Soldiers I knew were no ‘losers’ Mr. Trump

First Lieutenant Victor Lee Ellinger was no loser, Mr. Trump.

He was shot and killed by an enemy sniper during the Vietnam War and I forced marched my platoon to come to his aid only to find out we got to him too late to help.

He was no “sucker,” having enlisted the same year that you miraculously developed bone spurs on one of your feet, getting your fifth deferment to keep you out of the military and any chance of being in harm’s way. It was the same year I was drafted and later commissioned to lead a bunch of other young men into battle.

I was livid when I saw the news report of you disparaging the men who were killed in combat. An Atlantic Magazine’s journalist,  Jeffrey Goldberg, citing multiple anonymous sources who had firsthand knowledge of the conversations, reported Thursday on the comments. They were confirmed later by another reporter and responded to by Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president.

Lieutenant Victor Lee Ellinger was the pride of Staunton, Va., and his remains are interred with his mother and father in a family plot where I laid a wreath, saluted him, yelled at God for taking him away and cried my heart out.

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Now I learned that you would not even honor the hundreds of US Marines who gave their lives during “The War to End All Wars” in France. You refused to go to a cemetery near the site of the Battle of Belleau, blaming the rain for the cancellation. But Goldberg said that you rejected the idea because you feared your “hair would become disheveled in the rain,” and because you “did not believe it important to honor American war dead.”

Goldberg added:

In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 Marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed.

Goldberg said later in the article that Trump had also referred separately to John McCain, the late senator and war veteran, as a “fucking loser.”

Veterans and the families of veterans will make you pay a price for these cowardly assertions. You, Mr. President are not even worthy enough to tie the laces of their combat boots.

Change Confederate generals’ names now

As a veteran of several military bases, I would vote to change the names of all the facilities named for generals who fought for the Confederate army during our nation’s Civil War.
I offer such action with a heavy heart because of the link I still have with the facilities that helped to create the soldier I had become and the lessons learned in the US Army. Continue reading

An Officer and a Gentleman Recalled

I was commissioned a Second Lieutenant 50 years ago and looking back I see it as one of the greatest achievements of my life. Also, one of the luckiest ones and I’m so glad to still be around to tell about it.
Yes, by an Act of Congress I was made “An Officer & a Gentleman.” I don’t know where that title came from  —  Great Britain I guess —  but I tried to live up to it’s “ideal” while in the army and when discharged and choosing different career paths in my life. Continue reading

GI Bill to celebrate its 75th anniversary!

I would not have gone to college had it not been for the GI Bill which is marking its 75th anniversary on June 22, 2019.
My father, who was born on a small Greek Island, never went beyond sixth grade. My mother, daughter of Hungarian refugees, was the first in her family to graduate from a high school in New Jersey.
And I had barely made it through Dobbin’s Tech, a trade school, having transferred from a Catholic high school after I got caught playing hooky and ordered to go to summer school for religion. No one – including myself — saw college in my lifetime.
Continue reading

‘Welcome Home’ this Veterans Day 2018

One hundred years ago peace-loving people throughout the world commemorated the “War to End All Wars” by institutionalizing a holiday that morphed into Veterans Day in America.

World War I, as historians have named it, did not end all of the wars and in 20 years the nations of the earth faced the worst world war mankind has ever known. Continue reading

August 22 — we’ll never forget Patty Ward

Patty Ward, a Specialist 4 with a helicopter gunship, was shot down 50 years ago while flying to the aid of US Army soldiers during the Vietnam War. He was one of four men who died when their helicopter was hit and crashed.

Patty was awarded the Silver Star for bravery in connection with helping to rescue other grunts wounded in another battle. His family in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia received the medal posthumously. Continue reading

Memorial Day cries out for those who died

Memorial Day always brings back memories of the Vietnam War and one of the soldiers  I served with who I called a friend and a true “comrade-in-arms.” He was Victor Lee Ellinger, a fellow who lived in Staunton, VA. He was shot and killed by an enemy sniper while leading a platoon some 50 miles outside of Saigon. Continue reading

Big Moose bar helps wayward boys to grow

My mother hit me upside the head when she caught me drinking beer in the Big Moose bar up the street from where we lived.

