by MDRD equation using one eGFR value. The prevalence of CKD in the veteran population is much higher than estimated in US population from the NHANES and KEEP datasets.”

VISN 2 New York area CLICK IMAGE to go to this


Definition of CKD calls for two consecutive measurements of eGFR < 60 mL/min per 1.73m2 that are at least three months apart… we have also calculated prevalence of CKD as the ratio of patients with at least two outpatient eGFRs less than 60 mL/min/1.73m2, at least 90 days apart, prior to the end of March 2008 (the numerator) to the total number of the study population (MDRD-2).

Ten years on–How are the RO’s applying this information, if at all, for VISN 2 vets?  With up to 47.3% of veterans diagnosed by the VA with chronic kidney disease, are they getting justice or are they likely to live long enough to get justice?

Let’s look at four kidney cancer BVA decisions based on claims originally rejected by VISN 2 ROs.

RO NYC:  Citation Nr: 1815713 ( 03/16/18)  Kidney cancer; DAV did not do their homework;  RO lost his records;  Vet suspects asbestos exposure; Had two IMOs.  Benefit-of-the-doubt? Denied by Lesley A. Rein, VLJ

Buffalo RO:  Citation Nr: 1734058 (08/18/17) VVA–renal (kidney) and prostate cancer +

Remanded by Michael Martin, VLJ.

RO NYC/RO Kentucky Citation Nr: 1806565 (02/01/18)

Atty, Stephen J. Wenger, Camp Lejeune CUE WIN with

Matthew W.  Blackwelder, VLJ

Buffalo RO–Citation Nr: 1749918 (11/02/17).

kidney cancer, secondary to prostate; VVA

” Veteran may establish service connection based on exposure to herbicide agents with proof of actual direct causation.”  Second remand
Nathan Kroes, VLJ

Somehow I doubt that this old study is going to be updated any time soon–it’s too damning.  With statistics like this, CKD should be presumptive in VISN 2 and would be if similar studies have been done elsewhere.  There may be unpublished and published studies out there.  How likely are non-VA kidney doctors to know about research?

This year we learned that my old Marine has stage three kidney disease and therefore his diet has had to change. We are in VISN 1.  Plattsburgh NY is about 26 miles from our place by road, causeway and ferry.  My guess is that VISN 1 also has high CKD numbers because it takes many weeks to get an appointment with a private specialist.

Thank you to VA Dr. Anna Jovanovich for your interview and for your work in Denver, Colorado.  We need more people like you to help veterans. If you’re shocked at the data, so should we be.  This study provides backup for the VISN 2 veterans who suspect that their CKD is service-connected.  They are probably right based on the 2007 statistics in comparison with the civilian population in their region for the same period as shown in the study tables.  If anyone thinks I’m reading this all wrong, do comment because I have zero training in any field related to medical science.


Posted in All about Veterans, BvA Decisions, Camp Lejeune poisoning, CUE, Food for thought, Future Veterans, General Messages, Guest authors, Lawyering Up, Medical News, non-va care, Remanded claims, research, Uncategorized, VA Health Care, vA news, VA statistics, VSOs | Tagged , , | 7 Comments


Agent Orange claimed another of my brethren Sunday. We will lay him to rest today at noon. Bob came to me after he discovered his VSO had been funning him for a few decades. I was fortunate enough to get him 100% P&T for all of six days before his passing. Now the real battle begins for his widow. Leave no one behind, gentlemen. None.

Sgt. (E-5) Vietnam Service Medal with three Bronze Stars, Purple Heart Medal, Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, RVN Campaign Medal, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, National Defense Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal with OLC and Good Conduct Medal. 11 Bravo

Posted in 4th of July, Agent Orange, AO, Inspirational Veterans, KP Veterans, Milestones | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

JULY 4TH, 2018

While this may be America’s day to celebrate our Independence, it always brings back a fond memory of old. After arriving on the Indochinese Peninsula in early May ’70, I discovered vast quantities of  5.56 mm x 39 mm tracers in ammo cans scattered about at our operating location. Seems the troops weren’t overly fond of them and stripped them out of the magazines. Ours were loaded in the 16th, 17th and 18th position in the 20-round mags to remind us we were on the verge of shooting our weapon dry. Considering we were Air Force, we were presumed to know how to count. I don’t mean that as an affront to the other military services, but it was somewhat of an insult to the cream of America’s fighting forces.

