Dr. Peter Stine’s Excellent Review of All the Difference by Daniel C. Lavery

book cover all the difference

Review of Dr. Peter Stine, PhD, U.C. Berkeley, Professor of English at South Carolina State U., Wayne State U., U. of Michigan;

 

I finished All the Difference, and what a fine memoir it is! I found it totally engrossing. The opening swept me in. I can imagine the pain your mother felt, you felt, and then the contrasting personality of your father, that swimming lesson he gave you, wow. It is so rich in episode, and in particular the chapter describing your shooting the crabs and beautiful bird, your remorse, and Ruthie’s gentle instruction in the holiness of all creatures, even the Golden Garden Spider, struck me. Or your discovery of the sanctity of nature’ beauty on your travels, or of baseball. The writing is lucid and concrete and engaging, you are on your way. Your story that begins in a military family split by divorce and ends with you emerging as a brilliant ACLU lawyer in California is quite remarkable and riveted me for days.

The section on Yokohama I loved, and Eddie is a great glimpse of raw American energy. Your portraits of scrappy uneducated types are consistently strong. Your account of cultural awakening is very well done, a great chapter, especially your discovery that the Japanese were individual beings physically and mentally, that our racist stereotype of them was nothing more. Strong descriptions of nature in your trips with Alex. Your sexual initiation in Yokosuka is cool. I liked the sports here, and Tom’s converting you to fundamentalist Christianity. Good on your religious inquires and the skepticism offered by Jerry’s dad, since the memoir is a long tale of deconversion, overthrowing indoctrination. Your brush with death in the train tunnel was excruciatingly real.

The Civil Rights history delivered by the professor on the Sunset Limited is a bit undigested in the narrative, but probably necessary to educate the reader to the world you will be entering. I admired your gutsy, principled withdrawal from NROTC at Duke, again a dramatic self-definition. Good on learning the brutality of the Old Testament God; it brought to mind Stephen Pinker’s Better Angels of our Nature. A great account of your religious bible classes and new agnosticism. That freshman Dean of Students calling you a low IQ case is amazing. Your evolving shift from Duke to the Naval Academy is traced in subtle detail, and your account of that Plebe year fascinated and shocked me. Standing up to the two bullying upperclassmen over Civil Rights and then the great portrait of Joe Duff are superb. Dan, you are at your best when, against the odds, you courageously stand up to arrogant and abusive authority figures, whether Duff, the Folsom prison molester, or the landlord threatening his tenant – these moments sparkle, the portrait of malice is stark, your own moral principles manifest.

 

It is harrowing to read of your experience as an aviator on an AR5C, and I remember your telling me about the lethal risks involved in the late 1960s. It was fun to read about your time at Berkeley then, Jerry, your well-described acid trip, Delaware Street, etc. The conclusion of the memoir about your amazing legal work for the UFW, ACLU, your alliance with Jerry, life with Joan, all of it was interesting, totally engrossing. Finally, I noticed throughout the last third of the memoir you labeled the Vietnam War as genocidal, which is exactly right. Thanks for the opportunity to read your terrific book.

 

(Peter Stine is also the founder and editor of literary journal Witness,1987-2007, awarded eight grants from National Endowment For The Arts, and four volumes were reissued as books by university press; his  fiction, poetry, literary essays and journalism are widely published:The Iowa Review, Boulevard,The Threepenny Review, Contemporary Literature,The Cambridge Quarterly,The New York Times, Sport Literate, and Harold Bloom's Modern Critical Reviews. His latest book,The Art of Survival, contains essays on Isaac Babel, Ernest Hemingway, Franz Kafka, and Joseph Conrad, ISBN 978-0-9823319-3-4, by Rocky Shore Books, Marquette Mi, 2011)

All the Difference may be purchased from Amazon.com:

Paperback

http://www.amazon.com/All-Difference-Daniel-C-Lavery/dp/1482676532/

   

Kindle

http://www.amazon.com/All-the-Difference-ebook/dp/B00BNXHV9Q

   

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00BOADR8C

 

Amazon’s Dan Lavery author bio Page

Amazon author page

https://www.amazon.com/author/danielclavery

Related Images:

Back From Nam

Vietnam Helicopter at My LaiVietnam My Lai torching a homeSoldier with flamethrower

Vietnam Jeep with gunners Cam Rahn Bay Vietnam My Lai children and others in a ditch of water

                                                     Unarmed Vietnamese hide from US Assault at My Lai

Vietnam Women and children huddled by tree at My Lai

Vietnam F-4 flyover

Vets cradled by rehab nurses in pool with shot off limbs.

