Category Archives: Uncategorized

Thomas Kelley (Navy, Vietnam)

 

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This photo was taken at one of the events during the week I was volunteering. When I think of Thomas Kelley, the words “humble” and “calm” come to mind.

The following citation gives you the reason he was awarded the Medal of Honor but the video at the end gives you a bit of a feel for who he is as a person.  His humility was obvious in person and it shows in the video as well.  It made me enjoy being around him very much.

Citation

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in the afternoon while serving as commander of River Assault Division 152 during combat operations against enemy aggressor forces. Lt. Comdr. (then Lt.) Kelley was in charge of a column of 8 river assault craft which were extracting 1 company of U.S. Army infantry troops on the east bank of the Ong Muong Canal in Kien Hoa province, when 1 of the armored troop carriers reported a mechanical failure of a loading ramp. At approximately the same time, Viet Cong forces opened fire from the opposite bank of the canal. After issuing orders for the crippled troop carrier to raise its ramp manually, and for the remaining boats to form a protective cordon around the disabled craft, Lt. Comdr. Kelley realizing the extreme danger to his column and its inability to clear the ambush site until the crippled unit was repaired, boldly maneuvered the monitor in which he was embarked to the exposed side of the protective cordon in direct line with the enemy’s fire, and ordered the monitor to commence firing. Suddenly, an enemy rocket scored a direct hit on the coxswain’s flat, the shell penetrating the thick armor plate, and the explosion spraying shrapnel in all directions. Sustaining serious head wounds from the blast, which hurled him to the deck of the monitor, Lt. Cmdr. Kelley disregarded his severe injuries and attempted to continue directing the other boats. Although unable to move from the deck or to speak clearly into the radio, he succeeded in relaying his commands through 1 of his men until the enemy attack was silenced and the boats were able to move to an area of safety. Lt. Comdr. Kelley’s brilliant leadership, bold initiative, and resolute determination served to inspire his men and provide the impetus needed to carry out the mission after he was medically evacuated by helicopter. His extraordinary courage under fire, and his selfless devotion to duty sustain and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

 

 

Summer Sunshine courtesy of R. Alvarado

On the last day of summer, I thought I’d bring you something lighthearted and fun…and just a little spicy.  As you know, I love the pin up genre and one of my favorite modern artists is Robert Alvarado.  He creates some lovely images and many of them are the in the military tribute or patriotic themes I love.  He’s got some great examples of fit girls showing a little love for America. If you like the examples of his work I posted here, you may want to visit him on Facebook or Model Mayhem to see more.

https://www.facebook.com/Robert-Alvarado-Photographer-162114487181780/

http://www.modelmayhem.com/alvarado

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Happy last day of summer!!

 

 

Medal of Honor

For those who may not know, the Medal of Honor is the United States of America’s highest and most prestigious personal military decoration that may be awarded to recognize U.S. military service members who distinguished themselves by acts of valor.

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There are three versions the medal that may be awarded. The one in the center is for Air Force recipients, the one on the right for Navy and Marine Corps recipients and the one on the left for Army recipients.

Last week I traveled out of town in order to serve as a volunteer at a meeting of about 40 of our Medal of Honor recipients.  I found out about a year ago that they were planning a get together in Colorado.  As luck would have it, I have relatives there that live close enough to the meeting place to allow me to stay and work there for a few days.

As an aside, I want to know why airplane seats are so tiny.  I’m a small person, thank goodness, and even I’m squished trying to sit comfortably.  Oh well, that’s a rant for another day.

During the week, security was very tight.  I saw law enforcement professionals of all types…city police, bomb squad guys, men from the sheriffs office, private security companies and I even had a long chat at one of the events with a Department of Wildlife officer.  Once we were officially checked in each morning, however, we could socialize freely with the Medal of Honor recipients and their families as long we were taking care of our duties.  Since I originally started off on the Reservation Committee and that job was done when the meeting began, I didn’t have hard assignments but served as a floater helping out whenever I was needed.  Typically, I walked around making sure the recipients, their wives, children and guests were having a good time.  It was an easy job because they were all very pleasant and easy to please.

I can say, without reservation, that I had a fantastic time.  It was a wonderful thing to be part of.  The recipients had many events that were planned strictly for their entertainment but they also had quite a few community outreach opportunities that they took full advantage of.  They made visits to local schools and made sure that members of the public who wanted to meet them (and who planned ahead) would have a chance to do so.  As a group, they were gracious, energetic, kind, funny…and a we bit ornery.  As one would expect, they had minds of their own and trying to get them from one place to another, even if it was just from a reception tent into the main building was like herding cats but that’s where my years of teaching came in handy.  I’m pretty good at moving groups of people around. 

