Eighth Generation

If you want to live happy, you must be grateful.  Life really is that simple.

Find Me Spot


1521. Rickie Dale O'Kelley was born in 1952 in Dr Kirksey's Hospital, Mulberry, Crawford Co, AR.  DNA testing suggest that Rick's Irish descent is of Clann Cheallaigh living in what is today Co Fermanagh.  Family Tradition stories make claim that Rick's ancestor to come to America about 1748 was of the Northern branch of the O'Kelleys of Bregia, one of the Four Tribes of Tara Co Meath Ireland.  Rick graduated Alma High School in May 1970 in Alma AR.167 Rick dropped the "ie" from his name in 1969 and has appeared as Rick O'Kelley ever since except for his Air Force and VA records.  They Air Force used his name as it appeared on his birth certificate. 

 Rick was drafted October of 1971 and received his orders to report for induction in the US Army in November 1971 but he joined the US Air Force on the delayed enlistment program November 10, 1971.  He served active duty in the USAF beginning 21 March 1972–20 March 1976.  Rick attended Basic Training at Lackland AFB in San Antonio TX and was assigned to the 3701 Training Squadron Flight 0309 and after completing Basic on May 3rd he flew to Lowery AFB in Denver Colorado for eight weeks training in Inventory Management.  He completed that training June 28th and returned on leave to his parent's home in Alma for two weeks leave then reported to his duty stationed at Blytheville Air Force Base, Blytheville Arkansas July 14, 1972 where he was assigned to the 97th Supply Squadron.  Rick remained at Blytheville AFB till January 30 1976 when he signed out on terminal leave, he was discharged March 20 1976.  In January 1973 he was awarded the Supply Airman PRIDE Award then June 1973 he was awarded the Base Airman Award.  In Oct 1974 he was awarded the Squadron Airman of the Quarter Award and nominated for the 2nd Air Force Award.  Not long after Rick arrived on station he was promoted to Airman First Class and he became an assistant to the Supply Procurement Liaison who was a Staff SGT (E5).  When the Supply Liaison Officer was sent overseas on TDY Rick remained working as the sole representative between Supply and Procurement and because he was only an Airman First Class fulfilling the role of a Staff Sgt he was awarded proficiency pay.  Rick rose rapidly in rank and was promoted to Staff Sgt - E5 in 37 months and ten days or May 1 1975.   Blytheville Air Force Base was a SAC or Strategic Air Command Air Base equipped with B-52G bombers and KC-135 air refueling tankers.  Rick was transferred to NORS Control (Not Operationally Ready Supply) April 17 1973 where he worked until his promotion to Staff Sgt and in that time there wasn't very many Staff Sergeants who became the "Non Commission Officer in Charge" of their own unit supervising airmen the first day they sewed on there promotion but his first day as a Staff Sgt Rick was the NCOIC of the Repair Cycle Unit or DIFM (Due in From Maintenance) Control.  NORS Control was responsible for providing the parts needed to keep the B-52s, KC-135s and Nuclear Missiles on Alert operational, it was a 24x7 always at war footing for the men and women who manned the NORS Control Office of the 97th Supply Squadron.  DIFM was responsible for getting the recyclable parts back to the depots for repair and Rick supervised a Sergeant and an Airman First Class assigned to his unit.

Rick became a Washington County Deputy Sheriff in Washington Co, AR as a deep undercover narcotics Deputy Sheriff.  Rick was still an Air Force Staff Sgt when he began his law enforcement career, he had acquired so much leave in the military that he left service on terminal leave Feb 1, 1976 and was employ at the Washington Co Sheriff's Dept five weeks before his discharge from active duty March 20 1976.   In the late summer of 1976 Rick came out from undercover narcotics with the arrest of approximately a dozen or more suspects and while awaiting his enrollment at the Arkansas Law Enforcement Academy he worked in dispatch for about six weeks.  He graduated the Academy December 3 1976 and returned to dispatch until the end of 1976 when he was assigned to day shift patrol. In April of 1977 he was transferred to the Criminal Investigator Division as a plain clothes investigator where he continued rising in rank.  At the rank of Sgt he was assigned the duties of a Lieutenant when he was made Chief Investigator with less than four years law enforcement experience and over the next few years he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and then a few years later Captain, still the Chief Investigator, and heading a team of plain clothes investigators whose duties were to investigate over two dozen homicides during his career.  In addition to his law enforcement career from 1982 to 1992 he was a Professional Photographer in Fayetteville, Washington Co, AR doing portraits and weddings on weekends. Also in his spare time Rick began working for J C Pennys as a loss prevention officer from 1982 to 1992.  Rick retired from law enforcement in 1991 and he attend the Northwest Technical Institute in Springdale where he graduated with honors as a Computer Systems Analyst.168 Rick worked as a Computer Network Administrator for the Northwest Technical Institute from 1991 till 1995 but in June 1995 he established one of the first Internet Service Provider companies in Northwest Arkansas and became the President of The NET Connection, Inc in Fayetteville, Washington Co, AR a business that ran for 17 years until Rick retired

Rick came out of retired in 2019 to be an Address Canvasser for the US Census then at the end of that operation Rick was promoted to an Operational Office Supervisor to work in the Local Area Census Office.  Two months later in Febuary 2020 Rick was "battle field" promoted to Field Manager to supervise over 300 census workers and their supervisors in the Hot Springs Arkansas area.  When the 2020 Census field work ended Nov 4 2020 Rick returned to retirement.   

Lesa Renee' Plum was born at Saint Edward's Hospital in Ft Smith Arkansas in 1956 to Roy Lee Plum Jr and Connie Karlene Davis.    She is the grand daughter of Captain James Otis Davis and De Etta Cannon.  Captain Davis retired an Oklahoma City Fire Department Battalion Chief. Renee', the name she prefers is also the grand daughter of Ethel May Plum a respected and well remembered correspondent for the Press Argus NewspaperRenee' is the 2nd great granddaughter of Captain Michael O'Dempsey born on the grounds of Lea Castle in 1822 in Lea, Queens (Laois) County Ireland, a US Army war veteran and the founder of the Michael Dempsey Masonic Lodge in Jena LA.

Rickie Dale O'Kelley and Lesa Renee' Plum married September 25 1972 in Crawford County Arkansas.    

Rick Dale O'Kelley and Lesa Renee' Plum had the following children:



Shawn Richard O'Kelley was born in 1977 in Fayetteville Washington County Arkansas, he graduated Farmington High School 1996 and received a Bachelor Degree in Music from the University of Arkansas in 2000.  He was the head Music Director for Greenbriar Arkansas Public Schools from September 2001 until 2004.  He is currently working as a Music Director at a major public school in Oklahoma.



**** **** O'Kelley Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine was born in 1979 in Fayetteville Washington County Arkansas
   Annabelle Rose O'Kelley was a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  "Annie" was born Dec 11, 2003 and she died March 23 2019 at 2:53 AM due to natural causes.  This petite sweet little red dog bought great joy to Renee' and Rick, she was a very important member of our family.

How I came to marry a 16 year old child
As a retired criminal investigator, I think how I came to marry a 16 year old child is an important story to be told because many of my generation want to apply today's morality to events that happened 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 or more years ago when the laws, morality, and the thinking of children, adults, church, law enforcement, and the courts about sex and marriage was very different when I came of age than today. Boys haven't changed much, we were and still are pretty clueless when it comes to females, if an attractive female tells us to strip and get in bed, most will, it seems certain from the Bible Story "Sampson and Delilah" that God put this obedience to obey a pretty girl's demand for sex in the male DNA perhaps to ensure survival of the human race, show us a set of boobs and we lose all good sense and perhaps this has always been true for young girls as well because in my time of "coming of age" young teenage girls were encouraged by their own female peers to go braless, wear miniskirts, and sexually liberate themselves by "going all the way" and being more sexually active and sexually aggressive in their early teens; it was in our popular music like "Go All the Way", "Love the One Your With", "Young Girl", "She was only 16", "Hot Child in the City", Neil Diamond's 1967 hit "Girl you will be a Woman Soon" which in my time, "becoming a woman meant having sex" and free love or sex was expressed in countless others popular songs and it was in magazine, TV, and movies targeting young teens, mostly targeting young female teens and in my professional opinion these outside influences and broken homes leaving young girls without proper adult supervision turned some young girls into angry aggressive sexual predators who acted out to get back at their parents for divorcing and breaking up their families and yes this criminal investigator saw sweet seemingly innocent girls turn themselves into sexual predators when they use their "misunderstood sexual power" over males of all ages. When parents tried to control those who lost their self control, some would run away from home or intentional become pregnant or worse.  My last homicide investigation was the arrest and prosecution of a 15 year old girl who used sex to seduce her 18 year old boyfriend to help her murder her mother and burn her body.  I know two former law enforcement officers who are grandmas today that told me when they were 13 they were sexual predators and it was false claims of young girls that resulted in the trials, convictions and deaths of 5 men and 14 women during the Salem witch trials in the late 1600, and according to the Bible after eating the fruit of knowledge it was Eve who persuaded Adam to also disobey God.  Science is also finding evidence in how "Pubertal Hormones" of some  11, 12, 13 year old girls causes them to engage in "Risky Behavior", so we need to stop believing that little girls are all sweet little angels and males are evil trying to take advantage of them.  There is a reason young teen girls do all they can to make themselves attractive to males, rarely does a young male do anything to make themselves attractive to a female.

Like today many teens in my time also lived a secret life that their parents knew little about like the girl who lived near our school who kept her shades open so boys could watch her undress.  The teenage girls of my time are menopausal grandmas today and some seem to feel guilty and struggle with their teenage choices wrongly seeking to blame others to try to escape their feelings of guilt by claiming they were taken advantage when their choice and actions were of their own doing.  Attitudes about sex and marriage has changed much in my 7 decades on this earth, and my story reflects some of that change as today many frown on 16 year old girls marrying and in most states it is no longer legal but it was common in Arkansas and all states in 1972, in the time when Renee' and I married a 16 year old female wasn't considered a child, she was a young woman who could legally make up her own mind and marry any willing male of just about any age, young or old, and have his children. Marilyn Monroe was 16 and both of our mothers were 17 and a feFw months when they married.  We seem to have lost the truth in all of this today, the age of adulthood is based upon society's belief, there is nothing written in stone handed down by God that says what age a male or female must be to marry or what age they are no longer children and are adults.  The Christian belief is if you are not "saved" by the age of 13 and you die you will burn in hell so surely God wouldn't hold a child accountable and this is a reminder that the the age of adulthood is all made up perhaps to appease some seeking to escape responsibility for their "youthful" behavior.

As a retired homicide investigator, I am familiar with people afflicted with mental illness and Personality Disorders.  I always knew there was something unusual about the 16 year old girl I married; about her mother, who married and divorced 3 times; and about her Granny, who divorce her 3th husband then remarried him 2 years later, then after he died she married and divorced a 4th husband, and I suspect it may have been true about her great grandmother who is buried in an Oklahoma City Cemetery all alone.  It was 3rd November 2021 when a news article published by "Health" appeared in the news feed on my iPhone  titled "Histrionic Personality Disorder is Characterized by Emotional, Attention-Getting Behavior--Here's what to know".  I clicked on the article and read it and it was like I was reading about the past 52 years of my long life with the "Love of My Life".  It was a "finally" moment for me, like someone turn on the lights, it was the feeling I would experience when my team of investigators and I finally solved a difficult homicide, and made an arrest. Put in that last piece of a difficult picture puzzle. 

The "love of my life" calls herself a "fun girl" and she is right she was and still is sometimes great fun, the life of a party, the center of attention, because an HPD person needs to be the center of attention, sex can be intense and mind blowing, an HPD sexual partner will do most anything to fulfill any sexual fantasy that brings attention to her doing all possible to give the best and most memorable sexual experience and you never know when or where it might happen, or what she might do when it comes to sex, she is a risk taker.  Probably because she MUST be the center of attention and will never share attention, my HPD lover is jealous to the extreme over the most minor perceived infraction, a grudge holder, she will plan for months or even years to seek revenge and be most cruel, she forgives nothing, very hurtful and I am of the opinion this behavior "fun" or "hurtful" was taught to her in the first 13 years of her life as a young child raised and living and watching an Histrionic Personality Disordered mother and Granny and none of it was her fault or my fault.  It is no different than if her mother had been giving her alcohol beginning at 8 making her into an alcoholic adult.  As I tell my story I will indicated by using HPD the Histrionic Personality Disorder moments and what I tell is just a tiny portion or our love story, there are many very personal private over the top and outside normal behavior sexual events that I can't publicly tell about that were pure HPD and let me be clear, this is a behavior she learned from her mother and grandmother as a child, and I know this because I was a witness to some of it and because she is embarrassed about some of it today and tries to shift blame to me, I think that is a good sign that she can be helped but to escape her guilt she sometimes blames it on me because I was older but it wasn't our fault, my fault, and it isn't her fault and it is something that professional HPD counseling may help bring her peace and happiness but like an Alcoholic going to an AA meeting and having to stand up before others and say "I am an Alcoholic" it takes that same honesty to face up to HPD and a desire to overcome HPD and live life differently than her mother and Granny but understandable she won't talk about it, to her I am not trying to help, I am "badgering" her, I am the problem.

Apparently for some HPD is a life long disorder because when Renee' s mother was 82 her oldest son died and her focus wasn't about mourning her son's death, it became about Renee's mother's obsession to "show off" and "bring attention to herself" by wearing a fur coat to her son's funeral.  In comparison I am of the opinion that Renee' had her own "fur coat" moments when my 2008 Brain Aneurysm became about her and not me and the graduation of our youngest son from Medical School also became about her and not our family, her need to be the "mother of a doctor" ripped our family apart and destroyed a lot relationships.  I am a living witness about how Histrionic Personally Disorder is a lifelong miserable companion that destroys even the most loving relationships when not treated and my professional law enforcement experience gives me a unique view.  I am also a witness that two HPD females, a mother and a daughter, can't not share a home for long.  Their attempt lasted 10 months and ended in angry and hurt feelings with each blaming the other for their HPD behavior.  Speaking strictly as an experienced Criminal Investigator I am sure Renee's mother is beyond all help and no one can change our past, but for Renee' I think she could be helped but she would need to do as she promised me in 1975 and forget the unpleasant portions of our life, only our future can be changed, and I believe to change our future will take a talented therapist well experienced in treating Histrionic Personality Disorder with the goal of helping Renee' forgive herself, forgive others, end her guilt, find her self worth, and bring peace and order to her life that she rightfully deserves and has earned.  For 35 years she mostly kept this demon locked deep inside so I know that it is possible to control HPD but menopause, the bad influence of her mother, and empty nest came together in 2006 and gave HPD new life and took me by complete surprise because I thought those troubled days from our long ago past were gone to never return, but I was wrong.  HPD is like an addiction, one is never really cured and they sometimes fall off the wagon. The surprise that shook me the most was how Renee's feelings of being "grateful" for our long and loving relationship that she felt in 2005 when she gave me this loving birthday card expressing her feelings, quickly by 2008 turned into a feeling that she was "entitled" to our relationship because she was pretty as she claimed that I hadn't been "loving" nor was I accomplished, she now sees me as a failure because I didn't go to college and make more money, she belittles me because she had to use a calculator at Wal-mart during the Jimmy Carter years when everyone was struggling economically.  This was a lot for a Brain Aneurysm survivor struggling with recovery to take in.  In 1975 Renee' wrote "I can come to you with any problem and you will solve it" but this isn't something I can solve, God knows I have spent 52 years trying and failed, only Renee' can alter how she thinks and acts but like always I will do all I can to help. 

As a retired homicide investigator I feel compelled to tell my story to help others, I suspect an HPD female is the motivation of many domestic murder suicides, to everyone else an HPD female appears normal, sweet, and loving but privately they can be violent and mentally so cruel towards their spouse that I can see how some spouses might be driven to insanity and few investigators, prosecutors and those involved in domestic violence intervention will know about Histrionic Personality Disorder and how it might be the trigger for some domestic violence that if not identified and treated could end in murder suicide. 

Real true love just happens.  Renee' has told me many times "you can't help who you love", that was certainly true for us. This is our love story that began more than 5 decades ago between two teenagers who had no experience with love and were just trying to figure it all out and sometimes made a real mess of it. 

By chance I met beautiful Renee' June 16, 1969, I had just turned 17 and had been working in the orchard and chicken houses and was dirty and stinky on my way home, it was dusk, the sun had just dipped below the horizon and I spotted a 15 year old girl that I had known for years walking with a girl that I didn't know, I stopped to show off my new motorcycle, I was proud of it.  Up close I could see how beautiful Renee' was and she quickly became the center of attention (HPD). They were cousins, Renee' lived in Virginia with her mother and was visiting her father for the summer, because of her physical appearance and she was with her 15 year old cousin I thought she was likely 15 also, she was so friendly, flirty, and then Renee' turned her attention to my shiny new orange motorcycle, her social skills were far above my own.  Showing off I asked if she wanted to ride not thinking she would take me up on it and to my surprise without saying a word she jumped up behind me, wrapped her arms tightly around my waist, buried her breasts in my back and put her face on my left stinky shoulder so I was committed, couldn't back out now.  In 1969 teenage girls didn't just jump on motorcycles with strangers so this was our first HPD moment.  I turned down the lane her father lived on, we talked as I went down the dirt road but we only went about a mile and was met by her father coming out to pickup the girls.  Renee' told me ''stop, that is my daddy and he is going to kill me".  I stopped and as she jumped off and went around to get in her father truck I had a brief but friendly exchange with her father.  If we had a young daughter that I caught riding on a motorcycle with a 17 year old boy she just met she would have gotten into a lot of trouble but I found out later that Renee' didn't get into any trouble another HPD moment that wasn't Renee's fault, she was a child, her parents were the adults responsible for teaching her "right and wrong".  For climbing on the motorcycle of an older boy she just met Renee' was rewarded because her father allowed her to date me, it wasn't her fault she had her parents "wrapped around her finger", and it wasn't my fault that I would soon be under her control as well.  

I saw Renee' again about a week later laying on a blanket in her great uncle's yard playing 45 records.  It was sundown, I stopped my motorcycle walked over and she invited me to set down with her.  We chatted for maybe 10 minutes, I had never met anyone like her, it was getting dark Renee' was laying on her back looking up at the first stars to appear in the night sky, the music was playing, it was a very romantic moment, almost like a movie, I was laying on my side propped upon on my elbow looking at her beautiful face in the fading evening light and I did something very unusually for me, something I had never done before, I leaned over and I kissed her, it was a lingering kiss because she was kissing me back, I slipped my tongue in her mouth and our tongues met and played.  I had only kissed one girl and it was a closed mouth kiss.  French kissing seemed so natural with Renee', like we have been doing it all our lives together. When we separated her great aunt who was probably watching us called out the door that it was time to come in and get ready for bed, I helped Renee' gather up her stuff, she asked me to come to her house the next day.  I told her I had to work but I would come on my lunch hour.  No girl had every invited me to her home, I had never been on a date so I was compelled to see what I had been missing. I didn't drink, smoke, or use drugs this his was my first step towards manhood and like the Survivor song says I quickly became "High on You (Renee')", I couldn't stop thinking about this girl. It felt so right, I was prepared to risk it all to get to know her.  Maybe all true love stories begin this way. 

The next day I knocked on her door and she opened it wearing a tiny yellow polka dot bikini clearly an HPD moment because we had known each other barely 15 minutes yet she met me at the door almost naked but in addition to HPD, Renee' might also have been one of those girls whose "Pubertal Hormones" encouraged her to engage in risky behavior.  She wanted my attention and she got it.  I had never seen a live girl in a bikini and if girls answered the door in a bikini none of the boys at my school talked about it and we guys bragged about everything so I don't think this was normal in 1969.  Living on the beach in Virginia I am sure she was just doing what she saw her mother do so for her this was normal.  She took me directly into her bedroom and closed her door so we could be alone, only her younger brother was home.  She looked stunning in her bikini; tan, firm athletic build, I was powerless to resisted her beautiful almost naked body. She had the most beautifully shaped legs and she told me she danced ballet and was a strong swimmer.  For the next few days I visited on my lunch hour she was always in a bikini and we did a lot of making out in her bedroom, then one day when I came down she told me her brother had ratted her out and told their father that I was coming down but to my surprise it was another HPD moment, her father didn't punish her, he rewarded her by telling her to ask me to come down after he got home from work so he could get to know me and he allowed us to have loosely supervised in home dates, she never wore her bikini when her father was around, but I still got to see her alone on my lunch hours so the bikini make out sessions in her bedroom behind a closed door continued.  Renee' made the "Summer of 1969" the best and most memorable summer of my long life. We had a fun and a wonderful courtship worthy of envy.

Renee's father was a simple country boy who spent almost 13 years of his life married to an HPD wife causing me to wonder today how that experience influenced his decision making when it came to his young daughter who he often compared to his ex-wife.  I suspect Renee's father and I had some of the same experiences that influenced his decision making.  He may have known he was fighting the same losing battle with Renee' that he fought with her mother and just gave in or perhaps he saw me as Renee's best chance to not turn out like her mother and Granny.  Still, his failed marriage to Renee' s mother wasn't a justification for his failing to do his job as a father to his daughter and two sons.  He allowed Renee' to do what she wanted with whom ever she wanted to do it with. 

A few weeks into our "summer romance" when comparing ages Renee' revealed she was 13 1/2 and not 15 as I thought, and this was troubling for me.  I didn't have a history of young girlfriends. I was puzzled and conflicted about how a 13 year old girl could be so attracted to a 17 year old boy, how she could be so sexual at such a young age as to be French Kissing and walking around almost naked wearing only a bikini in front of me, making out in her bikini in her bedroom behind a closed door with an older boy and 52 years later I can now see how HPD and her "Pubertal Hormones" causing her to engage in risky behavior may provided an explanation.  It would be one thing to wear a bikini at a public pool or on a public beach but very much another thing for a 13 year old girl to wear it privately in a make out session in her bedroom with an older boy she just met and didn't know.  I pondered "where did she learn to be like this at such a young age"?  Today based upon my experience as a retired criminal investigator, I believe the answer must be that being raised by a mother and a Granny with Histrionic Personality Disorder symptoms she was "groomed" by their examples and her "Pubertal Hormones"  may have impacted her decision making.  As a successfully father I know that children are not born to be this way, and it wasn't her fault that she was this way.  I knew a lot of 13 year old girls, went to school with them and I found none to be attractive, never had a girlfriend so young and if I had known Renee's age the night I met her, I would not have offered her a motorcycle ride, nor would I have stopped when I saw her in her great uncle's yard, no French kiss, nor would I have come to her home and seen her in her bikini, and no make out sessions in her bedroom but now that I knew she was 13 it was too late for all that had happened and I was already hopelessly in love with her as she claimed she was in love with me and because her father was well respected by my mother who had known him since her childhood and Renee's father knew our age difference and allowed us to have in home dates I had no reason to not date her, she was physically and mentally more mature than most of my 17 year old classmates, she filled out a bikini top better and her social skills were much more advanced, probably because of her public dance recitals, the many schools she attended, and the many places she had lived, at 13 she was well traveled and I was a farm boy never traveling more than 100 miles from my home. I was 3 1/2 years older than Renee', she wasn't just my first "love", she was and still is my only "true love of my entire long life" just as I am certain I am her only real love of her entire life and if that doesn't qualify us as "soul mates" then what does?  We were the same age difference as my parents, and the age difference between her parents was even greater. I told myself she will get older, we just need to behave ourselves and not do anything stupid, and in 1969 in Arkansas as in most states a 17 year old and a 13 year old could do anything and it not be a crime that it is today, besides Renee was just visiting her father and was suppose to return to her mother's in Virginia at the end of summer, she was so pretty I figured when she returned to her mother she would find a new boyfriend and that would be the end of us and I would never see her again anyway.  Looking back with a "retired law enforcement" adult mind who raised two very successful sons, for her parents to allow 13 year old Renee' such liberty was clearly part of why she had  Histrionic Personality Disorder symptoms and while it wasn't illegal in 1969, today it would be criminal neglect to allow a 13 year old such liberty but in the summer of 1969 her foolish parents knew Renee's older brother was my age, married with a pregnant teenage wife, her parents knew that pregnancy could happen to their 13 year old daughter which is why good responsible parents who care about their children don't allow their 13 year old male or female children to date, by allowing her to date an older boy highlights how Renee's divorced parents allowed her to do anything she wanted with anyone she wanted to do it with and this wasn't the fault of a 13 year old girl or her boyfriend who just turned 17, legally we were both children subject to the adults that were responsible for us, it was 100% the fault of her adult parents who didn't care about their children and totally failed them and her parents nurtured Renee's Histrionic Personality Disorder symptoms.  They never told her "NO" on anything making it impossible for her to accept when I told her No".

While my intentions were honorable, I was a 17 year old kid who wasn't prepared or experienced for what was to come.  At night her father and her younger brother would go to bed leaving us unsupervised on our home dates.  We made out on her daddy's couch doing what unsupervised teenagers do, Renee' had no fear of getting caught or being punished, in our minds we had her "father's blessings". That summer we watched the moon landing and Woodstock on TV together but when the time came for Renee' to return to her mother she persuaded her parents to allow her to stay and she told me she wanted to stay because she couldn't part from me. I will never forget when & how she told me she was staying, her father and brother had left, my 13 year old girlfriend took me into her bedroom where we had made out so many times, she set on her bed as she told me, she was so happy that she cried.  She rode the bus with me the first day of school and I got her enrolled, I was a senior she was in the 8th grade. 

We didn't just have "in home dates", in October 1969 her father allowed us to go to the movie and see "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid", we double dated with Renee's older married cousin and his wife, Renee' sat in my lap as we rode to the theater and back in her cousin's truck, I had no control over what happened when she set in my lap, Renee' thought being "poked" was funny, she was pleased that she could do that to me and I could do nothing to prevent it, no doubt a huge HPD moment for a 13 year old girl, I found it painful and struggled to avoid an accident. I had never experience such close physical contact, what I was feeling was all new to me, my 17 year old hormones were raging, I am thinking the only thing preventing intercourse are my y-fronts, jeans and the thin clothing she was wearing and I am certain she was thinking and feeling the sexual influence of her hormones also and pretty 13 year old Renee' wasn't setting in my lap (HPD) because of anything I did, she told me we were going to the movie and I said "OK".   Renee', her father, and her married cousin and his wife allowed this and made it possible making me unsure what was right and what was wrong and my raging 17 year old hormones and my deep love for Renee' wouldn't' allow me to question it nor could I give up on her, I was in too deep, over my head, seduced and under Renee's control combined with the over powering need to try to save her, that she needed me as much as I needed her.  Renee' was like a sweet little abandoned puppy that tugged at my heart strings. 

One need only to look at my life's accomplishment to know that once I take on a cause I never give up, I never surrender, I am not a quitter, it was something I was taught at 14 working on the farm caring for 41,000 chickens and reinforced by my USAF training and service and law enforcement training; and I am not violent, I never had a fight in school, I got punched a few times and turned and walked way, I had no disagreements in the Air Force, and I never had a physical fight in law enforcement arresting serious violent felons, I use logic to persuade the bad guys the benefits of not resisting, and I am not a grudge holder, I am a very forgiving person.  I am not perfect, I  am deeply flawed human but because Renee' became so attached to me I felt she needed me to bring some normalcy and stability to her life, and I could do it because I was well grounded boring rule follower.  I was sympatric, she didn't get to choose her parents, none of us get to choose our parents nor do we get to choose how we are raised or the values we are taught so I felt I needed to be there for her to help influence her to become a boring rule follower like me.  I was Renee's "Sampson" and Renee' was my "Delilah".  Still in Jan 1970 Renee' had just turned 14 and she crossed "my line in the sand" and I broke up with her when I caught her flirting with two of my classmates at school, Renee' was and still is a huge flirt, I didn't know it then but flirting using sexual undertones the way Renee' flirts is one of the many symptoms of Histrionic Personality Disorder behavior that she likely acquired from watching her mother and her Granny with their boyfriends.  Renee's mother moved to Virginia Beach in 1968 taking young Renee' with her following a married man and I suspect Renee's mother was just doing what she saw her mother do when she was Renee's age so young Renee' as a child had all the wrong role models. 

After I broke up with her, Renee' dated one of my classmates, she received attention because she was the only 8th grader allowed to date a senior and now her father allowed her to date another senior clearly an HDP moment for a girl who just turned 14.  To help with my heart break over the loss of the "Love of my life" I began having home dates with a 16 year old who was a Junior and was allowed to drive her parent's car.  I wasn't allowed to have a car nor allowed to drive my parents car so we never went on any car dates, they were always in home dates often supervised by my girlfriend's step mother.  If I was attracted to young girls it would have been easy for me to have taken one of Renee's 8th grade classmates provided that girl's parents allowed it which would be doubtful, Renee's father was the only one that I knew that allowed his 14 year old daughter to date but I didn't try because I wasn't attracted to young girls.  About 2 months passed when I arrived for a home date and I was surprised to find Renee' at my girlfriend's home, they weren't friends, didn't run around together so why was she there? I had the strangest experience with my girlfriend's step mother setting on one side of me, my 16 year old girlfriend setting on my other side, and Renee', my 14 year old ex-girlfriend setting across from me while we played cards and under the table in another Histrionic Personality Disorder moment my 14 year old ex-girlfriend, made it clear in a sexual way that she was still attached to me and didn't want me out of her life so in my ignorance I unknowing rewarded her HPD behavior because I didn't tell her "no", I rewarded her, we got back together the next day. I pulled up in her drive on my orange motorcycle, her father's truck was in the drive, 14 year old Renee' came running out her front door carrying a blanket and she climb on my motorcycle like she did the night we met and told me to take her some place where we could be alone.  She gave me many exciting, wonderful, memorable adventures, and most had something to do with teenage sex and while none of the adults in Renee's life told her to "behave"  we had lots of influences like Tommy James and the Shondells very popular 1967 hit "I think We are Alone Now" to influence us to "not behave".   

I will remind my reader again that 14 year old girls are not born this way, this is learned behavior, Renee' was "groomed" to be this way beginning at 8 year old when her parents divorced by watching her Granny and her mother with their boyfriends and they never told her "no" and her father encouraged her by his failure to be a responsible parent and growing up in the "anything goes" 60's clearly had its influence on both of us.  I have spent five decades trying to understand what motivated her then and still motivates Renee' now to do the things she does and Histrionic Personality Disorder has opened my eyes and given me a sense of peace.  This is nothing I did, nothing Renee' did, this was all her mother's and Granny's doing and it makes perfect sense to me now. 

To this day I believe my 16 year old girlfriend, her step mother, Renee's father, and Renee' conspired to put Renee' and I back together, my girlfriend's step mother and my girlfriend had to know what Renee' was doing under the table, Renee' had to slide down in her seat to touch me, her chin was almost touching the table top. Renee's father and my 16 year old girlfriends father were good friend and Renee's father drove her to my girlfriend's home.  Did my girlfriend's step mother tell her husband and he told Renee's father what Renee' was doing?  Perhaps they all were in on it and they did it because they felt that Renee' needed me and I needed or perhaps I wanted her.  It wasn't long after we got back together that Renee' gave me a touching gift, "We Need Each Other".  We became closer than before, believed we were "soul mates", like geese we are certainly "pair bonded", neither wanted to live without the other, everyone seemed to know how true and deeply we loved each other. 

A few weeks after we got back together, Renee's only normal female in her family, her very conservative paternal Grandma, allowed Renee' and I our first in home date in her home.  My reader may have noticed that Renee' and I never had in home dates in my home or with any member of my family, our dates were always arranged by Renee' with her family and like the "under the table" at my 16 year old girlfriend's home just a few weeks before, Renee' initiated some Histrionic Personality Disorder moments on her Grandmother's couch while her Grandma with her back to us was setting about 4 feet in front of us watching TV.  Her Grandpa was in bed asleep, I was 17 and Renee' was 14 and it wasn't something I did, this was all Renee', like on her father's couch she had no fear of being caught or punished and today I know that girls aren't born this way, this was learned behavior, I am certain my 14 year old Renee' was just doing what she learned by watching her mother and Granny with their boyfriends.  For Renee' this was normal" male female behavior and it would have been normal if we had been 4 or 5 years older. I was her "willing" play toy, she was beautiful and fun, and her family pushed us together so why would I resist?  My parents were married to each other and sex wasn't something talked about in our home, I was dumber than a box of rocks when it came to sex and girls, I had no experience or method to know if this was normal 14 year old female behavior and it brought me a lot of pleasure and it was encouraged by her family, they did much to give us alone time together, after all l did break up with her yet her father drove her to my 16 year old girlfriend's home and dropped her off and now I am at her very conservative Grandma's home so her family seem to be doing everything they could to keep 14 year old Renee' and her 17 year old boyfriend together. Even Renee's HPD maternal Granny invited Renee' and I to spend the weekend at her Lake Cabin, she worked all day Saturday, we had the entire day alone in her Granny's lake cabin, her Granny was only there Saturday night, what did her family think we would be doing?  That was a wild, crazy, HPD weekend that wasn't my doing and two years later Renee's Histrionic Personality Disordered Granny who married and divorced 4 men would play a major role in encouraging and supporting 16 year old Renee's plan to drop out of school by running away from home and getting married, something her father also supported.

Today Renee' knows none of our teenage courtship was normal, it didn't bother her then or for most of our adult life but that changed with menopause and empty nest and probably out of guilt likely brought on by "HPD" being easily influenced by "Me Too", and the "attention" being a "Me Too" brings, because I was older she now blames me for the things she initiated during our courtship.  Experienced and 52 year later I know our courtship wasn't normal, but for me it was special, it was memorable things she initiated that I know was driven by HPD to make it special and memorable and I have fond memories of our courtship, there is nothing like "young Romeo and Juliet love", and at our age why should we care what others think?  What do we have to hide?  Our teenage courtship wasn't my fault, it wasn't Renee's fault, it happened because her parents divorced and the two single women that she lived with for the first 13 years of her life influenced her; her "normal "was what she saw her mother and Granny do with the men they were dating and her Granny married one of those men, he became her 4th husband, and her Granny, Step Grandfather, her mother, and Renee' all lived together for a time and their influence over her as a child still impacts her decision making five decades later just as it still impacts her mother, her father and to some extent, impacts me.  This dysfunctional family was young Renee's example as a female child until her mother moved them to Virginia chasing after a married man and with her mother working, dating, or passed out drunk, young 12 year old Renee' who turned 13 in Virginia was often left on her own to do as she wanted, wearing her bikini hanging out on the beach in her backyard populated with 18 year and older US Navy men.  By the time I met Renee' the influence from her mother's and her Granny's freewheeling lifestyle had been done and I have spent a lifetime trying my best to help her put the pieces back together and we had considerable success until menopause, her mother moving near us, and our youngest son getting married and moving away caused the "wheels to come flying off the cart".  At 17 when I met Renee', I wasn't worldly, I had never been more than 100 miles from my home in my entire lifetime, I worked on a farm, went to church, and to school, and at 17 year of age what could I do about it anyway?  I broke up with her and like a stalker she came to my girlfriend's home and used sex under the table to seduce me to get me back.  I wasn't the experience, knowledgeable , confident person I am today, how could I possibly get the 14 year old girl that I loved so deeply that I would give my life to save her, the girl I wanted to marry and have my children, how could a dumb 17 year old farm boy know how to tell his 14 year old girlfriend that her behavior wasn't normal when I didn't know what normal was?  All I could do was love her, be there for her, and try to set the good example. At least she was doing it to me and not one of my classmates and I am not a victim, I am not a "Me Too", I loved her, I married her and fathered two very successful sons, unlike Renee' I have fond memories of all the crazy sex stuff that she initiated that we did. 

