T-12 L-1 Spinal Fracture vs Sisu

While I am still able, I want to send a message to those I leave behind. No matter what happens in your life, never give up, never admit defeat, keep up the good fight, because life is the best gift you will ever receive. Love it, hang on to it and cherish it.

When I was 23 years old in June 1964, I had a car wreck and ended up with a compression fracture of my spine at T-12 and L-1.

Notice the flat vertebrate.

Sisu is a Finnish concept described as stoic determination, tenacity of purpose, gritbraveryresilience,[1][2] and hardiness[3][4] and is held by Finns themselves to express their national character. It is generally considered not to have a literal equivalent in English.

I am happy and proud to be 97% Finnish.

I spent three months in the Sioux Valley Hospital on a Stryker frame. My right leg did not move for over 2 months. Thankfully Physical Therapy workers continued to work with me in spite of my resistance and wanting to quit. They prodded me on forward when I didn’t have the courage to do it myself.

The Stryker Frame was designed so the patient could be turned every four hours.

Nurse with Stryker Frame patient.
You can learn to eat with your food right below you face. After you get turned the top half of the frame comes off. I took myself to physical therapy face down on a gurney with a cane in each hand, like sky poles after about a month.

Dr. Robert Van Demark took bone from my hips and fused it into my lower back a month before I was released from the hospital. I wore a full body cast for eight months. It went from my hips to the armpits. I was afraid it might start getting a little bit nasty underneath so I devised a way to use two coat hangers, I would slide them up inside of the cast, then hook a clean t-shirt on and pull it down into the cast. I had lost considerable weight by that time. I never had any problems developing insects or worms underneath that plaster shell.

I got out of the Sioux Valley Hospital in October and then spent a year with the Wayrynens recuperating. I tried selling insurance and a few other jobs before I went back on Highway Construction and started bouncing around in a truck again.

I got married to Rose Marie in 1970. One simple ‘I do’ turned me into a husband, father of four daughters, and grandfather to a newborn baby boy. I was driving a truck in Arizona in 1970. One night driving with the window open, cool air on my arm felt like needles hitting it. It wasn’t long after that I could not tell hot from cold with my left hand. Paralysis started on my left side at that time. By 1985 I was completely numb on my left side from my waistline to the top of my head. A straight line just like the Joker has. I was not diagnosed with Syringomyelia until 1985. I was going to the Veterans’ Hospital in Sioux Falls. The neurology doctor had no idea what was wrong with me. He felt sure it was some type of stroke.

The Lord does work in mysterious ways, a young lady intern who had just learned about SM was in his office that day. She told the doctor she thought I may have Syringomyelia, ‘he had never heard of it.’ The next week I was in the VA Hospital in Minneapolis having a drainpipe put in my spinal cord. At that time when I sneezed or coughed it shot pain to the top of my head, so I would almost pass out. The left side of my tongue was even numb, so I was biting my tongue when I ate. They put a small drain in my spinal cord that moved the fluid to the outside of the cord but still in the spinal column. I am very thankful the pain from sneezing and coughing disappeared after the shunt was put in and also, I quit biting my tongue. If that young lady had not been in the office that day I no doubt would have gone to be with the Lord many years ago.


In 1985 after the first surgery on my back, I started having problems with my left shoulder. The head of the humerus bone dissolved between the months of October and November of 1985. One month the bone was solid, the next month it was gone. I have lived since 1985 with no joint on my left shoulder. I continued to use it as much as I could, even carrying firewood into the house with it without having the arm connected to the socket. The neurology Specialists told me shortly after the shoulder went bad it could not be replaced because they were sure it would never heal right. So, I told them I think we better just leave it alone. Pain has always ridden shotgun with me.



In 2000 when I had cervical spine surgery on my neck. My whiskers grew to the point they became intolerable, so I just let them grow. I had to wear a stiff neck collar for 7 months. They cut a vertebra in half and took it out. Then used a Roto-Rooter tool to clean around the spinal cord. After they got done with that, they used bone bank parts to hold it all in place.

They put a steel plate on the front of my neck to hold my head-on. It has six screws in it. I got sent home three days after that surgery. My throat was still raw from the breathing tube I drank water until I washed all the sodium out of my system. I ended up in the hospital again having seizures from the low sodium level. A few years later I had another low sodium level that put me in intensive care. I had to go to a nursing home and learn to walk again after that episode.

My wife passed away in 2019. so I lived at home alone in my apartment for 2 years. Another shunt was put in a couple years ago, it was supposed to be as an outpatient. They were going to drill a hole and put another drain tube in my cervical spine. Evidently the hole got drilled too deep or something. I had to lay flat on my back for 2 days and then went back to a nursing home for another month’s stay.

