Swedish version


by Commander Walter (Joe Guide) Dinkins,
USN Chaplain Corps (Ret)

  My cast to the tailing red fish was off a bit, but when general average and mother nature occasionally do come together, it all works out well, and can be a beautiful thing to see. That little redfish just swam up, and slurped in my Numero Uno Fly. I fought him a bit, and released him, while wading the lower Cape Fear marshes the other afternoon with friends from Dallas, TX who summer on Bald Head, and had never caught a tailing redfish on the fly until that day. Lessons were taught, and they enjoyed themselves, as they locked down another booking for the second flood tide day in June next summer already.

  We sometimes bear so many troubles throughout our lives, and most people do not experience death as much as we did when I was a boy growing up in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

  How much time has changed the way people look at things. Coming back from Afghanistan in April of 2004, I got bumped up in DELTA Airlines to my first time in First Class, with my CO and SGT MAJ, and people clapped their hands, and said “thank you for your service”. You know, I had been spit on in my uniform back in the early 1980’s in San Francisco Airport when as a young Army 2d LT, I was running to catch a flight. That was certainly not the norm, I would think, but I remember my cousins who returned from Vietnam in the 1971 telling me about people cursing them in the SF Airport in California.

  Perhaps it just takes some time for people to grow up and learn their lessons from history, I reckon, it’s just like my mama used to say, “honey child, not everybody has a nice mama, or papa, so just say a little prayer when some people are rude, or nasty in your life”.

  I have seen more than my share of death and tragedy throughout- thirty years in the U.S. Navy in ships, and across the world in deployments in times of war and peace. Although I like peacekeeping missions the best, I always pack away a 4pc Fly Rod, although I did not unpack it during my two deployments to Afghanistan, however I did serve a lot in the Central Pacific and caught a lot of Bonefish, and Great Travelly (GT) in flats and marls all over the central Pacific. I was single then, and had many a Island Girl break my heart, in Islands most people never knew existed, but casting away your cares with a crabby fly or a Merkin, or a Numero Uno, Crazy Charlie’s…you forget about smashed hearts or bruised minds amid cautious steps amid marl and beautiful flats when Bonefish are tailing, or GT are busting baitfish.

  I cannot recall her name, but Miss Universe came out to watch me bonefish off the mouth of Guantanamo River where it met the bay, and I caught a few bones, and lost more than my share, as she told me how difficult life was in NYC and Hollywood for Models and Actresses. I just nodded my head, and said, yes mam…, and asked her, to tell me again-“… how did your business meeting and dinner go with Donald Dell last week in Manhattan?” I thought that was exciting stuff. She came to my Worship Service, and I got her to hold the bread at Communion, and almost all the Marine’s came to that service. Wasn’t that great? Things like that just don’t happen every day you know.

  It’s not easy being a Movie Star, but she was the first Ms. Universe ever to teach how to fly fish, although I am sure she had a nice time, she did tell me that she never had been fishing before, and I said that was kind of a “sad thing” to hear. We all got our crosses to bear, but sometimes life can appear a bit too heavy, and everyone needs some help occasionally throughout our life. We just got to become more aware of people and their feelings, and perhaps we might all get along much better than normal. You should know what I’m talking about. We can take so many things too seriously, even if it’s not life threatening, however, if you can just get out on the water, and pole a skiff a bit, and take a cast or two amid tailing bonefish, or a Tarpon; all your worries and problems might seem to fade into the limelight of a setting sun.

  Life occasionally can be quite surprising, if you are willing to cast your cares away on some distant flat, no matter how a bad a week, you might have had, depends on your perspective, but Jimmy Buffett knows what I’m talking about. He’s helped out some Wounded Warriors with a Concert or two over the past few years. PROJECT HEALLING WATERS is another program that I like supporting, and that organization helps take Wounded Warriors fly fishing across the USA through the graciousness of its contributors, and if you’d just take a moment to look at their website, you will be blessed, I just know it. I told Lefty Kreh that just last year, when he appeared at a free casting lesson for Wounded Warriors from Bethesda, MD.

  Some days are just lovely, just breathe in that sea breeze, and know that no one is trying to kill you. Perhaps you too can cast your cares away on some distant bonefish flat. Give it a try sometime.

  A SEAL TEAM TWO member (GM1c) told me during a break in the action one afternoon in NE Urzgan Providence while 122 MM Rockets were falling, around our position had the right frame of mind. There job was killing, but he and a old Chief Petty Officer who was there with me, just paid never mind. He said, “Chaplain, I just want to get back to VA Beach, and get back out on the Chesapeake and cast on a school of Striped Bass,” I said I know just how you feel. Lefty Kreh knows that feeling, perhaps you readers also know what I’m talking about.

