May 30, 2011

Dress Blues

Staff Sgt. Jason Rogers came home Thursday, April 14 2011, his body borne upon a sea of waving American flags and hands held tightly in salute for the Brandon, MS Marine killed in Afghanistan earlier this month.

The following video is MHP Trooper Elmo Townsend's view as his dash cam recorded the escort from Airport Road and along U.S. 80, as hundreds of onlookers gathered to pay their respects.

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May 02, 2011

From the heart of Afghanistan

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September 27, 2006

Sneaky Marines

Mary sends four images of a camouflaged Marine helicopter along with the comment, "Look closely."

MarineChopper1.jpg
MarineChopper2.jpg

MarineChopper3.jpg

MarineChopper4.jpg

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September 22, 2006

Pilot's Delight

Steve R forwards this story about a C-130 pilot flying in Iraq. It had no attribution, but I found a page that claims:

My name is Major Mike Hampton with the 115th AS, Channel Islands "Hollywood Guard." I am a C-130 pilot and the author. The story was originally called, "An excerpt from the forthcoming novel, ‘The Great Hamptini’."

It's an interesting read - just chock full o' metaphor and simile.

There I was at six thousand feet over central Iraq, two hundred eighty knots and we're dropping faster than Paris Hilton's panties. It's a typical September evening in the Persian Gulf; hotter than a rectal thermometer and I'm sweating like a priest at a Cub Scout meeting.

But that's neither here nor there. The night is moonless over Baghdad tonight, and blacker than a Steven King novel. But it's 2003, folks, and I'm sporting the latest in night-combat technology. Namely, hand-me-down night vision goggles (NVGs) thrown out by the fighter boys. Additionally, my 1962 Lockheed C-130E Hercules is equipped with an obsolete, yet, semi-effective missile warning system (MWS). The MWS conveniently makes a nice soothing tone in your headset just before the missile explodes into your airplane. Who says you can't polish a turd?

At any rate, the NVGs are illuminating Baghdad International Airport like the Las Vegas Strip during a Mike Tyson fight. These NVGs are the cat's ass. But I've digressed.

The preferred method of approach tonight is the "random shallow".

This tactical maneuver allows the pilot to ingress the landing zone in an unpredictable manner, thus exploiting the supposedly secured perimeter of the airfield in an attempt to avoid enemy surface-to-air-missiles and small arms fire. Personally, I wouldn't bet my pink ass on that theory but the approach is fun as hell and that's the real reason we fly it.

We get a visual on the runway at three miles out, drop down to one thousand feet above the ground, still maintaining two-hundred-eighty knots.

Now the fun starts. It's pilot appreciation time as I descend the mighty Herc to six hundred feet and smoothly, yet very deliberately, yank into a sixty degree left bank, turning the aircraft ninety degrees offset from runway heading. As soon as we roll out of the turn, I reverse turn to the right a full two-hundred-seventy degrees in order to roll out aligned with the runway. Some aeronautical genius coined this maneuver the "Ninety/Two-Seventy". Chopping the power during the turn, I pull back on the yoke just to the point my nether regions start to sag, bleeding off energy in order to configure the pig for landing.

"Flaps Fifty! Landing Gear Down! Before Landing Checklist!" I look over at the copilot and he's shaking like a cat shitting on a sheet of ice. Looking further back at the navigator, and even through the NVGs, I can clearly see the wet spot spreading around his crotch.

Finally, I glance at my steely-eyed flight engineer. His eyebrows rise in unison as a grin forms on his face. I can tell he's thinking the same thing I am: "Where do we find such fine young men?"

"Flaps One Hundred!" I bark at the shaking cat. Now it's all aim point and airspeed. Aviation 101, with the exception there's no lights. I'm on NVGs, it's Baghdad, and now tracers are starting to crisscross the black sky.

Naturally, and not at all surprisingly, I grease the Goodyears on brick-one of Runway 33 Left, bring the throttles to ground idle, and then force the props to full reverse pitch. Tonight, the sound of freedom is my four Hamilton Standard propellers chewing through the thick, putrid, Baghdad air. The huge, one-hundred-thirty-thousand pound, lumbering, whisper pig comes to a lurching stop in less than two thousand feet. Let's see a Viper do that!

We exit the runway to a welcoming committee of government-issued Army grunts. It's time to download their beans and bullets and letters from their sweethearts, look for war booty, and of course, urinate on Saddam's home.

Walking down the crew entry steps with my lowest-bidder, Beretta 92F 9 millimeter strapped smartly to my side, I look around and thank God, not Allah, I'm an American and I'm on the winning team.

Then I thank God I'm not in the Army.

Knowing once again I've cheated death, I ask myself, "What in the hell am I doing in this mess?" Is it Duty, Honor, and Country? You bet your ass.

Or could it possibly be for the glory, the swag, and not to mention, chicks dig the Air Medal.

