Thank You For Your Service  

Posted by Stan Harrington

In the past 12 years, the brave men and women of our armed forces have spilled their blood in the sand.  Our soldiers and Marines have carried the fight to the terrorists and to those counties that harbored them. Our Navy has maintained a constant patrol of the seas surrounding these countries launching aircraft to support the ground troops, our SEALS on the ground carrying out missions that only a few can accomplish.  Our Air Forces making long flights from the U.S. to the war zone also to support our troops on the ground. We have seen so many come home in flag draped caskets, others returning home wounded and dismembered. These are the men and women that answered the call and fulfilled their missions and obligations in which they swore to uphold. As Americans, we were quick to call them "heroes", although most of them would have preferred to be just acknowledged for their service, they were simply doing what they we trained to do and their personal obligation to serve. Messages and patriotic postings were made on all the social medias, thanking the veterans for their service and to support our military families. Grand shows of patriotism were staged at all sporting events and wherever a group formed, thanking these Americans for their service.

During Presidents Carter’s administration, your military forces were drastically cut, including our naval fleet which was hindered form going to sea because of the lack of supplies and manpower.  On my last trip into Vietnam, I had division which was comprised of three Petty Officers including myself and fifteen seaman. My minimum regular complement for my division was set at forty-three personnel.  The morning we pulled out of Pearl Harbor, a caravan of paddy wagons appeared on the pier and unloaded our new crew members.  The Brig at Naval Station Pearl Harbor had been cleaned out and those that were incarcerated were our new crew members, untrained and undisciplined. 

“Peace Through Strength” was a predominant plank in President Reagans presidential campaign, his vow was to restore the strength of our military services including the construction of a five hundred ship Navy. A goal that he completed midway through his second term. During this tenure in office, our nation’s economic conditions escalated, due in part to reconstruction of military services.  At the same time, we saw the Berlin Wall fall as well as the Soviet Union dissolving as a nation and adversary.  Again, due in part to our strong military stance and their lack of ability to maintain their stance in comparison.

In July 1973, I was I a different aspect of the Navy while assigned to shore duty.  I was Navy Recruiter in western Colorado.  It was at that time that our Military Draft System concluded and we made the transition to the “All Volunteer Forces”.  This transfer of personnel acquisition did not concern me, the Navy had not used the draft system since WW II.  The “All Volunteer Force” has worked for us very well since that time in both our Commissioned Officer and Non-Commissioned ranks.  However, my primary concern was and I made it abundantly clear at the time, eventually we would have a Commander in Chief and other elected office holders that had no previous military experience. I feared that budgets would be cut and hesitation would be used in committing our military in times of turmoil. This has been the case in the past six years.

In the fourth year of the Presidency of the President Obama, the strength of our naval fleet had been reduced to less ships than prior to World War II.  This occurred at the same time that China and Russia was increasing the size of their naval fleet to include aircraft carriers and support ships for those carriers.  Neither these countries had developed a “carrier” prior to the current administration.  By federal law, the Department of the Navy is required to maintain a fleet of ten aircraft carriers. Today, we have nine carriers on line with additional cuts coming.  To accomplish the primary mission of the Navy, in keeping our sea-lanes open to commerce transportation, they patrol the waters of the world to complete that mission.  As well, they maintain a steady strike force in the event that it is required.  In our immediate past, we have seen several incidents where they were not available to fulfill that requirement.  The 6th Fleet of the Navy has always maintained a posture of two carrier task forces in the Mediterranean Sea.  In order to complete their primary mission of insuring the Suez Canal and the Straits of Gibraltar is open to traffic, a bitter lesson we learned in World War II.  Today, we do not maintain that posture in the Mediterranean Sea.   In the past two years at least three incidents occurred with no presence of our sea power.  The first occurred, when two destroyer class war ships of the Iranian Navy left their home waters and passed thru the Suez Canal and into the Mediterranean Sea to park off shore from Israel. There was no carrier task force to welcome them and demonstrate “Peace Thru Strength”.  The second incident occurred with a loss of life when our consulate was attacked and destroyed in Benghazi by organized terrorists resulting in the loss of life of our Ambassador and three security personnel. The Administration states that there were no resources available to render assistance in the attack. If the normal carrier task forces had been maintained in the Mediterranean, those resources would have been available.  Aircraft could have been launched and reached the area in a short period of time.  Not ideal to utilize, but just the presence of our aircraft flying low and fast over the heads of the terrorists would have given them time to reflect on their wisdom of attacking U.S. soil.  As well, each carrier also has a contingent of Marines and sailors that make up an organized “boarding party” that could have been airlifted into the “hot zone” by the carrier helicopters if they were in range.  Today, the American public still has not received the true answers as to what occurred at Benghazi.  The third and most recent occurrence was just a couple of months ago.  Syria was utilizing chemical warfare against the peoples of their state. When confirmation was achieved, the President drew a “red line in the sand” and ordered our ships to the area, two fast frigates was the total show of force that we demonstrated, as no carrier task force was available in the area.  Although, very capable two fast frigates does not have the desired impact as a super carrier and all of her escorts.

