I remember: Kenneth Tate, US Army, 1946 – 1967

Kenneth Tate, US Army, 1946 – 1967


Most men my age, served during Vietnam in one form or another. After I graduated from Southern Illinois University, I entered the Air Force. Ken went into the Army.

I was born and grew up in Illinois, southern Illinois in Benton, IL, the Franklin County seat. I attended Benton Consolidated High School along with several hundred others. One of those in my class was Kenneth W. Tate, a very distant cousin from my mother’s side.

Ken was a tall, lanky, farm boy, who lived, if I recall correctly, to the northeast from Benton.  I lived on another farm in the opposite direction.  If it weren’t for the occasional family get-togethers and high school, I’d probably never have met him.  But we were distantly related and we did attend high school together.  We ran around with the same bunch and were geeks and band-members.  I played a trombone, Ken played the drums. 

For him, like many of us, being in the band was more of an opportunity to get out of PE class that is was for music. The school felt that being in the marching band in the fall was sufficient to meet the state’s PE requirement.  That drew many into our band clique.

Ken and I took the same math and science classes. We were lab partners for Biology, Chemistry and Physics…the standard college-prep curriculum. When we graduated in 1964, I went off to Southern Illinois University. Ken started classes at a nearby Junior College but he didn’t attend long.

The draft was in force during that time.  It was a strong motivator to remain in school with a 2-S deferment. Rather than being drafted, Ken enlisted in the Army.  I lost track of him until a couple of years later when I received a letter from my father. Inside with the letter was a clipping…Ken’s obituary.  I didn’t know the details until later.

From the Benton Evening News, September 18, 2009. (The original link no longer works.)

Benton, Ill. —

A trip to Northern Illinois by a U.S. Army veteran resulted in an emotional tribute to a Benton man who died in the Vietnam War.

Joe Hare of Columbia, Ky., on Tuesday honored the memory of fellow Black Lions 28th U.S. Infantry member Kenneth W. Tate, who was killed in action on Sept. 6, 1967 — two days after his 21st birthday.


Hare and his wife, Pat, were joined by some of Tate’s family members and friends at his gravesite in the Masonic & Odd Fellows Cemetery.


“It’s not easy, is it?” Hare asked, his voice trembling. “I didn’t think I would do this bad.”
Tate was the first person from Franklin County to die in Vietnam.


“I’ve forgotten how many people came to his funeral,” said Tate’s stepsister, Alana Day, “but there were 140 cars at the funeral home.”

There’s a bit more information here at the Virtual Wall.  I didn’t know Ken was a LRRP (Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol). All that we heard was that he was on a patrol and was killed. Someone, I don’t remember who now, said he was killed by a mine.  I don’t know if that’s true or not. It doesn’t really matter, now.

I don’t know why I keep thinking of Ken. We weren’t all that close. Circumstances put us together fifty years ago for a period of time. I can still remember his face.

Perhaps it is, as someone once said, that as long as we remember, they aren’t really gone but live within us.  I have no doubt Ken and I will meet again…and laugh remembering when we made nitroglycerin and bombed pigeons outside the window of our 2nd floor High School Chemistry lab using an eyedropper.

When Veteran’s Day was Armistice Day

Contrary to current common observance, today was originally Armistice Day—celebrating the end of World War I.  The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and
Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and

Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.

I can remember celebrating Armistice Day.  My earliest memory was standing along one of our town’s main streets with my family watching a parade of returning Korean War Veterans marching down main street accompanied by Tanks, bands and floats (tractor hauled wagons.) That changed by a proclamation by Dwight D. Eisenhower on October 8th, 1954 that designated November 11th as Veteran’s Day. 

All was well until 1968 when Public Law 90-363 (82 Stat. 250) or the Uniform Holiday Bill. That bill was intended to ensure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. It was thought that these extended weekends would encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates.” — Department of Veteran’s Affairs.”

Under this law, Veteran’s Day was observed on October  25th causing much confusion.  President Gerald Ford moved Veteran’s Day back to November 11 by an order in 1975.

Considering all the wrangling over the holiday, one result of having Veteran’s Day on November 11th is that no one remembers that it was originally set aside to celebrate the end of the First World War.  Before the two holiday were merged, each had their own observances.  Veterans are also honored on other days such as Memorial Day, Flag Day and and even the Fourth of July. 

Personally, I think the WW1 vets have been robbed, if any are left.  My mother had a cousin who was a WW1 veteran (search the Court for Heinie Mueller.)

I would much prefer that Veterans have a holiday all our own. A day solely for us and not usurping a celebration intended for others.

Until that happens, however…Happy Veterans AND Armistice Day!

(A repost from November 11, 2015.)

Happy Birthday, Marines!

Happy Birthday, US Marines!

The Marine Corps was created on November 10, 1775, in Tun Tavern, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by a resolution of the Continental Congress. In 1834 the marines became part of the Department of the Navy.

