Rodney …

Korea leads me to Rodney Collins.  Rodney was the brother of my best friend Marcellus Collins (from 1970 until he died around 2002).  Marcellus was from Dania, Florida — outside of Miami.  His Uncle was Wester Sweet, one of the first  African American attorneys in Santa Clara County.

In 1971 Rodney came through San Jose, CA. He had been deployed to South Korea and in 1974 Rodney was Honorably discharged from the U.S. Army. See, Rodney’s “claim to fame” will be that he was one of the last men to have been drafted by the U.S.  His number came up.  The draft was eliminated a few days later.

He served in South Korea.  He told me the day he hit San Jose, CA,  over too many beers, that all he and the others were in South Korea were canon fodder. If anything happened, everyone knew (and he knew for certain) that he was dead.  With my mother’s nephew’s experience, Rodney’s experience shapes my viewpoint of Korea. That thought leads me to the ship wrecks the U.S. Navy has had over the past months.  South Korea, North Korea and the U.S.

I served in the U.S. Navy. I chose that branch of the service as a matter of survival after being drafted. I figured I’d have a higher probability of surviving warfare in the U.S. Navy, more than the U.S. Marines and definitely the U.S. Army. Alas, for me, the armed forces lived up to their reputation as being a place where you’re going to get screwed over.  The reputation was that the recruiter will promise you what you say you want, but that means absolutely nothing.  So, from my perspective, I believed nothing. And, sure enough … although I always wanted to serve on a ship, I never did. That’s right, three years + in the U.S. Navy and I never set foot on a war ship.

I met guys who did. The best ship, I was told, was an aircraft carrier. ‘It’s a city,’ one of my shipmates said. ‘You can get anything you want on a carrier. Dangerous, too. But, the galley is always open.’

There were stories about guys who didn’t get along. Racists or simply real jerks. Sometimes, they just disappeared. “Fell overboard,” I was told. Fantale. Nobody knew anything or saw anything, except the guy wasn’t accounted for when the muster occurred.  The narrative was much like the stories of Fragging ROTC gung-ho order adventurers who everyone in the platoon knew was out to get everyone killed.

All of that gets me to the games played at sea. Sometimes, the game is chicken: who is going to change course based on what maritime rule is in effect and who is going to disregard it.

This year I had to tell a cop, tactfully, that he didn’t know what he was talking about in condemning Obama’s “weak” response to Russian aggression at sea. He was talking loudly to another cop about Obama. The cop’s patriotism was glowing red. And, overhearing his insults,  I asked him what he knew about being on a warship, and whether or not he’d served in the armed forces or on the open seas.

I had to let him understand he was ignorant of reality. I ended my conversation by letting him know what I heard from those who did: “They’re always playing chicken.”

What does that have to do with Rodney Collins?  Nothing, really, except the tensions over North Korean and the collision of two U.S. Navy destroyers (latest and greatest multi-million dollar war machines) makes me wonder exactly what’s going on?

My perspective, as a civilian without any maritime experience, is that the U.S. Navy captains must have been anticipating the behavior of other ships, and acting accordingly. That means some assumptions were made. And, as you know to assume is to make and “ass” our of “u” and “me.”

What I don’t understand is that with all the technology, the computing power and radars and personal watch or observations, how collision was not anticipated.

Sure, there are currents, wind, mechanical response or failure unforeseen at the time and other stresses. Still, collision avoidance must be fundamental to the operation of a vessel. In warfare, their are both enemy and friendly vessels that will be encountered. There must be a way to keep track (regardless of the number of vessels) and know friend from foe, and avoid unintended collisions.

So, the question, operationally is: What in hell happened? And, how did it happen a second time? There must be something related to operations and tactics used in the operation that is common to both collisions of the destroyers. After all, a destroyer is the fastest, most maneuverable and lethal weapons of naval warfare.

These are serious questions I think will be answered in time.  I thought about these matters in relationship to North and South Korea, geopolitical entities I can always look at and point to as examples of human insanity and proclivities.

The “north” hates the “south.” “White” hates “black.”  “Heterosexual” hates “homosexual.”  “English” hate “Spanish.” “Catholics” hate “Protestants.” “Arabs” hate “Jews.” Any and every excuse to hate and kill exists.  It doesn’t matter. Factor our one noun and somebody will find another reason to hate and kill. “Red” versus “Blue.” Someone will always find something to fight over and draw the line in the sands of time.

I write all of this looking at Trump’s conduct and wondering  who will get this all under control.



My mother had a sister, whom she called “Sissy,” I believe. Or he could have been Aunt Pearl’s son.   In any event, one of her sisters had a son, a Nephew.  Last name: Stallworth. Mom told me he’d been in the Army. There were always members of my family who’d served. Uncle B.C., Big Cousin, Reggie, Johnny A. Stallworth, Adolphus Stallworth.

On my father’s side was his brother (that’s Benjamin Caldwell (aka “B.C.”), Johnny Boy King and a couple of others I don’t know, forgot or who otherwise related (there’s a bunch, I assure you).

My mother had always talked to me about things.  White people … what they’d done … could do.  She’d call relatives back in St. Louis.  She’d have me talk to them … her sisters and cousins.  Sometimes she told me about one of her nephews.  She told me about Stallworth and that he’d served in the war and got shot.

