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Posts Tagged ‘tin heads’

TIN HEADS – EPISODE 2 – “THE FINAL SALUTE”

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 6, 2019

BRYCE ON FICTION

– The last Iwo Jima veteran returns home.

This is a chapter from a book I wrote back in 2010, “Tin Heads,” which is a work of fiction and reminiscent of the many stories we watched on the “Twilight Zone.” The book is still for sale as a PDF file, click HERE, or for a Kindle e-Book, click HERE. For more info on what is a Tin Head, see the INTRO. I hope you will enjoy it.

“THE FINAL SALUTE”

“Tin Head” – slang expression for the TN-2020 Personal Drone developed by TN Industries, San Jose, California. A “dumb” robot resembling human form with special sensors enabling humans to visit remote locations without having to leave their home location. Unit is distinguished by its domed head, hence the nickname.

James “Bum” Sanders strolled down to the local barber shop for his weekly haircut, cane in hand. He didn’t like carrying the cane but his daughter insisted he use it to balance himself as he was now 102 years young, although he certainly didn’t feel like it. He made the trip to the barber shop once a week in his hometown of Cleveland, Tennessee not because he needed a haircut, he actually had little left on his head, but to kibitz with “Big Al” Smith, the shop’s proprietor, as well as the other visiting patrons.

As Bum walked into the shop he was warmly greeted by everyone as he was well known. Bum was a bit of an institution in the Cleveland area and had run a transmission repair shop for a number of years until he was forced to sell it and retire in his 90’s. He was also active in several civic, fraternal and veterans groups so it was no small wonder just about everyone in town knew him. He was best known though for organizing and managing the Memorial Day service at the cemetery in the Spring, and the local Veterans Day parade in the Fall. As a World War II veteran, these were very important events to him and he insisted they be commemorated with dignity and grace. His signature though was a crisp salute he would give at the end of each service, followed by the words “Semper Fi” to honor his fallen Marine brothers.

During the War, Bum served in the 5th Marine Division which invaded Iwo Jima in 1945. His nickname “Bum” was derived from a wound he suffered in his posterior by a Japanese marksman. Other than this, little was known about Bum’s activities on the island as he was intensely private about the matter, not just to strangers, but to friends and family as well. Nonetheless, rarely did a day go by that Bum did not think of the horrors of war he suffered on Iwo, his friends and comrades he lost, and the enemy soldiers he killed. While on the island, he was assigned flame thrower duty to root out Japanese hidden in the caves and tunnels around Mount Suribachi. Their screams haunted him for many years, something he could not forget, and explained why he refused to talk about it. He served his country honorably, but was acutely aware of the brutalities of war.

Bum found his usual chair in the barber shop and began to chat with Big Al. He didn’t recognize the customer whose hair Big Al was cutting and inquired, “You new around here son?”

“Yes, just moved into the area from Chattanooga. The name is Jeffries, Sam Jeffries.”

“Pleased to meet you,” replied Bum, “It’s good to have another leatherneck in the area.”

Jeffries looked surprised, “How did you know?”

“Not too difficult,” began Bum, “The way you sit at attention in the chair, the crisp press of your clothes, the polish on your shoes, and that jarhead haircut Big Al is giving you. In fact, I would wager that ring you’re wearing bears an eagle, globe and anchor insignia.”

Jeffries laughed, “You got me, you’ve got a pretty good eye sir, and you are…?”

“Bum Sanders my brother; Corporal, USMC, Iwo Jima, 1945,” he snapped, “Welcome to the area.” And he rose to shake the man’s hand. “What brings you around to these parts?”

“I’m opening a new Tin Head franchise here in Cleveland.” Jeffries replied.

“Tin Head? What the heck is that?”

The rest of the people in the barber shop chuckled at Bum’s ignorance as just about everyone knew of the popular Tin Head program. In his defense though, Bum had lost interest in the news a few years ago and, like a lot of senior citizens, tended to avoid new technology.

“It’s something new that allows a person to visit just about anywhere on the planet,” and he gave Bum a brief description of the Tin Head program.

Bum listened intently but asked few questions. He had never heard of such a device before, but the more the man spoke about it, the more absurd the notion seemed to him.

As Jeffries finished his haircut, he produced a business card and said to Bum, “Tell you what; we’re planning on opening the store next week. Give me a call and I would be happy to give you a personal tour.”

Bum thanked him for the courtesy, slipped the card into his shirt pocket, and quickly forgot about it.

Bum still lived at home, much to the concern of his children who worried about his well-being, but he had always been stubbornly independent and remained so after surviving not just one wife, but two. His children were grandparents in their own right and beginning to slow down themselves. At age 102 Bum was still relatively fit and alert, but he worried about losing his health and memory as many seniors do. He still tended to his yard, but finally acquiesced mowing the lawn just a couple of years ago to his great-grandchildren who he would pay generously. When he wasn’t working in the yard, Bum could be found rocking in a favorite chair on his front porch where he would often talk to neighbors walking past his house.

As he settled into his chair, he thought about the Marine he had met earlier before slipping off to a short nap. His encounter with Jeffries caused him to dream about Iwo Jima… Even though he had suffered a shot to his derrière, doctors had been able to patch him together so he could return to duty with his flame thrower, a dangerous occupation with a high mortality rate. Somehow Bum found a way to not only survive, but became quite proficient in clearing the caves and tunnels on the island. If he didn’t burn his victims to death, the flame would suck the oxygen out of the enclosure and suffocate them.

His dream became clearer as he found himself with his Marine squad on the island. It was nighttime and the battle for the island was coming to a close. Despite this, the soldiers were told to beware of desperate Japanese counter attacks. The moon was almost full which provided minimal light to detect motion. Half of Bum’s squad stayed alert while the other half slept. Bum kept checking the forward positions but saw nothing. He then thought his eyes were beginning to play tricks on him and he rubbed them. Had he seen a shadow move or was it his imagination? Squinting to get a better look, Yes, something was moving out there, but what? He shot a flare into the air only to see hundreds of Japanese poised at the edge of the American lines ready to attack. As the flare lit the sky, the Japanese shouted “Banzai!” and lunged forward to attack the American position.

Bum suddenly found himself surrounded by Japanese engaged in hand-to-hand combat. One by one, he watched his squad decimated by the attack. Before he could reach for his weapon he found himself fighting with a Japanese in his foxhole. The attack was savage and even though he fought well, he suddenly felt the pain of a sword slicing into his side. Reaching for his bayonet, he turned to face his attacker and lunged the blade into him. Bum slumped over as he saw fellow Marines respond and scuttle the Japanese charge. “At last, I can rest, I can rest…”

Bum awoke rubbing his side where he thought he had been stabbed. An unfamiliar sharp pain shot through him causing him to sit up. Something was wrong and he called his daughter who lived nearby to take him to see his physician, Dr. Ferguson.

After a preliminary examination, Dr. Ferguson had Bum admitted into the hospital for further tests. The results confirmed the doctor’s suspicions; Bum’s kidneys had become cancerous and would begin to shut down soon. Offhand, doctors would operate for such a condition and the patient would either end up on dialysis or undergo a kidney transplant, but due to Bum’s age and constitution it would be unlikely he would survive either scenario. It began to become painfully obvious to Bum that the end was near.

Word spread quickly around town that Bum was in trouble, including the commander at his VFW post, Charlie Simpson, who visited Ferguson in his office. “Doc, we’ve been old friends for a number of years right? I’m sure you know how important Bum Sanders is to the people of this community. I know he’s old, but we have to do anything we can to help this man as I’m sure he would fight for any one of us.”

“Yes, Bum is a great guy,” Ferguson said, “but he cannot survive an operation and I don’t want to be the one responsible for shortening his life.”

“Doc,” Simpson said, “I’m not sure you aware of this but I’ve been informed by the V.A. that Bum is the last survivor of Iwo Jima.”

“Really? You’re kidding me aren’t you?”

“No. They’re all gone…except Bum. We really need to do something special for him.”

“Have you got something in mind?”

