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Marine Veteran's National Motorcycle Tour for Veteran Health Ends in SacramentoSalem-News.com
'Operation Red Dragonfly' completes mission, covering 11,511 miles.
(SACRAMENTO, CA) - Operation Red Dragonfly was carried out with the simple goal of raising awareness over health issues facing Veterans, their families, and the public.
Tim King, news editor of Salem-News.com, hit the California highway on the 14th of August, 2013, and the journey initially took Tim to Oregon.
There he interviewed Dr. Rick Staggenborg who once worked as a VA psychiatrist, but left his position over objections to prescribing addictive drugs to PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) patients.
Tim then made a brief stop to meet with Publisher Bonnie King to strategize his road plan and visit with his children in Oregon's capitol city, where Salem-News.com is based.
His next stop was Marine Vietnam Veteran Don Sexton, who has been developing one of the world's top Websites about PTSD and Veteran suicide. (veteranssuicides.weebly.com/-ptsd-diagnosis-prevention--treatment---don-sexton.html).
From there Tim visited supporters in the Seattle area, and traveled to Tacoma near Fort Lewis, Washington, where he connected with a Veteran outreach center called Coffee Strong.
This facility is operated by a former Marine named Andrew Wright. His cutting edge program and informational outlet is helping large numbers of Vets, many of whom have needs that the Veterans Administration can not or will not adequately address.
Tim also interviewed a doctor at Coffee Strong named Jim Mills, who discussed current therapies for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); specifically a technique which involves tapping meridian points on the body. The process takes place while a traumatic experience is recalled, along with the extreme discomfort associated with it.
Experts explain that meridian points release and rebalance energies. That interview, as well as Don Sexton and Rick Staggenborg's, will be used in Tim's upcoming documentary on PTSD.
While visiting Oregon, Tim connected with a number of key Veteran activists in the city of Albany, at an annual observation of U.S. Veterans which takes place each summer.
Among those who Tim connected with were Patty Louisiana, an extremely active mother of Oregon guard soldiers and Veteran's advocate, and Victor Kuhns of the group Vets Helping Vets; he is considered a miracle worker for his connections with both Veterans and the VA. Mr. Kuhns hopes to see efforts similar to those of his group take root nationwide.
Upon leaving Oregon, Tim headed east through Idaho and Utah, then into Colorado where he connected with Veterans he has personally worked with.
One is Nicholas Burgin, an Iraq war Marine Veteran who served in mortuary affairs during the battle of Fallujah, at the age of 17, only to be told initially by the VA that he did not suffer from PTSD.
Nick has been both a contributing writer for Salem-News.com, and a subject of Tim's writings, he was interviewed by Tim for the upcoming documentary on PTSD. Nick's story of hardship with the VA and the GI Bill are incredibly disappointing, though today Nick does have a 100% disability rating.
Tim then connected with Salem-News.com Photojournalist/Reporter Robert 'Tosh' Plumlee, a former CIA pilot-turned Iran/Contra whistleblower who has been in the national news lately over the death of former DEA Agent and U.S. Marine Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, and weapons shipments to Benghazi and Syria. T
Tosh and Tim have worked together on major stories involving cartels and illegal weapon shipments including Fast and Furious. Their reporting revealed the presence of U.S. military forces working south of the U.S. border with the Mexican military long before the information was "outed" by Wikileaks, which verified all of the allegations raised by Salem-News.com and Narco News.
In Colorado, Tim rode through a few hundred miles of rainy and cold weather. Little did he know as he headed east, that he was essentially leading a major storm that would flood parts of Colorado and claim lives.
Tim moved into Kansas next, where he caught a real time view of the state his mother Nellie King was born and raised in.
In this state made famous by The Wizard of Oz, he found endless acres of agricultural land and old towns that were seemingly abandoned, barely clinging to life. Old downtown areas in this state are overwhelmed with abandonment and decay, yet they still carry an air of importance that projected quite differently during the heyday of these towns.
