Was the 100 ft. big wave target achieved by surfer, Garrett McNamara?

This photo released Tuesday Jan. 29, 2013, by Nazare Qualifica organization, US… ( To Mane )


I am compelled as a former surfer from back in the day, and still a big fan, to depart from the theme of this blog to share this exciting news with friends and family…who love surfing…

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

B-17G “Flying Fortress“ Restoration Project…Portland, Oregon

http://www.b17wingsoffreedom.org/index.htm  Quotes from this website…

“The Wings of Freedom Project began with the removal of the nose section at a grand community event. After its restoration, the nose, along with the ball turret were placed as a centerpiece in the Wings of Freedom showcase museum in an effort to honor the personal stories that this “Flying Fortress” represents.”


“This B-17G, the “Lacey Lady”, was a surplus plane built by Lockheed at the Vega plant in Burbank California. She has the lowest air time of any B-17 in existence. She has stood as an icon, since 1947, on McLoughlin Blvd.  Although the B-17s were amazing to their crew as a “Flying Fortress”, they were not designed to be perched in Oregon’s climate for 64 years. The condition of the “Lacey Lady” warrants immediate attention. A team of professionals have developed a plan to take this Vintage Aircraft to the next phase of its restoration. WE ARE READY FOR “TAKE OFF!”

I am pleased to share the above website describing the “Flying Fortress” Restoration Project.  It is a non-profit project honoring the history of aircraft from WWII.  One of the joys of writing this blog is keeping up with countless projects around America honoring the Armed Forces and the technology used during WWII that protected the freedoms we enjoy today.   I feel proud and grateful to have the opportunity to write about and honor the historical significance and legacy of America’s past wars.  

Please support the “Lacey Lady” Restoration Project!

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story


Are we doing better caring for America’s veterans who return home to life after war? Is more government studies a solution? Are we engaging local communities effectively?

http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=119020  Quote from this website…

“DOD and the Veterans Affairs Department are “collaborating to shape policies and programs with a long term impact on returning warriors, during military service and after transition to civilian life,” he added. He called for increased screening and referral of service members believed to be experiencing PTSD, and for improved access to quality care for those being treated.”

“Hammer told the task force members his organization benefits efforts throughout the Defense Department to help those suffering from PTSD and TBI. “We believe that by serving as the principal integrator and authority on psychological health and traumatic brain injury knowledge and standards for DOD,” he said, “we are uniquely positioned to accelerate improvement and care.”

I worry about a continued effort by the the Department of Defense (DOD) and Veterans Affairs Department to improve the delivery of improved policies and programs for warriors returning home to life after war.  It is not that we do not have appropriate policies and programs, it is in the execution and delivery where we fail.  I wrote on my blog last year about local communities collaborating with the private and public sectors as the ultimate solution.   We need a Public Private Partnership (PPP) that works effectively in the local communities across America.  Once our veterans our “processed” following leaving the service or returning home for a break from deployment, the “soul feeding” care needed on an on-going basis at the local level is lost in the shuffle.  I still have not seen anything from top that reaches out to local communities in a way that transfers the responsibility of caring for our warriors back to the communities that sent them into war and combat in the first place…


Friday, June 1, 2012

A “Call to Action” in local communities is critical! Public and private non-profit partnerships are key to delivering solutions.


“Goodbye to sticking our heads in the sand about PTSD.
Hello to raising awareness about PTSD.

Goodbye to communities not caring about PTSD.
Hello to communities raising awareness about PTSD.

Goodbye to families and veterans going it alone with PTSD.
Hello to families and veterans having the resources to get help with PTSD.”

The above quote from the Huffington Post article/link really got my attention yesterday. I attended a meeting with public and private veterans advocate and community leaders to discuss a proposed “call to action” broader strategy and execution plan to deliver more robust services to veterans challenged with after the war readjustment and transition. It is abundantly clear that a much broader public and private partnership with non-profits is critical in delivering solutions and engaging local communities. It is the local community where the returning veteran resides that “feeding the soul” and healing is provided effectively. The larger county, state, and federal resources are stretched to provide administrative support for services related to health benefits, disability claims, legal and employment assistance. The TLC needed for our veterans to transition back to a happy, healthy, and productive civilian life must come from the local communities that sent them to war in the first place.

