Tag Archives: Vietnam

My daddy has died.

MarinedaddyConrad Lee Kinsey, 77, died on March 13, 2016, suddenly and peacefully at home.

He was a proud Marine Corps Captain having served his country with four tours of Vietnam. Subsequently, he was disabled from the Marine Corps but went on to develop careers with H&R Block and the Huntington City Mission. He was thrilled to be a part of the Mission’s important work and retired as their Business Manager.

Conrad’s younger years were full of hardship and he frequently said the Marine Corps took him as a poor boy and turned him into an officer and a gentleman. The Marine Corps remained an important part of his identity and Semper Fi served as his password for many applications.

He was a gadget geek with a particular love for computers. He also loved gardening and raised a bodacious vegetable garden each year. He read history with a particular interest in the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, a man for whom he had no respect.

Upon retiring, at the request of his daughter, he began putting his experiences in writing and self-published on Amazon, The Expendables, a memoir of Vietnam wherein he tells the story of the 13 men under his command who died in a fierce battle.   When their bodies were recovered just a few years ago, he went to the funerals.

He loved his wife of 58 years, his family and his dog, Dolleigh who preceded him in death by a month, and had a particular love for his grandson, Jeremy, whom he considered his crowning achievement.  When Jeremy was young, Conrad and he would go to Jolly Pirate Donuts each Saturday morning where Conrad would partake of an apple fritter while Jeremy always tried something different.

He was known among his family and friends for his intellect and sense of humor. He was a gentleman and a gentle person who often served as the calm in the center of the storm. His sister, Irene, referred to him as her rock.  His other siblings express similar sentiments.

He had a strong faith in Jesus Christ as his Savior and made several trips to participate in Promise Keepers events as well as taught Sunday school and Bible study.

Conrad would want to be remembered as a man who loved his God, his country and his family. He would want all to know II Corinthians 6:14-18:

For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will live with them     and walk among them, and I will be their God,     and they will be my people.”

He is survived by his wife, Lou Ellen Kinsey, his brothers and sisters, Thomas Kinsey (Catherine), William Simpson (Marsha), Jeanne Boulton (Richard), Linda Lester, his daughter, Connie Kinsey, his son, Douglas Kinsey (Kathy), his grandson, Jeremy Leinen and his step-grandchildren, Jessica Thompson (Tony), Kevin LeMaster, Jr. (Jennifer), and Joshua LeMaster (Mereanda). He is also survived by loving nieces and nephews and eight great-grand children.  He was preceded in death by his parents, Warren and Emma, his brother Jerry (Eunice), his sisters Irene Mooney and Kathy Davis (Alfred), brother-in-law Jere Mooney, and his son, Conrad Lee Kinsey, Jr.

Visitation is from 6 to 8 pm at Fellowship Baptist Church on Thursday, March 17. The funeral will also be held at the church on Friday, March 18, at 11 a.m.  Burial with military honors will be at Ridgelawn Memorial Park following the church service.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Ellen Kinsey, 379 Pauley Branch Road, Ona, WV 25545


Filed under January 2009, March 2016

Bright, Glittery Things

I’m sitting here sipping Dollar Store wine (another story for another time) and listening to The Cowboy Junkies’ Trinity Sessions. This is one of the great albums of all time. I never get tired of it.

Earlier I was playing on Facebook and sorting out the china cabinet when I was provoked to post a picture of my handiwork and, later, a promise/threat to blog about the china my daddy gave me.

I don’t make idle promises or threats.

china cabinetWhen I was 12, I was a hormonal mess and my father got posted to Iwakuni, Japan. We found out later that he was really slipping in and out of Vietnam in the waning days of that gawdawful war. Like I said, I was a hormonal mess and my father’s leaving, though by no means the first, hit me hard. This was his fourth tour to ‘Nam and I was old enough to understand.

Just before my 13th birthday, I got a priceless letter from him in response to my birthday list he’d asked for. I can’t find that letter and it’s driving me crazy. It’s a gem and highlights all the fine points of my daddy, particularly his sense of humor.

Ichinan any event, I got a catalogue of Noritake china and Sanyo stemware and was told to pick out patterns. As he was in Japan, not really, I was getting china for my birthday.

I’ve been odd since birth. I was ecstatic! I like shiny, bright things and I like food and I love my daddy.

I picked out a pattern with the coordinating stemware that would have been at home in an Andy Warhol painting. It was the 70s. I don’t know if he lied or not, but Daddy said that the pattern was discontinued so he winged it. I received a disappointing and understated set of china for 12 with coordinating stemware. Disappointing in its elegance, it was from my dad and I loved it nonetheless.

stemwareI carried that china from one posting to another and from one apartment and house to another, finally unpacking it and using it for the first time roughly 30 years after I opened it.

In the intervening years my tastes changed and the beauty of it just takes my breath. It’s basic white china with a smoked rim. The glassware is a smoky black.

The serendipity of it all is that without my thinking about it, I decorated this room in a black, brown, white, beige scheme when The Ex and I finally caved and hired a professional to finish the barn. I had to whine and carry on, beg and plead, but I convinced The Ex that after 30 years, I needed and deserved a china cabinet to put the china in. As we were so far over budget by that time, he just threw up his and hands and nodded yes.

The china cabinet and china slid into this room like it should have always been here. It takes my breath, it does, it does.

dragonwareAlso in the cabinet are some pieces that mean something to me for other reasons. Chief are some moriage dragonware that just make me swoon. DragonMan and I discovered the pattern in an antique store outside of Boston one summer. I’ve decided I need snack plates to prop in front of the dinner plates. I have my daddy’s china, Doug’s dragonware, and the wedding mementoes from The EX – all three good men and the love of my life at one time or another.

precious momentsLove is a funny thing. I still love all three of them. Vietnam changed Daddy, change took The Ex and death Doug. But all three of them glitter and glow in a china cabinet from the J. C. Penney.

Good men abound and I’ve been blessed more than my share.



Filed under November 2013

My Favorite Veteran(s)


Marine Corps Veterans - Daddy and his Good Officer's Wife

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Filed under November 2009

McNamara’s Tears

When I wrote the About section, I mentioned Kate Long’s Root Hog.  I had the pleasure of seeing Kate perform at the Appalachian Women’s Alliance’s Ironweed Festival.  The gathering was a blessing in so many respects, but it was especially memorable because I heard her perform McNamara’s Tears, a memoir piece about the Vietnam War.  Although she’s an icon in these parts, meeting and hearing her at the festival was my first exposure to her music.

1966 Brat (with brat being the operative word)

1966 Brat
(brat being the operative word)

The Vietnam War haunts me still.  My father, a career Marine, did four tours in that hell hole.  He still defends the US’s participation in that mess and can’t fathom my anti-war stance.  Hearing McNamara’s Tears was painful, yet cathartic.  The song arrived when I was just beginning to sort out my thoughts and feelings over what I had experienced as a military brat surrounded by other brats whose dads were gone, maimed or dying.  I sat and listened to Kate while the tears rolled down my face. 

I’ve got family members and friends tied up in the current mess.  My mind worries and my heart aches.  Not too long ago Eric Clapton and J.J. Cale released the Road to Escondido.  Aside from my Great Fandom of All Things Clapton, I had to have the album for another reason – the title.  I used to live in Escondido during my nomadic brat years.  When this War is Over is one of my favorite cuts losing out as #1 in my personal hit parade to Ride the River (I do love a good guitar shuffle).

When this war is over, it will be a better day.



Filed under August 2008