John S. McCain III Has Passed

Lt Cmdr John S. McCain III was a hero to me. I idolized him and wanted to be like him when I reported to Navy AOCS in Pensacola. That was in May of 1975, two years after McCain had been released from a North Vietnamese prison, and just weeks after the fall of Saigon.

I received my commission in November of 1976. One of the traditions in a commissioning ceremony is that the Navy Hymn is sung after the new Ensigns have have taken that oath to “defend the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” but before the benediction.

It was a proud moment in my life. Receiving that commission and pinning on those gold bars was quite an experience.

The very inauspicious chapter of my Navy career when, four months later, I dropped flight training and was then told by a disposition board that the Navy didn’t need me in the surface fleet was a huge disappointment.

I was as deflated and numb going through that experience as I had been pleased and proud four months before when our band of brand-new Ensigns sang the Navy Hymn together.

For some reason, I still remember the words. But that has nothing to do with my admiration for Senator McCain.

This is hard to explain, but even though the career I had dreamed about for years fell apart when I got into the hard part of Naval flight training, the eight months I was in Uncle Sam’s Navy marked me for life.

I’ve never lost sight of how vitally important it is to be a part of something greater than myself. Working as a team doesn’t come naturally for me, I’m too much of a lone wolf.

But I learned how to do that in those 16 weeks of Aviation Officer Candidate School.

I learned that the rigors of military life and the necessity of putting the needs of your unit, your mates and the folks back home ahead of your own could impose a very high cost on the individual.

I never had to pay any cost for my shipmates. Or my country. I never knew the perils of an angry sea or a determined enemy.

John McCain did. That’s the kind of man he was. That’s the kind of life he lived.

Lt Cmdr McCain completed 22 very perilous missions over the skies of North Vietnam before his A-4 Skyhawk was shot out of the sky in October of 1967.

The story of how he spent 5 1/2 years as a POW in the infamous Hanoi Hilton is well-known. What some may have forgotten is that his North Vietnamese captors offered to release him shortly after they learned that his father, Adm John McCain Jr., was the Commander of American forces in Vietnam.

But John refused to be released under those conditions and finally made it home with his comrades-in-arms in 1973, under the terms of the Paris Peace Accord.

The never-ending maltreatment and torture that McCain endured in his years of imprisonment left him with a lifetime of debilitating injuries. You may have noticed that he was never able to raise his arms above his shoulders when waving to crowds at political events.

That can happen when your wrists are lashed together behind your back, you’re suspended from the ceiling and the sadists who are trying to break you have the ropes so taut that you can’t get both feet flat on the dirt floor beneath you.

These are the kinds of sacrifices that John McCain made. Cmdr McCain and our other POW’s endured hardships and made sacrifices for their country and their loved ones that you and I can’t even imagine.

They did it in fulfillment of the oath they all took. They did it without “reservation or purpose of evasion” just as they had sworn to do.

That’s the kind of man, the kind of hero John McCain was.

The many years of service he gave to his country after he retired from the Navy have been chronicled over and over. One can read reams of information about that part of his service to our country now that he’s passed.

I admire him greatly for his time in the US Senate. He always deported himself with great dignity. He always acted with the courage of his convictions.

I admire him no less as a politician and public servant as I did when his service to country put him in constant peril of life and limb. His fearlessness and his integrity inspire me as much today as they did when I wanted to follow in his footsteps as a 21 year old Officer Candidate.

All told, he rendered more than 60 years of faithful service to the United States. He never shirked his duty, even under conditions that would have broken ordinary men.

I’m not sure why, exactly, but the first thing that happened for me when I heard the news of his passing a few hours ago, is that the strains of the Navy Hymn began to “play” in my head.

I aspired to greatness as a young man so many years ago while singing those words with my mates. Alas, there was to be no greatness in my brief, inglorious military career.

But I, like you, recognize greatness instantly when I see it or hear of it.

I recognized greatness in John McCain more than 43 ago. His selflessness, his devotion to his family, his fellows and his country stand out like that lighthouse at Fort Barrancas on a squally night.

God rest your warrior’s soul, Cmdr McCain. Thank you for your lifetime of selfless service to the country you loved so well.

 

© 2018 Ben Lawrence Basile
All Rights Reserved

The words of the Navy Hymn:

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard
And hushed their raging at Thy word,
Who walked’st on the foaming deep,
And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

Oh, Watchful Father who dost keep
Eternal vigil while we sleep
Guide those who navigate on high
Who through grave unknown perils fly,
Receive our oft-repeated prayer
For those in peril in the air.

