Stories about my family

Author: Jack Burr (Page 2 of 12)

CYNTHIA THE TEACHER

CYNTHIA WAS IN THE FLAG CORP, WEBSTER HIGH SCHOOL, TULSA OK, 1982

Cynthia is our only daughter.

Our two sons frequently accused her parents of showing favoritism to the  youngest of our family.  I must admit, for me there is a bit of truth to their assertion, which I suppose happens more often than not in a family such as ours.

Although I could say much about her early childhood,  I will start this story when we moved to Tulsa in 1981.  Cynthia was 15 that year.

Phyllis and I decided to leave the military life for a variety of reasons.  Our first priority after we settled in Tulsa was to join a local church and be active.  We did both.

Phyllis and I were saved at an early age, however we had not been faithful for many years.  Our oldest child, Rick, had been saved earlier at church camp.  Randy and Cynthia were saved a few weeks after we joined a small Baptist church on the west side of Tulsa.  Praise the Lord for His unlimited Grace.

To leave the military and move to Tulsa was one of the wisest decision that Phyllis and I have made 61+ years of marriage.

TAKEN IN CO SPRINGS, MOUNTAIN OF THE GODS

The move was especially good for Cynthia.  She joined the Webster High School Marching Band and enjoyed her high school friends.

I think most people reach a few seminal points in life where decisions they make have unforeseen and far reaching consequences.  For example:  accepting Christ as Lord and savior,  choosing a life-long mate, and for my family, cutting short my military career.

One such moment occurred in the summer of 1982.  Cynthia was teaching a Sunday School class in a small room.  Her class had grown from 5-6 students to 25-30 young girls.  Chairs had to be removed to permit standing room for her growing class.  One of my duties each Sunday morning was to check on each class to see if all teachers were present and if any needed help.

As I peeked in on Cynthia’s class, I was taken aback as I watched the girls mesmerized by the teachers’ story of Joseph and his coat of many colors. I too, was caught up in the story and no one noticed as I stepped inside to listen and learn.  It was clear that the Holy Spirit was at work.

CYNTHIA AND I GRADUATED BBC IN 1988, RANDY ON LEAVE FROM NAVY

I knew at that moment that she was a teacher with a profound God given talent.  After class I told her so.  At that moment I think she decided to  become a Christian School Teacher.

A few years later our family moved to Springfield, Mo where  Cynthia attended Baptist Bible College and became an outstanding teacher

I would be remiss if I didn’t say a few words about the mother/daughter bond that developed into something special.

PHYLLIS AND CYNTHIA, THE INSEPARABLE PAIR

During her childhood years the two were almost inseparable.  Even so much so that after dates when she was a teenager, Cynthia would come to our bedroom, sit on the edge of the bed and talk incessantly.  After a bit of listening I would drift off to sleep only to be awakening an hour later by laughter and more talk.

That bond strengthened over the next several years as Cynthia married and had three wonderful children. During this period of time Cynthia continued her teaching profession, obtaining a masters and ultimate a PHD in her chosen field of education dealing with the transition from high school to college with a focus on community colleges. Helping young people succeed in school became her mission in life.

Cynthia’s tenure at Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Mo formed the basic building blocks of her success as a pioneer in the field of student success. Presently she is the Vice President and Executive Director of the Texas Association of Community College’s Success Center.

Mainly, she works with trustees and regents of governing boards, and chancellors and presidents of the 50 Texas community colleges to implement changes in policies and procedures focused on student success.

Cynthia works with Texas State Legislators and Cabinet Level Administrators aimed at improving state and local policies.  She also serves a national leadership role in strategic planning and support for a network of 14 other states promoting the Texas model of success.

Because of her success she is well know by college presidents, wealthy donors, local and national leaders who are interested in success of  community college students.  Cynthia’s work has generated millions of dollars in grants given for the specific purpose of implementing her educational models.