I was 16 years old at the time and sipping a Ballantine beer with a friend from Dobbins Technical High School. Someone must have ratted me out as my good friend Joe Walsh and I — both young white guys — drank in the African American bar in a section of Philadelphia called Brewerytown. Continue reading

Emergency hits home; order soon restored

My second wife stopped breathing shortly after they placed her in the emergency vehicle en route to a hospital some eight years ago. The day was six-months to date of her first bout with an emergency wagon when she fell in our Conshohocken, PA, home suffering a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

She remained in a coma for more than five days then. This time, however, they were more certain that she would not recover from her latest, unplanned date with Miss Fate. A nurse or a social worker at the Hospital suggested I contact a priest to say the last rites for Wendy. Continue reading

‘Love & Rockets’ explode near this veteran

My son, Nicholas, just didn’t seem to understand how much pain I suffered in Sutcliffe Park when I took him to see fireworks on clear and starry night sky on the Fourth of July some years ago.

At first, I enjoyed the rockets zooming into the air. They were a colorful red, white and blue explosions that took your breath away with gasps of wonder and awe.

Soon however, they took on a menacing demeanor, however, as each blast began to remind me of the Vietnam War and the rounds of mortar fire that fell on me and my platoon some 30 years earlier. Continue reading

PTSD undergoes a Shamanistic treatment

The shaman applied pressure with his fingers and thumbs to the side, back and front of my skull. He told me to let him know if he caused me any pain.

I felt some discomfort, but it wasn’t intolerable and so I said nothing and let him continue the process as I sat in a chair in front of more than a hundred people attending the symposium on “What is Healing? – Archaic Traditions Meet Ways of Experiencing Modern Consciousness Exploration and Psychotherapy.” He was the principal speaker, having taught the participants to dance and sing in two large circles in the room where we had met. Continue reading

‘Post-Traumatic Growth’ can help you heal

I experienced something scientists have labeled “Post-Traumatic Growth” twice in my life and some forty years apart. Both led to major changes in my life and a new look at life like I never had imagined it to be. Continue reading

Owning the mental illness amongst us

Mental illness scares the shit out of me. The very term conjures up images of some crazed guy with wild, straggly hair and a demon-like smile of malevolence. Steven King kind of comes to mind when I think of someone who might be a little touched in the head. A Stephen King character, that is. Not Stephen King. Continue reading

Meditation reflections help heal the worst

 

Reflections opened a new world of understanding today. Years after a traumatic event, I can look back and see things in a totally different and healing fashion.

I couldn’t do it when the shit was happening. It hurt too much.

Even five or ten years after the trauma, I’d get sweaty palms and a sped up heartbeat when thinking about the worst day of my life. I couldn’t dwell for too long without having to relive the God-awful experience. Continue reading

What I Believe Makes Me Who I Am

Who am I? What do I believe? And, can I name a few of my beliefs?

Let me name a few things I believe about myself. They’re in no particular order. Continue reading

My ‘Vietnam War Recall’ starts tomorrow

“I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, and more desolation. Some of these young men think that war is all glory but let me say . . . war is all hell.” 

  • American Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman

Continue reading

Recalling love in a 30-yr-old 1-night stand

You wanted more and I couldn’t give it to you. I was seeking love, romance, and someone I could be committed to. You simply saw me as a “one-night stand.” Someone you enjoyed being with for an hour, a night, or just one day in the life of two ships like us meeting briefly on a night at sea. Continue reading

Recalling some cool summers in the army

Summer always served as a “new beginning” for me when I was in the army. I got drafted on the Third of June and did my Basic Training in the hot, dry air of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. I can’t tell you how many push-ups I did during the two-month training session as the meanest drill sergeant I ever seen brought fire to my poor soul by running me everywhere and cussing me out to force me into fighting shape. Continue reading

A rant against disrespect, hurt & the war

Much of what I know about war was what I learned while playing as a kid. You know, using a stick or a broken branch from a tree, I’d pretend it was a rifle to shoot the bad guys who were out to get me and the rest of the good guys in my old neighborhood. Continue reading

Defense Attorney Regrets His Prosecution

All of my legal career involved defending someone charged with crimes or offenses against the law. I worked 20 years as a lawyer, trying more than a hundred jury trials, winning more than half of them.

