A gray day in Paris looking at the Notre Dame across the Seine…
A gray day in Paris looking at the Notre Dame across the Seine…
New Orleans…Cajun food, hurricanes on Bourbon Street, Mardi Gras, the mouth of the Mississippi, beignets, riverboats…all strong images of the Big Easy. Here are a few more we shot in the 70s.
Streetcar Named Desire
In honor of the eclipse, today’s travel photos are a series of sunsets we’ve taken mostly in the USA…
Today’s travel photos are from Copenhagen from our visit there in 2007…
Many folks have been lucky enough to visit our 50th state, but we were even luckier to live there for two years on the island of Oahu. Here are a few favorite shots we took and wanted to share of this island(s) paradise. We have so many great shots, I may do more later. (Featured Image is just outside Lahaina on Maui).Tahitian Dancers in the Polynesian Cultural Center show…
Diamond Head on Oahu…
Iolani Palace on Oahu…
Wild peacock and a banana tree in our backyard, Kailua, HI.
Aloha Tower, Honolulu, HI…
State Capitol Building, Honolulu. Byodo-In Temple, Waimea, Oahu…
King Kamehameha Highway headed toward the North Shore, Oahu…
My daughter at Waimea Falls, Oahu…
Early sailing ship, Oahu…
Large banyan tree behind Iolani Palace, Oahu.
Haleiwa Joe’s Haiku Gardens in Kaneohe, Oahu…
The platoon gathered outside a ten-by-twelve wooden shack, far removed from any inhabited part of the base. The drill instructor held up a rubber gas mask with bug-eyed goggles, a pig’s snout containing two dense filters, and double straps that fit over your head. He explained how the mask protected us from enemy chemical warfare and that it did the Army no favors if we died or passed out and couldn’t fire at the bad guys. It made sense to me.
The training officer told us to put on our masks, and so adorned, we turned an alien army of insect men, waiting uneasily for our turn to test out the weird-looking apparatus. There was one rubber-sealed door to enter the windowless building, and another to exit. The first group of five soldiers entered, and about thirty seconds later came running out, one after the other, mask in hand, with crocodile tears streaming down their faces.
I swallowed hard after they called out Sam, Tex, Steve, Harry and I to go next. We pulled our mask straps tight to assure a firm seal, and then cautiously opened the door.
A single bare bulb in the ceiling and an illuminated exit sign hanging over the back door provided most of the light. The dirt floor hut stood empty except for a small wooden table in the corner that held a raised metal canister full of gas pellets with a burning six-inch candle underneath. Some smoke rose from the candle, but, for the most part, the air looked clear.
Sarge stood in the middle of the room, also wearing a mask. “I want each of you to take a deep breath.” We reluctantly did… and nothing happened. The darn things still worked, even though they were WW II surplus.
Sarge ordered Sam. “Take off your mask.” Sam glanced at us for support, closed his eyes, held his breath, and then removed his mask with his right hand. Sarge said, “Open your eyes and look at me.” Sam squinted, but his eyes still swelled up and the tears began to flow. “What’s your full name, Private?”
“Samuel L. Johnston, drill sergeant”
“Now say your serial number, slowly, so I can understand it.”
“267-00-9999, drill sergeant.” The tears ran like a river now.
Sarge waited another few seconds. “Okay, private, you’re dismissed.”
Sam ran like hell for the back door, bawling like a baby. Sarge followed the same process for Steve and Tex but held Harry and me until last.
Catching us by surprise, Sarge reached out and ripped off our masks before we closed our eyes or held our breath. Harry cried out, a huge mistake because he got a giant gulp of the gas when he inhaled. He started running around like a headless chicken, first bumping into the table, knocking over the candle and tear gas canister, and then ran full speed into Sarge, almost knocking him down.
Sarge grabbed Horowitz by the shoulders. “Stand still, you little shit. What’s your name?”
“You know my name,” bawled Harry.
“Say it, along with your serial number.”
“Harry Oliver Horowitz, 222-47-0000.”
“Next time you have a grenade in your hand, what are you going to do with it?”
“Stuff it down your shorts.”
“Get the hell out my sight, wimpy boy.” He pushed Horowitz out the exit door.
Exposed to the gas for too long, my eyes had almost swelled shut. A burning pain extended from the front of my eyes to the back of my brain. I couldn’t wait, so I yelled, “Eli J. Jones, 256-24-2488,” as I ran toward the door. But Sarge stepped in my way and blocked the exit.
“I’m not done with you yet. I’m sick and tired of your smart-ass remarks and your little fucking tricks. You think I don’t know who’s behind all these stunts?”
“Shoot me or move,” I said, choking.
Sarge took a swing at me. I ducked to the side and then ripped off his gas mask. When he put his hands to his face, I punched him in the stomach and threw my shoulder into his side knocking him off balance. I neatly stepped around him and out the door, not caring if he brought charges against me or not.
