Saturday, June 29, 2013

Time to Travel

It's about time! I'll finally be on the road for a spell and it's been a while, so I'm thrilled, excited, anxious and almost ready to go. Mrs. Spadoman and I just spent the last three days with the Grandkids and did some travel, but only up to Duluth/Superior via the cabin at Cumberland. We put on about 350 miles or so in small 1-2 hour segments. We had a really good time. Just when we thought we would probably never take another trip all-together in one vehicle as the lifestyles of the Grandchildren are getting quite diverse as they get older, we loaded up the Edge and had a blast!

Now, it's our turn. We are leaving on Sunday, June 30th, and headed out West via a Northern route through Glacier National Park and Canada. We'll end up in Vancouver and use a couple of ferry boat rides to get us back into the USA at Port Angeles, WA and another ferry to get us into Seattle from the Olympic Peninsula.

In Seattle, we'll visit a fellow that I spent time with in 1969, when I was in Vietnam. We have been communicating for the past year and haven't seen each other in 44 years!

From Seattle, we'll travel South into Northern California and spend time with our good friends before heading back in a couple of weeks or so. Nothing on our itinerary except sightseeing, eating, seeing friends and finding good coffee and food. We will be taking a few roads that neither of us have ever been on, especially those in the Canadian Rockies.

Since I'm an old man, I'll report through the blog with old fashioned photos and written descriptions of the sights, sounds and stories of what we encounter. It's not that I don't know how to Tweet, Instagram or post from my iPad, it's just that I like to look up and see what I'm going to show and tell you about instead of looking at it and experiencing it through an electronic device. So, you'll just have to be patient and wait for the trip to be completed for the final cut. Of course I will tease you folks a little if I find a great plate of diner food worthy of mention.

It has been a while since I've been on the road like this. As many of you know, driving across the Continent is my life, to be on the two-lane highways and byways and seeing the world in a different way. And it isn't often that Mrs. Spadoman comes along for the entire trip, so that is the real bonus. It's like real live retirement! We even have the aches and pains and medical maladies to talk about while listening to recorded music from the 60's, or at least groups that performed and made themselves popular way back then.

Some folks do yoga for meditation. I do the Windshield.

Be kind to each other. My wish to all of you is simply...


Friday, June 21, 2013


Haiku My Heart
June 21, 2013

Haiku My Heart, the weekly sharing is celebrating three years with today's installment. Come see what the excitement is all about.
See more at recuerda mi corazon.

Quiet lake, two kids

Make and share new memories

Lifetimes yet to live

Mrs. Spadoman took this photo last weekend of our two youngest Grand daughters as they sat on the dock fishing. Their demeanor was so casual and their conversation so vivid, it reminded us of a scene in a movie when two old friends meet and spend valuable time together.

I love the photo. It seems to have the patina of an oil painting. The reflection in the calm water of Beaver Dam Lake that evening had us standing at water's edge and feeling the world stop, just as the wind had done this particular day.

We are truly blessed to have our Grandchildren around us and to watch them live and grow and put into practice some fun things we have taught them, like fishing, and watching them realize that the entire exercise is usually not about catching fish, but rather enjoying each other's company while sitting on the edge of a lake on a fine Spring day.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Real Story

Set your TV recorders, or put these dates on your calendar. The Smithsonian channel will air a show entitled “The Real Story, Platoon” in July, 2013. It can be seen on Sunday, July 14th at 8pm, and again on the same date at 11pm. It will also appear on Monday, July 15th at 10pm.

Official poster for the 1986 blockbuster award winning motion picture,  "Platoon"

The Oliver Stone motion picture entitled “Platoon”, which came out in 1986 and starred Tom Berringer, Willem DeFoe and Charley Sheen, was a pretty gory testament to one platoon in the American war in Vietnam, and specifically to the soldiers of an infantry unit that served in a battle at a fire support base called FSB Burt.
Cast of the movie Platoon posing in front of an armored personnel carrier, APC

When the film makers made the documentary for the film “The Real Story, Platoon”, they used testimony and factual information gathered from interviewing the men who were at FSB Burt and the horrific fight that ensued there on January 1st and 2nd of 1968.