Maybe her family was wise to encourage us because 52 years after we met I am still the only person trying to keep her safe, well, and happy because I am sure living with a HPD mind must be hell.  As a retired criminal investigator with experience in these matters, I know if there was any "grooming" going on, I was the one being groomed, and not just by Renee' but by her family who may have thought I was Renee's only hope to not turn out like her mother and her Granny, perhaps Renee' thought the same, that I was her only ticket out of her hell hole, but I didn't care because for me it was always my deep love I had then and still have these 5 decades later for Renee'.  I would step in front of a bullet to save her and she knows this perhaps better than anyone.  My observation is HPD makes a person very selfish and self centered, they only think of themselves, Renee' would not risk her life for me.  It is this selfishness that makes an HPD person an unreliable care giver.  If you are sick, it becomes about them and not about you, mostly because being sick you are getting the attention that they believe they deserve.  I know this first hand, my 2008 Brain Aneurysm survival and after care was another huge HPD moment in Renee's life.  I don't remember my 10 days in ICU so people would ask Renee' in front of me what it was like for me and she would always turned the conversation around to how bad my aneurysm was for her and she would make excuses or refuse to take me to my appointments that required someone to be there and drive me, we had many fights about this.  My colonoscopy was a battle, and a dental appointment where they put me to sleep, she finally agree to take me to the dental appointment and be there but only because I was going to hire one of our son's classmates to drive me and be there in case of a medical issue.  Both of our son's lived far away and I didn't want our friends to know how badly she was treating me so I had no other options.  My Brain Aneurysm and our youngest son's graduation from Medical School in 2011 was just two of Renee's "wearing a fur coat to a funeral" to get attention moments. There were many more, behaviors taught to her when she was a child by her mother and Granny.  

After I bought my first car, at 14 her father allowed Renee' unsupervised car dates with me, we could get in my Mustang and go where we wanted and do what we wanted and none of her family cared.  I didn't push for any of these early liberties I was patient, I knew it would all come as Renee' got older, dating early with all these liberties was all Renee', her father, and sometimes her cousin's wife's doing.  I was just an inexperienced teenage boy deeply in love with a teenage girl who sadly had been born into a "broken home with people of poor character", it was often a topic of our conversations, Renee' would tell me how she wished she had been born into a good family like my farm boss, Bill and Rose Morris and as a couple we spent a lot of time with Bill and Rose who were in their 50s.  Rose, a registered nurse, tried to mentor Renee' just as Bill, an Army Air Corp Veteran, had mentored me but Renee's married cousin's wife had also dated young, became pregnant, and they had to marry so Renee' was surround by members of her family who were a bad influence and set the wrong example for her, I didn't have that bad influence in my family and knew it didn't have to be that way for Renee', I was madly in love with her and desperately wanted it to be different for her and like most abused and or neglected children who are attached, defend, and protect their abusive and or neglectful parents Renee' was and always has been very devoted and strongly attached to her mother and father and that has always been very problematic for us.  We became engaged when Renee' was 15, I was 18, our engagement was encouraged when her maternal grandfather, retired Oklahoma City Fire Captain Jim Davis gave her his 1/2k diamond Masonic ring for me to use the diamond in her engagement ring. I deeply loved Renee' and had her engagement ring made and I know I gave it to her in April 1971 because I have her letter she wrote me while she was in study hall. I had every desire and intention to marry Renee' when she graduated High School and a testament to my character after having the diamond set in her engagement ring, I kept her grandfather’s ring safe for 4 decades and in 2005 had a 1950 1/2k diamond placed in it and gave it back to her at Christmas and the reader must know our story to understand how I came to marry a 16 year old child.

Our Sept 25th marriage wasn't planned, but because I was in the Air Force and we were apart we talked about marriage but for Renee' it always became about having a baby, I wasn't in any hurry to have babies but she was. I have a letter I wrote Renee' right after we got off the phone on the 10th of Sept which was just 15 days before we married recommending against her desire to be pregnant at such a young age and luckily and I thank God she was 21 when she became pregnant, but it would have been better for Renee', our children, and me if Renee' had been 25 or older before she became pregnant because in the summer of 1975 while still in the Air Force I CLIP my first year of college and planned that after my discharge in March of 1976 I would attend the University using my GI Bill, I hoped to go to law school, become a prosecutor, and then perhaps a judge, I had dreams but I had to cancel my future cancel my dreams because Renee' became pregnant & I was the sole wage earner, my future became working & taking care of a wife and children who needed me to be at home with them because fathers are just as important as mothers.  But Renee' was in a hurry to have "a baby", that is what she dreamed of, she lived for nothing else, and it was no accidental pregnancy, at 19 Renee' went to the base hospital in Nov 1975 seeking medical help to become pregnant, we used no birth control because she wanted to be pregnant, and by March 1977 barely 2 months after her 21st birthday she was pregnant.  I had no influence over Renee' but Renee' had a lot of influence over me, I wanted her to be happy so our two sons were born during the bleak "Jimmy Carter" years when our economy hit rock bottom, businesses failed and people lost jobs and homes; interest rates and gas prices soared and having two young children with Renee' being a stay at home mother created an unnecessary financial struggle, and Renee' could not find a job that would pay enough to pay for daycare & transportation to and from work so staying home and caring for our sons was our only option.  This wasn't my fault it was just how it was.  I have another letter Renee' wrote me from study hall when she was 15 that she signed "Renee’ O’Kelley" that lists the names of the 4 children she wanted to have and how much she hated school and asked me to take her out of school so the girl I loved deeply put a lot of pressure on me for a number of years to rescue her from a miserable life and give her a baby, and I didn't blame her, her family was split up, her father was never at home and I don't think her mother wanted her and sometimes I was the only person who would spent time with her and I was glad to do it because I loved her, I wanted to help rescue her.  I wanted Renee' as my wife and mother of my children, I just wanted her to wait till she finished high school and not to be pregnant until after I finished college but none of it worked out that way.  When our two sons were little, I would point to my zipper and tell them, "if you don't want to turn out like your father, you will keep your zipper zipped" and thankful our sons did different than their father. 

I had no plans to marry Sept 25th, this all came about when I rode my motorcycle home to visit 16 year old Renee' on Sept 16 1972, six months had passed since we had seen each other the morning I got on the bus "as 19 year old boy who still lived with his parents" headed to USAF Basic Training.  Air Force Basic Training had turned "Renee's boyfriend" into a "man who was now 20 years old" and like when we met in June 1969, I again had a new motorcycle that I wanted to show off, this "motorcycle" trip was to be a visit, I didn't drive my Mustang because I had no plans to bring a 16 year old wife back with me, my intentions was to allow us to become reacquainted after being apart, I didn't know Renee's father had bought her a car.  It was in a Taco Bell in Ft Smith AR that Renee's experienced her first life changing HPD moment when we were eating Tacos and she declared she wasn't waiting to get married, she declared she was going to drive her car and follow me back to my base and we were getting married and if I wouldn't marry her then we would just live together. Well I wasn't going to live outside of marriage with a 16 year old girl and I knew from when her older brother ran away and lived on the streets and impregnated his 15 year old girlfriend that Renee's parents would do nothing to prevent 16 year old Renee' from running away and living with me so I had few options to try to save the girl that I loved.

I had a lot of experience walking away from "bossy" girls, none where more "bossy" than Renee' and I walked away from the 14 year old version of her in January 1970 only to have her show up at my girlfriend's home and use HPD sex under the table to seduce me to take her back.  I could have just walked away from the 16 year old version of her in 1972 but now that she had a car what would prevent her from driving 316 miles showing up at the gate of my Air Force Base?  It is difficult for normal people with bounders to understand the mind of an HPD female, "NO" means nothing and my true love for Renee wouldn't allow me the freedom to walk away, and I want to think that her true love for me is what caused her to runaway to marry me, that she wasn't doing something ''stupid" and that seems proven by this birthday card Renee' gave me 33 years later in 2005 when she still loved me, a time before menopause, the bad influence of her HPD mother, and empty nest poisoned her mind against me. I have probably 100 such cards she has given me over our long life together and they seem to prove that Renee' did "sometimes" love me as deeply as I have ALWAYS loved her.  At the age of 33 I  talked her out of having "Property of Rick" tattooed on her butt, and it is good that I was successful, because menopause, the bad influence of her mother who moved near us, and our youngest son getting married all in 2006 so changed her memories of our love story that she would have spent any amount of money having that tattoo removed from her butt. 

Ours is a love story for the ages. If I had given up on her our sons, one a teacher the other a physician would have never been born, Renee' would have likely followed the bad influence of her mother and Granny, like them she would be married and divorced many times today, and like her brothers she might also be dead today.  Time has proven that Renee' wasn't going to get a good influence from her family, in the Spring of 2014 I visited Renee's father and watched Renee's 18 year old nephew as he was setting next to me with a 15 year old girl "in his lap", I'm thinking in my head "been there and done that", he had just graduated high school, she had spent the night, he was unemployed so I encouraged her nephew to go the next day and join the Air Force.  His father, Renee's older brother, told his son that he would be stupid to join the Air Force, his 15 year old girl friend agreed with his father, so he didn't join the Air Force and 2 months later he was murdered by his best friend who buried him in a shallow grave over that 15 year old girl so this was and still is a generational failure in Renee's family and it all started with her parents.  That September day in 1972 my true love for Renee' wouldn't allow me to give up on her when she was 16, I just couldn't walk away and leave her in that den of snakes, leave her with parents that didn't give a dam about her, that day in the Taco Bell I loved her so deeply and at 20 years of age I was so inexperienced and knowing nothing about HPD I foolishly thought I could influence a change in her by my example, I didn't want to lose her and I knew if I refused to marry her she would have taken it as a rejection and probably married someone else out of spite, the way she started dating one of my classmates two years before when I broke up with her, only this time she might have his baby and just as she showed up at my girlfriends, she would leave him, taking his baby and show up at my door expecting us to pick up where we left offI couldn't reason with her so I put my faith in her and gave in knowing her dropping out of school and getting married at 16 that our future wasn't going to be easy and time has proven me right and I believe today that Histrionic Personality Disorder explains her actions.

We left Ft Smith and drove to Tenkiller OK to stay the night at Renee's Granny's Lake Cabin and her HPD Granny took us to dinner to celebrate but mostly to bring attention to herself by showing off to her friends her beautiful granddaughter who was getting married to a US Air Force Airman, then giving us a $100 bill and her blessings for her 16 year old grand daughter to drop out of school and get married.  The next day I had to return to my base so we returned to Renee's father's home, he wasn't home, he was never home for his children, I was certain Renee's Granny had already called Renee's father and mother who lived in Virginia at the time, I was certain she had told them of Renee's plan and her father wasn't home waiting on her to return, all he wanted was rid of his daughter and I suspect it was because Renee' reminded him of his ex-wife. 

Renee' packed her car and she followed me on my motorcycle, we stopped in Conway to get gas and I tried to talk Renee' into returning home to give me time to save more money but she refused.  I asked her to call her father and she refused telling me I had to call him, she was afraid her father might be mad at her.

When we got to Forest City I again stopped and tried to get Renee' to return home and when she refused I asked her again to call her father and when she refused I called her father and I wasn't surprised that he was okay with his 16 year old daughter dropping out of school and getting married.  Being a father today, I know Renee's father failed all his children, he was rarely at home for them and I have no doubt he is why his two sons lived shortened lives. 

I tried to do all the right things, but Renee' was a 16 year old runaway not that anyone in 1972 cared.  Today she would be taken into custody and put in juvenile detention, and her father and Granny arrested but nothing would have happened to me because I tried to discourage her from running away, and called her father when she did, it wasn't my fault that she ran away.  I was 20 years old and very inexperienced but that night it was all upon me, I was the only person in the world who cared about what happened to 16 year old Renee'; she, her grandmother and her father had placed Renee' completely in my care and dependent upon me so from that moment on I was making it all up as I went along hoping it would turn out for the best for both of us.  We arrived in Blytheville about 11PM and to keep Renee' safe I checked her into a motel room and told her not to leave the room or open the door for anyone.  Unlike Renee' I was a "rule follower", I wanted to do well in the Air Force, I wanted to do well in life, I wanted to set a good example for any children I might have and the Air Force required me to be back in my barracks by midnight.  As hard as it was for me to leave her, I wasn't going to be marked AWOL by staying in a motel room with a 16 year old girl so I returned to base and the next morning to keep Renee' safe I moved her onto my highly secure Nuclear SAC Air Force Base into the care of a Staff Sgt, his wife, and their two young daughters.  I arrived on base July 14 and barely knew anyone so I really had no other choice.  I felt Renee' needed to know the life of an Air Force wife and I really thought by the week's end she would change her mind and return to her home and school, or her father would come and get her, or her mother would get on a plane and fly to Arkansas and take her back to Virginia, or her Granny would change her mind and come and get her but her parents, her family didn't care what she did or who she did it with and at the end of her week in Blytheville she was still determined to marry so I thought maybe with her determination we could make it but I knew it was going to be a difficult life. 

The Air Force required me to go to marriage class to prepare me to be a good husband and obtain the permission of my SQ Commander to marry.  I am a planner, even before I got on the bus to basic training back in March I knew how badly Renee' wanted to marry and have a baby so I had already attended class and my SQ Commander gave me permission to marry a 16 year old child.  We could have married in Blytheville, in Arkansas at the time the male had to be 21 and the female 18 to marry without a parent but Arkansas had a War Exemption that allowed a 18 to 20 year old male in the military to marry a 16 to 17 year old female without a parent's permission.  Renee' wanted her father to be present when we married, the father who just wanted rid of her and we couldn't afford to keep Renee's car anyway, it wasn't paid for and my car was so my Sq Commander gave me a 3 day pass and Renee' drove her car and I drove mine the 316 miles back to my home in Crawford Co and we got married by the Crawford County Judge in his office with my mother and Renee's father present.  Neither of our parents were required to sign our marriage application because in 1972 the County Judge handled juvenile matters like runaways, Renee' emancipated herself when she ran away and since her father was present and he didn't object the Judge held the legal authority to make Renee's emancipation legal by siging our marriage license.  In 2022 Arkansas raised the age of emancipation from 15 to 17 so even  today children in Arkansas over the age of 17 can seek Emancipation and if their parent or guardian don't object a judge can order it.  I had to be 21 to marry without a parents permission but my military ID Card and permission from my Commanding Officer to marry emancipated me. 

Renee' was 16 years, and almost 9 months old when we married, I was 20 years, 3 months old when we married.  Renee' was 7 months younger than her 17 years and 4 months old mother when she married, and  Renee' was only 5 months younger than my 17 years and 3 months old mother when she married my father.  I was 1 year younger than my father and Renee's father when I married Renee', so our ages wasn't that much different than our parents when they married and our marriage wouldn't have happened before Renee' turned 18 if I hadn't been drafted into the Vietnam War, being drafted changed everything.  Today it is easy to look back and say "well the war was soon over" but in September 1972 there was no method to know what our future would be or if we would have a future.  All the B-52s from my base were in the war zone bombing the hell out of North Vietnam and while Nixon had pulled all the combat troops out of Vietnam 6 months earlier, we felt certain Nixon would be re-elected in November 1972 and put them back in and I would likely be sent to the war zone to support the B-52s and KC-135s, no one knew our future so we were "Living for Today" because there might not be a tomorrow.

I married the "love of my life", the first and only girl I have every loved, even at 16 she had the body, face, and hair of a Playboy Playmate and I got to sleep next to her body and have passionate sex with her often, but I also became the husband of a 16 year old child from a 2nd generation divorced family, her mother also came from a divorced family and displayed the symptoms of Histrionic Personality Disorder, thus Renee' was someone who had been raised with few rules, wrong examples, and allowed to do what she wanted since she was 6 years old; a typical spiteful, stubborn, head strong, pouty child who when she doesn't get her way sulks and will sometimes do hurtful things to try to control and manipulate me. To my knowledge Renee' was the only 16 year old girl in her class to drop out of school, run away, and marry so this wasn't something common that other girls her age were doing.  I knew I could not force her to do anything but I foolishly hoped I could alter her by my influence and good example but sadly the "love of my life" has always been attracted to and easily influenced by people of poor character another symptom of Histrionic Personality Disorder.  We are total opposites so what caused Renee' to want to marry me has always been one of life's great mystery but perhaps HPD suggest that maybe she thought marrying an Airman would bring attention to herself, her Granny made a big deal out of me being in the Air Force with her friends the night she took us to dinner. 

Only one photo from the day of our marriage exists, and because of how Renee' appears, the photo has never been a favorite of mine, we did exactly what she wanted, I don't remember but I am sure she picked my clothes at Walmart, she had a white wedding dress but decided she didn't want to wear it and we bought the dress she has on at Walmart to get married in so she had it all her way, that should have caused her to have a big happy smile equal to my own.  We got married and she got to drop out of school just as she wanted yet it is easy to see "defiance" in Renee's body language in this photo, we were at my parents home, that is my car in the background, and one of my parents is taking the photo and my family naturally didn't give Renee' the attention they gave to me.  If we had been at her Grandma's and she had been taking the photo we would likely see different results. Photos don't lie, we had been married a few hours and she clearly isn't happy and sulking about something on our wedding day but this wasn't her fault, I have no doubt that the photo taken on our wedding day captured her Histrionic Personality Disorder taught to her by her Granny and mother, most of the time when it was just me and Renee', she was sweet, wonderful, and a joy to be with like she is in this photo of her in her red mini skirt that I took just 3 months later.  Sadly unknown to me it is likely my devotion to her may have nurtured her HPD mother's and her Granny's training because she has always been the center of my attention.  It is likely the reason she wanted to be with me and not with her father because she was never the center of her father's attention.  In my 5 decades of military, law enforcement, academia, and business, I have met a lot of people, Renee' always seems to have an internal battle inside of her, she never seems to be at peace with herself and I think these two photo reflects that, she got what she wanted the day of our marriage but there is no joyful expression, yet a few months later when it is just Renee' and I and she is the center of attention she is smiling.  I wonder sometimes if she has every truly experienced the kind of joy being with me like the joy I have experienced being with her. 

One of the first things I did was enrolled her in "American High School" a home correspondence course that would allow her to obtain a High School Diploma so when she turned 18 she could work at the base as a Federal Employee which had a pension, she had plenty of time and I was available to help her but her parents didn't encourage her or her brothers to educate themselves and her low self esteem no doubt HPD driven caused her to hated school and refused to complete the course.  I eventually received a refund from the home correspondence course but it took 14 years to influence her, at the age of 30, when our sons were 7 & 9 and in Elementary School, Renee' finally obtained her GED and I tell this story as a testament to how menopausal HPD symptoms and the influence of her HPD mother has so corrupted her memories of our 35 year happy "Love Story" that she repeatedly belittles and berates me because when I wasn't working earning money for our family, I came home and was an attentive husband spending time with her and our sons and didn't spend our family time attending college.  Somehow it has become fixed in her mind that I could have worked a full time job, go to college full time, and still be there and spend time with her and our sons.  My response is always "you should have stayed in high school and went to college" and she will agree and that normally tends her belittlement. HPD motivated belittlement also extents to my pride in my honorable USAF service which before menopause, her mother's bad influence, and empty nest, she took pride in my service, she would tell people I was an Air Force Veteran, but like my Aneurysm my service brings attention to me and not to her so now she calls my pride in my service "bragging".  The VA doesn't share her opinion, I get emails from the VA encouraging me to take pride in my service.  I have no doubts, this results from her HPD motivated low self esteem and lack of self worth that treatment would likely help reverse.

Renee' is fond of saying if her "Papa George had lived" he would have forced her to finish high school, well she ran away from her father to marry me then 18 months after our marriage Renee' broke my heart when on June 8, 1974 after a 24 hour shift at the base I came home at 8:30AM that morning to find that without any notice or warning Renee' had packed up and moved out leaving a note on the ironing board.  In perhaps her greatest Histrionic Personality Disorder moment, now 18, Renee' ran away from me,"finding herself".  We lived in a nice home that we were buying, new carpet, air conditioned with a washer and color TV, she had a purple bedroom with brass headboard just as she wanted; she had an in ground pool that we swam in often, she had a brand new car, her own brand new motorcycle, and new matching bicycles and she picked them all out and she had lots of new clothes, it was very uncommon for a newly married couple in Arkansas in 1974 to have such things, I did all I could to make her happy but looking back to that time, Renee's mother and grandmother visited just weeks before she left, and every time she was around them she would become a different person which today I believe was their influence of the Histrionic Personality Disorder.  I don't know what kind of "magic" her "Papa George" could have used to "make" her do different and before she was born her Granny divorced her "Papa George" then two years later remarried him, so he didn't do much better with her Granny than I did with Renee'.

That was a very difficult time for me of which Renee' and our sons have nothing to compare for I was always there for them.  At 23 years of age childbirth had destroyed Renee's beautiful teenage body, she could no longer wear her bikini bathing suits, and while I had many opportunities, I didn't stray, I didn't abandon Renee', but for 16 months in the last part of 1974 and most of 1975 while I was in the Air Force I was completely alone and abandoned by my wife who ran away from home to marry me.  I have lost friends and family to death, being abandoned by someone you love is far worse than death because you know the person who you loved that died didn't purposely abandon you the way Renee' purposely abandoned me.  That experienced emotionally "hardened me", it took from me much of the youthful joy I had before I met Renee'. I experienced PTSD nightmares for decades because of what she did to me. It was the first time in my life I experienced bouts of deep depression which thankfully I was able to break out of because while Renee' was "finding herself", I began doing things to pull myself up off the floor and remake me into a more successful adult.  I was determined to not allow what Renee' did to me destroy me as I had seen it destroy other men who self medicate themselves with drugs and alcohol to try to forget the hurt and pain a women or in Renee's case "a woman acting like an undisciplined child" caused me.  I invested my despair and loneliness in activities that would increase my employability when I discharged from the Air Force and became a civilian again.  I completed 3 correspondence courses in Professional Investigations, Legal Investigations, and Institute of Applied Science where I learned how to classify, gather, and take fingerprints and at the young age of 22 I became an Arkansas Licensed Private Investigator and did investigations for attorneys and tracked down bond jumpers to earn additional money.  My Air Force duties required that I worked 16 hrs on Thursday Night and 24 hours on Saturday so I had a lot of time on my hands and didn't waste the opportunity, during my off days I took courses at the Base Education Office in "Speed Reading" and "Supervision and Management", and took CLIP Examinations that would allow me to to skip my freshman year of College.  Because of what Renee' did to me I was hurting but I turned my hurt into something productive and now almost 5 decades later it continues to have a positive impact upon both our lives. 

Then in another Histrionic Personality Disorder moment Renee' called me Oct 29 1975 at 1:30AM in the morning asking me to forgive her and making me more promises that she would eventually not keep she begged me to drive 452 miles from Blytheville AR to Tulsa OK to pick her up and bring her home.  She begged me to come then, but I reminded her I was an Air Force Staff Sgt with obligations that I couldn't come right then, I had to report for duty at 8AM so I would come on the weekend.  Renee' has never understood the value of honoring "obligations", keeping oaths, and promises.   When we got off the phone she wrote me this letter of praise taking all the blame on herself.

Three days later on November 1 1975 I drove to Tulsa, only to find in another classic Histrionic Personality Disorder moment  the girl who had called me crying and begging me to come and get her just 3 days before wasn't there, I set down and waited and when she did finally arrive she told me she had change her mind, I told her to not every call me again and turned to open the door and leave and she stopped me, asking me to give her 30 minutes to pack. 

Sadly she was a penniless 19 year old living in the basement of a couple's home working as a live in "Nanny".  Everything she owned fit in two small suitcase.  Looking back I am certain keeping their young children caused Renee' to long for children of her own and she came back because she knew I would give them to her and provide for her children and do all I could to inspire them to be successful in their lives as I was in my own.  I didn't expect her to stay.  Every day I went to work at the base, I expected to come home and find her gone.  Thankfully she hung around and caused me no trouble but that might have been because I didn't oppose her attempts to become pregnant. We had a lot of sex. Little did I know or understand and I didn't feel this way then but today I know I was just Renee's sperm donor and paycheck.  I have great doubts that Renee' can feel love as most normal people do.

After I brought her home, Renee' told me that she left because she foolishly took the advice of her employer someone who had married and divorced many times and being easily influence is a symptom of Histrionic Personality Disorder.  I am certain she left me in 1974 out of "spite" because she couldn't control or manipulate me to get her way all the time, she left because I was a normal person raised by my parents to live a structured disciplined life which was re-enforced by my USAF training and she was still that 13 year old girl who could manipulate her parents to allow her to do what she wanted with whom ever she wanted to do it with and her marriage to me stood in her way.  I set the good example and she rejected it to live her undisciplined life taught to her by her family. 

Renee' first act in November 1975 after she returned to live with me in Blytheville was go to the base hospital seeking medical help in becoming pregnant.  I didn't know it in 1975 when I was 23, but I know it today; to seek to become pregnant by a man she left just 16 months before and had just reconciled with is also a symptom of Histrionic Personality Disorder.  Somehow I found forgiveness in my heart, but I did it for me and not for her, that is why we should always forgive, for the peace it bring us because we can't do anything for those who wrong us, it is what people of good character do, they forgive and keep their promises.  I forgave her and forgot and as she asked I never mentioned that time, not even in anger, even our adult sons knew nothing about the time their mother abandoned their father, our children never knew the hell she put their father through.  Renee' and I had 35 loving years together then in July 2010 at the age of 54, menopause and her mother moving near us, and empty nest caused Renee' to confabulate false memories that caused her to remember our life differently than her letters, cards, and actions prove it really was and she broke her Oct 29, 1975 promise to me by bringing up June 8, 1974 and blaming her "spiteful" hurtful actions on me.  In July 2010 I was struggling trying to recover from my aneurysm and couldn't remember or think about that time when she left me and our 35 years of happiness had caused me to trusted her so I initially believed what she was telling me must have been true but as I did recover I began to read letters she had written to me while I was in Basic Training and my memories slowing began to return and then my criminal investigator training and experience kicked in causing me to ask myself, "if I was the cause for her leaving June 8 1974 as she claimed then why after 16 months would she return and bare me two sons and give me 35 years of a wonderful life with her if that were true"?   Then I found her long ago forgotten letter she wrote me October 29, 1975 the night she called and asked me to forgive her and bring her home and her letter proves it was all her, in truth it was her Histrionic Personality Disorder taught to her in the first 13 years of her life living with her Granny and mother, it wasn't me, it was all her.  Just like her letter says, I was the "understanding" "great" guy she could always count upon to solve her problems who rescued and forgave her.  Truthfully, driving to Tulsa, bringing her home, forgiving Renee', and forgetting what she did to me until she bought it up 35 years later had nothing to do with "understanding", what I did was motivated by a "rare pure unquestioning love" that I have always had for Renee' something she and most people are incapable of "understanding" because they only have that kind of "pure love" for themselves and never for someone else. 

There is one additional symptom that isn't identified as a symptom of Histrionic Personality Disorder but I am certain it is associated, they seem to have the ability to "will" themselves physically sick and this makes perfect sense to me because sick people receive "attention" which is what HPD people desire the most.  When I was in Air Force basic Training, Renee's hair began fall out in spots, her father wasn't about to take her to the doctor so Rose, our registered nurse friend, took her to the doctor and she was prescribed Hydrocortisone.  Six months later when I came home to see Renee' she was on crutches claiming a knee injury which immediately cured itself when we got married a week later and 2 and 1/2 years later when I drove to Tulsa to pick her up she was on crutches again with her knee injury which again immediately cured itself once we were back together.  For over 4 decades she was in perfect health then after a falling out with me then falling out with her mother her mother, and the stress of the pending death of her beloved dog she had a quarter size minor skin rash pop up on one arm likely caused by her stressful living because she wasn't getting things her way and this minor rash resulted in a prescription for a drug that had a sun warning and she took it while on vacation spending a week in the sun she had a reaction that turned her purple from head to toe that resulted in a medical diagnoses of a rare disease and I am not telling anything that she doesn't tell, she makes sure every one knows she has a "disease".   I saw the same behavior in her mother and I know another woman about half Renee's age who exhibits HPD symptoms and she too has a long history of  "medical mysteries" causing me to suspect that "Drama Queens" have the unconscious ability to make themselves physically sick and doctors treat them because they are physically sick.  This isn't so strange as some might think, when I was a child my parents couldn't tell me that we were going on vacation because the "excitement" would cause me to run a high fever and our oldest son would also run a fever if we told him we were going on vacation so "Histrionics" or "Drama" cam impact our physical health.  It is possible that my life may be shortened due to "Broken Hearth Syndrome" from all the repeated trauma I have endured from my long life trying to live and sometime live without an "Histrionic Personality Disorders" child/woman. 

Our marriage was legal, in the open, and above board, and no parent or anyone of authority helped me change Renee's mind and I don't regret our marriage, it hasn't been easy; I love Renee' as deeply today as I did the first day I met her and I know that Renee' dropping out of school and getting married at 16 was not my fault, I tried to influence her to stay in school and wait but when she wouldn't I was the only person in her life that kept her safe and did all I could to make her happy under sometimes very difficult conditions for which at the young age of 20 I had no experience.  In spite of her HPD symptoms Renee' and I raised our sons to be good accomplished men.  Renee' opposed me on a lot of things in our long life together but luckily she didn't oppose me on how we raised and influenced our sons to be good men. 
Based on my experience as a Criminal Investigator and my personal experience, I suspect that many more females are Histrionic Personality Disordered than anyone thinks.  Generation after generation, America raises a nation of young girls obsessed with fashion, beauty, and their bodies and many use their bodies to try to get what they want because they are groomed from early childhood by their mother's and grandmother's encouragement and bad examples setting them up for failure.  Imagine what those girls could do if they invested that obsession into their education.  Rick O'Kelley


My Religious Belief
I was raised in a rural Free Will Baptist Church, attended until I was 17.  I have always believed in God, believed in THE creator of our universe but since I was a young man I have always had an argument with ALL of man's religions; God made us free and man's religion takes from us God's blessing of liberty.  I believe that if God wanted man to have a "Holy" Book that they would grow on trees like peaches and we would be born with the knowledge to read and understand God's "Holy" Book.  My argument with man's religion has sometimes caused me to disconnect from God as I wrongly blamed God for what Mankind has done in God's name.   I was raised in a Christian church as a child but when I became a man I had difficulty finding God in the Christian teaching that in the time that the bullet left the gun but before it entered the brain of Adolf Hitler he could have accepted Jesus Christ as his savior and he could be in heaven and a man who did good all his life, never harmed anyone but didn't accept Christ as his savior could burn in hell for all eternity.  Surely God isn't so cruel as to reward Hitler and punish a good man who doesn't believe in Christ. 

God gives innocent babies to mothers of all races and religions and I can't believe God to be so cruel that he does this so most will grow up to be lost souls for him to burn in hell for eternity.  Why would God do that?  If God found favor in only one race or religion he would only give babies to mothers of that race or religion and in just a few generations all the rest would be extinct like the dinosaurs so because God gives innocent babies to mothers of all races and religions I find that proof positive that God clearly has a plan that isn't written in any book and God doesn't share with any man or woman and to be opposed to God's plan is to be oppose to God. 

I have come to conclude that if one were to put the dumbest human into a car with the smartest human and send them on a road trip, because of the huge intelligence difference they would not find themselves pleasing company.  God and humans must be like this, man is so dumb next to God that we can't realize the vastness or the intelligence of God and his creation. God's Universe is so large that it is unknowable to us, humans can't measure it, don't understand how it was made, or what keeps it in existence. We are so small and tiny that if one were to pick up the smallest grain of sand on a beach and compared it to the size of our earth, that tiny grain of sand would still be many, many, many times larger than our entire solar system and all the humans to have every existed wouldn't be visible yet despite God's intelligence and the size and age of God's Universe every religion to exist puts forth the notion that human's are God's greatest and most prized creation. I can't accept that because if that were true then why wouldn't human's out number the stars in God's Universe and be able to experience all that God has created?  Why are we so fragile, why are our lives so short, and why do we experience so much misery in our lifetime if we are so favored by God? 

My greatest wonder is why God would need a half human son, or human prophets, ministers or holy men?  God is God, why would he need human representation upon our earth?   

I have also had difficulty understanding how Jesus could be born into a world with so much disease and poverty that his first miracle was turning water into wine.  None of his miracles wiped out any diseases or improved man's lot on this earth. Compared the vastness of God's Universe Christ's miracles seem so minor and disappointing and given that 1/3 of the earth's population lived over the ocean in the Americas at that time and it took 1500 years after Jesus performed his miracles for that knowledge to arrive in the Americas, well why didn't Jesus preach to all the world while he lived.  Why didn't't he invent the Internet and put smart phones in peoples hands to spread his message?  DNA studies of 7000 year old mummies have found the evidence of Tuberculosis.  Scientist now speculate that for the past 7000 years 3 out of 10 men, women, and children born into our world have died painful and miserable deaths resulting from Tuberculosis.  Logic tells me that while growing up 3 out of 10 men, women, and children that Jesus knew and came into contact with died painful and miserable deaths so rather than turning water into wine, walking on water, raising one friend from the dead or feeding the multitude, or healing a few sick people, why didn't Jesus rid our earth of Tuberculosis?  It is unreasonable to believe that for 7000 years 3 out of 10 people died miserable deaths and no one prayed to God for a cure so why didn't God answer just 1 of those prayers and instruct his son to wipe Tuberculosis from this earth?  That would have been miracle worthy of God. 


US Air Force Oath of Enlistment
"I, Rickie D O'Kelley, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."  Given March 21 1972 Little Rock Arkansas.
I try to go boldly and bravely always seeking the right in our world. 

I have been there, I have done that

Airman Rick O'Kelley age 20
his 1972 Suzuki GT750J

Le Mans motorcycle

SSGT Rickie D O'Kelley 1975
US Air Force  SAC 97th Bomb Wing
N-O-R-S Controller
Blytheville Air Force Base

Rick O'Kelley 1976
Undercover Narcotics Deputy
Washington Co Sheriff's Dept
Captain Rick O'Kelley 1988
Chief Investigator
Washington Co Sheriff's Dept

My Paternal Line

  1. Conley H O'Kelley Father - Crawford Co AR
  2. Albert Henry O'Kelley Grandfather - Crawford Co AR
  3. Charles William O'Kelley 1st Gr Grandfather - Gwinnett Co GA Signature
  4. James Stamps O'Kelley 2nd Gr Grandfather - Walton Co GA  Signature
  5. Charles Dean O'Kelley 3rd Gr Grandfather - Mecklenburg Co VA Signature
  6. Charles O'Kelley 4th Gr Grandfather - unknown
  7. James O'Kelley 5th Gr Grandfather - Co Meath Ireland
  8. Williiam O'Kelley 6th Gr Grandfather - Co Meath Ireland
  9. Thomas O'Kelley 7th Gr Grandfather - Co Monaghan Ireland
  10. Thomas O'Kelley 8th Gr Grandfather - Co Monaghan Ireland
  11. William O'Kelley 9th Gr Grandfather - Co Monaghan
  12. Thomas O'Kelley 10th Gr Grandfather - Co Meath
  13. William O'Kelley 11th Gr Grandfather - Dublin
  14. Tomas ÓCeallaigh 12th Gr Grandfather - Dublin

Rick O'Kelley Private Investigator
May 12 1975 - 1978  1991-2006 

Rick O'Kelley Photography

Rick O'Kelley, President
The NET Connection, Inc
1995 - 2011
"Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”  ― Winston S. Churchill 

"One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives" - Euripides


"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein 

Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value”  -- Albert Einstein

"Everyone appreciates your honesty, until you are honest with them, then you are an 'ass and a son of a bitch' "
 unknown modified by Rick O'Kelley
By William Blake

O for a voice like thunder, and a tongue
To drown the throat of war! - When the senses
Are shaken, and the soul is driven to madness
Who can stand? When the souls of the oppressed

Fight in the troubled air that rages, who can stand?
When the whirlwind of fury comes from the
Throne of God, when the frowns of his countenance
Drive the nations together, who can stand?

