Joe Galloway and I have had several discussions about Robert McNamara and his role in Vietnam. Joe has long said that there is a special place reserved in hell for Robert McNamara. As a Christian, I don’t wish any man or woman that but I do share most of Joe’s sentiments about McNamara.

By Joe Galloway

“I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.” —Clarence Darrow (1857–1938)

Well, the aptly named Robert Strange McNamara has finally shuffled off to join LBJ and Dick Nixon in the 7th level of Hell.

McNamara was the original bean-counter — a man who knew the cost of everything but the worth of nothing.

Back in 1990 I had a series of strange phone conversations with McMamara while doing research for my book We Were Soldiers Once And Young. McNamara prefaced every conversation with this: “I do not want to comment on the record for fear that I might distort history in the process.” Then he would proceed to talk for an hour, doing precisely that with answers that were disingenuous in the extreme — when they were not bald-faced lies.

Upon hanging up I would call Neil Sheehan and David Halberstam and run McNamara’s comments past them for deconstruction and the addition of the truth.

The only disagreement i ever had with Dave Halberstam was over the question of which of us hated him the most. In retrospect, it was Halberstam.

When McNamara published his first book — filled with those distortions of history — Halberstam, at his own expense, set out on a journey following McNamara on his book tour around America as a one-man truth squad.

McNamara abandoned the tour.

The most bizarre incident involving McNamara occurred when he was president of the World Bank and, off on his summer holiday, he caught the Martha’s Vineyard ferry. It was a night crossing in bad weather. McNamara was in the salon, drink in hand, schmoozing with fellow passengers. On the deck outside a vineyard local, a hippie artist, glanced through the window and did a double-take. The artist was outraged to see McNamara, whom he viewed as a war criminal, so enjoying himself.

He immediately opened the door and told McNamara there was a radiophone call for him on the bridge. McNamara set down his drink and stepped outside. The artist immediately grabbed him, wrestled him to the railing and pushed him over the side. McNamara managed to get his fingers through the holes in the metal plate that ran from the top of the railing to the scuppers.

McNamara was screaming bloody murder; the artist was prying his fingers loose one at a time. Someone heard the racket and raced out and pulled the artist off.

By the time the ferry docked in the vineyard McNamara had decided against filing charges against the artist, and he was freed and walked away.


Americana car

We went down to Westport for the “Fourth of July Festivus” as Uncle Buck called it.

Barnes fam

Uncle Buck & Sister Tater and their family were there. Tay didn’t get to go because she had to work.

The Four of us.2

And, of course, Tim and I were there minus any of our four kids. Konnie and Jon really wanted to go because as Jon said, “Uncle Buck knows how to throw a righteous party.”  Can you tell Jon graduated in a different era than Konnie did? But it’s true, Uncle Buck is city foreman and he knows how to throw a righteous party, whether it’s a birthday event or just a Fourth of July celebration

The Flag

There was a Giant Flag.

Honor Guard

And a customary honor guard


Jams of every sort

Hot Dog 2 tickets

Hot Dog

The usual but with sauerkraut, too, if that’s your choice.


And even a little desert to top it all off, though, we waited until we were back at Sister Tater’s place before we got our desert. What would a 4th of July be, afterall, without the Ice Cream man who came through the neighborhood playing Christmas songs. I have no idea why. Maybe he’d been nipping the Root Beer Float flavors a little too much.

ice cream man

I settled on the Taco version. Ice cream folded into a waffle cone. What’s your favorite flavor from the Ice Cream Man?

We are packing up to leave now but as you can see a good time was had by all. Hope your 4th was equally as jubuliant.

Now that we have all this Freedom that God and others has blessed us with, what are we going to do with it to bless others, huh?

Gabe & me


Uncle Buck and Tay just got back from Alaska but before they left they planned a surprise 50th birthday party for Sister Tater. Tay made a wonderful Smurf cake. When Uncle Buck and Sister Tater were first dating they collected Smurfs and gave them to each other as gifts. Tay remembered her mom telling that story so she made a Smurf cake.


Uncle Buck, a former cook with the Coast Guard, planned all the food.

Linda. Surprise

Mannie brought his mama. Tater was completely surprised. Her first words were,”I’m not even fixed up.” That Southern speak for I don’t have my face on.

Gabe & me

I found a fella to hang with. This little guy is Gabe. He was named for my nephew Gabe.

Brothers and Baby

That’s Gabe on the left and Mannie on the right. This is with their baby cousin once removed. Sister Tater runs a daycare/preschool for the church so her kids love babies.

Pastor Myron praying

Pastor Myron led the prayer and asked God to give Sister Tater another 50.

Linda, me, Gabe

Yes. She really is my sister. And yes, we really have the same father and mother.

Linda. Pinata

Sister Tater is dangerous with a baseball bat.

Linda with cake

But give her a cake and she’s all smiles.

So what is former Gov. Palin up to? Has she stepped down because she’s prepping to step up?

NPR reported that Palin said her family weighed heavily in her decision.

“I polled the most important people in my life, my kids, where the count was unanimous,” she said. “Well, in response to asking, ‘Hey, you want me to make a positive difference and fight for all our children’s future from outside the governor’s office?’ It was four yeses and one ‘Hell, yeah!” And the ‘Hell, yeah’ sealed it.”

But just for some more insight, I offer this up. Uncle Buck, the family fisherman, LOVES Sarah Palin. “Anybody who looks that good in a string bikini gets my vote,” Uncle Buck says. “Besides I think she’s a nice lady.”

Family rumor has it that perhaps the reason Palin has stepped down is because of Uncle Buck.


The Cook

He’s just returned from a week in Alaska, where he claims to have been fishing. But we find it compelling that Buck had only been home two days and Palin stepped down. “Do you think maybe she’s pregnant again and Todd isn’t the father?” one family member asked.

Sister Tater doesn’t seem riled by either the possiblity of an affair between her husband and Sarah Palin, or the thought that Sarah may have set her sights on bigger fish.

“I don’t think she’s going to make a run for President,” she said.

What do you think?


This is a story from my buddy Joe Galloway. I thought it fitting to share as a reminder that war and this freedom we banter about comes at a great cost, then and now.

Sam and Esther

It’s the juxtapositions of life that get you — the rich, the poor, the black, the white.

It’s like the Gospel right there — putting others first.

Care to help?

And all that time you spent in your teens worrying that you would never make it into the double-digits.

Or was that bra size you were talking about?

They say as a girl ages you begin to look more and more like your mother. That certainly seems to be the case for Ashley and Shelby. Happy 27th Birthday girls. Either I don’t look my age, or you don’t look yours…

Karen's pictures 268

Oh. I guess that’s Konnie. Not me. Sorry about the confusion.  That’s part of the aging process too.

But remember what your mama always said, Don’t make faces like that or it might freeze up on you.

Here’s your cake. Hope you enjoy it. Love, Mama