Sadly, Kansas is the only state where Tim was pulled over by police without justification or cause. It was a minor event that ended quickly, but there are few words for police who randomly violate the rights of motorists by pulling them over when no law has been violated.
Tim's Suzuki GSF-1200 motorcycle developed a severe oil leak near Wichita, however a local mechanic named Charlie Otero repaired Tim's bike, thanks to a connection made through a local biker named Al who found Tim broken down outside of a Conoco gas station and mini mart.
Departing Kansas, Tim rode into the state of Missouri, where he connected with the Red Dragonfly Event Coordinator, Sheree Evans, in Ozark.
Sheree has led a tireless effort to raise awareness of the connection between glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer, and the chemical dioxin Agent Orange which was sprayed over the jungles of Vietnam.
Sheree's late husband Tommy, was a Marine in Vietnam who died from this particular form of cancer. He was a fighter yet no treatment could prevent the cancer from robbing his life. Sheree promised Tommy that she would fight on his behalf to raise awareness of the destructive brain cancer that has caused to many Vietnam Vets to check out long before their natural time.
Her efforts have led to the VA's accepting of Glio as a cancer caused by Agent Orange. Sheree is looking for other glio victims, widows and family members to share their stories. Please write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and share your story.
While in Missouri, Tim spoke at The Golden Corral banquet room in Springfield, and also at the local American Legion Hall.
The largest event where Tim spoke was in Spokane, Missouri, at a Veteran Appreciation event held at the First Baptist Church. Here, Tim addressed several hundred people about the goals and objectives of Operation Red Dragonfly. Many attendees approached Tim after the event and asked for his card and other relevant information. (see video below)
The objectives of Operation Red Dragonfly include raising awareness of the toxic contamination of military bases in the U.S. and overseas, spreading awareness of PTSD research and treatments, outreach over Agent Orange and the children of Vietnam Veterans, and other military health issues.
The list of potential deadly health hazards connected to serving in the U.S. military is staggering and appalling, and you note once you start discovering the really dark details, that there is almost no history of environmental responsibility involved. The government fights responsibility for the illnesses it causes tooth and nail.
Researchers like our own Forensic Toxicologist and Professor of Pharmacology, Dr. Phil Leveque, who has studied the effects of chemicals for more than half a century, say the only answer for places like MCAS El Toro and most or all of the other 130 Superfund sites listed by the EPA, is to build a tall fence around them and halt all human occupation for the next 1,000 years.
If the government listened to the experts whose hand is not in the government's pocket, the whole playing field would be different.
After completing his work in Missouri, Tim headed to the northeast, passing through the state of Illinois. Here, Tim was able to visit a family friend, Zane Riding, who is a fourth year student at Eureka College in Illinois.
This is the college that the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan attended. A museum contains fantastic images of Reagan as well as other historic figures who have visited and spoken at Eureka College. These include high profile figures like Mikhail Gorbachev and Sandra Day O'Connor.
While visiting and touring the historic campus, Tim was able to discuss his national tour's objectives with a number of students and faculty. He says it is equally important to reach young Americans before they make a choice to serve in the military.
Tim says he found a keen and rewarding level of interest from all of those attending and working at this historic place of higher learning.
Also in Illinois, Tim connected with Louis Narcisi, a steadfast supporter of Salem-News.com articles and reports on Facebook. Louis lives near Chicago, in Adison. Residents in his neighborhood are very old school patriotic.
Louis was able to introduce Tim to local residents and provided a tour of the neighborhood that Louis calls home. He provided a couch and a classic Chicago pizza for dinner, Tim says it was a fun experience.
Tim says it was excellent to connect with this strong supporter of human rights, veterans and Salem-News.com.
The ride moved farther east, Tim passed through Indiana and Michigan, eventually leading into the state of Ohio.
Tim connected with a Marine Corps friend named Greg Brainard at the Maumee, Ohio Eagle's Lodge. The two served at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in Southern California 30 years earlier.
The base, closed since 1999, is an EPA Superfund site for high levels of chemicals.