When Sin claps his broad wings over the battle,
And sails rejoicing in the flood of Death;
When souls are torn to everlasting fire,
And fiends of Hell rejoice upon the stain.

O who can stand? O who hath caused this?
O who can answer at the throne of God?

The Kings and Nobles of the Land have done it!
Hear it not, Heaven, thy Ministers have done it!

The Memoirs  of Rick O'Kelley  
A Memoir  French: mémoire: memoria, meaning memory or reminiscence) is a collection of memories that an individual writes about moments or events, both public or private that took place in the subject's life.
  • Attended Alma Public Schools from 1958 until graduation May 29 1970 - wasn't allowed to be in sports, band, or anything that required parents involvement - BORING!
  • Worked at the Orchard View Peach Farm at the age of 14 from 1966 until 1970 as a farm laborer, met Bill and Rose Morriss, my mentors
  • Enrolled in the United Electronics Institute 1970 homesick I dropped out
  • Worked at Gerbers from 1970 until Jan 1972 stacking boxes in railroad box cars
  • September 1971 Draft Physical - Classified as 1A but with defective color vision
  • Drafted October 1971 and ordered to report to the induction center in 30 days
  • Enlisted in the USAF Air Force Nov 10 1971 on the delayed enlistment and guaranteed job program
  • January 1972 arrived in Little Rock in route to USAF Basic Military Training  oirand then to become an USAF Air Traffic Controller but was returned to home due to color vision
  • February 1972 arrived in Little Rock in route to USAF Basic to become PMEL Technician but return to home due to color vision
  • March 21 1972 arrived in Little Rock in route to USAF Basic to become Supply Inventory Management Specialist put on a jet and flown to Lackland Air Force Base.
  • Assigned to 3701 Squadron Flight 0309 USAF Military Basic Training for six weeks training.  USAF
  • May 2 1972 graduated USAF Basic Military Training and was promoted to Airman E2.
  • May 3 1972 departed Lackland AFB and flew to Lowry AFB Denver Colorado to begin Technical School for Inventory Management. 
  • May 8 1972 Began Tech School, Lowry Air Force Base.
  • May 27 1972 Graduated from Inventory Management, Lowry Air Force Base. USAF Documentation
  • May 28 1972 departed Lowry Air Force Base Denver Colorado in route to Blytheville AFB Arkansas. 
  • July 14 1972 Arrived on station at Blytheville AFB Arkansas, assigned to 97th Supply Sq.
  • August 14 1972 assigned as aid to the Base Procurement\Supply Liaison SSgt Fike. Blytheville AFB Arkansas USAF Assignment documentation
  • September 25 1972 I married the love of my life.
  • November 1972 I became the sole Supply\Procurement Liaison representative, filling a Staff Sergeant position. Blytheville AFB Arkansas USAF Assignment documentation
  • January 2 1973 promoted to Airman First Class E3. Blytheville AFB Arkansas
  • February 15 1973 97th Supply Sq P-R-I-D-E Airman of the month January 1973 Award. Blytheville AFB Arkansas
  • June 1973 Blytheville AFB Pride Airman of the Month of June Award. Blytheville AFB Arkansas
  • April 18 1973 Assigned to NORS Control (Not Operational Ready Supply)  97th Bomb Wing, 97th Combat Support Group. Blytheville AFB Arkansas
  • April 15 1974 Superior Performance Pay.  Blytheville AFB Arkansas
  • May 1 1974 Promoted to Sergeant E4. Blytheville AFB Arkansas
  • October 2 1974 97th Supply Squadron P-R-I-D-E Airman of the Quarter.  Blytheville AFB Arkansas
  • May 1 1975 Promoted to Staff Sergeant E5.  Average is 6.9 years, I earned my promotion in 3.1 years.  Blytheville AFB Arkansas
  • May 13 1975 Arkansas State License - Private Investigator.  At the age of 22 I started my first business, Rick O'Kelley Investigations.   Documentation
  • May 30 1975 USAF Management I Part I course. Blytheville AFB Arkansas USAF 
  • June 26 1975 Universal Schools Legal Investigation. 
  • August 1 1975 Supervisor of DIFM (Due in From Maintenance) Blytheville AFB Arkansas USAF
  • October 31 1975 Institute of Applied Science (Fingerprint Analysis, Documents examiner, Investigations) Documentation
  • Jan 1976 CLEP Testing.  Passed all except my English. Blytheville AFB Arkansas
  • Jan 19 1976 USAF Community College Transcript.  Blytheville AFB Arkansas USAF
  • Feb 1 1976 Signed out on Terminal Leave from the US Air Force Blytheville AFB Arkansas USAF Documentation
  • February 16 1976 became a Washington County Arkansas undercover narcotics Deputy, Fayetteville, Washington Co Arkansas
  • December 3 1976 Graduated Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy
  • March 11 1977 ALETA Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.
  • June 13 1977 Washington County Sheriff's Dept Lie Detection Examiner. Two week course in Clifton NJ.
  • November 9 1977 Honorable Discharge from the United States Air Force. 
  • Shawn O'Kelley our son was born and I was there.
  • January 1 1978 Basic Certified Law Enforcement Officer
  • R N O'Kelley our son was born and I was there.
  • December 7 1979 Jim Burkett Polygraph and Voice Analysis. 
  • January 16 1980 ALETA Robbery and Burglary. 
  • May 29 1981 ALETA Color Photography. 
  • June 1981 founded and established second business, Rick O'Kelley Photography as a Wedding and Portrait business.  Operated until December 1992
  • Oct 14 1981 - Thank you card from Fayetteville Attorney Jennifer Horan
  • March 30 1982 Promoted to Lieutenant Chief Investigator Documentation  Promotion letter lost but photo dated March 30 1982
  • June 8 1982 Springdale Police -Zales - Gem Identification.  
  • August 20 1982 ALETA Criminal Interrogation
  • October 15 1982 ALETA Fayetteville Police Dept Criminal Investigation
  • November 1 1982 General Certified Law Enforcement Officer
  • November 20 1982 New York Institute of Photography Documentation
  • November 1982 until August 1992 - Loss Prevention Officer J C Pennys Fayetteville AR.
  • January 26 1983 ALETA  Background Investigations 
  • May 20 1983 ALETA Police Supervision I. 
  • March 15 1984 Federal Law Enforcement Training Center - Advanced Law Enforcement Photography. 
  • May 2 1984 ALETA Stress Management
  • November 19 1984 Certified Law Enforcement Instructor
  • February 21 1985 UA Northwest Arkansas Police Institute Interpersonal Violence Documentation
  • April 19 1985 DEA Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. 
  • March 12 1987 North Arkansas Community College - English.  
  • March 26 1987 Intermediate Certified Law Enforcement Officer
  • May 2 1988 Appreciation Letter from the Students at John Tyson Elementary School.  Documentation
  • June 1 1988 Promoted to Captain Washington County Arkansas Sheriff's DepartmentDocumentation
  • January 1989 established a Novell Netware Personal Computer Network and I wrote the first records keeping software for the Washington Co Sheriff's DeptSelf Educated
  • March 19 1990 Advanced Certified Law Enforcement Officer
  • January 1 1991 I started my third business, NTK Enterprises for private investigations and computer records.
  • Dec 11 1991 National Vocational Technical Honor Society.  Documentation
  • June 22 1992 graduated NTI - Programmer Analysis Documentation and Microcomputers for Business Documentation 
  • Jan 1994 I wrote the Student Management Program which was the first software written solely for the Northwest Technical Institute. 
  • Aug 22 1994 Arkansas State Teacher's Certificate. 
  • June 1995 - founded and established my fourth business, The NET Connection Inc, one of the first Internet Providers in Northwest Arkansas. Nothing in my Northwest Technical Institute studies included or mentioned the Internet.  At the time I attended Northwest Technical Institute the Internet wasn't known or available for several  years after. I Self Educated myself and established the servers, services, and the entire operation of the business and trained others in their duties.  I built this business from the ground up and trained everyone who worked for the business.
  • September 9 2008 Brain Aneurysm - 15 days at Cox Hospital Springfield MO, 12 days in ICU, 10 days of which I have no memories, video of what it was like waking up in ICU.
  • April 19 2014 - Flew as the tail gunner in the Commemorative Air Force Missouri Wing B-25 Show Me.  YouTube Video
  • August 16 2014 - Flew behind Pilot Jeff Linebaugh in the P-51 Mustang Gunfighter over Blytheville Air Force Base YouTube Video.
  • August 19 2019 - I became an Enumerator Address Canvaser for the US Census Bureau
  • December 9 2019 - I became an Operational Office Supervisor for the Fayetteville AR Areas Census Office
  • February 10 2020 - I was "Battlefield" promoted to Census Field Manager for the 2020 Census
  • Nov 4 2020 - 2020 US Census completed - Retired


My Life
YouTube - My North American P-51 Mustang Gunfighter Flight over Blytheville AFB


Trips and Travels
My Photography




I am by my nature a "glass half full" person and I always have been.  Anyone can become a "glass half full" person, first you must have "Gratitude" and that allows you to train your mind to always seek the positive and avoid looking for the negative.  Because it is a "training" of the mind, in the beginning it takes an effort to always be on guard for negative thinking and in time positive thinking will become automatic and second nature.  For example when someone cuts you off in traffic, back off, give them space and remind yourself that there might be a valid reason they are in a bigger hurry than you are and remind yourself that you are "Grateful" that you have no need to be in such a rush.  It is all about keeping on the sunny side of life and finding "Gratitude" in every aspect of your life.  No matter how bad you think your life might be, it can always be worse, you could be dead.

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Our Sons 

I am a very proud father and my life's story can't be told without the mention of my family.  I am a planner and my life's goal was to marry Renee' and father her children and when that was obtained I tried my best to always be there for my wife and our sons, to be the best husband and father that I could be. 

I turned down many opportunities and advantages to marry Renee', bring our sons into the world and be there for them to raise them to become successful men.  Even before our marriage when I enlisted in the Air Force I made choices, turned down opportunities offered me by the Air Force that I knew might prevent our marriage and the birth of our children then after our marriage and the birth of our sons and I was working in local Law Enforcement I turned down opportunities to be employed with Federal Agencies to keep my family in Fayetteville because I felt Fayetteville was best for them.  I changed my schedule, alter the work assignments of my investigators so I could attend the events with their mother that were important to them, some of these events are documented in decades old home videos that I took and even after our sons were grown and well into manhood and I operated our business, I would close our office so their mother and I could be there for them because my loving wife and my two sons were the most important people in my life. 

I worked very hard not to be "stingy, selfish, or stubborn" as these are not the positive attributes of a "good person, a good spouse, or a good parent" and they are poison to a good relationship and a happy peaceful family.  Everything I did was to try to maintain a balance between my own needs to be accomplished and be a responsible provider for my family, and a loving and good husband and father and it wasn't easy to do because outside influences from people of lesser qualities were are always troublesome and as a result my positive attributes haven't always been popular or valued but I believe because I stuck to my plan our adult sons are happy, healthy and successful because of it.  Because I had to work to make the money for my family's support I also missed out on a lot so this wasn't always easy, but few things worthwhile are easy, I tried to be fair to those who worked for me seeking to keep a balanced life, their were a few Christmases that I worked call so my investigators could be off and home with their families so I sought to set the good example for my sons and give them the skills they needed to survive as good men and they haven't disappointed me and I hope they can look back to their childhood and find that I didn't disappoint them. 

I am not perfect, I didn't have a book or training to be a father and a husband other than a one day marriage seminar that the Air Force required me to attend at Lowry AFB in 1972 before our marriage.  Frankly I made much of this up as I went along, I tried to use my own experience as a child and avoid the mistakes that my parents made with me.  I had to work, like most fathers, we are expected to earn the money to buy a home, clothes, food, and healthcare and provide some "happiness" but sometimes I had to be tough, I had to say "no" when it wasn't popular, that is part of what comes with being the head of a family that everyone depends upon to get right.  Someone had to lead, and that task fell to me so I had to work and I tried to do it without complaint and it wasn't a burden for me because I was doing it for the three people I loved more than my own life, what better reason is there to work?  To give my wife and sons the best Christmas I could I worked security at JC Pennys ever Christmas for almost two decades so they could have a richer experience and if I complained about doing it when I was doing it, "I am sorry".  One of my fondest memories from that time was our tradition of opening presents after I got off work on Christmas Eve and arrived home.  I set in my favor chair and Renee' would bring a hot cup of chocolate with marshmallows and only then were the presents handed out.  Renee' did all she could to make our holidays and our life together special and she never complained, we lived a wonderful life because she made it wonder.  I tried to do all I could, all that I knew how to do to be a good father and still make time for my wife and sons while living a life of accomplishment for myself and I think our sons are evidence that Renee' and I accomplished that as Shawn is a music educator working at his dream and our youngest son is a physician also working at his dream.  They did their part as well, they were not trouble makers, they got good grades, they gave us no trouble and all my memories of their time growing up are good ones.  I am thankful that my sons saw the value in living an "accomplished life" and they were willing to take the opportunities that we made available to them to become accomplished after all just like me, they had to do their own hard work to get where they are today.  I am deeply proud of them but I would have loved them no matter what they decided to do with their lives and I didn't do this alone, I had a wonderful wife and mother who didn't oppose me and was supportive.  She took care of them when I was working, watching over them and caring for them and ensuring they experienced the right values, we were united in our decisions as I can't recall a single time when she worked against a decision that I made so I am grateful and thank her for that as well, raising our sons wasn't a one man job, it took both of us working together towards the same goal, to do all we could to allow our sons to find their dreams and because of my willingness to work and sacrifice she got to stay home and spend more time with them, I didn't get that so naturally my wife and sons are closer than my sons are to me and that is something they discover should they have children.  If I had been the stay at home father and my wife worked to earn the money, I am sure everything would be reversed, that is just the way of nature.

Renee' was born to be a mother.  She went through all the stages, morning sickness, stretch marks, aching breast but she never complained and I was with her every step of the way.  I would rub stretch mark cream on her belly, she loved my touch.  She was happiest pregnant woman I have every known.  Get out bed, go into the bathroom to throw up, I would hear her and fly out of bed, wet a washcloth and I would hold her long beautiful hair out of the way and try to comfort her then we would come out of the bathroom and she would always have a smile on her face and a "good morning" on her lips and we didn't drink coffee, she needed no morning pick me up, it was her true natural state to be happy, and being pregnant with my child made her the happiest but I think my depression in recent years robbed her of her natural happiness.  Pregnant with Shawn she worked at the Northwest Arkansas Times until a week before he was born, she saved her wages to pay his doctor and hospital bill because when she became pregnant we didn't have maternity care on my insurance and she paid both bills in full when Shawn was born.  Renee' has always been a financially responsible person.  Because my father kept the checkbook I did too, but about 25 years into our marriage I turned it all over to Renee' and she did a better job than I, she paid off all our credit card debt.  I tried for two decades and failed, she did it in 5 years.   During her pregnancy with our youngest son she was a very active stay at home mother, she didn't run the highways and wander the shopping malls, spend her days visiting with friends and family.  She didn't lay around watching TV getting fat because she was pregnant, she was a wife, mother, house keeper, and a pregnant woman and she did them all with top performance.  The doctor told her to go to the mall and walk to induce labor, she fired up the push lawn mower and mowed the yard.  Hung out the clothes on the clothes line and took care of Shawn while doing all the things that wives do for their husbands, one of the nurses told her that having sex would help induce labor so Renee' turned to me to take care of that.  There has never been a time when Renee' wasn't sexy and desirable to me.  She was bother about what childbirth did to her body, I found her more desirable and told her so often and she would tell me I was "crazy" and she was right, I have always been "crazy" about her and no one else.  She sought the full mother experience, she used cloth diapers and breast fed both our sons even when her nipples were sore and ached and she never complained, she was loving her condition but she was also my wife.  She included me, she spend time with me, she was my companion my lover and she never pushed me away, never complained about being too tired or having a headache.  If there is such a thing as soul mates, we are soul mates.

I was at the birth of both my sons.  I attended Lamaze class and was Renee's coach, I wanted to be there for her and our sons, I wanted that experience for myself.  When Shawn was born her maternal grandmother came to the labor room but Renee' wanted me there beside her.  We touched, we squeezed, we held hands and there was a time with our youngest son's labor that she threw her arm around my neck in a choke hold to fight the pain and afterwards she told me she was so sorry to have done that, she was so very loving to her husband and her babies.  I remember a great deal of both my son's births, I took photos at youngest son's birth but I wasn't really into photography when Shawn was born so I don't have very good photos of Shawn but I have a memory, a very special memory.  When Renee' was 15 she started collecting baby things looking forward to our her first child, there was never any doubts about who was going to make her pregnant.  She was just days from turning 22 when Shawn was born so she had collected a lot of things and she had outfits for everything and she selected a special coming home outfit for Shawn, and my memory was it was blue and had written in yellow "Daddy's Angel" over the heart, Renee' was so loving and devoted to me, she truly appreciated my forgiveness of her and her second chance from two years before, she did all she could to make up for that time and "Daddy's Angel" was part of it.  When I arrived at the hospital to pick them up, Shawn was perfectly dressed, he was the cleanest, sweetest smelling baby I had every seen.  Renee' must have spent hours grooming and tending to him, using special lotions and powders, she put her full heart and soul into being a mother and my wife and now she was in her element.  We love both our sons dearly but I will never forget the first "father moment" that Renee' gave me.  As Shawn laid on the hospital bed, Renee' and I were gathering her things to walk out of the room and Shawn messed his diaper, the odor was strong and it was that thick tar like that babies produce the first day or so.  With a soft and sweet tone in her voice Renee' said, "oh Shawn" dragging it out.  I had heard Renee's voice over the past 8 years that we had known each other but there something different about her "mother's voice", it was somehow more special, more tender, more gentle than any of her words said before.  By the time Shawn was born I was an Air Force Veteran, had worked Undercover Narcotics, investigated suicides and homicides, stuck guns in people's faces and handcuff them, I was a "only the facts" Sgt Joe Friday, I had a .38 special on my hip in the hospital room that day but hearing her say my son's name for the first time, a name we selected together with great care and thought to honor my Irish heritage and she said it with a special "mothers" voice that I had never heard from her, it touched me where I had never been touched before. I watched as she went to work to undo what Shawn had done and to put him back into perfect condition, "Daddy's Angel", she didn't looked to me guidance, she didn't ask me what to do, she very lovingly started giving me instructions on what I need to do to help her, she made us into a family that day.  She had packed her diaper bag like Navy Seal going on a mission, everything had its place everything had it's purpose and she knew from memory where each item was and while she was performing her task with Shawn removing his clothing and diaper she directed me where to find what she needed from her bag, I had no clue what these items were for but she did.  As I watched her in action and listen to her gentle voice, I remember fighting back the tears for that was a time when "real men didn't cry".  That was my first moment that it fully hit me, I was a father, Renee' had stuck it out with me and endured for 8 years, she had done what we had talked about from when she was 14 years old, Renee' had made me the father of her son, and while she depended upon me and looked to me for just about everything else, this was the magical moment when she was the "General in Charge" it was all under her command and control, it was all done as she decided it was to be and as I stood on the side of the bed and watch with great pride what every doubts I may have had about her ability to become a mother melted away, this was our first child, this was only his second day on earth outside of her body and she was already an expert mother.  She would have willing given her life for him to live.  There are a lot of things that Renee' has no interest, things she sought no skills to do, but Renee' was born to be pregnant and born to be a mother. She was a stunningly beautiful young woman who had no role models to learn from so this had to be something from within her, motherhood was as natural to her as breathing air and she did it so well, not sloppy, not halfway, everything was done to perfection with her own special extra touch and if we could have afforded them, she would have happily bore me a dozen or more children.  They don't give medals or promotions for being a good wife and mother but if they did, Renee' would have a chest full. 


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Prescription Induced Depression and Antidepressants
No one knows what the future holds for them so I was as surprised as anyone when I experienced a Brain Aneurysm September 9 2008.   I was flown by a medical helicopter to Cox Hospital in Springfield Mo where I spent 12 days in ICU and 10 of those days I have no memory and I suspect that was intentional, that doctors gave me medication designed to make me forget those days.  All total I spend 16 days in the hospital and I do remember the 4 miserable days before I was released.  I was sleep deprived, I don't know if this is true for all modern hospitals but after the crises was over Cox Hospital wasn't a place for healing, much of my time was spent struggling to be "allowed" much needed healing sleep which was impossible with all the beeps and bings and constant blood pressure and insulin monitoring which was necessary for my survival.  I suspect they allowed me to go home early because I began to complain and threatened to leave and catch a bus home but I survived and after 16 days in Cox I was released and came home from the hospital brain injured. 

Home where I could heal and sleep I began to bounce back but that was short lived.  Before my aneurysm I avoided doctors a discipline I developed from my criminal investigation experience but now with an injured brain and reduced confidence in my own self I made a mistake putting my faith in experienced doctors who did nothing to heal me and began to treat me with drugs that I really didn't need.  With reduced confidence and injured brain I never questioned when 2 weeks after coming home from the hospital my doctor put me on the Beta Blocker Metoprolol Tartrate to lower my high normal blood pressure.  I wasn't myself so I did what I was told then six months later I was feeling so mentally miserable and I because I was unable to get anyone to pay attention to my concerns I wrote in a letter to my doctors that the "joy had left my life".  My doctor diagnosed me as "depressed", I couldn't sleep, and unknown to me these were the common side effects of the Beta Blocker Metoprolol that he had put me on six months earlier to lower my blood pressure.  My doctor didn't tell me that these were the well known side effects of Metoprolol, why would doctors prescribe a drug that is known to make their patients mentally ill, especially prescribe it to someone recovering from a Brain Aneurysm, that drug made me mentally ill so when he just prescribed Mirtazapine 15mg and Deplin 7.5mg to treat my depression and sleeping problems I didn't have the mental capacity or confidence to questions his treatment.  He didn't do any blood test to determine my dopamine and serotonin levels to see if I needed or would be benefited by an anti-depressant, he just guessed at it and he guessed wrong and it almost cost this veteran his life.  The high blood pressure Beta Blocker Metoprolol made me mentally ill and the anti-depressant Mirtazapine destroyed my life and there are experienced physicians who agree that anti-depressants are worthless and dangerous.   Too late to benefit me, October 10 2016 The American Heart Association acknowledged major depression and bi-polar related to beta blockers such as Meteprolol was common in persons my age but this was already acknowledgement by the FDA as a side effect in 2008 and my doctor should have known it.  Struggling to recover I spent a miserable 6 long years on the Beta Blocker Metoprolol the damage it caused to my relationships, my life, my business, my investments, and my life savings are all none recoverable.  I survived a Brain Aneurysm with almost no linger brain damage only to have doctors in my after care almost cause my death with prescription drugs and that is why my story must be told. I have no choice but to live the rest of my life with the outcome of what Metoprolol and Mirtazapine did to me so I tell my story to make others aware and perhaps it might make some doctors take their profession more seriously than my doctors did with me.  When my doctor found I was depressed he should have been taken off Metoprolol to relieve my depression and restore my sleep and suggested a different course to lower my blood pressure and the doctors that came after that doctor should have connected my symptoms with the side effects of the Beta Blocker Metoprolol but none of them did.  It all started with that drug.  The Mirtazapine helped my sleeping but looking back I don't think it did anything to treat my depression and may have made it worse because I continued to slide deeper and deeper into that dark hellish pit and it turned me into a very angry man who found fault with everyone.  After Father's Day 2010 I went by myself to the VA and had an emotional break down in my doctor's office, they almost hospitalize me that day.  I cried uncontrollable for 30 minutes and my VA doctor doubled my Metoprolol because my blood pressure had risen and he increased my Mirtazapine dose to 30 mg telling me I was "Bi Polar" and then he scheduled appointments with a psychiatrist, psychologist, and a counselor.  I wasn't "Bi Polar" before I started taking the Beta Blocker Metoprolol, it made me "Bi Polar" confirmed in a recent study that found that Beta Blockers like Metoprolol can make otherwise healthy people "Bi Polar".  These drugs changed my personality, they altered me and destroyed my life but I didn't know what they were doing to me, I was still trusting doctors to know what they were doing and they all told me that my condition was due to my aneurysm when it was the Beta Blocker Metoprolol that started it all.  They made me into a mentally ill man and then I was expected to figure it out.  Thank God, by accident I did after 6 long miserable years figure it out and I will never put my faith in a medical doctor again. 

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After 6 long and painful years, January 1 2015 not caring if I lived or if I died, I began to reduce the dose of all my prescription drugs to go off of them.  I began to walk and change my diet.  It took 90 days to get off my drugs, 6 months to loose enough weight to go off my high blood pressure medication Metoprolol but as I detoxed the sky began to clear and the sun began to come out in my life.  All my symptoms blamed on my aneurysm began to disappear.  My memory came back, I could focus and maintain my attention and that is when I started researching the drugs I had been prescribed and found all my symptoms were side effects of the Beta Blocker Metoprolol.  It made me disabled and mentally ill and all my doctors missed this by blaming it on my aneurysm.  April 30, 2015 I began to wear a Fitbit Charge HR it empowered me to continue to heal myself and take greater charge over my life.  My first year I walked 10,033,638 steps, climbed 2076 floors, walked 5,457.04 miles and burned 1,522,004 calories and while exercise was very important part of my healing, I estimate that diet change was 80% of what healed me as it resulted in huge weight loss. 

I soon discovered that doctors are upside down when it comes to weight loss and nutrition, following their guidelines resulted in weight gain and poor health.  I also discovered that exercise is only 20% of weight loss, food is the other 80% and sugar and processed foods were the primary cause of my weight problems and they caused hunger and cravings.  Sugar has no nutritional value, humans can live without sugar and by eating very low carb and giving up sugar, processed foods, starch, and grain and eating grass fed meat with saturated animal fat, oily fish, eggs, whole fat dairy, avocados, vegetables, berries, raw nuts, dark chocolate, coconut, and very limited fruit because sugar is sugar no matter from where it comes, I lost 82 pounds, I lowered by BMI from 36 to 24 and this allowed me to go off blood pressure medication as my blood pressure fell below 120/80 and my resting heart rate dropped from the mid 80s to the low 60 beats per minute.  I also gave up all over the counter medications because they also have side effects that impacted my life in a negative way.  Taking Ibuprofen at night time would trigger my PTSD nightmares.  Making these changes saved my life, my life expectancy went from 82 years to 93 and there is a 50/50 probability that I could live to 100 years of age if I keep the weight off and continue to exercise 3 days a week. 

My VA Psychiatrist discharged me from her care telling me she could find nothing wrong with me, no depression, sleep disorder, PTSD, ADHD, Bi-Polar and sleep disorder all disappeared when I went off my prescription drugs.  My last physical was April 2016 and everything was perfect, I continue to be free from all prescription medications. 

Today I continue to avoid sugar, fruit, processed foods, starch, and grain and I walk 10 miles a day and every other day I do 80 push-ups, 40 pull ups, 40 squats, and a 2 minute plank.   I have walked as many as 47 miles in a single 24 hour period just to prove to myself that I could and I am pain free.


My Childhood

Prescription drugs robbed me of my memories, I can't describe the feeling of having ones memories taken but I want to make certain I leave bread crumbs in case it happens again so I record my memories in a very public place should I need the help of Goggle and others should my memories be taken from me again.

I was born in the 1950s into a rural southern American family of common descent.  My father was a 1945 Alma Arkansas High School graduate, who not long after graduation was drafted so he joined the US Navy November 4, 1945 and served in the Pacific on the ARD-29 which was a floating dry dock that was towed.  He was on the ARD-29 in the summer of 1946 during Operation Crossroads.  My father received an Honorable Discharged November 7 1947 and I have no know knowledge what he did from the time of his discharge until he married his childhood sweetheart January 15 1949 but I suspect he may have moved to Okmulgee Oklahoma where he attended OSU Institute of Technology where he studied in auto body repair an occupation that my father was employed all his long life.  My mother like many of her generation didn't finish high school and she married when she was seventeen and two and a half months old.  My mother was a homemaker all of her life bearing four sons.  My parents were good and decent people by common measure and church and community standards of that day.  In the earliest years of my life my parents were not church goers, but did profess to be Christians.  I have a faint memory of a time when my father drank beer, I believe Falstaff and Paps were what he favored, my father gave me my first taste of beer when I was very small I suspect most children of my generation obtained their first taste that way.  My father told his sons that while in the Navy he smoked but gave that up when the stores were mildewed while he was at sea.  He sported two tattoos left to him from his Navy days and of a shore leave in Peal Harbor.  My father was born and grew up during a depression and a world war so as a young man he did like most of his peers, he tried to enjoyed life not knowing when his might end and who can fault him for that. 

It seems my three brothers must have lived a different childhood than I lived.  They have that natural fondness for family and home place that most people have when they get old but I don't have that.  I have struggled to find moments of joy from my childhood and if there were some of these moments, they didn't find a home in my mind nor did my parents record those moments on film.  What I remember about my childhood was how lonely I was until after I was 14 and started working for Bill Morriss.  My loneliness didn't really abate until I was 17 and I met Renee' the young girl I would eventually marry.  My life was school, church, and work.  School was getting on the bus, going to school and coming home.  Church was being told we were going to burn in hell if we didn't go to the alter and cry and pretend and do what the preacher told us to do and there was a lot of yelling and crying, I found it phony and very depressing.  Work was work, physical labor for which we were sometimes paid and sometimes not.  I started working at a part time paid job for the neighbor at 12 then moved up to the peach farm working for Bill Morriss when I was 14, and while we had many moments of great fun, I worked hard sweating in the sun physical labor.  My friends were busy learning to skate, dance, learning social skills and they were involved in after school projects.  I suppose because my parents didn't get to do any of that as children they saw no value in their sons doing it so I grew up dysfunction and socially backwards from most of the kids at Alma School and I was a kid, I was powerless to change it.  I thank God often for the Military Draft and my good sense to enlist in the US Air Force, they got me the hell out of that place, if I hadn't been forced into the military by the draft, I would probably have lived a miserable boring life in Crawford County Arkansas wondering what my life might have been like if I had just done differently.  At least I can walk up to the checkout in almost any store in America wearing one of my US Air Force shirts or my hat and the checkers will thank me for my service to our country and that is worth a great deal to an old person, to know they did something that others find of value.  It hasn't always been that way for my generation because when I was in the Air Force we were not loved by the citizens we served.

When I was about 4 or 5 years old my mother began to attend church.  She couldn't drive so my father would drop us off at church then he would go to be in the woods, sometimes hunting, sometimes fishing, sometime just to be in the solitude of the woods.  I recall him telling my mother that he worked six days a week and Sunday was his only day and he didn't desire to be in church.  In those days he worked at Randall Ford which was just a block off Garrison Ave on 11th Street in Ft Smith Arkansas so he was in the hub of activity of one of the largest cities in Arkansas day in and day out with adults while my mother was home alone with young children so it seems only natural she would desire the company of the adults she found at church while my father would seek the solitude he never received at work or at home but found in the woods as he had done growing up as a child.  My father set a good example for his sons, he worked hard all his life at his occupation, we always had a roof over our heads, lived in the same home all our lives and we never missed a meal and we often had steak and fried potatoes several times each week.  My father was a born natural "engineer", he could build anything and he should have gone to college on the GI Bill when he discharged from the US Navy and become an "engineer" so he could have worked a less physical occupation but like me, I am sure he didn't have anyone in his life to encourage him. "College educated idiots" was how most people around us thought of those who went to college so we had no positive influences around us to seek a college education but we also didn't have student loans and grants like today.

I was of the "duck and cover" generation.  There was a real concern, a real belief that in the late 1950s that the USSR might attack us without warning as Japan had done and if we would only do as we were told then we would survive so just as schools practice fire drills, my elementary school practiced "duck and cover" in case of an atomic bomb attack.  I remember seeing this film so my generation grew up under the cloud that each day could be our last, we never had that sense of feeling safe.  This may seem hard for children of today to understand and I suspect most of my generation have forgotten but at our school's recommendation, as part of our national civil defense, my school mates wore dog tags so in the event of an atomic bomb attack our burnt little bodies could be identified.  Living with the belief that we might be killed at any moment was bad enough but to make it worse, if the Russians didn't kill us then we were told at church that we were sinners, we were born bad and God was going to return just any day and he would destroy the world, he would kill us and burn us in a lake of fire for eternity and this belief was reinforced by my mother as I recall a time when our Supreme Court issued a ruling that caused our mother to believe God was going to destroy our world and ministers preach this today, how something our government has done will bring the wrath of God down upon us.  Our mother gathered my older brother and I in the front yard and read to us from the Bible while we waited for our father to come home after work, waiting for the destruction of our world by a God who was going to kill us because of a ruling our government had made, this left an impression on me at a very young age.  The 1950s was a very scary time for a young kid to grow up and the 1960s was no better as I was 10 years old during Cuban Missile crises.  I was 11 when JFK was assassinated, and I was 13 years old when the Vietnam War began in earnest.  From my earliest memories we were subjected to one Polio vaccine after another so it was one frightening thing after another during my childhood and they all pretty much ended the same, we were either going to get very sick or I was going to die young so there is little wonder that so many of my generation were using drugs and having sex in their teens as it seemed certain that at a very early age that ole "Hank Williams" got it right, "I'll never get our of this world alive.  It has been said that my parents generation are how they are because they were born into the depression well what future did my generation have to look forward to?  Tom Brokaw wrote that my parents generation was the "Greatest Generation" but the children of my generation might not have had to worry about where their next meal came from but they had the worry of a sudden death from a Nuclear bomb or the return of Jesus and yet we somehow grew up to advance man's existence far beyond anything ever imagined.  Just as my parent's childhood influenced my life, the gloom and doom of my childhood influenced some of my decisions that I made in my teenage years and that influenced the lives that my children would live, it influenced the decisions of many of my generation.  Like many of my generation I sought to "live for today" because there might not be a tomorrow for any of us but I still planned for a future.

I have always had a curious nature.  When I was in the first grade, I wanted to know what made the hands on my mother's watch go around its face so I took it apart.  I figured out on my own how to disassembled her watch then discovered I didn't have the skill to reassemble it.  I got a belting from my father for that.  I was curious, my school wasn't satisfying my curiosity and I was physically punished for my curiosity so I live a boring childhood.  Mostly it seemed I was expected to eat, sleep, and do as I was told and that was to be my life, I am not sure why my parents wanted children, what was our purpose?  There were a few diversions.  I read a lot of books.  The school library censored many books because they didn't met the approval of religious leaders in my home town but the Ozark Regional Library put a branch in Alma and they didn't censor so I got to read many books to occupy my time, most of my life was lived through the lives of those within these books and the books I brought home seemed to be invisible to my parents.  I read many books that I know my parents would have objected, yet not one time do I recall my mother or my father asking me what I was reading or did I see them open one of my books to see what they were about.  Our preachers condemned TV and Movies, there were some TV shows we were not allowed to watch but apparently these preachers had never visited a library because I have no memories of any books they condemned and I would sometimes smuggle a paperback and set in the back of the church and read while the minister would rant and rave about the modern progress of our world being sinful.  As a young teen I could walk into a local store that sold magazines and flip through the pages of Playboy magazine and not one mention of these magazines were ever made when the preacher was shouting about sins of the world.  The 1960s was a very strange time for a kid to grow up in.

