Bend In The Branch

The personal opinions of one among many.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Beans to Redeploy

Beans, beloved adopted Marine mascot, is scheduled to arrive at the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment headquarters in the very near future.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Priceless, Indeed

There's a motley gang of guys and girls (and the occasional nomadic canine or camel) in a desert land, far away. Quite by happenstance, I have found myself acquainted with more than one member of that motley gang during the past year.

I have been blessed by each and every acquaintance.

In a day and time when subjectiveness has become the norm, through them, I witness the reality of men and women who leave their homes, families, friends, and all they hold dear to help others bound by tyranny and terror; I witness the spirit-the very essence-of morals I struggle to epitomize, and I am affirmed that these traits survive.

Though they may not be declared prominently in a headline or featured as a breaking network news story, they survive and they exist just as surely as you and I do...just as surely as the word Priceless scrawled in the "Value" column of a Customs Declarations form attached to a box containing Flags I received today does.

Say a prayer of thanks for My Gang tonight, and for all like them.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Gettin' all Southern

What is she grinnin' about?

I suppose we'd all like for a big, strong man to sweep us off our feet and take us away, in the same manner as Rhett saved Scarlett from Atlanta's fiery fall to the Yankees.

Bein' swept off to jail however, is another matter all together, and I can't find one reason to grin about it.

I reckon I done lost all my sensibilities where that woman is concerned. She "just ain't right".

In Memory

Sgt. Joseph Derrick

Welcome Home

Charlie Battery!

Monday Mutt Shot


Saturday, September 24, 2005

Monitoring Gas Prices

Reports of suspected price gouging can made by following the links

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Sixteen years ago, I was barely, well let's just say I was a lot younger than I am now and, having recently escaped the parental bonds, I believed myself far wiser than I was at the time.

I have always been the most stubborn of my parents' brood. I remember finally, yet begrudgingly, relenting to repeated requests for me to come home that day.

I remember waking from a deep sleep to flashes of light that deceived my mind into believing the house was on fire.

There was eerie silence and darkness. The usual sounds of occasional traffic, night fowl, barking dogs, and the hum of street lights were missing. No shadows were cast from the moon, stars, or anything other than the flashlight emitting flame-like reflections that Daddy, who assured me all was well, carried.

Comforted by his assurances, I returned to the deep slumber of the ignorant.

With morning came the devastation of Hurricane Hugo.

Homes were destroyed, lives were lost, communication with any not in shouting distance was almost impossible, and even the most basic of needs could not be met.

Country boys can survive...and my Daddy is a "Country Boy".

Vegetables from gardens and meat from hunts stored in a rapidly defrosting freezer were cooked on a grill and cooker made from an old, metal milk crate and shared with the hungry. Precious gas was burned only to travel to the family farm to fill buckets, coolers, trash cans, and containers too numerous to describe with fresh water pumped by hand from a well for all.

The memories of those days (weeks) have remained constant. They were with me during the years I volunteered (albeit forcibly as a state employee) for the Red Cross and offered comfort to those who'd fled without knowing they'd have a home to return to, they have been with me during every threatening storm since, and they are with me now.

Please pray that those in the path of Hurricane Rita have at least one, like my Daddy, to watch over them.

Long Awaited

Welcome Home!

You were missed and all are grateful for you.

Separated is not Divorced

but the two are sometimes confused.

Ignorance of the law excuses no man: Not that all men know the law, but because 'tis an excuse every man will plead, and no man can tell how to refute him. -John Selden, English antiquarian & jurist (1584 - 1654)

Gas Prices

Morning (left) vs. Afternoon (right)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


In honor of National Dog Week, a post in addition to the regular Monday Mutt Shot.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Sunken Treasure

A B-25 Bomber that crashed into the lake while on a training mission in 1945 is being raised.

Live Feed:

Or: SCE&G Lake Murray Webcam

Updated: All indications are the plane will be raised before 11:00 p.m. tonight

The First Time

I remember being barely 18 when I Voted for the first time.

Imagine being 68, unable to read, and only recently returned home after having fled for your life.

Clutching his voter ID on Sunday, Abdullah Jan, a frail 68-year-old man with sun-beaten skin and a thick gray beard, voted for the first time.

In the shadow of Khost's main mosque, he dipped his right index finger in purple ink to show that he had voted and took his four-page ballot to a cardboard booth. As he reviewed the ballot, Jan tugged on his beard and furrowed his brow in frustration. Like almost 85 percent of Afghans, he is illiterate. To help voters, the ballots included pictures of the candidates or symbols - such as a telephone or three camels - to represent them.

When he finished, Jan folded the ballot into a tight square and stuffed it into a ballot box bulging with paper.

Jan missed last year's presidential vote because he was living in a refugee camp in Pakistan. He returned to Afghanistan two months ago and works as a mason to support the 22 people in his family.

"I am old and don't know how long I will be alive. I hope to do some good for my country," Jan said in Pashto through a translator.



Sometimes a penny in the slot; sometimes a dime; more often than not empty. Never, ever with tassels; always worn beyond repair.

