September 30, 2012 by Bill
The “jewel” or “treasure” of which I write is the United States Marine Corps Air Station at El Toro, California. On Saturday, Sept 22, I was interviewed here in my home for four hours by the oral history department of the State University of California, Fullerton. The interview was about my time stationed at El Toro and flying there, flying both the F4U Corsair and the F7F Tiger Cat. The purpose of the University project is to preserve the rich history of Marine Corps Aviation and the El Toro Air Station, as well as the contribution to Orange county and the United States.
The day before my interview I was driven down to El Toro. To call it a “sentimental journey” would be a monumental understatement. To stand on that runway where I have taken off and landed hundreds of times filled my heart with memories… the excitement of Marine Corps Aviation, the bonding of pilots, and the glorious history of flying “where never lark or eagle flew”.
My mind was filled with the precious memories of driving out to that base every morning through orange groves and flowers, giant glorious trees, lining the roadway. Driving from our housing area at the “lighter than air” base near by, and then commuting from our new housing area at Oceanside, Camp Pendleton, until buying my first home at Anaheim, California. Those were the days before Disneyland. More…
September 23, 2012 by Bill
In my 50 years of writing newspaper columns and essays, no other column has been such a “labor of love” as this one on the War Dogs of combat who brought many members of our fighting military home safely. My journey for this emotional and educational experience started with my personal friendship with world-renown sculptor, A. Thomas Schomberg and his wife Cynthia, who often attend my Sunday Symposium in Palm Springs. Thomas was the artist who did the War Dog Memorial in front of the Museum at March Air Force Base in Riverside, California.
It was built by the support of veterans and the public without one cent of government money, in an effort to honor each and every valiant war dog and their efforts to save lives and prevent countless casualties. In Tom’s own words: “It is to illustrate the sacrifice that these two figures have made under combat circumstances, and to illustrate the bond between humans and their canine friends.”
A veterinarian serving in Vietnam wrote: “Without these dogs there would be a lot more than 50,000 names on the Vietnam wall.” Dogs in warfare have a long history starting in ancient times. War dogs have been trained for combat and to be used as scouts, sentries and trackers. War dogs were used by Egyptians, Greeks, Persians, Sarmatians, Slavs, Britons and Romans. Frederick the Great used dogs during the “seven years war” with Russia, and, of course, in all American wars to the present day of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam. Captured Vietcong told of the fear and respect that they had for the dogs. The Vietcong even placed a bounty on lives of handlers and dogs. It has been estimated by the Pentagon that war dogs saved over 10,000 U.S.lives in Vietnam alone. Memorials to these magnificent dogs can be found from Ft. Benning, Georgia to the Marine Corps primary base in Quantico, Virginia.
As I write this column my memory goes into rewind, remembering the magical psychic relationship I have experienced with the dogs who have shared my 90 years of life with me. You can understand why my eyes were moist as I spent a day recently at this outstanding War Dog Memorial at March Air Force Base, and with the moving and beautiful displays as tributes to these brave and loyal dogs inside the Museum. As a Marine Corps pilot for 12 years, when I came to the tribute of the Marines at Camp Pendleton, my moist eyes added an extra light tear. More…
September 16, 2012 by Bill
I recently spent two wonderful days at Ojai, California soaking up the spiritual center of the Krishnamurti home, library, and grounds, including the “pink moment” of the Ojai valley are sunset. For those of you who are regular readers of my columns or Symposium news letters known as “E Blasts From Bill,” you are well aware of the details of that remarkable visit. And you may remember what I described as a moment of mystery and magic. When I stepped out of my quarters to return home, there waiting for me was a Praying Mantis. I have seen very few in my lifetime. My mind immediately went to all that I knew, and had read about this “manifestation of God come to Earth” in the thought and belief system of the African Bushman: A divine messenger.
When I returned home I went to my book shelves and pulled out A Mantis Carol by Sir Laurens van der Post. On the cover of this beautiful book are these words: “If you read no other book this month, this year, this decade, read this one. -The Christian Science Monitor (a paper many times voted one of the most outstanding newspapers in the U.S.) “Mantis” is the Greek word for “prophet” or “seer,” a being with spiritual or mystical powers. The praying Mantis shows the way.
In the Arabic and Turkish cultures a mantis points pilgrims to Mecca, the holiest site in the Islamic world. In Africa it helps find lost sheep and goats. In France, it’s believed that if you are lost the Mantis points the way home. “Follow Mantis” means putting that core aspect of yourself, your foundation of Spirit, at the helm and let it direct your intellect and ultimately your life.
“Meet the eye of a mantis and feel the presence of God. God looking at me through the eye of the Mantis.” The Mantis points the way and the path to relieving the “great hunger” in our lives. “The name of this great hunger was the hunger for love and for a way of life lived in love out of love for the love of it alone.” “This love, this calling for wholeness in life. The gratitude to life which comes flooding in over one as one experiences again how pervasive and always near is the mystery of love as though it were in the blood and bone of ourselves.” The Mantis became a symbol of meditation and contemplation. More…