At dawn, Friday, August 30, 1968, I woke inside my cockroach-infested hooch at LZ Betty, sixteen miles south of the Demilitarized Zone, to go on my twenty-second and last patrol. I was the sergeant and team leader of a five-man long-range reconnaissance patrol (LRRP, or “Lurp”) assigned to the First Cavalry Division’s First Brigade, whose area of operation was from Quang Tri City, near the coast of South Vietnam, to the heavily forested mountains out west, halfway to Laos.
It was my fifth grade at Bennett Elementary School in Detroit. I seldom went to school and when I did, I rarely cooperated. The teachers would make me sit in the hall or send me to the library just to get rid of me. I hated school and I didn't respect the teachers or students who participated in what seemed like a culturally-imposed prison, so I found a way to punish my jailers.
Deputy Inspector Jellyfish owned a major police equipment and uniform distribution center in Metropolitan Detroit and because of that he was given the rank of deputy inspector in our department without attending a police academy or having any scout car experience. With no shortage of cash, Jellyfish rode his own Harley Davidson complete with lights and siren and would strut around our station wearing brown motorcycle britches, gold helmet, and a 6 inch barreled Colt Python strapped to his waist, perhaps thinking that long barrel and six powerful .357 rounds in the cylinder portrayed something he didn't have in his britches.
I was sitting on the roof of my house the other day looking at the setting sun, thinking that the Earth at my latitude is rotating on its axis at 750 miles per hour in an eastward direction as our planet is sailing in space 20 miles per second to the west.
On Monday, February 10, 1975, my partner, Ken Crowley, and I were assigned to a sixteen-square-mile area in the City of Romulus, a large suburb ten miles southwest of Detroit. Romulus’s most noteworthy attribute, other than hotels and crime, is that it surrounds Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Every shift, four sheriff’s cars patrolled the city, and Ken and I were working the eleven p.m.‑seven a.m. shift.
Saint John Rescue is a vast organization of highly skilled volunteers and professionals. In Ontario, Canada, and many other places around the world, they provide ambulance service, rescue lost hikers, and promote water safety. Each year, they help thousands of people and save hundreds of lives. But one bright Wednesday morning, August 25, 1993, in Niagara Falls, they did something else entirely.
I love doughnuts! Especially big cream-filled ones covered with powdered sugar. And that’s exactly what I was having, while chatting with Joe Porcarelli, the owner of Amy Joy Donuts on Michigan Avenue in Dearborn, when I glanced outside and saw a raggedy blue Chevy with a defective brake light pull up next to my scout car.
On April 9, 1966, I stood in formation by the three red and white 250-foot steel-girder jump towers at Fort Benning, Georgia. It was a warm Saturday afternoon, and I had just completed Airborne School after making five static-line jumps at 1,250 feet from a twin-tailed C-119 Flying Boxcar in Alabama. My sergeant handed me my orders and a small pair of silver-plated jump wings, shook my hand, and said, “Good luck!
I had worked this location before as an undercover narcotics officer on a motorcycle. It wasn’t difficult to find people selling marijuana, LSD, or heroin. Overdoses weren’t all that uncommon in the park. Neither were gang rapes. It was the early 1970s, and the drug culture was in full swing, with violent crime and property crime soaring nearly fivefold in the past ten years. People from my age group were self-destructing every day.