More Than You Probably Want To Know
My parents, Franklin William and Nola Marie, raised us 5 children (Jimmy and Roger live in New York, John in Texas, and Pam in Florida) along with several foster children in a loving and caring home in Levittown, NY. Later my parents and Roger moved to Fort Plain, NY. where Roger and my favorite sister-in-law can not pull themselves from this beautiful and expensive community and its long hard winters. Levittown was a great place to grow up with nearby schools, recreational parks, hospitals, nice pubs, beaches and back in those days everyone was pretty much neighborly to each other. I remember street parties where we all chipped in to clean sections of Scholar Lane, the aroma of assorted grilled foods, games and dancing into the night. I was a part of history the night the lights went out on Long Island and most of the Northeast. I was on my driveway at 32 Scholar Lane talking with one of the Collins' girls when everything but the night sky went black. Hey, Veronica, Kathleen, and Patricia I think of you often and I would enjoy hearing from you. I was offered a ticket to the upstate NY Woodstock outdoor concert and passed on it - wow speaking of history. I regret not accepting the offer. Levittown visionary and builder, Mr. William Levitt, constructed several large community swimming pools along with though small by today's standards shopping malls which took care of our groceries, pharmacy, 5 and 10 cent store, barber and beauty parlors. These areas were called the Village Green of which Billy Joel made even more famous by singing about them and other areas of Nassau County having grown up in neighboring Hicksville, NY. And I might add here that Dorothea and I finally were able to see Billy Joel in concert in Birmingham, AL in 2007 and he put on one hellva show.
My life began with the US Navy having been born on the USS Repose while docked in Tsingtao, China. My father was stationed there as a Hospital Corpsman. My mother said that the time she spent and was able to visit many Chinese cities was the highlight of her life.
I joined the Island Trees High School Cross Country team in my Junior year and was able to make my own mark in running long distances, as I surely didn't do it academically. I followed fall cross country with indoor and outdoor track. Coach Monie, the Cross County coach, who I didn't realize until years later was not only my coach but a good friend. Coach Pane and his Plainedge High School track and cross country teams invited me to their practices during the school year and the summer months to a point where I am in their track team yearbook photograph. Graduating in 1966, the height of the Vietnam War, and fully knowing the draft would find me I enlisted in the Navy. I have many fond memories of Plainedge track parties and beach runs with Al Cipoletti, John Jentzer, Charlie Carroll, Ricky Friedman. Janet P. and Judy Jones, from Plainedge, and Anita Nason, Pat Ferris, Mary Keegan, Jackie Trinidad, John Acerno, Jimmy Decker, Pat Hubner and Peggy from Island Trees rounded out most of my social life.
I ran a track meet instead of attending my senior prom (one major change I would make if given the opportunity), graduation came and I soon found myself on a train to Great Lakes Naval Training Center for boot camp and Naval Hospital Corps School which was then in San Diego. While in San Diego I enjoyed going to track and field meets at UCLA, where every track meet was full of national and international athletes. While at one of the UCLA track meets I met Dick Railsback, a UCLA pole vaulter who was ranked the most consistent U.S. pole vaulter going into the Mexico Olympics. I saw him compete in Madison Square Garden upon returning from my Vietnam tour.
Following graduation from Corps School my entire Corps School class was loaded onto buses and transferred to Field Medical Service School on Camp Pendleton. Then a little leave back home and back to the west coast to the Oakland Naval Hospital for a six month tour. The hospital is now closed but not without memories of our good times and fellow service members. This tour was my first exposure to the Vietnam war where the majority of the patients were war casualties. David Teller, Rodney E. Kinyon, Larry Leclaire and I were Corpsman assigned to ward 70A, Dirty Surgery Ward. David and I have recently rekindled our days at Oakland Naval Hospital and would enjoy hearing from Senior Corpsman Larry Leclaire, Lieutenants Connie Ware, Ms. Houghman, Bonnie Skyler, Sonya Little, Patricia Lawler, and Ms. Williams, and some of our most memorable patients Clyde Edgell, Mike Monahan, Larry Cuslidge, Starkey, and others who spent time on Ward 70A. Kinyon was killed supporting his Vietnam Marine Corps unit, H&S Co., 3rd BN, III MAF on 7Jun1968 in Quang Nam Providence (Vietnam Veterans Memorial panel 59) and Harold Frazier, USMC from Colorado, passed away in 1999 as a young man I am sure as a result of his severe war injuries.
All of the time at Oakland I knew where our next duty station would be. I was fortunate to received orders to the 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade for my year deployment. I was never shot at but the images I have of our war injured and of those who provided the ultimate sacrifice sadly live with me.
