10 Things People Might Not Know About Literary Fiction Novelist J.R. Hauptman

10 Things People Might Not Know About Murder Mystery Novelist J.R. Hauptman

J.R. Hauptman is the author of the murder mystery novel, Coming for Money, but we have asked him to tell us ten things we might NOT know about him. Here are ten things people might not know about murder mystery novelist J.R. Hauptman. Enjoy!

1. I was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Infantry barely a month past my twentieth birthday and a year and a half after my graduation from high school. My Tactical Officer in OCS, a tough former Big Ten football player, swore for six months that I was too young and immature to be commissioned and he was going to kick me out at the first opportunity. A week before graduation, he called me into his office and I figured this was the end. I nearly fell over when he asked me to be his assistant Tactical Officer at the school! I thanked him profusely but apologized that I couldn’t because I already had orders for Army Flight Training. He flew into a mock rage and barely able to keep a straight face, he gruffly told me that he wanted to go there also but that he had failed the flight physical due to all the broken noses and the resulting breathing restrictions he suffered from playing college football. He was the first and most important influence on my adult life. Ironically, I had my nose badly broken a few months later in flight school, but I was in, thanks to my TAC.

2. I was one of the very first Army Aviators selected to fly across the Pacific Ocean in a deployment ferry of three DeHavilland Caribou cargo aircraft to the Republic of Viet Nam. We were the first to attempt this sort of mission since the Air Force left the Army in 1948 and formed their own service branch. We carried double crews and took turns flying and sleeping and spent minimum time on the ground for refueling at Hawaii, Wake Island, Guam, the Philippines and eventually Viet Nam. I still have the telegram sent by the commander of the First Cav Division, General Harry Kinnard, wishing us Godspeed. MG Kinnard was a fine, soft spoken gentleman and a true warrior. He was with General Tony McAuliffe and the 101st Airborne at the battle of Bastogne.

3. When people first meet me, they don’t recognize my dogged determination and desire to master new skills and to enjoy new experiences. For example, when I went to work for the airlines, I was startled by the fact that due to health problems, only about one of four airline pilots made it to age-sixty retirement. It appeared to me that the key to good health was physical fitness through athletics. Some people enjoy working out for its own sake, but without athletic goals, I find it a bore. I wasn’t a great natural athlete in high school but I discovered that by learning all I could about a sport and developing the required skills, I could become pretty good at almost anything. I went from total novice skier to instructor in about three years. I played pick up ice hockey on the ponds as a kid and when I had a chance to really learn the game, I joined a team out in LA and hockey is still one of my favorites, especially with my Olde Tymer buddies, many of whom played and coached professional, college and high school hockey. Golf is a great game and I managed to once hold a nine handicap but it is just not enough conditioning for the time invested. Longboard surfing is my other great love. I went to Hawaii on R&R from Viet Nam and was hooked on surfing forever. One of my hockey guys was once a professional surfer and he got me back into surfing about ten years ago. I shoot for at least one hundred days per year and I build some of my own boards; I learned that on the internet. I am an accomplished fly fisherman, horseman, hunter and dog trainer. I don’t want to brag or bore the reader, but that is the way I approach activities that I desire and enjoy. I learned that approach from Captain Richard Klim, my OCS TAC Officer and mentor, whom I shall never forget.

4. Something else that surprises people when they see me driving around in my van with the hockey and golf bags in the back and a surfboard tied to the top, is that I am a pretty good singer and musician. My mother told me that from the time I was about three years old, I would bashfully go into the kitchen pantry and sing Gene Autry’s “Round Up Time In Texas.” I will forever regret that I didn’t take piano. As a result, and due to the fact I have a very good ear for pitch and harmony, I never got around developing music reading skills. I don’t read music, I decipher it. I serve as a cantor and music minister in our parish here in Colorado and I am always invited to sit in with the choir in our Florida parish. My tastes in music are eclectic; as a convert, I love the dear old German Protestant hymns and those of the Wesleys. Bill Haley, Chuck Barry and Elvis hit the airwaves in the mid-fifties when I was a budding teen and I consider myself a chartered Rock’n Roller. The Folkies subsequently took over and several of us formed a group and did Kingston Trio covers; we even had matching Ivy League shirts, to. In Viet Nam, we became alienated with the protest folkies and during the early years of the War, our professional Army was a southern one and our music was that of Johnnie Cash, Patsy Cline, Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. I had played trombone (mostly by ear)in high school band, including some classical pieces so I took a ten year hiatus from pop and listened to nothing but classical music, learning mostly that Beethoven’s Ninth is the greatest piece of music ever written. I have learned to listen carefully to music, trying to understand what the composers and performers are trying to communicate, excepting grunge, rap and hip hop. I can’t wait until my grand kids learn to hate those.

