Vignettes

Michael Lozano

Vietnam December 1965

Just wanted to share another Vietnam experience. This was my Battalion. And ladies; please excuse any gross language, but that's the way our superiors talked to us. Just telling it like it was. P.S. For those of you who don't understand military initials: Plt. platoon, VC- Viet Cong, Doc- our medics, or Corpsmen, WIA-wounded in action, KIA- Killed in action. R&R- Rest and recuperation. ARVN- Army of the Republic of Vietnam, who were on our side, supposedly. On 9 Dec 1965, at approximately 1300 hours LIMA Company 3rd Battalion, 3rd Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, was the lead Company, a spearhead, sent into the Que Son Valley to rescue the 5th ARVN Regiment who had been under heavy attack since daybreak. It was Tuesday, December 8th, 1965, Lima Company had just been pulled from MAG 16 perimeter duty for what we thought was going to be a couple of days of R&R. We were in the rear area (Battalion HQ) somewhere on Danang Air Base. Our Company area was temporary, with no permanent structures, The Battalion was in transit from Chu Lai to Hill 55 outside of Danang. Each Platoon had its own area where we pitched our two men, pup tents. I can only remember using the pup tents here and earlier at Chu Lai, and for a very short time in both locations. Most of the time we were either on the move or just preferred to use our ponchos for shelter halves. We built some very interesting hooch's with those ponchos, and the more ponchos we had, the bigger and better the hooch. It was around 10am. Jim Stead and I were in our tent playing Chess on one of those magnetic chess boards we got from the Red Cross. Suddenly, our Plt. Sgt (whose name escapes me) informed us that we were going to have church services, and everyone must attend. Ordering everyone to church service was not uncommon, every good platoon leader wanted to have a good showing for the Chaplin, who almost always out ranked the Plt. leaders. We were told that the Protestants would be holding services first, then Jewish services and finally, Catholic Mass. At about 1100, 11am. for you civilians, the order came for the Protestants to "fall out for church and don't keep the Padres waiting". Maybe 30 minutes later there was a call for all the Jewish troops to fall out for services. I was still in the process of out maneuvering Stead on the Chess Board some 30 minutes later when the Plt Sgt. came back through our area to round up all the Catholics. I was trying to be inconspicuous, I'm a little guy and seldom had problems finding cover, but my Sgt nailed me. He didn't want any excuses, stating that "if I didn't fall out when he called for the Protestants and I didn't fall out when he called for the Jews, I therefore must be Catholic" Typical lifer reasoning! For all he knew I could have been Buddhist? But to please my SGT, I went to Catholic Mass and I took Communion (that's the Corps, you do what you're told, and when you're told to do it!) no questions just action. I didn't think about this much at the time, but unless you are Catholic, holding church services on a Tuesday is highly suspicious, especially in a combat zone! Wednesday morning 9 Dec 65 at 0500 - 5am. we mounted up, loaded onto 6X's (big trucks to your noncombatants) and headed south to a point where most of us had no earthly clue where we were. They never told us peons anything, a hell of a way to run a war don't you think? If I were in charge, I'd want every Swinging Dick to know exactly where we were going to go and what we were supposed to do when we got there. But back in the 60's we were still governed by a WWII mentality (the less the troops know the better). It seems that we were near Tam Key, that's what all the official documents suggest, Tam Ky was the staging area later in the Operation, but we were on the Beach, in the sand, watching the waves roll in and fighting off the Piss Ants that were crawling up our pant legs! I suspect that our staging area was somewhere a little north and east of Tam Key, near Thang Binh. We arrived at the staging area shortly after sun up and sat there all day till around 1300, when many choppers came into our LZ. We were again told very little, just enough to scare the shit out of junk yard dog! We were told that all the waiting was due to the fact that B-52's had spent the morning bombing several VC regiments that were assembling in the Que Son Valley, and that we were going in to rescue fragments of an ARVN Regiment (South Vietnamese Troops) that were in serious trouble. (For the record, a regiment consists of approximately 2100 troops, 3 reinforced Battalions) Our Recon had estimated that there were 3,500 plus VC's held up on a nice little defendable map grid called hill 43. We initially went in with one company, Lima Company, with approximately 180 troops. So, at 1330 hours (1:30pm for all you civilians) Lima Company, along with its FO (Forward observer 1st Lt Jack Swallows) and his team along with a small H&S (Headquarters & Supply) contingency, mounted up on Choppers and flew west for approximately 30 minutes. We landed just south of the village of Bong Son II, near the eastern mouth of the Que Son valley. The LZ was not hot, there were no problems landing or disembarking. From the LZ, we spread out into a Companywide sweep, moving toward the highlands and Hill 43. I will state for the record that we never made contact with the ARVN unit that we were supposed to be rescuing, although the documents suggest we did. It may have been the next morning, but the ARVN's were scattered on 9 Dec 65. I was an 0341 (81mm mortars attached to 3rd platoon. 