My father taught my older brother and I how to swim, he was a good swimmer, liked to dive, swim under water, he had a dare devil side to him.  Even in retirement, he bought a rubber boat to raft down creeks and rivers.  I am not sure our mother ever learned how to swim, she was always the cautious person, always seem afraid of adventure.  Our father taught us how to shoot, but we only did it a couple of times.  He taught us how to fish but we could only fish with our parents because our mother feared we might fall in and drown.  I am not a good swimmer mostly because I was raised to be fearful of the water.  When we had difficulty with our homework, it was our father who would sometimes set with us helping.  He understood mathematics better than anyone I knew, better than I do today and when I wanted to take the easy math courses in high school, my father required that I take the advanced math courses like Algebra and Geometry .  I learned how to file my income taxes because my father set down with me when I was about 18 and taught me how to do it and to my father's credit, not mine, I filed my own income taxes for more than 40 years, I did it until my Brain Aneurysm in 2008 robbed me of that ability.  When I was about ten or eleven our father bought us a young unbroken colt, a saddle, and a bridle, I believe "Ginger" was the name given to our horse but I had no friends who owned horses, I knew nothing about horses neither did my older brother or our parents so while we tried a few times to break the horse, we had no luck.  If I had known Bill Morriss at the the time things might have turned out different as Bill owned and rode horses, he helped many kids in our neighborhood, built them a club house on his property and his sister who lived in our neighborhood had a mini rodeo on their farm where some older kids went to practice up for the local rodeos.  Our father wasn't a horse guy and he was too busy working to help my older brother and I learn anything about it so the horse was eventually sold to a girl who would come to play a pivotal role in my life.   Our father taught us how to hunt, we sometimes went squirrel hunting with our father but a few years after the birth of our two younger brothers, five and seven years after my birth, my father began to attend church and this brought about a major change in our Sunday activities, the one day our father was off work and could do things with us.  If our mother did anything with us, I don't remember it, our mother was our task master, she was always finding stuff for us to do like pick berries for the neighbors.  It was only our father who did the things boys liked to do.  Before our father started attending church he was always fun loving but church going changed him into a serious person.  We began to keep the Sabbath, I can recall setting on our porch watching the cars drive by on Sunday because to do much anything else would be "against the Sabbath".  Arkansas had blue laws that prohibited many businesses from being open so it was nothing like it is today, our children cannot image what it was like.  Before my father began to attend church, most of Sunday was occupied with outdoor family activities such as driving to White Rock to look for wild growing Muscadines, fishing, hunting, swimming in the summer, driving the go cart our father built us or just riding our bikes.  There are photos of my older brother and I at Lake FT Gibson in Oklahoma, Shores Lake, and Monte Ne.  My father owned a convertible Nash Rambler and liked to drive and see the "lay of the land".  My early memories of him was he was a fun guy, a very involved father but after my father joined my mother in attending church our Sundays pretty much became a day of rest where the kids set around bored to tears while our parents slept because to do anything else was against the Sabbath.  My parents took on the nature of the "gloom and doom" ministers that preached that if it felt good, if it was fun then in must be a "sin" because a life of "sack cloth and ashes" was the life the righteous should live.  One of my younger brothers who never knew our father before he stated going to church referred to our father as a "tyrant" which is a pretty accuracy description as to what church going turned our fun loving father into.  Before church took him from us, he built my older brother and I a go cart that we ran the wheels off so I have many fond memories of him when he was a good and involved father.  At my father's funeral in 2009 little was said about him being a family man, the only mention that he was father of four sons was during the customary reading of the survivors, mostly his funeral was about his King James Bible and his devotion to his church, a fitting and accurate description of most of my father's adult life. This seems selfish that one would invest so much of their time and resources trying to get themselves into heaven and invest so little into the children that one brings into our world but that is how all religions work, that is how Christianity works, it is all about church.  In my youth I can remember a sign that many displayed on their walls that listed, 1.  God, 2.  Family, 3. Work, so getting ones self into heaven was more important than the children they brought into our world, and people wonder what is wrong in our world.  If God created man and families and work are God's plan for man the sign should read, 1. Family, 2. Work, 3. God, because to put one's family first and to work hard is to do God's plan.  My childhood experience with church is why I have never attended church all my adult life.

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Crash of Air National Guard Jet - There was nothing like video games and we didn't watch TV as much as people do today so on a warm evening in the late 1950s or early 1960s we were in the backyard when a pair of jets flew over so low they caught our attention and we watched as they came so close to each other that they touched in mid air, soon a parachute opened and for a moment we though the pilot was going to come down on our house, his chute was directly over head but as we watched he floated over the sky landing far in the distance.  The phone rang, the Air National Guard Jet that the pilot had bailed out of crashed directly behind my great uncle Alpha Peters house which in those days was the second home on the left when one turns off 81 road onto old 88 church road north of Rudy Arkansas.  It was quite a spectacle for a young boy maybe 8 years old.  It was dark by the time we arrived and there were military and police vehicles everywhere.  We were not allowed to venture into the crash site but one could smell the fuel and there had been some fire in the brush.  Somehow we came into possession of the compass from the jet.  The glass was broke, the liquid had spilled out but the compass still worked.  Not sure how we came into possession of it or where that compass might be today.  It was said to have been the 188th National Jet which in that time was flying the RF-84F so I assume that was the kind of jet that we witnessed that evening.  I have tried to find a record of this crash but have been unsuccessful.  I don't recall if any of the pilots died in that crash.  <Return to Menu>

Space Age - Ironically if not for the USSR, if not for the communist and America's fear and hatred of atheism, America would have likely never engaged in manned Space Exploration when it did.  I remember well the view of many Americans in the 1950s who believed that Jesus was going to return in their lifetime, everyone said this was going to happen, Rev Billy Graham preached it would happen so spending time and money on manned Space Exploration when the world would soon be destroyed by God was considered wasteful and going against God's plan for man.  It was the "if God intended for man to fly he would have given him wings" mentality so it is very unlikely that America would have put a man on the moon in 1969 if USSR hadn't in 1957 put a satellite into space. We didn't have a space program, NASA didn't exist, it was created July 29 1958 because of the USSR space accomplishments.  The US Navy had attempted to put a satellite in space but failed, the US Army had military weapon interest but it wasn't likely anything was going to occur when it did but the USSR changed that and when America tried to play catch-up our first televised attempt at getting a rocket off the pad ended in failure

I know it is difficult for young people to grasp just how backwards and unprogressive a great many people were before 1980, most common people viewed college educated people as "idiots" and having lived it, it is like two different worlds of then and now.  In the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s most of my elders stated with absolution conviction and authority that Jesus would return in their lifetime but these elders have since died being proven wrong.  Jesus didn't return, the world continues to turn and man is living better today than at anytime in my six decades.  When I was born in 1952 most people in rural Arkansas had smelly stinking outhouses, and baths were something they took maybe one a week but today most have modern toilets and bath daily, life then and life now is completely different.  The birth control pill was approved by the FDA in 1960 but as late as 1967 Bill Baird was arrested at Boston College for distributing a condom and foam to a female student, many states banned the use of the pill by married and unmarried alike and it wasn't until 1972 when the US Supreme court stuck all of these laws down over the objections of "conservatives" that freedom began to over come religious ignorance so I was born into a very backward world that was greatly controlled by ignorance founded solely and completely in religion.  Today we enjoy many modern inventions and life saving medical advancements that came to us solely because of NASA research conducted for our journey to the moon and it almost didn't happen because if Richard Nixon had won the 1960 presidential election, the closest election before that time, our world may have ended in Nuclear destruction in October 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis but if we somehow avoided total destruction, I think it very unlikely a President Richard Nixon would have challenged our nation to go to the moon, I don't think a republican president in that time would have spent the money on such a venture anymore than a republican president or republican congressman will spend money today, they all seem to have their heads stuck in the past which is what "conservative" means, "lets do it the old way, always do it the old way" and anyone who seeks change, progress or advancement is demonized by conservatives as a "liberal" so I think it unlikely we would have ever gone to the moon in my lifetime if not for President John F Kennedy's challenge followed by his assignation.  I think our nation went to the moon to honor our dead president so a great many things lined up during my lifetime to change man's direction from a path of ignorance that we have been upon for thousands upon thousands of years.  The "Space Age" was just one of those lucky happenings that came out of all of this, like discovering how to use fire or inventing the wheel and our research resulting from our Space program brought us so many advancements for which it will never receive credit.  

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US Air Force test pilot Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier five years before my birth but it was the X15 that my grade school friends and I wanted to fly.  Scott Crossfield, Neil Armstrong and ten other test pilots were found often in our Weekly Readers.  One has to understand that in the youth of my grandfathers the fastest speed that man could travel was on the back of a horse or sometimes from the coach on a train.  Men like Jimmy Doolittle did much to change all of that; if remembered at all today, this Medal of Honor winner is mostly known for the daring Doolittle Raid, his generation knew him as their "Chuck Yeager". Doolittle won speed records, he was first to fly from east to west coast then broke his own record by repeating the feat in 1/2 the time.  Because of men like Doolittle and later Yeager I was born into this world where for the first time in man's history sonic booms were testimony that man could travel more than twice the speed of sound.  This was a really big deal that has been lost on my children's generation.  Everything around us can be traced back to these advancements in speed as surely as civilization can be traced back to the taming of fire and the invention of the wheel.  I had a black and white photograph of a real "faster than sound" Lockheed F-104 Starfighter hanging on my bedroom wall and this supersonic jet first flew in 1954 or just two years after my birth and it was "THE Air Force Jet" of most of my youth or until the 1960s when it was replaced with the F-4 Phantom II E so this was a very exciting time for a young boy to grow up.  Today, via UTube Videos one came ride along in the cockpit of the X-15, B-52 or a Space Shuttle mission so our modern progression has given each of us a more full live experience.  Girls that I knew pretty much did as their mothers ,grandmothers, and great grandmothers did before them, their only interest was in dolls, puppies, Susie Home Bake toys, fashion and clothes.  They dreamed of marrying well, staying at home and raising children.  For the most part girls were stuck in the past and only wanted to live as their raising encouraged them to do while a few rare boys like Jimmy Doolittle, Ira C Eaker, and Neil Armstrong dreamed of things that had never been before. This isn't a slam against girls, I am only reporting the way life was in the 1950s, 1960s, and even the 1970s when only boys were drafted into the military while the girls remained safely at home and out of harms way mostly because they were raised to believe they were not physically strong enough or mentally smart enough to do as men. 

The Mercury Space Program began during my second grade, every boy my age wanted to become an Astronaut, I suppose this might have been what it was like when Columbus returned from his voyage with his tales of adventure, men and boys wanted to go to sea and travel to the exotic lands seeking fortune and fame.  Alan Shepard's made the first flight inspiring President John F Kennedy to challenge our nation to put a man on the moon before the decade was over but no one stayed in the headlines for long as names like Gus Grissom, John Glenn, and Gordo Cooper soon took center stage in our Weekly Readers as they did more than the one before them.   I was eight years old when Alan Shepard rode the first rocket into space, nine when Gus Grissom, John Glenn, and Scot Carpenter made their flightsI was ten when Walter Schirra made his six orbits and eleven when Gordo Cooper orbited 22 times and was the first to sleep in space.  With the President's challenge fresh in the minds of Americans, the Gemini Project followed the Mercury Space Program and I was twelve when the first two man flight of Gus Grissom and John Young went into space.  That was followed with nine more Gemini missions all focused on gathering the knowledge needed to go to the moon then the Apollo Program began and Apollo One was a sobering reminder that while NASA had made the Mercury Space Program and Gemini Programs look easy, Space was a complex and dangerous business, I was fourteen years old when Gus Grissom, Edward White, and Roger Chafee died during training for Apollo One.  Their death's slowed the speed of accomplishment so several years went by with no new missions while NASA went back to make sure future missions were safe.  I was sixteen years old when they resumed in 1968 when Apollo Seven was launched and reality that President Kennedy's challenge might actually happen seemed within reach.  Four more Apollo missions orbiting the moon and testing the Lander occurred then July 16, 1969 when I was 17 years and less than 2 months old Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin blasted off from Cape Kennedy on the Apollo Eleven mission to land and walk on the moon.  On July 20 1969 I watched "The Eagle" land on the moon.  While I lived a boring childhood because my older brother and I weren't not allowed to do anything but school, church, and work, I lived in an exciting time and was lucky to have been a "spectator" of the greatest accomplishment every achieved by a man.  In my lifetime, man build a spacecraft and traveled to the moon and returned safely, this was a very big deal.  I was in my forth week of my Air Force Basic Training when Apollo 16 blasted off headed for the moon and when they splash landed eleven days later, I was in my final week of my Basic Training.  It was 10 years later, in 1982 when I was 30 years old that I was in Florida interviewing a witness in a murder investigation that I toured Cape Kennedy and saw the exact spot where man left our earth to land on our moon. To my knowledge I am the only one of my family to have visited Cape Kennedy.  What a life I have lived. 

Dad build a shop about 1964 next to our house and opened the O'Kelley and Sons Body Shop.  I guess every father hopes their son will value their craft and follow in their footsteps but none of us did.  All of us had to help sand cars and work around the shop some but repairing accident damaged cars was very hard work and it is now known today that much of the chemicals and compounds used during that time were very harmful to the health of the men who did it.  This shop burned down when it was struck by lightening in the fall of 1969 and we helped our father build a new shop which still stands on the southwest corner of Arkansas Highway 282 and I 540 today. Both my older brother and I began to work for our neighbors when we turned 12.  Mostly it was mowing, trimming hedge, or picking berries but when I turned 14 my older brother who was always good to me got me a job working with him at Bill Morris's Orchard View Peach Farm which was about a mile down the road from our home.  At 14 I was doing hard physical back breaking sweating in the sun labor on a real working farm from sunup to sundown during the summers.  I doubt our government would allow a 14 year old to do the work that I did, I am lucky to be alive as I was drug off the back of the Massey Ferguson 135 Orchard Special tractor by low limbs on peach trees while pulling a discs through the peach orchards many times, that disk was just feet behind and I had to jump up on top of the disk a few times to avoid being ran over by it but that was just considered acceptable risk when doing farm labor.  Much of our work was irrigating the orchards.  My older brother and I would break down the 30 foot sections of pipe then pickup an individual pipe by myself and carry the pipe through the trees and put it back together as we went.  I was small in body so it was difficult just to carry a pipe by myself and more so to balance it and carry it through the trees and in the irrigated parts of the orchards it had to be done while trying to walk in mud several inches deep.  It wasn't uncommon to loose a shoe and the mud contained a lot of pointed peach seeds but I did no different than my older brother or out my father, and grandfathers did when they were children, I worked.  My sons didn't have to do that.  I learned so much during that time and twenty years later Bob Seger would release his song "Like a Rock" each time I would hear it play, my mind would return to that time when I was "working for peanuts, didn't have a care", and my body was "Like a Rock". 

Growing up my older brother and I were not allowed by our mother to play organized sports.  We were raised in fear as our mother was afraid we might become seriously injured but after we were gone from her home she did allow our two younger brothers such liberties.  There was five years that separated me and my next younger brother and we were raised like two different generations.  My older brother and I were not allowed to be in the band, my older brother was in the FFA but mostly because our father worked and our mother didn't drive we had no ability to be involved in anything so our life was doing chores, school, and church and once our father began to attend church our parents took church seriously, every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Thursday night.  I grew up shy, withdrawn and with no social skills, I was 15 when I had my first set down dinner in a restaurant and that was with Bill and Rose Morriss and their daughter Marla.  My first time to have a set down meal with my parents in a restaurant was their 50th Wedding Anniversary. 

Disagreement over religion caused considerable contention between me and my parents.  They believed in the bible, believed it is the inspired word of God and they believed in "spare the rod and spoil the child" and I wasn't spoiled, I received my last beating from my father's belt when I was just weeks from my 17th birthday and it came because I refused to allow my parents to tell me who could or could not be my girlfriend.  The girl who had bought our horse maybe five years before had become my latest girlfriend.  I wasn't permitted a car, I had no social life of any kind but she was allowed to drive her parents car and my parents having met her five or six years before and not since decided I wasn't to have anything to do with her because she and her parents were Catholic and there were rumors about her reputation but when I refused break up with her out came my father's belt and that belting resulted in me taking my father's belt from him as he swung it at me and then leaving home and spending a very long, cold, and miserable night on the creek bank and it created a major change in how my parents and I would relate from that moment on.  My 1964 photo to the left is how our home looked in 1969, I ran out of the home and across the yard, down the bank and across the road, over a barbed wire fence and into a pine thicket to escape my father's wrath.  I think it is important to tell this story so other fathers might consider a different path than beating their child with a belt.  I took control of my life and I gave my parents no say in my future.  I tried not to be unreasonable, I didn't drop out of school, didn't drink or use drugs and I worked a job, one that required hard labor, and I wasn't having sex with my girlfriend, she was really little more than a friend who was a girl so all I did was refused to submit to my parents religious dictatorship and it was that decision and my being drafted two years later that changed my life forever resulting in my independent and exciting life that I would have never experienced if I had not made the choices I made when I received my last beating in April of 1969 of my father's belt.  I suspect that my two younger brothers likely were spared my fate because I stood up to my parents.  I don't think my father was a bad person, he like so many others just got caught up in the ignorance that many of these backward churches and preachers teach and while my father never told me he was sorry for his actions, in his later years he never acted wrongly towards me.  After dark I returned to the yard, got my 1969 Harley Davidson 125cc  Rapido motorcycle and spent a cold and miserable night on the creek, I returned home the next day and told my parents that I didn't choose to be born and they owed me a high school education and they were going to provide for me until I received it.  Neither of my parents had anything to say and they stay out of my life but my girlfriend dumped me.  She didn't want to have anything to do with a boy whose parents believed there was something wrong with her because she was Catholic but all the religious nonsense forced upon me stopped and I began to live my life the way I wanted to live it and church became a very minor part until I entered the Air Force and I stopped going all together and with no regret.  I don't blame my parents for being as they were, they were a product of their generation, environment, and community, they did as they were taught how they were influenced by others or how they were raised but I chose a different path.  My children have no clue what living under a religious dictatorship was like, they have nothing to compare.  I wasn't a bad student, one can see from my Certificate of Attendance that I wasn't a trouble maker, I attended school and class even though I wasn't allowed by my parents to be in any of the activities, I just didn't make very good grades mostly because I lived in a state of childhood depression much of my junior and high school years. What would have been the point to working heard for good grades if Jesus was coming back just any day, it would be waste so I didn't apply myself because I was given no reason to believe I would have any kind of a future.  I was in a hurry to experience life before my life was taken from me but one couldn't talk an adult about this, you would get a "religious" clobbering.  If they were honest, I am sure my brothers would be forced to admit they had life no better.  In my 1970 graduating Yearbook all my classmates have rows and rows of clubs and other activities they were allowed by their parents to do.  Mine has only "Science Club 9th Grade" but that was only because it didn't require my parent's permission and we never met outside of class and even that created a conflict for me because science told me one thing, church told me the total opposite so I had no motivation to believe either.

I have always loved my parents, tried to honor and respect them but I have never understood them and I tried very hard to be different with my own sons. 

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Motorcycles  - When I was 14 my older brother totaled his car causing my parents to refused to allow me to have a car but after I turned 15 my farm boss Bill Morriss persuaded my father to allow me to buy a small motorcycle but I was allowed only to ride it to work and back.  My parents didn't buy any of these, I worked at hard labor and with the money I earned I bought my motorcycles.  My first new one was the 1969 Harley Davidson Rapido.

Motorcycle  Year   Sold 
Used Honda Cub 50CC scooter grey in color 1967 1968 
1967 Harley Davidson 65cc Sport red in color Used 1968 1969 
1969 Harley Davidson 125CC Rapido orange new. 1969 1971 
1970 Harley Davidson 350CC Sprint red but painted it white.  Used  1971 1972 
I enlisted in the USAF March 21 1972 and after that I did as I pleased       
1972 Suzuki GT750J Le Mans Newport Blue I bought this new in 1972 (nice video) 1972 1975 

Gave up motorcycles to be a good husband and father

1982 Honda Interstate 1100CC Wineberry 1988 1988 
1988 Honda Goldwing Grey 1500CC  Photos of my Goldwing 1988 2001 

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Alma High School - I wasn't what any teacher might recall as a memorable student.  I did the best I could with the talents and encouragement that I received and I wasn't born with the six decades of knowledge that I have today, I had to depend upon others to guide me and my father worked long and hard and my mother was a high school dropout and I have no memories of her helping with our homework so my brothers and I did what was expected of us and little more.  When I was a senior in high school the assistant principal pulled Renee' aside and attempted to persuade her to break up with me telling her that if she married me that she would spend her life pregnant and barefoot and when I tell this story to educators today I know they find this story difficult to believe but that is how it was for me.  I took the hard courses, I wasn't a slacker, I just had no reason to apply myself as college wasn't possible.  There were no grants, no loans available to me, and scholarships were not plentiful.  My parents as most people around me believed college educated people were "idiots" so I had no encouragement to do anything other than attempt to obtain the best job that I could after graduating high school.  I wasn't happy about it but my brothers and I were just not raised to reach higher than our "class" and I can hardly see how that was our fault.  My mentor Bill Morriss wanted me to stay and work the farm and that isn't a condemnation, he did more for me than anyone else. 

While I didn't have the funds or encouragement to go to college, a few months before my high school graduation I enrolled in the United Electronics Institute in Little Rock Arkansas and began correspondence studies, I completed the first six lessons before high school graduation.  I had saved enough money to pay for my first year of the two year program and my father agreed to loan me money as I needed it to help me pay for my room and board.  Upon graduation I was pretty much assured a high paying job repairing electronics.  In those days people actually had their TVs and Radios and other electronics repaired so this was a promising career so after graduation May 29 1970 I worked all summer saving money.   Sept 21st then I packed my meager belongings into my old spotted $300 VW that I had bought and headed down the Interstate for a long slow journey to Little Rock, the top speed on my VW was about 60 MPH on the flat.  I shared a mobile home with two other students and one of my friends for a week and at the end of the first week of school I was so home sick that I dropped out and returned home.  My friend came home two weeks later.  I had never been prepared by my parents to live on my own, from my letters to my girl friend I know I wasn't mature enough to live on my own but I knew that I wanted to do something with my life and being dumped out into the "real world" just a 4 months out of high school wasn't easy, I didn't know how to take care of myself, it was like being thrown into a pool and told "learn to swim", I was homesick and missed my girlfriend so much that I dropped out, returned home and went back to work on the Peach Farm briefly then my older brother got me a job working at Gerbers Products. That week in Little Rock was as far as I had ever been from my home in Alma, it was my first time in Little Rock, my first time to sleep in a bed that wasn't in my parents or my grandparent's home or one of my high school friends home.  I don't see how that was my fault that I didn't have the skills to live independently from my parents, no one taught me or encouraged me, it was all for me to try to figure out.  All my parents wanted for their sons was for us to work, go to church and marry the girl they picked out for us.   That wasn't the life I wanted but I didn't know how to go about getting the life I wanted.  I am lucky my life turned out as well as it did, lucky I bumped into Renee' on the road near out home and we fell in love and lucky that my country drafted me forcing me into the US Air Force.


My 1966 Ford Mustang

I suspect my father may have felt badly about his prohibition that prevented me from having a car because in November 1970 when I had been out of High School about six months and started working a full time job at Gerbers I asked my father to co-sign a note at the bank to allow me to buy my Mustang and he did.   I had a lot of fond memories in this car, it was the car that I drove on my first car date, I was 18 years and 6 months old and Renee' and I went to the 22 Drive-in in Ft Smith, she was 1 month shy of 15 so I have always had fond memories of this car.  We went on many adventures in it, she skipped school and went with me to Little Rock in September 1971 and slept in it while it was parked outside on the street during my draft physical.  We have our only Wedding Picture leaning against this car.  This was our only car during the first year of our marriage and I wish I had kept it but when gas prices went high after the October 1973 oil embargo, I sold my Mustang but I always thought I would buy another 1966 Mustang of the same color someday but a few years back I drove a 1966 Ford Mustang and guess what?  They ride like a log wagon, the 289 engine is a real dog compared to the V-6 of today, they have no air conditioning, only an AM Radio, no power or comfort of any kind and they rattle so I decided that a new 2013 Red Mustang Convertible would be a better choice and I love it. 

My 2013 Mustang is a wonderful road car, July 4 2013 it help me avoid what would certainly have been a fatal accident on Interstate 40 when a woman ran me off the interstate, this car handles so well that my skill learned from pursuit driving helped me maintain control when others would have probably lost it.  After long and hard thought and looking at my old checking account records I concluded that my affection for my 1966 Mustang had more to do with my first very memorable car date with Renee' on a Saturday night November 7 1970. It had very little to do with my car and everything to do with that special night, neither of us had ever been on a car date with any one before, this was OUR first car date.  I had a very deep love and affection for Renee' even then and my 1966 Mustang reminded me of just how special that time was.  The photo of me with my 2013 Mustang was taken March 15 2016 in South Park Monet MO with Thunderbird #3 in the background.  Renee' and I had been married one month to the day when we saw this plane fly October 25 1972 at Blytheville Air Force Base.

In April 1975 I acquired a 1974 Fiat X/19 and it was a fun car to drive and to my surprise it was a real chick magnet.  I couldn't believe that so many women were so sallow that all it took was a car to attract them.  I was never forward, the only women that I ever pursued was the girl I married in 1972 but now it was 1975 and I was a single young 22 year old Air Force Sgt and a newly licensed Private Investigator and I would pull into the Dream Castle Drive-in in Blytheville Arkansas in my Fiat to get a burger and young women would come up to me setting in my Fiat and start the conversation with "I like your car" and some asked if they could set in it with me or go for a ride.  That didn't happen to me when I was in High School. 



I am glad today that our nation loves our veterans but it wasn't always that way.  It is certainly easier to put our nation's uniform on and go to war when most Americans support our military but during the Vietnam War it took a very special person to step up and volunteer to fight in an unpopular war and that this has been forgotten.  I was 13 in 1965 when President Johnson sent the first US Marines to fight in combat to Vietnam.  Presidents Truman and Eisenhower had given 100s of millions of tax dollars to try to prevent the corrupt government in South Vietnam from falling.  President Kennedy had sent US Military to establish bases to support the aircraft and "advisors" so American military has been fighting in this war since my birth but it was in 65 when it began to ramp up and body bags began to appear on the nightly news.  By my 16 year of age, my sophomore year of high school our nation was in a "civil war", President Johnson announced he wouldn't seek reelection, Dr Martin Luther King had been murdered and rioting in our major cities were common place, this was followed by the murder of Robert Kennedy and Richard Nixon ran for President in 68 and was elected on a promise that he would get us out of this war and we all thought that would happen just months after he took office, we all thought by the time I graduated High School in May of 1970 the Vietnam War would be over but President Nixon misled the American People who elected him as more than 20 thousand US Military would die before a Peace Accord was agreed upon in January 1973 .  No one in their right mind would want to risk life and limb in a war we know they knew we were not going to win and only a fool would want to be the last man killed in a failed war so I didn't volunteer after I graduated high school.   Renee' didn't want me in the service neither did my parents, people were rioting in the streets, service men were not respected, it was a very unpopular war and most people today have just forgotten all of this. 

Like most of my male peers the Vietnam War was always on my mind growing up as a teenager in America, it greatly influenced my decision making, and some of those decisions have impacted my life.  Decades later I had a Green Beret tell me that we lost Vietnam because of "draftees" and when I told him I was a "draftee" he argued with me telling me if I enlisted in the Air Force I can't be counted as a "draftee".  Well I was drafted but most people will say anything to win an argument when it comes to Vietnam.  Vietnam HD captures some of that time but I doubt anyone can truly tell the story as to what it was like to be a child growing up in the shadow of a war that never seemed to end, to always have that hanging over your head not knowing if one of those body bags was in your future.  At least during WWII there were victories and movement but Vietnam never seemed to change.  While America had troops in Vietnam in the late 1950s I began to take notice when about 1965 Vietnam became a nightly TV news event.  My father would come home from work, we would eat "supper" and then my father would put Huntley and Brinkley on TV and Vietnam was always a part of their news report.  I was 13 years old and we got a nightly dose of Vietnam and it wasn't the news fault, I don't agree with the censorship of War news that is done today, I think our nation owes those who fight and die in our wars the right to be acknowledged, and it wasn't my father's fault because he wanted to know but as year after year passed and it became clear that a young man from a lower class family had no means to avoid that war, the middle income and wealthy class either left the country or went to college and received a deferment but those of the poor class were the ones who were expected to fight and die if need be.  I was of the poor class.   

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Life Gets Serious -  April 19 1971 I the Vietnam Veterans Against the War marched in Washington DC and many toss their medals over a fence constructed by Nixon to keep them out of the US Capital building.  April 22 1971 John Kerry testified before the senate foreign relations committee chaired by Arkansas Senator Fulbright describing the reasons this war must stop.  I turned 19 barely one month later and August 5 1971 when the Draft Lottery was drawn for those born in 1952, this was one lottery that I won.  They processed numbers 1 through 95 and I got a very low number and it was certain that I was going to be drafted and soon.  I got the honor of being the last year that men were actually drafted and forced into the military and I remember that time well.  Only another person who due to no fault of their own has their freedom and liberty taken from them and they are put at risk of loosing their lives can understand what being drafted into the military feels like.  It is a hopeless feeling because you are taken from your friends and family, you are taken from all those you love and who loves you and put in a strange place you don't want to be and while your life is very different, sometimes near the brink of madness, those you care about go on with their lives without you as if you never lived.  Being a retired criminal investigator who has interviewed many rape victims I would say it is like being raped.  There are women who desire sex and aren't raped just as there are people who want to join the military and want to be in the military so being drafted is very much like being raped, you are forced to do something against your will that you don't want to do, we were forced to stand nude in front of strangers, we showered, shit, and urinated in an open common group bathroom inside an old WWII Barracks we were not permitted to leave, we were poked and prodded, had inoculations and dental procedures that we had no say and we did nothing wrong to bring this upon us, we just happened to be born healthy males at the wrong time so this is very much liked rape for a "draftee" because we have no legal rights to say "No" and to tell a draftee to get over it, because others had to do it would be like telling a rape victim to get over it, telling them there are others were raped also.  Unlike rape which rarely goes on for more than a few minutes then they are able to seek help, being drafted into the military goes on for years.  With rape you know that when it is over you can go to the police and hopefully someone will be arrested and be forced to pay for what they did to you but with the draft, no one really cares what is done to you and of course during the rape the person doesn't know if they will be killed and being drafted you never know what tomorrow might bring, there is always the possibility that your life might be forfeited and still no one will be held accountable for what has been done to you, being drafted was a very dreadful experience for a 19 year old. 

No one should pity our nation's "draftees", I don't seek pity, what we deserve is greater respect for what we endured but sadly we are mostly looked down upon, our military service isn't valued as being as great or honorable by many as those who volunteered and some blame us for the loss of Vietnam but in WWII 66% of the the US Armed Forces were drafted but only 25% of those who served in Vietnam were "draftees and 30% of those killed or 17,725 of the 58,307 killed in Vietnam were "draftees"

At the time I was drafted I thought it was going to be the end of my world for me, I thought I might loose the love of my life because in my absence she would find someone new and there was the constant concern that I might loose my life like what could have happened Oct 25 1973 during the Yom Kippur War when SAC was put on DEFCOM III. I couldn't do anything to change any of it but I am a planner, I don't like leaving things to chance so I began to work on ways to try to turn this "negative" into a positive and with my back to the wall I did, it took me decades of dealing with it but I finally came to understand that being drafted and what I did after I was drafted turned out to be the greatest happening in my life and it reached far into my future and is still doing positive things in my life 45 years later but much of that is because of my unique ability to take the negative and turn it into a positive. 

With a very low draft number barely a month went by when I received a letter telling me to report to the Induction Center in Little Rock.  I still remember that day well, Renee' was very concerned and she was very supportive, Renee' didn't have a clue about what I was facing but she was the only person in my life that took an active supportive role.  She had just started the 10th grade, she was 15 years old and she skipped school and I drove my Mustang to Little Rock and in a September morning shade she slept in my Mustang parked on the street outside the Induction Center to show her support of me while I had my draft physical. My physical took 4 hours and she never complained about how long it took. We would get breaks and I would come out and check on her.  A few more weeks passed and I received a letter telling me I was 1A "Available for Military Service" and then October 20 1971 I received my letter telling me to report November 22th to Ft Leonard Wood MO for Basic Training.  The letter informed me that I could enlist in any branch I desired and avoid the draft induction.  That is when I decided I had to act to try to take some kind of control over what was about to be forced upon me.  There wasn't much I could do, a college deferment wasn't an option for me, it isn't like today full scholarships were extremely rare and we didn't' have student loans and there was no job I could take that would pay my way through college in those years and I wasn't going to get financial help from friends or family.  I could refused and become a felon and go to federal prison, I could run off to Canada but I couldn't live in Little Rock on my own the year before so I knew that I wouldn't survive in Canada on my own so my only real hope was to enlist in something better than the US Army.  My name was already on the list for the reserves and guards but those lists were a year long and I would be in the Army by November 20, 1971.  I didn't want to enlist in the Navy as my father did although the Navy had been recruiting me, they wanted me for their 6 year Nuclear program that would put me at sea on Air Craft Carriers or Submarines most of my enlistment and Renee' and I wanted to marry and be together.  I recall my father suggesting the Coast Guard and I checked but it too had a long waiting list of draftees trying to get in.  Because Bill Morriss had been in the US Army Air Force and had many fond memories it was my only real option so I reluctantly chose to enlist in the US Air Force November 10 1972 on the delayed enlistment program and I was guarantee training and a job as an Air Traffic Controller, something that I believe would provide me a good civilian job when I discharged.  Renee' and I were engaged to marry after she turned 18 and graduated high school but the draft made that no longer possible so  she wanted to go with me when I went into the service and we made plans to marry after basic so by pushing my enlistment as far into our future as I could that meant she would be 16 when we married after I completed Basic and she would return with me as my wife to my tech school.  Renee' did turn 16 during my deferment, I packed my bag and January 26, 1972 my parents drove Renee' and I to Mulberry to catch a 4 AM bus to Little Rock, that was a dreadful morning for both of us as we set in the dark clinging to each other in the back seat of my father's car, the bus came and I had to get on it and I left in the dark to go to Little Rock where I would be sworn in and flown to Texas to begin basic.  I set around at the Induction Center most of the day but late in afternoon they put me on a bus and sent me home.  It was so late in the day that a bus to Ft Smith via Hot Springs was the only one available.  I was returned because it had been missed that my draft physical found me to be color blind, out of 6 panels I was normal in only 5 panels and to be an air traffic controller I had to have perfect color vision so they sent me home with instructions to see my recruiter.  I came knocking on Renee's door that night and she was very surprised and happy to see me..  When she got home from school that day she wrote me a wonderful letter but hadn't mailed it and she gave it to me that night and I still have her letter today.  I went to my recruiter the next day and we selected a new MOS, PMEL or Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratory and at the end of February I packed my bag again and rode that early morning bus to Little Rock again just like I did the month before and I set around most of the day at the induction center and then they sent me back again because while based on Air Force Tech orders PMEL didn't require perfect color vision the induction center called the tech school and they refused to take me without perfect color vision.  Renee' was again very happy when I turned up on her door that night but she was expecting it to happen and she was certain that I wouldn't have to go to the service after all.   Surprised to see me back my Air Force Recruiter threw his hands up in the air and told me, "Sorry, since they won't allow you the jobs that your test indicate you are best qualified, the jobs that will get you the best civilian jobs when you get out, I don't know what to offer you, what do you want to do", I told him "I want to wear my dress uniform, work in an air conditioned office and make rank quickly".  I figure if I was going to be forced to go into the military then my government owed me that much.  He said, "you want supply" and he changed my guaranteed job to Inventory Management Specialist and March 21 1972 like twice before, I rode the early morning bus to Little Rock, set around most of the day waiting but this time they swore me in and put me on an evening jet with four other guys and flew me to Texas.  My Recruiter was true to his word, after Basic and Tech School when I arrived at Blytheville AFB July 14 1972 I worked in an air conditioned office, I wore my class A uniforms, and my name appeared on the E5 Staff Sergeant promotion list 34 months after I stepped off the bus at Lackland Air Force Base.  On average it took 6 years to make E5 and I did it in under 3 years.  Air Force Veterans tell me all the time that wasn't possible so I show them my DD-214 which proves it was true.  I didn't just make Staff Sergeant in my first enlistment, I sewed on my stripes with 11 more months to serve in my 48 month enlistment and I did it in a time when the Air Force was reducing their force from a war time force to a peace time force, reducing force size by 40% so there were 40% fewer Staff Sergeant slots available and I got one of them on my first try. 