The globe and anchor signify worldwide service and sea traditions. The spread eagle represents the nation itself. The motto, Semper Fidelis, or Always Faithful, is clenched in the beak of the bird.

To all you current, inactive and retired Marines,

His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
Mathew 25-21.

Pivot Points

My wife and I was at dinner recently and we were discussing some long-ago event. It occurred to me that there was a single point that changed the direction of our life. A point that created a fork in our life, a divergence from the life before us. That pivot point was an invitation to lunch.

It happened in January, 1976. I was working in an administrative job for a flour milling company. The company owned a number of flour mills across the country and one charcoal plant. My job, depending on the day of the week, was Payroll Manger (hourly employees), Data Processing Manager, Assistant Treasurer, Payroll Accounting Manger, and on Friday, Manager of the company Benefit Program—paying medical claims for the salaried employees.

A couple of weeks after New Years in January, 1976, I received an invitation to lunch by a Ham Radio friend. I had been a Ham Radio operator for four years and was interested in RTTY, Radio Teletype. So was my friend.

I had spent my Christmas Holiday building a RTTY demodulator. The device decoded two RTTY tones received over the air and converted the tones to Baudot code for the TTY printer. In transmit mode, it received Baudot code from my TTY keyboard and converted that code into two tones that would be transmitted over the air. I had designed and built the demodulator from scratch. I was very proud of it and, at the request of my Ham Radio friend, took it with me. My Ham buddy wanted to see it.

When I arrived, I found my friend sitting with another. My friend was a field maintenance engineer for a Texas-based distributed computing company. The other person sitting at lunch was his boss. The boss was based in Minneapolis and visited Kansas City monthly. That day was his January monthly visit.

The lunch went well. I presented my pride-and-joy, described the circuitry and the techniques I had used in its construction. After twenty minutes, my friend received a customer call, some equipment needed maintenance. He departed leaving me with his boss.

It was a setup.

It was a job interview. My friend had accepted a position within the company to be an instructor in the company school in San Antonio, TX. However, as part of the deal, he couldn’t leave Kansas City until he found a replacement. Me.

I impressed my interviewer. I lacked knowledge of digital computing but I did have more knowledge of basic electronics than many of the current field engineers of the company. By the end of lunch, I had a job offer, for the Kansas City area, at twice my salary of my job at the milling company.

I took it! My wife was five months pregnant and my salary of $600/mth was small compared with the cost of a growing family.

I had been coasting since leaving the Air Force. My job at the milling company was dead-end. It was a family owned business and all the higher positions were limited to family members or very close family friends. The new job had more opportunities and the potential for a much larger salary.

That pivot point changed our life. I became a field engineer. A few years later, I was second level support covering a four state territory. Not long after that, I was third level support for a seven state area and a regular visiting instructor in the company school teaching disk-drive maintenance, software design and programming and telecommunications.

I have no idea what our life would have been if I hadn’t accepted that invitation to lunch. I’ve lost touch with my Ham Radio friend. A decade later the computer company was bought by a financier who broke up company and sold the pieces.

That field engineering job eventually lead to position with Sprint that lasted until I retired as a Principle Network Design Engineer. While working at Sprint I was a programmer, manager, systems design enginer and finally a project manager. I acquired seven patents along the way.  All in all, it’s been a good life.

I wonder if I will meet Mike Rathbun again. I think I will.

Where have I been and what have I been doing?

Wow! No posts since November 11th. When I stopped posting five days a week over a year ago, I did not intend to let my blog slide off into history. I haven’t posted because I’ve been busy.

Busy? Doing what, you may ask. Writing fiction. I’ve had some small success.

It all started last June when I received an email from one of the editors of the Grantville Gazette. The Gazette buys fan-fiction based on the world of 1632 by Eric Flint. 1632 is available, free, from Baen’s Free Library. Scroll down on the 1632 website and you can download the book in your favorite e-book format.

Getting back to the event last summer…some ten to twelve years ago, I submitted a short story to the Gazette slush pile. I received some feedback, made changes, resubmitted the story to the 1632 slush, and waited…and waited…and waited until I decided it must have been so bad it wasn’t worth more attention.

The subject of the story arose again last May in the 1632 forum on Baen’s Bar, a subsection of the Baen website. I mentioned that I had submitted a story long ago on that subject and a few days later I received an email asking if I was still interested in selling the story to the Gazette.

Grantville Gazette #68 cover art

Of course, says I! I resubmitted, received some further feedback, made some changes, reviewed it to catch typos, missing punctuation and resubmitted it. The next thing I know, I received a notice, “Send me a .rtf.” The short story was accepted and appeared in the November, 2016, issue #68 of the Grantville Gazette. The title was, Greetings! I’ve included the link but it may be behind a paywall.

