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BOLTON HOLLOWAY OLIVELEAF PORTAL
LARRY C. ERICKSEN
were not there for long, because they sent every plane off the
ground that could fly. They wanted the airfield cleared fast
because when airplanes are airborne they are safer, away from
ground attack. I was dragged onboard the C-130 transport,
stunned at the sight closing from my view as the doors on the
C-130 shut. We left and in a few hours were back at U-Tapao.
Again, I watched the event on TV, broadcast in the news.
Shortly after that, I returned to the USA. The event
was still in the news. Again on TV, I watched it happen
another time. The three views were not the same. Each viewing
of the event was shorter than the last, with less detail. The
recounting of the event varied incalculably, between Thailand and the USA.
However that event, viewed by my own eyes, did not happen. You
can search the internet for C-5 Galaxy crashes and you will
find a similar event in Vietnam, 4
April 1975; however, with many fewer causalities.
I feel that my
life has been a spiritual journey from the beginning.
become a chameleon and a shape shifter! I can, do, and did
shape-shift into any environment. I became capable of blending
in, shape shifting into anything any time in order to feel
safe, and accepted. I just wanted my dilutions (delusions) to
remain intact and consistent. Maybe it is just clinical
lycanthrophy. All I wanted was to remain like the little
child, trusting, adventuresome, exploring, innocent, loved,
accepted, and safe.
I tested and retested people, situations, and
institutions, often to my dismay. However, still I insisted in
trusting, allowing, forgiving, and giving second chances,
always turning the other cheek to the seven times seventy
times, plus, degree. No matter how many times they
did it, or what, they did to me. Always second chances I gave
them, to every one, every time. For me the last intact vestige
of truth and right lay in my belief in our
country, the United States of America,
the protector of truth and innocence, and its last sanctuary.
Created under the watchful eye of God and ordained by God’s
almighty hand. The USA stood as
the bastion of truth in the world and was completely
trustworthy. This is true, is it not? Ever trying to be the
hero, I swore an oath to serve and to defend, the essence
embodied in the USA, against
ALL Enemies Foreign and Domestic. To me the oath was for life.
That was before, before the Air Force, and before
that one moment in time!
born and raised in central Utah, in a town of 1500.
I was always interested in the old farm machines strewn about
no longer used. One particular machine fascinated me because
of the complexity amassed within it. The machine’s design was
within an old, wooden, horse-drawn buckboard wagon. In the
front was a small wooden seat held up on each end by two
opposing leaf springs. To the right and left of the seat were
two or three steel levers, each lever with a spoon-like
release at the grips. The driver used these levers to engage
different gears and mechanisms at the rear of the wagon. The
rear wheels were steel, about five feet tall and over six
inches wide with cleats on the outer surface. In the bottom of
the wagon were chains on the outside connected across the
bottom with bars. These chains and bars circled around and
under the entire bottom of the wagon from the front to the
back. At the rear of the bed was this mass of gears, wheels,
and blades that seemed to go in every direction, like the
inside of a clock.
joined the Air Force, my intrigue with machinery continued.
One very exciting day, a C-5 Galaxy was coming to land at our
base for the first time. It came straight in to the runway.
From a distance, it looked like a C-130 Hercules. We watched
it coming in to land and it just hung out in the air forever.
As it turned out, we had watched it approach from 50 to 75
miles away. How could something so big seem to just float in
mid air? After a long wait, the C-5 landed in just a few
hundred feet, slowly, softly, unlike many other planes. It was
more like a feather floating down without wind. The engines
were so big I could stand in the front opening of the intake
and I could only reach the middle of the engine’s front
impeller blades. The entire front of the plane lifted up,
opening the fuselage completely. With the rear doors open, the
third stage booster of the moon rocket could fit inside. The
house where I lived as a child and the yard I played in could
have fit inside the C-5 with extra room left over. I rode in a
C-5 on the way back home as I left from Thailand, maybe
not just coincidence!
