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Savage Survival


Darrell Bain's Newsletter - June 2009

This newsletter may be copied and sent to both friends and enemies with the stipulation that the source www.darrellbain.com is noted and the copyright notice is noted and included as follows:
Bainstorming: Darrell's Bain's Newsletter.
Copyright © June 2009, By Darrell Bain

Responses to subjects brought up by this newsletter are welcome. I can be contacted by e-mailing me from my website.

Subjects this month:  
Tonto and a couple of other short segments are in here as well as my usual Book Report and Progress Report, but most of the rest of this month's Bainstorming will be devoted to an account of the Rescue Reunion mentioned last month that Betty and I attended. This is a true story and a real human interest account of the very brave men who rescued my brother Gary after his jet fighter was shot down in Vietnam and their reunion forty years later. Both events happened on Mother's Day. Also, an excerpt from The Y Factor.


Progress Report:
Two of my recent books, Quanty and The Y Factor have been fictionwise.com best sellers. Quanty is now in print and The Y Factor will be in print in the future. From reports so far, Quanty, a novel of a sentient computer promises to be one of my best selling books ever and the ratings by fans so far one of the highest.

Planning for and attending the Rescue Reunion took a lot of time away from writing so the book I'm currently working on, The Long Way Home is still unfinished. I'm getting close, though.

From jkOnTheRun/New York Times:

This week I read "The Y Factor" by Darrell Bain and Stephanie Osborn, the second in the "Cresperian" series I told you about last week. This book was very enjoyable and I can't wait to read the next book in the series. I was thrilled to hear from both Darrell and Stephanie that they are beginning work on the next book in the series so guys, please get to work, OK?

Human by Choice by Darrell Bain and Travis S. Taylor is the first book in the series. DB

This week sees the release of my two newest short stories in one package at LL Publications. http://www.ll-publications.com/cure.html The titles are Cure for an Ailing Alien and Retribution. They will also appear at fictionwise.com sometime in the next couple of months.

Book Report:
Just about everyone has heard the expression "Send in the Marines!". Just about everyone also knows about the United States Marines, too. However, few of us know much about the inside working of them throughout their history. First To Fight by Victor H. Krulak, a much decorated marine, takes care of that aspect of this great military organization. It is a fascinating look into Marine history, of crucial events and development of their attitude that doesn't depend on rendition of battles to carry it. There is very little description of fighting in this history, just an extremely good narrative of what makes the marines work, told by one who was on the inside for many, many years.

Rescue Reunion
(Gary Bain's own first person account of his rescue can be found at www.videoexplorers.com ) There should be a newspaper article, or two, describing the reunion at his web site soon. This is my account of how the reunion went. First, I should say it was debatable whether or not Betty and I would make it. We were leery of flying with our bad backs but I'm happy to say we did. We both suffered some pain but I wouldn't have missed the experience of being there for all the money in the world. Gary's wife, Barbara contributed to our comfort by giving us the master bedroom with its very comfortable mattress.

On Mother's Day, May 11, 1969 a forward air controller pilot, Major John Johnston USAF, flying an OV-10 Bronco, transmitted the call "Mayday, Mayday, Mayday" as he witnessed the Marine F-4 Phantom jet fighter he was controlling get hit with anti-aircraft fire and go down. The target was an anti-aircraft position on the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos, the most hostile and heavily defended part of the "Trail". My younger brother Gary was in that aircraft. Forty years later, also on Mother's Day, the principal players in his dramatic rescue congregated at Gary's country place in Oklahoma and relived the rescue. Fox News recorded the reunion that was forty years in the making and the result of innumerable hours and days spent searching the internet in order to locate everyone and arrange for the meeting. Gary had previously met the PJ (Pararescue Jumper) Dennis Palmer when he went down the hoist from the helicopter to get him, but the others of the helicopter crew hadn't had time to talk much with him during the rescue and the trip to the Da Nang Hospital. They were too busy lifting him out of the jungle and getting the heck away from the hostile fire. The Aircraft Commander of the Jolly Green chopper had not seen any of the crew members, nor had any of them seen each other, since leaving 'Nam in 1969. The co-pilot, Martin Richert, stopped by Gary's in 2001 when they met for the first time. And Gary met Dennis Palmer in Colorado in 2006. It was there that Dennis returned the name tag he had taken from Gary's flight suit and had held for 37 years. Then at the reunion, much to Dennis's surprise, Gary returned it to Dennis and it was on the plaque he presented to him. Gary also returned a cigarette lighter that Thibodeau, the Flight Engineer on the Jolly Green chopper, had given him just after the rescue. Dennis also traded Gary for his pistol. The PJ's always disarmed their saved pilots because they never knew what state of mind they were in. Dennis said he carried that snub-nosed pistol on every flight since that mission and was truly perturbed when he relocated stateside and the higher authorities relieved him of it.

