Author Topic: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans  (Read 114538 times)


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Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
« Reply #100 on: August 01, 2006, 10:30:00 AM »
RAMADI, Iraq (AP) ? He was 5 when he first fired an M-16, his father holding him to brace against the recoil. At 17 he enlisted in the Marine Corps, spurred by the memory of Sept. 11.

Now, 21-year-old Galen Wilson has 20 confirmed kills in four months in Iraq ? and another 40 shots that probably killed insurgents. One afternoon the lance corporal downed a man hauling a grenade launcher 5? football fields away.

Wilson is the designated marksman in a company of Marines based in downtown Ramadi, watching over what Marines call the most dangerous neighborhood in the most dangerous city in the world.

Here, Sunni Arab insurgents are intent on toppling the local government protected by Marines.

Wilson, 5-foot-6 with a soft face, is married and has two children and speaks in a deep, steady monotone.

After two tours in Iraq, his commanders in the 3rd Battalion, 8th Regiment call him a particularly mature Marine, always collected and given to an occasional wry grin.

His composure is regularly tested. Swaths of central and southern Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad, are dominated by insurgents who regularly attack the provincial government headquarters that Marines protect.

During a large-scale attack on Easter Sunday, Wilson says, he spotted six gunmen on a rooftop about 400 yards away. In about 8 seconds he squeezed off five rounds ? hitting five gunmen in the head. The sixth man dived off a 3-story building just as Wilson got him in his sights, and counts as a probable death.

"You could tell he didn't know where it was coming from. He just wanted to get away," Wilson said. Later that day, he said, he killed another insurgent.

Wilson says his skill helps save American troops and Iraqi civilians. "It doesn't bother me. Obviously, me being a devout Catholic, it's a conflict of interest. Then again, God supported David when he killed Goliath," Wilson said. "I believe God supports what we do and I've never killed anyone who wasn't carrying a weapon."

He was raised in a desolate part of the Rocky Mountains outside Colorado Springs, "surrounded by national parks on three sides," he says. He regularly hunted before moving to Fort Lauderdale, as a teenager. His brother also serves in the military.

Guns have long been part of Wilson's life. His father was a sniper in the Navy SEALS. He remembers first firing a sniper rifle at age 6. By the time he enlisted he had already fired a .50-caliber machine gun.

"My father owned a weapons dealership, so I've been around exotic firearms all my life," said Wilson, who remembers practicing on pine cones and cans. "My dad would help me hold (an M-16), with the butt on his shoulder, and walk me through the steps of shooting."

Technically, Wilson is not a sniper ? he's an infantryman who also patrols through the span of destroyed buildings that make up downtown Ramadi. But as his unit's designated marksman, he has a sniper rifle. In the heat of day or after midnight, he spends hours on rooftop posts, peering out onto rows of abandoned houses from behind piles of sandbags and bulletproof glass cracked by gunfire.

Sometimes individual gunmen attack, other times dozens. Once Wilson shot an insurgent who was "turkey peeking" ? Marine slang for stealing glances at U.S. positions from behind a corner. Later, the distance was measured at 514 meters ? 557 yards.

"I didn't doubt myself, if I was going to hit him. Maybe if I would have I would have missed," Wilson said.

The key to accuracy is composure and experience, Wilson says. "The hardest part is looking, quickly adjusting the distance (on a scope), and then getting a steady position for a shot before he gets a shot off. For me, it's toning everything out in my head. It's like hearing classical music playing in my head."

Though Wilson firmly supports the war, he used to wonder how his actions would be received back home. "At first you definitely double-guess telling your wife, mom, and your friends that you've killed 20 people," Wilson said. "But over time you realize that if they support you ... maybe it'll make them feel that much safer at home." He acknowledges that brutal acts of war linger in the mind.

"Some people, before they're about to kill someone, they think that ? 'Hey, I'm about to kill someone.' That thought doesn't occur to me. It may sound cold, but they're just a target. Afterward, it's real. You think, 'Hey, I just killed someone,'" says Wilson.

Insurgents "have killed good Marines I've served with. That's how I sleep at night," he says. "Though I've killed over 20 people, how many lives would those 20 people have taken?"

Wilson plans to leave the Marines after his contract expires next year and is thinking of joining a SWAT Team in Florida ? possibly as a sniper.

 2006 The Associated Press.


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Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
« Reply #101 on: August 01, 2006, 04:31:33 PM »

David Bellavia is a former Army Staff Sergeant who served in the First Infantry Division for six years. His leadership recommended David for the Medal of Honor, and he has been nominated for the Distinguished Service Cross. Both awards are still under review. He has received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, the Conspicuous Service Cross (New York State?s highest combat valor award), and he was recently inducted into the New York State Veteran?s Hall of Fame. His Task Force 2-2 Infantry fought on such battlefields as Al Muqdadiyah, An Najaf, Al Fallujah, Mosul, and Baqubah. He is 30 years old.


On the night of 10 November 2004 Third Platoon, A Company, Task Force 2-2 IN near OBJ Wolf in Fallujah, Iraq, was ordered to attack to destroy six to eight Anti Iraqi Forces (AIF). 1LT Edward Iwan, the A Company Executive Officer, had identified six to eight AIF who had entered a block of twelve buildings. These AIF had engaged A55 and tanks from Team Tank with automatic weapons and rocket fire. Having a 25 mm cannon malfunction, 1LT Edward Iwan cordoned off the area and called Third Platoon to enter and clear all buildings until the AIF were killed or captured.

The first nine buildings yielded many AK47s, Rocket Propelled Grenade launchers, rockets, assorted ammunition, and flak vests. When they came to the tenth home, SSG Colin Fitts, 1st Squad Leader, led his squad of soldiers into the house, with four soldiers from SSG Bellavias 2nd Squad. SGT Hugh Hall, 1st Squad, B Team Leader and SGT Warren Misa 1st Squad, A Team Leader, established a quick foothold in the interior of the house. When SGT Misa attempted to clear the second room he encountered heavy enemy fire. Two AIF were under a stairwell, well covered behind a three-foot barrier, engaging SGT Misa and SPC Lance Ohle as they attempted to move into the room. At that point, multiple bursts of automatic and semi-automatic gunfire were exchanged from extremely close quarters. As rounds impacted near the entry point of the house, nine Third Platoon soldiers became fixed inside the house. At that moment, fire erupted from a kitchen ground floor window onto the inner cordon in th e carport of the house. At one point, gun fire was being exchanged inside and outside of the house, as a total of three dismounted squads from Third Platoon were in contact.

SSG Bellavia quickly requested a M240B machine gun and a M249 SAW to suppress the AIF under the stairs in an effort to break contact and consolidate the platoon. Rounds from the insurgent side of the wall began impacting through the poorly made plaster. Multiple soldiers were bleeding from the face from flying debris. Two soldiers had glass and metal shards in their face, one soldier had been grazed on the side of his stomach underneath his vest and at least six others were bleeding from some cut or scrape from the point blank fire they were receiving. As two soldiers answered the request for support, it became apparent that the entrance to the building was extremely dangerous from ricocheting rounds.

Rather than place his soldier at risk, SSG Bellavia moved quickly to come to the aid of the squad. He exchanged weapon systems with a M249 SAW gunner and entered the fatal funnel of the room. The enemy was crouched behind the barrier and continued to fire at the doorway of the house where SSG Bellavia was positioned. With enemy rounds impacting around him, he fired the SAW at a cyclic rate of fire, forcing the enemy to take cover and allowing the squad to break contact and move into the street to consolidate. SSG Bellavias actions undoubtedly saved the lives of that squad.

As the platoon gathered outside to get accountability of personnel, two or more AIF engaged Third Platoon from the roof. Rounds ricocheted off the ground and SSG Fitts moved his squad to an adjacent building to over watch the AIF on the roofs. SSG Bellavia grabbed an M16 rifle and headed back to the outside of the house. SSG Bellavia called for a Bradley Fighting Vehicle to come up and suppress the outside of the building. The high walls of the enemy strong point made it difficult at close proximity to get well-aimed 25mm cannon fire into the actual building. AIF again engaged Third Platoon from windows.

After the BFV suppressed the house, SSG Bellavia decided to move back inside the house to determine the effects of the BFV fire and whether the AIF still occupied the bottom floor of the house. He placed two SAW gunners and SSG Scott Lawson into the courtyard as the inner cordon. Michael Ware, a TIME magazine journalist, entered the house with SSG Bellavia.

SSG Bellavia entered the house and told SSG Lawson to stay outside until he was needed in the second room. The only two people that went into the house at first were Michael Ware and SSG Bellavia. SSG Bellavia heard AIF whispering from the other side of the wall. Mr. Ware was told to run out if anything happened inside the second room. The journalist insisted on going into the second room. SSG Bellavia got in a low crouched fighting position and quickly pie wedged the first room and fired his M16A4. The enemy immediately fired back with a belt fed RPK machine gun. SSG Bellavia quickly turned away from the fire. The AIF had fire superiority and SSG Bellavia didnt have time to get off well-aimed shots.

As SSG Bellavia moved again to get eyes on the room and determine the enemy disposition, he identified one of the AIF loading an RPG launcher. Understanding how devastating this weapon could be to his platoon, he moved quickly to eliminate the threat. SSG Bellavia told Mr. Ware to remain in the first room. As debris and smoke filled the room the insurgent with the RPG was killed first near the stairwell. A second AIF with a PKC machine gun fired as he ran for the kitchen. SSG Bellavia shot and wounded him in the back of the shoulder. He was heard screaming from outside the building. At that point an AIF yelled from upstairs. SSG Bellavia quickly realized how many insurgents were in the house. Despite the odds he continued the assault.

SSG Lawson entered the room with SSG Bellavia. He was armed with only a 9mm pistol. SSG Lawson was across the room firing into the kitchen door, and SSG Bellavia was near the doorway of the master bedroom using the stairs as his cover. The wounded AIF was firing back, this time with an AK47. The insurgent was screaming loudly as he fired. SSG Lawson fired an entire magazine toward the kitchen, when a piece of debris lodged in his right shoulder. Thinking he was shot and with only one 9mm magazine remaining, SSG Bellavia told him to leave to get medical aid and to retrieve a shotgun with buckshot and other soldiers. SSG Lawson and Mr. Ware exited the house.

SSG Bellavia realized that his back was facing a room he had not cleared. In order to secure his position he entered the master bedroom of the house. SSG Bellavia heard movement in the room and fired into the dark corners to clear them by fire. There was a closet directly in front of him with six closed doors, and multiple areas of dead space. At that point an insurgent ran down the stairs and started firing into the room. SSG Bellavia moved behind a protruding corner of the wall to acquire cover. Over the loud noise of small arms fire from across the hall, he could hear screaming from upstairs and to his immediate left. Confused and trying to locate if another insurgent was in the corner of the room, SSG Bellavia began to scan the room with his PEQ-2A. Thinking the noise originated from the closet, SSG Bellavia took a few steps to his left and began to fire into each door from left to right. Before he could finish clearing the closet the wounded AIF from the kitchen ran t oward the bedroom door and began blindly shooting at him from outside. Finding his position of cover behind the elbow of the wall, SSG Bellavia fired back. As the enemy fire came closer, he moved his position into the far opposing corner of the room. The AIF exposed his shoulders as he fired into the bedroom and SSG Bellavia fired wounding and then killing him.

He then noticed a closet door was open and he witnessed tracer fire hit the side of the room. Unsure of where the fire originated, SSG Bellavia looked for a target. Suddenly the insurgent on the stairs began shooting at him again. As the wounded AIF turned and exposed his position in the doorway he was hit and fell near the stairs. He was moaning and slowly moved away from the door, mortally wounded. Simultaneously, a closet door opened and clothing flew everywhere, as an insurgent leapt out and fired wildly all over the room. In his rush out of the closet he tripped on something in the closet and the entire wardrobe fell down resting on the open doors. This actually was a benefit to SSG Bellavia as it provided more cover. When the AIF attempted to cross over the bed, he lost his balance on the mattress and was shot multiple times. The insurgent fell to the ground and with his back to the front door, fired an accurate burst directly into the closet and the wall near SSG Be llavia. SSG Bellavia crouched low to the ground, the insurgent was screaming loudly in broken English. Someone from upstairs was yelling back in Arabic. SSG Bellavia responded in Arabic in an attempt to intimidate the men into surrendering. The insurgent then picked himself up and ran out of the room and up the stairs. SSG Bellavia fired, missing the insurgent and then pursued him as he fled up the stairs. Blood was soaked all over the stairs causing SSG Bellavia to slip, nearly catching a burst of AK fire. The wounded AIF turned and shot an automatic burst from the first landing of the stairs but once again missed SSG Bellavia, who was now well behind cover.

Tracking the blood, SSG Bellavia followed the AIF into a room immediately to the left on the second story. He heard the AIF inside and tossed a fragmentary grenade into the room. The blast sent the screaming AIF onto the second story roof. The AIF began shooting his weapon in all directions, until it was empty of ammunition. Bellavia noticed the AIF was seriously wounded in the right side of his body from the blast of the grenade. The insurgent stumbled back into the room and began to dry fire his weapon. As SSG Bellavia scanned the inside of the room, it was quickly filling with thick smoke from burning foam mattresses ignited from the blast. Two AIF could be heard screaming at each other from a third story of the building. Not wanting the AIF to give away his position, SSG Bellavia quickly grabbed the wounded AIF in a choke hold to keep him quiet. SSG Bellavia met resistance as he attempted to quiet the screaming AIF. Bellavia was bit on the arm and struck in the face wi th the barrel of the wounded insurgents small AK47. A .45 caliber pistol shot off against the wall and SSG Bellavia, whose helmet was loosened when it was jarred by the barrel of the AK, began to thrash the AIF in attempts to pacify him. Exchanging blows in the struggle, SSG Bellavia fearing that the screaming insurgent was issuing instructions to his peers upstairs, opened his IBA vest and attempted to use his front sappy plate to forcibly subdue the insurgent into compliance. Hearing multiple foot steps over his position, Bellavia used his Gerber tactical blade and cut into the left side of the insurgent?s throat. Not wanting to discharge his weapon as to give away his position and in fear of the many propane tanks near the wall, SSG Bellavia bled the insurgent with applied pressure as he was spastically kicked and scratched in the melee. Two other insurgents, only feet away yelled to their comrade in Arabic, simultaneously firing their weapons. SSG Bellavia confirmed the insurgent was dead and exited the room as his eyes and the fresh scratches on his face were stinging from the smoke and heat of the growing fire.

SSG Bellavia moved to secure the two doors to his right. Suddenly an AIF dropped down from the third story roof, onto the second story roof. The AIF dropped his weapon as he fell to his knees. SSG Bellavia moved to the window and as the AIF went to grab his weapon SSG Bellavia shot in his direction multiple times, wounding him in the lower back. The AIF was prone and SSG Bellavia assumed he was dead. He moved to the door leading to the roof and found the insurgent straddling a large water tank at the edge of the roof. He shot the remainder of his ammunition into the insurgent?s legs and went back inside to grab a dead insurgent?s weapon. As he moved inside the house the insurgent fell off the roof and into the garden. Moments later, five members of Third Platoon entered and secured the downstairs of the house and yelled up to SSG Bellavia who was still on the second floor.

SSG Bellavia moved to link up with the rest of his platoon. However, before the search could begin for the fifth or sixth insurgent the platoon was ordered to move out of the area due to a close air support mission called in by an adjacent unit.

SSG Bellavia single handedly saved three squads of his Third Platoon that night, risking his own life by allowing them to break contact and reorganize. He then entered and cleared an insurgent strong point, killing four insurgents and mortally wounding another.


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Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
« Reply #102 on: August 05, 2006, 06:11:10 PM »
Defence Editor

A BRITISH sniper waging war on the Taliban is so deadly he has earned a chilling nickname ? The Man Who Never Misses.