But to be honest, my first taste of arguing the law came not as a defense lawyer, but as a prosecutor, one appointed by some colonel to bring charges against a buck private who broke a law and faced a summary offense for some minor infraction.

Continue reading

Cause of All Wars Questioned in Confederate Flag Controversy

President Barack Obama may have raised an issue on all wars when he eulogized a fallen comrade on June 26, 2015, at the funeral for the pastor of the AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

While never detracting from the valor that Confederate soldiers fought with in the Civil War, he offered a plain and simple truth.

The cause they fought for was wrong. Continue reading

It was me an enemy sniper was trying to kill

A Viet Cong sniper was trying to kill me. Some motherfucker hiding in the trees, the bushes, the triple-canopy jungle had just shot at my platoon. I thought he was shooting randomly, despite the debris from the ground, grassland and other tiny bits of rock that struck me from a bullet’s ricochets.

No. he was aiming at no one but me! It’s taken me more than forty years to figure that out. Continue reading

Ithaca Mystical Insights — by Contoveros

An Odyssey begins and ends with a mystical adventure that finally takes you back to the home within. Follow the path to Ithaca for insights!

Continue reading

As stress keeps arising, meditation caps it

Someday I may just get my stress under control.

And like Buddy Holly once said: “That’ll be the day . . . that I die.” Continue reading

At least, no one is shooting at me this time

(See Part One, “Cancer strikes . . .)

The train ride from home to the hospital was one of the longest trips of my life. I just knew I was going to die. I figured that the surgeon could not remove all the cancer during my operation 10 days earlier, and it finally struck me: I am a cancer victim!

The doctor never called me with the results from the operation in the Veterans Hospital of Philadelphia. I spent five days and four nights there, mostly recuperating from the surgery. When I left, I had hoped to hear from the physician, but  she didn’t call. I believed she was afraid to give me the bad news over the phone. Continue reading

New bucket list headed by state of Alaska

North to Alaska!

That’s where I’m headed next week and I’ll start checking off the newest box of my “bucket list,” the list of things I want to do before I “kick the bucket.” Continue reading

Ithaca Insights serve up peace & calm

How may I serve you?

 That’s the key to a happy life, you know. Learning to serve others selflessly with no expectation of a reward other than the knowledge you are doing unto others something you’d want them to do . . . unto everyone else.

Continue reading

Hoping for a lofty goal, I write a lot & often

(Question 2 on Hope)
You may also have experienced this kind of hope, (See https://contoveros.wordpress.com/?p=12505&preview=true) but not thought of it in those terms. Think of a time when you felt sure you were going to attain a lofty goal, even though the path to the goal was not apparent. That is the hope that comes from your being. Describe this feeling of certainty in your journal. – Deepak Chopra 21-Day Meditation Experience (Feeling Hope)

I was a buck private in training as a soldier in Fort Dix, NJ, when I had a vision or what Zen Buddhists call a “satori” or moment of clarity of what I needed to do with my life.

I needed and wanted to write a book. Continue reading

Explosion shatters peace but calm prevails

Question 2 of 4 on “Feeling Peaceful”

Thinking of this same peaceful experience, imagine that feeling of calm becoming deeper and stronger within your soul to the point where nothing happening in the environment could shake it. Describe what that kind of peace would feel like physically, mentally and emotionally. How could this type of peace change your life? — Deepak Chopra 21-Day Meditation Experience (Day 3 — “Feeling Peace”)

Well, it would be hard to imagine my peace in Vietnam being any better than what it was that day. It could have very easily been shattered by gunfire. Worse yet, the peace could have been destroyed with my heart and my soul wounded by something called friendly fire.