She told me her nephew was coming to visit us one day.  And, I was going to meet him. I was thrilled and honored with disbelief to actually meet a man who had been in battle, who had got a Purple Heart. The day for his arrival came. I waited for him anxiously, walking around the house, opening the front door. It seemed like hours passed.

I was just about to walk outside after opening the door for the upteenth time, when there he was walking in the gate, with a gold tipped can, one leg bent and stiff. Nice suit and tie, gentlemanly, with nice shoes.

Sitting on the couch with inches between us, he told me of being a machine gunner with other guys in a fox hole with bunkers in front facing the enemy line.  He said they were coming in waves. “Human waves,” I thought, remembering with my father told me. The strategy was to have more people killed than the enemy had bullets. That’s how they fought. I listened intensely to him, sitting on that old red corduroy couch.

The machine guns used were air cooled. That meant when rounds were fired rapidly, the heat from the explosion of gunpowder would cause the barrel to heat up. When it became too hot, you can get premature ignition and misfire and jam. Thus, there were multiple (two) barrels and asbestos gloves. A cool barrel would be substituted for the useless one to keep firing.

‘They came so fast and so many, the barrel that was hot and useless had not cooled down before the one being used glowed red hot.’ He tried to change the barrel with the cooling one, but the heat from the hot barrel seared through the glove.

‘They kept coming.’

I asked, “Did the machine gun work at all?”

He told me it didn’t, even with the cooler barrel.  It didn’t have time to cool down.

“Did you have a M-1?”  He said, yes.  But, too many of them kept coming.

“Did you have a 45?”

He just looked down moving his head side-to-side, indicating it was no use. The other guns didn’t help at all.  He continued: ‘They kept coming.’

He surmised it must have been a grenade or a mortar.  Hew didn’t really know.  Then he said, “The last thing I remember, I saw one-half of my buddy coming down, sliding towards me.

After a brief while, he said … ‘The next thing I remember was a bunch of men’ he told me.  ‘I didn’t know what they were speaking … words … and then one came in a sort of uniform standing over me.  He saw my wedding ring and wanted it. He grabbed my left hand and tried to pull it off and it would come off. Then, he took a machete and whacked off fingers including the one with the ring, took the ring.  I blacked out.

‘The next thing I remember is being in Heaven. The most beautiful White woman was there, looking at me. Long blonde hair. Actually, I thought she was an angel, and all angles look like that.’  He put his head back, chuckling.

‘I was in a hospital, and had come-to. I was in Guam in a hospital.’ He laughed and laughed about that.

He stayed with us a few hours. He showed me his medal, but quickly put it away not wanting to have it distracting the visit.  He told me other things, most of them I can’t remember. Staying in school … getting educated and never be on the ground, he said. “If you got to go.”

Soon, he asked Mom to call a Yellow Cab, saying he had to leave. We asked him to stay, but, he was on schedule and had to continue on his journey.

I looked him up a couple of years ago. Just put in Stallworth, Alabama.  I found him.  It’s a long road: Keep the love, brothers and sisters.  Fight on!  Who I am is but a reflection of what he said and what my uncles, aunts and cousins have done.


The Righteous Fight or How to Not Lose

From a man with a sixth grade education:

  1. Never start a fight in another man’s neighborhood.  He knows the alleys better than you (since he lives there)
  2. Never jump into a fight between closely related relatives (brothers, cousins or uncles, boy friends versus girl friends, vice versa). They will both turn on you.
  3. Do any and everything you can to avoid fighting. Running away is not an act of cowardice, but wisdom.  And always avoid or evade (to the extent humanly possible) physical confrontation.
  4. Do not routinely carry a weapon to be used for deadly confrontation. If you have a weapon on your person, you will likely believe and subconsciously be motivated to use it, rather than seeking an alternative to the use of deadly force (see # 3). Above all, it will prevent “pre-emptive” use of force, that results in unintended consequences of misjudgement. If ever alcohol is out, being served or drank, leave! Bad misunderstandings have occurred among best friends.
  5. If you must fight, being without escape or without any other choice, fight with all your life to win and use any and everything at hand to survive and defeat the enemy.

Those are the rules of life taught me by my father, Charlie Estus Ezell Channel, Sr.  I have found that the application of those principles personally and in the political realm is the best standard of morality and justification for the use of deadly force, in any situation.


Note:  If George W. Bush had applied such common sense (that a man with only a sixth grade education, who picked cotton in the fields of Texas at the age of 4 did), the unintended consequences and meaningless loss of life and wasted sacrifice would have been obviated.

So, now, Mr. Trump has decided to violate common sense.  Let me be clear:  If the Russians got their asses kicked in Afghanistan, where the lines of logistics were shorter and there was less concern about collateral damage, What in the name of security is the so-called “leader” of the free world, and his ilk, thinking?


Make Life!

Terrorist need know this:

The more life you take, the more life we make. The pain that you cause only amplifies love, for each person (man or woman) knows that’s all that matters and it’s a gift from above.  It’s a gift terror can’t take. Terror makes more people than can be killed by the sickness of violence that makes them ill.

There are more of us than they. And, that’s why we shall stay.

The Ace of Spades, The King of Hearts to Heather

Truth is the Ace of Spades
Love is the King of Hearts
Life is the Gift of Being
Talk is the Voice of Thinking
Trump is a Card called Luck
Superstitiously Passing the Buck
Light is the Will to Duck
Time is the Tribute to Made by
Blood is Debt Paid
Killing Failures to See
Freedom, Equality, Decree