By TLB Contributor: Ken LaRive
The year was 1969 when I left home… just 19 when I got my first look at the USS Kitty Hawk in a Bremerton Washington dry dock. I knew little about the workings of the world back then, and as I looked over the rail in my new dress blues, I saw that metal titan braced by great chocks, polished and painted for another leviathan assignment, the West Pacific and Vietnam. Below, between the hull and a 250 foot wall of cement platforms, lit by great portable lights on wheels and the flicker of welding arcs, men moved together as one unit. One unit to get this huge task done… One unit of American servicemen, and my new brothers.
I didn’t own a camera back then, but the spectacle I saw there, and the next two years as well, is indelibly imprinted on my mind. I grew up on that ship, and it jump-started my need to know and understand the workings of my world by both an education of my doing, and the happenstance of experience. And yet, even after all of these years I have come to realize how much is still hidden from view, and how very little facts, and truth, are actually known to me. But one thing I have grown to realize above all else, and without a doubt… I have been played, as we were, I think, to the very last man.
I only recognized the thin green ribbon of Vietnam three times on the horizon, twice during the daytime and once at night by a cluster of lights. But I couldn’t see it right off… it was the flash and pan of some incendiary bomb that first caught my eye, the hot-white and gold of napalm. I knew, most likely, that people were suffering and dying there, and close enough, I thought, to possibly hear their screams… but I felt the concision of those blasts 50 miles away… And I was in awe. Awe, because I was just a little pawn in a machine so big I didn’t even have the ability to ask a proper question… and the world beyond my little microcosm seemed more a dream, a dark dream, a nightmare.
I had indeed enlisted, and one would think that some form of responsibility would have embedded itself in my heart. Empathy perhaps, but I knew then as I know now, that the responsibility for my actions were not my own. I had enlisted without choice, 57 on the draft. And I knew even then, and without a doubt… that if I had not enlisted in the Navy, I would have died with a gun in my hand. I would have died, without the remote understanding as to why… as so many of my countrymen have.
At the time I thought we were fighting an ideal called Communism. And today I say with the utmost disgust…that what is now in the White House is the same as any Communistic dictatorship we have ever thought to fight against… and it is found on both sides of the isle. To me, these men are traitors. These men are bought and paid for, and they care little or nothing for the standard of America, or the lives lost.
With 24-7 flight ops, I had plenty of opportunity to witness the events unfolding, even by the mail that pored over my desk as the Captain’s yeoman. But my understanding of it was limited and misunderstood, and the redundant elements soon became normal to me, running through my mind as vivid as yesterday… For instance, just prior to landing, each and every jet would dump their extra fuel, and whatever was left of the bomb-payload as well. I have never witnessed this happening, but saw the effects… a rainbow glistening on a azure crystal-clear Tonkin Golf, by a layer of JP-5 jet fuel floating on its surface as far as the eye could see in any direction. What a shimmer as the sun set, and the trails of flying fish as their wings touched the surface is haunting… and I saw a sea turtle with white eyes. But a spectacular event, never reported by the news, was the 10 hour mistake of dumping oil, a 140 mile swath that could have been visible from space, and blamed on a seaman not paying attention, and a broken valve…
I remember the never-ending bomb-handling working parties who wrote hate-filled graffiti on the casings… but then, the line of fifty men handing off what was called broken electronics was an amazing thing to see as they were thrown over the side… hundred and hundreds of televisions, and circuit boards of every description, old electronic inserts handed one to another from deep in the ship’s interior… And from the after brow, countless bags and containers of trash were dumped into a churning florescence line that disappeared over the horizon… the exact same place a crewman had committed suicide… a man who could not fit in.
The above thoughts are meant to illustrate that the military is beyond control, beyond comprehension and understanding, and beyond any human law or moral compass by the average person… Looking back at my immediate supervisors, I really don’t think they had even a remedial grasp of the reality of that venture, even the hard core lifers… None of my bosses ever mentioned any doubt or concern for what we were doing, but that there was a growing amount of traitorous fools who were protesting back home. Some of them were even fleeing to Canada. But my piers were another matter…they had a mixed bag of thoughts, with some saying they were cowards, and others heroes… but I at the time could not emphatically make up my mind one way or the other. I just wanted to become a man.
I know now that America’s wars are not, and never were designed to bring so-called “democracy,” but corporate profit. It is a racket. It isn’t used for the defense of freedom anywhere, though that is used as the primary justification, but is bound only to the interests of the power elite, corporatism, and their bottom line.
