Category Archives: Books

The Man In The Box

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I’ve just finished editing and publishing the memoirs of a remarkable man — Sam Jankovich.

Sam told me today that he feels bad because I am spending so much time on this project.  And this is what I told him:

Don’t feel bad Sam. I look at this project as a blessing. There are so many stories out there – we all have them. Many  pass through this world … people close to us …  and all we have of them is a box full of old photos in a closet– if that. I would love to know more of my dad, an immigrant from Norway who came to this country at age 19, along with a younger brother  17,  and friends from the old farm country of Norway.  Most settled in Butte and Spokane, but little is known of their life, either back in the “old country” or here in the US in those days.

What did my dad & mom think of FDR, Hitler, Stalin – the great depression – World War II? How did they learn English, What was it like in the early days in a brand new country?  Was he one of those dreaded “liberals” or “conservatives” Don’t really know.

So when someone like yourself comes into my life like you, with a compelling and interesting life, I’m all ears and eyes. You are of that “greatest generation,” and I want to know more – and I want others to know. You are a man of great character and I’ve learned from your life.

Yea – I’ve missed a few soap operas and movies along the way, perhaps missed a few golf rounds (I don’t golf). But I’ve gained a dear friend in the process.

So thank you for being a blessing to me. Thank you for letting me peer into your life – sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, page by page, place to place.

Your Typoist,

Don

Sent from Mail for Windows 10

From: Sam Jankovich
Sent: Thursday, March 30, 2017 6:05 PM
To:
Don Johnson
Subject:

Thanks for the call I feel so badly you are putting so much time into this project. I will get you names of key people tomorrow then on Monday. Most of the people at WSzU have passed. Thamkd

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Sam Jankovich–A Butte Kid Does Well

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“ … I worked in the Leonard mine which was the turning point of my life. I was put in a tunnel and was scared to death. I thought for certain I would not get out alive. I came home and told Patty that if I had to work in the mine we were going to starve. … “

How did this young man, a hard rock miner from Butte Montana, rise from the depths of a mine tunnel to one day stand beside two Presidents and among two National Championship college football teams? From a dirty and dangerous mine to stand beside Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testaverde and coaches of the caliber of Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson? How did this young man rise from that dark, cold mine shaft to become Chief executive Officer of the New England patriots? How did this man expand a football stadium in Pullman Washington from 24,000 to 39,000 seats – with no cost to the tax payer?

Sam Jankovich came to the surface of the Leonard mine and rose to the top of his chosen profession of athletics. From state championship teams in Butte — to assistant coaching at universities in Montana and Washington — to Athletic Director at Washington State and the University of Miami – to CEO of the Patriots. All along the way earning induction into the Halls of Fame of these institutions.

As the editor of Sam’s memoirs I learned the answers to these questions. Sentence by sentence – paragraph by paragraph – page by page – place to place. I found the answers in words like ‘character’, ‘loyalty’, ‘quality’ and ‘consistency’ bubbling up from the pages. I began to see the character of the man as golden threads woven through the fabric of his life and career. Part of the fabric and yet distinctly visible.

The story of Sam Jankovich is in these pages, but it is not a story of “I”. Rather, it seems subsumed and surrounded by the many stories of the “others” of Sam’s life. You will run across constantly recurring phrases as “… a wonderful man” “ … a wonderful person” “… a dear friend”, “a wonderful woman”

Sam Jankovich is one of the “old timers” I’ve become acquainted or reacquainted with in recent years. Others, along with their stories, have come to me from my US Navy past — some from that “Greatest Generation” of World War II, Korea, the Cold War and Vietnam. One of my Navy shipmates, and a friend, is a refugee from the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and a three tour Vietnam veteran. Another is a Navy veteran of those many World War II sea-battles in the South Pacific — followed by infantry combat in that very brutal Korean War.

These folks who have lived such consequential lives, and have left behind recollections of their lives, deserve to be remembered. That is why I have become passionate in doing what I can to further those remembrances.

I hope you enjoy the story of one such consequential life – the life of Sam Jankovich.

 

(Click on the book cover below to find Sam)

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Don Johnson – typoist and editor of Sam Jankovich

Loose Lips Sink Ships

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Grassley questions whether Clinton attorney had clearance for thumb drives

Official: More than 300 Clinton emails flagged for potentially classified info

Just how potentially serious is such a security breach?

