Monday, December 9, 2013

Army-Navy

For generations, the Army-Navy football game occurred on the first weekend in December. This was a good time slot for the Brigade. It was normally a week after Thanksgiving break. Often the last week of school before finals. For this reason, emails, facebook and You Tube are populated with the latest spirit spots already.

Since the game is now held the second Saturday in December, today is the real start of Army-Navy Week. As it begins, please enjoy this section of The Recipient's Son that describes the meaning behind this game.
                                 



"Every Army-Navy game is momentous. Many suggest it remains the last remnant of purity in college football.  Perhaps it is the recognition that the players are only in it only for the game. Many used their skills on the gridiron as a vehicle to get into college, but it was with an ultimate goal of service, not scholarship. Such a choice is fully embraced by the two student bodies, and all alums. Thus, like no other athletic team, the mids and cadets truly represent their respective schools. Then, this extends even beyond the alums as any veteran can lay claim to the game as they see future leaders darting down the field with the ‘Screaming Eagle’ of the 101st Airborne or the ‘Jolly Roger’ of Fighter Squadron 84 sewn on their shoulder, a reminder that those on the field will soon rely on each other in battle.
            The sibling rivalry between young men in such circumstances is simply unequaled."

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Service Selection for USNA '14

There are many important days, key milestones at the U.S. Naval Academy. Induction Day, Herndon, Ring Dance, and Graduation all come to mind. There is another that is not as visible, not as iconic...yet, it may be the most important of all. It is Service Selection.

Today, I congratulate the Class of 2014. Whatever your selection, I know you will all do well in the fleet.

The process for Service Selection is different now than "back in the day." In the early 1990's the former system of selection by class rank was still in practice. The Recipient's Son opens with Chapter 1: Service Selection Night.


He tried to study, though there no longer seemed to be a point to it. The stereo blared, plus the commotion in the passageway distracted him. More importantly the young man knew most of his classmates were now out in town celebrating. He stared at a book on political philosophy, waiting for his number to be called.
            It was service selection night for the Class of 1992 at the United States Naval Academy. Midshipman Lieutenant Donald Durago would soon take a momentous walk from his room on the fourth floor of Bancroft Hall’s seventh wing down into Smoke Hall to select the ship he would serve aboard following graduation and commissioning.
            The public address system drowned out all other noise as it reverberated across the thirty-three acres comprising the eight wings of the world’s largest dormitory.
            “Brigade, attention to announcements. Midshipmen with class rank numbers seven hundred to seven seventy five report to four-one for service selection, I say again, midshipmen with class rank numbers seven hundred to seven seventy five report to four-one for service selection.”
            The mids jokingly referred the last hour of this auspicious evening as “Surface Selection” because the only assignments available were for surface ships or Marine Corps ground billets. The coveted aviation billets and nuclear power slots had all been selected by classmates with better academic and military standing hours ago. Durago imagined the top half of the class whooping it up at all the various watering holes in Annapolis, the submarine selectees buying drinks with their nuclear-power bonus money. He surmised the last remnants of those high enough in the class to select naval aviation were donning their newly-issued leather flight jackets before heading into town.
            There would be no money or leather for a mid of Durago’s standing. Still, there was something he hoped for, orders to a very specific ship - a destroyer still under construction in Pascagula, Mississippi. Unlike those who selected a ship already in the fleet, the mid who picked Durago’s ship would not even receive a ship’s ballcap.  
            Looking at the clock again, Durago reminded himself that its availability this late in the evening was a long shot.
             I’ll probably get a ‘food ship,’ he thought to himself.
            The Academy’s radio club disc jockey interrupted a tune by Def Leppard with some color commentary.
            “Hey there, Brigade, just got a call from Midshipman First Class Mark Moore. Marky can’t decide what to select so he wants us to have a call-in vote! That’s right call in your votes and we’ll all decide his destiny! Now for those of you left in the hall, realize Mark has but two choices left, Surface or Marine ground. Caller, state your name.”
            “Tony, from Third Company. Mark, go Marine. You’ll like the haircuts.”
            “Okay, one vote for Marine Corps. Keep’em coming, Brigade.”
            The public address bellowed again.
            “Brigade, attention to announcements. Midshipmen with class rank numbers seven seventy-five to eight fifty report to four-one for service selection. I say again, midshipmen with class rank numbers seven seventy-five to eight fifty to four-one for service selection.”
            Durago got up from his desk, retucked his dress shirt and donned his service dress blue jacket. He put on his cover, the hat worn by midshipmen that was similar to that of a naval officer. Then, by habit, he checked himself in the mirror.
            As he clicked open the heavy wood door to his room, Durago looked at the black nametags fixed at eye level.

