Officer Norway’s Corner – The story of Captain Robert M. Losey

By SRO Kjell Michelsen

I have always been interested in history, especially military history. Reading about various armies, conflicts and wars through the centuries gives one an insightful perspective not only on human nature but also on cultures and indeed politics, on a local, national and global scale. So I was a little surprised when I just a few years ago came over a little story I had not heard before, about a U.S. Army Air Corps captain, Robert M. Losey, who is considered to be the first U.S. military casualty of World War II.

Now, that in itself, as tragic as it was for him, his family and loved ones, was not really what caught my eye, but the fact that he was killed in Norway spurred my interest in his story. According to Wikipedia, Robert Losey was born in the small town of Andrew, Iowa, on May 27, 1908. He was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1925 and upon graduation was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the field artillery, but transferred later to the Army Air Corps, the forerunner to today’s Air Force. Losey became a pilot and earned two masters degrees from the California Institute of Technology while also working as a meteorologist.

Professors at the school described him as “perhaps the most brilliant student” whoever had attended the school. In February 1940 Losey was appointed as the air assistant to the military attaché with the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki, the capital of Finland. His primary assignment while there was to report on the war between Finland and Russia, and where the harsh winter weather also gave him a unique opportunity to observe and put into practice his knowledge about meteorology and aeronautics.

On April 9, 1940 Germany invaded Norway. The Norwegian Royal Family and most of the Norwegian Parlament were able to escape. Members of the American legation to Norway was also able to escape from Oslo and headed north. As a result, Captain Losey was ordered to Norway to help evacuate the Americans across the border into Sweden, which was a neutral country. The group of people got separated on their journey, Losey was in the first group that made it across and volunteered to go back in search of the second group.

On April 21, 1940, Captain Losey made it back across the border to Norway and ended up in the mountain town of Dombås just as aircraft from the German Luftwaffe started a bombing raid. Losey and several others took cover inside a tunnel, but a bomb fell near the entrance and Losey was hit with a fragment that killed him instantly. Several days later, the German Luftwaffe commander, Hermann Göring sent a letter to the U.S. Major General Henry Arnold with a message of regret regarding Losey’s death. At that time the U.S. was not yet in a war with Germany, and they wanted to keep it that way for a little longer.

A couple of great historical movies about the German invasion of Norway and the war between Finland and Russia is now available here in the U.S. The first one is the Norwegian movie, “The Kings Choice,” available on Netflix, and the second is the Finnish movie, “The Unknown Soldier,” which can be found on Amazon. I personally think the life and untimely death of Captain Losey also has the right ingredients to make a great historical movie about his life.

Until next time, be safe, be happy and be a student of history.

Adam’s Apple – You might be a gentleman … if

By James Mack Adams

I am often amazed at how an insignificant incident can trigger an idea for a column. Such an incident occurred one day during a visit to my local pharmacy.

As I approached the main entrance to the store, I noticed a young lady approaching behind me.  As I always do, if I have presence of mind, I opened the door and stepped aside for her to enter.  She seemed somewhat surprised by my move. Then she smiled and thanked me. 

I later began to ponder about the young lady’s initial reaction. Why was she surprised? Has our culture changed to the point where acts of common courtesy and gentlemanly gestures are becoming the exception rather than the rule? I know all about gender equality, and I am all for that. I know that some may feel that a few time-honored courtesies are now antiquated. Forgive me if I still believe ladies deserve certain courtesies from us men. Perhaps it is a generational thing.    

In an earlier column, I referenced one of my favorite stand-up comedians, Jeff Foxworthy. A favorite of his routines is, “You might be a redneck, if.” Again, with gratitude to Mr. Foxworthy, the following short discourse could be titled, “You might be a gentleman, if.”

If you open the door for a lady to enter or exit a building or room, you might be a gentleman. This courtesy originated during an era when ladies wore voluminous hooped dresses that reached the floor. It was very difficult for her to open a door while managing the dress and maintaining ladylike modesty. Heaven forbid she expose an ankle or calf. 

When walking on the street with a lady, if you walk on the side next to the traffic, you might be a gentleman. In earlier days, many city streets were unpaved. The gentleman escorting the lady shielded her from being splashed with water or mud by passing traffic. Even on paved streets, splashing can be a problem.

If you give your seat to a lady or elderly person, you might be a gentleman. Gentlemen should never occupy available seats while ladies or elders are standing.

If you remove your hat when dining in a restaurant and if you seat your lady before you seat yourself, you might be a gentleman. I don’t think this one needs further comment. It is such a basic example of good manners.

If you stand when a lady enters or leaves the room or dining table, you might be a gentleman. Here again, this is demonstrating common courtesy and respect.

If you call for your date at her front door and if you escort her to her door at the end of the date, you might be a gentleman. Many dates take place after dark. You are ensuring your lady is safe. 

If you hold the umbrella over a lady to keep her dry while walking together in the rain, you might be a gentleman. Many of us have heard the story of Sir Walter Raleigh laying his expensive cloak over a puddle so Queen Elizabeth would not get her feet wet. A noble gesture but said to be an untrue story.

If you help a lady with her coat or wrap, you might be a gentleman. In an earlier time, women wore boned corsets and other clothing that restricted their movements. It was only right that she be helped with her wrap.

Let us fast forward to today. If you leave your cell phone in your pocket while on a date, you might be a gentleman. Put the phone on silent mode and put it away. Don’t be constantly checking your email or Facebook. Focus all your attention on your lady. She will appreciate it.

Many of our present acts of courtesy date from Medieval knighthood and chivalry. Chivalry was a combination of qualities expected of a knight, especially courage, honor, courtesy, justice and help for the weak. The code of knighthood also included gallantry toward ladies.

Chivalry is not dead in today’s society; it just needs to be resuscitated.

Hood’s Winks – ‘Ah, distinctly I remember …”

Ralph Hood with an airplane in Alaska. (Contributed photo)

By Ralph Hood

The above title was stolen from Edgar Allen Poe’s famous poem, “The Raven.”

One of my favorite memories was the second trip wife Gail and I took to Alaska, where I made five speeches and one TV show appearance for several aviation groups. It was winter, it was cold and beautiful, and the local people were absolutely delightful. We traveled by car, private airplanes, and airline to Anchorage, Fairbanks, Homer, Kodiak, and Kenai (we did not travel by dog sled, but we did so in Montana on another trip).

In Alaska, I flew across the Cook Inlet—en route to Kenai—with legendary Alaskan pilot Tom Wardleigh in Tom’s single-engine airplane. I looked down at ice chunks floating below us, looked back at how far over the water we had come, then forward to see how far we had to go before being overland again.