Betty and I caught a ride from the airport in Oklahoma with Capt. E.R. "Roy" Moore USMC, Ret. He was the first of the responding pilots who were in the area and heard the forward air controller, John Johnston transmit that a pilot was down. John and Roy stayed on the scene as long as they possibly could and expended all their rockets and ammo trying to keep the bad guys away from the survivor. Roy said he asked for a refueling tanker, which wasn't supposed to go into Laos (the war there was a "secret" at the time) but that pilot came on anyway and gave him some fuel so he could stay on the scene longer. Roy told Gary and the others at the reunion that he was thinking if it was him that had been shot down in that extremely bad area, he would sure be wanting anyone up there to do all they could to get him out. John kept advising Gary how near the rescue helicopter (The Jolly Green Giant) was from the crash site and kept encouraging him to stay by his parachute and to stay cool because rescue was on the way.

When the Jolly Green HH-3 chopper arrived, it used a jungle penetrator on a cable and hoist for the PJ, Dennis Palmer, to descend and carry Gary to the penetrator. The enemy fire was so heavy the Jolly Green took off before they could be reeled in. In fact, they were at 7,000 feet before both of them were inside the helicopter. The Flight Engineer, Thibodeau, manned the hoist and fired the machine guns when he could. The co-pilot fired clip after clip out his window with a CAR-15 to suppress the incoming enemy fire.

Talk about a small world: on the way to Gary's place, Roy and I and Betty began talking of where we were from, and it turned out that Roy's first cousin was a relative of one of Betty's sisters. We had been to his cousin's home in Jasper, Texas not too long ago!

An audio tape of the rescue surfaced a few months ago and Gary used it to find as many of the players as he could. John Johnston, the forward air controller, had a recording of his conversation as a FAC and everyone was able to hear him talking to Gary and advising him of how far out the rescue was and telling him of the ordnance being dropped to prevent the bad guys from getting him. The recording also has him talking to many other pilots on the scene. He had three radios going but his voice was as calm as a summer day despite the threat of more antiaircraft fire in the area. He stayed over the crash site and when he and Roy had to leave because of low fuel the A-1 Skyraider pilots had arrived and took over as OSC (On Scene Commander). The twelve A-1's, call signs Sandy, Spad and Hobo carried as much ordnance each as a B-17 from the second World War and included machine guns, napalm, bombs, other assorted weapons including "Special Weapons" which we can now say, was 'gas'. The A-1's attempted to neutralize the enemy, and then called the Jolly Green in. When the chopper hit the hover to pick Gary up the Skyraiders set up a "Daisy Chain" and pounded the area around the chopper with everything they had to keep the enemy at bay. John is eighty years old now but is still a real pistol. He kept us all entertained with outlandish one-liners and hilarious comments.

I met Dennis Palmer, the PJ who came down the hoist and attached Gary to it. Gary had a broken arm, broken leg and other injuries from the force of ejecting at over 500 miles per hour. Dennis said the hoist began vibrating as they were being shot at (the nose gear of the Jolly Green was shot away). The pilot of the chopper, Pete Hall got the heck out of there so quick that Gary and Dennis weren't able to get inside until it was 7,000 feet in the air!

