Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Life of Colonel James C. Bradford a.k.a. My Pappou

As written by his son, LTC James C. Bradford Jr.

"Dad was an interesting and fascinating man who lived a life spanning a full spectrum from humble beginnings to great success. He was a man who cast a giant shadow no matter what his environment was at the time. He started off live in the womb of his mother, traveling in a covered wagon from a cattle ranch in mid Texas to Las Cruces, New Mexico. His youth was spent in New Mexico where his dad had a ranch, farm and dairy. As a very young boy his chores included many tasks, usually done by grown men. These included caring for horses and cattle and assisting his dad with the planting and harvesting of the farms crops. It was not an easy life. It was without the modern conveniences of even the early 1940's (for example, it included plowing fields using a hand-held plow being pulled by a mule or riding the fences on horseback to check on barbed wire breaks and rounding up stray cattle.). But it built Muscles which later sustained him in frequent school yard fist fights and later as a teenage sailor as he marched his way to the light-heavy weight boxing championship of the US Navy.

He was smart and skipped two grades in elementary school and his nick-name "Whiz" stuck with him through old age. He graduated from high school at 16 and until he was 17 traveled the rails as a "hobo". It was the depression and no jobs were to be had. It was in the hobo camps near the rail yards that he learned of the dignity of a man no matter how impoverished one was. It was also in these camps or in cold and windy boxcars that he honed his fighting skills to defend his life from the nastier and more desperate men he encountered.

At 17 he enlisted in the US Navy and served four years, 1931-1934, as an ordinary seaman on destroyer-class ships. During this time he distinguished himself at sports including, boxing, stroke-oar on the "ALL NAVY" crew team, basketball, and football. As a result, he was selected to attend the US Navel Academy at Annapolis. This rare opportunity was subsequently lost due to "sailor mischief", but that's a longer story for another time. In the Navy he learned how to follow orders and observed examples of great as well as pool leadership. This paved the way for his own distinguished leadership style and his very successful career as an army officer for 30 years.

When he left the Navy and returned to New Mexico, his mother insisted that he attend the University of New Mexico from which he graduated in 1939 and also met his future wife "Ruth".
After his freshman year summer jobs were hard to get so he headed to the state of Washington where his brother got him a job as a lumberjack. After about a month of climbing and falling trees for a lumber company, where he ate fried rabbit, mashed potatoes and gravy three times a day at the lumber camp mess hall, he learned of a saloon down the mountain in a town serving the various lumber companies. He had learned to play cards from on of his older Navy shipmates (this included dealing from the bottom of the deck) and in fact was a "card shark". When he demonstrated his skill to the saloon owner he was hired as a "house dealer" - a job which paid more money (percentage of the house take) and his lifestyle was considerably better than that of a lumberjack.

After his sophomore year, the only job he could get was with a traveling circus as the "Wild Man". This consisted of him growing his hair and beard long, wearing only animal skins for clothing and putting on a circus act where he was caged with wild animals and he chased them around the cage attempting to catch something to eat. The finally of his act consisted of him biting off the head of a chicken and drinking the blood flowing from the chicken's neck.
After his junior year, as an ROTC student, he was sent to the National Rifle Marches at Camp Perry where he would have won the national rifle shooting championship if one clip of four rounds hadn't broken causing him to miss getting off two rounds.
Upon graduation he was the only member of his graduating class to obtain a job (the great depression was still on). He worked at Fort Wingate, New Mexico, on the Navajo Indian reservation teaching high school. There he became great friends with the Che Dodge, Chief of the Navajo Nation. He taught for a year until the army commissioned him a 2/LT - Infantry and called him to active duty. He rose rapidly through the ranks and two and a half years later was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel (it took me 14 years) and was a battalion commander fighting the Japanese in the South Pacific. When he came home at the end of the war he was assigned as the Professor of Military Science and Tactics at the University of Utah. This is the time when he coined the phrase that his life thus far had spanned "From bum (hobo) to college professor.".

He then attended and was graduated from the prestigious Command and General staff College at Fort Leavenworth and subsequently was assigned to Munich, Germany, again as a battalion commander and later as deputy post commander.