Thailand, was my assigned duty station. Others and I would go
other places from there on temporary duty assignments. One
place we would go is into Vietnam to
visit and shop. We did this by signing onto a cargo plane,
like a C-130, as part of the crew to assist the crew chief and
loadmaster with servicing, fuel and cargo. We could stay as
long as the aircraft and the rest of the crew stayed. These
short trips were great adventures, most of the time. I was
over there in 1974 and 1975 at the end of the Vietnam War.
Unlike some, I was further away from the active fighting,
stationed in a relatively safe place. On one occasion, on one
of these short excursions, it was different. The US
was evacuating many non-combatants at the time. One
evacuation, at that time, an airlift called “Operation Baby
Lift.” It was flying highly at risk mothers
and children out of Vietnam. On
this day, they had filled a C-5 Galaxy’s cargo bay to standing
room only. The C-5 was leaving just as we finished unloading
the cargo from the C-130. We were on the flight line and
everyone stopped what they were doing to watch the huge,
amazing plane depart. No matter how many times I saw the C-5,
it was always captivating. When they took off, they were the
only show in town; everyone watched. The plane has massive
lift and seems to jump right off the ground. Rising up into
the air, like a small bird fleeing a cat. Then
they just seemed to stop, in mid air, as they slowly went
higher and farther into the air. A white stream of smoke left
the ground from out beyond the end of the runway. The smoke
was extending up and out from the ground, a long, narrow,
billowing watercolor cloud streaming off the end of a brush.
The streaming cloud reached the C-5 and starburst, silently.
What followed I had only seen in similar visions watching the
old “machinistic” wagon at its work.
I saw the
old wagons I described before on a number of farms; however,
they seem to be obsolete and not used. They were either empty
or partly filled with animal manure. I would see them next to
a large pile of composted manure partly filled or empty. They
were never in motion. I had long past given up knowing their
true function. One day it finally happened and old puzzle
pieces fell into place. On one farm that had refused to
mechanize was a brand-new John Deere tractor pulling one of
those amazing wooden and steel mystery marvels. The sight was
captivating. I could see it all now. What the chains and bars
did along the bed of the wagon was move the manure back to the
clockworks at the rear of the wagon. The massive steel wheels
drove the gearing. Those clockwork gears, wheels, and blades
that seemed to go in every direction – sliced, shredded, and
flung the manure in small fragments in every direction
hundreds of feet across the field. Before, I had hunted in
fields with varying sized chunks of manure scattered somewhat
evenly throughout them, as I was seeing then. These fields
were another unsolved enigma, until I observed the wagon in
Everything speeds up as the C-5 shuddered
and the rear door jumped off the rear of the huge plane. The
smoke and doors blocked the view of the C-5 for a moment. As
the smoke began to quickly swirl and dissipate in the C-5’s
wake turbulence, the doors spun, and floated down, and away.
The pilot tried to circle around and land. Unfortunately, the
valiant attempt was doomed to failure for the giant Galaxy’s
structure had failed. The plane circled to the left in a broad
smooth sweep. There was the working wagon again in my mind’s
eye. The C-5 and the wagon became the same and one.
They are all falling out! In a long stream, the women
and children were just falling out from the back of the plane.
Then caught in the wake turbulence of the dying Galaxy, they
violently scattered behind the plane. Women and children,
scattered, like flailing fragments, falling, spread across
those fields, as I had watched the manure flying from the back
of that wagon in the fields, in my youth. The mammoth C-5
Galaxy crashed gracelessly, smoking, falling in the fields
short of the runway.
They were forcing everyone in the crew into
the C130. The scene outside closing from view, with the
closing doors of the plane, as it took off, not from the
runway but the taxiway, as rapid as possible. All counted and
recorded now in seconds, etched forever on my mind’s eye!
