Wednesday, December 21, 2005

King of Iraq

From Seconds Out:

King's morale boost for troops in Iraq

Legendary promoter Don King said he would like to host a morale-boosting boxing exhibition in Iraq featuring world champion boxers he represents. King made his comments to CNN's Wolf Blitzer while appearing on The Situation Room last week.

Major General Thomas R. Turner II of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division told King earlier this year he would welcome such an event.

"There are many things that make a unit successful in combat," Turner said. "They need good equipment, the right number of people and good training. The army does that very well but the solider also needs to know that the American people support them and Don King has done that."

King never forgot the major general's comments and later presented a check for over $200,000 he raised to help create a 101st Airborne Memorial in Ft. Campbell, Ky.

He also visited troops fresh from the front lines in Iraq at Germany's Landstuhl Hospital near Ramstein Air Base in September, and he now wants to bring a boxing exhibition to Iraq to give soldiers a taste of home.

"Major General Turner and President George W. Bush are absolutely right about helping the troops," King said. "I intend to answer the President's call and do all I can to support our troops. Our men and women in uniform around the world are defending our freedom and liberties. They need to know that we appreciate their service and sacrifices to honor their bravery and dedication.

"I intend to stage exhibition matches in Iraq displaying the skills of many great champions from the boxing world. I want to entertain the troops, raise their morale and let our soldiers know that the American people are 100% behind them. It will be an unforgettable, historic event. I'll even stage a true championship match if I am allowed."

King added: "While politicians in Washington debate the issues, we must show through action and deed that we support our troops fighting for our liberties and way of life. I honor them. I want to be the black Bob Hope of boxing," King said with reverence to the comedian's achievements.

King is now discussing the formal arrangements with the White House, USO and the Department of Defense.

"I am proud to be an American, I love my country and I love my troops," King said. "I want to do everything I can to lift them up in their hour of need but I cannot do it without the blessing of our commander in chief."

King has quietly provided all telecasts of boxing matches he promotes free of charge to Armed Forces Network for over 20 years, so troops stationed abroad can view his telecasts.

Yeah, I remember watching a bunch of great title bouts on AFKN when I was in Korea. It was great because we wouldn't have to stay up until 2 am to watch them- they'd come on at around 3 pm Korea time. Now that I think of AFKN, I remember they had a PSA spot (AFKN ran PSA's instead of commercials) featuring an 18-year-old Kobe Bryant preaching to us soldiers about "doing the right thing." Wow, that was some great stuff. -2Slick

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Voting


My Godmother's son-in-law sent this dispatch a few days ago- sorry it took so long to get it posted. Cool stuff...

Today the Iraqi soldiers got their turn to vote so they are able to secure the polling sites on election day. It was amazing to see how happy these soldiers were to vote in a free election. Soldiers were dancing around and singing. It was the happiest I have ever seen these soldiers.

Enjoy,

Jeff


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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Bruce Willis is Cool


"Hollywood" people don't typically impress me much, but I think Bruce Willis is pretty cool. He came out to visit the 101st in 2003. My buddy Mark took some pics during his concert in Tall 'Afar:

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Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Just recently I read that he showed up to be the guest speaker at the Deuce Four's Punisher's Ball. Looks like he's going to play LTC Erik Kurilla in a movie based on Michael Yon's writings. That's excellent. It's nice to see something positive come out of Hollywood for a change.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Another Great Letter from Iraq


SGT Rausch and his buddies in 1st Platoon just crafted a masterpiece that needs to be seen by everyone you know. I've been trying to say this stuff for years now, but I couldn't quite figure out how to put it all into words. Well, these guys just cracked the code. Thanks to Becky C for bringing this to my attention:

Cpt2slick,

I am passing this on from a dear friend of mine. Her son wrote her this email and asked her to get it out to everyone. So she told me to send it to you too. Here is his email he wrote to her today. God bless those 101st soldiers. We love em all. Hope you will share his email with your readers.

Becky C

I will gladly pass this on, Becky. Thanks for doing your part in helping to spread the good word...

2Slick

SGT Rausch's email follows:

Mom

Be my voice. I want this message heard. It is mine and my platoon's to the country. A man I know lost his legs the other night. He is in another company in our batallion. I can no longer be silent after watching the sacrifices made by Iraqis and Americans everyday. Send it to a congressman if you have to. Send it to FOX news if you have to. Let this message be heard please.

My fellow Americans,

I have a task for those with the courage and fortitude to take it. I have a message that needs not fall on deaf ears. A vision the blind need to see. I am not a political man nor one with great wisdom. I am just a soldier who finds himself helping rebuild a country that he helped liberate a couple years ago.

I have watched on television how the American public questions why their mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters are fighting and dying in a country 9000 miles away from their own soil. Take the word of a soldier, for that is all I am, that our cause is a noble one. The reason we are here is one worth fighting for. A cause that has been the most costly and sought after cause in our small span of existence on our little planet. Bought in blood and paid for by those brave enough to give the ultimate sacrifice to obtain it. A right that is given to every man, woman, and child I believe by God. I am talking of freedom.

Freedom. One word but yet countless words could never capture it's true meaning or power. "For those who have fought for it, freedom has a taste the protected will never know." I read that once and it couldn't be more true. It's not the average American's fault that he or she is "blind and deaf" to the taste of freedom. Most American's are born into their God given right so it is all they ever know. I was once one of them. I would even dare to say that it isn't surprising that they take for granted what they have had all their life. My experiences in the military however opened my eyes to the truth.

Ironically you will find the biggest outcries of opposition to our cause from those who have had no military experience and haven't had to fight for freedom. I challenge all of those who are daring enough to question such a noble cause to come here for just a month and see it first hand. I have a feeling that many voices would be silenced.

I watched Cindy Sheehan sit on the President's lawn and say that America isn't worth dying for. Later she corrected herself and said Iraq isn't worth dying for. She badmouthed all that her son had fought and died for. I bet he is rolling over in his grave.

Ladies and gentleman I ask you this. What if you lived in a country that wasn't free? What if someone told you when you could have heat, electricity, and water? What if you had no sewage systems so human waste flowed into the streets? What if someone would kill you for bad-mouthing your government? What if you weren't allowed to watch TV, connect to the internet, or have cell phones unless under extreme censorship? What if you couldn't put shoes on your child's feet? You need not to have a great understanding of the world but rather common sense to realize that it is our duty as HUMAN BEINGS to free the oppressed. If you lived that way would you not want someone to help you????

The Iraqi's pour into the streets to wave at us and when we liberated the cities during the war they gathered in the thousands to cheer, hug and kiss us. It was what the soldier's in WW2 experienced, yet no one questioned their cause!! Saddam was no better than Hitler! He tortured and killed thousands of innocent people. We are heroes over here, yet American's badmouth our President for having us here.

Every police station here has a dozen or more memorials for officers that were murdered trying to ensure that their people live free. These are husbands, fathers, and sons killed every day. What if it were your country? What would your choice be? Everything we fight for is worth the blood that may be shed. The media never reports the true HEROISM I witness everyday in the Iraqi's. Yes there are bad one's here, but I assure you they are a minuscule percent. Yet they are a number big enough to cause worry in this country's future.

I have watched brave souls give their all and lose thier lives and limbs for this cause. I will no longer stand silent and let the "deaf and blind" be the only voice shouting. Stonewall Jackson once said, "All that I have, all that I am is at the service of the country." For these brave souls who gave the ultimate sacrifice, including your son Cindy Sheehan, I will shout till I can no longer. These men and women are heroes. Their spirit lives on in their military and they will never be forgotten. They did not die in vain but rather for a cause that is larger than all of us.

My fellow countrymen and women, we are not overseas for our country alone but also another. We are here to spread democracy and freedom to those who KNOW the true taste of it because they fight for it everyday. You can see the desire in their eyes and I am honored to fight alongside them as an Infantryman in the 101st Airborne.

Freedom is not free, but yet it is everyone's right to have. Ironic isn't it? That is why we are here. Though you will always have the skeptics, I know that most of our military will agree with this message. PLease, at the request of this soldier spread this message to all you know. We are in Operation Iraqi Freedom and that is our goal. It is a cause that I and thousands of others stand ready to pay the ultimate sacrifice for because, Cindy Sheehan, freedom is worth dying for, no matter what country it is! And after the world is free only then can we hope to have peace.

SGT Walter J. Rausch and 1st Platoon
Charlie Co. 2/327 Infantry Regiment
101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)

Monday, November 14, 2005

101st Airborne Back in Action


The Screaming Eagles are back in the Land of the Awful Sand. I'll be posting periodic updates in an effort to document their progress. The following update comes from SFC David Abrams...

U.S. combat ops continue to defeat terrorists on street

Blackanthem.com, BAGHDAD, Iraq, November 13, 2005 6:54

Operation National Unity, an on-going operation by Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition Forces to root out terrorists in the Baghdad area, continues to meet with great success, said Task Force Baghdad officials.

