Tag Archives: iranian hostage crisis

Remembering the Miracle on Ice

We all remember where we were when tragedy happened.  No one can forget where they were when John or Bobby Kennedy or the Reverend Martin Luther King Junior was assassinated. Likewise few can forget where they were when the Space Shuttles Challenger or Columbia, blew up or where they were during the the events of September 11th 2001.

Tragedy we remember well, but good news not so much.

But, despite the fact that good news is not always as memorable as tragedy there are some good news stories that make a lasting mark.

Back in 1980 there was one of those sentinel events. I am sure that if you were alive back then that you remember it well.

I am speaking about the victory of the US hockey team, Team USA over the Soviet team at the 1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid New York. Some might be prone to dismiss this as merely a sporting event with little relevance, but the context of an event makes all the difference. English historian and military theorist Colin Gray wrote “Wars are not free floating events, sufficient unto themselves as objects for study and understanding. Instead, they are entirely the product of their contexts.” 

I like what Gray said, but I think that we can expand it to other historical events, not just war. If this was just a stand alone hockey game with would have little meaning. There are times when underdogs win championships and defeat heavily favored perennial champions. Most of those times, except for the devoted fans these events pass into relative obscurity and pop-up from time to time on an ESPN special. This event is much more important than a remarkable sporting event.

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Back in 1980 times were tough in the United States, recession, double digit inflation, 20% interest rates, a gas crisis, as well as the residual effects of the Vietnam War created a specter of anxiety for many people.

Even as the domestic economic lurched from crisis to crisis the United State was reeling  and the humiliation that the Iranians were inflicting on the United States on a daily basis following the seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran and a seemingly unending hostage crisis. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was yet another thumb in the eye of the United States.

So as the United States prepared to host the Winter Games at Lake Placid New York there was not much to cheer about. The country was mired in political crisis as the sitting President Jimmy Carter was continually at odds with his own Democratic Party and to all appeared weak in dealing with the Soviets, their satellites or the Iranians. When Cater made his “malaise” speech in July 1979 the reaction around the country and world was I was less than positive. I was in the UK touring as a spotlight tech with a  singing group and the reaction of the Brits and other Europeans was ridicule of the President, and pity for the United States. It seemed to many that the United States had hit bottom and was not coming up any time soon.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fztlLwgSFCg (highlights and live call)

In 1980 Team USA was nothing more than a bunch of American college kids playing teams of Warsaw pact professional all-stars from powerhouse teams such as the Soviet Red Army team.  The Soviets had dominated international hockey since 1956 and with the exception of the US Gold Medal team of 1960 had won every Olympic gold since that time. In 1980 the Soviets were once again expected to win Olympic Gold.

When it came to the American hockey team no one expected much, with the exception of head coach Herb Brooks.  Brooks and his collection of college players, a number of whom would later become stars in the NHL, began their time together inauspiciously conducting a 61 game exhibition tour against teams from around the world.  On February 9th in the final game leading up to the Olympics  the Americans faced the Soviets at Madison Square Garden and were blown out by a score of 10-3 by the Soviet team.  In the lead up to the Olympics the Soviets toured North America and played against NHL teams. The Soviet team went  5-3-1 against their NHL teams.  The previous year a Soviet team had shut out an NHL All-Star team 6-0.

When the Olympic completion began the Soviets as was expected dominated their opponents in the preliminary round going 5-0 and outscoring their opponents 51-10.  The United States surprised everyone tying Sweden 2-2 with a last minute goal and then stunning a highly favored Czech team 7-3 before defeating Norway, Romania and West Germany to advance to the medal round.

Brooks practiced the team hard as they prepared for the Soviets who they were scheduled to meet in the opening round of the medal competition. A loss for the Americans would force them to play for Bronze and no one expected the Americans to defeat the Soviets. Yet when the day came the Lake Placid Field House was packed with 8500 fans decked out in Red White and Blue, American flags displayed everywhere and the crowd spontaneously singing “God Bless America.”  Unfortunately because the Soviets refused to allow a later start time the game was not televised live nor broadcast live on the radio in the States.

On February 22nd I had finished work making and rolling pizza dough at Shakey’s Pizza in Stockton, went home showered and then got in my car to head over to Judy’s house.  On my way over I was listening to the radio when ABC radio broke in to air the last minute of the game live. I was listening as Al Michaels made the famous call “Eleven seconds, you’ve got ten seconds, the countdown going on right now! Morrow up to Silk. Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles? YES!”

I could not believe it and was screaming with joy and wild abandon in the car. As soon as I got to Judy’s I went in and told her and her parents When the game came on I watched it with undivided attention and to this day I cannot forget that night.  The Americans had beaten the vaunted Soviet team 4-3 and would go on to defeat Finland in the Gold medal game 4-2.  The next day they were guests at the White House and after that the team broke up.  13 players would go on to NHL careers, Brooks would lead the 2002 Team USA to a Silver in 2002 before being killed in a car crash in 2003.