Recently Cynthia gave a seminar in Houston, TX and was the main speaker for a gathering of 450 Presidents, Board Members and other community college leaders.   Her services are sought after because of her reputation for results.

By any measure God has blessed her exceedingly.

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

No story.  Just pictures of our visit to Yellowstone National Park..  Taken June 2016 during our year + vacation.   

 

one of the many waterfalls in Yellowstone Park

THE DEVIL’S BREATH MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS

We sat on a log and waited about an hour for Old Faithful to burp.

picture take from the car

 

Beautiful day, Beautiful country

HE WOULDN’T GET OFF THE ROAD

YellowStone Lake

45th parallel latitude sign between Mammoth Hot Springs & Gardiner, Montana;

Tunnel Near East Entrance

BAD LANDS

No story.  Just pictures.  Phyllis and I visited the Badlands in June 2016.

Interesting rock formations

Badlands National Park is located in southwestern South Dakota.  it protects 242,756 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires blended with the largest undisturbed mixed grass prairie grass in the United States.  Movies such as Dances with Wolves (1990) and Thunderheart (1992) were shot in Badlands National Park.

WISCONSIN

No story.  Just pictures of the Wisconsin Dells.  I’ve tried not to include pictures I used in my first story about our visit to the Wisconsin Dells.  Our year + travels took us from Florida to Montana, New Mexico and a lot of places in between.  We’re  back in Broken Arrow enjoying our retirement.  God has blessed us and continues to do so.

Enjoy the pictures.

Phyllis and our faithful companion Honey, waiting for our motorhome to get last minute things checked out before we head off to Wisconsin.  

 

Getting ready to hook up and go.

We stayed here during our tour of the Wisconsin Dell’s

 

According to Wikipedia, the unique beauty of the Dells is due  to the sandstone rock formations and tributary canyons which were formed by a flood which cut deep gorges in the Dells in a matter of days or weeks as the swift water eroded away the soft sandstone.  This explanation must be true because it coincides with the Biblical record.

Pictures of the Badlands next.

MY LAST COMBAT ASSIGNMENT

MY LAST COMBAT ASSIGNMENT

I found a document in my personal files describing a combat assault conducted in the Central Highlands, South Vietnam in 1969.  I thought it might be interesting to my readers.

I’m in the middle, Artillery FO on left and I don’t remember the Major on the right.  Picture taken in fall of 1969 at LZ Oasis.

As I recall, the area of operation was in the vicinity of LZ Oasis, Plieku, South Vietnam.  I was assigned to the  1/35,  Infantry Battalion as the operations officer responsible for planning and executing the combat assault and subsequent operations.

AFTER ACTION REPORT:

OASIS — In the largest combat assault of the year, the Famous Fighting Fourth’s 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry flew 500 men and support equipment 12 miles south of The Oasis for an operation that has led to the discovery of enemy caches and huts.

Four companies and a command element were lifted by 15 Hueys.  Five Chinooks from the fixed-wing air field at the Oasis were used to transport heavy equipment.

Companies were picked up from various locations and inserted in designated areas and assigned an area of operation to search for enemy caches as they worked their way back to LZ Oasis.   The command element was situated at Plei Mei.  The airlift was completed within an hour.

During the first day of operations Bravo Company found and destroyed two well camouflaged huts, each capable of sleeping nine men. “The only consistently effective method of finding well hidden hootches,” stated 1st Lieutenant John Kelly, the 3rd Platoon leader, “is to search the thickest vegetation and keep away from used trails.”

On the second day of the operation, Bravo Company found two rice caches. Over 6,700 pounds of rice were in holes that had been concealed by two feet of overhead camouflage.

During the entire operation, companies reported a large number of the enemy’s anti-personnel devices (booby traps) which had decayed or were no longer functioning. One such booby trap consisted of a whip like piece of bamboo which, when functioning, projected an arrow along a well worn path.

In order to find hidden enemy supplies, the fighting Gypsies probed swamps with bamboo poles and searched stream banks for tunnels and caves.