Some in wheelchairs tell themselves what they did was right.

They repeat an embedded phrase: “We did it for our freedoms.”

“We killed people to allow the Vietnamese people to be free

And not allow the enemy to force their will on them.”

 

“But that’s what the draft did, man,said one with a beard.

“They forced me against my will to fight and kill people.

That’s the worst thing in the world. What about my freedom.”

“If you had a chance would you go back again?” asked one.

“No, I’d go to Sweden,” a Black with no legs said in a chair.

 

Another said with head up, chin out, and anger, “Yes, I’d

Go back out of an obligation to do what’s right for America.

No one has the right to tell anyone to do anything against their will.

That’s what I went to Nam to fight for” said the patriotic man.

“But then you are saying the draft isn’t the same as being forced.”

 

“I’m saying no country can force others against their will.”

“Some have to justify the war and can’t say it was useless.”

“Many can’t live with what we did there killing people and stuff.”

“They would be lying to say this was OK since I got a medal.”

“Killing can’t justify paralyzed people. We can’t face we did wrong”

 

How many admit we did wrong and face the rest of life crippled?

You don’t know what’s going on, you been away too long.

You’re out of touch my poor discarded man.

Yes, your left out, out of there without a doubt.

Your obsolete my poor old disabled friend.

 

Remember the Tet offensive and people blown away in Saigon?

I felt like an athlete in an Olympic event in combat city.

We have wasted a lot of time waiting for this opportunity.

What a time it was. Innocence, confidence, long ago.

Man fights battles on the land and sea.

 

My friend had brains but now is paralyzed in the psycho ward.

Earns more than those working on him from disability he can’t use.

Man strapped on a cart uses crutches to move around.

They feed all the Vietnam psychos Thorazine to make them zombies.

Take me to the station. Put me on a train.

 

I don't think I'll ever pass thru here again.

 “I want to volunteer,” says a youth

 Without a clue after brainwashing by recruiters in uniform.

 Once I was a strong man. Now I am so weak. Never in my

Sorry life have I ever felt like this, before.

 

Anti-was We can Bomb the world to piecesAnti-war poster old soldiers never dieAnti-war Peace NowAnti-War not healthy

Vietnam MapVietnam Hugh Thomspon forgotten hero

Vietnam Winter Soldier they risked everything to tell the truthVietnam My Lai 20 May 2010

My Lai Today

Related Images:

Poetry Reading at Santa Monica “Moonday” January 26

Dan's Garden 2011

(Click to zoom all pictures)

Rapture Garden

Cut thick vines in sun

below tall pine and silver maple shadow,

plant scarlet acacias,

purple, red, yellow, and white rose bushes.

spray oasis with rainbows;

lift leaves and spread limbs of

peach, plum, apricot, and grapefruit dancers,

caress ripe fruit, ravish succulent flesh,

and lick lush juice.

savor symphony of fragrances, hues, and flavors.

Nature staggers my senses,

energizes my spirit,

and lavishes me with joy.

Facing North magnolia and peach left, two plum trees and grapefruit on right backyard  

Prolific Grapefruit Tree

1

Citrus Paradisi.

A grapefruit is not sweet.

The larger “forbidden fruit”

Resembles the orange and lemon.

2

Yellow oblate spheroids with

White segmented flesh,

While others are pink or red.

All glisten in the sun or rain.

3

Thirty-year evergreen friend

Twenty feet tall with rustling

Dark green leaves,

And white four-petaled flowers.

