Military

Good News!

November 7th, 2014 at 1:57 pm by under Community, Health, Military, News, Personalities, Uncategorized

      It just occurred to me that this could be a great space for some good news. And I think I’ve found one great source: the military. Every other day it seems I receive an email-news release from a military communications person trumpeting an accomplishment of a local member of the armed forces.  To be honest I had not given the emails much thought because, er, um, uh, because,  I-we, had more pressing matters – BREAKING NEWS!!!  TODAY’S BIG CRIME, or what I call- the “FREAK OF THE WEEK!”  Spotlighting a local kid doing his job just didn’t register in the fog of the daily news battle to find the BEST STORY I can.  

      But when I looked this picture, it just happened to occur to me- this IS  a great story. A kid, 2 years out of high school and, at times, thousands of miles away, is making his parents proud, by doing his job exceptionally well. BUT ALSO, this is a picture of two African American men in the “news,”  and they haven’t committed a crime!    Work with me now, on this Friday, as I look back on the news week. I’ve reported on the Virginia man accused of kidnapping a Philadephia woman- black; the Heather Graham suspect-black; and about a dozen other would-be criminals AND VICTIMS – all black males. Then, I check my email, pop open the attachment and VOILA! Two smiling faces-and they haven’t committed any crimes!!  Here are the details from the NAVY writer:  (Oct. 30, 2014) – “Airman Corey J. Jefferson (right), a native of Chesapeake, Virginia, and 2012 graduate of Kings Fork High School, received the award for Bluejacket of the Quarter aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) , Oct. 30. 141030-N-KL846-044

uss makin island

                “The Bluejacket of the Quarter (BJOQ) award recognizes the achievements of a Sailor between the ranks of E-1 to E-3. With approximately 1,200 Sailors aboard Makin Island, there were many within that range vying for the honor. ”It means a lot to me,” Jefferson said. “I am glad I get to represent the ship as the BJOQ. Jefferson is responsible for many of the ship’s pumps and equipment that provide clean, clear and bright JP-5 fuel to the aircraft, assault vehicles and support equipment. “I have a lot of fun doing my job. The people I work with make me want to come to work each day,” he said. Jefferson joined the Navy following in the footsteps of his father and his step-father, a machinist’s mate first class petty officer and damage controlman chief petty officer, respectively. ”Growing up seeing my Dad advance in the military gave me the drive to want to follow in what he did for his country,” said Jefferson. Jefferson is now looking to gain more experience and gain rank while taking advantage of the military’s educational opportunities. Makin Island, the flagship the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), and the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), are currently deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. For more news from USS Makin Island (LHD 8), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd8/.”  Corey Jefferson’s story follows a day after another great story that just so happened to involve the military-doing-good, and- African Americans.Don Roberts Unsung Hero Awards (22)Take a look at all these smiling faces. More about them all on my Facebook page. But, let me key you in on the guy to the left of the two beautiful ladies.  Back in November 1979, Bob Walters was a coast guard enlisted man stationed in Alaska. He and two others responded to a distress call. A ship with about 90 people on board had run aground and was in danger of sinking while being battered by high waves and wind. He and the crew went above and beyond to save dozens of lives. The tall gentleman to the right of the lady in blue, former USMC Master Sergeant Maurice Williams, was a SNIPER- during three tours of Viet Nam. His military colleagues say he had undocumented “kills” that put him in the league with the Marine Corps elite. And that, while he survived being shot, taken POW(tortured, shattered several vertebrae and a hip), Agent Orange exposure, prostate cancer, AND P-T-S-D!  Both Williams and Walters were among those honored in the SUNTRUST (BANK) “UNSUNG HEROES AWARDS” program at NAUTICUS.  Thank you, SUNTRUST, NAUTICUS, CBRE, and, the MILITARY, for the good news. 

 


Doubting Thomas

September 29th, 2014 at 2:35 pm by under 10 On Your Side, Community, Health, Military, News, Personalities, Uncategorized

Doubting Thomas

What would you do? I was driving through a neighborhood and saw a man, lying on the street. In those few seconds- as best I could determine from a moving vehicle- he didn’t move. First thought- “keep on going. He’s sleeping ‘it’ off.” Second thought: “Uh oh. What if he just collapsed from some other health problem and was dying; or maybe he was a victim of a hit-and-run, or, he just got ‘jacked’?” I ran through a bunch of other “What If’s” by the time I’d gotten two blocks away. My answer to one of those questions was – DO SOMETHING.