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United States Air Force


I remember well the day I left for basic, to the right are my enlistment orders, appearing with me are the other guys who left Little Rock that day, I  never laid eyes on them before that day and we were put on a plane in Little Rock, it was my first plane ride and I flown to San Antonio Texas and got on a blue bus and was taken to Lackland AFB in Texas.  We arrived about midnight and they kept us up until about 3 in the morning yelling at us then we got to go to bed for 2 hrs and it started all over again.  I never thought about it before but I am the first of my family to have flown and I did it three more times in 1972 before my 20th birthday. Basic training was hard both mentally and physically and because I worked at a physical job I was in better shape than most of my basic brothers and because Bill Morriss has prepared me since I was 14 years of age to be a responsible person who had to take charge many times on the farm, I fit into the Air Force structure well but ask anyone who goes through Military Basic Training, nothing in my lifetime prepared me for the yelling, pressure, and punishing physical training and while at the time I didn't understand its purpose, I now know they did it to build confidence, to cause us to know we can do a lot more than we believed we could do and so we would know quitting wasn't an option.  I was a nobody from a tiny little town in Arkansas who was stacking boxes of baby food in box cars and I had little experience at life, my 16 year old girlfriend was more worldly, more traveled, she had flown many times by herself  and she had experienced a great many things than I had experienced the day I left for the service.  I had traveled to Tulsa and Little Rock and excluding the few nights spent at my grandparents, the five nights I spent in Little Rock when I was going to school, I had slept less than ten days in a bed not my own but I was expected by my country to meet my military obligations, expected by the Air Force to do my duties so they had to training me and change me from a boy into a military man and according to my love letters home I took to the discipline and structure of the military like a fish in water.  I couldn't change it, couldn't do anything about it so I decided to make the most out of it that I could.

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Air Force Basic Military Training (BMT)

I arrived at Lackland AFB March 21 1972 and was assigned to 3701 Training Squadron Flight 0309 to begin my Basic Training Basic Training was difficult for me, it was difficult for many of us but it was especially so for me because I wasn't there because I wanted to be there, I loved my life back home with Renee', she loved our life back home together, I didn't wanted to be in the US Military, my parents didn't raised me or encourage me to want to be there and I had no experience that prepared me for all the yelling, I wasn't prepared for the hard, demanding mental and physical training and there is no doubt that my experience changed me, I am different because if it, that was the purpose of Basic Military Training, to "train" me to be different, to do things the "Air Force" way, the "military way".  YouTube has a Video about today's AF Basic Training and it isn't half of what we experienced in 1972.   There wasn't any crying permitted in Air Force Basic Training in 1972, if a recruit openly cried, he would have likely been given a dishonorable discharged and sent home.  There were no women Training Instructors or recruits, the Air Force had WAFs but they were not in our chain of command and were not part of our training.  Our experience was more like Stanley Kubrick's movie "Full Metal Jacket".  It was physically the hardest I have ever endured and it was mentally abusive but I didn't just endure, I thrived, I was determined to be the best I could be and from my love letters written home to Renee' I found that I mentally made the best out of it but as a retired law enforcement officer, one who conducted homicide investigations I am qualified to say they don't treat prisoners worse than my Air Force Military Basic Training but it was necessary because faced with an enemy who sought to kill us, crying, running away, and giving up was not an option.  Never give up was our only option.  Our training was designed to remake us into men who would do as Winston S Churchhill said:

"Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—
in nothing, great or small, large or petty—
never give in, except to convictions of honor
 and good sense. Never yield to force.
Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

The wives and children of men who have experienced US Military Basic Training fail to understand that their husbands and fathers have been conditioned and trained to be this way and I am sure that now that women are serving it is happening to them.  I know my wife and children never understood or accept it.  They want us around when they need us but hate having us around when they don't because we "Never give in", that is how my US Air Force Basic Training remade me and just as "carbon" and extreme heat turns softer "Iron" into rock hard "Steel".  I was just a dumb kid whose parents had sheltered him and not allowed him to know life and I had to grow up very fast during my 6 weeks in Basic Training. 

Our very first night in Air Force Basic our Training Instructor told us that our  Basic Military Training was designed to reverse the influence of our mothers and girlfriends so we would accept any order from our superiors, including those that would turn us into stone cold killers.  A recent study has found that military service even without the experience of combat that Basic Military Training changes the personality of most who experience it and I am not sure why this should surprise anyone, that was and still is the primary purpose of Basic Military Training.  It is design to change those who experience it into soldiers, airmen, and sailors who are ready, willing, and able to kill our fellow humans and give our own lives to do it if necessary.  The US Military was and is serious business, this wasn't induction into the boy scouts, this wasn't college where we could dropped out, it wasn't a job we could turn in our notice, In March of 1972 our country was at war something lost on most people and my Basic Military Training was to make a warrior out of me and it was very much like what is displayed in Stanley Kubrick's movie "Full Metal Jacket" except the Air Force BMT that I experienced was two weeks shorter than the US Army and Marines Basic training at that time because we didn't do the hand to hand combat training or extensive weapons training of the infantry soldiers.  We had field training, we trained so we could pass the "confidence course" on our last week of training, we crawled through the dirt and mud, hung from ropes, climbed walls and we train with the M-16 and we marched sometimes 6 miles or more a day we would march.  I earned the Air Force Small Arms Expert Ribbon on the range but we didn't marched with a weapon as the Army and Marines do and the USAF trainees do today. My only experience with the M-16 was on the firing range, we shot 40 practice rounds to sight in our weapon then 40 rounds to qualify.  Anyone who put 35 rounds in the "black" on the target received the small arms expert ribbon.  Apparently my documentation became lost in the processing because while I was given that ribbon by my Training Instructor, it never made it on my records so I only got to wear it briefly but being a southern rural farm boy with lots of practice with my Ruger Mark II .22 pistol, I qualified to receive that ribbon.  There is a photo in my dress uniform wearing the National Defense Ribbon and my Small Arms Expert Ribbon but that honor was short lived because at a records check at Lowry AFB that award didn't appear on my records so I had to take the ribbon off as one can see reflected in my tech school graduation photo taken in June of 72.  I was told that there was sometimes a delay in posting awards and that it would get corrected and when I arrived at Blytheville AFB I made my supervisor aware so he made an inquiry and he was told that the Air Force had stopped awarding the small arms expert ribbon to those who qualified as experts in basic training so that ribbon never made it on my records. I didn't appeal the decision but I think we got to keep our target and I may still have mine.  I display my Small Arms Expert Ribbon in my box because I have the tech school photo wearing it.

It was late when we arrived at Lackland AFB and I think that might have been by design, we were driven into a large classroom by TIs (training instructors) nipping and barking at us like dogs herding sheep.  We completed some papers, was told a lot of stuff, then assigned to our Flights and ordered outside.  We were marched as best as they could march us to an old WWII barracks and then once inside we were kept up until the wee hours of the morning drawing our bedding, learning how to make our bunk, and learning the dos and don'ts that we needed to know for the next few days.  About 3:30AM we were directed to shower, it was a large group shower, several heads around a pole then we were put to bed.  At 5AM the lights came on, the TIs went from one end to the other end of the barracks yelling and screaming at us ordering us to attention at the end of our bunks.  We had five minutes to dress and get outside where we learned how to "Dress Right" and form our flight formation then how to stand at attention when "Reveille" was played.  Our Formation was positioned so we faced the sound of but "Reveille" on the times the raising of the flag was visible we stood at attention and saluting holding our salute until "Reveille" and the flag raising was completed.  The raising of the flag was timed with "Reveille" so the flag arrived at the top as "Reveille" completed.  We then marched, we learned how to march that first morning as we marched our way to breakfast.  Anytime the flag passed active military are suppose to come to attention and salute but when in civilian clothes active military and veterans are to come to attention, remove any head coverings, then hold their right hand over their heart, these are things one is taught and is enforced in basic.  Today as a veteran I will remove my hat and stand at attention but I do not place my hand over my heart, I think this smacks of Nazism and because I am a "free" American and not a Nazi I can do as I please.  Recently it is have been decided that Veterans can stand at attention and salute and I do that now because that is how I was trained.

Breakfast was a lot like Public School, a line forms and you go down the line and servers dropped food into you tray.  We grabbed a milk and had about 5 minutes to eat with a lot of yelling going on then we were back outside in formation.  We marched to the barber shop where a line of barbers cut our hair off, outside we formed our Flight formation and marched to clothing issue.  We walked through the line first receiving our duffle bag then stopping at stations where mostly someone would size us up and issue us a uniform but occasionally they would measure as they fitted us with one part then another part of our uniforms until we had a complete work uniform, boxers, t-shirt, belt, socks and boots then standing in a ling we were ordered to strip, everything came off and we put our civilian clothing in a paper bag provided and dress in our uniform.  Now with no hair and a uniform we were starting to look like a basic airman.  We marched back to our barracks where all our personal items went into the paper bag.  The only thing we were allowed to keep was a watch.  We stamped using an ink pad our last initial and the last four of our SSN on our bags, sealed them and if they would fit in our civilian bags they went in other wise they remained outside our bags and all our civilian gear was placed in a closet and the TI locked the door.  We were told not to ask for any of it until graduation day.  Everything we had was GI issued. We were marched to the paymasters where we received just enough cash to buy the items on our personal list and a few extras such as stamps, paper, pen, and envelopes.  Our TI told us we would write our mother, wife and/or girlfriend, they didn't want these people calling the base to learn why we were not writing home.  Even if we just said "Hi" we would write and put our rank, name, and address on the return address of the envelope.  From the paymaster we marched to the Base Exchange where we bought the items on the list, a lock to secure our foot locker, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, flip flops to wear in the shower, razor and safety blades they didn't want us cutting our throats if they could prevent it.  This wasn't shopping, they had the items in bins and we went down the bin and took exactly what our list stated.  We marched back to the barracks, put away our personal items then we marched to chow for our very quick ten minute noon meal then back to the Barracks where we learned how to hang and fold and place all our items either on the rack or in our foot locker then then we dressed in our PT uniform which was an Air Force T-Shirt, PT shorts which was really nothing more than swim trunks, our socks and our boots then we were ordered outside to form our Flight to march to the PT field.  This was the one and only time I got into trouble.  When they told us to get into our PT gear and be outside in five minutes, they told us to not be wearing our watches.  I forgot to remove my watch and they made an example of me.  I had to return to the barracks and lock my watch in my foot lock, then return to the flight where they stood at attention while I did 50 pushups.  Lucky for me I lifted boxes of baby food all day so my body was in pretty good shape so I was able to do the 50 pushups with little problem but then we marched to the PT field and as part of our PT I had to do another 50 pushups.  The PT was hard, very hard and I was use to hard physical labor.  They pushed us sometimes until we couldn't do it.  The leg lifts were the worst because they would make us hold our legs six inches off the pavement for a long time and that is very hard to do.  Running wasn't so difficult for me, I write in my letters that I ran the 1/4 mile in 82 second and they gave us 3 minutes so I thrived under pressure.  I did it the first day but most couldn't and had to do the extra laps.  We formed our Flight then marched back to the barracks where the TI took us through our little "Blue Book" going over the stuff we had to learn before we could graduate Basic Training.  Back to the "chow" for supper, then back to the barracks for more "Blue Book" work then at 8PM we showered and had to be in bed by 9PM.  No one had any problem with that, our butts were dragging and it all started again at 5AM the next morning.  We had six weeks of up at 5AM and in bed at 9PM and we could always depend on three hot meals a day and Physical Training.   Eventually the meal times became longer but not much.  We had to wolf down our food and with all the physical training we were always hungry.  Snacks were not permitted but if you could get it down in time you could ask for seconds provided you ate them.  We had salt tablets that we took at regular times and we always had a canteen of water on our belts.  Texas would get so hot even in April that they sometimes had red flag day which was when the humidity and temperature made outdoor activity too dangerous.  We did classroom work on those days, it was all about the contents of our little blue book.


USAF Pararescue

I regret not keeping a journal but I do have love letters that I wrote in the spring of 1972 while in Basic Training that I mailed home to the girl I would marry that she saved and the letters survive today and the details in these letters have awaken many of my memories about my basic training.  Like many veterans who served during the Vietnam Era, I actively tried to forget most of this but like most people, when we become elderly we want to remember our youth.  I have told this story above but I think it worthy of repeating.  Having been drafted into the Army I enlisted on the delayed enlistment and guaranteed jobs program and at the urging of the Air Force I was to be trained as an Air Traffic Controller, my enlistment contract was signed Nov 10 1971 and the deal done but January 26 1972 when I arrived at the Induction Center in Little Rock to be sworn and flown to Lackland it was discovered that my draft physical found me to be color blind, I was sent back home and the Air Force sent me to a local doctor who confirmed I was the 5 out of 6 panels normal in my color vision so two doctors had determined that I was color blind and the Air Force required 6 for 6 for anything electronic, flying, or working on the flight line, I couldn't even be a Security Police Officer because of my color vision so the best job the Air Force could give me was Inventory Management Specialist.  They did offer to allow me out of my contract which I declined because I would go back into the draft and into the Army so I took the Inventory Management Specialist job, genetics isn't anyone's fault.  If everyone received the right genes we would all be able to become the "best of the best", so much of life is just dumb luck.

March 21 1972 the US Air Force put me on a commercial jet and flew me to Lackland AFB, TX and I had been in Basic Training only 5 days when I wrote home in my letter that after arriving at Lackland AFB the Air Force redid my physical and determined that I had perfect color vision, 6 for 6, so apparently the two doctors got it wrong.  Right?  Well I wondered at the time, because they wouldn't allow me to switch my training back to Air Traffic Control, telling me that the classes had already been scheduled.  Later that day while in formation with my 3701 Sq Flight 0309 of 45 men my TI called out my name and two others and told us to fall out of formation and follow our "Team Member", Sgt McDaniels.  I thought we were in trouble but I didn't know why and one didn't ask questions and while the rest of my flight marched away to continue with their training, we were escorted to a classroom a short distance away where we joined about 20 other men selected from sister flights and for about a half a day we were shown US Air Force Recruitment Movies of a "PJ" Rescue in Vietnam and at the end of the movies they asked us to volunteer and "try" to become a "PJ" or Pararescue whose mission was to rescue pilots shot down over the jungles of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia and we were told we were selected because we had never had a broken bone, didn't wear eye glasses, we had good physical conditioning, good ASVAB Category I scores and our mental assessment testing done in Basic indicated we were good candidates.  They emphasized the Paramedic role of Pararescue so in my letter home that day about my color vision I told my girlfriend the Air Force asked me to become a "Paramedic" and I called it this because I had never heard of "Pararescue" no one in my training flight had but because January 1972 a new TV show titled "Emergency" about a newly formed Paramedic Rescue Squad 51 of the LA County Fire Dept was one of our popular TV shows that Renee' and I watched together on TV before I left for Basic I knew she would know what a Paramedic was.  I wrote in my letter the training was eight months long, I would have to extend my active duty from 4 to 6 years, I would go to Florida for SCUBA and Georgia for jump training and eventually go to the state of Washington where I would learn survival training and they told us we would have to "eat bugs".  We were told there was a 50% failure rate, but they played that down telling us that we would really have to screw up to fail.  We were being recruited, I thought at that time that was why my color vision suddenly became "Normal", for the first time since I arrived at Basic we weren't being yelled at, we were allowed to relax and encouraged to ask questions, so we were being recruited and I am sure they made it sound easier than it was but I have attached the requirements to become Pararescue in 1972.  They told us that if we accepted we would leave our Basic Training Flight that day and move into a Pararescue Basic Training Flight at Lackland for I think 10 or 12 weeks training and those who wanted to sign up were to remain behind in the classroom while the rest of us were dismissed to follow our escorts back to our training flights.  My TI "team member" was waiting for me outside the classroom, I can't recall if the other two from my flight remained or returned but he escorted us back to join the rest of our flight because we were not allowed any liberty to be on our own, we had to always be with our TI or our "team member" during our first 2 weeks of training.

The Air Force had more than 1 million men in uniform in 1972 and we were told there were less than 500 Pararescue men and I have recently read that "between 1964 and mid-August 1973, rescue forces saved 3,883 lives at the cost of 71 rescuemen killed and 45 aircraft lost" so this was a great honor to be selected for recruitment into such an elite unit and in a different time and a different war I might would have tried but even at 19 I was logical in my thinking, the training was 8 months, I had to extend my active duty from 4 to 6 years, and then there was the Vietnam experience that has been forgotten today.  I was raised in church, I knew right from wrong and November 1969 the My Lai Massacre appeared in the press and my fear of being ordered to kill innocent men, women, and children was heavy on my 19 year old mind, I would not have been able to live the rest of my life in peace if I did such an act.  In poll after poll more Americans were against the war than supported it, but more importantly for me one year hadn't passed since the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, men who had been to Vietnam and fought did something that had never happened in America, they marched in DC and tossed their medals over the fence on the US Capital steps protesting the continuation of the Vietnam War and that had a major impact on me and many of my peers.  It was April 22 1971 when US Navy Veteran John Kerry testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  In June 1971 portions "The Pentagon Papers" were published in the newspaper, a government document proving that President Johnson lied to congress and to the American people to involve us in a war that Truman, Eisenhower, & Kennedy privately admitted we could not win and President Nixon kept us in that war killing another 20 thousand service men and women knowing he could not win, all of this was fresh and weighing heavily on my mind.  Barely 4 months after the The Pentagon Papers I was drafted into the US Army forcing me to joined the US Air Force.  Then there was the fact that we were withdrawing combat troops from Vietnam, the war might would be over before I completed my 8 months training, I knew that day in March 1972 that we were not going to win the Vietnam War and I believed that if Nixon were re-elected that fall he would return the combat troops and widen the war and while I didn't know it at the time the Air Force recruited me for Pararescue just a few days later the North Vietnamese launched "The Easter Offensive" so this war that Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson all believed we could not win was far from over and was mostly being fought by the Air Force and all of this has been purposely forgotten today. One only has to view Episode 9 “A Disrespectful Loyalty" of Ken Burn's "The Vietnam War" to remember.  That time was so bad for US Service men inside our own country that after I completed my Basic Training and arrived at Lowry AFB in Denver Co May 3 1972 I was told not to wear my uniform off base because Airmen had been assaulted in downtown Denver so it wasn't just combat veterans who had their "Valor" taken from them, everyone that served in my time had our pride in our service stolen from us and in many ways that is still happening today because I was asked in an email late summer of 2016 by a retired Pararescue man who served after my time to remove my Pararescue recruitment experience as he claimed that the Air Force never recruited for Pararescue implying that I wasn't being honest in my account but he was mistaken in his belief and he was wrong to ask me to remove the telling of my experience.  My experience is part of the untold history of the Pararescue men that must be told because those who did volunteer in March of 1972 were uncommonly brave men who were asked by the Air Force to step up and some did.  For me, it was bad enough that in the summer of 1972 when I was 19 years of age I couldn't wear my uniform in downtown Denver because Americans might beat me up but it is worse for 4 decades to pass and be a 64 year old veteran and not be able to share my truthful Basic Training experience without having it questioned by a Pararescue veteran who wasn't there and has no clue what went on that day so my Vietnam experience is still happening today as I suspect it is still happening for other Vietnam Era Veterans. 

Because of our Vietnam experience very few of those in my Basic Training flight volunteered for military service anyway, most were like me, we enlisted to avoid being forced into the Army and sent to Vietnam by the draft.  I received my orders from my local draft board in Oct 1971 to report in 30 days to the Army at Ft Leonard Wood MO for Basic Training, the Air Force and Navy had been recruiting me since the 11th grade anyway, I already knew they would take me so I went to the Air Force and enlisted on the delayed enlistment program and some of the others in my flight had done the same.  President Nixon was pulling combat soldiers out of Vietnam but Nixon had promised in 68 to do that and this was now spring of 1972, an election year and soldiers, sailors, and airmen were still there and more than 25,000 of the 58,307 names that appear on the "Wall" had been killed since Nixon gave his promise to get us out of Vietnam so I had no faith in my government, none of us did, most of us assumed that if Nixon was re-elected he would put the combat soldiers back in Vietnam late in the year after the election and the senseless killing would just go on so I am sure the Air Force was struggling to fill the vacancies in Pararescue as it was to struggling to find F-105 pilots and in today's wave of patriotism all of this has been forgotten which is why the telling of my experience is important.  I was 19 forced into the military by the draft and American citizens didn't like me not because I was drafted but because I was following the law and I was serving my country in a war that most citizens no longer supported, they didn't thank us for our service, they called us "baby killers", "murderers", "war mongrels", some got spat upon, some got beat up and this has all been forgotten not just by the general public but by the veterans who came after us.  I enlisted in the Air Force on a guaranteed job program, I was promised by my enlistment contract to be trained as an Inventory Management Specialist which could mean a well paying civilian job after discharge from the Air Force working in auto parts, airplane parts, or any business with inventory to be managed.  Because I was forced into the military during a war we were not going to win I felt my country owed me that much but I didn't dismissed Pararescue without hearing what they had to offer.  I asked questions and sincerely considered it.  I told them I wasn't a strong swimmer and they told me not to worry, they would train me and where I would be going there wouldn't be very much swimming but the deal killer for me was they made it very clear that if I failed in my attempt to become Pararescue, that I would restart my Basic Training from week one with a new flight of trainees, I would still have to do the 6 years active duty and not the 4 years of my current enlistment and the Air Force would decide my job and now that I wasn't color blind that could be any job.  If I did succeed in becoming Pararescue and I survived my duties I struggled to see how dangling by cable from a Pave Low MH-53 "Jolly Green Giant" helicopter with an M-16 saving lives and rescuing pilots could qualify and secure me a well paying civilian job allowing me to provide for Renee' and the children she dreamed I would father.  I could hear my US Navy WWII Veteran father's voice in my ears telling me not to volunteer for anything and I had promised Renee' and my mother I wouldn't volunteer for a dangerous job of flying in airplanes so I kept my promise to them.

In 1972 I had no clue about the importance of Pararescue, all I knew was from the films they showed us that day and to be frank, because they changed my color vision to normal after 2 previous doctors had found my vision to be defective and because I had no faith in my government, I was suspicious of this offer thinking Pararescue might be a suicide mission and they were looking for a "sucker" but I was wrong and I am sorry for thinking that, today I see that the Air Force paid me a great honor and I feel that way mostly because I was recruited for Pararescue unlike the retired Pararescue Veteran who told me the Air Force never asked anyone to become Pararescue, he said he had to apply, the Air Force didn't come to him and ask him to do it like they did us.  Until he contacted me I thought everyone who became Pararescue was evaluated their first week in Basic Training and those the Air Force thought might make Pararescue were asked to try just like I was.  Thanks to him I know how unique my experience was, that to be a 19 year old farm boy from rural Arkansas in Basic Training only 5 days and have the Air Force ask me to try to become part of the elite Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service was a very big deal.  It would be a big deal today if they made such an unsolicited offer to a new Basic Trainee. In 1972 we still had an air war in Vietnam, there were pilots being shot down that needed to be rescued and I was surprised to learn that the rescue swimmers who jumped out of the helicopters to recover the Astronauts on splash down were not US Navy, they were USAF Pararescue thus the reason for the "Aerospace" in the Rescue and "Recovery" Service so as a wiser and better informed man today, I know the Air Force wasn't going to single me and 2 others out of my training flight 0309, change my color vision to normal and ask us to try to become Pararescue then waste time and money trying to train me if they didn't think there was a chance that I could do it, so this offer was a very big deal and a huge honor for me to be among the few in March 1972 who were selected by the greatest military to have existed in the history of the world to try to accomplish this mission. Then and now I believe the PJs are the best and to show my support for my "home team" over the past year I purchased a shirt and 3 hats from Pararescue.com that I wear sometimes but when I am asked as I was a few nights ago by a young man at dinner if I was Pararescue I take the time to say "I was in the Air Force, I was not Pararescue I wear it to show my support but I was asked by the Air Force to try to become Pararescue and I declined.  That was a different time and a different war". 

Wearing one of my PJ hats is a reminder to me that now that I am an old man I still have value and worth, a reminder to me that at 19 years of age the US Air Force recognized my value and worth when they offered me a different path than the one I took and declining the offer doesn't define who I am, I have no regrets about it, I think I made the best choice for me as I am much more than that 19 year old boy who turned that opportunity down.  In my long life I have worn many hats and I tried to do them all to the best of my ability.  My life is a collection of events, my life isn't about just one event so I don't tell this story to brag or boast or pretend, I am not a "poser" and I steal no one's valor.  My story isn't difficult to verify for those who have doubts, I was setting outside a local restaurant recently when a family asked me to take a photo of them, I was wearing my faded Pararescue hat and afterwards I was asked if I was USAF Pararescue and I said "no, I was asked and declined", then I was introduced to a man I just photographed who told me that he arrived in Basic Training in Oct 1971 and he was recruited in Basic for Pararescue just as I was recruited except he accepted and became Pararescue from 1971 until 1976 so doubters can easily verify my story just by asking those who became Pararescue in my time.  It is likely the Air Force was successful in forming a Pararescue Training Flight the last week of March or first week of April 1972 and just like this man some were successful in becoming Pararescue, likely that one or more of those in the recruitment class late March 1972 that I attended may became Pararescue and are still living today to give witness.  I don't tell this story to make myself sound more important.  I tell it because it is yet another one of those amazing events that happened during my long life that did little in that time to shape my life but has actually done much now to help be regain my life.  No one other than my 2 TIs, the Air Force people involved, the 20 others in that room that day, and my girlfriend who became my wife ever knew about this event, it had no influence over my life.  Even the sheriff who was a former Green Beret that would hire me 4 years later to work deep undercover never knew of this story because I have never told it publically until now.  Since that day I hadn't thought about it then late in 2012 at the height of my prescription drug induced depression I had my military service belittled by some Veterans and a family member.  They told me I was just a "supply guy", someone who was drafted like my military service didn't matter, they did to me what so many citizens did during the time I served in the Air Force then 3 years after I had my service belittled, in the spring of 2015 when I was struggling to dig my way out of that deep dark pit of depression that I had been in for 6 long hellish years during which the prescription drugs made me suicidal I came upon my long ago forgotten love letters that I wrote home 43 years earlier while in Basic Training and there it was, that forgotten minor event but when combined with my other Air Force memories that minor event had a huge impact on my recovery from depression and prevented my suicide as the details about my early life and the choices and decisions that I made and the reasons I made them were in these letters and those renewed memories were like a life line thrown to me from a ship, these memories helped pull me out of those dark troubled waters and ended my desire to kill myself and that is why I must tell my story.  I must tell my story out of "Gratitude" to God for all the amazing opportunities that God sent my way and this minor event that God sent my way so long ago helped save and restore my life.  If the Air Force thought I was good enough to become Pararescue then I was good enough to beat depression, sleep deprivation, PTSD, ADHD and Bi-Polar which I discovered were all caused by the Beta Blocker Metoprolol which is another reason I must tell my story. Six medical doctors missed that this Beta Blocker prescribed for high normal blood pressure made me mentally ill and it took me 6 years of living hell to discover it as the cause and it took me 15 more months of hard work to heal myself but I beat it all and restored my good physical and mental health by never giving up.  I reminded myself that I completed my Basic Training, my Inventory Management Specialist training and Pararescue wasn't the only opportunity that the Air Force provided me, I arrived at Blytheville Air Force Base July 14 and August 14 I was a single striper working in a Staff Sergeant's slot as the sole Base Supply Representative to Procurement and was recognized by my commander by receiving the 97th Bomb Wing Supply Sq Pride Airman Award then 5 months after that with only two stripes on my sleeve the Air Force made me a NORS Controller, one of only 5 enlisted men assigned to the 97th Bombardment Wing who maintained a 24x7 office to keep the B-52s, Hound Dog Nuclear Missiles, and KC-135 Tanker Aircraft setting on the alert pad readily to go to war in 15 minutes or less by ensuring they were supplied with mission critical parts so they could do their most important mission for our nation.  We rarely touched a part, our mission was to locate critical parts anywhere in the world and this was in a time before computers and once we had the part located we had them flown to our base so the alert aircraft could be restored to "Ready" status to prevent another "Pearl Harbor".  Our work was so important to the mission that we were exempted from inspections and other duties that might disrupt our duties.  My efforts were recognized by my Wing Commander, my name and several different photos of me appeared in several editions of the base and local newspapers as I was awarded the "Pride Airman of the Month",  for the 97th Bombardment Wing of the USAF with only 15 months service and only 4 months as a NORS Controller, I was a newly promoted Airman First Class at the time doing the job of a Sergeant.  My military service counted because the work I did was to the best of my abilities and it contributed to the keeping of world peace and the prevention of WWIII.  I serve my nation well and I didn't die in the process so I have no regrets.  Even if I had only driven a truck to delivered supplies no one fights naked, untrained, and unsupplied so only a fool would belittle the service of another Veteran.  We were all important to the mission of defending out nation.

The Pararescue mission is the same today as it was in 1972 but they have a lot more toys and a great deal more training and support.  You can see them in action in National Geographic's 6 episode program titled "Inside Combat Rescue" on  their mission in Afghanistan.  Sadly there are Pararescue who died in Afghanistan and just like Vietnam, we are not going to win in Afghanistan, just like in Vietnam, the leadership in the Whitehouse just isn't there so as I write this another American President is negotiating his way out of a war that America could win but doesn't have the resolve to do what it must do to win so it is only a matter of time and the Taliban will be back in control of the whole country and those brave Americans who gave their lives in Afganistan will soon be just as forgotten as those in Vietnam.

Here is a modern Pararescue commercial and this is one of the films they showed to us in 1972.  Hear is the USAF HH-53 Super Jolly Green Giant Helicopter used in Vietnam to rescue downed pilots. Here is another PJ Film.

I returned to my Basic Training Flight to resume the normal training schedule.  My "Team Leader" asked me to become a Squad Leader but I turned that down also, remembering my USN WWII veteran father told me not to volunteer for anything and I didn't want any responsibility at that time, I just wanted to be one of the guys.  Every weekend we would get a few hours off and go to the recreation room where we would see guys who were "short" or they were weeks ahead of us in their training.  I remember the dread of the tear gas chamber, it was one of those stories the guys who had been there and done that embellish in the telling to those of us who had yet to face that demon.  When the time came, the tear gas chamber wasn't any fun but the military doesn't do these things to be abusive, they do it to build confidence they do it to undo our mother's raising, undo our mother telling us not to do these things because it might be dangerous.  They do it to change us, to make us "cool independent thinkers under fire" willing to standup to anything that comes our way and conquer it.  Danger is the business of the military so the goal is to get the trainee to ignore the danger and seek the impossible and accomplish the mission and by exposing the trainee to things such as tear gas or climbing over tall walls.  Their goal was to build confidence causing the trainee to believe that no matter the obstacle they can get through it and accomplish the mission.  It is always about accomplishing the mission.  It is very probable that the conditioning of my Air Force Basic Military Training contributed to the saving of my life when I experienced a brain aneurysm 36 years later because standing in that tear gas chamber in 1972 was at the time just as painful as my 2008 brain aneurysm but I got through the tear gas chamber and that gave me the confidence to not panic, it gave me the confidence to make the right decision in a timely manner in 2008 and as a result those who came to my aid saved my life, that is what confidence training is intended to do and it worked for me.

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Air Force Basic Training Yearbooks - Those who completed the US Air Force Military Basic Training might not remember that Yearbooks were published for each flight.  I am in search for a Yearbook for April 1972 3701 Squadron Flight 0309 but I also collect Yearbooks from the 1970s and sometimes have duplicates available for purchase.  I currently have a Yearbook for August 1977 Squadron 3701 Flight 114 that once belonged to and has some personal notes for Thomas E Swyear that is available for purchase.  Contact me if you have an interest in this Yearbook.  This would make a wonderful gift for an Air Force Veteran who appears in Flight 114.  These Yearbooks have many photos that depicts the training of that era and photos and names of the commanders and squadron leaders.

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Lowry AFB Denver Colorado

May 3 1972 on my last day at Lackland Air Force Base, I showered, put on my khaki 1505 short sleeve uniform, this was my favorite uniform and I caught the Blue Air Force shuttle bus to the Airport and flew to Denver.  There were 19 others listed on my travel orders AB-5122, but we had three days to travel from San Antonio Texas and arrive in Denver Co and my memory was that I was the only one who chose to fly directly from Lackland to Lowry at government expense.  The rest took the three travel days and returned to their home before coming to Denver but I hadn't planned on going home because I was traveling home to marry the weekend of May 13th so I went as planned straight to Denver so I could start looking for a place for Renee' and I to live.  It was hot in Texas when I left and I never considered that Denver might be a bit too cool for a short sleeve but the Air Force had regulations regarding when one could wear their summer verse winter uniform so I had no choice but to wear my summer uniform while in Texas but upon arrival in Denver I was greeted by a late winter snow storm, the outside temps was in the 20s and because they were further north I was authorized to wear my winter uniforms so I dug my heavy over coat out of my duffle bag and put it on then caught the Air Force Blue shuttle bus and rode it the short distance from the Stapleton Airport to Lowry Air Force Base.  The Airman who checked me in told me most of the guys went home taking advantage of the three days travel time so they put me in temporary quarters for three days waiting the arrival of the others on my travel orders.  For the first two days I was the only person living in a barracks with 19 empty beds.  I had no duty assignments so I had the next two days to do what ever I wished and this was a big change from Basic.  It was the first time in more than six weeks that I was completely alone at night and that was perhaps more difficult than Basic.  I missed Renee' greatly but I consoled myself knowing we would soon be married and together for the rest of our lives.   I was glad when on the third day guys started arriving then on the fourth day they moved me to the other side of the base into my dorm room with three other airmen.  This was an old WWII barracks that had been converted to four man dorm rooms.  I had three roommates and viewing our graduation photo beginning on the left was Peter Sanders then me, then two WAFs then I believe that Stephen Krueger was next with Stephen Sanders on the far right.  In 1972 women were a very tiny part of the USAF, they were WAFs and not considered part of the "men's" Air Force, women weren't integrated into the Air Force until after my discharge in 1976 so the two WAFs names do not appear on my orders, they had their own organization and commanders and we only saw them during class so I don't remember anything about them.  Everyone on the back row with the pocket badges were instructors.  If you are in this photo and would like to contact me, you may email me at Rick.OKelley@outlook.com.

