Walter always helped me. He was with the 82nd Airborne Division. Walter died recently.
| Thanks Walter. I will never forget you.|
"After we landed they all ran like rats".
My very good friend Walter was already a senior technician at AW Toyota
in Durham, North Carolina, US, when I started working there. As an
Industrial Electrician and as an Electronic Technician with years of
experience I knew from the very first moment that I was going to be
-sooner or later- an experienced technician there as well. But I should
confess that the high level of electronic automation at that Toyota plant
impressed me. All was Japanese technology and components, except
some equipment from German and Switzerland, with only one from
So at the beginning I was a little bit like being at the moon, including
asking many questions. But there was always Walter for me, explaining
what I did not know or to get the one who knew it when he did not
know either. I still remember when the shift supervisor paged him for
an specific area with technical problems. Walker always called me to go
together. "Beny hands on training are by far the best". He used to say.
Even more, he always trusted my abilities because of my knowledge in
the field of electronic and programming applications for industries.
During break times at work Walter and me used to have coffee together and talk about everything, we called it 'shooting the shit time'. He always commented that I was really a funny man, it was something that always pleased me, and some other co-workers say the same too.
I still remember the story about Adam's rib, which I copied and edited from the Internet:
"Adam was hanging around the Garden of Eden feeling very lonely and
God asked him 'What is wrong with you man?'.
Adam replied 'I need a lady companion'.
'I am going to give you a pretty lady. She will cook and wash clothing
for you and always agree with your decisions, never nagging at you. She will
praise you and will bear the children. She will freely give you love and passion
whenever you need it' God said.
'Wow, thanks my God' -Adam was very happy- 'How much will such
a woman cost?'.
God meditated ... 'Well, she will cost you an arm and a leg'.
'That's too much my God'-Adam was surprised- 'What can I get for a rib
Of course the rest is history".
We laughed many times either re-telling or remembering it.
Walter was before a member of the 82nd Airborne Division specialized inÂ
parachute assaultÂ operations. On 25 October 1983 he parachuted in Grenada
following an order from President Ronald Reagan to protect the American
medical students and to stop the civil war going on that island.
Many US marines jumped from military planes over Grenada. Walker was
among them. Those young brave Americans were all alive when they
parachuted, but not all landed alive... some of them were dead. Some
others were badly injured.
========== 82nd Airborne Division - Wikipedia ==========
TheÂ 82nd Airborne DivisionÂ is anÂ airborneÂ infantryÂ divisionÂ of theÂ United States Army specializing inÂ parachute assaultÂ operations, they penetrate into denied areas with aÂ
Department of DefenseÂ requirement to "respond to crisis contingencies anywhere in
the world within 18 hours".Â Based atÂ Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the 82nd Airborne Division is part of theÂ XVIII Airborne Corps. The 82nd Airborne Division is the U.S.
Army's most strategically mobile division.
Since its initial members came from all 48 states, the division acquired the nicknameÂ
All-American, which is the basis for its famed "AA" on the shoulder patch.
Invasion of Grenada - Operation Urgent Fury.
On 25 October 1983, elements of the 82nd conducted an Air land Operation to secureÂ Point Salines Airport, following an airborne assault by theÂ 1stÂ andÂ 2nd Ranger BattalionsÂ who conducted the airfield seizure just hours prior. The 82nd expanded its missions from the airhead at Salines to weed outÂ Cuban Revolutionary Armed ForcesÂ andÂ Grenadian People's Revolutionary ArmyÂ soldiers. Each proceeding battalion pushed a single company forward deploying only one company out of the entire brigade. The operation was flawed in several areas; newly issued Battledress Uniforms were not designed for the tropical environment; communication between Army ground forces and Navy and Air Force aircraft lacked interoperability and even food and other logistic support to ground forces were hampered due to communication issues between the services. The operation proved the division's ability to act as a rapid deployment force. The first aircraft carrying troopers touched down at Point Salines 17 hours after.
TheÂ United States invasion of GrenadaÂ began at dawn on 25 October 1983. The U.S. and a coalition of six Caribbean nations invaded the island nation ofÂ Grenada, 100 miles (160Â km) north ofÂ Venezuela. CodenamedÂ Operation Urgent FuryÂ by the U.S. military, it resulted in military occupation within a few days.Â It was triggered by the strife within theÂ People's Revolutionary GovernmentÂ which resulted in the house arrest and execution of the previous leader and second Prime Minister of GrenadaÂ Maurice Bishop, and the establishment of the Revolutionary Military Council withÂ Hudson AustinÂ as Chairman. The invasion resulted in the appointment of an interim government, followed byÂ elections in 1984.
The date of the invasion is now a national holiday in Grenada calledÂ Thanksgiving Day, commemorating the freeing of several political prisoners who were subsequently elected to office. AÂ truth and reconciliation commissionÂ was launched in 2000 to re-examine some of the controversies of the era; in particular, the commission made an unsuccessful attempt to find Bishop's body, which had been disposed of at Austin's order and never found. The invasion also highlighted issues with communication and coordination between the different branches of the American military when operating together as a joint force, contributing to investigations and sweeping changes in the form of theÂ Goldwater-Nichols ActÂ and other reorganizations.