D.R. DURAGO ’92
14th Company Commander

J. D. WARREN ’92
3rd Battalion Drill Officer

            He smiled to himself briefly.
            The passageways were charged with excitement. Talk of “who selected what” reverberated off the polished tile floors and the hospital-white walls. The Brigade realized that Service Selection Night was as important as graduation and commissioning. It marked what each midshipman would graduate to, what they would become.
            Three Plebes, freshman midshipmen, were affixing warfare devices next to the names of the first class midshipmen, the “Firsties,” or seniors in 14th Company who already selected. Thompson, Hall, and Ritter had the wings of a naval aviator next to their names. Potok had an atom symbol and a surface warfare pin for nuclear-surface. Mann had the “Budweiser” eagle, trident, and flintlock pistol designating him as a SEAL-select. Nguyen, Kohl, Lagasse, McClure, and Wilson, all future Marines, had the Marine Corps’ eagle, globe and anchor, or “EGA” next to their names. James “Slim” Warren, Durago’s roommate, had both wings of a naval aviator and the EGA designating him as a Marine Aviation selectee. Other companymates would have the devices denoting submarines, surface, supply, intelligence, and naval flight officer placed next to their names.
            As Durago strode down the passage several underclassmen gave words of encouragement.
            “Get some, Donny boy.”
            “West coast, man, think of Subic.”
            “Don’t take anything in Earle, New Jersey.”
            Captain Robert Oberly, United States Marine Corps, the 14th Company Officer, was standing outside his office in the main passageway on the top floor of seventh wing. The hallway was wide enough for the whole company – three platoons with three squads each, totaling approximately 110 midshipmen - to stand in formation.
            Durago noted as he made his way toward the captain that few of his classmates were left in company area. It was another reminder that chances of getting his ship were slim.
            Oberly was in his greens. Though he did not have any campaign ribbons above his left breast pocket, an anomoly of assignments and deployments on the west coast, all of the mids thought he was a great leader. 14th Company would have more than its fair share of Marine selectees because of Captain Oberly’s mentoring.
            “Don, would you give me one more chance to convince you to join the Corps?” Oberly called out as Durago approached.
            “Sir, you know I admire the Marine Corps, but I’ve realized it’s not for me.”
            “Well, that’s too bad. You’re the only one that got away then. Still, I bought EGA tie clips for all my charges who go Marine Corps. I bought an extra one with you in mind.”
            “I am flattered, sir.”
            “The decision is not made until you sign on the line.”
            “I’ll think on it all the way down to Smoke Hall, sir.”
            “You do that.”
            When he stepped onto the deck a floor below, the Mate of the Deck looked up from his post. He smiled and nodded at Durago. Sensing recognition, Durago nodded back. Then he strolled down the hallway, past another set of Plebes marking the warfare selection of the Firsties in 13th Company. Finally he stopped outside room 7312. He knew he could not pause too long, so he garnered one last look before continuing on.
            The service selection process actually began in the offices of the Commandant of Midshipmen on the first deck of the fourth wing of Bancroft Hall, commonly called “four-one.” Only the desks labeled “Surface” and “Marine Corps” still had officers sitting behind them. Durago signed the required forms at the “Surface” desk then walked toward Smoke Hall.
            On the way there, he stopped in the rotunda, a cathedral to naval service where Smoke Hall, Bancroft, and Memorial Hall all join. Durago emerged from 4-0 just as two classmates stepped through the leftmost of three bronze doors at the main entrance of Bancroft Hall. The largest, center pair were verboten. By tradition only Naval Academy alumni were authorized to use that portal. Though his two classmates had just selected their ships and were heading to the officer’s club to celebrate, they would never brazenly break tradition.
            Turning from the entrance to his left, Durago stopped a moment where the marble floor met a wide granite staircase rising to Memorial Hall set between its twins that descend to Smoke Hall below. Looking up toward Memorial Hall, Durago thought of all the names enshrined there, names belonging to young men who once lived in Bancroft, who were part of the Brigade. Memorial Hall was always a reminder, a symbol of why the Naval Academy was different from Harvard, or Stanford, or Duke.

