Monday, September 30, 2013

It's Official!!! I'm Related to a Union Civil War Veteran!!!

Actually two of them. My Great grandmothers brothers on my father's side enlisted in the Union army. One is Timothy Kiley and the other is Jeremiah Kiley. I've done some preliminary research and Timothy was in the 11th New York Infantry, while Jeremiah was in the 11th New York and later on in the 102nd New York Infantry.

I've sent away for their records and will know more when I get them. In fact when I do get them, I can apply for membership in the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War since I am related by blood to a Civil war soldier. I would have preferred a bona fide Rebel, but I'll take what I can get. Can't wait to read their records.

Thanks to Cousin Irene for putting me on their scent. Now I will have a nice project to do in my retirement.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Blogging About A Blog...

I am putting together another blog for the Rockland Civil War Round Table. So far the format I believe is pretty decent, color scheme is ok. I need more articles and photos from the members though. it is at Rockland Civil War Round Table I like the tools to use setting up the blog. But in this one case, I'm a little annoyed. One has the ability to format the blogs individually to a certain extent. However, they do not offer what I think is a suitable background for a Civil War oriented  blog, so I went with something that made more sense color wise then anything else.

Hope the folks like it.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Battle of Sharpsburg, September 17, 1862 Can be Consuming!!

151 years ago today, the Battle of Sharpsburg was fought in Maryland. It is also known as the Battle of Antietam if you are a Northerner. It was a very bloody battle in our bloody Civil War with about 23,000 casualties on both sides. That is more Americans killed and wounded in one day then any other day in U.S. History.

If you are like me, you are a True Civil War Nut and think about it daily. Well September 17th, 19 years ago today proved to be an occasion that demonstrated to my then bosses how all consuming that hobby was to me. I wrote an owner's approval letter to get permission to spend money on a project. So I typed it on my computer, printed it on company letterhead, signed it and walked it down to the owner's rep. A few minutes later, he called me up on the phone and said "where is your head, today?" Confused, I said "What do you mean?" Gerry then said the OA I submitted was dated September 17, 1862. "Your kidding" I replied, then explained to him the significance of the day.

The battle while Tactically a draw, at least stalled Lee and allowed Lincoln to claim a moral victory after which he wrote the Emancipation Proclamation. It also revealed to my bosses, how deep i was into the subject  :-)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Rockland Civil War Round Table kicks off another Season

This Wednesday, the Rockland County Civil War Round Table started its meetings again after Summer Recess. Our guest lecturer, Jay Jorgensen, discussed the role of the 5th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry at the Battle of Shiloh. It was interesting; but, what made it doubly so, was that I visited the battlefield about 15 years ago. Most of it is preserved and in pristine condition, so it was easy to identify with the presenter's commentary.

On a related note, I was presented with a plaque from the Round Table for my efforts within the Civil War community in 1998. It had hung on the wall by my desk. However, I lost track of it when I was RIFFED. Just recently, I tore through the boxes that had been mailed to me and found it wrapped up in the third box I opened, whew! I would have been annoyed if it had disappeared because it was a nice gesture on the part of my fellow Civil War peers.

I'm glad the Round Table season has started up again, it is nice to be amongst those who "still hear the guns". If anyone is local to Rockland County New York, our meetings are at the American Legion Hall in Pearl River on the first Wednesday of each month. The meeting starts at 7:30 PM and is ably hosted by our President Paul R. Martin.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


I can't take it anymore!!! I'm sick of the current idiotic controversy that people who have nothing better to do then stir up a hornet's nest over nothing!!! I have been a fan of the Washington Redskins since 1968. I love the team win, lose or draw. There is nothing wrong with the team's name, not a darn thing. But then again I'm a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant Male so in this politically correct world, my opinion means nothing.  I'm going to voice it anyway.

I am a large person, I wear 5XL shirts.I am big, therefore the name NY Giant's offends me, change it! I like animals, the name Miami Dolphins offends me, change it! As a history majory, I've studied enough U.S. History to understand our motives for separating from England were not as virtuous as we were taught as kids. Therefore the Name New England Patriots offends me, change it. I admired Benedict Arnold but I don't shove it down anyone's throat unless I am asked about it in a discussion. Also if I was an  American Indian, excuse me, I mean a North American Indigenous Person of the Red Race prior to 1607, I really should be upset at the San Francisco 49's. after all  they are named after a group of people that savaged the landscape and pushed everyone out of the way to satisfy their greed and avarice.

