Monday, December 24, 2012

Harry’s High School Football Game

Harry’s High School Football Game
A Harry Miles Short Short
Ed Benjamin

Harry looked at the ball tumbling as it sailed its way down field.  He could tell it was headed straight for him.

He barely heard the crowds cheering as he gauged the approaching ball.  It was the opening game of the season.  It was a regional North Carolina tradition which had begun eight years earlier pitting the AA team of A.L. Brown High School of Kannapolis against the AAAA team from Grimsley High School in Greensboro.   Someone said it started when a former Grimsley ‘Whirlies’ star became the coach of the lesser ranked AA Wonders’ in Kannapolis about 60 miles away..  Traditionally, the Kannapolis team got stomped; or as the Greensboro pundits would declare, “they got their butts handed to them again this year.”  The Greensboro press likened the games as “practice sessions.”

No one knew why the tradition continued, but it did.  Now the Wonders were trying to upgrade their football program from AA to AAA.  The school expected to receive the AAA rating within the next two years.  As a result, the Wonder Football Boosters had lobbied unsuccessfully for the coach and the school to cancel this rivalry so that each season would not start with a major loss.   

All this meant little to Harry because he was focused on receiving the opening kick of the game and fulfilling his assigned job which the coach had assigned to him.  They had practiced this several times and Harry had been assigned to receive on the left side of the field while Gene, the fullback had the right side.

“Get the ball to Roger.” The coach had drummed into their heads time and time again and they had spent countless hours practicing various ways to do that.

Roger was a halfback the same as Harry and Gene was the fullback.  The Boosters had let out an agonizing cry when they lined up to receive the kickoff.  Normally, there was a special team to return kickoffs.  Both Roger and Harry were sophomores. This was the second season they had played North Carolina High School football and more often than not they started. Gene, a senior, was also on the field and he was the most experienced fullback beginning his third season of play.  The crowd was visibly upset and vocal.   After all, you don’t waste your starters on kickoff returns.

It was a simple plan.  Lateral or hand off the football to Roger Hobson, the fastest player on the team and let him work his magic.  The players had speculated that Roger would advance the ball to the forty or fifty yard line and give the Wonders a chance to score.  Most of the players were enthusiastic about this strategy since the Wonders had been scoreless against the Whirlies for the past four years.  The team members wanted desperately to get on the scoreboard.

Harry focused on the ball.  He had always had the ability to concentrate on the task at hand, a trait which would serve him well in the future. 

The ball landed in his arms and he began running cross field faking a handoff to Gene and tucking the ball against his side.  He saw Roger headed toward him and the handoff went smoothly.  The transfer took place at the three yard line and Harry continued toward the other side of the field pretending he still had the ball tucked inside.

He did not see Roger after that because of Dink Black.

Dink Black was a 300 pound junior who played Tackle for Greensboro.  There were rumors about Dink throughout the state.  First, the High School did not have a uniform big enough for Dink so the Whirlies had to go to the North Carolina State college football team for uniforms to fit Dink.  You did not want to meet Dink in a game, especially if you had the ball.  When Greensboro played him during the game, Dink would mow down the defensive line trying to get to the player with the ball.  He tired easily and wasn’t that good.  He never got credit for a tackle but when they played him, he made serious dents in the defensive line.  The Greensboro coach would play him about once or twice a game and on occasion when it was deemed that speed was not a problem, as a Special Teams member on kickoffs.  

Harry did not get to see the result of his handoff to Roger because when he reached the side of the field and turned as if to run the ball down field, he saw Dink running for him head on.
Harry quickly assessed the situation.  Dink had been running for about thirty yards and was obviously out of breath.  In a few spilt seconds, Harry imagined he felt the turf heave under Dink’s thudding feet.  He heard Dink’s labored breathing.  The realization dawned on Harry that Dink was still under the impression that Harry had the football.

There was no escape so Harry did the only thing he could think of doing.  He turned so he was facing full body toward Dink and held his arms out so Dink could see he did not have the football.  To his credit, Dink did try to stop.

Harry learned a valuable Physics lesson that day.  “A body in motion will remain in motion.” 

Harry did not really recover from the impact until the third quarter and it was minutes after the play that he learned that Roger amazed the crowd with his speed by running ninety-seven yards for a touchdown.  It was the first score against Greensboro in four years.

The enthusiasm among the team was so great that Kannapolis won the game 31 to 28, ended up with a 9-1 win/loss record, and became the North Carolina AA State Champions.

In one game, Harry learned the importance of coming back from a crushing blow, the value of surprise, and how enthusiasm can lift the human spirit. 

Harry’s best friend, Roger, never played football again, but that is a story for another day.

