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  • Awol

    It comes to all of us in time but old age finally does us in. I won't be able to attend Popasmoke 2006. I've been hoping that some miracle would allow me to cast off my crutches and walk but in spite of being one of the luckiest guys around, it isn't going to happen, not in time anyway. I've been checking the airfairs on my computer and I even took the decision not to charge for registering late as an omen, but no dice.

    The problem is that after 60 years or so with perfect health, the only doctor I knew was the doc who gave me my flight physical, I came down with Parkinsons and shortly afterwards, Spinal Arthritis. The Parkinsons is reasonably under control, at first with drugs and recently helped by Deep Brain Surgury which I underwent June 2005. By the way, in spite of the scary thought of someone messing about in your head, it was the easiest procedure I've ever had. I was conscious the whole time and only knew the surgeon was doing something was when he told me. The worst problem was boredom. The surgeon was an airplane nut so I had a very good relationship with him.

    The major problem was the spinal arthritis. Through this year I have had three surguries in 4 years on my spine, each of which put me out for 6 months. But this year I ended up with the same problem, progressive paralysis of my legs. This time it wasn't arthritis but a blood clot that had developed in one of the spinal cavities and was pressing on the spinal cord.

    Easy, whip him into hospital, open up the spine, clean it out and sew him up again. Right. Within 2 days another blood clot had developed and the pain was indesribable. Emergency surgery. I woke up but guess what, I was still hurting and another blood clot was developing. This time they hauled my ass down to surgery without any ceremony. It turned out that my own surgeon, Paul Marcotte, had essentially exeeded his duty time and asked me if I would allow Gordon Baltuck to operate. Since he had been my brain surgeon I had no objection.

    The one difference this time was I was a hell of a long time coming round after the anasthetic. I was semi-conscious, somewhat aware of my surroundings and could hear someone calling my name but I couldn't answer. I wondered whether I was going to come round at all, scary moment. But I did. But with three surgeries in 5 days, my system was so full of pain killers it was no wonder I came around so slowly.

    I found out later that Gordon is a full Professor at University of Pennsylvania Medical School, (he is 43), Paul Marcotte is only an Assistant Prof., so I really had the brass taking care of me. Later, in intensive care, Gordon swept in, coat-tails flying, surrounded by his cloud of accolytes. "John", he said, "The administration has asked me to tell you the they consider the use of a full operating team and theatre, 3 times in 5 days to be too much, could you limit yourself to no more than once a week." I thought for a minute (I'd been waiting for Gordon to say something like this and I had my answer ready.) "Well Gordon, if you've done your job right, I won't need their services again." "I knew it" Gordon said to his assembled flock, "I knew he'd have the perfect comeback." The look on their faces was priceless. I probably knew Gordon better than they did and I knew he had a very droll sense of humor. To them Gordon wasn't God but he spoke to him regularily.

    My hospital stay at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania was 6 weeks. I was plotting the date of the popasmoke convention on my calander and bugging the therapists to get me ready to be able to attend. They worked me hard, at the end I was putting in three-quarter hour sessions, 7 times a day. But to no avail. I'm not fit to travel. Even when I told them I attended HMM-165 meeting last year, 6 weeks after brain surgury, they said "No deal, this was much more severe than brain surgury"

    The program looks great, let's make it even better in 2 years when with any luck and hard work, I'll be there.

    Semper Fi

    John Dullighan Tech Rep, Boeing Vertol, HMM-165, MMAF, 1969
    Last edited by jdullighan; 08-26-2006, 02:28.

  • #2


    We also have a few or our members that will not be able to make this one because mother nature is catching up with us or a loved one.
    That's not to say that you and they will not be missed or talked about. I just hope one of your friends takes your side when the stories start. And you know the stories will start ASAP.
    Get well and hopefully you and the other members that are not able to attend this year will be there the next time.

    S/F Gary Alls
    HMM-263 '66-'67


    • #3
      Keep on the mend!