4

Tapering brown trunk reaches

Upward sending branches in

Tight bundles sheltering a

Seated observer in rain.

5

Her shade offers coolness,

Jasmine-sweet aroma,

An energizing tangy taste

From its juicy prolific produce.

6

Sun, moon, breeze, Nature’s brush,

Brightens or shades skins and leaves.

Random dappled hues

Dance with the wind.

Prolific grapefruit tree behind garden 2012

Related Images:

Maryland Fifth Grade Adventures 1950: BB guns, Baseball, Boxing, and Scientists Cliffs

BB Pistol        

We had a target range in the basement of our Chevy Chase home for BB rifles and pistols Dad bought Chip and me. Dad marked off the distance where we should stand and gave us a safety lesson that included never pointing a loaded gun at anything living.

Scientist CliffsTarget for BB gun          

Chip and I spent many hours shooting at thick paper targets with a bull’s eye marked on it with ever widening circles to the end of the target. One day Chip teased me so hard about not being as good a shot as he, “Stop teasing or I’ll quit,” I said.

“You’re a sissy, can’t beat me, and want to leave like a baby.”

“I’m not a sissy. Don’t call me that.”

“You’re a sissy. What are you going to do about it?”

“Don’t ever call me a sissy again.”

“You’re a sissy. Danny is a sissy. What are you going to do about it?”

“Maybe I’ll shoot you if you keep it up.”

“You better not or Dad will take your pistol away, sissy.” Chip grabbed my BB pistol from my hand but I had too good a grip for him to take it.

“Get your hands off my pistol or I'll shoot.”

“You wouldn’t. You're chicken.”

“Get your hands off I said.”

“Sissy Chicken. Sissy Chicken.”

BOOM THUD!

“Ouch!”

His unbelieving eyes and shocked expression met mine and I ran upstairs to escape retaliation. A small BB lodged in Chip’s hand. Silently, he came upstairs, tended his wound with iodine, and put a Band-Aid on the surface scratch that had made its point. He realized he went over the line with me. I was taught not point the gun at any person and was embarrassed by my loss of control. For the first time I had asserted myself against Chip when he acted like a bully. That opportunity never occurred before nor did I ever have in my power such an opportunity. Scary what a gun in a boy’s hands can do. Dad removed the BB guns to penalize us.

Our cousins Lew, Phil and Nance Groebe, visited us the next week during summer when their parents drove them from Chicago. Dad rented a large cabin in a private community called Scientist’s Cliffs on Chesapeake Bay an hour and a half away.

Scientist Cliffs Maryland        

A community house, swimming pool, tennis courts, fishing, athletic fields, parkland, and community gardens were there for us to enjoy. Scientists' Cliffs comprise 276 acres of the Calvert Cliffs, which rim 25 miles of the Chesapeake Bay's western shore. Towering up to 130 feet above water level, the Cliffs contained exposed marine fossil deposits from the Miocene period, when the area and much of Maryland was covered by a shallow sea. We swam, fished, found prehistoric shark's teeth, and played with other vacationers as well as the locals. I brought my baseball glove, bat, a football, and a few balls to play catch.

While on a short hike exploring I noticed older kids playing a softball game. After awhile I asked a boy close to my age, “Do you need any good players?”

Scientists Cliffs field for tennis and softball        

“Sure. My name is Tommy. What position do you play?”

“Any position you need.”

My new friend introduced me to his teammates saying, “This guy Danny can play softball good.”

The captain looked at me with my bat and glove. “Danny, play left field. You bat fifth up after Tommy.” When the other team took the field, their pitcher whipped fast underhand pitches warming up trying to intimidate us as the sunshine glinted off the fresh cut grass at noon with its fresh smell. They wore orange, black, and yellow Baltimore Oriole hats and were in the fifth grade—I was in fourth and wore a pin-striped Washington Senator’s cap with a large "W" on the front. As I came up with two outs and two on base, their huge first baseman with pot-belly teased, “The Senators suck.” I hid my enmity, but was distracted.

