Friday, December 12, 2008

E Silentio (From Silence)

Checking the dates of my blogs, it is obvious that something is going on. It is. I am preparing for a court date on January 5 and 6, 2009.

My only hope is that whatever happens will work to the benefit of my children, Rachel and Joey.
So, I solicit prayers, positive energy, positive thoughts, good wishes, etc as I prepare.

I will let you know how it comes out.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


When a person dies, all they knew dies with them. Some of it might be captured in their writings, some of their words might be remembered, some of their deeds might be remembered. Socrates is remembered by Plato's writings. Socrates was said the be the wisest man in Athens.

The Delphic oracle pronounced Socrates to be the wisest man in Athens., Socrates didn't believe it at first but as he made his way around Athens, every Athenian he encountered claimed to know things they did not know. Socrates then knew he was the wisest and said, “ 'Tis because I alone of all the Greeks know that I know nothing.”

Another way to say it is to know what you don't know.

I have made half a century exploration and this is my present way of operating. I listen to all because I know I don't know. I listen to those that know so I can be enlightened.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Day I almost died

It is easy to pinpoint the point in time when I almost died as well become clear after a bit of narrative. I had been flown to Ft Sill, OK from Reno, NV to take part in an exercise wherein we would simulate a real mobilization for war and then travel to Korea (Cold Rea- remember it is south of Siberia) As part of the exercise, we got some shots, and then we went to the lawyers, JAGs(judge advocate general) to update our will (or in my case to make a will), I had just had a bunch of shots. Being the ranger that I am, I didn't want to talk about the discomfort in my arm, but it was becoming more and more compellling. I asked one of the soldiers if they could get my an aspirin. She said that shewould check one of the offices. She came back and said that the office was closed so I should just go back to where I had the shots. They remembered me because I usually am very talkative and friendly and they told me to sit down and they took my blood pressure with a smile. However, after taking my blood pressure, the fellow had a fearful look in his eyes. He told me to lie down, I did feel progressively worse. They checked my pressure again and I saw a more fearful look. they called for the ambulance and I was still laughing and joking until I stepped outside and felt like vomitting. I made it to the hospital and as I walked in I saw a girl with her back to me and I said, Hi Katie (my daughter) wondering how she had gotten the word so fast to meet me at the hospital from Seattle, Wa. She turned around and it wasn't Katie which I couldn't understand. I continued to joke around with the nurses and staff. I was starting to feel pain in every joint- the balls of my feet, my ankles, knees, lower back, neck, head. But I was still making jokes. They took my blood pressure again and suddenly I was surrounded by nurses and I had 4 IVs put in me (I found out later that my Blood Pressure was 80/40) I saw visions of my son Gabe and it seemed that he was standing next to me. The doctor came up to me and I thought it was someone I knew in high school and I said, "Hi brother, good to see you." Still making jokes. The doc looked down at me and said, How do you feel? Ready to make a joke, I suddenly realized that I couldn't answer. My first aid training was kicking in except I was on the receiving end. It suddenly dawned on me that he was trying to keep me aware and I wasn't aware. I did something internally to reroute my circuits so I could respond and I whimpered, "I'm ok" All the jokes were gone now replaced by a serious concern. I was suffering more and more until I got a shot or something in my IV and it took and wonderfully the pain was dissapating. They asked me what was comfortable and it felt good to have a pillow under my knees, They wheeled my into Intensive Care and I had all sorts of monitors on. To comfort me, the TV was tuned to CNN which non-stop was covering the siege of Waco featuring phone calls with David Koresh!! (I think another channel might have been better!!) About a day later, someone from my military came in and said, "you aren't going to Korea." I nodded-being in no condition to argue. But as my strength came back, I said I want to go to Korea and they had me sign a statement words to the effect that I understand I am going to Korea and I am ready. Physically, it probably wasn't the best idea to go. I was constipated and then came down with bronchitis. I remember trying to walk up stairs and it wasn't pretty. Gradually, I regained my strength and I am glad I went because it really was an interesting experience to go to Korea. Itaewan (a section of Seoul) caters to tourists, but I went off the beaten path to some club and there I was doing disco with all these Koreans around me cherring me on. They were real friendly, even offered me cocaine which I politely refused. After narrowly surviving death, here was someone trying to kill me slowly. I did tempt death by eating in the Korea mess hall. Each night one officer would eat with the Koreans and sample their food. It was ok to me (Rangers can eat anything.) The three star Korean General said I looked like one of his in-laws so it was very friendly. I even learned Arirang, which I sang with my new Korean brothers at the end of our tour. Again, there was a chance to die since the Korean officers seemed determined to drink themselves and anyone else to physical collapse. I managed to avoid being made to drink to excess since I usually have no fear to perform and some assume I needed liquid courage. One of our Jewish officers to reciprocate sang, Hava Nigilah and
which I knew how to sing since I had studied Hebrew at the U of Washington. Our last event was to visit Seoul's fortress and and we went on a shopping trip. I wasn't really interested, so I and one of the sergeants waited outside laughing about the "old folks" doing their shopping.