The Soviet people and their news media were stunned by the loss and the fact that the Soviet Team won Silver by defeating Sweden 9-2 the team had lost its luster.  While it remained dominant until the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1990 it was the end of an era.  Today many Russian players star in the NHL and live in the United States even after their careers.

That team and its members did something that no one expected in defeating the Soviets and going on to win the Gold medal against the Finns. No one could have expected the effect on the country either. It was a miracle, a miracle on ice.

Thirty-five years later the triumph of Team USA against all odds on that night is remembered as an event nearly unequaled in sports history as well as contemporary American history.  That game actually marked a return of pride to the country after a decade of discontent, defeat and discouragement.

Some people, especially those on the political right in their Reagan myth, mistakenly give Ronald Reagan the credit for turning around the attitude of the country in the 1980s. I don’t think that they could be more wrong. It wasn’t Reagan or any other politician, it was the 1980 American Olympic hockey team that made us believe again.

That is why this event meant so much more than a a game.

I don’t know about you, but I still believe in miracles.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Filed under History, Political Commentary, sports and life

Spendin’ the Nighttime Reminiscing: Padre Steve Remembers the Music of the 1970s and Early 1980s

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I don’t know about you but the music that I really enjoy is the music that was popular when I was in Junior High, High School and College.  For me that period spanned the years 1971-1983.

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It was a turbulent era. The Vietnam War was ending and Nixon was resigning due to the Watergate break in cover-up despite going to China and establishing the beginning of detente with the Soviet Union.  Assassination attempts on political leaders, successful and unsuccessful, were common. Two attempts were made on Gerald Ford.  Prime Minister Aldo Moro of Italy and President Anwar Sadat of Egypt victim fell to terrorists while President  Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II were felled by bullets which did not prove fatal.

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The Cold War was tense despite the beginning of detente and signing of Nuclear Weapons treaties between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Middle East was in turmoil even as Egypt and Israel hammered out a peace treaty withe the help of US President Jimmy Carter. In Iran a revolution swept the Shah of Iran out of power bringing the Ayatollah Khomeini into power.  The seizure of the US Embassy and the 444 day hostage crisis punctuated by a failed rescue attempt demoralized the United States. In October 1983 247 Marines were killed in a terror bombing of their barracks at the Beirut International Airport.

Mortar_attack_on_Shigal_Tarna_garrison,_Kunar_Province,_87

The Soviets invaded Afghanistan which would become their Vietnam, as part of the Cold War this lead to US involvement with Mujahideen. The US support with the Mujahideen was a fateful alliance that brought the Taliban to prominence and introduced the world to Osama Bin Laden. The Cubans were fighting in Angola while the Anti-Apartheid movement struggled with its leader Nelson Mandela languishing in a South African prison.

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High profile terrorist attacks became common. The Palestinian terrorist group Black September killed Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. European terrorist organizations including the Red Brigades, the Red Army Faction and Bader Meinhof gang, the Irish Republican Army and the American Weather Underground provided a constant string of terrorist attacks even as Middle Eastern terrorist groups highjacked airliners in daring fashion, matched at times by equally rescues by Israeli and German anti-terrorist units.

The American and the world economies were in a state of recession much of the era. There was a major recession, the American auto industry needed bailouts, inflation was running in double digits as was the unemployment rate. The dollar was weak and OPEC wreaked havoc on world oil markets with embargoes in 1973 and 1979.

Casey Kasem AT40 Ad

However it was music in the 1970s and early 1980s that provided a diversion for many people looking for respite from all the bad news that echoed around the airwaves and in the newspapers.  Thankfully there wasn’t a 24 hour cable news cycle yet otherwise people would have probably been jumping off of buildings.  It was the heyday of AM Top 40 type stations and the beginning of rock oriented FM music stations. Kasey Kasem gave voice to the hits with American Top 40. As for me I had countless 45s and LPs of my favorite groups and artists.

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I listened  Doctor Donald D Rose of KFRC in San Francisco and my car, a 1966 Buick LeSabre 400 had a retro-fitted 8-Track tape player and speakers.

Great groups and artists ruled the pop and rock airwaves and the era produced some of the best rock, pop, R&B, soul, country-rock, disco and new-wave music ever done. It really was an amazing era both in quality and diversity of music .

It was not “message music” like much 60’s music but focused on entertainment.  Power groups like Journey, Starship, REO Speedwagon and Boston made power ballads, while AC/DC and KISS shocked and entertained at the same time.  Groups like the Blondie, the Eagles, Chicago, Paul McCartney and Wings, Abba and the Commodores dominated the pop charts while individual artists such as Olivia Newton-John, Elton John, Carly Simon, John Denver, Lionel Ritchie, Barry Manilow and others satisfied the more mainstream pop crown.  Disco enjoyed a brief heyday with the popularity of Saturday Night Fever and the Bee Gees.  R&B enjoyed a renaissance due to the unlikely duo of the Blues Brothers who helped re-launch the careers of Aretha Franklin, Johnny Lee Hooker, Cab Calloway and a host of others. Country crossovers became big with Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton and Glenn Campbell leading the way.  As the 80’s came along new groups and styles were introduced including New Wave and Rap. It was music that helped us through those times.

