A U.S. CHAMPION IN ICE DANCING 


And a Proud Father, Bernard F. Hillenbrand


On April 17 in Salt Lake, Utah my 52 year old 6.2 ft 200 pound son John Hillenbrand and his partner Jessi Gilmore won the 2011 U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championship in bronze ice dance. They were awarded Gold Medals.

Here however is the rest of the story. For many years he has great pain in both knees. It cannot be cured by surgery or replacement. He loves to skate and is a very determined and motivated person. Typically of him he has focused and worked long and hard for this recognition.

He altered his life style. For example are rarely used elevators because the stair walk strengthens his legs. He walks during most of his lunch time. Weather permitting he cycled to and from work.
For several years three mornings a week at 4:00 AM he has rented the ice and practiced for an hour.

My son’s determination and courage gives us a special blessing and an enormous feeling of family pride and Thanksgiving. He has built great family support. His sister Lisa Hillenbrand came from Cincinnati, Ohio and his sister Susan Avallon and her twin children Quinn and Perris came from California to joined John in Salt Lake, Utah to cheer him to victory.

Knowing my son my guess is that he is already preparing for a repeat for next year.

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MY LAST DAY IN COMBAT  

MY LAST DAY IN COMBAT

By PFC Bernard F. Hillenbrand.

My first day in infantry combat was off Omaha Beach, France well after D-Day. As an infantry replacement I was disembarking from the Belgian troopship Leopoldville (which was sunk on Christmas Eve drowning several hundred soldiers). As I descended the rope ladder to our Landing Craft Infantry (LCI), my feet were inches above a Second Lieutenant. . With no warning a huge wave hit the landing craft and smashed it against the side of the ship crushing the officer to instant death. I was covered with his blood as in a last desperate move I successfully leaped into the descending LCI.

I joined Company G. of the 16th Regiment of the First Infantry Division (the Big Red One) in Namure, Belgium as we began our assault on Aachen, Germany. Our Division surrounded this historic city. Our 16th Regiment attacked g on the north side; our 26th Regiment drove through the center of town and my 18th Regiment attack to the south. My company captured Crucifix Hill the gateway for Germans to get reinforcements or to retreat. After several more days of fierce fighting the town surrendered and our division was sent into the Hurtgen Forest. This battle was a blood bath for both the Germans and for us. Once it's started it continued interrupted by the German breakthrough in the Battle of the Bulge and thus continued well after the Germans were driven back. It was the longest continuous infantry engagement of any American force in history.

My last battle I was an Infantry Rifleman and scout. My G Company of the 18th Regiment First Infantry Davison was advancing in the Hurtgen Forest near the village of Eisweiler, Germany. It was November 22, 1944. There was about three inches of snow. My major job as a scout in an attack was to lead the squad and frankly to draw enemy fire to assess German defenses. At times my job also was to maintain contact with American units to the right and to the left to be sure that we did not tangle and fire on each other. The forest was still dense but under almost constant artillery fire from both sides. The German units had time to dig deep defenses as this area was part of the support system of the famed Siegfried Line. This was the great barrier designed to protect the German home front.

The Germans were falling back upon their supply lines and we were moving farther away from ours. This put new strains upon our supplies of fuel and ammunition and all the necessities of war. These came from the United States, crossed the English Channel and were transferred by floating trucks called Ducks from Omaha Beach in France and shipped by Red Ball Express to the front.. Our morale was high. We were winning. German morale was low. They were now fighting for their survival and their hope lay in the belief that their secret weapons like the rockets, jet aircraft and super tanks would lead to victory. They also hoped that the allies would break up and join the Germans in fighting Russian communism.

My immediate concerns in my tiny part in a great war were to be an effective scout for my comrades and in the process to keep from getting killed. On that day we started at first light and were under constant artillery and motor fire. The greatest terror however was the presence of land mines. They were of two kinds. The large ones were designed to blow up tanks. The smaller ones were anti-personnel. They are designed to mostly inflict terrible wounds. The favorite of the Germans was the “Jumping Mine”. This was made of wood and designed to leap a few feet into the air before it exploded. It inflicted wood fragments that were difficult to detect on X-rays. They caused loss of arms and legs. However our greatest fear was the loss of manhood.

