Why & How Constable…35 was Written

I began writing Constable Outreach 35 as a project.  In my aging years, many have told me that I must be involved with something. Something to occupy my mind and time. That something aids in taking away the self-centered, sympathy-seeking thoughts which can build with onset of age.

As the project grew, characters came to mind who needed exploration. There were many. Too many to be placed in one story. Some were deleted because they didn’t enhance this storyline.

Placing the story in a period of which I was familiar, put the story in 1985.

There is much more I can write about each facet. I may do that in coming blog postings.

But, in this post I’d like to talk about the year in which the story was set. The time-frame for story placement – and, why it was selected. I’ll try to keep the word count in the post to seven hundred. If I go over, the next post will pick up where I left off.

First, 1985 was a year in which I found myself in the Air Force Reserve, as an associate airman augmenting active duty units based in Charleston AFB, SC. It was a part of my life in which I served a cause greater than myself. The work was very satisfying. It still generates memories of people, places and objects that carried we humans far and wide on the earth – the airplane.

I had visited Central and South America many times in my flying career. Memorable places and incidents came to mind as I planned the writing.

The basis for the story came to me as a memory of an incident in which a cargo-handler became a captive during an undeclared war in Central America. I would never try to tell his story. I couldn’t. I was not there.

But, the history intrigued me so much that it circled in my head. That downed airman could have been one of many I knew. One man whose experience changed the trajectory of his remaining years. I developed empathy for him. Even though he never sought it.

That brought me to a timeline – which could not be the same year of his incident or subsequent acts that would be followed by the news media. Thus, I chose 1985 as the envelope within which the story would take place.

Next was a review of the original story idea. (By the way, it morphed many times in order to build a ninety-five-thousand-word book.)

There are millions of ways to tell a story. But, in each way it must fit the conventions of story telling. Shawn Coyne broke that down in his book Story Grid. I have read it. I re-read sections as a refresher. I recommend it to any prospective story-teller. (I am digressing – adding too much at this point.)

I asked questions of myself. Questioning as though I was the other person in the room:

  • When does all this take place?
  • What was the season?
  • How many days are you going to write about?
  • Is it a six-month period or shorter?
  • And, many more – dizzying – queries….

From those questions, I built a timeline of thirty days. Again, it morphed and was modified in order to tell the story.

By now, I have realized that this post will have to be continued. Hope you’ll stay with me.

Here is a historical overview and Contra War timeline finishing out this first segment:

  • 1979 – Arbitrary date designated as beginning of Central American Civil Wars; President Carter was in office;
  • 1980 – President Reagan was elected to the Office of President of The United States; Contrarevolucion forces begin forming along the Honduran-Nicaraguan Border; El Salvador and Guatemala were in civil wars of their own;
  • 1981 – President Reagan takes office; Covert operations are authorized; CIA, Military Assistance and civilian oriented groups are deployed; US troops are introduced into the conflict;
  • 1982 – Contra forces carry out assassinations of Nicaraguan Government members;
  • 1983 – Contras mine Nicaraguan harbors. In a non-related, Global Ideological battle the United States invades Grenada to rescue medical students on October 25th. Ideological foes of the US continue to export violence and their Socio-Communistic doctrine into Central America;
  • 1984 – Nicaraguan General Election – Daniel Ortega wins, becoming President;
  • 1985 – (Fictional Constable Outreach 35 Story takes place;)
  • 1986 – Corporate Air Services C-123 (N4410F) was shot down by SA-7 Grail missile; Cargo-Handler Eugene Hasenfus was captured as sole-surviving aircrew member;
  • 1987-1989 – Civil wars continue with new emphasis….
  • 1990 – Arbitrary year during which Central American Wars ended….

We have reached a word count over seven-hundred. As mentioned at the beginning of the post, I’ll be back with a continuation on this blogging theme.




Senator John McCain…and, Others

At the ending of my own radical tour around the States, a fellow Vietnam Vet passed from cancer. He was not an equal. Did not travel in my circle. Yet, was a brother in the largest fraternity the world has known. The clan of warriors.

Senator John McCain came from a proud Naval Family. He was part of the warrior family. Expected to serve. Yet entered of his free will. Attended a military institution – graduating near bottom of his class.

As I was to pass through Pensacola, Florida I stopped on the East side. A Florida rest area displaying flags flown a half-staff. A Navy, Blue Angel airframe, sat static on supporting metal stanchion. It marked the exit of rest area and entry into Naval Air Station territory.

Reminded by radio and now visual input, that an American POW had died. I ran through the expounded and personal thoughts gathered during my last days of travel:

· Sixty years of service to the United States of America;
· “An imperfect service to the country;”
· Five and one-half years a POW in North Vietnam;
· Again, “…an imperfect patriot;”
· Senator serving Arizona constituents;
· “…a voice of reason on the Senate floor;”
· Straight talk…dedicated to enduring principles;
· “A fighter…displaying courage, integrity and character;”
· “Feisty…Scrappy…Sometimes with a temper;”
· “A rogue…Gracious Politician…Maverick;”
· “Visited Vietnam War Memorial with frequency;”
· “Visited war and conflict zones to meet with soldiers;”
· And, “Believed in something greater than himself….”

All these things said of Senator John McCain. But, they could be said to describe many other friends, associates and historical figures.

The thing that made it fresh is that he is touted to a new generation – and, for those who forgot – as someone to emulate. (In thinking of Sen. McCain – Naval Officer, it was not the accolade he sought.)

Much like many I have known:
– some “gave all while believing in something greater than themselves.” I knew some whose names appear on the black granite walls of the Vietnam Memorial;
– some gave “the last measure of their being.” While performing service to their country, aboard military airplanes between 1981 and 1998;
– some “displayed the finest parts of their character….” They did – and continue to – perform in our response to acts of terror. The War on Terror continues today.

Heroism in the face of diversity is seen from our “first-responders” every day. Marked by graves for those who lost life doing what they loved, in service to community. Strength mustered by families who carry-on in the memory of lost loved-ones.

This – my friends – is a teaching moment.

Look around. See what you can do. Emulate those who’ve gone before. Do it your way. Partner with the likes of many who’ve made this country humane and with a principled approach.

Emulate the heroes in your lifetime.

For those who have “done the hard work,” I salute you. Place you in the long list of what has made America – and, the world – great.

As for the life of Senator John McCain, I am thankful his existence came in my lifetime.

For his passing, we will have another person to write into our book of history.

Who will take his chair?