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Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities => Politics & Religion => Topic started by: Crafty_Dog on November 03, 2006, 12:45:09 PM

Title: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 03, 2006, 12:45:09 PM
With the words of Senator Kerry lingering in the air, we kick this thread off with the following:
Debunking the myth of the underprivileged soldier
by Tim Kane and James Carafano
November 29, 2005 | 

[back to web version]
They all volunteered. The U.S. soldiers pitching in with hurricane relief along the Gulf Coast and those fighting and dying in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere decided, on their own, to serve their nation.
Or was the decision made so freely? Could it be that unscrupulous Pentagon recruiters duped them, taking advantage of their poverty, their lack of education and the bleak futures they share as members of the USA's urban underclass?

That's the view of some critics, such as New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, who writes that "very few" of the soldiers fighting in Iraq "are coming from the privileged economic classes," and that there would likely be no war if rich kids had to fight. According to Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., social equality demands reinstatement of the draft, which he justifies by asserting that "the most privileged Americans are underrepresented or absent." Herbert concludes that there is "something very, very wrong with this picture."

What's "very, very wrong" with the Rangel-Herbert picture is that it has no factual basis.

According to a comprehensive study of all enlistees for the years 1998-99 and 2003 that The Heritage Foundation just released, the typical recruit in the all-volunteer force is wealthier, more educated and more rural than the average 18- to 24-year-old citizen is. Indeed, for every two recruits coming from the poorest neighborhoods, there are three recruits coming from the richest neighborhoods.

Yes, rural areas and the South produced more soldiers than their percentage of the population would suggest in 2003. Indeed, four rural states - Montana, Alaska, Wyoming and Maine - rank 1-2-3-4 in proportion of their 18-24 populations enlisted in the military. But this isn't news.

Enlistees have always come from rural areas. Yet a new study, reported in The Washington Post earlier this month, suggests that higher enlistment rates in rural counties are new, implying a poorer military. They err by drawing conclusions from a non-random sample of a few counties, a statistically cloaked anecdote. The only accurate way to assess military demographics is to consider all recruits.

If, for example, we consider the education of every recruit, 98% joined with high-school diplomas or better. By comparison, 75% of the general population meets that standard. Among all three-digit ZIP code areas in the USA in 2003 (one can study larger areas by isolating just the first three digits of ZIP codes), not one had a higher graduation rate among civilians than among its recruits.

In fact, since the 9/11 attacks, more volunteers have emerged from the middle and upper classes and fewer from the lowest-income groups. In 1999, both the highest fifth of the nation in income and the lowest fifth were slightly underrepresented among military volunteers. Since 2001, enlistments have increased in the top two-fifths of income levels but have decreased among the lowest fifth.

Allegations that recruiters are disproportionately targeting blacks also don't hold water. First, whites make up 77.4% of the nation's population and 75.8% of its military volunteers, according to our analysis of Department of Defense data.

Second, we explored the 100 three-digit ZIP code areas with the highest concentration of blacks, which range from 24.1% black up to 68.6%. These areas, which account for 14.6% of the adult population, produced 16.6% of recruits in 1999 and only 14.1% in 2003.

Maintaining the strength and size of our all-volunteer military isn't always easy. But Americans step up when their country needs them. To suggest the system is failing or exploiting citizens is wrong. And to make claims about the nature of U.S. troops to discredit their mission ought to be politically out of bounds.

Tim Kane is an Air Force veteran, and James Carafano is an Army veteran. Both are research fellows at The Heritage Foundation.

First appeared in USA Today

Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 03, 2006, 08:52:02 PM
Soldiers' Angels needs you to adopt a soldier.....(or airman, Marine, etc)!

Every year after the holidays we have a shortage of angels and an abundance of soldiers. Here is proof of what your help does for our service members:

To All That Have Supported Us,
My name is SGT A. and I am currently deployed to Kuwait and have been receiving packages and letters from many of your volunteers. I want to take this time to say Thank You from the bottom of my heart. Your support is unparalleled and means so much to us soldiers in our toughest times. You have been there through it all with us. You are in our thoughts and prayers as well as our loved ones. Your group is what keeps us going through rain, cold nights, hot days and everything in between. You have been a shining light to help guide many a soldier. Once again I would like to say Thank you for your unwavering support. Sincerely, SGT A

What angels do:

1) Send two packages a month. These do not have to be expensive. The key to sending support is that they will know someone cares and they get their name called at mail call, or come home to mail on their bunk. If you can send some toiletries and some snacks each month, that's great. Once you sign up, you will get a mentor who can walk you through customs forms and flat rate packages. It's addictive, actually! You'll find you won't be able to go into a store without remembering Dave, who likes Old Spice aftershave, etcetera!

2) Send two letters a week. This seems like a lot but if you sit down to write a quick note to say hi, how are you, and talk a little about things at home, you would be amazed how quickly a letter gets written. Another thing you can do is buy postcards wherever you visit and send one of those each week. Again, it's about getting the names called and letting them know that while they are "over there," those of us "back home" are thinking of them.

If you can do this, please go to and click on "Adopt a Soldier." You will receive a soldier's name and address within a couple of days, as well as an orientation letter.


We hope everyone who reads this can adopt one soldier!!


Written by Ralph Bennett

Since his days growing up in Tampa, Fla. the lanky kid with the slightly mischievous smile had wanted to be a soldier. By this bright morning, April 4, 2003, Sgt 1st Class Paul Ray Smith had more than fullfilled his dream. He had served 15 of his 33 years in the U.S. Army, including three tours of duty in harms way- in the Persian Gulf, Bosnia and Kosovo.
Now all his training, all his experience, all the instincts that had made him a model soldier, were about to be put to the test. With 16 men from his 1st Platoon, B Company, 11th Engineer Battalion, Sgt. Smith was under attack by about 100 troops of the Iraqi Republican Guard.
"We're in a world of hurt" he was heard to say.
That world was a dusty triangular, walled compound about half the size of a football field, near the Saddam Hussein Airport, 11 miles from Baghdad. Sgt. Smith's engineers or "sappers" had broken through the southren wall of the compound with a military bulldozer and begun turning the area into a temporary "pen" for Iraqi prisoners as U.S. forces pressed their attack on the airport.
While they were working, guards spotted a large Iraqi force approaching their position. The guards called for Sgt. Smith to take a look and as he arrived all hell broke loose. They came under heavy fire from machine gunners and RPG's.
The lightly armed work detail needed fire support. Sgt. Smith called for a Bradley fighting vehicle. The Bradley was on site in short order and attacked the enemy force with it's 25mm Bushmaster cannon. Sgt. Smith and his men took up positions around the Bradley as he called for a nearby M-133 personnel carrier for additional fire power from it's .50 caliber machinegun.
As the two vehicles engaged the Iraqis both were hit by motor rounds and RPG's. Sgt Smith lost his fire power to hold back the enemy troops.
Sgt. Smith could have withdrawn but he was the only thing standing between the enemy and a aid station with combat casualties and medical teams a short distance away.
Under fire Sgt Smith and his men extracted three wounded from the APC. Then Sgt Smith positioned the APC where he could cover most of the compound then he manned the machinegun while one of his men fed the belted ammo. His other men made an assault on a guard tower while Sgt Smith layed down fire on the main forces coming at them now from three different positions. His men reached the tower and took it over but Sgt Smith was shot by one of the Iraqis there in the tower just as the other Iraqi troops started turning back because of the accurate fire of Sgt. Smith. 50 dead Iraqi soldiers lay in the area of the compound. Sgt. Smith's vest had 13 bullet holes in it but he had continued to fire while being hit. The shot from the tower hit him in the neck killing him.
When the Army told his mother her son had died in battle she said "Our name is so common, maybe it's a mistake"
On April 4th, 2005, exactly two years after his selfless action, his wife and their children stood in the White House and was presented with Sgt. Smith's Medal of Honor.

Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 03, 2006, 08:56:32 PM
A Camp Divided

As U.S. tries to give Iraqi troops more responsibility,
clash of two American colonels shows tough road ahead.
June 16, 2006 11:24 p.m.; Page A1

Camp Taji, Iraq

This sprawling military base is divided down the middle by massive concrete barriers, a snaking fence and rifle-toting guards. On one side, about 10,000 U.S. Army soldiers live in air-conditioned trailers. There's a movie theater, a swimming pool, a Taco Bell, and a post exchange the size of a Wal-Mart, stocked with everything from deodorant to DVD players.

On the other side are a similar number of Iraqi soldiers whose success will determine when U.S. troops can go home. The Iraqi troops live in fetid barracks built by the British in the 1920s, ration the fuel they use to run their lights and sometimes eat spoiled food that makes them sick.

The only soldiers who pass regularly between the two worlds are about 130 U.S. Army advisers, who live, train and work with the Iraqis.

For many of these advisers, the past six months have been a disorienting experience, putting them at odds with their fellow U.S. soldiers and eroding their confidence in the U.S. government's ability to build an Iraqi force that can stabilize this increasingly violent country.

Army commanders back in the U.S. "told us this was going to be the most thankless and frustrating job we have ever held, and boy, were they right," says Lt. Col. Charles Payne, who until last month oversaw about 50 Army advisers.

He and fellow advisers say U.S. troops on the American side of the base saddle Iraqis with the least-desirable missions and often fail to provide them with the basics they need to protect themselves against insurgent attacks. "They treat the Iraqis with utter scorn and contempt," Col. Payne says. "The Iraqis may not be sophisticated, but they aren't stupid. They see it."

Col. James Pasquarette, who commands most of the soldiers on the U.S. side of Camp Taji, calls those claims "totally ridiculous." He says he's proud of what the Iraqi units have achieved in the region and has made supporting them his top priority, after ensuring his own troops have the protection they need. But he worries that if the Iraqis are given too much latitude to execute challenging missions too quickly, they will alienate Iraqi civilians with heavy-handed tactics.

He says Col. Payne and his fellow advisers have "gone native."

Though the divide here at Camp Taji is extreme, it reflects a growing friction throughout this war-torn country. No one on either side of the divide expects the Iraqi troops to be trained, equipped or housed to U.S. standards. But if U.S. troops are going to go home, U.S. commanders must allow Iraqis to take a far greater role in planning operations and taking the fight to the enemy, senior military officers say.

Right now, Iraqi commanders and some of their U.S. advisers say that isn't happening enough. Part of the reason, U.S. officials say, is that widespread Iraqi corruption has made it hard for the fledgling Iraqi government to supply their troops with basics like good food, batteries and fuel. But Iraqi soldiers and their U.S. advisers say the problem extends beyond basic supply issues. They complain that U.S. troops, bunkered down on large, fortified bases, treat Iraqi forces more like a problem than a partner. U.S. forces "don't talk to us," says Col. Saad, a senior Iraqi commander on Camp Taji. The Iraqi colonel, whose family has been threatened by insurgents, asked that his full name not be used.

U.S. commanders counter that there are huge risks to giving the Iraqi army too big a role right now. They worry some Iraqis will leak word of impending operations to the enemy or use military force to settle sectarian scores. Many U.S. commanders say Iraqi forces aren't as disciplined as U.S. troops and are too prone to abuse civilians and detainees.

The debate raises difficult questions for U.S. commanders, as they plot the way forward in Iraq: Should Iraqi units be held to the same standards as U.S. units? What happens when the Iraqis' solution is at odds with the American commander's strategy?

Earlier this spring, the tension between the two sides at Camp Taji reached the breaking point when the Iraqi army brigade that Col. Payne was advising leveled two dozen roadside kiosks. The Iraqi soldiers said insurgent snipers, who had killed and wounded Iraqi troops, used the kiosks for cover.

Col. Pasquarette thought destroying the kiosks would only enrage locals and drive them to support the insurgents. "This was a great day for the terrorists," he recalls telling Col. Payne on the day that the Iraqi army flattened the fruit and vegetable stands.

Col. Payne says the Iraqi army bulldozed the kiosks -- consisting mostly of palm fronds suspended by bamboo poles -- to protect Iraqi soldiers. "When I first heard what they had done, my initial response was, 'I am all for it,' " Col. Payne says. "This is not a law and order situation. This is a war."

Late last month, Col. Pasquarette asked that Col. Payne be dismissed from his position, just four months after the two men started working together. Col. Payne was then assigned to a desk job in Baghdad.

The unit Col. Payne headed is at the leading edge of a major shift in U.S. strategy. Until last summer, the U.S. military saw its primary mission as fighting insurgents. With pressure mounting to bring the 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq home, President Bush decided the military's main effort should instead focus on training Iraqis to take its place.

To speed development of Iraqi army forces, about 3,000 U.S. soldiers were placed with Iraqi units throughout the country. The teams live and work with Iraqi soldiers in places such as Camp Taji.

In November 2005, Col. Payne came back from retirement to lead his team. The colonel had served 28 years in the Army, fought in the Grenada invasion and taught history at West Point. He retired in July 2001. A few weeks later, terrorists struck the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. Col. Payne called the Army and volunteered to return. "There was a chuckle on the end of the phone," he says. The Army told him he wasn't needed.

Four years later, with the Army stretched thin by the war, the 50-year-old soldier, who was teaching at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, called again. This time, the Army was eager to send him to Iraq. In November, he was told he had 23 days to report to Fort Carson, Colo., and link up with his unit. His wife was "very unhappy," he says. Col. Payne says he was determined to go. "The nation is at war and all real soldiers want to be where the action is."

Col. Pasquarette, a former college basketball player, took command of his 6,000-soldier brigade in June 2005. Before that, the 45-year-old had attended Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, worked for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon and served as an aide-de-camp to a four-star general.

The two men's troops arrived in Iraq in December 2005 and settled on opposite sides of Camp Taji, a sprawling former Iraqi army base, about 20 miles north of Baghdad. Col. Payne's group consisted of 50 U.S. soldiers, assigned to advise the Iraqi military. His team was one of the few at Camp Taji that didn't report to Col. Pasquarette.

The 2,500-soldier Iraqi brigade that Col. Payne was advising had formed 11 months earlier and had been fighting nonstop. The Iraqis had scrounged all of their tanks and armored personnel carriers -- most of which were at least 30 years old -- from a massive junkyard on the Iraqi side of Camp Taji. When something broke, Iraqi soldiers retreated to the scrapyard where they would pillage rusting hulks for spare parts. Of the $260 billion spent on the Iraq war since 2003, about $10 billion has gone to build Iraqi army and police forces.

The U.S. officers bonded quickly with their Iraqi counterparts. In January, Maj. Michael Jason, who leads one of the advisory teams, was on patrol with a 42-year-old Iraqi colonel when a terrified farmer told them he had found bodies in a field. He then led them to the corpses of 11 Iraqi army soldiers who had been headed home on leave. Each had been beaten, blindfolded and shot in the head. Their Iraqi army identification cards had been taken from their wallets and pinned to their shirts by insurgents who regularly target Iraqi forces.

Maj. Jason, a Roman Catholic, and his Iraqi counterpart, Col. Khalid, a Muslim, kneeled next to the bodies and prayed. The U.S. Army asked that Col. Khalid's full name be withheld for his safety. That night, Maj. Jason, a 33-year-old West Point grad, wrote an email home describing his Iraqi colleague's bravery and sacrifice.

"Col. Khalid's children have to move constantly for fear of their lives. When he goes home on leave, he cannot tell anyone for security reasons. He just disappears. He drives 90 mph with a pistol tucked in the small of his back and his ID hidden. I love these guys, no s-t," he wrote. A month later, Col. Khalid's brother, also an army officer, was kidnapped. Insurgents killed him and dumped his body on his parents' doorstep. Col. Khalid couldn't go to the funeral for fear that he would be assassinated. So Maj. Jason and soldiers in the unit mourned with him at Camp Taji.

In March, Col. Khalid left the battalion for a safer assignment, which doesn't require him to leave the base.

As the U.S. advisers grew closer to the Iraqis, they also grew more frustrated with U.S. soldiers on the other side of the base.

Shortly after Col. Pasquarette arrived at Camp Taji, he beefed up the number of guards and armored vehicles at the gates separating the U.S. and Iraqi sides of the base. "Securing my [base] is my No. 1 mission. I am risk averse here," he says. The U.S. advisers to the Iraqis thought the additional guards and guns were unnecessary and only served to make U.S. soldiers more suspicious of the Iraqis.

When the advisers asked if they could bring an Iraqi colleague to eat with them on the American side of the base, they say they were shocked at the response. They were told that the presence of an Iraqi officer in the dining hall might upset the U.S. soldiers.

"These kids go outside the gate and deal with a very hostile environment. They need a place where they can relax and let their guard down," says Lt. Col. Kevin Dixon, Col. Pasquarette's deputy commander. He says the policy was driven by the bombing of a dining facility in Mosul in 2004 by an Iraqi who had sneaked in.

The advisers felt differently. "We really believe there is a systemic contempt for Iraqi soldiers," says Master Sgt. John McFarlane, a senior enlisted adviser to the Iraqis at Camp Taji. The policy has since been amended to allow advisers to eat with Iraqi officers on the U.S. side if they file a letter in advance with the base's security office.

One of the Iraqi army's primary jobs in the Taji area is to guard water-purification substations that provide most of Baghdad's drinking water. Last summer, insurgents blew up one of the substations, cutting off water for two weeks. To ensure that didn't happen again, Iraqi army units were dispatched by the U.S. to guard the sites. Iraqi soldiers began to take regular sniper fire there.

In January, the U.S. advisers asked Col. Pasquarette for help installing barriers around one of the substations, to shield the Iraqis from snipers. Col. Pasquarette asked one of his units to help. Weeks passed, but help never came. American engineering units were too busy fortifying the U.S. side of Camp Taji and bases around it, says Maj. Martin Herem, who handled the request.

On Feb. 28, a sniper shot in the back one of the Iraqi soldiers at the water station. The soldier bled to death. Three weeks later, a sniper killed a second Iraqi soldier who was on patrol near the water station. Iraqi troops said that both times snipers used the small fruit and vegetable stands lining a nearby road for cover. The Iraqi army couldn't return fire without killing shopkeepers and customers.

When the Iraqi soldiers ran over to ask people who had been shooting at them, locals said they hadn't seen anything. It's dangerous for locals to be seen helping the U.S. Army or the Iraqi army.

The day after the second killing, Col. Saad, an Iraqi colonel in the unit Col. Payne was advising, ordered his men to tell the shopkeepers to empty the vegetable stands. The Iraqi soldiers then bulldozed the stands. Col. Saad says he destroyed the kiosks to protect his soldiers.

When Col. Pasquarette learned about the incident, he was furious. The Iraqis' actions ran completely counter to his strategy. He had told his soldiers to focus less on killing insurgents and more on reconstruction programs designed to win support of the people.

"When you go lethal or destroy property there may be a short-term gain, but there is a long-term loss," he says. He saw the move as a throwback to the Saddam Hussein era when the army was used to quell unrest and inflict mass punishment.

Photoillustration by Stuart Bradford; photos, left: U.S. Department of Defense; photos, right: Getty Images
Because the Iraqi troops operate in his sector, Col. Pasquarette oversees them. He called Col. Payne into his office and demanded that he tell Col. Saad to have his soldiers apologize and pay reparations to the shop owners.

Col. Payne passed along the orders. But Col. Saad says he refused to follow them. "Here in Iraq if someone makes a mistake, you punish them," he says, referring to the shop owners' failure to give Iraqis information about the snipers. "If you give him money, he will repeat the mistake. And he will consider the person who gave him the gift an idiot."

The next day, Col. Pasquarette met with Col. Saad's Iraqi superior and told him about the dispute. The Iraqi general fired Col. Saad. Later that day, three low-ranking Iraqi soldiers, accompanied by about a dozen Americans, passed out the reimbursement forms.

The Iraqi officers in Col. Saad's brigade felt betrayed. On March 21, just before midnight, four senior officers stopped by Col. Payne's office and threatened to resign. "They were furious," says Col. Payne. Two days later, Col. Saad was quietly re-hired.

Col. Payne says he is still angry that neither Col. Pasquarette nor his subordinate commanders talked to Col. Saad to hear his side of the story. "This is a respect issue. These guys don't respect the Iraqis," Col. Payne says.

"Personally I don't think there was anything to discuss," Col. Pasquarette says.

In the days that followed, the relationship between Col. Payne and Col. Pasquarette grew more tense. In mid-March -- about the time the Iraqis flattened the vegetable stands -- insurgents attacked an Iraqi army patrol base in Tarmiyah, a city of about 50,000, a short drive from Camp Taji. One Iraqi soldier from Col. Saad's brigade was killed by a rocket-propelled grenade and another was shot in the head by a sniper. The next day, four of Col. Saad's soldiers died when their armored personnel carrier hit a roadside bomb. The blast threw the turret of the vehicle about 30 yards and lopped off the head of one of the Iraqi soldiers inside, U.S. and Iraqi officers say.

Senior Iraqi officials in the Ministry of Defense were convinced Tarmiyah was a hotbed of insurgent activity. Col. Pasquarette says he was told by his commander in Baghdad to clear the city of insurgents.

Col. Pasquarette and his team spent several days building a plan before he invited Col. Payne, Col. Saad and Col. Saad's commander to the U.S. side to explain it.

The two Iraqi officers were led through a 208-slide PowerPoint briefing, in which all the slides were written in English. The six areas the Iraqi troops were supposed to occupy were named for New England cities, such as Cranston, Bangor and Concord. The Iraqi officers, who spoke only Arabic, were dumbfounded. "I could see from their body language that both of them were not following what was going on," says Maj. Bill Taylor, Col. Payne's deputy.
Title: A camp divided- part two
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 03, 2006, 08:58:31 PM
Part Two
Once the plan was explained to them through an interpreter, the Iraqis strongly disagreed with it. Col. Pasquarette planned to surround the city with razor wire and set up checkpoints to search all cars moving in and out of the city. U.S. and Iraqi soldiers would then begin regular foot patrols through the city to gain intelligence on insurgents. The centerpiece of the plan was $5 million in reconstruction projects.

Col. Pasquarette argued that the projects would help the U.S. win support of the city's powerful mayor, Sheik Sayid Jassem, who had been detained by U.S. forces in the early days of the occupation for supporting the insurgency. He also thought the projects would turn the people to the side of the new Iraqi government.

The Iraqis favored a harder-nosed approach. They wanted to conduct house-to-house searches and find a way to put pressure on the mayor, who they insisted was still supporting insurgents. They suggested shutting Tarmiyah's business district down for a week. Once the mayor had been cowed with the stick, they favored dangling the $5 million in reconstruction funds.

Col. Pasquarette says the Iraqi approach would have alienated the people in Tarmiyah. He rejected it and stuck to his plan. Although the operation hasn't netted any insurgents, he says people are out shopping and businesses that had been closed are bustling as a result of the checkpoints and foot patrols. The U.S. military is bankrolling a pipeline that will bring potable water into the city, building medical clinics and repairing the main road.

Attacks in the city are down substantially since March, though they have begun to climb of late, Col. Pasquarette says. Still, he says the operation was a success because residents feel safer. He doubts the city was ever really a major insurgent hotbed. "We were all wrong about Tarmiyah," he says.

Col. Saad and Col. Payne say the insurgents have simply moved outside the city's gates.

Gen. George Casey, the top military officer in Iraq, acknowledges it has often been hard for U.S. commanders to let Iraqis take over the fight. "We are so mission-oriented and so focused, we tend to want to do everything ourselves," he says. "It is a constant battle ? . I would hope that when the Iraqis have ideas we try to help them execute them."

Iraqi troops "have never betrayed their U.S. advisory teams," adds Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who is overseeing the effort to train and equip Iraqi forces.

In their four months together, Col. Payne and Col. Saad became close. Col. Payne teased him about a poster on his office wall of two fluffy white kittens, nuzzling next to a dozen roses. "What in the world is the deal with the cat and the flowers?" Col. Payne asked.

"It reminds me of softness and women," Col. Saad replied. He often referred to Col. Payne as "my brother."

Col. Saad confided his worries about his country and his army to Col. Payne. His unit was constantly short of supplies. His soldiers often didn't have enough fuel for their armored vehicles and generators. They also lacked AA batteries to run the night-vision goggles the Americans had given them. He blamed corruption in the Iraqi system for supply shortages. "If you don't have the basics to survive, you cannot be great. You cannot win," he said one evening. Col. Payne threw his arm around the Iraqi colonel's shoulder. "No, but you can survive," he said.

The U.S. says it is helping the Iraqis fix problems that have led to shortages of equipment. The Iraqi government recently replaced the contractor responsible for serving troops spoiled food. Supplying the army is the responsibility of the Iraqi government and "there have been a few cases of poor performance" among Iraqi contractors, says Lt. Col. Michael Negard, a senior spokesman in Iraq. "While the problems aren't huge, the issue's certainly of the highest priority," he says.

Col. Saad has also grown frustrated with the Americans on the other side of Camp Taji. Last month, Col. Pasquarette asked the Iraqis to provide a couple of dozen soldiers to man some checkpoints with U.S. soldiers. The U.S. soldiers showed up at the checkpoints for about a week. Then, without warning, they left the Iraqis to run them on their own, Col. Saad says. The Iraqis, who questioned the value of the checkpoints in the first place, were angry they had suddenly been abandoned.

"Why did they leave? Aren't they supposed to be helping us?" Col. Saad asked Col. Payne.

"I don't know what the hell they are doing," Col. Payne replied.

Col. Pasquarette says the Iraqis should have been informed that the U.S. soldiers were pulling out of those checkpoints.

In late May, Col. Payne began to push the Iraqi soldiers to get out on the offensive. "I am sick of sitting around and waiting to get attacked," Col. Payne told Col. Saad. He asked Col. Saad to cut loose 10 or 15 soldiers that he could pair up with three or four U.S. soldiers to venture out at night in search of the enemy. Col. Saad agreed.

On May 19, soldiers from Col. Payne's and Col. Saad's units set out on their second night patrol. After they stopped a car that was out in violation of curfew, the enemy opened fire on them from a surrounding palm grove. The soldiers fired back, killing three insurgents and dispersing the rest. When the shooting ended, a man stumbled out of a small shack deep in the palm grove. His hands were tied and a blindfold hung around his neck. "Come mister. I am problem," he sobbed in broken English.

The man said he worked as a legal adviser for Iraq's Ministry of Defense and had been kidnapped by men who told him they would slaughter him "like a sheep." The kidnappers were setting up a camera to film his execution, he said, when they heard the soldiers and left him. "God sent you to save me," the man said, as tears streamed down his face. (Read more about the mission.2)

Col. Payne was elated. "The Iraqi army saved a life. It also demonstrated that it will go into the field to find and destroy the enemy," he said.

His victory, however, quickly gave way to crushing defeat. The next day, he was summoned to meet with his immediate supervisor. Col. Payne was relieved of his command and told to move to a headquarters position in Baghdad.

He says he was told that he removed because he was "ineffective" and "lacked the skills necessary to lead [his] team in this challenging environment." An Army spokesman in Baghdad said Col. Payne wasn't relieved for any single incident. He declined to comment further.

A few days before Col. Payne was fired, Col. Pasquarette said in an interview that he thought Col. Payne and his men had grown too close to the Iraqis they were advising and his decisions were too often guided by emotion. "From my perspective, the move was warranted," Col. Pasquarette wrote in an email after Col. Payne was dismissed.

The morning after he was fired, Col. Payne spent the day saying goodbye to Col. Saad and the U.S. soldiers on his team. That evening, he boarded a helicopter for Camp Victory, a massive U.S. base on the outskirts of Baghdad.

"I'm now here in Victory -- an alien environment to me and one I never wanted to be a part of," he wrote in an email. He was able to hold his emotions in check until his helicopter lifted off from Camp Taji. Then, he says, he began to sob. "I simply cannot tell you how much I will miss my team."

Write to Greg Jaffe at greg.jaffe@wsj.com5
Title: Bronze Star for handling of IEDs
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 03, 2006, 08:59:20 PM
Navy officer awarded Bronze Star for deft handling of deadly IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices)

By JACK DORSEY The Virginian-Pilot August 30, 2006

NORFOLK, Va. -- For the entire year he was in Baghdad analyzing more than 1,000 roadside bomb detonators, Benito Baylosis never took a day off.

No one did. And no one complained about it, he said, as they explored the electronic circuits of defused improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.

"What we did was that important. You get time off when you go home, or on R & R," he said. Baylosis, 41, a Navy lieutenant commander, came back to his hometown of Norfolk to receive the Bronze Star on Tuesday.

The award cited him for personally handling more than 1,000 IEDs, providing "critical countermeasures" and saving "countless coalition forces' lives."

"He developed and monitored over 136 bombmaker profiles," said the Army's citation, which added that "no one in the U.S. armed forces knows more about enemy IED initiators utilized in the Iraqi theater of operations."

Baylosis, who graduated from OldDominionUniversity with an undergraduate electrical engineering degree, will return soon to his regular duty station in Naples, Italy, where his family resides.

In Iraq, he headed a team of American, British and Australian military specialists, mainly engineers. He also worked with agents from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, gathering forensic evidence for possible future court cases related to terrorism. The team, operating from CampVictory near the international airport in Baghdad, examined IEDs, traced their origins and turned over information to help find the manufacturer.

"They are some of the most basic forms, from mechanical to electrical, to remote," he said in an interview. Because of the sensitivity of the work, he could not detail what his team found. Published reports say many devices use garage-door openers or cell phones to activate the explosives.

According to Michael White, who compiles casualty figures of Operation Iraqi Freedom on the Web site, and Defense Department figures, 904 of the 2,087 American service members killed in action in Iraq have died of injuries from IEDs.

Baylosis said he normally specializes in shipbuilding and program management in his job in Naples, but his electronics skills seemed a good match for what he was asked to do. "We felt that the job we were doing did save lives and will continue to save lives as long as we get to do it," said the father of three.

"I think we are making a difference. Obviously, we want to get ahead of the IED maker. We want to be a step ahead of them and with increased security, I think it will eventually get solved. I just don't know the time line."
Title: SEALs receive Navy Cross
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 03, 2006, 09:00:26 PM
SEALs Receive Navy Cross
Pair Died Fighting Taliban in AfghanistanBy Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 14, 2006; A12
Wounded and locked in a harrowing gunfight deep in Afghanistan's Hindu Kush mountains, Navy SEAL Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew G. Axelson laid down covering fire so a teammate could escape -- an act of heroism for which Axelson was yesterday posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, the service's second-highest medal.
Fighting nearby, Petty Officer 2nd Class Danny P. Dietz was also mortally wounded but stood his ground in a barrage of fire from 30 to 40 Taliban militiamen who surrounded his four-man SEAL reconnaissance team on June 28, 2005. For his "undaunted courage," as described by the military, Dietz, 25, of Littleton, Colo., also posthumously received the Navy Cross yesterday in a ceremony at the U.S. Navy Memorial.
Families and comrades gathered to honor them on a chilly, gray evening, with flags on ships' masts waving in the breeze. One SEAL, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of his work, recalled his close friend Axelson as laid back, a golfer and a quiet leader. His voice cracked as he described the inscription Axelson wrote on the back of a photograph of the two men that Axelson's wife gave him after Axelson died.
"But within the willingness to die for family and home, something inside us longs for someone to die beside. Someone to lock step with, another man with a heart like our own," the inscription read.
"I can't tell you how much I wish I could have been there for him," his friend told the gathering.
Patsy Dietz, 25, Dietz's widow, said her husband died during his final mission, only about two weeks before he was to return home. Describing him as a generous man who loved his dogs and who would hand out $20 bills to strangers, she said Dietz had volunteered for the deployment because he believed in the cause. She said he knew the risks that he faced. "Danny and his brothers went towards evil and ran forward and gave their last breath," she said in an interview.
The actions of Axelson and Dietz allowed a lone teammate to escape and survive, and he has also been awarded the Navy Cross, but the military has withheld his name for security reasons because he is still on active duty.
The perilous firefight erupted at 10,000 feet in some of the world's most rugged terrain along Afghanistan's border with Pakistan, when the SEAL team probed deep into enemy territory on a clandestine mission to kill or capture a Taliban militia leader. By nightfall that day, three of the SEALs lay dead, along with eight other SEALs and eight Army Special Operations aviators whose MH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed during a daring rescue attempt.
It was the worst death toll in a single day since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, and the biggest single loss of life for the Naval Special Warfare forces since the invasion of Normandy in World War II, the Navy reported.
The fatal mission -- Operation Red Wing -- began June 27, when Axelson, Dietz, Lt. Michael P. Murphy and the fourth unnamed SEAL, bearded and camouflaged, were inserted into heavily forested terrain east of the Afghan town of Asadabad to track down militia leader Ahman Shah.
The next day, however, the SEAL team was spotted and pointed out by local residents who were sympathetic to the Taliban. A Taliban force launched a "well-organized, three-sided attack," taking advantage of the high ground to assault the SEAL position using rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, according to an official military account.
"Three of the four SEALs were wounded. The fight relentlessly continued as the overwhelming militia forced them deeper into a ravine," it said.
About 45 minutes into the firefight, Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., made radio contact with Bagram Air Base outside the capital, Kabul, asking for air support and reinforcements. Soon afterward, the Chinook lifted off with 16 special operations troops aboard on a mission to extract the surrounded SEALs.
The Chinook was escorted by Army attack helicopters, whose job was to suppress enemy ground forces to make it safe for the lightly armored troop carrier to land. But the heavier attack helicopters lagged behind at the high altitude and were outpaced by the Chinook, whose pilots then faced a life-or-death decision: Try to land unprotected in hazardous terrain in a battle zone, or wait while their wounded comrades on the ground risked being overrun.
They chose to land, but as the Chinook rushed into the fight, it was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and crashed, killing all 16 men aboard.
Meanwhile, Axelson, 29, of Cupertino, Calif., "ignoring his injuries and demonstrating exceptional composure" urged his teammate to escape, according to the medal citation. "With total disregard for his own life and thinking only of his teammate's survival, he continued to attack the enemy, eliminating additional militia fighters, until he was mortally wounded by enemy fire," it said. His body was recovered July 10 after a massive military search effort in Afghanistan's Kunar Province.
Dietz was lauded for "undaunted courage in the face of heavy enemy fire, and absolute devotion to his teammates" as he remained behind to fight to defend his partners after he, too, was wounded.

? 2006 The Washington Post Company
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 03, 2006, 09:02:12 PM

Beach SEAL honored for his sacrifice in Afghanistan
By DALE EISMAN, The Virginian-Pilot
? September 14, 2006
Last updated: 1:29 AM
WASHINGTON - Danny Dietz was a quiet guy, devoted to his family, his dogs and his shipmates in the Navy's SEAL Team 2, a special-warfare unit based in Virginia Beach. The sort who never hesitated to take on extra responsibilities, extra burdens, one of his buddies remembered Wednesday, and who never thought there was anything remarkable about doing it.
Matt Axelson - "Cool Hand Luke" to his friends - was a Californian who loved golf, joking that he planned to hone his game for a career on the Senior PGA Tour once he got out of the Navy.
"No matter how hard I worked at something, he was always better," said friend Dave Albritton, a petty officer first class - but Axelson never boasted .
Under leaden skies and amid the bustle of rush hour on a memorial plaza in downtown Washington, more than 200 of the two men's friends, relatives and shipmates bit their lips and brushed away tears Wednesday evening as they expressed the nation's gratitude for the courage and sacrifice Axelson and Dietz exhibited on an Afghan mountainside last year.
The men were among 19 SEALS and U.S. Army NightStalkers killed June 28, 2005. It remains the bloodiest single day of Operation Enduring Freedom, the war in Afghanistan. Six of the SEALS killed were based in Virginia Beach.
"Heroes are ordinary people who make extraordinary decisions every day of their lives," sai d Lt. Brad Geary, a Dietz friend who spoke at the ceremony.
Their actions in the midst of a firefight with Taliban militiamen allowed another SEAL - the only survivor of the engagement - to escape and earned Axelson and Dietz the Navy Cross, the branch 's second-highest honor. The pair are part of Navy history because of the way they died, Geary said, but "these men are heroes because of the way they lived."
The citations presented Wednesday to their widows, Cindy Axelson and Maria Dietz, recounted how the men and two other SEALS tracking a Taliban leader in rugged northeastern Afghanistan were attacked on three sides by a force of perhaps 40 .
Dietz, 25, a gunner's mate second class, was wounded "in a hailstorm of enemy fire," his citation reads, but he continued returning fire and covering his teammates "until he was mortally wounded." Axelson, 29, a sonar technician second class, also kept fighting despite multiple wounds. "With total disregard for his own life," his citation reads, he laid down covering fire so the one surviving member could slip away.
That SEAL, who has never been identified publicly, was rescued several days later by other U.S. forces and received a Navy Cross earlier this year in a private ceremony at the White House, a Navy spokesman said. The service is still processing the record of the fourth man on the ground team, Lt. Michael Murphy, the spokesman added.
Eight other SEALS and the eight Army NightStalkers killed in the engagement died as they tried to come to the rescue of the four men on the ground. Their MH-47 Chinook helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and crashed as it approached the battlefield.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 06, 2006, 07:48:30 AM
Godawful music, but the facts inspire

And yes, we have checked it on

And here's this:? Marine Corps News
Rochester, N.Y. Marine, receives Navy Cross
May 6, 2004; Submitted on: 04/21/2005 01:33:28 PM ; Story ID#: 200456162723

By Cpl. Jeremy Vought, MCB Camp Pendleton

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (May 6, 2004) -- Marine Capt. Brian R. Chontosh received the Navy Cross Medal from the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, Gen. Michael W. Hagee, during an awards ceremony Thursday at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Training Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Three other Marines received medals for valor at the same ceremony.

Chontosh, 29, from Rochester, N.Y. , received the naval service's second highest award for extraordinary heroism while serving as Combined Anti-Armor Platoon Commander, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom March 25, 2003. The Medal of Honor is the highest military award.

While leading his platoon north on Highway 1 toward Ad Diwaniyah, Chontosh's platoon moved into a coordinated ambush of mortars, rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons fire. With coalitions tanks blocking the road ahead, he realized his platoon was caught in a kill zone.

He had his driver move the vehicle through a breach along his flank, where he was immediately taken under fire from an entrenched machine gun. Without hesitation, Chontosh ordered the driver to advanced directly at the enemy position enabling his .50 caliber machine gunner to silence the enemy.

He then directed his driver into the enemy trench, where he exited his vehicle and began to clear the trench with an M16A2 service rifle and 9 millimeter pistol. His ammunition depleted, Chontosh, with complete disregard for his safety, twice picked up discarded enemy rifles and continued his ferocious attack.

When a Marine following him found an enemy rocket propelled grenade launcher, Chontosh used it to destroy yet another group of enemy soldiers.

When his audacious attack ended, he had cleared over 200 meters of the enemy trench, killing more than 20 enemy soldiers and wounding several others.

"They are the reflection of the Marine Corps type who's service to the Marine Corps and country is held above their own safety and lives," said Gen. Hagee, commenting on the four Marines who received medals during the ceremony. "I'm proud to be here awarding the second highest and third highest awards for bravery to these great Marines."

"These four Marines are a reflection of every Marine and sailor in this great battalion," said Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. John L. Estrada.

"I was just doing my job, I did the same thing every other Marine would have done, it was just a passion and love for my Marines, the experience put a lot into perspective," said Chontosh.

In effect since April 1917, and established by an Act of Congress on Feb. 4, 1919, the Navy Cross may be awarded to any person who, while serving with the Navy or Marine Corps, distinguishes himself/herself in action by extraordinary heroism not justifying an award of the Medal of Honor.

The action must take place under one of three circumstances: while engaged in action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or, while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
To earn a Navy Cross the act to be commended must be performed in the presence of great danger or at great personal risk and must be performed in such a manner as to render the individual highly conspicuous among others of equal grade, rate, experience, or position of responsibility.

More than 6,000 Navy Crosses have been awarded since World War I.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 07, 2006, 10:42:15 AM
Chicago Tribune
Why Iraq war seems almost devoid of heroes
By E.A. Torriero, a Tribune reporter who has covered conflicts in the
Americas, the Middle East, Afghanistan and Iraq

November 5, 2006

War breeds heroes. Etched in the history books are tales from the combat
trenches of a special kind of valor--gritty and gutsy deeds that have
inspired a nation since its earliest days and its first wars.

In our current war, such heroism seems elusive. That style of hero--one
that Americans have long come to expect--seems to be missing.

The reasons are varied: The military is often slow to publicize valor and
award medals. The national media rarely write about it. As the political
debate over the war rages, the term hero has taken on assorted meanings.

The fighting in this war is different from that in any other American
conflict. There is no traditional battlefield on which to make a hero's
mark. The enemy is not a nation's army but insurgents who often do not
show their faces and who strike with bombs and snipers' bullets.

"The enemy has a lot to do with how this war is being fought and the
perception it has," said Andrew Krepinevich, executive director of the
Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington, D.C. "That
makes it difficult to produce a Custer's Last Stand style of hero."

Although the Pentagon says heroic acts occur almost daily, they are
usually known only to the military and to families.

When a GI is killed in Iraq, the military bureaucracy usually says little
about the circumstances, citing family privacy, classified intelligence or
a need for operational secrecy. The military's medal process is methodical
and often takes so many years that the heroism becomes a distant memory by the
time it is publicly known.

The U.S. military is stringent in its definition of a hero, drawing sharp
distinctions in awarding medals and bestowing the Medal of Honor -- its
highest award--only to a GI who "distinguishes himself conspicuously by
gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the
call of duty."

When such calm deliberation is abandoned, the result can backfire. Several
highly publicized attempts to quickly advertise incidents worked out badly
for the Pentagon.

 The alleged heroism of Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch at the start of the Iraq
war proved hollow. The valor of former football star Pat Tillman in
Afghanistan was undermined by military lies and the eventual disclosure that he was
killed by friendly fire.

Guarded about recognition

Since then, the military has been guarded when it comes to hero stories.

"Heroes are being overlooked," said Roger Lee Crossland, a Navy reserve
captain and attorney from Connecticut who served in Afghanistan.

In the U.S. Naval Institute's magazine Proceedings, Crossland wrote an
article titled "Why Are Victims Our Only War Heroes?" that is widely
circulated on the Internet. He argued that acts of American bravery are
being masked by media coverage of troops under attack and military
personnel being blown up by street bombs.

 "There needs to be another story told, that of bravery in battle,"
Crossland said in an interview. "Those are heroes, the ones we need to hear about."

In the Iraq war, stories of heroic actions in battle get little exposure
in the media. Even when they do, as in the case of the late Sgt. 1st Class
Paul Ray Smith, the stories have a remarkably short staying power.

Smith is the only Iraq war soldier to win the country's highest award for
military valor, the Medal of Honor. His valor came in 2003, in the early
days of the war, when the battles were fought in more traditional combat.

According to the military, Smith's unit was building a jail holding pen at
the Baghdad airport when it came under attack from an Iraqi Republican
Guard unit. After a mortar struck one of the American armored vehicles, leaving
three of Smith's men injured, the unit was pinned down. Smith jumped to
the gunnery and grabbed a machine gun from his injured comrades.

 Before being killed by enemy fire, Smith shot 20 to 50 Iraqi soldiers and
saved as many as 100 of his comrades, according to the Pentagon.

It took the Pentagon two years to honor Smith. In 2005, he became the
first GI since the Somalia conflict in 1993 to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Honoring victims instead

Maybe the media fear glorifying violence, Crossland said.

 "We have substituted being a victim for being a hero," he said. "That's
far from the meaning of a war hero."

From early mythology, war has produced heroes, soldiers who sacrificed
themselves in extraordinary ways to save others.

In recent years, though, the public definition of a hero has become much
broader and, some argue, overused. On a wider cultural level, Americans
refer to all sorts of people as heroes, no matter the depth of their

"The whole hero phrase has been cheapened," said John Mueller, a political
science professor at Ohio State University who has studied war and the

The Vietnam War signaled a major transformation in the nation's perception
of heroism, according to several experts on American military history.

In an unpopular war, Hollywood painted the bleak picture of combat
soldiers returning from Vietnam not as heroes but as outcasts. POWs, however, found
a hero's welcome for sacrificing years of their lives as captives and
 surviving mental and physical torture.

"It's not for what they did on the battlefield," Mueller said of the POWs.
"It's for what they endured."

In the Iraq war, families and those honoring American dead often cast them
in a heroic light no matter how they died--even if it was sitting in a
Humvee that was felled by a roadside bomb.

 "Of course they are heroes," said Tony Cutrano, leader of a Chicago-area
group of motorcyclists who have erected a memorial wall in central
Illinois naming the U.S. dead in Iraq. "They went over there and gave their lives
for our freedom. What can be more heroic?"

`This is a brave generation'

Hundreds of other personnel also have performed brave acts, according to
the military. "There are a ton of heroes out there," said Marine spokesman
Brig.  Gen. Robert Milstead, who returned recently from a second tour of duty in
Iraq. "They make my eyes water. This is a brave generation."

While military spokesmen offered contradictory views of how well the
Pentagon is publicizing its heroes, they agreed that many Americans would
rather ignore the war--even the hero stories.

"Americans don't believe we are at war," Milstead said. "Given that
mind-set, it's difficult to give fidelity to heroes."

Among support-the-troops groups, a following has developed in cyberspace
for American military exploits.

 Chicagoan and former military intelligence officer Matthew Currier Burden
started such a Web site and also has compiled stories from military
personnel in a book titled "The Blog of War." In it, frontline dispatches
provide unfiltered details of bravery, he said.

Burden also does a weekly talk show on a Boston radio station with a
segment called "Someone You Should Know" that tells stories of war.

"I could tell a story a night and never run out of material," Burden said.
"Unfortunately, many of these don't turn out with happy endings, and I
think that can be a turnoff for the American public. It doesn't make
them any less inspiring though.",1,634721,prin
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: G M on November 07, 2006, 02:48:44 PM
SACRIFICE Troop cradled grenade to save others
Los Angeles Times

SAN DIEGO ? Sgt. Rafael Peralta is dead, but the story of his sacrifice to save fellow Marines will live long in Marine Corps lore.

In the fierce battle for the Iraqi town of Fallujah, Peralta, with gunshot wounds to his head and body, reached out and grabbed a grenade hurled by an insurgent, cradling it to his body to save others from the blast.

The explosion in the back room of a house injured one Marine, but four others managed to scramble to safety.

Peralta, 25, an immigrant from Mexico who enlisted the day he got his green-card work permit, was declared dead en route to a field hospital.

?If he hadn?t done what he did, a lot of us wouldn?t be seeing our families again,? said Lance Cpl. Travis J. Kaemmerer, who witnessed the blast.

Garry Morrison, the father of Lance Cpl. Adam Morrison, had trouble keeping his voice from breaking when he spoke of Peralta.

?He saved the life of my son and every Marine in that room,? Morrison said in a phone call from Seattle. ?I just know one thing: God has a special place in heaven for Sgt. Peralta.?

Similar gratitude was expressed by family members of other Marines in Peralta?s unit who were close to the blast. The unit was Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division.

In a modest home in a blue-collar neighborhood here, the Peralta family feels pride but also grief, anger and confusion.

Rafael Peralta was the oldest son: strong, a weightlifter and athlete, head of the family since his father died in a workplace accident three years ago. He loved the Marine Corps.

He joined in 2000 and recently had re-enlisted. While in the Marines, he became a U.S. citizen. The only decorations on his bedroom walls are a copy of the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and a picture of his boot camp graduation.

As Peralta waited last month to begin the assault on the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, he wrote a letter to his 14-year-old brother, Ricardo.

The letter arrived the day after several Marines and a Navy chaplain came to the Peralta home to notify the family of his death.

?We are going to destroy insurgents,? Peralta wrote. ?Watch the news. . . . Be proud of me, bro. I?m going to do something I always wanted to do.

?You should be proud of being an American. Our father came to this country and became a citizen because it was the right place for our family to be. If anything happens to me, just remember I?ve already lived my life to the fullest.?

Peralta had left his mother, Rosa, with similar words. She said he told her, ?I want you to be strong and take care of my brother and sisters because I don?t know if I?ll return.? His mother added, ?I?m proud of him, but my heart is sad.?

Rafael Peralta had not been assigned to the Nov. 15 attack on Fallujah. Still, he volunteered.

As a scout, assigned to perimeter security, he could have stayed on the periphery. Instead, he took the lead as his platoon stormed a house in search of heavily armed insurgents known to be hiding in the neighborhood.

The house appeared empty. Then Peralta opened a door to a back room, and three insurgents fired their AK-47s. Marines fired back at near point-blank range with M-16 rifles and automatic weapons.

Hit several times in the chest and once in the head, Peralta went down and appeared dead. Insurgents tossed a ?yellow, foreign-made, oval-shaped? grenade toward the Marines.

To the amazement of the other Marines, Peralta, apparently with his last bit of strength, ?reached out and pulled the grenade into his body,? said Kaemmerer, a combat correspondent from the 1st Force Service Support Group assigned to the battalion. Peralta?s body absorbed most of the deadly fragments from the blast.

?Most of the Marines in the house were in the immediate area of the grenade,? Kaemmerer said. ?Every one of us is grateful and will never forget the second chance at life Sgt. Peralta gave us.?

After the grenade blast, the house caught fire, and Marines repositioned in the street for a second assault. Within minutes, the three insurgents had been killed by Marines and Peralta?s body was recovered.

In the hours after the battle, Marines spoke quietly of Peralta?s heroism.

?You?re still here, don?t forget that,? Lance Cpl. Richard A. Mason told Kaemmerer. ?Tell your kids, your grandkids, what Sgt. Peralta did for you and other Marines today.?

Even in their pain, Peralta?s family members are not surprised that he decided to lead from the front.

?My brother was very courageous,? Ricardo Peralta said. ?He wasn?t scared of anyone or anything.?

Title: Farewell Marine
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 08, 2006, 11:23:00 AM
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 09, 2006, 12:31:24 PM
Fellowship of Fighters With Tales of Sacrifice
Bill Crandall for The New York Times

Marine Museum A new center near Quantico, Va., devoted to the Marine Corps opens on Friday.

Published: November 9, 2006

TRIANGLE, Va., Nov. 6 ? I may not be alone in my reaction to the National Museum of the Marine Corps, which is opening on Friday adjacent to the Marine base in Quantico, outside Washington. In making my way through its 118,000 square feet of exhibitions, timelines, sound-and-light shows, historical videos, battle accounts and fighting machines, I felt a little like an alien visitor getting to know another culture. I am not among those for whom these packaged experiences (executed with great skill in the current museum mode) evoke reminiscences and platoon allegiances. I know this world only from news reports, movies and histories.

But many who will visit this impressive complex ? which will grow by another 80,000 square feet of exhibition, classroom and theater space in coming years ? will be intimately familiar with its account of Marine culture, beginning with basic training so intense it is intended to strip the recruit of any hint of the individualism so deeply cherished on the outside.

That experience is evoked here by a model of a bus bearing hopeful young men to a Marine training camp. ?Get off my bus,? the voice of a drill instructor would roar. ?Stand on the yellow footprints on the pavement. Now!?

Those footprints are here, at the bus?s side. Nearby are two soundproof booths into which the museumgoer ? having just begun this engaging, serpentine journey through recent Marine Corps history ? seals himself to hear the disorienting shouts of the drill sergeant.

Some visitors, who have memories of such shouts, may have flown, during World War II, an F4U Corsair much like the airplane suspended from the ceiling in the Leatherneck Gallery here. They may know that marines are called leathernecks because of a strap that protected their necks from sword slashes in the 18th century. They may gaze upward, toward the angled sweep of that gallery?s ceiling, which encloses a space that is at once atrium, lobby and arena for display of the land, sea and air equipment used in crucial battles, and recognize allusions to ship?s decks and portholes and even to the sea itself, from which the marines have traditionally emerged, their weapons raised.

While many such visitors would not know immediately that the thrusting bayonetlike rod that extends out of the skewed glass roof is part of an abstract representation of the famed flag-raising at Iwo Jima, the iconography, once identified, will have more associations for them than just the new Clint Eastwood movie. A reproduction of the sculpture of that scene is at the entrance of the nearby Marine base, and the two American flags raised that day are on display here. Amid the quotations praising marines inscribed in stone in this circular gallery is one that also has the potency of legend and the poignancy of truth, as if addressing those whose profession it is to fight our wars. It was cried out by First Sergeant Dan Daly as he led his men against German positions during the late days of World War I: ?Come on you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever??

One of the doctrines of this elite fighting fellowship, and one of the themes of this museum, is that the Marine affiliation does not break with the end of active service, let alone death: a sense of identification extends over centuries. Symbols ? like the Marine insignia of the eagle, globe and anchor ? take on a persistent significance, since every living marine who fought during wartime is also a surviving marine who has seen others fall. In that way too this museum, with all its symbols, is a place of pride and remembrance, a spirit emphasized in the atrium?s central space. (The building is designed by Fentress Bradburn Architects.)

It is also an attempt to remind others of the role marines have played. The museum evolved out of a partnership of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, which raised $57 million in private money for construction, and the corps itself, which raised $30 million for the exhibitions, many designed by Christopher Chadbourne & Associates, a firm also involved in designing the new George Washington exhibitions at nearby Mount Vernon. (One gallery, devoted to combat art, is sponsored by Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, the chairman emeritus of the New York Times Company.) The museum is part of the Marine Corps Heritage Center, which features a memorial park and is eventually to include parade grounds, a chapel, a conference center and a hotel.

That project will require additional fund-raising. The museum itself, according to its director, Lin Ezell, plans to begin its Phase 2 in 2008. Now this historical survey of the corps, which was founded on Nov. 10, 1775 (the opening on Friday, which is reservation only, is a birthday celebration), is necessarily incomplete. The 18th- and 19th-century galleries have yet to be built. Recent history is represented by a single gallery of photographs from Iraq and Afghanistan that will eventually be replaced by a full-scale history of the Marines since the Vietnam War.

But what is being unveiled now is the heart of the story, at least for contemporary sensibilities: detailed accounts of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. These wars ? still in the realm of living memory ? are not only chronicled with photographs and wall panels, but also re-enacted in tableaus with life-size figures molded from the features of 75 active-duty marines. These figures are frozen in motion in tanks or jeeps, or appear in the midst of battles atmospherically evoked in what the museum is calling immersion galleries. The floors? molded sand and mud bear the footprints of the era?s boots, the lights and sounds imitate weather and weaponry, and history is turned into theater.

Such immersion of course is aimed less at veterans than at visitors who have not lived through the trauma, onlookers for whom the chill air of the gallery devoted to the battle at Toktong Pass during the Korean War or the humid haze of a siege on Hill 881 South in Vietnam (into which visitors descend from the thumping ramp of a real CH-46 helicopter fuselage) is a curious experience.

But there is so much information in the midst of the sensation that the result becomes thoroughly absorbing. I walked through these winding galleries ? where scenes, equipment and wall panels intermingle, and video screens can even appear on the undersides of planes ? feeling like an innocent abroad, astonished at the historical panorama.

For the most part these exhibitions do not give a whitewashed account. The display about boot camp even mentions the 1956 tragedy in which an overzealous drill instructor took his platoon on an unauthorized march through a swamp one night, leading to the deaths of six recruits. There is much defeat here; the heroism at the Toktong battle, for example, is the valor that leads to survival in the midst of retreat. The early Pacific battles of World War II in Guam and the Philippines were pageants of blood.

But the account of World War II, which focuses extensively on the Pacific because of the centrality of the Marines? involvement, is also a story of strategic lessons learned, in which air, land and water forces became tautly coordinated in fighting difficult battles against entrenched Japanese soldiers. The lessons are less clear in the accounts of the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Here the marines occasionally chafe at the role given them or celebrate their relationships with South Vietnamese villages, but an effort to make sense of the whole, with all its scars, is missing.

Given the unsatisfactory, painful winding down of both wars, there are hints of discontent here, signs of the ancient tension between the political and military authorities. Attention is drawn, for example, to the government?s disinclination to take risks after initial triumphs in Korea or to its confusion about strategy and ambition in Vietnam. An unstated lesson is that lack of clarity, determination and flexibility in either the political or the military realm can lead to calamity.

But here is the museum?s persistent point: The same sacrifice is demanded whatever mistakes are made. Whether in crucial battles ? in 36 days of fighting, 6,000 marines were killed at Iwo Jima ? or in more controversial extended wars, that sacrifice is subject to no second guesses. It presumes an allegiance that transcends individual judgment.

This is humbling for a civilian who has been drilled in just the opposite perspective. Yet in the best of such cases, it is through the sacrifices made by the military that we have the luxury of maintaining our proud individualism. The museum makes it possible to understand just what is demanded of those we have asked to fight for us, and how much more is so often given.

Title: Veteran's Day
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 10, 2006, 10:33:01 AM
Woof All:

Just in case your Main Stream Media sources didn't mention it, you may wish to know that today is Veteran's Day.

Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 28, 2006, 11:37:23 PM
Tuesday, November 28, 2006 3:24 p.m. EST

Responding to Rangel
"The National Commander of The American Legion called on Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) to apologize for suggesting that American troops would not choose to fight in Iraq if they had other employment options," says a press release from the legion:

"Our military is the most skilled, best-trained all-volunteer force on the planet," said National Commander Paul A. Morin. "Like that recently espoused by Sen. John Kerry, Congressman Rangel's view of our troops couldn't be further from the truth and is possibly skewed by his political opposition to the war in Iraq." . . .

"These brave men and women lay it on the line every day for each and every one of us, for which I am very grateful," Morin said. "Their selfless commitment for the betterment of our world from radical extremists is beyond commendable. It's time for members of Congress to stop insulting our troops. . . ."

Some of our readers, responding to our item yesterday, took Rangel's disparagement personally. Here is Brian Bartlett:

I have a message for Mr. Rangel; I will not use the term Honorable with him. At age 17, I had already had seven years of college and university education for which I had received 3 1/2 years' credit due to the vagaries of our educational system and I was teaching at the university for those 3 1/2 years as well as working as a professional consultant starting at $40 per hour, a rather princely sum in 1974.

Following family tradition--my mother, father, grandfathers and beyond had all served--I entered the United States Navy nine days after my 17th birthday. There followed an education second to none in various fields of engineering including nuclear. The training was intense, essentially cramming years of engineering into six months, and not very many were left at the end of the school even in my section, the best and brightest. The civilian world has no equivalent; graduate school is a joke by comparison, and I should know, having been through both.

Despite my disabilities that resulted in my discharge after over 13 years of service, I am subject to recall to this day, and should they call, I will answer willingly. Unlike, apparently, Mr. Rangel, I know what is happening on the ground over there, as I have kin there to this day. I have been to the Middle East several times, and my sister served in Saudi Arabia and Iraq for the First Gulf War. In my family we serve, peace or war, because that is what we are and what we do. It's not for money, it's not for the educational benefits after the service, which in my case were laughable. He can go peddle his contempt elsewhere.

Patti Sayer adds:

I am the mother of a fine young man, an American soldier in the U.S. Army Reserve, who risked his life in Iraq for 14 of the longest months of his and my life . By the way, he just re-enlisted for another eight years. I also happen to be the Air Force brat daughter of a Vietnam vet. I grew up in Europe while my father defended that ungrateful continent from attack by the Soviet Union.

My father's brother served on the USS Louisville in World War II, and his turret was struck by a kamikaze during the Battle of Surigao Strait. He was grievously wounded. Another uncle spent a miserable year of service in Korea in 1951. I guess you could say that my family has sacrificed a lot for this nation. So when I hear Rep. Rangel imply, in essence, that my son, father and uncles served only because they had no other economic choices or were too stupid to know what they were doing, I get angry.

As for the issue of the Iraq war, how dare Mr. Rangel denigrate my son and his fellow soldiers as nothing but a bunch of uneducated, patsy, losers, being manipulated by an evil George Bush? He makes their sacrifice appear to be that born of ignorance and poor upbringing, and I am deeply resentful of his attitude. My son is not stupid, and there are plenty of economic opportunities where we live. It is apparent that Mr. Rangel perceives himself as smarter than my poor dumb son, who voluntarily joined the military and who is honored to serve our nation in spite of Mr. Rangel's contempt.

And here is Ben Kohlmann:

I think the comments attributed to Rep. Rangel reveal not only the mindset of liberal policy makers in relation to the military, but also their view of what I like to call "duty to the self." Those that achieve the greatest academic achievement usually tend to be the most self-centered, imagining their indispensability to the world as a whole. Why should someone give up four years (or more!) of comfort and high earning potential to be subjected to months away from family, cramped living conditions, and the legally binding orders of others? In our modern, liberated, self-centered mind, such a thought is inconceivable.

Much of this is fostered in the academic environment they are indoctrinated into. This view, in and of itself, is at odds with the underlying selflessness that must be present for an effective member of the armed forces. So I don't so much take it as insulting as revealing a gross negligence in comprehending the true nature of sacrifice.

I am a young naval officer, and for the record, I graduated with both Latin and departmental honors from a top 10 university. I was named "Greek Man of the Year" and held numerous leadership positions throughout campus. One of my good friends, who happens to be a Marine just back from Iraq, won the freshman writing award at the same institution, and also graduated with honors. My peers in our squadron's ready room have masters degrees from MIT and Ivies. My best friend earned a graduate degree from Stanford before his current service in Afghanistan. My roommate's wife, a Marine signals-intelligence officer, recently finished up work at Cambridge in chemistry stemming from a Gates scholarship.

We are all under 26, and had we so chosen, certainly could have had the "option of having a decent career" apart from the military. I cite these things not to egotistically promote our individual accomplishments, but only to show that I personally know the representative is wrong.

He scoffed at our true willingness to fight. Ironically, as an aside, since the beginning of the Iraq war, my only desire has been to get over there and fight, but to no avail, as my current military obligations have me training elsewhere. Anyway, we fight because we recognize that the best years of our lives are better spent serving something bigger than ourselves than serving selfish ends. We fight knowing that for all the hardship and tears shed over being away from loved ones, the defense of our Republic, and even the giving of our lives, is far more worthy than going through life focused on wealth and pleasure.

It is undoubtedly true that to the last, we all would like nothing better than to settle down, have a family, and raise them in peace, being there for every birthday and anniversary. We, too, would like to pursue jobs that pay tens of thousands more per year than we currently receive. I can't tell you how many times I've looked at my friends in law school and other prestigious professions in envy at the "opportunities" they have while I "endure" months of boredom.

But it is also true that there are men and ideologies in the world that would like nothing better than to rip those things away from many in our population who enjoy such blessings. We will not stand idly by and allow that to happen. Our educational and academic accomplishments make us more duty bound to serve the country that enabled us, better than any other, to realize our full potential. These past few years of service have encompassed the greatest struggles and most trying times of my entire life, but ultimately, that is the cost of defending an ideology of freedom. Indeed, it is that cost itself that brings true value to freedom.

The San Francisco Chronicle profiles someone with a similar attitude:

If Dr. Martin Holland had his way, he'd be in Iraq right now. In Fallujah or Ramadi or Baghdad. Up to his elbows in blood and brain matter, operating on Marines and soldiers with severe head injuries.

As it happens, it's unlikely the doctor will find himself hovering over a battlefield operating table. But he has a strong desire to serve -- to do something for the troops suffering severe combat injuries. Instead of teaching residents and interns how to stop intracranial bleeding in San Francisco, Holland is wearing Navy whites and operating on sailors and Marines in San Diego.

Holland is not an 18-year-old who joins the Marines fresh out of high school. He's 44, and he quit a prestigious job as director of neurotrauma at UC San Francisco. But there are similarities: Both put aside personal lives to enlist in the military.

They also serve who stand and operate.

"When I was a kid, I loved stories about knights in shining armor," he said. "There was something very appealing about the ideals of honor, courage and all that kind of stuff.

"The only thing I saw in the modern world that was even close to that code of chivalry was, one, the military, and two, was medicine with the Hippocratic oath."

It's noteworthy that few if any of Rangel's fellow Democrats have stepped forward to defend his bigoted statements. Further, when John Kerry* said something similar last month, he didn't even have the courage to stand by it and instead claimed to have been talking about something else entirely.

On the other hand, we haven't noticed many Democratic politicians or liberal commentators repudiating what Rangel said--in sharp contrast to the way Republicans and conservatives responded to Trent Lott's infamous comments about Strom Thurmond four years ago.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 06, 2006, 11:10:46 PM

By Kevin Cullen
THE BOSTON GLOBE December 5, 2006
It was a routine patrol, in the third week of June – if, in fact, there is such a thing as a routine patrol in Fallujah, in Iraq's Anbar province.

MICHELE McDONALD / The Boston Globe
Navy medic Greg Cinelli held Baby Mariam last month at Massachusetts General Hospital, where the Iraqi girl had successful surgery.
Chris Walsh, a Navy medic assigned to a Marines weapons company, was riding in a Humvee with three Marines, when a hidden bomb exploded in the dirt road just in front of them.

Even before the thick dust had settled, the Marines, and Walsh, were out of the vehicle, looking for the insurgents who had planted the remote-control device. The triggerman, as several who joined the pursuit vividly recall, was spotted first on a rooftop, then on the ground making his escape through the maze of ramshackle houses that line the road.

When Walsh and the Marines came to one doorway, M-4 rifles up and ready, a woman emerged from a room, holding an infant and saying, over and over again, “Baby. Baby sick.”

Walsh put his gun down and the woman put the baby down.

Walsh had seen bad things – as an EMT back home in St. Louis, and at war. But he told his comrades he had never seen anything like this: The child, just a few months old, looked as though her insides had been turned inside out.

Her name was Mariam, and she looked up at Walsh with dead eyes.

Suddenly, finding the bad guys became secondary. Walsh, the Marines recall, examined the child, pulled out a digital camera and took pictures to show the doctors back at base camp. As soon as Capt. Sean Donovan, a doctor assigned to the First Battalion 25th Marine Regiment out of Fort Devens in Ayer, Mass., saw them, he knew the baby had a rare condition in which the bladder develops outside the body. Donovan said she wouldn't live long without surgery of a kind she couldn't get in Iraq.
“Then,” Donovan recalls Walsh saying, “we've got to get her out of here, sir.”

The Boston Globe

Marine Lance Cpl. Corey Robbins (left) and Navy medics John Garran (center) and Greg Cinelli were reunited with Baby Mariam at Massachusetts General Hospital. A Marines weapons company found the ailing Iraqi girl in Fallujah.

It seemed a noble sentiment, if, in the middle of a war, a bit naive. But Walsh meant it. Saving Baby Mariam became his mission. At chow one night, he stood up and explained to the Marines in his platoon what he wanted to do. He said he'd need help. And one by one, the Marines put up their hands.

Mike Henderson, a Marine major from Maine, told Walsh and Donovan that his nephew was born with the same condition, called a bladder exstrophy, and that the boy had successful surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital. Donovan began using his computer, trying to find the appropriate medical care and a shortcut through the maddening military bureaucracy, a way to get the child out. The Rev. Marc Bishop, a Chelmsford, Mass., priest who is battalion chaplain, started e-mailing friends back home, looking for money and help.