3rd platoon was on the right flank of Lima Company as we were sweeping through the rice fields in the valley, I was on the extreme right flank of 3rd platoon. Shortly after we began the sweep, I noticed a couple of fellows in black pajamas, following us, about 200 yards out. As we would stop, they would stop, as we picked up the pace, they would speed up their pace. It quickly became clear to me that they were following us. I immediately informed my platoon Sgt that we were being observed, but he chose to ignore the heads up. Ten minutes later I observed several more, maybe 15 to 20, and this time I clearly saw weapons. I again reported the sighting to the Plt Sgt, and this time he took a look-see and promptly notified the Lt. I understand the necessity for following orders, but there was a clear and present danger on our flank and the Lt. chose to ignore it and follow his orders. American lives were in danger, we had a clear target and I'll never understand why we didn't attack them. hell, I could have taken out most of them with one well-placed mortar round. I blame the Lt. because the Sgt did use the radio, but I really don't know who the idiot was for sure. (This is the same Sgt who made me go to Catholic Mass the day before, a Korean War Veteran and maybe not the brightest bulb in the string, but a good Marine just the same). It may very well have been our Company CO Captain DiMartino who nixed the flanking incident. Because of ignoring the problem on our right flank, the VC had our position in constant observation. What the brass didn't know, was that they were walking us right into an ambush, and the VC on our right flank were spotting for a much larger force getting ready to hit us. Shortly before All Hell broke loose, we came upon a small hamlet at the end of this massive rice field. This hamlet was maybe 200 meters wide, so we split up. 1st Plt was on the left flank, so they took the high ground and went around from above and to the left of the hamlet. 3rd Plt took the low ground and went through the hamlet from below and to the right flank. 2nd Plt stayed in the rear to act as a reserve force. (I guess at the time it didn't occur to the brass that it was strange that this little hamlet, with all of its huts in a nice row, wasn't occupied, not even the chickens came out to great us) Most of us were uneasy as we passed through this little village, we had no real information, only what we saw and heard, or in this case what we didn't see or hear, our instincts told us something was happening or about to. What happened next was pure Military genius on the part of the enemy. We had walked right into a "Triangle Ambush" we were surrounded and attacked from all three sides of the triangle, and the group of VC who had been following us were the ones who closed the back door completing the triangle. As 1st platoon and 3rd platoon came out and around from this hamlet, we found approximately 500 meters of rice field and Hill 43 facing us. The VC opened with mortars and machine guns from the base of hill 43 and the tree lines to our left and right flanks. As 2nd platoon began to deploy to our aid, the VC closed the back door of the triangle and caught all of us in a cross fire. We were surrounded by machine gun fire and mortar rounds began dropping in all around us. My gun team found a position, a rice paddy dyke maybe 18 inches high and we took cover. The shit was really flying, (the USMC historian says that we were up against 200 VC from the 80th VC regiment) These were the same bad guys we faced in Operation Starlite four months earlier on August 18th, and we killed a bunch of them then. I have no idea how many of them there were this time, but the shit was hitting the fan everywhere! To the left and in front of the rock is the rice paddy dyke where John Miller and I were wounded and where Corpsman Richard "Doc" Croxen was killed, all by the same Chi Com Mortar fired from the base of hill 43 which is in the center of the photo. From this day on, this rock will be known as "Colonel Jack Swallows Rock". it is where Jack took cover when the battle started, and was his mission to find upon his recent return to Vietnam. We were surrounded, our entire Company was pinned down and we were deathly close to being overrun. SSGT Cordova gave an order to charge the hill, which was by the book, when mortars are coming in, charge the mortars! My mortar team was told to stay back with an M-60 team and lay down cover fire, so we took position behind a dyke near the M-60 team. The 2nd platoon and the 3rd platoon began to deploy into the rice field, 1st Plt was holding the rear and the mortars kept coming, interrupted only by the constant enemy automatic weapon fire from hill 43 and the surrounding tree lines. Jim Stead, Jim Knowles and I had just gotten the mortar into position. That damn 3.5 rocket launcher was long and bulky, it was a target begging for incoming. I was so glad when we went to the LAWS