Partially OT, but very important, (at least to me)

Catfish

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I know that many of you are reluctant to read long posts, and this is going to be one of those long posts, BUT PLEASE READ IT IN ITS ENTIRETY if you can. It is very important to me that you do so, and it might become important to you if you get the point of this thread.

I know that some of you are befuddled and some even perplexed at how I post on this board. I believe that you know and you understand that one of my life's passions is Cardinals Football. While it is my passion, I don't always like everything about it, nor am I hesitant to express my opinion when something occurs with the Big Red that leaves me confounded and disturbed.

As of late, I know that I have posted things here that seem confusing to some, and just flat out perplexing to others. I feel that it is important for me to explain WHY I post about some of the topics that I talk about. In order for me to explain that, I believe that you would be best served if I tell you more about me as a person, so that you will know why some things affect the way I post more than others do, and why I post on some topics that you feel make me appear as 'holier than thou'. Believe me, that is as far from the truth as it gets. I am the last person on this earth to be preaching holiness to anyone, believe me.

Some of you seem at a loss as to why I post so very positive in one thread, and then the next might be very negative. That is just the way I am. I am just as passionate about the things I don't like as I am about those that I like. Believe me when I say that there are many things about being a Cardinals Fan that I don't like, just as there are a great many things that I love, and hold near to my heart.

I was a young lad who was raised in farm country in the midwest. Life for me was simple, and (hard). After high school, (and a quickly failed attempt at college which only lasted one semester), it became apparent to me that I needed to get away from my familiar surroundings if I were to have any hope at all of getting a job which would eventually allow me to marry and raise a family. Jobs were just not available where I grew up unless you had a family farm. Unfortunately my grandfather lost ours during the depression, when he had to take my grandmother to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to be nursed back to health. He had to sell the farm in order to finance that venture, but you do what you must do in order to survive. My choice was to enlist in the Navy, and to there hopefully learn a trade at which I could eventually earn a decent living.

My Dad was a WWII Navy veteran, and was one of my heroes. He instilled in me a measure of patriotism, and of service, (to my community and to my country), that I still hold dear to me today. He also insisted that I follow the golden rule of treating people like I would wish to be treated. Those two principles govern my life, even to this day. What happened along the way, turned out to eventually nearly destroy me, (emotionally and physically). If you have made it this far,-----PLEASE KEEP READING, because you will see why I post like I do, and why I am so passionate about my posting here.

I was involved in, and did more before I was thirty, than most young men do in a lifetime. I was a three sport letterman in high school, football, baseball, and basketball. I was athletic, and fit. The Navy sent me to electronics school in Millington, Tennessee where I spent most of my first year in the service. The importance of being a military man was impressed very suddenly (and profoundly), upon me when the Cuban Missile Crisis came to a head in October of 1962. The Navy diverted many planes from its squadrons along the Gulf Coast to Millington Naval Air Station, so as to protect them from Cuba's threatened use of first-Strike missiles. Suddenly we were on the very brink of nulcear war, and that was just the FIRST time for me. It was a very sobering and life changing event.

The following March, I was sent to a squadron which flew reconnaisance missions throughout the South Pacific and South-East Asia. We were based on Guam, and our black-painted planes flew night missions mostly. I became an air crewman, and thus underwent training in sea, and jungle survival, and training as a prisoner of war, just in case we failed to return from one of our missions. The idea of looming war became instilled very deeply into me. Half of our missions were to protect the carrier task forces, by flying a perimeter around them, and vectoring intercepts from the carriers to incoming aircraft that threatened the safety of the fleet. The other half of our mission was to fly into the Typhoons of the Pacific, so that the fleet could avoid losses due to extreme weather. We were called the Typhoon Trackers, and were the sister squadron to the Hurricane Hunters of which most people are familiar. Our missions for both types of activity were conducted primarily at night, and often in horrendous weather. The US Air Force took the day missions. I remained in this squadron until September of 1964, whereupon I was transferred to an attack squadron with carrier air group 19 on the carrier Bonhomme Richard.