Once the operation was complete, the enemy was minus a food source and supplies.  More importantly, we were certain the enemy was no longer using the area from which to launch attacks on LZ Oasis.

This is the last story I intend to write about my time in Vietnam.

COMPANY COMMANDER ON CALL: RECOLLECTIONS OF JACK BURR

 

 COMPANY COMMANDER ON CALL

On the 3rd of May, 1967, C Company CO, Captain Joseph Caudillo was killed by a sniper bullet fired by VC hiding behind a haystack.  AT 2311 hours the Battalion Commander was notified that Captain Caudillo passed away atQui Nhon Hospital.

Captain Caudillo was a respected leader, well liked by his contemporaries and especially by the men in Company C.  Therefore, morale would likely be an issue.

Jack Burr South Vietnam 1967, LTC Moore on left

I was told to take command until a replacement could be found..  LTC Moore directed that I implement a training program for the company until a new commander could be located.

We both knew that inactivity would be the worse thing for morale.

As I remember,  the new commander took command a few days later and I returned to my job as S-2.

Next, A Company Commander left on a two week leave to tend to an emergency back home.  Again, LTC Moore directed that I take over the company for the two week period.  Any thought that the Battalion Commander would take it easy on the company was fool hardy.

That was alright with me since I knew many of the soldiers in A Company because I was 3rd Platoon Leader for about 7 months.  I had learned that the best way to minimize casualties was insisting on alertness and good security.  Two weeks ended with only a few enemy sightings and frequent use of indirect fires.

When the commander returned,  I went back to my full time  job of S-2 for the remainder of my first tour.  I spent much of my time in the Battalion’s Light Observation Helicopter gathering intelligence about the enemy and passing it directly to friendly forces on the ground.

NOTE:  I returned to Vietnam a year later and was assigned to the same Battalion, in the same AO and commanded B Company.  This time I was with with B Company for several months.

TULSA VA CLINIC

A VISIT TO THE TULSA VA CLINIC

My purpose here is to encourage veterans who, like me, to use VA Medical service and to be vocal about the caliber of service you receive.  The opinions expressed in this post are based on services provided by Muskogee Veterans Hospital and most recently the Tulsa Clinic on 41st Street.

The Veterans Administration has suffered from bad leadership and poor administrative policies over the past several years.  Certain VA hospitals and clinics have been deservedly criticized for not properly serving the needs of veterans.

A few days ago I visited the Tulsa VA clinic to establish a personal medical record in the event I needed VA Services in the future. I had not been in a VA medical facility since the scandal of poor treatment of veterans which was prevalent during the last presidential administration and is still unresolved in many instances.  Accordingly I was skeptical as I approached the clinic.

First, I must say, I was filled with admiration and a sense of patriotism as I saw several veterans of the Vietnam era  with visible disabilities.  A few younger veterans were also in the waiting area.

I spoke to each one I met as I made my way to the information desk, they looked me in the eye and said they were fine.  Anyone could see that they were not fine in the physical sense, but it was also obvious they were talking about their mental and emotional state of being and that they were proud to have served their country.

Clinic named for LTC Ernest Childers

As I sat in the waiting room awaiting my turn, I noticed three vets who appeared to be indigent with emotional issues probably caused by PTSD or illegal drugs or maybe both. The nursing and administrative staff appeared caring and professional as they attempted to understand and care for the needs of each.  None-the-less, my heart went out to these men who needed more than medical assistance.  Another example that the cost of war cannot be measured in dollars and cents.

Promptly at the scheduled time my name was called to see the doctor.  She was attentive as I described the purpose of my visit.  She was friendly and easy to understand as she used non technical terms to ask the kinds of questions doctors ask patients. She gave me advice and information about my health that was more informative and helpful than the civilian doctor I have been seeing for the past several years.  I was impressed.