The unerring Army sharpshooter has killed 39 rebel fighters single-handedly.

His marksmanship is so lethal that rumours have spread like wildfire through insurgents? camps, causing panic and confusion.

The sniper ? who The Sun is not naming to prevent him becoming a target himself ? is a member of elite 3 Para.

Described by sources as ?the best shot in the Army? he is responsible for over five per cent of the 700 insurgents killed by Paras since British forces returned to Afghanistan.

He is based in the wild Helmand province, where our troops launched a massive assault on the Taliban this week.

A source said yesterday: ?This sniper is truly something else ? a silent assassin.

?In the deadly terrain of southern Afghanistan, where guerilla warfare rules, he has been invaluable. The rumours are sweeping enemy camps that he is the man who never misses.?

The sniper?s actual toll is probably higher than 39 but the Taliban?s tendency to reclaim bodies makes deaths difficult to confirm.

His lethal L96A1 rifle has a range of 1,000 yards and is fitted with electronic sights and laser range-finders.

He works with a partner called a spotter, who locates the target and helps judge wind speed and distance so the bullet travels accurately.

Each day the pair risk their lives away from fellow Paras, taking up covert positions and often lying hidden for as long as ten hours at a time. Once the shot has been fired they need nerves of steel to stay concealed while Taliban rebels wielding rocket-propelled grenades and machine-guns desperately try to hunt them down.

The Ministry of Defence would not discuss the crackshot for security reasons.

But he is regarded as one of the most successful British snipers since World War Two.

Earlier this year it was revealed that the Army is creating an elite force of almost 700 snipers, with all 38 infantry battalions required to have an 18-man platoon of sharpshooters by 2008. It will be the first time formal sniper platoons will have existed since the end of the First World War in 1918.

The decision follows the success of British and US sniper teams who have killed dozens of terrorists on recent operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In 2003 Royal Marines sniper Corporal Matt Hughes killed an Iraqi gunman from 900 yards with a ?wonder shot? in which he aimed 56ft to the left and 35ft high to allow for wind.

The bullet?s trajectory was calculated by his spotter after he studied the movement of dust in the breeze. And Irish Guards Sergeant Eddie Waring lay on a roof for hours to take out three Iraqis who were laying mines in Basra.

FOUR Canadian NATO soldiers were killed and ten wounded in separate attacks in Afghanistan yesterday.
Three died when rocket-propelled grenades were fired on troops working with local forces to improve security near the city of Kandahar. The other was killed by a roadside bomb. At least 34 civilians were killed or wounded in the day of violence.,,2-2006350757,00.html


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Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
« Reply #104 on: August 09, 2006, 10:21:47 PM »

Unreported Valor
August 3, 2006; Page A6

The alleged Marine massacre at Haditha is back in the news this week. Anonymous Pentagon sources told AP that a probe supports the massacre narrative. But Marine Sargeant Frank Wuterich filed a defamation suit against Congressman John Murtha, who on May 17 described "cold blood" killings at Haditha.

Bing West, a former assistant defense secretary, reflected on Haditha in a recent piece about the war's course for the July issue of the Proceedings of the U.S. Naval Institute:

"The Iraq war is being played out against a backdrop of bitter partisan politics in the United States. Of those on the front lines, 70% get out after four years of service, with no long-term benefits. All they want is praise for their valor and service. They want to be able to say. 'I served at Fallujah, Najaf, or Mosul' and be respected for their dedication.

"Their valor is absent from this war because it is not reported. In Fallujah for instance, 100 Marine squads engaged in 200 firefights in cement rooms, using rifles, pistols, grenades and knives. By any historical comparison, this was extraordinary. In Hue City in 1968, there was one fight inside a house. In the entire history of the SWAT teams in the United States, there have not been 200 fights with automatic weapons inside rooms. Yet the courage of our soldiers and Marines in battles in Fallujah, Najaf, etc. received little press notice. Now we face the test of whether the press will place the tragedy of Haditha in perspective, or whether Haditha will unfairly become a false symbol....

"What happens if the youth of America adopt the same fractious attitudes as their political leaders? Who then will serve? In the tone of our criticisms while we are at war, we as a nation should be very careful that we do not undercut our own martial resolve. If we as a nation lose heart, who will fight for us?"


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Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
« Reply #106 on: August 22, 2006, 04:14:15 PM »

Mystery 9/11 rescuer reveals himself
Unknown Marine steps forward as one who helped save two NYPD cops

Bebeto Matthews / AP
Jason Thomas of Columbus, Ohio, during visit to New York on Thursday.
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Updated: 5:49 p.m. PT Aug 14, 2006
NEW YORK - For years, authorities wondered about the identity of a U.S. Marine who appeared at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, helped find a pair of police officers buried in the rubble, then vanished.

Even the producers of the new film chronicling the rescue, "World Trade Center," couldn't locate the mystery serviceman, who had given his name only as Sgt. Thomas.

The puzzle was finally solved when one Jason Thomas, of Columbus, Ohio, saw a TV commercial for the new movie a few weeks ago as he relaxed on his couch.

Story continues below ↓


His eyes widened as he saw two Marines with flashlights, hunting for survivors atop the smoldering ruins.

"That's us. That's me!" thought Thomas, who lived in Long Island during the attacks and now works as an officer in Ohio's Supreme Court.

Thomas, 32, hesitantly re-emerged last week to recount the role he played in the rescue of Port Authority police officers Will Jimeno and Sgt. John McLoughlin, who were entombed beneath 20 feet of debris when the twin towers collapsed.

Proof of identity
Back in New York to speak of his experience and visit family, Thomas provided the AP with photographs of himself at Ground Zero. As further proof of his identity, the movie's producer, Michael Shamberg, said Thomas and Jimeno have spoken by phone and shared details only the two of them would know.

Thomas, who had been out of the Marine Corps about a year, was dropping his daughter off at his mother's Long Island home when she told him planes had struck the towers.

He retrieved his Marine uniform from his truck, sped to Manhattan and had just parked his car when one of the towers collapsed. Thomas ran toward the center of the ash cloud.

"Someone needed help. It didn't matter who," he said. "I didn't even have a plan. But I have all this training as a Marine, and all I could think was, 'My city is in need.'"

Thomas bumped into another ex-Marine, Staff Sgt. David Karnes, and the pair decided to search for survivors.

?United States Marines!?
Carrying little more than flashlights and an infantryman's shovel, they climbed the mountain of debris, skirting dangerous crevasses and shards of red-hot metal, calling out "Is anyone down there? United States Marines!"

It was dark before they heard a response. The two crawled into a deep pit to find McLoughlin and Jimeno, injured but alive.

Jimeno would spend 13 hours in the pit before he was pulled free. Thomas stayed long enough to see him come up, but left due to exhaustion before McLoughlin, who remained pinned for another nine hours, was retrieved.

  Click for related content
Remembering the World Trade Center on film
Review: ?World Trade Center? a waiting game

Thomas said he returned to Ground Zero every day for another 2 1/2 weeks to pitch in, then walked away and tried to forget.

"I didn't want to relive what took place that day," he said.

Shamberg said he apologized to Thomas for an inaccuracy in the film: Thomas is black, but the actor cast to portray him, William Mapother, is white. Filmmakers realized the mistake only after production had begun, Shamberg said.

Thomas laughed and gently chided the filmmakers, then politely declined to discuss it further. "I don't want to shed any negativity on what they were trying to show," he said.

As for his story, Thomas said he is gradually becoming more comfortable telling it.

"It's been like therapy," he said.

? 2006 The Associated Press.


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Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
« Reply #107 on: September 01, 2006, 11:50:17 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 Old Dominion University 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 Camp Victory 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."


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Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
« Reply #108 on: September 11, 2006, 01:49:36 PM »
Woof All:

A Howl of Respect to our troops who fight religious fascism so that all of us -- Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and Pagans -- are free to speak, free to pray, and free to choose -- rights to which we are all endowed by our Creator.

The Adventure continues!
Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny


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Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
« Reply #109 on: September 11, 2006, 03:01:04 PM »
i dont have a a story of bravery or unquestionable heroism.
just 2 words from the bottom of my heart....thank u.
god bless and watch over every man and woman who wears the uniform of our country.


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Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
« Reply #110 on: September 14, 2006, 03:18:18 PM »
 SEALs Receive Navy Cross
Pair Died Fighting Taliban in Afghanistan

By 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




 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.


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Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
« Reply #111 on: October 07, 2006, 06:38:45 AM »
EL CAJON, Calif. ? Sgt. Cameron Murad wanders the strip malls and parking lots of this Iraqi immigrant enclave in the arid foothills beyond San Diego. Wherever he goes, a hush seems to follow.

(This is the second article in an occasional series looking at the experiences of Muslims and the United States military. The final article will deal with one woman?s efforts to enlist and serve. )

 Jim Wilson/The New York Times


Sgt. Cameron Murad leaves the Kurdish Human Rights Watch offices, where he saw fliers offering six-figure salaries for civilian linguists. He stands by the entrance of a Middle Eastern grocery in khakis and a baseball cap, trying to blend in. He smiles gently. He offers the occasional Arabic greeting. Quietly, he searches the aisles for a version of himself: an Iraqi expatriate with greater ambition than prospects, a Muslim immigrant willing to fight an American war.

There are countless hard jobs for American soldiers supporting the occupation of Iraq. Few seem more impossible than the one assigned to Sergeant Murad. As the conflict grows increasingly violent and unpopular, the sergeant must persuade native Arabic speakers to enlist and serve with front-line troops.

?I feel like a nomad in the middle of the desert, looking for green pastures,? said Sergeant Murad, 34, who is from the Kurdish region of Iraq.

Linguists have emerged as critical figures in the occupation. They interpret for commanders in meetings with mayors and sheiks. They translate during the interrogation of Iraqi prisoners. They shadow troops on risky missions. In the pressing search for Arabic speakers, the military has turned to Middle Eastern immigrants in the United States. Sergeant Murad is a rising star in this effort. He has recruited 10 men to the program in little more than a year, a record unrivaled in the Army National Guard.

Still, he is an unlikely foot soldier in the campaign. His own evolution ? from a teenage immigrant who landed in North Dakota after the first gulf war to a spit-and-polish sergeant ? has been marked with private suffering. In boot camp, he was called a ?raghead.? Comrades have questioned his patriotism. Last year a staff sergeant greeted him by calling out, ?Here comes the Taliban!?  He remembers a day in 2002 when the comedian Drew Carey visited a base in Saudi Arabia where he was working. During a skit, Sergeant Murad recalled, Mr. Carey dropped to the ground to mimic the Muslim prayer. As the troops roared with laughter, Sergeant Murad walked out.

?I thought about my mom when she prays, how humble she is,? he said.

Yet, day after day, Sergeant Murad sets out to sell other immigrants on the life he has lived. He believes that Muslims need the military more than ever, he said: At a time when many feel alienated, it offers them a path to assimilation, a way to become undeniably American.

It has proved, for him and others, the ultimate rite of passage.

?It?s almost like Superman wearing his cape,? said Gunnery Sgt. Jamal Baadani, 42, an Egyptian immigrant with the United States Marine Corps. ?I?ve got my uniform on, and you can?t take that away from me because I?ve earned it.?

Sergeant Murad has earned it, but with a price. He has changed his name. He has drifted from Islam. He often finds himself at odds with the immigrants he is trying to enlist. To many of them, he is a mystery. He sees himself as a man of unavoidable contradictions: an American patriot and a loyal Kurd; a champion of the military to outsiders, a survivor within its ranks.

Feeling Like an Outcast

The sergeant is six feet tall, but often stands shrunken, his hands politely clasped. He has a long, distinguished nose and wears glasses that darken in the sun but never fully fade, lending him a distant aura.

He plies the streets of El Cajon in a rumbling, black Toyota Tacoma pickup. In the back, he carries stacks of fliers advertising what the Army calls the ?09-Lima? program.

Through the program, speakers of Arabic, Farsi, Dari, Pashto and Kurdish are sent to boot camp like other soldiers. They later receive specialized training as linguists, and a majority are deployed to Iraq.

Of the thousands of interpreters working for the military in Iraq, most are civilians under contract, some of whom earn as much as $170,000 a year. But military commanders prefer uniformed linguists because they cannot refuse combat missions and are subjected to more thorough security checks.

They are offered a fraction of what many civilian linguists earn, with salaries starting at roughly $28,000, including allowances. The program?s perks, such as expedited citizenship, a starting bonus and medical coverage, are a major draw, military officials said.

Since the Army created the program in 2003, more than 800 people have signed up. But nearly 40 percent of them have either dropped out or failed language tests or boot camp. Enlistment in the program has improved with the help of civilian Arabic speakers contracted by the Army to recruit.

 In California, the Army National Guard is trying the same approach, but with troops. Capt. Hatem Abdine assembled a team of soldiers of mostly Middle Eastern descent to help recruit full time, and brought Sergeant Murad on board last year.
In April, the sergeant arrived in El Cajon. Before his first week was up, he felt like an outcast.

Stacks of fliers and business cards that he had left in grocery stores had vanished. Cashiers who welcomed him on his first visits were suddenly too busy to talk. One manager fled the store. The owner of another shop turned his back and flipped kebobs over a high-licking flame.

?They?re so agitated when I approach them,? Sergeant Murad said. ?Is it because I?m ugly? I don?t think I?m that ugly.?

Nestled in a parched valley, El Cajon drew its first Iraqi settlers half a century ago because of the resemblance it bore to their homeland. The population boomed in the 1990?s when thousands of refugees ? primarily Kurds and Shiites ? joined what had long been the domain of whites and Hispanics.

Sergeant Murad makes his rounds with a truck full of Army promotional items, including a box of T-shirts that state, in Arabic, ?If you can read this? ? and then in English ? ?the National Guard needs you.? He cannot bring himself to wear one.

?To put on that shirt and keep a face free of blush ? it?s just an impossible thing for me to do,? he said

He favors a more subdued approach. He strolls into restaurants and barber shops, as though he were just passing through. He offers a smooth, ?Assalamu alaikum,? or peace be upon you.

A conversation begins. Soon, Sergeant Murad is reminiscing about his hometown, Kirkuk. Then, almost as an afterthought, he mentions his job. ?Call if you know anyone,? he says, offering a card. But the calls rarely come. When they do, recruitment is hard won. In the fall of 2005, Sergeant Murad signed up his first two recruits. Over the next 12 months, he found about 20 other men. Half of them changed their minds.  Most often, recruits do not follow through because of objections from a parent or spouse. Others learn of more lucrative opportunities. Store windows in El Cajon are plastered with fliers advertising the six-figure salaries offered to civilian interpreters. Some of the sergeant?s candidates are overcome by fear. A 33-year-old Egyptian man from Hemet, Calif., withdrew from the program in June after watching news from the region on Arabic television channels.

?I know what?s happening over there,? said the man, who would not give his name. ?My kids need me more than the money.?

From late 2002 to May 2006, 172 civilian contract linguists were killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, representing 2.6 percent of the roughly 6,500 linguists who worked for United States coalition forces, a Department of Defense official said. None of the 152 interpreters who have served in Iraq for the 09-Lima program have been killed. But that fact carries little weight in El Cajon, where memories of violence linger.

?They came here to live in peace and now you?re asking them to go to war,? said the owner of a bakery on Main Street who had fought against Iran with Saddam Hussein?s army. ?We are full up of the war.?

In the pursuit of trust, it does not help that Sergeant Murad is Kurdish. The Kurds, like the Shiites, are often seen to have an interest in promoting the American occupation of Iraq because of the repression they suffered under Mr. Hussein. The sergeant, who refers to the occupation as ?the liberation,? does not hide his impassioned support of the war, or the fact that he is Kurdish. Sometimes, this backfires. When he told an Iraqi woman at a Laundromat that he was Kurdish, she snapped, ?Saddam was a wonderful president.?