There, my job was to work at night on the flight deck of that carrier, as the last line of maintenance before launching planes for bombing missions of Rolling Thunder during the early years of Vietnam. I was introduced to the sudden loss of friends at the hands of death early on in life. I learned to cherish the time we had before one of them was suddenly and violently taken. I also learned what real fear was during some of my missions, and during my nights on that rolling flight deck amidst all the turmoil of launching and recovering fighter and attack planes. In addition, the Navy recognized that I was a clean cut midwesterner without a lot of baggage to carry, and they chose me to become a neuclear weapons loader on that carrier. It was easy for them to get a secret clearance with my sheltered background. All of these things were very heavily impressed upon me, and my fellow veterans at sea.

Being in war, and assigned to a critical rating, I was extended by the Navy when my first hitch was up. I had spent three of my four years, at sea or overseas. My next duty station was the Top Secret base at the Naval Air Station in Atsugi, Japan, where we repaired shot up planes from Vietnam and refurbished them to return to the fleet. This was the base that the U-2's flew from. It also became the base that my former reconnaisance squadron moved to during the Vietnam conflict. I spent 4 more years there, working on aircraft radars, and on critical cryptographic equipment that scrambled voice text into garbled nothingness, then reserected it again when it was reached the proper receiver. Once again, it was an easy fix for the Navy to up my clearance to carry a 'Crypto' endorsement. Life was busy, with many 14 to 16 hour days, (and nights), trying to keep the fighting squadrons equipped with the very best equipment we could provide, so that they had a better chance of returning after a mission. Again, many of my friends and acquaintances were lost in combat. ALL THIS weighed very heavily on me. In October of l969, I elected to get out of the service, and return to the States. My first time here since departing in early 1963. I spent nearly all of the '60s in Southeast Asia.

Once in the states I acquire a really good job at Sky Harbor Airport, working in an aviation electronics firm. That didn't last long though, as the guy that owned the company hired a red-headed secretary, and the two of them began taking off for Vegas at noon on Fridays. I quickly learned to cash my check instead of eating lunch on Fridays, so that my pay check didn't bounce when my wife deposited it the next Monday. I decided to get out of aviation electronics, and go for a job that lent more stability to my life, and hired on to one of the valley police departments in order to bring security to my family by way of having a planned retirement system, and paid vacations, health care etc. The pay was far less than I had been earning, but the benefits were more than a fair trade off. What I didn't count on was all the stress that accompanied that job, which was piled upon what I had just endured for the previous 8 years.

I worked my way up the ranks to the position of Lieutenant after 10 years. I chose not to compete for a staff officer position, due to the committment that it would have required of me, (taking precious time away from my familly). This angered my police chief. It also put me into a position where the various staff officer that I worked for, unfairly used my knowlege and abilities to further their own aspirations, and began a long, (and to me, disasterous), road that ended in a depression so severe that it required me to take an early forced disability retirement.

It all started with a few ill chosen words uttered by a Captain that I was working for, (who simply characterized me as a 'paranoid schizophrenic') to the police chief. This, from a wanna be cowboy, who was equipped with only a high school GED. What it did, however was start the wheels turning, which eventually forced me into a position of having to undergo a mental fitness exam at the hands of psychologists, and psychiatrists, chosen by the City that I worked for. I was successful in clearing that hurdle, but unfortunately I had now acquired the handle as a 'psycho cop' within my own department. People that I had worked with for 16 years, suddenly turned a walked the other way when I approached them in the hallways of the main station. No one wanted to be associated with a 'psycho cop'. You see the term endured, even though the fitness report said otherwise. A few poorly chosen words, stuck to me like glue. I was ultimately given a Non Job in a tiny 8X10 foot office with no windows in the main station. I reported to a Captain who worked at a completely different sub-station, and was given virtually no responsibilities. My work performance grades went from an employee who excelled in every phase of his work for 16 years, to one who could do nothing right, virtually overnight. Yet the man who evaluated my performance rarely saw me, and I was given no work to perform during that time. That, coupled with all the accumulated stress of the Vietnam era, and of the previous 16 years as an officer, eventually led me into a depression so deep, that I nearly took my own life.