Post visit care was also impressive.  I was contacted by the Physician to check on me and a day or so later  a nurse called and gave me useful information on test results.  She also made an appointment for a follow-up visit.  The service provided was superior to the civilian facilities I have been using for the past several years.

Information I’ve provided here is one person’s opinion about a particular VA Clinic.  If your experience has been different, I encourage to speak to people who can do something about the issue concerning you.  Be persistent.

As a veteran you deserve respectful and timely treatment from people working  in institutions specifically designed for and whose sole purpose is to serve you.  Most do, but If you do not receive proper treatment, then do something about it.

In every governmental entity there are written policies on steps a veteran may take  to have the issue(s) resolved.  Ask the person who is not responding to your requests, to talk to his (her) boss.  If he (she) is not available, make an appointment or ask to see a higher level supervisor.  Persistency may be the only way to get answers.   Many times, change only occurs when someone is made uncomfortable.

If, on the other hand, you receive good service, be kind, and thank the person who served you.

There is a saying– that Kindness makes you feel good whether you are  giving it or receiving it.

 

 

Phyllis talks about her Grandma

My name is Phyllis Burr.

I am going to tell a story about my Grandma, Rachael Ninetta Prater.  I remember the time when grandma was working on a

My grandma. Nina Praterquilt with other women from her church.  I sat under the the quilt which was stretch out on the quilting frame permitting several quilters to work at the same time.  I recall watching the needles going up and down.

I’m sure these early experiences explains my interest in sewing.  In particular, my interest in making quilts.

another pieced and hand appliquéd quilt by Phyllis

Grandma was a believer in prayer.  Whenever I was visiting and told her I was sick, or sometimes she just intuitively knew something was wrong and she would kneel and start praying.  When she did so I knew she loved me.

One time we played church.  Ronnie liked to preach but, he was too small to see over the pulpit in the living room; therefore,  he stood on a kitchen chair and preached away.   During the exhortation, he paused and asked me to get him a glass of water.  He took a gulp and suddenly sprayed Billy and I.

Hand Pieced and Hand Applique stitched by Phylis

At the same time, grandma walked into the room.  She was not pleased with our behavior, disrespecting God’s Church as we did.  She gave us a light spat on the rump and banned us from the living room except when it was used for real church.

I was a quiet child and I had been told  I was an emotional child.  I suppose I was, which explains why I have fond memories of my grandma.  She was my best friend.  Especially, when someone said things to me that hurt my feelings and I would cry.  Grandma understood and and gave me sweet hugs.

It was a sad day when she passed away in 1989.   She was 89 years old.  I know I will see her again because she led me to my

A beautiful little girl named Phyllis

Lord and Savior,  when I was 12 years old, and taught me that when I trusted Jesus as my Savior that I was saved and would go to heaven because Jesus loves me . JESUS loves me this I know, For the Bible tells me so, Little ones to Him belong; They are weak, but He is strong.                                                Yes, Jesus loves me!

I know that Jesus Loves me and  she taught this song so that I would never  forget “Jesus Loves Me This I know, for the Bible tells me so”.  This song and the knowledge of God’s Grace is a great comfort to me now that I am 76 years old.  I owe much to my Grandma.

 

GUADALUPE RIVER, CANYON DAM, TX

No story.  Just pictures taken November, 2016 on Guadalupe River near San Marcos, TX.  Phyllis and I were vacationing with our daughter, Cynthia and her family.

On our way

Our grandson, Evan fishing on the Guadalupe River.

Looks like good fishing but it wasn’t.

Canyon Lake. Guadalupe River flows Southeast out of dam.

Our Son-in-Law, Ben Ferrell climbing the stairs from the banks of the Guadalupe River

Ben fishing near Base of Canyon Lake Dam

Getting ready to go to Tulsa

OPERATION THAYER II, JANUARY 1967

OPERATION THAYER II, Suoi Ca Valley

 I was assigned 3rd platoon leader , A Company, 1/35th Infantry Battalion,  for about 3 months when we were attached to 1st Cavalry Division.  I was as comfortable as one could be fighting NVA in the central highlands, Pleiku, South Vietnam.  