I listen to that music all the time and remember those turbulent days well. It certainly wasn’t the fact that things were great in the world. That being said despite bad news there was still some sense of that things would work out okay.  Music helped provide part of that sense of hope. It was an escape and the music of that time is still with us. Many of those those groups haven’t gone away and people look back with fondness to the music of the era even as the artists age and pass away.

Here are some of my favorites with links to the videos, they are in no particular order nor are the representative of all the groups that I have in my library of CDs and DVDs, but I enjoy the heck out of them.  Have fun and enjoy.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

Little River Band “Reminiscing” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZ_3G4xqSDQ

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Olivia Newton-John “Magic”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7WPwH8Rd6g

and “I Honestly Love You”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zGLSnZGZts 

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The Commodores “Sail On” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zg-ivWxy5KE

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The Eagles “Hotel California” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnkJcjBCG88

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AC/DC “You Shook Me All Night Long”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lo2qQmj0_h4

KISS “I Was Made for Loving You” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7fxN3g5sLw

Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton: Islands in the Stream http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=recWNQddJeE&feature=related

Rupert Holmes: Escape (The Pina Colada Song) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaOXWJKsX-U

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Donna Summer: Last Dance http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cPIT_T3mYU

Roberta Flack: The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9jmusgMgro&feature=related

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Bee Gees “How Deep is You Love

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpqqjU7u5Yc

Dr Hook “Cover of the Rolling Stone” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJu6Up9w2Hc

John Denver: Take Me Home Country Roads http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukUL_I14GPw

Three Dog Night, Joy to the World http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2x3af_three-dog-night-joy-to-the-world_people

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The Carpenters “Rainy Days and Mondays” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPmbT5XC-q0

Paul McCartney and Wings  “Band on the Run http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Qx2jEfBsqY

The Trammps “Disco Inferno” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_sY2rjxq6M

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Rod Stewart “Tonight’s the Night”

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1p96h_rod-stewarttonights-the-nightgonna_music

abba

Abba “The Winner Takes it All” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92cwKCU8Z5c

and “Waterloo” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sj_9CiNkkn4

Elvis Presley: Suspicious Minds

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBmAPYkPeYU

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Elton John “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kMVdazvII4 

Journey “Don’t Stop Believing” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcjzHMhBtf0

Albert Hammond: It Never Rains in Southern California http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pyC7WnvLT4

queen

Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJ9rUzIMcZQ

blondie

Blondie “Heart of Glass” 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGU_4-5RaxU

Neil Diamond: Sweet Caroline

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vhFnTjia_I

Boz Skaggs “Lido Shuffle” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIu0jQ5TaRQ&feature=PlayList&p=8201408B8B6E42C8&index=2

Katrina and the Waves “Walking on Sunshine” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPUmE-tne5U

Billy Joel “Piano Man” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxEPV4kolz0

barry-manilow

Barry Manilow “Mandy” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AM7SQzq3yHQ

Heart: Crazy on You

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gpNqB4dnT4&feature=related

villagepeople

Village People: YMCA

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CS9OO0S5w2k

Fleetwood Mac “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8arvEzHsA8

laurabranigan1990

Laura Branigan “Gloria”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tVutw8rjFk

Carly Simon “You’re So Vain”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQZmCJUSC6g

Chicago “Saturday in the Park”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWxA3e9f6rY

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Linda Ronstadt “When Will I Be Loved”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmE7tTzJkbU

Foghat “Third Time Lucky”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fj1O2KtH4kE

The Captain and Tennille “Do that to Me One More Time”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNHcgk5bf7o&feature=related

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Finally, the Blues Brothers “Everybody Needs Somebody”

http://www.mojvideo.com/video-the-blues-brothers-everybody-needs-somebody-to-love/ac0b631b54ff095fd5c0

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Filed under History, music

November 4th 1979: The Beginning of the Iranian Hostage Crisis and a New World

Tonight Judy and I went and saw the movie Argo. I saw it the day it opened here but Judy had not seen it. When the movie began with the storming of the U.S. Embassy in Teheran on November 4th 1979 I looked at Judy and said, “it is the anniversary.” It is hard to believe that 33 years ago was when that event happened. At the time Judy and I were still in the early stages of our courtship and it was then that I decided that I would enter the military.

I enlisted in the Army National Guard and entered Army ROTC after the hostages were released. I had been accepted into the Air Force ROTC program in early 1980 but waited a year and did the Army because I needed the money provided by a summer job that could not be made up in a 4 week Air Force Summer camp before the school year began in 1980. Such is life when you didn’t get any academic scholarships and chose to attend college in a high cost of living area.