No Man Can Always Stand Alone

From John McCain's Acceptance Speech."A lot of prisoners had it worse than I did. I’d been mistreated before, but not as badly as others. I always liked to strut a little after I’d been roughed up to show the other guys I was tough enough to take it. But after I turned down their offer, they worked me over harder than they ever had before. For a long time. And they broke me. When they brought me back to my cell, I was hurt and ashamed, and I didn’t know how I could face my fellow prisoners. The good man in the cell next door, my friend, Bob Craner, saved me. Through taps on a wall he told me I had fought as hard as I could. No man can always stand alone. And then he told me to get back up and fight again for our country and for the men I had the honor to serve with. Because every day they fought for me. "

In the Company of Heroes

One of the privileges of serving in the military is opportunity to serve with heroes. I think a lot of the soldiers serving right now in Iraq and Afghanistan are heroic, but few are a special breed.One such soldier is Robert L. Howard, Congressional Medal of Honor awardee. COL Howard was one of my Ranger Instructors (RI)s in Ranger School. and was in the mountain phase headquarted in Dahlonaga, Georgia. We trained to perform patrols in the mountainous Tennessee Divide. I still remember when he called my name in the darkness to take the patrol from point A to Home with the admonition, Don't F*** it up. Prior to that he had explained tactics: concepts I still take to heart. I was privileged to meet this great soldier and will always value his leadership example. I don't pretend to be such a hero as Robert L. Howard, but I can strive to be better and when the opportunity presents itself, I have the choice to be courageous. And to those who consider this to be a glorfication of war, read this link about a conscientious objector, Desmond T. Doss Sr. This is a man who refused to learn how to shoot a rifle but nothing could stop his relentless pursuit to aid his comrades. The following link does not state this, but I seem to remember that as they tried to evacuate him with a stretcher, he rolled off and crawled to assist another soldier. Where do we find such heroes as these?