The simplest things in combat become major problems. For example, just moving in an attack, we were burdened with sixty or more pounds of weapons and ammunition. In addition we were in heavy woolen uniforms and back packs with food and blankets. It was freezing cold and yet with the slightest motion we were soaked wet with perspiration. Our feet and most of our bodies were constantly wet and our feet swollen.
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Profound fear was constant. Strangely enough the great antidote for fear for me was my sense of duty to be a good soldier and proud member of my Division. My life depended on my comrades and their lives depended upon me. This can only be understood by those who have experienced combat. It is a bond that helps you keep your sanity.
There is another great factor for survival in infantry combat. It is profound fatigue. It becomes almost like a drug. It deadens your senses to the extent that you can do terrible things with ease; things that would be impossible were you rested. The Army clearly understood these from the get go. There is a mandatory training film called “Kill or Be Killed”. It is posted everywhere in the training camps but is not needed on the battle field.

We moved through the forest parallel to a narrow dirt road. We drew machine gun and mortar fire most of the day. We lost many men. We also eliminated several fortified places took some prisoners and inflicted casualties. As the day progressed more and more of the trees were destroyed by artillery from both sides. Shells that burst in a tree are terrifying because the blast and shrapnel rain down on you. An open top fox hole is no protection. We suffered enormous casualties most of whom were brand new replacements. It seemed to me that this day would never end. Dark comes as a blessing to all infantry men. The forward motion comes to a halt. .It is now time to dig a fox hole and cover it with wooded branches to afford some protection from the constant shelling.
Certain men become vital to your survival. They seem to know more about war than
do you They are leaders who you know have your best interest at heart. In war your salvation depends on obedience to orders. However, you have far more respect to a comand when you admire the man who is giving it. My hero was Staff Sergeant Bodner. He was very private and I don’t even know his first name.
I do know that he landed with the First Infantry Division in North Africa. He was in the assault force in the invasion of Sicily and on D-Day in Normandy. He was very proud of our BIG RED ONE. He had been at Kasserine Pass in Tunisia and felt a profound sense of loss not so much that the division was overwhelmed by German tanks but that some of the soldiers ran in panic.

We had come to the end of the winding forest road where it entered into a large open space. There was a bank about 12 feet high on one side of the road. Bodner asked me to help him lay two large anti tank mines at the head of the road. The earth was frozen solid so we lay the mines on the surface and covered them with snow so that they would not be visible to approaching Panzers. The two of us then climbed to the top of the bank and together dug a shallow fox hole. Somehow we dug through the frozen ground and the roots of a tree. I carried a bag of six rifle antitank grenades. These were about six inches long and fired from my M1 rifle. It is fitted at the muzzle and requires disassembling the rifle and taking a rifle cartridge, removing the bullet and plugging the tip with soap. Once the rifle is fitted it cannot be fired as a rifle until it is refitted.

It was a terrible night. The artillery increased in intensity and the trees were cut down like wheat in the field. Our hole was down maybe three feet and we had a couple of limbs over the top. The war finally caught up with Sergeant Bodner. At the height of one barrage he said he was going to cross over the road to the basement of a burned out barn. He was determined. I got on top of him and held him in our position until dawn. It was a struggle and Bodner started to break up. Somehow I kept him down but just at day light he won. He broke loose and jumped out and ran towards the barn.

I opened a can of C ration and took one bite when I went black. I was unconscious. When I came to I was outside the fox hole and could see that it was appeared to be a mortar hit. My first view was my left hand. It was swollen and looked more like a piece of meat than a hand. The snow was bright red and I realized that I had lost a lot of blood. I felt blood flowing form my shoulder and down my back. It was obvious that the Germans had spotted our position and I had better move.

I crawled back from the edge. There were more mortar rounds and continuous shelling. As I started back to the command post a replacement the Lieutenant who I did not recognize took one look at me and asked it I could make it unaided to the aid station which he said had been established up the dirt road in the basement bottom of a burned out farm building. I told him I could. I started to move through the snow toward the road when another barrage started. There was slight depression in the snow and I dived for it. At that instance our runner Harry Kolasa came and stumbled in on top of me. At that instance a huge shell hit the tree above and huge pieces of steel hit Harry in the back and killed him instantly. I was covered with his blood and mine.

I next staggered to the road and followed in an old tank track careful not to get out to the rut and hit a land mine. I also had a separate fear that I might pass out in the snow and freeze to death.
I managed to reach the aid station with the great relief in my knowledge that once there my chances of survival were excellent. In the next 18 months I served temporarily as limited service in France and Germany to relive our crowded hospitals. At he wars ended I returned to rehabilitation. I had surgeries and rehabilitation in Germany, Belgium, England and France and three American hospitals. My left hand was partially restored as were my other wounds. I was discharged June 14 1946 after slightly over three years service.