Page 3 of 4)

One afternoon last April, Sergeant Murad dropped by the Main Street bakery, bought a box of chocolates and left another stack of pamphlets behind. He was sure they would be tossed, but seemed not to care. He was feeling giddy.

For the first time in weeks, he had a candidate.
The Sting of 9/11

Sergeant Murad?s path to the United States military began 15 years ago, on a lush meadow in Kurdistan. American helicopters hovered overhead, dropping packets of dehydrated food to thousands of refugees, including Sergeant Murad, his three brothers and their parents.  The next day, they reached a refugee camp run by the United States military in Zakho. There, a group of marines was standing guard, hefty, tattooed and smiling. Sergeant Murad, then 18 and rail-thin, thought the men looked like warriors. Soon after, in September 1991, the family arrived in Minot, N.D., as political refugees. A year later, Sergeant Murad got his green card and enlisted in the Army.

?If a person like me isn?t obligated to serve this country, who is?? he said. ?I had to make a decision that this is my country, that this side is my side.?

He entered the military as Kamaran Taha Muhammad. When he got to boot camp at Fort Jackson, S.C., he spoke choppy English. He was, and remains, a shy man. ?If a fly looks at me, I turn red,? Sergeant Murad said. But the first time a fellow soldier insulted him, he threw a punch. He fought often enough that he was relegated to kitchen patrol. In time, Sergeant Murad made friends. When he graduated as a light-wheel mechanic, his fellow soldiers cheered. The first few years of his military life went smoothly. He was stationed at a base in Germany. After his tour of duty ended, he found work as the head civilian linguist at an Air Force base in Riyadh. 

But on Sept. 11, 2001, as Sergeant Murad watched the attacks on television in Riyadh, he felt a searing angst. The next day, he walked into the dining hall holding a tray, and stopped at a table of officers he knew.

He told them he was sorry. No one responded.

?He didn?t know where he fit in,? said Fernando Muzquiz, 42, now a retired master sergeant with the Air Force.

Sergeant Murad experienced a shift after Sept. 11, both in his relationship to Islam and to America. It was as if a fault line crept through him.

As a Muslim, he felt ashamed.

?I was crushed theologically,? he said. He pored through the Koran, looking for proof that it condemned terrorism. But from the loud speakers of mosques in Riyadh, he heard sheiks praying for the mujahedeen.  From Americans, he felt the sting of suspicion. On trips home to Minnesota, where his parents had moved, Sergeant Murad noticed the new attention he got at airports. In Atlanta, a security officer saw his last name, which was still Muhammad, and called out, ?We got one.?

Sergeant Murad wanted to prove his loyalty. He got his chance when the United States invaded Iraq.

By then, he was working in Bahrain as a civilian linguist with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. (He had lost his job in Riyadh after taking an unauthorized trip off base, which he attributed to a lapse of judgment.)  In Bahrain, he was elated to learn that he would be sent to southern Iraq on a top-secret mission with the Navy Seals. But several days into the voyage, he heard a sailor on his ship whisper, ?Cam is one of them.?  Sergeant Murad stopped working for the Navy in March, with his mission in Iraq successfully completed.  That month, he changed his name.

?In a way, it was my reaction to say, ?No, I am not the same as this criminal, this coward,? ? said Sergeant Murad, referring to Osama bin Laden. ?I am an American, I am Cam, I am a naturalized citizen.?

Kamaran became Cameron. Muhammad was dropped for another, less conspicuous family name, Murad. The middle name he chose was perhaps most surprising: Fargo. ?I always wanted a connection to North Dakota,? he said.

Even with a new name, Sergeant Murad felt ill at ease back in the United States. He has stopped going to mosques. He no longer considers himself a practicing Muslim. He has few Middle Eastern friends.

?If somebody?s name is on a list, and that person has my name or contact number, I will get harassed,? he said.

The Army, he decided, was the most comfortable place to be. In 2005, he joined the National Guard full time. He is careful to tell potential recruits about the military?s zero tolerance policy on discrimination, and urges them to file complaints should harassment occur.

Still, Sergeant Murad has never filed a complaint of his own. During several interviews, he was reluctant to talk about his negative experiences, saying that he did not want to ?whine? and that all immigrants endure hardship before they are accepted.

Last year, when an instructor at an Army base referred to Sergeant Murad as ?the Taliban,? he laughed along.
?I laughed not to cause trouble,? he said. ?I laughed because I am really getting tired of this. I laughed because I know it?s a hopeless situation. What do you do? You just have to laugh.?

?It doesn?t matter what you think of me,? he said. ?Like it or not, I?m your brother in arms.?

Closing the Deal

The new candidate?s name was Khaled. Sergeant Murad jotted down his number, passed on by the captain. The Iraqi immigrant had called after spotting a brochure about the program, the captain explained. And there was one more thing: the man was on the fence. Sergeant Murad?s job is often one of delicate persuasion. He began by talking to Khaled, who lived near El Cajon, on the phone. (To protect his identity, the military requested that his last name not be published.)  By the time they agreed to meet, Sergeant Murad felt uneasy. Not only was Khaled a Sunni; he was from Mr. Hussein?s home province. A stout man with a mustache answered the door. He seemed overweight for the rigors of boot camp, thought the sergeant, and his age ? 39 ? was just short of the cutoff. They stiffly shook hands, and then sat and sipped tea in a tidy, candle-scented apartment. A framed picture showed Khaled, his wife and three children waving from Disney World. Since arriving in the United States in 1999, Khaled had hopped from one low-wage job to another, pumping gas, stocking groceries. Now, he told Sergeant Murad, he had made up his mind. He needed the educational loans the military offered. Still, he was nervous.

?I?m expecting a shock,? said Khaled. ?I?ve been hearing good things, bad things.?

As he does with all recruits, Sergeant Murad warned Khaled that he might be hazed at boot camp, and distrusted by other soldiers. But over time, the sergeant promised, he would make friends.

The two men sat talking until the afternoon turned to dusk. The sergeant gave Khaled tips on how to lose weight, and promised to help prepare him for the English tests. Before parting, they embraced. As Sergeant Murad drove off, he smiled and shook his head. ?This is an Arab from the Sunni Triangle trusting a Kurd with his life,? he said.

Khaled entered boot camp in July and is now in advanced training.

Often, finding recruits is only the beginning of Sergeant Murad?s job. He spends time with their families after they have joined up, reassuring mothers that their sons will eat properly, and helping wives fill out insurance forms. Last April, Sergeant Murad drove to a boxy stucco house to visit the pregnant wife of a 22-year-old Shiite recruit. The woman was worried about her husband?s safety in Iraq.

?The fact that he?s an Iraqi ? it?s unfathomable to these nationals that he would be with the United States military,? she said in Arabic, perched on a couch next to her mother-in-law.

?He is Muslim and in the military ? it doesn?t look right.?

The older woman frowned.

?If it were up to me, I would make you join the military because they freed you from Saddam,? she told her daughter-in-law.

Boot camp had been effective, the mother said. Her son seemed newly disciplined, more mature. There was only one thing she disliked: his limited vacation.

?Just two weeks!? she said. ?Even in the army of Saddam Hussein, this wasn?t the case.?

On a sunny afternoon in August, Sergeant Murad was back in his truck, cruising El Cajon with a fresh stack of business cards. He was learning to avoid certain shops. He waved mockingly at the kebab store as his truck rolled by, no longer concerned about who might be watching. He had come to the conclusion that first impressions counted little. Plenty of Iraqis had misjudged him. Eventually, though, they grew to like him.  It was the same with soldiers, Sergeant Murad said. He looked back on his time in boot camp as the ultimate proof that hardship can be overcome, and wary comrades, won over.

?In the end, when somebody gets to know Cam the soldier, Cam the citizen, they always take my side,? he said. ?That?s where my triumph is. The hurt goes away.?


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Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
« Reply #112 on: October 12, 2006, 02:29:54 PM »
 Subject: Michael Monsoor - Funeral Announcement

Petty Officer Monsoor died 29 September 2006 while conducting combat
operations in Ramadi, Iraq. He was a graduate of BUD/S Class 250 and was
assigned to SEAL Team THREE. Michael was an incredible athlete of quiet
demeanor and dedication. His friends say he matched the "Silent Warrior"
SEAL mentality that was his life's calling. Though he carried himself in a
calm and composed fashion, he constantly led the charge to bring the fight
to the enemy. He distinguished himself as one of the bravest men on the
battlefield, remaining fearless while facing constant danger. It was
Michael's selfless actions that saved the lives of fellow SEALs.
Petty Officer Monsoor was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star (with
Combat V), Purple Heart, and Combat Action Ribbon for his heroic actions in
battle. The interment for MA2 Michael Monsoor will be held with full military
honors at 1200, Thursday 12 October 2006 at FT Rosecrans, Point Loma, San Diego,
CA. Following the burial, a memorial celebration will be hosted at 1400 at
the First Presbyterian Church, 320 Date Street San Diego, CA. Teammates
and friends are encouraged to attend. Uniform for active duty is Service Dress

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations in Michael's
name be made to the Naval Special Warfare Foundation, P.O. Box 5965,
Virginia Beach ,VA 23471.

Condolences may be sent to The Monsoor Family, 12562 Safford Street,
Garden Grove, CA 92840.
NAVY TIMES - October 11, 2006

Congress eyes higher special ops retired pay
By Rick Maze
Staff writer
Congress is laying the groundwork for possible new incentives for special
operations forces personnel that could include a big boost in retired pay.
As part of the 2007 defense authorization bill, Congress has ordered a
Pentagon report about what it could take to improve retention of military
personnel who have special operations forces designations. The report, due
next August, was included at the urging of Rep. Robin Hayes, R-N.C., who
has been pushing for hazardous and danger pays to be counted toward retired
pay for career special forces members. Hayes represents a congressional
district that includes Fort Bragg.

The defense bill was sent to the White House on Oct 5, and is expected to
be signed by President Bush by Oct. 15. Hayes believes that the expense of
increasing retired pay, which could rise by 10 percent or more, would be
more than offset by reducing the cost of training replacements for people
who leave the military.

To help prove his case, Congress is asking for information about how much
has been spent on the training of special forces personnel and the four-,
eight-, 12-, 16- and 20-year points of their careers.

The report also asks what percentage of special operations forces have
accumulated 48 months of hostile fire pay and what percentage have
accumulated more than 60 months, which are possible thresholds for when
incentive pays could be added to retired pay.

Although concerns are growing that career special forces people have been
lured away from the military by higher-paying private-sector jobs, defense
and service personnel officials are reticent to change the retired pay
formula for special operators when there are other military specialties -
such as medical professionals, pilots and nuclear-trained naval officers -
who also receive large bonuses and incentive pays over the course of their
military career. Those groups would also like to see that money added to
their retired pay, which currently is computed solely on basic pay.


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Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
« Reply #113 on: January 09, 2007, 04:08:02 PM »
By WILL WEISSERT, Associated Press Writer
Sat Dec 23, 1:54 PM ET

Spc. Brent Everson was just a few steps from safety.

The 22-year-old from Florence, Mont., was climbing out of a tank, near the entrance to a U.S. outpost called Sword when a sniper's 7.62-millimeter bullet hit him just above his Kevlar vest, tearing into his shoulder and through his back. He fell back into the tank — wounded but alive.

On the roof of the outpost, Army gunners returned fire. But the sniper probably already was gone.

"This guy knew what he was doing," said Staff Sgt. Jeremy Gann, who like Everson is assigned to Company C of the Army's 1st Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment. "You get some guys with rifles who wake up and just want to take shots at Americans. But they don't aim around body armor," he said, speculating that the sniper's gun had a telescopic sight.

Everson was taken by helicopter to a hospital north of Baghdad and survived. He was the fourth sniper victim since September among 40 soldiers assigned to Sword, a sandbagged mansion in south-central Ramadi. All were hit within a few yards of the outpost.

A problem since the start of the war, soldiers and senior officers say the threat from snipers has intensified in recent months. Insurgent gunmen have honed their skills and acquired better equipment, notably night-vision rifle scopes to target U.S. troops after the sun goes down.

For Marines and soldiers targeted by the gunmen, the shots chip away at their morale, one crack of a rifle at a time.

"People are just tired of this. They're frustrated," said Sgt. Benjamin Iobst, who lives at Sword. "It's like trying to find a fly in a forest."

Iobst said the problem in Anbar Province has become so serious that military experts recently visited Sword to study snipers in the area, in hopes of developing ways to counter the threat.

Lt. Gerard Dow, the highest-ranking soldier at Sword, said Americans usually move through Ramadi at night to minimize the risk. But now some gunmen use night-vision scopes so they can strike anytime.

"We know the best ones have it," he said.

During a week of interviews, soldiers at Sword spoke repeatedly about the snipers outside their gates. Subsequent discussions with Marines and commanders across Anbar revealed that the threat is widespread.

Maj. Matthew Van Wagenen, executive officer of 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment, said Saddam Hussein loyalists in exile in Syria and Jordan have funded training programs for snipers.

"You have simple gunmen getting paid to take shots, but you also have midlevel leadership who can drive all over Anbar, moving in and out of town whenever they want," Van Wagenen said.

The U.S. military leadership in Baghdad has played down the influx of foreign fighters into Iraq, but many soldiers and Marines in Anbar said they believe the best snipers from all over the Middle East travel to Iraq for the chance to drop an American with a single shot.

"We don't even have snipers that good," Iobst said.

Some of the snipers learned their basic craft when they served in Saddam's army. But there's also open concern among Americans that the training of the current Iraqi army — at U.S.-operated camps — is spreading skills that are turned against U.S. forces.

"I don't like the way they fight, but I'd do the same thing if someone was occupying my country," said Cpl. Sean J. Egger, also part of the 1st Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment.

Egger was the gunner atop a Humvee near Ramadi's defunct train station in August. The bullet whizzed past him by inches but struck his machine gun, sending shrapnel into his face.

Safety glasses spared his vision, but Egger will need surgery after he leaves Iraq to remove a half dozen pieces of shrapnel still lodged in his face.

Troops try to make themselves tougher targets for snipers by zigzagging when they walk and never standing in one place for longer than a few seconds.

But the best snipers will wait for hours, often near natural obstacles where U.S. troops might be forced to pause.

They crouch in alleys, abandoned buildings, or force their way into many homes at gunpoint, firing from holes they punch in walls or windows. They also fire from holes in cars. One gang in Ramadi had vehicle with a bumper rigged so it could be lowered for the sniper inside to squeeze off a few rounds undetected.

They shoot once and vanish, picking up their "brass," or rifle casings, and covering the holes from which they fire.

Even when they fail to kill, wounding is enough to disrupt military operations for hours, while the casualty is evacuated.

And the subsequent search for the sniper is usually an exercise in frustration, sometimes impossible to contain.

Shortly before midnight after Everson was hit, 20 Americans and six Iraqi soldiers left Sword to sweep through homes just to the east, the possible origin shot.

Much of Ramadi is without power after dark and the few remaining residents near Sword were huddled by candlelight in their living rooms when the angry soldiers broke down their doors.

"Yes, yes," they breathed with terrified voices — it was all the English they knew.

In some homes, soldiers demanded information through an interpreter without doing much damage. In others, they broke windows, overturned couches and ripped pictures off the wall as they searched. Iraqi troops casually tossed lit cigarettes onto woven carpets.

"You know when somebody comes in and shoots at us! You know who the outsiders are!" bellowed Lt. Dow. "Tell us!"

"I am a taxi driver," stammered Wabeel Haqqay, who lives with his elderly father. "I am gone all day and know nothing."

As is often the case, no one offered any information on the sniper and insisted insurgents come from other parts of the city.

But on the roof of an abandoned house, soldiers discovered a hole, cut into a wall and concealed by cinderblocks. It yielded a perfect view of Sword and was just big enough for a rifle and scope.

A line of soldiers kicked the crumbling brick wall until it gave way.

"Feels good, doesn't it?" Dow grinned.