Meanwhile, each week, under the cover of darkness, wearing night-vision goggles, Walsh and a dozen Marines made their way to the shanty where Mariam lived. They parked their Humvees a mile away and walked a different, circuitous route each time.

Staff Sgt. Edward Ewing, the platoon leader who devised and led the covert nocturnal visits, said Walsh's team followed a routine: Lance Cpl. Eric Valdepenas, a 21-year-old from Seekonk, Mass., and Cody Hill, a 23-year-old lance corporal from Oklahoma, hid outside Mariam's house, providing cover, along with some others; Cpl. Jared Shoemaker, 29, a police officer from Tulsa, accompanied Donovan and Walsh inside the house, where they tended to Mariam as best they could, trying to ward off an infection that could kill her.

“We're going to get her the help she needs,” Walsh would say, to a family that didn't speak English but somehow understood that the Americans, loathed as an occupying force by many in Fallujah, represented Mariam's only chance.

Over the summer, they made great strides. Bishop had struck gold with an e-mail to Christopher Anderson, one of his parishioners at St. Mary's Church in Chelmsford. Anderson, who is president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, lined up 16 companies to pay to get the baby to Boston.

Donovan, meanwhile, had found Dr. Rafael Pieretti, a Venezuelan surgeon at Massachusetts General who is one of the few doctors in the United States who specialize in the condition. Pieretti and Massachusetts General offered their services free of charge.
But there it all stalled. There were some 5,000 Iraqi civilians seeking to leave the country for medical care, and Mariam, it seemed, would have to wait her turn.

On Labor Day, Sept. 4, Walsh and his team were on another routine patrol in another section of Fallujah, about a mile from Mariam's house. Ewing was in the lead vehicle and noticed some kids playing soccer off the side of the road. Then came the blast, which lifted the rear of Ewing's 5-ton Humvee off the road. But it was Walsh's Humvee just behind that took what the Marines call a belly shot: The bomb exploded directly under the vehicle.

The Boston Globe

Maureen Walsh (right), the mother of slain medic Chris Walsh, and nurse Katie Dinare visited Baby Mariam last month at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Ewing and some Marines rushed to the smoking wreckage. Medic Greg Cinelli tried to keep them away. They pushed their way past him, and Cinelli turned his attention to Hill, who had severe burns over more than half of his body. Hill was in shock but kept asking about the others.

“You made it out!” Cinelli told Hill. “They can, too!”

But Cinelli was just trying to give Hill the will to live. There was nothing he or anybody else could do for the others: Valdepenas, the youngest of eight children, who left the University of Massachusetts at Amherst when his unit got called to active duty, Shoemaker, with a wife back in Oklahoma, and Walsh, the author of the mission for Mariam, were dead.

With their seven-month rotation about to end, and 11 members of their battalion dead and 83 wounded, the Marines decided there was only one way to honor their dead brothers and that was to make sure the baby was saved.

E-mails from Fallujah shot all around the United States, detailing the risks that Walsh and the Marines had taken, the effort expended and the blood spilled. Suddenly, the red tape loosened, and in early October Mariam was flown to Boston. The surgery was successful, and she is doing well.

More than a month after Maureen Walsh buried her son, she stood in her living room in Kansas, reading a handwritten letter from Donovan.

“You need to know this about your son,” Donovan wrote.

She had not known about Mariam, had not known that her son spent months, surrounded by the chaos of war, trying to save her. And it was then, as she stood there, tears falling onto Donovan's letter, that Maureen Walsh knew she had to see the child, and hold her in her arms.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 28, 2006, 05:03:02 AM
This article on the death of President Ford caught my attention:

How Lieutenant Ford Saved His Ship

Published: December 28, 2006
East Hampton, N.Y.

FOR Americans under a certain age, Gerald Ford is best remembered for his contribution to Bartlett’s — “Our long national nightmare is over” — or, more likely, for the comedian Chevy Chase’s stumbling, bumbling impersonations of him on “Saturday Night Live.” But there’s a different label we can attach to this former president, one that has been overlooked for 62 years: war hero.

In 1944, Lt. j.g. Jerry Ford — a lawyer from Grand Rapids, Mich., blond and broad-shouldered, with the lantern jaw of a young Johnny Weissmuller — was a 31-year-old gunnery officer on the aircraft carrier Monterey. The Monterey was a member of Adm. William Halsey’s Third Fleet, and in mid-December, Lieutenant Ford was sailing off the Philippines as Admiral Halsey’s ships provided air cover for the second phase of Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s “I shall return” Philippine invasions.

The Monterey had earned more than half a dozen battle stars for actions in World War II; during the battle of Leyte Gulf, Lieutenant Ford, in charge of a 40-millimeter antiaircraft gun crew on the fantail deck, had watched as a torpedo narrowly missed the Monterey and tore out the hull of the nearby Australian cruiser Canberra. Two months later, in the early morning hours of Dec. 18, the Japanese were the least of the Monterey’s worries, as it found itself trapped in a vicious Pacific cyclone later designated Typhoon Cobra.

Lieutenant Ford had served as the Monterey’s officer of the deck on the ship’s midnight-to-4-a.m. watch, and had witnessed the lashing rains and 60-knot winds whip the ocean into waves that resembled liquid mountain ranges. The waves reeled in from starboard, gigantic sets of dark water that appeared to defy gravity, cresting at 40 to 70 feet. In his 18 months at sea, Lieutenant Ford had never seen waves so big. As breakers crashed over the carrier’s wheelhouse, he could just barely make out the distress whistles sounding about him — the deep beeps of the battleships, the shrill whoops of the destroyers.

After his watch Lieutenant Ford had strapped himself into his bunk below decks, and it seemed that his head had barely hit the pillow when the Monterey’s skipper, Capt. Stuart H. Ingersoll, sounded general quarters, calling all hands to their stations. Lieutenant Ford bolted upright in his dark sea cabin. He thought he smelled smoke amidships. Racing through a rolling companionway dimly lighted by red battle lights, he reached the outside skipper’s ladder leading to the pilothouse and began to climb. At that precise moment a 70-foot wave broke over the Monterey. The carrier pitched 25 degrees to port, and Lieutenant Ford was knocked flat on his back. He began skimming the flight deck as if he were on a toboggan.

Just as he was about to be hurled overboard, Lieutenant Ford managed to slow his slide, twist like an acrobat, and fling himself onto the catwalk. He got to his knees, made his way below deck, and started back up again.

By the time he reached the Monterey’s pilothouse, the fighter planes in its hangar deck had begun slamming into one another as well as the bulkheads — “like pinballs,” Mr. Ford recalled 60 years later — and the collisions had ignited their gas tanks. The hangar deck of the Monterey had become a cauldron of aircraft fuel, and because of a quirk in its construction, the flames from the burning aircraft were sucked into the air intakes of the lower decks. As fires broke out below, Lieutenant Ford remembered the smoke he smelled when he’d bolted from his bunk.

Admiral Halsey had ordered Captain Ingersoll to abandon ship, and the Monterey was ablaze from stem to stern as Lieutenant Ford stood near the helm, awaiting his orders. “We can fix this,” Captain Ingersoll said, and with a nod from his skipper, Lieutenant Ford donned a gas mask and led a fire brigade below.

Aircraft-gas tanks exploded as hose handlers slid across the burning decks. Into this furnace Lieutenant Ford led his men, his first order of business to carry out the dead and injured. Hours later he and his team emerged burned and exhausted, but they had put out the fire.

Three destroyers were eventually capsized by Typhoon Cobra, a dozen more ships were seriously damaged, more than 150 planes were destroyed, and 793 men lost their lives. It was the Navy’s worst “defeat” of World War II. But the Monterey and nearly all of its men survived to take part in the battle of Okinawa, and the future president ended his Navy stint in 1946 with the rank of lieutenant commander.

Like his fellow World War II veterans, Mr. Ford returned home and resumed his life, rarely speaking publicly of his heroism. But in contrast to the public’s image of him as a clumsy nonentity, Mr. Ford was a man whose grace under pressure saved his ship and hundreds of men on it.

Robert Drury and Tom Clavin are the authors of the forthcoming “Halsey’s Typhoon: The True Story of a Fighting Admiral, an Epic Storm and an Untold Rescue.”
Title: Rescued Behind Enemy Lines
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 19, 2007, 02:48:03 PM
ELITE TEAM RESCUES TROOPS BEHIND ENEMY LINES: As a member of the U.S. Air Force's elite Combat Search and Rescue team, "Dan," a pararescueman, or PJ, is used to saving the lives of fellow U.S. and coalition troops in battlefield situations. But last month, he was the one in need of rescue. During a mission in southeastern Afghanistan, he was critically injured in a Chinook helicopter crash that killed eight service members, including U.S. Army Rangers and a fellow pararescueman. Before losing consciousness, Dan managed to give a medical assessment to a rescue team in another location.

Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 20, 2007, 06:03:59 AM
I admit to feeling considerable anger with President Bush over his failure to up the size of the military several years ago.  In political terms he easily could have done so during the 2004 Presidential campaign when Sen. Kerry was calling for an increase of 40,000 IIRC.    Now, three years later, the increase he finally is asking for will be much harder to achieve and the hardship on the troops has been considerable.

The following is from the today's NY Times, always a suspect source, but the gist of the piece does not contradict my impressions from elsewhere.

FORT POLK, La., March 14 — For decades, the Army has kept a brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division on round-the-clock alert, poised to respond to a crisis anywhere in 18 to 72 hours.

Deployments, Brigade By Brigade Today, the so-called ready brigade is no longer so ready. Its soldiers are not fully trained, much of its equipment is elsewhere, and for the past two weeks the unit has been far from the cargo aircraft it would need in an emergency.

Instead of waiting on standby, the First Brigade of the 82nd Airborne is deep in the swampy backwoods of this vast Army training installation, preparing to go to Iraq. Army officials concede that the unit is not capable of getting at least an initial force of several hundred to a war zone within 18 hours, a standard once considered inviolate.

The declining readiness of the brigade is just one measure of the toll that four years in Iraq — and more than five years in Afghanistan — have taken on the United States military. Since President Bush ordered reinforcements to Iraq and Afghanistan in January, roughly half of the Army’s 43 active-duty combat brigades are now deployed overseas, Army officials said. A brigade has about 3,500 soldiers.

Pentagon officials worry that among the just over 20 Army brigades left in the United States or at Army bases in Europe and Asia, none has enough equipment and manpower to be sent quickly into combat, except for an armored unit stationed permanently in South Korea, several senior Army officers said.

“We are fully committed right now,” said Col. Charles Hardy of the Forces Command, which oversees Army training and equipping of troops to be sent overseas. “If we had a fully trained-up brigade, hell, it’d be the next one to deploy.”

The 82nd recently canceled its annual Memorial Day parade because most of its 17,000 soldiers are overseas. When the First Brigade, which got the rotating assignment as the ready brigade in December, leaves for Iraq over the summer, the 101st Airborne Division, at Fort Campbell, Ky., will take over responsibility for the ready brigade. But its soldiers are preparing to go to Iraq this year as well.

[Gen. Richard Cody, the Army vice chief of staff, told Congress in testimony on March 15 that with the demands of Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army does not have the time or the resources to prepare for most of the other missions it could potentially face.]

Military officials say that the United States, which has more than two million personnel in active and reserve armed forces, has a combat-tested force that could still emerge victorious if another major conflict arose. But the response would be slower, with more casualties, and would have to rely heavily on the Navy and Air Force, they said.

Despite tensions with Iran and North Korea, another crisis requiring troops does not appear imminent.

If ground forces were needed urgently, Army commanders said they could draw units quickly from Iraq and send them wherever they might be needed, rather than relying solely on the ready brigade to provide a fast reaction force.

The Pentagon can also draw on 28 combat brigades in the reserves, several of which the military is making plans to mobilize later this year or early next to relieve some of the strain. But those units face even deeper problems than the active duty brigades because of equipment and training shortfalls.

Altogether, Army officials said 23 brigades, including one National Guard brigade, are now deployed overseas. Once the reinforcements called for by the White House are in place, 17 Army combat brigades will be in Iraq and two in Afghanistan, Army officials said, along with four more deployed in various locations, including as peacekeepers in the Sinai desert.

In effect, the Army has become a “just in time” organization: every combat brigade that finishes training is sent back to Iraq or Afghanistan almost immediately. Equipment vital for protecting troops, like armored vehicles, roadside bomb jammers and night vision goggles, is rushed to Iraq as quickly as it is made, officials say.

The 2007 Pentagon budget includes $17.1 billion to reset Army equipment, with a separate fund of $13.9 billion in emergency funds to replace or repair gear damaged in combat. Even so, units at home preparing to deploy are facing equipment shortages and have all but given up preparing for anything other than their next tour in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Page 2 of 2)

[“We do have shortages in the nondeployed forces,” General Cody conceded in his unusually candid testimony to Congress. There were not enough vehicles, radios and night vision gear, and there are “spot shortages” in weapons, he said, noting that those units constituted the nation’s strategic reserve.]

Deployments, Brigade By Brigade Later this year, the Army will probably be forced to send its first brigades back to Iraq with less than a year at home resting and training, senior Pentagon officials said. Another alternative, they said, would be to lengthen the tours in Iraq to 18 months from a year.

Army officials said no soldiers were sent overseas without adequate training and equipment. And they point to continued strong recruiting and retention numbers as proof that morale remains high.

But after insisting for years that one year at home is a minimum amount of time necessary to prepare a unit to conduct counterinsurgency operations, commanders now say that, by speeding up equipment overhauls and compressing training, they can do the job in 10 months or less.

Over time, the shortened training schedules will inevitably begin to affect the performance of troops in the field, some officers said.

Senior Pentagon officials worry about those deepening strains. Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sent a secret report to Congress last month that upgraded from “moderate” to “significant” the risk of failing in its mission that the military faces this year in carrying out tasks in Iraq, Afghanistan and any other hot spots that might emerge.

[“We have the best counterinsurgency army in the world, but they’re not trained for full-spectrum operations,” General Cody said in his testimony.]

The Marines, which are also heavily engaged in Iraq, are facing similar strains.

Fort Polk is one of the last stops many combat units make before deploying to Iraq. During the cold war, the installation trained soldiers to fight the Soviets in Europe. The 82nd, based in Fort Bragg, N. C., used to parachute into Louisiana to keep its airborne skills sharp, but that tradition has been abandoned.

Now, even though the terrain bears little resemblance to Iraq’s desertlike conditions, the emphasis is solely on preparing infantry units to handle the chaotic sectarian conflict and random violence they are likely to encounter there.

Within the 82nd’s current First Brigade, about 4 soldiers in 10 have done previous tours in Iraq, making preparations to go back easier, said Col. Charles Flynn, the brigade commander. Last week, the brigade was spread out throughout the wooded training area at Fort Polk, in an exercise that featured simulations of the kind of Iraqi villages and roadside bomb attacks that many soldiers had actually experienced in previous deployments.

But almost all are in new jobs. Lt. Col. Michael Iacobucci, now a battalion commander, had served as a battalion executive officer in the 82nd when it was in Iraq in 2003. After coming home, Colonel Iacobucci, who is from Albany, had moved with his family to Australia as part of a three-year military exchange program.

He rejoined the 82nd in August, eager to go back to Iraq, he said while driving in a Humvee through the mock Iraqi villages. Before units were actually preparing to go into combat, their performance at Fort Polk would be graded only when the two-week exercise was over, said Lt. Col. Arthur Kandarian, a trainer. Now, the lessons are frequently spelled out as they happen, to get soldiers ready faster.

“It was treated as more of a test, and it was a closed-book test,” he explained. “Now it’s a coaching situation because we’re in a war.”

Training is being compressed at almost every stage, Army officers said. Soldiers who before 2003 spent months in specialized courses and on firing ranges now take compressed classes taught by so-called mobile training teams and hone their weapons proficiency on simulators, Army officers said.

“The biggest problem I’m seeing is unfamiliarity with equipment,” said Capt. Christian Durham, an instructor at Fort Polk, who sees all the units that rotate through before heading to Iraq.

Meanwhile, the Army is struggling just to keep up with current troop demands. The five additional combat brigades ordered by President Bush in January will raise the total American force level in Iraq to 160,000 troops, including combat and support troops, by June. That has forced the Army to take steps to supply troops faster to maintain the higher force levels.

Two Army brigades, one at Fort Riley, Kan., and another at Ft. Hood, Tex., that were not scheduled to return to the combat rotation until 2008 were ordered in December to speed up preparations so they will be ready to deploy by October, said Lt. Col. Christian Kubik, a spokesman for the First Infantry Division.

The Pentagon also informed the 172nd Stryker Brigade, which returned in December from a 16-month tour in Iraq, that it had to be ready for possible deployment between October and December, according to Maj. Michael Blankartz, a brigade spokesman.

Normally, a brigade is given half a year to overhaul its equipment, but the Alaska brigade, now part of the 25th Infantry Division, has only four months, he said. The timetable for preparing its troops is even more accelerated.

Roughly two-thirds of the brigade’s 3,300 soldiers are rotating to other units around the Army, as is customary after a deployment, Major Blankartz said. Their replacements are not scheduled to arrive until July and August, he said, leaving only one or two months before the Army wants the brigade prepared.

Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 14, 2007, 02:45:11 PM
Iraq: The Intense Search for Three Missing U.S. Soldiers
Thousands of U.S. troops backed by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and spy satellites searched the "Triangle of Death" just south of Baghdad, Iraq, on May 14 for three U.S. soldiers missing in action since insurgents attacked their patrol in the area May 12. The Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella organization of jihadist insurgent groups, claimed responsibility for the attack on a jihadist Web site May 13, and said it has the soldiers in custody, though it provided no proof.

Although the capture of soldiers is a risk in any war -- indeed, Iraq's insurgents have captured U.S. soldiers in the past -- the U.S. strategy of deploying troops in smaller units increases the odds that enemy combatants will seize American soldiers.

The U.S. patrol, comprising two vehicles with a total of seven soldiers and one Iraqi interpreter, came under attack before dawn some 12 miles west of the town of Mahmudiyah, in the Triangle of Death. The patrol, from the 3rd Infantry Division, likely was out in the predawn hours to clear the road of any improvised explosive devices before the day's traffic began. U.S. troops responding to the attack found the bodies of five members of the unit, including the interpreter, at the scene.

In this case, the initial response to the attack would have come from similar patrols in the area, which would have rushed to the scene to provide reinforcements. At that time, the call would have gone out for the deployment of a quick reaction force, a unit of 10 to 15 soldiers, usually military police or cavalry, held in reserve at a forward operating base (FOB) for the purpose of responding to units in the field that come under attack. Once it is determined that soldiers are indeed missing, the report is sent from the field to the higher levels of command. In this case, the initial notification would have gone at least as high as the divisional command level.

The search for the missing soldiers is the current highest tactical priority for U.S. forces in Iraq -- and all available assets are being used to locate them. Some 4,000 U.S. soldiers have surged into the area where the patrol was ambushed, searching houses and vehicles and detaining suspicious individuals. In addition, UAVs are scouring the area, using video, infrared and other sensors to locate any signs of the soldiers or their captors. Coalition spokesman Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell also said "national means" are being used in the search, meaning the government is using spy satellites capable of collecting all kinds of image, signal and multispectral intelligence. Because they are in a polar orbit and move quickly over the Earth's surface, the satellites can only scan the area for a brief time. The information they collect can be used to narrow the search area for the UAVs, which can loiter over the area longer and provide real-time information. Furthermore, Iraqi interpreters in U.S. employ, as well as local Iraqi sources, have begun collecting intelligence about the soldiers from relatives in the insurgency.

The risk of capture is high in any combat situation in which small units come into direct contact with one another. In recent months, however, the U.S. military has begun deploying troops to neighborhoods in smaller units, rather than sending them out in large convoys from FOBs. This further increases the odds that more U.S. troops will be captured.

In Iraq, U.S. solders are told to resist capture at all costs, and to attempt escape immediately. This is because they can expect no quarter from the enemy or any protection under the Geneva Conventions if captured. If the attackers captured the missing U.S. troops alive, the soldiers likely were wounded during the ambush or while attempting to fight off the attackers.

Although the United States will remain committed to finding the soldiers, the longer the search continues the more intensity it will lose. Should this effort drag on, other events in Iraq will require that units tasked with the hunt be redeployed to other areas. For the time being, however, the search is top priority.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 15, 2007, 11:04:54 PM

The Best Ambassadors
How American troops are making some unlikely friends.
by Jeff Emanuel
05/15/2007 12:00:00 AM


OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM saw the advent of a practice that has revolutionized modern war reporting: the embedding of journalists with frontline combat units. This practice gave the media, the American public, and the world, unprecedented access to the soldiers on the front lines, as well as to the war itself. "We were offered an irresistible opportunity: free transportation to the front line of the war, dramatic pictures, dramatic sounds, great quotes," said Tom Gjelten of NPR. "Who can pass that up?"

While the military also benefited from having an eager outlet for its stories and successes, the biggest result of the embedding process was the shift it caused in the relationship between the military and the media--a shift that laid the groundwork for a fundamental change in the dynamics of war reporting. As Major General Buford Blount of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division explained, "A level of trust developed between the soldier and the media that offered nearly unlimited access."

Despite the obvious benefits of embedded reportage, though, the practice has met with its share of criticism from members of the Fourth Estate. Beginning even before OIF kicked off, media spokespersons and others, such as University of Texas professor Robert Jensen, expressed concern that "embedded reporters would inevitably become too sympathetic to the troops with whom they were traveling." Theories were put forth that this was a "primary motivation on the part of military planners in designing the embedded system in the first place," and that the U.S. government was simply taking the approach of, "feed the media beast enough stories that cast U.S. troops in the best possible light and the job of managing the media message is all but taken care of."

The latter is, of course, an absurdly simplistic notion. Rather than simply sitting back and receiving dispatches and releases carefully crafted to "cast U.S. troops in the best possible light," embedded reporters, by the very nature of their task, see the troops with whom they are living and working at all times--the good, the bad, the heroic, the angry, the emotional, and everything else. The former claim though, that reporters will be overly sympathetic to the troops, does ring true to a degree; the debate on that count, then, is whether that is actually a bad thing.

While I was at the Combined Press Information Center (CPIC) in Baghdad, a pair of Spanish journalists--a newspaper reporter and a photojournalist--walked in, fresh from their embed with the 1-4 Cavalry of the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq. They had spent two weeks amongst the troops there, living with them and going on missions with them, including house-to-house searches and seizures. Their impressions of these soldiers were quickly made clear.

"Absolutely amazing," David Beriain, the reporter (and the one who spoke English), said of the young Cavalry troops. "In Spain, it is embarrassing--our soldiers are ashamed to be in the army. These young men--and they seem so young!--are so proud of what they do, and do it so well, even though it is dangerous and they could very easily be killed." Beriain explained that the company he had been embedded with had lost three men in the span of six days while he was there--one to a sniper and two to improvised explosive devices (IEDs), both of which had blown armored Humvees into the air and flipped them onto their roofs. Despite this, he said, and despite some of the things that they might have said in the heat of the moment after seeing their comrades killed, the soldiers' resolve, morale, and dedication to the mission remained unshaken.

It was in the process of performing that mission, of coping with the loss of loved ones, and of just being themselves as American soldiers, that these young men were able to win over the admiration and affection of more than one journalist who had arrived in their midst harboring a less-than-positive opinion of the Iraq war and those prosecuting it.

"I love those guys," Beriain said, looking wistfully out the window of the media cloister in the Green Zone that is CPIC. "From the first time you go kick a door with them, they accept you--you're one of them. I've even got a 'family photo' with them" to remember them by. "I really hated to leave."

Such a radical transformation, and such a strong bond of affection, forged in so little time. "It is those common experiences," Beriain explained, "where you are all in danger, and you go through it together. It builds a relationship instantly."

It doesn't matter how skeptical of the war a journalist might be, according to an Army public affairs officer (PAO) who spoke with me on condition of anonymity. "So often, they come out of that experience and--even if their opinion of the war hasn't changed--they're completely won over by the troops."

"I was one of those," admitted Beriain, speaking broken English and blinking away tears. "No matter what you think of the war, or what has happened here, you cannot be around the soldiers and not be completely affected. They are amazing people, and they represent themselves and

the Army better than anyone could ever imagine." A retired Army officer concurred, telling me that these "young troops are some of the best good will ambassadors we've ever produced. It would never occur to one to not tell you what he's really thinking, and they are so earnest" that it is almost impossible not to be won over by them after a short while.

The PAO spoke of a Greek reporter who had been embedded with an American cavalry unit in Iraq. The unit became entrenched in a 45-minute firefight with insurgents. Yanked out of the line of fire by a soldier who put the journalist's life above his own, he waited under cover and in fear of his life for the duration of the battle and with the best possible view of American soldiers in action against an armed and murderous enemy. He believed he had lived to tell the tale only because of the bravery of those young troops. "He had tears in his eyes as he talked about it," the PAO said. "He just kept saying, 'they saved my life, they saved my life these are great men; they are heroes.'"

While it may be decried by some for causing "objective" journalists to lose their cold detachment--to see the soldiers they live alongside as real people--it is that very fact that makes the practice of embedding reporters with military units so beneficial to both parties. Rather than observing events from a safe distance, and thus being able to remove the human element from the equation, embedded reporters are forced to face up to the humanity of their subjects, and to share common experiences--often of the life-and-death variety--with those who they are covering. Human nature being what it is, such proximity has a profound effect. It is a testament both to the soldiers themselves, and to the journalists who volunteer to live and work alongside them, that that effect has, in so many cases, been so positive.

Only days after the conversations recounted above, I left to embed with the 1-4 Cav (the unit of which Beriain and his companion, Sergio Caro, had spoken so highly) and began my own experience living and working with the same troops who had won over these foreign journalists so completely. Having stood alongside them in the trenches, I have to say that they impressed me every bit as much as they did my predecessors--as soldiers, as men, and as Americans.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 01, 2007, 02:20:38 PM

Dog Brothers Inc. is proud to support Michael Yon in his mission to report the truth from the frontlines.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 05, 2007, 08:00:38 AM
MY covers the Brits in action.  As awalys from MY, great stuff.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 18, 2007, 10:20:35 PM
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 21, 2007, 10:44:29 PM
USN SEAL training

Not very deep, it is CNN after all, but good to see that the re-enlistment bonuses are starting to go up.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 03, 2007, 06:48:41 AM
Deadly Double Standards
July 3, 2007; Page A16

Lance Cpl. Justin Sharratt is a U.S. Marine who served in combat in Haditha, Iraq, and whose actions on the battlefield have made him the focus of an investigation. He is charged with committing three counts of unpremeditated murder on Nov. 19, 2005. Recently, I had the distinct honor of testifying for him at an Article 32 Hearing at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

I will not comment on the specifics of his case. But I will offer a few observations about how this country is judging its young warriors for decisions they make in the heat of battle and the effect that judgment may have on our ability to wage war. Lt. Col. Paul Yingling recently gained a lot of media attention for writing that "a private who loses a rifle suffers more consequence than a general who loses a war." Nowhere is that more true than in the administration of justice for decisions made on the battlefield.

The Defense Department's "rules of engagement" allow commanders to make decisions on how to conduct combat operations. They are given wide latitude up front to decide what level of force a specific mission calls for -- whether to conduct a very limited engagement, whether to call in an air strike or conduct other actions that may result in civilian casualties. Their decisions are often informed by whether they are dealing with known enemy combatants or high-value targets. Depending on the number of potential civilian casualties and the type of weapons systems employed, they can order a target to be bombed without fear of legal consequence (assistance payments, called solatia, made when civilians are injured or killed or property is damaged, are not admissions of legal liability or fault). These commanders often have minutes, hours and sometimes days to make decisions. And they're not under hostile fire.

Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in the middle of a deadly firefight, however, often have only a split second to make similar decisions against a determined, civilian-dressed enemy. And the immediate consequence of making the wrong decision can mean getting yourself or someone in your unit killed. It therefore is unconscionable to apply higher standards and expectations to a younger, less-experienced Marine than to a commander in an operations center far from the battlefield. This isn't to say commanders should face tighter legal standards, but rather a call for the same deference for a rifleman who learns only in hindsight that he may have killed civilians.

In civilian law-enforcement settings, the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held that cops who exercise the use of deadly force in the line of duty can't be sued, still less prosecuted, for their actions so long as they acted reasonably under the circumstances. Bad results do not mean bad decisions. Police officers, unlike soldiers, are not forced to raise an affirmative defense of self-defense; rather, the government has the initial burden of proving that the police officer's actions were unreasonable. We should provide at least the same level of deference to our warriors making decisions in a combat zone that we do to cops patrolling the streets of America.

We should also protect our warriors from the caterwauling of those such as the Washington Post reporters who "broke" the Haditha story and from those in the military who are more concerned about maintaining an "appearance of propriety" than in killing our determined enemies. Neither the law nor decency allows for the willful killing of innocent civilians. There need to be, however, allowances for unintended and unfortunate consequences.

When it comes to applying the correct legal standard, those judging the actions of warriors in combat should recognize the tactical realities of an engagement. It may be legally and morally appropriate under certain circumstances to kill "unarmed" individuals, such as those actively acting as lookouts for the emplacement of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or participating in the network of conspirators building such devices. In a recent Time magazine article a jihadist named Abdallah is quoted saying: "They are not going to defeat me with technology. If they want to get rid of IEDs, they have to kill me and everyone like me." Our young Marines are able and willing to make that happen, if only our leaders will display the moral courage to allow them to do so without fear of prosecution.

We have become our own worst enemy. Sadly, it is not the law that creates these restrictions, but rather an overly-restrictive interpretation of it by some commanders and their lawyers. Hopefully, the military will adopt a self-defense deadly-force policy akin to the FBI's, which reads in part that individual agents will not "be judged in the clear vision of 20-20 hindsight," but rather, based on how a reasonable person would act under situations that are "tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving." I can think of no circumstance more tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving than that faced by our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in the current counterinsurgency fight in Iraq.

Lt. Col. Bolgiano is the author of "Combat Self Defense: Saving America's Warriors from Risk-Averse Commanders and Their Lawyers" (Little White Wolf Books, 2007). His views do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Defense

Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 06, 2007, 03:39:36 AM

Pilot rides helicopter out of Iraqi firefight

WASHINGTON — Giving up his seat to a wounded soldier, an Army officer strapped himself to the side of an Apache helicopter gunship that airlifted them out of a furious firefight in Iraq, the military said Monday.

The Army called it an "unusual casualty evacuation," but Chief Warrant Officer Allen Crist's selfless act goes way beyond heroism.

Realizing that Spc. Jeffrey Jamaleldine needed medical attention fast, Crist put the critically wounded man in his own spot on the Apache on Saturday.

Crist then rigged a harness to strap himself to the fuselage and crouched on the stubby left gun wing of the aircraft.

With Chief Warrant Officer Kevin Purtee, of Houston, at the controls and Crist hanging on for dear life, the Apache flew out of the battle zone. It kept low, about 200 feet, until it reached a field hospital, the military said.

Jamaleldine, 31, of Fort Smith, Ark., was later reported in stable condition.

Army officials could not immediately recall an Apache ever being used before for a medical evacuation — and certainly not with the co-pilot riding outside.

Crist and Purtee, from Company B, 1st Battalion, 149th Aviation Regiment, were part of a four-Apache team that came to help U.S. troops pinned down under heavy fire in Ramadi.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 11, 2007, 02:55:19 PM
Will Murtha Apologize?
"An investigating officer has recommended dismissing murder charges against a Marine accused in the slayings of three Iraqi men in a squad action that killed 24 civilians in Haditha, according to a report released Tuesday," the Associated Press reports:

The government's theory that Lance Cpl. Justin L. Sharratt had executed the three men was "incredible" and relied on contradictory statements by Iraqis, Lt. Col. Paul Ware said in the report, released by Sharratt's defense attorneys.

"To believe the government version of facts is to disregard clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, and sets a dangerous precedent that, in my opinion, may encourage others to bear false witness against Marines as a tactic to erode public support of the Marine Corps and mission in Iraq," Ware wrote.

This was the incident in which Rep. John Murtha accused the Marines of killing Iraqis "in cold blood"--a charge, as we noted in May 2006, that was self-contradictory. In November ScrippsNews reported that Cpl. Sharratt's parents were "enraged" with Murtha, who is their congressman. Perhaps it's time for him to apologize.

Political Journal, WSJ
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 28, 2007, 08:31:09 AM

Citizen Marine Awarded Silver Star  |  By Beth Zimmerman Still  |  July 20, 2007
Crouched and flattened against a waist-high wall, Marine Sgt. Jeff Hunter could see the muzzle flashes of the enemy AK-47 as it took out chunks of the wall by his head. In the middle of a shoot-out with a fortified insurgent in western Iraq, Hunter never could have known he'd later be hailed a hero.

But two years after that May 2005 firefight - and a year after he finished his Reserve contract - Hunter, 28, received the Silver Star on June 18 at City Hall in Albuquerque, N.M., for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" in Iraq during the summer of 2005 - including two fire fights in which he pulled a fellow Marine out of enemy fire.

Originally an administrative clerk at Albuquerque-based Delta Company, 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, Hunter deployed to Iraq as an infantry fire team leader with Columbus, Ohio-based Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, in March 2005.

In the early hours of May 25, then-Cpl. Hunter set out on foot with Lima Company toward Haditha's market district in the opening days of Operation New Market.

According to Hunter, the company planned to arrive at the market by sunrise in order to catch insurgents by surprise. He said the trip seemed like any other, until a Marine shot a stray dog that had charged him. About ten seconds later, "all hell broke loose," Hunter said.

The award citation released by the Corps and interviews with Hunter and his fellow Marines reveal the platoon was ambushed by small arms fire that seriously wounded an officer on the patrol. Sgt. David Wimberg, Hunter's squad leader, ordered the squad to take a house to their left, where they were receiving fire.

Wimberg hopped the fence and opened the gate for Hunter's fire team, then kicked in the door and ran inside with Hunter on his heels.

"Sgt. Wimberg barely took a second step into the room before a muzzle to an AK-47 was presented [at his chest] and fired several times," Hunter said in a recap of the events he wrote after the firefight.

When Wimberg fell to the ground, "I instinctively reached down and grabbed him, pulling him back out of the house," Hunter wrote. "I dragged him to the right of the door under a window and lay on top of him while I heard him wheeze for us to frag the room."

Hunter called for two of his squad mates to take Wimberg to their corpsman while he pushed forward with the attack on the house.

"In the back of my mind, I knew that I was now in charge of the squad and I had to get control of the situation," he wrote.

"Acting as squad leader, [Hunter] reorganized his Marines and led them into the insurgent position…ultimately securing the house with close-range small arms fire and hand grenades," according to the Corps release. Wimberg later died as a result of his wounds, but Hunter's actions during the firefight "enabled his company to regain its momentum," the release said.

Two months later, Hunter's platoon was tasked with sweeping a couple small towns west of Baghdad the morning of July 28. According to Hunter, the patrol had been uneventful until Cpl. Andre Williams started to knock on the door of a house in Cykla.

"Right as he went to knock, a heavy-machine gun shot him through the door," Hunter said. That kicked off a four-hour firefight between nine insurgents bottled inside the house and Hunter's platoon.

When some of the insurgents fled to another nearby house, Hunter maneuvered his squad closer, using their own cover fire to move to a rooftop overlooking the second house.

A couple hours into the firefight, the other two squads were still engaged in the at the first house, but rounds were no longer coming from the second house. When Hunter's squad cleared the house, they found an empty rocket-propelled grenade launcher, but no shooter.

They moved to the back yard where livestock were frantically running around following the hours of shooting going on around them. In the midst of the chaos, two of Hunter's Marines broke off to search two small cinder block buildings for enemy fighters.

As Lance Cpl. Christopher Lyons - Hunter's closest friend in the platoon - crossed the threshold of one of the buildings, he was shot by an insurgent fortified inside.

Hunter and his Marines took cover in a room of the building, which was still under construction. The wall was about three feet high, with huge portions missing for windows, Hunter said.

Crouched against his portion of the wall, about 15 feet from the insurgent's position, "I could see the muzzle flashes from the doorway [from] the guy shooting…while the AK-47 was just taking chunks out of the wall," Hunter said. 

"It got pretty scary there for a minute."

During that fight, Hunter "shot two enemies and made two unsuccessful attempts in the face of enemy fire to retrieve a wounded Marine," the Corps release said.

Hunter "then ran across a fire-swept street to link up with a M1A1 tank, guided it's fire and directed it to breach the building," the release added. "This action neutralized one insurgent and allowed the extraction" of Lyons, who had been mortally wounded.

According to Shawn Bryan, who deployed as a sergeant with Lima Company in 2005, Hunter promised Lyons he'd take care of his family if anything happened to Lyons. After Lyons' death, Hunter established an email friendship with Bethany, Lyons' widow - a relationship that eventually blossomed into a romantic one.

"Because [Hunter] knew Christopher and loved him…I think that's what brought us together in the beginning," said Bethany. "We've both helped each other in that grieving process we both went through."

They were married last May, and Hunter, who has a year left in the Individual Ready Reserve, is in the process of adopting Lyons' daughter. The two also had a son in February.

"He's my hero…not just for what he did there, but what he did when he came home," said Bryan.

Meanwhile, Hunter said he has "mixed feelings" about his Silver Star.

"I honestly don't believe I did anything all that heroic," Hunter said. "I feel like I was just doing my job," he said. He'd "gladly trade" the medal if it would bring back Wimberg or Lyons.

"I know he says he didn't do anything too heroic…but in our eyes - the Wimbergs and mine - it was," Bethany countered.

Hunter currently has six classes left at the University of New Mexico, and he's working for Bryan in Albuquerque. A soft-spoken Marine who prefers to stay out of the spotlight, Hunter said his classmates have no idea he received the medal.

"He got the Silver Star for what he did," said Bryan. "But he did what he did because that's who he is."

Learn about Marine Corps service opportunities,13319,142829,00.html?
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 24, 2007, 08:31:14 AM
'To Old Times'
A toast to American troops, then and now.

Friday, August 24, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

Once I went hot-air ballooning in Normandy. It was the summer of 1991. It was exciting to float over the beautiful French hills and the farms with crisp crops in the fields. It was dusk, and we amused ourselves calling out "Bonsoir!" to cows and people in little cars. We had been up for an hour or so when we had a problem and had to land. We looked for an open field, aimed toward it, and came down a little hard. The gondola dragged, tipped and spilled us out. A half dozen of us emerged scrambling and laughing with relief.

Suddenly before us stood an old man with a cracked and weathered face. He was about 80, in rough work clothes. He was like a Life magazine photo from 1938: "French farmer hoes his field." He'd seen us coming from his farmhouse and stood before us with a look of astonishment as the huge bright balloon deflated and tumbled about.

One of us spoke French and explained our situation. The farmer said, or asked, "You are American." We nodded, and he made a gesture--I'll be back!--and ran to the house. He came back with an ancient bottle of Calvados, the local brandy. It was literally covered in dust and dry dirt, as if someone had saved it a long time.

He told us--this will seem unlikely, and it amazed us--that he had not seen an American in many, many years, and we asked when. "The invasion," he said. The Normandy invasion.

Then he poured the Calvados and made a toast. I wish I had notes on what he said. Our French speaker translated it into something like, "To old times." And we raised our glasses knowing we were having a moment of unearned tenderness. Lucky Yanks, that a wind had blown us to it.

That was 16 years ago, and I haven't seen some of the people with me since that day, but I know every one of us remembers it and keeps it in his good-memory horde.

He didn't welcome us because he knew us. He didn't treat us like royalty because we had done anything for him. He honored us because we were related to, were the sons and daughters of, the men of the Normandy Invasion. The men who had fought their way through France hedgerow by hedgerow, who'd jumped from planes in the dark and climbed the cliffs and given France back to the French. He thought we were of their sort. And he knew they were good. He'd seen them, when he was young.


I've been thinking of the old man because of Iraq and the coming debate on our future there. Whatever we do or should do, there is one fact that is going to be left on the ground there when we're gone. That is the impression made by, and the future memories left by, American troops in their dealings with the Iraqi people.
I don't mean the impression left by the power and strength of our military. I mean the impression left by the character of our troops-- by their nature and generosity, by their kindness. By their tradition of these things.

The American troops in Iraq, our men and women, are inspiring, and we all know it. But whenever you say it, you sound like a greasy pol: "I support our valiant troops, though I oppose the war," or "If you oppose the war, you are ignoring the safety and imperiling the sacrifice of our gallant troops."

I suspect that in their sophistication--and they are sophisticated--our troops are grimly amused by this. Soldiers are used to being used. They just do their job.

We know of the broad humanitarian aspects of the occupation--the hospitals being built, the schools restored, the services administered, the kids treated by armed forces doctors. But then there are all the stories that don't quite make it to the top of the heap, and that in a way tell you more. The lieutenant in the First Cavalry who was concerned about Iraqi kids in the countryside who didn't have shoes, so he wrote home, started a drive, and got 3,000 pairs sent over. The lieutenant colonel from California who spent his off-hours emailing hospitals back home to get a wheelchair for a girl with cerebral palsy.

The Internet is littered with these stories. So is Iraq. I always notice the pictures from the wire services, pictures that have nothing to do with government propaganda. The Marine on patrol laughing with the local street kids; the nurse treating the sick mother.

A funny thing. We're so used to thinking of American troops as good guys that we forget: They're good guys! They have American class.

And it is not possible that the good people of Iraq are not noticing, and that in some way down the road the sum of these acts will not come to have some special meaning, some special weight of its own. The actor Gary Sinise helps run Operation Iraqi Children, which delivers school supplies with the help of U.S. forces. When he visits Baghdad grade schools, the kids yell, "Lieutenant Dan!"--his role in "Forrest Gump," the story of another good man.


Some say we're the Roman Empire, but I don't think the soldiers of Rome were known for their kindness, nor the people of Rome for their decency. Some speak of Abu Ghraib, but the humiliation of prisoners there was news because it was American troops acting in a way that was out of the order of things, and apart from tradition. It was weird. And they were busted by other American troops.
You could say soldiers of every country do some good in war beyond fighting, and that is true enough. But this makes me think of the statue I saw once in Vienna, a heroic casting of a Red Army soldier. Quite stirring. The man who showed it to me pleasantly said it had a local nickname, "The Unknown Rapist." There are similar memorials in Estonia and Berlin; they all have the same nickname. My point is not to insult Russian soldiers, who had been born into a world of communism, atheism, and Stalin's institutionalization of brutish ways of being. I only mean to note the stellar reputation of American troops in the same war at the same time. They were good guys.

They're still good.

We should ponder, some day when this is over, what it is we do to grow such men, and women, what exactly goes into the making of them.

Whatever is decided in Washington I hope our soldiers know what we really think of them, and what millions in Iraq must, also. I hope some day they get some earned tenderness, and wind up over the hills of Iraq, and land, and an old guy comes out and says, "Are you an American?" And they say yes and he says, "A toast, to old times."

Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of "John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father" (Penguin, 2005), which you can order from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Fridays on

Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: G M on August 26, 2007, 05:08:18 PM,0,3632390.story

My cousin Frankie

How a childhood hero killed in Vietnam was a lifelong inspiration


It was the summer of 1965. The ferry was making its run from the dock in Patchogue across the bay to Davis Park. Kids were splashing around at Corey Beach, the Sandspit and Canaan Lake. And Billy Joe Royal was singing "Down in the Boondocks." Patchogue High School graduates were out and about, enjoying the sun, the waves and the sounds of the Beach Boys, the Beatles and the Four Seasons.

Frank Clark Fisher was one of those kids from Patchogue High School, where he had been a goalie on the varsity soccer team. He lived with his dad and mom on Wilmarth Street. He worked as a lifeguard with Brookhaven Town, and this summer was the last summer before he shipped off to Parris Island and the Marines.

I grew up just up the hill from Frank. He was my cousin, and although I was blessed with two brothers and two sisters, Frank, who was 11 years older, was that big brother I didn't have. I looked for him each day as I played in my front yard or in the woods near my home. And when I'd see him walking with his buddies, I'd run over to him and he'd put his arm around me and let me walk with him. I loved Frankie; everyone did. I'd help him take care of his pigeons, and we'd take his dog,Tar, for walks in the woods. Frank always found the time for me. He'd tell me about his pending adventure in the Marine Corps, and I listened in awe as he told me how hard it would be. We come from a long line of soldiers, Marines and sailors in our family, and Frankie was about to join the ranks.

Frank shipped out in October 1965 and was a member of Platoon 1010 on Parris Island in South Carolina. I wrote to him several times during those couple of months, and Frank wrote back. He graduated from boot camp that December, went on to infantry school and came out as a rifleman. He was soon off to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he served for six months with the security forces.

It was the summer of 1966 when Frank sailed from California, across the Pacific to Southeast Asia. I remember watching the news each night on our black and white television set. "American servicemen killed in action in Vietnam" was the subject of many of these broadcasts. I watched as my mother and father talked about their concern for our boys serving over there. We had several from our neighborhood who were there and, of course, Frank. But Frankie was surely not going to be one of those casualties spoken about on the news. He had to come home. I was taking care of his pigeons while he was away. I was keeping my aunt Topsey company and hanging around in Frankie's room while her only child was fighting in the war.

During that year, I kept in touch with my cousin via letters, drawings I would send and pictures we'd send back and forth to one another. I spent a lot of time down the road at my aunt's house. She was one of those fun aunts who always had something special to give or was always making something special to eat.

Numbing news

It was a hot afternoon in August 1967, during the "Summer of Love." The Young Rascals were "Groovin'," Strawberry Alarm Clock sang of "Incense and Peppermints," while the Box Tops ranted about "The Letter." I entered the house, and another of my aunts was there. My mother was crying, and the smell of skunk cabbage on my muddy PF Flyers soon became less of a concern as I put my arm around my mother's neck and asked her what was wrong.

I recall her looking up at me as she sat in the kitchen chair. "Your cousin Frankie was killed in Vietnam." I just went numb. I didn't know how else to react.

I recall jumping the fence in the side yard and running into the woods across the street ... that same woods where I used to play while I was waiting for Frankie to walk by with his buddies and shout out to me to walk with them, me feeling like a big shot. And I cried and cried and cried.

Why? Why did my cousin have to die? But even then, I knew what being a Marine meant. I'd known that he could die, that he might die. I went on to serve in the U.S. Army and did so in honor of my cousin.

I also went on to become a New York City police officer and detective. I once asked my aunt what goals Frankie had set for himself, and she said to me, "He wanted to be much like you are today ... married, with children, and he wanted to be a policeman." I was happy to have accomplished those same goals and in doing so, sort of fulfill Frankie's goals as well.

I have five children and all of them know their cousin Frankie. They know him through my eyes and from the stories I tell and the pictures I show and the letters I read. My oldest son became a Marine after graduating from high school. He did so in honor of his cousin, Cpl. Frank C. Fisher. And when he went to infantry school after graduating from boot camp on Parris Island, I thought of my cousin. When my son served with the security forces at Guantanamo Bay, I thought of my cousin. And when my son shipped off to Iraq, I thought of my cousin ... and I prayed that he would look after my son, the same way he looked after me, when I was a kid: ever protective, ever vigilant, always faithful!

In the final letters Frankie and his mother exchanged, he asked for a Brownie camera and some film and told of his plans to try to save $1,000 by the time he came home. She wrote back about the family cat having kittens. "You've been gone such a long time," she wrote. "It seems like a lifetime. Write me if you get the chance. It's a little easier when there's a letter from you."

Frankie never got to use his Brownie to take the pictures he so much wanted to reflect on in future years. He never saw Rebel's kittens. Instead, he came home in a flag-draped casket amid the fragrance of cut flowers, a Marine Corps honor guard and many spilled tears from those of us who loved him so.

Seeking closure

To his mom, the time between letters seemed like a lifetime. If she only knew how ironic those words would become.

Since the time after Frankie's funeral, we never really spoke of the circumstances of his death. We knew what the telegram read but not much more than that. My aunt never really found closure in the loss of her son. For years, I would visit her, down the road from my home. The red and white banner with the gold star adorned her window. Frankie's high school graduation picture and Marine Corps picture hung proudly in her living room. His room remained the way he'd left it: comic books on his dresser, his varsity jacket on the back of the chair, all of his clothes folded neatly in his dresser or hanging in his closet.

I recall how one day she called and asked if I could come over. I walked past the pictures of Frank and glanced into his room, as I often did. I always picture him jumping out from behind his door and tackling me on the living room couch, giving me a "noogie" on the top of my head. This day, my aunt had a cardboard box for me, and as I looked at it, I saw Frankie's black lifeguard bathing suit and yellow lifeguard T-shirt. There were some things from high school there as well and some mementos from the Marine Corps.

My uncle and aunt have since passed away. The gold star banner hung in her house until she died, and I remember saying to myself, "That can finally come down now, as mother and son are reunited."

With the inception of home computers and the Web, I began to hunt around for some information about Frankie. I placed my e-mail address on various Marine Corps Web sites and Vietnam blogs, asking for anyone with information to contact me.

Friends of Frank

I became active with the alumni association of my high school in Patchogue, and over the years have been introduced to many of Frank's former classmates, teachers and friends. Many of them remember him fondly and all have a story about him that they long to tell. I think of those stories every time I visit that school and see the gray plaque and the eternal flame in the lobby with Frankie's name and the dozen or so names of other graduates of Patchogue High School who lost their lives in Vietnam.

After the Sept. 11 attacks in New York City, Washington and Pennsylvania, I finally retired from the New York City Police Department. My wife and I relocated our family to the mountains of east Tennessee several years ago. While unpacking, I took a break to check my e-mail. There was one unread message from an unknown person. After opening it, I stared at the stark message, which stated simply: "I was there when he was killed. E-mail me back for more info." It was signed "Sgt. Doyle Clark."

I sent an immediate reply to Clark with my telephone number attached. Then I sat by and waited for the phone to ring. My 10-year-old daughter answered the phone quickly, as most kids do. "Dad, it's Sgt. Clark," she said. The voice on the other end seemed frail, uncertain and somewhat uneasy.

"Hello, sir. This is Sgt. Clark. I've waited almost 38 years to talk about Frank ... "

With the respectful tone that one gets with time served in the military, and a distinct Oklahoma accent, Clark went on to tell me about the day my cousin Frankie was killed.

Frank and the other men from his unit, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, were assigned to a base camp on Go Noi Island, south of Da Nang, otherwise known as "the Island." Go Noi wasn't really an island -- it was a peninsula that, during the rainy season, would flood and give the appearance of an island. In addition to the Marine base, there was an ARVN (South Vietnamese Army) base camp there.

That morning, Aug. 27, there was a chaplain's service at the base. Some of the men attended before going on the patrol. Frankie was the squad leader on this particular patrol. There were a dozen or so men with him. Clark was a machine gunner who was along because of the shortage of machine gunners assigned to the unit. He was cross-training some of the riflemen with the machine gun.

As Frank led the patrol into the jungle and through several rice paddies, they came upon a wrecked house. They noticed several carambola trees in front of the house loaded with star fruit. Since it was just about noon, the patrol took a break, and the Marines sat and ate the fruit. The two Marines talked about their common interest in Japan as they sat in front of that house. After the men on the patrol ate several star fruit each, they resumed their duty. Frank led the patrol farther into the jungle toward the ARVN camp on what was called a "search and destroy" mission in the 1st Marines Operations Journal for that day.

At one point the path split, with one part leading around the camp and the other leading more directly toward it. Frank took the most direct path. As the unit approached the perimeter of its allies' base, Frank unknowingly wandered into an ARVN minefield. He tripped a mine commonly called a "Bouncing Betty," which is designed to pop up to crotch level and blow the legs out from under the enemy. Clark recalled being the fourth one in line in the patrol. He remembered seeing the explosion from the mine and the Marines going down as they were hit with the flying shrapnel. The only way he was able to describe why the three men in front of him and several behind him were hit, while he was left without a scratch, was that "God must have been with" him.


Clark explained that he pulled back one or two of the wounded men and ordered the other men to stay put because of the minefield and the possibility of other unexploded mines. He could see Frank ahead and for almost 38 years, he said, he has been haunted by his cries: "Mama! Mama!"

With his left hand gone, and severe head wounds, Frank continued to call out to his mother. With the minefield still very much a threat, the Marines on the patrol were helpless and could do nothing more than call for assistance. Frank's cries lasted for five or 10 minutes before he died. Another soldier had also been killed, a kid from Baltimore, a lance corporal named Bill Mignini, and several of the Marines were wounded.

When the reactionary force arrived, it was led by a young 2nd lieutenant, just married, named Cliff Robertson, a California native just shy of his 23rd birthday. Clark recalled how Robertson's young bride would send care packages to the men of the squad. Despite warnings, Robertson and his men went into the minefield to assess the situation and evacuate the wounded.

There was a pause in Clark's telling of the account. Choked up and trying to hold back tears, he apologized and asked me to forgive him, explaining again that he hadn't spoken of this incident in almost 38 years.

After he composed himself, he said the lieutenant's advance into the minefield detonated several other mines. Robertson was killed along with two Marines from his force -- Cpl. Ray Fort, from Carlisle, Ariz., and Cpl. John Jensen, from Espanola, Wash.

Clark recalled that it was at this time that the hospital corpsman along on the original patrol, a young sailor named Doc Drake, began running to the wounded Marines, pulling them away from the minefield and rendering first aid. This caused several more mines to detonate, wounding Drake. Thinking out loud, Clark wondered if Doc Drake had ever received the medal he recommended for him.

Clark paused. After several seconds, I asked, "Is everything OK?" I was prepared to give the Marine as much time as he needed to tell his account.

Laughing 'allies'

"You know what was so ironic that day?" he asked. "While all of these mines were going off, and all of these Marines were being killed and wounded, I remember laying in the berm of a rice paddy and looking up at a nearby hill, watching as several ARVN soldiers rolled around pointing and laughing while our men tripped the mines. They were pointing and laughing! And they are who we were in Vietnam to help! It took everything I had to not kill those guys where they stood.

"I tried to think of ways to get in touch with Frank's family for years," Clark explained, almost apologetically. "I just couldn't get it out of my head how he kept calling out for his mama."

I was horrified at the way my cousin was killed. And to know that he survived long enough to experience the immense pain he must have felt was even more disturbing. But despite all of that, knowing that his mother was the last thing he thought of, and that his last words were the cries "Mama," was somewhat bittersweet because Frank and his mother were exceptionally close. My aunt loved her only child with an adoration and pride that was envied among anyone who knew them. And Frankie would do anything for his mother.

Clark ended our telephone conversation by thanking me for allowing him to get these memories out into the open. He seemed relieved, and I was thankful for the closure he was able to give to me. I promised to keep in touch with this man who last spoke with my cousin as they both sat under a tree and sucked on star fruit. I'll forever love and admire my big cousin, Frankie Fisher ... well, just because he was my big cousin and also because he was my best friend.

It's because of this man, Doyle Clark from Oklahoma, that I also will never forget the other men who lost their lives that day. Lance Cpl. William D. Mignini of Baltimore, 2nd Lt. Clifton B. Robertson of Los Angeles, Cpl. Raymond Fort of Arizona and Cpl. John A. Jensen of Washington State.

I'd like to thank Doc Drake, wherever he may be, the hospital corpsman who tried valiantly to save the lives of the wounded Marines that day. May he somehow know the gratitude that those like Clark and I feel toward him.

Today, 40 years after my cousin was killed in that far-off land, I sit back and reflect on his life. The Buckinghams, Tommy James and the Shondells and the Rolling Stones on my iPod take me back to that hot summer day, and I can hear the faint sounds of helicopter rotors as they seem to get closer and louder. There's the sporadic explosion of mortar fire in the distance and the sound of boots hitting the dirt. I hear the rack of a machine gun bolt and the crack and pop of small-arms fire.

No, I'm not imagining these things. I'm actually listening to them as I, myself, grab for my M-4 rifle and flak vest. You see, I'm currently serving as a civilian advisor in western Iraq with a team of Marines from the 3rd Marine Division from Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. And just like I did while serving in Bosnia in the 1990s, I carry my cousin's photograph with me, as a reminder of who I am, and why I'm here.

Godspeed to all the brave men of Bravo 1/1 who fought in the name of liberty and freedom on that hot August day in 1967. And Godspeed to all of the American fighting men and women who serve our great country today! Semper Fi!
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 07, 2007, 09:18:27 AM
Profiles of valor: Tennessee Army National Guard
Tennessee Army National Guard 1st Lt. David Tiedeman and Sgt. Robert Betterton saved lives in the midst of a fierce battle in April 2005. Their 12-soldier team, accompanied by two Iraqi companies, was conducting a search for stolen weapons when insurgents ambushed the Americans and Iraqis with mortars, machine guns, RPGs and small-arms fire. Tiedeman led his team to an area from which they could mount a counter attack. After two soldiers were hit by enemy fire, Tiedeman risked his life to administer aid, stopping to return fire twice. Betterton, who had been shot eight times in the hand, stomach and leg, took out an RPG gunner and a sniper targeting Tiedeman. Tiedeman once again exposed himself to enemy fire to run to the aid of Betterton, and, after killing several jihadis with a grenade, carried him to safety. In all, 17 terrorists met their end that day, essentially eliminating a training camp that had plagued central Iraq. For their heroism, Tiedeman was awarded the Silver Star, while Betterton received the Bronze Star with Valor.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 14, 2007, 09:15:24 AM
Profiles of valor: Marine Corps Res. Sgt. Hunter
Marine Corps Reserve Sergeant Jeff Hunter has twice faced death to save injured comrades. In May 2005, insurgents ambushed then-Corporal Hunter’s platoon as it embarked on a dawn assault in Haditha. When Hunter’s squad leader entered a nearby house to stop the insurgents who were attacking from within, he was shot in the chest. Seeing his fallen leader, Hunter rushed into the house under shield of his own M16, reached his squad leader, and, positioning his own body between the injured Marine and the enemy, carried his comrade out of the house. Hunter then led his troops in successfully clearing the house of insurgents, killing one and capturing three.

Two months later, in a long and intense battle, insurgents shot one of Hunter’s Marines. After shooting the two insurgents from the shelter of a low wall, Hunter attempted to rescue the fallen Marine. Heavy gunfire, however, stopped his two attempts. Hunter then sprinted directly through the line of fire to an M1A1 tank located across the street. He used the tank to fire upon and neutralize the enemy’s position, and his platoon was able to reach and recover the mortally wounded Marine.

For his valor, Sgt. Hunter was awarded the Silver Star. Although Hunter claims of his actions, “I honestly don’t believe I did anything all that heroic,” America believes differently.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 23, 2007, 04:04:10 AM
Dear Members of the Community,

This week, our nation marked the sixth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. 

Each of us, in some way, was affected by the events of that day.  Perhaps your work-up schedule was accelerated to deploy to the Afghani theatre.  Maybe the fireman at the end of your street was a first responder at the World Trade Center, Pentagon, or in the field in Pennsylvania. 

Too many of us knew people who lost loved ones in the attack.  A few of us even lost friends and family members of our own.

September 11, 2001 was a day of great sacrifice for Americans.  No group has better understood that, nor has acted in such a manner as to make that sacrifice a more meaningful page in our nation’s history, than the United States Navy SEALs. 

The SEALs have taken the fight to the enemy with extraordinary result.  But their success has not been without cost.  More SEALs have made the ultimate sacrifice in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom than in any other conflict since Vietnam. 

Please join me in honoring the memories of Naval Special Warfare’s fallen heroes in the Global War on Terror.

Neil C. Roberts
 5 March 2002
Matthew J. Bourgeois
 27 March 2002
Thomas E. Retzer
 26 June 2003
David M. Tapper
 20 August 2003
Brian J. Oullette
 29 May 2004
Matthew G. Axelson
 28 June 2005
Danny P. Dietz
 28 June 2005
Michael P. Murphy
 28 June 2005
Jacques J. Fontan
 28 June 2005
Daniel R. Healy
 28 June 2005
Erik S. Kristensen
 28 June 2005
Jeffrey A. Lucas
 28 June 2005
Michael M. McGreevy, Jr.
 28 June 2005
Shane E. Patton
 28 June 2005
James Suh
 28 June 2005
Jeffrey S. Taylor
 28 June 2005
Marc A. Lee
 2 August 2006
Michael A. Monsoor
 29 September 2006
Joseph C. Schwedler
 6 April 2007

Keep their families in your thoughts.  And let their examples of selflessness and sacrifice be an inspiration in your own lives.

Kind regards,

Mark Divine
Founder and CEO
BUD/S 170

Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: G M on September 24, 2007, 09:33:18 AM

Do or die: Saving a soldier pierced by an RPG

For medics and a helicopter crew, there was only one choice
By Gina Cavallaro - Staff writer

Posted : Monday Sep 24, 2007 7:43:02 EDT
Spc. Channing Moss should be dead by all accounts. And those who saved his life did so knowing they might have died with him.

March 16, 2006. Southeastern Afghanistan. A fierce ambush and bloody firefight. It was over in a flash and Moss was left on the verge of death.

He was impaled through the abdomen with a rocket-propelled grenade, and an aluminum rod with one tail fin protruded from the left side of his torso.

His fellow soldiers worried: Could he blow up and take them with him? For all anyone knew, the answer was yes.

Still, over the course of the next couple of hours, his buddies, a helicopter crew and a medical team would risk their own lives to save his.

“Moss is an African-American and he’s gone to white. He’s in total shock from the loss of blood. But at the time, I really didn’t think about it. I knew [the RPG] was there but I thought, if we didn’t do it, if we didn’t get him out of there, he was going to die,” said flight medic Sgt. John Collier, 29, then a specialist.

“It was an extremely unusual set of events. He should have died three times that day,” said Maj. John Oh, 759th Forward Surgical Team general surgeon.

The 36-year-old’s surgical skill and command of his own nerves would be put to the ultimate test as, wearing helmet and body armor, he would operate to extract the ordnance from Moss’s booby-trapped body. One wrong move risked the lives of the patient, his own and those of the other members of the medical team.

He said the payoff was worth the gamble.

“For a soldier to be struck by an RPG and be flown and have surgery and survive… it’s unheard of,” said Oh. “It was a pretty remarkable experience.”

Infantryman to ‘Rocket Man’
Three months after the attack, Moss attended the birth of his second daughter, Ariana.

He expects to be discharged from the Army on medical disability by October. In the meantime, the soft-spoken Georgia native attends formation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., on weekday mornings and meets with his case worker to schedule whatever medical appointments remain, including at least one more abdominal surgery.

He and his wife, Lorena, live near the hospital with their daughters, baby Ariana and her 3-year-old sister, Yulianna.

Moss is missing about two-thirds of his intestines, part of his pelvic bone and needs more repair to his left hip. A member of the staff at Walter Reed calls him “Rocket Man.”

But the infantryman, who joined the Army to help give his family a better life, said he knows he’s alive because of his fellow soldiers.

“I don’t think there has been a day in the last year and a half that I haven’t thought about them, that I haven’t prayed for them. They saved my life,” said Moss, 24, whose slender 135-pound frame belies the hearty young man who went to war 55 pounds heavier.

“I knew it was love of country and brothers in arms. I hope God watches over them if they get deployed.”

Ambush from the ridgeline
The day Moss was struck down, his unit, 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, had been in country barely a month.

The Alpha Company platoon set out from Forward Operating Base Tillman around 8 a.m. for a meeting with tribal leaders in the village of Srah Kandah in Paktika province near the Pakistan border.

It was the platoon’s first patrol in country.

Moss, then a private first class, was manning a Mark 19 machine gun in the turret of his up-armored Humvee, the last in a patrol of five U.S. vehicles and one pickup carrying about nine Afghans.

One Afghan would die in the ambush that wounded Moss, his squad leader and another Afghan soldier who lost a hand.

The ambush came after a quiet hour of patrol in remote terrain.

“All of a sudden, I hear this explosion. Then I hear this ‘ping, ping, ping’ hitting the humvee,” Moss recalled.

Attackers unleashed “a large volume of RPG fire and small-arms fire,” said the platoon leader, Capt. Billy Mariani, who was a first lieutenant then.

“the attack came from a ridgeline to our right,” Mariani, 27, said. The shooters, he estimated, were only about 700 meters from the Pakistan border.

Mariani’s machine gunner laid suppressing fire on the ridgeline while his mortar section shelled the fighters’ positions. A hail of bullets and RPGs ripped toward them from behind hills and crags to the right. All the vehicles took rounds; the Afghan pickup was destroyed.

Moss was turning his machine gun turret to return fire when the first of three RPG rounds to strike his vehicle exploded on the truck commander’s door.

The second and third rounds struck the front of the vehicle; one smashed through the windshield, slicing the truck commander across the face before burrowing into Moss as he sat in the gunner’s sling.

“I turned to the driver and yelled at him to get out of the kill zone,” said Staff Sgt. Eric Wynn, 31, the truck commander. “That’s when we got hit again.”

The RPG might have exploded and killed them all, he said, had it not lodged in Moss’s body.

‘Hold on, hold on’
The projectile bored into Moss’s left hip at a downward angle, tearing through his lower abdomen and pulling with it some of the fabric from his uniform and his black web belt. The tip of the device stopped just short of breaking through the skin on Moss’s upper right thigh.

Wynn, with the tip of his nose sheared off and his torn upper lip hanging loosely, radioed his lieutenant and told him through a bloody gurgle of words that Moss had a tail fin sticking out of his body.

Platoon medic Sgt. Jared Angell, Moss’s best friend, pulled his buddy behind the passenger seat and used every piece of gauze and bandage he had.

“Luckily, his belt was there because it kept the RPG from going all the way through,” said Angell, 24, who was a specialist at the time.

While Spc. Andrew Vernon took Moss’s place on the gunner’s sling and driver Spc. Matthew Savoie maneuvered the vehicle into a safe position, Angell wrapped the gauze around the RPG’s tail to stabilize the protruding device and control Moss’ bleeding.

With gunfire still within earshot and barely five months out of basic training, Moss lay bleeding on the dusty ground far from home, waiting for the crew of the 159th Medical Company that would save his life for the second time that day.

“I didn’t really know what was in me. I could just hear my sergeant saying, ‘Hold on, hold on,’” Moss recalled. “I didn’t think that bird was ever going to come.”

What Angell remembers from that wait on the landing zone was Moss’s pleas for help.

“The screaming, his screams,” Angell said, his voice trailing off.

“I tried to keep him calm and needed to stabilize him so [the RPG round] wouldn’t move any further. He was very combative — you can imagine how uncomfortable he was. I told him, ‘If you fight with me, I’ll fight with you,’” Angell said. “I knew that with the things I did, I was going to buy him enough time to get to surgery.”

Help from above
As the medical team lifted off in its Black Hawk helicopter from Forward Operating Base Salerno for the 10-minute flight to the battle scene, all they knew was that there were urgent casualties and that the area was hot.

