A Flounder for My Father

Billy Joel wrote the song my life and even today it seems to be the anthem of part of my childhood

when I was growing up as a military kid. I still remember the young maverick wwho hated to clean his room

as most teens. Always being told to take out the trash, do my homework, button up your coat and a myriad

of other commands. And like Billy Joel sang ‘This is my life leave me alone’ I wanted out of the rat race

of my parents rules. Sure there were good times with dad and mom. Like going to Adana Lake in Turkey.

Flying all over the world and in the states. The good times during the holidays. And most of all fishing with my

father. And the fish of choice in those late sixties and early seventies in Portsmouth NH was my fave the

flounder. Sure we caught a ton of King Mackeral, other types of fish and dad reeled in a Lion Fish with spines

and all and a sting ray. But over all it was the flounder that was my fishing life. Then one day the fishing was

over. I’d grown up and high school in Tacoma at CP and then overseas in GB at RAF Lakenheath was drawing

to a close. And with no friends in the land of the Queen and the Royal Family I flew off to Kansas.

I really missed dad then. I wished he could have been hollering at me when I woke up too late and missed

class. Or nudged me to get up and get dressed for school. When I hit my snooze button. And I missed

another class. I wished I had been home. When I found myself kicked out of college and no place to store

my stuff. Lucky for me I had a friend who had an apartment near my dorm. He let me temporarily leave

my record player and my other junk in his basement. I thanked him. Then I made the long journey back home

to Virginia. Since my folks had left GB and relocated to home in Hampton Virginia. Now you’d think like

most folks. They’s ask me that inevitable question are you going to join the military? But they didn’t ?!

They wanted me to go back to school but in Virginia. And my dad could have easily gotten me to go into

the Air Force. He was in the top of his class when he was a recruiter when eighty percent of his class washed

out. He also was one of the fortunate few that has a Vietnam Medal of Gallantry with a palm. Amongst a few

of his many accomplishments and honors. Including being a student in Electrical Engineering at Tuskegee

Institute. Now Tuskegee University also the famed historic world reknown home of The Red Tailed Tuskegee

Airmen. Yes dad could have easily gotten me to sign on the dotted line. But he wanted me to be an

officer. My father had seen the fire and rain as the song goes by James Taylor. And he once wrote me a

letter about some of the dark things he experienced and saw when he was in Southeast Asia during the

Vietnam war. I called Vietnam the land of the high green grass. Where the soldiers deployed out and

disappeared into the lush green grass with their ammo, steel pot helmet and M-16 in tow. My father wanted

better for me. He left home and dropped out of school because of costs to join the military. You’d think that

when he came home to South Carolina after he had left basic training in hot San Antonio that he’d have

gotten some kind of respect. That he did not just have end up as just another bright black man having to

pump gas into someones car for a living. But there’s a funny story kind-of-sort of about the famous and

decorated Air Force General “Chappie” James. He was at an Airport with all his medals and braid and some

white citizen mistook him for a “sky-cap” a baggage handler. I am sure the General was not amused. So it

was for my father when he came back to Spartenburg with his newly earned awards and decorations even

before he decided to enter the fray in Vietnam. He told me how he wanted a hamburger and he was in

my dad was told to go around to the back of the eatery to his food. That hurts me even today. I am former

law enforcement and have shot many a gun and used lots of ammuntion in my career. And I’d rather to have

shot myself in the leg then to have known that my dad was insulted like that but so were many dads before

and after the war especially dads of color, different races, nationalities and so on. And then we their children

men and women of color go on to do even greater things then our forbears. But some bullet wounds and

weapons injuries can heal over time but the pain of racism never seems heal or go away. it’s like a cancer

that will never be cured. It’s surprising I did eventually go into the military and into the Air Force and I became

a cop. I served in alot of places and I had my brush with the “R” word. Some stupid security police types

thought it funny to scrawl racial epithets on the walls of the guard shacks in Deutschland when I was at Hahn

a former Cold War nuke base near Bitburg and Spangdalem Air base near the town of Trier. Well word got

out and it stopped. But it was probably nothing as bad as what my father encountered. He actually survived

in a time when black people were still being murdered by lynch mobs and being black made you a target

which could be legally hurt or killed. I think about that sometimes. With my sometimes hot head and fiery

temper. Now having been tempered by age and my service connected ailments including PTSD. I did 10 yrs

of faithful service. Towards the end of my career after having been a security police supervisor with two

excellent troops I supervised. After having been an assistant area suprvisor at a non-nuclear storage

area after having won as a young airman the award for the quarter and for the month. After having been a

Dart Team, SART Team, AFT, and MFT, ART , B & C, CI and all kinds of other “alphabet soup” titles

and finally hanging up my active duty gun and badge in 1988. I was almost ready to call it quits. Then

I decided to enlist in the USMC. When it was all over the Gunnysgt told me he had good and bad news.

I asked him what was the bad news. He told me I didn’t qualify to join the Marine Corps. I asked him

what was the good news in an incredulous manner. He smiled and told me I passed the PFT (The Physical

fitness test). Now I get free beer and win lots of bets with people when they doubt me when I wave around

the rip that Gunny generated for me. I do wave it but not to get free beer and win bets. Dad would have been

so proud of what I had done. Even compared to his giant footprints in the military. Eventhough he wanted me

to be an officer. Perhaps go the Air Force academy. I had the brain for it at that time long ago. Before I finally

called the Air Force quits we call it FIGMO. I was fishing at my fave fishing spot. Folly Beach in Charleston

South Carolina. Most of the time though I caught lots of Dogfish, coakers and a crab or two. I was seeking

for my flounder. That day I caught it. It wasn’t that big. But it was met with gasps from the on-lookers. What

do you have Sarge they asked? It’s a flounder I said with a grin that rivaled the sun. I had finally caught it.

Wow wait till I tell Dad. But Dad would only be able to it as he joined the Lord. God called the Chief home in

1998. He was only 58 years young. I am now 50 years of age. Life has been much kinder to my body and

soul then it was to my father. I will always miss my father till the day God calls me home. We were just

becoming better friends when I lost my father and my maker called him home. I am glad I got that flounder for

for dad and me. I let the flounder go. I can only wish for those that have a estranged relationship with your

dad biological, step or otherwise. Patch it up. Life is too short. Do it now a friend of mine I call him BIG RUSS

he is originally from NYC. He tells me do it now man time is not promised to anyone. Go out and catch that

flounder for your father.

(In memory of my Pop’s to my mother, my sisters ,brother anyone I missed ,my former troop Lieutenant Jon and Mrs. Hopper and thank Bay Creek Flounder Classic for the use of your logo)

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