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Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
« Reply #114 on: January 09, 2007, 06:44:51 PM »
I hope this humble civilian is not out of line relaying some enlisted humor:

The Meaning of Rank

A GENERAL: Leaps tall buildings with a single bound, is more powerful than locomotive, is faster than a speeding bullet, walks on water amid typhoons, gives policy to God.

A COLONEL: Leaps short buildings with a single bound, is more powerful than a switch engine, is just as fast as a speeding bullet, walks on water if sea is calm, talks to God.

A LT. COLONEL: Leaps short buildings with a running start and favorable winds, is almost as powerful as a switch engine, is faster than a speeding BB, walks on water in indoor swimming pool, talks to God if a DA-4187 request form is approved.

A MAJOR: Barely clears Quonset hut, loses tug-of-war with switch-engine, can fire a speeding bullet, swims well, is occasionally addressed by God.

A CAPTAIN: Makes high marks by trying to leap buildings, is run over by locomotive, can sometimes handle a gun without inflicting self injury, dog paddles, talks to animals.

A 1ST LIEUTENANT: Runs into buildings, recognizes locomotives two out of three times, is not issued ammunition, can stay afloat if properly instructed in the Mae-West, talks to walls.

A 2ND LIEUTENANT: Falls over doorstep when trying to enter buildings, says look at the Choo-Choo, wets himself, plays in mud puddles, mumbles to himself.

A SERGEANT MAJOR, FIRST SERGEANT OR A SERGEANT FIRST CLASS: Lifts tall buildings and walks under them, kicks locomotives off the tracks, catches speeding bullets in his teeth and eats them, freezes water with a single glance, HE IS GOD.


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« Reply #116 on: February 22, 2007, 11:36:56 PM »
The following is a case of open mouth, insert foot:
Luke AFB Fly Over

A certain lieutenant colonel at Luke AFB deserves a big pat on the back.

Apparently, an individual who lives somewhere near Luke AFB wrote the local paper complaining about a group of F-16s that disturbed his/her day at the mall.   When that individual read the response from a Luke AFB officer, it must have stung quite a bit.

The complaint:

"Question of the day for Luke Air Force Base: Whom do we thank for the morning air show?   Last Wednesday, at precisely 9:11 a.m., a tight
formation of four F-16 jets made a low pass over Arrowhead Mall,
continuing west over Bell Road at approximately 500 feet.   Imagine our
good fortune!   Do the Tom Cruise-wannabes feel we need this wake-up call, or were they trying to impress the cashiers at Mervyns'
early-bird special?   Any response would be appreciated."

The response:

Regarding "A wake-up call from Luke's jets" (Letters, Thursday): On
June 15, at precisely 9:12 a.m., a perfectly timed four-ship flyby of F-16s from the 63rd Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base flew over the grave of Capt. Jeremy Fresques. Capt. Fresques was an Air Force officer who was previously stationed at Luke Air Force Base and was killed in Iraq on May 30, Memorial Day.   At 9 a.m. on June 15, his family and friends gathered at Sunland Memorial Park in Sun City to mourn the loss of a husband, son and friend.

Based on the letter writer's recount of the flyby, and because of the
jet noise, I'm sure you didn't hear the 21-gun salute, the playing of
taps, or my words to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques as I gave them their son's flag on behalf of the President of the United States and
all those veterans and servicemen and women who understand the
sacrifices they have endured.  A four -ship flyby is a display of respect
the Air Force pays to those who give their lives in defense of freedom.
We are professional aviators and take our jobs seriously, and on June
15 what the letter writer witnessed was four officers lining up to pay
their ultimate respects.  The letter writer asks, "Whom do we thank for
the morning air show?"   The 56th Fighter Wing will call for you, and
forward your thanks to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques, and
thank them for you, for it was in their honor that my pilots flew the
most honorable formation of their lives.

Lt. Col. Scott Pleus
CO 63rd Fighter Squadron
Luke Air Force Base, Ar


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Troops salute fallen leader
« Reply #117 on: March 28, 2007, 09:56:35 AM »

Troops salute fallen leader
By Sharon Behn
March 27, 2007

 A Stryker Brigade soldier paid his respects during a memorial service in Baghdad yesterday for Staff Sgt. Darrell R. Griffin.    ( )

BAGHDAD -- First Sgt. Tito Ferrera stood up straight yesterday, looked out over his troops and started the roll call.
    He called out three names, and each answered: "Here, 1st sergeant." Then he called out the name of Staff Sgt. Darrell R. Griffin. Silence.
    He tried twice more. Still no answer.
    And then, as the soldiers of the battle-hardened Stryker Brigade stood in tears, soldiers fired a memorial salute for the once larger-than-life squad leader, killed by a bullet on the streets of western Baghdad just eight days after his 36th birthday.
    "He's one of those people you would never expect that to happen to," said Staff Sgt. Anthony Mersino five days earlier, as word drifted through the gray-covered tents of the Stryker camp that one of their own had died.
    This is where the politics stop.
    "He was just one of those soldiers, individuals, that everyone will look at -- he is bigger than this war, and one little bullet did it," said Capt. Stephen Phillips, the last person to see Sgt. Griffin alive. He held the wounded man's hand as he was rushed to the helicopter that would take him to a neurosurgeon at Balad Air Base.
    Inside the operations center in Camp Stryker, Baghdad, phone calls whipped back and forth, everyone anxiously waiting for any bit of information, any reason to stay hopeful, to not let go.
    But within hours, anguish crossed the face of the battalion senior medic Sgt. 1st Class Douglas Wallace as he walked quietly over to the battalion operations officer and handed him a yellow slip of paper. "Time of death, sir."
    Everyone in the Tactical Operations Center looked shocked. Sgt. Griffin had been a popular leader, a well-read, hard-talking man, who loved his wife, Diana, and his dog Luna.
    On March 21, Sgt. Griffin's Stryker unit was returning from an operation in Baghdad's tough Shi'ite area of Sadr City. As they approached the home stretch, there was a burst of gunfire.
    "I got a radio report that is forever marked in my mind," Capt. Phillips, 31, recalled yesterday. The platoon leader had told him simply, "I've got a casualty: gunshot wound to the head." Sgt. Griffin, who typically stood in the hatch of the powerful Stryker vehicle, had taken a bullet underneath his helmet. 

Everyone moved. Sgt. Griffin was rushed to Baghdad's top combat surgical hospital inside the heavily fortified Green Zone.
    Capt. Phillips didn't lay eyes on his wounded soldier until 15 minutes later when the Stryker group pulled into the hospital. He climbed out of his vehicle and ran the quarter-mile of dusty road to the emergency room just as they were moving Sgt. Griffin on a stretcher into the operating room.
    "I saw the wound, and I knew it was grim," Capt. Phillips said. In the meantime, plans were made to evacuate Sgt. Griffin to Balad. The transfer was done in record time, but the squad leader didn't make it.
    Capt. Phillips turned away his head and fought back the tears. He took a long drink of water and looked up. It was only hours before the memorial service, when the roll call would be taken and taps played one last time for his fallen friend.
    "This [conversation] is good," he struggled to say. "Because I can't cry in front of the men, because tomorrow we go right back into Sadr City." He paused. "I held his hand, as they moved him to the helicopter. I wrote his wife, in a letter of condolence, that I still felt life in him."
    There was not much time left to mourn. The memorial was going to start soon, and Capt. Phillips had to get his men back to their base that same night.
    "I'll deal with it on my own time, on my own terms," he said. "But right now, there is still work to be done."


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USS Jason Dunham
« Reply #118 on: March 28, 2007, 11:31:52 PM »
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Release

On the Web:
Media contact: +1 (703) 697-5131/697-5132
Public contact:
or +1 (703) 428-0711 +1


No. 335-07
March 23, 2007

Navy Names New Guided-Missile Destroyer USS Jason Dunham

The Department of Navy announced today that the Navy's newest Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer will be named the USS Jason Dunham, honoring Cpl. Jason L. Dunham, the first Marine awarded the Medal of Honor for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter, made the announcement in Dunham's hometown of Scio, N.Y. "Jason Dunham, the friendly, kind-hearted, gifted athlete who followed his star in the United States Marine Corps, went on to become one of the most courageous, heroic and admired Marines this great country has ever known," said Winter. "His name will be forever associated with DDG 109. May those who serve in her always be inspired by the heroic deeds of Jason Dunham, and may all of us strive to be worthy of his sacrifice."

Dunham was born in Scio, Nov. 10, 1981, sharing the same birthday as the U.S. Marine Corps. After high school graduation, he enlisted in the Marine Corps in July 2000 and completed recruit training 13 weeks later at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, S.C.

Following his first duty assignment with Marine Corps Security Forces, Kings Bay, Ga., Dunham transferred to the infantry and was later assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, based in Twentynine Palms, Calif. Before deploying to Iraq in spring 2004, Dunham was selected to lead a rifle squad, a position that ultimately placed him on the front line in the war against the Iraqi insurgency.

On April 14, 2004, Dunham's squad was conducting a reconnaissance mission in Karabilah, Iraq, when his battalion commander's convoy was ambushed. When Dunham's squad approached to provide fire support, an Iraqi insurgent leapt out of a vehicle and attacked Dunham.

As Dunham wrestled the insurgent to the ground, he noticed that the enemy fighter had a grenade in his hand. He immediately alerted his fellow Marines, and when the enemy dropped the live grenade, Dunham took off his Kevlar helmet, covered the grenade, and threw himself on top to smother the blast. In an ultimate selfless act of courage, in which he was mortally wounded, he saved the lives of two fellow Marines.

In November 2006 at the dedication of the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Virginia, President George W. Bush announced that the Medal of Honor would be awarded posthumously to Dunham.

During his speech, President Bush said, "As long as we have Marines like Corpoal Dunham, America will never fear for her liberty." President Bush presented Dunham's family with the Medal of Honor during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House on Jan. 11, 2007.

In the spirit of this Marine, the USS Jason Dunham will continue protecting America's liberty by providing a multi-mission maritime platform to lead the Navy into the future.

Utilizing a gas turbine propulsion system, the ship can operate independently or as part of carrier strike groups, surface action groups, amphibious ready groups, and underway replenishment groups. The ship's combat systems center on the Aegis combat system and the SPY-Ld (V) multifunction phased array radar.

With the combination of Aegis, the vertical launching system, an advanced anti-submarine warfare system, advanced anti-aircraft missiles and Tomahawk cruise missiles, the Arleigh Burke-class continues the revolution at sea.

For more information on Arleigh Burke class destroyers, visit .

For more information about the naming of DDG 109, contact the Navy Office of Information at (703) 697-5342.


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Earn Them
« Reply #119 on: April 11, 2007, 12:31:19 AM »
"Earn them" ...  A classroom without any desks..

Back in September of 2005, on the first day of school, Martha Cothren, a
Social Studies school teacher at Robinson High School in Little Rock , did
something not to be forgotten. On the first day of school, with permission
of the school superintendent, the principal and the building supervisor, she
took all of the desks out of the classroom.

The kids came into first period, they walked in, there were no desks. They
obviously looked around and said, "Ms. Cothren, where's our desk?" And she
said, "You can't have a desk until you tell me how you earn them." They
thought, "Well, maybe it's our grades." No," she said. Maybe it's our behavior.And
she told them, "No, it's not even your behavior." And so they came and went
in the first period, still no desks in the classroom. Second period, same
thing. Third period.

By early afternoon television news crews had gathered in Ms. Cothren's class
to find out about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of the
classroom. The last period of the day, Martha Cothren gathered her class.
They were at this time sitting on the floor around the sides of the room.
And she says, "Throughout the day no one has really understood how you EARN
the desks that ordinarily sit in this classroom."

She said,"Now I'm going to tell you." And then Martha Cothren went over to
the door of her classroom and opened it, and as she did 27 U.S. veterans,
wearing their uniforms, walked into that classroom, each one carrying a
school desk. They
placed those desks in rows, and then they stood along the wall. And by the
time they had finished placing those desks, those kids for the first time
....I think perhaps in their lives understood how they earned those desks.

Martha said, "You don't have to earn those desks. These guys did it for you.
They put them out there for you, but it's up to you to sit here responsibly
to learn, to be good students and good citizens, because they paid a very
dear price for you to have that desk .....and don't ever forget that."
« Last Edit: April 11, 2007, 12:40:30 AM by Crafty_Dog »


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The Consequences Continue
« Reply #120 on: April 12, 2007, 07:51:58 AM »
The consequences of Bush-Rumbo failing to increase our military when they should have done so back in 2003-4 continue:

WAR ON TERRORISM | Effective immediately, deployments are three months longer

Army extends war tours

The action affects troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, or those about to be sent there, but not Guard and Reserve units or Marines.


McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON | U.S. Army soldiers deployed to Iraq will serve at least 15 months there instead of 12, the Defense Department announced Wednesday.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the new rotation schedule, which also will affect soldiers sent to Afghanistan, would allow the Pentagon to guarantee units at least 12 months at home between war zone rotations. Without the change, five brigades would have had to return to combat after less than a year at home, he said.

On U.S. Army bases, commanders and families scrambled to determine the effect of the new deployment schedule.
About 100 soldiers from a company of the 705th Military Police Battalion at Fort Leavenworth have been deployed to Iraq since December for a 12-month tour, said post spokeswoman Janet Wray. Her office had not received official word whether these troops would be affected by the extended deployment.
The extended deployments probably will affect about 6,000 soldiers currently deployed in Iraq from Fort Riley, and an additional 3,500 soldiers will be deployed to Iraq within the next year, said Master Sgt. Cameron Porter, a Fort Riley spokesman.

The longer deployments will greatly affect military families, said Michelle Joyner, spokeswoman for the National Military Family Association, based in Alexandria, Va.
“It’s difficult once you start marking two birthdays that are missed or two anniversaries or two holidays — that makes it seem like a much longer time,” she said. “It is a long time for families to be separated, especially while they’re worried about the safety and well-being of their loved one that’s deployed.
“For military families, once the service member deploys, many of us have a mental countdown clock as to when they’re coming home and when they’ll be someplace where you know they’re safe. It becomes very difficult when you’ve adjusted to that, to recondition your thoughts knowing it’s going to be longer.”

Joyner said that extended deployments also might affect families’ practical plans that had been made for celebrating the deployed service member’s homecoming.
“This plays heavily on the children,” she said. “They don’t understand why mommy or daddy isn’t coming home” as scheduled.

Democrats charged that lengthening the time that troops would be expected to stay in Iraq is proof that the “surge” President Bush announced in January is really a long-term increase in troop strength likely to last well into next year. They also called it an acknowledgment that the Iraq war has seriously overstretched the U.S. military’s largest branch.
“The decision to extend the tours of U.S. service members by three months is an urgent warning that the administration’s Iraq policy cannot be sustained without doing terrible long-term damage to our military,” said Sen. Joseph Biden, a Delaware Democrat. “We don’t have to guess at the impact on readiness, recruitment and retention.”

The new schedule is effective immediately for all Army troops serving in or getting ready to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan. It does not affect the Marine Corps, whose members are rotated into the war zone for seven months, with six months between tours, or Army National Guard and Reserve units, whose tours will still last 12 months.

Gates said units that had already been extended would not be extended again.
Gates conceded that “our forces are stretched; there’s no question about that,” but said that it was better for the troops to have firm timetables.
Marine Gen. Pete Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the extension was part of a U.S. strategy to give Iraqi leaders more time to find a political solution to violence.

“What we are doing as a U.S. armed force with our coalition partners is buying time for the Iraqi government to provide the good governance and the economic activity that’s required,” Pace said.
Andrew Krepinevich, director for the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis, a Washington think tank, said the extension is likely to heighten debate in Congress over whether to set a timetable for U.S. troops to begin withdrawing.

Before the Iraq war, the Army’s policy called for troops to serve one year in combat and rest for at least two years before being redeployed.
That rotation schedule quickly fell to the demands of the Iraq war, which has required far more troops than administration officials originally envisioned.


