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Our Troops in Action
Topic: Our Troops in Action (Read 40282 times)
Ventura IS a war hero
Reply #150 on:
January 05, 2012, 03:49:19 PM »
GM and Doug,
You forgot to mention he served with Schwarzenegger and Weathers and even got injured during that tour of duty.
I am surpirsed he survived his injuries:
Re: Ventura IS a war hero
Reply #151 on:
January 05, 2012, 06:01:24 PM »
Quote from: ccp on January 05, 2012, 03:49:19 PM
GM and Doug,
You forgot to mention he served with Schwarzenegger and Weathers and even got injured during that tour of duty.
I am surpirsed he survived his injuries:
Reply #152 on:
January 18, 2012, 08:07:13 PM »
BTW I met a CMH recipient at the SHOT Show today
Wars lessons being applied to ease combat stress
From Associated Press
January 18, 2012 7:59 PM EST
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (AP) — When the Marine unit that suffered the greatest casualties in the 10-year Afghan war returned home last spring, they didn't rush back to their everyday lives.
Instead, the Marine Corps put them into a kind of decompression chamber, keeping them at Camp Pendleton for 90 days with the hope that a slow re-entry into mundane daily life would ease their trauma.
The program was just one of many that the military created as it tries to address the emotional toll of war, a focus that is getting renewed attention as veterans struggling to adjust back home are accused of violent crimes, including murder.
While veterans are no more likely to commit such crimes than the general population, the latest cases have sparked a debate over whether they are isolated cases or a worrying reminder of what can happen when service members don't get the help they need.
"This is a big focus of all the services, that we take care of our warriors who are returning because they have taken such good care of us," Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said, pointing out that tens of thousands of veterans return home to lead productive lives.
Some, however, fall on hard times, getting into trouble with the law. Others quietly suffer, with their families and friends trying to pull them out of a depression.
In the latest high-profile criminal case involving an Iraq war veteran, a former Camp Pendleton Marine is accused of killing four homeless men in California. His family said he was never the same after his 2008 deployment. In Washington state, an Iraq War veteran described as struggling emotionally killed a Mount Rainier National Park ranger and later died trying to escape.
Suffering from combat stress is an age-old problem. What's new is the kind of wars that troops fight now. They produce their own unique pressures, said psychologist Eric Zillmer, a Drexel University professor and co-editor of the book "Military Psychology: Clinical and Operational Applications."
The war on terror "is very ambiguous, with no front lines, where you can't tell who the enemy is. During the day, he may be a community leader and, at night, a guerrilla fighter. You never know when an assault takes place. It's very complicated, and people feel always on edge," he said.
Add to that, multiple deployments that tax the central nervous system, said Zillmer: "The human brain can only stay in danger mode for so long before it feels like it's lost it. It gets exhausted." He compared going into combat like "diving to the depths of the ocean and when you have to go back to the surface you have to decompress.
"It's the same process," he said. "It's almost a biological process."
A 2009 Army report concluded that the psychological trauma of fierce combat in Iraq might have helped drive soldiers from one brigade to kill as many as 11 people in Colorado and other states. The study found the soldiers also faced "significant disruptions in family-social support."
The military's stubbornly high suicide rate has proven that more help is needed, and that is why it has been investing in helping troops transition back from war zones.
Few units know war's pain more than the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. The Camp Pendleton battalion nicknamed "The Dark Horse" lost 25 members in some of the heaviest fighting ever seen in Afghanistan. More than 150 Marines were wounded. More than a dozen lost limbs.
The Marine Corps brass, concerned about the traumatic deployment's fallout, ordered the entire 950-member unit to remain on the Southern California base after it returned home. The 90 days was the same amount of time crews aboard war ships usually spend upon returning home.
During that time, the Marines participated in a memorial service for their fallen comrades. They held barbecues and banquets, where they talked about their time at war. Before the program, troops would go their separate ways with many finding they had no one to talk to about what they had just seen.
Mental health professionals are monitoring the group, which has since scattered. They say it is too early to tell what kind of impact keeping them together made. Combat veterans believe it likely will help in the long run. The Marines have ordered combat units since then to stick together for 90 days after leaving the battlefield.
"They share a commonality because they've gone through the same thing, so it helps them to come down," said Maj. Gen. Ronald Bailey, the commanding general of one of Camp Pendleton's most storied units, the 1st Marine Division.
"I can tell you from experience that this will help," said Bailey, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The new practice is one of a slew of initiatives ushered in by the new commandant, Gen. James Amos, who has made addressing mental health issues of Marines a top priority. He was concerned by the branch's suicide rate, which has ranked among the highest of the armed services.
Commanders have tried to remove the stigma that seeking help is a sign of weakness. The Marines have set up hotlines and designated psychologists, chaplains and junior troops to identify troubled troops. "We've been in this 11 years and the medical staff and Marine officials are better educated now on dealing with combat stress," Bailey said.
All service members also now undergo rigorous screening of their mental stability both before and after they go to battle.
While Veterans Affairs and Department of Justice have said veterans don't commit more crimes per capita than others, the VA has launched efforts to help veterans in trouble with the law receive help rather than just be locked up.
Since 2009, the VA has had a legal team review cases to see if the best remedy is treatment instead of incarceration. States also have been establishing special veterans courts to do the same. Some say combat stress is also being used by criminals trying to get a lighter sentence.
Veterans agree the military has made great strides in the past few years but they say the help has come too late for many.
Paul Sullivan, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based National Organization of Veterans' Advocates, said the military only started administering medical exams of service members before and after deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007 to identify problems early so they can be treated more effectively and less expensively.
"It's good their implementing it now, yes, however, what's the military going to do with all of the veterans the military didn't examine?" he asked. "That's the problem."
Associated Press writers Amy Taxin in Santa Ana, Calif., Dan Elliott in Denver and Kevin Freking in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.
WSJ: Rescue operation Somalia. All GGs saved, all BGs killed.
Reply #153 on:
January 25, 2012, 12:40:48 PM »
By JULIAN E. BARNES And NATHAN HODGE
An elite U.S. special-operations team parachuted into Somalia early Wednesday in a daring and successful nighttime rescue, freeing two hostages held since October and killing nine captors.
An elite U.S. special-operations team parachuted into Somalia early Wednesday morning in a daring and successful nighttime raid to free an American and Danish hostage.
The captives, 32-year-old U.S. citizen Jessica Buchanan and Poul Thisted of Denmark, 60, were rescued in the vicinity of Gadaado, Somalia, the U.S. military's Africa Command said.
During the raid, the rescue team found the hostages guarded by nine people, all of whom were killed during the assault, while the captives were found unharmed, according to the U.S. military.
The raid was planned and carried out after U.S. officials developed intelligence on the hostages' location. Military planners were also worried about the deteriorating health of Ms. Buchanan.
"One of the hostages has a disease that was very serious and that had to be solved," Danish Foreign Minister Villy Soevndal told Danish television, the Associated Press reported. Mr. Soevndal didn't provide any more details.
"There was a window of opportunity for military success," said Navy Capt. John Kirby, the chief Pentagon spokesman. "Within the last week or so, we were able to connect enough dots to make the decision."
Capt. Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, declined to provide any details on Ms. Buchanan's medical condition, citing privacy rules. But he said the military's understanding that her condition was deteriorating while she was being held captive "contributed to the sense of urgency" that the raid must be carried out.
U.S. officials said the freed hostages had been taken to a safe location for evaluation.
Ms. Buchanan and Mr. Thisted worked for the nonprofit Danish De-mining Group, which helps locate and clear old land mines and unexploded ordnance from armed conflicts. They had been conducting a demining training course in Somalia when they were kidnapped by gunmen on Oct. 25 as they headed to the airport in Galkayo, a town in central Somalia.
The Danish Refugee Council confirmed that the two aid workers, American Jessica Buchanan, right, and Dane Poul Hagen Thisted, were freed "during an operation in Somalia.
."This mission demonstrates our military's commitment to the safety of our fellow citizens wherever they may be around the world," U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a statement.
Somalia has been a base for piracy and kidnapping, and U.S. forces have staged rescues of other hostages at sea. "It is my hope that all those who work in Somalia for the betterment of the Somali people can be free from the dangers of violent criminals," said Gen. Carter Ham, the commander of U.S. Africa Command.
The unusual raid points to the expanded counterterrorism mission of secretive U.S. special operations teams in the Horn of Africa and elsewhere. Last year, a team of U.S. Navy SEALs staged a daring operation in Pakistan to kill al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden.
After the State of the Union, President Barack Obama, with by First Lady Michelle Obama, informed John Buchanan that his daughter Jessica was rescued in Somalia.
.Pentagon officials said they hadn't confirmed that the people holding the hostages have any direct ties to pirates, and characterized them only as criminals. Still, military officials said that some pirates move between trying to capture ships and other criminal activity.
A pirate who gave his name as Bile Hussein told the AP he had spoken to pirates at the scene of the raid and they reported that nine pirates had been killed and three were missing. He said the raid had been very quick and caught the guards as they were sleeping after having chewed the narcotic leaf khat for much of the evening. Khat is a stimulant but users often sleep heavily after hours of chewing.
A second pirate who gave his name as Ahmed Hashi said two helicopters attacked at about 2 a.m. at the site where the hostages were being held about 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of the Somali town of Gadaado, the AP reported.
In a statement, President Barack Obama praised the "the extraordinary courage and capabilities of our special-operations forces."
In an apparent reference to the raid before Mr. Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night, as the president entered the House chamber, he shook Mr. Panetta's hand and said, "Good job tonight."
The White House said Mr. Obama spoke with Ms. Buchanan's father to inform him of the successful rescue mission.
The raid is unlikely to deter kidnappers in Somalia, parts of which have been buffeted by drought, famine and armed conflict over the last two years, said Emmanuel Ksiangani, a senior researcher at the South Africa-based Institute for Security Studies who monitors Somalia.
"This doesn't change the dynamic of these people having no other source of livelihood and so they will try again," said Mr. Ksiangani. "They will use this as a propaganda tool. Even if these were criminal elements, they will say [the Americans] killed innocent people and try to capitalize on the deaths of Somalis to create resentment against the United States."
The raid is another example of President Obama's new security strategy, with its emphasis on rapid, low-cost, intelligence-driven strikes, said Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
But there is always risk of failure even in well-planned operations, said Mr. Cordesman, including the possibility that kidnappers might try to kill their hostages.