"Iraqi and U.S. Soldiers are bravely carrying out their mission to provide a safe and secure environment for the democratic process to grow in Iraq," said Lt. Col. Robert Whetstone, Task Force Baghdad spokesperson. "Terrorist activities continue to attempt to derail that process, while Iraqi Security Force and Coalition Force successes occur daily."

In one 96-hour period alone in November, Task Force Baghdad conducted more than 1,030 patrols, carried out 100 cordon-and-searches and raids, and set up more than 400 tactical checkpoints during aggressive combat operations throughout the capitol city.

While the threat of improvised explosive devices still lingers for Soldiers on patrol, Task Force Baghdad officials report the number of successes far outweigh the number of IEDs struck by humvees and other military vehicles.

During combat operations Nov. 6-11, Coalition Forces detained more than 250 terror suspects, found seven weapons caches, and discovered 37 IEDs before they could be detonated.

This is typical of the missions U.S. Soldiers in Baghdad engage in every week as they work to create an environment where a strong Iraqi Security Force can contain and eventually defeat the insurgency, Whetstone noted.

Task Force Baghdad officials cite operations on Nov. 11 as examples of how U.S. and Iraqi forces are "taking the fight to the terrorists."

For instance, Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment interrupted a suspected assassination attempt in progress in the Ghazaliyah district. Around 6:30 p.m., the U.S. patrol reported taking small-arms fire from three individuals running from a store where they were believed to be intimidating or attempting to assassinate civilians inside. The Soldiers returned fire on the fleeing terrorists, killing two of them. No civilians were harmed in the incident.

Earlier in the day, an Iraqi-U.S. patrol northwest of Baghdad turned an IED strike into an opportunity to nab a terror suspect. The patrol from 2nd Battalion, 70th Armored Regiment, and 2nd Mechanized Battalion, 1st Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division hit the roadside bomb around noon and immediately took small-arms fire from two nearby cars. U.S. Soldiers returned fire and chased the vehicles from the area. The Soldiers returned to the IED site and found a secondary device. An explosives ordnance disposal team was called in to destroy the 155-millimeter round. Meanwhile, the Iraqi Soldiers noticed an individual throw a possible trigger device into a nearby canal. The suspect was detained and processed into the Iraqi judicial system. There were no injuries to Iraqi or U.S. forces during the incident.

In another example of Coalition troops responding with a show of force to a terrorist attack, a patrol from 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry killed a terrorist who fired on them with an AK-47 assault rifle around 7 a.m. south of the Abu Ghraib Prison Facility.Iraqi forces with 1st Battalion, 4th Public Order Brigade operating in Doura reported a success of their own around 5:30 p.m. when they caught a terrorist emplacing an IED along a major highway. A U.S. EOD team recovered the 107-millimeter rocket and the Iraqi Army unit detained the terrorist for questioning.

Other potential IEDs were discovered by U.S. Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team working the streets of east Baghdad.

Around noon, Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment reported finding a 130-millimeter round in the median of a major road. They secured the area and called for an EOD team. The Soldiers also found a secondary device consisting of 120-millimeter and 100-millimeter rounds encased in concrete. EOD recovered both devices.

In another location, Iraqi civilians waved down a patrol from the 26th Forward Support Battalion and told them of a suspicious device at the intersection of two main roads in the area shortly after 3 p.m. The U.S. Soldiers cordoned off the site and called in an EOD team to recover what turned out to be a potentially deadly IED.

"We (U.S. Forces) are not the determining factor with respect to the ultimate defeat of the terrorists—the Iraqi people are," said Col. Joseph DiSalvo, 2nd BCT commander. "The terrorists have no chance as long as the Iraqi people stand up against them." Task Force Baghdad Soldiers also seized weapons and munitions during combat operations Nov. 11.While searching a house, Soldiers from 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division found three cases of 20-millimeter anti-aircraft ammunition, about 7 million in dinar (equivalent to nearly $5,000), and two loaded AK-47 assault rifles. Two terror suspects were detained at the house and held for further questioning.

Another 2nd Bde., 101st Airborne Div. unit found a cache consisting of four 3-foot rockets at a site southwest of Baghdad.Task Force Baghdad officials said Nov. 11 is just one example of how Operation National Unity is succeeding on all levels to keep the city’s terrorists on the defensive.

By Sgt. 1st Class David Abrams
Task Force Baghdad PAO

Sunday, October 30, 2005

House becomes a home for (Iraq war) hero


By VICKI BERRY, C-T Lifestyle Editor

He received a hero’s welcome when he returned to his newly renovated home Wednesday, however, Bobby Isaacs does not refer to himself in that manner at all.

"I was just doing what I was told," he said, matter-of-factly.

Retired Cpl. Bobby Isaacs, 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky. was initially given an imminent death retirement because he wasn’t expected to recover from injuries he received while serving in Iraq.

And just as understatedly, the Roxboro resident was prompted to join the armed forces following the 9/11 tragedy.

Isaacs said he had tossed around the idea of joining the Army prior to the 9/11 attacks. "That gave me the push," he said.

In March of 2003 Isaacs was deployed to Iraq. After serving in several Iraqi cities, events led to an occurrence that would change the young man’s life forever.

Isaacs recently recalled the events of that day near Mosul. Isaacs and others in his division were part of a convoy. He explained that he was standing behind his staff sergeant who was sitting in the passenger’s seat. The convoy was ambushed with small arms fire and a roadside bomb that shattered the bones in both of Isaacs’ legs and severed the femoral artery.

"My staff sergeant was killed," he said.

Isaacs too, came very close to losing his life. "I was resuscitated three times," he said.

Following a few days in a field hospital, Isaacs was taken to Germany before being sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the U.S. There, he spent the next year, lost both legs and underwent 39 operations. While it doesn’t sound like fun, Isaacs said he was happy to be there.

"I was just glad I was in a hospital and not in a body bag," he said.

During his stint in the hospital and through a fellow patient, Isaacs fatefully met John Gonsalves, founder of Homes for Our Troops. Although Isaacs was not aware of it at the time, that meeting was the first of several to follow that would have a positive impact and outcome.

Isaacs left Walter Reed Hospital and moved back to Roxboro to live with his mother, Pat Isaacs, and although he was out of the hospital, he was not finished with the medical visits. It was necessary for Isaacs to go to Veterans Hospital in Durham for his prosthesis and follow-up care. And that is when Isaacs had another fateful encounter.

He met Charlotte Riggle, who works as a technician with the Center for Orthotic and Prosthetics at Duke University.

"She makes the legs," he said.

That was then. Now, together, plans are being laid for a wedding ceremony for the two on July 1.

Future plans for Isaacs include returning to school in the spring, probably at a local community college, he said. From there, he is considering a career as a physician’s assistant.

However, his plans do not involve moving.

When Isaacs left Walter Reed Medical Center to come back to Person County, he was told by Gonsalves to begin looking for a house and, if possible, Homes for Our Troops would buy and adapt the house to meet his special needs.

This past June, he found the house and Homes for Our Troops made the purchase along with plans to renovate the structure so that Isaacs could move in by December.

That move-in date was stepped-up a notch when Homes for Our Troops combined forces with the ABC network television show Extreme Makeover Home Edition and, in a blitz-like fashion, the house was adapted, renovated, furnished and ready for its new occupant in 48 hours.

On Wednesday, amidst television fanfare, Gonsalves handed Isaacs the key and the deed to his new home – a charitable act from Homes for Our Troops to help the veteran achieve his future dreams.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Business as Usual


Just a quick passage from a recent Time Magazine article:

It was then that Lt. Nelson took the decision that could jeopardize his service career. "We decided to burn the bodies," one soldier recounts, "because they were bloated and they stank." News of this cremation may have remained on these scorching hills of southern Afghanistan, had the gruesome act not been recorded on film by an Australian photojournalist, Stephen Dupont. Instead, when the footage aired on Australian TV on Wednesday, it unleashed world outrage. A Pentagon spokesman described the incident as "repugnant" and said that the army was launching a criminal investigation into the alleged desecration of the corpses, which is in violation of the Geneva Convention on human rights.

I'll say this once- if the American media machine continues to drag our military through the mud with all of our "violations of the Geneva Convention," we will lose this war. That's not a guess on my part- it is a fact.

Nice job, Newsweek. Let's not talk about cutting the heads off of living human beings. Forget about blowing up dozens of young children as they attempt to collect candy from U.S. soldiers- that stuff just happens and so who cares, right?

Literally hundreds of U.S. soldiers have risked their own lives in order to save the lives of fellow soldiers, innocent civilians, and even enemy terrorists who were only minutes earlier trying to kill them- and you see fit to report...none of it. Nada. Zip. It's boooor-ing. So last century. But when U.S. troops decide to burn a couple of already-dead terrorists- stop the presses! It's almost as big a deal as when they put underwear on someone's head!

Muslims traditionally bury their dead, and as one Kabul cleric Mohammed Omar told newsmen, "The burning of these bodies is an offense against Muslims every where. Bodies are burned only in Hell."