I was so happy to see the outpouring of love from everyone for our Medal of Honor recipients.  Everywhere they went last week, they were showered with appreciation, gifts, kind words and gratitude…exactly as they should be.  I was delighted for them and their families but it also hardened my resolve.  It made me even more committed to seeing that our veterans who don’t enjoy the same level of public acknowledgment, know they are appreciated too.  I want every last one of them to have the spotlight of recognition shined upon them by the American public.  I’m only one person but I’ve taken that as my mission. Every veteran in my sphere will hear at least one sincere, personal “thank you” from me and I’ll keep volunteering my services in the community for veteran’s causes.    

I don’t have a lot of photos to share since I was supposed to be working and contributing, not standing around taking photos but I do have a few from one of the events where it was appropriate to have your picture taken with the recipients.  Over the next little while, I’ll post some of those and relay how the recipient in the photo earned their Medal of Honor.

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This was a photo taken by one of the professional photographers who was on hand to record the events. That’s Brian Thacker, MOH recipient, telling amusing stories to me and a fellow volunteer. I sure had my schoolteacher persona going there, didn’t I?  Since first seeing the Medal of Honor, I’ve always wanted to touch one.  Brian kindly gave me that opportunity.

Brian Miles Thacker

Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Battery A, 1st Battalion, 92d Artillery. Place and date: Kontum Province, Republic of Vietnam, 31 March 1971. Entered service at: Salt Lake City, Utah. Born: 25 April 1945, Columbus, Ohio.

Citation

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. 1st Lt. Thacker, Field Artillery, Battery A, distinguished himself while serving as the team leader of an Integrated Observation System collocated with elements of two Army of the Republic of Vietnam units at Fire Base 6. A numerically superior North Vietnamese Army force launched a well-planned, dawn attack on the small, isolated, hilltop fire base. Employing rockets, grenades, flame-throwers, and automatic weapons, the enemy forces penetrated the perimeter defenses and engaged the defenders in hand-to-hand combat. Throughout the morning and early afternoon, 1st Lt. Thacker rallied and encouraged the U.S. and Republic of Vietnam soldiers in heroic efforts to repulse the enemy. He occupied a dangerously exposed observation position for a period of 4 hours while directing friendly air strikes and artillery fire against the assaulting enemy forces. His personal bravery and inspired leadership enabled the outnumbered friendly forces to inflict a maximum of casualties on the attacking enemy forces and prevented the base from being overrun. By late afternoon, the situation had become untenable. 1st Lt. Thacker organized and directed the withdrawal of the remaining friendly forces. With complete disregard for his personal safety, he remained inside the perimeter alone to provide covering fire with his M-16 rifle until all other friendly forces had escaped from the besieged fire base. Then, in an act of supreme courage, he called for friendly artillery fire on his own position to allow his comrades more time to withdraw safely from the area and, at the same time, inflict even greater casualties on the enemy forces. Although wounded and unable to escape from the area himself, he successfully eluded the enemy forces for 8 days until friendly forces regained control of the fire base. The extraordinary courage and selflessness displayed by 1st Lt. Thacker were an inspiration to his comrades and are in the highest traditions of the military service.

Ernestine Shepherd

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Ernestine Shepherd! If she can do it, I can do it too.

I was looking through my favorite workout clothing catalogue (Athleta) and was surprised and delighted to see one of the legends of the bodybuilding world on the pages.  Ernestine Shepherd is an amazing, inspiring 81 years young.

In 2010, Ernestine earned the title of the world’s oldest performing female bodybuilder.  She isn’t currently competing but she weight trains 4 days a week and she runs up to 80 miles a week when she’s training for a marathon!

I sincerely enjoy watching her perform at such a high level and look forward to seeing news about her exploits when I’m reading my fitness magazines.  I love that she’s doing her thing in the gym (and on the road) even though she’s not a spring chicken.

I’m not exactly a spring chicken either.  One of the fantastic things about bodybuilding is that age doesn’t matter.  It’s not like being a fashion model where you’re thrown aside at 25 or 30 years old.  When it comes to the art of successful physique building, the older you are the more respect you get.  I think it’s because anyone involved in the community knows full well how hard you have to work and how diligent and dedicated you have to be in order to get good results.  That’s true whether you’re starting out at 15 or lifting into your 80’s like Ernestine.  When I’m in the gym, I’m as likely to get a sincere compliment from a 23 year old as I am from a 70 year old.  The longer you hang out in the fitness community the more pats on the back come your way…and that makes it a wonderful, welcoming place to practice your craft as you age.