I am sure the name San Diego Padres offends someone out there so change it. How about the Cleveland Indians or Atlanta Braves. Change it, Change it, Change it. In fact why don't we go really stupid and change ALL the sports teams names to numbers, City names are not allowed. How would you like the 2's to play the 13's on Monday night Football.??????  What kind of rivalry will that inspire? Knock off all this garbage and play the game!!! Maybe someone will get assigned 666 then what!!!

Why isn't anyone complaining about the Dallas Cowboys??? Cowboys and Indians, remember when we were kids we played the game with cap guns. What was the object, get the bad guys, right? Well who are the bad guy? If the Cowboys were the bad guys how can you name a team after a group of people that assisted in stealing land from the Indians. If the Indians are the Bad guys, well now what, can you do...............??

And last but not least, the Saint John's University in NYC fell victim to Political Correctness some years ago. They changed their name from the Red Men to  The Red Storm. Red Storm are you kidding me, it sounds like they are worshiping communism now, right? So change it again. I say they should be the first in the new numbering system and they should change their name to Saint John's 01. But wait, someone will look at that and say that's a series of zeros and ones, oh no, we can't have that, that would offend people who don't like the binary  system and on and on and on..............

But my final note on this subject is simple. It is that most of the complainers are one note people. They have no concept of the world around them. Want an example. 1868 Washita Creek, Oklahoma, Custer's troops formed up to attack a largely defensive Indian village. What song did they use as a signal for attack? Gary Owen! In the 70's Gary Owen was adopted by today's 7th Cavalry as their song.   Now if I was an Indian, that would really be offensive; but who takes the time to learn these things.


My 9/11 Memories

Smoke plume from the Twin Towers courtesy of NASA, International Space Station.

 The figures quoted herein are inaccurate, these memories are taken from a site now defunct, I posted on each night during that fateful week primarily to let my friends know that I was OK and what was going on. All numbers outside my own personal experience were taken from local radio broadcasts.

Day 1, Seven weeks ago, I worked on Liberty street, just a couple of blocks from the Twin Towers. I was transferred uptown to 299 Park avenue. Worried about my former colleagues I called them for a status. My old building was evacuated since they could not run any syustems due to the dust and debris. Visibility was about three feet and several bodies were lying in the plaza. Uptown we went into our highest alert and pretty much shut the building down only allowing those essential to run the building to stay

The entire episode is surreal. In the morning, crossing the Hudson on a ferry, the twin towers were in full view. On the way home 14 hours later, there were no twin towers & a huge plume of black smoke. I walked all the way across Manhattan to the 54rd street piers stopping at Madison Avenue where I looked south and got a good view of the huge smoke plume. I turned and plodded on. We got to the ferry terminal and I hopped on board a Circle Line boat headed to Weehawken where I had parked my car. On the way home, I experienced something that seemed like it came straight out of a horror movie. There was a huge illuminated sign on the Turnpike that said.”All bridges and tunnels into Manhattan closed until further notice due to terrorist activity.” This morning on the way in smoke was still billowing from the site. Last night a third building 7 World Trade collapsed. Bottom line casualties are 200 fire fighters, 35 cops, about 8 to 10,000 people in the trade center. Population was estimated to be 20,000 at the time of the attack.

We should strike quick & hard, teach those b@stard$ that they can't take us down. Yesterday I had to rally the troops & keep them going. They wanted to go home. Kept them working, & show those terrorists that your routine will go on inspite of their attacks.

Coast Guard did a great job. They commandeered all boats, tugs, barges & fireboats. Turned them into ferries to get people out of Manhattan. It was literally a second Dunkirk, except for the Outbound upper level of the GW bridge, all other bridges & tunnels were closed.

