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  OLIVE LEAF

FALLING OUT

LARRY C. ERICKSEN


We really 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.

I am 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!

I was 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.

After I 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!

U-Tapao, 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 action.

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 wounds.

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



Wikipedia states: 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, of 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.   Lines 21323-30


                        "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. 


Ur Standard,  Peace


Ur Standard, War

We 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 Shock Doctrine: http://books.guardian.co.uk/video/2007/sep/07/naomiklein


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  ©1997-2017 JULIA BOLTON HOLLOWAY
OLIVELEAF PORTAL