  Word sweeps inland, we were ready to get out of there, and were about to hump a couple of miles back to a different area, and await a dust off, and wait for two Apache gunships, and a Blackhawk that picked up another detachment- to come to our pause, and I look towards the setting sun, and just think about Christmas Island, in the Central Pacific, or the Seychelles’ flats, or perhaps the Cape Fear Delta Marshes when redfish are hitting top water, or being out on the ACE Basin in the low country of South Carolina wading for tailing redfish. Good Memories. They are only a cast away in my mind at times such as these, amid rotor blasts, or mortar rounds, or people screaming, and bullets flying around my head. My mama’s words come back to me know, “Boy, it’s your friends that will pull you down, so watch your step, and remember to stay away from fast women too”.

  Perhaps your mama cared about you enough, to teach you the right path to walk in your life’s journey, where ever that road may lead to. You sometimes may need to step back, take a good azimuth reading, and reassess your journey. Not all people think that way. Perhaps you enjoy to kick back and enjoy a cigar and a beer after a hot day on the flats, I wade in my combat boots, but the journey throughout the war zones of life, is too far distant, but then again, the greatest individuals I have ever known in my thirty years of military service, are all carry scars, some deeply embedded, some with loss of limbs, so I wade a bit more carefully nowadays. In the afternoon, I get a phone call from someone far away, who face I cannot recall, but wants to go fishing with me down here in Wilmington, North Carolina which I now call home. I’ll see you at 0505 on Friday morning next week, I say, and don’t worry if you are a bit late, I’ll keep the light on for you. Sometime the shadows seem to move, but I’m not that afraid of the noise, and I will launch the skiff and get the sea-breeze in my face before too long.

  Like Hemmingway, who’s own trauma caused him to express his writing in a unique way, I feel quite safe out there on the water, however I have had too many nice fellows from places like Bensenherst, Detroit, Dear Lick Montana, and Compton Heights California; there are many names that I have forgotten, and I’ve been retired now for about two years. So many friends I have seen come and go throughout the years. So many lessons learned along the way by my NCO’s. Some of them are buried outside Washington, D.C. on a rolling patch of ground in Arlington Cemetery. I wonder has the reader ever visited that hallowed ground. I’ve buried so many people throughout the years and seen so many broken bodies MEDEVAC’d… out of country to Laundstul’.

  Taking care of so many Military families for all these years, and seeing so much pain of young men and women injured physically, and in places that carry deeper wounds has caused so much heartache and pain throughout the years. My father who was a WWII, Korean and Vietnam era Airborne Ranger, would say, people didn’t talk about their feelings, in his day, just buck up, find a job, and get back to work. Of course, during WWII, everyone was impacted, and had family members who served in Europe or the Pacific theaters, and military personnel stayed until seriously injured or their return to the great PX after the war was completed. He did 41 years, and bared his share of scars, from Anzio Landing, and some distant Sniper that missed his mark, from the 10th SS Waffen BN, so Papa’s scars were something he didn’t mind telling me about, as a little child who grew up around Sargents Major, Colonels, and John Wayne Movies and the U.S. Army infantry life, he was certainly disappointed in my Inter-service transfer from US Army to the US Navy, but he appreciated my being assigned to Joint Commands and Marines, at least in his perspective of military life anyway.

  My grandfather taught me to love fishing when Papa was in SE Asia in the late1960’s, and his lessons were in the proper placement of popping bugs for bass and bream in farm ponds, and a kindly Presbyterian Pastor answered my prayers and taught me as a 12 year old to double haul a fly rod for redfish down on the ACE Basin where he told me, “the Ashiepoo-Combahee-Edisto Rivers came together to form the Atlantic Ocean,” as the good Reverend constantly reminded his young fly fishing protégée.

  My world and my experiences may be difficult for some of my readers to understand, but I didn’t fear much about getting killed, but I don’t like driving in Los Angeles, Washington, DC or New York City, which frighten me every time I drive through those great cities. I didn’t like Islamabad, or Dubi City, or Kuwait City, or Cairo Egypt not one bit. Such traffic is not my cup of tea. Although one of my bodyguards assigned to me in Towin Kowt, was a nice Bronx Cop (GM1c) named Bobby, who threw himself into his job, and seemed to enjoy my stories of getting lost in the big city of NYC.

