Response from Terry

I usually just let others have their say because it bothers me in a way hard to explain that these exchanges are anonymous. Out of courtesy to Kevin, who signed his name, I'll join the fray and risk making things worse!

First an aside. My daughter Melanie has nothing to do with the British soldier story, I merely meant I borrowed her clever expression of "goodness grief" so lets leave her out of the argument please.

Second, a word about being brave. I thank those of you who have spoken out here on my behalf. It is true as some of you said that I brought home from the war several medals, even one that says "for heroism." But of all the men and women I know who have been to war and faced the enemy, including many who were decorated for heroism, I don't know a single one who will let themselves be called a hero, and most will stop you if you say it and tell you kindly the real heroes are the ones who never came home. If you ask them, and if you ask me, what did you do to earn that medal you will most likely hear in response "I was just doing my job, like the other guys."

And so with a lofty medal for so-called heroism, I'll tell you about bravery by telling you about fear.

I remember the fear most when flying at night and engaging enemy anti-aircraft fire, mostly .51 caliber. When those tracers reached up out of the black they seemed to float slow until they raced by, glowing so big we called them basketballs, and no matter how wide they missed, they always looked like they would hit you right between the eyes. We called it the "pucker factor," so we could tell each other how bad it was that day or night, when the adrenaline rush flashed your skin instantly cold no matter how hot it was, made your mouth dry and your heart tried for a second to leap outside your chest and the cheeks of your butt grew a life of their own as they reached down and took a huge bite out of your seat. When we told a fellow pilot coming on station in a firefight while we returned to base to rearm-refuel "pucker factor seven" that is what we meant, with a max of 10. I told you all that to tell you this - amidst that kind of fear you continue to do your job, operating three radios at once, flying the aircraft and thinking ahead to the next manuever, lining up, aiming, firing rockets or miniguns or other weapons, taking great care to hit the enemy and not our brothers.

You might wonder how you would perform under those conditions - as new guys in the war we all wondered and obsessed with our wondering in private until the moment came, the first time doing our job under fire. We did fine, and each of you would do fine, too, because your training takes over with all the repetition of doing your job, and you know how importannt it is to cope with the fear because the consequences are great to our brothers on the ground if you do not.

The same applies if you are captured. When I was shot down in 1969 we went down hard, my back was broken, I was trapped in the wreckage with paralyzed legs, fuel was leaking all over, the turbine was still running and I was too weak to break through the canopy, panicking because I didn't want to burn and I wanted even less to be captured. I didn't think it through to the level of knowing the enemy would have killed me immediately rather than carry me, but I knew two things about being captured:

1. Our enemy hated cobra pilots - our weapons were so fearsome they called our aircraft the "whispering death." They had a special treat for cobra pilots - string up on a tree, skinned alive, testicles cut off and stuffed in mouth while you bled to death. Sometimes I wondered if that were really true until I encountered some of the enemy's brutality, then I believed the stories.

2. I knew I would not perform well as a POW because I have a serious weak spot - claustrophobia. Put me in a box and I am defeated in one minute. I would rather die than go in the box. Once the enemy discovered that about me I would be a complete failure as a POW. But please understand this. That failure on my part would mean I tried to hold out as long as I could, no matter how quickly I broke, and whatever I gave the enemy in breaking would be on my head. The fact that I could not help myself would not diminish the shame my actions brought on my country. If you will think that through rather than leap on my confession to use against me, maybe you will see the point. As POWs we have a duty to not become a tool of the enemy. If we do, we have failed, even if we tried to resist.

Many of us cobra pilots swore we would never be taken alive. We carried .38 pistols and we knew the only thing those little popguns were good for was shooting yourself if capture was imminent, but that was bold talk of 21 year olds over beer. Who knows whether we would have had the courage to do it if the time had come?

So, bottom line, would I personally measure up where the British soldiers failed so miserably? Probably not. If I failed to measure up to my own standards, would that invalidate the standards to restrict info to the enemy to name, rank, serial number and date of birth? No. The standard is not composed of what mistreatment each of us can absorb, and the example POWs I named are people I admire for their endurance under terrible conditions. I like to think I could survive much of that mistreatment . . .until they put me in a box, then I'm worthless.