Day 2 has come & gone. The last piece of the twin towers collapsed about 5:30 today. Earlier in the day, about 1 O'clock the wind shifted. It had been blowing out to sea. Smoke is now coming out of the south covering Manhattan with a brownish haze & awful stench. We had to close our outside air dampers the smell was so bad.The city is  quiet, some bridges & tunnels will reopen tomorrow. Last night it was so quiet we heard a cricket on Park Avenue. I am in because I am considered essential to run the business. If you are not essential they don't want you here. Parked the car in Weehawken & took the ferry across. The city is like a ghost town; a lot of people are traumatized by what happened. I continue to push the staff. I don't want them to think about it. Cut back on the  radios or TV. Dwelling on the matter won't help them.

The city is closed down on the East side from 34th street to the battery & on the west side from 42nd Street to the battery. 7th avenue is reserved for ambulances. I see NYC police cars, State Troopers, the Army National Guard & even Coasties all around me. We have left over free food & juice from lunch. The cafeteria gave meals to those of us who are staying in the city, seeing it through these terrible hours. We called the police & asked them if they wanted the food. They came with a van bringing the food downtown for the rescuers/searchers.

  Day 3 As I crossed the Hudson this morning, I looked at where the twin towers once were, smoke still billowing upwards from fires still burning. It was an odd feeling but as the smoke rose & was penetrated by the sunlight, it turned into a beautiful rose-colored layer underneath a sky blue as can be with no clouds.

The GW Bridge & the Lincoln tunnel are now open. The NY Waterway Ferries are running, but the Staten Island Ferry is still being used to carry supplies & rescuers to the site. People are coming back into the city in an attempt to show the terrorists that life will go on. Walking down the street toward my building I was struck by the silence & watched people for a moment. Everyone had a grim look on their face, no smiles, & no chatter, just set jaws. 

I queued up at the steps to get in the building showing my ID card & presenting my brief case for a search. After that the day went all to hell. A friend told me that a mutual friend of ours was missing. He had just been promoted to Chief Engineer in the Twin towers. His office was on the 86th floor. Nothing was heard of him. 

I went to my office dumbstruck. Shortly thereafter  the 29th floor was evacuating! A strobe light from the Class E (Fire Alarm) had turned on. They all panicked & self evacuated. We got them back in the building. Later, I received another call that the entire building was evacuating. No announcements had been made, we received no bomb threats. Everyone was so on edge. A rumor was started  that in a building south of us there was  a bomb. Before you knew it there were thousands of people in the streets from 4 buildings all evacuated by rumor & fear.We called up corp. hdqrtrs & asked for direction. The reply was let everybody go home. Then we found out that we have to have a vacant floor ready by Monday for a firm that lost all of its office space in the Trade Center. 

The people in this country are really generous. There were fire engines here from Chicago & Flint Michigan; these guys were here on their own time to help with the rescue efforts. There are over 300 police, firemen & EMS techs missing. People are already donating to widows & orphan's funds for each group. So many people are donating blood that they are being turned away. They have enough for now. It is going to be this kind of spirit & teamwork that will eventually bring those murdering cowards down on their knees. All day I was too busy to think about my dead friend. I went home and spent a sleepless night thinking about Charlie.

Day 4 Once more I cross the Hudson River. Today is different, It is raining hard, the sky line has been erased by low lying fog, but you can still see that unmistakable plume of white smoke rising from the ashes of the World Trade Center. The sky is gray the river choppy. Somehow I feel like I'm crossing the River Styx into a land of death & destruction, not knowing what will happen today.

We will be working all weekend to have a space ready for folks who were in the WTC. Havoc reigns, we don't let any vendor in the building unless previously approved by the tenant. We canceled some preventive maintenance on electrical switches over the weekend, again because all resources are directed toward providing a new home for these homeless firms.

As of today, the official count of missing is 4,717. The city has ordered 30,000 body bags for anticipated 10,000 deaths, the remaining bags being for body parts. The search is hampered by the wet weather. Incredibly two of the searchers are building engineers that survived the collapse & have now gone back to search for their colleagues. People in this city just will not give up. New Yorkers are an incredibly resilient group of people as are the hundreds of rescuers that have come from out of state. We will not surrender to terrorist activity, that much is certain.