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Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
« Reply #121 on: April 20, 2007, 09:30:43 AM »


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Message from Loyalonehk
« Reply #122 on: April 26, 2007, 08:26:26 PM »
I've moved Loyalonehk's post from another thread to here-- Marc

The video is about 10 mins long but worth the time.
My old Chief sent this link to me today...



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Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
« Reply #123 on: May 24, 2007, 03:55:27 PM »
Here is more about the good major. He was a very respected man. Killed just a short time ago, May 11th, Blackfive had written about him many times. A genuine warrior, he will be sorely missed. You can read the personal comments about him here.
The Fallen Lion - Godspeed Major Doug Zembiec
Posted By Blackfive
"Your son was killed in action today. Despite intense enemy machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire, your son fought like a lion. He remained in his fighting position until all his wounded comrades could be evacuated from the rooftop they were defending. It was during his courageous defense of his comrades that Aaron was hit by enemy fire.... With the exception of the Marines on Security, every man in the company attended the service. Aaron was respected and admired by every Marine in his company. His death brought tears to my eyes, tears that fell in front of my Marines. I am unashamed of that fact."
      - Douglas Zembiec, Captain, U.S. Marine Corps, writing to the mother of Aaron C. Austin, included in Operation Homecoming by Andrew Carroll

Doug Zembiec, Major in the USMC, was known at the "Unapologetic Warrior".  We featured him here as Someone You Should Know almost three years ago (must read).  In fact, he was among the few that I included when I began that index - he is very "Mattis-like" or, maybe, General Mattis is very "Zembiec-like".

Just a few months before, then Captain, Zembiec led Echo Company into Fallujah.  We caught that as part of the Showdown series about Fallujah (link here).  Zembiec was leading his unit into combat where most of his men (53) had been wounded, with some wounded two or three times and still in the fight.  He talks about his Navy Hospital Corpsmen that kept his men alive (link here).

Zembiec Family Photo - Captain Doug Zembiec, April 2004
It is with tears and a heavy heart that I inform you that Major Doug Zembiec was killed this week.  We have lost a true lion, a warrior without peer, a Marine among Marines...from his Bronze Star with Combat Distinguishing Device:

"On two occasions, Captain Zembiec coordinated the actions of the Marines from atop a tank while rocket-propelled grenades and enemy small arms fire impacted all around him. Wherever the battle raged with intensity, Zembiec could be found inspiring Marines to aggressively repel the enemy's determined assault..."

He was already wounded badly before he jumped on that tank.  And from the Comments of that long-ago post here, Marines spoke up about Doug:

I served with Capt Zembiec. I was a Scout/Sniper that was with him and Echo Company. I was awarded the Silver Star for my actions in Fallujah. I would Die for this man. I only wish people could see what this man did for his Marines. - Ethan Place

I was one of his platoon commanders at the time, and I know that he earned our respect and admiration. Our Marines couldn't imagine following a different company commander. Major Zembiec will always be an inspiration to me, no matter what I am doing. - Edward Solis

And from members of his unit:

There is no one better to go to war with - Sergeant Major William S. Skiles (Echo Company First Sergeant in 2004)

The love of his Marines and the Corps far surpasses anyone else I know. I don't think there are enough words to describe him as an individual. - Captain Darryl Ayers

He's everything you want in a leader: He'll listen to you, take care of you and back you up, but when you need it, he'll put a boot your... - Sergeant Casey Olson

He's not like some of these other officers: He leads from the front, not the rear. - Lance Corporal Jacob Atkinson

Doug is the prototypical modern infantry officer.  He's also not that much different than the officers who led the Spartans into combat... - LtCol Joseph Clearfield

Right now, the Zembiecs are mourning a heavy, heavy loss.  Doug's wife, Pam, and 1-year old daughter, Fallyn Justice, are with family members now.

I'll post more information as it comes in.  I've struggled with how much to share at this point.  I'll let you know if we can help in some small way.  One thing for certain, Doug Zembiec would want you to celebrate his life, his time with his family and his time on this Earth as a Marine.

“Day by day, fix your eyes upon the greatness of Athens, until you become filled with the love of her; and when you are impressed by the spectacle of her glory, reflect that this empire has been acquired by men who knew their duty and had the courage to do it.” - Thucydides, The Funeral Speech for Pericles

Godspeed, Major Zembiec, godspeed...


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Capt Zembiec, part two
« Reply #124 on: May 24, 2007, 03:56:34 PM »

From the LAT
The Unapologetic Warrior In Iraq, a Marine Corps Captain Is Living Out His Heart's Desire By Tony Perry.  Tony Perry is The Times' San Diego bureau chief. He last wrote for the magazine about reporting from Iraq. August 22, 2004 Anyone who prefers that their military officers follow the media-enforced ideal of being diffident, silent about their feelings, unwilling to talk about their combat experience and troubled by the violence of their chosen profession should skip this story. Marine Corps Capt. Douglas Zembiec is none of these things. Zembiec, an All-American wrestler and 1995 graduate of the Naval Academy, is the charismatic commander of Echo Company of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Regiment, 1st Marine Division. During the monthlong battle in Iraq earlier this year for the Sunni Triangle city of Fallouja, no combat unit did more fighting and bleeding than Echo Company, and during it all—from the opening assault to the final retreat ordered by the White House -— Zembiec led from the front. He took on the most dangerous missions himself, was wounded by shrapnel, repeatedly dared the enemy to attack his Marines, then wrote heartfelt letters to the families of those who were killed in combat, and won the respect of his troops and his bosses. It was the time of his life, he acknowledged later, for by his own definition Zembiec is a warrior, and a joyful one.  He is neither bellicose nor apologetic: War means killing, and killing means winning. War and killing are not only necessary on occasion, they're also noble. "From day one, I've told [my troops] that killing is not wrong if it's for a purpose, if it's to keep your nation free or to protect your buddy," he said. "One of the most noble things you can do is kill the enemy." For his Marines, Zembiec asks for respect, not sympathy, even as one-third of his 150-man company became casualties. "Marines are violent by nature -- that's what makes us different," he said. "These young Marines didn't enlist to get money to go to college. They joined the Marines to be part of a legacy."

He knows talk like that puts him outside mainstream America and scares the bejabbers out of some people. Modern America is uncomfortable with celebrating those who have gone to war and killed their nation's enemy. Maybe it's because American military hardware is thought to be so superior that any fight with an adversary is a mismatch. Then again, people who feel that way probably have not stared at the business end of a rocket-propelled grenade launched by an insurgent hopped up on hatred for America. Or maybe, like so many attitudes of the press and public toward the military, the queasiness about unabashed combat veterans is traceable to public opposition to the Vietnam War. A cynic I know says that although Americans remember Sgt. York from World War I and Audie Murphy from World War II, the only heroes most remember from Vietnam are Colin L. Powell and John McCain. One helped fellow soldiers after a helicopter crash, the other was shot down on a mission and survived a horrendous POW experience. Neither is known for killing the enemy. An essay this spring in Proceedings, a publication of the U.S. Naval Institute, suggested that the ideal of battlefield bravery has been replaced by a culture of victimhood. Navy reservist Roger Lee Crossland wrote that Americans after Vietnam seemed to prefer "safe heroes, heroes whose conduct was largely nonviolent …. "The prisoner of war and the casualty, Crossland lamented, have replaced the battlefield leader as the ultimate hero. Take your own media reality-check. Which is seen more frequently: stories about the potential for post-traumatic stress among U.S. troops or stories about troops who have successfully carried the fight to their enemy? My association with Zembiec started with his one-word answer to a question of mine. It was April 6, the second day of the siege of Fallouja by two battalions of Marines, the "two-one," and the 1st Battalion, 5th Regiment, the "one-five." A Marine patrol from two-one had been fired on as it ventured just a few yards into the Jolan neighborhood, and the Marines were quickly assembling a retaliatory assault to be led by Zembiec's Echo Company. Marines were piling into assault vehicles—windowless metal boxes on treads that can, in theory, bring Marines to the edge of the fight quickly and without casualties. At the "two-one" camp, Marines were running every which way as the assault was forming up for the mile-long drive to the spot where the patrol had been ambushed. I had never met Zembiec, but by his tone and body language, he clearly was in charge. Accommodating embedded media appeared to be on no one's to-do list. "Do you have room for me?" I shouted as Zembiec rushed past. "Always," he shouted over his shoulder. I piled into one of the assault vehicles and sat next to a Marine chewing dreadful-smelling tobacco and another talking sweetly about his sister having a baby. The ride was bumpy beyond belief; bumpy and scary as continuous gunfire from insurgents pelted the sides of our vehicle with an ominous plink-plink-plink sound. The vehicles finally rumbled to a halt in a dusty field just a few hundred yards from a row of houses where the insurgents were barricaded. The insurgents stepped up their fire from AK-47s, punctuated with rocket-propelled grenades. The Marines rushed out the rear hatch, quickly fanned out and began returning fire with M-16s as they ran directly toward the enemy. Zembiec was in the lead. "Let's go!" he yelled. "Keep it moving, keep it moving!" The battle for Fallouja had begun in earnest, and Zembiec was in the forefront, practicing the profession that's been his heart's desire since childhood. I saw Zembiec periodically over the next weeks. He was supremely quotable and candid. By nature -- and under orders from the commanding general -- Marine officers try to be helpful to the press. Zembiec went a step further. He took time even when time was short. Even when circumstances were grim -- as when a "short round" from a mortar killed two Marines and injured nine others—he was upbeat. His enthusiasm and confidence were infectious. At 31, he still retains a slight boyishness. Like many Marine officers, he has thought a great deal about his profession, its role in the world, and the nature of men in combat. He leans forward when giving answers and looks directly at his questioner. He has a rock -- solid belief in the efficacy of the American mission in Iraq. He seemed to genuinely like talking to reporters, telling them of the successes of his Marines, his plans to push the insurgents to the Euphrates River and force them to surrender or die. It was not to be. After a month in Fallouja, with the prospect of even bloodier combat to come, including civilian casualties, politicians in Baghdad and Washington called for a retreat just as the Marines seemed to be on the verge of success. Political concerns had trumped tactical ones. After Echo Company—and Fox and Golf companies—had withdrawn from frontline positions, Zembiec reflected on what had occurred. In measured tones, without boasting, he sat under a camouflage net in a dusty spot outside Fallouja and answered all questions, and invited reporters to his parents' home in New Mexico for a barbecue. As the Iraqi sun began its daily assault, and the temperature soared to 100 degrees, Zembiec drank bottled water and talked about the fight that had just passed, including what turned out to be the finale, a two-hour firefight April 26 in which his Marines and the insurgents had closed to within 30 meters of each other in a deafening, explosive exchange. Zembiec called that fight "the greatest day of my life. I never felt so alive, so exhilarated, so purposeful. There is nothing equal to combat, and there is no greater honor than to lead men into combat. Once you've dealt with life and death like that, it gives you a whole new perspective." Zembiec joined the Marine Corps to fight. He nearly quit a few years ago in hopes of becoming an FBI agent like his father, because the prospect of seeing combat seemed too remote. But he decided that being a rifle company commander was too good to pass up. Before Fallouja, his only combat experience had been in 1999, when he spent a month as platoon commander of a reconnaissance unit in Kosovo. He had been stationed in Okinawa during last year's assault on Baghdad, an experience that he found enormously frustrating. Marines in Iraq were in combat, and Zembiec was watching the war on television. A broad-shouldered 6 feet, 2 inches tall and 190 pounds, Zembiec is an imposing physical presence even among Marines known for their tough-muscled physiques. He oozes self-confidence ("confidence is a leadership trait") and at meetings with top officers, he never expressed doubts about success. When called to headquarters with other commanders for an intelligence briefing, he seemed impatient to return to his troops and always positioned himself near the door for a quick getaway once the talk was finished. "He's everything you want in a leader: He'll listen to you, take care of you and back you up, but when you need it, he'll put a boot" up your behind, said Sgt. Casey Olson. "But even when he's getting at you, he doesn't do it so you feel belittled." The image of Zembiec leading the April 6 charge had a lasting impact on his troops. Leading by example is a powerful tool. "He gets down there with his men," said Lance Cpl. Jacob Atkinson. "He's not like some of these other officers: He leads from the front, not the rear." Said Lt. Daniel Rosales: "He doesn't ask anything of you that he doesn't ask of himself." To his bosses, Zembiec had the aggressiveness and fearlessness they wanted in a commander. He was not reluctant to put himself and his troops at risk to draw out the insurgents. As Maj. Joseph Clearfield, the battalion's operations officer, said: "He goes out every day and creates menacing dilemmas for the enemy." A quote from Zembiec in a Los Angeles Times story drew a flood of e-mails from stateside military personnel. He had remarked about having a "terrific day" in Fallouja. "We just whacked two [insurgents] running down an alley with AK-47s." Navy Lt. David Ausiello e-mailed that he met Zembiec at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., where "the legend began." Ausiello was a plebe (freshman) and Zembiec a senior. "Doug was not a screamer," Ausiello said. "He was a leader, and every plebe in our company knew it. I like to think of him as a gentle giant." Zembiec set the standard at the academy for fitness and toughness, Ausiello said. He also rebelled mildly, on occasion, by slyly shouting out an oddball word while standing in formation, to the dismay of senior officers reviewing the troops. Brig. Gen. Richard Kramlich, upon learning that a reporter had met Zembiec, smiled broadly and said, "He's something, isn't he?" Kramlich taught at the academy when Zembiec was a wrestler. "Everybody's out for blood" in wrestling, Zembiec told the Albuquerque Journal, his hometown newspaper, in 1995. "You better be tough." As Echo Company suffered casualties during the battle for Fallouja, Zembiec counseled his Marines to stay focused. But he never acted as a buddy, never addressed the troops by their first names, and discouraged excessive mourning over the mounting casualty toll. "Pity gets you killed in this profession," he said. With three dead and more than 50 wounded, Echo Company had the largest number of casualties of any Marine rifle company in Iraq. To civilians, the figure may seem horrific, but Zembiec notes that in past wars, it was common for Marine rifle companies to suffer even greater casualties and continue "taking the fight to the enemy." Between firefights, he wrote condolence letters to the families of the dead Marines. He also recommended individuals for combat commendations: "I'm completely in awe of their bravery," he said. "The things I have seen them do, walking through firestorms of bullets and rocket-propelled grenades and not moving and providing cover fire for their men so they can be evacuated…. " He thinks the cliché about troops being enveloped by the "fog of war" is overstated. "It's just the opposite," he said. "You become acutely aware and attuned to your environment. You become like a wild animal. Your vision, your hearing, everything becomes clearer." He is not given to introspection, not even about the April 26 fight in which he led a mission that turned into an ambush. After two hours of fighting, one Marine was dead and 16 were wounded. "I don't second-guess myself or have doubts or regrets about that day, except that lots of Marines got busted up. Not to be cold, but that's the way with battle. It goes with going into harm's way." Only reluctantly did he order a pullback. "I would have stayed there and fought all day but I had [Marines with] injuries," including himself. He was hit in the leg with shrapnel. Born in Hawaii, Zembiec grew up in New York, Texas and New Mexico as his father's career took him to different FBI offices. In Albuquerque -- where his parents make their retirement home —- he loved to hunt deer and bobcat. Military service was a natural career path. His father's friends included men who had served with distinction, among them a Medal of Honor winner. His father, Donald, served in the Army in the 1960s. He is not surprised that his son was in the thick of the action in Iraq. "He's wanted to do this his entire life," he said. "I always thought I saw leadership in him." My own generation of baby boomers went to college in order to express their individuality. Zembiec was searching for something else at the Naval Academy. "It was a culture of hardness and mental toughness and challenge. You're there to be part of a team. It's not about you." He quickly decided to join the Marines. Navy life aboard ship seemed too far from the action. "I liked the idea of the Marine Corps being shock troops. They're combat arms; they're men on the ground." Zembiec's battalion is due back in Camp Pendleton in October. In April, he plans to marry his longtime girlfriend, a sales executive for a pharmaceutical firm, in a ceremony at the Naval Academy chapel. Thoughts of leaving the corps are now gone. His next promotion—to major—might give him greater responsibility, but it would take him away from troops in the field. He jokes about turning it down in order to stay close to the action, sounding nostalgic about the firefights of April. "There was a lot of lead in the air that day," he says of one such fight. Would you want Douglas Zembiec in charge of U.S. foreign policy? Maybe, maybe not. Would you want him on your side if you -- or your nation -- got involved in a street brawl? Without a doubt. He is, as his fellow officers say, a military hybrid of modern tactics and ancient attitudes. "Doug is the prototypical modern infantry officer," Clearfield said. "He's also not that much different than the officers who led the Spartans into combat 4,000 years ago."