This happened Saturday evening along busy Warwick Boulevard in the “trendy” Hilton area of Newport News. Who knows how long he’d been there? I’m guessing – dozens of other drivers passed him by, too, as I had to wait a traffic light cycle or two to make my U. As I doubled back, I realized I was just a couple of blocks away from the GOODWILL and CHKD second hand stores. U-turn complete and… he was still there. Still not moving. I pulled over, parked and headed for him.

If he’s unresponsive, or obviously hurt, of course I’m going to dial 9-1-1. But what if he’s just “sleeping it off” or mentally ill, and he’s “clingy” or violent, what do I do then? (Don’t know KARATE- I watched for 3 years as my son trained for his black belt. It’s been ’bout 50 years since my last STREET FIGHT. Hey, I can still run!) Those thoughts- and the standard one from my wife: “CALL 9-1-1.”

No. I had to personally get involved.

I reach the guy. He looked like a younger Tommie Lee Jones, but with white hair. “Hey, brother, you alright?” He actually looked kind of comfortable on the manicured edge of a bank’s property. He jerked in reaction to my voice, then said: “Who the f— wants to know?” Back and forth for about a minute- I’m asking him obligatory questions- he’s cussing me out for disturbing him. And, as we go at it, I notice both his lower legs are metallic. And his 3rd leg, a cane, is on the ground, just out of reach. His eyes are glazed, but not quite bloodshot. He’s angry at the world, still cussin’. And then he loudly proclaims: “I’M GOING STRAIGHT TO HELL! I KNOW IT!” And then he gives me an exaggerated, wide-eyed look as if he’s trying to scare the h— out of me! I am scared, but I’m not running. He said his name was THOMAS. He quickly corrected that and then called himself “Doubting Thomas.”

I’m now “Paralyzed Don.” What do I do now? I’ve engaged him, he’s in need of some kind of help; he’s angry, possible drunk; I’ve got no answers, and, I’m not going to just walk away. I make the cliched offer: “Can I get you something to eat?” And then I step across my wife’s line – “Want a ride to the shelter?” He answers “No! I’ve had a ‘couple’- and the Mission won’t take you if you’ve been drinking.”

So now what? Thomas says someone ripped off his bag with all his stuff. Coat’s gone, too, and it’s going to be cold again tonight. Aha! There is something I CAN DO. But, what’s my exit strategy? THOMAS needs help. He doesn’t want me to do anything but to get out of his way so he can got to H—. Now, standing on his tennis-shoe-wrapped metalic feet, I guess he saw how hopeless I looked. I wasn’t preaching, or offering him any money. And he wasn’t going to stick around for the 9-1-1 guys.

I let him go, got in my car and u-turned toward the GOOD WILL. They had a nice peacoat onsale for  ONLY 8.99. Now, to find him. THOMAS perched himself between two dumpsters behind a 7-11. He seemed surprised I found him. Thomas reminded me he was on his way to H—. But he doesn’t have to be cold along the way. Thomas saw what was in my hand and rejected it. I told him I’d leave the coat on the side of the dumpster incase he changed his mind. As I walked away, he said… Thanks.  He’s probably still out there. What should I have done? How about you?  And, one more thing: On the day I’m writing this, I just happened to find this post on my facebook page- a homeless guy named RONALD, telling his story. Tell me what you think, here, or on my facebook page.  Thanks.

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=707368385974326&set=vb.100001035124435&type=2&theater

Homeless-2


2 REASONS

April 22nd, 2014 at 11:01 am by under 10 On Your Side, Community, Health, Military, News, Personalities

Two reasons why I’ve been smiling while I walked the scenic NOLAND TRAIL in Newport News over the past week. I’ll be smiling again as I hit “trails” all over Hampton Roads in the next five days. ELIAS, my oldest daughter’s February blessing is on the left. And “LIL ROSCOE” (aka- LIAM) is my partner KATIE’s handsome boy, born last July. BABY Elias and mommy 16627_10152272982082930_123902686_n

These healthy infants have a great opportunity to grow to a ripe old age, and physically do whatever they want, thanks to the MARCH OF DIMES.  Wednesday through Sunday, I’ll be thinking of the boys as I pound the pavement with JIMMY RAY of “97-3 THE EAGLE.”  We start at the Country Club of Williamsburg, 7am, with the goal of reaching Patrick Henry Mall by about 11. And each day, we’ll take a bite out of the 80+ mile route, inching closer to the goal of the oceanfront. Check the link for each day’s effort.
During that first FOUR HOUR trek with JIMMY RAY, we’ll each have plenty of time to talk (I’ll do a lot of LISTENING) about how to solve every problem in the universe. But when we’re not flapping our gums, the quiet moments will be great for counting our blessings- two of which you see, here.

