Speaker warns against division

Retired U.S. Navy Cmdr. Charles Turner speaks during an Aug. 16 Alabaster-Pelham Rotary luncheon at Shelby Baptist Medical Center. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

A retired U.S. Navy commander said America is facing a dangerous split between the two major political camps, and said the split is having a negative impact on the country during an Aug. 16 Alabaster-Pelham Rotary Club luncheon.

During the luncheon, retired Navy Cmdr. Charles Turner said he was “bothered” by the division America is facing today.

“This country is divided into two camps, and we talk in extremes. It’s not good for our country,” Turner said. “We build extremists, and they go into theaters and shoot people and go into our institutions and shoot people.

“They are fostered by extreme thoughts, and they delve into whatever they need to in order to foster those extreme thoughts,” Turner said.

During the luncheon, Turner also shared several stories from his lengthy career in the Navy. In addition to flying 113 missions and being shot down and rescued during the Vietnam War, Turner also served as Lyndon B. Johnson’s personal pilot while he was the vice president and combated Russian nuclear submarines in the North Atlantic during the Cold War.

“He (Johnson) was a bull in a China shop. If he liked you, he liked you. He enhanced my career dramatically,” Turner said. “He loved to play with the Secret Service. He gave them all kinds of headaches.”

While combating Russian submarines in the North Atlantic, Turner said he was in control of a 10-megaton atomic anti-submarine bomb.

“All we had to do was get within a mile and it would hit them,” Turner said. “Fortunately, we never had to use it.

“(The Cold War) was a tremendously important era in our country as far as warfare,” he added.