“I told my crew to lock and load because we didn’t know what was going on,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jorge Correa, 33, then a chief warrant officer 2.

As the bird neared the evacuation site, the crew saw heavy smoke and a burning truck, and soldiers were “running back and forth.”

One pair of soldiers was getting ready to fire a mortar and stopped when they saw the helicopter, Correa said.

Correa and his co-pilot, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jeremy Smith, 30, a warrant officer 1 at the time, landed the Black Hawk on a roadway a few meters away from a chugging plume of purple smoke that marked the landing zone. On touchdown, Collier jumped out and sped toward the wounded.

“When Collier came back to the aircraft, he told me immediately” about the RPG, said Correa, who delivered the news of Moss’s condition to his crew and asked if they were comfortable with the mission.

“They said, ‘yeah, we gotta get this guy to the hospital.’ At the moment, everyone was focused on the mission,” Correa said. “I know we risked our lives to save Pfc. Moss, but there was no hesitation.”

Wounded and dangerous
Moss was on a litter on the helicopter’s floor; other wounded soldiers were positioned on the floor and in seats. Correa and Smith pushed the helicopter’s speed to its limits.

Correa had previously flown medical evacuation missions in Iraq with the 30th Medical Brigade. For Smith, a former Bradley vehicle mechanic who went warrant, it was his first combat zone mission as a helicopter pilot.

“I didn’t really think about it until a couple of days later,” he said. “It was like, ‘wow, we had live ordnance on the helicopter.’”

Staff Sgt. Christian Roberts, the crew chief and veteran of medical evacuation flights in Iraq, said concerns for personal safety took a back seat to saving Moss.

“At the time, we weren’t thinking, ‘This helicopter could blow up,’” said Roberts, 33. “We were thinking, ‘This young soldier’s going to die and we need to get him some help.’”

“I never saw anybody with live ordnance in them,” he said. “I’ve seen decapitations, amputations, gunshot wounds to the head … I never thought I’d be flying along with a patient who had something in him that could blow up in your face.”

‘Everybody get out!’
Moss was nearly dead as the Black Hawk landed at the battalion aid station at Orgun-E, about 20 miles from the site of the ambush.

Collier signaled wildly over the roar of the helicopter’s engines to alert the aid-station staff that this was no ordinary patient.

Oh recalled that it wasn’t apparent just how delicate the situation was until they began cutting away Moss’s combat uniform and unraveling all the gauze bandages.

When he saw the tail fin of the RPG round, he yelled, “everybody get out!”

“I had never even seen an RPG before, but I figured anything with a rod and fins on it had to be a rocket of some kind.”

Oh asked for volunteers to stay in the operating room and help him save Moss’s life. Several soldiers raised their hands.

Oh and his volunteers strapped on body armor and helmets. They called in a two-man team from the 759th Ordnance Company (Explosive Ordnance Disposal).

Protocol, as far as Oh knew, dictated that someone in Moss’s condition be placed in a sandbagged bunker and listed as “expectant,” which means he would be expected to die because nothing could be done for him.

But Oh believed something could be done for the wounded soldier before him.

He “was still talking to me,” Oh recalled. He choked back tears as he explained: “When he comes in like that, there’s no way you can give up at that point.”

After the EOD team arrived, Oh warned the volunteers one last time that the surgery could cost everyone their lives.

The operating room crew prepped Moss for surgery.

Nerves-of-steel surgery
Still conscious, Moss assumed the worst.

“I didn’t know they had put anesthesia in my IV. I was blacking out and I thought I was dying. I thought they were just going to leave me,” Moss said.

X-rays revealed that while the detonator was still attached to the device, the warhead and fuse, the parts that would have created the largest explosion, were not there.

Still, EOD technician Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Brown and his partner, Spc. Emmanual Christian, warned the medical team that the detonator was sensitive to electric current and could explode, causing its own brand of damage.

“Once I found out we didn’t have the warhead, I wasn’t worried about blowing up the aid station or about people getting fragged. But it would have taken the surgeons’ fingers off and ruined their careers,” said Brown.

As an EOD technician, he had worked in places like Bosnia salvaging cadavers in mass graves, some with live ordnance still in their bodies. But Moss presented “a very rare situation,” he said.

“I was like, ‘Holy s---’ — these are the kinds of stories you hear about from old wars,” he said. “Most human beings we deal with are dead already.”

The team decided the device would have to be removed by pulling it through in the direction it had traveled. Moss would be opened up so the extent of damage to his abdomen — and the path of the projectile — could be assessed.

The damage was extensive. Moss’s intestines had been shredded, his pelvic bone crushed and he had lost a lot of blood. However, no major organs had been disturbed.

The medical team members contemplated the options and decided that first they would have to eliminate the tail fin.

Brown began sawing off the tail fin, which protruded just above Moss’s left hip. Brown said he needed to remain calm and steady, but there were moments when the situation was frightening, when everyone in the room was “wide-eyed, staring at each other.”

Using his scalpel for the most delicate incision of his life, Oh took the next step and cut the skin on Moss’s right thigh where the tip of the device came to rest. Then, as if delivering a ticking baby time bomb, Brown gently and steadily eased the blood-covered metal tube from Moss’s body.

“OK, there’s the belt buckle. It’s coming. Keep feeding it — you feed it and I’ll hold it,” Brown told the surgeons who coaxed the cylinder from Moss’s open abdominal cavity as Brown, crouched down to the level of the gurney, slowly pulled it out toward his own chest.

Moss’s belt clung to the tube as the rocket fully and finally came free.

Brown cradled the ordnance and rushed outside and then into a sandbag bunker.

Inside, breathing sighs of relief, the medical team patched up what remained of Moss’s lower abdomen so he could be airlifted.

Moss had been saved by his fellow soldiers for the third time that day.

After disposing of the RPG round, the intensity of what he had just done left Brown weak.

“I sat down. I lost control of my legs for a minute and I just lost it. Just talking about it right now ...,” Brown said during an interview after returning to the U.S.

Oh, who is currently in Baghdad working with the 28th Combat Support Hospital, said the event changed his life. He credits the bravery, training and skill of his team members for getting them all through the ordeal. But he knows how quickly things could have gone south that day.

“In the end,” Oh said, “it’s better to be lucky than good.”
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 28, 2007, 11:13:43 PM
On 8 August 2006, in Ebrahimkhel, Afghanistan, just north of Kandahar, Air Force Senior Airman Phillip King was leading a convoy to help the Afghan National Police (ANP) and Afghan National Army (ANA) when a rocket-propelled grenade landed within five yards of his Humvee. A full-scale insurgent attack came right on its tail.

Returning fire, King positioned his Humvee to shield the convoy against the incoming barrage. When a second RPG blast gave him a concussion, King persisted, exposing himself to intense enemy fire to direct defensive fire by Afghan soldiers. This allowed an ANA soldier to neutralize the enemy site using a hand grenade.

As King led his team out of danger amid continued sniper fire, he discovered a second ambush site where Taliban forces had entrapped five Afghan soldiers with gunfire. King maneuvered his vehicle, freed the soldiers, then led the ANP and ANA troops to establish a perimeter.

Still taking heavy fire from machine guns, small arms, and RPGs, King’s team called in air support. Just before it arrived, King again exposed himself to intense fire to mark the targets for the bombers, which effectively took out the Taliban position. Airman King’s actions saved the lives of more than a dozen Afghans and helped eliminate 20-25 Taliban militants. His team suffered no casualties.

King, who volunteered for the 365-day Afghanistan deployment, called it “another day on the job.” The U.S. military called it heroism in ground combat. For his actions, Airman King was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat “V” for Valor.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 05, 2007, 06:48:02 AM
SHABAK VALLEY, Afghanistan — In this isolated Taliban stronghold in eastern Afghanistan, American paratroopers are fielding what they consider a crucial new weapon in counterinsurgency operations here: a soft-spoken civilian anthropologist named Tracy.

Tracy, who asked that her surname not be used for security reasons, is a member of the first Human Terrain Team, an experimental Pentagon program that assigns anthropologists and other social scientists to American combat units in Afghanistan and Iraq. Her team’s ability to understand subtle points of tribal relations — in one case spotting a land dispute that allowed the Taliban to bully parts of a major tribe — has won the praise of officers who say they are seeing concrete results.

Col. Martin Schweitzer, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division unit working with the anthropologists here, said that the unit’s combat operations had been reduced by 60 percent since the scientists arrived in February, and that the soldiers were now able to focus more on improving security, health care and education for the population.

“We’re looking at this from a human perspective, from a social scientist’s perspective,” he said. “We’re not focused on the enemy. We’re focused on bringing governance down to the people.”

In September, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates authorized a $40 million expansion of the program, which will assign teams of anthropologists and social scientists to each of the 26 American combat brigades in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since early September, five new teams have been deployed in the Baghdad area, bringing the total to six.

(This being from the NY Times, one is not surprised by the presence of the next few paragraphs)

Yet criticism is emerging in academia. Citing the past misuse of social sciences in counterinsurgency campaigns, including in Vietnam and Latin America, some denounce the program as “mercenary anthropology” that exploits social science for political gain. Opponents fear that, whatever their intention, the scholars who work with the military could inadvertently cause all anthropologists to be viewed as intelligence gatherers for the American military.

Hugh Gusterson, an anthropology professor at George Mason University, and 10 other anthropologists are circulating an online pledge calling for anthropologists to boycott the teams, particularly in Iraq.

“While often presented by its proponents as work that builds a more secure world,” the pledge says, “at base, it contributes instead to a brutal war of occupation which has entailed massive casualties.”

In Afghanistan, the anthropologists arrived along with 6,000 troops, which doubled the American military’s strength in the area it patrols, the country’s east.

A smaller version of the Bush administration’s troop increase in Iraq, the buildup in Afghanistan has allowed American units to carry out the counterinsurgency strategy here, where American forces generally face less resistance and are better able to take risks.

A New Mantra

Since Gen. David H. Petraeus, now the overall American commander in Iraq, oversaw the drafting of the Army’s new counterinsurgency manual last year, the strategy has become the new mantra of the military. A recent American military operation here offered a window into how efforts to apply the new approach are playing out on the ground in counterintuitive ways.

In interviews, American officers lavishly praised the anthropology program, saying that the scientists’ advice has proved to be “brilliant,” helping them see the situation from an Afghan perspective and allowing them to cut back on combat operations.

The aim, they say, is to improve the performance of local government officials, persuade tribesmen to join the police, ease poverty and protect villagers from the Taliban and criminals.

Afghans and Western civilian officials, too, praised the anthropologists and the new American military approach but were cautious about predicting long-term success. Many of the economic and political problems fueling instability can be solved only by large numbers of Afghan and American civilian experts.

“My feeling is that the military are going through an enormous change right now where they recognize they won’t succeed militarily,” said Tom Gregg, the chief United Nations official in southeastern Afghanistan. “But they don’t yet have the skill sets to implement” a coherent nonmilitary strategy, he added.


Deploying small groups of soldiers into remote areas, Colonel Schweitzer’s paratroopers organized jirgas, or local councils, to resolve tribal disputes that have simmered for decades. Officers shrugged off questions about whether the military was comfortable with what David Kilcullen, an Australian anthropologist and an architect of the new strategy, calls “armed social work.”

“Who else is going to do it?“ asked Lt. Col. David Woods, commander of the Fourth Squadron, 73rd Cavalry. “You have to evolve. Otherwise you’re useless.”
The anthropology team here also played a major role in what the military called Operation Khyber. That was a 15-day drive late this summer in which 500 Afghan and 500 American soldiers tried to clear an estimated 200 to 250 Taliban insurgents out of much of Paktia Province, secure southeastern Afghanistan’s most important road and halt a string of suicide attacks on American troops and local governors.

In one of the first districts the team entered, Tracy identified an unusually high concentration of widows in one village, Colonel Woods said. Their lack of income created financial pressure on their sons to provide for their families, she determined, a burden that could drive the young men to join well-paid insurgents. Citing Tracy’s advice, American officers developed a job training program for the widows.

In another district, the anthropologist interpreted the beheading of a local tribal elder as more than a random act of intimidation: the Taliban’s goal, she said, was to divide and weaken the Zadran, one of southeastern Afghanistan’s most powerful tribes. If Afghan and American officials could unite the Zadran, she said, the tribe could block the Taliban from operating in the area.

“Call it what you want, it works,” said Colonel Woods, a native of Denbo, Pa. “It works in helping you define the problems, not just the symptoms.”

Embedding Scholars

The process that led to the creation of the teams began in late 2003, when American officers in Iraq complained that they had little to no information about the local population. Pentagon officials contacted Montgomery McFate, a Yale-educated cultural anthropologist working for the Navy who advocated using social science to improve military operations and strategy.

Ms. McFate helped develop a database in 2005 that provided officers with detailed information on the local population. The next year, Steve Fondacaro, a retired Special Operations colonel, joined the program and advocated embedding social scientists with American combat units.

Ms. McFate, the program’s senior social science adviser and an author of the new counterinsurgency manual, dismissed criticism of scholars working with the military. “I’m frequently accused of militarizing anthropology,” she said. “But we’re really anthropologizing the military.”

Roberto J. González, an anthropology professor at San Jose State University, called participants in the program naïve and unethical. He said that the military and the Central Intelligence Agency had consistently misused anthropology in counterinsurgency and propaganda campaigns and that military contractors were now hiring anthropologists for their local expertise as well.

“Those serving the short-term interests of military and intelligence agencies and contractors,” he wrote in the June issue of Anthropology Today, an academic journal, “will end up harming the entire discipline in the long run.”

Arguing that her critics misunderstand the program and the military, Ms. McFate said other anthropologists were joining the teams. She said their goal was to help the military decrease conflict instead of provoking it, and she vehemently denied that the anthropologists collected intelligence for the military.

In eastern Afghanistan, Tracy said wanted to reduce the use of heavy-handed military operations focused solely on killing insurgents, which she said alienated the population and created more insurgents. “I can go back and enhance the military’s understanding,” she said, “so that we don’t make the same mistakes we did in Iraq.”

Along with offering advice to commanders, she said, the five-member team creates a database of local leaders and tribes, as well as social problems, economic issues and political disputes.

Clinics and Mediation

During the recent operation, as soldiers watched for suicide bombers, Tracy and Army medics held a free medical clinic. They said they hoped that providing medical care would show villagers that the Afghan government was improving their lives.

Civil affairs soldiers then tried to mediate between factions of the Zadran tribe about where to build a school. The Americans said they hoped that the school, which would serve children from both groups, might end a 70-year dispute between the groups over control of a mountain covered with lucrative timber.

Though they praised the new program, Afghan and Western officials said it remained to be seen whether the weak Afghan government could maintain the gains. “That’s going to be the challenge, to fill the vacuum,” said Mr. Gregg, the United Nations official. “There’s a question mark over whether the government has the ability to take advantage of the gains.”

Others also question whether the overstretched American military and its NATO allies can keep up the pace of operations.

American officers expressed optimism. Many of those who had served in both Afghanistan and Iraq said they had more hope for Afghanistan. One officer said that the Iraqis had the tools to stabilize their country, like a potentially strong economy, but that they lacked the will. He said Afghans had the will, but lacked the tools.

After six years of American promises, Afghans, too, appear to be waiting to see whether the Americans or the Taliban will win a protracted test of wills here. They said this summer was just one chapter in a potentially lengthy struggle.

At a “super jirga” set up by Afghan and American commanders here, a member of the Afghan Parliament, Nader Khan Katawazai, laid out the challenge ahead to dozens of tribal elders.

“Operation Khyber was just for a few days,” he said. “The Taliban will emerge again.”

NY Times
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 06, 2007, 04:28:32 PM
Nice to see the dog get away too , , ,
Title: Mark Daily, RIP, Part I
Post by: buzwardo on October 11, 2007, 07:09:47 PM
A Death in the Family

Having volunteered for Iraq, Mark Daily was killed in January by an I.E.D. Dismayed to learn that his pro-war articles helped persuade Daily to enlist, the author measures his words against a family's grief and a young man's sacrifice.

by Christopher Hitchens November 2007

I was having an oppressively normal morning a few months ago, flicking through the banality of quotidian e-mail traffic, when I idly clicked on a message from a friend headed "Seen This?" The attached item turned out to be a very well-written story by Teresa Watanabe of the Los Angeles Times. It described the death, in Mosul, Iraq, of a young soldier from Irvine, California, named Mark Jennings Daily, and the unusual degree of emotion that his community was undergoing as a consequence. The emotion derived from a very moving statement that the boy had left behind, stating his reasons for having become a volunteer and bravely facing the prospect that his words might have to be read posthumously. In a way, the story was almost too perfect: this handsome lad had been born on the Fourth of July, was a registered Democrat and self-described agnostic, a U.C.L.A. honors graduate, and during his college days had fairly decided reservations about the war in Iraq. I read on, and actually printed the story out, and was turning a page when I saw the following:

"Somewhere along the way, he changed his mind. His family says there was no epiphany. Writings by author and columnist Christopher Hitchens on the moral case for war deeply influenced him … "

I don't exaggerate by much when I say that I froze. I certainly felt a very deep pang of cold dismay. I had just returned from a visit to Iraq with my own son (who is 23, as was young Mr. Daily) and had found myself in a deeply pessimistic frame of mind about the war. Was it possible that I had helped persuade someone I had never met to place himself in the path of an I.E.D.? Over-dramatizing myself a bit in the angst of the moment, I found I was thinking of William Butler Yeats, who was chilled to discover that the Irish rebels of 1916 had gone to their deaths quoting his play Cathleen ni Houlihan. He tried to cope with the disturbing idea in his poem "Man and the Echo":

Did that play of mine send out
Certain men the English shot? …
Could my spoken words have checked
That whereby a house lay wrecked?

Abruptly dismissing any comparison between myself and one of the greatest poets of the 20th century, I feverishly clicked on all the links from the article and found myself on Lieutenant Daily's MySpace site, where his statement "Why I Joined" was posted. The site also immediately kicked into a skirling noise of Irish revolutionary pugnacity: a song from the Dropkick Murphys album Warrior's Code. And there, at the top of the page, was a link to a passage from one of my articles, in which I poured scorn on those who were neutral about the battle for Iraq … I don't remember ever feeling, in every allowable sense of the word, quite so hollow.

I writhed around in my chair for a bit and decided that I ought to call Ms. Watanabe, who could not have been nicer. She anticipated the question I was too tongue-tied to ask: Would the Daily family—those whose "house lay wrecked"—be contactable? "They'd actually like to hear from you." She kindly gave me the e-mail address and the home number.
I don't intend to make a parade of my own feelings here, but I expect you will believe me when I tell you that I e-mailed first. For one thing, I didn't want to choose a bad time to ring. For another, and as I wrote to his parents, I was quite prepared for them to resent me. So let me introduce you to one of the most generous and decent families in the United States, and allow me to tell you something of their experience.

In the midst of their own grief, to begin with, they took the trouble to try to make me feel better. I wasn't to worry about any "guilt or responsibility": their son had signed up with his eyes wide open and had "assured us that if he knew the possible outcome might be this, he would still go rather than have the option of living to age 50 and never having served his country. Trust us when we tell you that he was quite convincing and persuasive on this point, so that by the end of the conversation we were practically packing his bags and waving him off." This made me relax fractionally, but then they went on to write: "Prior to his deployment he told us he was going to try to contact you from Iraq. He had the idea of being a correspondent from the front-lines through you, and wanted to get your opinion about his journalistic potential. He told us that he had tried to contact you from either Kuwait or Iraq. He thought maybe his e-mail had not reached you … " That was a gash in my hide all right: I think of all the junk e-mail I read every day, and then reflect that his precious one never got to me.

Lieutenant Daily crossed from Kuwait to Iraq in November 2006, where he would be deployed with the "C," or "Comanche," Company of the Second Battalion of the Seventh Cavalry Regiment—General Custer's old outfit—in Mosul. On the 15th of January last, he was on patrol and noticed that the Humvee in front of him was not properly "up-armored" against I.E.D.'s. He insisted on changing places and taking a lead position in his own Humvee, and was shortly afterward hit by an enormous buried mine that packed a charge of some 1,500 pounds of high explosive. Yes, that's right. He, and the three other American soldiers and Iraqi interpreter who perished with him, went to war with the army we had. It's some consolation to John and Linda Daily, and to Mark's brother and two sisters, and to his widow (who had been married to him for just 18 months) to know that he couldn't have felt anything.

Yet what, and how, should we feel? People are not on their oath when speaking of the dead, but I have now talked to a good number of those who knew Mark Daily or were related to him, and it's clear that the country lost an exceptional young citizen, whom I shall always wish I had had the chance to meet. He seems to have passed every test of young manhood, and to have been admired and loved and respected by old and young, male and female, family and friends. He could have had any career path he liked (and won a George C. Marshall Award that led to an offer to teach at West Point). Why are we robbed of his contribution? As we got to know one another better, I sent the Daily family a moving statement made by the mother of Michael Kelly, my good friend and the editor-at-large of The Atlantic Monthly, who was killed near the Baghdad airport while embedded during the invasion of 2003. Marguerite Kelly was highly stoic about her son's death, but I now think I committed an error of taste in showing this to the Dailys, who very gently responded that Michael had lived long enough to write books, have a career, become a father, and in general make his mark, while their son didn't live long enough to enjoy any of these opportunities. If you have tears, prepare to shed them now …

In his brilliant book What Is History?, Professor E. H. Carr asked about ultimate causation. Take the case of a man who drinks a bit too much, gets behind the wheel of a car with defective brakes, drives it round a blind corner, and hits another man, who is crossing the road to buy cigarettes. Who is the one responsible? The man who had one drink too many, the lax inspector of brakes, the local authorities who didn't straighten out a dangerous bend, or the smoker who chose to dash across the road to satisfy his bad habit? So, was Mark Daily killed by the Ba'thist and bin Ladenist riffraff who place bombs where they will do the most harm? Or by the Rumsfeld doctrine, which sent American soldiers to Iraq in insufficient numbers and with inadequate equipment? Or by the Bush administration, which thought Iraq would be easily pacified? Or by the previous Bush administration, which left Saddam Hussein in power in 1991 and fatally postponed the time of reckoning?

These grand, overarching questions cannot obscure, at least for me, the plain fact that Mark Daily felt himself to be morally committed. I discovered this in his life story and in his surviving writings. Again, not to romanticize him overmuch, but this is the boy who would not let others be bullied in school, who stuck up for his younger siblings, who was briefly a vegetarian and Green Party member because he couldn't stand cruelty to animals or to the environment, a student who loudly defended Native American rights and who challenged a MySpace neo-Nazi in an online debate in which the swastika-displaying antagonist finally admitted that he needed to rethink things. If I give the impression of a slight nerd here I do an injustice. Everything that Mark wrote was imbued with a great spirit of humor and tough-mindedness. Here's an excerpt from his "Why I Joined" statement:
Anyone who knew me before I joined knows that I am quite aware and at times sympathetic to the arguments against the war in Iraq. If you think the only way a person could bring themselves to volunteer for this war is through sheer desperation or blind obedience then consider me the exception (though there are countless like me).… Consider that there are 19 year old soldiers from the Midwest who have never touched a college campus or a protest who have done more to uphold the universal legitimacy of representative government and individual rights by placing themselves between Iraqi voting lines and homicidal religious fanatics.

And here's something from one of his last letters home:

I was having a conversation with a Kurdish man in the city of Dahok (by myself and completely safe) discussing whether or not the insurgents could be viewed as "freedom fighters" or "misguided anti-capitalists." Shaking his head as I attempted to articulate what can only be described as pathetic apologetics, he cut me off and said "the difference between insurgents and American soldiers is that they get paid to take life—to murder, and you get paid to save lives." He looked at me in such a way that made me feel like he was looking through me, into all the moral insecurity that living in a free nation will instill in you. He "oversimplified" the issue, or at least that is what college professors would accuse him of doing.

Title: Mark Daily, RIP, Part II
Post by: buzwardo on October 11, 2007, 07:10:24 PM
In his other e-mails and letters home, which the Daily family very kindly showed me, he asked for extra "care packages" to share with local Iraqis, and said, "I'm not sure if Irvine has a sister-city, but I am going to personally contact the mayor and ask him to extend his hand to Dahok, which has been more than hospitable to this native-son." (I was wrenched yet again to discover that he had got this touching idea from an old article of mine, which had made a proposal for city-twinning that went nowhere.) In the last analysis, it was quite clear, Mark had made up his mind that the United States was a force for good in the world, and that it had a duty to the freedom of others. A video clip of which he was very proud has him being "crowned" by a circle of smiling Iraqi officers. I have a photograph of him, standing bareheaded and contentedly smoking a cigar, on a rooftop in Mosul. He doesn't look like an occupier at all. He looks like a staunch friend and defender. On the photograph is written "We carry a new world in our hearts."

In his last handwritten letter home, posted on the last day of 2006, Mark modestly told his father that he'd been chosen to lead a combat platoon after a grenade attack had killed one of its soldiers and left its leader too shaken to carry on. He had apparently sounded steady enough on the radio on earlier missions for him to be given a leadership position after only a short time "in country." As he put it: "I am now happily doing what I was trained to do, and am fulfilling an obligation that has swelled inside me for years. I am deep in my element … and I am euphoric." He had no doubts at all about the value of his mission, and was the sort of natural soldier who makes the difference in any war.
At the first chance I got, I invited his family for lunch in California. We ended up spending the entire day together. As soon as they arrived, I knew I had been wrong to be so nervous. They looked too good to be true: like a poster for the American way. John Daily is an aerospace project manager, and his wife, Linda, is an audiologist. Their older daughter, Christine, eagerly awaiting her wedding, is a high-school biology teacher, and the younger sister, Nicole, is in high school. Their son Eric is a bright junior at Berkeley with a very winning and ironic grin. And there was Mark's widow, an agonizingly beautiful girl named Snejana ("Janet") Hristova, the daughter of political refugees from Bulgaria. Her first name can mean "snowflake," and this was his name for her in the letters of fierce tenderness that he sent her from Iraq. These, with your permission, I will not share, except this:

One thing I have learned about myself since I've been out here is that everything I professed to you about what I want for the world and what I am willing to do to achieve it was true. …
My desire to "save the world" is really just an extension of trying to make a world fit for you.
If that is all she has left, I hope you will agree that it isn't nothing.

I had already guessed that this was no gung-ho Orange County Republican clan. It was pretty clear that they could have done without the war, and would have been happier if their son had not gone anywhere near Iraq. (Mr. Daily told me that as a young man he had wondered about going to Canada if the Vietnam draft ever caught up with him.) But they had been amazed by the warmth of their neighbors' response, and by the solidarity of his former brothers-in-arms—1,600 people had turned out for Mark's memorial service in Irvine. A sergeant's wife had written a letter to Linda and posted it on Janet's MySpace site on Mother's Day, to tell her that her husband had been in the vehicle with which Mark had insisted on changing places. She had seven children who would have lost their father if it had gone the other way, and she felt both awfully guilty and humbly grateful that her husband had been spared by Mark's heroism. Imagine yourself in that position, if you can, and you will perhaps get a hint of the world in which the Dailys now live: a world that alternates very sharply and steeply between grief and pride.

On a drive to Fort Knox, Kentucky, and again shortly before shipping out from Fort Bliss, Texas, Mark had told his father that he had three wishes in the event of his death. He wanted bagpipes played at the service, and an Irish wake to follow it. And he wanted to be cremated, with the ashes strewn on the beach at Neskowin, Oregon, the setting for his happiest memories of boyhood vacations. The first two of these conditions had already been fulfilled. The Dailys rather overwhelmed me by asking if I would join them for the third one. So it was that in August I found myself on the dunes by an especially lovely and remote stretch of the Oregon coastline. The extended family was there, including both sets of grandparents, plus some college friends of Mark's and his best comrade from the army, an impressive South Dakotan named Matt Gross. As the sun began to sink on a day that had been devoted to reminiscence and moderate drinking, we took up the tattered Stars and Stripes that had flown outside the family home since Mark's deployment and walked to his favorite spot to plant it. Everyone was supposed to say something, but when John Daily took the first scoop from the urn and spread the ashes on the breeze, there was something so unutterably final in the gesture that tears seemed as natural as breathing and I wasn't at all sure that I could go through with it. My idea had been to quote from the last scene of Macbeth, which is the only passage I know that can hope to rise to such an occasion. The tyrant and usurper has been killed, but Ross has to tell old Siward that his boy has perished in the struggle:

Your son, my lord, has paid a soldier's debt;
He only lived but till he was a man;
The which no sooner had his prowess confirm'd
In the unshrinking station where he fought,
But like a man he died.
This being Shakespeare, the truly emotional and understated moment follows a beat or two later, when Ross adds:
Your cause of sorrow
Must not be measured by his worth, for then
It hath no end.

I became a trifle choked up after that, but everybody else also managed to speak, often reading poems of their own composition, and as the day ebbed in a blaze of glory over the ocean, I thought, Well, here we are to perform the last honors for a warrior and hero, and there are no hysterical ululations, no shrieks for revenge, no insults hurled at the enemy, no firing into the air or bogus hysterics. Instead, an honest, brave, modest family is doing its private best. I hope no fanatical fool could ever mistake this for weakness. It is, instead, a very particular kind of strength. If America can spontaneously produce young men like Mark, and occasions like this one, it has a real homeland security instead of a bureaucratic one. To borrow some words of George Orwell's when he first saw revolutionary Barcelona, "I recognized it immediately as a state of affairs worth fighting for."
I mention Orwell for a reason, because Mark Daily wasn't yet finished with sending me messages from beyond the grave. He took a pile of books with him to Iraq, which included Thomas Paine's The Crisis; War and Peace; Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged (well, nobody's perfect); Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time; John McCain's Why Courage Matters; and George Orwell's Animal Farm and 1984. And a family friend of the Dailys', noticing my own book on Orwell on their shelf, had told them that his own father, Harry David Milton, was "the American" mentioned in Homage to Catalonia, who had rushed to Orwell's side after he had been shot in the throat by a Fascist sniper. This seemed to verge on the eerie. Orwell thought that the Spanish Civil War was a just war, but he also came to understand that it was a dirty war, where a decent cause was hijacked by goons and thugs, and where betrayal and squalor negated the courage and sacrifice of those who fought on principle. As one who used to advocate strongly for the liberation of Iraq (perhaps more strongly than I knew), I have grown coarsened and sickened by the degeneration of the struggle: by the sordid news of corruption and brutality (Mark Daily told his father how dismayed he was by the failure of leadership at Abu Ghraib) and by the paltry politicians in Washington and Baghdad who squabble for precedence while lifeblood is spent and spilled by young people whose boots they are not fit to clean. It upsets and angers me more than I can safely say, when I reread Mark's letters and poems and see that—as of course he would—he was magically able to find the noble element in all this, and take more comfort and inspiration from a few plain sentences uttered by a Kurdish man than from all the vapid speeches ever given. Orwell had the same experience when encountering a young volunteer in Barcelona, and realizing with a mixture of sadness and shock that for this kid all the tired old slogans about liberty and justice were actually real. He cursed his own cynicism and disillusionment when he wrote:

For the fly-blown words that make me spew
Still in his ears were holy,
And he was born knowing what I had learned
Out of books and slowly.

However, after a few more verses about the lying and cruelty and stupidity that accompany war, he was still able to do justice to the young man:

But the thing I saw in your face
No power can disinherit:
No bomb that ever burst
Shatters the crystal spirit.

May it be so, then, and may death be not proud to have taken Mark Daily, whom I never knew but whom you now know, and—I hope—miss.
Christopher Hitchens is a Vanity Fair contributing editor.
Title: SEAL receives CMH
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 17, 2007, 05:02:31 PM
First Navy MoH since Vietnam to go to SEAL

By Gidget Fuentes - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Oct 15, 2007 18:03:21 EDT
SAN DIEGO — Two years after his death in a harrowing firefight on a mountaintop in Afghanistan, Lt. Michael P. Murphy, a SEAL from Patchogue, N.Y., will receive the nation’s highest combat honor, Navy officials said.

A Navy spokeswoman confirmed Oct. 11 the decision by President Bush approving the posthumous award of the Medal of Honor, the first for the Navy for the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Murphy, 29, was leading a four-man reconnaissance and surveillance team during Operation Red Wing in Afghanistan’s rugged Hindu Kush mountains June 28, 2005, when the team was spotted by Taliban fighters. During the intense battle that followed, Murphy and two of his men — Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny Dietz and Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew Axelson — were killed. A fourth man, then-Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (SEAL) Marcus Luttrell, was seriously wounded and knocked unconscious, but managed to escape. Luttrell was rescued days later.

Murphy was killed while phoning in for reinforcements. The tragedy continued when enemy fighters shot down one of the transport helicopters carrying the rescue force, killing eight more SEALs and eight Special Forces operators. The 11 SEALs killed marked the largest single-day loss of life for the tight-knit community.

Bush will present the Medal of Honor to Murphy’s parents, Daniel and Maureen, and his brother, John, on Oct. 22 at a 2:30 p.m. ceremony in the White House.

“We’re thrilled with the president’s announcement, and more importantly that there’s now a public recognition of what Mike’s family and friends have known about him from the very beginning,” Daniel Murphy said Oct. 11 by telephone from New York.

In addition to the Oval Office ceremony, the fallen SEAL will be honored at two other Washington events: the inclusion of his name on a wall at the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes at 11 a.m. Oct. 23, and the presentation of the Medal of Honor flag at the Navy Memorial at 6 p.m. Oct. 23. Additional ceremonies are planned next month at Calverton National Cemetery in eastern Long Island, where Murphy is buried, and on his birthday next year at the Patchogue post office that bears his name, his family said.

When he deployed overseas, Murphy carried a patch from New York Fire Department’s Engine Company 53 and Ladder Company 43, in Manhattan’s El Barrio neighborhood, “as a symbol of why he was there and what he was doing,” Daniel Murphy said.

“Michael felt that he was doing something important ... to root out, capture and kill those who were responsible for 9/11,” he added. “Michael understood the importance of his work.”

In mourning their son, the Murphy family has also celebrated his life. “What a man he grew up to be,” said Maureen Murphy, who called him “an American hero.”

To the Murphy family, the announcement of the Medal of Honor isn’t just a personal recognition. “It’s more than just about Michael,” his father said. “It’s about Michael and his team. Michael, first and foremost, was a team player.”

“Eleven SEALs who fought, died and sacrificed for one another,” he added. “There’s no higher calling.”

Life and death on Murphy’s ridge
The team was taking heavy fire in the close-quarters battle as Taliban fighters continued to close in, firing weapons and rocket-propelled grenades. At one point, Murphy took his mobile phone and “walked to open ground. He walked until he was more or less in the center, gunfire all around him, and he sat on a small rock and began punching in the numbers to HQ,” according to Luttrell, the surviving SEAL, who wrote a book called “Lone Survivor.”

“I could hear him talking,” Luttrell wrote. “My men are taking heavy fire ... we’re getting picked apart. My guys are dying out here ... we need help.

“And right then Mikey took a bullet straight in the back. I saw the blood spurt from his chest. He slumped forward, dropping his phone and his rifle. But then he braced himself, grabbed them both, sat upright again, and once more put the phone to his ear.”

Then, Luttrell heard Murphy say, “Roger that, sir. Thank you.” The lieutenant continued to train fire on the enemy fighters.

“Only I knew what Mikey had done. He’d understood we had only one realistic chance, and that was to call in help,” Luttrell wrote. “Knowing the risk, understanding the danger, in the full knowledge the phone call could cost him his life, Lieutenant Michael Patrick Murphy, son of Maureen, fiancé of the beautiful Heather, walked out into the firestorm.

“His objective was clear: to make one last valiant attempt to save his two teammates.”

Not long after the call, Murphy was shot again, screaming for Luttrell to help him, but Luttrell, also hit and wounded, couldn’t reach him. “There was nothing I could do except die with him,” he wrote.

Murphy’s actions didn’t surprise those who knew him.

That, despite his wounds, he made that call “and at the end of the call to say, ‘Thank you,’ and hang up, and continue the fight ... really exemplifies the type of person that he was,” said Sean, a lieutenant commander who was the naval special warfare task unit leader with SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1, a Pearl Harbor, Hawaii-based unit. Naval Special Warfare Command asked to withhold his full name.

“Murph,” as others called him, was “a warrior and [was devoted] to his men,” Sean said. The Medal of Honor “draws attention to the true heroism and selfless sacrifice of all the guys that day,” he added. “It’s a testament to all 19 who gave their lives that day.”

A well-kept secret
In the two years since, the events on that Afghan mountain have stirred much speculation on how the team members would be recognized. “They knew what they were dying for, they believed in what they were doing and they gave their last full measure,” then-Rear Adm. Joe Maguire said during a June 28, 2006, ceremony dedicating a memorial tree and plaque outside Naval Special Warfare Command headquarters in Coronado, Calif.

The other three SEALs in Murphy’s team have received the Navy Cross.

On Aug. 27, the Murphy family received a call from the White House chief of military affairs telling them that President Bush approved the award. “They asked us if we could please keep the information confidential” until the Navy’s announcement, Daniel Murphy said.

Talk about pressure. “Obviously, you want to get on top of a building and scream out,” he said.

But the Murphys agreed, and they kept it secret.

“You wanted to tell everybody, but you really couldn’t,” said Maureen Murphy.

“I was thrilled, and I was like, oh my God. It’s like a rollercoaster ride,” she said. “You are so happy that the nation recognizes what you already know about your son — handsome and the brave actions and everything — then there’s the other part. ... I wish he could walk up there and receive that. It’s bittersweet.”

Family and colleagues describe Murphy as a likeable leader, witty, sincere, caring, honest humble, selfless. He didn’t live for the spotlight, they say, and he’d probably prefer to deflect the attention over his combat actions.

“He was a great little boy. He was a very wonderful teenager. He always rolled up his sleeves to help people,” his mother said. “In every picture we have,” she noted, “he was always in the background.”

SEALs honor their own
This will mark the first time a Navy person has received the Medal of Honor in 35 years, and the fourth time a SEAL has received the award. It also marks the third awarding of the Medal of Honor for combat heroism in Iraq or Afghanistan — the other two were awarded posthumously to Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith and Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham.

Top Navy SEALs paid tribute to the president’s decision.

“I am grateful Lt. Murphy will receive the Medal of Honor in recognition and tribute for his heroism and sacrifices,” Adm. Eric Olson, who commands U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla., said in a statement. “His selfless actions exemplify the characteristics and values of special operations forces.”

Murphy “was a valued teammate, professional warrior and fearless leader. We are humbled by his courageous and selfless actions, and this award is a testament to the man he was,” said Rear Adm. Joe Kernan, head of Naval Special Warfare Command, in a statement. “Mike believed deeply in his country, and he honorably lived the ethos that he shared with his fellow SEALs.

“The Medal of Honor will ensure that his sacrifice — for freedom, for his teammates and for his fellow Americans — will never be forgotten,” Kernan added. “He will inspire our Naval Special Warfare community for years to come.”

Sean, the task unit leader, recalled that Murphy “is one of those few leaders who was truly able to command the respect of his men, while at the same time knowing them at a personal level. They trusted him, and they felt confident in his abilities.

“It just exemplified the type of people that we have in the community. The events of that day were extraordinary,” he said.

Murphy’s actions that day — “exposing himself the way he did, way into a lengthy gunfight and already severely wounded” — didn’t surprise the officer.

Murphy, he added, “would just say he was doing his job.”
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 23, 2007, 09:17:12 AM
A Medal of Honor
October 23, 2007; Page A18
Yesterday President Bush presented the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military honor for valor in combat, to the family of Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, a Navy SEAL who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005. It is the third Medal of Honor bestowed in the war on terror, and all have been awarded posthumously.

Lt. Murphy, of Patchogue on Long Island in New York, was the 29-year-old officer-in-charge of a four-man SEAL reconnaissance team tasked with capturing or killing a high-ranking Taliban leader in the Hindu Kush mountains, east of Asadabad behind enemy lines. A group of goat herders betrayed their position to the Taliban, and the team came under a heavy coordinated assault by dozens of insurgents, perhaps as many as 100.

The SEALs were at a tactical disadvantage and became pinned down in a ravine. Lt. Murphy, already wounded, moved out from behind cover, seeking open air for a radio signal to place a rescue call. He was shot several more times in the back. He dropped the transmitter, picked it back up and completed the call, and then rejoined the fight.

The battle, the last stage of Operation Redwing, was the worst single day of casualties for Naval Special Warfare since World War II. Only one man from the SEAL team would survive. A Chinook helicopter, carrying 16 soldiers for the rescue mission, was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military is almost spoiled for choice when it comes to such instances of heroism and sacrifice. It is regrettable that these volunteers are too often rewarded with indifference by the U.S. political culture, where "supporting the troops" becomes nothing more than a slogan when there is a score to settle. The representative men in this war are soldiers like Lt. Murphy.

Title: Lone Survivor
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 26, 2007, 10:43:21 PM
Lone Survivor
On Monday Lt. Michael Murphy was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Meet the man who told his story.

Saturday, October 27, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

ARLINGTON, Va.--At the White House on Monday, the parents of Navy Lt. Michael Murphy received the Medal of Honor posthumously awarded to their son. One of his former SEAL teammates, Marcus Luttrell, was on hand in the East Room but not entirely there. As a military aide read the citation extolling Lt. Murphy for his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life" during a ferocious firefight in Afghanistan in 2005, Mr. Luttrell's mind was firmly back in the mountains of the Hindu Kush on the day that Lt. Murphy died.

"Somebody had to tap me on the shoulder to bring me back. I kind of zoned out," Mr. Luttrell recalled in an interview two days after the ceremony. As he spoke, his thoughts seemed to drift back to the battle again. "I remember how loud it was. And I remember our lungs being on fire"--but here he paused, then added: "I was thinking that nobody can have any idea what the hell happened up on that mountain that day."

The bare outlines are harrowing enough. A four-man contingent of Navy SEALs were inserted by helicopter at night on June 28, 2005, in the desolate mountain region near the border with Pakistan. The men were: Mr. Luttrell, a hospital corpsman second class at the time; Gunner's Mate Second Class Danny Dietz; Sonar Technician Second Class Matthew Axelson; and Lt. Michael Murphy, the officer in charge and one of Mr. Luttrell's closest friends. They were on a reconnaissance mission, trying to locate a guerrilla commander who was aligned with the Taliban.
The SEALs scrambled across the unforgiving terrain toward their target, but after daylight broke the mission started to go awry. Three goat herders--and their goats--happened upon the SEALs. The Americans recognized that they had a potentially lethal problem: The herders glowering at them were likely Taliban sympathizers who would report the Americans' presence.

With deep misgivings, the SEALs resolved to let the herders go--a decision they quickly regretted. Radio communications problems prevented the SEALs from calling headquarters for assistance; moving across the mountainsides with little cover in daylight would almost certainly attract enemy attention. All they could do was hunker down. And then the shooting started. Dozens of Taliban fighters had taken up a position above the SEALs and were pouring lead down on them.

Over the next two hours, a terrible dance unfolded. Swarming Taliban fighters would try to slide down the mountain slopes on either side of the SEALs, who furiously picked them off until the Americans were nearly overwhelmed by force of numbers; then the SEALs would fling themselves blindly down the mountain, hoping to alight still alive, with a little cover, so they could take up the fight again.

After a series of these desperate plunges, the SEALs were in a grim state: shot up, hit by the shrapnel of rocket-propelled grenades, running out of ammunition. Danny Dietz died first--he had been badly wounded, but then was shot fatally as Mr. Luttrell tried to help him to safety.

As Mr. Luttrell recounts in "Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10," his book about the episode, the remaining three SEALs' final plunge down the mountain landed them in a ravine. Matthew Axelson was grievously wounded and would die that day. Lt. Murphy, bleeding from a stomach wound, "groped in his pocket for his mobile phone, the one we had dared not use because it would betray our position," Mr. Luttrell writes. "And then Lieutenant Murphy walked out into the open ground. He walked until he was more or less in the center, gunfire all around him, and he sat on a small rock and began punching in the numbers to HQ."

Any act of heroic battlefield self-sacrifice is almost incomprehensible to those whom soldiers fight to protect, but the fact that Lt. Murphy was performing such a familiar task--moving out into an open space seeking a cell-phone signal--under such murderous circumstances lends his actions an almost unbearable poignancy. While he was on the phone, calling for help, Lt. Murphy was shot in the back, the bullet exiting through his chest, yet he continued to talk--even, astonishingly, finishing the conversation: "Roger that, sir. Thank you."

But it was too late. SEALs Murphy and Axelson were killed, and then the day's disaster was compounded when an MH-47 Chinook helicopter carrying a quick-response force was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade during a rescue effort, killing 16.

It was the worst single day of American fatalities of the war in Afghanistan, and the worst loss of life in SEAL history. But Mr. Luttrell miraculously survived the fight in the mountains. Just as the SEALs were making their last stand, with Taliban fighters closing in, he was blown from the ravine to relative safety by a grenade explosion.

With three broken vertebrae, badly wounded and barely able to walk, he eluded the enemy for the better part of four days, three of them under the care of villagers who took him in and were then obliged by custom to protect their guest against all threats--even against the Taliban fighters who discovered Mr. Luttrell's whereabouts. The Taliban menaced the village, but, loath to create enemies in a region where they rely on local assistance, never attacked. Mr. Luttrell was rescued by U.S. forces on July 2.

War veterans returning to civilian life commonly find themselves in jobs that are, in light of their recent battlefield experience, decidedly incongruous. For Mr. Luttrell, coming home after his discharge in June has meant an incongruity of a kind he would never have imagined. The former SEAL--a man with special-operations training in marksmanship and underwater demolition, a recipient of the Navy Cross for combat heroism, a warrior who fought in both Iraq and Afghanistan--has been working for the past five months as a publicist. It is strictly a volunteer position and reluctantly undertaken, to be sure, and Mr. Luttrell has only one client: the memory of that terrible day in Afghanistan. He wants the world to know about the sacrifices of Lt. Murphy, of his two other dead SEAL teammates, and of the eight SEALs and eight Army Night Stalkers killed in the failed helicopter rescue. It is a timely effort, coming during a period in this country when the heroism of American soldiers is not reliably noted, much less honored, in every corner.
"It's not about me, it's about my guys," he says of his publicity labors since leaving the service. "It's like the job I was doing before I got out. There were probably plenty of missions that I didn't want to go on because I was tired or whatever, but I still did it. Because it's not about me."

Mr. Luttrell was born in Houston in 1975 but grew up in rural Texas on the horse farms his family owned, much of the time in the piney-woods country in the eastern part of the state. He would clearly rather do just about anything than talk to the media. At 6 feet 5 inches tall and well over 200 pounds, with long, cowboyish sideburns, he is Texas taciturn to begin with, and the secrecy of SEAL missions tends to make frogmen--as the naval Sea, Air, Land team-members call themselves--a less-than-loquacious bunch.

In the months following the mountain fight, queries from family and friends about the gun battle and debriefings following inaccurate news reports on the incident became such a distraction, Mr. Luttrell says, that it was difficult to concentrate on his SEAL duties.

"Normally I wouldn't talk about any of our operations. This one wouldn't leave me alone," he says. "It kept banging on my door and I had to do something about it." The solution, he thought, would be to set the facts down in print so that they would be on the public record. Then maybe he could move on.

With clearance from his superiors, Mr. Luttrell began looking into writing a book and was eventually put in touch with British writer Patrick Robinson, whose military thrillers often involve the U.S. Navy. Their collaboration, "Lone Survivor," was published in June; it quickly became a nonfiction best seller.

"All I wanted to do was stop talking" about what happened in Afghanistan, Mr. Luttrell says, "and now I'm neck-deep in it." Another frustration is the inadequacy of words to convey the experience. "I can sit here and tell you that I got into a gunfight," Mr. Luttrell says, "but you can't put it into words. Your heartbeat doesn't raise, the hair on the back of your neck doesn't stand up when I tell you that. When you're out there--the stuff we get into--people get sick. You get so scared, you urinate on yourself. That's fear."

Hollywood, he says, has no idea what war is like. That's why he's wary of negotiations currently under way to film "Lone Survivor." If it happens, he says with the trace of a grimace, he'll probably "go out there and help," otherwise it might turn into "a love story" or a special-effects extravaganza with "people spinning from wires, which it wasn't. It was about death and people dying."

It should be noted that Mr. Luttrell is giving away his income from "Lone Survivor," reportedly putting it in a trust to aid military charities and the families of the dead soldiers, although now he says simply: "I'm in control of it so it goes to the right places."

For now, Mr. Luttrell is heading back to East Texas. Not far from his parents' place, he and his twin brother, Morgan--who followed him into the SEALs--own a ranch. The two men each have a large tattoo on their backs, one half of the trident badge awarded to newly minted SEALs. "When we come together, and it makes the whole thing, you're like, 'Oh, I know what that is.' It was just something we did to honor all the guys who went before us and are here today. And it signifies that without him I'm only half a frogman."
The ranch is devoted to rehabilitating sick and injured horses--about a dozen of them at any one time. The place is likely to be restorative for Mr. Luttrell, as well. "Out there it's pretty peaceful and I work all the time," he says. But he hasn't been able to stay at home for more than a few days at a time since being plunged into "Lone Survivor" concerns.

"Being a civilian hasn't set in just yet. Except when I try to get on a military base and I can't because I don't have an ID anymore." When he feels especially troubled by thoughts about the firefight in the mountains, his instinct--as it is when dealing with his injuries, from which he is still recovering--is simply to "suck it up." But sometimes he calls his old SEAL buddies. It's not always easy to reach them. "I forgot how busy it is being a team guy."

I talked to Mr. Luttrell at the Crystal Gateway Marriott hotel on Wednesday morning, not far from the Pentagon. In the lobby before the interview, it was the uniformed military personnel who caught the eye as they headed out the front door, most likely on their way to doing business at the Pentagon. The few civilian guests in evidence attracted less attention. A family was at the front desk checking out. And then there was the tall young man in blue jeans who was saying goodbye to a pleasant-looking older couple near the entrance. The woman in the couple was much shorter than the young man, who had to lean over--a little awkwardly, as if he had a tricky back--when he hugged her. Not a remarkable farewell scene in most hotels, but in this one it was unutterably moving.

Marcus Luttrell was saying goodbye to Dan and Maureen Murphy, Lt. Murphy's parents. The parting wasn't tearful; it was a cordial exchange between people who have a deep bond and who seem to know that they'll be speaking again soon. Probably on Sunday, in fact. That's the day, each week, when Mr. Luttrell calls the families--the other survivors.

Mr. Lasswell is The Wall Street Journal's deputy books editor.

Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 29, 2007, 05:08:11 PM
Soldier stabbed in the brain in East Baghdad


Troops unite to save soldier knifed in head

By Patrick Winn - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Oct 24, 2007 14:01:27 EDT

Courtesy of Lt. Col. (Dr.) Richard Teff / Army An X-ray revealed that the knife entered just below Army Sgt. Dan Powers' helmet, above his cheekbone. It also penetrated his cavernous sinus, where a bundle of veins supplied blood to his brain's right side.

It felt like a nasty sucker punch. Yet when he strained his eyes to the hard right, there was something that didn’t belong: the pewter-colored contour of a knife handle jutting from his skull.
Sgt. Dan Powers, stabbed in the head by an insurgent on the streets of East Baghdad, triggered a modern miracle of military medicine, logistics, technology and air power.


See video taken shortly after the attack, and watch interviews with Powers and a doctor who helped save his life

His survival relied on the Army’s top vascular neurosurgeon guiding Iraq-based U.S. military physicians via laptop, the Air Force’s third nonstop medical evacuation from Central Command to America, and the best physicians Bethesda National Naval Medical Center in Maryland could offer.

It required extraordinary hustle from a string of ground medics, air medics, C-17 pilots, jet refuel technicians and more. Not an hour after the attack, Powers, a squad leader with the Army’s 118th Military Police Company, was draped in sheets on a medical gurney bound for Balad Air Force Base, about 30 minutes away by helicopter.

Someone pressed a phone to his left ear so he could promise his wife, in a panic worlds away, that everything would be fine. He would soon drench a surgeon’s hands in blood, narrowly surviving as a medical team opened his skull to extract 4 inches of blade from his brain.
These are the staggering measures that allowed Powers to keep his promise and his life.

The attack

East Baghdad is a crumbling maze. Narrow lanes form stucco canyons that block out sunlight. A grimy film seems to blacken every surface: the facades, cobbled footpaths and street urchins’ faces. Lines of sight end at each bend in the street, and the windows overhead look down like hundreds of eyes.
“It’s just very slummy, with all these twisty alleyways,” said Powers, now 39. “It’s a nightmare to patrol.”

A 12-year Army vet on his second deployment to East Baghdad, Powers spent his days training local police and trying to keep peace in a fortified cityscape. Soldiers in his 13-man squad would cruise the city’s oldest quarter with Iraqi officers conducting street-level investigations and responding to gunfire or explosions.
Nothing was different July 3 — at least not at first.

Powers was dispatched from Forward Operating Base Shield to a stretch of bomb-charred road. Explosive ordnance disposal personnel were already huddled over a blast site near Beirut Square on one of the district’s wider thoroughfares. The explosion seemed minor — no flaming vehicles, at least — so Powers and a team leader, Sgt. Michael Riley, were mostly concerned with warding off pedestrians.

Powers was walking away from the cordoned area when it hit him — a near-knockout blow that felt like a “clothesline tackle,” he said. But Powers stayed on his feet, spun around and slammed his raven-haired assailant to the asphalt, prodding the skinny Iraqi man’s face with his M4 barrel. Riley, his squad mate, pounced and detained the assailant.

“I remember being pretty pissed off,” Powers recalled to Air Force Times. Adrenaline throbbed in his veins and blood soaked his shoulder. A medic, Spc. Ryan Webb with the 118th Military Police, was tugging at his arm, demanding that he “sit down, calm down and leave the knife in.”
The knife? What knife?
“They said, ‘You’re stabbed’ and ... I remember seeing the handle,” Powers said. “There was no pain because the brain has no pain sensory nerves. It was all surface, like someone punched me in the head.”

Powers stayed conscious as soldiers carried him to a Humvee, sped to Forward Operating Base Shield and, after medics bandaged his head in clumps of cottony gauze, shuttled the sergeant to Baghdad’s Green Zone.
Stabbings of American military personnel in Iraq or Afghanistan are extremely rare, outnumbered by drownings, strokes, cancer, drug overdoses and electrocutions. According to Defense Department casualty reports, Powers is only the second service member stabbed while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The hospital

They spoke through the roaring chukka-chukka of rotating chopper blades.
Moments before medics slid Powers into a helicopter en route to Balad, his wife, Trudy, was patched through on a cell phone. A soldier held it to Powers’ face as his gurney rolled across the Green Zone helipad.
“I was adamant they put him on the phone to prove he was alive,” Trudy Powers said. “He sounded like his regular old self. ‘I’ll be all right, hon. I’ll be all right.’”

Powers soon arrived at the Balad hospital, a cutting-edge facility rivaling many American treatment centers. One of Iraq’s few military neurosurgeons, Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Richard Teff, remembers Powers lying supine on a gurney, wide awake and speaking. Medical personnel crowded his stretcher, asking questions and filming his answers.
“His head was wrapped up with big, bulky bandages,” Teff said, “like the people transporting him were afraid the knife would get bumped or dislodge.”
It was less than two hours since the attack.

Balad’s head and neck team was accustomed to gory head wounds, skulls split by bullets and IED-borne shrapnel. But Powers’ injury “had to be the most amazing thing anyone in the room had ever seen,” Teff said. An X-ray revealed that the knife entered just below Powers’ helmet, above his cheekbone, “skating right along the base of the cavity we call the temporal fossa, where the temporal lobe of your brain lives,” Teff said. It also penetrated his cavernous sinus, where a bundle of veins supply blood to the brain’s right side.

After Powers was shaved and anesthetized, Teff and fellow neurosurgeon Army Maj. (Dr.) John Martin peeled back Powers’ scalp, skull and meninges — a pinkish layer coating the brain’s surface. Steel barbs resembling fish hooks held back walls of tissue the color of raw pork.

Teff and Martin hit a crossroads. They could riskily retract the brain to isolate and clamp the artery in his cavernous sinus. Or Teff could cross his fingers and pull.
“Any time you have a penetrating stab to the head,” he said, “the biggest concern is what’s going to happen when you pull [the knife] out.”
Teff pulled.
“He started bleeding like crazy, enough to make everyone in the room worry he might die,” Teff said.

The doctors scrambled to find the nicked carotid artery. Plastic air hoses sucked out pint after pint of hot blood. Finally, they clamped the artery and relief washed over the medical team as the bleeding stopped. Though Powers had lost about 2 liters of blood — roughly two-fifths of his body’s total volume — the most dangerous part of the operation was over.

Through personnel at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Teff relayed details and photos of Powers’ surgery to Lt. Col. Rocco Armonda, one the Army’s most skilled vascular neurosurgeons. There was no precedent for Powers’ condition in Iraq, and the head and neck team needed guidance.

Contacted in his vehicle, Armonda pulled over in Washington traffic, reviewed the images on his laptop and shot back a response: Close the guy up and get him to Bethesda. Now.


Capt. Corbett Bufton, an aircraft commander with the Charleston-based “Red 7” aircrew, was incredulous at first. Awaiting takeoff from Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, his airmen had expected to carry two Stryker anti-tank missile carriers to another airfield within Central Command — a job typical of their intratheater transportation role.

Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 29, 2007, 05:18:13 PM


But the operations center was telling him to change planes, directing him
toward a different C-17 Globemaster, one with a plus-sized fuel tank. Red 7,
the center said, would be picking up a severely injured soldier from Balad
to fly him nonstop to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., just outside Washington.
"Our initial reaction was, 'I don't believe you,'" Bufton said. "Nobody goes
to Andrews Air Force Base from Balad."
Once the disbelief faded, Bufton sent a few guys to the barracks to scoop up
extra clothes.
"It looked like we'd be gone for a couple days," he said.

After landing at Balad, the loadmaster, Staff Sgt. Matthew Nemeth, began
readying the aircraft for a medical evacuation. They briefed him on the
details: one guy with a knife in his head, another soldier with a gunshot
wound to the neck added at the last minute. A seven-person medical crew
expected to board soon. Keep down the turbulence and restrict the cabin
pressure to 4,000 feet.
"I've never seen it that low before," Bufton said. "That restricted our
flight ops to about 26,000 feet, which unfortunately keeps us down in the
weather." At the time, thunderstorms blanketed the skies of eastern Europe
along the flight path.

Bufton, with augmenting air refueling pilot Lt. Col. Jesse Strickland and
pilots Capt. Justin Herbst and Capt. Scot Frechette, kept the C-17's engine
idling as the Air Force medical crew rolled Powers, the other wounded
soldier and 7,000 pounds of lifesaving equipment up the ramp.
On the ground, a diplomatic clearance shop was frantically clearing their
flight through roughly a dozen countries: Iraq, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania,
Hungary, the Czech Republic, Germany, Holland, England and others.

Once airborne, Red 7's pilots steered the hulking C-17 around turbulent rain
clouds as medical personnel tended to Powers in the naked, metallic cabin.
Tubes and wiring snaked the floor. Near the British Isles, a KC-135
Stratotanker leaving RAF Mildenhall joined Red 7's jet for a mid-Atlantic
Over the Atlantic, it was Independence Day.

And as the C-17 rushed westward ahead of the rising sun, Nemeth helped the
medical crew tack American flags on the walls and catwalk.
The C-17 touched down lightly at Andrews after a 13-hour flight. Powers and
the other soldier were hurried to Bethesda. And members of Red 7, suffering
in Iraq's convection oven heat when they began their shift, stepped off the
C-17 into D.C.'s balmy summer. The next morning, they flew into Dover Air
Force Base, Del., picked up 17 pallets of cargo and headed back to Qatar.
"I've probably done two or three dozen medevacs in my career," Nemeth said.
"This one is probably the most significant, the most profound."

More surgery

At Bethesda, a neurosurgical team guided by Armonda coiled Powers' carotid
artery and performed a cranioplasty on his dented skull. Trudy Powers met
frequently with the surgeons, insisting each time on the raw truth.
"Don't think I can't handle it," she told them.

Initially, they feared Powers, still in critical condition, could wake up
with severe paralysis, brain damage and lost eyesight. But when the soldier
surfaced after four comatose days, a battery of tests proved the stabbing
had not robbed his intelligence or memory. Only his balance was badly
"It was like a dream because of all the stuff they had me on," Powers said.
"A face came in and said, 'Do you know where you are?' I said, 'Are you
kidding me?' It was the best place I could possibly be. The president goes
there, all the chiefs and Congress."

Powers was released from Bethesda just a month later and allowed to return
to his house roughly 30 miles from Fort Bragg, N.C. After months of physical
therapy, physicians now believe his coordination is largely restored.
Pending the success of a follow-up skull repair in January, Powers hopes to
rejoin his unit as a squad leader before May.

"Certainly there have been bigger injuries, uglier, more devastating
injuries," Teff said. "What makes this unique is how huge the knife was, how
well neurologically he's doing and the drama involved in getting him back."

Back at Fort Bragg

The package's return address read "BALAD AIR BASE, IRAQ." Trudy Powers,
standing with her husband in their home, was tearful, trembling and
mortified by the contents she expected to find inside.
Out plopped a hunk of stainless steel resembling a flea market dagger.
"I didn't need to see that," she said.

Army judge advocate general prosecutors later asked if they could have it.
Powers didn't mind. Iraqi prosecutors wanted to present the 9-inch blade as
evidence during his attacker's trial in Baghdad, which admitted Powers'
testimony via teleconference. He's unsure of the man's fate, though he was
told the Iraqis planned to "lengthen his neck a little bit."

Powers acknowledges that his survival tale, circulating within the Air Force's
Air Mobility Command, is "the stuff they make movies out of." But the
soldier in him bristles at the notoriety - or the suggestion that he's some
kind of hero.

In his version of the story, the Army, Navy and Air Force moved the world to
save one man's life.
And he's just some guy who got stabbed in the brain.
Title: Not from the NY or LA Times
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 02, 2007, 09:51:46 PM
Complex snatch/ambush on a 4 man US sniper team on a rooftop using interlocking suppressive SMG fire from nearby roofs with a sapper team coming up the rooftop stairwell. Enemy were Ethiopian AQI/ISI. Use of movement, cover, and pickup of Hadji weapons allowed US to prevail. Failure of M4 gas system during fight.


THE DAY OF AUGUST 26, 2007, began like any other for the soldiers of Charlie Company, 2-505 Parachute Infantry Regiment (from the 82nd Airborne Division) -- with a mission in the city. Over a year into its deployment to Samarra, Iraq, and now working on the three-month extension announced by Secretary of Defense Gates in the spring, the company knew the city like the back of its collective hands and had its operational routine down to a science, whatever the mission it might be tasked with.

On this morning, that mission was to establish a defensive perimeter around a block in central Samarra, so that Charlie Company's 3rd ("Blue") Platoon, led by Lieutenant Scott Young, could search a shop where it had information that Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were being manufactured.

Due to the insurgents' penchant for placing IEDs along the routes used by Charlie Company's vehicles in order to ambush them on their way back, two separate rooftop observation points (OPs) would be established, one to the north and one to the south of the shop, to watch for enemy activity on the roads that were serving as Blue Platoon's infiltration and exfiltration routes. The southern OP, led by Staff Sergeant Jason Wheeler, was manned with paratroopers from Charlie Company's 1st ("Red") Platoon. "Reaper Two," one of the sniper teams from 2nd Battalion's scout platoon, would man the second OP, almost a kilometer to the north. Reaper would be overwatching the area from the roof of a large four-story apartment building, which was laid out with the long axis facing north-south, and which was bordered -- across the surrounding streets and alleys -- by several other buildings.

The three-man Reaper team, known as the best in the unit, was led by Sergeant Josh Morley, a 22-year-old paratrooper from North Carolina. Morley was regarded within Charlie Company as a consummate professional, and the men in the unit knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they could always count on him and his team to come through whenever they were needed. Morley was affected even more than most of his fellow soldiers by the additional three months that had been added on to his unit's combat tour, for he was a new father and was counting the days until the end of the deployment, when he would finally get to see his infant daughter for the first time -- something he had already been waiting months to do.

The rest of Morley's team was made up of Specialist Tracy Willis, a 21-year-old from Texas, and Specialist Chris Corriveau, a 23-year-old from Maine. Willis was well known within Charlie Company as a friendly, laid back, permanently smiling young man who was always good for a laugh and for conversation, regardless of the person and the situation. Corriveau was quieter, but had earned the immense respect of his peers at Patrol Base Olson not only for his talent as a sniper but also for his abilities as a natural leader. The team had been together in Iraq for well over a year, and the three young men were as close as soldiers could be. They knew everything about each other, from their backgrounds, to information about their families, to the punchlines of Willis's tiredest jokes. Further, they had worked together so closely, and for so long, that they could read each other's body language and tone of voice, and were able to function as an extraordinarily effective unit.

For this mission, the three-man Reaper Two sniper team was rounded out by a fourth man (and a second Texan), 23-year-old Specialist Eric Moser. The company armorer, Moser was not a member of the Battalion Scout Platoon like Morley, Willis, and Corriveau, but was a competition-caliber shooter, and had gone along on several OPs with Reaper in the past, serving as a "designated marksman." His skill with firearms would end up being critical that day.
EARLY IN THE MORNING, after dropping off SSG Wheeler's team, Red Platoon's four Humvees rolled up to the predetermined dismount point for the second OP and came to a stop, allowing Morley, Willis, Corriveau, and Moser to get out. Upon departing the area, the trucks would make their way to Patrol Base Uvanni, an Iraqi National Police outpost in the center of the city (about 1.5 kilometers southwest of Reaper's OP), where they would wait until it was time to pick up the overwatch teams, while also serving as a Quick Reaction Force in the unlikely event that anything should go wrong at either of the overwatch sites.

The four-man sniper team hustled to the northern gate of the apartment building, cut the lock, and quietly moved into the courtyard. Morley instructed Moser and Corriveau to remain behind to close the gate and remove other signs of the team's presence, while he and Willis made their way into the building and up the stairs. Moser pulled security while Corriveau quietly closed the gate and replaced the lock, and then the two followed the others inside, clearing the stairwell as they ascended, but not going into the hallways of the apartment building, as they didn't want to alert the inhabitants of their presence.

The four-man team emerged onto the northern half of the roof and surveyed their surroundings. The building was set up with two staircases, one on the north side and one on the south side, both of which opened up onto the top of the building facing west. Dividing the north and south halves of the roof was a four-foot high, east-west running wall. The entire perimeter of the building's top was lined with a wall of the same height.

Once the area had been secured and the OP established, there was little to do but watch the street around the building. The team took turns keeping watch and sleeping; they had done hundreds of these before, and, while things could get hairy at times, their job involved far more boredom than excitement -- especially if they were careful, as they always were, to keep their heads down and not let anybody below know that they were there.