In March 1983, President Reagan began issuing warnings about the threat posed to the United States and the Caribbean by the Soviet-Cuban militarization of the Caribbean, evident from the excessively long airplane runway being built and intelligence indicating increased Soviet interest in the island. He said that the runway and the numerous fuel storage tanks were unnecessary for commercial flights, and that evidence indicated that the airport was to become a Cuban-Soviet forward military airbase.
On 16 October 1983, Deputy Prime MinisterÂ Bernard CoardÂ seized power and placed Bishop under house arrest. There were mass protests against this which led to Bishop escaping detention and reasserting his authority as the head of the government. He was eventually captured and murdered by a firing squad of soldiers, along with his partner and several government officials and union leaders who were loyal to him. The army underÂ Hudson AustinÂ then stepped in and formed a military council to rule the country, and they placed Governor-GeneralÂ Paul ScoonÂ under house arrest. The army announced a four-day total curfew where anyone seen on the streets would be summarily executed.
The Cuban military presence in Grenada was more complex than initially thought.Â Most of the Cuban civilian present were also military reservists.Â Fidel Castro described the Cuban construction crews in Grenada as "workers and soldiers at the same time", claiming the dual nature of their role was consistent with Cuba's "citizen soldier" tradition.Â At the time of the invasion, there were an estimated 784 Cuban nationals on the island.Â About 630 of the Cuban nationals listed their occupations as construction workers, another 64 as military personnel, and 18 as dependents. The remainder were medical staff or teachers.Â Colonel Pedro TortolComas was the highest-ranking Cuban military officer in Grenada in 1983, and he later stated that he issued small arms and ammunition to the construction workers for the purpose of self-defense during the invasion, which may have further blurred the line between their status as civilians and combatants.Â They were also expressly forbidden to surrender to US military forces if approached.Â The regular Cuban military personnel on the island were serving as advisers to the People's Revolutionary ArmyÂ (PRA) at the time.Â Cuban advisers and instructors deployed with overseas military missions were not confined to non-combat and technical support roles; if the units to which they were attached participated in an engagement, they were expected to fight alongside their foreign counterparts.
President Reagan set the hour for the invasion at 05:00 on 25 October 1983. U.S. troops were deployed for Grenada by helicopter fromÂ Grantley Adams International AirportÂ on Barbados before daybreak.Â Nearly simultaneously, American paratroopers arrived directly by transport aircraft from bases in the eastern United States and U.S. Marines were airlifted to the island from theÂ USSÂ GuamÂ offshore. It was the first major operation conducted by the American military since theÂ Vietnam War.Â Vice AdmiralÂ Joseph Metcalf, III, Commander of the Second Fleet, was the overall commander of American forces, designated Joint Task Force 120, which included elements of each military service and multiple special operations units. Fighting continued for several days and the total number of American troops reached some 7,000 along with 300 troops from the Organization of American States (OAS), commanded by Brigadier Rudyard Lewis of Barbados.
The main objectives on the first day were for theÂ 75th Ranger RegimentÂ to capture theÂ Point Salines International AirportÂ in order for theÂ 82nd Airborne DivisionÂ to land reinforcements on the island; theÂ 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine RegimentÂ to captureÂ Pearls Airport; and other forces to rescue the American students at the True Blue Campus ofÂ St. George's University. In addition, a number of special operations missions were undertaken by Army Delta Force operatives and Navy SEALs to obtain intelligence and secure key individuals and equipment. Many of these missions were plagued by inadequate intelligence, planning, and accurate maps of any kind, and the American forces mostly relied upon tourist maps.
The invading forces encountered about 1,500 Grenadian soldiers of theÂ People's Revolutionary ArmyÂ (PRA) manning defensive positions. The PRA troops were for the most part equipped with light weapons, mostly Kalashnikov-pattern automatic rifles of Soviet bloc origin, and smaller numbers of obsoleteÂ SKSÂ carbines andÂ PPSh-41Â submachine guns.Â They had few heavy weapons and no modern air defense systems. The PRA was not regarded as a serious military threat by the US, which was more concerned about the likelihood that Cuba would send a large expeditionary force to intervene on behalf of its erstwhile ally.
The last major special operation was a mission to rescue Governor General Scoon from his mansion inÂ Saint George, Grenada. Early on the morning of 26 October, Cuban forces ambushed a patrol from the 2nd Battalion of the 325th Infantry Regiment near the village of Calliste. The American patrol suffered six wounded and two killed, including the commander of Company B. Navy airstrikes and an artillery bombardment byÂ 105mm howitzersÂ targeting the main Cuban encampment eventually led to their surrender at 08:30. American forces pushed on to the village of Frequente, where they discovered a Cuban weapons cache reportedly sufficient to equip six battalions. Cuban forces ambushed a reconnaissance platoon who was mounted on gun-jeeps, but the jeeps returned fire, and a nearby infantry unit added mortar fire; the Cubans suffered four casualties with no American losses. Cuban resistance largely ended after these engagements.