Rocket (Light Assault Weapon System). As we were setting up our guns, an incoming mortar round exploded a few feet away from us, I was hit in the right shoulder by the up blast. I felt a punch and then a very warm liquid began oozing from my wound. "CORPSMAN, CORPSMAN UP" the Doc made his way to me quick, I was one of the first group of wounded. The Doc stopped my bleeding and then ran to help the other two wounded. Several more incoming mortar rounds exploded in our immediate vicinity, so we decided to move our position. Just then the Doc came back to me and helped me back to a bomb crater some 110 feet to the rear where they were setting up a hospital staging area and gave me a shot of morphine. My guys were somewhere between hill 43 and where I was now. Before the morphine could do its stuff, I began freaking out, it was near dark, there was shooting and shouting everywhere, mortar and RPG rounds were going off within yards of my position and they took away my rifle, I was defenseless. By this time the USMC Air Wing had entered the fight and there were also the sounds of nearby 250 lb bombs capping off. The Corpsman worked masterfully even though they had lost one of their own to the battle. HM1 Richard "Doc" Croxen, along with PFC John Miller, had been wounded by the same mortar round that got me. John Miller made it, Doc Croxen didn't. Our Sr. Corpsman in an attempt to calm me down, asked me to look after a LCPL who was badly wounded. The Doc told me that this guy probably wouldn't make it, but to do what I could to make him comfortable. In the meantime, the rescue choppers were on their way, but the VC had an ace up their sleeve for them as well. As the first Med-Evac chopper came in to rescue the more serious of our wounded, the Pilot was shot at close range while attempting to land. CPL Joe Hennebery a red headed Irishman from Boston and a Scout Sgt attached to the FO team, were both badly burned from the burning chopper fuel, as they rescued the downed chopper crew. They were both awarded Silver Stars for their heroic actions. The Pilot, Major Donald J. Reilly died from bullet wounds and was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions. After major Reilly's chopper was shot down they decided to wait till well into the night before trying to evacuate the wounded, this unfortunate delay most likely contributed to the loss of some of our more serious wounded. So here I sit in a bomb crater that most likely didn't exist the day before, hell is at the doorstep and the morphine has just started to do its stuff. The nearby battle began to seem more distant and I was beginning to calm down, in retrospect, I was probably experiencing the first symptoms of PTSD. I was sitting next to this kid who was dying, (I don't think I really understood that he was dying at first) you have a hard time acknowledging death when your in the thick of it). He was most likely very medicated with morphine and he laid there very still, until suddenly he became agitated and began waving his arms in slow motion. The Corpsman told me to calm him down best I could, so I grabbed his arm and hand and held him. He had multiple chest wounds and had probably lost a lot of blood. He began to talk in a calm, almost surreal calm voice, he called out "Mama" three times, gasped once or twice and calmly passed. I remember thinking at the time that he was the only one who was safe. It was most likely around 2300 hours when I was finally Hilo lifted out to the aid station. They were still shooting at us when the chopper lifted off. Most of the glory of Harvest Moon goes to 2/9 and 2/7. (2/7 had a Medal of Honor winner on the last day) But it is a fact that of the 407 total enemy killed during the entire 12-day operation, (92) were killed by Lima Company on the first day. Of the 45 Marine KIA's, 15 were from the first day. Of the 218 Marine WIA's, 43 were from the first day. Our Battle lasted hours, well into the early morning hours of 10 December, and for those lucky enough to make it to Hill 43 without a scratch the battle then evolved to hand to hand combat. General Walt relieved General Henderson of his command on the afternoon of 10 December 1965, one day after the Operation began (General Henderson was Regimental commander, his removal is a good indicator that I am correct about my theory that the brass screwed up big time). * And ever since that day, I've often wondered if, taking Catholic Communion on Tuesday had saved my life on Wednesday! ***** Jack Swallows informed me that he couldn’t call in y artillery support that day because Battalion took control of the fire missions. This command error was because we were sent in to help the ARVN troops and battalion didn't want us to kill any Friendly Forces by mistake. (they can't shoot till shot at rule of engagement got us again). ****** The Kid who Died in my arms that day, was LCPL Larry Dean Borschel a Radio Man from H&S Company who was attached to Lima Company's FO "Forward Observer". He may have been killed by the same mortar barrage that got me. I left his name out of this story when I first wrote it because I wanted to spare his family any new pain. I've since talked with two of his Sisters and now feel that he should be named. So much happened on the 9th of Dec 65, there is so little written

