I'm Zach Foster and I'm blessed to be a man of many hats. This is the one room where you can look into all the different windows of my mind. Read on if you're ready to think outside the box! "Call it a character flaw -- when under attack, I counter attack. Always." --Richard Marcinko, Rogue Warrior
Thank you for reading about my continuing exploits on my quest. I’m trying to fill my holiday season with actions that are productive and/or meaningful to me before I go back to working at the job I love.
Sunday, Day 17 of The Boredom, was spent
mostly with family. Still, I dedicated more than a few hours to peaceful
solitude in front of the glow of my computer screen.
Not gonna lie, playing The Lord of the Rings Online has become
one of my favorite pastimes. It’s an
epic role-playing video game and the designers created worlds that allow me to
explore and learn more about the regions and peoples written about in one of
the greatest literary masterpieces of Western civilization.
Day 18, Monday, was mostly spent working
on manuscripts and doing research, both for building my business and for a
future writing project. The academic
research has been for the purpose of writing a multi-volume history of the
Vietnam War, entirely from a libertarian perspective. So far I have seventy pages of notes typed
out on the computer, single-spaced and 12-inch font.
In the evening I attended my Civil Air
Patrol (U.S. Air Force Auxiliary) squadron meeting. Our guest that evening was an Air Force
colonel who happened to be the staff director for the Fourth Air Force at March
Air Reserve Base. He spoke with us in
the headquarters board room—really a section of the squadron’s double-wide,
walled off by chalk boards on one side and bookshelves on the other—and I
managed to get an interview before the end of the meeting.
I take pride in having volunteered in
the Air Force Auxiliary. I originally joined
to have a joint activity with my nephew, whose old man was long gone and badly
needed a structured program at the time, but I stayed because I truly enjoy the
program. Three years later, I’m a First
Lieutenant and one of the most active public affairs officers in California
Wing. I take pride in my own
accomplishments and in serving with this incredible, humanitarian
manifestation of the “organized militia.”
Plus, it’s pretty badass that CAP sank two German submarines prowling
our coast during World War II, with dozens more air-struck and damaged into
Day 19, Tuesday, I had my nose in books,
smoked too many cigarettes, and then forced myself to go to the gym. It seems like I’m only ever motivated to work
out when I’m on base... Oh well, at
least I went. The highlight of my day was finally getting in the mail my new green vinyl record of the Misfits' Project 1950 Expanded album—the entire thing is punk rock covers of oldies songs. Listening to that was too cool!
Wednesday was spent doing more research,
further work restoring manuscripts, and I managed to step into the sunlight to
get some lunch. In the evening I went to
my older sister’s house to honor our tradition of, whenever I’m back from the
desert, watching Modern Family as a
family—myself, my sister, and my niece and nephews.
I don’t even remember Thursday. I honestly don’t remember caring. It was probably a pleasant day.
Friday, Day 22, I punished myself at the
gym. I did a full forty minutes of
cardio, then migrated upstairs to do the bar dip for four sets of twenty-five
suspended reverse sit-ups. I followed that
up with three sets on the horizontal chest-press machine—one set for my left
arm, and one reduced-weight set for my stump.
I do my best to work out the right side of my torso despite my limb
deficiency. I’ve been lucky enough to
reverse some of the muscular atrophy on that side.
Following the chest-press I grabbed a
forty-pound weight bar and did four sets of squats, fifteen reps each. While it’s been good for my thighs and tush, it’s
been remarkably good for my right shoulder muscle (which is noticeably smaller
than my left). I finished everything off
with another ten minutes of cardio—this time on an exercise bike—and in my time
at the gym I downed another chapter of War
Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.
Saturday, Day 23 of The Boredom, was as
incredible day of days. I got up at 0530
(not my finest of hours), showered, and put on my CAP uniform. After picking up a Powerade, Red Bull, and a
stick of beef jerky—the popular food of the modern warrior—I made my way to
squadron headquarters by 0645. The
squadron departed for Riverside National Cemetery.