Simpson opened the door and said, “Sam, could you come in here?”

The same Sam Jeffries who met Bum just last week in the barber shop walked into the room and was introduced to Ferguson.

“Sam, tell the doctor what you have got in mind.”

“I’m the manager of the new Tin Head franchise here in town,” Jeffries began, “and I happened to hear about Bum’s problem. I also heard from Charlie how important Bum is to the community and that he is the last survivor of Iwo Jima. I’m a Marine myself, and the battle for Iwo Jima was an important chapter in our history, and I’m sure to Bum.”

“In all the years I’ve known Bum,” Ferguson said, “I knew he survived Iwo but he never liked to talk about it.”

“Well we talked to Bum about the idea,” continued Sam, “and he would like to visit Iwo one last time before he checks out.”

“No way, impossible,” countered Ferguson, “he could never survive such a long trip.”

“Maybe not in person,” said Sam, “but how about through a Tin Head?”

Dr. Ferguson stopped in his tracks. He had never considered this.

“Doctor, you’ve been in a Tin Head before haven’t you?”

“Yes. I was surprised how easy it was to use.”

“Do you think Bum is strong enough to operate a Home unit?” Sam asked.

“I’m not sure. Don’t tell me you’ve got a Tin Head franchise on Iwo Jima, do you?”

“No, but the Navy has plenty of units and I have some contacts which could enable Bum to use a Tin Head on Iwo Jima. Since the 1980’s. the Navy has a program whereby veterans and family members once a year are allowed to visit the island. Over the years though, their numbers have understandably dwindled. Now we’re down to just Bum, and in talking to my contacts, they would be happy to arrange a Tin Head for him, but we would have to confirm this soon as they will be visiting the island in two weeks.”

“That’s an awfully tight window we’re looking at,” said Ferguson, “frankly, I’m not sure he can last that long.”

“Doctor,” pleaded Simpson, “give the man a chance.”

Ferguson paced the office and contemplated the options. “If Bum Sanders wants to take a shot at it, who am I to deny the last Marine of Iwo Jima?”

Bum Sanders still had a problem understanding what exactly a Tin Head was, but after much encouragement from Sam Jeffries and Charlie Simpson, he agreed to give it a try. He was growing tired and weaker with each passing day though. So much so, Jeffries decided to accompany Bum on the trip and assist him if necessary. Fortunately, the Navy was able to accommodate his request and made two Tin Head suits available for the visit.

Sam had to spend a number of hours with Bum explaining the Tin Head’s capabilities and features. As these were to be military issued Tin Heads, Sam explained the suits had greater strength and dexterity which would greatly help Bum who was still in a weakened condition.

As the day of his trip began, Bum Sanders became a celebrity. Charlie Simpson leaked the story to the press and the media was on hand as Bum left the hospital for Sam’s store. The media attention actually helped to raise Bum’s confidence and strength as he was flattered by the attention. He stopped to answer a few questions from reporters:

“Mr. Sanders, when was the last time you were on Iwo Jima?”

“1945; I was with the Marines and I can assure you it wasn’t a pleasure trip.”

“What do you hope to see there today?”

Bum mulled the question over before answering, “I’m not sure, perhaps some old friends and a few old enemies.”

They wished him luck and Jeffries whisked him off to his store where a team of his assistants awaited them. After they arrived, Sam showed the “Home” unit to Bum and reviewed its operations. “Bum, do you think you can handle it?”

“I’ll give it my best shot,” he said, but he was already feeling weak from the short trip to the store.

Dr. Ferguson was on hand to observe the proceedings and was on standby should anything go wrong.

Sam’s assistants helped Bum into the suit which looked like a strange space suit cut in half. The suit was applied by having the person sit in the back portion. A machine suspended from the ceiling held the front portion which was slowly eased on top of the person and pressed together with special snaps thereby forming a single suit. The machine then raised the human subject and suspended him in midair to afford him the mobility he needed to move around.

“Equipment check, Bum, can you hear me?” asked Sam.

“Yes, I hear you fine Sam.”

“Okay, my staff is going to insert our identity cards, program our trip and make contact with the Navy on Iwo. Your screens, audio, and other sensors will come on when the Tin Heads go live. Are you ready?”

“I guess so, as ready as I’ll ever be.”

“Okay, beginning countdown…10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…”

Bum and Sam awoke on the black beaches of Iwo Jima. It was a sunny day and Bum could hear and smell the salt water behind him and turned to look at it.

“Bum, are you okay?” asked Sam as he approached him on the beach.

“Yes, fine…. This is unbelievable,” he replied haltingly.

Back in Cleveland, the Tin Head franchise had setup screens in a sequestered room in the store for Bum’s family, close friends and Dr. Ferguson to watch through the cameras mounted on his Tin Head.

Bum was startled by the clarity of what he could see, the vividness of the sounds, and the smell.

“Excuse me, Mister Sanders and Jeffries?” asked a Marine Lieutenant.

“Yes?” they said in unison.

“I’m Lt. Rice, welcome to Iwo Jima or ‘Iwo To’ as the Japanese call it. Thank you for coming. Is your equipment working properly?”

“Yes, everything seems fine,” they said.

“Then if you’re ready, I would like to take you to my Colonel who is waiting for us further down the beach,” Rice said.

“If you don’t mind Lieutenant,” Bum said, “Can I walk the beach a bit? It’s been a long time since I was here last.”

“Certainly, take your time, I know what this means to you,” and he walked ahead to meet his Colonel.

Bum was exhilarated by his Tin Head. He found he could move as easily as if he were a young man again. After coming to grips with his new physical freedom, he began to appreciate where he was.

He turned to Sam and pointed down the beach, “We landed down there in the southeast and were charged with taking Mount Suribachi. I was just eighteen years old. We were just kids.” And Bum was flooded by memories.

Bum and Sam continued their walk down the beach. Bum explained troop movements during the battle and Sam quietly listened to his friend. The two finally caught up with Lt. Rice and his Colonel who warmly greeted them.

“Mister Sanders, I’m Colonel Benson, welcome back to Iwo Jima. It’s a pleasure having you here today and an honor for us to host you as the last surviving Marine. Mister Jeffries I also want to welcome you and thank you for helping to set this up. What we would like to do is give you a brief tour of the island before we go up Mount Suribachi and visit the Reunion of Honor.”

The Reunion of Honor was started in 1985 and represented a pilgrimage of battle veterans from both sides, Japanese and American. It was held on the summit of Mount Suribachi where a monument was constructed at the spot where Marines raised the American flag. The reunions had stopped three years earlier when it was falsely assumed all the survivors had finally died.

“Mister Sanders,” asked the Colonel, “We’re going to use this vehicle to give you a tour of the island. Is there a particular spot you would like to see?”

“Not offhand, but if I see something, can I ask you to stop?”

“Certainly. Shall we go?”

The party got into the military vehicle, an old Hummer which still ran remarkably well and looked in good condition. Beginning with a general orientation at the current air base operated by the Japanese, the group visited the two abandoned airfields captured during the battle. Bum’s mind began to fill with memories as he recalled how the Marines sliced the island in two. Visions of fallen brothers flashed through his mind’s eye causing his head to suddenly twitch as he recalled one tragedy after another.

After the airfields, the group headed for Mount Suribachi. As the Hummer began to climb the road to the summit, Bum suddenly asked Lt. Rice to stop the truck.

“Sam, help me out will you; I’m getting tired but I must see this,” said Bum.

The group exited the vehicle and stood facing the foot of Mount Suribachi. Sensing Bum’s weakness, Sam kept an arm on Bum to balance him. Bum grew quiet; he had been here before.

“It was here where I was shot,” Bum said as he gazed into the general direction where he imagined the sniper had pulled the trigger.

He then pointed up the hill, “It was over there where I cleaned out the caves with my flame throw,” and he could hear the roar of fire and screams of his victims.

“And it was just about 100 yards over there where we repelled the final Japanese banzai charge. It was nighttime, but if it hadn’t been for the moonlight, they would have completely taken us by surprise and I wouldn’t be standing here with you.”