Monday, October 6, 2008

The "siege" of Baghdad

On July 22, 2003, Baghdad got the word that Uday and Qusay Hussein were dead.
All war stories are supposed to start with, This is no ****. I will recount what is was like from my perspective that night. At some un-remembered time in the PM, I was in the "majors" house -each rank had its own house basically in the Green Zone in Baghdad. I heard someone say, "look outside." So I went outside and said, "Holy ****!" The sky was was filled with tracers. (Some bullets are able to shine brightly as they make their path from rifle muzzle to ground.) I didn't know what to make of this so I called one of my men (one of my subordinates who had the rank of corporal) who used to be in Marine Force Recon. My gut said that he might know something. I was right. He was on top of Saddam's old palace with some special ops guys checking out what was celebratory gun fire. You see, Iraqis aren't exactly worried about gun safety. A few months earlier we had encountered a distraught women in a Baghdad neighborhood who claimed that at night, a bunch of Iraqis would get drunk and shoot their weapons in the sky. I had already seen rifles "test fired" at the local market. It did remind me that as I used to drive rural roads in Alabama and other southern states I would usually see several bullet holes where the speed limit sign was used for target practice. So armed with this information, I contacted by cell my friend Joe who lived with me in the Lieutenant Colonel house. We had the most elevated position in our company and anyone going to roof would have good observation since we were right next to the Tigris River. I knew Joe was a little hard of hearing and he lived in the basement. I told him, "Joe, you might want to see what is going on outside." In the meantime, I encountered Henry who was in charge of the Rapid Reaction team we had for enemy threats. I told Henry that the commotion was only celebratory fire. Henry said, I am going to check it out, it could be cover for an attack. I said,"you do what you need to do, I just wanted to give you some information." I asked Henry if he had a vehicle and he said no so I gave him my HUM VEE to use to travel and then I made my way to my house and the roof. I grabbed my helmet and my kevlar vest and my rifle. On the roof was Joe, Jerry, and Lou my ranger buddy (we always say that about anyone who ishares a Ranger qualification. I said, "Joe, do you agree that you might want to see this." He nodded. Now Joe, Jerry, Lou and I all had Infantry training but sharing the roof was one of our JAGs-a soldier lawyer. The rest of the house I guess wasn't interested because they stayed below. Henry came by after a short while. He made sure that he communicated with us so he could check the shore line of the Tigirs without us shooting him. It seemed to me that I heard something it the roof within a few feet of us. It was not far fetched to think it was a bullet because that very evening a soldier who was sleeping on a cot on a roof had a bullet go into his foot. Sadly, I had spoken with some Iraqi friends who had had a relative die when hit by a stray bullet from someone "celbrating." After a while, the amount of shots faded and we kind of congratulated ourselves because we felt we had been on top of the situation.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

From Studying History To Making History

When I was in college at the University of Washington 1973- 76, I changed my major from Classics (Ancient Greek and Latin) to Near Eastern Languages and Literature. It seemed interesting to study these languages and there were many related languages to study. Hebrew was related to Aramaic, Ugaritic, akkadian, phoenician (Sumerian - was an unrelated language but gave a lot of loan words) and Arabic-Arabic was thought to be useful especially after the Oil Embargo after the 73 Yom Kippur War. I studied the history and saw things like the Ishtar Gate in Babylon and the Ziggurat of Ur. When I joined the Army, people asked me what I studied and they said, "You will never use that" So here I was, Apr 2003, going in to Iraq having all this historical knowledge and background.I remember waiting in a convoy for 2 officers who had run-off (there intention was get us to stay in Talil so they were talking to people to arrange a tour of the Ziggurat of Ur) and I was talking to a COL about Xenophon's Anabasis (the march up country). Centuries ago, Xenophon had assumed command of some Greek mercenaries and they were traveling up the river (the land between the 2 rivers Tigris and Euphrates) just as we were. We got to visit the Ziggurat of Ur (we were lucky because it had temporarily been closed when some soldier had defaced some of the area) It certainly was a thrill for me to see the Ziggurat and then to walk in the area of excavation. The Iraqi curator who was the grandson and son of previous curators assured us that they had found Abraham's house. (Abraham was supposed to have left Ur for the promised land). Later I got to take a day trip to Babylon. I saw the Ishtar gate, I saw the ancient cuneiform writing, and we saw reconstructions of what Daniel's lions den would have looked like.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Personality Models for the Army

Every business major knows about behavioral models for organizations, such as theory x, theory y, theory z.
I created 2 theories.

Theory Sense of Humor-This theory states that there are only two basic personality types when you get down to it. Those with a sense of humor and those that don't. I have a sense of humor and I bond with those who do, and have trouble with those that dont'.

Complex Theory of Competence and Leadership Style.--This theory says there are two ways to assess an individuals managerial skill- competent or incompetent. Then there are two types of personality, Nice guy(someone with a sense of humor) and Jerk (someone without a sense of humor and there are also other ways to describe a jerk)

This creates the matrix

Competence (1)No (2)No (3)Yes (4)Yes
Personality No Yes No Yes

4. The ultimate, competence and a pleasure to work with
3 Survivable, since you need competence, essential when people are shooting at you.
2 Deadly, but at least a pleasant way to sink in the quick sand.
1. The worst outcome, try to transfer to another unit.

There it is, my contribution to management theory validated in Baghdad 2003-2004.