The hostage crisis was an event that changed my life and watching the film Argo was a very emotional experience the first time that I saw it and brought tears to my eyes again tonight. It was so well done and having travelled in much of the Middle East and been surrounded by crushing crowds in Bazaars, thankfully without being accosted for taking pictures and going through various Middle Eastern nation airport security checkpoints, as well as numerous other countries in Europe and Asia I could feel a bit of the anxiety rise in me as the film showed the American fugitives from the embassy as they went through the motions of being Canadians. There have been a number of times when traveling alone on official Navy business to countries after 9-11 that I relied on my skills in German to pass a German when accosted in public for being an American in a foreign country rife with anti-American sentiments.  Thank God for bad grammar and a Bavarian accent.

So now 33 years later I am still in the military and the United States and Iran are still mortal enemies and if some politicians, pundits and preachers have their way will be at war with each other, for some the sooner the better.  I personally don’t understand the mentality of people that have never, or will ever serve in the military who preach a Gospel of war, of pre-emptive war under the guise of “protecting America.” Having seen the effects of the war-mongers that preach “pre-emptive” war in Iraq, both on the people of that unfortunate country and our own troops I cannot fathom yet another pre-emptive war. But there are plenty of politicians, pundits and preachers, the Unholy Trinity of war and pestilence who seek such a war with Iran. Of course should Iran ever attack us that is another matter, but to launch another war after we destroyed the military potential and power of Iran’s natural and traditional enemy Iraq which kept the Iranians at bay is altogether one of the most stupid ideas ever dreamed about, especially when the American military is stretched thin with close to 70,000 troops exposed to disaster in Afghanistan if supply lines are cut and Iran becomes more actively involved.

In January 1980 Jimmy Carter gave final approval to CIA operative Bob Mendez’s operation to bring those 6 Americans out of Iran. Since the publicity could have caused harm or death to the other American hostages held by the Iranians Carter gave the credit to the Canadians. He ordered a military operation to free those hostages which ended in disaster and would go on to lose his re-election to Ronald Reagan in 1980. Back then I did not appreciate anything that Jimmy Carter did but I have to respect the fact that he was willing not to claim credit for something that could have helped his re-election campaign in order to protect the lives of Americans.

Afghanistan is something else that hasn’t changed that much. In December 1979 the Soviets invaded that country and the United States would supply and support the Afghan Mujahideen. Some of these became the nucleus of the Taliban who along with their Arab “foreign fighter” allies under Osama Bin Laden became Al Qaeda. The Reagan administration began a program in 1985 to trade arms to Iran for American hostages with monetary proceeds being used to fund Nicaraguan rebels which resulted in the Iran-Contra affair. Both of funding of the Mujahideen and the Iran-Contra affair have come to cause the United States much grief in both the Middle East and Central and South America.

Both were short term expedient operations conducted without long term though to the results of both for American prestige as well as foreign policy, politics, economics and military operations since.

Hindsight is not a bad thing, but foresight is much better. Perhaps we can learn not to repeat the follies of those that helped create the world that we now live.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under film, History, movies, News and current events

29 Years in the Military and still Going Strong

“It’s a mere moment in a man’s life between the All-Star Game and an old timer’s game.” Vin Scully

Padre Steve in 1982

They say that “time flies when you’re having fun” and I cannot believe that I have been in the military now for 29 years. On August 25th 1981 a 21 year old college kid with long Southern California “surfer” hair walked into the California Army National Guard Armory on Van Nuys Boulevard to enlist in the National Guard after having just sworn into the Army ROTC program at UCLA.   Back then I enlisted in what was or is called the Simultaneous Membership Program or SMP program.  My initial military training came through the ROTC program as well as on the job training in the National Guard as a Field Artillery Forward Observer and Intelligence Specialist.

Like Cal Ripken Jr commenting about his career “So many good things have happened to me in the game of baseball. When I do allow myself a chance to think about it, it’s almost like a storybook career. You feel so blessed to have been able to compete this long.” I can say the same thing just substituting the words “military career” for “the game of baseball.”

On the day that I enlisted I met with Major Charles Armagost the S-1 of 3rd Battalion 144th Field Artillery and full time advisor for the battalion filled out my enlistment papers and raised my right hand. I still remember the day when I enlisted. It was a hot smoggy Los Angeles day where you could see the air.  I walked down the hall after I swore in to see the supply Sergeant who outfitted me with four sets of Olive Green fatigues and ordered me two sets of the brand new BDUs.  I was issued my TA-50 gear and taken to the motor pool where I was given cursory training on the M151A1 “Jeep” and issued a military drivers license.  The three weeks later I was driving one of those venerable machines to Fort Irwin on a Friday through Sunday drill with the advanced party. It was the beginning of a 29 year career spanning two services, the active and reserve components and now multiple trips to combat zones.

Army Captain 1987

It has to quote Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead “a long strange trip” spanning the Army and the Navy, active and reserve components as well as two tours with the Marine Corps while serving in the Navy and the beat goes on with my selection for promotion to Commander and my Senate nomination to that grade on August 21st.  I have served on the Fulda Gap in the Cold War, been to what was then East Berlin driving the Helmstedt-Berlin corridor sharing the road with Soviet armored columns.  I supported the Bosnia Operation in 1996-97 and the Korean DMZ with the Marines in 2001. I served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Southern Watch in 2002 where I was on a boarding team, boarding 75 Iraqi and other country smuggling ships while serving aboard the USS Hue City.  That was followed by multiple trips in and out of theater with the Marine Security Forces from 2003-2006 as well as time on the Cuban fence line at Guantanamo Bay before serving in Iraq with our Marine and Army advisors and their Iraqi Army and Security forces.  I’ve served with Infantry, Armor, Combat Engineer, Artillery, Medical and Ordnance units, Security forces, support elements, bases and training centers, hospitals and ships.