“What,” I asked Tom, “will we do if the engine quits?” He smiled, waved his hand across the vista and said, “Ah, isn’t the scenery lovely?”

He was right—it was lovely.

I learned from Tom that all airplanes in Alaska must have a survival kit that includes a gun—with ammunition—that could kill a bear!

On Kodiak Island Tom Merriman took me for a ride in his Piper Super Cub (see picture). I sometimes flew power line patrol in a Super Cub in Alabama, filling in for friend Ed Long, who flew more hours than anybody else during his lifetime—for all I know his record still stands. But a Super Cub in Alaska is a far more awesome flight. We touched down on a black sand beach at one point and I felt like a real Alaskan bush pilot.

One night we stayed at a hotel in Anchorage near Lake Hood—not named after me, of course, but after some British admiral of long ago—which was the busiest float-plane/ski-plane base in the world. The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race was in full swing; and some of the sled dogs, tied up in the snow-filled yard of the hotel, barked madly while waiting for transport. Where else but Alaska?

Friend Mike O’Neill flew us in his airplane to Homer, where we saw more bald eagles than we knew existed in the entire world. They were everywhere—up close and personal! Unbelievable!

What a trip. Of all the places Gail and I have been, we agree that if we could revisit one of them, it would be Alaska.

ralph@ralphhood.com

Officer Norway’s Corner – A civil war in the heart of Europe

By SRO Kjell Michelsen

“When the dog bites”… are you hearing the song “My Favorite Things”? The idea from the Rodgers and Hammerstein song of “The Sound of Music” fame seems to be that when something negative happens – dog bite, bee sting, feeling sad – remembering “favorite things” helps you not “feel so bad.”

That’s a really good outlook. But I remember all too well stings (I loved to go barefoot) that made it really hard to think positively for days! There’s a lot to be said for prevention.

As for dog bites, prevention is definitely the best policy. I was luckier than some. I was not seriously injured. A child bitten the same day was. Still, there was concern over the dog’s shot status, my visit to the doctor, the tetanus shot. … It was a year ago. I remember it vividly.

I like to walk. Erwin is a great place for walking. Erwin Linear Trail is a natural. Residential areas with parkways and trees offer their own beauty. I was on a sidewalk not so far from home. It is not unusual to see dogs. Some of them seem to want to get across the message that they would like to kill something, others want to be sure their barks are heard. Then there are those whose behavior makes you think they just want to get through the day.  (Recognize human traits?)

This particular day I heard barking. Then – it happened so fast – there was a dog hanging on my ankle. It hurt, but not terribly – there was the sock and all. I remembered to stay calm and kept walking. I stopped at Dorothy Fortune’s and she wisely insisted I clean and bandage the bite area.

Since I did not know who lived in the house the dog ran back toward and was not about to go up to it to ask about rabies shots, I called people I knew who lived nearby. They knew of the dog but not how to contact the person. That’s when I called Gary.    

Gary Hatcher was Erwin’s animal control officer. You may know him as the man who does school programs and has enough certifications to decorate an office. Those who know Gary will not be surprised that he responded promptly, learned about the dog’s shots, made the contact with the Police Department for filing the required report, got back to me with information I needed. (He stressed the importance of medical attention to prevent rabies and/or infection.) Both he and Officer Wayne Edwards were compassionate and professional. That means a lot when you are on the needy end of public service. 

It is important to say here that the caregiver for the dog that bit me responded in a responsible way.  My point in telling the personal experience is simply that I learned up close the common sense reasoning behind sections of Erwin’s ordinance regarding dogs: “Running at large prohibited.” and “Vicious dogs to be securely restrained.” 

Through the actions of their elected officials, Unicoi County and the Town of Unicoi joined the Town of Erwin in committing to animal control services. A board including representatives of all three local governments and the Humane Society was established to operate an animal shelter. Citizens have the right to expect life will be better for humans and animals as a result.

Companionship of animals should fall into the “favorite things” category, should mean pleasure for the animals and the humans who choose to be with them, a decision not to be taken lightly. We should not expect pleasure without responsibility. Public policy, a physical structure that makes law enforcement more convenient, animal welfare awareness can be positive factors. Neither takes the place of personal commitment. Gary Hatcher can tell stories of suffering (human and animal) resulting from its absence.

A Denney for Your Thoughts – A tune worth singing

Editor’s note: This column was first published on Feb. 5, 2008. A reminder of the importance of personal responsibility for caring for pets is still in order.

By Connie Denney

“When the dog bites”… are you hearing the song “My Favorite Things”? The idea from the Rodgers and Hammerstein song of “The Sound of Music” fame seems to be that when something negative happens – dog bite, bee sting, feeling sad – remembering “favorite things” helps you not “feel so bad.”

That’s a really good outlook. But I remember all too well stings (I loved to go barefoot) that made it really hard to think positively for days! There’s a lot to be said for prevention.

As for dog bites, prevention is definitely the best policy. I was luckier than some. I was not seriously injured. A child bitten the same day was. Still, there was concern over the dog’s shot status, my visit to the doctor, the tetanus shot. … It was a year ago. I remember it vividly.

I like to walk. Erwin is a great place for walking. Erwin Linear Trail is a natural. Residential areas with parkways and trees offer their own beauty. I was on a sidewalk not so far from home. It is not unusual to see dogs. Some of them seem to want to get across the message that they would like to kill something, others want to be sure their barks are heard. Then there are those whose behavior makes you think they just want to get through the day.  (Recognize human traits?)

This particular day I heard barking. Then – it happened so fast – there was a dog hanging on my ankle. It hurt, but not terribly – there was the sock and all. I remembered to stay calm and kept walking. I stopped at Dorothy Fortune’s and she wisely insisted I clean and bandage the bite area.

Since I did not know who lived in the house the dog ran back toward and was not about to go up to it to ask about rabies shots, I called people I knew who lived nearby. They knew of the dog but not how to contact the person. That’s when I called Gary.    

Gary Hatcher was Erwin’s animal control officer. You may know him as the man who does school programs and has enough certifications to decorate an office. Those who know Gary will not be surprised that he responded promptly, learned about the dog’s shots, made the contact with the Police Department for filing the required report, got back to me with information I needed. (He stressed the importance of medical attention to prevent rabies and/or infection.) Both he and Officer Wayne Edwards were compassionate and professional. That means a lot when you are on the needy end of public service. 