"There's no such thing a neutral use of force," he said. "There's a reason we call it force. There's a reason we call it war."
A thought upon which to reflect , , ,
Reply #154 on:
January 26, 2012, 05:23:38 PM »
"We had been told, on leaving our native soil, that we were going to defend the sacred rights conferred on us by so many of our citizens settled overseas, so many years of our presence, so many benefits brought by us to populations in need of our assistance and our civilization.
We were able to verify that all this was true, and, because it was true, we did not hesitate to shed our quota of bloo...d, to sacrifice our youth and our hopes. We regretted nothing, but whereas we over here are inspired by this frame of mind, I am told that in Rome factions and conspiracies are rife, that treachery flourishes and that many people in their uncertainty and confusion lend a ready ear to the dire temptations of relinquishment and vilify our action.
I cannot believe that all this is true and yet recent wars have shown how pernicious such a state of mind could be and to where it could lead.
Make haste to reassure me, I beg you, and tell me that our fellow citizens understand us, support us and protect us as we ourselves are protecting the glory of the empire.
If it should be otherwise, if we should have to leave our bleached bones in these desert sands in vain, then beware of the anger of the Legions."
Marcus Flavinius, Centurion in the Second Cohort of the Augusta Legion
USN SEAL Sniper Chris Kyle
Reply #155 on:
January 30, 2012, 10:36:58 PM »
Chris Kyle USN Ret..Most lethal sniper in U.S. history
GET UPDATES FROM Chris Kyle USN Ret.
Late March 2003. In the area of Nasiriya, Iraq
I looked through the scope of the sniper rifle, scanning down the road of the tiny Iraqi town. Fifty yards away, a woman opened the door of a small house and stepped outside
with her child.
The rest of the street was deserted. The local Iraqis had gone inside, most of them scared. A few curious souls peeked out from behind curtains, waiting. They could hear the rumble of the approaching American unit. The Marines were flooding up the road, marching north to liberate the country from Saddam Hussein.
It was my job to protect them. My platoon had taken over the building earlier in the day, sneaking into position to provide "overwatch"--prevent the enemy from ambushing the Marines as they came through.
It didn't seem like too difficult a task--if anything, I was glad the Marines were on my side. I'd seen the power of their weapons and I would've hated to have to fight them. The Iraq army didn't stand a chance. And, in fact, they appeared to have abandoned the area already.
The war had started roughly two weeks before. My platoon, "Charlie" (later "Cadillac") of SEAL Team 3, helped kick it off during the early morning of March 20. We landed on al-Faw Peninsula and secured the oil terminal there so Saddam couldn't set it ablaze as he had during the First Gulf War. Now we were tasked to assist the Marines as they marched north toward Baghdad.
I was a SEAL, a Navy commando trained in special operations. SEAL stands for "SEa, Air, Land," and it pretty much describes the wide ranges of places we operate. In this case, we were far inland, much farther than SEALs traditionally operated, though as the war against terror continued, this would become common. I'd spent nearly three years training and learning how to become a warrior; I was ready for this fight, or at least as ready as anyone can be.
The rifle I was holding was a .300 WinMag, a bolt-action, precision sniper weapon that belonged to my platoon chief. He'd been covering the street for a while and needed a break. He showed a great deal of confidence in me by choosing me to spot him and take the gun. I was still a new guy, a newbie or rookie in the Teams. By SEAL standards, I had yet to be fully tested.
I was also not yet trained as a SEAL sniper. I wanted to be one in the worst way, but I had a long way to go. Giving me the rifle that morning was the chief's way of testing me to see if I had the right stuff.
We were on the roof of an old rundown building at the edge of a town the Marines were going to pass through. The wind kicked dirt and papers across the battered road below us. The place smelled like a sewer--the stench of Iraq was one thing I'd never get used to.
"Marines are coming," said my chief as the building began to shake. "Keep watching."
I looked through the scope. The only people who were moving were the woman and maybe a child or two nearby.
I watched our troops pull up. Ten young, proud Marines in uniform got out of their vehicles and gathered for a foot patrol. As the Americans organized, the woman took something from beneath her clothes, and yanked at it.
She'd set a grenade. I didn't realize it at first.
"Looks yellow," I told the chief, describing what I saw as he watched himself. "It's yellow, the body--"
"She's got a grenade," said the chief. "That's a Chinese grenade."
"Take a shot."
"Shoot. Get the grenade. The Marines--"
I hesitated. Someone was trying to get the Marines on the radio, but we couldn't reach them. They were coming down the street, heading toward the woman.
"Shoot!" said the chief.
I pushed my finger against the trigger. The bullet leapt out. I shot. The grenade dropped. I fired again as the grenade blew up.
It was the first time I'd killed anyone while I was on the sniper rifle. And the first time in Iraq--and the only time--I killed anyone other than a male combatant.
It was my duty to shoot, and I don't regret it. The woman was already dead. I was just making sure she didn't take any Marines with her.
It was clear that not only did she want to kill them, but she didn't care about anybody else nearby who would have been blown up by the grenade or killed in the firefight. Children on the street, people in the houses, maybe her child...
She was too blinded by evil to consider them. She just wanted Americans dead, no matter what.
My shots saved several Americans, whose lives were clearly worth more than that woman's twisted soul. I can stand before God with a clear conscience about doing my job. But I truly, deeply hated the evil that woman possessed. I hate it to this day.
Savage, despicable evil. That's what we were fighting in Iraq. That's why a lot of people, myself included, called the enemy "savages." There really was no other way to describe what we encountered there.
People ask me all the time, "How many people have you killed?" My standard response is, "Does the answer make me less, or more, of a man?"
The number is not important to me. I only wish I had killed more. Not for bragging rights, but because I believe the world is a better place without savages out there taking American lives. Everyone I shot in Iraq was trying to harm Americans or Iraqis loyal to the new government.
I had a job to do as a SEAL. I killed the enemy--an enemy I saw day in and day out plotting to kill my fellow Americans. I'm haunted by the enemy's successes. They were few, but even a single American life is one too many lost.
I don't worry about what other people think of me. It's one of the things I most admired about my dad growing up. He didn't give a hoot what others thought. He was who he was. It's one of the qualities that has kept me most sane.
As this book goes to print, I'm still a bit uncomfortable with the idea of publishing my life story. First of all, I've always thought that if you want to know what life as a SEAL is like, you should go get your own Trident: earn our medal, the symbol of who we are. Go through our training, make the sacrifices, physical and mental. That's the only way you'll know.
Second of all, and more importantly, who cares about my life? I'm no different than anyone else.
I happen to have been in some pretty bad-ass situations. People have told me it's interesting. I don't see it. Other people are talking about writing books about my life, or about some of the things I've done. I find it strange, but I also feel it's my life and my story, and I guess I better be the one to get it on paper the way it actually happened.
Also, there are a lot of people who deserve credit, and if I don't write the story, they may be overlooked. I don't like the idea of that at all. My boys deserve to be praised more than I do.
The Navy credits me with more kills as a sniper than any other American service member, past or present. I guess that's true.
They go back and forth on what the number is. One week, it's 160 (the "official" number as of this writing, for what that's worth), then it's way higher, then it's somewhere in between. If you want a number, ask the Navy--you may even get the truth if you catch them on the right day.
People always want a number. Even if the Navy would let me, I'm not going to give one. I'm not a numbers guy. SEALs are silent warriors, and I'm a SEAL down to my soul. If you want the whole story, get a Trident. If you want to check me out, ask a SEAL.
If you want what I am comfortable with sharing, and even some stuff I am reluctant to reveal, read on.
I've always said that I wasn't the best shot or even the best sniper ever. I'm not denigrating my skills. I certainly worked hard to hone them. I was blessed with some excellent instructors, who deserve a lot of credit. And my boys--the fellow SEALs and the Marines and the Army soldiers who fought with me and helped me do my job--were all a critical part of my success. But my high total and my so-called "legend" have much to do with the fact that I was in the shit a lot.
In other words, I had more opportunities than most. I served back-to-back deployments from right before the Iraq War kicked off until the time I got out in 2009. I was lucky enough to be positioned directly in the action.
There's another question people ask a lot: Did it bother you killing so many people in Iraq?
I tell them, "No."
And I mean it. The first time you shoot someone, you get a little nervous. You think, can I really shoot this guy? Is it really okay? But after you kill your enemy, you see it's okay. You say, Great.
You do it again. And again. You do it so the enemy won't kill you or your countrymen. You do it until there's no one left for you to kill.
That's what war is.
I loved what I did. I still do. If circumstances were different--if my family didn't need me--I'd be back in a heartbeat. I'm not lying or exaggerating to say it was fun. I had the time of my life being a SEAL.
People try to put me in a category as a bad-ass, a good ol' boy, asshole, sniper, SEAL, and probably other categories not appropriate for print. All might be true on any given day. In the end, my story, in Iraq and afterward, is about more than just killing people or even fighting for my country.
It's about being a man. And it's about love as well as hate.
Gen. Odierno: The Army in transition
Reply #156 on:
May 03, 2012, 10:35:09 AM »
Last Edit: May 03, 2012, 10:36:55 AM by Crafty_Dog
WSJ: Under Attack in Afg. along the Iranian border
Reply #157 on:
May 12, 2012, 08:15:08 AM »
When the suicide bomber exploded, the world skidded to a stop. The Afghan police pickup truck, 30 yards directly behind us, disappeared in a geyser of thick gray-brown smoke. The only visible object was its hood flying through the air, a black silhouette against the murk, followed by the sound of broken glass falling. Then the smoke thinned, like the curtain rising on a stage, revealing the chaos the bomber had set loose.
The pickup truck wasn't where it was supposed to be. The blast had hoisted it into the air and dropped it onto the median strip. There was a moment's hesitation among the troops next to me in the lead pickup. A lone motorcyclist emerged from the cloud, inexplicably upright and seemingly uninjured.
Police waved angrily at bystanders to get them clear. One Afghan officer fired his rifle in the air to disperse the crowd. I spat out a string of expletives, maybe aloud, maybe in my head. The four Marines and the Afghan policeman in the stricken truck had to be dead. How could they not be?
Sure, this is war, and people die. But it wasn't supposed to be here, and it wasn't supposed to be today.