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Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
« Reply #125 on: May 25, 2007, 01:48:53 PM »
I got this in my work email today from one of the upper management.


I received this from a retired Air Force Chief.  If you actually research its origin, this started in Canada (thus the color red for the Canadian flag) and was to show support for the Canadian troops serving in the Afghan war, but now it is a movement in the US to show support for our troops.  I'm wearing red to show support for our troops--I am not politically motivated, I am emotionally motivated because I see so many of our young soldiers sacrificing their lives for this country and this is my very small way of showing these soldiers that I support them...

"We need to remember everyday all of our soldiers and their families and thank God for them and their sacrifices. At the end of the day, it's
good to be an American.

RED FRIDAYS ----- Very soon, you will see a great many people wearing Red every Friday. The reason? Americans who support our troops used to
be called the 'silent majority'. We are no longer silent, and are voicing our love for God, country and home in record breaking numbers.
We are not organized, boisterous or over-bearing. We get no liberal media coverage on TV, to reflect our message or our opinions. Many
Americans, like you, me and all our friends, simply want to recognize that the vast majority of America supports our troops.

Our idea of showing solidarity and support for our troops with dignity and respect starts this Friday -and continues each and every Friday
until the troops all come home, sending a deafening message that.. Every red-blooded American who supports our men and women afar will
wear something red. By word of mouth, press, TV -- let's make the United States on every Friday a sea of red much like a homecoming
football game in the bleachers.

If every one of us who loves this country will share this with acquaintances, co-workers, friends, and family. It will not be long
before the USA is covered in RED and it will let our troops know the once 'silent' majority is on their side more than ever; certainly more
than the media lets on.

The first thing a soldier says when asked 'What can we do to make things better for you?' is...We need your support and your prayers.
Let's get the word out and lead with class and dignity, by example; and wear something red every Friday."
"You see, it's not the blood you spill that gets you what you want, it's the blood you share. Your family, your friendships, your community, these are the most valuable things a man can have." Before Dishonor - Hatebreed


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Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
« Reply #126 on: May 26, 2007, 10:14:15 AM »
Historian Reflects
On War and Valor
And a Son's Death
Andrew Bacevich Opposed
Iraq Conflict but, in Grief,
He Still Believes in Serving
May 26, 2007; Page A1 WSJ

WALPOLE, Mass. -- In late 2004, with the Iraq war raging, Andrew Bacevich's son told him that he was joining the Army.

Mr. Bacevich's son didn't fit the profile of a typical soldier. First Lt. Andrew Bacevich spent his teenage years in affluent Boston and Washington, D.C., suburbs. His father was a professor at Boston University and a prominent conservative critic of the war, writing in some of the country's largest newspapers that the pre-emptive conflict was immoral, unnecessary and almost certain to lead to defeat.
[A B]

But the father was also a retired colonel and Vietnam veteran. He had argued that it was essential that the children of America's lawmakers, professors, journalists and lawyers serve in the defense of the nation. Too often, the affluent and well-educated treat national defense as a job they can contract out to the same people who bused their tables and mowed their lawns, he wrote in his 2005 book "The New American Militarism." That made it too easy for the president to take the nation to war in the first place, and left too few people willing to hold the commander in chief accountable when things went awry, he warned.

So the elder Mr. Bacevich didn't discourage his son from becoming an Army officer. Rather, he helped him.

On May 13, Lt. Bacevich, age 27, was killed by a suicide bomber near Balad, a small Sunni town north of Baghdad.

"Should I have said to my son, 'I don't want you to join the Army'?" the father, who is 59, asks himself quietly today. It is a question that he says likely will dog him for years to come.

Mr. Bacevich, who served in Vietnam from 1970-1971, and his son shared the same square jaw and confident smile. They also shared an "ironic kinship," he says. "In the long military history of the U.S., which has featured many victories and glorious moments, my son and I managed to pick the two wars that stand out for all the wrong reasons," he says.

Mr. Bacevich grew up in Illinois and attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. His parents both served in World War II, but neither pushed him to go to West Point. "Military service seemed to be a worthy thing to do -- that was the milieu in which I grew up," he says.

He fought in Vietnam and stayed in the Army through the painful rebuilding stretch that followed, serving in tank units and earning a graduate degree from Princeton in history. He and his wife also have three daughters. After 23 years, he retired as a colonel. Mr. Bacevich, who says he registered as an independent, voted for George W. Bush in 2000 but not in 2004.

His son, Andy, who spent his early childhood on Army bases, signed up for the Army ROTC at Boston University. "I think he wanted to do what his dad had done," Mr. Bacevich says. After his second year of ROTC, Andy applied to go to Army jump school over the summer to learn to be a paratrooper. A routine Army medical screening found that he had had childhood asthma, which disqualified him from serving in the military. Mr. Bacevich took his son to Massachusetts General Hospital for a test that his son hoped would show that the effects of the disease had disappeared. Andy failed it.

He finished Boston University and went to work for his state senator, and then for Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. In 2004, the Army, which was having trouble finding soldiers to fight in Iraq, loosened its standards to allow recruits with mild asthma. Andy enlisted, went through basic training and was accepted into the Army's Officer Candidate School. Mr. Bacevich says he was "inordinately proud" of the fact that his son got his commission by rising through the enlisted ranks and Officer Candidate School. "It was the hard way," he says.

Andy was initially assigned to the field artillery branch, which fires big cannons. But he wanted to be a tank officer, as his dad had been. So Mr. Bacevich called a friend who was a serving general and asked whether it would be possible to move his son. "It happened," Mr. Bacevich says. "Andy drove off in his new black Mustang to the armor school in Fort Knox, Ky."
[Andrew Bacevich, Jr.]

In October 2006, Andy was sent to Iraq as a platoon leader responsible for the lives of 15 soldiers. Around that time, Mr. Bacevich pondered the value of life in Iraq. An Iraqi civilian killed mistakenly by U.S. forces merits a payment from the Pentagon of just $2,500 to his or her family, he wrote in the Washington Post. The family of a U.S. soldier killed in action typically receives about $400,000, he noted. "In launching a war advertised as a high-minded expression of U.S. idealism, we have wandered into a swamp of moral ambiguity," he wrote.

He never mentioned his son in his writings and asked reporters quoting him in stories not to write about his son, either. "I didn't want to burden him with my political baggage. My son had an enormous responsibility and a tremendously difficult job," he says. When his son called home from Iraq, he often sounded exhausted, Mr. Bacevich says. In February, he spent a two-week leave with his family. He seemed physically drained.

When his son was back in Iraq, Mr. Bacevich emailed him nearly every day with news about his family and Boston sports teams. "I wanted him to know that whatever the stresses he was enduring there was a normal life to which we hoped he would return," Mr. Bacevich says. At the same time, he railed in public even more loudly against the war. "The truth is that next to nothing can be done to salvage Iraq," he wrote in the Los Angeles Times on May 9. "We are spectators, witnesses, bystanders caught in a conflagration that we ourselves, in an act of monumental folly, touched off."

Then, on Mother's Day, Andy and his men stopped a suspicious van and ordered the men inside to get out. One of them fired a shot at Andy, who shot back, according to an email to Mr. Bacevich from Andy's company commander. A second man from the van began walking toward Andy and two of his soldiers. The man blew himself up, killing Andy and badly wounding a second U.S. soldier.

Today, Mr. Bacevich finds some solace in small things. His son was out in front sharing the risk with his soldiers when he died. "I would not want to make more of it than it deserves. But, yeah, my kid was doing the right thing, and it took bravery," Mr. Bacevich says.

One of Andy's soldiers recently emailed Mr. Bacevich a photo of Andy that he had taken a few hours before Andy was killed. Mr. Bacevich has studied it for clues about his son. In the picture, Andy is not smiling, but he doesn't look unhappy. "There's a confidence and a maturity that I think suggests that in a peculiar way he found satisfaction in the service he was performing," Mr. Bacevich says.

On Tuesday, Mr. Bacevich was sitting on his back porch when the Army casualty assistance officer assigned to help his family handed him a survivor's benefit check for $100,000. For a widow with children, such checks are a lifesaver. But Mr. Bacevich doesn't need the money. "I felt sick to my stomach," he says. "The inadequacy of it just strikes you."

As a historian and former soldier, he takes clear-cut lessons from the check, his son's death and the broader war. "When you use force, the unintended consequences that result are so large and the surprises so enormous that it really reaffirms the ancient wisdom to which we once adhered -- namely, to see force as something to be used only as a last resort." In the future, he says, historians will wonder how a country such as the U.S. ever came to see military force as "such a flexible, efficient, cost-effective and supposedly useful instrument."

For a father, the lessons are far less clear-cut. When he was writing against the war, which was often, he told himself he was doing the best he could to end the conflict.

Should he have told his son not to volunteer for such a war? "I believe in service to country. I believe soldiering is an honorable profession. There is no clear right and wrong here," he says. "What I tried to do was inadequate."
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Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
« Reply #127 on: October 29, 2007, 06:51:15 AM »

The message below was sent to me by a member of ICCF, Johnstuf, and I am grateful to him for doing so. Apparently kids from all over the country have sent in their artwork to say thanks to America's finest. Xerox uses the picture you select, prints YOUR note on it and sends it to our women and men overseas.

Well, I not only checked out the link but sent one off myself. It's so easy even I was able to do it. Just so you know, as one of the selections you have the option of sending your own personalized message, I did.

Prior to sending, check out this page... From The Troops. These folk's really appreciate this and, in all honesty, it is the least we can do.
Something cool that Xerox is doing

If you go to this web site, Let's Say Thanks you can pick out a thank you card and Xerox will print it and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq . You can't pick who gets it, but it will go to some member of the armed services.

How AMAZING it would be if we could get everyone we know to send one!!! This is a great site. Please send a card. It is FREE and it only takes a second.

Whether you are for or against the war, our guys and gals over there need to know we are behind them...
Hey, here's the link for AdoptaPlatoon. This is an all volunteer organization. There are many ways to help, look around the site and see what works best for you.

My family and I "adopted two Soldiers at the end of the Iraq War, thank God they both made it home OK. We sent many needed items to them as well as little luxuries. Kool-Aid, Chapstick, and sun-screen were very popular then.

BTW, boxes are free from the USPS and we tried to send a little extra as all GI's have Buddies...

I just signed up again...going the pen-pal route this time. Perhaps there's some other old guy who needs a Buddy... ;D
I have two more worthy additions so you can choose how you want to help our service personnel. These I got from MedSpec65 over at the Packing 4 Life forum.

The first is an organization that assists the families of our troops here at home; the V.F.W. Unmet Needs Program. According to their site 100% of your donation goes to the families, now that's how to run a charitable organization folks. Oh, by the way, "The Gunny", R. Lee Ermy donates his time and money to this cause.

The second one is Any Soldier. This should also read "any service member" as you can link to any of the five armed services via the site. This is a rather interesting organization started by an Army family whose son, an airborne vet and multiple deployee, would give packages his Ma and Dad sent to others in his outfit. Basically, Any Soldier works the same way. You send a package to a designated service member, who is a volunteer, and that person gives the package to another service member that receives little or NO mail. The FAQ section explains it all people.

Well there you have it, four organizations and multiple ways to assist the men, women, and their families who are doing one hell of a job for us.

Please do what you can and don't hesitate to tell your friends, co-workers, schools and churches about the most excellent organizations.

Thank You All.
Take Care and Stay Safe,

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Hasbro castrates GI Joe
« Reply #128 on: October 30, 2007, 09:11:51 PM »
VIN SUPRYNOWICZ: G.I. Joe was just a toy, wasn't he?
MORE COLUMNSHollywood now proposes that in a new live-action movie based on the G.I. Joe toy line, Joe's -- well, "G.I." -- identity needs to be replaced by membership in an "international force based in Brussels." The IGN Entertainment news site reports Paramount is considering replacing our "real American hero" with "Action Man," member of an "international operations team."

Paramount will simply turn Joe's name into an acronym.

The show biz newspaper Variety reports: "G.I. Joe is now a Brussels-based outfit that stands for Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity, an international co-ed force of operatives who use hi-tech equipment to battle Cobra, an evil organization headed by a double-crossing Scottish arms dealer."

Well, thank goodness the villain -- no need to offend anyone by making our villains Arabs, Muslims, or foreign dictators of any stripe these days, though apparently Presbyterians who talk like Scottie on "Star Trek" are still OK -- is a double-crossing arms dealer. Otherwise one might be tempted to conclude the geniuses at Paramount believe arms dealing itself is evil.


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(Just for the record, what did the quintessential American hero, Humphrey Bogart's Rick Blaine in "Casablanca," do before he opened his eponymous cafe? Yep: gun-runner.)

According to reports in Variety and the aforementioned IGN, the producers explain international marketing would simply prove too difficult for a summer, 2009 film about a heroic U.S. soldier. Thus the need to "eliminate Joe's connection to the U.S. military."

Well, who cares. G.I. Joe is just a toy, right? He was never real. Right?

On Nov. 15, 2003, an 85-year-old retired Marine Corps colonel died of congestive heart failure at his home in La Quinta, Calif., southeast of Palm Springs. He was a combat veteran of World War II. His name was Mitchell Paige.

It's hard today to envision -- or, for the dwindling few, to remember -- what the world looked like on Oct. 25, 1942 -- 65 years ago.

The U.S. Navy was not the most powerful fighting force in the Pacific. Not by a long shot. So the Navy basically dumped a few thousand lonely American Marines on the beach at Guadalcanal and high-tailed it out of there.

(You old swabbies can hold the letters. I've written elsewhere about the way Bull Halsey rolled the dice on the night of Nov. 13, 1942, violating the stern War College edict against committing capital ships in restricted waters and instead dispatching into the Slot his last two remaining fast battleships, the South Dakota and the Washington, escorted by the only four destroyers with enough fuel in their bunkers to get them there and back. By 11 p.m., with the fire control systems on the South Dakota malfunctioning, with the crews of those American destroyers cheering her on as they treaded water in an inky sea full of flaming wreckage, "At that moment Washington was the entire U.S. Pacific Fleet," writes naval historian David Lippman. "If this one ship did not stop 14 Japanese ships right then and there, America might lose the war. ..." At midnight precisely, facing those impossible odds, the battleship Washington opened up with her 16-inch guns. If you're reading this in English, you should be able to figure out how she did.)

But the Washington's one-sided battle with the Kirishima was still weeks in the future. On Oct. 25, Mitchell Paige was back on the God-forsaken malarial jungle island of Guadalcanal.

On Guadalcanal, the Marines struggled to complete an airfield that could threaten the Japanese route to Australia. Admiral Yamamoto knew how dangerous that was. Before long, relentless Japanese counterattacks had driven the supporting U.S. Navy from inshore waters. The Marines were on their own.

As Platoon Sgt. Mitchell Paige and his 33 riflemen set about carefully emplacing their four water-cooled .30-caliber Brownings on that hillside, 65 years ago this week -- manning their section of the thin khaki line that was expected to defend Henderson Field against the assault of the night of Oct. 25, 1942 -- it's unlikely anyone thought they were about to provide the definitive answer to that most desperate of questions: How many able-bodied U.S. Marines does it take to hold a hill against 2,000 armed and motivated attackers?