Special Order AB-5122 dated April 24 1972 assigned me to the 3415 Student Sq ATC Lowry AFB Co and May 8 by Order P-552 I was assigned to Class 720510-B 3ABR64530-1.  Technical School was much different from Basic Training, everyone was relaxed, no one yelling, we saluted the officers, but that was about the only difference between being in the military and working a civilian job.  Being a training base the Airman's club was much larger, more stuff to do with 50 cent pitchers of 3.2 beer.  KP had been abolished, that was all handled by civilians but we had one weekend of duty cleaning aircraft that were used to fly dignitaries around.  The rest of our after class time and on weekends was ours to do as we wished.  I rode my motorcycle around Denver sometimes parking and walking the streets.  Sometimes a couple of us would catch a bus and go downtown.  We were all from small towns and didn't really know what to do in a big city like Denver so we were like fish out of water. 

I went shopping in the Lowry Air Force Base Exchange and bought some new clothes, I wrote in my letter the last day in Basic that I was 165 pounds, I had lost at least ten pounds in basic and the clothes I wore from home were too large, they hung on me.  While shopping I came upon the POW/MIA bracelets and it was something we were allowed to wear with our uniforms and they were unique to the Vietnam War Era.  There were things we were not allowed to wear with our military uniform but these bracelets were allowed but I was taken by the stories that came with these bracelets because they hit home with me.   It wasn't known then but Capt Ecklund died that day and it would be decades later before any portion of his remains would be found and returned for burial.

I arrived at Lowry AFB May 3rd, graduated June 27th and departed June 28th and I have struggled to try to recall my memories of Lowry AFB but most of them escape me mostly because of my depressed state I am certain.  I do recall that the Memorial Day weekend just before my birthday in May I flew home for the weekend "Military Standby" so I had to wear my uniform and on one of my flights someone gave up their seat in First Class so not everyone hated us.  I wasn't allowed to know who that person was so I wasn't able to thank them personally so while our country as a whole didn't think well of their military when I was in the Air Force, not everyone felt this way.   

I flew to my childhood home on a Saturday, May 27 1972.  I flew back to Denver on Memorial Day, on a Monday May 29th.  When I left my home March 21st I didn't want to leave but this time, barely two months later, I was glad to leave, I got on the jet at Ft Smith early that morning and flew to St Louis where I set around in the Airport waiting for my next flight for several hours, then home to Stapleton International Airport in Denver and back to the only home and only life I now knew that trip home was the hardest thing I had ever experienced.

My memories of what I did while at Lowry AFB have become mostly to me, all I remember is listening to the Eagles "Take it Easy" a hit that released the week I arrived on base and it seemed like every Air Force Shuttle bus was playing it every time I got on a bus for the full two months I was there but in our dorm it was Carol King's Tapestry Album that played over and over as one of my roommates had an eight track boom box and he would set it in the window of our room and guys would lay outside sunning themselves in the grass for hours on end while Carol King played over and over and over.  That is mostly all I can recall about my Lowry AFB experience, the Eagles and Carol King.  A lot of my Air Force experience is tied to the music of Neil Diamond, The Eagles, Carol King, America, and even Grand Funk Railroad's "I'm your Captain" .  

I departed Lowry AFB June 28 1972, the day after my tech school graduation, in my letter home to Renee' I tell her I weighed 143 pounds so I lost 22 pounds in the two months I was at Lowry AFB Denver.  My parents and two younger brothers, Dana and Coy had traveled to Denver by car to drive me back to Alma where I would spent my three days "travel time" and two weeks authorized leave before traveling to Blytheville Air Force Base where I would begin my military duties.  The photo of me and my two younger brothers with my old unreliable 1970 Harley Davidson 350cc SS Sprint motorcycle nicknamed "the Thumper" (Video) was taken the morning we left Denver.  This bike was originally red but because Bill Morriss always rode a white Harley, we painted this bike white but that didn't make it any more relievable.  The electrical on Harleys was a nightmare and this one was always wearing out the generator bushes.  I had to carry spares, working on the farm had taught me to always be prepared and figure out how to fix things when they broke.

One can see my Capt Arthur Ecklund's MIA bracelet on my right wrist gleaming in the Colorado early morning sun and I am also wearing my USAF Air Force pilot sunglasses, new shirt and my new Levis all purchased at the local Air Force Base Exchange.  I had my 350CC Harley Davidson shipped by truck to Denver the first week that I arrived so I could explore the countryside and I did do some weekend riding around the Denver area but that motorcycle was too unreliable to trust.  My father had built the front wheel carrier so he could tow the bike back to Alma and to be frank, I suspect the only reason my parents came to Denver to get me was because my father had always wanted to show my mother the Royal Gorge a place he had seen when he came home from the Navy in 1947.  My father talked about that adventure when we were growing up and he always wanted to travel there again but my mother didn't like to travel, it made her car sick so this was a rare adventure for my family so we drove south out of Denver stopping at the Royal Gorge on our trip back to Alma.  I recall we stopped somewhere near Garden City Kansas and spent the night and then at Beaver State Park in North East Oklahoma the next night before arriving home in Alma.


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Bill and Rose Morriss

So how did I get through US Air Force Basic Training and Tech School?  Renee' wrote me often in Basic often speaking about our marriage so she kept me on cloud 9 while I was in Basic Training but I had been in Tech School only a few days when I receive her "Dear Rickie" letter and there were no more letters or phone calls from her.  We were over, just like that she ended us.   It was very hurtful, my heart was broken and I was crushed.  My parents did little to prepare me, did little to prepare any of their sons for "real" life, but lucky for me in 1966 when I was 14 my older brother got me a job working less than a mile from our home on the Orchard View Peach Farm owned by Bill Morriss Bill was ten years older than my father and 35 years older than me but he did a much to teach me how to work independently and how to be responsible and what it was like to live in a normal loving family in a world outside of church and that shouldn't be that surprising because Bill Morriss had enlisted September 28 1940 at Oklahoma City Oklahoma in the US Army Air Force for "the Philippine Department" and his records indicate he was 23, a high school graduate, and he gave his occupation as a store clerk.  Bill rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant E5 and he was the primary reason I chose to enlist in the Air Force over the Navy.  Bill had been through it, and most of what he told me was when he was stationed at Lowry Field Denver Colorado which was the place that he met and married his wife Rose after a 3 week whirlwind courtship.  Bill rode a white Harley Davison 45 side shift motorcycle with leather side bags and Rose would climb up behind him and they would ride the Colorado countryside so I am sure Bill saw a lot of himself in me.  It was ironic that he was stated at Lowry and now 30 years later I am there also.  Bill Morriss knew how to get the mission done and he taught me, he built my character and my confidence and while I was heart broken I wasn't going to let him down.

Bill and Rose were my island of sanity, there home was the place I could go to escape the religious zealotry that engulfed my parents.  It was like I lived a double life, I had to be one person to please my parents with a long list of things I couldn't do and people I couldn't be around but I got to be a real normal relaxed kid with all his flaws when I was with Bill and Rose, they were always good to me, they or maybe it was Marla even named one of their prize German Sheppard "Rickie" after me.  I received praise and encouragement from Bill and Rose something I never received at home from my parents.  Rose had a white 1963 Pontiac Tempest coupe that I think was a convertible, but it may have just been a sporty hardtop but she would sometimes allow me to drive her car, she would send me to the community store about two miles away in it if she didn't want to go and Bill was gone in his truck.  I drove Bill's truck all the time around the farm and the community.  I was never allowed to drive my father's vehicles.  I learned to drive on the farm in Bills truck but one of my classmates taught me to drive on the highways and when I was almost 17 he took me in his mother's new Ford Falcon to obtain my license.  My parents were not there when I got my drivers license but my mother did signed my permission form.  I am sure Bill would have taken me to get my license but I was too ashamed to ask him to do what my parents wouldn't do for me.  My church told me I was a sinner and my parents told me always when I would do something they disapproved so I was made to feel ashamed and unworthy all my teen years, my live was filled with extreme lows and amazing highs.  I put this to use when I became a criminal investigator as I used this telling young troubled teens that I had arrested that they were not alone and their situation not unique.  I told them I have experienced what they have experienced and I changed my life and so could they, I would require they give me their word they would do different then I would un-arrest some trouble kids ordering their booking sheet destroyed so they would have no arrest record thus giving them another chance and it was by telling them about my teen years and how I held out and became an adult and put my parents behind me and now I was living a wonderful life and it worked for some of them.  Just as Bill and Rose Morriss saved me, there were some troubled teens that I inspired and one was a 16 year old fatherless Catholic girl who took my stories to heart toughed it out then on her own and without my help when she turned 21 she became a University of Arkansas Police Officer so I have told the stories about my life many times.  

Bill and I would have grand adventures as we would sometimes take off to the forest and woods riding trails and back roads around White Rock Mountain and Shores Lake on our motorcycles.  My father never took me to see a single movie but Bill Morriss took me, Renee' and his daughter in 1971 to see "On Any Sunday".  When working at the Peach Farm there were summers when Bill and Rose would go to family reunions in some distant place and I would be left in charge of the Orchard and selling the peaches.  There were days when I would have a bank bag with thousands of dollars from the peaches I would sell.  Most of the time John Burroughs who was a retired banker would come by and pick up the receipts from the day before but there was a year when John was also gone on vacation and Bill trusted me to keep the receipts for almost a week and there were well over ten thousand in the bag by the time he got back from vacation so thanks to Bill by the time I entered the Air Force I had considerable experience working independently, being responsible, and getting the mission done and that got me through my Air Force Basic Military training and Tech School and it prepared me for my US Air Force experience and my Law Enforcement Career and it has aid me all throughout my life.  My parents weren't bad people, they just didn't have good role models in their lives to help them know how to do much better than their parents.

William J Morriss Jr or "Bill" as everyone knew him was a good man who had a very good heart for he "fostered" many children from around our community, I was his last.  Most of the adults of my youth including my own parents seemed to have forgotten what it was like to be young, but not Bill Morriss.  He was near the same age as my grandfathers but sometimes he just like to goof off, we would load up in his red and white Ford truck always still on the "clock" and we might drive to Ft Smith just to look at some new motorcycle that just came out.  On a hot day we might drive to the local store just to get a cold pop.  My father never did anything like that with me.

Rose was just as good natured, she was an accomplished woman, she was a modern women long before such a person existed as she was a registered nurse and that was in the days when nurses were educated for six years and wore white uniforms with the hats.  Rose had many years experience working in hospitals but when I knew her she was an accomplished wife and mother.  She was an immigrant born in Estonia and came to America as a child.  During the summer Rose would fix the best lunches of the most incredible home cook foods and we would take long lunch breaks because we would be so full of her home made peach cobbler with ice cream that we couldn't work.  This wasn't something she did for special occasions, this was what Rose did every day during the summer, and I suspect did the same throughout the year.  She kept her home clean and orderly and she did this with a cat and a dog living in her home.  She did laundry, took care of her daughter and husband and still found the time to make home made bread, wonderful pies, and incredible meals every day during the summer months that I worked on the farm.  Even when she fixed a fast meal like egg salad sandwiches, they were better than anything I had every eaten anywhere.  I know of no one before or since who cooked and clean like Rose Morriss could do and she did it every day without complaint and I never saw her in an ill mood because of it.  She didn't just do it on special occasions or when she felt like it, she did it every day that I was in her home.  She didn't wear fancy expensive jewelry, her husband never took her on a cruise, or even a shopping trip, and vacation was most often to a family reunion and that seemed to be enough for Rose.  She was a true "Rose" of a wife to her husband and set the example for other wives to follow.  While I was well fed by Rose, I worked so hard on the farm that I weight only 155 pounds when I entered the Air Force.  When Bill became ill and entered the hospital Rose took charge of both the farm and of her husband's care and recovery.  She was a true "Rose" a wonderful wife and mother.

I had never thought about how much Bill and Rose Morriss shaped my life but the US Army Air Force was shaping my life even before I arrived at Basic Training as I have no doubt that it was the major influence in the life and character of Bill Morriss just as nursing school had its influence upon Rose.  One might correctly say that I am second generation "Air Force" as during those years Bill Morriss filled the role of a "father" to me.  Bill took an interest in my life and mentored me into becoming the man that I am.  Bill and Rose Morriss were remarkable people who influence has touched a great many people.  Bill and Rose Morriss set the bar high and I have yet to meet another couple who have exceeded their accomplishments.  I thank God that such people existed and they took an interest in me and Renee', they treated us like family. 

Bill and Rose were religious, they were Lutheran in their faith and were not consumed with the cultish fringe King James Bible Christianity that dominated my childhood home.  Not one time was I told I was going to hell or Jesus was coming back to destroy our world when I was in the company of Bill and Rose.  Bill and Rose were what I believe Jesus would want his followers to be like, kind, good, and loving people.  As a young teen I never felt at ease when in the company of my parents mostly because I never knew when something I might do would trigger my parents' wrath, punishment, or belittlement of me.  In the summer of 1965 when I was 13 my father obtained a 1963 Ford Fairlane and he took our family on a rare trip to Mt Nebo State Park.  I know the date well because I had a Sears Camera and took black and white photos on this trip and those prints are fixed with the processing date.  I don't recall Gary being on that trip with us, he was likely working but we stopped at a pull off going up the mountain at what is know as the Bench Trail and we went on a family hike along one of the roadside trails and that was in the days when a young teen such as I could go by himself anywhere and not have to worry about someone taking advantage of him and this trail was wide with no tall bluffs to fall.  I was so thrilled to be on this trail at Mt Nebo but my mother and younger brothers ages 5 and 7 were moving at a snails pace so I did what I had to do so many times when with my family, I tuned them out and became lost in the world of wonder around me and I had not noticed that I had gone ahead and out of the eye sight of my mother until my father came upon me on this very public trail with people around and he began swinging his belt, beating me because I was having such a good time that I lost connection to my family.  Mom had gotten tired, being in the woods wasn't her thing and she wanted to go back to the car and by me hiking ahead I had prevented that.  It wasn't like that with Bill and Rose, when I did something they might not approve of, I didn't get beat by a belt, I wasn't belittled or yelled at, they would simple point out to me that what I did wasn't proper and then tell me why they felt it wasn't proper giving me the opportunity to do differently the next time.  I was fifteen when I had my first set down meal of my life in a real restaurant and it was with Bill, Rose, and their daughter Marla.  For my parents eating out was eating a burger in the car either outside the "White Spot" in Ft Smith or traveling down the road but I had many restaurant meals with Bill, Rose and Marla, they taught me social skills and I learned a great many of my parenting skills from being in their company.  I learned a great many things not to do as a parent from being in the company of my parents.  I haven't stepped foot on this trail in the 48 years that has passed until Nov 6 2014 when I walked it and I did it without getting a beating and I don't tell this story to belittle my parents, I tell story because I have nieces and nephews that I hope will have a different life than "spare the rod and spoil the child".  Beat your children and they might write about you someday also.   

When I graduated Alma High School, I received all the usually cards from friends of my parents and from my aunts and uncles and I have or had some very nice and kind aunts and uncles, sadly many have passed on.  Only one card came from someone that wasn't a friend of my parents or wasn't a relation.  Bill, Rose, and their daughter Marla gave me a graduation card like no other.  I still have their card and it meaning is timeless as on the front is titled "To the Graduate - The Art of Happiness".  The card says:

Happiness does not
depend upon what
happens outside of you
but on what happens
inside of you; it is
measured by the spirit
in which you meet the
problems of life.

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So began my "Glory Days" July 1 1972

Renee' and I had a wonderful courtship, but I lived with my parents so my adult life really began the day I returned from US Air Force Tech School back to my home town of Alma.  The US Air Force freed me of my parent's control and my old farm boss Bill Morriss had traded my unreliable Harley for a brand new 1972 Suzuki GT750J "Le Mans" Motorcycle and it was setting in his garage when I arrived, all we had to do was take them my old bike.  John V Burrough a retired banker and his wife Mildred had became my good friends in my youth and like Bill Morriss, John was an important mentor in my young life and John loaned me the money to buy a new Orange 1969 Harley Davidson 125CC Rapido in the Spring of 1969, it was my first new motorcycle and having paid it off long ago I was far away in Denver when John loaned me the money to buy this new 1972 Suzuki GT750J "Le Mans" Motorcycle and it was all done on my good word that I would make my payments no matter what, no matter how my circumstances changed.   My bank records from that time show I borrowed $750 and paid it back in ten months at $75 a month with a modest balloon interest payment made in the eleventh month.  That was a lot of money in those days for someone to loan to a 20 year old just on his word, today that would be $4270.89 with monthly payments of $427.09 so this was no small deal.  The USAF paid me $220 a month equal to $1252.79 today but my only other expense was my $38.08 a month car payment because the Air Force provided me a place to live. I received a clear title on this motorcycle, there was no lien, my loan was backed up solely upon my word. That is what these two men taught me about life and about good character.  Few people had these kinds of friends at my young age but they must have seen something in me that I didn't see within myself. 

Buying this motorcycle wasn't my ideal, it was the brain child of Bill Morriss, while I was in Denver he test rode the bike, when we talked on the phone he told me about it, then encouraged me to buy it.  I had not seen or ridden this bike or one like it but I recall he mailed me a spec sheet, I went solely on his recommendation and he took care of it all.  Now that I was back in Alma all I had to do was take the papers to the revenue and get a tag issued and take out insurance.  John had already given the money to Bill who paid it to England Motor Company in Ft Smith so the deal was done when I arrived home. 

My new motorcycle was fun to ride, it was powerful, the 750CC 2 stroke out performed a 1500 CC 4 stroke Harley, and unlike my old Harley it was reliable, never broke down over the years that I rode it.  I had two full weeks of paid leave to break in my new motorcycle, I rode it everywhere.  Bill and Rose Morriss were very good to me all the years that I knew them.  Of all my memories from this time of my life, most of my best memories are associated with my Suzuki and that was something that Bill Morriss and John V Burrough did just for me.  I wonder what Bill, Rose and John would say if they knew that all these years later and long after their passing that I would remember those grand times we spent together almost a half a century ago.  I am sure I would live a much different life without their positive influence in a critical time of my life. 

I loved this motorcycle, it was beautiful and had its own unique sound.  It was a three cylinder but they were all ported into the four exhaust, two on each side and maybe that is why it sounded more like a finely tuned sports car than a motorcycle and it was one hot bike, its spec sheet advertised it would do the 1/4 mile in 12.6 which is fast even by today's standards.  In 1972 the Suzuki GT750J Le Mans and the Kawasaki 750 H2 Mach IV were the hottest and fastest off the show room floor production bikes available.  The Kawasaki has 4 more horsepower but the Suzuki was water cooled which made it perform better in all kinds of weather. Mine would burn rubber in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th gears coming off US 71 onto Arkansas Hwy 282 north of Alma and starting up the grade and yes I was a typical 20 year old single male when it come to speed and burning rubber.  I liked to ride fast and this bike could go faster than my 289 V8 Mustang.

When my two weeks of leave ended, I packed my stuff into my Mustang and drove the 316 miles from my home town to Blytheville Air Force Base.  The next weekend I went home and left my Mustang so my father could installed a trailer hitch and attached a front wheel carrier that he had made for hauling my motorcycle back home from Denver.  I rode my motorcycle back to the base that week then returned again the following weekend and brought both my Mustang and my motorcycle to Blytheville.  If there was another Suzuki GT750 in the entire town or on base I never bumped into it and like in my home town when I would pull into a place, young people noticed this bike, in that time it had a sound and a look that turned heads.  Mustangs were common but when I rode my motorcycle downtown Blytheville to look around and I pulled into the Kream Kastle Drive-in at Blytheville I hadn't been there long when a local girl came up and ask me to take her for a ride.  This didn't happen the week before when I was there in my Mustang, girls didn't even seem to notice me in my Mustang but on my motorcycle they took notice and girls seemed to be more bolder in Blytheville that any other place I had been.  Some local girls saw young airmen as their escape from a depressing place and that likely made some bolder. This girl was pretty and I wasn't doing anything anyway and she said she would wait while I road to base and picked up my spare helmet and returned so I took her for a ride.  Afterwards I returned her to the drive-in, dropped her off and never saw her again. 

Compared to today, there wasn't a lot to do in those days other than burn gas and gas was cheap.  There were only a couple of channels on TV, the base theater, a movie theater downtown, and a drive-in theater so kids would hang out at the Kream Kastle and a few parking lots because there was no where else to go and nothing else to do.  The Kream Kastle was like "Arnolds Drive-in" in Happy Days.  The ole "Kastle" doesn't look like much today but in the summer of 1972 on any night of the week it was packed sometimes bumper to bumper with cars trying to get in and it became my primary contact place for meeting local girls looking to meet young airmen so it helped with my loneliness.  This is where I learned what a submarine race was.  I had no clue what this meant, I had never heard this before and thought it must have something to do with the Mississippi River but when a girl asked me to take her to the river to watch the submarine races and when we got to the River she thought it was cute that I didn't know what a "submarine race" was.

You can take a virtual ride on a Suzuki GT 750J Le Mans motorcycle at youtube.com.  In those days outlaws road Harleys and they were rare, I only knew of one guy who road a Harley and he was often in jail.  Good guys road "Jap" bikes and they were all 500cc or less and had a "ding ding ding" sound.  My Suzuki had a very deep throaty sports car sound but when it went to an idle or on start up it had a deep popping sound so people would turn their heads to look when I pulled into some place like the Kream Kastle and you can hear this sound in the youtube.com video.  Harleys are 4 cycle with a slow deep thump thump but the Suzuki was a 2 cycle, it has a tank to put the oil and it mixed the oil and gas as it ran so it did sometimes smoke just a little.

One of my "submarine race" motorcycle rides turned out to be a very nice Catholic girl who asked me to take her for a moonlight ride along the river but she told me we could kiss and hold hands but nothing else was going to happen because she was saving that for the man she would marry, I liked being with her.  I found that refreshing because in a lot of ways that was what I needed and was looking for, a friend because my heart still belonged to another.  In time she invited me to come to her home and meet her mother, sisters and brother and we began to hang out together on weekends and after work.  She loved my Mustang so much and it set at the base most of the time so I loaned it to her for a weekend when I went home on my motorcycle but that didn't turn out very well because her brother stole it, he didn't get the keys from her, he cut the ignition wires and hot wired it and he got caught driving around in it by the local police.  She asked me to not press charges, and having always been a sap when it came to girls I didn't but she required her brother to pay the Ford Dealership to replace the wiring that he cut and when it was fixed she brought my Mustang back to the base, she was sincerely ashamed over what her brother did.   She really was a good person who didn't take advantage of me.

She had an older married sister and she and her husband seemed honest and trustworthy.  They owned a motorcycle so we would sometimes go riding together.  We road down the old river road to Graceland, they had been there and wanted me to visit so one weekend we took the trip.  The sisters were both attractive and it was a hot summer day and they both had on very short jean shorts with their tops tied up just below their breast showing their stomachs which was common in that time mostly because of the girls on Hee Haw and other TV shows.  I remember the sister had a "wide load" patch on the back pocket of her jean shorts, that I saw as we followed their motorcycle down US Highway 61 from Blytheville to Memphis but her butt wasn't "wide", she was attractively figured.  When we got to Graceland there was no one outside the gate and I was told that normally meant that Elvis wasn't there.  We parked the bikes and got off and were stretching and the girls had their faces pressed up to the gate looking through it when an elderly man came over and started talking to them.  We men folk were at least 12 feet away talking like guys do about our bikes when the girls called us over and told us that the man they were talking to was a relation of Elvis and he was going to allow us in and to walk up to the front of the home.  We had to move our bikes so they would not block the drive then we followed him up to the house and the girls talked him into allowing us to walk around the end of the house to see the swimming pool.  They had never seen the pool and everyone claimed it was guitar shaped but it wasn't and it was smaller than one might imagine.  I always thought that was pretty cool to get to walk the same ground that Elvis walked. 

I didn't hide that I had been engaged to marry Renee' and she called off our engagement when I was in tech school, my girlfriend knew my heart was broken, she knew that I wasn't looking for a serious relationship and when I planned to go home on Labor Day she asked if she could come and meet my parents.  I reluctantly said yes, I knew because she was Catholic that my parents would not like her but maybe that is why I said yes, to let my parents know they no longer had any say in my life.  We rode my motorcycle home and she became scared as we road out of the flatland and into the hills, she asked me to pull over so I pulled off at the Coal Hill exit on I-40.  She was 2 years older than me and more mature and settled in her behavior so it surprised me when she told me the hills were scaring her, she was afraid she would fall off the back of the bike.  I reassured her that if that happened, they wouldn't allow us to ride on I-40, I reassured that she was safe after all in those days the passengers set snuggled and holding on to the rider anyway.  She allowed me to resume our trip which was an okay visit, nothing remarkable about it, she met my parents and brothers, she slept in my old bedroom and I bunked with my younger brothers but as we were leaving to return to Blytheville I was pulling out of my parents driveway with her snuggled up behind me on my motorcycle we passed Renee' and her father in his truck on the roadway.  I was surprised that Renee' had returned to Alma.  I hadn't heard from her so I figured we were over and she would stay with her mother in Virginia and I would never see or hear from her again.  While I still sometimes wrote her she never wrote back to me and we hadn't talked by phone in months.  When I got back to the base, I couldn't get Renee' out of my head, she was my only true love so that evening when I got off work and I knew she would be home from school I called her home and she answered and she said she was glad to hear from me, she told me she was sorry that she had broke up with me and she told me how the minister of my church has frightened her out of marriage, she had 5 months to think about it and she still loved me and wanted to marry me if I wanted to marry her.  She told me she missed me. 

I forgave her, I knew how frightening those Free Will Baptist ministers were, their "gloom and doom" could suck the joy out of most anything and they scared the hell out of me most of my childhood.  She had never been exposed to those kinds of ministers before and because of that minister she told me she wouldn't marry in my church and I told her we didn't have to marry in my church, we could go to a Justice of the Peace in another state and get married if she wanted. That phone call restarted our romance and letter writing.  Sept 7th I received my first letter from Renee' since her Dear Rickie letter when I was in Denver in Tech School in May.  I rode my motorcycle home Sept 15 to see her for the first time since I left for Basic Training March 21 1972 and we rode it to the Taco Bell on Rogers Ave in Ft Smith where our conversation quickly turned to the planning of our marriage then we road my Suzuki to her Grandmothers on Lake Tenkiller where we spent the weekend getting to know each other again.  Her grandmother took us to the Fin and Feather Restaurant to celebrate and she introduced me to her friends as her new grandson-in-law who was in the US Air Force and she gave us a $100 bill to help get married on.  We married a week later on September 25 1972 before the County Judge at the Crawford County Courthouse. 

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US Air Force Duties

Most Americans value a veteran's service based upon a single factor, did he fight in combat, and while that is certainly part of it, those who serve don't get to make the choices, that is decided for them and no soldier fights naked, long before he steps foot on that battle field a countless number of men and women some in uniform some in civilian service also did their duty to make certain that the mission is accomplished by providing the best training, the best equipment and the best support; before, during and after the battle.  If I had killed 200 men in hand to hand combat would that have made my military service more valid?  No, we all followed orders and we didn't decide, it was decided for us so as long as we did what we were ordered to do to the best of our ability then we deserve to have our service respected. Think about that the next time you decide what value to assign to a veteran's service.  Far too many veterans whose service was critical to the mission are pushed aside because they didn't fight hand to hand in combat.  That isn't right because they didn't decide, their commanders decided their duties. No one person wins a war, it takes a team working together which is why the Confederate States of America didn't hand out medals, everyone was a hero in the Confederate Army.  I am a Cold War Veteran and my service was important to my country or they wouldn't have put me in uniform.  Every Veteran's service was important or they wouldn't have put them in uniform.

While I didn't see it at the time, my US Air Force service was an exciting time that shaped my future into one of the most fulfilling lives of anyone I know.  I still live my life and do things because of the positive influence the US Air Force made upon me.  I tell young men and women when they graduate high school if they are unsure what they plan to do with their future, spend four years in the USAF figuring it out because with the right attitude, it will open doors and change their lives in a positive way forever.  It will have a life long influence as I fold my underwear in thirds because that is how I was trained to do it in US Air Force Basic Training in 1972 and my Air Force training influenced others around me who were not in the Air Force.  I was serving my country in the most powerful military force to have ever existed, today's Air Force has only about 1/3 the nuclear power, assets, personnel, and bases that we had in 1972 and I was doing my mission assigned to me by the Strategic Air Command and I contributed to the security and future of our citizens and the peace of our modern world.  Five B-52G Stratofortress bombers armed with two nuclear North American AGM-28 Hound Dog Missiles and four KC-135 Stratotanker Blytheville AFB Alert Padaircraft were setting on our alert pad 24x7 with air crews living and sleeping in the Alert Facility just yards from their planes waiting to spring into action and launch on a 15 minute or less "go to war" order and the mission of the 97th Bombardment Wing depended upon me and a lot of other airmen doing our duties.  I was only 20 B-52G with North American AGM-28 Hound Dog Missileyears old and if I was the weak link that failed in this great chain then maintenance crews, pilots, navigators set idle because their aircraft or missile setting on our alert pad would not be able to do it's mission and a lot of people could die because of my failure. Everyone understands the importance of the pilots and air crews but few understand that without the "ground pounders" those aircraft never left the ground.  Think about this the next time you are delayed at the airport.  Your plane isn't turned over the the pilot until the ground crew says it is air worthy.  If you want to see how important my duties were, watch the 1963 Rock Hudson Movie "A Gathering of Eagles" because when the maintenance crews didn't have the parts they needed to make the Alert aircraft air worthy, careers were lost and the security of our nation, the security of our free world and of our children and grandchild was at risk.  The United States won the Cold War when the USSR fell defeated because 29 Squadrons of nuclear armed B-52s along with the men and women serving in the missile silos and on US Navy nuclear subs did their duty for more than three decades and I was one of the airmen who helped keep some of those B-52G Stratofortress bombers, North American AGM-28 Hound Dog Missiles, and KC-135 Stratotanker able to do that mission so the work I was doing was no small deal as any airman assigned to SAC could attest.  Like Law Enforcement takes dispatchers, jailers, patrol, and investigators then prosecutors, judges, juries, and prisons this too wasn't a one man job, it took millions of military and civilians, it took generations and decades of each of us doing the mission we were assigned to do, it took the support of our spouses, our dependents, and our communities and together we won the Cold War.   This is taken mostly for granted today but every school child, everyone walking in a shopping mall, every driver on our modern highways owes a huge thanks to the Cold War Veterans who silently did their duties that secured the liberties and opportunities that we all enjoy today and in the spring of 1973 I was a 20 year old newly promoted Airman First Class with barely 13 months US Air Force service experience and 2 months in rank when I was assigned to NORS Control and I began working nights unsupervised.  NORS Controllers like me were most often Sergeants or Staff Sergeants with at least 36 months experience because NORS Controllers worked closely with Maintenance Control and Job Control which were manned by Technical Sergeants and higher and officers and Job Control reported our performance directly to the 97th Bomb Wing Commander, to his bosses at the Numbered Air Force Command and directly to SAC.  If an alert aircraft or missile was declared NORS or Not Operationally Ready Supply that made it into the daily White House briefing so my duties were a big deal as was the duties of those working in Maintenance Control and Job Control because if we didn't do our duties then broken Bombers, Missiles, and Tankers setting on Alert didn't make it off the ground and their mission could not be completed and that meant the enemy went unopposed and Americans died.  You can watch this process explained in SACS Command and Control 1968 film.  You can watch a simulated SAC Alert Response in this 1968 film.  The bombers and tankers take off first 15 second apart in a line from the alert pad come to be known as the "Elephant Walk".  The bomber launch is followed by the KC-135 Air Alert Refueling Tankers because without extra fuel the bombers will never make it to their targets so a lot of people play a role in accomplishing the SAC mission of keeping the peace and keeping America safe.  The smoke from the JP4 mixed with water forced these planes to scatter like quail as they cleared the runway to avoid running into each other.  I saw it many times during practice exercises, it was an amazing sight of air power.  You can watch an actually 1989 Eaker (Blytheville) Air Force Base Operational Readiness Inspection.  They had 15 minutes to get the planes airborne and it wasn't a one man job nor was it a job that pilots could accomplish on their own, it took an Air Base of personnel from the lowest one stripe airman all the way up to the Wing Commander to accomplish the SAC mission, the Emergency War Order and I was one of those airmen. 

October 25 1973 during the war between Israel and Arabs we came close to nuclear war when our defense condition was elevated to Defcon III and our bomber's on alert were made ready for a 15 minute response as depicted in the movie "War Games".  Our B-52Gs with their nuclear air to ground missiles and KC-135 Tankers that were setting on the alert pad were put on an elevated Defcon III posture, our phone call alert system was activated, I received an early morning phone call and like all other Blytheville AFB personnel I was told to pack a spare uniform, socks, and underwear and ordered to my duty station on base where we were all put on notice to not leave the area and everyone was put on a 12 hour on and 12 hour off shift.  Since my station already worked a 24x7 duty, we already worked every shift as if we were at war we got to return home and resume our normal shift but the rest of the base was put on 12 hour shifts to be ready should the "Go to War" order come.  Some wives and children packed up their car and left the area because if the "Go to War" order was given it was certain that Blytheville would be a target of the USSR because we had additional B-52Gs that would be armed with Nuclear North American AGM-28 Hound Dog Missiles and we had additional KC-135 Tankers  to aid their mission.  I have talked with bomb loaders who told me they empty their dumps, they loaded nuclear missiles on anything equipped to deploy nukes, faces were grim and business was serious and tense. War in the middle east between the Jews and Muslims very nearly brought the United States and the USSR into Nuclear conflict.  We were as close to destroying our world in October 25 1973 as we were eleven years to the day earlier during the Cuban Missile Crisis when in October of 1962 President Kennedy put the military at DEFCON II but unlike the Cuban Missile Crisis few people know about October 25 1973 and those who lived it have mostly forgotten it.  If nuclear war had occurred everyone near my base including me would have died, this was serious business that I was engaged.  Every person who was in a 100 mile radius of Blytheville AFB was at risk.  Even today it baffles me that President Richard Nixon was prepared to wage Nuclear War that would have surely caused the death of probably 200 million or more Americans and Soviets over Israel, a nation of maybe 4 million people, only 2.5 million were Jews.  Tom Clancy used the 1973 Yom Kippur War to give birth to the fictional movie "The Sum of all Fears". 

I earned awards, promotions, superior performance proficiency pay and pay raises.  In June 1973 I had been in the Air Force only 15 months when I became the first Airman in the history of the Blytheville Air Force Base to be selected as Airman of the Month and one of the few Airmen assigned to the 97th Bombardment Wing who was invited to the Wing Commander's office where I met Colonel William L Nicholson III (Major General Nicholson) and he shook my hand and congratulated me on my selection as Airman of the Month and he presented me with a Strategic Air Command Certificate of Merit.  You may read about my Airman of the Month Award in the June 22 1973 edition of the Blythe Sprit, the base newspaper.  Most airmen spend their entire enlistment having never met their Wing Commander one on one, let alone have their Wing Commander congratulate them and give them a Certificate of Merit while shaking their hand so this was no small thing. The things I did didn't go unnoticed by the Air Force because earlier that year I was selected as the Pride Airman of the 97th Supply Squadron and barely a year after my Base Airman Award on October 2 1974 I was again recognized as I received the "97th Supply Squadron Airman of the Quarter" and nominated for the 2nd Air Force HQ at Barksdale Air Force Base "Supply Airman of the Quarter"; my nomination letter is signed by my squadron commander giving testament to the quality of my character and it is the only nomination that I failed to be selected.  I was a good man and a good husband as when my wife was only 17 she was driving a new car that she picked out, I had recently bought her a new motorcycle, and we were living in our own home that we were buying and I had done considerable renovations.  I was soon promoted to Sergeant then barely a year later to Staff Sergeant which was huge as it moved me into a new circle of friends and increased my pay.