Zaranj, a town in Afghanistan's Nimroz province, is relatively prosperous, partly because it straddles Highway 9 just before the road crosses the Helmand River and goes into Iran. Every day, 150 or so trucks drive across the border bridge into Afghanistan filled with tiles, cement and other goods. Zaranj gets electricity and clean water from across the border.
Photos: Attack in Afghanistan: Eyewitness Account.View Slideshow
Michael M. Phillips/The Wall Street Journal
When a suicide bomber struck a convoy in Afghanistan, a routine Marine patrol turned into a harrowing firefight. The Journal's Michael M. Phillips documented what happened.
.It's a town so normal-seeming that U.S. officers consider it evidence that they can leave behind a stable Afghanistan in 2014. Zaranj hadn't seen a major insurgent attack since suicide bombers tried to penetrate the governor's compound four years ago. It was an unusual story—an Afghan town dependent on Iran, America's nemesis, as an example of success—and traveling with the Marines was the way to report it.
Because the U.S. doesn't have a base anywhere nearby, every few weeks Marines fly in to escort civilians working to improve the local government and promote economic growth. Instead of their typical armored vehicles, they travel in unarmored forest-green Ford Ranger pickup trucks driven by the Afghan police.
That Saturday, April 28, was sunny and hot. Spring in southern Afghanistan is like a hot summer anywhere else. The patrol was routine. It started at a construction compound where crews were building U.S.-funded facilities for the Afghan Border Police. The Marines paused to take pictures of each other near the 2,100-kilometers-to-Tehran sign. Then they dropped in on the director of the Zaranj customs office, who complained that he hadn't received the scanners he'd been promised.
The director was enormously proud of his huge conference room. The American visitors admired the black chairs, so pristine that they confirmed everyone's belief that few conferences take place at the Zaranj customs office.
The Saturday Essay
Renting Prosperity (5/5/12)
Rethinking the War on Drugs (4/21/12)
Why Airport Security Is Broken—And How To Fix It (4/14/12)
How I Stopped Drowning in Drink (3/17/12)
.There were four pickups in our convoy. Three were all green; one had white sides. I jumped into the latter because I figured that it would be easier to remember which was my ride. It took off in the lead, and I sat on a toolbox in the bed, facing backward so that I could take photos and watch the sights go by. On the way we passed a billboard with pictures of a smiling mother, her daughter and a suicide bomber with an unholy array of explosives strapped to his chest. The police want people to tip them off to coming attacks.
Also in the pickup's bed were 1st Lt. Gabe Sganga and Cpl. Adam Spaw, who wore a tan metal backpack called a Thor. It had an antenna that rose above his head and was supposed to jam wireless signals that insurgents use to detonate roadside bombs. Just before we left, an Afghan police officer in a gray uniform leapt into the truck bed in a fluid stepping motion.
The police tend to drive very fast, and the road was potholed and speed-bumped. Those of us in the bed had to hang on to the black roll bar and sides to keep from getting bounced out.
In a few minutes, we were back in downtown Zaranj, where the road becomes a commercial street, divided down the center by blue and white metal fencing. Carpet dealers, barber shops and other small stores lined the roadsides.
On the dirt sidewalk to our south, a man in a light-colored trousers-and-tunic combination spoke on his cellphone as he watched the trucks pass, eyeing us in a way that made me wonder if he was letting someone know we were coming. But there were also children on the street, many of them waving cheerfully at the passing Marines. The conventional wisdom is that you only have to worry when the locals fade away and take their children with them.
We drove past a motorcycle-parts store. Then the second pickup truck approached the same spot. At that moment a man on the south side of the road pushed a handcart loaded with explosives and ball-bearings into the traffic and detonated it. The Taliban later identified him as Khalid Baloch, dispatched to carry out a "martyr attack on the military convoy of combined U.S.-puppet cowardly forces."
In the truck bed were three men. Benny Flores, a 29-year-old from Talofofo, Guam, was a Navy corpsman. The Marines called him Doc, since he was the guy who was supposed to patch them up if they got wounded. Sgt. Caleb Rauscher, a 22-year-old Brooklynite, had extended his enlistment to go on his third combat tour. Maj. Andrew Kingsbury, 38, a mustachioed former forest firefighter from Seattle, coordinated air cover and evacuation. In the front seats were an Afghan policeman and Marine Master Sgt. Scott Pruitt, a beefy military accountant from Mississippi.
Thinking back I can't recall whether the explosion was a thud or a crash or just a boom. I just remember it was shocking and heavy and unfair.
Everyone in the lead truck jumped out. The Afghan policeman sprinted toward the column of smoke, gripping his rifle. There was a moment's confusion, which couldn't have lasted more than five or 10 seconds, after which one of the Marines said something like: "We have to get to them" or "We have to go help." Capt. Jewelie Hartshorne, whose job is to talk with Afghan women, ran toward the explosion, dropping something on the dirt sidewalk. It was her tan gloves.
Maj. Kingsbury, who gets his music from Philip Glass and his news from National Public Radio, had been blown onto the north side of the median strip. He had suffered no shrapnel wounds or broken bones. But he had a severe concussion and perforated eardrums, and was confused about why he was no longer in the truck bed. He couldn't see Sgt. Rauscher, his young radio man and sidekick, who had been thrown onto the south lane, just the other side of the truck. Running through the acrid haze, Maj. Kingsbury was seized by a fear that insurgents had somehow snatched him in the aftermath of the blast.
"Caleb," he yelled. "Caleb!"
Unable to find the sergeant, Maj. Kingsbury joined up with Doc Flores, and together they pulled the injured Afghan policeman out of the driver's seat. They could see Master Sgt. Pruitt, badly wounded in the front passenger seat. Shrapnel from the blast had shredded the side of the truck and had hit the master sergeant in the neck. The metal fragments and explosion had also cut deep wounds into his legs, where main arteries flow.
They clambered over the median fence, hoping to reach Master Sgt. Pruitt through the passenger door. On the way, Maj. Kingsbury found Sgt. Rauscher collapsed in a heap on the roadway amid shards of blue plastic police lights. The major knelt beside him, his rifle scraping on the asphalt.
Doc Flores appeared beside them. The explosion had left bright red skid marks where it had burned the back of his neck. The sleeve of his camouflage shirt had been shredded and hung loose on his left arm, which was perforated by metal fragments. He ignored his own wounds and bent over to examine Sgt. Rauscher.
Most of the smoke had cleared by now. Oil bled down on the street from a damaged electrical transformer overhead. Master Sgt. Pruitt sat upright in the passenger seat. I felt a moment of relief. Then his chin dropped to his chest.
Maj. Kingsbury and Capt. Jason Bowers, one of the Marines in the lead truck, yanked at the fence lining the median strip to pull it clear of Master Sgt. Pruitt's door, which had been crushed inward by the blast. They wrenched the fence back but couldn't get access to the cab. Crisscrossing the median again, the two men, rejoined by Doc Flores, went back to the driver's side. The doc reached across to secure tourniquets around Master Sgt. Pruitt's legs. He couldn't find a pulse.
Suddenly, there was a crack of gunfire as insurgent gunmen launched an ambush from three positions. A sniper fired on the patrol from a three-story building to the northeast, while another militant took shots at the police and Marines from the southwest. Two or three fighters opened fire from behind the decorative metal grating of an unfinished three-story building on the north side of the road, directing their shots down onto the pickup's carcass and those around it.
The police sprayed rifle fire back at the insurgent positions. The Marines joined in. Next to the damaged vehicle, Capt. Hartshorne dropped to one knee and aimed her rifle at the source of the shots.
Lt. Sganga had moved up to help Sgt. Rauscher as the others went around to the far side of the pickup. "I need you to try to stand up," the lieutenant, a 30-year-old from Larchmont, N.Y., told the sergeant. The sergeant's legs betrayed him. With his rifle, body armor, radio and other gear, he weighed somewhere close to 300 pounds, and his body was so limp that the lieutenant alone couldn't budge him.
The lieutenant and I grabbed the shoulder straps of Sgt. Rauscher's body armor and tried to drag him off the road. We moved in heaves and lurches, the sergeant's legs and boot heels scraping in the debris that littered the street. The lieutenant told me later that insurgent rounds were skipping off the street around us.
Maj. Kingsbury must have spotted us struggling because he appeared and took my place. Together, he and Lt. Sganga had the horsepower to pull Sgt. Rauscher to the door of the motorcycle-parts shop. At the threshold the sergeant tried to stand, his legs skewed awkwardly beneath him. He collapsed on all fours on the shop floor.
By now even I realized there was a lot of gunfire. I ran into a barber shop with a bright blue metal doorway, a chunky old television and chairs upholstered in red plaid. It was a bad choice. The entire front of the store was glass, and most of that was in shards on the floor. I was alone. I didn't want to be alone.
I scurried next door to the motorcycle-parts store where Maj. Kingsbury and Lt. Sganga had taken Sgt. Rauscher for cover. A small group of bearded Afghan men, apparently shopkeepers, seemed eager to leave and, using hand gestures, asked permission to do so. The Marines shooed them out.
Sgt. Rauscher slumped onto the floor, red streams dripping from his mouth and left eyebrow. "I bit my tongue," he said. The officers took turns holding Sgt. Rauscher's gloved hand and reassuring him that he was going to be OK. Maj. Kingsbury gingerly removed the sergeant's helmet, revealing lacerations that left the helmet's padding wet with blood.
We both knew the head wounds were likely not the only ones he'd suffered. We detached the Velcro straps at the front of the sergeant's body armor and lifted the heavy plate carrier, rolling him onto his left side and exposing what looked like a small entry wound. After rolling him the other way, I ran my hand along his back and side, and when I pulled it away I saw a smear of blood from a spot where shrapnel had cut into his torso. But it was a drip, not a torrent. I didn't notice the burns on his forearm.
The lieutenant was on the radio in the doorway, ducking in and out. The major was busily arranging a medical evacuation and helping with the casualties on the street.
I sat with Sgt. Rauscher. His eyes were bloody, but he could count fingers. Two. Then three.
His mind, though, was a scratched record. "What happened?" he asked.
You were in a pickup truck. It hit an IED. (At the time, we didn't know the blast had come from a suicide bomber, and an improvised explosive device, hidden in the road, seemed the most plausible explanation. Such bombs are the main source of U.S. casualties in Afghanistan.)