Adversity Builds Character, Kirk Fechter's original quote

I was reading an article on the internet about the BYU defeat of UCLA.,0,5082076.story
The message written on the board in the Bruins' locker room afterward read: "Adversity builds character."
Years ago at Ft Rucker, AL when I was what was called a Small Group Instructor (SGI) in 1986-1988 for the Aviation Advance Course, I originated a motto based on ABC- Adversity Builds Character. When I took command of a company in Spring 1988, I also made it the Company motto of E Co, 1-145 Avn. I remember one lieutenant referred to it as CPT Fechter's ABC's of military life.
After reading the article, I did a google search on Adversity Builds Character and got this result.
It is all over the place.
So I am on a quest. Did I first say it? If only there had been an internet to capture my quote and credit to me. If I had known how big it would be, I could have copyrighted it. Oh well.

Friday, September 12, 2008


We get our energy from the sun. The earth, varying from 91-94 million miles away based on the earth's elliptical orbit around it, receives the energy from the energy. The sun is a gigantic nuclear fusion energy generator. Every second, massive amounts of hydrogen atoms by fours are fused into helium atoms in a 32 step process. Part of the reason for this is the tremendous force of gravity from the mass of the large orange ball. The resultant loss of mass (the four hydrogen atoms lose about 12% of their mass fusing into a helium atom) is converted to energy using the famous E=mc squared formula (not exactly the formula but close enough). So every day we have massive amounts of energy. We can't "eat" sunshine but plants can through photosynthesis and animals eat plants and we eat plants and animals. Vitamin D is activated by the ultra-violet rays of the sun. There are also massive amounts of energy within the earth such as volcanoes and geysers. In Iceland, the whole island is powered by geysers. They move the heat via pipes to their homes. Wind is also an incredible source. When the sun evaporates the water to the sky and it falls again as rain, we capture the potential energy in dams, mills, etc. The most efficient energy producer is nuclear power which unfortunately for economic and political reasons is forestalled. We really have more than we will ever need already. Recently, we learned that the Sun set a recent record for lack of sun spots and some scientists are inferring global cooling. So the issue of global warming is a very complex issue, but I am convinced that man is having minimal impact on the heat of the earth compared to the sun, and cosmic events such as meteors, volcanoes, etc.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cherish Life

In December 2002, Our doctor looked at us and told us that our unborn son who was only 4 months old would die within a day. He looked at a Bible on the nightstand, and said that that was the only thing we could do. I and my wife were heart broken. I didn't want to believe it so I sought to talk with the doctor privately and he confirmed the horrible news. There wasn't anything to do but wait and pray. I remember asking my wife to pray with me. I asked her if she believed that our child could live, but she was heartbroken and in dispair. I said it was important that we both believe. So, she said she would try and we both prayed. The next day, the doctor was amazed because our child was still alive. He said it could only be a miracle and he gestured toward the Bible that he had referred to the previous day.
I can't imagine the grief I would have had if my son had died. He is healthy but there is a challenge. Joseph has autism. But it is such a joy to hear him laugh, to have him jump on me, to wrestle with him, to see him run joyfully around the yard, in the park, to wade in the creek, to swim in the pool. Sarah Palin has brought to national attention to some of the hard choices some people make. Some have chosen not to let their children live when they discovered some prenatal flaw. Others cherish life. I recently discovered a web site celebrating Down syndrome children--The Downs Syndrome Celebration

I like my paraphrase in the movie, Radio.

"We think we are teaching him, but everyday he is teaching us. "

I just love my child and my daughter is learning from him also.

The incredible faith I had when I prayed has faded, but the love and thankfulness will remain strong.


