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Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Greetings and Salutations to All my Kith and Kin and All the Ships in Outer Space:

Contrary to my original plan, I never did attend this year's annual Celtic Festival of Southern Maryland.

However, I did drive down to Windsor, Virginia, to visit with my sister and her family.

Yes, I was there when the tornadoes hit.

Suzy and I, along with the two grandsons she was baby sitting, stayed in the basement, watching everything on television as it was happening.

The eldest of the two boys was celebrating his birthday, having just turned four years old.

Their mother, JJ, a park ranger, and their father, Louis, a police officer, were both at work, and Suzy's husband, Mike, had left for his regular guitar lesson.

Mike and Suzy's son, Charlie, also was there, monitoring an emergency two way radio.

Fortunately, the tornadoes did not hit Windsor, although there was plenty of stormy weather all around us.

But, Suzy, and her husband, Mike, used to live in Suffolk, which is where the worst tornado damage occurred.

We were relieved to see Mike and JJ both return home safely.

Later that night, as I drove back to Washington, D.C., I observed the flashing blue lights of a police car, and as I passed the scene, sure enough, there was Louis, writing someone a ticket.

As a former cop, I got a kick out of seeing that!

Suzy gave me a really nice present of a blanket displaying a large official seal of the United States Army.

Also, Mike told me something really special that I never knew.

When my father died in 2001, I was on a ranch in Utah, and I had no money for transportation to attend my father's funeral.

I remember he had said he didn't want the military honors at his gravesite, so there was no honor guard, bugler, or rifle salute.

But, there was a United States flag draped over his casket, and that flag is now displayed on the wall of my room here at the Ol' Soldiers' Home, along with his medals.

His widow, my stepmother, had sent them to me, and now, her own decorations (she was in the Women's Auxillary Army Corps during the Second World War) are also displayed on my wall, right next to my father's.

The burial took place at Riverview Memorial Gardens, just outside of Spring Lake, North Carolina, where Mama is also buried, and where all of us kids grew up.

Mike told me that as they were at the gravesite, a United States Air Force C-130 Hercules passed directly overhead, flying very low, preparing to land at Hill Air Force Base.

When the pilot saw the group of people gathered below him, with the United States flag draped over a casket, he saluted by wagging the aircraft's wings!

That was seven years ago, and until now, nobody had ever told me about that.

I'll never know who that Air Force pilot was, but I sure am grateful, and I hope somebody, somehow, someday, can get word to him of my deep appreciation.

Suzy suggested I probably shouldn't visit them in April anymore.

A year ago when I was at their house in April, we were all shocked by the murders at Virginia Tech, where some of Mike's students matriculated, and where many local kids went to college.

This year, while visiting them in April, their home got threatened by tornadoes.

Actually, with the dramatic increase in gasoline prices, plus the very uncertain economy, I don't know if I'll ever be going anywhere, ever again.

I do need to drive my pickup truck once in a while, for it's not good to let it just sit in the parking lot.

Getting a smaller, more economical vehicle is not an option, because small vehicles are too painful for me to climb in and out of.

But, I can comfortably enter and exit the cab of my full sized pickup truck without hurting my knees and my back.

Not only that, but the cab of my truck is luxurious, with automatic and electronic everything.

With my four wheel drive, I can evade pursuing police by leaving the highway and driving across fields, and through forests, swamps, deserts, and into hidden mountain caves.

(Yeah, riiiight!)

Oh, if only it had a revolving gun turret on the roof - - - !

Hmmm - - - oh, well - - - I can still put my Rebel flag on it.

Thank you.

John Robert "SAIGON" Mallernee, KB3KWS
Official Bard of Clan Henderson
Armed Forces Retirement Home
Washington, D.C. 20011-8400

NOTE: "My unpopular and controversial personal opinions are independent of my Scottish clan."

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