The Weejun

Monday Mutt Shot

Morning Watch

Sunday, September 18, 2005

"Democracy Means Freedom"

For many here where the Taliban once stifled all criticism and dissent, the chance simply to have a say is enough.

"Before, there was no democracy, now there is democracy," says 36-year-old Mohammed Twahir, who sells cold drinks from a roadside stall, after voting. "Democracy means freedom."

Yahoo! News Link

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Yard Work : The Kid's Way

Debris Collection Apparatus

Mandatory Break


of the Marshmallows

Thursday, September 15, 2005

A Shining Example

Bad things happen...

Some wallow in self-righteousness and hold out a demanding hand.

Others pick themselves up, brush off, and strive for betterment.

Sonic manager Sam McLeod says he’s not only amazed with her skating abilities, but her work ethic and drive to succeed in trying times.

“It’s impressive. You know, a lot of people would just sit back and wait for aid. She seemed to just get a job and start working,” McLeod said.

While Dufrene knows the future will likely have many bumps in the road, she says her job will help her ‘roll’ with whatever lies ahead.

Hurricanes in no Hurry

cause great damage.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Hurricane Ophelia sits, pounding the coast with rain and wind, while we wait.

Choices Made, Chances Wasted




Not my idea of a vacation.


Hurricane once more, her presence was felt before the first bands of rain were when gas prices as high as $3.25 per gallon for regular were posted along I95 and a major evacuation route this morning, presumably in response to the call for voluntary evacuations of the coast and low-lying areas.

Wisdom seems to have prevailed, however, and gas prices were lowered this afternoon.

Wind speeds are gradually increasing and sporadic drops fall.

WBTW, WLTX, WISTV, and MyrtleBeachOnline offer continuing coverage.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Monday Mutt Shot

Puppy Love

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Flag

A Gift From the Heart that I will treasure always.

...We had a memorial service today to commemorate the significance of 9/11. We had a short ceremony in which those who died on that day were honored and remembered.

...The flag you see flying is yours. ***** will have it taken down tomorrow morning and it will be given to me so that I can send it to you...

"Sure I wave the American flag. Do you know a better flag to wave?" John Wayne

Somehow, it seems fitting that she found a breeze and unfurled before the others today.

September 11

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Once a Neighbor

Always a Neighbor.

The Possum Police

SC Game Wardens aid in Hurricane Katrina rescue and recovery.


Staff Sgt. Jeremy Belt, left, his wife, Angela, right, and sons, from left, Steven, 6, Jonathan, 10, and Brendan, 8, embrace after Jeremy Belt stepped off a jet carrying about 75 airmen who returned home Thursday evening from serving overseas.

"The other half of my heart is coming home tonight," Angela Belt said.

Welcome Home to Shaw's 20th Civil Engineering Squadron!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Brewing More than Beer

Even before Hurricane Katrina made landfall,Anheuser-Bush Co.s, Inc. began producing canned drinking water to aid in relief efforts.

To-date, the companies have provided more than four million cans.

They continue to produce the much-needed canned drinking water, shipping it to wholesalers in the regions affected by Hurricane Katrina for distribution by relief agencies.

Compassion not Concealed by Camouflage

Airborne Angels

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

A Gift from the Heart

A few words, tokens, or simple reminders of home often mean so much more than we can imagine; perhaps more than I could imagine, until yesterday, when I read an e-mail containing the following message:

...We just don’t know how to thank you...Actually, we have thought of something special we want to do. On 11 Sep we are going to fly a US flag over our compound that will be your flag...

I am overwhelmed, so very honored and if not for the certainty that great thought and planning were involved in securing this gift from the hearts of a few who should give no more, would ask that the gift be bestowed on one more deserving than I.

I am profoundly grateful.


Roy Hallums has been rescued.


All of the kid's hopes for school closures due to fuel shortages have been dashed.

Hickory Wind

In South Carolina there are many tall pines
I remember the oak tree that we used to climb
But now when I'm lonesome, I always pretend
That I'm getting the feel of hickory wind

I started out younger at most everything
All the riches and pleasures, what else could life bring?
But it makes me feel better each time it begins
Callin' me home, hickory wind

It's hard to find out that trouble is real
In a far away city, with a far away feel
But it makes me feel better each time it begins
Callin' me home, hickory wind

Keeps callin' me home, hickory wind

-Gram Parsons and Bob Buchanon

South Carolina opens her door to all...including Boogie:

Glenn Haydel brought along his 18-month-old dachshund Boogie.

In part, it was his reluctance to leave his pet that led he and his wife to remain on an island near New Orleans despite being cut off.

“Nothing works in the city. Absolutely nothing,” he said.

Haydel said they finally decided to take a chance and agreed to be airlifted out this morning and were pleasantly surprised when they were allowed to bring along the dog.

“We just got lucky. It’s been a rather taxing effort, lots of anxiety.”

Upon their arrival in Columbia, Lexington County authorities took the dog to a shelter to have it examined and then returned it to its owners about four hours later with a Carolina Gamecock leash attached.