Each of you is entitled to your opinion of the British captives and of me. When we differ, differing doesn't need to be hostile, but I've given you plenty of ammo here to blast me with if you wish.

PS: Two other cobra pilots broke all the rules when I was shot down, they landed, broke me out of the cockpit and stood guard with just pistols until the medevac arrived to haul my carcass to a hospital. Right after the CO chewed their butts for putting a cobra on the ground in an unsecure area so close to the enemy he awarded them the Soldier's Medal for saving lives. They both are more proud of that award than any other they received, maybe because amidst all the killing and dying I was one they were able to save. When I later thanked them for saving my skin they brushed it off by saying "Any of the other guys would have done the same thing." The remarkable thing is they were right, that's what we did for each other. And we expected much from each other, too, like behaving well if we were ever captured. I always worried about being captured and having my weakness discovered, and failing as a POW.

Terry Garlock

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Mixer's picture
Submitted by Mixer on Sat, 04/21/2007 - 8:34pm.

He's not my hero


Please help stop the genocide in Darfur

Enigma's picture
Submitted by Enigma on Sat, 04/21/2007 - 3:19pm.

Thanks Terry. I haven't heard the "Pucker Factor" so well discussed in years. I had my first sincere experience with the 'Pucker Factor' back in the middle of the desert (Desert Two) during operation Eagle Claw when Jimmy Carter was 'sending the lambs to slaughter'.

I was pulled from Hurlburt Field Florida, in the middle of the night, during an 'Exercise' (I believe it was 'Gallant Eagle') and from the time they issued weapons and ammo, gave us our shots, and we began a 14 hour flight, the 'pucker factor' steadily escalated. It culminated with about an 8 on the pucker scale.

Anyway, I think you know the rest of the story. At any rate, I sincerely want to say, thank you for your service and welcome home Terry.

As for the British, I can only say that their behavior is certainly NOT how we were trained to respond to capture in the ate 70's and early 80's. Perhaps the British have a different approach to handling POW status.

Since I am not SURE of what was expected of the Brits, I will reserve some condemnation; however, I must say, I thought it was very demoralizing for the western coalition forces. Not as bad as Harry Reid's comments- but demoralizing none the less.

Submitted by tgarlock on Sat, 04/21/2007 - 4:42pm.

. . . for your role in the Iran hostage rescue attempt if that is accurate. One of the guys who rescued me in Vietnam was flying on that mission, Graham Stevens. The disaster in the desert where the aircraft burned and the rescue was aborted has always bothered me, but not in the way most people think. The media, reliably wrong as usual, pinned the blame on President Jimmy Carter that the mission hit a fatal snag, and implied the competence of the military was questionable. Well, there was plenty to criticize President Carter for, but not the mishap in the desert. And if the media was looking for the truth instead of political appearances as they always do, they would have reported this mishap to the American people as an example of the mortal danger our armed forces accept on every mission we send them on, and there are never any guarantees of success. But hoping the media would report the truth is a bit too much.

Terry Garlock

Mixer's picture
Submitted by Mixer on Sat, 04/21/2007 - 8:36pm.


Please help stop the genocide in Darfur

Submitted by AtHomeGym on Sat, 04/21/2007 - 1:15pm.

I agree with Terry Garlock's comments on subject. I ask you: What would you think if the captives had been US and done the same thing? Shameful? Yes--I think it was. As a 42 year US Army Veteran (21 Active Duty, 21 US Army Civilian) I would be saddened to see TV appearances and written confessions and apologies by my comrades-in-arms--not specifically because it would contradict any training I may have received, but because deep down I WOULD INSTINCTIVELY KNOW IT WAS THE WRONG THING TO DO!! But let me say that I don't for one minute believe that most of those sailors and marines had one idea where they were in Iranian waters or not--they were involved in doing whatever job they had, not in navigating or maneuvering their ship or boat. But what they did by their actions, was to complicate their Country's dilemma and give Iran some ammunition to justify their actions. I suspect Margaret Thatcher would have been horrified. What would I have done? Can't say, but I would do my absolute best not to make concessions or statements that would embarrass my country.
Jim Sessoms, Fayetteville

AF A-10's picture
Submitted by AF A-10 on Fri, 04/20/2007 - 2:49pm.

