Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Good Chaplain Week

Top of the evening everyone.

First of all, let me tell you what happened with the officer whose money I defaced. He did drink during the long weekend. Over the four days, he consumed a total of seven beverages. Putting my corps insignia on his money had an effect. He could feel it in his pocket all the time, and he at least had to think about it before spending. The corps insignia had the desired effect. Still, seven beverages is about seven beverages above the result I wanted. It could have been worse. I think it kept him from going higher. I claim here partial success.

I claim full success in a different area. This is one of the joys of the internet. In short, I saved the life of a Soldier in Korea this week. How did I do that? I am glad you asked. The soldier in Korea apparently was suicidal. He told a friend in the US. The friend told one of my Marines. The Marine called me. I spent Monday afternoon tracking down a chaplain in Korea. I told him that I only had a name and a region. Apparently, the peninsula is pretty long. The Soldier in question was over 200 miles away. They found him. The fuse on this one was lit. We stopped a suicide. The Soldier is in the hospital for psychological screening and help. There is no injury to report. I like it when it works.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Alcohol Drove Me to Deface Government Property

No...really. Last week was a strange week. I had two officers come to see me about alcohol concerns. You really do not see this in the officer ranks. Anyway, one of them was sent. Another one decided that there was a problem when he did not know the name of the person next to him one morning. Please note - he is not married. He referred himself to me. I will figure out how to push him towards a formal evaluation next week. In the meantime, he promises me at the end of every work day that he will not drink that evening. I check in with him the next morning. The challenge is that we are starting a four-day weekend now. I made him promise that he would not drink tonight. I made him promise that he would have a two drink maximum for the rest of the weekend (he has been able to stop himself when he has fallen off the wagon - that bodes well).

I asked him to give me his cash. This is where I defaced government property. I took my chaplain insignia (two tablets and a little Magen David) and attached it to his money. He was thus not able to spend without physically dealing with my tablets staring him in the face. Then I made him promise that he would pay for his drinks over the weekend, and made clear that I wanted my insignia back on Monday morning. I will check in with him every day over the weekend. I will let you all know how it went.

Next week - formal evaluation for him.

Happy Thanksgiving to all the United States readers out there. To all of the Canadians, most Jews in the US celebrate Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Desperate Times Yield Desperate Measures

Today, I went on the tunnel rats tour. We went to see some of the tunnels that the Japanese used during the US invasion of the island. We saw three different tunnels.

One of the tunnels was there strictly as a military tunnel. It was cleared out. There was a network of carved tunnels within, yielding more than one way to get out of every room.

The third tunnel was combined for military and civilian. There was nothing elaborate here. We all commented on this one that the tour advertisement should have included clear advice on wearing hiking boots. It was steep, rocky, and wet getting down to it. Once inside, it did not flatten out. It remained steep, rocky, and wet. The stalagmites and stalactites were beautiful. I got a picture of one that looks like an apple.

One of things that happened during the war was that the Japanese army told the civilians hiding in the tunnels about all of the atrocities that the United States would visit on them if they were captured. In one tunnel (not one we saw today), 850 Okinawans committed suicide rather than risk those atrocities.

We did not come across any unexploded ordnance. 5000 pounds of it are removed from the island monthly, to the point that we had a brief on the importance of not touching anything we could not identify.

Shabbat Shalom

Hi all....

This was a strange Shabbat. The forces of evil just wanted to hinder my observance. I left my lights on when I left for services. On my way back after tefillot, the police are gathered in the street. We have a habu viper headed down the street. They captured him. I understand that they will milk him to make antivenin, and then release him up north where there is a habu reserve. Anyway, while gone, housekeeping went in. They turned off all of my lights, with the exception of the bedroom and the bathrom. So I made my Shabbat dinner (peanut butter and jelly - I keep it light). I took it and ate in the lobby of where I am staying. The next morning, I stepped out of my room. When I came back, housekeeping had gotten the bedroom light also. It also rained all day.