With no where else to turn, I went back to the Doctor that the City had sent me to for the fitness evaluation four years earlier. He had been fair then, and he was chosen by them, so they couldn't simply ignore what he said now. I was eventually able to hire an attorney who, with that Doctor's help, was able to win judgement for full pension benefits for me, despite the fact that the department had intentionally set me up for firing so as not to have to pay my earned benefits. The Department also chose to allow me to keep my weapon, even though both my doctor, and I, had informed them in writing of the suicidal tendencies. This was apparently an acceptable way out of the predicament that they were uncomfortable with.

The ensuing years of taking steroids to combat my asthma, and of taking anti-depressants to combat the depression, coupled with the fact that I quit smoking, have caused me to gradually gain enough weight that I can no longer walk into, and out of the stadium, so I watch my Cardinals on TV.
I have learned to be careful when I hear people using ill chosen language, as I have been the recipient of their terrible consequences. I still believe in patriotism and service. And I still believe in fair play. THAT is why I occasionally speak out against calling names, or allowing the indescrimanite use of language when referring to posters about others on the board, just because of their position on a given topic. I value the friendships that I have acquired on this board. I also value the ability to speak my mind concerning ALLTHINGS CARDINAL.

After Chris Sanders had so beautifully and correctly posted about the treatment of fellow posters with poorly chosen, or inappropriate language, I became zealous in my defense of my friend Mitch in a recent posting of his. Mitch has become the target of out and out verbal abuse several times since I have been reading and posting on this board. At times this has become almost merciless in its nature. That, in my opinion is uncalled for, especially in light of the brilliance, and depth of most of his posts. Furthermore, I fully intend to continue to support and defend the rights of posters to present their debate on this board without having to defend themselves against personal attacks. Whether I agree, or disagree with their point of view is not relevant. What is relevant to me is that they be allowed to continue to use this forum for their enjoyment and pleasure. That has become very important to me in my life, and if they get as much pleasure from it as I do, post on----.

Maybe now you can understand why I am so concerned with name calling and fair play on this board. While I do not personally know any of you, I have come to understand and respect what most of you do here on this board, and consider you to be my friends. I just refuse to idly stand by and see anyone mistreated, either because of poorly chosen discourse, or because of out and out hostility by any poster, (trolls excluded). My rant is finished. I hope you took the time to read it all, because it IS important. Thank you for your time and any consideration you might give to this. Fish
 

Garthshort

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Catfish, all I can say is wow. Losing my mother at age five, with three younger and five older siblings, I thought I had it rough, but looking back at age 74, I can say that my life was easy compared to yours. My only suggestion, is that you should take the above post to an editor, and ask him/her if it could be turned into a book. It could help others, beyond this site. I'll close by saying congratulations for the life you've led and ask that you keep your posts coming. Good getting to know you.
 

BullheadCardFan

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Great story, thanks for sharing with us.

I read your posts all the time and enjoy your input.

I have an open mind and do not get involved in the negativity here. It is sad that posters attack others instead of debating the actual topic.

But the bright side is that there are so many diverse posters here we get all kinds of input and opinions which can open ones eyes to things we may not see.

I read the positive posts and the dark side posts. They both have input that I enjoy and learn from.
 

TigToad

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I'm a teacher.

Ill-chosen words have a tremendous impact on other people's lives. Often, something is said in a way meant to be funny or to make your point look better. The impact is often significantly more than making your point in an argument, but the speaker never knows that impact.

Good post.
 

Mitch

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Catfish---my good friend---I was especially moved to read your story---and I so appreciate the time and effort you put into writing it. I know it is not easy for anyone to write about her/himself----for it poses the tenuous risks of being construed as narcissistic or just plain vulnerable and all points in between.