I question your JUDGMENT in judging these Brits who's training you were not a part of, party to, or an authority on. Your story is a great read. It's what novels are made of. But YOUR story was not your subject. Your view of the Brit's story, written, produced, and directed by Tehran is the subject. Terry, you dragged these Brits through the mud unfairly, in my opinion. What should come of them Terry, in your opinion? Should they be shamed? Relieved of duty? Mocked? Not invited to reunions? What would you have the British public do to these young troops? Are there any redeeming qualities in them? Hopefully my letter will be published next week. Trust me, I left your daughter out of it. It is my hope that in the future you err on the side of the veteran, and give them the benefit of time and understanding. The Brits I've flown with have been brave, witty, and competent. I'd trust them as I'd trust a US pilot on my wing or at my lead.

Cheers Terry,

Kevin "Hack" King

Basmati's picture
Submitted by Basmati on Sun, 04/22/2007 - 10:05am.

Watching Brave Terry Garlock reflexively jangle his military medals in the faces of his critics reminds me of that episode of the Simpsons where Homer Simpson acts beligerent and foolish and then when people criticize him he points to a "Be Nice To Me - I Just Donated Blood" pin and his critics shrink away.

I don't begrudge Brave Terry Garlock his right to an opinion, although I do think it is exceptionally vulgar for one decorated Vietnam veteran to question the medals of another decorated Vietnam veteran, as Brave Terry Garlock did last year with his continual attacks on John Kerry.

Brave Terry Garlock has made some strong statements in his tenure as a Citizen columnist. He has called people who oppose the war treasonous (although somewhat strangely, Brave Terry Garlock does this somewhat obliquely, using the textbook definition of treason ("aid and comfort to the enemy") instead of using the actual word...perhaps there are indeed limits to Brave Terry Garlock's intestinal fortitude).

He has also opined that merely being born on American soil should not entitle a person to American citizenship. Sure, that's contrary to 200+ years of American history and yes, it makes you wonder why brave Terry Garlock hates America, but there is still that wonderful thing called the First Amendment that protects people like brave Terry Garlock who have opinions out there on the fringe of rational discourse.

Why bother to BAN troublemakers if you're just going to let them RE-REGISTER?

Submitted by tgarlock on Sun, 04/22/2007 - 6:04pm.

Despite the reek of your anonymous ridicule, Basmati, you halfway make a point on medals. What I was trying to say in a serious way is that medals don't matter much among those who fought together, in fact medals tend to separate us instead of bring us together, and the separation is often artificial since the awards process is so imperfect and sometimes frought with politics. I know a few guys who received medals who didn't deserve them, and many who deserved recognition they never received. In a column in this paper, maybe last year, I made that very point, including a comment about Skip Davis of Woodstock, still flying Hueys in the National Guard, who didn't receive or expect a medal when he was shot down 3 times in one day during the 1970 incursion into Cambodia and was lucky enough to be unhurt and picked up each time. What matters among us is not medals, what matters is the common virtue of our troops as they behave in an admirable manner doing their job under fire, taking extraordinary risks for each other, just like our troops today in Iraq. When vets of a war get together, they don't give a hoot who has what medal, what matters is they remind each other of the time when they were at their best, when they put their life on the line for each other, a process that binds for life.

Denise Conner's picture
Submitted by Denise Conner on Sun, 04/22/2007 - 5:19pm.

"Exceptionally vulgar"? Just precisely what do you mean?

-- Crudely indecent?

~ You'll have a hard time justifying that charge. You must be confusing reality with fantasy again. Watching too much of the dysfunctional TV characters The Simpsons, I suppose.

The overall philosophy of The Simpsons is nihilism: the rejection of all distinctions in moral or religious value and a willingness to repudiate all previous theories of morality or religious belief.

Basmati, you also express this same philosophy when you make comments such as, "With the exceptions of death, taxes and George W. Bush lying to the American people, there are no absolutes in the world."

Nihilism is a belief that destruction of existing political or social institutions is necessary for future improvement.