Still through a moment of remembering, I am there. I hear
their silent screams, now as then. It is the harbinger of
loss. I have described this event a number of times and never
the same way has it started. The one consistency is my
inability to remove it from my mind. The military does not
keep track of temporary duty assignments. After they finish,
we were not there. After the unfolding of this event, an end
was put to my naive innocence, and along with it faith, trust,
believing, and hope – all replaced with knowing! It is said,
“Know the truth and the truth will make you free.” Maybe, however, only, after, “the
truth” destroys the very foundation of your life. Knowing
truth, I may be free; maybe, yet, I am not able to truly live,
and I am not able to truly die. Doomed to the path of the
wounded healer – immortal, unable to die, and having fatal
I am a
Beyonder, an Otherkin. Like Job
from the Bible after his trials, he speaks to the vastness of
his knowing saying “I am from beyond Pleiades and I am brother
to dragons.” Myself, like Job and Peter, each had a major
life-altering spiritual event that changed them forever, and
like them I have a unique kind of knowing. At times, it is as
though I am standing in a room filled with blind ones and I am
the only one who sees; however they see me as blind, different
and unaccepted. My fragments scatter.
Larry C. Ericksen
Aircraft 68-0218 (C-5A) was involved in the best-known C-5
accident to this date. On April
4, 1975, the aircraft crashed while carrying
orphans out of Vietnam (Operation Baby Lift). The
crash occurred while trying to make an emergency landing at Tan Son Nhut Air Base Saigon,
following a door lock failure in flight. 144 adults and children
(including 76 babies) were killed out of the 305 aboard (243
children, 44 escorts, 16 crewmen and 2 flight nurses).
I was lecturing at the
University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Michael Kleine invited me
to his writing class. This story, of trauma, resonated so deeply
with my own experiences of war time (I can still burst into
tears at 55, at 70, remembering the machine-gunning and bombing,
civilians, women, children, myself among them, during
WWII), and my own experiences of soul shattering
in my Anglican convent, that I asked if I could publish
it. I also pray that all of us return to the innocence
that we lost, to our faith that was shattered. There
finding, again, happiness. We need both the innocence of
doves and the wisdom of serpents to achieve this.
Sometimes, to undo evil, we need to go backwards in time,
to before evil. I give thanks for Larry's courage. So do
all women and children.
I wrote on Oliveleaf, 'Where the trauma has been repeated and
the condition ignored, or covered over by denial, the prognosis
is less favourable. It can be deliberately induced in order to
control allegiance to evil'.
A similar reversed simile as in Larry Ericksen's essay, is made
in La3amon's Brut
(La3amon's Brut, ed.
Sir Frederic Madden, Society of Antiquities of London, 1847), to
express and simultaneously deny the horror of war:
3urstendći wes Baldulf; cnihten alre baldest.
nu he stant on hulle; & Auene bi-haldeđ.
hu ligeđ i ţan strćme; stelene fisces.
mid sweorde bi-georede; heore sund is awemmed.
heore scalen wleoteđ; swulc gold-fa3e sceldes.
ţer fleoteđ heore spiten; swulc hit spćren weoren.
Ţis beođ seolcuđe ţing; isi3en to ţissen londe.
swulche deor an hulle; swulche fisces in wćlle.
"Yesterday was Baldulf of all knights
boldest, but now he standeth on the hill, and beholdeth the Avon, how
the steel fishes lie in the stream! Armed with sword, their life is
destroyed; their scales float like gold-dyed shields; there float
their fins, as if it were spears. These are marvellous things come to
this land; such beasts on the hill, such fishes in the stream!
Baldulf is looking at drowned steel-clad knights like fish, but sees them as steel-clad fish like drowned knights.
I know of no other simile in literature that reverses in this way; not in Homer, not in Virgil, not in Milton.
Although they all describe the horrors of war by juxtaposing them to scenes of peaceable agriculture.
That same juxtapostion can be found in
the Ur Standard of 2700 B.C.
force not only artefacts but living individuals with a rich
culture into the present violence - which destroys history,
destroys culture, destroys humanity, destroys meaning, destroys
minds, bodies, souls.
Naomi Klein, The
OLIVELEAF WEBSITE || UMILTA
WEBSITE || OLIVELEAF WEBSITE
|| JULIAN OF NORWICH, TEXT AND
CONTEXTS, WEBSITE || BIRGITTA
OF SWEDEN, REVELATIONES, WEBSITE || CATALOGUE
AND PORTFOLIO (HANDCRAFTS, BOOKS ) || BOOK REVIEWS || BIBLIOGRAPHY || FLORIN WEBSITE