A part in history

PawPaw

James ”Ed” White was my PawPaw, a short, wiry man, clean shaven and with slicked back black hair peppered with gray, and he was a cheerful force of nature. He had lost an eye as a sailor in WWII, and though his glass eye matched his other one perfectly, he never saw the world the same again. He chain smoked unfiltered Camel cigarettes, sipped bottles of Miller beer, and never quite figured out why other people weren’t as happy as he was.

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A Partin history

It’s difficult to tell you my family’s history without beginning with mine, and the first few years of my life are accurately and concisely told in a court report easily found online or on file in the 19th Judicial District Court of East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. I was the minor child, Jason Ian Partin, and four years previously I had been abandoned by my mother and placed in the Louisiana foster system.

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A part in peace

In 1992, I learned a lot more about my family and the John F. Kennedy assassination, mostly because of the Oliver Stone film, JFK, that implied Kennedy had been killed by hihg ranking people within the FBI and CIA.

A consequence of the film JFK was a resurgence in public interest, and the public demanded to know more and newly elected President Clinton authorized releasing part of the JFK Assassination Report that had been begun in 1976, soon after Hoffa disappeared. The congressional committee consisted of bipartisan elected officials, and, interestingly, the editor of Time magazine who had worked with Bobby Kennedy and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover to plaster Big Daddy across media after Kennedy’s death. They reopened all files and brought in both FBI and civilian experts in ballistics, forensics, photography forging, espionage, and almost every other aspect that would be involved in the crime of the century. By 1979, the 12 volume congressional JFK Assassination Report reversed the Warren Commissions findings and determined that President Kennedy had probably been killed as part of a larger conspiracy, and that the three main suspects with the motivation and means to orchestrate such a plot were Jimmy Hoffa, Joseph Carlos Marcello, and Sancto Trafficante.

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The All Americans

Whenever I relate wrestling to my military experiences, one example always comes to mind. In the hot summer of 1992, I was one of nine paratroopers our of 260 who had made it through two weeks of food and sleep deprivation and practically 24 hour a day ardourous physical exhertion in full combat gear. This was the 82nd Airborne’s pre-ranger course, a condensed and exaggerated version of the two month long Ranger school. The 82nd had a few slots prime military courses, like the Ranger course, and General Ninja Nix insisted that we only send the best of the best and represented the Division well. I had previously won a brigade-level contest for Air Assault school at the home of the 101st Airborne and of the five of us from the 82nd attended, and we all graduated in the top ten out of hundreds of soldiers. But, by then we had already rappelled out of helicopters and rigged equipment for helicopter extraction and marched dozens of miles in combat gear, so the course was relatively easy for us and Air Assault felt like merely a 10 day formality where we were given three meals and allowed 12 hours a day to relax or sleep. Pre-ranger, on the other hand, was two weeks of constant stress, 24 hours a day, and the closest thing I would experience to real world combat feelings and fatigue, and at the end I felt not unlike how I had felt after two weeks in high school wrestling camps, cutting weight for junior nationals to best represent my state in nationals.

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Everything is a choice.

On the morning of January 16th, 1991, almost exactly 18 years after I was conceived, Sergeant Shaq woke us with my beeping watch in his hand and we got into the Humvee and turned the glow plugs and ignited the engine and looked up and saw dozens of bombers and attack aircraft flying overhead, and we followed them over our heads and across the border to Iraq in front of us, and the war began.

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The Devils in Baggy Pants

On my second day after returning from the first Gulf War, I was walking across across the common grounds of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment when an authoritative voice presumably shouted to me.

“Hey there, soldier! What the fuck you wearin’?”

I looked around and saw The Sergeant Major and snapped to attention and waited for him to walk close enough to talk without shouting. He stopped and put a half smoked and unlit cigar into his mouth and looked me up and down for a brief moment. He removed his cigar and said, “I asked what the fuck you wearin’, Private.”

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A part in war

I arrived at Fort Bragg on a C-5 Galaxy from Fort Benning, and within two days I had been given every vaccination and preventive medication known to the army in an endless series of shots and pills, and they gave us an experimental pill to prevent certain death from nerve agent and reduce it to a something that would be horrible but we’d probably survive long enough to feel more of the pain and misery before being less likely to die; it was pyridostigmine bromide, though I couldn’t pronounce it then and couldn’t recall the name and would have to look it up when writing this, unlike the other injections that I’d get every six months, like the thick and viscous gammu globulin injected into our butt cheeks that took a half hour to dissipate, and the barrage of tetnis, yellow fever, malaria, and other international diseases that America’s Quick Reaction Force regularly received, just in case. The gammu globulin was an immune booster given every six months and was a thick, viscous gel kept refrigerated until injected into our buttocks and made us sit angled for the half hour it took to disolve, so I knew it well. Butt, pun intended, we were never given pyridostigmine bromide again.

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Late Night With David Letterman

I left MawMaw’s house and didn’t know where to go. I was upset and overreacting, like many 17 year olds do, but I was calm enough to know I would have to sleep somewhere that night, and eventually I’d return to school; I didn’t have to now that I was legally able to drop out, but I didn’t dislike it enough to put on my walking shoes and leave, especially with only two months left. I would finish school, but that meant finding a place to sleep for two months. I didn’t want to see Wendy, because every time I considered it I felt overwhelmingly emotional, upset and angry and confused. When I considered Leah’s family, I felt that I had outstayed my welcome; they never said so, but I felt it. I didn’t know where to go, but I was going somewhere, and I flew along I-10 and automatically exited by the new state capital and rode pass the Centroplex and arrived at the downtown wrestling club where I had trained for junior olympics the year before. I hid my motorcycle in the alleyway and let myself in with a key I had made at the same Vietnamese general store that I had copied Coach’s key.

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Wrestling Hillary Clinton

I entered the 1990 Baton Rouge City Wrestling Tournament with a record of 54:13, including 34 pins. I had been pinned six times: four times by Hillary, twice by the Jesuit 145 pounder, and twice and random matches in the fall of 1989. The coaches convened, and I was seeded third. Frank Jackson was seeded second. We had wrestled six times and were 3:3, and every time, each of us won by only one point. Because of the bracketing and in order to minimize surprise upsets of the first seed, Hillary Clinton, neither of us were in Hillary’s bracket. He was sure to defeat the fourth seed, and, assuming we both defeated our first two opponents, the winner between Frank and me would wrestle Hillary Clinton in the finals.

Neither of us were sure that was a good thing.

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