Bum could see the charge vividly; his shooting of the flare, the hand-to-hand combat, and the soldier he fought in the fox hole. The Japanese soldier appeared to be an officer even though he couldn’t recognize his rank or decorations. He was approximately the same size as Bum whom he charged with a sword. His face was an interesting combination of determination and terror, just plain crazy it seemed to Bum. The officer fought ferociously, but Bum was in better condition and more athletic. In the end, the officer succumbed to Bum’s bayonet. The surprised look on the officer’s face as life drained from his body was indelibly impressed upon Bum, something he couldn’t erase from his memory; something that had haunted him for years. He died valiantly though, a soldier’s death.

“Thank you gentlemen, we can go now. Sam please help me get back in the car, I’m weak.”

Back at the “Home” unit in Tennessee, Ferguson and Bum’s daughter were monitoring Bum’s vitals which were dropping noticeably. So much so, he was forced to call the two through the Tin Head communications channel.

“Sam, this is Dr. Ferguson, can you read me?”

“Yes, we copy just fine. What’s up?”

“Bum’s vital signs are dropping dangerously low. We’re going to have to call this off and get him back to the hospital.”

“No, don’t stop it,” insisted Bum, “I’ve waited too long for this. I must see it to the end.”

“But your family is worried about you Bum.”

“Worried about what? I’ve spent most of my life worrying about everyone else, now it’s finally my turn to worry about myself. I must see this to completion. Whatever you do, I beg of you not to stop this. I relieve all of you of responsibility.”

Reluctantly, Ferguson and Bum’s family acquiesced to his wishes. All they could do now was watch the images he was transmitting back from his “Remote” unit.

The Hummer slowly made its way up to the summit of Mount Suribachi. Upon arrival, Bum climbed out with Sam’s assistance. Despite the strength and durability of the suit, Sam could feel Bum’s weakness.

From the top of Suribachi, Bum could see the overall island. He could see where the ships had been when they pummeled Iwo with shells as a prelude to the invasion, he could see the black beaches where the troops landed, the air fields that were captured, and the caves below.

Here, atop Suribachi was the memorial he had longed to see. It commemorated the battle with two monuments, one side for the Japanese, and the other for the Americans. It wasn’t a massive memorial but it was still very dignified and marked the spot where the Americans had raised the flag denoting the capture of the island.

The group helped Bum over to the American side first where Sam read the inscription to him. They then walked him to the Japanese side. Although it was windy at the summit, Bum appreciated the quiet dignity of the memorial. He was finding peace.

“Please, take me back to the American side.”

They slowly walked him back over to the American monument. He could hear the ocean below, feel the wind, and smell the salt water.

“Please, leave me for a moment, there is something I have to do myself,” and they did so reluctantly.

Bum studied the words on the plaques for a few moments. Then, mustering what little strength he had left, he stood at attention and saluted the monument with his customary crispness. “Semper Fi” he whispered.

He then turned to pay homage to his Japanese adversaries. As he turned towards the Japanese monument, he was suddenly face-to-face with a Japanese officer in full uniform; the same Japanese officer he had fought to the death in his fox hole years ago. The soldier was emotionless and didn’t speak, but snapped a salute to Bum and awaited the return. Bum was stunned. The soldier was impeccably dressed and, by the uniform, Bum could tell he held the rank of captain. The Japanese stood unwavering at attention, still waiting. Bum then drew himself up to attention and returned a crisp salute. As he dropped his arm, he suddenly realized he was surrounded by his squad in Marine dress uniforms quietly lined up behind him. Bum looked confused. He then looked back to the Japanese captain who was now standing with three rows of his soldiers behind him in dress uniform.

Bum’s sergeant then barked, “Attention. Present arms.”

The Japanese captain replied in kind in his native tongue.

Then, one last time, Bum snapped off a salute to his former adversary who returned the salute and slowly smiled at him. The last warrior of Iwo Jima was finally home.

At first, Sam Jeffries, Colonel Benson and Lt. Rice didn’t realize what had happened, nor did Charlie Simpson, Doctor Ferguson, or Bum’s daughter, who had watched the screens from afar; they all just saw Bum standing motionless at attention in his Navy Tin Head saluting the American monument. It was only then, that Ferguson noticed Bum’s vital signs had plummeted. By the time they opened the “home” unit suit, they found a tired old man with his arm at salute and a tear on his face.

For more information on the “Tin Head” book in PDF format, click HERE. For Kindle e-Book, click HERE.

Keep the Faith!

P.S. – Don’t forget my new book, “Tim’s Senior Moments” now available in Printed and eBook form.

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2010-2019 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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TIN HEADS – INTRODUCTION

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 1, 2019

BRYCE ON FICTION

– A novel way to see the world, merging transportation with communications.

NOTE: I am in the final stages of producing a new book regarding how to manage a nonprofit organization, which I will be announcing shortly. In the meantime, I thought I would entertain you with chapters from a book I wrote back in 2010, “Tin Heads,” which is a work of fiction and reminiscent of the many stories we watched on the “Twilight Zone.” The book is still for sale as a PDF file, click HERE, or for a Kindle e-Book, click HERE. I hope you will enjoy it.

FOREWORD

The Tin Head concept as described herein came to me several years ago after making one too many business trips. Air transportation had transformed itself from being a fun and exciting experience to an expensive and laborious proposition. I don’t think anyone relishes the idea of traveling by airplane anymore. You’re prodded through long security lines like cattle, strip searched by people who do not speak your language, squeezed into uncomfortable seats, flights are seldom on time, the meals are horrible, and you’re nickel/dimed to death by the airlines. Regardless what class you’re traveling, passengers are treated like galley slaves. I can hear the sound of the monotonous drum beat now: boom-boom-boom-boom… Best of all, you get to pay exorbitant prices for this privilege.

People no longer enjoy the adventure of travel and consider it a colossal waste of time. They would much rather be at their destination performing their chosen activity, be it business or pleasure.

It occurred to me there has to be a better way for people to meet and discuss business. Teleconferencing is nice, but it lacks the personal touch. People tend to lose interest quickly if you are not physically present in the room with them. Technologists typically believe in exotic solutions which tend to be complicated and impractical to implement. I tend to be more pragmatic; automate as much as is practical to do, but leave the complicated portion to the human being. This is the premise behind today’s aerial drones used by the military and deep-sea drones used in marine research, cheaper and more practical solutions for exploration. If we can create drones for the air and sea, why not devise a land based solution for simpler applications, such as to conduct business at remote locations? Frankly, the Tin Head concept is a viable solution for communications, maybe not in its robust form as described within these pages, but a simpler version could easily be assembled and deployed. Such a device could have a profound effect on our culture socially and economically. It could revolutionize business, reduce our dependency on foreign oil, and greatly improve interpersonal relations.

Not only is it possible for the Tin Head concept to occur, it is highly probable we will see something like this emerge within this decade.

– Tim Bryce

EPISODE 1 – WHAT IS A TIN HEAD?

Derryl Jablonski was working the morning shift on the tenth floor of the new TN Tech Tower in midtown Manhattan, a sophisticated new building being constructed as the new corporate headquarters for TN Industries, the high tech powerhouse who seemed to become a monopoly overnight. Jablonski was the sectional construction foreman who oversaw the work of thirty workers on two floors. Above him, he could see the 17th floor beginning to take shape. His group had just completed the ninth floor and began work on enclosing the tenth.