As I waited for the Ferry, I noted three Coast Guard Cutters in the river. The river is closed because the President was at Jacob Javits Center. The dispatcher finally made an announcement “There will be no ferries, buses or traffic until further notice, what else can I say.” As aggravated as everyone was, we all had a good laugh. Then everyone sobered up because the biggest hospital ship I ever saw slowly guided by, the Comfort was a majestic sight, pure white with three red crosses painted on her immense hull. Of course everyone knew what she was here for & we all fell silent watching her glide past us to her berth further up river.  Every so often a group of rescue workers would show up to take the Ferry home. As we were stuck there so were they. It gave us a chance to show our appreciation & whenever a group of them passed through, we stood up & just clapped. What else could you do? Then finally the President left & we caught the ferry to Lincoln Harbor to be on our way home.

Day 5  We are all set to move in one of the survivor companies tomorrow & the other two on Tuesday. We have to keep pushing on but it’s hard. The Fire Department gave battlefield promotions to 168 men to insure that things keep going. Con Edison has had 1900 men going around the clock to make sure everyone's work place is habitable tomorrow. They tested the stock market systems & they all worked.

Right now the missing total keeps rising. At last count it was 5,097. No one has been found alive since Wednesday. I had to turn off the radio after awhile. How many memorial services, funerals & updates do you have to absorb before you go nuts.

It’s been a couple of days since I had a chance to jot down anything. We have been very busy setting up a couple of floors for former tenants of the trade center. I have made frequent trips to the floors handing out my business cards telling them to call facilities if they need the slightest thing etc. They are supposed to finish moving in next week after which we will conduct fire safety drills, bomb scare lectures, evacuation drills, etc.
The mood of the city is somber but determined. People are  subdued. Not much honking of horns or cursing at wayward cabdrivers is happening. People seem to be extraordinarily polite to one another. I went to my refrigerant reclamation class last Tuesday at the Union hall. The week prior to the tragedy, jocularity abounded. Everyone came in this past Tuesday, not a word was spoken. Local 94 set up a widows & orphans fund for the 4 engineers killed; one was my friend that I told you about earlier. Our instructor had to go to a memorial service for his brother in law killed on the 104th floor. 

As of now 6,333 are missing, the total is still climbing. The other day, rescuers opened up a void & found several people arms linked in a circle, all dead. They say they are removing 4,000 body parts daily. They have two refrigerated tractor-trailers hauling them from the sites to morgues for ID purposes. 
A smoky haze hanging over lower Manhattan has replaced the billowing smoke plume. Every day, we manage to trudge back & forth to work. The stock exchange is up & running. Kudos to Con Edison for that. That in it was a victory, forget market performance. Heroics of all kinds happen daily here just to keep the city going. Those terrorists think they are tough? They have not felt the wrath of a pissed off New Yorker.  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Facebook or Not!!, well maybe limited????

A few years ago while immersed in the effort to help save my old ship (USCGC TAMAROA) from the wreckers, I joined Facebook to help spread the word. It kind of backfired on me. Being an unsophisticated social media person, I wound up with hundreds of friends, most of whom I did not know and I got deluged with all kinds of requests to play games, give gifts, etc. Long story short I gave up on it.

Then with the advent of my daughter heading out west to seek her fortunes on the left coast, I decided to get back on. Facebook, It would be an easy way for her and me to communicate. Its working out much better this time because not only do I have access to her but also Cousin's Sara and Wallie as well. I have pretty much privatized the account and accept no friends unless I personally know them. I blocked all games and apps, etc. Right now I only have 13 friends and that's fine by me. It will increase overtime as people I know accept invitations. But it appears to be a much more useful tool now than what it was in the past.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Strange Dream Last Night

 Normally, I do not dream or if I do, I do not remember them. But, I had a weird dream last night. I dreamed that the creek behind the house overflowed and flooded the area and while the house didn't go under, hordes of mice ran for the house. Regina and I are home as is Scooter our  Schnauzer. Must have been a time warp because he had passed about 12 years ago. At any rate, in the dream, Scooter was running all over the first floor grabbing the mice and flinging them out into the back yard. with me watching from the stairs. There was no resolution Since Regina woke me up from the dream :-)

Friday, September 6, 2013

Mystery Tree Limb!