5. I am certain you will be surprised to know that I am married to a bona fide Saint. At least that is what our friends say when they meet us for the first time. I met her in Toronto when I traveled up there to pick up a brand new Army airplane and fly it back to the States. She was about half-way through nursing school at one of the traditional old hospital programs there and she and her classmates were celebrating the event at one of the old and venerable hotels in the heart of the most cosmopolitan city in our hemisphere. She was and still is, a strikingly beautiful woman and she immediately captured my heart. It is said in some quarters that every pilot needs an enabler to indulge his addiction to flying and other endemic vices. From the beginning, we had more fun together than I had enjoyed with any other woman. Her Canadian family took me in as one of their own without reservation as there was a strong military tradition among them and their circle of friends. Within a year and a half we were married and I bought her a copy of The Guide for The Officer’s Wife. She immersed herself in that seemingly romantic role with abandon, as I served in the Viet Nam War for almost two of the first three years of our marriage. I began to comprehend the effects on her when she and our baby daughter met me in Honolulu for R&R. The signs of strain never left her face as I gazed on her while she slept. I returned to the War as the Tet Offensive of ’68 was in full swing. Still wearing my Class A khakis and a huge flower lei, I found myself nose-down in the sand of Hue Phu Bai Airfield in the midst of a rocket attack just after we landed there. It was only a few weeks later that I saw that I was taking silly chances while flying in the A Shau Valley and I realized it was over for me and this War.

This summer we will celebrate our forty-fifth anniversary watching either the Broncos or our grandsons prepare for the fall football season. My wife is not perfect; she still will still not drink coffee nor eat fish or swim in the ocean. I now understand as our grandkiddies do, that their Grandma is capable of unlimited and unconditional love and forgiveness that is not to be risked. They are working on her halo as we speak.

6. You should not be tempted to place labels on my political views. I am not certain when I developed this aversion for the conventional wisdom but it probably began during my second tour in Viet Nam. I felt we had been sold out by LBJ after Tet One in 1968. Like many of my fellow pilots I thought we were so close to victory. My Dad was a Roosevelt Democrat who thought FDR had saved the middle class. I felt the Democrats had gotten us involved in Viet Nam then sold out to the “Peaceniks.” It took a while for me to realize that one of the parameters for our involvement was to avoid a land war with the Chinese. I have since read that if we had bombed the links to China and invaded North Viet Nam, that China, unstable from the Cultural Revolution would have surely been brought into the war. Victory therefore, was impossible with a high probability of nuclear escalation. Further, the Navy finally admitted that there was no torpedo attack on Tonkin Gulf Fleet. They were, however quite willing to go along with LBJ and McNamara’s lie and escalate the war. Viet Nam was a tragic case of wasted valor. But then, War is exhilarating. As Dickens wrote, “It was the Worst of times and the Best times.” And for me it was so. I have voted independent for the past twenty-some years with the exception of last years Presidential Election. President Obama has greatly disappointed me, heeding the neo-con arguments and expanding the current War in Pakistan and Afghanistan, “The graveyard of empires.” Further, he has not reined in the greedy Shylocks and Shysters of Wall Street and they feast happily on our flesh and treasure. The so-called “Conservatives” are even greater liars. Robert Taft would have never gone off in an undeclared war of adventure or turned over our banking and securities industries to these greedy thieves and their monopoly money. President Ike warned us of a “Military-Industrial Complex,” but for an example, look at the military appropriation bill that came out this past week. I am now an ardent supporter of Ron Paul. I heard him speak three weeks ago in Vegas and I believe his program is our only hope. I suppose I will have to hold my nose and register as a Republican since he will not be part of a Third Party movement I once hoped for.