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Private Investigator

In the fall of 1974 I was a young NORS Controller Air Force Sergeant working a 16 hour night shift one day a week and a 24 hour weekend shift then I was off the rest of the week.  I worked alone and unsupervised and even on duty I had a lot of free time on my hands so I needed something to do both on and off duty.  I had worked independently on the peach farm as a teen, as an early adult I worked under supervision at Gerbers, and again under close supervision in USAF Basic Training, Technical Training and for the first 4 months after my arrival at Blytheville AFB but by November 72 all my Air Force assignments were independent duties that I did without supervision and I found working without immediate supervisor best.  My dislike for being closely supervised was one of the many reasons I decided not to try to become a Pararescue Airman.  Bored at my Air Force duties, desiring something more meaningful and exciting thata I controlled, I began to think about what I wanted to do for the rest of my life to earn my living.  

The September 16 1972 premier of the pilot episode of "The Streets of San Francisco" had a life long influence over me and it was still a very popular TV show in the fall of 1974.  I suspect most people happy in their career choices can pinpoint their inspiration and while the show was about fictionional Lt Mike Stone and Inspector Steve Keller, the shows main characters, the program influenced a desire within me to live an exciting meaningfully life as a police detective.  Because I was off so much I would  often visit my home town of Alma where I was also influenced by Joe Don Gregory a former Air Force Security Police Officer from my home town who discharge from the USAF in 1974 and became an Alma Arkansas City Patrolman.  I would do a ride along with Joe Don and as a result I experienced first hand some of the same excitement of law enforcement that I saw on TV, the high speed chases, having to think quickly and make good decisions, figuring out the "who done it" which was more challenging than any job I had ever preformed.  It was with the ride alongs with my friend Joe Don that I was introduced to the Crawford Co Under Sheriff Trellon Ball experiencing the authority, purpose and independent duties of police officers and deputy sheriffs. 

To gain more experience and occupy some of my free time I submitted my application to join the Mississippi County Sheriff's Posse in Blytheville which was a non paid volunteer group who mostly did ride alongs with the paid Mississippi County Deputies and they worked traffic at special events.  The Posse leadership were ready, willing, and able to accept me but they told me that others airmen had tried to join and were unable to obtain permission from the US Air Force.  Being off so much I had forgotten that I wasn't a free agent, even when I wasn't on duty at the base I was still the "property of the US Government for them to do with as they pleased so I went to the base legal office seeking permission and the Air Force refused to give approval referring to the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 which prohibited the use of active duty US Military personnel from engaging in civilian law enforcement.  I wasn't one to be denied, I saw every road block as a problem to be over come; Air Force Basic had taught me to "Aim High" and never surrender and at 22 years of age that training and influence pushed me to find a way to accomplish my mission.  I wanted to know by my own personal experience if Law Enforcement was my career path that I might desire to take if and when I discharged from the Air Force and the best way to know was to engage in the activity while I was till in the Air Force.  With this goal in mind I took interest when one of the Sheriff's Posse members suggested I obtain a Private Investigator's License as while it wasn't law enforcement, PIs had no arrest powers outside of what normal citizens held, a PI did do some of the same things that law enforcement officers did, they "investigated". 

To prepare for my PI Application I took a VA approved Professional Investigators correspondence course that was suppose to take 6 months to complete but and because I had so much free time both on duty and off I completed this course in only a few weeks and received my certification November 12, 1974.  Not just anyone could become a licensed "Private Investigator" in Arkansas, I obtained a set of prints and submitted my $25 fee wtih a photo and used my VA approved Professional Investigators course and my military experience and after a background investigation six months later and on May 12, 1975 my License Card was issued.  I was elated, I was 22 years old and a real "PI", not a TV actor playing a "PI", I was a real licensed Private Investigator and I quickly put my license to work by making money working cases.  I had letterhead and business cards printed for my PI Business and I took out a notice in a national trade magazine and conducted several "private" investigations for local businesses in Blytheville. 

When I was 14 my older brother secured my job working on the peach farm and when I was 18 he secured my job working at Gerbers.  When I was 19 the United States government drafted me for the US Army forcing me to enlist into the USAF but this was a turning point in my life, for the first time I was doing what I wanted, making my own choices, I was 22 year old and I started my PI business on my own initiative and "Rick O'Kelley Investigations" was to be my first of my four successful businesses that I would start and operate in my lifetime. The USAF had given me the confidence that I could do anything and I took it from there.  

In addition to my Professional Investigators course that I used to apply for my license I also enrolled in a Legal Investigation course in 1974 when I made my application and that course would take me till June 1975 to complete and then I enrolled in the 18 month Institute of Applied Science course to learn how to collect and obtain and classify fingerprints and learn civil and criminal investigation methods and I completed that course in 4 months. 

One of my most memorable PI cases was locating a bond jumper for a bondsman in Chicago, the jumper had been arrested for a felony in Chicago, bonded out, then disappeared and was believed to be hiding in Blytheville and I found him without his knowledge and keep tabs on him learning his habits until the bondsman could fly down and because of my work we were able to picked the guy up on the street as he was coming out of a place that he hung out and the bondman put him in handcuffs and took him back to Chicago.  The bondsman was a retired Chicago Police Detective and as an added bonus for a job well done a few weeks after I received in the mail a PI badge, I didn't have one, I only carried my pocket license card and he took notice and sent me a badge telling me it would open more doors. I think he had a brother-in-law who sold badges and other police equipment.  In those days PIs were allowed badges, many PIs carried them but today a licensed Arkansas PI is not allowed to carry a badge.  I kept in contact with this bondsman even after I moved to Fayetteville and went to work for the Sheriff's Department and in 1977 when I was working in CID he called me and asked me to locate another bond jumper who was hiding in Fayetteville.  I cleared it with my sheriff and since I still had my PI license I worked in my off time and located the fugitive but this time he sent someone else to pick this bond jumper up, I met his associate at the airport, took him to the home that I had located and we found the bond jumper sleeping or actually he tried to go out the back door but I was waiting for him and put the cuffs on him took the bondsman to a motel and dropped him and his fugitive off for the night then picked them up the next morning and returned them to the airport.

I aided a local Blytheville bondsman in finding people who had jumped bond, I seemed to have a natural talent for investigations and finding people who don't want to be found and riding around sometimes with my friend who worked as a patrolman for Alma PD I came to know that my heart wasn't in uniform patrol but in the investigation's side of law enforcement. 

I acquired my Fiat X1/9 maybe a month before I received my PI License, the two events were not linked.  My Fiat was designed by Bertone and I didn't get the car to pickup girls or promote my business but I was surprised that my car was a "chick magnet" it was very popular with the girls.  I was living an exciting and mostly care free life in 1975 when my life went into "warp drive".  January of 1976 I took terminal leave from the Air Force and took a job working undercover narcotics for the Washington Co Sheriff's Dept, by the spring of 1977 I was promoted to investigator assigned to the Criminal Investigation Division and I sold my Fiat because it had become too dangerous to drive because I had used it as my under cover car.  I began to settled down into a married life.  I was arresting bad guys, investigating crimes as serious as homicide so I quickly forgot my time as a PI when in fall of 1980 Magnum PI aired on TV staring Tom Selleck who played a US Navy Veteran, a Navy Seal who spent 3 tours in Vietnam.  It was all so ironic that like me, fictional Thomas Magnum became a PI driving a cool but much more expensive Ferrari 308 GTS two seated mid engine sports car also designed by by Bertone also with popup head lights and a removable top. 

One can watch a video on YouTube to see what it was like to drive a 1974 Fiat X1/9, those two yellow things just above the hood are the headlights.  I think the Fiat sounds more sporty than the Ferrari but hands down the Ferrari is more tricked out, it has more engine power, comfort features, and cost a lot more money.  Books, TV and Movies have considerable influence on people and some people that I came into contact thought that PIs had police powers but of course we didn't but some of this may have come because most PIs were former or retired law enforcement officers.   Of course the real work that I did was nothing like the Rockford Files, Magnum PI, or the Maltese Falcon no one tried to kill me or beat me up, no sultry women came knocking on my door, well two neighborhood girls did come knocking on my door using their sexual charms to attempt to influence me to drive them around so their friends could see them in my car.  I wouldn't describe them "sultry" but they were on a mischievous mission.  I recall making a trip to Jonesboro to pick up documents for a client and the girl at the front desk asked me to autograph my business card, she was excited to meet a real PI and she told me she thought I looked like a "PI" because I was cute.  It embarrassed me because I was playing "PI" I was working hard to be professional and she was flirting with me.  I was a real "Sam Spade" conducting real investigations.  I was recently promoted to Staff Sergeant, a non commissioned officer in the USAF and I was driving a really fun car, that I got to hot rod it a few times

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My Decision to Discharge from the USAF  - While I had no means or influence to go to college before I enlisted in the USAF, I had several officers encourage me to use my GI bill to go to college when I discharged so I began to think and prepare for college.  This was the first time in my life that someone told me I could go to college and should go to college, until the Air Force most of the adults who influenced my life viewed college educated people as "idiots" so this was a new way of thinking for me.  Without studying, without cracking a book I took the CLEP tests at the Base Education Office during my last year in the Air Force and passed all but my college level English.  I had almost all my first year of college complete so I began to form a plan that if I discharge from the Air Force in the spring of 1976 when my active duty enlistment was completed, I would move to Fayetteville Arkansas and enroll at the University of Arkansas in the Fall of 1976.  Even with the GI Bill I knew I would have to work and with my strong interest in Law Enforcement I hoped to gain a job working nights so I could go to college during the day.  I believed continuing my Private Investigation activities would conflict and hinder my college goal.  I had plans but I hadn't completely committed to discharging from the Air Force. 

My decision to discharge was made for me in December 1975 when I was called to base personnel office and told that I had orders for a 13 month tour of duty in Turkey.  Muslim extremist were a problem even in that time as they were killing airmen in Turkey in 1975 so I decided to discharge and I began submitting my applications, first with Springdale PD, then Fayetteville PD but both hired based upon a civil service exam and those had already been given for the hiring for the year 1976.  I would have to wait almost a year to take the civil service exams so I decided to take a gamble and took terminate leave beginning Feb 1 1976 and followed the recommendation of the Springdale Police Chief.  I applied in person at the Washington Co Sheriff's Dept and was hired.  I was still in the Air Force until March 20th but on leave and started working as an deep undercover deputy.  My starting salary was $600 a month which doesn't sound like much today but in 1976 it was equal to what I had been making as an E5 in the Air Force and it was $100 more than a patrol deputy because of the job I was hired to do.  I expected to be hired as a dispatcher, jailor or some other entry level job but to my surprise Washington Co Sheriff Herb Marshall offered me employment as an undercover narcotics officer.  Other than the ride alongs with Alma Police Dept Patrolman Joe Don Gregory, my work as a Private Investigator, and my studies that I had completed in Legal Investigations and with the Institute of Applied Science Fingerprint and Criminal Investigation Course, I had no practical law enforcement experience or training so this was an amazing opportunity for which I never dreamed might be possible.  Without talking it over with Renee', I accepted the job, this time I wasn't going to turn it down as I turned down Pararescue when the Air Force offered me that opportunity in March 1972.  This time I was a 23 year old US Air Force Staff Sergeant and a licensed Private Investigator use to making my own decisions and supervising subordinates, I was my own man.

Washington County Sheriff's Department

Most Law Enforcement Officers retire not having done the things I have done.  I began my law enforcement career in February 1976 living deep undercover buying drugs and pretending to be a bad guy who had recently come into town fresh out of the military.  In those days everyone thought vets were drug users, dealers, and baby killers anyway so it was a good cover and being a vet seem to cause people to walk with caution around me, guess they thought I was a crazy killer and maybe I looked and acted the role well.  To prepare myself for my Private Investigator duties, my last full year in the Air Force I bought a Bullworker and exercised daily so at 5' 11" and 165 lbs I was in good physical conditioning, Renee' took a photo of me, it didn't take long for my hair and beard to grow out and she liked my new look.  Wish I had kept my Bullworker but I have always been generous to a fault so I gave it to a friend a few years later because he wanted one but for my undercover role I wore my USAF field jacket with the stripes and tags ripped off, but one could tell where they once were, the US Army and Air Force wore the same M-65 field jacket so I looked like a bad ass Vietnam Vet.  Maybe these were the qualities that Sheriff Marshall who served two tours in Vietnam as a Green Beret saw in me and that caused him to think I could do this job without experience or police training. There was a time in the Quarterhorse Bar in Tontitown when I was bent over to take a pool shot when one of the bar maids came up to me and whispered in my ear that my field jacket had risen above my gun that I had stuck down in the back of my pants and she whispered that I was making some of the regulars nervous.  Of course it was all smoke and mirrors, I never got into a fight, never did anything physical, it was all an act to accomplish my undercover "mission".  I was lucky no one forced to back it up but I mentally and physically trained rehearsed and practiced, I armed myself with two handguns, a Browning Hi-Power tucked in my waist and a .38 S&W Airweight in an ankle holster all tricks I learned from reading NY Undercover Frank Serpico's book so I was prepared to back it up if forced too.  I spent my time running with the bad guys, hanging out in bars, hanging out in homes where drugs were sold, doing drug deals in the dark sometimes in a car at a lonely lake or back road.  There were always "drug whores" who were most often underage girls trying to trade their body for the drugs that I just bought so there were a lot of pitfalls, a lot of sex, drugs, and violence all around me that could trip an undisciplined police officer.  The drug world can and most often is a sad and dangerous one.  One of the UA Students that I purchased mushrooms from died from an over dose before he was arrested.  My job was dangerous because I was associating with desperate people   I was young and like most young people I thought I was "bullet proof", but looking back I know how foolish I sometimes was, we are all mortal and can be living one moment and dead the next but I was also very aware of my mortality because I started working undercover in Washington County Arkansas when barely six weeks had passed when Springdale Police Officer John Hussey at the age of 22 was taken from a traffic stop on well traveled US Highway to a remote area where he was handcuffed to a tree and shot to death.  You can read about his murder in the Northwest Arkansas Times December 22, December 24 1975 and it was the December 22 1975 article that I read in the Blytheville Courier while I was still in the US Air Force doing my duties but also working as a Private Investigator in Blytheville Arkansas 300 miles away.  Now that I was a Deputy Sheriff living in Fayetteville, part of my undercover work assignment was to listen, watch, and report any clues relating to Officer John Hussey's murder or the whereabouts of his murderers.  This has long ago been forgotten what I did or how dangerous my duties were, I was deep undercover, like a "Secret Agent Man" they didn't give me a number but I had a false name and Washington Co Arkansas was the third largest county in Arkansas with a population of about 90,000, home of the University of Arkansas and corporate headquarters for Tyson's Foods.  Walmart and JB Hunt Trucking Corporate Offices were 20 miles away in Benton Co and US Hwy 71 was a major highway often used by the criminal element traveling between crime ridden Chicago and New Orleans.  It is commonly believed that being a police officer today is more dangerous but in 1976 there were 203 police officers died on duty and we had 1/3 the police officers that were working in 2015 when 130 policed officer died on duty so the numbers do no lie, they tell how dangerous my job was in 1976.  Even many of my retired law enforcement brothers an sisters have forgotten how dangerous being a law enforcement officer was in 1976 and being a deep undercover with no police experience of office police training was the most dangerous of all so I remember well the danger that I felt when I got in my Fiat and went out to the streets and back roads to run with the criminal element.  It was so real to me that I often carried two guns because there wasn't no personal radios, no cell phones, no bullet proof vests, no Tasers or Stun guns, I was deep undercover also looking for those who murdered Springdale Police Officer John Hussey while risking my life to buy illegal drugs to make cases for prosecution and I was it.  My duties took me to the University, all over Fayetteville, Springdale, all the small cities and the rural back roads.  There were 2 DEA Agents in the entire state of Arkansas and they only came out for very major national and international drug investigations, the FBI didn't work drug cases and the Arkansas State Police had maybe a dozen undercover officers for the entire state and they didn't work deep undercover like I did, they had badges and ID and could call for back up from uniformed or plain clothes officers or take another undercover with them on dangerous cases, there were a few places my sheriff asked me to try to go because it was of interest to the State Police and their undercover officers had tried penetrate and failed.  I had only myself, no ID, no Badge, just my Vietnam Vet persona, my guns, and my wits so my job was very dangerous and it has all been forgotten, it has even been forgotten by Renee' who lived it with me.  I am not whining about it and I am not bragging about it, I am only telling my life experience because my aneurysm and prescription drugs had caused me to forget and now that I am wellI don't want to forget again about the extraordinarily brave things that I did when I was 23 years old.  Remembering and reading my letters written 4 decades ago that the Air Force recruited me for Pararascue and reading my old undercover officers reports remembering how I started my law enforcement career doing something so brave and dangerous reminded me that I really am somebody special and that helped pull me out of the deep dark suicidal pit of depression that prescription drugs given to me after my aneurysm had pulled me into. 

I volunteered to work undercover, no one made me do it, I would do it again, I was asked by Sheriff Herb Marshall to do it and I did it because it was what I had been training and preparing myself and maybe I was naive thinking that by risking my life I might make a difference in someone else's life, that it might save a life but who knows, my work may have stopped some future event saving a lot of lives.  At 23 I was working at a job so dangerous that I practiced drawing and dry firing my Browning 9MM that I carried in the waist of my pants, I practiced dropping to my knee and drawing and dry firing my S&W .38 Airweight Chief in an ankle holster on my right leg so if the need came, I would act on instinct, so it would come automatic and I wouldn't have to think about it, someone points a gun and me and I draw and fire.  I took my job seriously because the danger was as real and it was easy in the fog of time to forget.

Sheriff Marshall had worked deep undercover so he had this well thought out, should I be confronted by a police officer, my instructions was to submit to any arrest and then make a phone call to a certain bondsman who I was to tell my identity and he would contact the Sheriff.  The bondsman didn't know my identity, he only knew that if someone called him from a jail with such a story he was to call the Sheriff so the operation was very well planned.  I wasn't allowed to tell any police officer who might arrest me who I really was after all he could be a crooked cop and I could be putting myself in unnecessary danger so I was out on that limb pretty far and in a place few people have every been.  And for those who think that what I was doing wasn't as dangerous as I claim consider that in the summer of 1977, just a year after I worked undercover, I was working as a plain clothes Investigator for the Sheriff's Department when we discovered and cut two dump trucks loads of marijuana growing along the Arkansas Oklahoma border.  We didn't know who the marijuana belonged and didn't have the manpower to set surveillance so to prevent it from going to market we cut it and that night one of the growers discovered the marijuana gone and he went to his buddy in Adair Co Oklahoma thinking his buddy had ripped him off and they engaged in very bloody homicide against each other so this was a very dangerous and deadly business marijuana was a major cash crop and people would kill to protect it and prevent themselves from going to prison .  When people learn today that I am a retired Washington County Arkansas Deputy Sheriff they think I began my career like most all deputies, lots of folks tell me, "I guess you ate a lot of donuts" but my entrance into law enforcement wasn't anything like that of the average Arkansas Deputy Sheriff or the average Law Enforcement Officer of today or then.  My entire law enforcement career wasn't anything like the average law enforcement officer, I lived and worked in the prime of my life at a fast pace and in the center of some of the most exciting events to have ever occurred in Washington County Arkansas.  I am sure that most of the deputies that I worked with me don't know this was how I came to be a Deputy Sheriff, I never spoke much about that time and I do so now not to brag, I tell my story because it is an forgotten bit of Washington County Arkansas Sheriff history.

I favored the Browning Hi-Power because it one of the thinnest powerful handguns around at the time and it turned out to be a favorite of my Sheriff who was a green beret in Vietnam.  I found the Colt .45 too heavy for undercover work, it had greater stopping power but it had a lower capacity a concern since I had no one to back me up.  When I thought I might really be in danger I carried a S&W model 37 Airweight in an ankle holster, that was my backup, a second handgun.  I practices drawing and dry firing both these weapons and when I would go into the lair, I would start formulating an escape plan, I have always been a planner, I don't like leaving things to chance.  I still do this from habit today, sizing people up, trying to pick out those who I perceived would be the greatest danger, looking for the bulge or something hanging heavy that might be a gun and putting my back against the wall and locating the escape routes just in case, if nothing else it will give you something to do while you wait for your salad but if you are in a dark theater with me and someone comes in shooting you will likely see me taking the battle right to the suspect.  It has been shown time and time again that aggressively attacking the attacker is always the best plan even if you are unarmed and maybe your aggression will give others the courage to join in and help as a mob is always more powerful than a firearm. Fight for your life and try to take theirs in the process, that is my motto.

When I came out from undercover for about a month I worked as a plain clothes officer teamed up with experienced CID Investigators serving arrest warrants on those who sold me illegal drugs.  After that the Sheriff wanted me to become experienced so I worked dispatch for a few months waiting to go to the Arkansas Law Enforcement Academy and soon after graduation and with less than one year experience I was transferred to patrol and only a few weeks in Patrol I tracked and an arrested an armed robbery suspect single handedly then a few weeks after than while serving a simple court civil paper on a man I made another major drug arrest that resulted in a search warrant of his home and the seizure of a large quantity of marijuana.  My courage and initiative resulted in my transferred to the Criminal Investigation Unit with only 13 months total police experience. 

Lt J. D. Snow left the department sooner than I expected and while I was put working at this desk in 1979 doing all the things he did, I wasn't a Lieutenant or given the title of Chief Investigator, that would come until the election of Sheriff Bud Dennis as the Washington Co Sheriff in 1980 when he turned to me as the man he wanted to officially head his Criminal Investigation Division and his decision was based on his personal knowledge of my work but also on the recommendation of FBI Agent Richard O'Connell.  I worked briefly two months as Sheriff Dennis's Night Commander until he got his organization in place then I moved to days, was promoted from Sergeant to Lieutenant and became the the Chief Investigator of the Washington Co Sheriff's Department. Just weeks after my promotion West Fork Police Chief was murdered on a roadside stop and I was responsible for the supervision of the investigation, while the Sheriff conducted a week long manhunt for the killer, I coordinated the investigation with the FBI and the Arkansas State Police and I personally took the crime scene photos and processed the evidence.  In those days we didn't have a CSI, we were CSI. The suspect was located but he died in a gun battle with police and that investigation fell to me and my investigators, that was in March of 1981, the week President Ronald Reagan was shot.  I remember the TV was on in my office as I was working on the West Fork Police Chief Paul Mueller homicide investigation when the news bulletin came on. 

I built a reputation as the investigator that people turned to when they needed help as in combination with my other duties, I was a Lie Detector examiner so I conducted test for many agencies, local, state, and federal.  In 1988 Sheriff Dennis promoted me to the rank of Captain. I was living my dream.  I had many good friends one was a building contractor and he built me a new home and I also was working at a part time photography business that was bringing in a considerable sum of extra money.  I  had a nice vehicle, a motorcycle, and money in the bank, I had life insurance and an IRA so everything was going my way.  For a time I was one of the most powerful influential men in Washington County.  Prosecutors, judges, FBI Agents and Police Chiefs valued my opinion.  Bruce Springsteen has a hit song titled "Glory Days" and these were my "Glory Days", it was the happiest time in my life. 


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Living in Fayetteville - When I moved to Fayetteville I rented a new townhouse at Freeman Townhouses 1800 N Gregg #5 Fayetteville Arkansas and I lived there until June of 1976 when I moved to Wedington Woods lot 616.  I had purchased this lot and bought a new 1976 mobile home to place on the lot and this is where I lived until 1986 when I had our new home built.  I still have the original title of that new mobile home.  January 4 1977 I bought a used 1975 Ford Granada.  I sold my 1974 Fiat X1/9.

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Voice Analysis Lie Detection - In May of 1977 Sheriff Herb Marshal told me that he was sending me for two weeks to Clifton NY where I would learn the Mark II Voice Analyzer and become a Lie Detection examiner.  This was my first trip to a really large city and I wasn't overly fond of New York City as in the 1970s it was a high crime dirty city.  I got to meet some very interesting people and because we were all police officers, when we visited the Empire State Building, they allowed us to go all the way up into the Airship port.  Most people do not know and are not allowed to visit the very top of the building which was fitted with a dock for an Airship, there is a door that opens out so the passengers could get onto and off of the docked Airship but I don't think this was ever used.   It was tiny, single file walking so it wasn't a high traffic area.  I recently was talking with a woman at the mall and she told me that the movie "An Affair to Remember" was her favorite movie and she hoped to visti the Empire State Building with someone she loved and as she told this story she said I began to smile so she said, "you have been there, haven't you" and I told her "yes, but not with someone I loved" and I told her my story.  When I say that I have experienced a great deal in my life, that I have done a lot of things that no one else in my family has ever done or will ever get to do, I am not bragging or boasting, I am just stating a fact, I have experienced a lot of things that few people walking on this earth have or will experience in their lifetime and my visit to the Empire State Building is just one of many. 

Fred Fuller the inventor of the Mark II Voice Analyzer was one of my instructors and I became proficient in the craft, I did many test for Federal, State, and Local law enforcement in high profile cases but after I retired and was attending school in studying computers at the Northwest Technical insitute in January of 1991 the bombing of Iraq began and I receive a phone call from a US Army Colonel stationed at Ft Riley Kansas seeking to recruited me to go to the middle east as a civilian contractor for the US Army to give Voice Analysis examinations on informants because they needed to know if the information the informants were providing was truthful and they wanted an experience police examiner to give these test and I can highly recommended.  Over the phone I accepted the job assignment, who wouldn't answer the call to their country?  I believe this was a high honor to be asked.  I was put on standby to leave on a 48 hour notice but when the actually ground combat began it was over before it really started and the need to give these test didn't develop so I received a follow-up phone call from the Army Colonel informing that my Army job ended before it started.  They planned for the worst and they got the best which is the way all missions should unfold. <Return to Menu>

Rick O'Kelley Photography 1981 - 1992 - A deputy sheriff in 1981 didn't make a great deal of money.  I received my first camera when I was in grade school.  I developed my first roll of film, created my first print and I learned it all from those ads one would find on the inside covers of comic books.  I didn't learn it in school, I learned it from comic books when I was about ten years old.  It was also from an ad on the inside cover of a comic book that I learned how to pick locks, I sent off for a book on how to do it and practiced using home made picks, something that would come in handy when I worked in law enforcement or when we would accidently lock ourselves out of our home.

Working in investigations in law enforcement, I was issued a manual 35mm camera some lenses, and a flash and lots of film to take crime scene photos but I wanted to know how to not just take photos but how to take really good photos.  I went to Sears and bought a Ricoh 35 MM camera and I used my Veteran benefits and enrolled in the New York Institute of Photography and I began to teach myself how to take better photographs.  If you are serious about photography and are proficient at self study, I highly recommend the New York Institute of Photography to learn your craft but also how to run your business.  When I was given the opportunity to attend the Arkansas Law Enforcement Academy course in Color Crime Scene Photography I did and later when I received the opportunity to attend a two week course at the Federal Law Enforcement Academy in Glencoe Georgia, I did that as well. 

I never considered using my photography skills to make money until one day in 1981 a woman who worked at the Washington Co Sheriff's Dept asked me if I would photograph her daughter's wedding.  I told her I would need to think about it as I had never taken on such an assignment, never even watch it being done at a wedding so I needed to think about it.  I went to a local book store and bought a book on wedding photography and after reading it from cover to cover I decided to give it a try.  I must have done well because when they showed my photos around, I had others who asked me to photograph their weddings and I charged for doing this so I was making money, pretty good money and I wasn't even advertising.  Brides needed photos to put in the paper so I was soon taking portraits and by 1986 when we build our new home I had taken probably 150 to 200 weddings, I was a very busy man and photographing weddings was hard work.  It took at least five hours of very hard exhausting concentration to detail to ensure all the photos the bride wanted were taken and would come out correctly.

Photography today is completely different from the early 1980s.  One had to understand apertures, shutter speed, and exposures.  You had to understand it so you could get it right the first time because you didn't get a second chance and there was a risk that your film might become lost of damaged.  Special effects such as soft focus was something one did in front of the lens, today it is a selection in the camera's menu or done later in a software like Photoshop.  When I started there wasn't auto focus, so you had to sometimes struggle in low light to get it right and while today it isn't uncommon for me to shoot a thousand images at a time, film photography could become very expensive very quickly then you had the cost of storing and indexing all the photos, negatives, and slides.  A thousand slides would not fit in a shoe box but one hundred thousand digital images will fit on an SD card or a DVD so our new and modern cameras have made photographers out of many people who are good artist but know nothing about photography and that isn't a bad thing.  It is like transportation, the auto made drivers out of train passengers.

I really enjoyed my years as a photographer, what red blooded male in his prime wouldn't enjoy creating such beautiful images of the stunning beautiful models that I photographed.  In my law enforcement career I photographed many dead and sometimes nude bodies in all stages of destruction and decay so my photography outside of law enforcement was my therapy.  I met professionally a lot of interesting living people and I was taking photos of them most often at their best and in addition to weddings and portraits I photographed many very beautiful women for their model portfolios and one of my images was published by Swimwear Illustrated Magazine.  It was a photo taken in my studio of Chris wearing one of the Ujean swimsuits sold by the sponsors of Swimwear Illustrated Magazine Model Chris Robbins appears at the bottom right on the page and one will see in the narrative that I am credited as the photographer.  I took many "glamour" sessions of ordinary women of all ages and professions who were amazed that they had such beauty.  Brenda is featured in the two photos and she was one of my favorites models, that I used to fine tune my techniques.  She had a natural beauty and talent and was easy to photograph and she was very professional.  I had someone do Brenda's makeup and helped with her wardrobe, not that there ever was much.  I had a person to make adjustments to hair and wardrobe so I wouldn't need to touch the models as to keep everything professional so there could never be any questions.  Not everyone had Brenda's assets so I developed lighting techniques for making overweight women look thinner so photography was challenging but also very rewarding as it opened doors.  I took photos of University Athletic Director Frank Broyles and head football coach Kenny Hatfield.  For her 70th birthday, Dee Denton requested that I come to the Fayetteville Country Club and take photos.  It was a party limited to about 20 of the Northwest Arkansas Elite.  J B Hunt was one of the guest that I took photos so photography opened a lot of doors for me.

My photography business generated considerable income, so much that I considered it as an option after my retirement from Law Enforcement but an automobile accident that resulted in the death of my closest friend caused me to put my camera aside for more than a decade.

While it was a part time ran from our home business I took my photography business seriously because it was something I enjoyed doing and it was making my family considerable money and that made our lives better.  My photography business provided my health insurance and life insurance payments and provided me with "fun" money that I spent on vacations and shopping.  I became a member of the Professional Photographers of America for many years and I was one of only four such photographers appearing in the Who's Who in Fayetteville Arkansas.  I owned two Nikon FE-2 camera bodies with film winders, several very  nice lens but for my main work I owned two Pentax 645 with lens.  I wasn't just playing at photography, I was a serious photographer who had a professional reputation in my community and I was doing this while working full time as the Chief Investigator for the Washington Co Sheriff's Department.  I photographed the weddings of many local officers, including the current Sheriff, and one of the deputy prosecutors.

Of all the many photographs that I have taken in my life, some were pretty horrific, I have taken photos of dead children and infants, homicides, suicides, but also of children being born, birthday parties including a 100 year old man, weddings, and countless portraits, and of all the photos I have taken, it was a single photo that I took Thanksgiving weekend 1991 that has always come to my mind.  It was November 29 1991 and we were traveling with another couple on the train that ran between Montego Bay and the Appleton Estates and the train stopped at a small village to give the passengers an opportunity to view and buy some of the wares that the locals had made.  The poverty of this country was everywhere, sometimes it was heart breaking to see just how little the people of Jamaica had yet most seemed to be happy and laid back likely because what choice did they have which is why a young boy setting alone by himself and away from others who were trying to sell us any and everything they could, this young boy caught my eye.  The look on this young boy's face told the true story of hopelessness and poverty and I took his picture not giving him a moment to react because I wanted to capture what I saw.  There was time for only this one quick photo because as soon as I took it he looked away then got up and left.  I had invaded his solitude but I felt it justified because he had a story and important story to tell.  For that brief moment maybe I was the National Geographic photographer I always wanted to be because that young boy's face impacted me to want to take his picture. I suspect for this young boy the tracks went in two directions but both were a dead end when one is trapped in poverty.  Unlike America, Jamaica is so poor that a free public education didn't exists, these children are truly trapped by the poverty they are born into with no method available to them for escape.  Not long after our visit even this train shut down, for good, never to run again.

Sports Pixs - I became bored easily so I never turned down an opportunity that came my way.  I was an accomplished photographer, the portrait to the left is one that I setup and took of myself, I had photographed crime scenes, models, weddings, and many portraits so when the owner of Sports Pixs approached me about doing softball photography I told her I would give it a try.  She bought the film, paid for the processing, and sold the photos and paid me a flat hourly rate.  It was an wonderful opportunity to work and earn extra money so after work in the late spring and summer months I would go to the local ball parks and take photos of the teams playing soft ball.  I tried to stay busy and live a full life.

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Wilkins Gun Shop - In 1984 during a man hunt for a husband and wife burglary team, I met Jim Wilkins..  A preacher and his wife were breaking into houses in Madison Co and they were discovered and force to abandon their vehicle they were hiking or "bush whacking" across Madison County back country into Washington Co evading capture and for two days a massive manhunt was conducted for their capture.  One of my investigators and I were conducting an investigation of the couple, we located where they were living in Oklahoma in a tent and having identified them completely we returned to Washington Co where we joined with Madison Co Chief Deputy Steve Treat and reservist Jim Wilkins to lay in wait for the couple based upon information we developed from the couples papers found in their Oklahoma tent, the place of their residence.  The couple was arrested but my chance meeting with Jim Wilkins began a friendship that lasted until a freak motor vehicle accident took Jim's life in 1992.  Jim wasn't a full time paid Madison Co Deputy, he worked as an unpaid reserve officer as he had a profitable home construction business and also ran a successful gun shop that cater primarily to the law enforcement community.  Like myself, Jim didn't like to be bored, wanted to do something for his fellow man so the last few years of his life he worked as an undercover narcotics officer so we had a lot of shared experiences in common.  Perhaps the only thing we didn't have in common was I was an Air Force Veteran and Jim had never been in the military yet we still found a great deal of common grown and shared many of the same traits.  He bought a plane and obtained his pilot's license. 


Riding motorcycles early in life was something else we had in common, while I rode a Suzuki GT750J when I got married, Jim rode the Kawasaki 750 H2 when he married but we both sold our bikes not long after we married because we thought we were suppose to settle down.  Settling down turned out to be boring and who decided that anyway, that when a man gets married he has to give up fun and excitement, so now in our 30s we bought large touring motorcycles and we began to tour all around Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri eventually taking our once in a life time 10 day motorcycle trip to Florida i in 1989.  To the left his Jim and his wife as we were coming back from the memorable 1989 trip.  In time Jim came to work as a Special Investigator for the Washington County Sheriff's Dept, he worked many holidays for my investigators so they could be off.  The character of this man was beyond question and Jim lived his life as if he knew he would die young and he inspired me to do the same not that I needed much encouragement.  It is a testament to his character that more than 3000 people attended his funeral in 1992 and they were people from all walks of life, judges, prosecutors, sheriffs, police chiefs, state police, Tulsa Police, DEA, ministers, and also many common people who had fallen hard down upon their luck only to have Jim given then money to help get by and back upon their feet.  Jim Wilkins was an amazing man and I was lucky to have him as my friend.   I took the photograph of Jim that appeared on the cover of the Arkansas Deputy Sheriff Magazine following his death. 