Bobby Bonds

Bobby Bonds Chronicles - #1: The Introduction

This is the first of a couple stories celebrating one of the best athletes I've ever had the privilege of knowing. I met Bobby during the summer of 1961 before our sophomore year at Riverside Poly High School. My uncle drove me over to meet Coach Ben Hammerschmidt and Bobby happened to be there working out. Coach mentioned it might be a good idea if the two of us spent some time together getting to know each other. I had played football at Bakersfield High School my freshman year (4 year high school vs. Poly at three) so I had some experience. Bobby and I went out to Wheelock Field. Awkward, yes, until Bobby said, "Let's run." He smoked me in a fifty yard sprint by a couple of yards. I said, "OK, how do you throw?" Bobby motioned me to position around the 30 yard line and he was on the opposite goal line 70 yards away. Bobby proceeded to go down on one knee, cocked his arm and threw a "frozen rope" pass to me about 15-20 feet off the ground; from one knee no less. I had to back up 5 yards so I could catch the ball 75 yards away from Bobby. My response: "This is going to be an interesting season." I had never seen anyone do that before. That was NFL skill not the JV football team at Poly. Bobby Bonds was the most incredible raw talent I have ever seen anywhere. He was truly gifted. Next: The 2' x 2' virtual box - where the ball had to be; single-wing football at its best. John C. Peterson©2014

Bobby Bonds Chronicles - #2: The 2’ X 2’ Virtual Box

Riverside Poly used the single-wing offense, the only team in the CBL to do so. Bobby Bonds played tailback, the best athlete's position. I had never seen the single-wing in action until “double days”, the twice per day football practices before our sophomore year. We played on Poly's JV football team. While we had some athletes on the team, we had some difficulty getting Bobby the ball where he needed it on each play. Here's the information: the tailback stood 6-7 yards behind the center (similar to today's spread formations - think Oregon) with the fullback next to him. The center "hiked" the ball to either player depending on what play was called. Picture a 12 foot arc 6 feet to Bobby's right and 6' to Bobby's left as the optimal ball location (additionally 2'-3' off the ground). An accurate snap from the center was required for the play to start successfully. Hit Bobby Bonds in the right spot on a “28 sweep” (2 back through the 8 hole; around the end) and he was off to the races, because no one could catch him. We were having difficulties getting Bobby the ball on the run; advantage Poly if we could. I had been the deep snapper the year before at Bakersfield High School. I offered to show how this could be done. After a couple of successful attempts Bobby Bonds said, "I guess you're the center," looking directly at Coach Rife, the JV football coach. Therefore, for the first 2 games of our sophomore year on the JV team, my job was to put the ball in a 2' x 2' virtual box, 2'-3' off the ground so Bobby could catch the ball on the dead run and beat the defense to the sideline, turn the corner and head for the end zone. Bobby had "gears." He was fast, but he always had a last "gear" where he could just blow people away with his strides. The rest of the players were spectators watching him "motor." Every play was a potential touchdown play for us. Nineteen touchdowns in 8 games that year for Bobby, truly a remarkable season. John C. Peterson©2014