There's probably some truth there too.

But now is not the time to derive the complexities of the superior, cerebral properties of the human portion of the aviator-man-machine model. It is however, time to get out of this shit-hole. "Hey, copilot, clean yourself up! And how's 'bout the Before Starting Engines Checklist�"

God, I love this job!

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July 27, 2006

Dear Maxie

Vietnam Vet Posts Letters From War Online
Writer Hopes People Get Understanding Of War

UPDATED: 10:45 am EDT July 13, 2006

LEAWOOD, Kan. -- A Vietnam veteran has posted his personal letters from the war online.

Kansas City, Mo., television station KMBC reported that the letters are ones Gary Canant wrote to his wife just after they were married.

Canant spent eight months in Vietnam in 1968. He left behind Maxie, the woman he had married just 18 days earlier.

"Gary's letters just kept me alive because when he left for Vietnam, a part of me felt like I died," Maxie Canant said.

Maxie Canant kept every letter she received. There are about 200 missives in all, and now they are being posted on the Internet at DearMaxie.com.

[...]

Gary Canant said that he decided to create the Web site after his son, Scott, was sent to Iraq with the National Guard.

Via WFTV.

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November 10, 2005

Happy birthday, USMC

Steve writes, "This is from my jarhead brother." (His brother has been the source of several other dispatches.)

Happy Birthday to all Marines!

I would like to report to you that your Marine Corps is doing well here in Iraq. Those of us on active duty today continue to strive to uphold the tremendous legacy we inherited from countless other Marines throughout our 230 year history.

We have been in Iraq for a little over 8 months now. We are really beginning to see the fruits of our efforts. The hard core insurgents are having great difficulty maintaining their network of command and control and we have severely limited their freedom of movement throughout western Iraq. We are responsible for the Al Anbar Province (the most dangerous in Iraq - the home of the Sunni insurgency). We have virtually clamped down on the western Euphrates River Valley, stretching from Baghdad out to the Syrian border (to include Fallujah, Ramadi, Hit, Hadithah, Rawah, Al Qaim, Husaybah, et al). Hopefully you are seeing and hearing about some of the good things that are happening out here in the media back in the States.

I've forwarded a copy of an email I sent to my Marines this morning here in Iraq. You would be proud of them . . . they are doing great things.

We will continue to do our best to honor the service of all Marines to our Corps and Country and will pause to remember them and all other Veterans, both today on our birthday and tomorrow on Veteran's Day. Enjoy our 230th birthday and Veterans Day tomorrow.

Semper Fidelis!

Mike

USMC

-----Original Message-----
From: Rudolph Col Michael (GCE G4 AC/S)
Sent: Thursday, November 10, 2005 9:04 AM
Subject: FW: November 10, 2005

HAPPY BIRTHDAY G-4 MARINES!

You continue to do great things for your Country and your Corps here in Iraq. Thank you for your sacrifice and contributions! Your efforts are just the latest in our long history of excellence in defending freedom and certainly fit right in with the legacy of our Corps. I am proud to serve with you here in your 2d Marine Division G-4.

The many behind-the-scenes actions that you engage in every day are truly making a difference as evidenced by the extremely high logistics readiness of our battalions, regiments, and brigade combat teams. I have mentioned to the Commanding General that our goal in the G-4 is to make Logistics almost "invisible" to him and his commanders. In other words, Logistics is usually visible to commanders when something doesn't go well. So the highest compliment we can receive is that we made Logistics invisible to the Commanders. I believe you are hitting the mark!

Reflect on these accomplishments, remember those that served before us, and never forget those that will not be going home with us. Carry on in honor of their service, sacrifice, and the legacy they have passed on to us.

I want to remind you that as we close in on the Relief in Place and Transfer of Authority to 1st Marine Division and I MEF FWD in February, stay focused on the mission and keeping Logistics off the backs of our Commanders. Keep them in the position of being the demanding customer and then make sure they are supported! Continue to strive to challenge the status quo and improve Logistics support to the Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers of the 2d Marine Division.

Happy 230th birthday and Semper Fidelis.

v/r

mer

P.S. I received this email from a retired Marine friend. He was the Division Supply Officer when I served in 3d Marine Division with 1st Battalion, 6th Marines in 1983 and is still a great American.