Real life photo of an APC from Republic of Vietnam in 1969

Involved in  this battle was an army unit nicknamed the Triple Deuce. The 2nd Battalion of the 22nd Infantry Regiment. This unit was attached to, and part of, the 25th Infantry Division. I was a member of the Triple Deuce when I served in the Republic of Vietnam from February 1969 to February of 1970.
The 2nd Battalion of the 22nd Infantry Regiment insignia

I was NOT there during the epic battle of Soui Cut at FSB Burt in 1968. But the unit I served with was. I know some of the men that were involved in this fight. I met them at our Regiment Society’s Reunions over the years.

Director Oliver Stone served in Vietnam with the 25th Infantry Division from September 1967 to November 1968. The movie “Platoon” was based on his experiences, the characters he served with and the battle at FSB Burt.

The moniker "Tropic Lightning" comes from the 25th Infantry Division's actions in the Pacific theater of operations during WWII

The connection between myself and this documentary is simply that fact that I served with the same infantry unit when I was in the Republic of Vietnam.

On a battle for battle basis, there is no difference in how bad it was for one soldier and how another soldier might not have had it so bad. Any individual event or action can only be measured by the person that it is happening to and their perception of it. Pulling the trigger on a rifle or machine gun and pumping endless amounts of bullets, artillery and mortar shells into human beings is an experience that no one can judge but the perpetrator, and in war, the soldiers are those perpetrators.
The Combat Infantry Badge

I left Vietnam and was returned home as a 20 year old boy. I could not legally drink or vote and my Mother had to sign for permission to get a drivers license as mine had expired while I was away at war. This was in February of 1970, over 43 years ago.

Remembering Vietnam every day of my life, I have said little in regards to the actual facts of day to day encounters  of combat. Maybe this documentary, “The Real Story, Platoon” might make clear some of what befalls a combat infantry soldier when called to duty.

I have written about my actual experiences, at least one of them, and I have shared it with family members and the family of my friend, Frazier Dixon, whose body I held in my arms in December of 1969.

Save your agendas about war and peace. No one can turn back the clock and change what has already happened and what we’ve already done. 

Funny thing about all of this. It was horrible, it changed my life and in some respects, caused me to have a different life than many of the mainstream from how war affected me. The nightmares, the anxiety, anger issues and other symptoms associated with PTSD, not to mention the physical maladies from exposure to Agent Orange. Yet I will not try to forget it all. I am no longer ashamed. It is a part of me. It has made me who I am. 

On my path to healing I have learned acceptance, forgiveness and what a decent measure of Peace feels like.

“You’ve never lived until you’ve almost died, for those who fought for it; life has a flavor the protected will never know.”… This quote scribed on the wall of the Hoa Lo Prison, the Hanoi Hilton, the author is unknown.

Above All,  Peace

Friday, June 14, 2013

A Pair of Joes

Haiku My Heart
June 14, 2013

Each week, on Friday, a group of fine folks gather and share Haiku. poetry, photos, art and friendship through our blogs. Check out Rebecca's recuerda mi corazon to see more and find out how to participate.

If the hyperlink above doesn't work, please cut and paste this URL:
That's my 91 year old Uncle Joe Spado in the hat, and yours truly gesturing,  as we share a conversation on the patio at my cousin's home, celebrating his birthday last month

Two souls sharing talk

Combat Veterans of war

Real life Joe Spados

That’s right. Two of us with the same name. His name. My name. That’s my uncle Joe on the left, my dad’s younger brother. He just turned 91 on May 8th. I turned 64 on May 10th. We’re both combat Veterans that served in the US Army. He was in Africa and Europe in World War II, I served in the American war in Vietnam in 1969.
My Uncle Joe Spado as a young man at my Aunt's wedding

Others served in the armed forces as well. Uncle Phil and Uncle Joe from my mother’s side of the family and Uncle Tom, my dad’s oldest brother. Even my dad served during World War II. My brother also served in the Marine Corps.