During the length of the administration of President Obama, there has been more Flag Ranked Officers (Admirals and Generals) retire from military service than all of the previous Presidents combined!  Earliest retirement possible of senior enlisted personnel is at an all-time high in each of the services. Re-enlistment levels for first term enlistment personnel is at an all-time low, these are our mid management level personnel.  Their retention in the service is critical for later development into senior enlisted management.  Low morale is the biggest impact that the services are currently experiencing due to longer deployments and curtailment of benefits.

Today, another nail was pounded into the coffin.  When the Vietnam Veterans returned home, they were spat upon, ridiculed and called every name in the book, demonstrations were common place on our college campuses.  Naval vessels returning to their home port in San Francisco had cans of red paint dropped on them from the Golden Gate Bridge.  But these veterans endured as they were completing a mission that their country asked them to.  Today, it is the veterans of the past twelve years being attacked for accomplishing their mission.  Not by the citizens of their country but by their government.

It was announced today by the Commander in Chief’s Administration, via his Secretary of Defense, Chuck Nagel the immediate outlook for the future of our military services.  Politics make strange bed fellows, Chuck Nagel, Secretary of Defense must know the effects that this “new policy” is going to have on the military services, but lacks the fortitude to set the example.  Chuck Nagel, was at one time Sargent Nagel, U.S. Army serving in Vietnam and among other medals for his service, he was also awarded two Purple Hearts for wounds suffered in combat.  As well, where are the Generals and Admirals, why are they walking in lock step with the Commander in Chief other than for their own benefit and being awarded another star to display on their shoulder boards.

It was announced today by the Administration that the personnel levels of the military services will be “cut” to lower levels than we saw prior to World II.  This means that longer and more regular deployments will be required by the remaining personnel.  Just as important, it also means that our services will be so weakened that a response to a national emergency will be difficult.  When we entered into the 2nd phase of World War II in the Pacific we had a draft system.  Thousands of men and Women did not wait to be drafted, they enlisted.  In today’s “All Volunteer Services” this will be more difficult to achieve.  So, first we saw a reduction of the Navy fleet reduce back to WW II standards, now we are seeing our personnel being cut back to the same time frame.

However, that is only part of this package of gratitude for service.  Currently, the Department of Defense Budget is cut by 53% of the overall budget with additional cuts forthcoming from the “sequester cuts” developed two years ago. Additional cuts that were announced today to our military and military families is the curtailment of future pay raises for those on active duty to the amount of no more than 1%, cost of living increases, reduction or elimination of Commissary (grocery stores) privileges, additional costs in medical care, and reduction of “on base housing”.  Welcome home, men and women of our military services, we appreciate your dedicated service and the sacrifices that you and your families have endured the past twelve years.             

Now it is to me for each of us to step forward, make our voices heard to each of our elected officials that these “employees” are the most dedicated and underpaid employees of any of those serving in our government. Write to your congressional delegation and tell them, do not ask, to vote no on these drastic cuts to our men and women that serve us so well.               


Posted by Stan Harrington

The following Veterans Day 2013, it was so good to see so many of you posting stories and pictures of the veterans in your lives.  Their stories need to be told, the sacrifices that they made to insure the freedoms that we hold sacred as Americans.  Whether they serve on the land, in the air, or upon the seas, they are the protectors of our freedoms.  As well, they are Ambassadors of our country.  On foreign soil the example they set is how America is judged by the host nation.  They are most often viewed as “warriors” or “conquerors “, seldom is the respect shown for the thousands that render aid and assistance in the time of natural disaster anywhere throughout the world.