            Some of you are going to die. Heroically, tragically, slowly, or quickly...Some of you are going to die in the service of your country.

            Down in Smoke Hall the line moved slowly toward a vast tote board covered with placards displaying the names of all the ships available for selection. Each mid approached the board in order and removed the name of the ship he or she wanted to serve aboard. Some chose based on ship type, some on geographic location, still others based on the date that they had to report aboard.
             From the end of the line, Durago could see most of the remaining ships were auxiliaries and amphibious ships. Midshipmen with a higher academic standing selected orders to most of the coveted Aegis cruisers and destroyers hours ago. The workhorse auxiliaries and the troop carrying amphibious ships were less glamorous, less desirable. Durago remained silent as the line moved. He strained to see if his ship was still there.


.

Monday, November 18, 2013

It's Monday morning....

...and someone is classing up. Someone has already finished their bay swim. Someone has already puked their guts out.

Someone is starting pool week.



Hooya, Divers!

(With thanks to Class 09-60-EOD)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Happy Veteran's Day - Medal of Honor SEALs - Norris and Thornton

On this Veteran's Day, I wish to thank all who have served our nation. "Hooya! Thank you!"

The Pritzker Military Library in Chicago is the source of many of my favorite podcasts. To celebrate Veteran's Day, I recommend you visit this link of an interview with two Medal of Honor (MOH) Recipient's - Thomas Norris and Michael Thornton. Both served as Navy SEALs in Vietnam. Norris action is chronicled in the movie "BAT-21." Thornton's action was rescuing Norris- the only case of one MOH Recipient being recognized for rescuing another MOH Recipient.


http://www.pritzkermilitarylibrary.org/Home/Medal-of-Honor-with-Ed-Tracy-4.aspx

Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday Film - The Fog of War

The Fog of War is an award-winning documentary film comprised mostly of an interview with former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.



Most Americans will recognize McNamara as the SECDEF under Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis and beginning of the Vietnam War, who continued to serve under President Johnson. Through the documentary much more of his life is revealed, followed by insight on leadership, warfare, and realpolitik.

For example, McNamara was a staff officer serving on the staff of General Curtis LeMay. A statistician, he participated in the decision-making process to firebomb Japan. McNamara relays that LeMay asserted if they lost the war, the staff would be tried as war criminals.

McNamara was known for his business mind and served as an executive at Ford Motor Company. He was a member of the team that instituted seat belts for enhanced safety. Later he became the first CEO that was not a member of the Ford family....for five weeks.

The bulk of the film delves into intimate details of decision making with respect to Cuba, Vietnam, Russia, China, and the whole of the Cold War. McNamara is brutally honest about his, and the failings of the administrations he served, and the failings of the communists, in understanding the nature of conflict. Through the film, eleven rules are presented with McNamara's examples to apply to each.

If you are in history, politics, conflict, conflict resolution, and leadership - watch this film.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

EOD Book Review - This is What Hell Looks Like by Stuart Steinberg


Specialist Stuart Steinberg and a fellow Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technician responded to a improvised explosive device of "IED" placed under the seat in a movie theater. They tied fifty feet of wire to the device, and from a position of cover, pulled,  remotely moving the bomb to ensure it did not incorporate a anti-handling device. The soldiers then carried it into the street to perform a render safe procedure. The bombmaker employed a U.S. grenade fuze with a sophisticated time delay feature embedded in C-4 plastic explosive. The EOD Techs successfully disarmed the device, and received a commendation letter for their action.