Author’s note:  Thank you for reading this story.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Ed 

If you are interested in how Harry did or did not apply these lessons flying company as an Air Force fighter pilot, you can check out Harry's War, available on Kindle or wherever digital books are sold.

Kindle Link is


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Teddy Roosevelt serves as a role model for Harry Miles

I am an unabashed admirer of Teddy Roosevelt’s remarks regarding an approach to life.

I am certain the quote is familiar to you.  It is one of my all-time favorite quotes.

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."
"Citizenship in a Republic,"
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

These words have helped me when I faced difficult situations. Although I have many examples; one that comes to mind was when the Air Force assigned me as the Maintenance Operations Officer at Bitburg Air Base in Germany in 1979.  

Right after I went to my new post, I realized that the wing has seriously over-flown its maintenance capability and unless drastic action was taken, the wing would not be able to carry out its assigned mission of training F-15 fighter pilots to counter the Soviet threat we faced.  Our wing and others like it served as the stopgap if the Soviets ever attacked in central Europe.

At Bitburg we practiced hard to counter the Soviet threat with exercises which simulated wartime conditions at least once a month.  These unannounced exercises require maintenance to generate missile loaded F-15s and to launch a great number of sorties.

We failed to supply enough airplanes to Operations during my first two exercises and failed miserably.  It became obvious that we had a lot of work to do if we were to regain the ability to carry out our mission.  

It was a critical situation.  I knew, given time, the enlisted people assigned to maintenance would overcome the situation. 

The senior NCOs in the scheduling shop created an aggressive maintenance schedule designed to get the aircraft back in shape and then I conducted a Production Meeting every day at 2 PM where the Non Commissioned Officers (NCOs) in charge of production and I reviewed the maintenance status and looked at the flying schedule for the next day.  These dedicated NCOs then came up with a plan to produce operationally ready aircraft to fill in the flying schedule.

All I really did was show an overhead transparency at the end of each meeting which condensed Teddy’s speech and read:


I condensed it because Production NCOs in Air Force maintenance squadrons don’t have a lot of time. 

Those NCOs came through.

I ran a little interference, like a offensive guard in football protecting the quarterback . . . I had 4 quarterbacks; the production NCOs from the 4 squadrons.  

I took a little heat from the senior leadership in the wing but fortunately, the Wing Commander backed me up at critical moments.

We supplied all the aircraft needed the next exercise; but the one following, we failed again.

Then we began a string of successes and I never felt prouder of the maintenance folks when I would stand up from my position in the Command Post and shout to the Operations position, “Where’s your pilots?  I have more airplanes for you!”  

I think Teddy’s quote exemplifies the kind of people I write about.  These are the people who inspire me.

Harry Miles is one of them.  He is an Air Force fighter pilot . . . one of the good ones.  He doesn’t quit.   

He has baggage but he does not quit.

In this debut tale, Harry Miles finds himself facing the ultimate test.

Flying his F-15C Eagle fighter over Iraq, Harry faces his demons in the form of two flights of four Iranian Su-27 Flankers aimed toward Harry with one goal in mind . . . to blast Harry and his jet out of the sky.

Will they succeed?

Will Harry prevail?

If you choose to read this tale, you will discover the prelude to Harry’s flight, how Harry responded, and the aftermath.

“Harry’s War” is available for 99 cents via digital download at the following eBook retailers.  You will get your money’s worth from the action sequence alone; but I hope you will understand and appreciate the real war I describe as well.

Amazon Kindle US:

 Amazon Kindle UK:

Barnes and Noble NOOK:
also available on the following:

Sony Reader

Apple iBooks



Thank you.

I hope you will be looking forward to the future adventures of Harry Miles.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The F-15C Eagle Fighter Plane is a Mean Machine!

I was privilege to be a part of the acquisition team which bought the F-15 Eagle for the United States Air Force (USAF).  From 1972 until 1974, I was a member of the acquisition and responsible for providing technical training and training equipment to train Air Force maintenance personnel on how to provide preventative maintenance and to repair unserviceable items on and off the airplane.

Then in the period 1977 to1981, I served as a senior maintenance officer at Bitburg Air Base in Germany supervising those valiant men and women who serviced, repaired and loaded missiles and ammo on the F-15.  While there, the wing transferred its F-15 A and B models for F-15 C and D models while still maintaining our defense posture to counter the Soviet threat.

The Soviet Union sought the counter the threat posed by the F-15 by designing, building and deploying the SU-27 Flanker (NATO designation).  Many air experts felt that the SU=27 Flanker was superior to the F-15 . . . but do not ever tell an Eagle Driver that. 

The F-15 acquitted itself well during both of the conflicts with Iraq and after the First Gulf War was the primary force performing Combat Air Patrol. (CAP).    