Unfortunately, unbeknownst to the four men of Reaper Two, one of the building's occupants had seen them enter and had passed the information along.

JUST BEFORE 11 A.M., reaper received word that Blue Platoon had finished its search of the shop (which had yielded no evidence of illegal activity) and was heading back to Patrol Base Olson, three kilometers to the west. With this, the men dispersed across the top of the building, with two -- Moser and Corriveau -- watching the road from corners of the roof, and the other two -- Morley and Willis -- taking up a position by the northern stairwell, where the team's radio had been deposited. Assigned to the southeast corner, Corriveau picked up an M4 rifle to complement his sniper weapon and vaulted the dividing wall, moving onto the southern half of the building and taking up his position, watching the base of the buildings across the road but careful to remain below the roof's perimeter wall and out of sight from the street below. Taking a quick peek over the wall, he saw a white sedan nearing his corner of the building but due to the obstructed view that came along with his rooftop concealment, Corriveau never had a chance to see the situation developing on the street directly below.

On the northwest corner of the apartment complex, Moser was watching the road in front of the building through a cut in the roof wall. As he looked down, he saw a white car speed up to the corner of the building. Four men holding AK-47 assault rifles (at least two of whom had long beards -- a distinctly non-Iraqi trait) emerged from the vehicle and sprinted toward the building's entrance. Seeing this, Moser immediately yelled to the others that enemy fighters were below. Morley, who along with Willis had been positioned next to the stairwell, raced to Moser's corner of the building to assess the situation and if possible to engage, but could not move quickly enough to prevent the men on the ground from making it into the building.

Suddenly, machine gun fire erupted from both of the stairwells behind them.

AT PATROL BASE UVANNI, a kilometer and a half away, the four armored Humvees that made up Charlie Company's internal Quick Reaction Force (QRF) were sitting just inside the gate, its soldiers in their vehicles and ready to move at a moment's notice, when the sound of gunfire echoed through the city streets. The sound of automatic weapons fire is as common in Samarra as traffic noise is in the United States. To Lieutenant Steve Smith, however, Red's Platoon Leader, these shots seemed different for some reason -- like they were coming from the north, instead of from the usual east-west direction. He immediately ordered radio checks to be attempted with both OPs to make sure that they were okay.

The first call went to the southern observation point, where SSG Wheeler's team was positioned. "Do you hear gunfire?" he was asked. He replied, "It sounds like the gunfire is coming from north of me. It sounds like Reaper."

Sergeant First Class Rodolfo Cisneros, Red's Platoon Sergeant (ranking noncommissioned officer), ordered an immediate radio check with Reaper. He had a bad feeling about the gunfire and explosions that sounded like they were coming from the exact direction of the northern OP. The radio call received no answer -- enough reason for Cisneros to call for the QRF to move immediately, as the unit's standard procedure regarding overwatch operations was that, in the event of a lack of communication with an OP, the QRF should assume it had been compromised and move to its location immediately.

Lieutenant Smith ordered another check -- again, nothing. Upon the second failed radio call, he ordered the four-Humvee Quick Reaction Force to roll out of Uvanni and make for Reaper's location as fast as possible. As the Humvees sped out of the Iraqi Patrol Base, Smith continued trying to raise the sniper team on the radio. He did not know that their radio had been destroyed by a grenade, and could only hope that the sounds echoing down the alleyways from the north -- which sounded like a full-blown battle at this point, complete with automatic and single-shot gunfire, as well as frequent explosions -- were not coming from Reaper's location.

ON THE ROOF OF THE APARTMENT BUILDING, Morley and Moser were taking AK-47 and PKC (a 7.62mm Russian-made machine gun) fire from both stairwells. As they spun around to return fire, they saw several small, dark objects flying onto the roof from the stairwell -- hand grenades. Morley recognized that the situation was rapidly deteriorating and knew that, though his team currently occupied the high ground in the emerging battle, they could not hold out for very long due to their vast disadvantage in numbers. Seeing that Willis, who was next to the team's radio, was busy firing into the stairwell through a window on the enclave's north side, and not knowing that one of the first hand grenades tossed onto the roof had disabled it, Morley made a dash across the roof to call for the QRF.

He never made it there.

As Moser fired into the door from his corner in an attempt to suppress the enemy assault, he saw Morley appear to stumble and go down, his weapon skidding across the rooftop toward the stairwell door. His first thought was that the team leader had tripped and fallen; a moment later, his brain registered the truth: Morley had been shot. A burst of gunfire from the southern stairwell across the dividing wall had scored a direct hit, with one round striking Morley directly in the forehead. He was dead before hitting the ground.

Moser didn't have time to dwell on Morley's death. Knowing that what had just become a three-man team could not long withstand the concerted effort by what was clearly a large enemy force to move up the stairs to his location, he took the same chance that Morley had, and crossed the roof to the radio while Willis continued to fire his .240 machine gun into the stairwell, killing at least two enemy fighters with well-placed bursts as grenades continued to be tossed up the stairs and out onto the roof. As he moved to the radio (which he found to have been disabled by a grenade), Moser was able to get a look down into the northern stairwell. Inside, he saw a number of armed men, both black and Arab rushing up the steps toward the roof -- none of whom were the individuals he had seen get out of the car moments before on the street. Apparently there had been fighters stationed in the building before the white car's arrival.

ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROOF'S DIVIDING WALL, Corriveau had been watching the area to the southwest when the gunfire began at his back. Spinning around at the edge of the roof, he saw a man with a PKC machine gun emerging from the southern stairwell, and immediately moved toward him, raising his M24 sniper rifle, only to find that it wasn't loaded. Continuing to advance on the man at the top of the stairs, who was firing across the roof, Corriveau quickly loaded a five-round magazine into his rifle and fired a perfectly aimed shot into the assailant's head.
Title: Part Two
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 02, 2007, 09:53:39 PM
Continuing to close on the man, who was now on the ground, Corriveau fired again and again, re-charging the firing handle each time, until he had emptied his remaining rounds into the body. Following up with a swift kick to the fighter's head to make sure that he was dead, he then tossed his empty sniper rifle aside, picked up the man's PKC, and stepped into the stairwell, looking down over the railing. Seeing at least one more armed man charging up from the landing below, Corriveau held the PKC over the ledge and, firing blind, let go with a burst. A scream from below let him know that at least one of his rounds had hit home. He repeated this action three or four more times until he was unable to see any more movement in the stairwell.

Having neutralized the threat at his back (at least temporarily), Corriveau took his newly acquired PKC and sprinted back to the western edge of the roof to check the road again. As he peered over the edge, he saw several men running toward the entrance to the building from the south. Just to Corriveau's right, over the dividing wall, Willis, who had left the northern stairwell to Moser, was looking at the same scene. Looking to his left and catching Corriveau's eye, Willis, who had stepped up and taken charge after Morley had gone down, pointed at the men, pulled a grenade from his vest, and yelled, "We're going to frag them!" Corriveau retrieved a grenade of his own, pulled the firing pin, and let it fly, hitting the last man in the group running toward the building. Seconds behind him Willis pulled the pin from his own grenade, and prepared to throw it down into the street as well.

Suddenly, the morning exploded into gunfire, and bullets began flying at the rooftop from seemingly every direction. Enemy fighters had established supporting machine gun positions in the buildings on three sides (north, east, and west) of the apartment complex, and had begun firing relentlessly at the building top that had become a battleground, sending debris flying up all over the place from the walls and roof. Over the loud chatter of the supporting fire, Corriveau, who was still facing the street, heard a loud burst from his five o'clock. Looking to his right, he saw Willis disappear behind the dividing wall, the prepped grenade still in his hand.

 AT THE NORTHERN STAIRWELL, Moser was holding the high ground, doing his best to lock down the access route to his half of the rooftop -- and to stay alive -- by alternately firing his M4 rifle around the northwest corner of the stairwell and taking cover behind the structure's northern wall. AK-47 and PKC fire, as well, now, as 9-millimeter pistol fire, was being steadily spewed from the doorway, and grenades were still bouncing out onto the roof and exploding around Moser at an alarming rate. Pivoting around the corner to fire another burst with his M4, he was able to see at least eight people in the stairwell, all attempting to make it up to the roof. He did his best to suppress the charge.

As he took cover behind the wall yet again, Moser saw a single enemy fighter reach out of the stairwell and grab the M4 that Morley had dropped when he had been hit. Though he immediately leaped up and began firing into the building again, Moser was too late to prevent the weapon from being taken. He had larger problems to worry about than the rifle, though. The charge up the stairs by close to a dozen men (both black and Arab) was continuing, and grenades were rolling out of the doorway one and two at a time and exploding with thunderous bangs. Shortly after the weapon had been taken, the person at the top of the staircase made a lunge for another prize on the roof -- Morley's body.

Spurred into renewed action, Moser flew around the corner of the stairwell and let loose with a relentless series of bursts at the advancing enemy. He was still in shock at Morley's sudden death, and there was no way that he was going to allow these animals to take his team leader's -- and friend's -- body. Risking his own life to remain within reach of the stairwell -- and thus to be able to impose himself and his M4 as a barrier between the attackers and Morley's body -- Moser fired again and again into the doorway, hitting insurgents inside while miraculously avoiding injury himself. The number of targets never seemed to diminish. As soon as he shot one person attempting to fight his way out of the stairwell to seize Morley's body, another would appear.

As Moser was exchanging fire with the topmost fighters in the northern stairwell, and attempting to remain behind sufficient cover to avoid the repeated grenade detonations on the roof, he heard from across the building top Willis's call to Corriveau to prepare their grenades. Just then, the enemy support-by-fire positions surrounding the building opened fire on the rooftop, sending Moser scrambling for cover again. As he retreated behind the northern wall of the stairwell (crouched down to avoid the withering fire coming from the north, east, and west), he looked out toward Willis just in time to see a PKC burst from the northern stairwell catch him in the back.

Almost in slow motion, Moser saw Willis's body contort, saw him collapse onto the roof, and saw him land on his own grenade, which he had prepped for use but hadn't yet been able to throw.

A split second later Willis's body was rocked by the explosion, and Moser knew instantly that he was dead. The battle had only been raging for five minutes, but it already seemed like a lifetime to Moser -- and it had cost the lives of at least two of his fellow paratroopers. With the machine gun fire pouring in from three sides, the concerted efforts on the part of the fighters in the stairwell to reach the rooftop and Morley's body (and do who knew what from there), and the grenades exploding around him, Moser could do nothing but hold what little ground he had, and keep trying to suppress the fighters in the stairwell. From his position by the stairs, the situation seemed utterly hopeless. He could see Morley and Willis lying on the roof, unmoving, knowing that they would never move again. Further, as he couldn't see or hear a thing from the south side of the building top, due to the dividing wall and the withering gunfire coming from all sides, he had no choice but to assume that Corriveau was gone as well.

He had never felt more alone.

ON THE SOUTHERN HALF OF THE ROOFTOP, across the dividing wall, Corriveau was still very much alive. He absolutely knew this to be the case because, as he sprinted back to the southern stairwell to prevent any more enemy fighters from making it to the rooftop, he was beside himself with emotions the likes of which he had never felt before. If he were dead, there was no way that he would feel the hurt, the loss, the sheer rage that was bottled up within him now, that drove him as he fired his PKC over and over into the stairwell, cutting down armed insurgent after armed insurgent as they ran up the stairs toward him. He had seen Willis go down from the gunfire, had heard the explosion of his friend's own grenade, and knew there was no way that he could have survived such a blast. Further, he had not seen Morley or Moser since the initial shooting had begun over five minutes (that seemed like hours) before and knew -- though his mind could not accept it -- that they, the last of his team, the last of his support, the last of those who were closer to them than his own family, must be dead as well.

Fighting like a man who had nothing to lose, Corriveau moved to the southern end of the roof, staying low to avoid the continuous fire from the surrounding buildings, and, keeping an eye on his own stairwell, began to fire bursts from his PKC across the dividing wall into the northern doorway as he bounded back and forth across the end of the roof, ducking for cover between bursts. As he popped out to fire again and again, he saw one insurgent after another in the northern stairwell, trying to make it out onto the roof, many of whom, it appeared from their long beards and the color of their skin, had come all this way from some foreign land just to kill him, and to kill his friends. His insides contorted with emotion, Corriveau did the only thing that he could do in that situation: keep moving, keep taking cover, and keep fighting off his assailants as long as he had the strength and the ammunition to do so. As the last man standing, there was nobody else to turn to for help -- either he would fight, or he would die, with the two not being mutually exclusive.

But, if he was going to die, he was going to go down fighting -- and he was going to take as many of these animals with him as he could.

AROUND THE FAR SIDE of the northern stairwell, Moser was engaged in a battle with a hand holding a 9mm pistol. Grenades were still being tossed up the stairs onto the roof, and every few seconds a black hand would reach around the wall of the structure and squeeze off a few rounds in his direction. Ducking behind cover when it appeared, then swinging his weapon around the wall and firing a burst when it went back inside, Moser could see no progress being made in his battle to keep his assailants from taking the rooftop -- and no escape in the event that they finally did. Due to the dividing wall and the fact that, entirely by chance, he and Corriveau were both suppressing the same stairwell, from opposite sides of the roof, in an exactly alternating pattern, Moser never saw that he was not alone, that there was another member of his team alive on the rooftop (and neither, on the other side, did Corriveau). However, despite his creeping sense of hopelessness, Moser continued to do all that he was able -- which, at this point, was to protect Morley's body the best that he could, and to keep exchanging rounds with the insurgents behind the door.

And then his weapon jammed.

As if more adversity were needed in a situation that was already an against-all-odds struggle to protect the body of a fallen comrade while also trying to stay alive, against the combined opposition of an assault from foreign fighters in the stairwell and a constant stream of grenades being tossed onto the roof near him -- which prevented his crossing the mere feet separating him from Morley's load carrying vest, which was in the northwestern corner and held a walkie-talkie ("ICOM"), the last undamaged piece of communications equipment on the roof -- as well as nonstop machine gun fire from the buildings on every side, now Moser's M4 was threatening to fail him. In this time of greatest need, Moser's training and experience kicked in. He remained calm, cleared his weapon, and, undeterred by the fact that now, due to a malfunction in his most precious piece of equipment, he had to charge the rifle's firing handle after every single shot, resumed the battle.

For nearly five minutes, he traded shots with the faceless pistolier on the other side of the stairwell door, all the while knowing that, in the end, he would not have enough time or ammunition to hold the rooftop himself. As the minutes crept by like hours, a renewed sense of hopelessness began to take hold. "Please God, help me," he pled time and again, as he alternated firing into the stairwell, ducking for cover from the returning fire, and searching frantically for some way out of what appeared to be a certain-death situation. Looking to the west, he saw the unmistakable form of the 52-meter tall Spiral Minaret, which stood in the northwestern corner of the city, a scant thousand meters from Patrol Base Olson -- and safety. Measuring its distance from the rooftop, Moser wondered for the briefest of moments if he could survive a jump off the building intact enough to be able to run the three kilometers back to Olson.

The situation was desperate, and Moser needed a miracle.

THOUGH HE WAS IN A SIMILARLY desperate situation on the south side of the roof, the idea of leaping off a four-story building never occurred to Corriveau. Instead, as he bounded back and forth across the building's edge, alternately firing into the northern stairwell door and taking cover from whatever return fire came his way, his mass of conflicting emotions was overridden by only one thought: Get to the radio on the other side of the roof.

Finally, running low on ammunition and facing only sporadic harassing fire from the southern stairwell, Corriveau decided it was time to make a break for it. He fired a final suppressive burst into his own doorway, as well as into the one to the north, and made a run for it, dashing across the open rooftop, vaulting the dividing wall, and racing for the semi-protected far side of the northern stairwell.

ON THE NORTH SIDE OF THE ROOF, Moser's situation was looking bleaker by the second. He had gone through five 30-round magazines with his M4 and was still defending the roof from an attempted assault up his own stairwell, while frantically searching -- and hoping -- for a miraculous escape from his present situation.

Suddenly, that miracle arrived.
Title: Part Three
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 02, 2007, 09:54:48 PM

Suddenly, that miracle arrived.

Through a hail of bullets from the surrounding buildings, Corriveau bounded over the dividing wall and came sprinting across the north side of the roof and around the stairwell, almost knocking Moser over as he flew around the corner. Upon seeing each other alive, an unspeakable joy flooded the manic Corriveau, and an equal amount of relief flowed through Moser at the suddenly gained knowledge that each was not the only man left alive on this godforsaken rooftop in Samarra.

After the joyous yet indescribably brief reunion, the two Americans resumed the fight together. As Moser suppressed the enemy activity in the stairwell, Corriveau reached down and picked up the team's radio to call for the QRF. But like Moser before him, he found that it had been destroyed by one of the first grenades thrown onto the rooftop. Flinging the useless object across the roof out of frustration, Corriveau next set his sights on the survivors' last hope of a means to call for help: the ICOM on Morley's vest.

As Moser locked down the stairwell with his M4, Corriveau crossed the open rooftop to the northwest corner, where Morley's vest lay, and retrieved the small hand-held radio. Picking it up, he made calls on channel after channel, desperate to get hold of anybody that he could. Finally, as he turned the knob to Channel 13, he made contact with SSG Wheeler on the southern OP.

"Reaper Two is in contact!" Corriveau yelled into the radio. "We have two casualties, need immediate QRF and air support!"

Having made his transmission, Corriveau threw the ICOM aside and moved back to the northeastern corner of the roof, where he and Moser took turns firing at the enemy machine gun position to the east and suppressing the northern stairwell, continuing to protect Morley's body. Sporadic harassing fire was still coming from the southern doorway, but it was not enough to be a concern.
As they held down their quadrant of the apartment building's rooftop, one final grenade came rolling out of the stairwell, exploding harmlessly several feet away from them. Then, the fire from the doorway began to die down. For some unknown reason, the terrorists inside the building, who had been pushing so determinedly up the stairs during the ten-minute gun battle, had abandoned their pursuit, and were quickly evacuating their dead as they left the building. The rooftop battle zone had become much calmer.
 RACING NORTH UP THE STREET toward the apartment building, Red Platoon's four Humvees were heading into the unknown, but were preparing for the worst-case scenario. Wheeler had relayed Corriveau's ICOM message to them, stating that there were friendly casualties and that the OP was in contact. As the column neared the building, Lieutenant Smith could see thick, black smoke rising from the rooftop, while SFC Cisneros saw fire being directed at the OP from several buildings around them.

The streets were completely deserted as the QRF pulled up to the apartment complex, passing on the southwest corner the body of a black fighter holding an AK-47. The four Humvees pulled up to the east, north, west, and southwest sides of the building to establish a security cordon; as his vehicle reached the front, Lieutenant Smith jumped out of his Humvee and sprinted into the building alone, leaving his remaining dismounted soldiers racing to catch up. All he knew was that the young men he had dropped off here only hours ago were in danger, and had already taken casualties. SFC Cisneros, who leaped from his truck the moment he saw Smith take off, caught up to his Platoon Leader at the base of the stairwell, pulling him back so that he could assume the risk of mounting the staircase into the unknown first.

As the dismounted paratroopers -- Smith and Cisneros, as well as Sergeant Tim Curry, Private First Class Tim Durfee, and Specialist Brady Thayer, the platoon's medic -- raced up the stairs, weapons at the ready and hollering "Friendlies coming up!" at the top of their lungs, the sound of gunfire from below came echoing up the stairs. One of Red Platoon's turret gunners had positively identified a gunman in an alley to the southeast, and was engaging him.

The stairwell itself was covered in blood, from top to bottom. Looking around as he climbed toward the roof, Cisneros saw marks in the slick coating that indicated that several bodies had been dragged down from above. Finally, as he reached the last flight of stairs, he encountered a dead body, oriented as though it had been moving up the stairs when it had been killed.

Finally reaching daylight at the top of the staircase, Cisneros made an immediate turn to the right, around the northern wall, and almost ran into Corriveau. Wanting to avoid being shot by the shell-shocked paratrooper, Cisneros grabbed Corriveau by the upper arms and yelled to him, "Hey! It's us! It's us!" Punch-drunk and mentally exhausted, Corriveau went limp for the briefest of moments in Cisneros's arms; behind him, Moser simply stared, wide-eyed.

Staying low to avoid the machine gun fire from the surrounding buildings, and wary of the prospect of walking into another ambush, Cisneros turned and surveyed the scene on the rooftop. What he saw was sickening. The entire roof of the building was covered with well over a dozen blast marks from grenades, with some patches still burning, and shell casings from expended rounds seemed to cover every remaining inch of ground. From the northeastern corner, he could clearly see Willis's body diagonally across the roof, lying on its side directly over a large blast marking; he could also see Morley, lying face down near the stairwell door that he had just charged out of.

Lieutenant Smith, who had followed Cisneros out the door and onto the rooftop, moved to Morley's body to check for a pulse, though knowing it was a futile exercise. He called down to the medic, SPC Thayer, to take his time coming up, as the two casualties were clearly dead. As he knelt over the sniper team leader, he wondered over and over again how in the world this could have happened when he and his men had been so close to the OP the entire time. Lost in thought, he didn't realize that Thayer had come up behind him until Thayer placed a gentle but firm hand on his shoulder and said, "I've got it."

Machine gun fire picked up again from the building to the east, but this time Moser and Corriveau were not alone in facing it. SFC Cisneros and Sgt. Curry joined in returning fire, and the .50 caliber turret guns on the Humvees below engaged the shooters, as well.

Smith, Thayer, and Durfee carried Willis down the stairs to the waiting Humvees, where they gently placed him in a body bag and sat him in the back seat of one of the trucks. A second bag was carried back up to the roof, where Morley was gently wrapped, his head cushioned by Cisneros, and was brought back down to the vehicles, where Moser and Corriveau, alive and physically unharmed but mentally exhausted and emotionally drained, climbed in and sat down. There was no room in the cabs of Red's trucks, so Morley was laid out in the trunk of the rear Humvee, with a gear bag arranged so that it propped up his head like a pillow. Morley and Willis's fellow paratroopers wanted their friends to be comfortable on their last ride back to Patrol Base Olson.

BY THIS TIME, Charlie Company's 2nd ("White") and 3rd Platoons had arrived from Patrol Base Olson, with Captain Buddy Ferris, the Company Commander, riding along. There was work still to be done at the site, from checking the roof for sensitive items to pursuing those involved in the assault, and Blue and White Platoons would spend the next several hours doing just those things. In the ensuing gun battles, several al Qaeda -- both Iraqi and foreign -- would be killed or captured, among them the informant who had initially alerted the foreign fighters to Reaper's presence on the roof of his apartment building. Following a large number of the fighters from the apartment building and the surrounding machine gun positions using surveillance aircraft, Captain Ferris was able to identify the house to which over 20 of the surviving terrorists went after leaving the building. Minutes later, a GPS-guided bomb was dropped on the house.

Within the next hours and days, more information would come to light, both through the interrogation of captured insurgents and through the development of more human intelligence on the situation. According to the available evidence, nearly 40 al Qaeda were directly involved in the assault on Reaper's position (they believed the team on the roof comprised nearly a dozen American soldiers). During the firefight, which lasted less than ten total minutes, Corriveau and Moser had killed at least ten enemy fighters -- possibly as many as fifteen -- and had not only kept themselves alive, but, against all odds, had prevented al Qaeda from succeeding in their real goal: to kidnap the soldiers on the rooftop, and to make a public spectacle of their imprisonment and murder, just two weeks before General Petraeus's internationally viewed testimony on Iraq before the U.S. Congress. The suspicion that kidnapping was the fighters' intent was confirmed by a final piece of intelligence that Charlie Company received just after the incident: an announcement, crafted by the Islamic State of Iraq (al Qaeda's Iraqi front), stating that nine U.S. soldiers had been kidnapped in Samarra, and had been beheaded and had their bodies thrown into Thar-Thar lake (to the southwest of the city).

Thanks to the strength, courage, discipline, and unwillingness to give up in the face of seemingly impossible odds of Chris Corriveau and Eric Moser, the ISI had spoken too soon. There would be no trophy, no public relations victory to thrust in the face of those in America and around the world whose attention would in the next few weeks be focused again on Iraq. Instead, there would only be death or capture, as the ISI members responsible were hunted down, one by one, by Captain Ferris and his company of very motivated, and exceptionally lethal, paratroopers who, as Corriveau and Moser had demonstrated during the fight of their lives on the rooftop that fateful morning, would never, ever give up, whatever the odds.
Title: American KIA 1774-1991
Post by: buzwardo on November 03, 2007, 09:47:44 AM
Interesting piece of comparative data regarding American military deaths over the past 200+ years can be found here:

ETA: Whups, scrolled down further and found plenty of interesting data through 2007.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 25, 2008, 09:05:20 AM
Profiles of valor: USAF Staff Sgt. Kimberling
In August 2006, Staff Sgt. Jason Kimberling was one of three members of a security force assisting a convoy of 35 Afghan personnel from the National Police (ANP) and the Afghan National Army (ANA). The convoy was sent to aid at a highway checkpoint in Qalat Province that had come under attack. More than 100 Taliban fighters suddenly attacked Kimberling’s convoy with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns. The driver of the security force’s Humvee positioned the vehicle to provide cover. Kimberling returned fire from outside the vehicle until nearly being hit by an RPG. He quickly recovered from the blast to kill two Taliban fighters headed his way, which further enabled his Afghan allies to kill other jihadis. After more fighting, the convoy was able to move to higher ground, where, still under fire, Kimberling used a satellite phone to call in air support to end the battle. An estimated 20 jihadis were killed in the firefight, while not a single casualty occurred among the good guys. Kimberling was awarded the Bronze Star with combat “V” for valor and the Army Commendation Medal for his actions.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 08, 2008, 08:46:02 AM
Profiles of valor: USMC Corporal Stokes
Sometimes the media do get it right. On Wednesday, both NBC and CBS paid tribute to only the third Marine private ever to be awarded the Silver Star, Corporal Sean Stokes, who was honored posthumously for his heroism in the battle of Fallujah in 2004. Stokes was an athlete who volunteered to serve with the Marines after 9/11, rather than go to college. On 17 November 2004, Stokes took part in Operation Phantom Fury, which aimed to clear Fallujah of jihadis. Serving with the 3rd Battalion of the 1st Marine Regiment, then-Private Stokes was point man for his platoon, meaning he kicked in the doors and entered the houses first. “At each house I said a prayer,” Stokes said. “Please God get me out of this one. When I come out of the house, I’d thank him, light up a cigarette and move on to the next one.” Patrick O’Donnell, an author embedded with Stokes’ unit, said, “He was clearly one of the most courageous Marines in 1st platoon. He killed nine guys single-handedly. He was combat wounded two or three times and he hid his wounds so he wouldn’t be evacuated... so he could stay and fight with his brothers.” Stokes was killed in July 2007, during his third tour in Iraq, when he was once again walking “point” and an IED detonated underneath him. CBS reported that “on what would have been his 25th birthday, Sean was awarded the coveted Silver Star for courage in battle.” His father accepted the medal on his behalf.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 22, 2008, 09:50:12 AM
Profiles of valor: USAF Tech. Sgt. Sudlow
United States Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Sudlow of Pandora, Ohio, toured in Iraq leading the 424th Medium Truck Detachment on supply convoys that logged more than 434,000 miles on some of the world’s most dangerous roads. The cargo in Sudlow’s convoys allowed Coalition forces to maintain their operational tempo and complete their respective missions. Despite the constant threat of IEDs and car bombs, Sudlow and Detachment 424 escorted 4,680 tractor-trailers and protected 2,300 foreign-national drivers. By taking the initiative to upgrade the convoy vehicles under his command with “Go-Lights” and sirens, Sudlow substantially increased the safety of his men and their chances of success. Sudlow also helped capture a group of thieves who had stolen military and civilian equipment from his convoy. For his service, he was awarded the Bronze Star, the military’s fourth-highest combat award.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 07, 2008, 10:43:18 AM
My stomach was torn open... so I tucked my shirt in and kept shooting: Amazing stories of the selfless heroes of Afghanistan

They all made a pact before they went to war.

Whatever happened to them in Afghanistan no one - dead or alive - would be left behind.  One night in Helmand Province, that pledge was put to the test.  In a terrifying split second, the close-knit group from one of the Army's most battle-scarred units came under fire from a hail of Taliban bullets and rocket-powered grenades.  Four men were hit and several others temporarily blinded by phosphorus. Their screams of pain cut through the darkness as the ambushed platoon was pinned down by gunfire from two sides.  But the men of 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment knew precisely what they had to do.

And today the extraordinary heroism which allowed the young soldiers to keep to their pledge at any cost can be revealed as they are awarded some of the highest military honours.  The men repeatedly braved enemy fire to rescue their injured and fatally wounded comrades from the hands of the Taliban.  Private Luke Cole, 22, carried on fighting after half his thigh bone was blown away.  When another bullet ripped open his stomach, he simply tucked his shirt in tighter "to hold everything in" - and carried on keeping the enemy at bay until back-up arrived.  Sergeant Craig Brelsford, 25, continued to command his men long after he was critically wounded - and right up to the moment he died.  In a singularly selfless act, he ran to put his body between the enemy and his wounded comrades.  It protected them from Taliban gunfire, but cost him his life.  And the 25-year-old platoon commander, Lieutenant Simon Cupples, led a rescue party into the killing zone to carry the injured to safety and recover the dead - again and again and again.

Their astonishing courage - and that of scores of other British servicemen and women serving in Afghanistan and Iraq - is marked today with a raft of 184 awards.  They include the biggest batch of medals since fighting began in Afghanistan nearly seven years ago - a reflection not just of the ferocity of the conflict, but of the conspicuous bravery of British troops.  The ambush near the frontline town of Garmsir underlined the extreme danger that troops face daily in what has turned into a bloody and difficult war. 
It played out into a six-hour pitched battle as both sides poured in reinforcements. But true to the pact, Lt Cupples and his men refused to withdraw until the bodies of two fallen comrades were recovered.

Telling their families back home that no one knew what happened to them, he decided, was "simply not an option".  His valour and dedication is recognised with the award of a Conspicuous Gallantry Cross - the highest bravery medal after the Victoria Cross.

Yesterday he told the remarkable story of that night last September.

The young officer, now a captain, recalled how his men were advancing under cover of darkness when they came under devastating fire from a Taliban trench just 20 yards away, and then from other enemy positions.

"I could tell we had taken serious casualties." he said. "There was screaming from the men around me. Because we were so close to the enemy it was very difficult to withdraw and regroup, but we couldn't leave the casualties.  It was asking a lot for the blokes to run forward into enemy fire like that.  But they did it because their mates were out there. When you live and serve with your men like that it creates a very special bond. You would do anything for those guys. That's what drove the soldiers forward."

Captain Cupples, from Derbyshire, who married his sweetheart, Louise, shortly before deploying to Afghanistan, is due to return with his unit next year.  Also involved in the September firefight was Private Cole, from Wolverhampton, who is awarded the Military Cross.  A Taliban bullet smashed into his right thigh in the first few seconds of the battle, shattering five inches of bone. As he tried to crawl to safety he was shot through the stomach and left hip.  Not realising how badly hurt he was, he managed to drag himself to a badly-wounded friend and give first aid - saving his life - before grabbing his rifle and firing almost 200 rounds at enemy positions to help cover the withdrawal.

"The pain didn't hit me at the time," he said. "I thought it was a flesh wound. But I looked down and it was a mess, to be honest. I knew it was serious but I thought, 'This can't be the way I go out'. So I carried on.  I could see muzzle flashes of the enemy weapons in a ditch behind some trees so I kept shooting and gave my mate first aid when I could.  Then I got shot again. I looked at my stomach and it was cut open, so I tucked my shirt in to keep it together and kept on firing until more lads from the platoon arrived.  I only realised how bad it was when they finally dragged me off into cover."

Medics dug out the bullet from his thigh and he now keeps it in his bedroom at home. Sergeant Brelsford, from Nottingham, who was only days away from his 26th birthday when he died, is also remembered with a posthumous Military Cross.

He was described as "an extremely professional soldier" who demonstrated calm leadership under pressure and "incredible bravery in the face of the enemy". He was killed as he led his men through heavy fire in a successful operation to bring back the body of Private Johan Botha.

General David Richards, formerly Britain's top commander in Afghanistan, congratulated the decorated soldiers at a ceremony yesterday.

"It doesn't surprise me that there is such a haul of medals," he said. "It is the toughest fighting we have seen since Korea half a century ago ... a reflection of the tenacity of our soldiers, and of the enemy.  All these men fully deserve their recognition, but we should remember it is always representative of many others who also showed immense bravery."

Staff Sergeant James Wadsworth

Staff Sergeant James Wadsworth of the Royal Logistics Corps successfully defused the largest roadside bomb ever found in southern Iraq - while his fellow-soldiers fought a gun battle against local insurgents trying to overrun the site.  He is today awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross for his 'extraordinary, selfless courage.'  The massive bomb containing around 120lb of explosives was spotted buried beneath a pavement opposite a hospital in the centre of Basra last July, ready to flatten the area and cause untold carnage when a British convoy passed.

Staff Sgt Wadsworth, 29, from Cambridge, said: "Normally you would spend three or four hours dealing with a device like that but we were under fire in the city centre. The greatest danger is spending time on the ground. I made it safe in 27 minutes. We only realised how big it was when we came to move it.

"I remember it was 55 degrees in the shade. Our unit was so busy we hadn't slept for days.  I haven't really told my wife about what I did. You just get on with the job."

Lance Corporal Donald Campbell

Lance Corporal Donald Campbell, of the Royal Corps of Engineers is awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross for driving an unarmoured and unprotected vehicle into an enemy killing zone "whilst under very intense, accurate fire for a considerable amount of time" - to help bridge a water-filled ditch which was holding up an advance in Helmand Province.

The 26-year-old from the Scottish island of Benbecula, moved his 'front loader' vehicle towards the enemy, offering a huge and vulnerable target, then climbed out of the cab to undo straps so that he could drop a 'fascine' - a huge bundle of pipes - into the ditch allowing armoured vehicles to cross.  He refused to seek cover even when bullets, rocket propelled grenades and mortar fire shattered the windows of the cab and badly damaged the vehicle, missing him by inches.

He said: "My folks are really happy about the award, but I don't think they quite appreciate what the medal means yet."

Private Paul Willmott

Private Paul Willmott, 21, receives the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross for taking command of his unit during a battle when his sergeant was shot dead in Afghanistan last year. The young private from the Mercian Regiment watched as a Taliban sniper killed Lance Corporal Paul Sandford near the town of Gereshk, leaving the unit leaderless.  Although other soldiers were more senior he assumed command, laying down suppressing fire as they withdrew, and then stayed to drag his fallen comrade's body to safety. 
Two weeks later he suffered severe head injuries from a rocket propelled grenade, but insisted on returning to his unit after a week of treatment rather than flying home to Britain.

"We were undermanned," he said. "We were down to 13 blokes in our platoon and needed every soldier available, so I asked to go back."

Captain Ruth Earl

Captain Ruth Earl is awarded an MBE for her dogged determination to keep British troops' vehicles and equipment fit for battle, commanding a dusty workshop in the deserts of Afghanistan. The 34-year-old Cambridge science graduate, who was a part-time TA reservist before joining up as a regular officer in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, spent six months working 18-hour days in the 'brutal summer heat' of Camp Bastion in Helmand Province, according to her citation.  She commanded 150 men tasked with keeping essential weapons and combat vehicles in working order in the punishing surroundings of the Afghan desert.

"Despite her junior years and experience, she sustained operations in this theatre in a way that few others could match," the citation reads.

Yesterday married officer from Stoke-on-Trent said she was left 'speechless' by news of her award.
Title: DSC Awarded
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 09, 2008, 09:30:11 AM
Bragg Soldier Awarded DSC
May 01, 2008
Associated Press
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - A Special Forces Soldier who crawled 200 feet while being fired upon to save a wounded colleague, then led a group of besieged Soldiers to safety, received the Army's second-highest award for valor April 30.   Master Sgt. Brendan O'Connor received the Distinguished Service Cross in a ceremony April 30 at Fort Bragg for his actions in Afghanistan. The award is second in achievement only to the Medal of Honor.

"He made a conscious decision to do whatever it took to get to our wounded Soldiers," said Maj. Sheffield Ford, the team's commander during the June 2006 battle in southern Afghanistan.

O'Connor, 47, doesn't believe he is a hero. He said that police officers and firefighters are courageous every day and that he was only completing his mission.

"I am being recognized for a moment of courage," said O'Connor, whose wife and four children attended the ceremony. "I firmly believe other Soldiers in my place would have done the same thing."

With his Special Forces team surrounded by Taliban fighters, O'Connor volunteered to lead a relief force to rescue two wounded colleagues. He got to the edge of a field, but intense Taliban machine-gun fire made him turn back. After shedding his body armor so he could press himself flat in a ditch, he crawled the last 200 feet to the wounded Soldiers. Taliban fire was so close that it sheared off the blades of tall grass around the ditch as he crawled. Finally reaching the two wounded Soldiers, he stabilized them and led the relief force back to safety.

Admiral Eric T. Olson, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, and Lt. Gen. Robert W. Wagner, commanding general of the Army Special Operations Command, presented the award to O'Connor.

Olson, who recounted the battle in his speech, described O'Connor's actions as legendary.

"Master Sgt. O'Connor exemplifies the spirit and ethos of these warriors," Olson said. "We stand in quiet awe and in the deepest admiration."

The ceremony marked only the second time the award has been presented to a Soldier for actions in Afghanistan.

O'Connor is assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group. The unit is based at Fort Bragg, home to the Army's Special Operations Command and the 82nd Airborne Division.

© Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Title: If I die before you wake
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 15, 2008, 02:50:51 PM
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 21, 2008, 02:16:25 PM
Getting one's mind right heading out is a part of action too:
Title: Ross McGinnis RIP
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 02, 2008, 10:31:21 PM
A Man in Full
June 3, 2008; Page A20
Next week on Flag Day, Army Private First Class Ross McGinnis would have turned 21 years old. Yesterday, President Bush presented his family with a posthumous Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for courage in combat. It was the fourth time the Medal has been awarded for those who have served in Iraq.

Associated Press Photo/Family photo via The Oil City Derrick 
Private First Class Ross Andrew McGinnis
In the gunner's hatch of a Humvee driving through Baghdad on December 4, 2006, Private McGinnis saw a grenade fly through the hatch, rolling to where it could have injured the four other soldiers inside. In easy position to leap and save himself, McGinnis instead jumped to cover the grenade with his body to shield his comrades.

The four men he saved were all at the White House yesterday to pay their respects. They and his parents, Thomas and Romayne McGinnis, knew Ross as one who, at 137 pounds and six feet tall, had barely outgrown his boyhood when he joined the Army on his 17th birthday, the first day he was eligible to enlist. The Knox, Pennsylvania native was known not to take things too seriously, the soldiers said – and yet in an instant he displayed the self-sacrifice that defines heroism in battle across generations. Although he didn't grow while he was in the Army, "he seemed to stand a lot taller," his father said. "He was a man."

All of America's men and women in uniform today are volunteers, and they have answered the call knowing they may be put in harm's way. "Supporting the troops" has become a mantra in our politics, but the true heroism of our soldiers goes beyond the slogans and politics to countless individual acts of courage under fire. At the moment it mattered, in a war worth fighting, Ross McGinnis honored America's finest traditions and our own better natures.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.

And add your comments to the Opinion
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 24, 2008, 02:19:42 AM
Capt. Ford's Drive To Victory In Afghanistan
By SEAN HIGGINS | Posted Friday, January 18, 2008 4:30 PM PT

Capt. Sheffield F. Ford III's mission in Kandahar, Afghanistan, sounded simple enough. It just wasn't easy.

"The specific goal was to re-establish order to a certain area," Ford, 36, said matter-of-factly during a phone interview from Fort Bragg, N.C., last month.

"Re-establish order" meant "drive out the Taliban." His forces would push them out of three villages.

Sheffield Ford poses near Afghanistan's Kajaki Dam in May 2006, a month before the bloody battle against terrorists led to his receiving a Silver Star.
The Taliban weren't going anywhere without a fight.

On June 23, 2006, Ford led his Army Special Forces unit and a contingent of Afghan soldiers in what was dubbed Operation Kaika.

It turned out to be a pitched, 2 1/2-day battle against a group of Islamist radicals vastly larger than the Americans had expected.

The coalition forces totaled 72 men. The Taliban had more than 200. At times Ford's men were surrounded on four sides. At other times the fight was so close, the enemy was yards away. "We were expecting some resistance, but not of that nature," Ford recalled. "They basically laid siege to us."

Despite the danger, chaos, exhaustion and fear, Ford led the coalition forces to a lopsided victory.

The battle claimed the lives of an estimated 125 terrorists and just five coalition soldiers: two Americans and three Afghan interpreters.

It was one of the largest battles in Afghanistan since the U.S. invasion of 2001. Last fall, Ford was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry.

"Capt. Ford's courageous actions and determined leadership in the face of an overwhelming attack by a well-armed and determined enemy force prevented the destruction of his circled detachment," reads the narrative accompanying the award.

It concludes: "His gallantry, dedication to duty and selfless sacrifice exemplified the warrior ethos."

Ford is a native of Dixon, Calif., a farming community near Sacramento. He joined the Army at age 17, eventually becoming a member of the elite Special Forces.

That took him to Afghanistan's Panjawi district in 2006. It's among the country's remotest places — where people live in mud huts and drive on nearly impassible roads.

It is also one of the most contested regions in that country. "It's just a constant battle there," Ford said.

Operation Kaika began because the Taliban were moving into farming villages. The terrorists gave villagers an ultimatum: Leave or support us. It was the middle of harvest season, and the locals couldn't afford to lose their grape crops.

Coalition troops intended to sweep in and roust the Taliban with a show of superior force. Afghan policemen would later guard against the Taliban's return.

The first part of the plan hit a firewall. The Taliban hit back hard against Ford's men. The terrorists had heavy weapons and sophisticated communications. Ford later learned that a senior Taliban commander was leading the attack.

It was like nothing the 18-year Army veteran had encountered. The Taliban in that region rarely attacked in that way.

The battle over the three days included three firefights totaling 17 hours of hard fighting.

The valor award's narrative reports that during the first fight, Ford led the attack from an exposed vehicle's turret gun: "Under an extraordinary volume of small arms, machine gun and rocket-propelled grenade fire, he remained in the exposed turret, ignoring the strikes of bullets and grenade fragments around him, accurately and calmly firing into the Taliban assault."

He did this while coordinating the rest of the defense and reporting its status to headquarters.

Ford fired from the exposed turret again the second day after the Taliban targeted a follow-up assault.

When the Taliban realized it outnumbered the coalition forces, other jihadists entered the fray. They were convinced they had the Americans cornered. "They were yelling and cursing at us, saying this time they were going to capture us," Ford recalled. "They told the Afghan soldiers to give up and leave."

He could call in air support, but the Taliban pressed in too closely. Ford and his men ran the risk of having themselves bombed.

An immediate risk was the perimeter. At one point only a three-foot-high wall separated some allied forces from the Taliban.

Coalitions troops were so desperate, they called in Afghan police for backup. The terrorists countered by ambushing the cops, who never made it to the coalition's position.

"That was how we knew we were surrounded," Ford said.

Again he maintained calm, coordinating the counterattack and ensuring that the defenders held the perimeter. Instead of hunkering down, they attacked the enemy. That helped them regain the initiative and push the Taliban back.

Through it all, said Ford, he was "most definitely" scared but refused to get rattled. He focused on protecting his men. He mostly succeeded, yet his master sergeant, Thomas Maholic, didn't make it.

"Anybody who would say they don't feel fear or get scared during such a battle, well, I couldn't believe them," Ford said. "With all emotions, it is how you control it and how you focus on what you are going through so you can have a positive outcome."

Ford says a major part of the mission's success was his team's communications. Yes, firepower, high-tech equipment, bravery and the air support that eventually came were crucial. But they would've been wasted if his forces couldn't coordinate counterattacks.

Communications involved more than making sure everybody received orders. The troops had to know what those orders were.

Confusion could have reigned, since only a dozen of Ford's men were American. The rest were Afghans, most of whom didn't speak English. The language barrier posed a serious danger.

That's why three of the coalition forces killed were interpreters. They had to be right there in the thick of the battle.

"Each one of the personnel on the (Special Forces) team has to be able to have those leadership capabilities in order to command their element of the indigenous (Afghan) forces," Ford explained. "So really it was the whole team coming together that made it successful and allowed us to survive."

Also key was bonding with the Afghan troops. The Americans trained with them constantly. They ate with them and struck up friendships to help build mutual respect.

"There's a term we use for soldiers who do a really good job: He's a fire-and-forget kind of guy," Ford said. "That means I can tell the guy the end state of what I want to be done and turn around and attend to other things because I know that it is going to get done."

That is the way the Afghan force was, he says. Despite the Taliban's threats, the local troops stuck by the Americans throughout the battle.

In addition to Ford, two other Americans, including Maholic, received the Silver Star for their actions in the battle. Three more received the Bronze Star.

The Special Forces commander, Maj. Gen. Thomas Csrnko, during the medal ceremony lauded Ford and others who stood up to the Taliban by staying that "each one of these men would simply say that they were doing their job and taking care of their fellow teammates."

Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 25, 2008, 09:22:26 PM
Title: Noonan: A day at at the beach
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 05, 2008, 02:28:04 PM

Peggy Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and a weekly columnist for the Journal's Weekend Edition and She is the author of seven books on politics and culture, most recently "John Paul the Great" (Viking, 2005) and "A Heart, A Cross, And A Flag: America Today," (Wall Street Journal Books), a collection of her essays. Ms. Noonan is a member of the board of the Manhattan Institute. She was a special assistant to President Reagan from 1984 through 1988. In 1988 she was chief speechwriter for Vice President George Bush as he ran for the presidency. Her first book, the best seller "What I Saw at the Revolution: A Political Life in the Reagan Era," was published in 1990. She is also author of "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" (1994), "On Speaking Well" (1998), and "The Case Against Hillary Clinton" (2000) and "When Character Was King" (2001). Ms. Noonan is an Emmy Award nominee for her work on the first all-network special following 9/11, "America, a Tribute to Heroes," and for her work on the television show "The West Wing."
Before entering the Reagan White House, she was a producer at CBS News in New York, where she wrote and produced hourly reports on CBS Radio and Dan Rather's daily radio commentary. She also wrote television news specials for CBS News. In 1978 and 1979 she was an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. She holds honorary doctorates from her alma mater, Fairleigh Dickinson University, and from St. John Fisher College, Adelphi University, Saint Francis College and Miami University. Ms. Noonan lives in New York.

A Day at the Beach
July 5, 2008; Page A11
It was May 1944, and 22-year-old John Whitehead of Montclair, N.J., an ensign on the USS Thomas Jefferson, was placed in charge of five of the landing craft for the invasion of Europe. Each would ferry 25 soldiers from the TJ, as they called it, onto the shore of France. John's landing site was to be a 50-yard stretch of shoreline dubbed Dog Red Beach. It fell near the middle of the sector called Omaha Beach, which in turn fell in the middle of the entire assault.

Americans land at Normandy, June 6, 1944
The TJ sailed to Portsmouth Harbor, which was jam-packed with ships. On June 1 the Army troops arrived, coming up the gangway one by one. "They were very quiet," John said this week. Word came on June 4 that they'd leave that night, but they were ordered back in a storm. The next morning, June 5, the rain was still coming down, but the seas were calmer. Around 8 that night, they cast off to cross the channel. The skies were dark, rain lashed the deck, and the TJ rolled in the sea. At midnight they dropped anchor nine miles off the French coast. They ate a big breakfast of eggs and bacon. At 2 a.m. the crew began lowering the Higgins boats—"a kind of floating boxcar, rectangular, with high walls"—over the side by crane. The soldiers had to climb down big nets to get aboard. "They had practiced, but as Eisenhower always said, 'In wartime, plans are only good until the moment you try to execute them.' "

The Higgins boats pitched in the choppy water. The soldiers, loaded down "like mountaineers" with rifles, flame throwers, radio equipment, artillery parts, tarps, food, water, "70 pounds in all"—had trouble getting from the nets to the boats. "I saw a poor soul slip from the net into the water. He sank like a stone. He just disappeared in the depths of the sea. There was nothing we could do." So they boarded the boats on the deck and hoisted them into the sea.

It took John's five little boats four hours to cover the nine miles to the beach. "They were the worst hours of our lives. It was pitch black, cold, and the rain was coming down in sheets, drenching us. The boats were being tossed in the waves, making all of us violently sick. We'd all been given the big breakfast. Hardly anyone could hold it down. Packed in like that, with the boat's high walls. A cry went up: 'For Christ's sake, do it in your helmet!' "

"Around 4 a.m. the dawn broke and a pale light spread across the sea, and now we could see that we were in the middle of an armada—every kind of boat, destroyers, probably the greatest array of sea power ever gathered."

Now they heard the sound, the deep boom of the shells from the battleships farther out at sea, shelling the beach to clear a path. Above, barely visible through clouds, they saw the transport planes pushing through to drop paratroopers from the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. "Those were brave men."

At 5 a.m. they were close enough to shore to see landmarks—a spit of land, a slight rise of a bluff. In front of them they saw some faster, sleeker British boats trying desperately to stay afloat in the choppy water. As the Americans watched, three of the boats flipped over and sank, drowning all the men. A British navigator went by in a different kind of boat. "He was standing up and he called out to my friend in a very jaunty British accent, 'I say, fellows, which way is it to Pointe du Hoc?' That was one of the landmarks, and the toughest beach of all. My friend yelled out that it was up to our right. 'Very good!' he cried out, and then went on by with a little wave of his hand."

Closer to shore, a furious din—"It was like a Fourth of July celebration multiplied by a thousand." By 6 a.m. they were 800 yards from shore. All five boats of the squadron had stayed together. The light had brightened enough that John could see his wristwatch. "At 6:20 I waved them in with a hard chop of my arm: Go!"

* * *

They faced a barrier, made a sharp left, ran parallel to the shore looking for an opening, got one, turned again toward the beach. They hit it, were in a foot or two of water. The impact jarred loose the landing ramps to release the soldiers as planned. But on John's boat, it didn't work. He scrambled to the bow, got a hammer, pounded the stuck bolt. The ramp crashed down and the soldiers lunged forth. Some were hit with shrapnel as they struggled through to the beach. Others made it to land only to be hit as they crossed it. The stuck ramp probably saved John's life. After he'd rushed forward to grab the hammer, he turned and saw the coxswain he'd been standing next to had been hit and killed by an incoming shell.

The troops of Omaha Beach took terrible fire. Half the soldiers from John's five boats were killed or wounded. "It was a horrible sight. But I had to concentrate on doing my job." To make room for the next wave of landings, they raised the ramp, backed out, turned around and sped back to the TJ. "I remember waving hello to the soldiers in the incoming boats, as if we were all on launches for a pleasure cruise. I remember thinking how odd that such gestures of civility would persist amid such horror."

Back at the TJ, he was told to take a second breakfast in the wardroom—white tablecloths, steward's mates asking if he'd like more. He thought it unreal: "from Dog Red Beach to the Ritz." He heard in the background the quiet boom of the liberation of Europe. Then back to a Higgins boat for another run at the beach. This time the ramp lowered, and he got off. Dog Red Beach was secure. The bodies of the dead and wounded had been carried up onto a rise below a bluff. He felt thankful he had survived. "Then I took a few breaths and felt elated, proud to have played a part in maybe the biggest battle in history."

* * *

John went on to landings in Marseilles, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. After he came home, he went on to chair Goldman Sachs, work in Ronald Reagan's State Department, and head great organizations such as the International Rescue Committee. He is, in that beautiful old phrase, a public citizen.

But if you asked him today his greatest moment, he'd say that day on the beach, when he was alive and grateful for it. "At that moment, dead tired, soaked to the skin, I would not have wanted to be anywhere else in the world."

It is silly to think one generation is "better" than another. No one born in 1920 is, by virtue of that fact, better than someone born in 1960. But it is true that each era has a certain mood, certain assumptions—in John's era, sacrifice—and each generation distinguishes itself in time, or doesn't. John's did. He himself did. And what better day than today to say: Thanks, John.
Title: Combat Barbie
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 13, 2008, 03:54:15 AM
I don't know how to post the fotos, but she definitely is an attractive woman. :-)

Katrina Hodge is a part-time model and a soldier in the British Army
A female soldier who once fought off a suspected Iraqi insurgent has won a place in the final of Miss England.
Katrina Hodge, 21, will participate in the contest in July, having already won the Miss Tunbridge Wells crown.
L/Cpl Hodge was nicknamed Combat Barbie in 2005 after being given a bravery commendation for saving the lives of members of her regiment in Iraq.
They were held at gunpoint when their vehicle overturned but L/Cpl Hodge punched the gunman and took his rifles.
She said: "I was in complete shock at first. The force of the accident caused our vehicle to roll over three times and threw us off guard.
"As I came round, the Iraqi suspect was standing over us with the rifles. I knew if I didn't act fast then our lives would be in danger.
"I punched him and the force startled him enough for me to retrieve the rifles from him."
Miss Hodge, a military clerk with The Adjutant General's Corps, will go on to appear at Miss World 2008 if she wins the English title.
"I was delighted to have been selected for the Miss England final and it is a great honour," she added.
"Being a part-time model and a serving soldier is certainly a world apart. I want to use this competition to highlight the work that the Army are doing and what they have done for this country."
She is currently serving at Frimley Park Hospital in Camberley and will take part in the Miss England national finals on Friday.
Here is the original article describing what happened:

Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 December 2005, 15:52 GMT 
Female soldier's bravery honour

 Pte Hodge's battalion is now back in the UK after serving in Iraq

A female soldier has been honoured after risking her life to disarm an Iraqi prisoner.
Pte Katrina Hodge, 18, from Tunbridge Wells in Kent, carried out her act of bravery while serving with the 1st Battalion, Royal Anglian Regiment.

She managed to restrain and disarm an Iraqi man who had got hold of two weapons after being detained in Basra.

Ms Hodge's instinctive actions have led to a commendation from the commanding officer of her unit.
Her bravery is even more remarkable because she had just been involved in a road crash.

'Adrenaline rush'
"We detained an Iraqi suspect and on the way back to our base our vehicle was in a road traffic accident and it rolled over three times," she said.

"When it came to a halt I suddenly realised that the suspect had my weapon and the other soldier's weapon.
"I just looked at him and in that split second I thought 'oh my God, he's going to kill me'.

"But my instinct came in and I thought 'I'll just whack him'. "It was just a big adrenaline rush and I had to do something."

Ms Hodge has been dubbed Combat Barbie by her colleagues ever since turning up for her army basic training with "two pink suitcases, a pair of pink kitten heels, a pink coat and blonde hair".

Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 28, 2008, 09:09:59 AM
British soldier and his faithful friend die side-by-side in Afghanistan

Lance Corporal Ken Rowe and his sniffer dog Sasha have been named as those killed in a Taliban ambush in Helmand. Sean Rayment met them days before they died.

By Sean Rayment
Last Updated: 12:04PM BST 27 Jul 2008

Lance Corporal Ken Rowe was waiting for the patrol to assemble close to the rear gate of Forward Operating Base Inkerman, high in the Upper Sangin Valley.

With him was Sasha, a yellow Labrador, with a friendly face and a tail that never stopped wagging.

The pair were accompanying a routine early morning patrol, with 4 platoon, B Company of the 2nd Bn Parachute Regiment (2Para) into the Green Zone, a notorious Taliban stronghold, which begins only a few hundred yards from the walls of the isolated base.

As part of a three-week embed with the British Army in Helmand, I joined the patrol last Monday morning just as dawn was breaking over the Helmand desert.

Like many of the 30 soldiers who formed up for the patrol, I was immediately drawn to Sasha. I let her smell my hand before patting her head and tickling her ear. Sasha looked up, her face almost smiling, enjoying the attention.

"Lovely dog", I said to L/Cpl Rowe, "She's the best", he said. We then chatted about the merits of "explosives search dogs" in Helmand.

"They're a major asset," said L/Cpl Rowe. "The soldiers love having them on patrol They can find explosives and weapons, even the presence of weapons, so out here they are a really useful tool and the soldiers like having them around as well - and the Taliban don't."

As we chatted, other soldiers went through the same ritual. Lots of pats and "hello girl" from the troops as they moved forward to load their weapons. It was as though the presence of a dog was a reminder of home, something familiar and unthreatening, in a hostile and violent world. It was imperceptible, but I could almost sense the soldiers' morale lifting as it became clear that L/Cpl Rowe and Sasha were joining the patrol.

Then, for a split second, all of those hours of obedience training gave way to instinct when Sasha caught sight of one of the many leopard-like feral cats that roam the base.
Sasha disappeared, without a sound in a cloud of dust, chasing the cat around the camp. We all laughed quietly. "Who'd be a dog handler?", L/Cpl Rowe said to himself, slightly embarrassed by his dog's momentary lapse of self-control.

Sasha came back, head bowed, knowing that she had erred. L/Cpl Rowe attached the lead and said "sit!". The dog obeyed, and then, in an act of affection, let her body rest against the side of her master's leg. "She's saying sorry", said L/Cpl Rowe.
The patrol took us through a local hamlet called Saregar, which the soldiers had dubbed the "Star Wars Village", and then into the Green Zone, where they began searching a series of compounds for Taliban weapons and explosives.

It is difficult and dangerous work, and the dog handlers, who are attached to units from the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, share exactly the same risks.

The threat from Improvised Explosive Devices and so-called legacy mines from the Soviet occupation, is ever present, and rather than stand and fight, the Taliban now "shoot and scoot", according to the soldiers.

The dangers in this part of Helmand are now so great that the soldiers paraphrase the mantra used by the IRA during the 30 years of The Troubles.

"The Taliban only have to be lucky once but we have to be lucky all the time", Sergeant Wayne Sykes, told me as we patrolled through the Green Zone, waiting for the Taliban to attack.

Luck ran out for L/Cpl Rowe, 24, and Sasha last Thursday, when during another identical routine patrol through the Green Zone, both he and Sasha were killed instantly by automatic fire in a Taliban ambush. Six other soldiers were also injured.
L/Cpl Rowe and Sasha had died together as they had served together, side by side.

I was shocked when told of L/Cpl Rowe's death. Like many who knew him, my first instinct was that it must have been a mistake. Then the realisation dawned and it seemed almost impossible that someone you had been chatting to a few days earlier had now gone for ever.
Title: Sgt Claude
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 09, 2008, 03:39:13 AM
Profiles of valor: USA Sgt. Claude
In September 2007, United States Army Sergeant Charles Claude Jr. was on patrol in Mosul, Iraq, as the turret gunner in an M1117 Guardian Armored Security Vehicle (ASV). Claude’s convoy noticed an IED ahead and sent forward troops to neutralize it as quickly as possible. As soon as it was disabled, however, insurgents attacked from all directions with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades. Sgt. Claude fired back, taking out two insurgent vehicles—known as “technicals” —before being hit himself by a barrage of fire. His vehicle commander was also wounded. But Claude fought on despite his wound, and despite the fact that the sights of his machine gun were destroyed by enemy fire. Then, in close-quarters fighting, an insurgent jumped onto Claude’s vehicle. While the driver tried to throw the insurgent off, Claude spun his turret toward the enemy and ended the threat. As the area was secured, Claude continued to ignore his wound while providing defensive cover. Later it was discovered that the two disabled enemy “technicals” were mobile weapons caches, and they were no longer in the hands of terrorists. Sgt. Claude’s courageous actions that day saved numerous American lives and turned the tables on an enemy ambush. He was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 12, 2008, 03:38:50 PM
Woof All:

I suppose there are other threads where the following WSJ piece could have been placed, but I feel like putting it here.  God bless our troops and our profound gratitude for what they have done for us.


The War in Iraq Is Over.
What Next?
August 12, 2008; Page A21


The war I witnessed for more than five years in Iraq is over. In July, there were five American fatalities in Iraq, the lowest since the war began in March 2003. In Mosul recently, I chatted with shopkeepers on the same corner where last January a Humvee was blown apart in front of me. In the Baghdad district of Ghazilia -- where last January snipers controlled streets awash in human waste -- I saw clean streets and soccer games. In Basra, the local British colonel was dining at a restaurant in the center of the bustling city.

For the first time in 15 trips across the country, I didn't hear one shot or a single blast from a roadside bomb. In Anbar Province, scene of the fiercest fighting during the war, the tribal sheiks insisted to Barack Obama on his recent visit that the U.S. Marines had to stay because they were the most trusted force.

The war turned around in late 2006 because American troops partnered with Iraqi forces and tribal auxiliaries to protect the population. Feeling safe, the population informed on the militias and terrorists living among them. Then, in the spring of 2008, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki attacked the Mahdi militia of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr that controlled Basra and half of Baghdad. The militia crumbled under pressure from Iraqi soldiers backed by coalition intelligence and air assets.

The threat in Iraq has changed from a full-scale insurgency into an antiterror campaign. Al Qaeda in Iraq is entrenched in northern Mosul, where it may take 18 months to completely defeat them. By employing what he calls his "Anaconda Strategy," Gen. David Petraeus is squeezing the life out of al Qaeda in Iraq. The mafia-style militia of Sadr has been splintered.

The competition among Iraqi politicians has shifted from violence to politics, albeit yielding a track record as poor as that of our own Congress. After failing for two years to deliver basic services, both Shiite and Sunni politicians are stalling on legislation to hold provincial elections because many of them will be defeated. While irritating, these political games have not blocked U.S. gains.

Americans should praise rather than slight our military's achievements. Civil war has been averted. The Iraqi army has thrown the militia out of the port of Um Qasar, thus ensuring stable oil exports. Al Qaeda fought to make Iraq its base in the Arab Middle East. Instead, it is being hunted down.

Iran has emerged as the major threat to stability in Iraq. While its goal was to control a weak Iraq after the American army was driven out, Tehran overplayed its hand. Iran supplied the rockets to attack Iraqi politicians in Baghdad in April and supported Sadr's militia. But hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Shiites died fighting Iranians in the '80s, and those memories are still fresh. In southern Maysan Province, American and Iraqi units are waiting to hunt down terrorists returning from Iranian training camps. Iraq, backed by some American forces in remote desert bases, is poised to emerge as a regional counterweight to Iran.

Yet the progress in Iraq is most threatened by a political promise in the U.S. to remove all American combat brigades, against the advice of our military commanders. Iraqi volunteers working for a nonsectarian political party in Baghdad asked me, "Is America giving up its goals?" It's an unsettling question.

With victory in sight, why would we quit? The steady -- but not total -- withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq is freeing up forces to fight in Afghanistan. But Afghanistan is not the central front in the war on terror. Al Qaeda is hiding in Pakistan, a nation we are not going to invade.

The Iraqis aren't yet confident enough to stand entirely on their own; al Qaeda's savagery still imposes too much fear, while Iran is training terrorists next door. In counterinsurgency, the people must know they are protected. Gen. Petraeus has proven that intimidation can be defeated by placing American soldiers among the population. Wars are won by confidence, but also by procedures that take time to mature; and the Iraqi offensive against Sadr's militia in Basra last April revealed an atrocious Iraqi command and control system.

We are withdrawing as conditions permit. For instance, in the infamous Triangle of Death south of Baghdad, Col. Dominic Caraccilo has spread his rifle companies across 22 police precincts. Over the next year, he plans to pull out two of every three companies, leaving the population protected by Iraqi forces, backed by a thin screen of American soldiers.

If implemented on a countrywide scale, this model would reduce the American presence from 15 to five brigades over the next few years. They can be comprised of artillerymen, motor transport and civil affairs as well as infantrymen. By calling these residual forces "Transition Teams," we can remove the political argument in the U.S. about the exact number of combat brigades, and allow our commanders flexibility in adjusting force levels. This change of names rather than of missions is a way to save face and bring Americans closer together.

The problem is not American force levels in Iraq. It is divisiveness at home. While our military has adapted, our society has disconnected from its martial values. I was standing beside an Iraqi colonel one day in war-torn Fallujah when a tough Marine patrol walked by. "You Americans," he said, "are the strongest tribe."

But we cast aspersions on ourselves. The success of our military should not be begrudged to gain transitory political advantage.

In 1991, our nation held a parade after our military liberated Kuwait. Over the course of more than five hard years, our troops have brought stability and freedom to 25 million Iraqis, while crushing al Qaeda in Iraq. Regardless of disagreement about initiating the war back in 2003, Americans should unite to applaud the success of our troops in 2008.

A stable Iraq keeps faith with the million American soldiers who fought there, sets back Iran's aggression, and makes our enemies in Afghanistan and elsewhere fear us. It's time we stopped debating about yesterday and displayed national pride in our soldiers.

Mr. West is a former assistant secretary of defense and combat Marine. His third book on the Iraq war, "The Strongest Tribe: War, Politics and the Endgame in Iraq," is out today from Random House.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 15, 2008, 08:44:04 AM
A Fight to the Finish
August 15, 2008; Page A13

The Strongest Tribe
By Bing West
(Random House, 417 pages, $28)

"Imagine the scene. You are tired, sweaty, filthy. You've been at it day after day, with four hours' sleep, running down hallways, kicking in doors, rushing in, sweeping the beam of the flashlight on your rifle into the far corners. . . . there's a flash and the firing hammers your ears. You can't hear a thing and it's way too late to think. The jihadist rounds go high -- the death blossom -- and your M4 is suddenly steady. It has been bucking slightly as you jerked and squeezed through your 30 rounds, not even knowing you were shooting. Trained instinct. . . . 'Out! Out!' Your fire team leader is screaming in your face. . . . [He] already has a grenade in his hand, shaking it violently to get your attention. . . . He pulls the pin, plucks off the safety cap, and chucks it underhand into the smoky room."

This is what an ambush felt like, for an American soldier, in Fallujah in 2004. Bing West was there, going house to house with the U.S. Marines. Unlike so many Iraq-war commentators, Mr. West has seen the fierce fighting in Iraq at close range. "The Strongest Tribe" is, in part, his attempt to capture the experience of the men with the boots and the guns -- the rank-and-file U.S. infantry whose skills and sacrifices have brought the long, bloody American campaign in Iraq to the brink of victory. Over five years, Mr. West has traveled with 60 U.S. and Iraqi battalions and interviewed 2,000 soldiers, mostly in Baghdad and Anbar province, the heartland of al Qaeda's insurgency. His chronicle is full of eyewitness accounts of nerve-wracking patrols, improvised-explosive detonations and small-unit gunfights.

But Mr. West, who served in Vietnam as a Marine infantry officer, is more than a battlefield observer. He is a military analyst who wants to show how counterinsurgency works. Specifically, he wants to explain how the "surge" of the past 18 months has proved to be such a success.