“Ball one,” said the ump as the ball whizzed by me high.

Remembering Sam Mele’s coaching, “Always be ready for the first good pitch,” my eyes glued on the next one that came down the middle. SMACK! My line-drive went over the shortstop’s head in the gap between the outfielders driving in two runs and I slid smiling into second in a cloud of dust with a double.

After an hour the game ended. Contributing to his team’s victory with a few hits and running catches of hard hit fly balls that could have been home runs, I was glad they thanked me for joining them. Although the Orioles were a minor league team, it made no sense to rag kids who looked up to them.

“Do you know how to box?” Tommy said after the game.

“Sure, my Dad taught me to box my older brother.”

“Boxing is my favorite sport. Come over to my house and box a round. I have the gloves for both of us.”

Looking at him again a little worried he might knock me out, “I really haven’t boxed for years.”

“I’ll show you how to box for fun.”

He was a good athlete, a little bigger, older, and stronger, but I thought maybe it would be fun. “OK show me.”

“I’ve taught lots of kids to box because my Dad taught me how to defend myself. I box in competitions.”

These words frightened me even more. Not wanting him to think I was a chicken, I could not back down. We walked to his house where he took me to his room. “Head gear will protect you and the gloves are soft,” he said handing them to me.

“Yeah, they are soft.”

“Put on your head gear and follow me to a ring my Dad fixed in the back yard.”  My heart pounded as he was a serious trained boxer about to pound me.

Scientists Cliffs tough Boxer boy        

“OK Danny, stand there in that corner and I'll start here in my corner. When I ring the bell we have three minutes to box and then the bell will ring stopping the round. Return to your corner when you hear the bell.”

“Aren’t you going to teach me to box first?”

“Come on Danny. The best way to see what you need is to watch you box. After that I’ll teach you how to improve.” DONG rang the starting bell and out he charged at me eyes bulging with confidence like a bull-dog to a poodle. Holding my boxing gloves up in a defensive stance, I was determined to give him a good fight. He jabbed me twice with his left hand that I warded off. I threw a hard punch at him that he ducked and swung a mighty upper cut that caught my chin sending sweat and saliva in the air. CRACK…. Stars burst in my head and my body crumpled to the ground—head throbbing and mind spinning. No one had ever hit me so hard in the face. The gloves seemed to have added power to the blow, but at least there was no trace of blood, just hurt, watching from below.

“I can’t box you. I haven’t learned to defend myself.”

“Don’t give up. You need to protect your chin and face from any punch wherever it comes from. Get up.”

“Don’t punch me again like that. You knocked me out.”

“I always knock out anyone who fights me. Then I teach them to box. Don’t you want to learn?”

“Yeah,” came out my sore mouth. BLAM and down my body fell from a punch that landed on the right side of my face from a “hay-maker.” As I got up he attacked tenaciously with his left fist against my left cheek smashing it against my nose. My head was reeling. Dizzy and sweating, blood dripped from my nose into my mouth. I struggled to rise and charged him like a football player would before tackling someone. He dodged and hit me on the side of my head with another brutal punch, but the head gear cushioned the blow and then the bell rang. We sat in opposite corners. Heavy breathing and sweating revealed I was a fish out of water.

After a minute the bell started the next round. Staggering, I came at him again jabbing with my left. He blocked each whack and pummeled me with two heavy blows to the forehead. Back-peddling, I led with a  hard right when he approached. He backed off long enough for me lunge and I socked him hard on the side of his face, SMACK...that made him smile. He enjoyed pain! The bell finally rang. Feeling hurt in many places, sweating profusely, and red-faced, I was unsteady and bewildered. It seemed like we had been fighting for fifteen minutes, not six. “You’re the best boxer I ever met. I need to rest.”

“Get some water and in a minute we’ll go another round.”

The battle taught me to have a healthy respect for boxing, but I was so over-matched it would have been foolish to let him pummel me anymore. “My Dad allowed me two hours to play softball and I've been gone three. Thanks for showing me how to box. Can you ever hit hard!”