The United States Navy Chorus singing
“Eternal Father Strong to Save”

Lone Cabbage Fish Camp

Lone Cabbage Fish Camp

If you live in Orlando and go to Cocoa or Cocoa Beach very often, you’ve passed Lone Cabbage Fish Camp, no doubt.

There are several ways to get to the Cocoa area from O’do and I’d venture to say that SR 520 is the most common route if you’re not fond of tolls. The Beach Line Expressway has them, but SR 520 does not.

Lone Cabbage is that little outpost of civilization on your right as you’re crossing the St John’s River and entering Brevard County.

If you don’t turn in at Lone Cabbage in search of an air boat ride–yes, they certainly do those–you’re most likely on a quest for good, local seafood and a beer or two to wash it down.

I had lunch at Lone Cabbage yesterday after about a thousand trips to Cocoa Beach over that well-travel road and I’m glad I did.

I ordered the Catfish Dinner, took it just the way it comes–with hushpuppies, their seasoned fries and slaw and chased it with a Coors Light. (No beer taps in this well-worn and very authentic joint, but about 15 different bottled brands.)

The Catfish was good and the fries were above average. They had lived under a heat lamp just a few moments too long by my standard, but when you sit down in a busy eatery at straight-up noon, that’s how it usually goes.

I love a good, freshly-made cole slaw and theirs was tasty and not overly-sweet. When the sugar kicks all the other ingredients into the back seat–something that’s far from rare in many home-style restaurants–I don’t like it!

I’d like to think that an establishment with cabbage in the name joint would have amazing slaw and although that’s not the case, it’s certainly not a situation where this often under-appreciated side dish warranted “points off”!

Yikes! I’ve become a “slaw snob”!

My impressions of Lone Cabbage Fish Camp are just fine so far. To have a more complete picture, I’d like to have more than only one dish and check out the air boat rides as well. But based on poking around the site and the County Park next to it a couple of times and patronizing it once, I certainly can recommend it. It’s well-known around the East Central Florida region and has been busy the times I’ve stopped by.

The next time you’re breezing down SR 520 mid-way between Cocoa and Orlando, stop in at Lone Cabbage and take in this landmark. You’ll pass a small Brevard Co. Park, James Bourbeau Memorial, where there is a public boat ramp and public rest rooms.

LoneCabb-airboat-rides-sign

And right next door, you’ll find Lone Cabbage. The basic boat ride does not require a reservation, but the bigger packages do. The minimum wait is 30 minutes. The perfect time to grab a quick lunch!

To visit their site and see more about LCFC, including the menu, just click on this link.

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credits Ben Lawrence Basile

 

 

 

 

Twofer Tuesday with Manafort and Cohen!

Note: my primary focus here on da-bulldog-blog is outdoor fun, nature photography and all but I still get into the political stuff with big stories. And this is certainly one!

By now you’ve quite likely heard that former tRump campaign manager Paul Manafort was convicted on eight of the 18 original counts he was facing. The jury was deadlocked on the other counts, we’ll see how that part of the story unfolds later.

Meanwhile, tRump’s long-time personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen plead guilty to eight charges in a Federal Court in Manhattan today and said very plainly that he made the two illegal payouts–one to Stormy Daniels and one to Karen McDougal–because tRump directed him to. And that he did it in order to influence the 2016 Presidential Election.

Cohen is scheduled to be sentenced on December 12th.

Donald is toast. The dam is most definitely breaking!

Because his delusional supporters are dug in so deeply, it will take more than today’s proceedings to dislodge him from the office he stole back on 11/9 but we can all see the handwriting on the wall now.

Not only does he have cult-like thrall over his Kool Aid chugging followers, but the Federal Government is run by his sycophants, enablers and co-conspirators, so we’re not going to see the curtain go down quite yet.

But we can all see now that it’s just a matter of time.

Hey, #LyingLoserPrez! Are you feelin’ Bob Mueller’s hot breath on your neck yet?

Yeah. I knew you were.

 

Breathin’ just a bit easier on this Twofer Tuesday, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

© 2018 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photography Matters!

Photography Matters!

Photography does matter! It certainly does to me; it’s a very big thing indeed!

I’m thinking you’re not too different from me on that score. Otherwise, you’d likely not be reading this post.

I keep my eye on a couple of calendars that track “National This Day” or “World That Day” and I think that’s a good thing. A lot of good conversation starters. And resources like that can certainly generate plenty of material for bloggers like yours truly.