This story does not come from Iraq or Afghanistan, but from Vietnam. Steinberg relays this and many other EOD incidents in his war memoir,  This is What Hell Looks Like. Published in 2013 as an Amazon Kindle eBook, Steinberg makes it clear from the beginning that the work will be raw. He notes that writing about his service, especially in Vietnam,  is cathartic, and assists him in closing the door on post-traumatic stress and drug and alcohol use previously employed to manage PTSD.  Thus it is easy for any reader to become empathetic and subsequently enthralled with This is What Hell Looks Like. Those who enjoy military memoirs, especially EOD Techs will not be able to put the book down.
Steinberg joined the Army in 1966. He began his career assigned to Nike Hercules missile crew in the Everglades. He determined quickly that he wanted to transfer because he was surrounded by "ant-Semitic rednecks." To do so, he re-enlisted for four years and volunteered for EOD school. This includes a $1000.00 signing bonus and a promise of $55.00 a month in hazardous duty pay. Steingberg describes EOD school and then his first assignment at Dugway Proving Grounds. 
At Dugway, Steinberg disposed of chemical weapons. The job frustrated, even angered him, because of the way the Army handled an accident that killed local livestock. Wanting to leave Dugway, he volunteered for Vietnam.
The bulk of This is What Hell Looks Like is of Steinberg's service in Vietnam. Again, any fan of military history, especially of war memoirs will enjoy this part of the book. It is a must read for EOD Technicians or those who want to become EOD Techs.
Steinberg describes life in Vietnam, operating with a small team, usually responding to EOD calls with two men.  He and his fellow EOD Techs enjoyed freedom and priority access compared to others because of the nature and importance of their job. Steinberg goes into the jungle to aid a team of Special Forces and Montagnard tribesmen exfiltrate from a minefield. He renders safe dud ordnance that the Vietnamese lobbed or fired at his compatriots. Steinberg's team may be the only Army EOD Techs to ever respond to a limpet mine placed on a ship!(There was no Navy EOD available and the tide and loading made the limpet emerge above the water line.)
Perhaps the most interesting, and most common EOD responses that Steinberg describes are when he and his team respond to sapper attacks on ammunition depots. The Vietnamese realized that any ordnance destroyed in situ would not be used against them. Some of their attacks required EOD Techs from around Vietnam to respond - conducting cleanup for months.
Recognizing that he is relying on his own memory,  Steinberg connected with former teammates, asking them to relay or relive different missions/ responses. Additionally, he conducted archival research, drawing on logs, reports, and government memos. As a result, he uncovered records of incidents that he participated in for which he had no memory. The whole project is then supported by many of Steinberg's photos, including some of particular events. This thoroughness enhances the readers understanding and puts many of the events in context. Equally important is that author provides enough to be of real interest to EOD Technicians, without putting in so much detail as to boor those simply interested in historical accounts.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The First Frogman

John Spence, the first U.S. "Frogman" has passed. I was honored to hear him speak at a diver's conference at the U.S. Naval Academy. The audience was filled with salvage divers, saturation divers, SeaBee divers, deep submergence divers, SEALs, and EOD Techs. The same array of dolphins, crabs, flintlocks, tridents, and MK Vs could only be found in Panama City during a Master Diver Reunion. The crowd included giants in naval diving like Admiral Cathal "Irish" Flynn, and Astronaut/Aquanaut Scott Carpenter (He also passed just a month ago).

Spence told his story of using Dr. Lamberston's diving apparatus at a pool at the Washington Navy Yard, then a few days later making the first open water dive there at the U.S. Naval Academy in the Severn. He allowed that the biggest challenge was how to swim strait - to navigate.

When Spence finished his story - standing ovation.


He will be missed. Fair winds, following seas, frogman.

://www.latimes.com/obituaries/la-me-john-spence-20131104,0,5696985.story#axzz2jopqsL1h

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Waters Edge

The Waters Edge - This is an entertaining short video of the Naval Diving Salvage Training Center (NDSTC) in Panama City, Florida. Watch to see the wide variety of diving performed by the U.S. Navy to include scuba, surface supplied, and mixed-gas re-breathers. There are also depictions of physical training...and blowing sh!t up!

*** The WATERS EDGE (Short Film) *** - Mariano Lorde | 16x9Studios from 16x9 Studios on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Remembrance of 9/11




Re-posting "A Remembrance of 9/11" with thanks to Jim Prewitt for trusting me with his story. Start with this link on the Small Wars Journal. The whole story can be reached through the link embedded there.

I will never forget.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Boat School Sea Story - "Sir"


"Sir"

When Barker jumped to his feet and assumed a position of attention, so did I. There was no need to look behind me for the danger that had just entered his room on 4-0. To do so would have exhibited a lack of discipline, and a questioning of Barker’s judgment.

“Sir, Midshipman Fourth Class Phillips, nine two five seven eight seven, Twenty-Third Company, First Platoon, Third Squad, Beat Army, Sir!” I yelled in near unison with Barker’s own ‘sounding off.’

“Mr Barker, how are you?” I heard in a distinctive southern drawl. I knew from the voice that Marine Corps First Sergeant Halifax was in our midst. The first sergeant was our Battalion Senior Enlisted Advisor, and guided the entire Plebe Regiment through drill during Plebe Summer.

