Author's Bio.

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Mushroom Montoya circumnavigated the globe aboard the USS Trippe DE1075 after killing soldiers, woman and children in Viet Nam. Now, as a shaman, he heals the planet one person at a time. Mushroom Montoya has an active shamanic healing practice in Long Beach, California and he teaches at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Cal State Univ. Long Beach.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Phone Call To Mom from Subic (an excerpt from Chapter 41 - Viet Nam Body Count)

In honor of Mother’s Day, I am posting a segment of one of my phone calls from the phone exchange in Subic Bay in 1972.
“Are you going to church on Sundays?” my mother asked.
            “Mom, there's no church on the ship, there is not even room for a chapel.”
            “I know that.  But aren't you in the Philippines?  I know they have a church there.  It's a Catholic country.”
            “OK, Mom.  If I'm here on Sunday.  Did you get my last letter?  I included a photo of me in the ship's repair shop.  It's for Jeremy.  What was his reaction when you gave it to him?”
            “Cochino!  I can't give that to him.” [cochino means nasty or obscene in Spanish]
            “Why not?”  I asked, “Why are you calling me cochino?”
            “Your picture shows you sitting in front of posters of naked ladies.  Cochino! I can't give that photo to your baby.”
            “Mom, I didn't se...”  I stopped talking. My face got hot as I remembered where we shot that photo: in our ship’s repair shop with Playboy, Oui and Penthouse centerfolds plastered on the bulkheads.
            My mother was laughing.  She had a way of setting me up to tease me.  She did it again.
            “I'll cut out the naked ladies and give him the picture,” she said.  “Cochino!”  She laughed again.
            Click, click, “Excuse me, this is your one minute warning.” Click, click. 
            “The operator just cut in telling me that my time is up. I gotta go.  Love you, Mom.  Tell everyone I love 'em.”
        “I love you, too.  Cochino!  Go to mass on Sunday.” Click, click.  Her laughter was the last thing I heard before the line went dead.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Phoning Home, an excerpt from Chapter 41 - Viet Nam Body Count.

We had to wait until we reached Subic Bay, Philippines, before we could make a phone call when we were fighting in Viet nam. We made our phone calls from the phone exchange building on base.

            Norman and I walked down the ship's gang plank and half way across the Navy base to the Subic Bay telephone exchange.  The mugginess of the night air oozed drops of sweat down my back.  My heart ached in anticipation of hearing my two year old son's voice.  As we walked under a grove of tall trees, I leaned over toward Norman and asked,  “Are you going to call your parents or your girlfriend?” 
            His eyebrows shot up as he replied, “Linda, of course.  I know you're calling home.”
            “You bet I am.  I want to talk to my son.” 
            “Will he recognize your voice?  You've been away for a long time in that kid's life.”
            Norman's words stung.  I hadn't seen my son since I came on board, five months ago, nor spoken to him since we set out to sea, 3 months ago.  The little one story, white stucco telephone exchange with its red clay tile roof reminded me of the Spanish style houses back home, making me more homesick than ever.  Cigarette smoke billowed out of the entry to the telephone exchange.  It seemed as if everyone, waiting to make a phone call, puffed on a cigarette.  Since I didn't smoke, I took a seat near the open door. While we waited for a phone booth to become available, we overheard half the conversation from the phone booth closest to us.
            “Hi Mom.  How are you?  I'm fine.”  A huge smile lit up the sailor's face as he talked on the phone.  “No.  The food isn't as good as yours, but it's healthy enough.  Yes, they give us fresh milk.” His eyes brows scrunched together. His mother must have said him something he didn't want to hear. Tilting his head into the phone, he blew cigarette smoke slowly while holding his cigarette next to his temple.  “I can't tell you that over the phone.  I don't know how long we'll be here.  Thanks.  I appreciate that.”  Rolling his eyes, he said, “Yes, mom, I pray every night...”
            Norman tapped me on the shoulder, pointed to the sailor that we were eavesdropping on and said, “Sometimes it seems as if every mother has the same script that they say on the phone.  I betcha that if I called home, that I would be saying that same exact thing to my mom.”
            “You've got to admit, Norman, that our being out here scares the hell out of our parents.  Hell, it scare me.”
            “Yeah, that's for shua.” Norman said with his Boston accent.  “But what bugs me most is that we've got to be careful not to say anything over the phone that the censors won't like.”
            “I want so badly to tell my dad about blowing up the church,” I said.  “Maybe he'd have an idea about what to do?”
            Norman grabbed my arm, pulled me closer to him and whispered, “Don't even think about opening your mouth about that.  The censors will cut your call and throw your ass in the brig so fast, you'll think that you started to make your call in the brig.  You’re better off talking to your dad about the whores in Olongapo.”
            “I won't talk to my dad about whores, my brother maybe.  I bet the censors will be getting horny listening to you talk to your girlfriend,” I said.
            “Fuck 'em.  Let 'em beat their meat while they listen, I don't give a fuck.” 
            I heard the operator say, “Montoya to booth number four, Montoya to booth number four.”...