By any historical standard, Mr. West argues, the average U.S. grunt is the model of humane professionalism and, when challenged in open combat, ruthless military efficiency. It enrages him that defeatist American critics seize on isolated incidents such as the Abu Ghraib prison fiasco and civilian deaths in Haditha to portray American soldiers as war criminals. "No nation," he writes, "ever fought a more restrained and honorable war."

Given the quality of the American fighting man, why has it taken this long to subdue the al Qaeda terrorists infesting Anbar and the Shiite death squads terrorizing Baghdad's Sunnis? The most obvious and vexing problem, Mr. West argues, is that U.S. soldiers have had trouble distinguishing insurgents from the civilian population until the enemy actually opens fire or detonates an IED.

Cultivating a network of informants would have solved the problem early in the war. But until 2007 few Iraqis came forward: Civilians who collaborated with the Americans were targeted for grisly death as soon as the U.S. military moved on to the next hot spot. For similar reasons, Iraq's police and army units had difficulty attracting reliable recruits. Only when jihadists overplayed their hand by killing influential sheiks and treating their daughters as concubines did Sunni powerbrokers turn against al Qaeda wholesale.

A second problem, Mr. West argues, was Washington's counterinsurgency strategy, which he portrays as fundamentally incoherent. Donald Rumsfeld, the defense secretary until November 2006, was focused from the get-go on bringing the troops home and insisted that "the U.S. military doesn't do nation- building." But President Bush declared a broader mission: to transform Iraq into a peaceful, stable, pluralistic society.

The contradiction between the two philosophies was resolved only in late 2006, when Mr. Bush decisively backed the surge strategy, which gave American generals the extra brigades they needed to secure Baghdad and its environs. American soldiers were required to deploy to small outposts in the heart of insurgent neighborhoods, which would then be methodically cleared, block-by-block, using classic grass-roots counterinsurgency techniques.

Even Mr. Bush's overarching dream of bringing democracy to Iraq was ill-conceived, Mr. West says, at least in the short run. In exile, Shiite dissidents had spoken the language of human rights and tolerance. Once in power -- the 2005 election was in effect a sectarian census dominated by the majority Shiites -- they ensconced themselves in Baghdad's Green Zone and busied themselves with palace intrigues and corrupt empire-building. The Interior Ministry, which controls Iraq's police, developed an open alliance with Moqtada al-Sadr's brutal Shiite militias. Elements within the Iraqi Army likewise acted as a sentry service for Shiite death squads. It was "misleading," Mr. West says, for Mr. Bush and others "to extol Iraqi leaders, and it was calumny to compare them to America's Founding Fathers."

Things might have unfolded differently, Mr. West suggests. From the insurgency's early days in 2003, some U.S. commanders tried to cut deals with sheiks, bribe ad hoc tribal militias to keep the peace and inject U.S. capital into local economic projects. But with a few exceptions, these initiatives were undercut by the Coalition Provisional Authority and then by the Iraqi government, both of which wanted to centralize power in Baghdad. It was only in late 2006, with the rise of the Sunni "awakening" movement -- whereby the Sunnis themselves turned against the al Qaeda operatives in their midst -- that Washington realized the solution in Iraq had to be bottom-up instead of top-down.

The tragedy of Iraq is that the war's architects took three years to learn the lessons that many on-the-ground military commanders had gravitated to instinctively. During this dark period, it was only thanks to the professionalism and staying power of America's much-abused warrior class that the country was able to avoid an epic defeat in the heartland of the Arab Middle East. Bing West's "The Strongest Tribe" deserves to be read as an authoritative testament to this historic achievement.

Mr. Kay is managing editor for comment at Canada's National Post newspaper.
Title: Bronze Star: USN PO Hamill
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 15, 2008, 08:58:13 AM
Second post of the day
Patriot Post

Profiles of valor: USN Petty Officer Hamill
In February 2007, then-Petty Officer James Hamill of the United States Navy was the command photographer assigned by the Provincial Reconstruction Team to document the opening of the Khost Provincial Hospital Emergency Room in Khost, Afghanistan. The hospital was a sign of progress in the dangerous Afghan province, and, therefore, a natural target for the enemy. Intelligence provided some warning of a possible suicide attack, but the event continued as planned. At the event, a suicide bomber dressed as a doctor did indeed sneak through the Afghan police’s outer security perimeter. An American soldier became suspicious, however, and stopped the supposed doctor. When he saw the explosive vest, he tackled the bomber. As the two wrestled, the alarm was sounded. It was then that Hamill dropped his camera in favor of his rifle. And not a moment too soon. The bomber was able to free himself and charged ahead, but Hamill stood his ground. He opened fire less than 10 feet away, hitting the bomber repeatedly, though as he fell, the bomber detonated himself. Hamill took shrapnel to the abdomen. Six other Americans were also injured, but no one was killed. Hamill ignored his wounds and helped perform life-saving aid on the other injured soldiers, as well as securing the area to prevent a follow-up attack. Hamill’s actions that day helped save many lives. For his “extraordinary heroism” and “total dedication to duty” he was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 17, 2008, 10:34:51 AM
Secret work of SAS in Iraq exposed

The secret work of SAS troops battling Al Qa'eda terrorists in Iraq has been exposed by the American commander in the country.

By Thomas Harding, Defence Correspondent
Last Updated: 11:14PM BST 11 Aug 2008

British special forces had played an "immense" role in taking out terrorist bomb-making cells and insurgent leaders over the last five years, said Gen David Petraeus.

In one incident the SAS blended into the heavy Baghdad traffic by hiring a pink pick-up truck and removing their military clothing to capture a terrorist, the general said.

"They have helped immensely in the Baghdad area, in particular, to take down the al-Qaeda car bomb networks and other al-Qaeda operations in Iraq's capital city, so they have done a phenomenal job in that regard," he said.

The exposure of SAS exploits is unusual as the Ministry of Defence very rarely comments on special forces operations giving little insight.

The SAS has been operating from Baghdad since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 carrying out strike operations against insurgents.

Very little is known about the success of their missions but Gen Petraeus indicated yesterday that working alongside their American colleagues in Delta Force the British had had a significant impact in defeating Al Qa'eda in Iraq.

The SAS had played a key part in defeating a network of car bombers in Baghdad that had brought devastation to the capital.

Quoting the Special Air Service motto "Who Dares Wins" the general said there had been numerous successes on many "very important operations".

"They have exceptional initiative, exceptional skill, exceptional courage and, I think, exceptional savvy. I can't say enough about how impressive they are in thinking on their feet," said Gen Petraeus, the main architect of "surge" strategy that has seen a substantial decrease in violence with the influx of extra American troops.

The SAS, working alongside MI6, the Special Reconnaissance Regiment and the Special Forces Support Group, are based in The Station, a high security area in Baghdad's Green Zone.
SAS snipers have been extremely successful shooting dead suicide bombers about to detonate their devices and troopers have called in clinical air strikes to kill terror chiefs known as "high value targets".

Officers have said Baghdad is one of the "most challenging" environments the unit has ever faced in the world.
It is thought the troops have killed hundreds of insurgents both in Baghdad and when they have been called down to Basra to assist regular British troops.

But British special forces have paid a high price for their success in Iraq with 10 killed and scores seriously wounded, with some losing limbs.

Among the biggest cause of casualties has been from abseiling out of helicopters while carrying more than 100lbs of equipment. The troops now have a designated physiotherapist.
Last month a coroner allowed the naming of Tpr Lee Fitzsimmons and Sgt John Battersby who were killed when their RAF Puma helicopter crashed near the Baghdad suburb of Salman Pak.

Another SAS soldier Nick Brown died during a firefight with Shia fighters in Baghdad on 26 March when he was part of a team sent in to arrest a militia commander.

American commanders have also said SAS troops have been used to hunt for the five British hostage who were seized from a Finance Ministry building in Baghdad in May last year.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 01, 2008, 10:32:46 AM
Profiles of valor: USA 1st Lt. Pixler
In October 2007, then-First Lieutenant Ross Pixler of the United States Army Company A, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division was on patrol in al Bawi, Iraq, when his Bradley Fighting Vehicle was hit by an IED. The ensuing explosion killed three fellow soldiers and wounded Pixler, the driver and the gunner. Pixler, acting on his training, immediately checked on the driver and gunner, both of whom were unconscious, and then took up a defensive position. “Everything goes really fast, and I wasn’t really stopping to think about what I was doing,” he said. “I was doing what I was trained to do.” Still reeling from his concussion, Pixler and the rest of his unit had to fight off a small arms attack; Pixler directed air support as well.

Hours later, as the attack was repelled, Pixler and the other survivors were loaded onto another Bradley and began moving toward base when another IED exploded, crippling that vehicle. The soldiers then fought off a second attack before finally making it back to their base. For his bravery and tenacity while injured and under attack, Pixler was awarded the Silver Star. Now-Captain Pixler considers it “an award for every single one of the soldiers that were out there, and the ones that can’t come home.”
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 03, 2008, 12:38:55 PM
Profiles of valor: USMC LCpl McLeese
On 16 September 2004, United States Marine Corps Lance Corporal Justin McLeese was riding in a convoy traveling to a compound in central Iraq when his Humvee flipped off the road in the rough, gravel terrain. He was thrown 20 feet from the vehicle but immediately went back to help those trapped inside. McLeese pulled two fellow Marines from the wreckage, including his platoon sergeant. The platoon then lifted the Humvee off the ground to save a third Marine stuck underneath.

It was in Fallujah later that year, though, where McLeese really proved his mettle. As his team was clearing numerous buildings in the city on 11 November, they engaged and killed four enemy fighters. One insurgent had faked his death, however, and tried to engage the Marines from a nearby room. McLeese acted quickly, eliminating the threat with a shotgun blast. Two days later, upon entering another building in Fallujah, McLeese was hit numerous times by enemy fire. Despite his wounds, he continued to fight alongside his comrades until he was fatally wounded by an IED explosion. For his courage and tenacity under fire, McLeese posthumously received the Bronze Star.
Title: Civil Affairs Team 745
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 17, 2008, 08:26:53 AM
Partriot Post

Profiles of valor: Civil Affairs Team 745
United States Army Sgt. 1st Class Drew Kimmey, Capt. Stephen Ward and Staff Sgt. Carlo Alcazar, members of Civil Affairs Team 745, were recently recognized for their daring rescue of a Special Forces team leader during an Afghanistan mission last November. CA Team 745 was stationed at Firebase Cobra in Oruzgan, Afghanistan, alongside special operations detachments from the 3rd Special Forces Group, as well as personnel from the Afghan National Army and National Police. The teams left to provide humanitarian aid to a nearby village, only to discover that the village had already been evacuated. Ward noted that “the buildings had locks and barricaded doors, which was a clear indication that the village wasn’t abandoned, but had been turned into a defendable position.” Indeed, 300 Taliban fighters soon engaged the teams in a firefight.

After an hour of fighting, two Army disabled vehicles were pulled to the rear of the fight, leaving the ground forces commander in front of coalition lines, pinned down in a vulnerable building. Ward, Alcazar and Kimmey used their vehicle to get to the commander for a rescue but crashed into an enemy position, rendering their vehicle immobile. Ward and Alcazar were momentarily knocked unconscious in the crash. When they recovered, Alcazar began reloading ammunition belts so that Kimmey, the gunner, could continue pounding enemy fighters. Ward directed the effort to reach the ground commander under Kimmey’s cover fire. The unit remained under “continual, accurate and effective” enemy fire but managed to rescue the commander nonetheless. Once out of the building, team 745 stripped their vehicle to prevent the enemy from obtaining anything and ran beside a Special Forces vehicle for cover, there being no room for them on the truck.

For their bravery and heroic acts that day, Sgt. Kimmey, Capt. Ward and Staff Sgt. Alcazar were each awarded the Bronze Star with Combat “V” for valor.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 22, 2008, 04:46:13 PM

75th Ranger Regiment Soldier awarded Silver Star
By Staff Sgt. Andrew Kosterman
1st Special Forces Group (Airborne)

FORT LEWIS, Wash. (USASOC News Service, Sept. 27, 2008) – What began as a mission to find and eliminate terrorists earlier this year in Iraq ended up being a life-defining moment for one member of 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.

Spc. Joe Gibson
Spc. Joe Gibson was on a secret night mission Apr. 26, 2008 when he placed his comrades’ lives ahead of his while evacuating wounded American Soldiers and engaging in hand-to-hand combat with a suicide bomber.  His actions that day saved the lives of fellow Rangers.

The attention brought from the awarding of the nation’s third highest medal for valor makes Gibson feel slightly “uncomfortable,” and is quick to point out the achievements of his brothers in arms.

“I am honored to be here with those other guys that got honored,” said Gibson following an awards ceremony for members of the unit.

The medal was presented to Gibson by Adm. Eric Olson, commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command.  With the stoic look many Rangers have from multiple combat tours, Gibson stood tall when presented the medal.  Before presenting Gibson and other Rangers medals for their actions in combat, Olson lauded the men of the 75th Ranger Regiment.

“You are a special breed, we ask a lot of you and for that the nation and I thank you,” said Olson.  “Rangers are proven over and over again in battle.  Rangers are glorified in Hollywood movies, but you aren’t actors, you are real men who make real sacrifices”

Olson added that Gibson’s actions during the mission for which he was awarded “exemplify and uphold the warrior culture of the Rangers.”


As the helicopter full of Rangers touched down that April night, Gibson and fellow Soldiers found themselves dodging enemy small arms fire less than 50 meters away.  Gibson’s platoon sergeant said the enemy small arms and machine gun fire began “less than a minute” after the group disembarked the helicopter.

“The contact was heavy where Spc. Gibson was,” said the platoon sergeant.  “We took 2 casualties there.”

He described the setting as “a very dark night, out in the middle of nowhere with no ambient light, chest high grass, deep irrigation ditches.”

Among the two casualties the Rangers sustained was a life threatening gun shot wound victim. 

“The guy that got hit is a real good friend of mine, and he called out to me,” said Gibson.  “Me and another guy moved to him.  I had the medical equipment, so I started getting that prepped while other people started taking care of him.  We got him ready for (evacuation), patched him up and started moving him out.”

Transporting the casualty over an uneven field with irrigation ditches and through enemy fire was a challenge for the Rangers.

“Moving him out was horrible. It was the most ‘smoked’ I’ve ever been.  It was physically demanding,” said Gibson.

The Rangers’ dedication to each other motivated Gibson to get his friend to safety. 

“It was my buddy, I didn’t want to quit,” said Gibson. “For a while, it was just me on one end of the litter.”

Gibson’s actions are credited with saving the Soldier’s life.  The Soldier returned home safely to see his wife and newborn.


After assisting in the medical evacuation, Gibson and the Rangers continued on with their mission.  They began to clear a field with tall grass and canals near the helicopter landing zone.  The Rangers knew enemy was still in the area even though most had fled when the Soldiers touched down.  While clearing the field, Gibson stepped on a terrorist hiding in a ditch under some grass.

“I really didn’t think it was a person that I stepped on because I thought it was just another part of the ground, maybe some trash or something,” said Gibson.

Initially, Gibson continued for a few more steps past the terrorist.  Following his gut instinct, Gibson turned around investigate what he stepped on.  The terrorist moved to kill Gibson and the Rangers.

“He didn’t say anything other than giving his war cry,” explained Gibson.  “He had an advantage on me.  I didn’t have a chance to get my weapon ready and I knew he was gonna shoot me, so I dived on him.”

Gibson grabbed the muzzle of the terrorist’s rifle as the terrorist began to fire.  Gibson wrestled the terrorist to the ground and gained positional control.  He struggled and later stripped the terrorist of his weapon.  After stripping the terrorist of the weapon, the terrorist gripped Gibson’s rifle.  Without the ability to use a firearm, Gibson engaged the enemy with his hands.

“Then he ripped off my helmet and all my (night vision) optics, so I couldn’t see all that well,” recalled Gibson.

The terrorist then began to reach for something hiding in his clothing.

“I stopped him ‘cause I thought maybe he was grabbing a knife to attack me with,” said Gibson.

The terrorist was reaching for the detonator to his suicide vest.  The terrorist screamed “bomb!” in English.

“I thought at that moment that I was probably going to die,” explained Gibson.

As Gibson worked to stop the terrorist from detonating his vest, the terrorist had maneuvered into a position that was cutting off Gibson’s circulation.  Gibson, in an effort to save himself, began to hit the terrorist as hard as he could.  His blows rendered the terrorist unconscious. 

“I got my weapon into his stomach and fired,” said Gibson.  “And he came back to conscious after that, I knew I got him.  I stood up and neutralized him.”


The native of Yale, Okla. explains that he was just doing what he was supposed to do and that he thinks he doesn’t deserve any special recognition.  Gibson said he is honored to serve as a Ranger and have save his fellow Soldier’s life.  Gibson added that he “can’t wait” to return to Iraq.  Following the incident, Gibson re-enlisted to fight with the Ranger platoon he accompanied that night.
Title: Hand to hand!
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 20, 2008, 08:42:35 AM
Training at hand
Fighting in Iraq, one soldier decides he isn?t going to die lying down

By Staff Sgt. Paul McCully

The following story was told by infantryman Staff Sgt. Paul McCully, 24,
during a post-action interview for the Army Combatives School.

On June 1, 2005, at about 2 a.m., my platoon was staged by the main gate of
Forward Operating Base Courage in Mosul, Iraq, as the quick-reaction force
for our battalion.

We received a call that Iraqi commandos were conducting a raid on a
suspected insurgent safe house. When the commandos entered the house they
found one male, one nude female and next to them was a bomb.

They immediately left the house because of the bomb and sat outside in the
middle of the street and wherever they could while they waited for us to
come and secure the objective. There were guys sleeping, smoking cigarettes
and just hanging around. There were at least 100 of these commandos.

When we showed up, it was a blind hit. All the Iraqi commandos told us was
that they had taken fire from that building earlier. They left out that it
was a safe house for bad guys and that the people who had been there had
jumped the roof to the next house.

At the home of the bomb couple, my team was the second in to secure the
first floor and establish a foothold. Once we cleared the house, my platoon
sergeant stepped on what seemed to be a loose tile in the kitchen floor.

When we removed it we found a large cache of rocket-propelled grenades,
ammo, U.S. government-issued C4 explosive, two-way radios and multiple
weapons systems, but no people.

Since the roof was connected to the roof of the house behind the one we were
in, the call was made to move around and clear that house, too. Once my team
moved into position to breach the second house, we were given the word to
move and secure it.

Immediately upon entry, we were confronted by about 20 men, women and
children, who were all awake and seemed scared. The fact that they were
bunched together like that was a red flag that something was not right.

Once we secured the first floor, my team moved in to secure the group of
people so we could move up to the next floor and to the roof entrance.

The door was barricaded from the inside with a bed frame to keep people from
coming in. Once we managed to move the barricade, we stacked on the door and
proceeded to clear the roof.

I was the second man in the stack, and Sgt. Joshua Owens was first.

We were spread thin, so we mixed our teams to keep the forward momentum.

Owens went out and turned right. I followed him and went left, but there was
a wall, so I fanned right to cover Owens.

We were only a couple of steps outside the door; I was just to the left of
Owens, and about two seconds had passed by, when a bright flash lit us up.

I wasn?t sure what had happened, I just knew I was laid out on my stomach,
and I couldn?t feel my hands or legs. I could hear Owens screaming, and I
was checking myself to see if I was physically intact when another explosion
went off, a hand grenade, but it wasn?t as loud as the first one.

I felt the shrapnel impact my helmet but was still in a daze and confused as
to what was going on.

Then I felt something that seemed to be tapping my helmet and everything
sounded muffled.

My initial thought was that it was my guys pulling me out of there, but when
I looked up, everything came back to me ? sound, reality, cleared vision.

There was a bad guy standing over me.

I was looking up at him and expecting him to unload his AK47 on me, but he
was screaming and butt-stroking me in the head.

The second I realized that it wasn?t my guys, I got up as fast as I could
and grabbed his AK muzzle with my right hand and his shirt on his right
shoulder with my left hand.

I don?t even remember placing my hands on the ground to push myself up; it
just seemed like I floated up ? that?s how fast it happened.

After I grabbed him and his weapon, I was jerking it in an outward motion
but making sure to keep the muzzle away from me.

After what seemed to be two or three seconds, I got the AK out of his hands
and on the ground to the right of me a couple of feet. I had finally jerked
it free, and it went flying.

He tried to dive for the AK, but I grabbed him and went to the clinch with
him to control him. A clinch is when you control a person?s upper body by
placing both your hands around his neck. Our bodies were close together; I
had his hair in my right hand, pushing his head down, and my left hand was
controlling his left shoulder.

I immediately started throwing right uppercuts and knees to [mess] him up.

I did that because I thought that there were more of my own guys behind me,
but it turns out that Owens and I were the only ones to make it outside
before the initial explosion. The No. 3 and No. 4 men got blown back into
the building.

After I threw the blows, I held on to him with the shirt and hair and
extended my arms to allow the guys who I thought were behind me to have a
clear shot. But that never happened. It seemed like I was alone, and nobody
was there to help me.

He was screaming stuff about Allah as I continued to hit him as he was
struggling to get to his weapon. Owens came running up to me with his pistol
drawn. He had lost his M4 rifle in the blast also, so he pulled his M9

He came up to my right side, right next to me so he wouldn?t shoot me in the
struggle. Right as he fired one shot into the enemy?s stomach, the enemy had
reached up and grabbed Owen?s pistol.

At that moment I let go and took a step back and secured my M4. Owens had
swung him around to the left, which put him right in front of me.

With Owens and the bad guy fighting for Owens? M9, I put the barrel of my
rifle in the bad guy?s right side, point-blank, right underneath his armpit,
and fired a single shot.

The bad guy squealed like a pig and hit the ground like a sack, landing on
his back. I immediately placed the barrel of my rifle in his face and fired
ten shots to finish him. All of this happened within a matter of about 20
seconds, but seemed like forever.

As far as my kit goes, I didn?t have a knife on me at that time. I was
wearing a Tactical Taylor plate carrier with 7.62 x 61mm armor-piercing
incendiary-proof plates, hatch operator gloves, ballistic eye-pro and knee

After I shot him in the face, I took a knee and was trying to comprehend
everything that had just happened. It was just kind of, I was like, ?Holy
shit, did this just happen?? It was kind of like a weird euphoria thing
going on.

My platoon leader came out and asked if we were hit, and I told him nothing
hurt, but my leg felt different. They pulled me and Owens into the building
for the medic. Since we had blood and charred flesh and hair all over us, it
was hard for the medic to tell what was ours and what wasn?t.

So Spc. Danny Pech, our platoon medic, and Spc. Joshua Curley, my rifleman,
with the help of Spc. Jay Banuelos, carried us down to the designated
casualty collection point and started stripping us down so they could
administer aid.

My wound was first reported as a gunshot wound to my right thigh, and Owens
had a bullet graze on his right shin and shrapnel to the arms and legs.

Once we were medevaced to the main combat support hospital on Forward
Operating Base Diamondback in Mosul, we were given morphine and sent for
X-rays to see what was inside us.

My wound was actually shrapnel, which split into three pieces when it
impacted my leg, stopping just short of my femoral artery. Owens had
shrapnel in his arm and leg and a bullet graze on his right shin.

I?ve always been a pretty aggressive person, but having some stuff to back
you up, the Army combatives training, is great. Knowledge and experience is
always good to have.

When I looked up and saw [the enemy] standing over me, all I really thought
about was, ?This guy?s going to blast me.? I was thinking about how I was
going to let my kids down, and I just said, ?Screw it, I?m not going to die
lying down like this.? I just jumped up and expected him to pull the
trigger, but he never got the chance.

The writer is assigned to 2nd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, in
Vilseck, Germany. At the time of the events, he was a member of B Company,
3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division,
Stryker Brigade Combat Team, of Fort Lewis, Wash.

Title: From the French POV
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 24, 2008, 07:44:43 AM

"Heavily built, fed at the earliest age with Gatorade, proteins and creatine - they are all heads and shoulders taller than us and their muscles remind us of Rambo. Our frames are amusingly skinny to them - we are wimps, even the strongest of us."

We have shared our daily life with two US units for quite a while - they are the first and fourth companies of a prestigious infantry battalion whose name I will withhold for the sake of military secrecy. To the common man it is a unit just like any other. But we live with them and got to know them, and we henceforth know that we have the honor to live with one of the most renowned units of the US Army - one that the movies brought to the public as series showing “ordinary soldiers thrust into extraordinary events”. Who are they, those soldiers from abroad, how is their daily life, and what support do they bring to the men of our OMLT every day ? Few of them belong to the Easy Company, the one the TV series focuses on. This one nowadays is named Echo Company, and it has become the support company.

They have a terribly strong American accent - from our point of view the language they speak is not even English. How many times did I have to write down what I wanted to say rather than waste precious minutes trying various pronunciations of a seemingly common word? Whatever state they are from, no two accents are alike and they even admit that in some crisis situations they have difficulties understanding each other.

Heavily built, fed at the earliest age with Gatorade, proteins and creatine - they are all heads and shoulders taller than us and their muscles remind us of Rambo. Our frames are amusingly skinny to them - we are wimps, even the strongest of us - and because of that they often mistake us for Afghans.

Here we discover America as it is often depicted : their values are taken to their paroxysm, often amplified by promiscuity and the loneliness of this outpost in the middle of that Afghan valley. Honor, motherland - everything here reminds of that : the American flag floating in the wind above the outpost, just like the one on the post parcels. Even if recruits often originate from the hearth of American cities and gang territory, no one here has any goal other than to hold high and proud the star spangled banner. Each man knows he can count on the support of a whole people who provides them through the mail all that an American could miss in such a remote front-line location : books, chewing gums, razorblades, Gatorade, toothpaste etc. in such way that every man is aware of how much the American people backs him in his difficult mission.

And that is a first shock to our preconceptions : the American soldier is no individualist. The team, the group, the combat team are the focus of all his attention.
And they are impressive warriors! We have not come across bad ones, as strange at it may seem to you when you know how critical French people can be. Even if some of them are a bit on the heavy side, all of them provide us everyday with lessons in infantry know-how.

Beyond the wearing of a combat kit that never seem to discomfort them (helmet strap, helmet, combat goggles, rifles etc.) the long hours of watch at the outpost never seem to annoy them in the slightest. On the one square meter wooden tower above the perimeter wall they stand the five consecutive hours in full battle rattle and night vision goggles on top, their sight unmoving in the directions of likely danger. No distractions, no pauses, they are like statues nights and days. At night, all movements are performed in the dark - only a handful of subdued red lights indicate the occasional presence of a soldier on the move. Same with the vehicles whose lights are covered - everything happens in pitch dark even filling the fuel tanks with the Japy pump.

And combat ? If you have seen Rambo you have seen it all - always coming to the rescue when one of our teams gets in trouble, and always in the shortest delay. That is one of their tricks : they switch from T-shirt and sandals to combat ready in three minutes. Arriving in contact with the enemy, the way they fight is simple and disconcerting : they just charge ! They disembark and assault in stride, they bomb first and ask questions later - which cuts any pussyfooting short.

We seldom hear any harsh word, and from 5 AM onwards the camp chores are performed in beautiful order and always with excellent spirit. A passing American helicopter stops near a stranded vehicle just to check that everything is alright; an American combat team will rush to support ours before even knowing how dangerous the mission is - from what we have been given to witness, the American soldier is a beautiful and worthy heir to those who liberated France and Europe.

To those who bestow us with the honor of sharing their combat outposts and who everyday give proof of their military excellence, to those who pay the daily tribute of America’s army’s deployment on Afghan soil, to those we owned this article, ourselves hoping that we will always remain worthy of them and to always continue hearing them say that we are all the same band of brothers”.
Title: 3rd SF group gets Silver Star
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 12, 2008, 11:12:48 AM
Profiles of Valor: 3rd Special Forces Group
On 6 April 2008, in the mountains of Afghanistan's Nuristan province, a battle erupted between a team of 12 Special Forces troops from Operational Detachment Alpha 3336, a few dozen Afghan allies and hundreds of jihadis. The soldiers had jumped from helicopters at daybreak onto a mountain covered in ice, attempting to gain the high ground on a terrorist stronghold in the Shok Valley. Their mission: To capture or kill members of the militant group Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG). But insurgents quickly took positions against the U.S. troops -- and the insurgents had the high ground. Staff Sgt. Luis Morales saw an insurgent and opened fire, killing him, but enemy fighters then began firing on U.S. and Afghan troops from practically every direction. Because there was only one way up the valley, the jihadis "were able to wait until we were in the most vulnerable position to initiate the ambush," said Staff Sgt. Seth Howard. Several soldiers were hit in the opening barrage, but they all fought back. "We were pretty much in the open, there were no trees to hide behind," said Morales, who helped pull Staff Sgt. Dillon Behr, shot in the hip, back to a safer position. Morales himself had been shot in the thigh and ankle.

For the next seven hours, the small contingent of U.S. and Afghan troops fought hard while pinned to the side of the mountain, and managed to get down the mountain without being overwhelmed only when Air Force jets bombarded the insurgent positions with 2,000-pound bombs. The soldiers who could walk carried those who couldn't, including Staff Sgt. John Wayne Walding, who was hit by a bullet that according to Master Sgt. Scott Ford, the team sergeant, "basically amputated his right leg right there on the battlefield."

A helicopter attempted to land and evacuate the soldiers, but took several rounds in the rotor and hovered just long enough for the medic to jump off. A second helicopter then landed in an icy stream nearby and collected the troops. Among the Americans and Afghans, there were 15 wounded and two killed, both Afghans, while 150 to 200 jihadis were killed. The Green Berets were nearly out of ammunition, too -- each one had two magazines left. Today, 10 of those soldiers from Operational Detachment Alpha 3336 of the 3rd Special Forces Group will receive the Silver Star for their heroism. It will be the highest such number given to elite troops for a single battle since the Vietnam War. (For more details of the battle, see The Washington Post's account.)
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: G M on December 12, 2008, 08:59:58 PM

The Impact of War
Amputee Wounded in Iraq to Return to Active Duty

by Joseph Shapiro

Capt. David Rozelle with his wife, Kim, and son, Forrest. Courtesy of the Rozelle family


Rozelle had always been a competitive athlete in peak condition. After his injury, he trained even harder. Only one other amputee has been found fit to return to active duty in Iraq. Rozelle will be the first to return. Courtesy of the Rozelle family

Morning Edition, March 4, 2005 · Capt. David Rozelle of the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment will soon become the Army's first amputee from a wound suffered in Iraq to return to active duty.

In the past, it's been rare for soldiers who underwent amputations to go back to war, but better prosthetic arms and legs are now allowing wounded soldiers to do more.

At Fort Carson in Colorado, Rozelle said he knows he's returning both as a fighter and as a role model -- for the soldiers under his command and for other troops with amputations.

"I'm breaking the ice for them," Rozelle says. "I don't want to be an anomaly. I want to be the first to go back. But I don't want to be the last."

Rozelle was injured in June 2003, when an anti-tank mine destroyed part of his right foot and leg. He recounts the experience in a new memoir, Back in Action: An American Soldier's Story of Courage, Faith, and Fortitude. The book's first chapter is excerpted below.

Book Excerpt

Note: This excerpt contains language that some may find offensive.

Chapter 1: The Price of Freedom

It's not hard to get your mind focused for a mission when there's a price on your head. It was the day that would change my life forever, 21 June 2003, in Hit (pronounced "heat"), Iraq.

Just a few days before, my translator and I were smoking cigarettes and enjoying some hot tea, waiting with a few sheiks for our weekly situation meeting to begin. I was the de facto sheriff of Hit. As we waited for the rest of the sheiks to arrive, we would discuss the Iran-Iraq war. My translator had been a POW in the war, held for eleven years in an Iranian prison. He had been pressed into military service after his third year of medical school and served as an infantryman. As a POW, he found himself doing procedures in prison with no anesthesia, no sanitary rooms, and few medical instruments. His techniques kept fellow prisoners alive, but were often brutal and crippling.

After getting out of prison, he decided to never practice medicine again. He was a good man, and was proud to be of service to those who had freed him for the second time in his life. After taking a long drag on one of my Marlboros, he looked over at me and said in a low voice, "Captain, do not go on your mission tonight."

I was surprised. "I always lead my men," I responded. "It's still dangerous and I want to command on the ground."

He said, "Your men will be safe, but you will be attacked. If you go, it may be your last mission."

"What the hell are you talking about?" I said angrily. In a loud voice, so that the sheiks in the room could hear, I continued, "You're not trying to threaten me, are you? I will destroy any man who attacks me. Tell me who is saying these things—I'll arrest them today!"

He spoke to me carefully, in a low voice so that others couldn't hear, trying to calm me: "Captain, there are men in town who are planning missions in our mosques, under the command of clerics here and from Ar Ramadi. These men I do not know. But they are dangerous. Some are from Iran, and some are from Syria. It's rumored that they have offered $1,000 U.S. to any man who can kill you, the one who rides in the vehicle with the symbols K6 on the side . . . the one who always wears sunglasses. They recognize you as the leader, and as one who is successful and powerful. . . . Please do not go tonight."

I responded out loud, "You spread the word: I am powerful and I command many men. Out of respect for the people of Hit, I have yet to bring my tanks into this city and show you my full combat capabilities. Let the town know that the whereabouts of these terrorists must be reported in order to protect the innocent civilians of this city. I'm not afraid and I'm not threatened."

On our mission that night, we did arrest several suspicious people and killed two men who tried to attack our tanks with rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs). After such a wild night, we decided to stay out of the city for a few days. Unfortunately, we were giving the terrorists more time to prepare their next attack.

It was 1630 hours on the day of my final mission. I could tell when my men were ready because the sounds below changed from bolts charged and orders given during the final pre-combat inspection to laughter and tough talk. I never came down from my command post until I heard the distinctive sound of my high-mobility multi-wheeled vehicle (Humvee), distinctive because each Humvee has its own pitch or hum. Upon hearing that sound, I knew that my windshield and binocular lenses were clean, my maps updated with the most current intelligence, my radios checked, and my personal security detachment was loaded, with weapons pointed outward. With so many antennae and barrels protruding, we must have looked like some strange oversized desert insect. But before I walked down to conduct my final inspection, I continued my tradition of kissing the picture of my wife, Kim, listening to the message she had recorded in the frame, and saying a short prayer to God to take care of my unborn child if I did not return.

I was "Killer 6,"which is the code word for the leader of K Troop, 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. I commanded 139 men, nine M1A2 main battle tanks, 13 M3A2 Cavalry fighting vehicles, two tracked vehicles carrying 120 mm mortar guns, three support tracked vehicles, and five wheeled vehicles.

Before heading out on the mission, I would walk the line of soldiers to look at their faces. It wasn't just to make a final inspection. They needed to see me confident and unafraid of our impending mission. We treated every mission the same, whether we were conducting a traffic control point (TCP) or were capturing terrorists. My men had to be ready for anything.

A few weeks earlier, my boss had informed me that now that we had "stood up" an entirely new police force, we had to train them in police work. This tasking was a V Corps requirement. I was excited about it, tired of conducting patrols where I spent most of my time watching over my shoulder. Training leads to confidence and job comfort. We had done something historic. Within weeks of the end of major combat operations, we had rearmed Iraqi soldiers and were now patrolling the streets with them. They certainly needed training, and training was our task for the night.

We had scheduled the first night of training to start at 1700 hours, as it promised to be cooler than midday. The sun did not set until 2030 or 2100 hours, so we had plenty of time to train. We had planned on teaching for two hours, which we knew would turn into three or four. We always planned twice the amount of time to do anything with local forces.

It was about 1640 hours when we finally headed out the gate of our compound. I was traveling with two of my Humvees, my own and an improvised gun-truck, and two military police (MP) Humvees. As I crossed through the wire at the lead of the convoy, I called my departure report to Squadron Operations Center and told my detachment to lock and load their weapon systems.

On the squadron radio, I reported, "Thunder, this is Killer 6 . . . Killer is departing FOB Eden to Hit police academy, vicinity soccer stadium, with one officer and twenty-one enlisted."

Changing hand microphones, I immediately followed, "Killer, this is Killer 6, lock and load your weapon systems and follow my move."

After getting acknowledgments from the three vehicles following me, I charged my 9 mm Beretta, watching as the bullet slipped easily into the chamber. As was my custom, as a deterrent to possible wrongdoers, I had my pistol outside the window in my right hand, and my left inside on the Bible my father had given me just before deploying to Iraq. Inscribed on the inside cover were the words, "Use it as a tour guide," and in the back I had pasted a picture of my wife and me with my parents, taken just after our deployment ceremony.

It was only about five miles from our Forward Operating Base (FOB) to the town of Hit. Just before we reached the roundabout at the north end of the city, I told my driver to turn left down a dirt road we often used for observation by tanks at night.

I intended to avoid the roundabout in order to avoid detection from any spies at the first intersection. The dirt road took us from one paved road to another, and was only about two hundred meters in length. Just as we reached the far side, I noticed that the gradual terrace that normally allowed easy access to the road was now steeper and recently graded. Looking over the edge, I decided that the vehicles could handle the drop and we started to ease over the ledge.

As we began rolling again, everything exploded.

My right front tire, just under my feet, detonated an anti-tank mine. The mine violently lifted the Humvee off the ground and set it back on the three remaining of four wheels. The blast was so powerful that most of it went out and up from the front tire, launching a door and tire a hundred meters away. Blinded by smoke and dust, I wasn't sure exactly what had just happened, but I knew we were either under attack by RPGs or artillery, or had struck a mine -- and that I was injured.

I looked down and saw blood on my arms, and through my glasses I could see that my bulletproof vest seemed to have absorbed a lot of shrapnel. Everything was quiet. I could not speak. I was in terrible pain. I heard noises coming from my driver, screams of pain and fear. I was more confused than afraid.

Finally, I got my voice and asked, "Is everyone okay?"

My driver responded with more screams, and my translator simply gave me a crazy look.

We needed to get out of the Humvee. I began to pull at my left leg, but I couldn't get it free. My left foot was trapped under the firewall and heater. The right front portion of the vehicle's frame was now on the ground, so I set my right foot out into the sand to get some footing, in order to pull myself and my left leg free. But I couldn't get any footing.

I thought, "F--- . . . Oh, God, I am hurt . . . I have to get out of here . . . Why aren't they shooting at me? We're trapped in a stationary vehicle . . . They've got me . . . F---, that hurts . . . Move, David, move now!"

It felt as if I were setting my right foot into soft mud or a sponge. I looked down to see blood and bits of bone squeezing out of the side of my right boot. I gave one big push and turned to dive into the arms of two brave men who ran selflessly into the minefield to save me.

My good friend and fiercest warrior, Sergeant First Class John McNichols, grabbed me and said, "Don't worry, sir, I've got you."

All I could do was look at the ground. I tried to use my feet, but neither one would bear my weight. I could hear First Sergeant Cobal sighing under the burden of my weight.

I looked into his eyes and said, "I can't walk. I'm f---ed up."

Turning now to face Sergeant First Class McNichols, I said, "My feet are messed up."

Sergeant First Class McNichols smiled at me and said, "It's just a walk in the park, sir."

That was the last time I ever used my right foot.

Excerpted from Back in Action: An American Soldier's Story of Courage, Faith, and Fortitude, by Captain David Rozelle. Used by permission of Regnery Publishing.
Title: USMC Capt. Brent Morel
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 09, 2009, 09:03:22 AM
Profiles of valor: U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Brent Morel
United States Marine Corps Capt. Brent Morel of Martin, Tennessee, was a platoon commander with 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division during the first offensive in Fallujah as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. On 7 April 2004, Morel's platoon encountered enemy fire from more than 50 insurgents. A rocket-propelled grenade crippled the lead vehicle in the convoy, and the platoon was besieged with mortar and machine gun fire. After ordering the last two vehicles to establish flanking positions for the convoy, Morel left his vehicle to lead an assault across an open field to maneuver into firing positions. His assault eliminated several enemy fighters. But seeing his fellow Marines pinned by enemy fire, he again left the safety of his position in order to counterattack. It was then that he issued his final order: "Cover me. We're assaulting through." Though he took out more enemy fighters, he fell mortally wounded. The Marines rallied and defeated the ambush, killing more than 30 terrorists.

When informed of his son's death, Mike Morel could only ask, "Was he in the front?" Yes, he was. He replied, "I always knew that's where he would be." For his bravery, Capt. Morel was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross. A second Navy Cross went to Sgt. Willie L. Copeland III, who fought alongside Morel that day.
Title: SEAL hell week
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 12, 2009, 05:02:11 PM
Title: USMC Sgt. Montoya
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 30, 2009, 10:15:45 AM
Profiles of valor: U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Montoya

During the Battle for Baghdad in April 2003, United States Marine Corps Sgt. Scott Montoya was serving as a Scout Sniper, Scout Sniper Platoon, 2d Battalion, 23d Marines, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, in Support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. At one point, enemy fire had Montoya's sniper team pinned down, and he directed his team to return fire while he ran into an open roadway to rescue an Iraqi civilian trapped in a vehicle. Montoya spotted a wounded Marine on the same roadway and led him to safety, and then another wounded Marine, and then another, who was unconscious, and then a fourth, all while shooting at the enemy with his free hand. Later, when Montoya was asked how many bullets went by him as he rescued four fellow Marines, he answered, "About 300." He added, "I saw a hurt Marine and all my training came into play. It wasn't a cognitive thing; I just saw the situation and cared for my Marines." For his "extraordinary heroism," Sgt. Montoya was awarded the U.S. military's second-highest honor, the Navy Cross.

Title: Petraeus Looks Toward Afghanistan
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on February 01, 2009, 01:52:45 PM
Guy Sorman
The New American Soldier
David Petraeus, savior of the surge, turns to Afghanistan.
30 January 2009
The Iraqis call him King David. General David Petraeus earned the somewhat affectionate nickname in 2003 after taking Baghdad and then Mosul—a city whose governor he became, almost coincidentally. When all Iraqi institutions crumbled, a development that the Americans had not foreseen, one guard who had not fled explained to Petraeus that since he had conquered Iraq, it was also up to him to govern Iraq. Petraeus improvised, pursuing a military offensive and reconstruction at the same time. “We discovered that we were strangers in a strange country,” Petraeus tells me.

He admits that the Army knew nothing about Arab civilization. But he drew the necessary conclusions. Later, back in the United States as head of the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Petraeus radically modified American military culture. “My generation was trained to destroy Soviet tanks with helicopters,” he recalls, but such training was useless in the modern struggle with terrorism. For that matter, Petraeus refuses to use the term “War on Terror.” Terrorism, he explains, is just one aspect of a global war by extremists against our values and our ways of life. On the basis of this definition of extremism and of his experience in Iraq, Petraeus rewrote the counterinsurgency manual, the Army’s new Bible. In 2007, George W. Bush sent him back to Iraq to apply his ideas. And as Barack Obama said during his presidential campaign, under Petraeus, the surge “succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.”

Did Petraeus win the war, or at least prevent the United States from losing it? “We must no longer think in terms of victory or defeat,” he says. “The time is past for raising a flag on a hill.” The war against extremism must be measured in terms of “dynamics” and “progress.” In Iraq, Petraeus says, there has been remarkable progress, in collaboration with the new Iraqi army—“progress that is measurable, fragile, and reversible.” But public opinion in the United States, the general observes, has already forgotten how things were one year ago. From 40 attacks a day in Baghdad in 2007, the country has moved to a crime rate comparable with that of certain Latin American countries.

The achievement of this fragile success owes much to an increase in forces, Petraeus says, but above all to the application of new ideas. A graduate of Princeton University as well as West Point, Petraeus is as much an intellectual as a soldier, the hero of a new generation leading the Army. Since his success in Iraq, Petraeus has benefited from an aura similar to that of great officers of the past, such as Eisenhower and MacArthur. Despite constant rumors, he has no political ambitions—yet, anyway—but it remains the case that no American strategic decision gets made these days without hearing Petraeus’s advice.

“My ideas are drawn from our historical memory,” Petraeus says. “At one time, the American army combined the art of war and that of administration”—during the “Indian wars” of the nineteenth century, for example. (The Army retains a positive view of the civilizing purposes of those wars, very different from how Hollywood portrays them.) And when the Army repressed the rebellion in the Philippines in 1900, Petraeus points out, it “fought extremists and, at the same time, built schools, hospitals, and roads.” Another of Petraeus’s inspirations is the French army in Algeria. It is important, he says, not to repeat its errors: torture and attacks on the local population. But it is also important to emulate what Petraeus considers its successes: “bringing security to the people, benefiting them in concrete ways, and living among them.” Petraeus has written the preface to the American edition of Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice (by David Galula, a French officer in Algeria in 1958) and made the book required reading for all officers. He never tires of watching Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers, a cult film he shows to all his visitors.

Now it is up to Petraeus, after entering Iraq, to get out, under the command of Robert Gates, once Bush’s Secretary of Defense and now Obama’s. Petraeus says that the Army is glad for this continuity. But he questions the expression “get out”; he speaks instead of a “transition” from the American to the Iraqi army, a transition already under way. Yet he admits that it is rare for an army to exit successfully after a war against extremists. He cites two precedents: the British withdrawals from Malaysia and from Oman, two cases where conquered guerrillas gave way to stable states.

As soon as it leaves Iraq, the Army will have to concentrate on Afghanistan. Since September 2007, Petraeus has headed Centcom, the American command that covers the Middle East, central Asia, and Pakistan. Centcom’s headquarters are in Tampa, Florida, but Petraeus is always on the move. Surrounded by an escort of military intellectuals and fully equipped for mobile communication, he runs his meetings from wherever he happens to be, whether on the ground or in the air. “Afghanistan will be a little easier to manage as far as public opinion,” Petraeus says. “But on the ground it will be harder.” Unlike Iraq, Afghanistan has few resources, no tradition of stable government, and few educated elites.

Petraeus is determined to apply his method to Afghanistan: living among the people, bringing them security, establishing a legitimate government, and creating a viable economy. He calls this the Anaconda strategy. Projected on a screen, the scheme resembles a fat snake nourishing itself from all possible elements, from special forces to propaganda operations to school construction. This will require, he says, “not unity of command with NATO, which isn’t possible, but unity of coordination,” which does not exist yet. “If we have the right ideas,” Petraeus says, “they will let us beat the extremists, who have taken advantage of the fact that we are still prisoners of archaic military methods.”

Up until this point, some countries haven’t fully cooperated with NATO because they thought they were sheltered from danger—but their attitude “will change as the extremists expand their area of attack,” Petraeus believes. He is confident that awareness of the extremist danger is becoming clearer. Thus, Saudi Arabia has avoided the destabilization that everyone foresaw two or three years ago by understanding the danger and adopting Petraeus’s multifaceted strategy (“by coincidence,” he says). The same new awareness is now at work in Pakistan and in India. But all progress is reversible; Bosnia, where Petraeus served in 1995, threatens again to explode, for example. The war against extremism will go on for generations.

Guy Sorman, a City Journal contributing editor, is the author of numerous books, including The Empire of Lies: The Truth About China in the Twenty-First Century. Translated from the French by Alexis Cornel.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 13, 2009, 10:09:44 AM
United States Army Sgt. Hernandez

 Hernandez United States Army Sgt. Omar Hernandez came to America from Mexico with his family when he was six months old. He joined the Army Reserve when he was 19, deploying to Iraq in 2003. He changed to the regular Army in 2004 and returned to Iraq as an infantryman, earning his citizenship after his second tour. On 6 June 2007, during his third tour in Iraq as part of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Hernandez, three other American soldiers and nine Iraqis left Joint Security Station "Maverick" in Ghazaliya on a census patrol.

Just outside the station, however, the team was ambushed. Two Iraqi police were immediately shot. Hernandez returned fire, but was soon shot in the thigh himself. He later said it was "like Forrest Gump -- where he goes, 'Somethin' jumped up and bit me.'" Indeed -- the bullet entered the back and exited the front, just missing his femoral artery, but taking a third of his quadriceps with it. Despite his wound, Hernandez made it to the intersection where the two Iraqi police officers were down, dragging one 15 feet to safety. He then went back for the second, picking him up and carrying him on his shoulder. Hernandez made sure first aid was administered and then resumed firing on the enemy, only later accepting treatment himself. His actions saved the lives of the two Iraqis that day. "I couldn't let anyone die out there," he said. For his heroism, Hernandez received the Silver Star.

Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 16, 2009, 11:50:48 AM
These men deserve better from us here at home.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 19, 2009, 06:59:05 AM
Seems like a good site full of examples of our troops in action:


Specialist Joe Gibson
Silver Star

During a helicopter infiltration, Spec. Gibson’s squad came under intense enemy small arms and machine gun fire.

“The guy that got hit, he actually was a really good friend of mine and I heard him call out and it makes my heart cringe to hear that,” Gibson said.

He got his wounded buddy to safety in a hail of bullets and then he actually stepped on a suicide bomber hiding in the tall grass.

“I stopped him because I thought maybe he was grabbing a knife or something to attack me with,” he said. “I stopped him and that’s when he told me he had a bomb on. He said ‘bomb’ in English. He knew how to say that.

“That pretty much at that moment I thought I was probably going to die, but I didn’t care so whatever, there was nothing I could do about it so I just kept on doing what I was doing staying in control.”

It was hand-to-hand combat. Gibson wrestled with the bomber and killed him before he had a chance to detonate the pack.

For those actions, he’s receiving the Silver Star with his Army wife Samantha looking on.
Title: Sgt Scott Stream
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 27, 2009, 03:35:38 PM,0,7802298.story
'If it costs me my life to protect our land and people then that is a small thing...'
February 26, 2009

As President Obama and military officials plan for a marked escalation in the number of American troops in Afghanistan, the powerful words of a fallen soldier show how much the mission continues to mean to the women and men on the ground.

Illinois National Guard Sgt. Scott Stream, 39, of Mattoon, Ill., was killed Tuesday in Afghanistan. Below is a letter he wrote to a friend on New Year's Eve. The Tribune received a copy of the letter from Stream's mother.


Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 9:30am

A strange thing...

When I think about what surrounds me, the institutional corruption, the random violence, the fear and desperation. I feel the reasons why I am here more and more sharply. As we grow in our soldiers skills, surviving by finding the hidden dangers, seeing the secret motives and the shifting politics... we grow a set of skills that is unique and powerful in this situation.

We also see what you cannot see in the States, you are surrounded by the love of Christ and faith in freedom and humanity, like a fish you think water is 'a puff of air' because it is always there, you do not notice it... we who are out of the water look back and see the world we love surrounded by enemies, poison and envy that wants to fall on you like a storm of ruin.

We who joined with vague notions of protecting our country see how desperate the peril, how hungry the enemy and how frail the security we have is. So the more I love you all the more I feel I must keep fighting for you. The more I love and long for home the more right I feel here on the front line standing between you and the seething madness that wants to suck the life and love out of our land.

Does that mean I cannot go home? I hope not, because I want this just to be the postponement of the joy of life, not the sacrifice of mine. If it costs me my life to protect our land and people then that is a small thing, I just hope that fate lets me return to the promise land and remind people just how great our land is.

War is a young mans game, and I am getting an old mans head... it is a strange thing. I just hope that I am not changed so that I cannot take joy in the land inside the wire when I make it home. I want to be with you all again and let my gun sit in the rack and float on my back in a tube down a lazy river...
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: G M on February 27, 2009, 04:40:36 PM
I am humbled and awed and immensely thankful that this nation still produces men like this.
Title: Sgt Malone
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 20, 2009, 10:20:35 AM
Profiles of Valor: U.S. Army Sgt. Malone
United States Army Sergeant First Class Ed Malone was serving with the 3rd Platoon, Grim Troop, 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in 2005 and was conducting a joint combat patrol with the Iraqi Army in the extremely hostile Surai district of Tal'Afar, when the unit was attacked. Without immediate direct fire support from his Bradley Fighting Vehicles, Malone ordered his men to take a defensive position and return fire. He directed his grenadier to eliminate several enemy targets firing from a rooftop. Malone also repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire -- once to retrieve important equipment, another time to evacuate women and children caught in the crossfire, and finally to drag a wounded soldier out of the line of fire. His actions sped medical treatment and evacuation, saving the soldier's life. Malone refused to give ground until reinforcements arrived, and he and his unit held their position for more than an hour. He led a three-man team to clear a courtyard of enemy fighters, relieving pressure on his unit. There, while administering aid to an enemy combatant, Malone was shot in the foot. For his brave actions that day, Malone was awarded the Bronze Star with combat "V" for valor.
Title: Sgt Dockery earns Silver Star in Afg
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 26, 2009, 04:19:58 PM
GI Earns Silver Star for Enemy Charge
 March 20, 2009
Army News Service

BAMBERG, Germany -- Staff Sgt. Lincoln V. Dockery said he didn't even see the grenade that sent shrapnel into his right forearm while charging insurgent fighters in Afghanistan's Korengal valley, Nov. 16, 2007.

"Someone yelled out, and I looked up and saw it coming. My hand went up and a hot, sharp feeling went through," he said.

Dockery, a combat engineer then assigned to a route clearance patrol with Company A of the 173rd Airborne Brigade's Special Troops Battalion, said he decided the injury wasn't major, and continued his charge up a hill into enemy fire and earning a Silver Star for valor. The medal and a Purple Heart were awarded here, March 11.

"I don't want to think about what would have happened had he not been there," said Capt. William Cromie, Dockery's platoon leader that day in Afghanistan. "It would have been a completely different day. While described in the infantry field manual, and taught at every schoolhouse in our career, if asked to charge into an enemy, uphill and within hand grenade range, most people only know yes as a book answer."

Dockery said the description of the mission for which the patrol departed from Forward Operating Base Asadabad in Kunar Province that day sounded like the description of their mission for any other day: "Out looking for bombs."

"My only concern was for the guys who worked under me," the 25-year-old Runnemede, N.J., native stated.

His concern became reality when the lead vehicle on the mission, a Husky mine-detecting vehicle, activated an improvised explosive device. Rocket-propelled grenades immediately started hitting the damaged vehicle and it became clear the convoy was in the middle of an ambush.

"Across [a nearby river] we could see RPGs and small-arms fire coming at us," Dockery said. "But when I looked over to the right, I could see that RPGs were hitting our side of the vehicle."

Dockery determined that another enemy fire team was hidden much closer, and that a quick decision had to be made.

"I realized the enemy was actually 20 meters from our position," he said. "If we didn't assault the hill they were attacking from, they would have taken us out. They couldn't miss with their weapons they were so close."

Dockery said his first move was to investigate the lead vehicle's driver, Pfc. Amador Magana, who could have been seriously injured or killed by the IED blast.

"I could see RPGs and rounds impacting all over the vehicle, and the front windshield was about to cave in from all the (AK-47) bullets," Dockery said.

Sneaking around from the other side and climbing up the back tire, he knocked on the window and saw that Magana was barely conscious, but not wounded. Magana managed to give a thumbs-up, he said, and soon stood up, manned his M-249 machine gun and returned fire on the enemy.

Dockery said he then made his decision to storm the hill.

The sergeant began making his way up the hill with one of his Soldiers, Spc. Corey Taylor, as their team members provided support from the convoy.

During the charge Dockery was injured, but he kept going, through hand grenade exchanges and incoming RPGs.

"The shrapnel didn't really hurt initially. We also had to dig shrapnel out of Taylor's leg later," he said.

The pair low-crawled the rest of the way up, watching bullets kick up rocks and dirt all around them, then pushed the enemy back from their position and found the IED command detonator and wire.

Indirect fire, air strikes and other close air support was called in later to deal with about 30 fleeing fighters, but Dockery's assault kept everyone else from the patrol alive.

"Hopefully anybody would have done the same thing I did that day," Dockery said, downplaying his role in the event.

Cromie, who was awarded a Silver Star July 12, 2008 for his own actions in Afghanistan that day, sees it differently. He said Dockey was nothing less than a hero.

Before the mission, Cromie had put Dockery in charge of his own squad and made him a patrol leader for the eight months the unit performed route clearance operations.

"I had an insurmountable amount of trust in him," Cromie said. "He was the most combat proven NCO in the platoon."

A brand new officer at the time, Cromie said having such a competent NCO was amazing, and that he will measure every one he works with up to Dockery.

"He's the best at what he does," the captain said.

Dockery has lived in Bamberg for eight years with his wife Dominika and son and daughter, Lincoln, 4, and Pria, 2. He said plans to stay there the rest of his life.

© Copyright 2009 Army News Service
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 21, 2009, 02:48:21 PM
The Class of '44
"I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth more than all the means...." --John Adams

Dartmouth Seal, c1773
Dartmouth College is one of our nation's finest academic institutions. This iconic Ivy League school in Hanover, New Hampshire, was established in 1769 and is one of nine Colonial Colleges founded prior to the American Revolution.

Dartmouth was named in honor of William Legge, the Second Earl of Dartmouth and, like Harvard, Princeton and Yale, was established as a Christian institution. Legge was a primary benefactor of the ministry of Dartmouth's founder, Reverend Eleazar Wheelock, who established the institution "for the education and instruction of Youth of the Indian Tribes in this Land ... and also of English Youth and any others."

Dartmouth has produced many notable graduates over the years, including 164 members of the U.S. House and Senate, and a long list of cabinet secretaries and jurists.

But among the most distinguished of Dartmouth's graduates would be those of the Class of 1944. Although they will observe their 65th reunion this year, the Class of '44 never walked for a commencement. Neither did the Class of '43 before them, or '45 after them.

World War II interrupted their lives.

In 1940, there were 699 freshmen enrolled for Dartmouth's Class of '44, but in the years prior to their scheduled commencement, the entire class departed -- most to serve in WW II or in some capacity with the war-related industrial surge. By 1944, the Navy had requisitioned most of Dartmouth's teaching space for training its own personnel.

I have a particular reverence for the members of Dartmouth's Class of '44 because my father is one of them.

Dad joined the U.S. Navy in 1942. He was called to active duty in '43 and spent two years training to become a Naval Aviator. His two brothers also joined the armed services -- one left Princeton to become an Army officer and their younger brother joined the Marines.

My grandfather was among the first Naval Aviators, and he offered my Dad this essential advice when on final approach for a carrier trap: "If you have to sneeze, do it with your eyes open."

My father says that while most fighter pilots were certain they were bullet proof (that has not changed), he realized early on how dangerous and sometimes unforgiving the war birds they flew could be.

While leading a flight of six Wildcats out for their first carrier trials, the pilot ahead of him in the landing order experienced some difficulty, veered sharply to the left and crashed into the water. Dad took an automatic wave-off and said that the time it took him to come around for another approach was sobering.

Dad received his Wings of Gold and his ensign commission in early '45 and shortly thereafter transitioned to the F4U Corsair (a difficult plane to fly but one which had given the Navy an 11:1 kill ratio over the Pacific). He and his fellow aviators prepared for their Pacific Fleet assignment in advance of "Operation Downfall," the anticipated Allied invasion of Japan, which U.S. war planners feared might cost as many as a half-million casualties.

Dad knew that odds were he would be one of them.

Thankfully, two months before the planned invasion, a top-secret weapon was deployed over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While the atomic bombs dropped on Japan killed more than 200,000 enemy combatants and civilians, it is estimated that as many as 750,000 casualties, both Allied and Japanese, were avoided by using those weapons.

I did not fully understand how strongly my father felt about those bombings until their 50th anniversary, when the Smithsonian Institution prepared a major exhibit to commemorate the events. There was a movement afoot to water down the exhibit so as to not offend Japanese visitors. My father was infuriated by the thought of a politically correct whitewash. I share his contempt for historical revisionism, but inquired about his reaction just the same, and he responded, "Because if not for those bombs, I would likely not be here; thus neither would you."

I owe a great debt of gratitude to the Class of '44 and all of the Greatest Generation, but also to naval aviation. You see, back stateside shortly after the Japanese surrendered, my Dad took leave (actually he was AWOL, having asked one of his Corsair squadron wingmen to complete his PT and flights). He went to visit his sister at a nearby college. While there, he looked up the sister of that wingman who was filling for him, and later married her. Ten years later, she delivered me into the world.

Though God called my mom to His side in 1989, my dad, now 86, continues to live every day with an irrevocable spirit of optimism and has been blessed with a second wife who honors the first through her love and devotion to my father and our family.

Two weeks ago, Dad was, again, staring at his own fate, the result of a serious infection. But as I sat with him in those touch-and-go days, I watched him cling tenaciously to that optimism, which has characterized his entire life. He did not waver once, and showed no fear. I know he is grateful for the life he has lived, and the one waiting on him, and he was content to have his fate in God's hands.

Selfishly, I am very thankful that, by the Grace of God in answer to the prayers of many, he pulled through and is recovering well. Selfish I say, because I want as many more days with him as our Creator will allow.

Dad is a tough old guy, and I have no doubt that he'll be in attendance at his Class of '44 reunion this summer. Of his original 699 classmates, most went on to complete their degrees after the war. Amazingly, some 226 are still with us today, and many of them will be at that reunion.

Notably, however, some never had a chance to complete their degrees after WWII.

George Barton was killed in action over England. Roger Blood was KIA in the Pacific. Joel Coffin was KIA in Italy. Earle Cunningham was killed in a training flight over Arizona. Richard Dargle was KIA over France. Richard Farnsworth was KIA over the Pacific. Juels Finnell was killed in a carrier crash landing in the Atlantic. George Galbraith was killed in a training flight over Mississippi. Kevin Gough was KIA over Germany. James Hays was killed in a training flight over California. Robert Holman was KIA over England. Stephen Holmes was KIA at Iwo Jima. Houghton Letts was KIA in Europe. Edwin McGowan was MIA over the Pacific. William Mackoff was KIA at Iwo Jima. Robert Mulhern was KIA in North Africa. Richard Redington was killed in a transport crash in Iceland. John Shellenberger was killed in a training flight over Georgia. George Slusser was KIA over Ryukyus. Henry Urion was killed in a training flight over Tennessee. Ray Wilken was KIA over Germany. Frederick Wulfekuhler was KIA in New Caledonia. Lloyd Wyatt was KIA at Okinawa.

There are many others from the Class of '44 about whose sacrifice I do not know.

Indeed, theirs was the Greatest Generation, not only because of their enormous sacrifice during WWII, but because those who survived came home and, in the wake of that catastrophic event, set about building the mightiest powerhouse of economic and political liberty in the history of the world -- much of which has been squandered by recent generations.


In 2009, Dartmouth had 4,300 undergraduate students enrolled in liberal arts curricula and 1,200 students in graduate programs. The College will hold its 235th commencement in June and will award approximately 1,000 undergraduate and 500 advanced degrees.

It is my fervent prayer that on this and every Memorial Day, each of those young people, and all of our countrymen, will renew their gratitude for every generation of American Patriots who have bequeathed to us a legacy of liberty defended with great "toil and blood and treasure."

Indeed, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." (Luke 12:48)

Please join our PatriotPost.US editors and staff, and millions of Patriots across our great nation, by dedicating some time this Memorial Day for reverence and prayer. Flags should be flown at half-staff until noon, your local time.
Title: US Army PFC Moss
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 10, 2009, 11:08:57 AM
Profiles of Valor: U.S. Army Pfc. Moss
Moss with family

Pfc. Channing Moss of the United States Army was serving in Afghanistan in March 2006 when disaster struck. His convoy was attacked by Taliban fighters with small arms and rocket propelled grenades. Moss, manning an MK 19 machine gun in the turret of his Humvee, was struck by an RPG -- and survived. Though Moss was impaled through the abdomen with live ordnance, his comrades didn't leave him to die. Army regulations dictate that MEDEVAC choppers should never carry a wounded soldier with a live round in him, yet the flight crew did just that. "[A]t the time, I really didn't think about it," said flight medic Sgt. John Collier, then a specialist. "I knew [the RPG] was there but I thought, if we didn't do it, if we didn't get him out of there, he was going to die." Protocol also dictates that soldiers in Moss's condition be placed in a sandbagged bunker and considered "expectant" -- expected to die. But Maj. John Oh, 759th Forward Surgical Team general surgeon and a naturalized Korean immigrant, performed the life-saving surgery while wearing body armor and a helmet and assisted by a member of the explosive ordnance disposal team and other brave volunteers.

The Military Times has more on this incredible story here and a moving video here (warning: graphic content).

Three months after surviving the attack, Moss witnessed the birth of his second daughter, Ariana. That would not have been possible without the heroic efforts of Maj. Oh, Sgt. Collier and the crew of the 159th Medical Company. "They saved my life," said Moss. "I hope God watches over them if they get deployed." Indeed.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 12, 2009, 06:45:52 PM
Respects to our Brit Brothers.

UK hospital in Afghanistan copes with bloodiest day

Sun Jul 12, 2009 9:23pm IS
* Camp hospital deals with 30 casualties
* Wounded taken to Kabul and Britain

By Peter Graff
CAMP BASTION, Afghanistan, July 12 (Reuters) - More than 30 wounded British soldiers were flown into Camp Bastion off the battlefield in Afghanistan and the operating theatre went through more than 100 pints of blood products over the weekend.
In the bloodiest day in the history of the British war effort in Afghanistan, eight soldiers were killed on Friday.
Doctors, nurses and staff at the field hospital at Britain's Camp Bastion worked round the clock, sometimes 15-16 staff tending to a single badly injured patient.
The 33-bed hospital was already almost full when the carnage began, but never overflowed. Almost as quickly as helicopters arrived from the battlefield, planes and other aircraft took stabilised casualties to Kabul or Birmingham in Britain.
"We've had some very badly injured young people go back to Birmingham, and go back to Birmingham in very good shape. And I think there's no question that the hospital system has saved lives," said Colonel Peter Mahoney, the hospital's director, a professor of anaesthesiology and airborne soldier.
The battlefield casualties -- the most a British military hospital has coped with in a single day since the 1982 Falklands War -- has led to questions back home about a war that has had lukewarm public support.
But commanders say they expected a surge of casualties this summer, part of what they aim to be a decisive push to take advantage of U.S. reinforcements and seize Taliban-held territory ahead of an Afghan presidential election next month.
Taliban casualty figures were not immediately available.
Britain and the United States have launched simultaneous operations this month in Afghanistan's most violent province, Helmand, nearly half of which was under Taliban control until this month.
The British "Operation Panther's Claw" has met tough resistance from Taliban home-made bombs and sniper positions. Fighters have also struck back elsewhere in the province.

