Monday, October 28, 2019

Jason Carter Finn


Twenty-five-year-old Jason Carter Finn doesn’t have a clue about his random CIA missions that have no obvious relationship to his primary job. He’s been recruited as a document translator after his graduation from Oregon State University.

Neither does he have a clue that he has fallen in love with an agent he believes to be working for Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Eventually, he tires of the lack of real social interaction in the covert lifestyle of the CIA and resigns.

Finn becomes aware of a double meaning for decoy after his grandfather dies. Then he gets a life changing text message with a meaning only to him and the sender.

Nescient Decoy is available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Best Advice I’ve Ever Heard included my contribution “Good, Very Good, Best”.


High school was difficult for me in the mid-1950s. My high school counselor told me that college wasn’t in my future. I would graduate in the middle of my class. And we were poor—my widowed mother often stretched a half-pound of hamburger to feed seven kids. He concluded our pre-graduation meeting with, “Benson, I believe the military would be a good fit for you.” 

I did well in the Army, and my electronics training was a foundation for later things. The counselor’s advice was good, but it wasn’t the best advice I’ve ever heard.
   My work in the Army qualified me for a manufacturing job with a small company in Minnesota. It was a low-paying position, but any job to support my wife and three kids during a Midwest winter was a good job.

The agency I’d been with in the Army recruited me to return to Virginia for an unposted civilian job. The government salary wasn’t significantly higher, but health benefits and other perks gave me the incentive to accept the offer.

However, I still needed a part-time job to support my family once we settled in.
So, I worked evenings and some weekends as a clerk at one of the stores in a rapidly expanding drugstore chain. After less than a year, I was recruited into the company’s management program. Compensation in the training program was equal to government employment, so with the expectation of advancement, I changed jobs. Leadership skills I’d learned in the Army were a personal asset in my new occupation.

The day I was promoted from trainee to assistant manager, my district manager said, “You’re moving up faster than most, but remember this—while climbing the ladder of success, you might have to climb back down someday. In other words, always treat those you supervise with respect and fairness.” His advice was very good, but still not the best advice I’ve ever heard.

We were spending a summer afternoon with friends from church, and our conversation turned to our work and the future. Our friends were preparing to move back to their home state, where they were both certified to teach. My friend Lyle asked about my own work and what might be ahead for me.

I told Lyle that my previous boss, who had recruited and promoted me to manager, was moving up to the corporate office. He told me I was on the fast track for supervising one of the new districts. The increased pay and responsibility seemed like a good incentive to accept the position, but I lamented that the working hours and traveling time would increase.

When Lyle asked what I’d really like to do, I told him, “Teach.” I explained that my favorite job had been teaching operation and field maintenance of communications equipment to U.S. embassy personnel when I was in the Army.

He asked if I had a teaching degree, and I told him I had taken only a few college classes. When he suggested that I could enroll and maybe transfer my previously earned credits, I said, “I’m nearly thirty-three, with house payments and a family to support. Do you know how old I’d be if I went to college now?”

He countered, “How old will you be if you don’t go?” That was the best advice I’ve ever heard.

Three years later, I graduated with a teaching degree and started a satisfying thirty-five-year career as an education professional. I retired from teaching with an advanced degree, and now I can afford hamburger.

My high school counselor’s good advice was helpful. My district manager’s very good advice was practical. But the best advice I’ve ever heard, my friend’s question, was life changing.













Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Before Grandpa was Thirteen


One grandkid said, “I’ve heard that one at least once Grandpa, but you should write it down in case you or one of us forgets what you said.”

Actual memories of things that happened ‘way-back’ in the 1940s are difficult for me to recall with any measure of precision. These short stories about when I was young are true or nearly true. Some have been modified to protect the guilty (me) or embellished a little to fill in details that may have been or could have been.

Parts of my stories might be thoroughly debunked by the questioning of witnesses if they could be found or are willing to testify against themselves or me.
If you weren’t there, what difference does it make? After all, these are just my stories, not testimony under oath in court or in a congressional hearing.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

The last words

The last paragraph of my book Echoes of Nam is: Gore concluded, “I can’t be offended by Annie’s statement about my physical appearance. What you see is only what you get on the outside. I fully understand anything that triggers a nightmare must be considered, and if at all possible avoided. We who were there and know that Vietnam won’t be over for many of my generation until their bodies are dead, understand the most. I’ve never met a man or woman or their family who wasn’t mentally, emotionally or physically changed by his or her Vietnam combat or even non-combat experience. By the grace of God, my triggers have been reduced, but I still have echoes of Nam.”

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Thanks

Thanks for the encouragement from my writing group and to two of my brothers and a friend, veterans all, who commented on my book Echoes of Nam after it was published.