"Progressivism," I think "liberals" like to call it (actually libertine is a more accurate description).

Nihilism is also a delusional mental disorder.


-- Of or associated with the great masses of people; common?

-- Marked by a lack of good breeding; boorish?

~ There's that "liberal" tendency to be condescending to others who dare to express an opinion contrary to your own.

Is your favorite attire your "Everyone is Stupid Except Me" t-shirt?

~ From "Homer the Heretic," the episode where Homer stops going to church.


-- Offensively excessive in self-display or expenditure; ostentatious?

~ In Mr. Garlock's editorial opinion printed in The Citizen, "British Captives Shame the West," Mr. Garlock does not once mention his own military history.

He does, however, mention the admirable conduct of 3 POWs: Jim Warner, John McCain, & Jeremiah Denton.

In Mr. Garlock's blog responding to bloggers' comments about his column, he thanked those who had made kind comments about his military record. He also qualified his comments with the following:

"But of all the men and women I know who have been to war and faced the enemy, including many who were decorated for heroism, I don't know a single one who will let themselves be called a hero, and most will stop you if you say it and tell you kindly the real heroes are the ones who never came home."

"You might wonder how you would perform under those conditions - as new guys in the war we all wondered and obsessed with our wondering in private until the moment came, the first time doing our job under fire."

"I knew I would not perform well as a POW because I have a serious weak spot - claustrophobia."

"I always worried about being captured and having my weakness discovered, and failing as a POW."

~ Yes, those comments would definitely qualify as "exceptionally vulgar."

Bas, were you wearing your Simpsons t-shirt featuring Bart "Underachiever ('And proud of it, man!')" when you wrote your comments?


"There are no winners, only losers" is Bart Simpson's philosophy about war.

"It makes you wonder why [effete, calumnious Basmati] hates America" and those who have fought to protect his First Amendment right of free speech, doesn't it?

Terry Garlock signed his name to his comments; Basmati writes his malicious comments anonymously. Mr. Garlock served in Vietnam and was seriously wounded. I wonder who's truly brave?

RetiredArmyMAJ's picture
Submitted by RetiredArmyMAJ on Sun, 04/22/2007 - 12:16pm.

"I don't begrudge Brave Terry Garlock his right to an opinion" LIE
Banman, you HATE anyone who is not lock step wih your opinion and personally attack them.

Was it also "vulgar" for Dan Rather to fabricate documents concerning National Guard service? If Kerry was libeled, why didn't he sue? Oh that's righ, only his veterans are unimpeachable.

If I had to pick the fringe posterboy, it would be you and NOT Mr. Garlock.


Look up the Ammendment that granted "baorn citizenship and you will learn it is much younger than you state.

Passed by Congress June 13, 1866. Ratified July 9, 1868.

Note: Article I, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by section 2 of the 14th amendment.

Section 1.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

SUBJECT TO THE JURISDICTION THEREOF: Some may argue that being here legally would qualify for citizenship. People that broke the the LAW should not be rewarded.

Fighting for truth, justice and the American way, while ignoring the ignorant!

Basmati's picture
Submitted by Basmati on Sun, 04/22/2007 - 12:27pm.

Ah, speaking of people that hide behind their medals, along comes the Man Without Honor™, RetiredArmyMajorRetired to grace us with his daily dose of hate speech.
Why bother to BAN troublemakers if you're just going to let them RE-REGISTER?

RetiredArmyMAJ's picture
Submitted by RetiredArmyMAJ on Sun, 04/22/2007 - 12:37pm.

That was up with, "I know you are, but what am I".

In a battle of wits you are an unarmed opponent.

I will now IGNORE any more post, lest I lower myself to your level.


I notice you never actually answer a question. Deflection is an interesting tactic.

Fighting for truth, justice and the American way, while ignoring the ignorant!

Basmati's picture
Submitted by Basmati on Sun, 04/22/2007 - 1:24pm.

An unarmed opponent? Pshaw. Your limited debates skills led to you getting banned here a few weeks back, Man Without Honor™.

I answered your libel question the last time you asked it, Man Without Honor™. You just babble your same little questions over and over and imagine yourself to be quite witty.