The invasion of France at Normandy was the largest such landing in history and cost the lives of many thousands of allied soldiers. The landing was shrouded in much secrecy including deception to make the German defenders think that the landing would be elsewhere.

Had the landing plans been compromised,  it is likely the landing would have failed with many more lives lost and the course of the war would have changed dramatically, including the likelihood that all of German occupied Europe would have been lost to a Communist Soviet Union victory.

And the brave Seal Team 6 who went after Osama bin Laden – had this operation been compromised by loose lips, in all likelihood the entire team would have been wiped out and a significant victory handed to an Islamic enemy.


The Hillary Clinton security case needs to be aggressively investigated  and prosecuted. The full force of the law needs to be applied, including indictment, trial and  imprisonment, including life without parole.

The fact that she is a former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State, and now the leading Democratic candidate for President should not in any way diminish an aggressive prosecution of this case —  on the contrary, because of her extensive resume, all diligence should be applied to prevent such an individual from attaining the highest office in the land, and leader of the free world.

The Democratic Party should immediately disavow her as a candidate and the press should aggressively press for an aggressive prosecution of this case.

This is NOT a political issue – lives are potentially at risk because of such behavior.

Don Johnson – August 2015

Sr. Chief Rob O’Neill – A hometown hero

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I will be adding this to my book at: http://www.blurb.com/user/store/donanddiana

Don Johnson – December 2014

Kick-Off Event for The Book “I Didn’t Want To Worry You Mom …”

My wife Diana and I attended the 39’th annual USS BalchPorterfield reunion in early September, and like last year this was a memorable event. The reunion was held in Buffalo and was a week filled with activity and camaraderie amongst fellow shipmates and family members. If I have my numbers correct there were 22 of us sailors dating back to 1941 and through World War II … through the Korean War … through the Vietnam War … through the Cold War and on to 1969 when the Porterfield was decommissioned for  the final time.
Many family members were also there … sons & daughters- brothers & sisters, as well as friends, making it very much a family event. I think the total count was in the mid sixties.

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The flag you see above was the last flag flown on the Porterfield (DD-682).
The fellow on the right is Sam Thomas who was on the commissioning crew of the Porterfield in 1943 … he is called a “plank owner” and is a spry 91 years old.
The follow on the left is Steve Osbourne  who was on the decommissioning crew of the Porterfield in 1969.
The setting for this picture was the fantail of the USS The Sullivans (DD-537), a museum ship in Buffalo. The Sullivans is a Fletcher Class tin can … destroyer, the same as the Porterfield.

During this reunion I presented the video “I Didn’t Want To Worry You Mom … “ which was well received by the reunion members, and I received a number of compliments. Sam Thomas told me that “it brought tears to my eyes in places … “.  I created this video as an introduction and companion to the book, and it contains a selection of snippets representing some of the things that sailors get involved with at sea … in peace time as well as war time.

Following the video I presented a book to each of the sailors present as well as to the three widows in attendance. I also sold copies to anyone else interested.

I received many compliments for the book, both from the sailors and family members … Gene Beckstrom, a Navy veteran from WW-II and a Korean War Army veteran told me that some of the stories in the book brought tears to his eyes.  So these comments served to validate the work I have done in compiling this book, and thus I consider the 2014 Balch-Porterfield reunion to be the “kick off event” for the book and I  invite you to take a look at it at my online bookstore.

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After returning home from the reunion I received a phone message from a 90 year old Navy veteran from World War II.  Len Lohne recently traveled as an honored guest of Honor Flight to the World War II Memorial in Washington DC, and some of us at church were asked to send cards, letters and mementos to Len as he returned from his trip. I sent a copy of the book, and Len called to thank me for the book and tell me how much he enjoyed reading it … further validation of the message I intended … to honor those who served and gave so much, as well as the family members who were left behind.

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Best regards and smooth sailing …

Don Johnson Sept 2014

Irresponsible Choices: Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell

Irresponsible Choices – Thomas Sowell – Page full

The latest Gallup poll indicates that 14 percent of the people “moderately disapprove” of Barack Obama’s performance as president and 39 percent “strongly disapprove.”