It is important to say here that the caregiver for the dog that bit me responded in a responsible way.  My point in telling the personal experience is simply that I learned up close the common sense reasoning behind sections of Erwin’s ordinance regarding dogs: “Running at large prohibited.” and “Vicious dogs to be securely restrained.” 

Through the actions of their elected officials, Unicoi County and the Town of Unicoi joined the Town of Erwin in committing to animal control services. A board including representatives of all three local governments and the Humane Society was established to operate an animal shelter. Citizens have the right to expect life will be better for humans and animals as a result.

Companionship of animals should fall into the “favorite things” category, should mean pleasure for the animals and the humans who choose to be with them, a decision not to be taken lightly. We should not expect pleasure without responsibility. Public policy, a physical structure that makes law enforcement more convenient, animal welfare awareness can be positive factors. Neither takes the place of personal commitment. Gary Hatcher can tell stories of suffering (human and animal) resulting from its absence.

A Refreshing Knapp – Fund will run out of money

By Ray Knapp

You may recall I had been for my yearly check-up at the VA and the doctor suggested a lung scan due to a past history of smoking and cancer in other parts of my body. I notified my civilian Primary Care Doctor who put in a request for the scan. It came back from Medicare as disapproved. The reason being, my age was past 77 and starting the first day of 2019, this procedure would not be approved for persons past that age.

People past that age still vote, so I wrote Phil Roe, Lamar Alexander and Marsha Blackburn a letter voicing my disapproval and did get some response. Phil Roe’s caseworker sent me some forms to fill our detailing the circumstances, and I also received a personal letter via Email from Senator Lamar Alexander dated March 13, 2019. I’m not endorsing anyone in this column, but thought sharing Alexander’s letter might shed some light on the plight of Medicare as it now stands. The following is his letter in its entirety:

“Thank you for getting in touch with me and letting me know what’s on your mind regarding the age requirements for Medicare. I appreciate you sharing your personal story and your suggestions on ways to address this problem.

I am concerned about the long term structural problems facing the Medicare program. According to the Social Security and Medicare Board Trustees 2018 annual report, the Hospital Insurance Fund will run out of money in 2026. Also, according to the Congressional Budget Office, a beneficiary born in the 1950s will have paid $60,000 into Medicare but will receive $205,000 in benefits. Obamacare has made the problem worse by taking billions of dollars out of Medicare, creating more uncertainly for the future of the program.

The first victims of this Medicare fiscal cliff will be older Americans, millions of whom have no other way to pay their medical bills. The second victims will be younger Americans who expect us to solve our fiscal issues so they aren’t saddled with dealing with our national debt. In order to save the program, structural changes must be made. It is time for President Trump and Congress to start seriously looking at how to reform entitlement programs so that current beneficiaries are protected and the programs will still be here for younger Americans.

On April 14, 2015, I voted for the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, which was signed into law on April 16. This legislation permanently puts an end to the formula, passed by Congress in 1997, that capped Medicare payments to physicians and has been temporarily overridden by Congress 17 times. This bill also includes 10 years of funding for Tennessee’s Disproportionate Share Hospitals (DSH) program, which helps Tennessee hospitals cover the costs of caring for low-income patients. These hospitals provided more than $2.4 billion in unreimbursed services to Tennesseans last year alone. I was glad to support this legislation, and I look forward to continuing to work with members of the Tennessee delegation to support Tennessee hospitals that provide care for those who need help the most.

I appreciate you letting me know where you stand on the issue of Medicare reform.  I will be sure to keep your comments in mind as this important issue is discussed and debated here in Washington and in Tennessee. Sincerely, Lamar”

Well, I don’t know if my question as to why I was turned down for a lung scan because my age was past 77, or not. But from the tone of his letter, it is plain to see that Medicare is in one “mell of a hess,” as my dad would put it, and running out of money. The year 2026 is only 7 years away and I may live to see it. I hope Congress can get away from attacking individuals or opposing parties and come together for the good of the people … regardless of their age.

Adam’s Apples – Happy Birthday, West Point

By James Mack Adams

This month, the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York is celebrating the 217th year of its founding.  Founded in March 1802, it is the oldest of America’s service academies. It is credited as being the oldest continuously-occupied military post in America.

Also, this year, the academy’s Association of Graduates (AOG) is observing its 150th anniversary. Both events are important to me in that I am a designated Friend of West Point and as such I am listed on the AOG rolls. 

When I was a youngster, I invested quite a bit of my very vivid imagination time thinking about what I wanted to be when I grew up. My earliest career choices were cowboy, private eye, or secret agent. I went to a lot of movies in those days. 

In my teen years, my interest turned to the military. I thought it would be very cool to attend a military school for my high school education. I requested catalogs from schools and devoured them. I knew very well, though, that my parents could not afford the tuition. But it didn’t cost anything to look and to daydream.

Though I have always had respect and admiration for West Point and the outstanding military leaders it has produced, I didn’t pursue an appointment. I take pride in the fact I received my U.S. Army commission through the excellent ROTC program at ETSU and served my active duty and reserve time as a field artillery officer. 

My personal association with West Point came much later in my life. 

It was a day in the year 2000 that the phone in my home office in Georgia rang. The caller identified himself as Col. (Ret.) Fletcher Ware, president of the West Point Society of Savannah.  He said he enjoyed reading my weekly local history column in the Savannah Morning News and wanted to see if I was open to a proposition.

Col. Ware, whom I had never met, told me that West Point’s bicentennial celebration was scheduled for March 2002. He asked if I would be interested in researching and writing a book about the impact of West Point and its graduates on the Georgia coast over the academy’s first 200 years. The book was to be published by the Savannah society and serve as the centerpiece for the society’s observation of the bicentennial. I accepted Ware’s invitation to meet with the association’s board of directors to discuss the project.

Two years later, “Entwined Destinies…West Point and the Coastal Empire 1802-2002” came off the presses. It was a limited-edition hardback book and is no longer in print. I have seen where new and used copies are available through Amazon.com. 

Two former West Point superintendents and other Academy senior staff members have autographed copies. At a past Founders Day Dinner, I autographed and presented a copy to Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Barry McCaffrey (USMA 1964). Gen. McCaffrey commanded the 24th Infantry Division in Operation Desert Storm. He is presently a paid military analyst for NBC and MSNBC.   

Publication of the book opened doors I had no idea I would ever be allowed to enter. I was made an associate member of the West Point Society of Savannah. In January 2003, I was surprised and honored by being designated a Friend of West Point by the academy’s Association of Graduates. This made me an honorary member of “The Long Gray Line,” and gave to me some perks available to graduates.