A Taliban homemade bomb struck a British foot patrol before dawn on Friday, killing one soldier instantly and wounding several others. When troops attempted to evacuate, they were hit by another bomb, killing a stretcher bearer and one of the wounded casualties.
Another bomb planted in a field prevented a medivac helicopter from landing, so troops had to bring the wounded back to base to fly them out. Two more soldiers later died of wounds. Five others and an interpreter were injured.
Two other roadside bombs killed another three soldiers in other parts of the province.
Captain Jac Solghan, a nurse from the U.S. Air Force working at the British hospital, said he worked 32 hours straight from 2:00 a.m. on Saturday, looking after patient arrivals from the battlefield and their evacuations to hospitals further on.
"We'd just stay and keep working and working," he said. "That morning the hospital had not quite full capacity. By the time we ended the day, the hospital was still full and we were still pushing patients out."
Mahoney said the hospital had been warned in advance that a big operation was being planned, and had mobilised additional staff in expectation of a surge in casualties.
"There's no doubt it has been wearing. But none of the staff have ever complained and said they hadn't wanted to do it. Everybody's risen up to the occasion," Mahoney said.
Title: Brits in Helmland
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 15, 2009, 04:25:53 PM
'It was like Saving Private Ryan': British soldier recalls Helmand rocket grenade

Trooper Anthony Matthews describes being hit and having to apply tourniquet during Afghanistan offensive

Richard Norton-Taylor
Wednesday 15 July 2009 18.06 BST

A British soldier injured in fierce fighting in the biggest offensive against the Taliban since the start of the conflict in 2001 has given a first-hand account of his ordeal.

Trooper Anthony Matthews, 20, of the Light Dragoons, was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade during Operation Panther's Claw in Helmand province last week. He described how he managed to apply a tourniquet to his leg wound and to that of an injured comrade as he returned gunfire.

On that day, 7 July, Matthews's close friend Christopher Whiteside, 22, was killed by an improvised bomb in a separate operation in Gereshk.

The number of British soldiers seriously wounded rose significantly last month, according to figures released todayby the Ministry of Defence. A total of 13 were "very seriously" or "seriously" wounded in action, with their lives being "imminently in danger" or their injuries a cause for "immediate concern".

A further 46 soldiers were admitted to field hospitals last month. However, the figures do not reveal the total number of soldiers with injuries conventionally regarded as serious, including the loss of limbs. The figures for July are likely to be worse, defence officials acknowledge.

Matthews, nicknamed "Bulletproof Tony", has returned home to Dunston, Gateshead, with a cricket ball-sized wound after a month of fighting that has claimed the lives of 17 British soldiers.

Recovering from surgery to the blast wound on his left leg, Matthews said he had feared for his own life.

He said: "There aren't many people can tell the tale of getting hit by a grenade. I've just been very lucky. We came out of the compound we had taken over, and there was a tree line that we used as cover. My mates were beside me at either side, and then all I remember is hearing a massive bang.

"There was dirt all over their faces and they were screaming. It was like a scene out of Saving Private Ryan. My ears had gone and I looked at my friend and I could see he had been hit badly. I turned and looked down at my leg and my pants were all broken. I put a tourniquet on while I was still shooting."

The Light Dragoons were based near Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital. During the early hours of 7 July, his platoon stepped into an ambush. A rocket-propelled grenade seriously wounded Matthews and his friend, Trooper Aaron Bradley.

"When the bullets are whizzing past it's terrifying," said Matthews. "They sound like bees flying past your ears, and then you hear them land and it sounds like someone clapping their hands."

After being hit, he said, "it was just adrenaline. I didn't feel anything. I stabbed myself with morphine and held on until the helicopters came. They got us back to Camp Bastion in four minutes."

After treatment there he was flown to Birmingham's Selly Oak hospital, where an operation sealed a deep wound across the back of his left leg. A few days before he was hit by the grenade, Matthews had been on a foot patrol behind a Scimitar tank which was blown up by a roadside bomb. His arms were hit by shrapnel.

He said: "No one was killed or even injured badly that time, amazingly. A team came out to clear the area and make sure it wasn't a 'daisy chain', where a number of bombs are linked to a single command and control wire.

"It's proper war out there. One time it took us from first light until last light just to move 800 metres. We were in constant contact with the enemy."

His house was decked out in Union flags to welcome him home, and he is now recuperating alongside his mother, Karine, brother Kallum, 13, and girlfriend Sam, 20.
Title: Fallujah
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 16, 2009, 11:03:09 AM;jsessionid=26F40AC4E0566E724DD335F4655D5BAB?displayContent=140289&page=1
Title: Hunches
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 28, 2009, 08:09:15 AM
Published: July 27, 2009
The sight was not that unusual, at least not for Mosul, Iraq, on a summer morning: a car parked on the sidewalk, facing opposite traffic, its windows rolled up tight. Two young boys stared out the back window, kindergarten age maybe, their faces leaning together as if to share a whisper.

Jennifer Murphy, a psychologist at the Army Research Institute, demonstrated a test used to determine the characteristics of service members who might have exceptional abilities at detecting roadside bombs.

For all that scientists have studied it, the brain remains the most complex and mysterious human organ — and, now, the focus of billions of dollars’ worth of research to penetrate its secrets.

This is the third article in a series that is looking in depth at some of the insights these projects are producing.

“One afternoon I remember turning down a road in Baghdad we were very familiar with, and there’s no one out — very creepy for that time of day.” Sgt. Dan Gomez, speaking about when he and others sensed something was amiss and ended up avoiding a roadside bomb.

The soldier patrolling closest to the car stopped. It had to be hot in there; it was 120 degrees outside. “Permission to approach, sir, to give them some water,” the soldier said to Sgt. First Class Edward Tierney, who led the nine-man patrol that morning.

“I said no — no,” Sergeant Tierney said in a telephone interview from Afghanistan. He said he had an urge to move back before he knew why: “My body suddenly got cooler; you know, that danger feeling.”

The United States military has spent billions on hardware, like signal jamming technology, to detect and destroy what the military calls improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.’s, the roadside bombs that have proved to be the greatest threat in Iraq and now in Afghanistan, where Sergeant Tierney is training soldiers to foil bomb attacks.

Still, high-tech gear, while helping to reduce casualties, remains a mere supplement to the most sensitive detection system of all — the human brain. Troops on the ground, using only their senses and experience, are responsible for foiling many I.E.D. attacks, and, like Sergeant Tierney, they often cite a gut feeling or a hunch as their first clue.

Everyone has hunches — about friends’ motives, about the stock market, about when to fold a hand of poker and when to hold it. But United States troops are now at the center of a large effort to understand how it is that in a life-or-death situation, some people’s brains can sense danger and act on it well before others’ do.

Experience matters, of course: if you have seen something before, you are more likely to anticipate it the next time. And yet, recent research suggests that something else is at work, too.

Small differences in how the brain processes images, how well it reads emotions and how it manages surges in stress hormones help explain why some people sense imminent danger before most others do.

Studies of members of the Army Green Berets and Navy Seals, for example, have found that in threatening situations they experience about the same rush of the stress hormone cortisol as any other soldier does. But their levels typically drop off faster than less well-trained troops, much faster in some cases.

In the past two years, an Army researcher, Steven Burnett, has overseen a study into human perception and bomb detection involving about 800 military men and women. Researchers have conducted exhaustive interviews with experienced fighters. They have administered personality tests and measured depth perception, vigilance and related abilities. The troops have competed to find bombs in photographs, videos, virtual reality simulations and on the ground in mock exercises.

The study complements a growing body of work suggesting that the speed with which the brain reads and interprets sensations like the feelings in one’s own body and emotions in the body language of others is central to avoiding imminent threats.

“Not long ago people thought of emotions as old stuff, as just feelings — feelings that had little to do with rational decision making, or that got in the way of it,” said Dr. Antonio Damasio, director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California. “Now that position has reversed. We understand emotions as practical action programs that work to solve a problem, often before we’re conscious of it. These processes are at work continually, in pilots, leaders of expeditions, parents, all of us.”

Seeing What Others Miss

The patrol through Mosul’s main marketplace never became routine, not once, not after the 10th time or the 40th. A divot in the gravel, a slight shadow in a ditch, a pile of discarded cans; any one could be deadly; every one raised the same question: Is there something — anything — out of place here?

Clearing a road of bombs is one of the least glamorous and most dangerous jobs on the planet. It is also one of the most important. In May, coalition forces found 465 of them in Afghanistan and 333 in Iraq. The troops foiled more than half the traps over all — but about 10 percent of the bombs killed or maimed a soldier or a Marine.

“We had indicators we’d look for, but you’d really have to be aware of everything, every detail,” said Sergeant Tierney, whose unit was working with the Iraqi police in that summer of 2004.

In recent years, the bombs have become more powerful, the hiding places ever more devious. Bombs in fake rocks. Bombs in poured concrete, built into curbs. Bombs triggered by decoy bombs.

“On one route sweep mission, there was a noticeable I.E.D. in the middle of the road, but it was a decoy,” said Lt. Donovan Campbell, who in 2004 led a Marine platoon for seven months of heavy fighting in Ramadi and wrote a vivid book, “Joker One,” about the experience. “The real bomb was encased in concrete, a hundred meters away, in the midst of rubble. One of my Marines spotted it. He said, ‘That block looks too symmetrical, too perfect.’ ”

Lieutenant Campbell had the area cleared and the bomb destroyed.

“Unless you know what rubble in that part of Iraq looks like, there’s no way you’d see that,” he said. “I had two guys, one we called Hound Dog, who were really good at spotting things that didn’t fit.”

Soldiers looked for roadside bombs in Afghanistan. Troops, using only their senses and experience, are responsible for foiling many roadside bomb attacks.
Brain Power
The Gut Feeling
For all that scientists have studied it, the brain remains the most complex and mysterious human organ — and, now, the focus of billions of dollars’ worth of research to penetrate its secrets.

This is the third article in a series that is looking in depth at some of the insights these projects are producing.

The men and women who performed best in the Army’s I.E.D. detection study had the sort of knowledge gained through experience, according to a preliminary analysis of the results; but many also had superb depth perception and a keen ability to sustain intense focus for long periods. The ability to pick odd shapes masked in complex backgrounds — a “Where’s Waldo” type of skill that some call anomaly detection — also predicted performance on some of the roadside bomb simulations.

“Some of these things cannot be trained, obviously,” said Jennifer Murphy, a psychologist at the Army Research Institute and the principal author of the I.E.D. study. “But some may be; these are fighters who become very sensitive to small changes in the environment. They’ll clear the same road every day and notice ridiculously subtle things: this rock was not here yesterday.”

In a study that appeared last month, neuroscientists at Princeton University demonstrated just how sensitive this visual ability is — and how a gut feeling may arise before a person becomes conscious of what the brain has registered.

They had students try to pick out figures — people or cars — in a series of photos that flashed by on a computer screen. The pictures flashed by four at a time, and the participants were told to scan only two of them, either those above and below the center point, or those to the left and right. Eye-tracking confirmed that they did just that.

But brain scans showed that the students’ brains registered the presence of people or cars even when the figures appeared in photos that they were not paying attention to. They got better at it, too, with training.

Some people’s brains were almost twice as fast at detecting the figures as others’. “It appears that the brain primes the whole visual system to be strongly sensitive to categories of visual input,” kinds of things to look for, said Marius V. Peelen, a neuroscientist at Princeton and a co-author of the study with Li Fei-Fei and Sabine Kastner. “And apparently some people’s visual system processes things much faster than others’.”

Something in the Air

A soldier or Marine could have X-ray vision and never see most I.E.D.’s, however. Veterans say that those who are most sensitive to the presence of the bombs not only pick up small details but also have the ability to step back and observe the bigger picture: extra tension in the air, unusual rhythms in Iraqi daily life, oddities in behavior.

“One afternoon I remember turning down a road in Baghdad we were very familiar with, and there’s no one out — very creepy for that time of day,” said Sgt. Don Gomez, a spokesman for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, who took part in the invasion and later, in 2005, drove a general in and around Baghdad.

Trash was heaped in a spot along the street where Sergeant Gomez and other drivers in the convoy had not seen it before, so they gave it a wide berth.

“We later called it in to an explosives team and, sure enough, they found one and detonated it — the thing left a huge crater,” he said.

As the brain tallies cues, big and small, consciously and not, it may send out an alarm before a person fully understands why.

In a landmark experiment in 1997, researchers at the University of Iowa had people gamble on a simple card game. Each participant was spotted $2,000 and had to choose cards from any of four decks. The cards offered immediate rewards, of $50 or $100, and the occasional card carried a penalty. But the game was rigged: the penalties in two of the decks were modest and in the other two decks were large.

The pattern was unpredictable, but on average the players reported “liking” some decks better than others by the 50th card to the 80th card drawn before they could fully explain why. Their bodies usually tensed up — subtly, but significantly, according to careful measures of sweat — in a few people as early as about the 10th card drawn, according to the authors, Dr. Damasio; his wife, Dr. Hanna Damasio; Dr. Antoine Bechara; and Dr. Daniel Tranel.

In a study published in May, researchers at King’s College in London did brain scans of people playing the gambling game used in the University of Iowa study. Several brain regions were particularly active, including the orbitofrontal cortex, which is involved in decision making, and the insula, where the brain is thought to register the diverse sensations coming from around the body and interpret them as a cohesive feeling — that cooling sensation of danger. In some brains, the alarm appears to sound earlier, and perhaps more intensely, than average.


Page 3 of 3)

Gut feelings about potential threats or opportunities are not always correct, and neuroscientists debate the conditions under which the feeling precedes the conscious awareness of the clues themselves. But the system evolved for survival, and, in some people, is apparently exquisitely sensitive, the findings suggest.

For all that scientists have studied it, the brain remains the most complex and mysterious human organ — and, now, the focus of billions of dollars’ worth of research to penetrate its secrets.

This is the third article in a series that is looking in depth at some of the insights these projects are producing.

Mastering the Fear

One thing did not quite fit on the morning of Sergeant Tierney’s patrol in Mosul. The nine soldiers left the police station around 9 a.m., but they did not get their usual greeting. No one shot at them or fired a rocket-propelled grenade. Minutes passed, and nothing.

The soldiers walked the road in an odd silence, scanning the landscape for evidence of I.E.D.’s and trying to stay alert for an attack from insurgents. In war, anxiety can run as high as the Iraqi heat, and neuroscientists say that the most perceptive, observant brain on earth will not pick up subtle clues if it is overwhelmed by stress.

In the Army study of I.E.D. detection, researchers found that troops who were good at spotting bombs in simulations tended to think of themselves as predators, not prey. That frame of mind by itself may work to reduce anxiety, experts say.

The brains of elite troops also appear to register perceived threats in a different way from the average enlistee, said Dr. Martin P. Paulus, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Diego, and the V.A. San Diego Healthcare System. At the sight of angry faces, members of the Navy Seals show significantly higher activation in the insula than regular soldiers, according to a just-completed study.

“The big question is whether these differences perceiving threat are natural, or due to training,” Dr. Paulus said.

That morning in Mosul, Sergeant Tierney gave the command to fall back. The soldier who had asked to approach the car had just time enough to turn before the bomb exploded. Shrapnel clawed the side of his face; the shock wave threw the others to the ground. The two young boys were gone: killed in the blast, almost certainly, he said.

Since then, Sergeant Tierney has often run back the tape in his head, looking for the detail that tipped him off. Maybe it was the angle of the car, or the location; maybe the absence of an attack, the sleepiness in the market: perhaps the sum of all of the above.

“I can’t point to one thing,” he said. “I just had that feeling you have when you walk out of the house and know you forgot something — you got your keys, it’s not that — and need a few moments to figure out what it is.”

He added, “I feel very fortunate none of my men were killed or badly wounded.”
Title: Brit officer makes bayonet kill in Afg
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 14, 2009, 02:19:52 PM
A British Lieutenant and his bayonet


By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
Published: 9:00PM BST 12 Sep 2009

British officer wins two gallantry awards for fending off Taliban attack with bayonet

A young British officer, Lieutenant James Adamson, who won two gallantry awards while serving in Afghanistan has told how he fended off an enemy attack by bayoneting a Taliban fighter to death.
Lieutenant James Adamson was awarded the Military Cross after killing two insurgents during close quarter combat in Helmand's notorious "Green Zone".

The 24-year-old officer, a member of the 5th battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, revealed that he shouted "have some of this" before shooting dead a gunman who had just emerged from a maize field.
Lt Adamson, who is single and comes from the Isle of Man, was moving between two eight man sections when a group of Taliban fighters attempted a flanking attack

Seconds later and out of ammunition, the lieutenant leapt over a river bank and killed a second insurgent machine-gunner with a single thrust of his bayonet in the man's chest.
The officer was one of 145 members of the armed services who last week received awards in the latest Operational Honours list.
In a graphic description of the intense fighting in Helmand, the officer told of the moment killed the second fighter. He said: "It was a split second decision.
"I either wasted vital seconds changing the magazine on my rifle or went over the top and did it more quickly with the bayonet.
"I took the second option. I jumped up over the bank of the river. He was just over the other side, almost touching distance.
"We caught each other's eye as I went towards him but by then, for him, it was too late. There was no inner monologue going on in my head I was just reacting in the way that I was trained.
"He was alive when it went in – he wasn't alive when it came out – it was that simple."
Recalling his feelings in the moments afterwards Lt Adamson, said: "He was young, with dark hair. He only had kind of whispy hair on his chin, not a proper beard, so he wasn't that old, maybe a teenager.
"Afterwards, when he was dead, I picked up his PKM (Russian-made belt-fed machine gun) machine gun and slung it over my back.
"We then had to wait for more of my men to join us. We thought there could be more Taliban about and we were just watching our arcs of fire, waiting for more to come out of a big field of maize which came right up to the river we had been wading through.
"One of my men, Corporal Billy Carnegie, reached us, looked at the two dead Taliban on the ground and then saw the blood on my bayonet and said "boss what the **** have you been doing?"
The firefight, in July 2008, began during the middle an operation to push the Taliban out of an area close to the town of Musa Qala in northern Helmand.
Lt Adamson's platoon of 25-men, which was leading the assault, had just halted their advance when they were attacked.

He continued: "The Taliban kept on probing us – sending in fighters to attack, first in twos then in fours.
"There was a gap between the two sections and the Taliban realised this and were sending in men to get between the two groups so they could split us up and isolate us.
"Myself and Corporal Fraser 'Hammy' Hamilton were wading nipple deep down a river which connected the two positions. Hammy was ahead when the Taliban fighter with the PKM (Russian machine gun) appeared from a maize field.
"There was an exchange of fire and 'Hammy' fired off his ammunition and then the weight of fire coming from the Taliban forced him under the water.
"The machine-gunner had also gone to ground but was still firing in our direction periodically. I had just caught up when 'Hammy' came up out of the water like a monster of the deep.
"Then another Taliban man came through the maize carrying an AK47. He was only three to four metres away.
"I immediately shot him with a burst from my rifle which was already set on automatic. He went down straight away and I knew I had hit him.
"Hammy said I shouted: 'have some of this' as I shot him but I can't remember that. I fired another burst at the PKM gunner and then that was me out of ammunition as well.
"That was when I decided to use the bayonet on him. It was a case of one second to bayonet him or two seconds to put on a fresh magazine.
"Nothing was really going through my mind but briefly I did think 'if this works out the boys will love it' – as in the rest of the platoon that I commanded.
"The undergrowth is so dense in the 'Green zone' that I often ordered bayonets fixed because you knew the distances between you and the Taliban could be very short. It is also good for morale."
His Military Cross citation read: "Adamson's supreme physical courage, combined with the calm leadership he continued to display after a very close encounter with the Taliban, were of the very highest order.
"His actions also neutralised an enemy flanking attack which could have resulted in casualties for his platoon."
Two weeks earlier Lt Adamson had won a Mention in Dispatches (MID) by leading his men in an ambush against the Taliban in the same area.
It is understood that the young lieutenant is the first member of the armed forces to receive two awards for gallantry during the same operational tour.
Title: A French soldier's view
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 19, 2009, 10:59:05 AM
A French Infantryman's View of American Soldiers
Nov 26 Written by: host
11/26/2008 10:46 PM   

Subject: [warrior$] French view
Date: Fri, 21 Nov 2008 08:28:44 -0600
A friend sent this out
Military21 Sep 2008 at 13:56 by Jean-Marc Liotier
American troops in Afghanistan through the eyes of a French OMLT infantryman
The US often hears echoes of worldwide hostility against the application of its foreign policy, but seldom are they reached by the voices of those who experience first hand how close we are to the USA. In spite of contextual political differences and conflicting interests that generate friction, we do share the same fundamental values - and when push comes to shove that is what really counts. Through the eyes of that French OMLT (Operational Mentoring Liaison Teams) infantryman you can see how strong the bond is on the ground. In contrast with the Americans, the French soldiers don't seem to write much online - or maybe the proportion is the same but we just have less people deployed. Whatever the reason, this is a rare and moving testimony which is why I decided to translate it into English, so that American people can catch a glimpse of the way European soldiers see them. Not much high philosophy here, just the first hand impressions of a soldier in contact - but that only makes it more authentic.
Here is the original French article,
and here is my translation :
"We have shared our daily life with two US units for quite a while - they are the first and fourth companies of a prestigious infantry battalion whose name I will withhold for the sake of military secrecy. To the common man it is a unit just like any other. But we live with them and got to know them, and we henceforth know that we have the honor to live with one of the most renowned units of the US Army - one that the movies brought to the public as series showing "ordinary soldiers thrust into extraordinary events". Who are they, those soldiers from abroad, how is their daily life, and what support do they bring to the men of our OMLT every day ? Few of them belong to the Easy Company, the one the TV series focuses on. This one nowadays is named Echo Company, and it has become the support company.
They have a terribly strong American accent - from our point of view the language they speak is not even English. How many times did I have to write down what I wanted to say rather than waste precious minutes trying various pronunciations of a seemingly common word? Whatever state they are from, no two accents are alike and they even admit that in some crisis situations they have difficulties understanding each other.

Heavily built, fed at the earliest age with Gatorade, proteins and creatine (Heh. More like Waffle House and McDonalds) - they are all heads and shoulders taller than us and their muscles remind us of Rambo. Our frames are amusingly skinny to them - we are wimps, even the strongest of us - and because of that they often mistake us for Afghans.
Here we discover America as it is often depicted : their values are taken to their paroxysm, often amplified by promiscuity and the loneliness of this outpost in the middle of that Afghan valley. Honor, motherland - everything here reminds of that : the American flag floating in the wind above the outpost, just like the one on the post parcels. Even if recruits often originate from the hearth of American cities and gang territory, no one here has any goal other than to hold high and proud the star spangled banner. Each man knows he can count on the support of a whole people who provides them through the mail all that an American could miss in such a remote front-line location : books, chewing gums, razorblades, Gatorade, toothpaste etc. in such way that every man is aware of how much the American people backs him in his difficult mission. And that is a first shock to our preconceptions : the American soldier is no individualist. The team, the group, the combat team are the focus of all his attention.
And they are impressive warriors ! We have not come across bad ones, as strange at it may seem to you when you know how critical French people can be. Even if some of them are a bit on the heavy side, all of them provide us everyday with lessons in infantry know-how. Beyond the wearing of a combat kit that never seem to discomfort them (helmet strap, helmet, combat goggles, rifles etc.) the long hours of watch at the outpost never seem to annoy them in the slightest. On the one square meter wooden tower above the perimeter wall they stand the five consecutive hours in full battle rattle and night vision goggles on top, their sight unmoving in the directions of likely danger. No distractions, no pauses, they are like statues nights and days. At night, all movements are performed in the dark - only a handful of subdued red lights indicate the occasional presence of a soldier on the move. Same with the vehicles whose lights are covered - everything happens in pitch dark even filling the fuel tanks with the Japy pump.
And combat ? If you have seen Rambo you have seen it all - always coming to the rescue when one of our teams gets in trouble, and always in the shortest delay. That is one of their tricks : they switch  from T-shirt and sandals to combat ready in three minutes. Arriving in contact with the enemy, the way they fight is simple and disconcerting : they just charge ! They disembark and assault in stride, they bomb first and ask questions later - which cuts any pussyfooting short.
(This is the main area where I'd like to comment. Anyone with a passing knowledge of Kipling knows the lines from Chant Pagan: 'If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white/remember it's ruin to run from a fight./So take open order, lie down, sit tight/And wait for supports like a soldier./ This, in fact, is the basic philosophy of both British and Continental soldiers. 'In the absence of orders, take a defensive position.' Indeed, virtually every army in the world. The American soldier and Marine, however, are imbued from early in their training with the ethos: In the Absence of Orders: Attack! Where other forces, for good or ill, will wait for precise orders and plans to respond to an attack or any other 'incident', the American force will simply go, counting on firepower and SOP to carry the day.
This is one of the great strengths of the American force in combat and it is something that even our closest allies, such as the Brits and Aussies (that latter being closer by the way) find repeatedly surprising. No wonder is surprises the hell out of our enemies.)
We seldom hear any harsh word, and from 5 AM onwards the camp chores are performed in beautiful order and always with excellent spirit. A passing American helicopter stops near a stranded vehicle just to check that everything is alright; an American combat team will rush to support ours before even knowing how dangerous the mission is - from what we have been given to witness, the American soldier is a beautiful and worthy heir to those who liberated France and Europe.
To those who bestow us with the honor of sharing their combat outposts and who everyday give proof of their military excellence, to those who pay the daily tribute of America's army's deployment on Afghan soil, to those we owned this article, ourselves hoping that we will always remain worthy of them and to always continue hearing them say that we are all the same band of brothers".
Much of this the various veterans reading will go 'Well, duh. Of course we do our 'camp chores' and stand our posts in good order. There's a reason for them and if we didn't we'd get our heads handed to us eventually. And, yeah, we're in shape. Makes battle easier. The more you sweat, the less you bleed.'
What is hard for most people to comprehend is that that attitude represented only the most elite units of the past. Current everyday conventional boring 'leg infantry' units exceed the PT levels and training levels of most Special Forces during the Vietnam War. They exceed both of those as well as IQ and educational levels of: Waffen SS, WWII Rangers, WWII Airborne and British 'Commando' units during WWII. Their per-unit combat-functionality is essentially unmeasurable because it has to be compared to something and there's nothing comparable in industrial period combat history.
This group is so much better than 'The Greatest Generation' at war that WWII vets who really get a close look at how good these kids are stand in absolute awe.
So much of 'The scum of the earth, enlisted for drink.'
Everyone complains about the quality of 'the new guys.' Don't. The screw-ups of this modern generation are head and shoulders above the 'high-medium' of any past group. Including mine.
This is 'The Greatest Generation' of soldiers.
They may never be equalled.
I wish to hell this would actually get reprinted in the NYT.


Title: flying hospital
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 21, 2009, 05:16:17 AM
Hospital Aircraft
Title: Navy PO2, EOD2 Mike Monsoor
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 28, 2009, 05:10:20 AM


The Sailor Pictured Below Is Navy Petty Officer PO2 (Petty Officer, Second Class) EOD2 (Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Second Class) "MIKE MONSOOR"

April 5th, 1981 ~ September 29th, 2006

Mike Monsoor,

Was Awarded "The Congressional Medal Of Honor" Last Week, For Giving His Life In Iraq , As He Jumped On, And Covered With His Body, A Live Hand Grenade That Was Accidentally Dropped By A Navy Seal Saving The Lives Of A Large Group Of Navy Seals That Was Passing By!


During Mike Monsoor's Funeral,

At Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery , In San Diego , California .

 The Six Pallbearers Removed The Rosewood Casket From The Hearse,

And Lined Up On Each Side Of Mike Monsoor's Casket,

 Were His Family Members, Friends, Fellow Sailors, And Well-wishers.

The Column Of People Continued From The Hearse, All The Way To The Grave Site.

What The Group Didn't Know At The Time Was,

Every Navy Seal

(45 To Be Exact)

That Mike Monsoor Saved That Day Was Scattered Throughout The Column!


As The Pallbearers Carried The Rosewood Casket

 Down The Column Of People To The Grave Side.

The Column Would Collapse.

Which Formed A Group Of People That Followed Behind.


Every Time The Rosewood Casket Passed A Navy Seal,

 He Would Remove His Gold Trident Pin From His Uniform,

And Slap It Down Hard,

Ca us ing The Gold Trident Pin To Embed Itself

Into The Top Of The Wooden Casket!

Then The Navy Seal Would Step Back From The Column, And Salute!


Now For Those,

(And Me)

Who Doesn't Know What A Trident Pin Is or What It Looks Like?

Here Is The Definition And Photo!


After One Completes The Basic Navy Seals Program Which Lasts For Three Weeks,

 And Is Followed By Seal Qualification Training,

 Which Is 15 More Weeks Of Training,

Necessary To Continue Improving Basic Skills And To Learn New Tactics And Techniques,

 Required For An Assignment To A Navy Seal Platoon.

After successful completion,

Trainees Are Given Their Naval Enlisted Code,

And Are Awarded The Navy Seal Trident Pin.

 With This Gold Pin They Are Now Officially Navy Seals!

It Was Said,

That You Could Hear Each Of The 45 Slaps From Across The Cemetery!

By The Time The Rosewood Casket Reached The Grave Site,

It Looked As Though It Had A Gold Inlay From The 45 Trident Pins That Lined The Top!


This Was A Fitting End To An Eternal Send-Off For A Warrior Hero!

This Should Be Front-Page News!

Instead Of The Garbage We Listen To And See Every Day.


Title: Brit Captain Peter Lake
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 28, 2009, 05:43:28 AM
Second post of the morning:

Resistance hero 'told to leave'

 Capt Lake was known by his French field name Jean-Pierre Lenormand

A British officer who trained French Resistance fighters during World War II was told to "go home" by Charles de Gaulle, newly released files show.
Peter Lake was awarded the Military Cross and France's Croix de Guerre for his actions in the run-up to D-Day.
But just three months after the Allied landings, the leader of Free France told him he had "no business" there.
Mr Lake died in June aged 94, but his account of the meeting has been released by the National Archives.
It is contained within his Special Operations Executive personnel file and describes a meeting with Gen de Gaulle in the town of Saintes, south-west France, on 18 September 1944.
Nom de guerre
Mr Lake, then a captain, spoke fluent French and was known by the field name Jean-Pierre Lenormand.
He decided to join a number of French officers who went along to greet the general, but was surprised by the conversation that followed.

General de Gaulle: "Jean-Pierre, that's a French name."
Mr Lake: "My nom de guerre, mon general."
Gen de Gaulle: "What are you doing here?"
Mr Lake: "I belong to the Inter-Allied Mission for Dordogne, and I am at the moment with Dordogne troops at Marennes, mon general."
Gen de Gaulle: "But what are you doing here?"
Mr Lake: "I am training certain troops for special operations."
Gen de Gaulle: "Our troops don't need training. You have no business here."
Mr Lake: "I obey the orders of my superiors."
Gen de Gaulle: "You have no business here, I say. You have no right to exercise a command."
Mr Lake: "Mon general, I exercise no command."
Gen de Gaulle: "We don't need you here. It only remains for you to leave. You too must go home. Return, return quickly. Au revoir."
Later, Mr Lake noted: "The whole dialogue passed very quickly and in a tone of voice which there was no mistaking.
"It was so unexpected that I must confess I was far too taken aback to reply intelligently, and I think the majority of those present had similar reactions."
 Capt Lake was parachuted into France in April 1944

Despite the incident, Mr Lake was highly regarded by senior Army commanders and was referred to in an official report as "modest, unassuming, but possessed of considerable authority".
"His dust-up with de Gaulle showed him to be a good diplomat, level-headed and intelligent," the report added.
Mr Lake was parachuted into the Dordogne on the night of 9 April 1944 and immediately began training teams of resistance operatives.
To do this he organised "evening classes" in subjects such as sabotage, but recalled that his first sortie was with fighters who were "armed like pirates, behaved like pirates and expected me to do likewise".
After the D-Day landings on 6 June, Mr Lake said the situation became "very precarious" as the Germans stepped up attacks on the resistance.
Nevertheless, in mid-June he carried out a daring operation to blow up a major railway line.
Mr Lake returned to Britain in October 1944 and went on to have a successful career with the UK consular service.
Title: A son'
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 11, 2009, 07:29:33 PM
November 8, 2009
A Brief Visit From My Soldier Son

SEVERAL years ago, as Labor Day approached and parents nationwide began that end-of-summer ritual I know all too well — packing the children off to college — I found myself facing a new and particularly fraught task: preparing to return my son not to college but to war, to the mountain passes northeast of Kandahar, Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan.
Instead of going to Staples to compare the features of the latest line of laptops or to pick out an alarm clock as I had done with our older children, I went shopping with Ian in the hunting section of Ray’s Sporting Goods, where we bought every last can of sandstone and olive green spray paint to camouflage his gear.
I am a minister in an affluent suburb of New York City. Nothing in my life had led me to expect that Veteran’s Day would honor the military service of a child of mine. But on Sept. 11, 2001, a morning when we lost many friends and neighbors, Ian left high school and drove to the top of the parking lot at Overlook Hospital in Summit, where he watched the second tower of the World Trade Center come down.
A varsity lacrosse player, he decided in the ensuing months that instead of following the path of his siblings and peers, he would enlist in the Army, the only senior at Summit High School to do so. Eventually he would become an Army scout with the 25th Infantry, doing reconnaissance work in the hunt for Al Qaeda militants.
It is strange when your child can be on the front lines, scouting the mountains of Afghanistan and still able to call you on your cellphone at the beach. But that is what Ian did that August from a satellite phone, the reception so clear it sounded like he was right down the road.
“Dad,” he said. “I’ve got some news.”
“Are you O.K.?”
“Yes, it’s all good. I’m coming home in two weeks on leave. But I need you to talk to Mom.”
“About what?”
“I’m getting married.”
Ian had always been an impulsive, passionate kid, and we knew that he and Brandi had been dating for a year — she was also in the Army in Afghanistan, stationed in Kandahar. So it wasn’t the wedding news that threw us as much as the fact that we would only have two weeks to prepare.
No matter. We assumed that it would be a modest affair, attended only by family and a few friends, given the short notice. But word spread quickly, and soon we found ourselves planning a wedding for 200. Luckily, nearly everyone who found out about the sudden ceremony volunteered to help, which is the only way we were able to get it done.
Ian and Brandi’s route home took them from Kandahar to Uzbekistan to Kuwait City and then to Frankfurt, where they rushed to make a commercial flight to Newark that was being held for them.
The pilot of that plane announced that they were awaiting two soldiers on leave from Afghanistan who were going home to get married, and when Ian and Brandi finally boarded, dressed in their fatigues, the passengers stood and applauded.
At our end, I got choked up to see them still in uniform as they came toward me carrying so little. Unlike our college kids, who can fill a Chevy Suburban and then some with all their clothing, furniture, books and electronics, all of Ian’s and Brandi’s gear fit into two Army backpacks.
When Ian hugged me, he felt strong, very strong.
For the rehearsal dinner, my wife and I and our future in-laws presented a slide show of Ian’s and Brandi’s childhoods — a review of the kind of outdoorsy people they had always been, with a lot of laughter and joking. But in the middle of the show I had a moment of emotional weakness, remembering a similar slide show someone put together for a funeral I had recently attended.
I never wanted to pass around photos of Ian while talking about how great he was when he was alive. The fear of death always hovers over the families of those on active duty. Sometimes you try to bargain with it or push it aside, but it’s always there. All I felt we could do that would be spiritually productive was to celebrate the wonder and goodness of life in the midst of our anxiety. What better occasion to do that than a wedding?
And what a wedding it was. The church filled with Ian’s friends who had delayed returning to college to be there — all beautiful young people, so handsome in their suits and evening dresses, on their way back to Georgetown, Middlebury, Duke and Brown.
They were respectful but surely curious at the spectacle. My son was a bit of a wild man in high school — not a person anyone would have predicted to be the first to marry. And in the college world his friends inhabit, especially the fraternity world, marriage is not exactly at the top of everyone’s list.
In the world of the enlisted men and women, however, a premium is placed on loyalty and steadfast support, and this translates into a high rate of marriage, even among young people who are only in their late teens and early 20s. Every day, from basic training to daily missions, where they depend on one another for survival and success, what really matters are loyalty and people who can be counted on. And so it was for Ian and Brandi.
We had to have the reception at our house as my son was just shy of 21 and could not legally drink. This was nothing new to him; American soldiers in Afghanistan are on dry deployment. They don’t have access to cash, either — just a credit card that can be used at the base.
There is precious little to spend it on anyway. Ian’s unit was hardly ever off duty, and often their missions in the field would go on for weeks at a time in those rugged, hostile mountains, periods during which he and his fellow scouts were self-sufficient and capable of sleeping anywhere at any time.
The evening before he had to return, after we finished buying the camo paint, we drifted over to the gun cases. I asked Ian about the sidearms they use in the Army, and he showed me the Glock 9 millimeter pistol that is standard issue. He told me officers complain about it because people can be shot two or three times and they keep running.
“How does the Army prepare soldiers spiritually to kill people?” I asked.
“You train over and over so that when you get there it isn’t a big deal,” he said.
But I worried for him because I knew it was a big deal. So far he had been able to avoid heavy sustained fire. Considering where he was, though, it seemed inevitable that he would engage in deadly combat, and that he would come back changed.
I wanted to stop and pray for his burden right then and there, but I did not. I just put my hand on his shoulder.
At home later, we had our last family meal before his mother and I would take them to the airport in the morning. He and Brandi were so rested from their two-week leave, so full of energy from being together and ready to make plans for a home. But all of that would have to wait until their tour was over. Back in Afghanistan they wouldn’t see each other for long periods of time, and when they did reunite they would literally set up their tent together. But they never once complained to us about this or anything else.
When I used to take my older kids to college, I’d always have to wake them up and get us all going on the morning of departure. Then there were all the last-minute items they typically needed, as well as cash for some extra bill they hadn’t anticipated. I used to joke that each hug cost me $100.
But the morning we took Ian and Brandi to the airport, my son was the one to wake us. It was well before dawn, but they were packed, ready to go and surprisingly alert, considering how little sleep they’d had. There would be no $100 hug.
As it happened, though, he did have one request involving money, though it was about his money, not mine. After spending a few minutes standing around the coffeepot, he handed me a folder. “Dad,” he said. “I need you to hold on to this for me.”
Inside were the records for a bank account he had opened with their wedding gifts, including the name of the teller if I ever needed to speak to her, and some deposit and withdrawal slips.
“The last couple of things are for you,” he said. “You may want to keep them separate.”
It was a power of attorney that would enable me to access his account in the event of his death.
I know I’m supposed to be a pro in these situations, but I could not stop a despairing rush of anxiety from surging through me. My eyes became blurry, and I had to turn away to regain my composure.
As we drove to the airport, nobody spoke. At the departure terminal, I parked the car and got out, and my wife and I and pulled Ian and Brandi close.
I didn’t want to let go of my son — I feared it might be our last hug. But I knew he needed us to be strong and to support them in what they had to do, so I made myself let go.
I kissed them each on the head and said, “You know who loves you.”
With that they turned and walked into the terminal. Ian still had that shuffle he had as a little boy. Despite the backpack and uniform, I saw him as the toddler he once was wearing footie pajamas and dragging his blanket behind him. But he was no longer that boy. He was a man, not yet 21, who looked as if he could handle anything. He had his arm around his wife in support. And just like that he was gone.
Charles Rush is senior minister of Christ Church in Summit, N.J.

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: G M on November 11, 2009, 09:11:20 PM
My eyes got blurry reading that. Must be allergies or something....
Title: Alejandro Ruiz
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 25, 2009, 06:24:00 AM
Not that you would know it from reading the MSM, but as I safely type these words there are those who do for us what this man did so long ago:

Soldier stormed Japanese machine gun bunker

By T. Rees Shapiro
Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Alejandro R. Ruiz Sr., 85, an Army infantryman in World War II who received the Medal of Honor for single-handedly storming a Japanese machine gun bunker -- twice -- during the Battle of Okinawa, died Nov. 23 at a hospital in Napa, Calif. He had congestive heart failure.

On April 28, 1945, in the last months of the war, Pfc. Ruiz deployed to Okinawa on a mission with his platoon, seeking remnants of a Japanese battalion hiding in fortified emplacements on steep ridges near the village of Gasukuma.

The soldiers were patrolling in a ravine when they were ambushed from a network of concealed pillboxes. Coming under heavy fire, every soldier except Pfc. Ruiz and his squad leader was dead or injured.

Realizing that his standard-issue M1 Garand -- with an eight round clip -- would be insufficient against the more powerful Japanese machine guns, Pfc. Ruiz picked up a Browning automatic rifle and began his solo assault. He calmly walked 35 yards to the bunker. He climbed on top and was prepared to fire into it, but a ruptured cartridge jammed the Browning, according to the Medal of Honor citation.

A Japanese soldier charged him, and Mr. Ruiz beat him down with the broken gun. Pfc. Ruiz tossed the rifle aside and ran back through the grenade explosions and gunfire to where his platoon was pinned down. He retrieved a second weapon, tested it and grabbed some extra cans of ammo before he dashed back.

All of the Japanese guns were now trained on Pfc. Ruiz as he raced back through a hail of gunfire. He was hit in the leg, but he managed to climb back on top of the pillboxes. He jumped from one bunker to the other, spraying bursts of gunfire into the apertures.

Pfc. Ruiz's Medal of Honor citation says that "in the face of overwhelming odds," he single-handedly killed 12 Japanese soldiers and silenced the machine gun nest, saving his fellow soldiers.

President Harry S. Truman gave him the Medal of Honor, the military's highest award for valor, during a ceremony at the White House in June 1946. He also received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
Alejandro Renteria Ruiz was born April 26, 1924, in Loving, N.M., to Mexican immigrants. He spent his career in the Army. He also served in the Korean War and retired as a master sergeant in the mid-1960s. He lived for many years in Visalia, Calif., which named a park in his honor. Most recently, he had been living at the Veterans Home in Yountville, Calif., near Napa.

His marriages to Eliza Martinez and Lilia Flores ended in divorce. Survivors include two children from his first marriage, Celia Ruiz and Alejandro Ruiz Jr., both of Berkeley, Calif.; a sister; seven grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

Sgt. Ruiz often recounted the circumstances that led to his Army service. As a teenager working in odd jobs for a cattle farmer in Carlsbad, N.M., he had been tasked to drive a cow to another farm when he became distracted by thoughts of a girlfriend.

He drove, with the cow in tow, straight to Barstow, Tex., 122 miles away, to woo the young woman into marrying him. Sgt. Ruiz was detained, and a judge told him that he would either be sent to jail for kidnapping the cow, or he could enlist in the Army to stay out of trouble. He chose the Army.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 02, 2009, 05:13:20 PM
Title: WSJ: Salute to West Point
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 04, 2010, 05:55:52 PM
Even in the age of emails, blogs and tweets, the formal letter can still command attention. Especially when it bears the signature of the Superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point—and congratulates the recipient on his appointment.

Along with hundreds of other anxious high-school seniors, my nephew opened such a letter over the Christmas holidays. For his family, it brought back many memories. Just about all of us live within an hour's drive of West Point. For most of our lives, the academy has been a beautiful backdrop: for football games, wedding receptions, the occasional drive up for lunch at the Thayer Hotel, and so on.

Now the beauty mixes with apprehension. For me it was brought home in 2006, when I attended the commencement as part of the president's entourage. Theirs was the first class to enter West Point after the attacks of Sept. 11. As I watched these happy graduates, I thought: In a few years, some of those celebrating today will not be with us. Thus far, alas, war has claimed two young men who received the gold bars of a second lieutenant that day: Lt. Nick A. Dewhirst, killed in Afghanistan; Lt. Timothy W. Cunningham, killed in Iraq.

Can my nephew comprehend the sacrifice he commits himself to? The critics say we romanticize war and hide the realities from those who will do the dying. I'm not so sure. At West Point this past autumn for a football game, I went to the refrigerator of a helicopter pilot-turned-instructor in search of a Diet Coke. On the door I found a yellow ribbon with the name of the officer's West Point roommate, an infantry captain named Doug DiCenzo who was killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad when his son was just 16 months old.

.On a campus where the cemetery includes the dead from two centuries of American wars, sobering reminders are everywhere: the young wife and children left behind, the good friends who do not make the trip home, the empty space at the reunion. The true glory of West Point is that all know the fear and cost of war but refuse to surrender to them.

Whether character can be taught is an age-old question; usually we refer to its being built. West Point does not pretend its cadets are immune from the normal temptations of our culture. After all, they come from the same towns and high schools other universities draw from. The difference is that at West Point, words such as duty, honor and country are spoken without irony—and a scandal is a scandal because behavior is still measured against standards.

A paper on the academy's Web site explains the honor code this way: "An officer who is not trustworthy cannot be tolerated; in some professions the cost of dishonesty is measured in dollars—in the Army, the cost is measured in human lives. The ability of West Point to educate, train and inspire outstanding leaders of character for our Army is predicated upon the functional necessity of honesty."

In other words, the promise is not that West Point will produce the next generation of Grants, MacArthurs, Eisenhowers or Petraeuses—though it will. The promise is more consequential. To the moms and dads of all those in uniform, West Point says: When America puts your sons and daughters in harm's way, they will be led by men and woman of character and ability.

In the days since my nephew's acceptance, the reaction has been interesting. Some are impressed. Others . . . well, let's just say the assumption often seems to be that a student chooses a service academy because he or she was not accepted anywhere better, or is going simply because it's free.

In my nephew's case, neither is true. His father and his father's father both served in the Navy; his other grandfather was a Marine. So his loved ones are a little saddened when we come across people apparently unable to process the idea that an intelligent young American with the world at his feet could be led by a sense of duty to West Point in a time of war.

When I look at my nephew, I can still see the baby I once lugged to the car in his carrier. A few springs from now, if he rises to this challenge as we know he will, I will sit in that stadium high above the Hudson as Timothy Dore, USMA Class of '14, takes his place in that long gray line. Around me that day will be thousands of other uncles, aunts, moms, dads, brothers, sisters and grandparents who are now, with great pride, passing around a letter from the West Point superintendent like the one my nephew received.

This academy is not for everyone. But the choice made by these young men and women makes this uncle want to salute.
Title: Foot on Bomb, Marine defies a trap
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 24, 2010, 09:02:48 AM
January 24, 2010

Foot on Bomb, Marine Defies a Taliban Trap

SHOSHARAK, Afghanistan

If luck is the battlefield’s final arbiter — the wild card that can trump fitness, training, teamwork, equipment, character and skill — then Lance Cpl. Ryan T. Mathison experienced its purest and most welcome form.

On a Marine foot patrol here through the predawn chill of Friday morning, he stepped on a pressure-plate rigged to roughly 25 pounds of explosives. The device, enough to destroy a pickup truck or tear apart several men, was buried beneath him in the dusty soil.

It did not explode.

Lance Corporal Mathison’s weight triggered the detonation of one of the booby trap’s two blasting caps. But upon giving an audible pop and tossing small stones into the air, the device failed to ignite its fuller charge — a powerful mix of Eastern Bloc mortar rounds and homemade explosives spiked with motorcycle parts, rusty spark plugs and jagged chunks of steel.

Lance Corporal Mathison and several Marines near him were spared. So began a brief journey through the Taliban’s shifting tactics and the vagaries of war, where an experience at the edge of death became instead an affirmation of friendship, and in which a veteran Marine reluctantly assumed for a morning one of the infantry’s most coveted roles: that of the charmed man.

“Goddamn Matty, man,” said Cpl. Joshua D. Villegas, the patrol’s radio operator, allowing his eyes to roam over the intact Marine after the patrol had backed away from the dud. “Lucky son of a bitch.”

Homemade bombs, which the military calls improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.’s, have become the insurgents’ killing tool of choice in the Afghan war, a complement to the Taliban’s assault rifles, machine guns, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. They serve as a battlefield leveler for elusive fighters who are wary of meeting Western forces head-on.

As their use has multiplied several-fold in the past two years, bomb-disposal specialists and American officers say, the Taliban’s bomb-making cells have sharpened their skills, moving away from smaller bombs in cooking pots to larger bombs encased in multigallon plastic water jugs, cooking-oil containers or ice coolers.

The bombs typically contain a slurry of fertilizer mixed with aluminum-based paint, and are triggered either via switches tripped by their victims or by a militant who detonates the weapon remotely when a victim moves near. Sometimes the insurgents use military-grade explosives from unexploded ordnance or conventional land mines.

No matter their determination or rising level of experience, those who manufacture or place the bombs still make mistakes, as evidenced by events on Friday morning on ground that the Marines call Cemetery Hill.

A foot patrol from Charlie Company, First Battalion, Third Marines left Patrol Base Brannon, a remote outpost in Helmand Province, at about 4:30 a.m., two hours ahead of the sun. The Marines said they were headed to a knoll to settle into an observation post beside a cemetery and watch over a road dubbed Blue Moon.

The cemetery, contained by mud walls and shaded by three tall trees, overlooks part of the small village of Shosharak, including a house from which the Taliban have often fired on Marine patrols. A Marine was killed here last year. It is bitterly contested ground.

The Marines reached the wall. About a half-hour before sunrise, Lance Cpl. Dario P. Quirumbay, 20, the assistant patrol leader, called softly to Lance Corporal Mathison, 21. He wanted to give him a thermal sight to scan the surrounding terrain.

Lance Corporal Mathison moved toward his friend. When he was a few feet away, the weight of his footfall depressed something hidden in the dirt. There was a muffled pop, a sound resembling a man stomping on a bottle. A small explosion — like that of firecracker — lifted his boot. Rocks peppered the two Marines.

“Don’t move!” Lance Corporal Quirumbay said.

Wary of stepping on another bomb, the patrol sat still until light glowed in the eastern horizon, when other Marines unfolded a metal detector and swept around their friend. The detector emitted a loud whine, signaling that a large bomb remained in the soil.

The Marines radioed for a team that specializes in dismantling explosives and backed off the knoll.

By the time the disposal team arrived, sweeping down Blue Moon with metal detectors, most of the Marines understood how lucky they had been. “We were what? Ten meters from it?” said Hospitalman Joseph R. Korte, 20, the patrol’s trauma medic.

“Five,” said Lance Corporal Hickson, 21.

Hospitalman Korte looked over at Lance Corporal Mathison, who was crouched against a wall. “That would have killed you and Q,” he said, using Lance Corporal Quirumbay’s nickname.

Lance Corporal Mathison is a big Marine, thick at the neck and light on his feet, and a veteran of a tour in Iraq’s Anbar Province. He seemed to be suspending belief. He listened to his friends in silence.

“I’m still calling it nothing,” he said at last. “I’m going with that it was nothing.”

He finished his thought. “Makes me feel better,” he said.

The rest of the patrol would not have it. “Well, Matty,” said Lance Corporal Hickson, his voice rising. “You might want to stop drinking, stop cussing.” Someone else mused about all the free beers Lance Corporal Mathison could expect.

Lance Cpl. Jacob M. Ohl, 19, interrupted. “Hickson was reading the Bible last night,” he said. “Been to church three times in his life, and last night he was reading the Bible.”

“I saved you,” Lance Corporal Hickson said.

He grinned. No one seemed sure what to think. They passed cigarettes, except for Lance Corporal Mathison: He pulled a lollipop from a plastic bag and popped it into his mouth.

He watched the two Marines in the disposal team working on the hill. They were busy, and moving cautiously. Lance Corporal Mathison had not wanted to accept that it was a bomb. He was beginning to shift his point of view.

“If this really was an I.E.D, then you ain’t drinking with me,” he said. “Because I’m done drinking. I’m going back to the way I was before I joined the Corps.”

An improvised bomb is a simple thing — a few batteries, a few wires, a blasting cap or two inserted into a stable explosive charge. A pressure plate serves as a switch. When depressed, the circuit is closed, the current from the batteries flows to the blasting cap, igniting the cap and setting off the full blast.

Ordnance specialists have a label for devices designed this way: victim-operated.

As simple as the system seems to be, there are many opportunities for malfunctions. But the Marines were puzzled. Up at the cemetery, a blasting cap had exploded, suggesting that the bomb maker had rigged a working circuit. Were it not for some unexplained fluke, these men knew, the bomb should have detonated, too.

Corporal Villegas, the radio operator, jogged over. “Matty, I love you,” he said as he ducked along the wall.

The arrival of the radio operator meant the Marines now had an infantryman’s oxygen: information. They could overhear radio traffic between the patrol leader and the disposal team.

Word began to reach them. The pressure plate had been connected to two 82-millimeter mortar rounds and a directional fragmentation charge weighing roughly 20 pounds. The meaning of that sunk in. If it had exploded, it would have killed more than the two nearest Marines.

“Oh God, dude,” one of the Marines said. Another strung together a profane phrase. The first word was dodged. The last was death.

“Oh Matty, get over here,” said Lance Corporal Hickson. The two men hugged. They slapped each other’s backs. They let go.

Lance Corporal Mathison was convinced. It really had been a bomb. “We’re all lucky, man,” he said. “That would have hurt us all.”

A few minutes later, Staff Sgt. Christopher J. Dreher, from the disposal team, called for the man who had stepped on the pressure plate. The staff sergeant had collected evidence from the bomb and rigged a small charge of plastic explosive to destroy what remained. He asked Lance Corporal Mathison to ignite the blast.

“If that I.E.D. had worked like it was supposed to?” the staff sergeant said. “Bye-bye, sweetheart.”

“Fire in the hole!” he shouted three times. Then the blast shook the earth. Dirt, stone and bits of metal showered the ground for several seconds — the end of a weapon that had nearly decimated a small patrol.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 27, 2010, 06:20:30 AM
Title: USMC Sgt Proietto
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 29, 2010, 08:45:02 AM
Profiles of Valor: U.S. Marine Corps MGySgt Peter Proietto
United States Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sergeant Peter Proietto was serving in Afghanistan when, on March 12, 2003, his patrol was ambushed by Taliban fighters. As the other Marines in the forward element of the patrol sought cover, Proietto stayed in position -- exposed to enemy fire though he was -- in order to provide suppressive fire for the protection of his comrades.

ProiettoAs the firefight continued, Proietto bravely stayed at the machine gun atop his unarmored vehicle on an open road. The Team Sergeant advised him to leave that position for cover, but he stayed and fired on the enemy for almost an hour until he ran out of ammunition. When the ammunition was gone, he grabbed his M4 carbine and continued to engage the enemy. Soon, the Taliban were pushed from their positions. For his actions, Proietto received the Bronze Star with combat "V" for valor. His citation says he "displayed himself in a courageous professional manner and his heroic and immediate response to enemy fire and willingness to jeopardize his own safety to provide supporting fire for the rest of the team demonstrated a level of dedication to the mission and his fellow soldiers, which is rarely surpassed."
Title: It began here
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 12, 2010, 08:30:43 AM
"When we assumed the Soldier, we did not lay aside the Citizen; and we shall most sincerely rejoice with you in the happy hour when the establishment of American Liberty, upon the most firm and solid foundations shall enable us to return to our Private Stations in the bosom of a free, peacefully and happy Country." --George Washington, address to the New York legislature, 1775
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 18, 2010, 06:12:25 AM
MARJA, Afghanistan — In five days of fighting, the Taliban have shown a side not often seen in nearly a decade of American military action in Afghanistan: the use of snipers, both working alone and integrated into guerrilla-style ambushes.

Five Marines and two Afghan soldiers have been struck here in recent days by bullets fired at long range. That includes one Marine fatally shot and two others wounded in the opening hour of a four-hour clash on Wednesday, when a platoon with Company K of the Third Battalion, Sixth Marines, was ambushed while moving on foot across a barren expanse of flat ground between the clusters of low-slung mud buildings.

Almost every American and Afghan infantryman present has had frightening close calls. Some of the shooting has apparently been from Kalashnikov machine guns, the Marines say, mixed with sniper fire.

The near misses have included lone bullets striking doorjambs beside their faces as Marines peeked around corners, single rounds cracking by just overhead as Marines looked over mud walls, and bullets slamming into the dirt beside them as they ran across the many unavoidable open spaces in the area they have been assigned to clear.

On Wednesday, firing came from primitive compounds, irrigation canals and agricultural fields as the bloody struggle between the Marines and the Taliban for control of the northern portion of this Taliban enclave continued for a fifth day.

In return, Company K used mortars, artillery, helicopter attack gunships and an airstrike in a long afternoon of fighting, which ended, as has been the pattern for nearly a week, with the waning evening light.

The fight to push the Taliban from this small area of Marja, a rural belt of dense poppy cultivation with few roads and almost no services, has relented only briefly since Company K landed by helicopters in the blackness early on Saturday morning. It has been a grinding series of skirmishes triggered by the company’s advances to seize sections of villages, a bridge and a bazaar where it has established an outpost and patrol bases.

Over all, most Taliban small-arms fire has been haphazard and ineffective, an unimpressive display of ill discipline or poor skill. But this more familiar brand of Taliban shooting has been punctuated by the work of what would seem to be several well-trained marksmen.

On Monday, a sniper struck an Afghan soldier in the neck at a range of roughly 500 to 700 yards. The Afghan was walking across an open area when the single shot hit him. He died.

The experience of First Platoon on Wednesday was the latest chilling example. The platoon, laden with its backpacks, was moving west toward the company’s main outpost after several days of operating in the eastern portion of the company’s area.

Marines here often stay within the small clusters of buildings as they walk, seeking the relative protection of mud walls. But it is impossible to move far without venturing into the open to cross to new villages. As First Platoon moved into the last wide expanse before reaching the command post, the Taliban began a complex ambush.

First bullets came from a Kalashnikov firing from the south, said First Lt. Jarrod D. Neff, the platoon commander. The attack had a logic: to the south, a deep irrigation canal separates the insurgents from anyone walking on the north side, where the company’s forces are concentrated. Vegetation is also thicker there, providing ample concealment.

There have been several ambushes in this same spot since the long-planned Afghan and American operation to evict the Taliban and establish a government presence in Marja began. Each time, the Marines and their Afghan counterparts have run through the open by turns, some of them sprinting while others provided suppressive fire.

The routine had been a long and risky maneuver by dashing and dropping, without a hint of cover, as bursts of machine-gun bullets and single sniper shots zipped past or thumped in the soil, kicking up a fine white powder that coats the land. At the end of each ambush, each man was slicked in sweat and winded. Ears rang from the near deafening sound of the Marines and Afghan soldiers returning fire.

As First Platoon made the crossing under machine-gun fire, at least one sniper was also waiting, according to the Marines who crossed. After the Taliban gunmen occupied the platoon’s attention to the south, a sniper opened fire from the north, Marines in the ambush said.


The Marine who was killed was struck in the chest as he ran, just above the bulletproof plate on his body armor, the Marines said. The others were struck in a hand or arm. (The names of the three wounded men have been withheld pending government notification of their families.)

All three were evacuated by an Army Black Hawk helicopter that landed under crackling fire.

Whoever was firing remained hidden, even from the Marines’ rifle scopes. “I was looking and I couldn’t see them,” said Staff Sgt. Jay C. Padilla, an intelligence specialist who made the crossing with First Platoon. “But they were shooting the dirt right next to us.” The sniper also focused, two Marines said, on trying to hit a black Labrador retriever, Jaeger, who has been trained for sniffing out munitions and hidden bombs. The dog was not hit.

The platoon was just outside the company outpost when the ambush began. A squad from Third Platoon rushed out and bounded across the canal, trying to flank the Taliban and chase them away, or to draw their fire so that First Platoon might continue its crossing. The squad came under precise sniper fire, too, while the company coordinated fire support.

First the company fired its 60-millimeter mortars, but the Taliban kept firing. Company K escalated after the Third Platoon commander reported by radio that several insurgents had moved into a compound near the canal.

The forward air controller traveling with Company K, Capt. Akil R. Bacchus, arranged for an airstrike.

About a minute later, a 250-pound GPS-guided bomb whooshed past overhead and slammed into the compound with a thunderous explosion.

“Good hit!” said Capt. Joshua P. Biggers, the company commander. “Good hit.”

After the airstrike, two pairs of attack helicopters were cleared to strafe a set of bunkers and canals that the Taliban fighters had been firing from.

They climbed high over the canal and bore down toward a tree line, guns and rockets firing. Explosions tossed soil and made the ground shudder. First Platoon pushed toward the outpost.

For all the intensity of the fighting in this small area of Marja, and in spite of the hardships and difficulties of the past several days, both Captain Biggers and the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Brian Christmas, suggested Wednesday that the seesaw contest would soon shift.

Company K had been isolated for several days, and by daylight was almost constantly challenged by the Taliban. But on Wednesday morning, before the latest ambush, the battalion had cleared the roads to its outposts, allowing more forces to flow into the area, significantly increasing the company’s strength.

By evening, as Cobra gunships still circled, the results were visible to the Marines and insurgents watching the outpost alike. The company had more supplies, and its contingent of several mine-resistant, ambush-protected troop carriers, called MRAPs — each outfitted with either a heavy machine gun or automatic grenade launcher — had reached the outpost.

Colonel Christmas looked over the outpost’s southern wall at the vegetated terrain beyond the canal. “We’ll be getting in there and clearing that out,” he said.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 22, 2010, 08:28:09 AM
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 10, 2010, 08:51:05 AM
An ret. American SF officer sends me the following:

Real allies. None finer.
Title: 2d Lt Eliot Ackerman USMC, Silver Star
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 12, 2010, 08:35:08 AM
On November 10, 2004, then-2nd Lt. Elliot Ackerman of the United States Marine Corps led a platoon into Fallujah -- at that time, still a hotbed of insurgent activity. The platoon's mission was to establish a foothold from which the battalion would then clear the city. As the Marines pushed into the city, enemy fighters attacked from all sides. Twice in the early fighting, Ackerman risked himself to pull wounded Marines to safety, and then organized their evacuation. As the battle raged, however, the vehicle sent to evacuate the wounded couldn't find their position, so Ackerman again headed into the open and risked what his citation called a "gauntlet of deadly enemy fire" to direct the vehicle to the Marines.

Later in the battle, Ackerman and his team were working to clear a building when he saw some of his Marines exposed on a rooftop. He ordered them down, but took their place to mark targets for American tanks. Under a barrage of enemy fire, he suffered shrapnel wounds in his leg but continued to direct both the attack and four medical evacuations. For his bravery and leadership, Ackerman was awarded the Silver Star. Semper Fi!

Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 14, 2010, 06:23:22 PM
Title: JP Jones 1778
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 11, 2010, 08:22:56 AM
"I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm's way." --John Paul Jones, letter to M. Le Ray de Chaumont, 1778

Title: Great shot!
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 12, 2010, 08:58:28 AM
Title: John Paul Jones
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 13, 2010, 05:39:08 AM
An honorable Peace is and always was my first wish! I can take no delight in the effusion of human Blood; but, if this War should continue, I wish to have the most active part in it." --John Paul Jones, letter to Gouverneur Morris, 1782
Title: POTH: Where's the medals?
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 30, 2010, 05:58:31 AM
ON NOV. 15, 2004, several Marines in dress uniforms came to Rosa Peralta’s San Diego home to tell her that her 25-year-old son, Marine Sgt. Rafael Peralta, had been killed in Falluja by an improvised explosive device. Rosa Peralta was widowed three years earlier when her husband, a mechanic, was crushed to death in a freak accident while working on a garbage truck; now her son’s death seemed every bit as senseless.

 A few days later, while watching the nightly news, Peralta heard a different account of her son’s death. According to the televised report, Rafael Peralta emerged as the hero of the Second Battle of Falluja after deliberately sacrificing his life to save fellow Marines. He was with a unit clearing houses of weapons and insurgents when a group of insurgents attacked from the back room of a home the Marines had entered. A firefight ensued, and Peralta took a bullet in the head — a friendly-fire ricochet. Then an insurgent threw a grenade. Despite his injury, Peralta pulled the grenade under his body before it detonated. By absorbing the force of the blast, he saved the lives of an estimated six of his fellow Marines.
When I visited Rosa Peralta in December, she choked briefly with emotion as she remembered hearing, for the first time, her son called a hero. Shortly after the news story appeared, the Marine Corps informed her that what she heard was true and that the Marines were initially mistaken about the circumstances of her son’s death. Around this time she was also told unofficially, by Marines who knew her son, that he had been nominated for America’s highest military award, the Medal of Honor, and that he was considered certain to receive it.

“I didn’t know anything about medals,” Peralta told me. But she said that the idea that her son would be remembered as a national hero slowly became a source of comfort to her. The Peralta family, which includes Rafael’s three siblings, moved to San Diego from Tijuana, Mexico, when Rafael was a teenager, and he joined the Marines the first moment he could legally do so, on the same morning he got his green card. Though the Peralta parents spoke little English and felt like foreigners in Southern California, Rafael “really loved this country” and loved being a Marine, Peralta told me. As the months after his death wore on, she began to look forward to the day when she would receive the Medal of Honor on his behalf.

But that day never came. Almost four years later, on Sept. 17, 2008, Peralta was summoned to the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, where Lieut. Gen. Richard F. Natonski informed her of the Pentagon’s decision: Rafael Peralta would not be awarded the Medal of Honor after all. Instead he would receive the Navy Cross, the second-highest American military decoration that can be awarded to a Marine. Natonski was not able to offer an explanation at the meeting, but George Sabga, a former Marine who has known Rosa Peralta since her son was killed (and now works, pro bono, as the Peraltas’ lawyer), soon uncovered the story: after Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates reviewed the findings on the circumstances of Rafael Peralta’s death compiled by a review board made up partly of civilian medical specialists, he decided that it could not be determined with sufficient confidence that Peralta deliberately pulled the grenade under his body.

Rosa Peralta was stunned. Her family had received thousands of letters expressing admiration for her son’s already-famous heroism. When Marine officials asked her how she would like to have his Navy Cross presented, she declined it. “I said no,” she told me. “I can’t take that medal now.” In the year and a half since, Peralta has continued to refuse to accept the Navy Cross on Rafael’s behalf, a decision that has placed her in the thick of a growing controversy over how — and how often — Medals of Honor are being awarded.

THE AMERICAN MILITARY has dozens of medals that can be awarded for performance or participation in various endeavors, but only a small handful, known as “valor awards,” are given for acts of courage. The highest and most revered of these is the Medal of Honor. (It is sometimes mistakenly called the Congressional Medal of Honor, presumably because, unlike other military decorations, the Medal of Honor is awarded in the name of Congress.) According to military regulations, the Medal of Honor is awarded to a soldier who performed a deed of “personal bravery” that was “beyond the call of duty” and “involved risk of life.” The heroic actions of Medal of Honor winners are frequently cited by military instructors, and their names are even on occasion chanted in cadences during boot-camp training runs. By custom, all service members, regardless of relative rank, salute a Medal of Honor recipient.


Despite its symbolic importance and educational role in military culture, the Medal of Honor has been awarded only six times for service in Iraq or Afghanistan. By contrast, 464 Medals of Honor were awarded for service during World War II, 133 during the Korean War and 246 during the Vietnam War. “From World War I through Vietnam,” The Army Times claimed in April 2009, “the rate of Medal of Honor recipients per 100,000 service members stayed between 2.3 (Korea) and 2.9 (World War II). But since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, only five Medals of Honor have been awarded, a rate of 0.1 per 100,000 — one in a million.”