“OK, but you should practice and learn to defend yourself.”

Glad to have survived a boxing test as a 10 year old subjected to teasing, but not clouts to the face that brought blood, I was left with a splitting headache. Tommy used my face as a target pulverizing me relentlessly. Was life punishing me for shooting Chip with a BB pistol? Does Karma balance the cruelty in the world? Tommy was a brute I had no intention of emulating. His depraved smirk when my right fist connected with his face revealed the savage inside one could feed or reject for a compassionate life Grandma Ruthie taught. "One reaps what they sow," she often said.

When I returned to our rental, Lew and Phil were taunting Chip about his interest in a girl they called, “Red Mouth,” causing him to blush and feel victimized.

“Chip, I'm sorry I shot you with a BB,” I said with a smile.

“Let's play catch,” he said, grabbing a football grinning.

Lew and Phil joined as we threw friendly spirals to each other. “Sammy Baugh throws another Redskin's TD,”I said when Chip caught my pass. He spun around and fired one to Lew.

Snagging the pigskin, he turned and connected with  Duke, “Johnny Lujack hits Ed Sprinkle  and the Bears win the game,” he said as Phil sped under it. Camaraderie between cousins replaced petty tension when deflected.

“Come and get it,” said Dad ten minutes later. He and Uncle Lewis had prepared a BBQ and planned an evening of magic tricks and card games.  We joined them, Val, and cousin Nance as they served ribs, steaks, corn-on-the-cob from the grill, and a salad. It was good to return to civilization.

Scientist Cliff's Sunset      

Related Images:

Winter Survival, Escape, Resisitance, and Evasion School for Naval Aviators 1965

Chapter 26-W RA5C on ground Sanford, Fla. 1965

(RA5C Vigilante on the ground at Sanford Florida where Dan trained in 1965)

Winter survival school in 1965 for naval aviators in my class flying the RA5C at Sanford Florida occurred in October in Brunswick, Maine. The first day we attended an orientation session in a classroom with reading materials and lectures on survival, evasion, resistance, and escape (SERE). The camp trainers issued us a winter jacket, green fatigues, canteen, hunting knife, cap, and gloves. They divided us into teams. A military truck dropped us deep in a forest. They provided a contour map to assist our goal to go to checkpoints that led to a simulated concentration camp. The military personnel assigned to the SERE training placed “Russian” enemy soldiers in the forest who wandered through the area to capture us.

To reduce personal injuries, if they sighted us and said, “You're caught,” we had to surrender without physical conflict. Four teams made up our survival class, which included about one hundred men. The information taught us what to eat in the wild and what to avoid; it warned that after they captured us they would subject us to interrogation and physical abuse. They warned that if we struck any trainer we would fail the course. Such a foolish move in a real camp would end in death or serious injury. They chose an extremely cold day to begin. Snow covered the ground. A strong wind blew through the trees knocking snow and ice around. Once I entered the forest with my assigned team, we gathered briefly to discuss how we would try to reach our goals. We walked for miles before we encountered the enemy dressed in Russian uniforms. I hid and watched as an enemy soldier caught a team member. He took the canteen from our man, opened the top, and poured half the water on his head. It ran down his neck and wet his body.

The enemy soldier laughed, got our man’s name, and shouted, “You’re captured. I won’t take you to the concentration camp for interrogation on the first day. Tell your companions they must let us capture them, or the same thing will happen to them. Tomorrow if you’re caught we’ll take you to the concentration camp.”

Winter Survival School Maine

I stayed out of sight in the brush. After that enemy soldier left, we moved through the forest. As I slowly passed a pine tree, I saw an enemy waiting behind another pine a few feet away. He wore a black Russian uniform, dark overcoat, large boots, and black furry hat with ear flaps buttoned. He grabbed me by my overcoat, “You’re captured. Give me your canteen.” I reluctantly gave him my canteen and prepared for the worst.

