INCOMING “DOC” – a review by Ron Camarda

By Jack “Doc” Manick
Author House, Bloomington, IN, 283p

Late last night I finished the last sentence of the 39th chapter:

“This was a dream, my dream; one that I hoped would never see the light of day!”

It could have happened. The same fear gripped me when I read Chapter O, which was not a dream. When I fell asleep after reflecting on this book, I dreamed. I was surprised at how I was not fearful of the chaos of my dream. I was in a foreign war and I had to let go of everything I most loved and cherished.

Jack “Doc” Manick’s active duty military career in the Army spanned the years from 1968 through 1971. His Tour of Duty took place in 1969 in the Central Highlands of Vietnam with the 70th Combat Engineer Battalion and the 131st Engineer Company. I was merely 9 years old when “Doc” was in Vietnam. Jack was an ordinary and innocent kid who was faced with horror and grace. I delivered papers in Massachusetts when the Vietnam “Conflict” was still going on. My innocence shielded me from the horror on the front pages of the papers I labored to deliver on my bicycle. Often a local boy or girl who had died in Vietnam pierced my bubble of avoidance. My family of 9 was terrified that my eldest brother of nine would have to go to Vietnam. I made a silent vow to myself that I would never carry a gun or go to war. Only half of that vow has become a reality.

Little did I grasp that what “Doc” and countless others endured in Vietnam would profoundly help me deal with my own story of combat experience 34 years later in Fallujah, Iraq. I was 45 when I was recalled with the Marines to serve with a M.A.S.H. like hospital during a most gruesome battle in 2004. In his book, Incoming, Doc heard from his bunker in New Jersey, “Padre down!” Without hesitation and at a cost, he came to me. I am grateful for his service both in Vietnam and especially for his time back in America, when America has not always been so kind.

Jack has written and incredible and moving account of his experience of Vietnam. He writes it colorfully and realistically. He took me back into the City of Fallujah while the battle raged. He helped me to wrestle with my inner conflicts that came home in my duffle bag.

I met Jack at the Military Writers Society of America while covering a table for book sales of fellow authors. We all were more concerned about the books we wrote than the books of others. Incoming won the Gold Award. The previous year my book won the Silver Award in spirituality. Writing and publishing one’s first book is monumental and exciting. Selling the book is humbling and frustrating. Instead of flying back home with our books, “Doc” and the “Padre” exchanged signed books. On 10\1\11 he signed his book to me:

“Lest we forget”
Jack “Doc” Manick

“Docs” and “Padres” hold a very special place among the troops in all branches of the service, especially in the Army and Marines. In chapter seventeen, Doc tells it how it is in, “Never Mess with Doc!” In Fallujah, I served with Marines, Soldiers and Navy Corpsmen, “Docs.” When the incoming “Docs” were wounded or killed in action, our hearts were blown apart even more than we could accept.

The last line of Chapter 34, AMBUSH, caused me to chuckle. For those who were non-believers, “we cheated Death for yet another day.” For believers, “It wasn’t yet our time.” At Bravo Surgical in Fallujah we had a motto called, “Cheaters of Death.” This we changed to, “Ready to Receive” for obvious and not so obvious reasons.

War has always seemed like a big waste, except for those who profit from it. When I was engrossed in the little and big battles of Jack in the war, I had to be aware of the “incoming” rockets, enemy troops, indifference or ignorance of our superiors, frustrations, rats, insects, boredom and the wounded needing immediate medical care or a medical evacuation.

When Jack handed me his book on the first day of October, I wasn’t expecting my latest “incoming”. For those of you who dare to read Jack’s story, it is more than just another Vietnam memoir, or any war story for that matter. This is the story of a young boy who matured into a fine young man and a very wise veteran who admits he is getting older and pudgier. Jack was “coming” to be the person he is. Through the war experience of Vietnam and the thirty-plus years since coming home, we experience in this book how Jack’s detonator has been lit. Jack is now “incoming!”