That’s what happened during another incident while leading men on a search and destroy mission in what we called the “bush.” I had called in mortar fire on a suspected enemy location, but one of the rounds fell on my squad. Five soldiers were injured and I thank God that none were killed.

 (Please see Part 1 at:https://contoveros.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/peace-found-inside-middle-of-Vietnam-war/ /)

Continue reading

Peace found inside middle of Vietnam War

(Part 1 of 2)
Recall a time when you felt calm and peaceful, even though the circumstances were not peaceful. Write down a description of that event, and describe how you were able to be calm in that situation. What was the source of this peacefulness if it didn’t come from outside? — Deepak Chopra 21-Day Meditation Experience (Day 3 — “Feeling Peace”)

I had led my platoon in Vietnam for several months. We had encountered several fire-fights, but no one was killed or injured, thank God. But, you never knew what the next day would bring and so we were on edge, on the ready so to speak for anything that might have endangered us. Continue reading

Truly Living May Just Be Worth Dying For

The thought of going to prison never bothered me. I’d survive and flourish behind bars where I’d have more than enough time to reflect and write which I have found is my true love in life.

No, I could kill without worrying about the consequences. It would be my first offense. I am certified as a Vietnam veteran with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and I don’t see any judge or jury putting me to death for the crime.

All of this went through my mind when I was waiting at the train platform and a rather tall, white guy walked in front of me. I was standing near the tracks. I was close enough and in line with others stranding on either side of me that I never thought someone could make their way between me and the tracks. But the man did. He walked around me. He stood directly in front of me. No one else stood that close. I recall thinking how totally inappropriate and rude his actions were.

That’s when I planned to kill him. Continue reading

Vietnam War veteran recalls his journey

Dealing with the Vietnam War becomes a little easier each time I write about it. I “desensitize” myself. I now see my actions as separate from the emotions I felt while a young soldier, as well as the feelings of guilt many veterans like me,  imposed on ourselves while readjusting to civilian life. It’s helpful when a high school student asks questions and you try to be honest and direct. Continue reading

Where is the boy I left home for the war?

I knew a boy

Who went to war

And left his home

Behind him.

I knew him well,

That boy was me

And now I cannot

Find him.

— A Vietnam veteran’s tweak of a World War II sailor’s song about war
(Photo of this young World War I “Doughboy” courtesy of greatwar.nl/oldsoldiers/lloydcleme… )

Pinned for a life above & beyond the call

While Neil Armstrong was taking a giant leap for all mankind, I had taken a small step toward adulthood one month after the moon landing, and I had no one to thank for it except my brother, who encouraged me to aim for the stars in becoming an officer and a gentleman in the Army of the United States of America. Continue reading

Tattoo Tests Tale to Tell the Truth

A tattoo can readily identify someone, and sometimes one can become the key to the guilt or innocence of a man facing the wrath of a woman he may have wronged. Continue reading

Omega opens doors to lost PTSD veterans

I didn’t want to go back to Omega Institute this year. Each time I travelled to this land of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle, I’d get high from the holistic experience. But then I’d change into an Ichabod Crane feeling chased by the Headless Horseman who’d tell true life stories that caused so much pain I couldn’t hold it inside. Continue reading

Need not battle to understand war horrors

When I heard the song  “Still in Saigon” the other day, I could have sworn a Vietnam veteran had written about his flashbacks and a need to process what was unprocessed as a young man.

Little did I know that the writer never set foot in Southeast Asia, let alone serve in the military. That got me wondering about the performing arts and how someone who never experienced war could capture its long-term effects on those who faced combat. Continue reading

Exercise Gets Me Higher, Step by Step

I get such a high while exercising that I can’t imagine why I haven’t done this more often in life. Continue reading

Seeing a Veteran’s’ History Never Repeats

Do yourself a favor. Keep an eye out for a vet.