That's a great point you make there, cleric guy- but where do people typically get their heads cut off? Is there a place in Hell for that? Did the Newsweek reporter ask you that question? When an American gets his/her head sawed off by one of your fellow faithful, is that an offense against Americans everywhere?

Al Jazeera does a swell job of making Americans out to be the "real" terrorists- but Newsweek and the rest of America's MSM are really giving them a run for their money. I have a challenge for somebody out there. I'd do it myself, but I'm just way too busy these days. Find out how many "Abu Ghraib-type" stories graced the front page of the New York Times, and then chalk up the number of times they fronted stories about American heroism and valor. I think the results will be stunning. Or not.

I'm not asking for flag-waving and apple pie.

I'm not seeking fame and glory for myself or anyone else.

I just think we'd better stop treating our own people worse than we treat head-chopping, baby-bombing terrorists. That's not so much to ask...

If you haven't read LTC Tim Ryan's assessment yet- read it.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Holy Bush-Bashing, Batman!


The AP really went all out with their latest assault on the current administration and anyone even remotely associated with it. Deb Reichmann's latest masterpiece managed to slime the President, the Pentagon, and of course- the soldiers! I'm not quite sure what soldiers ever did to the AP (unless you believe Eason Jordan's assertion that American troops systematically slaughter journalists), but Deb really seems to go out of her way to make these troops look stupid:

A brief rehearsal ensued.

"OK, so let's just walk through this," Barber said. "Captain Kennedy, you answer the first question and you hand the mike to whom?"

"Captain Smith," Kennedy said.

"Captain. Smith? You take the mike and you hand it to whom?" she asked.

"Captain Kennedy," the soldier replied.

And so it went.


Duhhhh...and my name is Bob and I'm really stoopid! I can't think for myself and I need Allison Barber to tell me what to think and what to say and who to hand the microphone to and- uh oh! I went poopie in my poopiepants!

Nice work, Deb- I'm sure the soldiers appreciate all the blood sweat and tears you poured into making them look like a bunch of diaper-clad thumb-sucking idiots.

And what about the Iraqi soldier? Let's pass him off as a lovestruck groopie!

The president also got praise from the Iraqi soldier who was part of the chat.

"Thank you very much for everything," he gushed. "I like you."


Are you kidding me??? He gushed????? Who in the wide world of sports wrote this garbage? A valley girl?

And here's my favorite insult- some yahoo named Paul Rieckhoff fancies himself as a "support the troops" kinda guy:

Paul Rieckhoff, director of the New York-based Operation Truth, an advocacy group for U.S. veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, denounced the event as a "carefully scripted publicity stunt." Five of the 10 U.S. troops involved were officers, he said.

"If he wants the real opinions of the troops, he can't do it in a nationally televised teleconference," Rieckhoff said. "He needs to be talking to the boots on the ground and that's not a bunch of captains."

Well said, Paul. Tell you what- send me an email and let's arrange a meeting. I'd like to give you the opportunity to tell me to my face that I haven't earned the right to give a legitimate opinion about what I saw and what I experienced over there.

I want you to tell me to my face that my opinion isn't "real" because of the rank I held while I was over there.

I want you to tell me that my "Captain" friends who died while fighting for something they believed in are somehow less important than soldiers who carry a different rank.

I want to see just how much courage you really have, Paul.

Go ahead- send me an email. Let's set up the meeting, and let's find out how completely and pathetically gutless you really are.

Thanks for bringing this joke of a man to my attention, Deb. Now go back to doing what the AP pays you for- but please stop insulting our intelligence by trying to pass off your poorly written slop as "news."

For all you folks out there who would like to read an honest account of what happened at that "staged" teleconference, I give you Sergeant Ron Long :

Yesterday, I was chosen to be among a small group of soldiers assigned to the 42ID’s Task Force Liberty that would speak to President Bush, our Commander-in-Chief. The interview went well, but I would like to respond to what most of the mass-media has dubbed as, “A Staged Event.”

First of all, we were told that we would be speaking with the President of the United States, our Commander-in-Chief, President Bush, so I believe that it would have been totally irresponsible for us NOT to prepare some ideas, facts or comments that we wanted to share with the President.

We were given an idea as to what topics he may discuss with us, but it’s the President of the United States; He will choose which way his conversation with us may go.

We practiced passing the microphone around to one another, so we wouldn’t choke someone on live TV. We had an idea as to who we thought should answer what types of questions, unless President Bush called on one of us specifically.

President Bush told us, during his closing, that the American people were behind us. I know that we are fighting here, not only to preserve our own freedoms, but to establish those same freedoms for the people of Iraq. It makes my stomach ache to think that we are helping to preserve free speech in the US, while the media uses that freedom to try to RIP DOWN the President and our morale, as US Soldiers. They seem to be enjoying the fact that they are tearing the country apart. Worthless!


The question I was most asked while I was home on leave in June was, “So...What’s REALLY going on over there?” Does that not tell you something?! Who has confidence in the media to tell the WHOLE STORY? It’s like they WANT this to turn into another Vietnam. I hate to break it to them, but it’s not.

Tomorrow morning, the Iraqi people will vote on their constitution. The success of our mission or the mission of the Iraqi security forces is not defined by the outcome of that vote. If the people of Iraq vote this constitution down, that only means that the FREE, DEMOCRATIC PROCESS is at work in Iraq. They are learning to voice their opinions in the polling stations, not through violence. If it is voted down, they will have the chance to draft an even better version; One that may better serve the people of Iraq. This is up to them. It is history in the making and I will not let the media or anyone else (who has not spent more than two weeks here) tell me otherwise. I have been here for almost a year. I have seen the progress made in so many ways from January’s elections to this referendum. Don’t tell me what the Iraqi people can or can’t do. They will tell you with their VOTES!

If you would like to see our interview with President Bush, you may get it HERE.

Nice try, AP...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

101st Airborne Getting Ready to Return to Iraq

By Ryan Lenz

The Associated Press

FORT CAMPBELL - Combat soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division will begin deploying to Iraq in the next week, two years after the division helped topple Saddam Hussein, Army officials said Thursday.

The Army is processing nearly 1,000 soldiers a day at Fort Campbell. The 3rd Brigade is preparing to be among the division's first combat units to replace the Army's 42nd Infantry Division. It operates out of Tikrit, in north central Iraq.

For many, it's a moment filled with nervous excitement despite having been to the battlefield before. For others, it is a sobering dose of reality to wait in long lines to check everything from vaccinations to mental health.

About 3,600 troops from Fort Campbell are already in Iraq, including hospital and artillery forces. The departure of units from the 3rd Brigade, known as the Rakkasans, marks the beginning of a deployment many had expected.

"It's easy going over there," said Sgt. Jeff Desrosier, 34, of Grand Forks, N.D., as he laughed and told jokes with fellow soldiers. "But what's hard is when I'm in the kitchen and my son comes up crying and hugging me."

On Thursday, soldiers filed into an old gym at Fort Campbell to update personal records including contact information for next of kin, personal information to help officials identify them if captured, even details for the type of funeral they'd like to have.

"I'm just ready to go to Iraq and get it over with," said Sgt. Sheroda McLendon, 27, of Macon, Ga., after receiving one of several shots that the Army requires of soldiers going to Iraq.

About 19,000 soldiers from the division deployed to Iraq in 2003. After the fall of Saddam Hussein, the division was assigned to the Mosul area of northern Iraq.

The nature of the conflict has changed since then, said Maj. John Calahan, the brigade's executive officer. He was waiting in line with enlisted soldiers to receive one of the many medical checks. But the Rakkasans are ready, he said.
"The entire time we were there last year, the enemy was constantly evolving. And they've continued to evolve," he said. "But on the same token, we have also evolved."

For those soldiers deploying for the first time, finalizing their affairs all at once drove home the coming deployment.

"It really made me step back and ask what is it that's worth leaving my family for," said Staff Sgt. Jesse Riggin, 24, of Middletown, Del. "It basically comes down to waking up every morning and having a purpose."

The movement of the 101st and 159th Aviation Brigades and the division's four combat brigades - more than 20,000 troops - will be carried out in stages, possibly through November, Army officials said.

Monday, October 10, 2005

No Better Friend...


October 10, 2005

Release Number: 05-10-32

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FIRST U.S. HUMANITARIAN AIRLIFT REACHES ISLAMABAD

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - A United States Air Force C-17 delivered the first relief supplies here within 48 hours of the devastating earthquake that has left thousands dead and thousands more injured and displaced.

The aircraft and its crew from the 7th Airlift Squadron, McChord Air Force Base, Wash., delivered 12 pallets -- weighing almost 90,000 pounds -- of food, water, medicine and blankets from Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.

With only a few hours notice, Airmen and soldiers at Bagram, successfully worked to palletize the humanitarian relief supplies and prepare them for the flight. Three aerial port specialists were also on the flight to coordinate and manage the cargo once it arrived at Islamabad.

"This was a total team effort," said Col. Mike Isherwood, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Vice Commander. "Our hearts go out to all those affected by the earthquake and we are thankful we were able to help out."