Now it was fall, we were approaching our first set of finals and Barker and I were already sinking. Halifax cared for not just all Plebes, but all midshipmen within the Brigade, but he especially looked out for prior enlisted Marines like Barker. My classmate spent a few years in fleet before coming to Annapolis, much of it as part of the Marine Corps detachment onboard the battleship USS New Jersey.


Prior enlisted mids definitely had a leg up on their peers, especially military-wise. I had made a plastic model of the New Jersey as a kid. Barker had served on the iconic ship. But now we were in the same boat academically. Somehow Halifax knew this...the way all senior enlisted know what is going on with their charges.

“Really? Everything is copacetic with you two?” he said now including me in the conversation.

We are both struggling with grades, First Sergeant,” Barker admitted. “We are trying to prep for finals and are both sweating it.”

“You are going to do fine. I know you are taking all the right steps to succeed, extra instruction and all that. Hell, you are here on a Saturday afternoon to put in the needed effort...you will make it.”

“I will, First Sergeant, but sometimes I think I will be ranked dead last,” Barker said dejectedly.

“That may be, Mr. Barker, but do you know what they call the last man to graduate in each Naval Academy class?”

No, First Sergeant.”

“They call him, ‘Sir.’”


Monday, August 5, 2013

Signed copies of 'The Recipient's Son' and 'Proximity.'

Fans of military fiction, especially those interested in stories about the U.S. Naval Academy and the Navy's Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) community often seek signed copies of The Recipient's Son and Proximity.


 
Signed copies of each can be obtained from Stephen Phillips through the online market - https://squareup.com/market/stephen-phillips

Put your specific inscription request in the 'note to seller' text box at checkout.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

4th Annual METAvivor Author's Luncheon

METAvivor supports those who are enduring metastatic breast cancer.  On September 7, 2013, 11:00am -2:30pm at the Doubletree Hilton in Annapolis, I will join authors Priscilla Cummings, Lisa Veronica Pires, Erika Roebuck, Jeanne Slawson, and Elissa Brent Weissman at the METAvivor 4th Annual Authors Luncheon. At this fundraising event author Tom Dowd will moderate a discussion about our books, we will sign copies, and everyone will enjoy a great lunch. Proceeds will benefit METAvivor. I hope you will join us for this fun and supportive event. Details on the attached flyer and at www.metavivor.org

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Recipients Son is 2013 MWSA Literary Fiction Award Nominee

I am honored to announce that The Recipient’s Son is a finalist for the 2013 Military Writer’s Society Literary Fiction Award. Other nominees include A Quest for Skye by J.L. Rothdiener, Buddy and Grace by John Ciarlo, and Flashes of War by Katy Schultz.

We are in good company with many other talented writers and their works. I’ll note that my Naval Academy classmate, Kristin Barnes is nominated for her children’s book, Haysoos the Honu.

Fellow Naval Institute Press author George Galdorisi is nominated for The Kissing Sailor: The Mystery Behind the Photo That Ended World War II.

Additional nominees can be found at: http://mwsadispatches.com/

Stephen Phillips on You Tube

I now have a You Tube channel, simply called "Stephen Phillips." Thus far, I added two playlists, one of recommended U.S. Navy EOD videos, one of bomb disposal in general. I hope that those interested in EOD, the Naval Academy, and my writing, will visit and provide me some feedback on what they think of this means to interact with my readers.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Independance Day Reading

Today is Independance Day. On this day, I recommend reading The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. This 1975 Pulitzer Prize winning novel covers the Battle of Gettysburg which occurred 150 years ago; July 1-3, 1863. Though it is about the Civil War not the Revolutionary War, Shaara reminds us through his characters, especially Colonel Joshua  Chamberlain, of why this nation and it's notions of independance are different.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013



I reviewed The Hunt for Hitler's Warship by Patrick Bishop for the Naval Historical Foundation (NHF).  I recommend reading the full review here - Turpitz.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Bill McDonald Review on Amazon.com



Bill McDonald is the founder of the Military Writers Society of America (MWSA). He wrote a review of The Recipient's Son on Amazon.com entitled "Feels Like an Insider View of Academy Life!" You can read more here.