Commando Man – Part two

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As you know from my post yesterday, I spent some time this weekend playing around on the internet.  I found my photo in a tattoo gallery and the caption writer was questioning whether I was a man going commando or a woman.  Apparently, it’s hard for some people to tell because I found another photo of mine posted on a different website.  The photo happened to be one of my favorites.  I was number 13 in the gallery titled, “21 American Flag Bikinis To Celebrate.”  The caption on the photo was quite nice…”Showing off the strength of America.”  What I really got a kick out of was the comment section.

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The last comment, that’s cut off in the screenshot was something like “What’s up with that dude?”  It seems the consensus was that I look like a man who maybe looks like Michelle Obama or something like that.  Was I upset?  Not at all.  I LOVE it.  I felt the same way I did when a lady asked me if I did manual labor for a living because my arms were so muscular.  I was amused…almost giddy with delight because it means my hard work is visible in the photo.  I know the aesthetic I prefer isn’t for everyone and it makes me happy to think that someone noticed the results of my dedication enough to call me “gross” or a “man.”  What’s the old expression?

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That’s right!  I must be over the target.  BRING. IT. ON.  The only bad part is that now I’m all revved up and wanting to pack more of that beautiful muscle on my frame.  My workouts have been incredible the last few days and consequently, my entire body is sore.  So sore.  If you see me hobbling down the street, I might not be able to raise my arm to wave to you but I know you’ll understand if I just smile!

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Commando Man – A Wish Come True

When you’re active on the internet, whether it’s blogging or posting on social media sites, you never know where your photos or writing will turn up.  People re-post things they find all the time so you have to be comfortable knowing your content will spread in  interesting and unusual ways.

I got all excited last weekend because as I was playing around on my Ipad I saw that one of my images was in the tattoo gallery at a place called the Tattoo Hut.  It was in a spot titled “List of Top Men Commando Tattoo Images.”  Now, I have to admit something that I have kept to myself until now.  I’ve always wanted to be a tattoo…or rather, I wanted someone to use one of my images as inspiration for a tattoo.  That might sound strange but it happens all the time.  People find ideas for new ink all over.  My interest in that type of tattoo is simply an extension of my love for the pin up genre.  True, the images people pick are often of celebrity women but there are lots of tattoos based on regular women too.

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Some are cartoon-y, some are more realistic, some are funny…and I love them all!  So I was looking forward to seeing what was in the tattoo gallery that had to do with a commando and me.

There were a total of 28 photos in the “List of Top Men Tattoo Images.”  Under the title heading was the line, exactly as written, “Here is the top Men Commando images we have.”  Because of the grammar on the site, I suspect it’s run by a non-native English speaker.  I was number 13 in the gallery.  The following are some of the other photos in the gallery with their captions.

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#2 Royal Marine Commando Dagger Tattoo First Forces…

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#16 Buff Royal Marines strip off in go commando charity calendar…

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#5 Mike Kagee fashion blog David McIntosh is a Royal Commando turned…

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#3 QOR Para Coy Tattoo

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#6 on the list

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Now for my photo – happy number 13 on the list.

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#13 Guys commando in sweats. Lady or the guy

Did you read the caption?  Did you?  That’s right.  They weren’t sure if I was a actually a woman or a man going commando in sweatpants.

No!  No! No, wish granters of the universe.  It wasn’t supposed to be me going commando, looking like a man, in a tattoo gallery.  It was supposed to be me as a tattoo on a “commando” (military/patriotic) man from America.  The basic elements were right but they were all mixed up.

I learned a valuable lesson over the weekend and I’m passing my newfound wisdom on to you.

You better be very, very specific when you wish for things!

**This post is not intended to slight the Royal Marine commandos in any way.  The very few Royal Marines I’ve had contact with were lovely but everybody knows I absolutely adore our American military men…

–Tune in tomorrow for the next installment in the Commando Man series —

 

Passing It On

My family and I spent a bit of time in the mountains around Independence Day.  It was a great trip and we were blessed to have friends and family for guests most of that time.

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Me with my boys. We celebrate Independence Day in grand style at my house!

One of my favorite young people, my 11 year old niece, came along for a few of those days.  When she walked into the cabin, she saw my pull up bar in one of the doorways and asked what it was for.  I told her it was what I used for one of my exercises and demonstrated pull ups using different grips so she could see what I was talking about.  She looked at me for a minute and said “I can’t do pull ups.”  I told her she most certainly could and that the only reason she couldn’t is that she thought she couldn’t.

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I explained that she probably only tried to use her arms to accomplish the task and explained that what she should be thinking about is using her back muscles (which are much stronger) to help her get her chest up to the bar.  I could tell she was contemplating that for a while.

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Yes, your biceps do work to get you up to the bar but your back is where your power is in this exercise.