Berlin Wall November 1986

When I enlisted I thought that once I was commissioned that I would serve my entire career in the Army and retire as a Lieutenant Colonel. I did not anticipate becoming a Chaplain nor leaving the Army for the Navy. When I am officially promoted to Commander it will be the first rank since I was an Army First Lieutenant that I have not held twice.  When I first enlisted and had no ribbons I used to look at wonderment at the Korea and Vietnam veterans who had tons of ribbons and tell Judy that I wish I had what they had. Now that I am working on 9 rows of the things I cringe every time I have to remount ribbons and ribbons and my wallet screams in agony.  Judy is quick to remind me of my whininess back then and tell me that I asked for it.

She didn’t know what she was getting into

As an Army and Navy Officer I have served or done some kind of military duty in Germany, France, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Croatia and Turkey, Spain, Malta, Korea, Japan, Jordan, Bahrain, Kuwait and Iraq.  I’ve done what I call the “Commie Trifecta” the Berlin Wall, Korean DMZ and the Cuban Fence Line. At the same time I have spent 16 of 27 wedding anniversaries away from home and lost count of birthdays and other important occasions that I missed while serving the country.

Guantanamo Bay Cuba 2004

I have served 5 different Presidents. In that time I have seen changes in the political, social and economic conditions of the country and the world that I could not have imagined at the time of my enlistment.  The Soviet Union had just invaded Afghanistan and the Iranian hostage crisis had just ended but within the Soviet Union had been defeated the Berlin Wall taken down and collapse of the Soviet Union.  Twenty years after I enlisted the people that defeated the Soviets were attacking us on our own soil.

Boarding Party Arabian Gulf May 2002

I lived in Europe and went through the Chernobyl radiation cloud which is obviously the cause of my glowing personality.  While in Europe I ate enough beef to be labeled by the Red Cross as a potential carrier of Mad Cow disease. I worked on military personnel policies at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic and saw the beginning of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.  I saw the Reagan build up and the post Cold War drawdown.  When I was a Company XO and Company Commander we had landlines and typewriters with carbon paper and did not get internet in my office until 1997.  It is hard to believe the changes even in the quantum leaps in computer and communication technology in the past few years where I can check e-mail on my Blackberry and work from almost anywhere with my laptop.

With Advisors and Bedouin on Iraqi-Syrian Border December 2007

Looking back here are some of the things that I have seen since I entered the military:

October 23rd 1983: Beirut Bombing: BLT 1/8 barracks and French 1st Parachute Regiment destroyed by suicide bombers 241 Americans and 58 French Paras killed.  I was at the Junior Officer Maintenance Course at Fort Knox watching CNN late at night when they broke the news.

December 12th 1985:  Arrow Air Charter Boeing 707 crashed in Gander Newfoundland killing 248 American Soldiers returning from Peacekeeping duty in Sinai Peninsula. Among the dead was Sergeant Charles Broncato who had been one of my Squad Leaders in 2nd Platoon 557th Medical Company Ambulance. I was then serving as the Company Commander.

January 28th 1986: The Space Shuttle Challenger blows up 73 seconds into flight killing 7 Astronauts.  I was in my office at the close of the day getting ready to adjudicate an Article 15 when my Charge-of Quarters SPC Lisa Dailey ran into my office and said “Lieutenant Dundas, the Space Shuttle just blew up!” My response was “Come on, Space Shuttles don’t blow up.”

February 15th 1988: The Soviet Union withdraws from Afghanistan. I was a National Guard Officer in Texas attending Seminary and thought this was a good thing.  Now I wish that they had done better and at least killed Osama Bin Laden, then a relatively minor commander.

December 21st 1988: Pan Am 103 downed by Libyan operatives over Lockerbie Scotland killing all 270 passengers and crew. The aircraft a Boeing 747 named the Maid of the Seas was the same aircraft that we had flown home from Germany on December 28th 1986.

October 17th 1989: the Loma Prieta Earthquake causes massive damage in San Francisco and Oakland. I was watching pregame activities of game 3 of the World Series between the A’s and Giants on television when it happened.

November 9th 1989: The Berlin Wall Fell. In November of 1986 we had been to East Berlin and like most Americans never thought that we would see this day.

August 2nd 1990: Iraq Invades Kuwait: At time few people believe it well end in war. I was deputy course leader for Army Chaplain Officer Basic Course, tell my classmates to get ready to go to war.

December 31st 1991: The Soviet Union is dissolved.