Jablonski had put in a bad night. He had too much to drink and only slept a few hours before beginning his shift. He had rushed to punch in on time and looked a bit slovenly and wasn’t in the best of moods; he didn’t smell particularly good either. He had spent fifteen years on such construction projects and even though he was a bit disoriented this morning, his instincts saw him making the rounds checking his troops were working as they were supposed to. A supply of gypsum wallboard had been delivered to the tenth floor overnight and his workers were beginning to separate and cut them into pieces. Scraps were already beginning to pile up and Jablonski came over to make sure they were properly stacked. Leaning against the pile, Jablonski heard his name called out by his boss who was looking for him. As he twisted his bloated body around to look, his hand lifted a 4′ X 3′ scrap of wallboard which was suddenly picked up by a gust of wind and took flight out of Jablonski’s hand and over the edge of the building. Both Jablonski and his boss hurried to the edge to watch in horror as the wallboard floated downward from the building. Although sidewalk barriers were constructed around the project to protect pedestrians below, the wind pushed the wallboard down and away from the tower and appeared to target an individual walking down the street.

“Look out below!” both Jablonski and his boss yelled to warn the passerby, but it was too late as they watched it crash on the victim’s head breaking into pieces. From this height, such an object would have surely snapped the neck of anyone, but the pedestrian staggered a bit, then stopped, dusted himself off, and continued on his way. A wave of relief covered Jablonski’s face. “Oh, thank God, it was only a Tin Head.”

The expression “Tin Head” had become a natural part of the vernacular a few years ago after the TN-2020 Personal Drone was introduced. The drone was specifically designed to allow humans to telecommute to just about anywhere on the planet using a robot with human-like features. Its premise was rather simple, a human could stay in one location and could connect to a “Tin Head” in another city for example, whereby he could then walk around and visit without actually leaving home. The unit itself looked a bit like a mannequin with devices embedded in it to enable someone to go beyond just sight and sound, but also included special sensors to assist in smelling, and even a certain amount of touch, although it wasn’t perfected yet. Developers also foresaw the development of a taste module. Perhaps the best way to think of a Tin Head is as a “dumb” robot that looks and moves remarkably like a human being.

The TN-2020 was developed by TN Industries of San Jose, California, headed by Terry Noyce, who originally invented the device to help the handicapped overcome physical restrictions. To all outward appearances, the device looked and moved like a human being with the exception of its domed head which resembled a sort of space helmet and housed special transmitters which assembled a hologram of the human subject’s face which moved and spoke in real-time. It was quite realistic. Between the helmet and “TN” model number, the name “Tin Head” was born.

For all practical purposes the Tin Head represents an “out of body experience” (which was used in the company’s advertising). A person wouldn’t purchase a unit, but would rent one instead. To use it, a customer would simply visit one of the many “Tin Head” franchises set up around the country. Working with the staff, you would inform them of your destination and enter a “Home” unit where you would work locally. They would then connect you to a “Remote” unit at your selected destination. When activated, the human in the “Home” unit would only see and hear through the electronic sensors of the “Remote” unit. If the “Home” unit wanted to stand, sit or walk, he could do so easily. It was as if he was actually at the other location.

As mentioned, this technology was originally developed to assist the handicapped who suffered from crippling defects which prohibited them from freely moving about. However, it quickly became apparent to developers the TN-2020 had many other uses, particularly to average consumers who found it necessary to visit other locales, such as business people. Instead of paying for airfare and wasting a lot of time in transit, people could literally be up and running almost immediately at a remote location. Salesmen, consultants, and customer service agents found it a convenient and cost effective approach for visiting customers. For example, a person in Miami could plug into the “Tin Head” network and conduct a presentation in London in the morning, have lunch with a client in New York, and work with a customer in the afternoon in Seattle. When completed, he could exit the “Home” suit and be home in time for dinner with the family.

Although its use in business is the Tin Head’s number one application, it started to catch on with tourists as an inexpensive way to visit foreign destinations. Now, people could experience first hand the beauty of Rome, the Carnival festival in Rio de Janeiro, the ruins of Pompeii, the ancient shogun castles of Kyoto, or wherever. A franchise had even opened on the moon thereby allowing tourists to experience standing on the lunar surface, all from the safety and comfort of their “Home” unit.

Although the TN-2020 is more durable than human skin, it is certainly not indestructible as it would have been cost prohibitive to do so, plus the company didn’t want to invent something that could be used for felonious purposes, such as to rob a bank. However, TN Industries developed a line of “Remote” units more resilient to damage for use in military, space, oceanic, and law enforcement purposes.

Since its introduction, the Tin Head had a dramatic impact on the world. First, it greatly relieved transportation costs. Airlines reported a whopping 30% drop in passengers the first year it was introduced. Over time, it greatly reduced attendance in all forms of transportation which, consequently, decreased dependence on fossil fuels. This, of course, meant sharp drops in fuel costs. The tradeoff though was it forced a reduction in transportation workers as there weren’t as many pilots, operators, and maintenance people needed.

Law enforcement and military personnel found the Tin Head to be invaluable for entering and disarming life threatening situations, thereby causing a decline in crime and terrorism. So much so, governments found it was possible to work at 50% capacity. Perhaps the most interesting application of the Tin Head was in science where it was used in a variety of exploration capacities, on the land, in the sea, and in the air (including space).

Although a lot of people were put out of work as a result of the Tin Head, it also created many new jobs. The demand for the units was so great, factories worked around the clock to build and deliver them to franchises that sprung up as quickly as gas stations in the 20th century.

After recovering from Jablonski’s wallboard, the Tin Head hurried across the street to his next destination. This particular unit was operated by Bruce Abbot who was “Home” in Appleton, Wisconsin. Normally he would personally fly to New York to meet his clients, but winter had been brutal in both Wisconsin and New York, and Abbot thought it would be safer to rent a Tin Head instead. The wallboard incident had startled him, but as an experienced Tin Head user he shook it off and rushed to meet his appointment.

Abbot had been hired by the local VA Hospital to troubleshoot a major project that seemed to have gone awry. The project, which involved millions of federally funded dollars, was intended to totally replace the aging hospital systems. The hospital had plenty of modern computers, but the systems were nothing more than a hodgepodge of programs slapped together by programmers over the years. Not surprising, there was still considerable paperwork involved with admissions, redundant data and work effort, and no consistency in information produced. Consequently, both the medical and administrative staffs didn’t trust the systems and instead acted on instincts and their own procedures. As a result, the hospital routinely operated at a loss and patients were frequently misdiagnosed which resulted in considerably bad press for the hospital, hence the need for the overhaul.

Abbot had spent the last 22 years in the Information Technology field. Although he started out as a programmer, he quickly rose through the ranks due to his ability to ask a lot of questions and grasp the big picture. He started his own consulting firm eight years ago when he realized he could make more money putting out the fires created by others. His reputation was becoming well known in the industry as he cleaned up one systems catastrophe after another. As a person, he was well groomed, articulate in making his points, and genuinely cared about his customers who would inevitably provide him with references for other assignments. He was often asked to be hired permanently by his clients, but Abbot and his family loved Appleton. Besides, he was making too much money as an independent contractor and the Tin Head system gave him the mobility he needed to move around.

For this particular meeting, Abbot knew he had to project an authoritative image and, as such, ordered an “executive” Tin Head which came dressed in a smart looking business suit and tie with matching shoes. It cost a little more than the average Tin Head, but Abbot knew he would need an edge today.

Arriving at the hospital, Abbot took the elevator up to the sixth floor of the Administrative wing where he was met by Hank Stimson, the Hospital’s Director in charge of the project. Stimson didn’t like shaking hands with a Tin Head as he felt it was demeaning, but he did so anyway to form a closer bond with Abbot whom he had met face-to-face for the first time when it became apparent the project was spiraling out of control. Abbot sensed Stimson’s discomfort and made small talk to set him at ease. Stimson appeared to be nervous and agitated. His nails were bitten badly and his hair was messy. Frankly, he looked like he hadn’t been sleeping much.

Before they entered the conference room, Abbot stopped Stimson and assured him, “Now I want you to relax; after you have introduced me, let me do the talking, listen carefully, and take notes.”

As the two walked into the room, they were met by ten people, most of whom Abbot knew personally or had heard of professionally. They were a team of hired consultants representing some of the biggest names in the world of programming, accounting, and health care. The hospital had spared no expense to bring together what was considered by many as a “Dream Team” for the project. There was data base expert Sam Oats, Byron Toring who survived the SOA wars years ago, Francine Tuttle representing JCN Computing, Tory Lansing of the giant accounting firm of PDEK, a small handful of well-known industry strategists and gadflies and the man himself, Ed Ambler, super programmer and author of numerous books on computer science.