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Popps
Sent: Wednesday, November 09, 2005 4:33 PM
To: Mis Amigos
Subject: Fw: November 10, 2005

Have to brag a little on the 230th Birthday

We signed up knowing the risk. Those innocent people in New York didn't go to work thinking there was any kind of risk.
Pvt. Mike Armendariz-Clark, USMC; Afghanastan, 20 September 2001
As reported on page 1 of the New York Times

The safest place in Korea was right behind a platoon of Marines. Lord, how they could fight!
MGen. Frank E. Lowe, USA; Korea, 26 January 1952

Marines know how to use their bayonets. Army bayonets may as well be paper-weights.
Navy Times; November 1994

Why in hell can't the Army do it if the Marines can. They are the same kind of men; why can't they be like Marines.
Gen. John J. "Black Jack" Pershing, USA; 12 February 1918

The United States Marine Corps, with its fiercely proud tradition of excellence in combat, its hallowed rituals, and its unbending code of honor, is part of the fabric of American myth.
Thomas E. Ricks; Making the Corps, 1997

For all of those that have son's or daughter's at bootcamp let me pass on what I found. Let me give you a little background first. When my son left home he had no motivation, he was lazy, slobby, no pride, no self worth. This is the boy that got off the bus March 18th at Parris Island. The man that I met on Thursday for parents day is AWESOME. There is no way I can describe to you all the difference. He looks different, he walks different, he talks different, he has such a sense of bearing and pride all I could do was look at him in awe. Oh yes, the training is hard, what he went through is unimaginable to any one that has not been there. They are definitely taught to be Warriors. Let me tell you the surprise of what else they are taught. My Marine son has better values, better morals, better manners than any one I know. It is so much more than Yes Sir, Yes Mam...so much more. He cares about how he looks, he cares about what he does, and its not a boastful, bad ass thing. He is a true gentleman. I saw patience, and a calmness in him that I have never seen. I could never express my gratitude enough to the Marine Corps for what they have given my son. I know this, I have an 11 year old Devil pup still at home. When the time comes for his turn if I had to I would take him kicking and screaming all the way. Although I'm sure that will not happen. The hero worship I see in my younger sons eyes for his Marine brother tells me I will have two Marines in the family, and I will be one very proud mother.
"Cybil", Mother of a Marine writing to the myMarine Group

The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next five hundred years.
James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy; 23 February 1945
(the flag-raising on Iwo Jima had been immortalized in a photograph by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal)

I have just returned from visiting the Marines at the front, and there is not a finer fighting organization in the world!
General of the Armies Douglas MacArthur; Korea, 21 September 1950

We have two companies of Marines running rampant all over the northern half of this island, and three Army regiments pinned down in the southwestern corner, doing nothing. What the hell is going on?
Gen. John W. Vessey Jr., USA, Chairman of the the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the assault on Grenada, 1983

The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps!
Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of the United States, 1945

Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But the Marines don't have that problem.
Ronald Reagan, President of the United States; 1985

Marines I see as two breeds, Rottweilers or Dobermans, because Marines come in two varieties, big and mean, or skinny and mean. They're aggressive on the attack and tenacious on defense. They've got really short hair and they always go for the throat.
RAdm. "Jay" R. Stark, USN; 10 November 1995

They told (us) to open up the Embassy, or "we'll blow you away." And then they looked up and saw the Marines on the roof with these really big guns, and they said in Somali, "Igaralli ahow," which means "Excuse me, I didn't mean it, my mistake".
Karen Aquilar, in the U.S. Embassy; Mogadishu, Somalia, 1991

For over 221 years our Corps has done two things for this great Nation. We make Marines, and we win battles.
Gen. Charles C. Krulak, USMC (CMC); 5 May 1997

Come on, you sons of bitches! Do you want to live forever?
GySgt. Daniel J. "Dan" Daly, USMC near Lucy-`le-Bocage as he led the 5th Marines' attack into Belleau Wood, 6 June 1918

Gone to Florida to fight the Indians. Will be back when the war is over.
Colonel Commandant Archibald Henderson, USMC in a note pinned to his office door, 1836

Don't you forget that you're First Marines! Not all the communists in Hell can overrun you!
Col. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, USMC
rallying his First Marine Regiment near Chosin Reservoir, Korea, December 1950

Marines die, that's what we're here for. But the Marine Corps lives forever. And that means YOU live forever.
the mythical GySgt. Hartman, USMC; portrayed by GySgt. R. Lee Ermey, a Marine Corps Drill Instructor using his own choice of words in Full Metal Jacket, 1987

You'll never get a Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole! Follow me!
Capt. Henry P. Crowe, USMC; Guadalcanal, 13 January 1943

We are United States Marines, and for two and a quarter centuries we have defined the standards of courage, esprit, and military prowess.
Gen. James L. Jones, USMC (CMC); 10 November 2000

I have only two men out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and a constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold.
1stLt. Clifton B. Cates, USMC
in Belleau Wood, 19 July 1918

I love the Corps for those intangible possessions that cannot be issued: pride, honor, integrity, and being able to carry on the traditions for generations of warriors past.
Cpl. Jeff Sornij, USMC; in Navy Times, November 1994

Courage is endurance for one moment more...
Unknown Marine Second Lieutenant in Vietnam

My only answer as to why the Marines get the toughest jobs is because the average Leatherneck is a much better fighter. He has far more guts, courage, and better officers... These boys out here have a pride in the Marine Corps and will fight to the end no matter what the cost.
2nd Lt. Richard C. Kennard, Peleliu, World War II