Pakistan Army Brig. Gen. Imtiaz Sherazi, director of logistics, is coordinating the relief efforts as supplies arrive and ensuring rapid distribution of assistance to areas that need it most.

Said General Sherazi, "These items are very valuable to us because there are lots of people in great distress."

As relief efforts are ongoing worldwide, United States Central Command will continue to identify and provide additional capabilities for airborne reconnaissance, heavy lift ground equipment, medical support, shelters, rations and water to aid and assist the people of Pakistan.

Friday, September 16, 2005

McMaster Tells It Like It Is


CENTCOM just posted a friendly message from Terrorist-du-jour Abu-Mus'ab al-Zarqawi. Check it out, and see how the other side thinks. Here's a peek:


Since yesterday, the battles for revenge started all over the land of the two rivers. The raid for avenging the Sunni people in Tall far has started.

Celebrate and sing the praise of God, O nation of Islam. The battalions of monotheism have set out, pledging to die in support of the faith and its people. They were spearheaded by the best of the battalions, the Al-Bara Bin-Malik Battalion.

Approach us, O paradise. O brigade of martyrdom-seeker: Celebrate and sing the praise of God, for tomorrow you will meet the beloved ones, Muhammad and his companions. You have never accepted injustice, O lions of monotheism. This is your day. Go after the heads of the infidels, the Jews, the Crusaders, and the descendants of Ibn al-Alqami [derogatory term for Shia named after Ibn-al-Alqami, a Shia minister who was accused of betraying the last Abbasid caliph Al-Musta'ism during Hulugu's attack on Baghdad in 1258]. Do not show any mercy toward them.


Sounds like he's throwing down the gauntlet, huh? I think I know what's got him so ruffled. It seems that my old history professor, COL H.R. McMaster, decided to put some roadblocks on Syria's terrorist expressway. Here's a clip from the COL's recent press briefing (thanks to Mike for sending):


Q: You've painted an extremely rosy picture of your campaign so far. Have you taken and secured Tall Afar, and are you going to be able to hold it and keep it?


COL. MCMASTER: Yeah. Those are great questions. Nothing's rosy in Iraq, okay? So I don't want to give you an unrealistic perspective here. What I tried to describe with you was a continuous interaction with the enemy that we've had since our arrival, but an interaction that has been in our favor. We've maintained the initiative over this enemy.


So is Tall Afar secure? No, it's not secure. Is the enemy on the run in Tall Afar? Yes, the enemy's on the run. And we're going to conduct some follow-on operations in the next week or so to relentlessly pursue the enemy across the city.


The standard for success for us here is to ensure that the enemy can no longer wage an effective campaign of intimidation over the population of Tall Afar. And to get to your question, in terms of can we permanently secure it, the answer is, yes, and we're taking all measures to do that. In fact, it's the most complicated part of the mission, is how we provide permanent security. We're introducing Iraqi security forces into the center of the city. Iraqi army will have access to the population. They'll be in patrol bases in the interior of the city.



I think my old prof sounds more intelligent than Zarqawi, but maybe I'm biased. Bottom line- Zarqawi is upset. Which brings me to my next point. During my last few posts, I invited some thoughtful debate about why our government decided to remove Saddam from power. I saw some good points from all sides, and I appreciate all the emails and comments. My thoughts on the subject are simple- the terrorists want us to fail in Iraq. They have decided that their very survival depends on turning Iraq into another Mogidishu. If this were to happen, it would be the unthinkable. This is why our troops are there. This is why failure is not an option. It doesn't matter what Saddam had or didn't have. It doesn't matter what he was planning to do in the future. That's all been settled. The fight is with a different enemy now- an enemy that has very little to do with Saddam (they didn't like him either), and everything to do with the ongoing fight against terrorists.

More on this later, but for now I'd just encourage everyone to read COL McMaster's entire press briefing- it's good reading and it really puts the current situation in perspective. And please- read the news releases on the CENTCOM page. This conflict has entered a new phase, and the MSM has no clue what's going on.

More bad news for Zarqawi and the gang- the 101st Airborne Division is heading back to Iraq. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Armed Forces Retirement Home


I found the following post at Rick Lippincott's site. It caught my attention because I'm quite familiar with AFRH's in DC and Gulfport. There are many worthy causes to contribute to in the wake of the Katrina disaster, and I'm just throwing this one out there because I think it's a good one...

The Armed Forces Retirement Home facility in Gulfport, MS has suffered severe damage from Hurricane Katrina.

The AFRH is the facility that cares for veterans (both men and women) in their declining years. The Gulfport facility was built in the early 1980s, originally as the US Naval Home before the military retirement home systems consolidated a few years back.

As a result of the damage to the Gulfport facility, the AFRH has to relocate over 400 aged veterans to the other AFRH facility in Washington DC. As I write this, they're on buses heading north.

According to this story (originally from the Washington Post), quote:

Timothy C. Cox, chief operating officer in charge of both homes, said 10 feet of water surged into the ground floor of the Gulfport home, ruining the kitchen, dining room, bowling alley and long-term care facility and submerging the emergency generator. The hurricane also blew down the home's water tower...

Scores of people volunteered to help prepare for the newcomers, Cox said. Sheila Abarr, a spokeswoman for the home, said others interested in volunteering can call 202-730-3410. Donations of such toiletries as soap and shampoo also will be accepted, she said. Donations can be made by calling 800-422-9988.

He said the homes, which are operated jointly, did not have money in the budget to pay for housing the Gulfport residents in Washington but did have money in a trust fund. The homes are operated with funds from a $119 million trust fund and together have a $58 million annual budget.

The AFRH will accept donations to the trust fund, or the donations of the toiletries and such.

Donations may be sent to:

AFRH
PAO
13053700 N. Capitol St. NW
Washington, DC 20011-8400

You can call for further information at: (800) 332-3527.

There are many organizations working to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and donations to any one of them will do good. But a donation of relatively small, simple items will go directly into the hands of an elderly vet.

My grandfather spent the last dozen or so years of his life in Gulfport, and it literally was his home. The residents there all view the quarters as their home, and they've been taken from it just as traumatically as the thousands of civilians who have also lost their homes. These old vets have nowhere else to go. Some of them don't have families, either.

These men and women fought for our freedom. The least we can do is send down a few cans of shaving cream and a couple of bottles of shampoo.

And while you're at it, consider throwing in a short note that says "Thanks for serving."

Friday, September 02, 2005

RM Steps Up


Commenter "RM" stepped up to my challenge, and here's what he said:


2Slick,

With all due respect, an implication or inference is not something you can prove. All President's speeches are highly crafted to send multiple messages to broad constituencies. Different people hear different things and rarely is it unintentional.

Many people simply "heard" Bush make a connection between Iraq and 911. Were they stupid? Poor listeners? Who knows. They are voters however and the President needed them to support the war.

Evidence aside, your gut should tell you that Bush did everything in his power to build the case for war, including implying a connection to 911, and raising the specre of a nuclear attack. What exactly about Bush would make you think he would shy away from bending the facts to make his case?

I don't know why people cant just acknowledge that he manipulated the public, and THEN debate if it was necessary or not, and what the effect of that manipulation might be for American society.

The closest thing to proof of his desire to link 911 to Iraq is the assertion, "fight them over there, so we don't have to fight them here". As the London bombing proved, the statement is patently absurd, and even contradicts his own words that more attacks on the US are inevitable. If this is a global war then how can it have a front line?

RM,

Thanks for your input- you lay out your argument in an intelligent and thoughtful manner, and for that I commend you. Now here's where you're wrong-

Yes, Bush did everything in his power to make his case for war- if I were President, I'd have done the same thing. I would not expect any President to say, "Hey, I'm going to invade a country right now- trust me it's the right thing to do, and I'll tell you all about it later."

Of course he's going to lay out his case! And he's going to have thousands of staffers get together and form a PR campaign that essentially says "here's why we're going to war."

As a member of the 101st Airborne Division, I knew that I'd be one of the first to go over there, so I listened CAREFULLY. I'm going to say it again- not once did I hear anyone in his administration even imply that Iraq was involved in planning and/or executing the attacks on 9/11. To do so would have been absolutely absurd. Anyone who knew anything about 9/11 knew that the 19 hijackers were mostly Saudi (none Iraqi) and that it was an act of bin Laden's AQ network- I wouldn't insult anyone's intelligence to suggest otherwise, and I wouldn't expect our governement officials to do so either.

I agree with you- some people may have been "poor listeners" or just "too stupid" to grasp the literal meaning of what was said. That's their problem- if they can't pay attention or if they hear only what they want to hear, that's great- they just need to be prepared to lose any debate that they decide to engage in. If they hear Bush say "9/11" and "Iraq" in the same sentence and then conclude that he must have meant that Iraq was responsible for 9/11, then I can't help them. But when they tell me (a person who actually listened to him) that Bush said "Iraq was responsible for 9/11," I'm going to call them out every single time. I'm going to tell them that they're wrong. I'm going to ask them to show me where he said that or even implied it. And when they say "well, I can't really think of a specific time when he said it, but I know for a fact that he used '9/11' and 'Iraq' in the same sentence!" then I'm going to devaluate their argument- severely. I'm going to tell them that maybe they should listen to the whole sentence- better yet- the whole speach, before attempting to argue about what Bush said or even "really meant to say." If those people had been on the verge of a deployment, they probably would have listened a little more carefully. Last thing- I don't think it's a coincidence that the vast majority of those "poor listeners" are card-carrying Bush-bashers.