Winter Survival Maine Map

“Splush” went the water as it drizzled down my neck and under my overcoat drenching my army green fatigue shirt, my trousers, and underclothes. I began shivering from a blast of cold wind. I wanted to tear him apart for his unprovoked sadism. He had captured me. Why do this to your own military in the name of training? He seemed to enjoy gratuitous sadism. He left me and went harassing and capturing others with the same treatment. Determined not to allow any of these bullies catch me again, I moved silently and slowly from tree to tree. Since I was a fast runner, I decided if another enemy appeared I would use my speed to avoid him.

Winter Survival Water from canteen on soldier

A few times some of us ran to get through an open portion of the forest so we could hide in trees, foliage, and shrubbery. Soon it got dark. Our group completed a few miles of progress toward a checkpoint each had to achieve by the next day. The cold started to increase as the night progressed. Feeling worn out from expending so much energy, I sweated profusely from running, dodging, and hiding from the enemy.

Winter survival fallen tree

We met in small groups to form a circle around some tall pine trees. Each of us picked a tree to sleep under as the training course suggested. A large tree with lots of loose leaves around it seemed to provide protection from the elements and a primitive bed. I climbed in my sleeping bag, using my overcoat as a cover, and slept on my poncho. Shivering, I glanced up and saw over-hanging branches with snow on the ends. The closer I moved to the trunk, the more protection and warmth I found. After drinking from my canteen, having an energy bar, and chewing on some nuts, I fell asleep.

Winter Survival aty night under tree

In the middle of the night, something awakened me causing me to pick up my sleeping bag and look around. I saw a pair of tiny eyes looking at me. A field mouse had crawled into my sleeping area. He chose a spot near my feet just outside my sleeping bag, under my overcoat. I felt he had as much right to the warmth as I did and allowed him to join me as I chuckled to myself. Who would ever believe I spent the night with a field mouse under a tree in a snowy Maine forest?

Winter Survival Field Mouse Winter Survival sleeping in sleeping bag

The next day we moved further along to our goal. As we progressed, the enemy loudly announced a capture when they caught another trainee. After awhile one of the Russians loudly proclaimed, “We are taking you Yankee pigs to a concentration camp as prisoners of war where you will rot.”

I remained silent hidden in the underbrush sweating, tired, and scratched from racing by trees with hanging branches and sharp twigs. Time seemed to slow down under such pressure. Hours later, I realized that eventually these brutal enemy soldiers would herd us like cattle into the camp. A loud siren wailed and a voice from a loud speaker informed us if they hadn’t captured us, to turn ourselves over to the guards at the concentration camp. Hungry, tired, and angry, I decided the camp provided an opportunity to show them I had what it took to survive and help my team.

Winter survival face painted student

I joined the other team members outside the concentration camp where the SERE instructors lectured us about the way anyone caught by an enemy should act to have a chance to survive in a war. The written materials contained a list of things to do and to avoid; such as acting violent—they would kill anyone who did, and it would cause harm to others. The enemy had weapons. As a prisoner of war (POW), each of us needed to use our knowledge to escape if we could, but while in captivity to keep together, protect each other, and stay healthy.

Winter survival concentraion camp

The school graded us on our leadership ability to resist providing any useful information to the enemy and always pursue a way to escape. We were to encourage our men to build unity no matter what treatment we received. We needed to maintain high spirits and energize the exhausted captives. If caught, we knew to give only name, rank, date of birth, and serial number. by the enemy guards, screamed at, and separated into various places. They had a black box they threatened to put anyone in who failed to follow instructions.

Once I entered the concentration camp, I saw trainees assaulted. When they started to abuse one of our men by knocking him to the ground, I ran to him and picked him up. “I’ll write a report on your abuse when American forces rescue us,” I informed the guard. “You have violated the Geneva Convention on abuse of prisoners.”

“So you think the US will investigate me and rescue you?” he said grabbing me by the over coat. “You’re a capitalist fool and will pay for your disrespect of the Russian Army.”