I spent a good deal of yesterday cleaning up the back yard. I don't know where it came from but a huge tree limb wound up in my back yard a few days ago.  Must have been ripped off a tree when one of those micro-storms came through here. We are lucky it didn't hit the side of the house. We heard no noise or crack. Just woke up in the morning and there it was! I'm letting it dry out a bit before I cut it up with my hand saw. Swept up a bunch of debris and started nipping the branches off with shears.

Oh, the joys of homeownership!!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tam's Fate Decided, She will be a Reef!

After 16 years of blood, sweat and tears, we finally threw in the towel. The former USCGC Tamaroa / USS ZUNI is being prepared to be sunk as a reef off the east coast near Delaware/New Jersey. We gave it our best shot but in this economy could not convince people she was worth saving. This old salvage tug fought in the Pacific in World War Two (She is the last vessel currently afloat that fought at Iwo Jima, and participated in countless Search and Rescue missions including the famed Perfect Storm  mission where she saved the lives of four Air National Guardsmen. Hundreds of boys turned into men on her slippery rolling decks, this post is for them.

I found the below poem on the internet which sums up her end:

Author Unknown...........

' My end is nigh. Do not morn me. I served a noble service well and am proud for all who were with me through the years. It is now time to let go. I look forward to my rest. I have been loved and at times pampered in a way that will not be diminished by time or my passing. I remember you as though it were just yesterday. With memories of times we shared you do not need my carcass, my ribs, my hull. All things come and all things go. Know this and just remember the good and the bad as we take our place in time and fade into the past'

Here are some photos of her 5 decades of  yeoman service to this great nation:

1940's  USS ZUNI






1990's Decommissioned and neglected


Bringing her Back

1967 Walter Jones and me on the fantail with Long Island behind us

Waxing Philosophic!

If life gives you lemons, make lemonade, is a phrase I've often heard. Having been laid off for nigh on nine months now, I've had some time to reflect between my periodic search for a job. Looking back on my 65 years, I've had a pretty good run. I know that in many cases, my work ethic impressed people. Personally, I think it's just a stubborn streak, but I'll take any compliment that comes my way :-)

It of course started at home being well raised by my parents; but, I need to credit Admiral Farragut Academy with a lot of how I approached life down the road. I went there as a youngster in 9th grade. Totally unprepared for the shock that was to come. My first year was absolutely horrible. My mother begged me to drop out and come home. But I refused.  I felt that I started the journey, I needed to finish it and I did 4 years later and with a  class that originally started out with 75 cadets, only 16 of us made through to graduation.

In fact my first real "life test" happened at Farragut. I was a squad leader my junior year and we were in June Week Competition with the other companies performing close order drill. We were being judged by a Marine General if memory serves. We had to go from 2 platoons of 3 squads each to one single file with no breaks. I knew what I was supposed to do, but at the last minute the 1st Class Petty Officer was absent and the company commander told me to take his place. Immediately, I became terrified not having practiced the other guy's steps. I had seen him do it  out of the corner of my eye, so I resigned myself to an attempt. Well, it worked out and I was the link between the two platoons, the line was perfectly straight and we won the drill competition.

Ever since then, after I was graduated, when things got tough, I'd look at my AFA Class ring and would muse, "I survived AFA, I can do anything". The ring is in my jewelry box sitting old and mangled and no longer fits, but the sentiment is still the same.

Life has presented it share of challenges along the way, I overcame each one and went on to the next hurdle so to speak. Then after 30 years with my company, changes were announced and I was no longer in their plans. I called up my wife from work, told her I had just been let go and was quite angry.......for about an hour and a half. :-) I got in the car at the ferry terminal, drove to a McDonalds and ate a Big Mac, my version of comfort food.  Everything was now OK.

What I didn't realize was the fact that this was an opportunity to do things that I did not have the time for before. I started reading a lot more and I spent a bunch of time trying to find some family members I'd lost touch with. It's great, we are finding each other and once again, I hit a wall, jumped over it and made some lemonade. Besides I have a good family, a wife,three  kids and three grandchildren so as nice as those paychecks twice a week were, This is OK, too!!