Sunday, May 27, 2007


You won't find the names of Ray Clifford nor Jimmy Lietz on The Wall. The Vietnam War Memorial preserves the names and helps keep alive the memories of over 58,000 Americans who gave their lives in service to our country.

I never did get to visit The Wall. I did, however, have the opportunity to see a replica of it here in Phoenix some twenty years ago. The magnitude of panel after panel of names --- each representing one of the thousands of mostly young men who never made it home alive --- is overwhelming. Words can not adequately describe what it feels like to see it. To touch it. To trace the name of a family member or friend who sacrificed all.

I immediately searched out and found the name of my childhood friend, Robert Thomas "Bobby" Taylor. (See post below.) After spending time praying and reflecting by Bobby's place on the Wall --- seemingly a million miles and years away from Bobby's Rollaway, where we used to rent skates as teenagers and laugh at one another when one of our group of friends fell --- I returned to the reception desk and searched for names of other GI's who I met in Vietnam or who I had befriended during boot camp. I looked for those who I knew or felt had the greatest chance of having their names inscribed on it. Thank GOD I found no others but, I'm quite sure that if I knew where to look, familiar names would have brought back familiar memories.

Memories and photos are all that remain of Ray Clifford and Jimmy Lietz. They were two of the handful of Vietnam vets who I met while living in Mexico. Ray, a paraplegic, was a Navy corpsman who was shot in the back while attending to wounded Marines on the battlefield. Jimmy served in the Army and became a quadriplegic when the Armored Personnel Carrier he was in got hit.

Ray Clifford was already discharged from the Hines VA Hospital in Chicago and living in Guadalajara while I was still in Vietnam. Jimmy Lietz left Walter Reed Army Hospital and showed up at Villa del Sol (probably the "Villa Dulce" as (mis)portrayed in the movie Born on the 4th of July) at about the same time as I began my two year rehab stint. We became close friends in Guadalajara and afterward, until Jimmy passed away in 1994 and Ray in 2000 --- each from kidney problems brought on by being Spinal Cord Injured.

I mention Ray and Jimmy, not because I believe that their names also belong on the Wall --- in which case it would have to have many more panels to represent and honor those whose lives were shortened by battlefield injuries and illness --- but to pay tribute to just two of many veterans --- paralyzed wheelchair users --- who continued to serve other veterans and the Mexican community which welcomed them during the time that they lived in Mexico.

I could hardly list the number of para and quad friends who I met in Guadalajara, Mexico who are no longer with us. But I will be thinking and praying for them, as I will for Bobby Taylor, my parents and other family members and friends.

May they rest in peace.............

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Saturday, May 26, 2007


In memory of Bobby Taylor and all those brave souls who sacrificed their lives for the freedoms that we, too often, take for granted.

........When back on duty, one of the jobs I acquired was that of Air Force liaison. Daily contact with my Air Force counterpart at Phu Cat Air Base north of Qui Nhon was maintained to alert those further up the logistical line of what supplies were needed and what supplies were being sent from our port city up north. I remembered my first phone conversation with my Air Force contact at Phu Cat. I was still a naive newcomer. After informing him of what cargo was headed his way, I was told that three cadavers would be on the return flight. I remember being taken aback by his routine manner of speech. I wasn't sure if I heard him correctly or understood the magnitude of what I'd just been told. After sheepishly asking him to repeat what he had told me, I froze for a moment. This was anything but routine for me. I was assured that I understood correctly. Thus began one of my daily duties: learning the always-unpleasant news than another mother's son was returning home to a heartbroken family.

* * * * *

.......As I lay in bed one evening staring at nothing, my eyes focused on a welcome sight: my friends and cousins Rich and Joe were joined by Pat Mckenna. It was unusual to receive such a late night visit, especially on a cold mid-week night as the calendar was changing from February to March, but my mood quickly perked up.

"Great to see you guys," I began, as they approached my bed. I sensed that something was amiss by the lifeless expressions on their faces.