Sarge followed me out of the building, also coughing and crying from the gas. Before Sarge could say anything, the instructor came over, took one glance at my face and said, “You’ve been overexposed to tear gas. I’m sending you to the base hospital for treatment.” He then turned back to Wolinski. “Sergeant, I want a full report about this incident on my desk by tomorrow morning.”
“Yes sir,” said Sarge, still glaring at me hiding behind the instructor.
I smiled through the pain. Sarge had just provided me a way to see Nurse Sarah again-maybe not too well at first, but I didn’t care.
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Our instructor today reminded me of Don Knotts, the nervous deputy on the Andy Griffin Show. “This is a grenade,” said Sgt. Don in a shaky voice. “With an effective killing radius of five-to-ten feet. To activate, you hold this handle down against the base of the grenade with your right hand and pull the ring attached to this pin with your left hand. Once the pin is pulled, the grenade is live, but will not explode until you release the handle, which will pop off and trigger the device. There are an additional twenty seconds before the grenade explodes.”
“You will be going into the grenade pits in groups of three–two trainees and one instructor. You are to lob the grenade over the wall in front of you as far as you can–then duck and cover your head. To throw the grenade, cock your arm like this, next to your ear, and then throw as you would a football. Steel helmets are to remain on at all times. Any questions?”
Horowitz raised his hand. “What happens if you’re left handed?”
Sgt. Don said, “Good question. Hold the grenade with your normal throwing hand in the center of your chest, like this, and then with the opposite hand, reach over and pull the pin.”
Horowitz raised his hand again. “Is the grenade heavy?”
“The grenade only weighs about nine ounces. Any other questions? No? Let’s begin.”
Sgt. Don then divided us into two-man teams. Just my luck, I got partnered with Harry. We entered the first throwing pit, consisting of a timber-lined, U-shaped bunker built into a hill of dirt. Harry stood on the left, and I stood on the right, facing the target. Sarge stood behind us supervising. I gave a short prayer that the instructions had sunk into Harry’s brain.
“Jones, you’re first.” Sarge handed me a grenade. I held the weapon close to my chest, pulled the pin, looked through the small observation window at the target and with my left hand gave the grenade a heave over the five-foot wall. The three of us crouched down, covered our heads, and a few seconds later there was a loud explosion.
“Horowitz, your turn.” We watched in horror as Harry pulled the pin and threw it over the wall, leaving the grenade still in his right hand.
“Private, listen to me,” said Sarge. “Whatever you do don’t release the handle. Do you understand?”
Horowitz whined. “I knew I’d fail. I can’t throw with my right hand.”
“Transfer the grenade to your left hand, but don’t let up the pressure on the handle or the grenade will arm itself.”
Harry carefully transferred the grenade to his left hand, but his sweaty hands slipped off the handle. The three of us followed the handle as it fell in slow motion to the ground.
“THROW THE GRENADE NOW,” yelled Sarge.
Harry panicked, jerked around, and tossed the grenade toward the target. His wobbly pitch almost cleared the top of the wall, but instead bounced backward and landed smack in the middle of the training grenades box sitting at Sarge’s feet.
“RUN,” yelled Sarge, pushing Harry and me out the back of the bunker.
You didn’t need to tell me twice. Pretty sure I broke the world dash record that day while dragging Harry. Sarge kept pace step-for-step. Instructor Don ran next to Sarge, waving his hands in the air, and screaming like a girl, “I don’t want to die.”
Sarge yelled to the men in the other grenade pits to lie on the ground against the wooden walls for protection. The rest of the platoon scattered, trying to run as far away as possible before Harry’s grenade exploded.
We flung ourselves to the ground and covered our heads when we heard the first blast. Immediately after, a second, louder detonation turned pit number one, where we had stood moments before, into a mini-mushroom cloud of dirt, which rained down on us for several seconds. Thank God these practice grenades didn’t contain shrapnel like the real ones, just small explosive charges.
“Jesus Christ, Horowitz,” Sarge erupted. “I’ve been through two wars and never met a soldier as incompetent as you. For the safety of the platoon, you should be shot.” I felt sorry for Harry, but silently agreed, and began checking to see if any vital body parts were missing while trying to make my ears to stop ringing.
Horowitz sat up, his glasses dangling from one ear, wearing the dazed look of a deer caught in the headlights. “What happened?”
“I’ll tell you what happen numb nuts,” said Sarge, in his charming style. “You almost maimed more people in twenty seconds than the Viet Cong does in a week.”
“Sorry, Sarge. I threw the grenade as hard as I could. I told you I’m left handed.”
Wolinski growled, “Get the hell out of my sight before I shoot you.”
Harry walked away with his head hung down to his chest.
Thank God, no one got hurt; even the guys in pit two had their hearing return after an hour. We never did see Instructor Don again. For all I know, he is still running with his hands over his ears. Thus ended the lesson.
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