Since Obama won two presidential elections, chances are that some of those who now “strongly disapprove” of what he has done voted to put him in office. We all make mistakes, but the real question is whether we learn from them.

With many people now acting as if it is time for “a woman” to become president, apparently they have learned absolutely nothing from the disastrous results of the irresponsible self-indulgence of choosing a President of the United States on the basis of demographic characteristics, instead of individual qualifications.

It would not matter to me if the next five presidents in a row were all women, if these happened to be the best individuals available at the time. But to say that we should now elect “a woman” president in 2016 is to say that we are willfully blind to the dangers of putting life and death decisions in the hands of someone chosen for symbolic reasons.

If we were to choose just “a woman” as our next president, would that mean that any criticism of that president would be considered to be a sign of being against women?

No public official should be considered to be above criticism — and the higher up that official is, the more important it is to hold his or her feet to the fire when it comes to carrying out duties involving the life and death of individuals and the fate of the nation.

We have not yet had a Jewish president. If and when we do, does that mean that any criticism of that individual should be stigmatized and dismissed as anti-Semitism? What of our first Italian American president, our first Asian American president?

Human beings of every background are imperfect creatures. When they are in a position high enough for their imperfections to bring disasters to more than 300 million Americans, the last thing we need is to stifle criticism of what they do.

It is by no means guaranteed that this country will survive the long-run consequences of the disastrous decisions already made by Barack Obama, especially his pretense of stopping Iran’s becoming a nuclear power. Obama may no longer be in office when those chickens come home to roost.

If we wake up some morning and find some American city in radioactive ruins, will we connect the dots and see this as a consequence of voting to elect an unknown and untried man, for the sake of racial symbolism?

Among those who look around for someone to blame, how many will look in the mirror?

Presidents already have too much insulation from criticism — and from reality.

When President Calvin Coolidge caught everyone by surprise in 1928, by announcing that he would not run for reelection, despite a prosperous economy and his own personal popularity, he simply said, “I do not choose to run.” Coolidge was a man of very few words, despite his knowledge of multiple languages. Someone once said that Coolidge could be silent in five different languages.

But, when he later wrote a small autobiography, Coolidge explained the inherent dangers in the office of President of the United States, especially when one person remains in the White House too long.

“It is difficult for men in high office to avoid the malady of self-delusion. They are always surrounded by worshippers. They are constantly, and for the most part sincerely, assured of their greatness.

“They live in an artificial atmosphere of adulation and exaltation which sooner or later impairs their judgment. They are in grave danger of becoming careless and arrogant.”

Of presidents who served eight years in office, he said, “in almost every instance” the last years of their terms show little “constructive accomplishments” and those years are often “clouded with grave disappointments.”

Another president chosen for demographic representation (whether by race, sex or whatever), and further insulated from criticism and from reality, is the last thing we need.

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I am currently reading The Coldest Winter by David Halberstam. The book devotes a great deal of space to General Douglas MacArthur, and very little of it complimentary, and much seems to align with what Calvin Coolidge had to say in the above quoted segment:

“It is difficult for men in high office to avoid the malady of self-delusion. They are always surrounded by worshippers. They are constantly, and for the most part sincerely, assured of their greatness.

“They live in an artificial atmosphere of adulation and exaltation which sooner or later impairs their judgment. They are in grave danger of becoming careless and arrogant.”

There may be another side to the MacArthur story, a side more favorable to the general. But the picture Halbertson paints is of a man out of control and in dangerously independent charge of a very powerful American military in Asia. That Truman eventually fired him seems in retrospect, and again through the lens of Halbertson, fully justified and indeed long overdo. If this picture of the general is accurate, then what we had was a very dangerous and a very bad man.

The advice of Calvin Coolidge as relayed through Thomas Sowell is advise that the American people would be wise to heed. We don’t need to elect yet another president  based on a persons outward characteristics. We need to elect a leader, to paraphrase Martin Luther King Jr., based on the content of his/her character and not on his/her race or gender.

Don Johnson – Sept 2014

Adm. McRaven Urges Graduates to Find Courage to Change the World

I’ve been making our bed every morning ever since this Seal Team Admiral told UT graduates they should do this.

The strange thing is that I actually started making our bed every morning … several weeks before the Admiral’s speech  … strange, but I like it.