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A Portland Area Veteran Remembers His Service: 12/12/21
© 2022 James LaFond
Ken is about 70, looks younger and wears his black Vietnam U.S. Marine Corp Cap on a close hair cut not far removed from his youth. His wife is an Amerindian lady who is close friends with Haida, two sweet quiet women who like to sit in a place that is not too noisy, not rowdy, and have a few drinks, and then a few more. Haida invites the gray-maned hoodrat to sit at the low table and introduces him. He sits between her and Ken, across from Jane. Ken shows him pictures on his smart phone of Jane and him when they met as high school sweet hearts in the 1960s.
The ladies go outside on the covered deck to smoke, Mister Lee, the owner, quite a pool shark, shoots a solo game over in the corner, never missing a shot. The zombies behind them click on the gambling machines. Every working class bar in Portland seeming to be part casino-mart. Even diners in Portland have gambling machines.
Amy and Mister Lee, no fan of dogs, permit, of canine kind, only BeeBee, the hybrid black Jack Russel dog in her sweater, Ken’s long-time companion, to enter the bar. The little 17-pound dignitary sits in a chair between Ken and Jane, occasionally visits Haida for specific shoulder petting and eyes the gray-maned hoodrat across the large round table between her favorite humans, with some concern.
Amy brings a plate of meet balls for the hoodrat, his twice weekly dinner, and BeeBee’s opinion of him improves, and is confirmed when Ken is provided a meatball for her. BeeBee, the sweater-wearing dog, has just admitted another human to her inner circle and sits back and permits Ken to speak of his service with a fellow pallid ape.
The Marine carriers are about the size of a cruiser. The ones they have now even have ramps for the amphibious transports to take the armored vehicles ashore.
[An inventory of the number and types of helicopters Ken worked on as a Gunny Sergeant of Marine Corp air frame mechanics are listed, including 4 harrier jets, which dizzies the addled mind of the low-tech pedestrian. There is a specific huge chopper, that seems as big almost as a Chinook that gains his interest. Its designation is forgotten.]
I call everything an airplane. I’ve worked on everything the Corp used and have had to interface with Air Force and Navy operations. This thing here, back in Nam, would only carry 8, almost a squad, because of the negative air pressure caused by the humidity. You have to carefully cage the weight to lift ratio, balance the airplane and do your atmospheric calculations. We had stupid sheets we called them so that what is essentially a flying bucket remains in flight.
[Ken shows a modern version that he worked on as a contractor in his second career.]
Now this thing here can haul fifty men and I’ve seen them hoisting a tank.
[Pulls up another photo, in which Ronald Reagan comes down out of Marine One…]
This was my last job before I retired. This was my most satisfying assignment. I really disliked being a Drill Instructor—it’s all show, academy award. I liked working on the machines, worked with a lot of first class men. I went up to E-9, that’s all they have. Officer’s Candidate School I did.
[Looks far and away at the wall.]
But I wanted a second career and chose to retire. Working on Marine One over in Europe, acquiring the in-theater air planes, that was challenging and satisfying. Back in the states, we always had two back ups within 8 minutes flight time. We were based down in Quantico, but that’s 20 minutes away.
[Smiled ironically to himself.]
Had thoughts, ideas, about what I would do for a second career. My second career turned out to be the exact same thing. I did a lot of work weighing the air frames and adjusting the weight distribution, certifying them for lift.
Deago Garcia is near the equator and is an awesome facility. we don’t just have B-52s there. There are silos. The flight to Oman is rough, a long flight, and then you get the speech about behaving yourself.
I’ve done a lot of work on C-130s. There is a newer version [having given up getting the paleolithic man to understand airplane designations] that I worked on in [a forgotten town] Maryland. This thing was really heavy and I had to get into the fusellage [tried five spellings, sorry, Ken] with a plumb bob. But, even though I had security clearance, it was not high enough. It was packed with cabinets, like refrigerators. I suppose it was some kind of electronic warfare mission.
[Ken brought the hoodrat a beer and nodded to the two ladies returning from the patio…]
I’m basically serving the same function here, make sure the transport works, get the subject to the operation zone and coordinate the refueling. In the Marines we used the C-130 for refueling, mostly. I was on Desert One.
It wasn’t the sand. It was the Navy. You are supposed to run these things for a half hour every day, take them up and fly them. There they were, sitting in those hangars for six months in the Indian Ocean and we could not take them up to keep them running, not even at night, not when he might want to send up a jet.
We had already aborted mission and one group was destroying computers off and away, when we got refueled and took off. [names sergeant] Those men were under my care. I gave him his orders and we began to lift off and his airplane hit the tale of that C-130 and spun it around like this and they all went up, fuel, air crews, Delta Force. It was horrible.
[Reaches to his left and pets BeeBee. ]
So I have my comfort dog here.
America the Future
harm city to chicongo
‘What Do You Tell People You Meet?’
the combat space
honor among men
fiction anthology one
menthol rampage
the gods of boxing
the fighting edge
masculine axis
Ken Logue     Mar 28, 2022

What a flattering article, thank you
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