One of the most prominent and dangerous is TCE, trichloeoethylene, a triple chlorine degreaser that was used to clean jet aircraft and then dumped into the grates, and into the groundwater beneath the base.
In fact, MCAS El Toro is only one of 130 U.S. military bases that are listed as EPA Superfund sites.
The designation hasn't stopped government and corporate developers from slating the area for a park and housing community, both of which are obscene ideas.
These absurdities are part of what gave birth to both Operation Red Dragonfly, and the book that Tim co-authored with Robert O'Dowd, Betrayal. (BETRAYAL - Toxic Exposure of U.S. Marines, Murder, and Government Cover-up [Kindle Edition]).
Tim says the U.S. government is relying on the public and veteran community's ignorance and that removing the ignorance is the only possible answer toward resolving serious issues.
He says there are few families today that are not impacted by the current wars or the military in general, in one way or another.
After Ohio, Tim headed into Pennsylvania, passing through this historic place in the span of a day.
It was in Pennsylvania where so much of the early development of this country took place. This is a state with expansive wildland and forests, much like Oregon.
Tim had thousands of miles of quiet time to ponder the directions to choose from in the days and weeks ahead.
Riding many miles to cross Pennsylvania, Tim entered Delaware briefly, and then found himself in the state of New Jersey, where Tim connected with his good friend, Agron Belica of Boston, near East Rutherford.
Agron is the talent and inspiration for the Salem-News.com human rights music CD titled Newsic Revolution.
Unfortunately it took a few hours for the two to catch up initially as both Tim and Agron struggled to comprehend the unique layout New Jersey uses for its streets and roads.
Tim and Agron recorded video segments and interviews, and explored this section of America's northeast, being aided along the way by kind souls.
Tim's next stop was Somerdale, New Jersey, home of Robert O'Dowd, co-author of BETRAYAL - Toxic Exposure of U.S. Marines, Murder, and Government Cover-up.
Tim and Robert have been able to catch up a few times so far, which is nice Tim says, as the two live roughly 3,000 miles apart. It hasn't slowed their efforts to expose the cover-up of contaminated military bases and government narcotrafficking.
Tim says he couldn't resist taking a spin through New York City.
It isn't as if the opportunity presents itself every day, he reasoned. The drivers and pedestrians were predictably fast moving and impatient but not to a fault.
Passing through the Lincoln Tunnel, Tim found himself on 2nd Avenue, in the heart of New York's business and shopping districts.
Horns blared and the sound of sirens pierced the air but the sun was out and temperaments were fair.
Tim connected with a group of New York City Police officers and explained the purpose of his visit. They were cordial and helpful, even allowing Tim to make an illegal u-turn.
There is a direct connection between the U.S. military and law enforcement, Tim says, adding that police often have their own thoughts to share on issues of military base contamination.
From New York, Tim headed south, passing through New Jersey and Delaware, into Maryland and eventually, the quaint colonial town of Shepperdstown, West Virginia.
This is the home of Blake Smyle, Tim's friend of several years, who is the sole living biological grandchild of the American author John Steinbeck.
Tim and Bonnie have long discussed the idea of shooting a documentary on the lives of the Vietnam war photographers and correspondents, even completing a 4,000 mile journey in 2002 to compile interviews and footage for the project.
The project focuses on Blake's biological father, John Steinbeck IV, and his friends who included colorful characters like Sean Flynn, son of the actor Errol Flynn, and Dana Stone, who was captured along with Flynn during the invasion of Cambodia, never to be seen or heard from again.
This saga of attempting to determine the fate and final resting place of Sean Flynn and Dana Stone has long been a subject Salem-News.com has covered. Our correspondents David MacMillan and Michael Luehring, have spent time on the ground in Cambodia conducting extensive research in this regard.
The writers and photographers who comprised Dispatch News in Vietnam were some of the most colorful and daring journalists in history. They spent time on an island in the Mekong River called Phoenix Island, where a man called the Coconut Monk offered a refuge for journalists and soldiers who wanted to stop fighting.