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Beating Missing Ship's Movement

July 1972 on the USS Truxtun, DLGN 35. The Officer on Deck received a phone call the morning the ship was scheduled to leave. “Good Morning, Sir,” The woman said, “I am B…’s wife. He won’t be coming to the ship this morning.”
“We are sailing to Hawaii in an hour. He can’t miss ship’s movement,” the officer said. “Please put him on the phone.”
“He can’t come to the phone. Last night I got him so drunk that he passed out. I did it on purpose. You took him to Viet Nam for months. I know you are only going to be gone for two weeks. You can have him back then.”
“Missing ship’s movement is a serious offense,” the officer said.
“I don’t care. And don’t try to find us. I talked him into bringing me to a hotel. You’re not going to find us.” She hung up.
The ship left without my shipmate. When the ship returned, my shipmate was taken to the XO. My shipmate was expecting a severe punishment. To his surprise the XO said, “You’d better get your wife under control.” No punishment. He made out like a bandit.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Missing Ship’s Movement

     Missing Ship’s movement is a terrible thing to do. The punishment can be severe. During the USS Trippe’s (DE1075) around the world cruise, one of our shipmates went out with a hooker in Sri Lanka. (It might have been somewhere else.) They took a taxi to her place. He awoke with a hangover. He was alone. The hooker was gone. He got out of bed and found his pants, but not his shirt, shoes, or wallet. He wasn't sure where he was. His head throbbed. And then he remembered that the ship was scheduled to leave that morning. He went oustside and tried to get his bearings. 
     He quickly searched the area for his shirt and shoes, hoping that whoever had robbed him had discarded his stuff nearby. No such luck. He ran barefoot, quite a way before reaching the dock. The ship had already pulled away. It was too far for anyone to hear him yell. 
     He begged the men with boats to take him to the ship. But since he had no shirt, no shoes, and no money, they gave him no service. He was stuck. He found his way to the American Consulate. The Consulate flew him to the ship's next port. 
     At Captain’s Mast, my shipmate was busted in rank, fined, and restricted to the ship for the remainder of the cruise. He had to re-pay government for his flight.He missed out on some very nice ports.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Departing Pearl Harbor

July 1973. The bright Hawaiian sun made our dress whites sparkle as we stood at attention on the weather decks of  USS Truxtun. The warm breeze blowing across Pearl Harbor ruffled our pants. It was a perfect day to sail out of the harbor. We were not on a pleasure cruise; we were sailing to Viet Nam. My thoughts were a mixture of wishing we could stay in Hawaii and worry about my going back to Viet Nam. All of a sudden, my mind started doing summersaults trying to discern what my eyes were witnessing. My brain rapidly cranked out possible explanations and then quickly tossed them out as being impossible or stupid.
Thought number one: Who would be stupid enough to swim under our ship while it is moving? 
Thought number two: Who would be stupid enough to swim along our ship while it is moving? 
Thought number three: Who would be stupid enough to swim with all their clothes on?
I stared at the swimmer. Those clothes were dungarees. Someone must’ve jumped overboard. And then the man overboard alarm went off and we all ran to our designated man overboard stations. Who jumped? We all wanted to hear. It didn’t take long to figure out who. And then we ran back outside to watch the tug boat that had picked up the soggy sailor. His name is Joe Young. He had already been to Viet Nam three times and he had no intention of going a 4th time. (or maybe that would’ve been his third time.) Joe was brought back to the ship. He was out of the Navy 30 days later.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Viet Nam Follows Me

Viet Nam follows me
Stepping on my heals
As she punctures my back
With a long syringe
That stings and burns
With memories of young boys
Being blown up
By a kaboom and a flash.
Their arms, and legs,
Torsos, and heads
Scream in unison
Scattering and settling
With the dust.
A pair of green pants
With their legs still inside
Is all that remains.
I  hear their mothers wail
And cry for their dead sons.
Guilt slithers around my throat
Making me choke and cry
For my own dead son.
Is his death the price
The price I must pay
For my inability
To stop the war,
To stop the guns,
To stop the kaboom,
To stop the flash,
To stop the deaths
Of those young boys?
My eyes replay
The killing flash
Over and over
As my gut wrenches,
And twists and turns
The memories of
The bombing,
The killing,
The chilling
Death is forever.