Monday, April 26, 2010

FAAR. . . You're on FAAR!!!


Mashburn ako The Preacher, was from Northern Georgia...his accent so thick you could cut it with a knife...and the knife better be sharp!

As I woke up...I smelled the burning hair and just didn't register that it was MY hair and flesh!

The incredible amount of pain was my first see...this night had started like any other night in a Ranger's life. We had parachuted onto Vancouver Island....linked up with the Canadian Navy, then boarded a Destroyer anchored in the harbor. After boarding, the Destroyer immediately departed for our objective. We were herded into the bowels of the ship and giving a hot meal with a briefing on our next mission. Around midnight we climbed over the side of the ship into landing craft and headed to shore.

After landing we linked up with partisans who took us part of the way to the objective and then they disappeared and we were left to our own fate. As a young Specialist Fourth Class, these were exciting times. I had recently returned from Ranger School and was only 10 or 15 pounds below my ideal weight. I still ate everything I could get my hands on and I was constantly falling asleep; Ranger School is the most demanding experience a Soldier will include combat...I can't speak for everybody but for me...when I was in a combat situation..I was never that hungry or that tired as in Ranger School. I'm glad I did it but once was enough!

One of the scariest and weirdest things to happen to us on this particular patrol was when we surprised a homesteader chopping wood at night...the look on his face was priceless...he hollered "Indians!" and took off at a pretty good clip down the side of the hill. Expecting our wide-eyed woodsman to return with other sceptical islanders, we also high-tailed it. After quite a hump we finally arrive at our Objective Rallying Point (ORP) and 1LT Garrison disappears into the darkness with a small element of Rangers to conduct their recon of the objective. Unfortunately, the incident with the traumatized axeman made me lose my bearings. I was totally turned around as to our whereabouts and this was very frustrating to me...I had been drilled and drilled to always know your least down to an eight digit grid coordinate.

I whispered to the Preacher....Mashburn!.....What!....Keep your eyes open, I'm going to make a map check. Now understand it is now about 0400 and we had been going non-stop for about 36 hours. I pulled my poncho and map out, got underneath the poncho so that no light could be seen. But here lies the flashlight would not work (we always joked about how a flashlight was a cylinder object which held dead batteries). The one thing I did have was a very small storm candle; so I pulled it out of my cargo pocket and lit the candle. I remember staring at the contour lines of the map and thinking what a pretty pattern. The next thing I remember is Mashburn whispering really loud about how I was “ON FAAR!!”

Well, what had happened is the warmth from that little candle was just enough to put me into a “Ranger Trance” and I fell asleep. A couple of unfortunate events transpired; the poncho that I was holding above my head burst into flames like a Roman Candle on the Fourth of July and the sticky burning goo acted like napalm and stuck to my jungle fatigues which immediately burst into flames. I now look very similar to the Human Torch from the Fantastic Four Comic Book series. As I am rolling down the side of the hill trying to put the flames out, Mashburn is helping by beating me with an entrenching tool since, as he later explained: “Well Rogers, I figured you was in quite a being on faar and all..,so I grabbed the first thang handy and commenced to help.” After this, I promised Masburn that I would NEVER ask for his help again.

I am not sure which hurt worse...the second degree burns on my face or the multiple blunt trauma wounds on my ribcage and torso. We finally got the flames under control and I was no longer on fire..just smoldering. It was now time to make an assessment of the damage. For starters, the flames had burned the pocket flaps right off my jacket. One entire side of my uniform was gone. My eyebrows looked liked remnants of a used SOS brillo pad. Most of my hair was gone..and what wasn't gone was was still smoking. The pain was incredible, but I didn't tell anybody because we had a mission to complete. 1LT Garrison finally comes back from his recon, we attack the objective and head back to the Destroyer anchored off shore. We get back aboard the ship and all my friends get a really good laugh at my predicament...our medic gave me some aspiring for the pain and told me to go on sick call when we get back to base.

As our Destroyer is pulling back into harbor, 1LT Garrison has us all standing up on deck in he walks in front of my squad he finally notices that one of his men looks like an extra from “Apocolypes Now”. “Rogers, what in the world happened to you!”

Sir, I can see sir...I was just checking our grid coordinates when my poncho caught fire and Mashburn beat me with his entrenching tool so as not to cause me any further damage..although I think two of my ribs are broken..”