April 19th 1993: FBI and other Federal Law Enforcement personnel using Combat Engineering Vehicles from the 111th Engineer Battalion, the unit that I serve as a Chaplain assault the Branch Davidian compound outside Waco Texas. Davidian leader David Koresh and dozens of followers die in fire and shoot out.

June 17th 1994:  Police arrest O. J. Simpson after nationally televised low speed chase charging him with murder in the death of his wife Nicole and Ronald Goldman. NBC splits screen between NBA championship series game between Houston Rockets and New York Knicks and the chase. I watch in back of M577 Command Vehicle on 9 inch television in the field at Fort Hood.

August 12th 1994: Baseball strike cancels season, playoffs and Worlds Series.

April 19th 1995: Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols blow up Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building

January 26th 1998: Bill Clinton states that “I want you to listen to me. I’m going to say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”

December 31st 1999: The world awaits the end of life as we know it due to the Y2K flaw sthat supposedly causes computers to malfunction and bring calamity to the earth.

January 1st 2000:  People including me wake up from hangovers to find that computers still work.

September 11th 2001: Al Qaeda terrorists hijack four commercial airliners crashing two into the World Trade Center Towers in New York collapsing them and one into the Pentagon. A fourth is brought down by passengers before it can reach Washington DC and its target, the US Capital killing 2976 people and injuring another 6000+. I am at Camp LeJeune North Carolina and remained locked down on base the next 4 days.

March 19th 2003: US and Allies launch attack on Iraq known as Operation Iraqi Freedom to remove Saddam Hussein from power and disarm his stocks of weapons of mass destruction. I am assigned to USS Hue City and the ship is in dry dock. The rest is history.

I also saw a lot of baseball mostly from afar, Pete Rose’s epic hit, Cal Ripken’s consecutive games record, Nolan Ryan’s 5000th strike out and 7th no-hitter as well as all of the now steroid tainted home run records including Barry Bond’s 756th home run which I saw live in a chow hall in Baghdad.

Somehow it is all worth it. Judy has not divorced me although I have probably given her reason on more than one occasion to do so and I love what I do and the people that I get to serve. It really is amazing to look back and think about all the events that I have either witnessed or been a part of in the military as well as all of the great people that I have been associated with. Those friendships and relationships mean more than about anything to me and I am grateful to God and to Judy, my family and all of my friends who have helped me, sometimes in very dark times to go as far and as long as I have in both the Army and Navy.

I was selected for promotion to Commander in June and confirmed by the Senate on August 23rd. I now am about to enter a new phase of life, military service and ministry as the supervisory Chaplain at Naval Hospital Camp LeJeune North Carolina.  Lord knows what the future hold, but whatever happens I feel that things will be fine.

I hope that whatever you do that you will experience good things and be able to look back in life and say “wow that was something else.” So here is to all of us and the long strange trips that we embark upon in life.  In the words of Lou Gehrig, “I am the luckiest man alive.”

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Do you believe in Miracles? Padre Steve Remembers the “Miracle on Ice”

We all remember where we were when tragedy happened.  No one can forget where they were when John or Bobby Kennedy or the Reverend Martin Luther King Junior was assassinated. Likewise few can forget where they were when the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up or the events of September 11th 2001.  However, in spite of the fact that good news is not always as memorable as tragedy there was a sentinel event by a group of unknown US college hockey players that if you were around back then you have likely never forgotten and probably remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when it took place.  Of course I am speaking about the victory of the US hockey team, Team USA over the Soviet team at the 1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid New York.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGACsSW4Iqw&feature=related (Al Michaels Call)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fztlLwgSFCg (highlights and live call)

Thirty years ago today I was a college sophomore in California.  I had grown up with hockey, when we were stationed in Oak Harbor Washington as a child from 1965 through the end of 1969 I grew up with the weekly broadcast of “Hockey Night in Canada” on the Canadian Broadcasting Network.  When we moved to Long Beach my dad would take my brother and me to see Los Angeles Kings games and then when we moved to Stockton to see the California Seals in Oakland.  While in Stockton I played in a youth hockey league for a couple of years playing defenseman, occasional right wing and for 4 games goalie when our goalkeeper was injured.   As a goalkeeper I went 2 for 2 in those four games and can tell you that there is almost nothing as frightening as having a 2 on 1 or one or two man breakaway coming at you full bore.  Goalies are a special breed and I don’t think that I would want that kind of pressure on me to make a living, combat and life and death is hard enough…I don’t need that.

So hockey to a lesser extent than baseball has been a part of my life for a very long time.  I remember watching my first Winter Olympics when I was in Stockton back in 1972.  Back then Team USA was nothing more than a bunch of American college kids playing teams of Warsaw pact professional all-stars from powerhouse teams such as the Soviet Red Army team.  The Soviets dominated the game in the since 1956 and with the exception of the US Gold Medal team of 1960 had won every Olympic gold and in 1980 were once again expected to win Olympic Gold.