That sale was followed by a novelette, The Marshal comes to Suhl, that appeared in the Grantville Gazette #70 in March, 2017. A third sale of a novella, SMC, is appearing as a three-part serial starting in Gazette #71. SMC, Part 1, is up in the current edition of the Gazette. The second and third parts of SMC will appear in the July and September, 2017 issues.

So. Instead of continuing to write a political blog, I’ve been writing fiction. My ego has been kept under control by the submission of three other short stories that are still sitting in the slush-pile without a nibble.

I don’t…yes, I do mind, but they have been a good learning experience. I found that typos are insidious and no matter how many times you read and re-read your text, they will still escape your notice. I’ve learned the difference between ‘telling vs. showing,’ and to avoid the dreaded ‘white-room,’ or writing just pure dialog without any context.

I can’t post the stories here. I’ve sold the rights for five years. But, if you’re interested you can follow the links above and read them on-line. If they are behind a pay-wall, I strongly suggest you subscribe to the Gazette. You may get the writing bug, as have so many others. The Grantville Gazette pays professional rates. Who knows, maybe you too can be a published writer.

Raucous Caucus – Cass County

Last Saturday was the local GOP caucus for Missouri. There was at least one caucus in each county; more than one caucus in some of the more heavily populated counties. Cass County has one of the larger delegations to the District Caucus later this month and to the state convention next month.

The lessons of this last weekend is: Do your homework and be prepared. In the end it was apparent across the state that the Cruziers did their homework and were prepared. The Followers of the Narcissist and others didn’t and weren’t.

I attended the last local caucus and was a delegate to the District Caucus and to the GOP State Convention in 2012. I reported on these experiences. This year, the caucuses (or is it caucii?) were more well behaved than in 2012.

The 2016 caucus was different than the one in 2012 due to a few but important rule changes. This year the slates presented to the caucii for the District Caucii and State Convention had to submitted in writing and must have been previously vetted, i.e., the people named on the slate must be known as “good Republicans” and have agreed to be a delegate.

One complication was that this year the MO State Central Committee allowed people to pre-register on the state website and people could click a check-box when registering. People wondered if that information had been relayed to the county central committees. It had, said Cass County Caucus Chairman Bill Kartsonis.

The Caucus began with the Pledge of Alliance and a Prayer. The Caucus Chairman and Secretary were elected. When it came time to present slates, one was submitted according to the rules. No other slates were ready for submission.

That’s when the caucus became raucous.

A vocal minority, and it was a distinct minority, raised questions and objections. They had NOT done their homework. Apparently they had assumed the rules for the 2016 caucus were the same as those in 2012. They complained the rules had not been made public! The disrupters continued with objections. It was apparent they weren’t interested in having their questions answered.

The rules had been made publics, at least a couple of months previously. I first read the rules from the MO GOP website as far back as February, if I remember the date correctly. The call to caucus had been made public for at least a month and more, weeks prior to the MO presidential primary in March, and links to the rules were disseminated via social networks and on a number of state GOP websites. The protesters’ lack of internet Google-fu was not the fault of, nor an issue for the GOP leadership.

In short, there were unprepared. They had no slate. Could not create a slate that did not includes names stolen from the first slate. The Rules stated that a name could only be submitted once. Names from one slate could not be included in an opposing slate.

Instead, the disrupters attempted to have the caucus modify the other state—not theirs since they didn’t have one but the slate created by local GOP activists called the Unity Slate. The disrupters wanted to remove some vetted names and to replace them with others, some of whom were not present nor vetted.

It reminded me of the Soros funded, Bernie Sanders followers who have disrupted rallies by Trump and Cruz. I call it attempted sabotage.

In the end, their attempts didn’t work. The sole slate that was submitted (full disclosure, my name and that of my wife were on both the Unity District and State slates) was voted upon and approved.

One strange thing I noted and I wondered if the reporter who was present observed the same, the names Cruz, Kasich, and Trump were never uttered by anyone during the entire caucus. In fact I only saw one of the three names appear. One woman wore a Trump t-shirt.

Compared to 2012, the Cass County 2016 caucus was a cake-walk. It happened because those who prepared the sole submitted slate read the rules, made preparations and were ready for the caucus. The others, who was led by a reportedly Ron Paul, libertarian activist, did not. Strangely, she did have some changes to be submitted to the state GOP platform. A few were approved. Why hadn’t she taken the same care to create and present a slate to the caucus? Perhaps that wasn’t her intent? Perhaps her intent was solely to be disruptive and attempt to have no slate submitted at all? Regardless of her intentions, she failed.

Planning and preparedness versus no planning and ignorance. That scenario is being played out across the country. In Colorado, the Cruz organization did their homework, were prepared, and walked off with all, or at least the large majority, of the Colorado delegates. That happened in Kansas, Maine, Wyoming, North Dakota and Wisconsin, plus some others, too. The Cruz organization is prepared. The Trump…whatever he calls his unorganized mob, isn’t.