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

Is PTSD a family affair? “Set an extra plate at dinner tonight; PTSD is joining you… “

Lisa Cypers Kamen, MA

Executive Director, Harvesting Happiness


“When PTSD transfers from the battlefield to the home, this disorder quickly becomes a family affair. So set an extra plate at dinner tonight; PTSD is joining you…
One of the things I hear time and time again is that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is an isolated condition. If you think that’s true, you’re not alone; I used to be one of those people. But when I began working with veterans, I discovered something profound: PTSD affects every person in the sufferer’s life, from spouses to children to extended family to friends. Secondhand trauma is real, and if it lingers untreated, can be just as scarring as having PTSD yourself. For children, the exposure to PTSD is especially toxic.”

Kids and loved ones affected at home from a parent suffering from symptoms of PTSD are mostly if not always silent.  Why?  They are confused and scared.  I know because my childhood was spent being scared and confused all the time from my Dad’s post WWII angry behavior.  Silent children in school and at play is a symptom we adults should take notice and take action.  The simplest action is to engage with silent children who appear to be withdrawn.  Bring them into the fold and make them feel good about themselves and others.  Get them into action so that they are making a difference for themselves and others. You don’t have to ask kids any questions about their home life or what they are feeling.  Just make the silent little ones feel part of the the community of adults and children in school or at play…

I worry most about our children affected by war and trauma at home…  Please watch over them, extend your hand, and caring ways…http://livingwithptsd-sparkles.blogspot.com/2012/05/not-enough-attention-given-to-children.html

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation:  A Son’s Story

How do we live with the spiritual dilemma of life after war? Making a difference for others is truly “food for the soul.”

Stand up with your community!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/i-killed-people-in-afghanistan-was-i-right-or-wrong/2013/01/25/c0b0d5a6-60ff-11e2-b05a-605528f6b712_story.html?tid=wp_ipad  Quotes from this website…

“When I joined the Marine Corps, I knew I would kill people. I was trained to do it in a number of ways, from pulling a trigger to ordering a bomb strike to beating someone to death with a rock. As I got closer to deploying to war in 2009, my lethal abilities were refined, but my ethical understanding of killing was not.”

“Many veterans are unable to reconcile such actions in war with the biblical commandment “Thou shalt not kill.” When they come home from an environment where killing is not only accepted but is a metric of success, the transition to one where killing is wrong can be incomprehensible.”

The above quote from a soldier who was responsible and trained to kill without question in the context of war driven by politics, is what troubles the soul so deeply.  The men and women who come home to life after war begin the painful journey of attempting to reconcile what is truly wrong in their hearts, “Thou shalt not kill.”

We are beginning to discuss moral injury as a better way to understand damage to our spiritual being or our soul.  For many, soul repair is either impossible or becomes a lifetime journey of healing.  The worst case scenario is suicide among combat veterans returning home where reconciliation becomes a 24/7 emotional and physical extreme challenge.  The best case outcome for those severely affected by the horror of war is a daily regimen of focusing one’s life 100% on making a difference for others to keep the pain of war at a safe distance.  It appears from all my own research, experience, including extensive studies by mental health experts since the end of the Vietnam War, that those who are able to direct their lives toward the greater good and helping others each and every day do so much better.  A spiritual problem apparently needs a spiritual solution…  The soul is not repaired from the experience of consistent and severe trauma with a diet of alcohol and prescription drugs.  The daily practice of helping others and making a difference in your community in life after war seems to pass the test of healing for the long term.  This kind of outreach requires the discipline and desire to stand with loved ones, friends, family, and community, but never ever alone… While you make choices for your own journey of healing, please remember to be guided by your primary care physician and appropriate mental health professionals. 

My own personal experience has proven this path of healing.  I have observed many others who have suffered from moral injury and PTSD succeed in achieving peace of mind, happiness, and a much more fulfilling quality of life by making life larger than self.  Don’t go it alone…  Making a difference for others is truly “food for the soul.”