Liam - Lil Roscoe -2 1238940_4845738956387_724864554_n

Their moms knew what to do to help insure their successful births- thanks in large part to the work of the MARCH OF DIMES. In their words:   “We help moms have full-term pregnancies and healthy babies. If something goes wrong, we offer information and comfort to families. We research the problems that threaten our babies and work on preventing them.”
You may know someone who’s waiting for their little blessing right now. You can help them by supporting me and my walking buddy, Jimmy Ray. Better yet, just go right to the source, the March of Dimes. Send them a check -and on the memo line, just write in that name that’s your reason to smile.
Each day, our MARCH FOR BABIES will shine a spotlight on the MARCH OF DIMES and it’s support of research to prevent premature births and defects. Check out the link to the map of our daily route, follow our progress, cheer us on when you see us on the street AND PUH-LEEZE support the MARCH OF DIMES.  And to top it all off, join our MARCH FOR BABIES and WALK WITH US this SUNDAY, April 27, 2014, 830am at the VB oceanfront!


Veterans: Good and Plenty

November 7th, 2013 at 3:29 pm by under Military, News, Personalities, Politics, Sports

6 was good enough for Matthew Plenty. That’s how many children this AIR FORCE veteran had between wives’ one, and two. And he also loved his COWBOYS! That always made for some good conversation during the few times I visited his Newport News home. Mr. Plenty could talk some “smack” about WASHINGTON. After retiring from the AIR FORCE and settling into a civil service job at FORT EUSTIS, the PLENTYs’ welcomed my wife’s family by their East End homestead all the time. I recall first meeting him at our wedding in 1982! And although my wife stayed in touch with the kids, we hadn’t seen him much over the years- one of those friends you kinda knew was always there. Always. Until Monday. I vividly recall my wife’s reaction when she learned Mr. Plenty had died. She knew he was sick, in home hospice care. We planned to visit, tomorrow.. but LIFE got in the way. I hear he had some fascinating stories to tell about his military service. But now he’s takes those stories with him. TOMORROW now becomes TODAY. I’m finalizing plans, along with a colleague over at SUNTRUST BANK in downtown Norfolk, to talk to- actually, HONOR, some other VETERANS, who have some stories to tell. I personally know two of them. Mr JULIUS GREEN is the husband of my wife’s best friend, Rosalyn. Every now and then, “Roz” would drop a dime about Mr Green’s ARMY years, duty in Korea, Germany, Fort Eustis. Only after pressing for details did I learn that he was the Army’s first African American MASTER DIVER; or in other words, the Army’s version of CARL BRASHEAR.

He was the Army's CARL BRASHEAR

Army Master Diver

Poking around a little more, I learned Mr. Green attended Warrant Officer School with his neighbor, and another friend of mine, JOHN E. GRAGG… That’s Army Chief Warrant Officer 3, John Gragg. He went on to become the ARMY’s first African American BOAT CAPTAIN.

The Army's first African American boat captain

The Army’s first African American boat captain

Gragg says he was the captain of the big tug that helped pull this ARMY VESSEL OFF a sand bar in the James River in March of 1972. And, boy, does he have more stories to tell.

CW3 John E. Gragg captains tug that helped free this stranded vessel in the James River, March, 1972.

CW3 John E. Gragg captains tug that helped free this stranded vessel in the James River, March, 1972.

Both plan to share them with us at a reception in their honor, 10 AM, FRIDAY, 09NOV13, at SUNTRUST BANK, 150 West Main Street, downtown Norfolk, 12th floor. Also being honored this day, a “young man” who earned 3 PURPLE HEARTS, the hard way. Retired Army Ranger William “Joey” Pocan. TOMORROW is TODAY…The time is now to say THANK YOU to these, and all outstanding veterans. I hope they’ll take a moment to tell us a story.