Sgt. Rauscher held on to the answer for no more than 15 seconds. He asked again: "What happened?"
You were in a pickup truck. It hit an IED.
Again: "What happened?"
You were in a pickup truck. It hit an IED.
"Is everyone OK?"
"Is my face burned?"
"Is everyone OK?"
I tried to answer the questions with the same words and intonation, as if I'd not already answered them. I'm not sure why; maybe I thought the words would stick that way. "You were in a pickup truck. It hit an IED."
I didn't want to lie to the sergeant when he asked about his fellow Marines. But I didn't want to worry him either. I didn't answer directly, saying instead, "They're figuring that out right now."
But in the doorway, the lieutenant was on the radio with headquarters, filing a preliminary casualty report. Sgt. Rauscher didn't seem to catch on to what the lieutenant was saying, or if he did, he couldn't remember it for long.
About 18 minutes after the bomb went off the drama was pretty much over, at least on Highway 9. Sgt. Rauscher was able to stand again and, with help, hoisted himself into the bed of one of the police trucks. Doc Flores, his arms covered in a mix of his own blood and Master Sgt. Pruitt's, climbed in next to him and began examining the sergeant's wounds. They sped off to the city's hospital.
The explosion had also wounded four civilians, three of them children.
The ambushers melted unseen into the town, except Mr. Baloch, whose corpse lay on the side of Highway 9, his abdomen ripped open by the force of the blast he caused. (The next day, Afghan security agents arrested four men with explosives and trigger devices, who confessed they were operating under the Taliban leadership in Pakistan, according to a provincial official. They had planned to try to kill the provincial governor but took advantage of the opportunity to target Americans.)
In the early evening, the rest of the patrol returned from the hospital to the provincial governor's guesthouse, where we were staying. Sgt. Rauscher wore just a T-shirt and black anti-blast underpants developed by the military to help guard against roadside bombs. A corpsman wrapped his head in white gauze and bandaged Doc Flores's neck. Sgt. Rauscher was later evacuated to military hospitals in Germany and Maryland, where doctors diagnosed him with a moderate case of traumatic brain injury. His body was peppered with welts from ball-bearings that didn't have quite enough force to penetrate the skin.
Nobody said it aloud, but it was obvious that Master Sgt. Pruitt hadn't survived. There was no urgent medevac helicopter landing. A civilian ambulance had pulled up outside the compound even though the two wounded men were back already. Master Sgt. Pruitt's body was inside.
Doc Flores and Capt. Hartshorne had worked furiously to try to stem the bleeding. But saving his life was never within reach.
Master Sgt. Pruitt, a 38-year-old military accountant, had grown up in Gautier, Miss., and had lobbied hard to get to Afghanistan. Commanders wanted to send a more junior man. But with his retirement planned for next year, Master Sgt. Pruitt didn't want to leave the Marine Corps without having experienced war. "I'll replace someone who's there," he told his mother, Lydia Hobson. "It'll be that much sooner that they get to come home."
He was an accountant through and through. During long meetings, he'd count how many times his colleagues fell back on "at the end of the day" or other clichés or interrupted their thoughts with "uh." As they filed out of the room, he'd jokingly report their scores.
Master Sgt. Pruitt had two daughters, aged 4 and 9, from a previous marriage, and was engaged to a civilian accountant working for the military. He planned to take the family to Walt Disney World during his home leave in July.
Unlike most military accountants, who remain safely at big bases, Master Sgt. Pruitt's job involved visiting U.S.-funded infrastructure projects to make sure taxpayers were getting their money's worth. He'd pack a bag of candy canes or other surprises for the children he'd meet along the way.
On Friday, the day before he died, Master Sgt. Pruitt put his rifle aside and huddled with Shams Assad, the 5-year-old son of one of the officials at the governor's guesthouse. They shared a box of Crayolas and a Sesame Street coloring book.
When he finished coloring in a picture of Grover playing volleyball, Master Sgt. Pruitt tore out the page for the Afghan boy, signed it "Scott" in crayon, and dated it: April 27, 2012.
—Ziaulhaq Sultani contributed to this article.
Kenyan serves in USMC out of respect and gratitude
Reply #158 on:
June 05, 2012, 06:40:15 PM »
Our Troops in Action
Reply #159 on:
June 21, 2012, 12:23:27 PM »
Posted on behalf of Crafty Dog
Mosul, Iraq-- seven years ago
Reply #160 on:
June 30, 2012, 02:40:29 PM »
So that we may remember:
Also posted in the Iraq thread.
Re: Our Troops in Action
Reply #161 on:
July 01, 2012, 11:36:31 AM »
"My death did not change the world; it may be tough for you to justify its meaning at all," wrote Will Stacey, who left behind college baseball at Shasta College in Redding to join the Marines in 2006. Military personnel often leave behind a final letter for their families in case they are killed.
"But there is a greater meaning," Stacey continued. "Perhaps there is still injustice in the world. But there will be a child who will live because men left the security they enjoyed in their home country to come to his. And this child will learn in the new schools that have been built.... He will grow into a fine man who will pursue every opportunity his heart could desire."
"He will have the gift of freedom, which I have enjoyed for so long. If my life buys the safety of a child who will one day change the world, then I know that it was all worth it."
Sgt. Travis Mills
Reply #162 on:
July 03, 2012, 06:22:42 PM »
Plebe Summer Gets Physical
Reply #163 on:
July 12, 2012, 04:49:25 PM »
A friend's boy is here.
Re: Our Troops in Action
Reply #164 on:
September 27, 2012, 05:09:22 PM »
The sub that sank a train
Reply #165 on:
October 09, 2012, 10:48:10 PM »
Thirty-nine years ago, an Italian submarine was sold for a paltry $100,000 as scrap. The submarine, given to the Italian Navy in 1953 ... was originally the USS Barb ... an incredible veteran of World War II service ... with a heritage that should not have been melted away without any recognition.
The U.S.S. Barb was a pioneer, paving the way for the first submarine to launch missiles and it flew a battle flag unlike that of any other ship.
In addition to the Medal of Honor ribbon at the top of the flag identifying the heroism of its Captain, Commander Eugene 'Lucky' Fluckey. And the bottom border of the flag bore the image of a Japanese train locomotive.
The U.S.S. Barb was indeed, the submarine that SANK A TRAIN !
July 18, 1945 In Patience Bay, off the coast of Karafuto, Japan .
It was after 4 A.M. and Commander Fluckey rubbed his eyes as he peered over the map spread before him. It was the twelfth war patrol of the Barb, the fifth under Commander Fluckey. He should have turned the submarine's command over to another skipper after four patrols, but had managed to strike a deal with Admiral Lockwood to make a fifth trip with the men he cared for like a father.
Of course, no one suspected when he had struck that deal prior to his fourth and should have been his final war patrol, that Commander Fluckey‘s success would be so great he would be awarded the Medal of Honor.
Commander Fluckey smiled as he remembered that patrol. Lucky Fluckey they called him. On January 8th the Barb had emerged victorious from a running two-hour night battle after sinking a large enemy ammunition ship. Two weeks later in Mamkwan Harbor he found the mother-lode... more than 30 enemy ships.
In only 5 fathoms (30 feet) of water his crew had unleashed the sub’s forward torpedoes, then turned and fired four from the stern. As he pushed the Barb to the full limit of its speed through the dangerous waters in a daring withdrawal to the open sea, he recorded eight direct hits on six enemy ships.
What could possibly be left for the Commander to accomplish who, just three months earlier had been in Washington , DC to receive the Medal of Honor? He smiled to himself as he looked again at the map showing the rail line that ran along the enemy coastline.
Now his crew was buzzing excitedly about bagging a train!
The rail line itself wouldn't be a problem. A shore patrol could go ashore under cover of darkness to plant the explosives... one of the sub's 55-pound scuttling charges. But this early morning Lucky Fluckey and his officers were puzzling over how they could blow not only the rails, but also one of the frequent trains that shuttled supplies to equip the Japanese war machine. But no matter how crazy the idea might have sounded, the Barb's skipper would not risk the lives of his men.
Thus the problem... how to detonate the explosives at the moment the train passed, without endangering the life of a shore party.
If you don't search your brain looking for them, you'll never find them. And even then, sometimes they arrive in the most unusual fashion. Cruising slowly beneath the surface to evade the enemy plane now circling overhead, the monotony was broken with an exciting new idea : Instead of having a crewman on shore to trigger explosives to blow both rail and a passing train, why not let the train BLOW ITSELF up ?
Billy Hatfield was excitedly explaining how he had cracked nuts on the railroad tracks as a kid, placing the nuts between two ties so the sagging of the rail under the weight of a train would break them open."Just like cracking walnuts,"he explained. To complete the circuit [ detonating the 55-pound charge ] we hook in a micro switch... and mounted it between two ties, directly under the steel rail.
" We don't set it off . . the TRAIN will." Not only did Hatfield have the plan, he wanted to go along with the volunteer shore party.
After the solution was found, there was no shortage of volunteers; all that was needed was the proper weather... a little cloud cover to darken the moon for the sabotage mission ashore.
Lucky Fluckey established his criteria for the volunteer party :
[ 1 ] No married men would be included, except for Hatfield,
[ 2 ] The party would include members from each department,
[ 3 ] The opportunity would be split evenly between regular Navy and Navy Reserve sailors,
[ 4 ] At least half of the men had to have been Boy Scouts, experienced in handling medical emergencies and tuned into woods lore.
FINALLY, Lucky Fluckey would lead the saboteurs himself.
When the names of the 8 selected sailors was announced it was greeted with a mixture of excitement and disappointment.
Members of the submarine's demolition squad were:
• Chief Gunners Mate Paul G. Saunders, USN;
• Electricians Mate 3rd Class Billy R. Hatfield, USNR;
• Signalman 2nd Class Francis N. Sevei, USNR;
• Ships Cook 1st Class Lawrence W. Newland, USN;
• Torpedomans Mate 3rd Class Edward W. Klingesmith, USNR;
• Motor Machinists Mate 2nd Class James E. Richard, USN;
• Motor Machinists Mate 1st Class John Markuson, USN; and
• Lieutenant William M. Walker, USNR.
