Jim "Skip" Mckay

The Mission Never Stops

Commentary by Hazlet Township Committeeman Skip McKay

Aug 26

1970 Raritan High School Graduate Looks Back, 50 Years Later

Posted on August 26, 2020 at 10:39 AM by the author

Originally published July 6, 2020

Dear RHS Class of 2020,


I remember the sun on my face. Sitting on a broken folding chair on the football field while slowly sinking in the sandy crab grass. For the final time, I was with my fellow 364 Raritan High School graduates. I do not remember the speakers or the message at the graduates. As an undistinguished scholar in the top 325ish, I was simply ecstatic school was out -- forever. Hindsight being 20/20 and this year being 2020, I felt compelled to write you the obligatory, unsolicited advice from a fellow RHS graduate, 50 years hence. So here it is.

TIME. You cannot buy it, replace it or delay it. Time is of the essence of life. Nothing is more valuable than time. At 17 or 18, time has little value as you trade it for minimum wage and or study things of no interest. A minute after graduation, you control your own destiny and determine how to spend your remaining, but finite time.

Times change but the value of time remains infinite. In 1970, the world survived the Hong Kong flu which killed over 100,000 Americans. The President and Vice President got the H3N2 flu as well as Apollo astronaut Jim Lovell while in space. On a per capita basis, the Hong Kong flu was more virulent and deadly than COVID-19. Today we closed the economy for the pandemic; my generation had the Woodstock music festival. Fifty years later, who is to say which is the better path.

In 1970, 6,173 young Americans would die in Viet Nam. All male RHS graduates faced a military draft. Your class has the choice to serve or not, thanks to all that choose to do so. I enlisted with three RHS friends into the Navy to avoid the conflict. In boot camp, I changed direction and ultimately became a Navy SEAL, arguably a sportier job than being a sailor. They are all gone today and here I am, still vertical.

That decision altered my life trajectory. A kid from RHS who was absolutely below average in all things deemed valuable by the education system excelled. So I am speaking to the graduate today who got mostly C’s and an occasional D. You now control the TIME God has gifted you. When you grasp the finite nature of time and should you choose not to squander it, then the logical alternative is to go “all in, all the time.” Be passionate about how you choose to live. Do not half-ass this great life!

One final piece of advice: Be effective! Achieve your goals! Be compelling! Not sales-y, but compelling! It is simple and obvious. Use data. Information people accept as real and heed as persuasive. 

Our country is diverse, opinionated and the path forward always in debate. People follow and join passionate, compelling leaders. Whether you are determined to start the next Facebook, Save the Whales or find the vaccine to end all pandemics, I hope this letter is of value to one of you. That one who will write a letter to the RHS class of 2070…

Best Wishes,
Skip McKay, Hazlet
RHS 1970

Aug 26

America Will Never Forget Their Sacrifices

Posted on August 26, 2020 at 10:37 AM by the author

HazletsNavySealsThe authors are Navy SEALs from Hazlet. From left: Terra Flynn, Skip McKay and Peter Wikul. 

Originally published June 30, 2020

COVID-19 has silenced our traditional July 4th fireworks. This silence reminds us of President Truman’s words which greets visitors to the American cemetery in Normandy, France.  Seventy-six years ago, 73,000 American troops stormed Normandy; 6,603 young Americans would not survive the day. The 2020 anniversary of D-Day had a new sadness this year. The American cemetery is a lonely place 364 days a year. In 2020, it will be lonely 365 days. The pandemic eliminated any memorial of these heroes who offered their all, asked for nothing. As our D Day veterans dwindle from age, have we forgotten the sacrifices of our veterans? Perhaps the silencing of July 4th fireworks is appropriate given the tragedy which occurred in our state operated Veterans Homes.   

The COVID-19 Pandemic has been virulent among older people and our veteran community is not an exception. That story is beyond sad and compelling. The state reports 658 elderly and frail Veterans had been living in state operated Veterans Homes. Of these WWII, Korean War, Viet Nam and Global War on Terror veterans, there have been 391 COVID positive cases. Yes, 60% are COVID positive. Worse, we have experienced 142 COVID deaths in these facilities. A mortality rate of 21.6% and growing.

Allow us to provide some perspective on the magnitude of a 21.6% mortality rate in these state-run Veterans homes. The Bataan Death march had an American serviceman mortality rate of 1.3%. The Normandy D-Day invasion had a first day mortality rate of 9%.  It takes the mortality rate of the entire Iwo Jima conflict, the bloodiest battle in Marine Corps history, to have a similar mortality rate at 22%.

These 142 brave souls died alone denied their family’s presence in their final moments. These Veterans stepped up to serve their country and have been sacrificed at a pace not seen since Iwo Jima. They are veterans who have been promised care in return for their service and for whatever reason, the state did not fulfill its obligation to them.

The USNS Comfort was only miles away and empty with 1,000 beds while they were dying by the day. Yet the state left these veterans behind in their COVID infested buildings. These veterans now frail and dependent upon the good will of the country they served valiantly are the people with the highest COVID-19 mortality rate.

On President Truman’s desk was a sign, “The buck stops here.” We want to know where the buck stops now. Who is responsible for this tragedy? Who will assure us that these remaining survivors of this malaise will be cared for properly and with the dignity and respect they so richly deserve?

We humbly beseech you to contact your state representatives and demand they Save Our Soldiers (Sailors)…SOS. As Hazlet’s former Navy SEALs, we were inculcated to never leave a man behind. Join us, VFW Post 4303 and its 150 members to help protect those veterans that can no longer protect themselves. 


 Skip McKay (SEAL)

 Terra Flynn (SEAL

 CAPT. Peter Wikul (SEAL)

Township Committeeman

 

“Bullfrog #13”



John Conti

POST Commander