Have you been clipping out articles about Cho Seung to show your boy how a REAL Second Amendment supporter acts?
Why bother to BAN troublemakers if you're just going to let them RE-REGISTER?

Mixer's picture
Submitted by Mixer on Sun, 04/22/2007 - 7:44pm.

I apologize in advance. I do not wish to lecture you or to offend you but you have offended me, several times, and I wish to say so.

Please help me understand why you would talk about someone's children and belittle people you don't even know? (While posting a ribbon for Virginia Tech) you use a massacre and a national tragedy to personally attack the children or the Retired Army Major. In just this string, you are blasting two veterans who are just as entitled to their opinion as you are of yours (and maybe more so in some circles).

The problem is, you really don't say anything or argue any positions you just make a statement (or cut ands paste another person's blog) and then personally attack people that attempt to argue an alternate position. I see that you and Kevin King are usually in agreement but the list of people you personally attack is virtually everyone else on the site but him. Comparing a person’s child to a mass murder is a little beyond ‘over the top’ and I resent your crassness and lack of civility.

You and Denise had a few good exchanges and then you began to attack her as well. You seem to be relatively articulate for a teenager, but your youth is showing in your immature behavior.

I guess what I really want to say is, your current and past blogs contain numerous attacks on people and primarily on veterans. Is there something you need to say to all of us (about your disdain for all things military) that can help us to understand you?

Your volatility and emotional instability scare me.


Please help stop the genocide in Darfur

Denise Conner's picture
Submitted by Denise Conner on Mon, 04/23/2007 - 7:02am.

Mixer, well said!

I guess that you've looked at Basmati's blog postings to see just how "nice" he really is.

In "A Tale of Two Orchestras" he says that his kid is in the advanced orchestra class at McIntosh High School.

I don't think that his immaturity stems from his youth. Smiling

In his "Muddled message" reply, he relates this story:

"Let me give you an example of the effectiveness of 'abstinence only' education: I recently was talking to a very upset sixth grade girl. She was trying her best to keep her composure, but broke down sobbing in tears. What's the matter, I asked gently. She was panicking about her divorced mother 'Mom...Mom has AIDS!' Oh dear Lord, how horrible! I replied. When did you find out, sweetie? 'Just last weekend, I heard a noise downstairs and when I went to the top of the stairs I saw my Mom having sex with her boyfriend!' Wait a minute, I said, how does this mean she has AIDS? She gave me a withering scornful look and said calmly and slowly "She's...NOT....MARRIED!"

That poor kid had it drummed into her head that 'sex outside of marriage = AIDS'. [sic]"


I just recently came across this "story," & did it ever raise quite a few questions.

Was this 11-year-old girl a stranger? He in no way indicates that she's family.

How did Bas just happen to be around when this girl was so upset?

Why was a young girl so comfortable talking with a male about this subject? Perhaps Bas is really female and a compassionate listener?

Did Mr. Bas talk to the girl's mother about this?

Did he talk to the school counselor?

Did he try to find out what is really taught at her school?

What kind of answer did he give to this "sobbing in tears" "panicking" girl who the next minute is "calm" and "scornful"?

Are these mood extremes indicative of emotional problems?

There might have been a lot more to the girl's story than she was telling, and she needed someone other than Bas as a confidant(e).

Notice that Bas doesn't seem to be too concerned about the scene that the girl witnessed (or her possible lack of safety from the boyfriend) or her very likely distortion of the information that she'd received in school. He rejoices in having an example to fight abstinence education.

Something just doesn't seem right with this story.

Submitted by dollaradayandfound on Fri, 04/20/2007 - 3:36pm.

Most of what you say is good to me, except your dogged defense of mistakes just because they are members of a military, or of any, group for that matter.
Although some people would expect our soldiers to go down shooting, and be brutally tortured before they say anything to the enemy, dieing in a lost cause, mistake in planning or not, and holding out in interrogation until the last moment has never acomplished anything. We lost those old fashioned ideas as failures in Viet Nam and Korea and with the Butcher ship incident.
They should have said man, I just work here--had no idea where we were and was just riding the boat.

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