It is a well-known fact that to avoid fighting, many of Saddam Hussein's pilots flew their Soviet era planes to Iran.

My imagination wondered one day what would happened, with tensions mounting between the US and Iran, if Iran tried to take on the F-15 during a CAP patrol over Iraq. 

Would skill or technology prevail?

If I have piqued your interest, here are some links to my 99 Cent novella.

Amazon Kindle US:

 Amazon Kindle UK:

Barnes and Noble NOOK:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Harry Miles Against Eight Iranian Fighter Jets

Harry Miles, ace F-15 fighter pilot in the mother of all air-to-air battles against 8 Iranian fighters. . . . We pick up Harry in the midst of the air battle.

"Fox 1 on Flanker number 1."

Harry's throat was on fire.  He felt his breath come in spurts.  Even though he had selected 100% oxygen a few minutes ago, it didn't seem to help. Seconds ticked by like hours.

"Number 2 is a splash.  Two bogies headed your way supersonic. "

The third AWACS controller chimed in to advise Harry he had control of the missile,

Harry was too busy to hear.

He was out of AMRAAM missiles! 

Do I go in with the Sidewinders or exit? No, I’m not running!

Harry was trying to calculate when he might be in Sidewinder range when missile warning tones filled his ear.  He looked down at his cockpit display and saw 3 air-to-air missiles headed his way.  Both of the remaining Flankers had gotten within launch range.

Holy shit!

Harry jammed his stick forward and pulled his airplane down and to the right as he began evasive maneuvers to get away from the danger.  He managed to evade two of them but he didn't know if he was going to lose the third.

He had pushed the stick forward again and started to climb but it didn't seem to do any good.  His throat constricted and tightened.  Harry had tunnel vision and things were going black.  It felt like his consciousness was jammed into a cone with the exterior sides at 45 degrees angles and some giant force was pushing the sides together closing the gap of consciousness.  It seemed there were these two giant hands pushing at the edges of his mind pinching it and closing it.  The fear crept in.  His world spun.  Normally, he could handle the g-forces that all the F-15 pilots dealt with on a daily basis.  Lack of oxygen caused everything to turn gray.

Damn. Everything's spinning. Everything is going black. Did I get hit?

His body jerked in a convulsive spasm and when he did so, his hands pulled back on the throttle.  With the lack of thrust, his plane hit that combination of forces that all pilots dreaded. His airplane began to spin and gyrate in a 360-degree circle on a horizontal axis while careening down as gravity worked its inexorable force.  Known as a "flat spin," most pilots considered it the kiss of death.  The textbook answer requires the pilot to eject as soon as possible for there was no recovery.

Harry didn't consider ejecting.  He wasn't even aware his plane had gone into the "flat spin."  Lack of oxygen had caused Harry to black out."

This is one scene from the novella, HARRY'S WAR.

Amazon Kindle US:

 Amazon Kindle UK:

Barnes and Noble NOOK:

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Who is that Masked Man?

Harry Miles is a medically retired fighter pilot who lives near San Antonio, Texas.  Like all of us, he battles complex questions in his life.

Harry received quite a bit of notoriety concerning his exploits during an air battle in the skies over Iraq. During that air battle, Harry found himself in the battle of a lifetime.  There he was, at 35,000 feet above ground level, facing not one but eight SU-27 Soviet-era flanker aircraft piloted by Iranian pilots.  He did receive some help from a nearby Air Warning and Control Systems aircraft in the area, but pilots all over the world refer to Harry in hushed tones as one of the great fighter pilots in the post 9/11 era.  Whenever pilots talk about great air battles, the subject of Harry's conflict with the Iranian fighters arises.

If they know, many would be surprised at Harry's battles with his own confidence and his feelings of unworthiness.

Now he finds himself in the San Antonio, Texas working as a freelance private detective.  It seems unusual to most of the people who know Harry that he choose to be a Private Eye because of certain restrictions the State of Texas placed on his Private Investigators license.   Restrictions that no self-respecting investigator would allow.

There were some major aircraft manufacturers who wanted Harry to work for them because of his exploits over Iraq.  Harry has politely declined those offers.  

Harry works out of his house in Universal City, Texas and spends a major portion of his time battling demons. 

Harry is hard at work though doing research and planning a presentation which will give him his first big case.  If successful, Harry stands to receive a very large fee and provide victims of a killer justice. 
A novella, "Harry's War"  explains Harry's air battle, the aftermath, and his own personal fall from grace.

Who is that Masked Man?  What will he do next?

Many people are asking that question, particularly fighter pilots in the RAF.

To learn about his background, you can download "Harry's War" by Ed Benjamin at all eBooksellrs.

Here is the Amazon Kindle link for the US market:
Here is the link for Amazon.UK.Kindle: