How soon some forget
Over the last two weeks, I have been reading with interest all of the complaint letters regarding the jet noise. Now it's my turn.
This is directed to all who have complained. When you have finished reading my thoughts on the matter and still stand by your viewpoint, so be it. It is, after all, a free country. So far.
We just marked the 70th anniversary of the unprovoked, sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. My father was one of the lucky survivors. Remember?
I was born on Oahu during the war and grew up in Hilo, where I was privileged to know many veterans of the famed 100thBN./442ndRCT (the most decorated unit of that size, ever). I went to school with their sons and daughters, who remain my friends to this day.
After graduating from Hilo High School in 1962, I enlisted in the Army (ASA) and was sent to Germany.
The following is a capsulized account of my experiences during a 12-year stay in Europe -- take a walk in my shoes:
Viet Nam was still a hush-hush operation, but the Cuba Missile Crisis was in full swing right off the Florida Keys. Remember both of those?
My duties in Germany took me to Schneeberg (17km from the Czech border) and Coburg (surrounded on three sides by East Germany). While on mobile duty, I was inside the 50-meter zone; close enough to see the fences and actual border stones. Remember when those two countries were run by the Kremlin puppets? I cruised the borders with the proud 7th Armored Cav. and the German Bundesgrenzschutz (border guards). The military on the other side of the fences was constantly training, mainly to shoot any of their fellow countrymen who were trying to escape the sad life that was forced upon them. Remember?
After separating from the Army in Germany in 1965, I went straight to work for AAFES PZ/BX System) Hqs. in the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg. We occupied the whole complex, except for one wing where the war trials were held, which was turned into a museum. It contained the courtroom, cells and the gallows where the Nazi war criminals met their fate. Remember? Every day, I walked past the museum on the way to lunch. It was a constant reminder and I was glad our troops were well trained.
I visited Dachau "Relocation Camp" (yeah, right). Remember? I also visited East Berlin in 1970, the day after the May 1 celebration/show of might. Here we celebrate Lei Day. The population there lived in fear of the Stasi. Do you think that those poor souls could write a belly aching letter to the paper? Remember?
Remember the Berlin Air Lift? You think the citizens of West Berlin (and West Germany) complained about the noise in the air?
In 1971, I fulfilled a promise to my in-laws and took them back to Sudetenland, where they were born. Their hometown was Krnov, Czechoslovakia. From a hill there you can see Poland. There were 300,000 Ruskies occupying the country because Moscow decided that the Czechs were becoming "too westernized." I witnessed firsthand how the people there lived in fear of the USSR troops, as well as the Czech Secret Police. Remember?
I saw their excitement when word got out that a shipment of oranges or bananas was arriving the next day. The elderly lady friend of my in-laws had to stand in line at three different butcher shops to get enough meat to feed our four additional mouths. And when we reciprocated by inviting her family to dinner at our hotel, the first thing they did was search the underside of the dining room table for microphones. I remember. You malcontents probably don't.
In 1972, I traveled to Ethiopia (now Ethiopia and Eritrea). I met the midget dictator/emperor Haile Selassie, who was riding around with a fleet of limos, full of very well-fed bodyguards, while his people were starving to death. Remember?
He was called: "Lion God of Judah -- Emperor for Life" and the day I met him, he was dressed in full military regalia, complete with sashes and medals all over his "Mickey Mouse" chest. I had just passed an open market where women were buying meat covered with 10,000 flies. No, you don't remember.
While being trained as a PX Manager, I was sent to Grafenwoehr/Vilseck maneuver area during the very first Reforger Exercise. This was our show of strength near the Czech border to keep Papa Bear and his cronies at bay. My mentor there was a Dutch Jew who fled Holland (to the U.S.) when Herr Hitler came calling. Remember?
Yes, occasional noise and inconvenience are small prices to pay for military preparedness.
Now, to some of the ignorant suggestions and comments in the complaint letters:
Mr. Inkster suggested that they conduct the drills out over the ocean. Part of the training consists of Touch-and-go landings. On the water?
Ms. Wagner said, "Why don't they use Pohakuloa"? That small airfield will also not accommodate jets. Some other lady talked about Canada and some Scandinavian countries not getting into wars. I guess she never heard of NATO, of which they are a part. Ms. Wagner put pen to paper while sitting in her comfortable U.S. government-subsidized apartment. She is also old enough to remember how it was growing up during and after her countryman Adolf was in charge. Remember, Christa? That is the height of audacity.
On a lighter note, I was in Berlin (no more West or East) two months after the Berlin Wall came down. The party was still in full swing. I am also pleased with the recent results after the collapse of the "Iron Curtain."
If we can keep our troops trained to defend our borders and quit butting into everyone else's business, we could put the gazillion of dollars from a non-existent war chest to better use in our own country. We also need to stop sending another gazillion in aid to all those countries who don't like us and don't want us in their backyards.
If any of you who don't want our troops to hone their skills here -- in order to protect the freedom you enjoy -- want a free ride to the airport, I, for one, will be glad to provide transportation.
There are planes leaving every hour.
Wally Camp is a Kona resident.