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Machine guns - Most people don't know that any lawful person who has never been convicted of a felony can own a fully automatic machine gun and in the 80 years of legal ownership not one single criminal offense has occurred by legal owners, the crimes are committed by those who acquire machines guns illegally.  Jim Wilkins was a class 3 dealer which allowed him to lawfully sell machine guns to those who completed the necessary paperwork and paid their $200 tax to the federal government so they could own a machine gun.  Because of my work as a deputy and because we didn't have personnal radios and worked one man to a car, and many criminals had machine guns in the 1980s, some deputies bought personal machine guns to use in our work.  I had been assigned a "Tommy Gun" by the Sheriff's department but these were heavy and not practical so I bought a light weight modern military style machine gun that I still own today, I also still own a 12" Remington 870 witness protection shotgun that I also used in my work, and a "silenced" or suppressed Ruger .22 pistol.  All are all lawfully owned and anyone who can pass a background check and pay the fees can do the same.  Jim had in his inventory dozens of machine guns and we were allowed to taken potential buyers to the range and allow them to shoot these guns under our supervision. 

Some may find this story puzzling but in the 1980s, during the Ronald Reagan years the federal government didn't allow their officers to have machine guns.  President Reagan did much to "disarm" federal officers.  There were times when I had to drive 60 miles to Ft Smith to pickup an ATF Agent to aid me in my investigations because Reagan cut their budget so greatly that they didn't have gas money to fuel their cards.  If a Federal Agent needed the heavy fire power of an fully auto machine gun, they had to seek permission from Washington and if approved special federal SWAT teams would be flown in to provide such support so the local FBI, DEA, and US Marshals would often ask deputies who owned machines guns to go with them when they felt such arms might be needed on a federal investigation or arrest.   They could always asked for backup from locals and some did.  My good friend Jim Wilkins owned a M60 machine gun, this is a major piece of hardware and as an unpaid reserve deputy he supported DEA in many places around Arkansas because he could respond in just a few minutes when it could take days or weeks to get such support out of Washington and the most powerful weapon the Federal swat teams had were the less powerful M16 machine guns so we had greater power and quicker response.  When my good friend Jim Wilkins died in an automobile accident in 1992, his widow received a special commendation from the DEA for Jim's support given to them over the years.  Things are a lot different today, WACO happened, Oklahoma City bombing happened, as did the first New York City bombing of the Twin Towers and then 911.  Today every Federal Agency has greater access to full auto machine guns, it is the legacy of 9/11 but events like this was something that Jim Wilkins, Denny Halfacre, Terry Page, Charlene Smith, and I felt we should be prepared for as far back as 1983.  We had the foresight to know that these tools were needed long before 9/11 as we had a heavily armed CSA (Covenant, Sword, and Arm of the Lord) compound at Elohim City in Adair Co Oklahoma which was just one mile outside our county border so didn't need to discover this the hard way so we spent our own money out of our own pockets buying these weapons so we could respond and protect the citizens that we served.  Many gun owners are critical of ATF but I never saw ATF target anyone who wasn't fueling the gun violence of our world and ATF used its regulator powers to wave the $200 fee required for the registration of machine guns for any state, county, or city law enforcement officers who desired to buy a fully automatic weapon.   I have a lot of respect and received a lot of help from the Special Agents of the ATF that I came in contact with, they had a difficult job made more difficult by not receiving the support and respect from our public at large that they deserve. 

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My Run for the Office of Washington County Sheriff - While I had turned down the opportunity to run as a Republican Candidate for Sheriff in the late 1980s, in the spring of 1990 I submitted my application to complete Sheriff Bud Dennis's final year in office.  There have been many rumors about why Dennis resigned but what I can say about it is after winning five elections, Sheriff Dennis decided not to seek a sixth term and during his last year in office he resigned.  By law when a county elected office becomes vacant the Quorum Court is required to accept applications and decide who will fill the office until the next election.  What most people didn't know was when Sheriff Dennis was out of town he most always left me in charge of the Sheriff's Department.  I was a Captain and I headed only the Criminal Investigation Division but I reported directly to the Sheriff on pretty much equal footing with the two Majors who out ranked me, Chief Deputy, Major Bill Brooks and administrative Major Client Hutchens.  Major Brooks was Chief Deputy in name only, he held no authority over most of the department, there was never a time when I reported to either Major, I always reported to the Sheriff or I was in charge, that is the way Sheriff Dennis left it and that is probably because in the years I was in law enforcement, I never saw Bill Brooks do any law enforcement.  He may have before 1976 when I arrived but I never saw him do anything worthy of mention when at Fayetteville Police Dept or later at Washington Co and I am of the belief that Sheriff Dennis had appointed Bill Brooks as his Chief Deputy because it was a good political appointment but when real police work was needed, it always seem to make its way upon my desk.  I doubt there is anyone alive who worked with Brooks that can recall a case he solved or a felon he arrested.  So when Major Bill Brooks was the only person who applied to the Quorum Court to complete Sheriff Dennis's term and I felt the citizens deserved better so I submitted my application.  Of course this had already been decided in the backrooms of power but at least there was a public hearing on the matter, if one searches the Newspaper Archives they will find an accounting of it and the last week of May 1990 Major Bill Brooks was appointed to complete Sheriff Dennis's term.  Bill Brooks was one of those "good ole boys" but he wasn't a "Sheriff" but like all the years he was "Chief Deputy" he never was expected to be.  I am sure that before Sheriff Bill Brooks made any decision he had to run it by Sheriff Candidate Kenneth McKee the man favored for the upcoming election.  None the less, I ran for the office of Sheriff of Washington County, it is part of Washington County history and as I predicted when the Republican Party asked me to run in the late 1980s, I was soundly defeated.  I was a law enforcement officer, I wasn't a politician but I have no doubt I could have ran the office, I had a number of times in Sheriff Dennis's absences.  An interesting piece of trivia is the photograph of Bill Brooks in his Captain's uniform was one of my photographs.  I have lived a full and most interesting life. 

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Youth Excellence Awards - For almost a decade Sheriff Bud Dennis co-chaired the Youth Excellence Awards and he donated my official Sheriff's Department photography services to those awards.  The purpose was to recognize outstanding students who over came great difficulties to excel in their schools.  These annual award dinners were very touching, teachers for each school would come up and read the accomplishments of the students receiving these awards and UA Athletic Director Frank Broyles and some other dignitary would give metals to each student and I would taken their photos receiving their metals.  I met UA Athletic Director Frank Broyles and Coach Kenny Hatfield through these awards and I was greatly impressed with Kenny Hatfield, while I was there mainly to take his photography, he took the time to great me and ask about me.  It shouldn't surprise me, Kenny Hatfield was the coach for the US Air Force Falcons prior to becoming the coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks.  I would have my photos processed and each student would receive their photo as a gift from the Washington County Sheriff's Department.  <Return to Menu>

Northwest Technical Institute 1991 - Unlike when in High School I didn't apply myself, when I attended NTI I took my studies very seriously.  I completed the two year course in 18 months and made good grades but by self study, I had a pretty good understanding of Personal computers before I enrolled at NTI because it wasn't uncommon to arrest a burglary ring and recover truck loads of stolen property, so much stolen property that even when the suspects were cooperative it was extremely difficult to match recovered property with the victim.  We would spend months sometimes going through paper reports trying to do this matching but personal computers were coming into use and I remembered my days in the USAF working with computerized records so I began to press Sheriff Bud Dennis for a budget to buy a personal computer network.  In addition to working full time as the Chief Investigator and running a part time photography studio on weekends photographing mostly weddings, I also worked part time at JC Pennys in uniform to deter shoplifters so I was a very busy man but I knew a young college student who worked at Pennys who had graduated and was working for a newly established Personal Computer company in Fayetteville and I had been visiting with him about a Novel Network which in those days was a 286 Fileserver/workstation and two additional workstations.  My sheriff agreed, Brian aided me in writing the specs and we put it all out for bid.  There was only two bidders, Novel Networks were rare in 1987 and Brain's computer received the bid, the equipment was purchased, the network work installed.  So what now?  Well no one knew anything about computers.  I didn't know anything about Novel Networks or Personal Computers and Brian never suggested that we budget money for training so we had these three computers that set there with blinking cursors. 

Not being a person who accepts failure, I spend days at the Fayetteville Public Library teaching myself Personal Computers, Novel Networks and basic programming skills and within 90 days I was operating this computer network and wrote my first program that allowed us to computerize the CID Investigation records.  As records were entered into my program we could now search for property and the computer would return our answers in minutes, something that took days, weeks, and months with the paper records so when I was forced our of the Washington Co Sheriff's Department by newly elected Sheriff Kenneth McKee and I choose not to up root my family and move them to another place so I could continue in Law Enforcement, I decided to enroll at Northwest Technical Institute in Springdale Arkansas and pursue a two year degree as a Programmer Analyst. 

Everyone at NTI was wonderful to me.  No one liked what McKee did so many people opened doors to aid me and NTI did that as well.  NTI had a Novel network, their classrooms computers were all networked together so they could share a common laser printer.  In its default mode Novel kicks out a useless cover sheet with each print job so when 20 students printed to the printer, there were 20 wasted coversheets that were tossed in the trash wasting paper, toner, and printing resources so I asked the instructor one day why they didn't turn that cover sheet off after all all the print jobs had the students name on the printed page because they were handing their work it.  The instructor looked at me and said, "we don't how to prevent that cover sheet from printing, do you"?  "Yes", I replied and I was given access to the administrator password and turned it off. 

Several hours later the secretary of the President of NTI came to one of my classes and asked told the instructor that I was wanted in the front office so I left class and was take to the director's office and introduced.  After some small talk I was offered a nice salary and a part time job fo taking care of the computer network for the Northwest Technical Institute.  This began my computer career.  I graduated my two year course in 18 months and I was the class Valedictorian for the graduating class of 1992 and I was inducted into the National Honor Society.  I continued to work 20 hours a week at NTI until I opened The NET Connection, Inc in 1995. 

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The Net Connection, Inc June 1995 - No one becomes wealthy working for someone else and I wanted to become wealthy.  It has never been an obsession for me, I just wanted to be able to provide more to my family than I could make working for someone else and ever since I started my part time photography business back in 1981 I wanted to run my own full time business, I was just too afraid that I would put my family into bankruptcy to try.  When the Internet ideal started gaining ground, I burnt the late night oil going through books and learning new softwares.  This wasn't something one could go to school and learn, this was a hands on learn it yourself and I have always been pretty good at that.  I setup my own test Internet using a server, a phone modem and our residential phone line.  I would put the modem on answer then go to another place where there was a phone line, modem, and computer and dial into my home "Internet" and test.  In those days 99.9% of all the Internet was done by phone modem.  I fine tuned it until I got it working. I built our business from the ground up, I put the equipment together, trained my employees rented an office, had phone lines installed, and put in servers and modems.  It was a huge task and I think it was an amazing accomplishment.  From that start I grew a business that operated at a profit for more than 15 years, it was the first Internet business in Northwest Arkansas and it was the longest running independent Internet business.  

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Is it Real?  Chupacabra 2005a> - How many people do you know who appeared and had their photographs appear on the National Geographic ChannelI grew up watching National Geographic Specials dreaming of becoming a National Geographic photographer going on my next adventure.   In my adult years, married and saddled with the providing for a family I knew it was only one of those unfulfilled dreams that we all have in our youth but when I worked in law enforcement and the press would come around and most law enforcement officers would disappear quickly.  I am not sure why but most of the time, Sheriff Bud Dennis would send the press to my office for me to give the press releases so I gained a lot of experience in front of a camera so when the National Geographic Channel contacted me by email in 2005 I was a surprised that after decades anyone would have any interest in anything I had done but when they asked if I would agreed to be interviewed for the up coming production of Is It Real? Chupacabra, I said yes. 

In the summer of 1979 there was a mutilation craze in Northwest Arkansas.  I was an investigator for the Washington County Sheriff's Department.  I had personally investigated several so called mutilations that were mostly calves but an occasional fully mature cow.  One morning in late August Sheriff Herb Marshall came into the CID office and told us that he and Jack Perry, the President of the local Arkansas Cattleman's Association were going to stage a mutilation to see what happened.  People didn't normally stake out dead animals, they only knew what they looked like during certain stages of decomposition so the goal of the investigation was to see first hand and record and document what we witnessed.  Mr Perry was furnishing a sick calf and have his vet put the calf down in one of his closed pastures and I was to organize the stakeout and surveillance. I then drove to Beaver Lake where the field was and the calf had already been put down when I arrived and two deputies were setting surveillance so I took photos, relieved one of the deputies for several hours, then when his replacement came, I took more photos then left.  I returned to the stakeout the next day to take more photos.  The results of our stake out proved that these mutilations where nothing more than the natural processes that occur when a body is left out in the hot sun for about 48 hours.  At the time this was big news, Sheriff Marshall made most of the press releases but he mentioned my efforts so 26 years later when the producers were doing their research for their program on mutilations, my name came up in their google searches and they wanted to interview me and Sheriff Marshall.  We both did about 45 minutes each in interviews and they used about 10 seconds of mine and about 15 seconds of Herb's.  You can see a brief 5 minute clip that I appear here.  In a way I got to fulfill my childhood dream and have my photographs and myself appear on a program aired on the National Geographic Channel

This wasn't the only time that I was asked to appear in a global TV production about the 1979 Cattle Mutilation experiment.  In 2010 I was contacted by the producers of the Discovery Channel "Weird or What" and that resulted my appearance along with Sgt Doug Fogley of the Arkansas State Police in Episode 1 of Season 2 "Alien Encounters".  You can see a 7 minute clip of that interview and its introduction at this link.  What is amazing is William Shatner narrates and stars in this program and he introduces me.  I never dreamed as a young teen growing up in the 1960s watching Captain Kirk that 40 years later the future Denny Crane would be speaking my name on a program shown all over the world.  How cool is that.

The 1979 Washington County Arkansas Sheriff's Dept cattle mutilation experiment also made it into the September 1980 where on page 142 then Sheriff Herb Marshall describes the experiment and the findings of our investigation.

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CAF Missouri Wing B-25 Mitchell Bomber "Show Me" - I joined the Commemorative Air Force and I flew April 19 2014, 73 years and 1 day after General Jimmy Doolittle and 15 other USAAF North American B-25B Mitchell Bombers and their crews flew off the deck of the USS Hornet CV-8 April 18 1942 and flew to Japan where they dropped the  first American bombs on the soil of Japan.  It seems lost on many Americans today that the Doolittle Raiders were the first US Military service men to wage war on the homeland Island of Japan and they did this less than five months after the Japanese bombed the US Territory of Pearl Harbor.  Japan never attacked an actual American state, only our territories but the Doolittle Raiders dropped bombs on the capital city of Japan.   This would be like Japan flying over out nation's capital and dropping bombs, the Doolittle Raid was a huge achievement and it was pulled off with less than five months planning. The original plan was for Doolittle's bombers to take off on April 19th but they took off a day early because they were spotted by a Japanese boat. 

I traveled to the Hot Springs Memorial Airport and climbed into the tail section of the Missouri Wing of the Commemorative Air Force B-25J Mitchell Bomber Show Me and experienced what the US Army Air Force Tail Gunners of the WWII era felt.  For me it was a wonderful experience and one I look forward to repeating in my future but I can only speculate what the young farm boys who did this ever day and under combat conditions experienced.  I have great respect because if they had lost that war, the America we enjoy today would not exists.  We take our lives for granted but if these young airmen had failed, our lives would not be as they are today and I get that but I doubt most Americans walking through our shopping malls do.  You can see a brief clip at Youtube.com of my B-25J Mitchell Bomber flight, it shows my view as I crawled back to into the tiny cramped tail gunner seat. 

The North American B-25 Mitchell Bomber was the "A-10" Warthog of WWII and it saw action in almost every theater of the war and was flown by many nations, it was a favorite of the USSR.  These bombers have appeared in many movies like the 1979 movies "Hanover Street" staring Harrison Ford and they appear setting on the tarmac in Steven Spielberg's "1941".  More than a dozen B-25 Mitchell Bombers were made flight worthy for the movie Catch 22 released in 1970.  During the making of that movie second unit Director John Jordan refused to wear a harness while flying in an open tail turret and he fell 4000 feet to his death.  I flew in a closed tail turret but I can see how one could get bucked out as there was a lot of up and down and side to side motion.  I was very glad I didn't eat breakfast.  Because weight distribution makes the aircraft more difficult to handle on take off and landings no one is allowed in the nose or tail during take off an landing.  The bombardier would craw into the nose after the bomber was in level fight and the tail gunner would set in the section just behind the main wing where the two side gunners stations were then once airborne the tail gunner would crawl down the tail and into his turret something I did.  In the movies the gunners fire off round after round but in truth they had a limited amount of ammo and were very careful not to waste it.  I feel a connection to the North American B-25 Mitchell Bomber because Blytheville Air Force Base was an US Army Air Force two engine training base during WWII.  The North American TB-25 Mitchell Training Bomber was one of the aircraft that pilots including women WASP pilots were trained to fly at the Blytheville Army Air Field. during WWII.  It is one thing to watch WWII movies and see these planes in action but it is very much another to touch, feel, and smell the an actual plane and they do have a unique smell.  I am the only member of my family to have flown in a North American B-25 Mitchell Bomber.

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CAF P-51 Mustang Pursuit "Gunfighter" - The North American P-51 Mustang may be the most famous WWII fighter and many historians claim that it did more than any other weapon to win WWII.  It came into being before Pearl Harbor when the British asked North American Avation to build Curtis P-40s under the Curtis patent but North American wasn't fond of building planes of their competitor so they invented the P-51 which the British named the "Mustang".  It was such a good fighter than the US Army Air Force ordered 500 as dive bombers as A-36 Apache.   The original Mustangs had a greatly underpowered engine so the British suggested the use of the "Spitfire" Merlin engine and when the Mustang was modified to the use of this engine the P-51 became the unopposed rulers of the sky. The North American P-51 Mustang in the hands of skilled pilots helped wipe the German Luftwaffe and Imperial Japanese Army Air Service fighters from the sky allowing more bombers to complete their missions and return to base to fight another day thus bringing an end to the World War.  Without the P-51 Mustang, bomber crews were being lost in large numbers on every mission making it possible that a negotiated end to the war might be necessary but the Mustang allowed for total victory.  The "P" stands for Pursuit but was changed after WWII to "F" for fighter and while the P-51 had been retired when I entered service, SAC had more than 200 P-51s that were used as bomber escorts in 1948. 

Some of my life's most memorable adventures occurred in the back seat of a "Mustang" and this flight was to become one of them.  July 14, 1972 I set out from my home in Alma Arkansas alone in my 1966 Ford Mustang headed to my base. I was a young single USAF Airman and had just turned 20 years old and this was my first time to live away from home, a home I would never return to live.  August 15, 2014 I drove my 2013 Mustang alone but this time I was a USAF Veteran following the same exact route that I drove 42 years ago as a young airman stopping briefly at the place where the old main gate use to be at the entrance of Blytheville AFB before traveling on to Dyersburg TN where I spent the night with an old friend from that time so long ago.  My journey brought back a lot of old but fond memories of a care free time.   After spending the night, the next morning I traveled the few miles south of Dyersburg to the small town of Halls TN and to the old WWII B-17 Halls Army Airfield where waiting for me was one of the grandest adventures of my life.  I was greeted by Gunfighter pilots and USAF Veterans Larry Lumpkin and Jeff Linebaugh.  Larry gave me a pre-flight briefing, a "crash" course on how to exit the plane in flight and deploy my chute which Larry fitted to my back.  I was surprised how comfortable the chute was on my back, I hardly knew it was there as I climbed into and flew behind the pilot Jeff Linebaugh in the very popular P-51 Mustang "Gunfighter".  

When I was a child I was a cowboy, I often pretended to be a "Gunfighter" but what made this flight so special is we flew from the old B-17 Halls Air Field due west about 25 miles, over the Mississippi River and then over my old USAF Blytheville Air Force Base which was renamed Eaker AFB in 1988 then closed in 1992 and it is currently in civilian ownership.  After crossing the mighty Mississippi River, Jeff flew the "Gunfighter" just north of Arkansas Highway 18 crossing over US Hwy 61 and Hanna's Mobile home park to my right, the place where I lived and then what was little more than a hop, skip, and jump we were over the long runway where the nuclear armed B-52s and KC-135 tankers assigned to Blytheville AFB use to take off and land, the runway closer to our home than I ever knew and it appeared much smaller from the air than it appeared from the ground.  Jeff circled the base twice doing a hard bank allowing me to take photos out the left side of the Gunfighter.  I did a complete video of my adventure from a camera attached to my hat.  We flew over my old 97th Supply building where 40 years ago I worked nights and weekends in NORS Control.  I would have never thought when I was a young 20 year old US Air Force Airman that 40 years later I would be able to do this.  It was an amazing experience, bookends for my exciting life.  In the photo to the left appears the wing of the P-51 Mustang "Gunfighter", follow that wing and almost in the middle of the photo you will see the 97th Supply Squadron roof.  Click on the photo to see a larger image.  That is the building that I spent four prime years of my life.  I arrived when I was 20 and I left when I was 23.  You can view the video from the camera attached to my hat and see exactly what I experienced at YouTube.com.  I took the still photo that I have placed in yellow "97th Supply Squadron" on its roof.  You can see my photos of my B25J Mitchell Bomber "Show Me" and my P-51D Mustang Gunfighter rides at this link.

This Wings over Halls Air Show was one of the better shows that I have attended.  It wasn't crowded but there were a lot of people there, I estimate maybe as many as 5000 but maybe more and there was plenty of covered seating, many businesses setup cover areas for their employees, customers, and anyone else who they had room.  Everyone was so friendly, they made me feel like I was from there and just returned home.  I wore my kaki shirt that has my Air Force patches and pins, and my new "Blytheville (Eaker)" patch got a lot of attention.  Many old Air Force guys who has served at Blytheville came up and asked when I was there and what I did.  Some spouses who's husbands served also asked.  One young man told me his grandfather was there in the time I was stationed there.  While only 25 miles separate Blytheville and Dyersburg, in my days one had to take a ferry over the river or drive to Memphis and then back north so a round trip took a half day or more.  I had been to Dyersburg on one of my weekend motorcycle get aways before I got marriage but Dyersburg looked completely different today.  My friend and I went to a steak house and I wore one of my USAF shirts and had several people ask if I was in for the Air Show, where I served and then they thanked me for my service.  Dyersburg might be the friendliest town in America and they made this one of my best Air Show trips yet.

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Altus Air Force Base September 13 2014 Air Show - I have always wanted to see Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma because I was given the choice between going to Altus or Blytheville Air Force Base when in Tech School in 1972 and I selected Blytheville only because it was in Arkansas.  That seems a foolish reason today but it made sense then to an inexperienced young teen and if I had it to do again I would have tried to be assigned at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.  I liked Altus and the surrounding area a great deal but I am sure in 1972 that might have been very different because even today Altus is pretty far out and surrounded by chaparral.  Everything was smaller and less developed in 1972 when I was assigned to Blytheville Air Force Base.  The Air Show at Altus was great, I can never grow tired watching the US Air Force Thunderbirds and every time I go to an Air Show I see something new and I got to see a C-130 Gunship, a Drone, and a remarkable display of a C-17 Globemaster III that had reverse, it can backup unassisted.  I enjoy meeting old veterans like me, one man there was with his great granddaughter and he had been stationed at Blytheville Air Force back in 1955 when I was three years old.

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Memphis 2014 Air Show - While I had many opportunities to see the US Navy Blue Angels perform at the Ft Smith Air Show which is near my home, I never took advantage of that opportunity.  Now that the Air National Guard at Ft Smith has a mission change, that Air Show is no more so now that I have to travel a greater distance I decided it was time before Federal Budget cuts end our military support of air shows.  October 18 2014 I traveled to the Memphis Air Show at the old US Naval Air Station at Millington TN to see the Blue Angels perform.  They were outstanding, it was a wonderful show, and I managed to secure a place in the photographers pit so I had a great location to take my photos.  I also had the great fortune of getting to photograph the US Navy Blue Angel's team photographer as she took photos of the Blue Angels and in my photo of her she is taking a photograph of the USMC C-130 "Fat Albert" performing.  This was a wonderful carefree trip.  It was easy to get into the show and easy to get out and the drive was really great because the temperatures were moderate.  You may view my selection of USN Blue Angels images

At this air show we also received a rare treat from a fly over of the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress that was used in the 1990 movie Memphis Belle.  The real Memphis Belle is at the US Air Force Museum being restored for display so since a B-17 was restored to impersonate the Memphis Belle in the 1990 movie, that B-17 Memphis Belle has retained the name "Memphis Belle" and is being used to provide flights to interested parties.  If you will notice in the top left corner of my photo is a bird.  For those unfamiliar the importance of the Memphis Belle, US Army Air Force daylight bombing crews had to complete 25 mission before they could be retured and go home.  These raids were very dangerous, 80% of the B-17s did not make it to their 25th mission but the Memphis Belle was the first Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress with its original air crew that completed its 25th mission May 17 1943 and safely returned.  The plane was made air worthy and flown back to the states and the crew and the Memphis Belle went on a bond drive.  The Belle was named by its captain after his Memphis sweetheart but during his war mission they fell out of love and both went on to marry other people.  The woman who was the Memphis Belle lived until just a few years ago.  I hope to fly in the Memphis Belle next spring.  If you haven't seen the movie, I would encourage you to watch it as it is based upon that last historical mission and it will give you an insight to what it was like for our American Bomber Crews, for what it was like so many who didn't return. 

In the 1988 to commemorate the renaming of Blytheville AFB afterthe WWII 8th Air Force Commander General Ira Eaker the B-52Gs assigned at Eaker were authorized to paint nose art on their B-52s.  One of the B-52s was selected and had the Memphis Belle III nose art panted on to honor the B-17 Air Crew who were first to complete 25 missions so long ago.  Sadly that B-52 was destroyed after the closing of the base in 1992.

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Message to my fellow Veterans - Take pride in your military service.  Don't fall into the trap thinking that if you didn't do hand to hand combat that your service somehow didn't equal those who did.  Those Medal of Honor winners didn't fight naked, untrained, and unsupplied, there were many people who made that Medal of Honor possible and if you were not needed to accomplish that mission the military would not have you in the job they gave you.  Everyone who wore our nation's uniform had a mission given to them by their commanders and the only thing important is that you did your mission to the best of your ability. 

I listen to veterans who say they are not a "hero" that their buddies who died are the "heroes" and I believe that sets veterans up for a miserable life thinking that the only way one can obtain honorable service is to die in uniform.  Dying in service to your country is honorable but dying doesn't make one a hero.  What makes those who die in service a "hero" is the same thing that makes those who survive "heroes".  We all did what our nation asked of us and that makes everyone who wore our nation's uniform national "heroes" and it doesn't matter if you were drafted or volunteered, it doesn't matter if you were forced into service by a judge or a parent, it only matters what you did after you "suited up".  It only matters that you did the mission you were ordered to do to the best of your ability.  For those who died, their fight and their service ended with their death but we survived to continue the fight because the struggle to defend freedom and liberty didn't end with the death of the last service man or women to die.  If we had all died our nation would have fallen, it was the survivors who ensured our nation was defended and continued to survive with freedom and liberty, so take pride that you did what you were ordered to do to the best of your ability and remember that if that soldier fighting hand to hand survived to fight another day, it was because of all those who worked to train him, support him, and supplied him everything he needed to do his missionHe gets the ribbons and medals for his success but he did not earn them alone, it was his countless uniform brothers and sisters training him and supporting him that made his success possible.   One must never feel guilty because they weren't there fighting hand to hand next to those who died in battle and if you were fighting next to someone who did died and you survived, then for his sake you have a duty to not feel guilty and live your life proud in his honor because he died to give you that privilege.  Don't waste his sacrifice in perpetual grief.  Get up, dust yourself off and get on with your life.  Veterans should live our lives well and proud to honor all of those who have died in our wars.  If not for yourself, then do it for them, that must be your new mission when your uniformed service to our nation ends.

It is a common erroneous belief that heroes setout to become heroes but US Army Signal Corps Lieutenant Jimmy Doolittle tried every method possible to persuade his commanders to send him to Europe during WWI so he could fly in battle but that wasn't the mission his commanders wanted for him and in his book Doolittle gave a frank assessment of his early service, he wasn't a model soldier, he was often disobeying orders and not doing what his commanders ordered him to do.  It wasn't until he matured into a middle age man and the happening of WWII that US Army Air Force General Hap Arnold called upon then LT Col Doolittle to plan the April 18 1942 Tokyo Raid that is now forever linked to his name and his Medal of Honor, but if Arnold hadn't commanded Doolittle to plan this raid there wouldn't have been any method for Doolittle to take that would have put him in a B-25 that day the raiders bombed Japan, originally he wasn't suppose to go on the mission and only did so because a pilot became ill and Doolittle took his place so most heroics are not planned, they just happen because someone was in the right place at the right time and everything came together something Jimmy Doolittle confirms in the title of his book, "I Could Never Be So Lucky Again".  In his book Doolittle tells how after his now famous bomb run over Tokyo he set on the broken wreck of his B-25 Mitchell Bomber that crashed in China believing his mission failed, he told his crew chief that he would be court marshaled and sentenced to Federal prison, but no one cared about the crashed planes, we could build more but they did care about the mission and it did what it was meant to do, it inspired the America people and gave us the will to fight the Japanese but if that mission had failed then Doolittle would not be remembers so fondly so a great deal of heroics is just dumb plain luck and gut instinct.  Lt Col Doolittle was promoted to the rank of General and awarded the Medal of Honor not because Doolittle planned it that way, but because it just happened, because Jimmy Doolittle got lucky and that is what most people fail to understand about our heroes.  No one in uniform can create the circumstances that makes them a national hero, it just happens because they are in the right place at the right time and for everyone that is recognized there are thousands who go unrecognized because what they did went unnoticed.

It doesn't matter what your friends or fellow veterans, the VFW, or American Legion or anyone else thinks of your service, it doesn't matter what your wife, your children, or your mother or father or siblings think about your military service.  You don't need their permission or stamp of approval to be proud of your service, it only matters what YOU think about your service, it only matters that you did the mission assigned by your commanders to the best of your ability.  Every Veteran has the sure and certain knowledge that as long as the "Red, White, and Blue" flies free over our nation, our nation will honor our service and provide us an honored place to rest when we die.  We are guaranteed a place where all around us are veterans great and small lie, veterans who just like me wore the uniform of the greatest nation to ever existed and for as long as our nation exists our nation will care for our resting place and that is no small thing.  Take pride in your service to our United States of America, don't allow anyone else take that pride from you and it will make it easier for America to take pride in you.  Be grateful and be happy.

I borrow from my 1970 high school graduation card given me by my good friend US Army Air Force Veteran William J Morriss Jr best know as "Bill" and his wife, Rose, and daughter Marla:

Happiness does not depend upon what happens outside of you
but on what happens inside of you;
it is measured by the spirit in which you meet the
problems of life.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness was the three founding principals that our founding fathers declared in our nation's independence so putting on the uniform to defend life and liberty defends only two of the founding principals, we have a duty to our founding fathers to pursue happiness so our mission as veterans of the greatest fighting force to have existed doesn't end until we have found happiness so take pride in your service and it will aid you in your third and final mission to our nation, the pursuit of happiness.

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  1. full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing: We have every confidence in their ability to succeed.
  2. belief in oneself and one's powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance: His lack of confidence defeated him.
  3. certitude; assurance: He described the situation with such confidence that the audience believed him completely.
  4. a confidential communication : to exchange confidences.
  5. (especially in European politics) the wish to retain an incumbent government in office, as shown by a vote in a particular issue: a vote of confidence.
  6. presumption; impudence: Her disdainful look crushed the confidence of the brash young man.
  7. Archaic. something that gives confidence; ground of trust.  

I believe the reason so many people live an ordinary life is solely because they lack confidence in their ability to live anything but an ordinary life.  Like a Positive or Negative mindset, Confidence isn't something one is born with, it is a learned trait that any human can learn on their own or be taught and this is proven by Basic Military Training and College as these two institutions uses a system of training to build the confidence within their students to believe they can do what is asked of them.  Wal-mart attempts to do this with their employees at their morning "hurrah" meets.  Cheerleaders on the sidelines attempt to do this for their team to give them the much needed confidence in their abilities to win.  Our Astronaut Pioneers and great explorers like Christopher Columbus had self confidence in their abilities; mankind owes a great debt to people who accomplished great things and mostly all they had to achieve these accomplishments was CONFIDENCE in their ability that they could do it.  Without Confidence, without Trust, without Faith, humans would still be living in caves and in ignorance.  While Confidence is necessary for success, people with Confidence are often seen by those without confidence in a bad way.

Sadly people without Confidence often belittle, they try to steal, and try bring down those with Confidence, calling them cocky or braggers or Narcissist as if Confidence is a negative trait.  It is not, Confidence is a positive trait. The absence of confidence is a negative trait.   People without confidence will find fault in people with Confidence in their attempt to avoid finding the fault within themselves.  People who achieve Confidence are to be admired and emulated.   There is no such thing as over Confidence, that is merely a device that people without confidence use to try to rob Confident people of their Confidence.  Achieving Confidence is like winning a race.  A second place winner isn't really a winner at all, they are the first looser so achieving Confidence is everything to success and just like happiness and a positive mindset, Confidence lives between your two ears, it isn't something that the Wizard of Oz can bestow upon you, we aren't like the Tin Man, the Scare Crow and the Lion, we have these qualities within us, but we are the only ones who hold the power to activate them and fear, the fear of failure is what prevents so many from achieving Happiness, a Positive Mindset, and Confidence.

To be Confident is to be Brave.  A lack of Confidence is to live in Fear of Failure.

It has been my experience that people who lack confidence often make poor choices and live unhappy lives and they often avoid people who have confidence preferring to be among their own kind, preferring the company of people who like them are afraid to try to be more than they are.  One has to believe in themselves, you must have Confidence in yourself before others will believe in you, before others will trust you, before others will have faith in you.  Confidence is something one must earn by a series of actions that prove you can be trusted and are worthy of the faith others place in you.  Anyone can choose to become Confident, the first step is always found in keeping of your word and keeping your promises.  That is the lesson that Veterans of WWII US Army Air Force Bill Morriss and US Army John V Burrough taught me when I was 14, that keeping your word keeping your oath and promises even when it is difficult to do so will allow others to see you are a person worthy of their Confidence and Trust and that will allow you to have Confidence in yourself.  What these men taught me so long ago is if you think that circumstances can alter your keeping of a promise, then don't give your promise because to do so is dishonest.  It really is that simple.

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I find no evidence that God licensed marriage.  Licensed marriage is a modern invention created by religion and Kings to tax and exercise control over humans. I believe that in a free society that government should not have such power over us and the only role government should play in a marriage is to divide property and keep the peace as best government can when a marriage self destruct.

Marriage is difficult enough without the baggage of family. I believe the greatest act of love that a mother can do for her child, especially for her sons is to prepare them for life, prepare them to live independently, prepare them to make good choices, then encourage them and allow them to fly away out of the nest and cut the apron strings. Think I am wrong? Imagine what kind of a world we would live in if Mary had kept her apron string attached to Jesus to keep him near her and safe thus preventing him from completing his work. Imagine if Columbus had stayed home to be near his mother. Imagine if the mother of Moses hadn't set him adrift in a basket. We are told that mothers gave birth to these great men, then they took a back seat and allowed their sons to do the difficult, dangerous, and unwise activities that put them in harms way.

My best advise to any person who is thinking of getting married, if you can't live without your mother, father, and siblings and devote your entire being to your spouse then you shouldn't get married because it will likely end sooner or later in divorce. 




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