Tim had the rare and wonderful chance to meet Blake's mother, Crystal Brown, who lived with Steinbeck and the crew from Dispatch News in Vietnam. Brown tells stories about this mad time when peace proponents covered the war with honesty that was later blamed for the war's lack of overall success.
After leaving Blake's colonial town, Tim began a long trek that led through West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee.
Each of these states Tim describes as a beautiful place brimming with incredible history and scenery. However Tim moved quickly through these states while appreciating everything they had to offer.
It was in Tennessee that weather began to turn bad again.
Tim elected to return to Sheree Evans' in Missouri to avoid the passing rainstorm and to grab a couple of days of rest.
There are a number of states and places he planned to visit on this first national motorcycle tour, but weather and costs for fuel and food and the occasional motel room, created challenges that often were not easily met.
Tim had planned to conduct family research in the Poplar Grove, Arkansas area, but again poor weather caused a change in plans, and Tim headed for Springdale, Arkansas to stay with his cousin Erin Bush, her husband Roger, and their two boys. Tim says he enjoyed that visit immensely.
After Arkansas, Tim headed for the Dallas, Texas area, where he connected with James and Mary Fredrickson. James is the brother of Diane Downs, an Oregon woman convicted of shooting her 3 children, one of whom died, in the 1980's.
Tim's personal investigation of the incident and the history behind it, along with the bare facts, indicate that Downs could not have committed the crime, and was in fact convicted by the media for a crime that she denies having committed to this day. Along with James, Tim was able to meet with Wes Fredrickson, father of Diane Downs, and record a special interview that will be released soon here at Salem-News.com.
Next came Carlsbad, New Mexico, where a talk was scheduled by Linda Ranes, a former Marine who is part of the local American Legion and also the Marine Corps League.
Tim's talk in front of the American Legion in Carlsbad was extremely well received, Tim was asked to attend again this coming summer, and the American Legion Riders, the group's motorcycle contingent showed interest also and suggested Tim attend a state event in 2014.
One of the biggest honors came from State Representative Lynn Morris in the Missouri House of Representatives. Morris, a legislator who clearly supports efforts to set the record straight over military health issues, closed his letter to Sheree Evans by writing,
This vote of confidence from one of Missouri's elected representatives is a breath of fresh air and a well needed measure of support. What Tim is doing is important, very important. Reaching just one Veteran makes the endeavor worthwhile, saving one life justifies everything.
Tim next visited Yuma, Arizona, where the television station KECY TV generously provided a room at the Shilo Inn. Tim offered special thanks to Adriana Sanchez from KECY and also to the station's General Manager, Paul Heebink.
Tim and Bonnie King both worked with Paul and Adriana in the 1990's at KYMA, the NBC affiliate in Yuma. Bonnie served as the station's Promotion Director before they moved on to Las Vegas.
Today Tim's longtime friend Matt McCombe works for KYMA. Matt, like Tim, is a longtime military historian. Tim also connected with their old friend Ty Hartley, who also worked at KYMA.
Tim's last talk took place at Arizona Western College, where he was asked to speak to Professor Alison McLallen Howell's English 101 class about his work as a reporter and as an activist for military Veterans. Tim also worked in the KYMA newsroom with Alison in the 1990's.
Tim says he shared a great deal of information with these interested young students, who live in a military town like so many other Americans who are potentially impacted by their personal proximity to military reservations.
People and organizations who have contributed include Nicholas Burgin, Tosh Plumlee, Paul Stanford and the THCF Clinic, Coral Theill, Charlie Smith, Vic Pittman, Kevin Saunders, Leonard Lawrence, Dennis Paterka, Karin Rougeau, Charlie Smith, Jean James, Bob and Donna Collinsworth, Robert and Grace O'Dowd, Al Hayward, James Frederickson, Michael Rawlings, Gary Bennett, Veterans United for Truth, the King family, Sacramento Motorcycle Rentals, and several others are already stepping up.
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