Did he bend the facts? No. He did not. I've not seen one shred of evidence to suggest that he "bent any facts"- our intelligence matched up with every intellegence agency in the world. He did, however, present a lot of reasons (some turned out to be better than others) for going to war. Is this manipulation? I suppose you could call it that. I'd call it "doing his job."

Here's where you're right-

I think you were alluding to this debate:

"If Bush did lie/cheat/steal in order sway public opinion in support of this war, why does that automatically have to be a bad thing?"

I agree with you 100%- this is an excellent topic for debate. It brings up a ton of points to consider. Here's just a few...

1) Is political correctness a factor? You know- in the sense that we can't just come out and say "Hey we need to transform the middle east before that place becomes infested with Islamic fundementalists." Iraq would be the logical first step because Saddam is hated and despised by the vast majority of his constituents for obvious reasons (he kills them a lot, etc.), and so we build our case for going in without ticking off the entire Muslim world...

2) Does this mean it's okay for our government to lie to us? If it's in our best interest? For the sake of national security? Certainly it's been done before, right? Are there times when we have to act on a certain geopolitical agenda, even though it would outrage our overly-politically correct culture (especially the "poor listeners" who really just can't seem to get a handle on things)?

Just a few questions that can be debated until the end of time.

I agree with you about the "we fight them over there, so we don't have to fight them over here" stuff, but I think you read a little too much into it. I don't see anything in that statement that suggests Iraq was responsible for 9/11. I think it's pretty obvious that he's making the point that there are terrorists over there who are fighting like hell to keep Iraq from becoming a free society- and it's better that they are engaged in that fight instead of planning and executing attacks on US soil.

I don't like the way he phrases that statement, because it implies that it's "OK" for terrorists to be raising hell in some other country- as long as they're not in our back yard. It's sort of a selfish way of putting it. I can tell you that the Iraqi people (whom we are there to help) would rather we be fighting those terrorists in Iowa instead of Baghdad and Mosul, and I certainly don't blame them. But most of them accept that it's a battle between good and evil that needs to be fought and won by the good guys (the good guys being us and the Iraqi Security Forces).

I believe that we will prevail in Iraq- and when we do, the Iraqis will begin to enjoy life again. The entire middle east will follow them towards the path of freedom, and the world will be a better place. And I'll just be glad to have been a part of it...

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Joe Answers the Bell


Ladies and Gentlemen, a nice guy named Joe Bartilucci has decided to present me with that "one single solitary shred of evidence that the Bush administration linked Iraq to what happened on 9/11." Are you ready for his evidence? Here goes:

"Are you serious? When DOESN'T Bush try and link Iraq to 9/11 in order to justify sending over 1800 American men and women to their deaths? Do you just type stupid remarks here without listening to anything Bush says?"

In other words, "because I said so."

Thanks, Joe- thanks for making my point for me.

"Stupid" is such a strong word, isn't it?

I have heard Bush (and many others) talk about how the geopolitical structure of the world changed after 9/11, and with it our need to adjust our strategy in how we deal with lunatic dictators in the mideast. Joe might think that's a stupid approach- I think it's pretty smart. Let's agree to disagree. I've never heard Bush (or anyone associated with him) say anything that even implies that "Saddam orchestrated the attacks on 9/11." These are two completely distinct and unrelated concepts that people like Joe try to equate and manipulate into their own twisted version of reality. How do they do it? Read my post carefully, and then look at Joe's repsonse:

Me: I politely ask you to show me one single solitary shred of evidence that the Bush administration linked Iraq to what happened on 9/11.

Joe: Are you serious? When DOESN'T Bush try and link Iraq to 9/11...

See that? Joe decided to remove two words from my post- I guess he was hoping nobody would notice. By removing those two words, Joe changes the premise of the whole argument- thus allowing him to dodge my challenge, rant about how stupid I am, call Bush an evil murderer, these are a few of his favorite things.

Please note the way in which Joe decides to indict Bush for the deaths of 1800 American men and women without offering any words for the terrorists who killed them. It's a sickness, folks. A disease.

Wow, look at that. I just destroyed someone's argument by presenting thoughtful and factual information- and I didn't even have to call anyone "stupid!"

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Jennifer Loven Strikes Again


I've written about her before.

Google her name and you'll find a long list of indictments that leave no doubt- this woman is nothing more than a card-carrying Bush-basher who (poorly) disguises herself as a legitimate "news person."

Her latest shot at Bush is laughable at best:

Of All Gas Consumers, Bush May Be Biggest

Getting President Bush from here to there consumes an enormous amount of fuel, whether he's aboard Air Force One, riding in a helicopter or on the ground in a heavily armored limousine. The bill gets steeper every day as the White House is rocked by the same energy prices as regular drivers. Taxpayers still foot the bill.


Is there anyone out there who can still take this woman seriously?

Cindy Sheehan

I am done with this topic- if you really want some hard-hitting reports about this woman and her merry band of lunatics, I strongly recommend Huffington's Toast. I especially enjoy Michael Moore's "Letters from the Fat Farm." Great stuff!

Debate This

I've seen a few things floating around the comments lately...

If Bush really thinks this is a noble cause, then his daughters should be over there fighting as well.

I simply can't believe how ridiculous that statement is.

1) The last thing I would ever want is for our Commander-in-Chief to have a son or daughter serving in the military. That would be a conflict of interest that could seriously impact national security. If it happens, it happens- but as an American citizen, I would strongly oppose it.

2) The Bush twins actively campaigned for their father last year. They supported the troops by supporting their cause as well as the mission, and they put themselves in harms way in order to do so- there are plenty of whackos out there. Most Americans their age didn't even vote.

But really, think about how stupid this is. Here's the new liberal mantra:

Force your adult sons or daughters into doing whatever you want them to do! It's the only way to prove your devotion to a cause!

Seriously, I just can't believe it.

Here's another gem:

The war is based on a lie, because now we know that Iraq was not linked in any way to what happened on 9/11.

Wow, that's a fantastic talking point! It makes you sound really smart and worldly until I politely ask you to show me one single solitary shred of evidence that the Bush administration linked Iraq to what happened on 9/11. Go ahead. I'm waiting. Still looking? OK, stop looking- you won't find it. Therefore, your argument has no basis in reality.

You see, the Michael Moore liberals in this country have an interesting way of structuring their arguments. They lie about what you said, and then they call you a liar because of what you didn't say. I can do that, too. Watch this:

I say: "Jimmy Carter is such a liar because he said that Saddam Hussein used to hang out with him at NASCAR races."

Libby the Liberal says: "What??? Jimmy Carter did not say that!"

I say: "Yes, he did! Fatty Fatfinger said so in his latest movie!"

It's actually kind of fun- insert your own B.S. arguments and have at it. You can keep yourself busy for hours...

Before I went to Iraq, I was 100% sure that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Nobody ever tried to tell me that Saddam was in any way responsible for that terrible day. We weren't going there to avenge 9/11, folks. We went there to help prevent the next 9/11. It was the second step in what is sure to be a long drawn out campaign that is likely to see even more destinations in the mideast. If you can't figure that out, and you're still foaming at the mouth over all those lies that were never told- well, then, that's you're own fault...

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Moving Forward


I don't anticipate this getting much coverage in the much maligned MSM, so I thought I'd do my part to help spread the good word. Seems our friends at MoveAmericaForward.org are taking action. Make sure you watch the video link at the bottom.

Update:

I was wrong. I thought Cindy Sheehan was doing our country a disservice. But then I read this unbelievable post by one Scott Randolph (via LGF). Cindy Sheehan just might be the beacon of enlightenment that we've been waiting for all this time. Keep up the great work, Cindy- and thanks to Scott Randolph for putting it all into perspective. And you must read the comments. I'm telling you, there's hope for the good guys- no matter how the MSM tries to spin things.

Speaking of the MSM...

Did anybody catch this article that appeared in the NYTimes of all places? Here's a clip (my emphasis added):




Editors Ponder How to Present a Broad Picture of Iraq

By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE

Rosemary Goudreau, the editorial page editor of The Tampa Tribune, has received the same e-mail message a dozen times over the last year.

"Did you know that 47 countries have re-established their embassies in Iraq?" the anonymous polemic asks, in part. "Did you know that 3,100 schools have been renovated?"

"Of course we didn't know!" the message concludes. "Our media doesn't tell us!"

Ms. Goudreau's newspaper, like most dailies in America, relies largely on The Associated Press for its coverage of the Iraq war. So she finally forwarded the e-mail message to Mike Silverman, managing editor of The A.P., asking if there was a way to check these assertions and to put them into context. Like many other journalists, Mr. Silverman had also received a copy of the message.