Bobby Bonds Chronicles - #3: "34 Spinner"

"34 Spinner" was a single-wing football play. The ball was centered to the fullback who would spin a 360 degree circle and either give or fake the ball to the tailback (Bonds). Part of this maneuver was also a timing delay so a guard and center could double team block the defense and the "off guard" would pull and trap block the other side rushing defensive lineman. "34 Spinner" was also "code" for Bobby and me in later years. Early in each game Poly would run the ball wide to spread the defense out. With Bobby's speed the opposing defense would soon realize they could not get to the "edge" and cut him off. Typically, the middle linebacker would begin to cheat out and eventually line up over the tackle (6-8 feet wider than the beginning of the game). This defensive reaction to Bonds' speed set up "34 Spinner." I'd spin and give Bonds an empty hand, keep the ball, and follow the "off guard's" trap block and run all the way to the safety - untouched. Now picture and hear Chris Berman's "stumbling, bumbling..." leveling of the opposing team's safety 3-4 times in the second quarter. We'd run this play 5-6 times per game. When doing so, I would survey the defense and give Bonds a "you" - "me" call to let Bobby know if I was going to keep the ball or give it to Bobby. The middle linebacker could not cover both options of this play. Fast forward later in life, Bonds would call me on the phone, I'd pick up, and he would say "34 Spinner" and immediately I knew who was calling. He loved to surprise people like that and never lost that spirit. When Barry Bonds, his son, signed his 43 million dollar contract at the winter meetings in Louisville, KY, I made it a point to be there. I snuck into the hotel ball room (press only allowed), the group walked in (Barry, his agent, and Bobby in a line), I walked up from behind Bobby and gave him the "34 Spinner" call and Bobby turned around totally surprised. "What are you doing here?" I told Bobby I would not have missed this event for anything in the world. The next day I spent time with Barry telling him all about Bobby's games, track meets, and high school life stories. Truly a rare moment in anyone's life for all. John C. Peterson©2014

Bobby Bonds Chronicles - #4: Track

Bobby was a baseball player. As a spring sport baseball coincided with the track season. The track coach at Poly was Earl Marshall, a man who was very creative and not afraid of doing unusual things. Coach Marshall convinced Bobby to participate on the track team; something one could not do today within the CIF regulations. Coach Marshall also convinced me to run the 100 yard dash as training; I also threw the shot put with Skip Randall. In addition to running the 100 yard dash, I had a second and more important job: track down Bobby Bonds. During home baseball games and home track meets Bobby ran the 100 yard dash and one long jump. Poly's track team needed the extra points Bonds contributed by winning those events. Here's how this worked: Coach Marshall synced the 100 yard dash and long jump event timing these when Poly was at bat in their baseball game: The baseball diamond was not far from the start of the race. Since I also ran the 100 yard dash, I would carry Bobby's gym bag (singlet and track shoes), flag Bobby down and he'd do a quick uniform adjustment. We would run the 100 yard dash together. After one qualifying long jump, he would then go back to playing baseball. All of this took about 5 minutes. In the CBL league meet we both qualified for the CIF semi-final meet held at Compton High School. In addition to throwing the shot put Coach Marshall convinced me to throw the discus at the CIF semi-final meet; creative and out of the box thinking. So we both drove into Compton High School to participate with Coach Marshall. Bobby qualified for the state championship meet. Bobby went on to win the state of California long jump, 25' 3", and wasn't even on the track team; he played baseball. He improved by almost 2 feet in distance from the CBL meet to the state meet. How does someone do that? He was that good. I watched him practice, on his own time. He was aspirational; by then he knew he was different. He wanted to win. John C. Peterson©2014

