Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Return of the Chickenman

Four decades ago, thousands of young men and women, some only 18, left their home country to fight a war in Viet Nam. They would spend up to a year or more in a land where most of the population didn't want them there which was bad enough but upon returning home, they were met with disdain and disgust - all for doing what they were ordered to do.

The bonds soldiers form is strong; they become brothers in arms, standing strong and banding together to get the job done and go home safe and sound. Some do - some don't.

The soldiers came home sporadically and returned to their home states where they tried to move back into their lives. Again, some were able and others were not. Most lost contact with each other when they tried to put that part of their lives behind them.

Mike was the company "artist" while he was there and designed the Company's patch. Their call sign was Chickenman. When he wasn't drawing the Chickenman, Mike spent a lot of time doing caricatures of his buddies and cartoons about their sparse conditions and a few with political slants.

Several months ago, a message popped up on our email from one of Mike's army buddies about a reunion he was planning for the A-Co. 227th. A website was set up, a place and date were set and the few guys who had found each other started looking for the rest of them. One by one by one, the A-Company 227th of the First Cav Division started connecting with long lost brothers. And next week, many of them will gather in Branson, Missouri, where they will see each other for the first time in over 40 years.

It's been such a treat for me to watch Mike's excitement every time another call comes in. He connected with is best friend from back then, Joe Joe who lives in Vegas now and another of their running buddies, Pete, from Alabama. These three rarely let a week go by without calling each other and when they do, the laughter is loud and long.

I'm going along for the ride and boy, what a ride it's bound to be!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

I love Fall. It sneaks in behind a soft summer day and suddenly the morning has a snap to it that you aren't expecting. The air seems clearer; the sky seems bluer (is that a word?) and waves of orange and yellow leaves lay in surprising designs on the ground. There's an undefinable joy in the crunch of big colorful leaves underfoot. It's the perfect way to close out the blur of summer with its endless activities.
One day, down the road, I dream of having a smallish writing studio in the trees where my little dog, Angus, and I will wander outside on just such a Fall morning. Angie will find a comfortable pillow on the well worn overstuffed chair that sits in the corner next to a stack of books and magazines. I might just sit next to him with my laptop and pick up where I left off the day before on a book chapter . . . an article that is nearing the deadline for submission . . . or maybe I'll just spend the morning doing Internet research to support a cause I've decided to write a story about. It's the freedom of thought that makes the writing worthwhile - significant because it found me - not the other way around.

That day will come because I know that's what God has planned for me. I've known it for years but I've also known the path to get there would be long, rocky and winding. That's okay because making the journey will make me a better writer. At least I believe it makes me a better person for finding my way over the obstacles and around the corners - and if I am a writer from the heart, my stories will have more substance and authenticity. Some days - like today . . . I can hardly wait.