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A MISNAMED MYSTERY DISEASE  

A MISNAMED MYSTERY DISEASE

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is one of many mystery diseases not in the public eye because it is incorrectly named; has no prominent victim; has been cruelly ridiculed and is only diagnosed when its symptoms do not match any other diseases. Most humans after a vigorous work day go to bed fatigued. Fatigue is no big deal. CFS is, however, a very big deal. It is not caused by an inappropriate life style; it strikes with no apparent cause; it often comes on without warning and brings on a whole array of associated pains and disabilities. It is a democratic disease disabling general populations with 1 million in America and 27 million world wide. It brings often long time sufferings for its victims and their loved ones. It causes unemployment, destroys careers and marriages and is very costly to society.

What can be done? Unfortunately we are still in a deep recession. Today’s anti-government debt reduction atmosphere works strongly against this Advisory Group’s effort to focus federal attention on a diagnosis and cure for CFS. In reality CFS is in a fiercely competitive funding battle against more widely understood diseases like cancer.

The history of our fight against polio gives us hope. My generation saw photos of polio victims confined to artificial respirators we called “iron lungs”. We knew that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was crippled by polio in 1921 AT AGE 39. In 1938 he established the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis both to find a cure and also to care for the victims. American compassion and generosity lead to the “March of Dimes” and ultimately to Jonas Salk and the miracle vaccine. Keep in mind that this was the depth of the really Great Depression. A dime or ten cents was an hours pay for many workers and would buy two bottles of coke or a children’s Saturday afternoon at the movies.

A similar effort of a prominent person leading a noble cause to fight Parkinson's disease is now underway led by its most prominent victim the actor Michael J. Fox.

There is another cause for hope. We may find a skillful and deeply determined man or woman who will dedicate a life to finding a diagnosis and cure for this scourge. A shining example was my friend of fifty years Dr. Baruch Blumberg .He died last April 5. He was a Nobel prize-winning biochemist and medical anthropologist who discovered the hepatitis B virus that causes liver cancer. He then helped to develop a powerful vaccine saving millions of lives. Early each spring he would circulate an annual letter reporting on his research in every nook and cranny of the globe. CFS needs a champion with his great skill as a doctor, his unbounded curiosity and his determination.

It is my personal hope and belief that once the American public understands the seriousness of this disease we will mobilize our vast medical resources and our genius for organization and find the cause and cure.

Prepared for CFS Advisory Committee Testimony-May 11, 2010
Rev. Bernard F. Hillenbrand retired

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SAME SEX MARRIAGES 



We Americans at any one time has focused our disrespect and even hatred upon various groups. Historically this includes Indians; Irish; Chinese; communists; Japanese-Americans; German-Americans; Africans; Jews and Muslims. For example our United States Constitution declared that for representation and taxation five Africans were to be counted as three whites .American women have traditionally been considered second-class citizens without the rights of full citizenship such as voting.

Homosexuals have been singled out for particular scorn. They have been ridiculed and abused since biblical times. My church which sponsored me for Ordination is committed to recognizing these brothers and sisters into full participation in our church and in our lives. After profound deliberation and in opposition to some of our church policy we voted to authorize our Pastor to allow same sex marriages in our church.

Our Bishop who we both respect and love summarizes the issue in this Email:


Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Baltimore-Washington Conference,

On Sunday, September 26, the congregation of Foundry United Methodist Church voted (377 to 8) to adopt a policy that allows the church building to be used for wedding ceremonies for gays and lesbians. The lay leadership requested that the district superintendent be present for this vote, which was taken at a church conference. To ensure the denomination was represented, I instructed the superintendent to be present and to insure that the United Methodist position was communicated during the meeting.

The policy was developed and presented by the laity of the church after months of study and discernment. It states that the congregation is committed to being United Methodist and working within the denomination to change The Book of Discipline. Performing same-gender marriages has become increasingly discussed by congregations in Washington, D.C. since the passage of the Marriage Equality Act in March of 2010.

We in The United Methodist Church are divided over the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the church. Since 1972, every General Conference has debated full inclusion. There are passionate arguments using Scripture, tradition, reason and experience from those who are opposed to the church fully including gays and lesbians and from those who are calling for full inclusion. I recognize that good people of faith will disagree about the church's position on matters of faith, theology, ecclesiology, culture, and polity. I grieve when our differences divide us and set group against group and people against people. I mourn that sometimes differences are turned into anger and even hatred.