Bobby Bonds Chronicles - #5: Wrigley Field

As many of your know Bobby was signed directly out of high school by the San Francisco Giants to play baseball and replace the great Willie Mays. What Bobby's track experience did for him was to move him from the best baseball player on Poly's team to one of the best athletes in America. The publicity from Bobby’s track performances showcased his athletic range; he was a hot commodity. In September 1964 he was called up and in his first full game he hit a grand slam home run. Years later, my business partner and I attended a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. Before the game I corralled the bat boy, gave him a note (all it said was "34 Spinner") and asked him to give it to Bobby. He did. In less than 3 minutes Bobby was out on the diamond looking for us yelling, "34 Spinner where are you?" He brought us down on the field and introduced us to everyone; the Cubs, the managers, even the umpires. He was 15 again. Bobby went 3 for 4 that day and was hitting "frozen ropes" all over the field, tipping his cap to us and the crowd. My partner and I were instant celebrities sitting just behind the visiting team's dugout. I was fortunate to have been Bobby’s teammate. Better yet we were friends. The privilege was all mine. I watch Bobby develop his athletic skills and become a man. Now, I move from athlete to math-athlete; Diane Sorben. John C. Peterson©2014

Diane Sorben and Another Brick in the Wall

Coin of the Realm

The facts are Diane and I dated for 2 years, our junior and senior years. Diane was world class smart as many of you know. SAT scores were 800 verbal, 800 math, and 800 math achievement test. True math-athlete, she earned a BS Stanford and a Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley in Computer Science. However, she never wanted people/friends to know any of that information. That was how she rolled. Then there was the goofy side which, like her dare-devil rock-climbing, was pure camouflage. I met Diane on the bus to Malibu (Young Life camp) in late July 1962. I did not know her, nor of her. I didn't know anyone on that bus the first day. Diane sat next to me along with 15-18 of her friends in the adjoining seats. From Riverside to the Grapevine we talked about classes; nothing eventful. She was in constant dialogue with most of her friends; multitasking. Then she asked if I played cards; it was going to be a long drive. I said sure and she suggested we play gin rummy. I knew the game but not "her" game. She asked if we should bet something to make it interesting and wanted to know what of value I had with me. I produced a shoe box of homemade chocolate chip cookies. Now she was interested. I played the conventional game of gin rummy; play to the end and try to catch the opponent with penalty points (unused cards). She played a completely different game; a linear algebra max/min points game where she calculated what cards I held, played her hand to min the penalty points and then "flopped" to expose the difference in penalty points. She won 20 hands and I won 2. Can you say "buzz saw"? Diane won all of my homemade chocolate chip cookies and proceeded to give them to her friends. Thus, now it was a 16-19 to 1 rooting section and I was the "red meat". I figured out fairly quickly this was no ordinary individual fleecing me of my "coin of the realm". The joy and glee she garnered from this was something to see. What did I really receive from this? Well, within 3 hours I knew half the people on the bus. I no longer felt self-conscious because I didn't know anyone. I made a date with her when we returned from Malibu. All in all not a bad trade. I learned later this was really how she rolled, which was to find someone who was uncomfortable and provide them comfort -- amazing -- plus she could count cards. John C. Peterson©2014

Some People Make You Better

There's a statistical phenomenon called regression to the mean that applies here. Simply stated, for every high point of output there will be a similar low point. In baseball statistics for every base hit, the batter may fail to get a hit 2 or 3 times if his batting average is between .250 and .333. Diane Sorben's academic and emotional support plus Bobby Bond's athletic means were considerably higher than most. However, there's another human behavior response coming into play from those surrounding these high performers. We tend to "play up" to our leaders. Diane was able to attract friends and colleagues by her presence, her mind, her goofy side but more important was the depth of her personal interactions. Diane was a "touchstone" to many, the jester on the surface, but truth teller on a deeper level. People shared their deepest secrets with her knowing those admissions were "in the vault" -- and not in a Seinfeld sense. Why? Trust: Plus she could tell someone "I believe in you" and mean it. What a powerful statement to a high school friend. Again, Diane brought comfort to the uncomfortable. Diane brought certainty to the uncertain and clarity to the mysteries of high school life. She raised my game. This was my experience. I lived the movie. Diane Sorben made me better; so did Bobby, but more importantly, they made us all better. John C. Peterson©2014

