View Full Version : Sayre native asks: ‘Is America Safe?'

08-29-06, 07:12 AM
Sayre native asks: ‘Is America Safe?'
By LISA R. HOWELER Times Reporter

Ret. Major Robert Jordan started his life as a Southern boy in Kentucky, a descendent of Daniel Boone. He also lived briefly in Ohio, but remembers his experiences in Sayre, right before he entered the Marines in 1954, as some of his most memorable.

Jordan attended Sayre High School for two years before becoming a Marine. In 1956 he completed his GED and earned a diploma from Sayre High.

The Marines was a launching pad for Jordan into a life that would take him far beyond his humble beginnings. Jordan is an award-winning writer and broadcaster, who may also be remembered by some as the Marine Corps/Department of Defense spokesperson in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983 when a terrorist truck bomber attack killed 241 people. During the crisis, Jordan was the face of the Department of Defense on 20/20, Nightline, Frontline, and CNN.

Jordan is again becoming a type of spokesperson, this time on current events, through the June release of his latest book, “TERROR - Is America Safe?” co-written with author Don Philpott. The book is available online at Barnes and Nobles.com, www.isamericasafe.com as well as bookstores. It is described by Jordan as “a practical guide” to terrorism, aimed at helping every day citizens “make informed decisions.”

Jordan will be returning to Sayre in September for his 50th high school reunion, and though he's lived all over the world since leaving Sayre, he still considers the Valley his home. His late wife, Ann “Midge” Bish, was from Athens and he still has family and friends in the area, he said, speaking recently from his home in Florida.

Midge passed away in 1995 from cancer. Jordan has since remarried. His wife Evi is also a widow and lost her husband in the Beirut attacks. Jordan and his current wife met during the 15th Beirut Remembrance, held annually in Jacksonville, N.C.

While in the area Jordan will be speaking about his book at Cornell University at 5 p.m., Monday Sept. 18.

Jordan has a lengthy history in the military and a vast knowledge of the reasons for, and the aftermath of, terrorism. It is the inside knowledge of terrorism that led him and Philpott to write a book for the everyday citizen, he said.

Jordan retired from the Marines as a major, received the Bronze Star medal w/”V” as a combat correspondent in Vietnam, founded the Beirut Veterans of America and the U.S. Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association, served as the editor of the Homeland Defense Journal, is a contributing author for The American War Machine, and has written for many other magazines and newspapers. He is now the editor-at-large for the Homeland Defense Journal and current president of Exeter Communications LLC. He is also a public relations consultant and freelance writer, and teaches Managerial Communications at DeVry University's Keller Graduate School of Management.

His first-hand knowledge of terrorism came partly from his experiences in Beirut. According to a biography on he and Philpott's Web site “www.isamericasafe.com” (which came before the book), after returning from Beirut, Jordan provided input to the Department of Defense's study on guidelines for handling terrorist activities.

The book is a historical reference on various terrorist organizations, how they came developed, and what their goals are, said Jordan.

The answer to the question, “Is America Safe,” is “no,” Jordan said.

“America has never been safe,” he said. “It isn't safe now and it never will be. But what is great about America is the immigrants that have come to our shores have never been afraid of terrorism and have overcome it.”

Philpott and Jordan have written about terrorism for various publications, but wondered “What do we need to do for the average citizen? Where does one go to get a one stop shop and get a overview of what the risks are and what you can do about it?” The book was the answer.

It is a guide for those who may not have a deep background in terrorism, said Jordan. It isn't aimed at frightening people, but at helping them prepare for an attack and for the aftermath.

“‘Is America Safe?' is intended to reduce some of our fear by educating us and providing us with the confidence that comes with not feeling powerless,” writes Brigadier General Matthew E. Broderick, USMC (retired), former director of operations for Homeland Security.

The book suggests that people ask themselves, first, if they live in an area that is lucrative for the terrorists to target. If they do then they need to think about what steps they should take in their own lives if a terrorist attack were to happen. Thoughts about how life will continue after an attack are important, said Jordan. The book also focuses on how to face a pandemic, such as the bird flu. Jordan and Philpott feel the bird flu will impact America greatly at some point in the near future, but they also believe Americans can prepare themselves.

“You can no longer afford to be nonchalant, naive or happy-go-lucky when you see a package alone on a mass transportation bus or a vacant car parked in front of a shopping mall,” Jordan said. “You can't be intimidated and not notify the authorities if you see something like that either... The government needs to think, ‘how do you continue to function?' after an attack. There is no need for the economic disruption if you plan it out.”

Preparing for an attack does not mean becoming paralyzed with fear, or always waiting for the “bomb to drop” so to speak, though, said Jordan.

The world today is scary and it's true thousands each year from terrorist attacks, but there are more than a million who die from malpractice, Jordan points out.

Many others die during natural disasters, car accidents, and illness. Terror can claim thousands in a matter of minutes, such as what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, which is why it stands out to the general public as such a looming threat, Jordan said.

“The terrorists are still killing people,” he said. “Think of the people who are afraid to fly and now they are being killed on our highways.”

An attack doesn't have to mean your life is over. It may mean life has changed, but like a person who falls and bruises their knee and knows the bruise will heal, the general population should know that life will also heal and go on, said Jordan.

Life is more than waiting for the next terrorist attack and Jordan knows this. In a couple more weeks he won't be planning for a terrorist attack, but remembering the good life he had in Sayre when he lived there.

“Those were some of the happiest times of my life,” he said.

He remembers block parties held before football games between Athens and Waverly, hours spent skating at the Keystone skating rink, and dances at the recreation center. He also remembers being the Commandant of Cadets, Tioga Point Squadron, Civil Air Patrol; working with Dick Johnson at WATS radio, where he learned about broadcasting; singing in district chorus; playing in some of the teen bands that were popular at the time; hunting and fishing; and hanging out at Chacona's.

“It was a great place to grow up,” he said.

Jordan jokes that at his 45th reunion his former classmates told him they didn't care if he came back, but hoped his wife Evi would. Despite those “harsh” words he said he's still looking forward to seeing his old friends.