A Marine should be sworn to the patient endurance of hardships, like the ancient knights; and it is not the least of these necessary hardships to have to serve with sailors.
Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery

Lying offshore, ready to act, the presence of ships and Marines sometimes means much more than just having air power or ship's fire, when it comes to deterring a crisis. And the ships and Marines may not have to do anything but lie offshore. It is hard to lie offshore with a C-141 or C-130 full of airborne troops.
Gen. Colin Powell, U. S. Army
Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff
During Operation Desert Storm

This was the first time that the Marines of the two nations had fought side by side since the defence of the Peking Legations in 1900. Let it be said that the admiration of all ranks of 41 Commando for their brothers in arms was and is unbounded. They fought like tigers and their morale and esprit de corps is second to none.
Lt Col. D.B. Drysdale, Commanding
41 Commando, Chosen Reservoir, on the 1st Marine Division Division

You cannot exaggerate about the Marines. They are convinced to the point of arrogance, that they are the most ferocious fighters on earth - and the amusing thing about it is that they are.
Father Kevin Keaney
1st Marine Division Chaplain
Korean War

There was always talk of espirit de corps, of being gung ho, and that must have been a part of it. Better, tougher training, more marksmanship on the firing range, the instant obedience to orders seared into men in boot camp.
James Brady, columnist, novelist, press secretary to President Reagan, television personality and Marine

The bended knee is not a tradition of our Corps.
General Alexander A. Vandergrift, USMC to the Senate Naval Affairs Committee, 5 May 1946

By their victory, the 3rd, 4th and 5th Marine Divisions and other units of the Fifth Amphibious Corps have made an accounting to their country which only history will be able to value fully. Among the American who served on Iwo Island, uncommon valor was a common virtue.
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, U.S. Navy

Being ready is not what matters. What matters is winning after you get there.
LtGen Victor H. Krulak, USMC
April 1965

The Marine Corps has just been called by the New York Times, 'The elite of this country.' I think it is the elite of the world.
Admiral William Halsey, U.S. Navy

I still need Marines who can shoot and salute. But I need Marines who can fix jet engines and man sophisticated radar sets, as well.
General Robert E. Cushman, Jr., USMC
Commandant of the Marine Corps, 17 May 1974

I can't say enough about the two Marine divisions. If I use words like 'brilliant,' it would really be an under description of the absolutely superb job that they did in breaching the so-called 'impenetrable barrier.' It was a classic- absolutely classic- military breaching of a very very tough minefield, barbed wire, fire trenches-type barrier.
Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, U. S. Army
Commander, Operation Desert Storm, February 1991

I am convinced that there is no smarter, handier, or more adaptable body of troops in the world.
Prime Minister of Britain Sir Winston Churchhill

The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle.
Gen. John "Black Jack" Pershing, U.S. Army
Commander of American Forces in World War I

Do not attack the First Marine Division. Leave the yellowlegs alone. Strike the American Army.
Orders given to Communist troops in the Korean War;shortly afterward, the Marines were ordered to not wear their khaki leggings.

The American Marines have it [pride], and benefit from it. They are tough, cocky, sure of themselves and their buddies. They can fight and they know it.
General Mark Clark, U.S. Army

They (women Marines) don't have a nickname, and they don't need one. They get their basic training in a Marine atmosphere, at a Marine Post. They inherit the traditions of the Marines. They are Marines.
LtGen Thomas Holcomb, USMC
Commandant of the Marine Corps, 1943

I've always been proud of being a Marine. I won't hesitate to defend the Corps.
Jonathan Winters, comic and Marine

Every Marine is, first and foremost, a rifleman. All other conditions are secondary.
Gen. A. M. Gray, USMC
Commandant of the Marine Corps

A ship without Marines is like a coat without buttons.
Adm. Farragut

If I had one more division like this First Marine Division I could win this war.
General of the Armies Douglas McArthur in Korea,
overheard and reported by Marine Staff Sergeant Bill Houghton, Weapons/2/5

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August 27, 2005

Gates of Fire

Here's a little weekend reading from Michael Yon's blog: Gates of Fire.

It's about a battle in Mosul, Iraq and it's quite a report.

Posted by joke du jour at 07:09 AM | Comments (0)

August 26, 2005

Godspeed, Lance

A quick break for some straight news. My brother sent me an update on his stepson, the Marine, recently:

Lance Corporal Brugger is in town on leave prior to his going back to Iraq in about 2 weeks. ... Just after he returns to Iraq he's supposed to be promoted to Corporal.

I expect the L/CPL will be leaving in the next few days, if he hasn't already. During his first OIF tour, he was stationed at Fallujah. I hear he's going to be stationed near the Syrian border during this second tour, so we're all hoping he returns safely once more.

Good luck and Godspeed, Lance.

We now return to our regularly scheduled nonsense.