Actively seek out someone in your church, synagogue or temple and befriend him so that what happened in Philadelphia last week never happens again. Continue reading

No where to go but up after looking down

The damn branch broke my concentration. I had not planned for an overhanging tree limb to block the pathway walking three-quarters of a mile from my home to the train station with my head facing my feet the entire time. But I was ordered by an eye doctor to lean my head all the way toward the ground 50 out of 60 minutes of each hour for seven straight days. Continue reading

Resolve to stop anger from feeding on me

Anger. It hits like a poison arrow causing me to drop what I’m doing and focus on the pain it inflicts. Continue reading

Reaching Higher In Women’s Company

I love women. I’ll take them in all shapes and sizes, the old and the young, the rich and the poor.

If it wasn’t for women, I — and a lot of guys I know — wouldn’t even be here! Continue reading

Open my Vessel for ALL Lights to Shine

Thank God for Buddhism. What’s that you say? I can’t have one in, and of, the other?

Are you telling this red-blooded American veteran that I cannot follow the teachings of the Buddha and still believe in the God of Abraham? Continue reading

Remembering warriors of all ages

“Warriors have been rewarded for their service or their families have been provided support, since the beginning of organized society. From the veterans of Egypt in the third millennium B.C. through the Crusaders of medieval Europe, to veterans of today, governments have compensated their military personnel or their survivors, for loss of life, wounds, injuries, or length of service in defense of the state. Continue reading

War is never the answer 11-11-11

On this Veterans Day, 11-11-11, what would you tell yourself if you could go back in time and greet that young man recently returned home from the war?

War is never the answer, but only a failure on all sides to reach an answer. Continue reading

A noble banker needs to occupy here

Is there a noble banker in the world? Only someone in the lending business who sees his calling as a “service for the people,” I believe, could correct past abuses and recommend changes for, and in the best interests of, us “99 percenters.” Continue reading

These are true signs of our times

When I read the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators were unfocused and without a coherent message, I took a closer look at them in Philadelphia, and disvovered some were disheveled street persons looking for handouts, and one a graduate school political science major spouting Marxist teachings.

They represented only one percent.

The 99 percent of the other protestors were mostly young, highly educated unemployed or underemployed men and women who got tired of the debt-ceiling fiasco and took to the streets to mobilize against the Tea Party followers. Continue reading

Choosing Death So Others May Live

Eight Tibetan Buddhist monks set themselves on fire to protest the Chinese occupation of their country. They took  their own lives when soldiers of the army set up quarters in Tibetan monasteries.

How could anyone do such a thing?

They must have been in intense pain. Or, they were offering overwhelming love. Continue reading

End needless suffering in US debates

Tone it down America. You are cutting off your nose to despite your face. The face of the body politic, that is, and we are creating needless hurt for the countrymen we’d like to lead to our mutual goal: the pursuit of happiness. Continue reading

WHY I AM A DEMOCRAT

Why am I a Democrat?

I was born this way. No, that’s not right. I was raised this way. No, that’s not quite right either. I chose to be a Democrat. Continue reading

You man a job right, job’ll right the man

Jobs have a way of defining us. We become “the job” or rather grow into what we perceive to be the “ideal performer” of that job. Whether we like it or. The job. Or ourselves. Continue reading

Don Quixote battles PTSD in Philly courts

I never felt more like Don Quixote than when I represented a woman charged with a crime.

And while I didn’t want it, I’d feel called to “champion” her, even when it cost me my reputation, my sanity and my very career as a trial attorney. Continue reading

PTSD creates new ‘Cause and Condition’

Causes and conditions.

That’s what life is all about. Causes and conditions. The sooner I realize this, the easier it will be to reach enlightenment.  Continue reading

Light shines here from a tip of the candle

‘Veterans are the light at the tip of the candle,’ illuminating the way for the whole nation.

If veterans can achieve awareness, transformation, understanding, and peace, they can share with the rest of society the realities of war.

And they can teach us how to make peace with ourselves and each other, so we never have to use violence to resolve conflicts again.

Thich Nhat Hanh