Monday, November 20, 2017

Saint Joseph, Patron Saint of Happy Passing and "Minds of Men"

As you can see, this isn't only about St. Joseph. It's also about the book "Minds of Men," written by the amazing KC Ezell.

Amazing, you say?
Yes, amazing.

She flew helicopters in places where it mattered, and that speaks to my medic bones. My first company commander was a First Lieutenant who flew medevacs in Viet Nam, and drove a white Corvette, and had a gorgeous wife, and that sort of sets the stage for the way I feel about chopper pilots. (Umm...on the other hand, I also knew a staff sergeant, a former warrant officer chopper pilot in Viet Nam, who had more rows of medals than I could count;  he was as ugly and as pleasant as my next-to-last dog. YMMV.)

Her stories grasp the nature of being, and service, and I guess all that comes natural;  and what doesn't is something you learn when you are driving a truck through the air with the tracers reaching up for you, looking for the green smoke at the LZ and yelling for your crew chief to turn off those ***ing alarms because you are only going to bounce once, and we'll fix it when we get home.

I first met her as a character in John Ringo's series 'Paladin of Shadows,' only later discovering THAT person was based on a REAL one. Then, I read her work.

She writes stories of cheerleaders who carry guns, and are determined to have a life that matters.
She writes stories of terrifying choices, where there is NO good outcome, and it just doesn't seem clear where your path vanished.

How glad I am, to be well past the fires of youth, else I would SURELY have a crush on her; and she is married with two daughters. As it is, I look fondly and with pride on her, as one of my favorite children/grandchildren/Loyal Companions.

"Minds of Men" is Book One in the series 'The Psyche of War,' and it addresses the role played in warfare by women who have the ability to communicate telepathically. It's set in World War II, at a time when bombers launching from England to strike military and industrial targets had to manage their own defense, since there was no long-range fighter support available.

As a result, they took some terrible losses. Imagine flying straight and level during a bomb run, while flak and German fighters swarm the flight path: that's the sort of thing that the WWII B-17 crews experienced at this stage of the war. The first mission in the book reports the loss of 17 out of 30 B-17 bombers on a single mission.

And then a miracle happened.

Y'all ain't gonna BELIEVE this, but: General Durant, the United States Army Air Force commander, is personally acquainted with the as-yet-not-public ability of certain women to communicate via telepathy. His wife is one of the ladies with that ability. The amount of institutional resistance that is thus avoided, is enough to permit the introduction of selected women with psychic abilities into the crews of many of the bombers still targeting the German war effort.

Evelyn Adamsen (Evie) is one of those women.

The story follows her through her introduction to the crew, and their immediate mission the next day. Her ability to reach into the thoughts of the crew is instrumental in gaining their acceptance, as is the practical value of her efforts while in the air. Bombing accuracy is increased, and she is able to to act as a sort of psychic medic when a crewman is wounded. (Speaking as a former medic: the FIRST thing you tell a wounded person is that they are going to be okay. Say that directly into someone's head? Any medic would give a body part to be able to do that.)

And the crew continues to fight the war, with Evie a full member of the team.

The bad guys have psychic women, too, although they use them differently. Not having read the book, they are unaware that they ARE the bad guys, a valuable trait when fighting a war.

German psychic Adalina Sucherin (Lina) serves as an interrogator, and is usually able to gain necessary information without resorting to the more brutal techniques advocated by her superiors. Driven to seek revenge on Allied forces by the loss of her family during a bombing raid, she welcomes the opportunity to serve alongside soldiers with a similar history. They form a specialized hunter-killer team, seeking out downed Allied airmen.

Evie and Lina's paths cross.

The book does NOT end with a cliffhanger; HOWEVER, it does include the promise of more to come, and some bits of that are even now in the process of being delivered.

And one of those bits is a short story I've been given the privilege to preview. I'm not sure it's up yet, but I will add the link and a synopsis when it's available. Until then, some backstory:

Joseph the carpenter, husband of Mary, and the earthly father of Jesus, has (at least) a double role as a saint. First, he is the patron saint of workers, which is entirely appropriate, since he was a skilled tradesman.

Secondly, he is the patron saint of happy passings. To clarify, 'passing' is a euphemism for dying; I don't know if it's a term Yankees are familiar with, but down South, when my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant, foxy, praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA, references the death of someone, she says 'they passed.' So there's that.

Now: the 'happy' part. Joseph is not referenced in the New Testament after Jesus was 12 years old, when he went missing for three days in Jerusalem (Luke 2:41-52). Though we aren't given any specifics, the traditional interpretation is that Joseph died in the 18 years between that event and the beginning of Jesus' public ministry. The not-unreasonable assumption is made that when Joseph passed, he did so in the presence of Jesus and Mary.

Although my church tradition is sadly missing almost all of the appropriate honor due to Mary (an unfortunate side effect of the Protestant Reformation), I am yet capable of seeing what a fine thing that might be: to have your transition between this existence and the next witnessed and eased by the divine Son of God and His mother! Thus, the role of Saint Joseph as the patron saint of Happy Passings makes perfect sense to me.

And it is in this role that he is featured in the soon-to-be-released story in "The Psyche of War" series. It's a lovely story, and it has that distinctive KC Ezell touch of a nightmare reality which can only be endured by a firm grip on the transcendent. You MUST take advantage of her offer to provide the story to people who sign up for her mailing list! It will NOT be an onerous task, and the story is an item of high value.

Final note:
Ezell is pleased, but somewhat surprised, that I 'get' her work, and that I am such a fan. For that, I offer some Kipling and a picture, and an explanation.

The Kipling (from memory):

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains,
And go to your God like a soldier!

And the picture:
SGT Eli Jordan Patterson, USA (Ret)
Picture taken April 2015

And the explanation

This is my first-born son. When he was wounded in Afghanistan in 2013, he was not left on the plains for the women to cut up.

Instead, KC Ezell flew a medevac mission, scooped him up, and took him for treatment; and when it was clear that he was broken, she flew him to the US Hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, and later flew him home.

Now, it was NOT KC herself, in person, that flew those missions, but that's because she wasn't on that particular duty roster that particular day. But it might very well have been her.

And whether it's hauling beans, bullets, or broken bodies, the guys with boots on the ground DEPEND on flyboys and flygrrrls, in order to accomplish their mission.

And KC stepped up, and said "I can do that."

Mechanics, avionics techs, medics, radiomen, cooks and clerks and the Sergeant-Major's band. Remember them on Friday, and wear RED: Remember Everyone Deployed, until they all come home.

Peace be on your household.

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