Funny fact is, only those named Joe were sent to combat while serving in the military.

This is Joe Caruso, one of my mother's brothers, in uniform circa 1944

I have no idea where my other Uncle Joe was stationed when he served. But the Uncle Joe that is still amongst us, the one I’m talking to in the photo above, told me he served in the 256th Tank Battalion.

One of the stories he told me was how he had gotten in trouble and thrown into the stockade while he was stationed in Italy. There was a need for someone that spoke Italian to keep track of some Italian prisoners of war. My uncle had his stockade sentence pardoned so he could do detail translating for these POW truck drivers.

When I asked him what he did to be put in the stockade, he told me that he had taken a case of fruit cocktail off a truck to share with his platoon.

I make no political point here about serving in the military or any war. It happened. It is part of the past and cannot be changed. I’m just fortunate to still have my Uncle Joe around. By the way, we call him Uncle Curly.

Me, myself and I, somewhere in the Republic of Vietnam, 1969


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Heartfelt Dichotomy

Haiku My Heart
June 7, 2013

To see more Haiku from other writers, artists and muses, please visit my friend Rebecca’s blog. It is entitled recuerda mi corazon and means “reminds my heart” in the Hispanic language. Everything can be referenced to the heart, but especially here, and on most every day, but especially on Fridays when friends meet.

I’m listing the URL to recuerda mi corazon as well as trying to highlight the link as sometimes I can’t get the darn thing to work right.

So, go ahead, take a look. Participate, share your heart with others, or just hang around and feel the love.

A new ride for Spadoman

Wheels, white lines, asphalt
Another adventure trip

Toothpick power poles

So, let’s lighten it up a little, okay? It’s been a real drag the past couple of months, but I’m feeling like the worse is over with. I’m thinking back and I can’t remember smiling much, or telling any funny stories or even having a good time doing something I enjoy during the recent past. No details need to be given. Just suffice it to say, “Glad that stretch is behind me!”

My old Triumph Scrambler loaded in the back of the van for the trip home from Utica, NY

In the meantime, I bought another motorcycle to replace the one that got wrecked last September. It's that black one at the top of the page. This one will be the 4th Triumph I've owned.

I’m getting back on the road this coming weekend. I’m driving to Ohio, somewhere in the Eastern part of the state. I bought another motorcycle and I’m going to go fetch it from the guy I bought it from. I haven’t been ‘On the Road’ since December when I went down to Tucson for a week. That was in the early part of the month. We did go to Florida, and yes, that can be construed as traveling, but we flew down to Ft. Myers via commercial airliner. That’s no road trip.

Needless to say, I’m excited and anxious as I anticipate pulling out of town early Saturday morning. The drive coming up will be on the superslab Interstate highway system all the way to within a couple of hours of my ultimate destination of Toronto. That’s Toronto, Ohio for those of you keeping score. A smallish town not far from the Pennsylvania border and Pittsburgh, just 45 miles away to the East. Too bad the Penguins can’t score against Tuukka Rask, Boston’s Finnish goalie. I’d definitely stick around and try to get tickets for a Stanley Cup game at the Consol Energy Center Arena.

I’m thinking the return trip will be more leisurely with no time constraints. That’ll allow me to get on the two-lane and wander through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. My new iPad has a restaurant and coffee shop app and I’ll be lookin’ for some new diner grub and good coffee.

I won’t be alone

The best traveling partner

Comes along with me

Proud daughter Maggie in front of her first apartment, June, 1991

Saturday will also be a day of deep introspection and reflection. It will mark the 22nd year since the accident that took our beloved Maggie from this world. Guess that sombers up the entire affair a bit. But I know that Maggie would want to see me happy in some respect, and meditating through a windshield at 60 miles per hour does indeed make me happy. So will the slower speed limits through the small towns as I search for what constitutes gold in my world. I’ll just ask her to come along for the ride.

We also remember Jim Cooper, Maggie's friend that also lost his life that fateful June night

And Bobby Jens, who left us a few years later in an airplane crash