But by the time the night was over, "The 29th (Japanese) Infantry Regiment has lost 553 killed or missing and 479 wounded among its 2,554 men," historian Lippman reports. "The 16th (Japanese) Regiment's losses are uncounted, but the 164th's burial parties handled 975 Japanese bodies. ... The American estimate of 2,200 Japanese dead is probably too low."

You've already figured out where the Japanese focused their attack, haven't you? Among the 90 American dead and seriously wounded that night were all the men in Mitchell Paige's platoon. Every one. As the night of endless attacks wore on, Paige moved up and down his line, pulling his dead and wounded comrades back into their foxholes and firing a few bursts from each of the four Brownings in turn, convincing the Japanese forces down the hill that the positions were still manned.

The citation for Paige's Medal of Honor picks up the tale: "When the enemy broke through the line directly in front of his position, P/Sgt. Paige, commanding a machine gun section with fearless determination, continued to direct the fire of his gunners until all his men were either killed or wounded. Alone, against the deadly hail of Japanese shells, he fought with his gun and when it was destroyed, took over another, moving from gun to gun, never ceasing his withering fire."

In the end, Sgt. Paige picked up the last of the 40-pound, belt-fed Brownings and did something for which the weapon was never designed. Sgt. Paige walked down the hill toward the place where he could hear the last Japanese survivors rallying to move around his flank, the belt-fed gun cradled under his arm, firing as he went.

Coming up at dawn, battalion executive officer Major Odell M. Conoley was the first to discover how many able-bodied United States Marines it takes to hold a hill against two regiments of motivated, combat-hardened infantrymen who have never known defeat.

On a hill where the bodies were piled like cordwood, Mitchell Paige alone sat upright behind his 30-caliber Browning, waiting to see what the dawn would bring.

The hill had held, because on the hill remained the minimum number of able-bodied United States Marines necessary to hold the position.

And that's where the unstoppable wave of Japanese conquest finally crested, broke, and began to recede. On an unnamed jungle ridge on an insignificant island no one ever heard of, called Guadalcanal.

When the Hasbro Toy Co. called some years back, asking permission to put the retired colonel's face on some kid's doll, Mitchell Paige thought they must be joking.

But they weren't. That's his mug, on the little Marine they call "G.I. Joe." At least, it has been up till now.

Mitchell Paige's only condition? That G.I. Joe must always remain a United States Marine.

But don't worry. Far more important for our new movies not to offend anyone in Cairo or Karachi or Paris or Palembang.

After all, it's only a toy. It doesn't mean anything.

Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal and author of the books "Send in the Waco Killers" and "The Black Arrow."

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Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
« Reply #129 on: November 01, 2007, 07:31:32 PM »

Retired Air Force Brigadier General Paul Tibbets, who piloted the B-29 that dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan and hastened the end of World War II has died. He was 92.

Gerry Newhouse, a longtime friend of the family, said that General Tibbets passed away Thursday at his home in Columbus, Ohio. General Tibbets suffered from a variety of ailments, and Newhouse said his health had been in decline in recent months.

Tibbets requested no funeral and no headstone, fearing it would provide a protest site for his detractors, Newhouse said.

As a 30-year-old Air Force Colonel, Tibbets drew the assignment to drop the first atomic bomb on a Japanese city in August 1945, in hopes of ending the war. Barely one year earlier, he assumed command of the new, 509th Composite Group, then stationed at Wendover Field, Utah.

Tibbets was already a combat veteran when he took the reins of the 509th. He had served as a bomber squadron commander in Europe--leading the first B-17 mission over Europe in 1942--and flew combat missions in the Mediterranean Theater. Various accounts described Tibbets as the "best bomber pilot" in the Army Air Corps, and his outstanding record prompted his selection to lead the new unit.

Over the months that followed, Tibbets trained his unit for their nuclear mission, although details of the project remained highly classified. The specially-modified B-29s assigned to the 509th were built to Silverplate specifications, the first aircraft designed to carry nuclear weapons. The B-29s were assembled at a Glenn L. Martin Company plant in Omaha, Nebraska, then delivered to the group before it deployed to the Pacific.

Unlike "conventional" B-29s, the Silverplate models carried no defensive guns or extensive armor plating, and their multiple bomb bays were replaced with a single, 33-foot-long opening, designed to accomodate early nuclear weapons. Tibbets reportedly hand-picked the bombers for modification; he named his own Enola Gay, in honor of his mother.

At 2:45 a.m. (local time) on August 6, 1945, Tibbets was at the controls of the Enola Gay as it lifted off from the 509th's forward base on Tinian, in the Marianas Islands. Five-and-a-half hours later, Tibbets and his crew dropped their weapon, nicknamed "Little Boy" on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The ensuring blast and fire killed an estimated 60,000 Japanese, including military personnel, civilians and a small number of allied POWs imprisoned in the city. Thousands of other Japanese died later, from the long-term effects of radiation exposure.

But the mission acheived its objective. After a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki three days later, Japan capitulated, averting the need for a U.S.-led invasion of the enemy homeland. By some estimates, that operation would have resulted in millions of American and Japanese casualties.

While the decision to use nuclear weapons on Japan grew controversial in the years that followed, General Tibbets--to his ever-lasting credit--expressed no regrets about the mission. As he told an reporter from the Columbus Dispatch two years ago:

“I knew when I got the assignment it was going to be an emotional thing,” Tibbets told the Columbus Dispatch for a story on Aug. 6, 2005, the 60th anniversary of the bomb. “We had feelings, but we had to put them in the background. We knew it was going to kill people right and left. But my one driving interest was to do the best job I could so that we could end the killing as quickly as possible.”

He expressed similar thoughts in a 1975 interview. He described the mission as "his patriotic duty--the right thing to do."

“I’m not proud that I killed 80,000 people, but I’m proud that I was able to start with nothing, plan it and have it work as perfectly as it did,” he said in a 1975 interview.

“You’ve got to take stock and assess the situation at that time. We were at war. ... You use anything at your disposal.”

He added: “I sleep clearly every night.”
Rest in peace, General Tibbets. You will rightfully be remembered as a warrior and a patriot, a man whose willingness to tackle the most difficult of assignments brought and end to a war--and spared millions of lives in the process.

However, it is regrettable that there will be no permanent tomb or headstone to mark the final resting spot of an American hero; unfortunately, those observations about your detractors are painfully correct. Thanks to seven decades of revisionist history and villification, the burial spot of the Enola Gay's pilot would become a gathering point for the kook fringe, lesser men (and women) with no appreciation for your service, rendered in the cause of freedom.


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Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
« Reply #130 on: November 09, 2007, 10:20:59 AM »
Veterans Day Profile: Point Man, Roger Helle
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

“I’m Sgt. Helle’s brother. How is he?” asked Roger’s twin brother, Ron, also an E-5, USMC. “I’m sorry son, but your brother is going to die,” the physician responded tersely. That was July 1970, China Beach, Vietnam.

My friend Roger Helle was 17 years old when he joined the Marine Corps. The product of a broken home, he was very insecure and hoped becoming a Marine would provide him the confidence he lacked.

In February 1966, five months into his first 13-month tour in Vietnam, Roger’s unit was searching for Viet Cong around Gia Le. Roger had walked point for patrols during the previous four months and had been shot once, so his intuition about the enemy’s presence was acutely tuned.

On a night mission to a small fishing village reportedly occupied by VC, Roger and 12 other Marines were moving down a trail lined with dense bamboo. His squad leader had taken Roger’s position as point man, and Roger’s instinct told him the squad was moving too fast along the trail. So urgent was his sense that something was wrong that he wanted to call out, but did not want to betray their position.

In an instant, gunfire erupted and a series of “daisy-chain” explosions propelled Roger and two other Marines over the vegetation into an adjacent rice paddy. As he slowly recovered from the shock of the concussion generated by the explosions, he could see green tracers from VC weapons cutting up and down the trail.

The ambush was over as quickly as it began, and more than 60 VC emerged like ghosts from the bamboo, killed the wounded Marines on the trail, collected their weapons and disappeared.

As Roger regained his senses, he pulled the other two Marines in the water to the edge of the rice paddy. He then pawed around in the muddy water for his M-14, and crawled back onto the trail to check for survivors among the ten remaining Marines—among his friends. The squad leader had taken 29 rounds. There were no survivors.

Roger recovered a radio under one of the dead, crawled back to the water’s edge with the wounded Marines, and called base camp with their coordinates. Within a half hour, Chinooks arrived with quick reaction squads to recover the injured and dead.

The two Marines Roger pulled from the water were evacuated to Da Nang, but died en route.

Roger was the sole survivor of that horrific ambush. There was no consolation for the “survivor’s guilt” he experienced—not the anger, not the nightmares—not for years.

In July 1970, two tours, two Purple Hearts and numerous other decorations later, Roger Helle, now a sergeant and platoon leader for a “killer team,” was walking point on a mission back to a village to destroy earthen tunnels used by the VC for escape and evasion.

Normally, a platoon leader would not take the point position in front of his men; if he was wounded or killed, it could threaten the continuity and survivability of the whole platoon. However, suffering four years of guilt after relinquishing his position on point and losing his entire squad, Roger was not about to ask one of his guys to walk point for what he considered a “mop-up” mission.

Their packs overloaded with C-4 explosives to destroy the VC tunnels, Roger’s platoon took frequent breaks. After one stop, he crossed a field about 50 yards ahead of his platoon to check for booby traps. While scanning the area, he sensed a glint of something in his peripheral vision, coming through the air. A grenade bounced off his leg—and a second later, exploded under his feet, violently impelling him backward and then to the ground.

Roger recounts that the detonation “felt like thousands of volts of electricity surging through my body.” After hitting the ground, he says, “My body would not respond to what my mind wanted it to do.”

Amazingly, he managed to stagger to his feet and wipe enough blood from his eyes to see an enemy soldier, about ten yards in front of him, point his weapon and fire. As the rifle recoiled, two rounds hit Roger, spinning him around and knocking him face down to the ground. As he rolled back toward the light of the sky, he could make out the silhouette of that NVA soldier standing above him. Their eyes met as the enemy thrust his bayonet into Roger’s abdomen.

Just a few seconds, and an eternity, had elapsed.

Roger’s platoon had instinctively hit the ground after the grenade detonated, but six of his men rose up in time to see the NVA soldier over their platoon leader. They fired on the enemy as he withdrew his bayonet, and he dropped a few feet from Roger.

Roger was riddled with shrapnel from the grenade, hit with two rifle rounds and bayoneted. Worse yet, the shrapnel had detonated one of the phosphorus grenades in his demolition bag. His clothing and body were on fire. He managed to get out of his burning flack jacket, but the pain racked his body.

At that moment, Roger says, “I was tired of the killing, tired of losing friends, tired of trying to make sense of the war and my life. I just wanted to die and have all this suffering be over.”

Roger was evacuated to the 95th EVAC Hospital, China Beach, where he underwent numerous surgeries. After six days at death’s door, he regained consciousness long enough to recognize a familiar voice on the ward—that of his brother Ron, asking a physician if Roger was there.

After telling Ron that his brother was going to die, a nurse led him to Roger’s bedside. Ron stood over Roger for a minute, trying to recognize what was left of his brother, and then started to sob, falling to the end of Roger’s bed in grief.

“Your brother is going to die.” The finality of those words were sinking in, as Ron wept, compelling Roger to pray, “God, if there really is a God... if you let me live, I’ll do anything you want.” With that, he fell unconscious again.

In the days that followed, Ron (who also had three Purple Hearts and later received the Navy Cross for jumping on a grenade to protect other Marines) never left the side of his brother. Roger saw many injured men brought into that ward and could only watch as life drained from their bodies. Miraculously, Roger’s condition improved. The road to recovery was long and hard, but 31 operations later, including four to reconstruct his face, recover he did.

Along the way, Roger met his Savior and fulfilled his promise to God—and he has served in full-time ministry since 1978. Indeed, in a war with no victors and replete with death, Roger found victory over death through Christ. He also met and married his wife and ministry partner, Shirley, and they now have two children and three grandchildren.

Today, some 37 years later, Roger appears as robust as a Patriot’s linebacker. He leads a challenging but successful discipleship to young people in the grip of life-controlling addictions. “Life is a gift from God,” says Roger. “What we do with it can be our gift to God.”

Roger’s ministry to others also includes 16 trips back to Vietnam since 1989, where he and “Vets with a Mission” have helped to build orphanages, clinics and hospitals for rural peasants ignored by their Communist government and they have supplied them with millions of dollars of donated medical supplies.

This Christian Soldier understands well the counsel of Ecclesiastes 3:1-3—“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal.” His third book, “A time to kill and a time to heal,” takes its inspiration from that passage, as does Roger.

Regarding Vietnam and the current war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Roger is characteristically candid: “I have never regretted a minute of my service in Vietnam. That’s because I did not see the war the way the media portrayed it. I saw it through the eyes of the people that I lived with, the people of Vietnam who wanted to live free in peace.”

He continues, “As The Patriot noted years ago in its analysis of the media’s Vietnam war coverage, ‘General Vo Nguyen Giap, Vietnam’s most decorated military leader, wrote in retrospect that if not for the disunity created by John Kerry, Jane Fonda and their ilk, and promoted by the U.S. media, Hanoi would have ultimately surrendered’.”

Roger adds, “Vietnam will not be a failure if we learn the lessons of that conflict. Politicians cannot run the war—the generals must lead and lead well. The majority of people in Iraq and Afghanistan want peace and freedom, but the media’s portrayal of that critical conflict is just as prejudiced as it was during Vietnam—maybe more so. The Left, with the media’s help, may force the same scenario in Iraq that they forced in Vietnam, with the same consequences for the entire region. The vast majority of our Armed Forces in the region both understand and support our mission.”

To Roger, and to all fellow Patriots who have served our nation with courage and great sacrifice, we offer our heartfelt gratitude. You have honored your oath to “support and defend... so help me God,” as do those on the front line in the war with Jihadistan today. You have kept the flame of liberty, lit by our Founders, burning bright for future generations.

In 1918, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month marked the cessation of World War I hostilities. This date is now designated in honor of our veterans, and a focal point for national observance is the placing of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.

Today, nearly 24 million (eight percent) of our countrymen are veterans. Of those, 33 percent served in Vietnam, 18 percent in the Gulf War, 14 percent in WWII and 13 percent in Korea. About three percent served in Iraq and Afghanistan and other counter-terrorism theaters. More than 25 percent of those veterans suffer some disability.

Please pause with us at 1100 EST this Sunday to pray for all our veterans.


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amazing story
« Reply #131 on: November 09, 2007, 07:50:59 PM »
The Nobel Peace Prize should go to the American soldiers not to some guy who wrote a book.

Amazing when you read stories like this and yet Hollywood chooses to dishonor our troops with their political agenda movies.  Like DePalma who chooses to ignore a story like this one and instead demeans all American soldiers with a movie based on the rape of an Iraqi girl by American troops.  Well we can send those bastards in Hollywood a message:

And these leftist loons have the nerve to be offended when the rest of us question their patriotism.


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Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
« Reply #132 on: November 11, 2007, 07:38:14 AM »

Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye. Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg - or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul's ally forged in the refinery of adversity.

Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem. You can't tell a vet just by looking. What is a vet?

He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn't run out of fuel. He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.

She - or he - is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.

He is the POW who went away one person and came back another - or didn't come back AT ALL.

He is the Quantico drill instructor that has never seen combat - but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang members into Marines, and teaching them to watch each other's backs.

He is the parade - riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.

He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by.

He is the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb Of The Unknowns, whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor dies unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean's sunless deep.

He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket - palsied now and aggravatingly slow - who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.

He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being - a person who offered some of his life's most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.