In May 2003, my good friends, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Roger Waddell and his wife, Laurelei, invited me to accompany them on a visit to West Point. It was an experience I will never forget. During the visit, I got to sit in on a class, lecture to a group of cadets in Eisenhower Hall, eat in the cadet dining hall, and watch a Saturday morning dress review.

On March 3, Jo and I attended the 2019 Founders Day Dinner in Savannah. It was good to see old friends. The guest speaker was Brig. Gen. Steven W. Gillian, the current West Point Commandant of Cadets. Gen. Gillian now has an autographed copy of “Entwined Destinies.”

Hood’s Winks – Wild dreams

By Ralph Hood

I do not understand my dreams.

When I was about 12, I woke up one night in a graveyard, about a half mile from our house. If you don’t think that will scare the bejeebers out of a 12-year old, you should rethink. I ran like a terrified banshee all the way home.

Even now I have dreams in which people are out to kill me. This is a big issue in our family, since I get to fighting, kicking, and hollering. Wife Gail has to wake me up, lest I flail out at her.

Some of my dreams are wonderful. Just last week I dreamed that I won a Piper Super Cub airplane in a drawing. I love a Super Cub so that was a great dream. I flew all over the place in that dream, and hated to awaken to the reality that it wasn’t true. (Actually, I do understand that dream. The Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association had a drawing for a Super Cub recently, but I didn’t win it.)

The thing I don’t understand is why I dream so much about problems that I never had in real life. I dream that I’m in a meeting and begin to realize that I am dressed only in my underwear! Now where does that come from?

These dreams run in my family. My Uncle Cy crawled out of his bedroom window onto the roof of the porch. He fell off, then calmly walked back into the house and returned to bed.

I still remember the night that several of us young boys camped out in Lee King’s back yard. I woke up the next morning in my own bed, having dream walked home in my sleep. Boy was I mad. The other kids ribbed me unmercifully about that dream.

I have dreams about owning beautiful cars and airplanes. But in those dreams my new red Corvette turns slowly into a rattle-trap riding lawn mower. The gorgeous new airplane falls apart.

I graduated from college more than a half-century ago. I still have dreams in which I am going to take the final exam, but can’t find the test room, can’t remember the course, and haven’t studied a lick. That never happened, but I still have the nightmares.

Recently—and this is absolutely true—I had a dream in which I drove a Bugatti, then got lost in the woods with several kids, one dog, and—so help me—a real live elephant!

I’m almost scared to go to sleep!

Officer Norway’s Corner – My second deployment to Lebanon

By SRO Kjell Michelsen

My second and last deployment to South Lebanon as part of the UN forces stationed there was in the spring of 1988. The previous year the UN had established a quick reaction force in South Lebanon, called Force Mobile Reserve or FMR for short. This force was created in the aftermath of a bloody clash between French UN soldiers and soldiers from the Shiite Amal movement. After this incident, it became clear that the UN forces in the area needed a mobile, heavily armed quick reaction force that could assist other UN forces should it be necessary. FMR was via the UNIFIL (United Interim Force in Lebanon) Force Commander placed under direct orders from the UN Secretary-General which at that time was Pérez de Cuéllar.

We moved into a brand new camp near the Lebanese town of Qana. Qana, by the way, is best known as the place where Jesus performed his first public miracle – the turning of a large quantity of water into wine at a wedding feast (John 2:1–11).

There was us in the Norwegian platoon, which was set up with two armored personnel carriers and two infantry squads with eight men in each. The FMR camp was indeed a multi-ethnicity camp. We had soldiers from, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Ghana, Fiji, and Nepal. We each had our own corner of the camp, but we shared the same mess hall and training facilities. Our FMR commander was Irish, so we followed pretty much an Irish military structure, with commands, morning muster and more. It took a bit to get used to their way of doing things, but we got used to it pretty quickly.

Although much of Lebanon at that time was showing evidence of a civil war, still parts of the country were beautiful, with plenty of vast fields of olive and citrus trees, rolling hills and valleys, small villages and bigger towns, and Mount Hermon, where it would snow every winter. As a Quick Reaction Force, we would sometimes be on mobile patrols for several days in a row, often spending the nights out in the fields or on one of the many UN outposts. Sometimes we would drive out to the coastal city of Tyre, where we would tour the ancient Roman ruins there and have dinner at one of the many local restaurants – a nice break from the field rations.

Often in our off time, we would sign up for one of the many biblical tours that the chaplain we had would arrange. We would travel to Israel and visit Jerusalem and trace in the footsteps of Jesus and his disciples. We would visit Masada, Bethlehem, and the Dead Sea, where we, of course, had pictures taken while floating, reading a newspaper. We would tour one of the old markets, where all the salesmen had a special price just for you, and sample the local food, that often was a mixture of Arab, Jewish, and French cooking.

I ended up spending two years in Lebanon on two different deployments. One day I would love to go back and visit.

Until next time, be safe, be happy and when you have a chance, see the world.

A Denney for Your Thoughts – Ursula served, is thankful

By Connie Denney

Times were different then—different on a personal and on a global scale. Ursula Behling lived on the West side of the wall dividing Germany. When she visited family in East Germany, it was so very sad to see how controlled lives were, how limited the supply of food.

At that time she was married with kids. But years later when her personal responsibilities were different, she sought out the way to put legs on her understanding of human suffering and desire to do something about it. The path led to the Peace Corps.

Life has carried Ursula from East Prussia, where she was born, to Germany at the age of one year, then to a number of states in this country. There are many stories worth the telling along the way. Being near her daughter had much to do with Ursula’s making her home in Erwin, where we sat a spell and I saw the scrapbook of pictures and mementos from her service in the Peace Corps, which began in 1997.

“My dream was always to go to a third world country and help, and see for myself what it is like.” She was thinking Africa—but the Peace Corps assignment took her to Ukraine after the breakup of the Soviet Union.  She remembers arriving there in January, when the river was frozen. Availability of heat was controlled, turned on in December and off on April 21. By May it was a bit warmer, but she still needed a coat. Among the many things not to be taken for granted were hot water showers and toilet paper.

Work assignments resulted from matching needs to skill sets. Her 30 years of experience in business management led to work in the resource center for NGOs (non-governmental organizations) in Kiev, the capital city. Her duties varied but included teaching general office skills, pubic relations, fundraising.

Her two-year stint was cut short, when her own health problems resulted in her return to this country after eight months.  It was long enough, though, for her to absorb an appreciation for the challenge of learning to navigate a large foreign city in a country in transition, and for the graciousness of a struggling people.  She values the cultural exchange, feels she learned more than she taught.