Back in 1980 times were tough in the United States, double digit inflation 20% interest rates a gas crisis, recession, residual effects of the Vietnam War and the humiliation that the Iranians were inflicting on the United States on a daily basis following the seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran by “students” and the seemingly unending hostage crisis.  The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was yet another thumb in the eye of the United States.  As the United States prepared to host the Winter Games at Lake Placid New York there was not much to cheer about.  The country was mired in political crisis as the sitting President Jimmy Carter was continually at odds with his own Democratic Party and to all appeared weak in dealing with the Soviets, their satellites or the Iranians.  When he made his “malaise” speech in July 1979 I was in the UK touring as a spotlight tech with a Christian singing group and the reaction by the Brits and other Europeans was ridicule of the President and pity for the United States.  The United States had hit bottom.

When it came to the hockey team no one expected much with the exception of head coach Herb Brooks.  Brooks and his collection of college players, a number of whom would later become stats in the NHL, began their time together inauspiciously conducting a 61 game exhibition tour against teams from around the world.  In the final game on February 9th 1980 the Americans faced the Soviets at Madison Square Garden and were handily beaten by a score of 10-3 by the Soviet team.  The Soviets on the other hand had enjoyed nothing but success against NHL teams with Soviet teams going 5-3-1 against their NHL counterparts.  The previous year a Soviet team had shut out an NHL All-Star team 6-0.

When the Olympic completion began the Soviets as was expected dominated their opponents in the preliminary round going 5-0 and outscoring their opponents 51-10.  The United States surprised everyone tying Sweden 2-2 with a last minute goal and then stunning a highly favored Czech team 7-3 before defeating Norway, Romania and West Germany to advance to the medal round.  Brooks practiced the team hard as they prepared for the Soviets who they were scheduled to meet in the opening round of the medal competition. A loss for the Americans would force them to play for Bronze and no one expected the Americans to defeat the Soviets. Yet when the day came the Lake Placid Field House was packed with 8500 fans decked out in Red White and Blue, American flags displayed everywhere and the crowd spontaneously singing “God Bless America.”  Unfortunately because the Soviets refused to allow a later start time the game was not televised live nor broadcast live on the radio in the States.

On February 22nd I had finished work making and rolling pizza dough at Shakey’s Pizza in Stockton, went home showered and then got in my car to head over to Judy’s house.  On my way over I was listening to the radio when ABC radio broke in to air final few seconds of the game live, as Al Michaels made the famous call “Eleven seconds, you’ve got ten seconds, the countdown going on right now! Morrow up to Silk. Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles? YES!” I could not believe it and was screaming in the car, as soon as I got to Judy’s I went in and told her and her parents When the game came on I watched it with undivided attention and to this day I cannot forget that night.  The Americans had beaten the vaunted Soviet team 4-3 and would go on to defeat Finland in the Gold medal game 4-2.  The next day they were guests at the White House and after that the team broke up.  13 players would go on to NHL careers, Brooks would lead the 2002 Team USA to a Silver in 2002 before being killed in a car crash in 2003.

The Soviet people and their news media were stunned by the loss and the fact that the Soviet Team won Silver by defeating Sweden 9-2 the team had lost its luster.  While it remained dominant until the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1990 it was the end of an era.  Today many Russian players star in the NHL and live in the United States even after their careers.

Thirty years later the triumph of Team USA against all odds on that night is remembered as an event nearly unequaled in sports history as well as contemporary American history.  That game actually marked a return of pride to the country after a decade of discontent, defeat and discouragement.  That team and its members did something that no one expected in defeating the Soviets and going on to win the Gold medal against the Finns.  No one could have expected the effect on the country either. It was a miracle, a miracle on ice.

I don’t know about you, but I still believe in miracles.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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I Miss the Music of the 70’s and 80’s

The Abbess and I in 1980 at Cal State Northridge

Note: Many of the links on this page are now dead. I have done a new article about this which is linked here: 

Spendin’ the Nighttime Reminiscing: Padre Steve Remembers the Music of the 1970s and Early 1980s

If you like this post please see the sequel:  More about Why I Miss the Music of the 70’s and 80’s unfortunately many of the links are dead on this one too, but the article is interesting.

I don’t know about you but the music that I really enjoy is the music that was popular when I was in Junior High, High School and College.  For that period spanned the years 1971-1983.  For those of that were alive back then it was a turbulent era, Vietnam was ending, Nixon was resigning due to the Watergate break in cover-up, assassination attempts both successful and unsuccessful were common, two attempts on Gerald Ford, Aldo Moro of Italy and Anwar Sadat of Egypt fell to terrorists and both Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II were felled by bullets which did not prove fatal. The Cold War was tense, the Middle East a mess, and the economy…well kind of like now in a lot of ways.  There was a major recession the auto industry needed bailouts, inflation was running in double digits as was the unemployment rate, the dollar was weak and OPEC wreaked havoc on world oil markets. Jimmy Carter was ridiculed worldwide for his “malaise” speech and the Iranian revolution led by the Ayatollah Khomeini swept into power and with it the seizure of the US Embassy and the 444 day hostage crisis punctuated by a failed rescue attempt demoralized the United States.