On the positive side, I had a lovely day. I knocked off about 275 pages of "Grapes of Wrath." It has been a long time. I had forgotten how good a writer John Steinbeck is.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Treif Treif Treif

Good afternoon all....

Every once in a while, I enjoy a shot of tequila. Sometimes, people will ask me about the little worm. I tell them it goes very well in spaghetti sauce (kidding). With the little worm, it is no longer tequila. It is mezcal. It is most certainly not kosher. The worm renders all sorts of kashrut problems, even if it is less than a sixtieth.

In my life, I never thought I would see something like that. I have never seen a bottle of mezcal. Today, I have seen way beyond that. It starts with sake, to which the distiller adds a habu viper. That image will stay with me for a long time. Next time I am there, I will have the camera with me. The picture is just too much to resist. In the meantime, I am copying a link so you can read about that on your own. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trimeresurus_flavoviridis

Anyway, one of my loyal followers asked me about the Jewish congregation here on island. They are an eclectic group, as most military congregations are. They are from everywhere. Most of us are what I call geographical orphans. Our families are elsewhere. I usually have about 17-20 on a Friday evening. There are no Shabbat morning services, much to my chagrin. I may start one, depending on how many are interested. Keren would be especially thrilled. It seems that the children are all young ladies, aged 8-10. Come to think of it, Gavi would probably like that too. They are thirsty for rabbinic leadership. With the shortage of Navy Rabbis, they sometimes go for long periods without a rabbinic presence.

The Jewish Chapel is small. I have seats in there for about 22, but room for a dozen more. It has a fairly complete library, to which I will add a few things while I am here. As well, I hope to have the Seabees build a nice reading table for it. Right now, there is no table suitable for Torah reading.

Finally, today is 10 November 2010. 235 years ago at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, the Continental Congress authorized two battalions of Marines to be established. The Corps has a storied history, taking place throughout the world. We wish a happy birthday and Semper Fidelis to the Marines.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mom always told me...

...not to go shopping when I am hungry. Let's expand on that just a bit. I also could not go shopping on Sunday morning. I go on bicycle, and it was raining. Last, being hungry with a backpack means multiple shopping trips. Let us then expand on Mom's rule. Never go shopping when you are hungry, when you missed your last shopping day, and when your only means of conveyance has you with your groceries on your back. I was able to do it in two trips today. Luckily, the commissary is not that far. I was going to buy peanuts, but they were not nut-free.

Anyway, I sent up a recommendation this week to name the Jewish Congregation on Base for Corporal Samuel Gross, the only Jewish Marine to earn (not win!!) the Medal of Honor (I will switch back to Canadian spelling when I am back in that country). Hopefully, it will be approved. The congregation voted unanimously on that name.

I now have my sixth e-mail account. One more, and I should be able to rest. This one is sean.c.gorman@usmc.mil. Feel free to ignore it. I can check all of my others with no difficulty.

I hope all is well out there in Blog-follower-ville.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Stormy Weather

So, since no one voted on my name for the typhoon report, I am going to go with “Stormy Weather.” The reason is that next week, we switch to our winter uniforms. As such, the dress uniform will be…..blues.

Anyway, Choba was most certainly a typhoon. The wind blew. The rain fell. It was quite an event to watch. I heard of some house damage, but the only evidence I saw was branches everywhere. Past that, it seems to have been a mouse that roared. We all got a day off of work for it. I only wish that they had gotten us that message the night before. I would not have set my alarm.

Since then, I took a long bicycle ride to see the ruins of Katsuren Castle. Clearly there was something there. What struck me about it was the location. It was perched quite high. The castle lies high up on a peninsula, with a clear view of Kinbu Bay and of the Philippine Sea. As well, you can see some of the outlying islands from there.

Life is otherwise calm. I am going to take the tunnel rats tour in a couple of weeks to see where the Japanese fortified themselves for the invasion of Okinawa in 1945. We have a 96-hour weekend coming next week for Veteran's Day. I will most certainly do something, though I have yet to figure out what.