However, at the same time in our own nation we have a tendency to overlook or do not recognize some of our veterans and the sacrifices they have made except on special days, such as Veterans Day.  Each and every veteran that has served will have “ghosts” or stories they cannot or wish not to disclose.  That is how they insulate themselves and the reality that they have faced.  Any man or woman that has honorably served their nation deserves this respect despite their age, color of skin, beliefs, or handicaps incurred while on active duty.  Case in point, do you recognize the two individuals in the picture attached.  One is easily identified as President Richard Nixon.  The other, I have heard him called every name in the book over the years.   To name just a few, “cripple”, insane, war monger, idiot,  fool, grouchy old man, worthless, and some that I will not print.   If I were to ever meet this gentleman, I would be humbled in his presence.  Out of admiration and respect, I would refer to him as “Sir”.  Despite serving his nation for the majority of his life, he is deserving of that respect as a veteran.  The next time you see this ”patriot” overlook his limp and other handicaps  you might observe.  Disregard his political party affiliation or philosophy; don’t be so quick to judge him.  The second man in the photo with the President is Senator John McCain, R-Arizona.  In this photo he is Lieutenant Commander John McCain III, U.S. Navy.  This picture was taken the latter part of March 1973.  This picture was taken at a “meet and greet” ceremony hosted by the President.  Just days prior to this meeting, Commander McCain and 142 other military men had been “guests” of North Vietnam as Prisoners of War.  One hundred and forty-three men were released on March 14, 1973 following their stay at the “Hanoi Hilton” in North Vietnam.  Commander McCain had been their guest from September 30, 1967 to March 14, 1973, a total of five years and six months as a Prisoner of War.  Those handicaps that you observe and often make fun of, were imposed on him by his “hosts”.

On July 29, 1967, Lieutenant McCain was sitting in the cockpit of his A-4 Skyhawk awaiting a catapult launch from the carrier U.S.S. Forrestal  in the South China Sea.  A missile from a second aircraft accidently launched, striking his aircraft or the aircraft sitting next to him, immediately exploding on impact.  He was able to open his cockpit, crawl out and get a hold of the refueling probe of his aircraft to get down to the deck.  On fire, he rolled to extinguish the flames.  In this accident, 134 sailors were killed and heavy damage to the carrier Forrestal.  She would return to the states for repairs.  Instead of returning with the U.S.S.  Forrestal; Lieutenant McCain volunteered to transfer to Attack Aircraft Squadron 163, embarked on the carrier U.S.S. Oriskany due to their shortage of pilots.  It was from this carrier that Lieutenant McCain would launch on the morning of September 30, 1967 on a mission over North Vietnam.  Over the targeted zone, a Russian made, ground fired missile would strike his aircraft.  He managed to bailout of his aircraft but was captured as soon as he was on the ground.  He received little medical attention by his captors.  In total, Lieutenant Commander McCain flew twenty three missions over North Vietnam.

As a “guest” of the “Hanoi Hilton” he was subject to constant and intensive interrogations by his hosts who had great difficulty in understanding the Genève Convention Code of Conduct in the treatment of Prisoners of War.  It was not until late into his interment that his “hosts” discovered that he was the son of the highest ranking officer in the Pacific, Admiral John McCain II, Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet (CINCPAC).  They offered him “early release” in hopes that it would influence some of the other POW’s to divulge information for their early release.  Lieutenant McCain refused their offer and stood by their policy that prisoners would be released by the order that they were taken prisoner.  Through treaty negations, the one hundred forty three Prisoners of War would be released on March 14, 1973.

Coming home, after his recover and rehabilitation period, Lieutenant McCain would return to active duty and re-qualified for flying status.   Being advanced to Commander, he would assume the Command of an Aircraft Squadron based out of Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. Following this Command, he would retire from the Navy in 1981 as a Captain (equivalent to Colonel in other military services).  Captain McCain’s Naval Honors include the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion Of Merit, Purple Heart, Distinguished Flying Cross and a host of other decorations.