Next, the army assigned him to be the Scientific Director of the US Army Natick Research and Development Laboratories where equipage was developed and tested for future army needs. He was selected for full Colonel during this assignment and became one of the youngest colonels in the army.

After that he was assigned as senior logistical advisor the the President of South Korea and served in that theater. He never forgot his roots as an enlisted man in any of his assignments and often went on twenty mile, forced foot marches with the South Korean army. He was not one to ride in a jeep when the soldiers walked.

Upon returning to the states, he was assigned as the Senior Logistician and Deputy Army Quartermaster for the entire 2nd US Army. His next assignment was as the commanding officer of a US Army Garrison in Japan, covering all the Japanese islands.

Not included in this list are assignments classified as Top Secret which included great danger and for which no medals are awarded. Suffice it to say that he was a paratrooper, but did not wear paratrooper wings. He was trained at a clandestine site by CIA operatives of a special highly classified unit. Nor did he wear the Navy Seal Badge, but he swam ashore from a submarine to land on a foreign shore with a Seal Team. these assignments are not even listed in his personnel file as they are classified. The awards for valor only those of the spoken work of thanks from the leadership of the special unit. They could not be awarded officially, as the valor could not be officially recognized.

His last assignment before retiring in the mid 70's and moving to California was as the commanding officer of Cameron Station in Virginia.

Throughout this time he was a loving son, husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He taught us many lessons and soothed many a hurt or disappointed heart and helped in many ways known only to those he assisted.

Oh, he had his ups and downs, warriors tend to have some rough edges, but the bottom line is that he love and was loved by a great number of people. This extended not only to his near and distant family, but to the officers and men he served with in the navy and army.

I have heard more than a few of them say words to the effect of; 'There goes a man who young boys wish to be like and one which old men regretfully wish they had been.'

In summation, he was our dad, and a great one at that. He will be missed by more than a few of us."

I love you Pappou. I miss you every day. I hope I make you proud.


Well, I've done it. I've moved back to concord. I don't have a bed in my room. I sleep on a mat on the floor. I have a dresser, a book shelf, two small night stands, one of which belonged to my Pappou, and a couch. It's cozy, but most importantly it's compact and efficient. Don't get me wrong, I have boxes and boxes in the garage but for now I don't need any of that stuff. If I sit just right all I can see out my window are the tips of the trees and Mt. Diablo off in the distance. There is the constant sound of children in the streets and Greek music from my father's office. The house either smells of olive oil and herbs or of lady perfumes and lotions. Things are going to be alright here.

Monday, February 22, 2010


I know I'm a little late on the whole lent thing but I've finally made my choice. I'm giving up alcohol for lent. I've got plenty of reasons but I think the most significant one is that I'm trying to be a bit stronger in certain areas of my life. Like putting time aside to study, to run, to cook, etc. I find that alcohol often leads me to the shortest way around each of these and more. I end up watching episode after episode of some show I'm not that even interested in or ordering 20 bones worth of Thai food with the intention of having left overs or not getting out of bed until noon. Plus, giving up the drink for lent comes with the added bonus of saving me tons of money as well. So there you have it.

Friday, February 19, 2010


I move back in with my parents on the 28th. All things considered, it's the smart move. Wish me luck.

I'm an eater. If there is food I will eat it. If I get bored, I eat. If I'm procrastinating, I eat. If I'm stressed, I eat. I'm trying to break this habit. Moving back in with the parents presents some new obstacles, fortunately it also presents some new solutions. Yesterday for instance, when I grew bored of the tele, instead of heading to the kitchen I decided to go have a look around the outside of the house. I never expected to end up where I did; on a ladder with a scoop cleaning out the gutters on the rear (C side) of the house. I've never cleaned gutters before but there's a first for everything. Next time I go home I'll do the front and sides.

