The Money Run is an award winning novel! On April 26th, Northern California Publishers and Authors held their 22nd Annual Book Awards Contest and The Money Run came in first place in the Fiction category. Congratulations!
Where does one start with John? His mother Muriel, a saint, could most likely tell us, but she’d probably tell more than John would tolerate. Muriel, I truly am amazed when I think of you and rearing John.
Let’s start with the orange flight suit… John thought he was slicker than rolled toilet paper in flight school in the Orange Thing. He says he was the envy of every student naval aviator… at the time. (In all the photos you seen—have you ever seen a Naval Aviator in an orange flight suit? I rest my case.)
Once he started flying out in the fleet, well he got cool and began wearing the men’s version of flight suits. John, if you ever read this you can respond on the home page under “Comments”.
John and I lived next door on Okinawa. Christmas Day we sobered up enough to attempt a barbeque. After several San Miguels, I remember Herb (Schutt) and John discussing how to get the dad gummed coals going. After two cans of lighter fluid, (probably more) the burgers were marinated à la the above-mentioned fluid and burnt to a crisp. No coals ignited. I called them gasoline burgers.
Their conversation, as drunks always to do, drifted off the barbeque. Herb said if one could hit a window glass correctly and hard enough—one could break the window and not cut their hand. Of course John disagreed. So, Herb broke all of John’s lower cased windows to show John. In the process Herb encountered a small cut on his pinky finger. And of course, the ensuing conversation almost broke out into an all-out brawl.
John and I became very good friends after we got out of the regular Marine Corps. In the book he’s married, but in real life he’s solo and available, i.e., he’s looking for a new “honey”. So, all of you single and unattached women over 25 reply and send appropriate photos. John instructed me to audition you for him. He insists he’s too busy. There you go buddy don’t say I didn’t ever do anything for you.
John graciously removed his flight school picture for me from his photo album Hall of Fame volume III. I know Juan, I said I wouldn’t let that slip out. OOPS.
We flew the A model of the ’53s there for over fifteen years. So one day while flying together somehow the subject turned to flying in in Viet Nam. It was one of those, ‘you were there when I was there?’ Sure enough there was his picture in the Cruise book. The pictures of Ted show he was truly a trained communist killer. Check out his personal side arm.
On our way to summer camp in a ’53 I’d put two Cubans in a humidifier with Jack Daniels and sliced apples. Ted walked up into the cockpit. I made a big production about the stogies, I gave Ted his and we both light up. The copilot kept saying, “Where’s mine?”
Truly enjoying the cigars, we teased him, “If you weren’t in country with us—you don’t get one.” To this day we both say best cigars ever.
Then there was the trip to Dallas…
In Tustin picked up a pilot who was on his way to Yuma, but we broke down in San Diego. This pilot stretched our patience—a lot. Ted went to maintenance supply looking for parts, so I sent the hitchhiker with Ted.
After about four hours of babysitting, Ted and his shadow returned. I told them to meet me at station weather. Hopeful about leaving, I expected Ted to have obtained the needed part.
His shadow, a major mind you, occupied the outside steps, below the second story windows to weather.
Ted said, “Richard, if you ever stick (redacted name) with me again, I promise I’ll kill you.”
“Why?” I asked.
“I almost killed him. I had them talked into giving me the part and (redacted name) informed them that we didn’t have all the correct paperwork,” Ted pointed out the window, “And look at this…”
I shook my head and looked out the window. I’m not kidding, there the was two weeks of laundry spread out on the steps, metal hand rails, and whatever else he could find. I mean underwear, socks… the whole nine yards on display out in front of the building. He’d washed the clothes and didn’t have time to dry them. He was using the San Diego sunshine instead of going back over to the Laundromat. Ted told him we were going to leave him and he’d miss the ride to Yuma.
We would’ve left him, but we didn’t have the part we needed.
Ted’s wife Dale graciously sent the pictures. Ted, I promised you I wouldn’t tell anyone you aren’t allowed on the computer anymore. Dale, thanks for the pictures.
To this day most folks call Herb “Spike.” I’ve always called him Herb. In the spring of 1968 deep in flight school in Pensacola Florida, we met each other. We got to know each other more while flying the T-28’s in VT-3 at Milton, Florida.
After graduation Herb went to the east coast and I west. On March 13, 1971, I checked into HMH-463 at Marble Mountain, in the Republic of Viet Nam. There Herb stood in the ready room. We spent the rest of the time in country and then on to wonderful Okinawa.
