Publicly paddled

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 20, 2003

In spite of being put in public stocks by Mr. Raines, president of the Suffolk Bar, I still believe the public had mixed feelings when it viewed a lawyer being chased around a tree by a pistol-packing maniac. Of course no one in his or her right mind wanted the lawyer killed or maimed, and most thought the shooter missed his target. I’m also sure most viewers knew no facts of the case and saw the drama symbolically, lawyer versus &uot;victim,&uot; as I did. Mr. Raines, a top-drawer lawyer, used more words in his letter of rebuke exposing my ‘callousness,’ than I do in a column. He successfully dressed me down and painted me as a cad. I am pleased he wrote in plain English and not the legalese often used in important documents ordinary mortals are unable to interpret. But I am not the one that originally spoke the oft-quoted words, &uot;Lawyers and skunks should be approached with caution.&uot; I respect reputable lawyers, but despise the others who detract from the image of law. Surely Mr. Raines admits the nation has an ample supply of the &uot;others,&uot; one of the reasons we need Bar associations. My lawyer daughter and lawyer friends still adore me.

The rumor is that the Indian village, Mattanock, is still an item, the project still alive and soon to be under discussion again. We understand that Calvin Jones, who remains non-committal, will be joined by much more sympathetic Linda Johnson, both Suffolk council members, to work with the Mattanock committee. We hope this will speed the plans along so the village will be in place and coincide with expected festivities in 2007 at Jamestown. Hopefully, the Mayor and City Manager include the village as one of the &uot;centerpieces&uot; necessary to draw tourists. The restored (an often-used word in Suffolk) statue of Mr. Peanut again stands mutely in the wrong spot and would be a tourist draw somewhere else. But famous as the statue is it can’t compare with an entire Indian village in natural surroundings. And the tribe will be happy to live with Mr. Herbert’s marina if need be. I don’t understand why not even one council member will demand an up or down vote on the village. It makes sense that a council commitment to the project would force the insisted-upon Mattanock Town business plan.

I read somewhere recently that war stories should be chronicled and everyone in uniform back in World War II has plenty of them. Not all of them are exciting because in every war not everyone is on the combat front lines giving and taking bullets and shrapnel. But believe me you don’t have to be up there to be killed or maimed enough to go home. Artillery shells reach miles behind the lines where soldiers are bringing up supplies necessary to keep fighting and moving forward. We were somewhere in between as a Combat Engineers. If the infantry or armored divisions needed mines cleared or a bridge constructed our radio buzzed. We seldom had a chance to rest because we were at the beck and call of the British 2nd Army and the American 9th. From D-Day on we were assisting their forward progress, one way or another.


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We stayed on Omaha Beach nearly two weeks clearing mines, blowing ship obstacles and removing miles of barbed wire so supplies could be landed. After that it was head across Europe to build a bridge, clear space for a fighter plane landing strip, clear mines for a field hospital, fence in prisoners until the MPs could catch up, clear mines from salvageable buildings that could be used for top brass headquarters or hospitals. Work never stopped and danger was everywhere, snipers, artillery, mines. In 11 months we lost half of our company of 120. Not all killed but they were gone. Replacements had to be trained. One mistake with a mine and it was goodbye; we lost many replacements.

Within the above two paragraphs are dozens of stories. If you have a veteran in your family I suggest you pin him/her down and dig into their mind. They will talk if you persist. Me, I’m easy and ramble on until my listeners run up a white flag. But if they want to know where I was and what I was doing for three years they better get chronicling. I remember those times pretty well but I can’t remember what I did on my last birthday.

Robert Pocklington is a resident of Suffolk and a regular News-Herald columnist. He can be contacted via e-mail at