In 1931, Marine Major General Smedley Darlington Butler retired. He is one of only 19 Marines in U.S. history to ever receive two Congressional Medals of Honor… and he opened the door to a world that few knew anything about: that corporations control our congress, and orchestrate war for unbelievable profit. A profit that is generated from the bottom up and the top down, from thousands of contractors and international corporations, to a banking cartel in league with the Federal Reserve… and what he described back then has grown exponentially. He saw from the eyes of a true leader of conscience, with the honor of a patriot, that the primary motivations and intentions of the military industrial complex, and the scope of it amazing power over our country, is for their own good only, with no regard for consequence.
Today, America pays more to support a military then the top ten largest countries rolled into one, with money printed out of thin air. Our children are straddled with a debt that can never be paid, 17.1 trillion… And this sum is so great that more money has to be printed, as needed, to pay the interest. A sum so great, and yet, few Americans can see it, as 7 trillion of that 17 trillion was added under Obama’s watch. Unsecured money on the back of America’s future, and all of it unaccountable.
No way do I consider myself un-America, or anti-American. I have, in good faith, paid my taxes, given my time to what I thought was the defense of Freedom and Liberty, as I also have taken an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies both domestic and foreign… I do not take that oath lightly. And as I have lived long enough to see recurring trends… I am concerned not only by the constant and unrelenting destruction of earth and its people carried out in the name of my government, the government I have sponsored… But it is the same entity that has lied to me, used me as cattle and pawn, for the false promotion of freedom and liberation. A government, bought and paid for by corporations.
The so-called Progressive government we now have in place, without a shred of doubt, is controlled and manipulated from an outside force beyond our borders, and so too is the Right. It is all a charade… It is a force so powerful, they can crush the mind and spirit of a person or a country, bankrupt or promote our economy on a whim, enslave us in a debt, and have us participate, unwittingly, in constant and unrelenting war for reasons unknown to us, while we wave our precious flag… a flag that they themselves abhorred. Yes, it is a war without end, open ended, with an undefined and nebulous enemy without a face or uniform, and physiologically designed.
Since WW2, America is less safe and more hated than ever before. And as we have seen a tremendous proliferation in military spending and unconstitutional ventures, we participate in one act of violence after another… And of all the interventionism, the imperialism around the world, what good has come of it for America? Have we ever promoted our Republic based on law? No, and the reason is a simple one. Those so-called elitists, those few men who actually pull the strings of war and its reconstruction, do not like our civil liberties. They do not like our Constitution. They do not like our Republic based on law, and why? Because those primary elements, the elements that made America the freest and most prosperous country in the world, gets in the way of their profit, their control. Instead, they will milk us dry by increments, eating at us from the inside out, like a cancer. And we are so trusting, our spirits so honorable, we would send our sons and daughters to risk their lives for unanswered questions and lies.
Have we promoted free trade? Have we promoted peace and security for the world? Have we promoted anything that can be emulated but more death? No, and just the opposite… with a failing economy and a dying middle class, a welfare state who have learned to milk the system, our private communications compromised, due process abolished by constitutional dis-membership, coerced by the NDAA and Patriot Act… and a growing top heavy government that is vying to control every aspect of our lives… And then, we have men with duel citizenship controlling our congress by bribes, taboo, and fear, and international corporations who profit in destruction and reconstruction are beyond the law and any Christian moral compass… and as new nations come under their dominion, our workers, our industry, our American exceptionalism, our creativity is given to them, as slave labor. And if any country opposes them, they are singled out for immediate destruction, and from a wide variety of methods… And the ultimatum is simple, a central bank, or death, so choose… and in the process, our men die on foreign shores, with the same trust I had at 19… A trust betrayed by the false flag of the Tonkin Gulf incident. And as I reflect, history is rewritten, ideals and ideologies redesigned, and truth is no longer distinguishable from an outright lie, fed to us by a controlled media.
When we left Vietnam, when our WestPac tour was over, we were escorted not only by Russian spy boats, by a Bear so big our fighter planes looked like dots under its wings. It seemed like a game, a game played with the lives of good and honorable men, trusting men of virtue. And it left me with an empty feeling… A feeling a slave must have as he sits and watches the world move past, out of his control. A feeling, like my life, and everything I so hold dear, is ether granted or denied by a machine devised by men with the blackest of hearts… Men who set themselves above all others.