The Passing of a Great Man

Feb 28, 2015

Earlier this week I attended the funeral of William "Grady" Rowe.  Grady, ten years my junior, reported into my National Guard unit as a brand new officer in the late 1970s.  A graduate of Marion Institute and of Jacksonville State (where he was a great linebacker), he wanted to join Special Forces. It did not take long for all of us to realize he was a very special person.  Intelligent and strong, he was a natural leader to whom all the men gravitated. He would take on any job, no matter how distasteful, and get it done properly.  Furthermore, such was his ability to motive the men through humor and a great attitude, everyone would be smiling and enjoying themselves even under the worst circumstances.  He listened and learned as well, becoming highly competent.  As the company commander I gave him the toughest missions, having full confidence he would succeed.  

During this time he met and married his wife Gloria and became a math teacher and football coach at Elmore County High School.  Together they raised two sons, and he rose to become the athletic director as well as math teacher.  

Unfortunately he caught a mysterious virus while deployed in Panama, and the sickness diverted him from the path to higher rank in the National Guard, although he continued to serve, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.  I fully believe he would have commanded the Special forces Group and would now be a general officer had he not been so debilitated by the sickness he could not deploy.  

Last Monday Grady died of a massive heart attack.  The entire community turned out for the visitation and the funeral--the high school shut down at noon so the students could attend the funeral and a great many did.  His National Guard buddies attended from all over the state in spite of the weather.  We all recognized our tremendous loss--I personally have never met a man I've thought as highly of.  You were the best, Grady.  De Oppresso Liber!

Catching Up

Feb 02, 2015

I haven't posted in months because retirement is such a busy time.  I'm almost finished with Volume II of the "General Forrest at War" set- less than two months from the surrender!  I'm also taking a graduate physics course and have given several talks on Civil War subject, done a little traveling, and, oh yes, goofing off!  My real problem is I have too many ideas and I'm to lazy to really do them all.This post is actually a test to see if I can still enter stuff on the site.

Guided Civil War Tours

Oct 24, 2014

If you would like to set up a Civil War tour for your club or civic group, I can conduct two different tours, each lasting one full day. Each tour follows the path of General Nathan Bedford Forrest during one of his campaigns, retracing his route and pausing at the site of each engagement for a detailed explanation. Tour sizes range from a van through a large touring bus (up to sixty people). Costs will vary depending on size but will include the cost of the vehicle and driver, a luncheon meal, and a small speaking fee. E-mail John at the address below for details.

Streight’s Raid. Leaving from Huntsville, this tour starts at the Battle of Town Creek, then winds its way east along back roads across North Alabama to Gaylesville, where Forrest finally forced Streight’s surrender. Included are stops at Day’s Gap, Hog Mountain, Blountsville (lunch), Royal Ford, Wills Creek, Black Creek (Emma Sansom), Blount’s Plantation, and the surrender site. Little walking is required and handicapped persons can still see almost everything without dismounting. Tour length including return to Huntsville is approximately 11 hours.

Railroad Raid. Leaving from Huntsville or Athens, this tours covers several spots in Athens, then goes north to Sulphur Creek and then to Taney’s Shop near Pulaski. From Pulaski the tours leaves Forrest’s route to pick it up again at Spring Hill and Columbia. While in Columbia the tour will include sites associated with the altercation that occurred when Lieutenant Gould, one of Forrest’s subordinates, tried to kill Forrest with a pistol and Forrest mortally wounded Gould with a penknife. This tour involves some walking upon two occasions, the most strenuous being about a quarter mile uphill to see the Sulphur Trestle Fort. Tour length including return to Huntsville is approximately 10 hours.


Sep 26, 2014

Yesterday was my last day (maybe) at SAIC, where I have worked off and on for 34+ years.  (The maybe is because I'm still on their rolls as a consultant for certain things that may or may not happen.)  I really have mixed feelings about this.  The people I worked with were great and, more often than not, the work was interesting - and the money was good!  On the other hand, it was time to move on, to get serious about writing and to spend a little more time enjoying life.

SAIC evolved over the years.  When I first started in 1981, it had 4,500 employees nation-wide.  Each division of 30 - 40 people was only loosely connected to other divisions and everything was fiercely competitive - especially with other SAIC divisions!  The work was often very important - Strategic Petroleum Reserve, new missiles and radars, intelligence, etc. and very interesting as well.  The division had periodic happy hours (yes, with beer and wine).  My supervisors supported my National Guard habit strongly so I could get time off to do a good job there as well. Over time the company got bigger and bigger (topping out at 45,000) and more bureaucratic - as well as less competitive.  A year ago it split into two companies to try to regain that competitiveness, but the Government market has changed as well, making it more difficult to get ahead.  SAIC has my fond wishes but I worry about its future.

I wonder if I will miss it every day like I miss the military.  As the years go by the bad times leach out their color and lose their impact, while the good times remain bright and attractive.  For now, I face the future with a philosophy borrowed from our Cajun friends: Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Welcome to my new site!

Sep 08, 2013

Welcome to my new site! This is the area I put my personal thoughts for everything about me. New posts are coming soon.