"How is it you speak so many languages?"
Basically, learning languages has been a life long journey.
Like the typical American, my first language was English
When I was young, I started looking up words I didn't understand, building a pretty good vocabulary.
In Seventh Grade, I started learning German. Since, I had a German last name, I remember feeling some connection to the language. I continued in 8th and 9th grade.
In 10th Grade, to protect my grade point,(that year I had all A’s except for a B in Honors Geometry) I gave up German and substituted Latin. Latin was great because I started learning great words like ameliorate, pejorative, etc.
Then, one day in 11th grade, someone showed me a New Testament with a beautiful Greek script on one page and the opposite page was in Latin. It is a wonderful black leather book with gold edges on the pages. I still cherish it. I remember the excitement and eagerness I had to learn Greek, the original language of the Bible.
Since my grandmother was Icelandic and I was socializing in the Scandanavian section of Seattle, WA (Ballard), I started to pick up some Norwegian. I had a few friends that I liked to talk with and that time I was singing gospel songs like, Han skal apne perle porten (He, the pearly gates will open) O store Gud (How great thou art)
Previously, I had intended to be a medical doctor, now I wanted to study the classics: Ancient Greek and Latin.
So, I started the University of Oregon studying the Classics (I did some running but that is another story).
Later, I went to the University of Washington continuing my classics studies but adding another language: Hebrew. Again, an excitement and another change. I changed my major to Near Eastern Languages therein studying: Arabic, Aramaic, Ugaritic, Phoenician, Sumerian, Akkadian—I might add that since my professor had studied at Tuebingen in Germany and stated that the most important language for Near Eastern studies was German, I began working hard on my German—cultural events, listening to German shortwave broadcasts, subscribing to newspapers and magazines, visiting German churches, making German friends. I remember going to a German church and meeting some of the Germans at a social gathering at Ilse Kneifel's house. As she stuffed me with food she assured me I could not refuse because, "It is the German way."
French was added in an intensive summer course.
My Hebrew was practiced because my Hebrew teacher was a Rabbi (I recently spoke with him) He had us going to the synagogue (Schul in Yiddish) and he taught us a bunch of Hebrew songs. At one point we were commuting from Edmonds where my grandparents lived and another commuter who was studying Russian had us singing the Volga boat song in Russian!!
I also began to read the Icelandic sagas in Old Norse because my professor had said they had a unique place in literature and also since my grandmother was Icelandic.
I also took note of English dialects. When my wife and I were invited to a couple from Oklahoma for dinner, we were informed the Vernon had spiced up the olives becauase otherwise they were too "DAY ed"
My language studies took a hiatus for some Army training (however I did add to my knowledge of American English and added some profane words and phrases to my passive vocabulary always listening intently to the instructions of the drill sergeants.
Off to New Jersey, I began adding Spanish by listening to Spanish television. I also continued to subscribe to German periodicals and used to read a French paper from Louisiana Akkadia.
In Alabama, I sponsored a Saudi Arabian student(saw him in 2001 in Egypt during a Bright Star Exercise after 911, he is now a general) that was good practice for my Arabic. (one interesting moment in Egypt was when I was talking to an Egyptian officer. He was having trouble with my English and of course, I was having trouble with his Arabic. Somehow, I let him know I spoke German and then we were set since he had gone to a military school in Germany. It was funny, I was asking him in German what he said in Arabic and he was asking me what I said in English)
Spanish continued to be reinforced in Texas(also learned to love Jalapenos and the Cotton-eye Joe)
Later, I was the liason to students from 40 countries in the Army Infantry Advance Course-speaking Arabic, French, German, Spanish, (came in handy with the Columbians-they usually relied on Puerto Ricans to get them through the classes.) I befriended a Greek officer and we went to Greek Churches and other Greek cultural events. At this time, I began my study of Italian. (It helps to marry into an Italian family, my studies have slowed after the divorce but I really love to sing opera in Italian.)
I worked on my French by trips to Quebec in Canada(they have great food) and Martinique in the Carribean(more great food)
I got a job teaching English for a while in St Petersburg, FL and had Ethiopian, Vietnamese, Cuban, and Central American Students(helped with the Spanish)
I applied for a job claiming knowledge of French and was granted an interview. For 6 weeks, I really worked on my French speaking. I had a tutor that had taught French in the South Vietnamese embassy. When I told him I had only had 6 weeks formal training, he said, pas beaucoup. Not enough. But, when they tested me on the job interview, I was facile enough to convince them I spoke French.(wish I could have gotten the job, I would have been off the West Africa every 2 weeks marketing helicopters(I used to fly helicopters in the Army)
A trip to Korea for a month brought me a temporary knowledge of the alphabet(Hangul) and a smattering of phrases I use when I see Koreans(usually at the cleaners, Gamsa Ham ni da-thank you, comes in handy) Interestingly enough, I met someone from Switzerland that spoke no English, but we conversed in French.
I became interested in Sushi and at one time had about 100 Japanese words. Wasabi(horse-raddish sounds a lot like Wuz-up? I enjoy Japanese food.
Recently, I took a 5 week course in Farsi which is the language of Iran and its dialect Dari is the language of the northen half of Afghanistan. There are a lot of Arabic loan words in Farsi(about 50 percent so it was a good review for Arabic.
I took a 6 week refresher in Arabic and then I was soon off to Iraq where I added the Iraqi dialect to my language collection. I try to read the headlines from the Iraqi paper everyday but it is sad because they always report on the bombings. In Arabic, I added some greetings to use with Nepalese and Indians(namaste) some Urdu for the Pakastanis( ka hal e: how are you, khodafiz: God protect you)
When I got back from Iraq in 2004, I ran into some Kurds who lived in VA and worked at the courthouse. It was great to exchange greetings in Kurdish and Arabic (Kurdish is very similar to Farsi.
2008 ---- I enjoyed trying to learn some Sanskrit grammar. I know quite a few vocabulary words just by paying attention to popular culture, Dharma and Greg, Yoga, etc. I enjoy listening the Bhagavad Gita chanted in Sanskrit.
2009 --- I am having fun on Facebook. I have friends that speak Afrikaans, Arabic (Arabic, Iraqi Dialect),Chaldean, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German,(Greek,Ancient), Icelandic,
Italian, Latin, Norwegian, Portuguese, and Spanish. So daily I see phrases in languages I know to reinforce them and also my friends are helping me start learning Afrikaans and Icelandic!!