All but one of the Jolly Green crew was present when Roy, Betty and I arrived at Gary's place. The Jolly Green crews always leave their trademark wherever they go, a pair of green footprints. Gary had gotten a jump on them by painting a set of giant green footprints on the tarmac at his gate. They got him back by planting a sticker of two green feet on his motor home he and Barb use for vacations. The first thing I saw after his house came into view was the propane tank. Gary had painted it in camouflage colors and upended a big ceiling fan on top of it, also painted, and had a pretty good replica of a helicopter complete with a tail rotor and refueling probe!

We three were introduced to the others, Don Dunaway, representing the A-1 drivers, Pete Hall, Palmer and Richert and as soon as we had our gear inside we came back out and joined them in drinking some beer. For most of us, the two days of the reunion saw us drink more beer than we had in years.

John Johnston and his wife got lost trying to drive from Oklahoma City to Gary's place and wound up spending several hours on the road, not arriving until after I had gone to bed. And then Thibodeau and his wife got lost Sunday and were late getting to the reunion.

This was Saturday, the day before the festivities. John Johnston and his wife, Anna, stayed the night and of course Betty and I did, too. We were given the master bedroom. For the evening meal we were treated to the biggest most tender filet mignons I've ever eaten and the six pilots and crew members, their wives, and other company sat around telling war stories and reenacting the rescue.

Sunday was when the real festivities began. Gary had catered three full meals for the day so we started off with sausage, bacon, biscuits, gravy, potatoes and eggs. The noon meal was hamburgers and homemade chocolate chip cokies and the evening meal was roast pig and all the side dishes, and delicious peach cobbler.

By the time the Sunday was underway a joke was making the rounds that Gary had takeoffs down pat but he still hadn't learned how to land properly. There may be some truth in it since he lost three jets during his career in the Marines.

The afternoon began with Fox News interviewing and recording all the men involved in the rescue.

I talked to Marty, the co-pilot of the Jolly Green chopper. He told me the hair stood up on the back of his neck when Gary finally located him and called--and as his first words gave his old call sign from the rescue! John Johnston had always wondered what happened to Gary. He had no idea if he had even lived or not. His wife, Anna, told me that only a month or so before he had wondered again if Gary had lived through his injuries. She said that one rescue and one that didn't go so well were the only events from Vietnam he ever talked about.

The year before the reunion, a military team had located the crash site and Gary had pictures of it. They found some gear from his rear seat officer but the crash had been so severe and the flames so hot there were no remains recovered. Note: The dedication of my novel, Medics Wild, includes his name, Lt. William C. Ryan, along with two other deceased veterans.

Gary had also fixed up a giant bulletin board with pictures and an event display showing the time and situation of just about every minute of almost three hours he spent on the ground.

John Johnston had kept his "Party Suit". This was a black flight suit with the unit insignia of all the units he had been in attached to it and included a white and red polka-dotted scarf. All the pilots of his squadron wore one of the same type when drinking after their missions. John brought his party suit to the reunion but unfortunately, he was unable to get into it after forty years. He wanted someone to model it and as it turned out, I was the only man there who was slim enough to get into it. I wore it for an hour, long enough to be recorded drinking a beer and talking to the guys. Here's a picture of me in the suit with the propane tank helicopter:

John Johnston


All afternoon there were DVDs being shown of PJ training and other related military happenings. I, for one, had no idea how long and strenuous the training is to become a Pararescue Jumper. By the way, Dennis was the PJ for the ill-fated Apollo thirteen.

John Johnson's son is a television producer. For the reunion, he used stock footage, pictures, and the audio recording of the rescue that became available and produced a five minute dramatic re-enactment of the rescue. It brought tears to the eyes every time it was shown. Gary gave us each a copy.

The highlight of the afternoon was when Gary presented a plaque to each man that participated in the rescue and their role in the rescue. After presenting the plaque, Gary and the one he gave it to hugged and Gary thanked him personally for saving his life. The scene was repeated for each one of them. Thanking his rescuers was very emotional for all of them. Tears were shed. Don Dunaway had flown 155 missions in the Skyraider and led six successful rescues also received one for all the support he gave Gary in doing his research and because no other A-1 pilots could be located that could attend the reunion.

Later that day I went around to each of them and thanked them. I told them that rescuing Gary not only saved my brother but saved my best friend.