7. You might find it difficult to believe that I coach football, despite the fact that I never played the sport. Well I did play flag football in Army OCS! Captain Richard Klim, our fifth platoon TAC officer, had lettered in the Big Ten and there were two maxims: first, we were expected to win the weekly “Good Housekeeping Award” for having the sharpest, best kept platoon billeting area and we would kick the butts of the other four platoons in flag football! After a couple of false starts, we accomplished both tasks for the rest of the fall season. Klim’s housekeeping strategy was comprised of his weekly threats to move in with us if we ever again lost the trophy. Eventually, we pasted fake cobwebs to the housekeeping trophy on its little wall stand.

There was no grand football strategy, only that we had to play like we were fighting for our lives, and for the lives of our teammates around us. And we did that. The inter-platoon matches were played at lunch hour where we fought vicious, pad-less battles in our platoon’s colored t-shirts while others napped. Ten minutes before class, we wiped off the dust, mud, sweat and blood with those cheap, dyed shirts and off we went. About twenty of us were chosen for our company football team and after the Officer Candidate Battalion Physical Training Test, we played a round-robin with the two Companies of the classes ahead of us. Klim coached us and his message was the same “fight for your lives and our lives,” along with a few tactical additions, “Blitz every pay on ‘D’” and “Sweep, Sweep, Sweep, REVERSE!” We already knew how to “sweep!” With brooms, of course!

It was a time when the Army had a great and proud football tradition. The European and Asian Theaters had great inter-service tackle football rivalries during the pre-Viet Nam era and in the States, Bolling Air Force Base and Fort Benning, home of the Infantry, were arch-rivals. Many former college football players came through Benning for Infantry after ROTC and commissioning and of course, high profile West Pointers Pete Dawkins and Bill Carpenter, MOH, choose the Infantry school. The Academy still plays hard and Army football will come back when the drone nerds fight all the air battles!

That fall, the Packers and Redskins came to Columbus to play an exhibition game and Klim got free tickets for our entire 50th Officer Candidate Company. I knew some of the names of the players: Paul Horning, Ron Kramer, Jim Taylorand Ray Nitschke, who were coached by Vince Some-Body. It was great and we swarmed around Klim and fawned on him like he was a Warrior God until he snarled at us, but we knew he was tickled pink! The next Monday morning, Klim gave the weekly Current Events Report that was normally delivered by one of us Officer Candidates. Wearing his darkest shades and steadying his shaking hands on the podium, he regaled us with his tales of the weekend party at the Officer’s Club with half the Packer and Redskin clubs that included teammates and opponents. He told us that the Packers were the team to I sometimes wonder about how often in my life I have come in contact, mostly as an observer, with people who, or events that are , in the limelight, but more about that later.

8. You still don’t believe I am a football coach! Football is a game of war. There are many athletic contests that are substitutes for war: the Olympic Games, track and field events, even most of the team sports demonstrate the skills of War! Football is a game of war itself! We Americans are the only nation that plays this kind of football.

Football is a game of war and we Americans are very good at war, at least we were when we only went to war for clearly defined goals. I understand war, ergo, I understand football. We are indeed good at war but I am not certain that a majority of us truly understand it. Football, like War, is a game of strategy and tactics, of X’s and O’s. Both war and football are more than that. War is addictive, so is football. I struggle to find the answer why this is so. Perhaps it is because both are extreme tests for young manhood. Certainly, war is a cruel trial for women, but football is likewise so; just ask them.

To understand war, you must understand the reasons men actually fight in wars. Not why they go to war, but why they fight! We go to wars for many reasons, most of which are forgotten by the time the war ends. All too often we go off to fight to achieve the purposes of someone else, most of whom are liars!