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

BEFORE THE WORLD INTRUDED: Conquering the Past and Creating the Future, A Memoir by Michele Rosenthal

Michele Rosenthal, Author, BEFORE THE WORLD INTRUDED: Conquering the Past and Creating the Future, A Memoir
Michele struggled with undiagnosed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for 24 years. Then she was diagnosed and went on a healing rampage! Today she inspires trauma survivors to overcome depression, anxiety and fear.


I am pleased to add Michele Rosenthal’s book to my website for purchase…  This is another true story that touches our hearts and advances the cause of moral injury and PTSD awareness…

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

Honoring Moritz Otto Scheibler…Among the last of the great family owned business entrepreneurs of the 20th Century…

“The man behind the machine,” Moritz, Sr. developed the first dry offset egg carton printer in 1967. As a trained lithographer, Moritz has a vast understanding of the printing process.
Moritz Scheibler

Chairman, Scheibler Bros. Inc., Leavenworth, Washington

Moritz Otto Scheibler, Entrepreneur, Scheibler Bros. Inc.,
Loving Father and Dear Friend (1927-2013)…


http://www.scheiblerbrothers.com/Company-CompanyProfile.cfm Quote from this website…

“In 1960, Swiss-born Moritz Scheibler founded a printing press repair business and called it Scheibler Brothers, Incorporated (SBI). Seven years later, in conjunction with Condes Corporation, he invented the dry offset egg carton printer. Then in 1992, Mr. Scheibler struck out on his own and introduced the newly designed SBI Egg Carton Printer to the world market. SBI has distributed hundreds of printers worldwide to the packaging industry. And, most recently, SBI has designed and developed a second major printing line – the SBI Multiple Product Printer.
Scheibler Brothers, Inc. has a modern manufacturing facility staffed by knowledgeable technicians and machinists. Our site includes a complete machine shop featuring CNC machining, gear cutting, welding, precision grinding, metal fabricating, and tooling capabilities. The engineering department works closely with manufacturing to achieve maximum efficiency and quality in our operation and products. Our R&D department utilizes the very latest in CAD technology, coupled with years of machine design experience to keep the Scheibler Brothers Egg Carton Printers and Multiple Product Printers on the leading edge of the industry.”


Following is an excerpt from my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story…

“No doubt on top of my list of highly interesting professional and personal experiences was working for Scheibler Bros., Inc., a high speed egg carton printing technology company.  SBI for short, as we later included in the company name, was located out in the Chumstick Valley about 8 miles from town.  I came to know the Scheiblers from my experience in Village Art in the Park.  Nadine was on the board and also CEO of SBI.  After I returned from my Applied Voice Technology stint, Nadine asked me to come in and help her company find their way in the context of business and strategic planning.  I knew nothing about the printing business, but soon learned and as a bonus, discovered a whole new loving friendship with a wonderful dysfunctional, creative, and eccentric family with Moritz Scheibler as the head master of this clan, so he thought.  Nadine was really the most stable of them all and clearly running the business, and a blessing it was too.  The adult children, Jim and Mary, needed to learn how to take over the company as well, so this became a more subtle part of my new assignment.  SBI did not have a succession plan, and needed one badly.  Jim and Mary worked in the business since they were very young.  Both were highly educated and clearly had leadership qualities, especially Mary, who later became CEO when her mother, Nadine, sadly passed away.  This was a highly emotional and transitional time for the family.  Moritz was a genius and challenging to work with at times, but was a wonderful and highly sensitive person to know.