Posted by joke du jour at 06:40 PM | Comments (2)

August 13, 2005

Night shift in Iraq

Update: Some people seem to think this clip is intended to be humorous because most of the posts on this blog are funny. But that's not true for this video. It is not amusing nor is it intended to be taken that way.

Steve forwards a video clip with the warning "Not for children" and this note:

This is remarkable film footage. This is a night vision movie from Iraq, showing real live action against Iraqi insurgents. The pictures were taken from an AC130 Specter gunship (plane) 2.5 miles away.

The guys in the picture are setting up a roadside bomb and planning to ambush an American convoy which followed a short while after the pictures were taken. They were setting up for the ambush and were pacing off the distance from the bomb to where the convoy was to pass by. Turn your sound up.

The level of effort these crews put forth to control the enemy's antics is commendable, and their marksmanship with those electronically controlled 40mm cannons is astounding.

Iraqi night

I don't know the source for this clip or who wrote the description. Click the image to see the clip (WMV format; ~2.5mB; 3:33 running time).

Here's info on the AC-130.

Posted by joke du jour at 06:21 AM | Comments (2)

August 06, 2005

Update from Iraq

Steve forwards this message that his dad passed along to him. The message comes from Master Chief Mike Korman; it's fairly lengthy but interesting. (And, speaking of news from-the-field in Iraq, check out Michael Yon's blog.)

Subj: [U] Hello From Iraq Update # 4 - 15JUL05
Date: 7/14/2005 3:26:48 PM Eastern Standard Time

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

Dearest Friends and Family,

It has been two-months since my last update. This is reflective of two things. The first is the pace of work here. I am here to tell you that the people I have working around me to create, train and equip all manner of Iraqi Police and Border forces are just remarkable. I am constantly amazed at how our team seems to get just the right Soldier at just the right time to solve a particular problem.

Just yesterday I traveled to Al Kut, in South Eastern Iraq, by convoy. The convoy was coordinated by a young Soldier who led Marines, Sailors, Airmen and other Soldiers on our critical mission, making all the right decisions all along the way. You can be proud that the generation of American Patriots and Leaders serving in Iraq are doing so ably, in incredibly difficult conditions and will come home to be better citizens and the future leaders of our Nation.

They may not be in Congress or make lots of money (they might though), but in their communities all across America they will make a difference by taking what they learned here to build companies, little league teams, volunteer fire houses, and probably a few political careers. The other thing that is reflective of my separation between emails is the fact that in the last two months we lost some colleagues in our battle here.

Several others have been injured seriously, and others yet are now at Walter Reed Army Medical Center recovering. In early June Colonel Ted Westhusing passed away. He was a Senior member of the CPATT Team, and the highest ranking officer to die in Iraq to date. His death remains under investigation but we, his brothers and sisters in arms, gave the Colonel a deserving send off from this battlefield.


This is the roll call at the Colonels Memorial in Iraq.

Roll Call / Daylight Again
Monday, June 13, 2005, 04:35 AM - The World After September 11
"Roll Call," by MAJ Robert Bateman

We move around a lot in the military, as individuals and collectively. This presents a challenge, because with so many moving parts it is difficult to maintain an account. This is why we conduct roll calls. These are run by our Non-commissioned officers. Normally officers stand beyond the ranks, but under some circumstances they will stand in the ranks for accountability purposes. The command in which I serve has elements of all four services.

"Sergeant Stevens"

"Here Master Chief!"

"Staff Sergeant Michaels"

"Present Master Chief!"

"Chief's voice is booming, though he has not raised his voice. Even restrained it carries, as befits his six-foot three-inches and all-Navy frame. Traditionally the responses are returned at a slightly louder volume. I don't know why, that's just how we do it.

"Lieutenant Colonel Hale"

"Here Master Chief!"

"Colonel Westhusing."

No response.

There was a stiff breeze earlier, but it faded about an hour ago. Enough remains to roll the flag but not enough to make it snap. We broke 115 degrees at around 13:00. That was the temperature in the shade. It is now a little after 16:30. I am in the sun.

"Colonel Ted Westhusing!"

Chief's voice is now sharp, the voice of command. When conducting a roll call, one part of the sacred purview of the NCO corps, there is no quibbling. Even officers pipe up if they stand in the ranks for these formations. Sweat pours down my face. I am a little dehydrated, the sweat is salty and stings my eyes. I do not move. I am at the position of attention. The baked air carried by the light breeze brings no relief, though it carries away the scent. Not a few of us have been working longer hours than is usual, even for a combat zone. Sleep has been secondary. Laundry represented a distant place in anyone's mind. The breeze lifts and the flag rustles. I blink repeatedly.

"Colonel Theodore S. Westhusing."

Once insistent, Master Chief Korman's voice is now resigned. There is no response. There will be no response.

