Did the groundhog manage to find any dry ground on which
to walk as he climbed out on Saturday in our hometown to survey weather before
the advent of spring? February 1 ushered in a cold day, about 18 degrees, but
the forecast is for normal temperatures.
In late January I bumped into many interesting people and
will be the trail of a few more stories to share. During a recent visit to Dr.
Kurt Steele, while seated a man a few years older chatted with me. Pedro
Norton, 75, was raised at Long Creek and later moved to Bridgeport. But since
1976 he and his wife, Betty, have lived in Chestnut Hill where he also served
as a constable. She was at the doctor's office because of a scratch to her left
eye. I recall that it was an icy time and Pedro had fallen near his dog lot
because of the wet uncertain ground. The result? "I tore my pride,"
Good luck to Airman Bockmann!
There is meaning in mission
Before wandering along on my weekly journey, let me finish
up our chat with Lt. John Bockmann, who is married to the former Katherine
Kisabeth, her mother being the former Brenda Bailey of Bybee. If you are like
me, visiting Town & Country Drug Store, you know her as pharmacist Marty
Bailey's sister. In 2011, John was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the
Army's Medical Service Corps, as an aeromedical evacuation officer (MEDEVAC).
Now, he has not been deployed as a MEDEVAC pilot yet but most likely soon
transport Army medics to pickup wounded soldiers and civilians to transport to
the nearest medical facilities. I thought it impressive the Army MEDEVAC
mission has a 92 percent survival rate for those wounded. The Black Hawk
helicopters are marked with the iconic Red Cross for whatever message and
protection it provides. While these aircraft have no weaponry they do have
protective armor and devices to thwart enemy missiles. This is in accord with
the Geneva Convention.
"Do they shoot at you?" asked Steve Eldridge at
a recent Newport Kiwanis Club meeting. "You bet. They don't follow the
Geneva Convention," said Lt. Bockmann. Early this year, Lt. Bockmann
travels to Afghanistan to continue his mercy missions. "As much as we
MEDEVAC pilots love to fly and find meaning in our mission, we hope our services
won't be needed."
After his tour, he expects to return to Ft. Bliss, Texas,
to continue training and be ready for his next mission and journey. The next
wounded solider he flies might be a Tennessean; he or she might be someone you
know and love.
A family that runs well
You've seen a photo in the Plain Talk last spring showing
a couple of women chugging up hill near Subway Restaurant, Cosby Hwy., in the
rain. Lydia Shelton and Ann Ward are running partners and that's important when
you are training to run a marathon of 26-plus miles. Later in the year I
discovered that the entire Shelton family are now runners and there are other
marathoners. "The kids" were the motivators for Lydia, and then the
running clan convinced Lydia's husband, Larry Shelton to join the circuit. It
seemed like an interesting story so last fall we met at Newport City Park where
they were doing a long weekend run bundled up against the cold. You have had
several points of contact with the family because Lydia is a long-time employee
at Cocke County Clerk Janice Butler's office. And, Larry, better known as
"Yogi" has worked with many of you at local plants and part-time at
Newport Walmart so let me tell you a little more about the family and about
their running ways.
Yogi grew up in Newport the son of Arthur and Mary Ann
Shelton in Northport. You are going back to a time when Henry Gregory's mother
was Northport principal. You know
Arthur as the "Mayor of Northport." Their other children are son,
retired military Mike "Oilhead" Shelton, and daughter, Janet Newbill.
She is a music teacher in Memphis. Mike has written some columns for the Plain
Talk and that's how I got to know him. Those who know the family may have been
friends with the other child, the late Tommy Shelton, who died in 1994.
Yogi has always loved playing baseball and was one of
Coach "Pappy" Darrell Crowe's varsity ballplayers. Larry got the
nickname from being called "Larry Bear" and then just Yogi at third
base. He graduated in 1971 but continued to coach and officiate baseball. When
we talked he was wearing a black coat with White Sox logos, his favorite team.
He admits to being a baseball fanatic and for the past 18 years is affiliated
with TSSAA. His appreciation of the White Sox major leaguers may have
influenced because as a youngster he played Little League ball at City Park for
the little White Sox. Arthur Shelton and R.J. Tucker were his coaches and later
Scott Gorrell's father coached too.