My career work was definitely consistent with all the experience and skills needed to help SBI, and my own dysfunctional life living with PTSD turned out to be an advantage working with this unique entrepreneurial family.  It was very difficult for the Scheibler’s to communicate with others, including each other, which resulted in a huge challenge of attracting talented professionals to work with them on a consistent basis.  This was a job that fit nicely into my profile and leadership qualities, including significant experience working with creative and often times emotionally driven people with lots of hang ups.  There was no lack of intellectual capital in this family, however.  They just needed some business disciplines to move SBI to a higher level of success.  SBI’s Moritz Scheibler invented the egg carton printer many years ago and had a corner on the market, but competition was beginning to appear in the market, especially overseas.  The business was steady and had moderate growth for all these years until competition began to show its strength, especially in the spare parts space.  It was a fun and rewarding, but often frustrating experience working with the Scheiblers, but will always be a most memorable period in my working life.  Friendship with the Scheibler family was the most rewarding outcome.  It was very sad when Nadine passed away from cancer around 2000 shortly after my Dad died.  This was when the succession plan started to pay off and Mary and Jim finally took over the business and clearly preserved the family legacy to this day.  Moritz eventually retired but maintained an as needed role in the company.  The SBI family business experience is an excellent example of how critical it is for a small business to have a succession plan.” 

I feel honored and blessed to be considered part of the Scheibler family clan.  Jim and Mary Scheibler are like brother and sister to me.  Our friendship is deep and personal and will remain so during my remaining life time.  It was without second thought to capture my loving friendship and experience with the Scheibler Family in my own life story…

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story 

Former Governor Barbara Roberts at the Nye Beach Writers’ Series…”A true Oregon trail blazer.”

Barbara Roberts, Author, Up the Capitol Steps
(Order by clicking the bookcover on this website.)


http://www.writersontheedge.org Quote from this website…

“Barbara Roberts was Governor of Oregon from 1991-1995 and Oregon Secretary of State from 1985-1991. She was Director of the State and Local Government Executive Programs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and held a senior fellowship at the Harvard Women and Public Policy Program. Before her retirement in 2005, she served for five years as Associate Director of Leadership at Portland State University’s Hatfield School of Government.”

All women in America who aspire to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others, need to buy and keep as a reference Barbara Robert’s book, Up the Capitol Steps. I am the proud father of 3 daughters and 2 grand daughters and have always believed that women have an important place in leadership both in the private and public sectors.  In my life experience I have observed many women, including my own daughters, who show strength of character, passion for what they care about, intelligence, and leadership both at work and at home as a mothers and spouses. Barbara Roberts sets a high standard for all these qualities…

While listening to Governor Roberts read from her autobiography last night at the Nye Beach Writers’ Series, I was taken by her energy, intellect, and personable style. She is a beautiful and genuine woman in many respects. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit with her and hear her speak to a most enthusiastic audience of writers. I had the honor during the “open mic” session to discuss my own book and share my father’s first hand account of his experience aboard the USS West Virginia on December 7, 1941 during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. There were 9 other writers who read from their books and shared poems that provided a wonderful mix of humor, folklore and other emotionally moving topics. This was one of the more entertaining and informative gatherings I have attended in a long time… It didn’t take a second to think about returning to the Nye Beach Writers’ Series again and again…

See you all on the 3rd Saturday of February and the coming months!

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

Depoe Bay Memorial Wall…Honoring Lt. Ralph W. Elden, US Navy WWII who died at sea while serving on the USS Hammann (DD412)…

IUSS Hammann (DD-412)
USS Hammann (DD412) – Was sunk by enemy torpedo fire while preparing to assist in salvaging the damaged USS Yorktown during the Battle of Midway…  Many US Navy heroes were lost on that day in June of 1942, including Lt. Ralph W. Elden.


Lieutenant Ralph W. Elden, US Navy, presented the Navy Cross posthumously and is memorialized on the Depoe Bay Memorial Wall.


“For extraordinary heroism and extreme disregard of personal safety as Executive Officer of the U.S.S. Hammann during action against enemy Japanese forces near Midway Island on June 6, 1942.  When the Commanding Officer was temporarily disabled, Lieutenant Elden immediately took charge and, with cool courage and unfailing presence of mind, continued to direct abandon ship operations aboard the rapidly sinking vessel until the decks were completely awash and he went down into the sea.  A few seconds thereafter he was killed by an underwater explosion.  While faithfully and efficiently performing his duties he gallantly gave up his life in the service of his country.”