As for the Peace Corps, Ursula points out that getting in is not a given. She traveled to Washington, D.C., to pursue her interest. Health screenings and extensive training including learning the language of the country one will serve are among requirements. 

Would she recommend it to others?  “If you are a person afraid of your own shadow, or can’t follow directions, don’t go” she cautions.  On the other hand, “I always would say if you can learn something, go do it. “You learn to be independent, be responsible and feel good for what you did.” She noted that there were students, who could get college credit for their service, in her group, along with other ages ranging into the 70s. Housing was furnished, along with a small amount to live on and a bit of money in the bank back home.

Being thankful is high on Ursula’s list, as she reflects on her own experience, noting what a wonderful country in which we live. She came here by choice in 1965, went through the Ellis Island experience as an immigrant and committed herself to the serious business of naturalization to become a citizen of the United States. 

She knows whereof she speaks.

A Refreshing Knapp – What caused this condition?

By Ray Knapp

The check-in receptionist at Mountain Empire Surgical Center was asking the routine questions filled out at any doctor’s office or hospital you check into. When she came to that question of what caused my condition I didn’t have a ready answer. There had been no falls, I hadn’t lifted anything heavy of strained my back in any way. What I had was a Synovial cyst that causes pain and kind of a painful shooting or tingling sensation down your hip and back of your leg and bottom of your foot. The only thing I knew was: they generally happened more to senior citizens. So I answered: Age for one thing.

These cysts develop as a result of degenerative changes that occur with aging. They are most common in patients older than 65 years and can be found throughout the spine, but are most common in the lower back. Synovial fluid, contained in a membrane called the synovial sac, lubricates the facet joints and helps them move smoothly. In response to degeneration, the body may produce more synovial fluid in an attempt to keep the joints moving smoothly. It is thought that synovial cysts form when this extra fluid builds up inside one section of the synovial sac.

The normal procedure is to drain this extra fluid from the sac and then give you an epidural – which is a cortisone cocktail of sorts that travels down your leg and in 3 or 4 days the pain should be gone. In my case, the extra fluid had jelled. The doctor said if the pain persisted they would have to operate and remove that sac; just my luck.

I had an appointment with Appalachian Orthopedics who gives me a yearly “Rooster Shot” to keep my knee operating right – the shots are synthetic now, but used to be made primarily from rooster combs. My wife used to joke that she expected to be woken by me perched on the head of the bed, crowing.

Anyway, they sent me to our new little hospital with its new equipment for a CT scan to see what was going on when I told them of my other complaints. I was personally impressed with it; the clean spaces, friendly and knowledgeable staff and up-to-date equipment. Even though Erwin’s Ballad Hospital only has 10 beds, to me, it is far more than an emergency clinic. The scan revealed the cyst in between joints 4 and 5 – the lower part of the back.

I was a little surprised that Medicare even approved this procedure as I had been for my yearly check-up at the VA and the doctor suggested a lung scan due to a past history of smoking and cancer in other parts of my body. I notified my civilian Primary Care Doctor who put in a request for the scan. It came back from Medicare as disapproved. The reason being, my age was past 77 and starting the first day of 2019, this procedure would not be approved for persons past that age. People past that age still vote, so I wrote Phil Roe, Lamar Alexander and Marsha Blackburn a letter voicing my disapproval and haven’t heard from any of them. ‘Too busy fighting democrats over a border wall I suppose.

The procedure was done by Doctor Knox, a knowledgeable man with 32 years’ experience in this field, so I felt in capable hands. You’re awake during the procedure and though it’s not extremely painful, you could say it’s highly uncomfortable.

For all the age-related problems that occur during the Golden Years, I’ve never met a more supportive or positive people in any age group. I think part of this is while having more physical problems, have – and take the time to check on friends and neighbors. They go to church more, which has a positive effect, and most of them have children and grandchildren to check on and help them.

But watch out for Medicare, they think we’re a bunch of doddering old folks whose memory is shot, and don’t vote. We know how to complain; we’ve heard it all our life.

Officer Norway’s Corner – The greenhorn and the sea

By SRO Kjell Michelsen

In my last column, I mentioned that in my teens I wanted to be a sailor. I have an older brother who was a merchant mariner growing up, and every time he came home he had a suitcase filled with pictures and souvenirs, plus stories to tell from far away places.

So right out of school, I applied and was accepted into one of the three merchant marine academies that were in Norway at that time. Back then these academies lasted for three months and were tailored like a boot camp. We got up at five every morning, and after breakfast, we had to clean our rooms before inspection.

The academy had their own training vessel, a retired 70-foot cargo ship, where we learned navigation, basic engine maintenance, handling ropes, and pulleys and all that one would need to know to work on a boat.

After graduation, I applied to several shipping companies, but this was 1982, and almost overnight the once proud Norwegian shipping industry started to flag out under other nations flags. This was to save taxes and they began to hire cheaper employees from countries like the Philipines and Taiwan, with the result that a lot of jobs in that industry was all of a sudden hard to get. So my plans to go out and see the world on a ship came to a screeching halt. I was not too worried though, because I had a plan B, which was my hope to be called into the navy, but the Norwegian military had other plans for me.

After my year in the army and my first tour to South Lebanon where I stayed for a year, I came back to Norway and civilian life. My older brother at that time was also back in Norway and worked as a deckhand on an Arctic fishing trawler in the Barents Sea and the North Atlantic. Through him, I was offered a job as a greenhorn on the trawler. The trawler was 154 feet long and had a crew of 15. My initial happiness was short lived. We had barely reached the open seas before I was up on deck throwing up. For the next three days, I worked, slept and puked, not necessarily in that order.

As a greenhorn, I was the lowest on the totem pole, and as a result, when the fish had been gutted and rinsed, it was sent down in the cargo room. The cargo room was about 60 feet long and 20 feet wide. On each side, plastic boxes were stacked, and the space in between was filled with ice. It was a narrow passage on top of the ice where one had to belly crawl to get back to a small space where an aluminum table was placed, then a conveyor belt was pushed in behind you.

So my greenhorn job was to stand directly under the conveyor belt as slimy fish fell down, slapping me upside the head, one after another while I, as fast as I could, throw the fish into the boxes and shoveling ice on top. I lasted five trips, and I was on the phone with the Army soon after that. My career as a “sailor” was over.

Until next time, be safe, be happy and eat your fish.