Among the disappointed was Commander Fluckey who surrendered his opportunity at the insistence of his officers that as commander he belonged with the Barb, coupled with the threat from one that "I swear I'll send a message to ComSubPac if the Commander attempted to join the demolition shore party."
In the meantime, there would be no harassing of Japanese shipping or shore operations by the Barb until the train mission had been accomplished. The crew would ' lay low' to prepare their equipment, practice and plan and wait for the weather.
July 22, 1945 Patience Bay [Off the coast of Karafuto, Japan ]
Waiting in 30 feet of water in Patience Bay was wearing thin the patience of Commander Fluckey and his innovative crew. Everything was ready. In the four days the saboteurs had anxiously watched the skies for cloud cover, the inventive crew of the Barb had crafted and tested their micro switch.
When the need was proposed for a pick and shovel to bury the explosive charge and batteries, the Barb's engineers had cut up steel plates in the lower flats of an engine room, then bent and welded them to create the needed digging tools.
The only things beyond their control were the weather.... and the limited time. Only five days remained in the Barb's patrol.
Anxiously watching the skies, Commander Fluckey noticed plumes of cirrus clouds, then white stratus capping the mountain peaks ashore. A cloud cover was building to hide the three-quarters moon. So, this would be the night.
MIDNIGHT, July 23, 1945
The Barb had crept within 950 yards of the shoreline. If it was somehow seen from the shore it would probably be mistaken for a schooner or Japanese patrol boat. No one would suspect an American submarine so close to shore or in such shallow water.
Slowly the small boats were lowered to the water and the 8 saboteurs began paddling toward the enemy beach. Twenty-five minutes later they pulled the boats ashore and walked on the surface of the Japanese homeland.
Stumbling through noisy waist-high grasses, crossing a highway and then into a 4-foot drainage ditch, the saboteurs made their way to the railroad tracks. Three men were posted as guards, Markuson assigned to examine a nearby water tower. The Barb's auxiliary man climbed the tower's ladder, then stopped in shock as he realized it was an enemy lookout tower . . . an OCCUPIED enemy lookout tower.
Fortunately the Japanese sentry was peacefully sleeping. And Markuson was able to quietly withdraw to warn his raiding party.
The news from Markuson caused the men digging the placement for the explosive charge to continue their work more quietly and slower. Twenty minutes later, the demolition holes had been carved by their crude tools and the explosives and batteries hidden beneath fresh soil.
During planning for the mission the saboteurs had been told that, with the explosives in place, all would retreat a safe distance while Hatfield made the final connection. BUT IF the sailor who had once cracked walnuts on the railroad tracks slipped or messed up during this final, dangerous procedure . . his would be the only life lost.
On this night it was the only order the sub's saboteurs refused to obey, and all of them peered anxiously over Hatfield’s shoulder to be sure he did it right. The men had come too far to be disappointed by a bungled switch installation.
Watching from the deck of the submarine, Commander Fluckey allowed himself a sigh of relief as he noticed the flashlight signal from the beach announcing the departure of the shore party. Fluckey had daringly, but skillfully guided the Barb within 600 yards of the enemy beach sand.
There was less than 6 feet of water beneath the sub's keel, but Fluckey wanted to be close in case trouble arose and a daring rescue of his bridge saboteurs became necessary.
The two boats carrying his saboteurs were only halfway back to the Barb when the sub's machine gunner yelled, ' CAPTAIN !'There's another train coming up the tracks! The Commander grabbed a megaphone and yelled through the night, "Paddle like the devil !",knowing full well that they wouldn't reach the Barb before the train hit the micro switch.
The darkness was shattered by brilliant light . . and the roar of the explosion !
The boilers of the locomotive blew, shattered pieces of the engine blowing 200 feet into the air. Behind it the railroad freight cars accordioned into each other, bursting into flame and adding to the magnificent fireworks display. Five minutes later the saboteurs were lifted to the deck by their exuberant comrades as the Barb eased away . .. slipping back to the safety of the deep.
Moving at only two knots, it would be a while before the Barb was into waters deep enough to allow it to submerge. It was a moment to savor, the culmination of teamwork, ingenuity and daring by the Commander and all his crew. Lucky Fluckey's voice came over the intercom. "All hands below deck not absolutely needed to maneuver the ship have permission to come topside." He didn't have to repeat the invitation.
Hatches sprang open as the proud sailors of the Barb gathered on her decks to proudly watch the distant fireworks display.
Members of the sabotage team pose with the Ships flag (The train mission is noted at the center bottom of the flag)
The Barb had sunk a Japanese TRAIN !
On August 2, 1945 the Barb arrived at Midway, her twelfth war patrol concluded. Meanwhile United States military commanders had pondered the prospect of an armed assault on the Japanese homeland. Military tacticians estimated such an invasion would cost more than a million American casualties.
Instead of such a costly armed offensive to end the war, on August 6th the B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped a single atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima , Japan . A second such bomb, unleashed 4 days later on Nagasaki , Japan , caused Japan to agree to surrender terms on August 15th.
On September 2, 1945 in Tokyo Harbor the documents ending the war in the Pacific were signed.
The story of the saboteurs of the U.S.S. Barb is one of those unique, little known stories of World War II. It becomes increasingly important when one realizes that the [ 8 ] eight sailors who blew up the train near Kashiho, Japan conducted the ONLY GROUND COMBAT OPERATION on the Japanese homeland during World War II.
[Footnote : Eugene Bennett Fluckey retired from the Navy as a Rear Admiral, and wore in addition to his Medal of Honor . .  FOUR Navy Crosses . . a record of heroic awards unmatched by any American in military history.]
In 1992, his own history of the U.S.S. Barb was published in the award winning book, THUNDER BELOW. Over the past several years proceeds from the sale of this exciting book have been used by Admiral Fluckey to provide free reunions for the men who served him aboard the Barb, and their wives.
Available @ Amazon.com
P.S. : He graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1935 ... lived to age 93 ...
How on earth did he ever get through airport security?
Reply #166 on:
October 19, 2012, 10:33:21 AM »
Reply #167 on:
October 24, 2012, 11:59:46 AM »
Reply #168 on:
November 09, 2012, 10:37:10 PM »
How Chicago’s O’Hare Airport Got Its Name
On Sunday, we celebrate Veteran’s Day. Be sure to thank a serviceperson every time
you see one. Today we’d like to honor one veteran – Butch O’Hare, a fighter pilot
in World War II. In January of 1942, shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl
Harbor, Butch’s squadron received orders to leave Hawaii and directly attack Japan.
Unfortunately, his aircraft carrier was spotted by a Japanese scout. Japanese
planes then came swooping in to bomb the American ship, and O’Hare and his comrade,
Duff Dufilho, were just barely launched off the carrier flying their F4F-3
Wildcats. When Duff’s machine gun was jammed during the conflict, Butch realized he
would have to fight alone.
Fearlessly, O’Hare dove into the oncoming Japanese planes and began firing. He
single-handedly shot down five planes in four minutes, causing the rest of the
Japanese planes to turn and fly home. This act of absolute bravery and selflessness
won him a promotion to Lieutenant Commander and the Medal of Honor presented to him
by President Roosevelt. A year later, O’Hare was killed at the age of 29 in a
surprise attack off the coast of Hawaii. A true American hero, Butch O’Hare is
remembered today by his namesake airport, the O’Hare Airport in Chicago. Remember
him the next time you fly into the Windy City.
Did your Daily Pravda tell you this? Lt. Col Raible (WSJ)
Reply #169 on:
November 09, 2012, 11:19:04 PM »
Marc Weintraub: A Harrier Jet Pilot True to the Creed, 'Every Marine a Rifleman' The lieutenant colonel took care of his Marines, whether at home in the States or at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan
By MARC 'VINO' WEINTRAUB A memorial service was held recently for Lt. Col. Chris "Otis" Raible at my former Marine base in Yuma, Ariz. It was a moving ceremony that required overflow seating outside the chapel. Even in Yuma's 100-degree heat, not a chair went empty.
Lt. Col. Raible's fellow commanders and most of the Marine Corps' leadership on the West Coast were in attendance. Fellow Marines of all ranks and ages, and civilians from the local community all took time to pay their respects. Wives and children of Marines still deployed wept not only for Donnella Raible and her three children, but also for this painful reminder that their loved ones are still in harm's way.
The tributes were poignant. Col. Michael Gough, Marine Air Group 13 commander and Lt. Col. Raible's boss, described him as the consummate leader, whether in taking care of his Marines at home in Arizona or leading from the front to mount a counterattack to defend his base. Quite simply, Col. Gough said, "he led."
CloseU.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Ken Kalemkarian/released
Lt. Col. Chris 'Otis' Raible (1972-2012).
.One of the more touching tributes was given by Chief Warrant Officer Two Robert J. Lopez. He told the gathering about a time, prior to this deployment, when he faced some extraordinarily pressing family matters and was given the option of deploying or remaining in Arizona. Lt. Col. Raible, knowing that this Marine would agonize over the decision and wouldn't want to let down his squadron mates, called him into his office, sat him down, and told him that he would remain behind in Arizona as part of the squadron's rear party.
Lt. Col. Raible took the burden of the decision out of the chief warrant officer's hands and made the burden his own. He did what a commanding officer does; he took care of his Marines.
While Lt. Col. Raible's story has certainly permeated the Yuma community, it's doubtful that much of the rest of the country, beyond the Marine Corps circle, knows about him or his death on Sept. 14 at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan. The media coverage of the insurgent attack on Camp Bastion was wholly inadequate. Beyond news that several aircraft were destroyed that night, the reporting tended to focus on the fact that Prince Harry was in the area with British forces but was unscathed.
Here is what happened, and how Otis Raible died. About 15 insurgents wearing U.S. Army uniforms breached the perimeter of the airfield. They were armed with weapons including suicide vests, rocket-propelled grenades and crew-served machine guns. The insurgents succeeded in destroying six U.S. Marine Corps Harrier attack jets, severely damaging two others, and putting a light transport plane out of commission. The losses were worth more than $200 million. The attack on Camp Bastion represents the largest loss of military equipment and capability in a single day since the Vietnam War.
That much information made the news. But you might not have heard much about who defended the rest of Camp Bastion, including buildings that housed hundreds of Marines and dozens more aircraft; and you might not have heard much about who commanded them.