1LT Garrison raises his hand for me to stop explaining... ”Forget I asked...and will pay for those unauthorized alternations to your that clear!”

Even though my burns healed and my ribs mended....I have never been able to look at a candle or a shovel the same way ever again! I still get shivers when somebody lights a birthday cake. The morale of this story...always, always have fresh batteries and NEVER us a candle...for anything!

Signed, CandleBoy

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Cats of Istanbul

In all of our Travels, The "Better Half" & I are used to seeing stray dogs, I can't tell you how many grocery stores we have gone into to buy Doggie treats, Not in Istanbul.. No No, It's CATS, Cats & More Cats!
They are Everywhere.... & they want to be in Pictures, So I felt obligated to include them in my Blog.

This little girl, would not leave us alone, She was bound & determined to be in the shot.
Here she is pouting, because we tried to "Shooooo" her away, As you can see...She WON!
Jack has made a new friend!

This was the Guard Shack Kitty! "Ms.PurrsAlot"
These two Lovies joined us for lunch~
This one is just checking out the "Tourists"
This little one, I do believe wanted our camera, Maybe kitty wanted to snap our photo?

This beauty is guarding the Palace with her buddy...

All is well,,,
Are you, Lookin at Me?
Nap Time!!
Thanks for looking at The Cats of Istanbul. . .
Have a puuuuuuuuuurfect Day!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Yerebatan Sarnici

Looking for a Quick 30 minute tour through history while in Istanbul, Turkey.
Then this is a "Must Do". Take out 10.00 Turkish Lira & descend into the cistern.
The cistern is vast, about the size of 2 football fields & can hold 27 million gallons of fresh water, Clay pipes and aqueducts carried water to this location for years. Unfortunately, the pipes became clogged the cistern became neglected and locals actually forgot the cistern was here over time. This is hard to imagine considering just how huge it is.
336 columns supports the amazing brick ceiling, Although most were recycled Roman ruins.
(Hubby & I called this Roman Junk, it's laying around everywhere)
You walk through the cisterns on platforms that were built over 2 decades ago, so you can enjoy all the sights & sounds of this slippery historical vision. Before the platforms were built, the only way you could see the cistern was by renting a boat & paddling
around in the dark.
I apologize to you all who are viewing this, There isn't any way my camera can do justice to the beauty of the cistern. It's hard to believe what you actually see is just a fraction of the amount of water that used to be stored in this cistern.

For those of you who are James Bond fans:
This cistern was used in "From Russia with Love"

The above was my favorite column, it's called the Tear Drop Column.
Don't be surprised if you get smacked in the head with droplets of water, Rain water still trickles down in cracks thru the ceiling!
Make sure you go all the way to the back & find the 2 Medusa heads lying on the ground. There are several different theories why these heads have been placed here: According to Rick Steves' Istanbul: It states, In Roman times Medusa was known as a protector of temples. Mythological gorgon-with hair made of snakes and a gaze that could turn people to stone. Medusa was also often carved into tombstones or cemetery walls to scare off grave robbers. When Christianity took hold, Medusas was a reminder of the not-so-distant Roman persecution of Christians, So it may be no coincidence that these pagan fragments were left here in the dark corner of the cistern, never to see daylight again.

Another Myth basically states that the architect simply needed a proper base to raise the two small columns to the ceiling height & the Medusas were a perfect fit!

I'm not sure which one is true but this is truly a sight to behold, nonetheless!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

After the Spice Bazaar. .

After the Spice Bazaar, but before the Grand Bazaar (Kapali Çarşi) you need to Caffeine up.. If you don't want the Strong Turkish Coffee you basically have 3 choices: Starbucks, Gloria Jeans or the local & at a fraction of the cost you have: Kahve Dünysai
The Better Half & I saunter in, find a nice cozy chair & begin to drool over the menu. This is a "Must Do" The Coffee was great & I can support any company that gives out free Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans & Chocolate Spoons! Tip: There is a Kahve Dünyasi right outside the entrance to the Grand Bazaar.