Stimson walked Abbot around the room introducing him to everybody before the two sat down at the head of the table. Abbot felt this was a strangely eclectic group of people with huge egos and sensed there was some friction between some of the people.

Abbot thanked everyone for coming to the meeting and for their participation. He noted the room was arranged around a massive circular table in the middle with inlaid computers for each person. On the walls were a variety of white boards bearing graphics and notation. Large sheets of paper with additional notes were taped to the walls. Everything looked incredibly busy. A projector mounted on the ceiling broadcast a large image on the wall towards the front of the room.

“Friends,” Abbot began, “The VA’s Hospital system was initiated 14 months ago with a preliminary budget of 15 million dollars funded by the taxpayers of this country. It is my understanding that as of today, over ten million dollars has been spent yet nothing has been formally delivered to the hospital. Can anybody here give me an assessment of where we currently stand?”

Ambler rose to the occasion and spoke with a swagger, “I believe I can speak on behalf of the group. I can proudly say quite a lot has been accomplished. When we were contracted for this job, we established three teams of expertise, one to handle time reporting and project accounting, one to handle the data base design, and I personally headed up the programming section. What we have come up with is a rather sophisticated software system that will enable administrators to admit, process, and release patients from start to finish.”

Ambler pointed at one of the charts on the wall bearing strange notation and continued, “We have developed a data model of not only the hospital but the average patient as well and embedded all of the pertinent business rules within it, denoting the various afferents, tuples, and efferents. Here on the screen, you’ll see some of the hand held devices which employees will carry; each includes scanning and GPS sensors to input and track data which is being maintained on an off-site server for backup/recovery purposes. Actually, the programming on this will be rather slick as it will make active use of cloud computing, something, you may recall, I helped invent. These next diagrams show…”

“Just a second,” said Abbot, “Where are the requirements for the system? Where is the documentation?”

“This is all based on a series of extensive interviews we conducted with the hospital’s I.T. staff,” explained Ambler.

“No, no, no,” said Abbot, “I’m looking for something in writing that defines the precise business problems to be addressed and the information needed to support the actions and decisions of the users.”

Ambler became somewhat defensive, “Well, we have taken the stakeholders best interests into consideration, but as I’m sure you know, the users don’t really know what they want. They change their minds all the time, which is why we don’t have time to document such nonsense. We decided instead to make the software flexible enough to adapt to any situation that may arise.”

“Have you reviewed any of this with the hospital’s management or staff?” asked Abbot.

“No, we thought this would hold things up. Besides, I’m sure they’ll be happy with the finished product,” assured Ambler.

Abbot asked, “Do you have any documentation of any kind that reflects the design of the system?”

“Aside from the charts and graphs you see in this room, No. We’re programmers, we don’t have time to waste on documentation,” replied Ambler defiantly.

But Abbot wouldn’t let him off the hook, “You mean if, God forbid, something were to happen to you or these charts, there wouldn’t be anyone who could carry on with the project? I see,” and he scribbled some notes on a legal pad. “Anything else?”

“It has become apparent to us that the budget is much less than what is needed to complete this project,” Ambler said matter-of-factly.

“How much more do you think you are going to need?”

“At least another eight million.”

“I see,” Abbot said and he paused to digest what had been told him. He had heard all of this type of gobbledygook before. It was a smokescreen to avoid accountability and to bilk the company out of more money. “Please be seated.”

Regardless of the name Ambler had made for himself, Abbot held him in contempt as just another scatterbrained programmer. Even his dress, speech and mannerisms galled Abbot; very condescending and pseudo-intellectual.

Abbot rose and walked deliberately around the room studying each chart. The camera on his Tin Head recorded the images. After he had circled the room, he reached up and took one of the charts down; he then moved back around the room and took down everything while the others looked perplexed as to what he was doing. He then wiped clean the white boards and turned off the overhead projector. Finally, he took the charts back to his seat and very dramatically tore them in half.”

This was too much for Ambler, “Just what in the hell do you think you’re doing?” he demanded.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Abbot began, “The party is over. You have wasted enough time and money. Today we go to work. Yes, this is a large project but as far as I’m concerned it is overfunded, not under-funded. Tomorrow we’re going to begin by studying the business, specifying requirements, and designing the whole system. Before we write one line of software code, everything is going to be documented, reviewed and agreed upon by the management of this hospital. Any questions?” Abbot’s faced showed no sign of levity.

“This is outrageous!” Ambler shot back, “You can’t say that!”

“I just did,” growled Abbot, “and Mr. Ambler, your services are no longer required.”

Ambler looked shocked. He looked at Stimson and the others for some sign of support but received none. Then, as dignified as possible, he collected his belongings and exited the room slamming the door in the process.

“Anyone else?” Abbot asked. Nobody dared to respond.

“Okay, let’s go to work.”

Afterwards, Stimson thanked Abbot for taking charge of the project and terminating Ambler as it had become obvious he had resisted any form of discipline, accountability, and organization. Stimson now had confidence someone knew how to manage the project, regardless if he had come in as a Tin Head or in person.

Abbot left to return the Tin Head to the franchise. He had earned his keep today. As he walked the streets of Manhattan, he thought about Ambler’s arrogance and chuckled to himself, “I wonder what its like to be fired by a Tin Head?”

For more information on the “Tin Head” book in PDF format, click HERE. For Kindle e-Book, click HERE.

Keep the Faith!

P.S. – Don’t forget my new book, “Tim’s Senior Moments” now available in Printed and eBook form.

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb1557@gmail.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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TIN HEADS – EPISODE 2 – “THE FINAL SALUTE”

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 11, 2015

As this is Veterans Day, I thought I would release a chapter from my “TIN HEADS” book I produced a few years ago. I hope you enjoy it.

“THE FINAL SALUTE”

“Tin Head” – slang expression for the TN-2020 Personal Drone developed by TN Industries, San Jose, California. A “dumb” robot resembling human form with special sensors enabling humans to visit remote locations without having to leave their home location. Unit is distinguished by its domed head, hence the nickname.

James “Bum” Sanders strolled down to the local barber shop for his weekly haircut, cane in hand. He didn’t like carrying the cane but his daughter insisted he use it to balance himself as he was now 102 years young, although he certainly didn’t feel like it. He made the trip to the barber shop once a week in his hometown of Cleveland, Tennessee not because he needed a haircut, he actually had little left on his head, but to kibitz with “Big Al” Smith, the shop’s proprietor, as well as the other visiting patrons.

As Bum walked into the shop he was warmly greeted by everyone as he was well known. Bum was a bit of an institution in the Cleveland area and had run a transmission repair shop for a number of years until he was forced to sell it and retire in his 90’s. He was also active in several civic, fraternal and veterans groups so it was no small wonder just about everyone in town knew him. He was best known though for organizing and managing the Memorial Day service at the cemetery in the Spring, and the local Veterans Day parade in the Fall. As a World War II veteran, these were very important events to him and he insisted they be commemorated with dignity and grace. His signature though was a crisp salute he would give at the end of each service, followed by the words “Semper Fi” to honor his fallen Marine brothers.

During the War, Bum served in the 5th Marine Division which invaded Iwo Jima in 1945. His nickname “Bum” was derived from a wound he suffered in his posterior by a Japanese marksman. Other than this, little was known about Bum’s activities on the island as he was intensely private about the matter, not just to strangers, but to friends and family as well. Nonetheless, rarely did a day go by that Bum did not think of the horrors of war he suffered on Iwo, his friends and comrades he lost, and the enemy soldiers he killed. While on the island, he was assigned flame thrower duty to root out Japanese hidden in the caves and tunnels around Mount Suribachi. Their screams haunted him for many years, something he could not forget, and explained why he refused to talk about it. He served his country honorably, but was acutely aware of the brutalities of war.