Ms. Goudreau's query prompted an unusual discussion last month in New York at a regular meeting of editors whose newspapers are members of The Associated Press. Some editors expressed concern that a kind of bunker mentality was preventing reporters in Iraq from getting out and explaining the bigger picture beyond the daily death tolls.

"The bottom-line question was, people wanted to know if we're making progress in Iraq," Ms. Goudreau said, and the A.P. articles were not helping to answer that question.



Really? Ya think?

I posted the email in question way back when.

John Hockenberry Confuses Everyone

During his appearance on the Daily Show, John Hockenberry mentioned that I was "retired from the Army and living on the west coast." He was just trying to help protect my "secret identity."

Alas, I'm not quite retired- that would mean I'm getting a pension for having put in over 20 years of service. That would be nice, but no- I just resigned (after 8 wonderful years- the 4 years at West Point don't count) and became a civilian. As for living on the west coast- well, let's just say I'm somewhere east of the west coast. Many thanks to all the people who have offered to buy me a drink in Sacremento and have me over for BBQ's in San Diego. Maybe someday!

UPDATE!

An anonymous reader just alerted me to the fact that the Hockenberry interview is online at the Daily Show Video Archives. Go check it out!

Thanks for the tip, whoever you are...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Gunnery Sergeant Darrell Carver Revisited


I always like to see the comments that pop up here in the Forum- some are witty, some are brilliant, some are heartwarming, and some- well, some are just comments. But today a comment surfaced on an old post, and it really struck me. It reminded me of why I started this site, and it reinforced my commitment to keep it going. Since it was an old post- buried deep in the archives- I'm going to repost the entire entry, and I'll follow it with the comment that just surfaced. Trust me, you'll understand exactly what I mean.

Below is a short article [written by Owen West] about a Marine shot 4 times and then fragged in Fallujah. The sacrifice by all the Marines and soldiers in Operation Al Fajr--including those who fought in the April battle--brought extraordinary results. Fallujah has turned from hornet's nest into one of the more peaceful cities in the triangle. Indeed, the excision of the terrorists in Fallujah is directly correlated to the overall drop in violence and the spectacular election. Semper Fi

The Few

The path Darrell Carver chose out of his Salt Lake City high school was similar to that taken by other overachieving classmates. He'd married his high school sweetheart when he was 20, had three wonderful kids by the time he was 27, and was leading an elite team for his company by the time he was 28, sating his mild addictions to fitness and hunting when the occasional free hour presented itself.

But Carver followed a calling imbued in just a sliver of the population. On November 20th, 2004, while most of his peers were in office parks earning money with keyboards, Darrell Carver was approaching a tin-plated door in the heart of Fallujah, Iraq, with his rifle stock held firm in the crook of a shoulder tattooed with "USMC" and two terrorists praying to end him on the other side.

Gunnery Sergeant Carver is a member of an elite slice of America that has emerged on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq: the warrior class. Drawn from across the socio-economic spectrum by an uncommon confluence of duty, adventure, and martial spirit, this all-volunteer cadre has demonstrated that it belongs among history's elite fighting units. That men like Carver choose to serve in combat arms, a deadly profession in which few transferable civilian skills are gleaned, says a lot about the fabric of the country. Before September 11th, America carried a soft and feckless reputation among its mortal enemies. Beyond low-risk tactics skewed toward technology-cruise missiles, invisible bombers-they concluded that America had no will to fight. Now those enemies are meeting America's core strength: young men with an innate desire to carry rifles for a living.

The ferocity and direction of the attack into Fallujah shattered the enemy's initial defensive plan. It was left to infantrymen like Carver to rip the terrorists out of closets and bedrooms were they had scattered in small packs.

On one side of the doors stood men who believed they would be judged how they lived. On the other lay men who believed they would be judged on how they died. How these two groups of men, who were more alike than different as boys, had traveled tens of years and thousands of miles to kill each other was best answered by the professional philosopher. For a professional warrior like Carver, combat was the natural culmination of moral divergence. A murderous enemy had infected Fallujah. Politicians could not excise them. Marines and soldiers could.

Fallujah had been parsed into familial nicknames. Clearing the Upper West Side had been hard enough, but when Carver's platoon was sent to help the effort in Queens, a particularly nasty corner of the city near the Euphrates that was littered with corpses of Iraqi "collaborators" who had been executed, it seemed as if a terrorist was hidden in every third house, hell-bent on dragging a Marine into the ground with him.

It was "tiring work," as Carver puts it. For most Americans, the office is a cubicle tract where conflict is limited to harsh emails. For a Marine, the office is a smoldering, stinking, ear-splitting arena filled with young men who are trying to kill each other.

The battle was an intensely personal, face-to-face fight inside individual rooms where the screams often muted the gunfire and the crawl spaces muted the American technological edge. This meant that a Marine had to burst into a room with his rifle shouldered, steady his barrel on a concealed target, then break the trigger before the screaming lunatic trying to ambush him could manage an aimed shot and a proper "Allahu Akbar!"

If anything, the madness of it just made the Marines angrier. Everything in Fallujah was upside-down. Religious leaders demanded violence. Stray cats feasted on fallen men. Zarqawi had constructed a torture chamber twenty-five feet away from a small amusement park.

Even the smoke settled strangely. In his first firefight on November 20, Carver charged into a room behind a grenade. The acrid dust had climbed the walls and spilled across the ceiling, broiling in the top half of the bedroom instead of falling. He heard the terrorist shuffle toward his men. Instead of dropping into a firing position that might have exposed him, Carver leapt up into the smog and onto a bed. He ended the threat.

In the second house, the door swung open and there were two terrorists lumbering toward Carver like zombies in some horror movie. He and the other force reconnaissance Marines had honed their shooting skills over hundreds of hours and thousands of bullets. Four bullets did the trick.

The day was an hour old.

The Marine team crept down the hallway of the third house in a human centipede stack bristling with rifles. Carver had moved into point position and now he stood outside another door wondering what the hell was waiting for him inside. Hundreds of doors opened already. Hundreds more to go.

He opened the door with his left hand, keeping his front sight post moving with his eyes. Someone coming out of a closet, firing an AK-47. The flat, booming report reverberated under his body armor. Carver had to shoot the terrorist several times before he flopped onto the spent casings.

Now more firing from behind the door on his left. Two rounds slammed into his thigh and another passed clean through his calf. They felt more like baseball bats than hot needles. Carver wheeled to maintain his balance and center his weapon. Saw smoking holes in the door. Another bullet popped through and smacked his shoulder, ending any hope of remaining on his feet.

It was an enemy grenade that saved him. Without it, Carver would have tumbled inside the room, into the kill zone. Instead the grenade came bouncing out toward his boots, as mesmerizing as a giant wasp, and blew him clear out of the room.

Twenty-one minutes later Navy doctors were plucking dozens of fragments from his body and sewing the four quarter-sized holes. Twenty-one hours later Carver checked out of the field hospital with a crutch in his armpit instead of a rifle and the hazy memory of a phone call to his wife, Holly.

Holly got the call in the afternoon. "Honey I got hurt," her husband told her. Of all the casualty notifications given to family members, a phone call from the wounded warrior is the best. Phone calls from doctors or officers are bad. Doorbells are the worst. Darrell was now one of the twelve thousand casualties in Iraq. One of the lucky ones. The untold story of war is the burden shouldered by the families. Devotion to their soldiers is well known. But the hidden buttress of an all-volunteer war is devotion to the cause. Families are serving the country every bit as fervently as their soldiers. Without their commitment to the war, second and third deployments to Iraq would be zero sum decisions for soldiers. "If he had to go back (for a third tour), I support him," says Holly. "It is worth the sacrifice of separation to help the people of Iraq."

The costs of the war on terror may not be spread wide, but they are deep. Families like the Carvers are willing to shoulder the costs of the national interest for the lowest risk-adjusted wage in America and zero fanfare. In other societies, warriors are motivated by externalized power. Ours are motivated by internal duty. Geopolitics aside, the country should be thankful that it has cultivated a tiny warrior class that can dominate an overseas battlefield while upholding its best values.

Owen West, a trader for Goldman, Sachs, served with the Marines in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

And now the comment I was telling you about-

I have just gotten the chance to read this article about my brother and it really brings the reality of what war is. Darrell and my brother dustin and I were all present for the war in Iraq at its opening stages. being from a family with one sailor and two marines is a source of great pride.

My younger brothers and I would like to thank all the families of our Fallen and wounded and wish them our best

-MA2 (AW) Ryan Carver

Thank you, Ryan- and thanks to your whole family for all that they do for this great nation of ours...

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Mohammed's Message to Cindy Sheehan


Mohammed from Iraq the Model posted this must-read message to Cindy Sheehan. As I read it, I thought back to all the stories that my Iraqi friends would tell me about the "dark ages" under Saddam's rule. During one supply run in downtown Mosul, the shop owner's sister (a widow and mother of 4) told me about the time she and her young children watched as Saddam's henchmen showed up at their door, dragged her husband into the front yard, and shot him in the back of the head. He was an Iraqi Air Force pilot, and he was suspected of saying "bad things" about the regime. Stories like that found us pretty much anywhere we went. People would wait their turn to thank us with tears in their eyes- sharing stories of loved ones who never lived to see their nation on the cusp of freedom.