Perhaps, now the next time you see Senator McCain standing at the podium on the floor of the Senate, you might want to consider what he has endured and willingly gives in the service of his country.   He is a veteran, a patriot, and the type of Commander that I would be proud to serve under. 

As a side notes, one other Naval Aviators that was a guest of the “Hanoi Hilton” and released the same time that Commander McCain was released was Commander “Marty” Lewis.  I was proud to serve under his Command after he returned to active duty. Perhaps, one of the most inspirational Commanders that I served with during my career. 

As well, there are several personal coincidences that have occurred that I thought interesting.  During WWII, Admiral John S. McCain I served in both WW I and WWII.  On May 18, 1945 (my birthday) he raised his pennant on the carrier U.S.S. Shangri-La  (the first ship that I served on in the Navy starting in 1964) as Commander Aircraft South Pacific Forces he controlled all aircraft operations in the South Pacific, including those of the U.S. Army Air Forces. Terry’s dad spoke highly of him even if he was in the Navy.  At the same time, Commander John S. McCain, II was a Submarine Captain in WW II.  During part of my tenure in the Pacific Operating Area, he would elevate to Commander Pacific Fleet (CINCPAC) which is also during part of the timeframe that Commander McCain was a Prisoner of War.                      





Fifty Years Have Passed  

Posted by Stan Harrington

(Continued From Facebook)
My first duty station was Recruit Training Center, Great Lakes, Illinois for my initial training. Within a matter of weeks, our training was halted for two weeks due to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  The base was on lock down and the military put on alert.  Graduating from Recruit Training, I was transferred to Navy Submarine School in New London, Connecticut.  Graduating in May 1964.  Prior to my enlistment, the nuclear powered submarine, U.S.S. Thresher was lost in Long Island Sound with all souls onboard.  The lengthy investigation as to the cause of the accident created long waiting lists for graduates to get orders to a submarine since the nuclear fleet was grounded until the investigation was complete.  I opted to go to sea on a surface ship, the U.S.S. Shangri-La CVA-38 out of Mayport, Florida.  I fell in love with the “Shang” and would remain onboard her until October 1967. Your first ship is like your first love, she is always special.  She would carry me to the Mediterranean Sea on two different occasions for eight month deployments; numerous trips into the North Atlantic and a constant barrage of “sorties” into the Caribbean Sea.  The Atlantic transit from Mayport, Florida to Naples, Italy is 4,450 nautical miles.  From 1964 to 1967, the total nautical miles onboard the Shangri-La was likely in the 65,000 nautical mileage range.  While onboard the Shangri-La, I was temporarily assigned to train as an Assault Boat Coxswain in Dam Neck, Virginia.   

In 1967, married by now, we would transfer to Naval Station, Adak, Alaska where two of my children were born, Shane and Shana.  My duties on Adak consisted of being the Leading Petty Officer for the two structural fires stations and the one crash Station at the Airport.  We would remain on Adak for two and half years.  From NS Adak, I was temporarily assigned to the Armed Forces Police Detachment in Vallejo, California enroute to my next homeport of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and reported aboard the U.S.S. Ponchatoula AO-148, a fleet tanker, assuming the role as Leading Boatswain Mate.   Within two weeks of reporting onboard, I was underway again enroute to the western Pacific to support the fleet on Yankee Station off the coast of Vietnam and supply the swift boats operating in the rivers of Vietnam.  Taking breaks to take on fuel in Subic Bay, Philippines we would make sorties into the Korean Sea to refuel the fleet operating in that area.  After seven months, we returned to Pearl Harbor to operate locally and served as a secondary recovery vessel for Apollo 14.  After nine years on sea duty, it was finally my turn to rotate to shore duty. 

My request was that I be assigned to Navy Recruiting duty.  Completing my training in San Diego, I was assigned to Navy Recruiting District, Denver, Colorado and ultimately assigned as Recruiter in Charge in Durango, Colorado where our second daughter was born.  In 1973, I was selected as “Salesman of the Year” by the Denver Branch of the Marketing Sales Executives of America.  The same year, I was selected as “Recruiter of the Year” for Area 6, in ceremonies in Washington D.C. in meeting with Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, the Navy had just came out with a new rating called the Navy Counselor.  He asked if I wanted to convert my current rating from Boatswain Mate to Navy Counselor.  You really can’t say no to the CNO, besides I also enjoyed that type of duty.  Bypassing the selection process for the new rating, I left Washington D.C. as the first Navy Counselor in the Navy.  I would remain on recruiting duty in Durango for another year until I transferred to Grand Junction, Colorado as the Recruiter in Charge and Zone Supervisor for the Western Slope of Colorado. Two years passed and once again it was time to rotate back to sea.