Herb wrestled heavy weight in college and did exceptionally well—no very well—at the NCAA finals. Now, back to Okinawa, when Herb threw a party you attended. One in particular on Okinawa, I’d drank so much I was knee-walkin’-commode huggin’ drunk, and decided to stagger out and crash back in my room.
I heard the banging on the door. Herb yelled, “Richard, you little bastard, I know you’re in there. Open the ****ing door or else.” (Or more Marine verbiage as you can guess.)
It had to be because of my drunken stupor why I chose to ignore him. Next thing I know, the 3’ x 8’ window casing in the concrete-block building crashed to the ground. He’d ripped it completely out. The venetian blinds banged from side to side as Herb crawled through the now gaping hole in my room. He yanked me out of bed, threw me in a fireman’s carry, and hauled me all the way back to his room.
The party still blared over a hundred decibels, he tossed me into a corner and said, “You little bastard. You’re not leaving my party. Here have another drink and start havin’ some fun.”
Now this one is classic Herb. It’s a long flight on the way back from Japan to Okinawa over a stretch of very cold, grey January Pacific Ocean. Oh yeah, no land in sight. We lost one of the two engines and limped along losing altitude—single engine. The reality of putting the bird into the water stared us in the face, and at night you flirted with death.
We dropped to less than thirty feet over the water that caused us to lose all radio contact and navigation aids. Herb and I exchanged cross words over who would stay in the bird to shut it down. The probability of survival for that pilot greatly diminished because the aircraft most likely would roll over and sink upside down. Herb said, ‘you’re married and I’m single, so I’ll shut `er down.’ I said, ‘No I’m the aircraft commander. I’ll do it.’ Herb shot back, ‘Listen you little bastard, I’m bigger than you, I’m staying.’ The argument continued. Neither of us could leave the other. I thought, “I don’t want to go like this. It’s cold—and sharks hang out there.”
Open ocean and nothing in sight for over an hour as the sun disappeared over the horizon. Herb and I stayed silent. Twilight lingered and I made peace with my Maker.
We see some distant clouds…maybe an island. In Okinawa we flew support to several desolate islands that served as leper colonies.
In the dusk an island appeared as we staggered closer on that single engine. Thank God.
Herb said, “Hey, Richard.”
“Yeah, Herb,” my excitement oozed on every syllable.
“If there’s natives… and they start waving…”
“Yeah,” I asked more than answered.
“And their fingers start falling off…could we try an find another island?”
I hope you can see why I love the guy. He stayed in the reserves and I’m very proud to say he retired most deservingly as a full Colonel. He flew commercial helicopters, and is now retired. His middle name is Riesling and he really gets angry with me when I call him that. Or tell anybody. So, don’t ever, I mean ever, call him that. I promised him I’d never do it…again.
Want to know more about these characters? Pick up a copy of The Money Run.
In chapter one you are introduced to Pogy, or C. Pogany. Pog always goes by Pogy or Pog. Most everyone reading pronounces it as Pawgh. But think of Home Depot. The last part of Depot is Po, and the gany rhymes with Danny or Po Ganny and you got it. Now shorten it and you’ll get Pog. The “o” is pronounced as . . . OH. I hope you get it. BTW don’t ever call him Charles. He hates it. Oops did I let that slip? Sorry Pog.
I met Pog in 1971, at HMH-463 at Marble Mountain. He was running around unshaven which shocked me the FNG. Every Marine there was clean shaven—except Pog. He proudly displayed a no shaving chit, and flouted the overgrowth with a huge smirk.
We became close, I remember him taking C Rations (c rats) from grunts, but only the turkey meal. It contained my favorite—canned pears. With his “John Wayne” can opener, he’d perforate the lid. Turn it upside down, and put it on my mouth. Purposely letting the juice run all over my face, he’d open the top part, and that would begin my breakfast. This is the good part—with greasy gloves he’d extract the pears and hand feed them to me. All the while . . . we were flying. What a breakfast.
As in The Money Run, we transferred to HMH-462 on Okinawa. Where we finished out our one year unaccompanied tour. At least one of us did. (More on that later in the sequels.)
When he returned to the world (the US of A) he went to work for Sikorsky Aircraft and retired in 2013.
Okay, if you have any question for Pog, email me and I’ll forward them. Knowing him . . . he might or might not answer them. The pictures still make me grin.
The next blog entry will feature Schutt…He’s pictured above with Pog. He’s the guy in the blue shirt. And below as he was then…