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Veteran's Day 2023
And JDBCOM In Your Inbox #100
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Today is Veteran’s Day, which, unlike Memorial Day, is supposed to celebrate the living veterans. That said, I need to talk about a deceased one.
I met Bill on Veteran’s Day in 1982.
We were both students at UWM at the time, hanging out in the “adult” lounge in the Student Union, swapping stories about our service. We went down to the bar under the Union and hoisted one to absent friends, and to live ones. After all, we worked for the same uncle (Sam) for most of our adult lives, Active and Reserve.
There’s a bond of common experience that’s hard for civilians to understand.
I have the same bond with Army buddies from all the units I’ve been in. Over the course of 27 years, that was a lot. I don’t keep track of most of them, but I hear about them from time to time.
Bill, though, I kept in touch with, even though we were never assigned to the same outfit.
Bill made it to my housewarming in 1986, and he asked me if I could have imagined living in my own house when I was in the Active component. Of course, I answered in the negative. When Bill got activated for Gulf War I, Ev and I ran a couple bags of groceries to his wife and kids. When one got sick, I saw to it that Bill’s unit got her to a doctor. His wife was a sort of wreck; not sure when Bill was coming back. He never left the country, but she didn’t know if or when…
They divorced not long after that.
Some couples just ain’t meant to be together. Some people ain’t meant to be married, and Bill was one of those. He was a womanizer, and he had trouble holding onto a job, but he was an overall nice guy, always ready to listen or to help where and when he could. He had a strange sense of humor that floated between weird, bizarre and morbid, labored and easy. Wilhelm retired from the Army Reserve in 1999 and he had a 100% disability for PTSD diagnosed before the deluge of such cases. He still read my books. Indeed, his buying them tipped me off that my former publisher wasn’t forthcoming with my earnings.
Bill was also an Egyptologist, of all things.
In April 2018, Bill passed out and ended up in the VA hospital with COPD and spent the rest of his life on a plug-in concentrator: the portable ones didn’t supply enough oxygen. I went to see Bill just about every week in the hospital and the nursing home after that. He needed a lung transplant, but after a lifetime of smoking, he wasn’t likely to get one.
Bill passed that October, while I was on my way to see Ev’s family in Utah. I had planned to take a couple of bottles of beer with me on Veteran’s Day 2018, but I ended up planning Bill’s memorial with his sister and son. At the same time, I was sure Bill didn’t want to live like that…
After that, every 11 November’s been a little different for me.
Oh, I get together for a freebie at a local restaurant with my Army buddies and hoist one or two to the regiment and to absent friends. But since ‘18 I think I know how those guys felt on 11 November 1918, when the shooting stopped in Europe and it was just…quiet…and they said…
Over, yes, but how much we have lost…
Substack Number One Hundred!
That is a LOT of Substacks. The average readership is about 40% for two hundred subscribers, though sometimes it’s more. I riffed some of the content from the old blog on WordPress, some from my books, and some from old essays I wrote for other purposes and audiences. However, I wrote a bulk of it for the Substack.
And we may go paid at the beginning of the year…
But that doesn’t mean what you might think. Going paid for JDBCOM in your Inbox means you like my missives well enough, you can tip me. Free subscribers will still get all the posts, but paid subscribers will get up to three JDB Communications, LLC books every year as long as you subscribe…
And I want your feedback…
Going paid for this newsletter/Substack (Substack doesn’t like the concept of their platform being mere newsletters) won’t change anything for most subscribers, but it may provide a meager income stream for JDBCOM. I’m here to sell books/make money and provide some entertainment, after all.
The Fire Blitz: Burning Down Japan
The Fire Blitz has nothing to do with Veteran’s Day, going paid or my buddy Bill. It has to do with the WWII air bombing campaign against Japan, that started to be successful with Mission # 40, or MEETINGHOUSE II—Tokyo was called MEETINGHOUSE by planners—on 9-10 March 1945, still the deadliest single bombing raid in history.
We have announced the publication of The Fire Blitz several times in the past 99 Substacks, but The Muse and I are determined to publish it on 9 March 2024, the 79th anniversary of the first mission of the Fire Blitz.
The OR/ORN and Shiloh
On 11 November:
1918: The shooting stops on the Western Front at 11 AM. It had already stopped everywhere else but East Africa; it would stop there, too, soon enough. But many observers knew that this would only be a temporary peace. They say the first observances in 1919 were…poignant.
1922: Kurt Vonnegut Jr. is born in Indianapolis, Indiana. Known for a somewhat warped and dark sense of humor, Vonnegut first gained notice with his Slaughterhouse Five, based in part on his experience as a PW who survived a 1945 Dresden bombing…in a slaughterhouse in the city.
And today is INTERNATIONAL SINGLES DAY, when unmarried people all over the world celebrate their status. The day started, ironically, in China in 1993 as an anti-Valentine’s Day and has spread worldwide…more or less.