Bum found his usual chair in the barber shop and began to chat with Big Al. He didn’t recognize the customer whose hair Big Al was cutting and inquired, “You new around here son?”

“Yes, just moved into the area from Chattanooga. The name is Jeffries, Sam Jeffries.”

“Pleased to meet you,” replied Bum, “It’s good to have another leatherneck in the area.”

Jeffries looked surprised, “How did you know?”

“Not too difficult,” began Bum, “The way you sit at attention in the chair, the crisp press of your clothes, the polish on your shoes, and that jarhead haircut Big Al is giving you. In fact, I would wager that ring you’re wearing bears an eagle, globe and anchor insignia.”

Jeffries laughed, “You got me, you’ve got a pretty good eye sir, and you are…?”

“Bum Sanders my brother; Corporal, USMC, Iwo Jima, 1945,” he snapped, “Welcome to the area.” And he rose to shake the man’s hand. “What brings you around to these parts?”

“I’m opening a new Tin Head franchise here in Cleveland.” Jeffries replied.

“Tin Head? What the heck is that?”

The rest of the people in the barber shop chuckled at Bum’s ignorance as just about everyone knew of the popular Tin Head program. In his defense though, Bum had lost interest in the news a few years ago and, like a lot of senior citizens, tended to avoid new technology.

“It’s something new that allows a person to visit just about anywhere on the planet,” and he gave Bum a brief description of the Tin Head program.

Bum listened intently but asked few questions. He had never heard of such a device before, but the more the man spoke about it, the more absurd the notion seemed to him.

As Jeffries finished his haircut, he produced a business card and said to Bum, “Tell you what; we’re planning on opening the store next week. Give me a call and I would be happy to give you a personal tour.”

Bum thanked him for the courtesy, slipped the card into his shirt pocket, and quickly forgot about it.

Bum still lived at home, much to the concern of his children who worried about his well-being, but he had always been stubbornly independent and remained so after surviving not just one wife, but two. His children were grandparents in their own right and beginning to slow down themselves. At age 102 Bum was still relatively fit and alert, but he worried about losing his health and memory as many seniors do. He still tended to his yard, but finally acquiesced mowing the lawn just a couple of years ago to his great-grandchildren who he would pay generously. When he wasn’t working in the yard, Bum could be found rocking in a favorite chair on his front porch where he would often talk to neighbors walking past his house.

As he settled into his chair, he thought about the Marine he had met earlier before slipping off to a short nap. His encounter with Jeffries caused him to dream about Iwo Jima… Even though he had suffered a shot to his derrière, doctors had been able to patch him together so he could return to duty with his flame thrower, a dangerous occupation with a high mortality rate. Somehow Bum found a way to not only survive, but became quite proficient in clearing the caves and tunnels on the island. If he didn’t burn his victims to death, the flame would suck the oxygen out of the enclosure and suffocate them.

His dream became clearer as he found himself with his Marine squad on the island. It was nighttime and the battle for the island was coming to a close. Despite this, the soldiers were told to beware of desperate Japanese counter attacks. The moon was almost full which provided minimal light to detect motion. Half of Bum’s squad stayed alert while the other half slept. Bum kept checking the forward positions but saw nothing. He then thought his eyes were beginning to play tricks on him and he rubbed them. Had he seen a shadow move or was it his imagination? Squinting to get a better look, Yes, something was moving out there, but what? He shot a flare into the air only to see hundreds of Japanese poised at the edge of the American lines ready to attack. As the flare lit the sky, the Japanese shouted “Banzai!” and lunged forward to attack the American position.

Bum suddenly found himself surrounded by Japanese engaged in hand-to-hand combat. One by one, he watched his squad decimated by the attack. Before he could reach for his weapon he found himself fighting with a Japanese in his foxhole. The attack was savage and even though he fought well, he suddenly felt the pain of a sword slicing into his side. Reaching for his bayonet, he turned to face his attacker and lunged the blade into him. Bum slumped over as he saw fellow Marines respond and scuttle the Japanese charge. “At last, I can rest, I can rest…”

Bum awoke rubbing his side where he thought he had been stabbed. An unfamiliar sharp pain shot through him causing him to sit up. Something was wrong and he called his daughter who lived nearby to take him to see his physician, Dr. Ferguson.

After a preliminary examination, Dr. Ferguson had Bum admitted into the hospital for further tests. The results confirmed the doctor’s suspicions; Bum’s kidneys had become cancerous and would begin to shut down soon. Offhand, doctors would operate for such a condition and the patient would either end up on dialysis or undergo a kidney transplant, but due to Bum’s age and constitution it would be unlikely he would survive either scenario. It began to become painfully obvious to Bum that the end was near.

Word spread quickly around town that Bum was in trouble, including the commander at his VFW post, Charlie Simpson, who visited Ferguson in his office. “Doc, we’ve been old friends for a number of years right? I’m sure you know how important Bum Sanders is to the people of this community. I know he’s old, but we have to do anything we can to help this man as I’m sure he would fight for any one of us.”

“Yes, Bum is a great guy,” Ferguson said, “but he cannot survive an operation and I don’t want to be the one responsible for shortening his life.”

“Doc,” Simpson said, “I’m not sure you aware of this but I’ve been informed by the V.A. that Bum is the last survivor of Iwo Jima.”

“Really? You’re kidding me aren’t you?”

“No. They’re all gone…except Bum. We really need to do something special for him.”

“Have you got something in mind?”

Simpson opened the door and said, “Sam, could you come in here?”

The same Sam Jeffries who met Bum just last week in the barber shop walked into the room and was introduced to Ferguson.

“Sam, tell the doctor what you have got in mind.”

“I’m the manager of the new Tin Head franchise here in town,” Jeffries began, “and I happened to hear about Bum’s problem. I also heard from Charlie how important Bum is to the community and that he is the last survivor of Iwo Jima. I’m a Marine myself, and the battle for Iwo Jima was an important chapter in our history, and I’m sure to Bum.”

“In all the years I’ve known Bum,” Ferguson said, “I knew he survived Iwo but he never liked to talk about it.”

“Well we talked to Bum about the idea,” continued Sam, “and he would like to visit Iwo one last time before he checks out.”

“No way, impossible,” countered Ferguson, “he could never survive such a long trip.”

“Maybe not in person,” said Sam, “but how about through a Tin Head?”

Dr. Ferguson stopped in his tracks. He had never considered this.

“Doctor, you’ve been in a Tin Head before haven’t you?”

“Yes. I was surprised how easy it was to use.”

“Do you think Bum is strong enough to operate a Home unit?” Sam asked.

“I’m not sure. Don’t tell me you’ve got a Tin Head franchise on Iwo Jima, do you?”

“No, but the Navy has plenty of units and I have some contacts which could enable Bum to use a Tin Head on Iwo Jima. Since the 1980’s. the Navy has a program whereby veterans and family members once a year are allowed to visit the island. Over the years though, their numbers have understandably dwindled. Now we’re down to just Bum, and in talking to my contacts, they would be happy to arrange a Tin Head for him, but we would have to confirm this soon as they will be visiting the island in two weeks.”

“That’s an awfully tight window we’re looking at,” said Ferguson, “frankly, I’m not sure he can last that long.”

“Doctor,” pleaded Simpson, “give the man a chance.”

Ferguson paced the office and contemplated the options. “If Bum Sanders wants to take a shot at it, who am I to deny the last Marine of Iwo Jima?”

Bum Sanders still had a problem understanding what exactly a Tin Head was, but after much encouragement from Sam Jeffries and Charlie Simpson, he agreed to give it a try. He was growing tired and weaker with each passing day though. So much so, Jeffries decided to accompany Bum on the trip and assist him if necessary. Fortunately, the Navy was able to accommodate his request and made two Tin Head suits available for the visit.

Sam had to spend a number of hours with Bum explaining the Tin Head’s capabilities and features. As these were to be military issued Tin Heads, Sam explained the suits had greater strength and dexterity which would greatly help Bum who was still in a weakened condition.