Studying the languages has really added to my life. It is amazing the rapport you gain by saying a few phrases in someone's native language.

Here are some of my Best Defense Language Proficiency Test Scores

Language Listening Reading
German 2+/ 3
Spanish 2 /3
Italian 1+ /2
French 1+ /2
Farsi 1 /1
Arabic 0+ /1

General Description of the Test

Explanation of Scores

New Test

Languages for which I have college credits:

Greek (Ancient)
Hebrew (Ancient)
Arabic (Classical)


Seven years ago I was on the 10th floor of the Army Materiel Command (AMC) Building just off the beltway in Alexandria. It was just another typical day, when I heard on the radio that an airplane had hit one of the twin towers. I notified the director of safety so he would have situational awareness and I turned on the TV. While I was watching the TV I saw another plane plow into the tower. This called for another notification to the safety director. And then, there was a report that that the Pentagon had been hit. I went into the 10th floor conference room and looked out the window and could see smoke billowing over the hill that stood between our building and the pentagon. Shortly, we all heard the voice of the General John G. Coburn, the commander of AMC. Very calmly and authoritatively, he said that we probably had heard about the recent events and that he was going to release us to go home. This engendered some discussion in the safety office and during this I got a phone call from my wife who wondered why I hadn’t left the building yet - Aren’t you scared?” She was a nurse in Fairfax and they were in lock down, awaiting patients from the Pentagon as rescue workers began the triage to distribute them to various locations. She wanted me to pick up our infant daughter and the school age children. I related to her that we in the safety office were discussing our next move. One critical need was to man the Operations Center that night. It was decided that Loren would take job, so I went home picking up my daughter along the way and later picked up my other children.

Reviewing those events, I can see that a lot of ad hoc-spur of the moment decisions were made. Fortunately, we had a lot of cool heads. But the lesson learned is that it is important to review scenarios, to review options, and be prepared to execute well thought-out plans when necessary.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Note to my friends

Hi, a blog is a good way to let my friends know what is going on.
Right now the main focus in my life is work, my little children, Rachel and Joey, and legal battles concerning their custody-some of which I will share only with those who can maintain confidentiality and who are genuinely interested. Hopefully next week I will do something else.