It does appear like my whole life has been spent in physical therapy departments. This year not too long before Christmas I fell and broke some ribs on my left side which put me in the hospital for 10 days. I finally decided I cannot take care of myself, so now I reside at the Hendricks Nursing Home in Hendricks Minnesota. The people here are great, we should all thank the Lord for young people willing to do these jobs.

I can still walk a little with a walker. But the Lord is right there holding me up all the while. The neurology doctors can find no reason for me to still be walking, I will try to continue confusing them by walking from my room to the dining hall.

These doctors have never heard of Sisu!

God bless all of my Facebook and Blogging friends.

Love, Your old Finnish friend.


USAF Aircraft That My Friend Don Esler and I Have Worked On

Our basic training was at Lackland AFB.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lackland_Air_Force_Base Texas

Our military aircraft maintenance school was at Amarillo Air Force Base Texas on this airplane in 1958.

We got to Hamilton Air Force Base in California in 1959. This was the first aircraft we worked on . Later it was replaced by the F-101A and B.

The F-104 aircraft was also stationed at Hamilton Field but in a different Squadron.

In 1960 Don got sent to Holland and I got sent to Misawa AB in Japan.


Misawa AB Japan


My old plane.


I Will Fly Away 

It is a true blessing to be young and healthy, to live without any devastating disease such as cancer or juvenile diabetes, and many other things that haunt all ages. We should protect that good health with everything available from attitude to exercise. One way might be to visit a home for the elderly on a regular basis. A mental picture is worth more than any amount of words.
We all take health for granted until something goes wrong with the body. We automatically say fine, when someone asks. “How are you doing, how are you feeling today? The automatic answer is fine, or good, when many times we are not. As we get older that happens more often, we have many more days that are not fine. We entertain thoughts like going, “To a land where joy will never end, I’ll fly away.”
Getting old should be a slow process, like walking into a cold lake, a little at a time, with no shock involved. As we do get older, there is some shock, as the body wears out, we start to think more about this in the tired and weaker last days. There is comfort in these words, “Just a few more weary days and then,” “I Will Fly Away.”


Japan 1962


Estensen Olson Hoel Family Tree

These are three characters from the Estensen Olson Hoel family tree. 

You can learn about these people by going to the Facebook link below. 


Jacob Mathias Tax 
Birthdate: 1630 
Birthplace: Freiberg, Chemnitz, Saxony, Germany 
Death: February 12, 1670 (39-40) 
Trondheim, Sør-Trøndelag, Norway 
Place of Burial: Sør-Trøndelag, Norway 
Immediate Family: Son of “Mathias” Tax and N.N., wife to Mathias Tax 
Husband of Christine Hohendorf 
Father of Brostrup Jacobsen Tax 
Brother of Tobias Tax and Johan Georg Tax 
Occupation: Direktør at kopperberk, direktør ved Kvikne kobberverk 

Christine Hohendorf (Hofendorf) Norwegian: Christine Hofendorf 
Also Known As: “Horfendorf”, “Hogendorp”, “Hohendorff”, “Anne Richter Boghart” 
Birthdate: 1632 
Birthplace: Hohendorf, Freiberg, Saxony, Germany 
Death: 1675 (42-43) 
Vestrum, Ekne, Skogn, Levanger, Nord-Trøndelag, Norge (Norway) 
Place of Burial: Inderøy, Nord-Trøndelag, Norge 
Immediate Family: Daughter of Henning Hohendorf and Elisabetha Sofie Anna Henningsdatter Götz Arnisaeus 
Wife of Jacob Mathias Tax and Christian Boghart Richter, I 
Mother of Brostrup Jacobsen TaxChristian Christiansen Richter, IIDavid Christianson Richter and Mette Cathrine Richter 
Half sister of Henning Johannessen IrgensHans Henrich IrgensAnna Catharina Johannesdatter HaaesChristian Fredrich IrgensBeate Elisabeth Johannesdatter Irgens and 15 others 
Occupation: Richter-slektens stammor 
Managed by: Jahn Edgar Michelsen 
Last Updated: August 28, 2021 

Christian Boghart Richter, I Norwegian: Bergverksdirektør Christian Boghart Richter, I 
Also Known As: “Richter-familiens stamfar” 
Birthdate: 1630 
Birthplace: Freiberg, Sachsen, Germany 
Death: 1691 (60-61) 
Hernes, Frosta, Nord-Trøndelag, Norway 
Place of Burial: Frosta, Nord-Trøndelag, Norway 
Immediate Family: Son of Bergskriver Christian Boghart Richter and Anne Richter 
Husband of Anne Hernes and Christine Hohendorf 
Father of Anne Kristine Christiansdatter RichterAndreas Christianson Richtergullsmed Jørgen Christiansen RichterChristian Christiansen Richter, IIDavid Christianson Richter and 1 other 

Ole Estensen Hoel was my great-great-grandfather. 