As the day of his trip began, Bum Sanders became a celebrity. Charlie Simpson leaked the story to the press and the media was on hand as Bum left the hospital for Sam’s store. The media attention actually helped to raise Bum’s confidence and strength as he was flattered by the attention. He stopped to answer a few questions from reporters:

“Mr. Sanders, when was the last time you were on Iwo Jima?”

“1945; I was with the Marines and I can assure you it wasn’t a pleasure trip.”

“What do you hope to see there today?”

Bum mulled the question over before answering, “I’m not sure, perhaps some old friends and a few old enemies.”

They wished him luck and Jeffries whisked him off to his store where a team of his assistants awaited them. After they arrived, Sam showed the “Home” unit to Bum and reviewed its operations. “Bum, do you think you can handle it?”

“I’ll give it my best shot,” he said, but he was already feeling weak from the short trip to the store.

Dr. Ferguson was on hand to observe the proceedings and was on standby should anything go wrong.

Sam’s assistants helped Bum into the suit which looked like a strange space suit cut in half. The suit was applied by having the person sit in the back portion. A machine suspended from the ceiling held the front portion which was slowly eased on top of the person and pressed together with special snaps thereby forming a single suit. The machine then raised the human subject and suspended him in midair to afford him the mobility he needed to move around.

“Equipment check, Bum, can you hear me?” asked Sam.

“Yes, I hear you fine Sam.”

“Okay, my staff is going to insert our identity cards, program our trip and make contact with the Navy on Iwo. Your screens, audio, and other sensors will come on when the Tin Heads go live. Are you ready?”

“I guess so, as ready as I’ll ever be.”

“Okay, beginning countdown…10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…”

Bum and Sam awoke on the black beaches of Iwo Jima. It was a sunny day and Bum could hear and smell the salt water behind him and turned to look at it.

“Bum, are you okay?” asked Sam as he approached him on the beach.

“Yes, fine…. This is unbelievable,” he replied haltingly.

Back in Cleveland, the Tin Head franchise had setup screens in a sequestered room in the store for Bum’s family, close friends and Dr. Ferguson to watch through the cameras mounted on his Tin Head.

Bum was startled by the clarity of what he could see, the vividness of the sounds, and the smell.

“Excuse me, Mister Sanders and Jeffries?” asked a Marine Lieutenant.

“Yes?” they said in unison.

“I’m Lt. Rice, welcome to Iwo Jima or ‘Iwo To’ as the Japanese call it. Thank you for coming. Is your equipment working properly?”

“Yes, everything seems fine,” they said.

“Then if you’re ready, I would like to take you to my Colonel who is waiting for us further down the beach,” Rice said.

“If you don’t mind Lieutenant,” Bum said, “Can I walk the beach a bit? It’s been a long time since I was here last.”

“Certainly, take your time, I know what this means to you,” and he walked ahead to meet his Colonel.

Bum was exhilarated by his Tin Head. He found he could move as easily as if he were a young man again. After coming to grips with his new physical freedom, he began to appreciate where he was.

He turned to Sam and pointed down the beach, “We landed down there in the southeast and were charged with taking Mount Suribachi. I was just eighteen years old. We were just kids.” And Bum was flooded by memories.

Bum and Sam continued their walk down the beach. Bum explained troop movements during the battle and Sam quietly listened to his friend. The two finally caught up with Lt. Rice and his Colonel who warmly greeted them.

“Mister Sanders, I’m Colonel Benson, welcome back to Iwo Jima. It’s a pleasure having you here today and an honor for us to host you as the last surviving Marine. Mister Jeffries I also want to welcome you and thank you for helping to set this up. What we would like to do is give you a brief tour of the island before we go up Mount Suribachi and visit the Reunion of Honor.”

The Reunion of Honor was started in 1985 and represented a pilgrimage of battle veterans from both sides, Japanese and American. It was held on the summit of Mount Suribachi where a monument was constructed at the spot where Marines raised the American flag. The reunions had stopped three years earlier when it was falsely assumed all the survivors had finally died.

“Mister Sanders,” asked the Colonel, “We’re going to use this vehicle to give you a tour of the island. Is there a particular spot you would like to see?”

“Not offhand, but if I see something, can I ask you to stop?”

“Certainly. Shall we go?”

The party got into the military vehicle, an old Hummer which still ran remarkably well and looked in good condition. Beginning with a general orientation at the current air base operated by the Japanese, the group visited the two abandoned airfields captured during the battle. Bum’s mind began to fill with memories as he recalled how the Marines sliced the island in two. Visions of fallen brothers flashed through his mind’s eye causing his head to suddenly twitch as he recalled one tragedy after another.

After the airfields, the group headed for Mount Suribachi. As the Hummer began to climb the road to the summit, Bum suddenly asked Lt. Rice to stop the truck.

“Sam, help me out will you; I’m getting tired but I must see this,” said Bum.

The group exited the vehicle and stood facing the foot of Mount Suribachi. Sensing Bum’s weakness, Sam kept an arm on Bum to balance him. Bum grew quiet; he had been here before.

“It was here where I was shot,” Bum said as he gazed into the general direction where he imagined the sniper had pulled the trigger.

He then pointed up the hill, “It was over there where I cleaned out the caves with my flame throw,” and he could hear the roar of fire and screams of his victims.

“And it was just about 100 yards over there where we repelled the final Japanese banzai charge. It was nighttime, but if it hadn’t been for the moonlight, they would have completely taken us by surprise and I wouldn’t be standing here with you.”

Bum could see the charge vividly; his shooting of the flare, the hand-to-hand combat, and the soldier he fought in the fox hole. The Japanese soldier appeared to be an officer even though he couldn’t recognize his rank or decorations. He was approximately the same size as Bum whom he charged with a sword. His face was an interesting combination of determination and terror, just plain crazy it seemed to Bum. The officer fought ferociously, but Bum was in better condition and more athletic. In the end, the officer succumbed to Bum’s bayonet. The surprised look on the officer’s face as life drained from his body was indelibly impressed upon Bum, something he couldn’t erase from his memory; something that had haunted him for years. He died valiantly though, a soldier’s death.

“Thank you gentlemen, we can go now. Sam please help me get back in the car, I’m weak.”

Back at the “Home” unit in Tennessee, Ferguson and Bum’s daughter were monitoring Bum’s vitals which were dropping noticeably. So much so, he was forced to call the two through the Tin Head communications channel.

“Sam, this is Dr. Ferguson, can you read me?”

“Yes, we copy just fine. What’s up?”

“Bum’s vital signs are dropping dangerously low. We’re going to have to call this off and get him back to the hospital.”

“No, don’t stop it,” insisted Bum, “I’ve waited too long for this. I must see it to the end.”

“But your family is worried about you Bum.”

“Worried about what? I’ve spent most of my life worrying about everyone else, now it’s finally my turn to worry about myself. I must see this to completion. Whatever you do, I beg of you not to stop this. I relieve all of you of responsibility.”

Reluctantly, Ferguson and Bum’s family acquiesced to his wishes. All they could do now was watch the images he was transmitting back from his “Remote” unit.

The Hummer slowly made its way up to the summit of Mount Suribachi. Upon arrival, Bum climbed out with Sam’s assistance. Despite the strength and durability of the suit, Sam could feel Bum’s weakness.

From the top of Suribachi, Bum could see the overall island. He could see where the ships had been when they pummeled Iwo with shells as a prelude to the invasion, he could see the black beaches where the troops landed, the air fields that were captured, and the caves below.

Here, atop Suribachi was the memorial he had longed to see. It commemorated the battle with two monuments, one side for the Japanese, and the other for the Americans. It wasn’t a massive memorial but it was still very dignified and marked the spot where the Americans had raised the flag denoting the capture of the island.

The group helped Bum over to the American side first where Sam read the inscription to him. They then walked him to the Japanese side. Although it was windy at the summit, Bum appreciated the quiet dignity of the memorial. He was finding peace.

“Please, take me back to the American side.”