My platoon remained with A Company until the 19th of January when we were assigned a reconnaissance mission deeper into the mountainous range West of Pleiku near the Cambodian border.

Talking to a squad leader, Central Highlands, South Vietnam

The following account was extracted from the Combat Operations After Action Report for Operation THAYER II, January 3- February 12, 1967.   The area of the operation generally followed the  Suoi Ca Valley about 20 miles south of Bong Son in the Binh Dinh Province.  The valley is named for the Suoi Ca stream that meanders through the craggy valley.

Operation THAYER II was conducted under the command and control of the 1st Cavalry Division and units from 3rd Brigade, 25th Inf Div. 

1st Cavalry Division (airmobile) employed the 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division task force in offensive operations in Suoi Ca Valley. First priority mission was to search for and destroy the 18th North Vietnamese Army (NVA) Regiment. Second priority mission was to search the eastern portion of the Couoi Ca Valley for enemy activity.

Between 4-9 Jan- Immediately upon the introduction of the combat forces of the 3rd BDE TF into the Suoi Ca Valley-Vinh Thanh Mountain range AO, several small contacts occurred.  Friendly forces repeatedly engaged small numbers of enemy in sharp, short contacts.

Indicaions were that a very large force had recent]tly vacated the area.  However the enemy, principally VC, began a terror and harassing campaign against the civilian populace along Highway One and against the main routes of communications.

On 9 January, 1967,…A Company, 1/35th Infantry Battalion made contact with a squad size unit capturing a great deal of equipment, maps and propaganda literature. The enemy left the items behind and fled…

On 10 January, 1967 in the vicinity of BR739645, 3rdPlatoon, A Company, 1/35thmade contat with five VC wearing US steel helmets, OD shirts, VC caps (under their helmets) and ponchos. Apparently attempting to infiltrate the area.

Previously, C Company found several ladders which were probably used as early warning observation posts which seemed to fit the notion of infiltration.

A company made contact with one NVA and recovered a large medical bag in a hut. Later an individual dressed in khakis ran into another hut and from there into a cave.

At this time a large number of contacts with other NVA and VC were made in the same area.  In addition, the pressure exerted by the 3rd Brigade task forces caused the enemy to start exfiltrating at a faster pace and in small groups, aided by local VC.

Two hundred sixty-five enemy were killed and seventy three captured attempting to exfiltrate out of the area during the operation.

This confirmed that the VC infrastruacture and NVA forces (believed to be the 18th NVA Regiment) were coordinating operations.

Information gained from a captured high level officer revealed a weapons and ammunitions procurement and storage  location, a blacksmith shop which made grenades and booby traps and a manufacturing shop for making small tools . A limited weapons repair capability was also maintained.

A Company was given the mission of destroying the blackshop facility and B Company destroyed the ammunitions and remaining items.

A Company was then airlifted to provide security for 1/35th Infantry Battalion for a week and then the battalion was given a surveillance mission in the southern portion of Suoi Ca Valley in accordance with the TET truce.

Intelligence indicted that the 18th NVA regimental HQ had relocated to the Northwest to Nghia Diem Valley …between 5-10 January as a direct result of the insertion of the 3rd Brigade Task Force into the THAYER II AO.

In an effort to obtain more information about the enemy, I was ordered to take two squads of my platoon and conduct a reconnaissance to gather information about the enemy’s locations and strength in an enemy stronghold.  The only information I was given about where we were going was it would be rugged mountainous terrain near the Cambodian/South Vietnam border.

On the 19th of January, 1967, two Slicks (like the one above) mistakenly inserted our team of 14 men into an LZ, approximately 7 km from the one that was planned.  The next morning the enemy found us.  See stories the “Longest Day” and the Darkest Night”.

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