"Just Show Up"

Pink Floyd is not in the house; the imagery is present but not the song’s message. Quite the opposite; the imagery is more foundational. As you can probably tell I love messages wrapped in metaphors and my stories have been their delivery vehicles. So what does all of this have to do with Poly’s 50th high school reunion? A great deal it turns out and here’s why. We all have relationships with the friends from Riverside with whom we grew up. Those personal relationships are the glue that binds our group together and will make this reunion more memorable than each of us can imagine. My case was different; I was the new guy and I was on a mission at Poly. I spent three years in Riverside but those three years changed my life forever. This message is about me saying “Thank You”. I had a football coach (Ben Hammerschmidt), a track coach (Earl Marshall), a Young Life coach (Chuck Smith), a math coach (Mr. Monson), and a life coach (Diane Sorben) at Poly. I also had friends I respected and admired from whom I “borrowed” traits that I did not possess at that time. For example, Ron Hasson (Mr. Grace under Pressure – unflappable). I said to myself if Ron can behave that way, so can I. Doug Donahue, one of the nicest people on the planet. If Doug can be that friendly and accepting, then maybe I can try that. Don Stout and Flip Clark, always had something intelligent to say; I can copy that. Mike Grant and his simple acts of kindness; I’ll give that a try. Bill Lewis – he was funny. Although, I still do not know the connection and definition of “Huzzah” (must be Shakespeare). And then Diane Sorben; straight forward and honest talk about anything – any time. Thank you all. Although my high school experiences were not the same as in the storyline of “Silver Linings Playbook”, the movie, some of the themes were similar; the dance of life. I loved this movie; it spoke to me. I, like Pat Solatano, learned to see those “silver linings” and Diane and others taught me how to “read the signs”. I built my personal playbook in high school and have used it my whole life; over and over and over. This patch-work game plan was an assemblage of the character traits people mentioned above, the bricks in my personal foundation. Here’s an example where it all played out later in life. Some of you know I started a business in 1973 in the suburbs of Chicago. It was a restaurant; luckily a very successful restaurant. A few of you know I used that experience to gain admission to the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago. This turned out to be a different kind of life changing experience for me. I did not have the grades from college to qualify, and I never took the GMAT, but here’s the story. I had an admissions interview with the dean of the Business School and a former dean, then a friend. We chatted at lunch and finally the dean asked me to tell him something about myself that served to separate me from the other applicants. I thought, OK, and relayed how I developed my personal playbook in high school and why. I told him everything, which was something I had done before only to Diane and a few others. I told him the business school experience could have the same results. He “leaned in”. When I finished Bud Fackler, the dean of the school, gave me his best Francine Bergman McOwen (Wow!). The dean then said “So are you interested in attending?” I asked, naively, “What do I have to do?” and thinking out loud “I haven’t taken the GMAT test yet”. His answer was “Just Show Up” followed by “You did graduate from college didn’t you?” I said “Yes I did”. Turns out, I graduated from business school in the top 15% of the class. I guess I learned how to count cards too. To think what I learned in those three years at Poly is still working. Thank you for listening: Pass your simple acts of kindness forward; they work. John C. Peterson©2014

"No Retreat, Baby, No Surrender"

"No Retreat, Baby, No Surrender"

The Game of the Decade

Friday, November 25, 1960

“The night was clear and the moon was yellow. And the leaves came tumbling down”. Opening lyrics to the song “Stagger Lee” by Lloyd Price – 1959

The lyrics are apropos for this cold late fall Friday night: November 25, 1960 Veterans Stadium, Long Beach, CA Riverside Poly vs. Long Beach Wilson First round of the AAAA CIF football playoffs