Southeast Asia in 1961

President John F. Kennedy met with General Maxwell Taylor and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, in Washington, D.C. These gentlemen sent the following people to Thailand in 1961 

I was 21 years old at the time, now I’m 81. I’m about to go into a senior nursing home and j learn I have no VA benefits to cover it. 

I just found this information about the airplane I was crew chief on. It did not get shot down in Vietnam. 080 (MSN 307) 1967: USAF 45th TRS (460th TRW). Mississippi ANG 153rd TRS, 186th TRG, Key Field, Meridian, MS. to MASDC Jan 4, 1979, as FF384. Departed Sep 5, 1984. To Allied Aircraft Sales, Tucson, AZ

The Able Mable Task Force

Although the Pipe Stem Task Force had been an experiment it had proven the worth of modern jet reconnaissance aircraft in a counterinsurgency (COIN) situation and had emphasized the need for a more permanent capability in SEA. A study group headed by Presidential adviser General Maxwell Taylor in 0ctober ‘1961 had urged prompt support for the South Vietnamese Government, including the use of U.S. reconnaissance aircraft to collect intelligence. Expecting the ICC to oppose any renewed U.S. reconnaissance from South Vietnam at that time, the United States made other arrangements. 

As early as 9 April. 196.l, the Royal Thai Government had agreed to a U.S. proposal to station three RF-lOlC’s at Takhli RTAFB to fly the reconnaissance sorties over Laos’, but the United States had taken no further action. Because the ICC had halted the Field Goa] RT-33 sorties over Laos, the Field Goal Task Force in July 1961 moved from Udorn RTAFB to Don Muang International Airport for better aircraft maintenance facilities and housing. Continued pressure from the JCS finally resulted in a renewal of the daily overflight of Laos. A Field Goal RT-33 flew a sortie over the Plain of Jars on 4 October 196’1. AII factors considered Thailand appeared to be the best potential base for a permanent U.S. reconnaissance effort over SEA at that time. U.S. Ambassador Kenneth T. Young approach the Royal Thai Government in October 1961. with a proposal to station four RF-‘l0lC’s at Don Muang Airport for reconnaissance over Laos and South Vietnam. Having earlier proposed just such a move, the Thai Government gave immediate approval. The 45th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron already was involved in Project Pipe Stem, so Fifth Air Force on 29 October told the 45th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron to send four RF-101C’s to Don Muang International Airport for 30 days as Task Force Able Mable. PACAF authorized a task force strength of 45 people, including seven RF-l0lC pilots and enough technicians to man a photo processing and interpretation facility (PPIF). Thirteenth Air Force already had established an advance echelon (ADV0N) headquarters at Tan Son Nhut Air Base to control the growing number of Air Force units and people in SEA, and Detachment l0 of that ADVON managed U.S. Air Force activities at Don Muang Airport. The Data Channel provided the Ab]e Mab]e Task Force with normal housekeeping support. The senior Able Mable pilot served as a reconnaissance staff officer and RF-‘l0l operations officer for Detachment 10 and was responsible for Able Mable Task Force commissioner did not exist, there were low-frequency radio beacons in Thailand at Bangkok and Ubon RTAFB, Laos at Vientiane, and South Vietnam at Qui Nhon, Saigon, and Danang. Inaccurate maps and charts often forced the pilots to conduct area searches to locate their objectives. The most reliable maps of South Vietnam and Laos for some time were those of the French Auto club; copies were carefully passed from pilot to pi1ot. Strict orders to avoid overflight of Burma, North Vietnam, Cambodia, and China aggravated an already delicate navigation problem3 (U) Although they daily flew over sparsely inhabited areas largely controlled by hostile forces or aborigines, the Able_ Mable pilots had no formal rescue or recovery support. A handful] of Royal Laotian Air Force and civilian aircraft in Laos and a few U.S. Army helicopters in South Vietnam provided a limited rescue potential. As the number of high priority reconnaissance requests increased, Able Mable in early December l96l began keeping an RF-101C on strip alert at Don Muang Airport to provide a more rapid response. The growing number of reconnaissance missions scheduled each day, plus the strip alert requirements, strained the task force’s ability. There just were not enough RF-l0’lC’s to satisfy all of PACAF’s needs. Although the task force had flown for only 30 days before that time CINCPAC extended the project indefinitely. By the end of |961, the task force pilots had flown more than. 30 reconnaissance sorties over Laos and South Vietnam, exposing more than 53,000 feet of film. The 45th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, faced with an indefinite stay in SEA, decided to rotate its aircraft and pilots every 6 weeks to ease the aircraft maintenance workload and to share the experience among all the pilots. Each pilot averaged’15 to 20 sorties during his 6 weeks in Thailand, acquiring experience that he never could have gained from a normal training situation. l Able Mable RF-10lC pilots at first flew about 78 percent of their missions over Laos and 25 percent over South Vietnam, but those percentages soon reversed. The missions over South Vietnam involved crossing the Laos panhandle, photographing the assigned objectives, and returning to Don Muang Airport. Objectives in northern South Vietnam, however, stretched the fuel range of the RF-101c’s dangerously close to the limit and forced many of the pilots to land at Tan Son Nhut Air Base to refuel. PACAF on ’18 November had designated the Pipe Stem PPIF as 0perating Location Number two (0U-2) for Able Mable. 0L-2 processed the film from RF-IO’IC’s landing at Tan Son Nhut. Air Base for fuel and reloaded their cameras to enable them to fly another sortie while returning to Don Muang Airport. Pilots on missions to photograph high priority objectives in South Vietnam also landed at Tan Son Nhut Air Base to allow the personnel to expedite film processing and exploitation. As the number of high priority reconnaissance requests increased, Able Mable in early December l96l began keeping an RF-101C on strip alert at Don Muang Airport to provide a more rapid response. The growing number of reconnaissance missions scheduled each day, plus the strip alert requirements, strained the task force’s ability. There just were not enough RF-l0’lC’s to satisfy all of PACAF’s needs. Although the task force had flown for only 30 days well before that time CINCPAC extended the project indefinitely. By the end of 1961, the task force pilots had flown more than 130 reconnaissance sorties over Laos and South Vietnam, exposing more than 53,000 feet of film. The 45th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, faced with an indefinite stay in SEA, decided to rotate its aircraft and pilots every 6 weeks to ease the aircraft maintenance workload and to share the experience among all the pilots. Each pilot averaged 15 to 20 sorties during his 6 weeks in Thailand, acquiring experience that he never could have gained from a normal training situation. Most of the RF-10C’s crossed into Laos at one of five border points, and each of those points led to specific objective areas. The Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese thus could predict with some certainty the objectives of each RF-l0l even before the aircraft actually crossed the border. To make the Pathet Lao’s defensive task even easier,85 percent of the RF-l0lC’s were over their objectives during the same 2-hour period each day. That offered major advantages to the opponent. When PACAF headquarters learned of those standardized missions, it directed the mission planners to vary takeoff times, routes, altitudes, and similar operational factors on a random basis to confuse the Pathet Luo. Pathet Luo Small arms fire hit four RF-lOlC’s within a few weeks, but none suffered serious damage. AIl were below I,500 feet above ground level (AGL) over Laos when hit. Thirteenth Air Force headquarters reacted on I February 1962, directing that the Able Mable RF-lOlC pilots fly higher than 5,000 feet over roads and waterways to avoid further small arms fire damage. Three days later, however, Thirteenth Air Force headquarters abolished all altitude restrictions and again left mission tactics to the task force personnel as another safety measure, Thirteenth Air Force headquarters ordered that teams of two RF-‘101C’s f1y reconnaissance missions over Laos whenever possible, particularly those missions against transportation which seemed to produce the most ground fire. In addition to providing rescue control for the loss of one of the RF-101C’s, the two aircraft formation almost doubled the width of the swath photographed and greatly reduced the possibility of a camera system malfunction in one aircraft voiding the mission Many standard concepts of tactical reconnaissance proved invalid.