Being a fond adherent of all things explosive, I racked my brains trying to find any possible use for all these wasted pyrotechnics. I liked irritating my fellow servicemen by throwing them into the fire in the evening occasionally. This has an important, twofold purpose. It keeps you at a high level of operational readiness and primed for combat should the need arise. A lot of folks seem to think this is dangerous. Not true. The round merely explodes harmlessly and gives you PTSD. There is no downside as far as I can see.

click to magnify. click twice to really magnify

Shortly before the 4th, my sister sent me a brand spanking new Model 19 S&W .357 and  500 rounds of 158-grain jacketed hollowpoints.  $85.38 new in that signature blue box with splendid Cherry grips. Being in that certain neutral country to the north of Thailand that rhymes with ‘mouse’, we pretty much carried whatever we wanted for personal defense and certainly weren’t limited to using GI-issue ball ammunition. I chose the .357 for its knockdown power. All my friends seemed to think Browning Hi-Power 9 mms with thirteen-plus-one in the chamber were the dernier cri in self-defense. I disagree. From my experience, all a 9 mm did was piss a gook off if it didn’t hit something solid. Murphy’s Law of Ballistics guarantees it won’t.

.45 ACP’s were the cat’s pajamas for sheer blunt force trauma if you could manage to hit anything with them. As near as I could tell, the only reason they put sights on a .45 was to make it look more aerodynamic. The downside to all semi-automatic weapons, both long and short, was the insidious, fine red clay powder that gummed up everything- including our fuel lines in our aircraft.  Before monsoon began, every time a chopper came in to land it stirred up tons of the dust. The dust gummed up everything it got into. You could blow it out of your nose every evening and see just what you were inhaling. In addition, all that fine particulate carried our old friends Agents Blue and Orange. But that’s another story.

For that reason, and the fact that in a pinch there were tons of .38 ball ammo lying around, I chose a .357. You couldn’t jam a wheel gun.  Quite simply, it couldn’t get a smokestack round at the worst possible moment and what’s more,  I noticed folks who encountered a hit anywhere on their body tended to stay put.  Pathet Lao didn’t just get up and keep running after being inoculated with a JHP. I don’t think I need to remind any of you who were participants of the  Vietnamese Boundary Dispute how disconcerting it is to have your weapon jamb. In those moments your brain seizes up and you just keep pulling the trigger and wondering why you’re not getting any reciprocal bang. It takes about ten seconds to sink in.

Back to all those tracers. Included in my care package from my sister, I found several 30-round mags for an M-16. These were becoming available back in the World about that time. We wouldn’t see them in the military for another decade. The gun shop in downtown San Francisco, which went out of business (or more likely was run out on a rail later), threw them in as a bonus for buying the ammo and a nice shoulder holster. Several months later, I bought out their entire stock of  30-rounders. You could barter them for 5 cartons of Marbs or two fifths of Johnny Walker Black.

Well, it didn’t take me more than a few seconds to think up a nifty way to celebrate the Fourth. I promptly packed both mags with tracers and awaited nightfall. As expected, they created two of the most gorgeous rainbows of bright orange. Everyone thought that was cool beans. It’s too bad we didn’t have tracers like the gooks. They had bright green ones. I used to watch them arc up to greet us as we flew over with envy. After I emptied the mags, I noticed the barrel was positively glowing like the element on a stove turned up to high. I even lit my Marb on it. The three-pronged roachclip on the end of the barrel even had a slight glow. Remember them? I always admired Colt Industries for being thoughtful enough to put that accessory on there for us.

The next day I broke the rifle in two and began cleaning it. After swabbing out the barrel, I dutifully looked down it to make sure it was clean. Boy howdy was it. Clean-as in I’d shot the twist clean out of it. We’re talking smooth bore here. One of my buds was preparing to clean his weapon too so I volunteered to do it seeing’s as I had the Hoppe’s #9 and the patches already out. Since Larry wore glasses thicker than coke bottle bottoms and was blind without them, I switched out our barrels. I doubted he cared one way or another.  I never did figure out if it was the tracers or just 60 rounds in 8 seconds that erased the twist.

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I love tracers. I even found an outfit down in Las Vegas that manufactures red and green .223s but they’re pretty pricey at 75¢ a pop so we save them for special occasions like… yep, the Fourth of July. My next door neighbor doesn’t share my enthusiasm but what the hey? I’m not doing it for his entertainment. Who says shit stays in Vegas?

When I DEROS’d in ’72, I was offered $200 for the revolver. No dice. I still have it. My son tried to hornswoggle me out of it, too. I found another at a gun show and bought it for him. My attachment to this weapon is complete. It’s like an American Express card. Don’t leave home without it. I’ll be buried with it if I have my druthers. I’m not sure how that works if you’re cremated.

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Congratulations to my new Veteran 100% P&T Chicken Dinner Winners this week. VA has been bery bery goot to me-Bob Livingstone, Bob Green and Roberto Perez-Soto. They must be having a special on Bobs this week. Sadly, Bob Livingstone passed on the First from AO cancer. We’re falling like flies. So what does Congress do? Give Blue Water Navy guys presumptive who were 40 miles from the nearest spray operation. Okay, I’ll bite. What about all my brothers in Thailand, Okinawa and Guam who were actually getting it on (and in) them? And we wonder if there’s intelligent life at 810 Vermont Ave. NW.


Cupcake and I wish you all a very Happy, well-illuminated 4th with many more to come.

And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

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