The Followers of the Narcissist call those state wins made through planning and preparedness, corruption. They claim the delegates were stolen. The Follwers, like Trump, assume the country will blindly lead a bombastic, egotistical con man, and no planning nor preparation should be necessary.

It is significant that Trump has lost the last seven primaries/state caucus. Poor or no planning will never win over a well organized campaign. That is true in Missouri as well when the Followers of the Narcissist lost in a St Louis area caucus against a prepared and planned campaign by the Cruz organization.

Contrary to popular belief, these county caucus meetings select no delegates to the national GOP convention. They only select delegates to the District caucus and to the state convention. Three GOP national delegates will be selected in each congressional district. The remainder will be selected during the GOP state convention next month.

The Missouri Caucus process isn’t over. Just the first of three steps have been taken.

One interesting bit of information was announced early in the caucus. The Missouri Primary conducted last month still hasn’t been verified by the Missouri Secretary of State. At the last count, only 1200 votes separated Cruz from Trump. The delay is due to the arrival of overseas votes who have yet to be counted. If either Cruz or Trump had acquired 50% + 1 vote, the caucus would have been moot. All the delegates would have gone to the winner. However since neither acquired that 50% + 1 votes across the state, the delegates will be assigned proportionally via the three-tier caucus process—and there the preparedness and the Cruz organization will be significant.

To quote Yogi Berra, “It aint’t over ’til it’s over!”



The third party controversy has risen again. With the continuing slander by Trump against Cruz. Trump’s attack against Heidi Cruz. Would any of the ‘Pub candidates vow to support the party’s nominee. Trump said this week to a reporter if he would keep his promise not to run as a third-party candidate, he said no if he, in Trump’s opinion, was treated unfairly. Similrly, when asked whether they would support a Trump candidacy, Cruz and Kasich refused to answer. Trump has always threatened to run third party if the GOP didn’t roll over for him. It is easy to look forward and see if Trump, or Cruz for that matter, would run as a third party candidate.

The conventional wisdom is that it would be a repeat of Ross Perot’s run in the ’92 election. The Perot voters drew enough votes from the GOP to give Clinton the election.

With all the attention being given to Trump, Cruz and Kasich over a third-party run, the media is ignoring what is happening with the communist, uhh, democrat side of the slate. Bernie the Marxist, who has never held a job outside of government, is running neck-and-neck against Hillary in the vote count.

The DNC establishment rules gives the party the final choice on who will be their national candidate. Their establishment has decided that it is Hillary’s turn to run. They ignore the possibility that Hillary may be indicted before election day next Fall.

The deal between Obama and the Clintons appears to have ended.  Bill, in a speaking engagement this last week, said the last eight years were the worst in US history.  Chelsea, in a rally scantily attended, made similar remarks. In her speech, Chelsea attacked Obamacare and its rising costs.

No one has ever accused Obama of having a thick skin. These attacks by the Clinton will not go unnoticed. Nor will Obama let them slide by. Retribution, in some form, will be coming. It could be that Obama’s Justice Department will unlock the chains from the FBI and an indictment may be coming, sooner, rather than later.

The DNC has decided that Bernie will not be their candidate. One example occurred this week when the local dem establishment forgot to put Bernie’s name on the DC ballot.

The DNC has total control of the democrat convention. Their party delegates—those selected directly by the party rather than those selected through the primary/caucus method, give Hillary the DNC control of the convention. These party-controlled delegates are more than enough to control the outcome of the democrat convention.

Given that situation, is it not unlikely that Bernie may split from the dems and run as a socialist candidate? He certainly has the following and his Brownshirts could easily change their focus from Trump to Hillary.

The following scenario is, therefore, possible. Trump, amid the growing support for Cruz, decides to run as an independent. Bernie, realizing he cannot win the dem convention, splits and runs as a Marxist of some label.

Who would win?

Good question. Trump wouldn’t. A significant portion of his followers are democrats. Would they remain? Don’t think so.

Would Hillary win? With the loss of the communists socialists within the party, she would definitely be in the minority.

Could Bernie pull it off? Does Bernie have sufficient numbers of college-age idiots who are looking desperately for a bailout of their college loans? Unlikely.

That leaves Cruz. He is gaining on Trump in the polls and endorsements. Jeb has, reluctantly, endorsed Cruz. So has Mike Lee, Cruz’ Senate colleague and and long-time supporter, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, plus other big-name endorsements. Can the remaining GOP and conservatives form a coalition to win the election? Don’t know.

In the end, it could quite possibly be a civics lesson on the institution and purpose of the Electoral College.  The College Electors could be the deciding factor in an election as pivotal and controversial as that of 1860. And…the end of the US two-party system.