Conceived as pinpoint photography of carefully delineated objectives, prestrike reconnaissance more often than not required mosaic-type photography of a large area so the photo interpreters could search for elusive targets. Rather than dashing across a single spot, the RF-‘l0lC droned back and forth to expose hundreds of photographs, often while under sporadic small arms fire. Post-strike reconnaissance was equally frustrating because dense foliage soaked up bomb bursts, quickly hiding any damage. Reconnaissance in SEA was vastly different than it had been in the Korean conflict or much of World II, but the Able Mable team had to apply many o1d reconnaissance principles to new situations. One new requirement called for the RF-101C pilots to use a T-ll precision mapping camera to produce photography for the correction and construction of maps and charts. The Tif camera could be fitted into the second camera bay in place of the three KA-2 cameras, but the RF-I0IC was not the stable quarters that withdrew the proposal. Meanwhile, PACAF decided that the l5th and 45th Tactical

Reconnaissance Squadrons should share the Able Mable duty, changing responsibility every 6 months. As the first changeover neared, Thirteenth Air Force headquarters asked that the force be increased to six aircraft, but again PACAF simply did not have enough RF-l0lCs. As a consequence, the l5th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron sent only four RF-101Crs from Kadena Air Base to Don Muang Airport on 23 May’1962 to relieve the 45th Tactical Reconnaissance squadron.  

Special Air Warfare and the Secret War in Laos: Air Commandos 1964–1975 (defense.gov) 

Early Vietnam Service – F-101 Voodoo | Weapons and Warfare