So, You Think We're Friends???
Steve Keirn had me in the figure fore leg lock. "Shades of Jack Brisco" I reached for the ropes and pulled myself under the bottom rope. The referee called for the break. As I came up on the apron, Steve used a suplex to bring me into the ring and pinned my shoulders to the mat. I kicked out and he reached for a head lock. It was his hold, but my advantage. I suplexed him back and as he came to his hands and knees, I reached for the "three quarter nelson." I had him for the three count. (11/7/97) Gainseville County Fairgrounds, Gainseville, Florida before a packed house to become the new Florida Heavyweight Champion)
In my first year of wrestling for Florida Championship Wrestling as their world champion I met only one wrestler who survived the "boot camp" as we used to call it. Eighteen year old Steve Keirn had what it took to make it from the bottom up working for Florida Championship Wrestling. I had the opportunity to work out with Steve, watch him wrestle and offer some advice on the future of his career in Professional wrestling. I have only helped one other wrestler who was as eager and willing to learn as Steve, All Japan's Jumbo Tsuruta. I am proud that I had a small part in the development of Steve Keirn's wrestling career.
The other thing I learned about Steve in that first year as champion was that his father, Air force Captain Richard Keirn an F4-C Pilot had been shot down over North Vietnam in 1965 and was still being held prisoner of war. Steve Keirn's father was the first pilot shot down by a surface to air missile in North Vietnam. His plane was engulfed in flames and his radar systems operator lost his life. Richard Keirn parachuted and was captured by North Vietnamese. Captain Richard Keirn and his fellow POWs were beaten, tortured, placed in solitary confinement and humiliated. They were marched through the streets of Hanoi and threatened by mobs of people. Still Captain Keirn and his fellow American POWs never cracked and even maintained their sense of humor, naming their living quarters the Hanoi Hilton. The elder Keirn refused to let his squadron work on certain projects that would aid the enemy.
On February 12, 1973 a North Vietnamese guard shouted to Richard Keirn, "Today, You go home." On February 17, 1973 at Maxwell Air force Base, Alabama after 7 1/2 years of waiting. Steve Keirn and his family were reunited with Air force Captain Richard Keirn.
In Gainseville, Florida I had the opportunity to talk to Steve for the first time in quite a while. I found out that Steve's father was not only a POW in Vietnam, but World War II also. He has spent a total of nine years through two wars as a prisoner of war, never cracking and never giving up hope in family and country. Steve told me he was hoping that in the near future his father would receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. If it happens it will be an honor well deserved for Steve's father and his family who gave so much on behalf of us all.
The office of Senator Connie Mack, R-Florida, says they have been trying to get the Air Force to consider Richard Keirn for a Medal of Honor. Only members of congress can start the process.
Gunslinger Rap Part II
Jimmy Brasher was my toughest competition as a senior on the Canyon High School Basketball team. Yes, That's right, I was no Michael Jordan but I did play basketball in high school. I fought Jimmy Brasher for that position all season long and we split playing time. On the court in practice we were rough on each other, but there was never a nicer, more friendly person after practice than Jimmy Brasher. (Jimmy Mac Brasher, 4/9/41 - 1/18/67, Vietnam)
As quarterback Jack York barked the signals. The Left Offensive End, blocked to the inside leaving me free for a moment to charge into the backfield. It was the job of the offensive left halfback, Don Blair to keep me out of the play. Don Blair came straight at me and I met him with a forearm blow, knocking him back and making the tackle on the ball carrier.
Coach Clark Jarnigan yelled, "Stop!, stop, Let's do it again, Just Funk and Don Blair. Don, I want you to block him." Now it was just Don and myself with the whole team watching. Coach Jarnigan said, "Get into position, .... Go!" I was a freshman at West Texas State University and Don was a senior starter on the Varsity Football team. Even though I was younger, I had the weight advantage. I met Don square in the chest with another forearm knocking him back again.
Coach Jarnigan again blew the whistle and said. "Don, If it takes all evening, we are all going to wait until you block him." "Get into position, .... Go!" I had about a thirty pound weight advantage over Blair and as a freshman wanted to make an impression on Coach Jarnigan. Don Blair was coming straight at me. I was going to tear his head off with a forearm blow. I threw it as hard as I could, but Don ducked under me and caught me with a shoulder block at the knees. I flipped head over heels and landed on my ass. I could hear Coach Jarnigan say, "Okay everyone lets get on with the scrimmage. Way to go Don."
After practice, Don Blair came by my locker room and said, "Hey Kid, you did a great job. keep up the hard work and you are going to make the starting lineup as a freshman." Three games later, I did start my first game as a West Texas Buffalo against Abilene Christian College. Many thanks to the encouragement of a great football player and good friend who gave me so much as a beginning college athlete. (Don Blair, 3/11/38 - 1/8/66, Vietnam)
I was fortunate that I only lost two dear friends to the war in Vietnam. I don't know why it was them and not me or why it was ever anybody that made the ultimate sacrifice. My father, Dory Funk Sr. was a combat veteran of World War II, operating in the South Pacific on an LST (Landing Craft) in the United States Navy. He was proud to have had the opportunity to serve his country.
To those of you who have served in the military of the United States of America,
May God bless you all.
Gunslinger Short Stories
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