Betty and I had a great time talking to the wives and hearing their side of the story. Mostly the men hadn't talked about their experiences during the period since the war but the Rescue Reunion brought a lot of it out.

Many of Gary and Barbara's friends and family were present. I was the only one of Gary's family there. None of our other brothers or sisters were able to make it, mostly because of medical reasons. I think it is remarkable that the whole crew of the Jolly Green and the first two pilots on the scene of the crash were all still alive and able to travel after forty years. The youngest is now sixty and the oldest eighty but they are all still full of life and are all remarkable men. And their motto, "That others may Live", is what the reunion was all about. The country will always owe a debt to these men, these heroes. They are the epitome of what is meant when we say "veteran".

Betty and I stayed on until Wednesday. One of the Jolly Green crew, James Thibodeau, also stayed until Wednesday. We kidded him about being from Connecticut instead of Louisiana where a name like that is common.

Betty made a batch of fried pies for Tuesday breakfast, especially in Gary's honor. He loves them and especially loves the way Betty makes them. None of us are supposed to be eating fried pies but they disappeared with alacrity! In case you don't know, a fried pie is made of a flaky crust surrounding a fruit filling and deep fried in Crisco. Betty is a master of making them and taught Gary the technique while we were there.

It is impossible to recount every word and every event but suffice to say that all in all it was a very emotional five days that I wouldn't have missed for anything. Barbara made the supreme sacrifice of all by ignoring her horses while the reunion was taking place. She is a true patriot and loves the military, especially those brave men that gave her Gary!!

The link to you tube:

Link to the newspaper story:

If still available the link to the Fox news story is:

I think I've mentioned Tonto the ADHD idiot dachshund's eating habits, but in case you haven't read much about Tonto, he is cross-eyed and can't see too well, but there's nothing wrong with his sniffer. When anything new is put into his food bowl, he circles it, sniffs, pecks it with his nose, lays down and studies it, gets up and studies it and after about fifteen minutes he may or may not decide to eat. That's all he did until one day not long ago. Betty put some leftover salmon in his bowl. He didn't waste any time on preliminaries. He stood back and barked at it! After he was sure it was barked to death he left it alone for Betty to throw away and put some real food in his bowl.

Future of America
After the financial bust and all the money the government has borrowed to "fix" the economy, piled on top of all the other money our government has borrowed, I see nothing ahead except devalued money, inflation and a lower standard of living for a generation or maybe two. There is one possible cure, perhaps two. The first is space technology by private enterprise. It is moving along quicker than I thought it would. In another twenty years it might get big enough to pull us back to the standard of living we used to have. The other is energy technology. It is possible new energy technology not dependent on oil could become a booming business within twenty years and that could also get our standard of living back. There are probably other possibilities I haven't thought about or read about. I'd sure like to see any of them come along in a hurry so our kids and grandkids could retire in comfort. And live in comfort.

Thanks for reading.

Darrell Bain
Shepherd, Texas
June 2009


Excerpt from The Y Factor
A Human by Choice Novel


Chapter One


"How in hell did you get in here?" I asked, staring at the youngish looking man with a lazy smile who had somehow talked his way past Carol, my AA.

He stopped in front my desk, waiting on me to say something. Which I just had and didn't want to repeat myself. Carol Genoa is a very hard person to fool. She can change the expression on her normally pretty face to an icy formality capable of stopping a tank in its tracks if need be. He must have known in advance I wasn't seeing visitors and walked right past her without looking. Even so, why hadn't Carol alerted me?

Barging in without first making an appointment isn't the way to get off on the right foot with me, either. I hate being interrupted at work and set specific times of the week for necessary administrative tasks. This man had walked into my laboratory office at Havel Genecrafters on Tuesday afternoon, just when I was sitting at my desk in the middle of a creative haze. I was mapping out the design of a new ultra microscope I had hopes of one day using to study specific genes in the very act of assembling organic protein catalysts, from transcription to translation to assembly, all without disturbing the living cells, nuclei, chromosomes or genes. It would involve highly speeded up data observation and transfer using a computer program I had partially designed and thought could manage the process. The programmers were already working with it, chasing bugs and inconsistencies. If it all fell into place, I thought that maybe in another decade or so I'd start getting a handle on the specifics of how gene expression is affected so greatly by the environment. All we know at present is that it is, not how. Or not much of how, anyway.