“Come here. We’ll teach this one to talk back to us,” he said to his compatriots. “Let's put him in the Black Box.” Two large enemy guards ran up to me, yanked me around, and dragged me to a black box about eight feet by three feet. Two of them threw me into it bruising my arms, knees, and shoulders.

winter survival black box

“You’ll never see daylight again, Yankee,” one said starting to close the lid.

“We’re free men in America! Our friends will rescue us,” I yelled before they closed the box.

They slammed the lid down. A clicking sound of a chained padlock meant they locked me in. In complete darkness, cramped into a narrow space, I could not turn around. The hard boards underneath me caused my back to ache after a few minutes. I smelled an odor of sweat from the many trainees who had experienced the box. I heard a lot of commotion outside as they yelled at other trainees and tried to justify their Communist beliefs as Russian guards. “Your form of government allows the rich to exploit the weak, and the minorities. You’re greedy capitalists. We’ll crush you.”

As time wore on, the box became hot. I found it hard to breathe, and felt like a caged animal. My body ached from the way my arms, legs, and shoulders squeezed against each other. Extremely thirsty, sweating profusely, I realized what a horrible torture awaited any prisoner who remained in the black box for any significant time. My sense of time dulled. Eventually, I heard some noise on the doors that sounded like someone unlocked the box. Someone opened the prison where I had languished for only about an hour. As I crawled out with help from trainees, I saw the guards taking other members of our survival team for interrogation.

They made us do calisthenics, push-ups, sit-ups, and run in place yelling, “Get those knees up, Pigs.”

“Come with me, Yankee, for questioning,” one of them said as he came up to me. The hulking specimen of a guard resembled a wrestler. He took me to an intelligence officer at a desk who wore a uniform with ribbons, medals, and decorations. “How many men are in your group?” said the high ranking officer in a simulated Russian accent.

Winter Survival Prisoner guard

I gave him my name, rank, birth and serial number. “You’re a stupid American whose country mighty Russia will destroy,” he bellowed in frustration. “Take him back to interrogation,” he said to the guard. Two helmeted brutish Russian guards led me to another building. They walked me to a hallway where I could see a series of rooms with a thick plastic window about my height in each doorway. They pushed open a door to a cell with canvas padding on all walls and the floor.

Winter Survival School Russian Soldiers

A giant of a muscular man with a blond crew cut stood in front of me. He looked like a linebacker on a pro football team. “Yankee pig officer, enter my room of pain,” he spouted in a phony Russian accent.  I entered walking up to him. “Tell me what group you’re from or I’ll hurt you,” he commanded.

“My name is Daniel Crim Lavery.” I continued with birth, rank, and serial number. He grabbed me by the overcoat, and threw me as hard as he could against the padded wall behind him. I hit the wall flat so as not to hurt myself and laughed at him.

“You think it’s funny? Wait till you see what I do next, Capitalist Pig.”

He threw me around the room about ten times, but I always bounced back facing him with a stance showing I had prepared for this drill.

“You think you’re tough pig, but I’ll crush you and your kind,” he said smirking and walked up to me, made an awful growling noise, and hacking as if he had something he was trying to get out of his throat. He spit a wad of slimy white saliva in my face. I started to wipe it off and he hocked another big wad onto my left eye. Again, I started to wipe that slime off when he spit all over my forehead and nose. By this time he had really pissed me off. Knowing I could hurt him, but would not try, I took a fighting stance.

“You’re a coward,” I shouted glaring angrily at him.

He looked for just a moment surprised, “Are you going to hit me?” he asked. I stared at him with anger written all over me and held my stance as if to challenge him to abuse me again, but said nothing. Walking arrogantly up to me, he spit four more times rapidly in my face. Wiping it off I remained prepared for any physical assault.

“Take the worthless Yankee bastard out of my sight,” he told the guards who took me to the main yard. At the end of three days, I endured much. It made me reflect on our precious freedoms as no other exercise had ever done before.

***Dan entering RA5C 1965

(Dan entering the back seat of the RA5C for training at the Sanford Naval Air Station in Florida 1965)

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