I just finished Echoes of Nam - found it to be enticing, i.e. couldn't put my Kindle down. Although touted as fiction, I sense that there were interviews of a few 'Nam vets who had stories to tell but lacked the wherewithal to formulate a book with several stories tied together. The weaving of various security agencies activities through the book evokes the imagination of readers who have no idea as to what goes on behind closed doors, much less the Faraday cages. I've known just a few people who served in 'Nam - am sure that many of them could fully understand the loss of memory. Quite glad that I was too young for Korea and too old for 'Nam service. Hey bro' very good job with this book.
LABenson

Even though a work of fiction, in ECHOES OF NAM, John Benson does a superb job in articulating the mental and physical pain, confusion and suffering that many survivors of war deal with daily. Even as a combat vet, this story has affected the way I look at homelessness among veterans. While the V.A. has come a long way in dealing with PTSD and other disorders facing our soldiers, sadly there are many who still "slip through the cracks." For that reason alone, this could be a true story.
Ray LePoidevin

Thank you for sharing your latest work. Echoes of Nam has me thinking about the impact of Military/Government Service on individual and family life. What makes this compelling story fascinating is the very real confusing, frustrating, physical and mental strength required to navigate the VA system and civilian world experienced by Brax and Wosk. They were victims of multiple trauma without benefit of mental resources. Many Veterans, in spite of apparent mental capacity, revisit the source of their trauma daily and nightly without let up.
Ron Benson

And, thanks to pre-readers who wrote constructive criticism in its early drafts, and said:
The characters seem real. My favorite is Annemarie. As far as I’ve read so far there is a Christian thread but it is not preachy.
N.O.
You have woven a fascinating story with a wonderful twist. I love those kind of stories. You have built the locations and characters rich and full so I can see them as I read. Your dialogue flows naturally, not forced. Thank you for sharing and letting me read, enjoy, and comment.
S.F.
I was captured by the story so much the first time that I thought it was a true account, even though the preface stated that it was fictional. I was surprised how strongly the narrative captivated me again. It also helps and is enjoyable to read a book that describes places and things that I am familiar with.
S.S

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Echoes of Nam


Reading the 2017 obituary of Brandon Wosk gives Hacker Lee Goor echoes of Vietnam. Later, after a routine mental health checkup, he briefly meets Adam Brax and his wife Annie whom he’d seen at the VFW memorial.

Wosk and Goor shared an ambush at Dak Bla Bridge 4 days after the start of TET-1968. They met again when both were homeless on the streets of Portland, OR. Goor said, “The many times we talked and shared mind and memory altering street product, I probed and gave details, but he couldn’t remember me, the flight to Nam, the ambush at Dak Bla Bridge, the guys with us, or what he’d told me about his life before Nam.”

Goor seeks answers about why the Braxes were at the memorial. After discovery, he proposes the story to an editor with whom he’d worked. Ironically, that editor had a previous connection with navy nurse Annemarie (Sanders) Brax. Thus, Goor was able to put an ironic element into Echoes of Nam.

The two men (Wosk and Brax) were raised differently but were significantly changed by similar experiences and one common event in Vietnam. One of their shared consequential experiences wouldn’t be known to the other until one was dead.
I just finished Echoes of Nam - found it to be enticing, i.e. couldn't put my Kindle down. Although touted as fiction, I sense that there were interviews of a few 'Nam vets who had stories to tell but lacked the wherewithal to formulate a book with several stories tied together. The weaving of various security agencies activities through the book evokes the imagination of readers who have no idea as to what goes on behind closed doors, much less the Faraday cages. I've know just a few people who served in 'Nam - am sure that many of them could fully understand the loss of memory. Quite glad that I was too young for Korea and too old for 'Nam service. Hey bro' very good job with this book. LABenson

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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Rested

Over 90% of the winterizing is done around the house and yard. It doesn’t take a boatload of prep in the Pacific Northwest, but if somethings aren’t done, a ‘once in ten-year’ many-day cold snap will creep up on a homeowner. Burst pipes in the best of weather are a real burden, but during a freeze, ...
We had restful long weekend, then I had the pleasure of going to Burbank, CA, with my granddaughter to observe and follow a script in a voice recording session. The author of the book for which I posted a review, directed the session that will be on Adventures of Odyssey sometime next year. One of the voice actors in the audio play was Greg Jbara (Garrett on Blue Bloods), so my granddaughter and I got some good time with him and a number of regulars on A of O. Then we got good seats for a taping of Last Man Standing.
So, I’m relaxed and ready to get on with finishing two items with a deadline and other work I’ve started.
And, my marketing plan for Nescient Decoy is in process.

Jason Carter Finn

T wenty-five-year-old Jason Carter Finn doesn’t have a clue about his random CIA missions that have no obvious relationship to his primary...