Now, all the tourist books & maps will give you a plan of attack for the Grand Bazaar, Good Luck with that! We were already flipped around by our 3rd corridor. Not to Worry, You really can't get lost & they've never locked a tourist in there at night, as far as I know. However, if you see something you like, go look at it right then & there, because you will never find it again,,
The Grand Bazaar is the oldest shopping mall in the world, & with 4,000 "Playfully pushy" merchants it's a sight not to be missed. Grand Bazaar is open:
Monday ~ Saturday 0900 to1900 & It's closed on Sunday. (Free)

Tip: This is a great inclement weather day activity!

The Grand Bazaar is right behind the Nuruosmaniye Mosque.
Tram Stop: Çemberlitaş
There is plenty of signage to help you as well.

Grand Bazaar is one of the top attractions & It's worth the trek even if you're not a shopper. The Bazaar can take you all day or two hours, this depends on how chatty you are: All the merchants want to chat Sell you something, & they ARE Chatty "Where are you from?", "Can I help you find something?" & the best shout out was "Come into my store & buy something expensive you don't need"...

There's no need to be rude, but be prepared for a strong & simple "No, Thank You" & keep walking, If you stop, They Got Ya..
While offering you tea or soda, come into my store, look around, find something you like...
Inside are Turkish delights from the expected tourist souvenirs to the unique items you can find in the nooks & crannies inside this labyrinth.
I fell in love with all of the Light & Candle fixtures.
I did make it home with a few of these wonderfully colorful bowls, They are not priced, Which gives these chatty merchants yet another chance to talk to you & gives you the opportunity to barter on the price.. if you don't like the price walk away, they are selling the same bowls a couple of shoppes down.

Hubby loved Tea & Coffee Pots...
If you're looking for "it" ,,It's probably here at the Bazaar.

Of course the best way to end this day, Would be at a Turkish Bath!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Heeeeeeeeeeee's Baaaaaaaaaaaack !!!

I left the Ranger Battalion over 30 years ago but this doesn't mean none of it stuck. For example, just this week a group of us went to the rifle range outside of Kabul, Afghanistan.

We left for the range about 0430 and as we were getting ready to leave in our armored trucks I reached into my rucksack to make sure I had packed my favorite boonie hat to keep the hot sun of my bald head. A friend of mine walks by and sees what I am doing and says “Here Jack, let me help.” He then turns on his 10,000 candlelight powered flashlight and shines it into my rucksack. Of course I am now blinded for life and all I see are little purple dots floating in front of my face.

The point I am making here is this; I never would even think of using anything that produced light during “hours of limited visibility” better known to the civilian world as “NIGHT”.

As a young, impressionable Private...newly minted out of Airborne School, I realized that my Squad Leader wasn't actually God but was just one level below Him. SSG Gustofson was everything that I wanted to be. Everyday was an opportunity for me to emulate my hero in all things military. I knew in my heart that if we ever went to war...this they man I want to go with.
As a soldier in the Ranger Battalion, we never missed an opportunity to train at night. It was on one of these early extended patrols through the largest swamp in the United States that somebody had dropped their rifle during a river crossing exercise and now it was resting somewhere in the thick mud below our feet. The river wasn't that swift or deep but it was like staring into a cup of coffee; the blackest water I have ever for added excitement, this part of Georgia had more Water Moccasins per square foot than anywhere else in the State...for that the world!
A very unfortunate young soldier made the mistake of turning on his flashlight to look for this weapon. Within a tenth of a second, SSG Gustofson had this poor individual in a death grip and was physically and verbally (quite colorful) explaining the importance of good light discipline at all times! I think the young soldier went into some kind of shock and basically walked in a haze for the next couple of days.
Needless to say, we found the weapon after I did my best impression of Mike Nelson from the “Sea Hunt” series (dating myself) and we continued the mission because that's what Rangers do.

To this day...I have the hardest time using a flashlight...even while's kinda sad. I almost never turn a light on in my house. I'm positive that I have the lowest electric bill in kidding. We once got a letter in the mail from the city of Fort Worth, asking the “occupants” if the address was vacant! I replied with a short note; “House is occupied however the current owner was and still is severely mentally scarred with FW (flashlight Withdrawal) and requires extensive flashlight therapy and re-training.” We never got another letter. They either did not take us serious...or DID take us serious...Personally, I'm hoping for the latter.

Ever Ready Boy signing off....

About Me

My photo
Fort Worth, Texas, United States