Before I had a chance to think, Rich spoke up, "Bobby's been killed"

The news of Bobby's death left me emotionally numb. The reality took days to sink in. I was given permission to attend the wake and funeral by an empathetic medical staff. Stage three of my unusual medical procedure would have to wait, and any possible damage to what had already been reconstructed didn't matter. Everyone understood.

Subconsciously, perhaps, I wasn't ready to accept that my close friend was forever gone. Memories of competing in basketball, baseball, football, and all around horseplay that bonded Bobby and I were running through my head. I remembered leisurely walks down Prospect Street past Memorial Hospital on our way downtown on Saturday afternoons in hopes of meeting girls, hanging out on the West Side with the girls from St. Mary's Parish, and double dating with Denise and her sister Eileen. I had so many fond memories; memories that would last a lifetime for me, bur were stolen from my friend at only twenty years of age..........

..........I remained in my brother-in-law Alan's car for the funeral service. He was able to park close enough for us to be merely a few yards behind the crowd of mourners. Family, friends, and just about everyone from Bishop's Bend came to say goodbye to the first resident of our neighborhood to give his life in service to our country since World War II.

The tragically sad and solemn funeral service was punctuated with the crackle of the twenty-one gun salute that filled the cold morning air. The finality that this military tradition signaled was too much for Denise, as she collapsed and was caught by Bobby's cousin. After composing herself, Denise walked over to Alan's car. We talked for a few minutes before Denise left and a few other friends stopped by to greet me. Ironically, Denise's sister Eileen, who once told me, "If you join the Army, I'll never speak to you again," was not among them.

After returning to my all-too-familiar bed at the VA hospital, a few more days passed. I was watching the Saturday afternoon college basketball game --- a game in which Notre Dame defeated the seemingly invincible UCLA Bruins --- when tears began to flow from my eyes like water pouring uncontrollably from leaky faucets. Reality finally thawed my previously numb emotions. Bobby Taylor was dead.

* * * * *

In memory of Bobby Taylor and all those brave souls who sacrificed their lives for the freedoms that we, too often, take for granted.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


In a December 28th BLOG post, I pondered, "Is Myspace for me?"

Looking back, I can honestly answer, "Yes and No." I played around with it a bit while still managing my posts on here. After a few health issues and a three week hospital "vacation" in San Diego, I returned ready to "hit the ground running"! Although I did have a long interview, which led to a long local newspaper article yet to be published (maybe Memorial Day, I hope? :), I've found myself spending more and more time "networking" (as I tell my friends) on Myspace and paying less attention to my BLOG and other promotional "stuff".

On the bright side, I've "met" some interesting people and my web of contacts (Myspace friends) keeps growing....309 and counting..... I've plastered my book cover image on most all of the 309....and counting.....while picking up more steam and new friends each day. Although "promises" that someone is "ordering the book" outpace actual orders by about 4 to 1 (same odds as the Preakness winner today), I'm actually doing better than on my "killer" website! All the while I'm gathering momentum and making "Quadalajara" a more recognized, if somewhat of a curiosity, Myspace name.

I now have "friends" from Maine to Seattle, and from Minnesota to --- you guessed it --- Mexico! I can't leave out the Canadians, Brit's and Aussie (one that I'm sure of), nor my Polish connection and friend in South Korea --- Hi Lise :)

Networking or addiction? Maybe both? Or maybe I'm here baring my soul to y'all while attempting to justify my behavior because I'm still IN DENIAL???

(If you're a Myspace type and interested, I guess you can "search" my name? I'll be there now thanking the THREE new folks who added me while I was doin' this!)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

MOTHER'S DAY - With - FATHER'S DAY Not Far Behind!

Mother's Day is upon us and, before we know it, Father's Day will come along and we'll frantically try to remember if we got Pop a tie or a wallet last year???

Don't be caught off guard this year. Remember, books make wonderful gifts!

Most of us have family members and/or friends who served our Country and many of us have loved ones serving now. Why not order a book for Pop or Uncle Fred?

If QUADALAJARA is not for you, please feel free to contact me and I'll happily provide you with some worthy suggestions!

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to all the Moms out there. GOD Bless you all!!!