"I didn't say who I'm with, Miss Trung, but I represent an agency of the United States Government. My name is Gene Smith." He smiled, but didn't offer his hand, probably knowing I'd refuse it. He also pronounced the "Miss" so there was no mistaking it with the more generic Ms. I prefer the old fashioned term Miss for unmarried women but I haven't cared much for government agencies since working with NHA. Besides, I doubted his name was Smith. He had the same air of secrecy about him as the security agents I'd been forced to deal with during that one period of temporary insanity when I did research for the National Health Administration.

"It's Ms. Trung," I said coldly, just to throw him off balance. If he already knew I'd rather be referred to as Miss, he knew too much about me already. "And I don't believe I have anything to say to the government."

"Oh? I think I can convince you otherwise. And I would have sworn you preferred to be addressed as Miss Trung so long as we're being formal." He smiled again, as if he didn't have a care in the world, but I sensed some steel beneath that handsome exterior.

How much background did he have on me, anyway? Not that it mattered. I was perfectly satisfied working for the Havel brothers, Lester and Chester, the founders and still majority stockholders of Havel Genecrafters, Inc. I liked the area, too, near enough to Houston for the things a big city can supply but far enough from the bustle of commuters not to be bothered by them.

"The exit is that way, Mr. Smith." I pointed. "Please use it. And make an appointment next time you want to see me." Not that I would grant it, but I wanted to emphasize my point. I didn't want to work for the government again. Too much paperwork, not enough real work.

He stood fast, making me wonder if I'd have to call security to get rid of him. The next thing he said made me hesitate, though.

"Miss Trung, suppose I offered you a job doing research at a level I know you and only a very few others are qualified for. At a much higher salary, I might add. You could do whatever research you pleased. We'll order any instruments you think you might need or have someone design and engineer them for you if they don't exist. We'll pay whatever you like and take care of all the moving for you. If there's anything else you want, all you have to do is ask and we can probably arrange it."

"No thanks," I told him. I admitted to myself I was interested but was careful not to let it show. Whatever agency he represented was obviously well funded and desperate for personnel in my specialties, evolutionary and environmental genetics and molecular microbiochemistry. And maybe someone like me who also grokked computers. Still, it was a government job he was talking about. "Not unless you tell me more than you have so far and it would be very doubtful even then."

He noticed I hadn't asked him to leave again, though. Smart man. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a little black rectangular object about two inches long and a half inch in its other dimensions. He turned away from me and mumbled something while holding it close to his mouth. When he was facing me again, he held it cupped loosely in his hand at waist level.

"Xenobiology," he said, one word and nothing else.

While I was staring at him, Carol came in, looking flustered and very embarrassed. She brushed a strand of fine blonde hair from her forehead and said "I'm sorry Miss Trung. I don't know how he got in here. He must have walked right by me when I had my back to the door looking for a file."

"It's all right, Carol. Something to drink, Mr. Smith?"

"Some coffee would be nice. It's been a long day. Black, please."

"Bring me a cup, too, Carol, please. Then close the door and don't let anyone else inside."

"Yes, ma'am." She was being very formal, the way she always is when others are around. In private, we use first names. She looked speculatively at Mr. Smith then hurried off. She was back in a minute, carrying the coffee on a tray.

Once she was gone, I leaned back in my chair and took a sip of the rich Columbian brew as only Carol can make it. She won't let me near the coffee pot. She says I must have learned how to brew coffee at an all night hamburger joint.

"You have one of those aliens," I stated.

"Right you are, Miss Trung. More than one, actually. And let me start off by apologizing. Someone dropped the ball by not contacting you as soon as we began assembling our first team. You should have already been aboard."