In the midst of differences, United Methodists are guided by the Book of Discipline. The Discipline is clear that we "do not condone the practice of homosexuality (Book of Discipline paragraph 161F) and it is a chargeable offense for a clergyperson to conduct a holy union or marriage for gays and lesbians (Book of Discipline paragraph 2702.1.b). We also "implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons" (Book of Discipline paragraph 161F).

Foundry members report they based their actions on the church's constitution, which states that "in the United Methodist Church no conference or other organizational unit of the church may be structured to exclude any member because of race, color, national origin, status or economic condition."

As your bishop, I serve the whole church and I commit to work with all people. In the midst of these difficult matters of the church, I will do all I can to be fair and compassionate as I work to maintain the unity and witness of the church. As a bishop of the church I am responsible for upholding our Book of Discipline and will process and follow through with any complaint or charge against a United Methodist clergyperson of the Baltimore-Washington Conference who performs a same gender wedding or holy union.

I call upon all of our clergy and laity to pray for one another in the midst of our differences. I encourage you to be bridge builders within our conference, churches and communities so that differences may be expressed and we continue to live and minister together as the body of Christ. I call upon you also to practice the discipline of holy conversation with someone you disagree with about any issue in the church. I believe holy conversation about differences strengthens the body of Christ.

I pray for you daily as we make disciples for the transformation of the world. Thank you for being a United Methodist during some of the most challenging times within the church. Your faithfulness in the midst of the church's struggle to make disciples, serve the poor, and proclaim righteousness and justice is a testimony to the power of God at work through you.

Peace and grace be yours in the name of Jesus Christ,

John R. Schol, Bishop
The United Methodist Church
Baltimore-Washington Conference

In conclusion I am very proud and pleased to be an Elder in our Methodist Church. It was founded in America at almost the exact time that the United States of America came into being. Our Church has been in the forefront of removing the hatred associated with groups that have been marginalized in our country. We welcome a fresh opportunity to lead. It is the right thing to do.

Rev. Bernard F. Hillenbrand

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ANOTHER CRAZY JONES! 

The last crazy Jones was Jim Jones the religious leader of ‘‘Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple” in Guyana who lead 900 of his followers to commit mass suicide The new Crazy Jones is Rev Terry Jones. He is pastor of a very tiny church in Gainesville Florida. He is not affiliated with any Christian denomination. He is getting his 15 minutes of notoriety with his pledge to celebrate the anniversary of the 9/11Bombings by the burning the Koran, the holy book of our brother Muslims. We can wonder if he will also burn his Christian Bible. It contains the Old and New Testaments which are also holy to Muslims. His timing is interesting. We are in the midst of the Jewish High Holy Days leading to Yom Kippur the Day of Atonement on September 18. It is highly probable that in their worship service our Jewish brothers and sisters might recall “Crystal Night” and the Nazi book burnings and the ultimate consequence.

Craziness in an individual when it is inflamed by hatred and a passion for revenge is unfortunately very highly contagious. We see this in the great artificial New York City Ground Zero Mosque controversy. The highly respected ecumenical leader Iman Feisa wants to build a Muslim oriented spiritual center a few blocks from ground zero. The center is planned to be almost identical to our thousands of Christian Young Men’s (and Women’s) Christian Associations. I am firmly on his side. If I were still a pastor I would try to organize my congregation to bus to New York City to lend our hands and money to help the Iman build his dream.

Jones’s fire designed to foster Anti Muslim hatred can do immediate American political harm. The “Always Vote No” Republican Anti Obama campaign is based in part on hinting that the President is a foreign born, a dangerous socialist and secret Muslim. It is working. How else could a large percent of Americans see a copy of Present Obama’s birth certificate, read his immensely popular two books on his childhood, and hear him denounced by his long time Christian Pastor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright then announce that they believe he is not a native born American, is a Muslim and a mystery to the American public?

However the threat of burning of the Korans impact on the coming Congressional elections while unfortunate it is nothing compared to what can easily arouse the hated and fury of I, 500, 000, 000 Muslims world wide. We have been dealing very ineffectively with a tiny number of Muslim terrorist extremists in our endless bloody twin wars in Muslim Iraq and Afghanistan. It therefore seems prudent to pay attention to General David Petraeus our anti-terrorist Military Commander. He warns of the devastating military consequences of burning the Koran and making the entire Muslim world our sworn enemies.If this seems alarmists consider recent history. Bin Laden and a handful of Muslim extremist hiding in Afghan caves and with no military resources hijacked civilian planes and destroyed the Trade Center and part of the Pentagon. That was nine years ago tomorrow.




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