Since that article was published, President Obama, on Sept. 17, presented the sixth post-9/11 Medal of Honor to the family of Army Sgt. First Class Jared C. Monti for his heroic efforts, under intense enemy fire, to rescue a wounded fellow soldier in Afghanistan in 2006. Monti died in the attempt. In fact, all six medals since 9/11 have been awarded posthumously. For service during World War II and the Vietnam War, by comparison, roughly 60 percent of all Medals of Honor were awarded posthumously.

The steep decline in the awarding of Medals of Honor — along with the absence, post-9/11, of any Medal of Honor bestowed on a living serviceman — has spurred many military officers and veterans to speak out in protest. These servicemen complain that higher-ups at the Pentagon either downgrade valor-award nominations — as with Peralta’s Navy Cross — or reject them altogether. Petitions supporting a Medal of Honor for Peralta have circulated widely, and there have been calls to reconsider awarding the Medal of Honor to other servicemen, like Army Staff Sgt. Travis Atkins, who received the Distinguished Service Cross posthumously for tackling a suicide bomber in Iraq in 2007, shielding several nearby soldiers from the blast. On the blog of the U.S. Army’s Combined Arms Center, based in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., Major Niel Smith wrote: “I, like many commanders, have submitted soldiers for combat valor awards which have been knocked down at higher levels. I defer to their judgment, but I think we are overhesitant to reward bravery that doesn’t result in death.”

Last year, in response to the controversy, Congress required the Pentagon, as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, to review its criteria for Medal of Honor awards. (The report is scheduled to be released on July 31.) A Defense Department spokeswoman, Eileen M. Lainez, assured me in an e-mail message that the criteria for awarding the Medal of Honor are “longstanding and have not changed.” Addressing the drastic drop in Medal of Honor awards, she cited changes in the nature of warfare, noting that the enemy forces of Vietnam and earlier wars typically engaged in “close conflict” with U.S. forces, whereas today’s “non-uniformed insurgents” rely on “remotely detonated improvised explosive devices (I.E.D.’s), suicide bombers and rocket, mortar and sniper attacks” — all tactics, her statement implied, that create fewer opportunities for U.S. soldiers to demonstrate the traditional valor of close-quarters combat.

In January, I sat down with Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the U.S. Central Command, at Washington’s Fairfax hotel, to ask him about the Medal of Honor controversy. I raised the issue of Sergeant Peralta and asked why his nomination was downgraded. Petraeus declined to address Peralta’s case (internal deliberations over Medal of Honor recommendations are kept confidential, and Peralta was not under Petraeus’s command at the time he was nominated for the medal), but he did speak of a generalized anxiety among commanders, surrounding the Medal of Honor, about getting a recommendation wrong. “They’re something that everyone in the chain of command wants to ensure is done absolutely right,” he said.

Petraeus emphasized the thoroughness of today’s review process, noting that the packets of data that are circulated to review-board members about Medal of Honor nominees are often as thick as phone books. “They want to ensure that these medals are approved for those who have earned them, but they also want to make sure that they never, ever, in a sense, get it wrong,” he said, referring to the review boards. “There’s a band there, and the difference between the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross is sort of in the eye of the beholder on a given day. And that’s tough. But decisions do have to be made.”

IS THERE LESS heroism today, or fewer opportunities for it, than in earlier eras? Has the Pentagon, despite its insistence to the contrary, raised its standards for what counts as bravery? Has a rigorous review and investigation process made it all too easy to raise doubts about individual acts of bravery? In an age of the all-volunteer military, is the Pentagon taking sacrifice for granted and failing to recognize “today’s heroes,” as many servicemen and veterans are arguing?

Some analysts agree with the Pentagon that there is less heroism today — at least in its traditional forms — as a result of the nature of modern warfare. When I spoke with Michael E. O’Hanlon, a defense-policy specialist at the Brookings Institution, he argued that counterinsurgency efforts, which place greater emphasis on avoiding the use of force (to minimize civilian casualties), call for “a quieter daily kind of courage,” one that rarely requires “that moment of extreme valor” typically honored with a medal.

Many combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan dispute this explanation. Duncan D. Hunter, a Republican congressman from Southern California, served two tours as a Marine in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 and one tour in Afghanistan in 2007. He led the effort last year to include the language in the National Defense Authorization Act requiring the Pentagon to review its criteria for Medal of Honor awards. When I met with him recently in his Washington office, he insisted that moments of extreme valor are still occurring frequently — almost as frequently as they did in Vietnam or during World War II. “Warfare has changed,” he said. “But 90 percent of it hasn’t. You’ve still got to take ground, and you’ve got to hold it.” He raised the possibility that, in today’s all-volunteer military, expectations and standards have gone up: an action that would have been considered heroic in the mid-20th century is seen today almost as routine conduct — “just being a Marine.”


Page 3 of 3)

Other observers have suggested — and Petraeus’s comments to me could be seen to support the idea — that the military, after its recent experiences with Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman, is hesitant to publicize or otherwise herald tales of heroism, for fear of later embarrassment. Both Lynch, in 2003, and Tillman, in 2004, were initially celebrated as war heroes. But Lynch herself was highly critical of those who described her as a heroine, later testifying before Congress that she had been falsely portrayed as a “little-girl Rambo from the hills.” Tillman’s family also testified before Congress, suggesting that his story was deliberately manipulated by officials in order to gather support for the war effort. “They have to be very careful,” O’Hanlon told me. “The idea of first building up this great story and then having it proven factually inaccurate would be very damaging.”

For many criticsof the Pentagon’s handling of the Medal of Honor, Rafael Peralta’s case is a vivid example of the perils of an overly cautious, overly bureaucratic approval process. The standard for awarding the Medal of Honor has always been “incontestable proof of the performance of service,” but critics charge that in recent years the standard for “incontestable” must have been raised. “The eyewitness accounts, it seems, they mean much less than they used to,” Hunter told me. “Now there’s much more weight placed on forensic evidence.”
George Sabga obtained redacted copies of the Medal of Honor recommendation packages that were submitted for Rafael Peralta by the Marine Corps in 2005, which he shared with me. The contents of these packages suggest that, long before the case reached the Pentagon, a pathologist working on an earlier-level review of Peralta’s Medal of Honor case raised questions about his gunshot wound. The pathologist expressed the opinion that, given the particular location of the head wound that Peralta received at the start of the firefight, he would have been cognitively disabled and could not deliberately have brought the grenade in toward his body. A letter included with the pathologist’s report suggests that Peralta’s “scooping/grabbing” was more likely to have been a result of “involuntary muscle spasms” than of a conscious act of courage.

After the pathologist’s report, the packet was returned to Peralta’s division for reconsideration. General Natonski, then commanding general of the First Marine Division, was evidently unconvinced by the pathologist’s interpretation. He ordered a thorough review of the investigation, enlisting medical specialists of his own. In a letter addressed to the secretary of the Navy, dated Aug. 8, 2005, Natonski restated the case on Peralta’s behalf: “This package is being resubmitted based on re-interviews and sworn statements from eyewitnesses as well as new statements from three neurosurgeons with outstanding credentials who have given their medical opinion. These doctors opine that Sergeant Peralta could have scooped the grenade under his body despite his head wound. However, regardless of the medical opinions rendered after the fact there is sufficient eyewitness testimony and physical evidence (grenade fuse lodged in Sergeant Peralta’s flak jacket) to support this award recommendation.” But the pathologist’s original opinion, it appears, continued to sway those in the Pentagon reviewing the file.

MUCH OF THE anger expressed by officers and veterans groups about the decline in Medal of Honor awards reflects their perception that Pentagon officials are disrespectful, even dismissive, of eyewitness accounts by servicemen. The feeling is compounded by the fact that, in today’s military, younger servicemen sometimes have far more combat experience than their seniors now working in the Pentagon, who often progressed through the military hierarchy in a time of relative peace: after Vietnam but before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In a phone conversation with me, Robert Reynolds, one of the Marines who was with Peralta during the firefight in Falluja, expressed frustration that his testimony was not taken seriously. He, like Peralta, was shot during the firefight, and he said he clearly recalled Peralta smothering the grenade. “Knowing what Sergeant Peralta did for me,” he said, “it angers me to know that the Marines that day are basically called liars.”

Peralta is buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego. One recent afternoon, Rosa Peralta, along with Rafael’s 19-year-old brother, Ricardo (only weeks from beginning Marine Corps boot camp himself), and George Sabga, drove to the cemetery with me. As we stood around Peralta’s simple white marble headstone, Sabga recounted the moment when he and Rosa Peralta learned that Rafael would not receive the Medal of Honor. General Natonski had slid a copy of the Navy Cross citation across the table to Rosa. “Without hesitation and with complete disregard for his own personal safety,” the citation read, “Sergeant Peralta reached out and pulled the grenade to his body, absorbing the brunt of the blast and shielding fellow Marines only feet away.”

The wording of the citation is strikingly similar to the description of the events as Peralta’s fellow Marines have related them, not as the pathologist interpreted them. “I asked the general, ‘How can you say that there were doubts and yet you give us a Navy Cross citation that says that Sergeant Peralta did the exact same thing that the Marines say he did?’ ” Sabga recounted. “I told him, ‘Every single Medal of Honor from now on is going to be tainted because of what’s been done to Peralta.’ The Marines are never going to give up. We’re never going to give up fighting for Peralta’s medal.”
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: G M on May 30, 2010, 07:45:28 AM
I see no reason why Sgt. Peralta should not get the MOH. In time, I think the right thing will be done.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: G M on May 31, 2010, 07:06:28 AM

It isn't free.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: JDN on June 25, 2010, 07:01:52 AM
From South Korea, a note of thanks

The war broke out 60 years ago today. Tens of thousands of Americans gave their lives to preserve democracy.

By Lee Myung-bak

June 25, 2010

Sixty years ago, at dawn on June 25, the Korean War broke out when Communist North Korea invaded the Republic of Korea. In response, 16 member countries of the United Nations, including the United States, joined with the Republic of Korea to defend freedom. Over the next three years of fighting, about 37,000 Americans lost their lives. They fought for the freedom of Koreans they did not even know, and thanks to their sacrifices, the peace and democracy of the republic were protected.

On the 60th anniversary of the Korean War, I remain grateful to America for having participated in the war. At that time, the Republic of Korea was one of the most impoverished countries, with an annual per capita income of less than $40. In 2009, my country became a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's Development Assistance Committee, the first aid recipient to become a donor and in only one generation. The Republic of Korea is engaged in peacekeeping missions in 14 countries to promote global peace. It will host the G-20 summit in November, and in 2012 the second nuclear security summit.

The Republic of Korea has emerged as an important partner of the United States in many parts of the world. Also, in the course of investigating and responding to the North's March sinking of our naval vessel the Cheonan, Seoul and Washington have closely coordinated efforts and expertise. In all these endeavors, we are not losing sight of the necessity of eventually turning the Korean Peninsula into a cradle of regional and world peace.

On this significant occasion, all Koreans pay tribute to the heroes fallen in defense of freedom and democracy. I firmly believe that future generations in both countries will further advance the strong Republic of Korea-U.S. alliance into one befitting the spirit of the new age.

Lee Myung-bak is president of the Republic of Korea.
Title: Marine receives Silver Star for Afg firefight
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 16, 2010, 09:36:45 AM
Camp Pendleton Marine receives Silver Star for Afghanistan firefight
July 16, 2010 |  9:20 am

A Marine from Camp Pendleton has received the Silver Star for bravery and leadership during a firefight in Afghanistan that began with an insurgent ambush and ended with Marines counterattacking and killing 13 insurgents.
Warrant Officer John W. Hermann, 32, of Tucson, Ariz., received the medal Thursday at a Marine base in Helmand province in Afghanistan where he is serving his second tour. The firefight occurred in 2008 during his first tour; he has also served in Iraq.

Hermann, then a staff sergeant, was on a reconnaissance patrol near the village of Dahaneh when his squad was attacked with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, small-arms fire and machine-gun fire. Hermann left his vehicle and with another Marine charged toward the enemy position, according to the Silver Star citation.

Hermann "single-handedly" killed insurgents in a trench line, then moved across open terrain and under machine gunfire to help a wounded Marine. He applied a tourniquet to the Marine's bleeding leg and despite  shrapnel wounds in his own legs returned to assault an insurgent machine-gun position.

"His quick decision-making, technical competence and bravery saved the wounded Marine from enemy fire and enable the platoon to continue clearing the village, resulting in the destruction of 13 enemy fighters," according to the citation, signed by Commandant Gen. James Conway.

At the time, Hermann was an explosive ordnance disposal technician with the 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion.  He is now a platoon commander with the 1st Explosive Ordnance Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group.

-- Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Warrant Officer John W. Hermann receives the Silver Star from Brig. Gen. Charles Hudson at a ceremony Thursday at Forward Operating Base Delaram II in Afghanistan. Credit: Marine Corps
Title: Recon Team Kansas
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 19, 2010, 06:54:06 PM
Outnumbered worse than the Alamo defenders, here's the story of a SOG team's
desperate last stand.
By Maj. John L. Plaster, USAR (Ret.)

The once bustling Khe Sanh Marine Base in South Vietnam’s
extreme northwest had been a ghost town more than three years
by the summer of 1971. Though used briefly that February to
support the South Vietnamese Army’s invasion of Laos, after that
bloody debacle the South Vietnamese abandoned not just Khe
Sanh but the entire region, yielding immense areas to the NVA,
who almost overnight began extending their Ho Chi Minh Trail
highways into South Vietnam.

In late July 1971, U.S. intelligence began tracking a large enemy
force shifting across the DMZ a dozen miles east of Khe Sanh,
threatening the coastal cities of Hue, Danang and Phu Bai where
the last sizeable American ground units were based.

It was essential to learn what was happening near Khe Sanh, a mission assigned to a
shadowy organization called "SOG." Created to conduct covert missions deep behind
enemy lines in Laos, Cambodia and North Vietnam, the top secret Studies and
Observations Group had shifted most of its operations in-country by 1971 to cover the
continuing U.S. withdrawal. From among its clandestine assembly of Army Green
Berets, Navy SEALs and USAF Air Commandos, the Khe Sanh mission eventually
became a prisoner snatch assigned to Recon Team Kansas, an 11-man, Special
Forces-led element, which included eight Montagnard tribesmen.
But how do you grab a prisoner in the midst of 10,000 or more
NVA? Headed by an easygoing, lanky Midwesterner, First
Lieutenant Loren Hagen, along with Sergeants Tony Andersen and
Bruce Berg, the RT Kansas men had brainstormed through several
scenarios until settling upon the best option: They would land
conspicuously on an abandoned firebase -- which obviously would
draw some sort of NVA reaction -- put up a short fight, then extract
by helicopter. Except half of Hagen’s men would stay hidden on
the hill. When the NVA sent a squad up to see if the Americans
had left behind sensors or bombing beacons -- as SOG teams
often did -- the hidden men would ambush the NVA, seize a
prisoner and come out.

In case a serious fight developed, Lt. Hagen reinforced his team
with three more Green Beret volunteers, Staff Sergeant Oran
Bingham and Sergeants Bill Queen and William Rimondi, for eight Montagnard
tribesmen and six U.S. Special Forces, a total of 14 men.

"Recon Team Leader Loren
Hagen shortly before his final
mission." (Photo by Tony

Landing at last light on 6 August 1971, Lt. Hagen surveyed the scrub brush and bomb
craters below them and split his defense into three elements to cover the hilltop’s three
slopes. Immediately they went to work restoring the old firebase’s two dilapidated
bunkers and shallow trenches. The enemy must have seen them land, and Hagen
reckoned to be ready.

A Foreboding Night

It was well after dark when the SOG
men noticed campfires on two facing
ridgelines, unusual because the NVA
normally masked itself. By midnight
enemy probers were at the base of the
hill, firing provocatively from the north,
south, east and west.

At 1 a.m. a USAF AC-130 Spectre
gunship arrived, walking 40mm and
20mm fire around the hill nearly all night.
Never once did the team fire their
weapons, staying blanketed in darkness.
Then at 3 a.m. the SOG men heard
trucks and tailgates dropping. This was odd, very odd.
Beneath the hill, dismounting NVA soldiers formed up into platoons and companies,
which their leaders marched through the darkness to their assigned attack positions, to
wait for dawn.

Just before sunrise it became forebodingly quiet. Then Lt. Hagen heard more trucks
arriving.  Fifty miles away at a coastal airbase, a USAF Forward Air Controller (FAC) and a flight
of helicopters was lifting away for the false extraction; they would be above RT Kansas
in 30 minutes.

As darkness gave way to light, Lt. Hagen detected glimpses of NVA on one slope; then
on another slope pithe helmets appeared, bobbing in the fog. When his men reported
NVA on the third slope, too, Hagen realized the hill was completely encircled by NVA --
but that would require a whole regiment, at least a thousand men!
The NVA regimental commander understood he had to
dispatch the Americans quickly. They'd inadvertently
landed almost within sight of the Hanoi High Command's
most critical new venture, the first six-inch fuel pipeline
laid across the DMZ, absolutely essential in a few
months when entire tank battalions rolled through here
for the war's largest offensive. Already the 304th NVA
Division was massing here, plus a regiment of the 308th
Division, preparing for the 1972 Easter Offensive.
A fourth battalion moved into place; then, concealed in
the ground fog, a fifth battalion arrived. Later, SOG’s
commander, Colonel John Sadler, would learn an entire
regiment had stormed the hill, supported by a second regiment, a mass assault by
approximately 2000 enemy infantry.

A Human Wave

As the clearing ground fog disclosed that terrible truth, Lt. Hagen had no time for
inspiring words, just serious soldier work; in those final moments he repositioned
weapons while his men readied grenades and stacked magazines. The Catholic
Montagnards made the Sign of the Cross.

Then they came.

A well-aimed RPG rocket smashed into Bruce Berg's bunker, collapsing it and signaling
the attack -- fire went from nothing to ten thousand rounds per second! Andersen could
see dozens of NVA rushing in lines up his slope, meeting them with his M-60
machinegun. Hagen hollered that he was going to check Berg, and ran directly into a
ferocious maelstrom, with bullets ricocheting and slamming the earth in front of, behind,
and beneath his dashing feet. He made it a dozen yards when fire from the other slope
cut him down, killing him.

Then Klaus Bingham left a bunker to reposition a claymore and a bullet struck him in the
head, apparently killing him. One Montagnard in a trench below Tony Andersen fired
several bursts then jumped up to pull back and fell into Andersen's lap, dead.
Four men had died in less than four minutes. It was up to Andersen now, the senior

The Last Stand

Small arms fire rattled closer on all sides and grenades lobbed up from below the
hillcrest where waves of NVA were scurrying behind small rises and rolling from bomb
crater to bomb crater. Andersen dashed over the hill to look for Hagen but couldn't see
him anywhere -- just 100 khaki-clad NVA almost at the top! He fired one M-60 belt at
"The NVA were laying a Soviet-made tactical
fuel pipeline, like this one, near RT Kansas'
hilltop, the first ever extended into South
Vietnam. It would be of strategic value a few
months later during the Easter 1972 Offensive."
(Def. Intell. Agency)

NVA advancing up his own slope, then sped to the other approach and ran belt after
belt on the 100 assaulting enemy. By then grenades started coming from behind him as
NVA closed in from his rear. Just a dozen yards away, beyond the curvature of the hill,
enemy heads popped up, cracked a few shots, then dropped back down.
Still a dozen minutes away, the approaching Cobra gunships went to full throttle, leaving
the slower Hueys behind.

Meanwhile RT Kansas had just run out of hand grenades when a North Vietnamese
grenade exploded beside Andersen's M-60, rendering it useless; he spun his CAR-15
off his back and kept shooting, then he tossed back another grenade but it went off in
front of him, nearly blinding him, yet he kept shooting. More shrapnel tore into him, then
an AK round slammed through his webgear and lodged in his elbow, knocking him
down. He stumbled back to his knees and kept firing.

The perimeter was pinched almost in half when Andersen grabbed his last two living
Montagnards, circled below the nearest NVA and somehow managed to reach the
survivors on the opposite side. He found Bingham, started to lift him, and saw he, too,
was dead from a head wound. All around him he heard, "zzzsss, zzssss, zzssss," as
bullets flashed past his ears.

He dragged Bingham back to where Bill Queen lay, wounded. Only Rimondi wasn't yet
hit and still fired furiously. Andersen put them in a back-to-back circle just off the hilltop
where they would make their last stand. AK bullets had destroyed their team radio,
another slug had shot Andersen's little survival radio out of his hand so Rimondi tossed
him another survival radio, their last.

Now the NVA were streaming, rolling over the crest like a tidal wave, their rattling AKs
blending together into one never-ending burst. Andersen's men were firing not at NVA
but at hands wielding AKs over parapets and around bunkers. There was no place left
to fall back. Andersen was shooting NVA little further than the length of his CAR-15
muzzle, and the time it took to speed-change a magazine meant life or death.
From the air it looked like an ant mound, with moving figures everywhere. Cobra lead
rolled in and sparkled 20mm cannon shells around the surviving SOG men, and at last
fighters arrived, adding napalm and Vulcan cannons to the melee. Then at last the
assault ebbed, turned, and the NVA fled for cover, just as the Hueys arrived.
Though wounded repeatedly, Andersen crawled out to fire his CAR-15 to cover the
landing Hueys. With Rimondi's help, Andersen dragged as many teammates’ bodies as
he could to the first Huey, then helped the wounded Queen and others aboard the

"3 months before RT Kansas fought the most one-sided fight in American history, the
USAF already had plotted three enemy pipelines running out of North Vietnam but these
extended into Laos. The most critical pipeline was secretly being laid across the DMZ
into South Vietnam." (USAF)

A Terrible Toll

In one hellacious half-hour, nine of Recon Team Kansas’ fourteen men had been lost.
Lt. Hagen had died, along with Bingham, Berg was presumed dead, six Montagnards
had died, Rimondi and Queen both suffered multiple frag wounds, Andersen had been
struck by both smallarms fire and shrapnel, and their other two Montagnards, too, all
had been wounded

"It’s amazing that any of us came through it with the amount of incoming that we were
getting," Tony Andersen says today, 25 years later. He attributes their survival to his
deceased team leader, Lt. Loren Hagen. "He epitomized what a Special Forces officer
should be -- attentive to detail, a lot of rehearsals, followed through on things," he
explains. "We were ready. I think that was probably the only thing that kept us from
being totally overrun. Everybody was alert and knew what was happening and was

As for Hagen’s bravery, dashing into a wall of AK fire to try to save Bruce Berg, that
didn’t surprise Andersen, either. "Lt. Hagen was that kind of officer. He was a good

Against the lost of most of his teammates, Andersen learned, the USAF counted 185
NVA dead on that hill little RT Kansas had killed half a battalion and probably wounded
twice that many NVA. But that gives Andersen sparse satisfaction compared to the loss
of most of his team.

"Lt. Loren Hagen (right, rear) and Bruce Berg
pose with five indigenous teammates. Both
Hagen and Berg would die on the small hilltop,
along with six of their Montagnard soldiers."
(Photo by Tony Andersen)

Perhaps Andersen’s most difficult duty was carrying the bodies of his six Montagnard
teammates -- his "family" he called them -- to their home village. "As soon as they saw
us driving up in the truck, they knew. Wailing and moaning started, and all the grieving."
The villagers gathered in a circle around the headman’s stilted longhouse. "Through one
of the interpreters I tried to explain how proud we were of them, what good fighters they
were, that they had died for a good cause."

That would be borne out a few months later when the intelligence generated by RT
Kansas’ spirited defense helped U.S. analysts read enemy intentions, enabling
American airpower to counter the NVA’s Easter Offensive.

And though details of this incredible fight would remain classified for decades, enough
was disclosed that First Lieutenant Loren Hagen's family was presented the U.S. Army's
final Vietnam War Medal of Honor; Tony Andersen, who held together what remained of
RT Kansas through those final mass assaults, received the Distinguished Service
Cross, while Queen, Rimondi, Berg and Bingham were awarded Silver Stars.

And now, today, with full disclosure, we can appreciate the significance of their fight:
At the Alamo, 188 Americans had stood against 3000 Mexicans, a ratio of 16-to-1; at
Custer's Last Stand, 211 cavalrymen succumbed to 3,500 Sioux warriors, or 16.5-to-1;
at the 1877 Battle of Rorke's Drift, the most heralded action in British military history
resulting in -- 11 Victoria Crosses -- 140 British troops withstood assaults by 4000
Zulus, or 28-to-1. Lt. Hagen’s 14 men had held on despite being outnumbered 107-toone,
four times as disadvantagous as Rorke's Drift and seven times worse than the
Alamo, one of the most remarkable feats of arms in American history.

(This article is derived from Maj. Plaster’s book, SOG: The Secret Wars of America’s
Commandos in Vietnam, published by Simon & Schuster.)
Title: Silver Stars
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 30, 2010, 06:10:06 PM

Fort Bragg, North Carolina (CNN) -- It's been clear for months that the fighting in Afghanistan is more intense than it's been since the war there started nearly nine years ago. Yet, from the midst of those increasingly violent firefights come some amazing stories of heroism.

On Monday, seven soldiers will receive public recognition for their actions during a Silver Star ceremony at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

The medals -- the third-highest award for valor in the Army -- are being awarded for five separate battles over a span of more than two years.

Sgt. 1st Class Antonio Gonzalez and Sgt. 1st Class Mark Roland were part of Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha (SFODA) 732.

On June 11, 2007, their unit was sent to help a group of Afghan soldiers who had been pinned down by an enemy attack. When the unit arrived, they and their fellow soldiers were immediately enveloped in the same ambush by a much larger enemy force.

Even though the enemy was firing from just 10 feet, Roland immediately climbed out of the relative safety of his armored vehicle and started attacking enemy fighters in a nearby wadi, or dry streambed.

He and his fellow soldiers killed two of the enemy and cleared the rest of the wadi of enemy attackers, all while under fire from snipers. Their actions meant the enemy was no longer a threat to his unit's rear flank.

About the same time, Gonzalez saw that four Afghan soldiers were pinned down by enemy fire. He jumped out of his vehicle and ran nearly 40 yards through enemy fire.

"Without regard for his life," the Army account read, "over the course of three trips through enemy fire, he rescued all four soldiers and brought them back to the safety of his armored vehicle." He did it all while under fire from enemy sniper and machine gun fire.

After clearing the wadi and getting back in his vehicle, Roland saw eight Afghan soldiers who were pinned down by enemy machine gun fire. He got out of his vehicle, ran through enemy fire and moved four of the Afghan soldiers back to his vehicle and directed the other four to another armored vehicle.

All told, the actions of Roland and Gonzalez -- both of whom had already received the Bronze Star for past battle -- and their fellow soldiers defeated the ambush and led to the death of 60 enemy fighters including two Taliban commanders, according to the Army.

Staff Sgts. Mario Pinilla and Daniel Gould also had Bronze Star medals to their name, and Gould had also received the Silver Star for past heroics. They were both serving with Special Operational Detachment Alpha 7134 near Kandahar Airfield in southern Afghanistan.

The two were checking reports of Taliban movements near the village of Faramuz when they were ambushed near a river. Pinilla saw one of his fellow soldiers pinned down by enemy fire and already shot twice. Pinilla grabbed a large machine gun, ran through enemy fire, shooting back the entire time, then dived to the ground to block the enemy fire from his wounded colleague, according to the Army

During a 10-minute firefight, he was shot twice. Eventually, more soldiers showed up to help Pinilla and the other wounded man. The Army account says even though he was wounded, Pinilla didn't stop fighting.

"While his fellow detachment members fought to get to him back to safety, Sergeant Pinilla drew his 9mm Beretta and continued engaging the enemy's ambush line, despite being critically injured," the account reads.

Gould also put his life on the line to save a fellow soldier.

When the Taliban ambushed the unit, he got into an intense half-hour gun battle with the enemy. His helmet was shot off his head, and he was hit once in his body armor.

During the fight, he saw one of his teammates, who was much closer to the enemy, get shot and critically wounded. According to the Army, he used a large machine gun to neutralize the enemy that was the greatest threat to the wounded man, giving a medic a chance to go help the soldier. Then, knowing then man need to be evacuated, Gould joined the medic first in dragging the wounded soldier through nearly 50 yards of enemy fire, and then carrying the wounded man the last 40 yards on his shoulders until they all reached safety.

An enemy unit ambushed Master Sgt. Julio Bocanegra's convoy on August 26, 2008. During the attack in Paktika province, Bocanegra noticed that a group of four Afghan national policemen were pinned down by the enemy, their pickup truck blocking the route for the rest of the unit. According to the Army, Bocanegra jumped out of his vehicle and ran through a hail of fire to reach the Afghan police, all but one of whom was wounded. The Army account spells out how he helped get them to safety.

"Sergeant Bocanegra then disregarded the enemy fire and picked up one of the wounded and placed him into the vehicle which [was] continuing to receive effective fire. Continuing to ignore the danger to his life, Sergeant Bocanegra then picked up a second policeman with multiple gunshot wounds to both legs and placed him into the vehicle," the account said.

Bocanegra, with the help of the one policeman who had not been shot, got the third wounded officer into the Afghan police pickup truck and moved them all to safety. All three Afghan police officers and three soldiers who had been wounded in the fight survived their injuries.

Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Clouse, an Army veteran, was working with a Marine special operations unit and was walking along a boulder-strewn path when one of his teammates was badly wounded. He immediately provided medical attention to that man. Then, according to the Army, another teammate was wounded.

"SFC Clouse ran through the kill zone to render further medical attention under head machine gun fire that struck the back of his body armor," according to the Army summary of the battle. The second man's life couldn't be saved.

The summary says Clouse continued providing advanced combat first aid amid intense enemy fire.

"Reacting to the calls for assistance from other wounded, SFC Clouse again ran through the kill zone to provide medical assistance," according to the report.

One enemy sniper bullet destroyed Clouse's weapon, but he kept on. All told, Clouse provided medical assistance to four American wounded and one Afghan soldier who'd been wounded in the attack and helped moved them to safety.

Sgt. 1st Class David Nunez was in a convoy of U.S. Special Forces and Afghan national army soldiers traveling through the village of Shewan in Ferah province on May 29, 2008.

As many as 60 insurgents attacked the convoy, disabling Nunez's vehicle with a rocket-propelled grenade. The vehicle started burning, and Nunez was worried that other soldiers were still in the vehicle, according to the Army.

"Without regard for his own life, [Nunez] began to discard ammunition and explosives from the rear of the vehicle in order to ensure others were not injured. During this entire period of time, SFC Nunez was engulfed in flames. Ignoring his wounds and the intense concentration of enemy fire, he continued to assist the convoy pinned in the kill zone until he eventually succumbed to his injuries," the battle account reads.

Nunez's obituary noted that he had already received a Bronze Star, an Army commendation medal and numerous other decorations.

After Monday's ceremony at Fort Bragg, his record will be upgraded to include the Silver Star for "his bravery in keeping with the finest traditions of military heroism and reflect distinct credit upon himself, this command and the United States Army."
Title: True warrior mindset, true heroism
Post by: G M on September 25, 2010, 04:44:59 PM

Wounded in Iraq, double-amputee returns to war

By TODD PITMAN (AP) – 1 hour ago

ASHOQEH, Afghanistan — When a bomb exploded under Dan Luckett's Army Humvee in Iraq two years ago — blowing off one of his legs and part of his foot — the first thing he thought was: "That's it. You're done. No more Army for you."

But two years later, the 27-year-old Norcross, Georgia, native is back on duty — a double-amputee fighting on the front lines of America's Afghan surge in one of the most dangerous parts of this volatile country.

Luckett's remarkable recovery can be attributed in part to dogged self-determination. But technological advances have been crucial: Artificial limbs today are so effective, some war-wounded like Luckett are not only able to do intensive sports like snow skiing, they can return to active duty as fully operational soldiers. The Pentagon says 41 American amputee veterans are now serving in combat zones worldwide.

Luckett was a young platoon leader on his first tour in Iraq when an explosively formed penetrator — a bomb that hurls an armor-piercing lump of molten copper — ripped through his vehicle on a Baghdad street on Mother's Day 2008.

His Humvee cabin instantly filled with heavy gray smoke and the smell of burning diesel and molten metal. Luckett felt an excruciating pain and a "liquid" — his blood — pouring out of his legs. He looked down and saw a shocking sight: his own left foot sheared off above the ankle and his right boot a bloody mangle of flesh and dust.

Still conscious, he took deep breaths and made a deliberate effort to calm down.

A voice rang out over the radio — his squad leader checking in.

"1-6, is everybody all right?" the soldier asked, referring to Luckett's call-sign.

"Negative," Luckett responded. "My feet are gone."

He was evacuated by helicopter to a Baghdad emergency room, flown to Germany, and six days after the blast, he was back in the U.S.

As his plane touched down at Andrew's Air Force Base, he made a determined decision. He was going to rejoin the 101st Airborne Division any way he could.

For the first month at Washington's Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Luckett was bound to a wheelchair. He hated the dependence that came with it. He hated the way people changed their voice when they spoke to him — soft and sympathetic.

He wondered: how long is THIS going to last? Will I be dependent on others for the rest of my life?

At night, he dreamed of walking on two legs.

When he woke, only the stump of his left leg was there, painfully tender and swollen.

His family wanted to know, is this going to be the same Dan?

He assured them he was.

**Read it all**
Title: Staff Sgt Robert J. Miller, CMH
Post by: G M on October 06, 2010, 06:50:52 PM

An American warrior's heroic last stand. Never forget.
Title: Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 19, 2010, 08:40:03 AM
Profiles of Valor: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta
In a ceremony at the White House Tuesday, United States Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta became the first living service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. For the account of Giunta's actions, click here.

Of Giunta, Wall Street Journal columnist and former Bush speechwriter William McGurn wrote, "When we think of military heroism, we may think of Rambos decorated for great damage inflicted on the enemy. In fact, the opposite is true. Every Medal of Honor from these wars has been for an effort to save life. Even more telling, each specifically recognizes bravery that cannot be commanded."

"On that ridge in Afghanistan, Salvatore Giunta could not save his sergeant," McGurn continued. "But he did deprive the enemy of its victory -- and death of some of its sting. ... [A] fellow soldier (who earned a Silver Star in the same firefight) put it this way. 'The last thing [Sgt. Josh] Brennan ever saw was us,' says Sgt. Erick Gallardo. 'You know, he saw us fighting for him. ... We fought for him and he's home with his family now because of that.' It's a soldier's gift. Because of Sgt. Giunta, the family of Josh Brennan know that when their loved one breathed his last, he did so knowing he was among friends willing to put their own lives at risk for him." A fine gift, indeed. Thank you, Staff Sgt. Giunta, for your service to our great country.

Title: Spirit of the Green Beret
Post by: Spartan Dog on February 08, 2011, 11:42:54 AM
On behalf of Crafty Dog

Title: CMOH: SSG Giunta
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 11, 2011, 05:38:53 AM
Title: Shoot like a warrior....
Post by: G M on March 01, 2011, 06:47:22 PM
....For all of your days.

Title: The battle of every day continues , , ,
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 01, 2011, 04:48:29 AM
Title: WSJ: Meanwhile , , ,
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 10, 2011, 05:43:19 AM
On March 17, St. Patrick's Day, a dozen Marines, coated in mud, were sloshing through poppy fields in southern Afghanistan. Walking point for the patrol, Lance Cpl. Cody "Yaz" Yazzie swept a small metal detector back and forth. Twelve grunts from the Third Platoon followed carefully in his footsteps.

Back in the U.S., the news was dominated by events in Libya, the start of March Madness in college basketball and the latest court appearance of Lindsay Lohan. The fighting season in Afghanistan had begun, too, but in the U.S., the decade-old war is now largely ignored.

It can't be ignored here in the farm fields of Sangin district, where the Taliban have buried thousands of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). One wire is attached to a flashlight battery and another to a plastic jug of explosives, and each is glued to a thin board. When one board is pressed against the other, the wires make contact, sparking an explosion.

Over the past six months, two members of the Third Platoon of Kilo Company, Fifth Marine Regiment, have been killed, two have lost limbs and eight have suffered shrapnel or bullet wounds. A quarter of the original platoon is now gone.

I had embedded with the platoon once before, in January, so the routine was familiar. A point man on a patrol detects one or more IEDs, and then a Taliban gang in civilian clothes usually opens fire. Marine snipers and machine-gunners shoot back, while a squad maneuvers around the flank, forcing the enemy to retreat.

Nighttime brings an interlude. The Taliban stay snug indoors, safe from night-vision devices. Third Platoon lives in cave-like rooms inside an abandoned compound. In the evening, the young men, all in their early 20s, act their raucous age, playing loud music and laughing hilariously at absurd jokes.

When I rejoined the platoon in mid-March, the rhythm hadn't changed. We were only an hour into the patrol when Yaz detected a wire buried in the soil. He snipped it and marked the location of the explosives for disposal by engineers. The patrol proceeded north, passing pulverized compounds and a few groups of men who stared with flat hostility. The Marines ignored them. With no police or language capabilities, the platoon knew who was an enemy only when he opened fire.

On the roof of a small, square house, a large white Taliban flag was flying. "That's the classic Italian salute," Lt. Vic Garcia, the platoon commander, said. "There's probably an IED hidden inside."

Now on his third combat tour, Lt. Garcia has infused his platoon with an aggressive instinct, but he's not foolhardy. "We're looking for a fight," he said. "But we think before we move. There's no way we'll search an empty house."

Over the radio came a report of a dozen motorcyclists converging to our front. We watched as several families ran from the fields into their compounds. About 700 yards away, two motorcyclists puttered to a stop and sat watching us.

"We got a dicker [watcher]," Sgt. Joseph Myers said. "He's crawling in the ditch to our left."

The rules of engagement forbid shooting a man for crawling forward to take a closer look or for talking on a hand-held radio, but such actions usually tip off an attack. For several minutes, the Marines watched the Taliban watching them. No shots were fired, so Yaz slowly led the patrol to the west.

The motorcyclists paralleled our movement, keeping their distance. It reminded me of an old Western movie, with the Comanches riding along the skyline, staying out of range of the cavalry's rifles. In this case, the Taliban knew they were safe as long as they didn't display weapons. Eventually we headed back to base, and the motorcyclists drove off in the opposite direction.

Since September, the Third Platoon has shot somewhere between 125 and 208 Taliban—as many as one enemy killed per patrol. That rate may not seem high, but the cumulative effect has been crushing. Marine tactics, like Ohio State football, have the subtle inevitability of a steamroller.

"We got a radio intercept yesterday," Lt. Garcia said. "Some Talib leaders in Pakistan were chewing out the local fighters for quitting. The locals yelled back, 'Marines run toward our bullets.'"

When we arrived at the Marine base a few miles away, Capt. Nick Johnson, the commander of Kilo Company, was waiting. He had watched the patrol's movement via video streamed from a tethered blimp overhead. I said it reminded me of the blimp at the Super Bowl.

"That's a different world," replied Capt. Johnson, who is on his third combat tour. "In the States, a bad day for a guy on his way to the office is a flat tire. A bad day out here is a double amputee. The public pays attention to Charlie Sheen. No one's heard of Sgt. Abate."

Sgt. Matthew Abate is the Third Platoon's hero. When a patrol hit a minefield in late October, Sgt. Abate had left his safe position and run to apply tourniquets and carry out the screaming, grievously wounded men. He was killed in action five weeks later, but only the platoon remembers his name.

When the U.S. military withdrawal begins this summer, the generals will declare success. But no one knows what will happen after that. Half of the Third Platoon believes the Afghan government will succeed, and half believes the country will remain a mess, with continued tribal fighting. Either way, airpower will prevent the Taliban from seizing Kabul.

The members of the platoon do not care about bringing freedom and development to Afghanistan. They are here because they believe they're defending America. They have volunteered to serve, and most of them will leave the military after four years, with no pension or benefits. They endure the mud, heat, stench, blood, fatigue and terror of lost limbs and lost lives. There is hard bark on these young men.

What bothers them is that the valor of grunts like Sgt. Abate goes without much public recognition. Hollywood's recent war movies tend to feature psychotics instead of heroes. Only one Medal of Honor has been awarded to a living infantryman in 10 years, and the paperwork for a second one has languished for 18 months.

The grunts chose their profession, and they draw satisfaction from their Spartan existence. Almost every member of the Third Platoon said he wanted to be right where he was, living in a cave on the most dangerous battlefield in Afghanistan. It has been a long war, and the American public has understandably lost interest, but these soldiers have not lost their devotion to the mission or their country.

—Mr. West's latest book is "The Wrong War: Grit, Strategy and the Way Out of Afghanistan."
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: JDN on April 10, 2011, 09:06:29 AM
I DO NOT mean this as an editorial on "war tragedy"; bad things happen in war, but I did find the article interesting on how wars are changing,
on how wars are now being fought with Predators,0,200182.story
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: G M on April 10, 2011, 09:11:21 AM
"Lance Cpl. Cody "Yaz" Yazzie"
Glad to see the Navajo tradition of Marine Corps service continues.
Title: Marines honor ancestors, ties to Navajo Code Talkers
Post by: G M on April 10, 2011, 10:30:00 AM

Marines honor ancestors, ties to Navajo Code Talkers

OB DELARAM II, Afghanistan-Forward Operating Base Delaram II, Nimruz province, Afghanistan – Lance Corporals Devin Bidtah and James Nelson, PFC Uriah Billie and Lance Cpl. Travis Yazzie, share a common past through their ancestors. These Navajo men are brothers as Marines, but more profoundly, because their clan ties bind them through the retracing of their ancestry, for some to Navajo Code Talkers of WWII. (Official US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Dean Davis)

Sgt. Dean Davis, Regimental Combat Team 2

 • Mon, Dec 13, 2010

FOB DELARAM II, Afghanistan —Many triumphs and sacrifices distinguish the military service of the Navajo people. Perhaps most famous, is the story of the Navajo Code Talkers. During WWII these men ciphered thousands of battlefield messages in the Pacific theatre, saving countless lives and helping end the war. Few of these men are still here today to tell their account, but as Lance Cpl. Devin Bidtah, a Navajo Code Talker descendant explains, their legacy still thrives, and their story that inspired so many, will be honored.

“The Navajos have a strong history in serving,” said Bidtah, a field radio operator with Regimental Combat Team 2. “As my Navajo elders are watching, I try not to upset them. Being out here, I try to do my best.”

Bidtah is not alone in his efforts. Here at Delaram II he has three brothers. They are brothers as Marines, but more profoundly, because their clan ties bind them through the retracing of their ancestry.

“Coming out here, the only family you really have is your platoon,” said Lance Cpl. Travis Yazzie, a field radio operator with 5th Battalion, 11th Marines.

After arriving, Yazzie and Pfc. Uriah Billie, a high school friend of Bidtah, saw him around camp.

“I met Lance Cpl. Bidtah and we talked. We compared our clans,” said Yazzie, 22, from Rocky Ridge, Arizona.

They discovered that they were related. Along with Lance Cpl. James Nelson, a friend of Bidtah’s since radio operator school, the four brothers now enjoy a company others can’t fully appreciate.

“When I found out James and I shared clans, it brought us closer, it made us family” said Bidtah, 20, from Shiprock, New Mexico.

For as close as they are now, these Marines all have different stories of how they came to be in the same place. For Lance Cpl. Bidtah, the events that brought him here were set in motion by the actions of his grandfather, or cheii’, Leroy Johns Sr. and his fellow Code Talkers many years ago.

“I was going to join the Army,” said Bidtah, about the day he was rummaging through his cheii’s things. “I found the Presidential Medal the Code Talkers received.

“I have always tried to be the best at everything, why stop?” said Bidtah. “He was a Marine. I wanted to follow on that same path.”

That path Leroy Johns Sr. and his fellow Marines embarked upon was not an easy one. The fierce fighting in such places as Guadalcanal, Tarawa and Peleliu found the Code Talkers battling the Japanese in dense jungle and sweltering heat.

Because no written key to the secret language was permitted in theatre for fear it may be discovered, these Navajo became “walking codes,” carrying the source of their encryptions entirely by memory.

In the first two days of fighting at Iwo Jima, the Code Talkers transcribed more than 800 messages, with perfect accuracy.

At the war’s end, they were sworn to secrecy. The oath these silent warriors honored protected the secret techniques, but also served to deny them the accolades they deserved.

Decades later the Code Talkers were acknowledged, and awarded gold and silver congressional medals, one of which Bidtah found that fateful day he decided to join the Corps.

“It’s an honor,” Bidtah said. “It feels good knowing my cheii’ did something good for the Navajo people; his name; our family.”

Bidtah, Billie, Nelson and Yazzie continue to honor the deeds of their grandfathers as Marines by doing their jobs to the best of their abilities. They also revere the traditions of their people. Through rituals such as a “fanning off” ceremony, where they burn bits of cedar and talk about their pasts and futures, they reflect on the paths they have chosen, hoping their actions will be akin to those who have gone before them.

“It’s a blessing. I’m very honored to know that someone in my bloodline was a Navajo Code Talker,” said Nelson, 20, from Jeddito, Arizona. “Knowing what huge sacrifices they gave is big part of why I serve today.”
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 10, 2011, 10:36:23 AM
Dear Readers:  Please note there are four prior posts in this thread today.
Title: WSJ: Remembering Ramadi
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 16, 2011, 09:37:24 AM
Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

When death came to Ramadi, it came, as any unwanted guest, to stay. It took a bleached, sand-blown landscape and flooded it red. It seized one Army brigade after another, gutting the ranks so deeply that, between my embeds with the First Armored Division's First Brigade Combat Team (1/1) in Iraq, it carved in granite a quarter of the names in my email inbox. It claimed so many lives and mangled so many others that, even now, on what ought to be the eve of the team's fifth anniversary reunion, the brigade's commander, then-Col. Sean MacFarland, cannot tote them up.

So, no, Brig. Gen. MacFarland's decision to call off the reunion celebration did not astound me. With nearly 100 of his soldiers killed and 500 wounded in eight months, I didn't know how many would (or could) summon the will for a jamboree to cast a glance backward. Instead, from his living room on the bank of the Missouri River, Brig. Gen. MacFarland and I—soldier and civilian, the neatly-ordered student of logic and the disheveled embodiment of what he defends—hold a micro-reunion.

Vacations, kids, work: Brig Gen. MacFarland credits his bare list of RSVPs to the routines that saddle us all. I pin the blame on what is being celebrated. That is, we pick up our argument where we left it five years ago. Not even the 7,000 miles that separate America and Iraq can measure the distance between us, or between the officer corps and the country it serves. In Iraq, the U.S. mission entailed complex operational schemes and thorny moral dilemmas. In the journalist's notebook, the U.S. mission required easy certainties and narrative simplicity.

Where I saw only mayhem in Ramadi, Col. MacFarland saw method and a path forward. One day, as we visited a local sheikh, the sheikh's radio crackled with panicked tribesmen under siege. "We'll bring in air," Col. MacFarland assured the sheikh, who was so busy shouting and being shouted at that it wasn't clear he actually heard the lanky, soft-spoken colonel. "So, um, get your men inside."

Antennae relayed a flurry of coordinates; one of the F-18s on station above Ramadi banked toward the insurgents. Problem solved. Later that day, Col. MacFarland told me he viewed the battle in the way of a mathematical equation: "Within its chaos there can be order," the historian Clayton Newell writes of the paradox of war. And, indeed, by "flipping" Ramadi's tribes, erecting small combat outposts, and otherwise anticipating the tenets of counterinsurgency that Gen. David Petraeus would later enshrine in official policy, 1/1 transformed a blasted shell into a place that bustled with the everyday vibrancy of a living community.

To assert that the outstanding officer can mitigate the chaos of war, however, is not to assert that he can mitigate its horror. Instead, Ramadi's horrors multiplied in direct proportion to the clarity of 1/1's advance.

On my first day back in Iraq, 1/1's public affairs officer and a young captain I admired were killed by a fuel-enhanced IED. Every day supplied a new variation—a marine shot in the neck, a soldier burned alive in his tank, a pilot disemboweled and set alight. Yet even as he devised tomorrow's plans on his color-coded tribal map, Col. MacFarland banished from brigade headquarters photos of yesterday's dead.

Serene in the conviction that Col. MacFarland cared more about victory than about its cost, I soon learned that my biases had things backward. At the landing zone where he loaded body-bags onto helicopters, the colonel was spotted one night behind a stack of medical kits, sobbing into his shirt sleeve. Toward the end of the deployment, one of the brigade's officers told me, he sensed that Col. MacFarland wanted to climb into a body bag.

At his promotion ceremony years later, it became clear what a steep price had been exacted by the tension between battlefield gain and human loss, between his steely command persona and his genuinely warm persona. Quietly and haltingly, Col. MacFarland confessed to the audience that "the many shattered bodies and shattered lives that made victory in Ramadi possible" had led him to ask himself if he was worthy of this honor. "I am not."

Back in Kansas, Brig. Gen. MacFarland says that, with the brigade's achievement now well-chronicled, the unpleasant images have become cloudy and flickering. "I have to believe all of it meant something," he says. "When my son-in-law, serving in southern Iraq, tells me he's bored, that means something."

And the reunion he put so much effort into assembling? The notion that the exquisite sensitivities of men who paint skulls on their tank turrets keep them home-bound seems far-fetched: Soldiers regard themselves as agents, not victims. So, yes, they're busy making other plans, mapping the routes to amusement parks and camp sites. Like Sean MacFarland, I have to believe this. And that, on this reunion day, even the dead have plans.

Mr. Kaplan is a contributing editor at the New Republic and a visiting professor at the U.S. Army War College.

Title: New CMH
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 01, 2011, 08:27:58 AM
Moving BigDog's post to here
Title: Happy Birthday US Army and American Flag!
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 14, 2011, 01:25:54 PM

Patriot Post

Today, June 14th, is both the 236th anniversary of the establishment of the United States Army, and fittingly, the 234th anniversary of the adoption of our nation's flag.

In 1776, Thomas Paine opened his famous pamphlet, "The American Crisis," with these words: "THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated."

On this June day in 2011, America is once again in crisis, and the Liberty won at great price and bequeathed to us by generations of Patriots is in eminent peril. Paine's words from 1776 ring true today.

Title: Shifty; an action in Afpakia
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 17, 2011, 06:15:31 AM
If you watched the series, “Band of Brothers”, you will remember Shifty as the guy who was the best shot in the company. He was called upon several times in the series to take care of a German sniper or to give cover so other troops could maneuver.

SHIFTY DIED JAN 17, in peace.                                                                                            
 "Shifty" By Chuck Yeager

Shifty volunteered for the airborne in WWII and served with Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the 101st  Airborne Infantry.  If you've seen Band of Brothers on HBO or the History Channel, you know Shifty.  His character appears in all 10 Episodes, and Shifty himself is interviewed in several of them.

 I met Shifty in the  Philadelphia airport several years ago. I didn't know who he was at the time.I just saw an elderly gentleman having Trouble reading his ticket.I offered to help, assured him that he was at the right gate, and noticed the "Screaming Eagle," the symbol of The 101st Airborne, on his hat.
 Making conversation, I asked him if he d been in the 101st Airborne Or if his son was serving.  He said quietly that he had been in the 101st. I thanked him for his service, then asked him when he served, and how many jumps he made.Quietly and humbly, he said "Well, I  guess I signed up in 1941 or so, and was in until sometime in 1945 ... " at which point my heart skipped.

 At that point, again, very humbly, he said "I made the 5 training Jumps at Toccoa, and then jumped into  Normandy ..    Do you know  where  Normandy is?"At this point my heart stopped. I told him "Yes, I know exactly where  Normandy is,and I know what D-Day was."

At that point he said "I also made a second jump into  Holland , into  Arnhem ."
 I was standing with a genuine war hero ....And then I realized  that it was June, just after the anniversary of D-Day. I asked Shifty if he was on his way back from  France , and he said "Yes...  And it's real sad because, these days, so few of the guys are left, and those that are, lots of them can't make the trip."My heart was in my throat and I didn't know what to say.

I helped Shifty get onto the plane and then realized he was back in Coach while I was in First Class. I sent the flight attendant back to get him and said that I wanted to switch seats.  When Shifty came forward, I got up out of the seat and told him I wanted him to have it, that I'd take his in coach.

 He said "No, son, you enjoy that seat.  Just knowing that there are still some who remember what we did and who still care is enough to make an old man very happy."  His eyes were filling up as he said it. And mine are brimming up now as I write this.

Shifty died on Jan. 17 after fighting cancer.
There was no parade.
No big event in  Staples   Center ..
No wall to wall back to back 24x7 news coverage.
No weeping fans on television.
And that's not right!!

Let's give Shifty his own Memorial Service, online, in our own quiet way.
Please forward this email to everyone you know.  Especially to the veterans.
                                          Rest in peace, Shifty.

Chuck Yeager, Maj Gen. [ret.]
P.S.  I think that it is amazing how the "media" chooses our "heroes" these days... Michael Jackson & the like!    

Please do me a favor and pass this on so that untold thousands can read it.....

                    We owe no less to our REAL HEROES

Title: WSJ: The SEAL tragedy in Afpakia
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 09, 2011, 12:38:41 AM
I recently visited a Special Operations headquarters in the Middle East—the location, along with other details, must remain classified. I received an incredibly impressive briefing on how U.S. commandos generate intelligence, locate targets, and then swoop down on them. The "operators" are the model of manly understatement. They don't brag but convey a quiet confidence that they know what they are doing—and they do.

As has been reported in several outlets, the Joint Special Operations Command—which comprises Navy SEALs, the Army's Delta Team, the Air Force's "Night Stalker" helicopter crews and other, even more clandestine forces—carries out a dozen operations a night in Afghanistan alone. Other JSOC contingents carry out raids in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and other lands where al Qaeda and its ilk operate. Most of these operations go so smoothly—resulting in a "jackpot," a wanted suspect killed or captured—that there is no mention of them in the press.

JSOC—and the entire U.S. Special Operations Command, of which JSOC is only one element—has come a long way since the 1980s. It was formed then in the wake of Operation Eagle Claw, the Iranian hostage rescue mission that resulted in disaster at a rendezvous point code-named Desert One.

Robert Gates was working at the CIA at the time, and as secretary of defense earlier this year he feared that the U.S. raid on Osama bin Laden would turn into another Desert One. His fear was understandable but misplaced. Such operations have become much more routine than they were in 1980. Since 9/11, JSOC has become the most experienced and capable special-operations force the world has ever seen.

Yet things can still go wrong, especially when the element of surprise is lost. Normally the enemy has no idea when the raiders are coming, since they descend from the night sky and surround their targets before they have time to respond. But it's different when another special operations element is caught in a firefight and a Quick Reaction Force is sent out to rescue them.

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 .In 2005, a SEAL team was caught in a firefight in Kunar Province in eastern Afghanistan. A Quick Reaction Force aboard a lumbering Chinook transport helicopter was shot down by the Taliban with a rocket-propelled grenade, killing all 16 on board. (The only SEAL to survive that harrowing mission, Marcus Luttrell, was part of the ground element being rescued and subsequently wrote a best-selling memoir, "Lone Survivor.")

History repeated itself on Saturday. Another U.S. contingent was caught in a firefight—this time in the treacherous Tangi Valley south of Kabul—and another Quick Reaction Force of SEALs was sent out in a Chinook helicopter. The Taliban, undoubtedly knowing the SEALs were on the way, used another rocket-propelled grenade to bring down the giant helicopter. This time the loss of life included 30 Americans, most of them members of the ultra-elite Seal Team Six, along with eight Afghan counterparts.

The loss underscores how heroic these men are—volunteers multiple times over who give up hope of a normal life to spend month after month deployed in one war zone after another chasing some of the most dangerous terrorists on earth. They know the risks they run: All Special Operations headquarters have a "wall of honor" displaying the pictures of fallen heroes—all supremely fit and dedicated young men struck down in the prime of life. Yet their comrades routinely strap on body armor and mount helicopters, night after night, knowing that their picture could soon hang on that wall.

While we should be in awe of special operators and their accomplishments, we should keep their capabilities in perspective: They cannot win a war by themselves.

The Tangi Valley is an area infested by Taliban. Even if Saturday's raid had been a success, killing or capturing some local Taliban leaders, it would hardly have ended the insurgent threat in that area. Counterterrorism raids are a vital part of any integrated counterinsurgency strategy, but they cannot substitute for the lack of such a strategy. The loss of leaders hurts any organization, but terrorist groups like the Taliban—or al Qaeda or Hezbollah—have shown considerable ability to regenerate even after major losses.

Only one thing can lead to their decisive defeat: a critical number of boots on the ground. In Afghanistan, the U.S. and our allies have the necessary ratio of ground forces in only two provinces—Helmand and Kandahar. The rest of the country is an "economy of force" mission. U.S. commanders hope to shift resources from the south, once that has been secured, to the east to gain control of ungoverned areas. But that strategy has been thrown into jeopardy by President Obama's decision to pull out 30,000 U.S. troops by September 2012.

Many in the administration wanted an even more precipitous withdrawal, arguing that we could rely on Special Operations troops to keep our enemies from establishing control of critical terrain. Saturday's disaster shows the risks of that strategy and underlines the limitations of even the world's best special operators. So we should honor them, but we should not exaggerate what they can do.

Mr. Boot is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is completing a history of guerrilla warfare and terrorism.

Title: SEAL Jon Tumilson and Hawkeye
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 25, 2011, 12:58:39 PM

Dog mourns at casket of fallen Navy SEAL
Labrador retriever Hawkeye lays down with a sigh at funeral of his owner


Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson lay in a coffin, draped in an American flag, in front of a tearful audience mourning his death in Afghanistan. Soon an old friend appeared, and like a fellow soldier on a battlefield, his loyal dog refused to leave him behind.

Tumilson’s Labrador retriever, Hawkeye, was photographed lying by Tumilson’s casket in a heart-wrenching image taken at the funeral service in Tumilson’s hometown of Rockford, Iowa, earlier this week. Hawkeye walked up to the casket at the beginning of the service and then dropped down with a heaving sigh as about 1,500 mourners witnessed a dog accompanying his master until the end, reported CBS.


Petty Officer 1st Class Jon T. Tumilson was killed along with other SEALs on Aug. 6 in Afghanistan.

The photo was snapped by Tumilson’s cousin, Lisa Pembleton, and posted on her Facebook page in memory of the San Diego resident. Tumilson, 35, was one of 30 American troops, including 22 Navy SEALs, who were killed when a Taliban insurgent shot down a Chinook helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade on Aug. 6.

“I felt compelled to take one photo to share with family members that couldn't make it or couldn't see what I could from the aisle,” Pembleton wrote on her Facebook page. “To say that he was an amazing man doesn't do him justice. The loss of Jon to his family, military family and friends is immeasurable.’’

Hawkeye was such a huge part of Tumilson’s life that Tumilson’s family followed the dog down the aisle as they entered the service in front of a capacity crowd in the gymnasium at the Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock Community School. Hawkeye then followed Tumilson’s good friend, Scott Nichols, as Nichols approached the stage to give a speech. As Nichols prepared to memorialize his friend, Hawkeye dutifully laid down near the casket.

The youngest of three children, Tumilson had wanted to be a Navy SEAL since he was a teenager. Friends and his two older sisters remembered a fearless soldier, and a Power Point presentation was shown that illustrated Tumilson’s active life outside of the military, which included scuba diving, martial arts, and triathlons.

"If J.T. had known he was going to be shot down when going to the aid of others, he would have went anyway," friend Boe Nankivel said at the service.

“Your dreams were big and seemed impossible to nearly everyone on the outside," his sister, Kristie Pohlman, said at the service. "I always knew you'd somehow do what you wanted."

As for Hawkeye, the loyal Labrador will now be owned by Nichols, Tumilson’s friend.


Title: WaPo: JSOC
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 04, 2011, 11:05:54 AM
Top Secret America’: A look at the military’s Joint Special Operations Command
By Dana Priest and William M. Arkin, Published: September 2
The CIA’s armed drones and paramilitary forces have killed dozens of al-Qaeda leaders and thousands of its foot soldiers. But there is another mysterious organization that has killed even more of America’s enemies in the decade since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

CIA operatives have imprisoned and interrogated nearly 100 suspected terrorists in their former secret prisons around the world, but troops from this other secret organization have imprisoned and interrogated 10 times as many, holding them in jails that it alone controls in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Since 9/11, this secretive group of men (and a few women) has grown tenfold while sustaining a level of obscurity that not even the CIA has managed. “We’re the dark matter. We’re the force that orders the universe but can’t be seen,” a strapping Navy SEAL, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said in describing his unit.

The SEALs are just part of the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command, known by the acronym JSOC, which has grown from a rarely used hostage rescue team into America’s secret army. When members of this elite force killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May, JSOC leaders celebrated not just the success of the mission but also how few people knew their command, based in Fayetteville, N.C., even existed.

This article, adapted from a chapter of the newly released “Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State,” by Washington Post reporters Dana Priest and William M. Arkin, chronicles JSOC’s spectacular rise, much of which has not been publicly disclosed before. Two presidents and three secretaries of defense routinely have asked JSOC to mount intelligence-gathering missions and lethal raids, mostly in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in countries with which the United States was not at war, including Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, the Philippines, Nigeria and Syria.

“The CIA doesn’t have the size or the authority to do some of the things we can do,” said one JSOC operator.

The president has given JSOC the rare authority to select individuals for its kill list — and then to kill, rather than capture, them. Critics charge that this individual man-hunting mission amounts to assassination, a practice prohibited by U.S. law. JSOC’s list is not usually coordinated with the CIA, which maintains a similar but shorter roster of names.

Created in 1980 but reinvented in recent years, JSOC has grown from 1,800 troops prior to 9/11 to as many as 25,000, a number that fluctuates according to its mission. It has its own intelligence division, its own drones and reconnaissance planes, even its own dedicated satellites. It also has its own cyberwarriors, who, on Sept. 11, 2008, shut down every jihadist Web site they knew.

Obscurity has been one of the unit’s hallmarks. When JSOC officers are working in civilian government agencies or U.S. embassies abroad, which they do often, they dispense with uniforms, unlike their other military comrades. In combat, they wear no name or rank identifiers. They have hidden behind various nicknames: the Secret Army of Northern Virginia, Task Force Green, Task Force 11, Task Force 121. JSOC leaders almost never speak in public. They have no unclassified Web site.

Despite the secrecy, JSOC is not permitted to carry out covert action as the CIA can. Covert action, in which the U.S. role is to be kept hidden, requires a presidential finding and congressional notification. Many national security officials, however, say JSOC’s operations are so similar to the CIA’s that they amount to covert action. The unit takes its orders directly from the president or the secretary of defense and is managed and overseen by a military-only chain of command.

Under President George W. Bush, JSOC’s operations were rarely briefed to Congress in advance — and usually not afterward — because government lawyers considered them to be “traditional military activities” not requiring such notification. President Obama has taken the same legal view, but he has insisted that JSOC’s sensitive missions be briefed to select congressional leaders.

Lethal force

JSOC’s first overseas mission in 1980, Operation Eagle Claw, was an attempted rescue of diplomats held hostage by Iranian students at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. It ended in a helicopter collision in the desert and the death of eight team members. The unit’s extreme secrecy also made conventional military commanders distrustful and, as a consequence, it was rarely used during conflicts.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, smarting from the CIA’s ability to move first into Afghanistan and frustrated by the Army’s slowness, pumped new life into the organization. JSOC’s core includes the Army’s Delta Force, the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, the Air Force’s 24th Special Tactics Squadron, and the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and 75th Ranger Regiment.

The lethality of JSOC was demonstrated in the December 2001 mountain battle at Tora Bora. Although bin Laden and many of his followers eventually escaped across the border into Pakistan, an Army history said that on the nights of Dec. 13 and 14, JSOC killed so many enemy forces that “dead bodies of al-Qaeda fighters were carted off the field the next day” by the truckload.

It also made mistakes. On July 1, 2002, in what the Rand Corp. labeled “the single most serious errant attack of the entire war,” a JSOC reconnaissance team hunting Taliban came under attack and an AC-130 gunship fired upon six sites in the village of Kakarak. The estimates of civilian deaths ranged from 48 to hundreds. The “wedding party incident,” as it became known because a wedding party was among the targets accidentally hit, convinced many Afghans that U.S. forces disregarded the lives of civilians.

Nevertheless, on Sept. 16, 2003, Rumsfeld signed an executive order cementing JSOC as the center of the counterterrorism universe. It listed 15 countries and the activities permitted under various scenarios, and it gave the preapprovals required to carry them out.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, lethal action against al-Qaeda was granted without additional approval. In the other countries — among them Algeria, Iran, Malaysia, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia and Syria — JSOC forces needed the tacit approval from the country involved or at least a sign-off from higher up on the American chain of command. In the Philippines, for example, JSOC could undertake psychological operations to confuse or trap al-Qaeda operatives, but it needed approval from the White House for lethal action. To attack targets in Somalia required approval from at least the secretary of defense, while attacks in Pakistan and Syria needed presidential sign-off.

In the fall of 2003, JSOC got a new commander who would turn the organization into arguably the most effective weapon in the U.S. counterterrorism arsenal. From his perch as vice director of operations on the Joint Staff, Brig. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal had come to believe there was an aversion to decision making at the top of government. No one wanted to be wrong, so they asked more questions or added more layers to the process. The new emphasis on interagency cooperation also meant meetings were bigger and longer. Any one of a multitude of agencies could stifle action until it was too late.

McChrystal believed he had “to slip out of the grip” of Washington’s suffocating bureaucracy, he told associates. He moved his headquarters to Balad Air Base, 45 miles northeast of Baghdad, and worked inside an old concrete airplane hangar with three connecting command centers: one to fight al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, one for the fight against Shiite extremists in the country and a third for himself, so he could oversee all operations.

He coaxed the other intelligence agencies to help him out — the CIA presence grew to 100, the FBI and National Security Agency to a combined 80. He won their loyalty by exposing the guts of his operation to everyone involved. “The more people you shared your problem with, the better you’d do in solving it,” he would say.

McChrystal installed a simple, PC-based common desktop and portal where troops could post documents, conduct chats, tap into the intelligence available on any target — pictures, biometrics, transcripts, intelligence reports — and follow the message traffic of commanders in the midst of operations.

Then he gave access to it to JSOC’s bureaucratic rivals: the CIA, NSA, FBI and others. He also began salting every national security agency in Washington with his top commandos. In all, he deployed 75 officers to Washington agencies and 100 more around the world. They rotated every four months so none would become disconnected from combat.

Some thought of the liaisons as spies for an organization that was already too important. But those suspicions did little to derail JSOC or McChrystal.

Stories spread that he ate just one meal and ran 10 miles every day. He looked the part, with his taut face, intense eyes and thin physique. A sign inside the wire at Balad said it all: “17 5 2.” Seventeen hours for work, five hours for sleep, two hours for eating and exercise.