Marine Attack Squadron 211 (VMA-211) took the brunt of the hit. Upon hearing the initial shots and explosions, Lt. Col. Raible grabbed his body armor and pistol and began to lead the counterattack, which his squadron Marines had already undertaken.
As the night unfolded, the insurgents were pinned down in a fight that lasted more than two hours. All insurgents but one were killed. While Marines proudly claim "every Marine a rifleman," and there certainly is some truth to that, these men were aviation maintenance Marines and attack-jet pilots led by their commanding officer.
They don't train to this mission. They fix and maintain highly complex aircraft. They fly missions at 500 knots in the skies over Afghanistan in support of ground operations. And yet they performed heroically, killing the enemy on a dark confusing night. But during the course of the fight, Lt. Col. Raible and one of his men, Sgt. Bradley Atwell, were killed by explosions of rocket-propelled grenades.
We have since learned that the insurgents were not only targeting aircraft but also intended to blow up housing facilities in order to kill as many Marines as possible while they slept. Otis Raible and the VMA-211 Avengers, as they are known, thwarted the plan.
The VMA-211 Avengers have had their legacy defined for the past seven decades by their heroic actions in the battle of Wake Island in World War II; now they can add Camp Bastion to that storied legacy.
Over the past decade, the fighting being done by U.S. forces on behalf of the country has been given too little attention—by our leaders in Washington, by the national press and, in turn, by many Americans. If there is ever a time to remember and appreciate the sacrifice of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, it is on Veterans Day. But beyond thinking about such matters on Sunday, please also vow to reserve some attention for the military the rest of the year.
Indifference, from Washington or the public, is disquieting for those in uniform, who know that the enemies of civilization never rest. Luckily, Lt. Col. Raible and tens of thousands like him are manning the front lines. Rest in peace, Otis, your brothers will take it from here.
Maj. Weintraub retired in 2011 after serving 20 years as a U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier pilot.
RIP Birger Stromsheim
Reply #170 on:
November 18, 2012, 12:08:14 AM »
Birger Stromsheim , , who has died aged 101, was considered the greatest of the “Heroes of Telemark” who in 1943 launched a daring raid to destroy a crucial part of the Nazi atomic weapons programme.
Image 1 of 2
A scene from 'Heroes of Telemark' Photo: ITV/ REX FEATURES
Image 1 of 2Birger Stromsheim
6:28PM GMT 15 Nov 2012
Stromsheim, then 31, was the oldest of a team of six Norwegians trained by the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and parachuted into the Telemark region, in southern Norway, to blow up the Norsk Hydro plant. Set atop an icy ravine at nearby Vemork, the plant produced heavy water, or deuterium oxide, that was central to German hopes of mastering the atomic chain reaction which would lead to a Nazi bomb.
An attempt had already been made to blow up the plant the previous October, when a separate four-man team of Norwegian commandos had been dropped in to Telemark as an advance party for 30 Royal Engineers. But foul weather had led to a series of crashes as the British soldiers were towed into the area in gliders, with the result that some died instantly, and those who escaped were captured by the Gestapo, tortured, and eventually executed.
The failure had alerted the Nazis to potential sabotage plots, and as a result security was increased at Vemork: mines were laid and floodlights illuminated the only approach – a bridge across a 660ft ravine.
Such was Allied concern about the plant, however, that despite these measures, a second bid to destroy the plant was quickly prepared. Operation Gunnerside, as it became known, was led by Joachim Ronneberg. Then aged just 23, he looked up for reassurance to Stromsheim, one of four explosives experts in the team and an expert skier who spoke good English and German. “Birger was the oldest man in the group and was almost like a father to us,” said Ronneberg. “He was a very calm and balanced person, who was extremely valuable.”
Just after midnight on February 17 1943 the Gunnerside team were dropped by parachute into Telemark, where they were to meet the surviving four-man Norwegian team from the previous autumn’s failed mission.
Once again, however, appalling weather intervened, and they landed 18 miles away from the drop zone. Stromsheim and his colleagues were forced to spend five days struggling through snowstorms and freezing temperatures on langlauf skis before finally meeting up with their compatriots.
Together they set off for Vemork at 8pm on February 27. The plant, perched at the top of a thickly-forested ravine, appeared impregnable, with Germans guarding the bridge that led to its entrance. The commandos, however, decided to climb down one side of the ravine, cross the icy River Maan at its base, and climb up the other side, following a railway track that led into the plant.
Arriving at the top of the ravine, a radio operator (Knut Haugland, who later took part in Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki expedition) was left behind to report if anything went wrong, while the other nine abandoned their skis and began the perilous descent, frequently sinking up to their waists in the snow. It was close to midnight before they managed to get to the other side, tired and soaked to the skin.
Leaving another Gunnerside member, Hans Storhaug, with his Tommy-gun trained on the Germans guarding the bridge, the other eight began their assault on the plant. At exactly 30 minutes past midnight, one member of the party ran forward with bolt-cutters to force open the gate while Stromsheim and the six remaining saboteurs held back and provided cover.
Once the gate was opened, a covering party took up firing positions inside the plant while Stromsheim and the three other explosives experts headed through another gate to the basement door, behind which lay the electrolysis chambers that produced the crucial heavy water. This door was supposed to have been left open by a Norwegian mole who worked in the plant – but he had been too ill to go to work that day. Confronted by this unexpected barrier, the explosives team split into two pairs to look for other ways in.
Ronneberg and Fredrik Kayser found an entrance through a cable duct, crawling in to surprise a Norwegian caretaker, whom they held at gunpoint while they began to lay their charges. Meanwhile, Stromsheim and Kasper Idland had found a window at the back of the basement. Unaware that Ronneberg and Kayser were already in, Stromsheim decided they had no choice but to risk alerting the Germans by smashing their way through.
Ronneberg had laid half the necessary charges when he heard the sound of breaking glass. Kayser swung round with his Tommy-gun ready to fire before realising the noise came from their fellow saboteurs. Stromsheim helped place the remaining charges while Ronneberg laid the fuses. Though they had initially planned to give themselves two minutes to get away, the risk of the German guards arriving was such that they instead placed 30-second Bickford fuses, despite knowing that this would not give them enough time to get clear of the plant before the explosion.
The tension was heightened further when, just as the fuses were being set, the caretaker announced that he had misplaced his glasses and refused to leave without them. Though desperate to make their escape, the commandos proceeded to spend precious moments in the search for the spectacles – which were soon located. The foolhardiness of this benevolence was demonstrated when they heard footsteps approaching – but fortunately it was another Norwegian civilian, who was ordered to put his hands above his head while the fuses were lit.
Kayser counted to 10 and then told the two civilians to run for their lives, while the raiders rushed out into the night. In the event they need not have worried. There was only a dull thud as the charges went off, too muffled to alert the guards, but it sent around 1000lbs of heavy water across the floor and down the drains, . “The explosion itself was not very loud,” recalled one of Stromsheim’s colleagues. “It sounded like two or three cars crashing in Piccadilly Circus.”
By the time the guards discovered what had happened, the Gunnerside team were already back across the gorge. Stromsheim, Ronneberg, Idland, Storhaug and Kayser then headed back into the snowstorms on a 250-mile cross-country ski to the safety of neutral Sweden.
Back in Britain, SOE chiefs would later deem Operation Gunnerside the most successful act of sabotage of the Second World War. For his part, Stromsheim was described in his military file by Ronneberg as “beyond doubt the best member of the party”.
Birger Edvin Martin Stromsheim was born in the central Norwegian port of Aalesund on October 11 1911 and worked as a building contractor before the war. He spent the early months of the German occupation building quarters for German soldiers but was determined to get to Britain to join the Special Operation Executive’s team of Norwegian commandos.
He and his wife Aase travelled by boat to the Shetlands in September 1941 and Birger Stromsheim was soon being trained at a succession of SOE bases in weapons’ handling and street-fighting.
The most important preparation he received was at Station XVII, the explosives-training base at Brickendonbury in Hertfordshire, where a full-scale model of the basement of the Norsk Hydro plant was built.
For his part in the raid, Stromsheim was awarded the British Military Medal; the Norwegian St Olav Medal; the US Medal of Freedom; and the French Legion of Honour and Croix de Guerre. The success of Operation Gunnerside convinced the Nazis to relocate their heavy water project and move their remaining stores of potassium hydroxide, from which heavy water was distilled, away from Vemork. The chemical was loaded on a ferry, Hydro, but this was sunk by another Norwegian resistance operation, finally sealing the fate of Germany’s atomic weapons programme.
The events of the two operations were so daring that they was made into the film, The Heroes of Telemark (1965), starring Kirk Douglas and Richard Harris – though the participants were far from complimentary about Hollywood’s attention to detail.
Stromsheim subsequently took part in Operation Fieldfare, which in late 1943 and early 1944 sent him and other Norwegian commandos, including Ronneberg, back into Norway to disrupt German supply lines in the event of an Allied invasion.
After the war, Stromsheim returned to building and was involved in preparations for Norwegian “stay-behind” units in the event of a Soviet invasion of his country.
Birger Stromsheim’s wife predeceased him. He is survived by a son and a daughter.
Birger Stromsheim, born October 11 1911, died November 10 2012
CMOH Staff Sgt Clinton Romesha
Reply #171 on:
February 12, 2013, 10:49:40 AM »
From the official citation for Medal of Honor recipient and retired Army Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha..
At the White House on Monday, President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor, America's highest distinction, to retired Army Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha. From the official citation:
At 6 a.m., Oct. 3, 2009, Combat Outpost Keating in Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, came under complex attack by an enemy force estimated at 400 fighters. The fighters occupied the high ground on all four sides of the combat outpost and initiated the attack with concentrated fire from B10 recoilless rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, known as RPGs, DSHKA heavy machine gun fire, mortars, and small-arms fire.
Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha displayed extraordinary heroism through a day-long engagement in which he killed multiple enemy fighters, recovered fallen Soldiers, and led multiple recovery, resupply, and counterattack operations. . . .
Moving through an open and uncovered avenue that was suppressed with a barrage of RPGs and small-arms fire, Romesha grabbed a limited amount of cover behind a generator and engaged a machine gun team that was on the high ground to the west. . . . As he was engaging, an RPG struck the generator and knocked him onto his assistant gunner. . . . Not noticing his own wounds, Romesha re-engaged the enemy with his weapon system until an additional Soldier arrived to man the machine gun, at which point Romesha moved back through the open avenue to the barracks to assemble an additional team. . . .