I am honored to receive such high praise from Bill.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day 2013

This Memorial Day, remember to pray or recall those who gave their tomorrows for our todays.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Book Signing at The Mid Store

The Midshipman Store welcomed me on Monday of Commissioning Week. It was a real honor to meet midshipman and their families. Congratulations to the Class of 2016 for completing Herndon and to 2013 for their Graduation and Commissioning.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Signed copies of 'The Recipient's Son' by Stephen Phillips

Would you like a signed copy of The Recipient's Son? It can make a great gift for a prospective midshipman, a Naval Academy Alum, or any fan of military fiction. Steve is happy to write any personal message such as, 'Thank you for your service to our nation,' 'Fair Winds, Following Seas,' or 'Non sibi sed patriae.' To start the process, send an email to Steve at eodauthor@gmail.com. Cost will be $28.95 plus shipping and handling. Credit cards are processed through Square.

Stephen Phillips and 'The Recipient's Son" on WNAV and at the Mid Store

On Monday, 20 May 2013 at 09:30am, I will join Bill Lusby on WNAV - AM1430 to discuss The Recipient's Son. Afterward I will be at the Mid Store at 11:00am to sign copies. It will be a great way to start Commissioning Week at the U.S. Naval Academy. I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Best of MIDRATS







In 2010, I joined Navy bloggers CDR Salamander and EagleOne on their blogtalk radio program, MIDRATS, to discuss life as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technician. On the show I followed CDR Kirk Lippold who was the commanding officer of the USS Cole when she was attacked in Aden, Yemen in 2000.


This episode aired again on March 31, 2013 -Easter Sunday- as one of the "Best of MIDRATS." You can listen to it here: MIDRATS Episode 169

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Recipient's Son Q&A



I was honored to join a book club for brunch and discuss The Recipient’s Son. After, I began a correspondence with one of the club’s members, continuing our Q&A via email. Jim has agreed to allow me to share this discussion with others who are interested in the book and the writing process.



Jim:  I love chapter 8 (Running), and how the scenes went back and forth, it was like reading a screen play to a movie...brilliantly done!  In fact, your book should be made into a movie!  I love your writing style and your descriptive way of writing.  I remember you saying that you like the person reading your book to get a sense of what is happening in the scene.

Steve: Thanks for your kind words. You are not the first person who suggested that The Recipient’s Son should be a movie or that my writing style implies a screenplay. I like to start a chapter or a new scene with a rich physical description. In The Recipient's Son, I hoped to enable alumni and Annapolitans to reminisce while simultaneously putting those who have never been on the Severn's shores, Naval Academy candidates primarily, into this unique environment so that they enjoy recognition upon arrival. I think this creates that sense that you describe.

Jim: In your book on page 83, you mentioned “Goat Court?”  I have never seen this and/or know where this is? Is it tucked away from the public?  I love how his classmates came out to support Durago here.

Steve: Goat Court is a real place. There are in fact two of them and neither are visible to the public. If you look at a map of Bancroft Hall you will notice that 3rd and 4th wings are shaped like a square. The interior is a court, though it is not intended for normal traffic. There are no doors, only windows that face the court. In the 90's these rooms were normally occupied by plebes and youngsters since second and first class mids would covet rooms that looked outward. It was a common punishment for plebes that committed serious offenses to be sent by an upperclass to march around the court as Simpson did...with the intended response that is described in the book. This is important to note...this event actually happened on more than one occasion to include classmates joining in to draw fire in support their brethren.

Jim:  On page 93, I felt bad for Durago wetting himself but, I love the scene when Washington was twelve years old and thought the Marine was a state trooper. It was very touching, for I can see a young person saying this. Again, I can see this seen on the bus as a flash back in a movie.  When your book does become a movie, make sure you have full control over the screen play or write it and the scenes!

Steve: Jim, I am glad that you picked up on the perspective I sought to create. While there is only one main character- Donald Durago - and perhaps a lead supporting role in Jan…there are other characters in The Recipient’s Son in important roles. Clearly, this includes Master Chief Strong. Midshipmen Second Class Simpson and Washington are two others. To give them depth, I needed to make them a little sympathetic. To do so, I shared some details of their backgrounds. I even contrasted the two. Simpson comes from a military family...yet wants to break from his father's reputation and establish himself. Washington is the opposite...someone with no military background. So, I thought, “How would this guy become interested in the military?” From there I started to build the whole picture...a watershed moment on a bus, nurtured by great books written by former Marines. It actually is not an uncommon story and was fun for me to construct.