At the front of our formation a rifle, bayonet fixed, stands inverted. Dogtags bearing the name Theodore Westhusing, his blood type, Social Security number, and religious preference hang from the pistol grip. A helmet, with the eagle of a full Colonel on the front, balances atop the butt-stock.

I hear steps behind me. I cannot see them, but I know who is there. A seven man detail, with a single NCO giving direction. With commands given in a low voice the detail stops moving forward and begins to "mark time," marching in place. They come to a halt. Seven rifles charge at once, the spring in the stock driving forward the bolt carrier inside the rifle, and placing a single round of ammunition into the chamber of the weapon.

CRACK!

Lost in thought for a second, I am caught off-guard, even though I knew it was coming. Seven rifles discharged at once. The first volley. They charge again.

CRACK!

For an ad-hoc squad they do pretty well. Seven rifles crashing as one. It is not the Old Guard, but then this is not Arlington. We are in a combat zone, rendering honors to one of our own, as best we can.

CRACK!

Seven men. Three volleys. Twenty-one shots. Only the President of the United States of America receives the same number. Descartes had it wrong with, "Je pense, donc je suis." We are not human because we think. We are human because we remember.

I will remember Colonel Westhusing.




Without a doubt the toughest week for me here personally was getting myself and this command through this tragedy. A few short weeks later we lost one of our Civilian Law Enforcement partners. Ms. Dawn Klecker, a Deputy Sheriff from Oregon, was killed in an IED attack on her HMMWV.

Dawn did everything right, was wearing everything she was supposed to be to protect her, but alas she was taken from us too early. Most recently two of our Soldiers, Major Ken and Sergeant First Class Jeff (First Names Only) were injured in an IED attack on their HMMWV last week. Another case where they did everything right, except get hit by an IED. Ken and Jeff are now at Walter Reed and would ask that you keep them all near your thoughts and prayers.

Korman 1
As to me, well I have taken trips back to Jordan since my last email to you. I was fortunate to visit Petra (think Indiana Jones movies), Jerash (Roman Ruins) and picture above, and the Dead Sea. I also visited Mount Nebo where Moses may have looked to the 'Promised Land'. I visited Suliminayah (a Northern Iraq Kurdish City), Numiniyah again, Kut again, and the Iraq/Syria Border.

The picture below is me and good friend, Marine Master Sergeant Kerry Stratton, as we get ready to continue our trek to the Syrian border through Al Anbar Province. Think badlands. He is home now, enjoying being with family no doubt.

Korman 2

Some of you have asked about life here in the Green Zone, otherwise known as the International Zone. Well, it's not so bad really. We work for 6.5 days per week here normally, 15 hour days are normal. We get a half-day off per week, and most staff use the half-day to catch up on laundry or extra PT. The local calendar has the locals off on Fridays and Saturdays, which goofs things up back home for use, time wise that is.

Our laundry is done for us, and all our meals are cooked for us. There is more food then one could ever eat. There is various dining facility that dot the landscape of the Green Zone. There is the Palace, Al Rashid, Prosperity, Union, Honor (Steel Dragons), and other dining facilities. Some of our troops go to different ones every day but they are fairly standard fare. Most have cheeseburgers and hot dogs every day along with a main line which serves every kind of chicken imaginable.

They also have steak, meat loaf, fish and all the Baskin Robbins ice cream you could want on various days. It is a rotating schedule. Sodas and Gatorade are part of the deal also. On occasion we get a special meal of lobster tail. Near the Post Exchange here, which is smallish, there is a Subway, Burger King, Pizza Inn and a little coffee bar.

The PX in Taji, up north of Baghdad (travel by convoy or helo), is like a Wal-Mart. It has everything one could ever want there. We live in trailers, from the air it looks like an ant farm, which normally house two to a trailer and four would share a bathroom. Believe me considering what folks have in the field I always volunteer any complainers for the next convoy to Fallujah or Ramadi. There are not many complainers.

So, what am I seeing out there in all of my travels. Well, it is still very dangerous. There are too many people here from other countries, some Iraqis too, that want to kill Americans, coalition members and any 'collaborators', their word. You may have read where nearly two-dozen children and a Soldier were killed the other day when some Soldiers were handing out candy to the kids. Very Sad.

There were two bombings here at one of the entrances to the Green Zone just today. What I can tell you is that the local Iraqi Police and Iraqi Soldiers are taking the brunt of the deaths. I read the names of every American that dies here, so please don't read this to mean I am not recognizing the sacrifices of our Patriots. I certainly do. Here is the thing that we recognize. Common sense tells me that the dumb terrorists are already dead or are not smart enough to inflict big damage. The smart ones that are left are more effective and lethal and willing to send others to their deaths. We still here lots of boomers and random gunfire here but it is nearly all outside the Green Zone.