Throughout the day, Romesha understood the risks he was taking, and he knowingly put his life in danger to save the lives of his Soldiers and repel a numerically superior enemy force. Romesha was personally responsible for killing more than 10 enemy fighters with either a Dragunov, an M-4 or an MK-48, and an estimated 30 anti-Afghanistan forces with indirect fire and air support. He also led his men in killing a minimum of five others beyond that. Romesha recovered his fallen Soldiers and preserved the lives of several more. His heroic actions allowed B Troop to reconsolidate on the combat outpost and enabled him to lead the counterattack that secured Combat Outpost Keating.
The man who shot Bin Laden
Reply #172 on:
February 13, 2013, 10:48:48 AM »
Guy Gabaldon in WW2
Reply #173 on:
March 12, 2013, 02:55:13 PM »
AN INTERVIEW AND DISCUSSION
On July 7, 1944, the battle to secure the Japanese occupied island of Saipan peaked in one of the largest banzai charges of the Pacific War. The charge lasted over 15 hours and brought the total losses for the island battle to over 30,000. The next morning, American Marine reconnaissance patrols edged their dangerous way forward to map out Japanese lines. As one patrol approached the seacliffs which line the north side of the island, they were greeted by a rare sight. On the flats at the top of the cliff was a single American Marine surrounded by hundreds of Japanese troops, many of them still armed. One might have thought that this Marine was experiencing his last moments on earth. But as the incredulous scouts looked on, it became apparent that the lone Marine was actually ordering his hundreds of "prisoners" into smaller groups, even as more Japanese streamed quietly up from their ocean-side caves. Eventually, 800 Japanese soldiers and civilians surrendered on this one morning, an astonishing number considering that the battle for Tarawa a few months earlier had produced only 146 prisoners from a total garrison of nearly 5,000.
That lone Marine was Private Guy Gabaldon, and by the time of his July 8 "bagging" of 800 prisoners he had already become well known on Saipan for his capture of hundreds of other die-hard enemy troops using a brisk combination of fluent Japanese and point-blank carbine fire. Indeed, his performance was so impressive that he was awarded almost total discretion by his superiors and his solo raids into Japanese lines soon became a hot topic of discussion.
His routine previous to July 8 had been simple but effective; carefully approach a cave, shoot any guards outside, move off to one side of the cave and yell "You're surrounded and have no choice but to surrender. Come out, and you will not be killed! I assure you will be well treated. We do not want to kill you!" At this point, anyone running out with a weapon would be immediately shot, but anyone coming out slowly would be talked into returning to the cave and bringing out others.
On his first sortie Guy captured seven prisoners using this method, only to be told by his commander that if he deserted his post again he would be put under court-martial. The next morning Guy returned from another unauthorized trip, this time with 50 Japanese prisoners. From that moment Guy was granted the envious privilege of "lone wolf" operator. He could do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted. The perfect task for a tough Chicano kid from the East Los Angeles barrios.
On July 6, Guy left on another of his evening patrols and entered an area near Saipan's northern cliffs. It seemed fairly deserted at the time, but before daybreak he realized that hundreds of enemy infantry were moving onto the flats and gathering for an assault. By this time he was cut off from any path of retreat and any attempt to show himself would have resulted in a quick and noisy death. He remained under cover and listened as thousands of Japanese troops and some civilians drank sake and loudly prepared for the largest banzai charge of the campaign. This tragic and unsuccessful charge ended late that evening, with most of the remaining Japanese returning to their cliff-side positions.
The next morning, Guy crept to the edge of the cliffs where he quickly captured two guards. It was then that he embarked on the most risky of his many ventures. After talking to the two men he convinced one of them to return to the caves below. This was a personal moment of truth for both of them. If the soldiers below were still too agitated, then everyone involved would face immediate death and a disgraceful one at that for the two guards. Shortly afterward a Japanese officer and some of his men walked slowly up from the caves and sat down in front of Gabaldon. Within an hour hundreds of Japanese infantry accompanied by civilians began surrendering en-masse; the gamble paid off.
This climactic morning did not end Guy's prisoner-taking days. By the time he was machine-gunned in an ambush, he single-handedly captured over 1,500 soldiers and civilians from the most fanatically inclined army in the world. Decades later stories of the "Pied Piper of Saipan" continued to be told and retold within the Marine Corps, although they were considered by some to be one of many great fish stories of World War Two.
Saipan veterans, however, knew these stories to be true. Guy's actions were witnessed by dozens of officers and hundreds of line soldiers, many of whom repeatedly went on record affirming the dozens of lone sorties and hundreds of prisoners. While the war still raged, his commanders requested that Guy receive the Medal of Honor, but somehow a silver star arrived, which was only later elevated to a Navy Cross. And while many contrasted Guy's 1,500 Japanese prisoners to Alvin York's 132 German prisoners, the United States Marine Corps of the 1940s did not arrange time for further investigation and so the matter lay dormant.
Only in 1998 did veterans become anxious to resolve this long delayed case and push for Guy's Medal of Honor. That year and through 2000, the City of Los Angeles and several district Congressional representatives petitioned the Navy to investigate this matter to help assure a fair resolution. As of this writing, no change in status had been granted.
Talking with Guy
The following "discussion" is actually drawn from a series of talks and writings, the latest of which date from Guy's official recognition ceremony by the County of Los Angeles on September 19, 1998. Readers should be aware that veterans of all nations commonly use slang which may seem rather harsh, and that WTJ does not remove this language from its articles. We prefer that readers be allowed to hear the undiluted voices of the past and thereby establish their own conclusions.
WTJ: Many people are shocked by your recollections of the fighting. After hearing of what you did, they usually expect someone with a more gentle attitude. What would you like those people to keep in mind?
Gabaldon: Many have wondered why I was so calloused to the harshness of battle while only an 18 year-old kid. I believe my childhood in the slums had much to do with my attitude in battle. I think it best to go back to when I was a ten-year-old lad living as a waif in the ghettos of Los Angeles, shining shoes on Skid Row. Fighting in the Pacific tropical jungles and living in the East Los Angeles ghettos had a lot in common - you had to be one step ahead of the enemy or adios mother!
WTJ: Many people talk about what good soldiers Japanese troops made. Did your first hand experience support that?
Gabaldon: I never ceased to be amazed at the stupid carelessness of the Japanese. Time after time, whenever I got the drop on them, they had left themselves completely exposed. The first time it happened I suspected a trap, but later I realized that they were just plain "baka" [stupid]. Good soldiers, hell - they lost every battle against the Marines whether it was at Guadalcanal, Tarawa, the Marshalls, Iwo Jima, and later even on their home turf, Okinawa.
It is hard to understand how and why the Japs would be so careless in their guard duty, but the proof is in the puddin'. I do not believe that I could have taken so many prisoners if the Japs had been a little more cautious, and many of them would be alive today except for their lack of vigilance.
WTJ: Did you ever run into any Imperial Marines? [Editor's Note: Japan had no marines, only naval infantry]
Gabaldon: My friend Jolly and I were the first Americans to see the Garapan Jail and Hospital buildings. It had been rumored that Amelia Earhart had been incarcerated and finally beheaded here, but I seriously doubt that story.
We were now in "no man's land" and our troops were still on a stationary line across the Island, with the 2nd Division on the West Coast and the 4th on the East. Jolly and I approached a well built concrete building in the South Garapan area. (The Hospital Building still stands in good condition). We started crawling towards the building. I went towards the west end and Jolly went towards the east end of the building.
Suddenly two Japanese soldiers came out of the building and stood at the door. It was my first encounter with "Imperial Marines," as we called Japs with an anchor insignia on their belts. I couldn't call out to Jolly without giving my position away, so I yelled at the Japs, 'Te o agete, haiyaku, koroshitakunai da," (raise your hands and I won't kill you). They immediately turned towards me and I could see that they were not members of the Visitors Bureau. Very unfriendly chaps, I'd say. I fired off fifteen rounds, point blank. They were so close that it wasn't necessary to aim. I emptied the clip right from the hip. They both fell, one down the steps onto the grass, the other on the concrete deck.
I reloaded my carbine and waited for more Japs. I could see that the Jap on the grass had gone to his just return, but the other joker was squirming. He had dropped his rifle, but his saber lay across his chest, the hilt in his right hand. Just then Jolly came running around the side of the building with his carbine at the ready. I asked the Jap, "Kochira ni Kaigun tokubetsu rikusentai ga orimasuka?" (Anymore Japanese Marines in this area?). I had shot off his left arm and he had a few holes in his gut, but the stupid sonavabitch swung out with his saber and I was forced to send him to Valhalla with a round to his temple. What a good way to go, no pain. He had used me to commit suicide.
WTJ: Besides watches and weapons, what sort of other booty did you normally find in Japanese positions?
Gabaldon: Rock candy, canned crab meat and lemon soda. Man, did the Japs ever like rock candy and lemon soda! It was in every cave and bunker. And many cases of Kirin beer. That was real Kirin Beer, bottled in Kirin, Manchuria, not like the Kirin Beer today, made in Tokyo. Those Manchurian troops brought the best with them.
WTJ: Well, your biggest day on Saipan was when you captured what has become known as "the 800." What about an official account at this point?
Gabaldon: It was in the morning of 8 July that I took two prisoners on top of the Banzai Cliffs. I talked with them at length trying to convince them that to continue fighting would amount to sure death for them. I told them that if they continued fighting, our flame throwers would roast them alive.
I pointed to the many ships we had lying off shore waiting to blast them in their caves. "Why die when you have a chance to surrender under honorable conditions? You are taking civilians to their death which is not part of your Bushido military code."
The big job was going to be in convincing them that we would not torture and kill them - that they would be well treated and would be returned to Japan after the war. I understood that their Bushido Code called for death before surrender, and that to surrender was to be considered a coward. This was going to be a tough nut to crack.
It was either convincing them that I was a good guy or I would be a dead Marine within a few minutes. I knew that there were hundreds of die-hard enemy at the bottom of the cliffs and if they rushed me I would probably kill two or three before they ate me alive. This was the final showdown. Can I pull this off? I had beat the odds so far, but now the odds are almost insurmountable against being able to get these suicidal Nips into surrendering.