Bruce Springsteen sang his own version of “Stagger Lee” but I listened to his “No Surrender” this morning and thought this to be a more appropriate opening anthem for the below: “Well, we busted out of class Had to get away from those fools We learned more from a 3-minute record, baby Than we ever learned in school Tonight I hear the neighborhood drummer sound I can feel my heart begin to pound You say you’re tired and you just want to close your eyes And follow your dreams down Well, we made a promise we swore we’d always remember No retreat, baby, no surrender”

Riverside Poly played the vaunted Long Beach Wilson Bruins, one of the two favorites to win the AAAA Section (the largest schools) in the CIF in 1960. Poly was 7-2, losing their first two games of the season before going 7-0 and the underdog. Wilson was 8-0 and loaded with talent. In those 8 games opponents had only scored 40 points against Wilson. Their starting QB and a baseball player, Bob Bailey, eventually signed as a “Bonus Baby” with the Pittsburgh Pirate organization in 1961 for what’s reported $150,000. That may have been a good day for him but this Friday night was not. Riverside Poly’s football blood brothers had names of Steve Ballard, Bob Horacek, Leon Littleford, Ron Aarts, Mickey Bellah, Bob Hammond, Dean Stringham, Terry Drake, Larry Oveson, Larry Holmes, and Charlie Bohling. The team mates were described by Garland Rose, the sports writer for the Riverside Press Enterprise, as a perfect collection of babysitters when someone was needed one; good, wholesome young men exuding cultural attributes of commitment, dedication, responsibility, friendship and brotherhood. That Friday night this group played as a team, within a community-based culture, highlighted by the above values and where teenagers held themselves accountable to each other. “Babysitters” yes … but babysitters of victory. The team bus ride from Riverside to Long Beach’s Veteran Stadium was quiet and somber. The Poly player’s hearts began to accelerate as they contemplated their challenge; to beat the best team in southern California. I’m sure they closed their eyes and visualized their assignments, followed their dreams and remembered their commitments to each other; “No Retreat, Baby, No Surrender”. Their timing fit with Lloyd Price but not Bruce Springsteen; they were a little ahead of destiny. Here’s the opening of a column by Doug Ives, the sports reporter from the Long Beach Independent the following day: “Wilson High was nothing short of pathetic Friday night as it suffered one of the worst drubbings in its long and illustrious grid history, a 47-12 lacing by Riverside Poly. Some 8,000 fans, sitting in the chilly night air at Veterans Stadium, looked on in amazement as the previously unbeaten Bruins collapsed before Riverside’s devastating single wing attack. … Riverside Poly was, indeed, a team which came to win. It gained a total of 429 yards, didn’t lose an inch, didn’t fumble and scored in every conceivable manner.” Literally, there was “No Retreat” with this team on this night. The Poly game statistics say “0” yards lost. Zero. There was “No Surrender”; from Bob Hammond’s interception in the first quarter to the power running game from Poly’s single wing attack; it was relentless. Horacek and Bellah, combined, gained 208 yards more yardage than Wilson as a team. Poly’s offensive line was a road-grader; pushing Wilson off the line of scrimmage on every play. Coach Hammerschmidt’s finest hour; the team’s finest performance of the decade. “No Retreat, Baby, No Surrender” – can you imagine the team bus ride back to Riverside that night? This is how I see that team bus ride back to Riverside in my mind’s imagination … the joy, the energy, and as a metaphor Bruce Springsteen YouTube version of “No Surrender”. Picture these “excited and celebratory babysitters” as Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in the YouTube video below. That post game locker room and the bus ride were anything but quiet and somber. When upsets occur, led by the unheralded yet the magnificent, get out of the way and let it happen. 47-12; the unthinkable happened … This is dedicated to the 1960 Riverside Poly football team and anyone in Veteran’s Stadium that night. It was magic.

The underdogs, those blood brothers that evening, will never forget, nor should they. Keep those romantic memories and dreams in your hearts, keep the promise in your heads forever. And then the last chorus: “Once we made a promise we swore we’d always remember No Retreat, Baby, No surrender Blood brothers in a stormy night With a vow to defend No Retreat, Baby, No Surrender” John C. Peterson©2015