Since my arrival in February there have been no incidents inside the Green Zone. Knock on wood. Now, what of home. Well I can't tell you how much I appreciate each of you out there that write me back and send those prayers my way. You all know that I needed all the help I could get before I got here; every little bit helps. My wonderful partner in life, Caryn, is busy preparing the final details of our fabulous Wedding Ceremony for when I am home on leave in September, followed by a Hawaii Honeymoon.

I help where I can but I am always getting something or other wrong when I pick things for the big event. (I picked Goldfish as a reception appetizer; not appropriate I am told. Caryn picked everything else after that input from me. Maybe that was my plan, hee hee.) Caryn has been a rock of support for my tour here and while I was in Kosovo last year.

What an amazing lady. We get to talk a few days per week which really helps me here. Thanks Sweets. A favor from each of you. I would ask all of you to keep in mind these thoughts that I had yesterday while traveling to/from Al Kut. We have an amazing country that produces amazing young leaders. These young people make amazing life and death decision EVERY day here.

The elected and appointed civilian leadership of our Nation decided that we had a mission to do here and we do it with incredible confidence, precision and ability. Our troops are well trained, equipped, managed and in 99.99% of the cases the troops are instilled with a thorough and proper sense of right and wrong. In every sub-group of human beings there are a few bad apples which end up painting others badly.

Korman 3I see and work with these troops every day. All of you can be and should be proud of these Patriots and of those that wore the flag of our Nation before them. You may or may not agree with the Civilian Leadership's decisions to go to war. I can't think of a single reason why we shouldn't be supporting our troops sent to fight here every day of the week and twice on Sunday. What you see on TV and in the Newspaper is NOT reflective of the great things we are doing here. Don't let them get you down. I am here and see success EVERY day. I took this most amazing photo below and thought it was a great place to end. We have two more big elections here, October 15 and sometime in December. If we are going to get this right we must stay the course and continue to work towards democracy in this land. It is the right thing to do, I believe.
I'll do my very best to send another update next month to get back on track. Some have asked for an address and it appears below. I love to hear from you and knowing what is new in your life. Please do write to let me know. With all my best to you My Friends and Family.

Mike

Master Chief Michael J. Korman,
US Navy, Command Sergeant Major/Command Master Chief
Civilian Police Assistance Training Team (CPATT)Adnon Palace, Iraq,
APO, AE. 09316DSN: 318-239-7736MCI: 914-822-1199

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

Posted by joke du jour at 06:45 AM | Comments (1)

June 06, 2005

Dispatch from Iraq

Steve forwards another message he received from his brother Mike, in Iraq. (See previous messages.) 'Yesterday' refers to Saturday, June 4th.

Mike writes:

I'm back. I went into the city of Ramadi yesterday at about 1400... traveled in up-armored HMMWVs using MajGen Huck's Personal Security Detachment (PSD) - the PSD includes a minimum of 5 up-armored HMMWVs and almost a platoon sized element of Marines, well armed with 50 cals and more. I spent about an hour and a half with the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines Battalion Commander and some of his staff. That went very well. 1/5 is about as squared away as you can get in every regard. They're doing great.

Then came the hairy part of the trip. We (me and 2 of my majors) drove to Camp Ar Ramadi to link up with the Army, 2d Brigade Combat Team (2BCT) (a beefed up equivalent of our Regimental Combat Teams) for the trip into the city of Ramadi. 2BCT linked up with our gun trucks (PSD up-armored HMMWVs) with 3 Bradley Fighting Vehicles (armored tracked vehicles with 25mm cannons mounted in a turret) and an M1 Tank for the trip into town... their Deputy Commander and S-4 (Logistics Officer) joined up with us. We went to see the 1st Battalion of the 503rd Infantry (an infantry battalion) - spent several hours with them. Both visits were very productive!

It's good to be back from the trip. We were lucky... no IEDs, no small arms fire, no RPG attacks, but we were ready just in case. I saw some encouraging signs. Lot's of people out in the central part of town shopping. But once we were out of the central area, it was pretty deserted. But at least shops are opening and there appears to be a fair amount of economic activity.

I'm attaching a couple of pictures from today. You can't tell from the pictures, but it was 106 today! Hope the pictures make it through.

Hope all is well for you guys. Go Cards!

These are the pictures he sent; there are 6, total. Click for larger versions.



Mosque in Ramadi


Saturday shopping traffic

Another shot of Saturday traffic

A damaged building in Ramadi

Rural scene west of Ramadi

Our correspondent in the up-armored HMMWV

Posted by joke du jour at 06:37 AM | Comments (0)

May 31, 2005

Wounded Warriors Project

Via the Chicago Boyz, I learned about the Wounded Warriors Project. Had I known, I'd have posted this last Friday to accompany the Remember Them post. But better late than never:

The "Wounded Warrior" project seeks to assist those men and women of our armed forces who have been severely injured during the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere around the world. Many of the injuries are traumatic amputations, gunshot wounds, burns and blast injuries that will retire these brave warriors from military service. These wounded soldiers will return to civilian life minus one or more limbs, or with serious wounds or disfiguring scars, and will face greater challenges today obtaining assistance and finding opportunities that would enable them to provide for themselves and their families.