This was the first overthrow of a Communist government by armed means. The Soviet Union said that Grenada had been the object of United States threats, that the invasion violated international law, and that no small nation would find itself safe if the aggression were not rebuffed. The governments of some countries stated that the United States intervention was a return to the era of barbarism. The governments of other countries said the United States had violated several treaties and conventions to which it was a party.A similar resolution was discussed in theÂ United Nations Security CouncilÂ but it was ultimately vetoed by the United States.
PresidentÂ Ronald ReaganÂ was asked if he was concerned by the lopsided 108-9 vote in the UN General Assembly. He said, "it didn't upset my breakfast at all."
Reagan told Thatcher before anyone else that the invasion would begin in a few hours, but ignored her complaints. She publicly supported the action. Reagan phoned to apologize for the miscommunication,and the long-term friendly relationship endured.
The American and Caribbean governments quickly reaffirmed Scoon as Queen Elizabeth's sole legitimate representative in Grenada, and hence was thus the only lawful authority on the island. In accordance with Commonwealth constitutional practice, Scoon assumed power as interim head of government and formed an advisory council which namedÂ Nicholas BrathwaiteÂ as chairman pending new elections. TheÂ Grenada National PartyÂ won the elections in December 1984 and formed a government led by Prime MinisterÂ Herbert Blaize.
American forces remained in Grenada after combat operations finished in December as part of Operation Island Breeze. Elements remaining performed security missions and assisted members of the Caribbean Peacekeeping Force and the Royal Grenadian Police Force, including military police, special forces, and a specialized intelligence detachment. TheÂ Point Salines International AirportÂ was renamed in honor of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop on 29 May 2009, his 65th birthday.Hundreds of Grenadians turned out to commemorate the honoring of the event. Prime MinisterÂ Tillman ThomasÂ gave the keynote speech and referred to the renaming as an act of the Grenadian people coming home to themselves.He also hoped that it would help bring closure to a chapter of denial in Grenada's history.
25 October is a national holiday in Grenada, called Thanksgiving Day, to commemorate the invasion.Â St. George's UniversityÂ (SGU) built a monument on its True Blue campus to honor the American servicemen killed during the invasion, and marks the day with an annual memorial ceremony.
========== End of 82nd Airborne Division - Wikipedia ==========
Many US marines jumped from military planes over Grenada. Walker was among
them. Those young brave Americans were all alive when they parachuted, but not
all landed alive... some of them were dead. Some others were badly injured.
"But Beny" Walter said "The Cubans all run away like rats after we landed, settle down
and shot back. Their slogan changed from "Patria o Muerte" (Our Country or Death)
to "Corre o mueres" (Run away or Die). Walter was laughing, and I was too. The
American troops fought bravely as usually.
Today we are lucky in US because some of those by then medical students are now
doctors and specialists in our cities. American military, including Walter, finally rescued and saved those by then medical students. Thanks President Ronald Reagan.
While working at AW Toyota, Durham, North Carolina, US, I received the news that
John Faria, my brother in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, had lung cancer already spread out
to the liver. That information practically devastated me. John, the man who helped me
and my family when we came to Canada, the person who showed me how to use the
Toronto Transit Commission commonly known as TTC, he showed me how to prepare
a resume to look for a job, he gave me sweaters for the incoming Canadian winter, John even explained me that although the merchandise has a price tag in the display room, we need to pay a compulsory little bit more, called tax. Smiles disappeared from my face
after I received that terrible news. I just became a robot, going to work and home afterward, nothing else, day by day.
As a newcomer without Canadian experience I did not even know where to go, I emphatically said to myself "let's try to do the only thing that I know of: study and work". Thus by bus I went to a Roger Cable TV office looking for a job. At that moment there were no openings suitable for my qualifications but I met John, the best thing that has happened to me in North America. From that moment on we have kept almost 25 years of excellent and continuous connection.
Historically for most people the heart symbolized humility, love, compassion, good feelings, etc.Â If that is true then the heart occupied 95% of John's body. My wife, my daughter and I had nothing, John came to visit us many times, always bringing
chocolate cookies. And most important he showed me how to appreciate the beauty of Canada. He offered all of these when I just barely had a cup of coffee to offer him.
Walter became even closer to me after he was aware of the bad news in my personal life,
he helped more during those days, and he counseled me on how to overcome the situation
to at least some degree, and suggested new meanings in my life as well. Walter experienced a similar situation before when his close relative died of liver cancer only after 6 months of being diagnosed.
My friend Walter Rawlings died recently of cancer too, just 6 months after being diagnosed. He was a good worker, a good friend, a good family member and -very specially- a good American.
Thanks Walter. I will never forget you.