Mohammed's post took me back to all that. I wish Cindy Sheehan would go to Iraq. I wish she would talk to the people who gained so much from her son's sacrifice. From where she stands now, she can only hear the voices of the terrorists who so capably use our media as a global megaphone- drowning out the voices of all those good Iraqis who are saying "thank you."

No, you won't find Mohammed's message in any newspapers. You see, he chooses not to precede his message with videos of violent car bomb attacks or grotesque beheadings- so he is ignored. But I'll give him some press- seems only fair, since he represents the vast majority of the Iraqis out there:

Freedom is not an American thing and it's not an Iraqi thing, it's what unites us as human beings. We refuse all kinds of restrictions and that's why we fought and still fighting everyday in spite of the swords in the hands of the cavemen who want us dead or slaves for their evil masters.

We cried out of joy the day your son and his comrades freed us from the hands of the devil and we went to the streets not believing that the nightmare is over.We practiced our freedom first by kicking and burning the statues and portraits of the hateful idol who stole 35 years from the life of a nation.

For the first time air smelled that beautiful, that was the smell of freedom.

His blood didn't go in vain; your son and our brethren are drawing a great example of selflessness.

God bless his free soul and God bless the souls of his comrades who are fighting evil.

God bless the souls of Iraqis who suffered and died for the sake of freedom.

God bless all the freedom lovers on earth.



Read the whole post.

Thanks to Blackfive for pointing the way...

Suicide Bomber Eats Lead

Thunder 6 gives a fantastic account of a suicide bombing that resulted in nothing but a suicide.

We didn’t know it at the time, but the sound we heard in the CP wasn’t a mournful cry - it was the sound of victory. Thanks to the alert soldiers in Demon Company the only life that ended that day was the suicide bombers. All that will mark the bombers bitter existence is a scorch mark on a worthless piece of road. A scorch mark that will forever recount his dismal failure.


Read the whole thing- this guy can write like no other...

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Cindy Sheehan


Several people have asked for my thoughts on this, so I figured I'd give it a go. This is one of those ugly subjects that nobody likes to touch, for fear of coming across as callous, cold-hearted, insensitive, etc. Not fun, but it's a subject that needs to be dealt with...

Cindy Sheehan has a right to voice her opinion, and I respect that. If she wants to go to the Crawford Ranch or the White House lawn and claim that President Bush killed Casey Sheehan (her son), then so be it. I have no problem with her. I'll disagree with her (I think Islamofascists killed her son), but I won't argue with or question the actions of a grieving mother. I couldn't even fathom what she's going through...

My problem is with the media vultures who descend on her like a cash cow from heaven. They give her all the credibility in the world (despite some serious credibility issues) and make her the face of the "mourning mother" in America. But why does she get all the attention? Why not give some equal press to the mothers who still support the cause that their son or daughter died for? Clearly the family members who support the war make up the vast majority of those who have fallen loved ones. Just look at Casey Sheehan's other family members.

I'll tell you why these people don't get equal coverage- because it wouldn't sell. It wouldn't stir the "emotional pot" the way Cindy Sheehan's story does. It wouldn't get the big ratings and all those key demographics that the networks so desperately covet. And so now Cindy has become a pawn for terrorist apologists like Michael Moore to exploit beyond the limits of their wildest imaginations. People will listen to Cindy, they gloat to themselves- her son died in the war! Yay for us! We have a ringer! It's sickening.

The one thing we need to remember here is that Cindy's opinion is more controversial than what we typically see from families of the fallen- not more credible. She is using her son, a fallen hero, as a prop in a misguided campaign against her own country- that is her right and she has to live with her actions.

Congrats, Michael Moore- you got yourself another one...

Wow- The Daily Show!


That was really something. If you missed it last night, you have a chance to catch it today at 10 am eastern and again at 8 pm eastern. Watch it.

I just read Kate's take on it, and I think she says it way better than I ever could:

Last night on the Daily Show, John Stewart interviewed John Hockenberry on his upcoming article in Wired on military bloggers. Stewart has been reading milblogs and was enthusiastic and complimentary on the quality of writing - which is no surprise to those who follow the blogosphere. He seemed puzzled that the mainstream had ignored their stories - also no surprise to those who follow the blogosphere.

Hockenberry explained how he became interested - relating an incident about running head to head with a then little known milblogger "2Slick" - and how badly it came back to bite him...

...They quickly made amends, 2Slick is retired and back in the States, and there is a "convert" in the media...

...Hats off to John Hockenberry - I don't know if his email (John.Hockenberry@nbcuni.com) still functions, but I sent him a congratulations and thank you. You don't often see that much humility and integrity in journalism, but he displayed it last night.


So true. He's a class guy, and I'd love to see people swamp him with appreciative emails- his current email address is hockoo@earthlink.net. Seriously, how often have you seen mainstream journalists make that kind of effort to publicize the stories that aren't being reported? Thanks, John- we appreciate it...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Assignment: Daily Show


To all Milblog readers and writers out there:

Tonight you need to watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Yes, he leans a little too far to the left on most issues, but he's usually pretty funny and the show is entertaining. His guest tonight will be none other than John Hockenberry, an emmy-winning journalist who just wrote a great article about Milblogs for Wired magazine. He'll be talking about the article and how he came to be interested in the world o' milblogs.

Sure, Mr. Hockenberry and I got off to a rough start, but now he's a friend of the Forum and a friend of the milblog community- so let's all support him by watching the show tonight.

11 pm Eastern on Comedy Central.

Be there or be square.

Another Email

Since so many people seemed to appreciate my "reader mail" segment yesterday, I thought I'd share a more serious and thoughtful email in today's post. I received it just before I left for my honeymoon, so my apologies for taking so long to respond. Here goes:

Hello:

I purchased a copy of "Desert Sky" awhile ago. I apologize for not watching it yet. The past few months have not been conducive for viewing a DVD about OIF in Iraq. I have some time off, so I plan to watch it sometime over the next 2 weeks. If my husband and I have any questions, are you still willing to answer such questions, via e-mail? I know you mentioned this, but that was many months ago. Is it an invasion of privacy to ask your first name, as you said you were in this film. thank you for your service

"L&H"

Well, thank you L&H! The money you spent on that Desert Sky DVD went to a scholarship fund for children of fallen soldiers- you are great Americans! I am absolutely willing to answer any questions that anyone may have about the DVD. Since much of the film was produced while I was in Kuwait (serving out a second tour), I didn't get to participate in it as much as I would have liked- but I'm happy to report that I (along with some help from my aunt and a few cousins) was able to contribute from afar. Eric did a great job putting that film together, and I'm just proud to be associated with it. As for revealing my "true identity"- I'll give you the same answer that I gave John Hockenberry when he offered to mention my name on the Daily Show tonight:

...As a condition of starting the blog, I had to make a promise to my wife that I would always remain anonymous. Why? She's convinced that if Karl Rove ever leaked my identity, we would immediately find ourselves besieged by crazed anti-war lefties and bloodthirsty radical Islamists- all fighting for first dibs on my spleen. Personally, I find that scenario a bit far-fetched, but as I'm sure you know- the lady is always right...

But trust me- my identity is not a factor. Watch the film, enjoy it, and send me your questions and/or comments. The ones I like will be answered right here on the Forum. Somewhere in my responses, I promise to mention how cool you are for buying the DVD, watching it, and taking the time to write me about it.

Yesterday's Email

"Hockenbone" (Not to be confused with the aforementioned John Hockenberry) seemed to generate quite a response. You'll note a comment from Froggy (of the excellent Froggy Ruminations blog) asking for the guy's email and IP addresses. I was confused when I saw this, because I was certain that I had posted his email address- but then I looked up there and sure enough- no email address. What gives? Can the "Blogger people" take that stuff down? Or am I just getting old before my time? In any case, here's the contact info for "Hockenbone"- fire for effect!

Email address: thockenbone2002@yahoo.com

IP address: 206.190.37.57

Monday, August 08, 2005

I've Got Mail!


Since I started this blog almost one year ago, I've received thousands of emails from good people all over the world. Most of the emails were very kind and from the heart, and I just want you all to know that they are greatly appreciated. As an example of just how thoughtful most of you are out there, I'd like to show you something that came to my inbox just last night:

Subject: thank you

Just a moment of time to say thank you for your service and dedication to our country. God Bless you - and may life bring you the best of everything.

Isn't that nice? Well I'd just like to take this opportunity to publicly say "you're welcome" to Paula (the nice woman who sent me that), and to thank her for the kind words. Thanks, Paula!

Next, I'll share with you a far less typical email- one that I received a while back. I'm sure he's a decent person who means well, but something about his tone made me feel like he might not be a big fan of the United States. Decide for yourself as I answer his email publicly, point-by-point:

From: "hockenbone"

Subject: thanks

thanks for all your courage in fighting GWB's not so secret family fued.