A handful of those special days are really big for me.

World Photography Day, observed on August 19th each yearis one.

You might wonder how much importance I truly place on it, being as how the post is going up with a few scant minutes in the designated day.

That’s just because I had a distraction or two going on today. And because I’m of the  better late than never persuasion, here’s my tardy post where I try with 200 words and two photos to impress upon a handful of readers just how amazing the taking and sharing of photographs is!

The banner photo is one of which I am especially fond. That one was taken at Moss Park in southeast Orlando back in 2016.

And this one here, beneath the text you’re reading now is another favorite. I took it in Orange County’s Trimble Park in 2017. I haven’t published it anywhere before.

%0-Woodpecker-at-Long-Point-cropped-2m464i

Enjoy photography today! Any and every aspect of it.

And if you’re inclined to share some of your photos with us, that would be a wonderful way to mark the occasion. Whether you “beat the clock” or not!

 

 

 

An ardent practitioner and promoter of the photographic arts, I am,

Benjamin Lawrence Basile

 

Photo credits Ben Lawrence Basile

 

 

Alligator Season begins today

Alligator Season begins today

Here in the Sunshine State, there’s a Gator Season each summer that lasts for 30 days. The season opens today.

If you’d like to know more about gator hunting in these parts,  here’s a bulletin from our Fish And Wildlife Commission where you can get up to date on Gator Season if you wish.

I do hold a Hunting and Fishing license but won’t be out looking for gator hide this year. Don’t have the boat; don’t have the gear!

And you do need to pull tags for gators specifically, as you do in Florida for most game.

Haven’t done it, not likely I ever will but I’m thinking it’s about as intense as hunting gets.

For those of us who aren’t likely to ever join in for real, Swamp People on the History Channel is always an option!

 

Power-relaxing in F-L-A today, I am,

Bulldog Ben Basile

 

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

 

 

The forecast calls for chill

The forecast calls for chill

Somewhere along the line, someone decreed that today would be “National Relaxation Day!”

I’m down with that! And it’s a perfect time to pass along my sincere wish that you have an amazing and low-stress day!

This happens to be a regular day off for me. I realize that I may not have a lot of company, this being a Wednesday and all.

But whether you’re on or off the clock, I certainly hope there’s a healthy dose of tranquility and fun in your day.

If the outlook for your day doesn’t seem to be all that mellow, this may be a good opportunity to do what you can to turn it into a more serene scene.

My perfectly-chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio and I are rooting for you.

 

 

A delighted denizen of chilltown, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

 

© 2018 Ben Lawrence Basile

 

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

 

Big Storm in Orlando means one RV’er is NOT a Happy Camper!

Big Storm in Orlando means one RV’er is NOT a Happy Camper!

Just saw this feature while cruising some news sites. What a story this is!

I have camped here, twice. Very nice park. I have not camped where this gentleman was because the park has separate areas for RV’ers and tent campers like yours truly. The RV section is on the left about a quarter mile before the tent spaces; they are much closer to Turkey Lake, the showers and the cabins.

When this big storm hit us yesterday evening, I was impressed, to say the least! I was absolutely hoping that we didn’t have issues with a window or some part of the roof being wind-compromised and suddenly having to deal with water in the house. (I’m renting in a 60 year old home that’s not in the very best shape.)

Grateful that, in the end, I didn’t have a problem with this huge Florida thunderstorm, but Mr. James Williams certainly did. A very large limb from a large oak came down and not only ripped a huge gash in the RV, but blocked our unhappy camper from getting out of his now-destroyed RV!

The stalwart survivor of this camping catastrophe did dial 911. The City of Orlando Fire and Rescue crews did what they do, and the Red Cross is giving James, and some others around the Orlando Metro area, secure and dry shelter for now.

A closing thought: camping is so much damn fun, I hope Mr. Williams is able to go on enjoying this awesome American pastime moving forward in spite of Wednesday’s vicious storm.

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit: Ben Lawrence Basile is the owner of this photo that shows the park on a much, much nicer day. November 27th of last year, to be precise!

After thoughts: the park’s official name is Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake, but although I’m often a stickler for precision, I call it Turkey Lake Park as many locals do. This fine park and resort is the only camping spot in the city’s park system; it sits less than two miles north of Universal Studios.

I’ve posted here before about camping in this nice enclave of tranquility inside Orlando city limits. That post is right here.