      If you had been able to help them diagnose your problems as well as you did ours on our CH-46A's, you wouldn't have needed the second two procedures! It does sound, however, that you have properly put them in their place and are well on the mend yourself. We will certainly miss you, but your ears will be burning next week!
      Get well soon! 2008 is just around the corner.
      Joe Reed
      HMM-165 1967-68
      Last edited by Joe Reed; 08-06-2006, 11:51. Reason: Omission


      • #4
        John stay as well as you can get away with.
        I remember you from HMM-165, when we were
        getting ready to board the USS Valley Forge.
        I too won't be making this reunion... I've been
        in Israel since late May and don't plan on coming
        back to conus 'til mid-December, possibly Jan 2007.
        Right now this is a rather "crazy" place. 2-1/2 weeks
        ago I went through a katusha attack near Kiryat Shmona.
        Last time I experianced those was '69! They are still
        scarry things! Yet, it was an exillerating experiance at the
        same time!
        I have met several Nam vets here... a couple are old "grunt"
        Semper Fi and God bless!


        • #5
          Judie and I were looking forward to having dinner with you in Ft Worth as we planned but lets reschedule for the next get together. Your pictures from last summer's 165 gaggle remain our favorites but the "bill" remains unpaid.
          Stu Henning


          • #6


            Let's do that, I guess 2 years isn't long.

            I really thought I could do it, I set myself a goal of walking 100 yards unaided. But I'm nowhere near that. The therapists at the hospital were great, they fitted in lots of extra sessions, but they warned me that what I was trying to do was close to impossible. But if I wanted to try, they would give me all the help they could. One of the therapists is Russian, he was my biggest booster. I'd really be hurting and he would say "I thought you Brits were supposed to be tough, in the old Russia, basic training hurts more than that". Then he'd say quietly, "Sometimes pain is God telling you to stop."

            The whole convention looka like it's going to be the best yet, I'm sick to be missing it.

            As for debts, I was honored to do it. I owe the USMC and individual Marines more than I can ever repay. Never did I sense anything but support and friendship from anybody (and I must add the USN to that, most of the time). Lt Col Tom Raines (The old man) took care of me as though I was one of his Marines. The funny thing was he was 33 and I was 31, not so old. My time with the USMC was one of the defining periods of my life and is part of who I am.

            Roll on 2008.

            Semper Fi


            • #7
              Not to worry John, there are several of us who won't make to Houston. I remember you from 165 at MMAF. I had joined the squadron prior to leaving country. Couldn't figure where they got that "Limey" from. When I joined there was only myself and one other guy in the Ops Section. Both with the same date of rank and practically the same enlistment date. I think his name was "Ford", not sure. Told him since he was there first, then he was the boss and until we reached Oki, he deserted and went to Iwakuni. Maybe you can search that great memory of yours. I have been trying to recall the assistant Ops officer. He was a Captain at the time and an Annapolis grad. When we left Okinawa and went aboard ship, I had pinned a little newsletter that we (my co-conspirators) left under several doors and post aboard ship. The officer in question, was kind enough to write a couple of articles.

              Keep that upper lip stiff and I hope to see you in 2008.
              Bill Edwards - Ops Chief Aug-Dec 69 HMM-165


              • #8
                Annapolis Grads

                The Annapolis grads I can remember were "Hank" Giedzinski(s) and "jim" Kersey. There may have been others.




                • #9
                  Giedsinski is the one I am thinking of. If the the old brain is right. Thanks again John and take care.


                  • #10

                    There are 2 pictures of Hank on the HMM-165 web site, on page 5 of the photo section. Photo #1 was taken during a medal parade at MMAF. The other at the bottom of the page was taken at the Marine Corps Birthday Ball at Futenma, Okinawa, Nov, 1969.


                    • #11
                      Thanks again John. That is the one I was thinking about. I did a "Google" on 165 and read some of the sites listed, including one about an interview with a Boeing Tech. Rep. I think your comments sum up pretty well why those who worked with you held you also in such high esteem.