For the President

Frank Knox http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/pers-us/uspers-k/f-knox.htm
Secretary of the Navy
Photo # NH 63494-KN:  Frank Knox, Secretary of the Navy 1940-1944. Portrait by John Johansen



There are heroes all around us.  Sometimes they are memorialized in small towns like Depoe Bay, Oregon.  Lt. Ralph W. Elden is such a hero.  Lt. Elden died at sea while serving on the USS Hammann (DD-412) while participating in the Battle of Midway in June of 1942.  Many of my fellow neighbors and tourists walk by the Memorial Wall each day and are reminded of the sacrifices of so many Americans over many generations and wars. 

I decided to stop at the Memorial Wall for awhile yesterday with my wife Judy to enjoy the beautiful sunny warm weather and ocean breeze.  While looking at the names I noted “Lt. Ralph W. Elden, US Navy WWII” and decided to learn more.  I was especially curious because Lt. Elden died in 1942, which one can easily assume he perished at sea during WWII.  I was completely blown away with discovering all the historical facts about Lt. Elden’s heroism during the Battle of Midway.  I hope his family survivors see this and contact me.  I would like to do a follow-up story and provide even more history regarding one of our treasured heroes of WWII, Lt. Ralph W. Elden, US Navy…

We can honor generations of American heroes by taking just a little extra time out of our day to stop for a moment and read the names of so many engraved on the Depoe Bay Memorial Wall.  There are memorials all over America in small rural towns where heroes like Lt. Elden should not be forgotten…  See the full account of the USS Hammann in the “Report of Action” on the following website… http://www.history.navy.mil/docs/wwii/mid9.htm.

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

Giving back is healthy for the soul! Your community non-profits and charities need your passion, leadership, and skill sets…

NFK walk downtown


http://www.redbookmag.com/_mobile/health-wellness/advice/be-a-volunteer?src=soc_fcbk  Quote from this website…

One afternoon in 2005, Barbara Van Dahlen was driving through her hometown of Bethesda, MD, when her 9-year-old daughter spotted a disheveled man on the side of the road. His sign read: “Homeless Vet. Please Help.” “Gracie erupted with outrage,” says Barbara, 53. “She said, ‘Mom, this isn’t right! How can we let this happen?’ That was the spark. It pushed me to think, Well, what can I do?

The first few years of my post retirement life were pretty lonely.  Following over 35 years in an exciting upwardly mobile information technology (IT) career, I was suddenly on the sidelines with early retirement and a few health issues to overcome.  All that changed when we moved to Depoe Bay, Oregon and my focus was directed to a fledgling non-profit http://www.neighborsforkids.org.

We boomers have much to give following retirement.  Retirement often comes much earlier than planned.  I was at the top of my game with experience and wisdom unmatched at a relatively young age of 58.  But the IT business requires the intensity of  an athlete playing professional sports.  It is competitive, political, and down right nasty at times.  It is all about winning and greed.  I loved the part of making a difference by motivating others to succeed and win.  I liked making money too…  But all of this can come to an end instantly with corporate restructurings, making way for the younger, higher energy generation.  Age related health issues can also creep into your life without warning… 

My work with www.neighborsforkids.org is exciting!  As vice chair my role is highly focused on the business side of making our non-profit a sustainable enterprise.  It is critical for a non-profit to show stakeholders a return on social capital.  You can’t get this done with love alone.  We needed skill sets that compare to recruiting the best executives and leaders in a highly competitive corporate setting.  As a non-profit we compete for a share of the social capital available.  To succeed we must show individual donors, fund makers, partners, and stakeholders that we will be around a long time to support the community we serve.  

Neighbors for Kids http://www.neighborsforkids.org is a solid non-profit business enterprise these days.  It was not easy getting to this point in our 11 year history.  As the song, “Teach Your Children” in the above video clip depicts, it takes a village.  It also requires top professionals in the fields of social services, early childhood education, business, and leadership.  Boomers have all these wonderful qualities and often time on their hands.  You can make a difference as a volunteer almost immediately by engaging and becoming a community service leader.  Don’t sit at home and wait for the phone to ring.  Make it happen!

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story