I arrived really early to the airport in Chicago to catch my flight back home. I found a seat and settled in for the 3 hour wait before we left. Fifteen minutes later, a older man dressed in a Packers hat, jacket, pants, socks, and carrying a Packers bag came up and sat in the seat next to me. I said to him, “I don’t know why.. but, you strike me as being a fan of the Packers.” We shared a good chuckle, and then we started talking.
I kept asking him questions as I learned more about him, until eventually a question was asked that dug deep into a very personal story. He looked at me seriously and asked, “are you sure you want to know about my story?” I wasn’t sure what I might be getting into, but I told him I’ll hear whatever he wants to tell me.
For the next two hours, he dumped out his story to me. It was fascinating. He served in the Navy, and fought in the Vietnam war. After his service, he entered into the reserves, and eventually started up a freight company to utilize tugs and barges utilizing lake Michigan. An investigation started into his relationship and dealings with a German engine company resulting in a wrongful sentence to prison. Here is the book summary from amazon.com:
“It was – and remains – the largest public/private contract ever entered into in Michigan. More than $35 million in taxpayer’s money was awarded to UPSCO, a company developed to build innovative tug-barge vessels as part of a unique “rails-to-sails” transportation system that promised to revolutionize and transform the U.S./Michigan trucking and shipping industry in the early 1980s. Within seven years, however, two top company officials would be sentenced to prison; the company – and the hundreds of jobs it provided – lay in ruins; political careers were destroyed; and Michigan residents saw millions of their tax dollars disappear in an instant. But now, more than two-and-a-half decades later, federal court records, company documents, secret FBI/U.S. Postal Service Investigation reports and U.S. Attorney records reveal a reality that is hard to believe: Michigan’s largest financial investment flop in history never had to happen; one of the nation’s most farsighted and talented entrepreneurs never had to see the inside of a prison cell; and the level of FBI, prosecutorial and judicial misconduct, sparked by overreaching federal investigative agencies and greedy union and private shipbuilding company owners, rose to a level that is still hard to believe even in these cynical times. “A Fight For Honor: The Charles Kerkman Story” is an inside look at one of the nation’s most outrageous and egregious political and law-enforcement cases told through the life and experiences of Charles Kerkman, the man who lived the governmental nightmare that haunts him to this day.”
His aim in life since is to shed light on the political mess in the current legal system today, and to expose those who sent him to prison to cover up their own mistakes. He is also working on putting together a petition and package for requesting a presidential pardon to recover his honor and his name. If this book and everything he says is true, I really hope he gets what he is asking for. He had to deal with an unbelievable amount of hardship.
Michael Ireland published a book about Charles’ story. You can check out on amazon.com.
So this post goes out to Charles. Thanks for sharing your story with me. I learned a lot and appreciated your honesty and openness with a mere stranger like me, and your drive to do what you can about exposing the issues and cracks in our political and legal systems. I hope that through your sufferings and hardships, you are able to accomplish good and needed things for our country.