Adam’s Apples – Pets are funny people

By James Mack Adams

Question: Where does an 800-pound female gorilla sleep?

Answer: Anywhere she wants.

Question: Where does a 13-pound female cat sleep?

Answer: Same answer.

When it is nap time for our two cats, Abby and Charley, seating in our small living room is at a premium. Luckily, our female dog, Lucy, still prefers to take her frequent siestas on a rug or floor pillow. Otherwise, Jo and I would have to move to another room. Either that or flip a coin to see which one of us gets the only available seat.

Pets are funny people with unique personalities. At times, dogs will listen to your wishes and obey because they want to please you. At other times … well, they don’t. Cats, on the other hand, can be stubborn and difficult creatures with which to negotiate. If you have a cat, don’t automatically assume the house and furnishings are yours. The cat will challenge that assumption. Cats allow you to live in the home as long as you pay the mortgage, feed them, and don’t disturb their sleep. History tells us cats were once worshipped as deities in ancient Egypt. They have never forgotten that.

It is difficult to imagine Marilyn (aka Jo) without a cat. She has had a cat, dog, or both most of her life. I had never had a pet until a few years ago. It was then I adopted Lucy from the vet. It was also then I began to realize a new pet will quickly become a member of the family. I also soon came to realize the responsibilities that come with pet ownership. No matter how sleepy or lousy you may feel at 5:30 a.m., the cats are demanding to be fed and the dog has to be taken out to do her business. If it is a dark, cold, rainy, icy, snowy morning, deal with it.

We don’t know much about Lucy’s life before she came to us. She is a sweet animal, but she does have some anti-social issues. When I take her to the vet or groomer, they remark to me how gentle and cooperative she is. “Just come to our house sometime,” I tell them. “She will bark, and growl and not let you in the door.” It seems she thinks everyone who comes to our house is there to do us harm. “She’s just doing her job,” people say. I have been told it is a characteristic of the breed. Lucy is a terrier mix.

Charley cat is a white American longhair. She is also uncomfortable with strangers in the house. If you come to visit us, chances are good you will never see Charley, unless you look in the closet or under the bed. Curiosity might prompt her to come out of hiding if the visitor stays long enough. 

Abby cat is the only pet of ours that can be described as a rescue. She just showed up in our yard one day.

On a morning a little over two years ago, I proceeded on my morning chore of filling the bird feeders in the side yard. A black and white tuxedo cat was lying under one of the feeders. I assumed she was waiting to catch a bird and tried to chase her off. I soon realized she was injured and could not stand. 

Jo brought out a saucer of Charley’s cat food and a dish of water. The poor little cat devoured both and meowed for more. We gave her all she wanted because we had no idea how long she had gone without both food and water.

We wrapped the cat in a towel and took her to our vet. She was starved, underweight, dehydrated, and had a fractured pelvis. After the vet gave her a thorough checkup, Jo and I had a decision to make. Do we give her up to the vet or a shelter, or do we keep her? We were told that, in her poor condition, she would probably be put down. We could not let that happen. So, we brought her home and named her Abby. It did not take long for Lucy and Charley to accept the new cat in the house. Abby became attached to Jo and me and loved to lie in our laps when we were sitting. She too became family.

I normally work a couple or three months ahead on writing my columns. When I wrote this column, I had planned to end it with the previous paragraph. That changed the day we lost Abby. Professional care, TLC, and medications kept her with us a little over two years, but kidney failure had the final say. Abby fought the good fight, as did Jo and I, but to no avail.  Rest in peace, little girl. You are missed.

From the Publisher’s Desk – Saying goodbye to a coworker

By Lisa Whaley

This past week, we said goodbye to longtime advertising director and jane-of-all-trades

Damaris Higgins – not for good, because she plans on continuing her relationship with us in one form or another for a while longer – but as a daily presence in the office and our lives.

Fortunately for all, she has agreed to work with us here at The Erwin Record during her transition, even as she begins her new adventure.

This new adventure seems a bit ordained. A few months ago, when Damaris stopped by Governor’s Bend Assisted Living Facility to get approval on an upcoming ad, she found director Johnnie Lyons busy with another matter. Johnnie asked Damaris to wait outside just a moment and she would be with her.

“You can play the piano,” she said jokingly, not realizing at the time that Damaris loved nothing better than to “play the piano.”

Soon residents had gathered around to enjoy Damaris’ music, singing along and generally basking in the impromptu performance. They urged Damaris to come back, and this ad-director-turned-pianist graciously agreed to spend some of her Sundays volunteering at the center.

I remember talking to Damaris after that first visit, her eyes shining and the joy of having done His work clear on her face.

When Damaris handed me her resignation letter a little more than two weeks ago, explaining that after much prayer she had decided to accept the position of activities director at Governor’s Bend, my first surprising reaction was simply joy at her happiness. We try to trust God for the future, but too often miss signs of him so clearly opening a door. It was reassuring to know it still happens.

As I told my boss later, while I might have been tempted to grab onto Damaris’ ankles and beg her not to leave, I didn’t think it was wise to challenge God’s plan.

Today, as we face our first week without Damaris in the office, I am reminded of everything she has done for The Erwin Record – and for me – throughout the years.

Like most of us in the weekly newspaper industry, the staff here at The Erwin Record are familiar with doing more with and for less. Our driving force is often a love for this community, as well as a sincere belief in the importance small town newspapers can play.

For Damaris, it has clearly been both and she has proven it. Whenever there was a need, she would always try to meet it. Whether it was a customer with a missed newspaper, a business hoping for a photo of an event or a customer looking for a more detailed design of an ad, she was often first in the car, with the camera or at the computer trying to make her clients’ dreams a reality.

When I came on board a year and a half ago – more than a little scared, I must admit – Damaris was one of the ones to offer her support. I never heard the words “That’s not my job,” ever come out of her mouth, and I am convinced that had she stayed another 10 years, that would not have changed.

For the past seven years, Damaris has put The Erwin Record first in so many things and has worn so many hats – from selling and designing ads to fixing wayward computers and copiers to stepping in to deliver the newspaper whenever we were short a dedicated delivery person. We are feeling a little lost without her.

But I am still so excited for her, even though I feel her absence greatly. I know she won’t be far away and that she and her dog, Cracker Jack, will soon be popping through the door to continue to help us out.

I also know that there is a group of men and women at the other end of town who are beginning to realize they have just received a precious gift – a hard working woman who gives her all and loves not just in words but in actions.

And this time, she gets to do it all to music.