Returning to sea duty, I would return as a Navy Counselor, my deck days were over, although I did miss being a Boatswain Mate.  I was assigned to Attack Squadron 95, the “Green Lizards” flying the A-6 Aircraft. In the squadron, I was assigned to the Executive Department which was not a very big department; it consisted of the Commanding Officer, Executive Officer, Command Master Chief and I.   My arrival in the squadron came right at the time that we were scheduled to make a Western Pacific Deployment onboard the carried U.S.S. Coral Sea home ported out of San Francisco.  Packing up all of our equipment, office supplies, etc. we flew down to San Francisco to board the carrier.  Once onboard and underway, as soon as we cleared the Golden Gate Bridge, our aircraft as well as the other squadrons would fly the aircraft onboard to make the Pacific transit.  Enroute to the Philippines, we would make a layover in Pearl Harbor and take on last minute supplies.  Detaching from Pearl Harbor some of our aircraft would detach from the carrier and fly to the Philippines due to the dual mission of the carrier.  Again, operating in the area of the old “Yankee Station”.  Midway through the cruise we rotated to operate in the Sea of Japan and Korean Sea.  This particular deployment lasted six months until we returned to San Francisco and ultimately Whidbey Island.   Returning to Whidbey Island, I would be selected and advanced to Navy Counselor Chief Petty Officer.   Our second son would be born on Whidbey Island, Oak Harbor, Washington.  Later in the year, I took leave to visit my family in Colorado.  Upon my return to the squadron, Commander Craig, my Commanding Officer called me into his office for coffee.  We chatted about the squadron and personnel.  Finally he asked me if I ever wanted to return to recruiting duty.  Replying that I did, he smiled and said, I was hoping you would say that and handed me a message that was ten days old.  The message was that he Navy was going to establish a permanent assignment to recruiting duty due to the all-volunteer concept.  I noticed that the deadline for the applications had already passed while I was on leave.  He laughed and rr3plied that is why he was happy that I wanted to return to recruiting duty because he had submitted my application and I had been selected, it was only then he handed me my orders to Navy recruiting district, Seattle, Washington.

Reporting in at the main station in Seattle, I was then transferred to Anchorage, Alaska as the Navy Recruiter in Charge for the State of Alaska.  I would never return to the main command in Seattle.  After two years, I expanded our offices in Alaska to include an office in Fairbanks and one in Juneau.   Spent a lot of travel time between the three offices assisting the recruiters that manned the offices for me. 

In the spring of 1983, I had been selected for Senior Chief.  The Command in Seattle called me and said that the Recruiting Command was looking for a Zone Supervisor in Oklahoma City to manage several stations and that I had been selected.  Talking with the Chief Recruiter, I told him I would call him back the next morning.  I counted up my time and had the requirement to retire, although I would have to extend or reenlist for two more years to accept Senior Chief.  I talked to Terry that evening pertaining to our options.  We mutually agreed it was time to retire and stay in Alaska. The next morning, I called the Chief Recruiter and announced that I would have the time required for retirement in August and intended to do so.  The ironic thing was that I had been in Alaska almost four years, I had never returned to our main headquarters in Seattle.

In August 1983, I retired from the active duty Navy with twenty years of service to the Navy Fleet Reserve for the remainder of my ten years, subject to recall.  My retirement ceremony took place at the new Federal Court House, just four blocks from the old Court House that I had enlisted at in 1963.  In late October 1993, I received a Certified Envelope, enclosed was my Honorable Discharge for serving thirty years in the Naval Service.   It was a great career, to do over again; I would choose the same option.  As I mentioned previously, your first ship is always your true love, “Lady Shang” took me to sea as a boy and returned me as man.  Fifty years later, it is a good day!  