The 444 Day Iranian Hostage Crisis Helped End the Carter Presidency

The Soviets invaded Afghanistan which became their Vietnam.  In Lebanon 247 Marines were killed in the bombing of their barracks, Cubans were fighting in Angola and well. Terrorist groups killed Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics and the Red Brigades, the Bader Meinhof gang, the Weather Underground and the Irish Republican Army provided a constant string of terrorist attacks even as Middle Eastern terrorist groups highjacked airliners in daring fashion, matched at times by equally rescues by Israeli and German anti-terrorist units. As you can imagine there was a lot to be down about.

Gas Lines 1974

However with the passing of the 60’s the music of the 1970s and early 1980s provided a diversion for many people looking for respite from all the bad news that echoed around the airwaves and in the newspapers.  Thankfully there wasn’t a 24 hour cable news cycle yet and had there been people would have probably been jumping off of buildings.  As for me I had countless 45s and LPs of my favorite groups and artists, Doctor Donald D Rose of KFRC in San Fransisco was my favorite DJ and my car had a retro-fitted 8-Track tape player.

Today while much of the population gathered around TVs to watch NFL Wild Card playoff games, I needed some peace, so I started putting music DVDs on as the Abbess and I worked about the house.  First was Blondie’s Greatest Hits and Abba Gold followed by the Eagle’s Farewell Tour I concert album.

Great groups and artists ruled the pop and rock airwaves and save for the disaster known as disco the 70’s and early 80’s produced some of the more memorable music of a generation.  It was not “message music” like much of the music in the 60’s but focused on entertainment.  Power groups like Journey, Starship, REO Speedwagon and Boston made power ballads, while AC/DC and KISS shocked and entertained at the same time.  Groups like the Blondie, the Eagles, Chicago, Paul McCartney and Wings, Abba and the Commodores dominated the pop charts while individual artists such as Olivia Newton-John, Elton John, Carly Simon, John Denver, Lionel Ritchie, Barry Manilow and others satisfied the more mainstream pop crown.  R&B enjoyed a renaissance due to the unlikely duo of the Blues Brothers who helped re-launch the careers of Aretha Franklin, Johnny Lee Hooker, Cab Calloway and a host of others.  As the 80’s came along new groups and styles were introduced including New Wave and Rap. It was music that helped us through those times.

As I listened and watched I mentioned to the Abbess that I missed those times.  It certainly wasn’t the fact that things were great in the world, but despite all of what was going on there was still some sense of that things would work out okay.  Music helped provide part of that sense of hope, even disco as much as I would hate to admit that. It was an escape and the music of that time is still with us, somehow those groups haven’t gone away and people look back with fondness to the music of the era.

Here are some of my favorites with links to the videos, they are in no particular order nor are the representative of all the groups that I have in my library of CDs and DVDs, but I enjoy the heck out of them.  Have fun and enjoy.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

The Eagles “Take it Easy”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScG0ilS0dgI

“Heartache Tonight”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvJqdudx8cg

and “Hotel California”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbjKMobts5U


Olivia Newton-John “Magic”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7WPwH8Rd6g

and “I Honestly Love You”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zGLSnZGZts

The Commodores “Sail On”


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zg-ivWxy5KE

Rod Stewart “Tonight’s the Night”

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1p96h_rod-stewarttonights-the-nightgonna_music

 

Dr Hook and the Medicine Show “On the Cover of the Rolling Stone”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-XzGOZHYdA&feature=PlayList&p=AF906570E242A626&index=1

and “Sharing the Night Together”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECyAATeNH3E


Abba “Waterloo”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGs7dTjUsXw

and The Winner Takes it All

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92cwKCU8Z5c


Fleetwood Mac “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8arvEzHsA8


Journey “Don’t Stop Believing”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNB1EUJg1-w


Laura Branigan “Gloria”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tVutw8rjFk


Bonnie Tyler “Total Eclipse of the Heart”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=840B27zYfOk&feature=related

Carly Simon “You’re So Vain”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQZmCJUSC6g


Blondie “Dreaming”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIjxGKLTADE

“Rapture”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHPikUPlRD8&feature=PlayList&p=F2ED8F30DB2943CD&index=1

and “Island of Lost Souls”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEpPjBG4CJY


Chicago “Saturday in the Park”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWxA3e9f6rY

Linda Ronstadt “When Will I Be Loved”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmE7tTzJkbU


Air Supply “Making Love Out of Nothing at All”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lE6Htee0sA

Foghat “Third Time Lucky”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fj1O2KtH4kE


Elton John “Bennie and the Jets”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0WCQadt864

The Captain and Tennille “Do that to Me One More Time”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNHcgk5bf7o&feature=related

REO Speedwagon “Keep on Loving You”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-mw1HGJjdA&feature=related

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts “I Love Rock and Roll”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SOJxNOP37I

Starship “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PP1HEFlkdY

and “We  Built this City”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7flrwE-bZVo

Finally, the Blues Brothers “Everybody Needs Somebody”

http://www.mojvideo.com/video-the-blues-brothers-everybody-needs-somebody-to-love/ac0b631b54ff095fd5c0

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Filed under History, music