In reading your story I found it to be an extraordinarily humble account of an extraordinary life. What I find so endearing about you, Catfish, is that you always wear your heart on your sleeve---and that, my dear friend, takes exceptional courage and resolve.

The context of your life story makes it all the more remarkable that you have maintained your optimism and your great passion---for there is absolutely nothing cynical about you. You have not evolved into a modern J. Alfred Prufrock who came to the horribly cynical conclusions:

* "I should have been a pair of ragged claws---scuttling across the floors of silent seas."

* "Should I, after tea and cakes and ices---have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?"

* "And would it have been worth it after all...?"

* "I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled"

* "I have heard the mermaids singing each to each--I do not think that they will sing to me."

* "We have lingered in the chambers of the sea---by sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown---till human voices wake us---and we drown."

As a teacher of high school students, I try to teach my students that the worst thing that could ever happen to them, beyond contracting a fatal disease, is allowing themselves to become cynical.

In other words---when someone arrives at the conclusion that hey "what's the use? Nothing good is going to happen anyway."

The fact that you have endured so much hardship and loss in your life---and have suffered through prolonged bouts of depression (which is as dark and deep a hole as anyone could find oneself in)---and come out of it all with your passion for life and for people intact---and your belief in the promise and inherent goodness of people intact (which I what I believe is the reason why you wrote your story---for you still believe that those on this board who treat you and others with such blatant disrespect and disregard---almost as if at times some here are not even treated as human---that if those people could only walk a mile in your shoes, as Atticus Finch implores us to consider when judging others and their viewpoints---that they might opt to show respect instead of contempt.

You could have said---"what's the use?"

You did not.

Instead you allowed all of us to walk a mile in your shoes.

And I feel compelled to say that my esteem for you---which has always been of the highest order---is all the more heightened this morning.

Sometimes you can sense a person's true character---but not know why.

Now I know why.

And I cannot thank you enough.

I feel extremely honored to be your friend...

I feel extremely grateful to know how you have spent and continue to spend your life in perpetual service to others and to your country....and the self-sacrifices you made on others' behalves.

Life can be incredibly coincidental at times---because just this week I have been reading one of the greatest books I have ever read---it is called Unbroken, by Laura Hildenbrand.

Hildenbrand---who suffers from acute chronic fatigue syndrome (and boy---the way she manifests unusual and tireless patience in her writing and her impeccable research)---tells the absolutely unbelievable story of a WW II airman Louis Zamperini---

Well---as I read your story, Catfish---I couldn't help but see some amazing parallels---some literal and several symbolic---and---

In thanks, the best thing I could possibly say to you is:

You are UNBROKEN!

Heck, you are like a modern day Andy Dufresne---you crawled through "five football fields of the foulest smelling sh^%---and came out smelling clean on the other side!"

And as a token of my thanks---I would like to send your own copy of Unbroken. I will send you a PM to follow up on the details.

Thank you again so much, Catfish. You are an extraordinary person---and you have a heart of pure gold. Carpe diem, my friend. Carpe diem!
 
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az jam

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Thanks for sharing your life story with us. Both you and Mitch are excellent writers and I do respect both of your opinions (and everyones).

Mitch, I did also read UNBROKEN and couldn't put it down.
 

Red Dawn

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Catfish, please keep posting away, I enjoy your point of view. I can certainly relate to the stresses of sea duty you felt during your time on the Bonnie Dick. Your eloquent description of night ops on a carrier flight deck brought back a flood of memories for me, as I served aboard the USS Enterprise as a F-14 jet mechanic. We participated in Operation Frequent Wind in which we provided air cover for the evacuation of Saigon in 1975, essentially ending the conflict you sacrificed for in the 60‘s. I look back on my time in the Navy on the Big E as one of the great adventures of my life. I am glad that you have made it though all of the trials and tribulations you described and are able to be part of our Cards community.