How long had they been working with the aliens? Their presence on earth was a widely accepted fact ever since the body of one had been recovered in Mexico a number of months ago but no government was admitting they knew much about them, including ours. There was no denying the way developments in space had suddenly speeded up, though. I had wondered about it and thought maybe we had recovered the ship the Mexico alien arrived on. And I seriously doubted that huge explosion that ripped up China's spaceport hadn't been caused by them playing with firecrackers. But a live alien? Goddamn it, I would have given both tits any day of my life to see what the gene structure of a completely alien species looked like--or didn't look like. They might not even use genes. My mind was already whirling with so many possibilities that he had to repeat himself. I hadn't heard him the first time.

"I said, 'How soon can you leave?' "

"Oh. Sorry." I thought for a moment. There was no question of me not taking the job, even as little as I knew about it, but there were other factors involved. "I'll have to give notice. I can't leave Les and Ches without some preparation for my replacement."

He waved a negligent hand. "We'll take care of that. They both hold reserve commissions. If necessary we'll call them back to active duty and have them work for us."

"I don't like that approach. They deserve better."

"You misconstrue, Miss Trung. I believe they would be glad to come under any conditions, or release you from further obligation once they know why you're leaving. He pulled another gadget our of his coat pocket, this time an ordinary PDA, and spoke to it then flipped it back shut. "Anything else?"

The man did appear to be the type who got things done in a hurry, an unusual trait for a government employee. Which reminded me.

"Yes. May I bring Carol, my AA with me?"

He winced first, then eyed me speculatively. My mixed Vietnamese and American ancestry left me with dark brown hair and a slight tilt to my eyes, the bare remnant of an epicanthic fold. I'm no beauty, but I know I'm not bad to look at, and I do have more on top than most oriental women.

"Did we miss something? I thought." His voice trailed off, leaving him at a loss for words for the first time.

"No, you didn't miss anything Mr. Smith." I had to laugh, knowing what he was thinking. "It's nothing like that. Carol Genoa is simply the most efficient person I've ever worked with. I'd have a hard time getting along without her."

He had the grace to blush. I could see him relax, but not completely. "Call me Gene. You'll be seeing a lot of me. I'm the guy to go to when you have an administrative problem that's hampering your work. About Carol--I wasn't expecting that, so she'll have to be vetted, and it would be much better if her disappearing from sight didn't leave any loose ends. Never mind, though. We'll manage, one way or another. It's my job to see that the scientists get what they want and aren't bothered by the paper shufflers."

That made me feel better. Carol would love working with an alien, too. We first met at a science fiction convention in Amarillo where my parents lived before they were killed in the Goldenrod Mall Massacre by home grown Islamic Jihadists, the worst kind because they're so hard to identify. Carol impressed me by the way she organized the convention that year. I've never been to one that went off so smoothly, from hotel room service to the Con Room and everything in between. We began corresponding and two years after the convention she came to Havel Genecrafters with me. Our relationship is as much friend to friend as supervisor to subordinate. Not only is she supremely efficient at work, she's fun to be with off duty. We went out together when neither of us was seeing anyone special, and about once a month or so, regardless. I tend to get so involved with work that I need to unwind once in a while without having a man around to worry about. Lately that hadn't been a problem since I hadn't found one I cared for after breaking up with Ken. Or since he broke up with me, I should say. I smiled to myself, thinking of the expression I would see on Carol's face when I told her we'd be changing jobs and meeting an alien.

"That's fine, then. We can leave as soon as you've cleared it with the Havel brothers. Most of my friends call me Mai, or sometimes Cherry."

"I wondered about that so I looked it up. Mai Li Trung. I take it the Cherry comes from cherry blossom. Is that right?"

"Yes. Mai means 'Cherry Blossom' when it's pronounced correctly. Vietnamese is a tonal language."

"So I've heard. It's a pretty name either way, but I'll call you Mai if I may."

"Certainly. Just don't read anything into my middle name. I don't know why my parents stuck Li in there and I never bothered to ask. Enough about names. What comes next?" I don't like wasting time on idle chatter, not at work.

"Let's get Carol in here so I can get some background on her."

"I can tell you a little about her myself if you'll tell me how you sneaked by her."

"I used an invisibility cloak," he said without cracking a smile. "Okay. Shoot."

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