McChrystal’s legendary work ethic mixed well with his Scotch Irish exuberance and common-man demeanor. He viewed beer calls with subordinates as an important bonding exercise. He made people call him by his first name. He seemed almost naively trusting. (This trait would become McChrystal’s undoing in 2010, after he was promoted to commander of forces in Afghanistan. He and members of his inner circle made what were seen as inappropriate comments about their civilian leaders in the presence of a Rolling Stone reporter. McChrystal offered to resign, and Obama quickly accepted.)

Harnessing technology

The Iraqi insurgency’s reliance on modern technology also gave tech-savvy JSOC and its partners, particularly the National Security Agency, an advantage. The NSA learned to locate all electronic signals in Iraq. “We just had a field day,” said a senior JSOC commander, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe secret operations.

One innovation was called the Electronic Divining Rod, a sensor worn by commandos that could detect the location of a particular cellphone. The beeping grew louder as a soldier with the device got closer to the person carrying a targeted phone.

Killing the enemy was the easy part, JSOC commanders said; finding him was the hard part. But thanks to Roy Apseloff, director of the National Media Exploitation Center, the U.S. government’s agency for analyzing documents captured by the military and intelligence community, JSOC’s intelligence collection improved dramatically. Apseloff offered to lend McChrystal his small staff, based in Fairfax, to examine items captured in raids. Apseloff’s team downloaded the contents of thumb drives, cellphones and locked or damaged computers to extract names, phone numbers, messages and images. Then they processed and stored that data, linking it to other information that might help analysts find not just one more bad guy but an entire network of them.

The major challenge was how to find the gems in the trash quickly enough to be useful. The key was more bandwidth, the electronic pipeline that carried such information as e-mail and telephone calls around the world. Luckily for the military and JSOC, the attacks of 2001 coincided with an unrelated development: the dot-com bust. It created a glut in commercial satellite capacity, and the military bought up much of it.

Within a year after McChrystal’s arrival, JSOC had linked 65 stations around the world to enable viewers to participate in the twice-daily, 45-minute video teleconferences that he held. By 2006, JSOC had increased its bandwidth capability by 100 times in three years, according to senior leaders.

The other challenge JSOC faced was a human one: Ill-trained interrogators had little information about individual detainees and didn’t know what questions to ask or how to effectively ask them. Worse, some members of the JSOC’s Task Force 121 were beating prisoners.

Even before the Army’s Abu Ghraib prison photos began circulating in 2004, a confidential report warned that some JSOC interrogators were assaulting prisoners and hiding them in secret facilities. JSOC troops also detained mothers, wives and daughters when the men in a house they were looking for were not at home. The report warned these detentions and other massive sweep operations were counterproductive to winning Iraqi support.

An investigation of JSOC detention facilities in Iraq during a four-month period in 2004 found that interrogators gave some prisoners only bread and water, in one case for 17 days. Other prisoners were locked up in cells so cramped they could not stand up or lie down while their captors played loud music to disrupt sleep. Still others were stripped, drenched with cold water and then interrogated in air-conditioned rooms or outside in the cold.

Eventually, 34 JSOC task force soldiers were disciplined in five cases over a one-year period beginning in 2003.

McChrystal ordered his intelligence chief, Michael Flynn, to professionalize the interrogation system. By the summer of 2005, JSOC’s interrogation booths at Balad sat around the corner from the large warren of rooms where specialists mined thumb drives, computers, cellphones, documents to use during interrogations. Paper maps were torn down from the walls and replaced with flat-panel screens and sophisticated computerized maps. Detainees willing to cooperate were taught how to use a mouse to fly around their virtual neighborhoods to help identify potential targets.

JSOC had to use the rules laid out in the Army Field Manual to interrogate detainees. But its interrogators were — and still are — permitted to keep them segregated from other prisoners and to hold them, with the proper approvals from superiors and in some case from Defense Department lawyers, for up to 90 days before they have to be transferred into the regular military prison population.

The new interrogation system also included an FBI and judicial team that collected evidence needed for trial by the Iraqi Central Criminal Court in Baghdad. From early 2005 to early 2007, the teams sent more than 2,000 individuals to trial, said senior military officials.

Body counts

Al-Qaeda used the U.S. invasion of Iraq as a call to arms to terrorists and recruits throughout the Middle East who flooded in from Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Saudi Arabia — as many as 200 of them a month at the high point. By the end of 2005, a shocking picture emerged: Iraq was rife with semiautonomous al-Qaeda networks.

Al-Qaeda had divided Iraq into sections and put a provincial commander in charge of each. These commanders further divided their territory into districts and put someone in charge of each of those, too, according to military officials. There were city leaders within those areas and cells within each city. There were leaders for foreign fighters, for finance and for communications, too.

By the spring of 2006, using the expanded bandwidth and constant surveillance by unmanned aircraft, JSOC executed a series of raids, known as Operation Arcadia, in which it collected and analyzed 662 hours of full-motion video shot over 17 days. The raid netted 92 compact discs and barrels full of documents, leading to another round of raids at 14 locations. Those hits yielded hard drives, thumb drives and a basement stacked with 704 compact discs, including copies of a sophisticated al-Qaeda marketing campaign. Operation Arcadia led, on June 7, 2006, to the death of the al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, when JSOC directed an airstrike that killed him.

JSOC’s lethality was evident in its body counts: In 2008, in Afghanistan alone, JSOC commandos struck 550 targets and killed roughly a thousand people, officials said. In 2009, they executed 464 operations and killed 400 to 500 enemy forces. As Iraq descended into chaos in the summer of 2005, JSOC conducted 300 raids a month. More than 50 percent of JSOC Army Delta Force commandos now have Purple Hearts.

The most intense Iraqi raids reminded McChrystal of Lawrence of Arabia’s description of “rings of sorrow,” the emotional toll casualties take on small groups of warriors. Greatly influenced by T.E. Lawrence’s life story, McChrystal thought of his JSOC troops as modern-day tribal forces: dependent upon one another for kinship and survival.

If killing were all that winning wars was about, the book on JSOC would be written. But no war in modern times is ever won simply by killing enough of the enemy. Even in an era of precision weaponry, accidents happen that create huge political setbacks.

Every JSOC raid that also wounded or killed civilians, or destroyed a home or someone’s livelihood, became a source of grievance so deep that the counterproductive effects, still unfolding, are difficult to calculate. JSOC’s success in targeting the right homes, businesses and individuals was only ever about 50 percent, according to two senior commanders. They considered this rate a good one.

“Sometimes our actions were counterproductive,” McChrystal said in an interview. “We would say, ‘We need to go in and kill this guy,’ but just the effects of our kinetic action did something negative and they [the conventional army forces that occupied much of the country] were left to clean up the mess.”

In 2008, Bush also briefly sent JSOC into Pakistan. To soothe the worries of U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson about the mounting civilian deaths from JSOC raids in other countries, commandos brought her a Predator console so she could witness a raid in real time. Because of public outcry in Pakistan, U.S. officials canceled the mission after only three raids. The CIA has continued to conduct drone strikes there.

Targeting bureaucracy

The Defense Department has given JSOC a bigger role in nonmilitary assignments as well, including tracing the flow of money from international banks to finance terrorist networks. It also has become deeply involved in “psychological operations,” which it renamed “military information operations” to sound less intimidating. JSOC routinely sends small teams in civilian clothes to U.S. embassies to help with what it calls media and messaging campaigns.

When Obama came into office, he cottoned to the organization immediately. (It didn’t hurt that his CIA director, Leon E. Panetta, has a son who, as a naval reservist, had deployed with JSOC.) Soon Obama was using JSOC even more than his predecessor. In 2010, for example, he secretly directed JSOC troops to Yemen to kill the leaders of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

The Arab Spring forced the White House to delay some JSOC missions. In the meantime, the organization is busy with its new 30,000-square-foot office building turned command center. Unlike previous offices, it is not in some obscure part of the world. It sits across the highway from the Pentagon in pristine suburban splendor, just a five-minute drive from McChrystal’s civilian office and the former general’s favorite beer-call restaurants.

As its name implies, the focus of Joint Special Operations Task Force-National Capital Region is not the next terrorist network but another of its lifelong enemies: the Washington bureaucracy. Some 50 battle-hardened JSOC warriors and a handful of other federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies work there.

Mexico is at the top of its wish list. So far the Mexican government, whose constitution limits contact with the U.S. military, is relying on the other federal agencies — the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement — for intelligence collection and other help.

But JSOC’s National Capital task force is not just sitting idly by, waiting to be useful to its southern neighbors. It is creating targeting packages for U.S. domestic agencies that have sought its help, including the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, the second-largest federal law enforcement agency and the latest to make a big play for a larger U.S. counterterrorism role.

From the book “Top Secret America.” Copyright 2011 by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin. Reprinted by permission of Little, Brown and Co., New York, N.Y. All rights reserved.
Title: A little tribute from Gene Simmons
Post by: G M on September 06, 2011, 01:52:14 PM

Gene Simmons and the troops.

No love for the Coasties though.
Title: Sgt. Dakota Myer
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 16, 2011, 11:46:53 AM
Title: The last six seconds
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 07, 2011, 02:36:30 PM

From: Albright, Andrew Mr CIV USA IMCOM <>
Subject: Fwd: "THE LAST SIX SECONDS...!!!"
Date: Saturday, December 18, 2010, 12:13 PM
Please thank an access control professional the next time you have a chance--the trailing speech by Lt. Gen Kelly pays tribute to two US Marines on ACP duty.  Pray for their souls.

De Oppresso Liber,


To Marines & My Friends:

On Nov 13, 2010 Lt General John Kelly, USMC, gave a speech to the Semper Fi Society of St. Louis, MO.  This was 4 days after his son, Lt Robert Kelly, USMC was killed by an IED while on his 3rd Combat tour. During his speech, General Kelly spoke about the dedication and valor of the young men and women who step forward each and every day to protect us. During the speech, he never mentioned the loss of his own son.  He closed the speech with the moving account of the last 6 seconds in the lives of 2 young Marines who died with rifles blazing to protect their brother Marines.


"I will leave you with a story about the kind of people they are, about the quality of the steel in their backs, about the kind of dedication they bring to our country while they serve in uniform. and forever after as veterans. Two years ago when I was the Commander of all U.S. and Iraqi forces, in fact, the 22nd of April 2008, two Marine infantry battalions, 1/9 "The Walking Dead," and 2/8 were switching out in Ramadi. One battalion in the closing days of their deployment going home very soon, the other just starting its seven-month combat tour.

Two Marines; "Corporal Jonathan Yale" and "Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter",
22 and 20 years old respectively, one from each battalion, were assuming the watch together at the entrance gate of an outpost that contained a makeshift barracks housing 50 Marines.  The same broken down ramshackle building was also home to 100 Iraqi police, also my men and our allies in the fight against the terrorists in Ramadi, a city until recently the most dangerous city on earth and owned by Al Qaeda.  Yale was a dirt poor mixed-race kid from Virginia with a wife and daughter, and a mother and sister who lived with him and he supported as well.  He did this on a yearly salary of less than $23,000.  Haerter, on the other hand, was a middle class white kid from Long Island.  They were from two completely different worlds.  Had they not joined the Marines they would never have met each other, or understood that multiple America's exist simultaneously depending on one's race, education level, economic status, and where you might have been born.

But they were Marines, combat Marines, 'forged in the same crucible of Marine training', and because of this bond they were brothers as close, or closer, than if they were born of the same woman.

The mission orders they received from the sergeant squad leader I am sure went something like: "Okay you two clowns, stand this post and let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass."  "You clear?"  I am also sure Yale and Haerter then rolled their eyes and said in unison something like: "Yes Sergeant," with just enough attitude that made the point without saying the words, "No kidding sweetheart, we know what we're doing."  They then relieved two other Marines on watch and took up their post at the entry control point of Joint Security Station Nasser, in the Sophia section of Ramadi, Al Anbar, Iraq.

A few minutes later a large blue truck turned down the alley way - perhaps 60-70 yards in length-and sped its way through the serpentine of concrete jersey walls.  The truck stopped just short of where the two were posted and detonated, killing them both catastrophically. Twenty-four brick masonry houses were damaged or destroyed.  A mosque 100 yards away collapsed.  The truck's engine came to rest two hundred yards away knocking most of a house down before it stopped.  Our explosive experts reckoned the blast was made of 2,000 pounds of explosives.  Two died, and because these two young infantrymen didn't have it in their DNA to run from danger, they saved 150 of their Iraqi and American brothers-in-arms.

When I read the situation report about the incident a few hours after it happened I called the regimental commander for details as something about this struck me as different.  Marines dying or being seriously wounded is commonplace in combat.  We expect Marines regardless of rank or MOS to stand their ground and do their duty, and even die in the process, if that is what the mission takes.  But this just seemed different.  The regimental commander had just returned from the site and he agreed, but reported that there were no American witnesses to the event-just Iraqi police.  I figured if there was any chance of finding out what actually happened and then to decorate the two Marines to acknowledge their bravery, I'd have to do it as a combat award that requires two eye-witnesses and we figured the bureaucrats back in Washington would never buy Iraqi statements.  If it had any chance at all, it had to come under the signature of a general officer.

I traveled to Ramadi the next day and spoke individually to a half-dozen Iraqi police all of whom told the same story.  The blue truck turned down into the alley and immediately sped up as it made its way through the serpentine.  They all said, "We knew immediately what was going on as soon as the two Marines began firing."  The Iraqi police then related that some of them also fired, and then to a man, ran for safety just prior to the explosion.  All survived.  Many were injured, some seriously.  One of the Iraqis elaborated and with tears welling up said, "They'd run like any normal man would to save his life."  "What he didn't know until then," he said, "and what he learned that very instant, was that Marines are not normal."  Choking past the emotion he said, "Sir, in the name of God no sane man would have stood there and done what they did."  "No sane man."  "They saved us all."

What we didn't know at the time, and only learned a couple of days later after I wrote a summary and submitted both Yale and Haerter for posthumous Navy Crosses, was that one of our security cameras, damaged initially in the blast, recorded some of the suicide attack.  It happened exactly as the Iraqis had described it.  It took exactly six seconds from when the truck entered the alley until it detonated.

You can watch the last six seconds of their young lives.  Putting myself in their heads I supposed it took about a second for the two Marines to separately come to the same conclusion about what was going on once the truck came into their view at the far end of the alley.  Exactly no time to talk it over, or call the sergeant to ask what they should do.  Only enough time to take half an instant and think about what the sergeant told them to do only a few minutes before: "let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass."  The two Marines had about five seconds left to live.

It took maybe another two seconds for them to present their weapons, take aim, and open up.  By this time the truck was half-way through the barriers and gaining speed the whole time.  Here, the recording shows a number of Iraqi police, some of whom had fired their AKs, now scattering like the normal and rational men they were - some running right past the Marines. They had three seconds left to live.

For about two seconds more, the recording shows the Marines' weapons firing non-stop. the truck's windshield exploding into shards of glass as their rounds take it apart and tore in to the body of the son-of-a-bitch who is trying to get past them to kill their brothers - American and Iraqi - bedded down in the barracks totally unaware of the fact that their lives at that moment depended entirely on two Marines standing their ground.  If they had been aware, they would have known they were safe. because two Marines stood between them and a crazed suicide bomber.  The recording shows the truck careening to a stop immediately in front of the two Marines.  In all of the instantaneous violence Yale and Haerter never hesitated.  By all reports and by the recording, they never stepped back.

--- They never even started to step aside.  They never even shifted their weight.  With their feet spread shoulder width apart, they leaned into the danger, firing as fast as they could work their weapons.  They had only one second left to live.

The truck explodes.  The camera goes blank.  Two young men go to their God -- Six seconds.  Not enough time to think about their families, their country, their flag, or about their lives or their deaths, but more than enough time for two very brave young men to do their duty. Into eternity.

That is the kind of people who are on watch all over the world tonight - for you...and for us!!!!!!!

We Marines believe that God gave America the greatest gift he could bestow to man while he lived on this earth - FREEDOM...!!  We also believe he gave us another gift nearly as precious - our Marines, soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Coast Guardsmen - to safeguard that gift and guarantee no force on this earth can ever steal it away.

It has been my distinct honor to have been with you here today. Rest assured our America, this experiment in democracy started over two centuries ago, will forever remain the "land of the free and home of the brave" so long as we never run out of tough young Americans who are willing to look beyond their own self-interest and comfortable lives, and go into the darkest and most dangerous places on earth to hunt down, and kill, those who would do us harm.

God Bless America, and...SEMPER PARATUS!"
Title: The real OBL hit
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 09, 2011, 10:59:47 AM

New book, just released, contradicts earlier reports about the raid. The author, a former SEAL, can be heard in this interview with Mark Levin, beginning at about 92:20. A worthwhile listen, it provides more meat than the following column, written by the book's author.

Exclusive Excerpt: ‘Seal Target Geronimo: The Inside Story of the Mission to Kill Osama bin Laden’

Posted by Chuck Pfarrer Nov 8th 2011 at 9:47 am

Winston Churchill said that “history is written by the victors,” and that maxim is as correct today as it was in 1945. But in order to write history, one needs access to the facts–the accounts of eyewitnesses, or, at the very least, access to people who know the truth.

In the six months since Navy SEALs staged their successful raid against Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, history has been impossible to write, in the first place because the “facts” put forward by the United States government were incomplete and then embarrassingly contradictory.

Like everyone else in the world, I heard the first accounts of the raid, and the contradictory details leaked by politicians. They didn’t add up. If the lead helicopter crashed as it approached the target, why didn’t the second helicopter land in its place? What was the purpose of setting down an assault element outside the compound’s walls—only to have them use explosives to get back in? Most glaring of all was the idea of a SEAL Team engaging in a 45-minute firefight. It didn’t jibe with either the casualties suffered by the assaulters (zero) or the killed and wounded inside the compound (one wounded and five dead). Clearly something was wrong, but no one came forward with clarifications. In the absence of facts, the New Yorker pulled together a “ground up” version of the assault, a very ugly tale of murder–complete with a SEAL Team that fought its way up three flights of stairs to shoot a man and his wife in their bedroom.

In the course of my research, I found that the Administration was not particularly helpful. Not everyone who asked for White House help was blown off, but I was. At first I wondered why such an incomplete and obviously false story was allowed to stand. I still don’t know. But history and the brave men who conducted this operation deserved better.

They deserve the truth, and the facts of the mission are these: The raid on Abbottabad had achieved its objective in the first two minutes. The downed helicopter did not crash “on insertion” but only after it had successfully landed operators on the roof of bin Laden’s residence. Assaulting from the top down, these assaulters quickly took over the building.

There were as many as twenty non-combatant women and children within the compound. The operators who entered bin Laden’s bedroom did not wait for him to arm himself; they shot first. Amal was grazed by a bullet when the SEALs fired at her husband, who was at that instant concealed behind her nightgown and reaching for an automatic weapon. The second civilian casualty, the wife of Bin Laden’s courier, Abu Ahmed al Kuwaiti, was standing behind her husband as he exchanged gunfire with a passing helicopter. From start to finish, the operation took 38 minutes.

The Navy SEALs who attacked the compound did so with the stealth and precision that has been the hallmark of Naval Special Warfare for more than 50 years. The events at Abbottabad exemplify the fighting spirit and professionalism of the United States Navy, and the facts of that operation are a vital part of our nation’s history. I am honored to tell the story.


Exclusive Excerpt

On the night that Osama bin Laden was killed, Sohaib Athar could not sleep. The thirty-three-year-old IT consultant had moved his young family to Abbottabad almost six months earlier. He’d come to this quiet city after his wife and son were hit by a car on the teeming streets of Lahore. A physics grad of Forman Christian University, Sohaib also held a master of science from the University of the Punjab. He liked to say that in his previous life he was a “start- up specialist”—he’d come to Abbottabad to open a coffee shop and Internet café. Business was good. His Web site said proudly that his was the first coffee shop in Abbottabad to brew fresh espresso. Sohaib Athar was a quiet man and he wanted a quiet life. That night, the windows were open in his apartment on the Jadoon Plaza. The heat of the day was slow in breaking, and by midnight, scented wind blew down from the Shimala Hills above the city. Spring was coming to the foothills of the Hindu Kush, and as the days had grown hotter, people were shifting their activity to the evening, when it was cooler. Past midnight, a handful of shops were still open, and now and again a truck would rumble past the dusty strip mall sprawling on either side of Sohaib’s balcony. The city of Abbottabad was falling asleep.

Just before one in the morning on May 2, Sohaib heard a buzzing sound; it grew in volume and faded, came in with the wind and left with it. Finally, he could tell it was the noise of a helicopter— or maybe a couple of them. Sohaib looked out the window toward the echoing hills. The night was hazy, and above the glare of the streetlights he could see nothing. The sound came again and then it was gone, like someone had thrown a switch. He crossed from the balcony to his laptop and logged on to his Twitter account: “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).” Sohaib could have no idea of what was unfolding three miles to the east of his balcony. It was 12:58 a.m., and at a place called Yaba Yar, a team of United States Navy SEALs were jumping from helicopters into the high walled compound of Osama bin Laden…

Sohaib listened; another helicopter, this one an MH-47 Chinook, flew nearby and lumbered off to the east. He heard the Chinook, but did not see it. Like the other helicopters used in the assault, this aircraft flew without lights and was painted the exact color of the dusky night. Sohaib went to his keyboard and tweeted again: “Go away helicopter—before I take out my giant swatter ;-/”.

At four minutes past one in the morning, an enormous boom shook the city— a thunder blast out of a cloudless sky… Traffic on the street below Sohaib’s window had now stopped completely. The entire city of Abbottabad seemed to hold its breath. There were two or three more explosions, smaller, muffled, but Sohaib thought they might be just as deadly. Maybe he had been foolish to think that this was a safe place. He walked back into his living room, sat down at his laptop and tweeted again: “Funny, moving to Abbottabad was part of the ‘being safe’ strategy.”

Sohaib Attar and Osama bin Laden had both come to Abbottabad for the same reasons — to put themselves, and their families, beyond danger. Both of them thought that Abbottabad was a safe place.

One of them had been wrong.
Title: Rove
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 18, 2011, 08:53:59 AM
My nine hunting companions last weekend in South Texas didn't look particularly special. Ranging from early-30s to mid-40s, they could be mistaken for the young doctor down the street, the general manager of the car dealership, the guy who builds custom motorcycles.

But they are extraordinary. Among them, they had a Navy Cross, four Silver Stars, 26 Bronze Stars for valor and four Purple Hearts. These were Navy SEALs with a combined 150 years of service and more than 67 overseas deployments in the war against terror.

The men had taken leave time to spend Veterans Day hunting quail and deer with friends of the Navy SEAL Foundation at Loralee and Al West's San Rafael Ranch just north of the Rio Grande River. It was their way of expressing thanks for all the foundation does to support their families and teammates. For the rest of us, it was an extraordinary honor to share the pleasures of their company.

At a Saturday luncheon, a SEAL no longer on active duty spoke to the group about his last mission, which took place in 2007. (I withhold his identity, as SEALS are generally not publicly named.) Seven days before his deployment in Iraq's Anbar province was to end, his unit received intelligence about the presence of 16 to 20 al Qaeda combatants in a remote compound. In the dark of night, helicopters dropped his SEAL team and Iraqi scouts 3.5 kilometers from their target. After surrounding the building, they assaulted it by blowing the main door.

Inside, the SEAL found himself in a foyer with doors leading to two interior rooms. He and another SEAL kicked in one door and were confronted by four al Qaeda, two armed with AK-47s, one with an M4, and the final one with a pistol. In the darkened room, both sides immediately opened fire. The second SEAL and an Iraqi scout were killed almost immediately.

The rifle of the remaining SEAL, our speaker, was shot out of his hand. He drew his pistol and returned fire, killing two al Qaeda fighters. He was then knocked to the ground as a grenade that one of them was preparing to throw instead exploded in the room.

When he regained consciousness, he realized the two remaining al Qaeda had driven off his assault team and were still firing at the retiring Americans and Iraqi scouts. He discarded his momentary impulse to play dead and instead re-engaged, emptying first one pistol magazine and then another as he shot it out with the two terrorists, killing both.

Staggering to his feet, he found his dead SEAL comrade and then two dead Iraqi scouts. He attempted to communicate with his unit before realizing his radio had been shot away. He recovered his dead teammate's radio to communicate with the rest of the assault team, which was about to have the compound pulverized by a C-130 gunship orbiting overhead, assuming since their calls had gone unanswered that none of their comrades in the building was still alive.

About Karl Rove
Karl Rove served as Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush from 2000–2007 and Deputy Chief of Staff from 2004–2007. At the White House he oversaw the Offices of Strategic Initiatives, Political Affairs, Public Liaison, and Intergovernmental Affairs and was Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, coordinating the White House policy-making process.

Before Karl became known as "The Architect" of President Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns, he was president of Karl Rove + Company, an Austin-based public affairs firm that worked for Republican candidates, nonpartisan causes, and nonprofit groups. His clients included over 75 Republican U.S. Senate, Congressional and gubernatorial candidates in 24 states, as well as the Moderate Party of Sweden.

Karl writes a weekly op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, is a Fox News Contributor and is the author of the book "Courage and Consequence" (Threshold Editions).

Email the author atKarl@Rove.comor visit him on the web Or, you can send a Tweet to @karlrove.

Click here to order his new book,Courage and Consequence.
.Despite grievous wounds, the SEAL explored the rest of the house, collected three Iraqi scouts and two terrorists they detained, and then moved his people outside to link up with the assault team. He refused to be carried to the evacuation chopper: He hurt so badly he felt he'd be further injured. Once on board, an airlift medic cut away all his clothes, stabilizing him as best as he could.

When the chopper landed at base, airfield personnel had difficulty assembling a litter. Spotting a nearby golf cart, the SEAL walked off the chopper and across the strip, wearing only his boots.

Driven to the base hospital, he was found to have 16 gunshot and shrapnel wounds. An additional 11 rounds had slammed into his body armor. Within 48 hours, he was airlifted to Bethesda Naval Hospital and 16 days later he talked his way out and went home to convalesce.

On Veterans Day 2011, in a south Texas pasture, this former SEAL said he'd learned from this experience the importance of empathy. He now works as an advocate for wounded warriors.

Some warn that America's freedom, like all things human, may crumble into dust. The reason it doesn't is because in times of trial our country produces men and women of courage and fortitude, honor and sacrifice. Which is another way of saying America produces self-effacing heroes like last weekend's hunting companions.

Mr. Rove is the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.

Title: Dog Soldiers
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 26, 2011, 01:37:48 PM
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: jcordova on December 26, 2011, 03:55:35 PM
My respects for all those K-9 in the military and in Law enforcement. We have used K9s in some of our arrests and works great, you should see the fear in the  eyes of the bad guys. They sure surrender very fast.  Thank God for the trainers also, they do a great job.
Title: SEAL Sniper in action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 02, 2012, 09:00:56 PM
Title: Re: SEAL Sniper in action
Post by: G M on January 03, 2012, 01:56:03 AM

Allah had to be cranking out virgins 24/7 because of him alone! Awesome!
Title: Language warning
Post by: G M on January 05, 2012, 11:35:39 AM

Kyle is an even bigger hero, if that was possible.

Note that Ventura wasn't a SEAL during Vietnam and never saw combat, despite what he leads many to believe.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: DougMacG on January 05, 2012, 12:53:07 PM
Good story. "We deserved to lose a few guys"?  What a jerk.  Ventura was part of UDT (underwater demolition team) 8 years before they merged with Seals.
He is also the most prominent of 9/11 truthers.  :-(  Don't get him started on the JFK assassination.
Title: Ventura IS a war hero
Post by: ccp on January 05, 2012, 01:49:19 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:
Title: Re: Ventura IS a war hero
Post by: G M on January 05, 2012, 04:01:24 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:

Title: Re-entry
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 18, 2012, 06:07:13 PM
BTW I met a CMH recipient at the SHOT Show today  8-) 8-) 8-)

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.
Title: WSJ: Rescue operation Somalia. All GGs saved, all BGs killed.
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 25, 2012, 10:40:48 AM
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.

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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.

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CloseAssociated Press
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."

Title: A thought upon which to reflect , , ,
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 26, 2012, 03:23:38 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
Title: USN SEAL Sniper Chris Kyle
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 30, 2012, 08:36:58 PM
Chris Kyle USN Ret..Most lethal sniper in U.S. history

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.
Title: Gen. Odierno: The Army in transition
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 03, 2012, 08:35:09 AM
Title: WSJ: Under Attack in Afg. along the Iranian border
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 12, 2012, 06:15:08 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?"

"What happened?"

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.
Title: Kenyan serves in USMC out of respect and gratitude
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 05, 2012, 04:40:15 PM
Title: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Spartan Dog on June 21, 2012, 10:23:27 AM
Posted on behalf of Crafty Dog

Title: Mosul, Iraq-- seven years ago
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 30, 2012, 12:40:29 PM
So that we may remember:

Also posted in the Iraq thread.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: JDN on July 01, 2012, 09:36:31 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.",0,3013530.story
Title: Sgt. Travis Mills
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 03, 2012, 04:22:42 PM
Title: Plebe Summer Gets Physical
Post by: bigdog on July 12, 2012, 02:49:25 PM

A friend's boy is here.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 27, 2012, 03:09:22 PM
Title: The sub that sank a train
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 09, 2012, 08:48:10 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.

1:32 A.M.
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.

1:45 A.M.
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.

1:47 A.M.
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 . . [4] 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 @

P.S. : He graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1935 ... lived to age 93 ...
Title: How on earth did he ever get through airport security?
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 19, 2012, 08:33:21 AM
Title: Bayonet!
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 24, 2012, 09:59:46 AM
Title: Butch O'Hare
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 09, 2012, 08:37:10 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. 
Title: Did your Daily Pravda tell you this? Lt. Col Raible (WSJ)
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 09, 2012, 09:19:04 PM
second post

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."

Enlarge Image

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.

Title: RIP Birger Stromsheim
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 17, 2012, 10:08:14 PM
Birger Stromsheim
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
Title: CMOH Staff Sgt Clinton Romesha
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 12, 2013, 08:49:40 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.
Title: The man who shot Bin Laden
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 13, 2013, 08:48:48 AM
Title: Guy Gabaldon in WW2
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 12, 2013, 12:55:13 PM


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.

Title: Sgt. Greg Robinson
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 03, 2013, 10:45:33 PM
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!"
Title: Sgt. 1st Class Dillard Johnson
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 23, 2013, 10:50:12 AM
Title: Combat controller among most-decorated troops since 2001
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 22, 2013, 09:41:25 AM
Title: CMOH
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 28, 2013, 10:14:09 AM
Title: Our Troops in Action in Afpakia
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 30, 2013, 08:09:36 AM
Title: Rove: A Wounded Warrior starts a new chapter
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 08, 2013, 06:52:22 AM
A Wounded Warrior Starts a New Chapter
Jason Redman, a Navy SEAL shot eight times in Fallujah, is retiring after nearly 21 years of service.
by Karl Rove

This is a story of heroism and endurance you need to know about.

On Friday at 11 a.m., surrounded by comrades, family and friends, Lt. Jason Redman will retire from the U.S. Navy after a distinguished career of nearly 21 years, in a ceremony at the SEAL Heritage Center on Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek in Virginia Beach, Va.

Jay enlisted in the Navy in 1992 as a teenager, earned his SEAL trident emblem in 1996 and rose by 2000 to Petty Officer First Class. He was then selected as one of 50 enlisted personnel in the Navy to get a shot at an officer track by returning to college. He was commissioned an ensign in May 2004, deployed the next year to Afghanistan and then to Iraq.

If Jay had his way, he wouldn't be leaving the elite SEALS. As his wife, Erica, once told me, "Being a SEAL is what God made Jay for." But it is time to go: No matter how tough and battle-ready Jay's mind and spirit and will are, his body isn't.

I referred to Jay in a column several years ago but couldn't use his name since he was then on active duty. After being shot eight times in Fallujah in September 2007, Jay put a handwritten sign on the door of his room at Bethesda Naval Hospital saying he didn't want visitors who were feeling sorry for him.

"The wounds I received," he wrote, "I got in a job I love, doing it for people I love, supporting the freedom of a country I deeply love. I am incredibly tough" and will have "a full recovery." His hospital room, Jay said, was a place of "fun, optimism, and intense rapid regrowth. If you are not prepared for that, GO ELSEWHERE." He signed it "The Management."

The surgeons did miraculous work in stitching Jay back together, but after tough years of rehabilitation it was clear he couldn't regain the strength he needed in his arms to be at the 110% level every SEAL needs when he goes into combat. Even for SEALs, there are limits to the power of mind over matter. And Jay longed to be with his military brothers on combat missions in the field, not at a chair and desk in an office that would have been his Navy future.

So what's next for Jay? He and co-author John Bruning have a book, "The Trident," coming out in November. Jay began writing it to pass the time during his recovery from 37 surgeries. The book reflects on lessons learned as a warrior, leader, husband and father. It's also about success and failure, with Jay explaining why the latter often provided him life's most important lessons. I haven't read the manuscript, but if it's anything like Jay, it will be candid, humble, funny and surprising.

Jay is also thinking about trying his hand on the speaking circuit, sharing lessons of leadership and teamwork from his SEAL training and experiences. I hope he does: Jay's a bundle of energy, so it's easy to imagine he'll be good at this, too. All he needs is an agent.

The book and the speaking circuit will give Jay and Erica time to figure out the next chapter in their life together. He'll also be able to spend more time with his 14-year-old son and two girls, ages 10 and 8.

Whatever the next chapter entails for the Redman family, there will be plenty of room in it for another of Jay's passions. He started a nonprofit group called that modifies the clothing—including uniforms—of warriors injured in combat to accommodate the medical devices required during recovery and after returning to health. Jay wants wounded warriors to have fashionable clothing that is individually modified for their special requirements. For him, it's a question of dignity and respect for those warriors.

Jason Redman represents the military generation that brought down the Taliban, liberated Iraq, turned the tide in Anbar, stabilized Afghanistan, systematically went after al Qaeda and protected America in the first conflict of he 21st century. Now some of that generation are leaving the military. But, like Jay, they are not leaving the service of our country.

Mr. Rove, a former deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, helped organize the political action committee American Crossroads.
Title: CMH for Staff Sgt Ty Carter
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 26, 2013, 05:25:11 AM
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 24, 2013, 07:18:49 PM
Title: Obama takes on God
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 05, 2013, 05:24:48 PM
Report: Military Priests Face Arrest for Celebrating Mass during Shutdown

Title: Grenada
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 28, 2013, 08:02:53 AM
Title: Amazing story
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 31, 2013, 11:09:50 AM
Title: 43 years ago today
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 21, 2013, 09:55:32 AM
Title: Fallujah
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 29, 2013, 01:58:09 PM
Title: More Fallujah
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 02, 2013, 10:22:59 AM
Title: RIP CMOH Cpl Rudy Hernandez
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 24, 2013, 11:59:38 AM

Cpl. Rudy Hernandez cheated death on the battlefields of Korea 62 years ago. But the Medal of Honor recipient and Fayetteville resident couldn't live forever. The 82-year-old Hernandez died early Saturday at Womack Army Medical Center, according to friends.

Cpl. Hernandez was honored last month as grand marshal of Fayetteville's Veterans Day Parade. He rode the parade route in a Korean War-era jeep, waving alongside Gov. Pat McCrory, but shortly thereafter, Cpl. Hernandez was diagnosed with cancer and several other ailments, said friend Steve Sosa, a retired Army major who serves as president of the Rudy Hernandez Chapter of the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment Association.

Mr. Sosa said he last saw Cpl. Hernandez in the intensive care unit of Womack on Friday.  At the time, doctors were hopeful, he said. But Cpl. Hernandez passed away about 1:30 a.m.

"Rudy was quite a gentleman in war and peace," Mr. Sosa said. "He was a soldier's soldier. Everybody loved Rudy Hernandez."

Cpl. Hernandez, the son of a Californian migrant farm worker, is survived by his wife, Denzil, and three children from an earlier marriage.  He moved to Fayetteville in March 1980 after spending his post-war years working as a veterans benefit counselor in Los Angeles. 

Cpl. Hernandez was awarded the Medal of Honor in April 1952 by President Harry S. Truman in a ceremony held in the White House Rose Garden.  Following the award, Cpl. Hernandez became a counselor to wounded veterans of Korean and Vietnam wars, working for the Veterans Administration.  That work, as much as his actions in Korea, has become his lasting legacy, and in August, Fort Bragg's Warrior Transition Battalion Complex was rededicated in his name.

It was just after 2 a.m. on May 31, 1951 when Cpl. Hernandez felt the warm trickle of blood from a shrapnel wound on his head.  Cpl. Hernandez and other soldiers of Company G, 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team were holed up in foxholes near the Korean town of Wontong-mi, during a North Korean assault.  From their hole, Cpl. Hernandez and another soldier watched as the enemy approached and the night erupted in artillery, mortar and machine-gun fire.  As the rest of his platoon retreated after nearly exhausting their ammunition, Cpl. Hernandez and his foxhole mate held their position and kept firing.

When he finally did leave his position, it wasn't for retreat. Instead, Cpl. Hernandez charged the enemy armed only with a grenade and a rifle with a fixed bayonet.  His bravery single-handedly stopped the enemy advance and spurred his fellow soldiers to a counterattack.

According to the Medal of Honor citation, "The indomitable fighting spirit, outstanding courage and tenacious devotion to duty clearly demonstrated by Corporal Hernandez reflect the highest credit on himself, the infantry, and the United States Army."

The morning after the attack, Cpl. Hernandez was pronounced dead after being found lying among the bodies of six North Korean soldiers who had been bayoneted to death.

When a soldier saw a slight movement of Cpl. Hernandez's hand, medics began frantically trying to save his life.

A month later, Cpl. Hernandez would wake up in a South Korean hospital.  Eight weeks later, he was sent to a hospital in San Francisco where doctors replaced part of his skull.  Cpl. Hernandez couldn't talk for months following his injuries and had to relearn to walk. Part of his body remained paralyzed for the rest of his life.

Speaking to the Fayetteville Observer in 1986, Cpl. Hernandez said it was anger that drove him past the pain in Korea.

"I was just mad. It's all I could think of. I was hurt bad and getting dizzy. I knew the doctors could not repair the damage. I thought I might as well end it now," Cpl. Hernandez said. "They gave the order to withdraw, but I didn't. My gun jammed, so I stuck a bayonet in my rifle and threw several grenades from my foxhole. Then I got up and ran out to meet the enemy.

"Every time I took a step blood rolled down my face. It was hard to see," he added. "They said I killed six with my bayonet."

Later in his life, Cpl. Hernandez was a fixture at veterans events on and around Fort Bragg.

He was known to wear a cowboy hat and a beard, which covered a bayonet scar on his smiling face.

Mr. Sosa, who was the best man at Cpl. Hernandez's 1995 wedding, said the old soldier was always smiling.

Mr. Sosa said it was fitting that Cpl. Hernandez was honored during the Veterans Day Parade this year.

"He had a good time," Mr. Sosa said. "Rudy is quite a patriot. He loved it all."

George Breece, co-chairman of the parade, said the community and country had lost a great patriot.

"God bless his memory. I was honored to visit with him in his home and to see that smile on his face in this year's Veterans Day Parade," Mr. Breece said. "As we left the reviewing stand, he grabbed my arm and said, 'I will never forget today. Thank you .' At that moment, I had a lump come in my throat and I had to gather my emotions. It was like he was thanking me and saying goodbye at the same time."
Title: Navy Crosses awarded
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 19, 2014, 09:25:58 AM
Title: Sivler Star for SEAL with prosthetic leg
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 25, 2014, 09:16:07 AM
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: prentice crawford on February 22, 2014, 06:29:21 AM
There's no such thing as a perfect past, and when wrongs can be righted it's a good thing. (

Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: bigdog on March 24, 2014, 06:05:48 PM
A different type of story:

"...whenever you feel despair or emptiness setting in, remember a saying I learned in the Army — 'If you ever get to the point where it's hopeless and nothing more can be done, you've overlooked something.'"
Title: CMOH awarded
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 23, 2014, 10:15:16 PM
Title: Viet Cong general on the American way of war
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 12, 2015, 07:48:06 PM
Title: Belated CMOH
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 25, 2015, 07:46:25 AM
Title: Lt. Bonnyman
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 07, 2015, 01:05:02 PM
Welcome Home, Lt. Bonnyman
A Patriot Model of Service and Sacrifice
By Mark Alexander • October 7, 2015     
“There is a certain enthusiasm in liberty, that makes human nature rise above itself, in acts of bravery and heroism.” —Alexander Hamilton (1775)

Amid the precipitous decline of our nation's world standing — due to the failed foreign policies of the current chief executive, compounded by the desecration of our most honored warriors by his ungrateful cadres — it is my great privilege to acknowledge one of many American Patriots who honored his oath "to Support and Defend" our Constitution in the service of our country and paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

Having been associated with military intelligence communities for the last 25 years, and more recently as an advisory board member with the Medal of Honor Heritage Center, I have been deeply humbled with opportunities to meet many of the 78 living recipients of this most rare and prestigious military award, which denotes "gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of [one's] life above and beyond the call of duty."

But one recipient, whom I will know only through his honorable record of service, is Marine 2nd Lt. Alexander “Sandy” Bonnyman Jr.. Lt. Bonnyman returned home to Tennessee two weeks ago, some 72 years after he was last on his native soil.

At the onset of World War II, Bonnyman was statutorily exempt from military service because the then-30-year-old was operating a copper-mining company that produced vital material for the war effort. Despite this, Bonnyman enlisted as a private in the Marine Corps. Two years later, he set out for the Pacific aboard the Matsonia.

Bonnyman distinguished himself at Guadalcanal and in other direct enemy actions, and his exceptional leadership abilities earned him a battlefield commission as a second lieutenant in February 1943. In November of that year, he demonstrated his heroic character on Tarawa, the most strongly defended Japanese island in the Pacific, an island whose defenders claimed "it would take one million men one hundred years" to conquer.

As Executive Officer of Company F, 2d Battalion Shore Party of the 8th Marines, 2d Marine Division, Lt. Bonnyman led his men onto the Battle of Tarawa, where they took the fight to a supremely fortified Japanese enemy that had been slaughtering the Americans.

According to his Medal of Honor citation, Bonnyman was utterly determined to end that slaughter:

"Acting on his own initiative when assault troops were pinned down at the far end of Betio Pier by the overwhelming fire of Japanese shore batteries, 1st Lt. Bonnyman repeatedly defied the blasting fury of the enemy bombardment to organize and lead the besieged men over the long, open pier to the beach and then, voluntarily obtaining flame throwers and demolitions, organized his pioneer shore party into assault demolitionists and directed the blowing of several hostile installations. ... Determined to effect an opening in the enemy's strongly organized defense line the following day, he voluntarily crawled approximately 40 yards forward of our lines and placed demolitions in the entrance of a large Japanese emplacement as the initial move in his planned attack against the heavily garrisoned, bombproof installation which was stubbornly resisting despite the destruction early in the action of a large number of Japanese who had been inflicting heavy casualties on our forces and holding up our advance."

His citation continues:

"Withdrawing only to replenish his ammunition, he led his men in a renewed assault, fearlessly exposing himself to the merciless slash of hostile fire as he stormed the formidable bastion, directed the placement of demolition charges in both entrances and seized the top of the bombproof position, flushing more than 100 of the enemy who were instantly cut down, and effecting the annihilation of approximately 150 troops inside the emplacement. Assailed by additional Japanese after he had gained his objective, he made a heroic stand on the edge of the structure, defending his strategic position with indomitable determination in the face of the desperate charge and killing 3 of the enemy before he fell, mortally wounded. By his dauntless fighting spirit, unrelenting aggressiveness and forceful leadership throughout 3 days of unremitting, violent battle, 1st Lt. Bonnyman had inspired his men to heroic effort, enabling them to beat off the counterattack and break the back of hostile resistance in that sector for an immediate gain of 400 yards with no further casualties to our forces in this zone. He gallantly gave his life for his country."

More than 1,000 Marines would lose their lives on that tiny atoll during a hellish 76-hour battle, and it was this "dauntless fighting spirit, unrelenting aggressiveness and forceful leadership" that earned Lt. Bonnyman the Medal of Honor.

At the time of his death 72 years ago on 22 November, the remains of Bonnyman and many other Americans were buried in a number of battlefield cemeteries on the island. In 1947, the Army Graves Registration Service recovered most of those remains and those identified were repatriated to their hometowns across America. But Bonnyman and 40 other Marines were never found, most likely because Navy Combat Engineers inadvertently covered "Cemetery 27" when reconfiguring the island. They were declared "unrecoverable" by the Quartermaster General's Office in 1949.

Unrecoverable, that is, until July of this year, when Bonnyman's grandson, Clay Bonnyman Evans, brought him home.

Mark Noah, founder of History Flight, announced in early July "the discovery and recovery of historic Cemetery 27 on Betio Island as part of its 10-year, multi-million-dollar effort to recover hundreds of Marines lost to history, their nation and their families in 1943."

History Flight, in conjunction with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, located Cemetery 27 in 2011, and in March of this year confirmed the location and began excavation. Clay Evans assisted in that excavation, during which they recovered the remains of more than 120 Marines. His grandfather's distinctive dental records, which included some gold teeth, led to his ultimate identification.

Bonnyman's Medal of Honor action is one of very few ever captured on film, though he is rarely identified in the raw combat footage. In a video posted online, Bonnyman can be seen at minute 1:23 in the very center of the frame (without helmet cover) motioning for flamethrowers and riflemen to advance on the bunker. Also take note of the very brief footage at 3:49, where you will see one of the only instances in which Marines and Japanese troops were caught in the same frames during ground combat.
Some 16 million Americans of the Greatest Generation served in World War II, and more than 400,000 died defending Liberty. Of those 16 million, 471 were awarded the Medal of Honor.

Welcome home, Lt. Bonnyman. May God's eternal blessing be upon you, Sir, and may the spirit of your service and humbling sacrifice continue to enliven and embolden the hearts of today's American Patriots.

“Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them if we basely entail hereditary bondage on them.” —Thomas Jefferson (1775)
Title: Delta Force Hero KIA
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 25, 2015, 01:12:59 PM
Title: Tibor Rubin
Post by: G M on December 14, 2015, 01:38:42 PM

Title: Admiral say SEAL Team Six shoot down a capital crime
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 09, 2016, 11:33:56 PM
Title: I hope this was our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 18, 2016, 05:25:24 PM
Title: Reasons for poor morale
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 27, 2016, 11:17:58 AM
Title: Re: Reasons for poor morale
Post by: G M on January 27, 2016, 11:22:31 AM

I am sure it has nothing to do with a traitorous commander in chief that has pissed away all the gains that our troops bled and died for.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 27, 2016, 03:26:32 PM
AMEN!!!  :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x :x

Title: POTH: Welcome to the age of the Commando
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 30, 2016, 08:57:14 PM
Welcome to the Age of the Commando

A FEW months ago, my wife and I had dinner with a couple we didn’t know very well. It was awkward at first, but there was wine, and conversation soon followed. At one point, the wife asked about my tour in Iraq, where I served four years as a cavalry officer. I began talking about the desert, the tribal politics and the day-to-day travails of counterinsurgency. “That’s all fine,” the husband interrupted. “But tell us about the super-soldiers. The Special-Ops guys. That’s what people care about.”

He had no time for “G.I. Joe.” He wanted “American Sniper.”

He is not alone. The mythos of Special Operations has seized our nation’s popular imagination, and has proved to be the one prism through which the public will engage with America’s wars. From the box office to bookstores, the Special Ops commando — quiet and professional, stoic and square-jawed — thrives. That he works in the shadows, where missions are classified and enemy combatants come in silhouettes of night-vision green, is all for the better — details only complicate. We like our heroes sanitized, perhaps especially in murky times like these.

The age of the commando, though, is more than pop cultural fantasy emanating from Hollywood. It’s now a significant part of our military strategy.

Last month the White House announced the nomination of Gen. Joseph L. Votel to lead United States Central Command, which is responsible for military operations in 20 countries in the Middle East and Central Asia, including Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Syria and Saudi Arabia — in other words, the hotbed of our geopolitical conflicts. General Votel has been the head of the military’s Special Operations Command since 2014. His Central Command nomination represents a break in tradition; it has almost always gone to generals of more conventional backgrounds. Military analysts hailed it as a sign of the Obama administration’s trust in, and reliance on, Special Operations.

Special Operations Command, or Socom, oversees all Special Operations Forces — our Delta Force operators, Navy SEALs, Green Berets, Army Rangers, among others. Special Operations personnel deployed to approximately 139 nations in 2015 — about 70 percent of the countries on the planet. While a vast majority of those missions involve training the defense forces of partner countries, a few involve direct combat.

In December, Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter announced at a House hearing that an “expeditionary targeting force” will be sent to Iraq to conduct raids on top Islamic State targets. They’ll be joining the roughly 3,500 troops already there working as advisers and trainers. President Obama seems desperate to strike a balance between doing nothing in the region and not reneging on his “no boots on the ground” promises.

Clearly, commandos have boots, and those boots touch the ground. But White House officials have taken to what a report in this newspaper recently called “linguistic contortions” to obscure the forces’ combat roles.

As the military as a whole downsizes, Special Ops recruitment continues to rise. There are approximately 70,000 Special Ops personnel today, a number that includes soldiers, civilians, National Guard and Reservists, as well. This number is up from 45,600 in 2001 and 61,400 in 2011. Still, Adm. William H. McRaven — then the head of Socom — told Congress in 2014 that “the force has continued to fray” from the endless deployment cycles. In response, the Army alone last year put out a call for 5,000 new Special Ops candidates.

In the political sense, the policy works. The secrecy surrounding Special Ops keeps the heavy human costs of war off the front pages. But in doing so, it also keeps the nonmilitary public wholly disconnected from the armed violence carried out in our name. It enables our state of perpetual warfare, and ensures that as little as we care and understand today, we’ll care and understand even less tomorrow.

Special Operations are not a panacea. Just as SWAT teams can’t fulfill their purpose without everyday beat cops on corners, operators can’t and don’t function in a vacuum. Many a military analyst has compared our current “counterterror” approach to a Band-Aid; while effective, that effectiveness has no clear end state. And recent history suggests an overreliance on our commandos can lead to tragedy. In 1993, in Somalia, Special Operations seemed a cure-all, too. Then came the battle of Mogadishu. Same with 1980 and Operation Eagle Claw, as we desperately tried to end the Iran hostage crisis. The former led to a short-lived retreat from international intervention, the latter to the very creation of Socom.

Further, like a postmodern Praetorian Guard, our operators don’t serve at the will of the American people. Though Congress holds the purse strings for Special Operations, decisions about individual missions are not generally put before them for approval. Individual force commanders overwhelmingly make those calls. While Mr. Obama has proved cautious in authorizing their use, the next commander in chief might not be so prudent.

Clear away the smoke and romance, and Special Ops often function as highly trained kill squads sent out into the beyond in the name of country. They are the best there is at that. But this strategy ensures a recurring cycle of armed conflict, a decision of such significance that all citizens need to be weighing it and considering it, not just a select few.

My own experience with Special Ops is mixed. I didn’t have many positive encounters with them overseas. As part of the fabled surge in Iraq, my scout platoon and I patrolled a rural town north of Baghdad for 15 months on a counterinsurgency mission that often seemed to conflict with that of the operators.

IN early 2008 we were called to a farm to help pick up the pieces after a commando raid. A tribal leader claimed that two of his lieutenants had been taken by mistake by “the other Americans, the ones with helicopters.” Those other Americans, the tribal leader told me, said that the two Iraqis were brothers, and members of Al Qaeda in Iraq. Now we were left to explain to the men’s family why they were gone, why their house had been cycloned, and why a placard of Mecca had been torn from a wall, and receive the hard stares from those men’s children as we stood over a dead pet dog that had been shot during the raid.

I didn’t tell that story to our dinner companions, though. Instead I talked about a visit I made to Tacoma, Wash., in 2011, when I got to know the other side of these other Americans. I’d left the military and was now a writer, or trying to be one. A college friend and his Ranger unit were returning from Afghanistan, and I had visions of writing a tale of young men constantly at war but in between battles.

The Rangers, the Special Ops unit that Pat Tillman left his N.F.L. career in 2002 to join, is a proving ground of sorts, and attracts many younger soldiers. Though designed in part as an elite light infantry for airfield seizures, the Rangers have seen their purpose morph: More than ever, kill-or-capture raids are their raison d’être. They’re the fullbacks of the Special Ops world, all brute force and power, as memorialized in the film “Black Hawk Down”: “We get on the five-yard line,” a Ranger officer tells a dismissive Delta soldier, “you’re going to need my Rangers.”

The days in Tacoma were spent trying (and failing) to get the Rangers’ public affairs office to approve on-post access. The nights in Tacoma were mostly spent in bars with young Rangers looking to unwind from their last tour while also prepping for the next one. They described the routine: three to six months deployed, three to six months stateside, rinse and repeat. Elizabeth Samet, who teaches English at West Point, calls these service members “war commuters.” More than one observer in Tacoma, including some partners and spouses, termed it an addiction.

If that was true — and it didn’t apply to many, in my estimation — they’d have their reasons.

A number of Rangers I met joked that vampires saw more light than they did during their deployments. I came to see these young men in a way I hadn’t when I’d worn the uniform myself, because of the way they embraced the endlessness of it all. They weren’t fighting for resolution, as we’d been in Iraq, or how we thought we’d been. Peace over there wasn’t their goal. Calm back here was.

I didn’t agree with that worldview, not at all. But I still appreciated it.

On Super Bowl Sunday, my friend and I were invited to watch the game with a group of older sergeants. It seemed that most had already settled into their stateside lives, sharing diaper responsibilities with their wives, swapping war stories with one another in between.

While the adults watched the game, kids ran around with Nerf guns as big as they were. This was no Cowboys and Indians. They were playing “Rangers and Rangers.” They all wanted to be like Daddy, and none were willing to play the role of an Al Qaeda jihadist, even in pretend.

The baby-faced Ranger privates I helped sneak into bars in 2011 are hardened sergeants by now. The sergeants I met are either in charge of entire Ranger companies or have moved into the so-called black units of Socom, like Delta Force. They remain anonymous silhouettes to the country they serve, not just because their bosses at the Pentagon want it that way, but because we do, too.

The other Americans, indeed.
Title: Nathan Ross Chapman
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 18, 2016, 07:41:37 AM
Title: This Photo Of A Teary-Eyed West Point Graduate Perfectly Captures The American D
Post by: G M on May 27, 2016, 07:27:21 AM

Less and less is this country worthy of such men.
Title: Delta Force Marine awarded Navy Cross
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 15, 2016, 07:54:51 AM

Edited to add:

From Kris Paronto:

"For doing what? He didn't fire his weapon or come up to assist on the roof tops until ‪#‎Tig‬ started cussing the guys out in building C approximately 3 -4 minutes after the last mortar hit, telling them he needed help while myself, Jack and Boon remained in the fight on our roofs..... Then he proceeded to toss Ty and Glen's bodies off the roof the after the Annex had been secured by the Qaddafi loyalist militia. Maybe he did something in Building C to warrant it that I didn't see, but I don't know what that would've been unless destroying classified information now warrants the Navy Cross.

I have an idea why he received this medal.... And it's a slap in the face to those that did do a lot of heroic things for 13 hours. I don't want to get into it in detail, but I will say that when you're a CIA staffer, you're play ball and sometimes you forget what integrity and friendship are. As long as your still employed ehh TL's.......
‪#‎Truth‬ ‪#‎Tanto‬ Kris Tanto Paronto"
Title: Transgender Air , , , persons , , , perdaughters , , , offspring?
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 21, 2016, 09:21:05 AM
Title: Govt demands re-enlist bonuses back after 10 years plus interest!!!
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 22, 2016, 04:29:58 PM
Title: Sergeant dies while saving six
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 03, 2016, 09:00:13 AM
Title: Concrete
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 20, 2016, 10:12:09 PM
Title: Marine found clutching sword
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 05, 2017, 11:03:41 AM
Title: SecNav Spencer
Post by: G M on December 29, 2017, 05:06:40 PM

Nice to see who we now have as Secretary of the Navy.
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: ccp on December 30, 2017, 05:57:34 AM

Title: SAS soldier beheads with spake
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 08, 2018, 12:18:16 PM
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 17, 2018, 08:41:03 AM
Title: The story of the battle with the Wagner Group Russians in Syria
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 25, 2018, 10:10:59 AM
Title: SAS soldier hammers his point home
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 20, 2018, 12:44:39 PM
Title: Korean War: PFC Herbert Pilla'au
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 17, 2018, 08:06:30 AM
Title: Sgt Major Canley
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 18, 2018, 09:14:07 AM
Title: A Norwegian in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 21, 2018, 01:53:55 PM
Title: SFAS
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 15, 2018, 10:59:06 AM
Hat tip Rob Crowley:
Title: US Soldier takes down seven Taliban with knife
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 03, 2019, 10:18:16 AM
Title: Body armor too heavy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 27, 2019, 03:33:45 PM
Title: Audie Murphy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 27, 2019, 03:38:35 PM
second post
Title: Airborne Use of Force unit in Coast Guard
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 27, 2019, 03:51:04 PM
third post
Title: Richard Marcinko
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 21, 2019, 12:18:52 PM
Title: Jus post bellum
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 25, 2019, 08:13:05 PM
No exactly "our troops in action", but relevant to this thread in that our troops along whom these people fought and who believe our honor requires standing by these people now.
Title: SAS Dog in action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 26, 2019, 08:49:41 AM
Title: Subterraean Battlespace
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 28, 2019, 07:05:28 PM
Title: Battle of Takur Ghar
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 04, 2019, 05:04:21 PM
Title: SEAL Team Six to the rescue!
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 02, 2019, 02:26:17 PM
Title: Military Times: Less Door Kicking, More Partner Building for SOF
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 11, 2019, 10:00:15 AM
Title: Sgt Major Kasal
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 11, 2019, 10:16:44 AM
second post

In 2004, U.S. Marine 1st Sgt. Brad Kasal was engaged in a firefight with insurgents during the Second Battle of Fallujah. He was hit by seven 7.62mm rounds and more than 40 pieces of shrapnel from a fragmentation grenade. While fighting, he used his body to shield another Marine and was responsible for saving the lives of several Marines under his command.

After being taken out of the house by fellow Marines while severely wounded, he was still holding his M9 pistol and his Ka-Bar knife. He adamantly refused to lie on a litter to deny the enemy the satisfaction of seeing him in a supine position. After arriving at the field hospital, it was determined that he had lost 60% of his blood and doctors identified that he had over 100 puncture wounds. As a result of his injuries, he lost four inches of bone in his right leg and has undergone 21 surgeries to repair the injuries to his leg.

For his actions, Kasal was awarded several medals including the Navy Cross for valor. He retired in 2018 from the Marine Corps as a Sgt. Major.
Title: RTLW!
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 16, 2019, 07:42:56 AM
Title: A Warrior Class of Their Own
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 04, 2019, 07:52:32 AM
Title: Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 14, 2019, 09:20:16 AM
Title: President Trump considers pardons
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 21, 2019, 08:31:59 AM
Title: Delta Force Gary Gordon and Randall Shughart
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 27, 2019, 10:25:37 AM
Title: Awards for fighting insider attack in Afghanistan
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 02, 2019, 06:55:06 PM
Title: Stryker troops prep the 1st Filipino BCT
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 25, 2019, 03:58:20 PM
Title: Sgt Gus Reina
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 29, 2019, 06:59:35 PM
BTW, I've trained Sgt. Reina:
Title: David G. Bellavia Medal of Honor
Post by: ccp on July 30, 2019, 04:53:45 AM
David Bellavia recruited by

Army Recruiter Retired Sgt. 1st Class Gustavo Reina:
Title: Rangers lead the way!
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 14, 2019, 04:24:33 PM
Title: Our Troops in Action-- lung study
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 10, 2019, 01:24:13 AM
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action-- lung study
Post by: DougMacG on September 10, 2019, 06:18:02 AM

Very sad.  Problem with long term wars is long term exposure.  A P100 mask would effectively filter titanium dust but people don't wear them and if you do you can't talk to each other, crucial in war.

Before we address transgender issues with our troops, how about we protect their breathing whenever possible.
Title: F16 dodging Iraqi missiles
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 01, 2019, 03:15:10 PM

Title: Sgt Williams and the MOH
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 11, 2019, 11:29:54 AM

‘Not a Great Way to Start the Day’
The courage and humility of a Medal of Honor recipient.
By James Freeman
Oct. 10, 2019 4:17 pm ET
Photo: Allison Dinner/Zuma Press

On Thursday morning the White House announced that President Donald Trump will award the Medal of Honor to Army Master Sgt. Matthew O. Williams for conspicuous gallantry in Afghanistan in April of 2008. It’s a good thing the President is celebrating the remarkable service of Sgt. Williams because the courageous Green Beret clearly isn’t prone to celebrating himself.

In an Army video posted today, our hero describes the ordeal he faced that day in the Shok Valley in a tone one might use to describe the challenges of installing drywall in an unfinished basement. He describes jumping out of a helicopter on to the treacherous terrain and credibly reports that it was “not a great way to start the day.”

Things went downhill from there. According to the White House:

    In the face of rocket-propelled grenade, sniper, and machine gun fire, Sergeant Williams led an Afghan Commando element across a fast-moving, ice cold, and waist-deep river to fight its way up a terraced mountain to the besieged lead element of the assault force. Sergeant Williams then set up a base of fire that the enemy was not able to overcome. When his Team Sergeant was wounded by sniper fire, Sergeant Williams exposed himself to enemy fire to come to his aid and to move him down the sheer mountainside to the casualty collection point. Sergeant Williams then braved small arms fire and climbed back up the cliff to evacuate other injured soldiers and repair the team’s satellite radio. He again exposed himself to enemy fire as he helped move several casualties down the near vertical mountainside and as he carried and loaded casualties on to evacuation helicopters. Sergeant Williams’s actions helped save the lives of four critically wounded Soldiers and prevented the lead element of the assault force from being overrun by the enemy.

It’s hard to imagine greater heroism in battle. But don’t expect Sgt. Williams to go on and on about it. Instead we must rely on the accounts of others to fully appreciate the lives he saved on that frozen mountain. A Military Times account after he was awarded the Silver Star notes that once he had begun evacuating his bleeding comrades, he also took time out to kill bad guys who were threatening the wounded.

Sgt. Williams recalls the battle as “one of the worst predicaments” of his life, which naturally makes one wonder what else made the top 10. In May, the Journal’s Michael M. Phillips explained why it presented one of the worst predicaments of anyone’s life. A small “Special Forces team was sent on a mission to kill or capture a top leader of the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin insurgent group,” he reported. Mr. Phillips added:

    The operation felt doomed from the start; Green Berets and green Afghan commandos were supposed to land by helicopter in Shok Valley and climb 1,000 feet to the militant’s village hideout on the ridge above.

    Overhead reconnaissance imagery, however, failed to convey how steep the mountainsides were. The first few troops clawed their way to the village. Others were trapped and without cover when machine-gun bullets and rocket-propelled grenades poured in from hundreds of concealed insurgents.

Last year in North Carolina’s Fayetteville Observer, Drew Brooks made clear that there were precious few ways out of the predicament:

    There were no roads leading to the Shok Valley, where the village that was the target of the operation was literally built like a fortress into a cliffside, with buildings stacked upon each other and no way to approach undetected.

    At the time of the mission, no coalition troops had been to the valley... the only way into the valley was by helicopters. And even then, the aircraft could not land.

Yet amazingly no American lives were lost and two Afghan commandos died in the battle, while more than 150 of the enemy were killed, according to the U.S. Army. The uncommon valor which seems to have been common among the dozen members of Operational Detachment Alpha 3336 and their roughly 100 Afghan comrades resulted in numerous medals, including a separate Medal of Honor for the unit’s medic, Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Shurer II, awarded last year.

Today’s honoree lauded Sgt. Shurer’s courage in a September, 2018 interview. The Puyallup Herald’s Allison Needles reported:

    Williams said he remembered Shurer shielding teammates from debris with his body.

    “Ron epitomizes the value of our team, Green Berets everywhere, of the US Army, and of the American population and all of those things came together in that battle,” Williams said. “I’m proud that we’re all here today in part of Ron’s efforts.”

This column fervently hopes that both men epitomize the American population but suspects the two Green Berets are in fact much better than the rest of us.

In today’s video, Sgt. Williams credits the “awesome” U.S. helicopter pilots who he says “saved the day.” Our hero adds that now that he has been awarded the Medal of Honor, he’s hoping to represent his regiment “in a positive manner.” In a world of social-media attention seekers, it’s hard not to appreciate his gift for understatement.

The President’s decision to award the Medal of Honor gives all Americans a chance to express their appreciation to Sgt. Williams for his service and his bravery.

Title: The Al Baghdadi Kill
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 27, 2019, 10:14:34 AM
Title: Re: The Al Baghdadi Kill
Post by: DougMacG on October 27, 2019, 12:57:53 PM

Very impressive!
Title: Wounded warrior dog
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 27, 2019, 04:06:15 PM
Title: CMOH winner 2008 Afghanistan
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 27, 2019, 05:10:54 PM
third post
Title: Suicide battle proven techniques and training methods
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 03, 2019, 06:37:15 PM
Title: The Bagdaddy hit
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 06, 2019, 05:58:18 PM
Title: Conan the Canine
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 25, 2019, 02:50:54 PM
Title: Rob O'Neil
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 01, 2019, 06:44:00 AM
FOX jumped in on this guy, and then regretted it:
Title: More on Eddie Gallagher
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 27, 2019, 01:35:21 PM
No comment
Title: CNN on General Milley
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 13, 2020, 04:39:34 PM
Title: The Sniper
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 16, 2020, 09:27:13 AM
Title: DEV GRU (SEAL Team Six)
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 20, 2020, 06:41:08 AM
Title: America's Secret Mig Squadron
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 30, 2020, 08:00:06 AM
Title: President Trump vs. Navy Brass
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 02, 2020, 07:02:58 AM
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: ccp on February 02, 2020, 07:48:11 AM
 i don't know I  agree with this

from what  I can read as a civilian
Title: Re: Our Troops in Action
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 02, 2020, 07:52:59 AM
My initial reaction is that I support what the President did here, but I have reached out to my two favorite military friends for their perspective.
Title: The Red Eagles
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 04, 2020, 01:21:34 PM
Strongly recommended by a friend in the know.
Title: Former Interpreters laud court ruling to accelerate special visa decisions
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 08, 2020, 10:28:06 AM
Title: Green Beret kills 175 in one battle
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 28, 2020, 05:49:11 PM
Title: The taking of the Hadithah Dam in Iraq
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 03, 2020, 08:16:48 AM
Title: Not GI Joe , , ,
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 03, 2020, 02:30:53 PM
Title: Our Troops in Action: Vietnam
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 12, 2020, 01:02:03 PM
Title: Soldier receive MOH from President Trump for rescuing 70 Iraqi hostages
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 12, 2020, 11:00:44 AM