Mitch, you keep plugging away, too. Whether I agree with your opinion or not it’s good stuff.
 
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Catfish

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Thank you all for your (too kind) thoughts and expressions. Soliciting this response was not my intention-----I merely wanted to show how a few poorly chosen words can have such a profound effect on someone's life. I am overwhelmed at your so very positive response.

Mitch, I would happily accept the gift of the book that you so strongly recommend. You are one of the true treasures that I have discovered on this board, and believe me when I say that there have been many. I have PM'd my response to you. I truly value your friendship.
 

Captain Matt

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Huge navy history buff. My dad was pretty much everywhere you were from 1964-1968... father-in-law was a NAMPOW from October '64-Feb '73. I started my career as a VP bubba (1310), but have since moved on.

The whole business of tactical nukes was interesting. I am led to believe that we certainly had that capability in the early 60s, but was under the impression that rarely... if ever... were the "physics packages" deployed. I worked at the museum in Pensacola in the late nineties ans had many opportunities to talk to A3D, RA5C, and EC121 crewmen. And at those NAMPOW reunions you get to meet all kinds of interesting folks who had interesting assignments. Most of the Guam folks I've met from that era were B-52 boys. Haven't met many depot repair navy bubbas, but would love to hear those stories sometime. Since dad was an AT I'm familiar with what you guys did, but hadn't heard of guys getting as much cross-rate AO/AE stuff as you had. Course I'm a bit of an abberation myself - ex-Seabee, P-3 pilot and Engineering Duty Officer who has done developmental testing on railguns, worked extensively in missile defense and now builds and tests advance radar systems. You should see COs' eyes light up when I walk aboard to fix their combat systems - I'm often mistaken for a flight deck certification inspector. Too funny.

From one navy man to another - keep your chin up brother. And please look into VA treatment. All of the recent conflicts have raised awareness with PTSD and other afflictions brought upon us from stress and exposure. There is help out there. You just gotta be persistent and give it a shot. And if that doesn't work keep reaching-out online and share your stories (like you just did). There are hundereds of excellent veteran webpages and blogs out there where folks who have "been there" get on and share real experiences.

Good Luck!

LCDR S.
 

Captain Matt

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Man get on the VW-1 members site on tripod (google EC-121 VW-1). It has EVERYONE from Agana on there. (Mods please don't drill me for posting this, just trying to steer a brother to another Navy page)
 
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Catfish

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Man get on the VW-1 members site on tripod (google EC-121 VW-1). It has EVERYONE from Agana on there. (Mods please don't drill me for posting this, just trying to steer a brother to another Navy page)

LCDR, S. Thanks for the heads up, because I am everything VW-l. I crewed TE-7, BUNO 145928, as an airborne first tech. My PC, Commander Godshall, was one of the best bosses I ever worked for. He was a comsumate clean freak when it came to his bird, and he believed in cross training everyone on the crew, so that is how my cross training began. Best thing that ever happened to me. If you don't mind, I would like to PM you sometime. Thanks again, for your kind thoughts, and especially for your service. Lockheed rocks !!!!!
 

DemsMyBoys

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Fish, thanks for sharing all of that with us. You have to get it out. Your story is a reflection of a lot of my family members and friends.

Keep posting. There's always going to be someone who makes you half nuts. That's the way of these things. (I've been shocked to find out, via internet boards, how evil Boomers are. Lol. I had no idea.) So, please, hang in there. Scroll past the negativity. (And no matter how long they are I always read your posts. :thumbup:)

To LT: If your FIL is still living please pass along my utter respect to him. I was a member of the National League of Families starting when they began in 1970. (Didn't have a PW/MIA family member. Just worked with the wives and families on the campaign.)

To both of you: Thanks for your service. Thanks very, very much.
 

RonF

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Thank you for sharing Catfish. Words indeed do have meaning, unfortunately, there are posters who are unaware how cutting their personal attacks can be to others. I want to say more, but will just leave it at this. Take care.
 

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