The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A Book By a Great American

I am proud to say that in all my years as a Massachusetts resident I never voted for former Senator John Kerry. And I certainly didn't vote for him when he ran for president, a race that, thankfully, he lost. Why did he fail? I've always believed one key reason was the public exposure of his less than honorable service during and after the Vietnam conflict. And this exposure was largely due to John O'Neill who formed the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth to counter the steady stream of untruths told by Kerry after his return from Vietnam. The future senator and Secretary of State told many a whopper about his supposed heroics, but far worse he lied about the honorable service of the truly heroic men who served in Vietnam and fought the Viet Cong in the Mekong Delta. Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to John O'Neill for making the truth known.
John Kerry with Jane Fonda
John O'Neill and I are Naval Academy classmates -- Class of 1967 -- which for me is a true honor. My own service in Vietnam doesn't compare to that of John and his fellow warriors in the Brown Water Navy. As a Navy helicopter pilot I flew some search and rescue missions, mostly off the coast of Vietnam, but John and his crews were truly in the thick of things. Yes, indeed, we owe them a lot. It's just so sad that politicians of both parties failed in their responsibility to those whom they sent into harm's way by losing a most honorable and winnable conflict.
Brown Water Navy
But that's all behind us now...well, mostly. And John, too, has turned to other things. In fact, he has written a book, and a wonderful book it is!   

I've long been fascinated by the story of the excavations that uncovered the tomb of St. Peter beneath the Vatican Basilica that bears his name. Over 30 years ago I read John Walsh's book, The Bones of St. Peter. But that earlier book only whetted my appetite to know more.
Remains of St. Peter's Tomb
And then 10 years ago, Diane and I, on one of our trips to Rome, managed to get tickets for the tour of the tombs beneath St. Peter's Basilica. Called the Scavi Tourit's limited to about a dozen people and includes the tomb of St. Peter and the necropolis uncovered during the excavations. It was a fascinating experience and the highlight of our visit. I even posted a brief description of the tour on this blog: Click here. (Should you not be able to visit Rome and take the tour, you can still experience the virtual tour online. Click here.) And yet, even after that up-close-and-personal visit, I still wanted to know more about the history of the excavations.
John O'Neill's book, The Fisherman's Tomb: The True Story of the Vatican's Secret Search, has answered all my questions. It's tells the captivating and true story of the search for St. Peter's tomb, a search necessarily conducted in secrecy since it began in the midst of World War II when Hitler's Wehrmacht occupied Rome. It's an exciting story with a remarkable cast of characters: Pope Pius XII, one of my heroes; Margherita Guarducci, a remarkable archaeologist and epigrapher, a woman you will never forget; and a Texas oilman who secretly funded the entire project. John O'Neill has given us a real page-turner. I sat down, opened the book, and began to read. I couldn't put it down until I finished hours later. Get the book. You'll love it!

I actually have to buy another because a friend grabbed my copy the other day and has yet to return it.

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