Too many times we fight for revenge, because “they did it first,” only to later discover that “they” thought they were only retaliating for our offenses. Most governments allegedly choose to go to war because of economics; whose system will survive, according to the zealots. The economic reasoning for individuals to go is that hungry humans will kill you for food! The worst reason of all is to go to war over religion whether that is a traditional creed, agnosticism or those who worship the pagan gods of militarism! The worst of us try to make Jesus a God of War!
The true reason men, and women, fight in wars is for the soldier, buddy or “sistah” on either side of them, whether they fight for the Army, Navy, Marines or Air Force, OR for the Red Army, V.C., Wehrmacht, Black Watch or Le Grande Armee!

You begin to truly coach football when you communicate to young men that they must commit themselves to play the hardest and to the limits of their potential for the team, for the unit, for the guy next to him.

9. You didn’t know I was, and still am, the president of my high school graduating class and was first elected as we began our sophomore year. The odds were favorable because there were only thirty-seven of us who ultimately graduated. Now there are thirty-two of us here in this life and we still aren’t certain about a couple of those. We had a lot of bright kids in that group, a couple of pilots, at least two nurses and aides, an attorney, several construction contractors, those in manufacturing jobs and some who stayed on the farms in our quiet little Central Pennsylvania valley. I became Presidente Perenniale by soliciting the ideas of my classmates, demanding full discussion of the issues and assigning the projects to those who were most articulate and passionate about supporting their case. In this manner, I have been able to avoid most of the heavy lifting on class projects. Turn the talent loose and get out of the way. Our latest project is the 50th Reunion of our Class of 1960, next Memorial Weekend of 2010. I talked to a few of the prime movers more than a year ago to get their ideas and the consensus then seemed to be that we should sort of do it the way most of the several reunions were handled over the past forty-nine years, as mostly simple and informal affairs. I did note there were rumblings; shortly before the reunion, one lady, let’s call her Meredith, said she wanted to have at least one reunion as a dress up, sit down dinner where we could visit and get reacquainted. Furthermore, she did not like the idea that we had invited the classes of ’59 and ’61 and even the same year classmates from a separate town and campus with which we had merged shortly before graduation. Those of us who were athletes and cheerleaders had many friends there because we had played together.

I talked to Meredith about this about two weeks ago and she seemed quite willing to go along with our tentative plans to invite those friends from the other classes. Well, to make a long story short, Meredith has kicked over the traces again, so stay tuned. This story is to be continued.

10. I sometimes feel I have lived a very interesting life as an observer, rather than as a participant. I have attempted to get truly into the game but I seem to find myself on the fringes, apart from the center of the maelstrom. Still, I feel myself being drawn ever inward. I once found myself walking past the American Embassy in Saigon and I saw General Westmoreland walking through the garden there, shortly before he and others in power made a major decision to expand the war. I left an election night celebration in Denver and stepped into an empty hotel elevator only to be suddenly joined by the famous U.S. Senator who had just won his first electoral victory. The morning after the 2004 elections I flew one the most economically powerful persons from the losing party to a meeting with a dozen or so persons of lesser but still immense, power.

Some of these events seemingly become more metaphysical. If you don’t believe me, read “My Best Flying Story, Ever” that is posted on other blogs, and which I hope will soon be posted on The Writer’s Life. Nearly every week, I am stopped by total strangers who say, “Don’t I know you from…….?” Or they say, “You look just like so-and so,……..!”
Just last week, fully knowing better, I answered two ladies in the doctor’s office, “No, but I am just an ordinary angel, sent into your lives!”

Despite their surprise, they seemed to like my answer.

J.R. Hauptman, author of The Target; Love, Death and Airline Deregulation, has been a professional pilot for nearly a half century. Barely twenty years old, he began as a military pilot and for almost two years he flew combat support missions in the Viet Nam War. Upon leaving military service he was hired by a major airline and was initially based on the West Coast. His flying career was interrupted by the turmoil that racked the airline industry during the early days of deregulation. In the interim, he worked as a travel agent, a stockbroker and even trained dogs and horses. In the late nineteen-eighties, he returned to aviation, flying jet charters and air freight. He concluded his career flying corporate jets and now spends his summers in Colorado and winters in Florida. He is completing his second work, a non-fictional social commentary. Autographed copies of The Target are available at his marketing website, www.caddispublishing.com. It is also available through Xlibris, Amazon and other internet marketers.

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