Hood’s Winks – New airplane flights

By Ralph Hood

Last year’s Lion Airline’s crash prompted many to wonder, “What can go wrong with a brand-new airplane.” The answer? Lots of things.

During my thousands of flight hours most of my emergencies came in brand-new airplanes straight from the factory.

For starters, I once picked up the first model of a brand-new airplane. The engine ran hot. I left the airplane at the factory, which put air vents in the engine cowling of all such aircraft, thus solving the problem.

One pick-up flight worked well until I took a short cut across the Gulf of Mexico. Just as I lost sight of land, the aircraft developed a vibration problem. “Aw”, said I, “It’s just the automatic roughness that seems to occur over water. It’ll quit once I get back over dry land.” But it didn’t.

I landed shortly thereafter and discovered the problem. The wing walk on the wing had come unfastened at the front, bent back, and flapped in the airflow. Once fixed, it never happened again. It was a typical problem—no big deal, but it could scare you to death.

There was the twin-engined aircraft that ran rough, another in which the autopilot would take a nose dive for no reason.

Then there was the time I picked up a new airplane, flew it a couple hundred miles, picked up my 5-year-old son and headed for home. We leveled off in smooth, clear air and I unhooked my son’s seat belt so he could stand up and look out the window.

Instantly thereafter, the single engine quit dead. I immediately wondered if I should try to restart the engine first or put son back under the seatbelt.

As I wondered, I went through the usual quick movements—switch fuel tanks, richen mixture, hit boost pump and look at the gauges. The dead engine quickly returned to life. My son never even knew anything was wrong. Good training is a great asset.

By far the scariest new-airplane flight was in a twin-engined aircraft in which the weather radar worked backwards. If it said the storm cell was on the right, it was really on the left. That radar took me right through the storm as I tried to avoid it. The storm stripped much of the paint from the airplane and the table in the airplane was broken.

We got the radar fixed, but I haven’t recovered from the fear to this day.

Officer Norway’s Corner – Military service in Norway and abroad

By SRO Kjell Michelsen

Back in the 1980s, the law in Norway said that any able man between the age of 18 and 27 had to join one of the branches of the military for one year. Like several other European countries at that time, Norway had what was called a Compulsory Service System.

Growing up in a fishing village I had a natural liking to the maritime life, so my goal was to be called in for my year to serve in the Navy. I went through the Norwegian Merchant Marine Academy and with that, I thought that I was all set. But the Norwegian Armed Forces apparently had other plans for me, because I ended up in the Army, and was sent off to infantry boot-camp.

A little disappointed at first, I soon took a liking to serve in the Army. After boot camp, I was stationed in the northern city of Narvik, a name that might resonate with some World War II history buffs. Narvik was the first place during the war where Nazi-Germany lost a military battle, this after soldiers from Norway, England, Poland and France enmassed a force strong enough to beat them. The German troops were later able to send enough re-enforcements to retake Narvik and the surrounding mountains.

Based on how well one did during your year in the military, you had the opportunity to apply and try out for military service overseas. At that time, Norway had an infantry battalion stationed in South Lebanon as a part of a United Nations operation called, United Nation Interim Force In Lebanon or UNIFIL for short.

After the initial training in Norway, I was assigned to Company B, 1st Platoon, which was a light infantry platoon tasked with intercepting anyone trying to cross into Northern Israel. One of our main tasks was going out on night patrols, looking for infiltrators from the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) who often tried to cross the border into Israel to attack Israeli targets, both civilian and military.

I was 19 at the time, so for me who had grown up in a small fishing village in Northern Norway where my only experience with travel had been a few family vacation trips to Sweden and Finland. To suddenly be in a Middle Eastern country, especially during a time where a bloody civil war was going on was an experience that formed my life for years to come. Although the Lebanese civil war was mostly fought in Lebanon’s capital Beirut, we at times had our hands full not only with those seeking illegal entry into Israel but also at times with the Israeli army themselves, or their counterparts in the Haddad militia, who sometimes did not care much for our presence.

During my years in the military, I was able to apply and try out for four different missions which in turn turned into nine tours of duty. I had the honor of serving in countries like Lebanon, Bosnia, Croatia and Somalia. Most of my friends know about my service, but not so much of what I did or experienced, people I worked with, missions we had and more. I will write about some of that in future Officer Norway’s Corner posts.

Until next time, be safe, be happy and do the right thing.

A Denney for Your Thoughts – Alert: Groundhogs, presidents & lovers

By Connie Denney

What do groundhogs, presidents and lovers have in common? If you have turned the calendar page manually, electronically, emotionally or otherwise, you know the answer is attention during February. To be the short month it is, February has a lot going on—or at least it has had over the years.

If you put a lot of store by names, you may want to trek back to Roman times. Think “Februarius.” There’s the whole thing about how it came to be a month at all, leap year, changes in calendars, etc. to explore for details.

For now, let’s take a stroll through some of the more modern stops along the way. On Feb. 3, 1870, Congress ratified the 15th Amendment to the Constitution giving African American men the right to vote. If that sounds a bit early to you, do read further about the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In between, on Feb. 1, 1960, four black college students did not leave after being refused service at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. Other sit-ins followed. 

The 60s are known for a number of reasons. Many love the music and remember the lingo! Of historical and global importance, the late John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth Feb. 20, 1962. Now, that’s far out (60s translation: awesome)!

The above are a few high points. February also hosts other noteworthy markers in time and draws our thoughts to specific causes. Consider American Heart Month, Chocolate Lovers Month, Creative Romance Month. Certainly, the choice of February for these, I suspect, could be tied to the romantic unofficial holiday Valentine’s Day celebrated around the world.

There’s also Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month. Guess the market people would love you for that!

Then, there are the birthdays. A number of notables were born during February. The one that results in a holiday on Monday, Feb. 18, was George Washington, the first President of the United States. Presidents’ Day, itself, has a bit of a history. Washington was actually born Feb. 22, 1732, but the holiday’s evolution allows honoring other presidents also AND makes for a three-day weekend, as it is set for the third Monday of the month.

In the interest of balance, it should be noted that February dates were important in the careers of our two presidents who were impeached. In 1868, on the 24th, the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Andrew Johnson. On the 12th in 1999, the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in the Senate ended. Both were acquitted.

By the time you read this, Groundhog Day 2019 will be history. You already know the celebrity Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow when he left the comfort of his burrow on Feb. 2, Groundhog Day. We will have to wait to see whether the prediction of an early spring proves true. 

You have Presidents’ Day as an official holiday to anticipate.

Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, however, may be the observance most anticipated, the most likely to bring the most smiles to faces of all ages. A celebration of love is a good thing. Enjoy!