I'm also an organizer. Last night I sat in the garage at my parents house for about two hours or so. I had a couple beers and mentally sorted through all the stuff that my family has carried from house to house. There is some serious work that needs to be done in there. I'm pretty excited about this. We'll see how it goes. My dad, for some reason has a hard time letting go of things.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Last night I had a dream about a place that meant a lot to me. I had so many memories of being there alone and working things out. Of introducing my friends to it. I remember two or three times where I thought I forgot how to get there but ended up stumbling across it anyway. I specifically remember one of the nights I walked home alone after contemplating a problem I'd been having. When I woke up I tried to remember how to get there but for the life of me could not remember where it was. Not even what country it was in thinking maybe it was a place I had visited. It wasn't until after breakfast that I finally realized that I had never been to this place nor had I ever dreamed about it. That the memories I had were just some sort of dream deja vu. Anyway, there's been a sort of sadness about today.

It reminds me of a recurring dream I used to have as a child. I fell in love in my sleep when I was maybe about seven or eight. I can't remember exactly. There was a girl I met in a field. This may sound vague but when we were kids we spent a good deal of our time in fields. I don't exactly remember how we spent out time together but we both knew that it'd be a great deal of time before either of us saw the other. She gave me something. Something to remember her by and something that would help me find her. That morning, when my mother woke me up for school, the first thought through my head was to look in my clenched fist. Needless to say there was nothing there. I spent some time that morning in a panicked, desperate, sad state tearing through my sheets trying to find it.
I would have these dreams every year or so. Twice in a good year. And every year we were both a little older. Every time was brand new. I remember how my heart would sink in the morning as I'd slowly realize that I'd only been in my bed the whole night. I remember how hard it was to get up. How hard I would try to go back to sleep. How badly I wanted to trade this world for that. The days between dreams grew in numbers. It's been since I was in my mid teens since I've had one.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


I had a decent and productive day on Saturday regardless of a growing hang over and the lack of sleep the night before. The morning had started out with heavy rains and heavy skies. I decided to spend the day with my family in Concord. Besides, I wanted to pick up the bag I'd just ordered.

I spent the morning hanging in the kitchen with my mom. She was prepping for all the brothers and their wives to come over for the big game on Sunday. She had about twenty pounds of pork ribs to season and grill and there's nothing more I love to do than to hang in the kitchen chopping veggies and hacking up some raw ribs and slapping them with seasoning.

After grilling I was feeling a bit restless and decided to go fool around in the garage. I found some old metal and wood files and decided it was time I sharpened my old hatchet and the spade that my grandfather gave me from his war days. After smoothing out the nicks and putting a nice edge to my tools I went for a walk through the field with my sister. I had a mounting curiosity about weather I could start a fire with just a couple sticks so while out with my sister I managed to find a couple that I thought would work quite well for a bow drill.
After carving out a hole and V in the hearth, sharpening the peg/drill, and attaching some twine to the bow I gave it a shot. It didn't work so great. The drill I was using was too wet and the twine didn't have enough friction to turn it when I pressed down with significant force. My dad's interest sparked a little bit and a while later he asked me to come outside to look for a new drill piece. We managed to find a drier, longer, and rougher piece of wood and carved and fastened it into a sturdy drill. We tried again. This time we managed to make a fair deal of smoke and blackened sawdust/coal. We hadn't actually intended to make fire but just wanted to see if we could. We could.

After this we relaxed for a bit in front of the tv. I got to feeling restless again and challenged my dad to a game of pool. I can't remember how long it's been since I'd seen the thing with out it's cover on. I'm used to it only being used as a table, covered with plywood, to accommodate our large family. I had forgotten how red the felt lining was. Anyway, one game turned into two and two into four. I think we came out even, he won two as did I. Feeling satisfied with the day I was resigned to spend the rest of it hanging with my mom, eating pizza and watching tv.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


I need to do this in my lifetime.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I got it! I'm in! I got into the class i need, Fire Science 50, Intro to Fire Science.

Today I've got to go to the Valencia campus and buy the book for Fire Science 51A and catch up on the chapters I've missed. I've already missed one exam because the bookstore ran out of books. I don't want to miss the exam on wednesday too.
Then I'm gonna go to training, hit the bags, do a little work out and then home. I've got anatomy class tonight. We're still doing the chemistry part of the class. I hate that part. I can't wait to get past it.

I had a dream about camp last night. I think I'm gonna try to go and volunteer in the kitchen this year.