He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.

So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean over and say Thank You. That's all most people need, and in most cases it will mean more than any medals they could have been awarded or were awarded.

Two little words that mean a lot, "THANK YOU."

Warner Anderson MD
Chief, Emergency Medicine
Gallup Indian Medical Center
U.S. Public Health Service and LTC, MC Group Surgeon
19 Special Forces Group Airborne
Wednesday, November 11th Veterans' Day


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Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
« Reply #133 on: November 12, 2007, 05:16:08 PM »
A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America ", for an amount of "up to and including my life."

That is honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it. 

Author unknown.


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Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
« Reply #134 on: November 17, 2007, 04:45:43 PM »
By JOSEPH L. GALLOWAY McClatchy Newspapers

Over the last 12 months, 1,042 soldiers, Marines,
sailors and Air Force personnel have given their
lives in the terrible duty that is war. Thousands
more have come home on stretchers, horribly wounded
and facing months or years in military hospitals.

This week, I'm turning my space over to a good
friend and former roommate, Army Lt. Col. Robert
Bateman , who recently completed a yearlong tour of
duty in Iraq and is now back at the Pentagon.

Here's Lt. Col. Bateman's account of a little-known
ceremony that fills the halls of the Army corridor
of the Pentagon with cheers, applause and many tears
every Friday morning. It first appeared on May 17 on
the Weblog of media critic and pundit Eric Alterman
at the Media Matters for America Website.

"It is 110 yards from the "E" ring to the "A" ring
of the Pentagon. This section of the Pentagon is
newly renovated; the floors shine, the hallway is
broad, and the lighting is bright. At this instant
the entire length of the corridor is packed with
officers, a few sergeants and some civilians, all
crammed tightly three and four deep against the
walls. There are thousands here.

This hallway, more than any other, is the `Army'
hallway. The G3 offices line one side, G2 the other,
G8 is around the corner. All Army. Moderate
conversations flow in a low buzz. Friends who may
not have seen each other for a few weeks, or a few
years, spot each other, cross the way and renew.

Everyone shifts to ensure an open path remains down
the center. The air conditioning system was not
designed for this press of bodies in this area.

The temperature is rising already. Nobody cares.
"10:36 hours: The clapping starts at the E-Ring.
That is the outermost of the five rings of the
Pentagon and it is closest to the entrance to the
building. This clapping is low, sustained, hearty.
It is applause with a deep emotion behind it as it
moves forward in a wave down the length of the

"A steady rolling wave of sound it is, moving at the
pace of the soldier in the wheelchair who marks the
forward edge with his presence. He is the first. He
is missing the greater part of one leg, and some of
his wounds are still suppurating. By his age I
expect that he is a private, or perhaps a private
first class.

"Captains, majors, lieutenant colonels and colonels
meet his gaze and nod as they applaud, soldier to
soldier. Three years ago when I described one of
these events, those lining the hallways were
somewhat different. The applause a little wilder,
perhaps in private guilt for not having shared in
the burden,  yet.

"Now almost everyone lining the hallway is, like the
man in the wheelchair, also a combat veteran. This
steadies the applause, but I think deepens the
sentiment. We have all been there now. The soldier's
chair is pushed by, I believe, a full colonel.

"Behind him, and stretching the length from Rings E
to A, come more of his peers, each private,
corporal, or sergeant assisted as need be by a field
grade officer.

"11:00 hours: Twenty-four minutes of steady
applause. My hands hurt, and I laugh to myself at
how stupid that sounds in my own head. My hands
hurt. Please! Shut up and clap. For twenty-four
minutes, soldier after soldier has come down this
hallway - 20, 25, 30. Fifty-three legs come with
them, and perhaps only 52 hands or arms, but down
this hall came 30 solid hearts.

They pass down this corridor of officers and
applause, and then meet for a private lunch, at
which they are the guests of honor, hosted by the
generals. Some are wheeled along. Some insist upon
getting out of their chairs, to march as best they
can with their chin held up, down this hallway,
through this most unique audience. Some are catching
handshakes and smiling like a politician at a Fourth
of July parade. More than a couple of them seem
amazed and are smiling shyly.

"There are families with them as well: the
18-year-old war-bride pushing her 19-year-old
husband's wheelchair and not quite understanding why
her husband is so affected by this, the boy she grew
up with, now a man, who had never shed a tear is
crying; the older immigrant Latino parents who have,
perhaps more than their wounded mid-20s son, an
appreciation for the emotion given on their son's
behalf. No man in that hallway, walking or clapping,
is ashamed by the silent tears on more than a few
cheeks. An Airborne Ranger wipes his eyes only to
better see. A couple of the officers in this crowd
have themselves been a part of this parade in the

These are our men, broken in body they may be, but
they are our brothers, and we welcome them home.
This parade has gone on, every single Friday, all
year long, for more than four years.

"Did you know that?


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Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
« Reply #135 on: December 19, 2007, 08:20:32 AM »
“Time magazine hasn’t announced its pick for ‘man of the year’ yet, but we certainly know ours: Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the multinational force in Iraq and architect of the surge strategy that is turning the tide in the war. Petraeus formulated a brilliant counterinsurgency plan. He executed it with care and diligence. And when much of the country didn’t want to notice the security gains that the surge had wrought, he took the national media spotlight to defend his strategy and his honor. In all this, he was nothing less than masterly. When Petraues testified on Capitol Hill in early September, much of the media and the Left simply refused to believe that violence in Iraq was down... And the day Petraeus’s testimony began, ran its infamous ‘General Petraeus or General Betray Us?’ ad. It said that ‘every independent report on the ground situation in Iraq shows that the surge strategy has failed’; that Petraeus ‘is constantly at war with the facts’; and that the general ‘is cooking the books for the White House.’... Hillary Rodham Clinton stopped just short of calling him a liar, saying that to believe his report required ‘a willing suspension of disbelief.’ Less than a month later, however, Petraeus’s critics had been effectively silenced... That the surge has worked is no longer up for debate. On a trip to Iraq the week after Thanksgiving, even John Murtha stated flatly, ‘I think the surge is working.’... That Petraeus has achieved so much in such a short time despite the frustrations of Iraqi politics is a testament to his skill as a strategist and a leader of men. For making victory in Iraq look possible again, and for pulling a nation back from the brink of civil war, Petraeus deserves the praise and thanks of all Americans. With or without a Time cover, he is the man of the year.” —National Review


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We need a new GI Bill
« Reply #136 on: January 25, 2008, 10:13:08 AM »
We Need a New GI Bill
January 25, 2008; Page A15

New York State Gov. Eliot Spitzer deserves the highest praise for his powerful commitment to the thousands of New York citizen soldiers fighting in the Iraq and Afghanistan war theaters. In his State of the State address this month, he proposed guaranteeing a full-tuition scholarship to these heroic men and women, so that they may attend any State University of New York or City University of New York college or university upon their return.

Mr. Spitzer's initiative should serve as a paradigm for what our nation must do for this new generation of veterans. They have sacrificed so much for us. We owe them honor, respect and the opportunity for a brighter future. We owe them a new GI Bill assuring them a college education.

When my service in the U.S. Navy ended after World War II, America welcomed me home with just such an opportunity: the G.I. Bill of 1944. In those days, veterans' benefits were generous -- the old saying was that if you got into Harvard, the G.I. Bill would pay for Harvard. This legislation allowed me to earn a bachelor's degree from Swarthmore College, a business degree from Harvard, and a law degree from Columbia.

I was among the almost eight million veterans -- more than half of us who returned home safely -- who were suddenly able to pay for the college or university of our choice. Many had never dreamed of going to college before the war.

This unprecedented educational opportunity transformed American society, as a whole generation of blue collar workers became engineers, doctors, lawyers, teachers and entrepreneurs. The economy boomed as we entered the workforce with new skills and training that increased productivity and stimulated innovation.

Sixty years after Pearl Harbor, a new generation of young men and women has now enlisted in the service of our nation. Regardless of our political differences about the war, we must be united in deep appreciation of the exceptional sacrifices made by our brave troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. This includes thousands of members of the Reserve and National Guard, most of whom have also served multiple tours of duty half a world away from their homes and families.

Unfortunately, the educational benefits that were available to WWII-era veterans are no longer afforded to today's returning troops. The sad reality is that while the cost of an education has increased, the benefits available to veterans have not kept up. Today, the GI Bill pays just a fraction of the cost of getting a degree.

Consider, for example, that the maximum educational benefit available to veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan is just $1,101 per month, or $39,636 over four years. Those veterans who served combat tours with the National Guard or Reserves are eligible for even less -- typically just $440 per month. The College Board reports that the average four-year public college costs more than $65,000 for an in-state student, while a private university costs upwards of $133,000.

Moreover, once National Guard and Reserve members leave the military, they are no longer eligible for any benefits. And if service members are discharged because of a disability, their GI Bill benefits are limited to only the equivalent number of months they served, even if their discharge was the result of injuries suffered in combat.

This is as unbelievable as it is unjust.

The severe restrictions of the current GI Bill extend beyond the educational benefit. There is an initial, non-refundable buy-in cost of $1,200 just to be eligible. That is essentially a "combat tax" on 19- and 20-year-olds who are getting ready to put their lives on the line for our country.

Hard as it is to imagine, if they don't use their GI Bill benefits when they return, they never see that money again. Some 30% of veterans don't use any of their GI Bill funds, which translates into more than $230 million going directly into the U.S. Treasury, rather than back to these young men and women.

War veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan must pay tuition, room and board and other college costs upfront out of their own pockets, and then are reimbursed up to their eligible benefit. In addition, benefits used under the GI Bill count against eligibility for federal student aid, with such support reduced if veterans receive any GI Bill funds. And there is a 10-year limit on assistance for current educational benefits.

All these restrictions effectively put the dream of higher education out of reach for far too many of the 1.6 million who have served our nation in the current wars.

I deeply believe that we have a moral responsibility to provide today's returning veterans with the same educational opportunities that my generation received. Mindful of that responsibility, many of us who benefited greatly from the original G.I. Bill have now established a private scholarship fund -- the Fund for Veterans' Education -- to offer the same "full boat" educational opportunities to returning veterans from all 50 states over the next 12 months.

To be sure, this is a limited effort that will only serve a relatively small number of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. However, we view our program as a direct challenge to our elected officials in Washington. Just as President Roosevelt and the Congress did in 1944, they must now choose to commit the resources necessary to fund a comprehensive G.I. Bill for another generation of America's brave soldiers.

Sens. Jim Webb of Virginia, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas have introduced legislation that would again make that sacred promise to our returning veterans: A promise that says, if you've put your life on the line to help secure America's future, your own educational future will never be in doubt.

Their legislation is good public policy and it is fiscally prudent. In the long run, a new G.I. Bill will more than pay for itself. As our experience proved after World War II, better educated veterans have higher income levels which, over the long run, will inevitably increase tax revenues. A congressionally mandated cost-benefit analysis concluded that for every $1 invested in education under the original G.I. Bill of 1944, the nation received between $5 and $12 in economic benefits, such as increased tax revenue and heightened productivity.

In my lifetime, the original G.I. Bill was one of this nation's proudest accomplishments and one of its most solemn commitments. We must now renew that commitment to a new generation of men and women who have served our country with extraordinary courage and distinction. In so doing, they will achieve the better lives they so richly deserve. And we will secure a better America.

Mr. Kohlberg, a founding partner of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and a limited partner of the private equity firm Kohlberg & Co., is chairman of the Fund For Veterans' Education.


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Howl of Respect to Robert Haldane
« Reply #137 on: March 17, 2008, 01:58:31 PM »,0,5082094.story
Robert Haldane, 83; led troops that found Viet Cong tunnels

Robert Haldane, an Army officer who led the battalion that discovered the infamous Cu Chi tunnels during the Vietnam War, died of cancer March 5 at his home in Alexandria, Va. He was 83.

Lt. Gen. Haldane was a lieutenant colonel Jan. 7, 1966, when he was in charge of the American infantry contingent of the 8,000-man U.S.-Australian Operation Crimp. His troops came under fire as soon as they landed near a rubber plantation about 25 miles northwest of Saigon and were mystified when the large numbers of enemy soldiers seemed to vanish in relatively open terrain.

Tunnel mystery
 click to enlarge

For three days, the battalion combed the area. They found a large trench, cache after cache of rice and salt, a classroom for 100 men, minefields, foxholes and antiaircraft artillery emplacements. The area was clearly home to a regiment-size force, but few Viet Cong were seen. Yet snipers continually harassed the Americans from within their own lines.

It wasn't until Sgt. Stewart L. Green sat on a nail, which turned out to be attached to a wooden trap door perforated with air holes, that an ingeniously camouflaged tunnel entrance was found. Green, a wiry 130-pound soldier, dropped into the tunnel and reported spotting 30 Viet Cong hiding just feet below the U.S. troops.

Haldane ordered red smoke grenades dropped into the entrance, and within minutes, "reports came in from every direction of red smoke appearing from numerous holes in the ground," according to "Infantry in Vietnam" (1967), edited by Albert N. Garland. The smoke didn't rout the enemy, so Haldane ordered his troops to pump in a nonlethal riot control gas. The Viet Cong stayed put. Finally, Green reentered the tunnel with a demolitions specialist, placed explosive charges and hurried out of the tunnel before the blasts.

The tunnels twisted and turned to minimize the effect of explosions and to restrict assaults. They also contained booby traps. Ventilation holes were disguised as anthills. In the tunnels, baskets of grenades hid trap doors to three lower levels. Service records of 148 Viet Cong were found, as well as operating rooms, supply dumps, armories -- everything needed to keep a large fighting force supplied.

The 125 miles of tunnels were later the scene of fierce hand-to-hand combat as American "tunnel rats" fought the Viet Cong in the dark, vermin-infested earth. In Operation Cedar Falls in 1967, 30,000 U.S. troops tried to destroy the tunnels, but historical sources say the Viet Cong used the remaining parts of the underground complex as a staging area during the 1968 Tet Offensive. In 1970, B-52s dropped thousands of delayed-fuse bombs that buried deep into the ground before exploding, which finally ended the tunnels' utility. The remnants of the Cu Chi tunnels are now a major tourist attraction in Vietnam.

Even as the tunnels were being discovered, fierce fighting raged in the area. Haldane was awarded the Silver Star for his actions Jan. 15, 1966, when he rushed an enemy position while under fire to give first aid to wounded troops. The Viet Cong blocked his efforts to evacuate the wounded. His Silver Star citation said that, "armed only with a .45-caliber pistol, Lt. Col. Haldane fearlessly charged the principal Viet Cong strong point, firing his weapon as he ran forward. His dauntless courage inspired his men to complete the assault, and ensured the successful evacuation of the casualties as well as the seizure of the objective."

Haldane served a second tour in Vietnam in 1968 as commander of the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division.

A native of Glen Rock, N.J., born in 1924, Haldane served in the Army Air Forces in England during World War II. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1947 and served in Germany, the United States and Korea before going to Vietnam in 1965.


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Re: Howl of Respect to our Soldiers/Veterans
« Reply #138 on: March 18, 2008, 07:19:13 AM »

If this was an atrocity, the MSM would be all over it. Instead our heroes are recognized on blogs and message boards while the MSM largely ignores them.

edited by Marc to add:

The name may not ring a bell but if you’re a blog reader you’ve heard of him. So valorous were his actions that even a media not inclined to celebrate the heroism of U.S. troops noticed his death when it happened. What kind of man are we talking about here? He won the Silver Star for pulling a comrade to safety in May 2006; four months later he was on a roof in Ramadi with three other SEALs when an insurgent tossed a grenade up. It bounced off his chest and dropped to the floor in front of them. “He never took his eye off the grenade, his only movement was down toward it,” said one of the three. His family will be at the White House on April 8 to receive the recognition due.

There is a clip at the URL as well.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2008, 07:33:23 AM by Crafty_Dog »