From the Publisher’s Desk – All stages of life filled with promise

By Lisa Whaley

In this week’s edition of The Erwin Record, you will find the Senior Connection, published at the end of each month to provide a list of events and activities for the 50 and older crowd.

As part of my regular duties, I am tasked with reading over each Senior Connection carefully to make sure we present it to you, our readers, in as clean and an accurate condition as we can.

This past weekend as I picked up the pages – red pen in hand to check for errors – I was once again struck by something that has nothing to do with typos and sentence structure.

This community offers a whole lot of opportunities for baby boomers and beyond.

That may not seem like such a big deal, but in a society where youth is seen as the be-all and end-all, I found myself looking with anticipation to my senior, retirement years, in much the same way as I used to dream of graduating from college, buying my own home or having my own family.

A quick look at the Senior Connection calendar quickly illustrates what I mean. Not only are there a seemingly endless list of things to do, most break a lot of “I’m-too-old-to-do-that” stereotypes.

Want to go line dancing? It’s offered through the Clinchfield Senior Center on Feb. 4 at the YMCA. Love to go bowling? Then mark your calendar for Feb. 6 and 20. Feel the need for a little pampering? Sign up for manicures provided by Unicoi County High School’s cosmetology class on Feb. 27.

It’s as if anything that you have ever dreamed of doing has merged with your current favorites to create a list that’s hard to resist.

There are books to read, tips to keep you healthy, games to play and opportunities to give back.

It’s almost like a well-deserved thank-you card – written to the county’s generations of men and women who have already spent much of their lives working, helping and serving. They finally have stepped off the merry-go-round and earned a well-deserved break.

The Senior Center, Family Ministries and other organizations throughout the county are trying to make sure that break is a good one.

When my oldest daughter was about 10 years old, she once shared this observation about the stages of life with me as we were driving to school.

“Mom, I’ve been thinking,” she said. “You know, when you’re a baby, your mom and dad feed you and dress you and do everything you need, and that’s good.

“When you get older, you get to go to school and make friends. You have to listen to your parents, but they still take care of you. And that’s good.

“Then when you become an adult, you get the freedom to decide where you want to live and what you want to do, even though you’ve got to work, and that’s good.

“When you retire, like grandma, you don’t have to work anymore and can do whatever you want. So that’s good.

“And when you die, you go to heaven, and that’s good.”

I think my daughter was on to something.

Thank you, Erwin, Unicoi and Unicoi County, for recognizing that each stage of our lives is filled with promise. I am actually looking forward to the day I have a Senior Connection on the table next to my personal calendar as I make plans for the upcoming week.

Hood’s Winks – Greatest athlete left off list

By Ralph Hood

Well, shoot!

I just read a listing of the greatest athletes of the 20th century in my hometown of Brunswick, Georgia. I was absolutely appalled to learn that I was not included. Somehow my name was omitted. Surely, this was an egregious error.

After all, I did have many astounding athletic accomplishments while growing up in Glynn County and later in my long athletic career.

I distinctly remember …

… losing a foot race at a Cub Scout athletic event in the front yard of Leland Moore (whose sister was voted Most Athletic in my class). That might not sound outstanding to you, but it was a mother/son foot race, and I lost to my mother! It was, as Churchill said of Dunkirk, an “ignominious defeat.”

… coming in second swimming the backstroke at the state DeMolay convention in Atlanta. (I might have won had not a few of us carried out an early scientific experiment on the effects of beer on teenagers the previous night.)

… running into the wrong huddle at a “B” team football game in Savannah. I really did. That was before contact lenses and facemasks, and I was blind as a bat without my glasses. By noon the next day, everyone at Glynn Academy was calling me Wrong-Way Hood.

… competing in the state water skiing tournament in Augusta, GA. There were 15 contenders in the men’s division, and I came in 13th. You should have seen the two guys I beat. Pitiful!

… playing the position of catcher in a Cub Scout baseball game. Daddy had told me never to play catcher. The mask was too small for me—as was everything that fit normal boys—and a tipped ball knocked me out cold. The first thing I remember when I woke up was Daddy’s face—complete with his ever-present, but never lit, King Edward cigar—as he growled, “I told you never to catch.” (Robert Sapp, by the way, was playing baseball in the same league. They put him on the “greatest” list, but not me.)

… being a master squirrel hunter in the swamps and woods of Glynn County. I was hunting squirrels long before I could drive. Daddy took me. I walked for hours and usually returned with one squirrel. Daddy took a nap beside the car. He slept until a squirrel woke him up, then he shot the squirrel and went back to sleep. His squirrel was usually bigger than mine.

… being the only person on a large deep-sea fishing boat who did not—repeat not—catch a single fish in six hours of fishing. This was in the 1960s, and I had long since graduated from high school and college. Unfortunately, one of my high-school classmates was onboard to witness this sad event. I also got seasick.

Given the above facts, it is obvious that my omission from the list was a grave oversight which will no doubt be corrected posthaste.

Officer Norway’s Corner – A focus on traffic safety, substance abuse

By SRO Kjell Michelsen

Working on various causes with our SADD club members is one of the most rewarding things I do as an SRO. Although it can be hard and at times a little frustrating getting even a few students together to plan on various upcoming projects because those who are active in the club also are busy with other school activities, be it academic, sport or other clubs. So when things come together and we are able to accomplish goals and tasks that is something which gives me that extra push to plan on new adventures and projects down the road.

Last week with the great help of Dustin Street at the high school and one hastily scheduled planning meeting, some of our SADD club members were able to come up with a short and to the point video for a Public Service Announcement (PSA) for the National Road Safety Foundation – Driving Skills 101 Contest. Last year we entered a similar nationwide contest, and our video was ranked among the top 10 of all entries nationwide.

This week the SADD club has partnered with Christy Smith, the director of the Unicoi County Prevention Coalition, to host the National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week, which is a part of the National Institute of Health efforts to combat drug and alcohol abuse among teens. It supplies students with facts to counteract the myths about drugs and alcohol that teens get from the internet, social media, TV, movies, music or from friends.

Recently in a new report from the National Safety Council, more people (1 in 96) will die of an Opioid overdose than in a car crash (1 in 103). This is a serious issue, and I feel a strong obligation to address this in any meaningful way I can, hence our effort to push out the facts about the dangers of using and abusing drugs and alcohol. If we can reach out to just a handful of students about the risks and pitfalls around these issues, it would be well worth it. Until next time, be safe, be happy and preach about the dangers of substance abuse.