In chapter 40, Jack begins by saying: “I was going home and I was pissed!” Jack is so crafty as a writer that I was pissed that the book was ending. Jack had warned me in the beginning of the book in NOTES FROM THE AUTHOR. “Doc” wrote:
“Soldiers are dreamers, they dream about going back home to wives or girlfriends or to Mom and Apple Pie. Incoming is their story…it is our story…it is my story.”
Yes it is, Jack! Yes it is! Thank you for your service in Vietnam and mostly for your service as a gifted writer and gracefully surviving the incoming insults from those who have hated you both abroad and here at home.

Ready to Receive

Ready to Receive

Cheaters of Death

Ron “Padre” Camarda
Author of Tear in the Desert
January 17, 2012

Care Packages to Share

Father Frank

22 October 2002 On the Dock – 7 pm

Sun went down, I am here.
Prayed and Played, most of the day
Made an important decision
Step out in faith
Obedient to You, O Lord
You call me, “Beloved” wow!

At Eucharist with my brother priests
I realized that I treat them kind of like my own brothers.
I Love them, but they really don’t
enter into my daily life.
But then I saw Frank
a stroke victim, retired
and somewhat left alone
The way he approached the altar
after I did
He was so filled with emotion
with his cane
The Eucharist overwhelmed him
and then at the altar itself
he drank the Blood of Life
and almost fell over.

I thought to give him my seat too late
And then he sat in a chair
blocking the aisle
awkward for the other priests
to step over him –

he is my brother
he had a stroke
he struggles ever so close
with his own sins
and forces me to face
my own sins of omission
and me?
do I?
i can’t answer
O Lord be merciful, o me a sinner.
Sun down, my batteries worn down
life, love, longing…evening prayer

What are you looking for? – Jesus

Come and See!

John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God.” The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John, you will be called Kephas” which is translated Peter).
Gospel According to St. John 1:35-39

"Behold the Lamb of God!"

The Church has now returned to Ordinary Time. However, an encounter with Jesus is anything but ordinary. All of us who were baptized and confirmed in the Holy Spirit are standing with John the Baptist. When Jesus passes by, we hear John cry out, “Behold the Lamb of God.” Do we follow Jesus? Are we prepared for Jesus to turn around and look at us and then ask, “What are you looking for?”

Jesus asks you and me, “What are you looking for?”

Follow the Light

After reflecting on this question all week, I believe I am ready to answer the question. “Beloved Rabbi, Teacher, Jesus…where are you staying? How do I get to be with you in eternity? I am looking to be loving and compassionate like You are.”

Jesus answers me in a whisper and with a smile, “Come and see!”

And so I went out of my house. I thought I was alone, but I wasn’t. I spent the day with Jesus. This is how I attempted to use words to explain my day:

12 January 12

Morning alone
with thoughts and delusion
contemplating, or rather wasting time
depending on who judges,
Beyond me
Beyond words
Lost and being
Things to do, but if not done, no matter
Sitting, forming words
barely touching or pronouncing
the reality, the thought
scream as I might,
won’t bring it, or that about
staying with my self not an option
and yet the only option
…and o my
confused and yet clear
alone morning.

O Beloved Sisters and Brothers, when the priest holds up the Body and Blood of Jesus at Mass, he cries out:

“Behold the Lamb of God!
Behold him who takes away the sin of the world!
Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb!”

Each and every week we attend Mass, we hear the words of John the Baptist saying, “Behold the Lamb of God!” What are we prepared to do? Do we follow Jesus? Do we answer His questions like, “What are you looking for?”

May I suggest that we follow Jesus, and when he turns and looks at us and asks us that question, we simply answer his call to, “Come, and you will see!”

Jesus will invite us to feast on the finest bread and the choicest wine we could ever imagine. Jesus will bring us home to his Father and Mother. We will then be called the Beloved daughters and sons of God. How awesome is that!?”

Please have a most awesome week in the presence of Jesus and His family.
You will find me following the Lamb of God. Where will we find you?

Love, joy, peace,
Father Ron Moses +

MOON WALKING: An Epiphany Experience

Blessings on this full moon!

Joy to the World

I rode my bike down to the beach and I witnessed a blood red moon on the horizon. She rose at 6:22 pm tonight. I didn’t take any pictures this night. I just breathed in the magnificence and peace.

