Wounded Warriors

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Stephen Bruno running in Vietnam ’69-’70.

My daughter recently posted this comment below on her Facebook page with a photograph of us taken in Sedona, Arizona by Aaron, my Son-in-Law:

Thank You for your service just doesn’t seem enough. Can’t imagine what you went through in the war but grateful you made it home. Maybe someday you will write a book about it. Many veterans never share their full story, and I can understand how painful it would be to relive it. However, the younger generation aka your granddaughters would greatly benefit from reading about that time in your life. Many veterans pass never sharing their amazing stories. I hope someday you share yours. ❤️ Love you Dad

This story is for my daughter, Kelly, and my grandchildren Courtney, Brittney, and Sydney. I will share more Vietnam stories in future posts on this blog and publish them later in a book as part of my general autobiography, primarily for my daughter and grandchildren.

In May 1968, the Army drafted me out of the college where I was the editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper. I knew there was no doubt that I would go to Vietnam in one capacity or another.

My younger years included recruitment into the White Fence gang which was one of the most violent gangs in East Los Angeles, California. Because of this experience and several others, I felt that I could use my ‘street smarts’ to handle Vietnam better than some. Therefore, I would not think of avoiding the draft and having someone else going in my place. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for what happened to them.

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Maynard in Valley of Enchantment

Many years ago, I took a job in Riverside County, Southern California as a deputy tax assessor, (I know it is hard to imagine) which I had taken temporarily while waiting for the home closing that I was purchasing. The day the sale went through I quit my deputy tax assessor job and relocated to the beautiful San Bernadino National Forest in the Valley of Enchantment, Crestline, California.

Throughout my high school years, I shared free time between surfing at Huntington Beach and hiking in the San Bernadino National Forest. I had always thought about living there after college. I did not consider being drafted during college and sent to Vietnam, so it took many years later to move to the mountains. I especially loved sharing the mountains with Kelly, my daughter.

I was waiting for my application acceptance for the half-time position of Executive Director of a mental health agency in Crestline.  In the meantime, I decided to rough it a bit and fish for Rainbow Trout at Lake Gregory, a small local rustic lake within walking distance of my new home, since I did not hunt wildlife except with a camera. For daily meals, I planned to add a storage of rice to the fish as all my money was tied up in the house.

I borrowed a fishing pole, lures and a stringer from a neighbor, and I ventured out to the lake and found a tranquil location with a beautiful view. This lake was the quintessential mountain retreat. A great location to obtain primary food until the job became available. Seriously, how hard could it be to catch enough fish for sustenance?

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Court-martial or Reassignment ?

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With my daughter, Kelly in Sedona, Arizona. October 6, 2016.

My daughter recently posted this comment below on her Facebook page with a photograph of us taken in Sedona, Arizona by Aaron, my Son-in-Law:

Thank You for your service just doesn’t seem enough. Can’t imagine what you went through in the war but grateful you made it home. Maybe someday you will write a book about it. Many veterans never share their full story, and I can understand how painful it would be to relive it. However, the younger generation aka your granddaughters would greatly benefit from reading about that time in your life. Many veterans pass never sharing their amazing stories. I hope someday you share yours ❤️ Love you Dad

This story is for my daughter, Kelly, and my grandchildren Courtney, Brittney, and Sydney. I will share more Vietnam stories in future posts on this blog and publish them later in a book as part of my general autobiography, primarily for my daughter and grandchildren.

While serving my U.S. Army tour of duty in Vietnam, I published an ‘underground’ newspaper in addition to my regular medical responsibilities, for several issues while I held the rank equivalent of E-4. The staff box listed me as Editor-in-Chief along with other staff members and a disclaimer that stated it was an authorized publication and that the views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Department of the Army. The content included interviews of military personnel, Commander’s Corner, Short Timers, Tips for R&R, illustrations, and satire. I later learned of my promotion to the rank of E-5 equivalent to a Sergeant.

After I believe three issues, the Commanding Officer (CO) a Colonel, called me into his office and immediately shouted.

“The satire you wrote will end in a court-martial with hard labor at Fort Leavenworth, or be sent to a location in-country where life expectancy is 12 days or less.”

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Violence: My Brief Junior High School Reflections

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Zip Gun similar to the one I carried.

For many people, the 1950’s conjure up images of Rock-n-Roll, the Korean War, Sputnik, Jazz, “The Golden Age of Television,” and the sleek and classy cars.  On February 3, 1959 “The Day the Music Died” a chartered plane carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson Rock-n-Roll musicians crashed near Clear Lake, Iowa in foggy conditions killing everyone.

For me, 1959 conjures up memories when I was involuntarily recruited into the predominantly Chicano/Latino White Fence gang which was considered one of the most violent and powerful gangs in East Los Angeles, while I was living with my single parent family and attending junior high school. The White Fence was the first gang in East Los Angeles to use firearms, chains and other dangerous weapons. I remember having my homemade zip gun consisting of a metal tube taped to a wooden stock and firing a .22-caliber bullet.

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Meeting with the Russian Defector

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Representing the Russian Defector 2017 © Stephen Bruno

Many years ago while in my late 20’s, I held a Special Projects Specialist position at a community services non-profit agency in Phoenix, Arizona. The Director was a former Jesuit Priest. One day he came to my office, sat down and said that he had something he wanted to share with me. The Director said, given my background, that there was an interesting man he knew that I would like to meet and that it was non-work related.

I was given the time off from work to meet with the person. Curious, as always, I agreed. The only stipulation by the person, he added, was that the meeting must take place that day at Church’s Chicken in Phoenix, Arizona.

I wondered who this was and why he insisted on meeting at Church’s Chicken fast food restaurant which I had never visited. When we met,  the man introduced himself to me as Aleksei (not his real name), and it was clear by his name and thick accent that he was Russian. After a hardy handshake with both hands, Aleksei immediately said that he was defecting to the United States as he watched to see my reaction.

It was clear that this was going to be an interesting meeting.

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Nobel Prize in Literature

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2015 © Stephen Bruno

Typewriter Tea Kettle

Since I am completing a novel of humanitarian literature that I began several years ago and because I drink a lot of tea while writing, I decided to order this great working typewriter tea kettle made in the UK. I wrote the text printed on the lid as I believe in world peace and humanitarian literature to help us get there. As for my opportunity to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, you just never know what can happen when you embrace your passion and commitment for a better world.

Stigmata?

Reiki Blood Stigmata

2015 © Stephen Bruno

As a counselor and energy worker for many years, I had heard from numerous people about their experiences with Reiki. Whenever I heard about something new that I could use to help people, I studied the process and attended the training to learn more.  I decided to learn what Reiki was all about.

In 1998, I attended a weekend Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Level I, (Shoden) First Degree and Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Level II, (Okuden) Second Degree Practitioner Certification classes in Mount Vernon, Washington.

One essential element of Reiki training includes a process called attunement or initiation. It can be provided in private or as a group. Given several times throughout the training, it supports the Reiki Practitioner’s sensitivity to the energy and to a spiritual connection.

Midafternoon during the first day of the class the Reiki Master Teacher led me to a small room where she began the attunement. Part of the initiation is a tapping of the hands. At the conclusion of the procedure, she walked downstairs to get another student, and I took the opportunity to use the upstairs bathroom.

Between the time I left the room and the few steps to the bathroom, I noticed that blood was pouring out of both of my hands. I was concerned that the blood would pour over my hands onto the Reiki Master Teacher’s plush carpet. I just barely made it to the bathroom sink.

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