Our mission was to participate in
Wreaths Across America, an event to place holiday wreaths at the graves of
departed armed forces veterans, thus keeping their memory alive. The event was very touching and moving. The only part that weighed on me was talking
with some of the Gold Star wives and mothers.
Whenever military family members see me, they see the crew cut and the
missing arm and mistakenly do the math to think I’m a combat veteran. I tell them I’ve never been in combat, but
they don’t care—they already respect the uniform and they have things they need to get
off their chest. I have an obligation to
these women who lost so much for their country, to listen to what they need to
And so seventy-year-old women wept in
front of me for the husbands they lost in Vietnam, and forty-year-old women
wept for the sons they lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. What particularly disturbed me was the
Vietnam War widows—forty or fifty years later and the grief still hits them
hard. It always stays with you and doesn’t
go away, just like Abe’s death in Al Anbar province hasn’t gone away from me after
I got off duty just in time to drive
across Riverside, where I made it just in time for my friend’s wedding. One of the senior NCOs in my unit—we’ll call
him “Job,” after the Biblical figure—was getting re-married. Since he’s been through emotional hell and
back in his life—long story, you don’t want to know—and he’s become a mentor to
me over time, I wasn’t going to miss his wedding for the world.
Three amazing things happened that
afternoon. First, I saw my friend truly
happy for the first time in years.
Second, an important bond was strengthened. I noticed several tables had reserved
seating; one was reserved for the bride’s family—a thriving, bustling table—and
another reserved for the groom’s family.
The latter was empty; the entire groom’s family has since passed
away. I asked “Job” if I could eat my
meal at his family’s reserved table and he said, “Yes, I consider you family.” And I made sure he saw me eat at that
table. The third wonderful thing that
happened was that I met an intriguing older woman—one who’s kind, classy, sexy and
smart. We shot the breeze for hours and
had a ball. Phone numbers were
After I got home from Riverside I had a
nice hour-long visit with my older sister.
She and I are very close and I consider it a blessing that one of my
siblings is also my close and true friend.
Following the visit that primarily consisted of laughing and talking
smack about psychotic relatives, I picked up my good friend Midshipman. He and I had gone up to Big Bear and Holcomb
Valley together two weeks ago.
Midshipman (right) and I (left)
We sped over to the American Legion hall
in Azusa, California, to join my friend “Shark” for his birthday celebration—SharkFest
2014.Let me just tell you, SharkFest
was AWESOME!It was seriously the best
party I’ve been to in months, if not longer.A cemetery and a wedding in one day are a bit much, especially after
talking with the war widows.
Shark is a Navy veteran who saw combat in
Afghanistan. Nowadays he’s a student at
Mt. San Antonio College. I met him
through the San Bernardino County Libertarian Party, he was always supportive
of my writing, and we’ve been friends ever since. We were celebrating his 31st
birthday that night.
It was such a relief to shoot the breeze
and swap stories with veterans and fellow current reservists my age. The special bond between veterans that you
read all the clichés about, then mentally discard, is real. I hadn’t realized the extent before, but I
did that night. I realized that I’m not
a 19-year-old FNG—f***ing new guy (a liability)—in a shiny new uniform, amazed
by everything going on around him. I’ve
been a weekend warrior for seven years, added to three years of extra duty with
the Auxiliary, and another two years as a contractor embedded with the regular
Army. I’ve done my share, endured both the outdoor
elements and the bureaucracy, and it was great to be around other guys and
girls who actually knew what the hell I was talking about!
Gotta love Vietnam vets!
Better yet, the party wasn’t great just because
I met solid people and partied hard with my buddies. Other than making a host of new friends, I
danced with some of the prettiest girls in the San Gabriel Valley, civilian and
veterans! One girl, currently a student,
was the prettiest woman Marine I’ve ever seen—seriously, I’m a sucker for dark
brown hair and green eyes. Better yet,
she’d been “downrange” (military slang for the wars), which made her a badass.
The entire night was therapeutic, and
the entire day was an incredible ending to my week.
* * *
CAP historical painting courtesy of CAPhistory dot org. All other images are by the author.