  In a flight to a desolate Forward Operating Base (FOB), a chopper pilot once said to me, “this isn’t your papa’s war, so enjoy the best years of our lives”. Those flyboys, and girls had a birds eye view of things I guess, but they all had their own dangers in their own right. I was supposed to fly with that pilot and his crew one day, and something got me held up, and I missed that flight up into Dawi Kindi, so I was quite shocked when I was told that that helo got hit by three RPG’s with the loss of all hands. It seems gunships were diverted that day, for some reason or another. They were the “heavy lift warriors” from joint support Air Group out of Colorado Springs, Colorado. I remember the machine gunner, who liked to rub my helmet, when I flew with them, he said, “it was good luck to rub the helmet of a sky pilot”. He was waiting to hunt Elk, next season up there in the Big Horn Mountain’s with his papa and talked about his ol’ dog named “Pooch”.

SOTF-SE Afganistan-May 2012 CH CDR Walter Dinkins SE AFG

  His mama told me that ol’ Pooch just keep watch on the porch of their ranch house, always look outside every sunset, looking for his buddy to appear at their driveway. People like that you cannot forget too easily, you know what I mean? You get to know people in Combat Deployments, people, men and women, and see photos of their families and children, girlfriends and spouses. Hear their stories, see their emotions , hear about their schools, and towns, and neighbors, and you feel kinda like you know those places, although I never been there. Do you ever feel that way? I remember the sunsets, brilliant , fire orb glowing, amid dust storms, or freezing weather, looking at the Moon, the stars at night, and wondering if anyone back home is taking notice in the other side of the world. Perhaps I just miss being away from all those who shared the dangers, and boredom that are all apart of wartime. I remember the Marine Corp Sergeant Major Atkins, USMC (Ret), who I traveled a lot with in Afghanistan during my first time there in 2004. That is the Bella Huzzar, SGTMAJ, General Elephinstone of the British Expedianary Forces (BEF) in 1843 should have captured that that fort, and garrisoned his Regiment there, for supply and safety in the hights of the Captial during the early days of that First Afghanistan War, however, he did not, and thousands ending up dying on his march through the passes to Jellaabad. “How you know about that history Chaplain, he asked,” I replied, “it’s in history books, SGT MAJ so people, especially the officers and NCO’s will not forget it.” Well, the dust settled for a time, and I have time to reflect.

  Now Chaplain, if we get over run, this hear Winchester Pump Shotgun, has Buckshot and Slugs, and you just protect yourself, I can’t have a Chaplain die in the combat zone, bad news for the Corps, and the people reading the morning paper back in the States. “What a good fellow he was, he survived twenty-six years service to the Corps, and is somewhere in Savanna, GA, last I heard. We serve with those on our right, and our left, men and women from little and forgotten towns, not really known to New Yorker’s or Hollywood people in the media biz of reality television.

  I can remember many of their faces, and sometimes in my dreams, I can still see them smile, and remember discussing with them about their new baby, or their farm in Kansas where they grew up, and amid summer time thunderstorms, some memories visit me in the darkness of the night, especially deep in the nighttime, when its really dark outside, but I don’t have to cry any more for friends who no longer walk upon this earth. Their lives live on in their memories and their families, and their lives that were given up for our Nation’s foreign policy amid times of war and times of peace.

  Just the other night, I broke out of some dream state, and was with a patrol , and climbing back to earth up some dream like Jacobs ladder, I hear my wife’s sweet voice say to me,” don’t cry honey, that’s only thunder.” The fish are crushing top water and it’s not yet seven in the morning, I see the sun rising in the east, and hear the thump…thump…thump of rotors in the distance, Camp Lejeune Heavy Lift Helo’s from MAG 29 are flying down the coast. I take off my desert boonie hat, and wave to them as they pass overhead.

  It’s a lovely day in my neighborhood, and it’s got the makings of a nice day on the flats, as I strip strike my deer hair popper, and fight another tailing redfish.


*Author is a retired US Navy Chaplain, works with Wounded Warriors, and guide’s sportsmen in South and North Carolina Coast, when he’s not preaching somewhere. (www.joeguideoutfitters.com) is based out of Wilmington, North Carolina. He’s probably the nicest guide you would ever meet. The greatest living fly fisherman in the USA, Mr. Lefty Kreh recommend’s him, but reminds you to don’t expect miracles to occur, but you’ll have a mighty good time along the Carolina Coast!

Your host- Joe Guide - Exceptional half day- Fly Fishing, Wildfowl, & traditionali Rail Hunts on North Carolina's coastal Spar




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