Benghazi Raid  

Posted by Stan Harrington

Our Ambassador and his Aide was killed in this attack, but just as important there were two former Navy SEAL’s that sacrificed their lives in order that others could escape to the airport.  Until just a few years ago, very few American’s even know about the SEAL’s, which they and their family preferred.  There were two ex-Navy SEAL’s in Benghazi the morning of the raid.  They were both at a CIA Annex about a mile from the Consulate.  Hearing gunfire coming from the Consulate they requested permission to leave the annex and render assistance at the Consulate.  Three times, they were denied and told to “stand down”.  These two men were Tyrone (Ty) Woods and Chris Doherty.   Disobeying orders, they proceeded to the Consulate, arriving, they assisted a number of individuals in escaping and boarding a bus to the airport. They went back into the Consulate, under fire to find the Ambassador and his aide.  The remaining four would lose their life in the ensuing fire fight and from smoke inhalation inside the “safe room”.   If Chief Ty Woods and Chris Doherty were still on active duty they would be likely candidates for the Congressional Medal of Honor for their actions and disregard of their own lives to save others.  However, the two of them could be entitled to nomination of the Congressional Gold Medal which is the civilian equivalent to the Medal of Honor.
Chris Doherty served seven years in the Naval Service as a Navy SEAL.   Tyrone Snowden Woods was a Senior Chief Petty Officer in the Navy having served on active duty from 1990-2010 with SEAL Team 1, 3, and 5.  Retiring from active duty he became a private contractor.  Although, at the time of his death he was still in the Navy.  Military personnel that retire with 20 years of active duty, is still obligated to serve an additional ten years or any equivalent in the Fleet Reserve until a combined total of 30 years is completed.  They are subject to recall to active duty at any time.                        

Christmas Past  

Posted by Stan Harrington

During this, our greatest  Holiday Season of the year, our culture and values have changed through the years.  Today, via the mass media, we are bombarded with the commercialization of Christmas.  Although,it is an important business season for our economy, I maintain that there is a better way to market the season.  I see parents getting stressed out to get their children everything that is on their Christmas list, despite the fact the majority of the Christmas season expenses are put on a credit card and paid through the New Year.  Modern technology and the electronic generation adds to this since every child wants or thinks they need the latest electronic gadget on the market.  Parents feel guilty if they cannot provide the things that their children request from Santa.  Today, a parent takes their young child into the mall to see Santa Claus, they sit on his lap and have their picture taken, of course at a small expense to the parent.

I am not naive enough to believe we can return to Christmas Past, but like many things in our lives we can learn from the past and apply to the present.  As a pre-teenager, I lived in a small rural community in western Colorado.  Predominantly, it was a ranching and farming community.  At that time, the population base was around 5,000 residents.  Each Christmas, I thank my mother for teaching myself and my siblings the meaning of Christmas.  But, I also thank the community for similar values.  Today, in this community, in the center of town is the movie theatre, the Fox Theatre.  The last time I visited the community, it was still there and still in business.  As a child, the theatre always had a Saturday matinee, cost of admission was a dime.  But, Christmas was very special.  On the Saturday before Christmas, the Fox would host a free matinee for the children of the community.  It would consist of two cartoons, the news reel, and a full feature movie.  Following the movie, the lights would come on, Christmas carols would start playing, and then the Mayor would make a short speech and introduce a special guest, Santa Claus. 
Santa would not sit in a big chair, he preferred to stand up with a Elf standing next to his side.  He to, would make a very brief speech, highlighting important things like school work and listening to our parents. When he finish, those of us in the audience, would file out by row and proceed in line to meet Santa.  As we approached him, he would extend his white gloved hand and shake your hand. As he chatted with you, his Elf would appear with a brown paper sack, a lunch bag nearly filled with a variety of candies and always some type of fruit, orange or apple.  In later years, I learned about Santa's visit.  The Fox Theatre would provide the Free Movie, the merchants in town contributed all of the contents of the bag by either donating cash or product.  Following the meet and greet of Santa, we would return to our seats and a choir would come in and sing a variety of carols, with Santa leading them.  At the conclusion, he would depart the theatre, step up onto the City Fire Truck, wait for all of us to clear the building and with sirens blaring head down the street from our sight.  Years later, as an adult, do I believe in Santa?  I do because I saw him through the eyes of a child, I touched his hand, and he spoke to me.
Walking home, the majority of the homes were decorated for Christmas, City Hall and every church would have a naivety scene, some them even having live animals at the manger.  The homes would decorate with lights, but they did not keep time with blaring music, but every home would have an outside tree decorated.  It always intrigued me, but some of these homes would have lights in the shape of a star in their front window.  The stars would always be solid blue or gold.  It was later that I learned that those stars indicated that they had a member on active duty if it was Blue.  If the family had lost a member of the family on active duty, the star would be Gold. 
A family of seven, my farther made a living of buying and selling horses to supplement his guiding and dude ranch business in the summer and fall.  My mother would work in the local restaurants as a cook to provide additional income.  She would start in early November and start preparing for Christmas, making candies, cookies, fruit cake, and reviewing or lists to Santa.  We never got everything on our list, but she always insured that we had at least one gift from our list, two if there was a surplus of cash, and of course school clothes for the remainder of the school year.  She made it possible and we never felt disappointed because we did not get everything we wanted.  We got much more than she realized she was giving us.  We established Christmas traditions that are still practiced in our home today. 
"Merry Christmas To All" 