“Wonderful, wonderful,” Haydel said. “He’s my buddy.”


Kids for Katrina

Heartwarming tales of lemonade stands and pilfered piggy banks bolster faith in future generations.

Turning the Power On

Encouraging news and a reminder of the goodness that still exists in the worst of circumstances:

...Black River was one of thousands of utility crews from two dozen states that raced south to relieve overwhelmed local crews, who are quickly running out of their own materials, in the aftermath of the killer storm. Some local power crews are using transformers that "don't quite fit," just to make sure customers get electricity as quickly as possible.

This particular Sumter crew arrived in the Gulf Coast region on Thursday afternoon, first helping to restore power in and around Baldwin, Ala., before working their way into the Gulfport, Miss., area on Monday. The work day begins at 5:30 a.m. and quitting time is usually 16 hours later. For the first few days, the men found sleep in their trucks or sodden, hot hotel rooms with no electricity.

...But despite the steadily rising death toll in Mississippi and the thousands left homeless, Black River crews said residents have been "some of the nicest people we've ever met."

"They are so thankful ... they'll stop by, bringing two to three gallons of water, ice, many ask us if we're hungry, if they can feed us," Hendrix said. "We've had a lot of people just stop by and say, 'Thank you ... we're glad you're here.'"


Tuesday, September 06, 2005


"'No man,' said one of the Greeks, 'loves his city because it is great, but because it is his.' A man who really loves his country will love her in her ruin and degeneration-"

C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

We are fortunate to have such men and women.

An Air Force chaplain was overheard in the wee hours of Sunday telling a distraught young airman, “But you are bringing these people hope.”


Monday, September 05, 2005

Monday Mutt Shot

How to Get People Food, Step 3: Be Pitiful

Always Ready

Before Hurricane Katrina made landfall, preparations were made.

Rescue services began immediately, have been continuous, and many lives have beenhave been saved thanks to the men and women of the US Coast Guard.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Courage Defined

Spc. Ramon Guitard

Saturday, September 03, 2005

...goin' to Carolina

Dark and silent late last night, I think I might have heard the highway calling.
Geese in flight and dogs that bite.
And signs that might be omens say I'm going, going, going to Carolina in my mind.
With a holy host of others standing round me, still I'm on the dark side of the moon.
And it seems like it goes on like this forever, you must forgive me
if I'm up and in my mind I'm going to Carolina,
can't you see the sunshine can't you just feel the moonshine?
Ain't it just like a friend of mine to hit me from behind? Yes, I'm going to Carolina in my mind.
In my mind I'm going to Carolina. Can't you see the sunshine, can't you just feel the moonshine?Ain't it just like a friend of mine to hit me from behind? Yes, I'm going to Carolina in my mind.
Gotta make it back home again soon, gotta make it back on home again soon,
gotta make it back to Carolina soon, can't hang around, no babe, gotta make it back home again,
gotta make it back to Carolina soon...

James Taylor, "Carolina in my Mind"

They found their way to Interstate 90, backtracked to Lafayette, then turned northeast to Baton Rouge and Mississippi. At a rest stop they met up with the Rev. Michael Melon, pastor of a New Orleans church.

“Pastor Mike” had helped a group of people fleeing the city but needed to get to his family in Greenville, S.C.; they needed someone to guide them to South Carolina.

“God sent that man to us,” Tonya Hollerman said. “He was our angel.” He calmed Yashika Hollerman’s nerves and prayed with them.

And they put their hopes in the hospitality of the Palmetto State and a sister here, "When I see that sign that says South Carolina, I just said, I was free. I was free."

Friday, September 02, 2005


"Everywhere we've gone, everybody's out of gas," said Sue Phillips of North Myrtle Beach, who was waiting in a line six or seven cars long to get to the pump at Sav-Way on South Irby Street...

Phillips said $2.79 a gallon was the cheapest she'd seen it since filling up for $2.49 a gallon Wednesday in North Myrtle Beach. (Emphasis Mine)

She'd heard one station there was selling gasoline for $3.36 a gallon, she said. In fact, her husband drove a golf cart to work Thursday morning because the prices were so high, she said. (Emphasis Mine)

She filled her vehicle's gas tank Wednesday, her husband drove a golf cart to work Thursday to conserve gas, and she drove 78.69 miles to purchase even more gas Thursday???

When Emotions Rule, Chaos Ensues

During what seems likes another lifetime, I worked for a not-to-be-disclosed state agency.

One of the duties of the job required that I be available to provide aid to victims of disasters.

I've placed my child in the capable hands of family members far away from the threat of harm. I've left my own home, not knowing if it would be there when I returned.

I've seen those who lived paycheck to paycheck and fled their homes with only the will to survive.

I've seen those who have no one to care for them.

I've seen those who have only the means to support a meager existence in the best of circumstances.

I've also seen greed, maliciousness and the other ill effects to the normal conscience wrought by immanent threats of danger.

During times such as these, we can not allow our emotions to rule, we must not be selfish, we must band together and take care of our own.