From Vietnam I was transferred to St. Albans Naval Hospital, Queens County, Long Island, NY, just a few miles from my grandparents and about 30 miles to my parents and where I graduated high school. I met my wife, Dorothea, while I was returning a patient from the recovery room to her ward as we both were stationed at the Naval Hospital St. Albans. We married a year later. While at St. Albans I was promoted to HM2 and had the luxury of working for two outstanding bosses, HMC Leo Ladd and HM1 Thomas Hathaway. The pace of transfers and the opportunities to travel was fast and seemed endless. Leo Ladd retired as a HMCS, moved to upstate New York where he passed away.
From St. Albans I had the opportunity to have a seat in the last class of the Navy's Medical Administrative Technician School at the Naval Hospital, Portsmouth, Virginia. Next came my first of two tours of duty in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where our first child, Tina, was born. Not quite unpacking from our move to Camp Lejeune we were off to Todendorf, Germany for two years where Franklin was born. Seeing all of the church stained glass windows must have had a subliminal effect on me taking the stained glass course upon retirement. The two year tour with vacations to southern Germany and Denmark ended as quickly as it started. With a brief stop in Virginia Beach for 18 months earning my Associate Degree in 1975 we were back on Long Island with the 2nd Battalion 25th Marines at the Garden City Reserve Center York for my third of four Marine Corps assignments.
Upon completion of the three year tour I was then transferred to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for 2 years. Dorothea and the children visited twice where we had fresh caught fish and langouste. What an opportunity to enjoy life: snorkeling, scuba diving and beautiful weather. Helen where are you? I would like to hear from you. I traveled to a few other Caribbean islands dragging my dive gear wherever I went. In 1981 I was transferred to my first and only ship's company tour aboard the USS Forrestal, home ported in Mayport, Florida. Twelve months later I was transferred to Naval Hospital Corps School where my attempts of staying on board the Forrestal and avoiding duty in Great Lakes preceded me to Great Lakes. And the rest is history.
Without a doubt I am pleased my efforts to avoid Great Lakes was in vain. Hands down this tour proved to be my favorite, meeting young students in the class room, runners of all capabilities and just a family orientated military community. My running again peaked after being given my first GRUNION singlet by Lt. Suggs and joining the Great Lakes Naval Base Grunion Road Racing Club. The Grunion was funded, organized, and managed by a true King, Captain Bob Esquire, Dental Corps. I believe Lt. Amy Suggs and one or two others were initially instrumental in getting the Grunion team on to the roads. Our team competitions were legendary and included the military team championship at the Navy Blue Angel Marathon in Pensacola in 1984. Besides our racing in Chicago and northern Illinois (one cheer for Zion), the Grunion were often seen in numbers along the streets in Duluth, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Washington D.C., and of course Pensacola, where more than statistics were left behind. My personal best was a 2:46 marathon (averaging 6:21 a mile for 26.2 miles) and qualifying for the Boston Marathon, which was a crash! And how could I not mention our runs to the GRUNION tree in Ravinia Park to gather for friendship and a bottle (or 2+) of wine. If you were not able to be there for one of these evenings - definitely your loss! And some how the KING was at all of our events regardless of where and when. I continue to stay in contact with a few very special people from our good times on the roads. Some of the Grunion I remember are Tim Smith, Herb Kallusch, Chaplain Cordova, Ginger Springer, Troy Ruppert, Dan Szmania, Linda Hernandez and Krissa Bonebrake off the top of my head.
Oh yea, the professional side of my Great Lakes tour. After all I was sent there to teach at the Hospital Corps School. My team leader, Commander Dan Rogers, Nurse Corps, and the rest of our famous TEAM 3 set some high standards for ourselves and students both in the classroom or drill field. Chief Susan Clavijo, where are you? I must mention a non-TEAM 3 shipmate, HMCS John Eads. John was a retired very competitive marathoner in his own right and coached our volleyball team. Often times he and I would go to the gym just to hit the ball around by ourselves while relaxing from the day's stresses; a true teammate.
From the cold winter 20 milers in northern Illinois I received orders back to Camp Lejeune for my fourth Marine Corps tour. With my pending retirement I was transferred for a one year tour so Dorothea and the kids went back to our home in Orange City we had rented for several of our last duty stations. I was very fortunate to have had Marine Corps unit, the 2nd Light Armored Vehicles, retire me in 1986. Oh I can still remember the Marine Corps pageantry and Navy tradition incorporated into my ceremony.