The next day, my younger son and I were doing a workout.  We’ve been concentrating on compound, large muscle group exercises to help him make an easy transition into his upcoming football season and she asked to join us.  I told her that would be fine but pull ups were part of the routine and that she had to try.  She agreed and did a great job keeping up with what we were doing.  I modified some of the exercises for her (like having her do bent knee push ups) so that she’d be successful and before long, it was time for pull ups.  I told her once again that she absolutely COULD do pull ups and reminded her to visualize using the muscles in her back.

Lo and behold, she did not one, not two but three complete pull ups!  They weren’t consecutive but each one was perfect.  I gave her lots of praise and made sure that everyone knew about her little victory.  I was very proud of her and she was proud of herself.  I joked with her about getting her a pull up bar for Christmas and turning her into a workout phenom.

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Getting those pull ups done. She did three!

When it was time to go home, she looked at me very seriously and said, “Auntie Lynn…I really DO want a pull up bar for Christmas.”

…and a pull up bar, she shall receive!  There’s nothing I like better than passing on my love for fitness.

Independence Day – 2017

“Let the Fourth of July always be a reminder that here in this land, for the first time, it was decided that man is born with certain God-given rights; that government is only a convenience created and managed by the people, with no powers of its own except those voluntarily granted to it by the people.  We sometimes forget that great truth, and we never should.  Happy Fourth of July.” (Ronald Reagan)

Enjoy your day!

Independence Day

 

 

 

 

Wait…What’s my count?

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…And that about explains my current condition!  I think my face looked just like that when I was halfway through my morning walk with the dogs and I realized that I didn’t have my Fitbit on.  Until that moment, I hadn’t realized how much I’ve come to enjoy seeing my step count at the end of each day.  I often challenge myself to see if I can go farther each week, or how high I can get the count in a single day or hour.  It’s another great way to motivate me to stretch beyond my previous boundaries.  I just can’t forget to strap it on at the start of the day!

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My favorite walking companions. We get lots of steps in together!

 

How Do I Love Thee?

“I may not love you perfectly but you are perfectly loved.”

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When I was a teenager, I remember being annoyed with my dad.  I thought he should acknowledge my accomplishments more than he did.  He wasn’t one for giving compliments and I found myself pouting over that issue more than once.  I wanted him to give me verbal praise for things.  I wanted him to tell me he was happy with my performance on the track, or on the balance beam or that he loved the character development I achieved in the school play, but that just wasn’t his way and it made me mad.

It made me mad until I had a realization one day.  I figured out that it wasn’t my dad who had the problem, it was me!  My father showed me each and every day that he loved me and he let me know that in ways small and large. He often made little folded airplanes for me out of matchbook covers because they amused me.  When he had a bag of pecans, he’d patiently crack open and clean one nut for me each time he cracked one for himself and he ate my Lima beans without telling my mom because he knew I hated them. He worked tirelessly and without complaint so that my sister and I had the material things we needed (and some we didn’t but just wanted). A huge chunk of his paycheck went to the Hamlin School for Girls…an academically challenging, private school in San Francisco.  He let us buy books and magazines whenever we wanted.  He never said “No” to reading material, be it comic books or my very own encyclopedia set (which I enjoyed immensely especially on rainy weekends).  I had tap dancing lessons, ballet lessons, horseback riding lessons, tennis lessons and swimming lessons. My dad took the family everywhere he traveled because he wanted us to experience other places, people and cultures.  In other words, he was a great dad but I chose to focus on the one thing he didn’t do…give verbal compliments.

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My dad and I. I think I was about 4 in this photo.

Once I gained the insight to look at the whole picture and to take what he gave me with gratitude, I was a much happier girl.  It changed our relationship for the better since I was no longer childishly demanding he do something entirely foreign to his nature.  I opened my own heart and suddenly, I could see what I should have all along…that I was always loved and always appreciated whether he gave words to it or not.

It’s a lesson I’ve carried through all the rest of my life.  People love you in the way that’s most natural to them.  It’s a waste of time to fret over the things they don’t do (like bring you flowers) if can see that they show you appreciation in other ways (like happily fixing your car when it’s broken).  Sometimes you can make your own happiness by simply adjusting your own perspective. 

*One year, my dad started going to McDonald’s constantly.  He hated the food there but ordered his Happy Meal and dutifully ate the thing several times a week.  One day my older son who was about 3 at the time said “Grandpa sure does love McDonalds.”  I smiled and said “No, he sure does love YOU.”  He was going to McDonald’s and ordering Happy Meals in order to collect the toys included in meal.  He was on a quest to get each and every Teeny Beanie Baby in the collection since he found out his precious grandson liked them.  Now that’s love!

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My dad, my older son (who is now 19) and Matt the dog.

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