They slowly walked him back over to the American monument. He could hear the ocean below, feel the wind, and smell the salt water.

“Please, leave me for a moment, there is something I have to do myself,” and they did so reluctantly.

Bum studied the words on the plaques for a few moments. Then, mustering what little strength he had left, he stood at attention and saluted the monument with his customary crispness. “Semper Fi” he whispered.

He then turned to pay homage to his Japanese adversaries. As he turned towards the Japanese monument, he was suddenly face-to-face with a Japanese officer in full uniform; the same Japanese officer he had fought to the death in his fox hole years ago. The soldier was emotionless and didn’t speak, but snapped a salute to Bum and awaited the return. Bum was stunned. The soldier was impeccably dressed and, by the uniform, Bum could tell he held the rank of captain. The Japanese stood unwavering at attention, still waiting. Bum then drew himself up to attention and returned a crisp salute. As he dropped his arm, he suddenly realized he was surrounded by his squad in Marine dress uniforms quietly lined up behind him. Bum looked confused. He then looked back to the Japanese captain who was now standing with three rows of his soldiers behind him in dress uniform.

Bum’s sergeant then barked, “Attention. Present arms.”

The Japanese captain replied in kind in his native tongue.

Then, one last time, Bum snapped off a salute to his former adversary who returned the salute and slowly smiled at him. The last warrior of Iwo Jima was finally home.

At first, Sam Jeffries, Colonel Benson and Lt. Rice didn’t realize what had happened, nor did Charlie Simpson, Doctor Ferguson, or Bum’s daughter, who had watched the screens from afar; they all just saw Bum standing motionless at attention in his Navy Tin Head saluting the American monument. It was only then, that Ferguson noticed Bum’s vital signs had plummeted. By the time they opened the “home” unit suit, they found a tired old man with his arm at salute and a tear on his face.

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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TIN HEADS – INTRODUCTION

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 6, 2010

JULY 6, 2010Today I release my new eBook, “Tin Heads.” Unlike my editorials and management papers, “Tin Heads,” is a work of fiction. The chapters are much longer than my other papers but this will be a fun read which I hope you will find entertaining.

As a prelude to the book, I am enclosing the Foreword and Introduction below. You can read sections of the new eBook exclusively at my web site:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

I hope you will enjoy it.

FOREWORD

The Tin Head concept as described herein came to me several years ago after making one too many business trips. Air transportation had transformed itself from being a fun and exciting experience to an expensive and laborious proposition. I don’t think anyone relishes the idea of traveling by airplane anymore. You’re prodded through long security lines like cattle, strip searched by people who do not speak your language, squeezed into uncomfortable seats, flights are seldom on time, the meals are horrible, and you’re nickel/dimed to death by the airlines. Regardless what class you’re traveling, passengers are treated like galley slaves. I can hear the sound of the monotonous drum beat now: boom-boom-boom-boom… Best of all, you get to pay exorbitant prices for this privilege.

People no longer enjoy the adventure of travel and consider it a colossal waste of time. They would much rather be at their destination performing their chosen activity, be it business or pleasure.

It occurred to me there has to be a better way for people to meet and discuss business. Teleconferencing is nice, but it lacks the personal touch. People tend to lose interest quickly if you are not physically present in the room with them. Technologists typically believe in exotic solutions which tend to be complicated and impractical to implement. I tend to be more pragmatic; automate as much as is practical to do, but leave the complicated portion to the human being. This is the premise behind today’s aerial drones used by the military and deep-sea drones used in marine research, cheaper and more practical solutions for exploration. If we can create drones for the air and sea, why not devise a land based solution for simpler applications, such as to conduct business at remote locations? Frankly, the Tin Head concept is a viable solution for communications, maybe not in its robust form as described within these pages, but a simpler version could easily be assembled and deployed. Such a device could have a profound effect on our culture socially and economically. It could revolutionize business, reduce our dependency on foreign oil, and greatly improve interpersonal relations.

Not only is it possible for the Tin Head concept to occur, it is highly probable we will see something like this emerge within this decade.

– Tim Bryce

INTRODUCTION

by Greg Stewart

Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.

Tim Bryce is a man of limitless energy, and with that energy comes a limitless vision. In the body of work collected herein, his “Tin Heads” vision takes shape in a way that seems absurd at first, but as we progress through the pages, absurdity gives way to a reality waiting for us right around the corner.

The truth becomes stranger than the fiction.

Let me take a few steps back. The concept of Tin Heads isn’t too far fetched. Anyone with a finger in the material culture has had a chance to see how robots can intersect with our daily lives. Whether it’s the friendly companion Robot from “Lost in Space,” the Roomba robot vacuum, or the extreme where robots take over mankind as in the “Matrix” trilogy of films. Robots are a part of our collective conscious in some way or another. The idea of a robot companion isn’t such a stretch of the imagination, and likely has already intersected with your life in several places today without you even knowing it. Every form of automation employs some degree of robotics to facilitate its process. Robots assemble cars, robots traverse distant planets, and work to avert disasters in the depths of the Gulf. Robots are fast becoming a part of our daily lives, and behind those robots are operators and programmers to command them to do what they want. In short, they go where we want them to go making them our proxy to do what we cannot. So, as the world becomes progressively more complex, why not a robot to navigate by proxy through it?

A robot proxy.

It’s a bit of a stretch to imagine one day we will step out from our “reality” into a machine that connects us to a virtual one, but only so virtual as the monitor, controls, and artificial sensors allow us. One part proxy, one part surrogate, all “you” in the flesh, virtually wherever you choose to be transported to (franchise permitting).

Robots, like computers, give us a complex set of tools to do more than ever, even to replace an aspect of our being or to make ourselves virtually anew. It’s quite a concept and Tin Heads takes us full circle – out past the realm of the fantastic and back to a present reality of just what this technology can do for us as our proxy. But more so, to look at the ways in which we humanize with it going from a passive user to it becoming an extension of our self, a cocoon of sorts from the external reality that our previous self was either too frail to move around in, too lost in our work to escape from, or too absorbed in our limitations to realize our potential without new technology.

Building from a base of mankind’s relationship with computers, the steady escalation of personalized devices and technology can only lead us towards a reality in which these proxies become a reality. Not the pinnacle, but the next step in our use (and abuse) of evolutionary technology. Tin Heads is not just glimpses into how robots make our lives better but how they connect us to the things that matter most, and thereby provides us with a glimpse of our own humanity.

Because it is woven so tightly into the story, the very human complexity that we all have around us, Tin Heads isn’t so much about the robot but about the way we make use of it in the telling of our own lives. What evolves in these narratives are the very real human stories, every bit as engrossing as the science fiction genre that they come from but with a warm beating human heart at its robotic center.

The beauty of Tim’s vision in Tin Heads is the ability to make cold robotics relatable on a human level. As artificial as these machines may seem to be, they offer the ability to extend ourselves as human-beings; a product of vision, and very much a component of our daily lives whether we know it or not. Tin Heads tells the story that we create every day by our very existence only through the cold electronic eye of our proxy, which in the end is every bit as human as the operator.

Truth, stranger than fiction, is still very moving. No matter the means of locomotion, robotic or human, Tim’s vision of this imaginary future is a very real peek of what lies ahead – right around the corner of our collective vision.

– Greg Stewart
Los Angeles, California
June 2010

GOOD REVIEWS

According to reviewer Wayne Brown of Dallas, Texas: “I think you have a fantastic idea here which, in this day and time, is not too far fetched from reality. Your writing style is superb. It is comfortable and really helps the reader’s mind paint a picture quickly. I also like the humorous undertone. It really keeps things interesting.”

John Siggins of Jamestown, New York said, “I have read Tin Heads and enjoyed it very much. Your unique perspective on the technology and management aspects open all kinds of possibilities.”

Click here to go to Tim’s web site to read sections from the eBook:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Click for free PREVIEW EDITION (PDF format).

Click HERE to learn more about the eBook and to order a copy.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Entertainment, Science Fiction | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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