I finally talked one of my two prisoners to return to the bottom of the cliffs and to try to convince his fellow Gyokusai Banzai survivors that they would be treated with dignity if they surrendered.
I kept the other one with me, not as a hostage, but because he said that if he went to the caves with my message and they did not buy it, off with the head. I couldn't help agreeing with him. The one that descended the cliff either had lots of guts or he was going to double-cross me and come back with his troops firing away. Who was the prisoner, me or the Japs? This was the first time that I was caught in this type of predicament. I had many close calls in shoot-outs and forays into enemy territory, but this was mixing it with those bent on killing seven Marines to one Jap.
Here he comes with twelve more military personnel, each with a rifle. This is it! This time I can't tell them to drop their weapons, I can't tell them they are surrounded. I am now a prisoner of the fanatical Manchurian campaign veterans. They don't say a word. They just stand there in front of me waiting for the next move. They're not pointing their weapons at me, but on the other hand, they don't have to. If I go to fire they would have the drop on me. They'd chop me down before I fire a round. I must keep my cool or my head will roll.
"Dozo o suwari nasai!" (Please sit down). I must make them feel that I have everything under control. This is the first time that I think of being too young to demonstrate authority, but what else can I do? "Tabako hoshi desu ka?" (I offer them cigarettes). Okay, let's get down to serious business. I'm building up courage within myself. "Heitai san," (Fellow soldiers!). "I am here to bring you a message from General Holland 'Mad' Smith, the Shogun in charge of the Marianas Operation." "General Smith admires your valor and has ordered our troops to offer a safe haven to all the survivors of your intrepid Gyokusai attack yesterday. Such a glorious and courageous military action will go down in history. The General assures you that you will be taken to Hawaii where you will be kept together in comfortable quarters until the end of the war. The General's word is honorable. It is his desire that there be no more useless bloodshed."
The Japs didn't know General Smith from General Pancho Villa. But they respected the word, "Shogun." "Heitai san, Amerika no Kaigun no Kampo de anata tachi minna korusu koto ga dekimas. "(The American Navy with its firepower can kill all of you). I point to the hundreds of ships off shore. I am making headway. They mumble among themselves, but the very fact that they came to talk with me shows a breakthrough. They could have easily shot me from behind the rocks on the edge of the cliffs. This scam has to work or adios mother.
The one in charge is a Chuii (First Looey). He reaches over and accepts a cigarette, a break. They're coming around. I try something else, the Japanese adage I learned in East L.A., "Warera Nihonjin toshite hazukashii koto o shitara ikemasen." They smile, probably at my poor pronunciation. They know that I am not Japanese. I look like a typical Chicano.
The Chuii asks me if we have a well equipped hospital at our headquarters. Madre mia, they are going to buy my proposition. I tell him, "Tabemono, nomimono, chiryo o agemasho. Amerika Oisha takusan orimasu. Anata no heitai ga kegashita ka?" (we have fine, well equipped doctors - do you have many wounded?) The Chuii gazes at the ships just a few hundred feet off the cliffs. He has to know that to resist is sure death for all, me included. I can see that this guy does not want to die or he would have done himself in last night during the Gyokusai attack. "So da yo! Horyo ni naru!" (So be it! I become your prisoner!) My thought was, "Guy, you short-ass bastard, you did it!"
The Chuii leaves four men with me and takes the rest of his troops over the cliffs. It looks good, but until I see it I won't believe it. If I pull this off it will be the first time in World War II that a lone Marine Private captures half a Japanese regiment by himself. We wait and wait. In the meantime I carry on a conversation with "my prisoners." We talk of their families, where they are from, and so on. I tell them about having lived with Japanese Americans in California and my love for my foster family. I tell them my belief that we, the common soldiers, obey orders and in reality have nothing to do with starting wars. They agree. They like my American cigarettes and the chow in my K-rations.
In less than an hour the Chuii and over fifty men come up over the cliffs. My heart is in my throat. This is the first time in the campaign that I do not have the drop on the enemy. They all sit in front of me. They do not look like defeated men. They are proud and serious - as if they haven't really made up their minds. The best thing for me to do is to show self-assurance in my demeanor. The Chuii tells me that there are many hundreds of people down below, some wounded, some are civilians. He wants medicine for the wounded. It looks like I'm not out of the woods yet. I show him my sulfa powder and tell him that there is much more medicine at our Command Post. I remember that "a wounded Jap is a dangerous Jap." I tell him to bring everyone up to the flat area and we will begin moving back to Garapan, then to Chalan Kanoa. He wants water and medicine, right now, for those in dire need. "Be patient, I give you my word that once you have all your people here I will make contact with my troops."
They start coming up. The lines up the trails seem endless. My God, how many are there? I might as well throw my carbine and sidearm away. If they rush me, sayonara! But they seem to know that they are surrendering.
They all look for someone in authority. Perhaps they thought that there would be hundreds of American troops here. I begin giving orders, separating the civilians from the military and getting the wounded in one area. I'm all over the place. There are many wounded, some seriously, but they have a lot of fight left in them. Some of the younger military want to continue fighting, but the majority would like to give me a chance to come through with my promises. I need help right now or we will have to fight this group, ending up with hundreds dead on each side.
The situation is getting somewhat shaky. The enemy is getting nervous. They want food and water and medical care. If it is not forthcoming it is a sure thing that they will kill me and go back to their caves. One of the Japanese soldiers calls me, "Heitai-san, Minasai. Asoko ni Amerika heitai ga imasu." (Marine-san, look at the American soldiers!)
A few Marines on a hill have seen us. They seem to be bewildered at this scenario. I have one of my "prisoners" wave a skivie shirt on a stick. They see it and I can see them getting in their Jeep. Other Marines on foot come running down the hill. I tell them: "Get some of the seriously wounded, take them to Sick-bay and get me some help immediately, or we're gonna have these guys rebelling." I was so damn busy trying to get a semblance of order I can't remember how long it took help to arrive, but I remember hundreds of Marines arriving on the scene.
WTJ: You also ended up witnessing some of the tragic suicides which happened at the cliffs. I hate to ask, but were they as shocking as I've heard?
Gabaldon: Many Japs, both military and civilians, committed suicide. It was sad to see children struggling with their parents pleading not to be thrown off the cliffs - "Please father, do not kill me. I do not want to die!" These parents were dangerous, desperate people who wanted nothing more than to kill the "American Savages" who they thought would roast and eat their children. "Hurley, look at all those people lined up at the edge of the cliff! They're jumping off by the numbers. My God, man, we've got to stop them. Let's go."
One group was about two hundred yards away from us. I shouted at them as we ran. "Tomare, tomare - seppuku shinaide. Kodomo korosanaide. Dozo, korosanaide.! " I'm begging them to stop killing their children. But I can see that as we approach they jump off in greater numbers. "Hurley, stop. If we get any closer they'll all jump off. I'll try talking to them again."
As we stop we can see four children thrown off. They were pleading with their parents not to kill them. It seems that the children had more faith in us than did their parents. There were about fifty in that group - it seems that there are about ten left. One who apparently is a leader is yelling at the rest I can't make out what he's saying but it is obvious that he's telling them not to surrender. The people look down at the rocks below and see their friends moaning down there. Just about then one of them grabs an infant and tosses him off. That seems to have been a signal because they all start jumping off. In a couple of minutes it's all over. The whole bunch lies down below either dead or dying.
Before leaving Saipan, I went to the Stockade to bid adios to the many people I knew there. There were actually hundreds who I had personally saved from sure death. One guy, Shimabukuro, was a special friend, and he had become my personal barber. "Guy-san, before you leave us, I want you to see someone here who you saved from jumping over the cliff. Do you remember that woman you grabbed right after she had thrown her baby to the rocks down below. The people who were there say that she screamed and fought you, but you held her down. Well, she lost her mind a few days after she was brought here to the stockade. It seems that when she realized that she had killed her child unnecessarily - that the Americans were not going to roast and eat the children - she became "hidari-maki" (lost her mind). Come I will take you to her." There she sat, motionless, just staring straight ahead. My God, what a pathetic sight. I should have let her join her baby that day at the cliffs.
This was truly the horror of war.
Editor's Note: Guy Gabaldon passed away in August, 2006. As of his passing, his previous award status had not changed since the 1998 campaign for the awarding of a Medal of Honor.
Sgt. Greg Robinson
Reply #174 on:
May 04, 2013, 12:45:33 AM »
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (April 30, 2013) -- For almost 12-miles he has been carrying about 35-pounds of gear. He sees a clock in the near distance with red digital numerals closing in on the three-hour mark, the time limit for the near half-marathon march. He wants to sprint to the finish line, but his face winces with every right step taken. His breaths are heavy and pain can be heard with each inhale.
His left leg is in full stride, but his right, being amputated more than six years ago, now pushes forward on a damaged prosthetic; a piston broke a few miles back eliminating fluid motion. He picks up a faster, but still a limping pace. Sweat drips into his eyes and his fists are clenched tight as he approaches the finish line with two minutes to spare.
He stops before crossing, pulls out his canteen, pours water on his helmet and face. He takes a giant step with his left foot and says two words, "Air Assault." He then takes another step with his prosthetic, exhales and accomplishes his mission.
He has just completed the Army's Air Assault School, on one leg.
Sgt. 1st Class Greg Robinson, a 34-year old combat engineer assigned to the Company A, 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), pinned on his Air Assault badge during a graduation ceremony held at Fort Campbell's Sabalauski Air Assault School, April 29.
According to the school's records, Robinson is the first Soldier with an amputated limb and prosthetic to complete the Air Assault School.
LTC Allen West "Even though SFC Robinson’s prosthetic leg broke twice during his time at the school, the standards were never lowered. During the final 12-mile road march with a 35- to 40-liter rucksack and full combat gear, he had to stop and repair his prosthetic leg. SFC Robinson has four combat deployments in his 16 years and quietly stated, “It’s not a disability if you don’t let it slow you down.”
He is assigned to the famed 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), and on graduation day he was pinned with his Air Assault wings before his wife Amanda, 4-year-old daughter Drew, and his soldiers – no phone call from the commander-in-chief, no magazine cover, no tweets giving him praise and accolades.
SFC Greg Robinson does not need their confirmation. He is an American hero who did not swim with the current. He stood like a rock. Air Assault!"
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