Here are the pics I took on Friday night. I edited some…especially some wrinkles!

Have a glorious week. Today is the Baptism of the Lord where God says to Jesus as he rises from the water:

I am so proud of my brother, Jesus!

Love, joy, peace,
Ron Moses +

Listen to the moon and the stars

God loves the poor…in the New Year of 2012

God hears the cry of the poor…in the New Year of 2012!

After Jesus was baptized and was driven into the desert by the Holy Spirit to be tempted by the devil, he entered the synagogue of his hometown. He stood up to read the Scriptures and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.

“The spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He sent me to proclaim liberty to captives,
recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

Happy New Year! Next Sunday is the Feast of Epiphany, a celebration of Light in the World and in our minds. The time between Christmas and Easter is a time to understand the real meaning of Christmas. Jesus came to bring Good News to the poor. God loves the poor. After the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ during the darkest days of the year, the days will get longer and lighter for the next six months. Hopefully, our minds will likewise get more enlightened.

It amazes me how much money and energy is spent on football and playoffs. As soon as a team (and city) wins a Super Bowl, we immediately strive for another. One is not good enough. We don’t take the time to really enjoy our accomplishments. Our moods and emotions are determined on whether our team wins or loses. Don’t get me wrong, sports and entertainment are good for us, but addiction is not.

How many things of this world are we truly addicted to? Computers and the Internet are wonderful inventions, but now we keep pushing the limits. How often would we prefer to “text” someone, rather than speak to them? Then there are the times we are driving and being absorbed in talking on a cell phone or worse, texting, is truly a serious problem. We get so absorbed and distracted that we would put another person’s life at risk for that immediate gratification of responding to the mad dash of fingers on a tiny phone.

Of course as I say this, I convict myself. It is so easy for me to put off the work I need to be doing while I surf the web or Facebook for unreasonable lengths of time. There are so many “conveniences” and gadgets that take me away from prayer and simple silence that truly are food for our souls. Now that seems to be the problem. Our souls are starving to death. We don’t watch or attend just one football game a week, we keep feeding our eyes with the game that would feel empty if we didn’t have replay.

I hate to break this to many of you, but real life doesn’t have replay. Our sins are not overruled on the field. The only remedy for a bad play…is forgiveness from God. Let us ask ourselves: “How much time and energy have we expended to relieving the cry of the poor?”

If we truly desire to live in Heaven for all eternity, we need to follow the example of Jesus. We must detach and love the poor. Be creative. I suggest beginning with silence, taking a walk, singing and journaling. I will end with my journal entry from December 29th this past week.

To kneel before a poor person’s baby, born in the most unfortunate circumstances…
That’s what Christmas is for us.

Good morning Jesus, I thank God for another year of You!. And yet, you are God!
Here I sit, just an hour before celebrating Eucharist at St. John’s in my own town.
The year is almost over,
the growing darkness has ceased
as we begin to realize that we are on our way home.
As we walk with You, we can’t help but notice the blood dripping from your body.
Your heart is pierced.
Your hands and feet are still pierced and bleeding profusely.
You didn’t just die from asphyxiation,
You died from your blood pouring out from your body.
You were being embalmed while you still were living
And some how You managed those seven last gifted words:

“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

“Today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Is it possible that the thief realized there was no life from you? To watch those last moments before you died must have been excruciating. And then those moments between the death of Jesus and his own death must have been beyond terror. Involuntarily they stood beside you at the cross. “Jesus told me that today I would be with him in Paradise…what joy!”

“Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother.”
“I am Jesus’ brother!”
Jesus, we have the same mother and father!
We are brothers!
Joseph is my father too!
My God and Your God, my Father and your Father!

“I thirst!”
…for the Poor, the lonely, the oppressed and the rejected.
Jesus thirsts for you and me…o my!

“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
I trust you Jesus. In God we must trust!

“It is finished.”
Mass is ended. God in Peace.
The Mass never ends, we take it with us.
Jesus is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end.

Have a most wonderful New Week in 2012!

Love, joy, peace,

Father Ron Moses +