While in Florida I continued running and ran several personal bests including a 34:52 at a Red Lobster 10K in Orlando. I joined the Daytona Beach Track Club, We the People, a local government watch dog group, and The Orange City Civic Association. I also had family and a limited amount of my neighbor's help in building a huge shed before making yet another move within 4 years. A local hospital offered Dorothea a fabulous nursing position which afforded us to move to the Alabama and to permit me to realize my desire to have dirt beneath my fingernails on a regular basis. If you are looking for some great road races or triathlons over beautiful courses with well orchestrated events in Florida you need to check Alta Vista Running Club. Please tell John Boyle I said hello. John continues to remain a very competitive and involved national masters’ runner as well the head guy of Alta Vista.
I went to work at the Poultry Science Department of Auburn University in December 1995 and after 10 enjoyable years of working with Dr. Roger Lien I choose to make a career change and left the university for full time doing what I wanted to do and when I wanted to do it.
Just before and after leaving Poultry Science I did a little traveling. First to upstate New York for my niece, Steph's wedding in June 2006. And then off to Alaska for a week in July 2006.
I always thought of myself as a closet farmer, being teased with dirt beneath my fingernails during my tours in Cuba, Great Lakes, Ill (complete with a greenhouse), Camp Lejeune, St. Albans and Garden City. My dreams are being fulfilled and then some by living on our active farm and seeing our grandkids several times a week.
Still learning I soon realized that many of the farm chores left unattended (namely fencing and barn maintenance) while working are requiring a lot of attention now. Changing the forage in our paddocks, installing additional lights in the goat/chicken house, welding gates, working on a heavy duty farm utility trailer and farm tractor, checking and feeding our chickens, goats, dogs twice a day will keep an anchor around one's neck. However, I enjoy the work and have no intentions of another career change in the immediate future. Living in the country enabled me to have a 1/3 acre pond dug which is my swimming hole.
The DillmanFamilyAssociation, thanks to Andrew Stillman, planned a two week trip in 2009 through our ancestral lands and a visit with our family members living in Germany. I extended the trip a week on both ends and stayed on USAF bases to take in a few USO tours. Pictures and more commentary feel free to visit my four weeks in Germany.
Having worked for Kim West's campaign to be my State Senator, I was bitten. Within 3 days of the general election I emailed my friends and fellow Patriots of being a write-in candidate for House District 82. Dorothea hand designed and painted my 16 yard signs, created my fliers, and I collected about 100 votes. What an experience working with some of the most dedicated and loyal people I know for Kim's election. Too bad her $17K did not match her opponent's $1M he spent through the primary, run-off, and general election but what a grass-rooted campaign. We fertilized and watched the grass grow as supporters were coming out of all corners in the 6 counties of Senate District 28.
Being bitten by the 2010 political bug my involvement in the state TEA Party movement and legislative activities continue to peak. For now my interest and efforts surround property rights, Agenda 21, Macon County zoning to include regulating the use and size of one's yard, and Initiative and Referendum. I accepted the challenge to turn back a state-wide constitutional amendment 6Nov2012 ballot issue to save the citizens nearly $300 million over 20 years in the name of Forever Wild. Our campaign was NotForeverWild and gave a good fight. This issue, one of 11 constitutional amendments on the ballot, generated more YEA votes than any candidate or issue in part to the exposure we gave the lack of fiscal sanity. In 1992 when I voted for Forever Wild the breakdown was 84% Yea and in 2012 we drove that percentage down to 75% with a budget only a fraction of their over $1.2 million, with nearly 1/4 coming in from out of state.
Initiative and Referendum (I &R) will be my cause until Alabama voters have the ability to place items on our ballot or my warranty on earth expires.
Taking a breather from politicking I took a long over due trip to NY in Sept. 2013 to visit my brother and my favorite sister-in-law, who is quite the cook.
The vacation and visit with younger Roger and Laura was my best ever and I have had many wonderful times with them.
My first stop for the night was Hungry Mother State Park in Virginia to pop my tent, seen below between the two trees to the right. The small dot of sun is on my tent while the blue is my portable chair.
Roger and his log splitting mo'chine - the puppy (the machine not Roger who is a bulldog) can split a cord of wood within a couple of blinks of the eyelash.
Got to meet many of their Amish friends. Laura prepared one of her classic dinners, complete with fresh homemade apple, pumpkin, and blackberry pies for her entire family, complete with her very caring and loving mother.
Traveled to Oak Mountain Ampitheatre for a Dave Mason, Doobie Brothers, and Journey concert June 2, 2016. My first visit to the venue - in the future I will leave considerably early as the last 3 mile leg on Hwy 119 took better than 45 minutes and arrived a few songs into Dave Mason's performance. All three groups put on a stellar performance but Arnel Pineda of Journey brought the house down throughout the majority of their performance. The man who at one time slept on park benches and collect, cleaned, and sold scrap metal in the Phillipines is one hellva a performer.