Summer 2011  

Posted by Stan Harrington

The northerly winds are starting to show on a regular basis, marking the end of the summer and the changing of the season's.  The fall season will be short lived and once again we will experience the onslaught of winter. The wild and domestic flowers have passed their prime, but we have experienced a great summer growing season. These pictures were taken at our home in Anchor Point, Alaska. 

Front Yard Rock Garden

The Delphiniums experienced a great summer, three of the nine beds exceeded eight feet in height between 5/18/2011 to their peak the latter part of August.  The ground cover at the base of the White Delphiniums are English Daisies.
We raised four varieties of Lilly's this season, a hardy flower for our conditions.
The Dahlias ~ this is the first year that I have attempted to raise Dahlias, although late bloomers, they were a great addition.  A very sturdy plant that do well under our windy conditions since we live on a bluff
 and susceptible to wind.  Plan on increasing to several beds this next growing season.  
My all time favorite ground cover flower, the Livingston Daisy. By planting them close, you can create a bed of blossoms that are vibrant in color and hardy.  They are also known as "Sun Flowers" because they will close up under low light conditions and blossom in full color with a touch of sunlight. A great flower requiring very little maintenance. 
English Daisy
Lilly Bed Combined With Plox, Columbine, and Fern.

Happy Birthday ~ My Good Friend  

Posted by Stan Harrington

This evening, I have sat and searched out hundreds of poems to best describe how I feel about a special friend of mine.  Then it dawned on me, words of poetry cannot describe our friendship, our bond that has existed for the past nine years.  Between, the two of us, we do not need to share the spoken word, our feelings for one another is expressed through our eyes, a slight movement of the hand, and from the heart.
You have been there, at times when I needed a friend the most.  In grief at our loss, as the tears swelled, you would awaken from your nap, come to me and lay your head upon my lap.  No words were spoken, but as your eyes look into mine, you were telling me that everything would be just fine. 
Friend, you have done well.  You were eager to learn, but more eager to please.  We worked together for hours to learn to retrieve, as you progressed from singles to triples, I realized that you were training me. You taught me patience, by showing me heart.  You showed me your ability to learn without threats of being hit or with a shock.  In return, all you ask for was a little playtime with the ball, just you and me.
We have traveled thousands of miles, memories all good, the nights we spent camped out and waiting for first light.  We have been fortunate because together, we were able to enjoy some great sights.
The past nine years have slipped by fast, but looking back old friend, we have had a blast. We have had some rough times, but we have also shared the good, with each event by my side you stood.

Happy Birthday To My Good Friend, "Dutch" 

Dutch Harbor Dutchman ~ "Dutch"
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
Date of Birth: March 30, 2002 ~ Dutch Harbor, Alaska
May 18, 2002
Our First Day Together
My Birthday Present
Anchor Angler, Anchor Point, Alaska 

First Visit To Friends Home ~ Meryl Wolford

"Marking Retrieve In The Snow"

Anchor Point Beach Grass ~ Waiting For Release Signal For A Retrieve

Day At The Beach With His Buddy Ruger

"Playtime In The Snow"