You're very welcome, Sir. I prefer to call it the "Global War on Terror," but we all have our own ways of saying things. I don't know that I'd claim to have any courage, though- I just did my job. But thanks for assuming such a thing. You're very kind!

thanks for helping oust the horrible dictator that our government created.

No problem! I agree that our government is responsible for creating many things in this world (the Internet, ways to fight world hunger, cures for lots of diseases, freedom for those who otherwise wouldn't have had it, etc.), but I'll bet Mr. Hussein's parents had a lot more to do with creating said dictator than our government did. But I'm not a doctor or a scientist, so you may well be correct!

thanks for protecting the saudi royal family and lining dick cheney's pockets once again.

Thank you for giving me so much credit! I feel like I helped to protect a lot of people from a lot of bad things, and of course that makes me feel good. If you were especially concerned for the Saudi royals, then I'm glad to have helped put your mind at ease about that. I, for one, was more concerned about protecting my buddies on the battlefield as well as my friends and family back home, but we all have our priorites. Thanks for assuming wealth and wisdom on my part, but I must confess- I never did make any financial contributions to the Bush/Cheney campaign last year- but- if I'd had any extra disposable income at that time, I think that would have been an excellent investment on my part- Bush and Cheney are exactly what this country needs right now, and I'm glad that you and the vast majority of American voters agree!

thanks so much for not finding osama bin laughin'.

Wow, I could thank you for the same thing, but I actually think it's not a good thing that he hasn't been found yet. Sorry to disagree with you on this one, but I think you and I both should keep an eye out for him- he's bad news, trust me! I think you spelled his last name incorrectly, but who cares, right? The guy's a jerk.

thanks for killing inocent people so you can play out some f***ed up little boy army game that still obviously haunts you to this very day.

I'm sorry, but I think you're thinking about someone else here- never killed anyone (innocent or guilty), never played army games when I was a little boy (but I'll bet that would've been fun!), and the only thing that haunts me these days is the fact that celebrities in California can kill anyone they feel like killing, without having to worry about silly things like "justice" or "rule of law." That's scary, man! If you find yourself leaving a restaurant with Robert Blake, you'd better watch out! He just might have to "go back and get his gun." Whoa!

did your daddy stop the hugging machine a little too early?

My dad never bought me a hugging machine (how much do those things go for, btw?), so he wouldn't have had any way of stopping it- early, late, or whenever. I wouldn't have known those things existed if you hadn't mentioned it- do you still use yours?

thanks for still not getting any pussy.

Once again, you're thinking of the wrong guy. My wife and I own a cat- he's 3 years old and we love him very much. And why would you thank me for not having a cat? I think it's an awesome thing to own a cat! You should go out and get one- seriously!

you suck as a human being for even considering the military.

I know, I know- you got me there. I shouldn't have even considered it- I should have just signed up without ever having given it a thought! Trust me, if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn't have considered it- I would have just done it. You are obviously wise beyond your years, but some of us "slower folks" learn as we go.

what would your little jesus think of your behavior?

Again- wrong guy. I don't have any children yet, but even if I did- I don't think "Jesus" would be the name I'd choose for my son. Obviously, "Jesus" was an acceptable Jewish name 2,000 years ago, but you just don't find many Jews named "Jesus" these days...

you will burn in hell for your deeds.

No argument there- let's just say I was young and needed the money.

f**k you and f**k the marines and f**k republicans and f**k democrats for that matter.

Hey, no need to get political here- even if you are bipartisan! But I am happy to be connected in some way with the Marines (I greatly admire them), Republicans (I admire most of them) and even Democrats (Joe Lieberman is cool, I guess). So thank you!

f**k you!

Wow, you see fit to give me a 2nd emphasis? Over the Marines and all those politicians! Thanks again, Sir!

you arent protecting my family from anything you c**ks**king warmonger.

True- but if you gave me your family's contact information, I'd be happy to protect them! Just showing them a copy of your email would probably alert them to a few realizations that just might serve to protect them somewhere down the road- just guessing here. And please- I prefer "former Army Aviator."

i cant wait till they send you home in a f**kin bodybag!

Well, I don't know that I was in that much of a hurry to get home- but thanks for your obvious concern, and you'll be happy to learn that they sent me home several months ago!

you deserve to die for your involvement in this dirty f**kin mess.

Well, the way I see it- we're all going to die someday whether we deserve it or not. Thanks for the note, and please write again soon!

Well, that was fun- I hope you enjoyed his email as much as I did!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Bad Blogger


I just read an interesting article about a National Guardsman who recently found himself in some hot water after blogging against his mission while stationed in Iraq. I'm certain that we'll hear some tired old arguments about "free speech" and "every soldier has a right to an opinion" and blah blah words words ACLU blah blah Bush is a big stupidhead words words. Well it's all a bunch of crap.

This man is drawing a paycheck, and he's expected to perform a service in return for getting paid. As a former member of his profession, I'm well aware of what that service entails. Duty, Honor, Country- I won't bore you with the details.

Think of it in terms of football. Keyshawn Johnson wasn't getting paid to simply catch the ball when it was thrown to him- he was getting paid to help win football games. That was the expectation when he was hired. He was paid handsomely for his services. But when he started mouthing off about how bad the coaching was and how miserable his job had become, he was in effect doing the opposite of helping to win games- he had become a distraction to the team, a burden on the coaching staff, and so his employers wisely decided to cut him loose. But that's football. If they don't win games, then oh well- there's always next year.

What happens when Leonard's anti-mission attitude and public denunciation of his own organization cause his unit to become distracted? Can they just suck it up, and hope for a better season next year? No. Unfortunately, when selfish publicity-seeking morons like Leonard infect an organization within the ranks of the military, they can certainly end up getting good people killed. It's simply a matter of fact. His chain of command acted appropriately as far as I can discern, although I'd have probably been less tolerant if I were his commander. I'll have to see how it all shakes out.

Don't be fooled by this clown. Don't commend him for his "service"- admonish him for endangering the lives of good soldiers in a quest for publicity and political gain. That's right- political gain. He plans to run for the U.S. Senate when he returns home. Read all about it, my friends. He's just another pathetic John Kerry wannabe looking to sacrifice good people on his way to fame and fortune. I hope he fails, and I hope he rots in hell for attempting to use our nation's military as a credibility-boosting political podium in time of war.

This reminds me of an old rant I once wrote about the most liberal Senator from Massachusetts. Here's a blast from the past just for you, Leonard- enjoy your Article 15, my friend!

John Kerry Blows
-A Rant by 2Slick

John Kerry served more than most and should therefore be honored, right? Wrong! How about our "heroic soldiers" who abused the prisoners in Iraq and took the photos for all the world to see? They served more than most people. Like Kerry, some of them might have actually performed an act of courage here and there. Should they be honored? Absolutely not!!! Their lame-brained sex games caused countless insurgents to take up arms against us and kill who-knows-how-many American soldiers. To make a blanket statement along the lines of "anyone who served should be honored" is just plain ignorant. There are bad apples in every bunch, and the sad truth is that there is a small minority of soldiers in every American war that did more to hurt the cause than to help. John Kerry is one of those bad apples. "Why" you ask? Well, it has nothing to do with the fact that he lied to get medals.

As a leader/officer in wartime, one must ensure that soldiers know one thing above all else- that their leaders are looking out for them. The soldiers must believe that the ones in charge will devote every last breath, drop of blood, bead of sweat to ensure the soldiers' safety during the course of the mission. John Kerry did no such thing. He got 3 band-aid wounds, and promptly headed home. Remember- great leaders like Ollie North refused Purple Hearts so that they could stay and lead their troops. John Kerry went after those Purple Hearts like a man possessed. One commander refused to give him one, so he waited until he had a different commander and then asked again. What kind of message did that send to his sailors and all the other enlisted sailors in his unit? I'll tell you what message it sent- "officers look out for themselves." Officers will get rattled and say "OK good luck guys! I'm outta here!!"

Apparently a handful (maybe 9 out of about 300?) of the sailors he served with have forgiven him. Understandable, given the fact that he delivered those troops a national cheering audience that was more than 30 years overdue (at the DNC in Boston). But I'll tell you who will NEVER forgive him for what he did- the officers who served with him. He complicated their efforts, he hurt their unit's morale, he put their lives in danger, and he quickly rubbed salt in their wounds by coming home and bashing the ones who were brave enough to stay behind and do their duty. He had an anti-war agenda before he even joined the Navy. He used his credibility as an officer to propagate outrageous theories that hurt the ones who were still held captive, and caused years of unfair bias and hard feelings toward thousands of brave and honorable vets after they returned home.

He did all of this in order to win political fame and favor in the Democratic Party. It was his ticket to the big time, and he cashed it without a second thought. Reprehensible in every sense of the word. Say what you want about whether or not he deserved his medals- I could care less. As a leader in the US Military, he was an insult to our profession. He would have served his country much better by never having gone to Vietnam.