Chaplain’s Corner, June 2013

From the Chaplain:

During the month of May we honor two important groups of people in our lives, police officers (during Police Week) and our military personnel in the armed services (on Memorial Day). We honor them because they made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives in the service of Peace and Justice. We honor them because they did what others would not do, that is, they placed themselves in harm’s way, so that we might enjoy our days and nights in security and freedom.

Nevertheless, while we remember those who gave their lives on the streets or in the battlefield, we also pay tribute to the many police officers and military personnel, who daily risk their lives, whether on the streets or in the battlefield, in the performance of their duties to protect, serve, and keep the peace.

We thank in a small way those who have died, with words of their valor inscribed on granite walls. But we can and should thank, with our genuine words inscribed in and spoken from our hearts, those who still live and work among and for us.

These thoughts remind me of the very moving story of one Charles Plum, who was a Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface to air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent six years in a Communist Vietnamese prison. He survived this ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience. What follows is his recounting of a story that he tells his audience, which is also in his book. I found it inspirational and worthy of everyone’s consideration, so I a passing it on to you.

Packing Parachutes – By Charlie Plumb

Recently, I was sitting in a restaurant in Kansas City. A man about two tables away kept looking at me. I didn’t recognize him. A few minutes into our meal he stood up and walked over to my table, looked down at me, pointed his finger in my face and said, “You’re Captain Plumb.”
I looked up and I said, “Yes sir, I’m Captain Plumb.”

He said, “You flew jet fighters in Vietnam. You were on the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down. You parachuted into enemy hands and spent six years as a prisoner of war.”

I said, “How in the world did you know all that?”

He replied, “Because, I packed your parachute.”

I was speechless. I staggered to my feet and held out a very grateful hand of thanks. This guy came up with just the proper words. He grabbed my hand, he pumped my arm and said, “I guess it worked.”

“Yes sir, indeed it did”, I said, “and I must tell you I’ve said a lot of prayers of thanks for your nimble fingers, but I never thought I’d have the opportunity to express my gratitude in person.”

He said, “Were all the panels there?”

“Well sir, I must shoot straight with you,” I said, “of the eighteen panels that were supposed to be in that parachute, I had fifteen good ones. Three were torn, but it wasn’t your fault, it was mine. I jumped out of that jet fighter at a high rate of speed, close to the ground. That’s what tore the panels in the chute. It wasn’t the way you packed it.”

“Let me ask you a question,” I said, “do you keep track of all the parachutes you pack?”

“No” he responded, “it’s enough gratification for me just to know that I’ve served.”

I didn’t get much sleep that night. I kept thinking about that man. I kept wondering what he might have looked like in a Navy uniform – a Dixie cup hat, a bib in the back and bell bottom trousers. I wondered how many times I might have passed him on board the Kitty Hawk. I wondered how many times I might have seen him and not even said “good morning”, “how are you”, or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor. How many hours did he spend on that long wooden table in the bowels of that ship weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of those chutes, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he did not know? I could have cared less…until one day my parachute came along and he packed it for me.

When he speaks, Charles Plum usually asks his audience, “Who is packing your parachute?” Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day. Plumb also points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes, when is plane was shot down over enemy territory. He needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, and his spiritual parachute. He called on all these supports before reaching safety.

Sometimes the challenges of every-day life prevent us from seeing what is really important. We may fail to say hello or good-bye, please or thanks, to congratulate or compliment, or just do a random act of kindness for someone we don’t even know, for no reason at all.

So the philosophical question here is this: How’s your parachute packing coming along? Who looks to you for strength in times of need? And perhaps, more importantly, who are the special people in your life who provide you the encouragement you need when the chips are down? Perhaps it’s time right now to give those people a call and thank them for packing your chute.

Chap. Fr. Joe D’Angelo

President’s Message, June 2013

I would like to take this opportunity to THANK the many friends and members who wished me well during my recent hospital stay. Your prayers and words of comfort and encouragement will never be forgotten. THANK YOU!

Your Shields Board had a busy month. On Saturday, May 4, I attended the FOP Memorial in Hicksville, honoring Police Officers who made the ultimate sacrifice. It was another excellent presentation by President Charlie Caputo and his Board.

On Wednesday, May 22, Mike Villa and Rich Rottkamp represented The Shields at the annual Nassau County Police wreath presentation.

On Saturday, May 25, Mike Villa represented The Shields at the Police Arlington Memorial in Queens.

On Saturday, May 25, I, along with many members and friends, attended the flag placement ceremony at L.I. National cemetery.

From Thursday, May 30 – Saturday, June 1 we attended The Victory Challenge, Nassau County Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged at Mitchel Field. My sincere thanks go to those who not only attended, but spent 3 days with us volunteering. I must also thank FBI Agent John Mifsud and his coworkers for the tremendous assistance they provide on Friday at the games. Unfortunately there are many who choose not to attend. It’s your loss, because helping these children is truly rewarding.

That concludes May’s activities, now on to our next meeting, on Thursday, June 13, which will be Scholarship Presentation night as well as spouse night. So bring your favorite partner to the meeting.

We will also be honoring the family of slain Detective Pete Figoski NYPD for their dignity and demeanor through out the ordeal of the trial.
Have a safe and happy summer.


Police Officer of the Month, June 2013

Lieutenant (Retired) Thomas K. Barnes: Formerly of the Gang Division

At approximately 1100 hours of Friday, April 13, 2012 retired Lieutenant Thomas Barnes was gassing up his car at the BP station at the corner of East 119th Street and First Avenue. Moments earlier three Police Officers responded to a robbery in progress at a pharmacy located diagonally across from the street where Lt Barnes was standing. The pharmacy, containing three workers and five customers including a baby in a stroller, was being held up by two males demanding cash and perscription medicines. The responding officiers were attempting to restrain one of the perpetrators when the second perpetrator exited the pharmacy shooting at the officers. Once of the officers returned fire as the perp sprinted across the street continuing to fire at the officers. Lt Barnes kneew he had to intervene to help save the officers lives. As the perp ran away from the officers, continuing to fire his weapon, Lt Barnes stepped out from behind cover and fired three rounds at the perp. The peretrator fell to the ground mortally wounded.

Ther perpetrator was later identified as Wyatt Randolph, age 23, a known “Bloods” gang member who may recently committed two similiar robberies. Rudolph had also been connected to shooting a 19 year old in Georgia and a shooting in New York in 2010.

In recognition of Lt Thomas Barnes displayed true courage and taking decisive action resulting in the death of a dangerous armed perpetrator, potentially saving the lives of fellow officers, the LI Shields are proud to honor Ret Lt Thomas Barnes as cop of the month.