Lessons from a Humble Warrior

George Ormond, 1917, a proud member of "New York's Division"

George Ormond, 1917, a proud member of “New York’s Division”

In honor of Veterans Day – a story about my grandfather.

George Ormond’s pale blue eyes watered until the day he died. But he never complained about the Great War. Word was that mustard gas got him, but in those days, people didn’t talk much about injuries, follow-on treatment, or post-traumatic stress. My grandfather died when I was 21, about the same age he was when returning from the war. I wish I’d had adult conversations with him about his experiences, but it’s obviously too late. He likely didn’t realize how interested people might be in a blue-collar kid from Brooklyn’s renditions of his encounters on the front lines. [Read more…]

Military Writers Society of America Conference – Phoenix

Welcome to Guest Blogger and Author, Michael Wood

I recently met Michael Wood at the Military Writers Society of America (MWSA) conference in Phoenix. After seeing how well he captured the essence of the conference in words and photos, I asked if he’d be willing to share with this blog’s readers. So please welcome fellow Navy veteran Mike over from his Travel Photo Escapades (TPE) blog, and enjoy this virtual visit to the 2014 MWSA conference.

 This is my first year attending one of these MWSA conferences. [Read more…]

Farewell Shanghai

Shanghai 3 Please join me for the final installment of Vic Socotra’s thoughts on one of our Congressional trips to Asia, and a farewell to China.

We wandered down the street and over a couple of blocks. We found the entrance to the subway and went down. It was gleaming and shiny and not at all what I expected. We went down and got to the platform.

The little guy on the subway could have been sixty or he could have been eighty. He could have walked with Mao on the big swing around Chiang Kai Check’s Nationalists, and on to eventual victory in 1948.

He wore a little Mao hat and his gaze was implacable. He was staring at Val’s chest, or he was staring past her chest at me in my trench coat because he was exactly that tall. It was hard to tell. But it was a penetrating gaze, neither friendly nor particularly hostile. It was an intense and unwavering look, like that of a hawk on his prey. I leaned over to Val. [Read more…]

Christmas Heroes

Christmas brings back my last happy memories with my father. Growing up as “Daddy’s little girl,” it was no family secret that we shared a special bond. Dad served in the Navy in my early years, and I enjoyed hearing sea stories and exotic tales of places he visited. One time he brought home from a Navy cruise a three-foot-tall wooden table shaped like a monkey, which my brother and I named “Baboo.” My mother hated it. Mom’s detest for this furniture-creature among our early Colonial style décor made Baboo that much funnier to me, at six-years-old, and my way more mature older brother at seven. Dad’s sense of humor never stopped, and to this day when I think of him, I see twinkling blue eyes, shiny round cheeks, and a grin that made his entire face smile — just like that last Christmas.

Lieutenant Junior Grade Edward J. Ormond, U.S. Navy

Lieutenant Junior Grade Edward J. Ormond, U.S. Navy

Whether consciously or not, I followed in my father’s footsteps and joined the Navy.  Fiercely proud, my dad visited me at every duty station he could. And when I came home, Dad always wanted me to stop by the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Chapter Home, Omaha Beach Chapter Number 7, in Bowie, MD, to show me off to his friends and colleagues in the local veterans’ organizations. Every Christmas, the DAV held a holiday party for the residents of Charlotte Hall Veterans Home. Each year, one of the big highlights of the event for the Charlotte Hall residents was the belly dancer. [Read more…]

It’s Not Just a Job

NWVSB

When I joined the military, the Navy’s recruiting slogan was “It’s not just a job; it’s an adventure.” I lived that adventure for 25 years and experienced more than I ever imagined. And now, the adventure continues.

A few months ago I received an e-mail from a former “shipmate,” Linda Maloney, asking if I was interested in becoming a member of a new speakers bureau comprised of female veterans. Linda and I had served together in Air Wing ELEVEN onboard the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN-72). We were among the first women deployed on combatant aircraft carriers. Being the first at anything presents challenges, and both challenges and deployments create special bonds. [Read more…]

Fun With Freedom U.S.A. Tour

 

Billy meets Freedom at Loftmar Stables, Bowie, Md.

Sometimes we just have to have fun. Last week, all the way from Vancouver, Canada, Freedom the “Spokes-character” for Voice For The Horse Foundation Children’s International Writing Competition made his first U.S. stop in Bowie, Md. I’ve been fortunate to work as a volunteer helping coordinate the Voice For The Horse annual writing competition for the past three years and serving as a judge.

I had the honor of being the first to host Freedom Flat Stanley to help promote the horse-themed children’s writing competition. We began the tour at Loftmar Stables ,where our Maryland horses welcomed him. [Read more…]