Posted by joke du jour at 07:00 PM

May 27, 2005

Remember them

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,


That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lt Col John McCrae, MD, Canadian Army (1872-1918)

Posted by joke du jour at 08:15 PM

May 16, 2005

A huge ammo dump

Steve forwards another message from his brother Mike in Iraq. (Mike's the gent who sent the pictures of the sandstorm at Al Asad.)

I spent several days over in Fallujah this week working with our units responsible for the city of Fallujah and the surrounding towns. I'm attaching some pictures of me with some captured enemy weapons and ammunition that they've found this past week. It's amazing how much we continue to dig up. This whole country is basically a huge ammunition dump!

Hope all is well.


These are thumbnails that link to full-size (1600 x 1200) images.






Posted by joke du jour at 08:06 PM

May 14, 2005

How'd you like to wake up to this?

A wall of sand traveling at 60 MPH.

Steve writes, "This is from my brother who is in Iraq." It's 15 images of a sand storm at Al Asad, Iraq on 4/26/2005; click for larger versions. (These are striking photos and very high-quality.)
























At this point? Running for cover.




This picture was taken 1 minute later and it's dark as night.

Posted by joke du jour at 02:00 PM

April 29, 2005

Meet Samir

This article appears at the River Front Times site. If I recall correctly, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch also did an article on this fellow last year (but I can't link it because it's in their "paid archives").

I punched Saddam"I Punched Saddam in the Mouth" Meet Samir, the St. Louis auto mechanic who pulled Saddam Hussein from his spider hole
BY CHAD GARRISON

"I was so angry," says Samir, who immigrated to St. Louis eleven years ago after fleeing Iraq. "I began cussing at him, calling him a motherf-cker, a son-of-a-bitch -- you name it. I told him I was Shiite from the south and was part of the revolution against him in 1991. I said he murdered my uncles and cousins. He imprisoned my father.

"All these years of anger, I couldn't stop. I tried to say the worst things I could. I told him if he were a real man he would have killed himself. I asked him: 'Why are you living in that dirty little hole, you bastard? You are a rat. Your father is a rat.'"

In Arabic, Saddam told Samir to shut up. And when Saddam called him a traitor, an enraged Samir silenced his prisoner with a flurry of quick jabs to the face.

(Pirate's Blog says, "Samir is hereby named BAMF of the Year.")

Posted by joke du jour at 08:03 PM

January 25, 2005

OH-58: Takes a lickin', keeps on tickin'

The person who sent these photos from Iraq wrote:

Here's one of our OH-58D Combat Scouts from Iraq. Needless to say, they got into a little hostile territory. This thing took hundreds of rounds and yet returned its crew back to base, including direct hits into the engine, transmission, control systems, avionics, flight computers, and both main and tail rotor. The 2-man crew sustained multiple injuries, but survived.

Images are thumbnails that link to full-size versions.
































Posted by joke du jour at 12:00 PM

January 13, 2005

Pictures from Afghanistan

Steve Rudolph sent these pictures that he received from H.W. Dick in Afghanistan. I'll join Steve in his sentiment: Thanks for the good work, guys. The images are thumbnails linking to larger versions.

More pix from Afghanistan and they're still accepting 'care' packages. Steve

-----Original Message-----

From: Dick, Herman LTC AED [mailto:Herman.Dick@tac01.usace.army.mil]
Sent: Tuesday, January 11, 2005 7:56 PM
To: RUDOLPH, STEVE P
Subject: RE: Hello from St. Louis

That would be great. I'm not sure the latest pictures you've seen. I'll include the last two sets. We appreciate the support. Go Rams.

Wayne


From: RUDOLPH, STEVE P
Sent: Wednesday, January 12, 2005 2:01 AM
To: Dick, Herman LTC AED
Subject: Hello from St. Louis

Herman,

I received the pictures you forwarded from Afghanistan compliments of a friend. I know you sent that some time ago (November 2004), but I was wondering if it's still OK to forward a 'care' package for the soldiers and children there? From your original e-mail, the address to forward packages is:

Herman W. Dick
Attn: TAC House
Afghanistan Engineer District
US Army Corps of Engineers
APO, AE 09356

Is this the correct address?

Thank you for your time and your service to our great country!






































































































Posted by joke du jour at 12:00 PM

November 24, 2004

US Army video distributions

Our contributor writes, "This site is run by the US Army and is a clearing house for video and news from the war zone. Go to www.DVIDSHUB.net. If you join, at no cost, you can have access to all of their videos."

[Speaking of the military, word is that the troops could use pre-paid phone cards. If you're interested in donating, see this site which is run by the DoD. - JdJ]

Posted by joke du jour at 10:33 AM