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May 06, 2005

Continuing Bill’s theme of Good News, Bad News…

First, the Good News. Last night I represented my Rotary Club at the Leavenworth High School JROTC Awards ceremony, where we sponsor an award… (d-uh). LHS has had a Corps of Cadets for 108 years, and was the*first* official JROTC program in the country – still going strong 88 years after the founding of the program. One of the things I *liked* about Leavenworth Public Schools is that I live across the street from a public school with a rifle range in the basement, and weapons and ammo stored there. And no one worries about it. More on *that* later.

Lots of STRAC*-looking (okay, there were a *few* for whom the uniform is *still* a mystery), well-behaved kids getting recognized for doing Good Things, from Most Improved This, Best That, etc. I got to hear the Theme from Star Wars played by the buglers of the Drum and Bugle Corps (amazing what you can do with a bugle), and a simply *excellent* performance by the Unarmed Drill Team.

We met two soon-to-be West Point Plebes, an AF Academy Doolie, and whatever the Coast Guard Academy calls a first year Midshipman. I lost count of the 3 and 4 year ROTC scholarship awardees, and we gave a standing ovation (initiated by spring-butt Yours Truly) to the 5 kids going directly into military service after they graduate this year. We heard about some of the projects the cadets worked on as a part of their 5500 hours of community service activity during the academic year. Some during class time, most before, after, and on weekends.

Rotary of course was not the only organization represented. The Lions, VFW, American Legion, Military Order of the World Wars, Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution, Daughters of the American Colonists, Optimists, Sons of Union Veterans, and probably some others I don’t remember. Via the American Legion I got to meet a rare bird… a holder of a two-star Combat Infantryman badge – a soldier who fought his way across Northern Europe, up and down the Korean peninsula, and in the A-Shau Valley.

It was long, but fun.

Now for the Bad News. Stupid General Officer decisions. While I can’t find a linkable story – one of the college ROTC programs in Missouri had a shooting accident on their indoor range, which led, I’m told but can’t verify, to the death of a student. Okay, things happen. In the service, when things like this happen, as Bill can attest, we stand down, examine the incident, and determine what, if any changes need to be made as a result. Often, the only change that needs to be made is to summarily execute some people who were not following established procedures. In other cases, the incident uncovers systemic problems that need to be addressed. You take the appropriate action, and then resume training.

Not in General Byrne’s TRADOC. Even though Cadet Command went in with a brief suggesting exactly that, retrain, re-emphasize, and restart – GEN Byrnes has said JROTC cadets can’t shoot anymore.

Wrong message General. Set aside the fact that we’re at war, this is the wrong message to send regardless. I.am.baffled. Simply Wrong. Rumors of the NRA trying to weigh in to get the decision changed are floating around. GEN Byrnes hands over TRADOC to LTG Wallace this summer. LTG Wallace is the current Commander of the Combined Arms Center here at Fort Leavenworth, and commanded V Corps during the March Upcountry. I wouldn’t bother with GEN Byrnes, I’d wait until LTG Wallace assumes the duties. Note to NRA: I’ll finally buy that Life Membership if you go after this aggressively and succeed.

Time for some letter-writing to the Congressinal delegation. I haven't bothered them in, oh, weeks.

*STRAC= STRategic Army Command, one of the several incarnations of what is now called Forces Command, FORSCOM. Back in the day of STRAC, spit shined boots and laquered helmet liners, blood-drawing creases in starched khakis and fatigues were the order of the day - and "STRAC" evolved from all that as a way of saying "Squared Away".

I date myself.